36th Parliament, 1st Session

L114 - Thu 24 Oct 1996 / Jeu 24 Oct 1996


























































The House met at 1000.




Mrs Marland moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 85, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to Impaired Driving Offences / Projet de loi 85, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui concerne les infractions pour conduite avec facultés affaiblies.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I am very pleased to open the debate on my private member's Bill 85.

I express my appreciation in advance to the government and both opposition parties for their support of this bill. I know your constituents will be grateful if there are fewer drivers on the road as a result of this bill or similar legislation and will be proud of your vote in support today, as they are proud of you always.

Every year in Ontario over 500 people die in motor vehicle crashes where alcohol was a factor in the collision. If that many people were killed in a plane crash it would be the top headline in major newspapers around the world, yet we are complacent when people are killed, a few every day, by impaired drivers.

Why? Every one of those crashes could have been prevented. They're not accidents. They're crashes which could have been prevented. Every one of those crashes leaves a trail of victims in its wake: thousands of lives that are prematurely snuffed out; families and friends who never fully recover. In fact, every person in this province is a victim because impaired driving costs Ontario $1.3 billion a year in personal financial loss, medical expenses and property damage.

Most of us know personally a family or friend whose life has been forever changed by one of those horrible crashes, like Mrs Janetta Lavery and her family. Mrs Lavery is in the gallery today. She lost her son, Warren, at age 20. We also have the tragic example of Sarah Petroni and Jerry Lynch. They were Brampton teenagers simply walking home from a movie and were struck down and killed by a drunk driver in 1994. They weren't even in another car; they were simply pedestrians. We also have the incredible example of a male driver who received a three-year licence suspension after he drove while drunk and killed an adult. Within two weeks of this male driver getting his driver's licence back, he drove drunk and killed again. This time the victim was a child.

We are the lawmakers and we have a responsibility, on behalf of all Ontarians, to ensure that our laws and programs prevent these tragedies. Although we have made significant progress in the fight against drunk driving, we still have a huge problem on our hands. Each year in our province over 25,000 people are charged with impaired driving, and these are just the people who get caught. What does this tell us about the actual number of people who are driving while drunk every day?

One of the most disturbing trends is the increase in the number of repeat offenders, who are responsible for the majority of impaired driving convictions. Licence suspensions for a second or subsequent conviction of impaired driving have increased from 50% of all suspensions in 1987 to 65% of all suspensions in 1994. It's a pretty disgusting record. The source of these figures is the Ontario government's publication Drinking and Driving in Ontario: Statistical Yearbook 1994. It concludes:

"The predominance of repeat offenders illustrates (1) the need for new, innovative programs to deal with this group, and (2) the need to identify potential repeat offenders at the time of their first offence so that special measures can be implemented at that time to reduce the likelihood of subsequent offences." That's on page 41.

My private member's bill addresses both of these needs. Some members of this House will remember that I introduced an earlier bill on impaired driving in November 1994. That bill died on the order paper when the then Premier, Bob Rae, did not recall the Legislature before the general election was called in 1995.

Since the election, the Mike Harris government has enacted administrative driver's licence suspension, abbreviated as ADLS. This was one of the key measures in my original bill, and I am extremely pleased that the government's Bill 55, which includes ADLS, will be proclaimed in time for the holiday season this winter. The government will also introduce additional measures against impaired driving, as outlined in the road safety plan which was released one year ago.


My private member's bill, like the road safety plan, proposes remedial measures for convicted offenders. Prior to licence reinstatement, offenders will be required to complete an education program, including alcohol and drug rehabilitation where addiction was a factor in the offence. This will help us identify and treat people who are likely to become repeat offenders.

My bill will also increase the existing penalty for repeat offenders. It will lengthen the minimum licence suspension for a second conviction of impaired driving from two years, the current requirement, to three years, and for a third conviction of impaired driving, the suspension will increase from three years, the current requirement, to five years.

Finally, my bill will permanently revoke a driver's licence after a fourth or subsequent conviction. Based on legal advice, I have included a mechanism for appealing the permanent revocation after at least five years have passed since the licence was revoked.

The escalating licence suspensions in my bill reflect measures that already exist in other Canadian jurisdictions. For instance, Alberta and Saskatchewan also suspend drivers' licences for three years after a second conviction of impaired driving and for five years after a third conviction.

In permanently revoking the licence of hard-core repeat offenders, my bill goes further than the laws in other North American jurisdictions. None the less, there are precedents for permanent licence revocation in European nations, for instance, Finland and France.

I am committed to making the legislative changes needed to take driving privileges away permanently from impaired drivers who have repeatedly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to operate a vehicle safely. Isn't there something terribly wrong with our laws if a person can drive drunk, get their driver's licence back and commit the same crime over and over? Eventually we must say, "Enough is enough."

This bill is quite simple and straightforward. It is about rights and responsibilities. It is about the right of every parent walking on a sidewalk with their baby in a carriage not to have to fear that a drunk driver may mount the curb and crush them both to death. It is about the responsibility of every driver to operate their vehicle in a way that does not endanger other people's health and safety. Driving is a privilege, not a right. We must earn that privilege. If we don't, society can and should take that privilege away.

I ask the House to support these measures, and I look forward to hearing the comments in support of this bill from my colleagues this morning.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I want to thank the member for Mississauga South for bringing forward this private member's bill. Of course, there would not be one individual in this House who would not be supportive of the fact that drunken drivers should be off the road. Of course. But I also would like at this time to thank many of those groups, especially MADD and many of the community groups, which have been advocating for years to make sure that our highways are safe and that our society is run in a manner in which we can all live peacefully.

In my short time -- I know my other colleagues here want to make some contribution, and time limits us from expressing it as fully as we could -- I would just make a couple of points which I think are extremely important. I strongly believe that it is the communities around us that really make a society, meaning that many of the communities that are non-profit do it voluntarily, go out and make sure that our young people or adults or people who are addicted to drugs are looked after.

I notice too that my dear colleague, with good intention and a good heart, would like this to be moved forward, and of course it is something that I would support, but I think it is so limited in itself. That government itself, that same Mike Harris government has attacked many of the communities that are doing some excellent work, cutting off their funding, making sure that they don't exist -- I sometimes wondered about that -- saying they can exist alone.

But if you don't have good communities doing these things, and expect that legislation will bring forward building bigger jails, greater fines, more police on the road, and that will solve it all, I don't think it will. What we should be doing first is to make sure that those communities and those organizations are supported. Give them funds. Let's put it where it should be. Government cannot do everything alone. They need the support of communities, and sometimes they need money to do so. They need the support of legislators who will give them that kind of support, not really putting them down.

I've just been disappointed in this government in the way they have attacked and approached some of those community groups. In strong support of those groups, I would like to see this government coming forward and giving them the kind of funding that they should get and not cutting back on their funding.

We know the cause itself is not the drunken individual behind the wheel, it is the alcohol itself that's causing it. Can you imagine if we had a society where we are taking alcohol off? One of the biggest distributors of alcohol is the government itself. They own the place. But we would never one day start a debate on whether we should take alcohol out of society. No. It makes too much money, although at a great cost to our society. We have health costs. If you look at the health costs and what alcohol has done, of course, if you look at that and the destruction of families, you would then say, "My golly, what a cost."

With the same energy that we do the attack on cigarettes, maybe we should start focusing and be bold enough as legislators to debate that aspect of it, to wonder whether we should be looking at alcohol as really the enemy, the cause -- many people are addicted to it -- and then, after the fact, looking at whether we can rectify it, or whether we should have stronger laws, enforce them more rigidly. Will that solve the problem? I don't think it will, but I do think that the direction in which the member for Mississauga South is going is just a limited direction itself. They should start looking at their government and realizing, in support of those community groups, whether to give money there and give it the strong moral support that it needs and stop coming here and talking about "my bill" and "Mike Harris," "my bill." That doesn't help the situation. Let's get some meat into all of this.

Member for Mississauga South, I will be supporting this because it's just a little bit in the right direction, but again, there's a far way to go. Your government should change their attitude towards those community groups. They are very helpful and forceful in bringing a better society for us all to live in.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'm going to be voting for this bill because I think it's a step in the right direction. I would say to the member from Mississauga -- she mentioned earlier on in her comments when starting off that she knows all of us do a good job -- she got that first hand when she talked to one of my constituents yesterday on my cell phone. That's right.

Anyway, I'd like to make a couple of comments specifically in regard to the bill, and afterwards I just want to make a general comment. As I said, this is a step in the right direction. We shouldn't try to skate away from that. What the member is attempting to do here is to tighten how we suspend licences for people, especially when they're repeat offenders. As it is now, we have a mechanism that we can suspend a person's driver's licence if the person is convicted of an offence while driving under the influence of alcohol.


The member is attempting to toughen those provisions so that once a person is caught for the first time, there would an automatic one-year suspension of the driver's licence. If caught a second time, the person would get a three-year suspension, as I understand it. If caught a third time, the person would get a five-year suspension of that licence.

This is a step in the right direction. But for the record, although this will in the end, as the member said, lessen the number of accidents on the road, there is also another part to it: I think it is a little bit tough with regard to subsection 41.1(3), which I'll come back to a little later when I'll speak specifically to that.

There is one part that I think is not a bad idea. Subsection 41.1(6) says, "A person's driver's licence that is suspended under subsection (2)," -- which is the first, second and third time -- "or revoked under subsection (3) shall not be reinstated until the person successfully completes at the person's own expense,

(a) a prescribed educational program on the topics related to impaired driving."

I think that's a good idea. If we're going to suspend somebody's licence because they have been caught impaired, we shouldn't automatically give it back to them. I think you'd be defeating the purpose. The person gets the licence back, and statistics show there are repeat offenders. To prevent that from happening, we should be trying to curb the person's problem with a little bit of education.

What's lacking in this bill -- I'm not necessarily advocating that it be in the bill, but as a matter of policy for the government -- part of the problem is that as legislators we're trying to close the doors once the horse has run out of the barn. Although this is a good step, and I don't want the member to take this as a negative comment, this is after the fact, once we've caught the person.

We need to try in a big way to educate people so that they know they shouldn't get in their cars when they've been drinking. Governments prior to the member's -- the Davis government, the Peterson government and the Rae government -- spent a lot of money making sure there were public ads, that there was public education going on that said, "Don't drink and drive." The industry itself and the hotel and restaurant industry got heavily involved with the designated driver's program, where people were encouraged to give their keys to somebody who would not be drinking that evening to be assured that the person leaving who would be behind the wheel would not leave in a state of intoxication.

Although this is good, I urge the member from Mississauga South to go to the Premier and cabinet, hope they'll listen and say, "You may be heck-bent on trying to deal with the deficit, but we need to put some money into education and make sure that young people and other people in our society are always reminded that drinking and driving are not a good thing," and that is what we need to concentrate on.

She and I grew up partly in a time when drinking and driving weren't seen as a bad thing. I can relate stories, as the member for Mississauga South can, where we've seen people in our communities, and even at times people in our families, who would drive under the influence of alcohol because it wasn't seen as a bad thing in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.

Because of public education on the part of governments, and the hotel and restaurant industry getting involved, we've very much changed attitudes, when it comes to drinking and driving in this province, and probably across most of Canada, to the point where it is now not socially acceptable to see somebody walking out of a bar under the influence of alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car.

Most people in the general public will do whatever they can to tackle those persons, if need be, to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car. I certainly have, in the past, stopped people form getting behind the wheel of a car after they've been drinking. It goes to show what you can do with public education, the effect you can have, on reducing the incidence of accidents related to drinking and driving.

The bill is good because if people are under the influence and get caught, I think, "Great, the bill goes in the right direction." But first we need to do public education so that people see it as socially unacceptable and take a personal responsibility as citizens, not just the government, not just the police but people in society, and say, "It is not right to be drinking and driving and it's not something that is accepted." The second part is that people around them say, "Hey, I'm not going to allow this to happen."

The other thing I suggest to the member for Mississauga South is that RIDE is a very successful program. The RIDE program, as people across Ontario know it, puts up roadblocks at peak hours, when people are coming out of hotels and going on municipal roads and provincial highways, where they spot-check. That is a really good deterrent. How many times have I gone to a function, as an MPP, where's there's alcohol involved and seen people having one, maybe two drinks and that's it. If they have their vehicles they don't even take a chance because (a) they know it's socially not acceptable, but (b) they know darn well that the RIDE program is out there. How many times have I heard somebody say to me, as I'm sure it's been said to the member for Mississauga South: "Boy, I'm not going to drink and drive. I'll probably get caught in the RIDE program".

I think those efforts on the part of the provincial government -- and municipal governments, because the RIDE program in other forms is also run by the municipality -- need to be beefed up. We need to make sure we have the budgets to operate those because they are a good investment in saving lives, preventing accidents and preventing the problem from happening in the first place.

I encourage the member for Mississauga South and all other members of this assembly to go to the Premier, to the Minister of Transportation, to the Solicitor General and others and say, "Make sure the RIDE program is beefed up, make sure that it's operating the way it needs to and let's make sure our municipal police forces do the same." This bill, although good, deals with this issue after the fact. Do we need to do that? Of course, and I'm not arguing otherwise; I'm just saying we need to do this way ahead of time.

I say to the member for Mississauga South that I and the other members of the New Democratic Party will be voting in favour of your resolution. I would only be remiss if I didn't say for the record that the member for Welland-Thorold has basically the same motion that was to come before this House next week. I don't know how, procedurally, we're going to deal with this in the House. If it's dealt with in one motion under the bill of Margaret Marland, I wonder how we're going to deal with that next week, because both bills were attempting to do the same thing. I think it shows there's broad party support for this. The member for Welland-Thorold from the New Democratic Party is coming next week with the same motion, so we'll see what happens next week, if the bill comes back for a second time in a different version, which bill will get the support.

With that, I'd like to leave whatever time is left on the clock for my friend from Nickel Belt, the dean of the Legislature, who I see has returned and has many things to say about this bill.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): It's a privilege to address this private member's bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to impaired driving offences. For 10 years I went into Burtch Correctional Centre on a monthly basis to talk to inmates locked up for drunk driving. It's my opinion that jail alone is not the answer, hence I'm very supportive of some alternatives presented today, especially those presented by my colleague from Mississauga South.

I wish to pose a question to members of the Legislative Assembly: What if there were no drunk drivers, no alcohol-related car crashes, no motorcycle smack-ups or boating accidents, no snowmobile decapitations from fence wire because the operator was too intoxicated to notice, no resultant injuries, property damage, insurance claims or lawsuits, for example, when a drunk driver puts a victim in a wheelchair for the rest of their life?

We would see fewer premature funerals, less need for police officers, coroners, insurance investigators, judges and lawyers. An Ontario without drunk drivers would be a different world indeed. There would be 47% fewer motor vehicle deaths on our province's highways and back roads. In 1994 alone, 544 people would have lived to see the end of the year. Some 176 pedestrians killed that year would theoretically be with us today if they or the driver who killed them had not been drinking; half the people killed in snowmobile crashes, motorcycle accidents and ATV crashes would also still be enjoying their sport; and a whopping 88% of the people who drowned or were killed in boating accidents that year would still be alive and would still be contributing members of our society.

It is true that overall in the past 10 years the number of incidents involving drunk driving has decreased by 44%. This has occurred for a number of reasons: Public education campaigns through such groups as Citizens Against Impaired Driving, the Brantford Drinking and Driving Countermeasures Committee down my way, dual enforcement and education programs such as RIDE, mentioned earlier, have brought us a long way.

This, unfortunately, does not eliminate the problem. Every 45 minutes in Ontario, a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash. Impaired driving is the number one killer of young people aged 15 to 24.


I support Bill 85 and I thank MPP Marland for setting the stage to address this issue: the number one cause of criminal death and injury in Ontario. I also know that Minister of Transportation Al Palladini has already asked his ministry staff to look at these proposals. We truly want to determine the best way for government to get tougher with impaired drivers.

In 1994, 25,520 drivers in Ontario were charged with impaired driving. Of these driving offenders, 65% were released for second, third and subsequent offences; hence the importance of this proposed legislation to crack down on repeat offenders. As explained, the bill calls for a driver's licence suspension for at least one year for the first offence; three years in the case of a second conviction; five years in the case of a third conviction; and on the fourth conviction the individual's driving privileges are revoked permanently. The message is clear: We want drinking drivers off our roads immediately and we don't want to make it easy for them to come back, possibly giving them the opportunity to injure or kill someone else in the meantime, as we have heard today.

Repeat offenders are the untouched problem in Ontario. Through measures set out in Bill 85, enforcement will be coupled with education, or alcohol and drug rehabilitation if needed. Research shows that alcohol abuse treatment helps to reduce repeat violations. Seven provinces already have education or treatment programs in place for those convicted of impaired driving.

The Addiction Research Foundation, where I worked for 20 years, examined the potential impact of introducing mandatory remedial programs for convicted drinking drivers in Ontario. Their findings: Rehabilitation reduced all-cause mortality by 30%. Therefore, considering that 544 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 1994, the ARF estimates that 77 deaths will be prevented. This figure does not include injuries and does not include non-driver deaths that would also have been prevented.

I believe MPP Marland's legislation has very broad support. Her previous work has now been adopted by our government in the form of the administrative driver's licence suspension. Adopted in 40 US states, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, the 90-day administrative driver's licence suspension has proven to reduce alcohol-related crashes, deaths and injuries by up to 50%. It is a strong deterrent to get drunk drivers off our roads.

The Addiction Research Foundation also has an evaluation of this program. The results: For example, it shows a 4.6% reduction in drivers involved in fatal crashes. Therefore, going back to the 1994 figure of 544 people killed and factoring in this 4.6% reduction, we can see that some 25 driver fatalities alone would have been prevented. I consider this factoring conservative and I reiterate that this does not include reductions in injuries and non-driver fatalities.

The regulatory control of the misuse and abuse of alcohol has been increasing under this current government. Here in Ontario the Ministry of Transportation is leading a working group to develop several options. This group includes representatives from the Addiction Research Foundation, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services.

As many would know, Ontario has extended bar hours to 2 am. Until now, Ontario had the earliest last call in Canada and its bordering US states. Some people were drinking past 1 or 2 am in after-hours clubs or were driving across the border. Car crashes occurred as people travelled to take advantage of more liberal hours in other jurisdictions. Changing bar hours by one hour reduces the number of drinkers who cross the border to neighbouring jurisdictions such as Quebec or New York.

The prohibition of alcohol for 10 days up to and including the May 24 weekend has been established over the years in provincial parks. This ban goes back to about 1978. Since that time parks have been periodically added or removed from the list in response to whether or not there is a problem.

We are committed to working with the private sector for awareness programs; the RIDE program has been mentioned.

I personally have worked to try and decrease drinking and driving for over 20 years now and I'm heartened by an Ontario government that remains very serious and uncompromising in its position on drinking and driving, a position of zero tolerance. This position and the private member's bill today will bring us one step closer to a world without drunk drivers.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I want to join my colleague the member for Scarborough North in supporting the bill standing in the name of Ms Marland. These are tough measures, but it's clear, and all previous speakers have indicated, that the community is increasingly concerned, particularly about repeat offenders. The member for Mississauga South, the sponsor of the bill, has quite eloquently spoken to the statistical data which suggest that in the last seven to eight years the number of licence suspensions for repeat offenders has increased from 50% to 65%.

There is no doubt that there is community concern. All members hear it and feel it; all of us. Speaking for myself, I have a certain conflict of interest here. I live on the roads of Ontario; I have for over 20 years. My principal residence has four tires and it sits out in the Queen's Park parking lot, and I don't laugh when I say that. If you drive 100,000 kilometres a year, you've got to be interested in Mrs Marland's bill.


Mr Conway: Well, I am deadly serious. I heard the member for Norfolk. He makes some very good arguments. This is a conflict for me. I don't take public transit. I live in rural eastern Ontario. I drive to the provincial capital every week. I drive upwards of 100,000 kilometres a year, and when I hear Mrs Marland and others tell me about what's going on on the highways of Ontario I am particularly concerned.

Like all members, I have had friends and relatives who have been killed or seriously maimed by this horror to which bill 85 speaks. I live on the Ontario-Quebec border, as does my colleague the member for Lanark-Renfrew, who is here today. He, like I, will know that one of the real problems we have -- the member for Nepean is here; I heard him very eloquently speaking to this issue on CBC Radio in Ottawa a couple of months ago. If you live in the national capital area, if you live in Pembroke, if you live in Renfrew, this is an issue for, among other reasons, the differential activity between Ontario and Quebec, the differential regulations.

The previous speaker talked about different closing hours. There have been countless tragedies in and around that interprovincial bridge at Pembroke. I'll never forget the night a couple of years ago that four or five young people were killed in a horrific accident -- I think the average age of those kids was in the early twenties -- in one horrific fatality that, as I recall, involved alcohol.

None of us can be indifferent to the issues raised by Mrs Marland in her bill. These are tough measures. I support the measures. I'm sure the courts will have something to say about some of these at some point, but that's not for me to decide.

There are some attendant issues for me. Enforcement is clearly an issue. The intentions here are very good. I think everyone expects this bill to carry unanimously because of the issues we've all recognized, but as legislators we've got to go beyond just good intentions and good principles. Good public policy is about reasonable enforcement.

When I think about what I experience these days on the highways and byways of Ontario, I'm not at all sure that we have or will have the kind of enforcement that is going to be necessary, particularly in rural and northern Ontario, to make these good intentions stick. I hope I'm wrong. My impression, for example, is that the RIDE program -- and for this I give Roy McMurtry and others great credit. I watched that RIDE program evolve over the years, and there was no doubt in my mind that there came a point some time in the early to mid-1980s when it really cranked up the resources and changed the public perception about your chance of getting caught. When people understood that their chance of getting caught was much greater, behaviours changed. When people think their chance of getting caught is dropping, I suspect the behaviours are changing the other way.

My friend the member for Nickel Belt is going to speak shortly. He and I were chatting just a moment ago about the particular problems in places like rural and northern Ontario. There's no such thing as Mississauga Transit where I come from; there is virtually no public transit. Most people I represent travel by car or half-ton truck 30, 40, 50, 70, 80, 100 kilometres a day to work. So we have to think, it seems to me, what are we saying to people? And I'm not excusing the bad behaviour that will get them caught in the net of Bill 85, but people, being people, will perhaps consider means and activities that we don't like because the economic imperatives of their lives require that they get to work. So there being no public transit in rural Renfrew or in Nickel Belt -- there being no OC Transpo, there being no TCC -- we've got to be careful that this policy does not effectively impact differentially on citizens across the province. I don't know how you solve that problem, and it is a real problem.


I was saying to my friend Floyd Laughren a moment ago that one of the other issues about enforcement, as far as I'm concerned, has to do -- and I don't know how to put this felicitously, but over the years, in my part of eastern Ontario and western Quebec and in a couple of university towns with which I'm quite familiar, I've seen some absolutely outrageous tavernkeepers. Most are good. Most of the licensed establishments are quite good, but boy, there have been some pretty bad actors over a long period of time. You sit there and say to yourself: "What would they have to do? How much death and carnage and illegality would that establishment have to engage in before the Ontario or the Quebec liquor licence commissions would actually revoke the licence?"

I think one of the real issues in enforcement might be that if the liquor licence commissions of the various and several provinces, including Ontario, went after some of the really bad actors, the egregious misconducts, and said, "We're going to take your liquor licence away and you're never getting one back, ever" -- because there's more to this than just repeat offenders in terms of drinking and driving. My friend from Lanark may want to comment on this, but there are issues of responsibility that attach not just to drivers; I think that's where the principal responsibility clearly does attach.

Really, it is a draconian measure, but quite frankly, after three or four convictions, yes, I think the member from Mississauga is absolutely right. It is a right, it is a responsibility -- it's a privilege, I guess was the word you used -- it is a privilege and it's not a guaranteed right. I have no difficulty at all; if somebody has been convicted three or four times of drunk driving, then take their bloody licence and never give it back. I'm sure there's some judge who's going to tell me I can't do that, but that's a very serious offence in my view. But it is equally serious that some tavernkeeper consistently breaks the law and encourages the very conduct that we're trying to change.

A couple of quick and final observations. I like the idea that after each suspension there be a mandatory driver education program or drug and alcohol rehab program. Again, my question there is -- I don't want to be partisan lest I offend the now departed member from Caledon, but quite frankly the driver education offices in my part of eastern Ontario are currently just a mess. I presume that's all going to get fixed up, but we can't impose any more burdens on those people at the present time because they can't discharge the responsibilities that they've now got. It's a good idea, but the current infrastructure, particularly in small-town eastern Ontario, I can tell you, the MTO offices simply cannot maintain their current responsibilities and there's no point in thinking about giving them any more work because it simply won't happen. There may be a way around that, it may be something we want to give to community-based organizations or whatever, but it's simply not realistic to imagine that they're going to discharge that responsibility, though it is a very good idea and I commend the member for it.

I guess a final observation is, I was listening to a legal affairs reporter the other night on CBS News talking about the "three strikes and you're out" initiative in the US. You will recall a couple of years ago the Clinton administration, together with Congress, really got together on what seemed to be a bipartisan initiative to deal with some repeat offenders, and boy, it was good politics: three strikes and you're out. Well, a couple of years after that bipartisan initiative was enacted, it's basically irrelevant. They were using California as the example. It doesn't matter two hoots apparently, particularly in the courts of California. So again, good intentions, good principles and good public policy, and surely it means that we've got to implement in some reasonable way.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I am pleased to stand and support the member for Mississauga South in this initiative. I know this is not a Margaret-come-lately initiative on her behalf and that this is something she's had an interest in for some time, and I commend her for that.

I don't think anyone has said anything in debate so far that I can disagree with, which is very unusual in this assembly. When you read through the explanatory note, it does explain it very thoroughly and I think strikes the right balance on penalizing. I commend her for finding that balance, because I think we can get a bit foolish sometimes in our exuberance to straighten out a problem. I think the member for Mississauga South has found a balance here.

I am a bit like the member for Renfrew North, because I drive 60,000 to 70,000 kilometres a year because my constituency runs almost 400 miles north and south and almost 100 miles east and west, and you must drive to those places. There are communities interspersed throughout the riding so I can't just fly to one, and so I drive. So I too have a vested interest in this.

But also I can recall as a youth upsetting a car, turning over a car, a very serious accident, the details of which I can only leave to your imagination, other than to say that it's one reason I'm speaking on this bill today. I'm not alone in that regard, I'm sure. How many of us are pure when it comes to the issue of drinking and driving? We do need to toughen up our laws.

I am concerned about the whole issue of prevention versus cure. It's a bit trite to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I think in this case it's true, that if we could find some way -- and I'm not pointing fingers here -- of preventing drinking and driving as opposed to dealing with it after the fact -- now, dealing with it after the fact also is preventive in nature, I understand that, and it's one reason I'm supporting this bill.

I do hope that in this era of fiscal restraint we try to strike a balance on how much money we put into programs such as the RIDE program. That is a good program. We need more promotion in the schools for the designated driver philosophy. I think there's a lot of work to be done with the tavern owners of this world. There's still a lot to be done there. I hope it wouldn't have to be done just through the courts. That's a messy way of doing it and punitive, and perhaps there are better ways of educating our tavernkeepers as well, although the ultimate responsibility lies with the person who gets behind that wheel, and I think we all agree with that.

If there is any one of us who does not know a family that's had tragedy strike because of drinking and driving, I'd be surprised. It may not be in our immediate family, but I would suspect that we all know someone.

I want to leave some time for my colleague the member for London Centre. I simply reiterate that I commend the member for Mississauga South for bringing this bill forward, and she will be receiving our support.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill 85 and compliment the member for Mississauga South for her effort and dedication on this important issue. As the member for Nickel Belt pointed out, this is no last-minute effort by the member for Mississauga South. This bill is a product of her long-standing commitment to this very serious issue in the province of Ontario.

Drunk driving causes deep concern for people in my constituency of Nepean. A number of tragedies in my area have had people in our community very concerned in recent months and over the last year and a half. I think all members have seen the number of petitions that I have presented to the Legislature over the last year on this issue on behalf of constituents. We had a very successful town hall meeting where we had more than 250 people come out to hear the member for Mississauga South, among others, deal with the issue of impaired driving. In Ottawa-Carleton, we're very privileged to have a new MADD chapter, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In Nepean we have a Nepean Committee Against Impaired Driving and we have work by the Ontario Community Council Against Impaired Driving in my constituency. I think that amount of community support is a recognition of the importance that people in my community place on this very, very difficult issue.


I should say at the outset that I'm pleased to note that we have a very non-partisan debate on this issue, and I commend my colleagues the member for Norfolk, Nickel Belt and Renfrew North for that, because I think this issue is too important to involve partisan politics.

The scope of this problem is very serious. Drunk driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in this country. The member for Mississauga South spoke about more than 500 deaths in the province of Ontario each year. If that were two or three airline disasters, this would be an absolute outrage. There would be royal commissions going on on this issue. But the 500 deaths in Ontario do not speak to the problem, because for every death there are countless injuries and for every person involved in an accident there's their family and the community which also suffer. Every 45 minutes a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash. It's not a victimless crime. It's a tragedy for families and communities, and these victims have a face.

There was a tragedy in my constituency involving the daughter and grandson of Senator Marjory LeBreton. Marjory wrote me a letter, part of which I'd like to read, with her permission, into the record.

"There is a serious problem of drunk driving in Ontario and too many innocent people have been injured or killed.

"To that list are added the names of my cherished daughter Linda LeBreton and my wonderful and loving grandson Brian LeBreton Holmes.

"I want you to know that you, Margaret and the others, such as MADD, who are joining together to combat this horrendous problem are to be highly commended. I intend to fully and actively participate in all efforts to change and strengthen our laws. I believe that people who have little or no respect for the law and callously disregard the lives of innocent citizens should be subjected to laws that do everything possible to remove their potential to wreak havoc on innocent victims and, by direct extension, the family and friends of the victims."

That's just one face of a victim in the province of Ontario. We look at the tragedy for this family and so many other families.

There's clearly a need for tougher action in the federal Parliament, and I don't think this is a partisan issue. But having said that, hopefully the passage of this bill could send a message to the federal Parliament, to all parties there, that there is a real and sincere need for them to take tougher actions on this issue. Obviously we cannot amend the Criminal Code in this place, which is a substantive answer to some of the problems.

I believe there's an obscenity of repeat offenders and the lackadaisical attitude taken from them. Even the best of us makes mistakes, but the question is, do we learn from them? Regrettably, too often people in Ontario don't. Some will argue the measures in this bill are tough. Certainly I can put on the record that I would like to see this bill go much further, as would people in my constituency. I say, if we're not getting tough after the second offence, then when? Regrettably, there are far too many repeat offenders, as the member for Mississauga South spoke of: 65% of charges are for repeat offenders. Educational programs have been very successful, but as the member for Renfrew North pointed out, there is a strong need for an active deterrent, for people to fear going out and getting caught, and a need to target the small group causing the problem.

Some say perhaps these are anecdotal. They're not anecdotal. How about Claude Pilon, who was jailed for two years after his 15th offence? That's an obscenity. How about Jean Marc Droulin, jailed for two years for his 10th conviction? Had his licence suspended for three years. That's the maximum today. An obscenity. What about Victor Legros, sentenced to 2.5 years for his 11th offence? There's one case we read about in the Ottawa Citizen in the last six months where it was a 28th offence. This bill can't address the Criminal Code issue, and we hope our federal counterparts in the federal Parliament could seek to toughen their measures to deal with repeat offenders.

Educational programs have been successful with the general public. I think we've got to target, though, the repeat offenders. There specifically is where the problem is.

Mrs Marland's bill specifies that the criminal pays, which I think is important. It gets tough on second and third offences and puts a "fourth strike and you're out" provision. This is a criminal problem, not a social problem any more. This bill places its emphasis on getting tough with the criminals. It moves solidly forward in the right direction. Combined with administrative licence suspension brought forward earlier by the Attorney General last spring, it goes a long way to addressing this problem.

The administrative licence suspension was originally part of Mrs Marland's bill but she withdrew it when the government undertook it as a government measure. It has been enacted and I think will be introduced in the next little while, which is good news for those of us wanting to fight this issue. ALS will ensure suspended drunk drivers do not get back behind the wheel until charges against them have been settled in court. The suspensions will be made by the registrar of motor vehicles at the request of local police. ALS is efficient, fast and inexpensive, and that will be another weapon in our arsenal to fight drunk driving. To ensure the system is fair and free of abuse, suspected drunk drivers can appeal their temporary suspensions. In most cases this will be a solid response to this issue.

I believe it's important that this House send a strong message from all three political parties that we're going to get tough with drunk drivers. I've been particularly pleased that the debate has been non-partisan in that regard. We can send that message.

This bill not only merits support today, but I believe merits speedy passage through a committee of this Legislature and through third reading.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to speak briefly today in favour of the member for Mississauga South's Bill 85. She has, as others have said, been most persistent in trying to get some of these measures put into law, and she is to be congratulated on that.

When she brought forward her bill a couple of years ago, we were unable to support it in the form that it was in. Those who were in this Legislature will know there was quite a discussion about some of the legal problems that were in her original bill. I'm very pleased to see that those issues have been resolved in this bill. The possibility of appeal is there. That was one of the legal impediments to the removal of someone's licence after however many offenses there would be. It was felt that unless there was some faint hope, if you like, what we would see is people driving without a licence, and that continues to be a bit of a worry. We will hear people criticize this bill because of it.

It is true that there are some people who are so wedded to their cars that they make an assumption about driving as being a right rather than a privilege. Part of what we need to do as we teach people to drive, as we talk about driving, is to use that language: It is a privilege for us to be able to drive vehicles that have the capacity not only to transport us rapidly from one area to another, but if they are driven recklessly to kill large numbers of people. We license people and we make decisions about whether people are fit to drive or not. That is a privilege rather than a right, and we need to be emphasizing that.

I say to the member for Mississauga South that she has been one of the most outspoken advocates of stronger measures against drinkers and drivers and she deserves to be the one who brings forward a bill that makes this massive change in terms of attitude towards this. I certainly will be supporting her efforts to get this quickly through committee and to be made law, because I think it is very important.

I will say that the administrative licence suspension is not yet in effect. I understand the Solicitor General is making an announcement that it will be in effect by Christmas. The faster it comes into effect the better, because that is probably, with all the studies that have been done, the most effective way to interrupt the driving pattern immediately for someone who has been convicted, to put that lack of privilege into the picture very quickly.

We will be supporting this bill, and I offer on behalf of my colleagues who didn't have an opportunity to speak congratulations to the member for bringing it forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Mississauga South has two minutes.

Mrs Marland: I'm deeply appreciative and deeply humbled by the support of all three parties this morning, particularly to have the support of the two deans of this place, the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Renfrew North. I also very much appreciate the comments from the former Attorney General, the member for London Centre.

Very quickly, I want to emphasize that the bill does address the cost factor for rehabilitation programs. It is my intent that the rehabilitation programs, where they are mandatory for that repeat offender and for the first-time offender who may be a candidate to drive drunk again, would be at the expense of the driver, the person who has violated the law.

Yes, I agree with the member for Cochrane South that educational advertising is still necessary. It has been responsible for a great reduction and it is to get to the source of the problem, which will ultimately eradicate the problem. At the moment, my bill is only one step.

I want to say that I sincerely understand the argument about the additional problems for people in rural ridings. I don't drive 100,000 kilometres a year -- I don't think I could even do that, I say to the member for Renfrew North -- but I can appreciate what that kind of involvement is for people who have to commute in their vehicles. But I want them to be safe, and I want drunk drivers everywhere to know that wherever they drive, it is absolutely unacceptable.

In this debate we focus on the deaths, but we also must remember all the people whose lives are changed permanently, people who now live their lives in wheelchairs, in a great deal of pain, who have contacted me and said, "I didn't die; I wish I had." Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to represent all of those people in this place.

The Deputy Speaker: The time allotted for the first ballot item has expired.



Mr Gerretsen moved private member's notice of motion number 28:

That in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should develop a formal process to monitor the progress and development of Ontario's children and youth; and in order to protect children and youth and to ensure that government policies are in fact improving the progress and development of children and youth, the government should formally develop and implement a progress report on children and youth that monitors the following categories of indicators:

Environmental indicators which will identify the ideal environmental elements for the optimal development of children and will include economic security, family structure, physical environment, community resources and civic vitality;

Progression indicators which refer to the general concepts or measures over time and will provide benchmarks of development and will include health status, social relationships/involvement, academic performance and skill development; and

That the government, through a designated ministry, should be required to present to this House annually the findings of this report card as well as an "action plan" to address those areas needing improvement.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My resolution today calls for the government to develop a formal process to monitor the progress and development of Ontario's children and youth. This will complement the excellent review of the health of Canadian children by the Canadian Institute of Child Health released every five years and the work by Coalition 2000 focusing on the incidence and impact of poverty on Canadian children and families.

Many of you may know that several other jurisdictions have implemented such a process, perhaps the best known being the state of Oregon's benchmarks, and that the Canadian Council on Social Development is currently developing a report card at the national level that will be completed and released annually.

In Ontario, the Premier's Council on Health, Well-being and Social Justice in 1994 recommended that the provincial government develop its own report card to track the progress of children and youth. This recommendation has yet to be acted upon. Why would this process be useful?

First, it would be useful to educate the public about the wellbeing of our children and youth. Second, information collected from this annual process will help us in our role as legislators advance policies and practices that will support Ontario's families and communities and help them to raise healthy and happy children.

This is very important right now, especially since the Legislature is considering significant changes in how the public sector fulfils its role. We must protect children and youth's wellbeing first and foremost and ensure that every child has the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential. After all, our future economic and social security depends on how well today's children grow into tomorrow's productive, responsible adults.

We know systems and attitudes towards helping children and youth simply must change, as the social and economic environment in which our children and youth live has changed. Consider a few of the trends that demand a rethinking of how we approach raising healthy children and youth: the changing structure of families; the changing of our social climate; the different roles that women play in our society; the perception of increased violence; the economic restructuring; and of course the government restructuring that's currently taking place.

A report card process can help us adapt our strategies for helping children and youth. How does this process work? Recognizing the complexity of child and youth development, the progress report would monitor the following categories of indicators.

Environmental indicators, which will identify the ideal environmental elements for the optimal development of children and will include:

Economic security: the assured standard of living that provides families with a level of resources and benefits necessary to participate economically, politically, socially, culturally and with dignity in their community's activities.

Family structure: the characteristics and structure of the family and dynamics of family functioning.

Physical environment: in terms of natural and built environments and threats to safety.

Community resources: resources available to children and families in their local communities, including education and training, housing, health, child and family supports, and leisure and culture.

Civic vitality: the strength of social affiliation within a community, region, province and country.

Secondly, there would be progression indicators, which refer to the general concepts or measures over time and will provide benchmarks of development and will include health status, which refers to the state of physical, mental and social wellbeing; social relationships and involvement -- the strength of individual relationships or involvements with other family members, peers, community members and local institutions; and academic performance and skills development, which would include individual and group achievement in areas of formal learning and non-academic skills.

Much of this information is already collected by various levels of government. However, by making one ministry responsible for its collection and dissemination, these data would be more readily accessible and useful.

Since the Second World War economists and governments have collected a wide range of statistical information about the economy. When government wants to know about unemployment, we look at the unemployment rate. When we want to know about inflation, we look at various rates that are available to us. When government wants to know about population, we look at the population growth rates. But when we want to know about the state of our children, the government is unable to present any clear picture. Children cannot vote and are not represented in the legislatures. We must ensure that some mechanism is in place that will make governments accountable for the progress that our children are making in our society.

All parties in government in recent years have recognized the need to support and promote the wellbeing of children and youth, whether it was the Davis government when it introduced the Child and Family Services Act, the Liberal government and its report Children First, or the work done by the Premier's Council during the NDP term of office. This is an opportunity for the present government to continue this tradition and to show its commitment to improving the lives of Ontario's youth and children. I think it fits in well with their concern to see tax dollars spent wisely and effectively as it would monitor programs and services to demonstrate their effectiveness.

This government has stated its intentions to identify its core businesses and key programs using a business plan approach. I urge the government to make the wellbeing of our children a core business, fiscally and ideologically. The social and economic health of our society rests with our children. It's common sense to make them a priority.


I hope I can count on the support of the members in this assembly for my resolution and my private member's bill. I will be introducing a private member's bill and I will just read how I feel section 5 of the Child and Family Services Act should be amended, and of course this private member's bill will be introduced later on. It would include a new subsection (6), which would read as follows:

"(6) In each year, beginning with the year in which this subsection comes into force, all service providers who provide a service to children in the year will make a report to the minister so designated no later than March 31 of the following year with respect to those children relating to the following categories:

"(a) their standard of living;

"(b) the structure and safety of the environment in which they live;

"(c) the community support services available to them in the community in which they live;

"(d) the number and type of social institutions and organizations that are active in the community in which the children live; and

"(e) all other matters relating to the services that they receive as the minister specifies."

Subsection (7) would be added that would state:

"(7) The minister shall prepare a summary of the reports received under subsection (6) and lay the summary before the assembly, if it is in session, and if not, at the next session."

Making Ontario a better place for children will not be accomplished through government policies and programs alone. Families, civic and religious organizations, businesses and local communities all have important responsibilities and roles in the lives of children. But we can make a tremendous difference for children through a government that considers children foremost and invests wisely in their future.

Especially in this time, as the Legislature considers significant changes in how the public sector fulfils its role, we must protect children's and youth's wellbeing first and foremost and ensure that every child has the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential. After all, our economic and social security depends on how well today's children grow into tomorrow's productive, responsible adults.

I would be more than pleased to hear from the other members of the assembly how they feel about this resolution and the private member's bill that will follow, but I feel it's absolutely imperative that we make as a Legislature a statement that no matter what government actions are involved, the children of this province will continue to count first and foremost in the activities that we're involved in in this Legislature.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I rise in support of the member for Kingston and The Islands and commend him for bringing this forward. I also wish him well in his contest for the leadership of his party. I believe he brings a substantial commitment and presence to that contest and I wish him well, without taking sides, of course.

I recall the Premier's Council on Health had a children's committee, I believe it was called, and I believe that's the source of his inspiration for bringing this resolution forward and leading to the private member's bill which the member is going to be bringing forward.

It's particularly appropriate at this time, when government is effecting cuts -- and I don't think many members would disagree with this -- in the welfare rates, that's already been done, that affects children; health care cuts, that's going to affect children; educational cuts, that's going to affect children; housing cuts, that's going to affect children. All of these cuts that are taking place by the government are going to have an impact on our children and it's terribly important that at this time we develop some kind of indices that will help us measure the progress of our children.

While some people would applaud those cuts I've mentioned, no one out there will applaud if it means that it has a severe impact on the children of this province. You will not get support for that. I hope the members of the government side in particular -- I don't think the opposition will have any problem at all supporting this resolution from the member for Kingston and The Islands, but governments tend to get so defensive on matters like this that I sometimes am nervous as to whether or not they'll support something that's so obviously of such common sense. We'll see what happens as this debate evolves. I simply encourage members of the government not to be defensive; simply look at the wording in this notice of motion and see if there's anything in there that you can really disagree with, given how much is at stake for the children of this province.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): I rise today to speak to the honourable member for Kingston and The Islands, one of the most beautiful ridings in Ontario, as he tells me every time he gets the opportunity. I am certainly not going to speak against this motion, but rather speak to it.


Mr Preston: If that's not sitting on the fence, I don't know what is, but you're going to understand why I'm sitting on the fence before I'm finished. I don't have any trouble with "the ideal environmental elements for the optimal development of children." I hope you forgive me if I refer to that as the optimum situation. It's a little bit of a tongue twister for me. Certainly, nobody can disagree with this. The optimum situation for me to come to work is by the Queen E with no traffic, but we all know that's not realistic. Some of the elements in the optimum situation are just not possible to reach. It's a wonderful idea. I love to shoot for the stars and hit the moon. That's not a bad situation either.

Mr Gerretsen, by way of his resolution, would ask us to set up more bureaucracy that really is going to point out what this government is already doing. I believe there are three things that should go on a list for the optimum situation where children or youth are concerned: good food, good education and caring parents -- or caring family, let's say it that way. This cannot be achieved unless the providers in that family have a job. All of the elements add up to: have a job. This government is doing more to promote that than any government in the past 15 years.

The intent of the resolution on the surface is great, but the realities are somewhat different. The resolution asks that this government form a progress-establishing committee to find out how far children have come, how far they need to be. I believe those situations are already in place, in my experience. He talks about his provision for the new amendment that lays out that caregivers will have to lay out the situation the child is living in, the community situation, the availability of services to this child. In my situation, that's done once a year already. Every time one of these caregivers is licensed, the exact situation that you have gone through is done. I know that from personal experience.

Children are a priority of this government. I thought I heard that children were not represented in this House. I would like to correct that. I've been involved in youth work for the past 30 years and I am certainly interested in youth and certainly interested in representing them in this House. I am particularly interested in those children that, for a variety of reasons, need specialized care. I've been involved with youth with specialized needs. They are called "hard to service." As a matter of fact, if they have nowhere else to go, if they've been refused by everybody else, they end up at the ranch.


One of the priorities for these children is to get them to relate to animals, and then they follow by relating to people. The biggest problem with the disfranchised or disoriented youth of today is a lack of ability to relate to people. That comes from a lack of respect for self. Respect for self is learned in the home. They can't learn respect from their family caregivers unless those caregivers have respect. Those caregivers cannot have respect for self unless they have a job. The whole thing comes back to provision of jobs. The caregivers must have respect for self. They must have meaningful employment. This government is working towards that.

Recently, in a quote to the Ottawa Citizen, Archbishop Marcel Gervais and Bishop François Thibodeau said, "To think that almost one Canadian child in five lives in poverty in one of the richest societies in the world is nothing less than a damning indictment of the present socioeconomic order."

I believe what they say is true. We must remember that the socioeconomic order we have today did not come overnight. It's been going on, growing, feeding on itself for the past 10 or 15 years. I put the 15 years in there because everybody doesn't do everything right, and everybody doesn't do everything wrong. The clock's right twice a day, even if it's not working.

I agree with some of the things the honourable member is trying to do. I don't believe he's going about it in the proper way. I think we can be much less bureaucratic and, as Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify."

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I'm pleased to rise in support of the resolution of my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands. I'm pleased that my colleague is putting children first in this Legislature. I'm pleased that my colleague is saying that he wants us, as a society, to care enough about our children that we're prepared to look honestly at how we're treating them and how they're doing. I believe that this examination of us, of our society, of our success or indeed of our failure in ensuring that we are providing the support for the healthy development of our children, is needed now more than it has ever been needed before.

The kind of report card indicators that my colleague is calling for have been called for for some time, and they've been called for because there have been real concerns about how well our children are doing in the past. I'm not going to take the time to go over all of the indicators of concern that we've seen before but just a couple: 1987 to 1993, when referrals to children's aid societies increased by over 250%; 1991 to 1994, when referrals to children's mental health programs increased by 90% and there were long waiting lists for treatment; in 1990 there were 270,000 children dependent on welfare; and in 1995 there were more than 500,000 children on social assistance.

None of those indicators would make any of us feel good about how we are providing support for our children. There are some areas in which we have absolutely no indicators at all, areas like the sexual abuse of children, where we keep no central statistics, maybe because we don't want to see the full reality, we don't want to take account of it all because it might force us into action.

My concern as we approach this resolution today is:

Where would children be found now on any of the indicators that we would want to look at to see if indeed we are supporting their healthy development? Where would the children be today who are on social assistance and whose families have had a 23% cut in the budget they need to provide food and clothing for those children?

Where would we rate ourselves on a scale of feeding our children properly when we see more and more families dependent on food banks to put food on the table for their children?

Where would we rate ourselves in our ability to provide decent housing, basic shelter, for our children, when so many families are in substandard housing or in motel rooms because there's no affordable housing being built any longer because government no longer sees that as part of its responsibility?

Where would we rank ourselves in nurturing children through early education when the so-called child care reforms are going to leave us with less quality as well as with less access to child care, or when 27 boards across this province have already cancelled junior kindergarten programs because of government cutbacks?

Where would we rate ourselves in our ability to meet children's special needs when we see education cuts forcing the cutbacks in special education support programs or indeed the elimination of many programs? Where would we rate ourselves in providing support for families caring for special needs children when the special services at home budget is stretched so far that no family can get even the basic level of support they need to cope, and cope well, with their children?

Where would we be in ensuring that our children are at least literate, as cuts to libraries are forcing families to face the possibility of fees to read? It won't hurt my grandson because I've already bought his books for Christmas. But what happens to the children of families who can't afford the library fee, let alone the books?

What happens to our ability even to protect our children as budgets of child protection agencies and children's mental health agencies and family counselling agencies are cut again and yet again?

I don't think we would fare very well on any of these measures today and I don't think our children are going to fare very well in the future if we don't stop hurting them today. The government says it is acting for our children's future. I say that they are not. They are hurting our children now, and the fact that they are hurting our children now will make their future absolutely impossible.

This resolution calls on the government to face this issue with some honesty, to at least seek some objective way of measuring and assessing what is happening and reporting it so that we can all understand what is happening to children. It doesn't force anything else, just an honest examination of how we treat our children.

I suspect it will not have the government's support. If they do, it will be out of some sense of shame or the politics of not being opposed to it. But I don't think the government will act on it because it doesn't want anything to interfere with its agenda. An honest examination of what we are doing to our children, of how our children are doing, might open the eyes of this government. They might be forced to act. That would get in the way of the agenda, and that is the real message, I suggest, from the member for Quinte. What my colleague is calling for probably will not happen, but it should.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): The honourable member for Kingston and The Islands is presenting a resolution that suggests that the government of Ontario should develop a formal process to monitor the services the government provides for children and youth. The member is specifically recommending a progress report that would provide specific categories that would identify environmental indicators and developmental benchmarks. According to the resolution, as it is stated, the rationale for such a report card would be to ensure that the Ontario government provides appropriate policies.

Certainly no one in this House could possibly be against helping the children and youth of our great province. I am personally very concerned about children and youth issues, as my wife and I have four children. However, agreeing to a resolution that only promotes more government bureaucracy I believe would not help children and youth at all. The opposite would be the case. In fact, the Ontario government, both now and historically is doing an excellent job of providing policies and programs that both directly and indirectly affect all of our children and youth and in providing accountability.

Children and youth are part of a family unit, whether traditional or non-traditional. Therefore, if the family unit is caught in a cycle of poverty new ways of dealing with that cycle need to be looked at.


When we talk about setting up environmental indicators or benchmarks for development with respect to health status, family structure, physical environment and civic vitality, we're talking about personal life choices by parents, choices that are not measurable by government policy.

There is an assumption in this resolution that Ontario is not doing enough for the children and youth of our great province. That simply is not the case. In financial terms, Ontario has the second-highest minimum wage in Canada, second only to BC. Our social assistance rates for families with children are higher than the average rates for the other nine provinces.

But without a doubt, simply giving more money to parents and agencies will not stop the cycle of poverty. If that were true, we would not have poverty at all. Moreover, the notion of simply recording the progress of Ontario's children and youth will not help them in the short term or long term either.

The best measure to improve economic security, health and development is to break that cycle of poverty. The best measure to protect the children and youth of this province is to make sure that their parents have jobs. The best measure to make sure that parents have jobs is to create a climate that encourages investment and economic growth, real jobs, not simply jobs financed out of government spending initiatives.

Implicit in the honourable member's resolution is that somehow we need new indicators to measure whether or not the government policies are translating into helping children and youth. The Ontario government already has accountability built into every level and it has historically had those assurances, the checks and balances that make sure our service agreements and transfer payment agencies are delivering services to our children and youth. However, it's worth repeating some of those checks and balances.

For example, there are the provincial audits. The primary responsibility of the Office of the Provincial Auditor is to audit all of the government's programs and activities. In fact, the Provincial Auditor concluded in the 1987 report, at the time the member's party was in government, that:

"In general, the path to improved accountability was seen to lie in the establishment of a committee (or committees) with stable membership who could develop expertise in financial issues...to take an in-depth look into government financial plans."

A new standing committee resulted from that recommendation, namely, finance and economic affairs. Moreover, the annual report put out by the Provincial Auditor is referred to the standing committee on public accounts under standing orders of the Legislative Assembly where certain sections receive in-depth examination. Therefore, another area of accountability is the standing committees. Once the Provincial Auditor refers his or her report to the committee on public accounts, further auditing is carried out on specific topics, such as the effectiveness of the programs in achieving their stated objectives. As such, an all-party committee can check out whether or not programs and services for Ontario's children and youth are reliable and appropriate.

There are also internal audits. There are some 40 directives currently enforced under the jurisdiction of Management Board. Those directives are also subject to audit and outline very specific administration of principles, requirements and responsibilities.

So, again, there are accountability mechanisms in place to monitor the success of programs for Ontario's children and youth.

Furthermore, there is transfer payment accountability. The directive for this form of checks and balances was issued in 1988, also when the Liberals were in government. That directive established principles to ensure that each ministry had an effective framework for transfer payment recipients to account for their management of public funds. Transfer agencies that enter into service agreements must report in a timely manner whether or not they achieve their program objectives and what type of corrective action, if any, is required. Agencies must also show proper authorization for all moneys spent. Therefore, this forum of accountability can also determine the success and viability of delivering services to our children and our youth.

Also, there is ministerial accountability. In this area, the government has started to issue business plans with clear objectives and expected outcomes.

Another point is that there is a major restructuring under way in the Ministry of Community and Social Services to ensure that social service agencies do not duplicate services to children, youth and others in need, and that there is a results-oriented approach to services provided, whether direct services or through our transfer agency agreements.

In closing, I want to say that this government is proud of its accomplishments. We're moving forward. We are providing a climate for investment and we're providing jobs. That is the best way to ensure that Ontario's children reach their potential.

Therefore, I will be voting against this resolution.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I rise in support of my colleague's resolution. I think of the words of Sir Winston Churchill when he said, "There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies." I think that's all the member is asking: He's asking for the nurturing and the protection of children. How can anyone not support that?

In my 30 years in education, I have seen the changes in children and youth, the changes in their attitudes, the changes in their expectations and the changes in their educational opportunities. But some things over these years have remained constant, and they are: the need for children to experience stability, the need for children to experience success, the need for children and youth to be affirmed and the need for children and youth to feel secure.

If the goal of the Common Sense Revolution was to create a demand for products and services, I'd be the first to stand here today as a former school principal and say, "Yes, Mike Harris and the Conservatives have created that demand for products and services." But unfortunately the demand which is being created is the result of cuts that will damage the fabric and human potential of our province, and very specifically, every community in our province. This human deficit is the education, the health and the safety of Ontario's children.

Within the last 16 months, we've all discussed the impact of budget cuts, job losses, transfers, restructuring and downsizing, privatization and, of course, tax cuts. Most of us instinctively think of our local economy and the provincial deficit, but at a second glance, these ideological and fiscal decisions have had a tremendous impact on hundreds and thousands of private citizens responsible for Ontario's most precious resource: its future, its children. Not only have parents and guardians been affected but hundreds of child and family service agencies and school boards responsible for such necessities as children's mental health services, children's health and safety intervention, early childhood education and child care services have been affected.

When you see this deterioration of our social safety net, one must ask: What effect is the government's ideology having on Ontario's children? To provide an answer to that, you have to look at some of the Common Sense Revolution decisions that have been made by this government. We only have to look at the cuts to social service agencies and in particular to children's aid societies, we only have to look at the new direction for the family support plan to realize that the agenda, although well focused for the bottom line, hurts people, hurts children in particular.

For any government member to believe these changes will help children in Ontario, I suggest they call a 1-800 number quickly for personal and immediate assistance.

Unfortunately the picture only bleakens when we take a look at the state of children's mental health care services and children's education programs. New Common Sense changes include the elimination of mental health residential services for children, as well as reduced treatment services for individual children, in exchange for an increase in group mental health care services. If we look at the government's interests in children's education, we quickly discover that investing in children's education doesn't make common sense to this government. Our Minister of Education has not only decided that junior kindergarten programs should be optional for school boards, but that these programs should no longer be funded by the province. Let me tell you, when a school board has the decision of accepting a program, an option that isn't funded, or it's supported by the Minister of Education and by the ministry, the options become painfully obvious.

Having served this community as a teacher, vice-principal and principal for all these years, I understand the importance of early childhood education programs and early childhood initiatives. I suggest they are not spending money, they are an investment in the future of our children. That's why my colleague's motion is so important today. That's why my colleague's motion has to be supported. I suggest to this government and to Mike Harris that he and they would do well to listen to the words of Jonathan Swift when he said, "Don't set your wit against a child," and support this resolution.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to discuss this resolution this morning, because I think it is very important for us to focus our attention on our children and youth and to look at what we are doing through government policy, through our community actions, through our individual actions, and how that is affecting children and youth.

I think any resolution that reminds us of the necessity for us to constantly be monitoring the effect on children and youth of the actions that we do is extremely important. I congratulate the member for Kingston and The Islands for bringing forward this resolution and giving us an opportunity to talk about the realities of our failure to measure, to test against the wellbeing of children and youth every public policy that we bring forward. I think that is an extraordinarily important principle.

The reality is that the mechanisms by which to accomplish a report card such as the member talks about were already developed under the previous government's Premier's Council. The subcommittee on children and youth developed a very strong process, whereby these measurements would be done not by government but by the community itself, by all those in the community involved with children. It's a very interesting document that I would encourage all my colleagues in this House to read, because what the subcommittee on children and youth did was to go out and talk to the affected communities, talk to the professionals, to parents, to children and youth themselves, to look at service delivery and to look at a way in which we could look at how our children and youth are actually doing.

Indeed, the language of indicators the member talks about was very much the language of indicators that was adopted by that committee. We knew that children go through a number of very crucial transition points in their lives and that how they manage to get through those transition points often is an indicator of how they will do at the next stage of their life.

I congratulate my colleague on using the developmental model for children, because that is what we need to do. We need to look at the development of all of their skills, their personality, their self-esteem, their ability to solve problems, their ability to take hold of themselves as active members of the community. The subcommittee of the Premier's Council on Health looked at those transition points as being various: First of all, the transition from pre-birth to the post-birth period; in other words, what do we do to make sure that children develop well when they are in their mother's womb, how do we ensure they get the nutrition they need, how do we ensure they are protected from adverse environmental effects at that stage, and then, how does the birthing process and the bonding process with the significant others in their lives actually happen in that very early period of time? That's one period we need to look at.

We need to look then at the next period, which is that preschool period in which children are rapidly learning and growing and forming the basis for decision-making later in their lives; then the transition to formal schooling and how children manage to adopt an attitude towards a broader world which takes them into a more formal and institutionalized approach. How do they cope with that approach, what are the supports that we need to give them, how can we help them to get through that transition period in the appropriate way?

The next stage is the stage into young adulthood, what we tend to talk about as the adolescent stage, that time of life when there are rapid physical changes, rapid changes in the breadth of the horizon for young people, rapid changes in their goals and the development of long-term goals. Then finally, of course, is the transition into the workplace, into being a productive citizen at all stages.

Those stages are different for children because their developmental levels are different and the ways in which they develop are different, depending very much on the environment they have. The subcommittee developed a report card that would look at health indicators, at educational indicators, at safety aspects, because we know that abuse of children is a very serious problem in our community. It gets identified again and again, and yet we seem unable to assimilate into our public policies ways that will really keep our children safe.

We need to look at their relationships. One of the things we heard from very young children, as well as young adults, older youth, was the importance of those relationships, the support of those relationships, the mentorship and the feeling of security that comes from having a significant other who is there in an unquestioning way to support you. That was one of the most important things they were looking at.

Cultural development is very important because we know we have a diverse community. Unless children are able to appreciate their own heritage and how that heritage equips them to be good citizens within our community, it is difficult for them to feel the depth of roots that children also talked about as being important to them: "`Who am I?' involves more than just me. It involves my community and that involves my cultural community as well."

The committee also believed that spiritual aspects were important. The committee very clearly said that the concept of self within the larger world, within the broader universe, the sense of whether or not children were going to feel extraordinarily alone or whether they would feel that they had supports often depended very much on their sense of belonging to some religious or spiritual kind of community. That was particularly true for some of the most disadvantaged children: native children, who very often grow up in communities where that connectedness to the great spirit is becoming again, with the revival of native spirituality, a very important aspect of their development.

That work was done and that report card was developed and there was a whole network of groups that were prepared to go into the community and to actually assist the community in doing this kind of information gathering on the health and wellbeing of our children and how they fit into our communities. It's a real tragedy that with cancelling the Premier's Council the work of that committee appears to have got lost. The momentum that was gained appears to be lost and I think that's a real tragedy.

I hear the government members talking about heavy bureaucracy and bureaucratic structures to get this reporting, and I agree with them that that kind of reporting usually is a self-reporting. All the agencies would report on how well they were doing rather than how the children were doing. I don't necessarily think that having this kind of report, which I support very much, is going to be best accomplished through agencies reporting to the government. I think it needs to be broader than that. The agencies are part of the picture, but the rest of the community needs to be involved as well.


So I would say to the member that if the reporting is to be reported in this place through a designated ministry, that's fine, but that doesn't mean that ministry needs to then take on the responsibility for absolutely every program or that there needs to be a bureaucratic reporting function outside of the financial reporting.

I think the resolution very clearly is open to that kind of a proposal, because the member says, "through a designated ministry" to report. What we had always planned was that once this report card that was being developed by the subcommittee on children and youth of the Premier's Council was developed, yes, of course there would be a report through to the Legislature so this became a part of the permanent record which we could be proud of in this community, and it would become a template against which we could measure further social policy changes and so on. But I would say to the member that doesn't necessarily have to imply the kind of bureaucratic structure that his bill that he is going to introduce would necessarily imply.

I also say to the member that the action plan idea is very good. The whole point of doing a community report card is to see where we need to do better, not to blame people for not doing well enough but to say: "Okay, as a community, we do not seem to be providing sufficient supports for the children of our community in this area or this area. What can we do to do that?" The whole purpose of the subcommittee on children and youth's report card was to galvanize communities to take responsibility for giving that kind of support to children, youth and their families, to on a very local level and a very clearly accountable level say, "We are responsible for all our children, and we are prepared, as a community, to be a more welcoming and a healthier place for our children."

While we are going to be supporting the member's resolution, I do not think we will support his bill, simply because under the Child and Family Services Act that kind of reporting he is talking about we do not think is going to accomplish what he wants.

We think, first of all, the Child and Family Services Act is specifically looking at child protection issues and child protection agencies. The whole issue of the indicators of health, safety and security for children is far broader. We need to be talking about all those who educate our children, all those who do recreational activities with our children, all those who are working in cultural and in spiritual areas, all those who work in direct and indirect health areas. We need to learn how to all become part of the team that is focused on supporting our children and youth to attain the kind of indicators that we now know, from the studies that have been done, are very important.

Yes, we need a report here. We need some way to measure how we're doing. We need some way to find out where we have deficits and how we need to fill those. We need to be very aware of every action that governments take that impinges directly on the health and wellbeing of children. I suggest to the government that this kind of report card needs to be done on the changes you have made to the health, wellbeing and social justice for children in this province.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I am pleased to fully support this resolution put forward by my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands. Especially when the government continues to employ cuts that affect children, this is all the more reason why it's important that we know how our children are faring. We need to know how they are doing on many fronts and all of the developmental stages, from the transition to life, from life to the work roles in the workplace to community and family life.

Some of the indicators that are important to look at, and we could choose from a variety of examples, would be: How many mothers are receiving good prenatal care? How many children are in licensed and regulated child care programs or have access to early childhood education programs? How many are ready to learn when they arrive in school? What social skills do they have? How many are growing up in poverty? How many become involved in violent incidents in schools or outside of schools or with youth crime? How many are abused and neglected? How many have disabilities? How many participate in their communities in recreational activities, cultural activities, sports activities?

I could go on and on. The interesting point is that generally this information is already available. The first choice of indicators does not have to be extensive. The joint vision of a report card by the Premier's Council and the Laidlaw Foundation would have had only eight or nine indicators. Standards for measuring statewide progress and institutional performance have been used in a number of states for some years now in the US. Perhaps the best known of these are the Oregon benchmarks. Oregon was the first Legislature to adopt measurable indicators to guide and monitor a state's progress. Benchmarks are indicators of the progress that Oregon has set to achieve in its strategic vision, and children and their progress are part of that.

In Canada there have been a number of initiatives that have attempted to establish a report card mechanism. Until the Ontario Premier's Council was axed a year ago, its children and youth committee was working in partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation's children-at-risk program to develop a report card on healthy children and the outcomes at the local and provincial level.

This was the implementation of their report, Yours, Mine and Ours, which is here. It was the only report of the Premier's Council to be released in the House and it's an excellent report. At the national level the Canadian Institute of Child Health, a non-profit organization, has published two profiles. The focus of their health profiles of Canada's children represents a shift away from illness to health in its broadest sense, a recognition that the determinants of health are broader than simply health services.

At the national level there is also a new initiative of the Canadian Council on Social Development, a new annual publication called The Progress of Canada's Children. The first year's findings will be released shortly. The goal of this publication is to develop measures that track the wellbeing of children and families in Canada. It discusses the influences of shaping the lives of children ranging from the economic security of families to the resources available to families.

At the provincial level, the private Laidlaw Foundation has a children-at-risk team that has been working for over five and a half years now. The focus of this project is to develop and test new perspectives and practices intended to contribute to the improved life prospects of Canada's children and youth.

All of this research is available to us. We need to pull it together. Surely now we can take it and roll it into a provincial model or piggyback it on other research indicators for ourselves to monitor our children.

I wish to thank my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands for putting together and putting forward this resolution. It's a very important one. It's a motion on behalf of children in this province. Children obviously are our future, not just demographically, but in every sense of the word. Good information helps good decision-making, and what decisions are more important than how our children are growing up?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Kingston and The Islands has two minutes to wrap up.

Mr Gerretsen: First of all, I'd like to thank my colleagues, the members for Fort William, Sudbury and Ottawa Centre, as well as the members for Nickel Belt, London Centre, Brant-Haldimand and St Catharines-Brock, for their input into this matter.

First of all, this was a non-partisan attempt to bring this issue forward. There were a couple of comments made, particularly by the member for St Catharines-Brock, to the effect that there was an assumption in this resolution that government is not doing enough. That is not so. The resolution is to determine whether or not government is not doing enough, but there are absolutely no assumptions built into it at all.

It's also interesting to note that if we're talking about value-for-money audits, according to the Coalition for Children, Families and Communities, they estimate that for every dollar that is spent on high-quality preventive children's services, it saves society $7.16 in remedial education, health, policing, court and custody costs.

The attempt here is to simply get a collective view as to how children are doing in our society at any one given time and whether the individual government programs that are out there, not on an individual basis but on a collective basis, are helping children in society. That's what this is all about. It is not so much about financial accountability but the accountability each of us in this Legislature owes to the children of this province. That's what it's all about. I would urge the members of this assembly to support the resolution.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal first with ballot item number 43. Is there any person opposed to a vote on this motion at this time?

Mrs Marland has moved second reading of Bill 85. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

There will be a five-minute bell after we deal with the other item.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal now with ballot item number 44. Is there any member opposed to taking a vote at this time?

Mr Gerretsen has moved private member's notice of motion number 28. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; there will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1203 to 1208.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Second reading of Bill 85: All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.


Arnott, Ted

Flaherty, Jim

Maves, Bart

Baird, John R.

Ford, Douglas B.

McLeod, Lyn

Barrett, Toby

Froese, Tom

Munro, Julia

Bartolucci, Rick

Galt, Doug

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Gerretsen, John

Patten, Richard

Beaubien, Marcel

Gilchrist, Steve

Phillips, Gerry

Bisson, Gilles

Grandmaître, Bernard

Preston, Peter

Boushy, Dave

Grimmett, Bill

Ramsay, David

Boyd, Marion

Guzzo, Garry J.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Bradley, James J.

Harnick, Charles

Ross, Lillian

Brown, Jim

Hastings, John

Runciman, Robert W.

Brown, Michael A.

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Carr, Gary

Johns, Helen

Shea, Derwyn

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Sheehan, Frank

Christopherson, David

Jordan, W. Leo

Silipo, Tony

Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Skarica, Toni

Churley, Marilyn

Klees, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Colle, Mike

Kormos, Peter

Stewart, R. Gary

Conway, Sean G.

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Tilson, David

Crozier, Bruce

Laughren, Floyd

Tsubouchi, David H.

Curling, Alvin

Leadston, Gary L.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Danford, Harry

Marland, Margaret

Wood, Bob

Doyle, Ed

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

Elliott, Brenda

Martin, Tony

Young, Terence H.

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 74; the nays are 0.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to standing order 94(k), the bill will be referred to --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): To the justice committee.

The Acting Speaker: It is agreed. The bill is referred to the standing committee on administration of justice.

There will be a 30-second delay until the next ballot.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Where did the cabinet members go? Why did the cabinet leave?

The Acting Speaker: There is nothing out of order.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 44, private member's notice of motion number 28: All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.


Arnott, Ted

Doyle, Ed

Martin, Tony

Baird, John R.

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Bartolucci, Rick

Ford, Douglas B.

McLeod, Lyn

Bassett, Isabel

Gerretsen, John

Munro, Julia

Beaubien, Marcel

Grandmaître, Bernard

Parker, John L.

Bisson, Gilles

Guzzo, Garry J.

Patten, Richard

Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Phillips, Gerry

Boyd, Marion

Johns, Helen

Preston, Peter

Bradley, James J.

Johnson, Ron

Ramsay, David

Brown, Michael A.

Jordan, W. Leo

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Carr, Gary

Klees, Frank

Ross, Lillian

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Shea, Derwyn

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Conway, Sean G.

Leadston, Gary L.

Wood, Len

Crozier, Bruce

Marland, Margaret

Young, Terence H.

Curling, Alvin

Martel, Shelley


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please stand and remain standing.


Barrett, Toby

Froese, Tom

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Galt, Doug

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Grimmett, Bill

Stewart, R. Gary

Elliott, Brenda

Hudak, Tim

Tilson, David

Flaherty, Jim

Maves, Bart

Wood, Bob

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 50, the nays are 18.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

It being 12:20, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1217 to 1330.



M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : Je voudrais inviter le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones à réfléchir en ces jours où une partie importante de la population s'apprête à montrer au gouvernement Harris qu'elle en a assez des réductions budgétaires sauvages.

Depuis l'arrivée des conservateurs au pouvoir, les francophones de l'Ontario subissent des réductions budgétaires qui ont des conséquences graves sur leur communauté.

Prenez le cas de la Cité collégiale, du Collège Boréal et du Collège des Grands Lacs, qui ont été créés très récemment. Ces collèges francophones sont en période de formation comme les collèges de langue anglaise d'il y a 25 ans. Ils apprennent à servir leur clientèle répartie sur un immense territoire. Ils ont la tâche très difficile d'offrir des programmes à jour à une clientèle minoritaire.

En plus, on leur fait subir des réductions importantes dans leurs budgets déjà très limités. La même chose s'applique à l'enseignement primaire et secondaire. Pour toutes sortes de raisons, les institutions d'enseignement en langue française en général n'ont jamais eu assez de ressources pour satisfaire à tous leurs besoins.

J'ai une question pour le ministre : vaut-il vraiment la peine d'imposer des reculs à la population francophone, comme vous le faites, uniquement pour donner une réduction d'impôts aux plus riches ?"


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I want to focus on problems with the family support plan caused directly by this Conservative government's decision to lay off staff and close regional offices.

Last Wednesday the Sudbury office closed for good. Ten boxes of unopened mail were transferred to Toronto to be dealt with by someone somewhere at some point. No doubt the boxes contained support payments needed by many women who are calling my office because their cheques are late. They used to receive their support payments on a regular basis until the government cuts in August. We know the delays will continue.

It appears that some local Sudbury employers have not been told that payor deductions should now be sent to Downsview for processing. Yesterday our office received a copy of a support deduction notice to a local employer which was dated October 7. It advised the employer to remit the payment to the Sudbury office on Cedar Street. The payment is due November 1. The Sudbury office was closed one week after this notice was sent to the local employer.

How many other local employers will forward payments to the closed Sudbury office, only to have these forwarded to Toronto to have the cheques sent back to families in Sudbury? How could such information have gone out to an employer one week before the Sudbury office shut down?

In September, 13 women had to apply for temporary assistance from social assistance in Sudbury because their support cheques had not arrived. These women used to receive their payments on a regular basis. They and thousands of other women and families in Ontario are now facing financial hardship directly because of the cuts made by this government.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre in order to recognize the exceptional achievement of one of my constituents.

Recently, Andrew McLeod of Scarborough was awarded the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship. This award recognizes exceptional acts of selflessness, generosity and kindness and outstanding contributions to community life. It is the highest recognition of good citizenship that can be bestowed upon an individual and allows for the designation "OMC" to be attached to the recipient's name.

This year 12 exceptional Ontarians were chosen from 120 nominations by an advisory council and were presented their medals by my honourable colleague the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

Andrew McLeod OMC has a long history of combating racism. He has worked with many Scarborough organizations to ensure that all people, particularly young people, have opportunities to participate fully in society. Andrew played an integral role in the decision to form Scarborough council's community and race relations committee.

As well, Andrew has served on the Scarborough Human Services Race Relations Committee, the Human Services Board, the Tropicana Community Services organization, the St Bartholomew social committee and the Scarborough Initiative Coalition.

On behalf of every resident of Scarborough, I wish to publicly thank Andrew for his dedicated and selfless efforts.

I'd also like to say hello to my friends from northern Ontario who are in the gallery today.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I rise today to say a few words about a city that my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Humber earlier this week seemed to take pleasure in not seeing on a list for being considered one of the finest cities in the world. Therefore I would like to tell him something about the fine city of Ottawa.

First of all Ottawa is thriving with high-tech industry. It's called Silicon Valley North; within the very small area of Ottawa-Carleton over $2.5 billion worth of software is sold around the world. It makes a tremendous contribution. In spite of the downsizing that took place in the Ottawa-Carleton area, Ottawa has one of the lowest unemployment rates and is one of the fastest-growing job creators in all of Ontario.

It is a dream for those who like to participate in skiing, and skating and sailing on the lakes and rivers that surround the city. Ottawa has fine museums and some great places in which to live. It is a beautiful city full of lovely parks and green spaces.

I would like the member to know that I am proud to be a Canadian; I am proud to be an Ontarian. I am proud of every part of Ontario and every city. I'm proud to live in Ottawa. I think it's a great city of the world.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Among the multitudes who will be attending Saturday's Days of Action protest against the Harris agenda will be many thousands of Metro residents who are angry that this Tory government is systematically dismantling Ontario's environmental regulatory framework and laying off thousands of staff whose job it is to protect our environment and our health.

Why might they be angry? Here's a partial list: The Premier weakened the Planning Act to allow urban sprawl, opened the door to widespread garbage incineration, weakened dozens of regulations pertaining to the pollution of our air and water, weakened the scope of the Environmental Bill of Rights, cut back citizen involvement and allowed intervenor funding to expire, eliminated energy efficiency programs, cut funding to the green communities program, eliminated funding for the blue box program, cut way back on forest management and started to open up the Niagara Escarpment to further mining and development, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The Premier continues to comfort himself with the notion that Ontarians don't care about the environment these days. But Ontarians know that when we talk about environmental protection, especially when we're talking about pollution of our air and water, we're essentially talking about our human health. That is not a special interest. That's a concern of every Ontarian and every member in this House.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I rise today to note the death of Frank Pickard, the visionary president and chief executive officer of Falconbridge, Canada's largest mining company. He died on September 25 at the age of only 63.

Frank Pickard was a miner's miner. His career with Falconbridge began in 1950, when he was only a high school student. After graduating from Queen's University he officially joined the company and worked his way up to the position of president and chief executive officer in 1991. His tenure at the top led to Falconbridge's return to public markets, its bid for Voisey's Bay and its mine developments at Raglan in Quebec and Collahuasi in Chile. These are but a few examples of the scope of Frank Pickard's vision for the company he loved.

In June this year Frank Pickard's contribution to Canadian mining was recognized by Laurentian University in Sudbury, which granted him an honorary doctorate in business. A scholarship fund is being established in his name to ensure that his legacy continues.

My memories of Frank are of a giant of a man with a warm, generous heart, boundless energy and an enormous love for and pride of his wife, Audrey, who is in the members' gallery today, and his daughters, Beverly and Barbara.

He will be greatly mourned by all of this country.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Today is the last day for our current student pages. Unlike other pages before, this group was part of some unique history. The election of our new Speaker will certainly be one of this group's lasting memories of their experiences here.

Unfortunately, because of the poor business practices of this government, this group will also be the first to not have their pictures taken individually with the new Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor or the riding members. The reason is simple. The photographer was terminated to save dollars. But when the government pursued outsourcing for this service, they found out it would cost 600% more. The common sense solution? Cancel the pictures. No longer will the pages have this lasting tangible memento of their experiences here at Queen's Park. Beat up again by a government that doesn't care about our children, our future leaders.

Congratulations to our Sudbury student ambassador and page, Stephen Kingerski, a student at St Francis separate school, and all the other pages for their fine dedication to service in the Legislature. Certainly some of the parents and grandparents are in the galleries today, and we want to thank them as well for setting such a fine example for these young leaders, these future leaders in our province.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise today to speak ever so briefly on the very important demonstration that's going on in this community over this last week and to really come to a head tomorrow and Saturday in Metro Toronto, and that's the Days of Action.

There's some question from members across the way and from some of the press out there as to the legitimacy of this kind of democratic expression of concern and frustration with a government that frankly is not listening, and I want to just speak about two things in respect to that.

One is the very destructive and radical agenda that we have watched imposed on the people of Ontario over the last year and some few months: the imposition of major cuts in welfare, which hurts those who are most vulnerable in our communities: Bill 7, the changing of the Labour Relations Act; Bill 26 and the way that bully bill was put through; the Fewer Politicians Act; and the process that was used to implement those very drastic changes to the way that we do business in Ontario. That's what this demonstration is about.

Who's coming? People from across Ontario, ordinary citizens, your neighbours, your family members, people who work in your communities who provide services and people from Sault Ste Marie -- four or five busloads, hundreds of people from Sault Ste Marie coming to Toronto to express their frustration with this government.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am honoured and deeply saddened to rise in the House to pay tribute to a great country and western singer.

Colleen Peterson, the 45-year-old international recording star, who was the winner of a Canadian Country Music Award and a Juno, who toured and recorded with Neil Sedaka, Gordon Lightfoot, Sylvia Tyson and Michelle Wright, recently passed away due to cancer.

Colleen Peterson was truly a remarkable person, both inside and outside of the music industry. She dedicated her talents to helping those within her community of Peterborough. Three years ago, she held a benefit concert to raise money for a $100,000 church renovation project.

In 1995, she donated her time to write and perform a song to help promote the United Way campaign. Colleen was also very active in the local humane and animal societies. Colleen displayed one of the most courageous and heroic outlooks on life. As Rev Addison noted while visiting her in the hospital, Colleen wanted very badly to live and never talked about dying of cancer but of living with cancer. Colleen Peterson was a remarkable and a very rare individual. Her love of life and true spirit of optimism should be an example to each of us.

On behalf of myself and all of my constituents in the Peterborough riding, I send my regrets and deepest condolences to the Peterson family.



Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I rise today to report back to the people of Ontario on this government's achievements in road safety. One year ago today, the Harris government introduced a package of short- and long-term measures to make Ontario's roads safer. Last year we set ourselves an ambitious agenda, but this government's road safety plan is a plan of action. Let me tell you about our many achievements to date.

Last year we promised to get tough on drinking drivers. We promised to create a law to automatically suspend the licences of drunk drivers. We have. We promised to continue to fund RIDE spot checks. We have.

We also said we would target specific driving problems and make traffic enforcement more effective. To do that, we said we would install video cameras in Highway Ranger cruisers -- we have; remove certain seatbelt exemptions -- we have; and make suspended drivers pay to have their licences returned -- we have.

Just as importantly, we said we would set up teams of OPP Highway Rangers to target aggressive drivers, especially during rush-hour in the greater Toronto area. We have. In the last 14 months, the Ontario Provincial Police Highway Rangers have pulled over 70,000 vehicles. They have laid 50,000 charges, including 100 for impaired driving during the daytime, 750 speeding charges where the driver was going more than 50 kilometres over the speed limit, and 300 charges of driving without insurance.

To improve safety in the trucking industry, we said we would increase fines for truck safety violations -- we have; enforce axle weights for gravel trucks -- we have; and make training mandatory for truck wheel installers and commercial drivers who adjust their own air brakes -- we have. In the past year, we also hired 35 more enforcement officers and added a mobile inspection station to round out our truck enforcement, plus we introduced electronic truck monitoring to allow safe carriers to bypass inspection stations.

We are not stopping here. During this session and next, we will complete the next stage of our plan. The Harris government is preparing legislation to further target unsafe truckers as well as drinking and aggressive drivers. We have created alternatives to annual testing for drivers over the age of 80. We are evaluating options to treat repeat impaired drivers for alcohol abuse.

In the area of truck safety, we are preparing legislation to create a carrier safety rating system, assessing recommendations for a conduct review system for truck drivers, creating more effective sanctions to get unsafe carriers off the road sooner, and reforming the commercial driver licensing system and creating a form of graduated licensing for truck drivers.

I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the success of graduated licensing for beginning drivers, a program implemented by the previous government with the support of all three parties. Its success is one reason we intend to have a similar program for truck drivers.

Road safety is a complex issue with no ready-made solutions. We know there is still much work to do. We need to ensure all drivers are properly trained. We need to increase traffic enforcement to stop dangerous and aggressive drivers. We need to crack down on unsafe trucks before they're involved in a collision. And we need to get drinking drivers off our roads. Our main challenge in the long term will be to anticipate road safety problems and be prepared to respond to them.

During the past year, many groups have rallied around us to help improve road safety. This is an encouraging sign. To truly have an impact, we need the support of all Ontarians.


Ontario's plans for action on road safety are not a one-time effort, nor are they restricted to the Ministry of Transportation. They are a comprehensive set of measures that involves many ministries. Our combined measures will help change attitudes and put an end to the deaths, injuries and destruction on our roads.

We've made a lot of progress in the past year; however, we still have a long way to go. We will not rest. We will continue to make sure Ontario's roads are as safe as possible.


Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I would like to inform the House about the results of the first independent survey commissioned by an Ontario government to find out why people are leaving the welfare system. I am encouraged to report that the majority of those surveyed left the welfare system for the workforce.

We commissioned this survey because existing ministry data indicated general trends but did not provide specific reasons for people leaving the welfare system. More than 180,000 people have stopped relying on welfare between June of last year and September of this year. It is important for us to know the reasons behind those numbers if we are to use this information to help guide future programs.

The survey was conducted by the Levy-Coughlin Partnership in August of this year. This company surveyed over 2,100 former welfare recipients from across Ontario who agreed to participate voluntarily. The sample is made up of people who left the social assistance system in May 1996. Almost 62% of respondents gave employment-related reasons for leaving social assistance. The survey's highlights indicate that more than 46% of those surveyed had found a full-time job, nearly 10% had found a part-time job and over 6% left welfare for a variety of other employment-related reasons.

We will be using the results of this report to make improvements to our ministry's existing data collection system. We also realize that we have only started to create a climate in Ontario that enables people to leave the welfare system for the workforce.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: They must be having difficulty with positive news.

We recognize that more has to be done to help even more people get back to work. We are committed to providing recipients with the supports and incentives they need to get back into the workforce. That's why we are carefully phasing in a work-for-welfare program that includes employment supports and community service to help people break their dependency on welfare.

I'd also like to report, because I'm sure the honourable members across the way may have missed the fact, that workfare is well on its way in Peel, Algoma, Kent county, Muskoka, Nipissing, Brockville, North Bay, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Timiskaming, London, Barrie, Prescott and Russell, and Grey-Owen Sound, communities that are participating and want to participate in helping to get people off the welfare system.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This proves that you can't solve the safety problem on our highways by public relations and by press conferences. This morning we had another flying truck tire hit a driver on the 401 at Keele. If this minister really wanted to do something about unsafe trucks, he would do two simple things. These are two things he won't do, and I don't know why he won't do them.

He should have automatic suspensions on the roadside for unsafe trucks. He won't do that. The second thing he won't do, and I don't know why, is that he shouldn't allow companies that have over 500 violations of unsafe trucks still to operate on the roads of Ontario while they're under suspension. If they're under suspension, they should be off the roads.

The third thing you should do is that these unsafe truck companies that have 500 violations, that have unsafe truck records, shouldn't be given government contracts. If this minister was serious, what he would also do is look at things like red-light cameras at dangerous high-collision intersections where people are running red lights daily. He refuses to look at that safety device.

If you are really trying to tell the people of Ontario you are serious, do those three things, because all the public relations in the world, all the whiz kids who are spinning these things, all the photo ops, will not make our highways safe. If you ask the people of Ontario, they know that nobody's obeying the speed limit. The only thing that keeps the cars at the speed limit are the traffic jams, the traffic congestion and the flying wheels. People are afraid to drive on our highways. All you do is have press conferences and photo ops.

Do those two things at least: Have automatic suspension for unsafe trucks on the highways, and stop this Russian roulette with people under appeal getting government contracts and being on the roads while they're under appeal with 500 violations. Do that.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): In response to the Minister of Community and Social Services, I am absolutely amazed at this $80,000 public relations effort by this government. It is shameless. This effort is masked by a flawed survey, a survey that spoke to 2,000 out of 180,000 recipients, a survey that, when they called, found 2,781 out of 12,000 phones disconnected. Where did those people go?

The reality is that you did this to continue the game you're playing with the people of Ontario. People who are in shelters were not phoned. People who are homeless don't have phones to respond to your survey. People who are living on the streets as a result of your decisions do not have phones to respond. This is a phoney survey. This survey shows absolutely nothing. This survey simply shows that people who are working have telephones.

Let me give you a reality check: Food bank use in the GTA has gone up by 71% in the last year, after it had dropped by 45% in the previous two years. By your own numbers, there are 57,000 more Ontarians out of work today than a year ago. This smoke and mirrors campaign is not going to fool the people of Ontario. People who have left the welfare rolls as a result of your draconian Third World welfare policy are ending up on the street, ending up in food banks, ending up in shelters across this province. Anything you do through your phoney survey is not going to solve this problem.

This is typical of your bumper sticker solution and approach to solving every government problem you deal with. You spent $80,000 of taxpayers' money to tell us that of 2,000 people on welfare who have phones, 1,000 of them are working. That's great. What about the other 178,000 who are off the system? Where did they go? I would ask this government to get on with real reform. Stop playing these public relations games. Remember that your cuts are hurting people and they're hurting children. Let me finish by reminding you that 41% of food bank use in this province is by children. Please think about that and bring some real welfare reform and stop playing this public relations game.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Only a Minister of Transportation from a Conservative government would have the nerve to stand up in this House today and to try to say that all is well on the highways of Ontario when it comes to truck safety. The wheels are literally falling off the trucks as they run down Highway 401 and every other highway across Ontario. The minister doesn't exactly have a spotless record when it comes to the question of highway safety. People are being killed on our highways, people are actually being killed in their homes, and we still have people driving on highways who have had their licences under suspension from the Ministry of Transportation -- all at a time when, over the last year, the funding to the Ministry of Transportation has been cut by taking away hardworking people who were charged to make sure that the initiatives of the government when it came to highway safety were put in place. What did the government do? They fired them. There's nobody out on the highways to watch.


We look at highway maintenance when it comes to the winter months of this great province. It is the Minister of Transportation who cut the funding to highway maintenance in the winter in northern Ontario, and as a result literally thousands of people ended up in the ditch, stranded last winter on the highways of northern Ontario based on your cuts to your ministry. You're not exactly spot on on that.

On the question of drinking and driving, this is interesting because the stats prove that the number of people who are drinking and driving has actually increased in the province of Ontario, all at a time when what did the government do? They cut the funding to the RIDE program. They cut the funding to municipalities where dollars go to the police forces to make sure that the policies of the government are followed.

This is not exactly a great day for the Minister of Transportation to be standing in this House and trying to tell us all is well in the province of Ontario, because it is not. Things are going in the opposite direction, all because of your policies, and we're not better off.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I watched the minister outside the House earlier today in a scrum as her handlers were trying to drag her away from the press, recognizing that she has so little to say about what the Tories have done to the poor and to women and their children in this province. This is something the member for Etobicoke West might have referred to as a no-brainer.

What this minister doesn't tell us is about the 40% of the respondents who were forced off welfare for whom there were no jobs. She doesn't tell us about the 11% of respondents, women and their children, who were forced back into hostile and abusive and dangerous homes with their former spouses. What this minister doesn't tell us is about the nature of these so-called jobs that people were forced off welfare to assume. She wasn't able to tell us about their permits and about their rate of pay, and whether those jobs were there a month and two and three months later. She wasn't able to tell us, notwithstanding the number of people who were forced off the welfare rolls, how many came on to the welfare rolls.

What's interesting here is what isn't being said. We're talking about 80 grand of the public funds being spent on a no-brainer by a minister who is as smug and as arrogant and as aloof and removed from the realities of the people her ministry is designed to serve as any has ever been. If she wants to, if she cares that much, she had better get off her butt, get out of her damned limo and go talk --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I appreciate that the member for Welland-Thorold is worked up with his response, but I ask him to withdraw "get off her butt." That is not parliamentary.

Mr Kormos: I withdraw "get off her butt." She should stop sitting on her brains and get out of her limo and respond --

The Speaker: No. I ask you to withdraw that, please.

Mr Kormos: Withdrawn. But I tell this minister here and now, if you want to look and speak to poor people in this province, people whose lives are being devastated by this government's policies, walk a few yards to north Queen's Park and speak to the people in Harrisville, the tent city. She wants to get out of her limousine and start looking at the people whose lives are devastated as they approach Christmas: single mothers with no income and with even less to support themselves and their children and with no jobs to look forward to.

This government speaks of workfare -- workfare that simply isn't going to work, workfare that isn't happening anywhere in the province of Ontario, workfare that's being rejected by community after community, by volunteer agency after volunteer agency. This government's engaged today in an $80,000 attack on the very poorest, the most vulnerable and the weakest. She ain't fooling them. She's not fooling us. She should be ashamed of herself. By God, she should resign.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Grand Chief Charles Fox of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation. Welcome.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): As was alluded to earlier, this is the last day for the pages for this session. We know they've done a very good job. I've been very appreciative of the help they've given me in trying to understand the job I've just gotten. I would take this time to thank you for your good work. I welcome you back here again, should you want to come, and ask that everyone in the House, as normally, give them a round of applause.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. It concerns the enormous gap between what your Minister of Health tells this Legislature and what is really going on in hospitals where patients are being hurt by your budget cuts. Yesterday we told you about the firings at Peterborough Civic Hospital and St Joseph's Health Centre, where 97 staff, including 46 nurses, received their layoff notices. We read a media release that said patients would be hurt by your $6-million cut to their hospitals. Your minister said, "I can absolutely guarantee you that the press release you have says neither that quality will suffer nor that services are going to diminish and patient care will suffer." Is this still your government's position? I have in my hands the media release from the two hospitals, which says very clearly that your cuts "will also result in fewer admissions, shorter lengths of stay and noticeable differences in the care which is available."

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I am not surprised that the letter you have says there will be fewer admissions. The whole goal in hospital restructuring and medical advances that have been made is that there would be less time in hospital and more in the community. As has been pointed out to you on many occasions, we have made announcement after announcement where there are more opportunities, more jobs for nurses in community, in care, in a number of the reinvestments that we have announced. We have made some 4,000 new jobs, as you know, in the major shift to community-based care that was announced earlier this year by the Minister of Health.

Will there be changes? Yes. Will changes be easy? No, it's never easy when you're established along a certain pattern or a way to make changes.

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

Hon Mr Harris: But are they necessary? Every hospital administrator, every board, every doctor, every nurse, has told us that the status quo we inherited was a disgrace and had to be changed if we're going to have a world-class health --

The Speaker: The question has been answered.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I hate to disagree with you, but the question wasn't answered, because the Premier totally missed the point. The press release says there will be less patient care. You and your minister are living in some kind of a fantasy world where you can cut the hospital budget, you can see nurses laid off and yet you don't think anybody's going to get hurt. It was the same story last week. The new chief executive officer at the merged Hamilton Civic and Chedoke-McMaster hospitals said very clearly that your cuts would lead to 2,000 firings, or one in four employees. Your minister stood in this House and in his rather glib way said, "I don't know on what basis that comment was founded." I bet he regrets making that comment. Mr Rowand does not regret his comments; he stands by them. When the CEO of the merged hospitals, a man who is an experienced administrator and a health care expert, says that it is not the merger but your funding cuts that are going to kill 2,000 jobs, whom do you believe? Mr Rowand or your minister?

Hon Mr Harris: I believe that Mr Rowand and the Minister of Health are two very talented people. They're both committed and both intent on providing better services in the future, world-class health care services to the people of Ontario. Clearly we not only have honoured our commitment to cut not one cent from health care but have increased health care funding by $300 million so far since taking office. If we are able to continue along this track, then --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Thousands of nurses are losing their jobs and Mikey stands here and says, "Not a cent less." Not real. The Premier has no credibility and he should get the hell out, Mr Speaker. He should resign.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, that's not parliamentary language, nor is it parliamentary sentiment. Please withdraw.


The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, you either can just apologize and withdraw or not.

Mr Pouliot: I withdraw.

Hon Mr Harris: So that as we honour our commitment, not only not to cut one cent from the health care envelope, but to increase the funding to it, clearly there are new technologies, new techniques, new equipment that need to be there to meet the health care services in the future.


It has not been made easier by the fact that we had 10 years and two governments that refused to make any of those decisions; just put it off for another day. Another day has arrived, we're making the decisions and, by and large, there's overwhelming support in the hospital community for what it is we're doing.

Mrs McLeod: The bottom line is that neither the Premier nor the Minister of Health want to know what's happening. They don't want to know what impact their cuts are having. The Premier doesn't want to remember that it was not his plan to close hospitals. Clearly their attitude is that people don't matter; it is only money that matters for this government. So I'm going to put the question, the concern about hospital closures, into a money context.

The director of the Hamilton-Wentworth economic development committee has said that your hospital cuts and your 2,000 firings are going to cost his region $6 million, and the ripple effect on businesses will cost a further $3 million -- a total of $9 million. Premier, how much evidence does it take? How many fired nurses, how many destroyed businesses does it take, whether it is in Hamilton or Peterborough or Sudbury or Thunder Bay or Kitchener or Wiarton or Toronto, before you will admit what everyone knows, that your $1.3-billion cut to hospital budgets is hurting patients and killing local economies?

Hon Mr Harris: If I follow the logic, our 300 million brand-new dollars in health care would have created lots of jobs. Let's be thankful for that too.

Mrs McLeod: We continue to despair.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I'll place my second question to the Attorney General. Minister, for literally weeks now, members of the opposition have been raising concerns about the sheer chaos in the family support plan, the chaos that you created by closing regional offices before you had any new service in place, the chaos that is going to continue because your solution is the wrong one. A 1-800 number will not work. You say you're making things better every time we raise the question, but the fact is, you've made things worse, things are still getting worse and they are not going to get better if you persist in this misguided plan.

On September 13, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record called on your government to do whatever it takes to get support payments to children and their parents. They stated, and I quote, "The dead-beats here are provincial politicians and bureaucrats who bungled an overhaul of the family support plan."

Minister, the Record knows and we all know that your cost cutting, your staff cutting, your penny-pinching are hurting vulnerable people, and it's kids who are being hurt most. Will you stop now pretending that everything is fine and will you get serious about fixing the sheer mess you've made?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I want to tell the Leader of the Opposition that I'm very serious about fixing the mess that has existed in the family support plan for the last 10 years. The fact is, we have had in the family support plan arrears that have climbed to $900 million; $900 million that no one, until this government, was prepared to do anything about.

We have had a problem at the family support plan that perpetually has prevented people from getting in touch with the plan, that has prevented people from getting answers to their problems. We are reorganizing the plan to answer those criticism and to provide the plan for the first time ever with enforcement techniques to get money to women and children.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, it's a disaster. It's an unmitigated disaster. You probably can't fix it unless you stop and turn the whole thing around. In fact, one of your spokespersons called on people who are caught up in this nightmare to be patient. If I can continue to quote the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, as they put it, "Those words could have been spoken as the Titanic sank, with as little positive result."

Minister, it is serious, because this time it's not a ship that's sinking, it is families and it is their children. These are families who can't pay their rent, these are families who cannot feed their children. Those are the parents we're hearing from in our constituency offices. We're hearing from parents who aren't getting their cheques; they can't pay for their groceries. We're hearing also, ironically, from the parents who are paying their support, and they are frustrated and angry because the money isn't getting to their kids.

I've brought just a few samples into the House today, Minister. I'm not going to attempt to give them to you individually. This is from my constituency office. It's a backlog of 30 cases as of today, backlogged for the last two months. Here's a small sample of the cases that have come into the constituency office in Windsor-Sandwich. There are 34 outstanding cases as of today, again outstanding for two months.

Every single member's office is seeing the same thing. It goes on every day. It gets worse every day. Will you not finally acknowledge it is a mess and do something real for people to fix it?

Hon Mr Harnick: The family support plan has been a mess for 10 years. I have received numbers of requests from people in this legislative chamber about people who hadn't received their cheques. I have reviewed all of those and we have endeavoured to get answers as quickly as we can. The remarkable thing is that most of those requests, the vast majority, are things that have been occurring within the family support plan on a perpetual basis. The reorganization we are doing is to deal directly with the problems that the Leader of the Opposition has brought to my attention. This reorganization is long overdue and we are determined that in this reorganization we are going to correct the longstanding problems that have existed in the family support plan for the last 10 years.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, how many cases do we have to bring you before you snap out of this Never-never Land? The facts are so simple to anybody but you. You shut down the regional offices, you put in place a 1-800 number and nobody is there to answer the telephone. People can't get answers. MPPs' offices are phoning over and over again. They're faxing over and over again. They get no response at all. I must confess, I had a constituent who finally, after weeks, did get a return call from the 1-800 number. She got a live person and the live person gave her completely different information than she was given by the computer weeks before, so she's in total confusion and the bottom line is she still doesn't have any money. We've got a case here of a parent who has been paying his support, whose wages are still being deducted, 50% of his cheque every paycheque, but he is not in arrears and he keeps losing 50% of his paycheque. It is a disaster, Minister. Closing the regional offices was a disaster. The 1-800 number is a disaster. Will you at least put enough staff and enough resources in to answer the phone today and then will you change this disastrous plan?

Hon Mr Harnick: We are in the course of changing what has been a disastrous plan for the last 10 years. We are determined to see this through and to make this plan right for the first time, to give this plan the tools to collect money, to give this plan the opportunity and the tools to answer the questions that clients of the plan have not been able to have answered ever. This is not something new and this is taking a major effort in terms of the staff of the plan to reconstitute the plan, to make it work and we are determined to get it done and we will get it done.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): No one has destroyed the family support plan like this Attorney General.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is to the Premier. Premier, over the next two days Ontario will see the extent to which you have polarized this province. People will see how much you have taken from health care, from education, from seniors and from children in order to finance your phoney tax scheme for your wealthy friends. People are going to express their frustration that your government only seems to listen to the wealthy and the powerful. Premier, it's a very simple question. Do you understand now that it's your government's cuts to health care, to education, to children, to seniors and your phoney tax break for your wealthy friends that is pushing people out in the street to protest against your government? Do you understand that now?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Inherent in the question, who we listen to -- and I want to say the tax cut is very real. It is 30%. For lower-income people it is more than 30%, but it averages 30%. It's a little less for some in the higher incomes, but for low-income people it is in excess of 30%. Contrary to what the member says, it's not phoney. It's very real and it is having an effect and it's part of why close to 100,000 new jobs have been created in the province of Ontario.

The member also I think in his question alluded to, who do we listen to? I'll tell you who we listen to. We listen to the member for Lake Nipigon, who said: "When you're in debt, the first thing you do is you look at yourself and you reduce spending. The government deserves some applause; let's be fair. They've shown courage. They've adhered to a good deal of their platform."

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

Hon Mr Harris: So we listened to the member for Lake Nipigon, sitting behind you.


Mr Hampton: I notice that the Premier did not go into the rest of the quote, because the rest of the quote shows that it is in fact the presidents of the Bank of Commerce, the Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia who are each going to get a $162,000 tax break from your government while health care is being cut, while child care is being cut, while education is being cut, while seniors are paying new user fees. Remember that term, Premier? User fees, new taxes on seniors. That's the reality of what's going on here.

I say to you again, Premier, do you understand that the reason people are being pushed into the street to protest your government is because they're opposed to cuts to health care, they're opposed to cuts to education, they're opposed to cuts to seniors and to children and they're opposed to you giving your wealthy bank presidents a $162,000-a-year tax break at the expense of all those people. Do you understand that now?

Hon Mr Harris: The member clearly misspoke himself when he said we are cutting health care when he knows and everybody in this House knows we have actually increased health, not cut one cent. In fact, we've increased health care spending by $300 million. So off the top, let me correct the record and put the $300 million of brand-new health care spending on the record.

This is the kind of health care spending that has led to new breast screenings to quadruple the program over the next four years, the kind of increased health care spending that has led to substantial new jobs for nurses in community care all across the province, the kind of spending that has led to new MRIs in hospital after hospital after hospital across the province. So I know that the member would want to see the record corrected there.

I want to say that I have listened to a lot of people. Those in this province who are earning less than $14,900 a year are getting a 41% tax cut so I assume they're celebrating that.

Mr Hampton: The Premier changes the accounting method from a cash accounting method to an accrual accounting method and then says to people, "See, we're spending more on health care." Premier, you're fooling no one. When thousands of nurses out there are being laid off, when hospitals are being closed, when seniors are paying $200 and $300 a year for their prescription medicine, when people are being forced out on the street because they can't pay their rent, you're fooling no one.

I want to read a list of some of the people who are going to be out there over the next two days: the Union of Injured Workers, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Toronto Coalition Against Racism, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, the Social Planning Council, the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice, the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, the Co-Operative Housing Federation of Toronto, the Elizabeth Fry Society, Low Income Families Together, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations --

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Hampton: -- the Scarborough Coalition for Social Justice, the Jamaican Canadian Association, the Salvation Army. They're all going to be out there in the street registering their protest against you. Yes, your wealthy friends will be holed up in hotel rooms and attending your convention.

Do you understand how much you are polarizing society? Do you understand how much you're taking from ordinary people in order to redistribute income to the wealthy --

The Speaker: The question's been asked.

Hon Mr Harris: I'm quite surprised that the leader of the third party would want to remind all Ontarians of the two sets of books that your party, your Minister of Finance and your government had, and to criticize us for doing exactly what the auditor asked us to do. We just received plaudits from the auditor for moving to accrual accounting, to having one set of books. With that one set of books everybody can clearly -- and every auditor and every financial person who can read books has acknowledged health care funding is $300 million more than the $17.4 billion.

I assure all those who are inside this Legislature, who will be making any kind of statement of concern tomorrow or Saturday, that this will be a far kinder, gentler and better Ontario for them and their children than was left by the abysmal record of the New Democratic Party.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Finance in his capacity as chair of the cabinet committee on privatization.

I met this morning -- he is in the gallery this afternoon -- Mr Neil Fishpool, who is chair of the National Campaign Water Justice, which is a British consumer group founded in 1992 in response to Great Britain's rather disastrous experiment with water privatization there. He's here to talk to us about what happened in Great Britain when they privatized their water supply.

The Minister of Environment and Energy's declaration last week that he's keen to sell off the Ontario Clean Water Agency has a great number of people in this province very nervous about your intentions. We know that in Great Britain privatization did not bring down prices. As a matter of fact, prices increased by 25% above the rate of inflation the first five years after privatization. Why in the world would you even consider this reckless policy?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I say to the member for Nickel Belt that we do not have any preconceived notions about privatizations on this side of the House.

There may be many candidates for privatization that this government looks at over the next few months, but I can assure him that the only reason we will privatize anything is because it will provide better service to the people of Ontario at a more efficient cost. That is the only basis upon which any type of privatization makes sense.

I understand what he says about some other governments. I'm not going to comment on what they did, but that's how we plan on proceeding.

Mr Laughren: The minister's comments sound very discouragingly like what was said to the people in Great Britain before they privatized their service. We take very little comfort in that. At the municipal level we've had one example, in Hamilton-Wentworth, of Philip Environmental, who spilled 40 million gallons of sewage into the harbour.

I appreciate the fact that you have made no final determination. I believe you and take you at your word in that regard. As you are even thinking about it, and even that is beyond belief, I remind you that in Great Britain profits increased by 70% in the five years I mentioned while operating costs went up only 9% and executive salaries went right through the roof. As a matter of fact, and this should give you some cause for concern, in Yorkshire the staff were told not to wear their uniforms because of the fear of attack by irate consumers.

Why are you even considering this and why is it on any burner, front or back?

Hon Mr Eves: We are approaching this, as I've said to him on a couple of occasions, with an open mind. We are going to look at many candidates for privatization, but we hope to learn from the mistakes of other jurisdictions, and I think he rightly points out some problems other jurisdictions have had with respect to particular privatization initiatives.

We are not doing it for ideological reasons, as has been done in some other jurisdictions. We are doing it because it makes sense and provides better service at a more efficient rate to the people of Ontario.

Mr Laughren: Given that response from the minister, may I assume that before you take one further step down that crazy road, you will hold public hearings before any decision is made so that the people of this province can be told about the problems associated with the privatization of water in other jurisdictions? Will you at least make that commitment? I can tell you, your Minister of Environment and Energy is causing a lot of concern out there with his rather clear declaration that there is going to be privatization of the Ontario Clean Water Agency and the fact that you've appointed a minister for privatization. Will you make that commitment, that you will hold public hearings before any steps are taken down that road of privatization?


Hon Mr Eves: To the honourable member, depending on what candidate is or is not accepted or rejected for even looking at privatization, there may well indeed be in certain cases a need to consult, obviously, with the people of the province of Ontario before we actually take the step of privatizing a particular initiative. But being a former member of the executive council, he knows full well that cabinet committees and cabinet don't usually hold public hearings before they decide particular issues that are being decided in that committee or in that cabinet deliberation. His government didn't do it, their government didn't do it, and that isn't the way our government operates.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a question for the Attorney General. Following your smug response to my leader on the family support plan, let me point out to you an example of one of my constituents, Mr Tom McGurk.

Mr McGurk works 12 hours a day in a factory in Burlington. Last October, Mr McGurk and his wife separated. They reached an agreement where $500 a month was deducted from Mr McGurk's paycheque and directly sent into the account. That worked well.

On August 2, Mr McGurk's wife passed away. He gained custody of the child. Mr McGurk attempted numerous times to contact your ministry to inform them of this. He contacted my office. We faxed your ministry the death certificate, the will that had been left. For the past three months, Mr McGurk has had $500 a month deducted out of his pay and it has gone to an account in his ex-wife's name, an account that has been closed for three months.

To add insult to injury, Mr McGurk as well --

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

Mr Agostino: -- has just received a notice telling him he's in arrears. Can you explain to me how this incompetent, inept mismanagement of a case can occur in your ministry?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The member refers to an article that was in the Hamilton Spectator today. I note that the writer of that article wrote that complaints about the phone system are chronic. I think she went on to say that in her 10 years of writing columns on the social beat, she's never had more complaints about anything than the family support plan, and that family support plan complaints over those 10 year have been legion.

I apologize to this particular individual, but these kinds of problems and the problem that is being written about today and the problem that this writer has been writing about over the course of 10 years are nothing new with the family support plan. That is precisely why we are reorganizing the plan, so that this recurring problem can stop taking place and we can solve the problem once and for all by setting up a modern operation with proper technology to deal with our clients.

Mr Agostino: I'm absolutely amazed at the smugness and the arrogance of this minister. I was not asking you about the last 10 years. Can you not be compassionate enough and understanding enough to deal with the specific case of my constituent who is hurting?

This has occurred as a result of the changes your ministry has brought into place. Everything was fine before. You sitting here and telling him it has been 10 years of the problem does not help Mr McGurk. This is a total screw-up that has occurred here. Let me tell you, we became involved. We faxed your office the background material; we faxed your office the information. There have been 70 requests into my constituency office over the last couple of months; 56 have not been responded to. Fifty-six out of 70 is not a very good track record; it doesn't matter where you look at it.

Minister, I ask you again, can you tell me specifically what you are going to do to help my constituent and the other individuals who have come into our office with this problem? Please do not give me a political answer; give me specifics on how you're going to deal with this total mismanagement and incompetent dealing of my constituent's case.

Hon Mr Harnick: I think it would be quite improper to deal with any specific case in the Legislature of Ontario and on the floor of the Legislature. But certainly I have indicated to members that if there are problems, we will deal with them. That is what we have been doing. There are presently 210 outstanding problems among members of the Legislature. That's less than two per constituency. So we are dealing with those. We are trying to respond to the problems that individuals continue to have with the family support plan, as they've had for many, many years.

I remind the member that under the Liberal government, 70% of payors never even paid the family support plan. That's not good enough for us.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy and is about his government's plans to sell off our water. Mr Fishpool from Britain and Sarah Miller from the Canadian Environmental Law Association are in the gallery today. They say a selloff of our water would be bad not just for consumers but for the environment. In the six years since privatization, there have been over 250 prosecutions of British water companies for pollution violations, and many serious health problems.

Minister, you are planning privatization at the same time as you are gutting your ministry. How can you police this industry that has run rampant over Britain's environment at the same time you cut your ministry by over a third and are gutting environmental standards?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): The member well knows that municipalities themselves are primarily responsible for their water quality and for sewage treatment in this province. They are charged in legislation to take samples to ensure that the citizens of their particular communities have proper drinking water and have proper sewage facilities. My ministry oversees that that is taking place.

Whether or not an operator is a municipal employee, an OCWA employee or someone else doesn't take away from the standards we set nor the monitoring that we do in these plants. So your question is really irrelevant with respect to the quality of water and the system we have in the province of Ontario to ensure that the citizens of Ontario have clean water and proper sewage systems.

Ms Churley: That was not an answer to my question, but let me say to you that you have cut off the municipal assistance program. The municipalities already can't do the job, and it's going to get worse. Our whole system is in a mess.

At the same time, York region has awarded a 35-year, $500-million water contract to Northwest Water, one of Britain's robber barons of water -- bad reputation, Minister. They're looking at pumping large amounts of water from Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. Your environmental assessment amendments will probably mean that projects of this sort aren't required to look at alternatives like conservation or need.

Will you show your good faith today, unlike the finance minister, and agree to the request of the Canadian Environmental Law Association that York region and Northwest Water's proposal be bumped up to a full environmental assessment with full public hearings?

Hon Mr Sterling: I'm glad the member clarified that it is York region that has engaged this particular company to supply water to their community. It is not a provincial decision. It is our role to ensure that the standards are in place, and we will continue to do that. We will have the highest standards possible in this province, and we will continue to do that.

I cannot answer whether I will have one kind of environmental assessment until I see the facts. I don't think any member of this Legislature would want me to make a decision on the basis of not having the information in front of me, not having my staff advise me as to what that information is, and then of course I will take a reasoned and logical decision, which that information leads me to.



Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My question is to the Minister of Finance. This week, from October 21 to 25, is National Small Business Week. This special week recognizes the achievements of businesses which employ fewer than 100 people in their organizations.

Minister, I know I speak for all the House in stating how important a contribution this sector is making towards the economic growth and recovery of our province. Indeed, this sector accounts for 98% of all businesses in Ontario and is responsible for creating 87% of today's net new employment.

My question to you relates to the national jobs report released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Do you have any comments about the report and what action has been taken to date to improve the climate for small business in Ontario?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): As members may well know, today the Canadian Federation of Independent Business released its report called On Higher Ground. As you know, it's primarily made up of the small business community in this country.

They indicate that they would like payroll taxes reduced, which would lead to hiring new people. That's the conclusion of 51% of the small business people survey. Obviously people in this province know that we are eliminating the employer health tax on small businesses with payrolls under $400,000 a year, and by 1999, 270,000 businesses in Ontario will no longer have to pay that. We are reducing, on average, WCB premiums by some 5%.

Forty per cent indicated that a reduction in taxation levels to consumers would lead to their hiring more people in the small business sector. People in the Legislature know, whether they agree or not, that we have started our reduction of provincial income tax, on average, in excess of 30% by the time it's fully implemented in three years' time.

We are taking action to reduce government spending, we're reducing government administration costs by 33% over the next three years and we're eliminating red tape.

Mr Chudleigh: Minister, I thank you for your answer. With respect to the findings in the report, it specifically concludes that payroll taxes kill jobs. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business called for a decrease in employment insurance premiums to stimulate job creation across Canada. What is Ontario's position on this issue?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): How did you stimulate the wealthy?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member opposite may think it's funny that small businesses create 98% of the jobs. He may refer to them as wealthy. I'm sure many small business people don't consider themselves wealthy.

While proposing to raise Canada pension plan premiums, the federal government has steadfastly refused to consider a reduction in UI, or EI, premiums, this despite the fact that the federal government, by the end of this year, will have accumulated a surplus in its UI account of some $5 billion to $6 billion, $4 billion of which comes out of the pockets of taxpayers in Ontario, representing a surplus they, as employees, have paid in terms of premiums versus what they took out, a $4-billion surplus from the province of Ontario alone.

This surplus will continue to accumulate by $5 billion to $6 billion a year for the foreseeable future, hitting $20 billion by the end of 1999. CFIB estimates this will cost 82,000 to 100,000 jobs in Canada. They are both payroll taxes. If they're going to raise one on one hand, they should be lowering the other one.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Premier. It has to do with the hospital restructuring plans for Ottawa-Carleton.

Premier, you're aware that there's a 30-day response time to the interim directive to be issued by the commission. Based on the track record to date of the commission, we in Ottawa-Carleton anticipate that its report will be submitted in mid-December. Our concern is quite simply this: If this occurs, the 30-day consultation period will encompass the period between December 24 and January 2, a 10-day period when, as I'm sure the Premier will acknowledge, it's pretty darned hard to get anything done.

If we're going to have a genuine consultation period, it cannot include that period. What I'm asking for, and I think this is eminently reasonable, is your assurance that the 30-day consultation period to be afforded to the community of Ottawa-Carleton will not encompass the time period between December 24 and January 2.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Let me first of all say that it sounds like a very reasonable request. The minister is not here today, as you are aware. I know we're dealing with a member who's been very supportive of our reductions and getting our costs under control and who has expressed that viewpoint on many occasions and understands that very difficult choices have to be made; would that all members of your party or of the opposition understood that. I apologize if this affects any events that take place in any leadership bids, but I think you have demonstrated a considerable amount of common sense on a number of issues.

We'll certainly take it under advisement. In talking with the government House leader, it sounds like we may be sitting right through all of those days, through Christmas and January, perhaps February and March as well.

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

Hon Mr Harris: It's a reasonable request and we'll certainly take that under advisement if and when the timing should be along that --

The Speaker: Answered.

Mr McGuinty: I want to thank you for your support, Mr Premier; thanks, but no thanks.

I want to raise an additional matter. Some residents of Ottawa-Carleton have reported that they have been polled on the subject of restructuring our hospitals and that there's some reason to believe the poll was conducted by your government. Can the Premier advise as to whether or not a poll has been conducted and, if a poll was taken, provide us with a copy of those results?

Hon Mr Harris: Also a very reasonable request. I am not aware of any poll that is taking place or that we are doing or that the ministry is doing or that the party is doing, but I would be pleased to check for the member. If it is a poll that I or our party or government has any knowledge of, I will check that. If it is a poll that is being paid for by the taxpayers, or at least our taxpayers, we would certainly want to make sure that we share that with the member.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Attorney General. We've talked to you a number of times about problems around the family support plan from clients' points of view, all of which are problems that were not historical, that only happened when you made your changes in August of this year. Now I'm beginning to receive all sorts of phone calls from lawyers who are also experiencing problems that are new since you made your changes.

Since you closed the regional office in London, for example, it's been practically impossible for lawyers to get through on phone lines and to make the kind of arrangements they typically could do under the plan before. Iva Humble, who is a lawyer from London, called to say that when the regional office was open and staffed, she could request and receive a director's statement of arrears within two days. She did that regularly. Now she's been told it'll take two weeks at a minimum. As a lawyer, she requires the director's statement of arrears to serve the notice to the other party. This is a problem that you created, a problem that didn't exist prior to the close of the regional offices and the layoff of staff. Are you aware of this problem? What are you going to do about it?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): This is a plan that has constantly had problems. People have not been able to access this plan. We've had days where the plan gets 50,000 phone calls a day. We had a Liberal government where 70% of the people who had orders against them to pay didn't pay anything. We had an NDP government that allowed arrears to go from $300 million to $900 million. We are reorganizing this plan and we intend within the very near future to have our new centre open so that we will have better service to clients of the plan and better service to lawyers, who have never had good service from the plan. We intend to deal with client complaints and client questions, ensuring proper enforcement. The plan has had 10 years of problems, the plan has never been well run, and we are going to change that historical situation.


Mrs Boyd: At some point this minister is going to recognize that everyone in this House and all lawyers in the province understand there have been historical problems with the plan. What they're mad about is that this minister stepped in and ruined what was working in the system and has not put into place what he promised.

Let me give you another example of the problem that has happened since you made your changes in August, not before; a problem that was not a problem before August. Lawyers for recipients and payors were able to talk directly to the lawyers working with the plan. They had the phone numbers. They could call the lawyers who had the case histories and get answers. Now they have no numbers except the general public number. When they call they go through what the general public goes through. When they finally get the voice mail, it takes them four tries to leave a message that allows them to give the amount of information they need. You allow so few seconds for a message, they can't even get their message through. This is a new problem and you've created it. What are you going to do about it?

Hon Mr Harnick: These are not new problems. Clients have not been able to access the plan for 10 years.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I know you just want to wait, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I don't know about that, actually. Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: The fact is that lawyers have not been able to access the plan and the public has not been able to access the plan. Having been in this Legislature for the last six years, I have had constant complaints about the family support plan, more than any other social program the government delivers. This is not new. I've looked at all of the complaints that have come in. These are the kinds of complaints that have been repetitive with the plan for years and years.


The Speaker: Member for London Centre, I ask that you withdraw that, please.

Mrs Boyd: Yes, Mr Speaker.


The Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre as well, would you please withdraw.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Yes, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: New question. The member for Kenora.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Premier. You made a commitment to the people of northwestern Ontario, particularly the people of Dryden, that not one cent would come out of health care. After saying this, we find out from the Minister of Health --


The Speaker: I understand, but I made a mistake and I will fix my mistake.

Mr Pouliot: Don't be too hard on yourself. You didn't make a mistake. You're too hard on yourself. You were perfect.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, you can continue to heckle; I'll wait. I made a mistake; I'm going to fix my mistake. Let's go to the rotation. The member for Hamilton West.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was up on my feet.

My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. This summer your ministry issued a consultation paper, entitled Responsive Environmental Protection, which outlined proposed reforms to many of Ontario's outdated environmental regulations. I understand that the deadline for public submissions in response to this paper has recently passed. Could you please enlighten us and tell us what the status of that project is now?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I do recognize the member for Hamilton West's problem in being seen by the Speaker from time to time.

The consultation paper Responsive Environmental Protection was released after nine months of consultation with the industry, municipalities and other groups across this province. In fact, the consultation started before our government came to power. We have taken the work of the previous government, those consultations, and put forward this tremendous paper on 80 different regulations. We've distributed over 5,000 copies to various people across the province. To date we've received over 300 submissions on the various different regulations, which shows the tremendous interest in the environment by groups, municipalities, businesses. Interestingly enough, 150, or half of those, are from individual citizens and I congratulate all of those citizens for putting forward those proposals.

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

Hon Mr Sterling: I would like to assure the people of Ontario when we come to a final conclusion on these regulations we will have better regulations than we had in the province before and no regulation --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mrs Ross: I'd like to ask the minister if there will be any other further consultations with interested parties and stakeholders.

Hon Mr Sterling: I'm pleased to inform the honourable member that prior to the paper being produced, over 80 groups had met with ministry staff and with my parliamentary assistant, Dr Doug Galt. What we're planning to do in the next stage of consultations is to go to the groups which have requested a meeting with the ministry. My parliamentary assistant, Dr Doug Galt, who has led this project from the beginning, is going to meet with those on an individual basis before we go to the next step of consultations. There will be additional chances, as you know, under the environmental registry system. Before we go to the final step of actually altering the regulations, we will of course have a notice period and another period of time for the public to consult and respond to our formal and final recommendations with regard to this matter.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Premier, you made a commitment to the people in northwestern Ontario, and in particular to the people of Dryden, that not one cent would come out of health care. Premier, after saying this we find out that the Ministry of Health capital funding formula has been reduced from 83% to 75%. This will have a devastating effect on the Dryden hospital redevelopment plans. Premier, why are you asking small and rural communities to pick up costs that have traditionally been the responsibility of the provincial government, costs that you said would not be there? Remember, Premier, "not one cent."

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I assume the reference to "not one cent" is our firm commitment made during the campaign and repeated day after day, and I'm happy to repeat it today. We will not cut one cent from the health care ministry. In fact, we of course, as you very well know, have added $300 million to the health care budgets and to the ministry. This is what has allowed us to help small rural northern Ontario hospitals. We've been giving them up to $20 million to fund a $70-an-hour session fee for working nights so that we can have emergency care, something the former government wasn't able to provide in many of our communities.

As you know, $194,000 a year for 34 positions in 21 small remote northern communities to provide doctors and services in these communities --

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

Hon Mr Harris: -- to help recruitment. I'm sure the member wants to congratulate us for all we have done for northern Ontario, for remote communities by way of the additional $300 million --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier.


Mr Miclash: Premier, I'm talking about the Dryden hospital capital funding. The formula has been reduced from 83% to 75%. The hospital board and the community have worked hard to put together this redevelopment plan. Your government has now put it in jeopardy. I'm talking about Dryden. I'm talking about their redevelopment plans. What do you have to say to the people of Dryden who worked so hard for this redevelopment?

Hon Mr Harris: We're happy to work with the people of Dryden. I know that the majority of them have been very supportive, as has most of northern Ontario, in the directions that we've been taking, restoring, for example, the $60 million plus $5 million of interest that the NDP stole from the northern development fund and different ways that we can --


Hon Mr Harris: It is moves like this that have enabled us to provide substantially more dollars, not only for economic development but directly for health care. In Dryden, many have benefited from a number of the reinvestments that we have made directly providing services to northwestern Ontario. I know there's overall support for that, and if there is specific help you would like personally, the people of Dryden, from the Premier of Ontario --

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: -- then I personally would be delighted to assist with their capital plans any way I can, and, I might add, as the federal Liberal members unfortunately --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question for the Minister of Finance in his role as chair of the cabinet committee on privatization.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Is this about the $60 million you took out of the northern Ontario heritage fund?

Mr Laughren: No. No cheap shots today. Yesterday in the standing committee on estimates, the member for Wilson Heights was pursuing the Minister of Economic Development and Trade on the question of privatization of VLTs, when video lottery terminals are introduced into the province of Ontario. When the member for Wilson Heights asked the question if it was possible that it would be the private sector that would be running and operating the VLTs, Mr Saunderson replied: "I suppose that's possible. I've been reminded by the deputy of the context of the Criminal Code. To the extent that the Criminal Code would allow that, it's very possible that there could be other people involved."

I ask the minister responsible for privatization in this government, are you seriously considering the privatization of these gambling machines, and even, at least as seriously, are you considering the privatization of the Ontario Lottery Corp?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): To the honourable member, the minister isn't here, as you well know. I understand that. He's the one who made the statement in committee yesterday, not me. We have not made any deliberation with respect to the operation of VLTs in the province of Ontario. It has not come before us and no decisions have been made.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Do you understand the contribution that the Ontario Lottery Corp makes to the communities of Sault Ste Marie and Algoma? You've already reduced its budget by $35 million and your Minister of Economic Development and Trade said yesterday that you are undertaking an independent review of that corporation, and your backbenchers, your colleagues in cabinet, are musing about the competitive nature of that industry and its business practices. Minister, this is making the people of Sault Ste Marie really nervous and uncomfortable. Given the Criminal Code concerns re this piece of business and the economic impact this has on my community, will you today categorically go on the record to say you're not going to privatize the Ontario Lottery Corp?

Hon Mr Eves: I'm not going to categorically say we are or are not doing anything today. As the member knows, every single minister in this government has been asked to review every single undertaking, program and operation in his or her ministry. If that's what the minister's alluding to, that's not unusual; it's part of the normal course of business in reducing administrative costs in government.

If and when this minister or any other minister has such a proposal to bring before cabinet I presume he or she will do so in the appropriate fashion. I can assure you, just as I said to the member for Nickel Belt a few moments ago, that absolutely no decisions have been made in this area and we will consider proposals as they're brought forward by our cabinet colleagues to the cabinet table.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I've got approximately another thousand signatures with regard to the following petition.

"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 health care and our local 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 signature to this petition -- we number about 10,000 now -- because I agree with it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I continue to receive petitions from workers concerned about this government's anti-worker legislation, specifically around WCB and occupational health and safety. These petitions come from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2936, Oshawa; Local 1206 and Local 1206-01, Cobourg; CUPE in Ottawa; and Local 2951 in Haileybury. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

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

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

Our caucus continues to support these petitioners, and therefore I add my name to theirs.



Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas 42% of all driving fatalities are alcohol-related;

"Whereas 565 persons died in alcohol-related crashes in Ontario in 1993, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and more than 26,000 drivers were charged with impaired driving in the same year;

"Whereas 63% of the total convictions for drunk driving in 1993 involved repeat offenders" --

Mr Speaker, I don't think anybody can hear this petition. There is so much noise going on in this House.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): To the member for Mississauga South, with all due respect, petitions -- and I try to keep order during the time -- can become a little difficult. I ask everyone to bear in mind that people are reading petitions that are very important to their communities; give them a little bit of indulgence, please.

Mrs Marland: Thank you.

"Whereas 63% of the total convictions for drunk driving in 1993 involved repeat offenders;

"Whereas every year, drinking and driving costs Ontarians $1.3 billion in personal financial loss, medical expenses and property damage;

"Whereas the existing measures and penalties have failed to deter chronic impaired drivers from re-offending;

"Whereas driving is a privilege, not a right, and chronic impaired drivers have failed to take their driving responsibilities seriously;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact Margaret Marland's private member's bill, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act (Impaired Driving) 1996," Bill 85, "or similar legislation, as soon as possible."

I appreciate this petition and the support and I lend my signature to it.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

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

This is signed by a number of my constituents in Thunder Bay and I have affixed my own signature as I am in full support.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the members of United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 326-W.

"To the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour, and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, are opposed to the proposed changes to workers' compensation in Ontario, including the elimination of the current bipartite board of directors; the reduction of temporary benefits from 90% to 85%; the introduction of an unpaid waiting period for compensation benefits; legislated limits on entitlement, including repetitive strain, chronic pain and stress claims; reduced permanent pensions and pension supplements.

"Workers' compensation is not a handout; it is a legal obligation that the employers of this province have to workers in Ontario;

"We demand no reduction in existing" --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. We are reading petitions. I say to the member for Mississauga South, we are reading petitions, and I think it's important that everyone hear those petitions. Thank you.

Mr Christopherson: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the fairness of your chairing. I should start again, but in fairness to you I won't. I will, however, pick up with:

"Workers' compensation is not a handout; it is a legal obligation that the employers of this province have to workers in Ontario;

"We demand no reduction in existing benefits, improved vocational rehabilitation, tightened enforcement of health and safety to prevent accidents, no reduction in current staff levels at the WCB and continued support for the bipartite board structure."

I add my name to theirs in support.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I'd like to present some cards, in petition form, on behalf of the public libraries in my region. The cards are asking to maintain a provincial role in small community library funding, and they're signed by Christian and Erin Hesser, two who live in my old house on Lindberg Drive; Janet Doane, my old teacher; and Frank Bean from Stevensville, Ontario.

I proudly submit these cards to the assembly.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This is a petition by seniors concerned about the user fees on prescription fees.

"Whereas the government of Mike Harris has broken its pre-election promise not to impose user fees on health care;

"Whereas the user fee imposed by the Harris government on prescription drugs is causing low-income seniors grave hardship;

"Whereas the vast majority of seniors have worked very hard and have paid taxes for decades;

"Whereas seniors are most concerned that this will be the beginning of more and more user fees on health care;

"We, the undersigned, totally oppose the Mike Harris prescription user fees for seniors and petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the Mike Harris government place a moratorium on all health care user fees for seniors."

I fix my name to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet another petition from the people who gathered last Thursday to protest the Premier when he was in Timmins.

"To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the following undersigned citizens, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has broken its election promise by slashing millions of dollars from the health care budgets; and

"Whereas northern Ontario will lose at least five hospitals as a result of these funding cuts; and

"Whereas for the ill the result will be longer waiting periods for care or possibly travelling hundreds of miles to other hospitals, taking them away from families and loved ones; and

"Whereas for employees, the results will be relocations, creating turmoil in their lives, and layoffs, which will drive the economy to the lowest level;

"We, therefore, demand the Premier keep his election promise and return dollars to the health care budgets."

It's signed by some 150 citizens from the community of Timmins and I affix my signature to that petition.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): These petitions concerning ammunition regulations, which are supported and are being distributed by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, read as follows:

"Whereas the NDP government under former Premier Bob Rae passed legislation, Bill 181, the Ammunition Regulation Act, which placed restrictions on the sale of ammunition in Ontario;

"Whereas the provisions contained in Bill 181 are time-consuming, onerous and create unnecessary red tape;

"Whereas the records produced as a result of the provisions of Bill 181 cannot be reasonably used to track criminals and are on many occasions across Ontario, where such records are kept, insecurely stored and thus available for criminal use as a shopping list of homes with firearms;

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

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

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

I affix my signature to this.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition of 312 signatures that were obtained in one afternoon in 14 different doctors' offices, signed by patients.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario re cuts in health care:

"Patient care is in jeopardy as a result of a crisis in our health care system due to underfunding and cutbacks. Doctors are asking for common sense to prevail with the government and are calling for the level of funding to match the level of care.

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

"That the government of Ontario stop cutbacks and underfunding of the health care system and match the level of funding to the level of care Ontarians need."


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition sent to me by Ted Mansell, occupational health and safety coordinator, and Ken Brown, international vice-president of the Service Employees International Union on behalf of their members, signed by a number of their members. It reads:

"To Premier Harris and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

I affix my name with theirs.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition to deliver on behalf of the member for Don Mills. I invite the members present to join me in reading this in unison. It is entitled, "A Petition to End the Spring Bear Hunt," addressed 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 over 80% 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 signed by a number of Ontario and St Catharines residents. It reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature, as I'm in full agreement.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai ici une pétition signée par environ 700 individus de la communauté de Timmins qui ont rencontré M. Harris quand il est venu ici à Timmins il y a deux semaines. La pétition se lit comme suit :

«Les enfants sont le seul avenir de la race humaine ; formons-les convenablement. Étant donné que l'avenir repose sur le développement sain de nos enfants, accordons la priorité aux enfants dans les décisions, les politiques, les programmes et les dépenses à caractère économique, social et politique.

«Nous voulons continuer à leur offrir des services de garde axés sur la qualité. Or, nous savons que la formation appropriée en éducation de la petite enfance est directement liée au niveau de la qualité.

«Nous demandons donc au gouvernement de ne pas diminuer les normes de qualité que nous avons présentement dans nos centres de garde.»

J'appose ma signature à cette pétition.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, if I could, although there are still discussions going on in terms of the weekly business statement at this time, pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of October 28, 1996.

On Monday, October 28, the House will consider Bill 75. The business of the House for the remaining days is yet to be determined, although discussions are taking place, I guess, as we speak. That's the status at this point.



Mr Eves moved government notice of motion number 10:

That the Minister of Finance be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing November 1, 1996, and ending April 30, 1997, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Does this include MPPs?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Yes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Does the minister care to make a statement?

Hon Mr Eves: A very brief one, Mr Speaker. I am pleased to put forward this motion for interim supply. As most members of the Legislature are aware, the motion for interim supply provides the government with the authority to make payments to hospitals, school boards, municipalities, suppliers, civil servants and others. These payments are currently being made under the authority of a motion for interim supply which came into effect on May 1 of this year, 1996.

The motion for interim supply is required now as the authority under the existing motion expires on October 31, 1996, and payments cannot be made after that date. To ensure that all payments scheduled on or after November 1 are made on time to all parts of the province, including northern Ontario, it is necessary to provide the banking system with some lead time. The practice has been to give them at least five working days to ensure that all payments are received on time.

Scheduled payments in early November include, among others, payments for general welfare and transfers to hospitals, school boards and children's aid societies. To ensure that the province meets its obligations in an orderly fashion, I hope all members will be supportive in ensuring this motion is passed promptly.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): By way of comment to the Minister of Finance, it's obviously a motion that needs to be put forward. Without this motion, people in the province of Ontario who work for the minister directly and indirectly, who are employed by the province of Ontario, would not have their paycheques issued.

But I can't allow this moment to go by without making the following comment about a number of other people in Ontario who are already unemployed as a result of the cuts of the Minister of Finance which have resulted since his taking office.

I note that the minister and others within the Conservative government take great pride in pointing out by how many people they've reduced the civil service within the province of Ontario, but I just want to bring to the minister directly what it means to communities like Matheson and Cochrane and others in and around Cochrane South and Cochrane North when those services that are being offered by those ministry employees, such as the Ministry of Ag and Food office that we used to have in Matheson or the Ministry of Transportation office that we used to have in Matheson are no longer there. The Ministry of Natural Resources that used to exist at Matheson is no longer there. It means that all those stakeholders who used to have access to the government's policies and the government's programs no longer can do them in their home communities.

For people in Matheson, that's a big problem because they happen to be at least more than hour's drive from major centres such as Timmins or Kirkland Lake that may have other ministry offices, not to speak to what that means to the local community. It means entrepreneurs in the Matheson area, when wanting to deal with the Ministry of Natural Resources, no longer quite have the incentive they used to have to locate in Matheson, because it would be easier for them to do business in Timmins. I say that's bad for Matheson and that's not how Timmins, knowing Mayor Vic Power and others, wants to see economic development happen.

So I say to the minister that it is good that we pass this motion, but we shouldn't forget what has been done up to this point to the communities of Matheson and Cochrane and many other communities across Ontario as a result of your policies.

Mr Bradley: I want to note that the minister is able to get the borrowing powers from this Legislature and will have the funds to do it without even having video lottery terminals in place in Ontario. I believe that is a lesson for the Minister of Finance, who I know has been a long-time opponent of placing video lottery terminals in every bar and restaurant in every neighbourhood in this province.

The opposition is acquiescent to this resolution before the House, to this supply bill before the House, because we recognize there's a need to pay the bills, the obligations the government has. I note that the present taxation powers of the province allow the Treasurer to meet that, except there is a problem arising in that as he gives his tax break, a 30% cut in income tax, which benefits largely the richest people in this province, he's going to have less money to be able to pay the bills he is asking to pay this afternoon. As a result, some of his colleagues have persuaded him perhaps, or at least ordered him, to acquiesce to video lottery terminals being placed in everybody's neighbourhood, preying upon the most vulnerable people in our society, the most desperate people in our society, those who are addicted to gambling, those who see this as their only chance to be able to acquire some wealth in a relatively short period of time.

I hope that the minister, when he's reflecting upon these estimates, will ask his colleagues to withdraw the bill that permits video lottery terminals and that he will rethink his tax cut, which of course is very popular with bank presidents and corporation presidents, who will get the largest break from it, and that we will be able then to pay the bills and meet the deficit requirements of this province by eliminating that deficit in a period of time before the government contemplates as of now.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to add to the comments of my caucus colleague from Cochrane South when he speaks to the fact that there's some -- I have to use a parliamentary term and I'll stay within those rules -- irony at the very least that the minister expresses a need to get on with paying the public servants, the people who work for the citizens of Ontario, and leaves the impression that this is something he's quite eager to do.

The reality is that with their plans to privatize and get rid of 12,000 of those very people he claims to care about, there's also the question of the people who were hurt by one of this government's first announcements: the poorest of the poor in Ontario, who had 22% of their income taken away by this government. Don't we in the NDP wish that this minister had been as quick to call the Legislative Assembly together and put before this Legislature that kind of attack on the poorest of the poor before he went ahead and put them further into poverty, recognizing that over half the people he affected when he did that were children.

I also point out the number of disabled and injured workers who are out there right now, many of whom are probably watching today because they can't get the kind of rehabilitation they need and can't get back into the jobs they need. This government is going after them and other workers who currently may have a job and who, if they're hurt, will have less to rely on to provide for their families.

That's the agenda of this government in addition to a whole host of other cuts in education, where we're seeing layoffs, and in health care, with nurses who are laid off. Let's remember those people when we hear the pious words of this minister today.

The Acting Speaker: The minister.

Hon Mr Eves: In response to some of my honourable colleagues, I say to the member for Cochrane South that I appreciate his comments. However, I think he should also not lose sight of the fact that today there are 99,000 more people working in the province of Ontario than were working a year ago today. Surely that number is not sufficient, obviously, and never will be probably, but we should not lose sight of that fact.

To the honourable member for St Catharines, I say that there will not be a video lottery terminal in every bar and restaurant in Ontario. He knows full well that we have committed to initially only putting them into racetracks and charity event sites. He also knows full well that even when the next step is taken, if and when it's taken, there will be fewer machines per capita than in any other jurisdiction in Canada. We have committed to that and we will fulfil that.

With respect to his comments on the tax cut, he will also know that for those individuals earning less than $15,000 a year, $14,900 or less, their tax cut comes out to in excess of 41% of provincial income tax. He will also know that for those at the upper end of the wage scale, those earning more than $247,500 a year, their tax reduction will only be 17.9%. We think that is a very progressive way of implementing the tax cut. It was done that way on purpose so those of more modest and medium incomes would receive a much better percentage break than those at the upper end of the income scale.

I would say to the member for Hamilton Centre that these payments, as he knows, no matter who's been in government, are a matter of course and procedure in this Legislature. But just to give you an example, in the next few days alone, payments to general welfare assistance, $98.5 million; to nursing homes, $112.1 million; to boards of education, $182.6 million.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Mr Speaker, I wonder if I might have unanimous consent to split my 90-minute time in the House with Mr Conway, the member for Renfrew North.

The Acting Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that, thank you.

I want to begin the debate on what we here call supply, which is to ensure that the government has the finances, the money, to pay its bills, by saying that it's part of a financial plan we have a fundamental disagreement with. In politics you can have that. The fundamental disagreement is around the tax cut. I want to articulate for the House and certainly for the people of Ontario why we have that fundamental disagreement.

It's important to remember what the Harris government plans to do: It is a 30% cut in personal income tax. If you're making $150,000 in this province, you will get $5,000 more a year in take-home pay. It is an enormous cut in taxes for the well-to-do. The Minister of Finance used some examples. If you're making $15,000, that is a cut of less than a dollar a week. The people who are making $150,000 a year will benefit enormously.

I raise this because the people of Ontario understand that we have a fiscal problem to deal with. They're being asked to make enormous sacrifices. The government is cutting 20% of the funding for hospitals over three years. Believe me, that is going to cause, and is causing, chaos in our hospital sector. Frankly, I think it's irresponsible. Hospitals know they have to restructure, but to put a gun to their head and say, "Over three years we are going to cut 20% from your funding," is guaranteed to pit hospital against hospital to make bad health decisions. There is no question of that. It will happen and it is happening.

On the educational front, the government says, "We are not touching the classroom." I will challenge the members of the House to find one school board that has not got larger class sizes in September of this year than it had a year ago. The members may shake their heads, but I would urge them to go and talk to their school boards about the size of the classes.

The minister made reference to jobs. You promised 12,000 jobs a month when you ran. You are now, without question, 80,000 jobs behind that promise. There's no dispute. You put out a document. By the way, this document normally comes out the day the employment stats come out. It was delayed a few days because it had to be, I gather, looked at carefully.

There are 57,000 more people out of work in the province of Ontario right now than there were a year ago. I know there are 99,000 more jobs, but the number of people coming into the labour force is growing far faster than that. You must remember the promise you made. You didn't promise 100,000 jobs a year; you promised 145,000 jobs a year.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): And you must remember the promise you made.

Mr Phillips: The member in the back is barracking. I would just say to him that there are 57,000 more people in Ontario out of work right now than there were a year ago. I hadn't planned to start on this, but your budget, the one you approved, the one your caucus agreed to, this document promises more people out of work in 1998 than there were in 1995. Have you looked at that? Do you understand what you're saying and what you're doing?

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): They were unemployed in 1995 too --

Mr Phillips: There's another member saying that they were unemployed in 1995.

Mr Christopherson: But they weren't looking for work, he said.

Mr Phillips: Oh, they weren't looking for work. So they're looking for work now. Is that why there's 57,000 more people out of work? That is no excuse for why there are 57,000 more people. It is because you are not seeing jobs created nearly fast enough in the province, and 57,000 more people are out of work.

I go back to say to the people of Ontario that if the deficit is such a big problem that hospitals have to be cut 20% -- you're planning to cut provincial financing for school boards by 25%; that's in your own figures. You have cut municipalities' funding by 25% and you've promised to cut it another 25%. Where I come from, young people are paying higher fees. It's the worst savings you can imagine: forcing young people to pay higher fees in terms of using recreation facilities.

You are forcing municipalities to cut down on their police organizations. You have cut the capital budget absolutely dramatically. You've cut it from $3.5 billion; it's now $2.7 billion and it will go to $2.2 billion, almost cut in half. If you want to see the infrastructure, which is the foundation on which we build many things, crumbling you're doing it. Why is it happening? It is to fund a tax break that without question, the more you make, the bigger the break.

I find it inexplicable to say to someone in my community, "Yes, the government is going to put user fees on drugs for seniors." In fact, there's a threat in my own community that the local Salvation Army hospital, open 10 years, a fantastic hospital, is under threat now. Why? Because you've got to cut 20% from hospital funding. "We have to do all those things to get our fiscal house in order," but at the same time we can afford a tax break, 30%, for the richest people in this province.


Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): To create jobs.

Mr Phillips: "To create jobs," the member says. You are wiping out thousands of jobs to fund this tax cut where every economist who looked at it said it is perhaps the least effective tax cut to create jobs. It is just a payoff for the richest people in this province. If you are truly concerned about the finances of this province, I don't understand how we can afford a $5-billion tax break. I don't understand how the province and the seeming great fiscal managers, which is a complete myth, can afford a $5-billion tax break.


Mr Phillips: To the unemployed people of Ontario I would say there is a Conservative member in the back row, and I will find his name here in a moment, who is barracking and says things are fine. I say things are not fine. I will say tomorrow --

Mr Christopherson: Brant-Haldimand.

Mr Phillips: I don't know what his name is, but Brant-Haldimand. "Things are fine." They're not fine, and you are making them worse with a fiscal plan that is ridiculous.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): Those are your words.

Mr Preston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: At no time did I say that things were fine. I say they're in a mess because we still haven't fixed the problems that have been caused over the past 10 years.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. Would the member for Scarborough-Agincourt please continue.

Mr Phillips: The member for Durham East, Mr O'Toole, just so that people at home understand, doesn't like the fact that the people of Ontario have a voice in here.

Mr Preston: I'm not Mr O'Toole.

Mr Phillips: There he goes barracking again. Mr Speaker, you're going to have to try and keep him under control. He's out of control here.

On the employment front we have a crisis on our hands. We have 57,000 more people out of work. If you say everything is fine, we have a fundamental disagreement with you on your fiscal plan, where you say the province of Ontario has a huge deficit problem, and all of us must struggle. In fact, you've broken many promises you made in this Common Sense Revolution. Mr O'Toole from Durham East, where my daughter lives, incidentally, I think you should be a bit embarrassed to be in here barracking.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): That's Mr Preston from Brant-Haldimand.

Mr Phillips: Oh, is it? You said this plan guarantees full funding for education spending in the classroom. You have cut and plan to cut one quarter of your support for education in this province. You said you'd guarantee full funding for health care and you have now cut and promised to cut 20%.

Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member addressed me as barracking while I was in the other room making a phone call, indicating that I was making comments in the House. I would like to correct the record that I was not in the House, that I was not barracking, and I would like him to withdraw those comments. If he's going to make personal attacks on people, he'd better make them in their presence or stand accoubtable for his comments.

The Acting Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no quorum in the House.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: Mr O'Toole is right. I looked at the wrong name here. It was Mr Preston who was barracking. I apologize to Mr O'Toole. It's Mr Preston who is barracking.

Mr Preston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I complained about being called Mr O'Toole; they denied it.

The Acting Speaker: That's not a point of order.

Mr Phillips: We rely on you to keep him under control.

Just to continue on the promises you all made in the Common Sense Revolution that you've broken, you promised -- and for many of the seniors in this province this was a solemn promise -- that you would introduce no new user fees and no new copayments on drugs. You've done that. You have broken that promise totally, and the people of Ontario understand that.

Interjection: Where does it say that?

Mr Phillips: There's another member. Where does it say it? It says right here: "In the last decade, user fees and copayments have kept rising and many health care services have been `delisted' and are no longer covered by OHIP.... We looked at those kinds of options..." such as fees and copayments, and you rejected them. "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees," and no copayments. I can't use the strong language I would like, but to the people of Ontario, you put a user fee on seniors with drugs. You promised you wouldn't do that and you've done it.

You promised you would not touch the classroom. You have now cut, and promise to cut, 25% of your support for school boards. That's clear.

You promised in this document, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years.... Ontario needs jobs today, and jobs tomorrow." You promised 12,000 jobs a month. You are now 80,000 jobs behind that promise.

Another promise in here was to return the public sector to the appropriate size it was in 1985. That was a promise you made in the Common Sense Revolution. We now find they have changed that promise and they have a completely different promise now than the one they made during the campaign. I will just go through the numbers here.

In 1985 in the province of Ontario there were 81,000 public servants. When you came into office there were 81,000 public servants in the province. In other words, the public sector --

Mr Christopherson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The government is failing to maintain a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would the clerk please check for a quorum.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I want to go over these numbers, because certainly it was a very successful campaign that Mike Harris ran. It resulted in their election and I take my hat off to them. But we now find a whole bunch of promises that you made frankly you're not keeping. You said in this Common Sense Revolution you were going to return the bloated bureaucracy back to 1985 levels. As it turned out, you didn't know the numbers. The fact is that when you came into office, the Ontario public service was exactly the same size as it was 10 years before.



Mr Phillips: One of the Brampton members is again barracking, but I just go on what you said. I assumed that you knew what you were saying. You said you were going to return the bureaucracy to the level that it was in 1985. Now we're finding it's not going to be the level it was in 1985; you want to reduce it to about 10,000 fewer than it was in 1985. If I had confidence that you knew what you were doing and that you knew how to run things, I might feel less worried than I am now, but certainly the things you have touched so far -- we spent today talking about the family benefit plan that is in absolute chaos. It is like a complete case history in mismanagement.

We see now that the government is cutting 10,000 jobs out of the civil service. I will just say that the Provincial Auditor, who is the independent eyes and ears for the people of Ontario, signalled significant concerns about that. He indicated significant concerns in three or four areas. One is in the environment, where the auditor -- in fact, I asked the Provincial Auditor, "What is the area we should be most worried about in here?" The auditor said, "It is in the environment."

The reason I raise this is because I know it was popular to run on, "We're going to cut the civil servants down dramatically." That played well, but then when the government got elected, they found out the civil service was exactly the same size in 1995 as it was in 1985. But the government is going to cut 10,000 more out. What does the auditor say about that? The auditor says he has major concerns about the air standards. He uses terms like "carcinogenic," "very worried about cancer-causing pollutants." What's the government's answer to that? "We certainly would like to handle that, but the ministry has many competing priorities." In other words, the ministry does not have sufficient staff to deal with the pollutants and the concerns about air pollution that the auditor has raised.

You may remember that similar concerns have been raised about water quality. What does the auditor say about that? The auditor says the ministry had planned to extend the program to about 15 new plants a year. However, citing resource constraints, the ministry has added only 13 plants over the period. The point I'm making is that on the environment, on both water and air, crucial issues for the people of Ontario, the auditor said that's his number one concern. It was not necessarily reported that way, but that's what the auditor said. On both water and air, the auditor said we have major problems and the ministry's response was, "We have limited resources to deal with it."

There are similar concerns expressed in community and social services. In fact, throughout the community and social services portion of this, they cite the problem with lack of resources. The reason I raise this is that it is in all of our interests to stamp out fraud and abuse in the welfare system. Those who are legitimately on social assistance -- and I might add that any study I've ever seen of it suggests that well over 95% of the people on social assistance have a total legitimate need for that assistance. They would like it to be handled. But there's nothing that will give the social assistance area a worse name than the government deciding to shortchange on resources. That will lead to obvious abuse in it and will give the whole system a bad name. So if you want to give the social assistance system a bad name, cut the resources, and you'll find for sure, as the auditor says, these things will creep in.

Once again the auditor points out the problems. Here's what the auditor says. They did a study and it said: "A standard caseload of 275 people per case worker is the right level. If you go more than 375, they can't do their job." What do we find now? The average file per case worker is 385. The reason I raise this is because I know you want to cut civil servants. I know that if you want to fund the tax cut you've got to cut them. But according to the auditor, you are inviting abuse. I repeat myself: It's in no one's best interests, most of all those who legitimately have an entitlement to adequate social assistance.

This is perhaps unfair, but if you wanted to set up a recipe for discrediting social assistance, you would do what you're doing, which is to cut the case workers, give them an impossible workload, let some abuse slide into the system and then highlight that abuse.

In the months ahead, the auditor has you on notice that you are cutting staff, you do not have adequate resources to deal with the environment, to deal with the whole area of social assistance. He also points it out in the tax area, where he says -- this is an interesting number -- "For every 14 hours of a tax audit, it yields additional taxes of $10,000." Once again you've cut staff there. Now the government belatedly has come to the conclusion that it should add staff there.

Why am I going through all this? It is fashionable to say: "Well, we must downsize. We've got to do more with less. We've got to cut the bloated bureaucracy." Although the public should be aware that the bloated bureaucracy was exactly the same size in 1995 as it was in 1985, in spite of the fact there was a substantial increase in the number of people in Ontario.

By the way, I might add, in that 10-year period from 1985 to 1995 -- and this may be of interest to you. Remember I said earlier that the provincial civil service was 81,000 in 1985 and 81,000 in 1995 -- law enforcement went up by 5,000 people over that period of time. What happened in the rest of the budget? Health went down by 1,000; the Ministry of Community and Social Services went down by 2,000. Not only did the numbers stay the same but the law enforcement side grew dramatically and health and community and social services declined dramatically. I know that's not the public perception, perhaps, but that's what happened.

Now what you're doing is you want to cut another 11,000. What the auditor has signalled is that in the areas that he's looked at -- the environment -- believe me, he's sending up a major signal to the province, the people of Ontario: Look out for your air and your water quality. He's sending up a major signal in the area of social assistance. I repeat, my experience with people on social assistance is that the overwhelming numbers are there legitimately and require it, but if you do not have adequate resources there to manage it, you're just inviting abuse for the system, and in the tax area.

I might also add as an aside that he raises concerns about Highway 407 and the new government agreeing -- I understand the new government signed a new contract for maintenance on it that didn't go to tender, and he's saying, "Why did it not go to tender?"


I go back to what we're debating here, which is the whole issue of the finances of the government's fiscal plan. I go back to a strong difference of opinion we have with the government, that we think it is fiscally irresponsible to put forward a scheme of a $5-billion tax cut. By the way, that's well over 10% of all the tax revenue in this province. It's huge. It's absolutely a mammoth loss of revenue. Just in the next four years alone, it is $13 billion of lost revenue because of the tax cut.

I might add that over the next four years this government is going to add $22 billion to the debt of the province -- huge -- but at the same time as we're adding that $22 billion -- I might add that $22 billion is an enormous amount of money for Ontario -- that much debt, we can afford to go out and borrow $13 billion. Every penny of this is borrowed money. We're going to go out and borrow $13 billion for a tax cut. As I say to my business associates, this is an organization that has a significant deficit problem, but we can afford a $5-billion-a-year dividend and we'll pay it to our richest shareholders. For most people, it really doesn't make sense.

I've talked to many of the Conservative members and I understand why you're doing it. First and foremost, for many of you it is a way to continue to force government expenditure cuts. If you are fiscally responsible, can you really afford a $5-billion-a-year tax cut? I will guarantee you, by the way, that as hospitals close, as our school classrooms get larger and larger, as our municipalities find they do not have the resources to maintain the quality of life we're accustomed to, you are going to have real difficulty explaining to those people how at the same time you can afford a $5,000-a-year tax break for someone making $150,000 a year.

I was interested in the report this week from Fortune magazine where they ranked cities outside the US and ranked Toronto as I think the most livable, and one of the Conservative members go up and tried to take credit for that. Frankly, it's absurd for the new Conservative government to try to take credit for that. It is a history of 25 years of building that quality of life in the city of Toronto. Certainly no one government can take credit for that, no one level of government can take credit for it, and in many respects, in my opinion, it is a result of some strong municipal governments and some strong school boards. Personally, that's what I believe.

In any event, why is it ranked that way? It's ranked that way because of its quality of life, of its safe community, and a community is safe not just because of the police, although they're important, but because people have shelter and a standard of living. They rank it that way because of the education system and because of the quality of our arts community. We are threatening all of these things in the interest of finding $5 billion a year for a tax break.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): What about the other $100 billion, Gerry?

Mr Phillips: The member says, "What about the other $100 billion?" It is a serious problem and that is the reason I simply don't think the province can afford a $5-billion tax cut.

The cuts in health care are ones that perhaps concern me the most. I hope the tentative agreement with the doctors works out.

Mrs Boyd: It seems to be falling apart.

Mr Phillips: My colleague from London says, "It seems to be falling apart."

Here's how I look at the agreement. The government has said, "We're not going to put any more money into the doctors' payments." I might add that it isn't $3.8 billion just for next year. The government's finances are essentially going to continue to be cut over the next three years. Just so everybody in the province knows, we are not even halfway along with the cuts the Conservative government's going to make. They say they're going to cut $8 billion and we have not yet seen $4 billion cut from the budget. The people of Ontario probably understand this, that they have not yet felt half the impact of the cuts yet. There is at least 50% more to come, and in my judgement perhaps more, because the government has made fairly optimistic assumptions about economic growth in the future, 3% a year every year into the next millennium, and most economists say that won't happen.

What's happening with the doctors is that the government is saying, "We're not going to find any more money, we're not prepared to put any more money in, but we'll be your partners in charging people out of their own pocket for services." I personally am concerned that the government was at the table with the OMA, but I don't think the people of Ontario were at the table with the OMA. I understand the OMA's need to represent the doctors, but when I see in the announcement that $50 million in relief will be achieved through delisting, delisting means one thing: You still need the service, you still need that medical procedure, but the province won't pay for it, your Ontario insurance plan won't pay for it. You'll pay for it out of your own pocket. That's what the delisting jargon means.

On health care we've now seen user fees on drugs, which you promised you would not introduce. It isn't just a $2 fee for lower-income people; it's the $100 a year and then the $6 fee for individuals with $16,000 a year. For those of you who try and live on $16,000 a year, you will know that is not a lot of money, but you've decided that they can afford $100 a year and they can afford to pay $6 every time they go for a prescription. Why? In my opinion, to help fund that huge tax break for the wealthy.

Hospitals: I don't know any organization as complicated and as difficult to manage and as important to a community, I don't know any organization like our hospital system that could ever manage a 20% cut over three years properly and still end up serving the public well. I guarantee you there are going to be major mistakes made. I see hospitals pitted against hospitals now, because it's a battle of survival.

That's on the hospitals; that's on the drug plan. Now we find in the doctors' agreement what's really going to happen; the document confirms it. A lot of things that previously were covered by your insurance you're going to have to now pay out of your own pocket.

Mr Ford: Chrétien must have thought Ontario didn't need it particularly. Did he, Gerry?

Mr Phillips: That may not mean much to the people in this room who have a nice drug plan and a nice insurance plan, but for the rest of the people in Ontario, particularly for those on lower income, it will mean something. We now find that the promise you made on health care seems to mean nothing.


The promise you made on education: "We will not touch the classroom." I don't think you knew what you were talking about when you made that promise, because every school board in this province is being impacted in the classroom, without question. You have only begun your cuts; you are just moving on the major cuts that you say you're going to implement in health care.

On municipalities, you've cut 25% of their funding with another 25% coming. Where is it being made up? It is fee after fee. Some of it is, frankly, worrisome. For example, there's a nursing home in the area which has its fire alarms up to code. The problem is that when you have a fire alarm up to code, it periodically goes off; false alarm, but it goes off. They now owe $3,000. The fire department, because its budgets are being cut, has to find funds elsewhere and is finding them by charging for false alarms. All of us want to cut out frivolous false alarms, I understand that, but you're putting at risk nursing homes, you're putting at risk safety in many areas.

The additional promises that you made in here: I go back to the job promise, because that is the one that in my opinion is going to be the most serious. I personally think we have a job crisis in Ontario.


Mr Phillips: The member from Rexdale is laughing, but I regard it as a crisis.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, come to order.

Mr Phillips: I regard it as a crisis when there are 57,000 more people out of work in Ontario than there were a year ago. You may not. We have a difference of opinion about that. I regard it as a crisis when in the 1960s the unemployment rate in the province was 3.5%, in the 1970s it was 5.5%, in the 1980s it was 7.5% and in the 1990s it's 9%. Furthermore, I would perhaps feel better if the budget indicated that it was going to get better, but your own budget shows the number of unemployed people in 1996, 1997 and 1998 as higher than in 1995. You may not like to hear my figures, but these are your figures, and so I say it is a crisis. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale may not agree.

It is unacceptable for us to say it is all going to be handled. The unemployment rate among our young people is without any question of a doubt very close to 30%. Again, that's not me. You talk to the bank economists. It's reported at somewhere around 16%. I think the government's own economists would agree that there is a substantial number of young people who have simply dropped right out of the labour force. We have an unemployment rate among young people at 30%.

We have now -- and this will not change, according to your own numbers, for the rest of the decade -- over 500,000 people out of work in the province. I heard the Minister of Community and Social Services very pleased about many people on social assistance getting jobs. These are your numbers: 57,000 more people out of work in Ontario today than a year ago. I can guarantee you that we will have this debate continuously until you accept that we have a dramatic problem that will only be solved when you accept that it is a dramatic problem.

I might take a moment to digress a little about one of the problems in politics and one of the reasons people get cynical about politicians. It has to do with the jobs thing.

In the last 12 months there has been one good month in Ontario. That was August. I said publicly that August was a strong month. I say this for the people at home: I'm in opposition so I tried to be fair and said that August was a strong jobs month. It was. The rest of the months have been weak. Of course, and this is understandable, when I ask a question and say, "Listen, the employment problem is serious," the Premier then says, "Well, you yourself said that it's not a problem, that it's a strong month." The reason I raise this is that you can see how people can get very cynical about politicians. When you try to say, "Yes, there was one good month, August, but the rest of the months have been a problem," it is used against you forever. I just had to get that off my chest.

I want to come back to what I regard as perhaps the most significant problem we will face, and that is employment. If any of you can find me what you would regard or what people on the street would regard as a reputable economist who would come to us and say, "I support that there will be 725,000 jobs created with this plan," I invite you to bring them to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. No economist believes you. It's not going to happen. The longer you ignore the problem and say it will go away, the worse it will get.

What should be done about it? Here's what should be done about it, because it's fine to barrack, but the first thing -- I would actually urge the backbench to take a good look at this and raise it with your cabinet -- is that we have to accept that it is a serious problem that is not going to go away. These are your own numbers. You are not making a dint in the number of unemployed in the province. Your plans don't call for that. It will be a problem next year; it will be a problem the year after. We should be making employment our number one issue in Ontario. It isn't right now because you say you're going to solve it, so it's gone.

In managing the reductions, right now the marching orders from the government are, "More with less." It's become almost a badge who can cut the most number of jobs. What should we be doing? We should be saying, "How can we improve the service, manage our finances and look at ways we preserve jobs?"

The next thing we should do is that we should get, to use the jargon, the stakeholders, the major players, and challenge them. There are things, there are ideas people have about how we can structure programs so that it makes it more attractive to hire people, how we can find ways that we don't simply say: "More with less. Who can cut the most?" But so far all we get from the government is: "This is not a problem. You are being alarmist."

I believe strongly that this is a problem we're not even beginning to tackle. There will be some good months, some bad months, but overall according to your own numbers -- by the way, the number of people unemployed is far worse than you thought; you didn't predict there would be 57,000 more people out of work now than there was a year ago, never predicted that.

I want to talk a little bit about the cuts to come, because as I said earlier, we've only just begun. I don't think the province of Ontario has yet recognized the depth of cuts. There are going to be major demonstrations around tomorrow and the following day. I think some of those organizations anticipate what's going to happen, but perhaps they don't fully appreciate what still has to come.

Hospital cuts: You are barely a third of the way to the cuts you are going to make in hospitals. You've got two thirds more to come, huge cuts in hospitals that are going to impact every community in this province. As I said before, everybody is interested in managing the system more efficiently, but this is perhaps the worst way you'd do it, by choking them off and then hoping they come up with a sensible, reasonable solution.


Our school system is just beginning to see the cuts. As a matter of fact, last year the Minister of Education and Training announced a $400-million cut only to find that he couldn't make it happen. He cut it back to $233 million and took $167 million out of capital. But the minister has said that his goal is to cut $1 billion from the education budget. I guarantee you that two things are going to happen. One is that you're going to find classrooms larger and larger. It will be the members --

Mr Phillips: I don't want to misstate who this is. This is Mr Galt from Northumberland. I will just say to the people of Northumberland --

The Acting Speaker: I think it's Mr Ford. Order, please.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Humber, come to order, please.

Mr Phillips: Mr Ford. Sorry, I apologize.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Humber, come to order, please.

Mr Phillips: I apologize. Mr Ford from Etobicoke-Humber I think has some interesting meetings to look forward to as classrooms in Etobicoke get larger and larger and he simply says: "We've got to fund the tax cut somehow or other. That's why we're cutting you by 25%." They may say: "Mr Ford, you went around here saying you wouldn't touch classroom funding. What's going on?" He'll just have to say, "I made a mistake," or somehow or other weasel out from it. But people voted for you because you promised full funding for health care.

You've now found that you're going to cut 20% from hospitals, that you've imposed user fees on all seniors in Etobicoke, and in my area the people who are running for your party promised they'd never do that. You've now found that the agreement you're reaching with doctors is going to mean that sick people will have to pay out of their own pockets for services. You thought you were running on none of this. You promised none of this.

Law enforcement: When you cut your support for municipalities by 50%, only one of two things can happen: You cut services or you increase taxes, because the organizations over the last few years have been grinding to become more efficient. Every organization in this province, every municipality, every school board is grinding to become more efficient.

The reason I raise all that is because this is the document that people elected this government on, and now we're finding things beginning to unravel, be it the job promise -- I was interested that the other day the Premier was trying to qualify the job promise. "Well, it's 725,000 jobs, maybe most of them at the end." But that isn't what the unemployed were promised. As a matter of fact, I remember this document said, "Ontario needs jobs today," and it's not happening.

You are not keeping up nearly with the job growth, the number of people coming into the labour force, let alone reducing unemployment. I am particularly concerned about many people who are on social assistance. You're saying, "Go out and get a job," and I think they have a legitimate point to raise: "Yes, I would, but with another 57,000 people looking for work right now it is tougher today than it was a year ago."

I want to talk about cuts to come, because in the health area the government has just begun. They have promised they will cut our hospital budgets this year -- this year, just so we all know -- by $365 million. Next year it becomes $435 million; the year after that, $507 million. It not only is three years of significant cuts, but each cut gets bigger and bigger and bigger. They cut $225 million out of the drug plan. As I say, they are planning to cut 25% of support for education; in municipalities, virtually half of the funding.

We're seeing throughout the province the impact of that. The auditor signalled his concerns in several areas. He signalled concerns in the area of the environment. I will just say, as I said earlier, if you were to ask the auditor what is the area that concerns him the most, he says it is the lack of attention to the environment. I guarantee you that if there's something that concerns the people of Ontario, it will be the quality of the air they breathe and the quality of the water they drink. He's signalling both of these things as major problems.

I know the public love the idea of fewer civil servants. Well, yes, in general. But specifically, if it means that we are going to have problems with our health as a result of air and water, if it means, as the auditor points out here, that we are losing tens of millions of dollars of tax revenue because we are not properly auditing businesses -- again, the overwhelming majority of the businesses in Ontario are clearly law-abiding and what not, but as soon as you make it easy for some to break the law, you are running the risk of creating a significant problem. Similarly with our community and social services.

The government has been in office 16 months, and as we look at things beginning to unfold, people are now legitimately asking questions around the basic promises. Where are the 725,000 jobs? Why aren't we seeing fewer people out of work in Ontario? What happened to the promise to not touch health care? Why did you put a charge on drugs?

To be fair, in the document there was at least one businessperson who spoke strongly about the plan. I wanted this to be a balanced presentation, because within the document there was a president of a company who said, "Having reviewed the Mike Harris plan, I am convinced that the tax incentives for people in business will help create an economic climate of dynamic growth and new jobs in Ontario." That was the only president who commented. Who do you think that was? That was Bill Young from Consumers Distributing. Consumers Distributing just went out of business, as I think most know. The one businessperson who lent his name to this plan of the tax scheme -- and I can understand why people making a lot of money would like the tax break, but it is at the expense of services for the province of Ontario.

By the way, when someone says, "Well, these things aren't related" -- the tax scheme, the tax break, is not related to the expenditure cuts -- that's not what you said. You said, "Balancing the budget is tied directly to every other measure in our plan." The tax cut and the spending cut --


Mr Phillips: Is that Dave Crombie over there barracking? Oh, it's Al Leach. Where is Crombie? He must be in the gallery here somewhere. Al Leach's lips are moving but Crombie's speaking.

Well, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who's waiting for somebody to give him an answer -- I guess he's waiting for Crombie to tell him what he thinks.

I appreciate Mr Leach, the former manager of the TTC, barracking there, but the fact is that you ran around promising that you would see 12,000 jobs a month created. It's not happening. You promised all the senior citizens in your riding you wouldn't put a user fee on drugs, and you've got one.


Mrs Boyd: And they'd keep rent control.

Mr Phillips: You promised to protect rent control.

You promised that you wouldn't cut health care, and now what we're finding is you've cut 20% from the budgets of the hospitals. You promised that you would protect people on health care. We now find the deal that I guess you've made with the OMA calls for people to have to pay for health services out of their own pocket now.

You promised that you wouldn't touch the classroom. I remember that. You got elected on this promise. Now what have you done? You've cut 25% from the support.

You promised we would see fewer people unemployed. There are 57,000 more people out of work right now than there were a year ago. Incredible.

I think many people in Ontario said: "Well, these people know how to manage things. They're the Conservative Party. They look like business people. They talk like business people. They must know how to manage things." Everything you're touching is falling apart. The family benefit plan. The health system is frankly in chaos. Mr Wilson is working as hard as he can. I know he's working. I'm feeling sorry for him. He's working weekends. Nobody's working harder than Jim Wilson. But he's having trouble getting this thing together.

The Minister of Education is creating a crisis a day. I don't think he thinks about what he's saying, because much of what he says doesn't make sense, so I assume he didn't think about it. If I were in the back bench, I would say: "Please, Mr Snobelen, take a holiday. Say no more. Let it calm down a bit." He must cause each of you 50 calls a day. He muses daily about the crisis in education, but the real crisis is this: They are cutting 25% from the support, and that will without question impact the classroom. The young people in this province are now paying 20% more in tuition fees than they paid a year ago, and that is having a dramatic impact on entrances for them.

What I wanted to say in an overview sense is that we're talking about supply, to give the government the finances to proceed to pay its bills, and of course they will get that approval because they have that right. But we in our party want to express our continuing and our profound disagreement on the basic fiscal plan of the government. We simply do not agree that the 30% tax scheme, one that benefits the best off, funded by deep, deep cuts far beyond what you promised, is the right approach.

It's now beginning to unfold that they're not delivering on the things they promised in the document. It's now beginning to unfold that perhaps the great managers aren't very good managers at all. As a matter of fact, almost everything they touch seems to begin to unravel. We in the opposition have tried to give some suggestions today on things they could be doing on the job front. Clearly the smart thing to do would be to say: "Listen, we are going too far too fast on our expenditure cuts. It is time to manage these things properly. Let's simply say," if you want, "the tax cut is going to have to wait. Let's just manage our finances on a much more sensible, reasonable basis." That's what I think they should do.

In the health area I think it is a mistake to cut 20% from the hospitals in a three-year period and expect them to manage. That's a fundamental mistake. In dealing with our doctors, I am more concerned today than I was a few days ago that we are clearly heading to a two-tiered health system in Ontario. If you are one of those people making $150,000 a year with a $5,000 tax break, you can buy what you need in health care. But for the normal, decent, hardworking people of the province of Ontario, this is a problem.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): By agreement we split our time, so I will use the remainder of the Liberal time to make some remarks about interim supply, though I must say I was watching some of this in another place and my colleague the very urbane member for Scarborough-Agincourt seemed to be agitating the treasury bench today in a way that is not his custom. I don't know whether it was the pointedness of his remarks or just the Thursday afternoon sensitivity of the government benches.

Goodness, I saw one after another popping up. The member from Brant I think was up and the member for Etobicoke-Humber was exercised, and someone else -- I think it was O'Toole from Durham wherever -- three of them. Not really what the member from Agincourt is noted for around here. So it must mean, I say to my colleague from Scarborough, that the government bench is a bit more sensitive these days than it might have been. It's about that time, I say to everybody's favourite populist from Rexdale, who seems to be exercised outside of his own seat. You see, I've been here too long to engage in these sort of easy partisan games.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Well, you don't do it in question period.

Mr Conway: No. Governments have to be held to account. I promise I'll never do the things Mike Harris did. I'll guarantee you that. I won't engage in those kind of tricks.

I find it interesting, the sensitivity. My friend from Mississauga South is underneath the gallery, and she was I think rightly concerned the other day about some -- I was going to say godless behaviour by some socialist that offended the British parliamentary traditions that we honour here on a daily basis. I thought to myself, it's a good job some of these Tories just don't remember the good old Mike Harris of yesteryear. But that's yesterday and I'm here to talk about today and tomorrow.

There are before the province today a number, I think, of very serious issues. I was interested by my colleague's comments around the jobs question. One of the newspapers that I read from time to time is the Sault Star. I was struck a few months ago -- actually it was in the spring of this year that the Sault Star did something that was very useful. It actually took a look at that northern Ontario city of 80,000 and did an analysis of the job losses in Sault Ste Marie as a result of provincial government cuts.

According to the Sault Star of Thursday, April 25, 1996, the Harris government cuts in that one city alone had cost the city and the Algoma region, but primarily the city of Sault Ste Marie, 500 jobs. Today we heard a couple of members of the assembly raise with the Minister of Finance a concern that's now abroad in that part of north-central Ontario, northwestern Ontario perhaps, that the government is considering privatizing the lottery corporation, and this of course would also have a negative impact on the job situation in that one community.

I was in my home community of Pembroke on the weekend, as I almost always am, talking to small business people. I was in talking to my accountant, a very good fellow, and I was asking him, how are things going? They're not going as well as, quite frankly, we all had expected. My accountant is quite a good fellow. He's been in business for over 20 years and he is in a very good position to take the temperature of the business community in our part of eastern Ontario. To be sure, this is not all the fault of government and, to be fair, to the extent it is a fault of government, it's not the fault of the provincial government.

But I simply raise the Sault Star story of a few months ago where 500 jobs were lost. I make reference to some anecdotal evidence in my part of eastern Ontario to the effect that the job issue remains for many people in this province, I dare say for most people in this province, the primary concern. There is simply not the confidence level yet in much of the Ontario economy to get things moving again in a way that we would all like to see.

I'm not here, again, to oversell what it is that governments can do, but it is very clear to me that the fiscal policies, I must say, of both the federal and provincial governments are having a negative effect in terms of job losses in the public and parapublic sectors, and in areas like my own it is rippling through the private sector. When I talk to car dealers, when I talk to furniture store owners, they tell me business is not what they had expected. Many of these people, to be frank, embrace the fiscal policy, or much of it, of the current provincial government --


Mr Wettlaufer: Do you want to repeat that, please?

Mr Conway: Well, I want to be fair. They are not people who are uninterested in some of the fiscal policy that the current provincial government is pursuing, but the reality for them in their place of business is that the stimulative effect that everybody was expecting is not yet evident.

I was down, as I sometimes am, in Waterloo county the other day and I must say that at least in north Waterloo there appeared to be a greater buoyancy than I found in some other parts of the regional economy in southwestern Ontario.

I was reading the Kitchener-Waterloo Record --

Mr Wettlaufer: That was your first mistake.

Mr Conway: Well, I used to read even more interesting things, I say to my friend from Kitchener, in the tab, that Southam paper where he seemed to be featured prominently. Boy, I wish I'd brought some of those clippings in here.

When I see government members saying on the front pages of their papers, in communities like Kitchener, "You cannot close the hospital, it saved my life," I understand that government policy is not just of concern to opposition members. I have been struck as I have travelled around the province recently at the number of government members who are recoiling from the Wilson-Harris juggernaut that is travelling around and about, from Ottawa to Thunder Bay, from Barrie to Sudbury, from Pembroke to Windsor, closing hospitals and threatening a variety of the other aspects of our health, social service and educational commitment.

Speaking about matters educational, I noticed -- and I think this is a very telling and disturbing trend. There was an excellent article the other day by Virginia Galt, the education reporter for the Globe and Mail, a front-page story headlined "Ontario Teachers California Bound." When we think about jobs, many of us think about young people; what kind of hope and opportunity we are holding out to young people. I thought the article from the Globe and Mail of October 21, 1996 -- as I say, headlined "Ontario Teachers California Bound" -- was an interesting commentary.

The Republican Governor of California, Pete Wilson, has embarked upon a $1-billion initiative to improve the public schools of that largest of the American states -- by the way, his initiative comes after years of Snobelen-like attacks and cuts -- and the California state public school system expects to hire something in the neighbourhood of 20,000 teachers in the next relatively short period of time.

The Globe story refers to a young man, Gary Pieters by name, a recent graduate of the University of Toronto faculty of education, who is just one of the best and the brightest apparently, an Ontarian, a proud product of our school system, of one of the professional faculties, the very kind of young person you want to have available for participation -- available for hire I guess is what I wanted to say, and he was available for hire but there simply were no jobs and no opportunities, so Gary Pieters is now bound for a community in California.

It's interesting that a big part of the California initiative is that they're going to produce a pupil-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 in the primary grades, the very thing the right wing in the United States and Canada was attacking in recent times. Now the Republican Governor of California, presumably with the support of his administration and the state Legislature, is making a massive investment of public moneys in the public schools of California, and a big part of the initiative is to ensure that in the primary grades -- grades 1, 2 and 3 -- there will be no more than 20 students per teacher.

It's very interesting, because that's the very kind of public school system that apparently John Snobelen is determined to attack and destroy.

The member shakes his head. I'm not here to provoke my friend O'Toole, like Phillips apparently did, but I have to say that if one visits our schools, if you talk to parents and if you talk to teachers, they are concerned about current and projected directions. To be fair, they're not very happy about some of what we've delivered over the last 20 years.

Here I will perhaps differ a bit from some of my own colleagues and perhaps from my friends in the New Democratic Party. I'll give Harris and the Tom Longs and the Guy Giornos credit for this: Whether it was in education or in welfare, they understood far better than the Liberals and the New Democrats what people were mad about and they did a very effective job at discerning and responding to the anger and the resentment and the concern that was out there in the community, particularly in areas like welfare, education and a few other areas -- no doubt about it. But I'm telling you, I don't think Mike Harris and John Snobelen have any mandate to destroy the public schools of Ontario. I am deeply concerned that in their hell-bent rush to meet some kind of right-wing ideological imperative, they are prepared to do that.

When I hear from friends in the educational community and old colleagues in the department of education about this very great interest in charter schools, I know what that's all about. That is the not-so-thin edge of the wedge that is going to undermine and potentially destabilize and destroy the public schools of Ontario. I am the first to admit that our public schools are not without problems, and they're not all the government's fault. Those of us as citizens, parents, teachers, yes, absolutely the teacher federation leadership, we all have a significant share of the responsibility for the imperfection that is causing the concern in the public. But I don't believe that gives any of us, most of all Her Majesty's recently elected Ontario provincial government, a mandate to destabilize and to destroy the public schools. There is a very great concern in much of middle-class Ontario today that this character Snobelen and his Einsteinian friend Harris are apparently willing to do that.

Mr Preston: That's fallacious.

Mr Conway: The bard of Brant-Haldimand, formerly of Grimsby, tells me that's fallacious. Well, we shall see what we shall see. Nobody thought that Gingrich would do the things he actually tried to do a year ago, but apparently he was not to be deterred in his enthusiasms.

I look at the health care area and I see something of the same. It reminds me, I watch this commission headed by the former dean of medicine at Queen's University, the very distinguished Duncan Sinclair, and they're making their way -- they started, interestingly, in the home town of my leader and colleague, Mrs McLeod, in Thunder Bay. They've moved now down into Sudbury, they have been to the national capital, and soon they'll be coming to a neighbourhood near you.

It's interesting hearing on a daily basis from the leader of the government, Mr Michael D. Harris, that there are no cuts in health care. I don't know very many people who believe that. I was in North Bay the other day talking to some of my friends, one of whom is a doctor of some years practice in that community. I'm going to tell you, he wouldn't accept the rhetoric of his member, not for a moment.

But it is an interesting proposition. We have this commission and they're moving around the province and they are going to -- they have. They've closed three of five hospitals in Thunder Bay, they've closed two of three hospitals in Sudbury. They are in the national capital.

Madam Speaker, I think there must be a bazaar to which I'm not invited.

The Acting Speaker: Could I ask the government members to please keep your conversations down? There are too many going on. And please take your seats.

Mr Conway: It is an interesting thing for me to watch this hospital commission. I know things have changed in the province. In some respects, they've changed very significantly. But when I read in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record that the local Conservative member is saying something to the effect of, "You can't close the hospital that saved my life," I see something that is understandable. When they get to the Willett or when they get to the Ottawa Civic or when they get to the hospitals in London or they get to some hospital in Etobicoke, I suspect all honourable members, irrespective of their political affiliation, are going to feel something of the urge that was articulated by our colleague the member from Kitchener city. It may be that times have changed since the day that Frank Miller set out to do this. Frank, you know, was going to close the Doctors' Hospital. Well, it didn't quite work out that way.


I was thinking the other day that Leonid Brezhnev thought that winters in Afghanistan were kind of inviting. Down the road he went and he got himself into those mountain passes in Afghanistan, and he just found that getting out of the Afghani winter passes was an infinitely more complicated, painful and life-threatening reality than getting in.

I see the puzzled look of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Let me say by analogy that I hope Mr Harris and, more especially, his Minister of Health don't, speaking metaphorically, find themselves caught in the winter passes of Afghanistan only to find that there is no easy retreat.

I remember the day that Larry Grossman opened the hospital that Frank Miller closed. We're going to find out something about the pain tolerance of members. I don't doubt that the intake of 1995, a very redoubtable and resilient and hardy bunch that they are, have an infinitely higher pain tolerance than those of us faint-hearted types elected 20 years ago. I am sure that when the hospital commission visits Oxford county or Etobicoke, our friends opposite will say: "Ready, aye, ready. Cut, and cut perhaps more deeply." But we shall see what we shall see. This is also about public opinion. It is about what the public views as appropriate public policy.

I see my friend the Minister of Municipal Affairs here, looking very serious, as is his wont, and my colleague from Oakwood is not here, so his blood pressure is evidently more stable. But we see the Harris mandate at work in the area of municipal restructuring.


The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Renfrew North please try to not provoke the government members. Government members, please come to order.

Mr Conway: The government's leading royalist, the member for Scarborough Canadian Tire, is being quite voluble, and not in his own seat.

When we look at municipal restructuring, I'm reminded again that I don't think there are very many people who would disagree that there are a number of efficiencies both achievable and desirable. I'm watching people in my communities in rural eastern Ontario come to terms with the funding changes, and there is a real degree of willingness to make change. The expectation on the part particularly of taxpayers is that we are going to restructure in a way that is presumably going to reduce the number of politicians locally, moderate and hopefully reduce the tax burden, and maintain a reasonable level of services. I think that seems to be the government's objective.

So I say to my friend from Oxford, we will be very interested to see the microapplication of the macro plan. You know, John White and Bill Davis 25 years ago had some of that as their intent. It's just that something happened on the way to the forum. Really, the only thing that saved the government's bacon at the time were these massive airlifts of government money sprinkled out over particularly the suburban hinterland of southwestern and south-central Ontario to keep the whole thing from just blowing up, and it very nearly did blow up. I mean, the sainted James N. Allan -- a finer person never came to this place -- lost his seat in the assembly in the election of 1975 because he could not explain in any coherent and effective way to the burghers of Haldimand-Norfolk that in fact the performance of the reforms met the promise of their offering some years before.

Al Leach is a different cat than that misguided Darcy McKeough and the late John White, because Al Leach has been around the circle. He knows you've got to deliver and you can't promise what you can't deliver. But I am going to be fascinated. I said to the minister sotto voce one day that north of Highway 7 -- I'm glad to see my friend from Hastings is here -- it is not going to be a small challenge to show the good people of eastern Ontario, particularly rural eastern Ontario, that you're going to be able to deliver what you obviously want to deliver.


Mr Conway: Pardon me?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): You have to negotiate.

Mr Conway: Oh, let me take this opportunity to say publicly what I've said privately. There's a vast section of eastern Ontario that I represent where you can make the rural townships as large as you want them. You can take one and you can make 20 of them. You've got a regional municipality where probably 60% of the land base is owned by Her Majesty in right of the government of Ontario.

You can, if you wish to remove the provincial grants, reduce them or eliminate them -- you might want to make some other changes -- but in that restructured world where we're going to have a more user-pay principle, if you think Her Majesty, in right of the Ontario government, as represented by the imperial authority of the Department of Lands and Forests, is going to escape some new costs, you have some thinking to do.

I don't say that mischievously. I think thoughtful people who look at these reforms understand that while changes are possible, we really have to change the business. I'm going to be very interested to see what the attitude of the Minister of Natural Resources is going to be as the principal landlord, as the principal property owner in the vast tract of the Precambrian Shield that you can find north of Kingston, east of Lakefield, west of Eganville and south of Algonquin Park. You can certainly make changes. You can retreat in some respects, but if you think you're going to be excused from paying some freight, you've got another thought coming.

I'm going to be interested to find out how small business people, cottagers, farmers are going to react. Trust me, I say to the parliamentary assistant from Oxford, they are going to understand very quickly that it is a different reality. There are fewer government grants and there certainly are going to be very great pressures to extract some taxes from provincial governments and provincial agencies.

It is my contention that we have had much discussion. There has been much advertisement of a new order, but whether it's in education or health care, we've not yet come to a point where there is an impact that is being felt by people in the community.

I read in the Ottawa press recently that the government is going to abolish school boards. That's going to be interesting. I know they can't abolish school boards, however desirable an objective that might be, and I know the government has access to very fine lawyers who will tell them there are at least two sets of school boards you can't abolish.

I keep thinking, because many opposite, like the very fine member for Oxford, have experience in municipal council, are there municipal politicians out there who want to take on to themselves the daily burden of explaining why the school bus got stuck in some far corner of Durham township and didn't show up at the farm laneway at 25 after 7, thereby backing up?


Mr Conway: He says there are. Well, that's a brave new world. I'm delighted. I will be happy to go to Oxford county. I want to meet these municipal politicians who want to take on to themselves that responsibility.

I think there is room for school board reform. Make no mistake about it. But the notion that we are going to simply transfer most of that decision-making either to some Toronto-based provincial bureaucrat or some kind of fuzzy-wuzzy local authority is, I think, going to be a very interesting experiment in altered local democracy.


I want to make a couple of quick observations about two other issues. The first has to do with video lottery terminals. I continue to be struck by the resistance of many people in my county of Renfrew, my city of Pembroke, about the government's headlong rush into this new business of electronic slot machines. There are some people with whom I have discussed the matter who find it just absolutely incredible that a Conservative government, a government that seems to pay some regard to family values, is so willing to embrace what we now know is an area where organized crime has had some very real presence and where, according to recent press reports, the legalization of these electronic slot machines, the crack cocaine of the gambling world -- the Tory government of Mike Harris and Bert Johnson and Ernie Hardeman and Rob Sampson and Dave Johnson -- St Dave of Leaside -- is actually willing to get into bed with this kind of activity. It's a kind of Faustian deal, apparently driven by the absolute necessity of getting the cash.

Reading the Ottawa papers in recent weeks, I've been struck by some of the commentary, some of it from church leaders in the Hull-Gatineau area, about the incredible problems they're having in that part of western Quebec with this casino, and they are real problems; they're not imaginary problems. You've got people running soup kitchens that are now shutting down because their source of income was a bingo that they ran to keep the soup kitchen operating so that people who had lost their shirts over at the casino could have a place to go and at least get a square meal. I think it's in Gatineau the bishop and other community leaders are saying, "We're going to shut down the soup kitchen because our source of income is gone and our source of income, the bingo, the local charity, is gone at a very time when our business is going up, when there are more and more people who need the services that we provide."

I know we've all been involved with gambling of one sort or another, I'm not here to be unduly judgemental, but surely we have an obligation to listen to what people -- whether it's the North Bay city council, whether it's the Anglican bishop of Niagara, whether it is the OPP, whether it's the anti-rackets branch of the RCM Police, we have an obligation to listen carefully to what they are saying about a qualitative advance into this gaming business. I repeat, very knowledgeable people are reminding us that electronic slot machines are the crack cocaine of the gambling world and we are, for whatever reason, going to embrace that crack cocaine with all of the attendant police worries about organized crime that have been repeated ad nauseam here in the last few weeks. To what end? Sure we will get a few sous, a few coins to get us through the night.

Someone once said it profit a man little to gain the world if in the process one sells his soul. Well, are we really selling -- if we are selling ourselves in this respect, I think we'd better pay attention to some of the consequences, not just social but economic and crime related.

I say very seriously, as the member for Mississauga South joins us, those of us in the opposition expect that pillars of the moral establishment like Mrs Marland and Ernie Eves and perhaps even the Minister of Natural Resources are going to, in the confines of either cabinet or the government caucus -- I say to the minister of Natural Resources, can you imagine the ghost of Leslie Frost going home on a Friday night and explaining to Gertrude that a Conservative government is going to endorse the electronic slot machines that are the crack -- can you imagine a Frost or a Davis Conservative embracing something that the cops have told us is as toxic? I find it very difficult, and I say in all seriousness that the people of Ontario expect some good sense and some moderate good judgement on this question.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments? Further debate?


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Yes, you do, as a matter of fact.

I do, at the outset, want to request unanimous consent to split this time among members of this caucus.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Can you tell me how many you're splitting it with?

Mr Kormos: It could be any number.

The Acting Speaker: All right. Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Kormos: It's called an omnibus split. But I'll be more specific. Specifically, the member for Dovercourt, the member for Fort York and the member for London Centre, among others. How'd I do?

The Acting Speaker: Please continue.

Mr Kormos: I've been listening to the comments from the members of the Liberal caucus. One of the nice things about being able to speak to one of these things is that it's relatively free-wheeling. I know that the Speaker's chair has become a little more rigid in the recent past. I hope that this new discipline coming from the Speaker's chair does not interfere with the somewhat unfettered nature of comments to these sorts of bills.

Unlike others, I'm not as inclined to support this, quite frankly. Here we are on the eve of what is going to be the largest labour protest, joined by friends and seniors and young people and students and the unemployed, yes -- and there are many of them; indeed more now in Ontario than there were a year ago -- the poor, and the families of the sick, who will be in the streets of Toronto tomorrow and on Saturday en masse, in numbers that have been unprecedented in most of our lifetimes, to clearly say no to a government that has said no to them, a government that's said no with indifference and smugness and arrogance.

You heard me earlier today, Speaker -- I know the Speaker got a little upset when I suggested that the Minister of Community and Social Services should get off her butt. The Speaker ruled me out of order. I stood here in response to the incredibly naïve statement by the Minister of Community and Social Services, and in response to that incredibly naïve statement I said that maybe the Minister of Community and Social Services should get off her butt and out of her limousine. The Speaker, of course, objected, as you know, to me saying that she should get off her butt. I then suggested, after withdrawing that, that maybe she should stop sitting on her brains. That Speaker got irate again, and I had to withdraw that.

So I'll not suggest now that this Minister of Community and Social Services, with an audacious statement to the House today, should get off her butt. It may well be what I feel in my heart, but I'm not going to say it, nor am I going to suggest that she should stop sitting on her brains, because I'd be unparliamentary. Even though I may feel it in my heart and know it in my soul, I'm not going to say it here, because if I did, you'd jump to your feet in a fury and insist that I withdraw and I'd be compelled to, somewhat meekly, stand up and say: "Speaker, I withdraw. Please, can I carry on with the rest of my comments?" So I'm not going to suggest either of those things, but you know what I'm thinking, don't you, Speaker?

I'm thinking the same sort of thing that a whole lot of people are talking about outside this chamber. People are shocked. I've received phone calls over the course of this afternoon, and I know that some of my colleagues have, about this $80,000 survey -- one of many and probably one of the less expensive surveys and polls that this government has engaged in -- that indicates that, by God, some people left the welfare system over a period of one month here in 1996.

I saw the Minister of Community and Social Services in the scrum outside. You should have seen her out there. There she was with the lights on her and the microphones in her face, and her little handler -- I'm sorry, I shouldn't -- but a handler tugging on her. The body language was oh so apparent: "Ms Ecker, get the heck out of here. This is coming to no good. You're not handling this very well." Indeed, twice the handler -- these are the staff that people like ministers have to try to keep them out of trouble. Lord knows it hasn't worked for many a minister in many a government. Not all handlers are equal. Quite frankly, maybe Ms Ecker, because I did call for her resignation, should just pose in the Sun and get it over with quickly. But her handler was tugging on her arm. Her handler was tugging on her arm and saying: "Ms Ecker, we've got to get out of here. This is coming to no good. The press are asking you questions that are revealing the shallowness, the meagreness, of the substance of this report.


Interjection: Take flight.

Mr Kormos: Yes. "Take flight. Get the hell out of here," was basically what they were saying to her, "before you dig the hole deeper." At one point the handler told the press: "Well, that's it. One more question." I believe it was the president of the press gallery -- is that Richard Brennan? -- who said: "Hell's bells. What do you mean, one more question? It was you who were late, Ms Ecker." What happens with these things, you've got to understand, is that some spin doctor from the minister's office called up the press gallery and said, "Ms Ecker is going to submit to a scrum at 11:15 outside the front doors of the chamber." That's how we knew about it, because of course it was well publicized for the press gallery. So we rushed up here. We wanted to hear what Ms Ecker had to say.

As it was, she was late, but the press waited because they anticipated that here is a minister, the Minister of Community and Social Services; $80,000 of taxpayers' money on this report, on this survey. By God, maybe there was going to be news. Well, there was news. As it ends up, the news was that Ms Ecker has no interest, no concern, no compassion and no plan whatsoever for relieving the poor and the unemployed of this province of the despair and tragedy of that poverty and unemployment.

She somehow suggested that it was something, by God, as if she herself had done it, and if not she herself then perhaps her predecessor Mr Tsubouchi, who's now the minister of slot machines. Yes, electronic slot machines in every bar and every tavern and every restaurant in every neighbourhood in this province. What's remarkable is that Mr Tsubouchi doesn't appear to have any greater a handle on the issues that are confronting him or his ministry as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations than he did as Minister of Community and Social Services.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Are you surprised?

Mr Kormos: No, that doesn't surprise me at all. It's sad, though, and incredibly pathetic in view of the challenges that real people out there and families and neighbourhoods and communities are facing after a year and change of this government.

Here we are, a government that apparently has as its sole objective the goal of transforming this province from one which, with struggle and with some sacrifice, was trying to ensure that every member of this provincial community had an opportunity to share in its economy. This government, with vigour, has been steamrolling ahead, creating two different Ontarios -- one for the very wealthy, for the blue-suited friends of Mike the Knife, Mike the Duffer, the friends of the Tories, the companies, the corporate -- you know what these people think when they talk about small business? When they talk about small business, they talk about somebody with 100 or 150 non-union workers making minimum wage. That's what the Tories' perspective of small business is. They don't know about the real small business of Ontario, the real little people, the Mom and Poppers.

In any event, the sole goal, the singular goal of creating two Ontarios: a very exclusive Ontario -- Speaker, please; thank you -- for the very wealthy, the élite, who will become wealthier as a result of the tax cut, the payoff that Harris and his gang are giving to the wealthy in this province, and an increasing number of poor and disfranchised, including increasing numbers of the middle class who are descending into a poverty that they in their lifetimes never expected to have imposed on them.

What has Ms Ecker got to say? She tells us, "Oh, people left the welfare system in June 1996 and they left it as a result of finding jobs." I called it a no-brainer. I didn't coin that. That was your colleague, the chief Speaker, Chris Stockwell, who from time to time made reference -- anyway, it's a great concept, that concept of a no-brainer. That's a Stockwellism. This is a classic no-brainer. For decades people have been going off welfare because they happen to find a job. There's no issue. So what's new? Please, for 80 grand, tell us something we don't know.

Ms Ecker waves this survey as if somehow suggesting that this government could take some responsibility for the fact that a few people happened to find jobs, but at the same time not acknowledging that just as there were people who found some work, there were also people who found themselves out of work and into the welfare system at the very same time. Ms Ecker doesn't want to talk about those people. Eighty grand for a survey and not a single penny of that $80,000 was dedicated to identifying those people who had to go on welfare in June 1996. No discussion by Ms Ecker of the 40% of respondents who were forced off welfare with no jobs available to them. That's the real story here. No discussion by Ms Ecker of the 11% of respondents in this survey, women with children, who as a result of her so-called welfare reform -- I must acknowledge that, with some candour, the authors of the survey agree with this -- 11% of them, women, most with little kids, children, forced back into homes occupied by previous spouses or partners that clearly they had left originally. The irresistible conclusion -- we know this, come on; this is real life -- was that they left in the first place because of the dangers inherent there, either the hostility or the abuse or the imminent or actual violence that was being imposed on them, women and their kids.

So Ms Ecker takes pride in forcing abused women back into abusive homes? Ms Ecker takes pride in forcing little kids back into households where they're going to witness violence or be the victims of it? She with smugness was proclaiming this as some sort of victory for the Tories. If that's a victory, I'll take the contrary any day, I tell you that. The fact is that there's nothing in today's survey, this $80,000 gem, that tells us anything about the reality of poverty in this province, in this community, here in the city of Toronto.

Ms Ecker didn't want to talk about the residents of Harrisville. You read in the papers -- and sadly I wasn't there. Lord knows what would have happened had I been. Surely you don't agree with this, Speaker, and I know that you'll speak up, using your office, to protest the arrest of 10 people yesterday. Do you recall that? Ten people were arrested outside this chamber yesterday who were protesting this government's inaction with respect to poverty and the homeless. They were charged with mischief.

If I dare for just a minute, let me explain what I understand the charge of mischief to be. It's damage to somebody else's property or to public property -- damage. If I go out into the parking lot and scratch your BMW with my car key, if I scratch your expensive European car with my car key, that's mischief. I understand that. That's damage to somebody else's property. Again, unfortunately, these things happen. If I destroy a park bench, that's mischief; that's damage to public property.

But let me tell you what the reports are as to what these protesters were doing. They were pouring some dirt, and where were they pouring it? On the ground, because they wanted to plant some seeds as a symbol of the desperation of poor people in this province and in this community. They put dirt on top of dirt. Do you get it? Do you get the irony of this? You, Speaker, in your position of authority, won't speak out against the injustice of 10 people being hauled off to jail for pouring a little dirt -- and it wasn't a volume of dirt -- on top of dirt and planting seeds. We take people to jail for planting seeds? Ms Ecker didn't want to talk about those folks.


I suggested to Ms Ecker that she should get off her -- well, rise and leave her limo and look poverty in its face. I'll tell you this: Ms Ecker is doing her ministerial duties right now, I understand that. She's being spinned or doctored or worked over or taped or retaped or dubbed or whatever it is they do nowadays to ministers to try to get them into fighting form.

People better understand. You know, it's incredible that in the midst of the growing poverty in this province, the poverty that is infecting every part of this province, that is infecting every community, that is infecting families who never, as I say, anticipated that drop to the bottom, in the midst of that here we have a gaggle of MPPs -- I mean, the lowest salary among us here is $78,000 a year. Let's make it clear: That's the base wage. The Tories, when they purported to engage in pension reform -- and I don't quarrel with the fact that there was some pension reform -- gave each and every MPP a raise in salary. They did. Mike Harris's Tories gave MPPs a salary increase, gave us a pay raise, and 78 grand is just for starters. All of the chairs of committees, the House leaders, the whips, the chairs of caucuses, the parliamentary assistants, the ministers -- you're talking about additional stipends of $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $25,000.

Here's Ms Ecker, Minister of Community and Social Services, expressing concern about poverty when she has a pretty health paycheque come the end of each and every month. She's got a paycheque that removes her from the realities of what it means to be a single mother with no income, forced to live on the allowance provided by the Family Benefits Act. She's removed from the despair of the homeless here on the streets of Toronto.

You know what's peculiar? I recall times when I called out knowing that this is a legislative broadcast and people get a chance to watch us. I recall calling out to people in the city saying, "Come on down to Queen's Park. Come to the committee rooms. Watch what's going on. Have a coffee on the house," so to speak, but you know what's incredible? Notwithstanding that here we are in this old wonderful building with all its nooks and crannies outside, you never see any homeless people huddled in any of the warm spaces around Queen's Park. Why? Because they're removed, they're sent on their way. It's somehow unseemly to have homeless people seeking shelter here at Queen's Park, either around the building or in the park areas beside us. They're hidden from us by the towers of Bay Street. They're in the dirty alleyways off of Yonge and Sherbourne and what have you.

I say to Ms Ecker that I'll go with her. She can come with me. Let's go meet some of these people, because I know that the Tories, as habit, lock their doors -- the doors of their offices here at Queen's Park, the doors of their constituency offices -- to the poor or their advocates. Speak to any advocacy group. Speak to OCAP, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. Talk to them about the frustration they've experienced in trying to bring the reality of this to Tory MPPs, be they backbenchers or ministers. Maybe Ms Ecker would be well advised to abate some of her arrogance and take up the challenge to see what it's like to be poor here in the city of Toronto or quite frankly anywhere else in the province, to hear what it's like --


Mr Kormos: No, not to find a job but to lose a job. We know, as I said, that unemployment is higher now than it was a mere year ago. There are simply more people without jobs. There aren't jobs to go to. Ms Ecker talks about the folks who left welfare into employment; she won't talk about how permanent those jobs are. Were they jobs for a week or two weeks? Were they jobs down there on Queen Street where you line up at 4 in the morning in the cold and in the damp and in the dew and in the fog wanting to know whether you're going to be hired that day on a delivery truck or in a warehouse or in a stevedore-type job? Are they jobs that pay even minimum wage?

Or are they the con jobs like the ads you see in the want ads? You've seen them, you've read them, "Call this number, send us a cheque for $50 and we'll guarantee you $150 a week." You've seen those ads, haven't you? They're sucker shots. They're con jobs, and the desperate send the 50 bucks in.

She won't talk about the permanence of the jobs, the quality of the jobs. She won't talk about the fact that people were going on welfare at the same time as her survey would tell us that, yes, a handful were coming off it. She won't talk about the fact that this government has absolutely no plan, no understanding of how to address the issue of poverty and joblessness, and quite frankly no interest in developing one. They simply don't give a damn.

I'm convinced their goal is to see the number of poor increase larger and larger. That's what it's all about, because the more folks you've got unemployed, the easier it is to reduce wages in this province. This government's indicated it's committed to effectively reducing the minimum wage by letting it stagnate so that the passage of time and inflation can erode the minimum wage to the point where it's reduced.

This government's indicated, with candour, with pride, its commitment to reducing work standards and protection for working people. It's been unabashed in its proclamation of its desire, its goal, to reduce the standards of working conditions for workers here in the province of Ontario. It's an attack on the Employment Standards Act and there's more to come. There's more down the tubes.

This government is intent on unravelling protection for workers and compensation for workers through a workers' compensation system. I met just yesterday with the Office of the Worker Adviser down in Thorold and a good 30, 35 community people representing any number of organizations who, with some fear, were concerned about the prospect of the Office of the Worker Adviser being downsized or quite frankly eliminated. I think that's in the books. That's in the cards. It's coming down the track.

I'm not as sure as some of the other members here that I'm going to be supporting this motion.

I'm going to be quite candid with you, Speaker. The opposition parties here are small in numbers. The Tories have got a caucus that's so big that these poor folk over here are in the rump. This is the gulag of the Tory caucus over here to my left. I know what you had to do in my old caucus, in the last government, to go to the gulag. I'm not quite sure yet what these folks did to find themselves in the gulag. What do you have to do in Mike Harris's government?

For Chris Stockwell, he got made Speaker. But I say to my 20 or so colleagues to my left, there can only be one Speaker. I'm sorry, guys. Chris Stockwell was one of a kind. I don't know what's in store for you. Mrs Marland is still waiting her turn. Just watch, if Stockwell screws up, Mrs Marland will be back on the ballot quick as a bullet.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Plenty of time.

Mr Kormos: That's right, there's plenty of time. Chris has been not bad so far. I think he's performed well.

We've got a Tory caucus here -- we know there are cracks. We don't have Bill Murdoch, the Tories do, and I'm glad the Tories have Bill Murdoch. People have spoken about --

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): You're in trouble now.

Mr Kormos: Bill Murdoch is my friend. He shows a courage and an integrity that quite frankly are not equalled among some of his colleagues. Bill Murdoch is not afraid to speak up. He knows there's only one Speaker to be elected from the Tory caucus. Murdoch knows he may well pay a price with his leader, but he'll reap his reward with his constituents.


I know there's dissent in the Tory caucus over issues like VLTs. Some Tory caucus members think they've been had, they've been hoodwinked, they've been taken. They got sold a bill of goods. They were told by the spin doctors, whoever does that work out of the Premier's office, and those ubiquitous overhead projectors and the cellophane transparencies, and there were the numbers on VLTs, and oh, it was such benign language: video lottery terminals. It sounded sort of like Pac-Man.

That was the purpose of calling them video lottery terminals. You should have heard the members of those committees: "Don't you dare call them slot machines. Mr Chair, don't let those opposition members call them slot machines." They were squealing and carrying on and they were just rabid at the prospect that we were referring to them as slots, which is what they are.

Tory backbenchers increasingly have been targeted by people in their own communities, confronted by picket lines or other imaginative forms of protest against this government's ultra-right-wing policies. I know there is more than one Bill Murdoch in that Tory caucus. There are other Tories who are as interested in being re-elected as Bill Murdoch is. Bill Murdoch is going to get re-elected. I have no hesitation in saying that.

I know folks up in his community. I know him. Look, I know that there are people who are not Tories who vote for Bill Murdoch because they admire his courage; they admire his honesty. They see his courage, his honesty, his integrity as being unique on the Tory benches.

In fact, people in his community regard Bill Murdoch as an exception among the Tory caucus, and I have no hesitation in saying that Bill Murdoch is going to get re-elected.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I don't know. It's a little riding to take that.

Mr Kormos: Well, maybe not to the provincial Legislature, but Bill Murdoch will do just fine. I can't say that about a whole number of other Tory backbenchers.

It's remarkable that in my relatively short career this is now the third government I've witnessed and been involved with -- I was going to say, "been in opposition to here at Queen's Park." But here we are and, honest, we've seen some of the older members like Sean Conway, who spoke before I did, and his colleague Gerry Phillips come and go. I saw Peterson's Liberal government here with a rump of its own, and God, they were cocky and arrogant and they knew it all and they followed marching orders and they were whipped oh, so readily and they were the trained seals with the balls on their noses.

But come election time, by God, they were gone. Speaker, it was the same attitude, some of the same language, the same cockiness and arrogance I've seen among some of these Tory backbenchers. Did I see it among the New Democrats in the last government? You bet your boots I did. You were here too. You saw it. You and I had more than a couple of conversations saying: "Look, you people should be a little more cautious. It is not some sort of divine right to hold a seat here at Queen's Park."

There's no secret about the fact that the New Democrats were defeated in the last election. But I tell you that if any of these Tories are thinking about making this chamber a career other than the briefest of careers of perhaps three and a half, four or four and a half years, some of these backbenchers had better start to change their tune awful quickly. I tell you, people are regarding them with an increasing scepticism, with an increasing concern about whether these Tory backbenchers are actually representing the views and the concerns and the wishes of the real Ontario or whether they're but hacks, taking their paycheques, 78 grand a year minimum, starting point, vying for positions of yet greater stipends, be it PAs or chairs of committees, and ready to do whatever they're told to do, whether it's the right thing or not, whether it's moral or not, whether it's fair or not, whether it's just or not, just that they can keep collecting a paycheque.

I'm not going to be supporting this supply bill because I think the job of opposition members is to express their opposition to this government in every way, shape and form and, in conjunction with the masses of people on the street tomorrow, the hundreds of thousands who are going to be here in Toronto, to bring this government down as quickly as we can. If by some happenstance, oh, perhaps the inability of the whip to bring its members out, we can bring this government down all the sooner, I say all the better, because every day of this government is inflicting damage on this Ontario that will take decades to recover from and to restore.

I'm not as enthusiastic about this bill as my colleagues are. I think this is a chance for opposition members to let the government know that people out there are saying no to this government in no uncertain terms.

Mr Marchese: I'm very pleased to speak on this resolution in supply.

Before I get into some of my comments, my colleague from Welland-Thorold, when he was talking about what constitutes a nuisance, said if the Speaker of the House owned a BMW and someone scratched it, that would constitute a nuisance and it would be a legal problem, it would be a mischief. I agree with that, except that if the reference may have been connected to the member for Riverdale -- I don't think it was, but if it were -- I just want for the record to say that she doesn't own a BMW, but the member for Riverdale would get awfully angry if somebody scratched up her bike. I wanted to say that for the record on behalf of my colleague from Riverdale.

I want to talk about aspects of the supply bill as it relates to the policies of the Tories and as it touches on the issues of jobs. There may have been another speaker earlier who talked about the promise this government has made to create 140,000 jobs a year. It was a commitment that I believe they're convinced about and that they believed would happen. The problem is, we're not seeing that. The problem is that it's all a myth because we are not seeing the kind of job creation that they spoke about, that they wanted the people of Ontario to believe would happen.

The fact of the matter is that we had some statistical information a couple of days ago that talked about jobs. It says that nationally the unemployment rate rose from 9.4% to 9.9%. In Ontario, where two thirds of the jobs were lost, the rate jumped from 8.5% to 9.2%. That's the reality we have in Ontario. The government speaks very proudly and smugly and with the usual arrogance about how many jobs they've created, but what we've seen here in Ontario is an increase in losses of jobs, an increase in unemployment, which jumped from 8.5% to 9.2%, and they speak very happily and smugly about that. I think it's a problem, Mr Speaker. I think you think it's a problem. Not only that, I think the unemployed believe that's a problem.

When we speak about numbers, the Tories speak abstractly about the great things they're doing. But concretely when we talk about unemployment, we're talking about people, families. We're talking about men and women and the children some of these couples have. We're talking about real people who are affected by the fiscal policies of governments in general.


I have to tell you, in my walks in my riding, nobody speaks with cheer about the unemployment rate. I see the unemployment rate staying at very high levels. I see them hovering around 9.5%, 10% for a long time. I see that the policies of this government are not working. They can talk with galloping glee about the great things they're doing, but it's not at all convincing those who are affected by the policies. I wonder who on that government side is worried about the unemployed. It's causing a great deal of psychological pain to people who are unemployed, but more importantly, it's causing a great many economic negative effects for those families who don't have the same means as they might have had they been employed. I tell you, it's a problem.

The Tories talk about how Ontario is open for business. They talk about how great they feel about the marketplace and how happy they are to get out of the business of almost everything and allow the marketplace and the private sector to take over, but when you look at the unemployment statistics, I'm not sure I would want to leave it in the hands of the marketplace.

This government and the Liberal government federally have supported free trade agreements in the past. All the free trade proponents, in this House provincially, and federally talked about the thousands and thousands of jobs that free trade would create. As I go around my riding, I ask people: "Have you seen the jobs that the proponents of free trade said would flow from free trade? Have you seen them?" They don't see it. The unemployed don't see it. People on social assistance don't see it. People who are working for a very minimum wage don't see it.

Recall the debate in the Mulroney days about free trade, when he talked about prosperity. The Tories love that word, loved saying their policies were going to bring prosperity to the province and nationally, but I haven't seen it. What free trade has brought us are fewer jobs. But we were led to believe by the bigger corporations and the mouthpieces, usually Tories and many Liberals, that it was going to bring prosperity and it was going to bring jobs to the province of Ontario and to Canada. The fact of the matter is, it hasn't worked. Globalization of the economy is supposed to help Ontario bring more prosperity, more jobs to this province, but it's not working. I don't see it.

GATT is an agreement that is worldwide. It's very much like the North American free trade agreement. It's the same thing. The GATT organization and the North American free trade agreement are supposed to bring greater prosperity and jobs. I don't see it. What we're seeing, what real people can see out there, are what people call the McJobs, McDonald's type of little things, or jobettes, all little service jobs that people are getting now. They're not bad in and of themselves, but I tell you, they're not great. It's by and large minimum wage. This globalization, this North American free trade agreement, these GATT agreements that world leaders are agreeing to are creating jobettes, little jobs that pay little money. What we're seeing is people losing their earning power and their spending power. Everybody else sees it except the Tories, especially those who drive in limousines. They don't see it at all, because they're too encased in their little offices and in their little cars to see the reality of the real world.

The Tories have another great scheme, and that's the income tax cut. They're very proud of it. They never answer our questions, as those of you who watch question period know. The ministers, without exception, never answer the question directly. Why? Because they know there is no good answer to the tax cut. When we point out that 60% of the income tax cut goes to 10% of the wealthier population, they don't respond to that. All they want to try to do is to convince the upper middle class and middle class that they're going to get a big tax break, and it's already happened. In talking to people in my riding, when I ask them, "Have you seen the tax cut?" they haven't seen it. That's because, by and large, we're dealing with people who don't earn a lot.

If you don't earn a lot of money and you only make $25,000, $30,000, $35,000, you're not seeing that tax break. But if you're the president of one of the five or six major banks, where you're making $1.9 million, by the end of the 30% tax cut, that individual is going to make $100,000 to $120,000 a year. That's where the money's going. It's not going into the pockets of the ordinary person, of the ordinary taxpayer who's making $25,000 or $30,000. He or she is not seeing a penny of that, because they are not getting much of that. That's the answer of this government.

When we point out that they've got to find billions, up to $10 billion or up to $20 billion, to service this tax cut, and we point out that they've got to find that money somewhere and that this "somewhere" has meant cuts to education, health and welfare, they deny it or they don't speak to the issue at all. They avoid it. Those who watch television will know that the members of government, the ministers in particular, never answer the questions specifically, in the way that we ask the questions, in the way that we say, "This will have some serious negative effects on our economy and on our services." But people see that.

I was talking to somebody today who said she turned on the television the other day, and she doesn't watch television regularly, but she said she was incredibly frustrated by one of the ministers not answering the question. It was the Minister of Labour. We kept on saying, "Answer the question," that our critic was raising. Over and over again, we kept on saying, "Answer the question." She, a skilled person who knows how to be completely evasive all the time, never answers the questions, because if she did, she would have to tell the truth. She would have to respond to the truth on all the questions that are raised around labour, the Employment Standards Act in particular, where they've massacred the Employment Standards Act and the minister denies it. The minister says, "We haven't touched that." Almost she says that with a straight face. It really puts me into a great deal of pain to see. She says, "No, we haven't affected that." Our critic says, "But you have," and enumerates a long list on where they have, and she denies it every time. It boggles the intelligence of most human beings.

Mr Christopherson: It insults their intelligence.

Mr Marchese: It boggles the mind, and you're quite right, it insults their intelligence. It insults ours certainly on this side.

The private sector, on whom the Conservatives rely a great deal -- and the Liberals to the same extent, because the Liberals federally say, "Oh, we don't create jobs." Before M. Chrétien got elected, he said: "Jobs, jobs, jobs. Elect us and we'll create them." Then he gets elected and says, "Oh, we don't do it; the private sector does." The Conservative government says the same thing: "We don't create jobs; the private sector does." What's the private sector doing? The private sector is downsizing. And although some are realizing the error of their ways, many are still committed to it, like the government.

We have an interesting example that I read in the paper just the other day of Al Dunlap, the former chief of Scott Paper. He told Newsweek he had little choice but to fire 11,000 people, 35% of his workforce, before walking away with a pay package of about $100 million. This is fascinating stuff. People get paid to downsize because they say it makes them more efficient, firing thousands and thousands of people going into a very weak economy where they're not picked up either by government or a private sector that's expanding, because the private sector is not expanding; they're being laid off.

The government says, "We should act like a corporation." So what does the government do? It says, "We're about to fire 13,000 people as well." Why? Because, they argue, it makes us more efficient.

I have to ask the public -- it's pointless asking the members of government because either they're not listening or they're so ideologically bent to the right that they are unable to straighten their thoughts about it; they can't really respond to this -- do you really believe that the policies of these corporations to downsize to the extent that they are are working? Secondly, who worries about those people who become unemployed? Thirdly, do you believe it's right for a chief, such as the one from Scott Paper and the like, to be able to fire thousands of people and then retire with millions and millions of dollars as part of their paycheque, as part of their contribution to firing thousands of people? Do you believe, general public, that's right? Do you then, to the same extent, believe that when this Conservative government fires -- they say 13,000, but we believe it's in the range of 20,000, if not, by the middle of their term, 25,000. Do you believe that's a good thing?


Yes, you might think that some of these civil servants shouldn't be there and in some cases it might be a good thing. But when this government decides it's going to fire up to 25,000 people, do you believe that sending them off to the unemployment roll is the answer, or subsequently to the welfare system as the other answer? I'm sure you don't believe that's the answer.

Where are they going to find the jobs when we've seen that here in Ontario the unemployment rate has gone from 8.5% to 9.2%? Who do you see picking those people up? The private sector is not doing it. Government has abdicated its responsibility because they say, "We want to be meaner and tougher, and we just want to get rid of people because we think we're too fat." That's all fine, but if that's the case, who is looking after those individuals?

These are men and women, not statistics, not mathematical figures, but real people who want to work, who need to work to feed themselves and, if they have families, to feed their families. Who raises those questions, and who takes care of those people?

Interjection: That's a rhetorical question.

Mr Marchese: It's not a rhetorical question whatsoever. It is an important question, a question that I know you, the listener, are raising and that politicians should be raising. If governments are not playing that role of worrying about what happens to people, who does? If governments abdicate their responsibility, who is left to look after people? When this Conservative government talks about individuals needing to pull up their bootstraps and start looking after themselves and they lose the sense of what we concern each other about and what we as communities have to do to protect our interests as communities, who worries about that?

I'll tell you, individualizing politics is not the answer, Mr Speaker. I know you're having a hard time with this, because I can see it in that quizzical look of yours, that squinting look. I know you're puzzled by it, because although you're the Speaker and neutral, you still have tendencies to the right. That hasn't disappeared, I know. But I tell you, someone has got to worry about those people. Someone has to. You, as the Speaker, would understand, because your role is to worry about all of us in this House, particularly the opposition parties, who are in a minority situation here. You understand the meaning of concern for all members, not just the government, isn't that correct? Yes, you nod approvingly. Of course it's correct.

Just as you play that role to regulate the business of this House, if the government doesn't play the role of regulating poverty and regulating wealth and redistributing it in ways that everybody can live with dignity, if the government doesn't do that, who will? It would be akin to you saying, "Sorry, opposition parties, you in particular, third party, I'm not going to worry about you because I've got a lot of government members to worry about," or "I'm just going to worry about some individuals but not the whole collective here." That would be a problem. You couldn't do that. You would be changing the role of the Speaker's office. You can't do that.

That's what we're talking about. We're talking about a government taking $8.5 billion -- and they've announced further cuts -- out of the economy. The government is an important player in the economy. You take $8.5 billion out of the economy and you're going to hurt it. More and more economists are saying that what the Liberals are doing federally by laying off 40,000 civil servants and what you are doing by firing civil servants and by taking $8.5 billion out of the economy is creating an incredibly weak economy. You are creating an incredible problem, an economy where people are taken out of the market, because when you take money out of the market you're taking people out of their jobs.

That's what you're doing. Every time you make a cut it's not just a program that disappears; it is a person who's running the program who disappears as well. When you cut at the municipal level, they are throwing people out of work and the organizations funded by them are throwing people out of work. What you are doing is weakening the economy. Wages are down, people are out of work, free trade isn't working, your tax cut is failing, and as a result we see higher unemployment in this province. It's gone from 8.5% to 9.2% in Ontario.

The Conservative policies of this province are failing the people of Ontario, not just us here in opposition. They're failing the people of Ontario. What we're seeing is that people are being hurt and they're organizing the Days of Action as a protest against Mike Harris and the policies of this government. His policies are hurting real people and they are responding to that hurt. We're going to see great numbers of people on the streets on Friday and Saturday, and the government can dismiss them as interest groups, but I think that movement is going to grow, and they will have to worry in the next couple of years as the movement grows.

I abhor the policies of this government and I think these policies are hurting us and I hope the people of Ontario are going to teach this government a lesson, and I hope not too far in the near future.

With that comment, Mr Speaker, I know there's a vote on this resolution, so I will end my comments thus. Thank you for your attention.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Any comments or questions? Are the members ready for the question?

Mr Eves has moved government notice of motion number 10. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until Monday afternoon at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1758.