36th Parliament, 1st Session

L120 - Tue 5 Nov 1996 / Mar 5 Nov 1996


















































The House met at 1333.




Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Between the years 1960 and 1975 approximately 40,000 Canadians joined the United States armed forces, many subsequently going to Vietnam. We now know of about 100 Canadians who were killed while serving in southeast Asia; another seven are listed as missing in action.

In the past several years Canadians who served in Vietnam have begun to form self-help groups to help each other and the families of those who did not return from southeast Asia. One of the main aims of these groups has been to have a memorial to those Canadians who paid the supreme sacrifice. Many of these family members cannot make the trip to Washington, DC, to see the memorial to their family member that is there, and they should be able to honour and remember their family member who did not return from southeast Asia in their own country, Canada.

For this reason, the Canadian Vietnam veterans wish to build a national memorial in Ottawa. Our government has land at the Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre in Ottawa. Canadian Vietnam veterans are now asking for the support of all MPPs in obtaining this land in Ottawa. I trust that Canadian Vietnam veterans will have the support for this land and monument from all three parties in order for them to accomplish their dream.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have here a number of letters from constituents in my riding who are very concerned about the so-called education reform that the minister keeps hinting about and we keep hearing rumours about. They are feeling very worried about the future of their children's education. They continue writing to me and writing to the minister and they still have not been involved in any way in the process of this so-called reform.

The minister, in the early days as the new minister, said to his staff that he wanted to create a crisis. That's what he's done, all right. He knew he had to find a lot of money, and now we hear that another $1 billion has to come out of the education system. But Metro representation on the committee that decided how to handle financing was not even there; there was no representation.

I also have a letter here from the chair of the Toronto Board of Education, David Moll. He starts his letter by saying:

"For months, rumours and insinuations about education have been seeping out of Queen's Park like toxic waste.

"The result: a thoroughly demoralized staff, confused students and parents and a waste of valuable time."

He goes on to say that he has been a lifelong Conservative but that he is not supportive of what this government is doing on education in this province.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I want to inform members of the House today that the Liberal Party flip-flop we saw during the past election campaign is alive and well in their leadership race.

On the issues of welfare reform and workfare, the member for Windsor-Walkerville says, "We have to look at programs that will help erase the cycle of dependency and return to meaningful work in the economy." It sounds like he is endorsing workfare. On the other hand, he says, "Workfare is dumb and simplistic." He is flip-flopper number one.

The member for York South, on the other hand, admitted that his party lost the welfare discussion in the last election because "We were not prepared to take a stand." We all know where he stands. Like a true Liberal, he wants to put more money into welfare. That is what he told a legislative committee on March 6, 1990. Even though the member for York South admitted that "Nobody wants to see someone get something for nothing," he says that "Workfare does not work." Flip-flopper number two.

But there is one Liberal who supports us. The member for Downsview said, "There is no doubt that the system needs to be reformed." Absolutely right, and our government is reforming welfare and ending the abuse so that money remains to be put into the hands of the most needy.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): The Ontario Hospital Association annual general meeting is being held in Toronto this week. The message from hospitals across the province is clear: They cannot cope with the $1.3 billion in cuts to their hospital budgets. Those cuts to our hospitals have already resulted and will continue to result in serious problems of access and quality for patients in Ontario. The health minister must not ignore these problems.

As hospitals struggle to meet the Harris government's $1.3 billion in cuts, nurses who provide essential care are being laid off; 15,000 nurses is a realistic estimate of service cuts. Patient care is suffering. Health services are declining. We see services such as chiropody being moved out of hospitals to clinics where patients are being forced to pay. I worry that we will see a rise in infection rates in our hospitals as housekeeping budgets are slashed and our hospitals become dirtier.

Our communities, patients, sick people are being hurt by the cuts that the Conservative government is making to our health care. I, on behalf of the hospitals and their patients across this province, call on the government to eliminate the announced 6% and 7% cuts to hospital budgets planned over the next two years. Stop your cuts before irreversible damage is done to our hospitals throughout Ontario.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My belief is that Ontarians believe that the two most important services they have are health care and education. This government has created chaos in both.

Let's take a look at health care: The hospitals have been cut by $1.3 billion; there have been thousands of layoffs; there have been service cuts; waiting lists are growing again. There's been a major decline in public confidence in our hospital system due to the cuts of this government.

Doctors' negotiations have been botched. One day the minister attacks doctors, the next day he praises them, and then he can't understand why his agreement wasn't approved by the doctors. The doctors of this province don't trust the minister, and they don't respect the minister.

In education, there has been $400 million worth of cuts, and the minister is fond of saying it's only 1% or 2%. The fact is, the $400 million worth of cuts represents 8% already of general legislative grants or provincial funding, and there's more to come. One day the minister attacks trustees and blames them for all their problems; the next day he appoints Leon Paroian and the whole exercise is a major attack on teachers. The system is completely destabilized and is having a dramatic negative impact on the quality of education of our students.

Health and education make up very important aspects of this province for the way we live, work and the way that people invest. This government is destroying the province.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I recently had the pleasure of announcing on behalf of the Minister of Education and Training, the Honourable John Snobelen, that the new Niagara College Glendale campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake would go ahead. It's a tremendous undertaking. My government is providing $27 million towards this project in addition to the $5 million the college has already received.

This investment, like other post-secondary investments already announced, proves that this government cares about students, this government cares about post-secondary education opportunities and lifelong learning, and this government cares about economic development and jobs.

The entire Niagara region will benefit from this announcement. Immediate jobs will be created as well as spinoff investments for every single Niagara municipality.

There is no doubt about it, the approval of the Niagara College capital project proves that this government is spending wisely, with major human and job dividends as a result. There will be jobs in roadbuilding, construction, the trades, the purchase of equipment and furniture, and students and potential students visiting or relocating to our area will require transportation and housing.

The decision to approve the Niagara College capital building project proves that this government cares about the people of this province, its taxpayers, its businesses and its students.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm pleased to stand today. Yesterday in the House, I was able to ask the Minister of Health a question regarding the women in my community requiring obstetrical services who are looking for obstetricians.

I might tell the minister if he doesn't know, although we've told him several times, I currently have 75 women in my community who do not have an obstetrician who are pregnant. Many of these women also have landed immigrant status. The problem with that is that while the minister attempts to tell women in my community that they can just "pop across the river" to deliver a baby, it is completely unreasonable.

We have to find a way to get the Minister of Health to understand how critical it is. Those of us in this House who have gone through this procedure before, or whose spouses may have, recognize the urgency of delivering a healthy baby. You have significant issues related to prenatal care and significant issues related to delivering a baby. We need to stress to the minister that it is paramount that he resolve this issue. Telling the people in my community maybe one day we'll have a clinic is not enough.

He suggested yesterday that I wasn't being positive. Let me share with the Minister of Health when this member for Windsor-Sandwich will be positive: when we positively see a clinic set up in Windsor, when we positively see obstetricians move to our community to accept the workload, when we positively see that women in my community --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I was at the announcement in Niagara-on-the-Lake where the member for St Catharines-Brock confirmed what had been announced by the last government: its commitment to building a new college for the Niagara campus on that location in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It's remarkable that the people in the Tory caucus think they can hoodwink the public anywhere in Ontario -- least of all in Niagara region. Their Ponzi game isn't going to fool anyone. The reality is that at first people in Welland-Thorold were just fearful of what was being done to health care, education, day care and child care as a result of this government's commitment to a tax break for the wealthiest people in this province.

They've moved beyond merely being fearful to angry and mad. People in Niagara region are not going to tolerate the attack on public institutions this government has waged since its election in June 1995. No amount of spin doctoring, doctored-up polls and surveys, advertising and glad-handing is going to overcome the bad taste that's been left by this government and its backbenchers as they engage in this systematic attack on our public education, public health care and jobs.

People in Niagara know that unemployment in Ontario is higher now than it was a year and change ago when these Tories were elected. They don't buy it any more and they're going to make their views known come next election.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I rise in the House today to show my appreciation to the people of Perth, and the town of St Marys in particular, for the mature way in which they're addressing the proposed restructuring of the health care system in rural Ontario.

Last Wednesday I attended a meeting in the town of St Marys to address some of the questions surrounding the restructuring process. Although emotions surrounding hospitals often run high, the meeting was well run and the information that came out of the meeting was definitely useful to all.

I was encouraged by the turnout and the desire of all within the area to take part in the process of maintaining a viable health care system.

The Huron-Perth District Health Council is presently reviewing the provision of health care in the area and is expected to determine where the priorities are for Perth. The people of St Marys have made it clear that they want to be part of this process. I commend them for their initiative and support them in their effort.

We, as government, have made a commitment to the provision of health care services and the wellbeing of the people in this province. I am proud to say that the people in the riding of Perth are working together to ensure that this goal is achieved and health care is affordable and available to all who need it.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House that the Clerk has received a favourable report from the commissioners of estate bills with respect to Bill Pr35, An Act respecting the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

Accordingly, pursuant to standing order 86(e), the bill stands referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills.



Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I rise today to inform members of another major initiative launched in conjunction with Crime Prevention Week and Domestic Assault Prevention Month.

This government believes that all Ontarians have the right to feel secure in their own homes, neighbourhoods and communities. We are committed to community safety, strengthening victims' rights and building a swifter, more effective justice system.

I am pleased to announce that we are keeping these commitments. Beginning immediately we will launch a major attack on the backlog in the criminal justice system in the six most heavily burdened provincial court locations: Newmarket, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Brampton and Barrie.

The backlog in our criminal courts is a long-standing problem that must be continually addressed. If we don't take action now to reduce the backlog, serious cases could possibly be thrown out of court because of undue delays. Criminal cases should not be thrown out because of undue delay. That is unacceptable to this government. The government is taking proactive steps to ensure that cases are dealt with properly. Some 40 ministry staff, including staff from our head office, are being assigned to special blitz teams to assist local prosecutors in speeding up criminal cases and to clear up the backlogs in our criminal courts.


The blitz will see prosecutors and court officials working together with victims, judges and police in order to open more courtrooms where serious, violent cases will be treated as a priority. This initiative will make the courts in these problem areas more efficient and move cases through the system more quickly. We will make maximum use of existing staff courtrooms and resources. We will work cooperatively with the judiciary to find alternative sites, in town halls or portables if necessary, for these cases. This six-month blitz will begin first in Scarborough and will be fully operational in other jurisdictions within weeks.

This is just the first step in addressing the systemic problems of long-standing court backlogs. Over the coming months, we will be working to identify viable long-term solutions to make the criminal justice system more efficient and help prevent a buildup of cases in the future.

This blitz is a cooperative effort. Crown attorneys are working in cooperation with our partners in the justice system: victims, judges, the defence bar and the police. This morning at Scarborough's criminal courts, I was joined by Chief Judge Linden, Judge Patrick Shepherd of Scarborough, Crown Attorney John McMahon and Chief of Police David Boothby, chief of the Metropolitan Toronto Police, to launch the blitz at the criminal courts. The special teams work with local prosecutors and court officials to assist them in moving cases through the system more quickly.

By clearing the criminal justice system of these backlogs, we will make sure that our community stays safe, victims' rights are strengthened and that we continue to enjoy swifter, more effective justice. Safe communities enhance our quality of life, which is key to promoting jobs, investment and economic growth.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Gee, you guys are absolutely amazing over there. My colleagues were just saying that you would think the Attorney General has swooped in like a caped crusader coming in here to fix a big problem. Why is there a big problem? Because you created it, just like your Minister of Education created a crisis. It's the way all your ministries work: Create a crisis and then come in like the big hero, "We're going to clean it up."

Why is there such a backlog in the courts, Minister? I'll tell you why. Because despite the promises that you're going to be cutting down on hard-core crime, your government announced over $19 million in cuts to the criminal justice system this year. These cuts included a $600,000 funding reduction in major criminal law prosecutions and the planned elimination of one third of the crown attorneys. In January 1996, the three senior justices in Ontario took the very unprecedented step of writing to you about the major problem in Ontario courts. Last April, your government announced $120 million in justice cuts, of which $60 million and 600 jobs came out of the Ministry of Attorney General office. So you're creating the problem.

Since early this year, Ontario crown attorneys have been warning that thousands of criminal cases would be jeopardized if the government went ahead with its planned elimination of one third of the province's crown attorneys. Although the Attorney General eventually backed off on his plan to fire those 160 crown attorneys, we do know that we've lost 20 through attrition and you're not replacing those women who go on maternity leave, so you're starting to reduce the number of crown attorneys in the province.

Just a few weeks ago, in a leaked confidential memo from Madam Justice Susan Lang, she described also the chaos in the courts in Ontario, including incidents of lost files, long delays and missing evidence, all due to the budget cutbacks. We know that delays threaten 50% of criminal cases in Metro, but 542 cases have been in the system for more than eight months and risk being thrown out because of long delays. This crisis is a direct result of your budget cutbacks of this year. You created the crisis, Minister.

Despite your promises on taking a hard line on crime, it is clear that with the Harris government, the cuts come first. That means that something else has to give. In this case it looks to be our criminal justice system. Of course, it's important for victims to see that justice is done swiftly and surely, and nothing could be more detrimental to the legitimacy of our criminal justice system as a whole and nothing is more likely to throw it into disrepute than the prospect of hundreds of cases being dismissed out of hand by our courts.

But the Attorney General is not the hero here. You're not the hero here. You have not swept in on the white horse with your special blitz team to solve this problem and snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat, as you would have us believe. The truth is that this government's shortsighted thinking has gotten us into this mess in the very first place and many of these cases would not have been jeopardized if the government had not made the indiscriminate cuts to the criminal justice system. There are simply not enough people and not enough resources in the system to process those expeditiously and in a timely fashion. This is why we have a backlog of criminal cases in Ontario. So, Attorney General, why don't you put the money back?

We are glad these cases now are not going to be lost, because it would be a tragedy for the victims of crime all over this province. But we don't think the government should be congratulated for coming up with the idea of this major criminal court backlog blitz. Instead, you should be criticized for making those cuts in the first place that caused this crisis. Ultimately, it will be the victims of crime who will pay the price for this crisis in the courts.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm pleased the Attorney General has finally responded to the real concerns that have been expressed again and again about the growing backlogs in the courts and has done something at least in these particular courts that he's mentioned -- Newmarket, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Brampton and Barrie -- where I understand the backlog lists are probably well beyond the danger level. It is good to finally see some action being taken to deal with those.

I guess having a special blitz sounds very impressive to people. One of the real issues that is involved is whether or not it delivers justice services appropriately.

One of the problems with blitzes is that defendants have defence counsel who are usually, if you talk to defence counsel, booked many months in advance. Having a blitz that begins virtually immediately and then is going to spread to these other areas will cause real difficulty for defence attorneys who are defending defendants who are caught up in that kind of situation. I'm afraid, having had experience while we were in government with trying to clean up a mess that was left in the courts, that it is certainly easier said than done and the actual results will be something that people will be looking at.

The other issue of course is that of making sure that all of the court documents are present, that all of the evidentiary matters are present, that disclosure has happened properly, that all of those matters have been taken care of in a way that does not jeopardize the successful prosecution of those cases. I can tell the Attorney General from experience that when you take as many people out of the court system as this Attorney General has had to to meet the cost reductions that are there, very often that nitty-gritty support work to keep the courts going is what creates the havoc in the courts. All of us have read the newspaper accounts of files not being available, of witnesses not having been served, of the problem around defence attorneys having been scheduled in other courtrooms and having a conflict when this kind of thing goes along.

So I would say to the Attorney General that I think it's a good thing that he has begun, but he is going to have to monitor very closely whether the additional costs -- and of course there will be additional costs. Let's not kid ourselves. We're talking about 40 additional staff from the Ministry of the Attorney General alone. When you add the overtime for police officers, police officers who I would say are probably scheduled long in advance -- I've done as a job-shadow exercise the scheduling in courts and know that it works with the duty time of the police officers on the cases. One of the issues when you do a blitz is that you suddenly put into the picture another whole set of court dates that may conflict with off-duty time of officers who are essential to the success of the case. That is a real concern and something the Attorney General will have to keep his eye on.

I'm pleased that the Attorney General is finding Chief Judge Sidney Linden as cooperative as I always did in trying to deal in a timely way with scheduling issues in the courts. But it must be a real stretch for the Chief Judge to take that cooperative position given the number of vacancies that currently occur at the provincial level. There have been many vacancies on the bench at the provincial level that have not been filled despite the fact that the appointments advisory committee has put forward appointments advice to the Attorney General. It obviously hasn't been to his pleasure and he has not made the appointments of the judges that are needed in order to continue this kind of situation. There are real concerns around the actual strength on the bench to deal with day-to-day matters, never mind to assign people additionally to this kind of blitz. That's a very important issue for the minister to keep in mind if he expects this to be successful.

The last issue, of course, as I read the Canada NewsWire report from the announcement this morning, was that the minister does have assurance from the federal Chief Justice that the General Division court will cooperate in Brampton and Newmarket. A lot of these cases are going through in other jurisdictions. If these are preliminary hearings that are happening and they get moved on to General Division, it is going to be necessary for the federally appointed judicial system to exercise a great deal of generosity with the province of Ontario to ensure that these cases actually move through the whole system.




Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Premier, who is ultimately responsible for all major decisions the government makes. There is a growing concern in this province about your determination to place video lottery terminals -- that is, slot machines of electronic nature -- in every restaurant and every bar in every neighbourhood in Ontario.

When you were in opposition and even during the election campaign, you and Ernie Eves, your Treasurer, made compelling and angry speeches about the expansion of government-run gambling ventures and activities. I admired and agreed with and applauded those speeches, and so did many residents of this province.

Premier, in the face of all the evidence from police and other experts in the field of gambling addiction, why are you continuing to force this major escalation of gambling on the province of Ontario?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'm happy to have the question and respond. There may be other details for which, in subsequent questions, the Solicitor General will have information on enforcement, or the House leader. Let me say generally that while I accept accountability and responsibility for the actions of the government, you would know that I don't make all the decisions.

Mr Bradley: Yes, you do.


Hon Mr Harris: Clearly, that's why we have a cabinet, why we have a caucus --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Harris: That's why we have a cabinet and why we have a caucus and why we have a bureaucracy and why we have a Legislature and why we have partners in municipalities, school boards and, of course, hospital boards and colleges and universities, but I accept the premise that as leader of this government and as Premier of Ontario I will answer and accept responsibility. The member indicated that we are embarking on placing video lottery terminals in bars and restaurants, and that's not the case.

Mr Bradley: I detect a shift in the Premier's position, but I want to continue with this line of questioning. This morning at a press conference in this building Rev Karl Burden, the head of Concerns, Canada, which is the oldest not-for-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of addiction in Canada, stated what so many in the police and addiction prevention community have said, and I want to quote him:

"Video lottery terminals are particularly seductive. They've quickly become known as the cocaine of the gambling industry because they provide an immediate rush, similar to the one experienced by cocaine addicts. This form of gambling is particularly addictive for young people because it marries the rush of old-fashioned one-armed bandits with the bells and whistles of the video arcade."

Karl Burden is stating what virtually anybody knowledgeable in the field of gambling addiction is saying, that your government is moving into the dark and murky waters of neighbourhood gambling. Premier, will you do what is right, now, and not what is expedient? Will you withdraw your VLT bill and show true common sense?

Hon Mr Harris: As I indicated, the VLT bill allows the government to proceed as eight other provinces have proceeded. It allows us to regulate and exact strict government control over any VLTs. As you know, the government has announced its intention to proceed with VLTs in permanent charity halls where proper control can be exerted, as cannot be in the three-day rovers right now, and also at racetracks, where there is gambling already.

It is the government's intention to provide more resources to clamp down on what some estimate to be in excess of the number of VLTs that we're talking about, operating illegally with no controls. It is our intention to do all the things we think will provide for fewer machines and better control of the whole industry, as eight other provinces have done in the country.

Mr Bradley: I hear a retreat in the Premier's answer and I want to commend him for that retreat, because clearly he's now understanding what neighbourhood gambling is all about. I know that you have a tax cut and as a result you have to make up revenue. It's extremely attractive to have hundreds of millions of dollars potentially coming into government coffers. But, Premier, you will be exacting a tremendous and awful price on the social fabric of this province in proceeding with video lottery terminals in every bar and restaurant in every neighbourhood in this province.

Are you really prepared to pay the awful social price of placing these electronic slot machines where the addicted and the young can get at them easily or are you now prepared to withdraw your bill and amend it and not allow these electronic slot machines in every bar and restaurant in every neighbourhood in Ontario?

Hon Mr Harris: There's no need to amend the bill. There is absolutely nothing in the bill that would allow them to be easily accessible to young people. Second, as long as our party is in power you can rest assured that this government has no intention of proceeding to make them available, for young people, in every bar, neighbourhood and community.

In trying to bring better control, better policing, bringing resources to bear, as opposed to the illegal terminals, which are now estimated to be in excess of what we're talking about, not everybody agrees with the information being propagated by the Liberal Party, NDP -- one and the same. In fact, according to the Addiction Research Foundation there is currently no credible research available to support the suggestion that video lottery terminals are any more addictive than other forms of gambling. Because one or two people say it and you repeat it, that does not make it so.

The Speaker: New question, official opposition.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is also to the Premier. Premier, you said there's a difference of opinion. Let me tell you something. This weekend Insight Canada Research, on behalf of Concerns, Canada, one of the oldest anti-addiction non-profit organizations in the province, and the Ontario Liberal caucus asked Ontarians what they thought of your plans to bring video slot machines to bars and restaurants in Ontario.

The results are clear: 62% of Ontarians oppose your plans to bring video slot machines to every bar and restaurant in every neighbourhood, and a majority of Ontarians believe it will not prevent crime; only 2% of Ontarians have bought your line on this issue.

Premier, will you listen to the very real concerns of ordinary Ontarians? Will you scrap your plans to bring video slot machines to every bar, restaurant and neighbourhood in Ontario?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the member will know that other than in the casino in Windsor and the casino at Rama and the proposed casino at Niagara Falls, there will be no video slot machines in Ontario.


Mr Crozier: That's certainly a retreat, and I want that on record. You didn't have a mandate to do it and I'm glad you've said that. You haven't fooled anybody, Premier, until today when you said that. Sixty-two per cent of Ontarians, I repeat, think your plan to bring video slot machines to every neighbourhood and bar and restaurant in Ontario is wrong, dead wrong. People know this has nothing to do with fighting crime because a majority of Ontarians don't believe it will eliminate the illegal machines. You're so desperate for cash for your tax cut for the rich that you've had to go this route. Premier, will you tell us again that you will not put any video slot machines in any bar or restaurant in any neighbourhood in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: What we've indicated is this -- if that's the question that you asked the voters, then let me be very clear. The slot machines will be in the licensed casinos that have been brought forward -- Windsor, in Rama and then also in Niagara Falls. Secondly, the video lottery terminals, which are quite different, this bill will allow those to go into assorted places within the province of Ontario. They're outlined in the bill, of course.

What we have also indicated is that it is our intention to begin with no video slot machines anywhere, of course -- those'll only be in the casinos -- but with video lottery terminals of the kind that are now over 20,000 operating illegally. They will be introduced into the controlled environments of the permanent homes that will replace the three-day roving casinos, and into racetracks. That will be evaluated. We'll report back to people and analyse that before there would be any expansion into any other location.

Mr Crozier: This gets interesting. Let me tell you this: 51% of Ontarians believe your plans to bring video slot machines to every bar and every community of this province will lead to more crime, but they're not alone, unlike what you said earlier. Chief Fantino, head of the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, says this will lead to more crime. Paul Gottschalk, the acting staff inspector, special investigation services, the Metro police, says this will lead to more crime. Even OPP officers who work for the Solicitor General say your plans to bring video slot machines to Ontario will lead to more crime.

Premier, can you tell me today that you're ignoring the concerns of ordinary Ontarians who believe that your video slot machines will cause more crime and are you ignoring the law officials of this province who say it will in fact bring more crime?

Hon Mr Harris: I realize you've wasted all this money asking people about video slot machines that are in the full-blown casinos, but what we are dealing with is video lottery terminals, and yes, there are some people who have opinions that they do not believe that in fact it will deal with organized crime. However, I might pass on to you that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police believe that legalized gaming can serve to curtail illegal gaming and corresponding criminal activities. That's chaired by Tom O'Grady, OPP commissioner, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the union. This is Paul Walter, president of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association. He says legalizing VLTs will have a severe financial impact on these criminal organizations. So both --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier. New question, third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Health and it concerns some comments he made in the House yesterday. He said yesterday that he was very sensitive to the needs of remote northern hospitals with respect to their special circumstances and their need for unique funding formulas. That's what you said.

I want to ask you about Atikokan General Hospital. It has a $3-million operating budget. You've cut them $80,000 this year. In an effort to maintain services, they're already being forced into a deficit situation, so that next year they could face a shortfall of $280,000.

They put forward a plan showing how they would retain the services for the community, and your ministry rejected it. It showed no sensitivity to them whatsoever. Basically, what you said to them is, "Despite the fact that you're two hours away from any other health care centre, cut your rehabilitation services." That's what your ministry said.

By telling small hospitals like this that have no alternative for the community that they should cut, no matter what, is that showing sensitivity to them and their patients?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'd be very pleased to check into the facts of this particular situation, but I would say that my comments of yesterday certainly stand in terms of the special consideration that was given to rural, remote and northern hospitals, in terms of the joint policy and planning committee's funding formula that was developed for last year, and I expect the same consideration will be given to those same hospitals by the JPPC as they develop a new formula for the next fiscal year.

Mr Hampton: I can give you some of the facts. This is a hospital that has only three people working in administration. It has no more than 50 nurses, most of whom are working on a part-time basis. This is a hospital that is faced with cutting its rehabilitation services because of the cutbacks you've imposed on them.

I just want to turn to Windsor. Last week the Windsor Regional Hospital announced the elimination of 90 positions. Staff from across the organization will be affected, including some 30 to 40 nursing positions. Why? It's because of the cuts to the operating budget that you've imposed, and your response to the media was that Windsor Regional Hospital is not allowed to do this without your permission.

You told them that they weren't allowed to make these cuts without your permission, but we talked to them and they said they've got your permission; in fact they've got your direction to make these cuts. This is happening despite the fact that this regional hospital has already gone through restructuring. They've already worked with their numbers.

Minister, are you going to reinstate their funding? They're going to lose basic services as a result of your cuts.

Hon Mr Wilson: At the time the reporter asked me about Windsor -- I don't walk around carrying all 219 operating plans in my head. I will echo some of the comments made during the leader's question, though. The only one who cut health care in Windsor in terms of beds was the NDP government. You cut hundreds of beds out of the system in that part of the province, and we're now responding with getting rid of the waste, administration and duplication that you forgot to do.

The plan put forward by Windsor is their local plan. Yes, the ministry approved the operating plan and I want to publicly thank the health care leaders in Windsor, the union leaders, who, before we approved their operating plan, showed a 50% reduction in administration. It's one area of the province that's consistently ahead of many other areas of the province. They've cut their administration and now they're restructuring the delivery of their services. There's no evidence in their operating plan or anything I've heard from the health care leaders in the Windsor area that direct patient services will be affected in a negative way. If that's your contention now, I want to hear the facts.

Mr Hampton: This is all about the minister's contention that there have been no cuts to health care in this province. The fact of the matter is, you can take remote hospitals in northern Ontario or you can take hospitals in urban Windsor, and cuts are being made in all of those communities and people are being affected. This is about the fact that you can't have it both ways. You've taken $365 million out of hospitals this year. Then you turn around and you tell people that services won't be threatened. Then you turn around and tell hospitals that are trying to protect the service that they can't run a deficit.


Yesterday you said you were being sensitive to northern Ontario hospitals that have a remote situation. I give you the example of Atikokan, where you're not being sensitive at all. You're telling them to cut their rehabilitation services. That's what this is about. Do you realize that despite all your efforts to spin it, you can't have it both ways?

The fact of the matter is that community after community is losing health care services and you have no plan -- no plan with respect to the doctors, no plan with respect to the nurses, no plan with respect to the Ontario Hospital Association that's going to bring it all back together. What are you going to do?

Hon Mr Wilson: Specifically in Atikokan, you should know that ministry staff met on September 17 with the representatives of that hospital and made some suggestions in terms of efficiencies. No decisions have been made and we're waiting to hear back with respect to suggestions that were made by staff to the health care people at the Atikokan hospital.

Secondly, I don't know, my version of history must be entirely different from the honourable member's. I spent 16 months having the privilege as Minister of Health of making announcements in terms of improved health care in community after community, whether it be the community investment fund, the new dialysis clinics, the new heart surgeries, the opening of paediatric oncology units, cardiac stents, some 45 announcements in communities, many of them in opposition members' ridings, where I notice that during the week of the announcement, in their local papers they give the minister and the ministry and the government credit for having filled service gaps.

We're doing that across the province in an unprecedented way, including making sure we have doctors with emergency rooms. I was confronted with 67 emergency rooms that were closed or closing as we came into office, but 70 emergency rooms in rural and northern Ontario are now open because of the reinvestments this government has made.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Education and Training. The Minister of Education tried something cute here yesterday. He had his researchers take the time to figure out how many days had been lost to collective bargaining disputes with teachers. What he forgot to mention was that the days that have been lost over the last 20 years amount to less than 0.2% of all the instructional student days over the last 20 years -- less than 0.2%.

We made some phone calls yesterday. One of the people we talked to was Tracy Martin, who lives in Kitchener and has a six-year-old who attends grade 2 in Kitchener. Ms Martin was asking about her daughter's school day, and she was told, "Oh, we don't go to the library on Mondays any more because of cutbacks." Minister, when a six-year-old child realizes that your cutbacks are affecting her education and curtailing her education --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Minister of Education.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I actually find it somewhat shocking that the leader of the third party would see a report or read a report that indicates quite clearly that more than 17 million school days have been lost over the last 20 years because of collective bargaining and find that not disturbing. I find it disturbing, my colleagues find it disturbing and I'm sure parents across the province find it disturbing.

Mr Hampton: Once again the minister is so disturbed that he can't answer the question. What I asked him was, does he realize that in fact his cutbacks are taking back many more student days? Since he was so disturbed he couldn't answer the question, let me try again.

Michael J. Laverty, who is the principal of St Joseph's Catholic high school in Renfrew, sent an open letter to the Premier on October 24 in which he stated: "Although our student population increased, we lost the equivalent of one teacher. This effectively closed our library resource centre (which is shameful), and caused the loss of several subjects from the curriculum. Don't tell me that cuts don't hurt kids."

Minister, you took the time to have Mr Paroian figure out that 0.2% of instructional days were lost to collective agreement disputes. Have you taken the time to figure out how many hundreds of thousands of instructional days are going to be lost in libraries and resource centres across this province this year because of your cutbacks?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I believe I've said in this chamber on several occasions, and I'm pleased to say again today, that

this government will not accept a lower quality of education in any school in the province of Ontario. We asked school boards across the province to find 1.8% of their operating costs in reductions last year. The commission that was appointed by the previous government, by the leader of the third party's government, suggested that 47% of our spending occurs outside of the classroom, so we find a 1.8% reduction to be rather modest in that regard.

I can tell you that it is the member opposite's government that left this province with a system where we spend too much on administration, too little inside the classroom, where the right choices are not made and where in fact there are second-class students. This government will not tolerate that. We are right now involved in a fundamental review of the way education is funded and the way it's governed so we can make better choices in the future.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, according to this minister's formula, the formula that he accepts so warmly, do you know that libraries and student resource centres are not counted as classroom funding? Do you know that when children learn to read in a library, this minister doesn't count that as classroom funding? That's why people around this province laugh at you and find you so ludicrous.

But let's deal with special education, because special education is the other area that's getting cut. Are you going to recognize that literally hundreds of thousands of student curriculum days are being lost in special education because of your cutbacks? You took the trouble to have Leon Paroian figure out that 0.2% over the last 20 years have been lost to collective bargaining. Have you taken the time to figure out how many hundreds of thousands of days of special education have been lost because of your cutbacks?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I don't know how to make this any clearer. The leader of the third party's government failed to address fundamental issues inside of education. Your government was willing, sir, to have second-class students, in terms of funding, across this province; this government is not. Your government was willing to have a funding mechanism that put special needs kids at risk in our system; this government is not.

That is why we are right now engaged in the most comprehensive review of our education system ever conducted in this province. I'm proud of that. We will come to some decisions over the next few months which will ensure that there is sufficient funding to ensure a quality education for every student in this province. That's the commitment of this government.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question of the Premier. In July of last year, shortly after you were elected Premier, Gordon McGuinty, a close friend of yours and a proponent of the Adams mine garbage proposal, stated, "I have never broached this project with Mr Harris even during all the time he was in opposition." Premier, is that true?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Certainly many people in northern Ontario have brought the subject up with me; to be honest with you, probably in the neighbourhood of hundreds -- from the ONTC, supportive, the majority I believe of those involved in your riding, the majority involved in my riding, resolutions from mayors and reeves.

I don't ever recall being lobbied directly by Gordon McGuinty, but certainly Gord McGuinty has on many occasions, through his company or through others, sent information to me, particularly during that time in opposition, urging support and encouragement for the rail-haul proposal, which I am publicly on the record in support of.

Mr Ramsay: I have a sworn affidavit from a New Liskeard lawyer stating that in June 1991, you, Mr McGuinty, Metro councillor Joan King, Kirkland Lake mayor Joe Mavrinac, and then-Commissioner of Public Works Bob Ferguson met at a Toronto restaurant to discuss the Adams mine project.

The affidavit states that not only did you discuss the project, but that it took the form of a strategy meeting and you were prepared to lend your support to the project if and when you were in a position to do so.


Your friend has the potential to make millions of dollars on this deal, and now you have a law containing a last-minute amendment that could make this happen. Finally, you are in a position to make this happen.

How do you explain that both you and Mr McGuinty deny formally talking about this? What are you hiding?

Hon Mr Harris: I have never denied talking about this. I indicated very clearly to you that I have talked to hundreds of people, and I would assume including Mr McGuinty, on the merits of the project. I felt I was in a position as the member for Nipissing to do something about it and so I lent my wholehearted and enthusiastic support to this proposal. I still have lent my support as the member for Nipissing to this proposal.

But you will recall this: While the NDP brought in legislation saying, "We'll tell you where garbage will go," I moved in the opposite direction, scrapped that legislation and said it is now up to Metro, it is now up to other municipalities to determine where garbage will go.

Neither I nor my office nor my government will influence that, but what we will do is, we will bring in legislation to guarantee to the people of this province that we will protect in perpetuity the environment of this province, and, wherever it goes, it will have to pass those independent tests of the scientists and the experts, not the politicians.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. This is Waste Reduction Week in Ontario, so when are you going to bring in sewer use regulations and product steward regulations to prevent toxic waste from entering our sewers and our landfills?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm glad the member raised that this is Waste Reduction Week. I was there yesterday with my parliamentary assistant with the Recycling Council of Ontario kicking off this week on their behalf and was pleased to participate in that event.

We are working with a number of industries to deal with the bars by various sectors in this province to deal with household waste. I promised the Recycling Council yesterday that I would work with them closely to develop programs where we could better attack this problem, which has remained unsolved until this time.

Ms Churley: Minister, you have already cut grants to municipalities for household hazardous waste programs. That's already done. You're axing all the hazardous waste programs in your ministry. That's through Bill 57. You have no plan and you have no strategy. I know that even the auditor has expressed concern in his document that you need to have better monitoring and tracking of toxic waste. You have no pollution prevention plan whatsoever.

I ask you again today --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Is he cutting?

Ms Churley: Yes, more cuts to come. Are you going to announce next week, in the very near future, your waste reduction plan for hazardous waste going into our sewers and our landfills?

Hon Mr Sterling: I think it's odd that we get criticized for economizing in areas where programs haven't worked in the past. The fact of the matter is that no government has been able to address this particular problem in an efficient and economical way and have any decent results.

We are now, for instance, working with the car battery industry to reduce the roadblocks to having cadmium car batteries deposited at various stations across this province so they can be collected and taken back to the manufacturers to be properly disposed of.

The problem we have with household waste is that the old programs didn't work. What we're looking at now is to put into place programs that will work to attack the real problem and to deal with it.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd just like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the Italian ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Andrea Negrotto Cambiaso. Welcome.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. In September of this year Ontario Parks ran newspaper advertisements concerning corporate sponsorship opportunities in our provincial parks. I represent a riding that contains the Selkirk, Turkey Point and Long Point provincial parks, all adjacent to Lake Erie, hence my curiosity. Could the minister let us know what he's looking for as far as private sector involvement in our provincial parks?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I thank the member for Norfolk for the question. Ontario Parks is inviting the private sector to participate in programs designed to support the park protection mandate, improve the park environment and enhance the overall quality for park visitors.

As you know, we've already created a dedicated fund for Ontario Parks that enables revenues raised in our parks to stay within the park system as a whole. We're now asking the private sector to work in partnership with us to promote and increase public awareness of the province's outstanding park system through a variety of sponsorship opportunities. Together with the businesses and people of Ontario, we will continue to pursue excellence in our parks program.

Mr Barrett: It's been a month or so since these ads suggesting this sponsorship and partnerships with corporations and business were run. What kind of response have we received to date to this initiative?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I'm pleased to inform the member in the House that, as of October 29, Ontario Parks has received 105 inquiries about this new opportunity. This is an outstanding show of interest and demonstrates the great attachment the people have to Ontario's park system. Parties interested in corporate partnerships with Ontario Parks can call area code 705-755-PARK.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier, and it has to do with your standards of conduct for your Conservative caucus in dealing with the police. The Premier will recall that last September 1995 at Ipperwash Provincial Park there was an occupation of the park by the native community. After three days, and this was perhaps one of the most major confrontations between our OPP and native community, for the first time ever a native was killed.

We now know, Premier, that on at least three occasions the local Conservative member, Mr Beaubien, was at the police command post. We also know he says, and I will quote here from a newspaper clipping, that he was "in constant contact with the Premier's office and the ministries involved. It was my job to keep them apprised." The question is this: Is this an acceptable standard of behaviour for members of your Conservative caucus?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I believe, to the best of my knowledge, everything that has been brought to my attention, including everything you have brought forward today, is.

Second, I would expect, when you consider an event, if it was in any one of your ridings where an illegal occupation had taken place in a provincial park following an occupation of an adjacent federal property, where there was tension, you would want information, you would seek information, you would call upon those to let them know the situation as you saw it from natives and non-natives, a very tense situation.

I think the member acted, to the best of my knowledge, in the best interests of both native and non-native constituents within his riding, a very difficult situation for him, and he sought to get information from any possible source that he could and he sought to inform everybody he could with his understanding of things he was hearing in his riding. I would expect my members to do that, yes.


Mr Phillips: I understand your standard then: In any confrontation with our police organizations dealing with very sensitive situations with our community, it is, first, acceptable for your Conservative caucus members to be there, to inform the police that they have been in constant contact with your office, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, that they are keeping you, the Premier, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General informed of everything that's going on there and that they are awaiting instructions from your office. I want you to confirm that you believe that is acceptable behaviour, is an acceptable code of conduct in your Ontario.

Hon Mr Harris: At no time did the police receive any instructions from anybody that I know in my caucus or my office or me or the cabinet.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): My question is to the Attorney General regarding the crisis at the family support plan. I'd like the Attorney General to respond to the following.

On November 1, Ontario Hydro directed the following letter to the director of the family support plan. It reads: "We have been telephoning the employer hotline for over a month now seeking clarification and assistance in processing our remittances to you. To date we have not received any reply to our numerous voice-mail messages.

"In frustration we called the number used by employees and -- "

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): Find out what's going on over there. Get the facts straight. Talk about it outside the House.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Lambton, come to order, please.

Ms Martel: "We finally got to speak to an agent. We've been trying to confirm where to send the payments via overnight courier as your recent form letter advising of improvements only provided us with a post box address. Your offices have now intermittently started to return our courier payments and it appears some have been lost. When we finally spoke to an agent, we were told to use the address to which the letter is sent.

"Enclosed you will find the cheques which we have received to date as returned. Please send them, because our employees and the payment recipients that your offices have talked to are telling them that we are failing to remit payments to you."

Can you now finally admit that your cuts are causing the crisis at the family support plan?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I don't have any knowledge of the details of the member's question, and if she would provide me with those details I will look into that.

As I've indicated, we are doing a number of things to make this plan better, including the bill that will be debated shortly in this Legislature. I hope the member opposite will take part in that debate and support the bill and support the move to make this plan effective and to help those who depend on it.

Ms Martel: Let me provide a few more details to the minister so he understands the seriousness of the situation. Hydro weekly remits to the family support plan $70,000. On an annual basis they remit $3.5 million. They have been doing this via overnight courier since the inception of the plan. People who used to receive regular support payments, whose ex-spouses are Hydro employees, have gone without for the last four weeks because of this crisis. Now Hydro is receiving letters from the family support plan to say that many of these employees are in arrears and they now have to take even more money out of the paycheques of these employees because of the arrears notice.

When are you finally going to do something with respect to the women and children in this province who are suffering as a direct result of your attempt to finance the tax cuts?

Hon Mr Harnick: Again, I have none of the details. If the member will provide me with those details, as I've indicated to her, I will look into that. I'd be pleased to look into that matter and find the information. As I've said, we are restructuring the plan. We have a bill coming before the Legislature, and I hope the members of the third party will support that bill in an effort to make the family support plan work once and for all.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. On Thursday of last week you announced that cabinet had rejected an appeal from Redland Quarries regarding their proposal for a landfill site in the town of Flamborough. Would you explain to the House and the people of Hamilton-Wentworth why cabinet reached that decision?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): The proposed Redlands quarry was turned down by a joint board hearing consisting of members of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Assessment Board in March 1995. Citizens of that area have been waiting for their answer and we in the cabinet decided that because the proposed landfill was not supported by the host municipality, the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, and because the board had found that there were technical problems associated with the proposal, it was only fair to the citizens of that area to uphold the board, as we should, and reject the application for a landfill site at Redland Quarries.

Mr Pettit: I'd like to point out to the House and the people of Hamilton-Wentworth that this particular matter dragged on for some 10 years and cost untold millions of dollars to all the parties involved. I find that to be clearly unacceptable. My supplementary question for the minister is, how is the new Bill 76 going to improve the environmental assessment process to prevent occurrences such as this particular one happening again?

Hon Mr Sterling: I find the time spent unacceptable not only in terms of the monetary expense, but also, when I was out at the site on Thursday last, I found out from the citizens what anguish and pain many of them had been through for the past 10 years in dealing with this issue. It was indeed a very emotional issue.

Bill 76 will focus environmental assessment hearings in a much more efficient manner: efficient in terms of bringing the issues to a head, allowing proper public consultation, proper availability for all parties to put forward their side of the story. We believe we can scope a hearing of this nature down to a period of 12 months from a time span, as was exhibited in this area, of 10 years.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Education. You've continued to state in this House over the last few months that your cuts, your massive gutting of the education system in Ontario, are not impacting classroom education, or what you define as classroom education. I want to point out to you today some examples that blatantly contradict what you are saying.

In my community of Hamilton-Wentworth, we have school libraries that have been closed for the first two months of the school year because of staffing shortages and not being able to have librarians in those classrooms; a school, St Joachim's in Ancaster, that has a capacity of 400, has 1,000 students and has become Portable City because, as a result of your cuts, they cannot afford any expansion and the students are cramped in portables in unbearable conditions; school boards that have computers on their desks and can't use them because they don't have the affordability to maintain those computers.

Minister, this morning it was reported that the Halton Board of Education is considering laying off 500 teachers from their workforce next year. Can you explain to the House today how the layoff of 500 teachers in one board across this province is not going to impact classroom education?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. It's an opportunity to perhaps inform him of some facts. First of all, I would reject the assumption or the allegation that a 1.8% reduction in operating costs is massive. I think that's hardly massive, and I think the people of the province of Ontario know much better than that. Secondly, you wonder about portables in school yards. I wonder about that too. Under the previous two governments, some 8,000 portables were added to our school system across the province because the previous two governments were unwilling to take on the funding of education to make sure there were no second-class citizens in the province and to make sure there was a capital program that would work for people. We are doing both of those things, and I am proud of that.

Mr Agostino: I think the first thing we should provide to the Minister of Education is a calculator so he can figure out the extent of the cuts. Let me tell you, when you look at the real cuts and real dollars as provincial funding, you're talking about 11%, not 2%.

School boards have done their part. The Hamilton-Wentworth separate school board has cut administration by 50%. The Hamilton board of education has cut administration by 35%. We now have schools in our community where trustees, as told to me this morning, are concerned for the safety of the students because they cannot afford to maintain those schools in the order and the shape they should be in.


Minister, you are now contemplating more cuts. You're now talking about further cuts to education. I'm sure at the end of November we'll hear that wonderful news again, as you're going to impact and gut education in Ontario. Can you guarantee this House that any further cuts you make will not impact one single student in a classroom of any board across this province?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Let's make this very clear once again. I want to make sure the honourable member understands this. No decision made by this government has hurt a single student in the province of Ontario, nor will it. This government, unlike the previous two governments, understands that every --


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

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That was rather remarkable --


The Speaker: I've been doing this all day. We can do it all day. Minister.

Hon Mr Snobelen: In all fairness, Mr Speaker, you might be able to do it all day but I'm getting tired.

I just want to say that I think it's important for the people of Ontario to understand this, that we have students in Ontario who receive as much as 30% less than other students in the amount allocated for their education. We recognize the essential unfairness of that. We are going to address it. I think it's regrettable that the previous two governments did not. We are taking that problem on.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. A number of credible studies have rejected amalgamation of municipalities, saying it's not going to save any money. Anne Golden, whose GTA task force you have praised, says amalgamation won't work. A study of Ontario municipalities published this year by the Canadian Tax Journal says, "Costs are affected by the quantity and quality of services provided, not by government structure." A Price-Waterhouse study of Ottawa-Carleton done in 1992 said, "One-tier government would increases taxes by 5% to 16%." An article by George Boyne in the journal Public Administration says, "Based on US experience, a one-tier system may not lead to greater efficiency and the advantages of two-tier systems have been underestimated." Minister, can you name any credible study that you have read that would prove one big government is the way to go?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member for his question. Yes, I could name a number of studies that indicate single tiers work. Single tiers work in a number of jurisdictions. I suppose the member would suggest under his scenario that we should take the Metropolitan Toronto Police and divide them into six communities. Would that make any sense? I don't think so. Perhaps you would like to take the ambulance services and divide them into six communities. Would that make any sense? Obviously there are services that can be provided at one level, at one tier, and I think most of the services that are currently being delivered by six duplicated, overlapping communities could best be delivered by one tier, and there are many studies to show that.

Mr Marchese: Minister, that's why I asked you if you've read some studies and can you name them. All you say is yes, you've seen some. I haven't seen any, but I would like to see them. You argue that there are savings but you make the case for one big government without proving it. What we want to be able to do is to have you quote similar sources, as I'm doing now. Harry Kitchen, professor of economics at Trent University in Peterborough, says, "Not all services get cheaper with amalgamation."

You are charging ahead with no public hearings, no public input and no public debate. There is an obvious need in my mind for public hearings. Will you hold public hearings on this very important issue?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I thank you for the questions. There are studies that have been done, very recent studies, specifically for Metropolitan Toronto. This has probably been the most overstudied issue in the history of Ontario. Since 1969, when I think the first referendum was held, a referendum by all the people in this area that said, yes, amalgamation is the way to go, studies have been done since that time to now, all reaching the same conclusion. The most recent study was done by an independent consultant for Metropolitan Toronto, which proved the same thing.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is to the minister without portfolio who is responsible for Bill 59, the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act.

Far too many people in my constituency have been very concerned with skyrocketing auto insurance rates. They've seen rates go up under the two previous governments year after year after year. Could the minister please tell this House just how much auto insurance rates will drop for the good drivers of the province of Ontario?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I know the honourable member's quite concerned about this issue because he comes from an area of this province where in fact a consumer group organized in order to complain and try to encourage a government to listen to Ontarians, to try to create a product that was for the consumer of this province, and I know the honourable member will be quite pleased to hear that as a result of the work that we did, as a result of the work of the steering committee, the consultation process, average rates in this province will be going down 4.4% effective November 1 of this year.

Clearly, the honourable members across the floor did not want to see a rate reduction because they did not vote in support of this particular bill. We believed Ontario drivers deserved a break, and they've gotten it with Bill 59.

Mr Baird: Regrettably, in the last two rounds of auto insurance reform, nothing in those rounds led to greater consumer understanding of what has become an increasingly complex system or dealt with the growing problem of fraud in the province of Ontario.

Auto insurance fraud has been one of the major causes of skyrocketing auto insurance rates for people and families in my riding. Could the minister give the House some details on how the new measures contained in Bill 59 to deal with consumer understanding and fraud will help keep rates low?

Hon Mr Sampson: Yes, indeed, fraud was a serious concern. As we went through the auto insurance review, it was quite clear that there was a tremendous amount of fraud that was driving up rates, and we chose to attack that in Bill 59.

One of the largest areas was the high percentage of uninsured drivers in this province. Somewhere between 10% and 20% of the driving population under the previous governments -- I guess they thought it was acceptable -- were not buying auto insurance, were not contributing to the pool. We dealt with that. We dealt with that by increasing the fines not two times, three times, but 10 times the amount of the previous legislation, because driving without insurance in this province is against the law, and we're going to stop it.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism on an issue I've questioned him on many times. I'm referring to the minister's broken promises to have the parks currently closed in the St Lawrence Parks Commission opened for 1996. Investors have forwarded their proposals directly to the minister and to myself, investors have been lined up trying to operate those parks, investors the minister has let slip through his fingers the past tourism season.

Minister, time and time again since you came into power I have read your quotes back to you. It is very clear you promised the parks would be open in the summer of 1996 and equally clear that you did not deliver on your promise. I would like to ask you today, will you commit to allowing these parks to open next summer? A simple yes or no would suffice, and don't give me your old rigmarole that you gave me before.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): Mr Speaker, I'm pleased to respond to the question. The very simple explanation is that the proposals he is referring to were just not satisfactory, and in this era of financial responsibility on the part of this government it was not the time to accept such proposals. It's as simple as that.

As a matter of fact, I think they were closed when you were in power, and they're not going to be open until we have a proper financial plan.

Mr Cleary: The minister is wrong again.


Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Who shut them down, John?

Mr Cleary: No, but you know -- anyway, we won't get into that here. As you know, you have stood idly by since you came to power and lost tourism dollars in eastern Ontario, lost jobs in our area, lost economic spinoff. Now that the parks have been allowed to fall into a state of disarray, maybe private investors are not as anxious as they used to be, but I still think they're out there. Six years of neglect have heaped problems on these parks and now that the new government is in place, they have to be an accomplice to this.

On behalf of the people of my riding and the municipal councils, which you did not meet with, I request a detailed report on how you intend to open these parks, or do you simply not care any more?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I heard the honourable member say that I was wrong again. Well, he's wrong again. It was his party that closed the parks. Let me say to the member that I was in the Kingston region two weeks ago, approximately, to take a look at the St Lawrence Parks Commission and I had good chats with the people at Fort Henry and with the members of the commission. I spoke to them and I said that we are in a time of fiscal restraint and when we can get the private sector to work with us, then perhaps those parks will be open again. But we are not going to do it until we have a proper plan.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Transportation, if I could get his attention. Thank you very much. I won't get a chance for a supplementary so I'm going to make this very simple.

You remember Pearl Miller, the 79-year-old who has been cut off Wheel-Trans and who came down here to meet you? I'm sure you do; she's kind of hard to forget. Minister, you promised her to set up a meeting with Paul Christie and you were going to go with her to that meeting. ARCH, the advocacy group on behalf of the disabled, has been pushing your office to get that meeting set up. We find out just today that Paul Christie has now decided that he refuses to meet with Mrs Miller. He will, however, meet with you.

Minister, the proposition of two Tories meeting behind closed doors is something we see all too often with this government, and it's not good enough. It's not good enough for Mrs Miller and it's not good enough for the 10,000 other disabled people who are being cut off Wheel-Trans. My simple question: Will you commit to us here today that you will take someone from ARCH, the advocacy group on behalf of the disabled, with you to that meeting so we can have some openness and some accountability and not backroom Tory dealing?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I thank the honourable member for the question. Certainly I can understand Mr Christie's position in not meeting with Mrs Miller. There is an appeal in process, and I do understand the situation. However, my office has been in touch with Mrs Miller and she is in agreement that she does not have to participate in that meeting and she has agreed for the ministry staff to discuss that with myself and Mr Christie. I really have that assurance from Mrs Miller that she does not want to participate in that particular meeting. I want to say to the honourable member that a meeting has been established and will take place with Mr Christie and myself on November 21.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My petition reads:

"We, the undersigned, strongly protest any plans to privatize TVOntario. The privatization of TVOntario would jeopardize the excellent educational and information programming provided by TVOntario. The sale of TVO would also jeopardize Wawatay radio network's native language programming and Wahsa distance education services because both depend on TVO's distribution system."

This is signed by many of my constituents from Port Severn, Hudson, Sioux Lookout and throughout the region. I too attach my name to this petition.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition with about 100 names of residents from 145 St George Street, 151 St George Street and 153 St George Street. This is what the petition says:

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to take away the protections of the Rent Control Act;

"Whereas the government is proposing to allow a landlord to charge a tenant who moves into an apartment whatever the landlord can get away with;

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to raise the limit of how high rents can increase for all tenants;

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to make it easier to demolish or convert existing affordable rental housing;

"Whereas the government is proposing to take away the rent freeze which has been successful in forcing some landlords to repair their buildings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to keep the existing rent laws, which provide true protection for tenants, in place."

I affix my signature to this.


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

"Whereas the administration of Families Against Deadbeats, Renate Diorio, Heinz Paul and Danielle McIsaac, are in total support of Bill 82, presented by the Honourable Charles Harnick to the Legislative Assembly on October 2, 1996, outlining the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, to replace the Family Support Plan Act, 1992;

"Whereas the changes will relieve the taxpayers of Ontario and provide proper enforcement required to collect and administer child support payments and orders;

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

"We support and agree with all of the changes outlined in the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, set forth by the Honourable Charles Harnick as Bill 82, and urge the Legislature to pass this bill into law as soon as possible."

I have signed this petition.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): There are too many people standing up. It's confusing for me; I don't know who to call. There's also too much noise.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition forwarded to me Mr James Gerow of Thunder Bay and signed by over 250 hunters and fishermen in the Thunder Bay area who are very concerned about the closure of an access road by the Ministry of Natural Resources. The petition reads as follows:

"We are concerned Canadian citizens worried about the controls over crown land by private interest groups. On September 14, 1998, a culvert will be removed from the Garden Lake Road at Otter Toot crossing. This closure will eliminate access to a great number of lakes and 100 kilometres of road for hunting and fishing. We are worried that the private citizen no longer has input or control of our outdoors and recreation areas. On behalf of the people using this area for hunting and fishing, we hope the use of this road and area will continue not only for the personal use of privately owned businesses but for all taxpaying Canadians."

I sign my name to that petition.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition here signed by residents of the Waterloo-Kitchener area. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the provincial government is planning to make significant changes to the delivery and governance of education in this province; and

"Whereas we as parents believe that school councils should play an important role in education, with clearly defined responsibilities limited to their particular school communities; and

"Whereas we as ratepayers are extremely disturbed that consideration is being given to abolish school boards and eliminate decision-making by locally elected representatives;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the present structure of school boards within the province of Ontario continue to have a major role in governance of schools to deal with board policies as advocates for the students in their community, to provide cost-efficient educational services and to be directly accountable to the parents and local ratepayers."

I am signing the petition.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I have a petition on behalf of many of the residents of Hastings-Peterborough.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we believe that provincial interest in public libraries in Ontario is fundamental to the rights of all Ontarians;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to maintain the provincial interest in public libraries by ensuring the continuance of the following:

(1) grants to ensure that all Ontarians have equalized access to library materials and services;

(2) coordination of resource-sharing programs such as interlibrary loan and Internet access;

(3) policy to ensure the future of the network of Ontario public libraries;

(4) provincial assistance directly to libraries at the service level, for example, through Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario Library Service-North;

(5) legislation that maintains the autonomy of public library boards."

I affix my signature.



M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition de l'abbé Jacques Poirier de la paroisse Sainte-Euphémie de Casselman :

«À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que le projet de loi 75 aura un effet négatif sur les organismes de charité ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 75 provoquera une augmentation des cas de dépendance au jeu et causera des dommages irréparables à des familles de toutes les régions de la province ;

«Attendu que le gouvernement n'a pas spécifié quelles organisations de charité bénéficieront des revenus des loteries vidéo,

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Nous demandons à tous les partis représentés à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario de s'opposer au projet de loi 75.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I have a petition here from literally hundreds of my constituents and constituents of the member for Algoma regarding day care and child care. It's to the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas child care is an essential service and children should not be used to make money; and

"Whereas reducing current standards to minimal building codes compromises the safety of children; and

"Whereas providing funding to the private sector will lead to reduced accountability for tax dollars; and

"Whereas children's growth and development could be in serious jeopardy without trained professionals caring for them; and

"Whereas reducing monitoring inspections and increasing staff-child ratios will result in poor-quality child care programs; and

"Whereas staff wages are a major indicator of quality, proposed reductions and wage subsidies will have a negative impact on child care; and

"Whereas the need for parental choice in child care is recognized;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to reconsider the directions proposed in Improving Ontario's Child Care System, the report released by Janet Ecker, as we feel it will have a negative impact on the families of Ontario."

I sign my name to this petition.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I have petitions here from greater Grand Bend:

"We, the undersigned, support the following:

"(1) That the community commonly referred to as Grand Bend, which includes the areas of Bosanquet north of the Greenway Road, and the Pinery Provincial Park, as well as the areas of Stephen township, which are adjacent to the existing village of Grand Bend, be brought together as one single community, retaining the name Grand Bend;

"(2) When a newly amalgamated municipality is created, that this unified greater Grand Bend area not be divided by municipal boundaries;

"(3) That the amalgamated municipality that includes the greater Grand Bend community provide the best economic alternatives for supply of services and utilities and fair representation for our area; and

"(4) That the individual residential areas and subdivisions situated within greater Grand Bend retain their identity and characteristics and continue to operate with their community associations."

I have a number of petitions here with approximately 100 signatures on them.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are 1,000 names in this petition to add to the 12,304 we already have.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from the OFL joint health and safety conference entitled "It's Your Life, Don't Leave Work Without It," where over 1,000 delegates considered the WCB intention of this government and denounced it thoroughly.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is attacking workers' compensation benefits and the rights of injured workers; and

"Whereas Tory plans include taking $15 billion from injured workers and giving $6 billion to employers, including the government's rich corporate friends; and

"Whereas Cam Jackson, the former Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for gutting the WCB, refused to hold public hearings, choosing to meet secretly with business and insurance industry representatives; and

"Whereas the WCB has about $7.6 billion in assets and its unfunded liability has been steadily shrinking; and

"Whereas the Jackson report and WCB legislation are just part of a coordinated attack on occupational health and safety protections for working families in Ontario; and

"Whereas Tory plans also include abolition of the internationally respected Occupational Disease Panel; and

"Whereas the government needs to hear the message that taking money from injured workers and lowering incentives for employers to make workplaces safer is not the way to make Ontario a better place to live;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold full, province-wide public hearings on WCB reform; to listen to the voice of the people calling for improved occupational health and safety protection; and to tell the Tory government to call off its attack on the dignity and standard of living of injured workers and their families."

I add my name in support of theirs.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have placed my signature to this petition.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health is decreasing the role of registered nurses in Ontario; and

"Whereas decreasing the use of registered nurses is not a cost-effective measure. This data is well determined through comprehensive research in the United States, England and Canada; and

"Whereas a decline or elimination of registered nurses has demonstrated the following undesirable outcomes: a substantial increase in mortality-morbidity rates; an increase in length of hospitalization stays; an increase in the number of complications; an increase in readmission rates to hospitals from long-term care facilities and the community; an increase in the number of patient/resident/family complaints/dissatisfactions; an increase in overall health care costs; and

"Whereas registered nurses, with their in-depth knowledge and assessment skills, actively demonstrate leadership and professional expertise that result in positive clinical outcomes in the hospital setting, long-term care facilities as well as the community; and

"Whereas registered nurses are one of the very few health care and regulated professionals who have in-depth assessment skills that evaluate the status of the whole person 24 hours a day;

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

"The Ministry of Health stop the chaos they are creating in health care and recognize and support the important role of the registered nurse in health delivery in Ontario."

I add my name to this important petition.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I have a petition from the parents of Hilltop Middle School on education cutbacks.

"The Ontario provincial government, under Premier Mike Harris and Education Minister John Snobelen, is threatening the future of our children's education and lives with huge cuts in the education budget."


Mr Ford: This is a perceived letter, that these people think this is going to happen.

"This action could result in any or all of the following: larger classes, elimination of buses, elimination of junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten, reduced libraries, elimination of special education programs, French immersion, instrumental music, ESL, alternative education, elementary library, extracurricular sports, developmentally challenged assistance, overcrowded schools, obsolete equipment including computers, reduced maintenance, reduced administration and weaker discipline.

"As concerned parents and citizens of this province, we urge you to sign this petition, which will be presented to the Premier as a reflection of our serious concerns over this agenda. In addition, we urge you to write to your MPP and voice your concerns. Act quickly, as the time of these proposed changes is next month."

This is unsigned.




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

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, before we proceed, I have a point of order. This is a very strong one. It is common practice in this House, outside of the very old days of the Tory government, that the opposition know after question period what bills will be dealt with on a particular day, and here the government has just now announced what bill it's going to deal with. Is this not unusual? Does it not concern you, as Speaker of this House?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): To address the point of order from the member for St Catharines, it matters not how usual it is or concerning to me. It's just a matter of the rules, and as far as I can see, the government hasn't broken or abrogated any of the rules of this Legislature. So I will look to the Liberal member for Algoma-Manitoulin.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'm pleased to rise and participate in this debate. One of the issues that is probably of most concern in the province of Ontario today is Bill 75 and the advent of video lottery terminals. That doesn't sound very exciting to the people of Ontario, video lottery terminals, but what video lottery terminals are in effect, what they really are, is video slot machines.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, just on a point of order: I understand that the member for Niagara Falls was to have introduced a bill, and this is the last day, so I would seek unanimous consent -- unfortunately, he didn't understand when this was to be done. I seek unanimous consent.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to introduce a bill from the member for Niagara Falls?

Mr Michael Brown: On a point of order, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: You know what? I --

Mr Michael Brown: I'm just trying to be helpful with this.

The Speaker: It's a point of order, so I would ask the member --

Mr Michael Brown: Mr Speaker, because the government was so tardy in informing the Legislature of what business was to be dealt with this afternoon, Mr Lalonde from our party was hoping that he would be able to speak to this bill at this particular time, and if the government is seeking unanimous consent for this bill, perhaps we could have unanimous consent for --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma-Manitoulin, I think I have a solution to this. I will seek unanimous consent for the member for Niagara Falls to introduce the bill, as well as unanimous consent to go to the member for Prescott-Russell in the order of rotation. Agreed.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Thank you, colleagues, on all sides of the House.



Mr Maves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 89, An Act to amend the Audit Act to improve the accountability of hospitals, school boards, universities and colleges, municipalities and other organizations which receive payments from the government / Loi modifiant la Loi sur la vérification des comptes publics en vue d'améliorer la responsabilisation au sein des hôpitaux, des conseils scolaires, des universités et des collèges, des municipalités et d'autres organisations qui reçoivent des paiements du gouvernement.

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

Any short comments, the member for Niagara Falls?

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Yes, a quick explanation: The purpose of the bill is to enable the Provincial Auditor to conduct audits of organizations and other bodies such as school boards, hospitals, universities in respect of payments received from the consolidated revenue fund or government agencies. It acts primarily on a recommendation from the Provincial Auditor.


The Speaker: Now we go back to rotation. The member for Prescott and Russell.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I'm delighted to be able to participate in the debate of this bill, the VLT bill, Bill 75, a bill called by the French people le projet de loi du poison vif. It is a pure poison bill.

Mr Speaker, as you know, we have over 550,000 francophones in Ontario, so to give a chance to those who are following this very important debate on the French channel, I will be addressing this assembly in French and English.

La dernière fois que j'ai pris la parole en faveur d'un projet de loi, c'était le projet de loi 60, qui avait pour but de sauvegarder les emplois de nos travailleurs de la construction. Aujourd'hui je veux parler contre le projet de loi 75, qui apportera de la misère et qui va contribuer à l'éclatement de nos nombreuses familles en Ontario.

I know what the casinos are. I know what the VLTs are going to be in our community. As I said, it's pure poison for the community. We have had some data that the people of Ontario oppose this bill by 62%. I hope the government is going to listen to the people of Ontario; 62 % des personnes de l'Ontario s'opposent à ce projet de loi.

C'est quoi, le projet de loi 75 ? Beaucoup de personnes se demandent qu'est-il, le projet de loi VLT ? C'est une loi qui permettra au gouvernement d'installer des machines à loterie vidéo, «slot machines», dans les restaurants, dans les bars et dans les hôtels en Ontario. Il y a quelques instants, un maximum de 30 minutes, le premier ministre de l'Ontario nous a dit ici-même en Chambre qu'on n'aurait pas de vidéo dans nos restaurants et dans nos hôtels. Est-ce qu'on va le croire ? Immédiatement, environ deux minutes après cette déclaration il a dit : «Je n'ai pas dit des loterie-vidéo ; j'ai dit "vidéo".» Qu'est-ce que c'est ?

Depuis in certain temps 32 paroisses de mon comté de Prescott et Russell m'ont fait parvenir des pétitions signées par des milliers de personnes qui sont contre ce projet de loi. Nous connaissons ce qui arrive dans d'autres provinces. Je vais me référer à la Nouvelle-Écosse, où on a décidé de retirer un nombre de ces machines. Pourquoi ? Parce que les personnes dépendent de ces machines. C'est presque impossible. Je peux vous dire que je fréquente assez souvent les casinos et que l'on peut devenir, comme on dit en anglais : You become addicted to video machines. So are we going to have the sign at the entrance of Ontario: "Welcome to Organized Crime in Ontario"? Ce n'est certainement pas ça qu'on veut. Est-ce que nous voulons souhaiter la bienvenue aux gens d'autres provinces et pays qui nous visitent qui vont nous dire : «Nous rentrons en Ontario avec l'enseigne qui dit, "Bienvenue au crime organisé en Ontario"» ?

Chers amis, chers collègues de l'opposition ou du gouvernement, c'est un très grand danger. J'ai regardé des articles dans le journal Le Droit récemment. On disait que l'héritage de la pauvreté était le casino. Maintenant l'héritage de la pauvreté dans toutes nos petites communautés seront les loteries-vidéo, les machines à sous.

Le curé de la paroisse Sainte-Euphémie de Casselman m'a fait parvenir une pétition qui dit de mettre des pressions sur le gouvernement afin que l'on ne passe pas à la troisième lecture.


J'ai ici une résolution de la corporation du canton de Clarence. On me dit de voter contre le projet de loi.

Chers amis, lorsque nous allons voir ces machines vidéo dans les environs des collèges, des écoles secondaires, des universités, si on pense seulement qu'une personne peut remporter 5000 $, 500 $, 50 $, vous verrez que l'argent qu'on détient, l'argent de poche que les parents donnent aux enfants, aux étudiants pour leur goûter de midi va être dépensé dans les machines.

Pourquoi voulons-nous avoir cet argent, des pauvres surtout ? C'est parce qu'on veut aider à payer le 30 % de réduction d'impôts aux gens de l'Ontario. Les gens les plus riches vont bénéficier. Je me demande si les gens de la province sont au courant de combien ce 30 % de coupures d'impôts va coûter en Ontario. C'est un montant qui va coûter au-delà de 17 milliards de dollars aux payeurs de taxes de l'Ontario, et ça juste pour réduire aux riches le 30 % d'impôts.

J'ai fait des calculs ; j'ai fait des recherches. Dans la région de Hawkesbury, le pourcentage des dames bénéficieront de $1,25 par semaine. C'est ça, la coupure. Mais on doit payer pour les services de bibliothèque, on doit payer pour les services de loisir. On doit avoir une augmentation de la facturation d'eau. On doit avoir une augmentation de la facturation des vidanges. Donc, tout ça pour dire que nous allons remettre aux plus riches de la province un montant de 17 milliards de dollars par l'an 2000. Est-ce que c'est juste, mes chers amis ? Je ne crois pas.

Je voudrais aller un peu plus loin. Dans ma circonscription seulement, une dame a été acquittée de 80 000 $, une séparation de famille ou un divorce, je pourrais dire. Elle bénéficiait de 80 000 $. Qu'est-ce que vous pensez est arrivé à cette somme ? Les 80 000 de dollars ont été dépensés dans les machines illégales que nous avons en Ontario. Si nous voyons actuellement au-delà de 20 000 à 25 000 machines illégales en Ontario, nous n'avons aucune protection. Je crois que le solliciteur général ou le procureur général devrait faire son grand possible actuellement de surveiller ces machines illégales. Étant donné que nous ne pouvons pas surveiller ces machines illégales, est-ce que nous allons être capables de surveiller les machines lorsqu'elles seront en place légalement ? Je ne crois pas.

Actuellement, nous avons déclaré dans une région ici au Canada que nous avions modifié 130 de ces machines-là afin qu'elles atteignent les normes de l'Ontario qui seront insérées parmi les autres machines dans nos restaurants, et puis là, vous verrez, il sera impossible de voir à ce que ces machines soient légales. Tout ce que nous allons faire, nous allons entrer dans un endroit qui a deux machines. Nous allons y insérer une autre, deux autres, trois autres. Je connais une place où on me dit qu'il y a 17 de ces machines-là et la personne s'en vante dans le moment. Elle dit qu'elle gagne 300 000 $ par année de ces machines.

Mais j'ai une petite nouvelle pour ces gens-là qui veulent continuer. Ils sont fiers peut-être de voir que le gouvernement va permettre ces machines. Mais chers amis qui écoutent à la télévision aujourd'hui, seulement 10 % de vos revenus de ces machines vont demeurer à l'établissement. Dix pour cent s'en vont vers les charités. Quelles organismes charitables vont bénéficier dans les secteurs ruraux ? Nous n'avons qu'apprécier Wintario. Wintario a été mis en place pour aider les organismes sportifs. Aujourd'hui, plus un sou demeure là. On va dire qu'on va prendre 10 % pour être distribué au secteur de la charité. Je n'y crois pas.

Mais le gouvernement a reconnu qu'il y a un très grand danger avec ce projet de loi. Nous avons à l'intérieur de notre projet de loi un montant de 2 % des revenus qui vont être concentrés pour les personnes qui dépendent de ces machines. Donc, nous avons déjà reconnu qu'il y a un danger. Je crois que le gouvernement devrait le reconnaître. Je regarde dans le moment ici un dépliant, une publication que j'ai reçue aujourd'hui. C'est intitulé «Dead Broke». Vous n'avez qu'à regarder à l'intérieur, et a la page couverture nous voyons un cimetière. Pourquoi voyons-nous ça ? C'est la continuité de ce qui existe et ça va même empirer ce que nous voyons dans les casinos.

Je connais un casino où ça fait neuf suicides à l'intérieur. La personne a perdu au-delà de 8 000 $ un soir. Il est rentré dans son appartement et était tout frustré. Il a donné un coup de pied sur un baril, un fusil, et finalement il l'a pris et s'est tué. À un autre endroit on parle de 76 000 $ de dettes. J'ai une coupure du journal Le Droit qui a paru récemment qui dit qu'un couple est devenu dépendant de ces machines au casino et ils ont tout perdu. Rappelez-vous, chers amis, lorsqu'on commence à fréquenter ces endroits, on veut toujours gagner. J'en connais un autre qui a gagné 25 $ mille. Il n'y a rien de tel, parce que là c'est juste l'attrait que nous aurons.

Ces machines, quand on dit qu'on va payer 78 % du temps, est-ce que nous avons déjà fait le calcul de ce que va rapporter les 78 % ? Je demande aux «backbenchers» de l'autre côté surtout de faire l'addition. Je suis convaincu que la majorité des membres élus du gouvernement sont contre ce projet de loi, mais M. Harris et ses collègues désirent aller de l'avant avec ce projet de loi qui va faire des séparations et des divorces additionnels, des suicides vont survenir, des faillites vont survenir. Qu'est-ce qui va survenir, comme j'ai dit au tout début ? Nous allons encourager le crime en Ontario, et c'est ça que je vois venir avec ce projet de loi.

Chers amis, je pourrais vous lire plusieurs lettres. Le journal Le Droit disait :

«Le casino...est un cadeau empoisonné.

«Les restaurateurs ont des maux de ventre, les organismes de charité hurlent de douleur, les entreprises de services sont en mauvaise santé...le "poison" commence à faire son effet, estiment plusieurs...moteurs de l'économie.»

J'ai un autre article qui nous dit que les gérants de banque maintenant sont allés chercher tous les revenus de certains groupes qui actuellement ont endetté la famille pour venir en bout de gagner leur argent.

J'en ai un autre :

«Rêves et vies brisés.

«La pauvreté au grand jour.

«"Les gens n'ont plus peur de la fin du monde, ils ont peur de la fin du mois."

«Ce sont plutôt les appels du gérant de banque qui provoquent des insomnies.»

Je crois qu'il est très important que ce gouvernement ne vote pas en faveur de ce projet de loi.

J'ai d'autres commentaires ici. Je me rappelle que mon collègue d'Ottawa-Rideau a dit en Chambre un jour : «Nous n'avons qu'arrêter les personnes qui ont des machines illégales.» Pourquoi n'avons-nous pas procédé de même dans le passé ? C'est à ce demander. Les policiers actuellement ont les mains liées et ne peuvent pas les arrêter. J'ai une autre personne qui entrait dans mon bureau l'autre jour pour me dire : «Monsieur le député, je m'en viens vous voir. Heureusement que j'ai une bonne épouse. Mais ce que j'ai vu ce matin est non tolérable. Je suis entré chez un dépanneur qui avait 17 de ces machines. Un jeune homme est entré et il a commencé à jouer sur ces machines illégales. Après un certain temps son épouse est entrée avec leur bébé dans ses bras et avec leur chèque de bien-être social. Il a encaissé le chèque et a tout joué dans la machine.

«C'est intolérable. Nous avons averti la Sûreté provinciale. C'est elle qui doit faire l'enquête maintenant.» C'est juste pour vous dire que cet homme âgé de 65 ans a réalisé le danger de ces machines.


J'ai souvent été à Las Vegas, à Atlantic City, à la Nouvelle-Écosse, même au Minnesota. J'ai visité tous les endroits où sont les machines -- pas tous les endroits. J'ai même été au Monaco voir les casinos. Savez-vous ce que le chauffeur de taxi m'a dit à Las Vegas ? Il a un gros danger. «Le vendredi soir, lorsque je reçois ma paie, la première chose que je fais, je vais acheter mes "groceries". Sinon, je n'aurai pas d'argent pour faire manger ma famille.»

Donc, chers amis, en Ontario nous avons 33 inspecteurs seulement pour la Régie des alcools. Est-ce que nous avons l'intention d'augmenter le nombre d'inspecteurs ? Sinon il n'y aura aucun, aucun contrôle sur ces machines. Comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, nous allons avoir une série de machines illégales qui vont être installées dans les restaurants, dans les hôtels, dans les bars, et puis aucune manière par laquelle les gens pourront les détecter, à l'exception d'ouvrir les machines pour voir.

Lorsque je dis que nous avons seulement 33 inspecteurs, si nous sommes intéressés à aller chercher de l'argent en Ontario sans aller aux coupures de 30 % que nous projectons, que les gens vont payer, dont seulement les gros salariés vont bénéficier, je crois qu'il y a beaucoup d'autres manières. J'ai présenté un projet de loi le 4 juin dernier. Je disais qu'en Ontario, nous perdons de 14 000 à 15 000 emplois par année. Qu'avons-nous fait depuis ? Vous allez voir mercredi prochain ce que fera le gouvernement du Québec. Vous allez voir que nous n'avons pas gagné un pouce.

J'ai un bel exemple ici. Si le gouvernement de l'Ontario était si sérieux d'aller recueillir autant de l'argent possible, vous n'avez qu'à regarder l'ambassade des États-Unis qu'on prévoit construire à Ottawa, seulement une taxe. Les dirigeants de l'ambassade nous ont dit que tout entrepreneur était exempt de la taxe. Nous avons appelé revenu Ontario ici. Il y a une perte de 2.718 millions de dollars parce que la compagnie du Québec doit entreprendre les travaux. Je n'ai pas peur de dire que nous avons arrêté la construction. Ce sont des revenus que nous perdons pour la province, et je crois que le gouvernement devrait prendre ça au sérieux.

J'ai une lettre --

Mr Michael Brown: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe we need a quorum to hear the words of the member for Prescott and Russell.

The Speaker: Is there a quorum present?

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

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Speaker: The member for Prescott and Russell.

Mr Lalonde: I was getting to another letter that I received just recently from the Premier's riding, from North Bay itself. A contractor wrote me a letter last week stating that he had just lost a contract to a Quebec firm. When I say we are able to get our money in other places but to go to the VLTs, to the slot machines, this contractor is right in the town of Mike Harris, the Premier. He lost the contract by $60,000.

Do you know how much in taxes we are losing in this? Some $135,000 in retail sales tax, besides the income tax, besides other services. We will have people in North Bay who will be on welfare. I was in North Bay, and when they allow those VLTs in North Bay, what is going to happen in the centre of town? I was down there. They have the most beautiful commercial sector that any small municipality would have, in two and a half blocks. Twenty-two stores are closed right in North Bay. When we say that this is going to affect the economy, I don't know what's going to happen in North Bay.

If you go to Cornwall, it's even worse. If I go to Hawkesbury, it's in poor shape because of the economy. When I look at all those charitable bingos that we have at the present time, we do feel the opening of the casino in our place, and I'm sure in Rama, I'm sure in Windsor, and I'm sure it's going to be happening right in Niagara Falls. People will suffer; the economy will suffer.

Je pourrais vous dire que le gouvernement libéral en 1990 n'a pas eu recours aux revenus illégaux qui allaient briser les familles. Il a fini avec un surplus de 90 $ millions en 1990. Êtes-vous capable de me dire --

L'hon Noble A. Villeneuve (ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones) : C'était un accident.

M. Lalonde : Le député de Stormont, Dundas et Glengarry, l'honorable M. Villeneuve, êtes-vous capable me dire quel autre gouvernement a réussi comme le gouvernement libéral de M. Peterson ? Ce n'est pas un accident.

Le Vice-Président (M. Gilles Morin) : Vous aurez l'occasion de répondre tout à l'heure, si vous voulez attendre patiemment.

M. Lalonde: Je regrette de voir que l'honorable ministre s'objecte aux points que je soulève, mais vous avez certainement reçu des lettres de votre comté, parce que j'en ai reçu ici qui sont contre les VLT, contre ces machines «slot machines».

Espérons que le gouvernement va prendre en considération les problèmes qui peuvent survenir en Ontario. C'est très important que nous analysons tous les points lorsqu'on dit qu'on veut donner l'autorité administrative aux municipalités. Est-ce que nous avons consulté les municipalités pour voir si nous étions en faveur de l'installation des VLTs ? Nous allons voir la redistribution de nos comtés, nous allons voir l'amalgamation des municipalités, mais encore là c'est qu'on veut couper les coûts. Lorsque nous avons une voix dans notre propre municipalité pour nous adresser à un conseiller ou à un maire, maintenant nous allons faire des distances incroyables afin de contacter notre maire juste pour dire que nous voulons atteindre nos objectifs qui n'ont pas été analysés, le fait de réduire l'impôt de 30 % aux hauts salariés de cette province.

Encore une fois j'espère que nous n'aurons pas l'identification de la province du crime dans un avenir proche. J'espère que nous allons retenir ce projet de loi le plus longtemps possible afin que nos familles, nos organismes de charité peuvent continuer à fonctionner comme on fait dans le moment. Il sera impossible dans les régions où nous allons installer ces machines-là.

J'ai un point que je devrais faire. L'autre jour, jeudi dernier, j'ai eu un appel. On m'a dit, en m'appelant par mon prénom : «Jean-Marc, il y a un hôtel dans Vanier et j'aimerais installer des machines vidéo. On s'attendait à ce qu'on pourrait remplir une salle de machines vidéo, de VLTs.»

J'ai dit : "Monsieur et Madame, ne croyez pas faire de l'argent avec ça. Vous allez avoir 10 %, et lorsque la personne rentre dans le restaurant ou dans l'hôtel avec 10 $, est-ce que le profit sur les repas n'est pas plus haut que 10 % ? Est-ce que le profit sur les bouteilles de bière n'est pas plus haut que 10 % ? L'argent va se dépenser dans ces machines-là, elle va laisser la région où nous allons collectionner ces argents-là auprès des VLTs et elle ne reviendra pas dans la région. Nous allons appauvrir les régions.»

Après ça on va dire : «Mais c'est votre conseil municipal qui a décidé ça. Vous avez complètement oublié de consulter votre conseil municipal.»

For those who didn't understand what I'm saying at the present time, it's funny, the government keeps saying, "We have to give more authority to the municipalities." But in this case, I've never heard the government saying, "We have contacted the municipalities to see if they were in favour." I've received 12 letters from municipalities that are against VLTs. If the government at this time is not able or capable of supervising the 20,000 to 25,000 illegal VLTs that we have here in Ontario -- that is the number that has been thrown at us by your own government, not us; that was told to us last week right here in the chamber -- I just don't know, gentlemen, how you are going to control those illegal machines.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac-Nipigon) : Je prends plaisir à commenter en bref sur les propos que notre ami, notre collègue de Prescott et Russell, a souligné. Il l'a fait avez passion parce que, comme vous le savez si bien, quand on parle de ce vice, quand on parle de cette séduction, de cet appât, quand on parle d'un gouvernement qui est insatiable, qui a besoin à travers tous les moyens d'aller chercher les derniers cinq sous dans les poches de vos petits-enfants, la situation est une situation grave, une situation de crise.

On parle ici des écoles. Il n'y a plus de lieux sacrés. Le bruit de ses pas, le son de sa voix, mais le citoyen n'y est pas. Le citoyen ne peut pas dire «Non.» L'opium, ces opiats, pour séduire jusqu'aux derniers 10 cents, jusqu'aux derniers cinq cents. Où est parti le moralité ? Où est parti l'autonomie des conseils scolaires ? Où sont allés les qualités, les vertus qui font qu'une société respecte les uns les autres ? C'est la soif du pouvoir accompagné de celle de l'argent, sans dimension humaine, sans consultation. C'est lui, ce soldat de Prescott et Russell, qui encore une fois nous l'a rappelé. Je le félicite. Vous aussi, Monsieur le Président. Mes hommages.

L'hon M. Villeneuve: Il me fait plaisir de faire des commentaires sur le discours de mon collègue, mon ami de Prescott et Russell.

Premièrement, nous avons dans la province de l'Ontario de 20 000 à 25 000 machines qui sont absolument illégales. Il est question de retirer ces machines-là pour que ce soit bel et bien légalisé.

Mon collègue de Prescott et Russell, je crois à un moment donné que j'ai lu dans le Citizen d'Ottawa qu'il avait visité le casino de Hull, avait gagné des dollars assez considérables qu'il a cru sage de ramener en Ontario. Je le félicite, parce qu'au casino de Hull -- je n'ai pas eu l'occasion de visiter ni le casino de Hull ni le casino de Montréal, mais par contre, il y a des plaques ontariennes en masse qui visitent ces endroits-là.

Quand on dit que nous avons de 20 000 à 25 000 machines illégales en Ontario, ça nous fait penser, ça nous fait songer sérieusement que si le gouvernement pouvait contrôler cette opération tellement illégale, ce serait peut-être quelque chose de bon. Quand nous voyons les plaques ontariennes qui visitent le Québec, qui visitent la ville de Montréal, et il n'y a certainement rien de mal à visiter la ville de Montréal ou la ville de Hull, et les gens de Hull et de Montréal sont certainement bienvenus en Ontario, mais il y a une question référendaire qui se pose dans la ville d'Alexandria aujourd'hui même, comme on parle, dans le moment, pour voir si les gens d'Alexandria vont choisir une question de casino. La réponse va être très intéressante.

The Deputy Speaker: Further questions or comments?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I just want to congratulate my colleague from Prescott and Russell. I'm happy to have heard the intervention from the Minister of Agriculture. I too live in the area served by the Ottawa Citizen. I read it carefully. I've been watching with some interest, as I know the member from Prescott and Russell would have seen, the ongoing reports and deep-seated concern about some of the impacts of the Hull casino. In fact, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Gatineau, among others, is in the Ottawa Citizen expressing a very genuine concern about a situation that's now occurring in Gatineau, which is a suburban part of west Ottawa, in Quebec, obviously. We have a situation where there is a soup kitchen that has had a very substantial increase in business since the Hull casino opened, and that should surprise no one, because the pockets of people have been depleted. There are scores of additional people who have gambled away their money. They are going to the soup kitchen. The way the soup kitchen in Gatineau has funded itself is with a bingo licence. The bingo has been just destroyed.

I'm telling you what is being reported in the Ottawa press. We have a situation, and I ask my friend the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, what's wrong with this picture? We've got a soup kitchen whose business has gone up dramatically because the Hull casino has opened and is generating a lot more business, and the way the soup kitchen in Gatineau has been funded is with a bingo. The bingo is now basically destroyed because all of the money is going to the Hull casino.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): Bingo is gambling too.

Mr Conway: Of course it's gambling, but there is a qualitatively different kind of gambling involved. I want to say that I want to associate myself with the concerns of the Roman Catholic bishop of Gatineau and others who are faced with the tragic social consequences of gambling that has overreached itself, that's gone too far, and seeks to destroy the social equilibrium that surely we all want.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This series of debates about this bill has been most troubling, especially when one reflects on the fact that there was available to this government a CISO report that the government sat on, that it hid. They denied its existence and then they stonewalled in response to requests to have the report made public. The question has to be asked, why? You see, this was a report about, among other things, organized crime.

What we discovered, once the report finally became available to the opposition, was that organized crime, the mob, has already entered the picture, because the very report that this government tried its darnedest to keep secret was one that revealed that, yes, a prominent former member of an organized crime syndicate, one Lucio Sandrin, director and shareholder of Cadith Entertainments Ltd, was one of the submitters to the committee hearings, of course in support of video lottery terminals. Cadith Entertainments, this company that's so eager to get into partnership with this government in the development of electronic slots, VLTs, why, one of the directors of Cadith, one Frank Di Maria, currently faces numerous racketeering and grand theft charges in Florida over alleged skimming of funds from charity bingos.

These are the sort of people this government wants to get into a partnership with. This is why --

The Deputy Speaker: I won't accept that comment. I won't accept that comment at all. You won't associate the government with the members you are referring to. I won't accept that at all and I would ask you to withdraw.

Mr Kormos: Withdrawn.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Kormos: It's people like Lucio Sandrin, former close associate in the Volpe mob, who wants to get into the slot machine business here in the province of Ontario. It's this legislation that opens the door to him and --

The Deputy Speaker: Your time has expired. Thank you. The member for Prescott-Russell, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Lalonde: First, I want to thank the members for their comments.

I'd just like to come back to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. He just said a little while ago, "I haven't visited the one in Montreal, I haven't visited the one in Hull."

Monsieur le Ministre, si vous n'avez pas eu la chance de visiter ces casinos, comment pouvez-vous voter ? Comment pouvez-vous identifier lorsque ces personnes-là deviennent adonnés ou deviennent dépendants de ces machines ? C'est vrai que j'ai gagné un certain montant, mais je crois que le tout était monté par votre parti. Lorsque je suis arrivé à Toronto, parti de là, j'ai aperçu dans le Toronto Sun que j'avais rapporté $ 218. Nous y avons été visiter avec vos collègues, mais encore là, la presse m'a demandé, «Est-ce que maintenant tu es en faveur des VLTs ?» J'ai dit, «Cela ne me fera pas changer d'idée.»

Chers amis, j'ai un article ici qui vient de la paroisse Saint-Alphonse de Ligouri de Hawkesbury : «Le casino est un cadeau empoisonné qui a tué tous les bingos...et qui a privé les associations à but non lucratif, particulièrement celles qui s'occupent des pauvres, des loisirs et autres activités très louables.»

Je me demande ce que veut dans l'avenir notre ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales. Mon collègue M. Conway a mentionné tout à l'heure la soupière de Gatineau. C'est vrai. Nous avons un organisme à Gatineau, qui est juste de l'autre côté de la rivière. Nous connaissons les mêmes problèmes en Ontario. Les organismes à but non lucratif ont des difficultés à fonctionner. Les gens deviennent addictés au bingo, deviennent dépendent des vidéos. Ils se rendent là et dépensent tout leur argent. Les bingos ne fonctionnent plus, et maintenant nous devrons assister plus souvent.


The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill 75. I have not been a member of the justice committee, but I did have the opportunity to participate in the public hearing that took place in my community on August 20. I wanted to go to that because I wanted to hear very clearly what people, not only in my community but from across northeastern Ontario, had to say about this particular piece of legislation. The comments I'm going to raise today very much reflect what people said at that hearing.

In beginning, I want to say that, quite contrary to the comments which were made by the member for Ottawa-Rideau in this chamber last week, all of northern Ontario does not support Bill 75 or the introduction of VLTs. I heard him stand in his place and tell this House that northern Ontario was very supportive. The fact of the matter is, in Sudbury there was overwhelming opposition to the government proposal.

We heard from the regional municipality of Sudbury, from a representative who had spent a great deal of time researching this particular matter, who had written to a number of police forces right across the country to try and get from them information with respect to increased crime with the introduction of video slots.

We heard from lottery ticket distributors who were totally opposed. We heard from a bingo hall owner, two in fact, who were completely opposed. We heard from a number of service clubs and social service agencies who as well made it clear that they were very much opposed to Bill 75, people like Mr Dan Piché, for example, who is an employee at Sudbury Family Service. In their case, Nevada ticket sales represent the second-highest source of their income and he is very concerned that if they lose that revenue, their social service agency will not be able to continue to provide bilingual counselling to many families across the city of Sudbury.

We heard from Pat O'Malley, who was a representative of the Sudbury Board of Education Secondary School Principals' Association, who came because at his secondary school Nevada tickets allow that secondary school to sponsor over 30 co-curricular and athletic activities. He is very concerned that when they have to match up against VLTs, the revenues that they get now from Nevada are going to mean that high school cannot offer those programs to those students, and then what will they be doing?

We heard from Kit LeFroy, who came from Laurentian University Volleyball Club, same type of thing. The revenue that his teams raise through Nevada sales allow those teams to travel to volleyball tournaments right across the province. He was very concerned about what they would do with a loss in revenue and what would happen if they couldn't allow those teams to participate any more.

We had a representative from Elliot Lake who was the president of the Elliot Lake Vikings, which is a two-tier hockey system in Elliot Lake. The sale of Nevada tickets and the proceeds from the same allow them to support five travel teams in that community, allow them to bring in tournaments which also help to keep the arena functioning and also help to keep people employed in the concession.

Finally, we heard a very moving and a very powerful speech by Jacqueline Morvan, who came all the way from Kapuskasing to make a presentation to the committee in Sudbury. Mrs Morvan had been involved in any number of fund-raising activities in her community for many months now. She first became involved in raising money for minor hockey, where over 600 kids in Kapuskasing participate. She became involved then in raising money for people who were disabled in the community, who needed money for wheelchairs.

Her last project was to help raise funds for the roof at the swimming pool. Because the municipality didn't have enough money to repair it, it was closed down, and she went out and they raised some, I believe, $30,000, if I'm correct, to help make those renovations. She made it exceptionally clear to the committee that if she and her organization could not rely on revenue from Nevada ticket sales, they would not be able to continue on with the very good work she is doing in her community.

The organizations which came forward in Sudbury by and large firmly believe that if they have to have their Nevada ticket sales compete against VLTs, they will lose. They made that clear time and again.

Let me just tell you what Patrick O'Malley said about that particular situation. He said: "It has been through our business of Nevada partnership that significant help has been forthcoming to help us make these purchases," -- for their extracurricular activities -- "and I'm convinced that if VLTs are introduced into the Sudbury community, the consequences are inevitable. The revenues from Nevada tickets will definitely be cut by a significant percentage, and I think that's true because VLTs, as I see them, are targeted directly against Nevada tickets. It is exactly the same kind of gaming."

Patrick O'Malley wasn't the only presenter who made the same case. Mr Piché from Sudbury Family Service made the case as well, that the kind of gaming involved in VLTs, the people who would be attracted are the same people they rely on to purchase Nevada tickets, and they're the same people they rely on to purchase Nevada tickets whose proceeds from the same they want back into their community. They firmly believe that the introduction of VLTs into every bar and into every restaurant across our community will dramatically affect their organizations and the people they are trying to help, particularly families who need counselling, particularly young people they're trying to keep off the street, involved in other productive activities.

It also must be pointed out that every one of the organizations that came forward to oppose Bill 75 made it clear that they did not believe for one moment that the 10% share of revenues from the VLTs that the government says is going to come back to them will in fact come back to them. They made it absolutely clear that they do not believe they will be considered as charities by this government in order to receive 10% of that funding.

It was interesting that the parliamentary assistant tried very hard to tell any number of presenters that it was the government's intention and indeed the government was going to follow through on its intention that 10% of the proceeds, of the gross revenue that came from VLTs, would return to the charities.

As he was asking a question of Mr Piché, he said the following:

"I know one of your concerns is with respect to charities. Charities will receive 10% of the gross revenues from the video lotteries, so it's a substantial amount of money. The increase to charities will be up to $180 million more than charities are receiving today in the province. It's a very substantial sum of money and we are going to have an implementation consultation following this enabling legislation...I would hope that organizations such as yours would want to participate in that consultation process, particularly with respect to what charities qualify, where permanent charity gaming halls should be located, the regulation of them and that sort of thing."

No one, but no one, bought in to the government line. No one believed the government when the government members came to Sudbury that day and said, "Trust us; 10% of the gross revenues are going to come back to charities."

In response to the parliamentary assistant's insistence that this was going to happen, a number of the groups said the following:

"Mr Piché: My only concern is that right now you have agencies who have their own fund-raising; they make their own money. Now Nevada sales, let's say, drop 50%. That money is being spent on local economies. If we put in VLTs, that money is now going to go to the provincial government. That money's going to get sucked out of the local economy. You say you're going to give it back to the charities, but more than likely it's not going to be in the same proportion. Like the money that's being spent in Sudbury now, part of that money may not come back to Sudbury. It could go to Toronto or to Ottawa."


This is what Mr LeFroy said with respect to the parliamentary assistant's insistence that the revenues would return. He was particularly concerned about what mechanism would be implemented to try and determine which group was in fact a legitimate charity and how, during the implementation process, the government was ever going to come up with any kind of reasonable formula that would select which charities were important, which should be considered for funding, which at the end of day should still be allowed to do good work in their community. He said it was impossible and he said it in this way:

Ontario is "a huge place and the needs in Chesley are different than the needs in London or in Sudbury or in Thunder Bay or wherever. I defy the wisest provincial minister, the wisest provincial bureaucrat to be able to make all those decisions in an enlightened, albeit very well-intentioned manner. It's beyond comprehension for me to believe that could happen."

You know what? He's exactly right. There is no way the government is going to be able to put in place a formula that will allow the many charities that are operating in our communities now to then be classified as charities under the new scheme and to receive some revenue. It's just not going to happen.

Don Primeau, who came from Elliot Lake to make a presentation at the hearing, replied in this way:

"Because we are a small community, the overall impact of video lottery terminals will be devastating. If this standing committee considers the effect of video lottery terminals in other provinces such as Alberta, where moneys promised to organizations have not been honoured, and some of those needed organizations have gone under as a result, then it should be easy to see that the same scenario is about to hit our province. The smaller communities face losing non-profit organizations and charitable organizations and will be placed in a position where these organizations will in all probability be lost for good."

I believe that is exactly the case. You only have to look at what has happened with respect to the Ontario Lottery Corp and the proceeds from the same to see that people in the community who are very concerned about whether the revenues will come back have a right to be concerned: $27 million went out of the Sudbury community via Lotto 6/49 and other tickets last year. I ask you, how much of that do you think came back to do good work in our community? Not a whole heck of a lot, and I suspect that's the same thing across any number of communities in our province.

I have a small municipality in the east part of my riding; $1 million went out of that community of 800 last year. What did they get in return? Nothing. That's why not only small communities but many service organizations, many social agencies that rely on the proceeds from Nevada tickets don't believe the government for a moment when the government says: "Don't worry. We'll look after you. You'll be designated as a charity. You're going to get 10% of the revenue." They don't believe it because that's not what happens with respect to Ontario Lottery Corp funding across any number of our communities.

If the government had really been serious about putting its money where its mouth is with respect to this issue, then the government would have agreed with the opposition amendments that were put at committee that said, "Put it in the bill." If you believe it, if you have the guts to go out and tell any number of social service agencies throughout the public hearings and any number of communities that this is what's going to be done, then why didn't the government members accept the opposition amendments that would have clearly said in the bill that 10% of the gross revenues are coming back to charities in this province? The government members refused to do that. Any number of charitable groups that came before the committee should take that as a clear indication of what the government intends to do. That money is not going to be coming back to our communities.

Those organizations, big and small, that do very necessary work, very important work, right across our communities are not going to see this so-called 10% return. The small groups know very well that when they have to face big charitable organizations that have full-time fund-raisers, this government is not going to look at them, this government is not going to register them as charities. No one is fooled.

So at the end of the day, by the mere fact alone that the government members voted down this amendment that would have incorporated right into the bill that 10% of the gross revenues are coming back, by the mere fact that that wasn't put in, all of the local charities who came before the committee should take that as a sure sign that they're going to be cut out of this process, that there's no point whatsoever for them to participate in the implementation process because they don't have a hope in hell of being registered as charities by this government.

I think that's a real shame because people like Jacqueline Morvan and other people who do very good, very important work in their communities will not have a chance once the VLTs are introduced when the money doesn't come back to allow them to do the good work they have been doing for many years now.

I also frankly had some real problems believing the estimates on job creation which I heard bandied about during the public hearings in Sudbury. These figures were bandied about as being new jobs that would be created once we had video slot machines introduced into Ontario.

First with respect to the presentation made by the Ontario Hotel and Motel Association. There were two representatives there who made presentations. One of those, I should say, is a well-respected member in my community who, during the whole time I was minister, came to lobby me annually about our government introducing VLTs. And every single time I said that we were not interested and I was not personally interested in supporting that recommendation. To her credit, she came again to this committee because now she does have the ear of the government, a government that when it was in opposition was against the introduction of VLTs but now seems to have changed its mind on the road to Damascus and is prepared to introduce it.

They talked about, during their presentation, the fact that across their industry sales were down about 20%, that 100,000 jobs had been lost in Ontario, that there had been 1,400 bankruptcies in this industry since 1992. What they said at the committee hearing was that the introduction of video slot machines was going to be the panacea for all of the hotel-motel industry's ills, that the introduction of VLTs in every bar, in every restaurant was going to mean a revitalization of this entire industry, that it was going to save them all. In fact, they also released a press release on the same day of the hearings to say the following: "Video lottery terminals will create 10,000 new jobs for our industry."

I had some difficulty understanding that and, frankly, some difficulty in really accepting it because I know that on August 7, Mr Ivan Sack, who is from the Canadian Casino News, appeared before the justice committee here in Toronto and had quite a bit to say about just how many jobs had been created in other jurisdictions when video slot machines were introduced. I found his remarks very interesting because, frankly, I thought it contrasted greatly to the anticipated job numbers that had been put out by the hotel-motel association. And it's worth repeating here what Mr Ivan Sack of Canadian Casino News, who knows a little bit about this industry, had to say before the committee on August 7:

"It is too early to say how many jobs would be created by placing VLTs in bars and at racetracks, as the racing industry has yet to completely weigh the tradeoffs in the decrease in its handle against the gains from the VLTs. However, given that the racing industry already has cashiers, the job gains here would be limited primarily to service attendants and repair people for the VLTs. The same would also apply to bars, where on the assumption that each licence is restricted to four VLTs, it would mean no additional bar staff, though additional attendants and roving repair people. The management control system would have to be staffed up and, depending upon the configuration used, additional jobs would be created here."

He gave the numbers in Quebec which showed that with 14,500 slots they were looking at 300 jobs to be created. We know there are some 20,000 machines that are probably going to be legalized in the province if and when this bill goes through, and that doesn't represent anywhere near the 10,000 jobs that the Ontario Hotel and Motel Association claims will be created if the government moves forward on this.


Frankly, I also had trouble understanding the presentation that came from the racetrack Sudbury Downs. Sudbury Downs as well talked a great deal about all of the increase in employment that would go on at the track if VLTs were introduced. I just want to quote a couple of lines from what they said:

"Sudbury Downs is a gaming entertainment facility and as such embraces the pending video lottery opportunity to revive our on-track horse racing activity. We envision new life into our horse racing operation, more live racing dates and increased purses, and that will encourage more local ownership and attract other horsemen to our community."

Sudbury Downs went on, because they weren't satisfied just with ensuring the government members understood they wanted video slots right at the track, to talk about their offtrack betting facilities and really encouraged the government to guarantee that VLTs would also go into those premises. They said, "We feel that for all northern communities to benefit from this type of entertainment within a limited and secure environment the distribution of video lottery terminals into our extended arm teletheatres is a must."

What I found interesting, and I found it interesting that the member for Niagara South when he was talking about the horse racing industry in his community didn't mention it, is that at the end of the day what Sudbury Downs wants is to guarantee that they and they alone have video slots at the track or at the operations offering teletheatre betting, but they were not interested whatsoever in the government putting VLTs either into other bars or other restaurants where they were not located. So, "It's okay to have VLTs as long as we get them, but if we're not going to get them exclusively, then you shouldn't have them anywhere in the province."

What I found really interesting is this real contradiction in the point of view that was put across by Sudbury Downs. They said, "We want them, we want them at the track, we want them where we have teletheatre betting, but don't have them anywhere else because it might cause social and economic concerns." Let me quote:

"We hold as a serious concern the irreparable damage suffered to our northern Ontario horse racing industry should VLTs be deployed on a massive scale at non-teletheatre sites. This situation has been documented in several other jurisdictions, including most recently the province of Manitoba.

"We are also concerned that a massive distribution of VLTs into a multitude of sites across the province could lead to the creation of serious, adverse socioeconomic consequences that have been experienced in some other jurisdictions."

How come it's okay if we've got them at the downs or it's okay if we've got them in our teletheatre sites, and that won't cause serious, irreparable damage to the fabric of our society, but if you have them anywhere else, it sure will? What a self-serving argument. I was amazed that a representative from this organization would come and make such a comment.

I wondered, as I listened to the member for Niagara South last week, whether or not that wasn't exactly the same situation that had been put forward by the Fort Erie Race Track. I'll bet, if I took a look at the presentation made to the committee by the Fort Erie Race Track, I'd see the same opinions: "We want them at our site but God forbid the government let them loose anywhere else because that'll cause social damage, that will cause economic damage. It's okay if we have them, but no one else should." What a ridiculous argument.

Again it's worth noting that when you go back to what Mr Sack said, it's very clear that he, who is no stranger to casinos, who is no stranger to gaming -- he is after all the writer of Canadian Casino News -- when you go back to his comments to the committee on August 7, he made it clear that all of the jobs that have been talked about, all of this increase in employment is really suspect. At the end of the day what you may have is an increase in employment because you have to hire people to look after the repair of the machines, but at the end of the day there has been no significant increase in employment in other jurisdictions at this point because of the decrease on the purse, and I think that's worth noting.

So all the rhetoric that we've heard from this government about the huge increase we're going to see in employment around the province with the introduction of video slots is just that -- rhetoric. Mr Sack, who knows about these things, made it clear what had gone on in other jurisdictions and the fact that, despite the introduction of at least 14,000 in Quebec, you had only 300 jobs created, not anywhere near the 10,000 the hotel and motel association talked about, not anywhere near the hundreds that I'm sure all of the racetracks combined, if you add them all up with respect to their presentation, would have put forward.

I also want to talk a little bit about my concern at the government's complete dismissal of the OPP report. I know at the beginning of the hearings opposition members from the committee were made aware of the existence of this report. They didn't have a copy of it. The person who made them aware of it didn't have a copy but had seen it. They asked in the committee, at the very beginning of these hearings, that the government make available this particular report so the committee would have the benefit of the advice of the OPP and the benefit of understanding clearly what consequences the OPP felt were going to come with the legalization and the introduction of video slot machines in Ontario. It's interesting that the opposition members were told the report didn't exist. Its existence was denied by the government members, even though the committee members from the opposition side knew it existed, knew someone who had seen a copy of it.

I think it's just ridiculous that we are dealing with a bill of this magnitude and we know that there exists a report which outlines very serious concerns on the part of the OPP with respect to VLTs and with respect to the presence of organized crime in this province. The report, as we know from the review of it that went on on TV, makes two points very clearly: one, that legalization of video slots in the province does not remove the problem of illegal machines in the province; and two, that there is a definite link between video slot machines in the province and organized crime.

You would think that a government that was making a significant policy change -- because there certainly is a significant policy change; when some of these people were in opposition they spoke ferociously against the introduction of VLTs in this province -- that same group of people who are making a major shift in policy and direction and changing their direction entirely from when they were in opposition would at least be smart enough, be decent enough, to get a copy of the report and read what it says. The OPP, after all, is a provincial police force, it's your police force. Aren't you interested in what these folks have to say to you? You employ them, for goodness' sake. These are people who deal with gambling. The people who put the report together know something about what's happening in Ontario.

Not only is the report not released to the public, but the same people who are involved in writing it, who have expressed serious concerns about it, have not even been approached by this government to hear their views. We know that Detective Staff Sergeant Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gambling squad said, "I was never asked about input into Bill 75."

What is the responsibility of the Solicitor General in this respect? What is the responsibility of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who is bringing this bill forward? Surely to goodness, when we know in this House, as we do now, that a briefing note on this very serious issue was prepared on March 18, it would have been the responsibility of one of them or both of them to get a copy of that report, to read about the concerns and to bring that very information before their cabinet colleagues and make sure that the entire cabinet knew about the very serious concerns being raised by the OPP about this very piece of legislation the government was proceeding on.

But these two ministers have hidden their heads in the sand. They have assumed no responsibility for what's happening. I wonder what they do at work every day, since both of them deny that they ever saw the briefing report, even though someone must have seen the whole document in order to prepare a note.

I find it unacceptable that these two ministers couldn't come forward, wouldn't come forward, refuse now to make this public, and the government itself is going to proceed despite the serious concerns raised by the OPP. I can only say it must be pretty sad that you folks are so desperate you would ignore these very, very important recommendations from your own police force.


The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Certainly I'd like to commend the member for Sudbury East. She truly reflects the mood that was present in the hearings in Sudbury and she's clarified the record, she's made sure that the record is straight. The people in the Sudbury region aren't in favour of VLTs. In fact, proportionately to the survey that was done, we would suggest that there are less people in Sudbury in favour of VLTs than in the --


Mr Bartolucci: Slot machines, VLTs -- makes no difference. The people in Sudbury are upset with the direction that this government is taking. Let me make a couple of quotes to the House so that you'll understand how the people in Sudbury are thinking.

Austen Davey, who is a Sudbury city councillor: "These machines have a real ability to suck up money...they don't discriminate among the rent, grocery or leisure fund. You get four or five drinks into you and a VLT can suck up the rent in a hurry." That's from a member of the city council. He's concerned. The entire city council is concerned.

If you listen to the Addiction Research Foundation person, Rosa Dragonetti: "VLTs are the crack cocaine of gambling. Other provinces have had serious problems with these machines and we will too."

They're giving us advance warning. We have to make changes in the direction we're going. Will the government listen? Will they listen to Ross Hastings, who said, "The upper echelons of organized crime are not losing any sleep over (the government decision to legalize VLTs)"?

We must listen to the experts. We must listen to the people of Ontario. They want this government to take a different direction. They're not satisfied that this is the way we get out of debt.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I want to commend the member for Sudbury East for the comments she gave that were right on topic, right to the issue, and exactly what has been heard at all of the various hearings we've had on this issue.

The government is interesting. They sit there on the one hand on a secret report. Why? Because the secret report is a report that is negative to the government and a report that has indicated within it, according to some sources, that the people in organized crime in this province are actually associated with this particular matter. I just say to the government, on the one hand you guys try to close your eyes to what's going on within the secret report that basically said you have a problem in this area, and on the other hand you try to take credit when things are right. You can't have it both ways.

The government has to take its responsibility and it has to be accountable to the people of Ontario. Certainly what we're seeing with this particular report is a government that says there is a report there, and the Solicitor General says he hasn't read it, he hasn't seen it, he hasn't been briefed about it. You have to ask yourself the question: Is the minister doing his job?

The answer to that question is one of two: Either the minister doesn't know what's going on in the ministry, at which point he is incompetent and should not be the minister responsible, or, on the other hand, the minister was trying to hide information and not make it public so that people didn't get an opportunity to see it. I would only want to guess which one it is, depending.

The point is, why were they not trying to get the report to go forward and why didn't they want it to be public? It was very simple: They were hiding it because it was bad news to the government, it was a report that said there were all kinds of problems in regard to organized crime being involved with this particular industry, and that by the government moving forward on VLTs there was an opening to allow the mob to get involved in the particular business, which the government is saying they want to snuggle up to and get in bed with. I really wonder --

The Speaker: Order. The member for Cochrane South, that is out of order. I would ask that you withdraw.

Mr Bisson: I withdraw, Speaker.

Mr Flaherty: I listened with interest to the remarks of the member for Sudbury East, who was present at the justice committee hearings the one day that the justice committee sat in Sudbury on this subject. The committee sat for a total of I believe it was 14 days, and we heard from presenters not only in Sudbury but also in Kenora and Thunder Bay and Fort Erie and Sarnia and Ottawa and Toronto.

The majority of the persons who made presentations to us were very supportive of this legislation in the racetrack industry, which employs many people in this province, many of who otherwise might well not be employed, and also in the hospitality sector.

I want to address one specific point that I heard the member for Sudbury East speaking about, and that is break-open tickets and the suggestion or evidence before the committee at the hearings that break-open tickets would be adversely affected by the introduction of video lotteries. The evidence is not so.

In Alberta, for example, there is no evidence that the break-open ticket revenue declined directly related to the introduction of video lotteries. In Atlantic Canada, where there's experience in this regard again, break-open ticket sales experienced little or no impact as a result of the introduction of video lotteries.

These are the factual situations, the realities, the on-the-ground happenings that we're able to access because eight other provinces in Canada have experience in this matter, and this is some of the information that, fortunately, we're able to have as part of the committee.

This is, of course, framework legislation and not implementation legislation, and there will be more work to do, which the government acknowledges, on the implementation front, particularly with respect to various forms of gaming like break-open tickets.

Mr Michael Brown: I'm pleased to comment on the remarks of the member for Sudbury East, but in doing so, I think members of the House would be interested to know that, as she mentioned, various communities across northern Ontario have expressed great interest in this bill.

One of those that she didn't allude to was Espanola. I received from the Espanola hospital auxiliary a letter that says very clearly they do not want to see slot machines in Espanola. They believe it will impact on the revenues that the hospital auxiliary receives by way of break-open tickets and other such raffles, and they will not be able to help the hospital and maintain the hospital. The Espanola town council has passed a resolution that objects to having slot machines in Espanola. Places like Elliot Lake also object, and many of the other small communities within my constituency share the view of Ontarians.

Just to be clear, asked in a very recent poll, "Would you support or oppose the introduction of video slot machines in bars, restaurants and taverns in your neighbourhood?" do you know what the support level is? It's 32%, with 62% of people opposed.

Asked another question, "What impact do you think the introduction of video slot machines in local bars, restaurants and taverns would have on the level of crime in the province? Would it cause it to increase?" 51% of Ontarians believed that. Only 2% believe it would decrease crime -- 2%. Quite unbelievable. Considering that this party that is now the government campaigned against this very issue, I ask you to reconsider your decision.


Mr Kormos: One of the things that's warranted here is a series of questions. Some of them have been asked. Why did the government sit on the CISO report? Was it because the CISO report revealed that organized crime was already involved in the solicitation and support of this government in their bid to have VLTs established?

We know there are millions and millions of dollars to be made and we know VLTs attract organized crime and the mob the way cow flops attract flies. This government knows it or ought to know it and ought to be a little more candid about the reality of it.

It knew that people like Lucio Sandrin, director and shareholder of Cadith Entertainments Ltd, was the author of one of the submissions to the committee calling upon this government to get those video slots into play as quickly as possible. Who's Lucio Sandrin? Who's this character that the government would call upon for support for its proposition? Lucio Sandrin's described to me as a prominent former member of an organized crime syndicate who is currently the operator of a number of bingo and charity casinos here in the province of Ontario. Who's his partner? Another Cadith director, Frank Di Maria. He's some clown down in Florida facing charges for racketeering and grand theft over alleged skimming of funds from charity bingos. These are the people who were named and identified in the CISO report as being supportive and prepared to support and eagerly advocating that this government get the slots out there as quickly as possible.

The question has to be asked, why wasn't Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gambling squad consulted in any way, shape or form by this government before it embarked on its video slot machine campaign, building this little warren where the mob and organized crime could find shelter --

The Speaker: To the member for Welland-Thorold, I realize that you did get in as the fifth member. I thought you might give me some cooperation with your comments. It would have been convenient. To sum up, the member for Sudbury East.

Mr Kormos: Do I have to withdraw anything, Speaker?

The Speaker: If you want to just make a categorical withdrawal, that's fine by me.

Ms Martel: In the two minutes that I have, let me point out that the government has tried repeatedly through the course of the public hearings and in debate on this legislation in this House to put some kind of positive spin on the introduction of electronic slot machines in the province of Ontario.

They have said, for example, that we shouldn't worry, that these things aren't going to be in every bar, in every restaurant across our community, that they aren't going to be around schools so we shouldn't worry about kids being able to have access to VLTs. They told all the charities when they were out on the road not to worry, that in fact they will be considered a charity, that they will get 10% of the gross revenue from VLTs and that they're going to be able to continue the good work they do in the community.

They have told everyone that 2% of the revenue from the proceeds that come from VLTs will in fact go back into our communities for addiction rehabilitation. I say to the government then, why is it that when you were in committee doing clause-by-clause on this bill, you did not accept the amendments that would have put those things right into the legislation?

AMO sent in resolutions saying: "We don't want these things near schools. Put something in the bill that would do something about that." That went nowhere. The opposition members put in an amendment that said, "Put it right in the bill: 10% of the gross receipts from the take are going to come back to local charities." That didn't make its way into the bill. The opposition said, "Put into the bill itself that 2% of the receipts are going to go back into addiction rehabilitation." The government refused to put that into the bill itself. The people out there don't believe you when you tell them that they're going to be able to continue with their good work. They don't believe. That's the perception. I suspect that's going to be the reality if and when this bill passes.

The Speaker: Further debate.

Mr Flaherty: The member for Sudbury East of course makes the reference that's been made before in this House to Bill 75 as introducing video lotteries in the province of Ontario. I thought it was fairly clear from all of the evidence that the committee heard and from the speeches in this House that the reality is that we have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20,000 to 25,000 illegal video lotteries in this province that are already introduced; they're here.

If the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Sudbury East want to talk about organized crime, they might reflect on who today and in past years has been profiting from the illegal video lotteries in Ontario. Indeed, if they want to reflect on the history of gambling in North America, they might reflect on the fact that the golden age of organized crime in North America coincided with the period in which government did not provide any gaming services to the public.

This legislation helps the government gain control over gaming in Ontario. We have presently thousands of Monte Carlo nights and hundreds of operators. This presents, since they're moving, tremendous control problems for the government and for the gaming commission. Similarly, we have thousands of illegal video lotteries, and again this presents a control problem for regulation of gaming in the province.

The remedies prescribed in Bill 75 include the creation of permanent charity gaming halls and the legalization of video lotteries in controlled environments in the province. A system of fully regulated video lotteries will recapture much of the illegal revenue and displace many of the illegal machines. Indeed, this has been the experience in the province of Quebec, where, since the introduction of video lotteries as legal machines, they have captured 8,000 illegal machines, which we heard during the committee hearings.


The Speaker: Stop the clock. Members of the third party, I would ask you to come to order. The member for Durham Centre is speaking, and I'm having a great deal of difficulty hearing him.

I just thought that while I'm up it would seem appropriate to recognize Mr Larry O'Connor, who was the member for Durham-York in the last Parliament. Welcome.

Mr Flaherty: Gaming is a social reality in Ontario, and the majority of persons in Ontario view gaming as a form of entertainment and do not abuse it. Most people use these forms of gaming wisely.

When we look at the objective studies that have been done, which the committee did look at, we find, for example, the study by the University of Windsor and the Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling showing that the introduction of a major new form of gambling, such as VLs or casinos, does not affect addiction rates in areas in which there is already substantial gaming. That's the study we have; that's the reality we have from the study that was done at the University of Windsor, where of course there is a casino.

Similarly in Manitoba, the Brandon University study, the research there showed that less than 2% of the population are potential compulsive gamblers.

Again, these are the realities that the Legislature, in my submission, should consider when we're considering an important piece of legislation such as Bill 75.

So we face the reality. One alternative, of course, is to sweep the problem under the rug; the other one is to face it and face the reality, deal with it and introduce legal video lotteries in a controlled, measured environment.

This legislation will provide for the lowest number of video lotteries per capita in Canada of the eight, then nine, provinces that will have video lotteries. Very substantial fines are provided in the legislation.


The Speaker: Order. The members for Lake Nipigon, Sudbury East and Welland-Thorold, please come to order. It's very difficult to hear the member.

Mr Pouliot: That's half our party.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): The three stooges.

The Speaker: The member for Brant-Haldimand, that's out of order as well. I'd ask you to withdraw that comment.

Mr Preston: I just did.

The Speaker: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. I ask you to withdraw the comment.

Mr Preston: I withdraw it.

Mr Flaherty: The introduction of video lotteries is on a measured, controlled, phased basis. We will have the lowest number of machines per capita of the then nine Canadian provinces that will have machines. The fines are very heavy under the legislation. Importantly, there will be the combined enforcement of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which will provide in total more than 100 inspectors. There will be a phased introduction and a review, as we have made clear throughout the committee hearings. We can learn from the other eight provinces.

This legislation is important to racetracks in the province; it's important to all those who work in the horse industry. It's important to the hospitality industry, and we heard from them again and again all over the province, particularly in northern and northwestern Ontario.

There will be substantial revenues for charities; 10% of the video lottery revenues, up to $180 million, will be going for charities.


Then one listens to the positions taken opposite. At the committee hearings I heard the member for York South, when the mayor of Kenora made her presentation advocating the usefulness in the hospitality industry in northwestern Ontario of video lotteries, call her presentation very balanced. Then the member for Essex South complimented the Ontario Harness Horse Association on advocating video lotteries at racetracks and charity gaming halls, indicating no objection to video lotteries in those locations. So it's hardly, I guess, a matter of principle to the parties opposite.

This act provides a clear framework for gaming control in Ontario. It creates the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, combining the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the regulatory functions of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, so that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will no longer have a conflicting responsibility between regulating and retailing. It provides for the creation of permanent charity gaming halls, which will help alleviate the control problems relating to uncontrolled Monte Carlo nights. It also provides for the controlled introduction of video lotteries in the province.

There has been extensive public consultation and debate concerning Bill 75, the Alcohol, Gaming and Charity Funding Public Interest Act. It has been given four hours and 34 minutes of consideration at second reading, 68 hours and 22 minutes --


The Speaker: Order. Member for Durham Centre.


The Speaker: Would the members for Lake Nipigon and St Catharines come to order please; Sudbury East. The member for Durham Centre's in order. I ask that you maintain decorum in this House and allow the member to finish his statement.

Mr Bradley: He's getting the jackboots out, that's what he's doing.

The Speaker: Member for St Catharines, you have to withdraw that statement right now. It must be withdrawn. It's got to be withdrawn, the member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I withdraw that, Mr Speaker, for you.

The Speaker: I ask the members in the opposition to allow the member for Durham Centre to continue his statement and finish his speech.

Mr Flaherty: We have now spent more than nine hours over four days at third reading debate, of which our caucus on this side of the House has used only a little bit more than one hour to speak. Comparing with the fall of 1995 and the spring of 1996, the average time spent on a bill at third reading was one hour and 55 minutes, excluding bills where there was no debate.

Certainly a case can be made that debating time on a controversial bill should be more extensive than the norm. I would, however, like to point out that we have already spent almost quadruple the amount of time on this legislation at third reading than is normally the case. This legislation has not changed substantially since the bill was debated at second reading. There were six government amendments made to Bill 75. I would also like to point out --


The Speaker: Order. The members in the opposition benches, I have to be able to hear the member for Durham Centre. I ask for your cooperation so I may hear the member for Durham Centre.

Mr Flaherty: I would also like to point out that we have now spent almost double the amount of debating time on this legislation at third reading than at second reading. Traditionally, second reading has been utilized in this place as the time for extensive debate.

I move, Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 47, that this question be now put.


The Speaker: The member for Durham Centre, you asked that the question now be put? I had difficulty --

Mr Flaherty: That this question be now put.


The Speaker: No, the motion is completely in order.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I understand that, but is there a further point of order that is also in order?

The Speaker: A point of order is always in order. What I'm trying to say to you is at this point in time the motion has been made by the government member. Therefore, we're now consumed in that motion. It's going to have to have a ruling by the Speaker before any further points of order may be taken.

Mrs McLeod: Even in reference to orders of the day?

The Speaker: Yes, it has to be ruled on beforehand.

I heard the member put the motion. I would ask the indulgence of the House to allow me 15 minutes to review and report back. The House is in recess for 15 minutes.

The House recessed from 1656 to 1710.

The Speaker: I've considered it carefully and I believe that debate should continue.

Mr Flaherty: Bill 75 is a step forward in bringing additional controls to Ontario's gaming marketplace by providing the regulatory framework to address numerous changes to gaming activities. A major part of the bill deals with the new organization with the title the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This new entity will come about through the merger of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, the Gaming Control Commission and some regulatory functions of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Regulatory functions under the Liquor Control Act will be reassigned under Bill 75 to the new commission in order to consolidate liquor regulation and clarify the LCBO's role as a commercial entity, avoiding confusion between commercial and regulatory roles.

Functions contemplated for transfer include regulation of private delivery services, authorizing and regulating non-LCBO retail liquor stores such as those operated by Brewers' Retail Inc, winery retail stores and Brewers' Retail stores, regulating the marketing methods used by manufacturers. In addition, by combining similar programs in licensing and enforcement, the agency will both obtain efficiencies and improve its flexibility and ability to respond to priorities.

With the introduction of video lotteries, this combination will also enable better enforcement of the strict regulatory requirements the government is imposing on this initiative. It should be noted, in terms of regulation --


The Speaker: Order, please. I'm having difficulty hearing the member for Durham Centre.

Mr Flaherty: It should be noted, under the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission there will be the combined forces of the current inspectors with the LLBO and the inspectors who are already with the Gaming Commission which will number more than 100 in terms of making inspections in the province. The current inspectors work very hard. They had, in fact, more than 6,000, almost 7,000 spot inspections by the inspectors of the inspections and investigations branch of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario in the past year, and once an establishment is found to be the source of infractions, inspection activity is required at least once per month until compliance has been achieved for three consecutive months.

Another important enforcement aspect relates to the combining of the alcohol regulatory function and the gaming regulatory function so that an inspector, under the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission, who finds either an alcohol or gaming infraction will be in a position to lay charges with very substantial fines: $50,000 in the case of an individual or $250,000 in the case of a corporation.

In addition, the legislation provides that no person under the age of 19 is to have access to gaming premises or the area of gaming premises where video lottery terminals are located, no person is to permit a person under the age of 19 to play a video lottery, and no person under the age of 19 is to seek access to gaming premises where video lottery terminals are located or to play a video lottery.

The consequence to the owners of premises who would breach these provisions of the act would be the potential loss not only of the gaming licence but also of the alcohol licence, which in many of these facilities is the lifeblood, the profit lifeblood of that business. So it's a very effective tool that has been used in other jurisdictions which have both the gaming and alcohol in the same regulatory function.

The new organization will be better able to monitor the development of issues in both liquor and gaming regulation and respond to changes in the marketplace. The merger will benefit the taxpayer by creating operational efficiencies and greater cost-effectiveness. For example, there will be only one board, one chair, one senior management team, rather than two boards, two chairs and two senior management teams. There will be a more flexible allocation of the workload, more efficient geographical assignments, and inspectors will be able to enforce, as I've said, both liquor and gaming regulations. Service will be improved by eliminating overlap and duplication, resulting in the harmonization of forms and cross-training of staff, for example.

The Speaker: Members from the opposition benches, I'm having a very difficult time hearing the member. I would ask that you come to order, and that includes the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Flaherty: The merger will benefit the taxpayer by creating operational efficiencies and greater cost-effectiveness. The more efficient and cost-effective we can make government, its agencies, boards and commissions, the less pressure there is to increase fees and taxes.

As the Minister of Consumer of Commercial Relations has already indicated, the new commission will help to ensure that we have in place the strongest possible screening process for those who wish to become involved in video lotteries as suppliers of equipment and operators of charity gaming halls.

With respect to charities, it might be noted that under the previous government that introduced these roving Monte Carlo nights that are virtually unregulated in this province, and casino gambling, virtually no funds were set aside for education, treatment and research relating to addiction. This is a failure of previous governments which we are remedying; that is, the commitment of the government, which was in the budget statement, was that 2% of the revenues would be used for those purposes of education, treatment and research relating to addiction, which is consistent with the studies to which I made reference earlier with respect to the percentage of persons who, according to the studies, generally will demonstrate and do demonstrate addictive behaviour with respect to gambling, be the gaming legal or illegal.

Playing video lotteries, to thousands of Canadians today in eight other provinces, is an acceptable form of entertainment. Players of video lotteries tend to play modestly. The studies we have -- and there are some studies with respect to what has actually happened in the other eight Canadian provinces that have legalized video lotteries -- show a modest spending pattern.

The Addiction Research Foundation study on gambling in Ontario, August 1995, and the more recent study by the University of Windsor, April 1996, found that most people do not spend a lot of time or money on all forms of gambling, about $10 a week. Specific studies on video lotteries play confirmed the same modest approach to video gaming, with the result that the reality is that the profile of the average video lottery player in Canada is that they play once or twice a week for 30 minutes at a time, spend about $10 each time and stick to a predetermined gaming/entertainment budget. That's the reality with which we're familiar from the other Canadian provinces.

Mr Kormos: That's the most disgusting speech.

Mr Flaherty: I know the member for Welland-Thorold and others don't want to deal with the reality of what we've seen in other provinces. They don't want to pay attention to the video conferencing that we did. They don't want to pay attention to the evidence that was heard during 14 days of committee hearings. They don't want to deal with the facts. They want to deal with their own preconceived notions of what persons should be permitted to do and not to do in Ontario. But we had those hearings and those hearings were conducted at substantial public expense. The purpose of the hearings of course was to hear the studies and to hear from those persons who are actually involved in the video lottery business, in the gaming business in other areas of Canada that have video lotteries.


In Thunder Bay, for example, with respect to illegal machines, I'm sure the member for Welland-Thorold will recall that we heard evidence about the existence of more than 600 illegal machines in that area alone. Those funds, we were told at the committee hearings, were going out of the province. We were told the same thing in Ottawa.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Get rid of them.

Mr Flaherty: If the member would listen, he'd know that in Quebec bringing in the legalization of the machines resulted in 8,000 being seized; if the member would listen to what we can learn from the other provinces in Canada, if he'd stop being so parochial, if he'd open his ears so he'd know what goes on in other places. He doesn't want to know. He prefers to rest in his ignorance.

We actually know what is going on in certain areas of the province because persons came forward before the committee and told us. I think all members will agree that it's our duty to listen to those who actually have experience in these matters. What is happening in this province with respect to those illegal machines that are there is that the taxpayers are getting no benefit from them. In fact, the money is being taken, we heard at the committee hearings, out of the province, to Winnipeg and to Buffalo and to Montreal, and going into illegal concerns and illegal hands.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission will provide a very important tool in terms of regulating premises that have both video lotteries and alcohol licences.

With respect to charities, and this question came up fairly often at the hearings, there was concern about the revenues that charities derive in Ontario from various forms of gaming, be they break-open tickets, Nevada tickets, bingos or other forms of gaming that exist today in the province. This is a legitimate concern because so many of the charities derive income from those sources. The charities will be in a position to have revenues increase by perhaps 10 times what they are now through the revenues that will be coming from video lotteries. There will be funds for the charities from the permanent charity gaming halls -- that's the first source -- and then from those video lotteries that are away from the racetracks. It's important to note --

Mr Bisson: It's not a VLT, it's a slot machine, the crack cocaine of gambling.

Mr Flaherty: I hear them talking about the crack cocaine of gambling. I remind them that Dr Room from the Addiction Research Foundation publicly chastised them for using that expression, how wrong they were to use that expression, how inaccurate it was, but they persist in it because they know better, I suppose, than the Addiction Research Foundation knows.

Mr Kormos: Why don't you come clean? Be honest.

Mr Flaherty: I'm sure the member for Welland-Thorold knows better than the Addiction Research Foundation.

We have the two sources for charities, if I may go back to the point: the permanent charity gaming halls, the tables in those gaming halls and the video lottery machines away from the racetracks, and then some roving charities that will persist under this legislation. There will be an overall increase in funding for charities, as I mentioned, of up to $180 million, which is more than 10 times the revenues being received by charities in Ontario today through the virtually unregulated or impossible-to-regulate Monte Carlo nights.

The government is dealing with an important reality in today's society and that is that people participate in gaming activities. We are dealing with the reality. We're not going to sweep the problem under the rug. We're going to face the problem that exists already today without Bill 75 in Ontario because of the Monte Carlo nights that were introduced by previous governments, because of the casinos that were introduced by the previous NDP government. We already have a situation in Ontario where gaming is available, which results in an addiction problem on a certain --

Mr Colle: It all started with the horse racing. Who brought that into the province?

Mr Bisson: Who bought you, Jim? Which organized syndicate got to you?


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'd like to hear the speaker. It's his time. The member for Durham Centre.

Mr Flaherty: The problem should not be swept under the rug. There is addictive behaviour not only with respect to gaming but also to alcohol and other substances.

Mr Bisson: We know what he's going to say, he's the spokesperson for the mob. He's speaking on behalf of organized crime.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member opposite is indicating that the member is speaking on behalf of the organized mob. I would ask you to ask them to withdraw it.

The Acting Speaker: I don't think that's a point of order. I didn't hear anything out of place.

Mr Baird: Would you ask the member for Cochrane South to withdraw?

The Acting Speaker: It is not a point of order. The member for Durham Centre.

Mr Baird: As long as you don't hear it, it's okay.

The Acting Speaker: I'd like you to take your seat. I'd like to hear the member for Durham Centre.

Mr Flaherty: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Those who oppose Bill 75 are in a situation now where they are supporting the illegal realities in Ontario today. There is substantial revenue being derived from illegal video lotteries. There is substantial revenue being derived from illegal gaming in Ontario. There is substantial revenue being derived from the inability to properly police these roving Monte Carlo nights and properly regulate them.

That is what this legislation attempts to do: wrest control back from the elements to which the members opposite refer who now have a great deal of activity in these areas, quite obviously, given the number of illegal machines and the difficulties regulating Monte Carlo nights, take control back in the government's hands, face the social reality that many persons in Ontario view gaming as a form of entertainment, face the reality that our racetracks are in desperate need of revenue, face the reality that thousands of people who otherwise would have difficulty being employed are employed in the horse business and the racetrack business.


Mr Flaherty: We heard that all across the province. The member for Kingston and The Islands doesn't care about the people who work in the horse business. He should have been on the hearings. He should have heard what we heard in the hospitality industry in northern Ontario, in northwestern Ontario, in southwestern Ontario, what we heard all across the province. It may not be important to the member for Kingston and The Islands but it's very important to the persons who work in the horse industry in Ontario.

The purpose of the legislation is to create a framework. There is implementation to be done. The government is committed to further consultations with respect to the implementation phases. There are important issues to be addressed with respect to implementation, including the definition of "charity" -- what is a charity and what is not; the issue of permanent charity gaming halls -- how many there should be and where they should be; and numerous other questions that were raised before the committee, including possible effects on various other types of gaming. These are all important issues that need to be addressed in the implementation stage.

I would like to comment on one other aspect of the legislation that deals with so-called salting of the earth. We have had the experience in Ontario, regrettably, of premises having their licences suspended, appealing those suspensions and then transferring licences, transferring leases, using endeavours, methods to defeat the suspension of the licence, thereby permitting the premises to continue to operate and sell alcohol. This is a social evil that needs to be eradicated. This bill addresses the problem by prohibiting that sort of activity to circumnavigate the suspension imposed by what will be the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. It is very important to eradicate neighbourhood trouble spots in various areas of the province that have been brought to the attention of this government and it is an abuse that needs to be corrected.


This legislation establishes a framework for the future regulation and control of alcohol and gaming in Ontario. It is legislation that deals with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, regulating permanent charity gaming halls and the difficult problem of illegal video lotteries in the province.

The Acting Speaker: Comments or questions?

Mr Bartolucci: I find it unusual that the member for Durham Centre can stand and say that we should be listening to what the people are saying. I suggest that he heed his own advice and listen to what the people of Ontario are saying. Clearly they're saying, by a 62% margin, that they don't want slot machines, they don't want VLTs next door on every corner in every municipality. If they won't listen to the people of Ontario, if he refuses to listen to the people of Ontario, maybe he'll listen to the people who are charged with trying to enforce law and order once these things arrive.

Paul Gottschalk, the acting staff inspector, special investigations services of Metropolitan Toronto Police, says, "I believe that those who predict the legalization of VLTs will lessen or eliminate illegal VLTs are incorrect." The member for Durham Centre, you're incorrect. The police are saying you're wrong. "Illegal machines, which are subject to taxation or return percentage monitoring are virtual cash collectors and in the absence of enforcement may become indistinguishable as legitimate equipment."

The member for Durham Centre, you have to understand that your direction is wrong. Listen to what Garry Smith, a gambling specialist, says: "The VLT is the most addictive form of gambling, addictive because it is fast, addictive because it provides instant gratification, addictive because it is paced for the modern way of thinking, younger people who are used to computerized gambling instead of dealing cards or throwing dice."

Clearly the member for Durham Centre should listen to what the people of Ontario are saying, should listen to what the experts in Ontario and abroad are saying, and stop the insanity.

Mr Kormos: What's crucial here is that some very obvious questions be answered. The 1995 Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario report on gambling and organized crime has been suppressed by this government notwithstanding that members of this assembly have been requesting the production of that report now for months. We have to wonder why the government would be so anxious to suppress that report. We now know, because of leaked portions of it, that one actor called Tony Depizza -- I think the government has to account for what the relationship, if any is, with Tony Depizza, who is also known as Lucio Sandrin, former mobster, working, it's reported, in the past for the Volpe mob organization here in Canada. Lucio Sandrin is a director of Cadith Entertainments Ltd. One of the other directors is Frank Di Maria. Again, the question has to be asked, how well does Mr Flaherty or the minister know Mr Di Maria or Mr Sandrin, or, as he's otherwise known, Tony Depizza, either now or in his former life as a member of Volpe's mob? You see, Cadith's was one of the submissions to Mr Flaherty's committee which urged this government to introduce VLTs.

I tell you that the facts are there. The mob supports slots and video lottery terminals. Organized crime supports slots and video lottery terminals. They stand to make the biggest amount of money from the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable in this province, and this government's prepared to aid and abet them to be parties to that attack on the poor and working people of this province.

The question has to be asked as to why Larry Moodie of the OPP's illegal gambling squad was never consulted by this government, was never called before the committee. This government doesn't want Ontarians to know the truth. This government's in bed with the mob.

Mr Baird: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member said, "This government's in bed with the mob." We implore you to enforce the rules. He explicitly said that. He said it word for word. We call on you to call the member to order.


The Acting Speaker: I'm ruling on a point of order. There's too much noise in here and I can't hear. I did not hear any such accusation. I'm sorry if I didn't, but I did not and I cannot rule on something like that.


The Acting Speaker: I will not warn the member for Nepean again. You will come to order.

Comments and questions?

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I'm pleased to take a couple of minutes in support of the comments made by the member for Durham Centre and to comment as well on the speech given a few minutes ago by the member for Sudbury East. We're hearing all sorts of great diatribes and glib rhetoric from the other side; we're hearing all sorts of great heckling. I thought the whole motion we just voted on was to end debate, and they obviously don't want to hear any more, as they're evidencing right now.

But the point made by the member for Sudbury East was that somehow the VLTs would be an assault on Nevada tickets. Perhaps the member opposite should know, because she didn't bother checking when she was a minister of the crown, that the current Nevada ticket setup, put in place by the NDP government, is estimated to be losing at least $50 million to $100 million a year in pure, unmitigated fraud. Because they didn't have the intelligence to put serial numbers on their Nevada tickets, they didn't have the intelligence to cross-reference between the printers and the users, it is possible for each charity to order 50 boxes from every licensed printer. The charity only reports the number it was duly authorized to sell -- let's say, 50 cases -- but an unscrupulous person could order from two or three or four printers.

They put in no controls. They don't care about fiscal management. They don't care that their taxation policies destroyed gambling at the racetracks. They don't care about the 25,000 jobs they lost there. All they care about is opposing this bill, which is well thought out and considered. It replaces the illegal VLTs, which every police officer, every police chief, will tell you without any report are a blight on our society. They're a front for the mob, and the bottom line is that this bill allows us to remedy with legal means the illegal steps taken by that government to vex our economy.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is my privilege to identify for the public the apologists we have on the other side of the House for one of the worst-thought-out government bills we've seen here in decades.


Mr Conway: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand the cut and thrust of debate, but I think that honourable members, when they have the floor, are entitled to a reasonable hearing.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Oh, come on, stop wasting the chamber's time.

Mr Conway: I hear from my friends opposite, "How could school children ever come to this place?"

Mr Spina: I'm not opposite, idiot.

Mr Conway: I'm just asking my friends to give a newly elected member the decency of a hearing.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Mr Kennedy: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would ask for that time to be restored to the clock.

It's important for the members opposite to hear what they're not able to hear so far, what they didn't hear from the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, for which they're responsible -- that organized crime increases with this bill -- and what they didn't hear from the charities all across the province. Members, including the honourable member opposite, were told that they will lose money because of the greed of this government. This government will take away money from existing revenue and will not replace it. This government, with its newfound statist approach, will take all the money from the various places across the province and then force charities to apply for it. There is nothing in terms of Bill 75 that this government has done in the public interest.

Mr Speaker, I'd ask your indulgence for the rest of the time that is available.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Durham Centre has two minutes to respond.

Mr Flaherty: I listened with interest to the comments of the member for York South, who told the mayor of Kenora that he thought her presentation was very balanced. That was the presentation that supported video lotteries. He says something different here today; another place, another time, a different statement.

He also says that charities will receive less money -- that's the member for York South. It shows he's a true Liberal; that is, he can't count, because $180 million is a lot more than $10 million, and that is the type of increase that charities will benefit from in the province of Ontario, which I thought he would have realized from the many speeches that have been made over five days of debate in this place on this subject. This debate has gone on for quite a long time in this House, and that point has been made a number of times about the increased revenues for charities in Ontario that will be generated as a result of this legislation.

With respect to the member for Sudbury, I appreciate his comments with respect to video lotteries being on every corner in the province. There is one place in Canada where that's true. It's not Ontario and it won't be under Bill 75, but if you're looking for video lotteries in corner stores, go to the Liberal government in the province of New Brunswick. That's where you'll find video lotteries in corner stores in the Dominion of Canada. That's where you'll find them, I say to the member for Sudbury. So again we get conflicting messages from the other side on this issue.

With respect to organized crime, and the member for Welland-Thorold keeps bringing this up -- with illegal video lottery machines, with barely controlled Monte Carlo nights, the situation is that those sources to which the member refers have an ability which I think he will agree they ought not to have in this province. Contrary to the opponents of gaming, control weakens traditional organized crime; that is, the more government regulates and controls, the less of a grip that type of organization will have in this province, and I'm sure the members want that.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs McLeod: I guess it's with some reluctance, some hesitation, that I rise to participate in the debate today, because it seems to have been descending to a level that none of us likes to see in this House. I think back to one of the first things that I ever learned about parliamentary procedure, and it has a rather gender-biased connotation to it, but it comes out of Robert's Rules of Order in which it says that in this place we should be debating the measure and not the man. To hear the member for Scarborough East make allusions about a member of the opposition not somehow having the intelligence to participate in the debate is so far beneath the accepted decorum and standard of debate in this House, it really makes it difficult to participate in this.

Mr Gilchrist: Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege: That is a terribly unfair characterization of what I said on the record. I said that this government --


Mr Gilchrist: Mr Speaker, she has quoted --

The Acting Speaker: Excuse me. There are two of us standing. One of us is clearly out of order, and it's not me.

That is not a point of privilege, and I recognize the member for Fort William.

Mrs McLeod: It had not been my intention to begin the debate this way, but I'm still so appalled at what occurred in this House earlier today when the government attempted to force closure on this very controversial piece of legislation.

I think it's important that I preface my remarks on the bill itself by putting into context what the government attempted to do here today, because short of a year ago, just about this time, when the government brought in its infamous Bill 26, with no notice that it was going to be brought in, a piece of legislation which was beyond anything that this Legislature had ever seen before, a piece of legislation which they wanted to ram through with two weeks' debate, which nobody could have ever considered giving due process in a parliamentary debate to legislation of that magnitude, not since that day have I seen an effort made to bulldoze through a piece of legislation in as unconscionable a way as was attempted by the government this afternoon.

I do not in any way hold the member for Durham Centre responsible for what happened; it was obviously the government House leader. I saw him in conversation with the member for Durham Centre during the afternoon, clearly saying to him, "In the middle of your presentation on this debate, you will move a motion of closure, and we'll hope that the Speaker of today will let it pass." Fortunately for democratic debate, the Speaker of the day did not let it pass.

This is not an issue, as the member for Durham Centre went on to say, of whether or not there has been adequate time for debate on this issue. I would suggest to you, as one of my members has, that in our view you can't really put time limits on due democratic debate. But I would also say that, from our perspective, no time is ever going to be enough to fully debate and consider a piece of legislation which is so fundamentally going to change lives in every community across the province. So we are not going to ever agree that there has been enough time to debate this bill. We believe that this bill should be removed, that it should not be before this Legislature.

But that's really not what the source of anger was an hour ago. The anger was that we came into the House today in the full expectation that, as the House leaders agreed last week, we would be debating the family support bill today. On the orders of the day, which normally sets out what we will be debating in the House, it says, "Orders of the day to be announced." The government that wanted to proceed to consider this controversial piece of legislation didn't even have the courage to provide notice to this House that this would be the item it was calling today, let alone give us any indication that it would call a vote today.

I suggest to you that that is not only unparliamentary, it is undemocratic, it is unconscionable, it is indefensible and it is a sign of a government that has absolutely no courage of its convictions when it comes to this piece of legislation. It is just so evident that this government is anxious to get this over and done with and off the books so that it can get its slot machines up and running and it can get its pound of flesh and cash that comes from people who will become compulsive gamblers as a result of this legislation.

It is so obvious that this government is so in defiance of its own principles and everything that individual members of the now government used to say about gambling in this province that it just wants to get this debate over and done with as fast as it possibly can. It is so obvious that the members of this government don't want to hear any of the arguments. They don't want to hear the evidence of their own police commission and the reports that had been prepared for them. They don't want to look at the evidence of what has happened in other provincial jurisdictions. They don't want to hear what communities have to say, the 56 communities that are saying, "We don't want slot machines in our communities." They certainly don't want to hear the views of the 62% of Ontarians who have said they do not want slot machines in their communities.

This government is afraid that if this debate were to go on even an hour longer, let alone a day longer, that they might have to open their ears. Maybe they heard the Premier starting to back off a little bit today when he said: "Well, maybe we'll have to limit the proliferation of slot machines. Maybe we'll have to be just a little bit careful."

Let me assure the members opposite who are anxious to get the money from the slot machines to pay for their tax cut that I don't think you need to worry about the Premier backing off. I think the Premier wants to cool things out a bit because he knows how much opposition there is, how much resistance there is. He knows that his government cannot sustain the reaction to this. He just wants this off the front pages of the newspapers and off the television cameras for a little while so that he can get his slot machines out there, they can start paying the government off, hopefully the issue will go away and then the slot machines will proliferate to every bar and restaurant on every corner of every neighbourhood.

Mr Preston: That's not going to happen. That never will happen.

Mrs McLeod: Yes, I say to the member opposite, that is exactly what is going to happen.

There is a part of me that is in fact very pleased to be able to participate on this particular day. I'm pleased that at least the government was not able to bulldoze this particular closure motion through the House, as it has attempted to bulldoze every other part of its agenda. I'm glad to have a chance to at least participate, because today was the day when we released a poll that we conducted, conducted by an independent firm, a poll that is statistically significant if the members opposite would actually care to know what 62% of Ontarians have to tell them about slot machines. They said they don't want them; 62% said they don't want them.

You can dismiss the poll results. You can dismiss anything you want to dismiss. But somebody had to find out what the people of this province were thinking and what they cared about. The government wasn't prepared to do it, so somebody had to be prepared to ask. If the government doesn't want to listen, if they don't want to hear, so be it, but we were at least prepared to ask. Open your ears and hear what people in this province had to say.


Maybe you want to go back and find out what Mike Harris used to say about gambling and about revenues from gambling, because I think that's another reason why they want to bulldoze this thing through: They hope we will stop reminding them of the kinds of commitments that their now Premier used to make. I think there's one particular quotation which says it all, because this is what Mike Harris was saying just prior to the 1995 election -- not in such a distant part of our memories that we shouldn't be able to recall it. I recall it really well. There's a lot of that election that stands out in my mind.

I recall Mike Harris going across the province saying, "We are going to have a referendum before there is any new casino in this province." Now we never figured out whether it was to be a province-wide referendum or a local referendum or whether one referendum would do it for everybody or not, but at least it was absolutely clear there was going to be a referendum before there was any further casino. That part was clear. There was never any talk ever --

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Were you in favour of casinos?

Mrs McLeod: I say to the member for Mississauga South, there was never any talk on the part of the member for Nipissing, who is now our Premier, about introducing slot machines. He was going to have a referendum on casinos. Who ever was talking about slot machines? Here's what he was saying about revenue from gambling. He was very concerned about it, and Mike Harris said:

"I don't want the Ontario government to have it. I don't want the money. I don't want a million dollars a day in the province of Ontario. Part of the problem is the Ontario government has too much money, wants too much money, borrows too much money, spends too much money."

Then in a May 16, 1995, letter to John Chalmers, the chairman of the Charitable Gaming Alliance, Mike Harris promised, and I quote: "A Harris government will not move on VLTs until all sectors have been consulted, all impacts are assessed and an agreement is reached on the distribution of revenues."

There is one giant promise broken, because there is no agreement on the distribution on revenues, there has been no assessment of impacts -- in fact this government closes its ears to any assessment of the impact of what will happen when slot machines are introduced in this province -- and there has certainly not been consultation with all who would like to have their voices heard.

I remember how opposed Mr Eves, the now finance minister who is so anxious to get the dollars from these slot machines, was in the past. Well, I guess it's different. Mike Harris said, "I don't want the Ontario government to have it," but that's when he wasn't the Ontario government. Now he is the Ontario government and his finance minister is clearly as desperate as he is to have to get the money now. I guess the bottom line is that principles disappear when your only guiding principle is to somehow get the dollars you need to pay for the tax cut, which is the one promise they seem to be determined to keep.

We know that the numbers in the campaign book never added up. The Conservatives could never do all the things they told Ontarians they were going to do and still deliver that tax cut. They have a problem. They can't balance the budget and protect health care and protect classroom funding, and we've seen that they haven't been able to protect classroom funding. They can't protect policing. They've got to sacrifice the environment; they've got to sacrifice natural resources. It goes on and on, and they still have a financial problem. So now they're prepared to do what they never said they would do.

Based on some of the past statements of the leaders of the government, it was reasonable for us to assume that this was something they never would do. But Mr Saunderson, the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, has said it about as clearly as it can be said. He says: "Quite simply, slot machines are a good source of cash. Financially, they make sense." There's the bottom line, drawn as clearly and as plainly and as frankly as any member of the government is prepared to draw it.

There's no doubt we're talking about a lot of easy money for the government. The government says $260 million, but that's obviously just a beginning. In fact, I think that is a modest beginning that the government presents for itself. I haven't attempted to go into all the details of why the government thinks it's only going to get $260 million while the charities that are supposed to benefit are only going to get their 10%, but it does leave me, just on the surface of it, to question that if they're only getting $260 million and the charities are only getting 10%, who's getting the really big money? I don't really believe this government is going to let all of that potentially large amount of money go into private sector hands, so I have to believe that the government is looking for a lot more than $260 million.

There might be some point in this debate in talking about whether or not you see any difference between slot machines and VLTs and casinos. Casinos were an issue during the campaign. Casinos were the issue the Premier was prepared to talk about having a referendum on. There were positions taken on casinos, and I am quite prepared to talk about casinos as a separate issue. It's not what we're talking about in this legislation. In this legislation we're talking about slot machines. We're not talking about a controlled environment of a casino with tight regulations, with the capacity presumably to enforce them. That's not what we're talking about.

We are talking about unlimited numbers -- 20,000 to begin with, but nothing in this legislation which limits the number of slot machines which can be introduced. The Premier acknowledges that this is just the beginning. If they can enforce this, if they can enforce the slot machines and the charity casinos and they can enforce it in the racetracks, then they'll begin to look at bars and they'll begin to look at restaurants.

There's another difference: Casinos create jobs. That's why a lot of communities have come to the government of the past day and the government of today. The casinos create jobs, and communities like the job creation. That is not true for slot machines, I say to the members opposite. Listen to the communities. Communities have come to you and said, "We're interested in casinos." You're not getting communities coming to you and saying, "Give us a slot machine on every corner of every neighbourhood." You've got 56 communities saying, "We don't want these slot machines," and you don't want to hear that.

I want to acknowledge that there are concerns. There continue to be concerns about the effect of the introduction of casinos on compulsive gambling and on organized crime. Those of us who are prepared to read what the police say acknowledge that this is a continuing concern. If there is a concern about organized crime's involvement in casinos, which are supposedly tightly regulated, tightly controlled, enforced, think how much greater the concern is when it comes to slot machines that proliferate right across this province. There is no realistic means of enforcing regulations that this government might put in place to give the appearance that it is going to control the proliferation and the use of slot machines, that it's going to be able to deal with organized crime's ability to take advantage of the proliferation of slot machines.

The government can't be comfortable with this. I'm not surprised that they have tried to bulldoze this through today. I'm not surprised, because this government cannot be comfortable with this based on the concerns it has expressed in the past. I don't think there's any way they can be comfortable with the social consequences and I believe that is why this government is so absolutely determined to ignore --

Mrs Marland: Are you comfortable?

Mrs McLeod: The member for Mississauga South asks me if I'm comfortable. I'm not comfortable with any process in which the government of the day wants to ignore studies that have been done, ignore the evidence that has been brought forward in recent weeks and recent months, studies that have been done that express the concerns about the involvement of organized crime in legalized gambling and indeed the concerns about how much more difficult it will be to control organized crime if slot machines proliferate. I'm not comfortable with any government that wants to forge ahead with legislation that will significantly change life in our communities when it's not prepared to look at the experience of any other jurisdiction.

I believe if this government was prepared to look at any of this data, particularly given the concerns it has expressed in the past, it would have to be prepared at least to step back a piece, and if it had to step back a piece, then it would lose the big dollars the finance minister needs. That, I repeat, is the bottom line. That's what's driving all of this.

This government is prepared to ignore all of the testimony, all of the evidence of experts who have talked about the role of VLTs and their influence on the development of compulsive gambling. I'm only going to quote from one. It happens to be somebody from the Addiction Research Foundation in Thunder Bay, Lyle Nicol, who presented to the committee. He said it again quite plainly, quite simply:

"VLTs are a seductive form of gambling that are very addictive. They isolate people and they promise instant gratification. The reality is that more people lose than win, and in most areas, VLT players comprise the largest percentage of people who are actively seeking help for gambling problems."

That should be enough to give the government some concern about the open-ended nature of the bill that's before this House. Do they really think that their government is going to pull back from the big dollars they're looking for? Do they really believe that? No. It's far more likely that they're going to continue to ignore all the evidence that's there. They're already, as many members have pointed out, determined to ignore the evidence that could be presented by the chairman of Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, who has made it so clear that he is not in favour of slot machines. He has advised the government of that. The government doesn't seem to care about it. They've refused even to acknowledge that they've seen the report.

I don't particularly want to get into the debate of whether the government has or hasn't seen the report. What I find absolutely incredible is that when their very own Ontario Provincial Police criminal intelligence service has a report which could have an important bearing on a piece of legislation, a fundamental change that this government is preparing to introduce, they don't want to see it. If they haven't seen it, that is the biggest indictment of the government that could possibly be made. Close your eyes, close your ears, don't look at anything that would get in the way --

Mr Kennedy: They're afraid of it.

Mrs McLeod: -- because they are afraid of it. They're afraid they would have to back away from the big bucks that their finance minister needs. Their own criminal intelligence service is concerned about the involvement of legalized crime, and our government chooses to ignore their concerns.

They're also ready to ignore the experience of other jurisdictions, but it being 6 of the clock, I expect you're going to ask me to conclude my remarks and continue the debate tomorrow.

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

The House adjourned at 1802.