36th Parliament, 1st Session

L111 - Mon 21 Oct 1996 / Lun 21 Oct 1996













































The House met at 1333.




Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): With the passing of Laura Sabia, Canada has lost one of its most influential citizens. Laura, as we all knew her in St Catharines, was an outspoken advocate for women in politics and public life. Her determination and persistence, her willingness to offend the powerful and to be outrageous to make a point brought her to the leadership of the movement to have women assume positions of importance and influence in Canada. While others tiptoed around controversial issues, Laura took them on with willingness and glee, raising the ire of her opponents and cheers from her supporters.

When an issue affecting women's rights was before the House of Commons or the Legislative Assembly, we could count on Laura to be watching from the gallery, offering encouragement to those with whom she agreed and biting criticism to those who stood in the way of progress for women. Indeed, my last conversation with Laura took place in the Speaker's gallery of this House.

As chair of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, chair of the Ontario Committee on the Status of Women, a radio talk show host, a newspaper columnist, school trustee or city councillor, Laura Sabia displayed courage and commitment and stirred debate on the significant issues of the day.

Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Laura personally were aware of her compassion and her kindness, characteristics often masked by her public persona. Recipient of the Order of Canada and an honourary degree from Brock University, Laura Sabia will be remembered with fondness and admiration for many years to come by those of us who knew her and by her family and friends.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): All of us recognize that this week is the week we're going to face the Days of Action sponsored by the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto and the Metro Network for Social Justice. All of us in this House, as democrats, recognize the right of the populace to assemble to petition for change in government policy.

The government House leader and others in the government have complained that this Days of Action protest will make it difficult for people to get the services they pay for. That statement ignores the fact that the Harris government is eroding those very services that taxpayers pay for. Classroom education, health care, child care and social assistance are all suffering as a result of the actions of this government.

The Harris counterrevolution is tearing at the very heart of the social fabric of Ontario; it is aimed at destroying the sense of community in our province. The purpose, of course, of the government doing this is to pay for its tax scheme.

The Harris government is disrupting the lives of many, many Ontarians; it's polarizing Ontario society. It's time that Ontario came together to begin to rebuild its sense of community as a caring society that has made Ontario strong economically and socially, that has made this province a good place to live and work.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): As the parliamentary assistant for small business, I rise today to inform members of the Legislature that this week is National Small Business Week. Sponsored by boards of trade and chambers of commerce from across the country, this week recognizes the important contributions of small business to the Canadian economy.

Small business is vital to our economy. In Ontario alone, small business accounts for about 98% of all business and hires 87% of today's new employment. That's why our government has acted quickly to clear the path for small business and create a competitive environment for job creation. Since taking office last year, we've listened to small business concerns and have worked with them to reduce taxes, implement fair labour laws, eliminate unnecessary regulation, develop export markets, improve access to capital and create jobs.

The results of our efforts are obvious. Ontario has created over 150,000 new jobs since last year, and most of them are in the small business sector.

As National Small Business Week gets under way, I encourage all members to participate in the many activities happening in their area and to recognize the outstanding achievements of Ontario's entrepreneurs.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): The Canada Safety Council has designated this week, October 20 to 26, as National School Safety Week. Here in Ontario, the School Bus Operators' Association of Ontario is recognizing this week as School Bus Safety Week, since school buses are an extension of the classroom. Many school bus carriers are sponsoring special school assemblies, mall displays and public service announcements.

In my own riding, the joint transportation committee of the two Essex county school boards is a driving force to improve school bus safety and has collected over 30,000 signatures to give the school bus law teeth.

I'm proud to be able to bring forward my private member's Bill 78 for second reading debate on November 28 to strengthen the law protecting school children. I am honoured to have the support of the Essex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board, the Essex County Board of Education and the Ontario school bus association, as well as numerous other boards, municipalities and other Ontario organizations. I ask all members for their support on November 28.

Remember, when you see a school bus with its lights flashing and safety arm down, you must stop. You cannot proceed until the arm is retracted and the lights stop flashing. The lives of our children depend on it.



Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On Friday this past week, representatives of a number of faith communities issued a joint statement, Call for Social Justice, in advance of the Metro Days of Action, October 22 to 27 this year. They stated: "...we have come together with a common ethical and moral concern.... We have joined together to declare that every person in the province of Ontario has fundamental rights which no government may justifiably extinguish."

The statement which they released recognizes "the need for our province to live within its means and to put its fiscal house in order," but states, "We cannot allow an undue burden to fall on the impoverished, unemployed and marginalized, the young or the challenged in our society."

"We believe in the right to open and democratic government, scrutiny of government actions, due process of the law, full parliamentary debate and consultation with affected groups on all legislative proposals and fundamental changes in law or rights.

"We believe in the right to receive adequate social services and assistance.

"We believe in the right to freedom of expression and opinion without fear of reprisal.

"We believe in the right of all citizens to adequate and affordable housing.

"We believe in the right of every woman to a full and equal place in society.

"We believe in the right to universally accessible, comprehensive and confidential health care."

The statement concludes by calling "upon the present government of Ontario to acknowledge and respect these rights," in particular urging "the government not to resolve the fiscal deficit by creating a social deficit in its place."

I, for one, endorse wholeheartedly that statement.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I proudly stand in the House today to mark the start of National White Ribbon Against Pornography Week, also known as WRAP. The campaign runs from October 20 to 27.

White ribbons have been distributed to all members of the House. I request that they consider wearing same, showing their opposition to pornography in our community.

The effects of pornography on our children threaten the security and health of our citizens and families.

The White Ribbon Campaign against pornography is promoted by the Catholic Women's League of Canada and 900 members located in Cambridge. They are very concerned about the increased availability of hard-core pornography being distributed on the Internet. It is a growing problem and must be addressed. The focus this year is "Pornography Hurts."

I urge all members of the House to support National WRAP Week and its principles.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'd like to join the member for Brampton North to remind the House that this is Small Business Week in Ontario.

We all acknowledge the major role small business plays in job creation and economic expansion. Small business has dominated the personal service, retail and primary industries sectors. I encourage the government to persevere in its commitment and efforts towards helping small business.

Small Business Week is an opportune time to remind the government that last week it was reprimanded by the Provincial Auditor for its unacceptable corporate tax collection procedures. According to the auditor the government is losing tens of millions of dollars annually due to the lack of staff needed for audits of the growing number of small businesses. Just last week the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism took much pride in how much the government has done for small businesses. But let me point out that small entrepreneurs paying their just share of corporate taxes are concerned that the government's focus on cuts is unfairly placing them at a competitive disadvantage against small business entrepreneurs who neglect to meet tax obligations.

It appears that the government is not as small business oriented as it would like the business community to believe. The government's focus on slashing and burning is not providing a boost to business but a boost for tax evasion and delinquencies.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Sexual harassment affects many workplaces, and ours is not exempt. One of the issues we look at in sexual harassment is the fact that it affects so fundamentally the people who are victims of this kind of treatment.

One such woman was Theresa Vince. Theresa Vince was murdered last year in her place of employment -- Sears in Chatham, Ontario -- by her sexual harasser, who then took his own life.

It is a very serious issue for us to understand, the pain of a community, the pain of fellow employees, the pain of family, when a situation that had been clearly identified by Theresa Vince was not resolved and she was left alone with her sexual harasser. This is an extreme case of what happens when sexual harassment is allowed to take its way in the workplace.

Theresa's family and friends are here in the gallery today. They worked very hard in the last few weeks collecting signatures on two petitions, which it will be my honour to bring to the Legislature later this afternoon, with more than 10,500 signatures requesting an inquest and an inquiry and requesting a special committee to look at this whole issue of sexual harassment and to work at finding ways to resolve this problem.

I think today we all join in our sympathy for the family of Theresa Vince and can show that by taking action on these petitions.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I rise today to recognize the achievements of Laura Sabia, who passed away on Thursday after a 19-year battle with Parkinson's disease. She was 80 years old.

Ms Sabia will best be remembered as a pathbreaker in the pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for women. She was instrumental in the creation of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1967. She was also the co-founder of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and served as its national chair from 1969 to 1973, a time of considerable progress for Canadian women. In recognition of her efforts, Ms Sabia was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1974 and received the Governor General's Award in 1983 for her role in the famous "persons" case.

When we reflect upon the gains made by Canadian women over the years, they are due in no small part to the tireless efforts of Laura Sabia. I ask the House to join me today in offering our sincerest condolences to Laura Sabia's daughters Maureen, Colleena and Mary-Michele, son Michael, and granddaughters Kate and Laura.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to introduce some guests we have today in the Speaker's gallery.

First of all, we have the Honourable Paul McEwen, who is the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia. Welcome.

Will you also please welcome Mr Gregory L. Johnson, Consul General of the United States of America. Welcome.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent, and I believe we have unanimous consent, to pay a tribute to the member for Nickel Belt on the occasion of his 25th anniversary in the House.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I guess we have unanimous consent then? Agreed.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm very privileged to be the representative of the Liberal Party who gets an opportunity to pay tribute to the member for Nickel Belt, Floyd Laughren as we all know him, on his 25 years of service to the people of Nickel Belt and the people of the province of Ontario.

When we think of it, his being elected in October 1971, this is indeed remarkable, particularly when we look at the fact that we've had three different political parties govern in the province of Ontario and we've had several what you would call waves or tides that have come in and come out. Floyd Laughren, the member for Nickel Belt, has survived those, and the reasons are quite obvious to those of us who sit in this assembly and to the residents of the riding of Nickel Belt who have returned him in so many elections.

If we think of it, once again we would note that it is unlikely that New Democrats alone would be able to send Mr Laughren to this House. He has been able to gather the support of people of other political parties who have ignored perhaps the party label, and of course of independent-minded people who have selected him as their representative.

His attributes are many. He is known in this House as an extremely determined and committed individual who has persevered in those issues in which he has been particularly interested. I know that those who are involved in the workforces in the mines and in other extraction industries in the Nickel Belt area, in the Sudbury area, are grateful to him for raising many of the issues which were not so popular in years gone by, including the environmental issues and those involving occupational health and safety.


Floyd Laughren is a man of modest background. He doesn't come from a rich background or a powerful background, and yet he rose to the position of Deputy Premier of the province of Ontario and Minister of Finance. But all of us in this House who have sat with him over the years have recognized that he did not change in his demeanour or his attitude towards others in society. He was still the Floyd Laughren that we knew when he was first elected and still the Floyd Laughren that we know as a friend and colleague.

Floyd also has the distinction of being liked by people on all sides of the House. That's difficult, particularly when you are as arduous a debater as Floyd has been over the years. He has been hard-hitting in his criticism of successive governments and not easy on the opposition when they were critical of the policies of the government with which he was involved. Yet through this exchange in the House, in this assembly and in other places, he has maintained friendships with many of us who sit in this assembly at this time.

He is, I think I can say, an unapologetic socialist, though the New Democrats now use the terminology "social democrat." Over the years I have known him, Floyd has been an unapologetic socialist. He has not yet seen Inco nationalized. However, where there is life, there is hope. As I always noted, I don't think that everything is being done at Falconbridge that he had hoped would be done at Falconbridge, because there's still something being done in Norway. But his accomplishments far outweigh those things which he was unable to achieve either in government or opposition, and the number one accomplishment is maintaining integrity in a time and in a place where that's often difficult to do. But he is a man of integrity.

He is a personal friend of mine and has been for a number of years. Members of this assembly may not know, but we would be involved in some rather vociferous and energetic exchanges in this House and then meet after question period to travel to a sports event in one location or another. For the public to see on their television sets or to read in the newspapers the account of the exchange in the House, they would believe they were two arch enemies confronting one another, but that of course is the nature of the individual that we have with us today.

The last thing I would say is that Floyd has always fought hard for his causes and has been a partisan, but he has avoided the cheap shots which sometimes come with politics at all levels. He has kept the debate on a very high level. He has been a class act over the years and continues to be.

I had the privilege of attending his 20th anniversary dinner in Sudbury in October 1991, a most enjoyable event attended by many of different political backgrounds, of different social backgrounds. He was suitably roasted, I think until almost 12 o'clock in the evening, at that time. He is going to be toasted again. He's not toast yet. That may come some day, but he's not toast yet. But he will be toasted and honoured this Saturday at the Steelworkers' hall in Sudbury by so many of his friends and colleagues. We wish him well on that evening. I will have the opportunity to attend that, barring a snowstorm in northern Ontario, and I look forward to the opportunity, as I know many would, to pay tribute to him.

Lastly, an observation I once made of Floyd on one of his anniversaries -- I can't remember which one it was -- which I think is probably one of the greatest compliments one can pay to a person. That is that there are no pretensions with Floyd Laughren; what you see is what you get.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Oh, no.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): "Oh, no." You should be saying that, Floyd.

I've known Floyd Laughren for about 23 years. I knew him about two years before I was elected to this place in 1977. I've known him so long in this setting I never did really know if he ever -- did you ever have a real job?

In 1975 and 1976, I was perhaps one of maybe a dozen people in this province who subscribed to the Hansard debates of the Legislature. At that time you could go to the Queen's Printer and have the Hansard debates sent to you, and as an experiment while I was practising law I would from time to time leaf through these Hansard debates. I would notice how often Floyd would speak. He had a sister-in-law who lived about three or four houses from me in Manotick and I would visit with him socially from time to time, so I thought I would track his performance in the Legislature. Floyd was absolutely astounded that anybody in this province would ever read Hansard and, number two, that they would notice that he hadn't spoken for a period of six to eight months during that period of time. He was most embarrassed about that. Notwithstanding that, he has made up for it in spades on many, many occasions around here, as you all know.

Floyd has in my view exemplified what a parliamentarian should be all about. I believe that far too often we see members of the Legislature who feel that their loyalty to their constituency, their loyalty to their party, encompasses their whole life. But I believe that there are a number of individuals who come to this place who also feel a very important third loyalty, and that's to the institution of our Parliament here in Queen's Park and our parliamentary system.

So it was not surprising to me that when Floyd became the Treasurer and the Deputy Premier for the province, when he was asked a really good question in the House, he would come across to us in opposition at that time and say how much he enjoyed that particular question, and he would try to give you a fair answer if in fact it was a testing question. Not only that, but I have noticed that when we did get into a skirmish here in the Parliament of Ontario Floyd would often take a position to protect the institution rather than just protecting the position of his party or himself. I find that very important for the longevity of this institution and for the democracy of the people of Ontario.

Floyd is a family man. I've met his family. If you can believe it, his wife is even left of him. I've referred to her not as Pink Floyd or Mrs Pink Floyd but in other ways, as Floyd knows. That is a personal joke.

Floyd has maintained a camaraderie with other members of the Legislature from all parties past and present and is part of the alumni of this august institution. I hope not only that he will continue on in his position now as MPP, but that when he retires from this place, if ever, he would continue his contact with all members of the Legislature.

I probably exemplify just about everyone in what they think of Floyd. Floyd, I've enjoyed your participation in the parliamentary process. I believe it has been done with integrity. I believe you've represented your party well. I believe you've represented your constituents well. But most of all I've enjoyed your friendship, as many other members of this Legislature have as well.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I will keep my remarks short because I know the member for Nickel Belt will want to have something to say about this occasion.

We need to recognize that the member for Nickel Belt has quite a diverse reputation. At home he is known as a good constituency person. I first got to know him in the party back in the 1970s when I was a university student, and at that time he went by the name Pink Floyd. I understand he's changed somewhat. He's known in the Legislature as a tough critic who has an excellent sense of humour, and he's apparently known to the Toronto Sun as the Legislature's sexiest man. So you can see that in 25 years he's covered a lot of ground.

I think the secret of Floyd is that he treats everyone with a great deal of respect. He treats his constituents with a great deal of respect; he treats his adversaries in his constituency with a great deal of respect. Even when he comes here -- and I've seen him give profound tongue-lashings both in opposition and in government to opposing members -- he always takes the time later to say to folks, "Nothing personal intended, just don't say those things to me next time."

He almost became Speaker of this House, and I'm sure the government is happy that he did not become Speaker of the House. It would have cost a fortune to have the length of the gowns changed and all those things dealt with. There may have been other reasons as well, but that certainly stands out.

Floyd, I believe, has the respect of all members of this Legislature, in part because he has shown tremendous longevity here but also because he is someone who really knows how this place works and he treats this place with a great deal of respect. He knows that this Legislature is not part of the trappings of democracy, it is the core of democracy and that what happens here is important for everyone in the province. He's exhibited that through 25 years.

He's seen tides come and tides go. He has seen minority governments of one stripe or another. He has seen unexpected majority governments come and go, and he has a lot of advice for those who care to listen on the longevity of tidal waves or waves of any kind.

He has dealt with almost every critic portfolio that one could have in this Legislature. He is someone who has dealt with the most difficult financial issues, both in opposition and in government, and he's someone who has dealt with the most basic of community issues, both in opposition and in government.

He has never forgotten his roots. Though he became deputy leader of this caucus, though he became Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, he has never forgotten the people at home nor the people who send him here at each election. I think that tells you where his heart is and what he believes in most firmly.

Floyd Laughren, I suspect, will be another of those elected representatives who, if he ever does choose to leave this place -- and I suspect it will be his choosing, not anyone else's -- will probably write a book and he will of course --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Pink Floyd on the Wall.

Mr Hampton: Someone has just remarked the title of the book might be Pink Floyd on the Wall. Of course any book that he might choose to write would treat us to a great deal of humour, because he has a tremendous sense of humour. I suspect that as I've watched him make notes in this place, he's actually been writing that book for some time, or writing the anecdotes for that book for some time.

We want the member for Nickel Belt to enjoy his celebrations this weekend. We understand that this celebration usually raises a great deal of money for his riding association and so we want him to enjoy a particularly successful celebration this weekend.

On behalf of everyone in our caucus, we say to you, Floyd, that we very much respect and admire the work you have done for 25 years. We especially like your sense of humour. Floyd does not tell "short" jokes; he tells sheep jokes. If anyone on the government side has not been treated to his assortment of these, you really are missing a treat.

We admire the work you've done. We admire your sense of humour and your sense of respect for this place. All of us are very honoured to say that we are your colleagues. Thank you very much.

Mr Laughren: It's always difficult responding to these kinds of things. I just wonder where you all were on that vote for Speaker. The only person whom I know stayed with me, even after my name was off the ballot, was the Premier, and I appreciate that very much.

The Speaker: Order.


Mr Laughren: I want first of all to thank the three people who've spoken.

Jim Bradley has indeed been a friend for a very long time, and it is true that we have attended the occasional sporting event in the evening. I wanted to pick up on something he said about being a socialist versus a social democrat. Stephen Lewis, in his inevitable fashion, when I drifted a bit from a leftist position in caucus one day, said that I had changed from being a rugged socialist to a ragged one. I think that's what you were trying to say.

To Norm Sterling, the member for Carleton -- I mean, for Norm Sterling to wonder out loud whether or not I'd ever had a real job? I just say to him that anybody who, before they get elected or even after they get elected, reads Hansard has never had a real life.

On a more serious note, it does seem strange to have been here for 25 years, and I of course owe a great deal to a lot of people. One does not do this by oneself. My family comes first, and they are here with me today: my wife, Jeanette, and my daughter, Tannys, and my son, Joshua. And of course the good voters in Nickel Belt, contrary to what Jim Bradley says, are New Democrats. Also, over the years my caucus mates, and in particular the leaders, every time have been very supportive. I didn't support any of them, but I was always surprised at how much support they in turn gave me. The present leader is no exception to that, and I appreciate that very much.

There are lots of unsung heroes in politics. People don't think of politics and heroes in the same breath these days, but I must say that my constituency office staff and my legislative staff have been absolutely wonderful and are second to none anywhere in this province.

There are other unsung heroes, and that's at the local level. I could not have kept returning to this place if it wasn't for what we call our local riding executive. I'm sure all of you understand that better than people outside the political process, that it's your riding executive, particularly your riding president, who keep things moving and make things happen and make sure, to the best of their ability, that we return here to Queen's Park.

Finally in the list of unsung heroes are the people who make this place a good place to work, and that's the table officers, who I think get little enough credit for the work they do, and beyond that, the clerks of committees. I want to tell you that I have been saved from making bad decisions as Chair of committees for many years more often than I care to confess by the quality of the clerks we have who help us chair committees at this place. They deserve a lot more credit than they ever get.


I obviously like politics or I would not have been here this long. I like public administration. Quite frankly, I like politicians as well. I like their commitment, I like their toughness and I like their scrappiness. I appreciate that very much among my friends and my adversaries here as well. All of that doesn't guarantee 25 years, but I can remember when I was in the States back when committees used to travel a bit -- which broadened our minds a great deal, I might add -- I ran into an elderly senator. I didn't ask him this question. Somebody else asked him, "To what do you attribute your longevity?" He said, "Two things, my son." People called you "my son" in those days.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Jesse Helms?

Mr Laughren: Yes, it might have been Jesse Helms, although that's the first time I've ever said his name out loud and I promise never to again. Anyway, he said, "You need two things for longevity: grey hair and haemorrhoids." The person wasn't going to let well enough alone and said: "I don't get it. Why?" He said, "You need the grey hair for always having that look of distinction, and of course you need the haemorrhoids for always having a look of concern."

Interjection: What about you, Floyd?

Mr Laughren: I'm halfway there.

I have enjoyed representing the constituency and the people in the riding. I've enjoyed this chamber very much as well, because it's not always what it appears on the outside. I've enjoyed it in opposition and in government. It's more difficult in government but also a lot more challenging and a lot more fun. I look forward to enjoying it again some day.

I must say that politics has been a fascinating career, full of frustrations, but a lot of good humour too. It was funny that someone mentioned about writing a book and writing out anecdotes. I haven't done that, but there are some anecdotes that stay in my mind. I remember one afternoon when the debate was droning on -- "droning" is the only appropriate word I could use -- and Elie Martel, the former member for Sudbury East, was in full flight; and Elie could be in full flight, as you know. He wrapped up his speech by saying, "So, Mr Speaker, what I'm saying to these rascals over there" -- it was a Tory government at that time; some things never change. He said, "In summary, what you people over there are doing is whistling upstream." Jim Breithaupt, who was a wonderfully funny Liberal member from Kitchener, leaned forward and said, "Elie, is that anything like rowing in the dark?"

There has been lots of fun in this place. I've enjoyed it very much and I want to thank you all very much for your sentiments today; they mean a lot to me. Since I have a question during question period today, no more Mr Nice Guy.

The Speaker: At this point in time I'm supposed to tell everyone in the Legislature that I'll get this Hansard and send the appropriate copies to the affected member. I promise to do that. I promise to send them to Mr Laughren, and I may add a few notes of my own on the back. Thank you very much for your time.

Mr Cooke: Send a copy to Norm.

The Speaker: The member says a copy to the member for Carleton as well. I promise I'll do that as well.

I might add to the member for Nickel Belt, it's been a great pleasure for me as well to sit in this place in opposition to you, specifically as a critic. When I was a critic to you as finance minister for a very brief period of time, I was halfway there; I just didn't have the grey hair. That was the difficulty when I was dealing with the finance minister.

Mr Laughren: You're halfway there, too.

The Speaker: Yes.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Health. While it appears today that you may have bought a temporary reprieve from the crisis that you have created for patients in the province of Ontario, we are extremely concerned that it is the patients themselves who will end up paying the price for your incompetent management.

An OMA staff member was quoted as saying that in order to pay for your deal, patients might find a limit placed on the number of times certain tests or other procedures could be performed in a year and that they would be obliged to pay for certain services themselves. It's quite clear from the statements of the OMA today that they believe this is the direction that will be taken in order to find the savings needed.

Minister, you now have to find millions and millions to pay for this deal. We want you to provide an assurance today that it will not be paid for by a lessening of patient care. We want you to guarantee today that every service currently covered by OHIP will continue to be covered by OHIP and that patients will never be forced to pay out of their own pockets for the services they now receive from OHIP. Will you give that guarantee?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member for the question. I think the real saving that we've committed to looking at with the Ontario Medical Association over the next weeks and months -- and I remind all members that this is an interim agreement, that we do not have a great many of the details worked out between the parties and that, specific to the question that's been asked, more details will be available as we move into the month of December and by December 31, leading to a fuller agreement in January.

The real saving, if you look at the tentative agreement, which has yet to be agreed to by the full council of the OMA, is the underserviced area program. We spend millions of dollars moving the patients to the doctors, and the agreement says that we will now move the doctors to the patients. There's a great deal of money to be saved there and that money will be reinvested in front-line services like doctors and other providers.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, it was months ago when you made it absolutely clear that you were prepared to find savings in the health care system by limiting the services that would be paid for by OHIP and indeed by putting new user fees in place. I take you back to Bill 26, which you set up in such a way that it would be the bureaucrats in OHIP and you, the Minister of Health, who would be able to decide what treatments would be paid for by OHIP and what treatments would not be paid for by OHIP. That's what we are now facing in Ontario.

We are facing a situation where it is the dollars you need to find that are going to determine what kind of care patients get. It will be decisions that are driven by the financial bottom line; it will not be decisions about patient care, it will not be decisions being made by doctors treating patients in their offices or in hospitals. People in this province have a right to know what price they will pay for the deal that you are prepared to make. What services do you intend to delist, to stop paying for? What services will patients have to pay for themselves?

Hon Mr Wilson: The parties have agreed to do some modernization or tightening of the schedule of benefits, but I don't think people should automatically jump to the conclusion that the honourable member is jumping to. Dr David Naylor, for example, puts out an atlas every two years and he talks about practice patterns in the province: where caesareans are done more often in one part of the province than the other, where time taken to perform certain procedures and tests is quite variant throughout the province.

In the tightening of the schedule, we'll be looking to Dr David Naylor and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and their recommendations, and that may require greater patient education as well as provider education to find savings in that way. I've set a couple of parameters --

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

Hon Mr Wilson: I've set a couple of parameters around these discussions from my point of view, and that is, in no way can either party violate the Canada Health Act and in no way can we tamper with services and tests that are deemed medically necessary.


Mrs McLeod: Minister, I don't believe you can camouflage this by talking about saving millions and millions of dollars with something you want to describe as practice patterns. This is about delisting health care; this is about less patient care. That's what this is all about. Beyond that, we are concerned that it is about less care for patients in hospitals as well, because it was just weeks ago when you made it very clear that you would be able to find dollars for physicians by taking savings out of hospital budgets.

We are already seeing the effect of the savings you have taken out of hospital budgets: We are seeing hospital closures, we are seeing thousands of nurses laid off, we are seeing less patient care in our hospitals now. We need your assurance today, an absolute assurance, that to pay for this deal you will not be taking more dollars out of hospital budgets, we will not see more nurses laid off, we will not see even less care in our hospitals for patients in this province.

Hon Mr Wilson: I was trying to explain, and I thought the honourable member had it correct in her first couple of questions, that the doctors and the government are going to find savings within our budgets to offset the 6.5% holdback that was in effect and that now will come off November 1. That's along the lines that alternative payment plans save money, integrated delivery services save money, primary care reform, and eventually getting rid of the underserviced area program in southern Ontario and all along the 401 corridor where towns and cities are applying right now. Those grants won't be necessary after we do the billing number measures.

I also want to challenge the member. Patient care is not decreasing in our excellent hospitals or in our hospital system in this province, and the honourable member has no evidence whatsoever to do that sort of fearmongering in her questions.

The Speaker: New question.

Mrs McLeod: It's hard to believe the Minister of Health thinks that laying off 15,000 nurses doesn't reduce patient care.

The Speaker: Can you tell me who your question's to?


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is to the Minister of Education. Last year the royal commission on education released one of the most in-depth studies and probably one of the most widely agreed-upon visions of education in some long time in our province. Last week, one of the co-commissioners made this observation about your actions as minister. He wrote, and I quote, "Snobelen's approach is a virtual guarantee of failure." He also said that your statements "can be made only by someone who is either monumentally ignorant or deliberately trying to `create a crisis.'"

I ask you, when you now talk about making $1 billion more in cuts to education on top of your devastating $400 million in cuts, are you being monumentally ignorant or merely trying to create another crisis?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's not in order. I understand that you read it into the record from the letter, and I let it go. But then you asked him directly, and that's not in order.

Mrs McLeod: I will rephrase the question. Minister, when you talk about making $1 billion in new cuts on top of your devastating $400 million in cuts already made, are you simply monumentally unaware of the impact of your cuts and what $1 billion more in cuts would do to education or are you just trying to create another crisis?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Neither.

Mrs McLeod: I'm surprised that the minister didn't attempt to explain why his cuts are not really affecting children in the classroom, which is traditional for him. I think it's important that if the minister is not monumentally unaware of the effect of his $400 million in cuts, he should become aware of them. He should be aware of a survey that was done by 78 boards and what they found. They found that 46 boards have already cut their elementary teaching staff, that 25 boards have cut junior kindergarten, that seven boards have reduced or eliminated library resources, that 16 boards have cut elementary music, phys ed programs or family studies.

Minister, when you see this kind of damage that has been caused by $400 million in cuts, how can you continue to say that $1 billion more in cuts will not be devastating to classroom education?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm surprised at the line of questioning. I think the Leader of the Opposition knows that our reduction of about 1.8% of the operating costs in education last year should have, could have been met by reductions in costs outside of the classroom. The former Liberal cabinet minister John Sweeney, in a commission that was put together by the previous government, found that 47% of our $13.6-billion education system was spent outside of the classroom.

I remain committed and this government remains committed to having a system of education in Ontario that is more accountable, of higher quality and more affordable because, as I have told the Leader of the Opposition before on many occasions, we are not willing to send a bill for education to the students. We believe we should pay for it out of the operating revenues.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, anybody who has bothered to find out the impact of your cuts on classroom education has condemned the cuts, whether it is the former commissioners of the royal commission, whether it is teachers or whether it is parents. The head of the parent council, somebody you appointed, has said that what we really desperately need in our schools are spellers and good math books and effective teachers. The need for books and the need for teachers are there because of your cuts and the way your cuts have hit classroom education. In the one year that you've held this office, the number of students in Ontario has gone up by 19,000 and your cuts have taken 1,750 teachers out of the system. I think even you can figure out what that means in terms of more students in every classroom.

I ask you again, how can you possibly say that your cuts are not hurting kids? How can you possibly consider another billion dollars in cuts to education?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I will just again say to the Leader of the Opposition, as I've said on many occasions in this House before -- I want to underline this again for the Leader of the Opposition -- that this government is committed to increasing and enhancing the quality of education young people have in the province.

If the Leader of the Opposition chooses to look at all the studies that have been done over the last 15 years on education in this province, she will find that there is ample room to make reductions in the cost while enhancing the quality of education, and that is the commitment of this government. It has not changed over the last 15 months. It will not change. We are going to have a more accountable, a higher quality but a more affordable system of education in the province. That is our commitment.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Health. I find it interesting that the government promised in the Common Sense Revolution that health care and education wouldn't be cut, but that's exactly what's being cut and that's exactly what the issues are today.

You have announced that you have some sort of tentative agreement with the OMA regarding physicians' services. We note when we read the fine print that there is a $3.8-billion cap. We know from talking to physicians that utilization of the system has gone up. There are now 700,000 more people in Ontario and there are 140,000 more people over the age of 65 in Ontario, which means there is a greater demand for physicians' services, yet the money has not changed.

In view of the fact that the demand for services is going up but the money has not changed, does this mean that we will see at the end of the year physicians who, once they have reached their caps, will say, "That's it; I'm not practising any more. I'm taking a holiday"? Does this mean we're going to see longer and longer waiting lists for people who need health care? Is this what your agreement amounts to?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): No, not at all.


Mr Hampton: I am glad the minister could give that assurance, because people will be watching. People are already finding that it is taking longer and longer to get the surgery they need and it is taking longer and longer to get the hospital bed they need because of the activities of this Minister of Health, so they'll be watching.

One of the other options for you, when physicians reach their cap, to take money out of the system -- which is what you must do -- is to delist services. Can you guarantee people across this province that they will not be paying out of their pockets for health care services that they need and that have been paid for by OHIP in the past?

Hon Mr Wilson: I think the honourable member interchanges the word "caps" with "thresholds." I will just say, with respect to the agreement, that we agreed to discuss thresholds as we move into a fuller agreement in January. The fact of the matter, as I've said, is that we will be looking to the experts over the next period of time. Nothing has even been put on the table with respect to medical services and tests right now, and I assure you that's the case. We'll be looking at modernizing and tightening the fee schedule and we will be guided by the experts in that process. Nobody can violate the Canada Health Act and -- the honourable member said it in his own question -- we have to ensure that people receive medically necessary services. That's what guides these discussions.

Mr Hampton: The Minister of Health misses an important piece of this picture. This government has enough money to give the president of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce what will amount to a $162,000-a-year give-back in taxes. They've got that amount of money and they've got enough money, I gather, to give every other bank president in the province a fairly hefty tax break.

Yet the inevitable outcome of this so-called agreement is that people in Ontario who need health care services will see one of three things. They will see a delisting of health care services, which means they will have to pay out of their pockets, and we'll be watching very closely for that; or they will see physicians work until they believe they have essentially reached their threshold, in which case they will go on holidays; or they will see this minister take more money out of hospitals to pay the bill. Either way, the people of Ontario lose. Either way, this government has more money to give to its wealthy friends and less money for health care.

Can you guarantee (1) that you will not be delisting services and (2) that we will not see longer waiting lists for health care services? Because you haven't guaranteed them yet.

Hon Mr Wilson: I don't know what bank presidents have to do with the question and the topic at hand. At the end of the day, the health care budget in this province has not been cut one penny. That's in spite of the fact of the cut of more than $2 billion from the federal Liberal government.

Secondly, the winners in this agreement are the patients of Ontario. The patients of Ontario win because doctors will now be going to communities where they're most needed. That saves money, it makes the system more efficient and it's what the patients of Ontario have been crying out for for many years. You've got a lot of gall given that you did nothing to solve that problem in your five years in office, and neither did the previous government. We've made a major step forward in concert with the Ontario Medical Association to better serve patients in this province. I'm darned proud of the accomplishments of this government and I'm darned proud of the Ontario Medical Association and this agreement.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is for the Minister of Health as well. It could only be a Conservative Minister of Health who would cheer a $162,000 tax cut for bank presidents who make over $3 million already and then throw hundreds of nurses out of work and call that progress in health care. Only a Conservative Minister of Health could brag about that.

Since the Minister of Health is so sure that this can all be easily managed, I wonder if he would take the $700-million contingency fund he had set aside to deal with physician problems, since he doesn't need that now, since this can all be handled by modernizing and laying off nurses, and agree that should go back into the hospitals where it came from? Because there are a lot of communities that are very worried about what is happening in their hospitals.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member must feel very isolated in this world when even the nurses aren't arguing that $17.7 billion isn't enough to spend on health care. You find me another jurisdiction in the world where they spend more money per person on health care than the province of Ontario and I'd be happy to talk to you further about it.

The first investments -- and it's important that we stress this -- that we made as a government and the largest investments in the history of health care to this point have been in nurses: $170 million for 4,400 nursing and home care jobs in this province. Last week, the Premier and I announced expansion of the breast cancer screening program. That's 30 more sites with specially trained nurses and new jobs. Dialysis services: For the most part, the people who run the dialysis clinics are nurses and people who help nurses.

Every announcement we've made to date in the last 16 months since being in office has been for nurses except with two announcements, and that was the emergency on-call $70-an-hour fee to keep 70 emergency rooms open in rural and northern Ontario and the direct contracts we did for communities like the communities you represent, the 21 communities' direct contracts for physicians. Otherwise, everything we've done, whether it be cardiac surgery, more money for high-growth hospitals --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Health.

Mr Hampton: I asked the Minister of Health a simple question. He said in the earlier question that this could all be handled by modernizing the system, so I suggested to him that if he thinks he can do that, then the $700-million contingency fund should go back into some of those hospitals that are being desperately cut. Minister, you may come in here and tell your story, but physicians and people all across this province are telling another story, and nurses are telling another story.

That other story is this: Even hospitals that aren't being closed down by you are having to eliminate services because of the cuts you've made. For example in northwestern Ontario, my part of the province, if you were to go to Red Lake or Sioux Lookout or Dryden or Kenora or Atikokan or Fort Francis or Terrace Bay or Geraldton, you would see that in every one of those communities what they're being forced to do right now is to look at the elimination of specific services, and the only reason they're being forced to look at the elimination of specific services, like rehabilitation or delivering babies, is because of your cuts.

If you think this can all be handled by modernizing the system, why don't you take the $700-million contingency fund and put it back into the hospital system so those communities won't have to cut those very necessary services?

Hon Mr Wilson: The process we're undergoing, in concert with the experts in the health care community and the people on the front line, is to close gaps in services. If there's a hospital that isn't delivering babies, as you said in your question, I'd like to know about that. That's a very serious accusation.

I spend a great deal of time with officials monitoring each area of the province and making sure that the community services are being beefed up at the same time that hospital restructuring is going on. If the honourable member is talking about gaps in services, we want to know about those gaps in services, because with the investments we've announced to date, we have the dollars available to reinvest, to make sure, above all, that patients receive the continual and seamless care that they're entitled to as residents of this province.

Mr Hampton: Once again, the Minister of Health spins a good yarn, but it's just not related to reality. I'll be very specific again. You said you had a $700-million contingency fund prepared in case there was a doctors' strike. You said there was $700 million, and you told my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside that this contingency fund would be used to find care for people should they need it, perhaps going outside the borders of the province.

It would appear that you don't have to use that $700-million contingency fund. All I'm saying to you is, there is a whole bunch of communities out there where health care is hurting. There is a whole bunch of communities where the community hospital is being forced to eliminate a service that has been offered in that community and that people need. So I'll ask you the same question again, the question you don't seem to want to answer: If you don't need the $700 million as a contingency fund in case of a doctors' strike, why not put that money into those communities that are being forced to cut services because of your health care budget cuts? Why not put it back into those communities and those community hospitals?

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, the health care budget has not been cut one penny. It's up this year. Hospitals are not allowed to eliminate front-line, necessary services. Any proposal to do so has to go through the local DHC, which is not made up of politicians; it's made up of local representatives who sit there on behalf of their communities. Certainly we would not approve hospital operating plans that withdraw services that people need, at least until the DHC had identified reinvestment areas in community-based care, so that we don't have gaps in services and so that alternative services exist.

The honourable member is slightly misinformed. He should talk to the DHCs in the province, which very carefully monitor what hospitals are up to, check their operating plans and make darned sure there aren't new gaps in services being created as a result of restructuring.

In fact, all the evidence we've seen to date shows that gaps are being closed and that people are being served better and certainly will be served better in the future.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is to the Premier. Over the last couple of weeks we have questioned you, we have questioned the Solicitor General and we have questioned the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations about Bill 75, the bill that will introduce slot machines to restaurants and bars across this province.

Numerous municipalities have voiced their objection to this bill. In fact, last week the Premier's home town of North Bay passed a motion opposed to video slot machines. But more important, Premier, you have been briefed on illegal gambling in Ontario where it says: "Legalized gambling has never replaced legal gambling. Video gambling machines, video slot machines, are included in that."

Bill 75 introduces 20,000 slot machines across this province.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Put the question.

Mr Crozier: It's up to you, sir; it's on your shoulders. Will you withdraw Bill 75?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the question and the whole issue. As you know, there are -- estimates vary -- 18,000 to 25,000 illegal VLTs currently operating in Ontario, according to estimates from the OPP.

The honourable member will know that previous governments have found it very difficult to deal with this issue. As part of the comprehensive strategy to deal with all forms of gaming, including VLTs, one of the things we have embarked upon is far more resources, far more control over the whole industry.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: Legalizing VLTs is one of those areas that we think will be beneficial. I might add that the city of North Bay has said they'd like to keep their simulated VLTs, break-open tickets and other areas of gambling in expressions to me. They want to make sure they get their piece of the pie.

Mr Crozier: Premier, I'd like you to tell me how you tell the difference between a simulated VLT, an illegal VLT and a legal VLT. You talk about illegal machines in the province. What the secret CISO report said, in the briefing notes you received, was, "Legalized gambling has never replaced illegal gambling, which has increased with interest shown in bookies wagering on sporting events" and, I point out to you, "video gambling machines," video slot machines.

Premier, all I'm asking is this: In view of this report and in view of all that you've been advised, what could ever make you think that legalizing something that's now illegal is the way to control it? Take the advice, withdraw the bill and get on with business.

Hon Mr Harris: I understand that there is not unanimity in the province --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Every bar, every restaurant, every neighbourhood.

The Speaker: The member for St Catharines.

Hon Mr Harris: -- as to whether they thought the province being involved in licensing and legalizing VLTs will reduce the number of illegal VLTs. I understand that there are some reports -- the one you've reported -- that say, "Not so."

Mr Crozier: It won't; the police say it won't.

Hon Mr Harris: However, perhaps the member will know that Mr Walter, head of the police association in Toronto, has said the exact opposite. He said this will in fact --

Mr Bradley: Everybody's wrong but you.

Hon Mr Harris: No. Mr Walter has said: "We support legalizing VLTs. This will give our men and women, the police on the front line, the ammunition and the resources they need." So there is not unanimity. I guess there never is with any decisions that governments make.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: The difference, though, perhaps between this government and Liberals and New Democrats is we make decisions. We do as we say we will do. We get things done and we will bring the illegal use of VLTs under --


The Speaker: Order, order.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, this weekend, facing an angry crowd of over 1,000 parents and child care workers, you attempted to defend your government's record. You said: "We did bring good news to child care some months ago when we brought $200 million more to child care in this province. This is a significant increase in funding."

You were of course referring to the 1996 Ontario budget speech by your finance minister in which he talked about the need to expand child care as "real and urgent." He used those words and I quote him. He said: "To address these concerns, I'm announcing today an enhancement of our child care funding that will provide over the next five years an additional $200 million in support above current levels. This year we will spend $600 million on child care -- the highest in Ontario's history."

We're seven months into this budget year. You have not made one announcement with respect to the additional dollars that have been allocated. Not one more space has been created and thousands of parents are on waiting lists trying to place their children. Do you still intend to spend "$600 million -- the highest in Ontario's history" this year?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): We have always said that the money available is up to $600 million, depending on the pickup with municipalities in subsidies, which has always been the way it is. We are prepared to spend $600 million on child care in this province because we think it's extremely important to do so. It's a support for working parents. It's also a support for early childhood education. We are committed to doing so.

Ms Lankin: I guess that would be good news if that was true, if in fact that money was there, available to be picked up if municipalities put their share in, but your ministry has a freeze on expansion of subsidies. Let me tell you about the ludicrous situation that creates in this province.

In Ottawa, this year, a child care centre was built. It was approved in the spring of 1995, it was confirmed by your government in the fall of 1995, construction was completed this year on the new Roberta Bondar school, and it sits empty. Why? Because your ministry won't provide the subsidies for the 30 spaces that are required there, the grants on the wage enhancement, nor the startup capital costs that are required in terms of equipment. It would be a minimal cost of under $200,000 out of the new $40 million that you've committed this year.

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

Ms Lankin: You won't commit it; it's sitting empty. If all it takes is the municipalities to pick it up, why is that centre empty? Why are there over 100 people on the waiting list for that centre? Why are there 3,500 people waiting for subsidies in Ottawa?

Minister, you're not telling us correct stuff in the House today when you say that money is available. If you're saying it is, will you give the grants? Will you give the subsidies to this centre? Will you open it?

Hon Mrs Ecker: As the honourable member may well know, when we took power a year ago and took a look at what was happening in the child care budget, we found that $52 million had been spent by the previous government to try and force one sector of child care to convert to another sector of child care, without increasing spaces or increasing subsidies. We found that there were capital projects that had been told they could proceed when there was no money there for them to proceed. What we are doing is putting --

Ms Lankin: The centre sits empty. If the money's there, create the spaces.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order, please.

Hon Mrs Ecker: What we are doing is putting out proposals, consulting on those proposals and listening to the diversity of views of many people in the child care field before we make decisions.



Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): To the Minister of Environment and Energy: As you know, my riding, Sarnia, the Chemical Valley of Canada, is surrounded by water. There are 13 chemical plants and three refineries. There is a tremendous amount of concern about the environment. The minister is making significant changes to his ministry's marine service program. I would like to know why the minister is planning to ground his marine unit.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thank the honourable member for his concern because I too am very, very concerned about the quality of the Great Lakes water, about the plant life, actually the flora and fauna of those lakes. However, it's my job and the job of this government to ensure that this is done in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

As the Provincial Auditor pointed out, this program of past governments was costing $500,000 a year to do. It was an underutilized program. We expect value for money in this government. As minister, I have a responsibility and obligation to make sure that the resources my ministry has are spent to the best effect, and therefore I'm going to do this program in a more efficient way.

Mr Boushy: I would like to ask the minister how the Ministry of Environment intends to fill any gaps in service which may occur due to the grounding of this fleet.

Hon Mr Sterling: This is of great concern, particularly to members who have ridings near the Great Lakes. We are considering a number of options to deal with this particular matter. The number one option deals with keeping at least one of the six vessels we have at the present time and hiring a captain on a part-time basis. We let our two full-time captains go because they were only engaged for about 100 days a year and this was very inefficient.

We are also actively exploring partnerships with the private sector to provide this very valuable service. We think we can reduce the overall operating expenditures by either of these programs from $500,000 to $150,000 a year. We think we can do better for less.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier, and the question is about the job crisis in Ontario. The Premier will know that he ran on a promise of creating 725,000 jobs over the next five years. It was a very specific promise and probably the most important promise you made during the campaign. That is 12,000 jobs a month, as you know.

It is now time to look at the progress. You issued your job report mid-week last week.

I have a document here called the Harris Missing Job Watch. What it shows is that after your first 15 months in office you are now 80,000 jobs short of the target you set for yourself -- 80,000 jobs short. You're starting to fall way behind the target you committed yourself to, the promise you made of 12,000 jobs a month, each and every month, over five years. Why is it that you are now 80,000 jobs behind the target you set and the promise you made to the people of Ontario?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the question. I could do as you used to do in government: blame it on the federal government and their cutbacks and the transfers and the layoffs, but I won't do that, because we've actually been supportive of the federal government trying to get its house in order and reducing the number of people it employs as well.

Rather than that, let me go back and tell you we're not only on track, we're ahead of schedule to meet our commitments to the people of Ontario. I realize we had one month where there was a downturn. My Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, said, "Just a blip, not to worry, we're on the right track."


Hon Mr Harris: He's my Prime Minister, of this country; he's one of those Liberals I think has great credibility on the issue.

I might add that if you want to go over the last quarter, there have been 45,000 new jobs in the last quarter. If you translate that annually, that's 180,000 a year, way ahead of the schedule that we promised the people of Ontario.

Mr Phillips: If the Premier is proud of 57,000 more people out of work now than a year ago, you should be ashamed of yourself. If that is a proud record, I would hang my head in shame: 57,000 more people out of work in the province of Ontario in September of this year than September a year ago.

You made the promise after you looked at the federal budget, Premier: 12,000 jobs a month. This was your big promise, and you are now 80,000 jobs behind your goal -- he shakes his head -- 57,000 more people out of work. If any of the Conservative caucus are proud of that record, you should be ashamed of yourself.

I'll make a very specific question to you, Premier. You promised 12,000 jobs a month. Can you commit that over the next 12 months the province of Ontario will see 12,000 jobs a month created? Can you at least commit over the next year that you will live up to that promise that you made a year ago?

Hon Mr Harris: You have a selective memory. I did not promise 12,000 a month. I hoped that we could create many more than 12,000 a month. What I promised was 725,000 over five years, and I want to say this to the honourable member. We expected that it would take some time to get over 10 years of disastrous policies. We expected to get consumer confidence back but that it wouldn't happen just overnight to get investor confidence back. The damage that had been done in the last 10 years was so severe that we expected that initially it might be a little slower.

However, year over year, we have created and there are now 99,000 more people working, year over year, than there were a year ago. For the first year, if you like -- that's year over year for that, from whenever you want to start measuring -- this is well on track to our objectives of when we thought the jobs would be created.

I might conclude with this. This is one member's response in the Toronto Sun of September 7 to the job figures. "It is very solid job growth," said Liberal MPP Gerry Phillips.



Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): My question is for the Attorney General. The Attorney General has been accused by members of completely bungling the handling of the family support program. Those of us who work with our constituency office know that is putting it mildly. I have over 50 cases in my own constituency office, and the minister indicated he'd look after these cases if we brought them to his attention. These people have indicated they would be prepared to have their name used in the assembly.

The first one I bring to the Attorney General's attention is a Ms Cathy Kiddle, who has two children. Her payments, the payments from her ex-spouse, have been deducted at source but the family services plan is not forwarding them to her. Her ex-husband now is claiming custody because she's unable to provide appropriate care for her children. A court order in August 1996 changed her support from $800 a month to $1,400 a month, and she's now over $3,000 in arrears.

The second one --

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

Mr Laughren: I wanted one more example if I might, Mr Speaker.

Lorna Wright got her last payment in August and now is in arrears of over $2,500. Ms Wright phoned the family service plan office, the number -- get this; she kept track, she kept count -- 386 times before someone called her back, and the person who returned her calls wasn't even a case worker and couldn't answer her questions. She's still waiting for someone to answer her questions.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The member is quite right that the family support plan has had a history of receiving phone calls and not having people available to make the calls in return and to answer the questions people have.


The Speaker: Order. It's very difficult to hear the Attorney General. I would ask you to come to order.


The Speaker: The member for Sault Ste Marie, I understand what you're saying. It's very difficult to hear the Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: That's quite simply the very reason we are going through the reorganization that we are going through: to provide the family support plan with modern technology, to provide the family support plan with an ability to answer the calls and solve the problems right then and there.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harnick: That is quite simply the reason we are going through the reorganization that we're now going through.

The Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Sudbury East.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I say to the minister that it's about time you started to accept some responsibility for the cuts you have made since August to the family support plan. This minister cut 290 experienced staff, this minister closed eight regional offices, and now women and children who used to receive regular payments, like the constituents of the member for Nickel Belt, are not. That's your fault, no one else's.

Let me raise another case with the Attorney General today, about a woman and a family who used to receive regular support payments until August of this year, until the cuts imposed by the Attorney General. Ms Disley, who lives in Sudbury, did not receive her October 6 payment; she did not receive her October 20 payment. The employer involved has advised us that the payments were made. She is now $1,400 in arrears. She cannot pay her hydro bill. Her son needs glasses; she has had to put that on hold.

What do you say to Ms Disley and other families on whose backs you're trying to finance the tax cut?

Hon Mr Harnick: Quite simply, this is a problem that is not a new problem with the family support plan. We are reorganizing the family support plan. We are providing the family support plan --


Hon Mr Harnick: That is quite simply the reason we are reorganizing the plan and providing technology so the plan will work better, so we will be able to process cheques better. I might tell you that we are now processing 25% more cheques a day than we've ever been able to. We will have a modern technology centre that will be able to answer questions for people immediately, and we are now changing the family support plan so we can develop means of actually enforcing orders, something the former government didn't have the guts to do.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Community-based schools run by parent and community volunteers bring decision-making to the lowest level: the level of the front-line. Community or charter schools reduce bureaucracy and increase the funds available for the classroom.

In 1974, New York City's Central Park East Secondary School in Harlem became locally managed and controlled. Twenty-five years later its college success rates were double those of other schools in the area. Parents were poor -- 85% of students were black or Hispanic -- but the parents cared more for their kids than the bureaucracy. Local decision-making for local needs.

What is the future of community or charter schools in Ontario?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Scarborough West for the question. There has been a lot of debate in education communities about what constitutes a community school or a charter school, and those terms are used interchangeably in some conversations. But there's little doubt that the most critical decisions that are made in education are made at or near the classroom by teachers and principals and parents and students.

There's been a lot of speculation about the consideration our government is now giving to changes in funding and governance, but I want to assure the member for Scarborough West and other members in this chamber that these changes are being looked at from a viewpoint of making sure that every student in the province --

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

Hon Mr Snobelen: -- has the same opportunity to a quality education and that the vital link between parents and teachers is enforced and enhanced and that these decisions made close to the classroom can be made in openness.

I can assure the member for Scarborough West that the cornerstone of any of these reforms will be a regional governance structure and a community involvement in our schools.

Mr Jim Brown: Community or charter schools are the only schools in New Zealand. They're popular in England, in New Brunswick and in the United States. Charter schools are not élitist schools for the rich. They allow small class sizes, choice and teacher accountability to poorer people, something only private schools now offer.

My culturally diverse riding wants its children to succeed more than anything. My constituents are not blessed with money; they have to take what we give them. But we can give them a chance. Let them look out for their kids. They'll do a great job.

Minister, what can I tell those interested parents and teachers who want to operate charter schools?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I have spoken to the Minister of Education in New Zealand, the Minister of Education in New Brunswick, the Minister of Education in Alberta. We've talked about charter schools, and we are of course monitoring the situation in New Brunswick and in Alberta now, looking to be instructed by their experience.

As I've said earlier, there is no question that parent and community involvement in the school enhances education, no question about that at all, and as we look at the changes we might have in governance and education, we'll be looking at the experiences of other people around the world in this circumstance. But I want to assure the member for Scarborough West and the other members in this chamber that without doubt you have to have an excellent public education system if charter schools are to work, and we will do that.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Health. As you know, Oracle Research conducted a poll in Sudbury which showed that 83% of the community feel there will be a deterioration in health care services because of your restructuring. Tomorrow the Coalition to Save Sudbury Hospitals will meet at the Mine, Mill Hall at 7 pm, and on Wednesday at 1 pm a human chain of resistance will form around each of our local hospitals, asking you to save our health care system.

Minister, several members of my community have received phone calls from an individual identifying herself as being from Kerbel and Associates, asking for public reaction to the commission's recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question?

Mr Bartolucci: My question is three-fold: Why did you hire this firm, what are you going to do with the results, and how much are you paying this communications firm to provide you with information regarding a restructuring plan that you know the community has already voiced concern about?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I don't know anything about the phone calls by this particular firm. Second, as is the case in these processes, I encourage your community to get involved, and they're obviously quite involved. It's the 30-day period now where the community is to respond, and they would be very wise, in addition to their demonstrations, to make sure they have concrete, data-supported and well-thought-out arguments to the commission during this very crucial period of decision-making.


Mr Bartolucci: To the head of the board of governors of one of the hospitals, when asked the person, "Who are you?" the individual said, "I'm working for the Ministry of Health and I've been retained by Catherine Steele," who works in your ministry. Minister, if you don't know anything about it, your ministry's out of control.

Last Friday I launched a postcard campaign which invites the community to tell you directly about their displeasures and to plead with you to save our health care system in Sudbury. Within the next two weeks, you'll be receiving thousands of these postcards. My question is, will you listen to the voices of the people of Sudbury when they flood your office with postcards and will you change the direction of this report which plows under the services and jobs the citizens of Sudbury count on you to preserve?

Hon Mr Wilson: In the interim, I've received a note to indicate that Carol Kerbel's company is working for the Ministry of Health. I don't know what they're doing making phone calls in your community other than doing a general assessment of health care issues, as I know they're doing across the province, so it would be appropriate to phone those areas that are undergoing restructuring. After all, it's the people of Ontario who own the health care system, not the politicians.

As is the gist of your question, it's important that we know what communities think about the changes that are going on. Again, though, we're in that 30-day period where concerns are best directed towards the commission, who will, at arm's length from the government, in spite of any phone calls that may be going on with polling firms or whatever --

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: The bottom line is the commission will make the decisions based on data, on what are the best services and closing of gaps in services and what's in the best interests of the patients of your community.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Minister of Education and Training. I'd like to send a copy over to the minister of a letter that was sent to his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services. This was sent by one of Ms Ecker's constituents, Mr Paul Rouen, an owner of a tool and mould company which currently employs five apprentices.

Mr Rouen is concerned with information he's received that all provincial government funding for in-school training of apprentices will disappear by 1999. Would the minister tell us if there is to be a decrease in funding for the in-school portion of apprenticeship programs as part of his cuts to community colleges? If this is the case, are the employers going to have to pick up the full cost of apprenticeship programs? If this is the case, it will jeopardize the apprenticeship programs that this government says it wants young people to obtain.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): As the honourable member opposite knows, we are reviewing the apprenticeship programs, making sure we streamline those and update them and modernize them. Some of the apprenticeship programs in Ontario haven't been observed over the last 30 years or so, so there's some updating necessary.

We have not concluded that review at this point. We announced some changes in the training system last year which will make the training, I think, more relevant to the needs of people in Ontario, and we'll continue to look at that.

Mr Wildman: I don't think Mr Rouen or anyone would be concerned about or opposed to a review of apprenticeship programs. The question is the funding.

This government says that the province is open for business. This government says that we need to prepare our youth for the world of work. This government says it's concerned about industry's need for skilled employees. If this is the case, can the minister assure us that when his review is complete, the funding that is ongoing will continue, the apprenticeships that Mr Rouen has been involved in as an employer will continue and that the government changes will not jeopardize apprenticeship programs for the young people Mr Rouen has employed up to now and intends to employ in the future?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the member opposite for the question. I don't think there's anyone in this chamber who is more aware of the importance of our apprenticeship programs than I am. I've been very closely involved in apprenticeship programs over the whole course of my life. I understand their importance, and I certainly understand their importance to industry and to people.

I can assure the member opposite that we continue to look at how to improve our training programs in Ontario, because they are important to the future of Ontario. They're important to our economic viability and, more important, they're critically important to the progress of people who work on factory floors and on shop floors across this province. I have great empathy for those people. I have some great understanding of what apprenticeship programs mean to them.

As we examine this we will make sure that our apprenticeship programs are up to the best standards in the world and we will continue to support them financially and legislatively. That's the intention of this government.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. It seems that since the auditor's report was tabled, there's been some confusion about what the auditor's recommendations were for the ministry. Some understood that the auditor was recommending further closure of ag offices and that he was critical of the cost of operating three agricultural colleges. I wonder if the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs could set the record straight on these issues.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank the honourable member for Chatham-Kent for his question. Just as an aside, on Friday last week we had very good news for the Chatham area. The member for Essex-Kent was there. We turned the sod on a $155-million ethanol plant, the best news that Chatham has had for a long time.

For the first time in many years the ministry and the minister were ahead of the Provincial Auditor.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Can I get an answer, please?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: We have amalgamated some agricultural offices. In the education system we have amalgamated the campuses under the University of Guelph, a centre of excellence in agricultural education. We are ahead of the game.



Deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act / Projet de loi 49, Loi visant à améliorer la Loi sur les normes d'emploi.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): In accordance with consent of the House of Thursday last, we have a deferred vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 49, An Act to improve the Employment Standards Act. Call in the members. It will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1517 to 1522.

The Speaker: Order. Members take your seats, please. All those in favour, please rise one by one and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian

Barrett, Toby

Harris, Michael D.

Saunderson, William

Bassett, Isabel

Hastings, John

Shea, Derwyn

Beaubien, Marcel

Hodgson, Chris

Sheehan, Frank

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Skarica, Toni

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Smith, Bruce

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Snobelen, John

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Ron

Sterling, Norman W.

Cunningham, Dianne

Kells, Morley

Stewart, R. Gary

Danford, Harry

Klees, Frank

Tilson, David

DeFaria, Carl

Leadston, Gary L.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Doyle, Ed

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Ecker, Janet

Maves, Bart

Villeneuve, Noble

Eves, Ernie L.

Murdoch, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fisher, Barbara

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wilson, Jim

Flaherty, Jim

Newman, Dan

Witmer, Elizabeth

Ford, Douglas B.

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Fox, Gary

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Parker, John L.


Grimmett, Bill

Preston, Peter


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



Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

Miclash, Frank


Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Morin, Gilles E.


Boyd, Marion

Hoy, Pat

Patten, Richard


Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Phillips, Gerry


Brown, Michael A.

Kwinter, Monte

Pouliot, Gilles

Caplan, Elinor

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Pupatello, Sandra

Christopherson, David

Lankin, Frances

Ramsay, David

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Cooke, David S.

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Duncan, Dwight

McLeod, Lyn


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 64; the nays are 35.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.



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

"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; and

"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; and

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

"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 complete agreement with this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition that has been signed by 5,152 people. It reads as follows:

"Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas everyone has the right to personal safety free from criminal harassment, and all employees have the right to a safe work environment free from workplace harassment; and

"Whereas sexual harassment is against the law and has rightfully been recognized in the province of Ontario as an occupational health and safety issue; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince was a victim of sexual harassment and Theresa's harasser did murder her at their place of employment and we do not want her death to have been in vain; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince's family, women's organizations and members of the workforce have been left with serious unanswered questions and fear that this type of violence could happen again; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince was murdered as a result of male violence against women and male violence against women is a societal issue,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to launch an inquest into the shooting death of Theresa Vince by her supervisor at their workplace. We further petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure that a special public inquiry follow the inquest.

"We make this petition in memory of Theresa Vince of Chatham, Ontario, for all women and for all employees in every occupation."

Mr Speaker, an inquest has been called into this death but the petition calls additionally for a special public inquiry into this, so I --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You're in the debate of a petition and you can only read them.



Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I'm proud to rise in the House today to bring this petition on behalf of the students of four high schools in my riding: Cayuga Secondary School, Hagersville Secondary School, Dunnville Secondary School, and McKinnon Park Secondary School in Caledonia. I've worked in cooperation with these students and their councils to declare October 21 to 27 as Student/Senior Appreciation Week in our riding of Brant-Haldimand. They have asked that I present this petition to the House, which reads as follows --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): As a point of order, you can't speak or debate petitions; you may only read them. So if you could go ahead, please.

Mr Preston: Here it comes, Mr Speaker. We're ready. This is a good-news petition for everybody:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, have worked in cooperation with our MPP, Peter Preston, to declare October 21 through 27 as Student/Senior Appreciation Week for Brant-Haldimand; and

"Whereas we will be helping seniors prepare their homes while proving to our communities that the great majority of students are not apathetic, negative and uncaring; and

"Whereas we further believe that this spirit of cooperation and community pride should be extended to the entire province to foster better communication between seniors and young people;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly to hereby declare the" third week of October "as Student/Senior Appreciation Week for the province of Ontario."

I am pleased to affix my name to this petition as well.

The student presidents of these schools are present here today: Richard Gee, Adam Schweyer, Brian Metcalfe and Adrien Gagnon.


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that's been signed by 5,485 people across the province:

Whereas all employees have the right to a safe work environment, free from workplace harassment and violence; and

"Whereas sexual harassment has rightfully been recognized in the province of Ontario as an occupational health and safety issue; and

"Whereas workplace harassment is harmful to the health and wellbeing of employees and to their employers; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince was a victim of workplace harassment and Theresa's harasser did murder her at their place of employment, and we do not want her death to have been in vain; and

"Whereas Theresa Vince's family, women's organizations and members of the workforce have been left with serious, unanswered questions and fear that this type of violence could happen again;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to fund a special committee comprised of grass-roots women's organizations, labour, feminist lawyers, employers, diverse communities reflective of the province of Ontario, parliamentarians. The mandate of the special committee would be to develop recommendations and guidelines that would assist all employers in creating a safe work environment that prevents workplace harassment and violence and ensures a thorough and objective investigation of harassment complaints when circumstances require.

"We make this petition in memory of Theresa Vince of Chatham, Ontario, and for all employees in every occupation."

I am honoured to affix my signature.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I am pleased to present a petition from the good people of Port Colborne concerning drivers' exams for senior citizens.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and to the Minister of Transportation:

"Whereas the driver examination centre in the city of Welland is slated to close later in October; and

"Whereas these changes represent an undue hardship in that they will require Port Colborne and Wainfleet senior citizens to drive up to an hour away to take their annual road test on the unfamiliar roads of St Catharines; and

"Whereas the fact that a very high proportion of seniors eventually pass their road test has led the Minister of Transportation to state that he will re-examine the requirements for issuing drivers' licences for seniors,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Minister of Transportation to develop a system of licensing that is less onerous on the senior citizens of Port Colborne and Wainfleet and that recognizes that when tests are required, familiar local roads are the fairest places to assess driver ability."

I proudly affix my signature.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition signed by hundreds of rural residents of my riding who are very concerned about the imposition of parking fees at Kakabeka Falls, more popularly known as the Niagara of the north. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is applying a parking fee for visitors to Kakabeka Falls, a significant and unique tourist attraction in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the application of this fee will have a negative effect on tourism to this site, which will have further negative spinoffs on the local economy,

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to disallow the application of this fee."

I am proud to sign my signature to it.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): These petitions come from the Ontario Omnibus Alliance and there are approximately 10,000 names here.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we, the registered voters of the province of Ontario, expect the government we elect to lead our Legislature in a responsible and competent manner; and

"Whereas we expect the government we elect to be the government of all the people and to consult with the opposition and to respect the mandate given the government by the electorate; and

"Whereas the present government, led by Premier Mike Harris, (1) has forced the passage of important legislation without adequate preparation, consultation and debate, and (2) has exceeded the mandate given the government by the electorate, and (3) has passed legislation, including Bill 26, that increases the power of the government to unduly intrude into the lives of the people and contradicts the values that define us as a compassionate, inclusive and just society, and (4) has caused us to become more divided at a time when we should be overlooking our differences and coming together to find new ways of protecting, not nurturing those values to which we all aspire; and

"Whereas we, the registered voters of the province of Ontario, for the reasons given above have lost all confidence in the leadership of Mike Harris,

"Then be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of the province of Ontario to remove Mike Harris from the position of Premier by whatever legal means, including his voluntary resignation, and to replace him at the earliest possible moment with a competent and responsive member of the provincial Parliament."

I sign this petition.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): "Whereas drinking and driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

I signed this.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition to the government of Ontario signed by citizens from Sudbury and Chelmsford.

"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; and

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across the province 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; and

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

"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 the Premier, Mike 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 to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here from some 150 people who signed this petition at a demonstration against Mike Harris last Thursday in Timmins, and it reads as follows:

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister Elizabeth Witmer and members of the government:

"Whereas Mike Harris and his Conservative government have already dismantled the Workplace Health and Safety Agency;

"Whereas Cam Jackson's report when implemented will create an unhealthy and unsafe province in which to work;

"Whereas the government is creating a false impression as to the WCB financial status;

"Whereas the decrease in compensation entitlement to injured workers will only create artificial reductions of claims;

"Whereas all of the proposed changes are solely for the benefit of the employer and do nothing to promote harmony in resolving health and safety issues in the workplace;

"Whereas the government has only one concern, to fund a tax cut and a grab for their wealthy friends;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government to halt the attack on workers of this province and the right to a safe and healthy workplace."

I affix my signature to that petition.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I rise again on the topic of driver exams for seniors, this time signed by seniors from the greater Fort Erie area like Laura Hodges of Fort Erie and Mavis Martin of Crystal Beach.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Minister of Transportation:

"Whereas the driver examination centre in the town of Fort Erie has been closed as of September 24 and the centre in Niagara Falls will be closed later in October; and

"Whereas these changes represent an undue hardship in that they will require Fort Erie senior citizens to drive all the way over an hour to the municipality of St Catharines and take their tests on unfamiliar roads;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Minister of Transportation to develop a system of licensing that is less onerous on the senior citizens of Fort Erie and that recognizes that, when road tests are required, familiar local roads are the fairest place to assess driver ability."

I add my signature to the petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is my understanding that the government is intending to call for consideration this afternoon the bill dealing with video lottery terminals and other matters related to that --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's in order.

Mr Bradley: -- which is in order if they wish to do so. What I wish to ask you about is what your view would be or if you could be of any assistance to us for a couple of reasons, the first being that the government has dilly-dallied all day and has not really given us adequate notice of this. The government, when we arrived today, was going to be dealing with the bill dealing with redistribution, and then there was some talk about the bill dealing with environmental assessment and, latterly, this.

The Speaker: Move on to the second one. I think --

Mr Bradley: I want you to rule on that if you may.

The second point I think is equally valid is that if the government is proceeding with this, it is proceeding without providing members with the full amount of information they should have. In other words, they have withheld a very important government report on criminal activity in gambling, which would be essential for members of this assembly to have before dealing with this matter. If we don't have at least some form of that report before us, and I understand it's a sensitive report, I don't believe this House should be dealing with that matter this afternoon. I ask for your intervention to assist us in opposition with these two matters I've raised.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On the point of order, Mr Speaker: To follow from the request of the House leader for the official opposition, as members know and as you know, Speaker, the report to which Mr Bradley referred has been a subject of some discussion and debate in question period in this House. It appears that the legislative committee that was responsible for looking at Bill 75 on clause-by-clause requested this report and was denied access to it.

It appears now that the Solicitor General has indeed had information about this report. He has indicated in the House that it is sensitive. It certainly would be within the parameters of good sense to provide that report with sensitive information like names and dates and places blacked out. But it is central to the debate on Bill 75. It is central to determining how members should vote, members on all sides of the House, on third reading on this legislation.

I would request you to consider very seriously the remarks of my friend the member for St Catharines with regard to the need for members to have access to this police intelligence report that indicates, apparently, that the legalization of video lottery terminals will not in fact cut down on illegal activities in gaming but will simply complement that activity, which is central to the issue. The government has said it wishes to legalize these machines because it will help to stamp out illegal activity. Now we appear to have a police report that disputes that. It's important that all members have access to this report before voting on third reading.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): On the same point, Mr Speaker, I am a member of the standing committee on administration of justice of this House. As I think you're aware, this summer when we were in committee and were in public hearings, hearing concerns about this bill across the province, trying to gather up all the information that we wished to have to make a proper decision, we asked the clerk of our committee to write the ministry because we had heard that this report was there. We were told that because of the sensitive and confidential law enforcement information that was in it, they could not reveal this to us.

At the same time, there was a sanitized version of this report that the minister had for public consumption -- it was in his briefing notes and I have, actually, a new version of it, the version 1 here, in my possession -- that has expunged all the names that obviously would be sensitive, and I don't want to know those names either. But the basic principles of the introduction of legal video slot machines in Ontario, it said here in this police report, would not get rid of the problem that the government said it would.

What has happened for our committee is that we are being forced in committee and now in this House to start to make decisions on behalf of the people of Ontario when we don't have the full information. In fact, the government suppressed this from us so that we wouldn't have this, because of course it does not make the government's case. That's why we are asking for a delay.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): On the same point, Mr Speaker, and I hope to be able to do this once at this point and not have to do it again, because I know you're going to be tested today with many points of order -- this is what the game is about, obviously, this afternoon, to raise points of order.

Interjection: It is not.

Hon David Johnson: If not, I apologize.

In terms of the order today, we had hoped to make an arrangement with the other two parties on Bill 81, the Fewer Politicians Act, and indeed this was discussed in the House leaders' meeting last Thursday. However, over the course of the following afternoon and Friday -- late Friday afternoon we still hadn't reached an agreement. This morning we took one last go at it to see if we could reach an agreement and were unable to do it.

I believe there was a suggestion by the official opposition that the environmental bill be discussed this afternoon, but the critic for the third party is not here, and consequently it couldn't be discussed.


It is our intention to call Bill 75. In terms of the report which is being alluded to here today, of course that report, which was created by the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, CISO, as it's known, was not created by this government. It has been the topic of many questions during question period. All of those questions have been addressed satisfactorily. The matter continues to be raised here this afternoon in terms of preventing a very valid opportunity for this House to entertain Bill 75 at this time. I hope that you would rule, Mr Speaker, and I believe that you will rule indeed at the appropriate time -- we haven't even called for its introduction yet, but once we're able to get there -- that this certainly would be in order.

Mr Bradley: Mr Speaker, further to that, there's information you may find useful.

The Speaker: Quickly then, the member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: It's my understanding that the New Democratic Party is prepared to deal with the environmental bill. We've both expressed some agreement to deal with a bill that --

The Speaker: Order. Of the two points of order raised, the first point, with respect to determining which bill would be debated today, really is of such a minor consequence that it matters not. It's up to the House leaders to decide what they deal with. Ultimately, at the end of the day, it's the government House leader who calls the orders of the day and he has to give you as much notice or as little notice as he can give you. It isn't even a decent point of order.

With respect to the report, the difficulty you place the Speaker in today, and any Speaker you request reports of, is that there are thousands of reports done by governments and agencies, boards and commissions of those governments. All kinds of these reports will have varying impact on legislation that comes before this House. The dilemma in asking the Speaker to delay, impede, slow down or not deal with legislation because a report isn't before the House or members of this House can't get a copy of that report is that you could endlessly be requesting that very same thing on any piece of legislation that comes before the House. All I can do, as a subject of all the members of this place, is ensure that the government, when introducing bills, providing the legislation and packaging it up and delivering it, lives by the rules we've established. The government hasn't broken any rules.

I appreciate the fact that it may frustrate the opposition, and that it may frustrate them in great order, but the fact of the matter is that the government House leader has lived by the rules set down by all the parties and there is absolutely nothing out of order. If you start asking me to provide members of this Legislature with copies of reports that impact pieces of legislation, we could be here forever simply getting reports. Although I appreciate the concerns listed, it would be untenable for the Speaker if they started suggesting that certain members would be provided with certain reports before decisions could be carried on.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise on a point of order under the standing orders, section 107, which reads:

"(a) Standing and select committees shall be severally empowered to examine, inquire into and report from time to time on all such matters as may be referred to them by the House.

"(b) Except when the House otherwise orders, each committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and things.

"(c) A standing or select committee to which a bill has been referred by the House shall be empowered to report the same with or without amendments or to report that the bill be not reported."

I'm asking that you rule specifically on section 107(b), "Except when the House otherwise orders, each committee shall have the power to send for persons, papers and things." I'm asking that you review Hansard for the standing committee on administration of justice where we asked for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to appear after there was a change in ministers, we asked for papers to be presented to the committee and we weren't given the cooperation of the government to make that request.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Essex South, I appreciate what you're driving at. The difficulty is -- and I made this ruling not long ago when the member for Dovercourt came forward with respect to a committee Chair's decision -- that is something you have to take up with the committee. It speaks very directly in there about committees having those rights and privileges. Those rights and privileges are protected by committee Chair. I, as Speaker, cannot start determining whether committee Chairs' rulings are reasonable and acceptable. It would put committee Chairs in untenable situations. Those are the standing orders as they sit and, frankly, I can't get involved with committees and what they say. I gave the exact same ruling last week to the member for Dovercourt.



Mr Tsubouchi moved third reading of the following bill:

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

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I am pleased to move third reading of Bill 75, the Alcohol, Gaming and Charity Funding Public Interest Act.

First of all, I want to deeply thank my parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham Centre, Jim Flaherty, for his excellent work throughout the public hearing process and in clause-by-clause debate. I believe his attention to detail and his overall comprehension of the government's initiatives made for a very informative and useful discussion. I appreciate his leadership in this regard.

At the same time I want to thank all members of the standing committee on administration of justice for their contribution to the debate. I believe this was an opportunity for all members to express their views on these important matters.

Finally, but not least, I want to particularly thank and congratulate those members of the public and various representatives of organizations who appeared before the standing committee for their interest, for their contribution and for their advice. I know I express on behalf of all members our sincere appreciation for their participation in our deliberations regarding Bill 75.

Members of the House will be interested to know that during the public hearings held across the province between October 6 and October 20 by the standing committee on administration of justice, more than 150 organizations and individual presenters put forward their views and comments. Many of the presentations from the hospitality sector, the racing industry, the gaming sector and the business community in general indicated substantial support for the government's gaming initiatives.

To be fair, there were some concerns raised, particularly in two areas: enforcement measures and problem gambling. In this regard, let me assure the members that we have given and continue to give a high priority to a careful and controlled implementation strategy which includes an emphasis on enforcement of gaming and liquor laws in the province of Ontario.

As members know, Bill 75 will bring about the merger of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, the Gaming Control Commission of Ontario and some regulatory functions of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. From this merger will come a new organization, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This new organization will be a schedule 1 agency that will be able to focus more attention on enforcement measures relating to the gaming and beverage alcohol laws in the province of Ontario. This will allow us to better monitor the development of issues in both liquor and gaming regulations and respond more effectively to changes in the marketplace. As an example, the role of the current Gaming Control Commission will be expanded considerably in the new organization.

Bill 75 amends the Gaming Control Act to require that all suppliers and participants in the gaming marketplace register with the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and now will include suppliers of either goods or services for video lotteries. This will include the following: registering the owners of the premises where video lotteries will be situated; registering manufacturers and distributors of video lotteries; registering individuals and companies which service video lotteries; establishing the type of games permitted, rules of play and betting limits; and setting internal control standards on the handling and recording of the moneys.

Before any registrations are issued, background investigations of individuals and companies will be conducted to ensure that they satisfy the highest standards of honesty, integrity and financial responsibility.

The present Gaming Control Commission was set up in 1994 by the previous government and I have no hesitation in saying that in its short lifespan it has emerged as one of the better gaming regulatory commissions in North America.

We have made significant strides in addressing some very old problems, from who is allowed in the business to how the participants conduct themselves. In 1993, prior to the setting up of the Gaming Control Commission, only three charges were laid by what was known at the time as the ministry's entertainment standards branch. In the last 12 months, because of the new Gaming Control Commission, there have been over 300 charges laid, so we have been much more active and considerably more vigorous in pursuing the so-called bad guys.


Members may be interested to know that prior to the establishment of the Gaming Control Commission there were no restrictions on who could provide goods and services to charities involved in gaming. Today we have something in the order of 20,000 registrants and we have the tools and ability to kick out those who fail to meet those standards of honesty and integrity. We take the job of enforcement very seriously.

As of October 1, 1996, more stringent standards have been set regarding internal controls, the tracking of paper and clear audit requirements with which commercial bingo halls must comply. In addition, on the same date, more rigorous and rigid standards were put in place regarding internal controls, ticket manufacture and requirements in the tracking of break-open tickets from the manufacturer to the retail level for all tickets sold in the province. The tickets are routinely subjected to testing at the Centre of Forensic Sciences to ensure security and integrity of the product.

Yet we want to do more to ensure enforcement and security in the gaming marketplace. We believe that our restructuring into the new commission will make our enforcement measures more effective and better ensure the honesty and integrity of both suppliers and participants in the gaming marketplace. We have approximately 80 enforcement officers on staff, including both civilian and Ontario Provincial Police personnel, and a strong cooperative relationship with the various police forces in Ontario. The combination of the Gaming Control Commission and the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario will increase this complement by additional officers.

As we begin to implement this legislation, we will seek additional resources to strengthen enforcement, as we have done with Casino Windsor and Casino Rama. Our enforcement team has a very good working association with the various police forces in Ontario, a strong cooperative effort to ensure integrity in the gaming marketplace and to confront illegal gambling in the province.

In connection with problem gambling, the government is committed to provide 2%, which is up to $9 million, of video lottery revenues for initiatives in this area. Current research indicates that less than 1% of gamblers are affected by problem gambling. According to the Addiction Research Foundation, there is at the present time no credible research available to support the suggestion that video lotteries are any more addictive than any other kind of gambling. The Minister of Health is working with other ministries and community agencies to develop a program aimed at prevention, research and treatment for problem gambling. At the present time, the Ministry of Health provides about $1 million annually for province-wide research, prevention and treatment services. It is our plan to increase this by 900%, or approximately $9 million annually, once our initiatives are up and running.

At the same time, Bill 75 provides for an amendment to the Liquor Licence Act that will allow the revocation or suspension of a liquor licence when the licence holder or employee allows a person under the age of 19 years to play video lotteries or to be in areas where there are video lotteries. A companion amendment to the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act will also reinforce restricted access to areas designated for video lottery play and will prohibit play by persons under the age of 19 as well.

Ontario's gaming marketplace is complex and involves a number of distinct yet interrelated areas of activity: provincial lotteries, horse racing, charitable gaming and casinos. The market's numerous participants include the Ontario Lottery Corp, the Ontario Casino Corp, the horse racing industry, thousands of charitable organizations and hundreds of commercial suppliers and operators. Ontario is one of the largest gaming jurisdictions in North America. Although figures are difficult to confirm, it is believed that close to $10 billion annually is wagered in all forms of legal gaming activities.

Charitable gaming activity in Ontario normally includes bingo, break-open tickets, raffle lotteries and Monte Carlo events. This form of activity has become an increasingly important revenue stream for thousands of charities across Ontario. As other forms of support eroded, more and more groups turned to gaming to generate the funds required to maintain their programs and their services. Close to one half of Ontario's charities conduct some form of charitable gaming activity. It is estimated that gross spending on charitable gaming is approximately $2 billion a year. It is also estimated that Ontario charities benefit from close to $300 million in gaming profits on an annual basis.

Ontario's gaming marketplace has expanded and evolved dramatically over the course of the last several years. Some of the more substantive changes include the following: a shift from low- to higher-stakes bingo; an increasing interest and dependence on the part of charitable organizations in the Monte Carlo events -- charitable organizations received $12 million net annual from about 4,200 Monte Carlo events held in the province last year; the increased participation of commercial operators and suppliers in the charitable gaming events; and the introduction of commercial casinos.

Without wanting to sound critical, previous Liberal and NDP governments have been responsible over the last decade for many new initiatives which have expanded the gaming marketplace in Ontario. These previous governments increased the betting maximum for Monte Carlo games to $10, made provision for three-day roving Monte Carlo events, of which there were 4,200 in Ontario last year -- not to mention the introduction of the first commercial casino in Windsor and the establishment of Casino Rama in Orillia. None the less, as the Minister of Finance said in his May 7 budget statement, "VLTs, if implemented within tight regulatory controls and in limited-access environments, can meet a legitimate entertainment demand and provide a significant stimulus to the hospitality industry."

Let me conclude my remarks by highlighting the main elements relating to Bill 75. As a result of the initiatives in the May 7 budget connected to video lotteries and the introduction of charity gaming halls, we believe these programs will stimulate economic activity and create new job opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry and provide more secure funding for community charities. The merging of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission into the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, along with amendments to the Liquor Licence Act, is designed to ensure that the new organization will more clearly be able to focus on the enforcement measures relating to gaming and beverage alcohol laws in the province of Ontario.

This legislation, Bill 75, will bring some much-needed discipline and control to Ontario's gaming marketplace as a whole. Two per cent, or approximately $9 million, of video lottery gross revenues will be set aside to establish a comprehensive problem gambling strategy, which will include public awareness and prevention campaigns, treatment and research components. Ontario is the ninth province to allow the operation of video lotteries and will have fewer video lotteries on a per capita basis than any other province. As well, many other provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Nova Scotia, have all sought efficiencies through amalgamating their liquor boards and other regulatory bodies.

I urge all members to support these initiatives, which will help stabilize funding for our community charities and assist our hospitality and tourism sectors and the horse racing industry to compete and grow.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments or questions?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I want to advise particularly the people of Ontario who may be watching this that you have now received the sanitized version of why these insidious machines should be introduced to the province of Ontario.

We've asked the minister over the last couple of weeks if he personally approves them, and I give him credit for saying he no longer has personal opinions, he has policy. That leads me to believe that personally he doesn't like them but the government has said, "We have to have them."

There's going to be some money available, as the minister said, once these machines are installed. I don't know how long that's going to take because they haven't told us how long it will take. There are going to be some gamblers out there who will become addicted well before the minister so graciously gives any of the funds in order to prevent addiction. We want the funds to prevent addiction, not only to try and treat it after.

They're going to register owners, they're going to register manufacturers, they're going to register those who provide service; they're going to make rules and they're going to have standards for handling money. That's all great for those who, under normal circumstances, wouldn't treat these machines any other way but than in an aboveboard way.

But we know, because police services have told us and the public has told us, that they're concerned that the introduction of video lottery terminals in every corner of our communities is not wanted because of what they're going to do to society. I ask this government to use your conscience, not worry about your pocketbook.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I listened with interest to the comments made by the minister. What I noticed was lacking in terms of his comments to the House was a reference, which I thought should have been there, to a most important report that this House and the public have become aware of in the last two weeks, which I would have thought would halt the government in its tracks in terms of its introduction of this bill and its introducing of these slot machines right across every community in this province.

It's become very clear during the course of the questions in this House that neither the Solicitor General nor the minister responsible for carriage of this bill seem to know anything about this terribly important report done by police services in the province, which have expressed very serious concerns with the link between organized crime and video slot machines.

I would have thought that the government, becoming aware of this report and becoming aware of the very serious concerns that have been raised by legitimate police forces in this province, would have done its utmost, first of all, to try to get a copy to the committee responsible for dealing with this issue -- the sections involving people who might be prosecuted might have their names blacked out, but a copy -- so the committee could have done its legitimate work in determining the nature and the length and the breadth of the infiltration of organized crime.

I say to the minister, do you really need the money that badly, that you would completely ignore this report put before you by police services which expresses such serious concerns? Do you need the money that badly, or shouldn't you stop right now and not proceed any further?

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I thank the minister for his introduction to the debate on third reading of Bill 75. In terms of consultation, it's important for the members here and for those voters watching to know that there was extensive consultation, not only in Toronto but also in Sarnia, in Fort Erie, in Thunder Bay, in Kenora, in Sudbury and in Ottawa. The standing committee on the administration of justice travelled around the province and we heard from concerned persons, particularly from persons in the hospitality industry in Ontario, particularly in the north and the northwest of Ontario, who are very concerned about not being in a position to compete with the neighbouring provinces.

Both provinces that border Ontario -- Manitoba and Quebec -- have legal video lottery machines. They have brought them in to combat the problem of these illegal machines, where the money is going to sources that certainly are not government sources and are not sources that create revenue for the taxpayers of Ontario.

There are eight other provinces in Canada that have legalized video lotteries, and I think it's fair to say that the majority of people in Ontario and the majority of the people who appeared before the committee took a mature view with respect to gaming in the province; that is, they view it as a form of entertainment. Viewing it as a form of entertainment, as they do in eight other provinces, they at the same time expressed concern that the government introduce video lotteries in a controlled, phased manner, which is precisely what Bill 75 prescribes.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is indeed important to respond to the minister's statement, as the minister's statement is sadly lacking in most of the essential information the public needs to assess this bill, information that was brought forward at the consultation that Mr Flaherty has told us about but not completely told us about, because many, many of the people we heard from told us about the problems with addictive gambling connected to this particular form of gambling, which has been introduced not as an extension of previous gambling but as a brand-new initiative. This is a Harris Conservative government brand-new initiative to put gambling in people's neighbourhoods, and we have not heard one thing from that side of the House to tell us how they're going to deal with the brand-new effects this is going to put in the neighbourhoods, and the bill, as people will learn in the subsequent discussion, is silent on all the important things. In fact, all the promises that are being made about protecting the public are not in this bill. The minister, in raising them, is not quite telling us how this government will live up to any of the concerns and any of the responsibilities that we heard in every single one of the communities that we've been in.

We've heard about the impacts of gambling in other jurisdictions. We've heard about how they've created addiction rates in Manitoba; about how there have been problems and how they have been banned from 45 states; about how BC took on the issue of VLTs, these video slot machines, or what the police call them, which is video gambling machines, and said no; about how this contradicts municipalities, some 50 of them that have written to this government and said, "We don't want these machines in our neighbourhoods," and have asked, "Why now, if you promised a referendum when you were in opposition, won't you have a referendum to see if people really want these machines in their neighbourhoods?" This is a government that has flip-flopped on itself completely in the pursuit of money. We really resent that the minister is not able to tell us the salient answers to these questions when introducing this bill, which is starting to be of great interest to the public.

The Acting Speaker: The minister has two minutes to respond.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, if I might perhaps clarify the subject of my opinion and policies with respect to this matter, if charities can benefit out of this legislation, which they will -- because prior to this, the roving casinos are hugely unregulated in their manner, and in fact that's the biggest problem that charities have with them. They really don't see the benefits of participating in these gaming initiatives. Secondly, if jobs can be created or protected in the racing industry, where there are over 40,000 full-time jobs that are affected by this, and certainly in the hospitality and tourism trade, then yes, I am in favour of this.

Dealing with the deliberations, if I might refer to the member for Sudbury East's comments with respect to the deliberations we're having now, I might remind them of the deliberations around the Windsor casino at that time.

Ms Martel: Remember, we didn't do VLTs because we were worried about the same issues.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Clearly the member is unhappy with this, but I might refer her to a statement that was made by the then leader, the Premier at the time. Mr Rae at that time, and this was in the Toronto Star back on October 6, 1992, defended casino gambling by saying: "I don't think it's a big deal. We've had gaming in the province in a variety of ways -- bingo, horse racing and the lotteries -- so to argue that games of chance are somehow some dramatic, novel thing would be quite false." That's the Premier of the time explaining his deliberations dealing with the casino, which at the time was certainly the biggest new initiative in the gaming industry in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kennedy: I'd like to ask the unanimous consent of the House to divide the debate time with the member for Essex South.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? There is agreement.

Mr Kennedy: The introduction of Bill 75, which is called An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming, makes it sound almost benign, almost a nice thing: funding charities. It could be one of the first useful things this government could do, except that this government instead is guilty again of putting a label on something that's completely different. This is like a friendly stuffed bear tag being put on a wild animal, because this bill has no protections and in fact does harm to charities in this province and damages the ability of charities to deliver services in the communities where they exist right now.


What this government did not have until the first day of hearings -- the then and now former minister agreed to admit that this is about money. Ninety per cent of the money that's being collected is going to be kept by this government, which needs it. This government is giving only 10% of the money to the restaurants and bars, maybe 10% to the charities; 80% of it is staying with the government, a higher take than anywhere that these machines are used. It's very, very clear what it reveals. It reveals a government that has become greedy for gambling money, a government that is unconcerned. The reason there has been no success on the government side in responding to concerns is because it has superseded them by its need for money.

The people out there trying to make sense of why this government, with Bill 75, would enter into this new form of gambling, a hard form of gambling that has proven to have problems in terms of the disruption it creates in the community, can only come to the same conclusion: It's about the money.

There's only one basis on which this government would throw away the statements that the minister of the treasury made last year, that he wouldn't have more gambling; that the Premier made when he was the leader of the third party, that he didn't want to have more revenue coming in from gambling. Instead, in a complete turnaround that isn't to be found in the Comic Book Revolution -- you can't find this in that little booklet -- instead, this government has subsequently decided it's so greedy for the money that it has to do this.

When we look at the problems they left uncovered, we realize that the title of this bill should be: an act to deregulate liquor and gambling despite the public interest, to fund the government's 30% tax cut through the mismanagement of video lottery terminals and to amend certain statutes related to gambling recklessly.

Bill 75 is a sign of the economic desperation of this Comic Book Revolution, which is going to make our province less safe, less comfortable and a more divided place than ever before. It's a symbol for the Harris government: This is a machine that employs nobody, that produces nothing and preys on vulnerable people.

It is a bill that will double gambling in this province, and not just double it but double it recklessly, and create new social and economic problems for everyone who lives in this province whether they are directly involved in gambling or not. That is the truth about Bill 75 that this government doesn't have the gumption to admit.

Charities are not going to benefit from Bill 75. In fact, in the hearings which Mr Flaherty attended, organization after organization stood in front of the justice committee and said to stop the foolishness and put an end to the government's proposal to introduce these video gambling machines. They know what's been proven to happen in other provinces: that they will see a significant reduction in revenues because these new machines are actually going to confiscate the revenue they currently have from bingos and break-open tickets.

The public interest: When we talk about how this government even has a notion of the public interest, how it can be served by the infiltration, the placement, of slot machines into various neighbourhood bars and restaurants, there's not one thing we hear from the other side of the House that tells us how that suddenly magically became part of the public interest when the Treasurer found out his numbers didn't add up.

The chief of police of the London police service, Julian Fantino, who is also the chairman of the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, has said unequivocally that the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario is not in favour of video lottery terminals.

Mr Flaherty laughs because this is not a concern for this government. It is not a concern that the person in charge of the coordinating service dealing with organized crime in this province says, "Don't do video lottery terminals" and advised this government of that as early as August. We introduced that letter in August to the committee. Staff inspector Paul Gottschalk, who has the responsibility to clean up after this new mess that this government wants to bring in, this new mess that is brand-new with this government -- this is a Mike Harris government mess that is coming in and it's only going to be cleaned up by the police. Staff inspector Paul Gottschalk and staff sergeant Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gaming commission have expressed significant reservations about the introduction of these video gambling machines into Ontario.

How come, when the police are saying that video gambling machines are a bad thing -- that they bring in organized crime; that they'll increase the number of illegal gaming machines in this province; that indeed they're doing the opposite of what this government tried to have us believe it was pretending to do all the while, when it's simply about bringing more money in; that in fact having legal machines makes it harder to spot which ones are illegal -- how the heck can these people argue even for a second, let alone label a bill, that it's in the public interest in terms of Bill 75?

The members of this government have shown us one thing conclusively through the course of the hearings and the coverup that's happened in this House: that they're addicted to gambling revenue. They can't get away from it. The idea of taking money from people in this form is something this government can't get away from. Its reckless promise of a 30% tax cut, without any consideration for how that could be done under these fiscal conditions, without any forethought whatsoever, is why this government now has to mainline gambling in this province, has to retain that addiction.

The government is going to introduce slot machines in each of the members opposite's neighbourhoods -- I'm sure they're going to be there -- which bring in, in Alberta, $50,000 for the government per machine. That's $50,000 times 20,000 video gambling machines. That's $50,000 coming out of the local economy that could be spent in and stay in the neighbourhood, but instead it needs to feed this tax cut.

The members opposite know the truth. The members opposite know this will harm their communities. But these members know also that Bill 75 --


The Acting Speaker: There's too much yelling back and forth. I suggest that there is time for debate for all parties and that you use that time when it's your turn.

Mr Kennedy: The agitation on the other side of the House is well understood, given the seriousness of the dereliction of duty from what they were expected to do. They did not tell their constituents that they would be bringing in video gambling when they got elected last time. This is a brand-new twist of the Comic Book Revolution, because the numbers don't add up.

This government is ignoring the advice of all the experts we heard that Bill 75 will change the social fabric of this province. It will put hard gambling into local neighbourhoods, thereby increasing addiction, petty crime and family breakdown. Gambling in this province will become even more chaotic than it already is.

The arrogance of this government, to not even take any of that responsibility. People who look at this bill and try to find any semblance of taking responsibility will be sadly disappointed. In fact, this government has proven itself so disinterested in the ill effects of video slot machines that it couldn't even be bothered to read a report prepared by the Ontario Provincial Police, Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, that says, "The government has presented organized-crime groups with the vehicle for them to carry on with the job they know best." It is the height of irresponsibility for this government to proceed with this bill.

Let's not just talk about illegal gambling. Let's look also at the kind of so-called legal gambling that this government wants to introduce. The report, as described in the Globe and Mail, goes on to say that illegal gambling is used to raise money and legal gambling is used to launder money. The Globe and Mail reporter writes, "The report throws cold water on claims" that we heard again moments ago from the Premier and the minister, on the claims by this government "that the way to deal with 25,000 illegal gambling machines...is to make video lottery terminals legal."

That isn't in fact a possibility. Our own police services have told this government that, and the only response we get is that either it doesn't care enough to read the report or isn't smart enough to figure it out when they read it. Then, I guess, we're to believe from this government that if it did know about that, it's covering it up in the public interest.

Detective Sergeant Dave Homenuck, who wrote the police report, says: "Legal gambling has never replaced illegal gambling; in fact, it complements it. Experts indicate that the introduction of new legal games brings in new players, a significant number of whom yield to the lure of illegal gambling to satisfy their interest."


On the first day of the committee hearings into Bill 75 the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Norm Sterling, was asked if his ministry had any input, any studies about the impact of crime as the result of the introduction of video lottery terminals. He was asked as well whether his government had consulted with the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario Provincial Police or any other police sources in Ontario about their feedback on video gambling machines. I'm going to read you the minister's response, because it's a study in how this government has tried to dodge any responsibility for that part of this issue. The minister said:

"I personally have not had discussions, but the Gaming Control Commission, which is part of the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission, is in constant touch with the OPP, with all the police forces in the province of Ontario. They know what each is doing about it. In fact, the gaming commission is largely staffed by former OPP officers in terms of their operation in Windsor and in terms of a lot of their people who are involved at Rama. I suspect they would be very involved as well with regard to this. There is a very, very close tie between the Gaming Control Commission and the police forces in this province." He then reiterated his point that "the gaming commission is quite aware of the risks associated with this because it's in constant contact with the other jurisdictions."

This government said they were surprised that there was a report on gambling. They knew all along. This government has been involved in a coverup of the report at some levels and ignorance of it in others, but they have chosen not to bring forward that information which truly is in the public interest. Instead they have, as we've seen in issue after issue, sloughed it off to an unelected commission to look after the public interest. We don't find any safeguards resulting in the legislation because this government has shown no interest.

The Solicitor General certainly must have known about the report. He's admitted that now in the House in terms of the briefing note. The minister knew, in the sense that he avoided the question, and it's likely the Premier knew. It seems like everybody knew what they wouldn't tell the standing committee that had been assigned the task of reviewing Bill 75 to look after the public interest. That's when the government decided that it no longer knew about this report.

For the government to withhold that pertinent information from the committee, especially when they'd been asked to provide it, is not just negligent, it's disgraceful. Given what this government has in mind for the people of Ontario, it's a really sad day for this province to think, that a government, with undue haste because of its fiscal desperation, its willingness to put money ahead of its responsibilities, is going to introduce a minimum -- we recognize too that when we say a minimum of 20,000 machines, nowhere in the legislation is there any limit on this government; 20,000 is just the opening bid, the opening bet by this government in terms of how many machines it's going to stuff into bars and restaurants across this province.

It's going into your neighbourhood, ladies and gentlemen, and it's going to be in every neighbourhood across the province because there is no way to stop it once this bill has passed. It's happening without any consideration, not even an iota of consideration, for the consequences and with no studies at all of the social impacts of what things can happen because of it. All this is being done because the wealthiest Ontarians, in the judgement of this government, needed to have a tax cut. Well, congratulations, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure your constituents are proud of you.

Then again Ernie Eves, the honourable member for Parry Sound and Minister of Finance, said in his budget speech that he was out to do several things. We heard from the minister back in May, before a lot of this information became known, when we had the Minister of Finance talk to us about his objectives to assist Ontario's hospitality industry, that we would see from the Ontario Lottery Corp "a limited number of video lottery terminals at selected locations across the province.

"In recent years," he said, "the gaming marketplace has expanded dramatically with new products which have made it difficult to control.... It is anticipated that the establishment of" -- what he said at that time merits some attention from the members opposite -- "a tightly regulated, government-managed" video gambling "network, along with other measures announced in this budget, will counter illegal gaming activity, and impose some much-needed discipline and control into Ontario's gaming marketplace. We believe that VLTs, if implemented within tight regulatory controls and in limited-access environments, can meet a legitimate entertainment demand and provide a significant stimulus to the hospitality industry."

To recap, the minister was talking about "a limited number of video lottery terminals at selected locations" to go up against illegal gambling and meet a legitimate entertainment demand. None of this proved to be true in the course of the hearings and the other revelations that have come out: 20,000 video gambling machines, we later learned, are what this government has in mind, the largest number anywhere in the country. This government doesn't have any reference in the legislation, not one word, that says it will limit the number of video gambling machines. There is no cap on the number of machines we're going to see brought into this province.

Where is the mechanism for a tightly managed network of video gambling machines? It's not in Bill 75. There's not one reference to a tightly managed network in Bill 75. There's no mention of who's going to oversee the management of the gambling machines, who's going to purchase them, who's going to service them, what the criteria will be for choosing locations. Will they just go to the friends of the member opposite, and then perhaps those neighbourhoods will be most severely affected, perhaps justifiably? What will be the role and function of registered gaming suppliers? Who will choose and approve the choice of games? How will profits be divided between site holders and government? The list goes on of things this government has neglected to provide for, and in doing so does nothing to provide any level, let alone tight levels, of regulation for these machines. It's open season on hard gambling with the introduction of Bill 75.

They tell us nothing about it except that they're going to be introduced, and a nice concession from the government is that they'll be age-restricted. So we have the spectacle of the government, a year after cigarette machines were brought out of bars and restaurants because they couldn't be kept away from minors, bringing in gambling machines because suddenly they have the confidence that they can do the same with that. There's an extremely large gap between what this government says they may do, what they might do, what we ought to trust them to do and what's actually in the legislation. It's a gap that's as large as the credibility this government has now put on the line in terms of saying that this type of gambling is a benign form of entertainment.

There are 15,586 licensed establishments in Ontario and 33 liquor licence inspectors, and now they're also going to become gaming inspectors. Each licensed establishment is inspected, on average, once every five years. How is the new gaming commission possibly going to regulate 20,000 new video lottery terminals, video gambling machines?

Here in Metropolitan Toronto there are currently four officers dealing with all the problems of gambling. The officer in charge says that when you bring in these machines, he's going to need 100 officers to just have a start at regulating the new crime this government is bringing in along with its bill. We asked the responsible minister, the Solicitor General, the other day in the House, would he commit right now at this time to that level of enforcement, and he would not do so. We have nothing from that side of the House to tell us that there should be any level of confidence in how we should view this legislation.

Section 207(4) of the Criminal Code allows for the introduction of gambling only if the government of the province undertakes to conduct and manage the video lottery scheme. You have to "conduct and manage" it to fit under this exception in the Criminal Code. There is nothing at all -- the public needs to know this, the grossest omission possible -- nothing that talks to the operation of the scheme. In fact, we've been advised by a professor of law at the University of Toronto that your scheme to bring in video gambling machines is probably illegal because of your lack of responsibility in defining how you're going to conduct and manage these games of chance.

To suggest somehow that by introducing these 20,000 slot machines you're suddenly going to be able to wipe out any illegal activity is ludicrous. How does the proliferation of illegal machines justify the introduction of legal ones? Because we have a problem with illegal drugs and prostitution, does that mean your next step, the next bills you're introducing, is the sanctioning of brothels and crack houses? How will your average video lottery player know whether or not he or she is playing on an illegal machine? We've only just learned that in Quebec there's been a resurgence, an increase, of illegal VLTs because the operators get only 20% of the profit, which is twice as much as you're proposing to share with operators here, from a legal machine but they get 50% from an illegal one. There's absolutely no reason we should believe this government when it talks about controlling the criminal activity that's happening today.


When we speak about entertainment, how can one so classify this machine, which has caused a surge in other provinces of appointments and treatment for gambling addiction because of the problems it creates in terms of people's addiction to it, because of the extra ways that this works to bring people to a point where they no longer can control their actions, and here we have this government importing this particular device? What is entertaining about the fact that now, and only since the introduction of video gambling, there is more money being spent on average on gambling in that province than there is on basic necessities like food? What is entertaining about the fact that at a gambling conference last week in Manitoba, addiction specialists from across the country confirmed that the widespread availability of video gambling has led to a pronounced increase in addiction treatment? With the fact that money that would be spent on shelter, food and clothing is now being spent by many to feed gambling addictions, including shortly the one of this government, and that marriages and families are suffering as a result, are we to believe that the members opposite find that entertaining?

I have with me an article from Thursday's Winnipeg Free Press. It's about a man who last Saturday committed suicide because of his addiction to video lottery terminals. His family is holding Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon personally responsible for this gentleman's death and has asked that he attend the funeral. Filmon is responsible, claim the victim's family, because he is the leader of the government responsible for the proliferation of video lottery terminals across the province. On the Friday night before his death, this gentleman borrowed $800 from his cousin and proceeded to the hotel where he was seen playing the slot machines. After his death, the family found $1.82 in his account.

Mr Speaker, don't take my word for any of this. Let's instead consider the submissions of the hundreds of witnesses who either appeared before the standing committee on administration of justice or who presented written deputations.

Let's start with the Addiction Research Foundation. Mr Robin Room, vice-president of research at the Addiction Research Foundation, made his presentation last August 7. The research foundation, as many of you will know, is engaged in research, treatment and education programs to prevent and reduce the harm associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. They are also, however, authorized to work on gambling problems.

Bill 75, said Mr Room, concerns the regulation of two popular commodities: alcohol and gambling. He added he was confident that the province would get substantial revenues, because people are willing to pay. The government knows the weakness here. They know that the public is willing to pay substantially more than the cost of production and distribution for these pleasures.

Mr Room referred to a 1994 survey on the harmful effects of gambling. That survey concluded that 4% of Ontario adults reported harm to their family's financial position from their own gambling in the past 12 months, and about 1% reported problems in each of the other life areas: their home life or marriage; their friendships or social life; their work, studies or employment; and their physical health. Mr Room concluded that the survey confirmed that along with pleasure and pain for the gambler or drinker, there is much potential harm for other people.

The standing committee also heard from the Thunder Bay branch of the Addiction Research Foundation, from Mr Lyle Nicol, a consultant in community programs and a front-line worker. Mr Nicol had this to say about your Bill 75: "Video lottery terminals are considered to be the most addictive form of gambling. Government officials in Montana have suggested that VLTs have definitely increased the number of compulsive gamblers in that state, based primarily on the dramatic increase in the number of Gamblers Anonymous chapters since the introduction of the machines."

The fact that money that would otherwise be spent on basic needs is now being consumed by these addictions unfortunately does not twig any of the requisite responsibility that we need to see on the part of this government. It is not troubled by the readily available facts that "In Manitoba, 85% of clients being treated for compulsive gambling have problems with video lottery terminals, while in Saskatchewan and Alberta the numbers are about 75% and 65% respectively....the number of Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Winnipeg has doubled since video lottery terminals came to town in 1993. Some of the most compelling reasons for playing video lottery terminals are:" -- things that should have been known and should have been looked into by this government -- "winning money, lights, sound," the combination of video games, "...an escape from reality, excitement, instant gratification, they are current, modern and seem to be," according to this expert, "a benign relative of personal computers" and they appear to be, on the surface, a game of skill when they are in fact games of chance.

Mr Nicol also shares Mr Room's assertion that VLTs in licensed establishments -- and we've heard about this recently in Alberta, to be confirmed by the fact of new problems, that they're finding they give rise to cross-abuse problems involving both alcohol and gambling.

I want just to take another minute to read Mr Nicol's summation: "VLTs are a seductive form of gambling that can be very addictive, isolate people and promise instant gratification. The reality is that more people lose than win and in most treatment options, VLT players represent the largest percentage of people who are actively seeking help for gambling problems. All of these issues must be taken into account before these machines are allowed to become accessible to consumers in Ontario."

The Addiction Research Foundation is one of the leading and perhaps the foremost source of information on addiction in this province. In both of these submissions, the government heard at first hand what the result and what the danger is of bringing video lottery slot machines into neighbourhoods across this province, what the dangers will be to individuals, to families, to employers and to communities. Surely this government cannot wilfully ignore the warnings that were presented to the standing committee on administration of justice and continue to go down this slippery slope. It has an obligation, and we will remind it in the faint hope that this government at the last hour will recognize it, to the health and wellbeing of all the individuals in this province. It has an obligation to try and uphold the quality of life that exists here. Video lottery terminals will reshape the social fabric this province is made of and it will be this government that will be held responsible.

Let me turn back to the point of charities, which I touched on earlier. Bill 75, according to the minister opposite, will increase revenues for charities. After all, we remember the title is "to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest," and "to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming." You would think, therefore, that the charitable organizations of Ontario would be jumping up and down, that they'd be lobbying the Liberal members and the NDP members of this House and encouraging us to stop our attacks on this proposed legislation. Funnily enough, that's not happening, and this is certainly not what we heard at the standing committee hearings.

Charities First Ontario is a not-for-profit, voluntary organization with a membership of over 70 umbrella charitable organizations, including the March of Dimes. Each member organization represents many branches, affiliates and members. When their chairperson, Jeff Wilbee, appeared before the committee, he represented the charitable sector and thousands of volunteers. He had this to say about your video gambling machines: "The revenue from VLTs will have to be much greater than the loss in order for it to strongly appeal to charities. Under the proposed scheme, as we understand it, we not only lose revenue, we lose autonomy. Charities are interested in earning money, not just asking for handouts through the process of filling out grant request forms to some adjudication body. The present break-open ticket and bingo programs allow for autonomy while raising the revenue."

Ron Callaghan, who's with the industry that provides the services to charities and break-open tickets, had this to say, that there is a move "contrary to the best interests of charitable funding, particularly the break-open ticket market, as VLTs will most certainly have a negative effect on the revenues derived" from that form of fund-raising. "This negative effect will be most profound if these VLTs are allowed in bars and restaurants," as you are proposing.

The experience in Alberta, where community agencies have lost up to 41% of their fund-raising revenues from break-open tickets since the introduction of VLTs, is clear. Though not necessarily comparable, it's an indication of what's going to happen here in Ontario when the charitable sector that currently depends on break-open tickets is faced with competition, not from any other sector but the government -- the government that wants to confiscate their money because it can't add up its own books. Alberta did not have the well-developed third-party sales of break-open tickets in convenience stores that have been developed here, but because of that, the assumption of the industry is that Ontario's charitable sector will suffer an even greater loss to this government's greed than the 41% their counterparts lost in Alberta.


The list doesn't stop here. Other charitable organizations that appeared before the standing committee opposed to the introduction of VLTs in licensed premises included such famous rabble-rousers as the Arthritis Society, the Dixie-Bloor Neighbourhood Centre, B'nai Brith Canada, the Charitable Gaming Federation of Ontario, Operation Go Home of the greater Toronto area, the National Broadcast Reading Service, B'nai Israel Brotherhood, Persons United for Self-Help of Thunder Bay, Skills Canada and so on.

This bill represents an attack on the ability and the sustainability of those charities. Those charities were not consulted ahead of time, those charities were not offered the option of not having VLTs, and those charities have told this government a resounding no to Bill 75. Yet this government has the audacity to not even acknowledge their concerns in the way it introduces this legislation.

This government also proposes to bring in, it says, charitable gaming halls, which are really, if they were being a tiny bit clear and straightforward about this, casinos. They're bringing in mini-casinos with 100 video lottery terminals and 40 tables at each location. These are not just charitable enterprises. There's nothing even mini about that. These are casinos now that this government is breaking its promise on and not even putting to local referenda.

One of the most interesting developments since this bill has been passed is the response that's come forward from municipalities. Municipalities in surprising numbers are passing resolutions to prevent the introduction of video lottery terminals into their jurisdictions. I have a list of 45 municipalities that have opposed video lottery terminals outright. I have another list of 12 municipalities that want to have a local option, which at one time you promised could happen, to determine for themselves if these video gambling machines should be in their neighbourhoods. That's 56 jurisdictions that are concerned with Bill 75. This list is going to become larger and larger as time goes on.

You need to know, because you haven't listened well, that the city of Barrie, the city of Owen Sound, the town of Bancroft, the town of Parry Sound, Timmins, North York, the city of Etobicoke, Waterloo, Mississauga, the township of Norfolk, the town of Kincardine and, interestingly enough, of course, as mentioned earlier in the House, the city of North Bay, the Premier's home town, passed resolutions banning video lottery terminals. But the government doesn't want to listen to North Bay, it doesn't want to listen to the interests of average people in this province, because Bill 75 is the way that it's going to milk vulnerable people, it's going to milk small towns of the money that used to go to charities. It's going to take money away from people who used to spend it on things that circulated in the community.

It's obvious that this government is starting to have a problem on its hands. Fifty-six municipalities want to decide for themselves whether or not video lottery slot machines should be permitted to appear in their neighbourhood bars and restaurants. What is this government going to do? Is it going to allow them to make this decision on their own or is it going to do what it appears to be set up to do with its introduction for third reading and turn a deaf ear simply because it's so attached to the money it has to bring in?

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says, "A direct reference to local consultation in the act would have demonstrated the government's commitment to strengthen local government autonomy." Instead, AMO goes on to note, "The government should also have ensured a portion of VLT revenues remain in the community." The province has done nothing to address the concerns of local municipalities that remain opposed to Bill 75.

Minister, if this government in its wisdom passes Bill 75, will you give municipalities a legislated option of refusing video slot machines in their boundaries, and will you at the same time legislate that a portion of VLT revenues remain in the community from which they were derived? Because we're sucking out thousands, and indeed millions, and in totality probably close to $1 billion, from local communities simply to feed the mismanagement of this government.

It's obvious from what we observed in the committee that this government was not interested in the submissions that we heard. It is obvious that Bill 75 is before us today without any amendment.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): You sucked money out in taxes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Etobicoke-Humber.

Mr Kennedy: After three weeks of committee hearings, the government has not incorporated the recommendations of even one of its witnesses. Not one single recommendation was paid attention to by this government. It's even more obvious when you look at the committee proceedings on September 30. Some information had been brought to my attention that the government had already begun the process of lining up VLT manufacturers and suppliers.

Even before this bill has been passed in the House, Mr Flaherty here opposite has admitted that the Ontario Lottery Corp has advertised for expressions of interest from suppliers and manufacturers. He's also admitted that a request for proposal, a demand for someone to fill a position for consultant, had already gone out. It is my understanding that this contract has now been filled and we know that an individual, even as we speak, even as this government purports to be interested in the views of the members of this House, is already working on the implementation of VLTs. It shows quite clearly, as Hansard did that day, Mr Flaherty, that your government's intentions here are simply to make this happen in as quick a manner as possible without any regard for the social consequences, without any regard for the opinions expressed by municipalities, members of the public, charities and indeed members of this House.

Precluding any conclusions being drawn by the standing committee and precluding the debate we have today in this House, we have this government already going ahead with video gambling machines. This government is not interested, and probably was never interested, to know what people had said in the hearings and the considerations of the members here today. The hearings, as the hiring of a consultant and the lack of changes in the bill demonstrate quite clearly, were a sham to cover this government's activity. At the very same time they were consulting with us, they had people hired and going around actually implementing their plans. They did this in the face of what we have to refer to as insurmountable evidence about the danger of video slot machines.

This government is already looking at manufacturers and suppliers and has a consultant working on implementing this system, even though this government knew ahead of time -- even though it tried to avoid as much of the information as possible -- that 125,000 people in Alberta are addicted to electronic slot machines. They may want to pay attention to this: In 1995, a public opinion survey in Alberta showed that more than two thirds of the public in that province are against video gambling machines.

While there is no courage yet on that side of the House, no one willing to speak against this proliferation of gambling, when the opponents complain that the machines are too addictive and argue the social damages outweigh the monetary benefit, we may yet get a member on the government side to pay attention. The government in that province was forced to cap the number of video gambling machines. They had to make sure that they listened to the public, and there may yet come a day for your government to do the same.

In Manitoba, since they brought in their video gambling machines, Manitobans have increased their average spending on gambling, so that's more than basic foodstuffs like bread, milk, eggs and vegetables. From Manitoba we've learned the phrase that's been coined, "the crack cocaine of gambling." You, and you alone -- not any government before you, but you, the Mike Harris Conservative government -- are bringing the crack cocaine of gambling into Ontario.

In June 1996, the Manitoba government was forced to reduce the number of video gambling machines by 10%. They reduced the number of VLTs on one site from 40 to 30. They implemented a program to review video lottery gambling in an attempt to balance its gambling habit. It's too little too late. When we look in the legislation, what protection, what severe discipline is this government under? How is it going to control its addiction? It's going to review the effects of Bill 75 once every five years. That will, unfortunately, be too late -- too late for the people affected in this province and too late for this government because it won't be around to see what happens five years from now.

In 1995, quite interestingly for this government, there was courage shown when the British Columbia government introduced its own Bill 75 and then reversed its decision. It had the courage to listen to the people in the community. It wasn't as greedy as this government is. The Nova Scotia government, in 1993, took back two thirds of its video gambling machines, what you guys are proposing to send out.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member from Durham, the member for Etobicoke-Humber, please.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): They're in bed with the mob --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, I won't accept that. Please withdraw, and that's it.


Mr Pouliot: Since we don't court the same circles as they, I will withdraw, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: No, no. Just withdraw, please.

Mr Pouliot: I shall indeed, out of respect to you, Mr Speaker, withdraw.

Mr Kennedy: We understand well the consternation on the other side of the House, because at least a few of the people on the other side of the House have the same gut feeling that this is wrong, that caused legislators in 42 American states to ban VLTs in bars and restaurants. But we see no such expression of courage yet on the part of the other side of the House.

In Winnipeg last week, the largest-ever gambling conference, unfortunately necessitated by governments like the one opposite, had to come together to discuss the impact of gambling, and it confirmed that the bulk of addiction gambling problems are with video gambling machines and not with casinos, video gambling machines that are going to be called in future Mike Harris gambling machines because they are unique to this government. It's a unique form of gambling that this government is making available to every neighbourhood in the province.

The people who play VLTs are by far the largest recipients of gambling addiction treatment programs in the western provinces. But thanks to the efforts of many people across this province and despite the best efforts of this government, nobody's going to be able to say that this government went into this mess with their eyes closed -- with their minds closed, that's to be sure, but not their eyes -- because there's evidence everywhere about the negative impacts about video gambling machines. There's evidence from police, from our own addiction specialists, from community and charitable organizations and from the other Canadian provinces. This fallout will be on this government's head and they will deserve it.

Lastly, I want to acquaint the public with the things that this Bill 75 does not say, because it's far more important than the small scanty details this government had the courage to put forward. There is nothing in this legislation that tells us the number of video slot machines that will be introduced, not one iota. There is nothing to tell us the number of VLTs that each establishment will have in it. There is nothing to say whether there will be any kind of limit on the payout that comes from a video gambling machine, even whether or not this government will allow players to have direct access to their credit cards or to cheque-cashing opportunities while they're playing -- protections that have been asked for by addiction organizations across the province.

There is absolutely nothing, despite what this minister has said, despite what has been said before in the House, in the legislation committing this government to put one cent into addiction gambling. There is nothing that says 1% or 10% or anything will go into the addiction that this government knows full well it's bringing to this province. There is nothing to say how much the government share will be or how much a proprietor will receive. There is nothing that legislates that 2% of revenue will go to gambling and problem addiction. There is nothing that says the government's share of revenue will be allocated towards reducing the debt or any other initiatives in society. There is nothing to tell us that if the money goes to charity they can depend on this greedy government to do it in a fair and unbiased manner, when they take the money out of all the local towns and cities across the province, bring it to Toronto, take it away from those local organizations and then make them come begging for it.

There is nothing that will legislate additional funding for any incremental policing that our police enforcement agencies have told us they're going to need to control VLTs. There is nothing that says there will be an increase in inspectors to carry out the increase in responsibilities to prevent youths, to prevent others, from using these machines, and it's all part of a pattern of recklessness that this bill is about.

There's nothing to tell us who will oversee the management of VLTs to prevent criminal organizations from becoming involved, as they have elsewhere, who is going to purchase the machines, who's going to service them and what will be the criteria for choosing locations.

In closing, there is nothing that this government has done to deal with the very real concerns of Ontarians, and everyone on the other side of this House should hang their head in shame.

Mr Crozier: I rise today to add to the comments of my colleague from York South on Bill 75. I want to say at the outset that we have heard from many people, many groups across the province of Ontario about this bill. We had three weeks of hearings in which there was a very strong lobby from various groups, those being the hospitality industry, the horse racing industry, the charities, and individuals.

We've all heard the same thing. It's curious to me, but I suppose not unusual, that we interpret it differently.

It was said earlier today by one of the members across that, yes, we had heard from the racing industry and the hospitality industry and that they've listened to them, and so have we. The thing we have listened to that concerns us the most is those charities that we have heard from that are going to be cannibalized by these machines and the public we have heard from who fear the effects it's going to have on our social structure.

After having heard all that, I'm comfortable with my position. I'm comfortable because I think we've listened and we've come to some compromise on this bill, quite frankly, contrary to the government. I only wish, although I doubt, that some government backbenchers will have the courage to stand up and speak against this bill if they truly feel there are some parts of it that they are not comfortable with. I challenge those members to stand and give comment on those parts of the bill that they are not comfortable with.

This bill, as we are told, is An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming. Quite frankly, there are parts of this bill that we didn't attempt to amend that would seem reasonable on their own. But when you look at the compendium of the bill and it says that it's to provide for the future transfer of the regulatory functions of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to the new commission, that's a reasonable thing to look at. This bill, in the end, did not centre on those recommendations. But it's the one that says it's to provide for the management of video lottery terminals by the Ontario Lottery Corp and for the regulation of suppliers of video lottery terminals and for prohibitions with respect to the use of or access to VLTs by persons under the age of 19 that we have some grave concern with.

Speaker, I think you know as well as I and the rest of the members of this Legislature that the official debate will carry on, and at some point either the debate will end by mutual consent or perhaps the government will have to bring in closure, but nothing is going to change. Through you, Speaker, I want the people of Ontario to understand today that no matter what our argument, this is a fait accompli. Unless this government comes to its senses and chooses not to ask for royal assent on this bill, it will be initiated. I only hope that people who are listening to this debate today, that people who hear about it, that people who come to a better understanding of what VLTs -- slot machines -- really are will call their MPPs, the way they've called me, and that those MPPs will take the obligation I have taken to express their opinion.

Today, unfortunately, is the beginning of a watershed for gaming in the province of Ontario. Bill 75, if you will, is an omnibus bill. Through the use of a few clauses, it has the power to exponentially increase gambling across the province of Ontario and to increase government's hand in gambling across the province of Ontario.

I've become convinced throughout the hearings that the one area that's most addicted to gambling in this province is the government itself. Only a few weeks before this bill was introduced, I feel reasonably certain that video slot machines were not on the table. But the finance people came to the government and they said: "Well, Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves, we've got a problem. We need more money, and slot machines are the revenue-makers that we need."


If you think about it, governments over the years have all contributed to the debt of this province. But this government, even before it reaches its mandate but near the end of its mandate, has already told us that the public debt is going to increase from $100 billion to approximately $120 billion.

How is that $120 billion broken down? Well, the Liberal government, in its time, contributed $4 billion to the debt. The NDP government, in its time, contributed $61 billion to the debt. But the provincial Conservative governments -- and we can talk about these figures later but I suspect they're within a billion or so of being correct -- will have over the years contributed $55 billion to the public debt.

How did they do this? They've already contributed $35 billion up to when they were last in power and they're telling us now they're going to go out and borrow another $20 billion so that they can afford to give a tax cut. Notwithstanding the fact that they are going to have to borrow $20 billion to do that, the finance guys have come along and said: "That's not enough. You've got to find some more revenue." So they've gone to video slot machines in bars and restaurants to help solve their problem.

Make no mistake. Bill 75, despite its brevity, is a reckless, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants document. It opens the door, as my colleague has said, to a form of gaming that other jurisdictions have dared to adopt, and some have not adopted it at all. Yet as we sit here today, this government has taken little heed of those warnings. The government's motive, I suggest, is purely greed. Plain and simple, they need the money. You won't hear the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations say that, nor will the Minister of Finance say that, although we know that finance officials are already counting the money.

However, Ab Campion, director of communications for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, conceded, "I don't think anybody would deny that revenue had a lot to do with it." He went on to admit, and I quote, "Everybody is trying to do it as quickly as possible," under orders from on high. That was quoted in the Windsor Star of May 1, 1996.

What you will hear the ministry say, however, is that there is a burning need to control illegal VLTs in the province. Of course the OPP is strongly silent on this, or at least careful with their words on the issue, because they're not fools. They know who their bosses are. However, Sergeant Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gaming division said that just because the government legalizes VLTs, or video slot machines, doesn't mean the illegal machines will disappear. Sergeant Larry Moodie says: "There's too much profit in it. It will take substantial enforcement to do that."

During the public hearings, we heard what I will call the government's witnesses drone on about the need to give their industry a boost, about how we can attract tourists with these machines. The truth is, the restaurants and bars in this province should be selling food and drink to the best of their competitive abilities. If VLTs are to be the saviour, it says a lot more about the problems within the industry than we may know.

We're heard that licensed establishments in Alberta became more dependent on video slot machines and patrons shifted the money they spent from food and alcohol to the machines. This was reported in the Toronto Star in August 1996. The answers to the hospitality industry's problems lie more with consumer confidence and with the ability to help them attract tourism to the province for its beauty and for what it has to offer all tourists, family tourists. I really question whether a video slot machine in a corner bar is going to attract very many tourists. The answer is more in service to the public and attracting the public than it is in draw poker.

You see, on the surface, Bill 75 appears to be an exercise in modernization, in streamlining, in control, in improved entertainment, and we've already heard these words from a previous minister. But what Bill 75 really does is to attempt to extract taxes on a voluntary basis. The government will be in effect bribing the province's charitable groups, the hospitality industry, the raceways, and all along it will be able to mitigate its social concerns by getting a piece of the action. It's clear that that part of Bill 75 has a social and moral component.

Having said that, I would also suggest that much of Bill 75 is workable. We have no interest in attempting to legislate morality, but we strongly feel that something needs to be done in the area of gaming policy in the province of Ontario. Bill 75 doesn't do that. It completely ignores the fact that what has happened in gaming over the last three governments has been ad hoc. Unfortunately, what could have been a forum for hearing what the public really thinks about the issues such as the proper role of charitable casinos, the desirability of lottery terminals, didn't happen. The government has already made a value judgement about their existence -- this, of course, despite the promise of consultation on the issue before legislative action. Instead, we had a committee of the Legislature soliciting views on a bill that's being pushed through the Legislature.

I'd like to speak for a few minutes about trends. First, we know this: VLTs are in eight other provinces, as well as in some US states. What can we learn from them? We can learn that at the very least, we must tread carefully. The Premier, it seemed, used to be of this view. In a letter from Mr Harris to Charities First Ontario, the Premier said, "A Harris government will not move on VLTs until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues." This was in a letter to John Chalmers, chairman of the Charitable Gaming Alliance, May 16, 1995.

Let me emphasize that what the speaker said was "until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues." The government has said, "We're going to give you 10%." There's been no agreement on the distribution of revenues. It's just as simple as that: "We're going to give you 10%. We're pretty generous." They haven't said how that 10% is going to be distributed to the charities across Ontario; they haven't said how they'll be affected, how they're going to be reimbursed for the money that's cannibalized by these machines.

"All impacts are assessed." We have yet to see one study from this government that assesses the impact of video lottery terminals, slot machines, in the province of Ontario -- not one study -- and yet the Premier said all impacts will be assessed.

We know that most of the evidence to date is either negative or it's inconclusive. We must ask then, why Bill 75? This bill not only opens the door for the introduction of video slot machines to the gaming sector but creates a dangerous merger between the gaming and liquor commissions. I say "dangerous" because there will exist an easy licensing mechanism for video slot machines in licensed establishments. It's one simple amending sentence away from reality.


Efficiency arguments aside, this merger has far more implications than many of us can imagine. First, we know there aren't enough inspectors to uphold existing liquor laws in our licensed establishments. This says nothing of the illegal ones operating in the province. Second, how this supercommission, with its limited resources, is to patrol an additional 20,000 video slot machines is beyond comprehension.

The short answer is, I don't think they can do it. We have been told that illegal machines will not be eliminated by the introduction of legal machines. We're then going to have the possibility of twice as many machines than we had in the past. We asked today in the Legislature, "How do you tell, when you walk in, a legal machine from an illegal machine?"

We've also been advised today, by my colleague from York South, that with the payment of 10% or 20% from these machines -- how is that going to compare to the 50% that illegal machines pay off to their operators? The inspectors simply won't be able to do it.

This brings me to another of the government's justifications for Bill 75 and the legalization of these slot machines: the ability to control the grey market, the illegal video slot machine. As I've said, I don't think I should even have to explain why this reasoning is so ridiculous. First, if we take the minister's argument to its logical conclusion, it would result in the legalization of all formerly prohibited actions and vices. What we'd end up with then, I think, is anarchy. While I don't want to engage too much in hyperbole, I will say that at the very least the government is on a slippery slope.

Let's look at a cigarette vending machine, a proposal the Tories supported. We took them out of licensed establishments because the sale of tobacco couldn't be adequately monitored, and now we're led to believe that a barful of VLTs will be better monitored. I disagree.

Let me reiterate just a few points. The trend is towards limiting them in other provinces. Addiction studies have borne out the problems. Charities have questioned them versus other forms of gaming revenue.

Control: We want to control this type of gaming where it exists illegally. We should be enforcing laws, not watering them down.

Choice: We understand this is a muddy issue for some. Many can control the use of gambling and many cannot, yet studies have shown that this form of gambling is particularly addictive, especially for the young and the less well-off. Therefore we need to choose whether we should pursue this type of gaming at all. Second, we should ensure that communities across this province have the right to choose whether or not to allow this form of gaming on every street corner. You've heard today that over 40 municipalities have already passed resolutions opposing the introduction of VLTs, and I suspect there will be more.

It's interesting to note that the Premier's home town last week approved a motion objecting to the introduction of VLTs in their community. But I guess the Premier doesn't feel he has to listen to those who sent him to this place. I suggest that he should start listening at home. Even the Premier is being told, "We don't want video lottery slot machines in our community." If your own home town tells you that and you don't start to listen at home, you may suffer the consequences.

Let's keep in mind that we're affecting the nature of our communities in this province if and when -- and it will after this debate -- Bill 75 will pass.

This is an issue that raises a larger trend, which I mentioned at the outset: the ability of the government to function without these gaming revenues. Having our health care and education funding levels dependent upon people gambling is actually an alarming prospect, yet we're headed down that road. I've come to the conclusion, as I said before but I want to emphasize, that the provincial government is the most addicted to gambling.

We have an opportunity to pause for thought. Very little thought has gone into gaming and its policy over the last 20 years in this province. Ad hockery has been the norm. As new games are developed and introduced, be they scratch-and-win, Pro Line or 6/49, we've continually increased the pie and the slices from it. However, like all good things they must come to an end. The gaming pot is not bottomless. Even if we assume that government-sanctioned gambling is a good thing, likely we would all agree that the government must control what is otherwise so tempting to abuse. We must ask to what degree should gaming take place. We must also ask tough questions like who should decide: Is it a local issue or a provincial one?

Communities will feel the effects first hand and will be called upon to deal with the fallout of Bill 75, yet we proposed amendments to Bill 75 that would make this gaming a local option. What happened? The government side of the committee turned it down. We proposed a number of amendments based on what we had heard people across the province tell us. What happened? The government turned them down. They don't even want local communities to have the option not to have these insidious machines on their street corners.

As Eric Dowd wrote, and I quote: "Premier Mike Harris has this strict principle on gambling: He's against it unless it can make his government a lot of money."

I have with me today 58 pages of Hansard that ran over the last two or three years. Do you know what I found in them? I found a comment made by Ernie Eves on July 26, 1993: "When a government turns its back on the very principles and reasons it was elected to power, should not that government give the public an opportunity to express its opinion?" Nothing was said in the Common Sense Revolution about video slot machines. I recall on many occasions that the Premier emphasized it would be a local option, that there would be a province-wide referendum.

We're going to have at least 20,000 of these slot machines across the province with no public option, no referendum. I suggest that 20,000 is only the beginning because there's nothing in this bill that limits the number of VLTs in this province. Nothing in the bill limits the number of slot machines that can be put on every corner, virtually, of communities in this province. I think the pressure is going to be difficult to resist if the hospitality industry, when they say they would like to have the option of these slot machines, starts to come to the minister and say: "Hey, wait a minute. You gave the bar down the street five video slot machines. I want five." There are 15,000 licensed establishments in Ontario.

Mr Eves also said in that same debate, and he was talking to the government of the day, "Why won't you give the people of Ontario and" -- at that time -- "the people of Windsor the same democratic right that the people in these states have had?"


It goes on. As I said, there were 58 pages where I can take selections of quotes by Mr Eves and Premier Harris that would appear on the surface to oppose the introduction of video slot machines.

Members of this Legislature have an opportunity and a responsibility, I suggest, to look at this issue in more than just economic terms. We must look beyond solving the short-term cash crunch caused by tax cuts and large deficits. We must resist the easy way out. Above all, we must listen, not only to those with vested interests, but to those who will live with the consequences of the legislation, should it pass today.

We've heard a lot in the last couple of weeks about a report that the justice committee requested be given to us. I respect the reason that it was not. This report was called Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995. When we requested that report from the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, we were told there was confidential and sensitive information in it. There were probably names and places and strategies for fighting the criminal element in both legal and illegal gambling in the province of Ontario.

The Solicitor General stood day after day, saying, "I can't get the report because I would be criticized for interfering in the operations of the OPP." We weren't asking him to interfere in their operations. We weren't asking him to direct the OPP or any other enforcement service to act in any way. What we were asking the Solicitor General was, "Since you're responsible for the police services in this province, at least review the report and advise your cabinet colleagues and caucus colleagues of what it might contain."

At first, as a matter of fact, he denied that he knew anything about the report. Then one day outside the House, only about a week ago: "Ah, my memory is better. I just remembered. Yes, we received what they call a current issue; subject, illegal gambling; ministry, Solicitor General and Corrections; date, March 18, 1996." Before this bill was ever introduced, before the budget was ever introduced, the Solicitor General suddenly remembered there was a briefing note on that.

There are some concerned people in this province who, although they haven't circulated the report, have certainly given us access to the briefing note. In spite of our continued pleas to the Solicitor General that he share this information -- not have any effect on the operations of the OPP, just share the information with the Legislature, with his cabinet, with his colleagues at least so they might be able to decide how they feel about these insidious little machines being introduced holus-bolus across the province -- he still refuses to do that.

That leads me to quote from the current issue -- not the report; this is not Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995, prepared by the Criminal Intelligence Service, but the brief that was given to the minister. Frankly, to those across, the Solicitor General has decided it's not fit to share these concerns with you, yet you're going to have to help us decide what we're going to do with this bill.

In this ministry issue note, part of the summary says that there was a comprehensive report entitled Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995, and that the analysis shows that illegal gambling flourishes in Ontario and there's a potential for abuse in the legal gaming sector. In other words, criminals will flourish in the legal sector, not only in the illegal as they're doing now. It goes on to say that legalized gambling has never replaced illegal gambling, which has increased, with interest shown in bookies, wagering on sports events, video gambling machines and gaming houses.

I don't know what more anyone could say. I don't know what other argument we could use. I don't know what other caution we could give this government when it comes to the criminal element infiltrating legal gambling in the province than to quote from this where it specifically mentions video gambling machines: "The two major gambling activities of sports bookmaking and video gambling machines annually earn an estimated $1 billion and $500 million, respectively, for the criminal element."

Someone might say, "We're going to give them a part of the profit." It's not only the fact that the part of the take may not be enough for some of these establishments that might want to have illegal machines in them, but these legal machines don't give credit. Oftentimes an addicted gambler needs credit. I know the machines will be set up so that if you've perhaps put $10 in you can gamble your $10 away and until you put another $10 in it's not going to work for you. But the way the illegal ones work is, the person in the establishment who is responsible for these illegal machines says, "Sure, I'll advance you $100." You win, you lose, you win, you lose, but we all know that eventually you lose and he lends you another $100. That won't happen with the legal machines, so these illegal machines will still flourish. In fact, the legal machines may get them addicted, they may not have the money to play them and they may go to the illegal machines so they can borrow money to play them.

In addition, in a letter dated August 8, 1996, the acting staff inspector of special investigation services for the Metropolitan Toronto Police said this:

"We at special investigation services have received complaints from family members of those who use these machines complaining of financial devastation due to illegal VLTs. These people are the victims, and while I admit not all users are pathological gamblers, I do believe those numbers are growing and will continue to grow with the legalization of VLTs. I suggest that you will find that the growing use of VLTs is a symptom of a greater malaise related to gambling addiction. I believe those who predict the legalization of VLTs will lessen or eliminate illegal VLTs are incorrect."

It goes on to say, "Illegal machines, which are not subject to taxation or return-percentage monitoring, are virtual cash collectors and, in the absence of strong enforcement, may become indistinguishable as legitimate equipment."

The letter says, "In closing, I would like to draw your attention to the position held by the chief of police of the London Police Service, J. Fantino," who is chairman of the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, CISO. "`CISO is not in favour of the video lottery terminals. However, since the government is committed, adequate policing must be in place to properly deal with the security for the introduction of video lottery terminals.'"


Of course he put that rider on. The government has said it's going to increase it, but this bill doesn't say they're going to increase it. There is nothing in this bill that says this government has to do anything to further control illegal gambling or the criminal involvement in legal gambling in the province of Ontario -- nothing. That's all we're asking the government to do: Listen to the experts. I've barely touched on what addiction is today, all the expert opinion that we've had on addiction to gambling in this province, what it does to families, what it does to our communities. But no, we're only going to listen to those who need these insidious little machines to stimulate the patrons who come into their business. Even then, they've been warned that what really happens is that the money just goes from one area in the business to another.

I can understand why the government would pick that argument and choose only to listen to that lobby, and that's because it needs the money. That's because they've been told: "We don't have much choice. We need more revenue." Economic Development Minister Saunderson has recently said of VLTs: "They're a good source of cash. Financially, they make sense." It may make financial sense to the minister because it will help them in their revenue side, but frankly, does it make financial sense to those individuals who are going to be addicted to them? Does the $50,000 annually per machine that's possibly going to be taken out of that community make financial sense? Do they make sense to the break-open ticket people, who on numerous occasions appeared before us and feel that their industry, just the employment side of their industry, is going to be devastated, not to say how the charities that now rely on break-open tickets are going to be affected?

The government backbenchers have a better pulse for the feel of Ontario than do the ministers of this government, and they have a better pulse of Ontario than the Premier of this province when it comes to video slot machines. I know what they're hearing in the coffee shops and what I'm hearing in the coffee shops: that this government is crazy -- they use the term "crazy" -- to introduce this kind of gambling. We already have casinos. Why not just leave the slot machines in the casinos?

Mr Flaherty: They're crazy about you.

Mr Crozier: The member across, the parliamentary assistant to the minister, says, "They're crazy about you." I certainly hope so, but I'm not going to rely on that. They may be crazy about some of you. These slot machines are your machines. It was asked by the parliamentary assistant earlier today, "Who introduced gambling to Ontario?" I've not ever paid a lot of attention to gambling, but I suspect that if we go back it was a Conservative government that introduced gambling to Ontario. I suggest it was a Conservative government that was in power when the major lotteries started in the province of Ontario.


Mr Crozier: Maybe it goes back even that far, but we're giving you the opportunity to pause. We're asking that you pause, that you think of a comprehensive way that all gambling should be introduced in Ontario, but particularly that you look at video slot machines and their introduction to every corner store in the province of Ontario. Excuse me, I should correct that: We're not talking about corner stores. I got carried away with myself. We're talking about licensed bars and restaurants.

But there are some highlights from the video lottery terminal presentations that the government members may not remember. Here's what some of them had to say, and these are all in Hansard: "VLTs are a seductive form of gambling that can be very addictive, isolate people and promise instant gratification. The reality is that more people lose than win" and in most areas VLT players comprise the largest percentage of people who are actively seeking help from gambling problems. That's Lyle Nicol, the Addiction Research Foundation in Thunder Bay.

From Terry Sisson, Charitable Gaming Federation of Ontario: "Should this province want to make money at the expense of a provincial charity that is making $1 million a year for local patient services and much-needed research to find a cure for a disease that attacks 70,000 Ontario residents?" Should they make money at the expense of those provincial charities?

Here's another quote: "Under the proposed scheme as we understand it, we'll not only lose revenue, we'll lose autonomy. Charities are interested in earning money, not just asking for handouts through the process of filling out grant request forms to some body. The present break-open ticket program...allows for autonomy while raising revenue." That was from Jeff Wilbee, Charities First Ontario.

My time is coming to a close. I only wish that rather than this being a fait accompli, the government would think about this. I know it's out of the control of the backbenchers now. You've been told to vote for it and I assume you will. Many of you are team players, so you'll probably vote for this, but particularly -- no. I was going to say rural Ontario because I come from rural Ontario. I suspect it's coming from all parts of Ontario: the concern over the introduction of video slot machines in licensed establishments and bars.

I said at the outset that I'm comfortable, I'm at peace with my position on this bill. When this bill passes and I vote against it, I'll be able to go back to my community and I'll feel comfortable in the way I've represented them, and when the complaints start to come in about families that have been ruined, about charities that are losing money that's cannibalized by these machines, I'll feel comfortable that I've done all I can.

But there's still something that can be done. There are backbenchers on that side of the room, that side of the Legislature, who can stand up, have the courage to listen to some of what we have been listening to, and say: "Wait a minute, government. This bill can go so far, but as it stands now, this bill goes too far." I say to you over there that the yoke of these video slot machines and what they do to society will be on your shoulders.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Pouliot: I thank both members opposite who have spoken so well vis-à-vis what's about to happen, which is the proliferation of the worst form of junk. What is being done here is illicit, it is vile, it is immoral indeed.

The government, in its insatiable thirst for extra dollars, has passed all imaginable thresholds. Snake oil merchants -- that term isn't too strong -- opium that you smoke with your eyes and your ears. Oh, they will start slowly, with 6,000 of those unarmed bandits, then they will graduate to 20,000. They will be in bars and restaurants, and I wouldn't be surprised if they made their illicit entrance into the school rooms of this province, so you can make an offering at the altar to reconcile the almighty dollar to justify a tax cut for the winner-take-all, for the more fortunate.


Whatever happened to the idea of referendum, to municipal jurisdiction, to a local say in the affairs of your community? You will raid right at the very heart of charity organizations and religious groups. The octopus, the government does not give you a say. They're going to shove that hunk of junk down your throat and grab every penny out of your pocket. The most vulnerable will be put upside down. They will shake their legs until the last drop of blood, the last nickel drops, for the sanctity of Don Harris, and the backbenchers won't say a word because they're only soldiers in a much larger family.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Much of what we've heard here today is rhetoric and opinion. It reminds me very much of a saying I heard when I was a young boy, and that is, "Don't confuse me with facts; my mind is already made up."

The member for Essex South quoted Larry Moodie of the OPP, who has reportedly stated that the problem of illegal VLTs won't necessarily disappear because of legalization of VLTs. There are other quotations:

"The legalization of various forms of gambling, VLTs, in some provinces has significantly reduced illegal gambling activities in those areas." That was from the 1992 organized crime committee report, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

"City police forces and the RCMP indicate that current controls on VLTs in Alberta have been very effective in limiting illegal gambling. In their view, eliminating VLTs or drastically limiting their availability will only open the doors to illegal gambling." That's from the 1995 report of the Alberta lotteries review committee.

There are many, many more quotes. What I'm trying to get at here is that we have in our population 1% to 2% of the people who will gamble, who are addicted to gambling, but the vast majority of people are not addicted to it. The vast majority of people want to gamble for entertainment. In the 1920s, when we had Prohibition, the same argument could have been used that the legalization of liquor would not eliminate the illegal distribution, but it did. If we would use the same arguments that these members do, then we would still have Prohibition.

VLTs are no more addictive than --

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

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'd like to add a few comments. I listened attentively to the speeches that were made this afternoon -- to my colleague from York South; to my colleague from Essex South, the chief critic for this area -- and I think they argued and made some very good points worthy of some consideration. The question is whether that carries any weight and whether it is any part of the consideration of this bill.

I would offer two points. One is that there is, without doubt, more and more revenue being gained by this government by way of gambling. Therefore, when people say, "It looks like the government likewise is becoming addicted to gambling," it's hard for you to say, "No, it is not," because it is. Of course, when you add your objective of the deficit plus a $5-billion tax cut and you're looking for money, that's why people say you're addicted to revenues.

The argument has come back, "We want to do away with illegal video slot machines," but I contend that if you did want to do that, why would you not have said, "Fine, we will offer a 50-50 arrangement, the same way as the machine operators who operate illegally offer those who distribute to them." I'll point out to you the strategy that worked for the federal government in terms of reducing taxes to a certain level where it did not become worthwhile for people to trade in illegal tobacco. It worked. You have not offered that argument, and because of that I suspect your real motivation is to find more money for your own coffers and that you really do not care about some of the people who will be adversely affected.

Ms Martel: I want to commend both the member for York South and the member for Essex South for their comments here this afternoon. I want to reinforce two points that were made: one with respect to the concerns of the local charities that, at the end of the day, most of the charities raising money now that goes back into the community aren't going to see a penny of that money any more; and second, that the government really, really is going down the wrong track when it refuses to look at the evidence that has been placed before us by the OPP.

In the first case, the local charities that appeared in Sudbury on Tuesday, August 20, for the most part felt they were never going to see a penny of that 10% revenue the province was going to turn around and put back into the communities. The point those groups made over and over again is that through the sale of Nevada tickets, the money raised stays in the local community to be used to service the needs in the local community. They don't believe, when they have to compete against the big organized charities that have paid, full-time fund-raisers, that they're going to be able to convince the government that they're a legitimate charity, that the needs they service are legitimate ones. They believe they're going to be shut right out and shut down. Many of the groups that came forward relied on the sale of Nevada tickets and the proceeds to continue to provide the important work they do in my community. They don't believe that any kind of consultation from here on in is going to allow them to get any share of the proceeds that are going to be made here.

Second, I say again to the minister, who is here, that I cannot believe the government would not want to provide in a very public way the results from the OPP work that was done that shows the influence of the mob with respect to VLTs. Why don't you want to do that? Why don't you want to see what their concerns are? Why are you heading down this path that people who are in the know say we shouldn't be going down? Do you really need the money that badly?

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Essex South, you have two minutes.

Mr Crozier: I've repeated several times that I'm quite comfortable with my position, the position of my caucus, on this bill. I have said many times over at the committee what my position is.


Mr Crozier: There's a member across who's chirping away. Well, he wasn't at all the meetings.

The speaker from Kitchener seemed to criticize some other comment of some other agency. Well, I bring to your attention again that the élite Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario said, as recently as March of this year, that legal video gambling machines will never replace illegal machines. I present that as evidence for you, Speaker, the members of the Legislature and those who may be listening.

One has to ask finally, is it for the money? Is it only for the money? Is the government willing to risk increased crime, increased addiction, increased family problems, all for the sake of a few bucks? The next time we go to the people of Ontario, I'll be quite comfortable with having taken the position that these insidious little slot machines are not worth a few bucks.

The Deputy Speaker: Being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1800.