36th Parliament, 1st Session

L140 - Tue 17 Dec 1996 / Mar 17 Déc 1996































The House met at 1333.




Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): On December 3, I stood in this House to question the Attorney General about the crisis in family support. Mr Harnick stood over there and told this House that cheques are being processed within 24 to 36 hours. So I have sent over 40 cases from my offices to the minister. We have not received a single phone call in over two weeks. What kind of game are you playing at?

On December 4, my constituent, Brenda Quinlan, appeared before a committee to tell her sad story. Brenda is facing a power of sale on her home because her husband is $11,000 in arrears on his court-ordered mortgage payments. That is on top of support payment arrears. There are $45,000 in joint assets which family support could seize, a $20,000 term deposit sits in the same financial institution which has the power of sale, yet Brenda and her six children will be forced on to the street because nothing has been done to seize that money.

At committee -- and I must thank Mr Kormos for his assistance -- the parliamentary assistant and the family support staff undertook to help resolve this problem. Family support has the authority to seize those funds, yet Brenda has to defend against the power of sale while the minister and his staff sit on their hands. My office can't get any return calls. Tell me, Minister, when are you going to get off your good intentions and do your job?


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre, a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario in my riding of Riverdale, believes that every kid has potential. Recently four of its members were honoured with scholarships to help them pursue their educational goals.

These scholarships were presented to Tracy Borrice, who is studying nursing at George Brown College, with the intention of attaining a degree later at the university level; Julie Huynh, who will be entering her third year in the social work program at Ryerson university and is looking forward to graduate school; Deborah Johnson, who is studying fashion and design at Seneca College -- she hopes to have her own fashion design business -- and Salena Cicchirillo, a long-time volunteer of Eastwood who is in the child and youth worker program at George Brown College.

Knowing the challenges faced by many of its members, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario started a scholarship program in 1992. From an initial $4,000, the program has grown to more than $40,000 and 41 awards in 1996. To date, more than $90,000 has been given out to 90 young people across Ontario who are striving to achieve their potential. For this, the Boys and Girls Clubs need to be commended. As for the students, congratulations and good luck to all of them.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I am very pleased to inform the House of some very good economic news originating in Wellington county. The village of Elora has been selected as the location of a new industry. Jefferson Elora Corp will soon supply auto parts for Honda of Canada in Alliston. With a $23-million investment, the company plans to begin operations in February 1998, initially creating 40 jobs, and should employ 70 people within about two years.

Last week I joined the Elora village council, the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism and officials of the company in a ceremony marking the announcement of the new plant. I want to again congratulate Elora village council and staff on this success, and thank Mr Isao Sugibayashi, president of Jefferson Industries, for choosing Elora as the location for this new venture.

Wellington has a great deal to offer prospective employers: a skilled and hard-working population, strong local governments who work very hard to make Wellington an attractive place to invest, a quality of life which is second to none, a sound infrastructure and proximity to markets and an improving economic climate in Ontario, which our government has encouraged through its policies and its outlook.

We must continue to do all that we can to encourage business investment and job creation in Wellington and Ontario. We still have a long way to go, but we look forward to a new year of hope and promise, confident in ourselves and in our future.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): The fallout from the government's handpicked commission's final report regarding hospital restructuring continues to fracture our city and our northeastern Ontario community.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, even those who believe the government's direction is right, thinks the system we are left with in Sudbury is too small for Sudbury to ever be considered the referral centre for northeastern Ontario.

Minister, you have allowed your commission, your handpicked Tory hacks, to leave Sudbury with 226 fewer acute care beds and 197 fewer beds overall because you and your commission wanted to close two acute care hospitals in Sudbury. Your commission's report says there is only very localized hospital usage and that your studies indicated: "Analysis does not suggest significant distances to be traversed to access hospital care."

Timmins is not next door to Sudbury. Manitoulin Island is an hour and a half away. Hearst is several hours away. You and your Tory-appointed commission are forcing northerners to travel south to get treatment. You are taking $40.7 million out of the system. You are eliminating 500 health care jobs.

Shame on you, shame on this government, shame on your commission, and you'll pay the price next election.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): To follow up the member for Sudbury's eloquent statement on the Health Services Restructuring Commission in Sudbury, that commission made their final report in Sudbury yesterday and their Tory blue colours were on display.

The Harris government has, through the commission, chopped $40.7 million from the region's health care budget. Two hospitals will close and services will not be provided to the people who need them. All of this is done to pay for the government's phoney tax scheme for the richest people in our province.

Yesterday's announcement contained no labour adjustment plan for the hundreds of front-line health care workers about to lose their jobs. What are these workers supposed to do to find other work? A responsible government would have made sure that a labour adjustment plan was part of any government report which would cause workers to lose their jobs.

I and my colleagues on this side of the House made these same observations when the interim report came down some weeks ago. We were ignored. The government has an agenda firmly in place and they're not about to be moved.

The final report contained no commitment to reinvest the millions of dollars cut from health care in Sudbury into community-based services when those hospitals close. In fact, there is no analysis of the future needs for community-based care in the preparation of this report.

I ask the new Minister of Health to come to Sudbury and meet with the leadership of the region to discuss the future of health care in that important part of our province.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): This government remains firmly committed to maintaining health care spending at $17.4 billion. This is a daunting task in light of the $2.1-billion cut to Ontario's health and social services by the federal Liberal government. It can be done, but not without significant changes to correct some historical funding inequities.

The previous government instructed the district health councils in the province to look at restructuring of health services in Ontario. In fact, $26 million was allocated by the previous government to this project.

In my riding of Lambton, the Health Services Restructuring Commission has recently released its recommendation, which I must admit is certainly not compatible with the recommendations made by the Lambton District Health Council. We realize there must be some rationalization of health services. The constituents of Lambton feel they can find savings and restructuring which are compatible with the Hospital Services Restructuring Commission.

In other words, we want to be part of the solution. By being part of the solution, not only can we be sensitive to the economic viability of rural Ontario but we can play an important role in what is best for our constituents from a health care point of view.

My constituents in Lambton have been working together to respond to and make their recommendations to health services --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): A few weeks ago there was a political party that released a report called Fresh Start. That report was written by Preston Manning and the Reform Party, featuring one of the members opposite.

But yesterday another political party released a report also called Fresh Start. Fresh Start number 2 was written by KPMG about the Metro amalgamation for Al Leach, Mike Harris and the provincial Tories.

Preston Manning's Fresh Start talks about gutting important public services. Al Leach's Fresh Start also talks about gutting important public services, using phrases like "right-sizing police" and proposing to replace police with volunteers.

Preston Manning's Fresh Start talks about privatizing government services. Al Leach's Fresh Start also talks about privatizing services. On page B-6 it says, "Potential exists to contract out fraud investigations to private firms."

Preston Manning's Fresh Start talks about selling off government assets. So does Al Leach's Fresh Start. Page C-6 recommends, "Lower operating costs after disposal of transportation assets and facilities."

Lastly, Preston Manning's Fresh Start is based on very shaky numbers, something Al Leach seems to have copied as well.

It looks as though the only person Al Leach has consulted in his Metro amalgamation proposal is Preston Manning, and this of course begs the question, why $100,000 spent on this and when is Al Leach going to get the same haircut as Preston Manning?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): As we know, today the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing made an announcement with respect to the future of Metropolitan Toronto, and he chose to make that announcement at the board of trade to a very select audience. The symbolism in that is not lost on many people in this city, many people in this province.

There are items in this legislation coming forward on which we already need immediate clarification from the minister. As he will know, ministry officials held a briefing with MPPs this morning. I specifically asked about the minister's intention for the timing of this legislation and was told by the ministry officials that it was the minister's intent to have this piece of legislation, affecting 2.3 million people and the future of Metro Toronto, passed by early February. Our understanding, our intention was that it would go out to hearings in March, that there would be time for people to respond.

I also asked about this new board of trustees that the minister is putting in place that can overturn local decisions on expenditures. Could they stop the city of Toronto or any other city from holding a referendum? I was told yes. Minister, you must be clear about this. What is the timing and will you ensure that referendums can be held by local government?


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I would like to bring to the attention of the honourable members of this House that at the 24th annual International Emmy Awards gala in New York City on November 25, TVOntario received the prestigious 1996 international UNICEF award. TVOntario was chosen for the Emmy from among 2,200 broadcasters worldwide who took part last December in UNICEF's International Children's Day of Broadcasting.

The award honours the full day of special programming produced last year by TVO's children and youth programming team to celebrate the annual UNICEF initiative, which was launched four years ago to draw worldwide media attention to children's rights.

This is an extraordinary honour for TVOntario and it brings unprecedented international acclaim to their work in children's programming. Coming on the heels of the special achievement award they received from the Alliance for Children and Television, this latest honour illustrates TVO's capacity to concentrate successfully on children's educational programming.

I'd like to invite all of my colleagues in this House to join me in congratulating TVOntario for earning the 1996 international UNICEF award.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to inform the members that in the government's gallery is the previous member for Scarborough North, Mr Tom Wells. Welcome.



Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Today we are introducing historic change to municipal governance in the province of Ontario.

Much has been said about the future of Metropolitan Toronto and its six municipalities, about the greater Toronto area, about Ottawa-Carleton and Hamilton-Wentworth and other municipalities in various stages of restructuring.

There has been endless discussion, debate and deliberation based on advice from many studies and many people, including David Crombie and the Who Does What panel, and Dr Anne Golden and the GTA Task Force. They've told us that there are efficiencies to be gained, savings to be found, investment and jobs to be created by making changes to the current structure. They've told us that the status quo is not an option. They've told us to act.

Today the debate gives way to action. Today I will be introducing legislation that will streamline local government and make it more accountable and efficient, that will reduce layers of government, end waste, overlap, duplication and red tape and the number of politicians.

Today I am introducing legislation to eliminate Metro and its six member municipalities: Toronto, Etobicoke, East York, North York, Scarborough and the city of York. We will create one new city of Toronto for us all, a city where we work together for the benefit of the region as a whole, where we will move forward as one to greet the 21st century -- except for those opposite who are still back in the 19th.


We will leave behind our seven competing governments, our seven planning departments, seven roads departments, seven parks departments. We will leave behind the confusion over which level of government does what job. We will leave behind the artificial boundaries that divide our region and that are more of a hindrance than a help.

We will bring in a new Toronto that is more efficient. It will have all of the services that people have grown to expect, but within that it will be more cost-effective. Financial experts at KPMG have said unification will save taxpayers as much as $865 million over the first three years and $300 million annually after that.

Our new city of Toronto will keep its strong local identity and communities. At the same time, we will have a strong central core for the developing 905 regions and our entire province. That strength will help us increase our international presence and compete in the world market.

Our new city will be built on the best practices of progressive cities across North America. We will start with a clean slate and move forward in the best interests of all.

In conjunction with this, earlier today I announced that by March 31, 1997, we will set up a Greater Toronto Area Services Board. This board will have regard for the area as a whole. It will coordinate area-wide services such as public transit, water and sewer, economic development, and linked services such as police.

I would also like to respond to a recommendation made by Mr Crombie that we eliminate the regions of Halton, Durham, Peel and York at this time. This has been debated, and while we believe it will happen, it will not happen right now. These regions are at different stages of growth, and coordination of that growth is vital.

Restructuring is going on all around the province, and this morning I announced that Mr Gardner Church has been appointed as facilitator to Ottawa-Carleton to help in their restructuring discussions.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I think we're all interested in hearing this.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): How about you, Chris?

The Speaker: Yes, I'm equally interested, I'm sure, as everyone. I think it would be helpful if the minister would be allowed to just finish it so that we all can hear it. Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Also, my colleague the member for Oxford has been appointed to work with Hamilton-Wentworth. This very progressive region wants to move to a locally agreed upon single-tier government, but before we legislate this, some final issues must be resolved.

Changes have long been discussed. We believe the time is right to make them and we believe the legislation we are introducing today presents an historic opportunity to strengthen the province of Ontario, the greater Toronto area and the city of Toronto.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I think it's appropriate, as the member for York South mentioned, that the minister's premise for this megacity madness is based on a report that has the same heading as Preston Manning's campaign slogan: Fresh Start.

If you look at this report that he based his premises on, you'll see that they say they're going to save money basically by privatizing policing. I wonder if the minister told his rich consultant friends that policing is already amalgamated in Metro. So what's the saving? It's already amalgamated. What are you going to do to police services when, first of all, you're going to have: "Civilianization of police services. Many jobs now done by sworn officers can be turned into civilian positions.... Further outsourcing of...police functions." Fraud and white-collar crimes are going to be done by the private sector.

Also differentiation of services: "Further potential exists to differentiate" between duties done by a fully trained officer. Now they're going to bring in not fully trained officers. On top of that, they're going to bring in volunteers to police in neighbourhoods. I want to see those volunteers in Parkdale.

Interjection: Al's Angels.

Mr Colle: Al's Angels.

What's most frightening about this report is that this legislation that he's introduced today takes effect today, December 17. In other words, what's going to happen today is that the six local governments of Metro Toronto are going to be put into trusteeship. And you know why he's putting them into trusteeship? Because he's going to stop them from holding a public referendum. He is afraid to let the people participate. He's going to stop them with this legislation as of today. That is the basic thrust of this legislation. It's anti-democratic. It's a refusal to even consider a referendum. He has blocked the referendum today.

He has taken over and made himself in fact the dictator of Metro today. You are now the emperor, the dictator, of Metro today. You will not allow the elected officials or the taxpayers to hold a referendum because you're afraid they will oppose your dictatorship. It's interesting to note also that what this megacity will mean is mega-increases in property taxes, mega-cuts to services and mega-user fees. That's what this will mean.

Who will be able to run for mega-mayor? It will be his millionaire friends, because who can afford to raise money for a municipal election for 2.3 million people? It will be some wealthy millionaire. And who will be able to run for council? It'll be just people who are aligned to party politics. So he's introducing millionaires for mayor and mega-councillors and mega-party-politics at the local level.

This is the death of local government in Metro. But you notice there's a double standard in 905. He is not going to touch the 905. In fact, he's going to impose a third layer of government on 905. There's going to be the local government. The regions will stay in 905 because he's afraid of Hazel McCallion, so the regions aren't going to be touched. Then he's putting in a third layer, the GTA government. So the 905 will have three layers of government: more, bigger mega-government.

This is a government that talks about smaller is better. It's quite clear this is about a government that believes bigger is better, cheaper is better, and one size fits all, and that if you don't do what we tell you to do, we're going to force you. This is forced dictatorship. This is in essence a coup d'état. That's what it is. It's a takeover of local democracy by Emperor Leach. That's what is going on, and it's a sad day for democracy.

I ask the people in East York, York, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough and Toronto to rise up and stand up to this dictator and say no, that you want a say in your future; you want a say in your neighbourhood. Don't be afraid of them.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): This could have been indeed an historic day for the greater Toronto area, but indeed it's an historic day because it marks the end of democracy as it applies to Metropolitan Toronto. What this minister and this government have done today is to say that when it comes to Metropolitan Toronto, they're prepared to sacrifice all semblance of democracy and just continue with their authoritarian, dictatorial way of making decisions.

We note in the same statement -- there is no clearer example than this very statement -- that when it comes to Ottawa-Carleton, when it comes to Hamilton-Wentworth, when it comes indeed to the rest of the 905 area, what we see from this government is what we would expect from any decent government, and that is a process to sort out the difficulties that come about with respect to restructuring municipal governance. We appreciate that at least with respect to those areas of the province, that is being acknowledged in this statement today.


But juxtapose that against what the government and the minister are doing with respect to Metropolitan Toronto: no process whatsoever, just Al Leach's and Mike Harris's decision about what will be, that they will impose on the biggest metropolis not only in this province but in this country, on 2.5 million people; they will decide what's best for them.

We've heard the Premier and the minister tell us time after time that there have been so many studies that it's time to act. They've forgotten to mention that they haven't followed any one of those studies, not even the latest one from their own handpicked panel which said: "If you do anything about governance and the related issues around the greater Toronto area, start with the greater Toronto area as the region. Recognize that you've got to put in place a governance structure that removes the regional governments and puts in place a new structure that moves eventually to a new regional government that takes into account what is the economic entity today, which is the greater Toronto area."

While the minister comes today and presents us with this Greater Toronto Area Services Board, he of course conveniently omits dealing with the other levels of government in the 905 area. So indeed, from the government that believes in less government, we are going to get more government in the 905 area. Juxtapose that again against what we are seeing in Metropolitan Toronto: no process whatsoever, no ability for the public to continue to discuss with its municipal politicians, with its provincial politicians the variety of solutions that lie on the table.

This could have been and would have been a time of positive change, to project the greater Toronto area and, within that, Metropolitan Toronto into the future, into the next century as the vibrant part of the greater Toronto area that we all believe it to be. What the minister is doing is simply playing partisan politics with this. He's afraid to touch the 905 area because his 18 MPPs wouldn't have any of it. He's going to muck around inside Metropolitan Toronto, disregarding every single study that's been done, including his own handpicked panel.

We know in that process they will continue to disregard the democratic process as they hasten to pass this legislation, as they refuse to listen to the calls for a referendum -- this from a party and a government that continues to believe that referenda should be the course of the day on other issues around taxation and constitutional amendments, and yet they will refuse to hear the calls for a referendum on this particular issue. Then you have the ultimate of ultimate measures taken today, which is to impose trusteeship on the elected local governments in Metropolitan Toronto to block them, in effect, from governing for the balance of the 1997 year.

As bad as all that is, we know that unfortunately it's only the beginning of a series of measures that we will see unfold in the new year in what I call the $3-billion collection, because we know that this piece of legislation being introduced today, together with the education reform piece that's coming in January, together with the property tax reform that's coming in January, together with the disentanglement and the governance outside of the Toronto area, all have as their objective finding that $3 billion in cuts so that Harris and Leach and their friends can pay off their rich buddies through the tax cut.

That's what this is about. This is the first step. The other steps are going to come in the new year and we will be here to make sure the people understand that's what your agenda is all about.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This morning you made an announcement on this issue of megacity madness. In some ways it's a complicated issue, but in others it's not so complicated. For the people in Metro Toronto it's going to mean three things, quite simply: (1) higher taxes, (2) fewer services and (3) there's going to be a lost sense of community. What makes this a tremendous shame is that what we're talking about here to begin with is the most successful urban community in all of North America.

Clearly, there are profound changes ahead for the people of Toronto and there are two ways you can bring about this change: one is to impose your megacity on the people of Metro, or you can give them a choice for their future. Minister, given that this was not a part of the Common Sense Revolution, will you support the overwhelming desire of the people in Metro to make a choice on their future by way of a referendum?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): In response to the Leader of the Opposition, as to the proposal we brought in this morning, I think he's got a couple of things a little bit backwards. This proposal will bring in lower taxes, it will bring in better services and it will deliver services closer to the people.

With respect to a referendum, we've addressed that issue before. I know that his colleague in the back bench Mr Agostino agrees with me entirely that a referendum is totally inappropriate when you're dealing with amalgamation issues. So I don't know which side of the issue you want to be on today, Mr Leader; today you could be in favour and tomorrow you could oppose. But it's not appropriate.

Mr McGuinty: Might I suggest that we might all avert our eyes because the emperor has no clothes. Listen to this: You spent $100,000 cooking up a bogus study on amalgamation. Even after loading the deck on the study, this is what the authors concluded, "There has been no amalgamation in the current fiscal environment that would demonstrate the certainty of savings in Metro Toronto." That's your own study. The authors went on to say that "amalgamation could very well lead to increased costs," and that means, at the end of the day, higher property taxes.

Minister, why are you ramming through, without reflection, without pause for thought and without any real consultation, your amalgamation that will raise taxes, cut services and eliminate the voice of local communities?

Hon Mr Leach: We had an external study done by one of the most competent management firms in all of North America, and that firm is recognized for that. Again in response, this will bring in lower taxes; it's going to bring in better services, more responsive to the people. If the Liberal Party had been in power in 1953, we'd probably still have 24 cities in the city of Toronto.

Mr McGuinty: The minister makes reference again to this study, but it's a joke. That's the study where he gave the conclusions ahead of time, told them to find the facts that would support it, and in addition gave explicit instructions they were to talk to nobody -- nobody. "For gosh sakes, don't talk to the police, don't talk to the firefighters, don't talk to experts, and whatever you do, don't talk to those local municipal politicians."

If this report is your vision of mega-Metro, people should be scared. This report talks about downsizing police staff, contracting out white-collar crime and fraud investigations and using volunteers to run police storefronts and fill out accident investigations. Is this what amalgamation's going to mean for us, Minister, using volunteers to do police work and trading in cops for private eyes?

Hon Mr Leach: As I read the recommendation and the report, they're talking about finding efficiencies in the operations of various departments within Metro including the police force. I think even the police would confirm that with the new technologies that are coming on board, it should be relatively easy to find 4% or 5% in efficiencies.

What we plan to do is take the money that is found from those efficiencies and reinvest it back into the police department so that we will continue to have a strong police department, so that they will be able to purchase the helicopters they're looking for and be able to put more police on the streets.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the official opposition.


Mr McGuinty: To the same minister: I want to be very, very clear on this just so there's no doubt. The Liberal caucus is against your megacity. We're going to fight you on this. We're going to join with the people of Metro in doing everything possible to stop you from imposing your will on them. Your decision is going to affect life in Metro for the next 50 years, and all you offer is a quick fix to some very complex problems.

Minister, why have you refused a proper investigation of what this is going to mean to property taxes, to municipal services and to our sense of community? What makes you think that you know best?

Hon Mr Leach: As the minister pointed out earlier in his first question, I think, there have been more studies on this particular subject than on any other issue.


The Speaker: Order. Members for Oriole and Ottawa East, I'd ask you to come to order, and the Minister of Environment as well.

Hon Mr Leach: This issue has been studied since 1953. It was again addressed in 1966. There was a referendum held in 1969. There was another study in 1978. There have been at least eight studies done in the last three years specifically on amalgamation, and all of them support getting rid of the current system, all of them support that the status quo is not an option, that change has to be made. Change is being made, and the proposal that we're bringing in for a single city will provide the best services to the people of the city of Toronto and the people of Ontario.

Mr McGuinty: If the minister had actually read any of those studies, he'd understand that none of them is supporting the concept he's putting forward.

What we're talking about here is democracy. You refuse to talk to those who should matter most, the people living here. You've decided that come hell or high water, you're going to impose your will. You don't care how much property taxes increase, how many services are cut, and you don't care what happens to the sense of community.

Given that this was not part of your Common Sense Revolution, given that during the last election Mike Harris in fact promised the exact opposite, can you tell me, why are you so intent to ram this megacity through?

Hon Mr Leach: I've had numerous discussions with the mayors, with the councils of the cities, with regional councillors, with regional chairmen. The mayors agree with the recommendation that we reduce the number of politicians. The mayors agree that we go to 50,000 represented by one councillor. The mayors agree that there's overlap and duplication and they indicated that they could save several hundreds of millions of dollars by eliminating waste. Metro council agrees. They produced three reports that indicate that the status quo doesn't work, that there's nothing but overlap and duplication and change has to be made. We're making that change, and the majority of people in this area agree with us.

Mr McGuinty: It's not just the people of Metro -- this has far-reaching implications -- not just the people of Metro who should be worried about this minister's plans.

Last week, David O'Brien, a member of David Crombie's Who Does What panel, told Sudbury council that your desire to cut even more from municipalities would result in the number of Ontario municipalities dropping from 850 to 250. We're contemplating here the death of some 600 Ontario municipalities. Claiming to have seen cabinet documents and financial statements, O'Brien said, "Within two or three years, there will be no funding to the municipal level at all."

Minister, will you now admit that this is not just about amalgamating Metro Toronto, that this is the first step in your plans to end municipal representation as we know it right across Ontario?

Hon Mr Leach: If any of your caucus had attended any of the AMO speeches, they probably would have heard me say that earlier this year, when I advised the municipalities that we were undertaking a program to separate the delivery of services between the two levels of government and that --


The Speaker: Okay, Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: It just struck me that their leaked cabinet document must be about a three-month-old copy of the Toronto Star, because that's when we made those statements. We advised the municipalities that we were doing the Who Does What exercise and that they would be well-advised to start planning with much-reduced provincial funding and perhaps no provincial funding. Municipalities understand that, even if the party opposite doesn't.

The Speaker: New question, third party.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, with your legislation that you're introducing today, you're forcing your megacity on the people of Toronto. You've made this decision with no public consultation, no credible study, no agreement by either the people or their elected municipal politicians. In the 905 area at least you're providing a process that will lead to further consolidations. You are ignoring Mr Crombie's recommendation as it applies to the Metropolitan Toronto area. You are in effect with these actions today making even the Bill 26 process look almost democratic.

What I want to ask you is this: Why are you not following Mr Crombie's recommendations as they apply to the Metropolitan Toronto area? Take the next three months, have him or someone lead a discussion to look at possible consolidation models, which would include one city, three cities, four cities, any number of models? Why will you not put in place a process here such as you are putting in place in the 905 area?

Hon Mr Leach: I'm glad that the member of the third party raised Mr Crombie, because I spoke to Mr Crombie just before I came over to the House and he's fully supportive of the actions we're taking today.

We are doing what the panel suggested. We're doing what Mr Crombie personally recommended, to go to a single tier. He also recommended that we put up a GTA coordinating committee and we're doing that as well.

Mr Silipo: I heard Mr Crombie myself and what the minister is saying is not what Mr Crombie said.

Let me move to another area. In the briefing that was held earlier today, your assistant deputy minister responsible for the GTA, Liz McLaren, said that you want passage of this draconian piece of legislation by the end of January or early February.

Minister, even you can't be that unrealistic. Even you can't expect to pass this mammoth piece of legislation that affects 2.5 million people in this kind of time, so I want you to be very clear in answering this question and assure us that there will be full public hearings in each and every city that is being affected by these changes during the month of March and not prior to that. Will you do that?

Hon Mr Leach: The honourable member knows what the process is in this House. It'll go for first reading today. The House will decide when it goes to second reading and when it goes to committee. Those committee hearings will be held in the appropriate municipalities in this province. We fully agree to that and we stated that we would do that. The timing of that is yet to be decided and it will be decided by this House.

Mr Silipo: We will follow that one very closely because we want to ensure that there are full public hearings in each of the communities that are being affected by this change, and I will look to the minister to provide at least that process and that guarantee.

I want to end my question on another point, which has to do with this question of referenda. We've talked in this House many a time about the interesting contradiction that this government finds itself in of being in favour of referenda for some things but against referenda here in this case.


Now we have the spectre of this trusteeship body hanging over the municipalities for 1997. I know you said you're not going to hold a referendum, but if the cities decide, individually or collectively, to proceed with a referendum in the Metropolitan Toronto area around this question of whether there should be one megacity or not, will you tell us today that you will not use any powers that you have now or that you're going to acquire through this legislation to directly, or indirectly through the trustees, block that referendum from taking place?

Hon Mr Leach: Quite the contrary. We just passed a bill in this House last week that's going to give the municipalities the ability to hold a referendum if they so choose. It will also give us the ability to put a question on that referendum if we so choose.

We met with the mayors of all of the cities of Toronto. We told them we didn't believe that a referendum was appropriate for this issue because there are too many questions that would have to go on the ballot to give everybody an opportunity to speak their mind.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Come on. It's one question: Yes or no?

Hon Mr Leach: Are you in favour? I hear the member for Oakwood talking and talking about --

Mr Colle: One simple question.

The Speaker: Order.

Mr Colle: It is an insult to the taxpayers. They say it is too complicated for people.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, that is what your party said.

Mr Colle: That is what you said in opposition. For casinos you wanted the referendum. Now you change your mind. What if you were to do this in North Bay?

Hon Mr Harris: We've got one big megacity in North Bay.

Mr Colle: Wipe out your councillors.

Hon Mr Harris: Stop regional government dead in its tracks.

The Speaker: I'm warning the member for Oakwood. You must come to order.


The Speaker: I will not pick sides. I think the member for Oakwood was slightly more exercised than the Premier at this time.

Hon Mr Leach: Let me just clarify a couple of things. I've a little something here that says: "Why am I a candidate? Because of the politicians who refuse to consider amalgamation because of party connections and personal issues."

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Signed "Paul Godfrey."

Hon Mr Leach: No. What a surprise. It says: "Mike Colle, candidate. I'm for amalgamation." You remember that, Mike?


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

Mr Colle: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: First of all, it's appropriate, I think, in this House to refer to a member by his riding's name.

The Speaker: That's true. I agree with that.

Mr Colle: Mr Speaker, again on a point of privilege: The basic point is that, unlike the minister, I've always entertained debate and open discussion about all issues.


The Speaker: I would ask the government members, please, and that includes the member for Brantford. Thank you.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the minister responsible for women's issues. I have here a copy of a report commissioned by your ministry which advocates cutting the amount of time women and children can stay in a shelter or transition house down to 24 to 48 hours. The report suggests that women can be made safe by the use of restraining orders, security systems and the neighbours' help. Presently, even with a six-week stay in a shelter, many women have died at the hands of a partner who was under a restraining order.

I understand you are finally making your report available. Will you stand up and tell us today that you believe that more, not less, transition and safe places for women and children whose lives are in danger are needed? Will you do that today?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): The member has raised some extremely serious and important issues which none of us in this House take lightly. She also mentioned the issue of having a report made available, which we hope will be made available today. Those recommendations from a consultant will require a very careful and detailed analysis.

I would say to the member, who has been a minister herself, that officials in nine of the line ministries will be looking at all of the recommendations, analysing them ministry by ministry, and at the appropriate point in time we will all be prepared to respond to those recommendations. This is just one small part of a consultation process.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Just say no. Women die at the hands of those spouses. Just say no.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Beaches-Woodbine, I ask you to come to order, please, and the member for London Centre as well.

Ms Churley: Minister, I wish you had just said that you agree with me on that. I think everybody else out there has seen the report by now, even though you haven't released it, and I expect that you would have read it by now.

In the preparation of the review process, the secretary of cabinet says in her letter to the two deputies that this review process will be guided by the imperatives of cost cutting and that "all publicly funded activities, programs and services achieve their intended outcomes and are managed within the mandate of this constraint."

The report repeatedly mentions your government's fiscal agenda and the report changes the objective for shelters and transition houses as services for prevention. It suggests there is duplication between rape crisis centres and sexual assault treatment centres, which shows an incredible misunderstanding of the services each of these provide.

All this is aimed at cost cutting. You want to talk about prevention. I'm asking you now, will you reinstate the funding for the programs that you've already cut and stop your consideration of eliminating shelters and --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I want to make it very clear to the members of this assembly that this was not a cost-cutting exercise. This exercise is about providing programs to women who have been victims of abuse across this province, a better mix of programs that work for the victims.

I should say to you, all of us are part of this process. I've been out across the province now for months listening to groups in different round tables, and we're looking for a better framework. We haven't had a framework for our violence programs, and the former minister knows that. There was a recommendation from her government that said we should develop a framework for action with regard to violence-against-women programs. I can tell you right now that we want programs that are effective and that support women who have been violated in the province of Ontario.

Ms Churley: Minister, our government increased funding for shelters and transition houses. Your government has cut funding. You can't stand there in your place and say you're restructuring these services for the good of women.

You can stand in your place and deny the real agenda, but I have here a letter from Lee Lakeland of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres. Lee was interviewed by your consultant and in her letter points out that the consultant made it very clear to her that the job was to reconfigure the system of services without transition houses. She said the consultant, and this is a quote, "gave me several explanations why transition houses were out of favour with the Harris government."

Minister, the evidence is all here in front of us today and it's very, very frightening. Women have died this year, women who have had restraining orders out on them. When will you come clean and tell us the real agenda of your government?


Hon Mrs Cunningham: With regard to the letter, I have no idea what that letter is about. There was a call for proposals sent out in the summer. None of the issues in the letter were part of the call for proposals and certainly do not reflect the interests of our government.

Ms Churley: Are you saying these people are not --

The Speaker: Order. The member for Riverdale, I ask you to --

Ms Churley: You get up and refute everything that women who are here in the gallery --

The Speaker: The member for Riverdale, I'm warning you to come to order and I'm asking the members in the third party to come to order while the answer is being given. I really can't hear it.

I don't know why you're pointing across there. I find it coming from that side. Minister.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: The member for Riverdale is quite right. The funding has increased in the last eight years, from $10 million to over $100 million. I should tell you that not one piece of analysis has been done on those programs as to whether or not they're effective for the women in Ontario.

Ms Lankin: That's not true. How can you guys stand here and say things that are untrue?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: It was a recommendation of the former government. A framework report was given to me as a new minister where it was recommended that a framework to provide anti-violence programs and to support women who have been violated must be developed. We're following through on the recommendations of the report of the former government and now they're complaining about it. I don't think they know what they want, but I will say one thing: There is no monopoly on caring in this House on behalf of the New Democratic Party. Every citizen in this province cares about safe communities, and we will do our best to provide --


The Speaker: Thank you.

I would ask the member for Cochrane South to withdraw the comment he made.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Reluctantly, I withdraw.

The Speaker: It's been a practice of mine that you either withdraw or you don't withdraw.

Ms Lankin: He withdrew.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, I ask you to withdraw as well. I ask that you withdraw your heckle. It was out of order.

Ms Lankin: I said, "He withdrew."

The Speaker: No, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, when you told the minister what she was saying wasn't true.

Ms Lankin: No.

The Speaker: Okay, then I name the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: Fine. At some point in time there's got to be some truth from this government about what you're doing --

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine, I would ask that you not ask me to -- it's best that you leave, that we not have to use force. I would ask that you leave. You have to leave.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): What are you saying?

Ms Lankin was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: To the member for Lake Nipigon, I put to you it's not in my nature to charge somebody with that for any reason at all. The simple fact is, once I've named a member, it's their obligation to either leave or not leave. If they don't leave, I have no option but to use force. That's why I suggested that. It was to the benefit of the member, that's all.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could the Speaker, perhaps after question period, please explain to the House the difference between accusing another member of telling a lie or stating that a statement is not true? There is a difference, surely.

The Speaker: After question period I will, but if you want to just think about it, the member said to the minister that what she was saying wasn't true.


The Speaker: I don't know. That seems to me to be suggesting in fact that it's --


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, come to order, and the members of the opposition come to order as well. The member for Algoma asked that. If you want me to deal with it after question period, I will. New question.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): My question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday another of the government's handpicked panels reported, this time on the future of post-secondary education, and it will be no surprise to anyone that the government got a failing grade on their handling of post-secondary education. I'll quote directly from the report. It states on page 4 that "public financial support for post-secondary education in Ontario is seriously inadequate -- indeed it has become so low that the sector's competitive position in North America is dangerously at risk."

Will the minister now admit that his decision last year to slash funding to colleges and universities was a mistake, that his increase of 20% was a dire consequence for students and parents who are going to be hit very hard, and will he admit that his failure to reform the student loan system will in fact create obstacles to access for very talented students in this province?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I think the reaction by various people to this very considered report over the last 24 hours has indicated that this government did the right thing last year in appointing this panel and trying to get, for the first time in a long time in Ontario, some good public policy out in front of the very important post-secondary institutions in this province. So I'm pleased we took that action and I'm very thankful for the panel members, who worked very hard to produce this report, and I will give it very careful consideration and a very careful read over the course of the next few weeks.

I can say this on student support: I'm also very proud of this government's record on student support. I had a chance a couple of weeks ago to make an announcement in this chamber that colleges and universities were going forward and raising money from the private sector, being matched by the government in our student assistance program. We announced last year that this will amount to a couple of hundred million dollars in support to the most needy students in the province. So I'm proud of that.

Ms Castrilli: It's obvious the panel doesn't exactly agree with the minister. It says that since this minister took office our province has dropped to dead last in Canada in capital funding for colleges and universities. For every dollar that the other provinces spend, we spend 75 cents. That's 25% below the Canadian average. Government funding for major public universities even in United States has increased while Ontario has fallen. Sadly, it is our students and our economy that are going to pay for these kinds of mistakes. Let me quote just one more thing from the report. It states, "These and other indicators strongly reinforce the need for the province to renew its financial commitment to post-secondary education, for the sake of Ontario's future prosperity, competitiveness and wellbeing."

These are the facts, not what the minister would have us believe. For the sake of Ontario's future, for the sake of our students, I would like the minister to announce today that he will cut no more from colleges and universities, that he in fact will restore at least the funding --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Downsview, thank you. Minister of Education.

Hon Mr Snobelen: It will be my pleasure, I hope in the very near future, to make an announcement, as we have talked about in the past, about the grants for colleges and universities next year. We will make that announcement in the very near future.

I will also reinforce our party's commitment to having income-contingent loans programs for students. It's something else that has been recommended by this panel and that we have been committed to, as a party, for some time. I can assure the member opposite that this government will continue to take actions that will help the accessibility of our colleges and universities to young people in Ontario and, most important, we will ensure that our post-secondary sector is excellent, that there are programs offered to our young people in Ontario better than those offered by any other institution in the world. That's our commitment and that's what we think is in the future of Ontario.



Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I want to come back to this issue of the process, because as you have clearly ruled out the possibility of a referendum in Metropolitan Toronto with respect to the future of the city and the cities within it, municipal leaders are prepared to proceed with their own referenda. I want to hear a very clear answer from you, Minister, because we were interrupted earlier, that if the municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto decide to hold a referendum, let's say in the month of February, on the megacity, neither you, directly, nor the board of trustees, indirectly, will try to stop them from holding that referendum. Will you give that guarantee today?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As I started to answer the question previously, we just passed Bill 86 in this House last Thursday, I believe, which gives the municipalities --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): No, but that means it has to be at municipal election time.

Hon Mr Leach: No, it doesn't. It allows them to have a referendum outside of election times, Bud. That was the whole purpose of the change in the bill.

The mayors have met with the Premier and me. We advised the mayors that we didn't believe a referendum would be appropriate on this issue because you can't decide on the type of question to ask. You can fix a referendum by fixing the question. Everybody recognizes that.

The cost of a referendum in the Metro area is $7 million. It's within the municipal powers to hold that referendum if they choose to do so. If they want to go out and squander $7 million of the taxpayers' money asking a question that doesn't have an answer, it's up to them to do it.

Mr Silipo: It seems to me that a question as simple as, "Do you agree with a megacity? Yes or No? Do you agree with the amalgamation of the six area municipalities into one city? Yes or No?" is a pretty straightforward question which even you, Minister, ought to be able to understand. It's not a loaded question; it's a straightforward question. As far as the cost is concerned, you're the party that believes in holding these referenda right across the province. So why is it a problem to hold it in Metro?

What I want to ask you next is this: If the municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto do indeed hold a referendum, if they proceed with these referenda and if the decision very clearly is against the amalgamation of the six area municipalities into one city, will you respect the wishes of the referenda, will you respect the wishes of the people, if that is the answer, if they turn down your megacity proposal, and will you then withdraw this draconian legislation?

Hon Mr Leach: What the member is asking to do, what he's saying, is you ask a question, "Are you in favour of a single city?" or I guess the opposite is, "Are you in favour of the status quo?" If they're not in favour of that, then I guess that means with the status quo, and everybody has agreed -- the mayors have agreed, all the councils have agreed -- that the status quo is not an option.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Don't put the boots to your people. These boots are not made for walking.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Parkdale isn't in his seat either.


The Speaker: I didn't mean to start it up again, I'm sorry.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I'd like to ask a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I want to congratulate you for your announcement last Friday in Hamilton, where I attended along with some of my colleagues for the announcement about the new over-the-counter services from the office of the registrar general and the services available at the land registry office. I understand Hamilton is considered to be quite a successful pilot project and I wonder if you could expand for the House, and indeed for people watching, the success about this particular program.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'd like to thank the member for Wentworth East for the question. We did make the announcement last Friday, and also in attendance were the members for Hamilton West and Wentworth North.

It's curious that prior to the Hamilton pilot project, the only places where people could get their vital statistics and certificates of birth or marriage or death were really from the registrar's offices, either in Toronto or in Thunder Bay. If they weren't within easy reach of these locations they would have to send them by mail, which would take six to eight weeks to do.

Clearly this was unacceptable to the consumer. This process will now take less than 10 minutes. In fact the pilot project in Hamilton was so successful that we were receiving about 50 inquiries a day. This is very clearly a good step for the consumer. This is one of the efficiencies we are trying to go through to cut the red tape in government.

Mr Doyle: There was one very slight hitch in the new program. They tried to find my birth certificate; unfortunately, the records don't go back that far.

But I would like to say that your ministry's plans regarding expanding the availability of these services in other parts of the province -- if you could tell us about that, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Perhaps we could dig out the old granite and chisel for the information on the birth certificate.

We are going to expand this to six additional sites across the province, and we expect them to be fully operational by the summer of 1997. These sites will be in London, North Bay, Ottawa, Sudbury, Whitby and Windsor. These were selected on the basis of volume and geographical locations to make it better for the consumer to go locally and get their birth certificates.

There are many occasions where the consumer has to get this kind of certificate: for a health card, for travel outside the province or even to sign up for organized sports. This over-the-counter service is very important to the consumer.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I wish the members over there would listen to some good news.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I wish they were all as concerned as you are.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member for Windsor-Sandwich is really heckling right now, but I assume this will be very good for consumers in Windsor, where they don't have to send to Toronto and wait for two months to get their birth certificates. Clearly, I think this is great. We're cutting red tape.


The Speaker: Okay, government members. Thank you very much. New question, the member for Oriole.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Health. We've now had an opportunity to take a close look and decipher some of the fine print of your recent deal with Ontario's doctors. Yesterday you put an annual pricetag of $150 million on this deal, and we know that it's the people of this province who are going to have to pay that $150 million.

The minister has admitted that he is going to make sick people pay for services that they currently receive under OHIP through delisting, deinsuring and user fees and that's going to deprive those who cannot pay of access to medical treatment in this province.

I am going to give you one more opportunity to stand in your place and to offer the people of Ontario your assurance that you will not do this, that you will not force them to pay a single penny -- as the Premier said, not one cent; that you will not force them to pay for a single service currently covered under OHIP and that you will not impose mandatory user fees for health care in order to pay for your deal with the doctors.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I am very happy to have one more opportunity today to stand here again and to say what I said yesterday, namely, that it is difficult to know exactly what the cost of this agreement is. The government does not have control over the number of doctors, over the number of patients, over the patients' charge etc. But I can tell you this: This government is managing the health care budget in a far superior fashion than the previous government, for example. The previous government, in terms of doctors' billings, ran $30 million over budget and this government will keep it certainly as close to budget as possible. I will say again, as I said yesterday, there are no user fees mentioned in this agreement.


Mrs Caplan: I say to the Premier and to this Minister of Health that Ontarians are getting very, very angry at the government's failure to protect their health care. Minister, you promised and the Premier promised Ontarians that you would protect health care. You promised that there would be, and I quote, "no new user fees" for health care and your leader assured us, and I quote again, that certainly it was not his plan "to close hospitals."

Your government has broken each and every one of those promises. Instead of keeping your word, you have slashed funding by $1.3 billion to our hospitals, you have fired hundreds of nurses, you have plowed hospitals under in community after community --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister of Community and Social Services, I ask you to come to order, please.


The Speaker: The member for Hamilton East, honestly. Okay, go ahead.

Mrs Caplan: You have imposed user fees on seniors who need their medication and now you are preparing to force sick people to pay for medical services that are presently covered under the Ontario health insurance plan.

Minister, at least today stand in this House and admit that you have failed to protect the one thing that Ontarians value most. Your first and most important commitment has been broken. Will you at least stand in your place and admit that you've broken your election promise to protect health care?

Hon David Johnson: I rise once again and thank the member for Oriole to have the opportunity to say once again there are no user fees in this agreement. But the member --

Mrs Caplan: Hospitals are being closed, user fees for drugs --

Hon David Johnson: If I can speak over the caterwauling --


The Speaker: I will caution the member for Oriole for the last time. No more heckling, thanks.

Hon David Johnson: The member for Oriole does have every reason to be excited, because indeed there is a government that is cutting health care in Canada and that government, as we know, is the federal Liberal government, cutting $2 billion to health care and social care --


The Speaker: Thanks for all your help. Keep going, Minister of Health.

Hon David Johnson: I will assure the member opposite that as we said before the election, during the election and after, since we've been in government, we are committed to health care, we are committed to adhering to the principles of the health care act and we are committed to funding the health care system at least to the tune of $17.4 billion. We want a better system and we will fund it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy concerning the latest development in his clear-cutting of environmental regulation in this province.

We learned today that the minister wants to give the government's corporate polluter friends an opportunity to modify proposed standards on toxic emissions before the public knows anything about it. After the standards have been watered down to suit big business, only then would they be posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry. Ministry staff naturally wondered how "to avoid this being perceived as a backroom exercise which goes against the spirit of the EBR."

Minister, this is not about perception, this is reality. You are engaged in a backroom exercise which spits in the face of the Environmental Bill of Rights. My question is, do you understand why what you're doing is just plain wrong?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I read with interest the Globe and Mail article this morning, which of course did not put forward all of the details of our full intentions with regard to this matter. I say to the member that we are revamping air quality standards at a rate which previous governments did not undertake. If her government had undertaken some of the revamping of these air quality standards, we would not have to proceed with the speed that is necessary at this time.

We are adopting a new process in setting these standards. We are taking standards from other jurisdictions and putting them in place here in Ontario. It is my belief that there should be some form of informal consultation prior to setting these standards and putting them on the environmental registry. I will enter into these informal consultations in order to ensure that the standards are realistic, that they are low, and they are much tougher than the previous ones that were put forward by your government.

Ms Churley: The telling word there was that they are "low." I would wonder who the minister is meeting with, who he is consulting with. I say time and time again in this House that he refuses to meet with environmentalists, and the report in the newspaper today states in this document from the staff that you have to "give the appearance of" consulting with environmentalists.

Minister, the process in the Environmental Bill of Rights was the result of consensus among environmental groups and the business community. Such groups as the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Business Council on National Issues and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce helped develop the law we put in place. For the Mike Harris government to give polluters a chance to modify toxic emissions standards in secret and then go through a charade of public process, you are showing contempt for the Environmental Bill of Rights and thus the people of Ontario. Do you understand yet why the people of Ontario do not trust you to protect our environment?

Hon Mr Sterling: Well, I'll take that from the people of Ontario. I believe that the best way to set standards is to have information before you set those standards, and therefore I am consulting with a number of people. I would note that Pollution Probe, the Ontario Lung Association, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Canadian Bar Association will all be involved in these direct consultations, along with many of the corporations which provide thousands and thousands of jobs for people across Ontario. They will be consulted as well, as will the associations which deal with the industries involved in the regulation of this area.

It seems to me the most competent way to strike a standard, to set a standard is of course to consult with the people who know most about this before you do that.


Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): My question is also to the Minister of Environment and Energy. I understand that the minister recently attended the official opening of the Westport Snowfluent waste water treatment plan. I would like to know, and ask the minister to explain, how this new and innovative technology works and how it will benefit the environment.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): That's a fair question. I was excited to be in Westport last weekend and opening the new Snowfluent environmental waste project, which is Ontario-developed, Ottawa-developed, technology to deal with the effluent from lagoons in that area.

This particular process converts the effluent during very cold nights during the wintertime into crystals, and in doing that, destroys many of the bacteria in that effluent. I might add that it is white snow as well. Once this snow melts in the springtime, it goes down through a grass bed and destroys some of the other harmful chemicals evident in this particular snow which has been built up. This particular process has been tried in Maine in the United States. It's been very successful. It's a win-win for us, a win in technology and a win for Westport.

Mr Vankoughnet: This waste treatment system sounds certainly promising. Could the minister please explain what specific benefits will arise from this new facility in Westport, this treatment facility located in eastern Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: I joined my colleagues Garry Guzzo and Bob Runciman at this particular function. It's very important to eastern Ontario. Westport is at the upper waters of the Rideau River and Rideau Lake system, so it's important for tourism that this particular project went under way and it's important for all the other residents of eastern Ontario that the Rideau River is cleaned up.

One of the beauties of this system is that it's a zero-discharge system. In other words, nothing goes into the Rideau River; it is all taken as groundwater into the water table. Therefore, as I mentioned before, it's a win for technology, it's a win for Westport, and it's a win for eastern Ontario in terms of the Rideau River.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. We have people who have travelled a great distance to be here from Lambton county today because they realize that you are closing their hospital. Your Premier campaigned on not closing hospitals. I would like the minister's response today to the people from Lambton: Why are you closing their hospital?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): As the member opposite knows, I'm not closing any hospitals. But I will say to the people from Lambton that there has been a report from the restructuring commission and that that report has been issued. There's a period of public input, and I hope very much that the people of Lambton, all those interested in health care in that particular area, will take advantage of the opportunity to have input through the period of time we're in right now. I would expect that the public input period would carry through until towards the end of January some time, and I would encourage them to speak during that period and make their views known.

Mrs Pupatello: Minister, the reality is that the local district health council in the area of Lambton does not agree with your health restructuring commission. In fact, your own member for Lambton has reversed his position. Initially he agreed with you to close the hospital in Lambton. Today he is supporting the people from Lambton. Today your own member is saying, "We need continuous emergency care in our community."

Will you listen to your own member for your caucus? Will you listen to your Premier, who campaigned on not closing hospitals? Minister, give us the answer for the people of Lambton today.

Hon David Johnson: There is a process under way which is I think a very healthy process. It allows people to be involved, to speak. The district health council was involved. The district health council in the first instance is composed of people knowledgeable about health care in that particular community. They made recommendations. The restructuring commission has been involved. The restructuring commission makes recommendations.


Hon David Johnson: Now the issue -- if I can say over the noise opposite -- now the matter is back to the people so that the people can have an opportunity to have a say in this matter. I'm sure that the member from this area and the people from this area will avail themselves of the opportunity to speak during this period of public input. I'm most interested to hear all of their views.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My question is also to the Minister of Health on the same issue. I met this morning with representatives of the people of Lambton as well as representatives from Huron-Perth, and in both areas hospitals are being closed. As a result of these hospital closures, one from the restructuring commission and the other one that's being studied by the Huron-Perth District Health Council, we're going to have distances where people will have to go over an hour to have access to emergency services when they've had access to small, rural hospitals in 15 or 20 minutes.

I think it's imperative that you meet with people from these communities so that you can get a better understanding about what is going to happen in rural Ontario if this kind of consolidation and cost reduction in order to pay for your tax reduction is more important than access to health care in rural communities. I'm asking you, will you meet with representatives from Huron, Perth and Lambton to explore the particular problems in rural Ontario?

Hon David Johnson: The member for Windsor-Riverside is talking about a process of course which was begun by him and his party when they were in government. The NDP invested some $26 million when they were in government to allocate to the district health councils across Ontario to look within their communities and to come forward with recommendations.

The restructuring commission is picking up on that process begun by the former government in all communities, and at this point in time the matter is out for public input. All of the people who have come here today, all of the people of Lambton, are encouraged to state their views, have their input. It's a very healthy process. I'm sure they will have a great deal to say and everybody is anxious to hear what they have to say.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I tabled a request on October 17 initially for order paper questions 598 to 638. There was an interim response on October 30, telling us that the information would be available November 15, 1996. Last time I checked, it was December 17, 1996, and these 40 order paper questions for the Ministry of Community and Social Services have not been responded to.

It is normally a two-week period. It has now taken two months. I would ask you to look into it and ask for the response.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will look into it.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I stood yesterday and raised a similar point of order about order paper questions that should have been answered because the ministry said they would be answered either on December 6 or, at the latest, December 12.

I put the minister on notice that I intend to stand in my place and ask that those questions be answered every day until the minister answers them. I thought I would have them today, because I asked so nicely yesterday.

The Speaker: Especially if you ask so nicely. I ask the minister to take note.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm just going to rule quickly for the member for Algoma with respect to the statement about not telling the truth. Through some crackerjack --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The statement wasn't true.

The Speaker: Excuse me? The statement wasn't true, okay. I'm sorry. The crackerjack table staff have come up with some examples of some statements in the past that have been ruled out of order by various and sundry Speakers. I could go through them all, but just to give you an example:

"The statement he made is simply not true": On February 14, 1983, it was ruled out of order.

"The member knows it to be untrue": On February 16, 1983, it was ruled out of order by Speaker Turner.

"I believe the statements he has made are blatantly untrue": By Speaker Turner on April 5, 1984.

I say to the member for Algoma, there are other points in the standing orders. There is a particular ruling in the standing orders. On page 18, ruling 23(h) says, "Makes allegations against another member." I think that basically holds true. The fact of the matter is, as Speaker, it seems to me that if you're going to say the statement is untrue, it's tantamount to saying, "You're not telling the truth" or "You're lying." I can only read it that way. If you're trying to correct the member, you can do it in --


The Speaker: If you're trying to correct the member, you can do it in so many other ways without putting yourself out of order. I appreciate the comments.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Your definition, Speaker, makes it difficult because I understand what the House wants, and that is, you don't want one person to suggest that another person is lying in the House or is somehow misleading the House. But to say that a statement isn't true, I would hope that you would take it in the context of how it's said instead of simply ruling it out.

I understand what your problem is with it, and in some cases that would certainly be something that shouldn't be accepted, but in other cases saying that a statement isn't true might be acceptable because it might be a statement they're making that somebody else made, or something of that nature. I just hope you would use some flexibility there.

The Speaker: To the member for St Catharines, all words are in order, really; it depends on the context in which they're used and how they're used. Quite frankly, I agree with you. You could be reading something into the record from another article or something, and maybe you don't agree with it and say it's not true. But the way it was suggested at the time and the context it was used in, it was a direct reflection on the minister herself and I saw it as in fact substituting "You're not telling the truth" for "You're lying."

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: For clarification, would it then be appropriate had the member said instead of, "That statement is untrue," "The statement is incorrect"?

The Speaker: Again, it's going to be the call of the Speaker at the time, but if the member had heckled, "What you're saying is incorrect," I doubt very much I would have asked her to withdraw.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is in response to Bill 84 and it's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the firefighters of Sudbury and Ontario are very concerned about Bill 84;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 endangers the wellbeing of the people of Ontario;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 needs broad provincial public hearings before implementation;

"We, the undersigned, therefore petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demand the Solicitor General to rewrite Bill 84 before being enacted into law and only after extensive public hearings across Ontario."

I sign this petition as I am in agreement with it.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I think the Minister of Municipal Affairs needs some more time to reflect on his position on the megacity and so I move adjournment of the House.

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

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1512 to 1542.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Silipo has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, please stand and be recognized by the Clerk.

All those opposed, please rise and be recognized by the Clerk.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 11; the nays are 75.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I move that we now proceed to introduction of bills.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Agreed?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

This will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1544 to 1614.

The Speaker: Order, please. Minister of Environment and Energy, come to order.

Mr Doyle has moved we proceed to introduction of bills. Would you stand and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.

All those in favour? Thank you.

All those opposed, please rise.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 51; the nays are 23.

The Speaker: We will now proceed to introduction of bills.



Mr Leach moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto / Projet de loi 103, Loi visant à remplacer les sept administrations municipales existantes de la communauté urbaine de Toronto en constituant une nouvelle municipalité appelée la cité de Toronto.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Agreed?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1618 to 1623.

The Speaker: Mr Leach has moved first reading of Bill 103.

All those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Galt, Doug

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Sampson, Rob

Bassett, Isabel

Harris, Michael D.

Saunderson, William

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Carr, Gary

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, David

Snobelen, John

Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Klees, Frank

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Doyle, Ed

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Ecker, Janet

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Elliott, Brenda

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Eves, Ernie L.

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Fisher, Barbara

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Flaherty, Jim

O'Toole, John

Witmer, Elizabeth

Ford, Douglas B.

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Fox, Gary

Palladini, Al

Young, Terence H.

Froese, Tom

Parker, John L.


The Speaker: All those opposed please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Bartolucci, Rick

Cordiano, Joseph

McGuinty, Dalton

Bisson, Gilles

Crozier, Bruce

Patten, Richard

Bradley, James J.

Duncan, Dwight

Phillips, Gerry

Brown, Michael A.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Pouliot, Gilles

Caplan, Elinor

Gravelle, Michael

Pupatello, Sandra

Churley, Marilyn

Hoy, Pat

Ruprecht, Tony

Cleary, John C.

Kennedy, Gerard

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Cooke, David S.

Martel, Shelley


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56; the nays are 29.

The Speaker: I declare the motion passed.

Does the minister have any opening remarks? I take it you don't? You do? Okay.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I just wanted to let the House know that it is a privilege and an honour to move a bill of this magnitude, a bill that is going to bring some sanity to the overlap and duplication we presently have in this area.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On another point of order, Mr Speaker: Do we have any mechanism that would allow the member for Etobicoke West to cast a vote on this first reading?

The Speaker: No, there's no mechanism.




Mr Ouellette, on behalf of Mr Palladini, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 92, An Act to promote road safety by implementing a safety rating system for commercial carriers and other measures to encourage compliance with and improve enforcement of Ontario's road safety laws and to amend various Acts administered by or affecting the Ministry of Transportation / Projet de loi 92, Loi visant à promouvoir la sécurité routière par la mise en oeuvre d'un programme de cotes de sécurité pour les véhicules de transport utilitaires et d'autres mesures conçues pour favoriser l'observation et améliorer l'application des lois de l'Ontario portant sur la sécurité routière et modifiant diverses lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Transports ou qui le concernent.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Oshawa?

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): No, we'll wait for the debate, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: You're the first one to debate.

Mr Ouellette: I'd like to add a few words to my colleague Mr Palladini's comments on the fall road safety bill.

Our government is committed to making Ontario roads safer. Last year, when we introduced our plans for road safety, we set ourselves an ambitious agenda. We have already achieved much. Based on those achievements, I believe the public can judge for themselves that this government is very serious about its commitment to road safety.

We said we would target specific driving problems, and we have. We said we would make traffic enforcement more effective, and we have. We said we would introduce measures to improve truck safety, and guess what? We have. Today's bill focuses on this last area of concern. Trucks, truck drivers and operators will feel the impact of this legislation. It is aimed at ridding our roads of the unscrupulous and unsafe, but the good drivers have nothing to fear. In fact, this legislation will allow the safe trucks, safe drivers and safe operators to compete on a level playing field.

All of Ontario's plans for action on road safety are comprehensive measures that involve many ministries and many partners. They are evolving measures that adapt to the issues they target, and they are practical measures aimed at producing practical solutions.

The fall road safety bill is another step forward in our plans. We introduced safety measures last spring. We are continuing with these truck safety measures today, and we are developing other safety measures that we intend to introduce next year.

This government will not rest. We will continue to make sure that Ontario roads are as safe as possible. I give my full support to this bill because I am pleased to do my part to change attitudes. I want to continue to do my part to reduce the deaths, injuries and destruction on our roads.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments?

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I want to say that never before in the history of the province have we seen such fundamental, bad change proposed without people having the right to think about and debate fully what is being proposed. It is my view, and I think it is the view of all the studies that have been done on the type of changes that we should have in the Metropolitan Toronto area -- none of them has recommended a megacity.

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat for a moment. We're not debating that bill at the moment. You need to be responding to the highway safety bill.

Mrs Caplan: The reason I am making the point now is because road safety in Metropolitan Toronto, I think, is one of the things that will be at stake and it will be affected if this government proceeds. We will see higher taxes, fewer services, a real impact on the community life in this great municipality, and road safety could well be jeopardized as well. Everything this government is doing is contrary to all the things they promised to do.

I remember that during the election campaign Mike Harris said, "I have no plans to close hospitals." He also said that his plan was to abolish the Metro level of government.

I will say that while I think this road safety bill has much to commend it, I am very concerned that this government is rushing headlong to create a megacity where we will see taxes increase, services decline. In fact, the greatest city in North America, the greatest city in the world, a city which has generated enormous economic prosperity for this province, namely, Metropolitan Toronto, will be tinkered with in a way that will damage our quality of life and we will be forever sorry that this government proceeded as they did.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): To the parliamentary assistant, in regard to Bill 92, I would say it was interesting listening to the comments, because I think government is beginning to understand that there is a role for government in the rules and regulations. The government, through this legislation, is finally starting to understand that if you allow things just to happen as they might, if the government doesn't play some kind of role in regulating how a particular industry operates, often it means things will happen that are not in the public interest. The government, in coming forward with Bill 92, in bringing forward this bill which regulates truck safety in the province, is finally acknowledging, contrary to the mantra they've been using in this place for the last year and a half, that regulation in itself is not a bad thing, that in fact the government can and should play a positive role in making our roads safer.

The government, in doing this, is finally starting to see the light of day and that the government does have a responsibility. Its responsibility in this particular case is to make sure that our roads are safe, and the only way you can do that is by setting out rules, such as we're doing in Bill 92 today, which put in place regulations about how truck safety is to be dealt with in the province.

It's interesting that the government is coming forward with this particular initiative. I've been listening to the government for the last year and a half and this government has been railing against regulation and saying: "We've got to get rid of all the regulations in the world because they're a bad thing. Regulations are terrible. They're a hindrance to business. They just make absolutely no sense at all." But the government is finally realizing that there is a role for government, and one of the roles the government plays is to set rules by which commerce, or transportation in this particular case, is governed. The government, through this particular bill, is finally coming to the light of day in understanding there is a positive role that it can play.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to speak in support of Bill 92. I think the member for Oshawa, my good partner here, summed it all up in his opening remarks, to say that road safety is indeed important to each and every citizen of Ontario. I think the present Minister of Transportation, Mr Palladini, has certainly put as a centrepiece to all his legislation dealing with transportation issues in this province that safety is first, whether it's truck transportation or indeed unsafe drivers.

It's a pleasure for me to address this more specifically today, as my daughter Marnie is here, and she has just driven from Western University. To see her get here safely -- indeed, each one of us over this Christmas season is always definitely concerned about the safety of our family. I congratulate the minister for taking these steps to ensure each one of us can rest assured that safety is central in transportation issues.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to comment on the member's comments on the road safety bill and to say that I think we had an indication today of the government's commitment to safety. They have determined they're going to go ahead with amalgamating Metro Toronto without any evidence that it is in fact going to save money.

In terms of road safety, here is the recommendation from the consulting firm that you paid $100,000 to. What does it say about road safety? It says: "Volunteer support to police. Storefronts run by volunteers...." In other words, we're going to get volunteers off the street: "Come and help us on road safety. Come in and look after the police station." This is what your consultant says. To do what? To report on accidents. So, no longer will police handle this. Your own consultants say, "Go out and get volunteers, unpaid volunteers, to man these police stations."

The reason I raise all of this is, here is the report that your caucus has been asked to support amalgamation on, a three-week, rushed report, designed to simply provide an unsubstantiated savings for amalgamation, and I just use one example in here, volunteers. I think the public should be outraged. What you're suggesting is, you're going to say, "Would you volunteer to go and look after the police station while we don't have police to report on accidents?" It is absurd.

What you're doing -- and every member in Metro Toronto should recognize this. Your careers and the future of Metro are hinged on a three-week study quickly devised by the Minister of Municipal Affairs; $100,000 spent, a waste of money, designed to substantiate the minister's whim.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member for Oshawa.

Mr Ouellette: I'll just say that I'll deal with the legislation, and this legislation is to deal with trucking safety. It deals with the irresponsible aspects of the trucking industry and that we're making our roads safer. I would assume the lack of debate regarding the bill by the members opposite is a sign of support of the actual legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): This bill that's before us is important to all Ontarians because it deals with a problem that the minister has tried to address and I think previous ministers have tried to address, and that is that you had a deregulated trucking industry, and as a result of deregulation there are problems that have occurred. I think the problems are very evident to most Ontarians. We've seen flying truck tires. We've seen rigs that have been stopped at blitzes; 70% of rigs sometimes stopped on the highway have been proven to be not roadworthy. This is what happens when you don't have enough standards or enforcement of standards.

In this bill, the minister is trying to close some of those loopholes, and I have mentioned that I commend him for trying to do that, because obviously these were in many cases historical shortcomings in this industry, and he has been brought on to try to tighten up the regulations and introduce some new supervision.


With the CVOR recording, I think this will certainly take some of the problems out of the irregularities in the recording of safety records, of conditions of vehicles and the auditing of trucking companies in this province. As you know, over 70% of the freight, goods and services, delivered in this province is delivered in trucks. It is an industry that has grown by leaps and bounds and it is an industry that deserves a great deal of attention.

I think yesterday we mentioned that perhaps the minister should be looking forward to taking a number of more aggressive steps, that this is one step. The other step which is critical I think is that there be a system of demerit points against truck drivers who have bad driving records or companies that operate trucks that are certainly unsafe. The minister has promised us that and we're anxiously waiting for the demerit points system to be introduced. I'm not sure when he's going to do that, but that is critical also.

The other thing that's important, and I'm led to believe that the staff and the ministry is looking at it, is the area of automatic roadside suspensions. I know it's quite complicated. In other words, what are the standards that you use to take an unsafe truck off the road? Do all the tires have to be bald, to what degree?


Mr Colle: Yes. How bad do the brakes have to be? I know the ministry staff is looking at that because I think eventually this will be another very important weapon, you might say, in the minister's arsenal to give a strong signal. It's the trucking companies that have traditionally tried to flout the laws and have maybe got away with it in the past. We have to essentially do some preventive legislation here that says to these trucking operators who are trying to cut corners that it will not be tolerated and there will be demerit points taken away. There will also be automatic roadside suspensions, which is an administrative suspension. I think that type of administrative suspension will be another effective tool, and on this side of the House, we're anxiously awaiting that kind of legislation because it adds a lot more teeth to the ministry.

The ministry obviously has changed its approach. As you know, the whole approach of the neo-conservatives is to have no regulation, a laissez-faire type of government, and in transportation that doesn't work. You can't have it. You have to have regulations. You have to have effective regulations, so I am glad to see the minister has not listened to the neo-conservative whiz kids who've told him, "Leave the playing field open, an ad hoc situation." That doesn't work and I think he's seen the light there, that you need a government that can regulate public safety. Public safety is what this bill is all about.

One of the trends, and I think the member for Scarborough-Agincourt mentioned it -- he's very concerned about the privatization of public safety. I know this is one area the Minister of Transportation is heading towards. They're trying to privatize everything, emergency services on the GTA highways, and they're privatizing inspection of road construction.

What really concerns me is what was in the KPMG report issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, where they're now even going to talk about privatizing police services. This is the most incredible piece of news that we've heard since this government -- we've heard a lot of incredible news put forth by this government. This is going to endanger road safety all across Metro. They're saying "civilianization." Now where did they get this word? "Civilianization of police services. Many jobs now done by sworn officers can be turned into civilian positions at reduced salary costs." I hope the Minister of Transportation doesn't follow this approach.

The next thing: I'm forewarning the Minister of Transportation because he is a man who listens and I respect him for that. He has been listening and I respect him for being a good listener. I don't always agree with what he's done, but he does listen and that's why I'm giving this warning to him: Don't listen to the neo-conservative whiz kids who tell you to privatize the MTO to the extent that we don't have safety out there.

The other thing the whiz kids at KPMG are recommending is, "Further outsourcing of certain police functions." I don't know what this means -- maybe the drug enforcement squad, the RIDE program could be privatized. We cannot afford that. We need trained, fully qualified, sworn-in officers to do the RIDE program and to do the truck rangers and the OPP. We need those trained and sworn-in officers, because they have the respect of the public.

Then the whiz kids are saying to have this white collar crime unit: "Fraud and white collar crime services. Potential exists to contract out fraud investigations to private firms" -- does this mean like the Matt Helms of this world, the Mickey Spillanes? -- "which have the skill and the experience to investigate these matters and present the evidence to crown counsel for assessment and prosecution." In legislation you can't privatize people who are doing audits. In some of these trucking firms, there is fraud taking place where they're trying to fudge the CVOR records. We can't have that privatized. Let sworn-in officers do that.

Another thing they're recommending in privatization of police and inspection which is very dangerous: "Differentiated services. Further potential exists to differentiate those duties which call for a fully trained police officer from those which could be done by someone with the powers of arrest but not a fully trained police officer."

The Minister of Transportation knows -- I know that in the installation of wheels he has brought in a very good program on wheel installation so that it will prevent a lot of those flying truck tires. In fact, they've organized a training program for wheel installers. You need training and you need education. What is the Minister of Municipal Affairs recommending? He's recommending that someone could be arresting people but is not a fully trained police officer.

The other thing: We can't afford to have volunteers do our policing on our highways. It doesn't work. The Minister of Municipal Affairs is recommending volunteers support the police, storefronts run by volunteers. I can imagine one of these storefronts run by volunteers in Parkdale, in areas of the city where crime has been beaten down because of trained police officers. The trained police officers on the front lines have beaten down crime in places like Parkdale and in my area of Oakwood. Now to say all of a sudden you're going to replace this with storefronts run by volunteers -- this is incredible.

The Acting Speaker: Could I ask the member to come back to speak to highway safety, please?

Mr Colle: What I'm pointing to is the fact that you've got to have trained people, trained officers to make sure our highways are safe and to make sure our streets are safe. It's the same thing, Madam Speaker. You can't do it by volunteers. That is the approach the Mike Harris government is now taking.

If you're going to bring in volunteers, not fully qualified officers, to do policing, what kind of message are you giving to the Ministry of Transportation in terms of truck safety? Is the Premier now saying that you've got to get away from the training of officials to install wheels, that you've got to get away from the training of the truck troopers and the OPP Highway Rangers? They are fully qualified officials, trained, educated, sworn in. They have the respect and the authority to do it.

What I'm concerned about is that transportation not follow the lead given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and his Premier saying that you now go to volunteers to inspect trucks, that you go to volunteers to do RIDE programs and inspect our highways. That is not going to fly. No matter how much money this will save, you need to invest in trained, highly qualified civil servants and police officers. There's no way you can do that across Ontario's provincial highways without having the most highly qualified individuals. It's a very dangerous trend we're in right now and I hope MTO doesn't go down that road.

I know that in Bill 92 there's an attempt to say that a government must keep a very close eye on the trucking industry, because when governments have not done that and have assumed that the private sector would police itself, obviously those of you who are believers in the private sector as manna from heaven now know that the private sector has failed miserably when it comes to truck safety.


I know the Minister of Transportation comes from the private sector and he knows there are many benefits in the private sector and many advantages, but there are also shortcomings. That's why the minister had to step in, because he himself saw that the private sector was not fulfilling its commitment to road safety.

That's not all the trucking companies, but there was a significant number of trucking companies that over the last number of years have been flouting the law. Truck after truck has been on our highways endangering life, limb and property on a daily basis, and that has to stop. That's why this bill at least recognizes the fact that government has a critical role to play in truck safety and safety on our highways.

I know that the new registrar is going to be given much more power under this act, and I hope that the registrar who is appointed -- in fact, he has been appointed already. It's a former MTO official. I think he is a very conscientious individual and I wish him well because he has a very difficult job ahead of him. I hope that he has the staff to direct a comprehensive safety audit, a comprehensive monitoring of the CVORs, the commercial vehicle operators' registrations, that they be audited on a regular basis so there aren't any more of these fly-by-night companies that are flouting the law.

One of the concerns I have in this bill is also in terms of what happens to the out-of-state -- or I should say the trucking companies that are in the United States and the trucking companies that operate outside of Ontario borders. Will our officials have the wherewithal to ensure that all the documentation, all the records that may be kept in the parent company in Quebec or kept in perhaps one of the adjoining states are available to our officials at all times? As you know, there are a variety of out-of-country trucking firms, hundreds and thousands of trucks today on our highways, that use our highways, that are not Canadian or Ontario owned..That is another area of challenge that I know the minister is going to have.

Also, Highway 407: What happens with those trucks that are out-of-state -- I should say from the States, from Quebec? Will they be able to track them down to pay the tolling fee? I know the province of Quebec has problems with some of that legislation because they don't recognize any evidence taken from photo cameras.

The other problem is there are no agreements in place with the American states in terms of collecting tolling fees. That is of great concern because the trucking industry in Ontario is not an Ontario-only industry. It is North American, and with free trade, I can imagine what's going to happen when the Mexican trucks come up here. I'm not looking forward to that day. I don't know if the minister has a contingency plan for the Mexican trucks coming across the border, but I'm certainly very concerned that perhaps there should be a plan put in place for the Mexican trucks when they come across. Frankly, their standards in Mexico, in certain areas of safety, are not up to Canadian standards.

When those Mexican carriers come up here, we certainly have to have a response that's immediate, to send the Mexican carriers a very stern message that we mean business here in Ontario, that we're not going to allow them to flout our laws, as a lot of our own Ontario trucking firms have done and a lot of American firms have done.

Our highways will be open to people from all over the world and our motorists deserve the highest level of protection. No one is immune from a flying truck wheel. I mentioned just last Friday that there was another flying truck wheel on Highway 11. Luckily no one was hurt. It took two days to find out where the truck wheel came from, but they tracked it down.

There has to be almost a total reversal in attitude from the political ideologues across the way in terms of the way they approach regulation. I know some of you don't believe in regulation and think that's a dirty word, but in truck safety and road safety good regulation is critical, because what it means is not only $450 million lost in Canada as a result of accidents, but the congestion on our highways. I know that back in June there was a nine-hour meltdown because an accident happened near Port Credit. The Speaker will remember that. Almost all of the GTA came to a standstill because of a trucking accident down the QEW near Port Credit.

It's not only a matter of safety; it's also a matter of cost. That congestion on the QEW which closed down almost all of the western part of the GTA must have cost all the distributors and commercial conveyors of goods and services probably over $1 million, I'm sure. You can imagine the time lost, the gasoline, the diesel fuel etc. We also had a fuel spill recently too, where there was a $500,000 cleanup cost because a truck tipped over.

It's not only in terms of danger; it's also in terms of the cost that is incurred by innocent motorists. Almost every day on the 403 or the 401 you can see there's been a major tie-up because of some rig that has turned over, some rig that's had a major accident.

It's not like a car having an accident because these rigs sometimes hold very volatile, dangerous fuel, so it means the whole highway gets shut down. I think the police are doing the right thing. They can't take a chance. If you've got a potentially flammable liquid in one of those tankers, it could mean a serious loss of life. So far our front-line OPP officers have done a fantastic job of containing those spills, of ensuring there aren't further ripple accidents caused by that truck tipping over.

That's why it's critically important we realize that whatever money we spend in doing more audits, in setting up more regulations -- good regulations -- that control trucking in Ontario saves money, saves lives, saves hospital bills and saves literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year in congestion. We know that in the GTA it costs operators about $1 billion a year in lost time and energy costs as a result of congestion. Therefore, when there's less congestion, the trucks move properly, they aren't causing accidents, the roads move freely and goods and services get delivered in a more opportune and faster time frame.

Whatever type of regulation the minister brings forward, I generally support. I always ask him to make some changes, to maybe proceed a little faster, but I know he's having quite a fight on his hands with the political ideologues who don't want any more regulation. At least he as a minister has said, "I am going to get tough on trucks," and I believe him when he says that and I think he's tried. The only thing that's held him back is the ideologues who say that government should stay out of the business of highways, that government should privatize, that government has no role, that government should be basically a meek and mild person hiding under the blankets, but I think the minister's not that type of person.

The minister has said he's got a job to do and he's tried to do it despite the constraints the ideologues of the right have put on him and said: "No, don't regulate. Let free enterprise do what it wants because free enterprise is always right. Unbridled capitalism is perfect." We know that's not perfect. We know capitalism needs to be constrained. Good capitalism wants rules; bad capitalism doesn't want rules. The minister I think is a good capitalist. He wants to play by the rules. That's why he's in many cases saying, "I'm bringing forth legislation on more inspections, on demerit points." He wants to bring forward regulation on automatic roadside suspension. He's gone ahead and spent money on training truck installers and he's insisted that be done because he knows that if you leave it to just the pure laissez-faire types, they're not going to do it. What they're going to do is what they're doing and have done in the trucking industry for too long. They've said, "Take that truck out and make sure you make that delivery in time or it'll cost us money."


So the poor truck driver, what does he or she have to say? They know that if they don't take that truck out with these unscrupulous companies, they may lose their jobs. That has been too common, too prevalent on Ontario highways, and I hope we're beginning to see a change in this attitude by the trucking industry. The attitude should be one of safety first, safety second and safety third, always safety, rather than saying, "Profit, profit, profit."

The laissez-faire attitude is: "Well, just as long as you make a buck. Get out there and get that truck out there. I don't care if the tires are bald and the brakes don't work and you're overloaded; just get that truck out there. I don't care whether you've had 10 hours' sleep or two hours' sleep."

There are truck drivers who have said that. They said they've had to take these pills to keep them awake because they had no choice. If they didn't take that truck out and get there in time, they would lose their job, because there's a system in place in the last number of years called just-in-time delivery. Maybe that's the root of this problem. The just-in-time-delivery system means that if you don't deliver that load to the destination, the truck operator or the truck driver can get a heavy fine. Sometimes there have been cases of deliveries being five to 10 minutes late and they're slapped with a fine with that just-in-time delivery.

What's happened in the last number of years is that trucking firms and I guess manufacturers have found out that there isn't a competitive advantage any more in having these big warehouses. So what they do is they deliver the products right from the factory to the place where they'll be used. There's no intermediary holding area, and that's put immense pressure on the trucking companies and the truck drivers. All over Ontario there are these truck drivers and trucking firms that literally have got a gun to their heads because they're on the clock and they know if they can't get to Chatham or they can't get to Belle River or they can't get to Manitouwadge by 5 o'clock, they're going to be fined so many hundreds or thousands of dollars per minute or per hour that they're late, and that puts enormous pressure.

The member for Nepean talks about leaving on time. How can you predict whether the road is going to be snow-covered, ice-covered? How can you predict whether you're going to confront an accident on Highway 16 if you're on your way to Nepean? There's no way that poor truck driver will be able to predict that. Even though they're supposed to be in the Glebe by a certain time, if there's a truck accident down there on Highway 16, they're going to be late. So the poor truck driver is a victim of circumstance.

That is the type of thing that happens every day on our highways. I'm sure those of you who have travelled as motorists know, and I know my good friend and colleague from Cornwall will tell you, that what can happen on the road to Cornwall is that you'll more than likely run into one of those giant mega-potholes. So there you are. Because of the cutbacks, the member for Cornwall will tell you that the potholes are bigger than ever. He was just telling me today that the potty holes in Cornwall are as big as or worse than they were last year.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Tell him the truth, John.

Mr Colle: I believe my good friend. I have no reason to disagree and challenge the member for Cornwall. He drives those -- in fact, you'll recall that earlier this year his front end was totally destroyed, out of alignment, because of the potholed --


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): It was the struts.

Mr Colle: The struts -- that's part of the front end -- because he hit that pothole. Now he tells me that these potty holes, as he calls them, are back and are bigger than ever. I was relating that example of my good friend from Cornwall in terms of what could happen to a truck driver. If you're on a truck route going to Cornwall or you're going across to Hawkesbury, you're trying to get to Quebec, whatever it is, and you run across a road --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Go to the casinos.

Mr Colle: No, truck drivers don't go to casinos. They don't go to casinos, I've been told.

Anyway, truck drivers can run across a bad stretch of highway and that bad stretch of highway could cause damage to their truck. It could also very easily take their brakes out of alignment -- I should say it could do damage to their brakes -- and therefore they're delayed in their delivery. I know there's a lot of pressure on our trucking industry, on our truck drivers, because of the just-in-time delivery system. That's something that is really up to the owners, the captains of the trucking industry, to change their attitudes on.

I read a letter here yesterday from an anonymous truck driver who was afraid of being mentioned. He said, "I was fired because I was the chairman of the safety committee." Every trucking firm in this province should be setting up a safety committee and encouraging these truckers to form safety committees rather than firing them. The minister should go around the province encouraging the setting up of local safety committees with almost every trucking firm that's of a reasonable size or so. What's wrong with that? That would be preventive medicine. You wouldn't need to have as many inspections, possibly, if you knew that in every truck yard there was a good safety committee that was getting a pat on the back, not a kick in the rear end, from the trucking company owner.

But right now there still are too many unscrupulous trucking company magnates who are kicking good drivers in the rear end and saying, "Either get out on the road or don't ask me about truck safety." They're saying, "Get that truck to Montreal, get it up to Hawkesbury, and you've only got nine hours to do it." That attitude has got to change. I know the minister has been working to try and change that attitude. As he progresses to understand that he has a critical role to play in highway safety, I tell the minister over and over again, don't listen to the whiz kids who say that the private sector will take care of our roads. I know he's privatized the maintenance and the plowing of roads in the Chatham district, and they're going to do it all across Ontario. I know he gave in on that one to the whiz kids who said, "Privatize, privatize, privatize."

You know what's going to happen? As you privatize -- and the minister has been sold a bill of goods on this privatization mania -- the whiz kids will be proven wrong, because what's driving that private sector consortium that is now in charge of road safety in the Chatham area, let's say, to do a good job, to plow the road or to fix the potholes? They're going to be driven by profit, and I hope that profit will not be put ahead of safety. This is a definite trend that this government has embarked upon, the trend of privatization. Just as they've embarked on this megacity madness, so have they embarked on the privatization madness. I worry about this trend towards unbridled privatization.

We would not argue with you, and I would not argue with the good Minister of Transportation, on some privatization. We all know that some things should be privatized, but not full-scale privatization.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Like what?

Mr Colle: Privatize the Corel Centre.

Mr Baird: What should we privatize? Tell us, Mike.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Tell us, Mike.

Mr Colle: I want to get off that. The time has come for the minister to take more bold steps to ward off the privatization hordes, because sooner or later they will sell him a bill of goods, will ask him to privatize even his own ministry's name. They may want to call it the Ministry of General Motors. For a buck he might sell the name of his ministry. I don't know. I hope he doesn't do that. I know he wants to sell off the names of subway stops and he wants to do something about hamburger signs on the highways. I tell him, be careful, Minister, you're going into dangerous waters, because before you know it we'll have such a selloff of everything.

As I said, they're going to start calling Nepean Corel. He'll be the member for Corel. For a thousand bucks you can be the member for Corel. Every time, Michael Cowpland will be happy because he gets his name mentioned, and the member for Nepean will be the member for Corel.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I appreciate your attention, because I know you have to use the Queen Elizabeth Way and you know how important roads are to the people in your good area in the wonderful city of Mississauga.

I thank the minister for taking this one small baby step but I want him to take some giant steps. I know you're capable. Don't listen to the whiz kids. Listen to the truck drivers, listen to the ordinary people, Minister; you can't go wrong. And listen to the member for Cornwall, who knows that potholes are back. Don't let them come back. Make our roads safe; make them sound.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary Carr): Questions or comments?

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I just wanted to make some brief comments on the member for Oakwood. He ended up talking about potholes, and it's quite true. In northern Ontario we have potholes inside of potholes. It's no wonder that the wheels are falling off the transports as a result of poor maintenance on Highway 11 and Highway 655.

We did a survey a number of years ago and there were somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 transports coming up through northern Ontario travelling from the east to the west, and they have no choice but to go along Highway 11. We saw all kinds of incidents where the companies have said: "You must get that transport load delivered on time. If it's not delivered on time we're going to dock a certain amount of money from the cheque you're going to get." As a result, they have no choice but to cut back on what would be a safe transport and the amount of time it takes to deliver that load.

I'm sure you have transport drivers out there who are overtired; they haven't done the safety checks on the transports, and they've maybe been driving with no breaks. There are all kinds of examples of transports being pulled over.

I'm sure that with the legislation being introduced today on the megacity, they're going to see the same thing in Toronto as they see in northern Ontario when they start privatizing the roads and privatizing the transportation system. We're going to be back to the system we have.

We see that they're cutting back on dollars. They're not going to put the passing lanes that they were supposed to put between the town of Moonbeam and Smooth Rock Falls. As a result, safety is going to be put at risk. We don't even have shoulders wide enough that you could pull over. Now, when a transport wants to get off the road to check his tires, they have to get an OPP officer out there with flares on the front and flares on the back because there is no room to pull off to the side. People are being put at risk. School buses travel these roads bringing kids back and forth to school.

I agree with what the member for Oakwood has said, that this bill is in the right direction but it doesn't go far enough to make the roads safe.

The Acting Speaker: Further comments or questions? The member for S-D-G & East Grenville.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I want to commend you. This is one of the first times I've seen you in the Speaker's chair, and you're doing an admirable job. Congratulations.

As to the comments of my colleague the member for Oakwood, I must tell him that he has certainly not been to eastern Ontario recently. I am proud to tell the honourable member for Oakwood that there was more pavement laid in eastern Ontario this year than the five previous years put together. The shoulders on Highway 416, on 417 and on 401, where the pavement was ground up and put back -- the 401 and the 417 are in the best condition I have ever seen them, bar none.

I want my colleague from Cornwall to comment, indeed, on how bad or how good Highway 401 is. I am very proud of the Minister of Transportation to have brought in this additional safety bill, Bill 92, which will further protect the drivers using our highways, our very much improved highways.

The Liberal Party, when in power from 1985 to 1990, promised on half a dozen occasions: "Highway 416 is coming. It's coming, it's coming, it's coming." Gilles Pouliot at least built a couple of overpasses and started it. This government will complete it in time and it will be a first-class, four-lane highway leading from the International Bridge at Johnstown to our nation's capital.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I am proud to be a part of a government that is living up to what it has said it would do. To the member for Oakwood, come to eastern Ontario. You're welcome and your car will not go out of alignment.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments?


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Cornwall.

Mr Cleary: First of all, I'd like to congratulate the member for Oakwood for a fine speech. I would have to say if I was the Minister of Transportation I would be ashamed of the way the roads have been over the past fall season. I've never seen it worse in my lifetime. I know that they have improved quite a bit over the summer, but there are areas the potholes are starting to come back. There's a layer out again, and if they don't get something into that we will have the same problem again this winter.

I've had many horror stories in my constituency office where transports have lost their wheels due to the potholes in the past winter. Also people have flipped their cars. I know the member for S-D-G & East Grenville is talking, but a lot of this happened in his riding. I know the other thing, that we're lucky to have good Samaritans in eastern Ontario on provincial highways; old Highway 2 where a good Samaritan helped fill the potty holes.

There are 72 kilometres of highway that are going to be turned back to the municipalities and the funding isn't going to go with them. You're going to get less than 60% of what it costs to rebuild that highway. I think that is very unfair. If that's not downloading on the municipalities, I never saw it. They just have the same dollars they had before and they can't afford it.

There have been lots of horror stories. The member for Oakwood mentioned my car. It was the struts; I just want to correct that. I hit a potty hole near Belleville, and it ended up with two new struts.

Anyway, the minister wants to keep an eye on his roads because they're going to be bad --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is up. Further questions or comments?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I thank the member for Oakwood for his usual very factual and very good presentation.

People opposite, members of the government, take credit for spending more on blacktop. Well, let me read from the Common Sense Revolution. It says: "At the same time, $300 million will be trimmed from the transportation ministry's capital budget." That's right here. You're not going to build more with less, not when it comes to transportation. They've taken $300 million out of the heart of transportation, which is its infrastructure.

Furthermore, they've trimmed $6.5 million out of the winter maintenance, with the result of fatalities, more people in the ditch. They talk about the soft shoulders. Well, up north we're concerned about the section between the soft shoulders. You have 30 and 40 kilometres and it tells you, "bumps, bumps, bumps." They should stop advertising those bumps. They should fix them.

I, for one, can attest that the section of Highway 614, a secondary highway between the town of Manitouwadge and the Trans-Canada Highway 17 -- and I've lived there for 31 years -- the standard, the plowing, the maintenance during winter was better when I was Minister of Transportation than it is now. At one time there were just about as many plows on Highway 614 as there were cars and trucks, and now it's the very opposite. You hardly see one.

You can't cut inspectors, you can't auction machinery to the first bidder and have the same standard. It's just not done.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: I appreciate the comments from the member for Cochrane North, who has a real message about northern highways. They're the lifelines up there, and we just can't cut any money on safety. That's what we're worried about, safety, and I think you should spend money on safety.

To the member for S-D-G & East Grenville, I do take up his challenge. I will be going up to the Ottawa Valley and eastern Ontario -- I think it's a beautiful part of this province -- and I'm going to go by way of Kingston and Cornwall and then up to your part.

It brought to mind the Duplessis era. Because in the Pontiac region they always voted Liberal, Duplessis would never pave Highway 5, so the poor people of Pontiac, going up Kazabazua or Lake Danford way, never got any -- finally, they did get it. That was on the Quebec side.

I hope that paving and the road construction is spread all over Ontario, not just in your party's ridings. In Cornwall, Kingston, the north, we all need highways; in Pembroke. Let's spread the good, safe highways around.

I'd also like to congratulate the former minister, the member for Lake Nipigon. He did start 416 and I think credit should be given. For years I travelled that highway and I was disgusted to go up to the nation's capital and find that highway in such condition. I hope you finish it and do it in good time.

Just in conclusion, on this side we don't mind investing in safe roads and safe highways, because you're investing not only in fewer accidents but in the economy of the province. They are a treasure of this province. Let's not let them deteriorate to what they were before. The member for Cornwall brought the pothole problem up. Let's get back to business.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bisson: I'm going to have about a half-hour to make comments on third reading of Bill 92, which deals with truck safety. As I said yesterday, as we rushed through second reading debate so that we can today rush through third reading debate, although the government is moving in the right direction in this bill and the New Democratic caucus will be supporting the government in its initiative, there are a number of flaws within this legislation.

It comes back to the point that often what happens is that governments, in their haste to get their agenda through the House because they've got bigger fish to fry, such as merging the six municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto into one big megacity called Toronto, try to get legislation like this through the House real quick. So there's little time for debate, and often what ends up happening is that legislation ends up being passed that in the future can become problematic because of problems within the legislation.

I come back to the point I made yesterday. I think most members of this House, and I assume some of the backbench members of the government as well, would recognize that there's a greater role members could play, a constructive role in this House, if we were to try to reform the Legislature to give backbench members of the government and members of the opposition more ability to have real debates on this kind of legislation. That way, we could talk about the pros and the cons of moving to regulation, as an example of what this bill does under truck safety, and we'd be able to get into the specifics and deal with the question, is the government's attempt to re-regulate the trucking industry as it applies to safety being done properly?

If you take a look at this bill in a fair amount of detail, I would say, on balance, that about 60% to 75% hits the mark and is a step in the right direction, but I think maybe 35% or 40% of this bill is really lacking and there are problems with the bill itself.

I go back to the point that we need to find a way one day in Ontario to make this Legislature work better for the people of the province and not just have a Legislature that operates, as it does now, where the government of the day, because of its majority and because of the government House leader's haste to pass the government's agenda through, shoves through pieces of legislation into the Legislature and we don't have proper time to debate bills and send them into committee so we can do a really, truly good job of trying to make the bill work.

If people have a problem with government and if people have lost interest in government and have lost faith in government, I think that's one of the reasons. I think people tune into the parliamentary channels, they watch the debate and they say, "There are some good points made by the government and there are good points made by the opposition," but what comes of it? We listen to the debate and we see a government that brings in a bill yesterday at second reading to deal with truck safety and the very next day comes back with the same act, with no changes, to get into third reading. I think people say, "What's the point of having this debate if we're not going to do something and if the debate doesn't come to something in the end?"

I feel -- I'll say it out loud -- that the British parliamentary system we have is a good system. It has served us well. I think this system, as compared to other democratic systems, is probably a superior system to what we have in places like the United States. But I don't think we should just stand on the status quo. The government should be looking seriously at trying to do parliamentary reform, not dealing with trying to change a rule so they can shove their bills into the House even faster, at breakneck speed, giving members of the opposition and the back bench of the government even less opportunity to debate legislation. We should be trying to turn our attention, for example, to how we legislators deal with sections of this bill which are a problem. What do we do?

Members of the public, I can tell you that as the critic for the New Democratic caucus on transportation I've had a number of people in the trucking industry, and I've had a number of people who are concerned about truck safety, come to me to talk about this legislation, in some cases to ask for our party's support in supporting this legislation, and in other areas saying, "We support the legislation but we don't think it goes far enough," or, "We think there are flaws within the bill." They want us as members of the opposition, and I would imagine they went to you as well in the government -- I was in government; I remember how it works -- where they came forward and said, "Could the government amend subsection 47.1(4), because we see there's a problem in that section and we would like to have it addressed?"

I say, as a member of the New Democratic opposition, "Certainly, I will make sure I bring your views forward to the Legislature, and when the bill comes to committee I will make sure that issue is raised and the government gives it due consideration." Unfortunately, because of the nature of the beast here, the government wants to sit through the months of January and February to deal with the megacity proposal, to make one big megacity in Toronto, where the city of Timmins will be sort of like a suburb of Toronto by the time you do this whole amalgamation. We're not doing proper justice to this particular bill.

As legislators we could have all come out of this at the end of the process with a much superior bill if the government had found a way of really dealing with the real issue. This government pronounces itself in favour of reforming local government. This government comes in and pronounces itself in favour of reforming the electoral system of provincial government. But they're really missing the mark. They're not dealing with the real issue of, how do you make this Legislature work so people in the trucking industry who have problems with Bill 92 know that in the end they're going to get their say, know that in the end their points of view are going to be brought forward to the floor of the Legislature, and that when they are, possibly something will come of it?

I can tell you, in meeting with people like Mike Breaugh, who represents people in the trucking industry, and many others I met through the course of this legislation coming before us, they have a number of concerns and they're saying these concerns are not being addressed through the process we are in.

I just wanted to start with that in debate and say that we need to finally in this province try to find a way of getting legislation dealt with in a much better way so that people can once again have confidence in their governments, can have confidence in their elected representatives, knowing that they are going to have their say, that they in the end will be heard and that something may come of their attempts to bring their views to the opposition or government members, that we end up with better legislation.

Why is it the government brings this bill? This government brings this bill for a very simple reason. It brought it to this Legislature because literally the trucks are flying off the wheels of transport trucks in this province as a result of what's happened with deregulation.

Mr Baird: The trucks are flying off the wheels.


Mr Bisson: Excuse me, did I do it right? I got it the other way around. Oh, the trucks are flying off the wheels.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You got it right. No wonder we need reform in this place.

The Acting Speaker: Okay, order, please.

Mr Bisson: The trucks are flying off the wheels. What's the point? Listen, you haven't seen some of those 18-wheel monsters.

Mr Pouliot: A car black or a black car, it is the same vehicle. Give me a break.

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


Mr Bisson: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. That was amusing.

The government comes to us with this legislation for a very simple reason. There has been a public outcry in the province of Ontario over the past number of years.

First of all, I can tell you that outcry certainly existed while we were in government. I remember that the former Minister of Transportation, the honourable member for Lake Nipigon, and the minister after him, the member for Cambridge, who was Minister of Transportation, were quite appalled at what was happening in the trucking industry as a result of deregulation of our trucking industry on the part of another Conservative government in Ottawa by the name of Mr Mulroney's government, which had moved to deregulate the trucking industry federally. As a result of that, much of the regulation that ensures truck safety was thrown out the door, because the Conservatives in Ottawa, as the Conservatives here in Ontario, said, "If you just deregulate, if you just let the private sector do it themselves" --

Mr Baird: Leave the Conservatives in Ottawa alone.

Mr Bisson: There was a Conservative in Ottawa. He's right there. I see him.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): There was only one.

Mr Bisson: You were there, so you remember it well.

"If you can only deregulate, if you can only take all the regulations out of the way, if you can only allow us, the private sector, to play our role and to take our responsibilities, we guarantee you that we as a trucking industry will transport goods cheaper, we will do it quicker, we will do it better and we will do it safer." That's what they said.

I remember those debates, and I was one of the people at the time, because I was not an elected member, who looked at that with a certain amount of cynicism. I believed then, as I believe now, that if you completely deregulate an industry like trucking, you are going to end up in problems at the end, because what drives the motives of a trucking operator is the bottom line. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with them having to make a profit and wanting to make a profit and making as big a profit as possible. But if you don't have rules, as Mr Mulroney used to say, to level the playing field when it comes to truck safety standards, you're going to see, without regulation, a race to the bottom in order to get to the least amount of safety in the name of making a larger profit.

I want to say, in fairness to some of the people in the trucking industry, there are some firms under deregulation that tried to keep their trucks in a safe condition, and I would probably argue the majority of them. But there is a minority of them, some 20% or 30%, who quite frankly didn't, because they were more concerned with making a profit.

What it did is a couple of things. It first of all made our highways extremely unsafe and made safety for the motorists on our highways very much in peril as a result of unsafe trucks on our highways. The second thing that deregulating did is remove the level playing field. This is what Tories don't understand, and it really bugs me. If you deregulate, what you're doing in effect is that if 20% or 30% of those in the industry cut corners on safety in order to be able to compete and to drive their price down, in time it forces those people who want to comply and those people who want to be safe to do the same.

It's a fairly simple rule of business. If I am in business delivering goods at a particular amount per mile and some guy comes in in competition with me and offers it for less, if I want to remain in business, I'm going to have to lower my price. It's pretty simple. Or I'm going to have to do something that's pretty dramatic in regard to offering a superior service for the extra price to be able to get that customer. But more times than not, it's price that determines who gets the transportation contract.

So what happened is that those people who wanted to comply with truck safety and those companies that wanted to make sure their trucks were safe so that they took their corporate responsibility found themselves in a position where they were having to compete with individuals who didn't care about truck safety, who were more concerned about making a larger profit or in some cases just making a profit in their trucking business, especially the smaller operators in some cases, because they were in a position where they didn't have the same resources as the larger ones.

What ends up happening is that those who want to be operating safe operations say, "Listen, I'm going to go to the person who crunches the numbers in my company, and I want you to squeeze every last cent out of this operation so that I can get my rates in line with the guy who's trying to come into competition with me." What happens? Maybe we don't service our trucks as seriously as we used to before. Maybe we cut corners when it comes to safety. That's what basically happened over a period of time. Truck safety ended up becoming a determinant in how we deal with the competitiveness of the trucking industry. In other words, we put in jeopardy the safety of our trucks by making them less safe in order to be able to compete with those bad operators. People in the trucking industry are the ones who came before us and said: "You need to regulate this industry. There has to be a level playing field. The government has to take its responsibility and say, `There shall be regulations in the province of Ontario that apply to truck safety that are the same for every operator in the province of Ontario,' so we can compete on a level playing field and, at the same time, make trucking safe for the motorists of this province."

The industry came to this government and said, "We need you to do something." Actually, they didn't only come to this government, they came to our government before. I would argue that if we had been given an opportunity for a second term, our government under Bob Rae and under our capable minister, Mr Pouliot, or the member for Lake Nipigon, as I'm supposed to say, would have come forward with a bill that does similar things to what this bill does, and that's one of the reasons we're supporting this.

To put it in perspective, I just wanted to make sure that people in the House who may not follow these issues as closely as others -- I don't expect everybody in the House to understand issues of truck transportation because as members we may not be dealing with this in some cases -- and others watching know why it is that we find ourselves in the position of regulating. The federal government deregulated and, as a result, truck safety started to deteriorate, which made our highways unsafe. There was a demand from both industry and the public to do something, to re-regulate the industry to a certain extent to make truck safety a priority of this particular provincial government, and also to create that level playing field.

This is what happens. The ironic part of all of this is that it was a Conservative government which deregulated on the federal level and now it is the Conservative-Reform Party here provincially which comes before us with the wisdom of saying, "There needs to be some ability to regulate." The government is finally, after a period of time, starting to recognize that the government can play a positive role in industry, in putting in place regulations that are fair for all -- not onerous regulations to the point that companies are not able to operate.

But the government does have a role and a responsibility and can play a positive role in regulating the industry so you're able to accomplish a couple of things: (1) a safer industry, that trucks on our roads can meet a certain minimum standard when it comes to safety, and (2) that when trucking companies and individual operators out there are competing, they're competing on a level playing field, that there are rules that apply equally to all those in the trucking industry.

It's ironic that this government finally has come to terms with the notion that regulation is not a bad thing. I've listened for almost the last two years to this government saying: "Regulations are bad. We've got to get rid of regulations. Regulations are terrible. They're the worst thing. Oh, they're just so terrible. The government's got to pitch all the regulations out."

We've seen, Madam Speaker, as you well know, the government move to deregulate issues within the environment. The government has deregulated a whole bunch of issues around the mining industry. The government has deregulated many things within the forestry industry. I will say in this Legislature and put it in Hansard so that it's there for the future that that will also prove to be disastrous. It won't happen today, not today; not in 1996 will we see a very big adverse effect of some of the regulations the government has taken out or is planning to take out. But two and three and five and six and 10 years down the road, we will be paying for the folly of this government in its bid to deregulate.

The point of this government is that they really don't understand the history of this province and don't understand how it is that regulations came in in the first place. Regulations, be they for truck safety or be they for the environment, were put in place because we learned that if you didn't regulate, society would have to pay the price, either in human carnage or in dollars, later on down the road. That's why regulations were put in place.

I'll use one very simple example to illustrate the point. There have been, over the years, accidents on our highways; unfortunately, people have died from those accidents, and as a result, there were coroners' inquests into what happened. The coroner's inquest did an in-depth investigation with regard to particular accidents and found that certain things could have been done to prevent that accident in terms of truck safety or whatever it might be. The government took those recommendations from the inquest and put regulations in place to prevent in the future similar accidents from happening.

That's how regulations are born. It's not that all of a sudden the government comes before us with a bill and puts in place a whole bunch of regulations -- quite the contrary. Regulations are done through powers the ministers have, through the Lieutenant Governor in Council and cabinet, to make regulations within their ministries under particular acts, and those regulations are done in the course of the government doing business to address particular issues. That's basically what's happened.

The other thing that has to be put on the record when it comes to truck safety is that the government is trying to have it both ways here. They're on the one hand trying to say, "We want to do something about truck safety," but I think the government has probably done a lot to in a way make our highways more unsafe over a period of time.


The example of that I think is what happens within enforcement. I would ask the members of the government opposite, what are you going to do to enforce the regulations within this bill? How are you going to ensure that trucking companies in the province are actually following what's in this legislation if you don't put your money where your mouth is? It's going to mean that you're going to have to have inspectors out on our highways, and not just the number of inspectors we have now because we know there's not enough enforcement in the way of inspectors in Ontario as it is. How are you going to be able to enforce this?

You're going to have to go out and get inspectors to go through the province and inspect vehicles on a regular basis to make sure that our trucks are made safer. We know as it is right now it's a huge problem and they have a big task ahead of them. I would call on the government -- and I hear the government later, it's going to say: "Oh Lord, here the NDP is for more government. They want to hire more bureaucrats." Bureaucrats are not exactly a bad thing. Those people who are truck enforcement officers are people who are out there doing the work on behalf of the government to make our highways safer.

It takes people to do that. You're going to have to have people out on the highways who are going to be able to go out and do the inspection of these vehicles to make sure they comply with the regulations of this act, and where there are problems, that they're able to deal with that in a judicious way to make sure there is compliance, and if there isn't compliance, as through this bill, that the CVOR of the particular trucking firm be removed if it's not doing what it should be doing.

I would say to the government, and I see the minister is here, that something be done to address the question of the enforcement side of this bill, to make sure that in the end, for the enforcement section, there's enough people out on our highways to enforce the rules of this bill.

There are a couple of points I want to make quickly about the bill specifically that I started to mention earlier, as it applies to some of the problems in this legislation. I raised this yesterday and I want to raise it again. I'm going to try to do this in as easy a way as I can. Under section 17 of this bill the government attempts to allow the registrar, the new watchdog and person in charge of CVORs in Ontario, the ability to refuse the issuance of CVOR certificates to companies that are deemed to be unsafe.

One of the things the government is trying to block -- this is a good thing -- is a bad operator from saying, "I'm trucking contractor John Doe and I've been found to be in non-compliance with the requirements of this bill and my CVOR is going to be lifted," and the government is attempting to not permit John Doe, the operator of that trucking operation, to transfer his or her CVOR over to somebody else. That's good, because we know that's a problem and the government is trying to address it under this bill. But under subsection (3) you specifically say in this bill, "The registrar may refuse to issue a CVOR certificate to an applicant if the applicant is related to...a person whose CVOR certificate has been cancelled."

I understand what the government is trying to do here, but there may be problems that it will be challenged in time before the courts, because what you're in effect saying here is that the registrar -- I'll just set up a scenario. Families often end up in the same kind of businesses. The father may have been in the trucking business and the sons or the daughters have gone out and created their own businesses in the trucking industry to earn their livelihood, because that's what they learned growing up, seeing their dad in that business. So let's say there's a family of three brothers and two of them are in the trucking business and for whatever reason the father has his CVOR --

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Or his sister.

Mr Bisson: And his sister -- good point. The father has his CVOR lifted because of non-compliance with the rating system as in this act. Let's say the sister decides she wants to go out and start up her own business. She figures as a business opportunity she would like to go into the trucking business because there's a buck to be made. Technically, the registrar can, because of this section of the bill, say, "I'm refusing the granting of the CVOR on the basis that you're related to a person who has a CVOR that's under suspension." The registrar will say, "I think the reason you're going into business is because you're really going to operate your dad's business."

I say that's wrong. Yes, you need to find a way to make sure the sister, in this case, doesn't just walk in and take over her dad's business and run it under another name. You need to block that, but you can't block the ability of the sister, in this case, wanting to start up a business that might be in competition with the father's business for whatever reason.

The point I'm making is that this particular bill specifically gives the registrar the permission to refuse the issuance of a CVOR certificate to an applicant if the applicant is related to the person whose CVOR is under suspension. While I think this particular section of the bill is a step in the right direction in that it's trying to block an existing problem, I think it will be challenged in the courts.

What you should have done, what you should have said in this part of the bill, is that the registrar has the right to refuse the granting of a CVOR if in the opinion of the registrar, with evidence, they are able to prove that the person who's applying for the new CVOR will be operating the existing business whose CVOR has been lifted.

This is one of the sections of the bill that I believe could have been fixed if we'd had proper time to debate this at committee and make amendments. I agree with where the government's going and what they're trying to do, but I think the way this is worded is going to be problematic in the future. I think at one point you'll have somebody challenge this in the courts.

The other part of this bill is the powers -- and I wonder truly if the government wants to do this. Well, obviously they want to do it; it's in the bill. But I wonder if they're wise in doing what they're doing here. Subsection 17(5) talks about the powers the registrar has. It says, "The registrar may issue a CVOR certificate subject to any terms and conditions set out in the regulation that the registrar considers appropriate."

What you're basically doing there is making the registrar the be-all and end-all, the buck stops there, he or she is the boss and that person decides in the end who gets a CVOR. Granted, it will be done according to the bill and according to the regulation the minister sets out, but once those regulations are in place, that person is going to have an extreme amount of power. The difficulty I have and that others I've talked to have with this bill is that there is no good system to appeal decisions made by the registrar.

I submit that if any member of this assembly were in the trucking industry and were to have a complaint about a particular ruling of the registrar that might have gone against you, you would like to have the ability to put your case before the registrar or an independent body, if that doesn't work, to say, "Hey, the registrar may have gotten this one wrong and I want to have my case heard," so that in the end, if he or she did get it wrong, we could reverse the decision of the registrar.

This bill does not provide for that. This bill simply says that if an agent of the registrar charges you and as a result of that charge your rating increases to the point that your CVOR is lifted, you will only be able to go and make submissions to the registrar in writing, in a letter, to say, "I disagree with what the registrar is doing in this case, for the following reasons." There will be no requirement in this bill to have an oral submission. You can't even do an oral submission because the registrar under this bill has the right to say: "I'm not going to hear any oral submissions. I am only going to deal with written submissions from the person who's been aggrieved."

I think that's unfair. Most fairminded people -- and I really believe that members of this assembly, no matter what their political affiliation, should and do believe in due process. One of the places we're being a little bit overzealous in this bill is that we're going to give huge amounts of power to the registrar. The registrar will be able to determine who gets a CVOR and when that CVOR can be lifted according to the regulations, and the registrar will be the final authority when it comes to that. The danger is that if a decision made by the registrar is wrong, there's not going to be any way the operator can appeal the decision of the registrar. I don't think that's a good idea.

Members across the way are looking at me as I make that comment. I ask you to read that legislation. It's too late now. The bill's going to pass today, but I just want for the record to say this will be a problem. Should we allow operators the ability to forever, endlessly keep things tied up in court so that you can never pull the CVOR? No, of course not. That's not what I'm saying here.


What should be happening, what I would prefer to see, as a member of the New Democratic caucus, if I was writing this legislation, would be to simply say that the registrar -- conditions to the regulations as set by the minister through cabinet -- has the ability to lift somebody's CVOR if they are not in compliance with the regulations, and that in the event the CVOR has been lifted, there is an ability for the operator to have a quick appeal, not just a written submission but an actual oral submission to the representative of the registrar, so that the operator can go there within a very quick time frame, and I would say 30 days is as long as you need.

But I should say ahead of time that once you've suspended a CVOR, the CVOR is suspended until such time that it's given back. In other words, the operator couldn't hold on to their CVOR while this thing is under appeal.

So there's a quick appeal, 15 to 30 days, where the person can go before the registrar, put his or her case succinctly and present the evidence that's necessary to support his or her claim. In the event that there is a decision against the operator, there should be one final appeal that goes to an independent body other than the registrar, because that's the other problem here. The problem you're into is that the registrar is the only person who can hear a complaint against himself or herself. It is the registrar who decides what type of hearing is going to happen, and in most cases it'll be a written submission. This part of the legislation is very onerous for the operators and will be a problem.

I also want to put for the record that this will very much affect small, independent operators more than the larger fleets, because the fleets have the wherewithal, because of their size, to deal with safety issues probably a little bit easier than those who are independent operators who are trying to eke out a living driving that one truck up and down the highways delivering goods. The independent operators won't have the capital, won't have the experience to deal with the regulations within this legislation and the ability to defend themselves effectively against the registrar's decision. I say to the government, it should be trying to deal with this in a more pragmatic way.

That surprises me because I've always believed, in talking to my Conservative friends in the riding of Cochrane South -- yes, we have a few Conservatives in our riding who are friends of mine. I could name you names. As a matter of fact, some of them voted for me in the last election. They're red Tories. Most of the Tories in the riding of Cochrane South -- it's not a big secret -- are red Tories. They're not the conservative Tories we find under the guise of Mike Harris. In fact, the former member Mr Alan Pope -- we're obviously not the same ideologically but he was very much more to the left than these guys are.

The point I make is that in talking to them I've always believed that this party, the Conservative Party of Ontario, was in favour of trying to find ways for small business people to have an easier way of making a buck, but what they're doing in this legislation is quite the opposite. You're putting small truck operators in a worse position, I believe, through this legislation than the larger fleet operators who are going to be in at the end of all this. I just find that ironic. All the legislation we've seen this government do, absolutely almost everything they've done, favours the large guy, favours the large corporation, and the small independent operator, the small business person, gets it in the ear.

I'll give you a good example. Earlier this week -- just in my last two minutes here -- the government passed legislation in regard to Boxing Day. When it comes to the mall owners, when it comes to the operators of the large malls, they're ecstatic, they're so excited. They're going to be able to operate on Boxing Day. They're just beside themselves. But all the small business people I've talked to in my community are not interested in opening.

The small independent operator who has a storefront inside Timmins Square or the 101 Mall or in downtown Timmins is not interested in being there. They're saying: "Jeez, it's enough that I have to operate my business seven days a week as it is. I'd like to have a couple of days off a year, and Boxing Day is one of them." Plus they don't see that this is really going to favour them economically. If everybody was to be shut down, they'd probably do fine. But again the large company gets the grease and the little one gets the shaft. It's always the same thing.

I want to say in summation that the New Democratic Party of Ontario will be supporting this particular piece of legislation. We see this legislation as a step in the right direction. We say, however, that there are problems in this bill that the government will come to realize at a future date as the government is not dealing properly with this bill by allowing it to go to committee to fix some of the flaws.

I would also urge the Minister of Transportation to meet with the community of the town of Iroquois Falls, as they want to, to talk about truck safety and other matters as they relate to the bridges that are being transferred over. We'll talk about that at another date.

The last point I would like to make is that I call on the minister to make sure there is a proper number of people doing enforcement in the province of Ontario as it relates to Bill 92 so that we make sure that what is in this bill is actually being followed out in the municipalities.

The very last point: I ask you not to privatize that particular section of the Ministry of Transportation. I know you're keen on privatizing absolutely everything, but I would much rather see the Ministry of Transportation, through the registrar's office, doing this work, because I think it would operate it in the best interests of the public of Ontario.

Being that it's almost 6 of the clock, Mr Speaker, I will use that as a summation of my debate on Bill 92 and thank the House for the opportunity to bring my views forward.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Ditto.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I just have this: Please don't close the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines.

The Speaker: Questions and comments? Response, member for Cochrane South?

Mr Bisson: To the member for Algoma, I would say, "Ditto," and to the member for St Catharines, they shouldn't close that hospital.

The Speaker: Mr Ouellette has moved third reading of Bill 92. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

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

It now being just about 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1758.