36th Parliament, 1st Session

L161 - Wed 12 Feb 1997 / Mer 12 Fév 1997



















































The House met at 1333.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): The bully government that brought us Bill 26 a year ago is at it again, steamrolling legislation that brings about major changes to the way we are governed and the way vital services are provided. In this case, what is at risk with this government's agenda is the future of public education itself.

Today we will vote on second reading of Bill 104, and only three opposition speakers in total have been heard.

On Monday we begin hearings on Bill 104, dealing with the amalgamation of school boards, an item on which 951 people have already asked to make their concerns known before those hearings have even been advertised. But this government wants this bill fast, just like the megacity bill, so it can just roll along and do whatever it is it wants to do next. That means at least 1,000 people are going to be shut out and won't be heard on an issue that will affect generations of future students.

This government, over and over again, has shown a contempt for public opinion. We saw that clearly in the refusal to have hearings outside Queen's Park on municipal amalgamation. We saw it clearly when the Minister of Education locked out the parents of Annette Street public school who thought they should have some share in a discussion about the education of their children. Now we see it again, almost 1,000 people shut out by a government that is in a big hurry to give sweeping new powers to a non-elected, non-accountable commission. Even the limited hearings we do have are probably a sham, because this government is not likely to listen with only one afternoon on third reading.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, in Welland the 386 workers at Stelpipe Page-Hersey were forced on to a picket line November 1 of last year and remain there because of Stelpipe's refusal to negotiate. Only three times at the table, once for 10 minutes, once for 45 minutes and the last time for a mere 10 minutes when Stelpipe, in the most disappointing and cynical of bullying tactics, announced it was pulling its offer off the table.

Those workers, members of Local 523 from the Canadian Auto Workers, are seeking the most modest of improvements in their wage package, seeking some parity with other Stelco operations in the wages there, and seeking some decency for pension benefits well deserved by hardworking workers at that operation who have made profits for that company year in and year out.

I'm going to tell you, Mr Speaker, Stelpipe may think it has licence from this Harris government to beat up on workers and to attack trade unionists and to attack collective bargaining, but Mitch Labrie, the very capable shop chair of these workers, has the full support of those 386 striking Stelpipe workers, and those Stelpipe workers have the full support of their community: small business, seniors, other workers, young people and myself included.

I'm proud to be out there, as I have been, on the picket line with these Stelpipe workers as they're seeking some modest justice for working people in that workplace. Stelpipe won't win this game.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Recently I had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremonies of the Northumberland shelter and resource centre in Cobourg, operated by Northumberland Services for Women. This facility provides shelter and support throughout Northumberland county to women and children seeking immediate refuge from abusive situations.

Before construction of this new facility, up to 14 women and children shared three bedrooms and one bathroom. Now they will have the opportunity to begin confronting the problems with some measure of privacy. The more central location of the new shelter also addresses the past problem of access for those with limited or no mobility.

Women will also have access to a resource centre located beside the shelter. This centre provides women with follow-up counselling, as the average length of stay is only 14 days.

This project reached fruition through the coordinated efforts of many dedicated people. I extend a special thank you to Mrs Anita Blackwood, the chair of the board of the Northumberland Services for Women and the chair of the shelter committee.

The government of Ontario demonstrated its support for protecting women and children in this province by providing some $960,000 in grant money, which in combination with the agency's fund-raising efforts made this new and much-needed facility a reality in the county of Northumberland.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): In my part of eastern Ontario, as in much of the rest of the province, hospital closures, bed closures and deep cuts to the health and hospital programs are the central issue facing the community.

In Pembroke, just before Christmas of last year, the hospital restructuring commission came to town and slammed the door shut on a century-old public hospital, the Pembroke Civic Hospital, and in so doing took away not only a century-old facility but removed $14 million from the hospital budget of our community.

Last week the Ministry of Health came to town again and removed $1.6 million in annual funding to public hospitals in Deep River, Barry's Bay, Renfrew and Arnprior. That means that in the last six weeks the Ontario government has removed over $16 million from hospital budgets in my part of eastern Ontario. They are doing so, they say, on the basis of some new hospital bed standard.

I ask again today, as I did some weeks ago, to the Minister of Health, I want to see the list of any and all Ontario hospitals that are currently meeting this new bed standard. Thus far, I have no list and I'm beginning to believe that I'm not going to get one because none exists.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You will know that day after day I have been rising during members' statements to tell the Legislature about community meetings I've been attending. My colleagues and many people in this House are now attending two to three meetings a night, all revolving around citizens coming together to discuss this government's proposed changes to our local governance, the megacity bill, and also to discuss changes to the education system through Bill 104. I have to tell you that at every meeting I go to there are hundreds of people, and as I leave, those hundreds of people are exiting with anger and real disgust at the way in which this government is proceeding.

People do not want to see a government just ram through legislation without listening to them, and that's the feeling they have; that's what they see. I hear words describing the government that they're bull-headed, that they're arrogant, that their approach is completely dismissive of citizen input. I'm sure the government doesn't want to be labelled that way, but unless you listen to people, those labels are going to continue. In all my years of political activity, before being elected and since being elected, I have never seen citizens so upset, so concerned and so ready to come out and have their voices heard.

Parents in my riding are meeting regularly about the education changes now. They are absolutely opposed to them. Large meetings are being held school by school; petitions are coming in and later today I'll be presenting these. Their voices will be heard.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): Last week three Ontario centres hosted athletes from 80 countries that took part in the 1997 Special Olympics World Winter Games, the first time these games had been held in Canada. These special athletes demonstrated with determination and pride that doing your best to achieve a goal can be as rewarding as reaching it. My congratulations to the games organizers, the coaches, volunteers, supporters and to the host communities of Toronto, Collingwood and Duntroon for giving these athletes memories they will cherish forever.

This summer, Chatham-Kent will be host to the Ontario Special Olympics Games. From August 7 to 10, more than 850 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from 12 Ontario regions will arrive in Kent county to participate in such events as softball, soccer and track and field events. The event will also serve as a qualifying competition for the national summer games being held in 1998. Throughout the Chatham-Kent area, hundreds of volunteers, under the guidance of police constable Peter Bakker, who serves as chair of the games, are already hard at work making sure everything is ready for that wonderful week in August.

Special athletes from all parts of Ontario will gather in Chatham-Kent to spend a week in competition. They'll be treating the rest of us to marvellous displays of sportsmanship and skill. I'm sure all members join me in wishing them a successful event, and I extend an invitation to everyone across the province to attend the Ontario Special Olympics --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Another step in the direction of the Americanization of our health care system became evident with the news that Rural/Metro Corp is moving into Ontario by combining with seven privately run services already here in our province. Rural/Metro Corp now provides emergency services to more than 200 American communities and is looking to expand in a big way into the Ontario market, beginning with the half-million population it will serve as a result of its initial merger.

With the Harris government decision to dump responsibility for ambulance services on to the lap of municipalities, along with so many other items, it is obvious that the giant health care corporations in the United States would move in like vultures to grab a service that many municipalities are reluctant to take on.

With profit as their motive, will the US health care companies want payment up front and a far higher price for their services? It would be a sad day indeed when patients would have to produce their credit cards before entering an ambulance and incur huge costs for transportation and supplies. How many vulnerable people, faced with a higher price tag and an obligation to pay for ambulance services up front, will opt for a ride in a non-emergency vehicle unable to proceed rapidly and without proper lifesaving equipment?

The Premier should do what is right: retain ambulance services as a provincial funding responsibility and ensure that patient care, not profit, is the major consideration in the delivery of Ontario health care services.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is on the restructuring and the effects of the bully Bill 26, the effect it's having on the downloading and restructuring of the municipalities in northern Ontario.

In the past year mayors, reeves and town councillors across the province have been working hard to fully analyse the impacts of this government's sweeping reforms that will dramatically affect all municipalities of Ontario. Municipal leaders say there are a large number of issues to be addressed but nobody at the government or the ministry knows the answer.

They are also facing a dilemma: Either they come up with an amalgamation plan of their own and restructure and reduce the administrators and elected leaders or they will face the risk of having something shoved down their throats. In fact, this government plans to introduce legislation within the next few weeks to force non-organized territories and municipalities to amalgamate and plans to eliminate up to 500 municipalities across the province. The amalgamation of smaller municipalities with bigger towns demanded by this government will mean the loss of the distinct character and autonomy for the small towns administrated by the larger centres.

When asked about the $1-billion transition fund for municipalities at the ROMA convention, the parliamentary assistant said that only municipalities which are voluntarily bringing an alternative plan to the restructuring imposed by the government will be eligible for this funding. The status quo means that you are on your own -- no dollars. In other words, your government has no respect for democracy and is holding its heavy-handed measure over their heads. You're telling them to swallow the poison or they'll get shot. Some choice.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I rise in the House today to applaud and congratulate two hospitals in my riding for their innovative efforts in saving money.

St Joseph's Hospital in Brantford, long-known for finding cost efficiencies by maximizing its economies of scale through group purchasing as part of the St Joseph's health care system, has spearheaded a six-hospital group purchase of hip and knee replacement implants, including additional accessory items routinely used during joint replacement surgery, which will see overall savings of more than $1 million for the six hospitals involved over the next four years. More than $432,000 of those savings will benefit St Joseph's Hospital in Brantford as well as the Brantford General Hospital.

This represents an unprecedented agreement between 18 orthopaedic surgeons at six different hospitals to standardize the type of implants used in these procedures. Equally as important, it signals a recognition that we can find savings in new and creative ways if we are willing to look for them. The money saved on the implants will be reinvested by each of the hospitals involved on other priority items.

Again, I offer my congratulations to the creativity and innovative spirit of cooperation shown by each of the six hospitals as they ably demonstrate their commitment to patients in Brantford.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House that the Clerk has received a report and required amendments from the commissioners of estate bills with respect to Bill Pr63, An Act respecting the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company, Montreal Trust Company of Canada and Montreal Trust Company.

Accordingly, pursuant to standing order 86(e), the bill stands referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I have some rulings dealing with various concerns raised by members before question period on Thursday, February 6, 1997, and a further ruling in response to a point of privilege raised on Monday, February 10, 1997, and I'm fairly sure you're all interested.

I ended up doing more research than I anticipated, but I thought it was warranted in view of the importance of the matters raised.

The member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) inquired as to whether the Speaker had taken or would be taking steps to ensure that the assembly was informed of the impending criminal charges against the member for Welland-Thorold.

Let me confirm at the outset that I have received no official notice that the member for Welland-Thorold was going to be or has been charged, nor would I expect to.

However, I am not convinced that the assembly is obliged to receive notice that the member for Welland-Thorold will be or has been arrested. That view was not immediately obvious to me because, as the member for Algoma indicated, citation 88 in Beauchesne indicates that "from British practice it would seem that if a member is arrested the House should be informed, through the Speaker, by the judge or magistrate concerned."


I want to make the following observations on this reference:

First, given that the member for Welland-Thorold had yet to make an appearance in a court of law, I have some difficulty understanding how it could be that the House is supposed to receive a notice from a judge or magistrate.

Second, the authority for this citation from Beauchesne is a specific passage from Erskine May, a passage that makes clear that it applies to a member who is being detained from service in Parliament.

Third, the citation indicates that it has never been invoked with respect to the Parliament of Canada.

Finally, my review of recent instances in which a member of this assembly has been arrested suggests that there is no practice to the effect that the House or the Speaker receives notice of a member's impending arrest. It is not necessary for me to determine whether or not the House must be informed of the arrest of a member in circumstances where the arrest is accompanied by detention from service in Parliament, since that is not the situation that the member for Welland-Thorold finds himself in as of Thursday.

The closest this House has ever come to receiving official notice of criminal process against a member of the House was on June 27, 1977, when a judge's letter to the Speaker and the Clerk of the House was tabled in the House. The letter indicated that the judge had committed a member of the House to prison for refusing to testify as a witness at a preliminary hearing. That case is easily distinguishable from the case involving the member for Welland-Thorold.

In view of these observations and findings, I find that the interesting point raised by the member for Algoma does not raise a matter of order or privilege.

On a separate but related matter, the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton) and the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Lankin) expressed some concerns relating to remarks made by the Attorney General (Mr Harnick) in this House on November 7, 1996, about an incident involving the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos) and the member for Sudbury East (Ms Martel). The government House leader (Mr Johnson) and the Minister of Environment and Energy (Mr Sterling) spoke to these concerns.

Before I respond, I want to be very clear about two things: First, the Speaker cannot decide a legal or constitutional matter. Second, I do not want to say anything in this ruling that will prejudice the disposition of any legal proceeding relating to the November 7 incident. In getting those two statements on the record, I am not saying that the member for Rainy River or the member for Beaches-Woodbine has asked me to do otherwise: I am simply conveying how I intend to comply with standing order 13.

The member for Rainy River specifically mentioned the standing orders dealing with sub judice. Standing order 23(g) states that it is out of order for any member to make reference to any matter that is "pending in a court or before a judge for judicial determination or that is before any quasi-judicial body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an act of the Legislature." Now, my reading of that ruling is that sub judice applies to cases pending before a court or quasi-judicial body. This does not include matters pending or under police investigation. My research on this subject confirms this view.

At the time the Attorney General made the comments in question, I do not believe the matter was the subject of any judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding.

The member for Rainy River also argued that the remarks of the Attorney General on November 7 could be considered as making allegations or imputing motives contrary to standing order 23(h) and (i). I looked back on my ruling of November 18 and while these rules were not explicitly canvassed, it did essentially address the issue of orderliness of those remarks.

The issue raised by the member for Rainy River then is not a point of order.

However, the member for Rainy River also submitted that the remarks amounted to more than a matter of order, they amounted to a breach of privilege and bordered on contempt because they interfered with, showed disrespect for or prejudiced the justice system.

Both the member for Rainy River and the member for Beaches-Woodbine referred to a legal opinion which indicated that the actions of the Attorney General were "inconsistent with constitutional convention."

To these submissions, I have to respond by saying that after reviewing the parliamentary authorities on this issue I cannot see how the members' concerns fall within an existing head of privilege. Similarly, based on what my January 22 ruling had to say about contempt, I do not see how the members' concerns amount to a prima facie case of contempt. I will reiterate what I said in my ruling on November 18, that "while this may be a question that will have to be answered by some other authority, it is not a question that can be decided by the Speaker."

The member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) rose on a point of privilege on February 10 with new information on a matter raised previously with respect to the printing of party material at public expense.

Members will know that the provision of funds to the caucuses for print material is administered by the Board of Internal Economy and that there is a policy that governs that funding. All parties -- all parties -- would be well advised to carefully peruse the established policy.

To the member for Algoma, I have to say that while this does not constitute a point of privilege, it is certainly a matter for consideration at the Board of Internal Economy.

Finally, on the matter that the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley) raised, he also rose on a question of privilege on February 6 concerning a series of government-sponsored television commercials. I want to say to the member that I have not yet had an opportunity to review the commercials in question, but that I will do so very soon and report back to the House.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. For weeks now we've been telling you that your numbers were quite clearly wrong. We told you that you were shortchanging Ontario property taxpayers to the tune of $1 billion. You, of course, told us that we were all wet, that we did not know what we were talking about. In fact, you added that worried municipal officials who were crunching numbers right across the province were whiners when they came to the conclusion, after their work, that this was not a wash.

This morning one of the most senior officials in the Ministry of Finance, Anne Evans, the assistant deputy minister, confirmed what we've been saying all along: When you add up your errors and omissions, we are looking at a $1-billion property tax hike province-wide.

Premier, the jig is up. The truth is out. Why don't you have the good sense and the decency right here and now to admit that you've made a mistake?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Ms Evans provided some numbers to a reporter who put them down in such a way it omitted the $800 million that's there for transition assistance, omitted $700 million that is there, included some numbers that have already been relayed to municipalities and have nothing to do with who does what.

Let me say that one newspaper has numbers, another has numbers, municipalities have numbers, and there's numbers and there's numbers and there are figures. But I want to be very clear about something that's important. Nobody knows for sure, doing things in new ways, what the numbers will be. We have clearly acknowledged this. What we do know is this: If you continue to use numbers attached to programs delivered in the old ways, you will have a $35-billion deficit in Ottawa, you'll have an $11-billion deficit here, you'll have a 100% increase in property taxes --

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

Mr McGuinty: Premier, let's keep our eye on the ball. We're talking about your numbers produced by a senior official within the Ministry of Finance who tells us that we're looking at a $1-billion property tax hike to be applied province-wide. That's what we're talking about.

I'm saying that it was a mistake. Someone more cynical would say that you knew that the numbers were wrong and that you were deliberately attempting to hide the fact that you were dumping $1 billion on to property taxpayers. I, myself, would not say that. I'm claiming that it was a mistake.


Premier, for three weeks we have been telling you that you've made a $1-billion mistake. The mayors, the taxpayers federation and the board of trade have been telling you the same thing. Now even senior officials within one of your own ministries, the Ministry of Finance, is confirming what we've been telling you all along. Premier, why don't you just do the right thing? Tell us you've made a $1-billion mistake.

Hon Mr Harris: As fun as it is hitting these things out of the ball park, the Minister of Finance wants to take over.


The Speaker: Order. Minister.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The assistant Deputy Minister of Finance said no such thing. She did not.


Hon Mr Eves: I see the chorus is back, Mr Speaker, and they're in tune too today, which is quite unusual.

What was on the front page of the Globe and Mail today was numbers supplied by Gerry Phillips, your finance critic.


Hon Mr Eves: That's an impartial source, I know.


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Eves: I'll tell you what's wrong with Mr Phillips's numbers of $1 billion a year. We can go through them --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Anne Evans.

Hon Mr Eves: No, they're not Anne Evans's numbers. It's not anywhere quoted in that article attributable to her, absolutely not. It is somebody's interpretation of what Anne Evans said and what Gerry Phillips said. I will explain to you why Mr Phillips's numbers are wrong.

On municipal transit and GO Transit services, Mr Phillips claims the province has underestimated the impact on municipalities by $70 million. This claim is totally incorrect. Crombie used 1997-98 data. He did not reflect the province's intention to honour the five-year existing TTC capital plan. That number is wrong.

On the cost of ambulance services, Mr Phillips claims that the province underestimated the impact on municipalities by $50 million. This claim also is incorrect. The $200-million figure released by the government is the full cost of land ambulance service, which is only part of the ambulance --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.


The Speaker: I apologize.

Mr McGuinty: Yesterday the Minister of Finance told us the Toronto Star got it wrong. Today he tells us the Globe and Mail got it wrong. Perhaps the Sun should check with the minister to review tomorrow's article before going to print.

Minister, listen, you can call municipal mayors whiners, you can call us wrong, you can say the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is wrong, you can tell us the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is wrong, you can tell us ROMA is wrong, but it's not going to change the fact about the truth. Apparently we're all wrong except the minister and the Premier himself. The truth is that the numbers add up to one thing: a $1-billion property tax hike to be distributed across this province to Ontario property taxpayers. It's as simple as that.

Minister, your assistant Deputy Minister of Finance tells us the truth about dumping. We got that today. Why don't you tell us the truth right now?

Hon Mr Eves: I'd like to see the quote from the honourable member opposite where the assistant deputy minister is quoted as saying this will cost municipalities $900 million. He can't give me that quote because it doesn't exist; it's a figment of his imagination.

I just came from a meeting with my colleagues the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Community and Social Services. We had a very amicable, frank, forthright discussion with AMO, and I can tell you that we came out of that meeting with a very positive sense to set a process in place to discuss with municipalities how we can meet their special needs and accommodate them. We also had a very positive meeting with respect to the fact that we share one thing in common: We both acknowledge that there is only one taxpayer; we acknowledge that property taxes will not go up.

I say to the leader of the official opposition, if municipalities find 2% cost-efficiencies in the services they deliver --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Finance, thank you very much.


The Speaker: Thank you, Minister of Finance.


The Speaker: I don't want to argue with you. Chief government whip, I'm not into a debate with you. Everyone has the same amount of time to put their question and answer their question. It may indicate that you may agree more with some of the answers and the questions, but nobody gets any more time. New question.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): The question is to the Premier. The Minister of Finance talks about the importance of quotes, and I have one here that I think will be of considerable interest to all members.

I have a copy of the Fergus News Express. It tells the story of a meeting that took place on Monday, September 19, by Mike Harris, the then leader of the third party. The title is, "Harris Presents Common Sense Revolution Mandate to Area Politicians."

"Harris was asked if he's in favour of amalgamation, and he responded, `There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity. Why destroy our roots and pride? I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities."

Premier, how can you possibly reconcile this statement with your plans to impose bigger government on so many Ontario communities?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I was in Fergus. We're imposing no large government on the people of Fergus and they're doing very well.

Mr McGuinty: You know, this passage is so delicious and so unequivocal that it's worthy of repetition. This was a meeting, by the way, that was attended by a group of 40 municipal politicians and clerks, and Mr Harris then said, on Monday, September 19, the following: "There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity. Why destroy our roots and pride? I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities."

I couldn't agree more. Premier, once more, how can you possibly reconcile this statement with what you are doing right now, especially right here in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me reassure, as I did on September 19, 1994, the people of Fergus that we are not imposing a large government on the people of Fergus, and Fergus will maintain its name.

Let me also say, since you want to translate that into Toronto, that the proposal that we have brought forward is not to add one single person to Metropolitan Toronto, simply to eliminate seven layers of government into one layer of government.


Mr McGuinty: This is painful to watch. It's important to understand what the reason is behind this mega-dumping and the megacity. The reason we're moving forward on this, the reason the Premier is moving forward on this is because it's the only way municipalities across this province are going to be able to possibly find some way to contend with the new costs created by mega-dumping.

Premier, once more: You said, "There is no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity." You said, "Why destroy our roots and pride?" You said, "I disagree with restructuring, because it believes that bigger is better." Finally, you said, unequivocally and very, very clearly, "Services always cost more in larger communities," and you said that with complete conviction. So why is it that you are bent on proceeding with amalgamation in so many communities across the province, but especially here in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon Mr Harris: One of the things that was very evident to the people of Fergus was that services cost more in Metro Toronto than they did in Fergus. And one of the reasons they cost more in Metro Toronto than they did in Fergus was because there were seven layers of government, too many politicians, too many conflicts, too much in-fighting and too many other things going on.

The second thing that the people of Fergus were concerned about, and I am concerned about, was that in any restructuring nobody should lose their identity.

When previous amalgamations were brought forward in Toronto, they tried to take away the identities of some of the communities of Toronto. So while you took the heart out of Toronto with your taxes and you took the heart out of Toronto with the job loss, we not only are putting the heart back in, we're not only putting the tax base back in, we're not only putting the jobs back in, but we also want to bring back the communities: Willowdale, Don Mills, Mimico, Leaside, Swansea, Forest Hill, Weston, the Beaches. We want to put the communities back into Toronto, and our proposal will do that.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also to the Premier. Despite the story in the Globe and Mail today which delineates how your government is trying to underestimate the downloading, you still insist it's a wash by the year 2000 and your Minister of Municipal Affairs says it's a wash today. Despite the fact that municipalities across this province are adding up their numbers and know they are going to get hit with massive downloading, you still say, "Oh, there's no problem."

I want to ask you something else that's occurred. Just last month, in January, the general welfare caseload increased: in Durham region by 2.3%; Niagara region by 3%; Toronto by 1.8%; York region by 3.8%; and Hamilton-Wentworth by over 10%. Premier, you say that the costs of social assistance are going to go down but these figures indicate they're going up. Can you explain the discrepancies between your story and the story in the Globe and Mail and the story that the welfare statistics --

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

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the minister can explain what's happening with welfare in the province and will be proud to do so.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'm sure the honourable member will be aware that welfare costs in this province have come down since we've taken over the government. We've saved about $1.3 billion in savings on welfare, the municipalities have saved something like $140 million to $150 million in terms of the savings, and we will continue to see savings in the social assistance system as we get workfare up and running.

I would like to remind the honourable member that welfare is a cyclical program. We've always seen that, but we have also demonstrated as a government that it is possible to manage that program in a way that is sustainable, in a way that manages costs and in a way that makes sure those dollars are there for those people on welfare who need it.

Mr Hampton: What I heard from the Minister of Community and Social Services is that she has cut social assistance. We know that, and we know that she is forcing people out on the street. The point is, Minister, that despite all your cuts, despite taking the hatchet to the poorest people in the province, the caseloads continue to rise. Despite all your cuts, the number of people forced on to social assistance -- and the January figures are there -- continue to rise.

Minister, usually your ministry comes out and trumpets the province-wide caseload numbers right away. For some reason, this month you're holding off. You still haven't released January's numbers. We're left to wonder why. I think we know why.

What is really damaging is that your David Crombie was at ROMA yesterday. It was David Crombie at his best, saying ever so tactfully that Mike Harris should have listened to the Who Does What panel and left social assistance at the province-wide level. Why didn't you listen to David Crombie? Why did the government --

The Speaker: Leader, thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'd like to remind the honourable member that we are not booting people off social assistance. The National Council on Welfare's recent report that came out this week confirmed that our welfare rates are 12% above the average of the other provinces, so we still have a very generous system. We also are ensuring, through tighter eligibility, that only those people who need assistance will get that assistance.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Ontario has the highest in the country. The number of people in this province --

Hon Mrs Ecker: We are also rolling out our workfare across the province to make sure that those people on social assistance can get off and get back into the job force, where most of them want to be and where we want them to be. I would like to remind the honourable member --


The Speaker: Order. The member for Hamilton East, come to order. I'm warning you. The member for Oriole, come to order. I'm warning you as well. I realize that this issue is hot, but I want some order so I can hear the minister's answer. Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Again, as the honourable member knows, there are cycles in the welfare rates. It is very common for rates to go up in the winter months; that is not unusual. I would like to point him to his own government's record in terms of the outrageous increase of the people trapped on welfare.

Mr Hampton: There was one thing that was correct in the minister's answer: that social assistance rates and social assistance caseloads do go up and down, and social assistance caseloads really go up when you get into a recession. What you're doing, as David Crombie said, is you are dumping the costs of social assistance on to municipalities. David Crombie knows, and municipalities know, that those caseload numbers are going to go up in a recession and municipalities won't be able to handle it.

Let me ask you again: David Crombie spent all this time out there working with his panel and he came back with a recommendation. He said: Don't dump social assistance on to municipalities. Municipalities, with only the property tax, will not be able to cover the cost of social assistance.

Why are you dumping this huge cost on to municipalities, a cost which we all know is going to go up? Why are you punishing municipalities like this?

Hon Mrs Ecker: During the life of this previous government, the honourable member was a member of that government when welfare rates and the number of people trapped on welfare and the costs of welfare --

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): You are the government now.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane North, I'm warning you to come to order. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: When welfare rates and the number of people trapped on welfare and the cost of welfare for municipalities were soaring through the stratosphere, I didn't hear the honourable member out there trying to help the municipalities with that cost. What we have done in the Who Does What initiatives is acknowledge that there are cycles in the welfare system, that the need for financial support for municipalities may well occur. That is why we have invested $700 million up front for a social assistance reserve that will grow to $1.9 billion. It is there as a rainy day fund. It is there to support those municipalities if they need it.

I would also like to ask the honourable member -- he's so fond of quoting Mr David Crombie -- Mr Crombie also recommended that perhaps we should be contracting out welfare. Do you support that, sir?

Mr Hampton: I would say to the Minister of Community and Social Services, no, we don't support the contracting out, and we don't support the dumping of billions of dollars of costs on to municipalities either.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is to the Premier. On November 7, 1996, the Attorney General inappropriately commented on a police investigation, an investigation which involved two members of the Legislature and that his ministry in fact initiated. To quote the Attorney General in Hansard, he said: "I said there was a break-in. I said it was because there was a break-in." And then later: "In fact, we all know who was involved because they admitted they were there. Ask Kormos what he did to the security guard."

We have an independent legal opinion from a very distinguished professor of law, Alan Young at Osgoode Hall Law School, who says very clearly, "The actions and statements compromise the independence of the office of the Attorney General. His actions and statements compromise the independence of the police."

Premier, do you think it's appropriate for the Attorney General to be reaching conclusions and voicing his opinion on a matter which is the subject of a police investigation?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I understand there are legal opinions, and they can be placed before the judge as this matter is before the judge and the judge will make the appropriate ruling.

Mr Hampton: Judges will attempt to look after the legal system as best they can, but unfortunately they can't deal with an Attorney General who interferes in the functioning of the justice system. Someone called the Premier has to do that. Someone called the Premier has to be accountable when the Attorney General improperly interferes.

I put it to you, as Professor Young states: "The actions and statements of the Attorney General on November 7, 1996, were violative of the historical and constitutional traditions of the Attorney General." That's what he says.

Now, Premier, you appoint members of cabinet and it's your responsibility as Premier to ensure that they act in a manner which is consistent with their responsibilities. What actions are you going to take to ensure that the Attorney General is held accountable for the inappropriate and irresponsible remarks he made in the Legislature on November 7, 1996?

Hon Mr Harris: I think you're well aware that the minister has explained his comments. There is a lawyer whose opinion you're quoting representing a client who proposes to take that before a judge, and the judge will rule.

Mr Hampton: Once again, I think it's evident that the Premier attempts to avoid the gravity of the situation. One of the hallmarks of our justice system is that it remains free from political interference. It is especially a hallmark of our justice system that an Attorney General must not make any comments which might prejudge a police investigation or which might prejudge a trial.

You are the only person who can hold the Attorney General responsible. You are the person who appointed that Attorney General. You are the only person who can make sure that all of this works as it ought to, so I'm going to ask you again. It's incumbent upon you to restore the credibility and integrity of the Attorney General's office. It's incumbent upon you to uphold the integrity of our justice system. I call upon you to ask for the resignation of the Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harris: I call on you to listen to your question. Just go through carefully what you've said. You think it's inappropriate for an Attorney General to prejudge a case, comment on a case, comment on anything before the courts. I think it's inappropriate for a Premier to do the same.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question today is again for the Minister of Health. I want to come back to the issue of the Harris hospital cuts which we raised on Monday. These huge cuts --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Thank you. Member for York South.

Mr Kennedy: Minister, the Harris hospital cuts are huge and are harming hospitals. For example, North York General Hospital is now telling us that they're going to be cutting 35 beds, 13 paediatric beds. They're going to be cutting cleaning services; the seniors' health centre is going to be getting less cleaning. There's less food going to be provided to all the patients because of the Harris hospital cuts. But that's the injury. The insult was your ministry making these cuts 5% larger. The public figures are in contradiction.

Your assistant deputy minister apparently has left the ministry as of yesterday, a day after this has been raised, and it's left to you to explain, to confirm that there are two lists for hospital cuts and to confirm why your ministry is using one of these lists to skim money away from hospitals and making their very difficult job even harder.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): There is no skimming from hospitals. There was a operating funding program set out over a year ago by the Minister of Health. It outlined a three-year operating fund for the hospitals. That program is in conjunction with the JPPC, the joint planning policy committee, composed of hospital administrators, composed of members from the Ontario Hospital Association, composed of members from the Ministry of Health. They have sat down this year and made recommendations to the Ministry of Health in terms of how to translate the funding for the fiscal year 1997-98. The Ministry of Health has conveyed that information to the hospitals. The funding is precisely in line with the JPPC formula and precisely in line with the funding that we committed to one year ago.

Mr Kennedy: It is a shame that you will not admit. This is the public list that your former assistant deputy minister released from institutional health, saying what the hospitals would get. We have spoken now to 43 hospitals and every single one of these hospitals has been cut by an extra 5% and the money has been skimmed off. We believe that that money is being used for your so-called reinvestments. This is an issue about whether you can be trusted with the health and wellbeing of Ontarians. You're saying one thing, you have one set of figures publicly and you've got another set of figures that you're sending around privately to hospitals.

Every penny makes a difference to these hospitals, whether those rooms are clean, whether people get nurses to visit them. You said to a reporter on Monday that if there was a nickel more than $435 million being cut that it would be sent back to hospitals. We have talked to 43 hospitals -- we're going to talk to them all -- and our estimates are there is going to be not one nickel but 460 million nickels cut from hospitals -- $23 million. Minister, will you confirm to this House today that every penny above the amount that you were originally cutting will go back --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: I would be delighted to confirm to this House today that every nickel, if there is -- indeed, I'm convinced and I'm committed that there is not anything more than the $435 million, but if it can be determined that anything beyond one penny beyond the $435 million has been reduced from the hospitals, then I will guarantee you that we will give that money back to the hospitals.

We have lived within the precise formula put down by the JPPC with the total amount of money. The funding that was committed one year ago was a 6% reduction; the average is precisely a 6% reduction. I will say that there will not be a penny more that 8% to any particular hospital and there will not be a penny more than $435 million in total reductions to the hospitals. I will guarantee that.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Premier. Now that the courts have ruled that your government acted illegally in firing three vice-chairs of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, it's time to return to the issue of the contempt charges pending against the Chair of Management Board. This case has been blocked for months, for three reasons: first, as a result of the illegal action by the Premier's office in the firing of three vice-chairs; second, because the government at first denied any involvement, but later conceded when the case came to court that the Premier's office was in fact involved in this political purge; third, because the Minister of Labour has refused to allow appointment of an independent adjudicator from outside Ontario to hear this case.

Now the court decision is in. Premier, will you commit today that the contempt charges against the Chair of Management Board will be heard promptly by an independent outside adjudicator?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I appreciate the question, and I know the member would want to make sure it got on the record that on page 7 of the ruling he's talking about, the court completely rejected the argument that any action taken by this government challenged the independence of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, that it would be brought into question through that action. That was page 7 of the ruling. I know you would want to make sure to draw people's attention to page 7 of that ruling because I think that was the most significant part of it.

With regard to the other, the Minister of Labour is not here today and that's a separate issue and a separate question. When the Minister of Labour returns, I'd be pleased to speak with her about the status of that matter.

Mr Christopherson: Premier, what I want to bring to your attention and that of the public is the fact that it was your office that has caused the litigation, confusion and gridlock at the labour board. It's the role of your office in deciding which members of the Ontario Labour Relations Board would be fired that's at the heart of this matter.

At first, your government even tried to deny that this happened, but when that coverup failed, you were forced to concede the point in court. Premier, what have you done to investigate this illegal action, what steps have you taken to determine who in your office was responsible for this breach of the law, and what will you do to make sure it never happens again?

Hon Mr Harris: You will know there has been a downsizing that we approved in cabinet, and we will continue to approve downsizing wherever there is a surplus of people who are there. Page 7 of the ruling authorizes our right to do that and suggests that the way we did it did nothing to bring the independence of the Ontario Labour Relations Board into question. Given the support of the ruling on page 7, we intend to carry on getting the best deal we can for the taxpayers of Ontario.


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Mr Speaker, I wish to respond to a question that was asked yesterday by the member for Sudbury East. I might add that in doing so, I can provide an answer to the question of the member for Welland-Thorold at the same time.

Yesterday the member for Sudbury East and the member for Welland-Thorold raised three examples of family support program cases in the House. While you will know that I cannot provide details of the cases, I am pleased to report today that I raised these with the ministry and, due to the tremendous job the minister has done in getting that ministry up and running, all three cases have been resolved.

I also would like to say to the member for Sudbury East --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Give them the 1-800 number.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order. I'm warning you.

Hon Mr Harris: The office would like to not only thank and congratulate the minister for giving them the tools, but the office also wished to thank the member for Sudbury East for her help and cooperation --

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Do you know how many we have in Windsor waiting for a call from the Premier's office?

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): You will get every single one of them tomorrow.

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Sandwich. The member for Kenora.

Mrs Pupatello: On a point of personal privilege, Speaker.

The Speaker: There is no personal privilege, but there is privilege. Wait until -- okay, fine.

Hon Mr Harris: The staff also reported to me that they wish to thank the member for Sudbury East's office for its cooperation and just to let everybody know we appreciate bringing forward any examples. We are pleased to report that these three have all been dealt with.

The Speaker: Supplementary, member for Sudbury East.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I don't know where the Premier is getting his information from. Let me tell him about the cases, because we've been following up on them this morning.

Diane Burke's case: That is the second time I have had to raise that case in this Legislature. I raised her case in November. I was told then that it would be fixed. I was told by the Attorney General's staff yesterday that it was the employer's fault because the employer wasn't putting the correct information on the cheque. I'd ask you, Mr Premier, if you can find out why in November someone didn't call the employer and tell them what kind of information they would have to put on so that her cheques weren't delayed for another two months.

Suzanne Beauvais's case is not solved. We just finished talking to the Attorney General's staff before I got in this House. They were telling me that no payment has been made to the FSP by the payor, but Ms Beauvais is telling us that she has talked to the payor, her ex-husband, and he is submitting payments, so that claim is not fixed either.

Maybe you can deal with the 14 other cases that came into my constituency office last night, Premier. It is an insult for you to come in here today and say these have been fixed when they have not. We have a serious ongoing problem --

The Speaker: The member for Sudbury East, come to order. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to thank the member for bringing any of these cases to our attention, and just to congratulate the very hardworking, dedicated OPSEU --

Mr Miclash: You will have every one of them in question period tomorrow. Within 20 minutes you will have all of mine.


The Speaker: Members for Kenora and Windsor-Sandwich, if you don't come to order, I'll name you. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I'd like to congratulate the very dedicated OPSEU members who work in the program for their expediency in being able to resolve these. I'd also like to quote, if I might, from Lynn Vinette, who is the director of the family support plan, who indicates to me: "Under previous governments problems could never have been resolved so quickly. As you know, we have greatly improved the service the family support plan provides. In addition, the enforcement measures the government has brought in, including driver's licence suspension and credit bureau reporting, are among the toughest in North America."

I'd like to say that this system is not perfect. We're not dealing in a perfect world when we try to enforce orders. We have a variety of difficulties in collecting this money. But let me just thank all members of the House and really congratulate the minister and the ministry --


The Speaker: New question.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Could you confirm today in the House what your ministry's estimates are of the cost of downloading social housing, operating cost and capital, in total, and will you provide this House with a list, municipality by municipality, of those costs?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As the member from Windsor is aware, I'm sure, the federal government has announced it wants to get out of the social housing business, as we have indicated we want to get out of the social housing business, and provide it at the level of government that best provides it.

We're currently in discussions with the federal government on how that responsibility and the costs for that responsibility, including the cost of capital repairs for that program, are going to be dissolved down to the province and then ultimately down to the municipalities.

We know there is a lot of work that needs to be carried out in social housing, after being left in a state of disrepair for the last decade. We know that. We know that there is a tremendous need to get capital money into that program and we're working on that right now.


Mr Duncan: The offer the federal government has made to each province in this country is that it will transfer the dollars down to the provinces as well as the responsibility.

Senior officials at your ministry have provided me with estimates that range as high as $1.4 billion in total for social housing. Let me give you a breakdown: municipal non-profit, $308 million; cooperative non-profit housing, $247 million; private non-profit housing, $461 million; total non-profit, $1.017 billion; OHC rural and native programs, $352 million; rent supplements over and above privately owned buildings, $80,953,000; for a grand total of $1.4 billion, not including capital, not including the estimates associated with reinvesting to make our dilapidated public housing stock better quality.

Minister, will you now acknowledge that this will cost property taxpayers hundreds of dollars each right across this province and come clean with your numbers --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Windsor-Walkerville, come to order. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: To the member for Windsor, I recognize that they let social housing stock fall into disrepair, but I was a bit surprised that the member is that high. I just think it's a shame that over the last decade those two governments allowed social housing to fall into a state of disrepair that it's going to cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to put in.

This government intends to address that problem. We're addressing it in our negotiations with the federal government and we're addressing it in our negotiations with the municipal government. I'd like to assure the taxpayers of Ontario that we're going to carry out the repairs to social housing in the most cost-effective, economical way possible. We'll try and fix the mess you guys left over the last decade.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. About 20 minutes ago I received some very disturbing information. I've been told that your ministry has announced the health and safety minor capital funding for Metropolitan Toronto child care centres and that the allocation decisions have already been made. Two things about this are very disturbing.

For the first time in the history of child care, those allocation decisions have been made without any normal process of consultation with the community. More shockingly, for the first time we are told that you are going to hand out taxpayers' dollars, public money, to the private for-profit, commercial sector. Minister, in these days of massive cutbacks, how can you defend giving away taxpayers' dollars to private for-profit businesses?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I am not aware of what the member is referring to because this government is not in the habit of giving away taxpayers' dollars to anyone. We are in the habit of investing that money where it should be invested: in services for those who are in need. We have not made any capital decisions that I am aware of.

The other thing I would like to say to the honourable member is in terms of child care, that what is important is the quality of the child care being provided. Whether the sector or the operator is a non-profit operator or a private sector operator, the questions are: Are they meeting the qualifications under the legislation? Are they meeting the test of quality for parents that parents put on child care or the community? Those are the things I think we should be most interested in: Are they meeting the test of quality at an affordable price for those parents who need that day care?

Ms Lankin: Your officials have informed members of the child care community in Metropolitan Toronto today that the allocation is $1.4 million, that the allocation decisions to specific centres have been made and that for the first time in history for-profit commercial centres are going to receive those health and safety minor capital dollars.

I remind you of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism's statement that your government is not into giving handouts to private business, that they can stand on their own two feet. I also remind you that in the child care field it is very clear that there is no accountability in the private sector for where those dollars go. In the not-for-profit sector they have to account for every dollar being invested in the business. In the commercial sector, that money can go straight into the business owner's bank account.

Minister, this is absolutely wrongheaded. You have got proposals out there for reforming the child care system. You have not completed your consultations. We've got no announcements on the specifics of that. Here is one of your proposed reforms that you're moving ahead on. You must stop that. Please direct your officials to hold up that announcement and to reverse that decision.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I would be very concerned if the honourable member is saying that those people in child care who may be in the private sector are not meeting the regulations and the tough quality standards that we have, because if she is, that's a serious allegation and I would encourage her to bring forward that information so that our ministry can take the steps that are necessary to protect the safety of those children.

I'm more interested in meeting the test of parents. Do those child care centres meet the needs that the parents and the children have? I'm more interested in whether those child care centres are meeting the test of quality and those tough standards. The member may wish to take an ideological approach to this and say that one kind of operator is more acceptable than another kind of operator. I'm interested in better quality child care.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. There's a good deal of concern in my region of the province, particularly from those in the agricultural community. Earlier this week we learned of the significant leak of unleaded gasoline from a pipeline in the Ottawa-Carleton area. Could the minister update the House on this important issue and advise us of what actions he and his ministry are taking to ensure the successful containment and cleanup of this spill?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): There indeed was a large spill, the largest spill since at least 1988 in the environment, that happened early this week when 250,000 litres of unleaded gasoline were spilled into the environment. This came from a pipeline in the township of Osgoode which happens to be located, unfortunately, in my own riding of Carleton. The pipeline now has been shut off and the gasoline has been removed from a contained area. It took some 25 tankloads of gasoline to remove this.

Officials from my ministry have been on the scene since it happened, along with the Osgoode township fire department, and they have acted in the best interests of the people there. This morning I toured the site with the people in the area, the residents of the nearby farms, to assure them that the initial testing done by the Ministry of Environment ensured there was no contamination to their drinking water.

Under section 8 of the Environmental Protection Act, the northern --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, Minister. You can get the rest on the supplementary.

Mr Baird: The public places a significant priority on environmental protection. Could the minister give the people of Osgoode and Ottawa-Carleton assurances that a full investigation will take place so that we can work to ensure that adequate measures can be taken to ensure we can prevent this type of accident from happening in the future?

Hon Mr Sterling: As I was saying, the initial and most of the obligation falls on the owner of the pipeline, Trans-Northern, and they are at the site accepting their full responsibility for the cleanup at this time and have assured me that they will compensate the farmers in the area.

As I was mentioning before, the federal government is involved, as they are responsible for the operation of pipelines like this. They have an investigation ongoing at the site at the present time and are keeping officials in my ministry fully notified of this. I am, however, concerned about the fact that under our present standards there seems to be only a requirement for shutoff valves to be very, very widely located, in this case 20 miles apart from each other, and therefore it was very hard to contain the spill to a reasonable level. I will be contacting the National Energy Board at the federal level to have them look at these standards to see if in fact they are reasonable.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe we can constrain this kind of accident in the future. We're going to get to the bottom of this. We have been assured by the perpetrators that --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. If you'll recall, last week I rose in the House to ask you about the $8.5 million that your government has cut out of Macassa Lodge for much-needed renovations to this senior facility in the region. You stated you would review the situation and get back to us. The following day a letter was received by the region stating the following: "Given the current fiscal environment, the minister has reviewed your project in the context of the government's current priorities, and funding for this project cannot be considered at this time."

As I said last week, this is a home for senior citizens, average 85 years, very frail. They're now organizing petitions. They are now concerned about the future viability of the place they call home and the condition it is in, and your government has chosen to cut them off at the knees and withdraw the $8.5 million in health and safety repairs. This is not luxury; this is not adding rooms.

Now that you've had a week, Minister, will you reinstate the funding that you cut from Macassa Lodge?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): This is an issue that has been raised by the members opposite, and I will say that the member for Hamilton Mountain has talked to me about this very matter on a couple of occasions and brought this to my attention.

The problem faced by the government is that when we took office there were some $3 billion worth of health-related capital projects -- many of these projects had been announced by the previous government, but I will say that some of the projects dated back to before 1990, so some of the projects came out of the former Liberal government -- yet on an annualized basis, no more than $200 million or so is allocated to these projects. So there was a huge backlog and not sufficient funding.

We prioritize the projects, we look to see if they have implications for the restructuring commission, whether they address gaps in service or whether they have gone to tender. If they meet those criteria, then we go ahead; if they don't, they'll be re-evaluated as circumstances --

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

Mr Agostino: I'm absolutely astonished by the callousness and the coldness in the minister's answer. You don't get it, Minister. We're talking about a residence; senior citizens, 85 years of age on average. We're not talking about luxury renovations here. We're talking about senior citizens who can't take a shower because it changes from cold to hot. We're talking about senior citizens who don't have air-conditioning facilities and their lives are threatened in warm weather. We're talking about safety railings. We're talking about bathroom facilities that have to be shared by six people. We're talking about tubs that are rusting away.

Minister, this is a basic health and safety priority you don't seem to understand. It was approved in 1995; it wasn't approved back in the 1980s. Your own member said it best. He said, "It is unconscionable." That was the member for Hamilton Mountain. You should listen to him.

Again, in view of the conditions, will you commit today to reinstate the funding to Macassa Lodge and not put these senior citizens through hell trying to fight you through petitions and letters to the House?

Hon David Johnson: I really don't need a lecture from the member opposite on senior citizens. I represented a municipality, East York, for many years --

Mr Agostino: Can you help Macassa Lodge by not screwing them?

The Speaker: You'll have to withdraw that. You're out of order.

Mr Agostino: I withdraw.

Hon David Johnson: I represented a municipality for many years, East York, where 17% of the population are senior citizens. I raised funds for the local homes for the aged. I'm an honorary member of Meals on Wheels in East York. I understand seniors and the needs of seniors. I also understand --

Mr Agostino: Why did you cut this money out of Macassa?

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, I'm going to name you if you do it again.

Hon David Johnson: I also understand that if the member opposite wanted to be helpful, perhaps he would talk to his colleagues in Ottawa -- Mr Martin and Mr Chrétien -- and say, "Why have you reduced $2 billion from health care funding in Ontario?" That's what we're having to deal with. And he might ask his own party and the New Democratic Party why they stockpiled $3 billion in projects and did not fund them when they were in government.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Last week the city of Toronto put out some estimates of the impact on small businesses of your mega-download and your market value assessment scheme. They estimate, for example, that a local barber will pay $5,996 more because of your downloading and market value assessment. They add to that that a variety store, for example, will pay $18,000 more. An electronics store will get an increase of $8,200; a dry cleaner will get a tax hike of $20,000. There's a long list.

I want to ask you this. Small business actually believes that you are their friend. They don't know that they are about to be whacked by a tax increase. What have you to say to console them?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The first thing that I would like to clarify for the member of the third party is that we're not introducing market value assessment in Ontario. We're introducing the Ontario fair tax system, which will be a fair tax for everybody in this province and eliminate the terrible system we have now that is totally unfair and totally inequitable.

With respect to small businesses, if there is any sector that is going to benefit from the new fair and equitable tax system that we're bringing in in the province, it's going to be the small retailer, particularly the small retailer in Toronto. We specifically set up a method that will ensure that small businesses, which were going to be destroyed under the system that you were considering, will be protected in a fair and equitable way.

Mr Marchese: This tax is not about fairness. People are about to be whacked by a property tax increase. In fact, they're going to be whacked by this fair tax bill, whether it's actual value assessment or market value -- and I don't see too much difference between the two -- they're going to be whacked. I've got a long list provided by the city of Toronto that shows clearly incredible tax increases for small businesses in Toronto. You're going to see empty storefronts as part of the megacity's future if these changes go ahead. Mike Harris has become a Taxhiker not a Taxfighter. Explain yourselves to the small business people in Toronto again, Mr Minister. I want to hear you again explain that.

Hon Mr Leach: To the member of the third party, nothing could be further from the truth than the comments that were just made. We are setting up a system of property assessment that is going to be of major benefit to small businesses right across Ontario, and particularly to small businesses in Metropolitan Toronto, particularly the small businesses on Yonge Street and on Bayview and on St Clair. All of those small businesses that were going to be hammered as a result of that ill-fated market value system that was under consideration by your government will be addressed by putting in an equitable Ontario fair tax system right across the province, finally fixing that broken-down property tax assessment that those two parties refused to deal with when they were in power.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I raise a point of privilege that I hope the Speaker can address for me, how I, as a member in this House, can somehow find the same level of privileges that other members have been accorded in this House, specifically relating to the family support cases from Windsor-Sandwich that have been delivered to the Attorney General, that have been reported here in the House, but I have not had action on my issues from my riding.

Today the Premier stands and addresses personally his own intervention on cases for other members. Speaker, I need to know how I get myself elevated to a level of privilege --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I think it would be fairly safe to warn everybody now, actually. I don't think that's a point of privilege. Maybe it --

Mrs Pupatello: Mr Speaker, on a point of order --

The Speaker: Let me deal with the point of privilege first. It's not a point of privilege. I understand the concern you have and all I can tell you is it's probably a question for the House, but as a privilege point of view, it is not within the Speaker's domain. If you have a point of order, I'll hear that.

Mrs Pupatello: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I need to understand how I, as member for Windsor-Sandwich, can elevate my issues from my riding in an order that would warrant the Premier's intervention on my case --

The Speaker: Again, I can only suggest to you I haven't got any control over the Premier's agenda or what he chooses to investigate or not to investigate and you'll have to take that up with the Premier.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Order. We can't hear you.

The Speaker: Order. Member for Nepean. Thank you.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Not on the point that's raised by the member for Windsor-Sandwich, but I do ask you to consider the dilemma which is posed for the conduct of the business of members of this assembly. Clearly we have at least two areas in which we operate. One is our constituency offices, where we do the work assigned to us in representing our constituents. The other is in the work we do right here in this assembly.

It was made clear today through the Premier's response to the question from the member for Sudbury East that he feels if he can personally be made aware of the questions of the specific cases that we in our constituency offices are dealing with, he will give them personal attention and they will get immediately resolved.

Mr Speaker, I have to tell you that's what my constituents have heard this afternoon as a result of our public deliberations in this forum. The message that goes back to them -- my staff, as with the staff, I venture to say, of every member of this assembly, are spending hours of time dealing with the family support cases and the frustration of constituents who can't get their payments. What all those constituents heard today was that the way to get the case solved is to bring it into the House.

I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, as a point of privilege and it follows the member for Windsor-Sandwich, you know that in one hour's question period we cannot raise in a question every individual case that is backlogged in our constituency office. I ask you to determine how we can reconcile the message given by the Premier this afternoon to our constituents, and you've just given in your answer --

The Speaker: I say to the member for Fort William, it is not up to me to reconcile the questions nor the answers. You can't ask me to begin to deal with the questions and reconcile the concerns you have with respect to privilege.

Mrs Pupatello: All that paper that's coming tomorrow.

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Sandwich, you can interpret the Premier's answers any way you want to interpret. I'm not going to tell you how and I'm not going to interpret your questions that you put to them. All I can say to you is, I don't want to get into this, I don't want to get into this game, because I would be immersed and I'd never get out, and it wouldn't be appropriate.

I appreciate your concerns. I can say you can only judge yourself accordingly. I can't be of assistance.

Mrs McLeod: With respect, Mr Speaker, you in your ruling, on bringing forward these cases as a question, I submit to you that your ruling is not something we can carry out in the limitations of this House and I want my constituents to know it's virtually impossible. That's the only way to deal with the government. They have put a --

The Speaker: Well, you know something? I bet your constituents know that now.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On the same point of privilege --


The Speaker: Same point of privilege. That's very true. I've dealt with the point of privilege, so it's really not the same point. Now, if you have a --

Mrs Caplan: Information that you might want to consider.

The Speaker: The trouble is that I've ruled. Now, if you have a different point of privilege --


The Speaker: Okay, on a new point of privilege, the member for Oriole.

Mrs Caplan: The point I want to make, Mr Speaker, is that there are many citizens, women with children who are suffering because of the incompetence of this government in dealing with the family support plan, who do not want their names public in this House. The issue of confidentiality is one which is extremely important to them and it is embarrassing.

For the Premier to stand up and say the only way to have those cases resolved is by bringing them into this House and publicly exposing them to that, I think is a point for you to intervene on the appropriateness of that kind of direction from the Premier that says the only way we can get action on behalf of our constituents --

The Speaker: No. Although that may be interesting, I don't see it as a lot different than the point of privilege raised by the member for Fort William. I will say again, it is not up to me to determine the responses to the questions or the questions themselves. If that's how you interpreted the Premier's response, then you act accordingly. I can't adjudicate this for you. It would be impossible.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the point I would like to raise is that I am dissatisfied with the response I received from the Premier this afternoon and I would request that we debate this at the end of today.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): If you've file the appropriate notice, that's fine.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I raise this quite seriously as a concern. I don't pretend to know how it can be addressed, but I think it needs to be noted for the record. I sit as a member of the committee that will be going into public hearings on Bill 104, the bill which is about to receive to second reading and which had a time allocation motion passed last Thursday.

I have in front of me some 300 applications from individuals who have asked to present at those hearings. They're part of the 951 names of individuals who want to present at the hearings. As the representative of our caucus on the subcommittee establishing who should present to the hearings, I've been asked to set at least these 300 names of people who have directly contacted my office in some kind of priority for presentation. I don't know how you deal with it, but I just have to raise it as a point of order for the impossibility of the way in which this assembly proceeds to deal with the public.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Same point of order? That's not a point of order. Okay, point of order, member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: With over 950 applicants for presentations before the committee just from Toronto, not even counting the rest of the province, and the amount of time set forward in the time allocation motion, it's completely impossible for us to give those who wish to present a real opportunity to have input into Bill 104. This presents all of us in the assembly with a very difficult problem.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Same point of order? Point of order, member for Oriole.

Mrs Caplan: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. We know the impossible task the members of the subcommittee have, but I'm a member of the committee and I would like to have the opportunity to hear Diane --

The Speaker: This is not a point of order.


The Speaker: Member for Oriole, please. This isn't even --


The Speaker: Member for Oriole, I'm very patient on points of order. That is purely political. You must accept the fact that I will hear the points of order. I don't want to hear the names of the people --

Mrs Caplan: People want to be heard.

The Speaker: I'm not debating the point. The fact remains that I know you hear it a lot that it may be a question for question period, but frankly it's not a point of order for this place. The committee is seized with responsibility. Asking me to make any kind of order or rule to compel a committee to hear or not hear or set priority is impossible. I just don't want the responsibility at every single committee. If you have a difficulty with the committee, if you have a difficulty with the time allocation motion, it's a question for the House; it's not a question of order. It was properly put; it was properly passed.



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): Today I want to present the first seven pages of pages and pages of petitions coming into my office from parents in the riding of Beaches-Woodbine. This is to the members of the Ontario Legislature:

"We, the undersigned, believe that the education of our children will suffer because the education reforms introduced by the Minister of Education and Training do not reflect:

"(1) The democratic principles that are cherished by our society;

"(2) A true perception of what our classrooms involve and a true assessment of their cost;

"(3) A recognition of the special funding needs in Metro."

I am in complete agreement with these parents and I have affixed my signature to the petition.



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, called 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;

"Therefore 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.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition submitted by the Ontario Federation of Labour on behalf of all working people in the province, union and non-union.

"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 Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): "Whereas Transition House in Chatham has provided emergency shelter to troubled or abused youth as well as support, counselling and life skills training since 1990, and operating on a five-year budget of $865,000 they have counselled over 400 youth and served over 20,000 meals; and

"Whereas the city of Chatham and the county of Kent rely on Transition House to meet the needs of its troubled youth and there is no other facility to serve the needs of the community; and

"Whereas the principles of discipline, self-help and a regimented environment at Transition House have combined with counselling and support to provide youth with the motivation and self-respect to return to school or find jobs; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has cut its direct funding to Transition House by almost $48,000 annually and placed the existence of Transition House in jeopardy;

"Be it therefore resolved that we, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to reverse its decision to cut the funding of Transition House in Chatham."

I affix my name to this.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the Canadian Auto Workers union. It reads:

"To save the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"To Premier Harris and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Therefore, we demand 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 Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the quality of care for residents of nursing homes and homes for the aged is being directly and adversely affected by the funding policies of the Mike Harris Conservative government;

"Whereas the funding deficiencies are forcing these institutions to reduce available staff assistance to residents to unacceptable levels;

"Whereas the user taxes placed on prescription drugs unfairly discriminate against residents of nursing homes;

"Whereas the residents of these institutions are the very people who built this great province and country;

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

"To provide adequate funding for long-term-care institutions and eliminate the user taxes on prescription drugs for seniors."

This is signed by quite a number of my constituents from the Gore Bay-Kagawong-Mindemoya area.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly that's signed by people from Windsor and London and all over southwestern Ontario.

"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 am pleased to affix my signature.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I have a petition here signed by five residents of East York. It reads as follows:

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


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

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

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

"Whereas we are very concerned about Bill 84 and don't want to get 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 signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions from my community of Hamilton.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the tragic deaths of two workers at Dofasco's bayfront steel mill in Hamilton raise serious questions about safety procedures; and

"Whereas the representatives of the workers, the United Steelworkers of America, were stonewalled and shut out of the early stages of the investigation; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris Conservatives have abolished the Workplace Health and Safety Agency and laid off the agency's staff of safety training experts; and

"Whereas the Harris government has reduced the requirements for workplace health and safety training; and

"Whereas the Conservative government is considering changes to the role of the joint health and safety commission and to the right to refuse unsafe work which could lead to even more workplace accidents in the future; and

"Whereas deregulating workplace health and safety will lead to more deaths and injuries,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demand a coroner's inquest into the fatal accident at Dofasco, along with a complete investigation including full participation by the representatives of the workers."

I add my name to theirs in support.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition in response to Bill 84 and it reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the firefighters of Kenora 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 concerned about 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 after extensive public hearings across Ontario."

I have attached my name to that petition as well.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is considering the privatization of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario,

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

"That the Liquor Control Board of Ontario remain a crown corporation because we fear that the privatization of that organization will lead to increases in crime, drunk driving, alcohol abuse and its health costs as well as a loss of control over availability to minors and quality of product."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Conservative government of Mike Harris has closed three out of five hospitals in Thunder Bay and two out of three hospitals in Sudbury; and

"Whereas drastic funding cuts to hospitals across Ontario are intimidating hospital boards, district health councils and local hospital restructuring commissions into considering the closing of local hospitals; and

"Whereas hospitals in the Niagara region have provided an outstanding essential service to patients and have been important facilities for medical staff to treat the residents of the Niagara Peninsula and will be required for people in Niagara for years to come; and

"Whereas the population of Niagara is on average older than that in most areas of the province;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Minister of Health to restore adequate funding to hospitals in the Niagara region and guarantee that his government will not close any hospitals in the Niagara Peninsula."

I affix my signature, as I'm in full agreement with this petition.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a very important petition here addressed to the government of Ontario.

"Since video lottery terminals will contribute to gambling addiction in Ontario and the resulting breakup of families, spousal and child abuse and crimes such as embezzlement and robbery; and

"Since the introduction of video lottery terminals across Ontario will provide those addicted to gambling with widespread temptation and will attract young people to a vice which will adversely affect their lives for so many years to come; and

"Since the introduction of these gambling machines across our province is designed to gain revenue for the government at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate in order that the government can cut income taxes, to the greatest benefit of those with the highest income; and

"Since the placement of video lottery terminals in bars in Ontario and in permanent casinos in various locations across the province represents an escalation of gambling opportunities; and

"Since Premier Harris and Finance Minister Eves were so critical of the provincial government becoming involved in further gambling ventures and making the government more dependent on gambling revenues to maintain government operations;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Premier Harris and the government of Ontario to reconsider its announced decision to introduce the most insidious form of gambling, video lottery terminals, to restaurants and bars in the province."

I've affixed my signature to it.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition comes from Local 6,500 of the United Steelworkers of America.

"To the Honourable Solicitor General and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario has decided to scrap mandatory inquests as a result of fatalities in the mining and construction industries; and

"Whereas this unprecedented and callous decision sets workplace safety back 20 years;

"We, the undersigned, request that Solicitor General Bob Runciman, on behalf of all workers in the mining and construction industries, reverse his decision to remove mandatory inquests from the Coroners Act of Ontario."

Of course I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I beg leave to present the 32nd report of the standing committee on government agencies.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Mr Miclash: This is the report where David Cooke, the former NDP member, was appointed to the Education Improvement Commission.

The Acting Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 106(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 104, An Act to improve the accountability, effectiveness and quality of Ontario's school system by permitting a reduction in the number of school boards, establishing an Education Improvement Commission to oversee the transition to the new system, providing for certain matters related to elections in 1997 and making other improvements to the Education Act and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 / Projet de loi 104, Loi de 1997 visant à accroître l'obligation de rendre compte, l'efficacité et la qualité du système scolaire ontarien en permettant la réduction du nombre des conseils scolaires, en créant la Commission d'amélioration de l'éducation, chargée d'encadrer la transition vers le nouveau système, en prévoyant certaines questions liées aux élections de 1997 et en apportant d'autres améliorations à la Loi sur l'éducation et à la Loi de 1996 sur les élections municipales.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Pursuant to the order of the House, I must now put the question. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

Those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. A five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1525 to 1530.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Snobelen has moved second reading of Bill 104.

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


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Palladini, Al

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Parker, John L.

Barrett, Toby

Hardeman, Ernie

Pettit, Trevor

Bassett, Isabel

Harnick, Charles

Preston, Peter

Beaubien, Marcel

Harris, Michael D.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Boushy, Dave

Hastings, John

Ross, Lillian

Brown, Jim

Hodgson, Chris

Runciman, Robert W.

Carroll, Jack

Hudak, Tim

Sampson, Rob

Chudleigh, Ted

Jackson, Cameron

Saunderson, William

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn

Cunningham, Dianne

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Ron

Smith, Bruce

DeFaria, Carl

Jordan, W. Leo

Snobelen, John

Doyle, Ed

Kells, Morley

Sterling, Norman W.

Ecker, Janet

Leach, Al

Stewart, R. Gary

Elliott, Brenda

Marland, Margaret

Tilson, David

Eves, Ernie L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tsubouchi, David H.

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

McLean, Allan K.

Villeneuve, Noble

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Mushinski, Marilyn

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

Newman, Dan

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

O'Toole, John


The Speaker: Those opposed?


Bartolucci, Rick

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony

Bisson, Gilles

Crozier, Bruce

McGuinty, Dalton

Boyd, Marion

Curling, Alvin

McLeod, Lyn

Bradley, James J.

Duncan, Dwight

Miclash, Frank

Brown, Michael A.

Gerretsen, John

Morin, Gilles E.

Caplan, Elinor

Hoy, Pat

Patten, Richard

Churley, Marilyn

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Cleary, John C.

Kwinter, Monte

Ramsay, David

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Wildman, Bud

Conway, Sean G.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 68; the nays are 30.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated February 6, 1997, the bill is referred to the standing committee on social development.


Mr Harnick moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 108, An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration / Projet de loi 108, Loi traitant des poursuites concernant certaines infractions provinciales, réduisant le double emploi et simplifiant l'administration.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It's my pleasure to introduce for second reading Bill 108, which amends the Provincial Offences Act to enable the transfer of all the remaining administrative and some prosecutorial functions for ticketable offences and fines to municipalities.

The proposed amendments, which are subject to the approval of this Legislature, build on the successful transfer of parking tickets to municipalities four years ago. Today 95% --


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Will the minister take his seat just for a moment. Could I have order, please. I can't hear the Attorney General. If you want to meet, please go outside. Attorney General.

Hon Mr Harnick: Today 95% of parking tickets are handled by municipalities. This experience has shown that service can be provided to the public at a lower cost and that there are a number of benefits to be gained by involving municipalities more directly in the administration of justice.

We are now taking the next logical step. Bill 108 continues to move matters with local impact into the control and the accountability of the local authorities. It does so with the full appreciation of the need for consistent provincial standards for the administration of justice.

Bill 108 eliminates waste and duplication as administrative functions are brought together under one level of government. For example, administrative processes are duplicated when two offices process a single certificate of offence. With our changes, only the municipal office would process the certificate.

As well, Bill 108 provides for participating municipalities to retain the net revenues from fines collected under the Provincial Offences Act. We estimate that up to $65 million in revenue could accrue to Ontario municipalities. This new source of revenue could be spent on improving local services even after the costs of the new responsibilities are taken into account.

Fine revenues would continue to be subject to the victim fine surcharge. These moneys would be sent to the victims justice fund which was established by this government to assist victims of crime. Partner municipalities would retain the balance of fines after the victim fine surcharge and other program costs are remitted to the province.

The responsibilities to be transferred to municipalities under Bill 108 include administration of parts I, II and III of the Provincial Offences Act and prosecution of part I or minor ticketable offences. Approximately 80% of these part I offences are issued under the Highway Traffic Act. These infractions include speeding up to 49 kilometres over the speed limit, failing to stop at a red light or stop sign and failure to wear a seatbelt. Examples of other part I offences include minor Liquor Licence Act infractions such as an open bottle of liquor and being intoxicated in a public place, as well as ticket scalping under the Ticket Speculation Act.

The province will continue to prosecute part III offences, which are often more complex and can result in jail sentences. The province will also continue to be responsible for setting and monitoring standards for the administration of justice in order to ensure a uniform, fair and equal justice across Ontario. Provincially appointed judges and justices of the peace will continue to decide Provincial Offences Act cases. The province proposes to invite municipalities to submit proposals for partnership. Municipalities interested in the invitation to participate in the transfer would be expected to meet specific selection criteria and once selected would sign a memorandum of understanding. This agreement would set out clearly the respective roles of the Attorney General and the participating municipalities.

We are aware that some municipalities may be too small to take over provincial offences on their own. We anticipate, in fact we know from preliminary discussions with municipalities, that municipalities may choose to get together and serve traditional court catchment areas or other reasonable concentrations of population. The ministry is encouraging this cooperation and the bill allows for that.

We anticipate there could be approximately 75 municipal partnerships from the Provincial Offences Act transfer. Subject to the approval of this Legislature, the transfer of responsibilities would start this year and be completed over the next two years.

In developing these amendments, we had the benefit of input from many legal and municipal experts. Productive consultations with internal and external stakeholders, the judiciary, the bar and the municipal sector took place and will continue. As well, on the recommendation of the Crombie subpanel, the ministry has worked closely with representatives of seven municipalities from different areas of the province to get their views on issues related to the proposed transfer.


This initiative was supported by David Crombie's Who Does What panel and has been welcomed by municipalities. They are eager to take on responsibility for local justice and anticipate the local benefit of an increase in revenue from the transfer. I can tell you that I have had very productive discussions, for instance, with the mayor of Windsor, the mayor of London, the mayor of Kingston, council members from Owen Sound and the warden of Grey county, and they're all very excited about this opportunity.

In 1979, Ontario was the first to decriminalize regulatory offences by introducing the more efficient ticketing system of the Provincial Offences Act. Other provinces such as Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and British Columbia have adopted similar legislation. In 1993, Bill 25 successfully streamlined the Provincial Offences Act process by transferring the responsibility to administer parking infractions to designated municipalities. Once again in 1997, Ontario will set an example by inviting municipalities to be partners in the justice system.

I ask the House to approve the bill in principle and look forward to participating in further debate.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Let me first of all say that this looks like one of those bills that everyone could be in favour of. It looks like one of those bills. We have to keep in mind that this is another one of those downloading exercises on to the local municipalities. I'm sure the people of this province are getting quite weary about the whole situation, especially since it has now been confirmed by a senior official within the Ministry of Finance that it's going to cost municipalities $1 billion more with respect to all of these downloading exercises than what was originally talked about. This is exactly the kind of thing that independent studies of most municipalities have shown: that their taxes are going to go up if they want to continue to provide the same kind of services to the municipalities.

The other thing that's very interesting is that the government claims this initiative will generate something like $65 million to municipalities. It's interesting that in the Crombie report, he only estimated a $30-million generation of revenues to the municipalities of Ontario. There's quite a difference there. I think it's these kinds of differences that would lead one to be very suspicious about this kind of legislation. There's nothing in the legislation at all that would allow a municipality to opt out after they've opted in, because in their particular situation, as the Attorney General has already stated, there may not be the same financial savings as there may be in other municipalities. There's nothing in this legislation at all that talks about making sure there is some sort of uniform standard with respect to how this act is going to be applied across the province.

We look forward to the discussions that we'll be having on this bill and to the public participation. We've got many questions about this bill, however.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It is good that we are discussing this act this afternoon, because of course the government is putting a great deal of emphasis on the possibility for the municipalities to gain part of their revenue from this bill, and it's amazing that in the flurry of activity around the downloading of provincial responsibilities to municipalities the Attorney General would try to indicate anything else.

The other thing that struck me in his speech was his claim that his government set up the victim assistance fund. He knows that's not the case, that the name of the fund was changed by the act passed by the current government but that in fact that fund was set up under the previous government and was part of the entire plan to ensure that victim services were funded by those who offend against both the criminal law and the provincial offences. So it's important for us to recognize both of those things.

I'm glad we're going to have an opportunity to talk about the effects, both good and bad, as we go through this debate, of this particular act. But I think it is fair to say that we would have had a much more fruitful discussion had we had some sort of notion what the selection criteria for the agreements between municipalities and the provincial government are going to be. It is very difficult to talk in the absence of those selection criteria because it is difficult for any of us to know what exactly we are talking about. Again, as is usual with this government, we are being asked to buy a pig in a poke. We do not know what the details are going to be, and the devil is in the detail.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Further questions or comments?

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The minister has referred to a number of areas as to why we're getting into this legislation, why this legislation is coming forward. Really, if you look at the overall plan as to where our government has been taking us, the purpose of it of course is to reduce duplication, to eliminate delays. We believe with this type of legislation and the municipalities handling these smaller, minor types of offences that more time can be spent on the more serious types of offences, that there will be fewer delays and that this is a plan that will help substantially reduce those delays that have been occurring with the more serious types of offences.

There is no question that there has been duplication that has gone on with the process we currently have. In fact the process the member for Kingston and The Islands talked about -- he didn't say too much in favour of it, but actually this whole process of transferring the prosecuting of ticket offences started, I believe, with your government. I could be mistaken, but I feel it was your government that started that process.

Mr Gerretsen: Let's talk about the future, not the past.

Mr Tilson: Well, we are talking about the future. That's what we're trying to get away from, your doing. We believe this is the future. We have to solve these problems. There has been duplication. There has been waste. That's exactly what this legislation is doing. The legislation is to eliminate that.

The minister referred to the member for Kingston and The Islands, saying the mayor of Kingston -- I can tell you that in my own riding of Dufferin-Peel the municipalities are speaking in favour of this legislation. They want it, they believe they can service it, and they think they are going to be able to do it in a more efficient manner to allow the province to carry on in prosecuting the more serious crimes of this province. I hope all of this will be a unanimous support of this legislation.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I listened to the comments from the Attorney General on the dumping of the enforcing of offences on the region. This is a system that might work well in the cities, but I don't know, for example, in Kapuskasing and Hearst and all these municipalities, where a bylaw enforcement officer is going to be expected to go out and chase speeders who are speeding throughout the town. He used the example of in Windsor the mayor is happy. But all the small towns that couldn't afford their own police service in the communities have turned over the services to OPP and now we're not going to have anybody in these communities. If the OPP is not going to enforce the laws, there is not going to be anybody in these communities who is going to be able to enforce the liquor offences and, as I said, speeding.

The municipalities, from what I can gather -- I was over at ROMA and they're saying: "Why are all these services being dumped on to the municipalities? Why are all the municipalities being told they should eliminate all their mayors and reeves and go to supercities in northern Ontario the same as they have in Toronto?" This is a trend that is happening, where people throughout northeastern Ontario are saying: "What's going to be left? Are there only going to be the cities of North Bay, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Timmins, and all the other small municipalities are not going to be left with names, with municipal councillors or mayors or reeves? They'll just be forgotten in the mind of Mike Harris."

The Attorney General has enforced that once more today, that the municipalities are going to have to look after all the minor offences. They can't do it. They're just being dumped on day after day after day. Megacity and mega-week, it's just one after the other: Dump, dump, dump on to the small municipalities.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Ed Doyle): Minister?

Hon Mr Harnick: I just want to read a letter that I received from the mayor of Kingston, Gary Bennett. Here's what he says:

"You requested municipalities within the Kingston and Napanee area to consider submitting proposals to your ministry to become partners in the Provincial Offences Act. This was very good news for our community, and the city of Kingston is prepared to become a partner with your ministry immediately.

"I appreciated your support of the city of Kingston's interest in this program and I have asked my staff to begin the process of communication with your ministry staff."

I also met with the mayor of London and --

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Would you also read the letter where he's complaining about the $23 million that he figures it's going to cost?

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

Hon Mr Harnick: The mayor of London also said that because this particular bill would provide extra money to London, "It will allow us the opportunity to get more police officers on the street and hence greater driver safety and greater safety in general."

I think this is a very good opportunity for municipalities. It gets rid of duplication. It gets rid of confusion in the mind of the public. It provides more money for municipal taxpayers, who then can find better services from their municipality.

We're going to enter into memorandums of agreement with communities all over the province. Those memorandums will be set up in a way that we can maintain the existing standard of high-quality justice in the province.

This is a very good bill for municipalities. I have spoken to members of municipal councils all over the province. Every one of them wants this bill passed, they want it passed quickly, and I hope the opposition will accommodate the municipalities that they also represent.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum. Since the critic for our party is going to give the leadoff speech on this in a moment, I'm sure that more government members would want to hear her --

The Acting Speaker: We'll check for a quorum. Thank you.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): This bill is indeed a very important bill. It comes on the heels of a flurry of bills and legislative activity that we've seen in the last little while. Nevertheless, it remains an important piece of legislation not only because of its content but because of the framework in which it sits.

The stated intent of the bill is very clear on its face. It's An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration. Quite frankly, all of those are very worthwhile goals, and none of us on either side of the House can disagree in principle.

The interests of the justice system and the interests of the public are well served by looking for opportunities always to streamline the system, to make it more efficient, to make it more accessible, to make it more transparent. The people who elected us on both sides of the House expect that of us, and so it's with that in mind that we should be looking at this bill and coming to conclusions.

I'd like us to consider some questions this afternoon with respect to this particular piece of legislation, and I'd like to put them to you first so you have time to consider them as we go through.

The first really deals with, does the bill achieve its stated purposes, which I read at the beginning? If it does, all well and good; if it doesn't, we'll have to think about change.

Does the bill project and fit into a general justice framework? I think that's a very important question for us to consider.

The third question I'd like to pose today is, what does this bill say with respect to governance and to the appropriate powers that levels of government ought to have? This bill speaks to us about sharing responsibilities, about transferring responsibilities between one level of government and another, and I think we have to ask that question, particularly since this is a justice bill and it is incumbent upon us to ensure we have the best system possible.

The bill, as members will recall, is really the result of recommendations made by the Crombie commission, the Who Does What commission or, as some people have called it, the who does what to whom commission, but certainly that wouldn't be something I would say. You will recall that in the report there are two references made to the Provincial Offences Act and how they might be dealt with. The first is a letter from Mr Crombie to the Minister of Municipal Affairs dated August 14, 1996, which introduces the subject. Then later on, on December 20 of the same year, he becomes a little more specific about what should be done with respect to provincial offences, in his view and in the view of his co-chair for that particular area.

The proposal, as you will recall, was to move the administration of various provincial offences to municipalities, to streamline the justice system and to provide a net source of revenues for municipalities into the bargain. It was to be a quid pro quo: The province would no longer be involved in the administration and prosecution of certain offences, but in return, the revenues generated by the fines that those offences carry would go to municipalities.

At the same time, though, the proposals were as follows: There was first of all an indication that part I, II and III offences under the Provincial Offences Act -- mainly, for those of you unfamiliar with the act, offences having to do with traffic violations, with the Highway Traffic Act, with parking fines and liquor licensing offences of one sort or another -- would be transferred to municipalities to administer.

Crombie also recommended that the implementation be phased in; that it wasn't something that was going to happen overnight but that the transfer would happen in some sort of phased fashion. There would be a memorandum of understanding that would be entered into between the municipality and the province, the idea being that you wanted a willing partner in this particular area and that those municipalities that did not feel they wanted to participate would not be compelled to participate.

Another point in the Crombie report was that there must be an open, clear and transparent process to ensure that the justice system was well served and that the people of Ontario had confidence in the system as it was evolving, which in fact it is; it's an evolution from the province to the municipalities.

There would be revenue-sharing; in other words, there should be some compensation to the municipalities for taking on all this work. The compensation Crombie estimated to be a net figure of somewhere between $30 million and $40 million, with $30 million being a conservative estimate, no pun intended.

That figure was the result of whatever fines were levied minus the costs of the municipal administration, any adjudication and prosecutorial costs, and 15% which would be levied and paid into the victim surcharge fund. All of those would be deducted. That's a fair compromise because those are costs that would have been paid in any event and should be recovered. Those, in substance, were the recommendations of the Crombie report and it was pursuant to that report that we now have Bill 108.


Just to set a bit of background for those of us who are not as familiar with Bill 108, or indeed with the justice system, the Provincial Offences Act deals with offences which are under the jurisdiction of the province and any regulations that are made by the province pursuant to any act of the Legislature. The types of offences that are covered, as I indicated, are typically the Highway Traffic Act, parking violations, liquor licensing. They're offences of a minor nature; they can be of a more serious nature but largely they're of a minor nature and they're handled summarily.

Constitutionally, the jurisdiction for the administration of justice resides with the province and so the transfer to the municipality is in a sense a delegation of that constitutional right which the province would otherwise have.

Bill 108 amends the Provincial Offences Act in a number of ways. The most significant one is that it adds a new part X. Part X allows the province to enter into agreements with consenting municipalities to allow such municipalities to step into the shoes of the province, because we have that delegation from the province to the municipality, and the municipality in question would have, more or less, all the same powers of the province to administer and prosecute those provincial offences and to levy the fines that accrue.

It's true that some municipalities already prosecute some offences. This is not a novel departure. In fact it does occur, and some might argue that it builds on that precedent. In particular, some municipalities are now prosecuting parking infractions and dealing with them under part II of the Provincial Offences Act.

What this bill proposes to do is to transfer to municipalities the ability to provide a full range of administration, prosecution and court support for what are normally known as ticketable offences, and part II offences which are normally parking offences, as well as administration for part III offences which are offences that require a court appearance or where there is no set fine and therefore you require a court appearance, leaving, in that case, the prosecution to the province. You've got in some cases a wholesale delegation, whereas in part III offences where there are no set fines the prosecution remains in the province.

The substantive sections I think speak largely for themselves. Section 165 speaks very clearly about the agreements and what the agreements will apply to, and as I have indicated, it's parts I, II and III offences and how they will be delegated and the extent to which they are delegated. Also it applies to regulations that may be made.

Some of the interesting provisions come a little later on under part X, and principally subsection 165(5). The act reads:

"(5) The municipality shall pay to the Minister of Finance, at the times and in the manner specified in the agreement, amounts calculated in accordance with the agreement, in respect of,

"(a) surcharges under section 60.1;

"(b) other fine revenues that constitute money paid to Ontario for a special purpose within the meaning of the Financial Administration Act;

"(c) costs the Attorney General incurs for adjudication and prosecution, for monitoring the performance of the agreement and for enforcing the agreement; and

"(d) fines and fees imposed under the Contraventions Act (Canada)."

The municipalities may therefore enter into agreements, not being compelled -- and I think it's a very positive sign that municipalities ought to be able to make up their own minds as to whether this is good for them or not. That would allow some flexibility, because it may be that in some municipalities there may be more of an interest than in other municipalities, perhaps in some of the smaller municipalities where they might not have the staff, they might not have the expertise, they might not have the desire to take this on as an item.

But it's not clear at this time how a municipality is to make an informed decision on the basis of this bill. Assuming that we are in favour of having such agreements, there's no information, for instance, that has been given by the government on how much income will in fact be generated. We have what Crombie indicates as a figure between $30 million and $40 million. We've heard some wild number of $65 million, but there has really been no hard data provided, and I think municipalities will require some of that information in order to be able to make some informed decision.

There's no indication whether the startup costs have been factored in to any of these amounts. You remember that I talked about the fact that whatever moneys the municipalities get are net of costs, but those costs do not include startup costs and they do not include what training may be necessary for personnel, for instance. So again it will be difficult for municipalities to make an informed judgement, given the fact that they don't have hard data to be able to make what is essentially a financial decision for them.

There has really no indication or any evidence presented to us so far that eliminating one provincial system of prosecutions and allowing the proliferation of many systems of prosecution across the province will be more efficient and cost-effective. Perhaps it will be, but there is no evidence to that effect, and common sense would tell us that if you are going to duplicate systems, then surely that is going to entail additional costs. This is something that again is incumbent on the government to show to us and to municipalities to ensure that we have not only a better justice system but a more cost-efficient system.

In short, municipalities are going to require more detailed information than what they have been given so far. In principle it sounds like a good proposal, but municipalities are creatures that have to deal with budgets, they are creatures that have to deal with finances, they are creatures that have to respond to the taxpayer. Therefore, they're going to need those hard financial data in order to be able to make any kind of judgement, or else what we will have is not many municipalities taking up the challenge that the government is throwing out today.

There is also nothing in the legislation which permits a municipality to terminate an agreement if it turns out that the agreement is not of advantage to the municipality. Remember, there's quid pro quo here. They take on the administration and prosecution of certain offences, and in return they are entitled to make a profit. What happens if they don't? Does the collective agreement bind them? For how long?

These are questions that there must be some answers to, and I raise them simply to be helpful, not to scuttle the bill or to say that it's a bill that is not worth supporting in principle. But there are too many unanswered questions as this bill stands, and there's nothing that has come from the Attorney General that could give any comfort to municipalities who were contemplating this agreement in the first place. So I would say to the government members, produce more information, more factual data than you have to date if you want the program to be a success.


Mike Harris, you know, is very fond of saying that there is only one taxpayer, and that's true. I think we all agree with that. At the end of the day, what we don't want is that taxpayer to have to foot a higher bill municipally. That isn't, I hope, the intent of this bill, so I urge you to consider that this aspect is extremely important, to make sure that it is cost-efficient and that it lives up to its stated purpose.

There are some other portions of the bill which I think bear repeating because they're a little more specific than what I've read so far. For instance, the municipalities will be required to live up to certain performance standards which will be spelled out in the agreement. I think that's all to the good, because if you want a system of justice that is clear and transparent, then surely those performance standards must be put in. The municipalities would be subject to sanctions, again to be spelled out in the agreement, if they failed to live up to those standards. That, in the public interest, is a very good measure.

Under subsection 165(1), when an agreement is in force, the municipality has the power to collect fines and surcharges and fees and to enforce their payments. However, the legislation also specifies that the victim fine surcharge must be the first money when a fine is recovered, to ensure that this program is protected. That is a good measure, because we want to make sure that program is protected. There is an interest on all of us to make sure that victims are protected from wrongdoing.

The municipality must also pay over to the province other amounts collected for a special purpose, as well as costs the province incurs for adjudication and prosecution of charges, as well as for monitoring and enforcement of the agreement itself. The municipality may then retain the balance as a fee -- that's pursuant to subsection 165(6) -- but municipalities will not have the power to arrest or detain people who default in paying fines, which is a considerable loophole in this legislation which I expect the government will want to have a look at. What happens if people do not pay their fines?

These agreements may be retroactive once the municipality and the province have entered into them, so the municipalities may enforce the payment of fines before the agreement went into place, and the agreement applies to a proceeding whether commenced before or after the effective date of the agreement. However, it will not apply to a proceeding if the trial is to begin within seven days after the effective date or if the trial began before the effective date and disposition is not yet complete on the effective date. That too is understandable, because if you have a proceeding that's ongoing, it seems more appropriate to let it follow through under the existing rules than to apply new rules and start all over again.

The court clerks in each case may be employees of the municipalities and the trials may be in a location designated by the municipality, but it need not be in premises operated by the province. I imagine that's to allow for as much flexibility as possible.

Under section 168, we find that nothing in the bill interferes with the Attorney General's right to intervene in a proceeding and to assume the role of prosecutor at any stage. That to me implies something less than a full delegation, and to the government I would say, be very specific about the circumstances in which you are prepared to delegate outright and the areas in which you are not prepared to delegate outright. What you do not want to do is create confusion in the mind of the public about who is going to have charge of a particular proceeding at any given time.

It is also interesting to note that while there is a delegation of sorts to the municipality, the act says very clearly that the municipality at no time acts as an agent of the crown. It's not to be seen as an agency; it's very much in the way of a delegation.

There's one final section I'd like to focus on with respect to this particular bill, and that is what happens when a municipality is in violation of any section of the agreement. The Attorney General at that point can make an order directing compliance, and if the municipality does not comply with the order within whatever time the Attorney General specifies, the Attorney General has the power to revoke or suspend the agreement. But remember that the municipality, according to the bill as currently drafted, has no power to get out of the agreement if it finds that it's a bad agreement. There are unilateral powers, privileges, in the Attorney General which are not given to municipalities if they should find, for instance, that this agreement is not profitable for them or it's too cumbersome or they lack the expertise or it's not something their constituents want. They have no choice but to stay locked into it.

I would say to the members of the government that for an agreement to be fair, there must be some quid pro quo, and if there are provisions that allow for the Attorney General to step in and terminate it, at the very least you might look at circumstances under which a municipality might have the right to terminate and call it quits without penalty to itself and its constituents.

One of the bigger issues in this bill, though, as important as the individual sections are and what they tell us about the justice system, is the issue of governance. At some point, and I think this legislation is a perfect time to do it, we have to ask ourselves, how do we decide which level of government is best suited to administer which powers? I confess I've been at a loss as I've watched the Conservative government proceed through the last months, because I'm not sure that's a question you've posed to yourselves, particularly in the last few weeks as we've seen a lot of legislation come forward which has unilaterally dumped -- for lack of a better word -- services and responsibilities on another level of government. I've been in a quandary to understand the rationale behind that, to understand the philosophy that would motivate you, to understand what legislative good you think that has achieved.

All this mega-week discussion -- and Bill 108, unfortunately or fortunately for it, falls very much into that discussion -- cries out for a serious discussion of the subject. That gives even more importance to this bill, because it is a bill not only about justice and a system of justice that must be fair and transparent; it's about a system of government that must be fair and transparent.

We have seen over the last while a spate of legislation that has focused on downloading on to unsuspecting municipalities, may I say, responsibilities for all manner of things. It's really quite mind-boggling when you read the list: community police financing, the integration of farm tax rebate and other rebates to local taxes, property assessment services, social housing, municipal transit, GO Transit services, community libraries, community public health, community ambulance services, homes for special care, community ferries, municipal airport services, fire services, and sewers and water inspections. These are all to be fully downloaded on to municipalities, while another number are to be funded 50% by municipalities: social assistance, child care, long-term care.


It's hard to understand the rationale for downloading all these services. What do they have in common? Why are they being transferred to the municipalities? These are questions that, unfortunately, we have not asked before and certainly, if we have, have not been given any satisfactory answers to.

The cost to municipalities of all this is something in excess of $1 billion. Every expert who has had a crack at these things has said it's going to cost at least $1 billion to municipalities, moneys they haven't got right now, that they have to raise in some way.

That doesn't even begin to factor in, however, the cost of starting up taking over any of these services and the hiring and training of personnel, points I've also made with respect to Bill 108. Bill 108 is a striking example of the additional costs there are going to be that have not been factored in. Municipalities do not have the legal staff, sometimes they do not have the premises, and they certainly do not have the training, the capacity to be able, uniformly, to take on the kinds of things the government may be asking them to do. While it may be tempting for them to try and enter into agreements, the reality is that to enter into those agreements is going to be extremely costly. I see nothing in this legislation to address that, as I see nothing in the legislation you have presented over the last few weeks to address the very serious concerns of municipalities.

People everywhere in Ontario are beginning to understand that they are going to be intimately affected. There are meetings every night of the week all over Ontario where people start to understand that their taxes are going to go up and their services are going to go down. More specifically than that, "services" doesn't mean very much, but to the average citizen the fact that his garbage pickup may be detained, the fact that his or her snow removal isn't going to happen are very serious concerns.

I would urge the government members to consider the very real effects on all our constituents. We live in an Ontario that has enjoyed a certain quality of life for a very long period of time. Your constituents, just as mine do, like to have their garbage picked up, like to have their streets plowed, like to be able to get out in the morning to get to work without having their driveway all full of snow. They like to make sure they're not paying exorbitant taxes for their homes. They want the kind of quality of life, of education, of health care that have made this province a beacon for so many, that has made it, really, a hallmark of all that is good.

But as people realize -- and you all know that. You've been attending these meetings. You know how incensed people are becoming about the downloading on municipalities of all kinds of things, and they are starting to understand about the very real effects on each one of them.

I think it bears repeating what Mike Harris is so very fond of saying, that there's only one taxpayer. That one taxpayer is not going to take very much more. They are going to be very much out-of-pocket and increasingly angry even in your riding.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'll compare our tax-cutting record to yours any day.

Ms Castrilli: Tax cutting uniformly I suppose would be a good idea, but tax cutting for one segment of society is never a good idea. That's called class warfare.


Ms Castrilli: Well, speaker after speaker at the public hearings has come forward and said they've looked at the proposals this government has put forward, in a whole different range of issues, and have found them wanting. They're experts and they're ordinary people; they're Conservatives and they're Liberals and they're people with no political affiliations. The unanimous consensus in the hearings is that. You know very well that even friends of the government are deploring the downloading that is occurring on to municipalities. I don't see how you can say otherwise.

Look at the facts. Just look at what the impact is going to be on some of our cities. We've heard about Toronto and its $378 million, but there are centres all across this province that are going to be in some difficulty with respect to funds they have to come up with: the city of Kingston, $23 million; the city of Brantford, $18 million; the city of Thunder Bay, $15 million --

Interjection: The city of Kingston likes it.

Ms Castrilli: The city of Kingston may like it until they factor the cost, but these are their figures.

-- the city of Peterborough, $13 million; the region of Sudbury, $105 million; the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, $121 million; the region of Niagara, $43 million; the region of Haldimand-Norfolk, $29 million; the region of Ottawa-Carleton, $120 million to $160 million; Prescott-Russell county, $23 million.

These aren't figures that the opposition made up; these are figures that were prepared by financial officers of their particular area, their particular jurisdiction. They are figures that are credible, and they may in the end far exceed $1 billion because they do not include the full cost of service transfers which the province by its own admission has not yet determined: the cost of maintaining and repairing, for instance, some 4,000 kilometres of provincial highways -- that's not factored into that $1 billion -- the cost of repairing 84,000 rundown social housing units. In my riding of Downsview, the mayor, Mel Lastman, has estimated that it will cost $100 million every year to repair the public housing that exists in North York; every year $100 million that a municipality has to come up with. That is really quite a staggering amount and it's not factored into the $1 billion; nor are the costs of bringing sewer and water facilities up to provincial standards.

You can sit there all you want and talk about how this is not going to be affecting people, but everyone who has looked at it feels quite otherwise. The reality is that even your own friends are not particularly happy with what you're doing. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has told you that -- well, I'll quote you the Canadian Taxpayers Federation: "By shifting volatile social services, clearly a provincial responsibility" --

Mr Tilson: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The member was doing very well commenting with respect to Bill 108, with respect to justice. She is now getting into housing and all kinds of other things. I understand the political debate with respect to megacity and other sorts of things, but that really doesn't have anything to do with this bill. So I'd ask that you direct the member to --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): That is a point of order. I've been listening intently to the member for Downsview and I'm sure she's going to bring her argument and her debate within Bill 108.

Ms Castrilli: I'm happy to comply, Mr Speaker, but I was very clear at the beginning about what I was going to talk about and no one took issue. I said one of the things I wanted to talk about was governance and what level of government should be responsible for what. That is very much what Bill 108 is about, and it cannot be seen in isolation because it is in fact part of a larger plan. I'm raising the question, have you really thought through which is the appropriate level of government? So I think it's very much in keeping with the theme of today.

The point is, as in other pieces of legislation that have gone before, people have questions, and you can't dismiss them and say, "Stick to the point." This is the point. The point is, what level of government should be responsible? What's your rationale? Why are you doing this? People are asking this everywhere and they're asking it about every single service that you're downloading on to municipalities.

The distinction between those services and Bill 108 is that at least you've allowed the flexibility for a municipality to enter into voluntary agreements. That's a big step up. You haven't done that with respect to any other legislation that is before us. That's what's appalling people. They do not see a nexus. They don't see an underlying philosophy. They don't understand why this is happening.


What makes public housing a provincial concern? What makes welfare a municipal concern? Where's the rationale in that? Is public health now only a local concern? Is it no longer a provincial concern and, if so, why? Where is the underlying premise for whatever it is you're doing? That's really what the discussion ought to be about and that's what it is about.

If it upsets you that I focus you on the issues, I apologize for upsetting you but I do not change my course lightly.

Mr Tilson: I am not upset.

Ms Castrilli: I'm delighted to hear the member opposite is not upset.

In the interest of trying to be helpful, because I think this is a very serious issue and we've not explored it to any great extent, I'd like, just for the record, to read into the record some very thoughtful things that have been written by individuals who thinks about municipal law and delegated authority and democracy, the kinds of things one would think we would be discussing in Queen's Park but have not to date.

I refer first to Reid Cooper. Reid Cooper is part of the research group at Carleton University. For the information of members, this is a very thoughtful individual. He has a law degree from the University of Ottawa and from Carleton. He has a bachelor of arts in geography and philosophy and a master's degree in philosophy.

His field of study is, precisely, municipal law and delegated legislation. He speaks a great deal in a very recent article, published just at the end of last year, about municipalities and their status vis-à-vis the province.

He says: "In contrast to the image of the city as a mere efficient administrator, municipalities must cope with a web of arbitrary and confusing provincial constraints. This goes beyond the 100-plus provincial acts that govern municipal matters in Ontario, including the complex Ontario Municipal Act, to the various financial constraints."

No truer words were spoken when one considers the enormous amount of other activity and other constraints that are being put on municipalities as a result of the legislation we've seen in the House of late.

He continues: "These provincial constraints have two primary and related effects. Because the workings of municipal government are very confusing to outsiders, the municipality's vital role as a major centre of citizens' access is reduced and this sometimes results in citizens being inadvertently misinformed about matters such as restrictions on building. Part of this confusion is a result of the bureaucracy needed to run a large city. Much of it, however, is a result of the way provinces delegate authority for various local matters to a variety of different municipal bodies. Ontario has been particularly noteworthy for undermining municipal authority."

I think that says volumes about the kinds of activity we've seen in this chamber of late. Without very much understanding of the complexities under which the municipalities already labour, we are imposing -- you are imposing -- additional complexities, additional difficulties, very real financial constraints and expecting them to deal with it, with no consultation and with no warning. That is not the essence of democracy.

I'd like to read you another quote from this very same article. "Financial dependence on the province and the subsequent control exercised by the province through funding allocations is a direct result of municipalities needing provincial authorization to do anything truly innovative. The Ontario government now allows the municipalities a wider range of options for raising funds, but it is doing so while simultaneously placing a substantially greater financial burden on them by cutting provincial grants to local governments and, we might add, by giving them additional responsibility without the fiscal powers to be able to deal with them."

This is a very serious problem and one that needs to be addressed. Mr Reid Cooper is not the only one. Professor David Cameron, who is a noted constitutionalist, speaks very strongly about the fact that we have not given much thought to the kinds of powers that each level of government ought to exercise. He states that legal pre-eminence of the province in matters of local government is limited by the political strengths of local government. We should look beyond the narrowly legal dimension and consider the political realities within which both governments operate, therefore, to divide powers in a reasonable manner.

We should be asking whether it is appropriate for local governments to administer welfare and social housing, whether these are not properly the subject of provincial jurisdiction. We should be asking, what about child care? Should child care be just a local concern? We should be asking about public health. Why does that become only a local concern? Surely the provincial government has an interest in maintaining a level of health care for all of its citizens. Does it make any real sense to make these local and not provincial issues?

I would urge the members of the government and the backbenchers who are here and those who are not here but who are thoughtful and interested in these issues, as I'm sure you are and as I'm sure your constituents want you to be, to think long and hard about these issues before we vote on the many complex pieces of legislation that will come before this House.

So we come back to the administration of justice. What of the administration of justice? Should this be a local responsibility? It's a fair question. This bill answers it by saying it should be partly a local responsibility. We should go further and ask: Will this partial delegation contribute to fairness, to efficiency, to transparency in the justice system? Does Bill 108 reside in the proper level of government? If the result is a series of municipalities all duplicating the same justice system, is that going to be more effective, fairer, more transparent?

I think you could argue, as you in fact have, that duplication is not a good thing, that we're looking for more streamlined organizations. You haven't shown us what the cost benefits will be. It's something that I urge you to do in the next little while.

There are so many unanswered issues with respect to justice that certainly could be raised within the context of this bill. This bill does nothing to alleviate some very serious problems with the justice system, certainly since this government took over. I've stood in this House many times to talk about the fact that 50% of the cases before our courts are now in red alert. That means that alleged offenders could be released because they have not had their time in court, a very serious matter. There certainly is a cry for more money to be poured into the justice system. With some 450 prosecutors who handle 500,000 cases a year, it's going to be impossible to give our citizens the quality of justice they require.

The family support plan is one final item that I will simply highlight as one which this government, frankly, still hasn't handled. It does the administration of justice absolutely no good to hear the Attorney General and the Premier get up and say, "We're fixing the problem, we're fixing the problem, we're fixing the problem." How many times can you hear that? The problem is not fixed. There are thousands and thousands of people who are suffering, most of them children, because of the failure of the justice system and this government to address it.


To return to the specifics of the bill, I will repeat what I said in the beginning: I think the bill in principle has some merit. It leaves too many questions unanswered. It's going to require much more certainty from municipalities. I would urge the government once again to think about what level of government ought to be doing what in Ontario. Even in this particular area you see the confusion already begins because there are instances where the Attorney General can step in and there are instances which are now fully delegated to the municipalities.

I will be looking forward to further debate with respect to this issue. I will say that this is a very important piece of legislation and it's been a pleasure to speak to it.


The Acting Speaker: Is there consent to split the time on this debate? Is it agreed? It's agreed.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'll have the pleasure of sharing the time with my fellow justice critic, the member for Downsview, and I'm very pleased to follow up on her talk. I see Bill 108 is called An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration. I've taken it upon myself to rename this act, as I think it would be more properly called "Another Act to download costs to the property taxpayer," and I would ask for unanimous consent to rename this act. I'm asking for unanimous consent to rename this act "Another Act to download costs to the property taxpayer."

Interjection: I don't think so.

The Acting Speaker: There is not unanimous consent.

Mr Ramsay: That's fine. I just thought I'd try, because when I look at it, this is what this Bill 108 is. Unlike the mega-week announcements, where of course all of these costs were shoved down to the property taxpayer by the Harris government to our municipalities, this is a little trickier piece of work because this is downloading by invitation. What it should have is a health warning on here, like sometimes tobacco products have in this country, and in the States alcohol products have a health warning on them. The warning on this should be that "Entering into an agreement with the Harris government through Bill 108 to take on court administration and costs with the Harris government could be very hazardous to the bottom line and the budget of municipalities." Very definitely there should be a hazardous health warning on here to the fiscal health of our municipalities. I would certainly be making sure we would move that amendment in committee.

For the herbivores out there, this is the Venus fly-trap of downloading, because instead of the nice secretions that the Venus fly-trap uses to seduce flies to come in which it wants to feed on, what the Harris government is doing is using some potential revenues from tickets and fines to try to attract the municipalities into this sort of agreement. But again, because the municipalities don't exactly know what all the revenues are and certainly don't know what all the costs are, this is a trick; it's an entrapment by the Harris government to municipalities. I again say to the municipalities: You've got enough to worry about right now with the mega-week announcements. Be careful. Be cautious about this, because this bill, another act to download the costs to the property taxpayer, could be very dangerous to your fiscal health. That's a very big concern.

As I've said, this is not a forced downloading; this is an invitation. So it's discretionary on the part of municipalities. This is because the province wants to transfer the responsibilities of court administration, court support and prosecution services for part I principal offences, which are basically the minor sort of ticketable offences -- jaywalking in town and those sort of offences -- part II, the parking offences. Of course, they've got the power to issue those tickets, but now they would take on added responsibility from that, as well as the administration of the part III offences, which are the more serious offences with the Highway Traffic Act: dangerous driving, liquor offences. These offences would be handled probably with a court appearance and again would be costly to the municipality.

So it constitutes an invitation. Why the invitation? You just have to look at recent news clippings here this fall: Toronto Star, September 28, 1996, talking about the backlog of court cases in Ontario courts. Of course, this is a big headache for this government and this is one way to start to clear these cases from Provincial Court and go into these newly established municipal courts that the municipalities would be in charge of.

I would warn the municipalities to be very careful about what they're getting into here, because what they're getting into are some additional costs, a lot of costs. You don't know right now what the bottom line is and what the balance sheet might look like with the potential revenues that are certainly there from all the fines that would be levied and the tickets that would be levied, but it's going to be costly.

One of the concerns many of the municipalities have is, exactly what are the potential revenues here and what are the costs? Part of the trap in this is that, looking through this bill, I see nothing in this legislation that would permit a municipality to terminate an agreement that they have entered into with the provincial government. Really, it's a permanent trap. If you get sucked in on the first go, you get seduced by these revenues from these fines and tickets and your costs escalate, then the municipality is stuck with this and the province has been very successful in downloading another provincial responsibility to municipalities.

I want to make it very clear that of course this is a provincial responsibility. In the Canadian Constitution it is the responsibility of the provincial governments to enforce the justice system, to administer the justice system. In the Municipal Act today it is not legal for our municipalities to do so, so part of this bill would be an amendment to the Municipal Act that would allow municipalities, if they so desire, to take on some of that constitutional responsibility that's been the province's up to now to administer the justice system.

I say to those municipal officials who may be watching, you've had in the last few weeks, as they say in the country, a full pail dumped on you, a big responsibility, and to even flirt with this Bill 108, this act to download some more responsibilities to the property taxpayer, I think would be very, very foolish.

This is something municipalities should be very careful before they get into, because who's to say how these costs could escalate over the years? Who's to say what additional responsibilities, what new laws, new regulations they may be asked to enforce after the fact that they've entered into this legislation? It's a slippery slope. It's a very dangerous area for a municipality to get into.

As I said, it has been tarted up. It has been made very attractive by the lucre of the fines from these provincial offences and from the parking tickets. This is something I'm sure municipalities will be very tempted to look at, but it's a trap. I think it should have a health warning on this that this could be very harmful to a municipality's fiscal health, for sure.

This, I think, is quite consistent with the government's pattern of downloading in all aspects of provincial jurisdiction, but especially in this criminal justice system of courts. We're seeing this in another bill that I believe gets second reading debate starting tomorrow with the Police Services Act. There's another area, where up till now OPP services have been delivered free of charge to municipalities of less than 5,000 population. There are some 372 or 373 municipalities that today receive OPP policing without any direct cost to their property taxpayers. This is going to change. One could obviously look at the fairness of what the government is trying to do in the OPP policing, but coming at a time when all the various downloading is going on to the municipalities, Bill 108 being another downloading to municipalities if they wish to enter into it in this case, it is really a lot for these municipalities to digest, and certainly a lot for the property taxpayers in Ontario to digest, for sure.


It's interesting to note that throughout all the propaganda of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario's Common Sense Revolution Premier Harris was and is to this day very adamant that there's only one taxpayer in this province. But what we've seen in this exercise, such as 108 and all the other downloadings, offloadings to the municipal partners of the provincial government, basically is an offloading of expenses and responsibilities to the same taxpayer but coming out of another pocket, the pocket that pays for the property tax.

The concern about this of course is the unprogressive nature of the property tax system. If the municipalities enter into an agreement with the provincial government, utilizing the amendment here to the Provincial Offences Act that 108 allows, there will be another downloading from the income tax system to the property tax system. There again will be added responsibilities to the same taxpayer Mr Harris acknowledges, but a taxpayer who doesn't really have the same ability to pay for those services through a property tax system that she or he would have through an income tax system. That is because -- and I would hope most members realize that here, though I have to wonder with these transfers to municipalities if they really understand that principle. We know David Crombie understands that principle and begged the Harris government not to download the basic social and health services to municipalities, because of that very reason, because of the lack of ability to pay for those services, especially in hard times. That is the real problem with this exercise.

Bill 108 carries on just another aspect of downloading to municipalities. In this case it's administration in support of the court system in order to see the process through of administering provincial offences, all of those aspects, part I, part II and part III. This will be an added new cost to municipalities.

I hope the parliamentary assistant has the answer to this, because when I look at some of the concerns coming from AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, their concerns are: How are we to get a fix on what the actual expenses are of operating the court support system in our municipalities? It's not just for their municipalities, of course, but they would have to do that for the outlying municipalities if the court were centred in their town. What they want to know is, exactly what would be the revenue-sharing agreements between municipalities and what involvement does the province want in any of this? Can the municipality undertake to do the administration even though the court facility may not serve their municipality? How many provincial employees are affected and what are the labour implications to the municipalities?

What municipalities are saying through their criticisms of Bill 108 here is very similar to what happened in the mega-week announcements and that is that the municipalities were not properly consulted. I've never seen a government act so rashly that, after a series of bills have been introduced, the so-called partners, in this case the municipalities, are basically sitting there and scratching their heads, wondering what hit them. What happened with all these downloading announcements? How come we didn't know about them? How are these things going to affect our municipalities?

I had the pleasure on Thursday night of last week attending our Timiskaming Municipal Association meeting in the hamlet of Earlton in the township of Armstrong in about the middle of my riding of Timiskaming. It was a very well attended meeting, one of the best-attended meetings I've ever seen of a municipal association. As the Speaker and other members would know, it is the usual manner that municipalities would nominate a councillor from a municipality, from a township or a town, to go to one of these municipal organization meetings on a district level. In my case of 26 municipalities, you get 26 people if they all turn up to these meetings.

In this case, though, we had whole councils from towns and townships coming before the Timiskaming Municipal Association, and the reason was because they had invited an official from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to answer the questions and give a presentation about the whole downloading exercise, just like Bill 108. In fact, I think they weren't even aware of Bill 108 last week and that didn't even come up for discussion. They were so concerned about the previous announcements and how they were going to handle those, how they were going to be administered, how they'd be billed for those services such as long-term care and social housing.

These things are a real concern of our municipal officials. It was really important that the government should have consulted thoroughly with our towns and our townships so they would have an understanding beforehand and know that truly they are partners with the provincial government, rather than being treated as children, as I think they are through this exercise.

I think we're seeing a return of the patronizing, paternalistic government such as we used to see as part of the 42-year era, with Davis and Robarts --


Mr Ramsay: Well, the Tories say they were good days, but the municipalities and all the partners always considered them a very patronizing government because they really were paternalistic in their relationship with municipalities. Boy, have we seen that attitude return in spades in the last few weeks. Bill 108 is just another one of these, but it's kind of a trickier way you're doing it here. As I said, you're basically entrapping them into a partnership that I think will be very detrimental. I was saying before our House leader came in that there certainly should be a warning sign, and I think that's really important.

I know there are other members in the House here who would like to speak to this bill and get on the record with this. It's certainly not for me to take all the time allotted, because I know other members have some ideas they would like to contribute to this valuable debate. I will surrender our time and thank the Speaker for recognizing me and thank the House for listening to my comments on Bill 108.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mrs Boyd: It is a pleasure to comment on the speeches from the member for Downsview and the member for Timiskaming, both of whom point out some of the concerns as well as the positive aspects of this bill.

I think it is very important, as we discuss this bill, to point out what the pitfalls may be because, as is usual with this government, when the government presents things it talks about it all as though it's a win situation for everyone, and it may not be. It may not be the kind of situation in the long run that will have the kind of benefit that the government claims it will have for municipalities.

It's really important as we go through this to point out the atmosphere within which this bill is occurring, and both the speakers did that. They talked about the cumulative effect of the kinds of changes this government is making, the downloading of responsibility and of costs to municipalities without impact studies having been done, without real policy work having been done to see whether we will have a maintenance of standards when all these issues have been downloaded in such a fast manner.

The municipalities are saying very clearly that they want to cooperate to the extent they can and, obviously, given the financial challenges they face under the circumstances of the downloading that this government has announced, they will be eager to find any means of raising some additional dollars. That should be of concern to all of us, because if the focus of a justice action is to make money for the municipality, that is not necessarily serving justice at all.


Mr Tilson: In response to the members for Downsview and Timiskaming with respect to their remarks on Bill 108, the member for Timiskaming particularly talks as if our government is attempting to trick the municipalities with respect to this issue. You have to acknowledge that under the legislation no one is compelled --


Mr Tilson: To the member for Timiskaming, no one is compelled to participate in this process. Everyone will receive an invitation. All municipalities are to receive an invitation to participate in this program. Some municipalities may be too small; some municipalities may not have the capabilities of carrying out this whole process. My understanding is that there are going to be 75 partnerships and it could take over the next two years to process this.

The member for Downsview talked about the fact that there has been no information with respect to startup costs and information as to developing the program. All they have to do is ask and this information will be gladly provided by the ministry. From that they can determine whether they can put forward a proposal with respect to entering into this program.

There's no trick. In fact, as I indicated in one of my earlier responses, municipalities around this province are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to participate in this proposal. I know in my own riding municipalities are considering this proposal and may indeed participate in it.

One of the issues that was raised by the member for Downsview was that of jurisdiction, indicating that the Attorney General has completely signed over his or her ability to intervene or to participate in these prosecutions. I refer the member to the section in the act that defines --

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

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I thought both speeches of the members for the Liberal Party were very good. The critic for Attorney General and the critic for Solicitor General did an excellent job of analysing this bill and exposing it, particularly the title, "Another Act to download costs to the property taxpayer." Of course that's what this is all about.

The provincial government is cutting its income taxes, which of course will benefit the richest people in our society the most and will not take into account a person's ability to pay. They're dumping it on to the municipal property taxpayer; the municipal property taxpayer, whether he or she has a job, whether he or she has an income to speak of in a particular year, must pay those property taxes. Every municipal politician you talk to, the ones the Premier refers to as whiners, will tell you that it's going to be extremely difficult for them to assume the new responsibilities.

You're going to give them a chance to raise funds. It reminds me of the state of Georgia or the state of Mississippi, where you give the local municipality a chance to get some money through fines or some other provisions of that kind. It's a sad day when municipalities are going to be placed in this circumstance. They're going to be desperate for funding. They're going to be desperate to get money. That's why some of them will embrace this. One wonders whether they'll be able to handle all the costs associated with this when they analyse it.

Certainly it all comes down to the bizarre tax cut. You're borrowing $5 billion a year to finance it, because you don't have the money right now -- you have to borrow that money -- and you're making cuts which even the most ardent right-wing government member could not have contemplated happening.

When they close the hospitals in Ottawa, my good friend from Rideau I know will be on his feet denouncing the government. I'll be supporting and applauding him when he does that.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to participate briefly on Bill 108. I just want to clarify for the viewers today that I think it's very important to read the language of the first section of part X, subsection 162(1). It says: "The Attorney General and a municipality may enter into an agreement with respect to a specified area, authorizing the municipality" to perform courts functions and administrative duties.

In section 3 in the part dealing with the municipal responsibilities, that's part II under the courts of justice system and the Municipal Act changes, it recognizes -- I'll just put it in the record here very clearly -- it says the municipality has the power to enter into an agreement, so it's choice, it's optional.

Here is I think where the economies of scale enter into this. I think it's widely understood that the local levels of government tend to be able to deliver services more efficiently or perhaps more accountably at the lower level than perhaps at the province.

It goes on to say that, "The functions given to a municipality in a part X agreement may be performed by" current "employees," so they could make use of the clerk of the day who might otherwise not be completely occupied.

There are some economies that maybe once a week they could have court and make use of -- for example, in subsection (4) it says, "The power to perform a part X agreement may be exercised in an area outside the municipality's territorial limits if that area forms part of the area specified in the agreement." In other words, they could serve a larger area than just a municipality. In fact, they could hold the court within the municipal building.

I think if you look at some of the opportunities for the municipality to establish this activity -- convenience to the constituents, making use of full-time staff and also making use of municipal facilities -- there may be efficiencies, and it's their choice.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Thank you. Your time has expired. The member for Timiskaming, you have two minutes.

Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much. I think you missed my speech and I'm really sad for you that you did because it was really good, Mr Speaker.

I think the key to this is that it says here it's "An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration." When you were out I had asked for unanimous consent to rename the bill, "Another Act to download costs to the property taxpayer," because that's exactly what it is.

I'm just a little surprised because I know this government prides itself on its plain language titling of its bills. Certainly we've had quite a few of them like the Fewer Politicians Act etc. So I would think to be consistent you should keep a title such as this, because that's exactly what this is.

As I said in my speech, this isn't a compulsory download in this case, this is a seductive download. This is entrapment, if you will, by the Harris government to the municipal governments to take over the onerous and growing cost of court support and administration and prosecuting provincial offences. I think municipalities should really be warned to tread very carefully before they enter into these sort of arrangements with this government.

There's only one reason why this government's doing this. If the fines were so rich, if the income and revenue streams were so rich from these offences, then obviously they'd be wanting to keep it, so I'd be very wary of this sort of tradeoff that, "Yes, you can have all the revenues from the fines and tickets if you take over this administration." I just have to ask, if it was so good why would the government be forgoing all this revenue?

Again I send this warning to municipalities: I don't think this is a very good deal for you. Be very, very cautious before you enter into this.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mrs Boyd: Before I start I'd like to ask unanimous consent for us to defer our critic's speech since he wasn't able to be here this afternoon since this was called rather suddenly, and to continue with rotation until he is able to speak on this bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I think it's very essential for us to start off by saying that it is hard to argue with the objectives of this bill as they are stated. There is no question at all that the work that has gone on over the last 10 years in terms of trying to streamline and focus attention on getting the courts to work more smoothly, getting them to work more efficiently, getting some of the costs and the delays under control is very much something all parties in this House have agreed to. So the purpose of this act, if that is as it is stated, is certainly one with which very few people in Ontario could possibly argue.


The problem of course happens because this bill is coming forward at the time that it is and the suspicion that has been raised in everyone's mind around this so-called wash, this switch of responsibilities, switch of revenues that this government has announced. I would submit to you that had this bill come forward in a different climate and at a different time, had it come forward with the kind of real discussion with the municipalities and with the police that ought to have been done, it would be rather easier for us to stand and speak about the impact of it as being positive. The Attorney General, when he gave his speech, said there had been lots of discussion, there had been a lot of work done, and he read out a couple of letters from a couple of mayors who indicated they thought this would be a good idea. The problem is that they seem to have said that under the impression that it was going to save them some money.

I recall, and I wish I could have it in front of me in Hansard, but of course it's too early for that this afternoon, that the Attorney General read out a letter from the mayor of London. One of the statements the mayor of London made was that doing this would somehow allow more police officers on the street. If that's what mayors who are in favour of this act think is going to be the natural consequence of it, it leads me to wonder how they think that is going to happen.

I ask the question because we have of course the Police Services Act that's in front of us as well, where there's a change from bylaw enforcement officer to law enforcement officer under the Police Services Act. I asked whether this act in any way makes it easier for municipalities to divest themselves through the police services commission of a whole slew of items that could only be enforced by police officers in the past.

I asked that question because of course it's essential for people to understand that this sounds like it is minor offences only, but let's look at what is actually included.

Administrative functions, prosecution and court support for part I offences: Approximately 80% of part I offences -- regulatory ticket offences, except parking, which are punishable by fines of up to $500 -- are issued under the Highway Traffic Act. Those examples of part I offences under the Highway Traffic Act are speeding up to 49 kilometres over the limit -- many of our municipal police forces, municipalities, are working with roads where the limits are 80 or 90 or in some cases even 100 kilometres per hour, so these are offences that are speeding up to 49 kilometres over the speed limit -- failing to stop at a red light or a Stop sign, improper left turn, failure to wear a seatbelt.

All of these are fairly serious offences, although they're considered minor offences. The administrative functions and the prosecution of those offences are serious matters for us in our community, and there are often serious issues raised in the prosecution of those offences which go far beyond a mere acquaintance, shall we say, with court process and with constitutional rights. There's a certain issue at hand here around the seriousness of those offences, and I'm not sure people really recognize that.

Non-Highway Traffic Act offences under part I include things like minor liquor licence infractions, such as an open bottle of liquor or being intoxicated in a public place, as well as ticket scalping under the Ticket Speculation Act. These are all included in those part I offences.

The part II offences of course are the parking tickets. That is why I emphasize, particularly to the government members, that we understand the reason why the efficiencies of assigning this to municipalities are good, because that's what we did with parking offences, and we found indeed that there were municipalities which were eager to take that on and have taken that on and that in some cases have been quite disappointed in the amount of revenue they have managed to obtain. They had, in some cases, greatly overestimated the amount of revenue that would be left over to them once they paid all the expenses involved in administering that part of the act. Some 95% of parking tickets are now handled by municipalities, and we know that there is no logical reason why that can't be done. The issues arise around how it is done, what are the standards, and how it is done when they are serious offences such as those that I listed under part I of the act, particularly the traffic offences.

It is quite clear that for the most serious offences, which are under part III, offences for which someone might be jailed, where there are very, very serious circumstances surrounding those offences, the province will continue the prosecution. I'm very pleased to hear that because it is very, very important that where jail might be a consequence of an offence, the province take charge of that prosecution. I'm delighted that that's the case. However, those provincial prosecutors are going to be having to work with the administrative functions under a municipality, and it is not clear, as I read through the act, whether that means provincial prosecutors will be working within the court setting that is set up by the municipality under the act. It is not clear what the security provisions will be for the prosecution under the act.

Those are all issues that have arisen before in our provincial courts and in our General Division courts, the Ontario Court, and it is important for us to understand exactly what the process is going to be. With this act, if there is an agreement between the municipality and the province, the municipality becomes responsible for determining where the court setting will be, for determining how records are kept, for determining the flow of records, for ensuring that records are present and that sort of thing. One would assume the municipality would also be responsible for security.

Mr Speaker, you will well remember the huge outcry that municipalities made when they were made responsible for security in the provincial courts, and they continue to fight with the provincial government about those costs because they say that they got really burned, that the cost of providing that security was much higher than they expected it to be. So these are questions I'd like to ask.

I find it interesting that the Attorney General said that there had been a lot of discussion with police, because we contacted police chiefs who said: "We haven't even had any opportunity to talk about this. There's far too much going on with trying to create a budget, with trying to examine what the likelihood is of changes under the changes to the Police Services Act, changes under Bill 103. We haven't even looked at this, so we don't know what questions we have." That is not really, frankly, very helpful to any of us, as members of the provincial Parliament, when we are trying to find out what the concerns are of the people who have to this point been responsible for enforcing these laws.

My concern here is, because the act clearly talks about the prosecutors, defines the prosecutor in the following way under this act: "`prosecutor' means the Attorney General or, where the Attorney General does not intervene, means a person acting on behalf of the municipality in accordance with the agreement or, where no such person intervenes, means the person who issues a certificate or lays an information, and includes counsel or agent acting on behalf of any of them."


That's not necessarily ominous, but with the concerns around the possible privatization, the hiving off and privatization of certain functions of the police, I would have thought the police would be asking very serious questions about whether the way this is worded anticipates that there might well be a connection between who is enforcing what in terms of the Highway Traffic Act or the liquor acts and so on, and then who is responsible for prosecution.

Police officers have often prosecuted in the past on the Highway Traffic Act. They have acted as agents. But this bill says that someone prosecuting under this act is not an agent of the Attorney General, an agent of the crown in right of Ontario or of the Attorney General.

What we are talking about here is a fairly fundamental change -- that is section 169 -- in terms of who is responsible for the ultimate bringing to justice of people who do not obey very serious laws. It means we no longer have a situation where there is going to be a consistency and a line of responsibility through the chief law officer of the crown, the Attorney General.

The member from Dufferin was about to say that the Attorney General has the right to intervene at any time in these cases, and he's right. This bill very clearly gives the Attorney General the right to intervene in any case at any time, and that should be some comfort to us, but the reality is that someone prosecuted under an agreement with a municipality has not got the same recourse as they would have had the prosecution been done under the crown in right of Ontario or the Attorney General. So it is a different kind of process and a different kind of process for fairly serious infractions of the law.

I would point out, as I did in my response to the Attorney General's speech, that he is quite right. The act sets out in subsection 162(3) that, "Performance standards and sanctions shall be specified in the agreement; the municipality shall meet the standards and is subject to the sanctions for failure to meet them." But we don't know what those standards are and we have no idea what those sanctions might be.

What is really of concern here, as my colleague from the Liberal Party suggested, is that there will become a very uneven way of administering what ought to be a law which applies to all of us equally, because unless we're very clear about what the standards are, the standards of prosecution, the standards of recordkeeping, the standards of privacy of information, the standards of timeliness, unless we have some real clarity about what those standards are and what sanctions the government is going to be able to bring to bear on a municipality that finds it is not getting enough revenue if it spends the money it needs to spend in order to maintain those standards, then what recourse will people have?

We do not want to see ourselves in the same situation of many jurisdictions around the world where the pursuit of the almighty dollar becomes the purpose of the law, and we all have heard stories of jurisdictions where that happens. Some of us have even experienced it ourselves. It is something we have always been very proud about in Ontario: that we can be sure there will be a consistent standard of prosecution that is conducted in our courts. This leads, because it means it will be done by individual jurisdictions under individual different agreements. We don't know that there will be maintenance of a consistent standard. As we travel across this province, we will not know what the standard might be in one place or another.

This would not be nearly as worrisome if we could be very clear about the issue of who's enforcing the law, not just who's prosecuting the law and administering a prosecution, because we also have in front of us a Police Services Act which changes the composition of police services boards. A municipality now will have the right to appoint the majority of a police services board. No longer will the province have control over the composition of a police services board, a police services board which had certain standards that it needed to meet and certain requirements that it needed to meet in terms of the enforcement of the law. Now the municipalities will have control over the composition of police services boards.

This is an issue of very grave concern to police chiefs across this province and to those who are interested in the even administration of justice. It is particularly serious when we see a police services board controlled by a municipality that has been impoverished by the downloading of this government and will be seeking every means at its disposal to try and raise revenue.

This government constantly prides itself -- almost break their arms patting themselves on the back -- around the reduction in income tax, but what it is doing is removing from the whole regime of the ability to pay to a very regressive system of property taxes, sales taxes, fines, various user fees, all the way across the line; a whole series of revenue situations which have no relationship to the ability of people to pay.

If the poorer taxpayers in Ontario thinks they are going to get a break, by the time you add up all the user fees and the increase that will be required in property taxes to meet the downloading we've heard, once we see a rampaging municipal structure that is looking for every dollar it can have because of these downloaded responsibilities, I can assure you it is going to become extremely difficult for people in Ontario to have any sense that this is a just society, that this is a system of justice that is based on the importance of maintaining public safety, the importance of maintaining a sense of trust and of security within our communities.

It will become instead, I think, quite frankly, a situation where municipalities will be so anxious to raise whatever moneys they can that they will enter into this kind of agreement, they will take the advice of the study that the Minister of Municipal Affairs conducted which clearly talks about a reduction in the police forces of this province, and we will see a very serious threat to the administration of justice as we know it.

This bill in and of itself -- if, for example, we were sure what the standards were going to be -- is not necessarily bad, particularly if what it does is reduce the crowding within our courtrooms, if it reduces the wait people have in waiting for trials, if it ensures that there is a more timely and more efficient collection and storage of records. If all of those things should happen, this could be a very good thing. But it is the context within which this is happening that makes everyone so suspicious and really raises a lot of concerns about what the end objective of this should be.


It is important for us to understand how desperate this government is to convince the municipalities that this process of entering into an agreement with the province around the administration and prosecution of provincial offences. They are so desperate to sell this as a good thing because of course they have predicted that the municipalities may stand to gain as much as $65 million as a result of this transfer. That $65 million is part of what they call "the wash" that's going to happen between the province and the municipalities with this huge downloading exercise.

Since there has not been a great deal of discussion with the municipalities, since the municipalities at this point don't know what the standards are going to be around how they would deal with provincial offences -- they certainly don't know how or where they are going to have the space to prosecute these, they don't know how much staff is going to be required; they haven't had that kind of detailed discussion with the ministry -- they can only take the word of government that somehow they're going to come out $65 million ahead. There's been absolutely nothing done, no figures, to show how this is actually going to work. If the government can produce those figures, then we would certainly say, "Let us see them and we will stop criticizing."

Our concern is, as far as we've been able to determine by talking to the municipalities, talking to the police services, we cannot find any extensive work that's been done to show exactly how these costs would wash out in the long run. We don't see how the government can make that kind of claim that $65 million is going to be left over, because right now these offences are being prosecuted, the court records are kept, the administration of the system is done within the court system, within the provincial system. The ministry can tell the municipality what that court jurisdiction cost is to it, but we all know there's such a thing as an economy of scale.

In a provincial court setting, particularly a unified court setting where you have both the provincial and the general division courts together and you have a system of courts administration and recordkeeping that does all of these offences, it may well show that the fines that are brought in in that setting are way more than the cost of administering that program, but we don't know how that would work out in individual municipalities. We really don't. The municipalities are getting told this is going to be a good thing, but they don't know for sure that this isn't just another ploy on the part of this government to try and sell them a bill of goods.

It will be very interesting to see, as time goes on, how many of the municipalities will be prepared to enter into agreements with the provincial government on this. What may initially be an enthusiasm, once they find out what the standards are likely to be, if of course the government maintains high standards that guarantee a reputable administration of justice around these issues, if in fact that should occur, we may find many of the municipalities saying: "We're not going to make enough money out of this to take on this added responsibility. We don't think this is an appropriate agreement for us to enter into." Then all of these predictions will go down the drain.

It's quite clear that this is a permissive bill in the sense that it allows municipalities to enter into agreements, it doesn't require them to do so, although with the draconian measures that this government has not hesitated to put in in many other ways -- we keep in mind, for example, that restructuring of county governments and restructuring within the municipal sector was going to be something the government would encourage. Now it's decreed it in the city of Toronto, and in fact this morning I was reading in my paper that a restructuring commissioner has been appointed in Kent county to tell Kent county and Chatham how they ought to govern themselves, since they were unable to come to a voluntary agreement.

When we say this is a permissive bill that allows an agreement to be reached between the two jurisdictions, frankly, given the record of this government, I imagine many municipal councillors are sitting back and saying, "It may be voluntary today, but who knows what will happen tomorrow?" particularly if it's found that the revenues are not at all what they're set out to be in the great downloading system of all time.

It is very clear to me that there needs to be a great deal of work done to tell us what the standards are going to be, to tell us what the conditions are going to be, to actually look at what the costs would be associated with putting this kind of a bill into place. There certainly will be labour issues that will arise between the municipal and provincial governments. The government of course, in Bill 26, destroyed succession rights for its own employees who have been carrying out these tasks. If it is any indication of what we've seen in other areas where they have done this, the municipalities are going to be very aware of the kinds of pressures they will be facing from their own unionized employees around the issues of those employees who will now no longer be needed by the Attorney General's ministry.

I would say it's quite clear that part of this is the necessity for the Attorney General's ministry to downsize substantially and that it is not, as some have said, to create more efficiency within the courts. It is, in fact, to reduce the staff in the ministry, to reduce the payroll of the government, to keep that almighty promise that this government made of smaller government. The way they do that is to pass their duties on to other levels of government and then say, "See, we haven't created more staffing; what we've done is show ourselves to be very efficient." What they have done in the course of it is to lose the services of people who have been dedicated to public service within this province and to whom we all ought to be grateful, rather than carping about the expense of high-class service that we have received.

In closing, I would say that if the minister or his parliamentary assistant were to come forward with some clarity around what the standards will be for the administration and prosecution of these offences, if they were to come forward and show us any kind of study that backs up their estimate of a $65-million increase in municipal revenues as a result of taking this on, we would be much happier. We do not think it is fair for this government to bring forward this kind of bill, with the kind of assurances it has had, when it clearly has not done the study and taken the care that's necessary to ensure that this bill does not in any way impinge upon the quality of justice in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Tilson: The member for London Centre has raised a number of issues which -- they've put up my time for speaking, Mr Speaker -- it will be difficult for me to respond to in two minutes. Perhaps later, when I have an opportunity to speak, I will address some of her concerns.

One of the issues, in the time I have, is her fear of a municipality being too rigorous or not rigorous enough with respect to processes, and that's a reasonable question to ask; in other words, not enforcing the legislation or enforcing it too much.


Her question with respect to provincial standards is a legitimate question and I can tell you that standards are being developed which will be made public with respect to prosecutions, security, administration. That will be made available hopefully in the very near future.

The agreements that will be entered into will be very specific with respect to meeting provincial standards, and I believe there'll be about 75 of these agreements around the province, in that neighbourhood at least.

Second, provincial officials will be able to monitor what is going on with respect to these particular municipal courts, and if they're not enforcing it they will make sure they're enforcing it pursuant to the provisions of the agreement.

Finally -- I wouldn't want to hang my hat on it -- there's a political issue that obviously if the public who live in a particular community feel municipal officials are being overzealous or not specific enough, that will have an effect.

What the government is mainly concerned with: There will be provincial standards. I know the member is concerned and I can assure that those standards will be met.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I'd just like to congratulate the member for London Centre on her comments. As we know, as a former Attorney General of the province she certainly knows of what she speaks.

One of the main things I've heard in regard to Bill 108 is that there is a real lack of clarity in terms of questions regarding the court system, about who is responsible for what; it's much the same as Who Does What, but this is now who will take on the responsibility for what. One of the most outstanding questions that has yet to be answered is what the costs are going to be and who will be responsible for those costs.

As I've indicated in the House over the week, I attended the Kenora District Municipal Association meeting this past weekend and I have to say there were a good number of municipal leaders in that room who were quite concerned about the costs and what the costs are going to mean to their particular municipalities.

When the member talks about the police chiefs not having an opportunity to speak to Bill 108, this does not surprise me at all. It's something that I hear, not only from police administration, from court administration, but from anybody involved in government. It seems this government wants to barrel ahead, roll ahead, steamroll anyone who is in its way and move on with it without any consultation at all -- I've talked about teachers a great number of times -- no consultation with the people on the front lines, whether it be the people who are responsible for the court system, the municipal leaders, the teachers. I can go on and on.

One aspect the member points out that's a real concern of course is the uniformity of the providing of laws across the province and the pursuit of the mighty dollar.

Again, I would just like to congratulate the member on her comments and --

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Len Wood: I want to congratulate the member for London Centre for the excellent presentation she made on this bill. I listened to the comments that were made here today. I listened to some of the comments at the ROMA convention that I went to on Monday. People are coming and looking for answers and the parliamentary assistants and the ministers are saying, "We don't know yet what's going to happen, but we're going to dump this on to the municipalities."

As the member for London Centre said, it's a way of finding ways for the Attorney General to meet his target and lay off a whole bunch of well-paid government employees. It could mean that he's going to help the other ministers meet their target of 15,000 or 20,000 well-paid provincial employees and dump this on to the municipalities, knowing that the municipalities have been cut back and been dumped on.

Whether it be social housing, welfare, social assistance, they've reduced everything right down to the bare bone and now they're being asked to enforce something that the provincial government always had responsibility for.

It's just another example of telling the municipalities and the cities in Ontario that here's some more responsibility they're going to have to look after, and somebody else to blame when people in the communities say, "Why am I not getting this type of service or that type of service?" Mike Harris is going to be able to say, "Don't blame us, that's the municipalities." At the same time they're telling the municipalities to take the poison pill and dissolve themselves and try to merge with some other community nearby and get rid of their town administrators, get rid of their mayors and town councils.

There are all kinds of questions out there and there are no answers coming from this government on any of the issues that have come up during the mega-week dump.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I would address my comments to the member for London Centre on her remarks. She speaks with obviously a very good motivation on this issue from her experience as the Attorney General of Ontario. In her remarks she mentioned on a number of occasions her concern, once the bill becomes law, on the implementation of the bill. We should all be concerned and I think her comments there are very well taken, wanting to ensure the bill is implemented wisely and well.

I could maybe indicate one area of this bill that I think is positive towards my community. One area that has been a constant annoyance to the law enforcement community is when the local community has to pay for its police service, as they have in Nepean and Ottawa-Carleton for a good number of years. I can give her an example of an individual who phoned and said, "They're speeding in front of my home every day." The regional police in Ottawa-Carleton would have to pay for the speed trap on an ongoing basis; to have a uniformed officer on the street would be quite expensive a good amount of the time.

What this would allow, through the collections of the Provincial Offences Act, is the regional police to get the money back from that -- after the victim surcharge of course -- that could help them fund so they could put those speeders out of business. I think it could be the same, particularly for speeding offences near schools, and potentially even for drunk-driving offences. This could help offset the costs of the RIDE program, something that has been non-political and has enjoyed support from all three governments over the last 10 or 15 years. That's one component. I find there's a lot of support in my community that would indicate that support to her.

This portion of the bill, of the so-called mega-week, allowing municipalities to collect the money, is a provincial uploading, allowing the local governments and the regional governments in various parts of the province to collect some of those offence moneys when they're paying for the implementation of it, something that I think is long overdue.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: I'm relieved to hear the parliamentary assistant say that standards will be ready soon. I hope they will be ready before we are asked to pass this bill. It is important for us to know what it is we are passing. I would simply say to the parliamentary assistant that, because of this headlong rush this government is doing, the kind of backup to make a positive bill out of this is not there.

If he had a model contract, for example, so that we could see how this implementation is going to take place, we would be relieved. I don't think there's a person in Ontario who is impressed with the ability of the Attorney General to implement anything after the mess of the family support plan.

So implementation, yes, is a very serious issue. How is it going to work? We are being asked to take on faith that it's going to be okay. Quite frankly, I think people, certainly on our side of this House, are getting very tired of being told, "Well, trust us," because so far there's not been a lot to trust.

The member for Nepean seems to assume this money is going to go into police services. There's nothing in this bill that suggests the money collected by a municipality will go into police services, nothing to require the municipalities to put this money into police services or to subsidize the police services that all of them are cutting because of the cuts in the provincial grants. All of them are requiring their police forces to lower their numbers, and across the province we are seeing great drops in both the OPP and municipal police forces, up to 1,000, for example, in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.

Although all these kind words and this soothing syrup comes for the government, the questions still remain. What is the long-term effect of this bill going --

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?


Mr Tilson: In the time remaining today, I'd like to make a few comments with respect to Bill 108. We've heard from the minister and we've heard from both opposition parties with respect to their concerns. The opposition parties have raised some concerns which I think we're obliged to provide some responses to.

One of the questions that was raised had to do with consultation, as to whether this thing has just come out of the blue, and yes, the standards haven't been made available yet. That is a reasonable criticism.

The whole process, I believe, began approximately in June 1996 when the Provincial Offences Act project carried out a number of internal and external stakeholder consultations. They included people from a wide range and they included people from the judiciary. That began with Chief Justice Linden. There have been ongoing consultations with associated chief coordinator of justices of the peace, Marietta Roberts. Justice of the peace Carolyn Robson was assigned to consult and participate in team and task force meetings, and so on with respect to the judiciary. So there was a fair bit of consultation and there will continue to be.

Once the sites have been selected, I can tell you that the judges in those selected areas will receive briefings. We will request advice from them with respect to those specific sites. So that process is ongoing with respect to the judiciary.

As well, the project team met with the Canadian Bar Association in October 1996. That too is going to be ongoing with respect to consultations with the Canadian Bar Association. Consultations are being planned with them. The meeting with the chair of the municipal law section of the Canadian Bar Association has taken place. There have been meetings with the Law Society of Upper Canada.

There have been meetings with the municipalities. Some of the members have indicated that the municipalities don't seem to know what is going on with respect to this whole concept. The project accepted six invitations to appear at the Crombie Who Does What subpanel. The subpanel advised on a format for municipal consultation. The subpanel recommendation was to consult with six localities represented on the subpanel plus a representative northern city. They were the city of Brampton, the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, the regional municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, the town of Milton, the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, the city of St Thomas and the city of Thunder Bay. Site visits to these areas were carried out last year. There has been consultation around the province with the judiciary, with the police, with people in the legal field with respect to this area, so there has been a certain amount of preparation.

It was interesting hearing the comments from the member for Hamilton Centre. As has been indicated by the Attorney General, we are building on the successful transfer of parking tickets to the municipalities which was made, I believe, three years ago. The result of this transfer has, in our belief, been a service in that there's been a lower cost to the public as a result of this transfer of administration of justice with respect to traffic tickets in particular. Some 95% of traffic tickets are handled by municipalities, and our government is now taking the next logical step from that process.

Our intent is to eliminate waste and duplication, a consolidation of the administration of provincial offences, primarily ticketable offences, at one level of government. I could give the example that administrative processes are duplicated when two offices process a single certificate of offence. With our changes, only the municipal office would process the certificate.

That is the general intent as to why we are processing this legislation or introducing this legislation to be brought forward to the House at this time. I know some members, particularly the member for Timiskaming -- I commented in my two-minute comment that he felt it was a trick. Well, it's not a trick.

Representations will be received with respect to proposals from different municipalities as to whether they'd be prepared to enter into these agreements that will be around the province. They do not have to be part of that. If you don't want it, then don't make a proposal. If you want information as to the financial aspect of it or if you want information as to how it can be done, you communicate with the ministry and we will tell you, and from there you -- when I say "you," the municipality -- can determine whether or not you are prepared to put forward a proposal. At that stage, an agreement could be entered into between the municipality for a particular area and the province of Ontario.

Comments have been made as to whether a municipality is economically capable of handling this, whether they're able to handle the costs or whether they have the facilities to do it. The province won't accept those proposals. Unless the province is confident that this system can be administered by the particular municipality that's putting forward the proposal, it simply won't be accepted. Do you have the facility to hold the types of areas that these cases should be heard in? Do you have the staffing? Do you have the ability to administer it? If you don't have that ability, you're not going to get the proposal.

On the issue of startup costs, all of that information, I can tell you, will be made available.

There is a jurisdictional issue, and I tried to respond to that briefly from the member for Downsview when she made a comment that we, the province, were essentially assigning our rights to prosecute these offences to the municipalities. I can tell you that if you read sections 167 -- I think the member for London Centre read subsection 167(2), and I won't read them again; it goes on into the right to intervene, section 168 and, finally, sections 169 and 170. I believe that if members will read those sections, you will see that the Attorney General clearly has the right to intervene, clearly has the right to prosecute and clearly has the right to appeal, so that the standards that have existed in the province of Ontario for so long will continue.

The member for London Centre, as I tried to answer in the brief response that we had from her remarks, was worried about sanctions, what will happen if the act isn't enforced or what will happen if the act is overenforced. Perhaps I could spend a few moments talking about that.

There is going to be a process of monitoring. Provincial officials will monitor these municipal courts to determine whether or not the agreements are being complied with, which will be very strict. These agreements will be very strict and very clear as to the provincial standards that will be required across this province. There will be a requirement for reporting to the province. There will be the right of the Attorney General to direct compliance so that if a municipality isn't complying with the legislation or isn't complying with the standards, the Attorney General will have the ability to require a municipality to meet those compliances.

The biggest stick of all, and I'm directing my comments, through you, Mr Speaker, to the member for London Centre, is the right to revoke the agreement so that if a municipality is botching it, the province can revoke the agreement. We believe the threat of that will require municipalities to operate the system in the standards that we require, that will be of a provincial nature.

The other issue, of a political nature, is that the offences that these courts will be administering are of a local nature. They're local types of offences, speeding offences; the police are local, the accused are local, the people who are working in the systems are local, and it stands to reason that the process should be administered locally. I can tell you that if the fears of the opposition are that the charges aren't going to be enforced adequately or there's going to be an overzealousness of enforcement, the political people will hear of that and in turn that could reach the Attorney General. It's the agreement that will bear; it's the agreement between the municipality and the government that will be used to guide the process.

There were comments that there was a fear that police might be laid off as a result of this, that police who are now in the process would be laid off and that some lesser type of enforcement officer will be enforcing these charges. I can tell you the bill does not deal with who lays the charges. The Provincial Offences Act says it must be a provincial offences officer. So there's no change as to the type of officer who will be enforcing these types of charges. There is nothing in the bill or the Police Services Act that changes the functions as to what law enforcement officers can do.


Mr Tilson: I'm afraid I can't hear what the member for London Centre is saying, but I can tell you that the provincial standards that are being set forward in the various pieces of legislation, the Police Services Act being one, will be complied with.

As well, the prosecution standards will be spelled out in the agreements and they will be quite specific. I think it's fair for members to ask what will be in those agreements, and yes, we do not have that now. I can tell you that that will be made available hopefully in the very near future. Improper charges will be rejected by the courts, who will remain independent, and the province.

Mr Speaker, it being 6 of the clock, perhaps I could move adjournment of the debate.

The Deputy Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1802.