36th Parliament, 1st Session

L155 - Mon 3 Feb 1997 / Lun 3 Fév 1997























































The House met at 1331.




Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I'm very happy, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, to express our congratulations to all the participants in the Special Olympics World Winter Games being held in Toronto and Collingwood this week.

We are honoured as a community and as a province as a whole to be hosting some remarkable athletes from 80 countries from around the world. These young men and women have gathered here against considerable odds and sometimes limited expectations to show all of us the meaning of effort in adversity and of striving to be the best one can be. We can all take lessons from that.

I would like also to congratulate the organizers of this event. By your efforts, you show how meaningful this occasion is and how much fun we can have when we all share in the spirit of athletic achievement on such a grand scale together.

The best part of following Olympic events is the athletes themselves. We feel for each and every one of them, no matter what country they come from, as we see how much heart they put into their determination to win. They are all winners, those who come first, but no less those who put forward their very best effort when the eyes of the world are upon them. We are filled with admiration for these young athletes and salute their courage and achievement.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This morning, Marion Boyd, the member for London Centre, and myself, along with others, joined Ontario's professional firefighters as they illustrated in a very graphic, a very visceral way how dangerous Bill 84 is going to be to our communities, to our firefighters and to the people they have so courageously and professionally served until now.

They point out that Bill 84, which this government wants to impose upon the communities of Ontario and on professional firefighters, is going to mean fewer firefighters when and where people in danger and people confronted by the tragedy of fire and other accidents and health-threatening situations need them.

It's going to mean that part-time employees are going to be replacing full-time professional firefighters. That means people with only part-time experience and with less training are going to be in there in the thick of things when we need the skilled professional firefighter most.

It's going to mean, I tell you, privatization of firefighting services. It hasn't worked in the United States and it won't work well for the health and safety of communities and families here in Ontario.

It's going to mean an expansion of bureaucracy and it's going to mean an attack on the highly skilled levels of teamwork that professional firefighters have developed in every community across Ontario.

We were proud to join with firefighters in condemning Bill 84, condemning Harris and --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Ontario is a refuge for people from all over the world. Many new Ontarians who live in my riding have escaped from religious, social and political persecution. They took refuge from tyranny, denial of human rights, deprivation of citizenship and franchise. They came to Ontario for equal opportunity and hope for their children, but they can't forget the turmoil at home.

It is difficult to contrast the freedoms enjoyed here with the denial of the most basic rules of democracy and the violence taking place in other parts of the world.

The Tamil community here in Ontario and in my riding is presently observing a week of fasting and prayer to express their distress over the lack of human rights for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Several members of the Tamil community are in the gallery today: the Reverend Canon J. Francis Xavier, Anton Sinarasa Philip, and Mr and Mrs Thillaiampalam Thavarajam.

I support the Tamil community's call for peace and an end to injustice. Human rights are the most fundamental rights for everyone.

I would like to add my voice in this Legislature to the Tamil cries for justice, and I call upon my colleagues in this House to support the Tamils' desire for a lasting peace all over the world.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): As I rise, the nominees for the 1997 Krista Sepp Memorial Award are being honoured and are celebrating the achievements of all the nominees.

The Krista Sepp Memorial Award was established back in 1991 in memory of Krista Sepp, who was murdered on February 3, 1989, while in the performance of her duties as a child and youth counsellor in a group home in Midland after only nine days on the job. The award is given annually to celebrate Krista's life and to recognize the contribution of child and youth counsellors to young people and their families in Ontario.

The award recognizes the qualities Krista brought to her work, which included enthusiasm, empathy, high ideals, a thirst for knowledge and a capacity to apply theory to practice; the role of child and youth counsellors in delivering service to children and their families in Ontario; and the high-risk and often undervalued work of providing service to a population with many complex and painful problems.

The recipient of the fifth annual Krista Sepp Memorial Award is Ms Dorothy Morari, a child and youth worker from the George Hull Centre for Children and Families in Etobicoke. She was chosen by the committee from among 24 nominees across the province, including Ms Chantal Payette from the Roberts/Smart Centre in my riding.

I am certain that all the members of the Legislature will join me in congratulating all the nominees for being chosen and for their ongoing very valuable work they do on behalf of troubled children and youth and their families.



Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): One of the many negative results of the cuts to the family support plan has been that payors and recipients have suffered additional charges because of late or missing cheques. They are penalty charges on personal NSF cheques, late mortgage payments, late hydro, gas and phone payments.

The Attorney General claims he wants to compensate clients for these charges, but nothing is further from the truth. He has made no effort to contact FSP clients to advise they are entitled to help. The propaganda piece mailed to all clients in October had no information on compensation. The propaganda piece mailed out to MPPs two weeks ago again had no information. The FSP automated phone system does not provide a number to call for help on this matter. Only once, in response to a question I raised in this House, did the Attorney General publicly release a phone number clients could call for information. If you didn't watch question period that day or if you weren't quick enough to write it down, you're out of luck.

Worse still, Harnick is limiting compensation to clients whose cheques were delayed only in September and October. He has truly sunk to a new low. Trying to pretend that payment problems were limited to two months only does not make it so. Families who used to receive regular support payments are still calling my office because of late or lost cheques. It is clear the Attorney General is still not prepared to accept responsibility for his cuts or to pay people who should be paid. This minister should notify all clients that they might be entitled and he should accept --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre to mark a special occasion. This is the second year since the federal government declared February Black History Month. We in Ontario are fortunate to live in a province whose identity is firmly rooted in its rich heritage and strong cultural traditions.

People of many different backgrounds have contributed to this powerful legacy, including a vibrant African-Canadian community. I would like to take this opportunity to salute the important contributions this community has made in the areas of politics, the arts, education, medicine, indeed in all aspects of life in Ontario.

This month not only celebrates the outstanding achievements of black Ontarians, it goes far beyond, highlighting the value and importance of cultural sharing to a society and a nation.

Black History Week was first observed by Carter G. Woodson of the United States in February 1926. Now, more than 70 years later, hundreds of thousands are involved in the month-long celebrations not only here in Ontario but throughout North America.

I am pleased the Legislature is sitting at this time so that I have the opportunity to publicly recognize the celebration and this community for its accomplishments.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This government continues to waste taxpayers' money on an ad campaign that will cost in excess of $2.3 million when it is complete. This ad is not only a waste of money but an insult to the people of Ontario.

Every time I see one of these ads that is costing us thousands of dollars, I'm reminded of the hospitals that the Minister of Health is closing in Sudbury and around the province, and the hundreds of nurses that this government seems to think are expendable.

When I look at the ads promoting efficiency in government I wonder what the regional taxpayers of Sudbury are thinking, when it will cost them $1,600 more per household to pay for these service efficiencies; I wonder what the Hamilton-Wentworth taxpayers are thinking when it's going to cost them $625 more per household for these service efficiencies. I wonder if they're thinking what I'm thinking: "Whom are they trying to fool with this ads?"

When I see ads promoting educational efficiency I think about the parents who have children with special needs, about the parents who have children in classroom sizes of 38, 40 and 42. I wonder what they're thinking.

Clearly this government is abusing its power; it's abusing its privilege. The next ads should promote, with the three monkeys, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I would like to join today with my colleague from Scarborough West in expressing my support to the Tamil community in Metro Toronto. I attended yesterday as well, with the member from Scarborough West and other politicians and many people from the Tamil community who are deeply saddened and distressed by the kinds of atrocities that are taking place in their homeland -- I note, along with the member for Scarborough West, that some of them are with us in the gallery today and they're very anxious to let people know about what is happening to human rights in their homeland.

I want to express to them today my sympathies and my support for this week of fasting and prayer to try to do their bit to end the kinds of atrocities and denial of human rights back in their homeland. It is very difficult for us here in Canada to even begin to imagine the kinds of difficulties and atrocities that their friends, their families are going through in their homeland. I applaud them for their community activism here in Toronto, for not forgetting their families and friends back home and for expressing their keen desire for the rest of us to join with them in calling for human rights to be brought back in their homeland.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Today marks the first day of competition at the Special Olympics World Winter Games. For the first time, these games are being held in Canada, and I'm proud to say Ontario is the venue for all the events.

This is the largest international multisport event held anywhere in the world in 1997. More than 2,000 of the best athletes with developmental disabilities from 80 countries will vie for medals, including 82 from Canada and 33 from Ontario.

They will display their talents in figure skating, speed skating and floor hockey competitions at various locations in Metro Toronto; alpine skiing at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, and cross-country skiing at both Collingwood and Duntroon. There will also be two demonstration sports: eisstock, a form of curling, and snowshoeing.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games, and the athletes in particular, help enormously to increase public awareness and understanding of people with developmental disabilities. The games also give athletes the opportunity to display their talents on an international stage, strive for personal best, and gain valuable cultural experiences from their peers. Special Olympians, through dedication and hard work, set a standard of excellence that inspires our youth to participate across Ontario.

I think I can speak for everyone in this House today when I say we're all very proud of our athletes.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the host communities of Toronto, Collingwood and Duntroon and to wish athletes participating at the Special Olympics World Winter Games the very best of success.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I rise today to announce our government's reinvestment of $57 million in Ontario's hospitals. By strategically reinvesting --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. There's opportunity for five minutes of response. You'll have to go one at a time then, but you can get your chance.

Hon David Johnson: By strategically reinvesting into hospital-based services, this government has once again put the needs of Ontario patients first.

In recent months, hospitals in some communities across the province have expressed concern that population growth and serving the needs of patients over large geographic areas have increased pressure on their budgets. I'm proud to say that this government is directly responding to these concerns by reinvesting $57 million in hospitals that face unique and special circumstances.

Specifically, this $57-million reinvestment includes $18 million for hospitals which experienced higher than expected demand for services last year due to an increase in the population above the provincial average; $14 million to recognize the special challenges facing northern Ontario hospitals which serve patients over large geographic areas; and a renewal of $25 million in funding for those hospitals in the greater Toronto area with significant population increases.

This $57-million reinvestment is coupled with the release of almost $6.4 billion in 1997-98 allocations of funding to individual hospitals. These funding allocations were determined by a formula developed by the Ontario Hospital Association and hospital administrators in partnership with the government. The 1997-98 hospital allocations represent the second year of a multi-year funding allocation program put in place by this government to give hospitals greater predictability in funding.

This funding announcement is the latest in this government's continual process of reinvesting in Ontario's health care system. Last Friday I had the pleasure of announcing $3.5 million to increase long-term-care services for Grey-Owen Sound, and another $1 million for chronic care services in the Dufferin-Caledon Health Care Corp. The week before, I announced almost $4 million for long-term-care services in Halton and Brampton.

The $57 million is the first in a series of announcements for hospitals. In the weeks to come, I will be making announcements on hospital-based priority programs and services for Ontario patients such as cardiac care, cancer, dialysis and mental health.


Putting the needs of Ontario patients first by reinvesting into front-line services is a top priority of this government. In fact, since coming to office in 1995, this government has announced an investment of over $685 million into services for patients. This is a commitment we are proud to carry on even as the federal Liberal government continues to slash over $2 billion from health and social transfers to Ontario.


The Speaker: Order. It's Monday.

Hon David Johnson: There does seem to be a little sensitivity about mentioning that $2-billion cut, doesn't there, Mr Speaker?

Reinvestments like the one I am making today, along with those that have come before and the many that will follow in the future, demonstrate this government's vision of an improved and integrated health care system, one in which all of the pieces in the system come together to provide patients with the right care at the right time and in the right place.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): Our part-time Minister of Health should hang his head in shame for the statement he made today. The same day that he was traipsing around in Dufferin and Mississauga, holding up signs about reinvesting money, he was sending letters -- this memo right here was being sent -- to every hospital across this province, telling them how much money they were losing.

The largest cut in health care, the largest cut in hospitals, ever done in this province was enacted by this minister on Friday. This government, which has no shame when it comes to the sick and the elderly, has the audacity to come and reannounce some money to try to take the eyes off of what was actually happening. To see this government operate in such a cynical fashion is disturbing in the extreme.

Mr Minister, you should stand in your place today and explain how you've cut $70 million more away than you took last year. Minister, tell the truth when it comes to the state of the province's hospitals. What you've done to nurses, to patients, to doctors in this province is unprecedented and it's your responsibility.

This government has gone through on its ill-thought-out plans to cut from hospitals before it has any kind of plan anywhere else in place. They're disturbing the ability of health care professionals of institutions in this province to provide even basic decent care. When we look at the announcement that this minister tried to distract us with, he tried to have us look the other way and not see the $435 million that are threatening closures of hospitals in places like the Niagara region, the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines, West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, which tonight is having at least a discussion, trying to get in on this minister's decision, the Port Colborne General Hospital, Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake General Hospital, and St Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener, all of these threatened by this minister's inaction in the face of a very, very bad plan.

We see the minister pretending that his announcements have something to do with fixing the problem when in fact they're directed elsewhere, and 84% of the money you're putting forward is going where? Surprisingly, to Tory ridings, to the people opposite who are using that little bit of money to buy off their constituents and try and quiet them down and not be worried about the fundamental fact that 6% of the money that used to be in the health care system is leaving, that it's going south with this minister and with that announcement.

When we look at the minister's pretence that the money he tried to allocate is going to do something about it, we see that the Ontario Hospital Association says on the same day that his approach makes no sense, that he should not be making these cuts while he has no plan for dealing with the province's hospitals.

This minister's standing up in this House today to try and make some political hay out of the fact that they're taking money away from people and giving a very small amount back will not make any difference to the wellbeing of patients in this province. Your efforts here today will not fool anyone.

Patients will be able to tell the difference. They're telling it now in the delays in emergency rooms, they're telling it now in the quality of care they're getting and they're telling it now because they know the difference when someone tries to pull this over their heads.

We know also that a situation has emerged in Windsor that people want to hear about.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Minister, how could you stand in the House today and make this kind of announcement after you stood on your feet last week and said you were making an announcement soon that would address my problem in the Windsor area? When you released that list on Friday, Windsor was not on your list. You chose to ignore our area and you did that on purpose. How can you stand there today and fool the people of Ontario as though you really are reinvesting? In my community I am hearing daily, every hour, case after case of people who simply are not able to access good health care. It's a well-known fact: "Don't go to the hospital alone." We all know that.

Your announcements today do absolutely nothing for those of us who need it: the sick, the elderly, the seniors. Windsor is going to be the thing that brings you down, Minister, because it happens first in Windsor. We were the first to reconfigure, and to do that you took more money away. Now you're threatening to take even more money away.

What you're announcing today is simply not acceptable to anyone in Essex county. You left us off the list. Last week you said that you were making an announcement that would somehow address the problems for Windsor residents. Our people will not suffer this much longer. My phone has been besieged, but in a very short matter your phones too will be besieged, and we are looking for answers from our Minister of Health.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Remember St Catharines as well when you're trying to close hospitals.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): You want us to remember St Catharines?

The Speaker: There's no such thing as six seconds of dead air, I take it.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The Tories may have lost Paul Rhodes but they haven't lost their ability to spin a story to the people of Ontario. This is really quite a disgraceful exhibition of how this government is constantly trying to say to people, "Black is white; white is black."

This minister dares to stand in his seat and tell the people of Ontario that he is distributing $61 million of new money when there is no new money at all. Every cent of this announcement comes out of the reductions that have happened to other hospitals, and those reductions range anywhere from 4% to 8%. Let the people of this province understand that the growth funds which are necessary -- no one argues that where there's high demand in the north and in high-growth areas those needs need to be met, but everyone must understand that those needs are being met at the expense of other people.

In my riding of London, when you add inflation in, the reductions happening to the London Academic Health Sciences Centre are about 10% of its budget, and that is going to make a huge difference to health care in my area. Every member in this House needs to understand that this announcement today is an effort on the part of this part-time Minister of Health to try and convince people that this government is not taking away dollars from health care.

The people of Ontario are getting very tired of this kind of show on the part of this government, and they know better. They know that people are being released too early from the hospital. They know that they as families, as communities are being asked to care for people because this government has gone ahead with reducing those budgets before restructuring is completed, before the reinvestment into community services is complete.

My colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich talks about the difficulty in her hospitals, and we all saw in the news the complete incompetence of this minister and ministry in terms of closing down the existing long-term-care facility that had worked well and had been a one-stop shop in her community and now has been destroyed by this government.


The people of Ontario are getting very tired. They listen to people like David MacKinnon, the OHA president. The OHA has been very supportive of the need to restructure, but they have been very clear. This government continues again and again to withdraw money, to force hospitals to make decisions which may not be the best and most economic decisions, because what is to be put in place in terms of community care has not been announced. No one knows what those facilities are going to be, no one knows what that funding is going to be, and in the meantime, the patients of this province are being grossly disadvantaged. They're being endangered, and we are hearing story after story from community after community about patients who have been released too early and who have not been able to get the care they require within their communities.

When we talk about this government downloading, let's be very clear. It's downloading not only on to the municipalities but on to everyone in the community when it takes the care, the expert, committed care of professional health care workers, over 8,000 of whom have received their notices in the last nine months alone, takes those professional people out of the health care system and makes all of us responsible for the care of people whom we love and who we know need that care. And this minister dares to stand and try to disguise the taking of $435 million out of the hospital system as a good-news item.

Let's be very clear. All of the announcements that this minister and this government have made about long-term care are already assigned dollars. This is not new money; this is money that has been announced for a long time, and they keep announcing and reannouncing and reannouncing and trying to fool the people of Ontario into believing this is new money that they're giving to the care of the people of Ontario, and it is not the case. It can be shown again and again that this is part of the shell game that this Tory government is trying to put over on the citizens of Ontario, and they're going to find out that the citizens of Ontario are smarter than that. They understand that you cannot take money from one pocket, put it into another, put into another, put it into another. Somebody loses, and it's the patient --

The Speaker: Thank you. It's time for oral questions. Leader of the official opposition.

Oh, I've got to read this into the record; I'm sorry. We'll restart the clock when the time comes.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Pursuant to section 31(b) of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table a response from the Honourable Gregory Evans, Integrity Commissioner, to the request from the member for Riverdale on whether the member for St George-St David had contravened the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, as a result of certain actions taken by his executive assistant.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Health. On Friday, I attended our fact-finding hearings in Windsor. We travelled to Windsor, and at that time we heard from some ambulance attendants. They told us a number of things that were very interesting and raised some serious concerns on our part.

They said that people living in small and rural communities should be frightened by your mega-week announcements, especially seniors, who place a heavy reliance on the health care system. They said that downloading ambulance services was going to lead to different standards of health care based on the ability and the willingness of the local community to meet those needs. They said that we're going to create a fragmented system that's going to increase -- this is very important -- ambulance response times, and it could very well cost lives.

Minister, I want you to explain to the House now why it is that downloading ambulance services on to municipalities is good for the health care system.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I will indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that the ambulance system I'm most familiar with, of course, is the ambulance system here in Metropolitan Toronto, and that system has been looked after by and has been the responsibility of the municipality for some considerable period of time.

The municipality has tailored that system here in Metropolitan Toronto and has made it work. The municipality took a system that many years ago was inadequate and tailored it to the needs of the people of Metropolitan Toronto and made it into an excellent ambulance system with probably the best response time of any ambulance system in Ontario, I would venture to guess.

It's our view that municipalities across Ontario will do the same thing, that municipalities place a very high significance and priority on ambulance services and on health care services and will develop excellent ambulance systems for their communities.

Mr McGuinty: Just so the minister understands who is paying for what right now, at present the province funds ambulance systems in this province to the tune of $300 million. Municipalities pitch in $35 million. The minister should also know that David Crombie, the man who came up with the recommendations, recommended against downloading ambulance services on to the municipalities. In fact, what he recommended was that the province assume complete responsibility for all ambulance services throughout the province.

Let me tell you what else the ambulance attendants said. They said that your dumping is going to lead to an Americanization of our ambulance system. They said that patients could very well be forced to pay for every bandage and every splint used. They said that in the States, ambulances are like taxis: You pay according to how long you're in the darned things and the distance you travel. They told us that the average American ambulance ride costs $700. Do you share the concerns of those ambulance attendants? Do you share those concerns?

Hon David Johnson: I share a number of the concerns of many people in the province of Ontario for health care. Health care is the number one priority of this government in terms of services.

I will indicate to the member opposite that I'm informed that Manitoba and Alberta, for example, are two other provinces wherein the municipalities run the land ambulance services, and that's what we're talking about, the land ambulance services. The province of Ontario will retain air ambulance.

Basically, this process will do a number of things: It will take the education tax, the huge, $5.4-billion, growing to $6.4-billion, cost of education off the residential property taxpayer.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. That's way out of order. I ask the member for Ottawa Centre to withdraw.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I withdraw.

Hon David Johnson: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. It will take that huge cost, that enormous cost of education off the property taxpayer, and at the same time some services such as the land ambulance service are being shifted to municipalities. I am fully confident that those municipalities will have the financial wherewithal and the extreme interest to create excellent services for their communities.

Mr McGuinty: I'm going to ask another question of the minister. I'm going to ask him this time to speak to me as the Minister of Health, someone who is genuinely concerned about the delivery of quality health care in the province and not about juggling responsibilities from the province to the municipalities with a view to extracting another billion dollars. Let's talk now like the Minister of Health.

I am particularly concerned about the impact of the mega-week policies on seniors. Long-term care, ambulance care, social housing and property tax increases are all going to hit seniors hardest, and all this as you close hospitals and slash an additional $435 million from their budgets.

Minister, you're creating a fragmented system. Everybody who has any real understanding of this issue knows we've got to integrate, not disintegrate. Transferring ambulance services to municipalities, contrary to Crombie's recommendation, is a process leading us towards disintegration.


Ambulance service is not a big-ticket item. It makes sense that it stay in provincial control at least in small rural communities. I'm going to ask you again: Will you keep it at least in the case of small rural communities --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mr Johnson: The province of Ontario will continue to set the service standards and the copayment rates for land ambulance services. I am confident that municipalities, when they're freed and when their seniors -- I can tell you, if there is one issue the seniors have talked to me about over the years, it's about the cost of education on their residential property taxes. That has been the major concern.

The Liberals said they'd reduce the cost of education on the property tax for seniors. The NDP said they would reduce the cost of education on the property tax for seniors. What did they do? They both increased the cost on the property tax for seniors. This government, finally, has taken the cost of education off the property tax for seniors.

We have committed in health care $17.4 billion. The Liberals said they'd be satisfied with $17 billion in health care; we said no, at least $17.4 billion for health care, for long-term care, for chronic care, for all the services needed by the people in Ontario.

The Speaker: New question, the leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: What seniors want to know is that the services they need are going to be there for them when they need them.

The Speaker: I need to know who the question is to.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. In your 1996-97 budget you announced $65 million in spending initiatives for Ontario children. Of that total, only $5 million has been spent. That means there are 60 million -- I wonder, Mr Speaker, if I might have the attention of the minister.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I think she knows.

Mr McGuinty: That means there are 60 million unspent dollars which had been promised by this government would be spent on children in Ontario, needy children in particular. Of the four programs announced, only one, the breakfast program -- the least expensive one -- has been delivered on. That promise has been delivered on. There are three other programs which remain outstanding: One was going to address the problem of low-birthweight babies being born in Ontario today; one was going to deal with the huge number of children -- there are 5,000 in Peel alone -- who are waiting for speech pathology treatment; and then there was going to be the issue of child care.

Minister, I'm not asking you for new money. I'm simply asking you to deliver on a promise you made to Ontario kids. Will you do that?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): The honourable member across the way has certainly pointed out the importance of these three programs. That's why we made the budget commitments that we made, and we intend to live up to those budget commitments. As the Premier expressed late last week, we wish we could have moved faster on it. We have not been able to do that, but it remains a priority, and we are continuing to move on this because they are very important programs that we intend to deliver on.

Mr McGuinty: That response lends no comfort whatsoever to Ontario children who are in need right now. You made the promise nearly a year ago and you've delivered on less than 5% of it.

Let me tell you about the Mays. We raised the question of the Mays in this House some two months ago. We talked to you about the Mays, a young couple who had a son by the name of Adam. He's two and a half years of age, and they have spent some 16 months trying to get a speech pathologist for their son. Adam was not saying the kinds of things, the words he ought to have been saying at his age. His parents have been told it's going to take a year before they can get a speech pathologist to help them with Adam.

Minister, I'm going to ask you again. Your government made a promise to Ontario children. Why don't you deliver on those programs? The money has been allocated. You've got 60 days left before time is up on this. What are you going to do and how are you going to spend it?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We've made a commitment; we intend to deliver on it. Unlike other governments, that money is not going to miraculously disappear into some other pot at the end of the fiscal year. Our commitments stand.

I'll forgive the honourable member if he doesn't understand that in some cases we've had to work with the communities to try and allocate some of this funding; for example, through the district health councils on the speech-language pathologists. I think if we were not to have done that, we would not be doing our job properly, because we need that community input into the making of these decisions. Our commitments stand.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, I've said this in this House before. The darnedest thing about kids is that they don't put together convoys of buses and circle Queen's Park, they don't write us, they don't phone us, they don't retain lobbyists to advance their cause in the House, so we all have a special obligation but the government especially has a special obligation to look out for Ontario kids.

Let's talk, just for a moment, about the problem of low-birthweight babies being born in Ontario. The minister will understand very well that those children are, from the outset, behind the eight ball in terms of their health care prospects for the rest of their lives. Part of your money was going to be dedicated to addressing this issue.

I'm going to ask you one more time, Minister: Either admit that you don't intend to keep the promise you made to Ontario kids -- and forget about municipalities and other agencies that are involved with this; you made the promise to them -- either admit that you're not going to deliver on that promise or promise right now and tell us how you're going to spend the $60 million that you promised would be spent between now and the end of two months from now.

Hon Mrs Ecker: We of course have a commitment to children. We believe it is a special obligation. Perhaps the honourable member believes that he needs children to -- he's saying that children don't get on the phone and therefore they're not heard. Maybe that's what it would have taken for his government. That's certainly not what it takes for our government.

One of the things we are doing is working with Ottawa and the other provinces on bringing in an integrated child benefit. There's been some remarkable progress on that particular initiative. It's an extremely important initiative. That's one thing we are doing. We are working with our municipal partners and the child care community to ensure that child care support will be there for those families that need it.

One of the improvements we've made is that it is going to be a mandatory program for those municipalities. We are working with the district health councils on the speech-language pathology support because that is very important as well.

We are going to deliver on the low-birthweight Healthy Babies initiative because we recognize that investing money at that low end, at young children, is very important. Much of the $15 million we put out earlier this month is going into --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question; third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the same minister and follows along the same lines. This government makes a lot of announcements about children but then the money doesn't appear. We know that in three of the four programs you announced last spring in the budget, no money has been allocated, but the really glaring problem is in child care. The finance minister said in the speech, "[W]e will increase the province's support for child care, bringing it to the highest level in the history of the province," and you talked about an additional $40 million for child care.

But we've called around to municipalities and we've asked child care groups if any of them have been able to access this $40 million, and what do we find? We find that you've set up a series of catch-22s. Can you explain to people across this province how it is that thousands of child care spaces have disappeared in this province over the last year, yet this $40 million you promised is still sitting there and none of it has been allocated? Can you explain that?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): If there are thousands of child care spaces disappearing across this province, it is not because of the actions of this government. One of the problems we are hoping to fix through the Who Does What initiatives is those municipalities who are not picking up on child care support. There are millions of dollars of provincial money we are prepared to invest in child care for fee subsidies and municipalities have not picked up on those subsidies. Therefore, they've had people in their communities --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): How much Jobs Ontario Training money did you cut, Janet? Come on.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What happened to the Jobs Ontario programs you cut?



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The opposition mentions the Jobs Ontario spaces. Perhaps if they had planned those Jobs Ontario spaces as a sustainable program, there wouldn't have been any challenges or difficulties when we took over as the government.

I repeat, we have child care subsidy money on the table and municipalities have not picked all of it up. That is why, as we go through the Who Does What initiative, we believe we will be able to work with those municipalities to increase those very important employment supports --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): When a government tells different stories to different people depending on who it is speaking to, it will eventually catch up to it, and it's catching up to you. I have asked you about this $40 million time and time again in this House and you've said, "and we have set out the $600 million; we've put forward proposals on how that $600 million is proposed to be spent" -- meaning your child care reform proposals -- "We are now consulting on those proposals before we make decisions." That's Hansard, October 8. Last week you told the media that the $40 million was still there if municipalities wanted to apply for it. Your Premier went a step further and he blamed municipalities for not picking up that $40 million and that's why it remained unspent; it wasn't your government's fault. You froze that.

The truth of the matter is even worse. There are up to 9,000 spaces that municipalities have cut because of downloading and cuts in transfers and the pressures on them. That means you're going to actually spend less this year than the previous government spent, not more. That's a cut to child care. Will you admit that when we see the actual spending for 1996-97, it will show fewer spaces and less money spent on child care?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We have always been very clear that up to $600 million is available in this province for child care, that the new money we set forward for child care would be spent, pending the decisions that came out of the child care review and pending the decisions that came out of the Who Does What exercise. We clearly telegraphed that in the report, that there were those two processes that were going on and that those decisions on the new money would be allocated subject to the conclusions of both those processes.

In addition to that money is the money the province has on the table for fee subsidies, which municipalities have not picked up on. That is not a new problem. I remind the honourable member that this was something her government experienced as well. That is one of the reasons we have acknowledged very clearly that child care support in this province needs work to make sure that it is there, so that there is not unused money on the table when there are lineups in some communities for fee subsidies.

Ms Lankin: Minister, you just confirmed, then, that your Premier's statements were not factual when he blamed municipalities for not picking up that $40 million and saying it wasn't your government's fault. That runs absolutely contradictory to what you just said, which was that money wouldn't be available until after Who Does What and child care reform proposals were decided on, absolutely contradictory. Admit he was wrong.

Let me take it a step further. You've also admitted that municipalities are not picking up on the money that's there. Why? They don't have the room in their budgets. As we speak, given that you've downloaded 50% of the costs coming up, given that they know their costs are going to be exploding with all the downloading, they are making decisions on their 1997 budgets right now and I'm telling you I know from calls across this province they are looking at cutting child care spaces and child care funding so they don't have the burden when you make it mandatory in 1998. What are you going to do today to make sure we do not lose dollars or any regulated child care spaces in 1997? How do you make it mandatory today, Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: First of all, I would like to be very clear: There is no disagreement, there is no inconsistent message here, and no, we are not blaming municipalities. I am simply stating what has been a fact during this government's life and during the life of the government opposite, when it was in place. One of the things we are very conscious of is the financial situation of municipalities. That's why we have removed education off the property tax.


The Speaker: Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Thank you very much. That is also one of the reasons why we have something like $2.5 billion worth of assistance for municipalities to ensure that they do not run into any difficulties in meeting their obligations.

Finally, when we move forward through the Who Does What exercise --


The Speaker: Come to order. Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The honourable member asks a very important question about how we will be proceeding with calculating child care services. I recognize that municipalities are looking at their budgets, looking at what they think will be happening in the future, but we are saying to them that the number of spaces, the current system that is in existence now, is the system upon which we are planning.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is to the minister of Municipal Affairs. I would just say to the Comsoc minister that I think we heard today the government's next spin strategy: When child care isn't available, it's the fault of municipalities; when ambulances don't work, it's the fault of municipalities; when libraries aren't open, it's the fault of municipalities.

Minister of Municipal Affairs, in response to a question from my colleague the member for Dovercourt on the megacity hearings you said, "If they want to have the committee move around Metropolitan Toronto, I certainly wouldn't have any objections to that," yet today your members on the committee voted not to move around the city of Metropolitan Toronto to hear people.

My question to you is, will you tell your colleagues on the committee that they're wrong? Will you tell your colleagues on the committee that you believe they should be moving around Metro Toronto to hear people so that all people in Metro Toronto can be heard?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I concur with the decision that was made by the standing committee this morning that the most appropriate location to hold the hearings is here. If people want to express their views, if people want to demonstrate, there's room at Queen's Park for 8,000, 10,000 maybe even 200,000 people to protest. It depends on who does the counting, mind you.

The House is in session. The committee is here. The members have to be in the House. All the Hansard material is here. The most appropriate place to carry out these hearings is right here in this place.

Mr Hampton: Another flip-flop by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. By the way, Minister, we understand why you don't want to go to the city of Scarborough or the city of North York: because we know and you know that thousands of people will be at those meetings and thousands of people will come out to tell you that you're wrong, and you don't want to hear them.

Your committee also voted essentially today to not let all the people who want to address the committee appear before it. You've already got more than 1,200 people who want to appear before the committee, yet the time you have given it would only allow fewer than 600 to be heard. With today's decision you're essentially saying to people that you really don't want to hear from them on the megacity proposal, that you don't want to hear their opposition.

Minister, in order that democracy can truly be served, in order that people can be heard, will you tell your government colleagues on that committee to reverse their decision so that all the people who want to express their opposition to your megacity proposal will indeed be heard? Will you do that?


Hon Mr Leach: To the leader of the third party, there have been more hours set aside for this committee -- 105 hours far exceeds the hours that have been set for almost any other committee that this Legislature has heard.

As for travelling around, I think it's important that people have the opportunity to be heard. I don't think it matters where they're heard. If it's here, they have access to it.

What we're interested in is ensuring that everybody has an opportunity to express their views. Now, if you wanted to line up a thousand people and they all gave the same answer, I don't think that accomplishes very much. Obviously, the supporters of the proposal could come in and make the same statement over and over again. What we want to do is make sure that the views of all the groups and all the individuals are heard, and we intend to do that.

Mr Hampton: What is very clear is that this minister is making a sham out of these hearings, and they've only just begun. He doesn't want to go outside this building to hear people, and frankly he doesn't even want to hear over half the people who have already submitted their names. So you're making a sham of it before it's even begun.

Minister, there are many, many people who are appearing. One of the people who is going to appear at 3:30 this afternoon is Jane Jacobs, who has been described as the most important thinker on urban issues in this century. She's going to be before the committee. Among other things, she's authored the book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She doesn't agree with you on your megacity concept. Would you at least go listen to her? Would you at least listen to her concerns about what you're doing with this megacity issue?

Hon Mr Leach: I know I'll be able to hear Jane Jacobs. It is on television, it is taped, and I'll make sure that I hear the comments she makes. My schedule after question period today doesn't allow me to be in personal attendance, but I assure the member opposite that I will read her comments, I will view the tape and make sure that we are aware of what she's saying.

He points out a couple of people who are opposed. He should have been there this morning to hear Alan Tonks say that he's in favour of amalgamation.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is to the Minister of Health. On Friday, you had some media conferences in places like Mississauga and Shelburne and you tried to make people believe that somehow hospital patients were getting more money. At the very same time, while you were out there standing with your signs and your props, your ministry was sending a different message, a depressing message, to hospital administrators across the province telling them that you are cutting $435 million.

Minister, you are taking away $70 million more than last year. It's the largest cut to take place to hospitals in this province ever, seven times as much as you pretend to be putting back in. The cynical misdirection that you're doing in this announcement has never been seen before.

When you look at sending 84% of that money to Tory ridings, when you look at trying to contrast that when last year you had $25 million in so-called reinvestment that came out of the base funding, the same money for hospitals, Minister, tell us today that you'll stop deceiving the public, that the $435 million that has been hacked and slashed from front-line services -- it's coming out next year -- tell us what is your precise allocation --

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

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I would like to know where the deception is in terms of this government announcing over the past year since it's been in office an investment of $25 million in dialysis; an investment of some $18 million in cardiac care; an investment in restructuring of over $100 million today and many, many more dollars coming; an investment in cancer care of some $42 million; an investment in the Trillium drug program; an investment in long-term care in our communities in the province of Ontario of $170 million. And on and on it goes in addition to the announcements I made last Friday in Mississauga, in Shelburne and in Owen Sound.

These investments total over $600 million in health care by this government. This government has put health care as its number one priority.

Mr Kennedy: The only number one priority for this government is to privatize health care, is to bring in a two-tier system. There has been almost a billion dollars cut, and there's another 7% going to be cut next year, over $500 million. This government is introducing a system of chaos.

The Ontario Hospital Association, which heretofore has supported some of the restructuring, has said what you're doing makes no sense. It makes no sense, these random announcements that have no connection to any kind of plan. It makes no sense to Eva either. Eva is a 92-year-old woman who spent seven days, courtesy of your cutbacks, in the Queensway emergency department waiting for a bed. We want to hear what you're going to say to Windsor, where they've found out that anomalies there mean they're getting 18% less funding per capita than anywhere else in the province, showing again that you don't have a plan. There is no way that people can believe you're looking after the interests of the people in Lincoln, the people in Grimsby, the people who have to face hospital closures because of these arbitrary cutbacks you're doing.

Will you do one simple thing? Will you hold back on your cuts to hospitals until at least your restructuring commission starts to make public plans for the entire province? What you're creating is an unholy mess right now and --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon David Johnson: In an era where, as we all know, the federal Liberal government has cut back $2 billion in health care and social care to the province of Ontario, this government has a vision to put the patient first in the province. I might say that in terms of addressing our health care needs, Ontario is a little bit behind. In Winnipeg, for example, they've had a number of bed closures, yet there's increased access to surgery and more patients receiving care. We intend to have better services in Ontario and more people receiving care in the province of Ontario.

The member opposite indicates that I was in Shelburne. In Shelburne, two hospitals have got together and they now have one administration. Formerly they had two administrations and the money went to pay each administration. Now they have saved money. Hospitals across the province are looking at areas in which to save money which will not affect the patient. I endorse this, and now we are reinvesting the money back to what --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question; the member for Algoma.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training, who this morning had only his second meeting with the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation in two years. Mr Manners, the president of OSSTF, asked a question of the minister, very straightforward: Will your government fund all necessary classroom expenditures and how much will you guarantee to invest in Ontario classrooms? It's a question that has been raised in this House a number of times.

The minister has an agenda, and that is to cut money going to Ontario classrooms as he amalgamates school boards. The KPMG study commissioned by the government to review cost savings said that the ministry is assuming that the costs of amalgamated boards will be managed without additional funding. So let me put Mr Manners's question in another way: Is it your government's intention that the new expenditure formula you are going to introduce for school boards will result in an overall reduction --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Algoma, thank you. Minister?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Algoma for the question. Yes, in fact I did have a chance to meet with Mr Manners this morning. Somewhat to my surprise he arrived this morning, but I was able to take some time off from a meeting I was engaged in at the time to have a discussion with him. We have a regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow afternoon to discussion some very important issues, because I think it is important that those of us in the education community, with the OSSTF and other organizations, talk about some of the critical issues before us, including finding a way to have better methods of resolving bargaining issues than the method we had to use here on Thursday. We have a regularly scheduled meeting, and I'll be pleased to attend that meeting.

I asked Mr Manners this morning if we could engage in a dialogue, if we could talk about some of the critical issues before education as we move to fulfil our agenda, and that is to have an equal opportunity for a high-quality education for every student in the province and to lift student achievement from the level of mediocrity it's at now to something that's higher than the average in Canada.


Specifically to the question, we have made a commitment, and we intend to be held to account for that, that we will provide the funding for --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

Mr Wildman: In the KPMG review it says that the government will be able to take $10 million out of classroom supplies and equipment. That should be great comfort to parents like Diana McGill of Cobourg. Her son is in grade 8, where there is a table used by a number of students because there aren't enough desks. She also says there aren't enough textbooks in the classroom, so the students have to share the books and they can't take them home.

KPMG also suggested you could cut $1.3 million from instruction supports, that is, the people who provide teachers' aides for students with special needs. The Northumberland and Clarington Board of Education has increased the teacher-pupil ratio for education assistance from 1 to 20 to 1 to 27.

Minister, you keep saying you want to take Ontario's students to the head of the class. Exactly how do you intend to get them there when you're cutting the ground out from beneath them?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Yes, the consultant's report on our changes to the governance structure indicated that we can expect a saving of about $150 million from a reduced bureaucracy, money that will be available either to spend in the classroom or return to the taxpayers, as the case may be.

In direct answer to your question, yes, there were some small amounts identified in terms of collaboratively purchasing supplies for the classroom; some savings that might happen because we have coterminous boards under our new model. But the bulk of the savings identified by the consultant was from reducing the number of politicians in our education system from 1,900 to 700. Once again, that was the bulk of the savings. Those costs can now be directed to the classroom, can now be directed to achieving better results by each individual student across the province. That is the agenda of this government, that is what we're doing and that is why we are changing our system of education.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation concerning a national highway system.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Niagara South can ask any minister he likes. I appreciate the fact you want to give him direction and I'm surprised he doesn't take it too, but I will let him ask the minister.

Mr Hudak: As the minister is well aware, an efficient and well-maintained national highway system is very important for the economic wellbeing of this province as well as the rest of the nation. Not too long ago I brought forth a private member's resolution, with the support of this House, to ask the government for a fair commitment to a national highway program.

We heard here today how on a typical day in this province vehicles travel 200 million kilometres on Ontario's highways, and that's equivalent to about 5,000 trips around the world. In Niagara that means the QEW, the 400 series highways and indeed Highway 3 through Port Colborne are in need of some work.

Can the minister tell the House what initiatives his ministry has taken to ensure a fair share of any federal funding for highways, including a national highways policy?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I'd like to thank the member for Niagara South for the question and also for his ongoing support of this issue. It has been greatly appreciated.

On October 7, 1996, the member for Niagara South and I appeared before the House of Commons standing committee on transportation, where my submission recommended that the federal government should establish a national highway investment program to support a national highway system, which is very critical for further growth of Canada's trade and tourism.

I strongly urged the federal government that Ontario should receive a fair share of such a program. Since our major highways are among the most heavily used for trade and tourism, our motorists contribute over $2 billion a year to the federal coffers. For some reason the federal government refuses to give us one dollar -- your pals.

Mr Hudak: I know that the minister has campaigned very strongly for a federal share of the national highway program. I've been at his side on many occasions. The United States has an excellent national highway program. Mexico, I think, is investing $7 billion or $8 billion in its own national highway program.

Ontario needs the federal government to finally recognize the long-term economic benefits of a national highways policy. Minister, can you inform the House today of any federal reaction to our appearance before the standing committee in October?

Hon Mr Palladini: I'm pleased to inform the House, and I think the members of the opposition would like to hear, that at least we are making some headway. We have received a discussion paper from the standing committee as of December 17, 1996. The paper is entitled "The Renewal of the National Highway System" and clearly indicates a need for federal funding. The discussion paper also outlines a number of possible considerations for funding our national highway system.

Furthermore, a round table discussion for stakeholders has taken place in Ottawa and we are going to know what kind of role public-private partnerships can undertake in funding highway infrastructure of national importance. The results of that discussion will be shared with ministry staff and I look forward to sharing it with this House.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, you're rather given these days to using fine words about fair funding for every student, but I guess I'm having a little bit of difficulty understanding what is fair about funding that deprives students of access to junior kindergarten in some 25 boards across the province; and I'm having some difficulty seeing what's fair about funding that leaves 40 students in a classroom or forces teachers to give students textbooks that are held together by elastics or leaves three kids to a seat in a school bus; and I certainly don't see what's fair about funding that takes away the support that special education kids need to be able to learn.

Those are just some of the realities that have been forced on our classrooms because of the cuts you made to education last year. Do you agree that fair funding starts with a commitment to stop any further cuts?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member opposite for the question. Let me be very clear about this. Class sizes that are negotiated in collective agreements that increase class size; special education reductions of any kind, particularly when there have not been any special education grant reductions in this province; junior kindergarten programs which the province funds the same way it funds other school board programs: Some of these local decisions that have been made over the course of the last year, some of them made in response to the social contract, are the very reason this government has moved decisively to change our governance structure for education and to make sure our funding formula is fair for each and every student.

That's why this government has taken the responsibility for funding education off the property taxes and taken that burden on as a provincial government. We believe we must quantify the costs of a high-quality education and meet that cost in every individual circumstance right across the province.

Mrs McLeod: What concerns everybody who cares about education, about what happens to kids in a classroom, is that the only reason this government has taken education off the property tax is to get control of education funding so it can find big money to pay for the tax cut. That's what's worrying everybody. We know we have a Minister of Education who has repeatedly said that he thinks we already spend too much on education, who's repeatedly denied what the impact is on kids in classrooms of the cuts that have already been made.

We know you want to help out the Premier and the Minister of Finance by finding another $1 billion to help pay for that tax cut, but surely now that you are going to take responsibility for all the program cuts that have to be made, you will understand that funding isn't fair for any student if it's going to mean larger classes and fewer resources and less support for kids.

Minister, if you really believe in fair funding for students, will you say loudly and clearly that there will be no further cuts? Will you make a commitment today that the spending, the funding for education will remain at least at the level it is today?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Let's clarify this for the member opposite, and perhaps once and for all the member opposite can get the message on this file. First of all, we are very interested in having funds that impact the quality of education for children. We believe that $150 million less spent on bureaucracy and trustees might help that.

Also, a note about your earlier statement about who cares about the classroom, about kids in the classroom: We have a system of education in Ontario right now that was left to us by your government and by the previous government where the students of Ontario -- I think the member should listen to this -- are achieving at less than the average rate in terms of their scholastic abilities of other students in other provinces who have already taken on these changes.

That's why this government is moving, and moving quickly, to make the changes so that we can improve student achievement, so we can have meaningful standards in the classroom. My only regret is that your government hadn't moved to make education better for the kids in the classroom some years ago so we wouldn't be behind the other provinces, so we in fact could be ahead of them.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. On Friday I attended a news conference with environmentalists as well as city councillor Peter Tabuns and Metro councillor Jack Layton. They believe your government is breaking the law because the megacity bill has not been placed on the environmental registry under the Environmental Bill of Rights. Even worse, there will be no environmental assessment of the impact there will be on our natural and social environment as this government rams its megacity legislation through in a matter of weeks.

There is real concern that a lot of the innovative municipal environmental programs will go down the tubes. Why aren't you speaking up on this issue? Can't you at least enforce the law and try to prevent your government's mega-destruction of our environment?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): There are several issues involved in the question and I want to thank the member for the opportunity to clarify them.

The environmental assessment process relates to undertakings. It does not relate to legislation which is in front of this Legislature. I think it would be highly unusual for us as legislators to say that some other group had a greater power than the members who are elected to this body to decide on whether a law should be passed or not be passed.

The second issue relates to the environmental registry. With regard to that particular legislation, it is the choice of each minister as to whether they put their particular piece of legislation on that registry or they do not. The decision by the minister is related to what is the content of that bill. Bills which are primarily administrative or which deal with tax matters or financial matters are not normally put on the particular registry. I would characterize this bill as being that. Notwithstanding that, this would be a choice of the Minister of Housing.

Ms Churley: Minister, the Environmental Commissioner has already slapped the wrists of your government at least twice now. I don't know if she said you'd actually broken the law, but even the auditor has complained that too many things are being done behind closed doors in secret. You've already been warned about this, and here you go again perhaps breaking the law. At the very least, this should have been posted on the registry.

Once again you are not standing up for the environment. You are not paying any attention to the massive negative impacts that this massive megacity bill could have on the environment. Your ministry has cut over 750 jobs, has laid off a third or more of the staff, with we believe more to come. Why won't you at least, instead of standing up and defending your Premier and the other ministers again today, stand up for the environment and say that you insist on this going on the registry and that some kind of environmental assessment happen? Because it will affect the environment.

Hon Mr Sterling: It's nice to stand here and grandstand about standing up for the environment and that you're a great protector of the environment, but I must follow the laws of the country and, as they are written, the laws of this particular province. The law relating to the environmental registry requires ministers to follow that law in spirit with that law.

I have consulted with my legal representatives and legal counsel in my particular ministry, and they said it would be quite wrong to put this particular piece of legislation on the environmental registry. But as I said, this was a choice of the Minister of Housing and I'll refer the question to him to allow him to make his particular defence.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You can't answer a question and then refer it. You either answer it or refer it; you can't do both. New question.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): My question is for the Solicitor General.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): How are your hospitals in Cambridge doing?

Mr Martiniuk: Very nicely, thank you.

As you know, I represent the people of Cambridge. Great numbers of our residents commute at least 100 kilometres every day using the 401. I want to ask the minister if he's aware of the latest CRASH survey which asked 2,000 actual commuters in my area what they thought was the best way to make highways safer.

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I just happen to have a copy in my hand. This is Commuters to Reduce Accidents for Safer Highways, a 1996 question-and-answer survey of 1,869 Highway 401 commuters in the Cambridge OPP detachment area. This was put together with the good work of the folks in the community in that area and the OPP.

The survey found that 89% of the commuters questioned indicated that photo-radar did not improve the safety of their commute. They had two suggestions on ways to increase safety on our highways: Number one was to increase police visibility on the highways and number two was to target aggressive drivers, two policies which this government is actively pursuing.

Mr Martiniuk: I'm pleased to hear the government is listening to the concerns and suggestions of commuters about ways of improving safety.

I'd like to ask the Solicitor General what actions are being taken to increase police visibility and target aggressive driving.

Hon Mr Runciman: As an observer of this government would know, road safety is a top priority, and we've undertaken a number of initiatives with respect to highway safety in the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the Minister of Transportation.

The OPP has established eight Highway Ranger units throughout the province, 116 full-time Rangers whose job effectively is to target aggressive drivers. In the very near future we will be starting up another Highway Ranger unit in the northeastern region of the province.

We announced a number of months ago the All Hands on Deck initiative, where we have experienced OPP officers, regardless of rank, out on the highways in the greater Toronto region during peak traffic hours, thereby increasing visibility of police cruisers on our highways.

The proof is in the pudding: There were 13% fewer highway traffic deaths in the first half of 1996. Clearly it is working and we're confident it will continue to do so.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to announce, if the members would recognize in the members' gallery is a gentleman who was first elected to this House in a 1948 by-election, Mr Al Johnston, who represented Parry Sound for 24 years. Welcome.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It has to do with the report of the Honourable Gregory Evans, the Integrity Commissioner, dated today.

The commissioner investigated the comments the minister made and said that in investigating the comments, he was drawn to what he calls the fourth principle in the preamble to the act that states, "Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest public scrutiny."

The Integrity Commissioner then went on to review the remarks that you made and has analysed them relative to that preamble, "Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest public scrutiny."

The commissioner then goes on to say about the comments you made, Minister, "In my opinion, such comments were inappropriate, and do not reflect a proper appreciation of the preamble," in other words, that you did not act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest public scrutiny.

Are you prepared today to apologize and to admit that you made a mistake?


Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I happen to have a copy of the commissioner's findings here and I'd like to read it into the record:


"On the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the Honourable Allan Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, did not violate section 4 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, either personally or as a result of the activities of his executive assistant, John Matheson, for which he accepted responsibility."

I think that answers the question.

Mr Phillips: That actually doesn't answer the question at all, Minister. It is clear that the Integrity Commissioner looked at the comments you made. He deliberately reviewed the preamble, "Members are expected to act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest scrutiny"; he reviewed the remarks that you made about your organization phoning a law firm and complaining about a case that they were proceeding with against the government; and he said, "Any such communication, while it may seem innocuous to the minister, may be viewed otherwise by the recipient of the inquiry." This is an extremely important charge he makes against you, a bully charge.

The Integrity Commissioner says, "In my opinion, such comments were inappropriate and do not reflect a proper appreciation of the preamble." He is saying directly to you that you did not act with integrity and impartiality that will bear the closest public scrutiny. I give you another chance today. Are you prepared today now to apologize and admit you were wrong and the Integrity Commissioner was right?

Hon Mr Leach: Obviously the member opposite didn't hear me when I read him the findings of the report, the conclusions. That means the end. This is what he rules. Perhaps you might understand that. The findings are:

"On the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the Honourable Allan Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, did not" -- that's n-o-t -- "violate section 4 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, either personally or as a result of the activities of his executive assistant...for which he accepted responsibility."

I don't know what could be more clear than that. I just can't understand where that member is coming from. Read the conclusion.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question to the same minister on the same issue. I have the report in front of me as well and I would say to the minister that his arrogance seems to know no bounds. If you had read all of the text before you -- the commissioner works under certain guidelines. At the end of the day, he said that you did not contravene the Members' Integrity Act. What he does say is that certain comments of yours were inappropriate. He goes on to say in another place that certain actions prevented the parents in my riding from getting the information they wanted.

This is a very serious comment from the commissioner. You have been given the opportunity today to apologize. I would ask you again to do so. I am sure that the members of my community who were involved in this would like to hear that apology from you.

Hon Mr Leach: Maybe that member was too far away to have heard my response, but to pick bits and pieces out of a report, to me, is totally inappropriate. What the commissioner, the Honourable Gregory Evans, clearly states in his findings is, "On the evidence before me, I am satisfied that" there was no breach. I'm prepared to put it in again; I'll put it in again when the supplementary comes.

Ms Churley: Let me read something into the record here from the same report:

"The reasonable inference to be drawn from the above comments is that is not inappropriate for a minister of the crown or his political staff to communicate with the law firm which is in the process of litigating with his ministry, to ascertain whether that law firm is `serious' about proceeding with the litigation. Any such communication, while it may seem innocuous to the minister, may be viewed otherwise by the recipient of the inquiry.

"In my opinion, such comments were inappropriate and do not reflect a proper appreciation of the preamble."

That is pretty clear. I ask you again, could you apologize to my constituent?

Hon Mr Leach: Again in response, just to make sure that it's there in response to every one of these questions, I am going to repeat the findings of the commissioner, the Honourable Gregory T. Evans, dated at the city of Toronto in the province of Ontario on this third day of February, 1997:

"Finding: On the evidence before me I am satisfied that the Honourable Allan Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, did not violate section 4 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, either personally or as a result of the activities of his executive assistant, John Matheson, for which he accepted responsibility."



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I move that Mr Guzzo and Mr Bartolucci exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business and that the House will commence at 11 am on Thursday, February 6, to discuss ballot item 61 only.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We'll just wait for a minute. There's too much noise.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here from a number of people from the city of Timmins or Porcupine that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Harris government has introduced the workfare program; and

"Whereas the unemployment rate in the province of Ontario increased by 57,000 in the month of September, giving a clear indication that there is a need for job creation; and

"Whereas the majority of welfare recipients do want to work and there is no evidence that workfare will create permanent jobs; and

"Whereas we believe workfare will eliminate permanent jobs;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario abandon its workfare program and concentrate on job creation."

I affix my name to that petition.


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

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservative Party committed in the Common Sense Revolution to fully protect health care spending; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Conservatives have managed to fully protect health care spending, even as the federal Liberal government has slashed health and social transfer payments to Ontario by $2.1 billion; and

"Whereas notwithstanding the reduction of health care by the federal Liberal government, the Ontario Conservative government has pledged not to let annual health care spending fall below the $17.4-billion level it was when they took office; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government of Ontario has added another $300 million to the health care budget, increasing it to $17.7 billion;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Parliament of Ontario to demand the federal Liberal government fulfil its responsibility under the Canada Health Act to the patients and taxpayers of Ontario by adequately funding health care."

I support this petition and I have so signed it.



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

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

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

"Whereas we are concerned and we don't want to be burned by Bill 84;

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

Of course I affix my name to it as I agree with it.


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

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is attacking workers' compensation benefits and the rights of injured workers;

"Whereas Tory plans include taking $15 billion from injured workers and giving $6 billion to employers, including the government's rich corporate friends;

"Whereas Cam Jackson, the former Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for gutting the WCB, refused to hold public hearings, choosing to meet secretly with business and insurance industry representatives instead;

"Whereas the WCB has about $7.6 billion in assets and its unfunded liability has been steadily shrinking;

"Whereas the Jackson report and WCB legislation are just part of a coordinated attack on occupational health and safety protections for working families in Ontario;

"Whereas Tory plans also include abolition of the internationally respected Occupational Disease Panel;

"Whereas the government needs to hear the message that taking money from injured workers and lowering incentives for employers to make workplaces safer is not the way to make Ontario a better place to live;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold full, province-wide public hearings on WCB reform; to listen to the voice of the people calling for improved occupational health and safety protection; and to tell the Tory government to call off its attack on the dignity and standard of living of injured workers and their families."

This is signed by residents in the riding of Sudbury East. I agree with them and I have affixed my signature to it as well.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here from Ms Pat Norton of 192 Sutherland Drive addressed to the Ontario Legislature and it reads as follows:

"I request as a taxpayer and consumer that I be confirmed in the right to make and act upon my own choices with respect to medical and health therapies offered by all regulated health care professionals, particularly physicians, as long as I am not being harmed or at risk of appreciable harm.

"I request that the Legislature enact a choice in health care act to ensure that consumers and taxpayers will have meaningful choices and access to safe, effective and cost-effective health care that meets their needs and that this legislation be modelled upon acts of this type already in place in such jurisdictions as the province of Alberta and the states of Alaska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. In particular, this act should establish the authority of true peer review and the standard of patient outcome.

"I further request that the government of Ontario take immediate action to terminate the pattern of abusive actions of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario which, contrary to their mandate and the public interest, attack and punish doctors simply because they employ complementary medical therapies. This the college does to the detriment of medicine, the welfare of patients, the rights of consumers, the interests of taxpayers and my personal needs."


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a very short but important petition to place before the Legislature of Ontario which reads:

"We, the citizens of Elliott Lake and the North Shore, are gravely concerned about the recommendation that the Oaks detox service may close. Please reconsider your decision and allow this vital service to continue."

This is signed by over 500 of my constituents. I have affixed my signature and I too hope the government will reconsider this.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a petition which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is attacking workers' compensation benefits and the rights of injured workers;

"Whereas Tory plans include taking $15 billion from injured workers and giving $6 billion to employers, including the government's rich corporate friends; and

"Whereas Cam Jackson, the former Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for gutting the WCB, refused to hold public hearings, choosing to meet secretly with business and insurance industry representatives; and

"Whereas the WCB has about $7.6 billion in assets and its unfunded liability has been steadily shrinking; and

"Whereas the Jackson report and WCB legislation are just part of a coordinated attack on occupational health and safety protections for working families in Ontario; and" --


Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, I notice Mr Jackson is in the House and heckling as I'm trying to read this petition. I don't know why he would be. Everything in here is true.

"Whereas Tory plans also include abolition of the internationally respected Occupational Disease Panel"; -- let him deny that if he will -- "and

"Whereas the government needs to hear the message that taking money from injured workers and lowering incentives for employers to make workplaces safer is not the way to make Ontario a better place to live"; -- and Cam Jackson should know that --

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold full, province-wide public hearings on WCB reform; to listen to the voice of the people calling for improved occupational health and safety protection; and to tell the Tory government to call off its attack dogs on the dignity and standard of living of injured workers and their families."

I support this petition and I have signed my name to it. I hope the message will get through to Mr Cam Jackson.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Petitions are not debates.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here with a number of signatures on it, including that of Mr Les Anthony, otherwise known as Mr East York. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, residents of East York, are in favour of the borough of East York remaining as a separate municipality."


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition addressed to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas over 70% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear hunting activities."

This petition has been signed by 498 Ontarians and I have affixed my name.


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

"To the government of Ontario:

"Since the Hotel Dieu Hospital has played and continues to play a vital role in the delivery of health care services in St Catharines and the Niagara region; and

"Since Hotel Dieu has modified its role over the years as part of a rationalization of medical services in St Catharines and has assumed the position of a regional health care facility in such areas as kidney dialysis and oncology; and

"Since the Niagara region is experiencing underfunding in the health care field and requires more medical services and not fewer services; and

"Since Niagara residents are required at present to travel outside of the Niagara region to receive many specialized services that could be provided in city hospitals and thereby not require local patients to make difficult and inconvenient trips down our highways to other centres; and

"Since the Niagara hospital restructuring committee used a Toronto consulting firm to develop its recommendations and was forced to take into account a cut of $44 million in funding for Niagara hospitals when carrying out its study; and

"Since the population of the Niagara region is older than that in most areas of the province and more elderly people tend to require more hospital services;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario keep the election commitment of Premier Mike Harris not to close hospitals in our province, and we call upon the Premier to reject any recommendation to close Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines."

I affix my signature to this petition as I'm in full agreement with its contents.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a petition to the Legislature and to the Honourable Robert Runciman.

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

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

"Physical, emotional and sexual abuse is often transmitted from one generation to the next, with tremendous costs;

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

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

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

"A therapeutic community cannot exist in a superprison;

"Save victims and money by keeping what works open."

That's signed by a number of people who recognize the important service OCI provides; I support it.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have an important petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and to the Attorney General of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned, all residents of Ontario, do respectfully request that:

"(1) convicted sex offenders not be released on bail pending an appeal;

"(2) community members be notified prior to the release of a sex offender into the community; and

"(3) communities be given the opportunity to have input into the conditions of bail, probation or parole when a sex offender is being released into the community."

This is an important issue in Algoma-Manitoulin and it's signed by over 500 people.



Mrs Mushinski moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 114, An Act to reduce red tape by amending the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture Act and repealing the Parks Assistance Act / Projet de loi 114, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant la Loi sur le ministère des Affaires civiques et culturelles et en abrogeant la Loi sur l'aide destinée à la création de parcs.

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


The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 115, An Act to reduce red tape by amending or repealing certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance and by making complementary amendments to other statutes / Projet de loi 115, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Finances et en apportant des modifications complémentaires à d'autres lois.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): 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. I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Villeneuve, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 116, An Act to reduce red tape by amending or repealing certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs / Projet de loi 116, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): 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.

I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 117, An Act to reduce red tape by amending certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, by repealing the Costs of Distress Act and by making complementary amendments to the Mortgages Act / Projet de loi 117, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère de la Consommation et du Commerce, en abrogeant la Loi sur les frais de saisie-gagerie et en apportant des modifications complémentaires à la Loi sur les hypothèques.

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

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr David Johnson, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 118, An Act to reduce red tape by amending certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Health, by amending other statutes in relation to statutes administered by the Ministry of Health and by enacting the Ministry of Health Appeal and Review Boards Act, 1997 / Projet de loi 118, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère de la Santé et d'autres lois relativement à celles dont l'application relève de ce même ministère et en édictant la Loi de 1997 sur les commissions d'appel et de révision du ministère de la Santé.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): 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.

I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Hodgson, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 119, An Act to reduce red tape by amending or repealing certain statutes administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources / Projet de loi 119, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Richesses naturelles.

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

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Hodgson, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 120, An Act to reduce red tape by amending the Mining Act / Projet de loi 120, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives au ministère du Développement du Nord et des Mines.

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

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.



Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Sterling, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 121, An Act to reduce red tape by amending the Ontario Energy Board Act and repealing the Ontario Energy Corporation Act / Projet de loi 121, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant la Loi sur la Commission de l'énergie de l'Ontario et en abrogeant la Loi sur la Société de l'énergie de l'Ontario.

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

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


Mr Tsubouchi, on behalf of Mr Harnick, moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 122, An Act to reduce red tape by amending certain statutes administered by or affecting the Ministry of the Attorney General or the Ministry of the Solicitor General and by making complementary amendments to other statutes / Projet de loi 122, Loi visant à réduire les formalités administratives en modifiant certaines lois dont l'application relève du ministère du Procureur général ou du ministère du Solliciteur général, ou qui le concerne, et en apportant des modifications complémentaires à d'autres lois.

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

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In accordance with the standing orders, when the first bill was being presented for my colleague the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, you had asked for the vote and the member for Algoma indicated that the bill should be renamed to eliminate the entire ministry. I wondered if that was a motion that would be in order and that you recognized it or not.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I was just pointing out that if the government were being honest about what it was doing, it would be renaming the bill "the elimination of the ministry."

The Deputy Speaker: If you've listened attentively, there was no motion made. It was just introduction of bills.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I move opposition day motion number 2:

Whereas the Harris government is dumping over $6.4 billion in service costs to municipalities, including $2.7 billion in social assistance, $1.6 billion in public health and seniors long-term health care and $270 million in child care services; and

Whereas the transfer of these services will add over $1 billion in net new costs to property taxpayers; and

Whereas moving social services to the property tax base contradicts past municipal reform reviews including the 1991 Committee on the Provincial-Municipal Financial Relationship, the Ontario Fair Tax Commission, and the 1996 GTA task force report; and

Whereas Duncan Sinclair, the chair of the government's Health Services Restructuring Commission, said that dumping seniors' long-term health care on municipalities was "stupid" and "180 degrees out of phase with the (prevailing) philosophy"; and

Whereas the government's own Who Does What panel unanimously recommended against moving social services to the property tax base; and

Whereas the Metro board of trade and the GTA mayors oppose the government's plans to move social services to the property tax base because it will increase property taxes; and

Whereas the United Way and other service agencies say the government's reforms will reduce services or raise property taxes; and

Whereas the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has called the government scheme a "shell game" which will result in higher property taxes; and

Whereas David Crombie has said "The only way they (municipalities) can deal with any increasing (welfare) caseload or any long-term care is to either cut services or raise taxes. Which either means you're going to hit the poor or drive out business"; and

Whereas property taxes are considered one of the most regressive forms of taxation;

Therefore this House calls on the government to reconsider its decision to transfer over $6.4 billion in service costs to municipalities and work on developing alternatives which: (1) do not add extra costs to municipalities; (2) follow the principles of disentanglement in moving hard service costs to municipalities and soft service costs to the province; and (3) which are developed in true consultation with municipalities and agencies to ensure that local property taxes do not increase as the result of provincial downloading.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr McGuinty has moved official opposition day number 2.

Mr McGuinty: I've been looking forward for some time now to be able to address in a substantive way in this House some of the concerns that have been raised through the mega-week announcements. Clearly mega-week in Ontario has come and gone and tremendous change is about to be made to the way Ontario works, unprecedented change. The question of course that people are now asking is, is this change for the better or is it change for the worse?

No one could deny that there is a tremendous appetite for change today in Ontario. That's one of the things that I quickly learned as a result of travelling the province together with some of my other leadership campaign colleagues. If there was one thing that people impressed upon us, it was that there is a tremendous desire for change.

If you're somewhat confused by the Harris changes found within the mega-week announcements, I can tell you that you are not alone. The flurry of announcements was deliberately designed to confuse. I have described the television advertising campaign as the military equivalent of saturation bombing. We are being bombarded on a regular basis with television advertising which is going to cost us, taxpayers in Ontario, between some $2 million and $3 million to tell us that all is well in Camelot and things are only going to get better.

You've got the combination of the flurry, the pace at which that change was introduced in this House and the television ads in addition to that, and it makes it very, very difficult to keep your eye on the ball. Each of the very complex announcements could have been made a few weeks apart, giving people a chance to study them, digest them and argue the pros and cons publicly before they were finalized. But instead, as in too many other cases, the Harris government went too far, too fast.

When someone puts up a smokescreen designed to confuse us, it's natural to ask, "What are they trying to hide?" In this case, while the smokescreen is complex, the consequences are very, very clear. I want to tell Ontarians that it's important to keep their eye on the following ball: We are going to see higher property taxes, we are going to have fewer services and we're going to have more user fees. Those are going to be the three fundamental consequences of the mega-week announcements, notwithstanding what the government would have us believe.

The government won't tell you what impact these changes are going to have on municipalities or on taxpayers. Either they won't release that information or, even worse, they don't know what's going to happen once their mega-dumping is complete. Speaker, you will know that I have on several occasions in this House asked the Premier and the Minister of Finance for them to release the secret studies that they have done which would detail in a comprehensive way the impact that the mega-week announcements are going to have on each of Ontario's communities.

The government has that information but it is continuing to refuse to provide us with that information. The only logical conclusion that we can draw from that is that that information does not support the government's case and in fact supports ours, which again is simply that we are going to have higher property taxes, fewer services and more user fees.


In essence, what mega-week boiled down to is this: The province took over one area of funding -- education -- from municipalities. I might say that there has been a general consensus that that would be a good thing to do, but not, and I want to repeat this, but not at all costs. Taking education off the property taxes is a good thing because property taxes are a regressive system of taxation and there are people who are paying property taxes right now who cannot afford to do so for something like education.

The province took over education. On the face of it, it appeared to be good, but in return -- this is very important to understand -- it dumped a slew of new areas on the property taxpayers, including public health services, welfare, child care, long-term care for seniors, libraries, public housing, public transit and highways. Each of these new areas will now have to be paid for out of property taxes.

The Premier would have us believe that this is an even swap, but in reality, the province has taken over an area, education, that is easily predicted and quite readily controlled. In turn, it has dumped on to the property taxpayer areas that are either subject to wild swings, like welfare, or areas where there will be incredible growth down the road, such as long-term care for Ontario's seniors. It's sort of like Mike Harris saying: "Look, we're going to swap cars. You give me your 1997 model and I'll give you my 1982 model and we'll call it even." Guess who's going to have the higher maintenance costs.

Let's look at some of the key mega-announcements. It has long been argued that it would be more fair to pay for education out of the income tax system instead of through property taxes, as I just indicated. Unlike income tax, property tax is regressive because it doesn't take into account our ability to pay. Retired seniors on fixed incomes are often victims of a regressive property tax.

But Mike Harris is doing much more with education than just taking its cost off our property taxes. The Premier is taking control of education, and the elimination of so many school boards and trustees will make it easier to exercise his will as opposed to the will of school board trustees and parents.

Minister of Education John Snobelen claims he can take $1 billion more out of education, and that is $1 billion on top of the $400 million he has already squeezed out of education. Meanwhile, a host of social services will now have to be paid for by the property taxpayer. One key area is welfare, and as we all know, welfare costs can rise dramatically during a recession when there are mass layoffs. In the last recession welfare costs soared by over $1 billion.

Furthermore, we know that the single fastest-growing portion of our population is seniors. The question we've got to ask is, how will municipalities be able to pay for more long-term care for seniors, whether at home or in seniors' residences? There is clearly no magic solution to this. Taxpayers are going to have to pay for it through higher property taxes, cuts to other services, more user fees or a combination of all three.

The Minister of Finance has been given to telling us that taxpayers are somehow going to receive a 10% cut in their property taxes as a result of these changes. But he can't back that up with any credible numbers and he doesn't seem to have a clue about how taxes are going to break down on a regional basis.

Since the Conservatives will not provide this information, we have launched a fact-finding mission to determine exactly what is going to happen when Mike Harris and Al Leach have finished wreaking havoc on taxpayers throughout this province. I can tell you that we have already had meetings in Toronto, Hamilton, Sudbury and Windsor. Let me tell you about just some of what we've been hearing.

In Toronto, Paul Pagnuelo of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told us, "The government of Ontario is playing a shell game with taxpayers." That is a direct quote. The federation believes, as I do, that the mega-week announcements will result in increased business and residential taxes.

In Windsor, we heard from ambulance paramedics who are worried that dumping ambulance service on to municipalities could result in poor response times or privatization. I can tell you that when we heard from those ambulance attendants last Friday, one of the things that they were so proud of is that they had met those conditions which they were supposed to meet in order to obtain paramedic training.

There are paramedics in Hamilton, in Oshawa, in Toronto and in Ottawa, and they may very well be in other communities, but the concern that the ambulance attendants have today in Windsor is that the city of Windsor will not be able to afford to pay for their training as paramedics. What that means is that if you have a heart attack in Hamilton, Toronto, Oshawa or Ottawa, there is a better likelihood that you'd be able to get the necessary assistance on the ground, where you drop, in those centres than you would in Windsor. What we're talking about is two different levels of health care in Ontario communities, and clearly that is not acceptable.

Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Chair Terry Cooke told us that he thought putting welfare and other social services on to municipalities was unfair and that he didn't think that the Harris government fully appreciated what the regional impact of all those changes would be.

In Sudbury, regional officials expect increased costs of $105 million. We heard about another study which said Sudburians should expect a $1,600 tax increase per household. This from Mike the Taxfighter, the man who staked his claims on the fact that he was going to reduce taxes in Ontario. Yet we are quickly learning, as mega-week begins to shake out for us, that property taxpayers are going to experience dramatic tax hikes.

I'm convinced that Mike Harris and Al Leach have made a critical error in thinking that people will accept these changes on faith and not ask questions. As we've seen, people want to know if their property taxes are going to go up and whether they're going to get the services they need where and when they need them. If the Tories can't answer these questions and back them up with solid facts, they had better return to the drawing board now and come up with a better solution fast before they do any more damage.

I know that this weekend the Globe and Mail had an editorial suggesting, as have many, many others now, that the Tories go back to the drawing board with respect to their mega-week proposals. They have been joined by the Financial Post, the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I also read during the course of the weekend that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario has expressed some very, very serious concerns about the impact of downloading social services on to Ontario municipalities. It has taken some time, but we are delighted to receive that word from as eminently reliable a source as the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects about mega-week is that these announced changes are going to make Ontario less caring and compassionate. If you look at the way Ontario has developed over the past -- since the 1930s, in effect -- you will understand that we have over those years taken on a collective responsibility here in our province to care for those who are in need. In the 1930s there were a number of Ontario municipalities that went bankrupt because they simply could not care for their needy on a local basis.

Quite rightly, that sense of responsibility has been enlarged to the point now where we understand in Ontario that although Metropolitan Toronto has 20% of the population, roughly speaking, it has 40% of the welfare recipients and it has 40%, roughly, of public housing. But the people in Kenora, for instance, Cornwall, Ottawa, Kincardine and Windsor understand that. That's not Toronto's problem; that's our problem, that's our responsibility as a province, to provide that care for our needy no matter where they happen to reside. That has been a noble evolution in our province.

But now, by telling cities and towns that they must assume much greater responsibility for social services such as welfare, the province is letting the fox loose among the chickens. It is only natural to expect that property taxpayers, who shouldn't be paying for welfare for the very same good reasons that they shouldn't be paying for education, are going to apply pressure to their municipal politicians to keep their welfare costs down.

Pressure from municipalities across Ontario will easily lead to the province lowering any province-wide standards. Communities themselves could begin sending not-so-subtle signals to people down on their luck that it would be better if they just moved along, "You folks had best just move along because paying for you, paying for your needs, ensuring that you have some quality of life, is going to interfere with my quality of life as a property taxpayer."


That's why over the years politicians at the provincial level in Ontario have quite rightly determined that that kind of responsibility for caring for our needy is a provincial responsibility and ought to be paid for by way of a progressive income tax system where you provide assistance according to your ability to pay rather than off the property tax system. The property tax system, when it comes to paying for social services, is a recipe for disaster. We're going to be pitting people against people, and we have an obligation in this House to bring out people's better angels, to bring out their best, not reflect their worst.

I believe that Ontarians are a caring and compassionate people. I know that times are tough, but I can tell you that after travelling this province together with my colleagues during the past year, driving from community to community, I can say that Ontarians still care deeply about each other and our collective welfare. We understand in our heart of hearts that one way, one important way, to ready ourselves for the 21st century is to make sure that we always retain the capacity to look after our needy.

The mega-week announcements are going to limit our ability as a province to care for our needy, and that is unacceptable. Anything that tears away at our infrastructure of compassion, anything that pits Ontarians against each other, ought to be resisted with the greatest vigour, and that is exactly what we in the Liberal Party are doing.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the motion presented by the member for Ottawa South and am in full agreement with what is contained therein. What we have seen in the last couple of months is a whole series of dizzying announcements that have been pronounced by this government, and I have to tell you that it has bamboozled a whole lot of people, confounded many and divided many within society who would love to be able to respond to these individual components, these individual bills, because they are very, very concerned about what this government is doing.

But when it is presented all at once, they are completely divided, and I argue that is the intent of this government to bamboozle the Ontario population so they can't focus on any one specific bill, allowing the attack against this government to be weakened as a result. So let there be no mistake about the design of this government as it introduces bill after bill, forcing everybody to choose what particular issue they're going to fight against.

This government has chosen to be very undemocratic in Metropolitan Toronto and has everyone up in arms against the way this government has treated people in Metropolitan Toronto, and I, rightly, am on their side. They have decided that for their supporters in the region outside of Metro they would have democracy, that this government would even hire a facilitator to help the democratic process of deciding what type or if they would want to amalgamate.

But in Metropolitan Toronto all we have gotten is autocracy and omnipotence and arrogance from this government. They're telling us what is good for us. The order has come from the high levels of this government and essentially we simply have to accept it. That's how autocracy works in this province. That is how you begin to erode the democratic elements that most of us are used to. People are outraged that we are getting different treatment here in Metro from those outside of Metro in the 905 and beyond, all over Ontario. That's the first point.

Disentanglement is the next point. This government has often argued that it's too confusing to have the various levels of government deal with various issues and so the government was going to make it easier. This government has not made it easier; in fact it has compounded and confounded the problem even more. It pretends that the costs for welfare, housing, long-term care, social assistance, public health, policing, water and sewage can all be passed on to the municipality because it is the appropriate level to be dealing with them.

When it's convenient to this government to pass something on to the municipality, it says, "Oh, this is an appropriate disentanglement." But what it has done is to offload essential costs on to the municipalities; it doesn't disentangle in a way that says, "We, the province, will take on welfare," as an example, "but we're all of a sudden going to share it." I don't see how that disentangles; it entangles municipalities even more. But this government shamelessly says that kind of disentanglement is all right because the government wants it to be this way. In fact they want to offload a whole lot of costs on to the municipalities so they don't have to deal with the costs. That's a problem.

They then say: "But, look, we've done something very important that people wanted. We've taken $5.4 billion out of the property taxes, from which we raise, of course, money for education." A number of those fine people on the other side say: "This is great. Seniors will be happy." Seniors would have been happy had you taken that money out without offloading other essential services. You never told them before the election that you would do that.

AMO would have been very happy, as I am happy, to take the education portion out of property taxes. In fact, I've argued for this many a time. I think that's important. Of course, you then have to discuss what the appropriate level of funding is for the various regions that have different needs, but it's a separate discussion. You never said you were going to take this education property tax but impose something else on the property taxpayer. We never discussed that. AMO had no clue you would be doing that, but they would have been very happy had you taken the education portion out and paid those moneys out of an income tax system, which is fair. I agree with them. Terry Mundell is angry at this government.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He should be.

Mr Marchese: Of course. But this is an association that's very supportive of Tories in general. When they do something as outrageous as this, they worry and they are angry and fighting back against a government that doesn't -- well, it knows what it's doing -- that is doing the wrong thing, against municipalities and the property taxpayer.

This government says that after they take the education portion out of property taxes people will be happy. It will be all right "because we're dumping other services on to municipalities and we'll be revenue-neutral." But if they're going to be revenue-neutral, why do it at all? A number of people are asking: "Why are you doing it? If you want to achieve a revenue-neutral situation, why are you insane enough to be doing it?" Why would you be changing, deranging in fact, the whole system in order to arrive at a revenue-neutral position?

Reasonable people in Metro and outside Metro are beginning to understand that there is a design in all of this, that surely if you arrive at the same level of revenue-neutrality, why are you doing it? The design behind it is the following: They have got a problem. They have decided they wanted to give privileged people in this province a tax break. People nod in a very strange sort of way when they say, "Oh, but that's absurd." But it's not absurd. This is what you've done.

Mr Bradley: What does the bank president get?

Mr Marchese: Oh, those bank presidents, God, I can't but mention them all the time.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): You are forgetting the clawback.

Mr Marchese: Sixty per cent of their privileged friends will get a big tax break. I'll state it more clearly so Mr Spina will understand it. Ten per cent of their privileged friends will get a total of 60% of that income tax cut. They're his friends, not mine. They're Mike Harris's friends, not mine: bank presidents, privileged individuals, friends of these fine people over here, banks that make big donations both to the Conservative and, I would add, the Liberal Party as well. I'm sorry to add that banks, which invest our money from our deposits and make fine contributions to the Tories and to the Liberals, are going to benefit greatly from this. A banker who earns $1.7 million is going to get, by the end of all this, $150,000. Can you believe that?


I ask you from Sudbury, from Thunder Bay, from these other rural areas, all these other cities, Barrie and so on, how many people make $150,000? Very few, except their privileged friends. That's what it's about. They're short. Every year they're short because of the insanity of the income tax cut, and because of that they need money. They have a lot of Tories smiling and laughing and saying, "No, that's not true," but it is true. They know it but they cannot, in public, say that is a fact. They will tell you: "Oh no, the member for Fort York isn't correct. The jobs are just rolling in like water from the mountain flowing every day, rolling in."

Jobs are not there. That income tax cut is hurting all of us. That is why this government shamelessly is going after essential services. That's why this so-called disentanglement is introduced. It is about taking education out of property taxes so they can take $1 billion to $2 billion out of the education system to give to their privileged friends, people like the bankers. That's what this is about.

I say it's a shameful act. It's shameful when they download things like housing. No other jurisdiction in the world has ever downloaded its responsibility to a municipality, no other jurisdiction in the world except these people, these Reform-minded Tories. I tell you there's no justification for that. Mike Harris, the Premier, and Leach and all the others can say, "We're doing this to help the municipalities out because they know how to deliver the service better." That's not what it's about. It is foolhardy and it's going to hurt our services. They know it, but the people who seem not to know it are the ones who still continue to believe that these fine Reform-minded Conservatives are doing the right thing. There are still a lot of people in the 905 region and beyond who believe this government is doing the right thing.

Once housing is pushed down, we're going to see several things happening. Rent geared to income will increase, so a whole lot of people who are working poor, many who are now middle class, are going to be affected by that. That will happen and you will see some of these municipalities begin to sell off some of those projects, some of those units in the Metro housing authority. They will be selling them off. It will be a dog-eat-dog kind of thing, as it relates to housing. That's what this government is all about. They're shifting the responsibility on to individuals to survive. Communities no longer matter and they no longer have a role. This Tory government is pushing itself out. It is pushing its own responsibility out.

I almost say to them: "Why don't you quit, become a volunteer? Run for the next board of education, where the remuneration will be $5,000, and do it voluntarily, which you're so proud of. Please leave this House, because you are abandoning your responsibility." Imagine offloading welfare on to the municipality taxpayer -- an irresponsible act by a government that is completely wacko. It doesn't know what the hell it's doing. If you know what you're doing, it's worse. To pass on housing to the municipalities when no one in the world has done that is inexcusable. It is an insanity. To pass on welfare and child care and to pass on long-term care and to pass on public health is an insanity, a complete act of irresponsibility.

You can smile, Mr Clement, but people are going to come after you in your jurisdiction, and they will. At the moment the only thing you have got is that people are not yet fully informed. But I have to tell you, M. Clement and others, that people in Metropolitan Toronto -- that's the jurisdiction I'm in -- are fighting back. Bless this government, democracy is taking root in this province. We have to thank you for that. We thank you because we have seen people who have not been involved for years and realize the madness --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. You don't have the floor. The member for Fort York has the floor.

Mr Marchese: They realize the madness of what is happening here, and people who hitherto have not been involved are now actively involved because they are afraid. These are the active ones. Soon you will see those who are not so active. You will see people starting to be involved because they're afraid, and not just because municipal taxes are going to go up. That's a given fact. That is a fact and I can guarantee that to anybody who's willing to call me to talk about that. We'll show you numbers. Property taxes are going to go up and services are going to go down. Downloading welfare to the property taxpayer, you will see a helter-skelter of services across Ontario. It is inevitable.

What the federal Liberal government has done is bad enough, to have stopped, literally, giving us the money around the Canada assistance plan and around post-secondary education and health and social services. What they did was bad enough; what this government is doing is worse. What the federal Liberal government did in abandoning housing altogether and literally wanting to give it away to the provinces at a time that is the most complicated for us is almost acceptable, literally, to what this government is doing -- not acceptable; I must say what the Liberals are doing is completely unacceptable to me, I find it objectionable, but compared to what this government is doing, my God, it pales in comparison.

Market value assessment is coming, folks. Market value assessment is coming in this province, and this government says, "It's about time a lot of people here in Metropolitan Toronto started paying their fair share." It's going to push out business and it's going to push out residents.


Mr Marchese: The Liberals are listening. I'm sure they're closely attached to the monitors. They may not be here but they're listening. I'm convinced of it.

Market value assessment is coming in and it's going to mean increased property taxes to a whole lot of people. They don't know it yet. There are countless people in Metro in particular, but elsewhere across the province, who have purchased homes not realizing they are about to get a property tax increase just by the mere introduction of market value assessment.

Then entangle that with the increases in long-term care, where we'll see so many seniors coming into this province in the next 10 years, and they will need a lot of support in our communities. Hospitals are closing and this government is taking money away as opposed to putting money into the community to take care of these seniors, to take care of these vulnerable people who live in our communities. The money is not there and they're passing it on to the municipality and the taxpayer.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): You broke the bank.

Mr Marchese: Ms Mushinski, it is a shameful act you and your government have been involved in, passing on services like public health and social assistance. One can barely get into it without having to be completely angry about this, and I tell you, I'm angry, because we're going to see property taxes increase in this province and I see that as an iniquitous act.


Property taxes are regressive. They are not based on people's income and therefore they will create unequal consequences for many people. You have a lot of seniors who own homes, a lot of injured workers who are hanging on to their homes, a lot of middle class people who may have lost their salaries as a result of government firing a whole lot of people, including the federal government, letting them go. You have a lot of people who have invested a lot of money in their homes and you are about to make them vulnerable because property taxes will increase and services will go down.

The services we are proud of are under threat, in health, in housing -- essential things -- and in education where you are taking property tax dollars for education out to be able to cut $1.2 billion or $1.5 billion out of that system. It is a shameful act.

This motion we have before us moves in the right direction. I support it. I know my other colleagues will speak to this. We will support it. We hope the people watching will continue to write to the ministers in a letter, private and confidential, so ministers get it in their hands. We urge the public to meet with the Conservative members one to one, so they can see each other in the eye as each one talks to the other, and have them explain to you what will happen to the education system, what will happen to health and housing, what will happen to child care. Ask them to explain to you what is happening. Ask them to tell you why they are so certain their property taxes are not going to go up, where we argue and many argue that they're going to go up.

A banker, together with United Way, together with a board of trade individual, has stated clearly that this government is on the wrong track. They're not my friends by and large. They're your friends, most of them, and they're saying you're on the wrong track and that many people here in this province are going to be hurt as a result of your moves. David Crombie -- he's a Conservative, your guy, your friend -- has said to you, "You people are on the wrong track."

We hope that people are going to listen and that they will meet with you and will write you and will meet with us if they wish and call us to talk about how we defeat this government. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Since this is the Liberal opposition day, I hope they would have an opportunity to participate, so I would ask if there is a quorum present.

The Deputy Speaker: Will you check if there is a quorum, please?

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is present, Speaker.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I'm pleased to be able to be part of the debate on the motion before the Legislature. First, I'd like to clarify some misinformation outlined by the Leader of the Opposition in his motion.

The motion indicates, and I would like to say quite erroneously, that the government is dumping $6.4 billion in costs on to municipalities. That statement simply isn't true. What we are doing is improving a flawed and multilayered system of bureaucracy that Ontario residents have had to sift through for years, and try to find not only answers to their questions and queries but accountability. We've all heard the complaints about these exercises and we are trying to correct the situation.

Our government has been the first to aggressively and proactively put an end to the duplication and waste that occurs when services are provided in a muddled-up and confusing manner by various levels of government. Previous governments have looked at trying to untangle the web of bureaucracy, but simply lacked the vision to see the process through.

A prime example, one I'm sure most members of this Legislature are aware of, is someone trying to get social assistance. That individual or family may have to go to the municipal assistance office, the local provincial office, as well as meet with agency social workers in the course of trying to get financial help and housing assistance. That is not only a complicated system; for those in need it is a frustrating way to seek help.

Through the Who Does What process the panel made recommendations on how to realign the different levels of government in a simpler, more accountable and less costly way. Once the panel made the recommendations, the government studied them, debated them, crunched the numbers and came forward with a plan of action to implement a new system which responds to the concerns of Ontario's residents about the cost and size of government. This plan sees the province taking on fiscal obligations for a number of new responsibilities and, in turn, transfers other responsibilities to municipalities.

One of the major changes to Ontario taxpayers is that we are removing education from the residential property tax bill, a move which will see a total of $6.2 billion being moved off the backs of residential property owners by the year 2000. Taking education off the residential property tax bill is an issue that many governments have looked at in the past, yet none had the will to change the system to make it more equitable and fair for the citizens of the province.

The education portion of the residential property tax bill is a huge burden, one that we are taking off the backs of the residential property taxpayers and replacing with a fair, new funding model, a model which will treat all students equal, regardless of where they live.

Municipal politicians have demanded that the province move in this direction for some time now. Local politicians are also asking for a fairer way of funding education. We've heard in this House, and I have certainly heard from many of my constituents, that funding education based on local assessments is unacceptable as it has created an unfair and inequitable funding mechanism across this province.

It has been said many times in this Legislature that some boards of education spend up to $2,000 more per student than many other boards in the province, and more specifically boards of education in my riding. Is it fair? Certainly not. Why should students, because of where they live, have more funding funnelled to their education?

I fully support a move to an equitable system of education funding. Children's quality of education should not be solely based on whether they live in an assessment-rich or an assessment-poor board. Ensuring all students have quality education is crucial to the future success of these children and the province as a whole.

Our children need to be able to cope in a changing world and as we enter a new millennium we will need many new and traditional skills to be able to compete in the global economy. Reforming the way education is funded is key to this, an equity municipalities have been demanding.

Finally a government has listened to the requests of local representatives.

In return for removing the upwardly spiralling cost of education, the government will give municipalities more responsibilities for some other services presently paid for by the province, including a larger share of social programs and welfare.

Municipalities are in a much better position than the province to deliver these services. Municipalities have shown that they can provide services effectively and in a way that is responsive to the needs of their communities. Yes, that does include more of the costs surrounding social assistance, public health care, long-term care and child care services, and yes, I believe that when we have finished this process we will have a better, easier to understand, streamlined, integrated social and community health service system which is more efficient and cost-effective and will be able to offer a better service to those seeking help.

I simply want to remind everyone of the reaction of municipalities when the previous government's discussion of disentanglement suggested that social assistance become a provincial responsibility. Despite what the Leader of the Opposition may choose to say, all municipalities certainly were not supportive of the province taking over the delivery of social assistance.

Municipal governments fully believe that they have a key role to play in the delivery of social assistance. They have closer contact with the local people and want to be involved in the delivery of this type of service for their residents. They have proven time and again that they can provide this service at a better cost to the taxpayer.


I want to point out that while the municipalities have proven they can deliver these services at a better cost, neither the province nor the municipalities would be accountable to the taxpayer without sharing in the cost of the service. As for the province, it is difficult to be accountable for service which another level is totally delivering yet not contributing to financially. By moving to a 50-50 cost-sharing formula when it comes to welfare, not only will municipalities continue to deliver the service, but they will also be held accountable as they will be responsible for contributing half of the cost.

While giving the municipalities the ability to deliver these services, it's also important that the province set standards to ensure all residents are treated fairly.

Looking at the resolution, I find it inconceivable that the Leader of the Opposition implies that the province is adding $1 billion in new costs to the property taxpayers. Certainly there will be tradeoffs. As education comes off the residential bill, other services will be added, but to simply throw out a figure of $1 billion is not only wrong, it is irresponsible.

Movement of services to municipalities will allow local governments the ability to manage their responsibilities in a more efficient manner. Part of the decision to change the way we do business of the government is not simply to change who funds that service but to find better solutions to the problems that currently plague the system.

Through the new system the municipalities can manage, fund and coordinate local transportation services. They will have the ability to integrate fire, police and ambulance services to provide better services and save money through coordinated management efforts. These changes will give both the municipalities and the provincial government the ability to take a second look at how they do business and make the changes that need to be made to provide not only stronger services, but services that are more effective.

If it were as simple as switching funding, as the Leader of the Opposition implies, without any changes in the roles and responsibilities that go along with that, then perhaps there wouldn't be savings to the taxpayer. That may be the vision the Leader of the Opposition holds; that isn't the way this government does business.

We believe that the overall changes will help lower taxes. We believe that both the municipalities and the province will save money through the realignment of responsibilities. Many municipalities have proven that, given the tools, they have the ability to find savings. In fact, many municipalities have shown that they are extremely good at finding a better way to deliver services.

For example, the town of Ajax will realize $1.6 million in savings in 1996. They accomplished this with no tax increases, no cuts in services and no staff layoffs. In Ottawa-Carleton, an amalgamated police service will help the municipality save $2.4 million a year. These are just some examples of the ways municipalities are looking for local savings and creative ways to manage their responsibilities.

While these municipalities are able to cut costs, we recognize that not all will be able to make the necessary changes immediately to deal with the changes. To ensure that all communities have the same opportunity to adapt to the change, a municipal social assistance reserve has been created as a safeguard against unforeseen local economic circumstances. The province will make an initial contribution of $700 million for this municipal reserve.

As well, the $800-million capital and operating restructuring fund will be available for the next four years as a capital fund for investment upgrades in infrastructure that municipalities will assume from the province. We are also setting up a permanent $1-billion community reinvestment fund to ensure that special community needs are met. This replaces, and increases by 50%, the current municipal support grant.

We certainly have made provisions for those municipalities that will initially have difficulty adapting to change. We have put these funds in place to help ensure a smooth transition, to help train and build municipalities to achieve the best methods of handling their duties and responsibilities.

Not only are we helping municipalities make the necessary preparation for changes; we are also establishing a special team of provincial-municipal representatives to advise the government on implementation and management of the new alignment of responsibilities. This alignment will not only mean a better system for the people of Ontario; it will translate into a more responsible and effective division of government services.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I'm speaking in support of our leader's resolution today and I want to be very specific and focused in my remarks; I have just four and a half minutes for this debate.

We know that it is wrong to push social services down to the municipal taxpayer. We know that it is wrong to fund social services by property tax. We know that it is wrong. Not only has it never been recommended by anyone anywhere, but I can tell you that every responsible and thoughtful policy person has told this government that it is making a mistake. They are making a mistake because the fundamental role of the provincial government is to do those things to look after those programs which distribute income: welfare, long-term care, ambulance services, social housing. Those things which are required in an equal and uniform way, those things which create a level playing field and those things which look after the most vulnerable in our society are rightly the responsibility of the provincial government. They should be funded from the progressive income tax.

As our leader pointed out, thoughtful public policy people, thoughtful public policy institutions, have also in the past recommended a shift from funding education on the property tax to more progressive income and sales taxes at the provincial level. All governments have looked at that, and all governments know that in order to shift education from the property tax, it would mean a huge increase in income or sales tax. It is only because of that enormous shift in costs that it has been rejected by governments.

David Crombie from the Who Does What panel looked very thoughtfully at this issue. He said it would be a good idea, if you could, to take education off the property tax, but when he got wind of the provincial government's idea to swap, as they suggest, and put social services on the property tax, David Crombie and the united, unanimous Who Does What panel said: "Don't do it. It would be a mistake. If it comes to a choice between the funding of education on the property tax and the funding of social services on the property tax, leave it as it is with education on the property tax." They argued, and I think rightly so, that education is more predictable and, if you wish, as a province, more controllable.

Social services respond to the ups and downs of economic activity. We know that there are economic cycles, and in a downturn, at a time when municipalities and municipal taxpayers are feeling most vulnerable, that is the time when property taxes will go through the roof as a result of increases in welfare caseload.

If there is an area where we need to see future expenditure, it is in the area of long-term care, and there are two very good reasons why funding long-term care on the municipal taxpayer is wrong. I would like to quote the Senior Citizens' Consumer Alliance, and this letter was signed on their behalf by Jane Leitch, the chair:

"We believe that this recent government decision" -- she's referring to the funding of long-term care on the property tax base by property taxpayers -- "will jeopardize consumers' rights to equitable, accessible health services; increase the burden on taxpayers; and severely impede the development of coordinated systems of health care in Ontario."

I agree with Jane Leitch and the very thoughtful Senior Citizens' Consumer Alliance, and they're not the only ones who are saying to this government, "Don't do it." Crombie and his panel are saying: "Don't do it. It's a mistake." Anne Golden, who wrote the Golden report, said: "Don't do it. It's a mistake." The United Way is saying: "Don't do it. It's a mistake." And 25 out of 28 mayors, leaders in the greater Toronto area, are saying: "Don't do it. It's a mistake."

This is not a Metropolitan Toronto or a GTA issue. I'm surprised at the member for Oxford, because he knows that it will have a very negative impact on local ratepayers and taxpayers in every municipality across this province as local municipal politicians -- I see a former mayor of Sarnia is here as well, and he would know that municipal councils will have to choose between services for long-term care, social housing, public health and support for the most vulnerable and needy in our society, those on welfare and social assistance and children in need of child care. There are many municipalities that do not have the rich assessment bases required to be able to support these important social programs.

I'm going to sum up by quoting an editorial out of the Canadian Jewish News. They say: "The government's penchant for rushing through complex, controversial and far-reaching proposals is unseemly. Streamlining the government is indeed a worthy aim, but dismantling it is not, nor is disengaging from its social welfare service area, where it ought to remain firmly and permanently active."

In "From the Editor's Desk," I would like to read to this House a quote, the last paragraph: "It may be right for the provincial government to disentangle, but it is not right to disengage. Good government creates the conditions for economic progress, but economic progress is enhanced, not diminished, by humane, caring social welfare policies."

I implore the Harris government to reconsider this ill-thought-out and hastily-rushed-through social policy, which will have a devastating impact on the province of Ontario. It will hurt people; it will hurt property taxpayers. We will see, as a result of this policy, Ontario's quality of life suffer immeasurably.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Just a few days ago, as this stuff has been downloaded, indeed dumped on to municipalities across Ontario, I was talking to a neighbour of mine. She has been a small business person all her life, worked incredibly hard, raised three kids by herself, working 12-, 14-, 16-hour days, six and seven days a week, and finally managed to liquidate her assets in the business and buy a small house, a nice house, on Bald Street.

She just got whacked because Niagara region implemented market value assessment a year ago. She was one of the losers. She had bought this home understanding what the tax history was and bought it based on what her modest budget is.

When she learned from her government at the regional municipality of Niagara that what this government is doing to property taxpayers, across this province and in Welland and Thorold as well, is going to create a net loss for the regional municipality according to their finance director -- and he's only just begun to do the calculations -- and that the regional municipality of Niagara is looking for starters for at least a $31-million property tax hike, this neighbour said to me, as we were out there surveying the unplowed street -- because that's what municipalities are forced into doing now. Municipalities don't plow side streets, notwithstanding the hazard that creates -- far beyond mere inconvenience. This government's downloading on to municipalities, this government's clawback of transfer payments means the absence of things that a whole lot of folks were prepared to work hard to contribute to as a community, like snow-clearing of roads.

As we were out there surveying the accumulated snow and the drifts on Bald Street, this woman commented to me, "That's not common sense; it's stupidity." That's what she said to me, "It's not common sense; it's the farthest thing from it." But it's the most obvious, blatant stupidity she had encountered in her working lifetime here in Ontario.

I tell you, this woman knows about common sense. As a small business person in a difficult business, in a difficult economy, she knows full well what fiscal responsibility is. She knows, as do a whole lot of other people in Welland-Thorold, across Niagara region, that this government is playing its little Ponzi scheme here. People go to jail in this province and across Canada for the sort of pyramid schemes this government is developing now, and they serve considerable periods of time in jail. My God, why doesn't the Attorney General call the police and have it investigated? Perhaps even declare this government's guilt before any investigation or trial has taken place. Lord knows, he has done it in the past. The precedent has been set and he has done it unrepentantly, hasn't he, Speaker?

What's being done to property taxpayers by this government is nothing short of criminal. It's a Ponzi scheme -- downloading of at least $31 million in new property taxes on municipal taxpayers in the regional municipality of Niagara -- and those who were losers in the market value assessment of last year are going to face another hit on top of the hits they took because of a very unforgiving market value assessment scheme.

I have some special fears. I'll tell you, I'm really afraid for the seniors in Niagara; for our parents and, for those of us who are still blessed with grandparents, for our grandparents. I go to buildings like 211 King Street, a non-profit seniors residence, designed with the cooperation and participation of seniors into smaller unit apartments, designed with a recreational room where seniors can gather, and the home to a whole lot of good, hardworking retirees, folks who have worked a lifetime and who have modest retirement incomes and who compete for apartments at 211 King Street.

You know what's going to happen to 211 King Street? It's no longer going to be the rent-geared-to-income building that it has been, because this government has abandoned social housing, it has abandoned non-profit housing, it has abandoned co-op housing, it has abandoned public housing, so that its rich developer friends can scoop these up and be the slumlords that this government's abandonment of rent control will permit those developers to be.

People like my parents and your parents, my neighbours' parents and grandparents, notwithstanding having worked a lifetime, and worked hard, and notwithstanding having made sacrifices, and making them willingly, to build the public institutions not for themselves as much as for their children and grandchildren, these very same folks are going to have imposed on them not just a downloading but a poverty that only those old enough to remember the Great Depression will have any familiarity with.

This downloading is going to create some activity, I tell you. There's going to be a whole lot of activity in church basements as more and more church communities feel compelled or driven by the needs of their neighbourhoods to have soup kitchens. Go to a soup kitchen once in a while and see the folks who are there. Take a look at the disproportionate number of seniors, people who have worked their lifetimes, who thought they have paid their dues, and who did build and who did pay but have had it all taken away from them by this government. And the disproportionate number of kids. One out of three children in the city of Toronto is being supported on social assistance, and as this government drives its steamroller across the face of Ontario there'll be even more.

It's not just a big-city phenomenon. I don't come from Toronto. I come from, I believe, a part of Niagara that's more reflective of the vast majority of Ontario outside Toronto. Just as I'm worried about seniors housing like 211 King Street, I'm worried about -- the last government in its Jobs Ontario program picked up its share of a new seniors home named Rapelje Lodge after one of our prides of Niagara, Doug Rapelje, who had built Sunset Haven and who had always been an advocate and is acknowledged internationally as having expertise in the care of seniors.

Now that this government has told municipalities that the municipal taxpayer is going to pick up the tab for taking care of those old folks, the ones in Sunset Haven, the ones who were hoping -- because, you see, the construction's under way for Rapelje Lodge down at the end of Plymouth Road, down by Plymouth Road and Ontario Road. You've been there, I know it. A beautiful landscape. There was some concern because there were some pros and cons about whether or not being adjacent to the hospital was appropriate, but at the end of the day people understood that, yes, this gives these seniors who will be in Rapelje Lodge that much more access to medical treatment should they require it, especially in the case of an emergency.


But I've got some real fears now for those people who were counting on Rapelje Lodge as a place to be cared for in a nursing home, a home for the aged. The cities of Welland and Thorold can't afford to sustain those operations. It's all part of the downloading of health care and health costs: public health downloaded on to municipalities; social assistance downloaded on to municipalities.

I talked to you about this before, about each of these little bills being a piece of a puzzle that's part of a much larger picture, and when the picture is finally put together and assembled, it's not a very attractive one. It's a picture of destruction and devastation. It's a picture of increased poverty across the whole community. It's a picture that for most of us has only been a part of the reference to encyclopaedias or other books to the Great Depression, yet for so many of our old folks it is not just a picture but a vivid memory which they worked to overcome, hoping never to have to be confronted by it again.

Hospital closings in Niagara are part and parcel of that same puzzle. This Conservative government, Mike Harris, is the one who wants to shut down Port Colborne General Hospital, not the folks of Port Colborne who built that hospital. It's this government, Mike Harris and the Tories, that is hell-bent on shutting down the Hotel Dieu in St Catharines. They are, and unless we stop them, they're going to do it.

Like I've told you before, these hospitals don't belong to Mike Harris. These hospitals belong to the people, like the people of Port Colborne and Welland and Thorold and St Catharines who literally built them brick by brick, who by subscription through their workplaces donated $2 a week or $5 a week, or if they could, $10 or $15 a week, who, as they were aging and it came time to consider where they might distribute their modest assets upon their death, made bequests to the building funds of these hospitals -- yet another attack on the sick and the young and poor, because fewer hospitals in Niagara is going to mean less access to emergency rooms.

It's going to mean people dying en route to a distant hospital in another community. It's going to mean more unemployment as nurses and support staff are forced on to welfare rolls. It's going to mean less access to acute care beds. It's going to bring with it, I tell you, I'm convinced, privatization of health care, where the scammers and the gougers will take advantage, as they have in the United States, of the fears and desperation of sick people and suffering people, will pick their pockets, a system nurtured by this government's abandonment of health care.

I tell you that people in Welland-Thorold, people across Niagara region know what this government is pulling off. People in Niagara region are mobilizing, gathering in town halls and meetings halls and auditoriums like they never have before. For any of us in this Legislature to be tolerant of these attacks on the sick, the elderly, the young and the poor is in itself criminal, and I tell you I will not condone this conduct.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I've listened to the comments made by the members of the Liberal caucus and the New Democratic caucus with respect to this resolution. The resolution seems to be concerned with the issue of property taxes in Ontario. That seems to be the gist: the fear that the reforms our government is putting through are going to increase property taxes throughout this province.

The member for Welland-Thorold is holding up a book, and gosh knows what it says, but I will say it's very strange to hear the two parties that have governed this province for the last 10 years, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, who raised taxes 65 times, who literally put this province on the edge of bankruptcy.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please, member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Tilson: The debt of this province is $100 billion, and probably by the year 2000 it's going to be $120 billion.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): And it will be because of your tax cuts.

Mr Tilson: Because of your policies, to the member for Kingston and The Islands, the Liberal policies and the New Democratic policies.


Mr Kormos: Tell us about your deficit and your debt.

The Acting Speaker: Member, take your seat, please. Would the members please come to order.

Mr Kormos: -- taxes that they're generating.

The Acting Speaker: Come to order, please, member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): You don't believe in social programs. You want to destroy social programs.

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

Mr Tilson: It is because of those policies of the former governments that we are entertaining a number of reforms throughout this province. These reforms include a number of things, many of which we have passed, many of which we are in the process of considering in this House and considering in committees.

I believe that when you're looking at this resolution it's really faulty to look at individual, particular topics, whether it be --


Mr Tilson: The members enjoy that laugh, particularly the two members from the New Democratic caucus over there. I remember them sitting around talking about how they were going to reform property taxes, and they sat on it for four years. They did nothing. They stood up in the House. I remember when Mr Silipo, who is the member for Dovercourt, when he was the minister of Comsoc, stood up and talked how he was going to reform welfare, how he was going to reform social services. We never saw anything, absolutely nothing. They did nothing for four years with respect to those things.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Call the police. Get the AG to call the police.

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

Mr Tilson: The purpose of these reforms on all of these topics is to stop the bankruptcy that these two parties have put this province into.

One looks at governance. That's one of the issues that's before one of the committees right now with respect to the supercity, the city of Toronto -- and it is going to be a supercity, it's going to be a great city. I believe that one needs to look at the governance around the province of Ontario along with these other reforms.

For example, in my riding of Dufferin-Peel, the north half, we have a population of 40,000 people, and I don't think that's different from a lot of the rural communities in our area. I'll tell you something. Do you know how many municipalities we have for that 40,000? We have eight municipalities plus an upper tier, and that's just the north half of the riding. For each politician who's there that's about 1,000 citizens in that area. For each 1,000 people you have a politician.

I will leave it to the municipalities to solve how they're going to go about that, but obviously we can't sustain the type of municipal government that we've had in this province. I mean, many of these jurisdictions were set back in the horse and buggy days when it took a long time to get from municipality to municipality. We need to look at all of those things.

With respect to education in this province, which we've taking off the property tax rolls, someone from the opposition got a bit of a chuckle here earlier today during question period when he commented how during the election their constituents would comment on how it was inappropriate for education to be on the tax rolls. Well, we're taking it off the tax rolls with respect to the residential tax part of it; $5.5 billion is what we're spending today.

Mr Gerretsen: It was $5.4 billion.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Mr Tilson: It is estimated that by the year 2000 it will be $6.2 billion. All of these things we can't continue. We can't continue the way your governments have continued to operate this province.

With respect to social services, there's nothing unusual; it's been going on for some time that municipalities have been undertaking welfare in this province. There's nothing unusual about that.

Mr Gerretsen: But they don't even pay 20%.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Mr Tilson: The member for Welland-Thorold talked about social housing. Do you know how many bureaucracies your government -- the New Democratic government -- and the Liberal government created? You created four bureaucracies with respect to social housing in this province. Why do you need four bureaucracies to administer social housing? You've got the ministry, you've got the Ontario Housing Corp, you've got the regional and you've got the local housing authorities. Well, that's going to change. You don't need all those bureaucracies.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): What are you talking about?

Mr Tilson: The former Minister of Housing says what am I talking about. You're the one who started all this mess.

There have been numerous requests from municipalities across the province to ask the province to transfer the control of management of social housing to them. There have been requests from them. In March 1996 there was a report from the board of directors of Peel Living which promoted local control of social housing. In this report the benefits of local control include savings through staff restructuring, consolidation of administration, enhanced purchasing power, improved long-term maintenance, the elimination of confusion on the part of the public and easier complaint resolution, and it goes on. Those have been requests by municipalities to deal with the issue of social housing.

You can't just look at individual items. The former government didn't look at anything. They just let it all slide. They didn't talk about anything. You have to have a plan. You had absolutely zero plans for the four years you were in power, and you people didn't do much better when you were in power.

That is the aim of our government with respect to a complete reform of all the items, whether it be for policing, whether it be for health care, whether it be for education, whether it be for every single item of this government. We have no choice.

I have yet to hear suggestions from the New Democratic caucus or the Liberal caucus as to how they are going to pay down the debt of this province. Have you got any bright ideas?


The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Dufferin-Peel take his seat for a moment. This is really getting out of hand. I can hardly hear the member for Dufferin-Peel and I'm sitting right next to him. You will get your chance.

Mr Tilson: I'd like to address some of my comments with respect to other areas that our government is entering into reform in the province, and that has to do with policing. In many rural areas the townships do not pay for policing. Some do, some don't. In my area a number of the townships do not pay for policing, and I'm sure that's the same throughout this province. That's another area of reform. In my area we've got a chief of police in Orangeville, we've got a chief of police in Shelburne and we've got the OPP in Shelburne. We've also got a regional police force in Caledon and they have a chief of police there. That's four bureaucracies for roughly 80,000 people.

There is a puzzle, believe it or not, members of the New Democratic caucus, who never had a plan in the first place. There is a plan and we're outlining the plan. In fact, there's nothing different from what we were talking about when we first got elected.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Oh yes, you increase property taxes.

Mr Tilson: Well, if you read it, you've got too many politicians, you've had too much governance, and the result is that the province has gone bankrupt.

Mr Agostino: We will not close hospitals.

Mr Tilson: With respect to hospitals, I'd like to talk about hospitals.


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

Mr Tilson: With respect to hospitals, in my riding we're the first area in the province of Ontario for a voluntary merger. The minister talked of it today. The Shelburne District Hospital and the Dufferin Area Hospital merged into one voluntarily. We're not going to take the credit for that. It was actually started by the Liberals, believe it or not, continued by the New Democratic government, and finally it's being finished with us.

That really is the type of restructuring with respect to health care that should be going on around this province. Again, you people started it. Take credit for it, for heaven's sake, instead of slamming us. The same goes for the New Democratic caucus. You should be proud of what you've done. I know we're proud of what we've done, believe it or not.


Mr Tilson: You stand there and you rant and rave, but I'm telling you that this is going to save substantial amounts. In my riding, we're building a new hospital. We've restructured. It's taken 10 years to get to that stage.

Mr Curling: You're closing others all over the place.

Mr Tilson: You can say we're closing others all over the place. Believe it or not, your two parties were emptying beds. You were having empty beds all over the place and now you're talking about how we're closing hospitals.

Whether it's education, whether it's health care, whether it's policing, whether it's local governance, if you don't do something about it, the place is going to go bankrupt. We're going to save this province from going into bankruptcy, which is exactly what your two governments have done.

I will be voting against the resolution. I don't think it's well thought out. I don't think there is any suggestion as to what the future is going to be, but quite frankly, that has been the story of the New Democratic and Liberal caucuses. They never have had the foresight as to where they're going in this province. They never will and they certainly haven't now.

Mr Curling: As I listened to my colleague from Dufferin-Peel, I don't know how he doesn't bite his tongue because of many of the things that he's saying, the strategy that his government has put in place with this dumping of the costs on the municipality without any negotiation whatsoever, none at all, just saying, "You take it over," as if to say there are two kinds of taxpayers; that is from his Mike Harris, who had said there is only one taxpayer, and this one taxpayer is paying dearly for the moves of this Conservative government.

This government came into power and, first, administered the most vicious blow on the most vulnerable and the poor in our society, and then is bringing about this dumping of this cost on to the municipality, with even the general welfare from 20% to 50%. I want to ask the member, who is going to pay for that? Where is this money going to come from? Our taxes are going to go up, and they're going to go up dramatically, paying on the backs of the poor. You can see, Madam Speaker, as you sit in here day by day and watch the expression on these Conservative members' faces, how blank it is: no concern at all for the municipalities, no concern at all for the citizens of our province.

In Scarborough North and in Scarborough, we have residents who are concerned whether they can send their kids to school, can afford it, whether their kids who will graduate out of university will be bankrupt.

In the meantime, there will be tremendous concern in other areas: housing, for instance. I just want in the short time I have to emphasize a bit on housing and the tremendous impact it's going to have on those people who are looking for affordable housing. Many of those homes are in terrible condition, millions of dollars needed for repairs, but no concern at all, when it is dumped on the municipality, of where this money is going to come from.

The federal government also, which should be addressed, is trying to pass on some of those responsibilities to the province. The province in the meantime is trying quickly to pass it to the municipality. Who is going to pay for all this high cost of repairs? It is the taxpayers: not only the normal taxpayer, but the poor taxpayers, who are living in some terrible conditions. I would ask some of these Conservative members to go to some of these homes and sit there for a moment, talk to these people of the struggles they have.

The average income of many of the people in Scarborough and across Metro is about $20,000 or $25,000, and they have to live on that kind of income. Furthermore, to be asked now by this government to pay more, all because they want to give their rich friends a tax break -- they are blindly running into this and saying, "We have delivered." We know the old game: Give it to the rich so therefore they can turn around and it can trickle down to the poor. The poor have been waiting for years for the rich to distribute some of that wealth. The bankers, for instance, with the amount of money that they make, the profit they have made, are bragging: "We have done a good job. There's nothing wrong in making $1 million a year, nothing wrong at all."

As we dump much of the funding on to the municipalities, I would ask one request: Why would this government not negotiate with the municipalities in finding out and taking on many of these responsibilities? That's my comment. I'm sorry the time is not sufficient for me to make some other pertinent remarks I would like to make.


Mr Bisson: I've got some 12 minutes to go through what is a fairly complex issue we're dealing with here today with this particular resolution, because it talks about all the work the government is doing to offload its responsibility on to the municipalities. I'm going to try to go through this in some sort of systematic way.

First of all, let's turn our attention back to the election of 1995, and more important, let's turn our attention back even further, before that. We all know the government today prides itself on a document called the Common Sense Revolution. I remember, Madam Speaker, as you would, because you were a member of the former government and you were in this House, as many other people in opposition were, that the third party then, the government today, basically had three promises it made to the people of this province.

They said there would be only one taxpayer, that we had to be conscious as government that no matter what we did at the provincial or municipal levels, we did things consciously knowing there was only one taxpayer. In other words, let's not offload our responsibilities on to everybody else; everybody take their responsibility and let's make the joint tax burden somewhat less for the taxpayers of Ontario.

The other thing they talked about was that they said specifically in the Common Sense Revolution, page 7, that they were not going to download their responsibilities on to municipalities, and second of all, they said they were going to work closely with municipalities in this province to figure out how best to disentangle provincial services that were operating at the time in Ontario.

The third promise they made -- I remember this one well, because I knew back then that the government would not be able to maintain this promise because really it didn't want to; it was a bit of a smokescreen -- was that they would not take one cent from the health care system.

Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at what this government is doing. This whole resolution is about how this government is moving forward and taking a whole bunch of provincial services and throwing them on to the municipalities so they can pick up not only the service delivery, but can pay the cost of delivering those services

What are they transferring? They're transferring everything from ambulance services to long-term-care institutions that we have in our communities, like South Centennial Manor in Iroquois Falls, like Golden Manor in Timmins and the Extendicare nursing home in Schumacher. The municipalities will now have to pay 50% of the operating costs of those particular long-term-care institutions. They're throwing over the entire system of community long-term care and they're saying to municipalities, "You're not only going to run it, you're now going to pay 50% of the cost."

They're throwing the entire cost of transit services across Ontario on to the municipalities. No more provincial subsidies for the TTC, for Timmins transit, for Sudbury transit, for Windsor transit or for Ottawa transit, none of it; no more transfers to the municipalities for those particular services. They're transferring the entire responsibility of day care on to the municipalities. They're transferring a whole bunch of municipal roads on to municipalities like Timmins and Matheson and Sudbury and a whole bunch of other municipalities across Ontario. They're transferring entire responsibilities that used to be squarely in the responsibility field of the province, both when it came to funding and operating, on to the municipalities.

What does this mean? It means the municipalities are going to have to try to figure out how to either cut costs so they can afford these services, which means they'll have to cut other services or even those that are being transferred, or they will have to raise property taxes.

I want to share with you a column that appeared in the Timmins Daily Press not more than a couple of days ago. I want to say something: The Timmins Daily Press, owned by Conrad Black, is not a paper that is known to be associated with the New Democratic Party. I would say more than likely they're probably more closely associated with the Conservative Party of Ontario.

They did this particular editorial where they asked people on the streets of the city of Timmins, and here's the question: "What do you think the city will do given the high cost it will face" when it comes to transferring all these services on to the municipalities? Here's what citizens in the city of Timmins said -- just a random survey. Oliver Cadeau says: "The city keeps saying it won't raise taxes, but where is the money going to come from? They'll have to cut services somewhere." Mark Beaudette is a mobile crane operator in the city of Timmins, "They'll raise taxes. It won't go over too well (with taxpayers)," but the cities have no choice because of what the province is doing.

Jason Gagnon, a person who works in the city of Timmins: What's the municipality going to do? "They'll raise taxes. I don't want them to. We pay enough taxes already." But what else is the municipality going to do?

Lise McCallion: "I don't want them to raise taxes, but they might anyway." What choice do they have?

Mr Bradley: What happened to Hazel?

Mr Bisson: Not related to Hazel McCallion, I don't think.

Sally Cyr, who is a retiree in the city of Timmins says: "They've cut snowplowing already. I can't see where they could cut anymore."

The long and the short of the story is all the people who were interviewed in this article said that the municipality is going to raise taxes and cut services to offset what the provincial government is doing to municipalities.

What is this government doing, as well as transferring services? They're breaking their promise that they made to the people in the election of 1995 when they said there was only one taxpayer and when they said they weren't going to offload the responsibilities, both financial and operating, on to the municipalities. They're breaking that promise.

Then the government, don't forget, as I said at the beginning, had another promise. This is really interesting. I remember my leader, Bob Rae, at the time saying: "Can the Tories be serious? They're saying they're not going to cut one cent out of health care." By transferring over -- you've got to think about how this is going to work once it's transferred over -- long-term-care responsibilities, ambulances and all those other health care services on to the municipality, does that mean the province is going to be expending less money in health care on those services?

Of course it does, and what's going to happen is the municipalities are going to do the cutting for them. So they are cutting health care expenditure, there's no two ways about it, and what's worse, the government is now going to say, "We saved X billions of dollars in health care by transferring it over to the municipality," and do you know what they're going to do? They're going to go and cut another $1 billion from the system to offset it.

The scenario is you transfer $1 billion of cost from the province on to the municipality. The province says: "We haven't cut health care, not us. We haven't cut a cent." Then they're going to go out and they're going to cut another $1 billion in the system to be able to pay for their tax break. That's what they're going to be doing. There's no two ways about it.

What does this mean to the integration of services? How are you supposed to run an integrated provincial health care system when the province runs the hospitals and the municipalities now end up running the ambulances and long-term care and the community services? Tell me how that makes sense. Tell me where this common sense lies in the fact that the provincial government, which is supposed to run health care, is going to hand over more than half of the health care services to the municipality. It's going to increase the bureaucracy because the municipalities will have to create a bureaucracy to be able to run these institutions, and it means, to me, that with more bureaucracy there will be more cost.

What does it mean to the integration of those services within the province? There will be no integration. Municipalities across this province are going to be competing to ratchet down the costs and the services in our municipalities to be able to offset what this government is doing. It means not only will we be paying higher property taxes at the end of all this, but we will be getting fewer services, and mark my words, that will be this government's undoing.

The other thing -- I touched on it very quickly -- is that what the government is doing also flies in the face of what else they promised in the Common Sense Revolution, which was they were going to diminish the amount of government that is in people's lives. There was going to be less government. They said they were going to do all of this in order to get less government.

When you start transferring those services and giving them to somebody else to do, do people actually think nobody is going to run them? As it is now, we have a provincial bureaucracy within the various ministries that runs these services. You transfer those services on to the municipality and somebody has got to run them. There's going to be an increased bureaucracy because rather than having a provincial bureaucracy that runs the service for the province, you're going to have regional and district bureaucracies that are going to run those services in districts or regions, depending on how they're organized.

We are today downstairs at committee hearings listening to the presentations of people about Bill 103 and what's happening with the amalgamation of the city of Timmins. To the people of northern Ontario and to the other people of this province, don't think you're getting off the hook because they're just doing it in Toronto, because you're next in line. What you're going to see is what's inside the Who Does What recommendations, which is to administer all of these services, the Crombie report and the Who Does What Panel recommended amalgamation of municipalities outside of Metropolitan Toronto to run these services.


When health care and housing and ambulances and all of those services are transferred over to the municipality, the government's going to move with another piece of legislation, with time, to amalgamate municipalities into larger entities so that you can have yet larger bureaucracies within areas to deal with delivering these services. What that means for smaller municipalities like Iroquois Falls, Cochrane, Matheson, all of those smaller municipalities that now have municipal councils, is that they will be part of a larger community.

Let me just draw the boundaries of one community. I don't know if this is what it's going to end up being, but let's imagine the new city of Timmins is Timmins, Iroquois Falls, Cochrane and Matheson, and you have a new city council to administer all of the services in that area. As it is now, it's difficult for people in those communities to find the dollars to do what they need within their own communities when it comes to municipal services. But imagine, if you will, when over half of the population of the new city will be in the city of Timmins itself, if it goes that way.

I want to say that this is not a fait accompli yet and the government hasn't actually proposed the legislation -- this is where it's going -- but the point is that towns like Cochrane and Iroquois Falls and Matheson are going to get lost in the new municipal councils because they will not have the representation at the council table to advocate for their communities. What it means to those municipalities is that people will get fewer services, even above what's going on, and more importantly, the municipalities will be less accountable to those people because they will not have the strength in numbers on those municipal councils to deal with it.

The other thing, just in wrapping up, that I want to say on this is that the government is saying, "We're doing this as the government because we want to deal with the debt." Let's not kid ourselves. I'm willing to bet and stand in my place at this point and say that at the end of all of this you haven't done anything to deal with the debt, because your deficit is not going to change anything from what you're doing, from your own figures. You're saying: "It's a wash; $6 billion out, $6 billion in. We can argue about the numbers but it's a wash." We both can agree that you're not going to attack your debt. I say there's an offset that's not realistic.

The other thing is that the real reason the government is doing this is very simple: Conservatives, especially ring-wing Conservatives like we have here in Ontario now, the right-wing Republican Conservatives of Ontario, the remakes of the Reform Party, do not believe in social programs. They don't believe that the state should provide health care services, that the state should provide housing programs for people. They're nodding their heads in agreement with me, so that people back home are able to tell.

What this is all about is a smokescreen to dismember all of those programs so that in the end it will be the law of the fittest: He or she who has the bucks will live well and those who don't, to darn with them, as the government is saying. This is where you're going, and you can nod your head in the affirmative, because that's exactly where you're going with this. You're undermining social programs because as Conservatives -- as right-wing Conservatives, not the old red Tories -- you do not believe that the government, the state, has a responsibility to make sure that Ontarians have access to social programs so that they are able to live in a better Ontario. That's where you're going. Shame on you.

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): If you look at the motion of the opposition, it states that the "government is dumping over $6.4 billion in service costs to municipalities...." This statement is not quite accurate. It takes reforms out of context by ignoring the fact that we are removing the burden of education. I don't think you, the opposition, believe that statement yourself.

Mr Bisson: Somebody told him if he plays the good guy --

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

Mr Boushy: Education is a cost that, as the opposition knows, continued to rise, that has risen in the past. Seniors on fixed incomes, who as everybody knows have been faced with paying ever-growing education levies, will benefit from our changes to what level of government delivers that service. I think we all know how many seniors have approached us in the past and said, "Take the education costs off." You heard it; I heard it.

Al Smith, the president of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, which represents almost 500,000 seniors, has indicated support for our government's initiative. I'd like to quote him. He said, "It's something seniors have wanted for quite some time."

Mr Bradley: What date is that?

Mr Boushy: My friend Mr Bradley knows that he has heard it from many seniors who say all the time, "Take the education costs off." You know that's correct and I know that's correct. Education costs have been out of control for a decade.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Sarnia, take your seat for a moment. Would the members please come to order so I can hear the member for Sarnia. Thank you.

Mr Boushy: The facts are that between 1985 and 1995 total student enrolment increased by only 16%, inflation increased by about 40%, but school board spending increased by 82% and property taxes went up by more than 120%. As a former member of Sarnia city council, I know very well that one of the big frustrations we have had is the education portion of the property tax mill. The boards decided how much more they wanted to spend --

Mr Gerretsen: Everybody agrees on that, Dave; it's the other side we're talking about.

Mr Boushy: Now hold on. As you know and as I know, the board of education decides how much money you have to collect. They give the bill to the municipalities and the municipalities collect and take the blame. You know that and I know that. It's a huge burden on them and it's a burden that residential property taxpayers should not have to bear. By taking over this huge expense, our provincial government is removing this burden from municipalities and residential property taxpayers. We will be able to refocus resources in the classroom. In exchange, municipalities are being asked to assume more responsibility for social assistance, which I want to stress is a declining expense.


Mr Boushy: I want to quote what somebody said in my own riding in Lambton county. The social services director, Ken Dick, noted almost immediately after the announcement was made -- and it was quoted in the Sarnia Observer; my friends there read it.


Mr Boushy: I'll tell you that the sign held up by the opposition, "Boushy Blasts Health Minister," is misleading. The opposition knows that the Minister of Health happens to be one of my favourite ministers. I have every confidence in him and you know that. I told you that.

I want to go back to Ken Dick. He said, "Quite frankly, I am pleased with the fact that delivery has been moved to a single tier. Combining the two programs and delivering them at the local level will mean better management and service. I think the client will know who is responsible for the program."

This is an article from the London Free Press this morning, February 1. Let me quote from it:

"The head of social services and employment for London says transferring responsibility for welfare to the city could be a positive development and allow a more seamless delivery of service. This will be accomplished by eliminating duplication and overlap and creating more competitive environments for delivery of services and more creative forms of organization and cooperation among municipalities."

I believe the changes are important and long overdue. We all know that the system no longer works and people don't know who to hold accountable. That's why this government was formed by the people of Ontario, who agreed the problem had to be tackled, something had to be changed.

At the provincial level we'll continue to provide leadership in such areas as policy development, standards and giving legislation to the people who need it. But where it makes sense for the province to take total responsibility for finances and providing services to citizens, where it makes sense for the councils and municipalities to be the primary provider, they should take over. Where it makes sense for the province and municipalities to share in the funding and provision of services, we are ready to fund our portion, and so are the municipalities. They have the capabilities to carefully manage new program responsibilities and they have plenty of opportunities to pass along tax cuts to residents and savings to businesses.


Now that we are clearly defining who is responsible for what, I think taxpayers and voters will be putting more pressure than ever on all levels of government, including members of their own city councils. We're starting with a simplified arrangement between the province and municipalities. This will create, in my opinion, a delivery system that will provide higher-quality services at less cost to the taxpayers.

Let's move to the funding of welfare. I want to remind you again that of caseload has dropped significantly since we took office. It will be shared on a 50-50 basis. This fair division of costs will also give municipalities an incentive to implement effective and productive workfare programs.

This province will continue to play a large role in child care. We'll cost-share the program 50-50 and we'll set comprehensive provincial quality and safety standards to safeguard our children.

Building on reforms already made in long-term care, the next step is the creation of a new provincial long-term care agency. The agency will coordinate the system with province-wide standards, and councils and municipalities and the province will share in the funding for these services.

Our government believes that child welfare should be part of a larger system of services for children and children with special needs. This system should be fully funded and managed by the province. We will assume responsibility for full funding of children's aid societies.

Our government knows we have a significant role to play in addressing violence against women, so we'll assume responsibility for full funding of shelters for abused women.

Our government will work closely with the municipalities during this time of change to make sure they receive the training and help needed to assume the new responsibilities. We're also setting up a permanent $1-million community reinvestment fund to ensure that special community needs are met. This replaces and increases by 50% the current municipal support program.

When you add up all these figures on both sides of the ledger, you see that municipalities will have tax room to move, to manoeuvre as a result of the changes we have made. I tell you, as a former member of city council, that we have councils that are responsible, closer to the people. They know the needs of the community as well as or better than you and I do. Let me say they probably manage their money better than the Liberals, and the NDP that held office for the last two terms.

By the year 2000 municipalities should have enough room to reduce property taxes by 10%. If I were still there, I would insist that this be done. I can assure you I have every confidence that it will be done.

We're ensuring that supports are in place as we make these fundamental changes, and we're ensuring that resources will be used to the maximum benefit of every community through a plan that's more responsive to local needs because services will be delivered by the level of government best suited to meet the needs of the people who use the services. From now on the people of Ontario will benefit from smaller, simpler, more accountable and less costly government.

Mr Bradley: I'm going to be uncharacteristically brief because I want to share some time with my colleagues, but I nevertheless will be succinct in my comments because all of this downloading is causing great distress to the people of the Niagara region and indeed to the people across this province.

The so-called favour that the provincial government is doing for the regional municipality of Niagara and the various municipalities such as St Catharines will cost $73 million to the people of St Catharines and area, a 16% increase in taxes, $310 for the average Niagara household. If you think you're doing them a favour, you are not, and I can't wait to see the faces of the Tory councillors, both at the local level and the regional level, when they see what you're doing to them, because that will put them to the test. They will have to either defend the local municipality or apologize for the Harris government.

I'm confident all of my good friends who are Conservatives in the local councils will stand up for their local municipalities and not simply apologize for a government that is taking money from the municipal level; in other words, imposing taxes of a regressive kind that do not take into account a person's ability to pay and giving it back to rich people through the income tax scheme, which most people consider to be bizarre at this time, including some members of the government caucus.

So when the people see the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines under threat of closing, the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, the Port Colborne Hospital, the Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Hospital, all of these because of a $44-million cut in hospital funding being threatened now, they are going to be extremely unhappy. I'll be looking forward to my colleagues from the Niagara region who sit in the Legislative Assembly defending all of these hospitals and their need to the people of our area.

What you have done is you've taken education off the property tax, and no one is objecting to that -- at least few people are -- but that is a very predictable expense now and one that is likely to be stable or even decline because of declining enrolment. But you've thrust on to the municipalities all those costs which are either unpredictable or very likely to rise substantially. That's why it's going to cost our municipality and others so much more money.

I well recall Mike Harris during the election campaign, when asked by Robert Fisher of Global TV during the leaders' debate, "So, does this mean you're going to close hospitals?" Premier Harris -- then Conservative leader Harris -- said, "We have no plans to close hospitals." Well, that's going to be a surprise to the people of Lambton or St Catharines or other parts of the Niagara region, or Hamilton or all the other areas where you're closing hospitals or bleeding them dry simply by taking away their funding. Meanwhile, the government members thump their desks and clap for the crew that's the cabinet and the advisers when I believe they should be fighting for their own municipalities, and I hope they will.

So when I look at the crazy tax scheme that you have, when I see the property tax which is going to do nothing but increase, I start to agree with David Crombie, who has been commissioned by this government to give some advice, when he says: "I don't think there's a soul left standing that actually agrees with them. In our final report, we wanted to make sure people understood that burdening municipalities with the cost of social services was absolutely the wrong thing to do. The only way they can deal with an increasing welfare case load or any long-term care is either cut service or raise taxes, which either means you're going to hit the poor or drive out business. This is not an appropriate public policy." I agree with David Crombie when he says that.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I welcome the opportunity to join in today's debate on the motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, a motion which I believe characterizes what we have come to expect from the official opposition: a criticism of the government's actions without suggesting an alternative.

The Leader of the Opposition has called on the government to develop alternatives that don't cost taxpayers more dollars and to develop these alternatives in consultation with municipalities. That is precisely what this government is doing. We are introducing changes and reforms that will help municipalities in this province to deliver services more efficiently, with less waste, less complication and less duplication. Many reforms we are introducing were recommended by the Who Does What panel, a panel made up of representatives from municipalities throughout the province.

Many of the changes we have introduced grant municipalities the powers they have been asking us to give them for years. The impetus of this change is also important. It is something that previous governments at various levels have refused to recognize in the past: that there is only one taxpayer in the province, that tax dollars don't have to be passed through layer after layer of government and bureaucracy, and most importantly, a commitment to give taxpayers the best value for their dollar.

On education we have begun this transition period by taking education off the property tax bill. It will relieve the taxpayers of more than $5.4 billion. In the past 10 years we have seen school enrolment increase by 16%. At the same time school board spending has increased by 82% and taxes have gone through the roof by more than 120%.

We have started by taking $5.4 billion off the property tax bill, a share of the tax bill that has been growing at an average rate of 5% a year for the last 10 years. But removing education from property tax isn't just about giving taxpayers a break, although it has been welcome news, particularly for those senior citizens who have been asking us to take education off their property tax bill for years.

The people of Ontario have made it known that education should be fair and equitable for all children of this province, that they want an education system that treats students living in northern or rural communities, like Alcona Beach or Minesing in my riding, the same way as students living in suburbs or inner-city neighbourhoods. By taking education off the property tax base we are ensuring that all children in Ontario get the same opportunity for a first-rate education and the same chance to move to the head of the class.

We are also removing the power of school boards to grab taxes to pay for lavish board offices, salary increases and perks for trustees.

Not only are we restructuring how education will be funded, we are introducing reforms that will improve what our students are learning by introducing standardized testing and a focus on the basics of reading, writing, math and science.

On welfare, the leader of the official opposition has also spoken of the reforms we've introduced with respect to how social services like welfare are funded. First let's put these reforms in an historical context by looking at how social services used to be funded.

The federal government used to fund 40% of welfare costs while the provincial government paid 40% and municipalities paid the remaining 20%. The federal government no longer funds this service, so we have proposed a 50-50 cost-sharing between the province and municipalities. The new system will be easier to understand for the people who need to use it. The current system has been complex and forces people to know whether to go to the city office, the county office or the provincial office. Our changes will streamline that.

As a safeguard against unforeseen tough economic times, the province is establishing a social assistance reserve fund for communities that find themselves in this situation. We are starting this fund by making an initial contribution of $700 million. The province will continue to fund services for children and women's shelters.

On revenue-sharing, to assist municipalities we are allowing them to share in the revenues generated from fines collected under the Provincial Offences Act, something they've been asking us to do for many years.

In my riding the city of Barrie has long asked for this opportunity, and we are asking all taxpayers to pay for policing, which makes the system more fair. Currently only 85% of municipalities pay for police services.

On municipal governance and amalgamation, I believe that most municipalities have demonstrated that they are capable of spending tax dollars responsibly. Take the city of Barrie, for example, in my riding of Simcoe Centre. Barrie is the fastest-growing region in the country, with its population expected to almost double in the next 15 years. As a city councillor in Barrie I worked to bring in zero-increase budgets for taxpayers while making sure taxpayers could count on good services.

Municipalities have proven they are capable of better service delivery, and reforms we have announced with respect to amalgamation and election finances, for example, will help them to do just that.

We have also heard the opposition criticize amalgamation and the notion that a unified city of Toronto is less attractive than seven competing neighbouring cities. This is an argument I find hard to accept. If done properly, which I know is everyone's objective, residents can expect better services for their tax dollars.

In my own riding of Simcoe Centre, municipalities have proven that change is possible and that amalgamation of service delivery can have benefits for taxpayers. On its own initiative, the county of Simcoe underwent restructuring in 1993. The county restructured from 28 to 16 municipalities. These changes considered complex issues, just as the seven cities in Metro will have to face, such as roads, sewers, water, garbage pickup, urban planning etc. In Simcoe county local politicians were able to address all these issues, including the need to accommodate rural and urban interests.

Even more recently, the towns of Innisfil and Bradford-West Gwillimbury merged their police forces to form the South Simcoe Police Service. These are two municipalities with many different interests, an argument we often hear as a reason against a unified Metro. Take Bradford-West Gwillimbury, not far from Newmarket, the home of the Holland Marsh, Ontario's agricultural heartland; and take Innisfil, a string of several smaller municipalities on the south shore of Lake Simcoe with year-round and seasonal residents. At first glance these are two municipalities that don't seem to have much in common, but local politicians had the vision to recognize that a unified police force can provide better service at lower cost to taxpayers.

We are now asking the seven cities in Metropolitan Toronto to go through the same process. We have heard the opposition criticize the notion of a unified city but we haven't heard any alternatives for how these seven cities can work more closely together. As it stands now we have one urban community that is governed by seven city councils, seven parks and recreation departments, seven planning departments, six fire departments and seven mayors, yet these cities already share policing and transportation. What is the rationale that other services can't be shared?

On property taxes, we've also seen the opposition's resistance to property tax assessment reform. We have discrepancies in Ontario that are costing $100 million in lost revenues each year because of appeals in Metro Toronto.

Today's system is hardly fair to taxpayers. In my own riding, municipalities use different years of assessment to tax residential property. If you live in Barrie, you pay based on 1984 rates. If you live in Springwater, you pay based on 1992 rates. If you live in Innisfil, Bradford-West Gwillimbury or Essa, however, it gets a little bit more complicated. Residents in old West Gwillimbury, now part of Bradford, pay based on 1975 rates, their neighbours in the already existing area of Bradford pay based on 1980 rates, while New Tecumseth residents pay based on 1984 rates. In Innisfil, taxpayers pay based on 1992 rates, but in nearby Essa you can be paying based on 1940, 1984 or 1980 rates, depending on whether or not you live in old Essa, the former part of Innisfil or Sunnidale township. This is just a glimpse of one small part of the province.

In Toronto, however, we know that the problem is even more pronounced. We have a system that sees some owners in some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Toronto pay property taxes based on assessments made shortly after the Second World War, while young families starting out in the GTA pay today's market rates.

We have become accustomed to the opposition criticizing the government's actions, which as we know is the opposition's job to do, but the opposition has fallen short of its responsibilities. It has called on the government to consult with municipalities, which we have done. It has asked the government to introduce reforms that won't increase costs for taxpayers, which we have done. It has called on the government to be fair, which we have done, by funding education equally throughout the province, by requiring everyone to pay their fair share of police costs and by reforming the property tax system so that no matter where you live, you pay based on the same rules.

The opposition has called on the government to follow the principles of disentanglement, which we have done by streamlining service delivery and giving municipalities greater freedom to work together to deliver those services. The Golden task force report on the GTA found that, "We have reached the point where the status quo is no longer an option. The GTA needs comprehensive change on a number of fronts. Without it, the region's economic competitiveness and prosperity will decline."

The changes we have introduced indicate that we are not satisfied with the status quo and that we have recognized that we must move forward to ensure economic competitiveness in Metro, in the GTA and in the rest of the province. The government is working to provide solutions for Ontario, solutions to get this province working again. I look forward to working with the municipalities in my riding as we embark on this exciting change.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I am pleased to speak to today's opposition motion. It gives me the opportunity to tell many other Ontarians the kind of information that we heard about. Right in my own town, in Windsor, we had a task force head to Windsor on Friday and we heard some very fascinating information. I guess the summary of that is quite simple: "Tories Put Taxpayer on Hook." I think that says it all.

Of all the speakers today of the government party, what they fail to mention is the significant property tax explosion that will result from the actions that the government has announced this month. We know in Windsor, we know in LaSalle, that this eventually will be the case.

I'd like to specifically mention the city administrator of LaSalle, who took the time to come to speak to the panel in Windsor and talk about just one road transfer, a portion of Highway 18. It's an eight-kilometre stretch. They have been given a one-time grant of about $500,000. They have just a brief estimate of what it would cost to bring that road even to a minimum standard. The cost of doing that is $1.5 million. Ken Antaya made an estimate that just for that one stretch of road that has been dumped on the town of LaSalle, we are looking at a property tax increase in the town of LaSalle of 7% to 8% over the next 10 years. Again, that's just to bring it up to the most minimum standard.

The government makes the argument that it's just a local road. The reality is that 75% of people on this stretch of Highway 18 are from other parts of the county, so clearly that is not the case. We have been besieging the minister's office with information more and more about just this one road being dumped, because just one road is costing a significant increase in property tax of 7% to 8% per year for the next 10 years, never mind everything else you've been dumping on the cities and towns across Ontario.

If I may speak to the health system in Windsor, we are going to be saddled with additional costs in Windsor and Essex county for long-term health. If the government members understood how critical a situation we currently have in Windsor and Essex county where health care is concerned, I think they would fear having to come to Windsor and perchance falling sick and ending up in one of our hospitals. It is clearly the case that we have hit a disaster, and it is the responsibility of the Minister of Health to look seriously at Windsor and area to see what kind of funding mechanism is a responsible way to equitably fund people who live in Essex county for health services.

Just as a summary, I would like to mention one individual who spoke to us very eloquently, John Curran in the county of Essex, the city administrator for Essex. This gentleman participated on the Who Does What subpanel relating to social services and the dumping of those on the community. The entire subcommittee was so surprised by the outcome, that this was actually dumped, he was speechless. What he said in brief about the Who Does What exercise was, "What has recently been described by Premier Harris in one of his television spots as a complex and dilapidated wire system can now be depicted as a bowl of spaghetti." Here's a gentleman very well known in our community and an avid participant of your subcommittee, and you refuse to acknowledge that this gentleman made sense.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I rise and I am glad to have this opportunity to speak in favour, of course, of our motion.

Mr Hardeman: In favour? Surely not.

Mr Cordiano: Of course, it's a surprise to the members opposite why we would be condemning them for their shortcomings. It is obvious that this government hasn't taken the events of the last couple of weeks very seriously. In fact, they completely ignore the realities that we have put forward, trying to outline for them the fact that they are completely obliterating the kind of quality of life that we've seen in this province developed over not just one generation, but several generations: hospitals being closed at the mere whim of a minister who says, "We have to close these hospitals because we have to save X number of dollars." Why? So that this government can then bring about its 30% income tax cut.

David Crombie on the Who Does What panel, the architect of that plan, has told this government that their dumping on to municipalities of social costs, social housing, long-term care and payments for social assistance is completely wrongheaded. It's the worst thing that could come about in this province, in the history of this province. It is so fundamentally flawed that the Metro board of trade saw fit to condemn this government for its plan to move in that direction. No less than the Metro board of trade, which has supported this government with the rest of its agenda, says this is the worst thing that could happen to Metropolitan Toronto. They are ignoring the advice of expert after expert who say that this downloading will result in municipalities being crippled and unable to meet those obligations in the future.

So I just conclude by saying this government isn't listening, and it's no surprise that they're not listening. They're putting forward this terrible ad campaign that perpetuates and continues to propagandize the Tory agenda, trying to sell this terrible idea to Ontarians.

Mr Agostino: Madam Speaker, I've heard a number of my colleagues across the floor talk about the educational component of the moves and the announcements that were made. It's almost as if they have come up with a brain wave and figured out that people don't want to pay education taxes through their property taxes and this was the answer to all of that.

But what the members across the floor are not telling you very clearly is the tradeoff involved here. One can argue legitimately that education is not going on property taxes. One can argue that hard services at the municipal level belong on property taxes: roads, sewers, infrastructure. Those types of tradeoffs are legitimate and fair tradeoffs that can occur.

What is unfair and what has happened here with this massive downloading is, anybody in their right mind who believes that long-term care somehow belongs on the backs of municipal property taxpayers -- that same senior citizen who does not want to pay for education, who you believe is now going to be relieved, that same senior citizen now has to pay for social services, has to pay for long-term care, has to pay for GO trains, has to pay for ambulance services, has to pay for local health services. You have taken away a cost that is relatively stable and you've imposed on the backs of taxpayers at the local level costs that cannot be controlled.

Long-term care: We have an aging population. We know that the cost of long-term care is going to increase. The members across the floor keep talking about this being revenue-neutral. Maybe you can tell the residents of my community how this is going to be revenue-neutral. We're talking about $121 million added to the backs of taxpayers in Hamilton-Wentworth as a result of your government.

Frankly, it isn't only the council whiners, as your Premier likes to call them. It's not those council whiners only; it's members of your own caucus. The members from Hamilton West, Hamilton Mountain and Wentworth East have expressed concerns about what your government is doing. The regional chairman who sat on the who does what to whom panel has expressed concern. Conservative members of the city council have expressed concern. Are they all wrong? Are they all a bunch of whiners? Are your members of the Legislature on the government side of the House in Hamilton-Wentworth who have complained today wrong? Are they whiners? I don't think so.

Clearly what you have undertaken here is the most massive downloading in the history of this province. You have put the senior citizens in jeopardy, you have put health care in jeopardy, you have put long-term care in jeopardy. This is going to come back to haunt you. You think you can basically pull a fast one on people. You think they're going to blame the municipal councillors, "It's not us, it's the local municipalities." I can tell you, the people of Ontario are brighter than you give them credit for and this is going to come back and lead to the downfall of this government in four years. You're going to regret the fact that you imposed $425 per taxpayer on my municipality. You continue to screw people across Ontario and you'll pay a hell of a political price for it.

Mr Gerretsen: The government members would like us to believe that the whole measure of taking the education costs off the property tax roll and adding on these other costs is a revenue-neutral process. We all have our own rhetoric about this and we all have our own propaganda about this, and I'll admit that, but what I will also say is that the independent treasurers and CAOs of the various municipalities across Ontario have done their own cost analysis. They're not members of your party and they're not members of my party. What conclusion have they come to? They've come to the conclusion that in the city of Kingston, for example, it's going to cost $23 million more; city of Brantford, $18 million more; city of Thunder Bay, $15 million more; Peterborough, $13 million --

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Your own mayor told me that is speculative.

The Acting Speaker: Attorney General, come to order.

Mr Gerretsen: Owen Sound, $2 million; Metropolitan Toronto, $387 million.

Hon Mr Harnick: It came out of your own mayor's mouth. Go have a chat with your mayor.

Mr Gerretsen: The Attorney General says this is all speculation. This is the best speculation that is possible under the circumstances. They have taken the costs of all these services and --


The Acting Speaker: Attorney General, come to order.

Mr Gerretsen: They've taken the costs in one year that were provided by both the province and the municipalities, and have simply done the transfers you've done and come up with these additional costs that it's going to cost on the property tax roll. That's a fact. That is not somebody's propaganda; that is the fact that the treasurers of this province in the various municipalities have come up with.

Let's take a look at the resolution itself. What does the resolution say? The resolution states that the government reconsider its decision to transfer the $6.4 billion, to develop alternatives, to not add any extra costs to municipalities. You're saying it is not adding any extra costs to municipalities, so what do you have against voting on that particular resolution? It's doing exactly what you're saying all along, that it wouldn't add any extra costs to municipalities.

The second part of it is to "follow the principles of disentanglement in moving hard service costs to municipalities and soft service costs to the province." Every study that's ever been done in this country and elsewhere clearly indicates that municipal costs should be those services that are hard services that are being delivered in municipalities and the province should pay for the soft services. Every study from David Crombie and any other study that's been done in this province clearly indicates that.

What's the third point of our resolution? The third point merely states that whatever the principles are, they be "developed in true consultation with municipalities and agencies to ensure that local property taxes do not increase." You're the government that's talked about a lot of consultation. You haven't done very much of it, but you've done a lot of talking about it. Why are you against this resolution, when every one of the three criteria of the resolution is exactly what you've been preaching all along.

The real reason of course is that you know and I know that what you're really trying to do here is download uncertain costs in the future to municipalities, to a system that you know as well as I do is a regressive tax system. Municipalities simply will not have the ability to react as quickly to any sudden changes as a result of major layoffs, as a result of additional welfare costs that may have to be paid in that particular municipality. That's what this is really all about. Rather than being upfront about it and honest about it, you should tell the people of Ontario that, yes, you cannot agree with this resolution because your scheme in effect does increase the property tax rolls in this province.

The Acting Speaker: Mr McGuinty has moved opposition day number 2. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

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

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1755 to 1800.

The Acting Speaker: Members take their seats, please.

Mr McGuinty has moved opposition day motion number 2. All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time until counted by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Gerretsen, John

McLeod, Lyn

Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

Miclash, Frank

Bisson, Gilles

Gravelle, Michael

Morin, Gilles E.

Boyd, Marion

Hoy, Pat

Patten, Richard

Bradley, James J.

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Brown, Michael A.

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Caplan, Elinor

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Ruprecht, Tony

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Sergio, Mario

Cordiano, Joseph

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley

Wildman, Bud

Curling, Alvin

Martin, Tony

Wood, Len

Duncan, Dwight

McGuinty, Dalton


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time until counted by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Harnick, Charles

O'Toole, John

Baird, John R.

Harris, Michael D.

Palladini, Al

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Hodgson, Chris

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Jackson, Cameron

Ross, Lillian

Brown, Jim

Johns, Helen

Shea, Derwyn

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Spina, Joseph

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Sterling, Norman W.

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Klees, Frank

Tascona, Joseph N.

Eves, Ernie L.

Leach, Al

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Leadston, Gary L.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Martiniuk, Gerry

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Maves, Bart

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Murdoch, Bill

Wood, Bob

Gilchrist, Steve

Mushinski, Marilyn

Young, Terence H.

Hardeman, Ernie

Newman, Dan


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 35; the nays are 53.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

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

The House adjourned at 1804.