36th Parliament, 1st Session

L121 - Wed 6 Nov 1996 / Mer 6 Nov 1996






































The House met at 1336.




Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I rise today to recognize Take Our Kids To Work Day, an initiative of the Learning Partnership to give grade 9 students a real-life experience in a work environment. We have a number of students with us in the galleries today and I would like to welcome them.

It's estimated that across Canada about 250,000 grade 9 students are at work today with a parent, a guardian, a relative, a family friend or a volunteer host. I'm proud to say that today the Liberal caucus is hosting several students, both in constituency offices and here at Queen's Park, some of whom are with us.

Take Our Kids To Work Day has three main objectives: to offer students a realistic view of the work world and give them an understanding of its demands and opportunities; to allow students to see their parents or volunteer hosts in different roles and understand what they do to support a family; and to emphasize that education goes far beyond the classroom walls, and the preparation of the younger generation for the future is a community responsibility.

Take Our Kids To Work Day was initiated two years ago in the greater Toronto area by the Learning Partnership, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating learning and career opportunities by bonding education, business and the community. This year is the first Canada-wide initiative.

Recognizing that there are many grade 9 students who are unable to go to work with a parent, either because their parents are out of work or for other reasons, we have particularly encouraged our members to offer the opportunity first to those students who otherwise might not have the chance to participate.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm pleased to report to you today that I have just completed a province-wide tour of communities, meeting with parents and child care workers, talking about the government's proposed reform to the child care system in this province. What I'm distressed to have to report to you is the state of fear and anger and desperation that I found in community after community.

The minister's proposals for reform of the child care system, and I believe this is not at all an overstatement, really spell the end, the death, the dismantling of the quality not-for-profit licensed child care system in this province.

A combination of factors which involve lowering the wages of already low-paid professionals, early childhood educators, together with a concentration on the business bottom line, increasing productivity, more children per staff worker, with removing safety and health regulations for the physical space that are our children are served in so that they can be shoved back into basements with no windows, no fencing around their play yards, no minimum space per child, together with a weakening of the licensing and the monitoring provisions, spell the death of a quality system and I think spell a bleak future for many children who need that service.

The child care system in this province has been a long time in the building. It's worth fighting for, the child care workers are worth fighting for and our kids are worth fighting for.


Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): On behalf of the government I also wish to recognize Wednesday, November 6, 1996, as Take Our Kids to Work Day. Today in Ontario up to 250,000 grade 9 students will accompany a friend, parent or volunteer to the workplace. This special day gives grade 9 students a chance to see different roles and responsibilities in the workplace. It also allows students a chance to see what the parent does to support the family and it emphasizes that education goes beyond classroom walls.

This day is an initiative of the Learning Partnership, a non-profit organization, with the support of the Minister of Education and Training. They are dedicated to bringing together education, communities and business people in the province. It is my hope that through this exposure young people in Ontario will see the value of a good education in our rapidly changing workplace.

I'm proud to have my daughter Kristen with me today at my Queen's Park office. I'm sure other members and staff have their own children here today, or perhaps they are hosting a student from their riding. I welcome them all.

As a parent I applaud the Minister of Education for this wonderful project.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Today I had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of firefighters on the lawn of the Legislature, and an angrier group of people I haven't seen in a long time. They were protesting Bill 84, another bully bill, in fact, the son of Bill 26, the mother of all bully bills.

The Harris Tories with their anti-labour agenda are attacking Ontario firefighters, the men and women who risk their lives every day for all of us in this province, by inserting a poisonous pill in Bill 84 that will take away bargaining rights from firefighters.

Mike Harris broke another promise, this time to Ontario firefighters. He promised he would consult with the firefighters before he proceeded with fire safety reform. Again he broke his word and again he has bargained in bad faith. These labour relations provisions never came up in the lengthy fire service review. They were put in by an anti-labour Tory government.

Ontario firefighters have never struck. It is their code not to do so. This bill is a slap in the face of every Ontario firefighter right across this province.

I am calling upon the government to allow for public hearings right across this province so that the firefighters and the men and women they protect can tell this government why Bill 84 is a bad bill and will set back the quality of fire protection in Ontario.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I rise today to give notice to this House of a project the NDP has recently completed. Last month my colleague the member for Riverdale and I, with the able assistance of the Power Workers' Union, toured the province, talking to people about the privatization of Ontario Hydro.

Not surprisingly, people do not want Hydro to be sold off to the highest bidder. People are concerned that a privatized Hydro means higher rates and lower environmental standards.

We know that the only people who will benefit from the sale of Ontario Hydro are your Tory friends on Bay Street and Wall Street. Ratepayers and families will be faced with rate increases.

We heard from environmental groups concerned that private companies are not going to worry about environmental regulations when there are profits to be made. We heard from social justice groups angry that on top of a 22% cut in welfare payments, an increase in the hydro rates would force many social assistance recipients out of their homes and on to the streets. Municipal councillors and leaders addressed the task force. They were concerned about the economic and social impact privatization will have on their communities.

In a few weeks I will present the government with our report and summaries of our task force on Hydro privatization. I urge the Premier to read it with an open mind and to listen to what the people of Ontario are saying about their publicly owned utility: Ontario Hydro is ours. It's not for sale. Don't sell Hydro. Stop the sellout.


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): I rise today to offer congratulations and thanks to Detective Sergeant Bob Matthews and the Ontario Provincial Police. On October 3, 1996, Detective Sergeant Matthews and his unit, called Project P, made what is believed to be the largest seizure of child pornography in Canadian history.

Project P works with the United States customs and the FBI to track sources of child porn transmitted over the Internet. A joint investigation led to the seizure in Kirkland Lake of 20,000 computer files containing photos and video clips of young children engaged in activity which would shock and disgust all but the most depraved members of our society. It is a record of abuse, pain and dehumanization. Both as a father and as a member of this assembly, I'm profoundly grateful to Project P not only for the Kirkland Lake seizure, but also for their sense of duty in spite of the heartbreaking nature of their investigations.

Most importantly, I issue a warning to those who would participate in the production and distribution of pornography. Project P is watching you, as are members of this assembly. This seizure proves that illegal activity on the Internet can be tracked and that those who would choose to use the information highway to victimize others will be prosecuted.

Today I ask all members to join me in thanking Detective Sergeant Matthews and his team at Project P.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Today the mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, and Paul Pagnuelo of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are joining the battle against Mike Harris's mega-city monster that he's creating for Metropolitan Toronto.

The feisty mayor of Mississauga says she doesn't like monsters and doesn't support creating monsters in government. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says in its press release that the mega-city monster will result in higher costs, higher taxes and lower quality of services. They say the mega-city will be a mega-mistake. The press release goes on to say:

"Amalgamating Metro Toronto's six municipalities into one mega-city will be a mega-mistake and will set a dangerous precedent for future restructuring across the province....

"Municipal government reform in the Metro area and across the province should result in smaller government, not necessarily a smaller number of governments....

"The mega-city concept supported by the municipal affairs minister will dilute democratic control of local government by citizens, increase the power of special interests," Pagnuelo says. "Government will be more costly, leading to higher taxes. It will result in lower service quality, make the Metro area less competitive, and will stifle innovation."

This is a mega-mistake. The taxpayers of Metro Toronto deserve at least a say before they are devoured by this mega-city monster. Stop the monster.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have received a very compelling letter from the students in class 208 at the Metropolitan Toronto School for the Deaf. I would like the government members to take note because I believe the students have made some very valuable points. I will quote directly from the letter because it is in the children's own words.

"We have new teachers at our school. We don't want them to get laid off. We also have assistants. They help us. We don't want them to get laid off. We need our teachers to help us learn. Fewer teachers means we can't learn as much. We have nice class sizes. We don't want to be mixed in with other classes. We have two interpreters. If we lose our interpreters, we won't be able to go to integration."

They go on to say: "The government is cutting too much money from poor people. They will have no money to buy food and clothes. Why aren't you nice to poorer people? We don't like what you are doing. Please respect our ideas."

These students urge you, Mr Premier, to stop the cuts to their education funding, and I applaud their initiative in letting their views be known. These 10- to 12-year-olds at the Metropolitan Toronto School for the Deaf will not sit back while this government steamrollers over their basic right to a good education.



Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Next Monday, November 11, while members of this House are back in their constituencies, Canadians across the country will pay tribute to the tens of thousands of men and women who put their lives on the line to ensure our freedom.

As we head towards the next millennium, we are at peace. We are at peace because of our valiant war veterans and their fallen comrades.

Throughout this century, the world has been embroiled in war. Throughout it all, democracy prevailed. I pray we have learned our lessons from the past and value the freedom we have today. So many brave soldiers have guaranteed freedom for us with their courage, their blood and their lives.

We cannot look to the bright horizons of the 21st century unless we recognize our past. While the opportunities before us are limitless, we can never lose sight of the fact that others built this land of opportunity.

So on November 11, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 13 on Kingston Road, the Dambusters Branch 617 on Warden Avenue, the Oakridge Branch 73 on Robinson Avenue, the Baron Byng Branch 11 on Coxwell Avenue, Beaches Branch 42 on Kingston Road and the Woodbine Heights Branch 22 on Woodbine Avenue will pay tribute to the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have passed the bright torch of freedom to us. It is our duty to join them to preserve and protect that torch so that it will continue to burn brightly for those who will follow us.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today participants of the Take Our Kids to Work Day. Would you please join me in welcoming our guests. Welcome.



Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): It is with pleasure I rise in the Legislature today to officially launch our government's child nutrition partnership, Ontario Breakfast for Learning.

The members of the Legislature will know that I have personally been a strong advocate of cooperative efforts that help ensure that every elementary child receives the nutrition that he or she needs. We all know that when children go to school hungry, they are not good learners, and that's why in our very first budget our government committed up to $5 million to help parents and communities set up and expand local nutrition programs.

The program is being administered by the Canadian Living Foundation, our partners in this endeavour. Let me assure the members of the Legislature that the foundation has a proven track record of getting the private sector to support child nutrition programs across the country. There is no other national nor provincial organization whose sole mandate is to support child nutrition programs, and by partnering with the foundation the government is building upon its experiences rather than duplicating a pre-existing program or creating a huge bureaucracy.

I'm pleased to announce that as of today 56 nutrition programs across Ontario have been approved for government funding through this partnership agreement. The Canadian Living Foundation hopes to have approved allocations for a total of 700 programs on behalf of the government of Ontario over the next two years. Six community partnership programs have also been approved in order for parents' groups, service clubs, health departments, school boards and community-based organizations to work cooperatively to establish programs.

As well, the Ontario Breakfast for Learning 1-800 line is now in operation. Ontarians can learn how to establish child nutrition programs in their communities by calling 1-800-627-7922, and I encourage them to do so.

Earlier this year I announced that the Grocery Industry Foundation Together, known as GIFT, was also participating in our nutrition partnership. GIFT committed $3 million over three years in food and distribution costs.

This morning I was proud to gather with representatives of GIFT and the Canadian Living Foundation to congratulate and thank cereal manufacturers for their donation of more than four million servings of breakfast cereal. The cereal manufacturers are the first food producers to participate in the Ontario Breakfast for Learning partnership. Currently, under the leadership of GIFT, additional food companies and marketing boards are working to fulfil their commitment, and I expect to bring further announcements in the near future.

I know that several members on all sides of this House are supportive of this initiative. I know our entire caucus -- the member for Windsor-Sandwich and the member for Dovercourt have been talking about this need over the last number of years in various parties, over 10 years, and I just want to say that I encourage all members to participate in their own communities in this worthwhile initiative.

I've often said that Ontarians working together can do far more than government will ever do by itself and I'll continue to provide everyone with a periodic update on the program as we collectively work towards ensuring that each child in Ontario has the nutrition that he or she needs to be a good learner.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It is my pleasure to respond to an announcement that, quite frankly, I believe the Premier dusted off from the last time he made an announcement because, as I went through his press release and attended his conference as well this morning, I realized that he hasn't said anything new, that in fact the partners who were partners have been partners for some time.

The people who were today on the steps of the Legislature, outside of government, are those who are truly concerned about the nutritional needs of children. I commend Bill McEwan from A&P who is leading the charge on behalf of GIFT to make sure that good food falls into the hands of children, and I commend the Canadian Living Foundation, for many, many years looking to government to say, "Please play a leadership role in this."

I must say, too, the irony of the Premier standing on the steps of the Legislature today, today of all days, this week of all weeks. Quite frankly, the Premier is having a bad week and is looking desperately for something. To roll in these rigs of cereal in front of the steps of the Legislature and at the appropriate moment to have the horns blowing and rolling away from Queen's Park, only to reveal what? A sea of black and grey coats of firefighters who are here to send a message to the Premier. I find it very strange that the Premier would take today of all days to try to bring in good news -- good news, quite frankly, that has been the case for Canadian Living Foundation, for GIFT as an organization, for some time.

Yes, we applaud those organizations for what they're doing. We don't appreciate the fact that it's being used and that they've been co-opted in a political way because the Premier's had a bad week. Because this week we found a reversal on his position on Ipperwash. Because this week he tried to ram through VLT legislation, the slot machines, without encouraging further debate. Because this week the Premier's having a bad week.

In fact, there was nothing new in the announcement today. Instead, I encourage the Premier to go back to the proposal that we initiated months ago in February 1995 to say, "Look at how you really can introduce a program that means more assistance for people at the front line really delivering the programs."

I'll tell you the irony. The words from Bill McEwan this morning really need to be heard by the Minister of Education: that the people, mostly teachers, principals and vice-principals who actually lead the programs at the front-line levels in schools are the ones who have never been more demoralized than they are today because the Ministry of Education under a Harris government is attacking those very people who lead at the front line. The irony, Premier, for you to do this today. What we need for you to tell those people who actually lead these programs: They are important and the work they do for the children of Ontario is most important.

I will give a few moments to my colleague from Oriole as well.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I speak now as our critic for women's issues and I say to the Premier that his announcement today in this House was nothing more than a crass, cynical, partisan announcement. Nothing new was suggested. His comments outside this House are the ones that I wish to address my attention to because to suggest that welfare cuts have not had an impact on hunger in children is ludicrous. To suggest that unemployment and the lack of jobs for people in this province has not had an impact on the issue of hunger for children is ludicrous. In fact, we know that high unemployment rates and cuts to welfare have had a very negative and serious effect on the children of this province. They are living in poverty and they are hungry because of the policies of this government.

Further, and I say this thoughtfully and with caution, I say to the Premier that to blame the mothers of this province, to blame women who are working to support their families, for the fact that their children are not getting breakfast before they go to school could clearly be considered a sexist comment by many, myself included.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I would like to commend the member for Windsor-Sandwich for her initiative, which the Premier has now tried to take up, not with much success. Without all the prodding she has done, without the speeches in the House, we wouldn't even have had an announcement of this kind today.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I would like to respond to the Premier. Perhaps if he returns I'll be able to speak to him directly. I want him to think of his announcement today in the context of a report that was recently issued by the Ontario Social Safety Network. It was a one-year anniversary report on the cuts to welfare.

Premier, you need to know that more and more children are going hungry and that your stopgap measure is not going to address the basic problem here. Ontario is facing a hunger epidemic, as is set out in this report. Food bank use has skyrocketed. Some examples: a 102% increase at a Belleville food bank from June 1995 to June 1996; a 150% increase at a Rainy River food bank; nearly 400% in London.

The quotes from families in here are heart-breaking. Let me just relate a couple to you. A single woman on GWA with a 19-year-old disabled son living with her has unplugged her fridge because she can't afford to buy food. In your community of North Bay, a social worker says, "I see a particular problem with babies on special formulas which are costly, and service providers tell me that many moms are giving their babies 2% milk instead of formula, or watered-down formula."

More and more kids are going hungry. There are 71,000 children living in families now reliant on food banks, and over a quarter of all children in families receiving social assistance who go to food banks regularly are missing meals once a day at this point in time.

Premier, you have to address the core issues here. You cannot deny the relationship between your cuts in welfare and what is happening with children and hunger in this province. For you to say today in this press conference you held that there is no link, and to say that lifestyles have changed and if you go back 30 or 40 years ago when it seemed there was a mom in the kitchen with a hot breakfast cooking and everyone woke up in the morning and ate -- how dare you? How dare you blame women? How dare you blame mothers for the poverty of children and for the hunger of children? How dare you? June Cleaver doesn't live on my street, Premier. June Cleaver doesn't live in our communities any more.

We need a government that is compassionate, a government that cares about children, about children's hunger, not a government that makes an announcement today while there are 30 breakfast programs in this city -- the Toronto Children's Breakfast Club -- that have pink-slipped their employees and are about to close down because you've not made any of this money available to them. You won't respond to them. Deal with the problems that are there. Deal with kids' hunger. Deal with the programs we already have. Don't give us a lot of hoopla out on the front lawn of this Legislature when kids are going hungry.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Mr Premier, I'd like to invite you today to come to a breakfast club in my riding, the Blake-Boultbee Breakfast Club, which is going to shut down at the end of December, which has tried to contact you and just, I believe, communicated with the parliamentary assistant, which got a letter back from you saying it's been passed on to the Minister of Community and Social Services. There are 30 existing breakfast clubs shutting down in this province at the end of December and they have not been able to get a response from your government. The buck has been passed all the way down the line. These have been in existence for eight years. They are doing a good job. They operate on a shoestring budget, but they do need a little bit of operating money because you need a coordinator, often, in these communities to make it happen.

I want to invite you to Blake-Boultbee to talk to some of the women, the volunteers who come daily. They get up in the morning. They're not in their own kitchens cooking breakfast. They're off at that breakfast club volunteering every morning to cook a hot meal for those kids. I say, as my colleagues said, I was shocked to read this quote from you. You are blaming women for not being in the kitchen any more, as they were in the 1950s, cooking hot meals. I am shocked that you'd say that and not take responsibility for the cuts that you and your government have made. You talk to the women at Blake-Boultbee about what they have had to go through since your welfare cuts, with rent controls going off -- their building's been sold off -- all the things that have happened. You are responsible for those hungry kids, not the mothers who aren't in their own kitchens cooking up a nice hot breakfast any more.

Premier, shame on you. I ask you today to stop playing this stupid shell game, accept the reality that you are hurting poor women and kids in this province and really get out there and do something about it. Shame on you.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Point of order, the member for Timiskaming.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): A point of privilege, Mr Speaker. I want to say to the members of the House that section 21 of the standing orders refers to privilege as those rights enjoyed by the House collectively and, as the members know, by us individually. They're conferred by the Legislative Assembly Act but by other practices and customs, and one of those practices and customs is contained in our standing orders, section 32, where a minister of the crown may make short factual statements, and (e) of that section, where we in the opposition of course are allowed up to five minutes to make responses.

About 20 minutes ago we were handed a media advisory from the Solicitor General and from the Attorney General, that they, with the OPP commissioner, are going to be making a very important announcement, as they say here, concerning illegal gaming and video lotteries at 3:30 right here in the media studio. Those two ministers are here today --

The Speaker: Order, member for Timiskaming. It's not a point of privilege.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm conscious of the fact that, as I believe, the Speaker of the House was put in a difficult position yesterday when we came into the House not knowing what the orders of the day would contain and discovered, somewhat unexpectedly, that we would be resuming debate on the very controversial piece of legislation on the introduction of video slot machines in this province, and that in the course of that unexpected debate there was a closure motion moved by the government benches. It was appropriate that there was a finding that that was not due process that afternoon.

I am concerned that the Speaker of the House and the opposition are being put in exactly the same position today, compounded by the issue that my colleague has just raised. We come today and orders of the day are to be announced. We assume that we are going to be resuming the debate on video lottery terminals. We assume, based on yesterday's performance, that there will be a closure motion, and we assume that at about the same time as the closure motion is being moved there will be an announcement of some importance being made a floor below us.

I think there is a real denial of democratic process when at the same time as the government calls for closure on an act which is bringing significant change to the province, they're making an announcement which they describe as being important --

The Speaker: With due respect to the leader of the official opposition, that may be conjecture on your part. I don't know. All I can say to the members of the opposition benches is that reviewing the matters before us today, there's nothing out of order. This is not the first time, I think, in this session or in previous sessions, where orders of the day were laid out as to be announced. That's not out of order. And closure motions are always in order, as I understand. So although you may have some concern about this -- I'm not suggesting you shouldn't and I'm not suggesting you should -- I can only say to you that nothing today in this day's proceedings is out of order.

Mrs McLeod: If I may, I appreciate that. I reviewed the standing orders carefully enough to see if there was any basis on which I could challenge that. I guess my concern is that it's the combination of situations, each of which separately is in order but, taken together, I feel are a true violation of the orders of business of this House.

The Speaker: Again, I appreciate your comments, but as I said earlier, there's nothing out of order. Individually or collectively, they're still in order.

Member for Riverdale, you have a point of order?

Ms Churley: A different point of order, Mr Speaker. I doubt if you heard this, but when I was up responding to the Premier on his statement today, I heard the member from Brampton North say to me, "Why don't you go home and take care of your own kids?" If you didn't hear that, I would ask the member for Brampton North to stand up and apologize for that sexist remark.

The Speaker: The member for Riverdale, I myself did not hear that comment. You have brought it to the attention of the Speaker. I can't ask the member to withdraw specifically because I didn't hear it, but I can ask the member for Brampton North, if he chooses, to stand in his place now, and if he did make the comment, withdraw or do whatever he chooses.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I withdraw the comment, Mr Speaker.




Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier, dealing with the situation at Ipperwash Provincial Park. The Premier knows that this is a very tragic event, the first time a native has been killed in a land dispute in the history of Canada. One of our OPP officers is facing serious criminal charges.

Premier, this is about your role in this matter. On May 29, in answer to a question in the House about your knowledge of the buildup of OPP officers at that incident, you said, and I quote: "We knew nothing of any" OPP "buildup. My staff" knew "nothing of any buildup. I was informed of no buildup."

We now know that your member for Lambton, the Conservative member, Mr Marcel Beaubien, was at the police command post on several occasions, including four hours before the shooting took place. We now have had confirmed that he was in constant touch with Mr King in your office. We now understand that he informed Mr King of what was going on there because he thought that was his role. We now know that he sent a fax to you.

Premier, now that you have had a chance to think about your answer on May 29, will you admit that your answer was incorrect?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I don't believe so. We are dealing with a very serious situation, a very tragic situation. I believe the context in which I was asked was, did I know anything of a buildup of police for any operation that was to take place; did I know of anything that was not able to have been read in the paper; did I know of any information that wasn't on the evening news?

I think if you go back and look at the evening news over the 4th, 5th and 6th -- did I know there was a command post? "Of course." Is that normal police? "No, it is not normal to set up a command post." There was what was considered a very serious situation in which command posts were set up. This was on the news as a matter of public record. I can assure you that I have checked and I have no record in my office of any fax. I have asked Mr King if he can recall having learned anything from Mr Beaubien that wasn't already in the public domain, and he replied that no, there was not.

Mr Phillips: It's more serious as time goes on. The question to you, Premier, was very clear: "Did you know of a buildup?" You denied that you or your staff knew it. It's also very clear that Mr Beaubien was in constant contact with senior people in your office, and these senior people informed you.

On October 30 I asked you, "Can you confirm that Mr Beaubien talked to either yourself or a member of your staff during those three days leading up to the shooting of the native at Ipperwash?" and can you confirm that what Mr Beaubien said is true, that is, that he sent you written communication? Your answer then was, "Not to the best of my knowledge." Now that you've had a chance to think about it, will you admit that answer was incorrect?

Hon Mr Harris: I have not spoken to Mr Beaubien and did not during that period of time, and nothing was expressed to any member of my staff that caused them to relay that information to me.

Mr Phillips: Premier, in both cases now, the two questions I asked you, you have once again not been forthcoming. We're at the heart of the matter. For some reason this incident was handled very differently from other incidents with our native communities.

This incident happened two months after you became Premier. The question is right at the heart for you: What role did you play in it? Why did you and your government decide to handle this differently? Did you tell the police to get tough? Did you instruct the police to handle it differently?

The reason I'm posing this is that we have now asked you several questions on this matter, and frankly -- I would use stronger language -- your answers have not been straightforward. Will you now agree to establish an independent, public inquiry with full authority to look into this matter and to examine the role that you personally played in this whole tragic event?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me say in response to the member's question that I have given all the information that I have been aware of every day, at every instance, and continue to do so, going back to events over a year ago.

Let me also remind the member of the allegations that he makes that following completing of the SIU investigation, Commissioner O'Grady made a public statement indicating quite clearly there was absolutely no political involvement; there was no political direction by government members or by government officials. I have consistently relayed that. The police have consistently relayed that.

Clearly, the member was there to get information; that's been acknowledged. Also, I think the Solicitor General has indicated to you at no time did the member give any direction to any member of the OPP during his visits to find out for his constituents, both native and non-native, what was going on and what information they needed to know. I would suggest to you that if any of you did less on behalf of your constituents, you would not be doing your job.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I want to indicate that we don't find the Premier's answers acceptable. We'll be pursuing an issue which we feel is serious.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I will direct my second question to the Minister of Education and Training. This morning we heard from a group of teachers who are extremely concerned about the impact your cuts are having on students in their classrooms. Those teachers are with us in the gallery today.

They came here because they were deeply concerned about what's happening to their students. They knew that in the past you have discounted every report from teachers, so they went and had an independent study conducted to attempt to assess the impact of your cuts, and they learned some interesting things.

One thing they found that you might be interested in was that teachers are working harder than ever, with 90% of teachers spending many hours after class and on weekends preparing lessons and doing other work-related activities, which might contradict what your friend Mr Paroian had to say last week.

But they found out a lot more. They found that students are finding themselves in larger classes. They found that the dollars for supplies and for textbooks are being cut. In fact, here's one of the textbooks that's being used in our classes, held together with elastics and falling apart. They found that teachers are having to contribute as much as $350 a year just to provide basic supplies out of their own pockets.

Minister, you seem to have acknowledged that your cuts are indeed hurting students in the classroom. Will you now agree that students cannot afford any more cuts?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. First of all, I had a chance to look at least at the media release this morning from the report the member alludes to. Once again, I'm somewhat surprised to find that apparently the Leader of the Opposition has not in fact read the report to which she refers. If she had, she would find that this in no way contradicts anything I've said in this House.

There is no time when I haven't suggested that teachers work very hard, that their profession is one that's very demanding, and in fact that they spend a good deal of their time outside of the classroom working to make sure they can provide those professional services to their students as best they possibly can. That is not inconsistent with anything I've said, or any report that has been tabled by this government over the course of our term of being in power, so I'm surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would represent it as such.

Mrs McLeod: I was not surprised to hear the teachers we spoke to this morning say how demoralized they are feeling because of the constancy with which this minister and this government discredit everything that is being done by committed teachers in their classrooms on behalf of students. That's the message they are getting from you, Minister, and that is hurting students in the classroom.

But what they are really, really concerned about is not what you have to say about them, not how you discount their work, but what is happening to the students in the classrooms. We talked to the teachers who are here today. Each of them told us what's happening in their particular classroom, where the kids are struggling to learn in classes of 35 kids, where students with special needs are not getting the support they need, where education basics such as librarians and music programs and phys-ed programs are being eliminated because of your cuts.


Minister, the teachers who are here today feel that you are not listening to them, that you're not hearing the legitimate concerns they have for their students. Will you listen to the teachers who have come here today to ask you to hear their stories, or were you going to let the tax cut continue to drive your entire agenda?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I must say that when I read the media release this morning on that report, I was very disturbed to find that a number of teachers in the province still believe that this government is somehow anti-teacher, despite the fact that I have stood in this chamber day after day and said time and time again that the critical decisions in our education system are made at or in or near a classroom, that the professional teachers are the greatest asset of our education system and that one of the reasons we have the potential to have the best education system in the world in Ontario is because of the quality of our professional teachers.

I have said that time and time again in this chamber, and my colleagues, to a person, agree with that and are behind it, so it demoralizes me when I read that that message is not getting out to our teachers in the province, and I would ask the Leader of the Opposition if she would in some way represent this government factually to people and let people know that the minister and this government are in fact behind and in favour of those professional teachers.

Mrs McLeod: I have been doing my best for months now to represent this government factually and to get the government to understand the realities that are there. I invite the minister to read more than the press release. I invite him to read the entire report, and he will be even more disturbed. More than that, I join with the teachers who are here today in inviting the minister to come and visit their classrooms. They want you to come and see what is happening out there.

Minister, I don't think you had any understanding of what was happening in classrooms when you began your cuts, and I don't think you have any desire to understand what's happening now. The Minister of Finance needed some money for his budget cuts. He asked you to find some money and you said, "I can do even more than you're asking me to do." That's the bottom line: how you can take money out of education to pay for your tax cut.

If you want to send a positive message to teachers, to students, to parents, tell them you understand that our education system cannot sustain any more cuts. I ask you to send that message today by answering one simple question. The next time you and your cabinet sit down to talk about the budget cuts the Minister of Finance is going to announce this month, will you stop, do everything in your power to stop the Tory bulldozer from digging any more holes in our education system and hurting students any further?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Let me assure the Leader of the Opposition of this, that I have spent -- I've said this in this chamber on many occasions, and it would be useful if the Leader of the Opposition would be factual in her comments about this -- I spent last year about 25% of my time in classrooms. I am told by people at the Ministry of Education that is the most amount of time a Minister of Education has spent in a classroom of the previous governments. I intend to continue doing that this year, because I do believe it's important to understand the real concerns and the real-life issues of professional teachers in this province, and so I will continue to make every effort to do that.

But I want to tell the Leader of the Opposition this: I have had conversations with a number of teachers over the course of the last 16 months, and I can tell you that they are teachers because they are committed to the future of their students. They want to prepare those students for what they believe will be a challenging future, and they, like this government, they, like this minister, are unwilling to send a bill for the education to the children. This government won't and the professional teachers don't want us to.

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

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also to the Minister of Education, and I'll preface it by telling the minister that 72% of the teachers across this province give you an F. You're still getting Fs.

You made some comments yesterday that I want to ask you about. You said yesterday that your government will not tolerate a lower quality of education in any school, and you said your government is not willing to have second-class students, and yesterday you blamed cuts that are happening on school boards. You said school boards aren't making the right decisions.

I want to ask you today about the Atikokan Roman Catholic Separate School Board, where decisions about funding and about cuts are directly made by you and your ministry. This school year, the ministry cut the staff at St Patricks elementary school by half a teacher. Because operating funds are tied to the number of teachers, $10,000 was also taken out of operating funds. What this means is that there's only a half-time grade 6 teacher; 11-year-olds in grade 6 have to spend half the day rotating from class to class because there's no grade 6 teacher. The teacher in the classroom says this is not good for the kids. He says it's not good for 11-year-olds. They don't get what they need out of education.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Hampton: I want to ask the minister --

The Speaker: That's fine. It's done. It's up. That's it. I appreciate the fact you haven't asked the question, but you went well beyond the time limit, well beyond it. Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: If the leader of the third party has a question regarding a specific school or a specific decision that's been made by my ministry or any board, I'd be more than happy to take that question under advisement and provide him with an answer.

As to my comments yesterday, I stand by them. The leader of the third party, your party was in power for five years in this province. You had the opportunity, sir, to put together a funding program that would guarantee there would be no second-class students in the province and you failed to do so. This government will not fail to do so.

Mr Hampton: Just so you know, Minister, this is an isolate school board. You make the decisions directly on the number of classes, the number of teachers and the operating budgets. You make it; the board doesn't make it. You cut this board. You cut out half a teacher this year. You took $10,000 out of their operating funds and you're the person who's taking kids who are 11 years old and taking away their full-time teacher. Don't blame it on anybody else. It was your decision. It was a decision that was made this year.

Let me ask you this, Minister: Since these kids don't have a full-time teacher any more and since you're the person who's making that decision, do you now agree that you're hurting children, you're hurting classroom children, you're hurting 11-year-old school children because you're more interested in giving your wealthy corporate friends a phony tax cut than you are interested in kids in the classroom?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I have learned over the course of the last 16 months to take the representations of the leader of the third party in this House with a grain of salt. I would be more than happy to have a look at that situation and provide him with whatever information he requires.

But if anyone has hurt children in this province, the leader of the third party needs to look around him, because you handed the children of this province a $50-billion debt that this government is charged with reversing.


Mr Hampton: The question was about classroom education. It was about education for children. It's very obvious the minister doesn't want to answer --

The Speaker: Order. Government members, please come to order. It's difficult to hear him when you're continuing your applause.


The Speaker: And opposition members, come to order now.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Throw them out.

The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau, would you come to order specifically.

Mr Hampton: The question was about children in a grade 6 classroom; it was about 11-year-old children. So the minister wants to talk about a tax cut and he wants to talk about debt. Maybe the minister can answer this, because some of the children and some of the teachers from that school are here today: Do you think it's all right that your government gives the president of one of the big banks over $200,000 in tax breaks while these children lose their teacher? Is that what you're saying is all right?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I know that these words will probably not be understood if they're in fact listened to by the leader of the third party, but I will say them anyway: We are committed to having a high-quality and fair education system so that every student in this province has the opportunity to have a high-quality education, and we will get that done. The third party had an opportunity to do that when they were --


The Speaker: Order. Will the Minister of Finance and the third party House leader come to order, please.

Hon Mr Snobelen: This government will provide that equality of opportunity for every student in the province. We know there are students who have been hurt in the past because your government would not fix the funding system or the governance system.

More to the point, this government is charged with reversing the record of mismanagement of your government, which includes overtaxation, a higher debt which we are passing on to our young people, less opportunity, a diminished hope. We are restoring hope and opportunity for those young people.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is for the Premier, and it concerns the fact that the MPP for Lambton is contradicting what the Premier has said in this House on many occasions about events surrounding Ipperwash.

Yesterday the member for Lambton confirmed, as we've discussed earlier here in the House, that he had several conversations with Bill King in your office both before and after the Ipperwash shooting. Mr Beaubien goes on to say that it was back and forth. "I talked to Bill King in the Premier's office on numerous occasions." In fact, Mr Beaubien admitted to discussing Ipperwash with the Premier's office "probably three or four times" during the sensitive period around the time of the shooting.

Premier, do you expect us to believe that Mr King, who works directly for you in your office, your own personal assistant, did not inform you of the issues that Mr Beaubien was raising? Do you expect us to believe your assistant would keep you in the dark?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think if there was anything that was new or was not public or was not already in the nightly news, that may have been relayed to members of my staff, but my recollection, and I talked with Mr King, is that this was not the case.

Mr Hampton: We just want to be sure all the information gets out here. Mr Beaubien stated that he recorded the dates that he contacted your office and he says he's got those records. Mr Beaubien also says that he sent faxes to your office on the Ipperwash situation. Mr Beaubien says that he has copies of these faxes. That's what he told the media yesterday. In fact, Mr Beaubien says they were faxes that apprised the different ministries and the Premier on occasions, relaying concerns.

If this is truly the case, I want to ask you, will you commit to and consent to having the records of Mr Beaubien and the faxes that Mr Beaubien sent to you and to other ministries released? Will you arrange to have those released so the public can be fully informed about what happened at Ipperwash?

Hon Mr Harris: The request doesn't sound to me to be unreasonable, save and except a couple of things. The first is that you would know in the matter before us there are criminal, there are civil cases that are there. But subject to whatever authority I have or whatever authority the member has and subject to any legal advice, I have no difficulty with that kind of information being public.

Mr Hampton: In his first response, the Premier said that this is all information that's on the TV news. You said in your first response that there's no problem here; the information should be shared. You're the person who's running this province. This is a member of your caucus. I am asking you directly, as the person who runs this province, to ensure that the faxes and the records of phone calls and contacts and communications are made public. That doesn't seem to be too much of a request.

I'm asking you something a little further, though. You see, Premier, what's troubling about this is that the OPP suddenly changed their position on how to deal with matters like Ipperwash. Before you became the government, their position was to negotiate and not to get into a confrontation.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The question.

Mr Hampton: We know that when you became the government, suddenly a confrontation occurred. So it's important, Premier, that you allow these records to be seen. It's important that we see these records, because it will inform everybody in Ontario as to what took place at Ipperwash. Will you guarantee that all of these records and faxes will be made public?

Hon Mr Harris: I answered the question, that I would seek whatever is there. I have no personal difficulty. I haven't seen them, by the way. I know some came to some of my staff. If there was anything in them that was different, I assume it would have been brought to my attention, and it was not. I'm happy to look into that. I've committed to you to do that and have no difficulty with that.

Let me assure you of this: At no time, confirmed by the OPP, did they receive any direction of any change in policy or how they were to handle situations. I think they have readily confirmed that there is absolutely no change in any of their policy. If you read the statement that was released by Commissioner O'Grady, you would find he indicated it is always -- has been, is now and always will be -- their operational plan, as they've relayed it to us, to try and deal with these situations peacefully.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Premier, the person who's in charge of the government of Ontario, who is responsible ultimately for all the decisions.

Yesterday your government tried to use a legislative bulldozer, the closure motion, the motion that shuts down debate, to ram through the bill that would permit video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, in every bar, every restaurant and every neighbourhood in Ontario. You know that this is the most alluring and the most seductive and the most addictive kind of gambling, and you're bringing it to every neighbourhood in this province, sneaking the bill in yesterday afternoon and trying to force it through this House.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for St Catharines, come to order. Government members, please. Go ahead.

Mr Bradley: Premier, are you so desperate for the cash to make up for the tax cut which will largely benefit the rich that you are prepared to pay such a terrible and awful price, a price that will be borne largely by the most vulnerable and the most desperate people in our society? Are you, despite widespread opposition in this province, including by members from all parties in this House, still prepared to ram this bill through and put video lottery terminals in every bar, every restaurant and every neighbourhood in Ontario?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the House leader could respond to that.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): I'm very happy to respond to this. Indeed there has been considerable debate on Bill 75. At the second reading level there were four and a half hours. In committee, in terms of deputations and debate, there were over 68 hours of debate. Indeed now, at third reading, we've had almost 10.5 hours of debate. I might say there has been considerably more debate on Bill 75 than there was on Bill 8, for example, which authorized casinos in the province of Ontario. There needs to be debate. We've had a considerable amount of debate in terms of committee and House time, over 80 hours in total. Now I think there's a necessity for this House to come to a conclusion on this bill.


The Speaker: The member for Essex-Kent, come to order.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): This is important.

The Speaker: I don't need debate with you right now. I just ask you to come to order. Thank you.

Mr Bradley: Yesterday the Premier indicated that he was changing his position. Obviously he is getting a lot of heat from not only his own caucus, not only the opposition, but a lot of people in this province. This afternoon the government is scrambling to have a press conference of some kind to provide information even though it has hidden an important report which talks about criminal activity in the gaming area or the gambling area.


If indeed it was your intention not to place these electronic slot machines in every restaurant, every bar and every neighbourhood in Ontario -- if that is not your intention -- are you prepared to now accept an amendment which would prohibit the placement of these electronic slot machines in every bar, every restaurant and every neighbourhood in Ontario? Are you prepared to accept such an amendment?

Hon David Johnson: In my comments I'm not reflecting on your decision, but obviously it's the government position that we have had considerable debate on this issue. Amendments have been considered at the committee level. That's what the whole committee process --


The Speaker: Order, the member for London North. Minister of Agriculture, can you come to order, please.

Hon David Johnson: We have spent over 83 hours on this bill. We have looked at amendments. The opposition parties had an opportunity to put amendments. Those have been considered through the committee process and we feel that it's time to bring this to order, bring this to a final vote. This bill will allow for the control of VLTs and there will be measures made to enforce police efforts in terms of the illegal machines that are out there today and to protect communities. This government is of the opinion that this will be an improvement over the current situation where there are some 20,000 or more illegal machines in the province of Ontario.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General responsible for public safety in the province. This morning we saw more than 2,000 firefighters on the front lawn of Queen's Park, and some of them are here today from as far away as Timmins and Kirkland Lake. As a group of people who are more concerned with public safety than their own self-interest, they want to know why the Premier and the minister did not keep their promise made during the election to firefighters to consult with the front-line men and women who protect us from fire in this province before bringing in a Fire Safety Act. You didn't do that. You refused to meet with them after the fire marshal's report was in, to have any kind of substantive consultation. You set up the Who Does What committee, which met extensively with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and fire chiefs, but never once consulted front-line people.

We all saw you march in here with representatives of AMO and the management of fire departments to announce your bill. Will you commit to us today that as this bill goes through this process you will guarantee the firefighters of this province public hearings on Bill 84?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I want to say that consultation has been extensive with respect to this legislation and the change --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Runciman: No government has dealt with this in almost half a century, and we're committed to doing it in the interests of public safety.

I want to say with respect to the allegations made by the member in terms of consultation, my office met on four different occasions -- July, two occasions in August, once in September. Certainly I met with Mr Lee and Mr Carpenter after assuming office as well, so I want to indicate that I appreciate the concerns. No one has more respect for front-line firefighters in this province, both full-time and volunteer, than this minister. We're very much cognizant of their concerns. I am indeed supportive of public hearings. We'll have to work this out with the opposition parties and the government House leader, but I am very supportive of public hearings.

Mrs Boyd: Let me be very frank. The meetings you held with the representatives of professional firefighters in this province in no way gave them any inkling of what you planned to do: to decimate their collective agreements, to destroy their ability to offer not only fire suppression services but fire protection services, a major part of their job in this province.

You say you personally are in favour of this and that's not what I asked you, because it's fine to be personally in favour of something and to rely on your House leader to say that it's not possible to have public hearings. I'm asking you to guarantee to the firefighters of this province, who are responsible to you as the minister who's responsible for fire protection, that as Bill 84 goes through the process there will be public hearings at which firefighters, municipal councillors and the population that's protected by firefighters across the province can tell you what they think of this bill that you tout as a great step forward in public safety.

Hon Mr Runciman: Certainly the House leader's office has indicated to me that they are supportive of hearings. These are the kinds of negotiations that take place with all three House leaders. I've indicated my support for public hearings. I've conveyed that to firefighters as well when I've been asked. I want to say that this legislation was developed --


Hon Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, the original question and the supplementary centred on public hearings. I've indicated my personal feeling that this should occur. I think the House leader's office has indicated support. We understand and appreciate the concerns being expressed by firefighters. We're willing to listen to them during this legislative process and perhaps changes will be forthcoming as a result of that consultation.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Recently the House voted unanimously in support of the principle of Bill 85, a private member's bill in my name which would get tough with drunk drivers who are repeat offenders. My bill requires education and rehabilitation programs for all impaired driving offenders, lengthens the driver licence suspensions for persons convicted a second or third time and permanently revokes the licences of repeat offenders who are convicted a fourth or subsequent time. Minister, do you support this bill and, if so, can the government commit to passing either my bill or a similar government bill?


Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I thank the member for Mississauga South for her question. The government agrees that there is a need for tough sanctions to deal with repeat drinking and driving offenders. This is why the ministry has implemented administrative driver's licence suspension, which will start well before Christmas.

I support Mrs Marland's bill in principle and have asked ministry staff to take a look at her proposal to see how best we can get even tougher on impaired drivers.

Finally, I really like the idea of one-year, three-year and five-year suspensions. I definitely feel that it will send a clear message that this government is going to get tough on drinking and driving.

Mrs Marland: On October 24 the Minister of Transportation, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General marked the anniversary of the government's road safety plan. Many initiatives in that plan, including the administrative driver's licence suspension, were passed in Bill 55 and will soon be proclaimed into law. The administrative driver's licence suspension, incidentally, was in my original bill tabled in November 1994.

However, several other measures in the road safety plan have not yet been incorporated into legislation. I ask the Minister of Transportation, does the government plan to introduce additional road safety legislation, and if so, when?

Hon Mr Palladini: Thank you once again, to the member for Mississauga South. As set out in the road safety plan, the ministry is looking at requiring drinking and driving offenders to complete some type of remedial measure program before they get their licence back. We expect to make a decision on the appropriate model some time this winter.

This program must be both cost-effective and effective in helping to rehabilitate drivers with a drinking problem so they will no longer pose a threat on our roads.

In answer to her question, we have another road safety bill coming forward this fall but we intend to address specifically drinking and driving again in the spring of 1997.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question for the Solicitor General. Minister, I had the privilege of speaking to thousands of very angry firefighters on the front lawn this morning. They wanted me to pass on to you that they missed you out there, by the way. You were invited. Maybe next time you can catch the rally.

They're angry because you poisoned a potentially very beneficial piece of legislation for fire safety in this province. You've poisoned the bill with labour relations provisions that really are an attack on Ontario firefighters.

The irony of this is that there's not a problem here to fix. Firefighters have never struck. In fact, as you know, they have a code that they will never go on strike.

Why don't you show that you have the trust in and respect for Ontario firefighters we all have and remove that section of the bill?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I've indicated in an earlier question that we are going to have public hearings on this. That's my understanding. The firefighters will have every opportunity to make that case.

With respect to that particular provision, I think when we're talking about public safety, in the interests of public safety it's my view, and they will have the opportunity to convince me otherwise, that it's our responsibility to codify that protection for the public of Ontario.

Mr Ramsay: What we're talking about is the firefighters' ability to negotiate how they work in their workplace. That's what this is all about. If you respect them so much and are on their side, as you've said in this House in answer to previous questions, then why would you have put this section in the bill? Instead of that you've attacked the respect and dignity of Ontario firefighters and, through them, all the men and women and children of our province who hold Ontario firefighters in the highest esteem, because we all know that these men and women risk their lives out there for all of us on a daily basis.

Minister, I'm glad you support public hearings. I'm looking forward to participating in those hearings in the upcoming months. But why don't you sit down with the firefighters and negotiate this out of the bill so that we can all get on and support a good bill for fire safety in this province?

Hon Mr Runciman: I intend to sit down with the firefighters during the hearings process and participate personally as much as I can.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Minister of Education and Training. Barb Hoddinott, from St Marys school in Trenton, has a grade 8 class of 27 students. One third of them have been identified as needing help with reading, writing and oral language skills. In addition, one of those children plus one other one have behavioural problems that have been ongoing. Another student has a stuttering problem, and as of this year there is no assistance for that student.

Yesterday in this House, the Minister of Education said that "this government will not accept a lower quality of education in any school in the province of Ontario." He said that the funding formula has made second-class students out of special needs students.

Last year, the nine identified students had four periods each week with a resource teacher to give them extra help. This year, as a direct result of your cuts, that has been cut to one half. They only see that teacher every second week.

Minister, do you agree that the students in Barb Hoddinott's class are getting a lower quality of education than they did last year, and isn't this as a direct result of the cuts --

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

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I think the honourable member knows, because I know he's familiar with education and I know he's participated in discussions on this subject over the course of the last year, that in fact funding to special needs was not decreased last year. It was in fact slightly increased, and it has been increasing over the course of the last decade or so. So the funding to special needs was not reduced last year, just to be very clear about that.

I did say yesterday, and I'll say again today, that I believe the funding formula for students must address the individual student needs. I think our present formula does not. Our government is committed to changing it. Frankly, I wish the previous government had changed it.

Mr Wildman: The minister ignores the fact that in this particular case, one third of the students in this grade 8 class need extra help in this crucial year before they go to high school. They're not getting that help, because the board does not have the funding. They're only getting a little bit compared to what they had last year and 100% of the students in this class are missing out, because this affects the whole class operation.

How on earth can you justify to these students and their teachers why they had to miss out on educational opportunities because of your cuts? When are you going to explain to these students that they should in fact miss these opportunities because of your government's agenda?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Perhaps I'm not speaking slow enough for the honourable member opposite. Special needs funding was not reduced last year. It was in fact increased, and so if the member opposite would like to continue to refer to special needs reductions, there has not been one. I'm surprised that the member opposite does not know that.

Again, to make the point very clear, we believe there needs to be a better funding mechanism in the province of Ontario so that funds spent on education get to the classroom and make a difference with the young people in this province, and this government will do that. Your government, sir, did not.



Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Solicitor General. In my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay I've received a number of comments and questions concerning the introduction of video lottery terminals in the province. Some of these comments have been supportive of the move, as they're seen as being beneficial to the tourism industry. However, yesterday in my Toronto office I had a constituent from Huntsville visit me, and he raised some valid concerns about VLTs related to law enforcement issues.

Minister, can you tell my constituent what you're doing to ensure that the government is putting sufficient enforcement safeguards in place?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I want to thank the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay for the question. The member is correct. I have said publicly on a number of occasions, as have a number of my colleagues, that the government is aware of the law enforcement concerns around illegal gaming in Ontario and we take them very seriously.

Both my colleagues and I assured this House more than once that this government is addressing those law enforcement concerns and much more effectively than previous governments. Right now, the Gaming Control Commission, which my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is responsible for, has a dedicated staff of 80 law enforcement personnel committed to tackling the problem of illegal gaming.

Mr Grimmett: I'm encouraged to hear that information, Minister, but can you provide my constituent with a little more specific information on how these measures will actually deter VLT-related illegal activity?

Hon Mr Runciman: In addition to the work that is already being done to combat illegal gaming, my colleagues the Attorney General and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and I will be making an important announcement later today detailing a new provincial illegal gaming program aimed at reducing illegal gaming and targeting organized crime involved in operating illegal video lottery terminals.

This government is doing what it promised to do. We have said we would make sure that our communities were effectively protected from illegal gaming activities, and that is precisely what the measures we will be announcing later today will achieve.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have an important question for the Minister of Health. The minister knows I attended the Ontario Hospital Association annual general meeting this morning. I spoke with many people: trustees, administrators, doctors, nurses and others who were attending the convention. They told me that our hospitals will not be able to cope with your further cuts of 6% this year and 7% next year to their operating budgets.

As the hospitals across Ontario have struggled to meet the 5% cut for this past year, we have seen as a result nurses laid off, services being moved out of hospitals, services being cut, as well as some administrative savings. But clearly patient care has suffered.

Hospitals have made it very clear that they cannot cope with this government and this minister's budget cuts. My question to the Minister is, will you stop your further cuts that are ill-advised, that are going to hurt patient care, that our hospitals say they cannot cope with? Will you stand up today and announce you will stop this?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member is correct; she was there when I spoke to the Ontario Hospital Association this morning. I think we both should have come away with the same message, given that we were at the same meeting. The message I got from the president of the OHA, the executive of the OHA, was, "Get on with restructuring and redouble your efforts to get on with restructuring and give more resources to the commission so that we can get the restructuring done."

The honourable member has a point with respect to hospital budgets and that is they want to get on with restructuring, getting rid of the waste, duplication and overlap, excessive administration. Many people came up to me afterwards, because I thanked those hospitals that went from 14 vice-presidents to five vice-presidents and all the different examples I gave in my remarks. Many of those hospitals came up to me and said: "Thank you for recognizing the restructuring we've done so far. There's more to be done and let's get on with it."

Mrs Caplan: That is not what the people were saying this morning. The minister is not listening to the people who run our hospitals. He is not listening to the trustees, the boards of directors. He's not listening to administrators and nurses and doctors and others. Minister, you do not know what is happening out there. They are telling you they cannot cope with further cuts to their hospital budgets, planned cuts for this year and next year.

This morning I was told that not only is patient access and quality suffering, but I was told that by April of this year the wheels of your health care system are going to be falling off your bus.

Minister, in the name of patient care, in the name of sick people across this province, I ask you today, I implore you, will you stop the cuts to the hospital budgets in this province? Will you put patient care ahead of your tax cut, and will you stop the cuts to the hospitals budgets that are hurting people in this province?

Hon Mr Wilson: I hope the honourable member took the opportunity to state some facts to the members of the OHA she spoke with, because the only ones cutting health care in Ontario are Jean Chrétien and the federal Liberal Party.

The federal Liberal Party is very much in favour of restructuring. The honourable member may want to look at the letters that come out regularly from the Prime Minister and the letters that come out regularly from Mr Dingwall, the health minister, who support the province of Ontario in their restructuring and modernization efforts in the health care system.


Hon Mr Wilson: Mr Speaker?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Oriole, if you ask the question, it seems incumbent on you to hear the answer.


The Speaker: Well, you know, with the greatest of respect, the member for Oriole, when you ask the questions, I watch carefully and the minister listens. So if he's going to answer them, I think the same respect is due him. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: Finally, as I went into the room this morning, a story was told to me that Steve Paikin was the guest speaker the day before, and Steve asked the audience there -- there were several hundred people in the room; this is at the convention centre -- whether the government was on the right track; "doing the right thing" was the actual question. I'm told that 80% of the CEOs, presidents, chairs and hospital volunteers in that room put up their hands and indicated the government was on the right track.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have another question for the Minister of Education and Training. Judy McStravick, who teaches at Pope John Paul II elementary school, is here today. She teaches a grade 5 class. Last year she had 24 students in her class. This year, because of your cuts, she has 35 students in her grade 5 class. Many of her students are reading three or four levels lower than they should be, but because she has so many students, she can't give them the extra help, and the board can't afford to hire more resource teachers, so the children only get a little bit of time with the resource teacher in terms of help with their reading.

Minister, can you explain to Judy McStravick and her grade 5 students how it is that your government can afford a $5-billion tax gift to the wealthiest people in Ontario but you can't afford to help them in terms of getting the resource teachers they need to learn to read?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Certainly it would be my pleasure to explain to anyone who is interested why class sizes may have gone up this year versus last year in some circumstances, and that is, because these are set two years out, this is the result of the leader of the third party's social contract. So I'm very happy to explain it.


Mr Hampton: Once again the minister doesn't know what he's talking about. There was in fact an enrolment increase at this board of education, but because of your cuts and the way your cuts are impacting, these children can't get the help they need and the school board can't get the money for the teachers they need.

Let me give you another example, since you obviously need some information. In the grade 1 class they have 36 students, and the expectation is that at the end of the year every one of those children should be able to read. The teacher in that class knows that she doesn't have time to help every child who needs extra help. So maybe once again you can explain to the teachers from that school and the grade 1 students from that school how it is your government can afford to give bank presidents in Ontario $200,000 tax gifts but you don't have any money to help grade 1 children learn how to read. Maybe you can explain that.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to acknowledge a good try on behalf of the leader of the third party to get around the fact that the social contract had the effect of increasing class size across the province and in fact that's what schools are dealing with right now.

I can assure you of this: The 1.8% savings target that we have for schools across the province this year is meetable without --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Cochrane North, would you please come to order. Thank you. The member for Kingston and The Islands, you come to order as well. If that's provocation, then you haven't been around here very long, let me tell you. Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In fact, let me say again that the 1.8% savings that we're looking for in our school system is attainable without affecting classroom education. We will make sure that happens. It's not only attainable, but it's necessary. It's necessary, sir, because your government raised the debt and raised taxes in this province and diminished the opportunity for the young people, and you have the gall to talk about --


The Speaker: Order. A fun day was had by all, I see. That's good.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Mr Speaker, get a muzzle. Get a muzzle and a leash.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, you're being the least helpful of anyone. If you could come to order, I'd appreciate it. Thank you. Statements? We're way past that; we're at motions. No motions? Petitions.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In light of the fact that the government is holding a press conference momentarily to deal with a very important issue that's before the House, I ask for unanimous consent to revert to ministers' statements so the statements can be made here in this House.

The Speaker: The member for Algoma seeks unanimous consent to revert back to ministers' statements. I did hear a no.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I just want to make the observation -- and I say it specifically to the government House leader, and I accept your previous ruling. For this assembly to be charged with a very important bill, Bill 75, and to be at the very same time in the very same building knowledgeable of a very related press conference is, if it's not unparliamentary, I have to say through you, Mr Speaker, to the government House leader, discourteous if not contemptuous. All I say as a former government House leader is that in all of my trials and tribulations and misjudgements, if I had ever done something like that to Mike Harris or Ernie Eves, these chandeliers would have been ripped off the roof above me.

The Speaker: I appreciate the point of privilege. Again, there's nothing out of order. It's just that simple. We're at petitions and the member for Wilson Heights is getting in shape, I can see, so you go first then.



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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by 115 of my constituents from Hornepayne. 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 the schools, to deal with broad policies as advocates for the students in their community, to provide cost-efficient education services and to be directly accountable to the parents and local ratepayers."

I support the petition and affix my name thereto.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition which I'm filing today on behalf of the member for Simcoe East signed by one constituent from that riding. It relates to the Police Services Act and a suggested amendment relating to the investigation of complaints. I file that today.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a further petition signed by residents in my riding. They are concerned with the possibility of eliminating rent control. I wish to read it to the House.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has announced its intention to remove rent control from apartments that become vacant so that landlords can charge whatever rent they want; and

"Whereas the government's proposed law will eliminate rent control from new buildings and allow landlords to pass on repair bills and other costs to tenants; and

"Whereas the government's proposal will make it easier for landlords to demolish buildings and easier to convert apartments to condominiums; and

"Whereas due to the zero vacancy rate in Metro Toronto the removal of rent control will cause extreme hardship for seniors and tenants on fixed incomes and others who cannot afford homes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario to keep the existing system of rent control."

I concur and will affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the workers of Ontario regarding this government's continuing attack on their rights in health and safety and WCB.

"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 join these petitioners.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Mr Speaker, as you know, it is against the rules of the House for cabinet ministers to present petitions. As such, I have a petition from the Minister of Labour signed by a number of her constituents from Waterloo North which reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, protest the unilateral approach of the Harris government with regard to the restructuring of health care in this province. We feel that the measures taken by the health minister, Jim Wilson, are precipitating the rapid decline of the health care system, to the detriment of the residents of Ontario.

"We are particularly concerned with what we perceive to be an impending crisis in the availability of doctors' services. Doctors are leaving this area at a phenomenal rate, and more graduates are going to the United States than are remaining behind. We are left with only one cancer specialist in this region, and the obstetrical services in the Kitchener-Waterloo area have just been withdrawn. We fear further losses of necessary services such as these if your government persists with its current approach to health care reform.

"We urge this government to negotiate immediately with doctors from all areas of expertise and to listen to their concerns with a view to making the practice of medicine once again a desirable profession in Ontario; to stick to your promises of less government interference by reducing the red tape in which doctors are entangled; and to consider implementing the suggestions of the medical community with regard to cost-effective solutions for health care in this province. Failure to do so will be viewed as a refusal to abide by the wishes of the electorate in this area and will be remembered at the next election."

It's signed by a number of constituents of Waterloo North. I've affixed my name to the petition.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a large number of petitions representing over 1,800 people in the city of Elliot Lake. It represents about one in 10 people in Elliot Lake. The petition says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

"Whereas the global annual budget for health care will be reduced by 25% and will affect health care delivery for the region and cause even longer delays for treatment;

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

I affix my signature. This brings in total over 15,000 signatures to this petition.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House. In the midst of a crucial debate on electronic slot machines in this province, the Solicitor General --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Welland-Thorold, do you want to get named?

Mr Kormos: I move we adjourn.

The Speaker: Member, you're going to get named if you don't sit down.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): He moved a motion.

The Speaker: I heard him move the motion. There's no debate on the motion.

Mr Kormos has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. It will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1523 to 1552.

The Speaker: Order. Would the members take their seats, please.

Pursuant to Mr Kormos's motion to adjourn the House, would all those in favour please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 27; the nays are 54.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Mr Speaker, I move that we proceed to orders of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Tilson has moved that we proceed to orders of the day. Shall the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There'll be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1554 to 1624.

The Speaker: Order. Will the members take their seats, please.

Mr Tilson has moved we proceed to orders of the day.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56; the nays are 27.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



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.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mrs McLeod, you have the floor.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I'm conscious of the fact that I only have 11 minutes left to participate in this debate. Of course, there are continuously new pieces of information being added that should be relevant to the debate, so I really wish that I had longer. In fact, as I wound up my remarks yesterday and adjourned the House at 6 o'clock, I had just been expressing my concern with the fact that the government, whose own criminal intelligence service, a service of the OPP, had a report which --

The Speaker: Members, if you're choosing to leave the chamber or have a meeting, then I would appreciate if you do it now -- I'll give you a moment -- because I'm having great difficulty hearing the member speaking. Otherwise, if you could remain in your seats, I'd appreciate that too.

Mrs McLeod: As I was saying, I'd just expressed my concern yesterday about the fact that the report that had been given to this government by its own criminal intelligence service expressed concerns about the involvement of organized crime in gambling and how the introduction of video slot machines and the proliferation of video slot machines in this province would add to the involvement of organized crime, how the government had chosen to suppress that report, ignore that report, ignore the concerns that were being expressed by their own police department.

We now find at 3:30 this afternoon that the government has seen fit to make a very important announcement away from this House, an announcement in which they've indicated that they are going to commit $8 million to increase policing in order to deal with illegal gambling and I presume the involvement of organized crime in illegal gambling. I for one will welcome the fact that if the government is determined to go ahead with this they will add to the police resources. I don't think $8 million in four regions is going to be enough to deal with the problems that are going to exist. I wish they would release the report so we could all know the magnitude of the problems which we believe we are going to face if this government moves this legislation. But at least they are acknowledging that there are problems and that they are going to have to add significantly to our police resources to deal with them.

I have some difficulty now, maybe even greater difficulty today than I was having yesterday, if that's possible, with the government's argument that introducing legal slot machines is going to be enough to deal with the illegal slot machines, because I still don't know, even with increased police resources, exactly how the police are going to determine which is an illegal machine and which is a legal machine.

The member for Durham Centre yesterday talked about my own home town riding of Thunder Bay and the fact that there are illegal slot machines operating in my home community. The police chief has indeed told me that. He's also told me how impossible it is for the local police forces, who know of the existence of these illegal machines, to deal with them. They've literally got to be there to see a cash payout before they can know that this is an illegal slot machine. When we have legal slot machines giving the same cash payouts as the illegal slot machines, I can't begin to imagine how many additional police resources would actually be needed in order to determine what's legal and what's illegal, let alone begin to determine what the involvement of organized crime might be.

I don't think that the government really sees this as being the work of the police forces, because they are going to move to have the job of inspecting their new legalized slot machines, the ones that we expect to see on every street corner, in every bar, in every restaurant in every neighbourhood in the province -- they're going to regulate that under a new combined LCBO and gaming commission. I can't begin to imagine how the government expects this will work, because I look at the lack of ability of both provincial and federal governments to even make a dint in smuggling. They're working with the full resources of customs officials, with RCMP, with OPP. This is a problem that occurs along a clearly defined border. If you're ever going to be able to stop something, you should be able to stop something that blatant and that confined, and yet we have not been able to make a dint in it.


I can't begin to imagine how inspectors with the combined responsibilities of liquor regulation enforcement and gambling regulation enforcement are going to be able to make a dint in anything. I add the fact that in the survey we did over the weekend and announced yesterday, the people are not buying the government's line that making video slot machines legal is going to deal with the illegal problem. Two per cent of the people in Ontario have bought their line and clearly people know that this is going to be a problem that increases the incidence of organized crime in the province of Ontario.

But I also have very real concerns, as we all do, about the social problems that are going to be enhanced, increased, the social problems of gambling, because of the impact of video slot machines on gambling. Again, I believe this is an area where the government is ignoring all of the evidence that has been brought forward by not only expert witnesses but indeed by the experience of other jurisdictions. I'm only going to touch on a couple of these in the few moments I have left.

There was a conference in Winnipeg this fall where those who've had the most recent experience came together, a conference on gambling. It confirmed that the bulk of addiction gambling problems are clearly with video gambling. In the province of Manitoba, 84% of the persons who are being treated for compulsive gambling have difficulties with video slot machines. In Alberta, 65% of the people who have problems with compulsive gambling have a problem with VLTs. In Saskatchewan, that percentage is 75%. Don't try and tell us that video slot machines are not going to increase the social problems of compulsive gambling. As has been said over and over again by every expert witness who came to committee, these are indeed the crack cocaine of gambling. They provide an instant gratification at little cost and as they proliferate on every street corner there is going to be an absolutely irresistible temptation that is going to feed more and more compulsive gambling.

It is of particular concern for young people, and I hope the government and the government members have looked at the fact that there is a very striking correlation between age and the use of video slot machines. The Manitoba study pointed out that 25% of identified gamblers started under the age of 18. Another 30% of identified compulsive gamblers were between 18 and 24. When you know that compulsive gambling has its roots in teenagers, in adolescents, and you know that adolescents are the ones who become most quickly involved with and addicted to video slot machines, you know that the impact this will have on young people is going to make for very serious problems in their future lives.

The government has argued that we need to go ahead with this because it would be good for business. I think again here they are ignoring the experience of other jurisdictions, the fact that in Alberta when VLTs were introduced to bars in the hopes that it might stimulate new business, the patrons were still there, but they shifted their spending to the machines from the food and from the alcohol. So it didn't really help the hospitality business; it just shifted it.

The government says: "Don't worry about any of this. Don't worry that VLTs are being used primarily by young people, many of whom become addicted gamblers. We're not going to let kids use the slots." I don't know how they're going to stop it. I don't know how you're going to stop young people from using VLTs when we weren't able to stop young people from getting cigarettes from vending machines. I wonder how the bars are going to want to stop these young people from using the VLTs.

The government says: "Don't worry. We're going to limit this. We're only going to have 20,000 slot machines. The opposition is fearmongering again when they suggest that we are going to have slot machines in every bar, in every restaurant, on every corner of every neighbourhood in the province. Well, we believe that the government is not going to stick to its limit of 20,000. I mean, 20,000 machines sounds horrendous to begin with, as a minimum, but we don't believe that they're going to stay with that as a minimum.

We believe that the government is introducing video slot machines for one reason and one reason only, and that is because they do, indeed, want the big dollars. This is the way they are going to meet their tax cut promise, and it's the only way they think they're going to be able to meet their tax cut promise.

I don't believe that this government is going to find it easy, even if they wanted to limit the machines to 20,000. I think we've already seen how governments of past days can be faced with some very difficult problems, even if they're not engaged in blatant patronage, although certainly something as lucrative as the slot machine business would lead one to be very tempted to want to look for some very clear patronage. I'm natural resources minister from way back. I know we had trouble deciding who was going to get fishing licences. Many years ago, under previous Conservative governments, there were major issues around who got timber licences. Today, every one of us knows that who gets the lottery terminals in their store becomes a big issue in terms of the survival of that store. They will all want them, and it will be impossible for this government to limit it and it will be very tempting for this government to use it as a piece of blatant patronage.

If in fact this government was not looking for a big cash haul from video slot machines, if they don't intend to move to see video slot machines literally in every bar, every restaurant and every corner of every neighbourhood -- as we believe is their intent -- if the Premier really wants to back off from this, we've provided an alternative. We're prepared to take them at their word. I know there are members of the opposition party who want to believe the Premier when he says, "It is not our intention to have these proliferated, to increase the compulsive gambling, especially among young people." So it's easy. Let the Premier live up to what he says he intends to do. Let the government accept an amendment to this bill, an amendment which does nothing more than say very clearly that this government is not going to move VLTs into every restaurant, bar, tavern, in every neighbourhood in Ontario. It should be an easy amendment.

Mr Speaker, because I feel so profoundly that this vote should not be taken, because I believe this government wants to introduce closure, I will now move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: The leader of the official opposition has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1638 to 1708.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order. Would the members take their seats, please.

The Leader of the Opposition has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 25, the nays are 57.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

We will now continue with the debate on Bill 75. We'll move to questions and comments.

Mr Kormos: You know, at 3:30 -- and this is why it was necessary that the House be adjourned, because there was an important press conference being conducted by the Attorney General and Solicitor General, where they finally acknowledged the huge social cost that VLTs, slots, carry with them. Mr Crozier, Mr Ramsay, Ms Boyd and myself attended there and in fact we discovered -- here he is -- the Attorney General and the Sol Gen, flanked by OPP officers and Toronto police officers, with an acknowledgement that slot machines carry with them an incredible social and human and community cost, one which we have been telling the government about from day one of the introduction of this bill.

Finally, with knee-jerk, having been forced to acknowledge the difficulties, forced to acknowledge that somebody was lied to when the rationalization was given that it was necessary to introduce 20,000 electronic VLTs to combat the illegal slots -- that simply wasn't the case. We were told that was going to overcome, overwhelm, the illegal slots. The acknowledgement in the press conference today was that it's going to take specific resources to the police. That's what the OPP have been telling this government for months. That's what we in the opposition have been telling this government for months.

This government isn't interested in the social disease of gambling addiction. This government isn't interested in the attack that VLTs impose upon working families and upon the poor and upon their children and adolescents who are at high risk for this crack cocaine of gambling, for addiction to VLTs and slots. This government, quite frankly, doesn't even care about the entry that its highly organized legal VLTs are going to create for organized crime in this province. This is an open door to the mob in the province of Ontario. One can only conclude that they're friends of this government because this government is going so far to accommodate them.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): The most interesting thing about having sat on both sides of the House, for those of us who have had that privilege and that opportunity, and also for those of us who still have all our faculties, including our memories, is that we can remember some of the debate from previous legislation in this place. I certainly recall very well sitting on that side of the House and hearing all the arguments that were made by the previous government in favour of legalized gambling, absolutely in favour of legalized gambling.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, order.

Mrs Marland: Who was the government that brought in casinos? I ask not only who was the government, but who was the party that supported the government of that day in voting in favour of casinos? To stand in her place, as the leader of the official opposition did yesterday, and express concern about compulsive gambling, having voted in favour of introducing casinos into this province, I'm afraid is a little --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): All the bars in Mississauga South will have them.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines, come to order.

Mrs Marland: I don't want to be unparliamentary so I won't use the wrong word, but it's a little difficult for us to understand how you can stand in your place and vote in favour of casinos in this province when these machines in casinos are no different from the arguments you're giving expressing your concern about compulsive gambling. Frankly, if you had as much concern about compulsive gambling, you wouldn't have supported the previous government in favour of casinos.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I'm pleased for the opportunity to comment. I wish I had more time. I have to seize this opportunity, as I listened to my leader, who made passionate speeches about this awful legislation which you are ramming through without listening to the people or even the opposition. We know that the direction in which this government is going is wrong, but it doesn't matter to this government, which continues to be undemocratic in its approach, to be a bully in most of its legislation, ramming things through.

Mr Bradley: They won't accept our amendments.

Mr Curling: Yes. We put forward amendments. They said we must be constructive. We did so, and put forward an amendment. They ignored it. I want to know what approach they would like us to take. They are the ones who declared a revolution in this province. Maybe they declare war on the poor, they declare war in the sense of putting all these kinds of terrible machines in this place which are, as you know, the crack cocaine of gambling, where people are being addicted. It is the poor that they are exploiting, those who think that one of these days the opportunity will come with one stroke of the arm. But it will not be so.

They are looking to pay off a debt, they say, or to give a rebate, as I would say, to the rich. This is not the direction they should go.

First I think they should put their house in order, to be more democratic, listen to the people. We know it's a long time to wait to throw these people out. They have to be thrown out, but at the time, people will be patient. I remember a familiar face like yours, Brian Mulroney, who felt he was bigger than anyone else. He was thrown out so disgracefully, only two of the Tories were left. That will happen to them soon.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): It's quite obvious that yesterday the government was prepared to shut down the debate and ram this legislation through even though a large percentage of the population in this province do not want VLTs, the one-armed bandits, close to the schools, close to the churches, close to every community. I've received hundreds of letters from people within the riding, from Smooth Rock Falls a letter from Claude Theriault. Jacqueline Morvan from Kapuskasing made a presentation in Sudbury. She also wrote me a letter. She's concerned that --

The Acting Speaker: Would the members come to order, please. There's too much noise in the House. Come to order.

Mr Len Wood: She's concerned that health care and education are being destroyed in this province. All of the benefits in northern Ontario as far as roads -- winter maintenance, summer maintenance of the roads -- is all being taken out so that they can give a 30% tax break to the wealthiest people in this province. All of the legislation that is being brought in is designed to take money out of the communities, and we're not getting anything in return.

Why bring in 20,000 VLT machines? They say there are 20,000 illegal machines out there now, so we're going to legalize 20,000 machines and we're going to take millions of dollars out of the economy where charitable organizations depend on other means of raising money for their local minor hockey or for all different groups, and yet they don't want it. I've heard no support whatsoever for legalizing 20,000 one-armed bandits in this province, and that's what they are, really. You put the money into them and there's nothing that comes back in return other than you end up with a lot of people being addicted to the machines.

As for the argument that kids won't be able to use the machines, there's no guarantee that children are not going to be able to get close to these machines when they're put in close to the schools right across this province.

The Acting Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition, you may sum up.

Mrs McLeod: Let's be very clear about the bottom line in this. This is a bill about introducing video slot machines and about having those proliferate, no matter what the government says, in every bar, in every restaurant, on every street corner in every neighbourhood in this province. There is nothing whatsoever to limit that kind of proliferation.

This government wants to ram this legislation through. We saw yesterday how badly they want to do this, how badly they want this passed, and how badly they want to do it with as much secrecy as possible. They are not feeling good about this. This is a government that is getting very concerned about the negative public reaction they're getting, very concerned about the opposition from their own backbenchers.

We released a poll yesterday which showed clearly that 62% of Ontarians do not want video slot machines in the bars and restaurants of their neighbourhoods. We have already heard from 56 communities that don't want it. So this government had damage control to do. The Premier said, "Well, we're not really going to put them in every bar and restaurant." We said, "Then bring in an amendment. Show us that you mean you're not going to proliferate these slot machines," and they refused to even consider it.

Then today, wanting to do some damage control, wanting a positive spin on what has become a very bad news story for them, they pulled together a last-minute announcement of increasing police resources. At least, as hurried as that was, they have now acknowledged that there are major problems with illegal gambling and organized crime, and that has been our point all along. Those problems are going to be greater when this bill passes and $7 million won't help. But Mike Harris, who used to say, "I don't want government to have gambling revenues," has clearly changed his mind. He wants the gambling revenues. He wants the big dollars. He's prepared to ram this through. They are going to do this. They are going to change lives in every community in this province and someone else is going to have to clean up the mess.


The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Before we continue with the debate, I want the House to come to order. There is far too much noise and I can't hear anything, and that is on all sides of the House. Thank you. Further debate.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): With the failure of the Solicitor General and the Attorney General to make their announcement here in this House this afternoon, I'm going to inform those in the House who haven't heard about this announcement around the increase in funding and a mandate to police illegal gaming, because I think it's very significant and very important for us to know what has been announced this afternoon and what was said about it.

This House knows very well that the issues around illegal gaming were the excuse, the only excuse, used by this government, by the finance minister when he announced the VLT situation in the budget. He said that because there are 15,000 to 20,000 illegal gambling machines in this province the only way to get that under control -- the only way -- was to legalize this form of gambling.

Well, very, very interesting that on the very day after this government tried to force closure on this bill, which clearly does not have the support of the majority of people in this province, clearly, from all of the studies that have been done -- the very day after they tried to force closure, the Solicitor General and the Attorney General, flanked by the commissioner of the OPP, by the chief of the Toronto police, by numerous other officers from the OPP, by the head of the forensic science centre, make an announcement that they are giving $7 million in additional funds to a combined force of the OPP and other police forces, seconded from other police forces, to deal with illegal gaming.

They say they can deal with the 15,000 to 20,000 illegal machines by giving additional money to the police to enforce the gaming laws. This is what the police have been asking for all along. In every discussion that has been held about VLTs with the current government and with the past government, the police said very clearly, "It will cost a good deal of money for us to be able to police VLTs appropriately."

The finance minister gives as the excuse to expand VLTs -- and frankly, in this bill, gives the government permission to do that anywhere in the province, anywhere. This is a very permissive bill, as even the Premier admitted on television last night. It is totally permissive. It allows the government of the day to make the decision about where VLTs will be. And all we have is the word of the same Premier who said he would not expand gambling to any community in this province without a referendum.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Did he say that?

Mrs Boyd: He said that. Is that what he's done? Absolutely not. He would not accept the amendments that were proposed to this bill that would have bound the government to that promise. Those amendments very clearly said, one of them, that VLTs would not be allowed into any municipal jurisdiction that had said they did not want it through their elected representatives. Another amendment attempted to say, "If you're going to do it, there has to be a specific referendum." The government would not entertain any of those.

The police officers today were very clearly uncomfortable about the issues around legal versus illegal gambling, and no wonder. Officer Moodie, who was quoted several times in the newspaper, and was one of the four officers with the OPP dealing with illegal gaming, has been quoted as saying: "Illegal gaming is not going to be resolved by legalizing gaming. That is not the answer." And we know that was the report that came forward from the intelligence service. It doesn't have anything to do with legalizing gambling. So when he was asked -- well, you said the reason you had to have these policing dollars, $7 million in additional dollars to police illegal gambling, was because of the social cost of VLTs and gambling with VLTs -- an admission from the police of all the things that have been said by all the social activist groups, certainly by members of the opposition and the third party in this House, and many, many of those who came in front of the committee as it travelled around this province.

But when Mr Kormos said to him, "Well, what about the social problems caused by legal VLTs?" he obviously was flummoxed and said it wasn't his job to comment on that. His job was to deal with illegalities, as it is. I'm not blaming the police officer, his job is to deal with things that are against the Criminal Code. The reality is that the problem is the same. The problem is the same with VLTs whether they are legal or illegal. They are highly addictive. Every criminal intelligence service says that VLTs first of all increase the addiction to gambling, which then makes people desperate so it increases crime in many other areas as people try to feed this addiction.

Then we see a situation where legal VLTs have been shown to be a problem for laundering money for organized crime. So we've got two problems. We not only have organized crime dealing with those who have illegal machines, being the dealers, the proprietors, the collectors on illegal machines, we have organized crime being involved with the laundering of money through legal VLTs. A very serious problem and one that the government refuses to admit.

When we look at the situation in this province and we look at the growing reliance over years of governments on the income from gambling, those who are opposed have good reason to be concerned. We were concerned. When we looked at this issue, believe me, this was one of the major things that we looked at, and we looked at what the police said. We gave additional money to Windsor to deal with the policing in that town. We knew that policing was a problem.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): You didn't give any money for addiction treatment of people.

Mrs Boyd: Yes, we did give additional money for addiction treatment as well; not as much as was wanted. But one of the reasons we decided not to go with VLTs was the very clear representation that we got from the addiction services around how much more addictive VLTs were.

The government tries to say we can't say anything about this because we put in one casino so we have no right to talk about VLTs. That's absolute nonsense. We read all the cabinet submissions. We know what that minister knows about the legal problems, the illegal problems, the addiction problems. We said no, and we said no because the police could not guarantee us that machines could be controlled properly, that they could be identified properly. They could not assure us that there was any way to keep young people out. In fact, they gave us example after example of the impossibility of ensuring this, and we were particularly concerned about the whole issue of money laundering through legalized VLTs. That is not new material. That is something we knew and so we said no.

Did we need the revenue? You bet we needed the revenue. We needed the revenue as much as you do. It infuriates us when the finance minister and the Premier try to say we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and then we see you grovelling around, going after these machines that are going to cause untold pain and difficulty for the people of Ontario. What we want you to know is that this nonsense today about putting more money into policing is very nice, but if you had done it in the first place you wouldn't have had the excuse for legalizing these machines.

We say very, very clearly to you that we have every right to be indignant about this decision you're making, every right to see the will of the people expressed in this place very clearly, and every right to try and make you understand that with a couple of changes this would be much more acceptable to people. If people could be sure that this wasn't going to be down the street from their house, across the street from their child's school, that this was going to be very clearly controlled, the way the Premier says in scrums that it will be, that would be one thing, but you have the opportunity of assuring the people of Ontario that this will happen and you're not prepared to do it.

We know this decision around the dollars was made the day after the CISO report was leaked to the press. We know this is yet another attempt of this government to try and put a smokescreen over the dismay of the people of Ontario, to try and say, "Oh, we've met your needs and here we are." If this government had said early in its mandate, in July 1995, when heaven knows it did a great deal of other damage to the province, that it was going to go after illegal gaming machines and cleared up that problem, it would have much more resonance with the people now.

Madam Speaker, as you can tell, I'm having great difficulty speaking and I have quite a bit of time left, so I move adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker: The member for London Centre has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1733 to 1803.

The Speaker: Order. The member for London Centre has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please stand and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House: The ayes are 19 and the nays are 57.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

It now being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1804.