36th Parliament, 1st Session

L146 - Thu 16 Jan 1997 / Jeu 16 Jan 1997




























































The House met at 1001.




Mr Cordiano moved private member's notice of motion number 34:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has caused considerable concern and anxiety among the residents of Metropolitan Toronto over the issue of municipal amalgamation; and since enhanced public participation in the decision-making process should be a requirement; the government of Ontario should stop its proposed municipal amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto until the residents have had an opportunity to participate in a referendum on this issue.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Ed Doyle): The member for Lawrence may proceed.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I am delighted to have put forward this resolution before this House to be debated today. I think it is incumbent upon this Legislative Assembly and all members of this House to recognize that the most meaningful thing we can be engaged in is the democratic principles we all uphold. For me, this resolution stands as a tribute to democracy because it asks this government to recognize the rights and the direct say of citizens about how they will be governed.

This resolution is not opposition for opposition's sake. What I am hoping we will do this morning and beyond is have meaningful debate. This is also not an effort to maintain the status quo, as has been suggested by some, by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. We recognize, and I think most people recognize, that the status quo is not acceptable, nor will it do. But I say to the members opposite, people right across Metro Toronto want to have a say. They want to have meaningful input into how they will be governed. There's a growing chorus of people who are coming out to public meetings, who are insisting that they be given a say.

I would also add, to the members of the government who are assembled here this morning, that you did not have a mandate to put this before the people of Toronto, to totally ignore their wishes. You did not discuss before the last election campaign as part of your platform that you were going to abolish the lower-tier governments of Metropolitan Toronto, that you were going to do away with local representation and you were going to do away with local governance. That wasn't something you discussed in the last election campaign.

I say to you it is your duty and your obligation to allow the citizens of this great city to have their say. That's why this resolution is being put before you today. People feel disenfranchised, people feel that they haven't been given an opportunity to engage their governments in proper debate and proper analysis and proper discourse. In fact your own discussion paper said as much: "Many people...feel disenfranchised by the process of modern government. Many don't believe government can work for them." Your discussion paper goes on to talk about how "Ontarians must once again feel like citizens with a stake in the public life of their province, rather than as spectators who pay the bills but have little say in deciding what government does." That's what you said in your discussion paper. That's what your government believes in.

I say to you that the idea and the use of referenda is not something that should be foreign to you; it's not something you should be opposed to. That's something you fundamentally believe in. You're basing this on your own principles.

You go on to say in this paper: "Our concept of governing arises from a strong belief in individual choice, collective stewardship and distributed responsibility for the future. In other words, we believe that individuals should decide their futures. In turn, the function of government should be to serve and facilitate those aspirations, not to rule or constrain them."

You're contradicting yourselves, because you refuse to acknowledge that there will be referenda taking place in Metro Toronto, duly established and created under the auspices of Bill 86. The form the referenda will take is not so important as long as it complies with the legislation that has been approved by your government. Every municipality across Metropolitan Toronto is doing that. They're using different methods to conduct their referenda, but they're all within acceptable limits. They're all within the acceptable parameters of the legislation that you put forward, Bill 86.

It is hypocrisy for the minister to suggest he'll completely ignore the results of the referenda when they believe in referenda. It is your government, it is your party that talked about them in principle. How can you refuse the people of this city their say and then talk about the use of referenda and make it meaningful? You can't do that.

I call on the backbenchers of this government in particular to deal with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the rest of the cabinet ministers. Make them understand that what they're doing is wrong, that it is fundamentally unprincipled.

Furthermore, I don't believe it's acceptable that this government use time allocation in committee with respect to hearings. There are some 500 groups or individuals that want to be heard on this matter right across Metropolitan Toronto, and it's obvious you're not going to accommodate all of them. This government is trying to ram this legislation through without proper debate, without proper consideration for what the citizens of this province have to say to the government of this province, so I think it's important that the members of this government, the backbenchers, implore their cabinet ministers to listen to the wishes of the citizens of this great city.

Finally, I will talk about the alternative, because the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is fond of getting up and saying: "Well, referenda won't work, because there is no alternative. What you want is the status quo." That's not the case. I think, as I said in my opening remarks earlier, that the status quo is not acceptable.


How did this government come to the option that it's chosen? They've refused to listen to advice from experts. The Golden report, a lengthy document which fully studied the question of what is to happen to greater Toronto, recommended against the abolition of lower-tier government. In fact the option contained within the Golden report is the alternative: Move to having a GTA council with local-tier governments still involved in what decisions are being made. So local governance was not something that Golden recommended doing away with. In fact neither did the Crombie report and neither did the Trimmer report, which the Minister of Municipal Affairs was part of. He's completely rejecting what was said then and he was a part of that report, so he's contradicting himself.

The government has also refused to look at the experiences of other amalgamations in cities such as New York, Halifax and London. In fact this megacity proposal is one of the least-studied options. As is well documented now, this option will not cost less to run. Wendell Cox, who did a study, said, "The theoretical savings will never be achieved," the theoretical savings that are to come from the megacity.

I ask this government, where did this option come from? We'll have a decrease in accountability. This will lead to greater taxes, as has been demonstrated this week and noted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. I quote from their press release: "A single Metro Toronto government will be more costly, leading to higher taxes. It will result in lower service" and make Metro "less competitive and...stifle innovation."

I say to the government members, the backbenchers, where did this option come from? It doesn't add up. It's not the preferred option of all the sound studies that have been done. The Golden report, the Crombie commission, the Trimmer report, all of the various studies have shown you not to do this. In fact when you dumped welfare costs on to municipalities, Crombie said, "Don't do it," and you did it.

The option is to give the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto their say. That's what we're asking for today in this resolution.

I'd like to conclude by saying that the strength of any democracy is measured by a government's willingness to allow dissenting voices their fullest expression. This government has a moral obligation to ensure that the citizens of Metro Toronto have their say. I implore this government, I implore the backbenchers to go to the cabinet and suggest to them that they not move ahead with their legislation to amalgamate Metro Toronto until the referenda have been held in Metropolitan Toronto.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm pleased to be able to rise today and speak in support of Mr Cordiano's resolution, and I want to say to you very clearly that all of our caucus, whether we're members from Metropolitan Toronto or throughout the province, are in support of this resolution and are in support of stopping what Mike Harris and Al Leach are doing in imposing the megacity plan in Metropolitan Toronto. We are absolutely clear about the need to do that, as citizen after citizen, individual and group have outlined the problems that are going to come about as a result of the imposition of this megacity.

We'll have a chance, as we go through the debate of the bill, to amplify those views, but I'm only going to speak for a couple of minutes this morning because I know some of my colleagues also want to have a chance to speak to this. I just want to point out that aside from how ridiculous this whole approach of the Tories is, what we have is a complete affront by Mike Harris and Al Leach towards any semblance of the democratic process in this province.

We see Mike Harris heralding himself as the person who maintains his promises, as the person who keeps his promises. We know that on this issue there has been a significant flip-flop, that there has been a significant turnaround in the position they are taking now from the position they took prior to the last election. That's a phrase that I wasn't the one to use. That comes from the co-chair of the same report from the task force on the governance of Metropolitan Toronto and the GTA that Al Leach and Joyce Trimmer and Derwyn Shea and Morley Kells and, according to Joyce Trimmer herself, with the support of one Dave Johnson, all coauthored prior to the last election.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): What did they promise people?

Mr Silipo: What they promised people in 1995, before the last election, was that they would not touch the local municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto because they believed in local government, they believed in the effectiveness of local government. Yes, they wanted to make changes, and yes, people believe we need to make changes. I haven't heard anybody in this debate really seriously defend the status quo. We certainly don't defend the status quo. We certainly are not saying, "Don't make any changes."

But the way in which these changes are being made, first and foremost, particularly because the result we are seeing is an imposition of a decision against any process whatsoever in Metropolitan Toronto, contrasts very clearly with what this government is prepared to do in the surrounding 905 area, where it's prepared to have a process in place, as it should. We are saying that it's important, it's crucial indeed, that this process also apply to Metropolitan Toronto.

We know there is a referendum on the way, and it's interesting. Just the other day the Minister of Municipal Affairs was mocking the fact that the referendum in Metropolitan Toronto is taking place in a variety of ways, through mail-in ballots in some places, through the traditional way in other places, through a phone-in ballot process perhaps in North York. He was mocking that, and yet it was only weeks ago when he brought in Bill 86, which outlines all those possibilities as alternatives to the traditional way of voting. Then he was praising them; now that people have taken advantage of them as a way to curtail the cost of a referendum, he's against them. Well, he knows that the referendum process is taking hold.

We saw a great indication just the other evening when Mel Lastman, the greatest reader of political winds I've seen at the political level in many years, has finally come back on board in support of the referendum. That tells me that people are beginning to understand what's going on here, and Al Leach has got to be shaking in his boots.

You know what I think is going to happen? We will know this only minutes from now, because later this morning there is an important meeting of our House leaders. We will see there what the plan of this government is, whether it is going to be arrogant enough to actually try and ram through this bill before the referendum process takes place. Let me say to you that if that's the intention, then what you've seen so far is nothing compared to the kind of opposition and the kind of battle you're in for across this great metropolis, because yes, at the end of the day, you have the right to make the decisions that you have, but you do not have the right to trample upon the democratic process.

You cannot in one place be praising the virtue of referenda, wanting to get on with establishing a law on referenda, and here, where it counts the most, where there's an immediate need, where there's an immediate use of referenda that would be appropriate and necessary, say: "Don't bother doing it. It's not going to make any difference. We don't care. We've already made up our minds." That's not the way in which good government works, and it will come back to haunt you if you continue to stay on that. That's why I as an individual and we as the NDP caucus will be supporting this resolution presented today by Mr Cordiano, because it expresses very clearly the need to oppose what this government is doing.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It's my pleasure to speak to the motion as presented by the member for Lawrence. Let me just say that this side of the House is in favour of real democracy through real, binding referendums. We fully intend, given the acceptance of the opposition parties, to move forthrightly and quickly to have real, direct democracy in Ontario, perhaps for the first time in its history.

I'd love to support the honourable member's resolution in its entirety, except for the events that have occurred over the last few weeks in Metropolitan Toronto, which have made a mockery of real democracy, of the need for binding citizens' initiatives in referendums.

The honourable member raised what he thought were some points of hypocrisy. As a member of the legislative committee that was reviewing binding referendums and other tools of direct democracy, my head was spinning, because it was like being in an alternative universe. Coming into the House, I'd hear the member for Lawrence and the member for Oakwood and others demanding real referendums for the people of Toronto, and then I'd walk across the hallway, into another chamber of this august building, and I'd hear Liberal members denouncing the government's plans, denouncing real, binding referendums.

I know that's shocking for you, but I actually have the Hansard. Let me quote from the honourable member for Windsor-Sandwich, Sandra Pupatello:

"The issue of referenda is simply an opportunity for the majority government to move the decision-making and the difficult part of governance on to a very simply asked question through the process of referenda, and that is something the Liberal Party cannot support."

She said that. I know this is shocking, but I thought I'd bring it to the attention of the folks back home watching.

She went on to say: "People will not take the time to see all the implications when they vote yes or no on a given proposal. They'll simply look at the most simplistic one because that is what's being made available to them."

We believe in the right to choose by the people of Ontario. We are quite convinced that they can make rational decisions if we have a real referendum process.

The choice for us and the choice for the people of Toronto is between real democracy, which we are pursuing as a government, and the unfortunate circumstances that are occurring within Metropolitan Toronto right now. Let me give you a couple of examples.

We would like to see true citizens' initiatives where the citizens demand a referendum on a particular issue, a binding referendum. What do we have happening in the six municipalities? We have six mayors sitting in a room deciding that they want to have a referendum on behalf of the people, they say, although the people haven't spoken on this through a petition, deciding what the question is, deciding how it's going to be funded, deciding how to count the ballots and deciding what positions they're going to take.

We have proposed, through the Legislative Assembly committee, a separate, independent commission that will ensure that the question is fair and neutral.

Mr Bisson: You know the Premier shouldn't make those decisions either. How dare the cabinet get together and make those decisions. Terrible.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Mr Clement: They are deciding what the question is. We have suggested that an independent commission should fairly administer the referendum. They want to administer the referendum themselves. We have suggested that there should be a fair discussion of the issues through an independent commission. They are not only setting the question; they are funding one side; they are on one side of the issue.

"Where did this happen before?" you may ask. This happened before, in 1994, within the city of Toronto, where the city of Toronto wanted to place a question on the referendum ballot on market value assessment. Not only did they want the question on market value assessment; they also wanted to pay the cost of the side opposed to that particular issue. Let me quote from the city solicitor at the time, Mr Perlin, who said that this suggestion by Toronto city council "goes much too far for what a council can do directly. It is not presenting the electorate with an informed choice." His view was: "It would be illegal" -- not my words, his words -- "for the city to engage in such a lopsided presentation of the issue. Council should not be telling the electorate what the answer should be."

Mr Silipo: What has that got to do with whether you are in favour or opposed to this? Come on Tony, get off it.

Mr Clement: He said that. This seems to be a recurring theme within the city of Toronto, a theme that we cannot accept because we believe in real democracy, direct democracy. That is the future of Ontario; it is the future of public choices.

Mr Silipo: "We believe in real democracy, but not today." Come on, Tony.

The Acting Speaker: Would the member please come to order.

Mr Clement: The future of democracy in our province is to have these choices, the choices that matter to the people of Ontario, being decided directly by the people of Ontario if either the government or citizens through a petition think it's appropriate. The future of democracy in our province is not Toronto spending $1.6 million, Etobicoke $250,000, Scarborough $75,000, East York $90,000 and York $200,000 to present one side of the issue and to determine the question on behalf of the people they are supposed to represent. We favour real democracy for Ontario, not the pathetic sham that the member for Lawrence is suggesting is the future.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I find this astonishing. Here's Mr Referendum from Brampton South opposing a fundamental exercise of a democratic right in Metropolitan Toronto. This is what the two and a half million people, the citizens and taxpayers of Metro, are most afraid of. They know this government is denying them the right to have a say in the future of their community, of their cities.

This is a government that before the election said, "We are going to sponsor more referenda." But you can see what the plan is here: When it suits them, they'll support a referendum. In this case it doesn't suit them because this government is systematically trying to deny duly elected councillors and the taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto the right to have a say in their future. If anything more fundamentally undemocratic has ever happened before in this city, show me. This is what it's all about.

The government belittles referenda. Minister Leach and Premier Harris said, "In this case we won't even listen to the referendum." They claim the referendum is too expensive, too complex for the citizens. What an insult to the intelligence of the voters of Toronto, saying it is too complex to vote on it. They say it is too expensive, yet this is the same government that is spending eight million taxpayer dollars on propaganda, trying to ram their megacity down the throats of the citizens of Metro. What hypocrisy. They say it's too expensive to give people a vote, yet they'll spend $8 million trying to brainwash people into believing that this eradication of democracy in Metro is justified. If there is anything that should be upsetting to everybody across Ontario, it's this denial of democracy here in Toronto. That is what is most upsetting.

I say to people, look beyond what this government is trying to do. Don't be intimidated by them. Don't be intimidated by the mega-press either. I encourage you to support the brave people who are fighting this tyranny. That's what it is. I would ask you to support people like Mayor Lastman, who finally said: "Enough is enough. I'm going to stand up to this government." I say to people, support anyone who will have the guts to tell Mike Harris and Minister Leach that they're wrong. Support people who will stand up for the principles this country is founded on.

You may agree or disagree with the megacity, but no one in this chamber should disagree with giving someone the right to have a say on it. This is not about boundaries, this is not about politicians; this is about whether the citizens of this city have the right to have a say in their future. Those of you who don't care about Toronto, who don't care about boundaries, who don't care about the mayors or the bureaucrats, care about that. If this tyrannical denial of the right to have a say succeeds here, where will it stop? It's as simple as that, and that's the fundamental thing we're trying to say.

The members on the other side say, "This member said this and so-and-so said that." That is just camouflage, because their own party went door to door saying, "We're going to support referenda." Their own party went door to door saying they were going to support local government. They've made a complete reversal and are denying people the right to say that. That's what's a referendum is supposed to be all about: when a government changes course from what its intended position was.


They have the gall to say that in this case they won't support it. I'll tell you why they won't support it. They're afraid of giving people the right to have a say because with the referendum there will be a debate and the facts will come out and people will see that this megacity madness will dump hundreds of millions of dollars in social services on Metro. It will destroy the city that the people of Toronto and East York and Etobicoke, North York and York and Scarborough made one of the greatest cities in the world.

I tell you out there, join the fight to give people a right to be heard all across Metro. This Monday night, join the growing number of citizens who are rising up against this government. There will be a couple of thousand people at the Metropolitan United Church Monday at 7 o'clock. I urge you to go and support people who are fighting for democracy and stop this government from ramming through this legislation which denies essential democratic rights and principles of participation in their cities. Rise up against the tyranny this government is imposing on two and a half million people. Don't allow it.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I'm very pleased to be able to join in this discussion and speak in favour of the resolution presented by the member for Lawrence. I recall a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing this very matter that I was saying we should be opposing the demagoguery of this government against Metropolitan Toronto because it speaks to some of the fundamental principles people are raising in Metropolitan Toronto. We've got demagoguery in Metro and we've got democracy in the 905 region.

The reason we've got democracy in the 905 region is because this government has a great deal of public support there. They don't feel they have the same support in the 416 area, so they're creating a situation where they're going to dump, harass, intimidate and hurt all the people of Metropolitan Toronto. We've got omnipotence for the 416 area and we've got discussion and facilitation of democracy in the 905 area. They are forcing amalgamation in Metropolitan Toronto but in the 905 area this government says: "We're not going to do that to you. We're going to hire a facilitator to assist you in the democratic process to amalgamate." We've got two sets of processes and democracies going on, and they're not fair for us in Metro as they are for the people in the 905 area.

Moving on to the issue of referendums, this government, this Tory-Reform government, loves referendums. We know that. Yet when it comes to dealing with the issue we have in front of us, they say, as M. Leach said just a couple of weeks ago: "Oh no, this is too complicated an issue to have a referendum on. We can't have a referendum on this issue where it's a simple yes or a no. It's too complicated," he says. M. Clement from Brampton South, giving another reason altogether, says, "Oh no, this is not a real referendum, and therefore we oppose it."

What you'll find from this government is that from one day to the next, they provide different rationales for why they can't support it. It's a shifting amoeba we've got on the other of this chamber. They will invent all sorts of different reasons to oppose this. We're saying to M. Bennett from Brampton South, if you really want this real referendum to happen, give people a chance. Give us the six months you are talking about and give people in the Metro community the opportunity to have that real referendum, Mr Bennett. Give it to them. Don't stop it.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Mr Bennett?

Mr Marchese: Mr Clement. I apologize.

Mr Bisson: He thinks of the bad old days under Bennett.

Mr Marchese: A real connection indeed, but I apologize.

So, Mr Clement, member for Brampton South, if you want a real referendum, give them the opportunity. Don't present this bill in a way that prevents those people from having that very real opportunity you want to give them. Stop it. Give them the six months.

What we have here in Metropolitan Toronto is a groundswell of democracy. We have never seen week after week where you have 300, 400, 600 people going to meetings. A growing democracy is what you are witnessing here, Mr Clement, and it's a groundswell. The numbers are numerous. You cannot deny that. You can't hide that. These people are fighting for democracy. These people are worried about losing that opportunity to participate once you amalgamate, as you have said you will do. You have said you're going to disregard that referendum once it is held. In my view, in whatever form it is being held, it is important for you to listen to it. For you in advance to say you're going to disregard that referendum is a shameful act of demagoguery and not democracy in this place.

The people of Metropolitan Toronto, not just Toronto, fear they're going to lose their voice in a government of 2.3 million people. They're going to lose that democratic possibility that they've been able to nurture in places like Toronto. They're going to lose that possibility to participate in shaping what a city should look like. Because once you have this great metropolis of 2.3 million people -- it is huge -- you're going to have a mayor with tremendous power governing a budget of $10 billion: huge. It won't be easy for the little people in East York and the other people in North York and Etobicoke to say, "We'll trek down to Toronto," if this is where that new seat is going to be. It won't be easy. Access will be difficult, democracy will be difficult, and participation will be limited. The people who are going to these meetings know that. That's why this democracy is growing, and you're witnessing it every Monday.

When you see the people in the next meeting at the Metropolitan United Church, you will not see 600; you will see those numbers grow. They're afraid of this lunatic ideology of this government. They're afraid of your lunacy. You've just announced in this past week the taking out of $5.4 billion out of the property taxes for education, and you didn't provide relief for people. What have you done? You substituted that cost by dumping a whole lot of other services on municipalities: day care, long-term care, welfare, ambulance. You've dumped libraries now; you won't share that cost with them. Transportation. You've dumped all of these things on municipalities, and Metropolitan Toronto is going to be hurt by that.

You've passed areas of responsibility that are properly contained and should be properly managed by the province, not the municipality through the property tax. You are forcing people to pay for essential services out of the property taxes. We have an ability by the province to raise money to pay for those essential services, and what you've just done is you've shifted an incredible responsibility of essential services on to municipalities to raise from property taxes.


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: This is lunacy. These members here are lunatics. That is why these people are coming to these meetings in great numbers, because they see that what we've got here is symbolic of everything that is evil in this province. That's why they're coming to the meetings, because they're afraid of what's going to happen to our province and to our municipalities.

As some members here have said, we urge the people of Ontario to be as loud as the members from the government are now in their reaction to my responses. You need to be as loud as you can for your voices to be heard now, not once this thing has passed. Once they amalgamate, the game is over and you won't be able to come back and say: "When did these lunatics do this? We didn't know." This is the time for you to write to the Premier on a note, a letter, "Private and Confidential," so it gets to his little fingers, "Private and Confidential," so they see it. Write a letter to Minister Leach, "Private and Confidential."


Come to this House next Monday where we're going to have an opposition day on this very matter to deal with this very issue. Come and show yourselves and raise your voices against this evil and the lunacy of this reform-minded government.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): If there's any lunacy, I think it was the years from 1990 to 1995 when we saw massive deficits in this province by the NDP.

It gives me great pleasure to rise today as the member for Scarborough Centre to debate ballot item 55, a resolution by Mr Cordiano, the member for Lawrence, calling for a referendum on the issue of the creation of the new city of Toronto.

A single city, a unified city of Toronto, will save money, will remove barriers to growth and investment and will help create jobs within the entire GTA region. Residents, taxpayers and businesses will all benefit from one Toronto. It will reduce duplication and overlap. Local government will become streamlined, more accountable and more efficient.

A recent study by the KPMG accounting firm shows savings of up to $865 million over the first three years and an additional $300 million each year thereafter. Now, $300 million is approximately the annual operating budgets of Scarborough and East York combined. Already within Metropolitan Toronto today, 72% of all municipal spending goes towards services that are delivered across Metro through the regional government. In other words, of all the budgets of Scarborough, Toronto, North York, East York, York and Etobicoke, 72% of all spending is for amalgamated services. So we're not going from zero to 100; we're already at a starting point of 72.

Within Metropolitan Toronto and the six member municipalities, there are almost 180,000 bylaws on the books, differing bylaws from municipality to municipality. One bylaw in particular in my riding that has come up recently is the fact that fur trapping is allowed within the city of Scarborough.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): Fur trapping?

Mr Newman: Fur trapping. The city of Toronto says, "No, you cannot fur trap in the city of Toronto." Scarborough is now going to be passing a bylaw that outlaws fur trapping within its boundaries. I think a single government within the new city of Toronto will make it easier for all citizens to know what the bylaws are.

Services can be delivered at less cost and improved at the same time. For example, North York is the only municipality within Metro that still offers twice-weekly garbage pickup. It also delivers this service at the lowest cost per household of any of the local municipalities. A unified city will take the best practices from Metro and from around the world and use them to deliver good local services for the best price.

There are various ways of gauging the views of your constituents on any issue, and this issue is no different. We can look at the number of letters that we receive, the number of phone calls, the discussions that we have with our constituents not only in our offices but within the community, including town hall meetings. More people have contacted my office this year regarding the fur trapper than regarding amalgamation of the city of Toronto.

With respect to the referendum, what will the question be? Will it be the same question across all six municipalities? How will the vote be conducted? Today, as I start my day every day by reading the Toronto Star to see what I'm up against, it says on the editorial page, page A20, that in Toronto the voters will get a ballot they can mail back. The cost is $1.62 million, comprised of $955,000 to conduct the vote, $450,000 for publicity against the megacity, $200,000 of intervenor funding to be disbursed by councillors in their wards for campaigns, and $20,000 to a group already opposing the merger. But nowhere does it say here that there's any money for groups that are in favour of a merger. No money. So it appears to me that the city of Toronto wants to skew the results of its referendum.

In Etobicoke they're having a plebiscite over three days, with a limited number of polling stations -- cost, $250,000; in the city of Scarborough, where I'm from, a mass mailing of ballots anyone can cast at selected locations or return by mail, or vote by fax or e-mail -- cost, $90,000, and it goes on and on.

Will a decision be considered if it's a 50% majority or a 60% majority or is it 66 2/3%? Will it require a certain percentage of eligible voters to vote? Will it be decisive if only 10% of the voters even bother to vote? I mentioned that the city of Scarborough has voted to have a mail-in referendum. How are the abuses, such as multiple voting, going to be controlled? It's been suggested by some that the ballots will be signed and checked against the voters list. What happened to the idea of democracy by secret ballot? How would you ensure those are the only ones who are allowed to vote?

I know the member for Lawrence now says he feels strongly about this issue, but I ask him how he voted in 1992 for Mr Turnbull's private member's bill entitled the Provincial Public Consultation Act which called for referendums across Ontario. If the member for Lawrence believes so strongly in referendums, why didn't he stand up and demand a referendum on the 65 tax hikes that Ontarians had forced upon them from 1985 to 1995? Why didn't he stand up to demand a referendum on whether Ontarians wanted the massive deficits of the previous NDP government? Our government supports referendums. We are the government that will finally bring forward referendum legislation in Ontario.

Much has been said about a single unified city of Toronto. I'm going to finish my presentation with one last quote, that of Frank Jones from the Toronto Star of January 6: "I won't be wasting my time voting in the March 3 referendum on amalgamation -- if the vote ever comes to pass. It is a scandalous waste of millions of dollars and a fraud besides, perpetrated by politicians desperate to hang on to their perks and power." Quite frankly, that's how many people feel about this issue.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I'm delighted to have the opportunity to speak on this resolution. The bottom line is that the resolution is saying, "We want the people to have a say"; what this government is saying is, "We don't want the people to have a say." The resolution is pretty plain and very clear.

If these government people are going back in history, I think it was in 1918 that women got the right to have a say and blacks had the right to a say somewhere around the same time. Today we are asking for the people to have a say. Isn't it rather regressive that we've gone back to disallowing people to participate in democracy? This government is making sure it doesn't happen. As a matter of fact, we've gone back to surrogate times when we could appoint somebody outside the 2.3 million people. The Brampton South member will now speak on behalf of the people of greater Toronto. What a shame.

Today, with one of the most important resolutions coming through here, out of about 14 Conservative members who represent greater Toronto, we only have about three sitting in here. One had the opportunity to speak and the others will be shut up because they've been told by the surrogate father from Brampton South what to do: "There'll be no referendum." We will be looking.

I would have loved to see the members from greater Toronto speaking on behalf of their people so they could have a right to speak, to have a say. That's what democracy is about. Give the people a chance. Oh no, this bully government, with the dictatorial way it conducted itself with Bill 26, is going to ram it through. Mike Harris said openly, "I am going to ram this thing through, because I have my way or no way."

Let me tell you and let the people here know they have a right to stop this kind of bullying, this kind of dictatorship. They can call all their members in the greater Toronto area and ask them, "Why is it you're not giving us a right to a say about our lives, about our children, about our seniors?" Why are you not doing this? If you are so proud about your bill, if you're so proud about your democracy, allow them to do that. You're so proud that you're spending almost $9 million to tell the people, "My way." They're saying: "Just open up a bit. Let us tell you about our way."

It could be that their way will be your way, but you're scared, you're scared stiff. You're going to ram everything through within the time you have and to hell with the people. Let me tell you that the people will not stand for this. You can run, Mr Harris, but you can't hide. Many of you in Metro Toronto, you can run, but you won't hide because the people will speak very loudly and they will get you and I'm urging them all to call --


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): They did last year.

Mr Curling: Of course they did last year, as you said, and they may be saying, "We have made a mistake." The newspapers are saying, "My golly, I thought they were on the right track. Dumping on the people like this." Mel Lastman thought it was right, then he said, "Oh my golly," when he started adding up how you have dumped. Give the people the chance to say because that's what democracy is all about, so that the people --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): What about a referendum on tax increases?

Mr Curling: Of course, if they have no other way in which to express themselves through public hearings, then maybe we should have a referendum, because that's the last resort for this kind of dictatorship that goes on. Then let's have a referendum. I believe much more in fuller participation than a referendum, but if that's the only avenue, then we should go that way. I support this resolution right forward and I hope you all in greater Toronto support that.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Indeed, I think the rhetoric has reached a new high or a new low, depending on your perspective, in the chamber here today. The member who spoke most recently, the member for Scarborough North, has said it's important for people to have a say, and yet he himself knows that within Scarborough there have already been two comprehensive surveys, one done by the chamber of commerce sent out to every member of the chamber of commerce and 74% of the business people in Scarborough have said move to one city.

But better than that, Metro councillor Ken Morrish has sent out a survey to 30,000 households, by far the largest and most representative sampling of any of the so-called surveys we've heard of so far in the press. So far, as the member opposite knows, within Scarborough 88% of the respondents have said: "Go to one city. We want efficiency. We want lower taxes. We want to end the confusion." That's what the people of Scarborough have said and that's why we're reflecting that with this legislation.

The fact of the matter is that if you want to talk about the real hypocrisy, the bulk of the time spent by the Liberal Party here today defending the resolution of the member for Lawrence was from the member for Oakwood. Mr Colle said in 1982, "I think the borough should be disbanded" -- he was referring to East York -- "because we find our taxes are the highest in Metro and our services, if not the worst, are among the worst in Metro." He went on to say, "The boroughs of York and East York should be amalgamated, along with portions of North York and north Toronto, to form a new Metro borough called Greater York. We need some sort of amalgamation," Mike Colle, October 18, 1983.

Then: "York council turned thumbs down last night on joining Scarborough and North York to become an amalgamated supercity. A motion by ward 2 alderman Mike Colle was roundly defeated on a vote of 9 to 1 after a two-hour debate."

The hypocrisy and the insult to this chamber. There is a process. The people of this province can go to their MPP, they can come to public hearings and I challenge the members opposite to hold town hall meetings to find out exactly what the people think at no cost to the taxpayers.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm delighted to speak on the issue brought by the member for Lawrence. While I would support it myself, I urge the members to support it as well.

I will speak directly to the issue for the few minutes I have allotted to myself. It says that the "government of Ontario should stop its proposed municipal amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto until the residents have had an opportunity to participate in a referendum on this issue." That is very straightforward, very clear, and I don't there think should be any problem.

I won't repeat what has already been said, but I'm going to read some quotes from a document prepared for and on behalf of our Premier, Mr Harris. It is a document that I'm sure the members of the government side, especially the member for Brampton South, would like us to forget, as they have already forgotten it themselves. Let me read you what it says on behalf of the members of the House and the people of Ontario who are watching this debate. By the way, the document is entitled Your Ontario, Your Choice. This is the document the Premier of Ontario has presented to this House on behalf of the people of Ontario. It says, I repeat, Your Ontario, Your Choice. Let's see what the Premier says to the people of Ontario about wanting them to have a choice:

"`We're looking at the possibility of government-initiated, opposition-initiated and citizen-initiated referendums.... We also feel -- unlike other politicians -- that referendums are a good idea and do not limit the ability to manage a government. We don't think it's unreasonable for people to have those alternatives.'"

That was Mike Harris in the Financial Post of February 4, 1995.

"Since taking office, Premier Mike Harris and the Ontario government have moved quickly to improve government accountability and increase public participation in the decision-making process. However, this is only the beginning.

"Among other reforms, the government believes that increased use of the referendum can serve the objectives both of greater accountability and of better public participation.

"This paper is merely the first step in an extensive public dialogue on the best way to incorporate the referendum -- direct democracy -- into our decision-making process."

It continues, and I would reserve my comments on the megacity for another time; this is too important today and I wish to address my comments directly to the issue.

"Mike Harris and the Ontario government believe that this must change. Government accountability to all taxpayers must increase. Public participation in government is both desirable and intrinsically preferable to `capture' of the policy-making apparatus by special interest groups. Ontarians must once again feel like citizens with a stake in the public life of their province, rather than as spectators who pay the bills but have little say in deciding what government does." Isn't that wonderful?

"For many years, Mike Harris has made clear his support for direct democracy. He was one of the first Canadian political leaders of this era to argue forcefully that the referendum must play a greater and more significant role in our decision-making process."

This was Mike Harris. What happened today? We hear that the true people are the ones to decide. To my colleagues on the other side, to the member for Brampton South who says who the true people to speak on behalf of having a referendum are, are we saying that the mayor of North York, the people of North York, the people of the city of Toronto and the various mayors are not real people, are not true people?

My time is up. I hope the government will support the bill as presented by the member for Lawrence.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lawrence has two minutes.

Mr Cordiano: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I want to thank the people in the gallery who have attended this morning from far and wide to hear this debate, the city councillors and others.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry, you can't address the gallery; you can address the members in the House.

Mr Cordiano: Mr Speaker, I thought you were being attentive; I was addressing you. I comment on that because I think it's important to recognize city councillors who have come here today and I'd like to thank them.


Let me just conclude, as my time is running out, that what I've heard in terms of the responses from the government side confirms for me that there is ever so slightly a bit of contradiction going on here. The member for Brampton South is contradicting the member for Scarborough Centre in terms of the use of referenda.

It was also indicated that the chamber of commerce was consulted. Does that surprise us? That's exactly the point we're making. Consult the average citizen, is what we're saying. We know you have the ability to talk to the chambers of commerce across this province. That's not good enough. The citizen in this Metropolitan Toronto area wants to have a say. That's all we're asking.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs says: "Forget the referendum. It's irrelevant. I'm moving ahead no matter what. It doesn't matter what the result will be." That is making a mockery not only of the use of referenda but of democracy itself. When you have that kind of disdain for democracy, it concerns me. I plead with the backbenchers to implore your cabinet once again to allow for this resolution to take hold. Do it for your constituents' sake.


Mr Jim Brown moved second reading of Bill 80, An Act to curtail Repeat Offences by Juvenile Delinquents / Projet de loi 80, Loi visant à inciter les jeunes délinquants à ne pas récidiver.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): According to the standing orders, you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): One of the greatest areas of current public concern is rising youth crime, and in particular violent youth crime. Each year, nearly one out of every 10 youths comes into contact with the police for a youth crime. The increased crime rates for the young have been much higher than they have for adults.

The Acting Speaker: Excuse me. Would you have those two rows cleared, please. There are no demonstrations, silent or otherwise. Please clear those first two rows of the gallery.


The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member from Scarborough.

Mr Jim Brown: Mr Speaker, that demonstration blew a minute and a half of my time. I'd like to have that restored.

The Acting Speaker: I'll have to address that at the end.

Mr Jim Brown: Mr Speaker, I'm supposed to have 10 minutes. Can I seek unanimous consent to restore the time?

Interjections: Agreed.

Interjections: No.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. I'll ask you to proceed.

Mr Jim Brown: Just as with the first reading of the Juvenile Delinquents Act, the NDP voted against it, which must mean they support youth crime. They're now denying me my full time allotment. They're soft on crime; that's quite obvious.

There are lots of numbers for youth crime. Youth crime is four times the ratio of adult crime.

Last June, I returned from the third homicide scene in three weeks. It was 12:30 am. A young man, 17-year-old Michael Amann- Ewaschuk, had been stabbed to death and died at the Main Street subway station. It was traumatic for all of Michael's friends and relatives.

That same night, when I returned home, I had my own experience with youth violence. I thought my street was different; I thought it was safe. I called the Toronto Sun to discuss youth crime and the safety of our subway stations. While I was on the phone I heard smashing noises. My dog barked and I went to the window. There were several youths smashing my van. They were trashing my vehicles. Youth violence was at my front door. I yelled at them to stop and they shouted back profanity and threatened me. I called the police. In the meantime, I took my wife's car to go to the corner and see which way the gang went. I shouldn't have done that, as they surrounded my wife's car, punched the car and tried to get in. They took running jumps at both doors and kicked with both feet. They tried to smash the windows and they attempted to get me out of the car.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Because they know who you are.

Mr Jim Brown: They didn't know who I was.

Never have I seen such violence, such hatred and such uncivilized behaviour. Those kids were out of control. It was mob rule. They were in a frenzy. Each was trying to outdo the other in violence. The police finally arrived and the kids ran off. This swarming occurred within two blocks of my house and the house of former NDP cabinet minister Anne Swarbrick. Our safe neighbourhood is a fallacy.

But my problems are nothing compared to the grief and agony of Mr Tom Ambas. Tom's younger brother Louis was stabbed to death in May 1995. Louis was stabbed dozens of times, but the police stopped counting at 52. He is survived by his wife, Carol, and two young children, Megan and Guy. Louis's mom, 69 years old, could only ask, "Did Louis suffer?" Tom began the Kid Brother campaign. He obtained nearly one million signatures. His attempts to get federal Justice Minister Allan Rock to change the Young Offenders Act were rebuked. He supports Bill 80. How can any one of the honourable members ignore Tom Ambas, his message and the horror inflicted upon his family?

Then we have Michael Amann-Ewaschuk, a 17-year-old with so much promise, a good-looking, all-Canadian guy. Have you, as members, been to a funeral for a youth? Have you been to a funeral for a young person who was recklessly murdered? I have, and it was heartrending. The murder was over a baseball cap. The kids sang a song for Michael at his funeral, Eric Clapton's Would You Know My Name If I Saw You In Heaven?, a song Clapton wrote for the tragic accidental death of his own son. I cried. Every time I hear that song I think of Michael. Michael is one of the catalysts for Bill 80 -- tragedy, sadness, overwhelming sorrow. Classmates sobbed, not understanding death; but death was real, not a movie. I remain, today, saddened by the experience and I'll never forget it. Would You Know My Name If I Saw You in Heaven?

Willy and Patty Ewaschuk and Michael's girlfriend's mother, Joanne Stanton, are in the members' gallery today. I thank them for being here. Willy started the Stop the Madness campaign to reduce youth crime. Willy, Patty and Joanne are courageous, and we as members must remember that it is our duty to set laws and regulations that keep our streets and neighbourhoods a safe haven. It is up to us to try to prevent tragedies like the Ambases' and the Ewaschuks' from recurring.

That's why I introduced my bill, An Act to curtail Repeat Offences by Juvenile Delinquents. This bill is within provincial competence. The pith and substance of my bill has to do with maintaining safe streets and neighbourhoods. Property rights and civil rights are in the provincial domain. My bill is similar to the Highway Traffic Act, which tries to maintain safe streets for vehicular traffic. The Highway Traffic Act certainly falls under provincial jurisdiction. My bill, like the Highway Traffic Act, deals with safe streets as well, only without a motor vehicle.

My bill establishes provincial offences for minor infractions such as loitering, graffiti, petty trespass, vandalism and swarming, to name a few. Violation of such a provincial offence will result in a curfew from 10 pm to sunrise every day and from 9 am to 2 pm on school days for violators of a provincial offence. Each violation means a six-month curfew. Each violation also involves a fine, payable before the youth gets his driver's licence. Three strikes and you're out. Yes, three violations and the youth is denied provincial privileges for three years after they would normally be eligible. Provincial privileges such as obtaining a driver's licence, purchasing or consuming alcohol, gambling or buying a lottery ticket would be postponed for three years. If a youth is acting immaturely, they are obviously not ready to assume the responsibility for these provincial privileges.

Bill 80 does not impose a general curfew but just a specific curfew for the offender, not for all kids.

The exemptions to the curfew include youth who are travelling to or from work, accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or for a medical emergency. Curfews from midnight to sunrise already exist for all Ontario youth under 16 under Ontario's Child and Family Services Act, 1990, totally constitutional. In the US, bylaws exist for a total youth curfew in 150 of the 200 largest cities: Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, LA. In the United Kingdom, selective youth curfews have worked dramatically in reducing youth crime.


Youth crime is indeed a large problem in Ontario and our constituents know it. The Young Offenders Act has been ineffectual. Justice Minister Allan Rock wrote to me on December 4 claiming that any legislation changes by the federal government will not reduce youth crime. Yet statistics indicate that arrest rates of 14- to 17-year-olds for homicides have tripled over the last three years; 65% of young offenders have been convicted before. Youth crime starts with simple, minor crimes like graffiti or loitering in a mall. Left unpunished, they graduate to vandalism, assault, break-and-enter and then to violence and even murder.

One youth in my riding was convicted of 20 break-ins and received five days' community work. That's not fair to the taxpayer, who foots the cost of the justice system, the cost of social workers who work with the youth, the cost of policing and the cost of legal aid. It's not fair to the youth either; letting them go unpunished for minor crime leads them on to more serious crime, all the while believing they'll go unpunished.

Bill 80 is an attempt to punish minor crime, to send a message to kids and to ultimately stop violent crime. The mayor of New York City has demonstrated that the attack on minor crime dramatically decreases serious violent crime. In 1982 an article in the Atlantic Monthly titled "Police and Neighbourhood Safety" postulated the "broken window" theory. That theory says that if a simple thing like a broken window isn't fixed, it's a sign no one cares. If minor crime is unaddressed and unpunished, it's a message that no one cares and that it's going to lead to more serious crime. New York City decided to attack the broken windows, or minor crime, and it's working. They've restored safety to their parks and subways, and a sense of security has returned.

Please support my bill so that Louis Ambas, Michael Amman-Ewaschuk, Ishmail Spence and far too many other kids will not have died in vain.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'm pleased to rise in my place today to address this bill, and I'd like to start off by saying to the member for Scarborough West that I certainly have a lot of sympathy with what had happened to him and his family and the other victims of crimes that he has enunciated in this House here today. But I'd like to also say to him that quite frankly I'm surprised by the applause he received from the government members here, because I in my very best judgement, looking at this bill, thought he'd only get maybe five or six government members to support this. I'm really rather surprised that there is as much support for this as there is.

I would like to remind the member that in this country we have a criminal justice system, and while the member says that from time to time -- and I agree -- it is not working, our job here is to improve it by working with the system and working -- an advantage that you would have over me -- with our Attorney General and our Solicitor General to make sure that we do make it better. There are, I believe, some very positive things we could be doing to crack down on youth crime.

You could be reversing some of the things your government is doing, because you've mentioned rightly what New York City is doing. Cracking down hard on minor crime sends a signal to major crime, and you tend to pick up people maybe on the way to some major crime because the car wasn't in good shape, they had a driver's licence that wasn't timely etc. They are finding that they are reducing crime. That is one of the answers, to be increasing community policing, getting more of the men and women who are in our police forces in our communities on the streets, back in the neighbourhood. That's what they did in New York City and they had a tremendous decrease in criminal activity; up to 50%.

What saddens me about this is that because the member himself has been a victim of youth crime, he is using his position in the House here in what I think is a very vindictive way. I will say to the member how serious I think these freedoms that he's impinging upon are. You have to remember, when you start to look at these in total, that hundreds of thousands of men and women in this country laid down their lives in two world wars to protect this country from this sort of fascist legislation you're bringing forward here today. What you're doing is denying the freedoms of our --

The Acting Speaker: Order. I don't think that the term "fascist" is parliamentary and I would ask you to consider your use of it. I don't think it's in order.

Mr Ramsay: Mr Speaker, if you think it's out of order -- I was referring to the tenor of the legislation, but I'll withdraw that if you think that's too much and say that I think it's totalitarian in its tenor, that it is denying people their freedoms and that we already have punished these people. In a criminal justice system we have punished these people; they have served their time.

To go back for something a youth did between the ages of 14 and 18 and say, "Now, up to 22 years of age you cannot drink or purchase a lottery ticket or play on a video lottery machine," I mean, what we're doing is saying, "Because you've made" -- and I'm not saying that there are not young offenders out there who deserve to punished and deserve to be punished harder and that our system is not working. But we need to work together and make sure that the laws are there and that the punishments are there and that the rehabilitation is there that is not there in the system as this government starts to cut down on those sorts of services in the jails. To go back and say, "You can't drink, you can't buy a lottery ticket," what kind of a country, a state, are we creating here because we feel at this time that youth are not being punished hard enough for the crimes they perpetrate?

We want to make sure that youth, if they got off on the wrong track, at least have the tools, such as a driver's licence, that might enable them to get employment, take them out of isolation and get to visit family. To deny the privilege, as it is, because of something you did as a youth, so that you cannot drive a car until you're 19 years of age in this case, is extremely punitive and vindictive.

This is a very regressive piece of legislation. I cannot believe that the government members would be supporting this piece of legislation. I cannot believe that this type of legislation would pass in this House and I would hope that the Attorney General would also be talking to the government members of this House to say, "This is not the way to go about correcting a situation that certainly needs to be worked on." There's no doubt about that. I would no doubt say to this member that there is a problem here and what I think we should be doing is working on this. This is probably one of these ideal areas where you could strike an all-party committee, because there's no politics in this stuff, I'll tell you. Everybody has the same concerns as you do. This is something we could work together on.

But putting something forward like this, I just can't believe that this House would pass this this morning. I would say to the government members, please read this over very carefully. While there is a problem and we all want to fix the problem, I don't believe Bill 80 is the way to go about it.

Mr Bisson: On behalf of the New Democratic caucus, I'd like to make some comments with regard to the bill being introduced by the member for Scarborough West. I want to say first off that I think the member brings to this Legislature an issue that is real, an issue that affects many people, especially in urban communities -- not specifically urban communities, but we do know that in some communities there has been an increase in violent crime. I would propose that it is not only youth in our society perpetrating violent crime, doing the actions that lead to violent crime, but it is also an increase across our general society.

I can tell you that in my community, the city of Timmins, we've seen acts of crime that have led to deaths on the part of many people above the ages of 18, 19 and 20, and in many cases those people taking part in those actions are 30, 40, 50 years of age.

The point I'm trying to make here, first of all, is that although I agree with the member for Scarborough West that there is a problem, I agree that government, both provincially and federally, should try to take some responsibility for the problem by trying to find solutions through a legislative process of trying to find ways to deal with reducing the number of crimes in our society, and I support generally what the member is trying to do. However, I guess what I want to say is that I very much want to support it, but as I read through the bill and took a look at it, and I'll listen to the debate further --


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): You can make amendments after.

Mr Bisson: Maybe members can make comments after and clarify a couple of points, and maybe we'll be able to do that.

But when I look at the bill, I see there are humongous problems on how you would ever make this work. I would really have appreciated it if the government could have had the Attorney General here today to speak specifically on these issues, because I wonder as a member how you would be able to enforce the provisions that you put into this bill.

Although you want to do something that I think is in the right direction -- you're trying to respond to an issue that is real, you're trying to do something to represent your constituents, and I respect what you're trying to do -- I look at it, and just to use as an example, it says, "A person who, based on conduct while under 18 years of age, has been convicted of two offences under the Criminal Code (Canada) or three offences found in the Criminal Code (Canada) or a provincial act is not entitled to consume or purchase liquor or to play games of chance in a casino operated by the Ontario Casino Corporation until attaining the age of 22 years." I just wonder, how would you enforce that? How do you enforce something like that? How does the casino operator or the employee at the LCBO determine who has been convicted of such an act and is subject to this particular legislation?

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Like any other legislation.

Mr Bisson: Just permit me. I'm not demeaning what the member is trying to do; I'm trying to be helpful. You need to explain to me and to other members of this Legislature how this would work, because I wonder --

Mr Murdoch: Compliance.

Mr Bisson: Compliance, but how do you make it work? Just give me a moment to explain, and then if you guys can explain and tell me clearly how this works, maybe you've got something here.

For example, you convict somebody and somebody then has those particular privileges in our society removed. A young offender is convicted, is subject to this particular bill, and he or she has not the ability to go out and buy alcohol or to participate in games of chance until the age of 22. What do you do? Do you give them a piece of paper that they've got to carry around in their wallet when they walk into a gaming casino so that the people at the gaming casino or the LCBO say, "Can I see the card or whatever piece of paper proves that you've been subject to an act?" Do you do a registry where everybody in the province who works at the liquor control board or at the gaming commission plunks the person's name or social insurance number into a computer to have their name pop up so that they're not able to buy the booze or not able to participate in a game of chance? There are a lot of problems with that, as you can well imagine. The whole question of confidentiality and the whole idea of cost, of how you would set that up, is something I would like to hear the members opposite in the government benches respond to.

I don't mean to be provocative here, but do you brand these people? Do you say, "You've been convicted, so therefore we're going to brand you and now we're going to be able to tell who it is that walks into a liquor store who has been" --

Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): How do you enforce a driver's licence suspension?

Mr Bisson: The driver's licence suspension is not a problem, and I'm going to speak to that in a second. But on the issues of gaming and liquor, how are you going to be able to tell the difference as an employee when that person walks through the door, that they have had their privileges suspended because they have been involved in criminal actions? How can you tell?

On the question of the driver's licence, it's a lot easier to do. On the driver's licence, you can order a suspension just as we do now if you're caught drinking and driving or if you've had too many convictions against your driving record. That's fairly easy to do. I don't argue that one, and I can understand some logic, because as a young person of 16 or 17 years of age, driving is a very big privilege. I can remember as a young man growing up, as most young men and women at age 15, looking forward to the day of getting a driver's licence. I understand that as being a deterrent, and I don't argue with that. I understand it, and I'll tell you, if I was a 15-year-old and I was staring in the eyes about to get my driver's licence and I knew there was a chance I could not get a driver's licence until the age of 18 or 19, as in this bill, if I participated in acts of crime, that very well may be a deterrent to my being involved in a criminal action. I haven't got a problem with that particular part of the bill, and I want to say that.

But on the other actions, which are two thirds of what this bill is all about, on the question of participating in gaming and participating in the legal activity, after the age of 19, of buying alcohol, having those privileges suspended till age 22 will be very difficult, I think, for the government to enforce. I say to the member for Scarborough West, I don't think your Attorney General is going to support this legislation. I very much doubt, if this House this morning votes in favour of this bill, that the government, meaning the cabinet, is going to support your bill. That troubles me, because it's an issue where private members come to this House on Thursday morning to try to represent their constituents and there is a problem in trying to get private members' bills adopted, period, in this House.

Second, I don't think with the way this bill is worded around the question of the drinking and the question of gambling that you can get cabinet support. I would urge the member, and I'd be prepared to assist him in that, to try to work with members of his cabinet, particularly the Attorney General and the Premier, to find ways of maybe amending this legislation in some way that can be supported by the cabinet and by members of this assembly. I for one don't believe suspending somebody's privilege of drinking is going to be enforceable and is going to be able to be done in any kind of way that can make it stick. It is going to be very costly, and how do I justify to my constituents in Cochrane South and your constituents, I would put it, when we're cutting money in health care and education and other services, having to spend money to set up a registry to prevent young people from drinking because they've participated in a violent crime? I'd have a problem trying to square that with my constituents.

But there are other things we can do. I think the driver's licence one is not a bad idea. There are some problems with that, but I think we can get into a discussion to figure out how that works. The other thing that possibly we're able to do is to take a look at where we have jurisdiction as a province, and look at putting in place programs of restitution. When a young offender or a person of my age -- of medium age, of course; I'm not a very old person --

Mr Preston: Oh, yeah.

Mr Bisson: Some people have told me I don't look too old for my age -- that I be made to pay back the damages to the people I have committed an offence against. The member for Scarborough West talked about where young people came and smashed into his car and kicked the doors and pounded on the windows. Those kids should be made to pay for the damages. Why should your insurance dollars and my insurance dollars have to pay for that? In the end, it means we all pay as a society.

I would say to the member opposite that it's something I think would be a good deterrent, to say we will put in place in Ontario, where we have jurisdiction, a program of restitution to the victims of crime. The government has moved somewhat in that direction in another area, but what I'm talking about specifically is the young kid or the 30-year-old who goes out and does damage, steals a skidoo and busts it, $5,000 worth of damage -- or a snow machine; I shouldn't use the brand name here. As it works now, the person will either get a conviction, for which they may have to serve probation if there's no previous offence, and guess who ends up paying the $5,000? It's you and I, through our insurance premiums. It's costly to us as citizens and it lets the person get off virtually scot-free. Why don't we look at getting into a system that says: "You did the damage; you take the responsibility; you pay it back"? Yes, the insurances pays back the individual immediately, because I want my snow machine back if it's been busted, but have that individual pay back the insurance company the money that it cost. I think that would be a good deterrent.

I've always found as an individual raising my children -- I've got a young woman of 19, my eldest daughter, and I've got a young girl of 14. I've found, as you, the most effective thing to do is to give them responsibility and to say: "Okay, you're big enough. You think you can take decisions for yourself. You think you know better than Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa. Well, you make the decision. You're going to have to pay the consequences." Like you, my kids have turned out to be fairly responsible; I haven't had a lot of trouble. I've found one of the reasons why is that we've given them that responsibility. We've said, "You're responsible for your actions." So I think that's one of the things we can look at.

If the member for Scarborough West had come forward with a suggestion such as that, we in the New Democratic Party would have no problem supporting that. I think that would be a positive measure, I think it would be enforceable, and I think in the end it would go a long way towards affecting the problem that you're trying to bring to this House.

The other thing we need to address is the whole question of why our society is becoming more violent. Our society is becoming more violent for a number of reasons, which are not as complex as we think. One is that the whole entertainment industry is a problem. I don't advocate censorship; I would not stand for that for one second. But we need to take into account that young people and older people alike are subject to all kinds of movies, television shows, radio announcements, you name it, that depict acts of crime as if they're something that's okay to do. I think we need to come to terms with that. A young person or an older person goes and watches a movie where somebody gets severely beaten up or killed and he gets all pumped up and runs out of the movie and then tries to act out what he's seen in the movie. That happens. I think we need to come to terms with that.


The other thing, which is the bigger issue, is giving people a sense of hope. I was in Attawapiskat last week. For people who don't know where Attawapiskat is, it's north of Moosonee by some 200 miles up the James Bay coast. About 90% of the people in that community are unemployed. What do you say to those kids when they're 12, 13, 14 or 15 years old and growing up in a community like Attawapiskat, where there is no hope of getting a job? That's a big problem.

I was reading some writings of the kids inside the high school, and what some of them were saying really blew me away: "What do you do to spend the time?" "There's nothing to do. Most of all I want a job, and I want to be able to look forward to something in the future. I see no hope, so I do drugs." I think that's something we've got to come to terms with, and that's not easily done. I don't put the blame for that at the feet of the government. We were government for five years, you were government for 44, the Liberals were government for five years; it's something we've all had to face as political parties.

In a non-partisan way, we need to try to find somehow in this Legislature a way of restoring hope to people in our province so they can obtain employment, so they don't have free time on their hands to say: "What am I going to do today? Let's all get together and go down to the mall and see what happens." I would much rather see younger people involved in a good system of education so they're able to get the skills they need to get to the job they will have later on in life, to give them some hope so they know there is a chance of getting employment.

There was a time not too long ago, and members of this assembly across the way would know, when you grew up you knew you were going to get a job in the plant, or if you went to college or university you would be in a profession, and you had a job for life. It hasn't been that way for 10 years and that has greatly affected our society. There are many children and young people in our society who have virtually no hope for the future. They have a lot of free time on their hands and they're saying: "Lord, what am I going to do? Well, I think I'll maybe go hang out at the mall and see what happens."

They see the advertisements on television, they see the sneakers, at $200, that they can't afford, so they go out and beat up the kid next door so they can get the kid's sneakers, or they go out and steal a snow machine or a car, whatever it might be. Those are societal problems that we have to deal with.

In the last minutes that I have I want to say to the member for Scarborough West that I respect what you're trying to do. You're trying to deal with what is a very real problem of violent crime in our society. I only put to you that I understand you're trying to deal with one particular aspect of violent crime, which is crime perpetrated by youth, but I hope you're not saying it is only created by youth. There is violent crime committed on the part of many people in our society, youth and old alike.

There is a portion in this bill that makes a lot of sense: the point about the driver's licence. I think that's supportable. That's something that probably could be made to work with a little bit of effort. I really wonder how you're going to enforce the other parts of the bill: the suspension of drinking and the suspension of gambling. I think that will be very problematic to enforce, either expensive or very bureaucratic, something I know you don't stand for. I want to hear you respond to that.

Also, I would like to hear you respond to the point about how we're able to maybe bring this back in some way to deal with some of the issues I raised about finding some way of putting in place a program of restitution that makes individuals responsible for their actions. If you can make individuals responsible and ultimately pay for their crimes, if there's been damage done and there's a cost associated with it, I would argue that it will not eliminate the problem but it will severely limit the problem we're having in our society.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to debate on behalf of the New Democratic Party the motion brought forward by the member for Scarborough West.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to comment with respect to Bill 80 brought forward by the member for Scarborough West. He's brought forward a social problem we all agree on: violence by youth and crime in our society today. Every day we open up the newspapers and we read about violence that has occurred by youth in our society. In fact it seems to be on the increase. Certainly all of us on all sides of the House are concerned with that particular issue.

Our government has asked Allan Rock, the federal justice minister, to amend the Young Offenders Act substantially. Our Solicitor General has asked Allan Rock to amend the Young Offenders Act substantially. All of those requests have gone unheeded.

I understand the member for Scarborough West bringing forth this legislation because of his frustration personally and in representing his constituents; however, I have a number of concerns with respect to the legislation and I believe it is going to have problems in the future. The bill is, I believe, fraught with problems and has a number of legal problems that we should consider. In the few minutes I have, I'd like to briefly discuss the constitutional problems, the charter problems, the policy problems and even the increase of power to police with respect to youth.

The constitutional problems: Although the province can legislate over health, safety and even crime prevention, there is a serious risk that this legislation would be construed by a court in pith and substance as an attempt by the province to legislate criminal law. There is no clear link between any of the restrictions that follow from a conviction and the activity associated with that conviction at all. If a young person is convicted of assaulting his school mates in the school yard during the day, what has that got to do with a curfew to be imposed upon him at night? Similarly, if a young person is convicted of dangerous driving or even the provincial offence of careless driving, what is the connection between these offences and the legal requirement to attend school?

The legislation in so far as it pertains to Criminal Code offences could be construed as an attempt by the province to create harsher penalties than those imposed by the federal Young Offenders Act, and we believe this would make the legislation ultra vires. There are a number of charter implications that we would need to look at, specifically section 12 of the charter, section 15 of the charter and, I believe, section 7 of the charter.

Even if the legislation is considered to come within the proper sphere of provincial jurisdiction over law, there are a number of potential charter problems within the legislation. The legislation effectively penalizes people, not so much for what they have done but for what they are; in other words, young offenders. The curfew is not imposed as a special condition of probation by a court sentencing an offender for a specific offence; it is imposed automatically as a result of any conviction. It is therefore a kind of status offence. Status offences have been ruled by the Supreme Court of Canada as not being valid and have been struck down under the federal Criminal Code.

Section 12 of the charter, which is the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, for example -- and I don't believe this is the intention of the member for Scarborough West. If a young person is convicted of illegal parking a number of times -- in other words, a minor type of offence -- or finds himself or herself subject to quite severe restrictions, their liberty could be entirely restricted.

There are a number of policy problems which infect a whole slew of pieces of legislation, some of which were referred to by the member for Cochrane South. I think all of those things need to be looked at before the bill proceeds any further.

From a criminal justice perspective, it should be made clear that a person who commits an offence is given a sentence for that offence. The aim of the sentence may be denunciation, deterrence or rehabilitation, but when that sentence is served, the offender has paid his debt to society and is entitled to be given an opportunity to become reintegrated into society. The young person who has damaged property, as a sentence paid restitution to the victim and performed community service work, should not be further penalized by the province through curfews or ineligibility to obtain privileges.

What I'm trying to say is that there is a clear overlap of provincial power by this bill, which I don't believe it has, with respect to the authority given under our Constitution to the federal government. I encourage the House to continue on with this issue, but I quite frankly believe this bill will lead to problems in the future in the courts. Unfortunately I am not prepared to support the bill because of those legal problems.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I'm pleased to participate in the debate on this bill, Bill 80. Quite frankly, it's unfortunate that a bill like this is even necessary. Something in our society has changed over the past two decades. Many of us talk about the breakdown in family values. It has nothing to do with the fact that parents are working outside the home today. It has to do with responsibility and commitment to the welfare of others and ourselves.

What has happened is that young people, many of them still children themselves, care so little about themselves and others that they need to break the law in the first place, let alone reoffend. It used to be that when you got in trouble at school, you got in trouble at home. Now all too often teachers are called to task for something a youth did. It used to be that when you were picked up by the police, it was a serious matter. Now all too often it's the law enforcer who is called to task for a number of reasons. It used to be that parents were respected, and it used to be that parents could expect reasonable behaviour from their children. This bill may seem harsh but, first and foremost, Bill 80 provides for measures of enforced accountability following convictions, accountability and the loss of privilege that seem to be missing today.

Let's look at the facts: To be a young offender means that you have to have done something that resulted in a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada or a provincial act. That means that somebody else's rights were violated in some major way. If all the youth gets is a slap on the wrist, what motivation is there not to offend a second or third or even a fourth time? How would we feel if our loved ones were hurt or our personal property damaged? How would we feel if our loved one was murdered by someone who had offended before and shouldn't have been on our streets?

It comes down to personal responsibility and having consequences for inappropriate and unlawful actions. Put another way, we need the punishment to fit the crime. There is simply no doubt about it: There is cause and effect in life; there have to be real consequences. It's time to realize that we have to go back to the notion that crime does not pay.

Bill 80 provides for such consequences. First, there's the curfew for individuals under 18 years of age from 10 pm to 6 am daily for a term of six months for a first offence and then 12 months for persons convicted of more than one offence. There's also the curfew for youth under 16 years of age from 9 am until 2 pm, when they should be in school. In my view, these types of curfews provide some structure in a youth's life that has the potential to keep them out of trouble and into something productive. It also says to young people that there are consequences to your freedom of movement.

Then there is the issue of the driver's licence. The bill calls for a delay in applying for a driver's licence if the youth offends on two separate occasions while under the age of 18. They must wait until they are 19 years of age to apply. All of us in this House who have children know that as soon as they turn 16 they want to apply for the driver's licence -- it's a rite of passage in our society -- so curtailing the process could have definite consequences and could be a way of keeping youth away from the wrong company and the possibility of offending or reoffending.

There's also the issue of drinking or engaging in activities that should not be available to youth under the age of 18. When you combine not being able to drive with not being able to drink, especially for a youth, you have a powerful incentive not to reoffend.

There is no doubt in my mind that the people of this province are tired of lenient youth offender laws and punishments. It's time we did something to bring back the notion of cause and effect and true consequences, and it is clearly time we did something to reduce crime. It is for those reasons that I fully support Bill 80.

Mr Preston: I am pleased to rise today in support of this bill. I have a five-minute speech all nicely written out. I apologize to my staff who have gone over and corrected my grammar and my punctuation, but after the comments today I'm going to have to deviate from this. We've heard comments about responsibility, and the main thrust is responsibility: responsibility for one's actions, responsibility to one's peers and responsibility to society at large. We have to instil a sense of responsibility in our youth today.

There are arguments that this bill is going to infringe on the rights of youth. My wife and I, in my non-political life, run a home for youthful offenders, as most people here know. I have worked over the last 15 or 20 years with probably 100 youth who have lived in my home.

The initial stages of this bill, the initial punishments of this bill are punishments that I mete out in the home, and I did for my own children: a curfew, loss of privileges. I'm pleased to say that over the past 20 years, 70% of the youth who have lived in my home have gone on to lead a life without further crime. I'm very pleased that these youth continue to call back. They call on Father's Day, they call at Christmas. They learned a sense of responsibility.

As a requirement in my home, I have a poster, which I would like to have brought today but I know you would rule against it, a poster about this size. It's got 16 squares on it, and 15 of those squares outline the youths' rights. One square outlines their responsibilities. The third square down on the right-hand side says, "If you're convicted of an offence, you have even more rights."

I think the response of the official opposition was probably expected.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Disappointing.

Mr Preston: It's disappointing, yes.

The speaker from the New Democratic Party, the member for Cochrane South, was very reasonable.

Mr Klees: It's about time.

Mr Preston: Yes, surprisingly, very reasonable. He also spoke of rights. The speaker from our party spoke about the problems with the charter. What about the charter rights of the victims? "Oh, these are only small crimes: a broken window, graffiti on somebody's garage door." That's not the way the victim feels about it.

We're not imposing harsh penalties on a youth who has committed a minor offence. We're saying, "You have to go to school and you've got to be in by 10 o'clock" -- that's not too tough -- "but when you do the third crime, you're going to have to do the time." To say that the sentence is over and we can't expect to carry it on -- in the case of the third crime, under this bill, the sentence does not end until they are 22.

How do you enforce it? How do you get the person selling alcohol, how do you get the person selling the tickets to enforce it? They can't, as they cannot enforce probation laws that work from age 12 through to whenever. But when you commit an offence --

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mr Preston: I hope everybody in this House will back this bill.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I am pleased to rise to speak to Mr Brown's bill, my friend from Scarborough West's bill. I think he raises with this bill one of the most serious concerns we have in our society today, and that's how we deal with young offenders and the young offender population and how we deal with young people who are not behaving or taking their responsibilities in a way that any of us would want to happen, and conversely, the effect that has on individuals and on property in this province.


Certainly, I think from the days of the ancient Greeks, when Socrates talked about the younger generation in effect going to hell in a handbasket, we have had this problem in western civilization, and probably in every civilization in the history of this planet. I know we have difficulties and we aren't addressing this situation at the present time in an acceptable way. We have too many people being victims of what many of us would consider to be just plain young punks. I think the member might even agree with my characterization of that.

My problem is not that the member brought the bill before the House, because I'm glad he did. It gives us an opportunity to speak to this issue. It gives us an opportunity to say: "Look, we understand there's a problem and we understand we have to deal more effectively with the young people in our society. We have to make sure they take their responsibilities as citizens, that their families support them in taking their responsibilities and that they can do that." My difficulty with this bill, not being a lawyer -- and that's sometimes a plus around here -- is that many sections of this bill, I suggest to the member, will just plain not work and are probably unconstitutional, would not be permitted to go forward.

Rather than going forward with this as a bill, I would hope we could maybe have a look at this as members of the Legislature looking at solutions that are appropriate in the space of the next few weeks, few months, whatever, so that we can look directly at the problem. The problem is serious and I'm happy the member has brought it forward, but I would think perhaps it should be a resolution asking that we establish or send to one of our committees a direction to have a look at this problem and to see what we can do in Ontario to deal with the difficulty of instilling, I think is the right way to look at it, responsibility in those young people in our province who for one reason or another have decided not to follow the rules.

I'm concerned that the remedies that are here are both unenforceable and probably, as I said, unconstitutional, so I would suggest to the member that perhaps the way to go would be what we have in committees. All members know we have a 125 process, where members can, in one of the four committees, and in this case the justice committee, have before them the opportunity to present a motion -- it can be by a private member -- to be considered for 12 hours, to have a look at this issue in a non-partisan, reasonable way. I don't think you're hearing from anybody in this place that the issue isn't important. What you're hearing from people in this place is that the proposed solution may not be the appropriate one: (a) It probably is unenforceable and (b) it's probably unconstitutional.

That's our problem on this side. I again commend the member for bringing the issue forward, because I think it's important, and I suggest these other remedies for him as a private member to move this issue forward so that we can as legislators debate this and perhaps have some hearings, get some people in who know about these things with some degree of expertise. We can listen to them and then propose some solutions that will be enforceable, will work and will assist us in making those kinds of decisions.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Just briefly. I have not had a real opportunity to extensively look at the bill. I think that with respect to what's contained in it, I would echo the remarks made by my colleague who spoke previously. There are some difficulties that I see with respect to amendments to the Highway Traffic Act that I have concern with.

I think the whole idea with respect to offenders is to rehabilitate and to give those offenders the opportunity to come back into society, particularly at a young age. I understand the need to curb privileges. I understand that is an attempt being made under this act with respect to curfew orders, restricting the granting of a licence to someone who is a repeat offender until that person has attained the age of 19 years. I'm concerned about that, because if we're talking about an offender who is trying to be rehabilitated, if that involves such an offender going out and seeking employment, for example, which would require that offender to have a licence and to use that licence, then you're cutting off or restricting access to those types of jobs. I think you have to consider that.

I would echo what my colleague has suggested in terms of looking at this very carefully, studying it in some other fashion. It would give us a greater opportunity to deal with what was intended and what can be done and accomplished through the various means that we have in this assembly.

I commend the member for bringing this forward. I think it's a truly important matter. I think it's an important matter with respect to what's happening in our society. The kind of criminality that's beginning to take hold of young people is something that is of great concern to us on this side of the House and it's not to be taken lightly, so I say to you that there might be other avenues for this to be dealt with.

Mr Jim Brown: Thanks to all those who participated in the debate.

This is a major issue in Ontario, and to now defer it to another method of attacking the issue is to ignore the issue, because it will take so long for this to come back to the House. My bill should be supported at second reading to get it into committee so that we can improve it, so that we can make it the best that it can be, so that the opinions of the opposition and the third party can be incorporated into it. If there are constitutional problems, which I don't really believe there are, but if there are, we can sort them out in committee.

If we vote against it today, you won't see it in this Legislature for years -- guaranteed. It's another delaying tactic. How many more kids have to get into trouble? How many more families like the Ambases and the Ewaschuks in the gallery have to lose their kids through murders? How many more victims will there be while we sit here and play our games? We have to vote today for this bill to get it into committee so that we can make it the best that it can be.

Bill 80 does kids a favour: It tells them that minor infractions will be punished. Experience will show, as it has in New York, that major crimes will decrease. Rehabilitation is fine; I want prevention. I don't want kids to get into trouble at all. We owe it to the kids to tell them: "These are the rules. You're going to lose your privileges, so don't fool around."


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal first with ballot item number 55. If there is any member opposed to taking a vote on this item, they will now please rise.

Mr Cordiano has moved private member's notice of motion number 34.

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.

Thank you. You may take your seats. There will be a division on this. We will have it after the next item.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will now deal with ballot item number 56, second reading of Bill 80, standing in the name of Mr Brown. If there are any members opposed to taking a vote on this ballot item now, they should please rise.

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1201 to 1206.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 55, private member's notice of motion number 34, standing in the name of Mr Cordiano.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Bisson, Gilles

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Bradley, James J.

Gerretsen, John

Phillips, Gerry

Brown, Michael A.

Kennedy, Gerard

Pouliot, Gilles

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Colle, Mike

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Cordiano, Joseph

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario

Wildman, Bud

Curling, Alvin

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

The Acting Speaker: All those opposed, please rise and remain standing until recognized.


Baird, John R.

Fox, Gary

Parker, John L.

Barrett, Toby

Froese, Tom

Pettit, Trevor

Beaubien, Marcel

Gilchrist, Steve

Preston, Peter

Boushy, Dave

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Jim

Hudak, Tim

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Tilson, David

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, W. Leo

Vankoughnet, Bill

Clement, Tony

Klees, Frank

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Wood, Bob

Doyle, Ed

Munro, Julia

Young, Terence H.

Fisher, Barbara

Murdoch, Bill


Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan


Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The ayes are 24, the nays are 34.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion defeated, the resolution lost.

The doors will be opened for 30 seconds.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 56, second reading of Bill 80.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized.


Arnott, Ted

Duncan, Dwight

Murdoch, Bill

Baird, John R.

Fisher, Barbara

Newman, Dan

Barrett, Toby

Ford, Douglas B.

Parker, John L.

Beaubien, Marcel

Fox, Gary

Pettit, Trevor

Bisson, Gilles

Froese, Tom

Phillips, Gerry

Boushy, Dave

Gerretsen, John

Pouliot, Gilles

Bradley, James J.

Gilchrist, Steve

Preston, Peter

Brown, Jim

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Michael A.

Hudak, Tim

Ruprecht, Tony

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Ron

Sergio, Mario

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, W. Leo

Sheehan, Frank

Clement, Tony

Kennedy, Gerard

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Klees, Frank

Vankoughnet, Bill

Cordiano, Joseph

Kwinter, Monte

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Wood, Bob

Curling, Alvin

Lankin, Frances

Young, Terence H.

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.


Doyle, Ed

Munro, Julia


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed, please rise and remain standing until recognized.


Laughren, Floyd

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Marchese, Rosario

Tilson, David


Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The ayes are 52, the nays are 5.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the bill passed. Pursuant to standing order 96(k), the bill stands referred to the committee of --

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): General government.

The Acting Speaker: The bill stands referred to the standing committee on general government. Is there a majority in favour? The bill is referred to the committee on general government.

There being no further business, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1213 to 1331.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): The Sudbury, Ontario and Canadian sporting communities lost a great friend and one of their most talented and committed coaches with the untimely death of Peter Ennis, who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.

Peter guided Canada's Olympic ladies' basketball team during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. This was the first time in 12 years that the Canadian women's team had qualified for the Olympics, and Peter Ennis was the person who got them there.

Peter, who was 50 at the time of his death, guided Laurentian University's Lady Vees basketball team. Starting in 1979, he maintained a winning attitude and team at Laurentian. For each of his 17 seasons, Peter guided the Lady Vees to the Canadian championship tournament. His success culminated in back-to-back Canadian titles in 1989-90 and 1990-91, and he was named coach of the year in 1987 and 1991.

Peter, though, taught much more than basketball skills; he taught dedication, determination and diligence. He instilled the real, human and lifelong skills of compassion, cooperation and caring in and for his players.

He will be sadly missed and always loved by his wife, Gail, and children Kelly and Liam.

Those who taught with him will miss his unique sense of humour, and those of us who coached with, for or against him will always remember his sense of fairness. Peter's motto was "Pride and tradition," which made him always strive for gold. I know he has forever attained it.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Later today the government will once again be calling Bill 103, which is otherwise known as the megacity bill, for debate in this Legislature. This will be the third day that we've got in some minimal amount of time on debate, and yet the government has yet to inform the public or members of the opposition parties with respect to its intent on public hearings and on passage of this bill.

Our critic for the GTA, the member for Dovercourt, and our House leader, the member for Algoma, have made it very clear that our party's position is that there must be extensive public hearings on this. There are already over 500 people who have applied to be heard by the legislative committee on the megacity legislation. There is great interest, and the numbers are growing every day.

We've also made it clear that we expect that these committee hearings should take place not just here in Queen's Park but in the city council chambers around Metro so that people can come out and can observe and be part of this democratic process.

We've also made it very clear that it would be absolutely anti-democratic for this government to force passage of this bill before citizens have their democratic say through the referenda and consultation processes that have been set in place.

We've yet to get any kind of commitment or guarantee from the government. In fact, it has been alluded to that their options are open to them and that they may well move a time allocation motion to force passage of this through before the referenda. That would be a shame and a travesty of democracy. All people should revolt against that.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre to inform the members of the Legislature of several of my constituents who will be honoured shortly for their achievements.

I'd like to congratulate Elizabeth Eick, Megan Kuzma, Melissa Martone and Tammi Shapcott, who this past year earned their Canada cord as Pathfinders of Girl Guides of Canada. These 15-year-old girls should be honoured for their dedication and commitment to achieving this award.

In meeting the challenges of their Canada cord, these girls had to complete three stages -- bronze, silver and gold -- in each of the camping, community, home, outdoor and world emblems and all sections of the "Be prepared" emblem.

Pathfinders and Girl Guides are an excellent and exciting way for girls and young women to learn to become responsible citizens, able to give leadership and service to the community. I am proud to have these four great citizens as members of my community in Scarborough Centre. I would like every member in the House to join me today in offering our congratulations to Elizabeth, Megan, Melissa and Tammi.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Today the Harris government has dealt another huge blow to the seniors in our province. Today, the Harris government has chosen to give the elderly something more to worry about, more to fear, more to lose.

The government is not content with the tremendous pain it has inflicted on seniors so far: user fees for prescriptions, cuts to Wheel-Trans funding, $40-a-day charges for chronically ill seniors in hospitals, and ending rent control protection. Now, with the introduction of a new tax system, the finance minister proudly boasts that this legislation will protect seniors on fixed incomes by allowing them to place their increased property taxes on a negative mortgage.

Once again, the Harris government is actually adding insult to injury. These are citizens who have dutifully paid taxes all their lives, made many sacrifices and built our province into what it is today. I would like to say to the senior citizens of Ontario that it is shameful and an embarrassment that tax hikes brought on by AVA might actually force some of them from their homes or force these tax hikes to be added to their mortgages.

The number of poor seniors is on the rise. We know that poor seniors are not eligible for a tax cut. We know that this is a group in our society which is most vulnerable to increases in costs for services. These are our seniors.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): We have before the House significant legislation that relates certainly to Metropolitan Toronto, but we also have proposals coming from this government that affect all municipalities across the province and will probably mean cuts in services, loss of jobs and increased property taxes for municipal ratepayers right across Ontario.

If I look at one small community in my own constituency, the community of Wawa, which is the largest community in my constituency, of approximately 4,000 people, already that community has seen significant downturns in employment related to the cuts at the Ministry of Natural Resources. Now we are seeing further cuts. The proposals on education amalgamation of school boards means that the local office of the public school and separate school board will close; those jobs will be lost. We are seeing the closure of the Carlson Wagonlit Travel agency that had a contract with the provincial government and a loss of 20-some jobs in that area. We're seeing significant effects on the private sector because of these job losses.

This government says its reforms are going to mean improvements for people in communities across Ontario. In fact, it means economic downturn and loss of jobs and loss of services for people.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): As I make this announcement, the Ontario Hydro generating station at Nanticoke in my riding is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Opened in 1972 by then Premier Bill Davis, Nanticoke generating station has a capacity of over four million kilowatts and has produced to date 320 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Nanticoke is the largest coal-fired generator in North America. Located on Lake Erie, east of Port Dover, this station was the first of three large developments for Nanticoke, which also included Stelco's Lake Erie works and the Texaco -- now Esso -- oil refinery. Over 80% of the plant's 530 employees live in the Haldimand-Norfolk region and both the station and its staff are very active in our community.

Through previous employment, I have had the pleasure of visiting the thermal generating station many times and I can personally attest to a very important fact: The strength of the Nanticoke station is its high-quality, skilled and productive workforce. This is one reason why Ontario Hydro has been able to cut electricity rates for many large industrial users and has been able to hold rates flat for all other users.

I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved with the Nanticoke generating station, management, the employees and their union, for a job well done, and my personal best wishes for their continued success in the future.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Today we have yet another mega-announcement as part of a series of mega-changes to Ontario and the beginning of what is, in the opinion of the Ontario Liberal Party, mega-problems for property taxpayers across the province who are heavily burdened now.

As a percentage of our gross domestic product, property taxes in Ontario are as heavy as most other jurisdictions in the OECD. No guarantees that the types of services that are being downloaded to municipalities won't become an even heavier burden for property taxpayers, those people on fixed incomes, those people who can probably least afford to pay what is in effect a very regressive form of taxation.

We know that as the province downloads health care particularly, those costs are going to go up. Long-term care: The costs are going to go up, while education costs stay the same. This party, the Ontario Liberal Party, believes that the property tax base cannot bear this, that residential property taxpayers, be they in Toronto or Windsor or Ottawa, will eventually see large increases in their assessments to cope with what will become exacerbating problems for the municipal property tax base.

We in the Ontario Liberal Party believe that health care and other so-called soft services ought not to be borne by the property tax, but ought to be borne by the wider income tax base, and that's the future of this province.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I want to take my minute and a half to congratulate John Sewell and the Citizens for Local Democracy, who have been meeting since December to fight and defeat Bill 103. They have been involved over the last month and a half in a way to be able to show the public at large that they want to participate and that they're offended with what is happening here in Metropolitan Toronto.

We are seeing an expression of growing democracy. They started in the early period of December with a few people at city hall, and those meetings started to grow. On December 23 and December 30, 300 people attended, and last Monday 650 people attended a Holy Trinity Church meeting to defeat this bill.

We expect that this growing democracy is going to grow at next Monday's meeting. We are seeing here an expression of fear. People are afraid of what you are doing to Metropolitan Toronto, of what you are doing to local democracy and what it means for local participation. They are afraid that what they're showing you through these meetings is likely to disappear once you amalgamate.

At this last meeting we had an appearance by the ghost of William Lyon Mackenzie, thanks to Eric Peterson, and Mackenzie reminded us what citizens of Toronto pay to have democratic control. They said the family compact has now been replaced by the corporate compact, and that's what we need to defeat.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Speaker, I want you to know I'll try very hard to behave myself this afternoon.

I'm rising this afternoon to thank and commend the Wellington County Board of Education for its positive and cooperative response to the Minister of Education's announcement earlier this week on school board restructuring. Under the changes announced in the legislation, the Wellington and Dufferin boards will come together to become one board effective January of next year.

In a news release issued by the Wellington board, Chairman Jennifer Waterston stated: "This board has never been afraid of change; Change is inevitable. Now that we know what this change is, we can proceed with managing the transition to our new district school board with Dufferin in an orderly fashion."

I'm very pleased that the Minister of Education announced in December that he is maintaining the same level of funding to school boards this year as they received last year. I am also pleased that the minister has indicated that the new funding model will recognize the requirements of special needs students and special circumstances.

I want to advise the minister that I believe the vast majority of educators in Wellington county understand the seriousness of our debt problem. They recognize that they must be part of the solution and they want to continue to provide students with the best level of instruction possible. All of us must recognize the dedication of teachers to our students. In this time of change I encourage the minister to work alongside trustees, educators, parents and students, building on our strengths, striving together to give us the best schools in the world.




Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): This week our government is making important, long-overdue changes to how services are delivered to the people of this province. These changes will ensure that Ontarians get the highest-quality services at the lowest cost, increase accountability of governments and improve fairness for taxpayers. An integral part of these important changes is the Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997, which I will be introducing later today.

Ontario's system of assessment and property tax is out of date, inconsistent and unclear. In many municipalities of the province, assessments are far out of date. Assessments are based on property values that range from the 1940s to the early 1990s. When assessments no longer reflect how values change over time, the distribution of taxes becomes unfair. Some assessments haven't been updated for 50 years. There are situations where homes purchased at the same time for the same price in the same community are assessed differently.

Past governments failed to take up the challenge to fix this problem. Because they didn't act, thousands of homeowners and businesses are paying more property tax than they should be. That's not fair, and it's harder for businesses to compete when the playing field is not level. Ontarians told us to fix these problems, and we are fixing them. We are creating a municipal property tax system that is fair, clear, more consistent and more accountable.

The bill I'm introducing today will establish the Ontario fair assessment system, which will be based on current value; ensure regular updates of properties' assessed values; make the property tax system fairer and easier for taxpayers to understand; cut property taxes for farmers and woodlot owners; exempt conservation lands from property tax; scrap the outdated business occupancy tax; simplify the process for assessment appeals; and cut red tape and reduce administrative burden for municipalities. Tax inequities that make the economy less efficient will be reduced. This will reinforce our government's moves to support economic growth and create jobs.

As recommended by the Who Does What panel, we are making sure all properties in Ontario are valued in the same year. We started updating assessments last summer. Property assessment will be kept consistent across the province and will be kept current by a process of regular updates. There will be three-year rolling averages to moderate changes from year to year.

People and businesses who have been paying more than their fair share will see their taxes reduced. The Ontario fair assessment system will bring fairness back into property taxation across the province. Similar properties with a similar value within a municipality will now pay similar taxes. That's common sense. Local taxes will now be tied more directly to local services. Local decision-makers will be more accountable to the people who foot the bills: the taxpayers in each community. Long-overdue changes will be made to the way local governments fund services through local property taxes.

To ensure a smooth transition, municipal governments will have flexibility to phase in the assessment system in a way that is sensitive to local needs. Municipalities will have up to eight years to phase in the tax changes arising from the assessment update, double the period that was made available in the past. We are protecting seniors and disabled people. Municipal governments will be able to bring in changes fairly for these homeowners.


We will also announce details of how municipalities will have the choice to apply lower tax rates to lower-valued commercial properties.

The new legislation will scrap the outdated business occupancy tax. This tax has been on the books in the province since 1904. It is based on very arbitrary tax rates that have absolutely no relation to the modern-day Ontario economy. Businesses have rightly complained for some time about this tax. The Crombie panel recommended we get rid of it, and we are.

I want to thank David Crombie and his colleagues who worked so hard on this Who Does What initiative. Their advice has been invaluable. As they recommended, we will return delivery of tax assessments to the local level as of January 1, 1998. This will give municipalities the tools to provide assessment services to meet local needs. We will be consulting with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, as well as other groups, on the implementation of this change.

This legislation and the reforms announced by my colleagues this week will pave the way for less costly government and lower property taxes in the future, and it's about time.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): This statement is about bringing fairness to farm property owners. As my colleague the Minister of Finance noted in his statement, we are introducing a new initiative aimed at protecting family farms from an unfair property tax system.

This government will introduce a new reduced property tax rate for eligible farm land and outbuildings to replace the current farm tax rebate. This measure amounts to a $171-million tax cut and responds to one of the major and long-standing concerns expressed by Ontario farmers for some 26 years. Farmers asked us to end the needless red tape of the farm tax rebate program currently in place. We promised we would do it in the rural economic development report of the Common Sense Revolution. We are making good on that promise today.

Cette mesure correspond à une réduction d'impôts de 171 millions de dollars et répond à une préoccupation majeure et de longue date exprimée par les agriculteurs et les agricultrices de l'Ontario qui, depuis près de 26 ans, réclament que nous mettions un terme aux tracasseries administratives du programme de remise fiscale aux exploitations agricoles actuellement offert. Nous avons promis que nous le ferions dans le rapport sur le développement économique rurale de la Révolution du bon sens. Nous tenons cette promesse aujourd'hui.

We are keeping our promise and we are following through on our commitment to make changes that will provide better services at lower cost to the taxpayer, to all taxpayers, both urban and rural.

The new tax rate takes effect January 1, 1998. The system we are putting in place will maintain a separate property class for farm lands which will continue to be assessed as farm use. Eligible farm land will be taxed at 25% of the municipal residential tax rate. Farms will still require a farm business registration number, as is the current practice. The existing method for assessing farms will stay the same, including the method for assessing the farm residence.

The farm tax rebate program was implemented in 1970 and, I stress, as an interim policy while awaiting property tax reform to correct an inequity in the taxation of farm land. That was 26 years ago. Where previous governments could not or would not bring about farm tax reform, we have created a system that is balanced and fair to farmers and their families. Families will no longer have to redirect cash that could be used for investment into their businesses or into their communities to cover property taxes while the system processes paper, only to return their own money months later in the form of a rebate.

Les gouvernements précédents n'ont pas pu ou n'ont pas voulu entreprendre la réforme de l'imposition des terres agricoles, mais nous avons créé un système équilibré et équitable pour nos agriculteurs et agricultrices et leur famille. Ces familles n'auront plus à débourser des fonds qu'ils pourront consacrer à des investissements dans leurs entreprises ou leur collectivité pour payer des impôts fonciers qui leur seront de toute façon remboursés en parti sous forme de remise quelques mois plus tard, après que tous les documents nécessaires auront été traités.

We have worked closely with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and other farm groups, and they are supportive of this new tax system. As the lead ministry for rural interests, we will continue to work with farmers and rural communities in implementing this very positive reform.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'm pleased to announce today that we are cutting the property tax rate on eligible private woodlots and eliminating taxes on conservation lands as part of the government's overall tax strategy.

One of my first steps as Minister of Natural Resources was to reinstate the managed forest tax rebate program after the NDP had cut it. I said then that this was an interim measure. Now I'm pleased to say that we are taking the next step of reforming the property tax system not only on private woodlots, but on conservation lands as well. We promised to improve the system as part of the Common Sense Revolution, and today we are fulfilling that promise.

We're introducing this property tax reform because it's good for our natural resources and our wildlife. Managed forest lands will be assessed at the same rate as farm lands. Now it will be financially viable to have trees on private land. These reforms will lead to better stewardship of Ontario's forests, which the international marketplace demands. Through these reforms, Ontario is better able to keep its markets open, truthfully saying that all our wood products come from sustainably managed forests. Also, by eliminating the conservation land property tax rebate, we will be encouraging land owners to protect these important natural areas over the long term.

These property tax reforms on eligible private woodlots and conservation lands will go into effect in the 1998 tax year. Through these reforms, this government is clearly demonstrating its commitment to private ownership and supporting our natural resources.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Responses?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I think every property taxpayer in Ontario needs to pay careful attention to what the government is doing today. I would just warn people in Ontario: Expect that as a result of all of the actions of this government, your property taxes are going to go up, and up dramatically. What the government has decided to do is, to fund its tax cut, it has offloaded on the municipalities millions and millions --


The Speaker: Order, government members.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It's a big joke.

The Speaker: Order, member for Oakwood. Thanks.

Mr Phillips: We now know who is paying for your tax scheme. It is the property taxpayers of Ontario. We've heard this week, now that we've heard some more offloading, I think now about $6.8 billion of former provincial government responsibility on the property tax. Some of the most vulnerable people, half a million of our young people who are on social assistance, are now relying on property taxes, and what we heard today is an announcement to revise property taxes.


Here are the questions that have to be asked: Table the impact studies. Nobody in this province is going to buy your proposals without knowing how it is going to impact on them. We'll want those impact studies.

You have decided to cut out $1.5 billion of business occupancy tax. Yes, you've cut that out; no mention of where you're going to find the $1.5 billion. I say to property taxpayers: "Beware. You may very well find you are paying for it."

You talked about reducing property tax on business. You're giving the municipalities no more money. Where is it going to come from? Listen carefully, property taxpayers: You're going to pay for that.

You talk about aiding seniors. The report that was done said hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars are going to be required by the provincial government to help seniors. No mention of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in this statement. I hope later today you will announce the fund for that.

The Crombie recommendation said, "Don't turn over assessment until this process is done," and then you misrepresent Mr Crombie's statements in your own announcement. You promised a couple of days ago that the taxpayers of this province would see a 10% cut in their property tax. I would just say to everyone, that is cutting services by $1.4 billion. Table that study, Minister. Don't hold out and don't put the mayors of this province under the gun. You're cutting support from the province for the municipalities.

The announcement we have here today, vague as it is, is a warning signal to the property taxpayers of Ontario that the government is offloading. The government has made promises to the business community that it will offload more on the residential property taxpayer. Crombie and others have said you should be providing hundreds of millions of dollars for bridging support for the elderly. None of it is in here.

So I say to Ontario: You're beginning to see the results of this cold, mean Common Sense Revolution. It's a tax break for the best-off in this province and tax increases for the most vulnerable.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): Minister, in your announcement today, a statement on the farm property tax rebate, I will agree with one point: that you have removed the red tape from the program. However, what you didn't say today was how municipalities are going to recoup $171 million. You haven't stated that. Mill rates are going to have to increase in order for them to acquire this $171 million.

We'll be watching to see if your shell games of this week continue. You've downloaded services on to municipalities, such as welfare and health care, both volatile programs, and you quoted that you would do something with the farm property tax rebate in your Common Sense Revolution. But in the revolution document you always said, and this is the rural one: "...we make a commitment to end the practice of downloading responsibilities on municipalities and regions, forcing them to raise property taxes or cut services." We'll be watching.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): In response to the statement by the Minister of Natural Resources, I find it extraordinarily interesting for you to make an election promise to have the forest tax rebate reinstated. You forgot in your Common Sense Revolution to tell the people of the province that the people who would pay for it are the property tax folks in their own areas. I think it is absolutely disgraceful for you to dump this kind of government --

The Speaker: Order. The third party, the member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): What a week it's been, what a mess we're in. I recall so vividly, and maybe you were on that bus, Mr Speaker, in the course of the last provincial election when Mike Harris toured the province on this large bus, accompanied by many of the members here, and it said on the side of the bus, "Mike the Taxfighter." If you saw the same bus today, if you were a municipal councillor or if you were a taxpayer, you would have "Mike the Taxhiker."

It started a mere week ago with the lure, with the pretence, through education taxes, that the average men and women, the property owners in this province, were to get a tax break. Then the other shoe was about to drop. In the past three days the people of Ontario have been presented with a long list, with a litany of downloading to the level which is the most vulnerable, the third tier of governing.

Public health is no longer a provincial responsibility. Public housing: You know the demographics. You, Minister, are an educated person. The population is aging. Nursing, long-term care for the elderly, welfare -- the most vulnerable. When the downcycle hits, this will take on extraordinary proportions. Policing: If you can afford police, it's okay; if you cannot afford it, pack up and go. Sewer and water, the environment, the TTC, roads, GO Transit, libraries, all sorts of transportation, airports, ferries -- if you're Mike Water, I guess you can walk across; if you're you and I, you can swim or sink.

What we have here is the pinning of wealthy municipalities vis-à-vis those less fortunate. In the future, with this regime, it will matter little who governs you; it will matter a lot more how wealthy you are and where you live. Let's make no mistake about it. This is hypocrisy; this is a shell game. Those who can run the fastest, those who are the fittest, the least vulnerable, will survive. but the rest of us, because we're all on a waiting list, we'll have to pay and pay dearly.

Today the last straw: actual value assessment. The Golden report said, "Put $200 million aside to avoid dislocation so that those who are the most vulnerable will have a chance to be at least like some who have more." What you have is a ghetto-like possibility. What you have is polarization, the systematic and deliberate erosion of the people who pay for all this: the middle class. The result of this revolution will be that those who are the middle class, with this regime will say little, and those who have less, the most vulnerable, will say nothing, but both, the most vulnerable and the people who will have less, will pay for the rest.

Where are the impact studies? Where are they so people can look and have their own assessment and make some recommendation? This thing is being steamrollered. For those who remember Macbeth, this government will have blood on its hands and you won't be able to take the stain away. Mike Harris will say: "I'm the Taxfighter. Don't blame me. Blame AMO. Blame your reeve. Blame your council."

What has been done today, what has been done through the week is nothing short of a travesty, and the people who can least defend themselves will be asked to carry the guilt. Where the guilt lies is right across the hall.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Every rural member of this Legislature knows that the announcements made today by the Minister of Finance, in conjunction with the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister of Natural Resources, are nothing but a downloading of costs for farm taxes and conservation land taxes to the municipalities. This is the single-largest expenditure the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Algoma.




Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): My question is for the Minister of Finance, the minister responsible for property tax increases across Ontario. Yesterday you defended your $2-million, taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign by saying, "I think the government has a responsibility to communicate with the electorate." Minister, then let the people know what the impact of your announcements today will be on them, because we know that your government has detailed neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood impact studies on property tax increases. Strangely, you're refusing to release those studies, even after requests have been made through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

If taxpayers, as you say, have the right to know, why aren't you letting them know what this will cost them? Why aren't you releasing those impact studies today?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The honourable member knows full well that what we have done is give to municipalities $5.4 billion a year in terms of education taxation revenue coming off the property tax and we have committed to $1 billion a year, which will continue to go on, totalling $6.4 billion a year. We have asked municipalities to assume responsibility for programs totalling slightly less than $6.4 billion a year. When this exercise is complete and municipalities are able to deliver a lot of these local programs far more cost-effectively than the provincial government could, they will have the ability to lower property taxes in Ontario, not raise them.

Mr Cordiano: It's becoming very clear to the people of this province that you really don't want them to know what's going on. You're going to increase their municipal property taxes and you're not telling them by how much. All you want to do is create that smokescreen of chaos, to confuse and hamper people's efforts to know what's going on.

Your property tax increases can only be described as nothing but dumping on municipalities. You are asking the people of Ontario to trust you, to go on blind faith: "Everything's going to be all right." This after this government's actions have led to a cut in education spending of nearly $1 billion and a cut in health care of nearly $1.3 billion.

I ask the minister again, will you release the neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood impact studies and tell people what's really going to go on with their increases in property taxes? It's incumbent on you to let them know. Will you stand up today and release those impact studies?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member talks about a $1.3-billion reduction in health care funding. He knows full well that this government made a commitment to spend no less than $17.4 billion on health care, and we have in fact exceeded that number by some $300 million this year. He was here yesterday and he heard the Minister of Health confirm that the province of Ontario will continue to live up to its commitment to spend no less than $17.4 billion a year on health care, and we will live up to that commitment.

We have a track record of delivering on our promises. We promised personal income tax cuts and we delivered. I welcome the people of Ontario to compare the credibility of the Liberal government's record in Ontario from 1985 to 1990 and see what they did with taxes, raising them 35 times and putting us billions of dollars in debt, and what this government is doing, actually delivering on the commitment it made.

Mr Cordiano: Yesterday the minister admitted to the media that approximately half the residents of Toronto could expect an increase in their property taxes as a result of today's announcement. People are really worried, small businesses are worried, because their property taxes are going to go through the roof. They want to know how this is going to affect them. It's incredible that this government is willing to waste taxpayers' money on propaganda that promotes itself, but you're not willing to tell people how this will impact on them.

Again, for the third time, I want to ask the minister if he will release the impact studies. We know they exist, so there's no use in your trying to hide them. Those impact studies will reveal to people, to seniors, to business people right across the province just how this will impact on them. They need to know. Once again I ask the minister, will you release those studies?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member talks about the statements the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing made yesterday. He forgot to complete the sentence, that 50% of the taxpayers in Metro Toronto, he estimates, will have reduced taxes as a result of this. If he will be patient and wait until the bill is introduced, he will see that there are going to be accommodations made for seniors and disabled people.

I remind the honourable member about the remarks of a colleague of his. On January 11, 1996, Liberal MPP Alvin Curling, Scarborough North, said: "Everyone has long agreed the property tax system is filled with inequities, but political governments have prevented successive governments from doing anything about it. The bottom line is fairness and guts. Both have been lacking, but I'm not sure this government will have the guts to follow through and change that."

He's right. Unlike yours, we did.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. New question.

Mr Cordiano: It's clear this government can only be described as shifty. Talk about fairness; there's no fairness in what they're doing. They haven't got the guts to release the impact studies.

My second question is for the Minister of Finance once again. Yesterday your old friends at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said your decision to dump billions of dollars in new costs on to municipal property taxes is nothing but a shell game designed to force municipalities to raise property taxes. That's what they said. Today your friends at the Toronto Sun said your plan to dump welfare on the backs of property taxpayers was "a bad idea."

Minister, given that the people who used to be your biggest supporters now think you're heading 180 degrees in the wrong direction, will you come clean and admit that your announcements this week will result in higher property taxes?

Hon Mr Eves: Absolutely not. I'm pleased to see the honourable member is now taking everything the taxpayers' coalition says as gospel, because he wasn't singing that tune when we reduced provincial income tax rates.

If the honourable member wants to talk about endorsements and lack thereof, we can play this game all afternoon. A quote today: "`Our members are both delighted and relieved,' said president of the Ontario Hotel and Motel Association and the Hotel Association of Metropolitan Toronto, Rod Seiling, `that finally fair tax treatment is a reality.'"

Speaking of Toronto Sun editorials, he might want to refer to the one on January 29, 1996. But the real issue isn't that some taxes are going to go up and some down but rather, at the end of the day --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Finance, come to order, please. Supplementary.

Mr Cordiano: My, my, how things change. The Toronto Sun goes on to say that your plans are based on a prayer. The Toronto Sun says your bailout fund is "a makeshift plan that probably won't work." It says the welfare bill that you're passing on to municipalities has no business being on the backs of property taxpayers. With friends like that, Minister, I don't think you need any more enemies.

But I want to get back to the issue at hand, and the issue is about property tax increases. You've admitted in your announcement that your actions will have serious consequences on seniors and others on fixed incomes.

Hon Mr Eves: Not really.

Mr Cordiano: It certainly will. Can you tell me why you think it's okay for seniors to take out new mortgages on their homes, why it's okay for seniors to increase their debt to pay for your property tax increases? Why is that acceptable to you, Minister?

Hon Mr Eves: That is not going to happen, and the member knows it. I've said in my statement and I will say later today when we introduce the legislation that accommodation will be made for senior citizens and disabled people.

Speaking of seniors, he might want to know what Al Smith, the president of the united seniors coalition, says: "The United Senior Citizens coalition supports the government's initiative to remove education funding from the property taxes. It is something that seniors have wanted for a long time."


The Speaker: Order. Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: Speaking of what people have to say about changing the assessment system, how about the member for Scarborough-Agincourt in 1990?

"Honouring Metro Toronto's request, the provincial government has taken the necessary steps to permit Metro-wide reassessment of property tax under a new system. This will ensure equity of tax burden between newer and older homes, bringing substantial savings to the taxpayers of Scarborough-Agincourt."


Mr Cordiano: What a bunch of bunk. This minister talks about seniors, and I'm telling him it's quite a serious matter, because seniors will be hard-pressed to pay those property tax increases. Today the minister has failed to indicate that he's allocating additional funds to offset those increases. You haven't announced that today. You haven't made any suggestion that this would be the case in any specific terms.

I ask the minister, where is the money going to come from? All you've offered seniors is that they can have negative mortgages. What you're saying to seniors is: "Forget about all the money and all the hard work you've put into your own homes. You can now go out and take out a mortgage on that equity," and when it comes time for them to sell those homes --

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): That could be your advice, but it's not ours.

Mr Cordiano: That's your advice. That's what the minister has been quoted as saying. You simply don't care about what's going to happen to seniors. You simply don't care. You haven't announced any funding for them. You've failed to release the impact studies. You haven't told us anything today that would lead us to believe that you're going to protect seniors against these huge increases. I ask the minister, show us that you're prepared to fund that transition. You haven't indicated that today.

Hon Mr Eves: To the honourable member, I have certainly never been quoted, as he said just a few minutes ago, as saying that seniors could take out a mortgage on their home or a negative mortgage on their home. That is totally untrue, and he might want to correct the record.

There will be every opportunity, as he will see later today when the legislation is introduced, for municipalities to make accommodation for senior citizens. We will have --


The Speaker: Order. Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: If the seniors are living in Forest Hill or Rosedale, yes, they may have some substantial property tax increases, but I think most of them there can afford to take care of it. Other seniors, by the way, in this city of Metropolitan Toronto have been paying more than their share relative to other people, and they will receive the break they deserve. What have you got against those seniors? Do you think it's fair that some property taxpayers in the wealthiest neighbourhoods in this country are living on 1940 assessed values while others are paying their fair share at 1992 assessed values? Is that what you're advocating?

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Today you've announced your market value assessment legislation. It appears to me that what you want is to have some people in Metro and other municipalities thank you for money that you're taking from others. It appears to me that the Taxfighter is giving many people in Metro and other jurisdictions a tax hike, and added to this are many other things, such as the offloading of costs, which in Toronto in particular means $200 million in increases, and all the other time bomb additions to the municipalities: property taxpayers will now pay for long-term care, with an aging population; they'll pay for public housing that needs major repairs; and they'll pay for welfare costs that will soar with the next recession -- and there will be one.

There will be no windfall for anybody in this, Minister, and your who does what to whom scheme means ultimately that everybody's property taxes are going to go up. Can you account for that?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member knows full well that everybody's property taxes are not going to go up. He knows that, and I don't know why he'd stand in his place and make such a ridiculous statement. I don't know what it is that members of the opposition have against a fair and equitable system across the province. Why is it that you believe that people --


The Speaker: Order. Members for Beaches-Woodbine and Fort York --


The Speaker: -- and the member for Cochrane South, please come to order. Thank you. Minister of Finance?

Hon Mr Eves: I think I answered the question.

Mr Marchese: He didn't answer the question. I said that as a result of this scheme many people are going to face a tax hike. That's a fact. He's taking from some to give to others. That's a fact. When you add to that these additional costs, our estimates are that there will be additional property tax increases. That's a fact. Prove us wrong. We're asking you to prove us wrong. Your scheme will hurt a lot of working and middle-class people. That's what we're seeing. This is the way we're adding up the numbers, obviously, but prove us wrong as you go through this.

You said the tax increases will be phased in, but if you're getting a 50% tax hike, in my view that's still a 50% tax hike. Phased in over a two-year period or a five-year period, it's a tax hike. Anne Golden, in her thorough study for the greater Toronto area, said it would take $200 million to properly cushion the blow of a move to market value assessment for low- and middle-income families who can't afford a big tax hike. We believe she makes eminent sense in this. Minister, are you prepared to put that $200 million that Anne Golden recommended into helping people who won't be able to afford a tax hike?

Hon Mr Eves: I don't think I need any advice from a government whose estimates ran the debt of this province to $100 billion, that never had an annual deficit of less than $10 billion in all the time they were in government. If I were the members of the opposition, I would wait until today is over and I would wait until the Minister of Municipal Affairs makes his announcement tomorrow before I ran off at the mouth too much about what is or isn't going to be. The week isn't over yet.

Mr Marchese: The minister has been driving in a limousine for too long. He's got to get out of that limousine and face the facts. Unless, of course, he can come up with the impact study to show us differently, we are going to assume from all the sources we've got that we've got a problem, that the property taxpayer's got a problem, that seniors and low-income people will have a problem.

You are spending $600 million on reassessing the whole province, yet we're hearing rumours that your reassessment is way behind schedule. Experts in Vancouver, and I talked to a few who run the system you're trying to emulate, say it will take three years to properly assess four million properties, not the one year you've given it. We all know that if the reassessment is done badly, it will be a waste of $60 million. In fact, if it's done badly, the whole province will be hurt. I ask you, have you looked at this? Do you have the resources to do this properly in the one year you've given this project? If you don't and you do it wrong, all of us will be hurt in Ontario.

Hon Mr Eves: We're not in British Columbia and this isn't 1982. We are in Ontario and it's 1997. We do have more updated methods in 1997 of assessing properties than they did in 1982.

The member might want to look at some quotes from the Golden report, which of course his government commissioned, and he might also want to look at some reports from the Fair Tax Commission that his government commissioned to see what they have to say about current value assessment and getting rid of business occupancy tax.


The Speaker: New question.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a question for the government House leader. Minister, I want to ask you about Bill 103. We know from your discussions and your intentions stated this morning at the House leaders' meeting that you may very well be bringing in next week, as early as Monday afternoon for debate on Tuesday, a time allocation motion on Bill 103. That, for the public, is a closure motion which would shut down debate on second reading and limit severely the time for debate in committee of this important bill to maybe a few weeks, and most importantly, ensure that the bill is finished and done with long before the referendum takes place in Metropolitan Toronto. Minister, will you tell us today that you will not bring in that kind of motion next week?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): First of all, I would indicate that there is only one party in this House limiting the debate on this issue at the present time, and that's the third party. Through their constant motions to adjourn the House, the members of this House have not had the opportunity to debate. The government is here prepared to debate, my sense is that the opposition party is prepared to debate this issue, but the third party for some reason or another has restricted the ability of this House to debate Bill 103.

I will say that the public hearings on this particular bill, as are all public hearings on all bills, are the subject of debate between the House leaders. The topic was mentioned this morning. The issue has not been finalized. I can assure you that we will carry on negotiations and I can assure you that at the end of the day there will be numerous public hearings and everybody will have an opportunity to have their say.

Mr Silipo: Minister, we strongly oppose this bill. You know that. We can all stand here and talk and debate this bill for a long time, but we believe it's more important for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto to have their say than it is for us in this House to be debating this bill. We believe that it's essential and beyond any negotiations that the bill not pass until the referendum has taken place.

If you had any decency left in terms of respect for the process and respect for the people of Metropolitan Toronto, then I would suggest to you, unless you're afraid of the referendum, that you would be prepared to stand in your place today and clearly guarantee that you would not ram the bill through before the referendum takes place. You have until the end of March, which is long after the referendum. Will you stand in your place today and guarantee that the bill will not be rammed through before the referendum takes place?

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite talks in terms of respect for the House. I ask you, is there respect for this House in continually calling for motions of adjournment, whereby the people of Ontario tuning in to hear the debate see nothing and hear nothing but bells ringing and empty space? I would suggest there would be a higher level of sincerity involved in the question if the third party permitted the debate to proceed, permitted all the ideas to come out, permitted the full discussion to take place.

The government is committed to public hearings, the government is committed to hearing the people, and the process will be negotiated through the House leaders.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): My supplementary is to the same minister, and I want to assure him and his colleagues that we are indeed sincere. We're sincere in our desire to ensure that the people of Metropolitan Toronto have a real say and have input into this legislation, and we will do everything possible to ensure that this bill does not pass until after the people of this city and the metropolitan area have had an opportunity to express their democratic will.

The government cannot assume that this legislation is going to pass without significant amendment based on the will of the people of this region.

Will the minister assure us that the legislation will not be passed until after the referendum, and in the meantime that the ads his government is airing, acting as if this legislation and other pieces of legislation have been passed, are withdrawn?

Hon David Johnson: This outrage from the House leader of the third party, the same party that is preventing debate on this very piece of legislation in the House, the same party that when in government believed so much in democracy that it severely limited debate on Bill 40, for example, severely limited debate on market value assessment and virtually --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): There were six weeks of public hearings and 18 months in the House. We limited debate after 18 months.

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South.

Hon David Johnson: And yes, the social contract, which did not get the debate it deserved. But I will assure the members opposite that this government is committed to full public hearings, that the people, not only the people in Metropolitan Toronto, will have every opportunity to speak to this issue. Indeed, there are many people living outside Metropolitan Toronto who have an interest in this matter, and they will also have full opportunity through the public hearing process, which will be negotiated with the House leaders.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance, and I want to follow up on my deputy leader's question about the impact studies that have been done. You are proceeding with changes in property tax that will have a huge impact on every property taxpayer in the province. We know you have three studies that you are keeping secret from the people of Ontario, studies paid for by the taxpayer, studies that have been used to reach your conclusion, studies that frankly you owe to the people of Ontario. Because this is so important to every single person in the province, will you agree today to release those three studies?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member knows quite well that nobody can say with an exact degree of accuracy until --


Hon Mr Eves: No, that's true. Until the reassessments are done, how do you know what the assessment is going to be? But one can surmise from this that in any community or area of the province that has a relatively recent reassessment, such as 1988 values or 1992 values, the change will be minimal, if any, and it may well be reduced taxation, if he knows anything about the real estate market between 1988 and 1997.

As with his positive, supportive quote for a current-value assessment system in 1990 when he was a member of the government of the day, he will know that yes, there will be winners and losers in Metropolitan Toronto; there is no doubt about that. For the people who will have to pay more because their value is a 1940 assessment, the ability will be there to phase it in. Seniors and disabled people will be protected.

Mr Phillips: Let's be very direct and clear and straightforward with you, because the people of Ontario are watching you waffle and avoid the answer and hide the studies.

Hon Mr Eves: I am not waffling.

Mr Phillips: Yes, you are. The fact of the matter is -- and I hope the people of Ontario are watching this -- that the government has three studies that you paid for, that the taxpayers paid for, that show the impact of these tax changes. You owe them to the people of Ontario. If this thing is so good, they should be out fully in the public.

You will be forced eventually to release this. Eventually, you will. Why don't you simply do the honourable thing and today agree immediately? The reports have been done. You have them in your office. They show the impact of your changes. They were paid for by the taxpayers. There is no reason for you to keep them secret. Will you agree today to release those studies so we can have a sensible discussion about your bill?

Hon Mr Eves: Talking about doing the honourable thing, I heard the member say yesterday and I heard him again say today in his reply to ministerial statements that I was quoted yesterday as saying unequivocally that everybody would get a 10% tax reduction in the province of Ontario. He knows full well that is inaccurate. He was standing right beside me in the scrum when I was being interviewed. If you want me to read my quote in its entirety I'll be more than happy to do so. Will you do the honourable thing and stand up and apologize for that misinformation?

The Speaker: Order. Minister of Finance, it's not parliamentary.

Hon Mr Eves: Inaccurate information, Mr Speaker.

Mr Phillips: I assume firstly the minister will do the honourable thing and table the studies.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, there are no more questions. That was the final supplementary.


The Speaker: No, that's just not how it works.



Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the Minister of Health. Minister, you will know that this morning a press conference was held by the service employees' union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represent a large number of nursing home workers in this province. Those two unions, which are very concerned about the residents who live in nursing homes in this province, documented some of the decreases in the quality of care in our nursing homes as a result of a change in regulation that you made in your government.

Last June you removed the requirement for a minimum, and I emphasize the word "minimum," of 2.25 hours of care for each of the residents per day. That resulted in the layoff of many nursing home workers, but more important resulted in a substantial decrease in the quality of care. Why did you do that at the expense of nursing home residents, other than simply trying to lower the cost of nursing homes for the private nursing homes?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): What I'm pleased to say is that last year the Ministry of Health introduced needs-based funding. In other words, the funding is tailored to the needs of the residents involved in the long-term-care facilities, in the homes for the aged and the nursing homes. Previously, it had been a flat formula.

This is something that has long been advocated, for example, by the Ontario Nursing Home Association. It's a fairer way of dealing with the needs of residents in homes across Ontario. There was not a nickel reduced. The total amount of money was protected. It was redivided. Seventy-five per cent of the facilities actually received an increase in funding, across Ontario, and that, instead of reducing jobs, actually increased the number of jobs by over 200 across Ontario. So this is a fairer system and it recognizes the needs in our long-term --

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

Mr Cooke: I wasn't suggesting that the government was spending less money. I guess my concern was that less money was going to the residents and perhaps more money was going to the nursing home owners. These two unions have documented the fact that there were significant layoffs at the expense of the residents.

Let me ask the minister one other question. In the disentanglement announcements this week, you have offloaded to the municipalities half the costs of long-term care. Can the minister tell us today, is he prepared to make a commitment that as to municipal homes for the aged, you will not allow them to privatize, which would result in a further decrease in the quality of care for residents in this province?

Hon David Johnson: I take great issue with reduction in terms of standards. I think what we've done through this formula -- and I might say it's something that the previous government also attempted to do in 1992 and 1993, to introduce needs-based funding, but because of the union objections they back-tracked, and back-tracked against the wishes of the Ontario Nursing Home Association, for example.

We are committed to better care in the long-term-care facilities, and we will continue as a province to set the standards; the compliance standards will continue through the province. There are advisory teams of registered nurses who are monitoring each home and the ministry will continue to work with each home to ensure a high quality of care.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): My question is for the minister responsible for seniors. Sixty per cent of the property taxes paid by Uxbridge residents in my riding of Durham-York goes towards education. On Monday the government announced changes that will take education expenses off the property tax rolls. I have been talking to seniors in my riding and they want the minister responsible for seniors to explain how this change will affect seniors in Durham-York and across the province.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): Ontario's 1.4 million seniors over the age of 65, whether they're paying property taxes directly on their home or indirectly through their rent, have been telling politicians at every level of government of the growing costs of education. Premier Davis was the first Premier 20 years ago to recognize this and he brought in the first tax grant program for seniors.

Our Premier, Mike Harris, has gone the next logical step, having listened to seniors, by lifting these property taxes associated with education off the property bill. This is good news for seniors on fixed incomes because they are painfully aware that enrolment in the last 10 years has only gone up 16%, but their taxes have gone up 120%.

The bottom line --


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): You are screwing seniors the way you did injured workers.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Hamilton Centre, the heckling; it's difficult to hear the minister.

Mr Christopherson: The minister is difficult as well.

The Speaker: Well, the member for Hamilton Centre, I'm not going to have a debate with you. I'm just asking you to come to order. Minister.

Hon Mr Jackson: This government is removing those costs that are spiralling out of control, and seniors are aware of it and they have asked for direct accountability. The truth is that an 82-year-old widow in Uxbridge can hold her local mayor more accountable than she can her local trustee, so seniors have asked for this accountability and this government has listened.

Mrs Munro: It is my understanding the minister has constantly consulted with seniors over the years, first as an opposition member and now as minister responsible for seniors. Terry Jones, a senior living in Beaverton, told me that this change is long overdue and is a major step in the right direction. Can the minister tell members of the Legislature how seniors have reacted to the news that education has been taken off the property tax rolls?

Hon Mr Jackson: There are quite a few former public and separate school trustees who are in this House, on all sides of the House, who are now MPPs, who are aware. With some of them, when they left as a trustee, 40% of their municipal taxes was going to education. Now in some parts of this province it's as high as 70%.

It's not surprising that the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, representing half a million seniors, submitted a resolution to this province stating: "Resistance is growing, especially among the elderly, to paying the ever-growing education levies. Much of the crippling municipal tax burden is caused by education taxes." That's why their president, Al Smith, has indicated clearly that he is pleased that the provincial government of Ontario has moved in this direction. He has openly stated that the budgets at municipal level would be held more accountable and that this is good news for seniors. That is why we are delivering this program for seniors and we've been listening to what they've had to tell us.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Health. This is a question in connection with your government's really shocking announcement that you're dumping health care on the municipalities.

On Tuesday the Minister of Community and Social Services told us about the new long-term-care agency to coordinate the care for sick people in this province, for the disabled and for frail seniors, and that this agency -- I asked a question, to comment on how it was going to pool property taxes from one area of the province to another and her answer was as follows: "I'm not...sure what he's" -- in this case it's me -- "referencing when he talks about allocating taxes. They will be doing no such thing."

Minister, let me ask you the same question: Will the province's new long-term-care agency, which by the way only gives municipalities a one-third interest in decision-making, be collecting property tax money from every municipality across Ontario, including those which don't have long-term-care facilities, and then redistributing it anywhere that agency sees fit? Isn't that exactly what property tax pooling is all about?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): The agency that will be set up will capture some of the improvements that have been made in the long-term-care field, some of the ones I was debating with the member for Windsor-Riverside just recently, and it will move from there in terms of cooperation between the province and the municipalities. Through that I think we'll see better integration of the health care system.

Yes, municipalities will be contributing. The precise formula has not been determined. There may not be long-term-care facilities in some municipalities -- that's an obvious statement of fact -- but I think we would all agree that there are residents of just about every municipality who need long-term-care facilities, who need that sort of support. Many of those people, of course, are finding their way into adjacent municipalities. Through a consultative process, we'll determine the precise model of participation of the municipalities.


Mr Kennedy: What the minister just told us is that the people of Belleville could be paying for the long-term facilities in Metro or the other way around.

Minister, what you're telling us is that there's a significant reduction in quality that can be expected from the instability of putting these services on the property tax. How will you coordinate with long-term-care delivery services? Your staff have told us that 95% of the new money for long-term care is going to go to communities that have hospital restructuring commissions taking place there.

Does that not mean that what you're really doing with this is you're taking the money you're saving in hospital dollars, as you close hospitals, close hospital beds, and you're putting it on to the municipalities, making them pay for it in long-term-care dollars? Isn't this what you're doing? How does this make you, and this is happening on your watch, look to the seniors, to the people out there who are depending on stable long-term care, the kind of care that's had to grow fourfold in the last number of years and is now headed for the property taxes?

Minister, do you not agree that you're bringing in fundamental instability and that you're making the municipalities pay for your hospital restructuring?

Hon David Johnson: First, I want to assure the member opposite that far from reduced standards or reduced service levels in long-term-care facilities, our objective is to improve the long-term care, and I want to assure you that provincial standards will remain in place.

With the coordination which will now exist between the municipal level, the consumers and providers, who will also have a one-third role in the agency -- municipalities will have a one-third role, the province will have a one-third role -- we'll see the coordination and the integration of services. Far from the fear of the member opposite, there'll be better long-term-care facilities.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Minister of Health. Could the minister indicate if he and his government support the closure of inpatient beds at Matthews Memorial Hospital in Richards Landing in my riding and the changing of the hospital into a so-called 24-hour outpatient and emergency clinic, albeit with only one nurse on staff in each shift?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I'm not aware of the details of this particular hospital and I'd be happy to look into it. I don't know if this is one of the hospitals involved in the restructuring commission which is under way. If it's not, then I would simply say that the operating plans of the hospitals are scrutinized by the district health councils in each area. That process is probably beginning or under way. The ministry will scrutinize the operating plans of this particular hospital. The ministry has given no approval to any closure of beds through the operating plan review this year, because that review is not yet completed, obviously, and the ministry will have to look at this particular situation very carefully.

Mr Wildman: The minister is not aware that his predecessor did indeed approve the operating plan of the Sault area hospitals, which included in it the closure of inpatient beds at Matthews Memorial Hospital, which is owned by the Matthews Memorial Hospital Association in Richards Landing. His predecessor did approve the closure of these inpatient beds and the changing of the hospital into an outpatient clinic with 24-hour emergency service, with only one nurse on duty, despite the previous minister's stated commitment to rural hospitals.

If the current minister does not believe that inpatient beds should be closed because of the review, is he now prepared to reverse the decision of his predecessor on the operating plan for 1996-97 for the Sault area hospitals as it relates to the Matthews Memorial Hospital and to ensure there is adequate funding so that there will be some inpatient beds at that facility?

Hon David Johnson: I am assured it was actually the health ministry which worked to ensure that 24-hour coverage would be in place at this particular hospital, where the original proposal called for only 12 hours of core service.

But I reiterate to the member opposite that the operating plans of all the budgets will be submitted through the district health councils to the Ministry of Health. There will be that review through the process this year and the ministry will look very carefully at it. I wish to assure the member opposite that this government is committed to better health care and better hospital care in Ontario, and I will look at this particular situation in that light.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is for the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Minister, as you know, in my riding of Chatham-Kent, farming and food production are extremely important industries. With increased residential development in rural areas, the potential for conflict due to lack of understanding of farm practices has increased. We promised to strengthen the Farm Practices Protection Act. Could you please update us on what progress you're making in fulfilling this important commitment?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I wish to thank my honourable colleague from Chatham-Kent and I want to advise him, as well as all members of this House, that we are acting and we will be legislating protection for farmers and food producers -- it has been too long coming -- from frivolous lawsuits and actions. Under normal farming practices, you have to live with what goes on. There are noises and there are smells. That is farming.

We will be having consultation with the different farming groups in the different areas and we will be starting at the Ridgetown College campus on Thursday, January 23. We will be going across the province to consult, to make sure that we have what the farmers need to protect their business of producing food for this province.

Mr Carroll: Thank you very much, Minister, for continuing to involve the farm community in your deliberations. As a follow-up question -- not everyone in my riding will be able to attend the meeting that will be held in Ridgetown -- are there any other systems you are putting in place to allow the valuable input from my local farmers?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes. We're looking forward to as many people attending the meetings as possible, but for those who can't, they can correspond with the OMAFRA head office in Guelph and express their concerns in writing. They can also do it on the Internet. It's interesting. The Web site is interactive, which means clients can ask questions and make comments. The ministry's World Wide Web site can be found at www.gov.on.ca/omafra, and indeed we will be pleased to receive any information they have.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, the member for Fort William.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): At least he didn't pay $1 million for that ad, Mr Speaker.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Your government would like people to believe that in return for the billions of dollars in new costs that they have dumped on to the municipal property tax base you have picked up the cost of education. In fact, of course, you haven't because you are still taking education taxes from business properties in every community. For the first time, and this is unprecedented in this province, Queen's Park and your Ministry of Education are going to be going into every community and raising taxes for education on business properties.

Your ministry officials have confirmed that they do not know how this new business tax on property that you're raising is going to work. They cannot tell us whether or not you are going to have one uniform tax rate for all businesses in every community or whether you're going to go into each community separately and have a different tax for businesses in each different community. I don't know how this helps the Minister of Finance make property taxes fairer and clearer and more consistent. Minister, I wonder if you could tell us whether you have any idea at all what's going to happen to business taxes for education, whether it's in Toronto or London or Windsor or Sudbury or Ottawa or Thunder Bay or anywhere.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Thank you, to the honourable member opposite. I think the member for Fort William will know that we have made some announcements around our intentions to fully fund the needs of every individual student across this province for a first-class, high-quality education. For the very first time, under our proposals to properly fund the education system, we will have a situation where every student receives what is necessary for that student to get that high quality of education.

We were pleased to make those announcements earlier this week. As the member opposite will know, we have brought forward a bill that will take care of our changes in governance and allow us to go to a new and fairer system, a better system of education in the province. We will be making specific our details on our intentions around funding later on this spring, but we have said very clearly that we have rejected the pooling of industrial and commercial tax revenues. Instead, we will ask the municipalities to collect those revenues as they currently are and to submit those to our district boards of education throughout the province.

Mrs McLeod: What's happening is that for the first time indeed the Ministry of Education -- Queen's Park -- is going into every community and levying a tax directly on business. What the minister has made even clearer than his ministry officials did is that they have absolutely no idea how they're going to do it. No wonder the Ministry of Finance can't produce any impact studies on what's going to happen to taxation, because the Minister of Education has no idea what sort of taxes he's going to levy on businesses.

The bottom line is that businesses in this province are going to have to pay a huge share of all the new costs that you have dumped on to municipalities and their property tax base and they are still going to have to pay the $3.2 billion in education taxes that you need to fund education.

Minister, that says to me that businesses in every community across this province are looking at a very large increase in their property tax. You need $3.2 billion in education taxes to keep up the funding on education. So are business taxes going to go up, Minister, or are you going to cut the business taxes for education and cut education spending along with it?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I think what we intend in the financing of education is perfectly clear to the people of Ontario, so I'll try to clear it up for the member opposite.

The province is going to take the burden of taxation off the shoulders of trustees across the province. We are going to accept that burden. We are going to do that to create an opportunity for every student in the province to have a high-quality education. We have said that we will not pool commercial and industrial taxes. We will raise those locally. We will ask the municipalities to give those to the district boards. That's my understanding about the current process.

This is the most bitter and twisted turning of our announcement on Monday that I've heard to date. I wonder if the real cause of that is that your party promised to up the provincial contribution to education. You failed to deliver, and myself and our government and my colleagues, we are delivering.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. On Monday of this week the minister made a major announcement with regard to amalgamation of school boards across Ontario, published maps with the new proposed boundaries, indicated that those boundaries were pretty well final and talked about the cutting of the total number of boards across Ontario substantially.

Then later this week the minister had breakfast with the London Chamber of Commerce to discuss the changes in the education system. Subsequent to that breakfast meeting, the minister told the London Free Press that the decision about merging seven London-area boards into two may not be final. The minister hinted that if strong arguments are made against the merger, that may cause substantial changes.

Obviously this is somewhat confusing. Is the minister saying that the maps he published on Monday of the proposed amalgamated boards across Ontario are just proposals that are not final and could be substantially changed, or not?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): It's my pleasure to respond to the question from the member for Algoma because we are very proud of the announcement we made on Monday. We've had a look at the reports that have been done on governance and finance of education, some 24 major reports in my time in the province, and we have come up with, I believe, the right system of education for the future of Ontario. We have reduced the number of trustees from 1,900 to 700; we've cut the number of politicians; we've reduced the number of boards; we've ended duplication; we've ended waste. It's a program and a system that will take us to the future in education and will make sure our resources get to the classroom.

I believe we've got the right boundaries. We have coterminous boundaries wherever possible. We have the right mix, I believe, to respect the historic role of trustees in being guardians of public education and yet to create the efficiencies we need to have to make sure our students' interests are handled well. I believe we have the right size for our education system in the future.

Mr Wildman: The comment the minister made, which was quoted in the London Free Press, was: "`The decision may not be final. If the minister hears a strong argument as to why the merging of seven London-area boards into two should not proceed, it could change,' said Mr Snobelen." If you are proud of the announcement and the maps and you think you have the right boundaries, what did you mean when you hinted this to the London Free Press? Are there going to be changes in the London area, and if so, why not in other areas?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'd like to refer the member to his comments of yesterday. I respect this chamber, I respect the process and I respect the people in this chamber from all parties. I know we are going to go through second reading with our bill that we introduced on Monday, I know we are going to have public hearings and I know there is going to be input into the bill that we've suggested.

I've said this very clearly: If there are changes that can be made to the legislation we've brought to this floor that improve education for the children of Ontario, I'd be more than willing to have a look at those amendments. I've said this very clearly too: I will not do that based on mere rhetoric. I want to make sure that any improvements that go into our legislation would actually improve education for the children of this province; not for the bureaucrats, not for the educrats but for the children of this province.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): My question is to the Minister of Labour. The minister has often spoken about the need for employees, employers and other workplace parties to work together in reaching the common goal of making Ontario's workplaces among the safest in the world.

I understand that the $600-million Toyota plant expansion in Cambridge, which will create 1,200 new jobs, will be opening soon. Toyota Canada has a strong record in the area of occupational health and safety. Could the minister provide the House with some comments in regard to this achievement?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I was very pleased to learn this week that the Toyota plant in Cambridge, which is presently experiencing some construction and has done so since the summer of 1995, had indicated they had proceeded for two million person-hours without a compensable injury. No worker suffered any compensable injury during that time.

The reason for that is because of the leadership that was given by the management at Toyota. They required that each contractor and subcontractor first provide them with a safety plan before they would be allowed to undertake construction work. They also require that each of the employees participates in a safety program. This is the type of self-reliance that we want to encourage in the future.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: My point of privilege is with respect to the right of all members of the House to have equal access to materials that are produced by government ministries, as opposed to political parties. In this case, I'm speaking about a package of materials, a binder, which is entitled Who Does What, which appears to have been produced by government ministries. There is a copy of that currently sitting on the desk of the member for Hamilton Mountain, and there have been other members of the government caucus who have had those particular briefing notes in their possession.

It is one thing if these materials are produced by caucuses and government parties etc, but if in fact they have been prepared by ministries of government, I believe the rules are very clear that those materials must be made accessible to all members of the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Speaker, I'm wondering if you would undertake to request a copy of those materials and to review that and, if appropriate, to ensure that all members of the Legislature indeed do receive access to those materials.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I don't have any real method of finding out what was produced by who and whatever.

Ms Lankin: You could ask.

The Speaker: That's a simple one, but the fact remains that I think we're in a bit of a debate today about the Ministry of Finance having some kind of study etc and the opposition looking for that study and so on. I'll give you my undertaking to review the records to see if I have any power to check into that. I'll also check with the government to determine whether it's a caucus briefing note or a ministry briefing note and report back to you. But it's very, very nebulous, I think, in that area.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I'd just like to clarify that the document which the member is referring to was produced by the government services bureau and not by the government of Ontario.

The Speaker: Okay. So I will not give you my --


The Speaker: Order. Okay. Thank you.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Standing order 97 provides members of the assembly with the right to ask questions of the government ministries. I understand that the standing order goes on to say that once those requests have been filed, the standing order requires that "The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer" the question.

On April 24, 1996, I placed order question number 314, an inquiry of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services asking him to provide the minister's response to each recommendation made by the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System. I received an interim answer, which was tabled on May 8, 1996. In that interim answer, the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services said that the approximate date on which this information would be available was May 24, 1996. I have still not had that information.

I would ask you, Mr Speaker, to request that the standing orders of this assembly be followed in this regard.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'll take note and ask the minister to take note as well.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Monsieur le Président, sur le même point d'ordre, sous le Règlement de la Chambre on a, comme le député l'a expliqué, un certain ordre, numéro 97, qui dit, «Les députés peuvent faire inscrire au Feuilleton et Avis des questions adressées à des ministres en vue d'obtenir des renseignements sur quelque affaire publique.»

Je ne vais pas lire en détail tout le point d'ordre, mais j'ai besoin de dire pour le record que le gouvernement doit, selon le Règlement, répondre à nos questions dans 14 jours.

Le 9 octobre 1996, j'ai donné une question au ministère des Transports. J'ai demandé une certaine information faisant affaire avec la privatisation des services routières dans la région de Chatham.

Ils m'ont donné un avis le 22 octobre qu'ils pourraient me répondre dès le 1er novembre, et on se trouve aujourd'hui au mois de janvier, le 16 janvier --

The Speaker: What number is that?

M. Bisson: C'est la question numéro 561. Quoi qu'il arrive, c'est le 1er novembre que j'aurais dû avoir une réponse. On se trouve aujourd'hui, le 16 janvier, avec aucune réponse. J'ai besoin de cette information pour l'oeuvre que je fais comme critique de transports pour les néo-démocrates. Je vous demande de demander au ministre de me donner la réponse que j'ai --

The Speaker: Thank you. I will ask the minister to take note.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As you know, standing order 36 provides every member of this assembly with the opportunity to present petitions on behalf of the people of the province to this Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It's obviously an extremely important function of a member of the assembly and it's a right which has been exercised for hundreds of years in parliaments of Great Britain and throughout the Commonwealth.

Standing order 36(h) reads: "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

Mr Speaker, I would like to draw to your attention that on November 21, 1996, I presented a petition, I think a very important petition, to this House on the subject of the French Language Services Act, 1986. It was signed by a number of citizens of the province. Obviously they felt that they had justifiable concerns and it was of importance. I believe that as well. They have a right to be concerned, and there's been no response to this date.

I believe their rights have been abridged in not having a response, as have mine as a member, and I would ask that you would look at that order and make an appropriate direction.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will make the minister aware of such direction.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I wonder if you could help me. As you know, today the Minister of Finance announced the most comprehensive overhaul of property taxation in Ontario certainly in the last 50 years. Subsequent to that, I know the member for Scarborough-Agincourt made a specific request for three impact studies that the Ministry of Finance has done pertaining to the impacts of this new taxation system on property taxpayers.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Just quickly, member for Oakwood, I appreciate the fact that you're asking me to help you. You must give me something a little more tangible to hang your hat on than that so we can go on. What is it you'd like me to do as Speaker, quickly?

Mr Colle: I'd like you to examine as Speaker to see if my rights as a member of this Legislature have been violated. I feel that these studies are not made available to me because the minister has refused to release these impact studies so that I can make a decision on whether this new tax change is beneficial to my constituents. These studies that I've asked for --

The Speaker: Order. The difficulty is -- and I understand that you came at it similarly to the member for Beaches-Woodbine -- the difficulty you're going to put me in as Speaker is that if you rise every time to ask me to vet all these documents that a government works with, or request these documents, I'll be vetting quite a few documents.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You'll need more staff.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Jim will help you vet the documents.

The Speaker: Anyway, the fact is, it's not going to happen. The Speaker doesn't have the time nor the wherewithal to vet all these documents that a government works with. It's just something that happens. It has happened in previous administrations. Governments produce reports. They're not obligated to share those reports with everybody. Some are self-contained. Others they in fact share. It's strictly up to the government as to whether or not they deem it necessary or within their power to release these reports.

I, as Speaker, member for Oakwood -- and let me be very clear so you don't have to get up again -- cannot demand reports to be released and distributed in this Legislature. I can't do that.

Mr Colle: Mr Speaker, if I could just have one more comment.

The Speaker: Well, okay, that's about as clear as I can be. I'll give you a brief moment to see if there's anything else that you have.


Mr Colle: Mr Speaker, there is a specific case. There are three specific studies that have been denied, and the minister has claimed that they are denied to us and to the public because they are cabinet documents that are secret. I can't see --

The Speaker: Member for Oakwood, that is the minister's prerogative, if they exist or don't exist. I'm not saying they do or they don't. All I'm telling you, if you'd sit down, is that that's the minister's prerogative. Whether these exist or don't exist, it's their decision, and if they believe it's a cabinet document, that's what they can say. The only alternative left open for you -- and I don't want to tell you how to do your job -- is that if you file an FOI and that doesn't work, then it just simply doesn't work. I can honestly say that I've been in the exact situation you've been in. There's nothing at all the Speaker can do.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Mr Speaker, as you know, section 36 on page 28 of the standing orders of this place provides, in subsection (a), "A petition to the House may be presented at any time during the session by a member filing it with the Clerk of the House or in the manner set out in clause (b)."

Clause (b), of course, on page 30, says, "A member may present a petition in the House during routine proceedings under the proceeding `Petitions.' The member may make a brief statement summarizing the contents of the petition and indicating the number of signatures attached thereto."

Under subsection (h) it says, "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response" --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'm sorry. You're on the petitions section, section 36?

Mr Christopherson: Yes, I am. To provide you with the clarification, it's 36(a) on page 28, subsection (b) on page 30, and I'm now moving to subsection (h), also on page 30. Again, it reads, "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

As you know, given the ongoing attack by this government on workers, the petitions that I submitted on behalf of injured workers and their representatives are extremely important. On October 23, 1996, I presented a petition on behalf of many workers in this province, injured workers and their representatives, regarding the health and safety centre and the occupational health clinics, and I want to advise you, Speaker, that to date I --

The Speaker: You have a point of order. I accept your point of order.

Mr Christopherson: I haven't made my point of order yet. I haven't made it, Speaker. I didn't say what the problem is.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, you quoted section --

Mr Christopherson: I didn't say what the question is.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Are you mind-reading, Speaker?

The Speaker: I'll tell you, I might be; I just may be.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): He hasn't told you yet.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, I know what his point of order is because --

Mr Christopherson: You assumed.

The Speaker: No, I didn't assume. Just give me a moment. In the section he quoted, 36, it said that the minister should respond within a two-week period of time. That's his point of order. I can only assume that's your point of order, since you quoted it. What I'm saying to you is: You've raised that; I agree. You have a point of order. I agree with you and I will ask the minister to take note.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I want to raise with you a point of privilege which relates to Bill 103. In some ways it relates to the point that the member for Algoma raised, although it's a very separate point. You will know that we are now in the process of debating Bill 103, the amalgamation bill, and one of the provisions of that bill is to establish a board of trustees. Sections 9 through 15 of the bill set out fairly extensively the establishment of the board of trustees, the powers that those three people would have and the responsibilities. It even goes as far, under section 12, as saying that any of their decisions are not subject to judicial review.

It says in various sections of the legislation that, in effect, virtually every action that's of any significance, certainly any budgetary actions taken by the councils, each of the local councils in Metropolitan Toronto, over the next calendar year will be subject to review and approval by the board of trustees. It's fairly extensive in its establishment and in terms of what they will do. They will have to approve the budgets, they will have to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Dovercourt, I'm very familiar with the format, if you'd get to your point of order.

Mr Silipo: I won't belabour the powers, but it gives three individuals fairly extensive powers --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Unelected.

Mr Silipo: -- three unelected members, putting the elected councils under the powers of these three appointed persons. That is bad enough in and of itself and I would argue undemocratic. I know that there are likely going to be legal challenges to that, so I'm not asking you to rule on whether that particular portion of it is acceptable or not.

The Speaker: Could you get to the part you're asking me to rule on?

Mr Silipo: What I'm asking you to rule on, Speaker, is a fairly significant point, which is that we know that it is possible for legislation to be established, and I accept that, in a way that has retroactive provisions. The powers set out in this bill for the trustees envision retroactive powers to the time that the bill was introduced, back on December 17.

My point of privilege is that I believe that those powers can only kick into place, those powers can only begin to be exercised, even in their retroactive nature, the moment the bill receives royal assent and not one iota of a second prior to that. That's why it's a very fundamental point, because it relates not only to my privileges as an individual member but fundamentally to the privileges of the Parliament of the province of Ontario.

It's something that I believe you need to reflect upon, to take a look at, because what we are seeing now -- and I'd be happy to bring you examples if that's what you need to be able to deal with this issue -- are examples of these three individuals. They have been appointed; we all know who they are, which in and of itself is not a problem in terms of the minister indicating who these three people would be who would take on these vast powers. But the problem fundamentally is that these three individuals are in effect today, while the bill is still going through the parliamentary process, before the bill has been approved, before they have been given any power whatsoever, to all intents and purposes, acting as if they had those powers. That's --

The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, if you'd take your seat, I'd like to take your point of order and review it and give it some thought and probably report out when I report out on the previous points of order by the member for St Catharines and the member for Algoma. I don't want to be tied down to a time, but Monday seems to be the day we're shooting for. If it's not, you'll know obviously. I'll try and do the same and report out on your point of order on that same day.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a point of order, Mr Speaker, that I wish to raise with you, and this comes under standing order 97 in our rule book. You will know that standing order 97 provides that all members in this assembly can request written information from the various ministers regarding information in their ministries.

Under the standing orders, those ministers are to respond to the members who place those questions within a two-week time frame, either to give a full written response or to indicate that there will be a delay and the reason for the delay, or finally to indicate that they're not going to respond at all, in which case that would also appear on the order paper.

On October 16, which was some long time ago, I submitted a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. It appears as order paper question number 587. It was an inquiry of the Ministry of Natural Resources, asking the minister to provide the number of conservation officers who have been laid off as a consequence of the cuts to the ministry according to the ministry's business plan.

It is now well beyond the two-week time frame in which the Minister of Natural Resources was to respond and I would like you to ask him to provide --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I agree you have a point of order. I'll alert the minister.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Mr Speaker, also a point of order under standing order 97: This issue of the lack of response from ministers is really quite disturbing. The last one I mentioned was for the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, but this one is an inquiry that I placed on April 24, 1996, asking the Attorney General to advise on the number and percentage of cases that are in the red alert zones and to provide a list of court jurisdictions that are in red alert zones.

There was an interim answer that was tabled on May 6, 1996, and the approximate date that that information was to be available was June 6, 1996. Mr Speaker, this is a current problem. We've all been reading about it in the newspaper. This is information that the minister must have at hand, and I would ask you to urge him to answer.

The Speaker: You do have a point of order and I will alert the minister.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm not going to go into the details of the standing order but, under standing order 97, you know that members have the ability to introduce a question into the House through an order paper question so that we are able to ascertain answers from the government about particular issues of importance to our constituency or our critic's portfolio. If the answer is not forthcoming within a 14-day period, the government is then obliged by the standing orders, under standing order 97, to give us an answer or to at least let us know when the answer is going to be coming.

I gave such a question on October 22, 1996: order paper question 562. It is an inquiry to the Minister of Transportation. Recently they awarded a contract to a private sector firm for the maintenance of 1,500 kilometres of provincial highways in the Chatham area, and I asked the ministry, "Would the Minister of Transportation provide copies of all three area maintenance contracts, AMC 96-01, AMC 96-02 and AMC 96-03, awarded to Integrated Maintenance and Operations Services Inc."

I gave that on October 22. It should have been fairly easy because those contracts are about the province to different people. As transportation critic for the NDP, I would have thought the government would have responded to this earlier. I gave that question in October 22, 1996. They responded to me, interestingly, on November 1, 1996, that it was forthcoming. This particular document is available --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Your point has been made loud and clear.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As you know, standing order 36 provides every member of this assembly with the opportunity to present petitions on behalf of the people of the province to this Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It's an extremely important function and responsibility. When people in your constituency come to you, you must, as you know, bring that petition forward. It's a function that has been exercised by members of Parliament for hundreds of years through the parliaments of Great Britain and throughout the Commonwealth.

Standing order 36, section (h) of that standing order, does specify that, "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

I would like to draw to your attention that petition number 153, which was filed by my colleague the member for London Centre on October 21, 1996, with respect to the case of Ms Theresa Vince, has not been responded to and therefore there has been a violation of the standing orders. I would ask that you look into that and make a direction.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have noted the sincere concern of the members of the third party, in particular with regard to outstanding questions on the order paper. While we all recognize that the vast majority of the questions do get responded to, yes, the members of the third party, the NDP in particular, do have some legitimate concerns with regard to questions outstanding.

I undertake on behalf of the government to communicate with each of the members in question with regard to all of the outstanding questions on the order paper and bring it to their attention and insist that they respond at the earliest opportunity to enable this House to get on with the debate this afternoon.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I hope that you can listen to my point of order before you decide if it is or it isn't, as it's a matter that bothers me quite a bit and I think it affects the opposition side as well. It is this: In the last couple of days I had to answer a number of calls to my office, both in the constituency and at Queen's Park down here, from residents of my area who had been watching the announcements in the House during this current week. It has to do with the repeated announcements in the House by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing with respect to a decrease in property taxes. They even quoted us 10% some time between now and the year 2000-01.

We have been saying, as I have told callers yesterday and today, that we foresee a tax increase. The problem I have and we have on this side is that while the government side, the ministers, say that taxes are going to go down by 10%, we say we don't believe so. It's not a question of accusing the various ministers of not giving the true facts; it is that the true facts have not been given to us and to myself.

My point of order is this: In order for me, in order for our side to answer the calls from our constituents as to getting the figures and the true facts from the government and the ministers who are saying that taxes are going to go down by 10%, I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to help us get this information, these facts, so we can pass them along to our constituents and verify that indeed taxes will go down or taxes will not go down. Can I call on you, Mr Speaker?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Your point has been made. Thank you.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding section 36(a) and (h), specifically with regard to petitions, and we've already discussed how important they are.

You might recall, Speaker, that on November 28 I presented a petition regarding the reopening of the family support plan regional offices, an issue that's wreaked havoc and devastation on thousands of women and children, and I think is very deserving of a response from this government. I wish to bring to your attention that I have not yet received a response within the time frame outlined in the standing orders and I would ask you, sir, respectfully, to please do everything you can to ensure that my constituents in Hamilton, who have a very serious concern over this important matter, receive the response they're entitled to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I believe you heard the minister a minute ago. He said he would reply to all those demands. I think he said that and I expect the minister will abide by what he has said.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's still a point of order.

The Deputy Speaker: I just reported it. Thank you. That's it.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Mr Speaker, I have a point of order: While I appreciate what the minister has said, I think the point of order I want to raise continues to be that under standing order 97. The rules of this House make it very clear that all members have a right to provide written questions to various ministries regarding matters of public interest and public information, and interest to them in particular as critics.

Mr Speaker, you should know that on October 16 I submitted order paper question number 588 to the Minister of Natural Resources with respect to trying to get information for a very important piece of --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Thank you. I've listened to your point of order. The minister kindly answered your point of order that measures will be taken to answer your concern. He has said that already. That's the end of it.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): There is a rule. He has not complied. Why should we believe him now?

The Deputy Speaker: I've just told you.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Do you have a point of order, member for Dovercourt? I will listen to your point of order.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I have a different point of order and it relates again back to Bill 103. As you know, we're now going through debate on that bill, and I want to bring to your attention something, which I have to say I probably should have seen earlier, that just recently came to my attention. I want to raise it with you, because it's a very significant departure, I believe, from what the standing orders require.

Standing order 38(c) states that: "On the introduction of a government bill, a compendium of background information shall be delivered to the opposition critics." Those are the key words. "If it is an amending bill, an up-to-date consolidation of the act or acts to be amended shall be delivered to the opposition critics unless the bill amends an act amended previously in the session."

The important words in there are "opposition critics." I want to point out to you that, as the New Democratic Party critic for the greater Toronto area, clearly the person responsible as a critic for Bill 103, I have yet to receive a compendium of background information or indeed an up-to-date consolidation of the act or acts being affected by this change. I think this is a clear infringement of the standing orders, and I ask that you take the necessary steps before the process of resumption of second reading on the bill proceeds to ensure at least at this point in time that things be put in the right way and that, as the responsible critic for my party, I be given the due consideration that's called upon by the standing orders, which the government has not adhered to.


I don't know, Speaker, if you require any further elaboration of that. I don't know if you caught all of what I was saying, but I was making the point to you that as the critic for the New Democratic Party for the greater Toronto area and therefore the critic responsible for dealing with Bill 103, I have not received the compendium of background information or the consolidation of the act or acts to be amended by Bill 103, which standing order 38(c) clearly says I should receive, not at second reading but at the introduction of a government bill. I don't know what happened, Speaker. I don't know where that copy went.

The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat. As far as I'm concerned, the compendium has been distributed. If you didn't receive it, perhaps you could speak to your House leader and ask for one.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): No, the critic is supposed to get it under the rules.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The House leader and the critic are supposed to get it.

The Deputy Speaker: That's what I understand.

Mr Silipo: With all respect, sir --

The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat for a minute. The critic has it. Ask your critic.

Mr Silipo: I'm the critic.

The Deputy Speaker: You're the critic and you haven't received it?

Mr Silipo: That's the point, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Okay, take your seat. We will make sure. I will ask that a compendium is delivered to you as soon as possible.

Mr Silipo: I'm asking you further, Speaker, if I may, that it's not just a question of "as soon as possible." The standing order is very clear. It says, "on the introduction" of a government bill.

The Deputy Speaker: I heard you.


The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat for a minute.

As far as I'm concerned, the compendium has been delivered. That's it. If you haven't received it, and that was already in December, I believe, you should have raised the issue at that time, which you didn't. You didn't at that time, so I will entertain another point of order.

Mr Silipo: Mr Speaker, if I may, I'm sorry. I should have raised it at what point in time? I'm now being penalized because I didn't read all the points of procedure at the time the bill was introduced?

The Deputy Speaker: I think I have just explained to you. I have explained to you very clearly that you should have raised that issue when the compendium was distributed, at that time. You didn't raise it. You should have raised it. It was distributed at that time. If you hadn't received it, I find this extremely difficult to accept.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Further to this point of order, I'm concerned about the ruling that you appear to be about to make, because it seems that you are now placing a time limit and the responsibility on the members of the House to know every rule within the standing orders.

The member has told you, upon reading the standing orders, after he wondered why he had not received this information, he has made himself aware that it was his right under the standing order. Previous to that, he believed it was a courtesy and that the government should have provided those copies to him as a courtesy as the critic. He has now become aware that it was his right under the standing orders. He has referenced that standing order to you.

I don't believe it is appropriate for a Speaker of the House to go on and make on a ruling and say: "You should have known the rules at the time. Because you were unaware of the rules and you didn't raise the issue, now somehow the time limit has expired and you have run out of any right to appeal to the Chair to uphold your rights as a member under the standing orders of this Legislative Assembly."

I would ask you to take a look again at the specific section that the member raises, because it makes it very clear that as a critic he had a right and that right has been violated. The fact that he has only now become aware that it was a right under the --

The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat. I think I was very explicit and very clear when I said to you that a compendium was distributed at that time and you should have raised it. That is my ruling and that's it. That is my ruling. That's the end of it.


The Deputy Speaker: That is the end of it. I will now recognize the minister.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): If that's the end of that debate then I'll sit down, but I just wish to assure you, Mr Speaker, and the House that I've been assured by the House leader's office that all of the material has been distributed. If the member, for whatever reason, has lost his copy, then we would be happy to arrange for him to have another copy, but all of the proper distribution was made according to the rules.

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

The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat, please. I hope it's very clear that I just made a ruling that the compendium was received by you. It should have been raised --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. I've made a ruling that you have received it, that it was distributed, that I will not entertain any more this point of order.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): You can't rule that, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: I have made the ruling. You don't debate the ruling.

Mr Silipo: Point of privilege, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: You have a point of privilege now.

Mr Silipo: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: You know better than anybody in this chamber that we are all considered to be honourable members. I would not stand up in my place and say to you, sir, that I did not receive something which I received.

I also would like you to take a look, please, at the difference there is between the standing order that I recited to you, 38(c), which clearly says that the critics must receive the compendium -- not the House leader, not the leader, not anybody else, but the critics -- as opposed to another standing order under the rules, 32(c), where we're dealing with ministerial statements. There it says, "Two copies of each ministerial statement shall be delivered to opposition party leaders, or their representatives."

The fact that there is a clear difference in the rules means very clearly that the rules have to be followed, and the rules in this case state that the critics are to be given a copy. For you to say, sir, that I received a copy when I as an honourable member am standing in my place and telling you that I did not receive a copy is an affront to me as an individual member of this assembly and is an infringement on my privilege as a representative for the people of Dovercourt.

The Deputy Speaker: We'll try to settle the issue quietly, gently, forcefully if I have to do that. I will take a recess for 10 minutes and I'll come back to you.

The House recessed from 1547 to 1557.

The Deputy Speaker: Please take your seats. I would like to clarify my ruling to the effect that this is not the time to raise this point of order. What I meant by this is that if there had been a breach of the standing order relating to introduction and first reading, it should have been raised at that time. Raising it now can have no effect upon introduction and first reading, and it certainly can have no effect upon the continuation of proceedings at second reading. A point of order has to be timely.

Let me say to the member for Dovercourt that even if I agreed with you, I cannot turn the clock back. It has taken place; that's it. That is my ruling.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: During the exchange, as members of this House were informing you of their opinion with respect to the matter on which you just ruled, the Minister of Health and government House leader made an assertion that a copy of these materials had been hand-delivered to the member for Dovercourt and that perhaps he had lost them. The effect of that was to insinuate that the honourable member was lying, which I believe is unparliamentary, and he should be asked to --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. I can assure you that the minister didn't have any intention at all of lying.

Ms Lankin: How do you know?

The Deputy Speaker: Let me assure you, I believe him thoroughly. He is an honourable member, an honourable minister, and I accept what he has said.

Ms Lankin: You didn't hear me. I asked for him to withdraw his statement.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you like to withdraw, Minister, if you feel it is necessary?

Hon David Johnson: Mr Speaker, I was only indicating that the normal distribution had been followed. Indeed, I am assured by staff that compendiums and bills have been provided, as under the standing orders, that it is the procedure to provide to, in addition to the critics -- let's see: "The office also ensures that copies are available to the leader's office in addition."

Ms Lankin: Don't make it worse; just withdraw the insinuation.

Hon David Johnson: I am not indicating that anybody has lied. I can assure you of that. I am indicating that if anything has run afoul in the system somewhere, we would be happy to provide a second copy. Indeed, if the member wishes a second copy, we'd be happy to provide it. If there's any other offence that's taken place, then I withdraw whatever offence that is.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order related to standing order 36, which provides that every member of the assembly has the opportunity to present petitions on behalf of the people of the province to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

All of us in this House will know that this is an extremely important function of a member and a very important right, a right that has been exercised in the parliamentary system for hundreds of years and indeed goes back to the Magna Carta when the commons and the peers made it clear that they had the right to petition the crown. This is a function that all members have and a right that has been exercised in parliaments, not only in Great Britain and in Canada but throughout the Commonwealth.

Standing order 36(h) reads as follows: "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

Speaker, on December 3, 1996, I submitted a petition opposing reduction in educational funding, number P-128, and as yet I have not received a response, which is well over the eight sessional days stated in the standing order.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will refer it to the minister.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'll be brief because I know you're aware of the issue, but I do want to place the specific before you so it's not lost in the shuffle.

I introduced petition number 182 regarding our previous government's Bill 40 to this place on November 27, 1996, in which many Ontarians expressed serious concern about the government's denial of rights that workers had with the previous government which have been taken away by this government. I have not yet received a response on behalf of those citizens and I would ask you to ensure that petition number 182 is responded to in a timely fashion, given that it's already well over the time.

The Speaker: Just a point of clarification, if I may, from the member for Hamilton Centre. Was that petition ruled in order?

Mr Christopherson: I believe it was, Mr Speaker. I don't have that record in front of me, but --

Interjection: Looking for a new angle, eh?

The Speaker: No, I am not looking for any angle here.

Mr Wildman: It's in order. It's right here.

The Speaker: Okay, that's all I'm asking. I'm just trying to keep it straight for us, in terms of whether they were in order. That's fine. I will refer --

Mr Christopherson: Can I answer your question?

The Speaker: I thought you did.

Mr Christopherson: Someone else was talking and you were talking to them. I'd like to respond on the record.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, I thought you said, "I don't know."

Ms Martel: Now he does.

The Speaker: Now he does know. Okay, member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Christopherson: I can say to you with a fair degree of certainty, Speaker, that petition number 182 was indeed received and recorded because it does have that recorded number.

Mr Wildman: Unless the clerk, by mistake, put the number on it.

The Speaker: I just asked. I wasn't sure. I thought he said, "I don't know." I apologize if I trampled on your response.


The Speaker: No. I will say that was my question; it wasn't the clerk's.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a point of order, Mr Speaker, with respect to standing order 97. Again, it respects an inquiry of the Attorney General. This inquiry reads as follows:

"Would the Attorney General provide the following information for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board: statistical monthly reports on the last nine months...: cases settled, types of cases, average award by types of cases, backlog, administrative costs and projected case and administrative costs for the rest of the fiscal year."

This was placed on April 24, 1996. An interim answer was tabled on May 6, 1996, and the approximate date the information was to have been available was June 6, 1996.

Mr Speaker, this particular inquiry is number 353 on the order paper. I would ask that you ask the minister to comply with an answer.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will refer it to the minister.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Dovercourt, point of privilege?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): No, a point of order, Mr Speaker: You will know, I think it's fair to say, that as a result of what is going on with Bill 103, we are all reading and re-reading the rules very carefully to ensure that they are being followed, the standing orders.

The Speaker: I've noticed that, actually, yes.

Mr Silipo: As we do that, we discover that there are continuing breaches of the standing orders. I want to point out to you one further breach of standing order 36. That's the standing order, as you know, which provides that every member of the assembly has the opportunity to present petitions on behalf of the people of the province, and certainly I have taken advantage of that on occasion to present petitions in this House. It's an extremely important function, which I don't have to tell you goes back years and years in our parliamentary tradition.


Mr Silipo: In fact, it goes about as far back as the Magna Carta, Speaker. You're quite right on that.

The important breach here has been of the provision that says under standing order 36(h), "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

It has not been adhered to in one particular case that I want to draw to your attention. That was back on December 4, 1996, petition number P-179 standing in my name, dealing with the amalgamation of the six municipalities within Toronto, very much related to Bill 103, and it has yet to be responded to, Speaker. I'm sure you will draw that to the appropriate minister's attention and ensure that I get a response in a timely fashion.

The Speaker: I will do that.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai un point de privilège, Monsieur le Président, si vous allez me donner deux secondes. C'est un point d'ordre et je vais être bien clair.

Sous la section 21, et les autres dans la Chambre peuvent lire :

«Les privilèges sont les droits dont jouissent les membres de l'Assemblée législative, collectivement et individuellement, en vertu de la Loi» -- la clé sur mon point -- «sur l'Assemblée législative et d'autres lois, ou en vertu de la pratique, des précédents et des usages.»

Aujourd'hui, comme vous le savez, on est en train de faire sûr que le gouvernement suit le Règlement faisant affaire avec la manière de laquelle la Chambre déroule et que les Règlements sont bien suivis. J'ai ici, comme tous les membres, mon petit livre, qui est le Règlement de la Chambre législative de l'Ontario. Quand j'ai regardé, j'ai vu que la Loi sur l'Assemblée de l'Ontario n'est plus en place de la manière que c'était imprimé dans nos livres.

L'année passée on a fait des changements sur le salaire des députés. On a passé une loi dans cette Chambre, et en ce temps une nouvelle loi a été imprimée pour nous laisser savoir exactement ce que dit la loi. Dans les feuilletons présentement, c'est la loi qui était en vigueur il y a un an ; les changements n'ont pas été donnés directement aux membres de l'Assemblée.

Le dernier point --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Before you continue, this isn't standing-orders-specific; this is a courtesy binder offered to each member of the Legislature. If it is outdated or not kept up to date, it's not a point of order.

M. Bisson : J'ai un point de privilège, Monsieur le Président, et je ne vais pas prendre trop de temps. Je pensais que c'était un point d'ordre parce j'ai sous point d'ordres des points de privilège. Mon point est que j'aimerais avoir ce projet de loi imprimé dans mon cahier législatif ici à l'Assemblée. Est-ce que je pourrais vous demander de vous rassurer que le greffier responsable de la Chambre fasse à ce que ce projet de loi est imprimé est mis dans nos livres en Chambre pour faire sûr que la loi elle-même --

The Speaker: Yes, I will tell him.

M. Bisson : Merci beaucoup.

The Speaker: You're welcome.



Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's regrettable that this afternoon we have to raise with you any number of breaches of the standing orders on the part of the government, but I have to raise another one with you and I have to ask for your intervention with another minister of the crown with respect to a written order paper question.

You will know that under standing order 97 I and all my colleagues have a right to request written information from the ministries of this assembly, and you should know that on November 21 order paper question number 719 was filed with the Ministry of Environment. At that time I specifically asked the Minister of Environment if "the number of people employed by the Ministry of Environment and Energy in the mid-Ontario office in the Sudbury region that have been laid off as a consequence of ministry cuts according to the ministry's business plan" could be provided to me.

You will know that the minister has two weeks under the standing orders to reply either with a full response to the question or an interim response outlining which date I will receive a full reply, or also the minister has an option of writing into the order paper that a reply will not be forthcoming.

With respect to order paper question 719, I was advised by the Minister of Environment and Energy that a final answer could not be made available in the two-week time frame; however, a final answer would be available to me on or about December 11, 1996. We are well beyond that time --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I appreciate that. I will refer that to the minister.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think every member in this House recognizes that the ministers of the crown have been extraordinarily busy these past few weeks with the Who Does What work, and we're seeing that now in legislation. I too would like to draw to your attention the outstanding questions that have been posed to the various ministers. They would be questions 314, 341, 342, 344, 345, 346, 348, 354, 355, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 561, 562, 563, 564, 565, 566, 567, 568, 569, 570, 571, 572, 574, 582, 583, 587, 588, 589, 590, 591, 592, 593, 594, 649, 650, 651, 662, 663, 664, 665, 666, 667, 668, 669, 670, 671, 673, 678, 679, 694, 695, 699, 700, 701, 702, 703, 704, 711, 712, 713, 720, 721, 722, 723, 726, 727, 728, 741, 742, 752, 753, 754, 755, 756, 757, 758, 759, 761, 762, 763, 764, 765, 766. I would encourage you to refer to the relevant ministers the need to reply and I would of course also remind you, Speaker, that it would be inappropriate to deal with a matter twice and hopefully that will bring to an end any debate pursuant to standing order 23(a).

The Speaker: I'd better rule on his. I accept that fact and I will refer all those to the appropriate ministers.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Further to my rights and those of my constituents under 36(a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g) and specifically (h) with regard to petitions, I know your personal concern and commitment to the health and safety of workers in Ontario is such that you would also want me to receive on their behalf a response to a petition that I presented on behalf of many Ontario workers and their representatives, asking and imploring and pleading with this government not to make changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, nor to erode the rights of workers any further, given what they've already done.

I would point out to you, Speaker, that petition number 162 was presented by me on behalf of those Ontarians on November 19, 1996. To date I have not yet received a response. Again, given the importance of this issue, the rights under the standing orders for us to receive a response, I would ask you to use your good office and implore you to please get a response to this very important issue.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much. I will refer that to the minister. Member for London Centre.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Mr Speaker, under standing order 97 there is a question that I referred to the Minister of the Attorney General on April 24, 1996. That question was: "Would the Attorney General provide a list of organizations who are or will be receiving funding from the community fund program for projects related to victims of crime. Please include how much money each organization is receiving."

As I said, Mr Speaker, I submitted that on April 24, 1996 --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I need the number.

Mrs Boyd: Number 345, Mr Speaker, and I do not believe I heard it dealt with in the previous point.

The Speaker: I'm going to say that 345 -- I don't honestly remember whether he called 345.

Mrs Boyd: It's our privilege to have these called.

The Speaker: I appreciate that. I'm going to assume that page 23 maybe he missed, because I was going through carefully and he might have missed page 23. I will allow that one to be put, but the ones beyond that, he definitely put.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker, with respect to standing order 36, which you know provides every member of the Legislative Assembly with the right to submit a petition on behalf of the people to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and of course this is a very important right to be exercised by members that has been exercised in parliaments in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth over hundreds of years: Standing order 36, specifically under section (h), which I know you would know, sets out that within eight sessional days of its presentation here in the Legislative Assembly, "the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

Mr Speaker, I would like to draw to your attention with respect to petition number 153 that was tabled by my colleague the member for London Centre on October 31, 1996, with respect to the case of Ms Theresa Vince, that it has not been responded to. I would ask that you would look into that and give a direction with respect to that.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I will refer the minister.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understand that the current concerns being raised by the opposition are under standing order 36. Is that the --

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Some are, some aren't.

Mrs Marland: Okay. Under standing order 36(g), it says that, "The period for `petitions' shall be limited to 15 minutes." So I would ask you to rule whether --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): We're not in petitions.

Mrs Marland: Excuse me. I thought the points of order were being raised under standing order 36.

The Speaker: The member for Mississauga South, just take your seat for one moment. We're not actually in petitions at this point in time. They would be limited to 15 minutes if we were in petitions, but we're not there yet, and until I get there, I can't run the clock at 15 minutes.

Mrs Marland: My point, Mr Speaker, is that the subject that is being dealt with is petitions. Correct?

The Speaker: Yes, sometimes it's a petition. Other times it's under section 97, I think, letters that they've written to the --

Mr Silipo: Point of questions.

The Speaker: Point of questions, right -- questions. So these things are things that they're dealing with under points of order, but it only happens to be they're talking about it. It doesn't mean we're actually in the petitions stage at this point in time.

Mrs Marland: If I may just finish my point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Okay, go ahead.

Mrs Marland: I'm not questioning the raising of -- they have raised the concern that they have not received answers to their order paper questions. All those order paper questions have now been referred to by another member and you have assured that they will be referred to the appropriate ministers. My point is that the period for petitions, as written in our standing orders under section 36(g), shall be limited to 15 minutes. I would suggest to you that whether we're dealing with the tabling of petitions or the questioning about there being no response to those petitions, it still comes under petitions, which (g) precedes (h) in our standing orders under standing order 36.


The Speaker: I appreciate the point you're trying to make. I think you're putting too fine a point on it. I don't see the relationship between (g) and (h), other than (h) follows (g). It says clearly a 15-minute period of time for petitions. Then it subsequently says that, "Within eight sessional days of its presentation, the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

The opposition is simply asking for these responses that haven't been made. They're not making new petitions; they're not standing in their place representing to make new petitions. They're simply requesting that previous petitions, properly put and accepted by the table and the House, need to be answered. To me, it's not the same.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Mr Speaker, I'd like to raise a point of order on what happened with the member for Scarborough East when he stood in his place, read all of the outstanding order paper questions and said that he deems that these have now been referred to the minister. I have some very serious concerns about that. What you really have is a conflict of interest. You have a member of the government side standing up and making a decision on questions that have been asked by opposition parties. If that were to stand, then on any given day a member could stand up and say, "I deem that we don't have to really answer them, because I've now referred it."

It would seem to me the purpose of anyone "using" 97, and I use the quotations legitimately, would be that they have a genuine concern for a question they personally asked or forwarded to the ministry. For someone else to stand up and say, "We deem that they've all been received and been referred to the minister," I think really usurps the role of the member of the opposition who originally asked that the minister respond to this written question.

I think it is really inappropriate for a member of the government side to take on that responsibility, because it is really the government that has been asked to respond to these questions. It's a very difficult situation.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Point of order, Mr Speaker, related to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would just like to respond quickly, and if you have a related point of order, I will go to you.

The difficulty is that the practice of this place has been that any member may stand and refer, ask, request that any order paper question be referred to the minister or alerted time has run out. So if we were to take that approach, then quite often in the past a member of the Liberal caucus who was standing in your place couldn't have stood and done exactly the same thing. So by precedent and practice we have allowed other members to stand in their place and request referral of order paper questions to ministers.

Since we're all equals in this place, it stands to reason that government members would be allowed to do the same thing. That's why it would be difficult to rule that that is in fact out of order, when in practice, I myself as Speaker and quite a number of Speakers, I assume, in the past -- I know the previous Speaker, Speaker Warner, allowed others to stand and refer order paper questions.

Ms Lankin: Point of order.

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Mr Speaker, point of order.

The Speaker: I have just a point of order on this side here, sorry, and then --

Hon Mr Sampson: I appreciate the chance to perhaps raise this point of order. Rule 30 in our standing orders is subheaded "Order of routine proceedings." It reads, "The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows," and then it lists "members' statements, statements by the ministry and responses, oral questions, motions, petitions, reports by committees and introduction of bills."

Mr Speaker, I wonder if you could rule where exactly we are, according to rule 30?

The Speaker: Sure. Right where we are is, if you see that blank space between "Oral questions" and "Motions," we are in that abyss there. At this time, until I get to motions, we've concluded oral questions, but until I actually state "Motions," then we will not be in --

Hon Mr Sampson: Mr Speaker, with all due respect to that ruling, I don't know how you could rule that we're in a particular routine proceedings segment that doesn't exist in accordance with our orders. Either we are or we are not in one of those segments. I don't know how you can rule, with all due respect, that we're not operating --

The Speaker: The point that needs to be made is that a point of order is in order at any time.


The Speaker: Let me finish, member for Mississauga West. A point of order is always in order. If a member stands on a point of order and we happen to be between two points of routine proceedings, it doesn't mean that point of order is not in order. A point of order is always in order and until it is dealt with and dispensed with, we may not move on. Although I think I understand what you're driving at and I appreciate where you're going, the fact remains that as long as a member stands on a point of order, which I must deal with, which is legitimately before the Legislature -- this House -- there is little I can do to move on to motions.

If you find yourself in a quandary about being between oral questions and motions, I understand, but there's little, if anything, the Speaker can do about it. Now I'm going to move on.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is a related point of order, but comes at it in a slightly different way. Actually, I appreciate the point you make that any member can rise and either refer a question or ask for your ruling with respect to a petition that's unanswered on behalf of anyone who has submitted in this House. I both accept and agree with that ruling.

The concern I have is in response to a point of order by the member for London Centre with respect to an order paper question. I think it was number 344; I'm not sure which one she posed. You said you thought perhaps that one hadn't been referred by the member for Scarborough East, but that all the ones on pages after that had been, that you were looking at them fairly closely. I don't want to challenge your memory with respect to all those numbers that he rattled off very quickly, but watching at the time the scramble to catch up with the member, I think it would be fair to say there is great confusion among all honourable members and perhaps even the table and the Chair with respect to which ones have been referred or not.

I actually believe that as a member my right to ensure that an order paper question that I have put, or perhaps one of my colleagues has put, is appropriately referred to a minister for action, where they have already violated the standing orders, would be appropriate. We are at this point in time unable to know whether or not that has been done. So there may be some confusion around this.

I would just ask for your lenience in terms of allowing us to pursue some of the ones we want to draw to your attention. You may, on some, be sure they've been dealt with. I suspect there's some confusion and until there is a Hansard record it will be difficult for us to ascertain which. I would just ask for your lenience if we inadvertently duplicate some of them, because it would be without full knowledge or any awareness of that action; certainly without any intent.

The Speaker: To the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I appreciate the point you're making. I did follow it fairly closely, and I'll tell you, I know there were a couple that were missed in my mind as I followed it. Since I guess there can be no other person to rely on than myself -- and I followed it closely. I'm not sure if he started on page 23 because it was a bit of a scramble, but I know of a couple he missed. All I can tell you is that I think I have a very clear understanding of which ones he moved and which ones he didn't, and I leave it up to you to determine which they were.

Ms Lankin: We will try.

The Speaker: I understand. I appreciate that.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under section 36(a) through (h), with emphasis on (h), in terms of response to petitions in a timely fashion as set out in the standing orders of this Legislature.

I wish to bring to your attention, Speaker, that on November 4, 1996, I presented a petition in this place on behalf of francophones in Ontario who are very concerned about their rights under the French Language Services Act, 1986, and the petition outlined those concerns. It was signed by many Ontarians on a matter that is crucially important to the francophone community here in Ontario. Given that importance -- to all the members of this House, I would think, as in many ways we like to think this is a non-partisan issue because it's dealing with such fundamental human rights -- I would ask that you intercede with the minister to ensure that I receive a response on behalf of the francophones who signed that petition.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): A point of privilege?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): No, order. I don't know why you think that every time I stand up it's a point of privilege, Speaker. It's just a point of order. Sometimes it is, but this time it's a point of order.

Mr Speaker, this is on a very different point of order. It goes back to a ruling you made, I think back in December, though I could be wrong, relating to the members of the presiding office -- yourself, the Deputy Speaker and the other two officers -- with respect to being in the chamber and wearing the attire you wear when you're sitting in the chair. The member for Perth, who is one of those presiding officers, is now in the chamber wearing the significant part of the attire, the bib. I think that's contrary to the ruling or the undertaking you gave at that time. I would ask you, if I'm correct in that, to --

The Speaker: I think the ruling I made at the time was that if the member were in the chamber he wouldn't take part in debate if he was in the Speaker's attire. I don't believe the member for Perth has taken part in debate, and I think he gave me his undertaking as well. That's, I think, what I gave my undertaking for.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We realize that the points of order have gone all afternoon, and I'm sure anybody watching on the television knows precisely what is happening here today.

I'm quoting from Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms. This is clause 346 on page 107, "Routine Proceedings." This clause indicates, "The use of dilatory tactics during routine proceedings can be an abuse, and the Speaker may, after consideration of the specific circumstances, permit motions which would end such an abuse."

Mr Speaker, I would put that clause to you at this point and ask that I, as the House leader, may be permitted to raise a motion that we do indeed proceed to introduction of bills. I would ask you to make that ruling.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: If I caught the words correctly, the government House leader said, in reading from Beauchesne, "The use of dilatory tactics...can be an abuse." I would say to you that yes, that could be true. Obviously, that's within your realm to rule on. I would say to you, sir, that the guide in that should be, is there anything in the actions taken by members of the House that constitutes that kind of delay? As long as we are raising and as long as members of the House are raising legitimate points of order --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I appreciate your point of order. Allow me to rule. I don't want to take too long on this one. I'm trying to find it, actually. Oh, here it is, 346: "Dilatory tactics during routine proceedings can be an abuse, and the Speaker may, after consideration of the specific circumstances, permit motions which would end such an abuse."

To the House leader, the difficulty that I as Speaker have is that all these points of order they're raising are in fact legitimate and in order. Now, I appreciate the fact that there's a process taking place here, and I understand what's going on. If they were standing in their place on improper points of order or simply adjourning and ringing the bells, I may have a leg to stand on with respect to this particular reading in Beauchesne, but quite frankly I have not ruled a single point of order out of order yet. Every one of them has been factual, it's been in order and I've had to deal with it as an orderly approach.

If members in the opposition are standing in their place on points of order and have legitimate points of order, I think it would ill behoove the Speaker to begin to say that this is a dilatory stalling tactic if that were the case, and since it is, I can't see any reason why I would invoke this 346.

Hon David Johnson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect to your ruling, I would just add, as the government House leader, I have indicated that in terms of the outstanding questions on the order paper, in terms of the petitions, I would endeavour to contact each and every one of the ministries involved and the ministers involved. I wonder if that would not cover the concern of the opposition members in terms of addressing those issues.

I think we all recognize in this House, whether it was the previous government, the NDP government, whether it was the previous government to that, the Liberal government, or whether it's the present or former Progressive Conservative governments, that at any point in time there always are outstanding questions on the order paper. We all know that here. We all know there are outstanding petitions, no matter which government is in power. If the government gives an undertaking to pursue those, I would think, considering the circumstances, considering the history, considering the fact that this is not abnormal, that should deal with the issue for reasonable people.

The Speaker: To the government House leader, it's something that you will have to decide among you. It's not up to the Speaker to decide whether proper points of order could be satisfied by agreement. That's a decision that those parties have to get together and make. I can only stand here and recognize people with points of order who are properly in order. If they are, I don't consider it dilatory. If you feel that you can satisfy their concerns, then I make the suggestion that you go and meet with them and satisfy their concerns. It's certainly not up to me to determine whether a government or opposition party is satisfied.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Just on the point of order raised by the government House leader, I think the emphasis from the point of view of the opposition is on the fact of how important it is to get the responses to the written questions in an expeditious manner. It's because we often utilize this information for further purposes in question period or in debate. We don't have immediate access to all of the information the government has; one vehicle which I find to be very helpful to the opposition is the vehicle of the written question.

Our oral question period is limited to one hour. It means that each of the parties has approximately one third of the questions, the opposition a little more than the governing side in terms of questions, so we have to utilize the written question in order to obtain information. Also, the Speaker wisely has ensured that the questions are limited to approximately one minute -- I think that's the approximate time when he asks that the question be put -- and he has also limited the answers that are provided by members of the government. That's most helpful as well that you do that, but you will understand then, Mr Speaker, why it is important that to get detailed answers, we put questions on the order paper and we have to get those answers back in an expeditious manner.

The Speaker: Thank you for your interjection, member for St Catharines. I will refer the government members to the 35th Parliament, first session. We were very much in the same situation at that time, when the then House leader, Ms Martel, addressed then Speaker Warner: "I respectfully request your ruling that you as Chair have an inherent discretionary authority to refuse to put the question on a dilatory motion where in your opinion such motion is an abuse of the procedures of the House." Of course, at that time Speaker Warner ruled in favour of the opposition and against the government. It seems to be a very similar situation at this time, and in fact the ruling I just made is consistent with that of Speaker Warner.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of order.

The Speaker: I'm going to the member for Sudbury East, actually.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I should say I remember that ruling. For the benefit of the government members, the opposition said, "If the government had complied with the rules, we wouldn't be here," so that's what I'm going to say to the government House leader. I appreciate his offer of assistance, but it is true that if the government had complied with the standing orders, we wouldn't be doing this this afternoon.

So, Mr Speaker, I need to raise a point of order with you here this afternoon. It is of course under standing order 97 with respect to the ability of members to receive written responses to questions which are posed to ministers and the time frame in which we are supposed to receive written answers to those same questions.


Mr Speaker, you should know that on October 16, I asked the Minister of Natural Resources the following question: "Would the Minister of Natural Resources provide the number of jobs that have been lost and how many person-years have been cut from the person-hours originally attached to positions for a conservation office."

The Speaker: What number would that be?

Ms Martel: Speaker, this was order paper question 589.

The Speaker: I do remember vividly the member for Scarborough East calling 589.

Point of order, the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. I just wanted to make the point that in this particular situation, and I know whereof I speak, having served in this House in another capacity, the government is the author of its own misfortune today because it hasn't complied with the rules.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Point of order, Mr Speaker: I put a question under section 97 of the rules on April 24, 1996, and I still have not had an answer, although one was promised for June 6. That question was regarding asking the Attorney General to provide a list of transfer payments and grants.

The Speaker: The third party, just begin, cite the order number you're saying and then the number.

Mrs Boyd: This is on page 23.

The Speaker: Okay, go ahead.

Mrs Boyd: The question was, "Would the Attorney General provide a list of transfer payments and grants (names of organizations and the dollar amount) that will be reduced or eliminated as part of the interim report on business planning and cost savings measures in 1996-97 and 1997-98."

As I say, that was placed on April 24. An interim answer was tabled May 6, 1996, and at that time the approximate date the information was to be available was June 6.

The Speaker: I will alert the minister.

On a point of order, the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): There is some doubt about whether or not every number of the outstanding questions was raised, Mr Speaker, so I guess I'll have to do it again.

The Speaker: Member for Scarborough East, the point of order, if you'd sit down, please, I don't want you to be in a situation where there was any question about whether you called all the numbers. My problem was that I had to follow you calling all the numbers and I can't guarantee you that I heard you call all the numbers. So if --

Mr Gilchrist: I would be pleased to do it again more slowly.

The Speaker: Well, again, that's what you can do, if you'd like. The member for Scarborough East.

Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I know that the third party has trouble with numbers. That's why we overspent by $10 billion a year.

The questions were 314, 341, 342, 344, 345, 346, 348 -- 353 had already been raised by Ms Martel -- 354, 355, 356, 357, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 561, 562, 563, 564, 565, 566, 567, 568, 569, 570, 571, 572, 574, 582, 583, 587, 588, 589, 590, 591, 592, 593, 594, 649, 650, 651, 662, 663, 664, 665, 666, 667, 668, 669, 670, 671, 673, 678, 679, 694, 695, 699, 700, 701, 702, 703, 704, 711, 712, 713 -- 719 has already been raised by the third party -- 720, 721, 722, 723, 726, 727, 728, 741, 742, 752, 753, 754, 755, 756, 757, 758, 759, 761, 762, 763, 764, 765, 766, 767, and of course the very popular question 768.

All of those I trust you would refer to the relevant minister with our strongest recommendation that as soon as their schedules permit in this busy time period, they can get an answer to those questions, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I'll refer those to the appropriate ministers.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to rise on a point of order with respect to standing order 36. As you know, that standing order provides every member of the Legislative Assembly with the opportunity to present a petition on behalf of the people of Ontario to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It's an extremely important function of a member of provincial Parliament and one which has been exercised for hundreds of years in both the British Parliament and throughout the Commonwealth.

Standing order 36(h), I know you are aware, reads as follows, "Within eight sessional days of its presentation" -- that being the petition -- "the government shall file a response to a petition with the Clerk of the House and shall provide a copy of the response to the member who presented the petition."

Mr Speaker, I would like to draw to your attention that with respect to petition 153, filed by my colleague from London Centre on November 18, 1996, with respect to the case of Ms Theresa Vince, there has been no reply and therefore there's been a breach of the standing orders, and I would ask that you would look into that and direct a response.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Done.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I too believe it's very important that the petitions that were sent in to us from people across this province do in fact get answered. I would draw to your attention a summary of all of the outstanding petitions, according to the Clerk's office, effective literally five minutes ago; they just posted a new update. Those would be petitions P-15, P-25, P-27, P-33 -- have you got them all so far? -- P-33, P-40, P-80, P-91, P-93, P-95, P-103, P-108, P-118, P-120, P-121, P-125, P-128 --


Mr Gilchrist: I'm coming to that -- P-129, P-139, P-140, P-144, P-145, P-146, P-148 --

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Bingo.

Mr Gilchrist: -- P-156, P-157, P-160 --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): There is no "p" in bingo.

Mr Gilchrist: Your man said, "Bingo" -- P-162, P-164, P-165, P-166, P-167, P-170, P-175, P-176, P-179, P-180, P-182, P-184, P-185, P-188, P-194, P-195, P-196, P-198, P-199 and P-200.

Mr Speaker, this is directly from the Clerk's office and I would draw to the attention of the member for Beaches-Woodbine that the petition to which she just alluded, P-153, was in fact responded to on January 6. The numbers I have read off, according to the Clerk's office, represent all outstanding petitions. I would encourage you to get the relevant ministers to respond as soon as possible to these outstanding concerns.

The Speaker: I will undertake to send that to the relevant ministers and ask them to respond.


Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I appreciate the member's update, as he said this was the new list that has been filed within the last five minutes, and I certainly expect I'll have a copy of that being sent to me so I can review that. But I want to indicate from the initial update I have that there has been information provided to you in this point of order that is not complete and correct, and it leaves us a little bit confused.

For example, with respect to P-118, which the member indicated had not been responded to, I know that petition P-118, on the Workers' Health and Safety Centre occupational health clinics, tabled on July 11 by my colleague Mr Christopherson, was responded to on June 25, 1996.

So there is a variety of information. You have not been given the full information, Mr Speaker, and for clarification I think it would be important for us to be able to raise specific petitions on specific dates; in fact it is our right as members to be able to put forward that information to you.

The member has put forward some blanket information which is not complete and/or correct, as I have pointed out, and which is confusing, so I think we're no further ahead in this respect. Mr Speaker, I will leave that with you. I believe there are some other points that other members want to raise.

Mr Gilchrist: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: With reference to petition P-118, there were three further submissions of that petition, on December 10, December 16 and December 19, which have not been responded to. I will be pleased to table with the clerk --

Mr Wildman: Why not?

Mr Gilchrist: I guess you'll have to wait to see the minister's reply.

The Speaker has already given his undertaking. Mr Speaker, if it assists in any way to give you or the clerks' table this compendium so that the matter is addressed once and for all, the specific dates and the specific petitions --

The Speaker: It doesn't help.

As far I'm concerned, to respond to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, if you can provide for me a petition that has not been referred to by the member for Scarborough East, then it is fully in order, but if you're standing in your place providing to me petitions that have been moved properly and dealt with, you're out of order.

Ms Lankin: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. In that regard, to make my point that some of the information is confusing, the member opposite just listed three petitions under P-118 which he says have not been responded to. I would like to draw to your attention, Mr Speaker, that under standing order 36, which you know is the matter we're dealing with, the tabling of petitions, and under section (h), that they be responded to in eight days, according to the information I have in front of me, and I would like you to check into this, there was a petition under P-118 tabled by my colleague Mr Christopherson on November 19, 1996, which was not one of the three the member just referred to, and which has not been responded to as of today when I stood to raise this point of order.

Mr Speaker, I believe the member has confused matters more. He says there are three; I have two others. It would behoove us, in some of these areas where there is confusion, to be able to raise with you those examples. I have just tabled that one and I would ask that you check into that, and if I'm correct that it has not been responded to, to order that it be so responded to.

The Speaker: Reading item 36, it seems to me that P-118 is the same petition and it has been given on different days. One petition has been responded to and the ones subsequently maybe have not been responded to. Having the member for Scarborough East move 118 will universally cover those that you're suggesting haven't been responded to.

I'm saying to the members of the third party, it's come to the point in time now where if you have petitions that haven't been responded to, I'm ready, willing and able to hear them, but you're not in order if you stand and simply talk about the exact same petition that was given at a future date. Okay?

Ms Lankin: But there was confusion there. Do you accept that?

The Speaker: Let me just say this. I accept that there was some confusion between the member for Scarborough East, possibly, and the member for Beaches-Woodbine, but from my take on the issue, I just don't believe there's any confusion at all.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Perhaps you could help me. The standing orders are quite clear, as you are aware, in terms of petitions and the length of time it takes to answer a petition. That's true also of the order paper questions. In both cases, I understand that the minister has the option of tabling an interim answer, saying that they can't give the answer now but that the answer will be available by such-and-such a date. In some cases ministers have done this with those that are outstanding and in some cases they haven't.

My question is, what is the procedure for members who have properly presented petitions on behalf of their constituents, citizens of Ontario, to the House and to the government when the government doesn't comply with the rule? Now we have the member for Scarborough East getting up and reading out a long list, essentially admitting that the government, yes indeed, has not complied with the rules but that it will, but he does not give us any date by which the government will comply with the rule. How many days? The rule says eight sessional days. The member for Scarborough East has admitted that the government hasn't lived up to the rule, yet he has not given us any date by which time the government will comply with the rule --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Algoma. I'm not quite sure that's a point of order; a point of frustration, possibly. I understand the point you're making, but you know what? They're not out of order for the time they're taking. Well, they are out of order, but you can bring it to my attention. You've done just that. That's all that's in the rule book.

Mr Bisson: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Just to set this up, you would know that every member of the assembly is entitled to a budget to run his or her constituency office to do the work we do within our constituency. Late last year there was a mixup in a bill that was sent to my office for something that was purchased in the budget year 1995-96. This will only take a minute, Speaker. I put in a written submission at the time to the previous Speaker, asking the Speaker to take a look at this to see if it would be allowed that the item be paid in the following budget year, as it wasn't my fault that the item had not been paid for. Because there was a mixup from the supplier --

The Speaker: I've got to say, member for Cochrane South, I'm really having a difficult time reaching out for the standing order you're standing on and the point of order you're making.

Mr Bisson: It's on a point of privilege.

The Speaker: Okay, the point of privilege you're making. Whatever, if you could drive this one home, I'd appreciate it.

Mr Bisson: If you give me 30 seconds, I'll get to the point. What happened was that there was an item purchased on last year's budget. There was a mixup from the supplier in getting the bill to the finance branch to be paid. I took every step I could to get that done. It didn't. The point I'm getting to -- and I'm just at it, if you give me a second. I know the Clerk is trying to give you some advice, but you will see. What happened is that I sent a letter to the former Speaker asking him to take a look at this matter.

The Speaker: Yes, I know that.

Mr Bisson: I never got a response to it. A subsequent letter was sent, to which I again haven't got a response. I'm wondering, if I can get you a copy of that letter on Monday next, if you would be able to look into that matter for me --

The Speaker: That's not even close to a point of order.

Mr Bisson: A point of privilege.

The Speaker: A point of privilege, a point of order, a point of interest. That's nothing. I don't want to deal with that. Anything else?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: With regard to my rights under 36(a) and (h), a petition number that was not listed -- I would ask you to check the list you received. Petition number 121 was --

The Speaker: Yes, it was listed.

Mr Christopherson: I'm sorry; 122. You're correct. My mistake.

The Speaker: Yes, 122 was not listed.

Mr Christopherson: Petition number 122: On November 5 I tabled a petition again further to the concerns that many Ontarians have about the French Language Services Act, 1986.

The Speaker: It was responded to July 29.


Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.



The Speaker: No, no. I'll tell you, I don't want to get into this debate again like the other day. I stood here and I said it was responded to on --


The Speaker: Members for Cochrane South and Beaches-Woodbine and St Catharines, I went to the member for Hamilton Centre and I said it was responded to on the date. I looked, there was no one standing. I said, "Motions," so we're in motions. If you want to go to a point of order, that's fine. Point of order, member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The rules of the House are very clear when it comes to a member raising a point of order. I agree with you that you found that the point of order on behalf of the member for Hamilton Centre had been dealt with and you read back the number. The member was still on his feet and I was waiting to raise further another point of order in regard to standing orders 23(h) and (i).

You did not give me the opportunity to even get up. I know I am not able to take the floor so long as you are standing or another member of the Legislative Assembly has the floor. As I looked over, and he's only two seats away from me, the member for Hamilton Centre had the floor, was on his feet. You then stood in order to say that the particular item had been dealt with. You were still on your feet. I didn't even get a chance to get back up again, because you had never sat again.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It relates back to the same standing order that we've been discussing, standing order 36(h), and a further petition that has not been replied to. I believe that's an appropriate point of order.

The Speaker: You're at a petition that has not been responded to?

Mr Silipo: Yes.

The Speaker: I just want to be clear to the opposition that we are in motions.

Mr Silipo: Yes.

The Speaker: You understand. Okay.

Mr Silipo: As you said earlier, points of order are appropriate at any point as long as they are legitimate points of order. I want to draw to your attention a further breach of standing order 36(h), which provides for a reply to a petition within eight sessional days of its presentation, particularly with respect to petition P-119, which I understand has not been replied to.

That's standing in the name of Mr Marchese, filed on June 10, 1996, regarding cuts to housing, abolishing user fees and maintaining current levels of funding for programs and social services. It has not been responded to, and I would ask, Speaker, that you draw that to the relevant minister's attention.

The Speaker: I will caution the members from the opposition. As far as I can tell, 119 is not on my list, but I will say this: If 119 has been responded to, as 122 was responded to, then you're beginning to stand on points of order that aren't properly in order. I want to give you that fair notice.

Mr Silipo: That's a fair point that you make. I am only going by the information that I have, and it specifically was a point that was not addressed in the point of order raised earlier. Otherwise I would not have stood and made that.

The Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I understand the point you are trying to draw to our attention. I would say to you that I have endeavoured to ascertain whether these petitions have been answered. I certainly have endeavoured to ascertain whether or not they were on the list that Mr Gilchrist put forward. I also approached the table and asked them for the updated list which has been issued today and have been informed that it is not available at the table or for the members in the House; it is on the Internet.

So I ask you to understand that we have done our best at this point to have appropriate, updated information. The ones we are raising at this point, as we understand it, have not been referred to by the member for Scarborough East. I assure you that we are attempting to be within order. We cannot know, and would ask you to tell us if you're aware, whether or not these have been answered since the last information was posted, because that information isn't generally available yet in printed format for all members to have access to.

The Speaker: I appreciate what you're saying and I understand what your question was to the table clerks.

I will respond to the member for Dovercourt: Petition 119 was responded to and it in fact has been answered, as well as 121.

The member for Mississauga West.


Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Mr Speaker, I move that we do now proceed to introduction of bills.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, on a point of order --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I say to the members of the opposition, I called motions, the motion was put. The member for Mississauga West was in order to stand in his place. He's moved the motion.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, with respect to whether that's in order.

The Speaker: I need order quickly, if you can take your seat. When I call motions and I stand -- and the member for Mississauga West properly stood and called the number, asked that we proceed to introduction of bills. That's in order; there's nothing out of order about that. I don't want to get caught in a Speaker's situation where a perfectly legitimate procedure is put in place and we start getting hammered on points of order. That's in order. He has moved that motion. That motion is not debatable; we will simply move to a vote. I hope you can understand that.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: And you're standing for?

Ms Lankin: For a clarification of your ruling.

The Speaker: I will allow the one member from the third party to have a brief moment.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, I will not take long. I understand you say that the member has risen and attempted to move the motion to move to introduction of bills. My concern is that although we were in motions, in order to get the floor, one must be recognized. I believe that where two members stand at the same time and one is clearly saying to you, "A point of order," and the other is standing quietly, there's a precedence in the order and it's not general rotation.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Brant-Haldimand, please come to order. Thank you.

I know it's not rotation. I honestly didn't hear the member for Sudbury East say that.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I did.

The Speaker: She may well have said it, and I'm not suggesting to anyone that they're not honourable members. If you say you said it, you said it --

Ms Lankin: We'll say it louder next time.

The Speaker: I agree, if it means saying it louder, but I honestly did not hear her say that. If I had, I would have recognized her.

The member for Mississauga West has moved that we proceed to introduction of bills. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1707 to 1737.

The Speaker: Order. The member for Mississauga West has moved that we proceed to introduction of bills.

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 46; the nays are 14.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 106, An Act respecting the financing of local government / Projet de loi 106, Loi concernant le financement des administrations locales.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): 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 ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1739 to 1744.

The Speaker: Mr Eves has moved An Act respecting the financing of local government. All those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Gilchrist, Steve

Pettit, Trevor

Baird, John R.

Hudak, Tim

Preston, Peter

Barrett, Toby

Johns, Helen

Sampson, Rob

Boushy, Dave

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn

Brown, Jim

Johnson, David

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, Ron

Spina, Joseph

Clement, Tony

Kells, Morley

Tilson, David

DeFaria, Carl

Klees, Frank

Tsubouchi, David H.

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Turnbull, David

Ecker, Janet

Marland, Margaret

Vankoughnet, Bill

Elliott, Brenda

Munro, Julia

Villeneuve, Noble

Eves, Ernie L.

Murdoch, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fisher, Barbara

Newman, Dan

Wood, Bob

Ford, Douglas B.

O'Toole, John

Young, Terence H.

Fox, Gary

Ouellette, Jerry J.


Froese, Tom

Parker, John L.


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


Bisson, Gilles

Curling, Alvin

Ruprecht, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

Sergio, Mario

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

Silipo, Tony

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Wildman, Bud

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 46; the nays are 15.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Mr Eves.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Just very briefly, Mr Speaker, I've already enunciated in my statement earlier today the principles behind the bill. I think at the end of the day we'll find that we will have a fair and equitable property tax system for all Ontarians.

The Speaker: Introduction of bills. Member for Dovercourt.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Dovercourt has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1748 to 1818.

The Speaker: The member for Dovercourt 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 9; the nays are 39.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost. Now, it being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1819.