36th Parliament, 1st Session

L128 - Tue 26 Nov 1996 / Mar 26 Nov 1996























































The House met at 1333.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): This evening, the Lieutenant Governor will be presenting the government of Ontario's Senior Achievement Awards. It is my privilege to rise and pay tribute to one of the recipients, Mrs Uliana Badiali, a resident of my riding of Yorkview. I was indeed honoured to nominate Mrs Badiali for the esteemed award. Her vital contribution to our local community has spanned a lifetime of dedication and sacrifice for others.

Uliana Badiali is a very special and exceptional senior citizen. Through her good deeds, she has continuously exemplified for new immigrants to our province what it means to become part of a caring community. It is significant that in spite of her own personal hardships and difficulties, she always found the energy and tenacity to extend a helping hand to others.

Among the countless beneficiaries of Mrs Badiali's earnest kindness and benevolence are the unemployed, the destitute, the homeless, the hungry, the disabled, the illiterate and the sick, and the list goes on and on.

Being Uliana Badiali means having the perseverance and the spirit to take on any challenge, no matter how insurmountable, on behalf of the less fortunate and those unable to fend for themselves. Being Uliana Badiali means having the compassion to be a good Samaritan to those who have little hope. Being Uliana Badiali unquestionably symbolizes what it means to be a volunteer in Ontario.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): People throughout the province are realizing more and more what this government's cuts to education are doing to our school system. On Saturday I had the opportunity to attend part of a conference in Brampton set up by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Canadian Auto Workers. The 125 or so parents, students and teachers who were there understood and understand that when this government alleges that we are overspending here in Ontario relative to other provinces, those numbers are greatly exaggerated. They understand that what is driving the actions of this Minister of Education and Training is just cuts to education, an attempt to privatize the system piece by piece and an attempt to disembowel the very existence of our school system.

Tomorrow in my riding and throughout the province I know that we will have parents come to constituency offices of members of this Legislature to again make the point that they, as parents, are seeing what these cuts are doing, that they see the inconsistency of the Premier of the province praising our school system abroad at the same time as the Minister of Education and Training is tearing it apart here at home, that in fact he has created the crisis that he wanted to create and is now implementing that crisis by tearing away the very fabric of our school system. They understand the agenda, they oppose that agenda, and this government will rue the day that it began on this agenda to devastate our school system.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): On Tuesday, November 12, I attended the sixth annual Napanee Business Improvement Association banquet and awards dinner. I rise today to make my fellow members aware of the contribution the BIA has made to the community of Napanee and surrounding area by encouraging local shopping.

Like other BIAs across the province, the Napanee BIA was founded 15 years ago to finance improvements to the downtown streets of Napanee. At that time a debenture was issued to pay for the street improvements. Although the debenture was recently retired by funds raised through taxes on businesses, the BIA continues to support and promote downtown business interests.

At the banquet, awards were given to three businesspersons in recognition of their contribution to the local business community: Byron Perry of Perry's Shell station, Pam Oliver of Napanee Florists, and Mark Daines of the Richelieu and Paisley hotels. All are to be congratulated for their efforts in improving the business area for Napanee.

Apart from being an awards banquet, the evening raised money for this year's Salvation Army Christmas collection. I'm happy to announce that over $2,600 was raised through generous contributions by local merchants.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have here over 150 letters addressed to the Minister of Education and Training from the students of Stephen Leacock high school. I'm sure that by now the Minister of Education and Training has received thousands of letters from concerned parents, teachers and students.

These letters by students express a level of cynicism and anger that is alarming. I would suggest that the minister carefully read these letters. There is something underlined in almost every letter in this particular bundle. That tells you the degree of anger from these students. Let me read a part of what Khai Woo's letter says. She's a grade 12 student.

"I feel strongly against your education reform plan. I feel that your reform plan will devastate the great education system in Ontario. Regarding the Metro property tax money taken out of Metro, haven't you taken enough? Have we not suffered enough? I, along with my other classmates, have felt the cuts. My school is bad enough as it is with the cuts, and we can't take much more of this. What is to become of education in Ontario? The children are our future. We should teach them well and lead the way. Right now, the future looks fairly bleak. I feel that I'm saying this not just for myself but for all the other students in Ontario as well."

To paraphrase another student who wrote to you, when you are zealously cutting costs in your effort to find money for the tax cut, remember: Education is an investment, not a cost.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I'd like to direct my statement today to the Minister of Education and Training. Last Saturday the Ministry of Education and Training published an ad in newspapers across the province stating, "The government of Ontario is committed to improving the quality of education for every student in this province." Who do you think you're fooling? With a $1-billion cut to education funding and an additional $600 million to come, how can you pretend to be committed to the quality of education?

One of the negative results of the cuts that have already been made is that a large number of public school boards have discontinued their junior kindergarten programs.

Another way in which school boards have had to deal with the cuts is by cancelling adult education day school programs. Adults can no longer return to complete their high school education or upgrade, which is actually another odd move for this government since adult education is one of the most effective tools for getting people off welfare.

Yesterday I was presented with letters from students at La Cité de Jeunes in Kapuskasing who are very concerned about the proposed elimination of physical and health education in high schools. These students did a lot of research on the issue and on the negative impact that the elimination of these programs would have on all teenagers. I most certainly hope you will read their letters very carefully and take into consideration their position when you make your decision. These students did their homework and it's time for you to do yours.

I'd just like to read off some of the comments. "We, the students of Cité des Jeunes Secondary School in Kapuskasing, are concerned about the cuts that you, the Minister of Education, John Snobelen, are planning to make to this system and -- "

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I would like to take this opportunity to tell my honourable colleagues about Anita Larkin, a grade 8 student at St Theresa school in the town of Whitby in the fine riding of Durham Centre.

This dedicated young person has won the first annual Patricia A. Curran Award as school safety patroller of the year, an award given out by the Canadian Automobile Association of central Ontario. The award is named in honour of Patricia Curran, who retired last year as CAA's central Ontario manager of public relations after 33 years of service to the auto club. One of her primary interests has always been children's safety.

In addition to a trophy, which will be displayed at the recipient's home until next year, Anita receives a personal plaque and a cheque for $500.

The teacher who nominated Anita called her an "invaluable, dedicated, conscientious and reliable bus patroller." Along with her regular duties, Anita is responsible for picking up the kindergarten students at their room at day's end, she brings them to the bus and ensures they board safely.

I know my colleagues in the House today will join me in congratulating Anita Larkin on a job well done as school safety patroller of the year.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Every day the revolutionary Harris government embarks upon a new course of action designed to destroy and dismantle services for the people of Ontario in general and the people of Niagara region in particular. With the announcement that the government will eliminate 600 inspectors in the Ministry of Transportation, jobs will be lost, possibly some of them in St Catharines, and an independent service will disappear.

Highway construction firms will be the only winners. The government is asking them to set their own standards and inspect their own work. If they're a little lax and the highway falls apart in five years instead of 10, then it's more repair work for the company.

For citizens who depend on the highway to get around, it's bad news on all fronts. There's a real incentive for constructors and contractors to cut corners, producing more profits now and more work in the future. It's going to cost a lot more money in the long run.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Injured workers and employees of various industries and businesses now fear the Ontario government will eliminate the office of the worker adviser in Thorold. The office has been extremely helpful to injured workers, some of whom have difficulty with the English language and many of whom require assistance to deal with complicated cases and complicated legislation regulations.

The efficiency of the process has been enhanced as well by the intervention of competent, concerned employees in various worker adviser offices. I call upon the government to keep the office open in Thorold and to enhance its service.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Could I ask the government members particularly to come to order. It's very difficult to hear the statements as they are. I'm not looking at anyone in particular; I'm just looking at the mass. Thank you.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to raise with the members of the assembly concerns that have been expressed in a letter to me by Kimberlee Starzynski from the Echo Bay area in my constituency about the family support plan. Ms Starzynski says that the plan was intended in part to enforce court orders against deadbeat dads. She asks, "Who is going to enforce the same orders against the deadbeat government?"

She points out that she has not received her support cheque, although the moneys have been directed from her ex-husband's employer. Her payment is due on the 1st of every month. Apparently the government can pay whenever it gets around to it.

Ms Starzynski's creditors expect payment of their accounts immediately. She wants to know who is going to pay the interest that she is charged on her accounts when she can't make the payments promptly due to the government's lack of efficiency.

The money she's receiving is not petty cash. She needs the money for the survival of herself and her children. She wants to know where the money goes when it leaves her ex-husband's place of employment, how much money is being earned by the government on interest collected from funds paid by support payors which have not been paid to the receivers, how much interest is being paid to the government. She'd like to know when she will be reimbursed for this interest and when her bad credit rating will be put right by this government.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): Osteoporosis is a major public health problem. Osteoporosis affects 1.4 million Canadians over the age of 50, one in four women and one in eight men. Another two million Canadians are at risk of developing the disease. The risk of developing osteoporosis increases with age and is higher in women than in men and in whites than in blacks. It is caused by bone loss. Either a person has developed thinner, weaker bones during youth or he or she has lost a lot of bone in later life. It is estimated that the national cost of treating fractures exceeds $600 million per year. These costs are expected to increase dramatically as the baby-boomer population ages.

There is no cure for osteoporosis; however, in most cases it can be treated. Prevention is the most effective way of halting the disease. Strategies include ensuring oestrogen replacement, adequate nutrition including calcium intake and programs of modest weight-bearing exercise. There is a great deal of additional research on understanding the biology of human bone, defining individuals at special risk and developing safe, effective, low-cost strategies for fracture prevention.

I was happy last year to participate with the other women in all caucuses in the osteoporosis bus when it visited the Legislature and a number of my colleagues and I were tested.



Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): Mr Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand before you today to recognize 19 outstanding Ontarians, 19 Ontarians who exemplify the qualities of generosity, goodwill and community spirit, 19 Ontarians who bring to this province abundant energy, varied experiences, and whose roots span the entire globe, 19 Ontarians who have selflessly shared their wisdom and talents for the betterment of their communities.

I'm speaking about the 19 individuals who will be recognized this evening at the Ontario Senior Achievement Awards. Since the first awards in 1986, more than 200 seniors have been honoured for their contribution to the areas of community service, education, science, the arts, recreation, preservation of history, volunteerism and humanitarian activities. Each of these people is a gift to all of us and each dispels any myth that suggests that seniors are too old or too frail to contribute to their society.

It's a pleasure to announce this year's recipients: Ali Mire Awale and Charles Cheng of North York; Margaret Cahoon of Belleville; Janet Churchill of Elliot Lake; Margaret Harche of Sudbury; Uliani Badiali, Natalie Komarnycky, Mohinder Singh and Winnie Sung of Toronto; Lillian Kehl of Kitchener; Dolores Cavallero and Dr Arthur Gosselin of Ottawa; Jacob Kutz of St Catharines; Ronald Peters of Inverary; Ruth Redmond of Niagara Falls; Willis Rounding of Deep River; Angelique vander Duim of Oshawa; Irene Wilkins of Petrolia; and Frances Eva Maracle of Tyendinaga Territory.

Mrs Maracle, by the way, is 100 years old and still an active church volunteer, a chorus member and a gifted potter on the Tyendinaga reserve near Picton, Ontario.

When you see this kind of energy and this kind of commitment from people of any generation, let alone someone whose values were grounded in the days of premiers Oliver Mowat and James Whitney, you cannot help but be inspired.

As one of the nominators said about certain of these recipients, "If you put a dozen people of this calibre in a room together, the world's problems would be solved by the end of the day," and I don't doubt this for a moment.

Mr Speaker, I invite you and all of my colleagues in the House to join the Honourable Henry Jackman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and myself in a ceremony this evening to recognize these special Ontarians. They are indeed an extraordinary group of Ontario citizens and we are very proud of them all.



Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Later this afternoon I will introduce a new Workers' Compensation Act, the first time a new act has been introduced since 1914.

The new act provides a balanced approach to reform by preserving fair and secure benefits for injured workers while at the same time restoring the financial viability of the Workers' Compensation Board. Our reforms achieve the government's goal of a fully funded system that is sensitive to the needs of injured workers and sustainable by the employers who fund the system and provide the jobs.

We inherited a workers' compensation system with many problems. Its unfunded liability at $10.7 billion is three times greater than the unfunded liabilities of all the other provincial WCBs combined.

We have a system where we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs to return injured workers to work with absolutely little or nothing to show for it. We have a system that has become so bureaucratic and time-consuming that it fails to meet the needs of either the employee or the employer. At the same time, the system has never adequately focused on preventing workplace injury and illness, nor on doing the job it should to get people get back to their jobs in a safe and timely manner.

This bill is the last in a series of steps that we are taking to address this serious situation. Our legislation today is based on five principles:

First, our reforms will restore the financial viability of the workers' compensation system by adopting a series of balanced measures that will retire the unfunded liability of $10.7 billion by the year 2014. In keeping with trends in other provinces, such as Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, benefit levels will be reduced from 90% to 85% of net average pre-injury earnings. To ensure that the system remains fair and compassionate, workers who are 100% disabled and the survivors of deceased workers will retain full inflation protection. Continuing the approach adopted by the NDP government, the formula to calculate inflation protection for other workers is being modified. As well, to ensure that all employers in this province pay their fair share, we are strengthening and including provisions within the act to enable the board to collect outstanding workers' compensation debts from employers.

Second, the reforms are going to refocus the system as an insurance plan for workplace illness and injury that pays benefits for injuries and illness caused by work. The network of agencies serving the workplace parties will be restructured in order that we have a more coordinated system. This will include the integration of the Occupational Disease Panel into the board to more effectively focus our efforts to do more in the way of research.

Third, and this personally is going to be the top priority for the board, this bill for the first time entrenches the goal of prevention of workplace illness and injury in the workers' compensation system, which was never there before.

Fourth, the bill will improve return to work in a safe and timely manner by requiring the workers, the employers and the board to cooperate.

Fifth, the changes will enhance self-reliance by obliging workers and employers to cooperate in preventing injuries and in managing the consequences of the injuries when they do happen.

To reinforce the new emphasis on prevention and on return to work, and to affirm the return of the board to its original role as an insurance provider, the name of the board will be changed to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Our new Workers' Compensation Act will promote economic growth and job creation in Ontario by reducing the human, the social and the economic cost of workplace injury and illness. Our goal simply is to turn the Workers' Compensation Board into a leading-edge institution in the delivery of workplace insurance, and we want to make sure that Ontario workplaces are among the safest in the world.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): We welcome the opportunity to begin the discussion of changes to workers' compensation, as our party welcomes the opportunity to make the board function more efficiently and effectively for injured workers. Anybody who would advocate the status quo I don't believe understands or appreciates the difficulties injured workers have in dealing with the board.

But what's troubling about the minister's statement and the minister's legislation is that this has nothing to do with meaningful reform of the board and everything to do with cutting benefits to injured workers and the most vulnerable people in this province.

This legislation will not improve the lives of injured workers; it will set them back. It will set their purchasing power back 60% in three years' time. It will make it harder for them to support their families, to pay their mortgages.

We're not surprised the minister had to change the name of the WCB because WCB couldn't possibly stand for Workers' Compensation Board; it stands for Witmer cuts benefits. That's what this is all about. It's about giving money back to employers at the expense of injured workers. It's about $6 billion from those poor and vulnerable people in this province going to a number of employers who don't even have good health and safety records. It's not about helping people; it's about setting this province back. It's not about meaningful reform; it's about hurting the most vulnerable.

We welcome the opportunity to debate WCB reform and we will put forward a number of amendments to this bill which will make it serve injured workers better, which will make it more equitable, which will make it financed and funded in a better way.

We can't be surprised by this initiative. We've known for some time that the government's intention was to take money from injured workers and put it back into employers' pockets. We're not surprised because this government has taken money from the poorest welfare recipients to give back to the wealthiest in the form of a tax cut. This government has cut funding to hospitals, to our seniors, who need that the most. This government has cut funding to education. This government does not have at its heart the interests of average Ontarians; it has at its heart a mean-spirited agenda that hurts the poorest and most vulnerable and helps those who need it the least.

So we will challenge the government on its assumptions, on its misstatements. We will fight to ensure that the billions of dollars you're taking out of injured workers' pockets get put back into their pockets so that their standard of living is not decreased over the coming few years. This is not about reform of the board; this is about who pays. This is about reallocating. This is not about fairness or equity. This isn't about balance. This is about an agenda that's driven by an ideology that's not working and this is about a government whose agenda is designed to attack the poor and the vulnerable, the weakest in our society, without any kind of meaningful or substantial progress to the future.

We look forward to debating this issue. We look forward to standing up with injured workers. We look forward to fighting this agenda and we look forward to you meeting your fate in the next election, because you will. You can't keep doing this to people. You've got to start standing up for people.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I am delighted to join the minister, my colleagues here and all my colleagues, as a matter of fact, to give recognition to our seniors who are receiving the award this evening.

I believe every citizen in Ontario should be entitled to receive and be recognized such as the 19 members. If the minister is willing to recognize the achievements that the seniors are making, the contribution that our seniors are making to our province, to the rest of our people, then I think the government should pay more attention to what they are doing to our seniors. Let me say that the seniors may forgive, but ultimately they may not forget. They will remember the hardships that the government is imposing upon the seniors.

These are the things we should also keep in mind when we recognize a group of seniors as to their lifelong experience, the time they dedicate unselfishly to other seniors and the rest of our community. That's not the only time that we should be recognizing the seniors. They should be recognized throughout the year, every day, every time, and should not continue to have hardships imposed on them such as the $40 that now they will have to pay whenever they have to stay longer in a hospital bed. So while I do congratulate --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Responses, third party.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): First of all, to respond to the junior minister who had comments about seniors, let me say that our caucus shares in congratulating and acknowledging those seniors who are being awarded the designations that the minister talked about today.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): But moving to the issue of the WCB, I am certain the very seniors that the minister talked about today would not in any way support or condone this government's attack on injured workers the way they have today, and a lot of those injured workers are seniors, Minister. While I'm on my feet talking about you, let's not forget that you, Minister Jackson, you've got your fingerprints all over this thing too and you've got to wear this as much as Minister Witmer and everybody else in that cabinet. And wear it you will, because as far as the workers of this province are concerned, November 26, 1996, is a day that will go down in infamy. It's the day this government chose to knowingly launch their legislative attack on injured workers in Ontario. I can't think of anything more despicable than an attack of that sort on the most vulnerable in our province.

First of all, I want to get the message out to thank very directly all the health and safety and WCB activists who have been working hard educating workers, and I'm talking very directly to you. I want to thank you for the work you've done, because we've now got a commitment from this government that there will be province-wide public hearings. That was the first goal, to make sure they couldn't run and hide. You've done that and now we've got a chance to throw some light on what this government is going to do to workers and we can get the message out that this is nothing but an attack on injured workers so that you, Minister, can give your friends a $6-billion gift.

This government, I'm sure, will spend a lot of time trying to compare what they're doing to the changes we made when we were the government in the last Parliament of this province. Let me say very directly that first of all, we did not give any money back to employers. There were no gifts like you're doing, taking $15 billion out of the pockets of injured workers and giving $6 billion back to employers -- nothing but legislated theft from the most vulnerable workers in our province, those being the injured workers of this province. That's what you're doing.

When we passed our legislation, we helped out 45,000 of the most vulnerable injured workers. We gave them a $200-a-month increase in their money and we made sure it was 100% inflation protected. We did things that helped people who are on workers' compensation, unlike you, who have done absolutely nothing that helps injured workers. You're reducing what they're going to get from 90% to 85%, eliminating the chronic claim which will be limited to the usual healing time, whatever the hell that means. It's another way to restrict the amount of money and benefits workers can get. You're going to eliminate chronic mental stress. All these things are meant to pay for your free gift to your friends.

Let's remember, this is in the context of a government that's already got a litany of things they've done to attack workers. What are they? You killed the royal commission into the WCB. Then you eliminated the right of workers to have a 50% say in how the WCB is operated. That's already done and gone. You've gutted training to health and safety in the province. You've killed the Workplace Health and Safety Agency. You've cut money and they've had to lay off workers at the Workers' Health and Safety Centre. You're cutting money and gutting the office of the worker adviser.

You brought in Bill 7, which made scabs legal again. You took away the successor rights to public sector workers, which caused strikes and blood on the streets. That's what you've done. Then you took away rights until Bill 49, the Employment Standards Act.

Yet, Minister, you have the audacity to stand in your place day after day and say that you're trying to bring fairness and balance to the workplace. All you're doing is taking away workers' rights and you seem to think you're going to be able to do this and they're going to lie down and take it. Well, let me tell you something, Minister, you've got one hell of a shock coming when we get out in the public and we start talking about this WCB. You watch what workers are going to say to you when you attack the most vulnerable injured workers in the province. You are not going to do that without a fight, and the fight starts today.


The Speaker: Order.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday I read into the record a number of strikes where scabs are being used across the province. These are all part of the public record. The Ministry of Labour has a record of these strikes. The Minister of Labour got up and accused me of deliberately distorting the facts. You later ruled that out of order, Speaker. I believe the Minister of Labour should withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I appreciate what you're saying, to the leader of the third party. I ruled it out of order because clearly I didn't at the time. Having reflected upon it, it was a mistake; I should have ruled it out of order and I apologize to the Legislature for it.

Having said that, I understand the minister in fact said that yesterday. There were a number of people who said it afterwards. I can ask only that from now, this point, in future it not be used. With all due respect, all I can offer the members is, upon reflection, I apologize for not ruling it out of order yesterday.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Minister of Labour, get up and withdraw.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North.

Mr Len Wood: Well, she won't withdraw. She can get up on her feet and withdraw.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, there's no one at fault but me. Again, I apologize for not ruling it out of order. On reflection, I should have. It was used a number of times and I can only offer my apologies. It was my fault.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, in a question to the Ministry of the Attorney General, I accused the Attorney General of deliberately distorting the facts. I would like at this point to withdraw that as it is out of order, and a class Minister of Labour would do the same thing.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, thank you.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Once again this government has decided to attack the most vulnerable people in our society. After cutting the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, today you're declaring war on injured workers.

To the Minister of Labour, I want to ask you, do you really believe that this type of cuts to benefits coupled with a cut to assessments is in the interests of injured workers? Do you really believe that it's fair and balanced? Do you really think that the changes you're making today will make their lives any better? It's our view that not only are you not improving the board but you're setting back the board, or the new agency. Minister, could you outline for me today what other steps you're prepared to take to help injured workers and not hurt them.


Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): To the member opposite, I appreciate that you haven't had the opportunity to take a look at the new legislation. As I indicated to you, we have introduced today a bill which is totally different from the 1914 version. You will see a bill that now has as its focus, at the front of the legislation, a totally new emphasis and priority on the prevention of injury and illness.

That's how this legislation is different. Up until now we have simply allowed injury and illness to occur in this province. I indicate to you that I'm not happy with the number of fatalities; I'm not happy with the number of critical injuries that are reported to the Ministry of Labour. We have been working diligently, since we were elected, to improve the health and safety record. We are trying to coordinate activities. The key difference is that the focus has been shifted to prevention, followed by return to work.

Mr Duncan: Minister, I had a chance to review the bill. I reviewed the Jackson report. I reviewed the cabinet submission. The simple fact remains that you're doing nothing about prevention, you're doing nothing to improve the lot of injured workers. In fact, you cut 25% from the health and safety division of your ministry. You're suggesting today the largest cut to injured workers we've seen since the NDP cut their inflation protection some three years ago. This is the largest one since the NDP attacked injured workers three years ago.

Minister, the estimated cost, according to your own figures, of the cut in WCB assessments is $6 billion. You are taking money out of the pockets of injured workers and the most vulnerable people to make up that cut. How can you justify to those injured workers, particularly unorganized workers, pensioners, the people who are going to be affected the most, that you can give a $6-billion cut on the one hand and take $6 billion from them in the interest of dealing with the unfunded liability? Don't you see the contradiction?

Hon Mrs Witmer: To the member opposite, I know you haven't had a chance to read the bill, because there simply has not been time. I would just bring you back to the point I made: We want to prevent people from being injured in the first place. We want to ensure that we improve the quality of life for people in this province, so our focus is going to be on prevention. That's why we've integrated the activities of the agency into the board. That's why we're going to overhaul the board and we're going to put a senior executive in charge of prevention. We've never done that before.

If you're satisfied to continue to see the high numbers for fatalities and injuries, I'm not. I repeat again that our focus is on prevention. Our focus is on preserving the benefits for the injured workers; we have not lowered them to the extent they have in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick. You know that the changes have been fair.

Mr Duncan: With all due respect, you've done nothing to prevent injury or illness in the workplace except cut the very tools you need to prevent them. You've done nothing, effectively, to address that issue. The only thing you've done effectively is cut benefits. You've cut benefits to the most vulnerable. You've cut benefits to pensioners. You've cut their ability to improve their standard of living. You've cut their ability to maintain their standard of living. How can you justify this when you're giving away $6 billion in assessments, some of which will go to employers who have absolutely horrible health and safety records? How can you justify it when you've cut, cut, cut health and safety protection for injured workers in this province? How can you justify it, Minister?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Let's move to the second area where we are focusing our energies: on improving the return to work. Up until now governments have spent millions of dollars -- last year we spent about half a billion dollars -- to get injured workers back to work, with little or no success to show for it.

For the first time we have rewritten the act so that there be obligations on the worker and the board and the health care professionals and the employer to work cooperatively together, keep together, communicate and make sure we identify the functional ability of injured workers and bring them to the point where we can quickly get them back into the workplace.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): My question is to the Minister of Health. You've slashed hospital budgets by 18%. You've made an unprecedented power grab under Bill 26. You're the one who gave us the infamous Tory bulldozer now working its way across the province, plowing under hospital after hospital. You're going to be remembered as the person who began to destroy health care in this province. Time and again you have denied that your cuts, your reckless bully tactics are not affecting patient care in this province. Do you still stand by that position?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The only one that's cut health care in this province is the federal Liberal government in terms of dollars. We are asking hospitals to find efficiencies. Where we hear of problems we're not allowing gaps to occur in services. We've told all hospitals, and they're working very well, to ensure that all the dollars they find in efficiencies are reinvested into front-line services so that we have a fully integrated and better health care system when the restructuring is completed.

Mr Duncan: I was curious that the minister said there were no gaps in service, because day after day in this House we have raised example after example of Ontarians who are suffering as a result of your cuts and your government's cuts to health care, your big gaps. Still the minister denies the impact his cuts are having.

Today I want to talk about a gentleman named Allan Rawlyk in Thunder Bay. He's a haemodialysis patient whose access to dialysis is in an artificial vein in his arm. He has been suffering from complications after leakage began. Yesterday, on the advice of his specialist, he flew to Toronto to see a vascular surgeon. The surgeon determined that surgery was required.

After coming all the way from Thunder Bay to Toronto General he was told they couldn't do the surgery as they'd already reached their November quota for dialysis treatment, which would be needed as a backup if something went wrong. He was told to return next week when the hospital had a new budgetary allotment. Minister, is this acceptable to you or is this another gap in service?

Hon Mr Wilson: The people in the province know that across the country and North America we have fixed budgets. It's up to hospitals to prioritize the needs of the patients who present themselves or are referred to those hospitals.

As you know, we only fund a certain number of lung operations at a particular hospital per year. As that budget is used up they can reprioritize their money or try and make arrangements with other hospitals. I'm explaining that we have to work with hospitals to set priorities within the budgets. I'd be happy to look into the case. The system has not changed one iota in that respect. In fact, health care budgets are up significantly in many parts of the province.

Once you provide us with all the information we will work with that particular hospital, or there may be a capacity at other institutions to look after the gentleman in question.


Mr Duncan: Not only is there a gap in service, there's a chasm. There's a chasm between gaps in service and your credibility. We keep saying example after example after example of people in this province who are suffering as a result of your cuts. Your reinvestments haven't come close to what you said you'd reinvest. This gentleman flew all the way from Thunder Bay. His surgeon was willing to do the operation. The only reason he returned without receiving care is because you have forced hospitals to ration that care. Every day he goes without care, he risks infection and further complications.

Minister, what do you say to this gentleman, who's watching television tonight, and how do you explain your comment that there are no gaps in service to somebody who's waiting in fear, looking for surgery, looking for help, when you're preventing him from getting it?

Hon Mr Wilson: Surgeries and the priority of surgeries have been determined by physicians on a clinical basis. I don't understand this case, because we've pumped $25 million this year, new dollars, into dialysis services. Dialysis, cardiac and mental health services and a few others are protected budgets. Hospitals, by law, cannot cut those budgets, so yes, I don't understand this --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Essex South, please come to order; Windsor-Sandwich; the leader of the official opposition. I'm calling the Leader of the Opposition to order.


The Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, please come to order; the member for Oriole as well.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, if the honourable member provides the details we'd be happy to look into it. Dialysis is a protected budget. We've added $25 million this year to that budget; we're spending more money than at any other point in history on dialysis services in this province. I would be very interested to help all I can with this particular case, because there should be no reason that this gentleman can't get surgery in this province.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Labour, who today is putting the knife to the workers' compensation system: The government is taking $15 billion from injured workers, you're killing the Occupational Disease Panel, you're undermining the confidentiality of medical records, and you're going to give $6 billion to your wealthy friends. But what's incredible is that this Conservative government tries to package this ugly attack on injured workers as somehow improving accident prevention, as somehow improving the return to work, as somehow being good for workers.

Part of this bill is a 50% cut to the retirement pensions of retired injured workers, some of the poorest people in our society. Can the Minister of Labour tell us why the Conservative government is cutting the retirement pensions of injured workers by 50% while you give $6 billion to your wealthy corporate friends?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I would simply indicate to the leader of the third party that I believe the legislation before us is going to improve the quality of life for people in this province. I would also indicate to you that the changes being made to the pension fund will still enable the injured worker to make his or her 5% contribution.

Mr Hampton: So the government takes 50% away from retired injured workers, gives it to their corporate friends, and then says to the retired injured worker, "You replace what we gave to our corporate friends." What a deal.

There are some other issues that need to be addressed. Under the Workers' Compensation Act, the spouse and children of a worker who is killed by a workplace accident or occupational disease have a right to compensation, but you're going to cut that compensation for their surviving children and spouse. Perhaps you're hoping that by cutting the surviving children and the surviving spouse, somehow this will be an incentive in the workplace.

It's bad enough that the Conservative government is lowering the standard of living of all working people in this province by encouraging scabs. It's bad enough that you're driving down the standard of living of injured workers with these mean-spirited cuts. But will you at least consider sparing the children and the surviving spouses?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you well know, the inflation protection will still be there at 100% for the disabled and also for the survivors.

Mr Hampton: This gets more incredible. You cut the surviving spouse and you cut the children and then you say: "But after we've cut you there'll still be some inflation protection. Don't worry, we'll cut you, but somehow you'll be protected from inflation." It's not inflation that people are worried about. Inflation runs at less than 2%. It's the more than 5% that you're going to take.

Just one further question. The government says this has to be done because they say compensation rates are too high in Ontario, that compensation runs higher than in the United States. Well, we checked with some of your corporate friends. We looked at KPMG Peat Marwick, and they show that in fact Ontario's compensation rates are lower than a lot of the states in the United States.

Minister, why don't you just come clean on this? Why don't you just come out and admit that you're going to take from retired injured workers, you're going to cut their pensions, you're going to take from the surviving spouses and the surviving children of workers who die in the workplace to give money to your wealthy corporate friends?

Hon Mrs Witmer: If we want to be honest, we need to recognize that the KPMG study, which was done in 1994, was done for the federal government in order that they could sell Canada to the investment community. As a result, it very selectively surveyed --


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

Hon Mrs Witmer: The information contained in that study very selectively surveys certain sectors and applies, so it is not totally representative of the true facts and does not cover all of industry in the province of Ontario or elsewhere.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a former member from Oshawa in the members' west gallery, Mr Mike Breaugh. Welcome.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Health and it concerns the health care crisis he has created in Ontario. Last week the Toronto Star cited a government source as confirming that your government plans to download the responsibility for public health units, long-term care, assistive devices and community health centres to municipalities. Now, downloading these health care services on to the municipalities puts a huge financial burden on the property tax system and threatens the very existence of these important public health services.

My question of the Minister of Health is this: Will you reassure the health care workers and health care providers across this province that the Conservative government will not be cutting these important public health care services by pushing them off on the municipalities? Will you confirm that?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): In the Who Does What process, which is trying to sort out and delayer the responsibilities that layers of government have in this province, if we look at some of the examples the honourable member has raised, we have municipalities involved, which have their bureaucracies to deliver those programs, and we have the Ministry of Health, with its huge bureaucracy, to deliver those programs. The government is about getting rid of waste and duplication and cutting red tape and ensuring that we don't spend money on bureaucrats and bureaucracies, but that we spend money on patients, the nurses who will provide those public health services and front-line services in general.

I can assure the honourable member, though, this is not about cutting health care budgets. This is about trying to free up administrative dollars and driving those dollars to front-line services, where all of us should be concentrating our efforts.


Mr Hampton: I think the horse is out of the barn now. These are some of the most important health care services that people across Ontario receive. I just want to give the minister an example.

Just this week he was proudly pointing out that Sick Children's Hospital is operating as business as usual. I want to remind the minister that Sick Kids is operating on an as-usual basis because the physicians there are on an alternative payment system, the same alternative payment system that community health centres are on. Community health centres are providing services that are unaffected by your current disputes with physicians and everyone else in the province. They operate 24 hours a day. They provide services to some of the people in this province who are most in need of health care.

Minister, are you seriously considering pushing community health centres on to municipalities? Are you seriously considering undermining one of the primary care delivery systems that are really working?

Hon Mr Wilson: Community health centres themselves aren't waiting around and wallowing in the status quo; they're working with us on primary care reform. We're going to build and improve upon the experience we've had with Ontario's community health centres.

Again, Who Does What is about delayering government and bureaucracies and making sure we have the dollars freed up and driven towards front-line services. All of the programs across government are being looked at.

The honourable member in his first question mentioned public health. I'd remind him that all of the employees of public health are municipal employees today. Your local medical officer of health is a local municipal employee. Yet we retain a very large bureaucracy at Queen's Park to check over the shoulders of these people who are doing a very good job at the local level.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: We're having those discussions to make sure that all of our dollars are driven towards front-line services and away from administration and waste and duplication.

Mr Hampton: The Conservative government calls it Who Does What. It's become increasingly apparent that it's all about who does what to whom, and what you're doing is you're going to download a whole bunch of health care costs; you're going to download some of the most efficiently run health care systems in this province on to municipalities. This is nothing more than cuts.

Let's review a little bit of history. Let's look at the evidence. Last year you cut the funding to community health centres by $2.5 million. You cut the health innovation fund. You announced your Primary Health Care Reform Implementation Steering Committee in July, stating you'd have pilots up and running by the end of the year. It's now the end of November and there are no pilots. Now we see that you are downloading even more. The health care system is in chaos. Doctors, nurses and now community health centres and public health units see that there is no reform; there's only deconstruction of health care, cuts to health care.

Will you at least commit today that community health centres will remain the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and that --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: Community health centres will continue to be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. That is the goal of primary care reform regardless of what particular administration is involved there. We want to look at every area and figure out what area of government, what level of government, can best deliver the programs. We're still going through that exercise and no decisions at all have been taken whatsoever.

For the honourable member to leave the impression with this House that there have been cuts to the overall health care budget, I remind the honourable member that he has yet to get up in this House and acknowledge the --


The Speaker: Order. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: I would just remind the honourable member that the government has lived fully up to its commitment to preserve the health care budget. We've increased the health care budget in spite of the $2.1-billion cut from the federal government. We will absolutely live up to that commitment throughout our term in office. Our word is our word, and we are doing everything we said we would do, which is far better than either of these two parties could talk about after their shameful years in government.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): This morning a joint statement on hospital sector cutbacks was made by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and the Ontario College of Family Physicians. They want to alert this minister that his cuts to our hospitals' budgets have created a crisis in quality patient care. They are very clear in what they are saying to the minister. They believe his plans and his cuts to our hospital budgets will result in a breakdown in quality, comprehensiveness and universality of Ontario's health care system. As they point out in their press release, it is a system that has been the hallmark of Canadian identity.

They are saying to you, Minister, that hospitals cannot cope with the cuts you are making to their budgets, that patients are suffering, they're being sent home without community supports, and that hospitals are replacing nurses with less qualified people and sick people in hospital are suffering. What do you say and what is it going to take to get you to listen to these people?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): My response is twofold. The Ontario Nurses' Association said two weeks ago that they believe there's 30% waste in the hospital system. Secondly, and the honourable member has had an opportunity to grill the Health Services Restructuring Commission, as it is going around the province we see examples of where they're finding waste and where they're asking those communities and those hospitals to get rid of the waste and concentrate on front-line patient services.

We know what the government has set out in terms of the vision for health care, which is a fully integrated system where we break down those hospital walls and concentrate on the patient -- not on the silos and not on the institutions that exist today, but actually concentrate on the needs of a patient from pre-cradle to grave. As we do that -- and the nurses agree with that, and the doctors. I will be meeting with the Ontario College of Family Physicians, and if you read the other letter they sent, they're asking us to move towards a fully integrated system and all of the things we're working on with our partners in health care. I am confident that together we'll get rid of the waste and the duplication, cut the red tape and drive more dollars to patient services.

Mrs Caplan: To the Minister of Health, I would say: Listen to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, listen to the Ontario Nurses' Association, listen to the Ontario College of Family Physicians and listen to those people who are saying to you, "Yes, create an integrated health system, but a barrier to doing that are your cuts to hospitals, because those are hurting patients and they are stopping us from getting to the kind of fully integrated system" that you and they envision.

You are cutting $1.3 billion out of hospitals, registered nurses are being replaced with less qualified workers and patients are suffering, Minister. Your own Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council asked you to look into the replacement of nurses. You hear that patient care is suffering and that, I quote, "There is a widening gap in our hospitals between the care that is required and the care that is available."

Minister, listen. This is the effect of your cuts to hospitals. You cannot deny it. Will you stand up today and say that you will stop the cuts to hospital budgets and put patients' interests first?


Hon Mr Wilson: I would ask the honourable member to listen to the hospital administrators in her own riding. Mr MacKenzie is very much one of those in the honourable member's own riding who tells us that the government is on the right track. I spoke only three weeks ago to the Ontario Hospital Association and the honourable member was at that meeting. The message they gave us was that the government is on the right track, that what we're asking hospitals to do is very doable. The commission has said it's more than doable. The nurses themselves, including representatives of the RNAO whom I met with earlier this week, are saying it's doable.

I'd ask the honourable member to simply be a little more optimistic, because the people in health care are optimistic that at the end of the day we're going to have a much better system where the patient comes first always throughout their journey through our health care system.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Solicitor General. Last session the Solicitor General was adamant that he would not be involved in operational matters related to events that led to the death of Dudley George, that he would not be involved in OPP operations. In answer to a question from my colleague the member for London Centre, the Solicitor General said, "If I as the Solicitor General...at any time involved myself in the details of operational matters of the police or investigations being conducted by the police, the honourable member would be the first on her feet to object, and rightly so."

Now we have proof that in fact the solicitor was involved in police matters. The police logs kept at Ipperwash show that OPP inspector Linton spoke on the phone from the command post of Superintendent Parkin and he said, "Marcel Beaubien was in tonight, he had talked to the Solicitor General.... And the Attorney General, they were comfortable."

Can the solicitor explain the contradiction between his comments in this House and the police log, which makes it clear --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Solicitor General.

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I would suggest the honourable member talk to the OPP with respect to their logs. I have no recollection of such a conversation.

Mr Wildman: The Solicitor General says he has no recollection, but the police log also says that Superintendent Parkin says OPP commissioner Thomas O'Grady had been talking to Runciman and that they were "more than pleased with what the OPP was doing." Inspector Carson states that the Premier and the Solicitor General want to "deal with" this matter -- that is, the occupation -- at a meeting "this morning."

Can the solicitor explain this apparent contradiction between his statements and what the police logs indicate? Did he discuss this matter with the commissioner? Did he express opinions about the OPP's position? What does "deal with" this matter actually mean?

Hon Mr Runciman: The member is going to interpret these things in any way he wishes, especially if they can perhaps give him some sort of political advantage or perceived political advantage. I want to indicate that I said I do not involve myself in operational decisions of the police, and that is the case. It certainly has been the case since I assumed these responsibilities. I think the important remark they should be listening to is from the commissioner of the OPP, who said very clearly that there has been no political involvement or interference with respect to deliberations or operational matters surrounding the Ipperwash situation.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to introduce, in the members' east gallery, the ex-member for Scarborough Centre, Reverend Bill Davis. Welcome.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): My question is for the Attorney General. I have been contacted by a family support plan recipient. Sandy is in hiding from an abusive ex-husband. She cannot raise this question through her own MPP for fear of identifying her whereabouts. Sandy has been registered with the family support plan since 1994. Originally, her ex-husband paid support for two months but has not paid any money for the last several months. She is now owed $4,000. Sandy believes he shelters assets under another person's name. I would like to know how you are going to help Sandy get the money owed to her.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Thank you for the question. As the member knows, I can't and won't comment on any specific cases. However, Bill 82, which is presently being debated, would allow us to pursue sheltered assets. As well, it will give us the ability to suspend drivers' licences and bring people forward who could begin paying on defaulted support orders. This will help us get more money to women and children who depend on it, and it will hopefully help the individual you referred to. I hope this can become law as soon as possible.

Mrs Ross: We've been debating Bill 82 for nearly a week. Sandy is owed $4,000. As you said, she would probably be helped once this bill has been passed through. Minister, when do you think we will see this bill become law, and how soon after its passage do you think we'll be able to put further steps in place to help Sandy?

Hon Mr Harnick: Again, thank you for the question. I would like this legislation to become law as fast as possible. If this legislation can become law by the beginning of January, we can start implementing licence suspension, we can start implementing a course to pursue people who shelter assets and we can start getting money to women and children. I hope people will support this legislation and make it law so that we can begin to collect moneys that have long remained outstanding.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Chairman of Management Board and, I gather, the senior person responsible for finances. The minister will know that today the Dominion Bond Rating Service, one of our major rating services, issued a report on Ontario's finances that can only be described as a warning about some significant financial problems ahead.

They point out that the 30% personal income tax scheme, they call it "cut," is the single largest challenge to the balanced-budget objective. They estimate that 88% of any growth in revenues is going to go right out the door in the tax cut. They point out that the province of Ontario debt is going to go up $20 billion over the next three years and that we are going to have to borrow $12 billion to pay for the tax scheme.

The question is this, Minister: Can you explain to the people of Ontario how Ontario can afford to borrow $12 billion to fund your tax cut?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): The Minister of Finance has indicated the position of the government over a number of different questions that have been raised in the House on this matter.

One of the greatest problems we face in the province is unemployment. Clearly the tax cut is designed to allow people to keep more of their own money in their pockets. They'll use that money, they'll invest that money in the economy and jobs will be created. When people are working, they're paying taxes, and it's certainly the position of this government that over the course of this term that money will be returned to the treasury in terms of more people working, more people paying taxes and paying back into the revenues of the province. Indeed, this government is on target to eliminate the deficit by the end of this term and to start paying down the debt at that time.

Mr Phillips: The question, just to refresh your memory, is on the tax cut. The Dominion Bond Rating Service clearly says this is the big risk. They go on to point out that if the province's growth projections are off by even 1%, you're going to have to cut another $2.8 billion in spending, so you're going to have to slash deeper than you had ever contemplated.


But I go back to the fundamental question, that is, they say that's the big risk, the cut in personal taxes, so can you explain to the people of Ontario, when the Dominion Bond Rating Service agency and others say that our debt is going to go up $20 billion over the next three years, how can we afford to go out and borrow $12 billion to pay for your tax scheme?

Hon David Johnson: I'll explain and indicate to the member opposite and to the people of Ontario that indeed Ontario this year has been able to borrow, with the spread in comparison to the federal government, in comparison to the American government, at a much narrower rate. In other words, the investment community in the world is saying that Ontario is a good risk. As a result of our fiscal policies, Ontario is a good risk and there is a good deal of confidence in the province, more confidence than we've seen for many years.

I'll also indicate to the member opposite that in the Liberal red book of last year there is a quote that says, "As for Ontario families, many can't afford the taxes they're paying right now." That comes from the party indicating --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. Tomorrow morning parents of school children in towns and cities across Ontario are going to be visiting constituency offices to discuss and protest against the cuts that you've made to education. I understand the minister has extended the deadline to January 2 for the so-called consultation on the secondary school reform proposals. In reality, that's only three weeks more when you take into account the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Will the minister commit to a realistic time frame for this consultation? Will he widen the consultation, not just limit it to certain invited people to the meetings, and allow all issues, that is, over 50 issues that are raised in the booklet, to be discussed and questioned rather than limiting discussion to only four?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member opposite for the question. Yes, we have agreed to extend the consultation period by another month because we want to hear the opinions of students who are currently in the system, of parents and of taxpayers across the province who I know are concerned with the quality of our education system and particularly reforms to secondary school.

The member has pointed out accurately that there are a number of issues to debate on a four-year secondary school program, on meeting that challenge, the challenge that has been met by every other province in Canada. If the member would read our discussion paper, he would find that we've specifically asked parents and students to respond to all the issues. We've said, "In addition to your responses to the following questions, we encourage you to provide us with comments and suggestions on related issues."

We are extending this consultation. It's unparalleled in Ontario to have this broad a consultation: 2.5 million copies of the discussion paper; consultations across the province; over 5,000 responses to date. I'm very pleased with the participation of the public in this process.

Mr Wildman: In addition to the parents' voices that are being raised, this morning the people responsible for implementing the changes to the curriculum and so on, the province's high school principals, added their voices and they called the consultation a sham. They outlined their concerns about curriculum, the costs, community and consultation. They pointed out that if there was an attempt to discuss more than the four issues that the ministry officials wish to discuss, parents and students were being told to deal with that in another forum or some other way.

How can you explain reducing compulsory instruction time on English, for instance, from 440 hours to a maximum of 360 hours? How is that going to assist students to make it in this world?

Minister, will you explain how you're benefiting Ontario's youth by cutting the time they study English by 18%?

Hon Mr Snobelen: It's an opportunity now to put before the public and this chamber once again the things we have suggested. By the way, for the information of the honourable member opposite, the items in our discussion paper, the things we brought forward to the people of Ontario, are suggestions that have been made to us by people who are professional educators, professional teachers, people from our colleges and universities who worked on our advisory panel. It's our intention, after we have a consultation with the public to find out what the taxpayers, parents and students think, to go back to educators and say, "How do we fulfil these requests?" That's the reason for the broad communications.

I would say to the member opposite that I hope, and I've talked to my parliamentary assistant, who's been running things very capably -- by the way, no one has been turned away, to my knowledge, from one of our public consultations. I would encourage those who are in the education community to please make room at these consultations for parents, make room for the taxpayers, make room for students so their voices can be heard. We will go back to the educators, to the professionals in our system and ask them the questions.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Recent newspaper reports have been suggesting a change to our Ontario Works policy. My constituents in St Catharines-Brock are very confused in this regard, as they receive different information from my office and from the media. Minister, would you please clarify once and for all for this Legislature the government's position on this issue?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Recent media reports have been trying to say that Ontario Works, our workfare program, has gone back to the drawing-board. I would like to tell them that is absolutely untrue. It is not going back to the drawing-board, it is not back on the drawing-board, and there is no need to put it back on the drawing-board because it is working and being implemented, community by community, across this province. We have 12 communities now up and running. We have another 10 coming in the door. I announced a week ago that phase 2 of Ontario Works is not more pilot projects; phase 2 is province-wide implementation.

Mr Froese: Minister, another aspect of confusion for my constituents is welfare recipients' responsibilities under this program. Could you outline these responsibilities for us?

Hon Mrs Ecker: There have been some attempts to confuse people about what is happening with our workfare program. For those who are on social assistance it is mandatory to participate in the Ontario Works program. There is no policy change, there is no rule change. That is consistent with the commitment we gave to the voters of Ontario in terms of what our Ontario workfare program would be.

There is a range of programs they are participating in, provided by our municipal partners. The goal is to get people on welfare back into paid jobs as quickly as we can.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Linda Concellier is in the gallery today. She has asked that we bring her appeal to you publicly.

A few weeks ago you were told that her Wheel-Trans service was going to be cut because of changes in the eligibility criteria. Linda is a bright, competent university graduate who wants to contribute her skills to the economic life of this province. But Linda has cerebral palsy, and her doctors say it's dangerous for her to use public transit. Her final appeal has just been denied.

Minister, what advice can you give Linda today about what to do about her situation?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Obviously this government is very concerned about the mobility and accessibility of disabled people of Ontario. I'm concerned that some processes that have been put in place might not have been bringing things to a realization of what everyone expects, but these are things we have to resolve and try and work our way through.


I don't know whom this individual is dealing with, whether it's the Toronto Transit Commission or another municipality. But one of the things I want to say is that all decisions, as far as Wheel-Trans or disabled transit are concerned, are clearly municipal decisions, and we're funding partners. I want to say to this House that we have not cut disabled funding. The funding that was in place has been supported. That's basically what I can say.

Mr Morin: I met with Linda in my office. I'm not a doctor, but it's quite simple to realize that she is incapable of walking on her own without at least some assistance from Wheel-Trans.

Your government is distancing itself from the fallout of its economic policies, but you cannot deny that the cutbacks in services to individuals like Linda are a result of this government's actions. In the last election you promised to protect funding for people with disabilities. Now we know that the very meaning of that word will be altered. As a result the community is bracing itself for even deeper cuts in the near future. Labels come and go but the very real needs of individuals remain.

Minister, can you tell Linda -- I invite you after question period to come and meet with her -- and others who care deeply about this issue that you will show leadership in defending the rights of people in need regardless of definition?

Hon Mr Palladini: Once again I would like to say that this government is definitely concerned about making sure that people who are disabled have an opportunity to get around.

We did not cut one dollar from disabled transit. The funding that was in place has been maintained. Municipalities are the ones that make a decision on who qualifies and so on, but apparently there is an appeal process in place that can be utilized if someone does not agree with a decision that was made.

This government has been working with municipalities in making an attempt to create a community transportation action program, and I believe these types of programs can also participate in delivering services like disabled transit and getting better utilization of the equipment we've got.

Very clearly this government, the Harris government, has not cut disabled transit.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Three weeks ago I asked the minister who heads up the cabinet committee looking at privatization; today I've got a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. The minister, from my initial question, would not categorically state that he was not going to privatize the Ontario Lottery Corp.

Just this past Friday there was a leak out of government that suggests that the OLC is in line for privatization and will be reduced from 770 employees to 350. I've read your terms of reference to the external review. There's absolutely nothing in here re the impact this will have on my community. Will you promise today to put that into anything you will do and ask this consultant to consider the impact this major move will have on my community?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm well aware of the member's concern about his constituency. We talked a lot about that in the estimates process we finished just last Wednesday. At the time that we went through, in the estimates process, the subject of the review of the Ontario Lottery Corp I told him that what was being done was being done in all the agencies, boards and commissions our government is involved in.

We think it is very good business to have a proper review of our agencies, boards and commissions. Nowhere did I tell him or suggest that this agency was going to be privatized or that there would be any dramatic changes occurring. But I thought it was advisable to tell him that what was being done with the Ontario Lottery Corp in Sault Ste Marie was being done with all our agencies, boards and commissions.

Mr Martin: This corporation is one of the primary enterprises in our community, not only for the present but for the future, one of the biggest employers in Sault Ste Marie. When it was moved first to Sault Ste Marie the government of the day laid out very clearly why they did that.

It says here: "A careful development plan for decentralization of an organization provides unique opportunities for the host community, the relocating organization and the government, expanded local demand generated by relocated employees, ongoing local procurement of goods and services by the relocated organization and local product and supplier development for new goods and services. Greater diversity of local employment base enables the community to better cope with economic cycles."

What are you saying to these people today? What am I to say when I go back to Sault Ste Marie on Friday to these people re the impact of what you're proposing on this corporation and the people of my community? Will you consider the impact that this will have on Sault Ste Marie and Algoma before you to do this?

Hon Mr Saunderson: What I'd like the member to go back to his constituents and tell them is that this is a responsible government on this side of the House, not like it was in the old days. Recently, about six months ago, we did a review of this particular agency and found that we could save $36.5 million. I would suggest that if we can find that kind of money --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon Mr Saunderson: What I was saying before the interruption was that we found $36.5 million last year on a search with that particular agency, and as far as we're concerned we think there could be more savings and we intend to do what we are doing as we are doing with all our agencies, boards and commissions. It is good business practice. This government is determined to run a business-like operation.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Recently the mayor of Scarborough issued an open letter to the Scarborough residents which was published on the front page of our local paper, the Scarborough Mirror, last week. In that letter the mayor states that the province has refused to meet with local officials and mayors regarding the issue of amalgamation.

Would the minister inform the House of meetings that he and his staff have had with the mayors and local officials since that letter was published concerning amalgamation and how those meetings went and what amount of research has gone into the issue of amalgamation and how his decisions will be brought forward so that the people of Scarborough and Metro Toronto will know?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member for Scarborough Centre for the question, an excellent question. As the House knows, there has been no final decision made at this time on the Toronto governance issue. At this point in time there has been no decision, but it's going to come very quickly.

We've given the six mayors until November 29 to formulate their proposal, they having stated that they intend to cut the size of councils by more than half and integrate all major services. I'm waiting with bated breath for that report. I've spoken to some of the mayors individually and I've spoken to them all collectively in a meeting we had on the 21st. We're going to be meeting again with them on the 29th.

I want to say, in response to the second half of that question, that there are more than 60 reports on restructuring in the greater Toronto area. There is a report --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary. Member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr Newman: The mayor's open letter refers to our government as irresponsible and states that the minister is basing his decisions without facts, only on gut feelings. Is this true?

Hon Mr Leach: It is true that we have more information on this issue than probably any other issue we've been dealing with. The member from Scarborough has asked for a list of the reports. If you haven't got it now, I will send it over to you right after question period.




Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has started to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filled on July 15; and

"Whereas seniors on a fixed income do not significantly benefit from the income tax savings created by this user fee copayment or from any other non-health user fees; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee, or the painstaking task involved to fill out the application forms; and

"Whereas the current Ontario Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, promised as an opposition MPP in a July 5, 1993, letter to Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in this province;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the" PC "government to repeal this user fee plan because the tax- saving user fee concept is not fair, sensitive or accessible to low-income or fixed-income seniors; and lest we forget, our province's seniors have paid their dues by collectively contributing to the social, economic, moral and political fabric of Canada."

I agree wholeheartedly with this petition and I've signed my name to it.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows:

"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 company 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."

This is signed by a number of constituents from my riding. I agree with the petitioners and I've affixed my signature to it.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I am pleased to present yet another petition, from the community of Barrhaven in my constituency, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the community of Barrhaven lacks any secondary schools to educate the large number of students living in this area;

"Whereas Barrhaven is the most rapidly growing community in Ottawa-Carleton;

"Whereas the National Capital Commission's greenbelt severs the community of Barrhaven from Nepean, forcing many students to take potentially dangerous, unsupervised, hour-long trips on public transportation in order to travel to school;

"Whereas Nepean's high schools are significantly overcrowded;

"Whereas both the Carleton Board of Education and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board have undertaken significant cost-saving measures to help reduce the construction costs of these high schools;

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

"We strongly urge the Minister of Education to recognize the unique educational needs of" Barrhaven and "Nepean and provide the funding required to build both of the proposed high schools for Barrhaven."

Because I am in agreement, I have affixed my own signature thereto.


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 have affixed my signature.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition from hundreds of people in my riding and across Toronto about the cuts to the health care system which reads:

"Whereas proposed cuts in transfer payments pose a threat to Canada's national health care system; and

"Whereas, despite Mike Harris's promise on May 3, 1995, of `no cuts to health care spending,' his November 29 economic statement contains `$1.3 billion or 18% cuts to hospital spending over the next three years, and a further $225-million cut from the health care budget'; and

"Whereas, despite Mike Harris's promise in the Common Sense Revolution that aid for seniors and the disabled would not be cut, his November 29 economic statement shows cuts to the Ontario drug benefits plan and threatens access to drugs based on ability to pay; and

"Whereas the late Supreme Court Justice Emmett Hall, the father of Canada's medicare system, stated: `The only thing more expensive than good health care is inadequate or no health care'; and

"Whereas Ontario residents enjoy a one-tier health care system for all, regardless of financial status, without copayments or user fees;

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, call upon Premier Mike Harris and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to maintain and protect the health care provisions presently provided to all Ontario residents."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a real pleasure to rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents Charlie Harper and Larry Davidson.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as well as the Minister of Transportation, Al Palladini; the Solicitor General, Bob Runciman; the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Bill Saunderson:

"Whereas the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs continues in a significant way to contribute to the economy of Ontario;

"Whereas snowmobile clubs are very conscious of safe operation in conformance with regulations;

"Whereas snowmobile operators spend thousands of dollars on their machines and in fact on tourism in Ontario;

"Whereas these expensive modern machines usually have decals with names and other lettering on them;

"Whereas the current MTO-issued registration numbers are not complementary to the other lettering on the machines;

"We, therefore, petition the Legislature of Ontario to amend the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, Revised Statutes of 1990, chapter M.44, regulation 804, section 23, subsections (3), (4) and (5), and allow the operators to affix their own registration numbers at their own expense."

I think this makes common sense. I'm pleased to affix my name to it.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly.

"We, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Health to amend the Ontario Mental Health Act to ensure:

"That people suffering from schizophrenia and related disorders no longer face unreasonable barriers in their attempt to receive treatment in a psychiatric facility; and

"That patients being treated for schizophrenia and related disorders be allowed adequate time in hospital for treatment to be effective; and

"That a community treatment order be put in place for those with schizophrenia who need medical treatment to live in the community but are non-compliant and hard to treat."

I have hundreds of petitions here and I affix my name to this petition as well.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition from a number of citizens in my area. They're urging the government to stop the cuts to Ontario's poor and are urging Ontario citizens to express their conscientious objection to the tax cuts. The petition reads:

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

I support this petition.



Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Progressive Conservative government has passed a resolution urging the government of Canada to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada to ensure that convicted murderers serve their entire sentences; and

"Whereas convicted first-degree murderers are allowed to apply to the court for a reduction of the parole ineligibility period; and

"Whereas victims' families must relive the horrors of the original crime through a jury hearing for this early parole and relive this every time the killer is given rehearings for early parole; and

"Whereas the provincial government must bear a large degree of the costs involved with a jury hearing;

"We, the undersigned, ask the Attorney General of Ontario to request the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada to reconsider his decision under Bill C-45 and to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada."

I endorse this petition and have signed it.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the 800,000 children who ride the school buses of Ontario are at risk and their safety is in jeopardy from unsafe drivers who are not stopping for school buses; and

"Whereas the current school bus law is difficult to enforce since not only is a licence plate number required but positive identification of the driver and vehicle as well, which makes it extremely difficult to obtain a conviction;

"Therefore, be it resolved, that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"That private member's Bill 78 be passed. The bill doubles the existing range of fines for identified drivers and establishes vehicle owner liability.

"We ask for the support of all members of the Legislature."

I have affixed my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm pleased to present a petition on behalf of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 90, sent in by Roger Hardy, the president, and Roger Duchêne, the treasurer. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government has begun a process to open the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario; and

"Whereas this act is the single most important piece of legislation for working people since it is designed to protect our lives, safety and health while at work and allow us to return home to our families in the same condition in which we left; and

"Whereas the government has made it clear they intend to water down the act and weaken the rights of workers under the law, including the right to know, the right to participate and especially the right to refuse; and

"Whereas this government has already watered down proper training of certified committee members;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario not to alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act or erode the rights of workers any further and ensure strict enforcement of the legislation."

On behalf of my caucus colleagues, I add my name in support.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Progressive Conservative government has passed a resolution urging the government of Canada to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada to ensure that convicted murderers serve their entire sentences; and

"Whereas convicted first-degree murderers are allowed to apply to the court for a reduction of the parole ineligibility period; and

"Whereas victims' families must relive the horrors of the original crime through a jury hearing for this early parole and relive this every time the killer is given rehearings for early parole; and

"Whereas the provincial government must bear a large degree of the costs involved with a jury hearing;

"We, the undersigned, ask the Attorney General of Ontario to request the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to reconsider his decision under Bill C-45 and to repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code of Canada."

I'm happy to affix my name to this.


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

"Whereas the Minister of Education promised that cuts to education would not hurt the classroom;

"Whereas the cuts to education have resulted in many of our very young children being housed in inadequate, poorly ventilated portables;

"Whereas the children who are housed in portable classrooms that occupy crowded school yards are educationally at risk and their safety is in jeopardy;

"Whereas the current moratorium on capital expenditures makes it impossible for some school boards to provide safe, comfortable learning environments for our children, thus adversely affecting the quality of their education;

"Whereas the government of Ontario has proposed that $250 million be spent on building a superjail while withholding funds for necessary school construction;

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

"Remove the freeze on capital expenditures to ensure that our children are educated in buildings appropriate to and conducive of learning, comfort and safety."

I add my name to this important petition. It was gathered by Ms Theresa McNeil, chairperson of the St Timothy Catholic school advisory council, but I note she speaks for many of the concerned parents around the province whose children are inadequately housed and educated in the classrooms of this province.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further petitions. The Chair recognizes the member for Nickel Belt.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He just got his hair done too.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I was having a bad hair day.

"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 the broad policies as advocates for the students in their community, to provide cost-efficient educational services and to be directly accountable to the parents and local ratepayers."

I'm pleased that I finally was able to read this petition.



Mrs Witmer moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 99, An Act to secure the financial stability of the compensation system for injured workers, to promote the prevention of injury and disease in Ontario workplaces and to revise the Workers' Compensation Act and make related amendments to other acts / Projet de loi 99, Loi assurant la stabilité financière du régime d'indemnisation des travailleurs blessés, favorisant la prévention des lésions et des maladies dans les lieux de travail en Ontario et révisant la Loi sur les accidents du travail et apportant des modifications connexes à d'autres lois.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour say "aye."

All those opposed say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1527 to 1533.

The Acting Speaker: Mrs Witmer has moved that leave be given to introduce a bill entitled An Act to secure the financial stability of the compensation system for injured workers, to promote the prevention of injury and disease in Ontario workplaces and to revise the Workers' Compensation Act and make related amendments to other acts.

Those in favour please rise.


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Parker, John L.

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Pettit, Trevor

Bassett, Isabel

Harnick, Charles

Preston, Peter

Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Ross, Lillian

Brown, Jim

Hodgson, Chris

Runciman, Robert W.

Carr, Gary

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Carroll, Jack

Jackson, Cameron

Saunderson, William

Chudleigh, Ted

Johns, Helen

Shea, Derwyn

Clement, Tony

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Cunningham, Dianne

Jordan, W. Leo

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Snobelen, John

DeFaria, Carl

Klees, Frank

Spina, Joseph

Ecker, Janet

Leadston, Gary L.

Sterling, Norman W.

Elliott, Brenda

Marland, Margaret

Stewart, R. Gary

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tascona, Joseph N.

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Tilson, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Murdoch, Bill

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Villeneuve, Noble

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John

Witmer, Elizabeth

Gilchrist, Steve

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Young, Terence H.

The Acting Speaker: Those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Agostino, Dominic

Crozier, Bruce

Patten, Richard

Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

Phillips, Gerry

Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Pouliot, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Hampton, Howard

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Brown, Michael A.

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Caplan, Elinor

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Christopherson, David

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Churley, Marilyn

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Cleary, John C.

Martel, Shelley


Cooke, David S.

Martin, Tony


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 66, the nays are 31.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Minister, do you have a statement?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): No further comment.


Mr Jim Brown moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 100, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to Impaired Driving Offences / Projet de loi 100, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui concerne les infractions pour conduite avec facultés affaiblies.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry? It is carried. Do you have a statement?

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): The bill amends the Highway Traffic Act to provide that a police officer may seize a motor vehicle or motorized snow vehicle driven by a person whom the police officer believes is committing an impaired driving offence. The police officer is required to give a written acknowledgement of the seizure to both the driver and the owner. If the driver is charged with an impaired driving offence and has previously been convicted of an impaired driving offence, the police officer may retain the seized vehicle until the charge is heard.

In all other cases the police officer may retain the seized vehicle for a period not exceeding 90 days. When the time period for retaining the seized vehicle has elapsed, the owner or the owner's agent is entitled to recover the vehicle unless the driver has previously been convicted of two or more impaired driving offences and had the vehicle without the owner's consent.



Mr Crozier, on behalf of Mr Chiarelli, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 101, An Act to provide for the Arbitration of certain Disputes relating to Franchises / Projet de loi 101, Loi prévoyant l'arbitrage de certains différends concernant les franchises.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): The Franchises' Arbitration Act, 1996, provides for the arbitration of disputes between the parties to a franchise agreement. It's intended as a viable solution to current disputes between franchisees and franchisers. The bill addresses the immediate need for a dispute resolution mechanism in the absence of comprehensive franchise regulatory control.



Mr David Johnson moved government notice of motion number 11:

That, pursuant to standing order 6(b)(i), the House shall continue to meet from 6 pm to 12 midnight on December 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12, 1996, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to divide the time equally between the three parties.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Consent for divided time? Agreed? It is agreed.

Hon David Johnson: Good. This is a traditional motion to allow the House to debate the proceedings during the last two weeks in the month of December up until midnight, rather than 6 pm.

I would say, though, and I hope I share this with many of the members in the Legislature today, that we would prefer to be actually debating legislation and the business of the House, as opposed to extending the hours. I would take it for granted and government members would take it for granted that we are here to do the business of the province of Ontario and introduce legislation in the province of Ontario, and we'd prefer to be debating that legislation rather than how long we're going to talk. That being as it may, we will be apparently spending the rest of the afternoon on this motion to extend the sitting hours.

I will say that next week, during the extended hours, the government will be bringing forward the legislation that's on the table at the present time, legislation to cut red tape in Ontario that is impeding business growth in the province, to encourage economic growth, to encourage investment in Ontario, to encourage job creation in Ontario. There is no question that over the past year we have seen job growth in Ontario. We have seen the growth of 127,000 net jobs in this province since this government has taken office.

Even more encouraging, over the past month we have seen the growth of some 10,000 jobs for the young people in Ontario. One of the unfortunate aspects of the job creation and the growth had been that the younger people in our economy had not been able to participate. In the rest of Canada there is a considerable loss of jobs for young people, but here in Ontario we're seeing a growth of about 10,000 jobs in the last month for young people. That's encouraging and I know that is a situation that would be shared by all members of this Legislature.

Beyond that, we will be debating legislation next week which will help us to balance the books of the province of Ontario. I'm sure all the residents of Ontario would share this government's commitment to balancing the budget, to making ends meet in this province over the term of this government. The legislation that we will be debating will help us to do that.

We will be debating a motion which will remove duplication and waste in governments -- in this government but among municipal governments as well -- because we believe the economy is best served, the people of Ontario are best served if the governments are most effective and efficient and focus on their business and their responsibilities and there is a clear delineation as to the responsibilities of each particular government.

To be more specific, some of the legislation that's on the table at the present time includes a number of bills: Bill 52, for example, is on the table. I would like to see it receive third reading before Christmas. I think we can accomplish that with the extended hours next week. Bill 52, out of the Ministry of Natural Resources, deals with the aggregate, petroleum and salt resource industries. It allows the Ministry of Natural Resources to develop compliance partnerships with the industry, for example, to hold the industry accountable for day-to-day site inspections. This, I think, will simplify government procedures, make government more efficient, and it will be less of a burden for the industry itself and hopefully lead to growth in that industry and job creation.

Bill 57, the Environmental Approvals Improvement Act, is a bill to bring improvements to the approvals process with regard to the certificates of approval in Ontario. It also deals with the repealing of the Ontario Waste Management Corp, which has been wound up.

Bill 61 is the first of a number of red tape bills, some eight red tape bills, introduced by this government to reduce the regulatory burden on our industries in Ontario, and to encourage their growth and job creation through those means.

Bill 61, for example, coming out of the Ministry of the Attorney General, deals in part with the office of the public guardian and trustee, makes the hearings more efficient, improves accessibility to that office and promotes better customer service. Certainly, all the members of this Legislature would hope to see improved customer service out of not only that particular office, but out of the province of Ontario.

Bill 63, another one of the red tape bills through the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation will streamline three of the agencies associated with that ministry and improve the accountability of the boards associated with those agencies.

Bill 64, from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, eliminates redundant procedures and reduces regulations that are unnecessary burdens to business.

Anything that will reduce the burden on our business community, provided there is protection, and there always has to be protection for the people of Ontario, provided there is appropriate protection, anything that will reduce the regulatory burden, the red tape on our business community will inevitably lead to those jobs among the youth and among all people in Ontario.


Bill 65 out of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism is another red tape bill that eliminates the red tape in the operation of the tourism agencies. There are a lot of important industries in Ontario, but I think we would all agree that the tourism industry in Ontario, when you look at the scope of the tourism industry from one end of Ontario to the other, east to west, north to south, surely is one of the most important industries, creating jobs for people all across the province. We're hoping through Bill 65 to simplify the procedures in that industry and help the tourist establishments to grow and create jobs.

Bill 66 out of the Ministry of Environment and Energy: Streamline the government process and provide more flexible operations of the boards administering a variety of acts -- again job creation.

Bill 67 out of the Ministry of Health: To improve government efficiencies and remove barriers that hinder businesses and the institutional sector from competing in an increasingly competitive market.

These are the bills we will be debating next week and hopefully will receive approval through this Legislature.

Bill 69 out of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services will simplify various procedures and remove barriers and inefficiencies, and remove unnecessary and obsolete regulations pertaining to, for example, private investigators and security guards -- another industry and business in Ontario that we may not always think of, but one that is important.

Bill 81 is not a red tape bill, as the members opposite will know. Bill 81 is the redistribution act, the act that reduces the number of provincial politicians from 130 down to 103.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): It will affect the Tories.

Hon David Johnson: It will, I suspect, affect all three parties, but I must say to the member opposite that the boundaries were created at the federal level under the existing federal party, which is the Liberal Party. That is where the boundaries came from and we said, "Look, if 103 federal members will be able to successfully represent the province of Ontario after the next federal election, then 103 provincial representatives will be more than adequately able to represent the people of Ontario in this Legislature after the next provincial election."

By reducing those 27 members from 130 down to 103, we show our willingness in this House to be part of the solution to the ills and the financial picture in Ontario. We show that if we're to ask the civil service to do better with less, if we are to say we have to restructure and downsize the civil service, shouldn't the politicians be prepared to participate in that solution as well? I think the answer is yes, we should. This bill will accomplish that and save millions of dollars to boot, some $11 million right off the top in terms of the reduced number of elected representatives and more if we combine our electoral process with the federal government.

Now we get to Bill 82, a bill that we've been debating over the last three days, a bill that I sincerely hope we would see pass through this House. I have in my hand a letter with regard to Bill 82 dealing with the family support plan. There has been a problem, as we all know in this House, in the family support plan over the past number of years, a problem that we cannot turn a blind eye to, a problem that surely every member of this House would wish to address.

I have a letter which was written to the member for Sudbury East, I must say, and it comes from the Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears. This is a letter from the Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears, which means that there are fathers who are separated from their family, they're not paying the money they should be paying. This involves a tragedy, frankly, in many families, and there is an organization expressing concern about this. This organization calls itself the Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears.

They write on November 20 of this year to the member for Sudbury East, and they say that they are writing to express their disgust with the behaviour in the Ontario Legislature of the member for Sudbury East with regard to the second reading of Bill 82.

They go on to say, "May we remind you and your party" -- and they're referring to the third party, the NDP, the party which was in power through the last term of government -- "that we, the Mothers Against Fathers in Arrears, had to literally take picket signs to the homes and offices of the fathers who chose not to pay child support." They were not paying child support and this organization had to take pickets.

"May we also remind you that we picketed the Attorney General's office in June 1993, addressing the very issues contained in Bill 82. We did meet with the family support director shortly after that and were told that a bill similar to 82 would be passed by the NDP. Well," it says here, "it never did. Children are the individuals who suffered from the failure of your party," the NDP, "to pass this legislation."

It asks the rhetorical question, "Did you care?" It answers, "Not visibly. After all, children do not vote," is what this letter says. "In effect, nobody else voted for the NDP either." What else could one expect?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): You're being provocative, Dave.

Hon David Johnson: Maybe this is provocative. I'm reading from this letter and this letter from mothers who are concerned about receiving child care support payments is saying please get on with Bill 82, get Bill 82 passed through this Legislature, get those measures in place that will help those mothers recover those payments.

On Bill 82, we hope to complete second reading shortly, get it out to committee and get it back so that we can help those mothers who need to get those payments.


Hon David Johnson: I don't need to tell it to the Attorney General. He wants to see this through. He's not the one holding this up. We know who's holding this up.

Bill 84 is another bill we hope to debate. This is the Fire Prevention and Protection Act, another bill that's important to fire services in the province of Ontario. I know the Solicitor General wants to see this bill have its second reading and then go out and have consultation with the people of Ontario. We want to see consultation with the people of Ontario. I know the Solicitor General is consulting on a daily basis, but in particular on this bill, he would like to see this very specific bill go out and receive public hearings, both here in Toronto and across Ontario. We expect to get some very good input across Ontario.

Bill 86: another bill for better local government. This is one to give municipalities more authority and greater flexibility to govern and deliver services effectively. It also introduces new ways of voting as well, to give municipalities more flexibility in that regard. Municipalities have been asking for more flexibility. We all know that municipalities have been asking for more flexibility for many years and I hope that we can join together. If we can't get together on Bill 82, if we can't get together on maybe some of the other legislation, I at least hope that on this, for the sake of the municipalities, we might get together.



The Acting Speaker: I'd ask those two members to come to order. Your turn will be coming, and then I would like to hear from you. Right now it's this member's turn.

Hon David Johnson: We've only got just over 20 minutes left. I'm going to wrap up in a minute here anyway. I know we have two other speakers who wish to speak.

The Road Safety Act, Bill 92: Surely we agree on that, don't we? Don't we want to bring more safety to the roads of the province of Ontario? All right, let's have some applause for Bill 92 from all sides.


Hon David Johnson: Good. Do I see all-party support for safety on our roads? Well, the Minister of Transportation has the answer, and the answer is Bill 92, to implement a safety rating system for the commercial carriers and improve safety on our streets.


Mr Crozier: You sure can whip us into a frenzy.

Hon David Johnson: I'm sorry. The frenzy is going to have to end.

I'd simply mention that there are other pieces of legislation, the Tenant Protection Act, for example. In my days as the mayor of East York for many years, we had, and I'm sure we've all had this experience, many tenants coming to us in my capacity as mayor and saying that the maintenance laws of the province of Ontario are not adequate. The procedures municipalities must go through to ensure proper maintenance in apartment buildings is laborious, it's lengthy, it's time-consuming. By the time you go through it step after step after step -- and it takes months -- to correct the problems you correct, a whole new set of problems has started during that whole process. It's unending.

Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act, will streamline that process, will offer a better resolution to municipalities to come to grips with the maintenance problems and to create and enforce the good housing conditions that the tenants of this province deserve. Besides that, it maintains protection for sitting tenants, tenants who remain, rent control protection in their units. That is a bill that deserves to have second reading, deserves to be out, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is insisting that we have further public hearings on this bill and that it be out there again and we get good advice from the tenants and the people of the province of Ontario.

Those are some of the pieces of legislation that we will be debating. This party, this government is here to work to debate those bills through the midnight sessions and get them passed and get them in effect for the people of the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, are we dealing with everything in a block, or what? That's what I thought we were doing.

The Acting Speaker: There was unanimous consent to divide the time, but that was all that I'm aware of.

Mr Wildman: Fine, all right, so we will be doing a rotation, then. Thank you, Mr Speaker, because I was informed by the Liberal House leader we were doing it a different way.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: As I rise to participate in this debate on the motion to extend sittings to midnight, I really have a feeling of déjà vu. I guess the phrase "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" really does apply here. It seems that every government of whatever political stripe, as it approaches the end of the session, is faced with myriad pieces of legislation that it has not yet passed which it must have passed before the Christmas break. After being in this place for a number of years, it's come to be part of the Christmas season for me that we have this kind of a motion before the House and we have the government House leader up giving a litany of the pieces of legislation that really must be passed by the government for one reason or another before the House can break for the Christmas-New Year holiday.

It really calls into question why governments are unable, it appears, to order their affairs in such a way that they can start introducing and debating pieces of legislation in September and October rather than coming to the end of November and saying, "Suddenly we've got to get this all done, because these are matters that must be dealt with immediately, before the end of the calendar year."

The government House leader mentioned a number of pieces of legislation, and I won't run through them all. He talked about Bill 81, which is out in committee and which the committee is dealing with, which is designed to redraw the boundaries and substantially cut the number of constituencies in this province without recognition of the geographic distances we have to deal with in rural Ontario, a piece of legislation on which I hope members of the government caucus will be able to get up, particularly those from rural Ontario, and say, "Look, we want to have a say in the legislation that affects the people of rural Ontario." I hope that committee will recommend change in the bill that is before it.

The government House leader also mentioned a number of other pieces of legislation, Bill 52 and Bill 57, both of which of course deal with protection of the environment, the so-called red tape bills which have been before the House for some time.

He also mentioned Bill 84, the fire services bill, which he said is something which must be got through so that we can have a consultation. I don't understand why the government has not consulted with the firefighters, the people who represent the firefighters, before designing this legislation. Why would they include in that legislation a provision prohibiting the right to strike for firefighters when firefighters have never withdrawn their services and never intend to? Surely it is like waving a red flag in front of a bull to do this. I guess what it means is that the government doesn't trust the firefighters to live up to their commitment to the people of Ontario, to the protection of people and property. It's too bad the Solicitor General doesn't have more respect for the people who carry out the work of protecting lives and property in this province.

The government also mentioned a number of other pieces of legislation, but I think it's significant that only one of the major ones was on the list he mentioned. He did mention the so-called Tenant Protection Act, which is a bill to gut rent control and to take away protection from tenants. He said the government is committed to holding two more weeks of hearings in Toronto and two weeks of hearings outside of Toronto, which is commendable. But the very fact that the government is calling it "tenant protection" really raises a lot of questions, questions about the sincerity of the government in dealing with the people of Ontario and, in particular, the tenants of Ontario.

I want to deal with a couple of other major pieces, actually three, and I'll deal with one of them in detail. One was announced today. The Minister of Labour introduced the workers' compensation bill, a bill that takes 5% of the benefits away from injured workers. It's just introduced today, the last week of November, a major piece of legislation that is going to affect the lives of some of the most vulnerable workers in the province -- just today, and yet we have two other major pieces of legislation that the government has indicated they intend to proceed with, and we haven't yet seen the legislation. I don't know whether it has even been drafted. One is the reform to school boards and education, the restructuring of education in the province, and the other is the restructuring of municipal government in this province, particularly as it relates to the GTA but also to the rest of the province. We haven't yet seen those pieces of legislation.


I want to deal in particular with the education one. We have a lot of rumours. There are so many trial balloons being floated about changes in education that I'm considering not flying between my constituency and Queen's Park any more because I'm afraid that one of those balloons will get into the jet engine and we'll crash. It's not safe to fly around here with the number of trial balloons that the minister has been floating.

Apparently the minister is talking about a major restructuring. It appears that we're looking at reducing the number of school boards by about half. As one of his trial balloons, the minister has talked about perhaps the municipalities taking over some of the services that are now provided to students by school boards, whether it be administration, purchasing, maintenance of buildings or busing.

He's also apparently talking about a major restructuring of education finance as it relates to the property tax. There has been a proposal by the Who Does What committee that education would no longer be funded by the property tax on residences, that the province would take over that responsibility. That's a $4-billion bill. Frankly, we support the change to take education finance away from residential properties, but we don't know what the details of this legislation will be because we haven't seen it.

There is a proposal for regional pooling of commercial and industrial taxation for financing education. This is going to produce a tremendous amount of controversy. There will be some winners and some losers. Some separate boards will get more funding, some rural boards will get more funding, but some will lose, not just urban public boards, and I think we need a major, proper discussion and an analysis of these kinds of changes.

The minister is talking about a major change to secondary school education and he has a sham of a consultation going on. We don't know exactly what he's going to finally propose.

There has been a study about changes to teachers' collective bargaining; perhaps the institution of province-wide bargaining for teachers; perhaps ending the right to withdraw services by teachers.

These are some of the things that have been proposed.

On top of all this legislation, we also have an indication that the government intends to bring in an economic statement that has been postponed -- originally it was apparently going to be in November and now it's going to be some time next month -- and that is going to take up some time in debate. I suspect it will be a major change because, despite the fact that the Treasurer said about a year ago there would be no further cuts, we now hear the Premier saying there's going to be $3 billion more in cuts. Apparently $1 billion of that will come from education and the rest, I guess, will be cut from municipalities, health care, social services and other services provided directly by the provincial government -- major cuts.

All of these things are major changes that will produce significant and lengthy debate not just in this assembly but across the province. The government has a problem. They have an agenda which is very, very ambitious, to say the least. It is very long. It cannot be completed between now and Christmas, even those few items -- well, actually a lot -- that the government House leader has said must be either gone through second reading or third reading before Christmas. This is a very ambitious agenda and one I'm afraid cannot be achieved even with midnight sessions.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I appreciate the opportunity to rise and to speak on behalf of this motion. I should say at the outset that I'm surprised we're even here debating this. My colleague the member for Don Mills came to our caucus the other day and said, "Would you, my caucus colleagues, mind sitting till midnight if that's what it took to get the job done?" I can tell you that every single one of my caucus colleagues stood up and said: "If that's what it takes to get the job done, we'll be here. We'll be here past midnight if that's what it takes." That's the type of dedication that members on this side of the House bring to our responsibilities.

I wondered why we would even have to debate this motion, that it wouldn't be so obvious and clear that all members would agree to do it just on a quick voice vote. I was surprised that the members in the third party wanted to debate this motion. Then I recalled that for the last year they were in government the House didn't even sit at all. Sitting till midnight never came into the equation. They couldn't find enough work to do Monday to Thursday until 6 o'clock despite the calls of all parts of the province.

If we're to have the opportunity to sit till midnight I think it's very important to put on the record: Why would we need to sit till midnight? One of the big reasons we need to sit till midnight is to discuss the Fewer Politicians Act.

The legislative committee dealing with that, the standing committee on general government, which many of my colleagues had the pleasure to serve on, visited a number of communities around Ontario to solicit input. We went around the province, came to my community of Ottawa and asked: "Do you believe we should have fewer politicians? Do you believe that in trying to balance what was an $11-billion debt, what was strangling jobs and opportunity and hope in this province, in the context of balancing our budget politicians should lead by example, that before we start to say, `Listen, could we ask you to run with a 2% reduction?' or before we ask this group, `Could you handle a 5% reduction?' we had to demonstrate clearly that leadership would begin at the top?"

That's where it began. My colleagues and I firmly believe, as we did, I should say, during the recent election campaign, that having fewer politicians is one clear way of saying to the public that savings are going to start at the top. That's why we'd like to sit until midnight for the scheduled sitting days in December, so we'll have the opportunity to discuss this. We've sent the bill out to committee and we want to bring it back for third reading. Sitting until midnight would guarantee that all testimonies that were heard on the road will be reported back to this House so we can get this piece of legislation through well before the next budget, so the public will say, "You're cutting yourselves later and cutting various other groups now?" No, we want to cut to lead by example right from the beginning. I think it's incredibly important that you start with yourselves.

Another very important piece of legislation that we'd like the opportunity to discuss, and this is a very big issue in my constituency, is Bill 82, the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996. I attended a meeting on Sunday about this with a good number of my constituents who asked me: "When will this bill pass third reading? When will you get this bill proclaimed?" I said I would come back here and put on the record their strong concern that we get Bill 82 passed as soon as possible and get it enacted so that it can benefit many families in Ontario.

I should point out that Bill 82 is intended to establish the Family Responsibility Office, protect the interests of children and spouses through the strict enforcement of support orders while offering flexibility to responsible payors and make consequential amendments to certain statutes. I should say, regrettably, they didn't have a copy of the letter read by the member for Don Mills. I think we want to get that piece of legislation --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): We're waiting for the video they're sending on to me today. What did they say about the bill?

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for Sudbury East, come to order.

Mr Baird: This piece of legislation attacks deadbeat parents who aren't living up to their obligations. It'll go after their driver's licence, it'll go after their credit rating and ensure that they meet their obligations in Ontario.

Ms Martel: How many cases did you pick up when you were there, John?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Sudbury East, come to order, please.

Mr Baird: The other important reason we have to sit until midnight is Bill 84, the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. We saw last week a good number of firefighters, good, hardworking folks from across Ontario who came to Queen's Park and met with many of my colleagues. They had a very good session just downstairs, where they were able to tell us various concerns they have with respect to Bill 84. The Solicitor General had the opportunity to meet them, not only in this place when they were here but when he spoke to them the next day. As already indicated, he's open to listening to their concerns and how we can make Bill 84 a better bill. By passing that and sitting till midnight, we'll have the opportunity to get that piece of legislation to go to committee, and that's very, very important.


Another bill we're waiting to hear about is Bill 92, the Road Safety Act, but we can't get Bill 92 finished this year unless we sit till midnight. Bill 92 promotes road safety by implementing a safety rating system for commercial carriers. I can tell you, a lot of folks in my community are very concerned with respect to traffic safety, particularly in the trucking industry. They want to know, how can we as a government make our trucking industry more safe in terms of road safety for everyone on the road? That's an important bill we'd like to get debated this fall session.

Another bill, Bill 93, the Good Financial Management Act, undertakes a whole host of initiatives designed to reduce the administrative burden and remove tax loopholes and redundant provisions and to make the tax legislation even easier to understand. I wonder why the members opposite wouldn't want to look at reducing the administrative burden, why they wouldn't want to debate making our tax legislation easier to understand. We're looking forward to debating that. We very much want to debate that this year.

Mr Wildman: We never said we were opposed to sitting to midnight.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Member for Algoma, come to order. Member for Durham Centre, come to order, please.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Let's stay here till midnight. Governments always want to stay till midnight.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Baird: Another piece of legislation that would be great to have the opportunity to debate is the Development Charges Act that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing brought in yesterday. In my constituency our municipal government has led the way. They cut their development charges by 50%. Why would they cut their development charges by 50%? Do you know why? They cut their development charges by 50% because they wanted to encourage more construction, more development; they wanted to encourage more construction jobs; they wanted to allow families purchasing their first home to be able to afford it. As the minister reported yesterday, this piece of legislation could remove as much as 20% of the cost of development charges levied in many municipalities, allowing many in our province to realize the dream of home ownership, and that's something that's incredibly important.

Another issue which we'll want to get out for public hearings is the Tenant Protection Act. I've attended a town hall meeting in my constituency where folks gave me some input on how they'd like to see that direction go. I said I'll report that back to the House and have the opportunity for the committee process. Regrettably, we can't debate Bill 96 unless we have the opportunity to do so this year. That's why I think it's very, very important that we be able to go back to our communities, that we be able to go back and report to our constituents about what our activities are when the opportunity arose, when asked, would you be prepared to work a little harder to get a little bit more? I also ask my colleagues, would you be prepared to do a little bit more for a little bit less?

Interjections: Absolutely.

Mr Baird: Absolutely. That's the kind of report we want to be able to give to our constituents when the proposition came forward: Would you be willing to sit till midnight if that's what it took to get the job done? I can tell you that one of the big issues in my election campaign when I ran was that I said I would be a hardworking member of Parliament. I have no problem whatsoever with this motion, to agreeing to sit till midnight.

I look forward to my colleague from Essex county telling us whether he supports sitting until midnight.

Mr Crozier: I do.

Mr Baird: That's good to hear. I look forward to getting it on the record. He says, "I do," because he's a good fellow.

That we're debating this motion is absolutely unbelievable. Why would we be here debating whether we need to keep the House sitting until midnight in order to do the work we're all paid to do? This is something that I believe is very important. It sends a signal that the hard work is going to start right at the political level, because the hardworking people of Ontario, whether it's a pharmacist I spoke to the other day who says she's working harder, whether it's a small business person who said he's working even harder, whether it's a school teacher who says she's working harder -- I think we've got to be very demonstrative that we're going to work harder and try to do more with less.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I too, like the member for Algoma, am very pleased to speak to this particular motion. I want to speak to it because I know I'm not the only member who's worried about what's before us. I know there are many people in Ontario who are very worried about the agenda that's before us and the agenda that's about to be coming as well.

The member for Algoma talked about education very briefly and talked about some of the problems that principals have with the system -- not just principals, but teachers and parents in particular.

I went to a meeting out in Howard Park a couple of weeks ago where the member from High Park couldn't attend and we had the parliamentary assistant who came. I have to tell you that the parents at that particular meeting -- there must have been 250 people there -- and the teachers were horrified at the presentation, horrified at the response and angry about the process, because they said they received this booklet in late September and were told a response to that package was wanted by the end of November. We have never, ever introduced a major piece of work on education, which is very complicated to understand, and expected --

Mr Baird: This package?

Mr Marchese: That package there.

Mr Pouliot: That little garbage.


Mr Pouliot: Stick it in your ear.

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

Mr Marchese: The member for Nepean, of course, is a bright light and a great intellectual so of course he's got no problems understanding that piece of work, but the teachers and parents at that meeting were very worried about what's contained in that booklet, because most of the parents simply don't have a clue.

First of all, they didn't get the booklet. Second, they got it very late. Third, they're given a very short time to respond to a very important piece on education that very much connects to them and to the education of their children.

They're angry about the process this government is engaged in, in terms of how it consults people in this province. They're angry because it doesn't consult with the public in the way it should. It pretends that it does. It says you've got a month and a half to respond to this. And the member for Nepean says: "It's not so bad. This little booklet is not so difficult to understand."

I'm happy the member, this intelligent member, can understand it, but I tell you, a lot of the parents had a difficult time. Many of the parents in the city of Toronto, where I am from, said, "We have a hard time." This document was only produced in English and French, and many of the people we received come from many different countries and don't understand English as well as the member for Nepean, but he doesn't seem to care about that. They made very little effort to translate that document into other languages as it relates to Toronto, Metro in particular, but they don't care about that. As far as they're concerned, they've done their job: "The book was produced. Respond. If you don't, we've done our part." That's the way they consult.

On the issue of rent control, this government has the temerity, the gall, to call an act that is going to hurt every tenant in this province, 3.2 million tenants, the tenant protection package.

We went through four weeks of hearings where tenants and organizations that assist tenants said, "Please don't call this a tenant protection package, because it doesn't help us." They were incensed and offended that they should receive a document called the tenant protection package and there was nothing in it for tenants.

But what does this government do after it hears from them for four weeks? It introduces the same stuff and just calls it the Tenant Protection Act. It does it all over again, offends 3.2 million people all over again. It decontrols the rents, which means that every time you move you're going to be hit by an increase.

The economists who have done a report for these people said that 70% of all tenants move within a five-year period. That means that most of the 3 million tenants are going to be affected when they move. And in my question to the landlords about whether or not we would have rent increases, many of the landlords to whom I asked that question said there will be rent increases. These are landlords.

Mr Leach says: "Oh, no, there are not going to be any rent increases. Don't worry about it." We ask, if there aren't going to be any rent increases, why are you introducing this legislation? "Why?" is the question we ask, and "Why?" is the question the tenants have asked. Why introduce a bill if you say rents are not going to go up? But the landlords know better; in fact, they admit the rents will go up.

So 70% of all tenants will be affected once they move, and the sitting tenants are sitting ducks because while now the provisions allow for a 2.8% increase plus a 3% increase for capital repairs if they are approved, this government says: "That's not good enough. We want to increase that from 3% to 4% because the poor landlords need more money. Not only that, on top of that, we're going to pass on the tax increases and the utilities increases as well."


Potentially the sitting tenant, who becomes a sitting duck, could have an increase of up to 10%. So they have no protection either. The Rental Housing Protection Act is gone. This government says, "We need to give the landlord the right to do with his building what he wants." But guess what? When they do this and they tear down those buildings or convert them to condominiums, it means less rental accommodation for people who could afford them. They're tearing that down. They are not building. The private sector says: "We're not building. This is not good enough." The Rental Housing Protection Act is gone, tearing more good buildings down.

We just learned the other day about a study that has been done, that 36% of all tenants have an affordability problem. What does that mean? It means rents have gone up, wages have gone down, leaving 36% of all tenants affected. They have an affordability problem. What does this government do? They introduce an act that will hit tenants even more, taking more money out of the pockets of renters to pay the landlord, who in my view and in the view of any study I've seen has done well by all governments in terms of being in business as landlords.

We've very worried about what this government is introducing. One further worry I have is that this government announced through Mr Leach, the housing minister, that it wants one megacity. This very man a year and a half ago said, "We're going to get rid of Metro," and then comes back and says, "Oh no, we're not going to get rid of Metro, we're going to get rid of the cities in Metropolitan Toronto." Can you believe that? What are you to believe of a minister who at one point says, "We're going to get rid of Metro," and the next thing you know he says, "Oh no, we're going to do the opposite."

What are to say of a man who said, "Mr Leach responded to a question with characteristic bluntness by saying on the issue of market value assessment, `My party and I will never support the imposition of market value assessment in Metro Toronto.'" What does he say a while later? "We're going to introduce actual value assessment." It's the same thing. When ministers do that they lose credibility. They have a problem.

People are worried because they're not being consulted. They're worried because at the drop of a pin this minister says, "We're going to change the structure of Metropolitan Toronto affecting 2.3 million and we're not going to consult you." It's a shameful act. It is undemocratic. It does not consult the public that's affected. It's a problem. You cannot govern in this way.

When Mr Leach realizes it's a problem, he says to the mayors: "You've got some more time. Go back and talk about it and come back and we'll talk about it later." Is that the way to act? It doesn't help the cities of Metropolitan Toronto; it doesn't help the public who want to have a say.

What are we to expect of this government? What's next? What's next, I dare say, is greater confusion, and when will it end? We want to debate that. This is coming. We're very worried.

I know my colleagues have much to add to this debate so I have said my piece in this regard and leave it to my colleagues to continue.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): The people in Kitchener riding are looking at us debating this today and they think we're rather foolish. They think we're foolish for having to sit until midnight. They don't see that we can accomplish anything by sitting till midnight. But when I explained to them that that was the democratic process, that we wanted the opposition to have time to debate the bills, they could appreciate that but they still think we're a little foolish.

One of the bills that it is so important to pass, and I realize the opposition wants its time to debate this, is the redistribution act. We campaigned on reducing the number of members in the Legislature. We campaigned on that. Originally we said we were going to cut it to 99 members, but because of the federal boundary changes it will be 103.

Mr Baird: Blame the feds. They increased it,

Mr Wettlaufer: The federal Liberals, that's correct. The federal Liberals have increased the number of members in the federal Parliament from 99 to 103 and to save money for the Ontario taxpayer we will use the same boundaries.

Mr Baird: How much money?

Mr Wettlaufer: We will save millions, $11 million for sure. We know that; we know $11 million at least. Each election will save $11 million.

We understand there are some members who do not want to have a reduction. They are more interested in their own situation than they are in the interests of the taxpaying public. However, if the federal government can run Parliament with 103 members from Ontario, there is no reason why we in the Ontario government can't run it with 103 members.

In addition, we want to pass a law on road safety. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can argue against that, especially when we saw over the last five to six years the number of vehicles, the number of trucks in particular that were losing tires, losing wheels. I know the previous transportation minister would like to lay claim to having credit for this, I'm sure, but we want to change this. We don't think anyone should be injured as a result of wheels flying off trucks.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Member for Nepean, come to order.

Mr Wettlaufer: We also have to introduce a financial bill --


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

Mr Wettlaufer: -- to implement provisions of the 1996 budget. Now they're technical amendments, but we're going to remove some loopholes and that --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kitchener, take your seat for a moment. Point of order.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's a very quick point of order I have. Would you please keep the other members quiet? I want to hear what's happened to St Mary's hospital in Waterloo.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you very much. In fact I would ask all members to try to keep the noise level down and come to order. Thank you. Go ahead, member for Kitchener.

Mr Wettlaufer: Madam Speaker, I don't think that was a point of order.

Interjection: You're not the Speaker.

Mr Wettlaufer: But I'm not the Speaker, that's correct.

We also would like to pass the Development Charges Act. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was a young married man --


The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr Wettlaufer: -- and I was interested in buying my first house, and I remember how difficult it was to fund that first house.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, come to order, and the member for Nepean, come to order, please.

Mr Wettlaufer: Over the past 10 to 15 years, the situation has got worse for young married couples to try to find the funding for a new house when the development charges that were being implemented by the municipalities were going higher and higher, such that if we pass this law, it will save 15% perhaps on a house. In some ridings that could save as much as $30,000, $40,000 or $45,000 on someone's first house. That is a lot of money.

Mr Pouliot: It must be a big house.

Mr Wettlaufer: Well, in Toronto a lot of houses cost that kind of money, but you coming from northern Ontario where you have the benefits of low property values --

Mr Pouliot: The benefit of low property values?

Mr Wettlaufer: -- you perhaps don't realize how much it costs for a piece of property in the Metro area.

The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Kitchener speak to the Chair, please. Member for Lake Nipigon, come to order.


Mr Wettlaufer: There are a number of laws we want to pass to eliminate red tape. One of them has to do with the elimination of red tape in so far as it affects business. I think everyone realizes that jobs should be the first priority of this government. That is what we're trying to do in eliminating this red tape. We're eliminating red tape to businesses so that businesses can provide the jobs that everybody in this province wants. There are a lot of unemployed people out there. Granted, it's much less than it was a year and a half ago -- 135,000 fewer than it was 18 months ago -- but there are still a lot of unemployed people who want jobs. Businesses will provide the jobs if we eliminate the red tape.

That's all I have, Madam Speaker.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'm going to take a few minutes to go through this particular motion and then simply put --


The Acting Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, before you proceed, take your seat just for a moment. Order, please. Could all members come to order. Let's keep the noise level down just a little bit more so I can hear the debate. Thank you.

Mr Bisson: The government is bringing forward this motion today for a very simple reason: because they have not been able to get their agenda through the Legislature of Ontario. They have an agenda that is huge. They have many pieces of legislation they wish to pass within the Legislature so they can impose their will and their vision of how they see Ontario on to the citizens of this province. Quite frankly, a number of us within the Legislature, especially in the opposition, have some great problems with some of the things the government is doing.

For example, one of the pieces of legislation this government would like to get at least to second reading some time before Christmas is the changes they're making to the Workers' Compensation Act. These aren't changes; they are taking the current Workers' Compensation Act, chucking it out the door and coming in with a new piece of legislation called something else. What is this legislation going to do? This legislation, for the people living in Cochrane South, Timmins, Iroquois Falls and Matheson, is going to have a very direct effect.

One of the things it's going to do is take $15 billion worth of benefits from workers across this province over the next number of years directly out of their benefits, directly away from voc rehabilitation, directly away from services that injured workers need to safeguard their ability to get fair access to compensation. To do what? So they can give their corporate friends a huge shift in downward assessment so that they pass on $6 billion and give it to their corporate friends in the boardrooms across Ontario. All because of what? Because this government says: "We don't care about injured workers. We think that injured workers are getting too much and we want to put those savings on to the employers of this province, the special interests that represent this government."

The other thing they're going to do has a really direct effect for the people of Timmins. I come from a community that is very much a mining community. Over the years we have literally filled our graveyards with people who have worked in the mines and died from industrial diseases. Many people, former members of the United Steelworkers of America like Moe Sheppard, Omer Séguin, myself and others, have worked for years to get the Industrial Disease Standards Panel to recognize particular diseases as being caused by working underground, such as lung cancer and others.

The IDSP is responsible for looking at, in a scientific way: Is there a relationship between your work exposure and your cancer? The IDSP takes a look at that and if it says yes -- in this case it has -- there is a relationship, the changes are done to policies so that injured workers, in this case diseased workers, or many times the widows and survivors, the children, can get access to compensation. This government is throwing all that away. It means that in Ontario, once this legislation is passed, it will be virtually impossible for injured workers who happen to be diseased because they worked in mines to get justice.

I say, as the representative from Cochrane South, a community that comes from mining, shame on you, because what you are doing is immoral. I invite you to come to the cemeteries in Kirkland Lake, the cemeteries in Timmins, the cemeteries in South Porcupine. Our cemeteries are full of dead miners. What you are doing is turning the clock back more than 50 years to be able to give a break to your employer friends, and I say that's wrong.

To boot, you have the nerve, you have the audacity, to turn around to the widows, the people who are the survivors of those diseased miners, and their children and cut their benefits by 50%. I say to you that is totally immoral. These people didn't ask for their husband or their father to die; they died of an industrial disease caused by working underground. This government says, "This is good business stuff. This is how we attract investment into the province of Ontario," on the backs of the widows, on the backs of the kids. That's the price you want people to pay to live in Mike's Ontario. I say, that's not the vision of this province. I say, shame on this government.

They are also going to make changes to what is referred to in the field as WCAT, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Most people watching at home who look at the Workers' Compensation Board may think this is not a big deal. But what WCAT does is simply this: If you were an injured worker in the province and you were trying to get justice to the particular claim you had before the board and the policy didn't fit, in other words, you claim for compensation because something happened to you while working and you're saying you're not able to work or you have some kind of impairment because of that accident or whatever it might be and the policy doesn't fit, you bring your claim through the appeals process until finally you get to an independent Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal that has three members on the board: one representative of workers, one representative of the employer and the chair. They look at the facts based on law, and from there they make a decision. If the board policy is wrong, the policy is changed.

That is, quite frankly, one of the ways we were able to get lung cancer and other industrial diseases and many other injuries policies changes within workers' compensation so that workers, when they're injured, can get justice. The government laughs. They think this is funny. But what this means to say is that it will be virtually impossible for workers to be able to get justice through the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, because who's going to control it? It's going to be Mike Harris and it's going to be the Minister of Labour. It's going to be the cabinet of Ontario which is going to decide, because it controls the board, what the policy of the board is going to be, and workers will have absolutely no say, because what you're doing is you're saying the WCAT can't rule on anything outside of the policy of the board, that it only can see if the board has properly conducted itself in regard to the policy, and I say that's wrong.

The whole purpose of the WCAT is the same as a court: You look at what has happened, you look at the evidence, you look at the precedents, you look at it all, according to the policy of the board, and you make a decision. If the policy is wrong, it is adjusted.

I have literally hundreds and hundreds of widows in the city of Timmins who would have never got justice from the Workers' Compensation Board if WCAT had not been allowed to make the decision that it did in regard to a number of claims. What you are doing, you're going to make it impossible for those people in the future to get justice if such cases happen again, which they will, and I say to this government, you are wrong.

The other thing this government is doing is that it would like to bring forward another piece of legislation some time before Christmas and pass it into law, and that is the law that speaks to reducing the representation in northern Ontario by five MPPs.

Mr Pouliot: One third.

Mr Bisson: One third of the MPPs. The government stands here as if it's a virtue somehow to be able to reduce politicians, because politicians, after all, according to the Tory members, are a bad thing and we should get rid of them. But I tell you, as a member coming from northern Ontario, we have had problems for years, no matter the government, under the government of Bill Davis or others, in making sure that our voice in the north is able to be strong, is able to be loud and is able to be listened to not only within the Legislature but within the cabinet of Ontario.

When the government says it's going to reduce the number of representatives in northern Ontario by five, it is going to become more difficult for the north to find its voice at Queen's Park. I say to this government, there used to be a movement in northern Ontario about 10 or 15 years ago by Mr Deibel, if I remember the name correctly, who went around the province in the north and tried to get people to sign petitions to separate northern Ontario from the rest of the province. I don't subscribe to that; I believe we are one province.

But the thing you're doing with the changes you're making in the legislation, by reducing representation, all of the cuts you're doing that are willy-nilly, not looking at the realities of northern Ontario with regard to geography, the cuts that you are making at the Ministry of Transportation in regard to highway maintenance, there are more and more people in northern Ontario who are saying: "The Harris government does not speak for me. I don't, as a northerner, see myself in the vision of this government." More and more, they're becoming not happy with the agenda of this government, to the point that, quite frankly, people may start talking about at one time trying to form their own province.


I don't think that would be a positive step, but I say to the government, you are encouraging that movement. I say to the government, you're wrong. You should do what you were elected to do, which is to govern for all the people of Ontario to make sure that no matter where you come from, either northern or central or southern Ontario, the cabinet of Ontario makes decisions for the betterment of all those regions. I say you are driving the north and you are driving others outside of the province of Ontario away by droves, and in the end nobody's going to be the better.

With that, I'd like to thank you for having this opportunity of debate.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It's indeed my pleasure to rise to finish the last couple of minutes of debate for the government side on I think a very important motion that's before us here today. As we've just seen demonstrated very passionately on the other side, members opposite have lots to say about the bills in question, a very extensive list of bills is before this House for second and third reading.

I find it intriguing that they could stand here today and make the kind of cases they make, yet suggest that we shouldn't have the opportunity to continue this debate with the fulsome opportunity provided by going to midnight sittings, something they did every single year that they sat. I would note that they didn't sit at all the last year they were in office, but in those years that the Legislature was allowed to sit, we always had midnight sittings both in the spring and the fall sessions.

I'd just like to touch very briefly on two bills. The first is the Fewer Politicians Act. I was privileged to sit in on the committee hearings that have criss-crossed the province. We've heard well over 100 representations from people who commented that while there were two camps, I think there was a concession from all parties that there was a need to look at riding redistribution, there is a need for that analysis every 10 years on how the population shifts within Ontario and there is a need to make sure there is fairness in the way that we come forward as representatives of the voters back in our home ridings.

There is no doubt that the status quo, which sees the riding of Rainy River have only 19,000 voters and yet the riding of York Centre boast 129,000 voters, six and a quarter times the number and growing at a remarkable rate -- there is no one in Rainy River, not one person who would stand up and look you in the eye and suggest that their vote should carry six and a quarter times the weight of a vote of somebody in Woodbridge. Something closer to fairness was generally conceded by all three parties. There are specifics that we continue to debate, but that's exactly why we want the opportunity to have midnight sittings, to ensure we have the time to dedicate to that bill and all the other bills.

The only other bill I'd like to mention very briefly is the Boxing Day act. It stands to reason that we would like to see that bill passed before December 26, given that the intent of the bill is to provide the opportunity to local businesses to make the decisions on how they wish to serve their customers. The bill continues to extend protection to workers who choose not to work on that day, who choose to maintain an extra day's holiday, but for those who want the extra day's pay, for the businesses that want to be part of the regrowth, the restimulation of the Ontario economy, they'll have that opportunity.

I thank you for the privilege of speaking.

Mr Bradley: Thank you for the opportunity to address the House on the issue of extending the hours of debate to midnight every night, that possibility being that the House will sit to midnight every night for the first two weeks of the month of December.

What everyone always asks is why the government doesn't introduce its controversial legislation at an earlier time. I should say from the beginning that I'm always delighted to sit till midnight. I'm delighted to sit to midnight any time, which must tell you something in itself. I do have other things to do from time to time, I want to say that.

I am a person who believes that it is fine to sit, but I want to deal with the issue of why the government is in this predicament. The reason the government is in this predicament is that it insists on bringing in controversial legislation near the end of the period of time we call the fall session or the spring session. When they bring that legislation in late and try to get an undertaking that it be passed quickly, we find that there is some opposition from the official opposition, the third party and the general public.

I understand the government wants to ram through as much legislation as possible. This is a revolutionary government. This is not the Davis administration. This is not the Conservatives of old. This is not the Conservatives of Jean Charest or at least his predecessor. This is not the Conservatives that you are talking about there. We are talking about the Reform Party sitting on the other side. I know the member for Grey-Owen Sound squired the Reform Party leader around his riding and signed the membership. I read that in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

It's always interesting to read the newspapers from various places across the province. Even though they tried to cut those newspapers out in the legislative library, I still get clippings from time to time, and whether it's the Owen Sound Sun Times, or the Sarnia Observer where the Conservative member for Sarnia, Mr Boushy, is denouncing the Minister of Health, or it's the member for Grey-Owen Sound denouncing everybody in the government, or whether it's the member for Scarborough East denouncing the town council of Cobourg, no matter who it is denouncing somebody, I read about it in the newspapers. I understand there's some considerable opposition even within government.

Let me tell you why bills take a certain period of time and why it's worthwhile on some occasions that they do. You all remember the legislation dealing with video lottery terminals. These are the electronic slot machines that the government wishes to place in every bar, in every restaurant, in every neighbourhood in the province of Ontario.

Why does the government want to do this? Why did the government want to rush this legislation through despite widespread opposition? I noticed a lot of people in the government benches had the flu that day. Why did the government want to rush that through? Because of the tax cut. They have to get some money to make up for the tax cut, and so they pressured the opposition. They wanted this bill to go through.

The Premier piously stood before the House and then before a media scrum outside the cabinet office and said, "Well, you know, we really don't intend to put them in bars and restaurants." I thought: "Well, this is a breakthrough. This is good news. The government has relented." Yes, they're putting them in these casinos. I'm not talking about the big casino in Windsor or Niagara Falls; I'm talking about the various casinos you want to put all over the province. Yes, they're going to do it there. Yes, they're going to put it in racetracks. Yes, they'll be in the large casinos, all of those places. I'm no fan of gambling in any of these places, but at least they were controlled places.

So I said: "Well, how can we help the Premier out? How can I help the Premier of this province?" I always am looking for ways to help the Premier out, and I will try a few years from now to help him out as well. But I stood in the House with an amendment and I said to the Premier, "If you truly do not want them in every bar and every restaurant and every neighbourhood and every street in Ontario," somehow I could help him out with an amendment. The amendment would read that they cannot go in bars and restaurants.

But I saw the lobbyists for the Ontario Restaurant Association, the restaurant and bars hotel association and other lobbyists outside rubbing their hands, waiting for the bill to come through. I saw the Premier on television. He was at a fund-raiser and he was saying members should be back voting for this. Some of them, as I say, had the flu because they didn't agree with this particular legislation.

Why did the opposition take additional time on that bill? It was because we truly believed that it would be detrimental to the province. And what we achieved, if anything, was centring some public attention on the issue and having the Premier suggest that perhaps they wouldn't move quickly into the bars and restaurants. Make no mistake, that's where they want it. Why do they want it? Because of the risky tax scheme this government's embarking upon.


Today I saw the Dominion Bond Rating Service -- hardly a bastion of socialism or ultraliberalism; I always found these people to be pretty conservative. We in the opposition kept telling the government backbenchers, "No matter what the whiz kids in the Premier's office tell you, no matter what the cabinet tells you, and some of those people know better, you're going to have to borrow the money to give a tax cut." The Dominion Bond Rating Service today recognized that when dealing with the budgetary policies of this government.

All the people who believed it, all the people who said, "Those people in the cabinet must be smart; otherwise they wouldn't be in the cabinet" -- of course, that isn't necessarily true, as we all know. Particularly those who are not in the cabinet would know that. I sat in the cabinet and I know if I could sit in the cabinet surely that wasn't --

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): We rest our case.

Mr Bradley: You may rest your case, as you say, but what I'm pointing out to the members of the government back benches is they gave you this line that somehow, Conservatives all, you wouldn't have to borrow money to give a tax cut. But I look at it. It's very simple. If you are running a deficit and you don't have the money to give a tax cut, then you have to borrow the money to give a tax cut.

How that makes any sense at all, I don't know, because I see some real right-wingers in the government caucus, I see some sensible, moderate right-wingers in here, some of whom counselled the government on this. I look across the floor at some who counselled the government: the member for Wellington -- a very moderate individual; the member for Grey-Owen Sound -- not moderate but certainly a person who's sensitive to the real needs of many people in this province; the member for Lakeshore, Morley Kells, who writes columns in the Toronto Star from time to time that are just excellent and I commend them to you for your reading; the Speaker of the House, the Honourable Chris Stockwell, member for Etobicoke West. All of them said: "You know, Premier, this isn't a good idea. This will not add up because one of two things is going to happen. We're either going to have to cut more deeply or we're not going to be able to deliver on our bizarre tax scheme."

One thing I will say is that you haven't delivered on the tax scheme. Some people would say: "Isn't this awful. You should be up denouncing the government because they're taking so long to implement it. They're delaying it." A lot of people forget that. I'm not condemning you for that, because I'm saying you're simply facing the reality that the opposition brought to your attention, and that is that you can't meet your fiscal targets, your deficit elimination targets, without making even more drastic cuts. So they'll be closing hospitals in Wiarton and Owen Sound and Oakville and Sarnia. I see they're closing one of the hospitals in Sarnia and they're doing something to the hospital that's just outside.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): We've got one in Owen Sound.

Mr Bradley: You never know, Bill. They might close it in Owen Sound as well. You see, when you reply to the interruptions, then the member gets his name in the Hansard and I always want the member for Grey-Owen Sound to get his name in Hansard from time to time.

Anyway, here's the Dominion Bond Rating Service today and what do they say? This is a bastion of conservatism, I believe. They say the following: "The tax rate cut is the single largest challenge to the government's balanced budget objective. The 1996 budget estimates annual forgone revenue from full implementation of the provincial income tax rate cut at $4.8 billion. Dominion Bond Rating Service estimates that the equivalent of 88% of the increase in tax revenue resulting from economic growth over the next three years will be required to finance the tax reduction."

Let me read that sentence again because this is very key: "The 1996 budget estimates annual forgone revenue from full implementation of the provincial income tax rate cut at $4.8 billion. Dominion Bond Rating Service estimates that the equivalent of 88% of the increase in tax revenue resulting from economic growth over the next three years will be required to finance the tax reduction."

It goes on to say, "This is an ambitious and difficult schedule to implement," talking about the whole process. So what's going to happen is you're going to have to borrow the money plus you're going to have to make deeper cuts.

When I look at members, particularly from the rural ridings, and see some of the services that are cut -- I know, for instance, that senior citizens and others who have to access the Ministry of Transportation offices now have to go many miles. When they're taking some tests they have to go to, the driver examination centres are gone in so many places and these people have to go to other municipalities where they're not familiar with the roads to take the tests as you centralize. That is a consequence again of the foolish tax scheme that you got into and that the backbenchers used to applaud. I note now that the applause is much more muted than it was in the past.

When we're looking at the pace this House moves at and why we're into additional sittings till midnight, we look at how quickly the government is moving. Does the government have a mandate? Of course it does. Was the government elected? Yes, it was, not with over 50%, but that's the accepted process; the government got about 46%.

Mr Chudleigh: In Halton North it was 65%.

Mr Bradley: It was 65% in Halton North says the member for Halton North. We know that's a definite swing riding. We can expect that to go back the other way next time. But when we look across the province we see that the government was elected with about 46% of the vote. I accept that because I've always respected the viewpoint as expressed by the voters on election day. That is a decision they make.

You look at it and you say 46%, though, is not 50%, so the government should be widely consulting, the government should be proceeding, as true Conservatives do, with caution and care. Instead, we've got the bulldozer out, we've got the Reform Party bulldozer out and the government is attempting to engage in the wrecking of many of the institutions in this province that my friend from Brockville helped to build. I know he was a strong supporter of Suncor and he was a strong supporter -- I may have this wrong. I'm sorry, I may have this wrong. He was part of the government, I know that. At least I can say that. He was part of the government.

What I want to say to you is that the government in my view and I think in the view of many people in this province is moving far too quickly, far too drastically and not looking at the consequences of its actions. With more thought, with more consultation, with more consensus, this government would find that much of the opposition to some of its initiatives would disappear or at least be far less than it is today.

I worry about my colleagues on the government side and this side who will have hospitals closing, because I can't remember one Conservative candidate anywhere in the province who ran on a mandate of closing hospitals, yet I see the government heading around with its commission closing hospitals. Three out of five in Thunder Bay, two out of three in Sudbury, two out of three in the Sarnia area are in effect either closed or drastically changed, and I don't recall any Conservative candidate talking about that. That will come back to haunt you.

I was re-reading a chapter in the book Boom, Bust and Echo, because I wanted to look at the medical field and see what he had to say. One of the things the author said was that governments should be cautious when moving towards the closing of hospitals. He didn't deny that there would be a need for changing the delivery of medical care in some circumstances. I think a lot of people accept that. We want to see more home care. We recognize there are advances in surgery and technology. But he said, "Do not proceed quickly to close hospitals, because you'll be scrambling 10 or 15 years from now to reopen them." Why? You simply look at the demographics. That's what his book deals with when he says Boom, Bust and Echo. He's talking about the demographics of this province.


You people are forgetting that the population is aging and that, on average, all of us will need to access hospitals far more as we get into advanced ages than we do perhaps at the present time in many of our circumstances. That is a fact of life. What are you going to do? You're going to close hospitals. Why are you doing it? In some cases I think there's a genuine concern out there that we look at efficiency, and I accept that, but in so many of the cases it's driven by the foolish tax scheme and trying to make the further cuts. Any conservative economist will tell you -- it's in the conservative economists' textbook -- that if you cut drastically at the same time that you are cutting taxes, the effect is a constraining effect on the economy, not an expanding effect.

I've talked to the Tory -- I shouldn't say Tory -- small-c conservative economists and every one of them tells me that's the case. You have to check with two or three or four or five. To say, "Is this just one person?" no, it isn't. I think of Dr Joseph Kushner, Brock University, who I consider to be a very conservative economist, who certainly says that and who on St Catharines city council moved a motion asking that the provincial government not implement its 30% tax cut, because he saw the consequences of that.

I look at another thing we see as the government proceeds and wants to get the legislation through quickly. The term a "bullying" government has been used. I think there's perhaps a truth to that. It's certainly an intimidating government when I looked at -- and as I say, I was reading the paper the other day -- the harsh comments of the member for Scarborough East about the Cobourg council. I don't know what it was about, but they were not approving his development or something like that.

Mr Gilchrist: Come on, Jim.

Mr Bradley: What was it about?

Mr Gilchrist: Point of order.

Mr Bradley: You get up on a point of order and tell me what it was about.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): A point of order? First of all, you're not in your seat.

Mr Bradley: He's got to be in his seat. I'll give him a chance to get into his seat because I want to hear what this is about. I just read the newspaper.

Mr Gilchrist: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I would ask the member to withdraw the comment. He himself admitted he had no idea what he was talking about, and to just --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. This is not a point of privilege. Please take your seat. The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: What I'm talking about is the general attitude of the government towards others. I read in the Cobourg newspaper that the member had spoken harshly of the Cobourg council. I would be afraid if I knew that a person who had been on the planning committee was talking about that, or a government member. When a government member speaks about these matters, particularly one who is as influential as the member for Scarborough East, the former president of the Conservative Party and a high-ranking member of the government caucus, that's when I get worried. Anyway, I will, in consideration of the member, go to something else because I know he's offended by this and I wouldn't want to offend him this afternoon, and instead look at what the government is doing.

I look at the district health councils. I met with them the other day, representatives of the district health council and our local restructuring commission. They've done a good job of consulting. They've gone across the Niagara Peninsula and looked at all of the services that are needed and some of the services they believe may not be needed, and they've taken a very careful look at the circumstances facing health care delivery in the Niagara region. Unfortunately, they start from the premise that the government is going to deliver some $38 million less in funding for local hospitals than would have been the case previously. So when you say to them, "Would you come forward with a plan?" that motivates them to want to close hospitals. It's engaging in what I call crackpot realism. In other words, the realism is that this government, to finance its tax cut, is going to reduce expenditures on hospitals by $38 million in the Niagara region. Therefore, they buy into this crackpot realism and say, "Well, if they're going to cut off our entire leg, I suppose we'd better cut ourselves off at the knee so they won't cut off the whole leg." So you have local people now doing your dirty work, if you will, by recommending the closing of hospitals.

I think we've got a good commission in our area. They've looked at a lot of needs. I respect the people on that commission. But the problem is that they start out by getting $38 million less for the operation of hospitals in the Niagara region. We, particularly as an area that has more senior citizens than others, simply cannot sustain that.

The government is going around in many places silencing people. AMO is a great example. My mind boggles at the reaction of AMO to some things. But you talk to individual members of councils and they have a different story. I want to say this: The government is very good at delivering to their rich and powerful friends. That's a point that I think could be truly said to be true.

The other day the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing stood up and said, "Notwithstanding that municipalities incur considerable new costs when development takes place, we're going to restrict those municipalities and their ability to provide for development charges." Well, Hazel McCallion, certainly no shrinking violet, was quick --

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): And a good friend of yours.

Mr Bradley: A very good friend of mine -- was very quick to point out the problem with this: that you're giving less money to the municipalities in transfer payments, far less to the municipalities. Then in the one area where they can tax, if we can say that, or provide for charges for the new services and established services, they're taking that away from them.

This indeed will cause a building boom in Ontario, because you're going to have to build huge halls to hold your fund-raisers because they'll be full of developers. Right behind them will be people from insurance and right behind them the other people for whom you are doing favours: the rich and powerful in this province. So there will be a building boom, I will concede that, of new halls to hold your fund-raisers.

There's something else I wanted to talk about. This is a good opportunity. What you are doing with municipalities when you keep money away from them -- and my friend the member for Grey, who used to be in municipal government back in the old days of severances, back in municipal government, will understand this -- you are now, by denying municipalities appropriate funding, placing them in positions where they can't even defend their own interests, an appropriate interest.

In the Niagara area the regional council, in its lack of wisdom, against the advice of those who developed the official plan, totally contrary to the official plan of Niagara region, have approved a new residential and big-box commercial development just outside the city of St Catharines.

I've heard people say we must help our downtown areas, we must help the areas already established in cities to have good planning principles. What has happened? Niagara-on-the-Lake now has proposed a new development along the Queen Elizabeth Highway on lands, and I usually plead for the saving of agricultural land. This isn't even agricultural land. It was land specifically set aside for prestige industrial development, for instance, computer-type industries. What do they do? They want to slap houses way out into the countryside and big-box commercial.

The city of St Catharines, which opposes this and has developed a case against it, last night abandoned the case. I happen to disagree with St Catharines city council in abandoning that case, by the way, but I want to tell you why they did it. They didn't do it because of the lack of principle. They did it because of lack of money, because their anticipation was that the case would be costly, and there's no guarantee, of course, when you go to the Ontario Municipal Board, that you can win it.

In denying municipalities the funds they need you have a circumstance where you've got bizarre development taking place. The only hope is that somebody in the cabinet takes a look at this and says how bizarre it is. Let me tell you it's not because it's an adjacent municipality. If my own municipality, St Catharines, were proposing the same development I would be equally critical. There may be instances where that will happen. It's unfortunate, as I say, because they will not be able to defend their position only because they don't have the financial resources to do so.


I heard it mentioned by the government House leader -- let me go to something else. There's something else I raised, called Twenty Valley Estates, which is on the table lands of the escarpment, right adjacent to escarpment lands in the Niagara area. There's a new subdivision proposed for it. It's clearly outside the urban boundaries of the town of Lincoln, and what happens? It gets approval, again a bad planning decision. There's nothing more beautiful than the Niagara Escarpment. My friend from Grey-Owen Sound will agree with me. To see it annihilated, desecrated by development is most unfortunate.

There are lots of places where we should have development. I agree, it's good and I'm happy to see that kind of development take place and redevelopment take place. It's good for the province; it's good for our economy. But why would you take the Niagara Escarpment and start building subdivisions all over it? They're called prestige estate homes. I hope the cabinet hasn't made a decision. There are a couple of members of cabinet here today who I think are pretty sensible people. I hope they will look at this and say: "Here's a chance for a government to make a good environmental decision. Here's a chance for a government to look into the future and not simply for the quick profit that can be made."

One of the people who wrote to me about it is involved in the grape and wine industry. We've got a lot of people. I think the Tory caucus was down in the Niagara region, so they saw some of this kind of industry developing. What is really good is that people like seeing some rural lands and the wineries right there where the product is produced. That's a real inducement for tourism. There's a lot of money to be made in that. That's positive development. But simply to slap up more subdivisions is totally bizarre. I hope the cabinet, which has jurisdiction over this, will make a good decision and deny that particular development.

I have people now calling my constituency office, as I'm sure others do, who are being denied medical services. I know it's not easy when governments are in negotiations. I don't pretend it is. I'd never be unfair enough to say it isn't a difficult time. But when I see people who cannot get medical services from specialists and I see some further confinement of medical services I become concerned. I always hope, and I'm not on the inside of negotiations, there are sincere negotiations taking place between those who are withdrawing their services and the government to find a resolution to this problem. I hope that doesn't come out of the blood of the patients of this province. In other words, I hope this government doesn't engage in delisting of services.

Already we have new fees being implemented in hospitals where chronic care patients or those they wish to say are chronic care patients, senior citizens mostly, will have to pay a sum of I think $40 a day. This is a new charge I didn't hear about. I listened carefully to what my Conservative friends said during the campaign. I didn't hear about that kind of charge. Those are seniors. We have a minister who's speaking for seniors, supposedly. I wonder why perhaps he didn't speak to the cabinet and suggest that this shouldn't happen, and other members who I think have a concern about senior citizens.

I see the red tape bills. They want those through quickly. Sometimes red tape is good; sometimes it's bad. I think regulations that are set up, for instance, to prevent you from being financially annihilated by quick sales people -- driveway paving people and house repair people, for instance, we have regulations there. We have regulations which were put in place to protect the consumer and to protect the environment. That's what people forget when they start wanting to get rid of all of the regulations holus-bolus.

My good friend the member for Lincoln is in charge of the committee. I know he will want to be careful when he removes those regulations that they aren't regulations which will hurt the environment by removing them. I know he wouldn't want to do that because he is a good friend of mine and he would want to listen carefully to that counsel.

Now you're moving forward with this bill on workers' compensation which is going to be detrimental to many of our vulnerable people in our society. As many have said, this isn't to suggest we shouldn't always be looking at the operation of the Workers' Compensation Board and seeing if it can be better run and more efficient. Everybody agrees with that. But what you have done is a penalty to people who, through no fault of their own, have been injured on the job.

In our area we need the worker adviser's office of the Workers' Compensation Board in Thorold because we have many people -- I hear the government is going to close that, or could close it. I hope not. You're still the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour. He nods in a negative fashion that that isn't the case. I'll take his word and I'll look upon that joyously as his guarantee that the government will not be closing the office of the worker adviser in Thorold. I've taken that as his word and I will send that back to the local people, who will be delighted to hear that news because it's extremely important.

Mr Baird: Our bill does not close it. Our bill does not do that.

Mr Bradley: He's now saying the bill doesn't say that. Well, that's interesting to hear.

I see that you are cutting some 600 jobs from the Ministry of Transportation in the inspection field. I'm very concerned about that. When we started out --

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): It's not true, Jim.

Mr Bradley: Well, I read that in a press release. The member says it's not true. My understanding -- and he will correct me some day in this House no doubt if he feels it's different -- is that we have a situation where 600 inspectors, I read in a press release, are going to be released from employment and this is going to be turned over to the private sector.

I'm wondering if there's going to be anybody left to be in the building in St Catharines when the minister comes down to cut the ribbon. Will there be anybody left or will it be an empty building? It's had shovels put in and shovels put out and everybody's done something with that building. When I had the pleasure of joining in the announcement, along with Premier Peterson, that 1,400 jobs and a new building would be coming to downtown St Catharines, people were delighted. Now we'll be lucky to have 500 jobs around there and we'll have an empty building. You'll be getting people out of other buildings owned by the private sector into this government building. I know my friend from Grey-Owen Sound -- I'll invite him to see this -- will be appalled by that.

We have schools. There's apparently going to be some legislation coming in to deal with the field of education. Again already the government has backed off on a deadline of some consultation, and I think that's wise. I think the capitulation to those who have asked that the government back off in this regard is wise. What we're seeing in education are larger classes, special services to special needs students being lost, junior kindergarten, which is very helpful in students getting a head start, being eliminated in many areas, adult education delivered by the high schools being eliminated in many circumstances, and the Minister of Education and Training gets up and says this is not a detrimental effect on education; it's not in the classroom. Indeed it is, and he should know that.

I just read the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's annual report. It says, "Best year ever." You've got Andy Brandt as the chair, good person that he is, a former Conservative leader, business person. Why on earth you would want to be closing or at least turning this over to the private sector, I'll never know. First of all, it's a cash cow for the government. But more important, the way we market our alcoholic beverages in this province is the envy of many places. It's not the old days where the hours were severely restricted, where the conditions were awful for people to have to go in. They are now modern stores. They are convenient stores for people. They have good staff in there working hard in the LCBOs. Students or young people have a very hard time getting these beverages if they're under age.


The last Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations said this wasn't the case, gave some bizarre idea that in the private sector it was better policed. Well, just go to Niagara Falls, New York, and see how much better it's policed. It isn't, and that's not what you want. We've got a good system. The reason I'm even more supportive of it than most people is it's been good for the marketing of Ontario wine, using Ontario grapes grown in this province and wine produced in this province. It's been a good vehicle for us to be able to market that product and finally gain it the kind of recognition it has deserved because of the high quality of wine and grape juice which is produced in Ontario.

So please do not make a mistake just based on ideology. I know there's an ideological thread that goes through particularly many of the new members there, who believe that somehow if it's the public sector or semi-public sector it can't be any good and that everything must be privatized. This is one example where you should make a good, commonsense decision and retain the Liquor Control Board of Ontario for the people of this province. The testing of the product is well done. The stores are clean and well run. It's good product they produce. They've really improved, and I want to give Andy Brandt the credit where it's due. He has worked hard to make those kinds of improvements. So I hope you will make sure those improvements are left in place.

So when we debate this resolution, and I have only a couple of minutes left to deal with it, I say that we in the opposition are prepared to deal with government legislation. We hope that when it goes to committee and there are public hearings -- and we think it's wise to have public hearings on such things as the act affecting fire safety and firefighters in this province. We fought for and got those changes; in other words, those hearings across the province. When we have changes to rent control which in effect mean the end of rent control in this province -- and the applause will come again from the large developers and the very large landlords who are affected by this -- when we eliminate rent control in this province to please your ideology and to please the richest people of the province, then I know who you are catering to. But you must expect there's going to be a full and frank debate of that piece of legislation, as there should be in all legislation.

I hope the government learned its lesson with Bill 26, the huge bully bill, the omnibus bill which took the power from the elected members and gave it to the cabinet, and in particular to the people in the Premier's office, the senior advisers who are not elected, people nobody can get at. I hope the government has learned its lesson. I look forward to debating fully and comprehensively each piece of legislation that comes before us until midnight every night before Christmas.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to take just a couple of minutes and comment on this motion. What's interesting of course is to listen to the government backbenchers, particularly the new members, spout off about how they're the only ones who care about democracy and they're the only ones who are prepared to come here and work and that's why they're the only ones who are going to support this motion to sit for the next two weeks until midnight, which of course is wrong on all accounts. The fact of the matter is that we will be supporting that particular motion. The reality is that in and of itself, it's not a big deal. It's fairly routine that every year the last two weeks of the sitting we extend to sit until midnight to allow the government an opportunity to deal with as much of their legislation as is reasonably possible.

But of course, as is the wont of this government, they had wanted and expected that we would just let this motion go whizzing by, let it be rammed through, it's not important. They don't want to have the kinds of debate that this two hours -- and the rules allow a two-hour debate on this kind of a motion -- they don't want to have the kinds of debates and criticisms that come up in the two hours that are allowed, and who can blame them.

Any government that has to sit there and listen to critics is not happy about it but, given this government's agenda and the way that you've gone after people on every single front, we can see why it would be absolute anathema to you that you would have to sit here and have all of what you've done to the people of Ontario thrown back at you. We know you don't like to give people their say. My colleague from St Catharines talked on a few of the things, and I want to go back over some of the issues where the history is there to be seen. You either didn't want, refused or had to be brought kicking and screaming into the public arena to allow people to have their say.

We remember Bill 7, the anti-worker Bill 7, one of the most draconian pieces of legislation ever brought in. In that piece of legislation you made scabs legal again in the province of Ontario and that brought violence to picket lines that didn't exist after we passed Bill 40 and said that scabs are no longer welcome in Ontario and they're no longer legal in Ontario. You changed that.

You also took away the rights of public sector workers to maintain the collective agreement that they negotiated in a democratic, fair way when you privatized the work out from under them. Why did you do that? Quite simply because when you sell and privatize all the public services to your Tory friends, you don't want to hand them collective agreements that require half-decent wages to be paid and half-decent benefits and a decent grievance procedure and all the other protections and rights that one has in a collective agreement. No, no. You wanted to free your corporate entrepreneurial friends who were going to buy up these public services; you wanted to free them from the bonds of an ungodly collective agreement.

You made it unlawful to carry that collective agreement and the rights and privileges that workers had from one employer to the next as they do in the private sector. It still remains in the private sector, but you took it away from public sector workers as part of your privatization plan. You rammed that bill through without one day of public hearings -- not one hour, not one minute. You rammed it through, and it wasn't just an amendment to the Ontario Labour Relations Act. Oh, no. Just like your new Bill 99, the WCB legislation, it's not a mere amendment. You are replacing, and you did under Bill 7 replace, the Ontario Labour Relations Act in its entirety, with not one minute of public hearings. And you want to stand here today and talk about democracy? What hypocrisy. What hypocrisy to talk about democracy when you take something that important to the millions of working people in this province and you don't allow one minute of public hearings.

What happens after you've taken away those rights? That's not good enough, because once you've dealt with those who have a collective agreement, now you've got to turn your guns and go after those who don't have collective agreements. So then we had not that long ago Bill 49, the Employment Standards Act changes. This was the bill introduced last May that was just a very simple, minor housekeeping bill with nothing that anybody should get too excited about, so, "No, there won't be any public hearings."

Your plan was to make that law within a few weeks, and it took us days and days and days of pressure inside this Legislature, in the labour movement, outside in communities, working on the backbenchers, working on the ministers, telling them that this is unacceptable, before we finally dragged you into province-wide public hearings. Lo and behold, what happened when we got them out there on Bill 49, their takeaway of employment standards rights? They got creamed in every community. Over 90% of the presentations were against your legislation. That was a piece of --


Mr Christopherson: What I'm hearing from the member over to my left here, who still hasn't learned that he should be a little more careful with his quips, he says that's not true. I defy him to debate with me any time, anywhere as to what the total percentage of presenters were in favour and opposed.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): It's a setup.

Mr Christopherson: You got creamed on that. He says it's a setup. Why did you agree to take it out in the first place? Because you knew you couldn't defend it, that's why.

That's what you tried to do in Bill 49 and we dragged you out across the province and you got beat up something awful, and why? For the simple reason that you were taking away rights and you said you weren't and we were able to prove, yes, you were. You did take away rights. Once you dealt with people who had collective agreements, then you went after those who didn't have collective agreements.

Then what did you do? When we look back in the history books, we see what happened with Bill 26, to make the case that you're the most non-democratic government we've ever had. My colleague from the Liberal Party has already talked about how much power you took from the floor of this Legislature and individual elected members, all the things you mouth about being important.

The reality is, you backbenchers supported ramming Bill 26 through. Most of you probably still don't know what the hell is in there, but the fact of the matter is that you tried to ram it through in the dying days of the session going into Christmas. What did it take for us to force you to be democrats, to actually accept that there's a democratic tradition in this province? What did it finally take?

Not mere debate, not mere pressure, not mere placards, it took a member of this Legislature, Alvin Curling, to actually sit here and allow us to take over this Legislature, and you caved in because you couldn't defend ramming it through. That's why we ended up with at least a couple of weeks in January.


Mr Christopherson: You can moan and groan, but there's the history and there are the facts and that's the way it went down. You didn't have the ability to withstand that pressure because you didn't have ground to stand on. It was a massive undemocratic move that you finally got held accountable for and you had to back down, just like you did on Bill 49 and just like you had to on WCB, because when we talk about WCB -- I've only got a minute left and I want to make two points.

WCB: Your leaked cabinet document that I made public a couple of weeks ago said that you were going to make that law by the end of December and you know full well that committees by rules of this House cannot travel the province while the House is sitting. So clearly you had no intention of holding province-wide public hearings. You were going to ram through yet another bill. But there was enough pressure and outrage out there that the minister was finally forced just the other day to admit that she had no choice but to give province-wide public hearings. That's what you did there.

The last bill I want to mention is Bill 84. You want to talk about democracy and public input and consultation? Go talk to the firefighters because they remember, as I do, the video of then leader of the third party Mike Harris making a promise to their convention, a promise -- I've seen the video -- where he said, "We will consult with firefighters before we make any changes."

You introduced Bill 84, no consultation with firefighters, and there were over 2,000 of them out on the front lawn to express their gratitude for your giving to democracy. That's how they felt about it, firefighters, very peaceable people. You've taken on virtually everyone. You have no right morally to stand up here and talk about democracy. You know nothing about it. The only democracy is what we force you into.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Johnson, the government House leader, has moved government notice of motion number 11. Shall the motion carry? Carried.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 82, An Act to establish the Family Responsibility Office, protect the interests of children and spouses through the strict enforcement of support orders while offering flexibility to responsible payors and make consequential amendments to certain statutes / Projet de loi 82, Loi créant le Bureau des obligations familiales, visant à protéger les intérêts des enfants et des conjoints grâce à l'exécution rigoureuse des ordonnances alimentaires tout en offrant une certaine souplesse aux payeurs responsables, et apportant des modifications corrélatives à des lois.

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

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. You caught me in the middle of an ice cube.

We are now on Bill 82 and this is a bill which deals with family support. In case some of the members were absent yesterday, I might just go over some of the points I made yesterday about this bill and why we're there. What the government has done is created chaos in the family support plan. It is always difficult to administer. I'm a fairminded person, I say. I know it's difficult for any government to administer a plan where there are changes constantly taking place in individual circumstances. No question about that; that is difficult.

However, I thought the regional offices in places such as Hamilton and other areas in the province were at least helpful in dealing with the problems that people brought to our attention. The government, in its obsession with making huge cuts to finance its risky tax scheme for which it is going to have to borrow billions of dollars to give a tax break, has instead decided that it will centralize. That's the mode of this government: centralization. The next thing you'll know they'll want regionalization throughout the province; they'll want regional governments everywhere and they'll want to eliminate local governments, the only government you can really get at and relate to. The same principle was applied in this area. You eliminated the regional offices, where people could visit and see somebody perhaps on a personal basis to discuss a problem, to bring the necessary documentation to try to resolve the problem, and you centralized them.

As the lawyers say, be that as it may, I don't agree with it, but if that's the route you are going to take, it's important that what you're going to replace the regional offices with is going to be in place before you close the regional offices down. That's why we have chaos. I hope it will be resolved. Many components of this bill are entirely supportable. You'll find the opposition parties in favour of them. There are a few contentious issues in the bill but many of them are very supportable. It's important to canvass these issues carefully. It's important to have the public hearings, because there are both men and women who have complaints about the system and have suggestions on how it can be improved.

By creating chaos in the system you have managed to unite many formerly warring spouses because the complaints are not simply coming from one side now; the majority of complaints I'm getting are coming from the recipient of the funds, the person with the children, most often a woman in this case who know that the other spouse, the husband in most cases, is providing the money, is having the money deducted at work, what I guess you'd call a garnishee. But somewhere in between the money isn't getting from one to another, and as a result the one spouse and in particular the children are suffering. This is because you're moving too quickly, too drastically and not looking at the consequences.

As I say, even if I disagree with you, at least have your plan ready to go into effect before you make the change. That's going to be important in all the legislation with which you deal. Be ready. Have it in effect. Have consulted, get the bugs out of it and then you can implement your plan. This bill will pass. It may even pass with the support of the opposition parties. We'll see by the time the final changes are made to the legislation. But the system itself is broken.

The Attorney General of this province has stood in the House and tried to defend this system. We in the opposition believe the Attorney General would have been better to say, "We moved too quickly, we didn't look at the consequences and we're not ready for the changes," and then try to fix it. As the member for Nickel Belt said the other day, there would be a lot more credibility if that were the case. Instead we simply get a recital of statistics.

I hope this problem is being resolved. I don't take pleasure in having to stand in the House and bring all these problems to the attention of the Attorney General. I wish they were resolved because people are suffering as a result. People are very vulnerable. People are very desperate. That's why I believe it would be important for all of us to see this problem solved.


The Attorney General has decided, because he had his marching orders -- I'm sure it wasn't because he wanted to -- from the brain trust in the government, that he had to cut again, much more extensively than he ever contemplated. As the Dominion Bond Rating Service said, the tax cut is causing this government to take actions it had no intention of taking, because you have to borrow money to give the tax cut. I think it fits very well with this bill. I'm going to read an important sentence from the Dominion Bond Rating Service report that is out today because it fits this bill and because some members may not have been in the House when I said this before.

"The tax rate cut is the single largest challenge to the government's balanced budget objective. The 1996 budget estimates annual forgone revenue from full implementation of the provincial income tax rate cut at $4.8 billion. Dominion Bond Rating Service" -- and this is a key line -- "estimates that the equivalent of 88% of the increase in tax revenue resulting from economic growth over the next three years will be required to finance the tax reduction." Then it goes on to say, in other words, you're going to have to cut even further.

That's why we're going to have decisions made that are unwise. One example is the decision to close the regional offices of the family support plan before there was an alternative plan in place; I think an alternative plan which isn't as good, but nevertheless it wasn't even in place. It's all being dictated by this bizarre tax scheme that you people are pushing forward with, although as some would say -- I had a person call my office the other day who said: "Well, why are you saying they're implementing the tax cut? I haven't seen any of this money yet; for all the talk of it, I haven't seen the money."

Indeed they're right: The government has postponed the implementation of the tax cut. That's annoyed many of the true believers and followers. It hasn't annoyed me because I understand why, but it is contrary to what the government promised. We're seeing a broken promise there. But that, I'm saying, is understandable. I think you should follow the procedure which says that when you've balanced the budget, that's the time you look at across-the-board tax cuts. You don't look at across-the-board tax cuts while you have to borrow money to be able to give me and others in this province a tax cut, the richest of course getting the most.

The Speaker holds the bill up for me to see because he wishes to have me relate this to the bill, something I don't recall the member for Etobicoke West doing in days gone by or worrying excessively about but sitting in the chair today must do so.

I think you made a drastic error. I hope some of the provisions of this legislation will be helpful, though I think you should think of the consequences of some of them. While the penalties for those who are genuinely breaking the rules are good penalties, you have to make sure that people aren't being hurt by this in another way. In other words, that's why you have to have the hearings, so both sides in the dispute can bring forward their comments, because there is virtually always a second side, and sometimes many sides, to an issue.

I know many other members of this House will wish to discuss this bill further and I look forward to the very positive comments that will be forthcoming from others. The New Democratic Party will be next on my remarks, and I thank the members for their indulgence this afternoon.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've listened to the debate over Bill 82 -- it has been very brief to date -- and I've also heard the parliamentary assistant jump to his feet and protest to the effect that somehow it's his insistence that people who have been speaking to Bill 82 have not spent enough time applauding what he would tell us are the good things in it.

There has been debate about that and, quite frankly, on Thursday of this week I'll be following Marilyn Churley, the member for Riverdale, who will be speaking to this on Thursday, November 28. She'll be speaking to it around a quarter to 4 in the afternoon, and I'll be speaking to it later in the day. Undoubtedly, we will have more members speaking to it come Monday. But if you think that Ms Churley or myself or any other member of this caucus or, quite frankly, the opposition is going to overlook the fact that this government has dismantled the family support plan -- they have shut it down. It's moot to talk about new enforcement measures when they haven't been able to deliver on the plan as it exists now.

The problem is we know why. We listened to the Attorney General for week after week after week as he somehow tried to trivialize the cases that were being brought forward to him and suggest that, "Oh, they were the exceptions and not the rule." We found out what the case really was, that the family support plan is in storage. It's in cold storage in a warehouse in Downsview. It's packaged in cardboard moving boxes -- boxes and boxes and boxes of files, boxes and boxes of mail. This government has put the family support plan out of business, out of commission. They've got a lot of nerve suggesting that these amendments are going to change the reality of their gross mismanagement.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I think this is the fourth day that we've been debating this particular bill. All members of the House acknowledge that there are problems, although not all members of the House acknowledge that there have been -- I think, outstanding now the system is receiving 8,000 letters a day. It's receiving 50,000 telephone calls a day. It has about 150 files that are outstanding that people are working on. We know --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): One hundred and fifty?

Mr Tilson: That's right.

Mr Crozier: I've got 150 in my office.

Mr Tilson: Well, okay. Then it's even higher, and that's all the more reason why we're changing this particular system. The decentralized system hasn't worked. The whole system of assisting people hasn't worked. The whole idea of the number of payors who simply are avoiding payments is unbelievable, and we're listing all the various examples. We're increasing the ways in which people --

Mr Kormos: You put in storage, you shut it down, it's in chaos.

Mr Tilson: The member for Welland-Thorold is going on, Mr Speaker, and it's that very tactic of delay that's causing problems in this province. I'm simply suggesting that this bill, if we got on with it, if we passed it, if you allowed us to pass it instead of stalling, particularly the way the members of the third party continue to stall on this thing, we would be able to solve many of these problems. I would strongly recommend that all members of this House try and work together with the government to solve this problem instead of simply your petty criticisms. I urge the House to vote on this bill so that we can help the women and children of this province.


The Speaker: Order.

Interjection: Let's vote on it right now.

Mr Tilson: Exactly. Someone said, "Let's vote on it right now," and I think that's a good idea. The problem can be solved if only you stopped your delaying tactics and allowed us to deal with it now.

The system clearly isn't working. You're a lawyer, member for Welland-Thorold. You know perfectly well what you do to advise clients. You tell clients, "Don't use this system." Why? Because the system isn't working. We want to make it work and we want to do it now.

Mr Crozier: I want to make a couple of comments in the two minutes I have. The member for Dufferin-Peel just now used the words "stalling" and "delaying." I can remember watching this Legislature a few years ago when the now Premier Mike Harris stood over there as leader of the third party and read off every lake, stream and river in the province of Ontario, which had absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand but was nothing but a filibustering, stalling tactic. Certainly if there is any stalling -- and I happen to think this is our democratic right, as it was his -- we certainly learned from an expert.


When the member for Dufferin-Peel also said that there are 150 outstanding cases, I wouldn't be surprised if there are 150,000 outstanding cases, because I have 150 in my office. I have two cases that I could refer to specifically. One is where the ex-husband and wife both agree that the payments he makes to the family support plan are being deducted from his salary. His employer has confirmed that, and yet the payments to the previous wife are stuck someplace in limbo. We also have example upon example of the hardship that this is bringing to families. It's just the case where no plan was in place before the regional offices were closed. I agree, if the minister would simply stand up and take responsibility for it, why, it may be that he would be better understood.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I would like to commend the member for St Catharines on the speeches that he made both this afternoon and yesterday and I know he would want me to reinforce a couple of issues.

First of all, if the government was so concerned about getting this bill forward, then why did the government introduce this bill on October 1 and not call it for debate until November 20? This is a government that is so concerned about women and children who aren't receiving support, that is so concerned about payors who are trying to make payments into the system and that money isn't going to their families, but this government that's so concerned waited all those weeks before it even decided to call the bill. I remind the members who are here, on November 7 this party asked for unanimous consent for the Attorney General to begin debate on this bill and the government members turned that down. So for all your whining and bellyaching now about getting to this bill, let me tell you, you don't have very good ground to stand on when you're talking about how concerned you are about this bill.

Let me reinforce again that the tax cut and the Attorney General's desire to make his contribution to it are at the root of the crisis now. I've heard the member for Dufferin-Peel on more than one occasion say the system clearly isn't working. The system is in crisis right now, not because of previous governments but because of this Attorney General's conscious, blatant, partisan political decision that it was more important to finance the tax cut on the backs of these women and children than it was to ensure that people who used to get regular support payments would continue to do so.

That's the root of the crisis right now. Don't come in here and try and tell everyone and the public that the system isn't working. The system broke down in mid-August when your Attorney General decided to cut 290 staff and close the regional offices. That's how much he cares about women and children who need support payments.

The Speaker: Member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I hate to eat into the 6 o'clock news for many people who may be watching that, but I found the comments that were made very helpful. The parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General defended the government line, as he should. I think he's a person who I would recommend to the Premier would replace some of his colleagues in cabinet. I know it'll make him very happy to hear that. The two NDP members were most helpful and my Liberal colleague from Essex South; all very helpful in bringing forward the issues related to this bill, and I think there has been a good debate on this issue.

As I mentioned in a previous debate this afternoon, I share the view of the member for Sudbury East that if the government were so concerned about this bill, they should have brought it forward much earlier, should have debated it much earlier. Instead the government selected other bills to have debated in this House.

When there is a priority, the government demonstrates that priority, first of all, by introducing the bill early in the session and, second, by calling the bill for debate at an early point in the session. When it doesn't do so, there's a reason. I suspect -- and I don't want to be accused of being a suspicious or cynical person, because I'm not -- because of all the problems that were being experienced in the family support plan offices, that in fact that's why the government decided it would not bring this bill forward at an earlier point in time.

I think the government has at least heard from those of us in the opposition, and privately in the caucus meeting of the Conservatives, about all the problems that exist in the family support office. I hope the government has learned a lesson in dealing with this situation and I hope these matters can be resolved so that women and children in this province are not going to suffer further.

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

The House adjourned at 1806.