36th Parliament, 1st Session

L160 - Tue 11 Feb 1997 / Mar 11 Fév 1997













































The House met at 1331.




Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): An overflow crowd at the Local 199 Canadian Auto Workers' hall last Thursday evening informed the local hospital restructuring committee in no uncertain terms that they want to see the Hotel Dieu Hospital remain open and continue to provide the excellent care that it has for so many years to Niagara residents.

Patients, doctors, nurses, ambulance attendants and others who care passionately about high-quality health care in Niagara made compelling cases against the recommendation to close the Hotel Dieu and shared with the committee their experiences with the caring, concerned hospital.

They also remembered the Premier's promise of the last election campaign when he said, "Certainly it is not my plan to close hospitals." They were also concerned about privatization of services as they saw ambulance services being dumped on the municipalities, and today we learn that a giant US ambulance service is moving into Ontario by forming a new company with seven privately run services already here, including one in Port Colborne.

Rural/Metro is the second-largest ambulance provider in the United States. The company provides emergency services to more than 200 communities. This will be the first expansion into Canada.

"`The province should intervene now and not let the deal go through,' said Henry Bosch, whose local represents ambulance attendants out of the Hotel Dieu Hospital. `It definitely wouldn't be right to bring a US corporation into Canada,'" and I agree.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Today I want to talk about the hospital cuts. On January 31 the Minister of Health proudly announced a major reinvestment of $61.5 million into Ontario's health care, including $14 million for northern hospitals. That was welcome news indeed for the hospital administrators across northern Ontario.

In Hearst, Hôpital Notre-Dame administrators were relieved at the announcement of $180,000 for their hospital. But the day was not over yet. A few hours later, the administrators of this very same hospital were told by this government that their operational funding would be reduced by $614,770 for the 1997-98 fiscal year. At the same time, Timmins and District Hospital received a so-called windfall of $829,630, but they will have their 1997-98 budget slashed by $2.2 million.

It's the same situation in Kapuskasing, where Sensenbrenner Hospital funding will be cut by $386,445. In the last three years, this hospital alone has seen its budget slashed by more than $1 million. As a result, 30 nurses in Kap and Hearst are out of work, and across my riding it's close to 100 nurses who have been let go by this government. This is the very same government which promised not to cut health care spending.

Minister, your strategy is plain hypocrisy: "Let's keep the public in the dark. Let the people believe we are reinvesting money, that we care about their health care." But after almost two years of broken Tory promises, all Ontarians know by now that you put into one hand and you take more --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I rise today to update the House on the success of Jesse's journey. Jesse Davidson and his dad, John, began a four-month, 3,300-kilometre trek across Ontario on May 20, 1995, to raise public awareness of genetic diseases, with a special emphasis on Duschenne muscular dystrophy which Jesse has. Their journey inspired the whole province and generated more than $1 million for research.

Jesse's famous odyssey has now become an annual celebration; a five-kilometre fund-raising walk through London's Springbank Park on Victoria Day.

The Foundation for Gene and Cell Therapy has announced the creation of post-doctoral research fellowships in the name of Jesse Davidson, a new funding partnership with the Medical Research Council of Canada and a fund-matching agreement with the MRC.

Later today in London, Jesse launches two significant research initiatives with funds generated by his journey. On behalf of the foundation, Jesse will present multi-year funding for specific laboratory studies aimed at a cure for a genetic disease which affects 15,000 North American boys like himself.

I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating the outstanding efforts of Jesse Davidson.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Lately, the strangest thing has happened in Windsor and Essex county: We have had an absolute barrage -- no, a parade -- of ministers from the Ontario cabinet trucking their way down to Windsor, and you wonder if there's a by-election in the offing. May I say that over the last couple of weeks we've had no end of ministers who want to come and grace us with their presence in Windsor-Essex county.

I must say that when the ministers are on their scripts, they're fair, but the moment they decide to open to question and answer, it's an absolute disaster.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Not one question.

Mrs Pupatello: No matter what minister comes down, the one question they're asked is, "What about our health care?" Our Minister of Transportation knows this full well, and the worst part was, you didn't have an answer.

I personally would like to invite the Minister of Health to come down to Windsor-Essex county, not just any time but in the very near future. This Thursday, we have a town hall in the auditorium of Windsor Western Hospital Centre, where this government is forcing the closure of our emergency unit before any other services for emergency are available to pick up the slack.

I welcome the Minister of Health to come to Windsor. I want him in that auditorium. The people in Windsor-Essex deserve that. We don't want this parade of any old minister; we want the health minister and we want him in Windsor this Thursday at 7:30 pm.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Yes, the federal Minister of Health. Let's get him there. I'm with you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The members for High Park-Swansea and Brampton North, please come to order.

Mr Shea: You couldn't see my lips move.

The Speaker: I didn't see your lips move but I heard your voice.

Statements, member for Etobicoke-Humber. Oh, I'm sorry, Member for Etobicoke-Humber. I apologize. I got out of order there. I was distracted. Member for Riverdale.


The Speaker: They'll work the clock.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I attended another very large mass meeting last night against the megacity in Toronto. There seemed to be about 2,000 people there.

I want my constituents in Riverdale to know there's lots of activity right here in Riverdale. Jack Layton, Peter Tabuns and I have held two meetings already, with large turnouts, and I want people to know that on Thursday, February 13, there are two very important meetings happening in Riverdale. At 6 o'clock at Frankland school there is a meeting of people. Parents and other interested people are coming together to talk about how to fight Bill 104, the education bill. At 7:30 there's another big anti-megacity meeting. People can come if they have questions, because some of the Tory propaganda is working on some people. If you have some questions, come out and ask. It's going to be very exciting. Moxy Früvous, a well-known band -- three of the four members are good friends of mine and live in Riverdale -- will be there to open, and I believe Arlene Mantel is going to sing a few songs at the end.

I should not forget to mention that tonight in East York I will be attending a meeting. I believe John Parker, the member for East York, will be at that meeting tonight as well. It's going to be at Bennington Heights public school. It starts at 7:30. I look forward to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): As a member of this Legislature, I rise today to recognize a constituent in Etobicoke who was recently distinguished by B'nai Brith Canada for his community service, Mr George Chuvalo.

Known in this country as a boxing champion, he is also a champion of a different kind. As a result of tragically losing loved ones, he has taken it upon himself to educate today's youth about the terrible world of drug abuse. Last week Mr Chuvalo received B'nai Brith Canada's National Community Service Award. The award is in recognition of his strength and determination of character and courage in overcoming his personal tragedy.

By speaking out and educating young Canadians about the dangers of drug abuse, George Chuvalo has reached out to the hearts and minds of our youth.

I know the Minister of Correctional Services has expressed appreciation to Mr Chuvalo about his interest in bettering the lives of others and welcomed a presentation to those under the ministry's supervision.

I too am grateful to Mr Chuvalo for the contribution he is making towards improving the livelihood and future of young Canadians. It is commendable that the B'nai Brith has recognized George Chuvalo for his work in the community. I ask that members of this Legislature show how much we appreciate his efforts as well.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'm pleased to rise in the Legislature today to announce that the Ontario Liberal caucus strongly supports maintaining our educational network, TVOntario, as a publicly owned and funded broadcaster.

We all believe that Ontarians are proud of TVO/TFO, and the extraordinary response it continues to receive during its membership drives is a strong reflection of that support. Some 70% of the award-winning network's programming is composed of quality non-commercial educational and children's programs. Meanwhile TVO continues to increase self-generated revenues, reduce administrative costs, increase membership sales, develop private sector partnerships and move towards making elements of its program day self-financing.

Our Liberal caucus supports those moves and recognizes that their continued effort to reduce their dependence on government funding should be applauded, but there is no question that TVO is an international success story that should be publicly maintained. Over 136 countries have purchased TVO programs, and all across Canada and around the world the quality of their programming is renowned and much celebrated.

It should also be noted that TVO plays an especially important role in northwestern Ontario communities, including its role in maintaining Wawatay Native Communications from Sioux Lookout.

Unlike this government, which continues to hedge its bets for this truly public asset, my colleagues in the Liberal caucus categorically support the continuation of a publicly owned and funded TVO.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The Minister of Education and Training is afraid of real dialogue with the public about his massive changes to the school system in Ontario. Tomorrow the minister is expected to appear at a town hall meeting in the evening in Sault Ste Marie. The organizers, Public Education Partners, have said that questions must be submitted in writing beforehand. This format will not permit real dialogue. It's a sham.

Parents have questions about increased class sizes and other changes related to this government's cuts to education, but the education minister goes out to meet the public only when the dialogue is safely scripted. What is he afraid of?

We saw this same kind of thing two weeks ago in Toronto, when the High Park-Swansea Conservative MPP invited select participants to a meeting with the minister. Members of the local PTA and the school council were forced to crash the meeting, which was to be videotaped for use in government propaganda. There's one reason why the minister does not want to engage in real discussion: He's afraid of questions from students, parents, teachers, support staff, trustees and others who know that the Conservatives' real agenda is to get control of spending in education so they can cut another $1 billion from education to help pay for their tax scheme for the rich.

Is the minister prepared to meet with students and others to talk in a real way about education, or not?


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): I wish to bring to the attention of the Legislature and all Ontarians the achievement of Stephanie Partridge of Marmora, Ontario, the silver medalist in the junior division of the Canadian National Figure Skating Championships, held in Vancouver, British Columbia. I'm sure many of the members were able to watch the championships on television this past weekend.

Stephanie Partridge, a 16-year-old from the small town of Marmora, Ontario, represented her town and the province of Ontario at this world-renowned competition. She placed first after the very difficult technical round, third after the free skate and second overall. This was Stephanie's first year of competition at the junior level and her first time at the Canadian national championships. Her superb results in this and previous competitions are proof that excellence can be found and fostered in small towns and communities across Ontario.

Stephanie has been invited to attend an international invitational competition in Europe in early April, and next fall it is expected she will represent Ontario and Canada in international competitions at the world championship level.

Stephanie's family, her coaches and the community of Marmora are very proud of her accomplishments. She is also very excited about her prospects at the international level and I know that every member of this Legislature joins me in wishing her the very best in her future competitions.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. Premier, with your government it's hard to tell the difference between an announcement, a trial balloon and just plain wishful thinking. On Friday your finance minister said the cuts were over and he said it was time to start spending money on health and education. You yourself, Premier, told a radio caller, upset about the conditions her grandmother faced in hospital -- required that you spend more money on health care. You yourself said that.

I want to ask you, Premier, is there going to be more money for health and education? Is the cutting done? Have you finally realized that your cuts are causing harm to our students in their classrooms and our patients in their hospitals?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): If you'd like specifics, I'll ask the Minister of Finance in subsequent questions to give you the specifics. But let me assure you of this: As we committed to in the Common Sense Revolution, as we committed to in the campaign, there have not been nor will there be any cuts to health or classroom education.

Mr McGuinty: I'm not sure where the Premier has been, but he has quite obviously not been inside an Ontario classroom for some time and he has not been inside an Ontario hospital for quite some time.

Let's go back to the issue I raised earlier. In Canada's largest daily, the Toronto Star, on Friday, February 7, the headlines rang out: "Government Can Start Spending Again, Eves Says." "Boom Time, Say Tories: Extra $1.3 Billion Can Go to Cities, $500 Million to Health, Education."

Yesterday I raised the tragic story of the conditions a man faced in an Ontario hospital during his dying days, and I find it ironic that on the same day your finance minister was saying your cuts were over, your health minister was finalizing his plans for $435 million in new cuts to Ontario hospitals.

Can I tell the sick people in our hospitals and their loved ones that your cuts to hospitals are over, that you understand the gravity of the mistake you made and that cuts are over when it comes to hospitals?

Hon Mr Harris: The first thing I would tell your constituents is that you ought to listen to the Minister of Finance, not the Toronto Star. I think they will get the straight information and the straight goods.

If you have any specific information on the finances -- I think we all clearly understand where we were when we inherited from the NDP. We were spending a little more than a million dollars an hour. We have made dramatic progress: Now we're spending somewhere in the area of $800,000 an hour more than we're taking in, so I think we all acknowledge that we have a little ways to go before we balance the books.

But let me assure you also of this: Yes, we do have some isolated cases of care in health care that we are very concerned about around the province, and this has always been the case, unfortunately. But we're doing something about it. As we make the changes that others have talked about -- that your former minister talked about, the --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, Premier. Final supplementary.


Mr McGuinty: I want to quote from the Toronto Star of the same day:

"Eves said yesterday he believes that more money -- perhaps as much as $1.3 billion -- should be spent to help municipalities cope with the transfer from the province of responsibility for the costs of welfare, social housing, transportation and other services.

"And about $500 million could be used for major reinvestments in health care and education."

Here's a direct quote: "`There's no better way that the government can spend its money than to reinvest in municipal restructuring, in health care...and in education,' he said after providing a legislative committee with a fiscal update for the province."

Either the minister was misleading the media, and thereby the Ontario public, or he was very intent on ensuring that we're going to be getting more money in health care and education. I'm merely raising the question.

Premier, back to you once again. We've heard from your Minister of Finance that there is more money -- there is found money, apparently -- and we're going to stop cutting money to hospitals and we're going to stop cutting money for education. Can you confirm what it is that we're looking at here? Ontarians want to know what's happening.

Hon Mr Harris: Instead of all the speculation, let's go to the source himself, the Minister of Finance.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I'd be more than pleased to answer the question of the leader of the official opposition. His members who were in the committee, Mr Kwinter and Mr Phillips, and everybody who was in the committee will know exactly what I said, and what I said was that because we have approximately $1.2 billion more in revenue this year than we anticipated, we have now decided to increase the restructuring fund from $900 million to $1.8 billion. Of that $1.8 billion, we have already allocated $1.3 billion. I didn't say we had an additional $1.3 billion; I said we've already allocated $1.3 billion in this fiscal year. That leaves us with another $500 million approximately with which we have something to do in the way of restructuring between now and March 31.

Yes, there would be no better way to spend some of that restructuring money than to look at health care restructuring, education restructuring and municipal restructuring in the province. That is what I said last Thursday, and that's --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister of Finance. New question; Leader of the Opposition.

Mr McGuinty: I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy, Speaker. He's on the list to be present.

The Speaker: We'll stand it down? New question; third party.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The minister has made it very clear that the only thing that will stop his megacity steamroller is if people making presentations at the committee come up with new reasons this megacity, mega-taxes approach is not the right way to go.

I've been at the hearings and I'm happy to say that there have been literally dozens of such reasons presented in forceful, convincing and moving presentations from the people of our community.

The minister, I know, has been at some of the hearings and I understand that he's watched the rest on videotape, so I think it's appropriate to hear his reactions to some of those presentations.

I want to start with Professor Peter Russell, a leading expert on the Canadian Constitution. I particularly found Professor Russell's presentation on the constitutional implications very thought-provoking. What was the minister's reaction?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As we have continued to say, we believe the hearings into this process are extremely important and we are paying a lot of attention to them. The member's absolutely correct: I have attended the hearings three times personally and I have watched every session on videotape at home. Many of the presentations have provided a lot of good information, a lot of very thoughtful input into the process, and as we have said, we're sure there will no doubt be some amendments made to this bill as a result of all the changes that have been proposed.

Of course all the members opposite would recognize that there hasn't been a bill, I don't think, ever go through this House that didn't have amendments, and this one certainly won't be any different.

Mr Silipo: The question was, what did the minister think of Professor Russell's constitutional arguments? Let me just summarize the argument Mr Russell presented when he concluded, because the minister obviously has forgotten it, to be kind to him, "I hope that those whom we have elected to govern Ontario for a few years will feel bound by a deeper constitutional obligation to respect the legacy of democratic municipal government that has taken generations to develop," of which Mr Russell, among others, feels you're in the process of dismantling. That's the argument he was making.

We could explore more of his argument, but let's move on to someone the minister might pay more attention to: William Archer, a former Tory municipal councillor and a member of the minister's own Progressive Conservative riding association. Mr Archer told the committee, "This legislation is full of errors, both major and minor." Incidentally, one of the errors he pointed out is that in the schedule that lists the ridings on which the new boundaries are to be based, you've left out Broadview-Greenwood.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Silipo: He also said the legislation contained serious gaps. Do you have any explanation for these serious errors and gaps, Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: Mr Archer also wrote to me directly and I'm well aware of his comments. I don't want to get into the comments of the individuals who were involved, other than to say that everybody who's appearing at the committee is doing so in a very forthright manner and making sure their views are known.

There were two minor errors in the drafting of the legislation. One riding that is within Metro was omitted and a riding that is outside -- York North, I believe -- was added inadvertently. That will be corrected by amendment when the bill comes back.

Mr Silipo: If the minister wasn't in such a rush, mistakes like this and more significant ones than that might not have taken place.

Mr Archer, who incidentally himself studied the restructuring of municipal government in Niagara and talked about the process of time needed to do that effectively, went on to say, "One wonders if the purpose of this legislation is to get rid of some political representatives who have views and ideas that some people don't like."

I want to go on to one other presenter. Lois Corbett from the Toronto Environmental Alliance made this interesting point: "Smaller governments, like smaller ecosystems, can do things. They can change more quickly, they can adapt more quickly, and they can respond to pressing changes in the environment."

If the minister paid any attention to the scope and variety of the presentations at the hearings, he will know that Bill 103 should not be rammed through until these issues have been carefully considered. Minister, you're watching the videotape, but are you paying any attention to what the people are saying in the hearings?

Hon Mr Leach: Certainly we are paying attention to what people are saying, not just in these hearings but what they've been saying for the last decade: There are too many layers of government, there is too much government, there are too many politicians, there is too much waste, there is too much duplication. That's what Bill 103 is addressing. Bill 103 proposes to reduce levels of government, it proposes to reduce the number of politicians, it proposes to reduce waste and duplication that's there at the present time. Having a single-tier local government will resolve most of the problems that are facing us in this area right now.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. I want to ask you about the shocking revelations made on CBC's Marketplace on February 4. This program dealt with the growing trend across Ontario, a trend to replace registered nurses with generic health care workers to provide patient care in Ontario's hospitals.

This trend is only one factor in the mounting concern being expressed everywhere about the declining quality of care patients are receiving in our hospitals. Many professionals and citizens are asking if patients' lives are at risk because lower-paid hospital workers who have previously worked in the kitchen or performed cleaning tasks are being assigned to patient care with only a few weeks' training.

The program gave specific examples: a laundry worker asked to give an insulin injection, call buttons answered by untrained staff. The results have been serious, missed changes in vital signs and infections being only two.

Are you aware that this alarming trend is taking place in hospitals across Ontario, and can you explain to the people of Ontario why it is happening?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): Registered practical nurses and registered nurses are regulated by the College of Nurses, as I think the member opposite knows, and they're accountable to the college for providing quality care. I want to say from my observations and the observations of the Ministry of Health that quality care is being given to the people of Ontario. I have a great deal of respect for RPNs and for RNs and how they are fulfilling their mandate, how they are giving services to the people of Ontario.

I will also say that if the member opposite is concerned that people are being put in places whereby they're not fulfilling their duty, it's an offence for an employer to place a nurse in a position in which that nurse is beyond the scope of their ability. I'm confident in the level of service that's being given to the people of Ontario.

Mrs Boyd: The issue is not about people who are part of the registered health professions. Those people are regulated by the colleges. What we are talking about here is a clear situation where people who are not part of the registered health professions are in fact providing health care.

You say there are rules. It seems to us that no matter what rules or structures a hospital may or may not have in place, this kind of thing, this kind of change, is going on completely unregulated. It's a complaint about who's treating patients and about how much training that worker has, about accidents that are taking place because of improper training where there's no place to take those complaints.

On the Marketplace program it was reported that in the first hospital to try this experiment, Scarborough's Centenary Hospital, there were 12 reports from registered nurses to their College of Nurses about risks in patient care in the first two months, but the college could do nothing about those generic workers because they are not regulated.

Minister, are you going to bring about something concrete? Will you table legislation that will allow for the regulation of all --

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

Hon David Johnson: I have a great deal of confidence in our hospitals to assign duties to the proper individuals. My experience is that the people of Ontario are getting the quality care they deserve. We are trying to improve that care through reinvestments but, none the less, hospitals are coping well with the present situation, are assigning duties in an appropriate fashion, and the people of Ontario are getting the proper care in hospitals either through nursing staff or through the general staff that are available at hospitals.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, 86% of the nurses who work in hospitals say that patient care is suffering, and infection rates are going up in hospitals all over Ontario. In Scarborough recently we know that an entire emergency department had to be shut down for some time.

Your cuts to hospitals imply that 15,000 registered nursing jobs will be lost, and that's a loss to patients of 13 million patient hours. If that's allowed to happen, morbidity rates are going to jump as they have in the United States where the same kind of policy was followed. They only had budget cuts of 5%, and their morbidity rates went up 200% to 400%, depending on the jurisdiction.

You tried to tell the House yesterday that you are confident hospitals can cope by finding administrative savings. Cutting budgets is about cutting staffing. On paper that may qualify as an administrative change, but these are not administrative savings. This is about the safety of hospital patients. We're talking about people's lives. We want to know what you intend to do to make sure that everyone who offers nursing care in this province is one of the regulated health care professionals.

Hon David Johnson: A couple of comments: We are investing in training for nurses in the province of Ontario through McMaster University and through the University of Toronto, some $1.75 million; $7.3 million invested by the Ministry of Health over the next five years in a nurse practitioner education program. So the ministry is investing in nurses.

Secondly, hospital administrations and their boards are responsible for ensuring quality standards within their institutions. It's been my observation that those quality standards are being adhered to and the people of Ontario are being well served in their hospitals.

Finally, I will say that there are quality assurance committees in hospitals. Nurses are represented on those quality assurance committees to ensure that proper care is given in our hospitals.

The Speaker: We'll go back to the leader's question. Leader of the official opposition.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Environment. Your government has decided to sell provincial land bordering the Rouge Valley Park to the highest bidder. This land is an agricultural preserve which is currently being used for farming. It provides a green space buffer of 7,600 acres between the Rouge and the growing community of Pickering.

Minister, why did you in your capacity as Minister of Environment consent to the sale of this land, 7,600 acres of green space, without any restriction whatsoever being attached to that land, and in particular no requirement that it be preserved as green space?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): This land and the ownership of this land and the corporation involved with it are under the jurisdiction of the Chair of Management Board, and I'll ask him to respond to the question.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): To the leader of the official opposition, this land is designated as agricultural land under the Durham official plan, under the Pickering official plan. This land is protected by that agricultural designation. This government is happy with that state of affairs. We are fully satisfied that this land is designated as agricultural and fully happy that this land remain in its agricultural designation from now until forever.

Mr McGuinty: I think it's important not to overlook the symbolism of what just happened here. I asked a question relating to our natural environment of the Minister of Environment. He tossed off that question to the Chair of Management Board, who has nothing whatsoever to do with the protection of our natural environment. Let's not overlook how telling an action that was.

I'm going to go back to the Minister of Environment, give him another opportunity. Minister, you know as well as I do that we're not making any more green space in Ontario, and whenever we do improve land or develop it -- develop it is the better word -- we rarely return it back to its original state. That's why it's so very important when we have land that's within our jurisdiction -- this is Ontario land we're talking about here -- that you ensure we preserve it as green space. I understand the need for fiscal responsibility, but not at the expense of our obligation to future generations to protect green space.

Minister, I'm going to ask you again: Do you not think that you have a special responsibility, especially when it comes to land that we own --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Chair of Management Board.

Interjection: How about you pass it back?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Try the Minister of Agriculture.


The Speaker: Order. I appreciate all the help, but the Chair of Management Board can make that decision.

Hon David Johnson: My feelings could be hurt, because I'm very happy to stand here today and say that this land is protected, and as far as the province of Ontario is concerned will stay protected as an agricultural reserve. There are about 130 or 140 occupants: some farms, some residences. What's being done is simply to offer the people who currently rent those properties the opportunity to purchase those properties and to live on them and use them as farms as long as they wish, on into the future.


Mr McGuinty: When it comes to this particular tract of land, I am hoping that years from now, when parents take their kids for a walk, they'll be able to tell those kids that they've got that land and its natural space because the then Minister of Environment, Norm Sterling, had the courage, had the good sense and the foresight to say, "No, you cannot take green space and allow it to be developed."

Back to the Minister of Environment once again -- we'll give him another chance -- Minister, I ask you, will you exercise your proper responsibility in the circumstance and assure us that this land, 7,600 acres of beautiful green space, will be there for generations yet to come because you will not allow it to be developed?

Hon David Johnson: This government absolutely wishes this property be there for future generations. We are bound by the current zoning. We are happy, we're delighted with the current zoning. We want this property to remain in its current state for future generations. We want this property preserved in its natural state, as it is today, with the people who currently live on the site owning it instead of renting it, but to preserve it for future generations so that we can all be happy we have this property preserved.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): My question is to the Premier. Premier, last week your government announced a $15-million advertising plan featuring Mike Harris selling the virtues of Ontario as a place to invest to potential foreign investors. Your strategy, apparently, is to target business executives who fly internationally on the assumption that they may be in a position to implement some investment decisions. Are you not concerned that the controversy over your planned changes to Ontario cities and school boards may negate any potential benefits from your advertising?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): As a matter of fact, while the image we have abroad would not be the primary reason we would want to be more efficient and have a good, strong, vibrant Toronto, I want to assure you of this: What we are doing, to the best of my knowledge, would be tremendously well received in all countries around the world that are looking at Toronto as a strong, vibrant city into the next century.

What I have found they are looking for is this: a government that is open for business, understands business, will deal with red tape, will deal with excessive taxation and will correct the disastrous record of yourselves, the Liberals, and the NDP in the last decade. They're very happy with that.

Mr Kwinter: If I wanted an answer from the Premier, I couldn't have written a better one myself. I want to refer to the Economist. The Premier will know that the Economist is arguably the most influential publication of its kind in the world. It has a less-than-flattering article about you and your proposed changes. Let me read some of the quotes:

"He turned to a much-admired former mayor of Toronto, David Crombie, for advice on disentanglement, then ignored most of what he heard. The overall effects are unknowable, but one is plain: As Ontario's population ages, the call on welfare services will increase, while education costs will lighten."

Here's another one: "The changes on the way are less of a revolution than a whirligig. Whirligigs have a way of spinning out of control and even of savaging the man in charge." The cut line under the photograph reads, "Bomber Harris."

Premier, I'm sure you know that Bomber Harris was the controversial, Second World War head of Bomber Command, who indiscriminately destroyed whole cities. Do you think that being portrayed --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, order.


The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Humber. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I'd like to comment on the member's question, particularly with reference to the advertising campaign, and just remind all members of the Legislature that Gerry Phillips, the Liberal member for Scarborough-Agincourt, commended us for Market Ontario and said what a great campaign it is, and I accept the plaudits of some members of the Liberal caucus for a very encouraging campaign.

What most articles around the world and most business people around the world have been so appreciative of is that we are a government that has been bombing those taxes you people brought in. You, the party that brought in the commercial concentration tax, the tax that went over the top, that cut the heart out of the core of Toronto, have the nerve to stand here while we fix the abysmal record, while we fix this doughnut, this carving out of the very heart and core of Toronto, the awful legacy you left. How you have the nerve to question us as we put --


The Speaker: Order, order. New question, the member for Beaches-Woodbine.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, in October 1995 my colleague from the riding of Hamilton Centre raised the plight of funding cuts to Project First Step, which is a program that helps over 65 single moms every year and assists them in getting off social assistance, back into the workplace or back into school with a budget of only $140,000 for that program.

The then Minister of Community and Social Services, your seatmate, agreed to reinstate that budget cut because, he said: "It is true, it's to assist single moms to enter or re-enter the workforce. I agree wholeheartedly that it is an excellent program." He goes on and he talks about how it's designed to assist young, single mothers to re-enter the workforce and when people get jobs through this program, it helps children and it helps their parents.

Minister, Brock youth services in Barrie runs the exact same program, successfully helps over 75 single moms every year to get the help they need to get jobs, and it had a budget of $97,000 which you cut. You made an exemption for Hamilton. You said it was very good. Why won't you make an exemption for the exact same program in Barrie?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): The member points out quite rightly that the Brock program has certainly served its community very well. There are many programs that are helping youth, that are helping individuals who need assistance in this area. Unfortunately, much as we would like to, we cannot afford to fund them all. We had advised this program from the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- I think it was almost two years ago -- that we would not be able to carry on with that funding.

I would also like to point out that many of these youth employment programs might well be eligible for further support under Ontario Works programs, because youth employment is one of the areas we're trying to make sure we are assisting through Ontario Works as well.


Ms Lankin: Minister, you cut all the community youth support service funding across the province. You made an exemption from that cut for Hamilton. That was your government's decision, and it was the right decision. Let me quote you: "Although the Hamilton program was funded as a CYS program, it is an employment program that assists young single mothers to break their dependence on social assistance. It was therefore exempted from the constraints announced in October." Those are your own words in your letter, Minister.

The Hamilton program is exactly the same as the Barrie program. I've met with the people. I met with four single moms this morning whose lives were turned around by that program, who have broken the cycle of dependency you've talked about. The only difference I can find between the Hamilton program and the Barrie program is that during the 1995 election campaign, the Premier made a photo-op stop in Hamilton. He failed to go to Barrie.

I know you don't believe that those kids' futures should depend on the Premier's photo-op itinerary. Would you agree to go with me to Barrie, to meet these single moms, to see the program and to reinstate the funding?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I thank the honourable member for the question. There is no doubt that this program has helped many individuals get on with their lives. We've certainly heard that message through the local member and through many of the presentations that have been made to us. Unfortunately, we are not able to fund all these programs. We had to make decisions based on which programs were appropriate, based on what's available in the community.

I appreciate that this is a very difficult decision and I can understand that this agency is lobbying very hard to have its funding continue. Unfortunately, we've had to make the decision that that is not the case. I would encourage them to look at other alternatives. I would also encourage them to work through Ontario Works and their community for additional support.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today Mr W.H. Remnant, Clerk of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, and the Manitoba legislative interns. Welcome.


The Speaker: The member for St Catharines obviously is here as well.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Pearson International Airport is a major economic force in our community of Brampton. I know you recently announced a new airport policy for the province, after your extensive hearings with various parties, stakeholders. I'd like to know if you could please clarify for us today exactly what type of development will be allowed to occur in and around Ontario's airports.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member for Brampton North for his very good question. Last week, I announced a new airport policy for Ontario, one which protects the economic viability of our airports and ensures responsible residential development around them. Effective February 1, 1997, new residential development will not be permitted on airport lands that have a noise exposure, contour mapping, of 30 NEF -- that's noise exposure forecast; I knew you were curious.

Incompatible development near airport lands has led to noise problems in those areas and this has caused problems for residential communities as well as for the economic viability of the airport. We will, however, allow commercial and industrial development around airports and we feel this new airport policy will benefit everyone.

Mr Spina: That policy is good news for residents. As the parliamentary assistant for small business, I'm very pleased to hear that there will be an opportunity for development for business, but I wondered if you could give me some specific examples of the economic benefits that airports would have on these local communities.

Hon Mr Leach: I'd be happy to share that information with the member and all of the other members of this House. As usual, the member is absolutely correct: Airports are important generators for jobs and investment in our province. For example, Pearson airport in Toronto provides for 49,500 direct jobs and 26,600 indirect jobs. It also generates approximately $9.7 billion in business revenue. Some 31 million passengers are forecast to use the airport by the year 2005, and when these projections materialize it is estimated that business revenue will increase to $14 billion and the total jobs to 140,000.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Premier. Premier, let me quote to you from a transcript of an interview that you gave on May 21, 1994, when the former government was about to institute ferry fees with respect to some of the island services.

You stated, "Well, it was wrong; the government retroactively changed something that was institutionalized for a considerable period of time, with no impact study, no discussion, with no involvement with the residents." Furthermore, you said: "I don't think it's fair for somebody who lives there and been told by the government it's free to have to use it twice a day to be faced with $1,000 or $1,500 after-tax increase in the cost.... If I was Premier I would bring in an impact study. I would talk to residents. I would say here's where we're at."

Premier, as you know, your government just recently indicated that the ferry subsidies will no longer service about six or seven island communities. What do you have to say to those 3,000 permanent residents who live on those islands now? Will you --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Kingston and The Islands, thank you. Premier.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the question, and you're right: We were concerned when provinces responsible for ferries were making decisions without consultation. As we're now proposing that municipalities be responsible for ferries, I would assume that municipalities would act responsibly if they're going to bring in any fees.

Mr Gerretsen: Mr Premier, you indicated: "If I was Premier I would bring in an impact study. I would talk to residents. I would say here's where we're at." Nobody has spoken to these residents. We're talking about costs of $2,400 per person. Premier, you're travelling about the province, going from place to place, saying that you are keeping your promises. You've got these glitzy television ads saying that you're keeping your promise. Why are you not keeping your promise to these islanders? Why are you breaking this promise that you solemnly made to them on May 21, 1994?

Hon Mr Harris: Through Who Does What, we're turning over the responsibility to the municipalities. We're also giving the municipalities massive tax capacity by taking some $6 billion off the property taxes. We also, through Who Does What, are looking at a number of other changes.

So it would be up to the local municipalities -- the same with policing, the same with the farm tax rebate, the same with a number of the other services that we are trading. We're giving them tax points, and they can come and apply for grants if they feel any of the changes are disadvantaging them more than in other cases. So I would invite Wolfe Island -- perhaps when they analyse all the changes, they'll be in such a massive surplus that they'll build new ferries. I don't know that, though, and they are free to come and let us know and state their case.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question of the Premier. Premier, your Attorney General --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Well, it's kind of mutual. Member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker, and you'll recall that this was to the Premier. His Attorney General has bungled and mismanaged the family support plan from day one. Videotape in November illustrated that very graphically. Notwithstanding his assurances since then that things are better up at the Downsview office, the facts remain that he still continues to supervise an FSP that's in a shambles.

Donalda S. of Toronto, a mother of two, was receiving regular payments for years until October 1996. Since then she's been abused by your family support plan, mismanaged by your Attorney General, and as of today is still owed $813 which the plan has but just isn't capable of releasing to her.

It's your government's decision to shut down eight regional offices and terminate 290 employees and your decision to keep your Attorney General in charge of this plan. It still isn't working. You're still making mothers and their children suffer because of your Attorney General's mismanagement. What are you going to do about that problem?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the member's question. We're all aware of his keen interest in the plan and I would hope, as the plan is gradually improving to a success rate far in excess of when his party was in office but not yet perfect, that the member would be appreciative and supportive of that and supportive of the Attorney General.

With regard to this specific case, clearly not every single one of the cases is being handled at least perfectly as each complainant would like them to be handled. If you have an individual one, if you'd send it over to me, I'll make sure the Attorney General gets it, and with as much dispatch as we can possibly have we'll try and correct that situation.

Mr Kormos: You, Premier, expressed your concern about the condition of the plan back on December 19, 1996. You were distraught about the mismanagement of the plan at that time.

You still should be concerned, Premier, because we've raised case after case after case, and continue to do so, of mothers who don't have the money to feed their kids and to pay rent and pay for utilities, and your Attorney General keeps saying that everything's fine. He doesn't get it, nor do you.

The real crime here is that women and their kids are not getting money that they're entitled to. The women and those kids in Ontario who rely upon your FSP -- and I tell you, there remain thousands of outstanding unresolved cases -- have lost all faith in your Attorney General. Surely you don't think that everything is fine. What do you say now to those women and their kids and what are you going to do about your Attorney General's mismanagement of that very important plan?

Hon Mr Harris: Nobody has said that the plan is fine, that everything is hunky-dory, neither I nor the Attorney General. What we have said is this: that it is far better than it was when you were in government. In January 1995, under the NDP government, $27.5 million sent to families. Now, in 1997, $37.5 million sent to families. But I want to tell you, it is still not perfect. I'll tell you, in spite of the fact that it's not perfect, in spite of all that, we are still working to make it even better. It's far better than it was under your government. Under the Liberals in 1990 it was $8.9 million, so we're about five or six times that.

The enforcement measures that this Attorney General has passed are among the toughest in North America. They've been applauded across the country; they've been applauded across North America. Despite your party's filibustering and slowing us down, he has still brought into place some of the toughest measures in North America, and we're very proud of that.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. As you know, many of my constituents travel the 400-series highway on their way to the greater Toronto area. There are many days when I join them as I travel between Barrie and Queen's Park. During the winter we depend heavily on the Ministry of Transportation's plows, sanders and salters, as this daily commute can be made more difficult by freezing rain, whiteouts, snowstorms and slush.

Many of my constituents believe this vital service has been cut this year. Can you please tell the House if there have been any cutbacks to highway sanding, salting and plowing in the province of Ontario?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to thank the member for Simcoe Centre for the question and I welcome the opportunity to reconfirm that this government remains fully committed to making sure that safety on our highways is done.

Our standards for winter maintenance have not changed. What has changed is the way we deliver them. There have been no changes to the funding levels for winter maintenance from last year to this year. We will spend what we have to spend -- and I said this last year -- to make sure that our roads are plowed.

Mr Tascona: I'm sure my constituents, some of whom have joined me in the House today, will be pleased to hear that vital road-clearing service has not been cut.

Minister, some of my constituents believe that the ministry waits until after the bad weather hits the road before the service starts. Could you please tell the members of this House what criteria your ministry uses to get ministry equipment out on the roads?

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to inform the member that MTO staff and equipment dedicated to the provincial highway system are ready and able to respond as soon as winter conditions are identified. Our weather forecasting equipment and methods get better all the time, and that allows us to call in staff and equipment as needed. When it snows, we are there.

We are always looking, mind you, to improve our effectiveness and efficiency. Besides electronic monitoring, our highways are patrolled by staff to identify problems or situations that may make the roads hazardous. Our objective has been and always will be to salt before ice forms on the pavement --


Hon Mr Palladini: As I was saying, besides electronic monitoring, our highways are patrolled by staff to identify problem areas, to make sure that salting gets done before it freezes and to plow and sand continuously throughout a winter storm. Because of the degree of traffic on the 400-series highways, I can tell the member that the 400-series highways do get special attention.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): My question is to the Minister of Health. Minister, you recently announced your 1997 hospital budget cuts in the amount of $435 million. The Ottawa General Hospital suffered a 9.9% cutback and the Ottawa Civic 7.7%, just to name a few. Our hospital administrators are expected to table their budgets by March 27 of this year, and only a few days later your restructuring commission will table its report to close more hospitals -- maybe two or three -- in the Ottawa-Carleton area.

We don't think it makes any sense that you would ask these people to make budget cuts now. Let me cite you an example of how your budget cuts are affecting my constituents. Mrs Lorraine Ansell who resides in my riding had her heart surgery cancelled twice. Imagine preparing yourself emotionally and mentally not once but twice. Will you not agree --

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

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): The hospital operating program was announced over a year ago by the Minister of Health. It was a three-year program, to the member opposite, that takes into account this fiscal year and the next two fiscal years.


Funding for the Ottawa General Hospital is one of the many hospitals, of course, that went through the JPPC formula, and through a quirk came out a little bit higher cut than it should have, at about 9% that the member alluded to. That has been corrected. The Ottawa General has been informed verbally that no hospital in Ontario will receive a reduced amount beyond 8% and will get confirmation of that.

I say to the member opposite that this government is reinvesting moneys into the hospitals across Ontario, reinvesting in cardiac care, diabetes care, cancer treatment, kidney dialysis. That money is going back into our hospital system.

The Speaker: Supplementary.

M. Grandmaître : Monsieur le Ministre, vous ne semblez pas comprendre le dilemme dans lequel vous placez nos administrateurs dans la région d'Ottawa-Carleton. Ces gens se préparent à fermer une centaine de lits, de limoger de 200 à 300 personnes. Je vous demande de repenser : ne pensez-vous pas que nos administrateurs aient raison de vous demander de retenir les réductions budgétaires avant que votre commission se prononce, oui ou non ?

Hon David Johnson: I have been terribly delighted with the cooperation of the hospitals across Ontario. Some hospitals have reduced management levels, some hospitals have reduced vice-presidents, some have involved early retirement programs for management people, for example. Some hospitals are sharing staff between hospitals, particularly administrative staff, to reduce costs. Some are conserving energy, reducing energy costs. Other have a more effective waste disposal program.

The money is coming out of the system where it's not being put to the benefit of the patient and it's going right back into the system. We are reinvesting that money back into the system, where the patient needs it, in the form of cancer treatment, cardiac treatment, all the other services that are needed for patients. We are putting the patients first.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Premier regarding the family support plan. Your Attorney General recently told this House that as soon as the family support plan receives payment from payors, it's processed and sent to the recipients. He assured this House that this occurs between 24 to 48 hours when the payment is received.

Diane Burke of Sudbury knows better. On January 5 the employer of the payor forwarded the January support payment to the family support plan. The plan cashed the cheque on January 22. Diane's money was not sent to her until February 7, 17 days after it was first cashed by the family support plan. Premier, can you tell Diane Burke why the family support plan held her money for 17 days? And can you tell her why the Attorney General is so out of touch with what is really happening at the family support plan?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the member's question. I know that she too, like her colleague, is very interested in this plan and I think probably helping to encourage us to make the changes from the disastrous mess that was there under the NDP. I appreciate that encouragement. That's the kind of non-partisan support that is important to help us clean up the mess you left, and I appreciate that. As we all know and I think you accept and the stats are out, on average the plan is running so much better than it did when you were there, and everybody knows and accepts that because the facts are the facts.

But there are individual cases, and every individual case concerns us immensely; it concerns me as Premier and it concerns the Attorney General. If you would like to send me the details of the case that you raise -- in some cases the address is wrong, in other cases the forms aren't filled out correctly, in other cases the cheque may come from a different bank, but I have no way of knowing, and I wouldn't comment on an individual case, nor would the Attorney General.

Ms Martel: I should tell the Premier that I already had to raise the case of Diane Burke this fall. She used to receive regular support payments until the cuts you made to the family support plan. When I raised her original case she was three months behind in receiving a payment and she's still having problems.

Your Attorney General also promised to compensate recipients who had to pay additional costs because of late or lost cheques. Specifically he said he would compensate people for penalties for late hydro, telephone, gas and mortgage payments and NSF cheques. But the Attorney General has said he will only compensate people whose cheques were late or lost in September and October.

Suzanne Beauvais's support cheques have been late every single month since you made your cuts to the family support plan. Finally in November she could not make a payment on a personal loan at the CIBC. She has applied for compensation from your Attorney General to pay for that charge. She has been refused because that late payment did not occur in September and October. Can you tell me why this Attorney General is penalizing Suzanne Beauvais?

Hon Mr Harris: I appreciate the member assisting us with individual cases. It's very helpful. It's that spirit of non-partisanship that is so important, and I appreciate it. I know when we used to raise case after case after case, when the plan was such a disaster when you were in government, you didn't seem to appreciate that we were raising them and bringing them to your attention and helping people. But we appreciate it.

We know the system is not perfect. We certainly know we're not perfect. If there are individual cases, even though on average it's so much better than when you were in office, I want to tell you we appreciate your help, and keep up the good work.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In my riding of Durham East there have been concerns by volunteers in the community who would like to spend some of their time volunteering on boards of directors of non-profit corporations like community hall boards, fair boards, minor hockey associations and minor soccer associations, but they're really concerned about the liability and risk in serving as volunteers on these boards. I've been hearing this for many years. Can you do anything about this potential liability?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): The member for Durham East is quite right that many volunteer organizations, many volunteers, whether it's minor hockey or softball or basketball, ratepayers' groups, seniors' groups, have a concern about volunteering to be on their respective boards because of possible liability.

I'm very happy to advise you that under our red tape bill, Bill 117, we will allow these organizations to indemnify people who are volunteering for their boards, and secondly to purchase indemnification insurance to make sure they're not liable.

In addition, we are going to allow non-profit organizations to forego an annual financial audit if all the members agree and if the annual income is less than $10,000. This, in effect, should save the organizations in the neighbourhood of around $2,000 a year, which is better used for serving their communities.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 23(i), in his response to my question, I put to you, sir, that the Premier imputed false motives. He suggested that I filibustered Bill 82. That simply was not the case. The real filibuster was the Premier's in refusing to fire an incompetent Attorney General. That's what caused the problem, and I'd like the opportunity to correct --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Welland-Thorold, I suggest that is possibly an opinion, and they may offer opinions on all sides of this House. I would not suggest for a moment that he imputed motive.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): As you know, there's a campaign on to save TVOntario, and we have petitions coming through.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas TVOntario has served Ontarians of all ages for more than 25 years with quality non-commercial television that continues to focus 70% of its programming on education and children's programming; and

"Whereas TVO is available to 97.4% of Ontarians and for some uncabled communities is the only station available, making it a truly provincial asset; and

"Whereas TVO continues to work towards increasing self-generated revenues;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure that TVOntario continue to be a publicly owned and funded educational broadcaster."

I'm pleased to sign my name to that petition.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This petition is 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 cost to society;

"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 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."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas disabled persons are currently classified under family benefits and the guidelines discriminate against them in some cases;

"Whereas the Tory government has recognized the need to establish a separate category for the disabled, but their failure to do so has resulted in financial hardship to some disabled who have `fallen through the cracks' and had their pensions cancelled under existing guidelines;

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

"The disabled must be allowed the same rights as their non-disabled counterparts: the right to an income and financial independence. The government must establish a separate category for the disabled and separate guidelines for the disabled without any further delay."

I affix my name to the front of the document.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas Ontarians are gravely concerned with the historic $1.3-billion cut to base funding of hospitals; and

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

"Whereas the government is reducing hospital funding and not reinvesting millions of dollars into the communities that they are being taken away from;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the Conservative government to stop the cuts to base funding for hospitals across Ontario and to ensure that community services are in place before the removal of hospital services. The Conservative government must fund hospitals with a funding formula that reflects demographic and regional needs. The Conservative government must ensure that health services are available, including emergency and urgent care, to all Ontarians."

I have attached my name to that petition as well.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the creation of a megacity in Toronto is a smokescreen to hide the downloading of massive costs in health, welfare, housing and other social service costs on Metro and other municipalities; and

"Whereas study after study shows that megacities are more expensive and less effective than smaller, more accountable local governments; and

"Whereas a megacity will create a huge new bureaucracy; and

"Whereas the costs of setting up and running a megacity will force up taxes and rent in Toronto; and

"Whereas a megacity will lead to cuts in libraries, public transit, public health, parks, swimming pools and child care centres; and

"Whereas in disregard of basic democratic principles, the Harris government has acted as if Bill 103 were already law, appointing trustees to oversee the actions of elected public officials, with no accountability to the citizens; and

"Whereas Premier Mike Harris and Municipal Affairs Minister Al Leach, in an arrogant rush to find billions to pay for a phoney tax scheme, have declared that they will ignore the results of the March 3 vote by citizens of Metro Toronto on the megacity;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to listen to the voices of outrage against the megacity legislation, follow the wishes of the public as expressed in the March 3 referendum and go back to the drawing board with local citizens and elected officials to improve local government without downloading costs or creating new mega-bureaucracies."

This is signed by a number of citizens in the city of East York, and I have affixed my signature to the petition as well.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I have the pleasure of presenting a petition today on behalf of 1,500 people in the Peterborough area regarding MRI service in our area. I would like to thank Mrs McConnachie, who looked after and collected many of these names. The petition reads:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas Peterborough has the professionals to qualify as a health leader of the province;

"Whereas we especially have a large number of radiologists and the costs for patients needing MRIs to go to Toronto are escalating;

"Whereas delays in testing are detrimental to the health of patients,

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

"Peterborough, with a base hospital serving 300,000 people, should have the next MRI unit in Ontario."

To that I affix my signature and support this petition.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants and allows for security and stability in their homes and communities; and

"Whereas lifting rent control in Ontario would leave tenants with uncontrollable rent increases and financial instability; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favouring easier and faster evictions by landlords;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to save rent control."

I, along with the hundreds of residents of 8575 Riverside Drive East in Windsor's Shoreline Tower, affix my signature in support of this petition.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I have a petition 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 Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

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

"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."

I'd like to hand this to Marybeth Kigar, a page from Hamilton West.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants and allows for security and stability in their homes and communities; and

"Whereas lifting rent control in Ontario would leave tenants with uncontrollable rent increases and financial instability; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favouring easier and faster eviction by landlords;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to save rent control."

Thousands of people in Scarborough and at 1650 Sheppard Avenue affixed their signatures, and I will do so too.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by K. Zarowny, the health and safety co-chair of OPSEU, Local 340, in Oshawa. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I add my name to theirs in support.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the private member's bill introduced by Rick Bartolucci which promotes smaller class sizes passed second reading; and

"Whereas this bill, known as Bill 110, was referred to the social development committee; and

"Whereas we, the stakeholders in education, want the government committee to hear what we have to say about smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas we want to hear what the government committee has to say regarding smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas all people in Ontario have a right to speak to the social development committee about smaller class sizes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support the recommendation that the social development committee travel across Ontario to find out what the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Ontario are saying about smaller class sizes and Bill 110, the smaller class sizes act."

Of course I affix my signature to this petition.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by a number of people from London, Kingsville and Windsor, and it says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas violence involving firearms is unacceptably common; and

"Whereas the requirement that firearms be registered as proposed by the federal government is reasonable;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately withdraw all opposition to the federal gun control legislation.

"Further, we demand that all money that would have been spent to oppose the federal gun control legislation instead be spent on the prevention of domestic violence and on services for victims of domestic violence."

I'm proud to affix my signature.


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas `bigger government is not better' and the Mike Harris government has no right to dictate a megacity upon the citizens of Toronto;

"Whereas the megacity is being imposed on 2.3 million citizens in Metro Toronto without giving people a voice in the future of their cities and neighbourhoods;

"Whereas a megacity could lead to mega property tax increases, mega user fees and mega cuts in services; and

"Whereas the Tories never proposed abolishing local government in favour of bigger government during the election campaign;

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

"To give the 2.3 million people in Metro Toronto a say in the future of their cities and stop the imposition of a megacity."

That's signed by pages and pages of citizens from Beaches-Woodbine, and I have affixed my signature as well.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is a petition in response to Bill 84 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;

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): "Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

I add my name to theirs.



Mr Eves moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 106, An Act respecting the financing of local government / Projet de loi 106, Loi concernant le financement des administrations locales.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Ontario's system of assessment and property tax is outdated, inconsistent and unclear. For far too long previous governments did not take up the challenge of fixing an out-of-date and unfair property tax system. Despite numerous different commissions and studies on property assessment in the last two decades, previous governments of all three political stripes failed to act. Because they didn't act, thousands of homeowners and businesses have been paying more property tax than they should have been. That's not fair.

It's hard for business to compete when the playing field is not level. Ontarians told us to fix these problems and we are fixing them. We are taking the action that previous governments would not. Through Bill 106, the Fair Municipal Finance Act, we are creating a system that is fair, clear, more consistent and more accountable.

Bill 106 will establish the Ontario fair assessment system, which will be based on current value. It will ensure regular updates of properties' assessed values. It will make the property tax system fairer and easier for taxpayers to understand. It will cut property taxes for farmers and woodlot owners. It will exempt conservation lands from property tax. It will scrap the outdated business occupancy tax. It will simplify the process for assessment appeals and it will cut red tape and reduce administrative burden for municipalities.

In Ontario today assessments are based on property values that range from 1940 to 1992. When assessments no longer reflect how values change over time, the distribution of taxes is unfair. In some municipalities assessments haven't been updated for 50 years. As a result, there's a lot of unfairness in the existing system. While properties in the Niagara Falls region are assessed at 1992 values and property owners pay taxes based on that assessment, in some areas of Toronto properties are assessed at 1940 values and taxes are paid accordingly. There are even situations where homes purchased at the same time for the same price in the same community are assessed differently. This is inconsistent and it is unfair. Bill 106 will end that unfairness.

When we implement the Ontario fair assessment system in 1998, the updated system will base property values on June 30, 1996, current value. Similar properties with a similar value within a municipality will pay similar taxes. Property assessment will be consistent across the province for the first time and assessments will be kept current by a process of regular updates with three-year rolling averages moderating year-to-year fluctuations in property values.

Finally taxpayers will be able to judge whether the assessed value placed on their property is fair and reasonable, and they will be better able to compare the rates of tax they pay to support municipal services with those paid in other municipalities and communities. They will understand how their property assessments are determined. We are introducing a fair, consistent, clear and accountable property tax assessment system and we are providing a stable, predictable revenue base for local government.

For Metro Toronto, an out-of-date system has meant that the tax base has been continually eroded by successful appeals over the last number of years. In fact, in 1993 and 1994 approximately 100,000 appeals were filed each year. Successful appeals are costing Metro Toronto $100 million a year each and every single year. Those losses accumulate and they grow on an annualized basis. Every year since 1990, approximately 40% of the city of Toronto's assessment base has been under appeal. This represents the worst appeal activity in all of Ontario, and may well be in all of Canada. For the purpose of comparison, in British Columbia, which has implemented a current value property tax system similar to the Ontario assessment system, less than 2% of assessable units are appealed each year, compared to 40% in the city of Toronto.


The evidence is clear: The Ontario fair assessment system will be a fairer and better system for both property taxpayers and municipalities. It will be more stable and manageable. It will cost less to run. It will not be prone to appeals like the current system. Municipal governments will have the flexibility to phase in the new property tax system in a way that is sensitive to their local circumstances. Municipalities will have up to eight years to phase in the tax changes arising from the assessment update, double the period that was previously available in the past.

Municipal governments will be able to bring in changes fairly, compassionately, and consistent with local community needs. We are protecting society's most vulnerable by enabling municipalities to ensure fair treatment of low-income seniors and disabled persons. I am confident that municipal representatives understand best the needs of their community and their neighbours.

In addition, municipal governments will now have a choice in setting different tax rates for different classes of property. Across the province, the standard classes will include residential, multiresidential, commercial, industrial, pipeline, farm land and managed forests. Municipal governments will also be able to request additional classes of property from the province if they feel this is required to meet their local needs.

The new legislation will scrap the antiquated business occupancy tax. This is an outdated and cumbersome system of taxing business that has been on the books since 1904 and has not been changed since that period of time. It is based on arbitrary tax rates that have no relation to the economy of Ontario in 1997. Businesses have rightly complained about this tax for some time. The Crombie panel recommended we get rid of it, and we are. We are giving municipalities the tools, if they choose, to recover their share of business occupancy tax revenue. They can continue to raise this revenue from business or they can raise some or all of the dollars from other classes of property if they so choose for their community.

Farm property and managed forests will also be treated more fairly with this new legislation. Instead of tying up farmers' capital unnecessarily by requiring farmers to pay the tax and then rebating 75%, the property class eligible for farm property tax and managed forests will have a tax rate of 25% of the residential rate in that particular community or municipality. Farmers have been asking for this red-tape-cutting change for years. Finally farmers will get what they've been asking for.

The bill will exempt eligible conservation lands from property taxation and it will continue the current property tax treatment for designated airport authorities.

In the spring we will be introducing legislation to return delivery of assessment services to the municipal level as of January 1, 1998. We will be consulting on implementing the transfer with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities and the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, among other groups.

Bill 106 will bring fairness back into property taxation in the province. Local taxes will now be tied more directly to local services. Local decision-makers will be more accountable to the people who pay the bills: the taxpayers in each community. Long-overdue changes will be made to the way local governments fund services through property taxes. More stable revenues will let municipalities plan better to deliver their services to their communities today and in the future.

This bill, together with other Who Does What reforms announced by my colleagues, will pave the way for less costly government at all levels in the future. That means better service and lower taxes for Ontarians.

Many municipalities have already shown how they are saving taxpayers' money without compromising services. They are eliminating overlap, duplication and waste. They are joining with other municipalities in the private sector to find savings by delivering services more efficiently. In my own riding, municipalities were pursuing options around better service at less cost two years before Who Does What reforms were ever announced by this government.

It is about fairness, it is about better government, it is about lower property taxes in the future. All Ontario taxpayers will be winners, and it's about time.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Let me say first of all that the minister is quite correct when he states that all these are tied into the Who Does What panel recommendations. The problem, of course, is that the government has not implemented all of those recommendations. By simply taking some of the recommendations and implementing them and not the other recommendations, in effect you're not getting an equal equation, and the municipal taxpayer undoubtedly will end up paying more.

I think it's also very interesting to hear in his speech that he talked about all the taxpayers who are paying too much; all the businesses and the property owners who are paying too much. If this is truly revenue-neutral, if there are X number of taxpayers who are paying too much, then he also has to acknowledge the fact that there is an equal number of taxpayers, or at least an equal amount, paying too little. I think he should have perhaps paid a bit more attention to that or at least highlighted that in his speech a bit more. It's like, "I'm only giving you the good news but not the bad news."

The one thing that's really sadly lacking about all of these announcements is the fact that we don't have the detailed studies that actually indicate how different properties and different sectors in our communities will be affected by these changes. The people of Ontario want to know what they're buying into. Where are the impact studies? I'm sure the ministry's got these studies. Why don't you release these studies if they're all about fairness? Surely the fair thing to do is to allow the people of Ontario to know exactly what they're buying into, what they're asked to endorse, and the only way they can do that is by seeing the actual studies.

The ministry so far, as a result of questions that have been asked here in the House, and as a result of questions that have been asked outside the House as well, has not as yet produced any of the studies that clearly indicate to the people of Ontario that they are the winners in this system. I doubt it.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): The minister talks about this bill as if it were indeed a Fair Municipal Finance Act.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): True.

Mr Marchese: It will be fair for some but it will be incredibly unfair to many. You nod your head, Johnny, over there, but this bill means and spells a lot of property tax increases to a lot of people. It's for that reason that your government and this minister do not want to release the studies. They have them. We did them. We released the studies when we were in a position to have to do so, and we were quite happy to show the people the impact of those increases. But this government doesn't want to.

You can ask yourselves, why is it that this minister and this government refuse to do that? Well, I can tell you why. Because if they were to release them at this moment, a whole number of people would see that they're going to face a lot of increases in their property taxes. How is Mike the Taxfighter going to explain that to a number of people in Metropolitan Toronto and in other constituencies -- 79 municipalities -- who will face the wrath of this particular bill?

When combined with the dumping of welfare and housing and child care and many other services to the municipal taxpayer, you're going to see a lethal combination. Property taxes will indeed increase, and I'm not sure whether Mike the Taxfighter is going to, once and for all, eat his straw hat, because he promised there would be tax decreases and not increases. This bill will be a tax increase for many taxpayers in Metropolitan Toronto and Ontario. I guarantee it.


Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): What the member for Fort York fails to understand in his comments about the minister's speech is that the proposal the NDP brought forward was based upon the 1988 assessment year, which was the highest and most unstable year for any assessment that we've ever known in this province in history. This, on the other hand, is based on the 1996 assessment year, which by every measure is the most stable year we've had since the 1940s. We're also taxing on the basis of the present use, while you, sir, were going to do it on the highest and best use under your legislation. When you pulled back on the legislation, it wasn't because of the fact that highest and best use was a problem. You seem to have amnesia on this issue.

The fact is the people who didn't like a value-based system have lost the argument. I'm one of them. Nevertheless, this is a much fairer approach than the approach which either the NDP or the Liberals took, because they were going to use a 1988 assessment year. They were going to use highest and best use and they were not going to mitigate in the way that we are proposing to mitigate the changes, which always happen when you change a tax assessment system.

The member for Fort York should reflect a little bit on the history as to what they brought forward, which was an abominable piece of legislation. I didn't hear him speaking out against it at the time. He was voting with the government. On the other hand, we are bringing forward a piece of legislation which will be fair to the taxpayers of Ontario.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): In this case we're talking about fairness. I really don't know where we're getting the word "fairness" in this case. When we talk about fairness, it's to say people are just going to pay for what they are using, when we're talking of a user fee in this case.

But when we mention in this House that the farmers are going to be cut by $171 million in transfer of money from the provincial government, who do you think is going to pay that $171 million? It's the taxpayers of the local municipalities, because the provincial government will have a saving of $171 million but this tax burden will be on the shoulders of all the taxpayers across the province.

True, the farmers will be paying only 25%, but I was looking at the Christian Farmers bulletin just this week. They were saying, "Be careful, because that $171 million that will be absorbed by the municipalities will be coming up through a different type of taxes that the farmers are going to be asked to pay."

In this case I'm just looking at, it's possible that the farmers will be required to get licences for their tractors. It's going to be possible that they'll need a special permit to get on the highway. At the present time, they travel anywhere in Ontario. Definitely, the government or the municipalities will impose a special tax for the farmers.

We're talking about a business tax in Prescott and Russell at the county level. Not counting the 18 municipalities, there's a loss of $485,000 in there. Talking about the business tax also, the snow removal that goes on in the municipalities -- who do you think is going to pay for that in the future?

The Deputy Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: Just a few brief comments in response. I say to the member for Kingston and The Islands, undoubtedly there will be some adversely impacted municipalities, obviously, and there will be some adversely impacted property taxpayers, but the reality is that right now the system is totally inequitable. You have municipalities ranging from 1940 values to 1992 values and we're addressing those inequities. I would say that anybody who is currently operating on an assessment base of, say, 1984 to 1992, will see very little change in their 1996 value. In fact, it may be less than it was in 1984 or 1988, depending on your region of the province of Ontario.

We are allowing municipalities several mechanisms, as I said in my remarks, to phase this in over eight years, to try to protect those people from increases in property taxation if they happen to be among the few who are going to be adversely affected. But there isn't any doubt that the system that exists today is totally unworkable and unfair.

I would just like to remind a few of the members who have spoken -- the member for Fort York and the member for Prescott and Russell as well -- of a few things that a few people they might listen have to say. Jim Witty, the Durham region chair: "Reassessment in Ajax wasn't the end of the world. My comment was, `If your taxes are going up it means you've been underpaying.'"

"A year ago this kind of system was the fairest that we could find anywhere in the world. I still stand by that, absolutely." Anne Golden, January 17, 1997.

"Finally, a provincial government has mustered the courage to fix Ontario's broken and discredited property tax system.... The current system so violates the principle of fairness and equity that it must be fixed. It's time to accept these overdue reforms." Those great supporters of ours, the Toronto Star editorial, on January 17, 1997.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Prescott and Russell, I don't think you realize that you were not in your seat. I didn't realize it either. I know you wanted to put your point forward, but not that forward.

Further debate?

Mr Gerretsen: Does that mean, Mr Speaker, he can give his speech again from the proper seat that he's now in?

First of all, Mr Speaker, I believe there's unanimous consent to stand down our opening 90-minute speaker until a later date.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mr Gerretsen: This debate reminds me of an election that I was involved in in 1982 when we brought in market value assessment in the Kingston area. Let me tell you right off the bat -- we did this just prior to an election -- that this is an absolute no-win situation for whoever is involved in this, because at the end of the exercise the people whose taxes are going up will tell you, "We've always paid too much," and, "I told you so," and the people whose taxes are going down will say, "I always told you that I was paying too much, that I should be paying a lot less." The ones whose taxes are going up will say, "You're a nice guy but no thanks to you."

The other thing that ought to be clearly placed on the record right at the outset is that about 75 of the municipalities throughout Ontario already are on some sort of market value assessment system and certainly it is not going to change that drastically for them.

I think there's an awful lot of confusion about this, by the way. We're talking about market value assessment, we're talking about actual value assessment and now we've got a new term in this legislation, which is "current value assessment." I think the people of Ontario are extremely confused about it. Yes, we want fairness, but they also want to see the studies that the government actually has on how this will affect different areas of the province, how it will affect different properties in the province.

If I can again refer back to the experience that I had some 13 or 14 years ago, it seemed to me that even the studies that were available at that time in my particular municipal situation really undervalued or underscored or understated the effect that the new system was going to have on the taxpayers. I would just warn the people of Ontario, watch out, because this is a real big one and this is one that can really affect them to a much greater extent than they will ever think.

I again plead with the government, plead with the Minister of Finance, who is still in the House today, release the impact studies. Obviously you know what the impact of this change is going to be throughout Ontario. Why don't you let the people of Ontario know how the property taxes in their particular situations are going to change so that they can make an informed judgement as to whether or not they're in favour of this kind of change?


Of course the other thing we have to keep in mind is that this is all part of a giant scheme by the government to transfer certain costs to the provincial level, such as the education taxes on the residential property taxpayers, and download a whole bunch of other services to the local municipal level.

I think it's fair to say that just about every writer or every study that's ever been done on this situation, whether it's from the left or from the right, clearly indicates that the kind of downloading that this government's involved in, downloading health care and social services to the local municipality, negates and says you should not do that.

What you've really done here with respect to all of your downloading legislation is, you've taken certain costs, costs that are much more predictable, such as education, residential tax costs and --

Mr Turnbull: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It seems to me that perhaps the honourable member should be addressing this bill, which is the Fair Municipal Finance Act.

The Deputy Speaker: I notice on many occasions members take a little while to warm up to the topic, so I'll give him a chance. I'll just wait patiently. I know that he got the message and I hope that he will speak to the bill.

Mr Gerretsen: But, Mr Speaker, I have been speaking to this bill because one of the downloaded costs to the local municipalities that the Minister of Finance talked about in his speech was this whole integration of farm tax rebates and other rebates at the local level, and from a document here it clearly indicates that even according to the government's own figures $165 million that used to be paid out by the province in farm tax rebates is now being downloaded to municipalities.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): That's not the case.

Mr Gerretsen: That is the case because --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. There is a period afterwards which we call questions and comments. Wait for that time to voice your opinion. In the meantime, the member for Kingston and The Islands has the floor.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Let me go through the whole list, just so that the people of Ontario clearly know what costs the province is taking over and what costs are being downloaded on local municipalities.

The total benefits to communities and local taxpayers; these are the costs that are being taken off the property tax roll. Education residential tax burden removed, $5.4 billion. I think there's pretty well widespread agreement on that.

Now we get to the other side of the equation: Programs to be fully downloaded on to municipalities. First of all, community police financing, $180 million; integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes, $165 million; property assessment services -- and I'll get back to that a little later on -- $120 million; social housing, $890 million; municipal transit and GO Transit services, $395 million; community libraries, $20 million; community public health, $225 million; community ambulance services, $200 million; homes for special care, $25 million; community ferries and municipal airport services, $15 million.

That gets back to the question that I raised in the House earlier today, where in effect over 3,000 permanent island residents throughout the province, in my riding and in other ridings as well, have been told that their ferry services that have been subsidized by the province of Ontario for the last 30 or 40 years will no longer be done and in order for those people to retain the services they've traditionally had for the last 30 years, they will have to increase their taxes on those islands anywhere from five- to 10-fold if they want to maintain their services.

That's another cost of service that you've downloaded on the municipal taxpayer, and the Premier said so here today in the House in answer to my question. He said, "Well, the local tax base will just have to pay that." In a lot of these situations the amount of local taxes raised by the islanders is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $100,000 to $350,000 per year and they will just have to absorb the $1 million, $2 million or $3 million now that it will cost to retain the ferry services, which they can never, never afford. You know it and I know it, and certainly those people who are directly affected know it as well.

But let's go on. Programs that will now be funded 50% by municipalities as opposed to the 20% that was their traditional model: social assistance, $2.655 billion will be downloaded on to municipalities; child care, $270 million; long-term care, $1.150 billion, for a total of $6.3 billion. Just so we have it clearly established, you're taking $5.4 billion off the property tax roll for education services and you're adding $6.3 billion on for costs for services that are basically health care, social care related.

We all know that we live in a society in which we're aging, a rapidly aging society where a lot of these costs, which are much less predictable than education costs, will cost a lot more as time goes along. The province has done a real fast one here, as far as I'm concerned. They've downloaded those costs that they know they really have no control over and that are going to increase over the next four to five years. So yes, this is directly related to what the Minister of Finance was talking about earlier.

The other thing that is very interesting is the property assessment services which are being transferred to the local municipalities to the tune of $120 million. The minister said the municipalities will know how to do these services best. Let's just go back in time a little. Why was it that in the early 1970s the province actually took over the assessment functions from local municipalities? The main reason was that local municipalities weren't able to handle it. There was always a feeling around that there would be too much pressure on the local officials in the local municipal halls etc to look after the assessment services, and the only way we could get a uniform system across Ontario was in effect to have a system that was provincially controlled and operated.

I dare say that if you talk to most of the people who have been involved in the system over the last 25 years and who were also involved in the system before that, they will say that with the province taking over the assessment function a number of years ago, this was a positive thing. It took the politics out of the local assessment situation. What you're doing is re-entering that, because I can assure you there are going to be a great number of disparities and a great number of struggles that people are going to have with whether a property should be assessed on this basis or that basis, by people who may be integrally involved in the various communities throughout the province, and that it may be very difficult to establish a true current value system that you're talking about here.

I would like the Minister of Finance to explain to the people of Ontario why a system that his previous government introduced in 1970, a provincial tax assessment system -- why have they now decided to step away from it? Is it because they are stepping away from all responsibility towards municipalities? Is that really what he's saying, that they really can't be bothered, that municipalities should just run their own ships, their own affairs?

It's very interesting. We discussed a bill here yesterday, Bill 107, which of course is very much tied into these bills as well. That bill basically said that 25% of the municipal water and sewer services that are owned by the province should be downloaded on to municipalities. It's basically telling local municipalities: "From now on the plant is yours. Whatever the charges are against those plants that still have to be paid off are yours. You could even privatize it, because there's no prohibition in that particular act that you can't privatize it."

The question we have to ask is, why were these plants not owned by the municipalities before? The reason they weren't owned by the municipalities before is that those municipalities could never afford the capital costs in building these plants.

It seems to me that if there's one thing that a government is responsible for, whether we're talking about the federal government, a provincial government or indeed a local government within its own sphere of responsibilities, it is to make sure there are certain basic services available to all of the residents in the province. The kind of grant and subsidy programs that were set up originally to build these water and sewer plants in the smaller communities that couldn't afford to build them with their own resources in those days were good programs. It allowed good water and good sewer facilities to be built in areas that simply otherwise would not have been available.

To download that on to municipalities is just another place where the province is saying, and as a matter of fact, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment and Energy said on a couple of occasions yesterday, "We think it's a local responsibility and the local taxpayers should just pay for it, and I guess if the answer is they can't afford it, let them raise the taxes and it's no longer our responsibility." This is exactly the same thing that you're doing here with the assessment function and it's exactly the same thing that you're doing with all the other programs you're downloading to the local municipal level.


I can well see a system and a situation in Ontario not too far in the future where we'll have all sorts of different standards in different areas of public policy because some municipalities will be able to pay for services and other municipalities will not.

What is the next step? Is the next step a lowering of provincial standards so that, for example, if you are a municipality that may be hard hit by a plant closure and there's a run on the municipal finances for social services costs, a municipality will then be allowed to lower the amount of money they're paying, for example for welfare or for certain services, because after all, the municipal tax base can't afford the tremendous additional costs that will have been loaded on because of the plant closure etc?

We're creating a province of have and have-not communities. I certainly have some great concerns about it and so do an awful lot of other people.

It's very interesting that the Minister of Finance quoted two or three individuals who were in favour of some of these things that were happening, who were in favour of the fair tax assessment act that's now being proposed in Bill 106. But let's just read quotations from some of the other people across Ontario who are knowledgeable in this area, what they have to say about the downloading that's taking place.

Let's listen to Terry Mundell, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, who on January 18 in the Globe and Mail was quoted as saying, "The government of the province has said that, quite frankly, we need to get the fiscal house in order and the group to get that in order is the municipal sector because they're giving us all the services and all the work to do." In other words, half the municipalities pay for Mike Harris's income tax cut. That's really what it all boils down to.

Let's talk about what a councillor, Joe Swan, said in the London Free Press. He said, "If the public ever wanted to know how Mr Harris is going to pay for his 30% tax cut, they've just heard it." This is part of that picture.

Thunder Bay mayor David Hamilton, on January 17 of this year in the Chronicle-Journal, said, "Locally, you're going to pay more taxes and get nothing new."

Ottawa-Carleton regional chair Peter Clark, in the Ottawa Citizen on January 23, said: "This is very serious. What (the provincial government) has done is a massive intrusion into local government."

Sudbury councillor Peter Dow said, "We are going to be snowed."

Here we have the president of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto, who said, "We do not believe it is reasonable to hold local councils responsible for social service costs that arise from economic conditions over which they have little control." That's what this is all about. That's what all this downloading is about.

Moody's, the bond rating service, on January 25 in the Globe and Mail said, "...municipalities may find it necessary to make significant adjustments to property taxes, which could ultimately result in a less competitive tax regime."

Brantford mayor Chris Friel, on January 25 in the Brantford Expositor said, "They're insulting the intelligence of every taxpayer in the province," talking about the current government.

Belleville mayor Ross McDougall, in the Belleville Intelligencer on January 15, 1997, said: "It is wrong...(this) will hurt everyone," talking about downloading.

Hamilton-Wentworth regional chairman Terry Cooke, referring to how local taxes there may jump by 15%, stated in the Hamilton Spectator on January 21: "Not in my wildest imagination could I have contemplated this kind of impact. It certainly is unprecedented and it's cause for very grave concern."

Now, here's an interesting one. I hope she's in the House. Yes, she is in the House. Progressive Conservative MPP Lillian Ross for Hamilton West, commenting on the impact on the region of Hamilton-Norfolk, is reported to have said in the Hamilton Spectator on January 27, 1997 -- and she's in the House and she can contradict this during the two-minute response if she so wishes -- "I'm very concerned about it. I don't want to see it happen." Isn't that something. I have the highest regard and respect for that member because she's at least prepared to make an intelligent comment about some of the horrible things that this government is doing, and I salute my colleague in taking that position.

My own city treasurer in the city of Kingston, Rick Fiebig, said: "On our own there's no doubt we would be virtually bankrupt as a result of the downloading." That's what he said. This is not a partisan hack. This is not a party member. This is the city treasurer who has reviewed all the expenditures that you're taking off and all the expenditures you're adding on the property tax roll, and he's saying. "On our own there's no doubt we would be virtually bankrupt." He commented on the estimated $20 million the city will face as a result of this downloading exercise.

Paul Pagnuelo of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation -- he used to be one of the favourite people that the government quoted all the time; they were on their side and they agreed with just about everything, but look what he says about all this downloading: "The government of Ontario is playing a shell game with taxpayers. A tax cut is not a tax cut when one level of government simply shifts the spending burden to another level of government, and that's the bottom line."

The bottom line is that the provincial government wants to look good by charging less income tax so that we can all pay more -- about $500 or $600, I've heard from various sources, more per taxpayer in the province on property taxes as a result of all these changes.

Let's just hear what Sault Ste Marie mayor Steve Butland said on January 15 of this year. He stated: "We have been anticipating some dramatic downloading or transition of responsibility, but this is almost beyond comprehension." Another mayor, another person who has looked at these situations and is saying that this is the wrong thing to do.

Don Wackley of the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations stated right here at Queen's Park on January 30 of this year: "The Ontario government is dismantling Ontario's social security system unilaterally without any public consultation. The government has autocratically decided to push many social programs and services on to the municipalities without foresight and the thought of the negative impact on communities and municipal taxpayers."

What the finance minister is now doing is saying: "We're bringing in current value assessment and everybody will be happy. Look at all the winners here." But he doesn't talk about any of the losers. Let's face it, this whole exercise is supposedly revenue-neutral.

What does the medical officer, Robin Bolton, with the Sudbury District Health Unit, have to say? He stated in Northern Life on February 2 of this year: "This downloading plan is going to set public health back by 60 years in this province." Because what's going to happen is the next level of this exercise is that the provincial standards by which taxpayers and residents of this province can anticipate certain definite standards, whether we're talking about health care, whether we're talking about social services, whether we're talking about many of the other services that are provided either directly or indirectly by the provincial government, are going to suffer and we're going to have different standards across the province. I don't think that's the kind of province we want to live in.

It's kind of ironic that here we are in a country that is rated the number one country in the world as far as the United Nations is concerned from a standard of living and a quality of life viewpoint. Two years in a row we've been voted that way. And what are we doing? We are now in effect making the rich richer and the poor poorer, because we're no longer insisting on those standards that went a long way in making the good quality of life we all enjoy -- standards that have been brought in both at the provincial and federal level and at the local level -- because we're no longer going to insist on that in the future as far as these changes are concerned.


Hamilton Mayor Bob Morrow stated in the Hamilton Spectator on Friday, January 31, "We fear evolution to a dysfunctional government and community if certain things stand," again referring to the downloading that's taking place here.

I'm quoting here from the Ottawa Citizen of January 23, Ottawa-Carleton regional councillor Gord Hunter. He said -- and I'm not saying this; I'm just repeating what this man said -- "They are either lying to the people of Ontario or they have a pathological intelligence deficit." That's the kind of language that I would never use, but this man has studied these changes and he's come to that conclusion. I can tell you that is quite a --

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Is this the same Gord Hunter who was a Liberal candidate in the past?

The Deputy Speaker: This is not a point of privilege. Please take your seat.

Mr Gerretsen: Let me make it quite --


Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Defeated Liberal candidate --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Ottawa Rideau, if you want to make some remarks, just wait. After the speech.

Mr Gerretsen: All I can say is that it is very nice to see every one of these government members who are in the House paying full attention to this, because it doesn't always happen in this House. Obviously these words and these remarks and these quotations are having some effect. I don't know whether this gentleman was a Liberal candidate or not, and quite frankly I couldn't care whether he was. This is still a statement from a regional councillor, who obviously is the closest to the people in the sense that he knows how these programs are going to have an effect in his particular municipality, and he's come to this conclusion.

I haven't mentioned the politics of any one of these people, other than the member here in the House, your own member, Lillian Ross, and let me just repeat it. What did she say? She said, "I'm concerned about it. I don't want to see it happen." I want to be here on the day when we vote on this legislation and stand up with the member for Hamilton West, opposing this government. I think that would be a great idea and we would all more than welcome her voting with us on that, as would of course many of the people in the province of Ontario.

The chief administrator of La Salle in the Windsor Star of February 1, Ken Antaya, said: "The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer as a result of this downloading."

I could go on and on. We have figures here from municipal sources as to how they're going to be affected as a result of this downloading. As I've already said, in the city of Kingston it's $23 million that will have to be raised on the property tax roll. In Brantford it's $23 million; in London it's $57 million, which means a 17% property tax jump; Cornwall $10 million; Thunder Bay $15 million; Timmins $12 million, which means a 30% property tax jump; Peterborough $13 million, a 35% property tax jump; Orillia $2 million; in the town of Owen Sound, $2 million; Gravenhurst $12 million; Metropolitan Toronto $530 million, which means a property tax increase of about $419 per residential or $7,900 for the commercial property taxpayers; the region of Sudbury $105 million; Hamilton-Wentworth, an increase of $121 million, which translates into an 18% property tax jump.

Mr Speaker, I ask you, and I ask the members of the government, are all these people wrong? Have they all figured it out wrong? These are municipal people who have actually taken a look at the program costs last year, based on the old system, and have transposed the new system that you're introducing in these various pieces of legislation on to it and they've all come to the same conclusion: that in their municipalities taxes are going to rise tremendously. Are they all wrong and only you've got it right?

I somehow doubt it, particularly when you take into account a number of the other bills you're putting through as well whereby you're downloading more and more on municipalities and you're making it sound as if they're getting something.

There was something that happened here yesterday, for example, on Bill 107 in which I raised a question which still hasn't been answered. If it is such a good idea to in effect download and give the municipalities the water and sewer services that are currently owned by the province, why is the province making this mandatory? If it was really helping the local municipal taxpayers or the local municipalities, if they were to benefit from them, you don't have to make that program mandatory; the municipalities will be lining up by the minister's door and saying: "Yes, I want to be part of this. Give me the keys to the plant. I'll look after everything from now on. I will pay the debt charges, because I'm winning by it."

It just seems to me if you're mandating that the local municipalities take over these plants whether they want to or not and you're not giving them any option at all, it means only one thing: There are situations out there where the municipalities simply don't want it because it's going to cost them more in tax dollars to look after the capital financing of these plants and after the day-to-day maintenance costs as well.

I see my time is almost up and we've only barely touched the surface of this particular bill. I would just once again implore the Minister of Finance, and I'm very pleased to see that he has been in the House throughout this exercise, if you think this is such a great idea and if you truly want the people of Ontario to have an accurate knowledge base as to what this current value assessment system is all about, why don't you release your studies that indicate that this is a win situation for the property taxpayers in Ontario? Do it, and I think we will all make much more intelligent decisions than we are currently doing.

Mr Speaker, thank you very much for your attention, and the attention of the members opposite.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I just wanted to, in the two minutes I have, suggest that the member for Kingston and The Islands makes some very interesting and important points as we look at this piece of legislation. It's also important to say that we have to be careful in this House and across this province to never take anything this government presents as something that stands alone. It is all part of a larger plan that will at the end of the day see some very simple things happen in this province. It will see this government spending less money on services like health care and social services and policing and roads and ambulance and clean water, and the list goes on and on.

To what end do we do this? We do this so we can clear the way for the private sector, their friends and benefactors, to come in and reap mega-profits. What this is about -- and we hear the word "mega" used a lot around this place these days -- is mega-money, mega-profits, mega-return on investment for the business sector and ultimately, at the end of the day, yes, for the people of Ontario mega-disaster.

However, it's important to note too, and anybody in this place who spends any time at home in their constituencies, who spends time listening to people in communication with their municipal councils will know that they're not getting away with it. Slowly but surely the lights are going on and people are beginning to understand. In my own community of Sault Ste Marie, there was an article in the Sault Star today and the headline was "City Councillors Want No Part in Province's Welfare Overhaul." They understand what this is all about. They understand that even though there are some positive pieces about changing the way we assess property tax, at the end of the day it's about cutting services for people.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): In light of the fact that the member for Kingston and The Islands made mention of me, I thought it only appropriate that I stand in my place to comment on his comments.

When we were discussing this issue in Hamilton-Wentworth, what I said to the press -- and it's interesting how everything plays out in the press, as members here will realize; sometimes what's said in the press is not necessarily what you've said -- was if in fact it proves that taxes in Hamilton-Wentworth jump by as much as 400%, that is frightening to people and of major concern, and I would be as concerned about that as any member in this House would be.


What I also said was that we are taking off of the taxpayers the burden of an ever-increasing tax -- the education tax -- and replacing it with something that was decreasing, which was the social welfare caseload. We talked a lot about the transfer of funding and what we're replacing it with.

We also talked about the fact that this was a revenue-neutral exercise. If it was not, we had ensured that municipalities had funds that they could tap into and a municipal social reserve fund that they could tap into, if in unforeseen times they would need those services.

We also said that there was a capital and operating restructuring fund for municipalities to tap into and a community reinvestment fund. We looked at some of those circumstances so that we could help municipalities that were facing unforseen tax increases.

We also said that if taxes were to rise, they could be phased in over a period of eight years, allowing taxpayers the opportunity to adjust for those things. In my opinion, this is the fairest tax system for people in this province.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I'd like to congratulate the member for Kingston and The Islands for providing us with an overview of what's being dumped on the municipalities in his area. As the member's indicated, if the government has these impact studies to show us what it's going to cost municipalities, we have to get those. We have to be able to present those, present the government view. I know these studies have to be out there; we just can't seem to get our hands on those.

I'm hearing a lot of what the member for Kingston and The Islands has heard in his region in my region of northern Ontario as well, throughout northwestern Ontario. Only this past weekend, I sat with the Kenora District Municipal Association at its meeting. There wasn't one municipality in that room that would suggest that this was going to be revenue-neutral, was going to be something that they could depend on that was not going to cost their individual taxpayers more money.

As a matter of fact, Kenora, Keewatin and Jaffray Melick, the trimunicipal area, have come up with a study which shows that it's going to cost each resident, each household in those three municipalities some $600 more for the services that have been dumped on their municipalities. As the vice-president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Michael Power, has indicated -- people will know Michael is from northern Ontario; he has travelled the north entirely -- has not yet found one municipality that finds this dumping to be revenue-neutral.

So when they come out with this word "fair," the Fair Municipal Finance Act, I would like the minister to tell me of one municipality in this province that actually thinks this is fair to them. I haven't found one yet, Mr Minister, and I would like you to come up with one municipality that will tell us that this is fair to them.

I would just again like to congratulate the member for Kingston and The Islands on what he's hearing from his municipalities, similar to what I'm hearing in the north.

Mr Marchese: The member for Kingston and The Islands had a whole chorus of people who talked about some of the concerns they have, and they're quite legitimate. I suspect that if more people had time, that chorus and litany would grow, because there are concerns around this. Although it's called the Fair Municipal Finance Act, at least that's the way that you refer to it, there's some unfairness in all of this.

The sad tragedy of it all is that there are a lot of people who don't have a clue they're about to be whacked by a property tax increase. That's the sad thing, because you have people owning homes, who bought homes whenever they might have bought them, never knowing that at some point down the line a government would say, "Folks, it's about time that you paid your property taxes fairly, because you haven't been paying enough."

So the poor people down here in Metro are saying: "My God, I don't have any parking. Every time I park here or on the other side of the street, I get a parking ticket. We have nothing but a lot of disservice in our community and we're about to be whacked by this government with property tax increases."

Seniors don't have a clue, but don't worry, municipalities are now given the power to defer them. This is enabling legislation that permits municipalities to do this, but not necessarily so.

Small businesses are not going to helped by this. Golden understood that seniors would be hit, and small business would be hit in particular, and asked this government, if they ever did it, to set money aside. Well, this government is magnanimous. They're saying: "We're going to ask the municipalities to deal with this. We think it's a problem, so we're going to pass on this obligation to the municipalities to fix it because we recognize it's a particular problem." How magnanimous of this government to pass that on.

There are built-in unfairnesses in this bill and people will feel them when the time comes.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands, you have two minutes.

Mr Gerretsen: I'd like to thank the members for Sault Ste Marie, Fort York, Hamilton West and Kenora for their comments. The member for Hamilton West says this is revenue-neutral, all this dumping. The point is, it's $5.4 billion that you're taking off, $6.3 billion that you're adding on. Then you've set up $1-billion community reinvestment fund. Every time I've spoken to one of the government members over the last month or so, since this first came out, they've all said, "We tell people, `Apply to the community investment fund.'" I am sure that there are about 10 applications for every dollar you can fund under this program.

The other thing you've got to remember is that the government is saying is that by putting this $1 billion back on, it is revenue-neutral, that as much is going off as is coming on. The problem is that this $1 billion includes the $666 million in the municipal support grant program that has been discontinued. In other words, you've got a program here that you're discontinuing and then you're adding it back into the community reinvestment fund, making it sound as if this is new money that's being put out. You're only putting $334 million in actual new money out there.

The point is, Mr Finance Minister, do the right thing. Bring out the studies. You've done the studies. I'm sure that you're a competent minister and that you did all your studies before you got involved in any of these downloading exercises. Let the people of Ontario see those studies. Give them the studies so that they can determine for themselves whether they're going to gain or lose as a result of this exercise. The question has been asked a number of times in the House here. So far you haven't produced anything at all. Is it because the studies agree with what we're saying on this side of the House?

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Marchese: It's a pleasure to have an opportunity, at least an hour and a half, to speak to Bill 106, because there's a lot to say about this particular bill. It's always a pleasure to have the time to be able to speak to these bills.

I want first of all to talk about the name of the bill and link it to a whole other number of bills. Speaking to the title is critical because it gives the public a sense of what this government is trying to do by the way it names its bills. Mr Ernie Eves refers to this particular bill as the Fair Municipal Finance Act.

The reason I raise this is because there is always something beneath the title that people need to see. Of course, it's always invisible. Unless you read the bill, you'll never really have a clue, but the bill is intended to communicate something other than that which it is.

I refer to one of the bills they have already passed which was called the Job Quotas Repeal Act. This was the employment equity bill that we had passed, and when they repealed this bill, the government titled it the Job Quotas Repeal Act. Why do I make this point? I make the point because the title is really very misleading. It has nothing to do with the actual facts.

There were never any quotas in that particular bill but this government knew in its pre-election campaigning that it was important to talk about that bill, the employment equity bill, as a quota bill. They knew that it would have a tremendous feel and resonance with the public if they didn't say it was the repealing of the Employment Equity Act, because that would be too boring, but rather called it what the public believed it was, which is what this government said, and that is the Job Quotas Repeal Act. That's all the public needs to know. They don't have to read it. As far as they're concerned, this government has done its job, so they have eliminated an offensive bill, in their minds, which had quotas built into it and they solved it.


I do this because I want to be able to give you a fairly good sense of the title of the bill versus what it actually was, and in this particular case they had done a very good job of hiding the real content of employment equity with that particular title.

I move on to others. There are actually quite a few, because this government is quite skilled at having a propagandist style of leadership. There's another called Employment Standards Improvement Act. We have argued here, and my colleague from Hamilton has argued strongly, that there's no improvement in the Employment Standards Act; it is an impoverishment of the Employment Standards --

Mr Turnbull: This has nothing to do with the bill.

Mr Marchese: I realize it doesn't. I'm linking the various bills to give you a sense of why the titles have meaning underneath, and you've got to look at that. The Employment Standards Improvement Act does not improve the standards act; it diminishes and downgrades it.

I know, David, you're having a hard time through this but you've got to pay attention.

The Fewer Politicians Act: The title, again, has resonance with the Reform public this party represents. They say: "How do we title something so that without having to get into the detail of a bill, we've communicated a whole picture of what this party is all about? We, the Reform-Party-obsessed Conservative Party, are going to call this the Fewer Politicians Act because we know the public out there says, `Yes, the more politicians out of office the better.'"

That's what you're catering to. You know that. You've done your polling. That's how you won your election, based on these kinds of understandings of where the public was at. You said, "Let's not call this the How do we get fewer NDP and/or Liberal Politicians Act, but rather Fewer Politicians Act." You wouldn't want to tell the truth, obviously; you would want to mask it in such a way that you have broad appeal with the public.

I know, Monsieur Villeneuve, c'est un peu étrange. Je ne sais pas, mais il y a beaucoup de clarté là-dedans.

I think we'll leave this particular aspect of naming the bills because what I wanted to do --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The Tenant Protection Act.

Mr Marchese: Oh, the Tenant Protection Act. I forgot all about that. You see, there are many bills.

The Tenant Protection Act is in here, David. I know you're startled but I want to help you out. It's on this last page. The Tenant Protection Act, you remember that one. You went out to the public with the tenant protection package, and when we went out to the hearings, the public said: "There's nothing in it for us. Why did you call it the Tenant Protection Act? In fact, this is a landlord protection act, it's not for us."

You guys came back after three weeks of hearings, you listened to the public and then you brought in a bill that was called the Tenant Protection Act. It was beautiful. You listened for four weeks to people who said --

Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: It is a tradition that when we're debating interim supply you can talk about anything, but we are actually debating Bill 106, the Fair Municipal Finance Act. It would be good if once in a while the member might direct himself to the --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): It is a point of order. I just got in the chair. I've been listening intently to the speaker and I'm sure he will bring himself within the confines of Bill 106.

Mr Marchese: I'm happy that you're listening as well. The reason I raise these points is because they are linked. I know it irritates the members opposite when I raise these points and I know they would rather that we compartmentalize their policies, but for me everything this government does, everything we do in this place, is interconnected. You can't isolate one from the other. I'm going to connect various pieces to what this government is doing because they interconnect and not to allude to them would be a serious problem.

I'm glad you're listening because I argue that I am making a point very much linked to this particular bill. I was at the point of explaining that the Tenant Protection Act had nothing in it for tenants, yet this government has the gall to title it something other than what it is.

Why did they do it? It's propagandist. It's part of a propaganda.


Mr Marchese: Dave, sorry, I can't hear you. I didn't hear that, David. You have to speak up.

It's propagandist, and the title of this, the Fair Municipal Finance Act, is also propagandist because it creates the sense to a whole lot of people out there that they're about to be whacked by fairness.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Remember the Fair Tax Commission?

Mr Marchese: I'm about to get a $1,000 property tax increase and I'm about to be whacked by fairness, as if getting a property tax increase has anything to do with fairness. I know the member for St Andrew-St Patrick will agree with me on this because quite a number of her constituents are absolutely worried about the implications it will have.

Some will argue, "Maybe there is some fairness because some people are very, very wealthy and they haven't been paying their fair share." Perhaps for some that might be the case, but in the riding I represent we have a mix of people. They're very working class, and yes, we have a professional category of people who are earn a good salary, but by and large most people do not.

When you are about to whack people with your fair property tax increase, I'm not sure they're going to find it all that pleasant. Then we'll find Mr Eves coming to those folks saying: "We're sorry, sir, on Beatrice Street, you haven't been paying enough." The man has been paying $2,000. He thinks he's paying a whole lot of property taxes, but Mr Eves, the finance minister, says: "Uh-uh, you haven't been paying enough. It's not fair." The man is saying: "What do you mean? We're paying a lot of property taxes in this place for this building in this downtown area and you're about to hit me with fairness." I tell you it's a problem.

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): Some people are paying $4,000.

Mr Marchese: Some people pay $4,000 next door. No. Maybe in your neck of the woods they do, but in my neck of the woods they do not.


Mr Marchese: The member for St Andrew-St Patrick is going to have an opportunity to speak and I will listen to her intently when she does because I'm sure she has a lot to say. A lot of people in her riding want her to speak up on behalf of those constituencies, and I will listen intently to the arguments she's going to submit to this House.

I want to move on. I've got a document here, a memorandum to the assessment commissioner, from Elizabeth Patterson, the assistant deputy minister, property assessment.

"Subject: Ministry request for private sector assistance."

"Attached is a document called Request for Qualifications, which is being issued on September 11 in respect of the province-wide reassessment."

"The ministry is aware that the division cannot deliver the reassessment in the time frame set by the government and still carry out day-to-day assessment operations with its current permanent staff."

"We have up to 360 person-years of divisional valuation staff time and that can be made available to work with the private sector suppliers who are bidding on this particular project."

"We do not wish to give you any restrictions" -- to a question from one of the people who was at that briefing -- "however, it is not the intention of the ministry to hire 1,000 suppliers to complete the project. We want to find the best suppliers to carry out this project. With a tight deadline, the ministry wants to select the most efficient way of doing the project and will be making a selection or selections of bidders within the budget allocated to do the work."

I was looking at the time lines.

"Proponents should be aware of the following key dates and realize that the overall delivery time lines are not flexible: September 18, 1996, briefing date; October 7, 1996, submission deadline; October 28, 1996, short-listed proponents contacted; November 6, 1996, request for proposals issued to short-listed proponents; January 13, 1997, request for proposal submission deadline; February 12, 1997, suggested proponents picked."


I raise this because I'm not sure you've been able to find any private sector group that has come forward to do it. I am concerned, and that's why I asked you the question two weeks ago, about whether or not we have the staff and/or the expertise and time within your time frame to do a job that is not only adequate but efficient and proficient enough that we could feel secure that the job you're about to engage yourself in will be done in a way that will be in the public interest overall. I am very concerned about all of this and I'm not quite sure whether you are. I suspect you are, but I'm not sure I've heard anything coming from your mouth that has convinced me that we have either the time or the expertise or that we have had a private sector bidder bid on this proposal.

Your friend Mr Pagnuelo issued an interesting report called The Property Tax Assessment Reform. He is alerted to the same worry that I have around this. This is what he says on page 6 of this interesting document:

"In order to make this turkey fly" -- that's what he calls it -- "the provincial assessment division has convinced Mr Leach that the job can be done without the Harris government being stung in the process. Despite assurances that it can be delivered on time, on cost and with a high degree of integrity using its own resources and contract staff, the private sector was also invited to bid on all or part of the project."

It's the biggest reassessment project ever in North America, costing almost $61 million, for openers. It probably will be more, but that's the ultimate figure, Monsieur Eves?


Mr Marchese: Oh, you're bringing it down.

Hon Mr Eves: We are an efficient government.

Mr Marchese: It's so typical of this efficient government, bringing everything down, harmonizing downward all the time. What with great efficiency, everything comes down. It is beautiful. Harmonizing everything downwards. It's a mark of respect of this government; it's a mark of achievement to bring everything downwards. I'm sure you're proud of it.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Health care, education, labour standards.

Ms Martel: Environmental standards.

Mr Marchese: Labour standards, health care, the loss of hospitals, environmental standards, jobs, more part-time jobs than full-time -- God, I don't know.

It's the biggest reassessment project ever in North America. Province-wide reassessment involves the evaluation of over 3.8 million properties, 5.5 million structures and 5.6 million assessable units, all within a time frame of 18 months. Some of this might be easy to do in the GTA, but I tell you, some of the properties that have to be assessed outside the GTA are much more complicated than in the GTA, therefore leaving you with a very difficult task, without the resources, the time and possibly the money or the expertise to do this.

Mr Eves, I want you to listen to this one, because I think it's useful. "With millions on the table up for grabs, one would expect private sector firms to be tripping over themselves for a piece of the action, and yet they aren't. But surprise," says Monsieur Pagnuelo, "sources reveal that because the process is so fundamentally flawed and guaranteed to fail, many in the private sector are shunning the project."

This, to me, is of interest, because I am very concerned that given that --

Hon Mr Eves: Now that you and Paul are soulmates --

Mr Marchese: He's your friend. That's why I raised this point, because he's a person who was your friend. I know Mr Crombie was your friend as well. You pick friends up and you lose them along the way; I don't know. Perhaps it happens; I'm not sure.

I raise this because he's a tax fighter, like you guys. He raises these points because he's very worried about property tax increases, he's worried that this might be a flawed system, he's worried that the private sector that you have invited to bid on this project hasn't come forward. We've had a lot of experts. You've invited people from all over Canada and I believe from the US as well.

People from British Columbia who have the expertise to do this actual value assessment I believe have declined to accept your invitation here, and there's a lot of millions of dollars at stake. For them not to bid on this leads me to conclude that we've got a problem on our hands. If the experts within Canada, and presumably some experts outside in the US, are refusing to bid on this project, what does it tell you, Monsieur Finance Minister? That you've got a problem.

If you don't have a problem, tell us. Tell us how you have fixed this particular problem, because I know that you have strange powers of alchemy. I know that you can do that. Like the 17th century alchemist, you guys are fascinating. You create miracles out of nothing. I know that in this particular piece here, experts haven't been able to bid on this project, but with your sense of omnipotence, omniscience as well, you will be able to pull something out of a hat once again.

I want to hear from you, Mr Eves, to reassure people like me and Monsieur Pagnuelo, your former friend, and others about what is happening in this particular field, because they're worried, I'm worried, and there are a lot of people worried. You heard the member for Kingston and The Islands, who raised a chorus of people who have some concerns about this, so assure them.

Let me try to tackle a few other aspects of the bill as well. There are a number of things I want to talk about. I know that I won't be able to fully cover all of the components of this particular bill, but this is an important one; the one that I just raised is an important one. You may want to push it aside and pretend it's not a big issue, but that is a big issue.

If people are listening, I urge you to write to the finance minister and say: "Mr Eves, we heard Mr Marchese raising this particular concern. Could you send us something in writing and reassure us that everything is okay, that we can go back to bed and we can sleep peacefully at night and everything is all right." Please write him a letter, private and confidential so that it gets into his big financial hands, so that he can give you a response to your particular concerns.

Monsieur le finance minister has also spoken about the business occupancy tax, and he brings this with a great deal of fanfare and satisfaction as well. The business occupancy tax is paid by the business operating out of a property rather than the property owner. That comes from your document, Mr Eves, and it says here, "When the business occupancy tax was devised in 1904, the different rates applicable to different kinds of businesses were intended to be a proxy for the amount of personal property owned. These classifications are no longer current and the business occupancy tax no longer makes sense."

What has he done? He says municipalities will be empowered -- interestingly, he's empowering municipalities -- to decide whether or not to recover the equivalent municipal revenues from any or all property classes in the form of realty tax on property owners. "Converting the BTO to a realty tax will mean that property owners, not tenants, will pay the tax." The essence of this is that $1.6 billion will be taken out of the municipalities' hands. In Metropolitan Toronto it constitutes about $600 million.

Hon Mr Eves: They have the power to collect all of it back, some of it back --

Mr Marchese: Or none of it back.

Hon Mr Eves: -- distribute it to property taxpayers.

Mr Marchese: All right. They're empowered, once having removed this business occupancy tax, which he has done, to somehow make up for that either in full or in part. Very magnanimous of the Minister of Finance. The minister says, "It's gone; the business occupancy tax is an irrelevancy in the second millennium here and it's about time we eliminated it," but he magnanimously passes this on to the municipalities. He says: "Now boys, you can do what you like, but it's up to you. It's gone now, but you solve it. You can take it out in full or in part or in whatever way you want."

The province gets to claim credit for eliminating business taxes but municipalities get stuck having to figure out how to replace them. Isn't it beautiful? The finance minister finally solves a particular problem but leaves the problem to municipalities. They don't know how much they can move from one class to the other. That has not yet been determined. It will be determined by regulation at some point down the line. The municipalities don't have a clue how to move from one property class to the other, but the essential point is that when you take that money out you've got to replace it somehow. Someone is going to be whacked with a property tax increase.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): What expertise do you have?

Mr Marchese: Beautiful eloquence on the other side. I don't know who that member is. You see, he says, "I finally figured it out." So, Monsieur whatever, now you know that your minister has eliminated this. You found this out too, or did you know this as well? Did you know --

Mr Ford: Billions of dollars --

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, I'd rather speak to you, actually, because I'm not sure how much intelligence comes forth out of the other side.

Hon Mr Eves: You can ask the same people to pay if they want, then lose millions of dollars a year.

Mr Marchese: That's a different matter. They take this tax out, magnanimously pass it on to the municipality and it's got to find a way to replace it. They look good and the municipality that has to find the money somehow is going to look really bad. It's going to look really bad in having to do this. It's going to be a problem. If the residential folks are going to be hit with that to replace this particular cost that is being taken out, we've got another serious problem.

What are municipalities going to do? Whom are they going to whack by taking that out? Somebody has to pay, as our illustrious member was pointing out on the other side. Someone has to pay. I don't know who in your community is going to pay, but you in your Etobicoke area are going to have to figure that one out. I'm sure people will be calling you, asking you to help them out because they don't have a clue how to do this. We have a particular problem on our hands to solve with this one.

That's the business occupancy tax. There's a lot one could probably say about this, but I know that Mr Gordon Chong has appeared on TVOntario's Fourth Reading to talk about this issue as well. He explained how the elimination of the business occupancy tax will cost Metro close to $600 million in lost revenue, and recently Metro Toronto released figures which illustrate that some $400 million in extra costs were downloaded on them by the Harris government. Add to this the $600 million lost revenues from the elimination of the business occupancy tax and Metro is left with a $1-billion problem. So however they deal with this, it's a big problem.

Ms Martel: Is Gordon Chong a friend of yours?

Mr Marchese: Gordon Chong used to be a friend as well, but I know that ever since the downloading of services he's become a former friend. They're picking up friends along the way, new ones, I suspect, but they're losing quite a few along the way.

Mike the Taxfighter, if you recall, during the election came with that big bus and roamed and roared across town to town saying, "We're going to fight taxes," but this particular bill brings in a whole new big bus driven by Mike Harris that's going to increase property taxes for a whole lot of people. The sad thing is that they don't know it yet. The sad thing is that a lot of people are about to face a property tax increase and they don't know. They don't know because this government will not tell them. They don't know because this government that has done the studies, has them, refuses to share them with the public, refuses to share them with the opposition, refuses to share them with municipalities and refuses to share them with the general public.

Why would it do that? People have to ask themselves that particular question: Why would the government refuse to release those studies, except and unless for some nefarious purpose? That nefarious purpose is that they know that contained within those studies are a whole lot of people who are going to get tax increases. They know that.

Hon Mr Eves: There's no way of knowing what the June 30 values will be.

Mr Marchese: They know.

Hon Mr Eves: But you know what they will realize and people can make there own comparisons.

Mr Marchese: Well, release them. Release what you've got, Mr Eves, and then people can make their own decisions about what you have studied.

Hon Mr Eves: You have to assume comparisons between commercial and residential, industrial and residential.

Mr Marchese: Release them.


Mr Marchese: Mr Turnbull, you are going to have an opportunity to speak to your folks in your riding, which is within our Metro boundaries, and you'll be able to intelligently explain, of course, what you're doing. Please. There's plenty of time for that. You've got a whole lot of time.

The Taxfighter is about to give people a tax increase, and the information they've got, I argue, is being withheld. The minister says, "But you don't know how to determine this and that." Well, give us this information. Give the municipalities the information. They know how to work it in based on their own mill rates and what they would do. They have a fairly good sense. They've got experts there as well who can calculate how this will impact on their constituencies, on the working poor, on seniors, on small business people. They have that expertise.

I know the Toronto government, in a submission made by the mayor of Toronto, Barbara Hall, provided a list of properties. They've done their own study to show the impact of provincial downloading, including the impact of this AVA. However you call it, AVA or MVA -- there are some differences, and I've got the chart to show the differences -- by and large it's the same thing and by and large it means a property tax increase. They've done a study to show how the conjoint impact of downloading and AVA will affect the various small business people.

A service station will get $72,000 more in new taxes that they will have to pay; a retail variety store, $11,000; retail paint and paper, $6,998; a tavern, $13,189; retail electronics, $10,000; a service beauty salon, $2,272; a retail beauty salon, $1,771; a retail barber, $8,000; a retail variety store, $29,956; retail shoes, $16,423; hairdresser, $1,671; dry cleaners, $23,414; pizza, $5,955; mailboxes, $11,865; pet food, $11,153; and in retail again, cookies, $3,226.

This is the kind of study they have done. If you haven't seen it, I have the whole binder that the city has provided to the members of the committee dealing with amalgamation, and we can pass it on. They have the experts and the expertise to be able to determine the impact of AVA and the downloading on the property taxpayers of the city of Toronto. This was for small business. Imagine what's going to happen to a lot of property owners who are low-income people; seniors who've owned their homes for a lifetime, or 30, 40, 50 years, never dreaming somehow they would have to face a government that's going to whack them with fairness all of a sudden. You're going to see a lot of people being unfairly done to by this government.

Add to this other complications, because I think everything needs to be seen in context. That's why the city of Toronto has done this study to show the impact of AVA and the downloading, because they do go hand and hand and they both mean property tax increases. If you think you are exempt from property tax increases, you're wrong. M. Eves might say some of you in your riding are going to get a property tax decrease, and then we come back, at least within Metro, and say, "We've done our studies, they've done their studies, to show that although you might benefit, you're about to be whacked by a different type of property tax increase," which I will allude to in a second. Those fine people -- poor working people, seniors, injured workers who own homes and many others who are struggling to keep their home, paying the mortgage rates that they do -- are going to face a double whack, that is, an increase in property taxes that is due directly to your actual value or market value system and then a double increase when you add to that your mega-dump.


This government has said, "We're taking the education portion out of property taxes." They said this again with a great deal of personal satisfaction: "We've done what you municipalities have wanted. We've taken that out. We've done what a lot of people out there wanted. We've taken the education portion out."

But you never told them that you were going to take it out and increase the income tax rate, which is what you should have done. You took the education portion out of property taxes and passed on something else, which I find profoundly offensive. You should have funded education out of income tax completely. If you had the courage, you would have raised income taxes and not property taxes. But you don't have the courage to do that. That's one point.

The other point is, if you wanted to be revenue-neutral, because this is what it's all about, why take education out? If you arrive at the same point, why take it out?

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Everybody wants that.


Mr Marchese: No, it isn't just that. Welfare should not be funded out of property taxes.

Hon Mr Eves: It already is by 20%.

Mr Marchese: Yes, but you've increased their load by 30%. It's now 50%. So you say education shouldn't be funded out of property taxes, and in the same breath you say, "But welfare can." Oh, because they're already paying it? But if they're paying education already, why not just leave it? If your argument is that they're already paying welfare, it is illogical, because they're already paying for education. If you argue education shouldn't be paid out of property taxes, how could you argue welfare should, Mr Eves? It makes no reasonable, logical sense.

If you arrive at revenue neutrality, why are you doing it? It makes no sense. Reasonable people who add this up, who tally it up, say, "But I don't understand." Now, Mr Eves says education should not be part of this, but he also in the same breath says, "But welfare should." So they say, "But what's the logic of that? What is the logic of adding welfare on to the back of a municipal property taxpayer? Shouldn't that come out of the income tax system? I say yes. What does Mr Eves say about that? He says no.

What about housing? No jurisdiction in the world has ever passed on housing to the municipal level, except this Reform-Conservative government. This is the only jurisdiction in the world that I am aware of that has had the guts to pass on housing to the municipal taxpayer. No one else is doing it. No municipality in the world is running and controlling --

What are you doing, Ms Elliot? What is it? Are you disagreeing with me?

No other jurisdiction in the world is doing this. To let the municipality control and manage co-op housing, non-profit housing, public housing is wrong.

Mr Preston: Why would you say that?

Mr Marchese: It's wrong.

Mr Preston: Why?

Mr Marchese: Why? I think so and a whole lot of people think so too. A whole lot of people believe that housing is properly the jurisdiction and the obligation of the provincial government, and the sad thing is that the federal government is about to oblige you. The federal government is no better than you. In fact, they're worse. Through their transfer payments that you guys pooh-poohed when you were here, because you used to say, "Ah, you've got the limousine, NDP government," and now you're saying, Mr Eves, "Ah, it's because of them." Anyway, that's another story.

Hon Mr Eves: I've never said that.

Mr Marchese: Oh, you used to say, you and the others, "Don't blame the federal government, you're in charge." You used to say, "You've got the limousine."

Hon Mr Eves: I never said, "Don't blame the federal government." Never.

Mr Marchese: You never said that? Please, it's on the record. Anyway, it's an aside.

The federal government is dumping its housing obligations on to the provincial governments. They don't want it so they stopped building a long time ago. But what people don't know -- you should pay attention because some of this stuff will be useful to you --


Mr Marchese: No, but you should too. The federal government funds public housing equally with the provincial government.


Mr Marchese: Well, they do now. They do to this day. They used to not only build, they used to be the prime builder of public housing. Now no longer. They stopped building. But they still fund public housing by half.

Hon Mr Eves: They're supposed to fund health care, post-secondary education and social assistance.

Mr Marchese: That's true. I agree. I don't disagree with you at all. They are downloading on to you, us, and you're downloading on to the municipalities. I make this point to be clear about what they're doing.

On the issue of housing, this government, the federal Liberal government, is dumping their obligation of housing on to the provincial government. The province says, "We don't want it," but they'll take it in order to be able to pass it all down to the municipalities. It's a shameful act.

I predict that the Liberal government will not pass this on to you before the election, because they can't. It would be unwise of them to give it away now because they have to appear to be strong dealing with this very reactionary government, so they want to be the white knights helping the working poor and the poor people of this country. They're going to hold on to that housing stock for now, but when that election is over, if they get another majority, they're going to say, "Here it is, Mr Eves, it's all yours."

Mr Guzzo: That would be dishonest.

Mr Marchese: It would be dishonest. I agree with you. They should do it now. They should do it now if they've got the nerve to do it now. You hear a lot of MPs in the ridings saying, "Oh no, we want guarantees, signed on paper, before we give it away." But why are they doing it now before the election? Because that guarantee on paper is probably not worth the paper it's written on. That's why. Besides that, they can't get that guarantee.

The federal government will dump its responsibilities on to this government as soon as they, they hope, get re-elected. I hope that won't happen. I hope the social democratic party will do very well in the next election because people will realize that there is no opposition at the federal level. Certainly the Reform Party is hardly an opposition party, and the Bloc, God bless them, have their own concerns. They need an opposition party that's going to care about people finally. You need a party that's going to worry about them.

Why do I raise these issues? Housing is being dumped from the federal level to the provincial level and the provincial level says, "We don't want to be in the housing business," so all of a sudden they're dumping it on to the municipalities. "Here you go, boys, take it over." And is the money flowing with that? No, it isn't.

Mr Preston: Yes, it is.

Mr Marchese: It is not.

Mr Preston: Oh, yes it is.

Mr Marchese: It is not. It takes $200 million worth of capital repairs -- over $200 million. That money isn't flowing.

Hon Mr Eves: Yes, it is.

Mr Marchese: And every time we say something, Mr Eves, the finance minister, says: "Yes, it is. The money's there. Yes, it is."

Mr Preston: I believe him first.

Mr Marchese: I know you do. I know you believe him. You've got to believe him. You're forced to. You're forced to believe him. So he says, "Oh yes, that $1 billion dollars is there." I don't see it. Peter, do you see that $1 billion somewhere?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): You never will.

Mr Marchese: Of course you won't. Is it etched in stone somewhere? No, it's only etched in the memory of Tory minds. That's the only place it's etched in.

Mr Kormos: It's part of the propaganda machine.


Mr Marchese: It's part of the propaganda. "Don't worry if you see that figure, that figure of some $2 billion." It used to be $1 billion, $1.6 billion; now it's $2 billion, $2.6 billion.

Mr Kormos: Pick a number.

Mr Marchese: Yes, every day you've got a different number. The economy is doing better. They said, "Don't worry, municipalities, we've got another $500 million for you." I say to myself, thinking, "Now why would this government" --

Mr Kormos: Giving back some of what they stole.

Mr Marchese: Yes, first they steal from the municipalities and then they say, "We're going to give you some back." But secondly, why give these programs -- welfare, child care, long-term care, housing, ambulances, public health?

Mr Kormos: This government doesn't like sick people.

Mr Marchese: They say? "We like sick people but we're going to hand them off to the municipalities. We like them but we're just going to let somebody else take care of them." My argument is, why do that in the first place? Why dump these essential services that properly belong in the field of a provincial government to municipalities to do what they want? It's a race to the bottom that we're faced with here because each municipality is going to have to find its own way to deal with this particular problem. Every municipality, in order to deal all of a sudden with the financial problem it faces, has got to cut somewhere. My feeling is that two things will happen: Property taxes will go up and service delivery and services will go down.

Mr Preston: Wrong on both counts.

Mr Marchese: I know, we're wrong on this side. You are so perfect. You're infallible. You're more infallible than the Pope. I've got to find out where you're from; I keep on forgetting. Mr Preston from Brant-Haldimand, you're infallible. I appreciate that. As I say, you're more infallible than the Pope. I can tell by your reassuring tones, by the factual information you spit out from the other side. I know you guys are right and perfect about what you're doing, but some of us are worried and it isn't just we here who are worried but a lot of other people out there. They argue that you are dearranging and rearranging the world in a way that they cannot any longer understand or recognize.

They're about to be hit with property tax increases from a number of different levels and they will not know whether restructuring made it happen, whether disentanglement -- that nice word -- made it happen, or whether reassessment made it happen. They won't have a clue. I know that all three will happen. I know that restructuring is going to whack people, that disentanglement is going to whack people and that reassessment is going to whack people. However you cut it, however you separate it, a lot of people are going to be undone and hurt in the process.

This disentanglement doesn't clear anything; it confuses it even more. Your saying it's now a 50-50 kind of thing doesn't make it clearer to people. People are not all of a sudden going say, "Oh thank you provincial Conservative government for making it clear that we now pay 50% and you pay 50%." It doesn't make it clearer. The clear thing to do is to simply keep those services that belong to the provincial government and let the municipalities do what they do best. That's what they should do.

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This afternoon at old city hall provincial court, the Queen's Park planters charged with mischief were all found not guilty as a result of their courageous efforts in dramatizing the attack of this government on the poor, the homeless and the hungry in this province.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order.

Mr Preston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If anybody in Ontario can go on any public property and plant gardens, I'd like to find out the names of the people who appeared in court and plant it along the front of their place.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order.


Mr Marchese: I was making the point that we're going to be hit from various points. The disentanglement is a serious problem and it's going to cause greater property tax increases.

Ms Martel: Downloading, not disentanglement.

Mr Marchese: Disentanglement is a nice word; you're quite right. It's downloading, dumping a tax bomb on to the municipalities. That's the one they refer to as a disentanglement. The restructuring is going to be a problem and the reassessment is going to be a problem. Here's what Enid Slack from the consulting firm, said, very much stating what I'm saying: "When you get your property tax bill in 1998, I'm sure it's going to be different than it is today, but you're not going to know if reassessment got you, if the disentanglement got you or if restructuring got you. It's going to be very hard to know."

Mr Preston: When did she say that?

Mr Marchese: This is an economist, Enid Slack. When did she say this? February 4, 1997.

We have a number of problems that this government doesn't want to deal with. First of all, they refuse to release information. This government claims to respect people's rights to know, but in this particular case they are withholding that knowledge from the people because they know that it would not be in their interest for the public to know that it's not in their public interest to have that information.

We at least had the courage in 1993 to release this information. We had the courage to do that and, of course, we got hammered by various sectors in Metropolitan Toronto, but that's what you get for trying to do the right thing. Mr Eves says: "Oh no, there's no point releasing the information because if we release it, people won't know what to do with it. There are so many factors that come into play. There's no point doing it."

We urge Mr Eves to give us that information because we feel that, with it, people will have a better sense of what the impact will be on them. Metro Toronto is going to face one of the most serious tax increases we've ever seen.

Mr Preston: Not a fact.

Mr Kormos: Niagara region as well. Welland, Thorold, St Catharines, Niagara Falls.

Mr Marchese: And many other jurisdictions. I didn't bring the whole list, but many jurisdictions.

Mr Kormos: Seventy-one million dollars in new taxes.

Mr Marchese: In Welland-Thorold $71 million?

Mr Kormos: In the Niagara region $71 million in new taxes.

Ms Martel: A hundred and five million dollars in the Sudbury region.

Mr Marchese: And $105 million in the Sudbury region.

Mr Preston says, "That's not a fact." These are numbers that these communities generate out of the expertise of the work they do. They do this on a daily basis, but Mr Preston says it's not a fact. I don't know how we tackle that. I don't know how you deal with that.

Mr Preston: A moment ago you said they were incompetent.

Mr Marchese: Who said they were incompetent?

Mr Preston: You did.

Ms Martel: We're talking about you guys.

Mr Marchese: Mr Preston, a minute ago I was referring to your ministry people who were saying the ministry is aware that the division cannot deliver the assessment in the time frame set by the government and still carry out the day-to-day assessment operations. That's what I was saying before. Is that what you're referring to?

Mr Kormos: How would he know?

Mr Marchese: Distracting me constantly. Shirley Hoy, the CEO of Metro services in Metropolitan Toronto, released a report, and they said that downloading itself is going to be $530 million. Applied across the board, this is going to be a 15.5% increase for everyone, on property taxpayers. I tell you, when people are going to face that kind of increase -- and add to that actual value assessment -- my God, the tax fire is going to look awfully, awfully bad.


Mr Marchese: He's saying, "Oh, don't worry about seniors," because he has permitted, through enabling legislation, municipalities to take care of them.

Mr Kormos: They won't have the money to take care of them.

Mr Marchese: To defer them possibly, as if deferral meant somehow they were exonerated, but they're not. Deferral only means they're going to pay later, not now. It's still the same problem. It means those people are going to still have to swallow that big horse pill and, I tell you, it's a big, big horse pill. It's going to be hard to swallow and the older you get the more difficult those pills become to swallow.

This 15.5% tax increase, plus the increase on actual value assessment, that's going to be a big pill, Mr Manning, Mr Preston Manning --



Mr Marchese: Mr Preston. It's going to be a big pill.

Here are the non-reassessed municipalities and district school area boards. I want to read them because I think it's important because they don't know. I suspect some of these municipalities don't know that they're about to be hit, whacked --

Mr Kormos: Niagara region.

Mr Marchese: Let me just see. You have Adjala, Tosorontio township. You have the Adolphustown township -- it's a difficult one to pronounce. I apologize to the people living there if I mispronounced it. Asquith, Garvey DSA board, Barrie township, Beardmore township, Bedford township, Belmont and Methuen township --

Mr Kormos: Are they going to get hit?

Mr Marchese: They're all going to be hit. Bradford, West Gwillimbury town, Brethour township, Brighton town, Brighton township, Caledon town, Camden East township, Caramat DSA board, Chapleau board, Chapleau township, Clarendon and Miller township, Cobalt town, Coleman township, Collins DSA board, Cramahe township, Denbigh, Abinger and Ashby township, Dilke township, Dymond township, East York borough, Essa township, Etobicoke city -- we know about Etobicoke; we have a few members here -- Foleet DSA board --

Interjection: Not for long.

Mr Kormos: Will those Etobicoke Tories get re-elected?

Mr Marchese: I'm not sure. After this, who knows whether some of these people will be elected, especially those who believe that they're infallible and there are not going to be any tax increases.

Mr Kormos: They better watch out for their seats.

Mr Marchese: Geraldton board, Gillies township, Gogama DSA board, Haldimand township, James Bay Lowlands board, James township, Kapuskasing town -- there's a lot of towns -- Kashabowie DSA board --

Mr Kormos: Little people.

Mr Marchese: Little people are most of these townships. They're not big people, wealthy people. They're little people and they're going to be hit. Kennebec township, Kilkenny DSA board, Markham town, Midland town, Mine Centre DSA board, Missarenda DSA board, Morley township, Morrisburg village, Murray township, Nakina township, New Tecumseth town, Nipigon-Red Rock board, North York city, Oshawa city -- and we've got a few members from Oshawa who think this is fair.

Mr Kormos: Not for long.

Mr Marchese: Palmerston and Ennis, Canonto, Penetanguishene town, Percy township, Prince township, Ramore township, Richmond Hill town -- we've got a few members here -- Scarborough city, Severn township, Slate Falls DSA board, Sturgeon Lake board, Summer Beaver DSA board, Toronto city, Trenton city, Umfreville DSA board, Upsala DSA board, Vaughan city, Verulam township, Wasaga Beach town -- I've been there several times -- Whitby town and York city.

I tell you, they're not, from what I can tell, wealthy communities. They're just ordinary people, working people --

Mr Kormos: Hardworking people.

Mr Marchese: -- hardworking people, seniors in many of these municipalities, many injured workers, people of modest incomes.

Mr Kormos: Are these people who make as much money as Al Leach?

Mr Marchese: They don't make as much money as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and some other ministers. They don't make as much money as some of the bankers that some of you want to support through your tax cut. A lot of these people are modest people. Modest people, not bankers. You've got to look at the impact that this is going to have on them. You just can't come out with a document that says, "We're about to bring about fairness to your communities," because they fail to say that in this scheme, somebody benefits but somebody will hurt from it, and that's what this is all about.

You have another measure here --


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: Thank you, Mr Speaker. All of this insanity is because of the income tax cut. They don't like to hear it. I know they become very upset when you raise it, because they say: "No, this is good for the public. An income tax cut, however and whoever gets it, is going to be spent. It's great for the economy." In fact, Mr Eves claims this has created all these hundreds of jobs. If that is the case, I ask the minister, bring forth the studies. Bring them out, because I don't believe for one moment that we've had more than a few jobs because of their income tax cut.

That income tax cut is going to the wealthiest and most privileged people in this province. That's where it's going. Sixty per cent of all of that income tax goes to 10% of the wealthiest and most privileged of our citizens. So Mr Eves and all the others are saying: "Don't worry. Whatever we give to these rich people they're going to spend somehow."

Mr Kormos: Does Al Leach spend all of his money while he's triple-dipping?

Mr Marchese: Do all these ministers spend their money? Do all the bankers who benefit from this spend their money on essential goods: on fridges and toasters and stoves and essential appliances that we need day to day? Are those bankers earning $1.7 million going to spend their money in those areas where the economy in fact is helped? They're not going to do that. They're investing their money. That's what bankers do: They invest. You know where it goes? Most of that money goes out of the country, not internal to our own communities and what would benefit our communities. It goes out of the country so that they can make more money for themselves. That's what this is about.

You see, when this government is forced to do these things in order to be able to deliver a tax cut, it offends so many of us. It offends me that this government is offloading, downloading so much on to the municipal taxpayers: community police financing, integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes. Speaking of that, and I'll return to this long list, these measures, he says -- the integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes -- amount to a $171-million tax cut for farmers and a further $8 million tax cut for woodlot owners.

The farmers obviously don't lose in this regard. They benefit, as they did before, but it solves a whole lot of paperwork; this is true. But a whole lot of municipalities -- I was at the ROMA conference just this week, this Monday.

Ms Martel: I was there.

Mr Marchese: And Shelley Martel was there and our leader Howard Hampton was there. Bud Wildman was there. A number of our members were there, listening in. We know that a lot of members from ROMA are very concerned about this particular measure itself, because they know that as municipalities, they will have lost $171 million or $175 million, which they need and needed and will need to be able to deal with their own community problems.


To a question asked of the parliamentary assistant on this very issue: "Where is that money? Is it there? How do we access? What are you going to do with it?" I'm not sure what the parliamentary assistant gave by way of an answer, but I can tell you it wasn't clear. It wasn't clear to the questioner, who wanted certainty from that parliamentary assistant, who of course couldn't give any certainty because parliamentary assistants are never given any power to make decisions, or to even know really what the minister and/or the government in cabinet would decide to do with that money.

That $171 million, for all intents and purposes, is gone. It's not there. You don't really have it. It's this fictional number that you create, like this fund that you have, this $1-billion fund, this now $2.5-billion fund, this extra $5 million that has been added to the hopper. All this money is not there. So people come and ask you -- at least, in that case at the conference, because the minister didn't show up, by the way. Shelley, I don't know if you noticed.

A number of people spoke to this and said, "We are offended that Minister Leach is not here at this conference," and there was a great deal of clapping at the fact that they took offence that the minister didn't have the courage to show up and make himself accountable. A lot of those people coming from the rural areas had a lot of questions. They did. They had a lot of questions, and they had to turn people off because there was a cutoff at 12 o'clock and a lot of people who were up at the mikes couldn't speak because there wasn't enough time.

The minister should have been there to answer some of those questions, but he didn't have the courage to make himself accountable, and that minister in particular should have been there to make himself accountable because the parliamentary assistant couldn't answer the question as to where the $171 million is?

Mr Kormos: He doesn't know.

Mr Marchese: He didn't know, I know that, because he answered in a way that he didn't know.

People from rural communities wanted reassurance from this government that the money that it's taken away is there. We're not sure. I asked a question of the minister with respect to this fund, "Can you give us assurances that this fund, that $1 billion will be there year in and year out?" he didn't answer with assurances. He didn't answer because the money isn't really there.

When people come on bended knee for support for a particular program or some particular suffering they're facing in their communities, the government will have to find money but it essentially isn't there. It's not as if, "Here's $1 billion set aside." It's a fictional number, it's an elastic number that grows. Like an elastic, it just grows. If people say, "Increase it," they say, "Okay, we'll increase it." Like an elastic, you stretch it out a little more and you add a little more money to it if that's what people need to hear, but it's not there.

We are very concerned about the impact.

Ms Martel: What if you have to spend your reserves too?

Mr Marchese: Their own reserves. No doubt. Of course, municipalities will, by force, have to use the reserves they might have wherever they have reserves. As you are engaged in discussion with them and saying, "We've got a couple of million here, but Premier, we need that money in reserve, so don't force us to spend that money," do you think Mike is going to say, "Oh, you're right. Keep it, because you might need it for a rainy day"? No, he's going to say: "Spend it. Spend your reserve or cut services."

That's what it's all about: Cut services or increase your property taxes. Mike Harris, the Taxfighter, knows that to increase property taxes would be a mortal sin for a lot of municipal people. They can't increase property taxes; that would be a problem. So they're faced with having to harmonize downward, cutting services.

Not only that; you're going to see a mismatch, a hopscotch type of helter-skelter servicing in every area of service that you are about to dump on them on this. You have dumped on them the business occupancy tax; that's a dump. You look fantastic in doing it, you get credit -- "Finally some government has the fortitude to deal with it" -- but municipalities are left to deal with that. You take $171 million away from your integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes, but those rural municipalities are faced with having to deal with a shortfall because they've got a problem now.

What does the government say to that? "It's your problem. If you've got a problem, come and talk to us and we'll see." Is that the way municipal governments should come down? When you, the municipality, go to the Mike Harris government, he's going to tell you: "You deal with your own problems. Privatize your services if you've got to save money."

Mr Kormos: Sell off your nursing homes, your seniors' homes.

Mr Marchese: That's really what it's about. Not only that: "Sell off public housing." That's what this is all about. The fear we have is that a lot of these communities are likely to sell the land of public housing, because in some of those areas that land is very lucrative and if you sell it you stand to make a lot of money. You think municipalities faced with a particular problem of finance are not going to sell off some of that land?

Mr Kormos: They don't want to, but they have to.

Mr Marchese: Many don't want to, it is true, but they're going to be put into a very difficult position of selling public land, of privatizing a lot of services that are now public, reducing the service as a result of privatizing, because that's really what privatization is all about. At the end of the day, what you've got is property taxes that are high, or higher if they've got the courage to increase them because they've got to, and service is diminished.

This government is introducing a bill that it says is somehow going to bring about greater fairness. I have highlighted two areas -- the business occupancy tax and the integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes -- that are going to create a problem for municipalities. That in itself is a problem. This government refuses to admit that's a problem, but I tell you it is a big problem.

Actual value assessment, or market value, which is what this is all about, is going to create higher property tax increases. Your municipalities, the ones you call partners, are not really your partners; they are your hostages. They're not really volunteers in this. Most of these municipalities haven't volunteered their services to this government. Most of these municipalities are telling you, "Please don't dump this on to us."

AMO in particular, representing municipal government, is saying, "This is a serious problem you are dumping on us, and we don't want it." They're not your partners. They're not volunteering. They are being forced to accept a horse pill that is very hard to swallow. They are your hostages, and a lot of these communities are fighting back. They're fighting back because they know they're facing and are going to face a serious problem.

For many, getting a property tax increase is serious enough, but what's worse is that services are going to be seriously affected in every area imaginable: in the area of housing, in the area of child care, in the area of social assistance, in the area of public health, in the area of libraries. In every area that you're dumping on to these municipalities, those services are going to be affected. Think of that.

Long-term care: We are about to have a community of seniors that is beyond our imagination. We're going to have a lot of seniors in about 10 years' time. We will need long-term-care services, special services to be delivered for those folks within a 10-year period. This government knows the demographics. They know we're about to enter into an age where we're going to have a lot of seniors in our communities, and they are dumping this particular service and so many others on to their so-called partners. Well, these partners are saying: "We don't want it. We can't afford to assume a responsibility for something which will grow, not only in numbers but in costs." And you, this government that is seriously eliminating and obliterating hospitals, are not putting the money back into our communities to be able to help people. You are obliterating hospitals all over this fine province and you're not putting the money back.


Municipalities are worried. They're frightened. At the ROMA conference, the rural municipalities conference I was at, they were very afraid of this. Some of them are about to lose hospitals with one quick brush of your pen. They're gone. They're worried because they know that in some of these communities where distances are so vast it's going to be a hell of a thing to be able to get the health care services they need. And you dump this on these municipalities that have become your hostages. Come on.

Long-term care is going to increase in its costs. Education is going to go down because you're going to pull away $2 billion. You're going to pull $2 billion out of education and that's why costs are going to go down. And quality is not going to be improved by your taking it away. You all constantly argue that the NDP and others say, "We'll only increase quality by increasing the money they get." The opposite, this argument says, is true: "We're going to decrease it to make quality better."

No, my friends, you're not going to be increasing quality by decreasing funding. In fact the quality of education is going to be fundamentally deranged by you and by the $2-billion cuts you're going to inflict on those children and those school teachers. Not only will boards be forced to fire paraprofessionals, social workers, inner city programs they have in some of those areas, educational assistants, but principals might even be affected by this, I tell you, and consultants who do a good job, because a lot of consultants offer a lot of curriculum assistance to teachers. A lot of these people will be gone. You know something else? We've done a study in the Toronto board that says class sizes are going to increase.

You are passing on incredible costs to municipalities, and long-term care is a very expensive one. Housing will be very expensive to municipalities, to maintain those buildings, because they're 30 years old. This government isn't passing the money on. That $1 billion that has become very elastic -- fictional in your own minds -- is not going to be there to support these people.

Social assistance will become an always increasing problem. Everybody's telling you that, including your former friend Mr Crombie. Your former friend Mr Crombie is telling you: "Don't do this. It's an insanity." He knows that in the next recession, which is not far away -- we've seen recessions every five years now. They used to be every seven years and now they're coming much closer to each other. Every five years now we're getting a recession. So welfare costs are going up, jacking right up. They will, inevitably, because recessions will come.

You've got housing, you've got long-term care, you've got child care that has become mandatory now. You take the little money that you gave to provide some provincial support and influence in municipalities and you give it all away. You give it all away to the municipalities.

Libraries that are essential to communities, and in some communities more than others, you're taking them away from people who need that service. I tell you, municipalities are going to have to cut back. They have to. They've got to cut back, and they're cutting back now. It's not as if we're inventing this. They're cutting back now. Libraries are needed for children.

There's no money. You're giving a tax cut. That's where your money's going. That's why we don't have it.

Hon Mr Sterling: You spent all the money.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The Minister of Environment is not being helpful. I would ask that he discontinue that line of heckling.

Interjection: Try another kind.

The Speaker: That's very fair: any line of heckling.

Mr Marchese: We've taken the money? No, you're sucking the money away. It's like this big sucking machine called the income tax cut. It's going into the big mouths of your privileged friends, particularly your banker friends -- types, not just bankers -- sucking it away into those deep pockets. The Conrad Blacks of this world, that's where it's going. That income tax cut is one of the most insane of policies, of ideas, that you have ever put forth. Insane. These ministers have the courage and the guts to say we spent it all. They give it away to their very privileged friends without flinching one moment. They have a lot of money for their wealthy friends, but they have nothing left for their municipalities.

Hon Mr Sterling: You increased the taxes to those making $20,000 a year, you guys.

Mr Marchese: We increased the taxes, eh? You are about to increase across the board. Property taxes across the board are going to go right up. They're going to get whacked by this Conservative government. Small business is going to be whacked by this government through property tax increases.

These taxfighters have the gall to say, "We did it. We're doing this one," you and your big bus, Mike Harris coming back to Toronto with a big bus. But this big bus is no longer the Taxfighter; it's Mike With a Big Bus the Taxfighter, and he's driving it with the infallible lackeys right behind cheering him on: "Go ahead, Mikey, you're doing a fine job."


The Speaker: I appreciate the member for Fort York is doing his best to have a sensible, rational debate and he's being interrupted on a fairly regular basis by the members opposite, particularly the member for Brant-Haldimand. I would ask that you come to order.

Mr Preston: I'm sorry.

The Speaker: Thank you. And I would ask the member for Fort York -- I understand this situation and the points you'd like to make. If you could help me by being somewhat less vociferous, maybe that would be helpful.

Mr Marchese: I want to thank my good friend the Speaker for his support. "Vociferous" is a good word. "Vociferous" means that one is loud, and sometimes you have to be forceful to be heard, because the heckling on the other side sometimes is a bit disconcerting, so you've got to be a little more vociferous to be heard.

I was at the point of talking about the tax hiker now, that new bus making a U-turn around that corner again. You remember that bus, right, boys, the big one you used to drive with? Some of you were in it; some of you were in that bus, driving it along, saying, "We're going to decrease your taxes." Oh, yes, you're going to decrease taxes. While you give the billions away to your friends, you're decreasing it for your other friends. The poor people are going to get a tax hike while your privileged friends are going to get a tax break. This is a big tax break. They're going to get a big one, all right.

We're talking about ordinary people all of a sudden having to deal with the likes of all of you, the people who make $22,000. People who rent in a rental building, a third of them, 33%, make $23,000.

Hon Mr Sterling: What about your mileage?

Mr Marchese: Oh, he's angry; he's hurt. Minister, I urge you to have your time when you're up, because I want to hear those eloquent remarks that you have to make. I'm impressed by them. Please, I know if I say these things that hurt you, you've got to dig for something to defend yourself, but you're grasping. You really are.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): You're grasping.

Mr Marchese: I'm grasping? No, no, my friends. No, you're grasping into the pockets of the little people, taking it away and transferring it to your rich friends. You've got your clutches into the pockets of the little people and giving it to your friends: Conrad Black. That's Mike's good buddy. Mike and Conrad are good buddies; they like each other a lot. Conrad doesn't like social democrats and he hates socialists.

Mr Kormos: He hates workers.

Mr Marchese: He doesn't like workers, though he says he does.

Mr Kormos: Well, when?

Mr Marchese: He says he's improving the quality of the information they get. Not only that: He says that by amalgamating and consuming all these papers, he's providing jobs for people. That's what he says.

Mr Kormos: But he's laying them off.

Mr Marchese: Exactly. He fires them by the thousands and then he says, "But we're saving them at the same time." Mike and Conrad are one and the same, taking from the low- and modest-income earners, grasping and clasping at their pockets to transfer it away to their privileged friends. It is an insult, an insult to all of us.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): How is AVA different from MVA?

Mr Marchese: I've got a long list. Here is a comparison. Do some of my colleagues want to hear a comparison of AVA and MVA?

Mr Christopherson: We would be very interested to hear that. Get the truth out there.

Mr Bisson: There isn't any difference, is there?

Mr Marchese: There are some differences, Mr Speaker, for your benefit, because this is detailed and it's important for people to know the difference between actual value and market value assessment.

Interjection: Ask Al Leach.

Mr Marchese: Al doesn't have this. The minister needs this.

Mr Spina: Remarks in Italian.

Mr Marchese: He's speaking Italian again, Mr Speaker.

Mr Bisson: Is he saying nice things?

Mr Marchese: Remarks in Italian.

The Speaker: Listen, I understand, but Italian isn't one of the official languages. I would just ask that you stick with French or English. As far as heckling is concerned, it's always out of order, member for Brampton North, in any language.

M. Marchese : Je voudrais le dire en français mais c'est trop difficile. Mes chers collègues, Monsieur le Président, here's that comparison:

Roll return activity; here's the activity on one part: annual under actual value, and under market value it's annual. No difference in this regard.

Reassessment: It's annual under actual value assessment and, under market value assessment, reassessments are done by request, but regional and county-wide assessments have mandatory four-year updates. Municipalities can elect to be reassessed at full market value or by property class.

Moving on to base-year valuation: The base-year valuation is updated annually and the effective date is July 1 of the year prior to the taxation year. Under market value assessment the base year changes every four years. There's a two-year lag in applying the base year to allow time for data collection.

Values on roll: Separate land and structure values are recorded on the roll under actual value, and under market value only one value is recorded on the roll, but they are the same.

Mr Bisson: Does Al Leach know this?

Mr Marchese: M. Leach has to hear this. He needs a copy. If the staff behind the Speaker don't have this, I've got a copy for you. I think you've got to pass it on. You've got it? You've got it. Good. But you should pass it on to the minister, because I'm not sure he's clear about the differences. I tell you, this is technical stuff, very technical. We've heard the minister answering technical questions, and you know, Speaker, how complicated that is.

Mr Speaker, there are only a few minutes left, so what I want to do is to summarize. This is a two-pager. I know you have concerns around small business people, and this will affect them so you should look at these.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): How come he's whacking them?

Mr Marchese: He's whacking them. They're all whacking them. They're all whacking small business people, all of them. I read to you the list from the city of Toronto that speaks about how small business gets whacked by actual value assessment, or market value, and gets whacked by the downloading of the municipalities this government holds as hostages, not partners. "Partners" means that people are voluntarily engaged in the process together. That's what it means, that we sit down together and agree on how to manage a particular problem. In this case, Mike Harris went with a gun and said: "Boys, you're my partners. You're about receive a number of services that you may not like, but here is the gun. If you don't like it, the gun is here."

You've got a number of choices. You can cut your services or increase property taxes, or you can do both. You can increase property taxes; if you want to maintain the present level of services, you've got to increase property taxes. But they can't increase property taxes because if they do, it would be suicidal. This government knows that. The reason they are dumping these services on to municipalities is because they know these hostages are the ones who are going to have to do the cuts and take the blame. The provincial government can sit pretty and say: "We didn't do it. You mean transportation has been affected in Metropolitan Toronto? We didn't do it." The minister says: "No, Metro did that. I didn't do anything."

They cut back, and if they leave that poor municipality to its own devices, it doesn't have the money so it ends up cutting, and then the ministers sit pretty and say: "We haven't done a thing. All we've done is to provide enabling legislation that permits municipalities to do some things. Yes, those things may be bad, but they're doing it, not us."

Bill 106 is not a fair bill. It is a bill that's going to whack small business, seniors and people with low incomes, injured workers who own homes, and it's going to whack them in a serious way. When they find out, this government is not going to look very good, and they'll come after you.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Ms Bassett: I must point out that the member for Fort York got carried away for 90 minutes criticizing aspects of our bill rather than recognizing that this is an outdated, archaic property tax system that we vowed to change, which every other government vowed to change and just didn't have the courage to move forward on.

I want to clarify three points, first about the issue of reassessment being not on time. I want you to know, for the record, that the project of updating assessment values is on target and on schedule. Sales investigations will be 90% complete by March 31 of this year, onsite property reinspections will be almost half completed by March 31 and income data collection will be 80% complete by March 31. So we are moving forward.

Now on the issue of the elimination of the business occupancy tax, a tax that came in in 1904: For somebody so young as the member for Fort York, I find it amazing that he's so regressive, wanting to hold on to something so old. The business occupancy tax loses on average $200 million a year we are in arrears collecting; it's impossible to collect.

We are changing the system to make it fairer and we are allowing the municipalities to recover the revenue they should be getting from that in fair ways, where they want to assess other properties. That's certainly within what everybody has been calling for for months, in fact years.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I wonder if the member is aware of how this will be covered in the news media, so I ask him this particular question. It says today:

"Baton Broadcasting Inc has announced that effective immediately it is restructuring its television operations in Ontario. The restructuring will result in the elimination of 154 full- and part-time positions and will yield ongoing savings from all Ontario operations of $8.3 million a year. At Baton's wholly owned operations in Toronto, Ottawa and northern Ontario the efficiencies will result in the elimination of 87 full- and part-time positions, affecting 80 employees. In London and Kitchener, where Baton manages television operations owned jointly with Electrohome Ltd, restructuring will result in the elimination of 67 full-time and part-time staff positions, affecting 62 people."

I'm just wondering whether the member, in view of the fact that we've seen countless layoffs in the newspaper industry as a result of one person by the name of Conrad Black taking over newspaper operations, and we see people disappearing from the gallery daily -- and this is for all of us to consider, not anybody else; this just happened to be today's -- if we look at all the cuts that have been made over the years from the Conrad Black operations, from television operations -- I remember channel 11 a while ago had 26 layoffs or something like this; CBC is being cut back -- whether the member has a concern that issues such as the one he is discussing today can be adequately covered when people are losing their jobs left and right and we have fewer people to cover this place and other places where significant decisions are being made. I would be very interested in the member's comments on that.

Mr Kormos: Considering the rate at which Conrad Black has been gobbling up small-town newspapers and spitting out their staff, it's no wonder they call him "Tubby." I understand now why corpulence has become a problem. He's clearly overfed and underexercised.

The member for Fort York has addressed this in an arresting way, a compelling way. Quite frankly the message is one that, I tell you, some of these people across the floor had better start listening to because they clearly aren't getting the straight goods from their own leadership and their own cabinet and from the back rooms over there at Whitney or the back rooms over on Bay Street where the decision-making is taking place.

Let me tell you about Niagara region. First they were hopeful. They hoped that the downloading would maybe involve only some $30 million, $31 million in new taxes. After a more thorough analysis we're up to over $70 million in new taxes for the folks in the Niagara region -- for seniors, for the growing numbers of unemployed, for young families, for students.

They're shutting down hospitals built by the hardworking people of Niagara region, hospitals that are essential to adequate, competent health care. Let me tell you about the report that was made to Niagara regional council suggesting that if this government persists, they may have to sell off at least three of their seniors homes, of their nursing homes, the place where we put our folks and grandfolks in, hoping they can receive some modestly decent care in their senior years; further, that we're going to have to forfeit hundreds of child care spaces, attacking and condemning those women who are eager to get out into the workplace and compete as much as they have to, to work at jobs that simply aren't there.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It's been an interesting few minutes to sit here. We went 90 minutes with the actual presentation from the member for Fort York and the two rebuttals from the Liberals and NDP without even talking about the bill in question. For those watching at home with the trailer going across your screen, it was talking about the reform of the property tax bill. It's sad that neither of the parties opposite wants to deal with this bill, which will deal with decades-old inequities.

They didn't have the courage to change it. They went right to the brink. The NDP went right to the brink and didn't have the courage to bring in market value assessment. Why? Because their downtown friends in Toronto talked them out of it, and people across this province who would have benefited from having a fair taxation system were denied that right. Our government has now put this in place. The land won't be assessed at the highest and best value; it'll be assessed at its current value. There will be all sorts of opportunities not only to address the unfairness in the assessment but to make sure, for those going up, that there are --


The Speaker: Members of the third party, it's difficult enough to hear the members when there's no heckling, and I request the members to come to order.

Mr Gilchrist: The member for Fort York was commenting about heckling during his presentation. We've got Bonnie and Clyde opposite who are doing their best. The member for Welland-Thorold was commenting that the member for St Catharines was presenting things in an arresting way, and there's no doubt he can speak informedly to that.

Seriously, the bottom line is this: We will, for the first time in 50 years in this province, have a fair taxation system that will address the inequities and guarantee that everywhere you live in this province, you'll pay the right level of tax, not something based on 54-years-out-of-date statistics, which is the case today.

The Speaker: Response, member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: I appreciate the comments from the members for St Andrew-St Patrick, St Catharines, Welland-Thorold and Scarborough East.

On the issue of the business occupancy tax I have said that the government gets to say, "We're eliminating this tax, which is $1.6 billion, but we're leaving or enabling the municipality with a way to find that amount." That's a problem. You look good by taking it out because it's an outdated 1904 tax, but you leave your hostages to find a way to deal with the $1.6 billion. So you look great by doing that.

Someone has got to find a system and a way to deal with that. That's a problem. You have the courage to deal with an outdated system, but what you don't have is the courage to say, "Some people are going to be whacked as a result of this." Many people in your riding of Scarborough are going to be whacked too. They're going to be whacked with a tax increase. Maybe you don't know it, but many of them know it as well. Those people who don't get a tax increase are going to be faced with a tax increase when they confront the download, because the download is going to force tax hikes. So that person who thinks he is going to be spared as a result of AVA or MVA -- which is irrelevant; it all means you're going to get a tax increase -- that person is going to face a tax increase. That's the problem.

As for the comments from my colleague from St Catharines, the point is that industries like Baton Broadcasting, when they fire people, that is the way they make their money. They make it at the expense of workers. You're quite right that there will be fewer people to be able to cover the news, fewer people to cover what people who are hurt have to say.

The Speaker: Thank you.


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, I don't want to hear it. Just come to order.

Further debate?

Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, I know you will certainly be listening attentively to this debate because we have discussed this very issue of property taxes on many occasions, sometimes quite heatedly.


This bill we have before us today, Bill 106, the Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997, is a bill to have a standardized assessment all across the province of Ontario, something we haven't had for most of this century. I would like to provide a little bit of historical perspective in terms of where we find ourselves at this moment.

We have at this moment a patchwork quilt of assessment all across Ontario. We have many municipalities that have already implemented market value assessment over the last few years under both the Liberal government and the NDP government. One of the last areas of the province that did not have an updated assessment was Metropolitan Toronto.

At the time the Liberals were in power, Metropolitan Toronto requested that that government implement legislation allowing it to put forward market value based on a 1984 assessment. The Minister of Revenue at the time, Bernard Grandmaître, the member for Ottawa East, agreed, but with the caveat that it had to be a 1988 assessment, not a 1984 assessment.

The Liberals are papered every way to Sunday that they were going to implement 1988 market value assessment. You cannot duck it. I have to say, before I was involved in politics, when I was a ratepayer president, I had a continuous correspondence with Bernard Grandmaître on the issue of market value assessment and the areas I perceived to be wrong about market value assessment. It was very clear that the Liberals intended to go forward with it, but they wanted this 1988 assessment. They were about to implement it in 1990.

Mr Baird: What happened?

Mr Turnbull: But folks, something came in between. It's called an election. Guess what? They didn't win that election, even though they had said they were going to implement -- I believe my colleague across the floor is pointing to some debates from the House. I want to point out that of course the NDP came in and introduced legislation in December 1992 to implement market value assessment in Metropolitan Toronto.

The proposal they came forward with was seriously flawed. Indeed, in the end, after a lot of urging from myself, our party pressed for public hearings and got public hearings. It wasn't something that the Liberals were very keen on, because they already had said they were going to implement market value assessment in Metropolitan Toronto. But out of the debate that went on in the public hearings, it became apparent that the plan which the NDP was putting forward, the plan which the Liberals had said they were going to move on, was not acceptable for several reasons.

I would return to the discussion of the minister of the day, the Honourable David Cooke, when he rose in the House after the public hearings and said he was going to temporarily withdraw the legislation, Bill 94. I'm just going to read a few excerpts. He said, "We're sending the plan back to Metro for revision and resolution of problems I will highlight today," that indeed I will highlight too. He further went on to say, "As the public hearings into Bill 94 continued, day and night, accommodating 175 individuals and organizations, the ultimate workability of Metro's plan was also called into question."

Further, he said: "We do not intend to withdraw the bill. We simply want a [more] workable Metro plan."

He goes on to say, "From the beginning we saw Metro's interim plan as an attempt by a duly elected body to update a property tax system that had not been reviewed for 50 years."

I would really suggest that perhaps the last debater in this House might want to review this speech by his former colleague. I know they're not very happy with him these days, but be that as it may.

Mr Baird: Who said that?

Mr Turnbull: That was the Honourable David Cooke when he was the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

He went on to say: "Members of this House will also know that I stated early on that I was concerned that a change in home ownership would automatically move that property to full market value assessment. We also expressed concern that other properties, like railway and hydro rights of way, vacant lands and municipal parking authorities, would move to full market assessment...upon implementation."

He also commented on the cost that was estimated to Ontario Hydro, which would be $60 million a year by moving to market value. He also said that CN and CP were estimated to have an increase in their taxes of some $40 million a year, which would have crippled the railway's ability to operate in Metropolitan Toronto.

The minister was saying, "Yes, I agree to market value assessment, but the problems I have are basically how you treat land in terms of being taxed as to the highest and best use," but he didn't do anything about it. He said: "I'll let that go ahead. I'm only concerned really about the utility rights of way and the fact that houses, upon sale, would move to full market value assessment." They didn't do anything other than that.

They said they were going to pass market value assessment, so let me be very adamant about this: In the debate that we've heard today, a debate where the Liberals have taken part and the NDP has taken part, they are talking about the fact that there's something wrong with this legislation.

Mr Bradley: I found it.

Mr Turnbull: I intend to perhaps mention some of the things I had as problems, which are well recorded in Hansard and which I'm sure my colleague the member for St Catharines is about to quote. I will address those specifically.

The principal problem we've had with market value assessment is that it was inequitable in its application, for several different reasons. One of them was the fact that it was a market-based assessment. I am a person who has always opposed a value-based assessment. I've lost that argument, and I will say publicly, I think it's unfortunate. The majority of the Liberal Party, the majority of the NDP and the majority of the Conservatives believe that a value-based assessment is the right way of assessing, and I will make the statement once again as to why I think that is wrong.

Mr Bradley: Page 3490.

Mr Turnbull: With all due respect, Mr Bradley, if you would listen to what I am saying you would know that I am addressing specifically the debate that I have joined in the past.

Mr Bradley: This is a petition. You read a petition.

Mr Turnbull: Well, good. It was no doubt a petition opposing market value assessment.

The problem we have with a value-based assessment is the fact that it is not a measure of people's ability to pay and it is not a measure of the use of services. But having said that -- and I've argued that very vociferously with you, Mr Speaker, among others, on many occasions. I've lost that debate. I still think I would like to see all the members of this House coming together and saying, "No, we shouldn't have a value-based assessment," but it's not in the cards, because around this great province of ours the majority of people feel that it's equitable.

The other area that market value was wrong in and that we are addressing, and that's why I can support this legislation, is the fact that we're going to a standardized year for assessment all across the province, a year which will allow the province to measure the value of properties and the ability to tax in all parts of the province, in all municipalities. We're moving to a stable year of assessment.

Market value was going to be on the 1988 assessment year, the most unstable year we've ever had in values, where we saw the differential between the low end of the market and the high end of the market at an all-time high. However, 1996 had a much more stabilized effect; the differential was smaller. It is still there but significantly smaller. There was a sufficient number of sales in that year to make it a good year to measure and yet sales had not gone up in that year. As a matter of fact, the value of the sales had gone down slightly, so it was stable.

I see my friend from -- where is it? -- Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am wondering if it would be helpful to the debate if I were to read a petition the member for York Mills read --

The Speaker: I am very certain that it will not be helpful. Actually, you know what? I'll just say that it's 6 of the clock and we'll adjourn the House and -- I've completely forgotten the words, actually; it's left me. We will be back at 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1802.