36th Parliament, 1st Session

L112 - Tue 22 Oct 1996 / Mar 22 Oct 1996












































The House met at 1332.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Today I rise to inform the House about yet another demonstration being organized to protest the recent fate of Sudbury's health care system as executed by the bulldozer driven by none other than the health minister. Tomorrow at 1 o'clock Sudburians will form a human chain of resistance around our community hospitals. This will symbolize that the community will stand united, resolute and fortified in its determination not to be plowed under by this government's destructive decision to eliminate hospitals, jobs and the renowned health care services that have made Sudbury the referral centre for northeastern Ontario.

The Minister of Health is wasting an undisclosed number of valuable health care dollars on a communications firm to assess public reaction to Sudbury's hospital closings. If the Minister of Health really wants to know what Sudburians are thinking, I invite him to go to Sudbury tomorrow and to talk personally with my constituents, my fellow Sudburians, who will be participating in this human chain of resistance.

The system is too small. We need more beds. We need more money reinvested. We need more operating rooms. We need better health care. Protect Sudbury's health care jobs. Ask them yourself. Are they satisfied? The answer is no. Join us in this human chain of resistance.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I couldn't agree more with the member for Sudbury, who just made a passionate statement about the diminishing of services to the people of northern Ontario and across this province.

It's in line with this that there will be a whole whack of people from Sault Ste Marie in Toronto this weekend. They'll be coming by bus and they will march up Avenue Road, literally hundreds of them, to vent their frustration, to lay in front of this House how angry they are with the agenda of this government and the impact it's having on them and their families and on their neighbours and friends in northern Ontario.

We'll be leaving Friday night at 11 o'clock from Marconi Hall, where we'll have gathered for a celebration over spaghetti and meatballs, and we'll be driving through the night to Toronto. On Saturday we'll be joining literally thousands of people from across this province to make a statement.

We hope the Premier and his cabinet will be here to see and listen and hopefully come to an understanding of the amount of frustration that's growing out there every day, with every decision that's made, with every realization of the impact of the cuts they're making on the lives of people, their families, neighbours and friends who live in communities across this province.

We'll be here from Sault Ste Marie and we'll be joining with people from Timmins, Hamilton, Windsor and Sudbury, from every community, nook and cranny across this province. We'll walk proudly up Avenue Road to say to this government, "Stop it, and stop it now."


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It's my honour to announce that once again it's time to celebrate Ontario Library Week. During this week, millions of people across Ontario will be celebrating the vital contribution that libraries make to their communities.

Libraries are more than just books; they are about people learning, growing and coming together as a community. It is fitting, then, that this year's theme is "The Power and the Beauty of the Word." It reminds us that in this fast-paced information age the word is one of the most basic units of conveying information. In its spoken, written or electronic form the word is fundamental to human culture and civilization. We'll be judged by future generations on the words we leave behind, something we should remember in this House.

As keepers, organizers and purveyors of the word in all its forms, libraries and librarians play a central role in the development of human culture. Today in Ontario, libraries are helping to shape the future by providing access to information in their community, in the nation and in the world.

Yesterday this government publicly recognized four libraries that exemplify the vital role libraries play in everyday living. The Peterborough, the Pickering, the Etobicoke and the North Bay public libraries received the 1996 Public Library Service Award for excellence and innovation.

I urge everyone to spread the word about Ontario's libraries, to continue using them and to join us in celebrating this marvellous community resource.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I think it's important for the people in Ontario to know that the family support plan is still in a state of absolute chaos. No matter what the Attorney General says about systems being up to date, it's a mess.

My constituents know that. We have parents, families, mothers and children who are not yet receiving their benefits, and it's very important that the people of Ontario know this has to be fixed. I have various constituents: Lise Versteegh, for one. Her money has been lost, they tell her -- totally unacceptable. This is not good enough. It's got to be fixed.

I have a letter here from Geraldine Kakeeway, a Thunder Bay resident who has done everything to make sure things are done right. This is to the Attorney General. She writes:

"You are not fulfilling your obligations as a government agency. I fought hard to ensure that my daughter's father would meet his financial obligation to her and now this is not the case of a deadbeat parent but a `deadbeat' bureaucracy that is failing to meet its mandate to children. You're backlogged I'm sure, but whatever reason my daughter's child support is lost somewhere and I am holding your agency responsible because in the chain of events, your link is where I see the failure has occurred. I am frustrated and very angry. Winter is on the way and my daughter needs warm clothing and I am relying on the child support" plan "to purchase what she needs for the upcoming cold season."

Minister, what are you doing about this situation? The minister cannot pretend the system is in good shape. It is not. It must be fixed, and the people of Ontario must fight to get this fixed.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mr Speaker, I'd like to bring to your attention a situation in my riding in regard to a woman who is now on a waiting list to get medical services out of Mount Sinai Hospital. She has been, through her doctor and through specialists, trying to be referred into Mount Sinai and she's been accepted for surgery that is needed in order to correct a problem she is having.


To her surprise, after being told that she was going to get this appointment some time in February without a real date being tied to it, she received a letter from the hospital that says:

"This year government funding to Mount Sinai Hospital has been reduced by $18 million." This is even after the minister has said there has been no cuts to health care.

"Although this decrease poses an enormous challenge, we are determined to maintain the high quality of care." What's really of concern is the following comment in this letter. It says:

"In these challenging economic times, the ability of Mount Sinai Hospital to maintain its high standard of patient care and research is more dependent than ever on private funding."

This constituent from Timmins, prior to being admitted, is being asked to send a contribution to Mount Sinai Hospital because your government and the Minister of Health, Mr Wilson, has cut the health care budget in the province of Ontario, and this patient wonders: "If I send the dollars, does that mean to say I will be guaranteed a spot at Mount Sinai Hospital? If I don't send the dollars, will I not get into Mount Sinai Hospital?" Is this the kind of health care you're talking about, where people are going to have to pay to get in? I'm very much afraid this is where this is leading to.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I would like to bring to your attention a special week dedicated to some very special people. This week we celebrate and promote foster families across Canada. Canadian Foster Family Week acknowledges the contributions of foster families and raises the awareness of the work they do in caring for the greatest resource we have, our children.

Foster families offer loving care and safe homes for children who are unable to live with their natural families. These special families fill a genuine need to provide for the emotional and physical wellbeing of these children.

The work of fostering is challenging, demanding, frustrating, enriching and rewarding. For many years, foster families have risen to those challenges and dedicated their time and energies into helping these children.

In Ontario we are fortunate to have more than 4,500 foster families who open their homes and their hearts to 20,000 foster children every year. I would like to congratulate the Canadian Foster Family Association for working so hard to organize this special week. Since 1989 they have dedicated the third week in October to recognize the contributions of foster families.

On behalf of the Ontario government, it is a privilege for me to congratulate foster parents and to thank them for the difference they have made in the lives of so many children.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I wanted to comment on the employment situation in Ontario. We all remember that Mike Harris ran on a platform of creating 725,000 jobs over the next five years. It was a very specific promise, and we now know that the government is falling far behind its objectives.

Yesterday we looked at the numbers. You promised by now there'd be 180,000 jobs created; you're now running 80,000 jobs behind. We find there are actually 57,000 more people out of work in the province of Ontario in September of this year than there was a year ago.

We have a serious employment problem in the province of Ontario. Even in the budget, the government itself is predicting that in 1998, three years after the new government got elected, there will be more people out of work in the province of Ontario than there was in 1995 -- in other words, three years, well into the mandate, more people out of work in the province of Ontario.

We have a crisis in employment. Yesterday we asked the Premier to address it. He essentially said there is no problem. Don't worry about it. It's all solved. Well, we have a crisis in jobs: 57,000 more people out of work in the province of Ontario. It is time the government said, "Yes, we have a serious problem and, yes, we are not going to simply slough it off; we are going to tackle it." You are going to be held accountable for the increasing number of people out of work in the province of Ontario.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On Saturday October 19, 1996, one of our famed historians, Brian Henley, wrote in the Hamilton Spectator: "In all of downtown Hamilton, there is no spot more important as a reflection of the city's history, its growth and development and its potential for a strong rejuvenation than Gore Park and, especially, the Gore's landmark fountain."

On Saturday, hundreds of Hamiltonians gathered to rededicate the new fountain which is there to replace the one we lost in 1959, originally dedicated and installed in 1860, as part of our sesquicentennial celebrations, and many people deserve credit for that event.

First and foremost is Dennis Missett, who is the chairman of the fountain foundation but also came up with the original idea. Margaret Houghton is president of the Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society and played a key leadership role, as did former Hamilton Mayor Jack MacDonald and current Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow. Ray Harris played a key role also as the past president of the Downtown Business Improvement Area; as well as Jude Johnson, our musical ambassador, who is there for every important event in Hamilton. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment band under the directorship of Mike Rehill played a key role, and all of it was excellently orchestrated by Bob Bratina, who was the master of ceremonies and is a well-known broadcaster at CHML radio station in Hamilton.

I urge all Hamiltonians and those who visit Hamilton to stop by Gore Park and see our beautiful new and old fountain.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): August 1995 to August 1996, 99,000 net new jobs.

It gives me great pleasure to stand in this House and recognize today Miss Ruth Redmond of Niagara Falls, on receiving the Canadian Heritage Foundation's Gabrielle Leger Award for outstanding contribution to the preservation of heritage properties in my riding.

Ruth Redmond was born in 1902 in Holleford, now Hartington, Ontario, a community north of Kingston. In 1923 she graduated from Queen's University with an honours BA in English and history, and a year later she graduated from the Ontario College of Education in Toronto. From 1926 to 1967, Miss Redmond taught at Stamford Collegiate in Niagara Falls where she is fondly remembered by her former students, who continue to send her cards and telephone her, my parents and many of my aunts and uncles among those who remember her fondly.

Last Friday, Stamford Collegiate presented Miss Redmond with the Barbara Frum Award, named in honour of the late journalist, who also attended Stamford.

Between 1954 and 1987, Miss Redmond purchased five houses, including the former Fralick's Tavern, just north of Drummond Hill Cemeteries. These properties, known as the Redmond Heights, were at one time the site of the Battle of Lundy's Lane, one of the War of 1812's bloodiest battles. Situated at the highest point in Niagara Falls, the Redmond Heights provides a panoramic view of the city.

Last June, Miss Redmond dedicated the Redmond Heights to the city of Niagara Falls for the creation of a historic park. She believed she owed it to past, present and future generations of Canadians to see the site preserved for heritage purposes.

On behalf of the residents of my riding, I would like to thank Ruth Redmond for her generosity and stewardship and congratulate her on her extraordinary accomplishment.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: My point of order relates to a report which will be forthcoming from Mr Justice Estey, now retired as justice but the author of the Estey report on matters related to this Legislature. It has been the practice, but not always a consistent practice, that there be a pre-release to the three parties so that there can be, I guess we call it a lockup of some kind, perhaps even an hour or so, so that we would have a chance to look at it so that there could be some reasonable comment made on it. I'm wondering if you are able to help us out in that regard at all, in your position as Speaker, if you are able to get us a lockup in this regard.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I've never heard of anything such as a fairly consistent practice, so that makes it difficult to rule on, to the member for St Catharines. No, I can do nothing to force the government to have a lockup on a commissioned report, so beyond that, there's nothing I can do except to ask the House leaders to get together and determine how to best handle the situation.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health and also one for the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): They are scheduled to be here, Mr Speaker, if it could be stood down.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Restart the clock? Thank you.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Today I would like to raise for her the situation faced by many families close to her own riding in Durham. These families have adult children who are disabled and parents who are currently entering their seventies. They have been trying to arrange funding to ensure that their children's wellbeing can be preserved in the event that they, the parents, no longer can do this.

The concern and urgency of these parents is this: These children are developmentally disabled and they need supports for their safety and their wellbeing. Their parents are aging. Without any supports, they are not going to be able to stay at home. They are going to end up in institutions, which is a move that your government and your ministry are discouraging.

Minister, if protecting services for the disabled is a priority of yours, I suggest that in your campaign literature --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Kennedy: If you've admitted there are not enough resources for the disabled, won't you acknowledge the increased demand and increase funding for these services for the disabled?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I agree that there are many families out there with aging parents who have taken the responsibility and have made sacrifices in their own life to care for their children at home. Quite right: There is a problem which we are seeking to address. As those parents age, what will happen with those children?

I have met with many members in my riding and many representatives of organizations who are fighting very hard to have funding and appropriate mechanisms in place, and we are quite interested in listening to their proposals and doing what we can do.

Mr Kennedy: The facts of the matter contradict what the minister was just saying. Minister, people have been talking to you, and it doesn't seem to matter whether we're talking about child care or health care or any form of care, because what people are getting back is no care.

Mr and Mrs Warren of Oshawa, Ontario, met with you in August 1995 to discuss the situation affecting their daughter Alison, who has Down syndrome and severe epilepsy. In case you've forgotten, Mr Warren is 70 years old and his wife is 66. They met with you to try to find solutions and determine how your government could help ensure their daughter's wellbeing. The Warrens have never asked for support before. The amount of money is less than what would be required if their daughter went into a group home.

Can you tell the Warrens why there has been no action in the last 14 months if, as you state today, you've been listening and you have this concern? Nothing has happened, and this situation is urgent.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'd be very pleased to have our ministry officials look into the specific details of this case to see the status of it and what is being done in terms of funding. I would also like to mention that I just had a call yesterday from a constituent of mine who had had $40,000 more allocated for their particular circumstance, so we are able to make these decisions when we can as the funding is available.

The other thing I would like to mention to the honourable member is that one of the reasons it's so important to do the restructuring is to try and move the resources out of the institutions, where everyone agrees that's not always the appropriate place to care for such people. We need to move those resources into the community supports so that families can have those supports in the community, and that is indeed what we're trying to do with the downsizing of the facilities.

Mr Kennedy: The minister is only admitting the failure of her government in doing exactly what she just said: 14 months and no response to this family. If your ministry feels they can ignore the problems and they'll go away -- they tried to meet with the deputy minister, with the minister, yourself, and they've not even been dignified with a response.

These families are not alone. There are many families in the same situation. Without these supports, these children have only the choice of institutions, and yet your government is closing institutions and preaching about how there's going to be community-based care. Is that what the thousands of families and the thousands of children can look forward to when you start closing institutions? Is this indifference going to continue so that we're going to have a disastrous situation on the part of those families and children?

The Warrens want you to stop talking about putting money coming from restructuring and using the bureaucratic dodge to get around this. There are hundreds of names listed on this petition who want you to stop talking and to start doing something about families with severe disabilities so they can provide care to their children in their communities.

Minister, when will you realize that current funding is not enough to meet the needs and that your job in terms of providing money --

The Speaker: Put the question.

Mr Kennedy: -- for the tax cut isn't good enough? When will the Warrens be able to get support so that their family can have some peace of mind and you don't end up putting their child in the institution as they wear down in the care and concern they're showing for their child?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I agree that the system must be changed to better support those families who are caring for disabled children or for disabled individuals themselves. That's one of the reasons we have such a high priority on trying to bring in the new income support program for the disabled: so that we can make sure they have funding that is protected and to make sure they have funding that will better suit their needs.

As I'd mentioned previously, I'd be more than pleased to have officials look into this individual circumstance to see if there is more that can be done for this very important family.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is to the Minister of Health. You and Ontario doctors have been meeting behind closed doors. It's important for people -- the public, patients -- for you to come to account now. There was a catastrophe of your making in terms of the way you've been dealing with the doctors. We know why they were there behind closed doors -- they want to get rid of clawbacks and get their insurance paid for -- but why you're there is something that bears explanation. We believe you're there because you want to protect the money your government needs for the tax cut. We understand your perspective. We heard about it in the newspaper last weekend, about how difficult it is to live on $110,000 a year. The public out there must well understand the pain you're in.

My question for you, a serious question, is, who is speaking in these negotiations for the patients of Ontario, who were not represented? The joint release that came from the OMA and your government did not mention patients once. Who's looking out for them and how will we know that sick people are not going to be made to pay with their health and wellbeing for your political deal that you made behind closed doors with the doctors?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): If I get the gist of the question, I think it would be obvious to all members of the public, and certainly to members of this House, that patients come first. That's been the theme and the thrust of everything we've done as a government. A good patient-doctor relationship is also very important to the wellbeing and health of the population, and that's what our serious negotiations with the OMA have been all about. I'm hopeful that the doctors of this province will agree with the joint statement that's been agreed upon between the negotiating teams and that we'll move on to continue to provide what is indeed the world's best-quality medical care to the patients of Ontario.

Mr Kennedy: I'm sorry, but the minister is simply not convincing that he is looking after the interests of patients. We have a track record starting to develop that whenever you're involved patients are getting hurt. When you close hospitals, patients are hurt by that. When you fire nurses, as is happening in Peterborough and elsewhere in this province, patients get hurt. When you replace nurses with upgraded cafeteria workers because of the cuts you've made to hospitals, patients are getting hurt. This deal with the OMA has great potential to hurt patients.

Where will the $88 million to $100 million come from? You're going to find that to put on to doctors paycheques; you're going to take it away from somewhere else. You're going to take services that patients have now and make them pay for them out of their own pocket. It's what the OMA release said. It talked about delisting, about making services payable by the patients. Please tell us, when you talk about buzzwords like "modernization" and "delisting," don't you really mean that you're going to make patients pay for their own care? Are you letting your tax cut determine health policy in this province?

Hon Mr Wilson: I remind the honourable member that the government that's cut health care in this country is not the Mike Harris government, which has increased the budget, but his federal Liberal cousins, by $2 billion. A phenomenal amount of money --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for St Catharines.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- has been cut in terms of the transfers from the federal government in health and social services budgets to this province.

If the honourable member is suggesting that patients are being hurt today in our system, then he makes the case for change and he makes the case that the government's been making for numbers of months that the status quo is not an option. We've not actually done the restructuring yet, announcements are being made and frameworks are being put in place. But if patients are being hurt today -- and by the way, I want to know the patients who are being hurt because they're not to be hurt; they're to receive world-class services. If your contention is and you have evidence that patients are being hurt today, then you make the case better perhaps than I can that the status quo is not an option and things definitely need to change so that patients won't be hurt, gaps in services will be closed and money won't be spent on excessive administration, waste and duplication, and will be spent on patient services.



Mr Kennedy: We find in the applause coming from the other side of the House and the answer of the minister that they're prepared to ignore the consequences for patients arising from this deal. When the minister talks about dissatisfaction with the status quo, we know what his agenda is: This is a legacy being developed for Two-Tier Jim, for someone who's going to Americanize this system through the back door. We're talking about medical services that people have now, which this minister chose not to address in his response, not to talk about, services people are going to be made to pay for out of their own pockets. How is he going to keep quality care on that kind of basis?

Explain. This is your opportunity to gain the confidence of the people who are experiencing the cuts you've enacted in this system, for which you must take responsibility for once. What will you do to explain to them how user fees in their system are going to improve health care in Ontario, and what will you tell poor Ontarians when they have to make the choice between paying for their food or their clothing or their shelter or buying health care in the new Ontario that you in your capacity as health minister are making possible? Please answer the question.

Hon Mr Wilson: The efficiencies we're looking for in the system, if the member had read further, beyond his own speeches about the agreement, and actually read what the broader media are saying and the people of Ontario are saying -- they know where the efficiencies are. Nurses know where the efficiencies can be found in the system; that's part of the whole campaign they've got now. We're listening to those people, we're listening to doctors and we're going to find those savings in the system.

I don't have to say anything about user fees, because user fees are illegal in this country and this government is not contemplating user fees.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Labour. Today, the Equal Pay Coalition released a leaked government document setting out your government's agenda to claw back pay equity increases from women all over the province. One of the women at the news conference, Kim Rudd, earns about $23,000 as the director of three child care programs in Cobourg. Under pay equity, her work has been found to be equivalent to a man who makes more than twice her salary, but Kim Rudd says that under your proposed legislation she would never get the equal pay that she is entitled to. Will you promise today that you won't make any legislative changes to pay equity law that will take equal pay away from Kim Rudd and other women in the province?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I think we need to put this in the context of accuracy. The government has not introduced any legislation. There is not even a document circulating as to what the government may or may not do, because all we are presently doing is analysing the report that was prepared by Jean Read. We are committed to pay equity and we are committed to sustaining it in an efficient, affordable manner.

Mr Hampton: Mary Cornish and Ethel LaValley and others from the Equal Pay Coalition are here in the gallery today. They read your government's document. It's not something imaginary. They read it and they're quite alarmed by your government's document. Even that document says within its text that what you're thinking about will be highly contentious with women's groups and labour groups because it will mean real cuts to pay equity.

For our part, we all know this fits with your agenda. It fits very much with your agenda to drive down the wages of working people and middle-income people across the province to give your wealthy friends a tax break. Will you at least commit today that you will take this legislation off the fall agenda? Will you assure those women that you will take that legislation off the fall agenda and that anything you have been contemplating with respect to reductions to pay equity you will stop?

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's very unfortunate that you have not taken a look at the document that appears to be circulating. If you had taken a look at the document, you would already have determined that the time lines and the information contained in that document are not accurate.

I will only indicate to you that we are very carefully analysing the report that was submitted by Jean Read, and we will endeavour to bring forward legislation that continues to respect the principle of pay equity and that will maintain pay equity in an affordable and a sustainable manner.

I add as well to the leader of the third party that if you take a look at the job creation that has occurred since our party formed the government, the majority are jobs that have gone to women.

Mr Hampton: I can't let that pass. Only a Conservative Minister of Labour would stand up and say that, after the province lost 35,000 jobs last month, many of them women. Only a Conservative Minister of Labour would stand up and say that when the province has 57,000 more people unemployed now than last year.

Look, you can spin it all you want. The fact is that your omnibus bill took away pay equity from about 100,000 women in the lowest-paying jobs. You capped pay equity raises in the broader public sector and you clawed back equal pay that had already been set. You eliminated funding for the Pay Equity Advocacy and Legal Services, which was set up specifically to ensure that pay equity issues were addressed. Come clean here. What people want to know is: Will you stop your attack on equal pay? Will you categorically say that there will be no further legislation which will attack equal pay for women in this province?

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's obvious the leader of the third party has not heard anything that has been said. I will say one more time that our plan is to introduce legislation that is committed to the principle of pay equity; we will maintain it. However, I would indicate to you that, unlike your party which lost 10,000 jobs in five years, we have 99,000 new jobs in this province since we were elected and the majority of those jobs are for women.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr Hampton: I say again, only the Conservatives would cheer when the province loses 35,000 jobs in a month and mostly women are affected.

The Speaker: Your question is to?


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is for the Minister of Health. Today hundreds of people are demonstrating outside your hospital closing commission and outside your office. They are there because of your broken promise with respect to health care. You said in the Common Sense Revolution you would not cut health care, but that is exactly what your government is doing. Yet you continue to say the health care budget has not been cut one penny.

We can read the health care estimates and we know what you're saying is not true. Why don't you just come out and admit to people that you are cutting the health care budget? That's why thousands of nurses are losing their jobs. That's why hospitals across the province are being cut. Why don't you just admit the truth that everybody knows?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It's slightly unparliamentary to suggest I'm not telling the truth. His party tried this during a whole two weeks of estimates and wasn't able to make the case on province-wide coverage. They cannot make the case that we've cut health care. It's gone up $300 million. The auditor of Ontario will confirm that for you, if you don't believe the government members.

Secondly, talk about people who haven't got their facts right -- on that side of the House. We put more money in pay equity than that government ever contemplated, half a billion dollars more in pay equity, and you have the gall to say what you just said in this House. Your credibility is nil with the people of Ontario, Mr Hampton.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Sudbury East, I ask you to withdraw the comments you made.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, I withdraw those remarks.

The Speaker: The member for Riverdale as well. I ask you to withdraw --

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Mr Speaker, what did I say?

The Speaker: I don't need to repeat what you said.

Ms Churley: I'm sorry, but I don't remember --

The Speaker: I ask the member for Riverdale to withdraw her comments.

Ms Churley: I can't remember what I said, but if the Speaker thinks they were unparliamentary, I will withdraw them.

The Speaker: That's not even remotely close to an acceptable withdrawal. If you want me to repeat what you said, I can. The fact of the matter is, you know what was out of order; I ask you to withdraw it.

Ms Churley: I apologize for unparliamentary comments.

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: We have again an exhibition of the government's strategy. When the family support plan is falling apart, the Attorney General stands up and denies it. When 100,000 women lose pay equity, the minister stands up and says, "I deny it." When the health budget has been cut, the Minister of Health continues to stand up and say, "No, it hasn't."

Minister, you're not fooling anyone. Your government has simply changed the accounting process you use. Your health care estimates have a page where you show that you've changed the method of accounting. When you factor all that out, the fact is that you've cut the health care budget by at least $248 million.

Everybody in the province knows it. They know it by the number of nurses who are being laid off; they know it by the loss of health care services in their own community. Why don't you just come clean and stand up and say, "We cut the health care budget"? Your own estimates show that you cut it by $248 million.

Hon Mr Wilson: I have explained this ad nauseam in estimates. They could not make the case in an all-party committee. I'll go to your office and give you a detailed explanation.

One of the major explanations, honourable member, would be that we're still recovering money from physicians that was an overpayment in previous years, therefore it's money that was not to be spent in previous years. Remember that we're still collecting, even after the agreement, the 2.9% social contract which they didn't pay during your time in office. It's due this year and next year from years past. That's showing up on the books as a recovery, which is bringing down the health care budget.

You told us at first that you weren't supposed to spend that. You can't have it both ways. You can't have imposed a social contract on this province, left the bills to be collected by a future government and then complain about the way the figures look in the books.

At the end of the day --

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- I can fully explain this. I have fully explained it. Health care is up $300 million this year, and we've more than fulfilled our campaign promises.

Mr Hampton: I think that was a long-winded admission by the Minister of Health that the government has moved from a cash method of accounting to an accrual method. That's why they continue to insist that the health care budget hasn't been cut when it has.

The other reality we face is that to find some money to finance your phoney tax scheme, the Minister of Finance now will have to cut a further $3 billion. You're going to leak out close to $6 billion a year in your phoney tax scheme, so the reality is that there have to be more cuts, and we know some of those cuts are going to happen in health care.

That means, of course, there will be a delisting of some services. People will have to pay out of their pockets for health care services that used to be covered by OHIP. It means more user fees and it means --

The Speaker: Put the question.

Mr Hampton: -- moving to a system where in effect you have two-tiered access: Those who can afford it and have lots of money get more; those who can't afford it get less health care.

Minister, why don't you just come clean and admit to people that's what is happening across Ontario? That's what you're creating, that's what you want, and that's what's happening out there. Why don't you just admit it, because everybody can see it.

Hon Mr Wilson: The question is so ridiculous as to frankly be impossible to answer. Nobody would do what you dream up. The physicians aren't saying that; the nurses aren't saying that; no one is saying that. The fact of the matter is that we're moving towards exactly what the nursing association asked for, integrated delivery systems where people don't fall through the gaps, where we don't see 40% and 50% administrative costs on programs but we see dollars driven towards front-line patients. Soon we'll have made more investments in direct patient care than you did in your entire time in office.

By the way, Mr Speaker, because this is supposed to be a supplementary to the original question, I just want to remind members that when people read the financial books in this province in future years, those books, as the auditor said, are an honest set of books.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: The fact of the matter is that we've moved to an accounting system that the auditor of Ontario asked us to move towards, and the people of Ontario, for the first time in many, many years --

Mr Hampton: More user fees.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, come to order. Answer.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- have a true accounting of what's spent on health care and what the government is spending.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question for the Solicitor General today. It's about the Tory deal with the devil that's going on here in debate today, and that is the expansion of video slots out of casinos in Ontario into every bar and restaurant, into every community across this province.

You have obstructed debate and discussion in committee and in this Legislature over this past year on this issue by suppressing pertinent police information for proper debate in this House. Your briefing note states, and you know this, that legalized gambling has never replaced illegal gambling, but you didn't want to share that information with the people of Ontario. What is driving you to ignore police advice in this province?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The statements made by the member opposite are completely inaccurate. Anyone who has been following this discussion knows that. I've indicated that we've had a range of views from policing authorities across this province, across this country. The Premier, I gather, read a note in the House yesterday from Paul Walter, the head of the Metro police association.

I have a comment here from a gentleman who is a former chief investigator of the US Senate anti-rackets subcommittee. His view on this is that --


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

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You've got a lot of nerve.

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, would you please come to order. Thank you. Can you sum up, please.

Hon Mr Runciman: Philip Manuel, a former chief investigator of the US Senate anti-rackets subcommittee: "I would say the province of Ontario is on the right track in eliminating illegal and unregulated traffic in VLT machines by establishing a system of licensing, control and taxation. Such a system can ensure that organized crime elements are kept out of the business, that corruption is addressed by active enforcement of licensing and procurement rules and revenue can be taxed and appropriately allocated to charitable, social or educational programs."

Mr Ramsay: How is it that I can get the American report from the Solicitor General but he won't give me the Ontario report? I just want the Ontario report.

I'll tell you, organized crime must be very happy with the new Robert Runciman, because they've got a man on the inside of the Harris government now with this Solicitor General.

The Speaker: Come on. Order, the member for Timiskaming. That is out of order. I don't think the accusation is at all parliamentary. I would ask the member to withdraw.

Mr Ramsay: Speaker, I withdraw that. I would like to say to the minister that he knows his report says it's the responsibility of individual police forces to allocate resources to combat this problem. The report continues on to say there has not been any increase in resources in Ontario towards this problem in the last few years, and this minister is cutting back. How are Ontario police communities going to properly enforce our laws in Ontario against this gambling that you're bringing in?

The Speaker: Question.


Mr Ramsay: Organized crime is coming into our communities because of you, Minister. When are you going to stop ignoring the police information, stop undermining what the police are saying in this province and start to do your job?

Hon Mr Runciman: The reality is that illegal machines have been prospering in this province under the tenure of the former Liberal and NDP governments. We're going to be taking very active measures to eradicate illegal activities in the gambling area, much more active than the former governments did.

I want to indicate as well, as I've indicated on a number of occasions now, but the opposition do not want to listen to this, that it is not my report with respect to the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario. It's an arm's-length organization. With respect to obstruction with the committee, the committee had every opportunity to call witnesses from the policing community, from the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, and did not call one witness to appear before the committee.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Attorney General and the minister responsible for native affairs regarding the relations between this government and the Chippewa nations in Ontario, particularly in relation to recent decisions of the courts and even crown attorneys in the province who are acting for the Attorney General.

Yesterday, the government dropped most charges against aboriginal people charged in the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park in September 1995. The government admitted that there was correspondence dated in 1937 between the federal Department of Indian Affairs and the then Ontario Department of Lands and Forests which supports "the reasonableness and honesty of the accuseds' beliefs" that there was a native burial ground in the park.

In light of this admission on the part of your representatives in the court, what is your response to the Chippewas' claim that there is aboriginal land as part of the Ipperwash Provincial Park, and are you now prepared, now the charges have been dropped against natives, to order an inquiry into the violence that led to the death of Dudley George?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The crown attorney withdrew charges on the basis of there being an honest belief by the accused persons with respect to the status of the lands in question. As a result of that, the crown attorney felt there was no reasonable or likely prospect of conviction and accordingly withdrew the charges on the basis of the legal defence of colour of right.

That is not a defence that conclusively proves in any way the status of the property, but it has always been the position of the government that we are anxious to determine the status of that property. We want to go in and begin an examination of that property. The occupiers have not permitted that. Our position has been clear. We have told Chief Bressette that if a burial ground exists we will take the necessary steps needed to protect it, and we're anxious to be able to follow up on that.

Mr Wildman: With regard to the relations between this government and the Chippewas in Ontario, the minister will know that certain members of the judiciary have indicated it would make more sense for this government to be prepared to negotiate agreements rather than litigate. Also, the minister will know that the courts have recognized the Chippewas of Nawash's right to commercially fish around the Bruce Peninsula.

When is the government going to negotiate a new management agreement for the fishery to protect the rights of the aboriginals, the Chippewas of Nawash, and to ensure proper conservation of the fishery resource in Georgian Bay and the surrounding area?

Hon Mr Harnick: I am going to refer that supplementary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member opposite for the question. He'd recall that when he was Minister of Natural Resources there was a lower court decision called the Fairgrieve decision which stated that the Chippewas of Saugeen and Nawash, along with the Saugeen nation, two first nations, had an allocation to commercially fish in the waters. Since that time, there has been over $400,000 flowed to the first nations for pre-negotiations. The judge said: "You have an allocation. It's not an exclusive allocation, so work it out." That's what the Ontario government has been doing, in good faith. Over $400,000 was flowed for pre-negotiations.

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

Hon Mr Hodgson: Over $2 million has been spent on commercial buyouts to be in compliance with the law, as Judge Fairgrieve stated it.

The Speaker: Answer.

Hon Mr Hodgson: Since last year I met in the fall with Chief Akiwenzie of the first nation. They requested another $1.3 million of pre-negotiation money, $600,000 of which would be spent for a communication directorate. What we've said, and this is important if you understand this case --

The Speaker: Time. I appreciate the importance, Minister, but again, all the questions and answers in here are important and they deserve the same amount of time. I must move on.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I have a question to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. As a result of Fortune magazine's search for the best city in the world, Toronto has been designated number one. Some 100 cities were considered by this leading American business periodical but Toronto beat them all. London, Paris, Singapore and Hong Kong fell out. Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa didn't even make the top five. Will the minister tell the House what the government has done to contribute to this success?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): This is very good news that we received today. I noticed that the article referred to Toronto being North America's safest city. It also talked about having an excellent transportation infrastructure, superb cultural and theatre facilities, a very fine ethnic diversity and a superior quality of life. It said it is very clean, green and comfortable. I think Toronto is a reflection of Ontario and what this government is doing at this time.

Mr Ford: Whether it be Etobicoke or North York, the editors have noted the ranking is a result of a significant contribution by areas that make up the GTA. As a resident of Etobicoke for over 30 years, I am proud to have raised my family there, and I am pleased to --


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

Mr Ford: -- raising their families in a great area.

Minister, what is your ministry going to do to ensure this profile remains high?

Hon Mr Saunderson: We intend to stay the course no matter who tries to disrupt it. We are going to hold to our objectives and continue to do what we have promised to do. We also note that National Geographic and the United Nations have looked at Toronto, Ontario and Canada and said these are very good places to live. I think, as citizens of this province and as residents of this city, we should be very proud of how people regard us outside our country. We're going to do everything in our power to make sure we deserve that recognition.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Chairman of Management Board. Last week I had the opportunity to raise a constituent's concern with your colleague the Minister of Health who, to my explaining how a 102-year-old constituent of mine was threatened with the discontinuation of her health benefits, said it was "bad customer service." I want to pursue the discussion about bad customer service being provided by the Ontario provincial government.

People all across Ontario are phoning for health cards, birth certificates, driver's licences, to name but three basic services their Ontario provincial government is supposed to provide. They are either getting thrown into voice mail hell or, more likely, they are put on a permanent merry-go-round of busy signals.

The question to the Chair of Management Board, who promised, on behalf of his pal Mike Harris, to deliver more efficient and more effective government: When is your government going to start answering the phone?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I'm happy to respond to the member opposite that we're working very hard in that direction. The goal of this government, as stated a number of times, is to deliver to the people of Ontario better services at lower cost.

I'm very delighted to have the opportunity to indicate, for example, that we have the Service Ontario concept out there whereby people in the province of Ontario will have the opportunity in the very near future -- this concept is being implemented as we speak -- to come to one centre and get all their needs identified, whether it is a driver's licence or a fishing licence or any other kind of support service they need from the province. It's being piloted at the present time and I expect it to be in force in the very near future.

Mr Conway: Taxpayers in Ontario don't care much about your promise for tomorrow; it's the reality and performance of today, and it's a mess. The telephone services being offered by the Ontario provincial government are a mess and they're getting worse.

I'll cite but one example: You can phone the Trillium drug plan, hundreds of people are, and that voice mail system you have over there will walk you through four or five different electronic processes and then it will hang up on you. That's happening today in Ontario.

I repeat, the basic services -- birth certificates, drug cards, drug information, student assistance; the Ontario student assistance plan number is perpetually busy. It's either voice mail hell or a perpetual busy signal.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question?

Mr Conway: I repeat my question to you on behalf of real people across Ontario: When are you going to start answering the phone and delivering these services that people are paying for and expecting to get in Leaside, Pembroke and everywhere else in Ontario?

Hon David Johnson: It may be surprising, but I don't disagree with the member opposite. We have inherited a system which has been neglected for 10 years --


The Speaker: Come to order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You're the government. If you can't do the job, step aside. We'll do it for you.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, come to order.

Hon David Johnson: This isn't popular to say, obviously, but yes, we did inherit a system, it does need investment, there was an NDP government for five years and a Liberal government for five years, the technology is out of date and the service isn't adequate to the people of Ontario. That's why we've made a commitment to improve it, invest in technology and focus the services, so that the people of Ontario can get the service they need at a cost they can afford.

We are working on that right now. Pilot projects are being implemented and it will soon be in place.

The Speaker: New question. Leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The government's in its second year of power and they still haven't figured out the phone system.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Attorney General. This summer you closed the regional offices of the family support plan and you laid off 290 staff. Since then there are women and children all across the province who can't get their family support plan cheques. They don't get them any more. They used to get them.

I want to ask you about one particular case. Wendy Gatrell has been receiving regular support payments from family support for the past five years until this August. Then the Thunder Bay office of family support closed. Her husband continued to pay his support payments to the credit union in Kenora, as he's always done in the past, but the money didn't come through for her. By the end of August she still hadn't received any money. She called the family support plan. Nothing happened.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Hampton: She'd been off three months already for surgery. She had to go back to Thunder Bay in September for surgery again. Still no cheque from the family support plan. Finally, her husband had to pay her directly.

The Speaker: Leader of the third party, the question's been asked. Attorney General.

Mr Hampton: So I want to ask the minister --

The Speaker: No, leader of the third party. Attorney General.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As I've indicated, we have had long-standing problems with the family support plan. We are reorganizing --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): She was getting a cheque for five years, Charles. Take responsibility.


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

Hon Mr Harnick: -- the family support plan. We are going to give the plan tools to be sure that enforcement can take place, and I will tell you that we are hiring a new front-line staff who will be able to answer questions and respond to people immediately. That hiring is now taking place and --


The Speaker: Windsor-Sandwich, come to order. Beaches-Woodbine, come to order.

Ms Lankin: Maybe you should have left the original offices open.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order. I'm warning you.


The Speaker: And the member for Cochrane South, come to order, please, too. I'm warning you as well. Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: This family support plan has been a source of difficulty for years and years and no one did anything about it. We are now reorganizing the plan.

The Speaker: Answer.

Hon Mr Harnick: The plan will provide better service and it will be able to enforce orders that come to the plan.

The Speaker: Supplementary, the member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Minister, we were told by the minister responsible for women's issues to bring the cases to you here. These are all cases where people were receiving their funds. It has nothing to do with chronic problems. This is the service reduction for a period of time that was predicted in your own business plan.

So we have another one: Lori Siska, mother of three children in the London area. She has only received $300 out of the thousand that's owed to her, and she depends on that $730 to meet her bills. She's been informed by the FSP staff that her problems resulted from the closing of the regional offices. She was told that employers of payors didn't know where to send the money. She was also told that there was never a computer glitch and it was a total fabrication that workers are getting tired of having to pursue. She's behind in her payments. She's over $150 in service charges. She's lost her ability to contribute to her RRSP.

The Speaker: I need a question.

Mrs Boyd: What are you going to say to Lori and her children? This is your problem. This is not a chronic problem. You created it.

Hon Mr Harnick: I am not going to respond to an individual case. As I've indicated to members, if they have those individual cases I will be pleased to look into them. What I can say is that we are reorganizing the plan and when the plan is reorganized, and we're very close to opening the centralized office, this plan will --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Tax cut on the backs of the women and children.

Ms Lankin: Women and children are going without money and you're standing here and you're not telling the truth at all. You haven't told the truth in this place. Absolutely --


The Speaker: Order, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the member for Sudbury East. New question, the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, I'm going to name you if you keep it up.


The Speaker: I caution the member for Beaches-Woodbine. There are no more warnings.



Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. It has come to my attention that the northern caucus recently met in Timmins to discuss northern issues and concerns. Could the minister update the House on the result of that meeting?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): It's a pleasure to inform the House that we had a very fruitful discussion last Friday in Timmins. It was a non-partisan meeting open to all members, provincial and federal, that represent northern ridings. It was well attended by the federal parties and by the government members.


The Speaker: Leader of the third party and Sudbury East.

Hon Mr Hodgson: We discussed issues that are vitally important to the lives of families in northern Ontario.

Mr Grimmett: Mr Minister, I understand that the meeting was not as well attended as the last northern caucus. Could the minister advise the Legislature as to the reason for this?

Hon Mr Hodgson: It was well attended by the federal members and the government side. Unfortunately, the opposition parties from the provincial Legislature chose not to attend. It's a decision that --


The Speaker: Okay, minister of natural resources.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The Premier, the finance minister, my parliamentary assistant, Mr Murdoch, were there.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, come to order.

Hon Mr Hodgson: It's at meetings like this that we get input on the concerns that are vital to northern Ontario, and I'd also like to point out to the members opposite that the invitation --


The Speaker: Order. I can't hear the minister. The member for Sudbury, the member for Lake Nipigon, come to order, please. I'm having a great deal of difficulty --


The Speaker: I'd be tempted to ask you to withdraw, but I don't know what you said, actually. We'll leave it. I think we'd better quit while we're ahead. You've got 20 seconds. You've done fine. New question.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Madam Minister, the Ministry of Labour chest clinic, occupational health and safety branch, will be shutting down and no other government ministry or board will take the responsibility for fulfilling the function of this clinic. This clinic processes, develops and, as you know, evaluates the X-ray films that are sent to them from about 174,000 workers who work where asbestos and silica may be present in the workplace.

You have made the decision to close the clinic. Three years ago the clinic had 26 people on staff in Toronto to handle the workload. Today only three handle all X-rays of workers who may be exposed to asbestos and silica in the workplace. Presently there are about 2,000 films still to be processed from the workers who may have been exposed to a dangerous working environment. While the three remaining staff can process the film, the radiologist that evaluates them is no longer employed by this branch, and no one working there can read the films to inform the workers if a problem be detected.

Madam Minister, what provisions have you made for these 2,000 existing X-rays of workers that may have been exposed to asbestos and silica to have their X-rays read and for what action to be taken on the problem cases?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Yes, we certainly share the concerns that all of the reading that needs to be done is going to take place. As you know, there's going to be cooperation between the clinic and the WCB in order that we can assure that all of that information will be properly dealt with and communicated.

Mr Curling: Thank you for that response. There are 2,000 films still yet to be processed. While you're having this consultation, people's lives, people's health are at risk, and they have not made provisions. You knew you were going to close those clinics down. Why didn't you then make provision for those X-ray films to be read so that these people's lives, these people's health and safety could be protected, and furthermore those that are being X-rayed today to have their lives protected and their environment be a safe place to work in?

Hon Mrs Witmer: To the member opposite, I want to indicate to you again that we certainly share your concern for the individuals who have had the X-rays done. We are doing everything possible to ensure that there will continue to be consistent interpretation and communication of the results to the individuals concerned. We have procedures in place that will ensure that indeed will happen.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training, but I see he's absent, so I'll go to the Attorney General.

A town in my riding, Fort Albany, had a residential school since 1908 up until the late 1960s. The school is in bad shape. In all the daily newspapers over the last couple of weeks, we've seen chiefs and elders who have come forward and said they were abused in the school; they were beaten up. There have been suicides there. The crown attorneys are planning on charges being processed.

My question is, when is the Conservative government prepared to make sure that there's money available to build a new school? One of the problems is --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question?

Mr Len Wood: -- that the school is there. It was used as a torture chamber and the kids were abused from the age of five and six years old. The grandparents and the parents are still seeing their young children attend this school. What they need is a new school. I'm wondering when you're going to make money available to build a new school in Fort Albany.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I'm going to refer this to the Minister of Education and Training.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): As I'm sure the honourable member opposite knows and we've discussed in this chamber many times, this government is currently undergoing a review of capital construction of schools. It's our intention to provide for the needs of our school people in Ontario, and we will be making a report on how we'll do that in the very near future.

Mr Len Wood: As a supplementary, there's no doubt that they need a new school. It would be easy to be able to take a helicopter and lift the school up and drop it in the ocean.

But the other concern is that there's a healing process that's going to have to take place, even if there are charges and convictions in court or whatever. Is the minister prepared to make money available for a healing process that is going to have to take place all along the James Bay coast and the Hudson Bay area, where children were brought in there at an early age from 1908 to the 1960s? They need a healing process. When is the minister going to make money available for this process?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Again, the question that related to the capital side I believe I've answered by saying once again in this chamber that we are reviewing those options and we'll have a better package for that. We intend to meet the needs of students across the province, including the students in remote communities. We intend to meet those. Whatever suggestions there are that come forward to us we'll review quite seriously. We will provide for the legitimate needs of those students who live particularly in those rural and isolated communities in Ontario.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): My question today is to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Minister, last week the federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, gave a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. In it, Dion said that the federal government will make gradual changes to the federation. Could you explain to the House the changes Ontario wishes to see in this regard?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): In response to the question from the member for Durham East, I'd just like to say that I think all Canadians were sort of impressed and encouraged by the remarks that Mr Dion made in Washington. There are several key areas where Ontario believes there is need for changes and gradual changes in the federal-provincial responsibilities.

At the annual premiers' conference that we know occurred in Jasper in August, a ministerial council was formed once again on social policy. The premiers established this and we're working together across all provinces with the exception of Quebec, but the territories are involved. We're looking at common approaches for social policy areas. We look forward to discussing these with the federal government in a cooperative and results-oriented manner.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to point out that in his accolades to Toronto this afternoon the member for Etobicoke-Humber said that Ottawa wasn't even on the list. I was surprised that the government members from Ottawa didn't stand up and say what a great world-class city Ottawa really is.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's not a point of order.



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.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by thousands of workers from the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 175, on behalf of their brothers and sisters, totalling 38,000 members here in Ontario. It's forwarded to me by their president, Mike Fraser; the secretary-treasurer, Wayne Hanley; and the coordinator of benefits, Herb MacDonald. The petition reads as follows:

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system including reducing benefits; excluding claims for repetitive strain injuries, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress, harassment and most occupational diseases; eliminating pension supplements; handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury; privatizing WCB to large insurance companies; integrating sick benefits into WCB; eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT; including eliminating worker representation on the board and eliminating the bipartite WCB board of directors.

"We therefore demand a safe workplace, compensation if we are injured, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, an independent appeal structure with worker representation and that the WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

I add my name to those UFCW Local 175 members.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I have a petition that I'm pleased to read this afternoon.

"Petition to the government of Ontario with regard to the closing of the Ontario Agricultural Museum:

"To honourable member:

"Please consider this request from your constituents, the members of the Solina Women's Institute, a local branch of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada.

"We are very upset that your government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, declared its intention to stop funding the development and exhibition of the Ontario agricultural heritage museum, a distinct benefit to future generations of young Canadians, rural and urban.

"We are aware of the Ontario Rural Heritage Preservation Committee, ORHPC, and their goal. Our membership lauds and supports their purpose and initiative. This non-profit organization demonstrates the true spirit of rural Ontario that appears to be denied by your government.

"Our feeling is the government of Ontario must recognize our concern for the future and provide some funding to assist ORHPC in its endeavour by entering into a transfer process of this facility and an independent operation with interim funding agreements for three to five years, an acknowledgement that Ontario needs and deserves a continued heritage facility and exposition, an endorsement of the faith, energy and vision of our forefathers.

"We urgently ask that you consider this request and carry it forward to your minister and to your government.

"E. Jean Taylor, President

"Solina Women's Institute."

I am pleased to affix my name in support of heritage Ontario and our agricultural history.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'm happy to present the following petition. It's another 1,500 names to add to the approximately 7,000 names that have signed this petition already.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to the petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This is a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This petition is from, it looks like, about 100 people in my riding, and I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed C-68, An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control, and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearm smuggling and trafficking, and a ban on paramilitary weapons; and

"Whereas existing laws requiring the registration of handguns have done little to reduce the number of crimes committed with handguns or lower the volume of handguns smuggled into Canada; and

"Whereas the national gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will result in a massive misallocation of the limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic in illegal firearms, or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will take police officers off the street and involve them in bureaucracy rather than fighting crime and will make the task of real gun control more difficult and dangerous for police officers;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the province of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."

I have signed this petition.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly which reads:

"We, the undersigned citizens of the province of Ontario, insist on an immediate end to both the logging and prospecting in Temagami. The reasons for this demand are numerous, obvious, and can only be debated during a period of zero logging. You don't shoot first and ask questions later. The same goes for mineral prospecting.

"Temagami is precious for us, our children and our children's children. If the animals of the forest could speak, the roar would be deafening so even you, our elected officials, could hear."

I have about 60 signatures and I attach my name as well.



Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I have a petition here signed by 51,537 individuals from Kitchener.

"To the Legislative Assembly:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to help us to save St Mary's General Hospital."

I will affix my signature.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Rose Kulimouski and Mae Mussolum are still hard at it, and I have petitions that they have been circulating, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, with regard to health care, and it concludes by saying:

"We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to restore the $1.3 billion that was cut on November 29, 1995, in order to maintain the promise made by this government to protect health care funding and not cut health care, to reaffirm this government's commitment to no new user fees and to ensure that the health care budget will stand at $17.4 billion for every day of the life of this government."

In support, I affix my signature.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition to deliver today on behalf of the member for Don Mills. It's a petition entitled A Petition to End the Spring Bear Hunt, addressed to the Parliament of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows, and it's very timely:

"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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): To the Parliament of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I'll also affix my signature.



Mr Duncan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 87, An Act to amend the Health Insurance Act to satisfy the criteria for contribution by the Government of Canada set out in the Canada Health Act / Projet de loi 87, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'assurance-santé pour satisfaire aux critères régissant les contributions du gouvernement du Canada et énoncés dans la Loi canadienne sur la santé.

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

Do you wish to make any brief statement?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): The bill amends the Health Insurance Act so that the Ontario health insurance plan satisfies the criteria set out in the Canada Health Act and the province of Ontario qualifies for receiving the full cash contribution from the government of Canada described in that act. Those criteria are public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility.

As a part of achieving the objective, the bill prohibits the Lieutenant Governor in Council from making regulations that would disqualify the province of Ontario under the Canada Health Act for contribution by the government of Canada, because the Ontario health insurance plan would no longer satisfy the criteria under that act.

This bill is designed to protect our health care system from that government --

The Deputy Speaker: No debate.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of 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.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'm quite pleased to have the opportunity to do the lead here at third reading on behalf of our party. Our critic is Mr Kormos, the member for Welland-Thorold, who has done an admirable job of trying to point out to the government some of the problems in moving forward with this particular legislation. I believe that Mr Kormos, as a former minister responsible for this issue and as a member of this Legislature for some years, has brought those points forward well. He's been quite eloquent in his presentations both here in the House and in committee, and also in the greater general interest in regard to what happens in a community across Ontario. I will try to touch on some of the points Mr Kormos has made, but more specifically I would like to comment first of all on a couple of concerns I have as to how I see this bill affecting the people of Cochrane South.

As I always say in this Legislature, it is always important for members to come to this House remembering, yes, they have a party affiliation -- and in my case it's as a New Democrat -- but also that we have a responsibility to bring forward the views of the people of our constituency, whatever those views might be, and try to do the best we can to make sure their voice is heard here at Queen's Park, something that doesn't always happen.


One of my primary concerns at the local level is one that many constituents in my riding have raised with me, not only since this bill has been introduced by the Conservative government of Mike Harris, but also that people have raised with me over the years as a government member in regard to charitable gaming as an issue broadly. Simply put, there are not a lot of dollars out there. There are many people in our communities who are out there fund-raising in order to have the dollars to do everything from providing for sports organizations to social organizations, such as the United Way, who are trying to meet a social need, and also fund-raising around the whole question of culture.

One thing we know, and it's a fact, since the mid-1980s Ontario has undergone, as has Canada, a tremendous change in our economy and we have seen many good-paying jobs in our communities go down the sewer because of policies like free trade and NAFTA. With that has come less money in our communities. We are seeing today, at least in Timmins and I'm sure members in this assembly can talk about the same kind of experiences, where employers in Timmins such as Pamorex, which used to employ some 1,400 employees at one point -- its parent company called Royal Oak is lucky with staff to probably employ somewhere in the neighbourhood of 350 people. We see companies like Abitibi, in Iroquois Falls, which had larger numbers of employees than they have today.

What it means for the communities and how it relates to this bill is that there are less people in our communities with good-paying jobs. With less good-paying jobs, two things happen: The first thing is that there are less dollars to go around in regard to the taxation role of the government in regard to income tax. Secondly, there is less disposable income on the part of people in those ridings to be able to give to charity.

One of the concerns I have with this bill is how it deals with charitable gaming. Because of what we're seeing today, massive cuts on the part of the province as it relates -- I've seen Minister Mushinski stand in this House on numerous occasions, as you have, and talk with pride about the reduction in expenditures that she is doing in her ministry to fund organizations such as sports organizations, recreational organizations or cultural organizations. She says this is good stuff, this is something she needs to do, and she's always proud to point to the private sector and citizens in those communities who will come in and fill the void. At the same time as she's saying that the minister responsible for gambling in this province, Mr Tsubouchi, is coming forward with a bill that was first introduced by Mr Sterling but now he is the carrier of that bill, that is going to be competing directly in that market of trying to raise dollars in the charitable gaming industry.

At this point, and let's be clear about this, in our communities across Ontario there is gambling that happens in the charitable gaming industry. That's when the Nevada dealer comes to our community and sets up a casino night at the Senator Hotel or the Ramada or wherever it might be in our community, and people go and gamble. That is a regulated business. But what happens is that the dollars raised through that, the profit made through the gambling, goes directly back to our local communities to support different charitable organizations. One of the things the government is doing in this bill is put the long arm of the finance minister in that pot -- pardon the pun -- and they're going to be taking out of the community dollars that would normally go, through charitable gaming, to local organizations. They will go directly back into the hands of the finance minister of Ontario.

There is in that a contradiction on the part of the government. The government says, "We are removing ourselves from the responsibility of funding organizations in communities that support activities like sports events, cultural events etc, and we are going to leave that responsibility in the hands of the community and we're going to ask charitable organizations and we're going to ask business to come in and to fill that void." But at the same time they're doing that, you've got the minister responsible for gambling in Ontario saying, "Anything that happens in gambling in the community in regard to charitable gaming, I'm taking 50% out of the profits." There's a big contradiction here. You can't have it both ways. You can't have the government of Ontario say, "We want to encourage the community," and in the same breath introduce a bill that discourages a community.

That's indicative of many things we see this government doing. What really bothers me is that the government doesn't seem to have, and I know they don't, a real strategy about how to deal with all of these issues. This government since coming to power has been a government that's driven by ideology, and I understand that. That's fine. Governments of all stripes are driven by ideology. Where I part company with the government is that they forget they have an ideological principle they have to deliver on, but it has to be tempered against the reality of what they find in the community and across this province.

This government is moving ahead on a number of initiatives, such as we're seeing in Bill 75, without any concerted effort, as far as planning is concerned, across the corporate view of what this government has to do. It doesn't look at gambling as an issue as it relates to the rest of Ontario from a social point of view, on a question of what happens in regard to policing, what happens to addiction, what happens to revenue. No, what they're doing is taking off with it as an issue itself, because the government has to raise dollars to be able to pay for its tax break.

That's a big problem. Most people in this province, I think, are somewhat conservative in nature, if not in politics, and I think most people would say, "Listen, we're prepared to give the government a break," and to a certain extent we see that with the government sitting at some 40% or 42% in the polls, but where you see the erosion is that people are starting to understand that this government doesn't have a strategy.

We're seeing it certainly in Bill 75, in regard to a lack of strategy. There is no clear strategy. You have, on the one hand, a government that says, "We're going to cut funding to charitable organizations and communities," and on the other hand they're going and taking the money away from those same charitable organizations.

How does that set up any kind of strategy? It sounds like a cash grab on the one side and an offloading on the other, both of which are harmful for the people in between and the people who are affected.

You see that across most of what this government's doing. In health care, it's a bit the same thing. It's a bit like VLTs in the sense that the Minister of Health goes to the slot machine one day and pulls the handle down, and all of a sudden he comes up with cut, cut, cut, and then he knows what he has to do. The next day he comes back in and pulls the slot machine handle another time and it says, "This time it's not a cut; this time we're going to attack nurses," or whatever. It's a funny kind of way to run a government.

The member for Welland-Thorold has coined a phrase well, and it's a phrase that a lot of people in Ontario have heard over and over again by the member for Welland-Thorold, when he calls VLTs what they are: They're slot machines, the crack cocaine of the industry.

The reality is that the government can try to put a good face on this as much as it wishes. The government tries to pretend that this is a sort of aesthetic move on the part of the government when it comes to gambling, that they're VLTs, you know, not a big deal. It's a VLT. It almost sounds like bacon, lettuce and tomato, for God's sake, but it's not as plain as that.

It's a slot machine, and it's a slot machine that is going to be delivered into every community in Ontario, into every neighbourhood, into every bar and into as many restaurants as people can get them into, because there will be a very strong temptation on the part of the restaurant and hotel industry across this province to bring these machines into their local establishments. Why? Because if you're Mr Morris sitting in Matheson and you're tempted not to bring in a VLT because you don't believe in it, but your competitor down the street has one, what do you think Mr Morris in Matheson is going to do at the Standard Hotel? What's he going to do? He's going to have to bring them in. If you're Mr Reid at Casey's Restaurant, or you're whoever it might be at whatever restaurant, and your competitor out there brings one in, you're going to have to bring one in as well, because the reality is that these things are addictive, the same addiction that has been shown in other provinces.

You're not going to be able to stop the proliferation of VLTs once you've introduced them. As soon as you get into the business of introducing one VLT establishment in a community -- let's call it for what it is; I shouldn't call them VLTs. Once you introduce a slot machine into a community, that slot machine is going to go many places. It's not going to be just in one location. You're going to see restaurant establishment after hotel establishment coming before the commission saying: "I need to compete. I cannot compete unless I get a slot machine in my establishment because all my customers are now going to my competitor."

Business being what it is, it has to compete. You have to compete on a level playing field, and the government is going to basically allow, through this process, over a period of time -- not initially; I don't argue this is going to happen the minute slot machines are allowed into the province, not at all. It will be a fairly slow progress at first, but once you get them into the community, I'll tell you, I can see it coming now, they're going to be at my constituency office door knocking at the door come Friday morning, every Friday when I'm in the riding to do constituency appointments, and you're going to see the owners of those establishments saying, "So-and-so down the street has one, and I don't."


It's the same thing as what we saw happen with lottery tickets. With lottery tickets there were a lot of people who tried to resist the temptation to bring them in, because small business people are no different than anybody else. There are people who agree with gambling and there are people who disagree with gambling in that business.

A lot of people I know in my community were opposed to bringing lottery tickets into their establishments because that's not what they believe in, either because of a principled position because of their religious belief or just based on who they are and what they believe in. What happened time and time again, and I saw it being a member of the government and a member in opposition, is they would come and knock at the door and say, "Listen, I've been resisting bringing these things in, but I have seen a decrease in business."

I was talking to one woman in Schumacher -- I'm trying to remember her last name -- a German woman who runs the corner store in Schumacher at First Avenue and Birch, I think it is; I forget the name of the street. She has talked to me about the differences in revenue that she has and customers coming in with and without lottery machines and tickets. It's come to the point that, if I remember correctly, and I hope I'm right here, she said that 40% of her business is the sale of lottery tickets. That's a big part of anybody's business. Why does she do that? It's not because she likes selling lottery tickets. It's because if you don't do that, people aren't going to come into your store, because they can buy their lottery ticket down the street. So if you want to sell a loaf of bread, you want to sell a pint of milk, you want to sell a pack of cigarettes or whatever it might be, you offer the sale of those lottery tickets.

Slot machines are the same thing. You put them in one hotel in the city of Timmins or Iroquois Falls or Matheson and everybody's going to want to have one to compete with their competitors. You put it in one restaurant, it'll be across every other restaurant in the community. With that comes a problem.

I want to put for the record that I am not opposed to gambling. That is not the point of what I'm saying here. I think gambling in a controlled environment is not a bad thing. We see many people in the community of Timmins, as we do across the province of Ontario, who at one point used to travel to Las Vegas and Atlantic City to participate at a casino as a method of enjoying themselves on a holiday. We now see that happening in Ontario because our government allowed the introduction, the pilot project, of a casino in Windsor and another one, Casino Rama, in Orillia, as a method of being able to divert some of those dollars into the community and back into Ontario. I think gambling in itself is not a bad thing. But if you allow gambling casinos to be set up in every community and you allow slot machines to be set up in every community, there is really a danger that people are going to start utilizing these things more and more, to the point that it will become a problem.

I want to quote some of the things that people have said in regard to this whole point of how people are now more driven to gambling with the introduction of slot machines at every corner. The scenario is that if you've got slot machines all over, there's a stronger temptation to do it.

I want to read a quote from a psychologist from Brandon University, Barbara Gfellner, who makes the following point in a report that she had done. I will find that; it's right here. I've got a numbering system here and I got my numbering system wrong. Here's the quote. Psychologist Barbara Gfellner of Brandon University has concluded -- this is out of a report she had done -- that "more people gamble when opportunities to gamble are more readily available. Thus, the accessibility of VLTs places more people at risk for gambling addiction and for some this will include involvement in criminal behaviour."

She's saying herself in her report, as a result of the work that she has done, somebody who has studied this, because in Manitoba slot machines are allowed and they're now seeing the effects of that, that she has seen far more people going to the slot machine and spending their hard-earned dollars on those slot machines because they become nearer.

I say again, do I have a problem with gambling? No. I've stopped at Casino Rama a couple of times and spent a couple of hundred dollars. I never go there to make money, because I know that's not what it's set up for. But the point is, I've gone there twice since it's been open. If that thing is next door to me, my temptation is that much larger. I will go more often.

That's what I'm trying to speak to on the slot machines. It is difficult enough to introduce a casino in Orillia or to introduce a casino in Windsor. We know there is some relationship to what happens in the local community. In Windsor we found that over 90% of people who have gone to that casino are from the United States, with about 10% of the customers coming from Canada. By and large in casinos, from what I have observed, at least at Casino Rama -- I can't speak for Windsor because I haven't gone to that establishment -- most of the people who tend to go to Casino Rama are fairly well-to-do. But there are people in those casinos -- if you'd been there, you would have seen it -- who look as if they're spending their last dollar. That's difficult enough to deal with, and I accept the responsibility for that as a member of the government that introduced casino gambling. Would I still vote for it? Yes, because I don't think it in itself is a bad idea; it becomes a question of how you deal with it. But I say again, it becomes a real problem when you allow these things into every community, because what you end up with is a very, very strong temptation for people to go into those casinos.

I'll read another quote. This is from a profile of VLT gamblers, written by Barbara Gfellner, that basically says the same thing. This is an interesting comment: "VLT players indicated that their expenditures on gambling had increased since VLTs became available and they spent more money on VLTs than any other form of gambling." This is her study, where she's gone out and talked to people in the community. They're saying that you go in the first time and you might say: "I'm going to limit myself to $10," if you're a person with not a lot of income. "I'm not going to spend any more than $10 in a slot machine." The first time you go, you spend $10, and maybe you lose, so you say: "Well, I wasn't very smart. I didn't have the system figured out. Next time, I'm going to spend another $10 and I'll be a little bit smarter about how I play." Don't ask me how you do that on a slot machine. There's no system. You just put the money in and hope you win; most of the time you lose.

Anyway, you go the second time, is what she's saying, and you still lose the $10. Or maybe you make $10. And you say: "Well, look at that, I spent $10 and I came out with $20. I'm going to go back again and I'll do it the next time." So you spend a little more money. Every time you go back to the slot machine, you're that much more likely to spend more money, because after a while it becomes an addiction. That's what it is.

I've experienced it myself. I walked into the casino the first time with a good friend of mine from Kapuskasing who happens to be sitting not too far from me. On our first trip to that casino -- it was the first time I'd ever gone into a casino -- I said to myself, "I'm going to limit myself to $100." I went in and I spent the $100. I didn't leave until it was all gone. About a month later, I went back with a good friend of mine, Marcel Chartrand from South Porcupine. We stopped on the way down and I said, "I'm going to limit myself to $100." Well, guess what I did? I spent the $100 and then I said, "I've got some money on my Cash Stop card, so maybe I'm going to take a little bit more," so I spent another $100.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): You're addicted.

Mr Bisson: Maybe I am addicted. Who knows? The point is that what the good professor in Brandon, Manitoba, is saying is that every time you go back, you're more tempted to spend more. That's what will happen as you allow slot machines into communities, and then when you allow more slot machines to go in, because there'll be a greater demand, you're going to have more and more people spending more and more of their hard-earned dollars in slot machines.

That brings us to a simple question: Do we, as a society, want to get the revenue we need to run our hospitals, our schools, our infrastructure, from gambling, or do we want to do it through taxation?

We chose, as a government, that part of our revenue could come from gambling. I look over at my honourable friend from Riverdale, my good friend Marilyn Churley, who was the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and I would say a very good minister. We said: "No, we will stop it at casinos. We will allow a casino to be established, along with the one in Rama," the second one being for the native community. "We will look at the results of what happens with the casino."

I remember it well. There were people in the province, including a lot of people in Windsor -- I wouldn't say a majority, but many of them -- who had real concerns. We said, "Okay, we hear you." Marilyn Churley, the then minister, I think did her job admirably. She said: "I'm going to go to cabinet and I'm going to say one site in Windsor, one site in Orillia. That's it. No more. We will allow that to go forward, we will see what happens, we will study the impact of what happens with the casinos, and we will not move forward, we will do nothing, until we see the results of that."

But you know what Marilyn Churley did? She did one thing extra: She said no to slot machines. Well, she did many things, but the one thing she did particular to this bill is that she said no to slot machines, along with Bob Rae and the rest of the cabinet of Ontario under the NDP government. Why? It's very simple.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. There are too many conversations. You drown out the speech of the honourable member for Cochrane South, and it's not correct. Let's make sure that you keep your conversations as low as possible.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I was fine with that, but I think it shows that, unfortunately, the government members don't listen a heck of a lot when it comes to these issues. I think that's why we find ourselves where we are.


Mr Bisson: Hey, listen, I make the observation. You're the guys that are doing this.


Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that Marilyn Churley, the then minister responsible under the NDP government said no to slot machines. Why did she say no? It was quite simple: she recognized, along with the rest of the cabinet and our caucus, including the backbenchers, because our backbenchers played an important role in our caucus, something that doesn't happen to the Tories too often -- but we had said no. Why? Because all of the studies, all of the reports we had read had said what? I ask my friend Marilyn Churley. They said: "No, don't do it. It doesn't make a lot of sense. You'll make some money, but here are the problems associated with it: There will be an increase in addiction to gambling, and there will be an opening for organized crime to get involved in the gaming industry in this province like we've never seen before." There were too many problems associated with it, and we said no.

Listen, I've got people in my riding who got mad at me because we had said no, because there are some people out there who do support the idea of slot machines. But I had no problem going to my community and saying, "Listen, we're saying no on the basis of the studies, on the basis of the report, on the basis of all the facts that have been brought forward to this point on this issue."

We looked at what happened to other provinces, we didn't do that in isolation, the same way we looked at what happened in other provinces around casinos. We said that, on balance, casinos can be managed. It's one geographical area that you're able to regulate, you're able to manage, you're able to deal with. There are problems associated with it, but by and large it's okay.

But when it comes to slot machines, the NDP government said, "No, we're not going to do it, because we don't want to make money through slot machines, which would be basically taking the money out of the pockets of people who could least afford it," because that's what the studies have shown. By and large, people who can afford to gamble will get on a plane or drive in a car and they will go and do that in a casino. The people who can't afford to get away too far are the ones who will spend their money in those particular slot machines, and that becomes a real problem.

I'd like to read another quote about what people have to say about the whole question of what happens with the increased use of gambling as a result of introducing slot machines in our communities. I would read here a quote. It comes out of the Globe and Mail, dated May 11, 1996. This is from Dr Howard Schaffer of the Harvard Medical School. He says the following: "Not only would there be a substantial increase in gambling, but many would probably turn to illegal gambling eventually because the payoffs are always higher."

This guy is an expert on gambling, and what he's saying is that there is going to be an increase in the amount of gambling that goes on in the province, and it will deal also with an opening for the people in the crime industry, as it's called by this government, to deal with it. I would like to come back to that point a little bit later. But the point I'm making is that Dr Schaffer, who happens to know something about this, is saying, "No, don't do it." We listened to him; we said, "No, we're not going to do it."

Another quote, and this is an interesting one. I saved this one for last because I've got great respect for the individual who made this statement. I think this man certainly at the time seemed to know what he was talking about. He doesn't seem to know what he's talking about at this point, but that's another point. This is a quote out of Hansard, dated May 13, 1993. It reads as follows:

"As Donald Trump says, `Gaming doesn't come cheap.' I have to agree with a lot of the critics on that. It brings crime, it brings prostitution, it brings a lot of the things that maybe areas didn't have before. There is a big cost to pay."

Who said that? Mike Harris. It's really interesting how the perceptions and how the actions of the Premier have changed from the date he entered into government from opposition.

Another quote I have is from another distinguished colleague of our Legislature. Maybe the Solicitor General would like to listen to this one. It reads as follows:

"It's like prohibition" -- and I think this is an interesting point -- "I don't think we're going to be able to stop it, so we're going to try to get a handle on it and control it as best we can."

Who said that? Again, it was Michael Harris.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Was that Mike Harris again?

Mr Bisson: Mike Harris again.

The point I'm making here is that the government members themselves have indicated through their comments that they have the same concern I have, the member for Cochrane South, and the NDP has, which is that there is a huge incentive -- not incentive; that's not the right word -- there is a huge want on the part of people to gamble more and more, with increased usage of slot machines in the province of Ontario.

I want to pass to the other issue which is tied to that. I've got an issue note here. For people who are watching at home, an issue note is something a minister gets in his briefing binder in coming to the House, and it deals --

Ms Churley: Or hers.

Mr Bisson: Thank you for correcting me; or hers, because ministers of the crown -- at any rate.

Ms Churley: There are a few of them over there.

Mr Bisson: There are a few over there; not as many as there use to be before, but that's another point for another debate.

Anyway, it's an issue note and issue notes are written by the ministry. It's written by the people who answer to the minister and it says what the issues are of the day, so that if there's a question asked in the House, the minister opens the issue book and takes a look at it and says, "Ah, I'm being asked a question on X," and they're able to go there and see what the relevant points are and what the studies were and what goes on etc.

This one is a current issue note. It's titled "Illegal Gambling" and it's for the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services and it's dated March 18, 1996. This is interesting. This is March 18, I repeat, 1996. In it is a note and it talks about some work that's been done by the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario. That's CISO, which is the people of the OPP who are responsible for monitoring what happens in the gambling industry, especially as it relates to organized crime. There are a whole bunch of points made here that I think are quite interesting that I'd like to share with you on the question of slot machines.

The first one I'll start with, not in any particular order, is that there's a summary here of what -- let me back up and explain this a little bit better. This is the briefing note the Solicitor General would have had in his possession explaining what CISO had done in regard to its report on illegal gambling. All right? So the minister had this in his briefing note, the same minister who said he's never seen this, never saw the report, never read the report. My Lord, they sound like a broken record over there.

Here are some of the points that are made by this particular police organization:

"The analysis shows that illegal gambling flourishes in Ontario and there is a potential abuse in the legal gaming sector. Although the amount of legalized gambling has increased over the years, regulations, investigation and enforcement has remained relatively stagnant. Legalized gambling has never replaced illegal gambling, which has increased with interest."

Remember that the government is saying they want to do this because they want to put in check illegal gambling. The minister's own briefing notes from the Ontario Provincial Police say that's not so. The reality is that it'll increase the interest in gambling and people will not only go use the government's slot machines, they're going to go use the slot machines that are being run by organized crime.

This is the interesting point. Members of this assembly have been listening to the Solicitor General for the past weeks, almost months, talk about how he never knew about this report. One of the things it says is: "It has been known for years that illegal gambling is controlled by" -- who? -- "organized crime and revenues generated are used to support their illegal activities. The two major gambling activities are sports bookmaking and video gambling machines. Annually they earn about $1 billion and $500 million respectively."

The point I'm making here is that the Solicitor General himself, the minister responsible for the policing issues in this province, has stood in this Legislature over and over again saying, "I haven't seen the report, I haven't read the report, I didn't know about the report, nobody told me about it," over and over again, and had this in his briefing book. I don't want to be provocative here, but either the minister doesn't read what's in his binder, which is a possibility -- ministers have been known to do that, at which point I would say maybe the minister shouldn't be the minister -- or quite frankly, he has read the binder and --

Mr Len Wood: He sits there with his feet up on the desk.

Mr Bisson: That's another point. But either he has read the binder and chooses not to be forthcoming with the contents of it when asked a question -- and the Legislature and the rules here do not permit me to say that the minister lies because that would not be parliamentary, but the point I'm making is, which is it? Does the minister not read his briefing book and thus should not be the minister? I would say that's the case because I think the actions of the Solicitor General over the last year have indicated he quite frankly does not have control of his ministry. Either things happen in that ministry such as we've seen in London-Middlesex and others, which are out of the minister's control, or that ministry's gone awry and the minister doesn't have control of it.

The Solicitor General smirks a bit at that, but that's the reality. I remember the Bob Runciman of opposition. Do we remember Bob Runciman. My Lord, he would blow a gasket at the least drop of a hat. Anything that happened at the Solicitor General's office, he would go after my friend David Christopherson and Mr Farnan and Allan Pilkey on a regular basis. He would go over the top at every occasion. If the least thing would happen, he would go over the top. He's been, I would say, less than diligent on this one.


What's interesting about this report as it relates to Bill 75 is that it was requested -- by whom? -- Duncan Brown. Let's see who Duncan Brown is, because it comes back to our friend the minister responsible for gambling in this province. He too has said he knew nothing of the report. "I did not see the report, I did not read the report and I did not know about the report," according to the stories of the minister responsible for gambling. Duncan Brown, the executive director of gambling, requested this report way back when. Why? Because it became a public issue through the London Free Press. Who is Duncan Brown? He's the executive director of gambling. Who is his boss in the end? It's the minister responsible for gambling, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, that's who it is.

There seems to be a bit of a link here. Does the minister responsible for gambling not have a handle on his ministry, that things happen in his ministry and nobody tells him because they figure he can't comprehend or he's not able to deal with them, or does the minister choose not to be forthcoming with facts as we ask for them? I can't say in this House that the minister would lie, because that would be unparliamentary, and I understand that. I'm not saying that for one second.

The Deputy Speaker: You're playing with fire, as simple as that.

Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for trying to bring me back and make sure I don't say those unparliamentary things. I'm trying, as best as I can, not to provoke the government. But when the minister responsible for gambling and the minister responsible to the police are asked the question, they're not forthcoming with answers they know or they don't know what's going on in their ministries, either of which is not acceptable in the British parliamentary system, and I would say in most governments.

I come back to the point. They can dance around this as much as they want. The point is that fact after fact after fact has said --


Mr Bisson: What's that from my minister friend?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): You can do it without music.

Mr Bisson: With music.

Fact after fact has indicated that in the end all the studies show that if you allow slot machines to be introduced in the community, you will have a proliferation of slot machines within the gambling industry as regulated by the government, by the minister for gambling, and by organized crime. That is what is going to happen.

I would like to read from a submission. I don't want to call it a report because that's not what it is; that wouldn't be fair. It's a submission by Mr Mowry, who is the clerk of the city of Sudbury, to the standing committee on administration of justice in regard to Bill 75. I think there's something of interest here that needs to be shared today. One of the things he says is:

"The issue of organized crime related to this type of gambling and the supply of gambling machines has been an ongoing concern. Substantiated information was that the supply and manufacture of these machines was closely connected to organized crime."

This is not me saying this. This is everybody who is involved in the industry. This is out of one particular report.

He went on to say, in his conclusion to his submission to the standing committee:

"The issue of slot machine, one-armed bandit and poker machine gambling has long been known to be associated with organized crime. In recent years confirmed intelligence reports have linked video lottery gambling and the purchasing of the devices to organized crime."

This raises the point that it's not only a question of organized crime being involved in the sense of operating slot machines. Merchants who may want to bring slot machines into their establishments will be approached by organized crime -- we know that's what happens; it's what this report says -- and offered a slot machine, I would imagine, for a lesser price than you would normally find it in the market, for a share of the revenue that organized crime would get from that slot machine.

He's saying in the conclusion of this report that not only would organized crime be involved in running slot machines but also in really trying to push the sale of the machines themselves to local merchants. A businessperson, being a businessperson, will try to figure out, "Which way can I do this for the least amount of cost for the highest amount of revenue?" If they can't get a legal one, they will get an illegal one and hope they don't get caught.

It goes on to say:

"Information has confirmed that the machines were manufactured in the United States by businesses owned by organized crime families, then shipped to Canada and sold to crime figures here.

"With due respect to the provincial government of the day" -- talking about the Conservative government of Mike Harris -- "it is necessary to report that Mr Brian Steves, manager of the New Brunswick Lotteries Commission for the province of New Brunswick, has advised that since the proclamation of the New Brunswick Lotteries Act, an extensive investigation is conducted on suppliers of video gambling devices by the Atlantic Lottery Corp. The investigation is directed to ensure there is no criminal element involved in the sale or manufacture of devices utilized in the province of New Brunswick. This issue remains topical for police."

What he's saying here is that the New Brunswick police have grave concerns in the work they've done in looking at how these machines come on to the market.

"Having had an opportunity to study the video gambling issue and attend locations of play, the author has made a number of observations. The norm appears that most players are of the lower, middle-class portion of society."

This comes back to the point that I made earlier -- and I'm glad that the minister for gambling is here -- that there's a difference between the clientele who frequent a casino and the clientele who frequent a local pub and happen to use a slot machine. If somebody goes to a casino, it normally means they've got to spend a certain amount of money to get there, because if you're going to Orillia or Windsor and you live in Timmins or Toronto, wherever it might be, there's a certain expenditure to get there in the first place. That means it's not easy for people to get there.

The point I guess he's making in his report is that people who frequent gambling institutions like casinos tend to be mostly people who can afford it. Not all -- I don't argue it's all because I've been there, seen it -- but the vast majority of people there are people who have a few extra dollars, somebody like myself or my wife who says: "We're going to go down. We're going to spend $100 each." We're not there to make money; we're there to spend it. If we come out winners, that's a bonus, but I've never seen too many people come out of casinos making a dollar, even in Ontario. The reality is that you go there and you spend the money; you don't get the money back.

What he's saying is that slot machines tend to attract a different group of people. It's not the person who says: "I've got $100 or $200 or $300 to spend. I want to go spend it in a casino. If I make, bully; if not, it's just a bit of a holiday." It's people who say: "I'm sitting at home. I'm looking at my $15 in my change purse. I'm looking at my piggy bank. I've got $20. Boy, would it ever be nice to have $40 because if I had $40 maybe I can pay my phone bill on time this month." So they take their $15 or $20, they walk down to the local pub and then they put their last $15 or $20 into the machine, hoping to heck they will get back a huge return on that investment. But the reality is that more times than not you lose.

This is not a plug for Casino Rama because they're probably going to ban me from that place after I say the following: I had an opportunity, like I say, a few weeks ago to stop in at Casino Rama. Marcel Chartrand and myself were walking around the casino. We decided, after having lost my first $100, that we would have a beer and walk around the slot machines to see the winners and the losers. I was surprised at how few winners there were. I expected that the odds would be fairly high so that you keep people coming back with increased wins. But the reality is that as I walked around and watched what people were doing over a period of a couple of hours and talked to them. The vast majority of people lost. There were a few winners but there were far more losers than there were winners. You can bear that out by the revenue that the province of Ontario and the native community will get out of casinos every day. The reality is that most people lose on those machines.

A casino's a different bailiwick. You go there, you spend your money and you don't expect to win. I don't think a lot of people go there for that reason.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Did you win?

Mr Bisson: No, I don't win. I never go to a casino -- I've only gone twice in my life -- to win money. I've learned something in gambling, because I'm a bit of poker player myself. A former member of this assembly, Mr Pope, and I have been known to play a couple of games of the game of cards called chance. But the reality is that those people who lose in gambling are the people who can least afford it. I found when I didn't have money and was going to the poker table to try to make a couple of dollars, seven out of eight times I would lose. But when I had money and said, "I'm just going there to have a good time; I've got $100; win or lose, I'm out of there," I tended to win a heck of a lot more often. I probably won five or six times out of eight. The point I'm making is, those who can least afford to lose are the biggest losers in this.


I believe, because I have to believe this, there are a number of backbenchers in this government who themselves have a concern about this. The Speaker got up a little while ago and he asked the members to come to order because there was some discussion going on, but I've noted through this debate that a lot of the members have been quite attentively listening to what I've been saying. I'm not going to use names because I don't think that's fair, but I think it says something: that they share some of the views that I and others have expressed on this.

Mr Len Wood: They know they can't get re-elected.

Mr Bisson: Well, that's for another debate, but the point is that they share that view. They are worried. They're truly worried that allowing the slot machine into the corner bar down the street is going to be a problem. You know why, Mr Speaker? Members of the assembly don't just come here and debate bills. We go back into our communities and we get to know the people. People come and see us with their problems. If you want to know what's going on in a community, go talk to your local MPP. They're pretty well in the know about what's going on and they have a pretty good sense of what's happening across the entire community because they meet people from all classes of life -- from the person who has nothing to the person who has everything.

I think -- I know. I'm not going to say "I think"; I know that members in the government in the back bench are having problems with this. But like all other government bills, the minister for gambling and the Minister of Finance have gone to the cabinet table, have sold this as a way to raise some dollars, and they've gone to the back bench and said: "You're going to vote for this. If you don't vote for this, you're not going to get the parliamentary assistant position or you're not going to get the cabinet promotion or you're not going to get the juicy little plums that you get every now and then that are in government."

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): That's the way it works.

Mr Bisson: Well, listen, it does work that way.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): How come you never made it?

Mr Bisson: That's the point. The Minister of Agriculture asks why I never made it to cabinet. It was exactly for that. Although I was a firm supporter of my government, there were a number of issues -- a few of them -- that I could not support, Sunday shopping being one of them, and I, in the end, said I would not support it.


Mr Bisson: I'm not perfect. Listen, I ain't going to argue for one second that the member for Cochrane South always gets it right, because nobody can claim that, and I'm not going to argue for one second that my halo is bigger than yours, Minister of Agriculture. That's not the point. I think you know as well as I do, because you've been around this House long enough, longer than I, that the ministers and the cabinet go to the caucus meeting and they say: "Thou shalt vote for thy government legislation or else you're out of here. You will either be a member of caucus or you will not get the plums."

That's a real problem; that is a problem with this House. This is not indicative of just the Conservative government. It's happened to Liberals, it's happened to Tories and, I would say, to a lesser extent with our government. I think that's one of the reasons we got into a lot of trouble: We had a lot of good members who at times had those arguments in caucus and in open. But that's for another debate.

The point I'm getting at is that I think it's incumbent upon backbenchers to bring the views of their community, because I'll tell you, when our Minister of Finance came to our caucus and introduced the idea of bringing the casinos into Ontario, we had huge debates in our caucus. There were members of our caucus, like Mr Drainville and others, who were deadly opposed to it and staked their political careers on that issue. In the end there was a vote of caucus and the caucus, by majority, decided to support it based on the arguments. I'm just saying that --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): No VLTs.

Mr Bisson: No VLTs, as the NDP House leader says. One of the provisions of that was that there would be no VLTs, and that it would be a pilot project. The point I'm making is that it was a collective decision of our government. It wasn't just the cabinet; it was the back bench that also went in and had that discussion, had the debate, and in the end we decided to do what we did.

I would suspect -- and I not only suspect, I know that's not what happened with the government, because this Harris government is all about power being around the Premier's office. I know the member for St Catharines will say something on that in his two-minute response because I've heard this comment from him before. The power is around the Premier. The Premier decides what goes on, along with a few key people in his cabinet he trusts, and the rest of you have to follow.

I think that's sad. This is not meant as a swipe at Mike Harris. Mike Harris is the Premier. He's the person the people of Ontario have chosen and I need to respect that, and I do. But you have a responsibility as government members, as members of this assembly, to bring those views forward, not only to your caucus but to this House.

I will say one thing. When we had --

Mr Wildman: He said there'd be a referendum.

Mr Bisson: He said there'd be referendums, which I will come to in a second. But I will say this: When we had the debate on gambling and casinos in this Legislature by the NDP government, there were NDP members of the government who stood up and spoke in opposition to it because we weren't worried about backbenchers expressing their views. I remember people like the member for Welland-Thorold, people like the member for -- Reverend Drainville; I'm trying to remember the riding.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Victoria-Haliburton.

Mr Bisson: Victoria-Haliburton, and others who got up and spoke and had the conviction of speaking their views and the views of their constituents, other members of the NDP government who were in support at least at the time to be able to read some of the letters of people in opposition to give them a fair hearing in this Legislature, because as New Democrats we believed it was important to represent those views. I haven't seen that once in any bill and I haven't seen it in this one, and I think that's a sad state of affairs for democracy in Ontario.

I come back to the point that the government needs to in the end listen to what the people of the province are saying, and I would say in the majority most people are opposed to this and the government should think it through.

What does this government stand to make with casinos? Because this is what this is all about; let's not kid ourselves. I remember the Premier got up and he made a comment back last year and he said something along the lines of: "What we have is a spending problem. We don't have a revenue problem. Our only problem is we're spending too much. We have enough money coming in. We have to worry about expenditures." But the reality is that this is all about getting Ernie Eves, the Minister of Finance, to get his hands on cash that he needs to try to balance his budget and pay for his tax cut. That's what this is all about.

We know that in the first year of operation of slot machines in communities we're going to see at the minimum $60 million of money being diverted out of the pockets of hardworking men and women through slot machines into the coffers of the province of Ontario. We know that in the second year that is probably going to increase to somewhere around $260 million, according to studies we've seen. Probably it's going to go up higher, because the experience in other provinces has been that. It's been a fairly good cash cow for the nine governments in Canada, with this government, that have introduced slot machines in their communities. And that's what this is all about. It's not about an ideological principle that you think gambling is something you can control and do whatever; it's simply a cash grab. That's what it is. The government should be clear on that. It has to do with nothing other than that.

I come back to the point I made originally, that this is going to hurt our local communities when it comes to fund-raising, because you all know as members of this Legislature, because you're approached every week when you go to your riding, or however often you go, by people coming to you and saying: "Would you buy my raffle ticket, would you give a donation to my organization?" or whatever. You're asked all the time because people figure that MPPs have deep pockets. Some of us do, some of us don't, but they all figure we have a lot of money. So they come and see us every time they go to an event or they see us at the shopping mall or they see us wherever we might be, and they ask us for that donation. I always take time and I would imagine other members of the assembly do the same. I say: "How are ticket sales? Martha, tell me, how are ticket sales today?" Because Martha is one of the people I know who sells tickets for the church all the time. And she says, "You know, Gilles, it's really getting tough out there. It's really getting tough to sell tickets."

I went into the IGA, I think it was last Sunday, with my wife to do a bit of shopping before coming down to Toronto. I, as usual, got an opportunity to meet quite a few people and one of the people I met was Martha, who was selling tickets at the IGA. She was selling tickets on a quilt that she and other women had put together and had fabricated to donate to the church so they can sell tickets so that the church can have some money to do much-needed renovations. Martha said, "I sat here all day yesterday and I sat here today, and for every 10 people who came in I was lucky if I got one to buy a ticket." She was a bit discouraged out of that, because she pointed out that in the past, prior to what's happening in the economy etc, it was a lot easier to sell tickets; they would sell to far more people.

One of the things Martha said about selling tickets was: "One of the reasons it's getting difficult is because the government has cut funding to many of the organizations who used to be supported by government grants: sports organizations, cultural organizations etc. They are now out there fund-raising to try to offset the reduction and cuts they've got. So where we never used to get government funding and we had a hard enough time trying to raise the dollars, it was always a chore, none the less we used to be able to achieve our goals and sometimes we'd surpass them. Now it's getting difficult. We targeted that we wanted to raise $2,000 through the sale of this ticket and another event to do what they needed to do with the church. I am very much afraid we're not going to get there."


I would say, why is that? It's because there are only so many dollars to go around. As I walk into the IGA or the Canadian Tire, to the local mall, or the Main Street Café in Iroquois Falls, wherever it might be, people only have a certain amount of money in their pockets. If you're asked to buy a ticket once, you might buy. If you're asked to buy a ticket twice, you might buy a second one. But when you're asked virtually everywhere you go, you come to the point and you say: "Whoa, I'm not going to give to anybody. Everywhere I go I'm being asked for a ticket, so why should I give?" People are getting much more cautious about spending those dollars, not because the work these people are doing isn't good -- it's good work -- but because there's such a proliferation of people selling tickets.

One thing I took great offence at was the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the Honourable -- "honourable" is a loose term -- Marilyn Mushinski who got up in this House and with pride talked about how it was crazy to be spending money on groups that supported activities such as bowling, archery or whatever it might be.

I know groups in my community who got a little bit of government money, a whole bunch, probably about $800 to $1,200 a year -- people like the CNIB who use that money to provide dollars to blind people so they can go out and have an outing. Without that money, they would not be able to have the physical means to get people to that location to do it. She stood up with pride and talked about how this was crazy, spending this kind of money. But as a result of that -- never mind what happens immediately. The result of cutting those dollars means all of these organizations are out there competing to get dollars from fund-raising.

Sports organizations -- one of the groups that is most heavily affected by what Marilyn Mushinski is doing in the cuts to grants to sports organizations -- are out there in spades now trying to sell tickets and do everything they can to raise dollars. They probably have more ability than the local church to sell tickets because they have all kinds of energetic young hockey players and soccer players or baseball players, whatever it might be, who go out on Saturday morning, who blanket all of the malls in our community to sell a ticket on some item that they're raffling to raise dollars. Of course, they need the money. That's not the point. The point is these people didn't do it to the amount that they do it now. Why? Because the dollars are being cut. That competes with other people who never used to get government funding.

What you're doing, in my view, is knocking out the block from under the wheels of people who never used to get government support by doing this. Introducing VLTs into Ontario and allowing slot machines to go into every part of our community I think in the end is going to make that even more and more difficult, much more difficult.

One of the things the government has not agreed to do, which I think is a bit of a travesty -- we're saying, if you're going to do this: we don't want you to do it; we'll vote against it -- but if you are going to do it, at least divert some of the dollars to crime prevention and to addiction because we know from the report that was done by the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario that there is going to be an increase in the activities of organized crime. That's just the fact. That is not me saying it, that is the OPP. We know from the reports that have been done in other jurisdictions, like Manitoba and others who have slot machines at every corner, or almost every corner, that organized crime increases its activity in that sector. We're saying at the very least what the government can do is increase the dollars towards policing to deal with the issues of organized crime within gambling. The government is not doing that and I think that's deplorable.

This is something I'll bet a lot of backbenchers don't know. How many people do you think are employed by the OPP whose job it is to deal with gambling and to deal with organized crime in gambling? Take a guess. Four. Four in the province of Ontario in a population of 11 million.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It should be 400.

Mr Bisson: That's how many people we've got doing it. The member for St Catharines says 400. We probably will need 400 pretty soon, if we don't need them now.

We're saying to you, if you're going to do this, if you're heck-bent on doing this and you're going to move forward and you're going to put slot machines in every corner, in bars and restaurants across this province, the least the Solicitor General can do is go to the cabinet table and say to the minister for gambling in this province, "We want you to divert a percentage of the revenue from gambling into my police budgets so that we're able to effectively deal with the question of organized crime." I don't think that's too hard to do. I think that's a pretty reasonable request. But has the government done that? No. And the government says it's a government of common sense. There's nothing common sense about this, this is about a cash grab. That's what the government's doing.

On that point, in regard to policing, I just want to make a couple of points here, quotes from a couple of different people we might be interested in hearing from. I ask my colleagues in the Legislature, who said this? This is dated October 6, 1992:

"Wouldn't it make more sense from a sound management point of view, something we haven't seen very much of" -- they're talking about the NDP government at this point -- "to do the social projections and economic studies before you announce the casino?" They were talking about when we did Windsor. "Second, in the absence of having done that, when can we expect to see the economic and social projections and results of those impact studies, even though you've already made the announcement?"

Here is a person calling for impact studies and studies of all types in order to deal with the introduction of a casino, who said that's what should happen before we do this. Who said that? That was Mike Harris.

Where are the impact studies? Where are the studies the government has looked at to look at the effects of what gambling is going to do to the people of this province? Where are they? They're nowhere to be seen. Why? Because the government already knows the answer, as we do. It's going to be a problem.

When one of the government's own arms, the OPP, goes out and does a study and a report and comes back and says that it will increase involvement of organized crime, it will increase the usage of slot machines in Ontario, the Solicitor General and the minister for gambling, Mr Tsubouchi, say, "I know nothing; I see nothing; I hear nothing. Don't want to know nothing about the report. Haven't read the report, haven't seen the report, don't want to hear about the report," even though it's in their briefing books.

I say again, either they don't read what's in their reports, they don't read what comes across their desks, which means they shouldn't be there and are incompetent and are not doing their jobs, and I say that clearly, or quite frankly they are not answering questions when questions are posed to them of a specific nature. That's as close as I can get to what I'd like to call them without being unparliamentary. So I say to the government, that is interesting.

Anyway, back to the first point with regard to diverting dollars of gambling into the OPP. When the government of Ontario, the NDP government back in the early 1990s, put in place a casino in Windsor, Mr Harris had this to say in the House on June 22, 1993. "Every officer and every policing dollar that goes towards casino crime or that kind of criminal activity is a dollar that is taken away from fighting the crime that currently exists on our streets."

What happened to the Premier since 1993? The Premier had very specific views about gambling. In fact, the member from Nipigon -- the member from Nipigon? I wish the Premier was from Nipigon. The member for Nipissing, the Honourable Michael Harris, is the one who said, "You're going to have to have a referendum," if ever a casino was introduced in the province of Ontario. Wouldn't let it happen otherwise. Why? Because he read what was going on. He had positioned himself that way, number one, but number two, he recognized there was some concern.

How could you allow gambling to happen in every community across Ontario without a referendum even? Not that I'm a big fan of referendums. I think there's a problem with that, but if that's the stated position of your party, let's look at this just a second.

Mr Harris said, as the leader of the third party back in 1992-93, that if any more gambling was to be allowed in the province of Ontario, there should be a referendum. He in fact called for a referendum in the community of Windsor before we introduced the casino. That was the stated position of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party becomes the government on June 8, 1995, and in the fall and summer of 1996 they introduce a discussion paper that talks about referendum law. Under the Fewer Politicians Act and associated with that they are bringing forward a recommendation that we utilize referendums to decide issues of public policy such as this. We know that Mr Harris and the Conservatives wanted a referendum extending gambling in Ontario back in 1992-93. They are now introducing legislation that deals with gambling where you're not going to have a casino in Windsor; you're literally going to have slot machines in every corner bar across the communities of Ontario. Within time, that is what is going to happen.

This is being down how? No consultation, no referendum. I don't see anything of that. The government just moves forward. Why? Because they've got a cash problem. They have a problem where they're saying they must balance the budget over four years and they're giving people a tax break, so they need more revenue. So they're putting casinos literally in every community in the province of Ontario by allowing slot machines to be introduced into those communities without a thought about what it means to the communities that they are going to be in. I say to the government: That's wrong. That's not what you were elected to do. You're elected to govern for a period of four to five years and to make decisions on behalf of the people of this province as a majority government, and you're supposed to do that in somewhat of a balanced way. I haven't seen that happen up to now.


You might be sitting at 42% in the polls, but I would just remind the Conservative members, a year into our mandate, we were at 68% in the polls, and you know what happened at the end. Don't sit back at 42% of the polls and think for a second that that thing is going to hold for the next three years, because reality is there hasn't been a government over the last 10 years in the province of Ontario that has managed to hold that kind of support. I think generally on other issues that may be another debate we'll be able to get into, but don't sit back and just say, "Listen, we've been elected, we're sitting at 42% in the polls, so therefore it gives us the right to do this." Don't delude yourself into believing that -- I see the Minister of Agriculture shaking his head as he agrees that's the case -- because I think you have to be tempered, and so does the whip. I'm glad to see that Mr Turnbull, my good friend, agrees with that. I remember a day that the whip actually voted with me on a bill when we were in government. I couldn't believe it.

The point I'm saying is that if the government is going to move forward with this, it should at least take the recommendation that our critic has made and our caucus has made and divert some of those dollars made in the slot machines in those communities into policing so that we're in a position to deal with some of those issues in regard to what's going to happen to organized crime.

I would like at this point to read part of a report that I talked about a little bit earlier. It's not a report; it's a submission by Thom M. Mowry. He's a city clerk for the city of Sudbury. He made this submission to the standing committee on administration of justice. He went on to say -- I think this is interesting, and I was making the point -- that gambling in the city of Fredericton has taken on a new dimension with video lottery gambling. This is of interest. I think people should listen to this:

"Gambling in the city of Fredericton has taken on a new dimension with video lottery gambling. Prior to December 1991 the act was illegal and therefore a policing issue. Today gambling is a societal problem, with many citizens being injured. The Fredericton Police Force are greatly concerned for the quality of life of the citizens of Fredericton and believe that video lottery gambling is detrimental to that cause."

That's I think a comment that is quite interesting in regard to what's happening.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Point of order, Mr Speaker: We do not have a quorum in the House.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you please verify if we have a quorum.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Cochrane North -- Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: The member for Cochrane North would like to participate in the debate, but at this point I have the floor.

As I was saying prior to the quorum call, and I'll just say again as we have the new members here at this particular point, just so that members know, this is a submission by Thom M. Mowry, the city clerk of the city of Sudbury, who made this to the standing committee on administration of justice. There are a number of points in here that are interesting, because what he's doing is he's looking at what has happened in New Brunswick and basically bringing that information as it relates to what happened when slot machines were introduced in New Brunswick back here to Ontario. I'm sure the member for Welland-Thorold, who's going to be here tomorrow, is going to speak more in detail about that, because that's something that I've heard him talk about a number of times, the honourable Mr Kormos. It goes on to say:

"Gambling in the city of Fredericton has taken on a new dimension with video lottery gambling. Prior to December 1991 the act was illegal and therefore a policing issue. Today gambling is a societal problem, with many citizens being injured. The Fredericton Police Force are greatly concerned for the quality of life of the citizens of Fredericton and believe" -- what? -- "that video lottery gambling is detrimental to that cause."

I've got to come back: Who is the government listening to on this one? Are they listening to Mr Kormos, the critic from the New Democratic Party who has brought all of these points forward at second reading, has brought all of the points forward at the committee level? Have you listened to Mr Kormos at other occasions? No. Have you listened to the public or to the Liberal critic on these particular issues who have raised the same points as Mr Kormos? The answer is no. Have you listened to your own officials within the ministry of gambling who are answerable to the minister of gambling and the Solicitor General, who have raised concerns in regard to gambling through the use of slot machines? No.

Why do I know those concerns exist? Because we were the government. Our own officials had come to us and said, "Don't do this," and we said, "We're not going to do it because we accept there's a problem."

Are they listening to the many citizens in the province of Ontario who have gone before the committee and said, "Don't introduce slot machines in the province of Ontario; keep them out of my neighbourhood"? No, they haven't listened to them. Are they listening to the people in other provinces who have experienced life under a regime that has slot machines in every community? No, they're not listening to them. Are they listening to the volumes of documents that have been printed as a result of studies that have been made on the part of learned people who understand this issue far more than most of us? No. Who are they listening to? They're listening to a finance minister who says, "I need money." That's who they're listening to.

He's desperate for dollars. The Minister of Finance has given a tax break to the wealthiest people in this province. He is cutting the budgets of all the line ministries of the government and they're having to make up the difference as best they can. One of the ways they're doing that is not only by a reduction in services; they are going after the people of Ontario. They want, as my friend from Nipigon would say, to pick their pockets dry by allowing gambling machines to be installed in every bar, every restaurant, in every community and almost every neighbourhood in Ontario. Those people are going to go in there and that's exactly what's going to happen. That money is going to come directly out of the pockets of hardworking men and women, it's going to go into the slot machine and that money's going to come right back into Ernie Eves's pockets, into the consolidated revenue fund.

I say that is not a good idea in regard to how you raise revenue in this province, or not a good idea how to balance the budget. That's not the way it should be done. There are other things the government could be doing and spending its time on other than trying to pick the pockets dry of the people of this province.


Mr Bisson: Well, listen, you've been to slot machines. You've seen slot machines before. You know what they're like. You see them standing there. They go there. For people who have never gone, you've got to see this. They walk into a casino at Casino Rama or Windsor or in Las Vegas, wherever, and they've got these little quart jars, right? You've seen them. They're filled with dollars, basically coins that represent dollars. They sit there with literally hundreds of dollars and they plunk one after another and pull the one-armed bandit. What ends up happening? Nine times out of 10, the entire bucket ends up in the machine and doesn't end up back in the pocket of the person who spent it.

It's bad enough to deal with this in an establishment such as a casino that is somewhat controlled. Imagine the problem we're going to have when the minister for gambling, the Honourable Mr Tsubouchi, allows slot machines in every community across the province of Ontario. You're literally going to have people who are going to be sitting at home -- because I see it now. You see it in your communities where people have been affected by the cuts of this province, either through higher unemployment rates that we're seeing now or people who've had their benefits cut on social services and people who are about to have their benefits cut who are on WCB, struggling, trying to make ends meet, trying to figure out how they're going to pay their hydro bill and their phone bill.

I had one woman come into my office -- I don't want to use her name because she's asked me not to, but she asked me to relate the story to you. There's a woman I was talking to in my office who had her benefits cut on social services. She got caught up in the 22% reduction. She had to face a decision this summer: "Do I pay for my son's hockey equipment or do I pay my hydro, my telephone and a few other bills?" Being the proud woman that she is, because for years she had the money to do this, because she and her husband were fairly well-to-do -- the husband left. She's been on her own for about a year. She spent whatever she had in the bank, which was not a lot. She had about $8,000 when all of this started. Her payments are held up because the Attorney General has got the whole system buggered up -- pardon me, I can't use that, that's unparliamentary; I caught myself, Mr Speaker -- has the whole system messed up when it comes to FSP. She hasn't got a dime from the FSP system. I think it was June when she last saw a cheque. She is only getting a minimal amount from the social services ministry.


She had to make a decision this August, and that's why she came into my office after the decision. She said: "My son, who has played hockey all his life, is now 13 years old. He wants to go back and play hockey again. He needs new equipment. So what did I do? I went out and bought the hockey equipment. I had to decide between paying my hydro bill and my phone bill or supplying my child with the hockey stick and the equipment he needed to play hockey." Guess what happened? Because the Ontario Hydro system now says, "If you don't pay your bill immediately, after 30 days we'll cut off your hydro," Ontario Hydro had given her notice. She technically had her gas shut off at that point and she was just about to get her hydro shut off, because it was just recently she came to see me and was trying to deal with the consequences of that as a result of what you guys are doing.

Don't look at me as if you're wondering what I'm talking about, because you hear the same stories in your constituency offices. Those are the real stories of real people. We will continue bringing those stories here.

As it relates to Bill 75, this woman, who now has no money, was sitting there in my office saying: "Gilles, my gas is shut off, I've got no hot water, my hydro's about to be shut off. What am I to do?" I said, "Listen, there's not a lot to do." I would think the temptation for her, if she had $5 or $10, is either to try to go out and buy the loaf of bread and whatever she can to make her son and herself eat, or all of a sudden say: "I've had it. I give up. I'm going to go spend that $10 and make $100 at a slot machine."

Don't shake your head at me. Those things happen. Don't sit there and go, "No." How do you think people end up in front of slot machines? How do people take a chance? Why do they go out and buy a lottery ticket? Why do they go to the bingo game? A lot of them, not all of them, because sometimes they are --

Interjection: Casinos.

Mr Bisson: Yes, and casinos at times too. The point I'm making is that at times people are desperate, and there are more and more desperate people in the province of Ontario.

I had another situation, it has to be said. I had another woman come into my office --

Mrs Boyd: There's no casino in Timmins.

Mr Bisson: There is no casino; we'll have slot machines. Who'll need them with slot machines?

There's a woman who came into my office, not this Friday but two Fridays ago. This woman is about 54 or 56 years old. She came into my office for the same reason. She said: "Gilles, I'm desperate. I have no money in the bank; I have no money at my house. I'm hardly able to survive. I haven't paid my rent this month because I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul, to keep the hydro bill paid, to move the money over to the gas bill, to do whatever." What ends up happening? "I'm really up against the wall. I'm at the point where I didn't pay last month's rent, I'm not able to pay this month's rent, I'm about to be given my notice and I'm at the end of my rope."

The part that really got me was that she said: "I have one grandchild. She's three years old. I love my grandchild. My grandchild comes and visits me almost every day. The other day I had to tell my daughter, `Don't bring her over.'" Why? Because she didn't have a dime to buy food to put in her cupboard to feed her granddaughter when she came to visit. That's what you guys are doing. She asked me: "Would you please tell them what I'm going through? I'm having to decide between keeping my grandchild away because I don't have money and trying to figure out how I'm going to make up the difference."

It's easy for the government to say, "They just can go out and get a job." But what do you do if you're a woman and 56 years old, living in Toronto or Timmins, and you can't get a job because somebody looks at you and says, "I don't want to hire you as a server because there's somebody a bit younger and a little bit more appealing I want to hire"? Those things do happen. She may not have the experience to get the job in whatever company that might be hiring. This woman's at her wit's end.

I'm saying that with Bill 75 there's going to be a lot more -- let me rephrase this so I don't say something wrong here: There are more desperate people in our communities today as a result of what this government is doing. Bill 75 is going to play into that in the sense that as those people are more desperate they're going to be looking for pretty desperate ways to make ends meet. You are going to see that group of people, those people who are less able to defend themselves, in there trying to make a dollar quickly because they've lost hope.

I say to the government, understand where I'm coming from. I say it again: I'm not opposed to gambling. That's not the issue here. I voted for the creation of casinos and I'd do it again. The issue here is that it has to be controlled and regulated to a certain extent. What this government is doing is allowing all of these slot machines to be put in every community across this province.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: They're there now.

Mr Bisson: The Minister of Agriculture just said something intelligent: "They're there now." How many more do you think are going to happen as a result of this bill? The Fredericton police in this report are greatly concerned at the increase of slot machines. The reports that have been done in Manitoba, New Brunswick and other provinces have said it hasn't reduced the amount of illegal gambling; it's actually increased it. Will the Minister of Agriculture please read the reports of his government?

Everybody who has looked at this issue from a policing standpoint, who has looked at the results of the policies of provincial governments in introducing slot machines, has said that with the introduction of legalized slot machines in communities there is a larger temptation to use slot machines, and with that increased use comes the proliferation of slot machines, not only from the government, but from organized crime. Organized crime activity in slot machines has actually gone up in jurisdictions where VLTs have been allowed. So don't come here and say, "We're going to control the legalized gambling." Come on. Get straight. Read your own reports.

It's not the member for Cochrane South who's making this up, it's not the member for Welland-Thorold making it up; it's the people who have experienced gambling, who have gone and looked at the results of introducing slot machines in communities, who have written the reports that are available to this government to make up its own mind. But the government hasn't listened to Mr Kormos, the member for Welland-Thorold, our critic on this matter. They haven't listened to the Liberals. You're certainly not listening to me at this point.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Did you listen to Peter?

Mr Bisson: I always listen to Peter. I think Mr Kormos is a fine member who contributes greatly to our caucus.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Did you vote for casinos?


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Bisson: Look, I've woken them up. One of them there just asked, "Did you vote for casinos?" How many times do I have to say yes? Lord, I wish the government would sometimes get a grip on it.

The report goes on to say:

"It has been suggested that Fredericton may be a suitable yardstick to compare to the rest of New Brunswick with respect to video lottery gambling due to the social, economic and political makeup of the city.

"This paper, and the ongoing probe into the video lottery gambling situation in Fredericton, was not intended for use as a yardstick for comparison with other cities or locations. The facts presented are an effort to analyse crime trends in the city of Fredericton and to supply Fredericton Police Force administrators with the best possible tools to manage the force."

They're recognizing that there's a problem. I say to the government -- I've got to say it again -- read your own reports, please. That's what they're there for. There are people out there who have spent a lot of time and know a lot more about this than most people around here, who are just begging for the opportunity for you to take a look at the work they've done -- within your own ministries, within the OPP, within other jurisdictions that have dealt with video lottery terminals called slot machines -- and are asking you to look at the reports. I'm sure that if you were to read the reports you would have a very difficult time standing up in this House and voting yes.

There we go. I just got a nod in the affirmative on the other side. I like that. We're getting somewhere. We've got one on side. I hope that means you're going to be voting no.

The other thing I say to the backbenchers is that -- listen, I say it again -- being a backbencher in a government is a tough job. I've been there; I understand it. It is tough because you're not in the centre of power, you're not at the cabinet table and you're not always privy to everything that goes on around the cabinet table. But you have a responsibility -- and one of the reasons I got re-elected, I believe, is because I took that responsibility seriously -- to come to the Legislature, to go to your caucus meetings, to go meet with the Premier or the minister responsible when there's an issue that your community is telling you there's a problem with and on their behalf, on behalf of the community, to say what your community has to say and pass it on to the minister responsible.

You're not going to make me believe for one second that out of the 80-some-odd Tories that are in this House you haven't been lobbied by people who have a problem with casinos -- who have a problem with slot machines. I've been going on here for an hour, so I guess it's about time I come to an end when I start --

Mr Bradley: No, no. Keep going.

Mr Bisson: Keep going? Okay, here we go. We're going to do it again.

You're not going to tell me for one second that you don't have people in the community who have come to you as Tory members and said, "Bring this message to Mike Harris and to the minister of gambling, Mr Tsubouchi, and tell them I'm opposed to casinos." I would be willing to wager that if you were to do that, you'd probably have a better chance in your community to gain the respect of the electorate and hopefully get re-elected, because I don't believe that you're going to be in really good shape come next election time on the basis of what this government is doing, not only when it comes to Bill 75, but when it comes to a number of other issues you're dealing with. You have to have the respect of the people you represent and bring the views that they bring to the table and to the Legislature so that people can hear their voice through you. That's your responsibility.


I want to say for the record, I want to say it again because I said it at the beginning, and maybe some of you weren't there: There are people in my community who support putting slot machines in communities. There are. But they are not the majority. I can give you some names. One of them is a good friend of mine. I shouldn't use his name because maybe he doesn't want me to use it, but there are people I've talked to over the period of six years who have lobbied me both in the business community and in the general public who would like to see a casino in Timmins or who would like to see slot machines in the community, and I've brought those views to the caucus and I've brought those views to this Legislature.

In the end, I was pretty honest with them. I said: "No, I don't support the introduction of slot machines in our community. I don't see that as being a good use of public policy. I think we'd be better off trying to deal with other issues that are far more important than dealing with the revenue that you're going to be getting from slot machines."

I say again, the government should at the very least dedicate part of the revenue from the dollars that they're going to raise through slot machines to policing in order to deal with the organized crime element of it if you're going to go for it, dedicate some of the dollars towards the addiction issues and the issues of crime, because we know there are going to be more people getting addicted to gambling as a result of the introduction of slot machines in communities and, number two, there is going to be more activity on the part of organized crime. You have to dedicate dollars to that. You can't have happen what you're doing now, can't get away with saying, "The Treasurer of Ontario, the finance minister, will get all the dollars."

You at least need to take a look at this from the perspective of the effect that it's going to have on organizations and communities that are fund-raising. With the introduction of video lottery terminals, called slot machines, the crack cocaine of gambling, it's going to become increasingly difficult for other charities out there to raise dollars. Why? Because they're going to be competing for those dollars that are less and less because more of them end up in the slot machines. Simply put, there is only so much disposable income to go around any community. Every dollar that goes into a slot machine is a dollar that won't go into something else and will not go into other charitable organizations.


Mr Bisson: I see the member for Scarborough East just woke up. Welcome to have you in the Legislature.

You're going to be in direct competition with charitable organizations that are trying to fund-raise and are having a difficult time of it to boot because of what your government is doing in the reduction in expenditures. They are having to compete with more and more people who are trying to fund-raise as a result of the cuts.

The other thing I say is, one of the secrets in this legislation is, when it comes to charitable gaming, as it stands now, 100% of the dollars raised through charitable gaming stays in the community. It goes back to the organizations. Once the operator has operated it, paid the cost of operating it, the rest of the money stays in the community to the organization. The only money the government makes is on the licensing. Under this bill, guess what's going to happen? You're going to end up in a situation where 50% of the money made is going to go back to the government. And how does that help our communities? The government says and Mike Harris and the rest of the ministers, "We want to see people volunteer and we want to see people get involved in their communities and we want to see people come up with their own solutions and do things for themselves." Well, you keep on taking away the tools that they have to do things for themselves.

I say to the government, shame. You can't have it both ways. If you're serious about that, leave the communities with the tools they have, the very few tools they have, to be able to deal with fund-raising. By allowing video lottery terminals, you're going to be in direct competition with churches like Perpétuel Secours, with the Church of the Nativity, with other organizations in the community, the Dante Club and others, who are trying to raise dollars to support their communities. It's going to become more difficult.

When you're allowing 50% of the dollars through charitable gaming to go back to the province, that's a direct grab on those very few dollars that are left in the community. The government stands to make what? They stand to make literally hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue with this. So why are they doing it? They're doing it because they have to pay for a tax cut and they're trying to balance the budget. Why don't you come clean? I would like it at least once that a government member would stand up and say, "Yes, I agree; we are doing this because we need the revenue," and not try to qualify it with everything else that goes on, because the reality is you are doing this for the revenue. The government can't hide behind that. It's not because you're trying to deal with organized crime in the industry. That's not what this is all about.

I say again, in the few minutes that I have left, that the minister for gambling and the Solicitor General have been sitting on reports that they're not making public. We've been asking for certain reports to be made public, we're asking the minister to table reports that we know are in existence that speak to this issue negatively, I would say, and the government sits on them and says, "I haven't read the report, I haven't seen the report, I don't want to look at the report because, if I do, I'll find out that what I've been told about it is true, which is that it ain't good for the province of Ontario."

It is incumbent upon to the responsible ministers to make sure that information comes forward. Why does the Solicitor General sit on the report from the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario? Either the Solicitor General is not looking at the notes that come across his desk, is not reading his briefing notes, is not paying attention to what happens in his ministry, at which point he should be turfed out, along with the minister responsible for gambling, or they're withholding information from the people of this province. That's not what government is all about. Government is supposed to be open, in a democracy, where people have information and are able to make decisions based on facts and available information. By withholding reports, you're doing nothing to deal with that.

There will be a temptation on the part of many people in this province who are economically disadvantaged, because of the policies of this government, to go out and spend that last dollar in the slot machine. In doing that the government is not only hurting the first policy, which is to reduce the amount of money they get in the first place; they're going to take the money out of the pockets of people who can least afford it.

You go back to your constituency every so often -- as government members you have to -- and sit with constituents, as I do, in your constituency offices; you meet with constituents in various locations. Those constituents will tell you the same story they're telling me: They're finding it more difficult to get along today because of the policies of your government. What the reduction in welfare rates has meant to people in our communities is a tragedy.

When I have a woman come into my office, like I did the other day, who says, "I have to stop my granddaughter from coming into my house to visit me because I have no food in my cupboards, not even a stick of bread, not a pint of jam, not a jar of peanut butter," to give her granddaughter and she's having to tell her daughter to keep the granddaughter away, it rips me apart. I'd never seen this in the time that I've been a member, but over the past months by the end of Friday I'm literally drained, along with my staff.

People are coming in who are desperate, and it rips your heart to hear what some of them have to tell you, which is increasingly becoming the norm come Friday. At one time, as the member for Cochrane North and others would know, when we had people come into our constituency offices it was because they had an economic development proposal. They may have had a problem with government and wanted a little bit of help to deal with that. Generally there were positive things that were happening. But we're seeing over and over again people affected by the policies of this government who are becoming economically and socially disadvantaged as a result of those policies.

You see them. You can't sit there and tell me that you don't, because they're out there. If they're coming into my office, they're going into yours. People in Timmins are no different from people in Brampton; they're no different from people in Hamilton. They hurt, they bleed and they're affected the same as anybody else in this province when it comes to your policies. Allowing gambling to be introduced into local bars and restaurants in our communities, allowing those machines to prey on the last dollars some of those people have, is going to do nothing socially or economically but spell disaster and ruin for many people in this province. I urge the members of this government to reflect on what they're doing and vote against this legislation and get back to the business of governing the province, not dealing with a tax grab.

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

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): In response to the member for Cochrane South, people of Ontario are the final decision-makers. Out of respect for people, I believe they can make up their own minds and decisions.

You must recognize immediately that gambling exists today -- I don't have to move much further from Windsor, Rama, Nevada tickets, 6/49s -- along with the charity gaming facilities that we're aware of.

We're trying to deal with what exists. It might be stated that you started it.

This is a comment made by Paul Walter, president of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association, just a couple of lines: "Legalizing VLTs, as they are commonly known, will have a severe financial impact on criminal activities and organized crime." The content of his letter suggests that unless we legalize it, we cannot deal with it.

Furthermore, you asked, are we listening? I would ask you the same question. I'm looking at a statement here made by the member for Riverdale, Ms Churley, who is sitting in the chair at the moment, and she was speaking rather enthusiastically in 1993 in the debate on casinos. "With a government-owned casino in Windsor, the ultimate winner will be Ontario: Ontario consumers, who will have a greater choice of entertainment options; the increased entertainment option will also benefit the Ontario tourism industry; and it will also benefit the province through new dollars and new jobs."

It's very clear that each individual citizen certainly has the responsibility not to abuse the privilege or the options in life, but to ignore what already exists I think would be a further error. I'm not for ignoring what exists. I'm thinking we need to regulate it, and that's what Bill 75 is about.


Mr Bradley: I want to commend the member for Cochrane South on an excellent speech on this particular bill, which I think is one of the most important bills we've had to deal with so far. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that he suggested that it was really the Premier's office and the key advisers -- unelected advisers -- to the government who were the motivators behind this, and his observation, I think quite accurate, that many in the Progressive Conservative caucus, many who go to church on Sunday and are certainly people who are very conscious of other moral issues and are not afraid to express their views on them, would be the same individuals who would be very concerned about the effects of video lottery terminals coming to every restaurant and every bar in every neighbourhood in the province of Ontario.

I share his view, I must say, that there must be many in the Progressive Conservative caucus, good family people, people who have seen the damage that extensive gambling and increased gambling opportunities have caused for people in their own community and others, who would be, at least privately, opposed to this initiative. I join the member in expressing the hope that many in the Progressive Conservative caucus will express that view to the Premier and the senior ministers. There's not much to be lost in doing so. I don't expect the people who are looking to get into cabinet to do so, because the job of those trying to get into cabinet is to get up and read the notes and say, "I agree with what the Premier says, and that's the way it's going to be." I'm not even critical of that; I understand that. But there must be a lot of people in that caucus who really have reservations about what the provisions of this bill will do, and I join the member in expressing the hope that those members, through the caucus, will express to the Premier that view and suggest that he withdraw this bill.

Mrs Boyd: I also wish to congratulate my colleague from Cochrane South on a very thorough analysis of the concerns, from his constituency's point of view, around the VLT situation. He made the point very clearly that the VLT situation is different from any of the other forms of gambling that have been undertaken in Ontario over the last 25 years. He makes that point, which was made to our government and which we listened to and refused to put VLTs into neighbourhoods, because of the advice of people like Tibor Barsony, who runs the compulsive gambling foundation, who clearly talks about the reality of gambling being in existence, that people will go to other venues in order to gamble, but that the real problem comes from the slot machines, that all the research shows that those slot machines are the most corrosive kind of problem for people who are problem gamblers.

I don't know how many of the members on the other side know families that have been devastated through compulsive gambling and how many of them understand the difference between the VLT experience, the isolation of the VLT experience, the reality of the way in which putting those coins in and pulling that handle is very compulsive for people in a way that is not controlled by a dealer at a table, is not controlled by the circumstances of the venue. So when the member for Durham East talks about trying to compare putting a very restricted form of gambling into a casino in one location, which is what our government did, it is a very different thing than putting a gambling machine, a one-armed bandit, on every corner in this province.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'd like to start by just saying that when the Gaming Control Commission was instituted by the prior government, some controls were sorely needed in the province. That was a very good step.

Unfortunately, the current suppliers that were used were grandfathered through and so they weren't subject to the normal checks that would have been done. I think that's unfortunate, but as we know, steps have to be taken progressively. That's something that we will be looking at very seriously in Bill 75: taking this further to make sure that it's very tight now, the regulation, the controls and the supervision. So yes, the prior government did something good -- I'll give them credit for doing that -- but we're going to take that further because it's very necessary.

The member from London was indicating that Tibor Barsony was supporting their efforts at the time. Certainly he indicated, because of our allocation of funds to problem gambling, it's sort of like the light at the end of the tunnel after 14 years. Once again, to your credit, you allocated about $1 million to problem gambling, and that's good, but we're looking to increase that by about 900%. It's very important for us to recognize that. I think groups like ARF really recognize the fact that we are putting more resources into this.

A question was asked whether or not we listened to the member for Welland-Thorold. I suppose I should ask you the same thing. Did your government listen to the member for Welland-Thorold? I assume that you didn't, although you know something? He has raised some good points in the past. Certainly he indicated before that -- the casinos at the time were a good opportunity for your government to address the debt that you had run up, so certainly the member for Welland-Thorold had a good point, but obviously your government didn't really listen to him much as well.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, you can sum up.

Mr Bisson: To the minister, yes, we did listen to the member for Welland-Thorold and others, because we didn't introduce VLTs. We didn't introduce slot machines in the province of Ontario because we thought then, as we do now, it was wrong and it would lead to problems in this province. That's the point I was trying to make.

To the member for Durham East, in reverse order, you talk about -- and I think the member for London Centre responded to it in good detail. Trying to compare what happens in a casino to what happens with the slot machine at a corner local bar is quite a different thing. As the member for London Centre said, a casino is in one geographic area that's contained in the building and there's controlled access to it. When you allow VLTs, slot machines, the crack cocaine of gambling, to be introduced into every bar across this province, you're not going to be able to control it.

You talk about the need to regulate. Well, it's an interesting approach to regulation. The government says, "We are going to regulate the use of slot machines in Ontario so that we're able to deal with how many slot machines are in this province." What's their response? Open the floodgates, allow a slot machine to be installed in every community across Ontario and -- sorry if I laugh -- that's going to deal with regulation. Come on. It's like saying we're going to post a speed limit and deal with it by increasing the speed limit and letting people do what they want. You can't do that. Come on. You guys are unbelievable.

To the member for St Catharines, who talks about the Premier making this decision along with people in the back rooms of Queen's Park and the golden-haired children who are in the Premier's office, yes, that is the point. This is not a consensus by the Tory caucus. This bill is not a consensus of what happened in the Tory caucus. We know that. There's a split within the Tory caucus because there are members in that caucus who don't want this to happen. Mr Murdoch is one. I'm saying you have a responsibility as backbenchers to bring this forward to your cabinet table if you're in cabinet, or to your caucus if you're in the back bench, and say: "Don't do it. It's a bad idea. It ain't gonna work. It's going to lead to a whole bunch of problems in this province."


The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): It's a pleasure to rise to speak on Bill 75 today, an issue that I have taken a great deal of personal interest in, especially considering the impact it's going to have on my riding of Niagara South.

Perhaps I could turn down the hyperbole a bit and talk about what's going on in Fort Erie today. Fort Erie, the largest city in my riding and the largest part of the constituents I represent, is the home of the Fort Erie Race Track, as the members well know, which employs, they estimate, with the spinoffs, about 4,500 to 5,000 jobs throughout the Niagara Peninsula, throughout my riding, a lot in Port Colborne and Wainfleet, the agricultural sector, people coming down from Niagara Falls and throughout the rest of Ontario.

Certainly the racing industry has been on a bit of a slide in the past, the sport of kings, a beautiful sport to watch. If anybody's been to the Fort Erie Race Track -- I know the member for Niagara Falls was recently there -- it's probably the most beautiful track in Ontario, if not North America, the best one I've been to. I certainly think so. It's also the home of the second jewel of Canada's triple crown, the Prince of Wales Stakes.

Despite a history going on 100 years, the racing industry, including in Fort Erie, has been going a bit in the direction I'd prefer it not to, a bit downhill in terms of employment and attendance. Certainly there are some more challenges coming up in the future with Casino Niagara, a challenge for the racetrack, and if Buffalo, New York, goes into gambling as well, certainly a very strong challenge there. So there are 4,500 or more jobs that I would say, without action by this government, without action by the member for Niagara South, would be in jeopardy.

Before Bill 75 was even introduced, a number of us there in the riding -- Herb McGirr, working at the track, for one, a very strong advocate for Fort Erie Race Track; John Palumbo from the economic development corporation, another; Sam McComb at the racetrack -- and a number of other individuals got together to talk about how we can address the future of the racetrack. One thing we hit upon some time ago -- I guess over a year ago now -- was video lottery terminals at racetracks.

If you look at the interjurisdictional evidence, how has this experiment worked elsewhere? If you look at the experience in Delaware, for example, Delaware Park and Dover Downs both put VLTs at the racetracks and both had tremendous success not only in bringing people in for the VLTs, but in increasing the patronage at the track. Seeing the purses go up, in Delaware Park now they've gone though millions of dollars in renovations to beautify the track, put in a hotel at the racetrack. Prairie Meadows is another example where the purses with VLTs almost doubled. Lincoln Park in Rhode Island, which I think is a dog track, faced a challenge from a casino in Connecticut. They put the VLTs in at that track and turned that track around tremendously.

If I could speak for a moment about the people working in the backstretch at Fort Erie today and the next few weeks of the racing season who strongly advocate and want us to proceed, there were a number of calls today to the Tim Hudak Action Centre in Stevensville, because some of the press had reported that Bill 75 had already passed. It hadn't passed yet, and I certainly hope it does so soon for the benefit of my riding, but there were all kinds of calls saying: "Fantastic. We did it. We got it through. It's better for the racetrack. We can proceed."

All kinds of blue sky dreams of what can happen to the Fort Erie Race Track to preserve those 4,500 jobs and maybe in the long run increase employment at the track, and then work with Casino Niagara down the road and make it a win-win situation. Those eight or nine million more overnight stays of the tourists, circle them around a bit. Have them stay, come into the Fort Erie Race Track for a day, head up to Port Colborne, go down to the Marshville Festival in Wainfleet, all these opportunities.

People at the tracks are very hardworking people who are up before sunrise, work late into the night, very plain-spoken people who don't always have a great deal of access to the inner corridors of government. Certainly when they asked for VLTs in the previous government, they were ignored. But they're soft-spoke, plain-spoken, not a lot of $1,000 suits in that group. But I, as the member for Niagara South, listened to those folks and I know our government has as well. The previous minister, Norm Sterling, and the new minister, David Tsubouchi, know the challenges that Fort Erie Race Track faces and will do their best to get this bill through to help out those at the Fort Erie Race Track.

Mike Robitaille, the general manager of the racetrack, when we did a little press conference there to announce that VLTs were being considered by the government, said that every day he would come into work and somebody would ask him: "Is the track going to be open three months down the road, four months down the road? Will the track open for its 100th anniversary next year?" Then Mike said: "When the VLT announcement was made, those questions finally stopped. It's turned around 180 degrees. It's all optimism now; all these stories of what developments we're going to have at the track; new jobs possibly; how we can preserve these 4,500 people associated with the Fort Erie Race Track."

When the justice committee came down to Fort Erie, I was proud to have it hear what the residents in Niagara had to say about Bill 75.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): What did they say?

Mr Hudak: Mike Robitaille, for one, is quoted in the St Catharines Standard as saying of VLTs, "This is a window of opportunity like we've never, ever seen before." There's certainly a great deal of excitement in my riding for the opportunities created by video lottery terminals.

There's a movement afoot to bring a charity event site into the riding. Right across the border from Fort Erie is Buffalo, New York. There are about 10 million people within 200 kilometres. It's not even a day's drive, not too far of a drive, and around eight million people coming to stay overnight in Niagara to visit Casino Niagara. It's a great opportunity for a charity event site to benefit charities like the Head Injury Association and the Ridgeway Lions and the Optimists in Port Colborne, who are trying to work with the city of Port Colborne for a new park. I can think of the gentleman in Wainfleet who was talking to me about minor hockey and the need for uniforms. There's a great deal of opportunity for the charity events to bring money into the charities and to create jobs as well.

I know from speaking with Jeff Newman of Paradise Casino, the manager down there, that he knows he's going to lose a lot of dealers. They're going to move up to Casino Niagara. But at the same time, with the opportunity for a charity event site in Niagara, he can hire more people, get them off the unemployment rolls or move them up through the system, give them the chance to work, provide for their families, maybe buy that home finally, take advantage of lower interest rates.

Mr Grimmett: Get a racehorse.

Mr Hudak: Buy a racehorse and keep that cycle going; an excellent suggestion from the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. There are a great deal of opportunities, not only with the racetrack, but also with a charity event site in the riding.

I think also of the private member's resolution that the House helped me pass last week asking the federal government to put two out of 10 cents of the gas tax back into highways in Ontario, a $2-billion investment. When we see the traffic coming across the Peace Bridge in the next few years for Casino Niagara, and I hope for the racetrack or the VLTs, and I anticipate with a charity event site a large number of cars coming across, we're going to see the traffic go way up on the Peace Bridge. Then with that traffic we can motivate governments to invest more money into the QEW and realize the dream I espoused last week of a six-lane highway all the way from the Peace Bridge to the Burlington Expressway.

Just from experience on the justice committee -- we had the opportunity to travel all around the province -- the benefits of the VLTs for my riding are clear, and they were repeated in different cities that were on the borders. I know my friend the member for Carleton-Rideau, Gary Guzzo, is going to speak about the benefits for his riding. We were in Ottawa and we heard that very strongly, as well as, I remember, in Thunder Bay, a very strong endorsement of the opportunities, and Kenora. The member for Kenora is going to face a challenge in his own caucus because of the very strong feelings of the businesses and the workers in his riding that want to see these opportunities of Bill 75 come into the Kenora area. I look forward to seeing how Mr Miclash deals with the bill. Across Ontario there's a great deal of support.

One other area we heard a great deal of support for was the roving charity event sites, the roving charity Monte Carlos that are going on right now. In my riding part of the gamble is trying to figure out where the thing is going to be on a given night. They have to move every three days. There are some grey areas we heard expressed across the province: Were charities truly benefiting from the charity event sites? When you put them in a permanent location, add some ambience, bring in some more customers and attract tourists to the area, to stay in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne and Wainfleet for a longer period of time, I know that the Niagara Falls tourism community and the Fort Erie tourism community and Port Colborne are looking forward to working together for all these opportunities that come from Bill 75.

If, before I pass my time on to Mr Guzzo, I can address the issue of addiction that was brought up, it is something I take very seriously, something I wanted to research as much as I could to try to find out the answers as to the nature of gambling addiction. Dr Jacobs, for one, has been very instructive on the nature of addiction. Dr Jacobs says that the 1% or 2% of the population who have gambling addiction problems basically choose their poison. It could be anything from slot machines, as the member from London said, or it could be the racetrack. I certainly could understand the feel of the racetrack and how that could impact on people. It could be playing cards, it could be calling your bookie to show how much you know about the football scores on the weekend. I think, as well, the research will show that there's a whole range of activities that compulsive gamblers take part in.


It's a feeling of moving to an altered reality, is what I understand. It's a movement from maybe an unhappy reality to something where you're a bit better. Dr Jacobs talked about a woman who had played with the dice, played a little craps, who felt like a different person. She felt taller and she felt more attractive, a centre of attention, according to Dr Jacobs's research. So it's not the type of gambling, it's the behaviour that counts. They just sort of choose their poison.

What do you do about these people who need to move into a different reality? The previous government had this opportunity. They had the option when they introduced new forms of gambling to try to help out these people who had addiction problems, and chose not to put any funds that way; and to the credit, I think, of this government, setting aside up to $8 million or $9 million in revenue to treat this addiction, and that's addiction across the board. As I said, it could be VLTs, it could be the racetrack, it could be betting at the bookies, it could be playing dice. This money will help to treat all forms of gambling addiction. It's certainly a fresh approach, and when we were in Fort Erie we had a lot of credit for the New Port Centre in Port Colborne, which said let's be realistic about it. Gambling addiction exists, VLTs exist, some 20,000 already throughout the province. You can let the reality stay or you can move and set the money aside and try to deal with it.

I certainly feel, after over a year of work, with the support of the hardworking people in Fort Erie and Port Colborne and Wainfleet and the Falls -- people I'm very proud to represent and people who took a very proactive response to Casino Niagara and challenges from across the border and have pushed for the opportunity of video lottery terminals at the track, have pushed for the opportunity of charity event sites as a permanent site -- I am very proud to stand very much in favour of this bill. If I had my way, it would pass as soon as possible to give those opportunities to the racetrack, those 4,500 jobs associated with gaming in Fort Erie, to preserve them, and most importantly to pave the path of prosperity in my riding through Bill 75.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It's interesting the member for Niagara South mentions how good this is going to be for racetracks. The one question I asked the racetrack spokesperson who came to our committee was how is this going to benefit the racetracks when you've got slot machines in the offtrack betting parlours? Why would you go to the racetrack when you can go offtrack into a restaurant or bar and play the slots there? The slots are going to be in every bar, in every restaurant in your community. You're going to probably keep them away from the racetrack. The racetracks are going to suffer in the long run because these slot machines will keep people in the local neighbourhoods where they'll blow their money there.

The other thing the member for Niagara South points to, he also mentioned that they're going to take two cents of the federal tax on gasoline and use it to build highways. Why don't you tell your own government to take two cents out of the $2 billion you collect on gas tax? Don't tell the feds what to do. Do it yourself first. You refuse to do that.

In terms of these slot machines, this is all about a government that's desperate for money to feed that tax cut. It's so desperate, it won't even release the secret report from the intelligence unit that says that legalizing them doesn't get rid of organized crime. They're so desperate, they won't even release the report because they know the report would scare the pants off every citizen in Ontario and the skirts off every citizen in Ontario. This is a government that's desperate for money.

In terms of addiction, they put a few million aside for the addicts. What about the men and women who are going to lose their homes, and they are losing their homes, because of addiction to gambling? Who's going to pay for those mortgages, the $50,000 they lose in gambling in one shot, especially on these machines, which are the lowest common denominator machines. They're the crack cocaine of gambling for the bottom-end gamblers. They're not for big-time rollers. The poor are going to get ravaged by these machines.

Mrs Boyd: To hear the member for Niagara South, one would think that no one else ever heard of the importance of racetracks to the economy of a number of places in this province. My own town has a racetrack, and we are all very well aware of the numbers of people who depend very much on their income from racetracks. They are very often people who are not employable in other areas. Many who work on racetracks are not easily employable elsewhere. That's exactly why our government took a lot of action, through our minister at the time, around saving racetracks. We found it was extremely important for us to give some support to racetracks, which were finding many difficulties.

Who got the Breeders' Cup to Ontario, for example? Would it ever have happened with a government like yours, which refuses to give the seed money that is necessary to bring the kind of occasion to Ontario that will bring many thousands of dollars into the economy? Probably not, because you're so proud of saying that people should make it on their own, that they should be independent and that they shouldn't have to do that sort of thing.

Instead of that you throw out the idea that somehow, by spreading VLTs all over this province, creating all sorts of gambling issues in communities that never had gambling issues before, you're saving racetracks. One of the things you folks in the government party are very fond of doing is talking about other people being fearmongers. The kind of nonsense you just spoke is exactly that.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'd just like to respond to and support the comments made by my colleague from Niagara South. His comments about the need to protect racetracks in this province I think were very well put.

While we hear rhetoric from the other side, unfortunately the last 10 years did not bear substance. Over 25,000 jobs were lost in the horse racing and breeding industry in this province alone in the last 10 years. I say from firsthand experience, as a one-time horse breeder and racer who was driven out of the business by decisions of the last two governments, that the average price of yearlings has dropped every year since 1981. The average employment has dropped every year since 1985. Every racetrack in this province is losing money today and the remaining 40,000 jobs are at risk.

The other side is quite prepared to paint a picture of what might happen when we get to the third and fourth stages of the ultimate VLT evolution, if it ever comes to that. What we're dealing with in the short term is the implementation of VLTs only in racetracks and charitable casino sites. When it comes to racetracks, whether it's off track betting -- my colleague from Oakwood obviously doesn't know that bets there form part of the tote and payout, and no one who goes into an off-track betting parlour doesn't understand that they're there to gamble -- whether they're gambling on a VLT or on the actual horse race, it will be the same individuals.

When you talk about addiction, I'll give credit. At least the NDP government gave $1 million towards addiction. The Liberals did nothing in their five years. A quote from Dr Room at the Addiction Research Foundation says that the 2% of gross revenues from the terminals we're going to give to addiction research causes will build some treatment centres for casualties of gambling in Ontario and be a positive improvement.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It's interesting to note that the member for Niagara South's remarks were limited almost exclusively to racetracks. I think if he listened to my remarks yesterday, racetracks are certainly considered as a controlled environment.

It's further interesting to note that the member for Niagara South said absolutely nothing about the proliferation of these insidious little slot machines in every bar and licensed restaurant around this province. That's where your suggestion that these things should be put in, I believe, starts to fall apart --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Scarborough East, order.

Mr Crozier: That's all we're asking. We're asking the member for Niagara South to certainly support those parts of the bill that he feels will be of benefit, but for goodness' sake if you don't think they're going to be of benefit by putting them in every neighbourhood in the province, have the courage to stand up and say so. Because some people might infer that since he didn't mention that he's not in favour of it. As I recall, there were very few, if any, racetracks operators who came to our committee hearings, who after they had put forward their own point of view which, as I said, is for VLTs in controlled environments, said, "Ah, but we'd like to see them as well in every bar and restaurant across this province." They didn't say that. And do you know why? Because they don't favour it either, I think. So that's all we're asking. If you've got the courage to say what's wrong with this bill, stand up and say it.

Mr Hudak: Talk about a lack of conviction. I spent many days on committee with the member for Essex South, who, I joked with him one day, showed more leg and winked at everybody who was up there on six or seven different sides of the issue during committee hearings. So don't talk to me about lack of conviction. I fully support Bill 75. It's good for my riding and you know that I have --

Mr Crozier: I didn't say anything about conviction, I said courage.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Essex South, come to order.

Mr Hudak: -- the courage to support this bill and your courage lasted about the five minutes that the person was up there with their presentation. When they're out the door, your position changed.

Mr Crozier: I'll match my courage with your courage any day of the week.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Essex South, come to order.

Mr Hudak: Once more, the member for Oakwood, who if I recall correctly, opposed the federal government putting some money into Ontario's highways, which I thought was a disappointing view, but I understand he wants to protect his federal buddies in Ottawa. So that's very sensible. But to talk about why would you go to the races? Well, look at the evidence --

Mr Colle: What about your government, what about you guys, what about your $2 billion?

The Acting Speaker: The member for Oakwood, come to order, please.

Mr Hudak: -- member for Oakwood: Lincoln Park, Iowa; Prairie Meadows; Save Racing in Delaware; Dover Downs; Delaware Park; California; Manitoba. The list is endless. This is a successful form of VLTs at racetracks. It's worked everywhere else, it's going to work in Ontario, it's going to work in Fort Erie. It's going to save these jobs and bring more jobs to the area. The evidence is in.

The member for London Centre, the member of the NDP government, claims to have tried to help the racetrack, but lip-service at best, without action. You had a chance, the members of the third party, to cut the tax to the races. You refused to do that. A possible $40-million investment. You simply refused to help out that way. People from the track asked for VLTs. You said, "No, we're not going to help out the tracks this way." You ignored the evidence from the rest of North America. You didn't care. You turned your back on the racing industry. Don't pretend to be friends. And calling my arguments, which the racing industry has said for your kind -- nonsense, shows the arrogance of the third party when they were in power, and now thankfully the third party in opposition.

I'd say one thing too: Don't talk to me about the horse racing industry, because the third party wouldn't know a horse if it bit them.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak on what I consider to be one of the most important pieces of legislation this government has brought forward; important because the ramifications for the province are very dramatic and I think the consequences for vulnerable and desperate people are grave indeed.

Although it's another government, I don't approach this particular issue on a partisan basis. I don't like it when any party does it, and I well recall sitting in the cabinet that someone was always ready to say, "Would you like to have casinos or would you like to have VLTs or something?" and my response was always no. I suspect that every government which wants to get revenue without going to the people with direct taxes is lured in by this. This is not the only government in Canada doing this by any means, and the Premier and the Treasurer of this province will point to other provinces and other jurisdictions as though that somehow justifies what Ontario is doing with this piece of legislation.

I well recall Mike Harris, if I may call him by his name, and Ernie Eves standing in opposition, making I thought some excellent speeches against gambling in this province. Particularly Mr Eves, the member for Parry Sound, I thought made some very compelling arguments. In this case it was against casino gambling, but he expressed his concern about gambling revenues and governments becoming addicted to gambling revenues. He was right then. I think he's wrong now, even though he may have a view that's different from the Premier behind the closed doors of cabinet. I don't know that; I can't say that. The Premier himself was quoted on many occasions as being opposed to this.

I thought Eric Dowd wrote a good column. This appeared in the Peterborough Examiner on May 15, 1996. I want to quote it because I think it really tells the story of Mr Harris and Mr Eves, two senior people in this House, on this issue. It reads as follows:

"Premier Mike Harris has this strict principle on gambling -- he is against it unless it can make his government a lot of money.

"Progressive Conservative Mike Harris was fiercely opposed to expanding ways to gamble before he won last June's election, but since then he has approved a new casino in Niagara Falls and video lottery terminals at racetracks, licensed restaurants and bars.

"Casinos have proven a licence to print money for government and Harris estimates the VLTs alone will bring it a profit of $260 million a year once they are in full operation.

"This is not quite what Harris and his finance minister, Ernie Eves, promised when their party was in opposition trying to win votes.

"Harris explained, `We've always known casinos generate cash, but we are not convinced this is the kind of way we wish to raise money.'

"When the New Democratic government introduced the first casino at Windsor in 1994, Harris sneered it was `driven by thirst, hunger and desire for more cash for government' and `laid-off workers there can look forward to minimum-wage jobs dealing blackjack and serving watered-down drinks to Americans.'" The Premier said that.

"Harris said the NDP had no mandate to introduce a casino and the Tories would hold a binding, province-wide referendum before allowing more.

"Eves in opposition was even more scathing. When the NDP announced its Windsor casino, Eves protested that `governments of all stripes in all provinces seem to be more and more addicted to the revenue that can be obtained from gambling.'

"Eves challenged the NDP: `Are you suggesting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Ontario Provincial Police would be in favour of introducing casino gambling into Ontario? I would suggest they probably would not and it would be the furthest thing from their desires.'

"Eves warned, `Wherever casinos are found they are inseparable from organized criminal activities. There are going to be many societal and law enforcement problems.'

"Eves even had specific criticisms of VLTs, explaining Nova Scotia dropped them because of `quite a few instances of people becoming addicted to them.'

"Gambling there, Eves said, `was placing a great cost on the health system because it has to send the gambling addicts it has created to the US for treatment.' Eves said the NDP at least should raise the gambling age from 19 to 21.

"As recently as a couple of months ago he was still warning `My personal feeling is that VLTs could create a lot of social problems.'"

Well, he was right. I agreed with both of them when they made their speeches in opposition. They were good speeches, I thought then, of conviction. What has happened since then to change this government's mind, to prey upon the most vulnerable, desperate people in our society and those who are addicted to gambling? It is a desire for more revenue and nothing less.

I can't believe there aren't people in the government caucus who understand -- I understand those who must say what they say. They read the government line, and you can hear it, whether it's one member or another, and those who wish to advance. I accept that there are going to be those. But I suspect there are many in the government caucus who are really reflecting upon this as a move that is a big mistake on the part of this government. I think those who think that are being wise and are entirely right.

What we have is a government that has made a decision to give a 30% cut in income taxes, a tax cut which will benefit the richest people in our society the most. You were warned that if you do this before you balance the budget what would happen was that you would have a shortfall, when you had it fully implemented, of $5 billion a year in revenue and that you were going to have to do one of two things, though you've done both: make further and deeper cuts than were ever contemplated and, second, find new sources of revenue. You're doing the first and now you're doing the second with this bill.


What this bill allows for is video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, in virtually every bar and every restaurant in every neighbourhood in the province, and I can't think that is healthy for our society. That's what I am particularly opposed to.

As members who have been in this House for a number of years know, I am no fan of casinos either, but the fact is we have casinos in this province. They are a controlled environment, just as, I suppose, a racetrack is a controlled environment in terms of gambling activities. But with this, you are bowing to pressure from people who want these machines in their bars and restaurants. I know that may be popular and I know some members will say, "That's going to benefit my riding," but sometimes you have to stand up to those who are putting the pressure on. Sometimes you have to stand up for the principle of avoiding putting further temptation in front of those who are the most desperate people in our society.

That's why this government is doing it. I think that's a fair conclusion. I don't really think that the Minister of Finance of this province, who has made outstanding speeches in this House and in other places against gambling profits for government, really believes that the proliferation of VLTs, video slot machines, into every bar and every restaurant in every neighbourhood in Ontario is good for our society. Yes, it will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to this government, and every Treasurer likes that, every Premier likes that. But you have to ask yourself, as individual members, what price are you prepared to pay to get this revenue? Is it really worth that price? I think it is not. I know some others have different views and I respect those views, but I really believe it is not worth that.

There are so many articles on this quoting experts in the field. I'm a political person, a representative elected at a local level. I meet a number of people. I hear about these instances. But there are people who do studies on this, from universities. These are psychologists and psychiatrists and sociologists, people who have actually done objective studies of this to see what the effect is on people. Time after time, in article after article, they point out that this is a most addictive, most alluring form of gambling that this bill will permit, that is, video lottery terminals, and they mention why on many occasions.

One that I thought was particularly good was Garry Smith, who has become the gambling specialist at the University of Alberta. He describes the appeal of video slot machines: "First of all, it's the speed at which you can play. You can complete a game cycle in about one and a half seconds once you're adept at playing, and because of that you get the feeling that you're constantly in action. That's what gamblers seek, this tingle of excitement when they're playing all the time, and they control the speed of the play, which you don't in most other forms of gambling, where the dealer or something else controls that speed. Here you can play as fast as you can."

The article goes on to say: "The VLT is the most addictive form of gambling, addictive because it is fast, addictive because it provides instant gratification, addictive because it is paced for the modern way of thinking, younger people who are used to computerized gambling instead of dealing cards or throwing dice. The onward march of the slot machine in Canada has seen only a few reversals."

There's an article virtually every day, if you want to look for it, on the issue of video lottery terminals and the effect of those. The point I'm making is that these are the experts in the field. This isn't just somebody trying to make a little more money on a short-term basis. I know it's attractive. I know people who own restaurants and bars who would love to have these. They would say to me they would love to have them, and I'd like to please those people, I'd like to say, "Yes, you can have them for now" and, "Yes, you might be able to make some profit," but I think the price our society pays is too great. After all, those of us who are elected to this House are elected to protect the vulnerable and the desperate and the addicted from this kind of temptation.

Conrad Black will not be playing these machines. He's a very wealthy man. He does not need this money. He is not a desperate individual in this regard. I'm not going to be playing these machines; many, many people in our society will not. We who are elected are not necessary for the rich and the powerful. Rich people and powerful people do not need their elected representatives. Yes, we must listen to what they have to say, because their viewpoints should be taken into consideration, but they really don't need the protection and assistance of those who are elected to public office, because they are in themselves powerful and wealthy individuals.

First of all, I should say there is some widespread opposition to these. That opposition comes from the people I've described, the experts in the field who have studied this form of addictive gambling. It also comes from most police authorities; from people in the churches, who recognize what this is doing to families because they do a lot of counselling of families who have addicted people within those families. It comes now even from municipalities. My own municipality passed a motion against video lottery terminals going into the bars and restaurants, and I notice that even the city of North Bay passed one, the Premier's own constituency. I understand why they're doing so. They are worried. They will see the consequences in their own communities.

The Treasurer, Mr Eves, has made the argument, as have those who have been given the notes by the Premier's office to read, that somehow there are a lot of illegal machines out there, so they have a solution for it: If there's illegal activity, make it legal and have the government run it. That's as silly as saying that there are people selling crack cocaine out there, there are people selling other illegal drugs, so somehow the government should take over that operation and should sell those drugs and make the profits and have it under a more controlled environment; or that because there are a lot of banks being robbed, perhaps the government should get into the business of robbing banks. They're silly arguments. They simply don't hold water. I think the government knows this, but it's trying to cling to these because of its desperation for these revenues.

There have been some reports that have come out. There's a report we can't get hold of, which I'm very concerned about, a report that this government will not provide to members of this assembly even on a basis where there may be some blotting out of certain areas of the report because there are some sensitive areas. I understand that; I'm not an unreasonable person. But the government will not produce this report. I have a photocopy of the cover of it; I have not seen the report itself. It was on the program W Five on CTV, quoted extensively. It's called Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, and the report is Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995.

I find it difficult to believe that the Solicitor General of this province, a law-and-order man, to be sure, in his days in opposition, would not have had an interest in reading this report or at least a report on the report -- in other words, a précis of it, an executive summary of the report pointing out the problems -- or that the Premier would not have seen this report.

I've noticed as well there's a leaked document which is for the Premier -- it's called a briefing note for the Premier -- on the subject of illegal gambling, March 18, 1996. Some of the points in this are quite revealing. If you read even this, you see the concern which is being expressed, and this is, as I say, what the Premier received back in March. It says, "It is the responsibility of the individual police forces to allocate resources to combat this problem in their areas."

What does that mean? That means the more time the police have to spend on looking after video lottery terminals in every bar and restaurant in every neighbourhood in this province, the less time they have to deal with important issues of law and order and preserving some kind of peace for people in their communities in dealing with criminal activity of another nature. It's going to put an additional burden on those police forces.

There's a suggestion by the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the Honourable Norm Sterling, that somehow there would be a control in every bar and restaurant. Look, nobody believes that. Nobody believes that, because you're going to have kids going in there playing these machines, you're going to have people, who shouldn't be in there, shelling out their entire paycheque in these machines. You can't supervise them. You can supervise them inside a casino because that is a controlled setting and they are policed. As I say, I'm no fan of casinos, but at least they can be supervised there. They may be able to be supervised within the other controlled setting of the racetrack, but I'll tell you, they cannot be supervised on the basis of every bar and restaurant.


If there are problems out there, and I hear there are illegal machines, then Mr Law and Order, the Solicitor General of the province, can simply go out and close the machines down. I mean, you're a law and order government, you're large as life taking a run at other people who are engaged in criminal activity. I welcome you to stamp out this criminal activity as well by simply enforcing the present law, instead of taking it over and making it a government operation.

The briefing note to the Premier that was leaked to us also says the following: "A comprehensive report entitled Gambling in Ontario: Current Enforcement Concerns, 1995 was prepared by the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario and distributed to its membership in December 1995.

"The analysis shows that illegal gambling flourishes in Ontario and there is potential for abuse in the legal gaming sector. Although the amount of legalized gaming has increased over the years, regulation, investigation and enforcement has remained relatively stagnant."

I think somebody said earlier there were four people in the province who are assigned to this.

The briefing note to the Premier goes on to say, and this is the most telling point of it, "Legalized gambling has never replaced illegal gambling, which has increased with interest shown in bookies and wagering on sporting events, video gambling machines and gaming houses."

There it is right there. The report says that if you legalize it, you don't improve the situation. In fact, you get more people interested in it. The criminal element is moving into the gambling in this province in a big way and this government appears to want to look the other way because it's so desperate for the funds that can be generated by these activities.

There's another report which I think is very good, a letter which comes from the Metropolitan Toronto Police. It comes in this case from Paul Gottschalk, who is the acting staff inspector, special investigation services. Let me read it to you. It was sent to the member for York South, Mr Kennedy, and to the executive assistant for Mr Kennedy, Ms Ann Evans.

"Dear Ms Evans:

"As promised, please find enclosed a collection of news articles, policy papers and a bibliography compiled at our request by the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission on the subject of video lottery terminals (VLTs). As I alluded to in our telephone conversation last week, I am not completely satisfied that we Ontarians are fully aware of the impact that VLTs will have on our quality of life.

"We at special investigation services have received complaints from family members of those who use these machines, complaining of financial devastation to illegal VLTs. These people are the victims, and while I admit that 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.

This is really devastating stuff when you think of it. He goes on to say:

"I believe those who predict the legalization of VLTs will lessen or eliminate illegal VLTs are incorrect. Illegal machines, which are not subject to taxation or return percentage monitoring, are virtual cash collectors and in the absence enforcement may become indistinguishable as legitimate equipment.

"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, whereupon he states:

"`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 security for the introduction of video lottery terminals.'

"I might also add that the government should be prepared to resource policing demands for all collateral criminal activity that I believe will be the product of this legislation.

"I hope this information is some assistance to you.

"Paul Gottschalk,

"Acting Staff Inspector,

"Special Investigation Services,

"Metropolitan Toronto Police."

This letter says it all. This is exactly what's going to happen, and this government proceeds forward.


Mr Bradley: The former president of the Progressive Conservative Party, who interjects constantly, always gives the message of the government. I know that's what your job is. I know you want to get into the cabinet and I know you will say anything.

I want to give the member credit. You do that well, giving the government message. You always do it. I know you will never vary from the government message. That's a role that must be played. But there are a lot of members elected to this House who don't want to do that, a lot of members elected to this House who want to think for themselves, who are not necessarily ambitious to move up, to cater to the whims and the fancies of the Premier. Those people, I hope, at least in cabinet and at least in caucus, will speak out. Some will not speak out in here and I guess I understand it. I find it disconcerting, but I understand it. But I hope at least in caucus those who aren't here simply to please the Premier and to laugh at all of his jokes and to agree with everything he says and to give the government line will at least speak out about something like this, when you see the kind of evidence that's forthcoming.

I am surprised, though I guess I shouldn't be, that the government didn't want to share the secret report to which reference has been made, because I am sure that report would not bolster the government argument for this legislation.

Let me say, by the way, there are parts of this legislation which are supportable, which deal with parts of the Liquor Control Act. Part of this legislation is supportable, but certainly not all of it.

If you think people are going to spend a lot more money in these establishments, I think what you will really find is that they'll spend the money on VLTs and won't necessarily spend it on the food and beverages which may be available in a restaurant or in a tavern. So often it isn't additional funds coming in, but it's very attractive.

I think I told the story once in this House before of a restaurant that wanted, and did bring in, offtrack betting. I was in the House making a speech such as this, I think on casino gambling at that time, and I made a reference to offtrack betting. This person phoned me and was furious that I would mention that what had happened was this person had lost his regular customers, because the people who were coming in for offtrack betting were simply gamblers. They were simply people who weren't going to spend money on other products and services that might be available. This person was infuriated with me. I noticed that about a month later the offtrack betting had disappeared from that restaurant, and I admired the person for deciding to go back to the family atmosphere, to the groups and regular customers who had been there before.

I've always thought that Conservatives are supposed to be cautious, Progressive Conservatives, as you are referred to. The Conservatives by nature are not people who are supposed to take risks, risks with consequences for our society. That's why, out of all the political parties in this House, the party I least expected to proceed with video lottery terminals would have been the Progressive Conservative Party, for years a party extremely cautious before embarking upon new social experiments. And this surely is a social experiment.

What is happening with video lottery terminals being permitted in every bar and every restaurant in every neighbourhood in Ontario is that we are allowing for an escalation of gambling opportunities. As I say, in the best of all worlds and on a personal basis, I am not enamoured with the opportunities that are already there for gambling, but I understand that they are there and I accept that they are there.

What I think we in this House can do today is send a message to the powerful people within the Premier's office and the inner sanctum of cabinet that this mindless escalation, going into the dark, murky waters of every bar and every restaurant in every neighbourhood, is dangerous. That's a risk that Conservatives, of all people, people of a conservative nature, of a cautious nature, should not be embarking upon.


There are times I listened with interest to the member for Niagara South and the arguments that he made. He spoke of his own constituency and what he wanted to see happen in his constituency and of the people who are going to be delighted with the opportunity to place these in bars and restaurants and even in these casinos -- not the casinos such as Niagara Falls or Windsor, but the other so-called charitable casinos -- and how good that would be. But I want to say that sometimes you have to vote your conscience. Sometimes you cannot be lured in by the opportunity to please others, whether it is because those others may provide a favour in the future in terms of support, whether financial or otherwise, or whether you simply want to be popular with those people.

Our government in this province and in other jurisdictions should be trying to encourage very positive kinds of businesses. When you lure manufacturing jobs to Ontario, I applaud that. When you bring new service industries to this province, I think that's good for our province. When you assist in any way in doing that, I am prepared to indicate my strong support. But I don't think you do anybody a favour when you proceed with legislation which will allow such widespread gambling in every neighbourhood, next door to every house in Ontario.

I think the government of Ontario under Premier Harris has made a big mistake. I understand why it's doing it; I understand the desperation for revenue is something the government has to confront. I think if you were to abandon this, you would find a lot of people supporting what you're doing, everyday people out there who understand the problems, people who are expert in the field. The most compelling arguments would come from those whose families have been affected by the disease of gambling, those who are very addicted to this particular activity. You can gain the funds. You can make some people like you, and I can think of people in my own constituency who would like to see this happen, but I think you should overcome that temptation.

I have been criticized from time to time because I have been less than enthusiastic about casino gambling anywhere in Ontario. Members used to say across the floor in the other government, "If we had put it in St Catharines, you'd be in favour of it." I said, "No, if you put it in St Catharines, I would not be in favour of it." I would say so publicly, and did on many occasions. I don't want to fight old battles, so those battles are done and I understand that and I don't think it's productive to go over that old territory.

What is important is the opportunity that is presented to us in this debate today, in this House as this debate continues. That is an opportunity to rethink the position of the government, to reconsider, to look at the reports from the Metropolitan Toronto police, to look at the secret report, or at least some of the conclusions that W Five mentioned on this secret report that the government has which shows the amount of criminal activity that's taking place in gambling and that this can in fact increase. I think it's important in anything we do in this House, in any initiative a government embarks upon, that you look at the consequences. The government will gain revenue, the government will gain favour with many, but I ask the members of this assembly, at what price to our society?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Questions and comments?

Mrs Boyd: There's one thing that can always be said about the member for St Catharines. He has been indeed, and he is right, very consistent around this issue of the expansion of gambling in the province of Ontario. Liberals may flip-flop on a lot of things, but the member for St Catharines has been quite consistent in terms of his real opposition to the expansion of gambling and his real concern about the problem gamblers that are created when the kind of gambling that we're talking about, VLTs, is available. If we go back over his record, he has said in this House on many different occasions the same thing, so I would say to him that while it is somewhat disconcerting sometimes to a government in power to hear such powerful arguments from the opposition, you at least have been very consistent in your comments on this.

I would also thank him for reading into the record the letter from the special investigations unit that really tells us what the informed police believe is around VLTs. The member for Durham East very gleefully talked about what the head of the police union in Toronto said and pointed to that as police opinion, and it's really interesting to hear this government talk about that particular individual's opinion as having any merit when the Solicitor General made scathing comments about the comments of that particular individual around the tragic events that happened here on March 18. It's really interesting to hear him cited as an expert by the member for Durham East.

I want to say thank you to the member for reading the full letter so that we know what the basis was for that judgement by the special investigations team.

Mr Gilchrist: I have no choice but to rise and comment on the scurrilous allegations made by the member for St Catharines, maligning the members of the government who day after day come into this chamber and represent what we thought were the appropriate ideals and principles in a democracy: that we listen to our constituents and we come in here and we represent them as best as we can, and one other thing -- when you make a promise to the voters, as we did in the Common Sense Revolution, that you actually live up to those things. It's regrettable the member for St Catharines misreads that as somehow toadying to the Premier or aspiring to the cabinet. Nothing could be further from the truth. We're already blessed with probably the most capable cabinet this province has seen in decades.

Mr Wildman: You were against all this.

The Speaker: The member for Algoma, order.

Mr Gilchrist: I think it's also appropriate to ask the member for St Catharines if he remembers being at the cabinet table when the Peterson government approved the roving three-day Monte Carlo events that are the source of all the problem today. I wonder how many of his members voted against that government initiative when they had a chance in this House.

He spoke also at length about the concerns, the criminal aspects or the potential criminal aspects of legalizing VLTs. My colleague from Durham East alluded to the letter from Paul Walter, the president of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association, wherein he says: "Legalizing VLTs, as they're commonly known, will have a severe financial impact on criminal organizations. The problem is with the existing illegal VLTs. This will give controls."

He's backed up by Chief John Kousik, the chief of police in Windsor. He agrees, and in an interview on a local radio station said: "In the new law that they're coming out with" -- Bill 75 -- "there are a lot of modifications to the regulations. It's going to be very strict. So if there are going to be VLTs, there is going to at least be government control and the rules are going to be there." This will protect society against the existing problem that the member's government created with the roving Monte Carlo events.

Mr Colle: I'd like to commend the member for St Catharines. I can really sense a deep sense of sorrow in his presentation because I think he really believed Ernie Eves and Mike Harris when they were on the other side and they used to say that a government that was so desperate for money that they would rely on gambling to solve their economic problems was a government that was basically bankrupt.

The member for St Catharines believed Ernie Eves, he believed Mike Harris when they said that for years in opposition. So you can see the deep sense of disappointment in the member for St Catharines when now he sees Mike Harris, as the Premier, and Ernie Eves, as the Minister of Finance, have totally transformed themselves into avaricious money-grabbers who are going to use slot machines to solve the economic problems of this province. That is why he is so upset and that is what I think makes him very, very despondent about this government's use of slot machines to Band-Aid over the voodoo economics of trickle-down economics of Reagan.

Paul Walter was mentioned, and Paul Walter will also tell you that in Metro Toronto we're 600 police officers short. Who is going to enforce these slot machines that are going to be in every bar and restaurant? Are they going to hire more OPP officers? Are they going to give more money to municipalities for police officers? They're not going to be able to enforce them. They're going to have -- what? -- 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 slot machines in every neighbourhood in this province. Who's going to make sure that young kids aren't using them, that people who are desperate, unemployed, aren't going to use what they call the crack cocaine of gambling? Who's going to be there to supervise them? Mike Harris or Ernie Eves?

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: You say that with such feeling, Mr Speaker. Thank you.

I had an opportunity to listen to the speech made by the member for St Catharines. On this issue I have to commend the member for St Catharines, because he has been consistent on the issue of gambling as long as I have known him. He opposed it when they were government under the Peterson government, from what I understand from his speech, he opposed gambling of any form under our government and he still opposes the introduction of slot machines in Ontario. I don't think there's a member in this House who can stand up for what was done by the Tory caucus and accuse the member for St Catharines of not being true to his principles. On this issue I have to give him credit.

I know the member for St Catharines thought he had an ally. He thought that with Mike Harris's comments during the Parliament of 1990 to 1995, Ernie Eves and others were allies of his, because he listened as I did in this Legislature during the time of the NDP government when the members of the Tory caucus used to get up time and time again and speak against the introduction of any form of gambling in Ontario. They were opposed while in opposition. They were vociferous in their opposition to the NDP government on the introduction of casinos in Ontario. I know that the member for St Catharines thought he had found an ally. He had heard Mr Harris make comments in the House like: "As Donald Trump" -- a good friend of his -- "says, `Gaming doesn't come cheap.' I have to agree with a lot of critics on that. It brings crime, it brings prostitution, it brings a lot of the things that maybe areas didn't have before. There is a big cost to pay."

Mr Colle: Who said that, Mike Harris or Donald Trump?

Mr Bisson: It was Donald Trump, but Michael Harris agreed with that comment and Mr Bradley, the member for St Catharines, thought, "Finally, I have somebody in this Legislature who's on side, who's square, who's behind me and who believes in the same things." He feels betrayed by the Premier, betrayed by the members of the Tory caucus who are now reversing and flip-flopping their position in government.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate very much the comments of the member for London Centre, the member for Cochrane South, the member for Oakwood and the member for Scarborough East. I'll deal with the member for Scarborough East because he took a contrary position. I want to commend him. He is certainly predictable. If you want to know what the Premier wants to hear, all you do is listen to the member for Scarborough East. I suspect many of his colleagues know that. I don't expect them to be nodding now, but I suspect many of his colleagues know that if you want to know what the Premier wants to hear, listen to the member for Scarborough East and the former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario will tell you.

I find it passing strange that he has a selective quote from a union leader on this occasion, because I know on so many occasions he's expressed something less than enthusiasm for what union leaders have had to say in this province of ours.

I note that, as has been mentioned by several of the speakers, Mr Eves and Mr Harris were opposed. Let me tell you how good Ernie Eves was on this issue. I bow to him on this issue, because it's been mentioned that I made a number of speeches in the House on it. I used to ask Ernie Eves for some of the material he had. He sat just a few seats over. He had good material. I quoted him in opposition. I still go to the Hansard to get the material he used. Do you know that the Conservative House leader in those days, Mr Eves, was kind enough to provide that material to me and, on occasion, to ensure that I had an opportunity to speak in this House? I agreed with Mike Harris and I agreed with Ernie Eves on that occasion, and I hope the members of the government caucus look back on their words so that they will defend the desperate and the vulnerable in our society.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, I am due to speak next for our party with respect to Bill 75, but given the late hour, I will do that tomorrow, so I would move adjournment of the debate.

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

The House adjourned at 1755.