36th Parliament, 1st Session

L144 - Tue 14 Jan 1997 / Mar 14 Jan 1997












































The House met at 1332.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Recently I received a year-end report which the Minister of Northern Development and Mines claims to be proud of. In his rosy year-end review he claims to have realigned the priorities of his ministry to become a better service provider. He did this by slashing his operating budget by 31% -- great strategy.

He also claims to have lived up to his commitment of increasing funding for roads, when the first thing his government did was cut the budget for winter maintenance to northern highways -- great strategy.

The minister claims to support job-creating initiatives in the north. I wonder, was this before or after they announced that 33% of his staff would be eliminated?

The minister pledged that his ministry would be the policy voice for the north and he did this by asking his policy advisers from Sudbury to commute to Toronto on a weekly basis, at a cost to the taxpayers of northern Ontario and all of Ontario of $483,431 this past year.

What your year-end report should have highlighted is mega-cuts to job opportunities in the north, mega-cuts to your ministry staff in Sudbury, mega-cuts to transfer payments to cities and towns of northern Ontario, mega-increases in user fees from municipalities because of your mega-cuts and mega-decreases in provincial services to the taxpayers of northern Ontario and mega-downsizing of responsibilities to municipalities that can't afford them.

This week and 1996 have been a --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): We're going to hear today in this Legislature just how badly this government is going to do on behalf of the people of this province when it comes to offloading many of the responsibilities the province presently delivers to its citizens on to the municipalities, something it promised it would not do in the last election, in its Common Sense Revolution.

What is worse is that as this government is moving forward with its agenda of transferring over all of these responsibilities to the municipalities, the ministers of this government refuse to meet with the people who are going to be affected by these particular transfers.

I have but one example with me here today. Last May 17, 1996, the municipality of Iroquois Falls, through the mayor, Mr Ken Graham, and council, asked to meet with the Minister of Transportation with regard to the transferring of provincial highways to municipalities. The municipality made this request in May 1996. When was it finally responded to? Only after a lot of work on the part of myself as the local representative in that community did the minister respond, in December 1996, almost a year later, and what was the response? "No, I can't meet with you. Let's wait until Good Roads in February."

That's not good enough. The citizens of the community of Iroquois Falls, through their council, want to meet with the minister to raise concerns. I guess what is happening here is that the minister is saying: "Listen, I can't handle what's going on here. There's so much happening." The best way to deal with this responsibility is for the minister to duck and not meet with the people of this province and that's not acceptable.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I'm quite pleased to announce to the members of the Legislature that kidney patients in Stratford and area will no longer have to travel to London for treatment, thanks to the new dialysis clinic which will soon be established at Stratford General Hospital. As part of the Ministry of Health's $25-million reinvestment into dialysis services across the province, approximately $640,000 will be made available to operate a dialysis satellite in Stratford. For people in the Stratford area, this means three days a week will not have to be spent travelling in order to receive treatment they need to live.

I'm excited by this announcement because it shows once again that the Ministry of Health has found an effective way to reinvest savings found in the present health care system. By reducing waste and duplication in the system, we're able to increase funding to the services people in this province really need. The expansion of dialysis services in Perth county is another example of this government's commitment to provide for the care that people need through quality, accessible, community-based services.

I applaud this initiative as a worthy investment and as a program which makes good common sense. It's one more step this government is taking along the road to providing better service at lower cost for the people of Ontario.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I want to address the issue of flying tires again; I see the Minister of Transportation here. The minister has tried to defend his role and the role of his government and the action they've taken to date as having some impact on the incidents we've seen; yet again yesterday, more incidents. This government and this minister have not addressed the 31 recommendations in a meaningful way coming out of the Worona inquest.

This government talked about hiring 31 new inspectors. What they forgot to tell you was that the government has announced over 70 new inspectors and that they have deliberately not filled 40 of those positions. The government hasn't told us that they're closing somewhere between 14 and 20 inspection stations throughout this province.

What this government has failed to do is listen to groups such as the CAA, such as CRASH. I urge the minister and our party urges the minister to make this process transparent, to bring out public hearings, to have a legislative inquiry so that we can discuss these issues in a meaningful way and act more quickly than this government has.

We urge the minister to recognize that the government's policy, the government's plan to date, has not been successful. We urge the minister and the government to begin to look at these questions in a public and transparent way where we can address all of them.

We want to work with the government and we want to say, "No more." We know that there are many good truck operators out there. We don't disagree with that. Where we differ with the government is that we say: "Your approach is all wrong. It hasn't worked and you ought to deal with it properly."


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Today my statement is on tax cuts and the cutbacks. On January 1 the government of Ontario gave a second instalment of a four-stage tax cut. The money necessary for this phoney tax rebate comes from cuts to shelter allowances and other welfare provisions for basic necessities for our fellow citizens who are the most vulnerable people in our society: children, single mothers and people with disabilities. This so-called gift also comes from massive cuts to transfer payments to municipalities.

In Cochrane North, Kapuskasing will receive $382,000 less this year. In Hearst it's a reduction of $180,000. Transfer payments for Smooth Rock Falls are reduced by 27%. Most municipalities, particularly the small ones, have already cut everything right down to the bone. I applaud the efforts and the tremendous work of the municipalities to try and cope with these drastic changes, but as we are seeing this week, the government has just started dumping on municipalities and there's worse to come.

To make matters worse, the government, which stands by its "lean and mean" agenda, is spending $650,000 for ads showing Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Al Leach explaining why they're making dramatic cuts. It's a real insult to the taxpayers of this province. What kind of common sense is that, when you're spending all kinds of money on advertising of this kind?

They destroyed the transportation industry in northern Ontario, they don't put sand or salt on the roads, there's no more airline industry, and it's a disgrace to see them throwing money away on advertising of this kind for Al Leach.



Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I would like to bring to the attention of the members of the House the fine work of the Belleville city community policing program in bringing Operation Red Nose to the city of Belleville.

For 10 days during the holiday season, from 9 pm to 3 am, people who needed a drive home from work or from the bar or from having an extra couple of drinks could phone Operation Red Nose. Teams of three volunteers with one donated car would ensure that both car and driver would arrive home safely. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of 337 people, who worked more than 2,200 hours, 440 clients and their cars were driven home safely from Christmas holiday parties.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to this worthy program, from volunteers who donated themselves, their busy time of the year at Christmastime, to local businesses and radio stations that sponsored the program and the organization efforts of the chairman, Richard Morris, and community police officer David Trought. Not only did Operation Red Nose make holiday travel safer in the Belleville community, but they also raised $2,000 from their constituents that they gave a ride home to to put back into the program. We thank them for the community efforts they put out.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Today 303 Ontarians, employees of the Ministry of the Environment, received layoff notices courtesy of the government of Ontario and our friends across the floor here.

Out of those, 186 were front-line workers. These were the people who inspect, who monitor, who follow up on complaints that Ontarians call into the ministry every single day. Regional offices have been reduced from 22 to 15. The Pembroke and Parry Sound suboffices of the ministry have been closed, thanks to this government; the Gravenhurst district office has been closed, thanks to this government.

In 1995 there were 31,148 complaints to the Ministry of Environment that were followed up on and monitored. Today the ministry has to follow up on roughly the same number with 40% less staff. This government has sent out a very clear message to Ontarians that the environment is not a priority, that the health and safety of people is not a priority.

The second round of cuts no longer simply concerns us as to environmental protection; what this government is doing now is endangering the lives of people across this province, because you abandoned all of the commitments that previous governments in this province have made to the environment.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. You are going to pay a hell of a price for this politically and we're going to pay a hell of a price financially for what you have done to destroy the Ministry of Environment.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I wish to say today to the government members, as they make their announcements, that all the spin doctoring in the world is not going to hide from the public what the real agenda is. The real agenda, of course, is to find the $5 billion necessary to pay for their giveaway to their rich friends, who are the ones who are going to benefit the most from the phoney tax scheme.

They're going to do this in a way that's so insidious, because it'll be paid for through services that are cut and through jobs that are lost, and their ultimate goal is to have municipalities and school boards take the political heat, because they don't even have the guts to at least stand up and say: "Yes, we made these cuts. Yes, we threw these people out of work. Yes, it was us who did that." They don't even have the guts to do that. They've got to rearrange the entire structure of the province so that somebody else takes the heat.

There are things they haven't talked about yet we know are still to come. Privatization: The announcements today are going to set up things again so that you can sell off public services to your rich corporate friends so they can make even more money than they are already from the tax cut. And what about the jobs that are already in place? What about successor rights? We have not yet heard a minister stand up and say: "No, don't worry about successor rights. Those are safe. Whatever's left of them is safe." They aren't. We know it's on the chopping block. You've already done it to tens of thousands of public sector workers in OPSEU, and God knows you've now got it in mind for CUPE workers.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm pleased today to rise and to bring some exciting news from the city of Nepean. After 16 straight years of balancing their budget, after 25 years of keeping tax increases well below the rate of inflation, after the last four years with absolutely no tax increases whatsoever, the city of Nepean is now totally, 100% debt-free.

Last week hundreds of citizens gathered for a mortgage-burning ceremony at Nepean city hall. This didn't happen by accident; it happened because the citizens of Nepean insisted on a pay-as-you-go policy. Successive city councils and an impressive city staff have turned the philosophy of fiscal responsibility into reality in my community.

People in Nepean understand the fiscal realities of the 1990s. Our government knows that families are forced to live within their means and that they expect the same values from their city hall. They know that fiscal responsibility is the very cornerstone of good local government.

The city of Nepean provides a great example for other debt-ridden governments in our area and to both the provincial and federal governments.

Imagine if the province of Ontario was debt-free. We'd have more than $9 billion each and every year less that we wouldn't spend on interest payments. Instead of sending it to the bond traders in New York City, we could be spending it right here in Ontario. We could eliminate the provincial sales tax. We could cut provincial income tax rates even more and create even more jobs than were created in the province of Ontario in the last year. That would be good news indeed.

I'm very pleased to congratulate everyone in the city of Nepean on this milestone.



Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I rise today to announce a new plan for social and community health services that will provide higher quality services at less cost to the taxpayer.

The plan starts with a simplified arrangement between the province and the municipalities. The current maze of programs is costly to taxpayers and confuses people in need.

Our plan integrates the delivery of important social, community health and housing programs at the municipal level. This will create a delivery system that is more efficient --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): That's not integrating; it's downloading and getting rid of them.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Cochrane South, you're out of order. First of all, heckling is out of order, but if you're not in your chair, you're, I suppose, doubly out of order anyway. I ask that you go back to your seat. I can't hear the statement. There will be chances for responses. Take up the opportunity at that time. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Our plan integrates the delivery of important social, community health and housing programs at the municipal level. This will create a delivery system that is more efficient and cost-effective. The province will continue its responsibilities for standards.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues the Minister of Health and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I would like to highlight a number of important decisions respecting the management and financing of social, community health and housing programs.

To enable taxpayers to share in the savings resulting from the government's reduction of welfare benefits to 10% above the average of the other provinces, the introduction of work for welfare and our crackdown on fraud and abuse, the funding of welfare will be shared 50-50 between the province and the municipalities.

We will also establish a municipal social assistance reserve as a prudent safeguard against unforeseen local economic circumstances. Today I am very pleased to announce an initial contribution by the province to this fund of $700 million.

Child care will be managed at the municipal level and cost-shared 50-50, within comprehensive provincial quality and safety standards to safeguard children. It will be a mandatory program.

Responsibility for the management and funding of social housing will be transferred to the municipalities, enabling them to address the housing needs of their communities, as they have done so well in the past.

The province remains committed to maintaining health care spending at $17.4 billion.

Municipalities will assume full funding of public health programs, with the province retaining responsibility for those programs with a province-wide reach, such as disease control and immunization.


Municipalities will assume responsibility for the delivery and financing of land ambulance services, while the province will continue to set standards. The province will continue to be responsible for air ambulances.

We have already taken important steps to improve long-term care in the province. These changes will be maintained because they improve quality and access to services. Building on reforms that have already been made in long-term care, the next step in the plan is the creation of a new provincial long-term-care agency that will coordinate the system within province-wide standards. Municipalities will assume 50% of the funding for these services.

The province will assume responsibility for full funding of children's aid societies as part of our children's welfare and children's services initiative.

The province will assume responsibility for full funding of women's shelters.

I am also announcing today that we will shortly establish a social and community health services implementation team, with members from both levels of government, to advise on the best way to manage the changes we are announcing today.

These are major changes that will benefit every citizen of the province. This new plan for integrated social and community health services will provide more efficient services and more quality services at a price the Ontario taxpayer can afford.


Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): On Monday, my colleague the Minister of Education announced that education costs will be removed from the residential portion of the municipal property tax base. Later today I intend to introduce long-awaited amendments to the Police Services Act that will bring similar fairness to the way that Ontario taxpayers pay for their policing.

At this time, 576 municipalities do not pay anything for police services through their property taxes, while their neighbours are paying their fair share. For example, the village of Wheatley in Kent county, with a population of slightly over 1,500, currently pays directly for their policing as well as through their property taxes. The district of Muskoka, with a population of more than 45,000, currently does not.

It is only fair that everyone pays for their policing. Past governments knew this was true. In fact, in 1990 and again in 1994, the Provincial Auditor brought this problem to the attention of the governments of the day, but they failed to act.

With these payments will also come local accountability. Police budgets will now be approved by municipal councils and they will appoint the majority of members to their police services boards. We believe this renewed partnership between the province, local government and the police will benefit all the taxpayers of Ontario. Our proposals will allow community leaders to play a critical role in keeping our communities safe.

It's clear to everyone interested in police oversight that the current system does not work. It is complex, expensive and slow.

These amendments will eliminate waste, duplication and overlap. After much study and consultation, we have designed a new oversight system that will offer an efficient, coordinated approach to civilian review and judgement of police actions. The new oversight system will be fair, objective and accountable to the police and the communities they serve. At the end of the day we will have a modernized, streamlined and simplified oversight system that is more responsive and accountable to the complainant. The system will now have a 30-day initial response time set for public complaints. There will also be a clear and simple appeal process if they are not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint.

We intend to merge three of the existing oversight bodies into one: the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. Efficiencies will be realized by ending administrative duplication and overlap, not by compromising civilian authority. The fourth oversight body, the special investigations unit, which deals with matters involving serious injury or death, will continue in its role as an independent and impartial investigator of police conduct under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

With these amendments, every municipality will be treated fairly since they will all contribute directly to the cost of policing. These important changes will also give local governments the authority and tools they need to best provide policing services for their communities.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Ministry statements? Responses?

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Mr Speaker, we couldn't take any more of those statements on one day, that's for sure.

In all the poetic language of the statement from the Solicitor General, I don't see anywhere that this is a downloading of $183 million from the provincial government to municipalities right across this province, this coming during a week with billions and billions more dollars being downloaded on our municipalities.

I'm also very disappointed that with the local police service boards there's not going to be that strong provincial presence that we've always had in police service boards across this province. This gave a bit of continuity for police service delivery across this province.

One thing I'd say to the minister is that he did listen to some of our responses when it comes to police oversight; it is very important that the special investigations unit, commonly known as the SIU, is separate from the Solicitor General and kept under the Attorney General. But this comes in a week when the municipalities are absolutely reeling under the offloading, and this again will contribute to higher local taxation across Ontario.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I've had a very short time to review the minister's announcement, and I just want to ask one question: Where did this come from? Nowhere do I know of any recommendation from any thoughtful source or study that has recommended doing what the minister announced today, or in fact in any advice this government has received from anyone who knows anything about creating systems that work, caring for the vulnerable, ensuring that you have accountability and appropriate responsibility.

I say to this minister that the implications of your announcement today are staggering. You simply do not understand what will occur if you continue down this path. I was recently at a meeting with experts in the health field, for example, where each and every one agreed that it would be impossible to get to an integrated health system if you remove public health and long-term care and download it to the municipal taxpayer. This has been called ludicrous and it has been called stupid, and I have to tell you I'm very worried about the implications.

Further, the impact on the most vulnerable in our society is something we should all be concerned about, because what today's announcement will do is see that we have either higher property taxes or fewer services for the most vulnerable. For children who are already living in poverty in unprecedented numbers in this province, for single women who are attempting to get out of the welfare trap, having those services on the backs of the local property taxpayer will make it impossible to ensure that those services are appropriate to the needs of those most vulnerable.

To the people in our communities who think this is going to mean lower property taxes, I say to you that it will not. It will mean a significant diminishment in the quality of life in our communities, because what's going to happen is that the province is going to call the shots, they're going to mandate the programs, and they're going to force municipalities, local property taxpayers, to pay. That's the result of this policy. Municipal representatives will say to their constituents: "There's nothing I can do. The province made me do it." You are tying the hands of municipalities, and further, you are creating inequities in health and social services across this province. The poorer municipalities will not be able to maintain the service levels and people will be seriously and negatively impacted. The evidence is clear and it is there.

This is not about better service. This is about less money for some of the most important social services that we in Ontario have prided ourselves on being able to provide to those less fortunate. Obviously what you said to your bureaucracy was, "How do we make somebody else pay, so that we can hide our cuts?" You're doing this to find the dollars for your irresponsible tax scheme and you are forcing those services where there is the greatest need and the greatest growth potential -- seniors, child care, long-term care. Shame on you.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The citizens of Ontario deserve an explanation of what is really happening here today. The citizens of Ontario will remember Mike Harris, the leader of the Conservative Party, saying, "There will be no new user fees from a Conservative government," saying that if there were any cuts made by a Conservative government, they would not result in new user fees out there, and a Conservative Party saying before the election: "There will be no cuts to health care. There will be no cuts to children."

Let us look at what is happening today. In health care, seniors are essentially being abandoned by this government. Homes for the aged, nursing homes, home care and ambulance services are all being pushed down on to municipalities. What this means is that as our population ages, as there is more need for homes for the aged, as there is more need for home care, as there is more need for these community services, municipalities will either have to ratchet up their property taxes substantially or these services are going to wither and have huge holes in them.

What we're seeing is the dismantling and destruction of our health care system, but this government doesn't have the honesty to come out and say, "We're doing it." Instead, they're going to shove it off on municipalities and make municipalities do the dirty work for them.

Let's talk about child care. Anyone who has looked at the issue of early childhood education says that the more we invest in children at an early age, the more it helps us in terms of having a good education system, in terms of being a productive society, in terms of saving other costs in the justice system and the health care system and in the education system later on. But this government is no longer going to invest in children. This government is going to push the issue of child care down on to municipalities. Once again, municipalities will be faced with either abruptly and substantially increasing the property tax or watching our child care system wither and die from a thousand cracks as well. That's what this government is really doing.

Then there's policing, from a Solicitor General who claims to speak for policing. I remember the Conservative Party saying, "There will be no cuts to policing." I remember the Conservative Party saying, "There will be no new user fees as a result of government cuts." But what's happening here today is that literally hundreds of millions of dollars of policing costs are being forced down on municipalities, and once again municipalities will either have to ratchet up their property taxes or have to start charging user fees to provide one of the most basic and essential services in an organized, civilized society -- policing.

As I said, I don't remember people voting to see health care dismantled, I don't remember people voting to see homes for the aged starved for funding, I don't remember hearing of people voting for policing to be forced down on to municipalities. Imagine what's going to happen in the future: People see that the service is falling in their home for the aged, so they call up the Conservative government. The Conservative government says: "Oh no, homes for the aged aren't our responsibility any more. What happens to seniors isn't our responsibility. Go talk to your municipality." Imagine when policing becomes inadequate and people call up the Solicitor General and the Solicitor General says: "Well, that's not my responsibility any more. Go talk to the municipality."

This is the extraction from health care, the extraction from child care, the extraction from policing, the extraction from communities of billions of dollars in order that this Conservative government can give its wealthy corporate friends on Bay Street their $200,000 and $300,000 gifts via their tax scheme. That's what's happening. Billions of dollars will come out of home care, homes for the aged and ambulance services in order that that tax break can be provided for the wealthiest. Hundreds of millions of dollars will come out of policing in order that the tax scheme can be paid for. Millions of dollars will come out of child care in order that the tax scheme can be paid for.

As I said, this is about health care cuts, child care cuts, policing cuts, community cuts in order that this government --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: This is a very serious question and I would hope you would bear with me so that I can explain the basis on which I raise this question of privilege.

It's in regard to the text of a government advertisement which was released January 13, 1997, in which the Premier of the province appears and talks about services and local government. He says: "That's why we're making government smaller, simpler and less expensive. The savings won't come from reduced services. They'll come from untangling the bureaucracy, making the system work again." Again, "That's why we're making government smaller," and so on. Then the narrator ends off the advertisement, the commercial, with a message from the government of Ontario.

Speaker, I raise this matter in a very serious vein because I think it pertains to rulings that have been made previously in this House and to rulings that have been made in the federal House of Commons.

I remind you of a headline that appeared in the Globe and Mail of Wednesday, October 11, 1989. The headline says, "Fraser Rebukes Tories Over GST Ads -- Speaker Demands Respect for Tradition." That news story resulted from a debate which occurred in the House of Commons on Monday, September 25, 1989. Questions of privilege were raised by the then Leader of the Opposition and the then leader of the third party.

The Leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable John Napier Turner, rose on a question of privilege related to ads that the government had put out on the GST prior to the passage of the legislation as if the legislation had indeed been passed, a somewhat similar situation, I submit, to the current situation in this Legislature: an ad that has been put out by the government, paid for by the taxpayers, which talks as if legislation dealing with government restructuring and the changes in services and who is responsible for what had indeed been passed.

I would refer you to some of the comments made in that debate in the House of Commons. Mr Turner said: "I submit to Your Honour that the advertisement not only misrepresents the substance of the text but the procedure to which it is subject under parliamentary rules. It prejudices the proceedings that are now before the committee of the House, the standing committee on finance, as well as prejudicing future proceedings and decisions of the House itself."

He goes on later to say -- and these are comments from the Hansard of September 25, 1989; this is in translation -- "These advertisements violate our parliamentary tradition in two more ways. They prejudice the proceedings that are now before the standing committee on finance as well as prejudicing future proceedings of the House itself. Mr Speaker, these ads constitute a breach of the rights and privileges of all members and a contempt of Parliament."

Further on, Mr Turner says: "I point out to you, Mr Speaker, the definition of `contempt' contained in the 20th edition of Erskine May's Parliament Practice, chapter 10, page 143: `It may be stated generally that any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.'"


Further, the leader of the then third party, Mr Broadbent, intervened in the debate and made some comment: "If all of these changes that the government asserts in its advertising are going to take place with the considerable detail outlined in the advertisements put in the papers, what, we ask, is the relevance of the hearings?" -- that is the hearings of the committee.

Further he says: "There surely is a contempt of Parliament by proceeding with these ads before Parliament has agreed. Beyond that there is a contempt for the people of Canada if they say they are going to have hearings across the country and not pay the slightest attention to what the people of Canada have to say."

With respect to this, I point out that on a number of occasions in this House ministers have said the government is going to have hearings, committee hearings, on the various pieces of legislation that are coming down in this session. Surely if those hearings are to have any meaning, they cannot then be advertising as if these pieces of legislation indeed have been already passed.

I refer again to Mr Broadbent's comments: "I can express my own opinion that the content was obviously drafted in a cavalier manner. There is an element of confidence, if not of boldness, in the use of the phrase as a definition as `save this ad.'"

The next quote is a quote from the Honourable Speaker Fraser. Mr Speaker Fraser said: "I want this House to understand very clearly that if your Speaker ever has to consider a situation like this again the Chair will not be as generous. This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur. I expect the Department of Finance and other departments to study this ruling carefully and to remind everyone within the public service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy nor a so-called administrative democracy."

Further he rules: "This advertisement may not be a contempt of the House in the narrow confines of a procedural definition, but it is, in my opinion, ill conceived and it does a great disservice to the great traditions of this place. If we do not preserve these great traditions, our freedoms are at peril and our conventions become a mockery. I insist, and I believe that I am supported by the majority of moderate and responsible members on both sides of the House, that this ad is objectionable and should never be repeated."

Those are very strong words from the Speaker of the House of Commons on September 25, 1989.

I'd like also to refer to a ruling that was made on Monday, March 28, 1994, by the Honourable Speaker Warner when a similar question had been raised in this House by the late former member for Nepean, Mr Daigeler, on March 21, 1994. In his ruling Mr Speaker Warner said: "On Monday of last week, the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler) rose in the House on a question of privilege concerning an advertisement that had appeared in certain newspapers in the Ottawa-Carleton area" -- these advertisements were about Bill 77, which was before the House at that time at first reading -- "...remarks which can be interpreted as suggesting that the bill would become law by a specified time even though the bill had only received first reading," I submit, a situation very similar to the one we find ourselves in today.

Mr Warner goes on further to say that he had reviewed the ad that appeared on February 8, 1994, in the issue of the Ottawa Citizen in light of the parliamentary authorities. He then refers to Speaker Fraser and says, "In the course of ruling that there was no case for breach of privilege or for contempt, Speaker Fraser of the House of Commons found that the advertisements" that were referred to in the federal House "were essentially informational in nature and that there was no intention to infringe the privileges of the House."

Then he says finally: "In view of these rulings, and after careful consideration of the present circumstances, I find that a prima facie case has not been made out.

"However, I want to say to the minister that this action has come very close to contempt, and in the future the minister should exercise more caution and exhibit greater respect for the proprieties of this House."

I thank the member for Nepean for bringing this matter to my attention.

Here we have two situations where a government, one at the federal level and the other in Ontario, had issued advertisements about legislation that was before the House and about which there had not yet been public hearings but which had public hearings promised. Surely the purpose of public hearings is to hear the views of the public and to amend or withdraw legislation based on the presentations made by the public. If that is not the purpose of public hearings, then they have no purpose.

For that reason, I ask you, Speaker, to review this advertisement, to review the rulings of Mr Speaker Fraser and Mr Speaker Warner, to admonish the government to withdraw this ad and to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): If you want to rule on that, I have one that's very similar but not exactly on that. I don't know whether you want to comment on that first or hear mine first.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I think I'll comment on the one the member for Algoma brought up. Any other points? No. Then I will do as the member for Algoma requested: I'll take that under advisement, reserve and report back at the earliest possible convenience.

The member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: Mine will be somewhat shorter but it deals with a similar subject that all members worry about, depending I guess on what side of the House they sit on more often than not, and that is the whole issue of government advertising and how you, as the chair of the Board of Internal Economy, deal with this.

The reason I say this is that whether you're sitting in the opposition or the government, the government has almost unlimited resources to advertise its position. We all have the ability to speak through the news media or directly to the public through this House, which I think is very commendable, but governments have far more latitude to spend money to place their position before the public of the province. The opposition does not have the same resources to be able to do so. We as members have rules we must follow which confine us to providing information; not self-serving, partisan information, though I know some people interpret it from time to time to be that way. I don't want to pretend it's not.

My concern is that the government is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on what I consider to be self-serving, partisan advertising -- perhaps the government doesn't consider it to be that way; I respect that -- while the opposition is confined to not doing so by the rulings of the Board of Internal Economy.

If the government were using the resources of the Conservative caucus bureau, that may be a different interpretation, but what I'm asking you is whether you believe you have any jurisdiction at all -- because you may not; I understand that -- to restrict the government from self-serving, partisan advertising of the kind I believe is going on at this time.

The Speaker: It's a very interesting point of privilege the member for Algoma brings forward and also the member for St Catharines.

Speaking at this point in time, I'm not certain of the amount of jurisdiction I have with respect to expenditures by the government that would be classified as advertising etc. It is certainly something I would like to investigate, take under advisement, and I'd be very prepared to report back, on not only the member for Algoma's privilege but also the member for St Catharines's.

If that's it, then we can move to question period.




Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services, whose announcement today I can sum up in five simple words: more property taxes, less compassion.

Today the province of Ontario announced it will completely abandon its responsibility for health promotion, food safety, water quality control and ambulances. You've abandoned fully one half of your role in caring for our seniors, and by doing so you have said that long-term health care for seniors is no longer a priority. On top of all this, you're dumping one half of the cost of welfare on to the municipal property taxpayer.

As a result, not only will the levels of service be unequal in every town and city in Ontario, but huge extra costs will be added directly to the municipal property tax bill of every homeowner in the province. Is your income tax cut really worth not only higher property taxes but also abandoning your responsibility for the needy?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): We are doing no such thing. There is no abandoning of the social programs in this province. One of the strengths of the social programs in this province has been the municipal component of those programs. Municipalities have been delivering. They've been delivering well, they do it extremely well, and what these changes do is build on that expertise. This is about better services in a less tangled, less confusing way, in a way that taxpayers will be able to afford. That's what these changes are all about.

Mr McGuinty: The smoke is billowing, but we can see through it. You know, Mike Harris was very fond of saying that there's only one taxpayer. I can tell you that taxpayer is in for a big surprise when the Mike Harris portion of the property tax bill is going to arrive. They can kiss their income tax cut goodbye. The Common Sense Revolution promised that property taxes would not increase. Your announcement today ensures that they will. By exposing local property taxpayers to the volatility of welfare costs and giving them responsibility for the increasing costs of caring for our seniors, you have guaranteed increases in property taxes right across the province. Will you not admit that all you did today was create another smokescreen of chaos to hide the real cost of your tax cut, which is a property tax increase?

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect, the only person who is having difficulty seeing through the smoke is the member of the opposition across the way. We have taken a service -- education -- where school board expenses were growing at 80% in the last 10 years, we have taken that program off the backs of the property taxpayers. What they have been replaced with are programs where there is cost-sharing and an ability to manage. Frankly, we have given them a share in the social service system. which is a system where costs have been decreasing.


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

Hon Mrs Ecker: Mr Speaker, I'd just like to finish the point by saying I have some difficulty with the opposition's distrust of municipalities and their ability to exercise these responsibilities. They have proved they can do it. I don't know why they would question them.

Mr McGuinty: This has nothing whatsoever to do with our distrust of municipalities in Ontario; it has everything to do with our distrust of this government's intentions.

Minister, by dumping the costs of long-term health care for seniors and the costs of child care and the costs of social assistance on to the property tax bill, you are abdicating your rightful responsibility to ensure that these needs are met in Ontario. By saying that these are no longer provincial priorities, you've destroyed the province's ability to ensure that we are a compassionate society.

There's another aspect of your actions that we shouldn't overlook. What you've done today will serve to further divide this province. What you've done is pit property taxpayers against seniors in need, against our poor and against our children using child care. Minister, is that your vision of Ontario, a province where neighbours begrudge neighbours because they're old and sick or because they're poor or because they're young and in need of child care?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I don't know which voters the honourable member speaks to, but those I have spoken to have taken great pains to tell me that they are quite prepared to pay taxes to provide the social services they value in this province. What this change today recognizes is that the municipal level of government is very much a part of the social service system.

As a matter of fact, I'd like to offer a quote. For example, Shirley Hoy, the administrator of social services at Metro, soon to become Toronto, says she's been saying all along that municipalities should administer welfare and pay half the costs for this. Now she is saying that it wouldn't be so bad if municipalities had to contribute more, not less, to welfare support. She says, "If Queen's Park takes over welfare completely, along with children's services and hostels, we will lose control of the quality of life in this city." Regions, municipalities, are very much a part of that delivery of service.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr McGuinty: My second question is for the same minister. Today, Ontarians' already fragile confidence in our health care system was dealt another major blow. Today, you announced that you're shirking your responsibility for providing equal and accessible health care to all Ontarians. You've dumped over $1.8 billion in costs for long-term care for seniors, public health and ambulance services on to our municipalities. In so doing, you are placing Ontarians' equal access to health care in jeopardy. What this means is that the quality of care Ontarians receive from the municipalities will now depend on the wealth of the community they live in.

Minister, tell me, why have you thrown equal access to health care, especially for our seniors, out the window?

Hon Mrs Ecker: One of the success stories of this government, and I can understand why the opposition may not wish to acknowledge it, has been long-term-care reform, where we want to ensure that those services are there for the seniors when they need them.


The Speaker: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I heard that comment. I have to ask you to withdraw. I think it's best that you not ask me which one I heard.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I withdraw.

The Speaker: Supplementary?

Mr McGuinty: Minister, let's be honest. You are shamelessly abandoning your responsibility to our frail and sick elderly. Surely you and all your colleagues over there would agree that our provincial government, your government, has a special responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens. Nowhere in your Common Sense Revolution did you threaten to transfer responsibility for our sick elderly to municipalities.


Let me tell you what people are saying. Your own Who Does What panel and Duncan Sinclair, head of your restructuring commission, unanimously opposed dumping health care on to communities. In fact, Mr Sinclair said it's just stupid. Minister, why have you chosen to wash your hands of your responsibility for our sick seniors?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Dumping health services on the municipalities of course is dumb. That's not what we're doing here. We are providing --


The Speaker: Order. I think this is going to be the first four-question question period we've ever had. We have to get through these questions.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I have difficulty understanding why the members of the opposition would think that when the municipalities have been given the financial freedom that they now have, have been given the flexibility that they now have, they would not wish to exercise the skill and the care they have to date in providing these services.


The Speaker: All right. Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable Leader of the Opposition may wish to dismiss the expertise of someone as qualified as Shirley Hoy, but perhaps I could quote someone else, from Halton region: "County and regional governments have a long and successful history in the funding, management and delivery of long-term-care services."

I agree with the regions. I agree with the municipalities. They have expertise, they have commitment, and now they have the ability to help share in that responsibility.

Mr McGuinty: The minister is fond of selectively quoting, so I'm going to remind her of something I remember hearing. Just prior to the last election, her party said that aid for seniors would not be cut.

I ask you, how can you stand in your place today and claim that you've kept that very crucial promise? Not only is your government closing hospitals, sending countless sick and elderly patients back into communities to fend for themselves, but today you're backing down from your responsibility -- it's not the responsibility of municipalities but your responsibility -- to guarantee quality, accessible health care for our seniors, no matter where they live in Ontario.

Minister, will you not admit here and now that when you cut through the smokescreen of today's announcement, what you've really done is to have broken a key election promise that you, your government -- not municipalities -- will maintain aid for our seniors?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We are maintaining aid for our seniors. The only change happening in the health care envelope, as the Minister of Health has said so often in this House, is the restructuring in those services that has been so desperately needed. Even the member's own former health critic was quoted on the front page of the Toronto Star about the desperate need for restructuring in health care. That's what's happening in health care.

I think the municipalities are quite able and quite prepared --


The Speaker: Order. Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Long-term care has been an important initiative in this province. It is not being jeopardized. Long-term-care reform will continue to roll out as it is supposed to roll out, the changes. The only difference is that the funding will be shared with the municipalities, which are part of our social and health services network in this province, and the long-term-care agency that the ministry is putting in place ensures that the municipalities, ensures that the province, ensures that the consumers and providers will have a say in that very important system.

The Speaker: New question. Leader of the third party.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Community and Social Services. David Crombie, who did so much of the Who Does What, recommended in his report against the costs of social assistance being pushed on to municipalities. Mr Crombie made the case. He said that municipalities only have user fees or the municipal property tax, and in tough economic times, when people are laid off from their jobs, municipalities simply won't have the financial assets, through the municipal property tax, to help people in terms of social assistance. He said that municipalities would be forced into substantial tax increases if social assistance is pushed on to municipalities. I believe that at the press conference he alluded to the fact that during the Great Depression municipalities went bankrupt because they couldn't deal with social assistance. Can you guarantee municipalities across this province that they won't have to raise their municipal property taxes --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I appreciate that Mr Crombie and his panel did a lot of hard work. They tried to balance a lot of different objectives. Unfortunately, some of the recommendations that they made to this government were not going to allow us to achieve the objective we need to achieve, and that's better quality services at a lower cost to taxpayers. They wanted us to assume education and welfare and children's welfare, and the list went on and on, and there was no attempt to do the balance that I think is appropriate in the social services area. The Crombie panel also said the municipalities could opt out of welfare, and I am sure that the member opposite is not advocating that we should have adopted that particular recommendation.

Of course municipalities, when there are unforeseen local circumstances, when there may well be economic changes, need the support. That is why the social assistance reserve fund has been put in place, to do that. I would like to remind the members that we have taken off the property tax system a program that was growing at 80% over the last 10 years, and one of the programs that they have is a program that has been reduced --

The Speaker: Minister, thank you very much. Supplementary.

Mr Hampton: You're right. Mr Crombie's recommendation would not allow the government to achieve its major objective. It would not allow the government to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from social assistance and health care to give your wealthy friends on Bay Street a big tax cut. That is what is really bothering municipalities. They see you giving the president and the chief executive officer of the Bank of Montreal a $200,000 tax gift while they face an ugly choice: either they raise property taxes substantially to pay for social assistance, homes for the aged, home care, ambulances, police, or they see these very important health care services and community services dissipate and crack.

That's their fear. You're going to give a big tax break to your wealthy friends. I ask you again: Can you guarantee to municipalities that they won't have to substantially raise their property taxes in order to cover health care, policing --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I can't speak for the municipal representatives in the member's riding, but I can certainly speak about the municipal representatives in my own riding, who have been incredibly responsible in how they have treated the services for people. What we are doing for the municipalities is lifting $5.4 billion off the property tax system. We are continuing to cost-share the social and community health services that are out there that are so important.

We have $1 billion worth of community investment fund that was announced yesterday, which is there to support municipalities. I've announced today an additional $700 million to support municipalities. I don't think responsible municipalities are going to have any difficulty meeting the crucial test, the needs of their taxpayers.


The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): In addition to imposing the cost of social assistance on property taxpayers in every municipality in this province, you have imposed the ownership and responsibility for operations and financing of social housing on municipalities: non-profit housing, public housing, cooperative housing.

You haven't announced any reserve fund for municipalities that are ill-equipped and financially incapable of accepting that responsibility. Guarantee us today that you will prohibit any municipality from shutting down a single unit anywhere in the province of Ontario that's currently in the public domain. Otherwise, you are doing nothing but selling off the public housing that taxpayers in this province have invested in for decades and generations and that the poor and low-income and families need to live in -- decent, affordable housing.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Again, I have seen no reason in my time in elected life to doubt the credibility and the responsibility of municipalities. I don't know why the opposition member across the way would like me to start now. I think it's important to recognize that the property taxpayer has been contributing, has been part of our social and community health network. That has not changed.

I would also like to remind the honourable member that we are providing more financial support to municipalities than the social assistance reserve I announced today. We have, in addition, another $1-billion community investment fund.

We have also improved the financial strength of the municipalities by taking education, a service that has been growing at 80%, I would like to remind the members, over the last 10 years. I think given that growth, taking it off the property tax has strengthened their position immensely.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Again, because the Premier is not here and the Minister of Health is not here, I will go back to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

What was really bothering municipalities is this: They know that as our population ages -- and they know that the baby-boomers are getting into the senior citizen years -- the cost of operating homes for the aged is going to rise. They know that home care costs are going to rise. They know that the cost of providing seniors' housing is going to rise. They know that the cost of ambulance services is going to rise. And they know that if all they have to finance this with is the property tax, they are placed in an unholy situation. Either they have to substantially raise the property tax in order to do the right thing for people who need health care or for our seniors, or they have to cut health care.

Can you give those municipalities that are so concerned about this a guarantee that they will not have to cut health care? Can you give them as well a guarantee that they will not have to raise property taxes in order to --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect, the member opposite is expressing concern that somehow or other these services are going to spiral out of control and the municipalities will have no ability to fund them. I would like to ask the honourable member, where was he when property taxes were going up at 120% in the last decade? Where was he then?


The Speaker: Government members, please come to order.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): What a stupid answer.

The Speaker: And the member for Oriole.

Mr Hampton: I asked for an answer. I asked for an answer ensuring that these important health care services for our communities would continue, that seniors would continue to receive these services and that municipalities wouldn't have to substantially raise their taxes. What I got was a lot of noise from the minister, so let me try again.

The Dominion Bond Rating Service says that you have to find close to $6 billion a year to finance your tax scheme for the wealthy. We know, and we've always known, that you're going to have to take money out of health care, out of education, out of communities to finance that. What's really bothering municipalities is that now you're going to push the dirty work off on them, that you don't have the courage to do it yourself. You're going to force them to lay off nurses, you're going to force them to close home care beds, you're going to force them to close down seniors' apartments. That's what's really bothering them.

What assurances can you give seniors, can you give people in need of health care, can you give municipalities that they won't have to do your dirty work to finance your tax giveaway to the wealthy?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member did not seem to be concerned when municipalities were looking at property tax increases over the last decade of 120% on education costs. What we have done with the changes we are announcing this week is to improve the financial situation of the municipalities. They are quite capable of handling the responsibilities. They have proved it in the past, and we are certainly confident that they will continue to be responsible in managing these things in the future.

Mr Hampton: I've tried again, and the minister wants to ignore the question. Let me give you another picture of what municipalities are worried about. You walked into Thunder Bay and you're going to close three hospitals there and two hospitals in Sudbury; about 15 hospitals across Toronto are on the target. We know that as you close those hospitals, the pressure on home care, the pressure on community public health services and the pressure on ambulances is going to go up dramatically. Municipalities are going to get hit with a double whammy; they're also going to have to pick up those costs.

What assurances can you give municipalities across this province that they are going to be able to pay for this increased need for home care, increased need for ambulances and increased need for public health services as a result of your closing of hospitals? What assurance are you going to give them that they won't have to raise property taxes substantially to meet these new costs as a result of your closing of hospitals across this province?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The Minister of Health has been very clear that we have put forward millions of dollars to help in the reinvestments, in the health restructuring so desperately needed in this province. He has talked about cardiac care. He has talked about -- for example, in my own riding there is a dialysis clinic. He has talked about reinvestments in community and long-term care. We are prepared to put forward the financial supports for the systems, for the need. We have demonstrated that in the past. We will continue to demonstrate that in the future.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is indeed instructive to listen to the minister opposite. This is a question for the minister of -- I refrain from calling her the minister of destruction -- the Minister of Community and Social Services, in reference to the statement today.

You talk about restructuring; it's really destruction. You talk about respect for municipalities, the same government that's imposed trustees on municipalities. When you talk about health, about the very basics of what sick people in this province have to look forward to from your government, we can only turn to Duncan Sinclair, the head of what was supposed to be the restructuring commission, and what he said about your plan today. He said it is stupid. He also said it messes up the whole task of restructuring health care. Your main responsibility in terms of providing for vulnerable people is completely messed up by what's happening today, and so is your responsibility for the poor and the vulnerable.

Minister, it's important that you answer the question. When your experts, Duncan Sinclair and the Crombie commission, say no, are you going to make these services mandatory so that sick people who depend on long-term care, on public health in this province, will receive these services --

The Speaker: Thank you very much. Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We have certainly talked about the need. I've been very clear in my statement and we have been very clear in what we've talked about to date in what's happening with the Who Does What exercise that province-wide standards are an extremely important component of this picture. The residents of Ontario have high expectations of their social services and their health system. That's why we are making the changes that we are making, to ensure that those programs will be there for them. Province-wide quality standards in all the things I have talked about today are extremely important and we are certainly going to be living up to our responsibility on that.


Mr Kennedy: This is completely unconvincing, coming from the same minister who, when given the option, hammered poor people by cutting them 20%. There are a couple of surprises that the municipalities need to know about today. One of those surprises is how from $400 million to $2.3 billion has been the growth in long-term care in the past 10 years, and that's what you're sending to municipalities, a share in that growing need, and abdicating your responsibility in looking after it.

Further, Minister, would you please comment on your new agency for delivering long-term care and how it's going to be pooling taxes from across the province, transferring taxes from one area to another. If it's not, then you'll have a patchwork of services everywhere across the province. It's what we hear from your ministry that you're up to.

Stand up here and talk to the municipalities about the surprises you have in mind for them, their growth in long-term care, the other services you've given them that are growing wildly because of the needs of the demographics in the population and how you're going to make them pay for them.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member across the way was talking about what's been happening in welfare, and I'm certainly quite prepared to outline yet again, and I'm sure he doesn't want to listen to it again, the successes we've had in the welfare system with our welfare reforms: The rate we pay welfare assistance, 10% above the average of the other nine provinces, was part of our campaign commitment; we've moved strongly on abuse and fraud in the system; and we've also implemented and are continuing to see the success of workfare across the province. All that has caused a decrease in the cost of that particular social program they seem to be so concerned about.

I would be quite happy to follow through on the other member's question about the long-term-care agency, but I'm not quite sure what he's referencing when he talks about allocating taxes. They will be doing no such thing. The long-term-care agency is there to ensure that the province and the municipalities have their say, as they should on this important system, and to ensure that the money is allocated appropriately according to need.

The Speaker: New question.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the same minister and it's with respect to her announcement today on the funding of child care. Your announcement today that you are going to move what was an 80% provincial, 20% municipal cost-sharing to a 50-50 sharing led us to believe that you were talking about the subsidies. But in the culture ministry, I was quite shocked to find out that what is currently paid 100% by the provincial government -- wage subsidies, child care resource centres, special needs resources -- is also being moved to 50-50. This is a huge new cost to municipalities.

In the transfer cuts you've already made and in the cancellation of the 100% Jobs Ontario child care spaces we've already lost 9,000 child care spaces in this province, Minister. We cannot have the comprehensive system you talk about unless you are today prepared to assure us that you will make provision of child care services mandatory in every community so that families in every community have access to early childhood education. Will you assure us of that today?

Hon Mrs Ecker: This government did not cancel Jobs Ontario spaces, this government has not cut 9,000 child care spaces and this government said today, and perhaps she missed it, that child care is a mandatory service in Ontario.

Ms Lankin: No, I didn't miss it, Minister. What you said today is that there will be provincial standards that are mandatory. That is not the same as mandatory provision of the service. I said to you clearly that 9,000 spaces have been cut by municipalities as a result of your cuts in transfers to funding to municipalities and your abandonment of the 100% fully funded child care spaces under Jobs Ontario, pushing that back to an 80-20 cost-share, now to be pushed back to 50-50.

Minister, if we do not have an assurance that this service is mandatory, that those spaces must be provided, that access must be guaranteed in communities, families are going to be without this resource, families that will not be able to pursue education and will not be able to pursue work opportunities. Kids are going to be abandoned to community solutions, to individual solutions, and we've seen time and time again the abuse that takes place. If you don't invest early in children we will all pay for it down the road. Your red Tory heart must keep you up at night if you've got any of it left.

Minister, assure us that you will make the provision of these services mandatory. Without that, it spells the complete destruction of this --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member has, many times in this House, demonstrated her commitment, her sincerity, her belief in the importance of child care in this province. I agree. She makes the case for why child care must be mandatory, and it will be mandatory in the new world under the Who Does What recommendations we are announcing this week.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is also for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I know you are aware of my long-time concern for families whose children with developmental disabilities live with them at home. For years these families have seen government money pour into expensive administrative infrastructures rather than direct support programs in the community which help them care for their children at home, especially now that the parents in some of these families are aging and the problem is compounded. Last week we heard in the media that you now have good news in this regard. I wondered if you would like to share with us some of those details.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I have great respect for the personal and financial sacrifices that those parents who are caring for disabled children at home have to make to do that and I have met many of them. We've talked about it in this Legislature when members of the opposition have brought their cases to the fore. That's why I was especially pleased last week to announce that we have $15 million in additional supports to improve the services for those families, because they need that help. As we continue with the transfer of care from institutions in the community and social services area to community-based care agencies, where it is working very well, we want to continue to reinvest those resources in that care.

I would like to say that one of the programs that did benefit from this announcement last week, one I know the former leader of the Liberal Party is very interested in, is special services at home, which will indeed get additional money because of this new announcement.

Mrs Marland: I realize that my request was only one among many, but I want to publicly express my gratitude that you have responded to my request for additional funding for these families with persons with developmental disabilities. I would ask you if you can explain how the additional money is being allocated.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'll be very pleased to. I would like to thank the honourable member, as I would some of the other members here who have helped push so hard to make this announcement possible last week, and I very much appreciate her support on this.

Of this money, $6 million is going to be used for elderly parents who are caring for their adult children with developmental disabilities at home; $5 million is going to special services at home, which will expand the number of families who need respite care, child care and at-home follow-up therapy; $4 million is going to the infant development program, which is an early intervention program for vulnerable young children. That's a program that has not seen new money for many years.

I would also like to point out that for the first time in the Ministry of Community and Social Services we have attempted to allocate this money on an equity basis, so that we are trying to build into the formula those regions -- for example, Durham, Halton, York and Peel -- that so desperately have growth needs. In Durham region it's been a 19% increase, for example, in terms of the funding for these programs.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): In the absence of the Minister of Health and the Premier, my question is to the Deputy Premier. Shortly before Christmas your hospital restructuring commission came to my city of Pembroke and ordered the closure of the century-old Pembroke Civic Hospital. If that recommendation is accepted by the government, it will mean that later this year the city of Pembroke and area, the largest urban community in that part of eastern Ontario, will have only one hospital, which is owned and operated by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

The preliminary report on hospital restructuring in Pembroke makes no provision for any change in the governance of the remaining hospital that is to be in Pembroke after the government decides what to do with the preliminary report.

What is the Ontario government's current position with respect to the governance of hospitals in communities where prior to restructuring there was more than one hospital, but after restructuring there may be only one hospital?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Indeed, that is a very good question. The member is quite correct: The hospital restructuring commission did make its recommendation and report known on December 4. They gave an extended period of time because of the Christmas break to January 17, I believe, which will be this Friday. I would urge him and other people to respond.

But to speak very directly to the question he asked, in the recommendations, I'm sure he will be aware, on page 51 it says that based on its assessment of the consequences of each of the options, the Health Services Restructuring Commission decided that "a single governance solution based on existing ownership is preferred. However, the Pembroke General Hospital must develop a plan to ensure that representation on the board of governors represents the cultural, linguistic, religious and socioeconomic makeup of the community that the restructured hospital will serve."

Mr Conway: Your commission has come to my town and told the Pembroke Civic Hospital that effective the end of 1997, they are out of business. One hundred years of hospital and community service gone, and there is absolutely no provision in this preliminary report to make any accommodation for the enormous contribution that the Civic Hospital and its people have made to the health care and hospital services of our part of eastern Ontario.

There are scores of people in the public galleries today who want me to ask you, as I now will: Are you and your colleagues in government prepared to compel that there will be a new hospital governance in Pembroke and any similar community that will insist, as a minimum, on fair and balanced representation for both traditions, denominational and civic, without which very little of the much-needed hospital and health reform can be achieved, certainly in my community?

Hon Mr Eves: I respect what the honourable member is saying. I agree with what he's saying. I will make that recommendation to the Minister of Health so he will take your concerns, which are duly noted, and make sure they are satisfied with respect to the restructuring of the hospital board.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, but if he's not here, I will ask it of the Deputy Premier. Last night I attended a meeting of Citizens for Local Democracy here in Toronto. There were over 600 people present at that meeting.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Go get Al.

Mr Hampton: I'll wait until the minister gets here so that he hears the question.

Last night I attended a meeting of Citizens for Local Democracy here in Toronto. There were over 600 people there. There's a tremendous groundswell building against your megacity scheme. People are angry at your destruction of their democratic rights. People at the meeting compared you and your government to the Family Compact Conservatives of 1837. Even a good semblance of William Lyon Mackenzie was there to denounce you.

We learned that 450 people now want to make representations to the committee on your bill, and more and more people are coming forward all the time. Will you give people in Toronto a guarantee, a commitment, that anyone who wants to address the committee about your megacity bill will be heard? Will you give them that commitment?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): We'll certainly try to accommodate everybody we possibly can, but I'm sure the leader of the third party knows that I don't think there has ever been a committee meeting, a committee hearing process, that has heard everyone who ever wanted to be heard.

What I would do is urge the opposition parties to assist us in ensuring that as many people as can be heard have the opportunity to be heard. If you put the bill through second reading and we can get it to committee as quickly as possible, more people will have an opportunity to have their say. I'm sure the opposition parties will cooperate.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Minister, that just isn't quite good enough. This isn't just an issue in Toronto. People across Metropolitan Toronto are upset about your mega-bill and people are meeting all over the place to talk about what they can do to at least get their voices heard and have you hear their reasoned and impassioned pleas for why your megacity scheme just won't work.

Just tonight there's going to be a major meeting in North York. This is the biggest right across Metropolitan Toronto. It's the biggest spontaneous grass-roots movement I think we've seen in a long, long time.

There have been lots of examples in the past where committees have indeed heard everyone who has asked to speak, especially on important issues like this. I want to say to you that the people of North York, Scarborough and Etobicoke also want to be heard, in addition to the people in downtown Toronto. I ask you this: Will you give a commitment that all those people will be heard -- I want to repeat that -- and will you also ensure that there will be full hearings not just here at Queen's Park but in each council chamber of each of the cities that have been affected by this bill? Will you guarantee that, Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I'll repeat, if we get the cooperation of the opposition parties, and I'm sure they'll be glad to do that, if we can get this bill through second reading and into committee, that will give an opportunity for as many people as we can possibly fit in to give their views and opinions on our bill to create a single city.

I haven't talked to the House leader, but in discussion with the opposition House leaders, if they want to have the committee move around Metropolitan Toronto, I certainly wouldn't have any objections to that.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. I campaigned on a platform of bringing jobs to my riding of Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings. Investing in rural Ontario is the key to jobs and growth not only for this generation but for our children's future. Minister, could you update the House on the recent economic expansion in the greater Kingston area?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm pleased to respond to the member for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings. The good news is that the Kingston area is doing extremely well. In the Report on Business in the late summer, early fall, Kingston was recommended as one of the best places to do business.

I'd like to give the House four examples of just what is happening in Kingston at the present time: DuPont Canada is expanding, and that will mean 200 new construction jobs and 55 new production jobs by 1998; Bombardier has recently signed a $48-million contract with Vancouver's SkyTrain; third, Higgins Manufacturing, which is a United Kingdom company, expects to employ 100 people within three years; fourth and last, Celanese Canada has a new $190-million expansion and it has created 60 new jobs and a boost of sales of $250 million.

Mr Fox: Could you tell us what the key is to this highly successful period of growth?

Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary, I'm pleased to say that there are four key points I'd like to make. I think they apply to all of Ontario, but particularly to Kingston.

First of all, the Kingston Area Economic Development Commission is very key to growth. We should be very proud of a civic organization such a that which is helping its community. I would recommend that to other communities.

Second, they have handled more than 6,200 industrial and small business inquiries in 1996 in that region, which shows the great interest in the Kingston area.

Third, they anticipate a continued healthy growth pattern in 1997. That's their report.

The fourth reason is Ontario's pro-business policy, encouraging economic development and jobs, promulgated by our government.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): In the absence of the Premier, my question is to the Deputy Premier. It has to do with the information on Ipperwash that was released yesterday by the Premier's office. We all know that Ipperwash was the first instance where a first nations person has been killed in a land claim dispute. A senior OPP officer is facing charges.

The question I want to ask revolves around what seems to be a contradiction between the faxes and what the Premier has been saying. It's clear from the faxes that the local member, Mr Beaubien, was in constant contact with the Premier's office before the shooting. He mentioned several conversations and at least three faxes. It's also clear that the local member was told of the government plans. "I am prepared to go along with Mr Hodgson's proposals in dealing with the situation." He then went on to talk to the local paper, and it says here, "Queen's Park to Take Hard Line Against Park Occupiers." This appeared in a local paper only hours before the shooting.

The question is this: The Premier has said that the OPP were going to deal with this all on their own, but we now know that the local member was told of the plans and indicated to the local paper that it was the government's intention to take a hard line.

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

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I have no idea where the local paper got its information. I can only tell you what the Premier has said on numerous occasions. Actually, I think the correspondence you have, the faxes you have, the information you have, point out that at no time did the provincial government interfere or tell the OPP what it was to do with respect to this matter, nor should it.

Mr Phillips: I think the public probably understands why we need a public inquiry. The facts are clear. I just outlined them for you. Your local member said to the local paper -- that's where they got it: Mr Beaubien, no one else. "Queen's Park to Take Hard Line Against Park Occupiers."

The local member later, in another fax, goes on to say to Mr King, a senior staff member of the Premier's office, with whom he was in constant contact virtually every day -- several conversations before the shooting, several conversations the day of the shooting -- Mr Beaubien says to the Premier's office, "I can take the heat, but I will not be the fall guy."

Interjection: That's a poor translation.

Mr Phillips: The member says that's a poor translation. I'm quoting directly from the member's own fax to the Premier's office. The member knew you planned to take a hard line. The member knew that then it went badly wrong; it was completely messed up, a tragic situation. Why did the member say he wouldn't be the fall guy and who did he assume would be the fall guy?

Hon Mr Eves: The only plan that the provincial government had was to seek an injunction, which it was in the process of doing at that particular time. With respect to the second part of your question, I have no idea why the member would use that language or that tone. Quite frankly, I don't agree with that tone.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Attorney General regarding the family support plan. It's been almost five months now since you laid off 290 experienced family support plan staff and closed the eight regional offices. As a result, women and children who used to receive regular support payments now are not. Thousands of families have suffered and continue to suffer serious financial hardship as a result.

Let me raise with you the case of Barbara Thompson, who used to receive $714.97 every month from her ex-husband. She is now owed $1,543.06, even though the payor's employer, the RCMP, has confirmed to her in writing that cheques were sent to the family support plan on October 29, November 27 and December 27. Minister, can you tell me where Barbara's money is and why you're financing your portion of the tax cut on her back?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): As I've said before, I won't respond to individual cases. What I can say is that yesterday, $1.8 million was sent out to almost 5,700 families. In December 1996, $32,309,983 was sent out, compared to $29,640,220 in 1994. The money is getting out. It's getting out in greater amounts than it's ever been sent out before, and it's going out faster.

Ms Martel: Minister, everyone knows the money that's now going out is money that was owed to recipients from August, September, October, November and December. You're not fooling anyone by trying to tell people that you're sending out more money than ever before. Your colleague the member for Grey-Owen Sound was right yesterday when he told the Toronto Sun that the whole thing is in chaos and people aren't receiving the money they are owed, and your rhetoric doesn't help Barbara Thompson.

The Attorney General also announced in mid-September that his ministry would pay for any additional costs that recipients incurred because of a delay in receiving cheques, specifically bank charges or fees on the payment of utility bills that were late.

Minister, in mid-December you again confirmed that your ministry would pay for those things, but you told the media that no one so far had applied for this compensation. Can you tell the House today what specific action you have taken to notify payors and recipients that they might be entitled to compensation and how they can apply?

Hon Mr Harnick: The family support plan will pay any expenses incurred because of any significant and unusual delay in payments going out to recipients during September and October who previously had regular payments. This includes NSF cheque penalty charges, penalty charges for late mortgage or rent payments and utility bills. Clients who have claims for such expenses may submit receipts to the director of the family support plan. Staff will review these claims on an individual basis.

Ms Martel: How are you telling these people? They are to read it in the newspapers? Is that how you notify them? On TV?

Hon Mr Harnick: The member wanted this information. I'm now giving it to her. I would think she might want to wait and let me give it to her. Clients will be able to receive information on compensation through the automated telephone system by calling 1-800-830-4353.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. I've been receiving a number of calls to my constituency office in Scarborough Centre recently from citizens of my riding concerning a trapper licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources who is using leghold traps within my riding to trap small animals.

My constituents have expressed a great and understandable concern about the danger this presents to children and pets within the area. As the minister understands, my riding of Scarborough Centre is an urban riding. Can the minister please inform the House as to the government's policy concerning trapping in urban areas?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I appreciate the question from the member for Scarborough Centre. There has been quite a bit of public controversy about this. The MNR licenses about three trappers in the GTA. They're hired by private land owners to control nuisance animals. They do not work for the MNR but they have to follow the property section of the Game and Fish Act, and that restricts that the live traps are used for raccoons and a leghold trap with pads for larger animals.

I would like to mention, though, that recent press reports have indicated that the city of Scarborough intends to ban trapping within its borders. I'd like to just inform the House, and I'm sure everyone knows, that municipal bylaws, especially those relating to firearm discharge, also restrict trapping activities in builtup areas. The city of Toronto has established a bylaw which restricts the use of leghold traps in that city. As I've indicated, the city of Scarborough indicates that as well.

Mr Newman: As the minister mentioned, the city of Scarborough has announced its intention to ban trapping in the city. I will be pleased to present that private bill in the House on the city's behalf.

By way of supplementary, will the minister please explain why the Ministry of Natural Resources allows trapping in urban areas.

Hon Mr Hodgson: We allow trapping in urban areas under the prescription of the Game and Fish Act under the property section. As I mentioned, the trapper is not hired directly by the MNR; they're hired by the property owner to control nuisance animals. We license it and get information on how to control rabies and other information on the animals.

I would like to mention that of the three trappers who are licensed, they probably contain about 12 animals each per year on average. Our licensing requirements maintain standards that make it safe for children and household pets to be around -- as I mentioned, the special protection pads and the live traps.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services, regarding the statement she made today but also the announcement she made in this House of change of government policy. We know the minister today threw in the garbage can her own report on child care. I would ask her if she would clarify for this House exactly what she meant in her response to the member for Beaches-Woodbine when she said that child care would now be a mandatory program in the province.

Just to remind the minister, at the present time the province funds 80%, and that encourages municipalities to provide the program because they only have to provide 20%. The province is cutting their contribution to 50%, and I'd like the minister to stand in her place and explain the new government policy that is going to ensure that children across this province are not left in jeopardy and will have equal access to child care as a result of her policy announcement today.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): One of the reasons we did the child care review was because people in this province do not have access to child care when they need it and we have to do a better job at providing that child care access to them. As a matter of fact, one of the things that came up in the child care review was the fact that the municipalities could, and in many cases wanted to, play a better and bigger role in the provision of child care. Where they have been doing that, it has been working extremely well. That's one of the reasons we are making it a mandatory program that will be provided by municipalities.



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 affix my signature to the petition, as I agree with it.


M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac-Nipigon) : Adressée à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario se penche présentement sur la reforme du système de l'éducation et que l'implantation d'écoles à charte représente une option à considérer ;

«Attendu que le gouvernement ne possède pas de politique en matière de création d'écoles à charte et que le ministère de l'Éducation et de la Formation étudie actuellement le fonctionnement d'écoles à charte existantes ;

«Attendu que le Collège catholique Samuel-Genest est maintenant voué à perdre sa mission, son caractère particulier et sa réputation suite aux récentes décisions du Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française de la région d'Ottawa-Carleton ;

«Attendu que la création d'un projet pilote d'écoles à charte à titre expérimental dans le contexte ontarien pourrait accélérer le processus d'élaboration d'une politique en matière d'écoles à charte,

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

«Nous, parents et élèves, et élèves du Collège catholique Samuel-Genest d'Ottawa, demandons que le gouvernement de l'Ontario accorde à notre collège le statut d'école à charte à titre de projet pilote pour implantation dès septembre 1997.»


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'm very pleased to hear the last petition on charter schools implemented by a member of the third party.

I have some petitions here with respect to the Barrhaven high schools, which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

"Whereas many high schools in Nepean are significantly overcrowded;

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

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

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

I have included my own signature thereto, and the minister has given $20 million to complete these two schools.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition in response to Bill 84 as well.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the firefighters of Thunder Bay 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; and

"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'm very proud to sign my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have signatures of 3,154 members of United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1000A, sent to me by their president, Dan Gilbert, and the secretary-treasurer, Brian Docherty, and the executive vice-president, Kevin Corporon. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Premier Harris:

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

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

On behalf of my caucus colleagues, I add my name to theirs.


Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I'm presenting this petition on behalf of the Honourable Bob Runciman.

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

"Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has announced the closure of its Brockville office, thereby ceasing all operations from that location; and

"Whereas this closure will seriously reduce the fisheries, wildlife, forest management and environment in general in the united counties of Leeds and Grenville; and

"Whereas the residents of this community acknowledge that reduction in public employees is a necessary factor in decreasing government spending; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario already owns the present location and no operational savings can be realized by closing this office;

"We, the undersigned residents of this community, urge the government of Ontario to reverse this decision so that the Brockville area office may continue to provide the services required for the management of our natural resources of the united counties of Leeds and Grenville."

The petition is signed by 222 individuals and I am pleased to table it for the minister.


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I have a petition here to the House from the United Paperworkers International Union in Terrace Bay, Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I have signed my name.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

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

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

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

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

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

This was presented to me by a group from the Windsor area and I affix my name to it.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature and the Solicitor General that reads as follows:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that helping reduce crime and abuse in our communities is our responsibility as employees of the Ministry of Correctional Services, as professionals in related fields and as concerned citizens;

"That closing institutions which provide specialized services to women and treatment to men does not achieve that goal;

"That physical, emotional and sexual abuse is often transmitted from one generation to the next, with tremendous cost to society;

"That treatment aimed at breaking this cycle must include the abuser so that another generation of children is not raised with the same destructive lessons;

"`That,' as Mr Ross Virgo has stated, `the Ontario Correctional Institute is a therapeutic community known around the world for their techniques';

"That research statistics support anecdotal evidence that we are effective in changing abusive behaviour;

"That a therapeutic community cannot exist in a superprison;

"In closing, this petition asks that the government save victims and money by keeping what works open."

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further petitions? The Chair recognizes the member for Sault Ste Marie.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Sault Ste Marie moves adjournment of the House. 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; there will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1533 to 1603.

The Acting Speaker: Order. Mr Martin has moved adjournment of the House.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 27; the nays are 58.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Petitions? The Chair recognizes the member for York Mills.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I move that we now proceed to introduction of bills.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for York Mills has moved that we proceed to introduction of bills.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1606 to 1636.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Turnbull has moved that the House proceed to introduction of bills.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56; the nays are 21.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Runciman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 105, An Act to renew the partnership between the province, municipalities and the police and to enhance community safety / Projet de loi 105, Loi visant à renouveler le partenariat entre la province, les municipalités et la police et visant à accroître la sécurité de la collectivité.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1638 to 1643.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Runciman has moved first reading of Bill 105. All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time.


Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Baird, John R.

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Harnick, Charles

Runciman, Robert W.

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Sampson, Rob

Boushy, Dave

Hudak, Tim

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Johns, Helen

Sheehan, Frank

Carr, Gary

Johnson, Bert

Skarica, Toni

Carroll, Jack

Jordan, W. Leo

Smith, Bruce

Chudleigh, Ted

Kells, Morley

Spina, Joseph

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Eves, Ernie L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

O'Toole, John

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al


The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Bartolucci, Rick

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony

Bisson, Gilles

Curling, Alvin

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Duncan, Dwight

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Gerretsen, John

Pouliot, Gilles

Castrilli, Annamarie

Gravelle, Michael

Ramsay, David

Christopherson, David

Kormos, Peter

Silipo, Tony

Cleary, John C.

Kwinter, Monte

Wood, Len

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc


Cordiano, Joseph

Laughren, Floyd


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 56, the nays are 25.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): The amendments I have introduced today will bring fairness to the way Ontario taxpayers pay for their policing; foster improved local accountability of police; and eliminate waste, duplication and overlap in the system of police oversight.

By amending the Police Services Act, the District Municipality of Muskoka Act, the Municipal Act, the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act and the Regional Municipalities Act, this new act will ensure that every municipality is treated fairly.

Finally, the changes introduced by this bill will provide local governments with the tools they need to provide the most effective system of policing to protect the public.

Mr Speaker, I move that we now proceed to orders of the day.


The Deputy Speaker: Introduction of bills. The member for Cochrane South.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Cochrane South moves the adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1649 to 1719.

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

The member for Dovercourt, I would ask you to take your seat.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I would take my seat, except I'm not sure what difference it makes when the government doesn't want to listen.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. Just a reminder that procedures are created by us.

Mr Bisson, the member for Cochrane South, has moved the adjournment of the House.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise.

All those opposed will please rise.

I would ask your attention, please. I feel that one of the most important rights in this House is to have the right of voting. This is a right given to us by the population, and I would ask to vote again.

All those in favour of Mr Bisson's adjournment of the House will please rise.

All those opposed will please rise.

Please take your seats. I just want to let you know that for the Speaker it really is an untenable situation. I will take 10 minutes' recess and reflect on this situation.

The House recessed from 1724 to 1734.

The Deputy Speaker: Please let me express my own feelings about this situation. The Speaker is elected by you. The procedures are created by you. If you don't show any respect vis-à-vis the procedures, you don't respect yourselves. I'm going to call the vote again and I ask you, all of you, to vote. It is so important. Please don't challenge the Chair. You're challenging yourselves by challenging the Chair.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.

All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 19; the nays are 52.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Introduction of Bills. The member for Oakwood.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a bill to amend the Highway Traffic Act. Can I have a brief explanation of the bill?

The Deputy Speaker: Move your bill.

Mr Colle: I move the Highway Traffic Act amendment, which provides for the suspension of a person's driver's licence for a specific period of time if the person is convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The bill would require the person to successfully complete a course respecting drug or alcohol abuse before the suspension is lifted. As you know --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You've got to bring the bill down and then you get a chance -- this is very unusual, actually.

Introduction of bills. Orders of the day.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): No, introduction of bills, Speaker.

The Speaker: No, I went to orders of the day.



Mr Leach moved second 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): Mr Leach.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): We were using the rules exactly. We were using the rules, every single one that is left. That is exactly what we were doing.


The Speaker: We went to -- let me just say --


The Speaker: To the members, please -- the members for Oakville South and Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I said, after the member for Oakwood --

Mr Silipo: I was being insulted over here.

The Speaker: I'm speaking now directly to the member for Dovercourt: I didn't hear it, I'm sorry.

I said directly after the member for Oakwood -- his bill wasn't seen to be in order. I called for introduction of bills.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): He was up; he stood up.


The Speaker: The members for Lake Nipigon and Fort York.

Mr Pouliot: He is right beside me. He stood up.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, I ask you to come to order. I looked very directly down this side of the room. I called for introduction of bills. No one stood. I looked at the table.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): You were like this.

The Speaker: Order. I looked at the table, who also didn't see anyone standing, and then I simply said, "Orders of the day." Now that's as plain as it can be.

I say to the members for Dovercourt, Fort York and Lake Nipigon, I understand what we're doing in this place. I gave the opportunity for any member to introduce a bill. You didn't stand. Those are the rules.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If you would just bear with me for a minute, what had happened was that the member from Oakwood got up to introduce a bill. There was a problem in regard to the way the bill was worded. There was a discussion going on on that side. When you called for further introduction of bills, the member for Dovercourt was up on his feet. There were two people up at the same time.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): He was not.

The Speaker: I will say very directly to the member for Cochrane South --

Mr Pouliot: He was.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, please.

I'll tell you this: The member for Oakwood stood. I stood when it was clear it wasn't in order. I said, "This is very unusual." Normally the bill is prepared and the text is before me.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): There are a lot of unusual things happening here.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, I can only explain what the situation was. I said, "Your bill isn't in order." I then called for introduction of bills. All I can ask is the members. When I called for introduction of bills, I looked again. No one was standing. I checked with the table clerks. They saw no one standing. I then went to orders of the day.

Mr Silipo: On a point of order, Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: Let me just say this quickly to the member for Dovercourt: I'll recognize you for a point of order. I want to say this: I will hear your point of order. I have now heard I think it's three points of order on this issue, or at least I addressed the issue. I'll listen to your point of order and I'd like to move on at that point. The member for Dovercourt.

Mr Silipo: I realize that we are now into orders of the day and I'm beyond quibbling with you on that. I disagree with what you've done, but I'm not questioning your ruling. I would ask you simply this, because we all know what's going on here today. We all know why we have resorted to these practices.


The Speaker: Members, come to order.

Mr Silipo: It's the only thing this government has left us in terms of protecting the rights of the democratic process in this place. What I would ask of you, Speaker, is simply this --

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): You don't want to be here in January and February and have to work, is that your problem?


The Speaker: Minister of Finance, member for Perth, come to order. I don't want any more heckling. The member for Dovercourt.

Mr Silipo: We realize that we have lost the battle for this day, but we have just lost a battle for this day. Let the government be warned that tomorrow and the next day we will be far better prepared than we were today.

What I would ask of you, Speaker, is this, because I don't think it's going to change your ruling on this: When there was the confusion about the member for Oakwood, the introduction of the bills, I quite honestly did not hear you indicate that the bill was out of order for some reason. The reason I say that is because I was still sitting here expecting something to happen with that bill, all right? Then you simply went from there into a very quick reiteration of introduction of bills and then quickly over to the other side. I think that's a bit unfair and that's what I would ask you to consider.

I don't know whether it's going to be enough for you to change your mind on this one at this point. I think it should.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Tony, you are challenging the Chair.

Mr Silipo: I'm not challenging the Chair. I'm saying that's why you didn't see me up on that instant when you said, "Further introduction of bills." But I was prepared to stand in my place. I did not do so at that instant because I thought you were --

The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, I appreciate what you're saying --

Mr Pouliot: You missed the pack.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): He is right; it is true.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, and the member for Sault Ste Marie, I understand completely that you probably fully agree with the member for Dovercourt. I understand that. All I can say to the member for Dovercourt is that I wasn't trying to usurp the process, I wasn't trying to get around the ring any quicker than normal. If it seemed that way, I'm apologizing. But I did say as clearly as I could, "Introduction of bills."

Mr Bisson: But you didn't say he was out of order.

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, I can only tell you I did my best to ensure that we followed the procedures. Now, when we check Hansard tomorrow, which we will all do, we can see whether or not those words were in fact stated. I can't categorically say his bill was out of order; I can remember saying "very unusual" to not have the work in order.

Mr Silipo: We didn't hear that, Speaker.

The Speaker: I apologize for not hearing it. If you didn't hear --


The Speaker: Member for Scarborough East, you're not being helpful.

So I appreciate what you're saying. I tried to act as fair and non-partisan as I could, and impartial, and I did say it as loudly and clearly as I could. I took the time to check the table to see if they saw anyone that I didn't see. Nobody was up. I apologize if in fact you were trying to get up or I did not say it loudly enough.

Okay. Now we're at the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: Today I move second reading of Bill 103, the act that will amalgamate the seven municipal governments in Metro into one city of Toronto. When we introduced the act on December 17, we knew it was going to be controversial, but we also knew that it was the right decision and that we had the courage to do the right thing.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand why a single unified city of Toronto makes good sense; you just have to ask the right questions. Ask anyone, "Do you want lower taxes?" Most people would answer yes. Ask them, do they want smaller government, do we have too many politicians, too many layers of government? Most people would say yes, yes and yes. But when we say, "Let's eliminate this particular level of government in the GTA, or let's amalgamate these particular municipalities or get rid of the duplication of this specific service," people say: "Hey, wait a minute. Maybe we should think about this a little longer."

The truth is that we, and I mean all of us, have been thinking about this issue for a long, long time. There are literally dozens of studies that have looked at municipal restructuring in the greater Toronto area. That includes a study done by KPMG that showed that amalgamation in Metro Toronto can save taxpayers up to $865 million over the next three years and $300 million a year thereafter, and it includes the recommendation by the Who Does What panel that a strong, unified central core would help the entire GTA prosper and compete in the international marketplace.

Amalgamation of some local services has been recommended by the Metro mayors; in fact, two proposals came in from the mayors in just the last two years. Both the GTA Task Force and the GTA review panel recommended a wholesale governance review for this region.

So the time for studies and review is over. It's time to act and it's time to bring about change that will ensure that Canada's greatest city enters the 21st century strong, united and ready to meet the needs of its citizens. That means a local governance structure that will save money, remove barriers to growth and investment, and help create jobs.

But the truth is that even when people agree that we need less government, fewer politicians, lower costs and less duplication and overlap, when people are finally faced with real change, especially change of this magnitude, they get uncomfortable, and we understand that. But we all know that change is necessary. Change is what keeps cities vibrant and vital. It helps regions to grow and prosper and it keeps us in step with the rest of the world. Change is needed in the greater Toronto area and it's needed in Metropolitan Toronto.

There's an old saying. When things are in a muddle, we say we're at sixes and sevens, and that fits our situation today in Toronto. Metropolitan Toronto has seven governments, six local municipalities, seven roads departments, six fire departments, seven parks departments, seven planning departments, and 106 municipal politicians. The number of politicians and bureaucrats and planning offices and economic development departments would be funny if it didn't point so firmly to the fact that we're sadly overgoverned.

Fortune magazine called greater Toronto the best place in the world to work in and to raise a family, but today Metro Toronto is facing global competition and it can't just rest on its laurels. At a minimum, just to maintain its position in the international marketplace, it has to move forward, and right now we're not. Recent studies show that Toronto is not growing as fast as the cities that we compete against for business and jobs. Businesses and industries are leaving instead of coming here, and jobs are not being created as quickly. Our outdated infrastructure is not meeting the needs of companies that have to compete in the global marketplace. Just when new infrastructure and services are so important to economic growth, the municipal tax base in Metro is shrinking.


These problems simply have to be solved, and the only way to solve them is for everyone to work together. But how can that happen if municipalities compete with each other for growth in investment, if municipal politicians protect their own turf instead of working together to move the entire region forward?

That's why we knew we had to take action on governance and that's why we were prepared to make the right decision and take the political heat we knew would follow. One critic of the new act says that amalgamation will bring an end to democracy as we know it.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Yes, you're bringing an end to democracy all right.

Hon Mr Leach: I say it's just the opposite. A single, unified Toronto will bring greater --


The Speaker: Order. I will not say it again to the galleries. I will not stand for that. If it happens again, we will clear the galleries.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): But Al promised the opposite fifteen months ago.

The Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, I appreciate that, but what happened has nothing to do with this place. I will clear the galleries.

The Minister for Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I say it's just the opposite. A single unified Toronto will bring greater democracy. Today, with so much duplication and overlap, taxpayers have no idea who is accountable for what in their neighbourhood. Under the provisions of the new City of Toronto Act, people will have a very clear idea of who is responsible and who is accountable. This act is not just about efficiency and cost saving. It's also about making government truly representative, truly accountable and truly responsible to the people who elect it, and that's what democracy really means.

The province has been accused of taking away the authority of elected officials of the seven municipal governments because we appointed a board of trustees to oversee financial transactions during the transition period. But the board of trustees is not going to be involved in the day-to-day decisions that affect the residents of this area. Those decisions will continue to be made by the duly elected municipal politicians throughout the transition period.

The trustees' mandate is to make sure that municipal expenditures and municipal assets, assets that belong to the people, are safeguarded during this time of change. Part of the trustees' mandate will be to review severance packages. Given the practice of some city governments, that's only prudent and in the best interests of the taxpayers. Another part of their mandate will be to review contracts that extend beyond January 1998. I am sure everyone would agree that only makes common sense, especially at a time of so much change.

The trustees will also have the power to review sales of assets, and if there was ever any doubt about whether that power was necessary, it disappeared on December 16. That's the day when East York council voted to explore options for giving away public property to a non-profit foundation, giving away buildings built and paid for by the taxpayers of East York. Having a board of trustees that can watch over issues like that is definitely in the public interest.

We've also heard some politicians say that the advice of the board of trustees does not have to be recognized and that they have no legal right to do their job until the legislation is passed. That's technically correct. However, as the trustees' right to examine municipal decisions will be retroactive to the day this legislation was introduced, it is in everyone's interests to cooperate with them. In fact, the trustees have already had a very productive meeting with the chief administrative officers from the current Metro area municipalities.

Mr Phillips: You were going to run against me.

Hon Mr Leach: I would have beat you too.

We're listening to their advice and benefiting from their experience, and we are already contemplating some amendments --

Mr Phillips: You didn't have the guts to do it, Al. I remember that you didn't have the guts to do it. You told me that.

The Speaker: Order. I think the members have to understand that sometimes there's a little fluidity to this place. The member from Scarborough must understand the situation, I'm sure. I think we have a very, very short period of time until 6 of the clock, and if we can just keep our cool, we can make it.

Hon Mr Leach: We're listening to the advice and benefiting from the experience of the CAOs and we're already contemplating some amendments to Bill 103. These administrative changes will improve the transition to the new city of Toronto. The trustees are there to protect the taxpayer, and that should be important to all of us. We urge municipalities to work with them.

Another very hot button in this whole debate has been the referendum. Referendums have their place. I would be the first to agree to that. Public input is always important. But we also believe that in some cases there are more effective ways to gain public input. With respect to one Toronto, we believe the best way is through the legislative process and committee hearings, and that's going to happen over the next couple of weeks. I know the opposition will be pleased to move this bill so we can get to hearings.

Why don't we think a referendum will work? First, what question are you going to put on the ballot? What question would be most representative? "Do you want your city to be part of one Toronto?" "Do you want to keep seven cities?" "Do you want to keep seven governments and maintain the status quo?" "Would you prefer four governments?" There are at least 20 legitimate questions that could be put on the ballot and the outcome --


The Speaker: Order. Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: The outcome would be the same. The outcome of a referendum like that would be inconsistent and inconclusive.

How would you factor in voter turnout and the population it represented? Already Metro area municipalities are split on how to hold a referendum. The results will be suspect, they will not be binding, and the cost to the taxpayers is going to be enormous, millions of dollars.

Public opinion is important, but we believe hearings through the committee process --

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

The House adjourned at 1758.