36th Parliament, 1st Session

L138 - Thu 12 Dec 1996 / Jeu 12 Déc 1996













































The House met at 1332.




Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I wish to draw to the attention of all members of this House the recommendation of the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council in the matter of the dental hygiene referral. Dental hygienists have asked for the legal right to self-initiate their authorized acts of scaling, root planing and curettage in specific situations without the necessity of an order from a dentist. The objective is to reflect current practice and facilitate access to needed oral hygiene care.

The council concluded, and I quote from page 24 of its report, "HPRAC is of the view that the proposed amendment, with the intended restrictions and safeguards allowing dental hygienists to self-initiative in specific situations, fulfils the public interest principles of access, equality, accountability and quality of care while not constituting an increased risk of harm to the public."

I understand that the former Minister of Health has asked the dental hygiene and dentistry regulatory colleges to try and arrive at a mutually agreeable regulatory solution rather than proceeding with a statutory amendment at this time. I note that the advisory council expressed reservations about this approach that the former minister had decided to take. The council very much supported a statutory solution. Nevertheless, we on this side hope against hope that a regulatory solution can be arrived at, and I advise the new Minister of Health and the two colleges that we will be watching very carefully for progress.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm happy to note that after weeks of silence, the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation has finally responded to the calls from the arts community and announced that she will be appealing the Ontario Court decision regarding the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

I want to congratulate the minister in doing that but also to ask her what took so long. It was exactly because of the complex issues which the ruling raised that the minister should have decided much earlier to proceed with appealing the decision rather than putting people through a month of turmoil as they awaited her decision and the government's decision. But I'm not surprised at that hesitation, because it's quite consistent with the approach that this minister and this government have been taking to the whole arts community today.

In fact, as I met this morning with the Ontario Arts Network, they painted a grim picture of the climate that they find themselves in today and that the whole arts community finds itself in. The Harris government is clearly responsible for that: $12 million cut from the Ontario Arts Council in one year; 40% slashed from arts service organizations.

Earlier this month we learned of the demise of two Ontario publishers, a direct result of the end of the provincial loan guarantee program, and more publishers are under threat when their guarantees are pulled at the end of this month. For very little cost, this program secured jobs and businesses. It may end up costing the taxpayer a lot more to wind down failed businesses than it would have cost to continue to support them with this program.

I want to say to this minister, you've put yourself back, at least on this decision, on the good road. I hope you will continue to go back on the good road to supporting the arts --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph): Imagine if you will that this room is a steel culvert completely covered in soil, and then imagine on top of that 18-metre-high structure a paved roadway. The soil-and-steel structure I've just described would be the largest of its kind, and one just like this was built by Armtec Construction Products of Guelph. The company that transported this structure to its present location was MacKinnon Transport Ltd, also of Guelph.

The accomplishments of MacKinnon Transport and Armtec Construction are not limited to the world's largest soil-and-steel structure. Armtec Construction Products has supplied products and engineering solutions to challenges of the civil engineering industry since 1907 in Winnipeg. The company moved to Guelph in 1908. MacKinnon Transport is a family-owned business that has operated in Guelph since 1929. They were first approached by Armtec to figure out how to haul these large culverts.

I was recently honoured to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of this unique partnership that has been one of the most successful in Guelph's history. We often speak of public-private partnerships as the direction for success for a strong Ontario. This partnership is a shining example of the innovative ways that small businesses have joined together to the greater success of the individual companies. It's my pleasure today to recognize MacKinnon Transport and Armtec Construction Products as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of a partnership that teaches us all about successful business relationships.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Last week the city of Scarborough held its bicentennial civic awards. It was a truly outstanding event recognizing 200 outstanding individuals who have been associated with Scarborough.

I might add that the list was very impressive: from the music area, Peter Appleyard, Geddie Lee, Kim Mitchell, Barenaked Ladies, Liona Boyd, Carole Pope; among the actors, Jim Carrey and Mike Myers; from sports, which Scarborough is well known for, Cindy Nicholas, Syl Apps, Dave Keon and Steve Stavro. We're very proud that three former chiefs of police are from Scarborough: Jack Marks, Harold Adamson and Bill McCormack; author Arthur Hailey; and newspeople Christine Bentley, Jack Dennett, Glenn Cochrane, David Onley and Henry Shannon.

I'm told that the loudest applause last night was for one of the recipients, our own Queen's Park bureau chief from Global, Robert Fisher. At least, that's what Robert Fisher told me. He did get the award, but I arrived there after the presentation. In all seriousness, it was a truly fine event put on by Scarborough recognizing 200 very outstanding individuals, including Robert Fisher, the bureau chief.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): On November 27, parents from seven schools in my riding held a vigil outside my office to express their concerns about this government's cuts to education. This vigil was part of a province-wide protest organized by People for Education, one of the many grass-roots groups springing up all over the province to fight the cuts to our basic social programs.

I have here in this pizza box over 300 letters and six petitions addressed to the Minister of Education from parents who could not be present at the vigil but wanted the minister to know how they feel. They want the minister to know that international languages, black culture and concurrent programs are important to them. They are afraid that if the government acts on its proposal to change the way education is funded, the Toronto Board of Education will lose another $150 million. They're afraid they will not only lose these programs, but also English as a second language, kindergarten, child care and continuing education programs.

Parents with small children are not a special interest group. They are the mainstream of our society. I will be forwarding these letters and petitions to the minister, and I want in particular to thank People for Education for giving these parents the opportunity to be heard.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): It is with great pride that I rise to address the House today regarding the Canadian Automotive Museum and the Sydenham Museum in my riding of Oshawa.

The city of Oshawa is the Canadian birthplace of the automobile. The Canadian Automotive Museum, with its collection of over 60 vehicles, including some of the rarest automobiles produced in Canada, is a part of Oshawa's heritage. The collection includes the earliest Canadian-made model T, circa 1909, as well as a Rolls Royce 1912 limousine and a 1926 Bentley. The museum offers an opportunity to see and experience the development of the automobile in Canada from the turn of the century.

The Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa is a non-profit organization that is at the forefront of Canadian institutions featuring automotive collections. The collection of automobiles has in the past been valued at over $25 million.

The Oshawa Sydenham Museum is a museum of local history and is managed by the Oshawa Historical Society. The museum displays artifacts associated with life in the 1800s and early 1900s through three historical homes: Guy House, Robinson House and Henry House. The Oshawa Sydenham Museum also provides a valuable resource for researchers of local history, as the Oshawa community archives is available through the museum.

The Canadian Automotive Museum and the Oshawa Sydenham Museum preserve and present the rich history of Oshawa. They are valuable parts of Oshawa's community as they maintain Oshawa's link with its roots and draw to the museums people not only from around the province, but also from around the world. I invite all members and everyone to visit these historical parts of Oshawa.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): With the release of the preliminary report of the local hospital restructuring committee in Niagara this morning, some of the worst fears of Niagara residents have been realized; namely, the possible closing of hospitals in St Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Port Colborne.

At no time during the provincial election campaign did any Conservative candidate recommend the closing of any hospital in Niagara. Premier Harris, when asked during the party leaders' debate in 1995 if he intended to close hospitals, replied, "Well, certainly, I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals." I intend to hold Premier Harris to that commitment in Niagara.

By announcing the chopping of $38 million in hospital budgets in Niagara, the Conservative government has put a cloud over the future of hospitals in St Catharines, Port Colborne and Niagara-on-the Lake. The opportunity is there for the Ministry of Health to enhance and improve hospital services, not use the meat axe to cut valuable health care to an aging population in our part of the province. The opportunity is there to bring to St Catharines important services for which Niagara patients are now required to travel to Hamilton, London or Niagara to receive.

It is unacceptable to me to have the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines closed, and I intend to fight alongside thousands of St Catharines residents to keep the Hotel Dieu open for many years to come and to continue to provide excellent health care.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I'd like to raise with the members the case of Rita Iturrequi, a constituent of mine from Blind River, who has been having problems with her family support plan payments. Her ex-husband's employer has been deducting the money from his paycheque, but she's not getting anything. As of July 25, 1996, when the government decided to wreck the system, the balance owed by her ex-husband was zero. However, now it's over $2,400, and yet the money has been taken off his cheque all along.

Mrs Iturrequi contacted our office. We faxed the office in Toronto. They sent a fax back with a scribbled note in the margin, the same fax, which was illegible. We faxed back and asked for a response for Mrs Iturrequi, because she has two children, one in high school in grade 11 and one in grade 8. She has had to work at four part-time jobs to support herself and her children while she has not been receiving her ex-husband's money. She also has a legal aid bill of over $8,000 and a lien on her home, which she wants to pay.

Why is it that the money is coming off her husband's cheque regularly and it is not arriving with her? Why is it the Attorney General continues to argue that this is a longstanding problem instead of resolving the problem and ensuring people like Mrs Iturrequi and her children get the money?


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I rise today to congratulate Mr Scott Abbott, the co-creator of the board game Trivial Pursuit, on his successful bid for an Ontario Hockey League team for Brampton. Last week, the OHL board of governors approved Brampton as a franchise for the 1998-99 season. Brampton has a long and proud history of supporting minor hockey.

Brampton residents, led by Mayor Peter Robertson, are to be commended for their massive show of support for their hockey team. A campaign to collect thousands of signatures from local residents was highly successful, with over 40,000 signatures collected in just six days.

An OHL franchise will bring many economic benefits to our city and heighten our sense of pride. In May, a private consortium will begin to build a 6,000-seat arena with three additional ice surfaces, a fine example of a public-private partnership between the city and the private sector. This facility will be able to host hockey tournaments, curling bonspiels, figure skating championships, trade shows and concerts.

Once again, Brampton residents have done our city proud. I join them in anticipation of the opening face-off in October 1998.



Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): One of the essential elements in preventing crime is eliminating the payoff; in other words, removing the motivation to gain something from it. Today I'm doing just that.

To do this successfully, we must train dedicated and skilled police officers in a very specific method of investigation. That's why this government is expanding the provincial proceeds of crime unit with funding from the provincial proceeds of crime funds. The unit will work in partnership with the RCMP proceeds of crime integrated task force currently operating in the greater Toronto area.

The funding for the unit is coming directly from the sale of criminally obtained assets. Not only will convicted criminals not profit from their crimes, but they'll find their assets used to fight crime. This initiative will give police an important tool in their fight against organized crime.


In addition, the ministry has received a commitment from the federal government for just over $1 million in further proceeds of crime funding. These moneys are the result of a memorandum of understanding between Ontario and the federal government signed in January 1996.

The Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario will administer funding for the provincial proceeds of the crime unit because of its extensive experience in this area through its joint forces operation program.

The day-to-day supervision of the unit will be the responsibility of the officer in charge of the RCMP proceeds of crime integrated task force in Newmarket.

In addition to the nine existing RCMP officers, we will be expanding the unit to include four OPP officers, two Metropolitan Toronto Police Service officers, two York Regional Police Service officers, one Peel Rgional Police Service officer and one Durham Regional Police Service officer, for a total of 19 officers, the largest of such units in Canada.

This government already has in place a provincial policy that ensures that illegally obtained property is returned to its rightful owners and that goods or profits obtained as a result of criminal activity, such as drug dealing, theft, fraud or money laundering, are forfeited at the end of successful criminal prosecution.

The provincial proceeds of crime initiative not only complement the existing policy, it strengthens the tools police need to fight profit-motivated crime.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'd like to respond to the minister's statement. I gather from the statement that this adds three OPP officers to the unit and that the rest of the resources will come from other police forces.

Certainly ensuring that the public recovers the proceeds of crime is an important objective. The Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario seems to be an organization made up of our senior police officers who provide the government with good advice, and they've informed us that they expect to see lots more profit from organized crime.

The minister will recall that the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, the organization that will administer this, was the same organization of senior police officials that advised the government of how inappropriate it was to proceed with video lottery terminals, video slot machines, and warned the government that they are simply inviting organized crime to participate much more fully in Ontario. So it should come as no surprise that they're supportive of plans to try and recover some of the money that they've warned you organized crime is going to reap.

It was perhaps three weeks ago that this House, or at least the government, forced through a bill that legalized video lottery terminals, despite the warning of the very same organization, the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, that it's a mistake, that it will not get rid of illegal VLTs but will simply expand the infiltration of organized crime. For those of us who are worried about organized crime, you've ignored the major report the government has from this organization. What we've got today is that announcement of three additional OPP officers.

The second point I want to make is that prevention of crime is extremely important for all of us. You ran on this platform, in the Common Sense Revolution: "This plan guarantees full funding for law enforcement."

What have we actually seen in terms of full funding for law enforcement? We have seen the government cut grants to municipalities, the support the province provides for municipalities, and the major budget for municipalities is police organizations. You have cut their support in half. They are getting half the money they used to get from the province of Ontario, and recognize that that goes heavily to police organizations.

You have cut $250 million out of the Attorney General's budget, and even the Solicitor General's budget has been cut by $16 million. So the announcement today of adding three OPP officers to this unit to recover the benefits of crime comes at the same time as this government has decided to cut, cut, cut the support for crime prevention, the support for our police organizations around the province. Support for municipalities cut in half: $800 million, a huge amount of money, cut from the budgets. The Attorney General's budget is slashed. That's the one that enforces through the court system. Even the Solicitor General's budget is cut.

The announcement today is designed to recover the benefits of crime, and the police organizations are warning us that, yes, they'll recover more money because there's going to be more crime. Why? Because we'll have legalized video lottery terminals against the advice of your own Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario and you have cut municipalities' budgets in half, the support from the province. You have cut the Attorney General's budget and you've cut the Solicitor General's budget.

The announcement today should be put within the context of all of those things. Certainly no one in this House would suggest that it is not totally appropriate to recoup the proceeds of crime, but everyone in this House should recognize that those proceeds will increase because crime prevention is being cut and slashed in this province.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I too am pleased that this announcement has been made because I think, as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt pointed out, all of us in this House believe the tools should be there to prevent the growth of crime in our province. But he is also right to say that this is a particularly poignant moment for this kind of announcement when this Legislature has passed a bill in the face of the very clear advice of police in this province about the growth of organized crime because of the growth of legalized video slot machines.

It is extremely important for us to realize that it is also in the context of greatly reduced budgets in the Attorney General's ministry and in the Ministry of the Solicitor General in terms of crime. Most people don't recognize that one of the cost-saving measures required of the police in this province was to disband the anti-rackets squad. That was one of the early results of a decision in the ministry to reduce OPP funding by a huge amount. This minister has constantly tried to counter the reality of the kinds of cuts that have been made and the kinds of pressures that police forces are under by making this kind of announcement.

I understand that this morning in his press conference the minister made some comment about the reason our government was not able to put this into effect being because we couldn't reach an agreement between the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of the Solicitor General. He is quite right, because the Ministry of the Solicitor General was insisting on having all of the proceeds of crime. That was the advice our minister was getting. I am delighted that the minister took the advice of the member for Hamilton-Wentworth to know that the prosecution of these crimes is extremely important. It is extremely important that we understand the continuum of the charging with crime, of the enforcement of the Criminal Code and then the prosecution of those kinds of events. He is quite right to point out that this continuity is required if we're going to be successful. So I'm very pleased that the two ministries were finally able to come to an agreement that you cannot have the one without the other, and I'm delighted that is part of this proposal.

However, I must say that this kind of joint force is dependent upon a particular income, a particular $1 million that has now been forwarded by the federal government, really tells us that this is still temporary funding. Yes, we expect that it will be successful and that there will be more proceeds of crime, but whenever you base the enforcement of the law on a particular program which is either fines or proceeds of crime, it's a very dangerous undertaking. What happens if an investigation takes a long time and a prosecution takes a long time and those moneys do not come back to the government?


I'd be much more confident that this is going to be a permanent part of the law enforcement program in this province if this government were taking unequivocal responsibility for ensuring that its part of this force is there no matter what happens in terms of the income from a particular part of proceeds of crime. It is extremely dangerous for us to tell the people of Ontario that we have improved the enforcement of the law through a means like this when it is dependent upon the income that may be generated, because that often is a long time coming in.

I congratulate the government on having reached this deal, but I would urge them to make it clear that whatever happens in terms of income from proceeds of crime, this kind of force is needed in Ontario. It's needed more than it ever has been before because of the increased opportunity for organized crime in this province as a result of the actions taken by this government and as a result of the deregulation in many areas that is going to encourage money laundering, is going to encourage the kind of crime that is very difficult to enforce. So I'm glad this force is going to be in place, but I am very sceptical that it is the kind of permanent good news that the minister is trying to convince us it is.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd just like to notify the House that this is the last day for the legislative pages. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and appreciate the hard work and effort they put in. I hope they enjoyed their stay as much as we certainly enjoyed having them. Thank you.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am wondering why the pages would be leaving one week before the Legislature is going to close down. If it's a matter of money, I think the provincial government is spending $2,600 a day for --

The Speaker: No. They're supposed to go back to school, I believe, next Monday.


The Speaker: And I thought this was non-controversial.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): My question is for the Premier. It's been almost a week since the former Minister of Health resigned because his most trusted senior adviser disclosed highly sensitive and confidential information with the intent of smearing a private Ontario citizen.

We asked you on Tuesday to release the log of all requests for OHIP information from the minister's office and all corresponding OHIP documentation. You indicated, and I quote, "That would be fine." That information can be obtained and copied in a matter of minutes. You've had almost three full days. Why are you denying us this very simple request? What are you trying to hide?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think the Minister of Health has that information.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): As all the members of this Legislature know, the privacy commissioner is doing an investigation into this matter. This government has moved expeditiously; I think this government has moved with lightning speed. The individual involved has resigned. The Minister of Health has taken a very honourable position, one that I might say members of the opposition in various circumstances in other governments did not take, and he resigned. Indeed, the government has called in the privacy commissioner to investigate this matter.

I will say that I did talk to the privacy commissioner this morning. The privacy commissioner has started the investigation, is eager to get on with the investigation and has expressed no reservations about the investigation. I think we should allow the privacy commissioner to fulfil his responsibility.

Mr Cordiano: It's obvious the Premier does not want to get involved in this matter. He's trying to stonewall. The Minister of Health, all your answers are inconsistent over there. Is it any wonder that we're becoming more suspicious on this side, and that as each and every day goes by more and more people are becoming suspicious of why you're trying to prevent us from getting at the truth.

Let me tell you why the logs are so important, Premier and Minister. They'll help us understand how the private information of a Peterborough doctor was obtained when and by whom. That's what we've been asking you for a number of days. Yesterday, the Deputy Premier stated that "there is nothing to indicate that anyone in the former minister's office requested any confidential information, including the minister." How would he know that? Has he seen the minister's office log or the corresponding OHIP logs? How would he know that?

Hon David Johnson: I'll reiterate again that this is an investigation being conducted by the privacy commissioner and I will say that the privacy commissioner himself has expressed concern about the release of information that would be the subject of his investigation. The member opposite may wish to sit back and reconsider, because the privacy commissioner feels that his investigation should be allowed to proceed and that all of the information, log information or e-mail registration information, whatever is involved, should be focused on his study. The privacy commissioner has grave concerns about what the member for Lawrence is recommending.

Mr Cordiano: The answers are even more inconsistent as we hear them every day. What do you expect us to conclude other than the fact that there is a coverup going on here? What happened? The other day the Premier said he would release the logs. Today he's saying something completely different.

We called OHIP on Tuesday for rules and procedures for the request and disclosure of confidential information by a minister's office. They indicated they would get right back to us. They didn't. We called yesterday. Still nothing.

Premier and Minister, if you've got nothing to hide, then why don't you authorize the release of the logs and the Ministry of Health's protocol for requests of information? What in heaven's name are you trying to hide? What are you hiding behind? Stop covering up.

Hon David Johnson: We have a situation with the privacy commissioner, who is investigating a situation, who has made a recommendation in terms of how he should approach his investigation. He is recommending that this material, log material, all materials involved with this investigation be directed to his investigation. I have the member for Lawrence who doesn't agree with that approach. Perhaps the member for Lawrence would wish to conduct the investigation.

The privacy commissioner is eager to get on with the job. The privacy commissioner is asking that this information be directed, that this log information be directed through him, and is concerned about the release of this until he's had an opportunity to investigate. I would say that we should understand what the privacy commissioner is requesting and we should give him full support in his investigation.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Premier. I invite the Premier to stand up and discuss the integrity of his government's handling of the James-Wilson affair because there are questions out there. These are not questions just raised by this side of the House; they exist in the public mind.

If there's an interest on the other side of the House in establishing this, we've heard the new Minister of Health, who wasn't in charge at the time the question I have pertains to, relate to the importance of materials. That's my question, Premier: the evidence. When was the evidence collected from Mr Brett James's office?

We know from the logs released yesterday from the security that there were 10 people through those offices that were supposedly secured. The new Minister of Health said that those offices were secured. Premier, I'd like to hear from you. Have you made it your business to know who secured that information from Mr James's office? When was that evidence secured? Was it by the privacy commissioner's office? Was it by the police? We'd like to hear from you.

Hon Mr Harris: I have called in the acknowledged top expert in the whole of the country, as far as we know, the privacy commissioner, to deal with these matters, and the Minister of Health has answered all the specific questions that you've asked already.


Mr Kennedy: That's completely unacceptable. That is utterly unacceptable if you wish to have a scintilla of integrity attached to your behaviour in this affair. Again, Premier, who secured the evidence in Mr James's office? That is surely information you have. You cannot be credible in having us believe that in the four days that elapsed before you appointed the privacy commissioner your government handled this in the way that it should have handled it unless you let us know who's got that evidence, how was it taken care of, and did the 10 people who were in those offices on that weekend have access to that information, because there is no way you can assure us the privacy commissioner can do his job if this is the basis on which you're going to leave it, if you're going to leave this question hanging in the air.

Again, Premier, I'd ask you to stand behind the integrity of your handling of this affair and let us know the details of how this evidence, without which this investigation is meaningless, has been handled.

Hon Mr Harris: The acting Minister of Health, the Minister of Health now, has answered those questions. You seem to want to know from me and you want me to answer the questions, so I am happy to answer what I know.

I know this: I know that I have acted faster than any Premier in the history of my election in 1981. I know that the minister involved acted faster when he found an impropriety, that being improper use of information that he had. I know that the minister stepped aside so that the acknowledged top expert -- to this date, I have not heard anybody suggest anybody better than the privacy commissioner, who knows these matters, anywhere in the province. I acted very quickly to move on that.

If you would like me to bring up your government's record, I need only say two words: Joan Smith, and the months it took before anybody moved to do anything.

Mr Kennedy: I have a couple of words for the Premier: government accountability. Let's see some.

The investigation is only as good as the evidence; it's only as good as the frame of reference for this commissioner. You told us that those offices were secured, and we now know that 10 people were walking through them, and you won't tell us who secured the evidence. You may not like it, Premier, but the integrity of your whole government is wrapped into this affair. The integrity of your government is tied to this.

You want us to believe that you set fair terms of reference and you won't even tell us how the evidence came to be in the hands of the privacy commissioner or indeed whether he has that. Now, we've asked for something fair, which if you're interested in seeing integrity brought to this issue you would agree to, which is a commission of inquiry. If you won't at least do that, will you at least do something reasonable: Will you at least allow the proper committee of the Legislative Assembly to meet with the privacy commissioner to review his terms of reference to be assured that he has the evidence and the other means by which to hold a proper investigation?

Hon Mr Harris: The privacy commissioner, who I think you would acknowledge is far more expert in this area than me or you or anybody in this Legislature, has offered and will table his report with the Legislature, and he'd be happy to come and explain his report, talk to you, discuss the findings, and at that particular point in time we can assess that information and actions that were taken.

I have complete confidence that you will find that this minister has acted more honourably than any in the history of my time in the Legislature, since 1981, and that this Premier has acted independently, effectively and as quickly as any Premier has acted.

If there's something else you want, it will all be made available to you, because this privacy commissioner will report to the entire Legislature, and you're a member of that Legislature.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is to the Premier. I want to ask you about Jan Dymond. We understand that she was hired as a public relations consultant on November 22 in the former Minister of Health's office. Brett James was the communications assistant for the former Minister of Health. We understand that Jan Dymond and three other outsiders were in the former Minister of Health's office on the Saturday after Brett James approached a Globe and Mail reporter with confidential information from Ministry of Health files.

Your government has told us that the situation in the former Minister of Health's office called for security procedures to take place in the aftermath of the James incident. Offices were to have been sealed. Can you tell me this: Jan Dymond is a public relations consultant. Why was she in the minister's office on Saturday? What possible reason is there for a public relations consultant being in an office where there is a security breach --

The Speaker: Thank you. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I'll refer it so the Minister of Health can answer.

Hon David Johnson: Jan Dymond has been employed, as indicated, since November 22 with the Ministry of Health. There were roughly 10 people, as I understand, of the Ministry of Health, including Ms Dymond, in the building. It's very general that there would be five or six people working in the building at any given time on the weekend. That's normal circumstance.

There were about four or five more people working on that particular weekend, including Jan Dymond, involved with the negotiations that are under way with the doctors, and there was a negotiating team meeting. Ms Dymond, involved with long-term communications with regard to the negotiations, was in the building in that capacity on that weekend.

Mr Hampton: I'm not sure I got an answer there, but I want to try again. We know that in other situations where the government claims there was a security breach, they immediately called the police and began an investigation. Here there were government spin doctors going in and out of the building even after it was supposed to be sealed.

There is, under Ministry of Health legislation, a security policy manual. According to that security policy manual each and every employee, including GO Temp and contract staff, is to undertake a security briefing and sign an attestation to that security briefing whenever he or she works for the Ministry of Health in any capacity.

The Speaker: The question.

Mr Hampton: This is required by Ministry of Health law. I ask the minister: Has Jan Dymond taken her oath of secrecy? Had she been briefed on the security manual? Did she sign the oath of secrecy, as required by Ministry of Health legislation?

Hon David Johnson: I have asked security questions of the staff of the Ministry of Health and they have assured me that the procedures you're referring to in the employee security and confidentiality orientation manual have been obeyed in their fullest.


Mr Hampton: My question is very specific: Did Jan Dymond, and for that matter did the three other outsiders who were in there on that Saturday, sign the Ministry of Health security policy oath of secrecy? Have they been given the briefing and have they signed for it? I say to the minister: As you know, failure to sign this is a breach of the Public Service Act.

I ask the minister: Will you produce for us now -- you should be able to produce this by the end of question period -- the signed oath and attestation of not only Jan Dymond but of every other individual who was working in the Minister of Health's office that day? Will you produce that for us, please?

Hon David Johnson: First I want to address that there is an assumption of people being in a specific office, but the employees who violated no rules or regulations whatsoever, who had every right to be in this building, who indeed were working in most cases -- not all cases -- on their own time, were in the building in general. Half of them were there for a very specific purpose in terms of the negotiating process which is under way at the present time, and the other people were there in the normal course of doing their duties.

The specific answer to the member's question is that yes, Jan Dymond has signed the confidentiality forms, the proper forms, as is required.

Mr Hampton: I ask the minister to produce the signed oaths. You should be able to produce those by the end of question period.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Housing. Everyone knows that your megacity scheme is based on no research, no public consultation and no thought, just on your dream of wiping out local democracy in Metro. Your megacity scheme hasn't even received support from the Golden task force, nor did the handpicked Crombie panel rubber-stamp your scheme. They said this should have at least four months of thought and consultation.

All you've got in your attempt to prove that your scheme would save money is an Ernst and Young study of a year ago in which the consultants were forbidden to talk to anyone who actually runs the services. Now we hear that you've asked KPMG to do a three-week quickie study of perhaps cost savings. Minister, do you confirm that you've commissioned a three-week study by KPMG to try to justify your megacity scheme?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): If there's anything that has been studied in Ontario, it's the governance of the greater Toronto area, and specifically Metro. There have been more studies -- I think the number is 63 -- looking at the various forms of government that are available to us.

We're taking all that information -- the Golden report, the Crombie report, the mayors' report, the Metro report -- we're reviewing them and we're going to come up with the best level of government to serve the people of this province. We also have internal reports or reviews going on and we have an external report going on too.

Mr Hampton: Minister, the perception out there is that this megacity bomb has been dropped on people's heads, that you aren't interested in any studies unless they support your scheme. It is very clear that the Crombie panel does not support your scheme, so I can understand why you want this KPMG study. Since this concerns democracy for all people in the greater Toronto area, since it concerns all the municipalities, which may be wiped off the map, will the minister today table the terms of reference he's given to KPMG as well as any interim reports he's received? Will you also tell us how much you're paying for them?

Hon Mr Leach: I can tell the honourable member across that David Crombie stood up and specifically said that he supports a single city for Metropolitan --

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): He was the only one.

Hon Mr Leach: He's the only one? He was in charge of the study. The person who was in charge of the panel has recommended that we have one single city, and I agree with Mr Crombie in that instance.

Yes, we have commissioned a study. The costs of that study are within the Management Board guidelines.

Mr Hampton: It was a very simple question. The minister has commissioned the study. He should be able to provide the people of Toronto with the terms of reference for the study and any ancillary studies. That should not be a problem. You should be able to produce that here today. You should be able to tell the people of Toronto how much you're paying for it.

You should also be able to do this: It seems to me that you're so convinced about your scheme that people across the greater Toronto area deserve a say in this, and they're asking for a say; 75% of the people have said they want a referendum on this. So I ask you, will you make the terms of reference available to people, and will you also give people what they want: some democratic decision-making? Will you give them the referendum they're asking for so that they can tell you, yes or no, they believe in your megacity scheme?

Hon Mr Leach: I will provide the member with a copy of the report and the terms of reference and all that information in the fullness of time. We'll be releasing that report very shortly, and I'll make sure the leader of the third party is one of the very first to get a copy of that report.

In the matter of referendums, I don't know whether the leader of the third party has talked to his backbenchers, but Mr Christopherson, for example, says, "Referendums are not useful in sorting out municipal restructurings." That's probably the first time I've ever concurred with that member. Mr Hampton himself has said that referendums don't work. "We don't need it," Mr Hampton said. "Referendums don't work for municipal restructurings." They're doing more flip-flopping than the Liberals on this situation.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier about the affair with the Ministry of Health and Mr Wilson. The Premier can appreciate that we are very dissatisfied with the approach that's being taken, but I want to take you back to an answer you have on Tuesday.

You talked to the former Minister of Health on Monday morning and reached agreement with him then, I gather, that he would step aside. You then assured the House that you were assured that the records were sealed in both Mr James's office and in Mr Wilson's office. Can you tell the House whom you instructed to seal those offices, and can you assure the House that it was not the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Health's political staff who can be implicated in this, that it was either the police or the privacy commissioner?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think I indicated that information when I was asked about it in the Legislature on Tuesday, as best I can recall. I am relaying to the House the information that's been given to me by the Ministry of Health. If you want specifics, the Minister of Health now has as much up-to-date information as he possibly can and is prepared to release everything he can, subject to the top person involved in privacy matters in the province's approval. If you would like to ask the minister that, I know he'd be glad to do that.

Mr Phillips: No, I want to ask you the question. You have the responsibility. You appointed the minister. Something very unacceptable has happened under the minister's nose. You took responsibility. You assured the House that the minister's office and Mr James's records were sealed.

We want to know from you, no one else, because you took charge of this, you issued the instructions, you're now responsible -- it is a very simple question, Premier, that you'll have to answer eventually. I asked you a few moments ago and I ask you again: Whom did you instruct to seal those records? Was it the privacy commissioner or was it the police?

Hon Mr Harris: I didn't instruct anybody to seal the records. The records were sealed without my instruction.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Premier, and it concerns Jan Dymond again. We are told that George McCague, a former member of the Legislature, who is a government negotiator in the talks with the Ontario Medical Association and who is one of the people who was at the former Minister of Health's office on that Saturday, said Wednesday evening that he and the three other negotiators representing the government met by themselves to discuss strategy.

McCague said he did not know what other staff members were doing. He said he did not know Dymond or what she might have been doing here. Now the Minister of Health just said she was there involved in negotiations. George McCague, who is one of the government negotiators, says, "No, no, Ms Dymond wasn't involved in any discussions with us." He says he has no idea what Jan Dymond was doing there. I ask you, Premier, if your negotiator doesn't know Ms Dymond and doesn't know what she was doing there, would you please tell us now what a spin doctor was doing in a security --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Minister of Health, I know, would have that information.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): It's very simple. Jan Dymond is a communications consultant. She has been in the employ of the Ministry of Health, as the leader of the third party indicated, since November 22. She was in the building on that particular day, being involved in communications, arranging for communications with regard to the negotiations with the doctors, and indeed she was involved in the meeting to some degree.

As with most meetings, the negotiation meeting was a long meeting over a period of time. Mr McCague was there for a certain period of time in the meeting. Ms Dymond was there for a certain period of time in the meeting. Ms Dymond was also doing work in the building on communications. The two members, Mr McCague and Ms Dymond, apparently did not overlap in the meeting, but at various times they both were involved in the meeting, and Jan Dymond was working in the building on communications.

Mr Hampton: Some things are unbelievable and some things are really unbelievable. Here we have someone who is a negotiator, he's negotiating this for the government with the Ontario Medical Association, and he says: "I don't know Dymond. I don't know why she was there, I don't know what she might have been doing and I don't know what other people who were there might have been doing."

It seems passing strange that the government negotiator doesn't know the spin doctor, doesn't know what she's doing there, doesn't know why she's there. I wonder if the Minister of Health can explain that. I'll ask you again, will you produce the security document that Jan Dymond was supposed to have signed, and would you produce McCague's security document as well and the other people who were there?

Hon David Johnson: I think it's pretty clear to anyone other than somebody who wishes not to understand the situation that Jan Dymond has been involved with communications, with the negotiation process since November 22. I understand that she may not have been involved during that whole period, for whatever reason -- apparently Mr McCague has not run into her -- but she certainly has been involved.

On that particular day she was in the building, involved in communications with this particular project. Once again, I have been assured that she has signed the proper confidentiality form, and whatever information can be released in that regard I'm sure we would be more than happy to release.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I know in my riding of Durham East that people have wrestled with the concept of Ontario Works. Can you give us an update on Ontario Works, and more particularly, what happened in the region of Durham yesterday?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Thank you to my colleague for the question. I'm very pleased to report that yesterday, after very cautious and thorough consideration, the Durham region council decided to endorse their plan for workfare to become one of the communities across the province that is delivering our Ontario Works program.

We have 14 of the 20 pilot sites up and running. We've also seen that with the new arrangements we've made for funding and helping to support municipalities in their transitional cost, many more municipalities are getting their plans in to us, and we're quite optimistic and quite excited about the progress that has been happening across the province.

Mr O'Toole: This sounds like very good news for the region of Durham and the people of Durham. I'm certain you will work with them closely to make sure this is successful. But I continue to see media reports that say the deadline for the municipalities to submit their Ontario Works business plan are due in March 1997. This is not my understanding. Would the minister please clarify the issue for the record?

Hon Mrs Ecker: It has been quite a challenge to keep up with all the misinformation that some of our critics have been spreading about what is happening with the Ontario workfare program. One of the things we had heard in the messages from those municipalities that have got workfare up and running was that they felt we needed to do a better job of supporting, both at the staff level and the political level, those communities that are involved in workfare.

One of the ways we've been able to do that is by being a little more generous in the transition costs for them. What we have said is that those municipalities that do get their workfare plans in before the end of March will have more generous transitional funding, because we think that help will actually make them able to move faster in getting these opportunities for those on workfare up and running.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health. I've been contacted by a family of a woman in southern Ontario who was scheduled to have open heart surgery tomorrow, December 13. She has been on the waiting list for over the past four months.

Jessie has been told that, due to overcrowding in the intensive care unit of the Hamilton Health Sciences general hospital site, her surgery has been cancelled, and that she'll have to wait until some time in 1997, an unspecified date, to have her surgery. Jessie is 65 years old, and she is waiting for triple bypass surgery and that has restricted her life to waiting at home. She's unable to walk more than a few steps without having a problem.

Can the new Minister of Health explain to Jessie, to her family and to others in this province why, after waiting for four months, her surgery has been cancelled, and will he intervene to help her get the surgery she needs?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): As the member for Oriole would appreciate, having been on the job for just a few days since Monday, I won't have all the details, but I am sorry to hear of this particular situation. Certainly there are people today who are not being able to get the kind of health care they deserve.

I would ask the member for Oriole to give me the details of this particular situation and I would be happy to follow through with it. I will say, in general, that this government does firmly believe that the health care system in Ontario needs to be improved. That is why we have followed up on the initiative from the previous government, where they appointed the district health councils and spent some $26 million, I guess, through that process, to bring back in recommendations. We have appointed the restructuring commission to look at restructuring the hospital care in particular, to make it better for people like Jessie in the future.


Mrs Caplan: I can tell the minister why Jessie's surgery has been cancelled. Your government's $1.3-billion cut to hospital budgets in Ontario is the reason why. Your cuts have led to serious service delivery problems in Ontario's hospitals. This patient's family were told by hospital staff that heart patients are dying on the waiting list.

Your government is paying no attention. You've turned a blind eye to the problems that hospitals are facing. You've been pretending that everything is fine and that your restructuring commission closing hospitals is somehow an answer. I say to you, sir, it is not. Everything is not okay, and you, as Minister of Health, are responsible because your government has cut the hospital budgets.

This further setback for Jessie Morris and her family has caused undue and unnecessary stress, and she needs all the help and the strength she can find. Will the Minister of Health stop the detrimental cuts to our hospitals and tell Jessie and her family that she will receive the care that she needs --

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

Hon David Johnson: I think I should inform the member opposite, the member for Oriole, right at the outset that this government has committed to maintaining health care spending. It was a pledge we made to the people of Ontario. Indeed, the pledge we made to the people of Ontario is to spend at least $17.4 billion, and this year the Minister of Finance has announced $17.7 billion in health care for the province of Ontario.

But the member for Oriole is correct. There is a government in Canada which is cutting health care in our country, which is cutting health care in the province of Ontario, and that government is the federal government. The federal Liberal government is cutting health care in the province of Ontario.

Notwithstanding that, now that we've cleared the record on that, I am sorry to hear of individual circumstances. The decisions are made by the physicians. It's a clinical decision made by physicians. Nevertheless I would be happy to hear the details of this particular case to see if there's anything that could be done.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question for the Minister of Health. Your lack of answers to the questions over the last few days has contributed to more confusion and a lack of confidence, a loss of confidence in the security of our health care system.

At the beginning of question period, you said Jan Dymond and other political staff were in the minister's office on the weekend to be there because of negotiations with the doctors. Two thirds through question period we bring evidence to you that a former trusted Tory cabinet minister, George McCague, who's on your negotiating committee, says that's rubbish, that's not true.

You have to see that what is at stake here is confidence in our health care system. There's so much confusion, so many unanswered questions. Isn't it time for you to admit that the commissioner on freedom of information has to be given the power to subpoena witnesses, to have testimony under oath, and to have that done in a public forum? Won't you announce that today to restore confidence in our public health care system?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): It's interesting. I have this morning talked to the privacy commissioner about this very matter and he has expressed confidence to me in his ability to conduct the study. He's expressed eagerness to get on with the study; indeed he has started. He'll be interviewing people here in Toronto and he'll be interviewing people in Kingston and he's anxious to get on with the study.

Other than pulling allegations out of the air, if the member opposite has any evidence, any specific information, I know the privacy commissioner would be delighted to have it. I would invite the member opposite to submit that information to the privacy commissioner, because we want to make sure that he has all the information and that he does a thorough study and gets to the bottom of this whole matter.

Mr Cooke: It's not pulling things out of the air to be quoting George McCague, a former trusted Tory cabinet minister. He's the one who said those people being in the Minister of Health's office on the weekend had nothing to do with the doctors' negotiations. That's not pulling allegations out of the air; that's quoting one of your appointments.

I also spoke to the commissioner yesterday and he said: "Yes, I can carry out the investigation under the act that I administer only, and if everybody cooperates, everybody tells the truth, I don't need the power to subpoena or have people testify under oath. But if you want me to look at anything under any of the Ministry of Health acts, if there's any question about people telling the truth, and if you want it done publicly" -- and if there's ever an instance where this should be done publicly, this is it -- "I have to be given more power."

Minister, will you give him more power so the air can be cleared?

Hon David Johnson: We've indicated right from the beginning that, number one, we have confidence in the privacy commissioner. He has a great deal of experience in this matter and I think he will do a thorough job and will get to the bottom of this. However, we've also indicated that if the privacy commissioner comes back and has indicated any impediments, any problems, we will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that this investigation is thorough and that we get to the bottom of this matter.

I will reiterate once again, although I've commented on this, that every weekend there are staff in this building. Every weekend there are people who come to work. This may be a concept foreign to the third party, but people are dedicated to their jobs and they do come in and work on the weekend. They're on the whole floor, they're in the whole building, they're in through all the various hundreds of offices that are in a particular building.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): My question is to the Solicitor General. You have said that the government opposes the registration provisions contained in the federal gun control bill, Bill C-68. People in urban ridings and in border communities like mine are concerned about this issue. What alternatives do you support to provide real and effective gun control for Ontario?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): This government believes in real gun control and virtually every provision of C-68 with the exception of registration, which is going to accomplish nothing more than to divert police from front lines in this province. We have asked the federal government for a national firearms unit to fight illegal weapons traffic into this province and into this country but they've been less than receptive up to this point.

I am proud to say that for our part, Ontario spends about $1.5 million per year for the provincial weapons enforcement unit, which is staffed by the RCMP, OPP and municipal services. Yesterday, as a result of the hard work of these dedicated front-line officers, the provincial weapons enforcement unit announced that it had made one of the largest seizures of illegal weapons in Canadian history. Project Pinball seized hundreds of illegal weapons, including bazookas and hand grenades, and will result in over 250 charges being laid. This is real gun control in action.

Mr Maves: I read about that seizure and I was particularly pleased to see that Niagara police forces were involved in that. I'd like to congratulate them on that. In Niagara we're aware that smuggling is at the root of much of the problem of these illegal weapons. What other initiatives are being introduced to fight smuggling?

Hon Mr Runciman: I share the member's concerns that something more must be done with respect to smuggling problems, especially as they relate to firearms. Some months ago I wrote to my federal counterpart, Herb Gray, and proposed a summit to deal with the smuggling concerns especially of Ontarians, but I think it could be broadened beyond that. Up to this point Mr Gray has indicated that he may be receptive to this. The federal Attorney General, Mr Rock, has also indicated some interest. I will be meeting with Mr Gray next week, and hopefully some time early in the new year we can have a smuggling summit to deal with these very important issues.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Premier. I was afraid when the member for Niagara Falls rose in the House he was going to ask a question about the closing of hospitals in Niagara and beat me to it, but I will ask a question of the Premier about his commitment and closing hospitals.

Premier, no Conservative candidate I'm aware of talked about closing hospitals during the last provincial election campaign, and you said during the leaders' debate, in answer to a very direct question, the following: "Well, certainly I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals."

Premier, if you're to live up to this publicly made commitment on the television stations and radio across this province, a commitment to the people of Ontario, will you assure the people of St Catharines that the Hotel Dieu Hospital in our city will not be closed?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As I recall in the debate, I think the NDP had a commission out to close hospitals, the leader of the Liberal Party said she would not rule out closing hospitals and I said I didn't have a plan at that time to close hospitals. I think all three were quite honest and quite up front at that particular point in time.

What I can assure you is that I still have no plan. However, I can tell you that as a result of the previous government's restructuring efforts, work that was done by the district health councils, people from within the region of Niagara themselves believe that restructuring is necessary, and they are asking the government for support in that.

Mr Bradley: We're not allowed to say that anybody's misleading the House or misleading the people of Ontario, so I won't say that. I only say that the Premier said --

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

Mr Bradley: I said I won't say that.

The Speaker: No, it doesn't matter. You can't infer something that you can't directly make the comment on. I ask you to withdraw that comment.

Mr Bradley: I don't think I should, but I will. I will withdraw that comment.

You said, "Well, certainly I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals." You can twist that around any way you want. That's very straightforward. Anybody hearing you on television would have assumed that you were not going to be responsible for the closing of hospitals in Ontario.

Your government has slashed $38 million from hospital operating budgets in the Niagara region, and your government has then sent a blunt message to local hospital restructuring commissions and district health councils that if they don't swing the scalpel, the provincial government, your hospital closing commission, will swing the meat-axe.

Premier, haven't you really intimidated local authorities into recommending the closing of hospitals while you wash your hands of the whole affair?

Hon Mr Harris: No, not at all. I believe the member is referring to the fact that tomorrow the Niagara Regional District Health Council itself is releasing its own restructuring report, a locally developed proposal being available for discussion.

Mr Bradley: No, it's not; it was today.

Hon Mr Harris: Today, perhaps, then. You will be, no doubt, wanting to comment on it. The government will want to comment on it. The Ministry of Health will want to comment on it. Local people will want to comment on it. What I can tell you is that I think all three parties have acknowledged that restructuring is going to be required. Your own leader has indicated there's enough money in the health care system. "I don't think we are spending it as effectively as we can," he said. I agree. For 10 years, it was not spent as effectively as it could have been.

I can assure you that we plan to spend it more effectively, provide better services and work with local communities on how we can do that.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. The people of Ontario today, December 12, are still waiting to hear from you and your ministry what went wrong on the night of February 29-March 1 at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

On September 11, 1996, on your way into cabinet, you said, "The internal investigation with respect to Elgin-Middlesex and Bluewater really hinges upon completion of the police investigation, and the ministry has no role to play here." You went on to say, "Our investigators cannot speak to potential witnesses until the police have completed their investigation, so that's what's delaying us with respect to the internal investigation."

Minister, would you tell us in this House why it would have been inappropriate for ministry investigators to be conducting their investigation while the police investigation was proceeding?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): In fact they were, and they've been conducting a parallel investigation, but they did develop a protocol with the London police with respect to these matters, so that when they were advised by the London police that they had completed their particular investigation, or their need to meet and deal with potential witnesses and others with respect to the investigation, then they would indicate to the internal team that they had no problem with respect to them pursuing that particular matter. That's the way this whole matter has proceeded.

Mrs Boyd: This is very peculiar because this minister has claimed again and again that he could not give us any information about his internal investigation pending the police investigation being completed. It is now, of course. We know that 31 charges have been laid against eight people.

I guess the question here is: The minister has said again and again it would be inappropriate. Now he tells us that it's true. He knows that's because we have the memo from his investigator, Ken Christopherson, to all employees at Elgin-Middlesex, telling them they should come forward if they had information, telling them he was working with the London police, advising them to call at the same number as the London police department, and knowing, as I'm sure he does, that under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act those employees are required to talk to internal investigators, and that the internal investigator was passing on personnel files for employees of the ministry to the police in an inappropriate way.

Minister, what we really see here is a very, very strange circumstance where you've avoided --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, member.

Hon Mr Runciman: This is a serious matter and I've indicated to the members of the House on previous occasions that I wish to see this resolved as quickly as possible. Certainly every indication from the lead investigator, Mr Christopherson, is that once the police investigation is completed, he felt quite sincerely that they could, in a timely fashion, complete the internal investigation in terms of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and all the other requirements that may fall into place here, but certainly make the results of his investigation as public as we possibly can. Certainly I've had no indication from Mr Christopherson, following the police investigation, that there will be any substantive delay. I'm very optimistic that in the not-very-distant future we will have that internal investigation completed and the results made public as much as possible.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): My question is to the minister responsible for seniors. In a recent discussion paper put out jointly by the federal government, officials representing all territories and provinces in Canada have found that 50% of medication prescribed for seniors has been inappropriately used. This has serious cost implications to the government in terms of drug expenditures, but more tragic, it has serious health implications. A good many of them who are put into hospital have complications. Better than 40% of those people who are put into hospital are mixed up on medication. What is the government doing to address these concerns of seniors?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): This is a major challenge for health care. As the member has alluded to, the Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers did a study on this last year and found out that the inappropriate use of medication is costing about $5 billion to Canadian taxpayers. This isn't just in waste, it's also in overutilization and unnecessary use of our hospitals.

Right here in Metro Toronto, the pharmacists undertook a project earlier this year and asked, "For a two-week period, bring in the excess drugs that you're not using." They collected 8,500 pounds -- that's over four tons -- of drugs. This is an immense cost to Ontario's drug benefit plan which is costing taxpayers $1.2 billion.

This government has acted with intensive information packages, but also it has reduced the maximum possible supply per prescription from 250 days down to 100 days, and it has been supporting the Ontario Health Network, a province-wide computer system that helps pharmacists to provide information to seniors on how best to use their medications.

Mr Rollins: In visiting with many of the seniors in the Quinte riding, they are concerned about the waste of medication. They also want to make sure that expanded drug programs are in place. What is the government doing to see that these savings from reduction of waste are reinvested into the plan?


Hon Mr Jackson: We think this is good news because getting at this waste we've been able to save money and reinvest it by adding 275 new drugs to the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary. We've been adding to the list when the previous two governments took drugs off the list that seniors were paying for.

In June our health minister, the member for Simcoe West, took leadership at the federal-provincial-territorial meetings and is committed to developing a national strategy to increase the proper utilization of drugs by our seniors. Education is the key, and there'll be more coming for information for seniors and caregivers. Already this year the Ministry of Health has published prescribing guidelines to assist physicians in the treatment of heart failure and that is to complement the Minister of Health's initiative for 16 million more new dollars committed to expanded cardiac care.

In every way, this government is reinvesting in health care and we are finding better ways to deliver more service at less cost --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. On October 28 I raised in the Legislature the case of 93-year-old Mrs Catherine Duffy, who had been sent a $9,000 bill by Joe Brant hospital in Burlington. Mrs Duffy was forced to be in the hospital as a result of the lack of home care beds in the region. As a result of that, the board of governors --

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): That's not true.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister responsible for seniors, that must be withdrawn.


Mr Agostino: The board of governors reviewed the case and now has suggested that there is a $9,000 bill outstanding and that a collection agency will now have to go after Mrs Duffy to collect the money. Minister, do you believe it's appropriate for a hospital in this province to send a collection agency after a 93-year-old woman to collect a $9,000 bill?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): On the basis of the description that the member opposite has given to me, I can understand there would be a great deal of sympathy for this individual. But I quite often find that when I've had an opportunity to look into these matters, the story is somewhat different from the one I'm presented with in the first instance. So again I would say that, with the assistance of my colleague from Burlington, who I know is well-versed on this matter, I'll be happy to look into the circumstances of this particular situation.

Mr Agostino: I spoke to Mrs Duffy's daughter today. Ms Morris said to us very clearly that she went to the hospital, she appealed the decision, that the hospital made it very clear to her they're not going to waive the $9,000 bill. The reason this woman had to be placed there was because there was not a bed available in Halton region and she felt she had to be near there, she had to be in a situation where she could look after her mother. Most of us in that situation would react the same way. As a result of that, she is facing a bill. It is very clearly, and the hospital administrators told us, a result of the cutbacks and the shortage in hospital beds. That is the reason why this had to occur and why this bill was sent.

Minister, would you give us a commitment today that you will personally look into the case and that you will talk to the hospital administrators about waiving this $9,000 bill and reassure this 93-year-old woman that a collection agency will not be going after her for the bill?

Hon David Johnson: I'd be happy to give a commitment that I would look into this particular matter. If the member opposite will pass the details, again with my colleague from Burlington, I'm sure we'd be happy to get the details and respond to this.

I will say that of course the decision to levy the charge comes from the hospital, not from this government. This government has put health care as its number one priority of all services through the last election and through the term of this government. We have increased health care spending by $300 million in the province and we're looking to make health care better, including the health care through the hospital systems in the Hamilton area. But I'd be happy to look into the circumstances.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): They would rather have access to health care than a tax cut.

The Speaker: Member for Oriole, come to order, please.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Mr Speaker, on a point of personal privilege: Earlier the Minister of Municipal Affairs attributed a direct quote to me that indeed is not a quote from me at all. It's a characterization by a reporter, and I was only commenting about Hamilton-Wentworth. I want to correct the record --

The Speaker: The fact is, you can't correct someone else's record. You can only correct your own record.

Mr Christopherson: Well, it is my name he used and he is wrong.

The Speaker: Then it's up to you to stand in your place at some point in time and say that specifically.

Mr Christopherson: I just did.

The Speaker: I know. That's why points of privilege are so interesting.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have a petition entitled Stop the Cuts to Ontario's Poor: Express Your Conscientious Objection to Tax Cuts.

"The government of Ontario is planning to implement tax cuts that will benefit well-off people while at the same time they have cut incomes to the poor. Forty-six percent of Ontario families make less than $35,000 a year but will get only 7.3% of the benefits of the proposed tax cuts, or about $462 a year. Families with total incomes over $90,000 a year make up only 9.2% of all Ontario families, but they will get 32.7% of the benefits. In these tough times it is unconscionable that the poor go hungry and the wealthy are given more.

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, request that the Legislature of Ontario not approve any tax cuts until the causes of poverty and unemployment are dealt with effectively and until the provincial deficit is paid down."

I affix my signature to the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from CEP on behalf of the tens of thousands of workers they represent.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government will introduce legislation to amend the Workers' Compensation Act and distribute a discussion paper about changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Whereas the expected changes include erosion of the right to refuse unsafe work; that workers will be forced to apply to their employer for WCB benefits; that employers will decide if the claim is valid; that reduction in power of the joint health and safety committees will be enacted; and elimination of compensation for certain injuries and diseases; and

"Whereas the Workers' Compensation Act is a vital protection for all workers in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Occupational Health and Safety Act has prevented untold numbers of accidents and saved thousands from illness and diseases;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, demand full public hearings throughout the province of Ontario on the Workers' Compensation Act proposed changes, and that no changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workers' right to refuse and joint health and safety committees be made."

I add my signature to theirs.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I have a petition here signed by 4,000 people in my riding and from Flamborough out of a population of 28,000. It states as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"We object to the recently proposed supercity model for restructuring local government within Hamilton-Wentworth.

"Specifically, we oppose any model which would dissolve the town of Flamborough.

"We insist that any model for local government reform guarantee full citizen input and support prior to its implementation in accordance with the principles of the Common Sense Revolution."

I support this petition and have affixed my name to it.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "To the Legislative Assembly:

"Whereas the closing down of regional offices of the family support plan has left cases inaccessible and unattended for both payors and recipients;

"Whereas the recipients represent real women and real children now facing eviction, food banks, loss of heat and phone services directly due to the closing of the regional offices and the unattended boxes of files;

"Whereas the support funds are not the property of Charles Harnick and his ministry and the holding of these payments violates the rights of children to basic needs of food, clothing and shelter;

"Whereas the present Tory government is not responding to but adding to the increased poverty in Ontario in the area of family support, contravening the UN designating 1996 as the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty;

"We, the undersigned, recommend to the Legislative Assembly as follows:

"To stop the forced passing of Bill 82 with the exception of the enforcement strategy and hold open forum with the people;

"To immediately expedite the disbursement of the FSP cheques to women and children who have been directly affected by the closing of the regional offices at least;

"To set up emergency FSP offices to handle the economic hardships of women and children by hiring back at least a skeletal crew of FSP trained staff to alleviate the numbers of the mishandled cases;

"To send out ministerial statements to the offices of hydro, telephone and banking institutions explaining the transition of the FSP office and supply emergency cash to those recipients via the ministries of Community and Social Services, women's issues or the ministry of Charles Harnick."

It's signed by a large number of my constituents, mostly from the Elliot Lake area.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition because a lot of people all over Ontario are very concerned about this so-called Tenant Protection Act. This one comes from Essex, Ontario. It's a petition to the Ontario Legislature, to Premier Mike Harris, Minister Al Leach and members of the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution document;

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;

"Whereas the government has consulted with special interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants of Ontario;

"Whereas although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished; and

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."

I support this petition.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

"Grants to ensure that all Ontarians have equalized access to library materials and services;

"Coordination of resource-sharing programs such as interlibrary loan and Internet access;

"Policy to ensure the future of the network of Ontario public libraries;

"Provincial assistance directly to libraries at the service level, for example, through Southern Ontario Library Service and Ontario North service;

"Legislation that maintains the autonomy of public library boards."

This is signed by over 200 constituents in the riding of Hastings-Peterborough, and I affix my signature.


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

"We, the undersigned, protest the Ministry of Health's decision to allow for the removal from the Nursing Home Act the requirement for a minimum of one registered nurse on duty 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

"Literature supports, as does the ministry's resident classification, that the care requirements of residents in long-term-care facilities are steadily increasing and are increasingly more complex.

"Residents have multiple health problems requiring the knowledge and skill of the registered nurse to assess and intervene appropriately.

"We believe that the residents have a basic right to registered nurse care and supervision."

This is respectfully submitted from hundreds of long-term-care residents, their families, their friends and their caregivers. I sign my name to this important petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from the United Food and Commercial Workers, Canadian Auto Workers, United Steelworkers of America, Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Amalgamated Transit Union with regard to the government's continuing attack on workers' compensation.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

I add my name to theirs.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph): I have a petition pertaining to ending certain hunting practices such as spring bear hunting, bear baiting and the use of hounds to hunt bear. It is signed by 429 concerned Ontarians, most from my riding of Guelph. It appears to be in a standard form and I'm submitting it on their behalf today.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition signed by a number of people in St Catharines that reads as follows.

"Whereas the Conservative government of Mike Harris has closed three out of five hospitals in Thunder Bay and two out of three hospitals in Sudbury; and

"Whereas drastic funding cuts to hospitals across Ontario are intimidating hospital boards, district health councils and local hospital restructuring commissions into considering the closing of local hospitals; and

"Whereas hospitals in the Niagara region have provided an outstanding essential service to patients and have been important facilities for medical staff to treat the residents of the Niagara Peninsula and will be required for people in Niagara for years to come; and

"Whereas the population of Niagara is on average older than that in most areas of the province;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Minister of Health to restore adequate funding to hospitals in the Niagara region and guarantee that his government will not close any hospitals in the Niagara Peninsula."

I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement, and I hand this petition to the page from the city of St Catharines, Lauren Kennedy of St Denis school.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition from a number of people in my riding. I have received many of those same petitions before, which I read here. It 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 signature to this petition.


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

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

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

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

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

I support this petition and have signed it.



Mrs Caplan: I'm forwarding this petition on behalf of the students and families of St Timothy school:

"Dear 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 expenditure 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 the building of a superjail while withholding funds for necessary school construction;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly 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 in support of this important petition.



Mr Jackson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 102, An Act to improve community safety by amending the Change of Name Act, the Ministry of Correctional Services Act and the Police Services Act / Projet de loi 102, Loi visant à accroître la sécurité de la collectivité en modifiant la Loi sur le changement de nom, la Loi sur le ministère des Services correctionnels et la Loi sur les services policiers.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the wish of the House that this motion carry? It is carried.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): The Community Safety Act is a very important step towards making Ontarians feel more safe in their own communities. By amending the Police Services Act and the Correctional Services Act and the Change of Name Act, administered by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, this new act will allow justice officials to notify the public of the release of dangerous offenders into their community.

The act will also close some of the legal loopholes around the change of name process. For example, the amendments to the Change of Name Act will provide a process for police to update information to reflect an individual's legal name change on the Canadian police information system. By allowing the linking of individuals to their criminal record despite a change of their name, the Community Safety Act will result in improved law enforcement and investigation in areas such as restraining orders on spouse abusers and stalkers.

Finally, these amendments enhance victims' and community access to information at all stages of the justice process, fulfilling the principles of the Victims' Bill of Rights brought in by this government. These amendments are also in keeping with the recommendations made by the Christopher Stephenson inquest and support the victim notification system of the ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services.

The Acting Speaker: I would like to remind the minister that it's customary that it's a brief statement and not debate.



Mr Tilson, on behalf of Mr Harnick, moved third reading of the following bill:

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.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I intend to make a few remarks with respect to Bill 82 on behalf of the government. After that, I believe it's been agreed with the two opposition parties that the remaining time would be split between them and that there would be no two-minute responses.

In presenting Bill 82 for third reading today I would like to express the appreciation of the Attorney General and myself to all the members of the standing committee on administration of justice for their comments with respect to this bill. I'd like to thank them for their support in allocating time during the current session to ensure a speedy passage of this bill. Your support, we believe, will help us to get more money flowing to women and children in this province. Although we may differ with respect to some aspects of the approach, I know we share a common concern in wanting to enhance justice for children and women.

I would also like to thank all the presenters who came to the committee hearings last week to share their views with respect to Bill 82. I appreciate the effort and time they took in preparation and making their presentations to the committee.

During the committee hearings a total of 51 amendments were made to Bill 82. The amendments will further strengthen the bill's effectiveness in meeting the needs of children and women, clarify its intent and address some concerns that emerged during our debate of Bill 82.

In my remarks this afternoon I will highlight some key amendments that have been made. The goal of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act is to provide a strong, firm foundation for a new support enforcement program in Ontario that will truly meet the needs of women and children by providing them with economic security and the funds they are legally entitled to receive.

The old family support plan, while well intentioned, is broken. It is not meeting the needs of children and women.

Our government's new legislation deals with the shortcomings and weaknesses of the old plan. It closes the loopholes that led to the situation where today defaulting payors owe Ontario's children and women nearly $1 billion in support payment arrears, where three out of four families are not getting the money they deserve and which they are legally entitled to receive, and where money is not flowing regularly in nearly half the family support plan cases.

Our new legislation puts three critical building blocks in place: (1) tougher enforcement measures; (2) automatic filing with voluntary opting out; and (3) private sector partnerships. They form the basis for a new, more effective support enforcement plan that will get the children and women of Ontario the money they rightfully deserve and that they are legally entitled to receive.

Bill 82 sends a clear message to defaulting payors: Not paying support obligations is no longer acceptable in Ontario. With the passage of Bill 82, Ontario will have some of the most stringent support enforcement measures in North America. These include 10 tough new tools.

The first is driver's licence suspension. Under part V of the bill we are giving the new Family Responsibility Office the authority to suspend the drivers' licences of people who refuse to meet their family support responsibilities. Defaulting payors will receive 30 days' notice to pay their arrears or arrange a satisfactory payment plan. Otherwise we will suspend their licences.

The suspension will not depend on the five-year licence renewal scheme. We will not reissue a suspended licence until the defaulting payor pays off the debt or establishes a satisfactory repayment plan.

The Family Responsibility Office, pursuant to section 47 of the bill, will have the right to report defaulting payors to credit bureaus. By reflecting negatively on their credit ratings, it will be harder for defaulting payors to take loans and buy luxury items while their support payments go unpaid.

We anticipate that both driver's licence suspension and credit bureau reporting will be very effective in enforcing support order payments by self-employed and intermittently employed payors.

Bill 82 gives the Family Responsibility Office the authority, under section 43, to register support orders as security interest under the Personal Property Security Act.

This will provide notice to commercial lenders that an individual has a support debt. Subject to the priority rules in the Personal Property Security Act, any added borrowing by the support payor will be subject to the Family Responsibility Office's registration and priority. When an asset is sold, child support will have priority over subsequent registered and unregistered interests.


Amendments to the Creditors' Relief Act, which are in section 66 of the bill, give priority to all support arrears over other judgement creditors. This means that when a sheriff takes steps to collect on the support payor's judgement debts, support arrears will be paid even if there are other judgement creditors.

The current legislative mandate for the family support plan contains loopholes that let defaulting payors avoid paying support by sheltering their assets and income with the help of third parties. Through third-party enforcement in section 41 of the bill, the Family Responsibility Office will be in a position to ask the court to order production of financial statements from third parties, add third parties to a default hearing and make orders against people who help defaulting payors to shelter their assets and income to avoid support orders.

There are protections for innocent third parties. Third parties will be added to a default hearing or be required to file a financial statement only if the court is satisfied that it's appropriate to do so -- that is, where there is some evidence of the sheltering of assets or income. Any order for payment that is made against a third party will be limited to the actual amount of the sheltering of income or assets and only when there is a finding by the court that the assets were sheltered. Further, financial information that third parties file will only be used for the court process, including enforcement of any order made, and will be sealed by the court in order to protect confidentiality.

Another loophole allowed payors to shelter funds in joint bank accounts with other parties. The old family support plan was not able to garnish these accounts. Under section 45 of the new legislation, the Family Responsibility Office will have the authority to garnish up to 50% of the money in a joint bank account. Again, we have included provisions to protect innocent third parties.

Another tough new enforcement measure covered in section 46 of the bill involves the seizure of lottery winnings over $1,000. A defaulting payor should not be able to benefit from a windfall while his or her support obligations go unpaid. If a defaulting payor wins more than $1,000 in a provincial lottery, the Ontario Lottery Corp will deduct any support payment arrears from the winnings. It will then pay the deducted amount to the director of the Family Responsibility Office.

Under section 1 of Bill 82, we are expanding the definition of income to close another loophole. The old definition of income was too narrow. This loophole made it possible for some payors to avoid their support obligations. Income under the new act will include advances, severances and lump sum payments. This will improve the enforcement of support order payments by intermittently employed payors and payors who have non-standard payment arrangements with their employers.

Section 54 of the bill gives the Family Responsibility Office much better methods to trace and locate defaulting parents. Clause 54(1)(b) permits the Family Responsibility Office to have access to provincial government records to search for information about a payor for the purposes of support enforcement. We have made amendments to focus record access on what's really important for the Family Responsibility Office -- finding the payor and their assets and income.

Bill 82 makes it clear how unacceptable our government finds the non-payment of support obligations. To further emphasize this, we will screen all provincial government appointments to exclude people who fail to pay their child support. While this does not require legislation, I believe it reflects our commitment to ensure that women and children in this province get the money that they rightfully deserve and that they are legally entitled to receive.

The second critical building block in Bill 82 is automatic filing with voluntary opting out. Responsible parties who are fully meeting their support order obligations do not need government supervision in their personal business. Where both parties agree, section 16 allows them to opt out of the government-run plan. Let me restate that our government is very aware of the potential for a vulnerable spouse to be subjected to coercion or abuse or who, for a variety of reasons, may be in an unequal bargaining relationship.

To protect women in those situations, subsection 9(2) of the bill will give judges the authority to prohibit spouses from opting out of the family responsibility program where they find it appropriate to do so. It gives a judge the authority to stipulate that a support order can never be withdrawn from the program by the spouse.

Voluntary opting out of the program is not an irreversible decision. Recipients and payors who have opted out will be able to return to the family responsibility program at any time.

Some presenters to the standing committee raised concerns about the potential impact of section 7. Section 7 gives the director of the Family Responsibility Office the authority to close cases. It codifies what have been the family support plan's existing policies and procedures for refusing to enforce a support order and the related support deduction order in cases where enforcement is unreasonable or impractical.

As was indicated by the Attorney General when he spoke to the committee last week, it was never his intent that section 7 would provide a way to get rid of hard to enforce cases from the mandate of the Family Responsibility Office. To make this abundantly clear, he has made two amendments to section 7. The first amendment deletes clause 7(1)(d) of Bill 82. This removes long-standing arrears as a criterion for closing cases. The second amendment is to clause 7(1)(f). It removes the criterion that permitted a case to be closed because the payor could not be found.

These changes are to clarify that the government's initiative is designed to find payors no matter how old the arrears and wherever the payor goes. The director of the Family Responsibility Office will continue to have the discretion to close cases. Guidelines will be put in place setting out the specific circumstances where cases can be closed.

The director of the Family Responsibility Office will be accountable to the Attorney General for the manner in which he or she fulfils his or her statutory obligations and remains subject to review by the Ombudsman as to the manner in which the program operates.

Giving the new Family Responsibility Office the legislative mandate to close certain cases based on strict criteria will let it focus its resources and expertise on difficult cases, where the program's intervention can make a real difference. However, as I've stated previously, the decision to close a case will not be made easily or in haste. The Family Responsibility Office will only close a case after exhaustive efforts have been made to enforce a support order and the related support deduction order over a period of time.

Section 4 of Bill 82 contains the third building block for a new program. It gives the Family Responsibility Office the authority to enter into private sector partnerships. In the Common Sense Revolution we made a commitment to review all core businesses and enter into partnerships with the private sector where it can provide services more effectively and efficiently. This could include drawing on private sector expertise to collect support payment arrears.

The members of this House and presenters to the committee told us they were concerned that recipients might have to pay the cost of having a private sector company collect arrears. Again, it was never the intent that recipients should pay to get money that is rightfully and legally theirs. The Attorney General has therefore amended section 4 to specify that the defaulting payor, not the recipient, pays any costs to collect arrears. If any payor wants to avoid this extra cost, the answer is simple: Pay your support and pay it on time.

By the end of January we will begin the implementation of our key enforcement tools, starting with the driver's licence suspension, reporting delinquent payors to credit bureaus and putting processes in place to screen all provincial government and judicial appointments. We will also begin a staged implementation of voluntary opting out. By the summer of 1997 all our tough new enforcement tools will be in place.


We are also continuing to move swiftly to complete the re-engineering and redesign of the plan's work processes. In January our new customer service call centre will be fully operational. This means our client service associates will be handling all of the incoming clients' needs by telephone. This will go a long way towards resolving the chronic access problems that plagued the old family support plan for many years. Under the old plan there were 50,000 calls a day, and only 6% got through. Already, about 50% of the calls are being answered.

Next month we will also complete testing with income sources of electronic commerce hardware and software with the goal of achieving faster and more accurate transferral of funds from payors to the program and ultimately to the recipients.

Throughout the transformation to the new program, our number one priority will be to continue to be processing payments and acting on hot tips. A hot tip is information received by the program that could help collect money the defaulting payor owes his family. It could include a defaulting payor's address, place of employment, bank accounts, property or other income sources. Again, our goal is to get money flowing to families, to get them the money they rightfully deserve and are legally entitled to receive.

We are transferring more money to more families more quickly than before. All cheques are processed within 24 to 36 hours of receipt. Under the old plan this could take up to one week. We are processing more than 5,000 transactions per day, a 25% increase.

Bill 82 fulfils the commitment that our government made in the Common Sense Revolution to crack down on defaulting payors and to enforce support order payments. Not paying support order obligations is no longer acceptable in the province of Ontario.

I am pleased to table Bill 82 for third reading.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Downsview.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to share my time with the member for St Catharines.

The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to share the time with the member for St Catharines?


Ms Castrilli: You wouldn't deny him that, would you?

The Acting Speaker: It is agreed.

Ms Castrilli: Thank you very much.

In a just and fair society, no child would ever go hungry. In a just and fair society in Canada, no woman would be forced to consider how she is to provide her children with the necessities of life, let alone presents so close to Christmas.

Yesterday the United Nations released a report which indicated that child poverty is reaching epidemic proportions in the world. Canada does not escape from that. In fact, more and more Canadian children are being forced to find work in order to be able to contribute to the family income simply to get through.

What this bill really is about is not the fancy title that it has been given, but it's a fact that it should be dealing with the real issue, which is child and female poverty. In a democratic society that believes in fairness and justice, that ought to be our first priority.

Let me say that this particular bill does address some important issues. Let me say that we are in agreement with the government that the family support services plan required an overhaul. Let me also say that there are some provisions in the bill which are worthy of support. We particularly applaud the expansion of the definition of "income source" to include such new categories as lump-sum disability, pensions, workers' compensation, commissions, bonuses, annuities, dividends and income tax refunds. That will allow a more accurate assessment of income in order to be able to determine the basis upon which payments should be made.

Let me also say that the bill acknowledges that there are parents who take their financial commitments seriously. It allows payors and recipients to agree to opt out of enforcement by the Family Responsibility Office and to enforce the support orders themselves. While we agree that it is absolutely essential to reduce the case work wherever possible, there's a real concern with this step because it creates the possibility that one partner may coerce another rather than deal with the government system. Women who depend on their spouses are in no position to bargain. We caution the government again, as I did on a previous reading of this bill, that it must act to ensure, and it is indeed its responsibility to ensure, that women and children are not victimized once again by the system.

We would have preferred a plan where payors in good standing would have been removed only after having been in good standing for a defined period of time. We still believe this is the smart way to go. The decision should not be at the discretion of the parties. Instead, it should depend on the payor being in good standing for a required length of time, and that determination should be made by the plan administrators. Any default on the part of an opted-out payor would automatically trigger reinstatement into the plan by the plan administrators.

We endorse those new enforcement measures that were outlined by the minister in July. Stakeholders demanded action in this area from the previous government but didn't get very far. We support the suspension of the driver's licence of defaulters. We support the reporting of defaulters to credit rating bureaus. We support the garnishing of joint bank accounts up to 50% if one of the holders of the account is a defaulting payor. We support the ordering of third parties who have a financial relationship with a defaulter to provide financial statements, and allowing orders to be made against such parties if they were involved in sheltering the payor's assets or income from enforcement of the support order.

We also support the registering of support orders as security interests under the Personal Property Security Act, allowing for the seizure of personal property upon default, and the intercepting of lottery winnings of $1,000 or more and requiring support arrears to be paid from them before the winnings are distributed to defaulters. We support as well giving support orders priority over judgement debts.

But all of this does not go very far to address the issue which I first mentioned, which is the poverty of children and women at this time. This bill doesn't take very seriously the enormous problems the family support payment plan has in fact encountered for a long time, particularly under the jurisdiction of this government. What we need first and foremost of course in order to deal with the issue of child and female poverty is a prospering economy, an economy with jobs, an economy where parents can pay and fulfil their financial obligations. The inability or refusal to pay we know has devastating impacts on children, and there should always be zero tolerance of that.

All the government's plans have in fact worked against that sector of society. The so-called promise of 725,000 jobs really hasn't materialized and it hasn't affected a very significant --

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): Only one year.

Ms Castrilli: Well, divide it by four, sir. You still haven't met the promise. There are more people unemployed now than there were when you took office, and that is a statistic.

The government's promise of a tax break has absolutely no effect on people who have a limited income, and certainly makes no dent at all in the lives of people who are forced to fight every day just to survive. We need to pursue means of improving the system and strengthening the enforcement mechanism, yes -- this government has chosen to ignore the most simple and obvious improvements -- instead of ramrodding massive structural changes down the throats of Ontarians without adequate planning, without adequate preparation.

I will remind everyone here of the growing problems we've had since this government took power: computer deficiencies. That's the least of it. The fact is there will not be an effective computer system in place until next year sometime; as late as June 1997 is the latest projection.


We've seen bureaucratic delays of women who have not been able to access funds that were paid into the plan by their husbands. There's $1 billion sitting in the Royal Bank of Canada, and we have yet to determine where the interest from that money will go.

There's been a massive caseload which has been ignored as the government has shut down offices without having any kind of plan in mind as to what it would do in the interim and following the shutdown.

We have a system that quite frankly has been thrown into chaos. The problems we've documented in this House over and over again: boxed files which prevent access, cheque delays, files lost, parents and children suffering, tender for computer and information systems that have just been completed now and won't be fully operational for another six months.

Let's talk about some of the real problems with the plan. We can start with the Attorney General himself, who stated in this House on October 2, 1996: "With a caseload of approximately 148,000 cases and an average of 1,400 new cases every month, the family support plan is ill equipped to handle its caseload. The plan receives up to 50,000 calls a day to its offices. Of these calls, only 6% of the callers actually get through." Now, of course, more get through, but they get through to a machine that tells them to call back. "Almost 8,000 letters arrive daily, most of which are complaints from clients about the lack of telephone service."

One would think, in the light of the Attorney General's own assessment of the situation, that surely if you were going to enter into a new arrangement, into a new system, into a more equitable system, you would've had a plan in mind before you started to close offices. Surely one would have thought that you might have listened to the very people who work in that area, the very people who went so far as to provide some suggestions as to what you might do.

We have, for instance, no less than the Ottawa family support plan indicating the very real serious problems in their area, who ask, for instance, how, when the only access will be via a toll-free telephone number, can the present system work better than the eight regional systems that we now have?

There have been suggestions sent to the Ministry of the Attorney General from a number of caregivers in that particular area and workers in that area which in fact even set out some savings initiatives and proposals: to reduce salaries, for instance, by 20%; to do a detailed review of how you do business; to keep the FSP regional offices decentralized, which is important to women who cannot access a system otherwise; to improve client services; to meet 35% cost reduction over the next two fiscal years; to maintain 35% cost reduction, with additional savings from the business review and the coming of Phoenix and EDI, which will reduce the number of staff; to implement immediate and short-term cost-saving measures where the need has been identified and requested for years; and to reassess the savings on an ongoing basis. A very long, detailed plan put forward by the family support services plan of Ottawa, which was totally ignored.

This, by the way, sir, was dated March 5, 1996, long before the government began to think of even its computer tender, which it only sent out last week. Those who are in the field and who could point out the problems and made suggestions for change went ignored. Those, of course, who suffer are the women and children themselves.

I'd like you to listen to a few of the stories to get the flavour of what is going on out there. Remember, 148,000 cases. I only have but a half-dozen here, but these are reflective of so many thousands more who are in difficulty.

Yesterday, for instance, my colleague from Prescott-Russell brought to the attention of the House the plight of Jacynthe Leroux. Here's the story of a woman who has children and for the last six months has been paying child support for a child of whom she has custody. She has gone so far as to go to court, after having tried unsuccessfully to reach the Attorney General's hotline and not being able to get through to anyone, having gone down in person and having delivered the agreement between her and her husband that would allow her not to pay the support. She decided at long last she could stand it no longer, so she went to court. She got a court order against the Attorney General, which I have right here. Do you know? The court agreed with her. She had custody of her son. Why should her wages be garnished and paid over to her husband who didn't have custody of the child?

Having a court order, one would say, would have made matters easier. Guess what? Absolutely nothing happened. That court order has been presented three times to the family support plan and ignored three times. You can imagine the frustration of a mother, with Christmas approaching, when she asks: "What do I do? Three weeks away, what do I tell my son? I can't even pay my rent," which by the way was due last Sunday. This is with a court order.

There's the story of Carolynn Ioannoni, who writes that it took her well over a month to get through to the family support plan and actually speak to a person, and even though she managed to get a person, the results were futile. To make matters worse, her husband was receiving notices from the family support plan stating that he was in arrears, although he was making payments into the plan. His wages were automatically garnished, she was receiving nothing, and she could not get through to the plan to sort this out.

This is not an isolated incident. This happens all the time. These are people who are suffering and are asking for our help, and quite frankly it is up to us to make sure that help is there.

Speaker, I notice that we don't have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please.

Acting Clerk Assistant (Ms Donna Bryce): Speaker, a quorum is not present.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Acting Clerk Assistant: Speaker, a quorum is now present.

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

Ms Castrilli: There's the case of Mrs Cynthia Italiano who is owed $1,900 in arrears and yet again she's not been able to speak to the Ministry of the Attorney General staff. The cheque for $900 that her husband has paid into the plan has been cashed, it just hasn't arrived to the children who need it. She writes:

"I do not mind telling you that because of the delay in payment I've been finding it increasingly difficult to manage. I am not financially able to support my family without such payments. Risking sounding very hostile, I thought that support payments going through the government were supposed to support the mother and her children."

I think she has a point. In fact we all thought that was the case, that they were supposed to support the mother and the children, not remain in some account that nobody can touch and not being handled by individuals who do not answer the phone. So here we are with a system that in fact is not taking its responsibilities seriously with respect to the women and children who need its help the most.


There have been several amendments that have been suggested. My party made what we believed to be reasonable and essential amendments but the government rejected all the amendments outright.

The member for Dufferin-Peel alluded to section 7, which gives a director discretion to refuse to enforce support or support deduction orders under certain circumstances. We believe there has to be some form of safeguard with such widespread discretionary powers. For example, we proposed requiring the director to give the recipient at least 60 days' written notice of his or her refusal to enforce the order. Such a notice would inform the recipient of their right, within 30 days, to apply to the Ontario Court (General Division) for an order to set aside the director's decision. Furthermore, the recipient would be informed of the right to require the director to obtain a legal aid certificate under the Legal Aid Act on behalf of the recipient.

There is also clearly a need for the Family Responsibility Office to provide legal advice to recipients to assist with understanding the process and pursuing their rights. We must ensure that we do not further burden parents and children with the financial cost of protecting rights, as one individual had to do. Jacynthe Leroux, with her very limited means, had to go to court, and I would remind you that legal aid does not pay in family issues. With very limited means, asking women to have to resort to court to insist on their rights is extraordinary. To insist that women in that situation should even have to consider those remedies is extraordinary.

The bill acknowledges the fact that there are parents who take their financial commitments seriously, and I think that's applaudable. It does allow payors and recipients to agree to opt out of enforcement by the Family Responsibility Office, to enforce the support orders themselves. We agree it's important to reduce the caseload as much as possible. We agree there must be competent people as well to look after those cases. We continue to have concerns about the power of coercion that the individual with money would have over the weaker partner, most often the woman, and whether the responsibilities to children would be discharged equitably. We caution the government once again: Do not victimize again women and children who are already victimized by domestic situations from which they are trying to rebuild.

The amendments we recently made to this bill, which were rejected by the government, would not allow support and related support deduction order withdrawals unless the director had made reasonable inquiries and was satisfied that the recipient did not sign the notice under duress or coercion exercised by the payor. Furthermore, the director would have to be satisfied that the recipient has received legal counsel before signing the notice, and if not, has provided the recipient with independent legal counsel paid for by the Family Responsibility Office.

This is important because it is a responsibility to ensure that whatever agreement is signed is signed freely, without duress, and it is important because women in this situation do not have the funds to access lawyers readily. It is the government's responsibility to ensure the protection of these women and children.

But if the government could not accept this, we also proposed a refined amendment that simply prevented orders from being withdrawn if there have been at any time in the relationship of the payor and the recipient incidents or allegations of threats or mental or physical abuse by the payor to the recipient. One would have thought that would have been a very simple compromise for the government to accept. Why should we not put into the legislation an amendment that protects women in situations where there are very real dangers of abuse, whether mental or physical? The rationale of the government denying that section just baffles the mind and certainly does not do a service to the women and children who are affected by this legislation.

We also proposed that if such an order is withdrawn, the director should monitor the payments made by the payor for a period of at least 12 months after the withdrawal, and if the payor is in default under the support order during that period, the director should commence enforcing the order as if the withdrawal had not occurred. Again a very reasonable amendment: monitoring for 12 months to make sure there was no coercion, there was no duress, and there was stable funding provided to these women and children for the necessities of life. Again, the government rejected that amendment.

Here we have a system where we know there is a problem. We know there is chaos. We know there are children and women suffering. We know the likelihood of them finding employment and being able to thrive is limited in this employment market. We know that 97% of parents ordered to pay child support in Canada are fathers. We know that about 76% of support orders are in arrears. We know that Ontario fathers currently owe about $1 billion, which grows by millions of dollars every year. We know it costs the province approximately $300 million per annum in social assistance payments to families who are not receiving the support payments to which they're entitled by law. We know we have a system currently in place that is gummed up, that is fouled up and that is providing no access and very little benefits to the women and children who need it most.

Bill 82 is less an endeavour to protect and enhance the interests of children and spouses as it is a cost-cutting initiative by a desperate government determined to find the cash to pay for its tax cut.

There is no question that the minister has mishandled the restructuring of the family support plan with such proficiency that he has become desperate to deflect criticism. This bill attempts to do just that by providing the appearance that the so-called reorganization is well-thought-out, controlled and, yes, even righteous. It's an attempt to divert the attention of the members of the House and the public from the very real problems that are experienced within the family support plan, problems created directly by the government's rapid move to downsize, decentralize and consolidate the plan without any thought. It's "Cut first, plan later." That simply doesn't work when you have very vulnerable people involved, nor should we tolerate it. It is an attempt to divert attention from the very real harm that is being inflicted on women and children by the delays caused by a system that has been ill-conceived and rushed.

There's no question that this appears on the surface as an attack on women and children. A generous person might say, "Well, this attack is not intentional," but it is nevertheless real. All of our offices have been swamped with cases of women and children who are desperate to find an answer. As we get closer to Christmas, it becomes even more desperate. There isn't a single member in this House who hasn't been approached, I wager, by women and children who are facing exactly the same situations of the women whom I indicated a little while ago.


The minister is trying to convince us that this restructuring is going to eliminate waste, save money and improve efficiency, but we have seen in this House day after day, with all of the examples that we have been given, that the family support plan dismantlement project is proving to be a political and financial disaster. All it does is show us how to ram through ideologically driven policies without thinking of the consequences for the people this plan is supposed to be serving.

Even the staff at the office of the public guardian and trustee has written to the minister to say that this is not acceptable, that this is a shame on the government, that shutting down the family support plan so quickly is unconscionable. They write: "Where are all our tax dollars going? The government closes the family support plan offices, which were generating income that went back into the government treasury, sends the surplused employees away, realizes there's a backlog and hires an outside agency to tackle the backlog. What happens when the new proposed plan doesn't work? They spend our tax dollars to decentralize again. The government is playing games with our lives."

I think we could find no more damning comment than by some of the people who are most involved in this issue, the office of the public trustee.

Let me just mention a few of the problems that we have been experiencing in our office, and I am sure we are not unique in any way. Women have told us of delays that have gone on for six weeks or longer in sending out cheques to mothers and children. When you are living day to day, six weeks or longer is an interminable amount of time. When children now are being forced to go to school and pay for supplies and there is no money in the kitty to pay for those supplies, there's a domino effect to the inaction of the government in this particular case.

We've seen a huge computer glitch which has resulted in the delay of thousands of cheques. We've seen desperate parents who have become frustrated with futile attempts at getting through to the family support plan on overloaded telephone lines, and if they do get through, it's simply to another machine. We know there is inadequate staffing to answer questions or resolve problems, if and when they finally get through. The results of the office closures and delays in service is chaos for the system and reduced support for a quarter of a million children. Bear those figures in mind. This is not a small segment of the population. Two hundred and fifty thousand children depend on this system working well.

Recently my colleague from Cornwall rose in this House to explain how one of his constituents, Sarah Lenneau, had been waiting for months for the family support plan to update her support payments through garnishing her ex-husband's salary. Ms Lenneau and her ex-husband wanted to enter into a direct payment agreement, but the family support plan discouraged this. So instead of being able to pay her bills, her account now stands at $1,800 and rising. To add insult to injury, she has now been told that she will not be able to receive any additional information or have her payments corrected until at least December, since the family support plan is in the process of moving offices and files are inaccessible. The tragedy goes on.

These problems impact directly on family incomes and their ability to purchase food and clothing and to keep a roof over their heads. There are simply no excuses for bureaucratic delays that prevent parents from receiving the money that has already been collected on their behalf by the FSP.

The minister also skated on thin ice when he argued the cost-effectiveness of his plan. We know there are hidden costs of restructuring. We know there are overtime payments to outside contract staff, many of whom aren't even bonded for confidential work, and of course the use of the Royal Bank, hired to administer the transference of cheques.

We know that at least $1.5 million was required to cover the cancellation of regional office lease agreements, $1.5 million that could have gone directly into the hands of women and children. We know there are extensive renovations under way at the new central area which will cost close to $1 million, not including the costs of moving which have already been incurred by the government -- again money that could have gone directly into the hands of women and children.

The cost of having non-bonded ministerial staff conducting confidential case work again is a cost that takes money away from women and children. We still have a transitional plan that has not seen an office which is fully operational, and it's not likely to be for some time.

What will women and children do in the meantime? Passing this piece of legislation does not change the reality that they're going to be facing some very difficult times.

Members of the House obviously know that the family support plan had posted some modest successes. For instance, in fiscal year 1995-96, the family support plan returned approximately $49.8 million to the treasury of Ontario as recovery of support arrears paid out in welfare or family benefit payments. It cost approximately $23 million to run the program. That means a net return of more than $26 million, something which obviously was ignored as one started to dismantle this project. You have to ask, why the urgency of overhauling a profitable program? Why make such hasty decisions that have caused even more problems than there were before? Why fire existing knowledgeable staff to help women and children achieve and get what is owed to them?

I guess an equally troubling question is, what about public service in our community and community-based solutions? Wasn't this the government that believed in community-based solutions? What happened? What about face-to-face contact and its importance in resolving human trauma?

The Attorney General's family support plan 1996-97 business plan stated that many of FSP's existing regional offices were located in small, closely knit communities that deeply depend on government as a provider of support services and employment. The family support plan's new business approach, coupled with other government approaches, will result in some very difficult times for these small communities. Accordingly, a carefully planned government communications strategy should be taken. The plan acknowledges that there is going to be a very real negative impact of these changes. This was acknowledged by the staff at the office of the public guardian and trustee, and yet it's unbelievable that this government would first lay off staff, close offices and then seek solutions. But it seems this government knows no other method of approaching the business of the province. You slash first and ask questions later.

There are plenty of examples of that. We've seen it in education: Chop budgets and hope that they won't affect classroom funding; chop funds to colleges and universities and then release a discussion paper to reform universities, and by the way, since you can't make up the difference, hike tuition 20%.

The same is going on in the health sector: Close hospitals and then determine if you've closed the right ones, or if you should have closed them at all. It's not important to consult local communities. It's all done centrally by the Minister of Health.


One has to ask, what is there to discuss after the funding cutbacks have already impacted on the manner in which these institutions deliver services, and the quality of education our students will receive, and the quality of health that our population gets? There's a woman currently in my riding who is in urgent need of cardiac care. She has been at the top of the list for surgery for over three weeks. Her condition is operable and she cannot get an operation. What happens if that woman dies in the interim? This is a backward, undemocratic approach to governing which puts no value on planning, no value on consultation.

The minister in this House has acknowledged problems with the transition, yet he has assured us that his ministry has moved "quickly and decisively to correct them." Despite these assurances, problems continue to exist. The new 1-800 service that the minister tells us will replace adequately the regional offices and deal effectively with public inquiries is so heavily inundated with calls that people are finding it virtually impossible to get through.

I wonder why the minister has stood by and allowed such chaos in the family support plan. The system has now deteriorated to such a point that his political office has had to resort to dealing with the problems. This seems to be a very costly method of reforming the system. It only provides minimal relief for individual cases. Clients cannot even obtain copies of their personal files, as is their right under the Ontario freedom of information legislation, because thousands of irretrievable personal records, previously housed in regional offices, are being haphazardly shipped and stockpiled at the new location. Clients are being told they will not be able to access their files perhaps for as much as six months because the boxes are not unpacked because they still don't have the computer technology they need.

If this government is not prepared to provide the family support plan with the resources needed to deliver its services to its clients, how can we be assured that it will provide the resources needed to enforce the new regulations? This could be the finest bill in the world, but if the government cannot enforce it, it is useless and will do nothing for people who are, every day, struggling to get by.

Bill 82 is a start. Bill 82 acknowledges that there are problems and tries to put in some enforcement mechanisms, but the government must do more than that. It must clean up its own act. It must make sure that the office of the family support plan works, that it is accessible, that it's fair, that it gives money out in a timely fashion. It's no good to give a woman $12,000 in arrears if she has to be evicted from her apartment in the meantime because she hasn't had the money to pay the rent. It's no good to give a family a lump sum payment after Christmas, knowing that the children of that family will have a very bleak Christmas indeed.

I'm sure that everyone in this Legislature wants to assure that women and children are not victimized. It is up to us to develop the best possible legislation to protect their rights and to provide them with the necessities of life. I know we all believe this to be our duty as legislators. I cannot imagine otherwise. So I urge everyone here to ensure that we have solid legislation, but more important, the kinds of enforcement mechanisms that will see that women and children receive the payments that they require, particularly in those cases where we know the payments have been made; they've been garnished.

We should all insist on a system that is fair and accessible. The delays, the bungling, the tragedy that has been caused day after day at the new central location of the family support services plan is intolerable and should not be tolerated by any of us.

Our challenge and our promise to the women and children of this province is to give them a system that's fair, a system that's equitable, a system that will respect their dignity and will provide them with real opportunities.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I appreciate the opportunity to continue the remarks of the Liberal Party on this piece of legislation, and I want to compliment the member for Downsview on her overview of the circumstances facing those who need to access the family responsibility and support arrears office in this province. She has outlined the dire consequences that have faced and continue to face many children in this province and the mothers of these children, or the spouse who has responsibility for these children, and that's largely the mothers in this particular case, because we have had a botched circumstance that exists with the support and custody office.

If we were to log the telephone calls coming into constituency offices and try to determine which issues would be of most consequence on a personal basis to people, that is, what problems they are confronting with a government office, I think you would find in the fall months of this year, the months of September, October, November and December, the support and custody office problems represent the greatest number of telephone calls.

What is interesting is, whereas previously most of the calls were from the spouse who was supposed to receive money, calls to complain about not receiving that money, today the calls are coming from both sides, that is, the person responsible for sending the money for the support of the children and the spouse who is to receive it and distribute it by providing for those children. So even in cases where there are perhaps warring spouses -- if I can use that terminology; it's probably an overstatement -- but at least quarrelling spouses, we have the government bringing them together on one issue, and that is their concern about the support and custody office and the chaos which has ensued for some period of time in that office.

What we are hearing now is that one spouse, usually the man, is having money deducted at source, from a salary or a wage being paid. It goes through the support and custody office and it's supposed to reach the other spouse. That is not happening in many cases. There are still a number of cases where one spouse who is legitimately supposed to receive funding for looking after the children is not receiving it and there is indeed a quarrel, so we have both of those circumstances.

A third individual who would want to access that office would be a paying spouse who believes there is something wrong with the allocation that has been assigned to that person in terms of a garnishee.

So we must have an office that can be accessed by those who are directly involved in support and custody situations and support payments. Unfortunately, in its great desire to slash even more expenditures for the government, the government has moved too quickly and too drastically to a new mode of operation. We used to have regional offices. They were not perfect, but they tried to provide some assistance to people. People could actually visit them. They felt closer dealing with the regional office, which dealt geographically with problems in that specific area.


What we had was a situation where, to save money, to eliminate an expenditure, because the Attorney General had his budget slashed by the Premier and the Treasurer, he decided he would move to one central office and deal with what we call a 1-800 telephone number. I don't agree with that move, but if the government had decided it was going to move in that direction, it had, in my view, an obligation to put in effect a new central office which was equipped to handle the problems. The transition from regional offices to one central office has been a disaster. Most fairminded people would concede that. Only those looking for seats in the cabinet are those today who would be defending that position. I think others quietly would say it has not been a roaring success.

That is the approach the government takes to so many of its problems today, so many of the issues confronting it; that is, the government moves very rapidly and very drastically and does not assess the consequences of those actions. That is not true conservatism, because a true Conservative tends to be cautious, tends to be careful. The present Conservatives, the Reform-a-Tories, as some people refer to them, are eager simply to move the bulldozer full speed ahead and pick up the pieces later. As somebody described it, it was like an automobile mechanic taking the vehicle apart quickly and then not knowing how to reassemble it to have it work effectively and efficiently. That's what's happened in the case of the family support office.

There are a couple of personal cases that have come from Prescott and Russell. They are people who contacted the office of Jean-Marc Lalonde. I know that they have given permission to use their names; I'll make a choice not to, by saying a woman -- I'll call her Mme A -- is receiving a $750-a-month payment when she should be receiving $1,200 a month. She is requesting a deduction from the employer and 50% garnishment for arrears. At the family support office, the office of the member for Prescott and Russell is told that a federal garnishment request has been issued on three separate occasions and there's been no response. They were told by the family support office that they will make the request once more with the federal government. Mme A's ex-spouse is employed by that government. There's a situation that exists within the plan. I don't want to point fingers at a specific person responsible for that, but that's a real case.

There's another person, a Mrs B, I'll call her. She received monthly payments of $350 from Sun Life. It's a disability. There is proof that Sun Life has made the payments, but Mrs B did not receive any payments from October 1995 until March 1996. When the office of Jean-Marc Lalonde called the family support office, they were told that Mrs B had requested to be withdrawn from family support on October 4, 1996. This is true, but she still wants the money that is in the province's possession at this time.

There are literally thousands of these cases out there that are causing hardship for individuals in our province. While there are many people who are wealthy enough or have enough savings to cope with some of these circumstances, there are far more who live on a week-to-week basis, who are reliant upon the family support cheque from the ex-spouse to be able to provide for the necessities for the children and the family.

In this obsession to have a tax cut, which largely benefits the richest people in our society -- I had figures on my desk earlier today which indicated what the bank presidents would be getting, what five bank presidents would get, and what the seven best-paid CEOs would get in Ontario in a tax break, and it was substantial.


Mr Bradley: The member from Rexdale says it's substantial for him as well. I wonder about that. I say, why don't we leave that money in the system, and why don't we ensure that we have quality services in this province? That's what we've been proud of in the past. That's what Premier Davis used to say. On so many occasions, he would say we had the finest health care system in the province. Yet today in St Catharines, the local hospital restructuring commission, under threat, I believe, of more drastic action by the Ontario hospital closing commission, or restructuring commission -- I call it closing commission -- has indicated that Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines might be closed and, as hospitals, the Port Colborne General Hospital and the Niagara-on-the-Lake General Hospital may no longer exist. This, despite the fact that the Premier, in the all-party debate during the election of 1995, said he had no plans to close hospitals in this province.

When I asked him the question in the House today, he used what we used to call in the old days "weasel words" to get around it. I don't know another term. I'd like to find a different term. The other Speaker told me I couldn't even say that the Premier was not providing accurate information; that's the best way, perhaps, I can put it. That wasn't an interpretation that most people would have had of the Premier's comments when he made them.

Mr Tilson: Very close.

Mr Bradley: I was very careful. The member for Dufferin-Peel tries to defend the Premier. I know there's an opening in the cabinet, and he's probably a good candidate for it. I will report to the Premier that he has come to his defence. I will certainly do that.

I was talking to Colin Vaughan in the hallway, and he apparently had a confrontation with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who is taking his seat in the House today, and was quite put out by the fact that the Minister of Municipal Affairs turned around after Mr Vaughan asked him a question. I wasn't there to see all this, but apparently there was quite a scene in the hallway. Maybe the minister later on will be able to talk about that.

Looking at this bill, as I have, in the context of why the government was changing from regional offices to a central office, it thought it could save a lot of money. We had two members of the Legislature who went to visit the office. They took a camera with them.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): They were New Democrats, weren't they?

Mr Bradley: They were New Democrats in this case: my friend the member for Sudbury East and my friend the member for Welland-Thorold. I initially heard a horrifying report. I thought they were both in trouble, because I heard that they had broken into this office in the middle of the night and assaulted a guard of some kind, a security guard, and were rifling through the files. I thought, "What has come across the mind of the member for Sudbury East and the member for Welland-Thorold?" Then I find out later on they were simply in there with a camera to take photographs of all these boxes of files lying around the office. This is what I've been told, and I can only go on information that I've heard.

The Attorney General certainly gave an indication in the House that charges were going to be laid and so on, and here I found out that it was simply taking photographs of the boxes. I'd wondered where they'd gone, because some of them might have been from the Hamilton office. Heaven knows when we call the family support office the employees are under great duress there trying their very best to serve the people of this province, scrambling to do so; they would know that they're unable to cope with this influx of boxes full of files.

I was relieved to know that apparently it wasn't this dastardly act which had taken place, that my two friends the members for Sudbury East and Welland-Thorold in fact had taken some photographs. I found those very instructive and I was happy to see those on television so I could see what was actually happening.


It happened, as I say, because this government is obsessed with the tax cut. It must give this tax cut. It doesn't even have the money to give it. It has to borrow the money, $5 billion a year.

I read into the record the other day for my friends on the other side a report from the Dominion Bond Rating Service, hardly a bastion of socialists and ultra-Liberals, certainly known as a small-c conservative operation. They said, "You know what's going to happen? Any growth we see in the economy is going to be almost all absorbed by the government having to borrow money for a tax break." They said $4.8 billion, so they were a little under what I said. They estimate about $4.8 billion a year.

I know my friend the member for Perth is a small-c conservative as well as a big-c Conservative, and I know he must wonder in his heart of hearts how the government is going to borrow money to give a tax cut. That's like getting out a credit card -- and I have a credit card or two -- going to the machine and getting money out of the machine, borrowing it, and having to pay interest on it so they can give a tax cut to somebody. That doesn't make any sense.

So they're scrambling in that direction, but secondly, they are taking money out of essential services such as the family support office to be able to pay for a tax cut which benefits the very richest people in our society by the greatest amount of money. That's happening throughout the system.

The people who are trying to access the family support office used to be able to receive some help from local legal offices, legal assistance offices. Sometimes the people involved in these situations were able to access a lawyer through the legal aid plan. But with drastic cuts in these opportunities -- to finance the tax cut, I might add -- here they are not able to access those services. So they come to the MPP. They're going to have fewer MPPs after the next election to access, and fewer government offices, so that will cause them even greater delays with greater consequences for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

For some of the people who are involved in this, perhaps the breakup has taken place because of a gambling addiction. Maybe one of the partners plays video lottery terminals that we're going to find very soon in every bar and every restaurant on every street in every neighbourhood in Ontario. That might have been why there was a breakup and why the person had to access the family support office. So if the government wishes to know how it can save money, it would abandon its plans to put these one-armed bandits, these electronic slot machines, in every bar and every restaurant on every street in every neighbourhood in Ontario. That would help. There will be more money then for the support and custody office.

I have had a very large number of calls come to my constituency office. My staff has tried to deal with the staff of the family support office. They've tried to be helpful to us, but they have very limited and stretched resources. And the frustration of people -- they call with tears in their eyes sometimes. Sometimes with great anger in their voices they call my office to complain about this, and we have a hard time.

Ms Castrilli: That's 250,000 children.

Mr Bradley: Some 250,000 children, the member for Downsview tells me, have been affected by this, and I see all kinds of examples of the government mindlessly cutting simply to finance this tax cut and because they want to fulfil an ideological objective.

Today I thought we would have our pages with us for another week. I was looking forward to it. They provide excellent service for us. Now I know --

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): They have to go back to school. Do you want to destroy their education?

Mr Bradley: The member for St George-St David tells me that they want to go back to school. I see their heads are nodding the other way, but I don't want to bring them into this argument because it would be unfair. All we pay them is $10 a day, a very fair wage, they may think, or may not think, but $10 a day. They get an opportunity to be here. They're educated here too as well. They get to see what goes on in the Legislature. That's an education in itself, all members will admit. There are good pages all over, talking to the members and being of great assistance. I think it would cost about -- I calculated $50 times 20, $1,000 probably, for them to stay for one more week.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): How much would you be willing to chip in from your cheque?

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will know, however, that the government is spending $2,600 a day for its consultants at the same time that it's sending our pages home a week early. I feel badly for the pages because I know they would be delighted to stay in this House and listen to the debates. They want to know about the family support office and the provisions of this bill. I happen to think and I happen to agree with my good friend the member for Dufferin-Peel, the parliamentary assistant, that there are some very good provisions in this bill, and we're supportive of those provisions.

We're sorry they didn't introduce this bill for -- how many days was it?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Forty-nine days.

Mr Bradley: They took 49 days to call this bill after they first introduced it. We're sorry it took that long. Then they went to certain people in the province and said, "Get some petitions and blame the NDP and blame everybody else, blame the opposition for this bill taking a long time." Yet the government took 49 days to bring this bill forward for consideration. It would have been passed a long time ago. I would have been happy to accommodate that. But instead, the government drags its feet and then at the end of the session says, "Let's blame the opposition for how long it's taken."

Let me explain to the members of the House, through our friend the Speaker, why it is you did this. You did it because there was chaos in the support and custody office and you knew that if this bill passed and you had to invoke the provisions of this bill, you didn't have the wherewithal to do it. You didn't have the staff, you didn't have the resources, so you waited 49 days. Then you brought people into the gallery and had them write nasty letters to the NDP and to other people in the opposition to say, "Somehow you'd better hurry this through."

I'm not here to defend the NDP. They will defend themselves, I am sure. But I am a fairminded person and I will, from time to time, defend the government when I believe it is right. That's why I say to the parliamentary assistant that there are some good provisions in this bill. We will be supporting this bill because there are good provisions in it and the committee hearings have been beneficial, the committee hearings that we in the opposition insisted upon. They have been beneficial because the government's had the benefit of some of the discussion of that, and hopefully the government has made some modifications, if not to the bill itself, to the regulations that go with the bill as a result of those representations.

I watched the government embark upon these. I would like to have had our members ask more questions about the support and custody office, but they've been preoccupied dealing with the resignation of the Minister of Health whose assistant, Brett James, apparently phoned a Globe and Mail reporter and said: "I've got something on one of your opponents. You know the person who is going to call a press conference to complain about this government? Well, he's got the highest billing amount in the province." I think that assistant used to work in the Premier's office when he was the Leader of the Opposition, didn't he? Somebody help me out with this. Did I not look in the phone book and see his name in the opposition's, the third party's, the Progressive Conservative caucus office? Yes. Okay. Of which the Premier is the boss? Okay. I just wanted to get that right: of which the Premier is the boss. So I know he was relied upon heavily by my friend the Premier on many occasions.

I would like to have had more questions on the support and custody office, as I'm sure the NDP would, because they all had examples, but we've been preoccupied trying to get the government to in the open -- in other words, not behind closed doors -- have a full inquiry into the potential use of private information to smear a person who is in conflict with the government in terms of his views. That's a dangerous precedent to set.


I don't want to draw direct comparisons; I will simply say that in a general sense we can all remember the coverage of the so-called "dirty tricks" campaigns in the United States back in the Nixon days when they talked about how they smeared people who were opponents of the government. I think that's reprehensible. If you've got good arguments to make, that's the way we debate.

I don't smear my friend the member for Dufferin-Peel. You'll notice that he and I, when we engage in a debate, have respect for one another. We argue about ideas. If his ideas prevail, if the people of this province think his ideas are better than mine, his arguments are more compelling than mine, then so be it. I lose the argument on that basis. But we don't try to smear one another or intimidate one another in debate. That's the way it should be for all governments, because I can tell you it happens to all governments, not just your government. It happens to all governments. They start seeing enemies out there and they start wanting to discredit the enemies. So you have to check that. The cabinet members and other members have to remind senior people in government that that's not why you were elected; you're not for that. We all have to be reminded of that from time to time when we're in a position of power.

I want to say in my concluding remarks this afternoon -- and we've had a lot of debate on this. I want to say there's been considerable debate on this particular piece of legislation. I think many of its provisions are going to be helpful to those who have been unable to secure the necessary funding to look after their children; that is, where there's a legitimate order of the court or a legitimate order from the support and custody office. That's for somebody else to determine, whether it's legitimate or legal, but what we want is a situation where when it's found to be needed and it's found to be legal, we have the best mechanism to collect that. I think this bill will go some way to assist in that regard, and for that reason we will be supporting the bill.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Sudbury East.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I'd ask at the beginning for unanimous consent to split the time between myself and the critic for our party, the member for London Centre.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed? It is agreed.

Ms Martel: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate this afternoon. I also appreciated very much to be able to be a substitute on the justice committee in order to go through the limited public hearings that were held on this bill and through the clause-by-clause which occurred on Monday of this week.

I must say as I begin my remarks that when we entered into the clause-by-clause debate on Bill 82 on Monday, I had high hopes that the Conservative government was serious when the minister had come before the committee at the beginning of the public hearings and said he was open to amendments, that he was open to change, that he recognized there were serious concerns that had been raised by the opposition parties and would no doubt be raised by any number of presenters who were coming forward and it was the government's intention to listen to some of those concerns and to try to respond.

After having heard from the presenters who were able to come to the public hearings in Toronto and make their presentations -- and I want to say as an aside that we very much appreciated the time people took out of their schedules to come, particularly, and I don't want to diminish the participation of other participants, the people who came from Sudbury, the people who came from Belleville, the people who came from Ottawa and other places outside of Metropolitan Toronto on very short notice in order to say their piece. I think the committee benefited by their personal histories, which were very difficult to give to us. They were very compelling. I would have hoped that after having heard those and having heard some of the serious concerns they raised with particular sections to this bill, we were going to see some movement by the government on those areas.

I must tell members here, particularly the parliamentary assistant, that I left that committee Monday extremely frustrated by the fact that I felt we did not make any significant gains whatsoever in what is a bill that our party had already given agreement to on second reading. I find that very unfortunate because I certainly hoped we would have been in that position, and I certainly hoped the government would have moved in some areas where there are significant concerns. Those concerns still remain, and I don't think that benefits us as MPPs, I don't think it benefits recipients in the province, I don't think it benefits payors, particularly those who make their payments on a regular basis and assume their responsibilities.

I'm sorry that the government couldn't come to making some of the changes that I think even some of the government's own backbenchers would have liked the parliamentary assistant and the minister to make. I will reference some of those backbenchers in my comments here today because we were pleased, from time to time, to receive their support, particularly the member for Ottawa-Rideau, who on three occasions did vote with the opposition. I would have hoped we would have seen more opposition members who were prepared to make the necessary changes, to make a bill which we had all supported, a bill which would have been that much better.

Let me begin with the concerns that the NDP raised during second reading, the concerns we raised during the clause-by-clause and the concerns that we still continue to have because these concerns were not met and not responded to.

The first comes in subsection 4(1), which is the section of the bill that assigns the director's power to any number of other organizations or other people. Specifically, the section reads:

"The Attorney General may, subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, assign to any person, agency or body, or class thereof, any of the powers, duties or functions of the director under this act, subject to the limitations, conditions and requirements set out in the assignment."

It's worth repeating some of the concerns that were raised by presenters on this particular section. Let me just read some into the record on section 4 from Carole Curtis and from S.O.S., which is Securing Ongoing Support in Sudbury.

"Enforcement of family support orders should remain a government responsibility. Private collection agencies will have a greater incentive not to enforce difficult cases by using the powers under section 7 and thereby reduce their administrative costs."

Secondly, "Delete this provision. If it's not deleted, it should be amended to permit support recipients to incorporate, to take over the enforcement themselves.

Thirdly, "There is no proof of the benefit of involving the private sector in enforcing support orders. There is a concern that the power to delegate the director's powers, including the exercise of discretionary powers, is overly broad.

Fourthly, "Reconsider this provision. It is not clear how privatization will improve the plan with the implementation of user fees and threatening confidentiality."

Our concern is as follows: We do not believe that section 4, as it appears in the bill, is only a reference to a potential private sector partnership to collect arrears. The parliamentary assistant and any number of government members tried to say during the debate on this section that all we were allowing for in this section was the opportunity for this government to enter into some kind of partnership, some kind of arrangement with a collection agency or with a financial institution to try and recover outstanding arrears and that in some cases a private sector agency would be better than the government to do that.

It would be one thing if I thought that this was actually what the government had in mind, and I would agree that under specific cases, under specific circumstances, there are agencies out there who are probably better than the government to try and collect some of these long-outstanding arrears.

If you take a look at the business plan that the Attorney General released to the public in January of this year, you see clearly that what the view of the Attorney General is is that two to three years from now the entire family support plan will be privatized. It will no longer be an agency of his ministry, it will no longer be run by public servants; it will be a plan that will be run by the private sector to make a profit.

The New Democratic Party fundamentally disagrees with the government's direction, which is to privatize the family support plan. We fundamentally disagree with that. We do not believe for a single moment that a private sector agency should have any right whatsoever to make money off the backs of women and children who are owed legal entitlements in this province. No way. That should not be allowed to happen in the province of Ontario. But it is clear from the provisions in the business plan that that is where the Attorney General is heading. It is also clear that section 4, which allows the delegation of the director's authority and his responsibility and his power to other agencies or other individuals, is the basis upon which the government will move to privatization two or three years from now. That is clear to me.


I argued in committee and I'll argue here that this party strongly believes the government of the day, regardless of what government it is, has an overwhelming responsibility to be involved in a very public way in ensuring that support orders are enforced. That is a very specific responsibility of government that was recognized by the Liberals in 1987 when they established the plan in April of that year. It continued to be recognized by us in 1992 when we made changes to the plan which allowed for money to be directed from people's paycheques into the plan and then out to recipients. It should be recognized by this government that it has a strong and important role to play, a public policy role, in ensuring that support orders are enforced by the province, that issues around support and how we go after people who don't want to pay continue to be issues which are in the public domain and which are carried out by a public sector agency, namely an agency of this government.

It's unfortunate that we could not convince the government members to repeal section 4. As a matter of fact, we moved an amendment that would have said the director could have the power to assign duties and responsibilities, but that assignment had to be to another employee of the plan. We recognize that there will be times when the director will not be in a position -- maybe he or she will be ill, on leave etc -- to undertake all of the responsibilities of the plan. At those points, those responsibilities should be assigned. But they should continue to be assigned to people who work within the plan, public servants in a public sector agency. That is the way we believe that government will continue to be accountable in a significant way to the thousands and thousands of women and children across Ontario who are in receipt of court ordered payments and who need to be assured that the government will be involved in a direct way in the enforcement of those same orders.

I am very concerned that the government decided it was far more important to put in place the groundwork, the basis for the privatization, than it was to acknowledge, to admit and to recognize that government itself, regardless of which party, should continue to have a strong role in these very important issues.

Our second concern was and continues to be around section 7 of the bill. Let me read into the record subsection 7(1). It says, "Despite section 5, the director may at any time refuse to enforce a support order or support deduction order that is filed in the director's office if, in his or her opinion," and a number of criteria apply.

I want to just read into the record some of the concerns that were raised by presenters, very serious and significant concerns about the ability of the director of the plan to at any time refuse to enforce a support order. Some of those concerns are, and I quote:

"Support orders have often been made as the result of long and costly battles in court. No one but the court should be able to close files or to make a decision not to enforce the orders."

Second: "Delete this provision. It provides the director with very broad powers to reduce the number of orders that the plan will enforce."

Third: "The only valid reason for closing a file by the director should be if the payor is deceased and the estate has been distributed. All of the other reasons should be deleted."

Fourth: "The director should not have the discretion to close and not enforce old files."

Fifth: "The director should not have the discretion to pick and choose which orders to enforce."

Finally: "The determination of whether a case is unenforceable or uncollectible should only be made by the court and only after clear criteria have been met."

We fundamentally disagree with the director's discretion as it appears now in this bill as passed by this government to make a decision to close files. The parliamentary assistant tried at committee and again here today to say that what the government was doing was only codifying practices which had been in place at the family support plan. That is just not so. That is just not the case. No doubt files were closed at the family support plan when payors were deceased, but the plan did not allow for the discretion of the director to close a number of files in the way and by the means of which they will now be closed under this legislation as it is passed.

We argued very strongly, and in fact my colleague from London Centre moved an amendment which said that we recognized that at certain points in time it would be impossible for the director or for plan staff to take enforcement action. That could occur in any number of circumstances: perhaps the payor is in jail; perhaps the payor is on general welfare; perhaps the payor has fled Ontario and is hiding somewhere else because he doesn't want to pay arrears. All of those are possibilities and in all of those cases we agree that the director of the plan should have the discretion to suspend a file. That is the very significant difference between our view and our amendment and what the government passed.

We do not believe the director should have the ability to close the file for the following reasons:

Beause under that system all of the onus to reopen a file, to get enforcement action taken again, now falls on the shoulders of the recipient and her family. I was pleased to see that the member for Brantford, who is here today, saw that too and questioned the parliamentary assistant about that very provision and made it clear, frankly, that he felt, as he looked at what was before us and given what we heard, that was going to be the case: All of the onus would be on the back of the recipient to get a file reopened. It was too bad he was in the chair when the time came to vote on this particular provision, because I would have been interested in seeing how he would have voted at that time.

It's also clear that it's not going to be just a simple matter of a recipient filing a statement and filing a statement of arrears in order to get that file reactivated. The parliamentary assistant tried to tell the committee that even if a file was closed, it was going to be a very simple matter for a recipient to get enforcement action taken again. He tried to tell the whole committee that all it was was a question of actually filing some statements and the case would be reopened. If it was that easy, why would the director be closing the file in the first place?

We all recognize that the only way a file is going to be reopened is if some new information comes to that file, and that new information nine times out of 10 now under this system is going to have to be provided by the recipient. We heard from any number of recipients that they do not want any contact with their ex-spouses. They don't want to know if they're coming back to Ontario. They don't want to know if they're living in the neighbourhood next to them. They don't want to have any form of communication or contact again with that payor. But under this bill, we're placing the vast majority of the responsibility for getting a file reopened on them, so that they're going to have to trace and track and follow up on the payor. That's not the position this government should be putting recipients in.

We're also very concerned under this section that, as we learned during the committee process, when you close a file, the arrears will no longer be tracked. That's a concern we've raised throughout the debate on second reading, because it is our fear that what will happen is any number of files will be closed so that the government track record on the family support plan will look good two and three years from now; that the Attorney General will stand in his place in this House and say, "As a consequence of Bill 82 and all these enforcement measures, the arrears in Ontario have moved from $900 million to $300 million," when in fact what the reality will be is that the director of the plan has closed any number of thousands of files and all of the arrears attached to those files will no longer be recorded in the public domain.

We raised that issue and a number of government members, including Mr Klees, the member for York-Mackenzie, asked the parliamentary assistant, asked the staff, "What happens when you close a file? Do the arrears continue to show in the public domain or not?" They do not.


I raised that concern in the context of comments that the Attorney General himself made in this House on second reading. The Attorney General in this House on second reading, which was on November 20, said the following: "Using these criteria, we estimate that about half of the nearly $1 billion in arrears owing may be collectible. We intend to collect as much as we can for the rightful recipients."

If about half can be collected, we're looking at about $450 million that the minister himself assumes cannot be collected. I asked during the course of the committee hearings for the criteria upon which the ministry had made the decision and the reason for which the minister had made the statement in this House. We never got a copy of those criteria. I suspect those criteria are very much the criteria we see in section 7, and that the ministry has already taken a good look at the substantial arrears that are there and has made a determination based on the criteria that now appear in section 7, that only about half will be collected.

I think it is appalling that a minister who has made much of the fact that $1 billion of arrears is owing would put into place in this bill a section which allows the director to refuse to enforce and at the same time allows the arrears not to show in a public way in the public domain. As much as I would like to believe the Attorney General when he says it is not his intention to have those arrears written down in terms of what is showing to the public, given everything else that has happened with this minister with respect to this plan, I don't doubt for a moment that that's exactly what's in his mind and that's exactly what he wants to do.

There's one further reason that I think he wants to do this, and this leads to our third concern in this area. There is no doubt in my mind that a condition of a sale or a condition of a takeover of the functions of the family support plan by a private sector agency will be the ability of that enforcement agency not to have to collect on difficult and complex cases. Why? Because there's no profit for the private sector company, for the financial institution, be it the Royal Bank or any number of others who have put in proposals, in having to enforce and take action on long, outstanding, complex arrears.

I believe that the reason this section is in is to provide some appeal to that private sector agency so that they will indeed want to take over the family support plan, and they will take it over on the basis that any number of those cases have already been closed before the plan is privatized or that they themselves, whether it be the president of the company or whatever institution it is, will also himself or herself have that same power transferred to them to close files. What you will see at the end of the day, which is the concern that we raised and the concern that any number of other people who came before the committee raised, is that thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars that are legally owing to families across this province, to women and children, will never be enforced, will never be collected, and money that they are entitled to receive will never get into their hands.

I am not comforted by the fact that the parliamentary assistant and the minister tried to reassure us that it was not the minister's intention to have those arrears written down in that way. I am not comforted, given everything that has happened so far by this minister to this plan. I really worry that what the government has done with this bill is to hold out a false promise to thousands and thousands of women across this province who believe that with the implementation of Bill 82 they're going to see some enforcement action on their arrears, when in fact the government will use any of the provisions that are outlined under section 7, which I will not get into, to close down files.

I think it's appalling that at the same time the government is trying to tell people that they will get money because of all the new enforcement mechanisms, they continue to leave in this bill a section which allows enormous discretion to the director to close files so that the arrears attached to those files are no longer a matter of public record.

The government, if nothing else, should have made a significant change in that section to say that files can be suspended, that there will be put in place at the family support plan a means, either on an annual basis or a periodic review every three or six months, that if new information comes in from the federal government, if new information comes in from MTO through drivers' licences, if new information comes back into the plan through any of the mechanisms which it now should because of the new technology the government is implementing, if any of that happens, on a regular basis those files will be reviewed, they will be taken out of suspension and they will be enforced. It's a real shame that the government could not see clear to doing that.

I am also very concerned and we continue to be concerned because there was not a change around subsection 16(1), which is of course the opting-out provision. Let me read it into the record.

"A support order or support deduction order filed in the office of the director may be withdrawn at any time by a written notice signed by the payor and the recipient unless the support order states that it and the related support deduction order cannot be withdrawn from the director's office."

A couple of comments by presenters who came before us:

"Reconsider this section. The current regime for consent withdrawal from the program and suspension of support deduction order should not be changed."

"The plan should be mandatory. There should not be any opting-out of the plan."

"There is no need to burden the plan unnecessarily with enforcing already compliant orders, but no one knows what will happen if there is opting out."

"The bill must have measures to guard against coercion of recipients. A compromise may be to remove the universal mandatory deduction by the employer and allow payors to voluntarily pay the plan, which in turn would continue to monitor compliance and pay out of the funds to the recipient."

What is interesting is that the very last suggestion reflected an amendment that the Attorney General himself, when he was critic for justice and when we were making the changes to the family support plan, moved in this Legislature. He said at that time, in December 1990:

"I will be introducing two amendments to the bill. The first amendment seeks to allow those persons who are currently meeting the provisions of their support and custody orders to pay them directly to the director, without automatic collection. It is the responsibility of the director to forward these payments on to the support recipient."

I ask the government, if it was good enough for the now Attorney General in 1990 to say that the program should be mandatory and that you could at least flow funds through the director to ensure that recipients got those funds, why isn't it good enough now in 1996 in Bill 82?

I think the real reason is that the government is hoping that any number of people will indeed opt out of the plan. I believe firmly that that is what the crisis that began in August and continues today was all about, to convince people that they'd be better outside the plan, dealing with the payor outside the plan, because with the staff cuts the minister implemented by his change in August I really believe the plan will not be able to cope with the large numbers of people who are now in it.

What the Attorney General has done, instead of recognizing what he thought was fine five years ago, is to put in a mechanism which I believe will not be able to guarantee that recipients will not be coerced by payors when it comes to this issue of opting out of the plan.

We heard from any number of presenters about how they never wanted to see the payor again. We heard from any number about coercive measures that were already used against them to get them to agree to forget about arrears or any number of other financial matters, and there is nothing in this bill which clearly says that coercion will be stopped by the government, that it will not occur.

It's not enough for us to say that a woman, a recipient, can go to a judge and ask for a judge to order that her support order remain within the plan. Legal aid doesn't pay for it. Most of the women who came before us don't have the funds to go to court yet again, and the only way to ensure that you don't have people trying to find the means to pay to get to court, that you don't have coercion going on, is to ensure that people stay in the plan and that automatic filing and automatic payment occur through the plan. I continue to be very worried that the government would not make any change on this very important section of the bill.

Finally is clause 63(i), in the regulation section, which says as follows:

"prescribing fees to be charged by the director for administrative services, including preparing and photocopying documents on request, prescribing fees for repeated filings of a support order or support order deduction, as specified in the regulations."


This is the section in the regulations which allows now for user fees to be applied against recipients for simple administrative services that the plan should provide.

We heard from any number of people that they did not have the money to pay the plan now for such services as photocopying of documents etc. Any number of people came before us and said it had been a huge undertaking for them even to come to the presentations in the first place. One woman could not afford to fax something to our committee. That was the nature of her financial situation.

It is wrong, it is dead wrong, of this government to allow user fees to now be applied to recipients. This government should not be trying to make money off the backs of women and children -- money that is not government money, money they are legally entitled to because of support orders.

It's even more appalling that the government members would leave this section in place knowing full well that the business plan presumes that in two to three years from now the entire plan will be privatized, because then you will have a private sector company making money off the backs of women and children, which they should have no right to do in this province.

I give credit to the member for Ottawa-Rideau, who voted with the opposition against this section, because he recognized how appalling it was for a government that claimed there would be no more user fees in the Common Sense Revolution to now believe it was all right, that it was okay, to apply user fees to families who rely on support payments in the province of Ontario. Surely we haven't sunk to such a low level in this province that the Conservative government would think it's fine to charge fees to recipients and their families.

I say to the government members, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to decide that for administrative matters, for photocopying services, it was just not appropriate to do that on the backs of women and children who are part of the family support plan. I could not believe that the government would not change its mind on even that simple, single issue.

I also was very frustrated in the committee because we could not get information to which we have a right, which would have been important in this third reading debate, which I think would have been important to show people the crisis the plan has been in directly as a consequence of the changes made by this government in August and why they should continue to be concerned that even with the passage of this bill, the changes implemented will make it very difficult for the remaining staff to enforce the new tools that apply in Bill 82. People have a right to know that.

We asked, for example, for some of the statistics from the family support plan which show the receipts that go out from the plan on a monthly basis, receipts both to recipients and back to FBA, back to the treasury. We asked for those statistics from November 1995 to November 1996. All we received from the parliamentary assistant in a verbal form were the receipts from November 1996.

I know that the reason we didn't get these statistics for the months of August, September and October is because they are so appalling, because they clearly show that very little money went out of the plan into the hands of recipients during those months because of the cuts made by the Attorney General, and it would have been a significant and huge embarrassment to the Attorney General if we had had that information. We should have had it. We have a right to have it. We know it exists. I regret that the parliamentary assistant couldn't provide that to the committee.

We also asked to receive from the parliamentary assistant a very clear indication of the type of computer technology that is going to be purchased, when the tenders went out, when they are expected back in, and what will be the ability of that technology to interact with Ministry of Transportation technology, with federal government technology, with credit bureaus etc. The premise upon which Bill 82 is based is that that new technology will make all kinds of information that has not been available to the plan before now available and that staff will be able to undertake enforcement as a consequence.

I regret that again the parliamentary assistant could not provide that to the committee members. I heard him say today that at the end of January he anticipates that we will be able to do something around the driver's licence and that sometime at the end of the summer we will be able to have the other enforcement tools in place. I believe the government -- well, I hope the government has a plan, although I haven't been impressed with their plan to date with respect to the family support plan. I believe that information does exist.

I believe the reason we didn't get it is because it would then be very clear to the public that the request for proposals for all of this technology only went out in the last month and it's going to be months before that information comes back in, it will be months before the ministry itself makes a decision about what technology to purchase, it will be months before that technology is in place at Downsview and it will be months before the enforcement tools outlined in this bill will be able to go into effect, and we would find out that the government indeed during the second reading debate held out false promise to any number of women and children when they said, and they said very clearly in the debate in here, "If we pass this bill tomorrow we'll be in a position to get money into the hands of children and women who need it."

Certainly that was the basis upon which any number of petitions came into this place and the basis upon which the parliamentary assistant, on numerous occasions during that debate, tried to say that the NDP and the Liberals were holding this up, and that if we only stopped holding up the bill, the tools could go into place and the money could come in. You know what? I suspect it's going to be months and months before that technology will be in place in Downsview, before the new staff, who were only just hired, will have any understanding of how to operate it, and before women and children who are owed long-standing arrears are ever going to see any of that money.

In conclusion, let me just say that I remain extremely concerned about the ability of the staff at the family support plan even to undertake any of the new enforcement mechanisms, given the cuts this Attorney General made in August. The Attorney General in August of this year decided it was more important to finance the tax cut on the backs of these women and children than it was to ensure that they would get their regular ongoing support payments. He made a decision to cut 35% out of the family support plan budget over the next two years. That will result, on a permanent basis, in a layoff of 40% of the staff of the family support plan.

I hope the government does not find itself in the position a year from now of realizing that because of that cut in staff, because of the cut to the regional offices, they are not capable of undertaking the enforcement action proposed in Bill 82. If that happens, the promise you have held out to women and children who haven't been able to receive arrears will have been badly broken and all the things you promised them will be completely shattered.

It's bad enough that the government made the cuts and affected women and children who used to receive regular support payments and have caused them untold financial distress, but I don't know what you're going to do if a year from now you find that because of the 40% cut in staff you can't even enforce the mechanisms in here. I hope you don't find yourself in that position, because thousands and thousands of women and children who believe this will help will be sadly and very sorely mistaken if that indeed occurs.

Mrs Boyd: It's a pleasure to carry on from where my colleague from Sudbury East left off, because that is indeed our very great fear. We heard the hope in people's voices as they came before the committee that maybe the enforcement measures within this plan would make a difference not only to them but to other women and children. We all heard the stories of the lengths to which payors will go to avoid their family responsibility. This wasn't news to many of us who've worked with women and children who have been in this kind of situation, but it was none the less poignant and very difficult for these people to come before us and tell their very personal information about what had happened to them. It is to all of us a great wonder that they had the courage and the strength to do that, because it is very difficult to reveal that kind of personal information. They are to be congratulated for having come forward, having had the courage to give very personal details to convince the committee about the importance of this bill.


One of the issues for us on this side of the House has been the effort of some members of the government to try to portray us as trying to hold up this bill. That has been extremely difficult for us because that is not the case. We said from the beginning that we would be supportive of the enforcement measures and that our only objective was to deal with some of the problems in the act that my colleague has outlined.

The government made a couple of changes, and I think it's important for us to recognize that one of the biggest problems that faced all of us was the issue that a file could be closed because of a large number of arrears, especially given the cases we heard from people who were owed $60,000, $79,000, $110,000. It was a great fear to us that clause 7(1)(d) would be left in. When the time came to go through the amendments, all three parties had indicated that we wanted clause 7(1)(d) removed, and it was. It's important for us to recognize that it is a commitment on the part of this government that files will not be closed simply because the amounts of the arrears are large and they are of long standing.

It is one real success in terms of the committee process that we all came to agreement on that. Now we'll have to monitor that because one of the problems, now that the revised section 7 and section 16 allowing the director to close the file and allowing people to withdraw from the plan, is that there's no way to track what the effect of that is going to be.

One of our amendments was to require that there be regular reporting that would show how many files had been closed and what had been owing to those people at that point in time so that there would be some measure of what was going on. Similarly with withdrawals: How many withdrawals from the plan are there and how many of those people eventually have to go back on the plan? If we are going to look at this bill again in five years -- that is about the number of years that go by before we have to look at new measures, because we can be sure, having heard from some of the non-payors, of what lengths they will go to avoid paying support -- over the next five years there will be ways for determined non-payors to avoid payment under this act.

Yet we are going to be without any commitment on the part of the government that we will have a tracking of that whole issue of closure of files and withdrawal. I think that's a real shame, because this plan was designed to be cumulative. It was designed to track, over time, the level of refusal to maintain your family responsibility and it was always intended that the number of cases would accumulate and that the amount of dollars owing would accumulate and that cases would only be closed when the support obligation was ended.

We didn't get that assurance. In fact, section 7 was the most controversial section in this act, and subsection 7(2) says: "The Attorney General may establish policies and procedures respecting subsection (1) and the director shall consider them in exercising his or her discretion under that subsection."

It is our very strong belief that leaving it up to an Attorney General, who might or might not, is not appropriate, because there is no obligation under this act to establish policies and procedures regarding the closure of files. In no way do I cast aspersions on the current Attorney General, who has indicated that is certainly his intention, and he is an honourable man, so I expect he will follow that through.

This law will pertain to any Attorney General and should bind this Attorney General and all subsequent attorneys general to having policies and procedures in place, not that the director considers but follows, so that when a payor and a recipient get a support order and a support deduction order, they know exactly what kinds of policies and procedures will pertain if that file is to be considered for closure. We don't have that here. We have a permissive piece that will allow that to happen but does not require that to happen, and that is a very serious matter.

On the closure of files, there was one other minor success in the changes we wanted to see in clause 7(1)(f), which originally read, "the whereabouts of the payor or the recipient cannot be determined after reasonable efforts have been made." The government withdrew "of the payor," and that is important, because we know that one of the reasons for non-collection is that payors try to disappear. They deliberately leave the jurisdiction, cover their tracks and find new names, new addresses, anything they can do to avoid detection.

It is important that a file can't be closed because a payor can't be located, because that's the whole problem in vast numbers of these cases. We were pleased to see that minor change because it relieved some of the anxiety of some recipients who came before us. It plugged what looked like permission to payors to disappear for long enough that the plan stops looking for you because it is too expensive; it is too onerous.

The parliamentary assistant gave us a little verbal update of some information we wanted. We still say very clearly to the Attorney General that if it is his intention to win back support for this plan, it is important for him now to send a notification to all recipients under the plan, not the propaganda that was sent after the staff were fired and the offices closed but a real piece of information admitting that in the transition period things are difficult and that the transition is not going to be over today when this bill passes.

The rhetoric from the government about our holding up the bill suggested to people all over this province that somehow if this act were passed, immediately money would begin to flow, and we know that's not the case. The parliamentary assistant said today that he expected the centre at Downsview to be up and running by January. When all this happened in August it was supposed to be up and running in September. That was extended to October and then to November, at which point my colleagues went to see what was really happening, and we all saw what happened. Then it was supposed to be December. In fact, the Attorney General said to me: "We should have it up and running in a couple of weeks. Why don't I let you know and you can come and see it?" He hasn't come back with that invitation, so I suspect it's not up and running yet.

We are saying, be honest. It takes a long time for transition. You put an end to the program as it was, you boxed up all the files and you sent them off to a place which was not staffed, which was not even secured. You didn't even have computers that were plugged in, much less the people to run them. That's the reality, and we all know it.

Having had that history, it is incumbent upon the Attorney General and his ministry to begin to build confidence in that plan again, to be honest that, "By the end of January we hope that maybe, when you phone the number that we tell you is this wonderful improvement, you won't get, `We cannot process your request at this time,'" which happens all the time, or the fax line which suddenly switched today, I believe, to a 705 number, which I thought was rather interesting, since Downsview is definitely not 705; it's not even 905. This is the kind of thing that shakes confidence in the plan.

The parliamentary assistant tried to say again and again that there is no intentional destruction of the family support plan, that there is no intention to convince people not to be clients of the plan. I say it is the job of the Attorney General to convince people of that, because no one watching the shenanigans over the last five months can really believe that.

Everything was designed to create a crisis. Everything was designed to make payors and recipients believe that this plan couldn't work for them, and thank God they could get out.

Everything was there to try to convince lawyers to advise their clients to get out. We heard that from recipients, we heard it from lawyers, and that's a shame. We had the best plan in North America, we had the most cost-effective plan in North America, and this government destroyed it and now expects people to have confidence in its new plan.


Well, I hope they do, because I know the alternative is disastrous. It's not only disastrous for the individual recipients who will run into the same kind of behaviour that non-payors show in their determination not to meet their obligations, but it is disastrous for us as taxpayers, because when recipients do not get the dollars they are owed, they do not have the wherewithal to raise the children appropriately, to give them what they need. Everyone who's a recipient isn't destitute, everyone who's a recipient doesn't turn to social assistance -- although many do -- but the money that is supposed to come from the payor parent is often the difference for people. It is often the thing that makes it possible for them to achieve a standard of living for those children.

It is important for this Attorney General to now communicate with all the people in that plan and say: "Look, we're going to have this piece up and running in January. Then we're going to put out a proposal and get the hardware and software we need. When we have that in place, our computers will be able to talk to the computers and the records within the Ontario government, within the federal government, when we get that agreement negotiated, so that we can trace and locate. But in reality it will probably take us" -- I would suggest to you, knowing the track record of the Attorney General's ministry in implementation -- "about 18 months to accomplish that."

One of the things we wanted in our amendments was some assurance that no file would be closed until all of the trace-and-locate and enforcement mechanisms that are now in this bill had been used on those files. I need to tell you that I'm very concerned about that because I saw the Qs and As that the Ministry of the Attorney General prepared the day they fired the 290 people and closed the offices. The final question is, "What is going to happen in the transition period?" and the final line is, "Files will be closed." The plan is to close files before these enforcement mechanisms are fully in place, because no reasonable person expects these enforcement mechanisms to be in place within a very short period of time.

That is our worry. We want to make sure that all of these mechanisms have been applied to those files, because we know how ingenious non-payors are in trying to hide their assets and hide their income. We know it's important for each file to at least have the opportunity to be vetted against these new files.

I would urge the Attorney General -- he hasn't done very well with coming clean with us around what's going on with the plan. I would suggest to him that if he had said right from the beginning: "Look, we didn't think all these people were going to leave. We thought they might stay for the six months. We didn't expect everything to be in such chaos, but it has been and we know it's created problems. So now we're going to come forward and be honest with you about what's going on and be honest in terms of what you can expect."

My colleague said one of the worries we have is that people will have too high expectations of what's going to be accomplished, and that's true. It is not simply a question of having all these mechanisms in place, although they will help, and I believe they will help in a vast majority of the cases that have proved uncollectible to this point, but I stress again the determination and the ingenuity of those who refuse to accept their responsibility.

We will see court cases around whether or not these measures are too onerous. We will see people challenging the right of the government to withdraw licences and permits. The Ministry of Transportation already knows that; it's very worried. There are a lot of amendments we made that were to try and guard against that, and that's particularly true when we are dealing with joint property, when we are dealing with joint permits on vehicles, when we are dealing with situations where someone who is not mentioned in the court order is going to be subject to enforcement mechanisms.

I believe the Ministry of the Attorney General has done what it can to make those sections challengeproof, but I also know, as any reasonable person does, that there will be those who will not accept this. They will see this as an infringement upon them, particularly those who are partners in a business, particularly those who are new partners of the payor, who see their children as not having the kind of support they would like to see their children enjoy because a previous spouse and the children of a previous marriage are entitled to that support. Some of the most difficult cases I've had to deal with over years are from second or third spouses who see that new family having difficulty managing because of the obligations of a payor in previous circumstances. One of the realities of this bill is that it is quite harsh in those circumstances, and we will see some challenges to whether or not these measures are harming subsequent children in subsequent marriages.

All of us believe, I think, that when we have children, we have certain responsibilities and we need to follow those through. But we also know that in many cases people's expectations of what they are going to make in the future, what their financial position is going to be in the future, don't necessarily come true. So we see people entering into second, third, fourth relationships with great hopes that they're going to be able to maintain all of their responsibilities, and as you divide up the dollars that are available, it becomes harder and harder. That will still happen. I think it is false for us to say to recipients that the payor who enters into subsequent relationships is not going to be affected by those new responsibilities. We will see that happen and I think we need to be aware that it will happen.

The issue of withdrawing from the plan is particularly serious, we believe. We believe very strongly that there is virtually no protection within this act against coercion.

Subsection 9(2), which allows for a court to determine at the time a support order or support deduction order is made that it must continue with the plan assumes that the judge who is making that order is aware of what is going on in the situation and is aware of coercion. It also assumes that both parties have had clarity of instruction from their lawyers around their rights as to whether or not the orders are enforced by the plan.

It's quite an assumption in my view, because very often if it is an amicable situation people don't anticipate the kinds of problems that often arise subsequently around access, around new responsibilities that those two partners take on with other partners. The government seems convinced that if things are amicable, everything's going to be all right, but the problem is that things often look amicable until the circumstances change. Then, my colleague the member for Sudbury East is quite right, all of the onus comes back on the recipient under those circumstances, and that is a real concern.

The whole purpose of first of all the SCOE plan and then the family support plan was to ensure we weren't constantly putting support recipients in the position of being responsible for tracking down, tracing, locating and collecting these dollars. We believed it was important because when a relationship breaks down and people stop assuming their responsibility, very often there is danger, real danger, and we heard about that at committee from some people who were able to share those stories with us. So it is really incumbent upon us, it seems to me, to be sure we do more than assume the court that issues the order has some idea about what's going on in that relationship. That's particularly true because the suggestion in the new family rules under the revised court practices is to try and prevent people from building up those big affidavits that claim all sorts of issues right off the bat. The whole issue of trying to convince people if they're breaking up a relationship to do that in as amicable a way as possible mitigates against the kind of evidence being in front of that judge that might say to that judge, "I think this is a situation where I must insist that this be enforced through the plan." So what happens of course is that that protection is not there.


When people say, "Well, they both have to agree," we are completely taking out of the picture the difference in the balance of power within relationships. There's a lot of research on it; I don't have to repeat it. We know that in relationships both partners are not always equal, and we know that often that breakdown in power is a gender issue and that the recipients, who are mostly women, are generally in a position of lower power when it comes to coercion.

They get told by the payor that the payor will not demand additional access if they agree to have the payment outside the plan, and since there are often issues around the care the children receive, they may agree to that. But then over time, as they find that the commitment is not kept on the other side, the onus is on them to come back and say that they have to enforce this and they have to try and bring that back into the plan.

They will do that, of course, without the arrears having been calculated, and we have no idea how long it will take to actually get it on track. The registering of new orders, the enforcement of new orders, the whole process of getting that all organized takes time, and in the meantime, if they are living close to the line on support, they may not find themselves able to make ends meet.

We've told story after story about people in this Legislature who were in that kind of position, and one of the really difficult situations appeared in the London Free Press this morning. The headline is "Delayed Child Support Cheques Cost London Woman Her Home." The provincially run plan owes her $1,200 in back payment, and she was evicted. She was evicted for not being able to pay her rent because she did not get the money that she should have got from the plan.

Before you say it, this is not a longstanding problem. This woman had been under the plan for four years. She had had two minor problems in the past, but she had always got her money within the month. She knows, because she called her partner's employer, Ford Motor Co, that the money was deducted and was sent to the plan, and she has not received that money. She now is homeless. In fact, we can't locate her because we don't know where she is and she has no telephone.

This is the kind of tragedy that I think we are going to see over and over again because of the disruption in this plan, but it is a tragedy that also occurs when people are under the illusion that if they withdraw from the plan they're going to get their money and over time the payor reneges on that responsibility. There is case after case after case; not usually all the support at once, but just, "Honey, I'm a little short this month, so you're going to be short a couple of hundred dollars here, a couple of hundred dollars there," By the time it all adds up, people find themselves in a position where they can't make ends meet. By the time they get themselves registered with the plan and everything gets up to date, those people can find themselves in exactly the same position as my constituent in London who lost her home.

That ought to concern all of us. We asked, at least if you're insisting that people can withdraw, please make sure that the director can demand, first of all, to see that they have had independent legal advice. Both the Liberals and our party brought forward motions to ensure that there was some evidence that people had been advised appropriately about what their rights were and what the pitfalls were, but the government wouldn't agree to those amendments.

In fact the whole issue of legal advice becomes very important when we see what the effect of this act is. Under section 7, for example, there are many cases where the plan will simply close files and the person will be forced to go back to court to get a new order -- many cases.

The first is where the amount of the support is nominal. We understand that if the amount of the support, as we heard in some cases, is only $1 or $2 a month, that becomes very, very difficult for anyone to enforce in an economical way. We understand that. But we proposed that a $10 limit would be reasonable. The government would have no part of it. They said, "That'll be decided by these procedures," if and when the Attorney General puts them into place and if and when the director considers them and then follows them. That's one area.

Clause (b) says, "the amount of the support order cannot be determined from the face of the order because it is expressed as a percentage of the payor's income or it is dependent on another variable that does not appear...." Clause (c) says, "the meaning of the order is unclear or ambiguous."

We agree that in those cases it is difficult to enforce, but we want everybody to understand that closing the file in those cases is not going to help the recipient. Having a situation where legal aid is not available to her and variances are very expensive and difficult to obtain is also not going to be helpful.

I have urged the Attorney General to look at the situation around variances as a result of this bill, because there will be many, and if you come to sections 4, 5 and 6 of this, which in fact say that you won't get your cost-of-living increase that's in your order unless it meets a certain formula under the Family Law Act or a regulation as put in place under this bill, that means many, many people who have cost-of-living changes in their order will either have to accept not getting a cost-of-living increase or will have to go back to court and get that expressed in a way that is appropriate. That's a huge cost.

What we are seeing then out of this bill will be many, many men and women wanting to go back to court for a variation in their support orders and their support deduction orders and we will see a huge problem of overcrowding in our family courts because of course we all know that at the same time the new federal law is coming into place. The federal law is the one in response to the Thibaudeau case in front of the Supreme Court, which will change the obligation to pay tax under family support.

Already, in our newspaper, our most prominent family lawyers are advertising. They're advertising to people who have family orders that it's important to come to see the lawyer because the new federal act comes into place on March 31, 1997, and you should get your order checked over and see whether you want to go for a variance.

We're going to have a huge problem with variances in this province and it's important for us to understand that if the Attorney General is going to meet his budget targets and deal with the backlogs in the courts, he needs to come up with a way in which variances can be dealt with, particularly since he has exacerbated the problem with the decisions under this act.

I hope that we will all be able to work together to find some way in which we can have special variance courts, some way in which we can get those orders done in a way that is not as costly to us as citizens in terms of court costs, is rapid and is done well on behalf of women and children. I am glad that the Attorney General is going to get some support to do that from his own caucus.

We want a couple of things to happen here: We want the government to convey to all recipients what is new in this act and to convey to all recipients what the time line is that they can expect under this act. We do not think that is an unreasonable request since the government was able to send out two or three pages of propaganda around the changes in the plan when they fired the staff and changed the offices, they ought to be able to send out the information that helps recipients to understand what is going on in this act and what time line they can expect for the changes.


The other thing we want is a statistical analysis that's available to us. My colleague from Sudbury East was a little wrong. We asked for the statistics from June, July and August. We had them for May and we had them for September and October. My friend from Hamilton Centre gave an analysis of what those statistics showed us, and they showed us there was a huge gap in enforcement between May and October. We didn't get those statistics, and it may mean they aren't available because there was no one working in the office.

But it's important for the Attorney General to commit to ongoing statistical analysis month to month about what's happening in this plan. It was in place for about four years before it was available. I can remember the Attorney General when he was the critic asking for those figures and getting them. We believe that those figures should be available and that they should be available in a way that allows for a chronological view of what is happening to the program and that those statistics need to include the figures of those whose files are closed and those whose files are withdrawn from the plan so all of us here know on an ongoing basis how the plan is really working. One of the worst parts of constituency work is working with this kind of a plan, because there are a thousand ways in which it can come unglued.

All of us as members here, if we're to serve our constituents well, need to be asking the Attorney General to provide for us the information that helps us to help our constituents understand how the plan is going to work and how it is working. It is important for us as representatives of the people in Ontario to have better tools and better answers for our constituents than we have had in the last few months. It is a good start on some changes that we see in this act. I know we'll be back changing it again in five or six years, as things go on, and we need to see this as a milestone along the way, another big improvement in our ability to provide women and children with the support they need.

The Acting Speaker (Mr John L. Parker): Further debate? There being no further debate, I invite the parliamentary assistant to sum up.

Mr Tilson: No further comments, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Tilson has moved third reading of Bill 82.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Shea moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 86, An Act to provide for better local government by updating and streamlining the Municipal Elections Act, the Municipal Act and related statutes / Projet de loi 86, Loi prévoyant l'amélioration des administrations locales en modernisant et simplifiant la Loi sur les élections municipales, la Loi sur les municipalités et d'autres lois connexes.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Let me preface my comments by saying that much of what is contained in this bill has been asked for, and I am pleased that it is in fact the Better Local Government Act. Municipalities and taxpayers aren't very happy with the current state of affairs. We've made a commitment as a government to deal with their concerns. In fact, we've made a commitment to fundamentally overhaul the provincial-municipal relationship.

At the heart of that commitment is our belief that there is too much overlap, that there are too many services and programs where the province and municipalities share responsibility. That's inefficient and confusing to taxpayers, and it's expensive. Our goal is to sort out who should be responsible for what and then make sure municipalities have the authority and the flexibility to manage and pay for those things that are their responsibility.

We're moving forward on several fronts. This past year we gave municipalities more autonomy to make local decisions and better manage their money. We appointed the Who Does What panel to advise us on which level of government should do what. Next spring, we intend to introduce a new Municipal Act that will give municipalities much more freedom to operate efficiently. This bill, the Better Local Government Act, is an important part of the overall strategy I've just set out.

May I remind members of this House why we brought this bill forward now rather than waiting for the new Municipal Act in the spring. The reason of course is that most of this bill deals with municipal elections. It's important that this bill become law before then.

There's no point in my going into great detail about this legislation. The Who Does What panel recommendations on which the bill was based were released in the summer. They've been widely discussed, particularly within the municipal sector. We all went through all the parts of the bill in the Legislature when we moved second reading, and I note that in clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in committee there was general support for the bill on the part of the opposition in terms of the amendments we introduced on at least three occasions. In fact, the member for Fort York noted that the government was listening, and we are listening.

Some of the amendments make it clear in terms of a municipality's ability to better manage liability risks. These were specifically asked for by municipalities and the insurance industry.

Let me talk a little bit about some of the other amendments we've made. The bill postpones the municipal election startup date until March 31, 1997. This will be the earliest date candidates can file a nomination. We did this to allow restructurings across the province to be put in place and to give candidates time to know what political posts will be available.

We've also made changes to allow councils to downsize and make ward boundary changes in time for the elections. With this bill, for example, Durham and Halton region councils are being reduced by four members each.

Another important amendment will permit candidates from the last election to access their campaign surpluses and run for a new post where there has been a restructuring. As well, we are ensuring that employees cannot be penalized for refusing to work on an election campaign when they've been asked to do so by their employer.

Also at the request of the privacy commissioner, another amendment will allow us to ensure voters lists are not posted on the Internet. We believe privacy and personal safety concerns are of utmost importance to the public.

As part of our goal to streamline and modernize the Municipal Elections Act, we've also eliminated the need for a candidate to be nominated by 10 electors. Our aim is to simplify the municipal election process, to improve accessibility and to give municipalities the flexibility to conduct elections efficiently and in a way that meets local needs.

We look forward to the passage of Bill 86.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments or questions?

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe that we don't have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would the table please check and see if there is a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Comments or questions?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I was interested to hear the comments from the member for High Park-Swansea with respect to this particular bill. We see it in quite a different light. We see this as another instance of government making a tax grab. We see this as an instance of a government that is downloading its responsibility on municipalities and can say to the taxpayers of this province, "It's not our fault that they're charging for libraries; it's not our fault that they're charging for garbage pickup; it's not our fault there are going to be user fees" for all kinds of things that the municipalities will have to levy because there will not be the funds for municipalities to in fact provide the services that people are accustomed to having from municipalities.

This is nothing more than a tax grab. It's another way for the government to take away its responsibilities, to provide less money to municipalities, to provide less services to people, all in the name of funding a tax cut. Will this give us better government? Is that the test? This bill really doesn't answer it, but it does say that the taxpayer is going to be hit with much higher costs, with user fees they never imagined before, with governments that will be ever more constrained to provide the kind of representation they need. That is one of the real problems with this bill: It isn't really all about municipal restructuring; it's really about absolving the provincial government from responsibilities that it has had in the past and loading those responsibilities on municipalities, which in turn will have to levy additional taxes in the name of user fees. They'll be called user fees, but they'll be additional taxes for the taxpayers of Ontario.

Mr Bisson: I just want to comment quickly to the parliamentary assistant. I wonder if he can comment on why he didn't speak about a particular section of the bill that's going to allow companies to give ad infinitum money to campaigns through third-party contributions, namely, when municipal elections are called. Under this act, large corporations are going to be able to back their horse, as one might say, either a mayor or an alderman, by directing dollars to advertising without any kind of limits. Originally, when the bill was put forward, I thought there was a limit of $5,000 that was put on that kind of money that would go towards campaigns.

I think any fairminded individual would see that as a very cynical attempt on the part of companies to get their foot in the door to a certain extent to be able to boost the chance of a particular municipal candidate at a mayoralty or an alderman's election in order to gain influence. I would think in a democratic system we would want to limit that, we would want to make sure that there are actual expenditure ceilings when it comes to individual campaigns but, more importantly, that third-party advertising is controlled in some way so that we don't give particular candidates who are being supported by individual companies an advantage over other candidates who may not have that influence.

Typically, what could happen if this is allowed to happen is that a company can say it will back a particular right-wing candidate who has a particular view about what's to happen in the city of Toronto or Hamilton or Timmins or whatever it might be, and because it is connected to that particular individual, it will have favour. The other candidate who tries to go out and run, who is doing it in the belief that they could represent their community and do the work that needs to be done and may not have the influence of a major company which wants to give money to a campaign, will really be put at a disadvantage.

I wonder why the parliamentary assistant didn't mention that in his opening remarks and if he could indicate that indeed you will be putting a limit on those campaign contributions and that you're not going to allow companies to write a cheque about who they're going to elect.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I appreciate the opportunity to intervene for at least two minutes at this time. I give fair warning that I will be speaking later on in the evening, and I know members will be looking forward to that with great anticipation, no doubt.

A point I want to express concern about that the bill has, and the member perhaps didn't have the time to elaborate on, is that the provincial Commission on Election Finances will no longer be responsible for overseeing municipal election finances. I happen to think that one of the areas of potential difficulty for all electoral processes resides in fund-raising and expenditure of funds. Years ago, there were no laws which really covered this, and so a lot of secret donations were made to people, but it didn't matter because there was no law that prohibited that.

We have seen legislation in various jurisdictions, including Ontario, which has compelled companies, unions, individuals, whoever, who are making donations to disclose those donations so that everyone out there knows who has given to whom. It doesn't mean that's going to influence the person, but it's nice to know that this information is available.

The provincial Commission on Election Finances is a good, reputable body to oversee municipal election finances. Otherwise, you get a hodgepodge around the province of different people overseeing and perhaps different applications of rules. Since we want to ensure that people can't buy elections or can't get hold of funding for elections illegally, I think it would be advantageous to retain the provincial Commission on Election Finances for the purpose of overseeing the finances of elections in Ontario.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I believe there are many parts of this bill that none of us would dispute or have a problem with, but there are elements we have to question and wonder about the wisdom of. Many people have spoken of and pointed out the concern around the removal of the limit on donations and the importance of having a commission or others who are going to oversee that.

But I also just want to comment, in response to the member's contribution to this debate, that it is odd to see this one piece of legislation moving through on a fast track, to be done before Christmas, when in fact we know, and we have heard, that next week we will see a piece of legislation coming forward which will be of immense scope in terms of reorganization of municipalities and municipal governance, one piece of that to deal specifically with the greater Toronto area, and of course we have been forewarned that there will be other bills coming that will deal with municipal amalgamation across the province.

I remember a time during the debates on Bill 26 when we raised concerns about the undue powers that ministers were taking on to themselves, and in this case, the Minister of Municipal Affairs to be able to force amalgamation. We were given assurances that this minister would not proceed on the basis of forced amalgamation, that he would work through in a reasoned way with people, with citizens, to talk to them about how they should best be governed and to give them a say in that process.

Yet we see here, in the GTA region and particularly within Metro Toronto, a government that is committed to a course of action that runs contrary to all of the best advice that it has received and that runs contrary to the popular opinion of the people within Metro itself.

At the very least, folks should have an opportunity to have a say in that, and that means going towards a referendum. This government, which supports referendum legislation, should at the very least allow the people of Metro Toronto that right to have a say about their governance.

The Acting Speaker: The member for High Park-Swansea has two minutes to respond.

Mr Shea: There were some very good interventions that I appreciate. In terms of the issue raised certainly by the members for Cochrane South and St Catharines that refers to contributions, I think at the very least they would acknowledge that contributions are made public, that in fact this government's intent is to ensure that the actions of local representatives will be accountable to the local electorate and that everything we can do to make everything that's happened at the local government level transparent is to the good of government.

I want to make a particular comment about the intervention made by the member for Downsview because that's probably the quintessential difference between the government and the opposition position in this area. The fact is that the member for Downsview would have us follow a view that the provincial government will continue to act as Big Daddy or Big Mommy towards the local municipalities, that there will always be a very tight rein on what happens and where it happens, when this bill and other bills that have come forward and are coming forward show a consummate respect on the part of this government for local government and an attempt to begin to find a way to allow the accountability to be put closer and closer to the people, where the action is occurring.


Obviously some restructuring will have to take place over the next number of months, and for that reason we have to bring this bill forward quickly so that everyone who wants to be involved in the local level of politics has a very clear understanding of what is beginning to emerge, at what level they would like to be involved, and more particularly, when do they start the campaign and what will the impact be on that in terms of the amount of money they will collect for the campaign. Clearly we have to deal with this one right now.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I appreciate the comments of the member for High Park-Swansea, an experienced municipal legislator who has served in the grass roots of the city of Toronto and Metro and I think has an appreciation of the value of local government. Those of us who have served on local government certainly understand how critical it is that it not be overlooked, because one of the reasons we've had such success in this province is that we paid attention to local government. We have nurtured it, we have invested in it and we have been winners as a result of this investment.

The real winners are the taxpayers, who for their tax dollars get direct services. They see the byproducts: the roads, parks, community centres, the police officer on the beat, ambulance services and all the things that government is supposed to do, in other words, help people. That's what local government is all about. It's not some remote, complex, distant government; it's basically on the street with ordinary people. That is why we have such good towns and cities throughout Ontario.

If you look at the quality of life and the quality of neighbourhoods throughout every city in Ontario you'll see that they're something we should be proud of, that we've invested in, and we got good returns on that investment in terms of our safe streets, respect for neighbourhoods, the preservation of older neighbourhoods and of our architectural heritage. All this has been part of local government taking a hands-on initiative to preserve these treasures found locally that in the cities to the south, in the United States, in many cases they have taken for granted and subsequently have suffered the consequences.

In this Bill 86 there's a lot of encouraging improvement in the details of how government works, the whole area of nuisance suits. I can remember a case in Brampton of a young man who one weekend drove his vehicle, one of those motorcycles, into a quarry and was seriously injured, and that quarry supposedly was not properly supervised. As a result of that there was a massive lawsuit --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Yes, $6 million, I think it was.

Mr Colle: -- yes, in the millions against the city of Brampton, and the city was found liable for something it thought was private property. That type of lawsuit hangs over all municipalities, and I think there's an attempt in this bill to deal with that, and especially some other lawsuits that come to municipalities on a daily basis. This is an attempt to deal with that reality municipalities are faced with.

In terms of the Election Act there are a number of other areas that have cut down on the repetition, on the added paperwork. I know you almost have to be a Philadelphia lawyer, sometimes, to run as a candidate as a result of all the legislation. I think this is an attempt to streamline that and make it a bit more understandable, so I think there was an intention to try and come to grips with the reality of that.

In terms of making it easier to vote, as you know, this has been a traditional problem where you have municipal voter turnout of 30%, 40%, sometimes up to 50%. I can remember the early votes in the city of Toronto, and I know my colleague from High Park-Swansea recalls when the vote in Toronto used to be in December. I don't know if it was the same in Ottawa, but they used to vote in December, and I think only property owners could vote. That's how it started out. It was the first week in December; people used to come out in the middle of winter.

We've gone through it incrementally to improve it and we've now got it up to November, and I think this bill doesn't go ahead with the October date. I wish it had, because one of the problems is the rain, the sleet and so forth, especially in northern communities, when you don't have that early date.

That's one thing I wish they had done. I know there's a problem in terms of the timing of it, but it is important to get people to vote, because when they vote they are involved and I think they become better citizens as a result of voting. Some people say, "Well, I just vote once a year, big deal." But it's the process of thinking about it, engaging in conversation. Part of the bubbling effect of democracy is people talking about how the city works and who's running. It doesn't do any harm -- in fact, I think it does a lot of good -- to have people discussing local government.

Encouragement to vote: The minister has tried with the telephone, voting electronically, by fax etc. That's a move in the right direction, but I certainly think we should proceed with some caution in that it doesn't become too remote. I don't think there's a problem with asking good citizens to come once a year to a school or local facility that usually would be a five-minute 10-minute walk and vote in person. I think that's the least a person can do. But where you have people who are unable to leave the house, who are seniors and perhaps are not feeling well that day but they want to vote, you should give them every opportunity to cast that ballot.

We have to ensure that it's monitored and done properly without any loopholes because it has to be verified that it is a legitimate vote. I think it's something we should be exploring with a degree of thoroughness, but everything that can be done to encourage people to vote I think is going to make for better local government, so I applaud the government for at least attempting to recognize that there is a need to do this.

A couple of other areas: This act states that it is an act to improve local government. I find it somewhat contradictory in terms of what the overall intention of the government seems to be, though, because all we've heard in the last number of months from this government is the opposite of what this bill talks about.

In the press release the minister said, "The goal is smaller, more efficient and affordable governments at all levels," but as you know, we've heard from the minister quite categorically that he believes in bigger government. In fact, he is about to give us one of the biggest governments in Canada next week, where he's basically saying, "Smaller isn't better; bigger is better." We're about to get a government to represent 2.3 million people, and he's going to do it in great haste without recognizing that local government in Metro certainly has had a long and proud history. That is not to say there shouldn't be comprehensive change and adjustment. We all agree with that. But to say all of a sudden, "We believe that the answer to all our problems is having this megacity government," is quite shocking to the people who have been involved in local government, who know its importance and are told: "You have no choice. It's either the megacity highway or no way."

I think this contradicts some of the intentions and I wonder what the intentions of this bill are if we're about to see the demolition of local government, certainly in the Metro area and perhaps beyond. I don't know whether they're going to amalgamate Brampton and Mississauga too; maybe Aurora and Thornhill and Richmond Hill will all become one megalopolis up Yonge Street. I don't know where this is going to stop, but there's a very clear contradiction: This government is saying, "Smaller government is our goal," yet the legislation they're about to introduce in the weeks to come says, "We want bigger mega-governments to solve your problems."


The most frustrating thing to local ratepayers is that they won't be given any say in this matter. A lot of them are asking: "Why not have a referendum? It's our city, it's our neighbourhood, it's our property taxes. I think it's our provincial government. Before you make this change that's going to affect local government for the next 50 years, maybe we should have a say in it. Maybe we should have some kind of plebiscite, because we think local government is important." I think the government started off with Bill 86 to remedy some of the pitfalls in local government and make it better, but then they're saying, "No, now we want these massive governments which no longer become local governments."

I wonder if this legislation is involved in a pre-emptive strike against local government. I think there was an amendment that, while the date for filing for elections at local government is usually January 1, the amendment now moves it to April 1, and this coincides with the agenda of the mega-government across Ontario.

They're going to be ramming through all this legislation: dramatic change to the property tax system. We're going to see a tax system that I think only the people in Lotusland have ever witnessed: the so-called actual value system. We don't know what it is but we're told: "It's going to be good for you. You have to accept this new property tax system at the local level."

Many local governments are in a state of total chaos, confusion and shock because they've been told: "You're going to have a new tax system. Your city councils may be abolished. Your local school boards are going to be abolished." In fact, the school boards may be just hollow shells. They may be just one person sitting in a big, empty cavern who's got a fax machine and a cell phone. That will be the new school board of the 21st century.

There's a lot of anxiety and apprehension, and Bill 86 is doing very little to relieve that anxiety. It takes one small step towards that, but there is one thing I do not like. Traditionally ratepayers have had the right to appeal to the minister on the grounds that perhaps there's been misconduct at the municipal level and the minister would have the right to appeal it. Bill 86 now removes this appeal investigation provision, which most municipalities will support, although some ratepayer groups may oppose it. This inquiry provision was used in the past, and I certainly witnessed its use very effectively, and that was in my own city of York, where we had a serious problem with a group of councillors. I think you have to give ratepayers the right to ask for an inquiry. I don't know the value of taking that right away from ratepayers, especially when there have been some cases, in recent years, of administrative abuses in some local government areas. I think that's a good safeguard and I don't see the necessity of removing that from the legislation.

There's another thing that's very troubling with municipalities and local government. This government has downloaded, unloaded, over 1,700 kilometres of roads from the provincial government to the lower tier. They didn't really have a choice. They were told, "Take the roads or else." So we're going to see a real problem there. I noticed they tried to help the municipalities a bit by removing or lessening the liability where municipalities now are going to be asked to keep it in a state of repair that is "reasonable" in light of the circumstances, including the road's character and location.

I am not sure whether the municipalities are going to be able to do this, considering their funding is dramatically cut and they have 1,700 kilometres of extra roads to take care of. We know they can't raise taxes and we know that people don't want user fees, so this bill does nothing to protect local government from meeting that challenge of unloading 1,700 kilometres of roads on cities and towns and counties all across this province. I find that quite puzzling, considering that the minister himself cut 46% of subsidies to local municipalities.

You can't have it both ways. You can't cut 46%, then unload the roads and tell the municipalities, "Keep the roads safe and in good repair." I think that's going to be a daunting challenge for mayors, especially in some of the small cities, but I guess there won't be any. I see. Maybe that's the answer: There won't be any small cities left and that's why they're bringing everybody together into these Soviet-style megalopolises, where they can somehow all freeze in the cold together, or whatever they're going to do together, and it won't be as painful.

This bill should have more protections for small government. This bill hints at the problem, because the legislation enhances some municipal borrowing powers by removing a number of existing obstacles. Therefore they're saying: "We know you're going to have to borrow more. We know you're going to have to borrow more often because we're going to unload more roads, we're going to unload perhaps more health centres, more nursing homes." Who knows what they're going to unload on to municipalities? They recognize in this bill that they'll have to borrow more.

What I worry about, considering the volatility of investment instruments, is whether some municipalities are going to be able to cope. We recently had a situation where the city of Pickering invested in an insurance company -- Confederation Life I think was the name of it -- which went under. Subsequently, because of default there, Pickering was left over $1 million short because of the investment. I think the warning to municipalities should be, "Be very careful," especially after what happened to the stock market yesterday and the other day. It may be just a bit of burp in the market, but we have to caution municipalities that this ability to borrow more easily may not be everything it's made out to be.

They also should look at what happened in Orange county. As you know, Orange county, one of the wealthiest municipalities in the States, essentially went bankrupt because the money manager made some very colourful investments that ended up bankrupting them. So Orange county, which is almost like the Oakville of California, had to declare bankruptcy because that municipality could not proceed as a result of these bad investments.

This ability to invest more is in many ways a bit dangerous, and I think municipalities should be very careful as they proceed along this way because the province is going to ask you to borrow more.

One thing the province is saying to municipalities is that perhaps they should be innovative in terms of where they can get their revenues. Considering that the Minister of Transportation today supported Mel Lastman in naming subway stations when he said, "You can name those subway stations along Sheppard and call them the Ford station, the Bad Boy station, and bring in revenues," maybe the Minister of Municipal Affairs should say to cities: "Listen, maybe you should change the name of the city. Perhaps instead of Ottawa you could call it Corel." The member for Ottawa Centre could be the member for Corel Centre. Maybe the member for Brampton North could be the member for Chrysler Intrepid. I don't know.


Ms Lankin: Whatever you do, don't give them any ideas. Why are you giving them ideas?

Mr Colle: I know, I shouldn't be giving them ideas. This is again raising revenue for local municipalities. I thought that with redistribution coming about we could also change some of the names of the ridings. Why not try to nail down every dollar that's available? I know the Speaker is a businessperson of renown. He knows that when there's a dollar there you've got to go for it.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The member of Canadian Tire.

Mr Colle: I notice they're building a new megastore, by the way, at Keele and St Clair. It's a wonderful store.

I thought maybe Essex South could become Heinz Ketchup, so the member for Heinz Ketchup instead of the member for Essex South. The member for York Centre could be the member for Palladini Lincoln Mercury. Every time, there would be more advertising. I thought maybe the member for Niagara South could be the member for Casino Niagara. Will he please stand up. You're generating revenue this way. I thought maybe the member for Wilson-Heights --

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): Help me. Brantford. What am I? Come on.

Mr Colle: The member for Brantford, Colborne Street; I'm just trying to think of Colborne Street. The member for Kresge. No, I don't know. Is Kresge still on Colborne Street?

Mr Ron Johnson: Kresge is still on Colborne Street.

Mr Colle: I know. Colborne Street one day will have a renaissance, and I'm sure you'll be part of it.

The member for Wilson Heights could become the member for Kwinter's Sausages. Will the member for Kwinter's Sausages please stand up. Again generating --

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): What about the member for Oakwood?

Mr Colle: I've got nothing in my -- I was thinking the member for Fort York could be the member for Sai Woo, so he could stand up. Those are some I thought of.

There's a lot of history, but there's a lot of money. These are some ingenious ways for municipalities -- Hamilton could become Stelco. "Where do you live?" "I live in downtown Stelco." You can imagine the Stelco Tiger Cats; I don't know what they'd call them. These are some ideas, perhaps, that the minister will have to throw out because of the shortages --

Mr Wildman: That's why I'm the member for Algoma.

Mr Colle: Algoma. You're already ahead of the trend here, the member for Algoma. He's progressive. He's way ahead of the pack on this.

Getting back to the bill itself, the bill deals with frameworks of how municipalities could be better run, that elections can be run more effectively and more efficiently and attract more people.

In terms of recounts, some of us have seen the recounts. I've been through recounts myself, and some of them have been nightmarish. I think there's a need to clarify the recount area.

There was one in the city of Toronto that went on for a year and a half that I think cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. That is not serving democracy. It adds a lot more cynicism and frustration to the process. I certainly applaud the minister for trying to rectify it. I'm not sure whether he has done that, because there's always a recourse to appeal to Divisional Court etc. That went on in Toronto, and it was a really frustrating experience for everybody involved in it, especially the voters who had to wait a year and a half to find out who their member was.

That area has got to be addressed because recounts happen and you can't escape them. There's got to be a better way, and maybe this is the better way. But it seems that every time we change the laws and try to plug a loophole in recounts, someone comes along and there's an appeal process and we start all over again. It would be interesting to see whether we bring some sanity to recounts in this area.

Another area is in terms of the whole process of transportation. My understanding is that the ministry has withdrawn the local transportation section of the act. I'm not sure whether he has done that, but there was discussion about him doing that.

One concern I had was that this is one of the real challenges all governments face at the local level. We've certainly seen what's happened to the Wheel-Trans situation, where the Toronto Transit Commission had to find an extra $4 million to try and meet some of the unbelievable demands for transit for the disabled. I think municipalities across Ontario are facing that challenge because there is a reality of demographics. There is an aging population, and generally speaking, people who are aging tend to have more problems with mobility. That's a fact of life. This is not going to end and it's not just a Toronto problem. Municipal local transportation is a critical part of the life and vitality of a city or town. The minister attempted to introduce a program as part of the solution, but it seemed to be quite cumbersome. I don't know what the plan is now, but this is a need that is apparent in every major city and certainly all the smaller towns in terms of how to provide affordable, accessible transportation for all their citizens.

The living proof of how transportation works for the betterment of local government is that if you take an aerial look up Yonge Street you'll see the development that has occurred up Yonge Street since 1950. It almost follows the subway, so that brought more tax dollars into Metro, more business and there's a thriving community around the businesses. When you invest in transportation you also invest in business. You invest in neighbourhoods and communities.

With the withdrawal of that section, I'm not sure what the government will do now, because every city is crying out for better transportation. We can't stand still and hope on a wish and a prayer that somehow the transportation problems will be solved through some kind of indirect fashion. I think the government has to take a very serious look at how it's going to invest in public transportation, because no matter how much you invest in the automobile and in roads, there is no solution in itself. You have to have a balanced and sometimes an investment strategy beyond just roads, into public transportation, because that's the only way you're going to alleviate congestion. You could probably build another two or three 407s and still not alleviate the transportation gridlock here in the GTA.

You have to have an investment in some form of public transportation, whether it be heavy rail like the GO system, whether it be bus systems, streetcar systems or a variety of new initiatives from smaller entrepreneurs. Local government cannot survive and cities cannot survive without good Main-Street-type transportation.

Take a look at Queen Street in Toronto. I ask the members who are from Ottawa and Guelph and Mississauga to take a ride on the Queen Street streetcar one day. I know my colleague from High Park-Swansea has ridden it many times. He will tell you --

Mr Shea: That's where we should have built the next subway.

Mr Colle: Yes. He had advocated a subway on Queen Street and he was probably right, if they had listened to him years ago.

That kind of investment in Queen Street, one of the oldest streets in Metro, in Canada -- it is a working, viable, attractive, exciting, interesting street that Colborne Street in Brantford will be like some day. Look at how it works. I ask the member for Brantford to go there and see Queen Street from the streetcar. You will see small shops, small restaurants, big stores like Eaton's, the Bay, the mega-banks, but you will also see the small, little apartments, and living side by side with the Queen Street streetcar, people who go fishing. I know you won't believe this, but I've seen people with pails of fish on the Queen Street streetcar. They go fishing at either end, take your choice: carp from the Humber or carp from the Don, but it's still good fishing, the sport of it. They're on the Queen Street streetcar with a pail of fish, along with the business men and women in their business suits and business attire, along with the seniors and students. They're all on the Queen Street streetcar. That streetcar, that transportation system, the public transportation system on Queen Street, makes that street viable.


Mr Ron Johnson: That doesn't sound like trout.

Mr Colle: There are no lake trout in the Humber any more. There are salmon in the Humber. Someone caught a 40-pound salmon just at the mouth of the Humber this year.

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): On a streetcar?

Mr Colle: He didn't bring it back on the streetcar. Just the carp are allowed on the streetcar.

In terms of public transportation and local government, again, there is now a gap in this legislation. I'm not sure what the next move is going to be, but I'm encouraging the government to come up with a strategy to make it easier for local government to build effective, affordable transportation systems in all cities and towns across Ontario. I know you will get a return on your investment, not in the next year or two years; the investment comes back 10, 20 years later. Again I give the example of Queen Street as proof of that. I give the example of the Yonge Street subway. I give the example of the Bloor Street subway.

Initially the investment in that kind of infrastructure is quite prohibitive and seems to be large, but I think prudently you can invest in public transportation and get that money back, not only in terms of good transportation but you'll get it back in increased tax assessment and better neighbourhoods. Some of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto are along the Queen Street streetcar line, the King Street line, the St Clair line, up and down Lansdowne. That's where people live: where there's good transportation. You don't have to have as many cars, so the parking problems are still there but they're not impossible to live with. What makes it livable are reasonable degrees of investment in public transportation.

This Bill 86 I think attempted to do that, but I guess they felt there was a problem with their initiative here on the community transportation action program and they stepped back. I am just encouraging the government, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Transportation to come back with a new strategy that will meet the needs of our cities and towns for public transportation and will also certainly take a proactive role and not do the finger-pointing about who's to blame for not having transit for the disabled. I think this government has to recognize that they have a serious role to play in making sure people in our community who can't take regular transportation are allowed to be mobile, to shop, to go to doctors, to visit their family --

Mr Ron Johnson: To fish.

Mr Colle: -- and if they want, to engage in recreational activity, fishing or playing chess at the local community centre.

One of the areas I'm most concerned about is what is going to happen to transit services. I know in the GTA mayors' recommendations, they're very strong in calling for an integrated transit service in the GTA, certainly. I hope that is part of the initiative, that we have a blended system whereby people can go from different authorities throughout the GTA, and in cities like Ottawa and Hamilton. That would be very important.

In terms of the thrust of this bill, there has to be a recognition that many municipalities today, as I said, are under a great deal of economic stress. There is a questioning out there. They are wondering, "What will the government do next?" In Ottawa, in Hamilton, in Toronto, local ratepayers do not know what kind of property taxes they're going to be paying. Local ratepayers do not know if their city hall is going to be turned into a museum. They don't know whether their city hall is going to be boarded up. I know the wonderful city hall in East York, just built a couple of years ago, a beautiful little building off Mortimer, I think it is, it would be a shame to make that into some kind of -- who knows what? -- Mandarin restaurant. What will they do with it? I don't know.

These city halls all across Ontario are on pins and needles because Bill 86 does not answer the problems at all. Bill 86 pretends to try to solve their problems. It takes one step forward and two back. Every elected municipal official and school board official and ratepayer association has thrown their hands up in confusion, because the Common Sense Revolution didn't talk about bigger government. It didn't talk about amalgamating the whole province into one big mega-mess. It talked about smaller government being more effective and efficient government.

I don't know, again, how this can possibly help smaller municipalities, cities at the local level. I wonder, as I've said, if you're going to wipe away a city like Toronto, about 200 years old, gone, blended into the mega-monster, eaten up by the mega-monster, all the traditions, the heritage -- you heard the member from Scarborough-Agincourt. He was here today and he mentioned all these great citizens of Scarborough. Arthur Hailey, the author of Airport and all these excellent books was a citizen of Scarborough. He used to live on the Scarborough Bluffs, a fantastic neighbourhood. Now the mega-monster will probably eat --

Mr Ron Johnson: Swallow it up.

Mr Colle: Swallow it up and spit it out. Cindy Nicholas, the great swimmer, another great citizen of Scarborough: Will she get a chance to participate in government once the mega-monster swallows up Scarborough? Will there be another medal ceremony for honouring these great citizens of Scarborough once the mega-monster bulldozes and, as I say, devours local government?

East York: Talk about local government, if you want to see local government -- and again, I'm an outsider; I'm from the other end, in the city of York -- if you want to see citizen participation in local government at its best. Even when the Minister of Health, the minister of everything, was the mayor, it was a great city to be involved in at the local level. It's a city of 100,000, the size of Kingston.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It's a borough.

Mr Colle: It's the last borough. You can imagine what would happen if they were to swallow up Kingston. But there's East York, 100,000 proud citizens in that borough who are proud of their little homes, which they keep spotless, just like in Ottawa South or along the Glebe -- beautiful little places. What will the mega-monster do to these fine little neighbourhoods and streets? What happens in local government?

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Talk about the fish in the Rideau Canal.

Mr Colle: Actually, I used to skate on the Rideau Canal. We used to play hockey on the Rideau. Every winter we'd have a hockey game there, up and down the Rideau. That will probably be gone if Ottawa becomes a megacity. They'll probably pave over the Rideau Canal when this minister gets through with this mega mania. That's what they'll do, pave the Rideau Canal; more history paved over, disappearing.

Is Oshawa going to be swallowed? Oshawa, Whitby, are they going to be megalomonsterized? The very fabric of local government which Bill 86 tries to protect is going to be absorbed into bigger and bigger entities.

We have seen what has happened in the Soviet Union when you get that big: You lose touch. This overcentralization doesn't work. You have to make changes and protect what is good in local government, but to have this one-size-fits-all approach is dangerous.

Some cities perhaps need changes. We know there are some municipalities, some smaller towns, that maybe should join together to be stronger. The problem is, this is going too far, too fast, trying to join everybody together. It's like shotgun politics, shotgun government: "Whether you like it or not, you'd better join together or else here's what you get." That's not the way the local government came out of the grass roots of small towns; Muddy York, for instance. It came from a small group of interested citizens who fought for better government, representation, participatory democracy.


That's what Bill 86 should be strengthening, but I wonder what Bill 86, along with the mega-legislation that's going to come next week, will do to our heritage, our neighbourhoods, our streets, our sidewalks, our community centres, our little parks. Will the local ratepayers be able to knock on the councillor's door or will you need a limo, a lawyer or a lobbyist to go see your councillor? I think that's what this mega mania's going to do. It's going to make a lot of lawyers and lobbyists very rich because you'll need these people to go see your councillor, to go see the mayor. Can you imagine the mayor of 2.3 million people? That won't be a mayor; that'll be like a mini- or junior Premier.

Mr Bradley: It'll cost you $1 million to get elected.

Mr Colle: Right. You'll probably have to be very wealthy to be elected councillor. For those of us who started in local government, you could start a campaign for $500. Now you'll need $50,000 to be elected if local governments are destroyed and decimated. This is what this mega mania's going to do. This is what Bill 86 doesn't protect against.

It says it's going to do something about local government and all it's doing is that it's like the setup pitcher; you know, it sets you up and then they're going to mow you down. I can't really accept this bill as being good for local government. The fact is that it goes into that changing of the date from January 1 to April 1 because they know that with the mega-bills they're going to need this date so that they can get this through by second reading and then, instead of people being registered January, this bill will allow them to be -- so this is a setup for the mega-legislation.

I warn all of you who are interested as taxpayers in local government that has worked well. Certainly local government sometimes is very frustrating. There are a lot of ratepayers and a lot of meetings and a lot of bylaws. I read where with this mega-proposal they're going to have to amalgamate 16,000 bylaws in Metro Toronto.

I was talking to Andrew Paton, a noted municipal lawyer here in Toronto. He remembers when they were amalgamating some of the smaller cities back in the history of Metro. He said it was a nightmare then with a couple of thousand bylaws. Now they're going to have to blend 16,000 bylaws in Metro.

What will they do? They'll take this one-size-fits-all approach, and when you do that you know what you're going to jeopardize: local identity and local involvement. One of the things that makes cities so livable is that they're all a little different with their nooks and crannies. There are differences. They're not like in Albania where you've just got these concrete block tenements. If you go to East York, if you go to Hamilton, if you go to Ottawa and Vanier -- there's a beautiful example of local government, Vanier.

Mr Guzzo: Eastview.

Mr Colle: Eastview, right. Montreal Road, Eastview, Bathgate, all those streets. There's an example of a beautiful little community, Eastview. Now, as you know, the talk is about mega mania. We have to swallow up Vanier, and all its history and all its culture and all its good people will now be part of this megacity called Corel Centre, I guess they're going to call it. They're going to call it Corel. What does that do? What will the people from Eastview say: "Am I still one who counts? Will my vote count when I go to vote? Does it count more when I go and vote for one of the Grandmaîtres in the municipal elections in Eastview or does it count more when I have to vote for the mega-mayor of Corel?" You can imagine who the mega-mayor of Corel will be. Whit Tucker may run for mayor of Corel Centre; I don't know who's going to run. Maybe Dave Thelen, one of those greats from Ottawa's past, may run.

The point I'm making is that Vanier, Eastview, is an example of a small city which is about to be swallowed up by the mega mania, just as East York will be swallowed up. That is not to say that progressive people aren't in favour of change and adjustments. There have to be changes.

Mr Guzzo: What about Chiarelli? Is he not running?

Mr Colle: I think one of the Chiarellis will run; maybe Ron Chiarelli will run. I don't know. Maybe his cousin will run. His cousin used to run one of the finest sporting stores in Ottawa, right there on Main Street. I used to buy my hockey equipment there, but the shin pads were always thin, though; I used to get a shot in the shins. We used to have the Eaton's catalogues at that time.

Anyway, getting back to small cities, perhaps Vanier or Eastview -- the real name is Eastview -- will want to be part of a bigger city, but you've got to give people in the smaller cities a say in it, just as the people in East York, York, Scarborough, North York, the city of Toronto and Etobicoke want a say. In other words, they want to see whether their property taxes will go up or down. The government is saying: "Trust us. Your property taxes will not go up." Then they say, "The services will be the same."

I know it's going to be pretty hard to match the service level in the city of North York. There is a bigger city. I would say that if you want to look at a clean city of that size, there are very few that match it in terms of the cleanliness, the efficiency and the level of service in North York. When you swallow North York up, will the service level then go down? Where will they find the level? What will happen to property taxes? What will happen to services? What will happen to the accessibility to local councillors? You can see Mel Lastman walking up and down Yonge Street. He's in the square almost daily. He's on TV all the time. He's got his talk show. They can approach a mayor like Lastman; they can approach Mayor Prue of East York; the mayor of Vanier I'm sure is very approachable. But try to approach a mega-mayor. As I said, you'll need a limo, a lobbyist and a lawyer to go see them. They won't be approachable. You know what it's like in your own back benches. You try and go see the Premier and talk to him.


Mr Colle: I don't want to cause dissension within the ranks, but they understand how much work the Premier has on his table, so they understand how busy he is.

I ask members across the way, is it local government when it's 2.3 million people? It's no longer local government. It's basically the same size as the province of Alberta, and they've got a Premier named Ralph Klein there to run a province that size. They're saying that in Metro it'll be okay. We'll have somebody -- His Honour David Crombie or whoever it will be -- be the mega-mayor. If you've got a problem with a pothole -- and local government is about potholes; local government is about getting your garbage picked up; local government is about keeping your streets and sidewalks clear of ice and snow.

In fact, I ran into a lady on St Clair the other day. She was walking her dog and she said, "You know, I'm so happy that I can phone my councillor in the city of Toronto." I won't mention his name. "He answers the phone, and when the ice builds up on the sidewalk along the street, he sends the crew out there and they do something about it." She's a senior who walks the dog every day.

You can imagine in the new megacity if you try to phone the councillor, you try to phone the mega-mayor and say you've got ice on the sidewalk or there's a pothole or your garbage hasn't been picked up. The mega-mayor will probably have you in voicemail hell for about a month before he even gets your call -- or she; she could be a mega-mayor. I don't know what you'd call her.


Ms Castrilli: Czarina.

Mr Colle: A czarina. The czarina or czar, yes, right.


Mr Colle: I'm just trying to get a cue from the member for St Catharines whether he's --

Mr Bradley: I'm just about ready.

Mr Colle: Okay. Anyway, in all sincerity, and I think all of us here represent different towns and cities across Ontario, we all do believe in, really, the contributions local government has made. We can't disagree that strong local government is the backbone of this great province. It hasn't been just because of the federal and the provincial government; the greatness of this province comes from the neighbourhoods and from the small governments that have really built it up from the ground up. It's not the fancy stuff; it's the day-to-day management of the little things. If you take care of the little things at the local level, we will have good neighbourhoods, good cities and a great province.

When you start jeopardizing the vitality and the viability of local government, you are risking, endangering, something. The rest of the world looks at us and says: "What a wonderful place Ontario is. Your cities, your towns, your counties are places I would live in at the drop of a hat." That has taken, again, a couple of centuries to build from the ground up. I worry about bills like Bill 86, which do not recognize that kind of contribution enough. I worry about what's to come, the mega-deluge that's to be thrust upon these cities, the swallowing up of these local traditions.

I ask all of you on the other side to remember that it is critically important to understand that local government needs your support more than ever, because if it disappears now, it will take a generation or two to bring it back. It will take the Soviet Union another 40 years to rebuild their infrastructure because they didn't take care of local government. Don't make the mistakes of Joe Stalin, don't make the mistake of the czars. Do something that is typically Ontarian: Preserve the small, preserve those things that work. Make your changes, but don't make them with a steamroller and a bulldozer. We want change, but we want it constructively. Give people a say in the changes. Don't let them dictate the changes to government. If you cooperate and do it in partnership, some of the changes will come about. But don't try to ram it down their throats. Let people have a say before you destroy local government.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Steve Gilchrist): Further debate?

Mr Bradley: If this didn't happen at the beginning, I would ask permission to complete the remarks for the Liberals.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines is requesting unanimous consent to divide the speaking time. Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Bradley: Thank you kindly. That's very kind of members, because they have heard one or two speeches in this House over the last couple of weeks, and it's very kind of them to indulge me further. I know they will forgive me if I happen to repeat some of the themes that might have been in some of the other speeches. It's nice to see the member for Scarborough East in the chair this evening, looking very distinguished, I might add. I think a round of applause is due for him.

A municipal bill is a good bill because it allows so much latitude for discussion. That's how I managed to convince the Speaker to begin with that there may be some latitude. But this bill is benign in parts of it, it is positive in parts of it and it has some worrisome aspects to it, so it's probably typical of many pieces of legislation that have come forward over the years.

I want to deal with elections -- there's a section on elections in the legislation -- and the reason I do is because I think that the provisions found in here may be troublesome to a certain extent. I mentioned on second reading that I could not be considered to be a technological whiz by any means. I see that you can phone in or mail in ballots. I know we're trying to have as much participation as possible. I think a better way of implementing this probably would have been doing so on a pilot-project basis to see if it works, because I'm worried that there could be some fraud that would take place as a result of the phone-in or mail-in ballots. I don't know how you verify it. Probably the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing or someone else has explained partly how this could work, but I do have that concern that there may be some fraud possible with the phone-in or the mail-in ballots. I know some people at the local level, the municipal clerks' offices, have some apprehensions about that. But perhaps that can be overcome. I'm not certain on that, so I don't want to be overly critical.

It says municipal enumerations at every election are no longer required. As long as everybody can get on the voters' lists and it can be done quite easily, I don't see a great problem with this, because that is a cost, and increasingly, interestingly enough, it's difficult to get people to do this job. Those of us in politics can remember when this was considered to be a plum, an enumeration job was considered to be a political plum that political parties could provide to various people who were supporters. Today you find more often than not that it's more difficult to get people to take on these responsibilities. The number of people who are available and who are qualified to do the job is down somewhat compared to, say, 20 years ago.

There has been a lot of talk of a permanent voters' list. My only problem is that I hope we don't go to an American system -- and I don't think we are -- where people have to register to vote. Here, we are automatically placed on a list or we are asked if we would like to be placed on a list. In the United States, people have to register, and of course people with means, people who have money and influence and, I might say, interest, are those who are bound to register, and those who may not have a preoccupation with politics or may be preoccupied with simply making a daily living, people usually in lower-income areas, don't tend to register as much as people in higher-income areas. I would simply want to ensure that we had a fairness there, and I think that can probably be worked out.

Automatic recounts based on the closeness of a vote are eliminated. We've had some horror stories in this regard, but they are relatively few and far between. I think, in fairness, that a recount is useful. I don't know what the bill says, to be honest, about how you would trigger a recount, but when it's very close, one would anticipate that it would be wise to have a recount to ensure that the person who received the most votes in fact is elected.

The part that I find particularly troublesome under the section dealing with elections is the one that says the provincial Commission on Election Finances will no longer be responsible for overseeing municipal election finances. We've got some improved laws over the years at the federal and provincial level dealing with election financing, that is, both including how people can spend money and how much, and, second, how much a person or a political party or organization can raise for election purposes.

It's wise to have those limitations, because those limitations, while they don't guarantee this, tend to work in favour of not allowing the person with the most financial means to have an unfair advantage on others. Now, we don't live in a perfect world and there are elections where some people spend substantially more than others, but at least there are some limitations -- I think that's positive -- and second, there's some careful scrutiny of who gives money to those who are candidates, or political parties in the case of political parties. That's good to know, and it's good that this amount, by the way, is limited, so that one person or one company can't give $15,000 to a specific campaign in a specific, in this case, district of a city, or we might call it a ward of a city, or perhaps city-wide. I think that's important to have those limitations.

I actually think the provincial Commission on Election Finances does a good job in this regard, has for a number of years. When I see that it's no longer responsible for overseeing municipal election finances, I become somewhat concerned about that because I believe that it becomes a hodgepodge of administration and that we could see some great difficulties.


It says only campaign surpluses over $500 are required to be turned over to the clerk or held in trust for the next campaign. I suppose that's not a bad figure. If you'd said that 25 years ago, $500 in terms of the amount of money in a campaign would probably have been quite substantial and you would want it returned. I think what you're trying to do in this is get away from unnecessary administration, and this seems to. I guess you could say a lower amount, but this doesn't seem to be outrageous that you would include this in a bill.

Overall, I am concerned with the way money is spent in campaigns. This gets into something the member for Oakwood talked about, and that was making communities bigger or cities bigger. The larger the district a person has to run in -- a megacity, for instance -- the more money it's going to take to win that campaign. There are people who have suggested to me that the Conservatives like this because they tend to be more successful in a community when people are running city-wide compared to wards, or region-wide compared to individual communities, that if you look around various places you'll find that Conservatives tend to be more successful because they tend to have more money to spend. I don't know if that's true or not, but that seems to happen a lot of places.

In St Catharines, we have more Conservatives sitting on the regional council, for instance, which runs city-wide, than we do sitting on the city council, which is elected by wards. That may be pure coincidence, but it seems to me when I look in Metropolitan Toronto, the elections take place and they seem to elect a more right-wing group in Metro and a more centre or centre-left group in the city of Toronto, for instance, where there are smaller wards.

So I can see there might be a political motivation in this. I hate to be suspicious; I just don't want to be. But you'll forgive me if I see a plot of sorts in that.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Conspiracy theory.

Mr Bradley: Conspiracy maybe.


Mr Bradley: The member for Brampton South mentions Olivia Chow being re-elected. I don't know what that means. I guess Olivia Chow is not a person he agrees with in terms of his political philosophy. Knowing what her philosophy is, I think she would be poles apart from the member from Brampton.

I want to say as well that I see you're in a problem with assessment, because it says under Bill 86 that assessments that would normally be required to be carried out in 1997 are delayed pending the province's broader reforms to assessment policy. Some people who know the Toronto area well tell me that what this is all about, in fact, is assessment, that what you're really into is trying to change assessment by changing boundaries and that the real clump of feathers will hit the fan when we get into a situation dealing with assessment.

It says that the Municipal Act has contained a traditional provision allowing ratepayers to petition for an inquiry into municipal conduct, subject to the approval of the minister. Bill 86 removes this appeal investigation provision, which most municipalities will support, although some ratepayers' groups may oppose it. This inquiry provision was used in the past to uncover administrative abuses in certain communities.

Again, I can understand this. This is consistent with the government's stand on the Wilson affair, where you don't want an inquiry. What you want in this case is the narrowest form of inquiry, which is the information commissioner.

I think it is good to have a provision. I know it can be used in a vexatious manner, and I don't like to see that. It's difficult enough to try to govern and to try to do a good job as an elected representative without people unfairly nipping at your heels. Nevertheless, the minister did have the discretion to deny an appeal for such an inquiry into municipal conduct, and I think that was a safeguard. That is eliminated, and I think that's a bit of a sop to people who know that you are doing them in in other ways; for instance, by providing less money.

It talks about municipal debt and investment. My friend the member for Oakwood pointed out that municipalities are going to have to get into greater debt now because more and more responsibility is being transferred to the municipalities without the accompanying transfer payments from the provincial government. So it is anticipated by this bill that they will get into more debt and the provincial government will look good. They will say, "Look at our debt. Our debt is diminishing considerably," but the debt of the municipalities will be increasing.

I explained this during Bill 26. It was interesting during the hearings on Bill 26 in Niagara Falls -- and you were wondering how I was going to get the tax cut into this. I asked a representative of city council who was making representations that sounded pretty favourable to the government: "Do you understand that the provincial government is going to borrow the money to give a tax cut which would benefit the most wealthy people in our society to the greatest extent? Do you understand that they're going to give a tax cut on the provincial income tax, which is the most progressive form of tax because it takes into account a person's ability to pay?" In order words, if you or I are unemployed in a year, Mr Speaker, and our income goes down, we pay less; if we're fortunate enough to be making far more, we pay more, ordinarily. So that's a progressive tax. You're going to give people a tax break there, but you're going to transfer obligations to the local level in the form of either user fees or the municipal property tax, neither of which takes into account a person's ability to pay.

Again, look at an example of unemployment; it can happen to anybody. A person might be unemployed in a particular year. That person might pay $3,000 a year in property taxes in a municipality, and that person has to pay that regardless of his or her personal financial circumstances or income in that year. So every time you raise the property tax, you raise a regressive tax. The government House leader, who was the mayor of East York, would understand that better than anybody and would be sympathetic to the argument I'm making.


Mr Bradley: I should tell the viewers at home that it was an exchange of Speakers in this case that prompted the applause, not anything I said. The member for Scarborough East was being accorded a warm round of applause by all and sundry. Either that or the applause was for the new Speaker, the member for Perth, who was assuming the chair.

Not to be distracted from my line of thought -- I think I was in the middle of the tax cut at the time -- I said to him: "Do you understand this? Would your council have submitted this brief, which sounds fairly favourable to Bill 26, if you knew this was happening, that they were borrowing money for the tax cut and cutting the most progressive tax and putting it on the most regressive tax?" The person who was there -- I don't want to mention the person; I don't want to embarrass them -- said, "No, I didn't, and our council probably wouldn't have supported it."

It shows you how many people are not aware that you are borrowing $5 billion a year, paying interest on that, to give a tax cut that bank presidents are applauding because they get hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional funds and the person at the lower level gets even hundreds of dollars -- if it's at the lower end -- and loses a lot of services.

A very rich person can have his or her children go and play hockey and have the league or the group pay $100 or $200 an hour, but people of modest income, their children are not in the same position to enjoy that. So what we do is we polarize the province. We make it so that if you are wealthy enough and privileged enough, you enjoy the amenities of life -- recreational opportunities, for instance -- and if you aren't, well, that's just too bad.


I've said in this House on many occasions that we can't provide everybody with a luxury home, we can't provide everybody with the best automobile they can have, we can't give everybody an expensive 54-inch television set, but we can provide for basic services, particularly for the vulnerable such as children and elderly individuals. It seems to me we're moving away from that even within the provisions of this bill.

At the insistence of the two opposition parties, the section on community transportation has been removed. I know the brothers and sisters who are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union across the province were concerned about this provision because they felt it could place in jeopardy the local municipal transit systems. What I see underneath this, of course, as members would probably agree, is a plot to privatize. They're really trying to get out of municipal transit and privatize it somehow.

I was at the opening of the new bus terminal in downtown St Catharines, which is the heart of the city. I'm glad it's in the downtown. It's for the buses belonging to the St Catharines Transit Commission and those which travel from community to community. In our case, Greyhound and Trentway-Wagar would be the two that would be involved in our community. They were there to join in an activity which was positive for everybody. But again, people who have automobiles, people who are able to travel independently, don't worry as much about public transit as those who rely on it. The manager of the transit commission, either that or the chair of the transit commission -- one of the two; I can't recall -- mentioned that 15,000 people a day in the community of St Catharines, which has about 130,000 people, would be found in that bus terminal at some time or other. I thought it rather important that we provide that service.

I know you can say you subsidize it but, thank you, you also subsidize the highway I drive on by spending a lot of money on its upkeep and its widening and its cleaning and its maintenance. So it seems to me that's a good investment by government, the investment in municipal transit. I have been encouraged by the number of people I see who previously were homebound who now have the opportunity to travel, as others do, through Wheel-Trans and other special ways of transporting people who have disabilities of a physical nature. But we're seeing cuts to that coming from the province, and again vulnerable people are suffering as a result of this.

There are other provisions which are rather interesting. One is municipal liability. Again, we don't want to get into the American system where if somebody sneezes on a sidewalk, there's lawyer standing there to assist the person with a legal action against the municipality. On the other hand, there are circumstances where municipalities might be legally liable, and I hope we don't overly restrict that liability where the municipality doesn't carry out its obligations.

I can again understand why this is contained in the bill. My friend the member for Algoma can probably understand. My friend the member for Oriole, who is beside me this evening, as a former municipal elected representative would understand that if municipalities have fewer resources because of the cuts from the provincial government, those municipalities may be in a position where they cannot keep up their roads and other property and they're going to be more likely to have people incur accidents as a result. I think that's what's behind this.

Again, I would like to have seen more debate on this, but some of us have had to preoccupy ourselves with the closing of hospitals in our communities. I was reading the Sarnia Observer the other day. The headline said, "Boushy Blasts Health Minister." Now, there isn't a Health minister to blast at this time.

Mr O'Toole: Dave Boushy's not here.

Mr Bradley: He's not here? Oh, I'm not supposed to say that. But I just want to compliment him on having the intestinal fortitude to speak to his local newspaper and to say this. I'm not trying to cause him problems with the Premier. I don't think the Premier will read the Hansard -- although he can afford it. A lot of people who can't afford it because they don't have computers will be out of luck, but I think the Premier has a computer, and he might see this. So I will put this down, because it is a problem.

That reminds me -- I must get into this -- I was discouraged by that decision because I know there is a long list of people in this province who want a subscription to Hansard. I know many, many people, they're lined up for this, and now you're saying they have to have computers and the Internet and that means they have to have more money. Poor people won't be able to read Hansard and only rich people will be able to read it because it will be on the Internet or they'll be charging a huge amount at the Publications Ontario bookstore and you'll have to order it every time something happens.

I want them to be able to read the speeches that are made in this House by various members. I want them to be able to know that the member for High Park-Swansea led off this debate this evening and what he had to say about this piece of legislation. So I must, as I do so often, lament an action on the part of this government.

I did mention the closing of hospitals. I know our municipalities, while they're interested in this bill and how it might impact them, are equally interested in the closing of hospitals.

Today, I can tell you, the local hospital restructuring commission brought out a report which opened the door for the closing of the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines and radical changes, if not the closing, to the hospital in Port Colborne and the one in Niagara-on-the-Lake. There's nothing that sends a chill through a community more than a hospital closing.

I well remember that the Premier was asked about lots of things, asked about municipal promises, and in the same debate he was asked about hospital closings. Robert Fisher -- from Scarborough, which will disappear under the megacity -- during the leaders' debate in the provincial election asked the now Premier whether his promise to protect health care meant he would not close hospitals. Here's the Premier's answer. This is right from the transcript of the debate. This was on television for all to see. I think I had neighbours in my neighbourhood who voted Conservative because the Premier said this; I can't think of another reason they would have, but this is one they probably did. He said, in answer to Robert Fisher, "Well, certainly I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals."

The people in Thunder Bay are going to be surprised by that, people in Sudbury, Sarnia, Lambton, Bruce, Kincardine, Wiarton. Wait till they come to Ottawa. I know my friend the member for Ottawa-Rideau is going to be very concerned when they close some of the hospitals in Ottawa. In Toronto, they'll be closing hospitals. All this when the Premier said he had no intention, no plans to do this.

I'm going to back to my city this weekend and say: "Don't worry. I don't think the Hotel Dieu Hospital will be closed and I don't think the Port Colborne or Niagara-on-the-Lake hospitals will be closed, because my Premier said during the election campaign, `Well, certainly I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals.'"

I'll hold the Premier to this commitment. I'll go back --

Mr Wildman: Jim, in the House today he just said that he had no plan.

Mr Bradley: Well, I listen to the Premier reinterpret what he said, but I know what people in my city and other cities understood by what the Premier said. What happens is this: The provincial government says, "You're getting $38 million less to run the hospitals in your community. Now, go and tell us what you need in your community." I hear people say, "That doesn't influence what the commission is doing." I don't know what world they're living in, because it certainly does.

My friend the member for Welland-Thorold is here tonight and he would know what I'm talking about. You can't take $38 million out of the hospital budgets and then say to a commission, "Would you come back with a report that keeps all the hospitals open?" It forces them to close the hospitals. But it's a local commission that does it, so the Premier, like Pontius Pilate, gets out the bowl of water and washes his hands and says: "I didn't have anything to do with this. It's not my fault. It's the local commission."


In our area, Rob Welch is the chair of that commission, a fine young gentleman in our community who's served on regional council. He's forced to go through this process and is told ahead of time, as is the whole commission, "You've got $38 million less in operating dollars," which means $38 million less every year to operate the hospitals, so what I call the crackpot realism sets in. They accept what the revolutionaries say and, based on that, come forward with recommendations. They say, as I said earlier in the day, "If we're going to lose a whole leg, we had better cut off our leg at the ankle, because if we don't cut if off at the ankle, the provincial commission will cut it off at the hip."

I worry about that considerably. I know what is going to happen, so I will be there. To the local people today, even those who are trying to rationalize this and say, "Don't you think there are some empty rooms in those hospitals?" I've come back to say I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of my community who want to see the Hotel Dieu Hospital, with its fine history of service, with its wonderful operating rooms, emergency area, oncology clinic, the renal dialysis clinic, all of its facilities, that I will help to keep it open. And I'll have my friend the Premier on my side, because I'll have this in my hand. I'll be saying, "The Premier said, `Well, certainly I can guaranteed you that it's not my plan to close hospitals.'"

I know the municipality, which is going to be looking at this bill -- I'm sure my friends on St Catharines city council will not turn tail and run when their hospital is going to be closed. I am sure they will not do that.

But I'll tell you what's going to happen in all of your communities. This is the problem that's going to happen in all your communities: The people who don't get the axe are going to be mum or supportive. Why? Because they dodged the bullet this time, because they survived. You're not going to hear criticism from them. It's divide and conquer.

People in our area are saying, "If you have some room in the general hospital, why don't you put in there regional facilities?" In other words, today people in St Catharines have to go to London or Toronto or Hamilton to get access to certain services. The people in my community are saying: "Why don't we have those services in St Catharines if we've got some room in the hospital? Why should our people have to go all the way over to Hamilton, all the way down to London, all the way over to Toronto, to get these services?" I suspect that in many of your communities the same question is being asked.

Our population generally is getting older. In the Niagara Peninsula we have on average, and in St Catharines I can say this for certain, an older population. If you read the book Boom, Bust and Echo, which was first on the bestseller list for a long time -- I don't know if it still is this week or whether Bob Rae's book is on top now. The member for Welland-Thorold would tell me that.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I checked out the remainder tables yesterday.

Mr Bradley: The member for Welland-Thorold did check out the remainder tables to see if Bob Rae's book was there.

What I am concerned about is that in Boom, Bust and Echo, the author cautions that we should not be quickly closing hospitals, that as the population gets older -- and we're all going to live to a much older age than the people who came before us -- we're going to need those hospitals. We're going to need a lot more of those hospitals.


Mr Bradley: Well, I would suggest I will still be here 20 years from now.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): He said you'll still be here talking.

Mr Bradley: I was wondering what he was saying. Anything is possible, I suppose. But whether I have a voice at that particular time is another matter.

Anyway, those people are concerned about hospital closings, and I've heard all the crackpot realism, which I define as that you accept the Harris revolutionary message and you go from there. I think having a local commission look at all the needs in the area is a fine idea. I want to compliment the local commission on looking at and assessing all the needs in the area and how they can best be met. I want to compliment them on that. I think that's a good exercise that has to be done on an ongoing basis. From time to time, we see rationalizations so that there's not duplication of services at various health care facilities. Everybody accepts that. Anybody who doesn't accept that would be unrealistic.

But when I see huge amounts of money, $38 million, being pulled out of the operating budgets of hospitals in our area, I know what the government is up to. It's making those very deep cuts, which many in the government caucus didn't anticipate, and it's being done to finance your risky scheme, the tax cut, which the corporation presidents are applauding because they're getting a lot of money back from the government.

While this may not be contained directly in this bill, the LCBO privatization is another issue that might have been included in this bill. Remember when they put the provision in for community transportation and the government withdrew it? I'm wondering if the LCBO might have been in this bill earlier and the government withdrew it. We know, as you would know in your community, Mr Speaker, that the LCBO has great stores. They're kept clean, there's a wide variety of product, it's well done, they're modern stores; it has a good record of keeping kids who shouldn't be getting booze from getting booze; it has a great testing laboratory to make sure there's not poison product coming out. It's excellent.

In our area, if I could be parochial, it's also important in promoting wines which are made locally. People used to -- unfairly, with their noses in the air -- laugh at Ontario wines. Many years ago, the quality of our wines a century ago may not have been what it is today. But the problem was that people were dismissing them out of hand. What we find out now when we have international blind tests, where you can't see what the label is -- the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario has brought a lot of this about -- we have excellent product. The best way of promoting this is through our Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores. I've given this message to my good friend Andy Brandt, the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and a former cabinet minister in the Bill Davis administration. A good choice, I thought, by the NDP, for chair of the LCBO.

Some of you may have been there at the press conference called by the union to present petitions. My only quarrel with those at the press conference was a quarrel I have from time to time. Having asked many questions in the House, having my colleague the member for Essex South, the Liberal critic in Consumer and Commercial Relations, making statements and asking questions and giving speeches, the president of the union gave all the petitions to a member of the New Democratic Party. My message to those individuals is that they should not be putting all their eggs in one basket. They did that once and some of the eggs got broken.

Mr Preston: The basket got broken.

Mr Bradley: Well, I won't say the basket did; some of the eggs got broken. It's difficult for any party, no matter which party, to be able to live up to every promise when there are difficult economic circumstances.

I simply say to the membership of the LCBO union who might be watching, your president should make sure he works with people from all three political parties when asking these petitions to be presented and not simply work with one political party. That's one lesson that over the last few years some people who have been inclined to support only one party have learned.

When I was a teacher and I was a member of the teachers' federation, even though I was involved in politics, I always advocated to the people in the teachers' federation that they become involved with all three political parties; that their members who wanted to be active in politics may choose a political party and work through that political party, or have no affiliation and simply work for what they believe is the good of education. Largely they have followed that, because they have been critical of any government that's been in power, it seems to me, at some time or other, and some bear the scars of that, I think, from all three political parties in this House. I think that's very wise advice.

Nevertheless, despite where the petitions went, I hope this government will not privatize the LCBO.

This bill, like so many bills, I relate to the tax cut.


I did not get a chance, you'll be pleased to know, to mention video lottery terminals and that municipalities probably will have to end up worrying about video lottery terminals, which will be found in every bar, in every restaurant on every street and in every neighbourhood in all the province of Ontario.

I'm looking forward with anticipation to the comments and suggestions and questions that come from my good friends on all sides of this House. This has been a stimulating debate. I can simply see by the enthusiasm of members of this House that they have been enthralled by this debate to this point and look forward themselves to participating further.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions and comments?

Mr Kormos: I'm always eager to listen to the member for St Catharines in his analysis of this legislation because he's consistent. He understands that the motive behind virtually every bill put before this House is for these Tories to pay off, to piece off, to grease their rich friends in the corporate world.

You know, for the life of me I'm eager to hear what the member for Niagara South is going to tell his folks about how he's going to be unable to save the Port Colborne General Hospital. I'm eager to hear what the member for St Catharines-Brock is going to tell his constituents when they shut down the hospital in his riding. It's his government that's doing it. I'm eager to hear what these people, these Tories, are going to tell their constituents when it comes time to explain how a tax break for the richest justifies this evil, criminal attack on public institutions.

I'm amazed that they would still be in harmony with their Premier on these issues. But when I reflect on the fact that these are the same people who gave themselves a pay increase some short time ago, shortly after being elected, where MPPs at Queen's Park, as a result of the Tories, earn more than they did before the Tories increased the pay for MPPs, this is the caucus that almost inevitably has MPPs -- take a look at the conflict-of-interest statements about how many MPPs in the Tory caucus have other jobs. I think it's interesting to consider how many of these people are merely supplementing their incomes from their law offices, from their businesses, from their group homes, are merely supplementing their base salaries.

I'm interested in hearing from people across Ontario with Tory MPPs who aren't full-time MPPs, who are but padding their own pockets with their MPPs' salaries to supplement the incomes they make from their group homes or from their law offices or from their businesses. I'd like to hear from people in these ridings because I think people in those ridings deserve far better than what they're getting now.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I was pleased to be here today to hear my colleague from St Catharines speak on Bill 86, which is entitled the Better Local Government Act. I would agree with him that there are some provisions in this bill which the municipalities have been asking for that I think are quite positive. There are some other provisions the impact of which I have some concerns about. The suggestions and ideas for changes in how elections will be conducted and for the use of referenda I think are issues that should have been and were debated in this House. It's also important that the municipalities know well in advance what the rules are going to be, so I understand the government's desire to have this legislation in place, because we are expecting a municipal election in November 1997.

What I found most interesting about the comments of Mr Bradley, the member for St Catharines, was his understanding of how the government policies are having an impact on every aspect of the quality of life in our communities and neighbourhoods in the province. A bill that is called the Better Local Government Act gives us and gives him an opportunity to share those concerns with all members of this House and people who are watching this debate. Certainly the government's plan to close hospitals and bring in policies that are having a negative impact on communities right across this province should be fully debated and discussed in this House. I want to compliment the member for St Catharines for a broad, thoughtful debate on an important topic. I think Bill 86 gave him the opportunity to do that.

Ms Lankin: I am pleased to comment on the remarks by the members for Oakwood and St Catharines. They raised important points around this bill and what it purports to be: a better local government bill which streamlines voting procedures and, in the words of the government caucus, "increases access to the democratic process."

But I am at a real loss to understand how the government can justify the contradiction between what it's saying it wants to do in this bill in terms of increasing access and increasing democracy and the approach it's taking with respect to municipal amalgamations. I look very directly at the member for Brampton South, who I know is a very strong proponent of referendum legislation. He's leading the government caucus through a committee process in developing a paper on referendum legislation which the government caucus is saying it supports, citizen-initiated referenda, and that it should be 5% or 10% of the population who can demand and force a referendum. We know that in the polling that's been done in Metro Toronto, 75% of the population is insisting that the provincial government allow the people of the Metropolitan Toronto area to have a say with respect to their local governance. They want a referendum in which they can say whether they want six or four, or one, levels of local government and what it means for accessibility and democracy and their voice in terms of their local level of governance.

I can't understand how the Tory caucus and people like the member for Brampton South can allow the Minister of Municipal Affairs to get away with saying that the question is too complicated, when we know they want to put questions of taxation and constitutional reform to referenda, which surely are as complicated. I say to the government caucus, please let the people of Metro Toronto have a say.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I'd like to comment on a couple of the issues that the member for St Catharines brought forward, regarding crackpot realism and the Ontario wine industry. However, I'll deal with is the issue brought up by the member for Oakwood when he spoke about the Soviet Union and his comparison with our country and our province.

I'll summarize a short story in the time I have. We had a relative who came over from the Soviet Union prior to the breakup, at which time she found it interesting when we gave her an electric blanket to use, something they didn't have there. We made her a gift of the electric blanket and asked her to take it back. First of all, the reason we had only one member of the family was that she was the only member allowed out. You're only allowed one member out. After long debate regarding the electric blanket, we asked, was it the electricity? No, it wasn't the electricity; that wasn't the reason why. She kept saying, "No, I can't accept this." We went on back and forth and finally it came to the point where she said: "You don't understand" -- this is the point I'm trying to get to here in the province -- "The reason I can't accept this electric blanket is because they shut the power off in the town at 10 o'clock."

So to come forward and compare us with a country that shuts off its power at 10 o'clock really upsets me. I think we can be proud to be in the province we are in today.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bradley: I'm replying on behalf of both members. My friend from Oakwood is not in his own seat, so I'll do this.

Thank you to the member for Welland-Thorold for his comments, because he recognizes what is happening in the Niagara Peninsula. I guess the reason he's wondering when the questions will come forward in the House is because he didn't hear, as I didn't hear, any Conservative candidate talk about closing hospitals in the Niagara region. Therefore he is wondering when we're going to hear those questions. So am I.

The member for Oriole alluded a little bit to a point that's important: This government, simply for the reason of ideology and to appear to be doing something, is going to have huge amalgamations of school boards. It may not save them a penny, but it'll look good. You'll be able to say to people: "Look what we've done. We've combined the school boards." If you could save a lot of money and still maintain the local contact, I'd say that's a good idea, because what you really need is that local input into the process of education. But here you are again. Just like regional government, that was going to save a lot of money; well, it didn't save a lot of money and, thank you, we don't want a mega-Metro in Niagara as well.


The member for Beaches-Woodbine makes a good point. Here's a government, when it suits their purposes, some of their members are itching to have a referendum. But then when they say, "We're going to make a major structural change to Metropolitan Toronto," the minister and the Premier say: "No, you can't have a voice in this. We're doing what we want to do."

Last of all, to the member for Oshawa, in comparison of countries I think the member for Oakwood when he mentioned the Soviet Union was talking only in a general sense about the centralizing activities that took place years ago; there was centralization. Certainly he did not want to compare the Soviet Union and Ontario in any other way.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm happy to have the opportunity once again to speak to Bill 86. Before I begin, I would like unanimous consent to be able to share the time with the member for Dovercourt.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Did somebody say no?

Mr Marchese: As I said in second reading of this bill --

The Acting Speaker: Just a moment, please. Is it agreed? Thank you, go ahead.

Mr Marchese: As I said in second reading of this bill, there are a number of useful changes that this government makes with respect to changes to the Municipal Elections Act, some changes that are interesting and some changes around which we have some problems and changes which we objected to that the government has responded to. I want to make mention of that in a brief while.

I did comment that one of the changes they want to make is to allow people to be able to vote by phone and/or Internet, and I did say then, as I say now, that it's an interesting 21st-century idea to get involved in, but I also said then, as I say now, that there are some concerns around that. I'm not sure whether the provincial government is worried about it, but municipal governments will have to worry about how they deal with allowing people to vote by phone or Internet because there is likely to be fraud.

I know some members like to think that it's not likely to happen, but municipal governments, which will have governance over these issues, will have to worry about fraud, because this leaves us open to that. In second reading in the committees, none of the members spoke about that, they didn't raise the issue, they haven't worried about the issue as much as I have raised concerns about it, but they should. Because they're going to pass this on to their municipalities, they need to worry for them and with them as they deal with this.

Interesting thought, interesting, novel idea, but we need to worry and, yes, there are a few computer-literate people that will love the ability to be able to sit at home and turn on the power and just punch it in and boom, it's easy, they don't have to go out in the cold November nights to be able to do that. So for the few of them, it's going to be a nice thing to do, to be able to have that power. But we need to worry. I raise that and I hope they are concerned about it enough to be able to work with the municipalities as they go through this.

I said they're going to make some changes around issues of changing the rules around election recounts. There have been problems in the past around this. It cost some money in some areas where there have been recounts and we agreed that they should look at that. What they have done now is to have a recount and leave that to the municipality when there is a tie vote. We think that's all right. It might save, of course, governments some money, but it will probably cost some individual members a great deal of money if there is a tie vote and they want to take that through the course of natural events and law. Where a city council decides not to have the recount, they have access to the courts, but it will cost them. Some individuals will end up having to pay some money to have that recount.

On the one hand, it saves municipalities some money because they don't have to worry about that any longer, but it will cost individuals, and not all individuals are wealthy people who can afford to take this process through the courts and bring about some remedial action where there has been, in their view, a problem in terms of how the vote might have occurred or how the count happened or some irregularity connected to it, and because not all candidates who run are wealthy, it will be a cost for those individuals who feel they have been undone by it all. So yes, it saves municipalities some money, but it will cause some problems.

On the other hand, they say the government is giving local councils more authority to decide what council members should be called and under what system they should be elected. Whether they should be called "councillors" or "alderman," all of that they leave to the city councils. That's good. They're giving city councils, it appears from this, more authority to be able to deal with issues of what councillors should be called and how they should be elected, and that's good.

On the one hand, that's good; on the other hand, as they give power to municipalities to do certain things like that, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine said when she was here earlier on, in Metropolitan Toronto we not only have not given any authority to city councils, we are eliminating city councils in the metro area. As she had said earlier in her two-moment response to the Liberal members, while they give authority and greater authority to municipal councillors in Metro, they are exterminating councils -- exterminating them. Is that right? So it is a contradiction, on the one hand, to say, "We're giving them more authority," and on the other hand, "We are exterminating the cities and the borough within the metro government." Is that right?

Interjections: No.

Mr Marchese: No, of course not. Is it fair?

Interjections: No.

Mr Marchese: No, of course not. The members on this side agree; I know that. But on the other side they haven't twigged to the fact that there's a contradiction that they've got to deal with between what they have done in the one instance and decided in the other. "Metropolitan government, we need a megacity," says M. Leach. "We need a megacity." Before he got elected, he said, "Do we need a megacity?" and he said no. In fact he argued earlier, "We're going to get rid of metropolitan government and keep the cities." That's what he said then.

Mr Wildman: Power has gone to his head. He has become a megalomaniac.

Mr Marchese: Power corrupts. It corrupts, and it certainly corrupts this minister, because on the one hand before the election he said we should get rid of Metro, but once he got elected power did indeed get into his head and he decided, "Ah, we're going to get rid of the cities."

Mr Kormos: The Tories get into his head, and a Tory in his bed.

Mr Marchese: Tory. There's an interesting connection here between "Tory" as in Tory party, and Tory, the minister's dog.

Mr Kormos: And his party is a dog.

Mr Marchese: I make no connection of that kind, no. It's just an interesting name that the dog --

Mr Colle: Back to megalomania.

Mr Marchese: But back to the metropolitan government versus city governments. So what does he decide to do for Metropolitan Toronto? Imagine, it would be a big megacity comprising 2.3 million, and M. Leach says, "That's okay to amalgamate" --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, could you refer to the minister by his riding. Don't call him by name. The rules stipulate you do that.

Mr Kormos: The minister of megalomania.

Mr Marchese: Minister Leach?

The Acting Speaker: Minister for Municipal Affairs.

Mr Marchese: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing? I appreciate that, Madam Speaker.

Mr Wildman: Or you could say the owner of Tory.

Mr Marchese: That would not probably be appropriate, given what the Speaker is saying. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Continue, member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: So in this instance, he says, "We think it's appropriate to have a big megacity comprising 2.3 million." That's one big, big political animal that we're dealing with here, but he says that's all right. Everywhere else he has told every municipality, "Deal with the issues of overlap, deal with the issues of inefficiency," but in Metropolitan Toronto he doesn't want to hear about all of that. What does he say about Metropolitan Toronto? He says, "Well, good God, we have thousands of reports." There are at least 64 of which he's aware. Then we say to him, "Yes, but Minister of Municipal Affairs, have you read them?" We don't think he's read them, because had he read them, he probably would have reached a different conclusion.


We wonder whether or not he's referred to any study that he might have read. Somebody might have talked to him about those studies. Why do we wonder, and why do I wonder in particular? Because Mr Leach has hired a firm to find megacity savings. He's hired another person, body, company, to do him another study to help the guy out. On the one hand he says, "We have 64 studies and we've had enough and we prefer the one megacity," but the poor man, this poor government, needs yet another study. They're hiring another individual to help him out, to have something concrete so that he can say, "Here we have now, most recently, a study that talks about why we need one megacity." He needs one more study.

On the one hand he says: "We've had enough studies. We've had too many, 64 plus Golden. We've had enough." That's why our leader today asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs: "You are commissioning yet another study. How much will that cost? We want to know. Will you give that to us?" Of course he didn't answer it; he doesn't answer those types of questions. But that's why we asked him again, "If you think you've had enough studies, why do you need yet one more?"

One of the few studies that he has referred to is a study done by the metropolitan government which studied only two major components of the metropolitan government comprising 45% of the costs. Everything else he didn't touch. Of that 45% of the cost, the two main components which he studied, he did not verify those figures with city officials. We think that study is flawed.

Now, we believe that the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mr Leach, understands this and knows that he's got nothing in his hands to go out and say, "We think there are savings here." So he commissions yet another study. But all the studies we have done have shown and continue to show there are not going to be any savings.

We have to wonder about the politics of all of this, and the politics of all of this are that originally this government realized that the people around the outside of the Metropolitan Toronto area support this government very strongly and they had some serious concerns about what might happen outside of that area. They thought, "Let's not touch the 905; let's just deal with Metro and let's get rid of the cities and keep the Metropolitan government because that will be good for us." That's what I think is behind the politics of what we have in front of us.

I also believe the reason they want one megacity is to allow this new government to privatize more and more services. Why? Because this government is going to dump a lot more on Metropolitan Toronto. Because he's going to do that, he believes and this government believes that by dumping more on Metropolitan Toronto it will be forced to privatize services because metropolitan government will need more money to compensate for the cuts that this provincial government is about to inflict on Metropolitan Toronto.

It will be easier to deal with one megacity because, by and large, people in this metropolitan government are Conservative members like them. That's why. They are dominated in Metro by Conservatives and Liberals; yes, there are a few NDPers on that council, but it's people like them. So I suspect a number of the Metro councillors said: "Minister of Municipal Affairs, you're doing a good job. Tell us what you need, tell us what you want cut and we're going to do it for you." I believe they think it's going to be easier to deal with one city because of that than to deal with six cities and I believe the development corporations probably went around and said to Mr Leach, our Minister of Municipal Affairs: "We think it's easier to deal with one municipality in terms of things that we need and want than to have to go to the city of Toronto and Etobicoke and North York and Scarborough and East York, so please do us development people a favour. Get rid of all these cities that are giving us a hard time."

Mr Kormos: "You owe it to us."

Mr Marchese: They owe it to them, indeed, and so they're willing to oblige. Like the development charges: The Urban Development Institute, known as the UDI, went to Mr Leach and said: "Minister, these development charges are just too onerous on us. If you want us to build housing, you've got to get rid of rent control, you've got to get rid of development charges. We'll talk to you later about other things we want you to do, but right now please take out the development charges because if you do that, we're going to build some housing for you."

But you know what the UDI, the Urban Development Institute, doesn't tell him? They're not going to build affordable housing. It's not for those modest-income people. They're going to build at the high end, for the upper middle classes. That's who they're going to build for. These development people, to whom Tories owe a lot, said, "Come, Minister, please do us a favour so we can build," so they can build more profitable housing for the upper-income people who will give these development people a lot more money in return.

Mr Leach said, "That's fine, we're going to do it for you." Did he go and consult with the Mississauga mayor? You know her name.

Mr Kormos: Hazel McCallion.

Mr Marchese: That is she. Do you think they went to consult with Hazel McCallion in advance of this? No. That's where they got into trouble. Hazel got angry and said: "What are you doing? We're going to stop all development as a result. Sorry, you didn't consult us. You consulted the UDI, the Urban Development Institute, and not us, so we're going to stop all development because you didn't consult me, your Tory friend. You went to the other rich boys, but you didn't consult me." So Hazel said, "Sorry, development is going to stop in Mississauga." What did Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, do? I just read it today. He said, "Okay, Hazel." He probably gave her a call: "I know you're upset. We're going to try to work out some changes as we deal with the development charges so that you municipalities will have a little more say about this."

Hazel said: "Okay, all right, we'll see. We'll talk about it. We need to see the changes first before I agree to it." What did they do? They quieted her down for a little bit. They know they've got to keep Hazel quiet because Hazel can be a pretty tough person. She can. She was tough with us. I remember my friend here saying that last night. Maybe not my friend, but maybe someone else. It could have been a Liberal. It could have been Jim who said that Hazel is a good friend of the Tories and she was upset and so on.

In any case, you guys are listening to the wrong people and you're getting into trouble. Not the wrong people; you're listening to your wealthy development friends. You've done that and that's why you moved to get some of those development charges out of the way. But you made a mistake. The reason you made a mistake is because you didn't consult Hazel, who's a good Tory, and you did not consult your other good friends in that 905 area. They were all angry and even Vaughan said, "We're not building."

All of a sudden you guys over there realized, "We made a mistake. We should not just listen to our wealthy development corporation friends. We should be listening to people like Hazel and other little Tories around that little belt," because otherwise you're in trouble.

We have a problem around this whole issue where you decided to give more power to municipalities but in Metropolitan Toronto, where it counts for us, you've decided that you were going to let your back-door friends do some of the dirty work for you: Mr Crombie, with that Who Does What panel. I've got all the pictures of all those friends of yours in that panel. I've got pictures of them all. I'll find them eventually; they're in my file. They are the backroom boys and women in that panel.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Try this one.

Mr Marchese: Something like that, yes, very much similar to this.

The Acting Speaker: Okay, member for Fort York. You know you're not supposed to do that.

Mr Marchese: What upsets me is this: They talk about allowing a referendum to happen in between elections and no longer having to go to the Ontario Municipal Board. Now remember this: We went through this already. They want referendums. Tories love referendums. Reform-minded politicians love referendums. We know that. That is why they are in the course of introducing legislation that will permit referendums to happen.

We thought, "This is interesting; Tories love referendums," so we asked Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who owns a dog called Tory, "Will you have a referendum on this megacity?" We believe it is of utmost importance that if you're going to amalgamate so many cities, comprising 2.3 million, that it is of utter seriousness that it will require to have consultations with the folks out there in those cities -- a referendum.

Our leader asked Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, "Should we have a referendum?" because Toronto had a referendum in the last municipal election and they said: "No, we love our city. If anything, get rid of metropolitan government." I don't advocate for that, but that's what happened in that referendum. So our leader asked the minister, "Will you have a referendum in the city of Toronto and all the other cities?" and the minister said, "Oh, no, we can't have referendums on issues like that, because it's too simplistic. It would simply be wrong to have a referendum where people are answering yes or no to the question."

But that's what Tories love; they love referendums of that kind. While on the one hand they say they want referendums and they're about to introduce legislation in that regard, in this regard they say, "This is a complicated matter, this megacity stuff, and we want people to reflect on it. If we asked them, `Do you want a metro government or six cities?' it would be too simplistic."

It befuddles my mind when he speaks that way. It should confound him, to contradict himself so clearly. But I notice every time we go through this that they seem to live with contradictions so comfortably and cosily. They live with that, and I notice how they answer questions with such a straight face. Sometimes they say things that are not entirely truthful with a straight face, and I say, how do they do that?

Mr Kormos: Ah, mendacity.

Mr Marchese: Sometimes mendacity is the rule of law around here. On the issue of referendum, it's contradicted by what they say. Municipalities and elected boards will have the right to place referendum items on municipal ballots without reference to the Ontario Municipal Board. That's what it says. They rejected this just a very short while ago. On the one hand they want to help out municipalities and boards of education and other utilities; on the other hand we're not quite sure why they've refused our simple request to hold a referendum on a very serious matter that will involve 2.3 million people. How do they do that without public hearings, without input, without debate? They call this leadership. Mr Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, says, "Sometimes you've got to lead." That's what they say. "Sometimes you've got to take the bull by the horns and lead." I find it difficult for the minister to be contradictory in the way that he is.

Another contradiction I want to speak to: David Crombie recommended eliminating the regional governments in the 905 area. He wants to replace them with a GTA coordinating body. What we know is that this government, particularly the minister, wants to whip through this megacity plan in Metro. We know you agree with his plan to nominate a greater Toronto area czar to recommend amalgamations, but we say what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. We want to ask the minister, "Do you support megacities in each of the 905 regions?"

Hon Mr Sampson: That's not the way it works.

Mr Marchese: His answer is, "No, we don't." We argue you're willing to shove your megacity down the throats of the people of Toronto and other cities, but when you get into the Tory heartland and outside Metropolitan Toronto, democracy is apparently more important to you guys. Outside Metro you want to make sure you're democratic and that you're listening to them, so you're going to hold off on amalgamating out there. Mr Leach says, "They need more time." Is that right? Well, in Metro we need more time, but he says, "Oh, no, Metro, you don't need more time." Why? Because he seems to care a lot less about Metro than he cares about the 905 area, where democracy is much more important to Mr Leach and company. He wants to discuss and debate this important issue out there, but he doesn't want to discuss and debate it over here in downtown Toronto, right here where Queen's Park is sitting, right in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Mr Kormos: How can that be?

Mr Marchese: How could it be, you ask. It's a question I ask all the time. Intelligent people, middle class and professional, in downtown Toronto are asking the same question: How could it be? Who are they listening to? What is the politics behind all of this? Is there a comprehensible argument that they've made? I say no.

We've asked the minister: "What is your argument? Prove that there are savings." The only proof they have, that they claim to have in the reference they make, is that metropolitan study that I referred to earlier which shows clearly they've only studied two small components and they didn't verify those figures with city officials. That's all they've got. That is their argument. They say, "Oh, we'll save big bucks." We said to them, "Prove it." Because they can't prove it, they are commissioning another study. We said: "Why are you doing that? You said you've got 64 studies already. Why do you need one more?"

Hon Mr Sampson: You said we have to do that, though.

Mr Marchese: I said you have to do that?

Hon Mr Sampson: That's what you said.

Mr Marchese: No, no, I beg your pardon. I didn't say that. I said you guys said that you were saying that.


Mr Marchese: What would be consistent?

Hon Mr Sampson: You said it first.

Mr Marchese: You see? The Tories are utterly confounded.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: Befuddled completely. That fellow who is the minister without a portfolio is confounded completely.

Hon Mr Sampson: It's right here. It's a big one.

Mr Marchese: Oh, he's got a portfolio and it's a heavy portfolio. He should be a minister, because it's heavier than the minister's bag. He's got a bag with him. Cameras, please, focus in on that bag. Please, show it again.


The Acting Speaker: Come to order, please. Everybody's having a good time, but this is a serious debate. Everybody calm down. Order, please.

Mr Marchese: They are tinkering with little things in this bill. One of the parliamentary assistants talks about how great it is and how big, and I want to get to some of these in a little while. They are fiddling around with the changes to the Municipal Act and there are major things going on around us. I was referring to a number of these things yesterday and I want to get to them again today, because they are so critical. I want to get to these articles because they speak to the reality the people are facing out there as they fiddle with the changes to the Municipal Act, tinkering.

"Poverty Climbing as Times Improve." Imagine that. The times are improving and poverty is climbing. How is that, Tories? Explain yourselves, and explain that to the people. Child poverty has gone up.


"Some facts about the poor." I want to read that to you because that's the reality the people face as all of you are smug in your seats talking about how proud you are of your achievements. As you sit smugly, reflecting on your achievements, minister with the big bag, listen to some of these facts.

"Some facts about the poor: One in three children in Metro lives on welfare," twice the 1989 rate. Almost half of all food bank users are children, up from 43,000 last year to 70,000 this year under your wonderful stewardship. As you sit smugly reflecting on your achievements, think of that.

The number of children living in Metro emergency shelters has jumped more than two thirds in the past five years. Canada has the second-highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world, 20% or 1.4 million. Reflect on these achievements, Tories, as you gloat about what you are doing.

"Hospital Cuts Threaten 15,000 Nurses." As you gloat about your wonderful desire to cut hospitals, 15 probably in Metropolitan Toronto, and that's coming soon, 15,000 nurses are threatened, says this report.

"There's more tinkering that can be done with the system," says one person. "There's no more tinkering that can be done with the system," says the Ontario Nurses' Association. Think about that as you sit smugly on the other side.


Mr Marchese: Reflect on this as you are babbling.

"Jobless Rate Stuck at 10%." The jobless rate stuck at 10% under your leadership, and the minister of industry and trade is right here. Under his leadership and under the leadership of M. Harris, the Premier, the jobless rate is stuck at 10%. Reflect on that as you gloat about what you are doing.

This is another interesting article: "Casualties of the Low-Wage War." As you attempt to harmonize wages downward, as you're forcing wages down -- oh, please, that's what you're doing; you're doing that every day as you privatize services, as you fire people day in and day out; casualties of the low-wage war.

"We're in a race to the bottom," says one individual. "We've got more and more people putting in more and more hours for less money and less benefits."

You look puzzled as I read these, I know, because you're so surrounded by your own mischief and malodorous policies that you can't see beyond that bad odour. Malodorous. It's toxic, and I feel it daily in this assembly. I felt it today. We were wondering in the House today what that malodorous smell was all about, and the Speaker was saying, "Don't worry about it." I'm not sure what he said it was.


The Acting Speaker: What was that, member for Fort York?

Mr Marchese: Nothing, Madam Speaker. I was just talking about the previous speaker who was sitting here during the question period.

"Downsizing of Our Cities" is another article. It's impressive. There have been cuts to all of our municipalities in the magnitude of 43% last year and this year. This catalogues very intelligently and clearly the types of cuts this government is waging against municipalities.

Mr Kormos: Who wrote that?

Mr Marchese: I dare not say. Toronto Star. They might say it's a Liberal paper, and that wouldn't be nice.

There are a lot of casualties that we're leaving behind. With 43% cuts to the municipalities, imagine all the services that have to be cut; they're of great magnitude. Derwyn Shea was a former Metro councillor, and I think he was a city councillor for a long while as well, or both.

The Acting Speaker: The member for High Park-Swansea.

Mr Marchese: I beg your pardon, Madam Speaker. He knows that these cuts are of such magnitude that they will affect services. People are going to pay more and more for everything that they want and need -- not want necessarily, but need. In the past, we might have talked about what we wanted; today we're talking about what we need. This government is slowly clawing us all down.

Oh, here's that team. Do you remember that I was talking about the Who Does What panel? They're all here. I've got them here.

Mr Colle: All Tories.

Mr Marchese: By and large good Tories.

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): Not Tories. Terry Cooke.

Mr Marchese: They're not Tories?

Mr Skarica: Terry Cooke is not a Tory.

Mr Marchese: By and large, they're all Tories. I challenge any member to tell us who else is not a Tory in this list, and they're all here. These are the backroom boys and women making decisions for us all. They unveil this malodorous onion day by day, week by week. We expect January 13 for this onion to be completely unveiled, malodorously, January 13 when this government resumes again. With the toxins that will leach out -- Leach out -- of this room on January 13, we shall see things that we have not dreamed of yet. Al Leach, the province's minister for mega-issues, there you go.

We have other things here. Another article: "Need for Hostels Soaring." It says that Metro shelters for homeless men are experiencing unprecedented demand. This month, 1,300 men are occupying shelters nightly, an increase of more than 20% over the last year.

As they tinker with the system of municipal affairs, we're dealing with people who are dying in the streets, homeless who are dying in the streets.

I see this article that speaks about the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It says, "Leach figures his fluffy pooch's illness and misadventures have cost him about $10,000." Think of that. I'm heartbroken; $10,000 for Tory, the wonderful, loyal lapdog. Come on.


Mr Marchese: It's sad. Why do I talk about the need for hostels? Why do I talk about seniors, which is coming up, and child poverty, which I've already raised in another article? We talk about the number of poor seniors on the rise. Why do I talk about these things? That's the reality out there. The reality is that there's a great deal of poverty and we're talking about Mr Leach spending $10,000 for a loyal lapdog, no doubt, but people have got to wonder about that. People are wondering about that.

"Because of the cuts to social assistance, emergency shelters and legal aid, women are being forced to choose between their personal safety and feeding their children." It is depressing to talk about these things, but we need to reflect on this reality that exists out there, because in here, by and large, we are all well-to-do, and I suspect the Tories are really well-to-do. The Minister of Municipal Affairs appears to be a lot more well-to-do than me and others.


Mr Marchese: They say: "Come on, is it right? Is it fair?" As you inflict these things on to the general population, children, women, seniors, people with disabilities, you say we are being unfair perhaps?


Mr Marchese: I am happy to hear from the other side. Sometimes I don't hear them very well.


This is what's happening. Here is another article that talks about "RRSP plans take beating, survey shows." What does that mean? It means people who put aside money for their future because they're worried -- I'd be worried with this government. I'm terribly worried now about what's going to happen to me and my children. My children are likely to face a very bleak future, where the job opportunities are going to be very, very minimal. I see it now. I see young people with degrees, honours BAs, MAs and PhDs, unable to find a job. What do they seek out? The mini-jobs, the jobettes this government is creating. Do you think I exaggerate? I'm not exaggerating.

People are taking money out of their RRSPs and they're worried. I forgot to underline how many millions of dollars are coming out of their plans. But can you think of that? These are savings that one puts away for the future, but people are taking their money out now. Why? Because this government is cutting jobs by the thousands. They have unemployed many able people, and disabled people; not only have done so, but continue to lay off, they say, up to 15,000. We believe it's going to be in the magnitude of 24,000 by the end of this evil empire of theirs.

Some 20,000, 25,000 jobs will have disappeared in their wonderful stewardship, but as they cut billions and billions more, municipalities are cutting; all these things that these fine gentlemen smile at every day. I am in contact with a lot of different people from the various cities, metropolitan governments, staff people who are at this very moment deciding who to fire. As the government says, "The metropolitan government is getting so many millions of dollars less," people dealing with seniors and the metropolitan housing company, as a little example, are contemplating how to deal with yet another $3-million cut. For them it's percentages, but these other people who have to make these necessary cuts, they're dealing with people; they're dealing with human lives. The next day, they say to themselves, "How do we make the decision about whom to let go?" So as they smile out there on the other side, these fine Tory men and women, reflecting on their accomplishments, they are forgetting the poverty that's going on around them and they are forgetting the countless people who are being fired.

I know Mr Shea here, who is talking in front of me, is reflecting on that. He's reflecting on that as I speak right now.

Mr Shea: I'm trying to get closer to you. That's what I'm trying to do.

Mr Marchese: Perhaps he's not reflecting, because he's still speaking as I speak, but I'm sure as a minister he worries for the little people -- "minister" meaning minister of the cloth. He worries for seniors who are getting poorer, children who are worried and --

Mr Shea: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Can I suggest that the member keep to the presentation of the topic that's before us? Much as I appreciate references to everybody's occupations in other settings, I'd like him to really keep germane and crystal clear on the issue. Or if he's getting tired, perhaps he'd like to give his time to me. I'd be very happy to start interventions on his behalf right now.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you very much. I remind the member for Fort York to speak to the bill.

Mr Marchese: How could you speak on any bill in isolation of what's surrounding us? It would be completely foolish. It would be completely foolish to say, "Speaker, force the member to blindly talk about the bill that's before him and not dare venture out into the larger picture."

The fine gentleman who spoke before me does not want me to talk about the larger picture, the decimation that's going on around us. He would prefer the public watching not to listen to the fact that poverty for seniors is rising, that poverty for children is rising, that people who are abused don't have a place to go, and they want me to stick to the topic.

I want to get on to education, because the Minister of Education is here now, but before I do that, I want to talk about the fact that the banks, as poverty surrounds us, have made record profits. Most of them have now made over $1 billion. They're happy as -- they're happy folks. I was going to give an image that would probably be inappropriate. They're happy.

Brokers, it says here on this front page, rake it in. Imagine that. Bankers make $1.3 billion using our money that you invest and then they say, "Oh, we're only responsible to the private shareholder." What about the 90% of us who deposit money in the banks? Imagine, we charter six banks. We, the government, the people of Canada, give a charter to six banks to make money and then they say, "We are responsible to our private shareholders." That's what they say. The brokers rake it in and the banks rake it in and we have unemployment at 10%. We have wages going down and we have poverty for seniors going up. We have a complete disregard by this government for people with disabilities, a complete disregard for the issues we dealt with, like employment equity, to deal with people we felt were treated unfairly. They have taken $600,000 from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. It gives you a sense of what they care about. Basic human rights.

Remarks in Italian.

Mr Marchese: We have this contrast between wealthy individuals in society -- banks and brokers -- making it big, and these fine people support all of that. They say, "This is good for us." I say, if this is all good, why is unemployment where it is, at 10%? If you guys said, "Vote for us and the jobs will roll in and roll down like the waters from those big mountains" -- that's what you said you would do. The jobs would flow like the waters from the mountain. They're not flowing anywhere.

Mr Kormos: Trickle down.

Mr Marchese: They're trickling down. Right to the bottom is where they're trickling down. But under your stewardship, we were supposed to have prosperity. You said to us, "Elect us and we're going to open the doors to development and jobs will roll in." Lo and behold, they come, and we have higher unemployment. How do you figure that? How do you explain that? Unemployment is up, wages are down, people are unemployed.

This government is firing Liberals. Let's not talk about Liberals and their cousins at the federal level, because they fired 40,000 people. They said: "We're not going to focus on the deficit. Oh no, we're not going to do what Mulroney did. We're going to tackle the jobs issue. Vote for us." Poor, hapless Liberals. You, like them, said very much the same thing. You're completely mesmerized by the deficit, and at the same time you said, "As we deal with that, the jobs will roll in, will flow like the waters from the mountain," and they're not flowing anywhere. We've got a big, jobless community in our country.

So what do we have? We have this government tinkering with some changes to the Municipal Act. I want to be polite a touch, and respectful, because sometimes you have to do that. I want to recognize the fact that this government has acknowledged something that we said was offensive to us and many other people, and that was around the community transportation action plan.

We were very worried because the minister was giving unto himself powers to negotiate with anyone -- anyone -- to do anything that he and whoever he appointed would do around issues of transportation. We were worried about that. We said: "M. Leach, that is a power that is very much like Bill 26 and it's draconian. We're afraid of you abusing that power because you've abused it in so many other instances, as so many of your ministers have." We didn't like it and we knew other people didn't like it, so we had the Minister of Transportation agree to take it out.

I want to acknowledge that, because from time to time governments listen. They may have listened for the wrong reasons. It's possible. They may have said, "If we go ahead with this it will, who knows, incite the public, the opposition, and we don't want to worry about that so we'll introduce it some other time." So they decided to take that out.


I want to acknowledge it publicly, because I don't want to give the impression to the public that we are always negative in opposition. That's what we have to do. We have to be the party by and large that is vigilant against government, this particular government, which, as I said, needs to be watched very carefully because we have seen the power of omnipotence overtake some of these fellows. We have seen Soviet-like powers being exercised and we need to worry about that kind of thing.

So we thank him for doing that. They didn't take out, however, the issues of liability. In fact what they have done is to give municipalities some help through relief from liability for nuisances in regard to sewer and water systems, and they have kept that. They didn't listen to us in this regard. But, you see, they can't. If they listened to us in this regard they'd have a problem because they're trying to download on municipal government, and as they download, they've got to give them more powers to be able to deal with the offloading from the province. In this regard they said to the municipalities: "You, municipality, no longer have to worry if there's a sewer backup. The poor homeowner will have to pay for that." That's what's happening. The poor homeowner is now going to have to pay when they suffer a sewer backup into their home, putting more of the cost --


Mr Marchese: Yes, that's what's going to happen, putting more of the cost on to the homeowner, relieving the municipality of that cost. This government says, "Well, that's okay." I say it's not okay. I say that people are now going to face greater costs than they should, and I believe that to be a problem. I believe it to be a problem because we are helping. We would be helping this government by supporting this as they do their next malodorous acts against the public of Metropolitan Toronto.

What do I mean by that? Well, we know and have heard that the government is looking at disentanglement, which means they want to be able to get away from a number of things they are paying and to shift those responsibilities on to municipal governments. We hear they're considering making municipalities more responsible for welfare, child care, public health and even public housing, including cooperative and non-profit housing. Why do we think they want to do that? Because they have announced that they're likely to take the education portion that comes from the property tax out of the homeowner tax, and that constitutes about $3 billion or $4 billion. They may be contemplating replacing that money with an income tax system from general revenues. Well, they can't do that because this government has promised not to increase income taxes.

This is not farfetched at all. We're talking reality here. They cannot increase income taxes because that so-called taxpayer, the one who supports this government, would not tolerate an income tax increase. So what are they going to do? In my opinion, what they're likely to do is not to substitute the property tax portion with a general income tax portion. They're going to download a lot of those costs on to the municipalities. We're talking about things like child care, welfare, public health and housing: cooperative, non-profit and public housing. They are contemplating these measures.

We are worried that they would be shifting these responsibilities down to the municipal government. If I were they, I would be indicating quickly to this government that they will not stand for it, that if this government does that, they will threaten legal action and other possible actions against this government. Because this government might say, "Well, you are creatures of this government and we're going to force you to accept it." If that were the case, my view is that the municipalities would have to fight back. As seniors get older, they require more health care. Child care needs never are lessened, welfare needs are generally not lessened, and housing needs are generally not lessened. The municipality would incur tremendous costs to do that, so why would municipalities agree to this type of disentanglement that would get them into a whole lot of trouble? Those are social needs that will not disappear, and in order to meet those needs they would either have to reduce the services that are provided to people or increase property taxes.

We all know that municipal governments are very wary about increasing taxes because people get upset when their taxes go up. So what's likely to happen is that people would face more cuts to their services. That is my worry. That is my worry as this government contemplates relief from liability for nuisances. My concern is that as they give some governments these types of tools, they will use those tools, as they are downloaded on with these new responsibilities, to deal with those new responsibilities. I argue that services will be cut back.

We then have the issue of education. I have argued, connected to what I just said, that even if they were to go to pooling, which some people argue as a different way to go, pooling presents different kinds of problems. That is to say you would pool all of the residential, commercial and industrial taxes and then redistribute them accordingly throughout the province. If they were to do that, I would be equally worried because two things would happen: Municipalities like Metropolitan Toronto would lose a great deal of authority to be able to manage their own needs, but in addition what would happen is that they would lose a whole lot of money that in fact would not be redistributed to those other regions across Ontario.

So everybody would lose, but particularly those areas like ours that have had the money to put back into English as a second language; to put back into our concurrent programs like our black concurrent educational programs; to put back into third languages, our international languages; to put back into our alternative schools; to put back into our inner-city needs. We would lose all of that. Pooling would take money away and it would never come back to the city of Toronto and to other cities in Metropolitan Toronto. So I am terribly, terribly worried about what this government is doing.

As a brief summary before I let my friend from Dovercourt speak, as we tinker with some of these municipal issues, you fine Tory members have to reflect on the kinds of things you are doing with your cuts, with your income tax cut that's going to hurt a whole lot of low-income people and benefit the wealthy. You're leaving a whole trail of unemployed, a whole trail of seniors who are becoming poorer, children who are becoming poorer, people who suffer different abuses without the services to help them out, and people who are losing their incomes. When they're not losing their jobs, they're losing more and more of their incomes, forcing greater and greater problems on people.

Reflect on the fact that as you get rid of rent control, you will impoverish more and more people. Reflect on the fact that your 21% cut on social assistance people, people who have low incomes, has made a lot of poorer individuals in society, particularly children, and you have forced a lot of evictions of those individuals who would have been able to afford their place, the home where they were, but are being forced out because they cannot any longer afford to stay where they're at. You are responsible for all of that. You who speak about your wonderful stewardship of prosperity are leaving behind a legacy of poverty from which we will never, ever recover.


If you don't reflect on that, the communities that elect you need to reflect on that. I urge them, the ones who are watching, to write the ministers and the MPPs and mark the envelope "Private and Confidential" so it gets into the hands of Mr Leach, Mr Snobelen and Mr Saunderson, it gets into their own private hands so they see for themselves what you have to say. If you don't write a note saying "Private and Confidential," it will disappear in that wonderful bureaucracy which will never have a U-turn back to the office of either the minister or the MPP. I urge you, if you think you've had enough of this government, to write them a letter saying to them what you disagree with, their malodorous policies and how they're hurting you, and send us a copy so we know you have done that and that you share our ideas. I urge you to do that because it requires this kind of action to prevent further damage that is being inflicted on all of us in this province.

With that, Mr Speaker, I thank you and I'm looking forward to the responses.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm glad to have the chance to round out this portion of the debate. I want to just say at the outset, having worked with my colleague the member for Fort York for a number of years, not just here at Queen's Park but on the school board in Toronto, I note with great interest that his persistence is still there, his tenacity is still there, and his delivery continues to get more and more colourful with each presentation that he makes.

Interjection: Especially in Italian.

Mr Silipo: Especially in a couple of other languages, not all of them ones that are acceptable according to the rules in this House.

I'm delighted to have a chance to speak to this bill. It's significant that we are having this debate on the last of the midnight sittings for this part of the sittings but yet on the eve of the extension of these sittings going into next week and then, in what has got to be at least a new twist to the rules, if not complete newness to the rules -- I'm not, Mr Speaker, trying to challenge the ruling that you made the other day -- in effect as we come back in the middle of January to what will be the beginning of the spring session, if you can fathom that: January 13, the beginning of the spring session.

Mr Wildman: Closer to the solstice than the equinox.

Mr Silipo: Absolutely.

I want to begin by making some very specific references to the bill that's in front of us tonight and also, as my colleague has done, set this in the broader context of what is happening in municipal restructuring. In Bill 86 -- a bill, by the way, which the government purports to call An Act to provide for better local government by updating and streamlining the Municipal Elections Act, the Municipal Act and related statutes. Better local government we are getting to a small degree in some of the changes that are being made, but "Better Local Government" is anything but what I would have called this bill. But then we know that one of the things we are seeing constantly from this government is an amazing ability to infuse a lot of fiction into the writing of titles of the bills we see in front of us.

Having said that, let me say that there are a couple of provisions in this bill that I actually think make good sense, even common sense, as the members opposite like to use. I think, for example, that the requirement, as is one of the provisions of this bill, that there no longer be a specific municipal enumeration is a good thing because as we move towards a permanent voters' list, it makes sense. It's certainly something I personally have been advocating for a number of years, and I believe it makes a lot of sense in terms of dealing with ongoing elections, be they provincial or municipal, and maybe one day even linking it with the federal and indeed going on from there.

I believe, for example, that the provision in here of allowing municipalities to hold referenda without having to go begging to the Ontario Municipal Board for permission is also a very useful thing. It shows a kind of acknowledgement of a certain maturity within the municipal sphere that we should uphold.

I'm sure there are a number of other minor changes in here that I could go through and agree with, but I also find myself very quickly confronted by ongoing contradictions that I see this government day after day bringing to the Legislature and to their policy-making as I look at some of the other provisions in this bill, which may not seem to be that major in the whole context but which I believe are quite significant and major. I want to talk about a few of those.

I don't believe that requiring somebody who runs for municipal office to file a deposit with their nomination is a sensible thing. This is the government that talks about wanting to encourage democracy, encourage people to be participants in this process through referenda, through other means, and I want to talk specifically about referenda a little bit later on.

I don't buy the notion, particularly at the municipal level, of having somebody put in a deposit to be able to run. The minister says that conceivably it will only be a nominal amount, that if the person who's running gets a certain proportion of the vote they'll get that back, just like what happens at the provincial or federal level. I think there is something about municipal elections which we need to try to maintain. I would apply that same principle to the provincial and the federal levels. But at least at the municipal level we should not put one more roadblock in the way of someone who wants to run for public office, and we should be prepared to say that if someone wants to run -- that, after all, is the heart of our democratic process -- they should be able to run. If this is supposed to eliminate the more colourful figures who tend to run for office and maybe end up with a handful of votes at the end of the day, I say let them run. That enriches the process. We don't have to figure out ways to exclude them from the process, which is what I think that provision is trying to do.

Where I begin to have greater problems than that, as I look at the provisions of this bill, is in some of the more significant changes that are being made. One of them, I gather, was actually turned around in the process of this bill going through committee, and that was dealing with the issue of election campaign contributions. The original draft of this bill put a cap on how much money a single contributor could contribute to candidates running for office on any one council or local board in an election, and that was $5,000. Lo and behold, that ceiling has disappeared because the government in committee, I gather, moved an amendment that eliminated that. "What's the significance of that?" you might say. I look around at who makes donations to municipal candidates, and certainly it's the average citizen. But average citizens, whether they're homemakers, school teachers, factory workers, or injured workers for that matter, are not going to be in a situation where they will have the luxury or the ability to even contemplate donations of this kind.

What's this amendment all about? This legislation is saying there will be no cap on how much people can spend, that if they can afford to spend more than $5,000, $6,000, $10,000 to pump into municipal candidates' elections, they'll be able to do that. That, I think, is wrong.

When I think of the municipal level, "developers" is one word that comes to mind as one category of people who maybe will be able to afford those kinds of donations. While I make no categorical denunciations of any group of people, I believe that indicates right then and there what this government is all about: It continues to make life easier for those who can well afford it and it continues to make life harder for those who can least afford it. Even here, in a basic restructuring of the rules of municipal elections, we see that principle right up front by this government.


I want to talk about another aspect of this where I see an interesting contradiction. I was interested in hearing the parliamentary assistant's opening comments on third reading of this bill. One of the things I heard him say was that the government, in this legislation, is interested in protecting the privacy of citizens.

One of the examples he gave to support that notion was that we would not be posting voters' lists in various public places, which I happen to agree with. But why is the government so concerned, or says it's so concerned, about on one hand protecting the privacy of individuals when it comes to something as simple as this and yet it has no problem trouncing on the privacy rights of Dr Hughes?

Remember Dr Hughes? He's the doctor whom the communications assistant in the former Minister of Health's office tried to intimidate by releasing to a reporter his private and personal records about how much money he was billing OHIP.

Where is the principle? Is the principle to protect the privacy of individuals? Is that a principle that holds or is it a principle that applies only when it's convenient for the government of the day, when it's convenient for this Tory government in particular?

Then they continue to just trounce away on that when it suits their political agenda, unless of course there then are occasions, such as in the Minister of Health's case, where they get caught. Then we have the now Minister of Health and the Premier continuing to run around in circles, still trying to prevent a full and open public inquiry into the mess that they've created.

I look forward with great interest to the days ahead, to the sittings in January, because we'll have lots more occasions to continue to pursue our questions on that and make sure the Premier and the government, the Harris government, understand that they have a responsibility, particularly if they want to continue talking about believing and protecting the privacy of individuals, that they can't trounce on them when it's to their convenience.

Another piece in this legislation is that it allows greater latitude with respect to municipalities holding referenda. Here again we see another incredible contradiction, because the government that's running around saying, "We're giving municipalities greater flexibility around when they want to hold referenda," is the same government that's coming through the Legislative Assembly committee with some ideas and proposals about how to expand the use of referenda, not just from the government's end but indeed allowing citizen-initiated referenda. I think this concept is a good one in terms of something that can be encouraged, again understanding that referenda should not be used on a weekly basis but should be used for certain important issues and deal with certain important questions that the public has a right and an obligation to voice its opinion on.

Here again, we see the incredible contradiction this government lives through every day. While they believe there are certain cases when referenda should be warranted, when it suits their purposes, they also continue to stonewall the request that's come from various municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto, from citizens right across Metropolitan Toronto, from people who want to have a say in how the future governance of the biggest metropolis in Canada, let alone in this province, is to be determined.

Somehow the Minister of Municipal Affairs says to us, "That issue is just too complex to put out to people." I want to suggest to the minister, with all due respect, that if he manages to understand this issue, let me tell you, the average voter out there will more than understand this issue. I have every confidence in the average voter in Metropolitan Toronto understanding and voting on a question as straightforward as: "Do you agree with the amalgamation of the six area municipalities into one? Yes or No." Pretty simple, pretty straightforward, it seems to me.

Mr Wildman: Maybe he's afraid they won't agree with him.

Mr Silipo: Exactly. My colleague from Algoma says maybe he thinks they won't agree with him. That's exactly the reason the minister is afraid to put that issue out to referendum, that's why the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Premier Harris are afraid to put that issue out, because they know that their preferred model, which they have been espousing but have not ever had the decency to come to this House and say, "This is what we want to do" -- they know that model and that option would be trounced by the voters in Metropolitan Toronto.

What about democracy? What about letting people have their say? Does the Harris government believe in it, or is it simply a convenient tool for them to use and talk about whenever it suits their purposes? I think that is the case, because we are seeing action after action of this government that results in this contradiction coming more and more to the fore. The one common thread that I continue to see through this is that the Harris government has a specific agenda in how they are governing. The most interesting aspect, as I've been able to figure this out, but as their own spin doctors are now telling us more and more clearly with each passing day, is that the real agenda of the Harris government is not governing at all, at least not governing in the sense that we've known governing in this province, which is that you try to find a consensus, yes, starting from your own partisan political point of view, obviously, but trying to find a consensus, trying to make decisions that somehow will be for the better good of the whole society.

No, what this government is doing is running a constant election campaign, and in that constant election campaign their primary audience and their primary target is that 40% they need to get them re-elected, and they don't care about the other 60%. They're comfortable in governing for a minority of the province because that's how they believe they will get re-elected. They believe that as long as they make their rich friends happy and persist in their arguments to try to convince another 10% to 15% of people -- as they did in the last election, people who thought they had the answers, to whom they gave the easy answers to the very complex problems we have in front of us -- they think that's all they have to do to get re-elected, and that's what this is all about.

When I look at what this government is doing with respect to governance and the future of the greater Toronto area, it gives me no hesitation in saying that the bottom line that's driving the decision-making by the Harris government is not a concern about the future of the greater Toronto area and what's best for a region that has 40% of the population of the province. It's all about politics, and it's all about partisan politics.

I heard this from someone at a meeting down at city hall the other day, who put it in the clearest way I could ever hear: "Look, the Tories aren't going to fiddle around with the 905 area." Interestingly enough, that's what we're hearing from the minister now. Why? He said: "Look around, look at what you have now. There are 18 seats in that area now. They all happen to be represented by Tories. Under the redistribution, they're actually going to have 19 seats there. They figure they can hold all those seats if they don't upset their friends in the 905 area."

One other example we heard just a little while ago was that they're backing off on the development charges issues. Why? Not because it was the wrong thing, but because Hazel McCallion, one of their Tory friends, got upset at them.


On the other hand, they're going to mess around inside Metropolitan Toronto. Why? Because it happens to have the largest number of councils, the largest number of politicians. They can go around playing cheap politics, saying: "Look at all the politicians we've eliminated. Look at all the councils we've eliminated." And you know what? It's not going to do one damn thing to improve governance in this region.

You appointed Mr Crombie and his panel to give you advice. Interestingly enough, you turned down the advice the Golden commission gave you a year ago. If you were serious about the future of the region, you would have started to implement some of those directions a year ago. We could have been well on our way with legislation six months ago, a year ago, a full public debate, people understanding the options and real decisions being made. You would have seen a consensus develop that would have brought people together and we would have understood and made decisions on the basis of what is best for this region, which continues to be, whether you like it or not, the economic engine of this province.

Yet what we see instead is sheer partisan politics. They appointed Mr Crombie, hoping to get from him a recommendation around their megacity, and what did they get instead? Mr Crombie said very clearly: "The most important thing you need to do is deal with the greater Toronto area as a region. If want to look at governance changes, you'd better look first at the regions. Eliminate the regional governments and, as a transition, create this greater Toronto service board, as a first step towards full governance at the regional level."

The region today is no longer just Metropolitan Toronto versus the other parts of the greater Toronto area. The region is the entire area. We can argue about how far we want to extend those boundaries, but everybody knows and everybody understands that the region, the economic entity today, is the greater Toronto area. He said: "You've got to look at that in terms of governance, in terms of economic development, in terms of the real future. You've got to have a structure in place to deal with that, first and uppermost. Then you can go ahead within that, only within that, and make changes within Metropolitan Toronto in terms of consolidating municipalities." Interestingly enough, he also said, "You can look within Metropolitan Toronto but also between Metropolitan Toronto and the surrounding areas," because there's no longer any magic about the Steeles border or the border between Mississauga and Etobicoke, to use but two examples.

He said, "Take three months, look at these possible consolidations," and then he finished by saying one very important thing. He said: "Do not, under any circumstances, do not fiddle around with consolidations inside Metropolitan Toronto if you are not also going to do the first of the points, if you are not also going to put in place a structure that coordinates the services right across the region."

Well, we will see next week what comes out from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, but judging from what he continues to tell us about the decisions he and his government are making, what we are seeing is that we will have consolidation within Metropolitan Toronto, we will have a megacity, we will have one city within Metropolitan Toronto, but they won't touch the other regional governments. Although they will, I believe, come forward with some kind of coordinating body, they will not dare to touch the regional governments outside of Metropolitan Toronto. Why? Because it doesn't make sense? No, it makes absolute sense. It's because they don't want to anger their political allies. It's as plain as that.

Now, they'll put it in great language, that the outside regions are not quite as ready, they're not as developed etc etc. You can continue to insult people in that way all you want. The sheer reality is that you will not touch the 905 area because that's where you believe your strongest base of support is, that's where your municipal allies are in greatest numbers, and you don't want to get them angry at you. You've already seen what Hazel McCallion can do to you on one simple issue and you don't want to take them on on the broader issues.

What we're going to see, and we'll see this next week, is that they'll continue to play politics with this. They'll continue to say, "Look at all the politicians we got rid of inside Metropolitan Toronto" -- except they won't say "inside Metropolitan Toronto"; they'll say "inside the GTA" to pretend that they are dealing with the whole thing.

But they are not dealing with the whole thing, they are not, because even their own handpicked panel could not deliver to Minister Leach the recommendation he was so desperately seeking, the recommendation to say, "Do away with all the area municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto and just amalgamate them all into one city." Yes, that happened to be Mr Crombie's personal preference, but he also said very clearly, "The panel as a whole" -- Mr Crombie was part of a panel; he wasn't there by himself -- "did not agree to that, could not agree to that." The panel was split on that, some people believing it should be three cities, some four, he one, but he said he could live with either model.


Mr Silipo: Yes, he personally said he preferred the one. I heard him say that. But the point is that the minister did not get the blanket endorsement he was seeking, even from his own handpicked panel, and that's got to be rubbing him a little bit wrong.

But he will persist, I'm sure. If the rumour mill is correct, he has already proceeded to get the approvals he needs in cabinet and caucus. Despite the Premier having said consistently here for the last couple of days that they haven't made a decision, we know that's the direction they've been moving in and that what we will see next week is an amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto into one large city of 2.3 million people.

I happen to think that route, at this time at least, is the wrong way to go. In the evolution of the process of governance at the local level in Metropolitan Toronto, I don't think at this point that's in the best interests of good government, particularly because in what will come forward we will not see the same rule applied to the regions surrounding Metropolitan Toronto. We will not see the elimination of the other regional governments. We will not see the true coordinating function because there will still be this tug of war between the central region and the surrounding regions.

Having said that, I also want to say briefly, because we'll have lots of opportunity to talk more about this in the new year, in the famous spring sitting that's going to start on January 13, that there's an even bigger agenda looming on the horizon. It's what I call the $3-billion collection. It's a series of bills that we will see introduced for the first time in this Legislature, starting next week with this first piece on the megacity in Metropolitan Toronto and rolling into January with a bill on property tax reform; with another piece of legislation on governance outside the Metro area, which I believe will simply be this coordinating function without elimination of the other regions; with municipal reform and disentanglement; with property tax reform; and with education reform.

Never was that word "reform" more appropriate than in the labels attached to these movements and these bills, because what is coming is in fact capital-R Reform. That's what this government is about and that's what we will see in these pieces of legislation. These are the tools they will use to take out of the public funding system of this province $3 billion they need to find, that they will take out of education, that they will take out by shifting more costs down to the municipal level and making property taxpayers pay more, not less.

As they do this magical shifting with respect to social services, health care, education and all the other costs back and forth, what we will see at the end of the day is the property tax base picking up a far larger portion of those costs than they are picking up today.

What does that mean? It means that property taxes, by nature the most regressive form of taxation because they have no relationship to the ability to pay, will become the way in which this government will continue on its agenda, which is to make those who are the wealthiest pay less, in fact gain even more through their tax cut, and they will make property taxpayers, the average family, end up paying for more and more of these tax cuts, end up paying for more and more of the services.

That's the way this government functions. At the heart of what this government does, at the heart of what Mike Harris is all about, it has everything to do with shifting power and shifting wealth from all of us into the hands of fewer and fewer people, those fewer and fewer people who already are making more. Those are the people who are benefiting from the tax cuts. Those are the people who are going to benefit by these changes that we will see in a massive way, because not since the days of Bill 26 will we see pieces of legislation in front of us that will so significantly change the nature and the future direction of this province.


I for one am quite frankly delighted that I will have the chance to be here in my place next week, and particularly from January 13 until July whatever, as we debate these bills and as we continue to point out to the people of the province what the Mike Harris agenda is all about. It's not about good government, whether it's at the local level through Bill 86 or any of the other pieces of legislation we're going to see before us; it's not about finding the best solutions for the future of this province; it's not about putting the province back on its feet economically and socially. It's about creating more divisions; it's about ensuring that the wealthy get wealthier, that the rich get richer and the rest of us get poorer. It's as simple as that. Legislation after legislation, measure after measure that this government takes perpetuates that basic notion and that basic tenet of what Mike Harris stands for. I know that there are some members across who begin to be troubled by this, but more importantly, the public is beginning to understand and will remember.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bisson: I want to congratulate both my caucus colleagues for what they had to contribute in this debate. The member for Dovercourt hits it on the head. The government's agenda here is to divide people among classes and, in the guise of saying that they're going to provide better government, to really dismantle government. I couldn't agree more on that point.

The other point he made that I thought was rather good was that there is a strategy on the part of the government in order to move towards a system, a political situation, where they're going to pit Metro against the GTA. It would be fairly safe to be assured that at the end of this process, when they do restructure what is now Metro, the six cities within the Metro area, there are going to be a lot of people in Scarborough, Etobicoke, Toronto and others who are going to be really upset with this government because they're going to see their municipalities taken apart. I believe that come the next election the Tories will have a fairly difficult time; I wouldn't say they'd get shut out in Metro, but I think they're going to have a more difficult time than they did in the last election.

Their policy and their strategy are quite evident. They're trying to appease the 905. If you look at everything they're doing, it's really about trying to do well in the 905 and hope to heck that they're able to do well enough there, and a bit in rural Ontario, to come back in the next election. But my guess is that this won't happen. I have a fairly good sense of what people have been saying in the 905 area and the Metro area and the rural area and northern Ontario, and it's fairly unanimous. There are a lot of people out there who are saying, "Something's got to be done. We have to work towards balancing a budget over a period of time and we have to eliminate that deficit," but there are a lot of people who are very weary with what the government is doing and they're starting to catch on. This is not so much about balancing budgets. This is not so much about eliminating the deficit. It has more to do with dismantling government. People are catching on to that and in a very short time we're going to start seeing that in the polls.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I thank the honourable member for Dovercourt for his remarks, although I detected a tinge, and I know he did not mean this, of paranoia about some of the government motives. I just want to assure this House and the honourable member that there is not some grand conspiracy at work. We are not responsible for the death of JFK or fluoridation of water. Sometimes people always look for the complicated explanation: What sort of conspiracy is at work involving shadowy men on a shadowy planet? It's much more simple than that. We all know that there is only one taxpayer who is footing all of the bills for all these levels of government. We want to ensure that the taxpayers, that the citizens who deserve the best services in our municipalities, get that through a level and a support of a government and series of governments throughout the GTA and in the province of Ontario that can deliver those services effectively, efficiently and with the taxpayer in mind, to deliver the services that make sense for the respective jurisdictions -- nothing more complicated than that.

Does that mean that the same solution applies for Metro as to outside of Metro? No, of course not. That's the cookie-cutter approach that the previous government had tried to do, and it failed miserably. Our approach is a bit more subtle than that perhaps. It is looking at each individual municipality and determining what is best for them and working with them to find that determination. For that we are guilty as charged. But if we are guilty of that, we are also guilty of making sure that government works for the people of Ontario.

Mrs Caplan: The bill before us today is the Better Local Government Act. Unfortunately for the people listening to this debate, what they're going realize is that this government may not have in mind better local government. In fact, while this bill may have some important provisions for local municipalities, the concern that people in Metropolitan Toronto have is that the government is moving headlong into amalgamation without any data, research or information to justify what it is doing. I take issue with those who stand in their place and say that they believe this is going to result in more cost-effective government.

The reality is that every study on large amalgamations suggest that your property taxes will go up and your service levels will go down. That is not what the people of Metropolitan Toronto want. They want good local government. They want the opportunity to know that services are delivered efficiently and effectively. They do not want their taxes to go up as a result of this scheme. We also know that the people of Metropolitan Toronto know and are beginning to understand the real agenda of this government, which is an anti-Metropolitan Toronto government. They are beginning to realize that this government does not understand the economic importance of Metropolitan Toronto to the economic life of this province.

The people of this province will want to have their say in the form of a referendum, which this government seems to say it is going to let us have on every other issue but not on the issues of importance. They are afraid to consult the people because they cannot justify the decisions that they are making with any research, with any data. This is ideology gone wild.

Mr Kormos: I'm grateful for the contribution to this debate by the member for Dovercourt, whom I would have referred to as Tony Silipo but for the ruling of the Speaker, and by the member for Fort York, who of course is Rosario Marchese.

Very much the focus, and appropriately, was Toronto, they both being Toronto members, but let's not forget that this bill impacts every municipality, every part of the province of Ontario. This bill hands over governance for municipalities to the big corporations and to the developers. There's simply no other way about it.

The member for Dovercourt spoke of how this government owes debts, there's no two ways about it, to its corporate friends, to its developer friends. These Tories are so deep in the back pocket of the big developers that they're spitting out lint. This government has every intention of turning governance over to the wealthy and the powerful, the already powerful, and to the big profitable corporations and to the profitable and not-so-conscionable developers. It's doing it in no small part with this bill.

We know that this bill removes the cap for political contributions by the rich corporations to municipal politicians. This bill is designed to grease the way for Tories who want to get on to municipal councils so they can be lackeys, lapdogs. As much as Tory is a lapdog to the minister responsible for the bill, Tories like those we have here will be lapdogs for the corporations and the developers on municipal councils. That's what this bill facilitates.

It very much impacts on the city of Toronto and the greater Toronto area. It also impacts very much on cities like Welland and Thorold and St Catharines and Niagara Falls. When I see the Tory members for the region not speaking out against it, I wonder where they really stand. I know where they stand.

The Speaker: Response.

Mr Silipo: We split the time.

The Speaker: No, you can only have one response.


The Speaker: Fine, as long as you're not going to get up later.


Mr Marchese: The member for Dovercourt and I thank the four other people who have spoken. There are three or four points I want to make quickly to this.

First, one of the main reasons why we're objecting to Bill 86 is this new amendment they snuck in, the amendment that says, "The government intends to recommend that the members of the committee vote against subsection 71(3)," that wipes out the $5,000 limit contribution the corporations can make. The Urban Development Institute individuals, those big corporations, are salivating. These are the people with whom they work on a daily basis and these are the people they are helping. That's one of the reasons why we're going to be opposed to this.

Second, this government is shifting its responsibilities on to municipal governments when it gives them more responsibilities for welfare, child care, public health and housing. That will liberate these Tories as they decimate our municipalities and our services, and then they can say, like the ministers of education, health and transportation: "We haven't cut a thing. The municipalities have done that. We didn't do anything." As they offload, they will decimate and obliterate services that they have had for a long time.

Another member, M. Clement on the other side, talks about paranoia. Let me tell you about paranoia: M. Leach is paranoid when he has spent $77,000 on special security doors at his office. When the Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness went, they found themselves locked out -- $77,000 has been spent to keep the public out, and he talks about paranoia. What does that minister have to fear? Why is he locking himself away from the public? Why is he --

The Speaker: Order. Further debate?

Mr Bisson: This is a terrible bill and I'm going to vote against it.

The Speaker: Questions and comments? The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: So am I going to vote against it.

The Speaker: Questions and comments? The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I notice that each of the members who spoke forgot to mention that this bill does not prohibit the placement of video lottery terminals in every bar and every restaurant --

The Speaker: Order. Member for St Catharines, you may only ask a question or comment on the speech that was given. I think that's going to be rather difficult, but I'd like to see you do it.

Mr Bradley: I can certainly understand the member expressing that point of view. He probably expressed it because of the tax cut. I've heard him speak before, and the reason he's going to vote against it is, some of the provisions are forthcoming because this government is going to borrow $5 billion a year in order to finance a tax cut which will largely benefit the richest people in this province, the most wealthy people in this province, and I know that what is motivating the member is this tax cut.

But what he also knows is this government did not deliver on its promise to provide the tax cut at an earlier point in time. Nobody seems to know that. I have forgiven the government for that, but there are many real right-wingers out there who remember that this government has not delivered on that tax cut. I know that motivates the member and also I know he's opposed because this bill does not contain any provision which would prevent the placement of video slot machines in every bar, every restaurant, on every street and every neighbourhood in Ontario.

Mr Wildman: I must say that in listening to the debate from my friends from Fort York and Dovercourt, I wasn't sure how I was going to vote. But when I heard the member for Cochrane South, I was persuaded to vote against the bill.

I would tell you also that one of the reasons for voting against this bill is to emphasize the need to ensure that legislation is not just brought into this House and then completely subverted by other pieces of legislation that are going to be initiated by this government.

One of the things that is very odd about this government's approach to municipal affairs is that, on the one hand, they say they want to make elections easier for people to participate in, they want to make the municipalities more responsive and accountable; but, at the same time, they are proposing to bring forward legislation that will amalgamate against the wishes of most of the ratepayers. At the same time, they are a government that says they're in favour of direct democracy and they're in favour of referenda.

One of their proposals of which they are so proud is that they want to bring in referenda on constitutional matters and on taxation matters, yet on this particular matter, the possibility of amalgamation to set up a megacity, they say it's too complicated. Can I ask for an explanation from this government as to why it is too complicated to vote yes or no about the amalgamation of municipalities and not too complicated to talk about constitutional matters, the fundamental law of how this government and how this country should operate? One is not more complicated than the other. The government must have respect for the intelligence of the voters and the public in Ontario.

The Speaker: Response?

Mr Bisson: I'm more convinced than I was at the beginning of the debate. I counted it: ayes are 1, nays are 3. I consider the bill lost.

The Speaker: Further debate? Does the member for High Park-Swansea want a final comment?

Mr Shea: I rise to express some very serious concerns. There is something really out of control here tonight that we've seen working its way down through the House. I want to remind us of the flip-flop machine. It chewed up the Liberals and it's now eating its way through the socialists.

I want to refer to something that really concerns me on their behalf. For example, just two months ago, my good colleague from Fort York was in favour of recount, and now, of course, he says he is not, certainly not this proposal. It was just two months ago he said he was in favour of the Internet proposals, and now he says no. It was also just two months ago when he said: "Let me tell you about referenda. By golly, I think that will be very costly and could well have adverse effects on the people." Now today, of course, he says, "I guess I'm in favour." It has been a very strange two months. The fact is that we've had at least three examples of flip-flopping. I have real concern for my colleague in this regard.

What really troubled me was, as he went through what was a very entertaining and engaging presentation, I found it lighthearted and I found it, at times, insightful, but what really helped the insight was when he picked up little pieces of paper. I was impressed by that. I confess I'm at a loss because I don't have as many little pieces of paper as he does, so I feel a little cheated. That may come with more time in the House, when you get more pieces of paper.

But I've got to tell you, what troubled me as he went through this, picking up pieces of paper, he forgot to point out, for example, that the Toronto Star seemed to say editorially it favoured the direction this government is moving in; that the Globe and Mail has made the same suggestion; that the Toronto Sun has made the same suggestion; that fine columnists like David Lewis Stein has made the same suggestion, very much in favour of where we're going. He didn't hold up those pieces of paper. Now, somewhere along the line in the new year, I demand that he hold up those pieces of paper so I can read them as well.

In the meantime, can I bring this debate to some kind of sane conclusion by saying most members in this House will really understand the importance of this bill, and I know that reason will prevail and we will all vote for it willingly. In spite of what my good friend from St Catharines may be concerned about, he knows that that spectre has been laid to rest by the Premier himself. So I can share with my colleague that his concerns may be put on the back shelf.

However, I want to end the debate by reminding us that this bill, and the aim of this bill, is to simplify the municipal election process, and it does it admirably, and to improve accessibility, and surely no one in this House would oppose that. It gives the municipalities the flexibility to conduct elections efficiently and in a way that meets local needs, and that is surely something to which we are all committed as well.

I ask this House to overwhelmingly support Bill 86 and pass it.

The Speaker: The member for High Park-Swansea has moved third reading of Bill 86.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It is my understanding that we have unanimous consent to defer the vote on Bill 86 until right after question period on Monday, December 16, 1996.

The Speaker: Defer it till Monday after question period. Agreed? Agreed.

Orders of the day.

Hon Mr Sampson: Since it's almost at that hour of 12 o'clock, I move we adjourn the House.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed. This House now stands adjourned till Monday, December 16, at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 2153.