36th Parliament, 1st Session

L162 - Thu 13 Feb 1997 / Jeu 13 Fév 1997




















































The House met at 1002.




Mr Patten moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 111, An Act to amend the Mental Health Act / Projet de loi 111, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la santé mentale.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Ottawa-Centre.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My private member's motion is to address the failings of a system that has caused severely mentally ill persons to fall between the cracks. My objective in bringing this bill forward is to enable them and their families to get the very best treatment that they so desperately need and deserve.

These severely mentally ill persons often lack the insight to continue treatment after they are released from hospital and/or after acute symptoms have dissipated. They are victims of a revolving-door syndrome because they end up in hospital several times a year, following a pattern of treatment, release, feeling better, non-compliance with medication, severe deterioration and return to hospital. Schizophrenics in particular occupy more hospital beds than people with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis combined.

Schizophrenia strikes one in 100 people at some point in his or her lifetime. According to the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, 10 years after their first schizophrenic episode 25% have recovered completely; another 25% are much improved and living fairly independent lives; 25%, although improved, still need extensive support; 15% are hospitalized and show no improvement; and 10% have killed themselves.

It is estimated that at any given time, 2% of the population is suffering from a mental illness. A serious mental illness would include other diagnosable disorders, such as manic-depressive illness and other psychoses.

I believe that people have the right to be healthy. The purpose of the Mental Health Act is to provide treatment and to care where it is needed. Yet the very nature of some types of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, which is a biological brain disease, prohibits the recognition of the illness by those who are acutely ill. Accordingly, they are unable to exercise their right to receive treatment.

My bill is not changing the process for involuntary admission. There are still three methods for application for psychiatric assessment: by a physician, a justice of the peace or a peace officer. There would still be a two-step test to be satisfied, and the first step remains the same.

Currently, in the second step, one ground for involuntary admission is that a person is suffering from a mental disorder that is likely to result in "imminent and serious physical impairment of the person." The word "imminent" is a problem for psychiatrists and for others, as it is taken to mean "immediate." Also, if the patient being admitted or any person on his or her behalf makes an application to a review board, the psychiatrist must be able to satisfy that board that he or she has met the criteria. This is too often problematic. "Imminent" became the test for all standards, according to the original drafter of the bill, which was not the intent of the bill.

My bill proposes two modifications: The first is to remove the word "imminent," while keeping the rest of the phrase, "serious physical impairment of the person." The second change I'm proposing is to add an additional criterion which is as follows: "Substantial mental or physical deterioration of the person that is likely to be alleviated by treatment in a psychiatric facility."

What we are trying to accomplish with these changes is to ensure that a person who suffers from a mental disorder may be admitted to a psychiatric facility as an involuntary patient if the disorder is likely to result in serious physical impairment or a substantial physical or mental deterioration of the person.

Many persons with schizophrenia live on the streets with no treatment. The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario claims that at least one third of the homeless have schizophrenia. Many others are in prison for crimes committed while in a psychotic state.

I know at first hand from my days as Minister of Correctional Services that many persons who were severely mentally ill ended up in the correctional system. On any given day, 15% to 20% of inmates in the provincial correctional system are mentally ill and could benefit from psychiatric or psychological intervention; 4% to 5% are so seriously mentally ill that they require heavy medication. Correctional officers are not equipped to deal with these situations.

In the past couple of years in my community of Ottawa-Carleton, there have been many unfortunate incidences which resulted in tragedies, including the death of a well known television personality as he left his office, a nurse as she arrived home from a night shift, a Department of Justice lawyer who was shot by her husband, and an 18-year-old youth shot by his father. Recently an 81-year-old woman was stabbed five times at a bus stop. An incident of possible violence at the Prime Minister's residence by an intruder was averted. These crimes were committed by people with a history of severe mental disorders who lived in the community but were not receiving treatment.

I know that some of you are concerned about the rights of persons to make their own decisions about refusing treatment, and I am too, but I ask you to consider this: People with schizophrenia, the most severe of the mental illnesses, have serious difficulty obtaining treatment. The very nature of schizophrenia prevents those afflicted from recognizing their own illness. They often refuse the treatment and care that they desperately need. Refusing treatment is a common characteristic of the illness because they lack insight and cannot recognize their need for help.

Excellent treatment is available, according to Dr Lapierre, psychiatrist and chief at the Royal Ottawa Hospital and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa. If patients are not treated effectively early they may have a worse outcome. Dr Lapierre claims that by the time he gets some patients they have deteriorated to the point where they need several months of treatment, whereas had he had them much earlier he could have had them functioning much better in a few weeks.


Perhaps one of the most tragic cases I've come across is that of the Deighton family in Chesterville, just outside of Ottawa-Carleton. While there were indications of some family problems, the Deightons were private people who kept things to themselves. But Sheila Deighton lost both a husband and her firstborn son to schizophrenia; one killed the other in the family home. At the time, neither had been diagnosed with the disease although both had tried to access help.

Mr Deighton, who killed his son in a delusional state, had had a 26-year history of mental illness. He had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication by the family physician once earlier on, but stopped taking it because of side-effects. Their son Al had a serious suicide attempt in his late teens but refused treatment at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. He was not involuntarily admitted because he did not satisfy the test. Months later, when he finally did agree to treatment, he was not admitted because there was no space available at the time.

That's when things began to escalate in the family home and the tension began to build as the troubled relationship between father and son became unbearable, leading to a confrontation that resulted in the fatal shooting. Mr Deighton spent four and a half months in the Cornwall Jail until he was admitted to a psychiatric facility where for the first time he got the treatment that he so desperately needed. When he became fit to stand trial, he was found not criminally responsible for the death of his son.

Sheila Deighton is a remarkable woman. She has stuck by her husband and family and they have finally been able to access resources for the whole family. They are all working very hard to be reunited. The tragedy is that it had to take a tragedy to access the resources they so desperately needed.

I believe we must find a way as a society to balance the rights of persons to make their own decisions while recognizing that persons also have the right to be treated by the mental health system when they are not capable of making that decision for themselves. The proposed amendments in my bill continue to respect the rights of individuals while giving appropriate scope to the physician to make an application for a psychiatric assessment of the person.

I have received expressions of support for this bill from many persons, most notably the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, representing 2,000 members. The president of that society, Selena Volpatti, is in the gallery with us today, as is Dr Russel Fleming, chief psychiatrist from Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre. Ms Volpatti wrote to me after I introduced my bill two and a half weeks ago:

"Thank you for your support of our cause. Due to the incidence of schizophrenia, at any one point in time, there are over 48,000 people in Ontario suffering from an acute episode of schizophrenia. Your bill can help decrease that suffering."

There is also a need to look at how we can provide continuing community treatment upon discharge. Although some provinces have attempted to accommodate such a provision in their mental health legislation, this goes beyond the scope of this particular bill. However, given the disproportionate number of hospital-day stays for this disease as compared with others, this private member's bill should be viewed as a necessary first step to address the very serious consequences for severely mentally ill persons and their families when they cannot access treatment. I trust that my colleagues on all sides of the House will agree with me and support this bill.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The issues that the member has raised in discussing his bill are indeed serious ones and all of us know of tragedies, some within our own families, within our own communities, that have occurred with people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness who have become a danger to themselves or others.

In making my comments, I want to be very clear that I know from personal experience how wrenching it can be for a family whose major goal in life is to protect someone who is unable to look after themselves or unwilling to take medication that would help that. I know how tragic that is and I know the consequences are often tragedies for others who are not even involved.

We already have an act that gives us an ability to involuntarily institutionalize people who are a danger to themselves or others. What the member is proposing is a loosening of those criteria, which I respectfully submit would not guarantee treatment, which is what he is talking about.

We basically are looking at a situation in our society today where we are seeing the closure of institutions which normally would have been the place where involuntarily committed people would have been sent. The member himself says, "Yes, the person got a committal order, they were assessed, but there was no treatment available for them." That is only going to get worse. This government is in the process of restructuring hospitals. They have already restructured psychiatric facilities in Thunder Bay. We expect that to happen in the London-St Thomas area.

The reality is that all this member's bill would do would be to give the police an excuse to detain people. We have to be very careful when we have a situation where we cannot guarantee treatment, which I know is what the member wants and what the families want; when we really are looking at a situation where people who behave peculiarly are immediately looked upon as being possible mental patients and are being seen as a threat to others when in fact that may not be the case. You need a very high threshold in order to involuntarily incarcerate someone.

Part of our task today is to try to look at that other side and look at the rights issues. The member says constitutional rights are still protected. There is a real question about that. Certainly the ARCH group, the Parkdale Legal Clinic, the Canadian Mental Health Association are very concerned that this lower threshold the member is talking about would indeed infringe upon the rights. They are saying, "Let's have a further discussion of this." If this Legislature decides to pass second reading of this bill today, let's send it to the justice committee. Let's canvass all the viewpoints and look at the reality of the rights issues, the reality of whether or not this lower threshold would guarantee the treatment that this member wants to see.

I will say to you very frankly that one of the biggest issues for those who are trying to care for those who have schizophrenia in particular, but also other forms of delusional illness, is that there are very few community-based organizations in place to offer the kind of services that would allow people to access them without being incarcerated.

I'm going to be a bit provocative and read from Thomas Szasz, who has been considered to be a renegade psychiatrist in the United States but who has spent his entire career as a psychiatrist, working hard to prevent the involuntary incarceration of people in mental institutions. In his book The Second Sin, on page 88, Dr Szasz makes the following observations:

"It has long been popular to bewail and denounce the inhumanity of incarcerating sane men in madhouses. To incarcerate so-called insane men is, in this view, permissible, because for them the `hospitalization' is a form of medical treatment, unpleasant to be sure, but always necessary and often helpful.

"This view is wrong, and not only because there is no such thing as mental illness." This is a psychiatrist who talks about the myth of mental illness. "It is wrong also because it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the medical ethic. In medicine a dangerous or mutilating intervention is permitted, not so much because it helps the sick person recover from his illness as because he wants it. For example, a patient with a cancerous lung may have part of his lung removed. It would indeed be horrible if a surgeon did this to a person whose lung is perfectly healthy. But it would also be horrible if a surgeon did this to a cancerous patient against his will. For, in the final analysis, what makes a medical intervention morally permissible is not that it is therapeutic, but that it is something the patient wants. Similarly, what makes the quasi-medical intervention of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization morally impermissible is not that it is harmful, but that it is something the so-called patient does not want.

"Involuntary mental hospitalization is like slavery. Refining the standards for commitment is like prettifying the slave plantations."


This is an extreme view, and I would say that many of us would want to have a thorough discussion about the kinds of issues raised in Doctor Szasz's statement and the kinds of concerns raised by the legal clinics, raised by those who really are concerned about involuntary medical treatment of people against their will.

We just went through a very long process of talking about the health consent act. One of the provisions that was put in there, the so-called Ulysses clause, was an attempt to deal with some of the concerns of those who have been diagnosed as having a mental illness, as well as their families' concern, that when people are well enough to make decisions they can make a decision that, should they become ill again and refuse treatment, they have already given their permission for. I believe that is a very important clause, and it is one that should give us some comfort around some of the situations.

I also believe we should not completely dismiss out of hand the concerns the member for Ottawa Centre has raised. I believe this is an opportunity for us to canvass all the issues and to try to come to a solution that is going to be protective not only of those who suffer from mental conditions themselves but the rest of society. But to simply go ahead and lower this threshold in the way suggested without that thorough discussion, without being sure we are not damaging the very strong principle we have developed over years in this province that those who are treated by medical personnel are treated only with their consent -- I think we need to look very carefully at that, and I would urge the members that if it is the will of this House to pass this bill, that at the very least it be directed to the justice committee for a thorough discussion of the issues of these conflicting ethics.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I am pleased today to rise to enter into this debate with the member for Ottawa Centre. I must say, as have both members who have spoken so far, that this discussion touches all people. I think each of us knows a family affected by schizophrenia or we know someone who is touched by it.

In my particular riding I have a family with a young man who, as the member for Ottawa Centre said, works well in the community and is in the community, stays on his medication and is fine; he starts to think he's feeling okay and doesn't need to take his medication, and as he doesn't take his medication certain things start to happen to him.

His parents call me many times as he's living on the streets, living in garages, worried about him and unable to do something for him. I have sat with them, talked to them and shed tears with them, so I feel very strongly about this issue too, as I know my colleagues opposite do, and we need to do something about this issue. It breaks my heart to think about this, yet when I read this bill today I wonder how this is going to help them.

In the mental health legislation we've had a history of trying to put Band-Aids on things that aren't working within the system. We have a history that has plagued the governments before us. As you know, this legislation was introduced by the Liberal government, of which the member opposite was a cabinet minister at that time, and we tried to talk about this word "imminent" then. Along the road we have taken in reforming mental health, some mistakes have been made. I am the first to admit that, as I think many people in this House are. My members, especially Mr Vankoughnet and Mr Rollins, are very concerned about this issue. They want to do the right thing for families with schizophrenia and for mental health as a whole.

We've been working on mental health for a number of years. In 1983 the Heseltine report came out and suggested that we make a number of changes to mental health. It talked at that particular time -- in 1981 the Provincial Community Mental Health Committee, under the direction of Robert Graham, developed a framework for the delivery of a community mental health service in Ontario. In this report they made many recommendations that would coordinate and integrate mental health within our communities.

As the member from the third party has talked about, we have been downsizing institutions and trying to get people into the community, so we face a number of challenges. All three governments have been involved in this. We need to look very carefully at how we can put the mental health legislation we have on our records to meet the changing needs in mental health. Some of the things we have all talked about doing is putting more money into community mental health. We're all trying to do that, as I think mental health is a non-partisan issue in this House.

As I mentioned before, any changes we make to the Mental Health Act legislation have to be done cautiously. We have to get together, we have to talk to all groups affected by this. In this case, because we're sitting in January as opposed to coming back in March or April -- I'm sure there are things all of us would have done to make this legislation a little different and maybe more acceptable to us all.

Today as we vote -- and we're voting as a free vote on our side -- I want everyone to be aware that we're not voting against doing something to help schizophrenia in our community. But I am concerned about the way the bill is written; there are some things that really bother me. I'm not in any way saying that the member for Ottawa Centre has not done a good job on this, but if I were going to be doing this bill there are things I would want to add. I am very concerned that if we take this bill to committee today, we haven't touched some sections -- if we don't get unanimous agreement, I can't make changes to those.

It's my commitment today to say that I'm very concerned about this issue too, to the member for Ottawa Centre. This is an issue that all of us want to do something about and I think we should come together and do something about this.

I want to talk about some of the things that I think need to be changed in this bill and that have not been opened up for us to be able to discuss in committee. The member for Ottawa South would like to add the criterion "substantial mental or physical deterioration of a person is likely to be alleviated by treatment in a psychiatric facility" to the criteria to order a psychiatric assessment. The phrase "is likely to be alleviated by treatment in a psychiatric facility" is problematic, because the police and the justices of the peace usually do not have the expertise to determine whether treatment in a psychiatric facility will alleviate substantial mental or physical deterioration.

This problem is made more difficult when one considers that a physician, police officer or justice of the peace must form the opinion that alleviation of a substantial mental or physical deterioration is likely. Accordingly, this requirement may operate to prevent physicians, the police or a justice of the peace from seeking a person's examination or assessment where they do not have the expertise and/or enough information to form an opinion about the benefits of treatment or whether the benefits are likely.

In my discussions with caucus colleagues, the minister responsible for seniors, the Honourable Cam Jackson, pointed out that there is some potential here for the abuse of seniors, and I'm very concerned about this. A senior in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's may be found by police officers wandering around the streets, having had a temporary memory lapse, as we know happens in the introductory stages of Alzheimer's. The policeman at that point has to decide whether this person would benefit from being put into a psychiatric hospital. That's a very difficult decision for a policeman to make. If it were my mother and it was the introductory stages of Alzheimer's, I would like my mother to be brought home to familiar surroundings so that I could help in making some determination of what we would need to be able to help her. I think it's very important that we consider what we're asking here today our policemen and our justices of the peace to decide, and how we can better make this work for the families and friends of people with schizophrenia.


The word "imminent" in the Mental Health Act has caused concern for a great deal of time. I certainly am cognizant of that and I certainly want to do something about that. I think we could introduce a more comprehensive piece of legislation.

For instance, I think we need to have considerable debate. I know that we need to have it within our caucus here and probably within the other two caucuses and then as a three-caucus team, to talk about community treatment orders. These have been used in a number of areas in the United States and across Canada. What happens in this case is that they outline a particular course of treatment for a patient, who must comply with the orders or the psychiatrist can ask the patient to come in for an examination. If they refuse, the psychiatrist can order the person's apprehension for the purpose of an examination.

This section in the act has not been opened at all today under the member for Ottawa Centre's bill. I would like to come together once again to talk about these things with the schizophrenia society, with mental health, with some of our other groups to make this good legislation.

We have piecemealed this legislation for so long, let's spend a little longer and get this legislation right. The people who are suffering from this deserve our help on this issue.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Mr Patten's bill is an important effort to close a gap in the health care system. The Mental Health Act, as it stands, is impeding those who are in a position to help the dangerously mentally ill. The problem is that the interpretation of "danger" is too strict, and that means that desperately ill people get help only when they go to extremes of anti-social and criminal behaviour.

Apart from needless human suffering, the cost to society -- to its social, health and justice systems -- is much greater than if intervention has been allowed to occur earlier. In our desire to protect the rights of the individual, we hold that the only way to maintain those rights is by what people say. In our search for absolutes, we can overlook the subtle points of how those rights apply to certain people.

There are cases where an individual may not be in the position to state their needs in a simple way. Human beings are incredibly complex. Many people are unable to express their needs and feelings and rely upon the people who care for them and interpret their behaviours to understand the complex motivations behind them.

Teenagers at the height of their rebellion, when they seem to want nothing to do with us, need us more than ever. Why then do we accept an obviously disturbed person's actions as their preferred state when we can tell that they are in an agony that is even more expressive than words can say?

Some of our colleagues have said that street people have chosen to be there. "Chosen" is a hollow word when we realize that some 30% to 40% of street people suffer from schizophrenia and don't understand "choosing" the way we do. They are in the grip of an illness they certainly have not chosen and in circumstances no one would ever choose.

As Mr Patten has said, individuals have the right to be well. I think we can safely assume that the wish to be well and healthy is a universal desire. In the case of great suffering, some people might want to put an end to it all. However, in most cases, if relief from pain is offered, that is always the preferred option.

Should someone who is obviously suffering but has an illness that prevents him or her from asking for help be denied it just because they can't express their need for it in a simple way? I am thinking of the recent case of a Bowmanville man with a long history of paranoid schizophrenia who senselessly killed his elderly mother and six-year-old stepdaughter because he believed they were Satan. When his agitation was growing prior to the murders, I'm sure that those close to him had a sense of how dangerous the situation was getting but had no way to get help under the present system. The tragedy of a situation that could have been prevented is so sadly underlined by the man saying, as the police took him away, "I wish you would just shoot me."

Mr Patten has briefly stated and described other similar cases of tragedies that were allowed to overtake the lives of entirely blameless people, and the stories are incredibly sad because every one of them is a victim.

Only days ago, another man with a history of psychiatric problems tried to drive his Jeep into the Parliament Building in Ottawa. He was in despair over the murder of his nephew a couple of years ago. Although it is lucky that no one was hurt, he is now in jail, in the same cell block as his nephew's killers.

It is a well-known fact that the sooner the mentally ill person gets treatment, the better their prognosis. The better their prognosis, the more we all gain in resources that can be directed in encouraging the growth and health of our population, and in the health and wellbeing of those who can again become whole and contributing members of their families and their communities.

Some people have said that community support services should be the option of choice. I would argue that support of this bill does not preclude the need for those services or our support of them. However, realistically we know that not enough of these services exist to meet the current need. Until there are, and to serve those in immediate need, the option of institutional care must continue to exist.

Mr Patten's bill modifies the Mental Health Act in a subtle but important way, but does not in any way alter the safeguards of the system already in place. There are a great number of people who would say that the time for these changes is long overdue.

Let's use our common sense and do what's right for these people. It's time to do it. I believe we all agree that we want to do the right thing in dealing with this issue. Let us settle the issue once and for all. Let us send it through second reading and to the justice committee, as you propose. Let's discuss it, and let's find a solution which will be satisfactory to us all.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Unfortunately the amount of time we have to debate here in private members' hour doesn't give us as members the time we need to discuss a very complex issue. In the six minutes and 32 seconds I've got, I'm going to try as best I can to put forward my point of view, which is in opposition to this particular bill. I'm going to be very direct. I'm not going to mince words because I feel very strongly about this for a number of reasons.

As other members talked about earlier, many of us in our personal lives, in our family lives, have seen people who suffer from schizophrenia go through various bouts with the illness. There are ups and downs, and those downs can be pretty down. In my particular case, my own sister Louise has had schizophrenia for over 10 years. We've known the good times and we've known the bad times with Louise.

What we must never, never lose sight of is that Louise is an individual, is a human being who has rights. If we in this Legislature try to say that somehow or other we're uncomfortable with what happens with Louise when she's having her down times, that we want to give the police and others the right to take her off the street and put her into a psychiatric institution, I very much worry what that means for Louise.

I, for one, am not going to support a piece of legislation that would make it increasingly easy for the police officers in our society today to literally go out into the streets and start sweeping the people off the streets on the basis that they think they may be suffering through a bout of a delusional illness. I think it's very, very dangerous.

The issue is simply this: We have a policy that we set out back in the early 1970s. We said we were going to start depopulating psychiatric institutions, because there was a day when it was very easy to commit people, and that's what we did. We didn't want to deal with the problem so we put them into psychiatric institutions and we said: "If we put them out of sight, they're out of mind. It's something that we don't need to deal with."

Only through the policy and a very tough decision that was made by governments in the 1970s to start depopulating institutions did people start to come back into the community so that we in the community who were not very knowledgeable about what delusional illnesses were all about had to, as a community, start dealing with it. We had to start to put in place community supports so that people who came out of institutions had somewhere to go and had some form of support when they came out into the community.

The problem we have today is that there's not enough money to put into the supports in the community, so we're seeing it in a way that I think is disserving to some, especially in places like the city of Toronto, where you see a lot of people with schizophrenia and other delusional diseases who may be out on the street and people are looking for a way to be able to take them off the street.


So I say to the member, I understand what you're trying to do and I sympathize to a certain extent that you want to make sure people are not a danger to themselves, but the present law deals with it. For my own sister and others whom I've had to deal with inside my community who have had bouts where they've been down and they've had problems, there are presently provisions within the law that you can go to a justice of the peace and say, "I believe this particular individual is a danger to themselves or a danger to somebody else." If you're prepared as a family member to take that responsibility and go to the justice of the peace along with the patient's doctor, you can have that person committed for a period of time in order to properly deal with that particular episode. I and my family have had to do that, and it's not pleasant, but we need to take our responsibilities as family members to assist our family members, our loved ones, when they're having a difficult time.

If we allow Bill 111 to happen, I think we're taking families off the hook to a certain extent, because it's not pleasant for families to have to go to the JP and ask to have the form 1, 2 or 3, whatever the number is, signed in order to get that person into the psychiatric institution for a period of time. What we're doing is letting the families off the hook, in my belief, so that we would allow the police to go out and do our dirty work for us. I for one, as a New Democratic member of this assembly, don't want to put the police into that situation. I think a lot of police officers would feel uncomfortable, number one, with having that kind of power. Number two, who is going to judge? In the legislation that the member is proposing, we're talking about we would be able to put people into institutions if the physical or mental state is in deterioration. Who's to judge where that is? I'm certainly not prepared to give the police officer the right to judge just how bad a person is so that we may be able to commit them.

We have a system in place now that certainly can be improved. I have no difficulty with referring something off to a committee or with the Legislature itself dealing with a piece of legislation that tries to find some progressive ways of being able to deal with how we protect people in times of need. But to give the police that kind of power I think is really, really dangerous. It would set us back 20 or 30 years in the advances we've made over the past 20 or 30 years dealing with delusional illnesses in our society. Policies in order to deal with that in our communities would be set back a long, long way.

I simply say this: People like Louise and others are human beings. They live in our society and they have rights equal to, not greater and not lesser than, anybody else in this assembly or anybody else in our society. I think it is our responsibility as legislators to make sure we protect those rights, especially the rights of the minority. In this particular case, I think there might even be a majority of people in our society who may feel comfortable with a bill like Bill 111, but it's incumbent upon us as members of this assembly to say, "No, let's resist this."

There are presently laws in place that respect the individual and also respect society in making sure that if the person is a danger to themselves or a danger to society, there is a provision to be able to bring people into a psychiatric institution. But there's a time limit on that, for very good reasons, so that the person, when they get back on their medication and things start to clear up for them, can sign themselves out, and again, there are very good reasons why we do that as well.

I for one will not be supporting this legislation. Although I understand what the member for Ottawa Centre is trying to get at, I disagree with the way he's going about it. If you wanted to do something in order to respond to some of the needs of the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics, I'd be more than prepared to find some way to have an all-party committee to take a look at how we change the current act to be able to deal with some of the issues you talk about. But to do it under Bill 111, I think there are all kinds of problems in doing it this way, and the biggest problem in the end is that many people like Louise would end up at the wrong end of the stick on this particular piece of legislation and would be very much in danger of losing civil rights that we all enjoy in this province.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I have a few minutes this morning to make some comments on this particular issue, and I'd like to start off by going back in history a little bit to November 28, when we debated Bill 91 in this House.

Bill 91 was a private member's bill put forward by the member for York-Mackenzie that basically was asking for additional rights to be given to parents relative to health care for their under-aged children. It wasn't to be able to make decisions; it was just the right to be informed about both mental and physical health care issues about their under-aged children.

It was interesting at that point in time that the member who is now proposing this bill and all of his colleagues voted against giving parents those particular rights, and now today he's asking us to give additional rights to policemen, justices of the peace and general practitioners over complete strangers. He's asking that we give those people the unilateral power to decide that a complete stranger would benefit from confinement in a psychiatric institution.

I'm sure the member, when he has a chance to respond, will be able to clarify for me why he was against the rights of parents to have some input over health care issues for their minor children and he's in favour of complete strangers having absolute control over issues of confinement for people with mental health problems. I'm sure he'll be able to explain that.

The purpose of the bill, as he sets forward, is to ensure that people with a serious mental illness are not allowed to deteriorate while living in the community, but rather get the treatment when they need it, which is often when they are incapable of making informed decisions concerning their need for medication and hospital admission. Very, very admirable. I don't think any of us would argue with this particular purpose.

The thing I'm concerned about is that, to accomplish this purpose, he's asking us to approve that justices of the peace, police officers and general practitioners are given the power to determine that a person's condition is likely to be alleviated by treatment in a psychiatric facility.

I will agree to the fact that most general practitioners could make an informed evaluation. I do not believe that any justice of the peace or police officer has had the training to make that type of assessment. I also submit, based on those I've had an opportunity to talk to, that they do not want that responsibility to make the determination that a person they encounter would benefit from confinement in a psychiatric institution.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario division, has stated: "Our organization has grave concerns about the amendments to the Mental Health Act proposed in Bill 111; in particular, the removal of the word `imminent' and the addition of a third criterion to each of the sections mentioned." They talk about both of those things being a serious deprivation of a person's liberty.

There's no question that we have a very difficult issue we're dealing with. Unlike the member opposite in the third party, I do not have any firsthand experience with persons suffering from schizophrenia, but I know from other experiences that it is a very difficult issue.

What we are dealing with here is the balance between protecting somebody's rights, the rights of individuals to make their own decisions, as opposed to allowing a knowledgeable person to intercede or interfere in the best interests of the person who is temporarily unable to make their own decisions. If the current Mental Health Act has a failing, it certainly errs in favour of a person's individual rights.

If we decide to give expanded rights to complete strangers over somebody just because they're suffering from mental illness, we start down one of those famous slippery slopes, those slippery slopes that the official opposition are so much inclined to accuse us of starting down. I don't believe we should start down that slippery slope. I do believe we need to assess this whole area. I don't think these amendments to the Mental Health Act are the place to start. I think there are basic flaws in here and I'm appalled that we would say to complete strangers, with no training, that they have the ability now to make a determination that somebody would benefit from being confined to a mental institution, to a psychiatric institution. I can't imagine that we would want to start walking down that road.

Based on that, I believe the amendments proposed in this piece of legislation are not in keeping with what we believe as legislators. I don't believe they're in the best interests of the average person. I don't believe it is the place to start further discussions on this issue, and because of those reasons I will be voting against this particular bill.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's always an interesting opportunity to participate in what is private members' hour where ordinarily the political considerations, the partisan considerations, are pushed aside and members look at these matters in an independent way.

This is a very difficult issue to deal with. There's no question about it. There are significantly good arguments to be made on both sides of the general issue of who shall be in charge of determining whether a person requires psychiatric treatment and whether that treatment should be on a voluntary basis or on a compulsory basis.

Years ago the rights of psychiatric patients were clearly placed in legislation. In fact, the legislation was liberalized rather considerably over the years because of significant pressure which was placed on governments, which recognized that the rights of psychiatric patients years ago were not very great, did not predominate.

The pendulum swung considerably, if you will, to the left on this issue -- I don't know whether you can say "to the left" -- but towards liberalization and more rights for those individuals, to a point where there are many now in our society who are absolutely beside themselves when they see members of the family or friends or others in society who are genuinely hurt by the fact that they're not receiving psychiatric services and they're not going, of their own volition, to seek those services.

Those amendments to the Mental Health Act were made in good faith over the years. I wasn't always in favour, I might say, of some of those changes that were made, but I recognized they were in good faith and I recognized that there was a problem.

The support services that are there for schizophrenics in our society are clearly inadequate. I think it's safe to say -- and while some may misinterpret this, I do not mean it in a partisan sense; I mean it only in terms of what the government's general thrust is -- it's unlikely this government is going to place a lot of money or a lot of funding in additional services for schizophrenics. That is not what you're about, that's not what you were elected for. I'm not being at this point critical of that, but I think it's unlikely that's going to happen. You look at other alternatives then, as you people will in so many areas look to other alternatives which are not of a funding nature.

I think the member is reacting to many cases that are brought to our attention. I know people who have contacted my constituency office over the past 20 years and who have problems with members of the family. I know one woman who said her daughter would be dead within two years, and her daughter was dead within two years. I'm going to tell you, it was very frustrating not to be able to do anything about it, not to be able to require treatment for this daughter who clearly was damaging her own health, mental and physical, and was heading in a direction where eventually she would be dead. This woman pleaded with not only members of the Legislature and the federal Parliament but local people and the news media and so on. And there was the prediction. It was sad to see that prediction come true. That's what's facing these families. They don't hate the people in the family; they feel for those people.

Yes, they can be a disruptive force for an entire family. They can be, if you want, a nuisance to certain people in the family, and I know that's where some people would be a bit reluctant about this bill. But really, for the most part, I think overwhelmingly, it is for the mental health of those patients that the family feels and that others in society feel.

I'm glad the member has brought this forward. This is an issue that needs discussion. I would hope it would go to a committee and the concerns expressed by members would be voiced there. If any amendments or changes to the proposal are required, I think they can be done in the committee.


The Acting Speaker: Order. Excuse me. There are too many conversations. If you need a meeting, please remove yourselves from the chamber. It's disruptive to the Speaker, it's disruptive to the debater. We all want to hear the member for St Catharines's comments.

Mr Bradley: I simply appeal to the members to have this issue dealt with, because it has been brought to our attention so many times. There are people who are very much afraid of certain members of their family or friends who have psychiatric problems that could be of a violent nature. They are afraid because they could do damage to themselves, because they won't take their medication, because they won't seek the treatment that they require. I think this initiative allows us to deal with this issue in a very serious way, and for that reason I hope the Legislature will agree to have this bill go forward to the justice committee for further discussion.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I just want to comment briefly on the private member's bill that's before the House this morning. I've had many people come into my office raising this concern and I'm very pleased to see today that the issue is being raised. Maybe some members do not agree with the wording of the legislation, but the intent of what is being proposed is something we should be considering.

When I have people come to my office who have a family member and they really don't know what to do or how to handle them, it gives you great concern. I think that we have the opportunity to say a few words to put something in for the people, to bring this issue to light for some of these families that do need the help and assistance.

When I look at some of the categories within the bill and the ability to commit individuals to psychiatric facilities, how they do that, what the outcome of that will be and who's going to monitor it, it is a concern to us all. I think the availability is here today for some of us to say just briefly about the bill that's before us and I'm glad that the member has brought it forth for discussion.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre has two minutes to respond.

Mr Patten: I want to acknowledge first off the points made by all the members, the members for Carleton East and St Catharines in our party, the members for Cochrane South and London Centre and also for Huron, Chatham-Kent and Simcoe East.

I know this is an extremely sensitive issue. I also know there are many people who are suffering, many families that are suffering at this stage because they cannot get treatment. My sole intent with this bill is not to loosen the criteria, as the member for London Centre said; not at all. It does not add any new rights for anybody. It does not deal with police detention. That's a completely different issue. Police detention is another issue. Nothing has been changed in the procedures of how people are brought to a psychiatric facility. It's an attempt to enable, appropriately, to have criteria that address and come into focus with so many people who need treatment.

I would be the first to rise up and yell from the rafters if people's human rights were denied under something that I looked at and proposed. I would never want to do that. I pride myself on having fought many times for people's rights. I also think there's a right to treatment. We have many ill people, and one of the unique functions of that illness is that they do not recognize their need. It's not like a cancer patient; it's not like somebody who has diabetes. As soon as they have that disease, they know they need treatment and they welcome the opportunity to be treated in a facility or in a hospital or whatever is appropriate.


But I say to you that this is a very tough thing for many families. I am prepared to say I don't care what the drafting is; what I care about is, can we help those people out there now? While in some institutions they cannot get in immediately, I am told there still is some capacity. I have checked this out -- I wouldn't do this lightly -- and there is some capacity for treatment. In fact, the earlier we can treat people who really need it, the greater the likelihood that the treatment will be much shorter. The longer the duration of psychosis that goes on, especially for schizophrenics, the more difficult it is to treat and the longer it takes.

You have people now who pass the test because they're dangerous. Imagine living with a dangerous person in your family, or your neighbour or your partner in business or whatever it may be. It's a terrible thing. It's terrible for the individual who needs treatment and it's terrible for their family, their friends or their colleagues.

I say to you, whatever the wording should be, yes, I see adding a feature to appropriately allow us to treat people who need it. There will be many people who won't pass the test. It does not change the process or deny rights. It simply says it enables people to see that somebody indeed has deteriorated, and they take that person to a psych hospital for assessment. Sometimes, as happens now, they're not accepted, and I imagine in the future, if they do not pass the test, they would not be accepted. Not only that, checks and balances of the review board are very stringent. I have case after case of people who have come forward and said, "I could have helped that individual, but I couldn't make the case that they were immediately dangerous to someone else, and because of that they didn't get the treatment." Then two months later they harm someone else, and I guess there is the proof in the pudding that that person needed that kind of support.

The importance of earlier treatment -- and this is not a licence, it's not a slippery slope. I say to the member for Chatham-Kent, there are no new rights in this. If I follow the logic of your particular argument, then the doctors, the justices of the peace and the police should not even be in the picture.

I'd like to identify a reference in a letter from Dr Heather Milliken, a psychiatrist at the Royal Ottawa hospital, asking for an opinion related to this particular bill dealing with the importance of earlier treatment and the outcomes. She says: "The evidence is based on studies" --

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


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I move private member's notice of motion number 37:

That in the opinion of this House, the Common Sense Revolution is promoting practical ideas for improving efficiency and making government work better for the people it serves; therefore the House strongly urges the government of Ontario to support the removal of voice mail from every provincial government telephone paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member has 10 minutes.

Mr Murdoch: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak on this resolution. As you know, the 20th century is about to come to a close. The 20th century will be remembered for many of its advancements in technology that have made life easier and more enjoyable for all of us: inventions like the vehicle, the television, the computer and the telephone, just to name a few. But before we move ahead into the 21st century, I think it's necessary to take another look at the telephone.

Since its introduction, business people, politicians, friends and family have enjoyed the ability to talk to each other at the touch of a dial, and from almost anywhere in the world.

In the past, if you wanted to talk to someone in a provincial government office, you simply dialled the number. The receptionist would answer your call and direct you to the person you wanted to talk to. If that person wasn't in the office, the receptionist would take down a message and give it to that person when they returned, and they could phone you back.

However, this has all changed. A few years ago someone, who probably thought they were contributing to the advancement of the telephone, introduced the invention called voice mail. At the time the inventor probably thought he or she was doing a good thing. In fact, what they introduced was the death of telephone communications as we knew it.

Nowadays, if you want to get hold of someone in a provincial government office you dial a number and many things can happen.

First, you can be put into a telephone directory where the cold voice of a computer lists a number of confusing options. You are instructed to pick one of the options and press the corresponding number. If you miss one of the options, you have to wait until they are repeated. If the list of options doesn't include your question or concern, you have the option of blindly hitting a number and pleading your case with anyone who may answer.

Second, if you're lucky enough to reach the right person but they aren't at their phone or are on the phone, you're thrown into the voice mail system again. You're left with a choice of leaving a message that may never be answered or hanging up and calling again.

These are just two of the examples that I'm sure a number of legislators and their constituents are familiar with. The voice mail system is not designed to benefit the caller. It is designed to benefit the end user.

Let me just say that I am not totally against voice mail. I do use it after hours in my office. But during the day people deserve to speak to a human being. This is a policy in my office.

The resolution I have put forward is a lot different than my original resolution. The original draft was watered down so much that those who know me may have thought I was losing my touch. I have therefore decided to include the meat of my resolution in the form of another of the 20th century's greatest inventions, a top 10 list. Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce Bill Murdoch's top 10 reasons why the provincial government should pull the plug on voice mail:

(10) Rural and northern Ontario residents get whacked with long-distance charges every time they call Queen's Park. That's not fair.

(9) Voice mail promotes laziness. Even the most dedicated provincial employee is tempted to let a caller disappear into the voice mail abyss.

(8) If you are calling from a pay phone and get a voice mail you can kiss your quarter goodbye.

(7) After reports of my intention to recommend scrapping voice mail from all provincial government phones, my office was flooded with calls of support, all of which were politely answered by my staff and not a machine.

(6) A phone call to a provincial government office is a call to action, not a voice audition.

(5) Voice mail will change the course of history. Stevie Wonder will have to change the name of his Valentine's favourite to "I just called to say I love you, but I got your voice mail so we're through."

Viewers will be outraged when Steven Spielberg's re-releases ET because the poor little fellow phones home and gets voice mail, leaving him on earth to be dissected by evil scientists.

(4) If you have enough patience to listen to the message and press the right button, you may be told, "Sorry, mailbox full, please call again later."

(3) It's a big, fat waste of money. We will still have receptionists to answer the phone when callers hit zero.

(2) In the Common Sense Revolution the government promised practical ideas for making the government work better for the people it serves. Getting rid of voice mail would be a step in the right direction.

And the number one reason why the provincial government should pull the plug on voice mail: (1) The taxpayers of Ontario pay the salaries of all provincial civil servants, elected officials and their staff and therefore deserve to talk to a living, breathing human being when phoning a government office and not a machine.

For these reasons and many others, I'm strongly urging the House to support the removal of voice mail from every provincial government telephone paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario. The taxpayers are our customers and it's our job to listen. I don't know how anybody could disagree with this simple concept.

Voice mail should be left behind on the scrap heap of useless 20th-century inventions like the Rubik's cube, new Coke and spray-on hair. This is not a political issue. It's a matter of common sense. Let's get rid of voice mail before it's too late.


As a young boy growing up in Grey county, I was taught that if someone was taking the time to ask you a question, it is only polite to answer them right away. This simple lesson should be applied to the telephone. If the phone rings, answer it. Don't hide behind the wall of voice mail.

I look forward to hearing from the rest of my colleagues in the House talking about this but I see I still have three minutes and my notes have run out, so I can talk about why I'm so irritated. It's annoying and we don't need this voice mail. That's why we have receptionists. I don't believe there's a ministry in this House that doesn't have a receptionist working for them. As I said before, in my office we don't have voice mail. If you ring my office and all my staff are on the phones, it will bounce to the receptionist at northern development and mines. She will take a message and make sure that my people get the message and hope that they will phone.

If you aren't fortunate enough to have a ministry to answer it, we do have in all our offices --

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): We don't have that option.

Mr Murdoch: I understand that I'm hearing from some of my colleagues across the floor that they don't, but they do have a caucus office. I have been in your caucus office and you should have your phones bounced back to that caucus office. When we were in opposition, that's what happened in our offices. We didn't need the voice mail.

I was irritated about this but I hadn't decided to do something until one day I was sitting in a staff office, staff working for our party, not for me but for our party, and we were talking about -- I don't know what it was now we were talking about but it didn't matter, it was irrelevant. The phone rang and I said, "Aren't you going to answer the phone?" and they said, "No, no, voice mail will get it," and that bugged me. That's what happened and I decided then that we had to do something about that, because that person on the other line wanted an answer, they didn't want some voice mail, something that wouldn't answer.

Not only in the province do we need to get rid of it but I think businesses should get rid of it. I can tell you right now, Mr Speaker, that my radio station in Owen Sound probably has one of the worst voice mails I've ever heard. If you try to get a reporter on the weekend, the first thing you get when you ring in, they say, "If you know the number of reporter, please dial." How are you supposed to know all their numbers? Then they tell you to spell their name, and I want to tell you now, there we get into trouble.

Interjection: Then you are in trouble.

Mr Murdoch: Then we are in trouble, that's right. First of all, if you don't have your glasses on, you can't read the numbers on the dial to find where they are. Second, you have to make sure you know how to spell and not everybody can do that. Curling would be an easy name, or Smith, but you could get some names -- so when you start to spell the name, you get the voice mail back saying: "Sir, you obviously don't understand the system. Maybe you should hang up and try again." I'm telling you, business should be looking at this. I know if I was ordering something and I got voice mail, I certainly would be hanging up and going to a company that didn't use voice mail because it would be much more personal.

As I said, I'm going to look forward to hearing what the rest of my colleagues have to say and I hope you can support me in this bill.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I will now add the seriousness to this resolution. Mr Murdoch's resolution gives me an opportunity to talk about my concerns about how our commitment to public service has deteriorated. Our colleague's resolution also gives us the chance to debate whether the technologies we've adopted really serve the public.

I think everyone would agree that automated phone systems have become an annoyance.


The Acting Speaker: I'd like order in the House. Mr Morin has the floor and the rest of the conversations will have to move outside.

Mr Morin: Would you start the clock again, Mr Speaker? I'd just like to tell my colleague Mr Murdoch from the riding of Grey-Owen Sound that there is a serious aspect about your resolution and I'd like to speak to it.

I think everyone would agree that automated phone systems have become an annoyance. Something that was supposed to simplify our lives has instead created a science fiction nightmare of a depopulated planet controlled by robots.

Maybe I am exaggerating, but it certainly is true that calling any business or government office has become an obstacle course of multiple choices, none of which are quite right for your purposes. A warm hello and a straightforward answer are the exception rather than the rule these days. We are trimming down government operations in the name of efficiency. But what about effectiveness? Is saving money the only vision that guides your actions? Or is public service still something we can be proud to stand behind?

Although automated answering systems are an annoyance for everyone, they are especially an issue for seniors and other vulnerable people, like some in the disabled community. For people who were not raised with technology or those who are frustrated by complexities, there is much that is confusing and offputting when getting the runaround from a machine. Many simply give up.

I think we need to remember that regardless of economics, certain principles and basic rights apply, and these rights and principles are non-negotiable. We are in office by the grace of our electors, but our responsibility is to serve all the people of Ontario. Regardless of their situation, each of them has the right to a direct relationship with their government in whatever form serves them best.

I believe that politicians and bureaucrats are criticized in exact proportion to their indifference to the constituents they come in contact with. On each occasion that we in the public service treat a constituent with respect and courtesy, we improve the reputation of government as a whole.

As a former minister for seniors, I met with many wonderful and challenging and, yes, demanding seniors. As a minister without portfolio, I had little in the way of money to offer towards these projects. Nevertheless, they appreciated the interest, and I and others in my position showed to their concerns a great interest. My experience proved to me how important it is that the lines of communication remain open, both with interest groups and with individuals.

To raise a side issue but still a relevant one, it is my opinion that the previous government's decision to disband the office for seniors' issues was a real mistake. Advocacy is a big part of our work, but to really understand people's concerns, you have to get close to them and the office gave the signal that the government was listening. In its time the ministry, the 1-800 line, was receiving 15,000 calls a year and each call was dealt with personally.

Whatever reorganized system we finally end up with, we must be careful not to create a Fortress Ontario to defend us against the very people we are meant to serve. To understand things we've never experienced is almost impossible; to not even try is inexcusable.

The office for seniors issues offered a program that was incredibly valuable called Through Other Eyes. It allowed participants to experience at first hand some of the disabilities that seniors and others must live with every day. I must tell you going through the experience really opened my eyes. The frustrations of having to deal with your own limitations and then adding the frustration of dealing with a convoluted government information system would drive you right round the bend.

Listen to this: There was an idea a few years ago to simplify the organization of the blue pages so that people looking for government information could more easily find it: a simple idea, a good idea. The idea was killed because there was a fear that we wouldn't be able to meet the demand, that too many people would now know where to find us. What a thought.

This government is determined to see us as a business. Whether that approach is correct or not continues to be debated. However, if we accept the basic premise and conduct the business of government in a businesslike fashion, we must pay attention to customer service, and as one financial services giant says, "One customer at a time."

Mr Murdoch's resolution deserves our support as a way to let the people of Ontario know that the government of Ontario is open for business, and that means their business, once again.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I'm pleased to be able to have the opportunity to speak in favour of this motion, but I want to put it out for the record: I am not a Luddite. I need to put that clearly on the record. I think I'm known as the technological guy of the caucus who drives his staff crazy at all hours of the day and night with e-mail messages and all kinds of fancy-dancy little things that we can do on computers, but I've got to say that I agree with the member.

The big issue here is that often, not only within government but within the private sector, incoming lines where the public is trying to get hold of somebody for a particular service are greeted by a voice mail system. I'll just give you the example of a couple of situations I've had to experience over the last little while.

A constituent called me, I guess some time in January, and said, "I was trying to get hold of somebody in the Ministry of Education." It was a fairly serious complaint. The system they had there was not only voice mail; it was like a call-screening system so that when you call up the individual it says, "Who do you want to speak to?" and you press the particular number -- they give you a directory -- so you get to the person responsible for the particular complaint. Then when you get there you're supposed to leave a little message saying who you are and what your complaint is about.

This poor individual would call, I believe it was the Ministry of Education, and say, "I'm calling about this particular thing," and from the tone of his voice the person at the end figured out that this person obviously was somewhat upset. Needless to say, nobody ever answered the phone. Finally, what this guy did was, I said, "Call them up and say you're calling to congratulate them on a wonderful initiative," and bang, the phone was picked up right away. That's how they got on that one. So I've got to agree that sometimes those phone systems are used for the darndest things.

The other one I had was about two or three weeks ago, and this one drove me crazy. I was up in Timmins and there's a 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock flight on Monday mornings back into Toronto from Timmins. I was booked on the 10 o'clock and my constituency appointment was running later than normal; a particular individual had a problem. I needed to call in to Air Ontario to rebook my time so I could go back out at 11. They've just introduced this system where you call in and they say, "Welcome to Air Ontario; your call is important to us," and they went on to give me about 27 different choices of what I had to press to get what I wanted. By the time I actually figured out all the buttons I needed to press because the whole rigamarole was quite incomprehensible, I missed my flight. No kidding.

It took me 15 minutes to work my way through that one and one of them was, "If you know the flight you're on, please press in the flight number." Well, who knows what flight number they're on? You've got an open ticket is how we travel. I had to listen to all the different cities coming up and all the different times -- I'm telling you, it was more complicated than it needed to be. I ended up coming here at 2 instead of 11 o'clock.

The point I'm trying to make here is that I wish this motion could go further than just the government. We need to get into the private sector and give them a little bit of common sense. My God, some of that voice mail system is something. I think one of the worst ones I had --

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): You used the words "common sense."

Mr Bisson: They need a bit of common sense in the private sector, I'll tell you. The one I had that I thought was really ironic was the company I had that did the servicing of my computer network. I finally don't deal with them any more because I got so frustrated with their voice mail system.

One day we were having a printing problem. I called up and the voice mail said: "If you know the type of problem you have, please press one of the following options. If you have a networking problem, press 1. If you have a printing-faxing problem, press 2. If you have a computer problem, press 3." Was the printing problem because of the printer, the computer or the networking? I figured it was the printer and I'd press printer. I finally got to that and he says, "Oh, no, you've got to get the networking guy." Needless to say, they're not around any more. I thought it was kind of weird anyway for a computer company to be doing that.

I say to the member for Grey-Owen Sound, I support generally the motion you're bringing forward. I only want to put this one caveat. I think voice mail is a good tool, if properly used. I think voice mail is fine for within the bureaucracy. If I'm trying to get hold of your private line, the member for Grey-Owen Sound, and you're not around and I want to leave some detailed message, I would still like to have the ability to call up the member for Grey-Owen Sound, his own personal, private voice mail system, where I can say: "Hey, Bill, something's going on and here are the details. Would you get back to me."

Often staff are very pressed these days because there's very little of them around. For them to be able to get the information correctly to the individual sometimes is a problem. Voice mail is a useful tool if properly used, but I certainly suggest that the member's going in the right direction in saying we should eliminate voice mail from the face of the public. The interface between the public and the civil service, and the public and businesses should be: We reach a receptionist or we reach whoever the person is who is responsible, to take our inquiry. There's nothing more frustrating.

Did you ever try to call the family support plan line? That one takes the cake. Anybody got the number? We'll print it. If you want to see something that's in total disarray, never mind the system, call that number, that constituency help number they give us -- unbelievable. I've got constituents, I bet you have the same, who literally, for days, sit by the phone and ring and ring and keep on calling. They never get through.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): If you try to go in person, they bust you.

Mr Bisson: If you try to go in person, the Attorney General says, "I'm going to give you a charge of common assault." Maybe Peter should have been using the voice mail. It's quite the thing and I've literally got, as I'm sure you all do as members of this assembly, constituents who are trying to find out what's happened to their cheque from three months ago that they didn't get. They've got no money from the family support plan for the last three or four months. They're at their wits' end because they can't pay their bills and here they are trying to call into the system and they can't even get the stupid voice mail to activate itself because it never answers at the other end.

If you're going to start this, I hope the very first place we take the voice mail off is the family support plan lines. We need to put some human beings at the end of those ones.

I would just say, in the final minute I have -- because I know the member for Welland-Thorold, who has lots of experience with the family support lines, would like to speak to this issue -- that one of the realities is this government has laid off many employees within the civil service. I hope, if you're talking about getting rid of the voice mail system, it's going to mean we will have the bodies there to be able to answer those particular lines.

One of the reasons we're using voice mail is because there's not enough staff within the civil service. The government is trying to make itself more efficient, so the government tells us, because I've inquired about this before, and one of the ways it did that was lay off a whole bunch of people and it's using voice mail systems in a vengeance. The reality is that one of the reasons we have all this voice mail is the government has laid off most of the staff, in some ministries over 50% of the staff, like MNR and MTO; there are a lot fewer employees there to deal with inquiries.

The other thing I would say to the member for Grey-Owen Sound in closing is simply this: I really appreciate when I see a member on the other side decide to be a little bit the maverick within his own caucus, but I think, Bill, you've got to come out of the closet, you've got to go a little bit further. It's one thing to come forward with this motion to draw attention to an issue that's a thorn in the side, but we're looking for your support, Bill. This side of the House and the opposition is looking for your support in being the maverick you truly are on a number of particular pieces of legislation that I know for a fact you don't support. I hope to hear a little bit more about that later.

Mr Bob Wood (London South): I rise in my capacity as skunk at the garden party to give the Management Board point of view on this matter.


Mr Bob Wood: Being encouraged by this response, I'll sit down right now.

The Management Board agrees with the complaints that have been offered by members from all sides of the House, but we see the solution as not being to get rid of the technology, but to make the technology serve the people. We would like to point out that voice mail is essential to the productivity and cost-savings that the voters have made clear they expect us to deliver, along with good customer service.

We currently have over 25,000 voice mail boxes, used by individual government staff. Using voice mail, a typical government office with 200 staff and four receptionists could save more than $100,000 or 80% on message-taking costs. The cost of voice mail at $8 per line is only a small fraction of the cost of full-time receptionists, who often earn more than $30,000 a year plus benefits at the Ontario public service rates.

While voice mail is occasionally a nuisance, it can also reduce the cost of phone tag by allowing for detailed messages and responses, rather than second- and third-hand messages that can easily be garbled in transmission. There are also more than 400 audio text information mailboxes which provide prerecorded program information. Most of these provide toll-free service for long-distance callers. Technology also allows for the renewal over the phone of thousands of routine transactions and licences, saving taxpayers time and money.


The biggest criticism often made of automated communication systems is that they don't always have the kinds of human backup systems that may be necessary when our constituents' inquiries don't fit into a particular bureaucratic pigeonhole. Government is committed to improving its communication systems and, wherever possible, to ensuring there is a real, live human being available to back up the system when various forms of automation will not provide adequate service. In short, the Management Board believes, "If you can't fight 'em, join 'em."

The answer to the very legitimate concerns of the member for Grey-Owen Sound and others is to make voice mail work for the people. We understand that a good number of members may well vote for this resolution in frustration. We personally do not support it because we feel the answer is to make the system work for the people rather than getting rid of a system that can do a lot of good for all. We can provide better service at less cost, and surely that's the bottom line.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): The member for London South sounds to me like a voice mail from Management Board.

With regard to the private member's bill, the resolution that my colleague from Grey-Owen Sound has put forward, I just want to say to him, let's get to the root of it. Cutbacks hurt ordinary people, and the basis of it all is that maybe it is not voice mail that's causing the problem, but the cutbacks that are happening. I had hoped, of course, as they say, the maverick that he is, that he would come forward today with a resolution talking about the hospital cuts that are happening right in his riding, that are causing havoc in his own area.

In my constituency office in Scarborough North, I get about three or four calls per day, and sometimes I average about 20 calls, complaining about voice mail: that no one answers it, or leaving messages that are not returned. My colleague just mentioned the family support plan, now known as the Family Responsibility Office, that does not respond to anything anyhow; either the phone is busy, as he said, or, if you actually get through to a voice mail and are able to leave a message, no one returns the call. The bottom line is there is no one there to return the call. Cutbacks hurt.

The Trillium drug plan is another complaint I get. One constituent called to say that a number was busy so he used the Bell call return service, at a cost to him of about 50 cents to use it. You get that when the line is available. When he eventually got through, he went through the automated messages, but when he finally had the chance to transfer to an operator, the line was disconnected. Again, it doesn't work.

OSAP: that's the one that really floors you. These calls are about $2, as they are 1-900 numbers. That's $2 a shot. These are students who have been having cutbacks because of this government not putting enough money in education, so some students maybe go broke just trying to get through to OSAP. Eventually, when they get the money, I'm sure the money they get from OSAP will be paid towards Bell Canada for the $2 call.

MTHA, the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority: Forget that. They only answer the phone between 8:30 and 10, so the phone is always busy. When you get through, you get a call that tells you that the time you can call is between 8:30 and 10; the voice mail tells you that also. You get in touch with no one, no one whatsoever, because the voice mail is the one that blocks you.

The welfare office: Generally the voice mail service and the bureaucracy actually completely ignores people. Just try to get through to the welfare office. I haven't got the privilege like the member for Grey-Owen Sound, who flips his calls over to northern development, to the ministry. I would like to flip my calls over to colleges and universities and let some of those bureaucrats answer it, but again, they're cutting back on the bureaucrats.

The root of the problem is cutbacks, because as the voice mail from London South stated -- sorry, the member for London South stated -- basically the bottom line is the thing we should deal with. Forget about people; let's save some money. As a matter of fact, I am asking all the people from Scarborough North if they could move out of there so it could be easier for me to deal with people, because this government feels that is the best way to run a government: without people.

Mr Kormos: Bill Murdoch, the member for Grey-Owen Sound, has from time to time revealed himself to be a voice in the wilderness, in that vast Tory backbench wilderness, as he does today in raising this issue of voice mail. It was several weeks ago when the member approached me with his concept for this resolution and I said, "Billy, I'm with you." Because I thought, here we are, we've got a Tory backbencher prepared to drive a stake in the heart of this vampire of a government. But he tempers his resolution, because he's currying favour now. On the one hand, he wants to be a maverick, and I understand that. There's great pride to be had from standing up and speaking out, as Bill Murdoch has from time to time. I'm going to support this resolution because I told him I was and because the thrust of the resolution is sound. But he prefaces it by actually suggesting that the Common Sense Revolution is promoting practical ideas for improving efficiency and making government work better.

Billy, you didn't say that to the Minister of Education when he was fouling up the educational system up in Grey-Owen Sound, when you rejected that as anything akin to efficient or making government work better. Billy, you didn't say that when you criticized the process when they were going to shut down, and they are going to shut down, the jail up in your riding and terminate the jobs of those hardworking correctional officers, and in so many other private conversations we've had, member for Grey-Owen Sound, and we'll keep them private. I wouldn't want to jeopardize the member's stature in his caucus and in the eyes of his leader by speaking publicly about those many private conversations.

I'm proud to join with the member for Grey-Owen Sound. My colleague declared himself not to be a Luddite. I tell you, voice mail is a scam. Mr Wood here, with his defence of the ministry of government services, of Management Board, was passionate. We saw the sweat on his brow as his enthusiasm for his support of the government's position and the support of voice mail was mounting and rising, and the tone and tenor of his voice revealed in a way that might have embarrassed him a little bit the extreme passion with which he defended the government against this attack by its maverick backbencher.

I say Mr Murdoch's right. The problem is --

The Acting Speaker: I'd just like to remind the member for Welland-Thorold that it's parliamentary to refer to members by their riding names.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. You can call me Mr Kormos if you wish.

The member for Grey-Owen Sound omits comment on who's going to answer the phones. This government has destroyed the civil service in this province. They've terminated the jobs of thousands and thousands and thousands of hardworking civil servants who, yes, among other things used to answer phones and respond personally to people's problems. Mention has been made of the shutdown of eight regional offices of the family support plan and the termination of approximately 290 competent, hardworking staff people there who resolved issues when women and their kids had problems getting their FSP payments.

Mr Murdoch is right: Voice mail is an irritant. It's frustrating. Quite frankly, it's accessible only when you have push-button phones. The reality is that with the growing poverty in this province, especially among seniors, among the disabled, more and more people are going to be disinclined to pay that usurious surcharge that Bell and their mob impose for having push-button, touch-tone phones.


As well, we've got to be careful because this government has become very selective about whom it listens to. We've heard mention of the way in which callers are screened. Mention was made to me by a number of members of the public about the fact that for some people voice mail gives them an opportunity to not perhaps be screened out of the picture by a partisan receptionist. There should perhaps be an option. People should be entitled to choose whether they want to talk to a real, live person or whether they want to enjoy the anonymity of the machinery.

I'm interested in seeing how the vote breaks down on this. If Mr Murdoch's resolution passes, I expect every member of his caucus who supported it to be unending in their efforts to ensure that Premier Harris and his cabinet -- the real test here is not whether the resolution passes, but whether Mike Harris listens. Or does he, as with megacity, prefer to turn away and ignore the plea of the people and of elected representatives?

Mr Murdoch, member for Grey-Owen Sound, I wish you well in this effort. I look forward to you getting the keys to the executive washroom, along with the keys to a Chevy Impala and a driver, as you join the members of your caucus who are blessed with cabinet positions. Lord knows, you'd be one heck of an Attorney General, one in whom I'd have far more confidence than the current Attorney General. I'm going to support this resolution. I hope others do too.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure today to stand to participate in the resolution by Mr Murdoch, the member for Grey-Owen Sound. I'll share my time with the other members. I know I'm interfering, but I just wanted to commend the member for Grey-Owen Sound for a great speech in support of the non-use of voice mail systems.

It might be interesting if members realize that last night on the CBC Joe Schlesinger commented, and there was quite an extensive report, on the resurgence of opposition to voice mail, not just in the government, but also in the private sector.

Just one comment: I think people in government are working there to serve people, and when people call, generally, they have something they're calling about. They're usually upset or concerned or looking for a service. The last thing they need is somebody with voice mail to give them the runaround. I'll be supporting the member's resolution this morning and look forward to hearing other comments.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'm pleased to rise today to speak to this resolution put forward by the independent-thinking member for Grey-Owen Sound. I find that this resolution is very interesting, if not curious, primarily because of its wording and the conundrum it creates. The conundrum lies in the fact that this resolution should really be split into two: one which I find very compelling and the other which I find quite offensive.

The section which I can't support in principle or in intent, or any other way, is the section which claims, "That in the opinion of this House, the Common Sense Revolution is promoting practical ideas for improving efficiency and making government work better for the people it serves." Tell that to the mothers and children who continue to suffer through the family support plan. Tell that to those people who are waiting for heart surgery, who are trying to get a bed so that they can be serviced properly with a health care system that cares.

Tell that to the students who are in the gallery today or the students in Grey-Owen Sound who are concerned about their education. In fact, the member is quite concerned about their education as well. Tell that to the people in Sudbury or in Grey-Owen Sound who have found that their hospitals have been closed. Tell that to the people who are occupying the presidents' offices at the University of Toronto and York. Tell them that this is a government that is promoting better ideas for better service.

That's only one side of the coin. The other side is that there is of course very good reason for supporting this resolution, that is, the section that proposes to remove voice mail from every provincial government telephone paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario: This would give the government the chance to restore some of the many public service jobs which it cut in the past year and a half.

If we could get rid of voice mail, then perhaps we could restore some of the people to the family support plan offices in Sudbury and the other seven regions that were closed. As a result, the women and children of my community and all over Ontario could finally get some answers when they try to call the ministry and could actually start receiving their money.

We could also restore some of the citizens in other ministries, citizens who, when they had their jobs, were taxpayers, contributing to provincial programs as well as strengthening local businesses and local economies as they spent their earnings, instead of being targeted as surplus or redundant by this government. We could restore some of the 83 individuals cut from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines whom the independent-thinking parliamentary assistant is so concerned about; or the whopping 1,820 people who have lost their jobs in the Ministry of Environment and Energy; cuts which have left these ministries without strategies or directions, which have abandoned the north and the rest of Ontario and left future generations to deal with the outcomes of this lost investment.

If getting rid of voice mail in government means putting people back to work and is a means of ending the government's automated, churned-out, push-button approach to governing, which shows no regard for the real citizens of this province and the real effects that cutbacks are having on their lives, then please let's get rid of voice mail. Let's start listening to Ontarians and let's start hearing the many ways that programs this government is doing, this group of 82, are hurting the people of Ontario, are out of touch with the people of Ontario.

The independent-thinking member for Grey-Owen Sound will have my support on this resolution because I know he's independent enough to know that he wants jobs restored. He doesn't follow the government line: the Common Sense Revolution. He wants, as we in the opposition want, an Ontario that cares for Ontarians, an Ontario that has compassion, that has fairness, that has balance, that has justice.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): It's a pleasure for me to rise and speak on my colleague from Grey-Owen Sound's resolution, which directs the government to remove voice mail from every provincial government telephone paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario. I personally thank the member for Grey-Owen Sound for finally voicing the thoughts and grumblings echoed quietly in the hollowed halls of government offices and constituents' homes.

I have heard the telephone receivers in my offices being slammed firmly into their cradles, followed by impolite words of disappointment from my staff members when they call government offices. In the process of performing their required job tasks, my staff often find themselves needing assistance from a ministry office only to find they're halted by a recorded telephone message saying the person being called is unable to take the call at this time. The message never says at what time they will be able to take the call.

Following the procedure of leaving a voice mail can feel like sending a message into the outer realms of the universe. The response time to this electronic communication usually tends to confirm this out-of-Earth experience.

Not only do I and my staff find voice mail an annoyance, but we also receive many complaints from constituents who hit the so-called brick wall of communication when they phone a government office. We did promise to cut the red tape in our 1995 campaign and we did promise a smaller government. Those promises we are actively now working on. I'm just wondering if in our zest to cut the red tape we may have cut the communication lines under the tape and if in our zest for a smaller government we have shrunk the mantle of service to the people of Ontario.


The taxpayers of this province are paying for a service, and I use the word "service" cautiously, which offers little or no service at all. The only people voice mail services are the people who use the telephone system to screen their calls. Voice mail can be a useful tool in allowing someone to leave a message after hours. Unfortunately, it is not being used as intended. Instead of being used as an instrument of assistance, it is being used to block access to assistance.

Just this week, my staff member called seven numbers in a ministry office, and of those seven numbers she never did get anybody to talk to, only voice mail. We find that unacceptable, the constituents find it unacceptable and that's why I believe this resolution is before us today. I think you could call the workers in that office selective in who they wanted to talk to. They misuse the voice mail to select the job they feel like doing.

This work habit is neither practical nor efficient. It is certainly not making government work better for the people it serves. Perhaps in this age of technology and communication which allows us to view Jupiter and talk to space travellers we have lost touch with our own government office community and the constituents we work for. There's nothing any more inconvenient than calling and getting voice mail.

I'll give you an experience that I had in my own riding. The private sector should be made aware of this and I understand that there are some in the private sector who have done away with voice mail and their business has substantially increased because of that. I had the occasion on a Saturday morning -- I'm not sure what I wanted -- to phone a business to find out if they had the product I was looking for. I got voice mail. I phoned another business. Somebody answered the phone and I asked them if they had what I was wanting. They had it and I went and purchased the product at that store. So I say to those businesses that have voice mail, if you think it's to your advantage, I'm telling you today it's to your disadvantage.

The problems we have in government, when my staff call to try and solve complaints, it doesn't matter what ministry it is, they seem to be getting the same voice mail. I say to you today, to those people in those offices, that voice mail is there for a purpose. It will never be done away with, in my opinion, but I think that you've got to accept that we've got to make it work a lot better. I do not have voice mail in any of the three offices I have. When you phone my offices, you get to talk to an individual. That's the way I want it and that's the way my constituents want it.

It's confusing, and to us we find it unacceptable, to call a ministry office and continually not get to speak to the individual we want. As I said, earlier this week one of my staff called a ministry office, seven different lines, and got a voice mail on every one. The people of this province do not accept that; neither do I. I commend the member for Grey-Owen Sound for bringing this resolution forward today.

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I support the resolution to remove voice mail from provincial government phones. Voice mail is the bureaucrat's best weapon in the battle against public service: voice mail, the inhuman response to citizens with problems; voice mail, not the efficient administrative procedure but a bureaucratic put-off and put-down to those in need. The proliferation of voice mail in the government is a clear indication that bureaucrats are interested in anything but talking to those who pay them and whom they supposedly serve.

The use of voice mail dates back far beyond our present government. I have many constituents who require assistance from the government: single moms who have been evicted, disabled who have a question about a government program, seniors inquiring about drugs. They call me because after repeated calls to the bureaucrats all they get is voice mail. The trouble is that my office makes the same calls and gets the same voice mail. So there are half a dozen unanswered calls from my distressed constituent and probably 10 unanswered calls from my angry staff. I am certain that these same bureaucrats claim that they are so busy because their voice mail has 16 calls. Yes, 16 calls one way, all about the same problem. I can't say that's efficient and I can't say that's customer service.

Commercial voice mail was introduced in 1980. It's a multibillion-dollar industry that has an annual growth rate of over 20%. The impersonal world of government bureaucracy has been rejuvenated by voice mail. Voice mail has become the nirvana of those who practise procrastination, doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away. Government bureaucracies are champions of index-finger development: Keep dialling, keep following those instructions and maybe you'll get through. Calling a government office is like buying a lottery ticket -- you may just win. Hope springs eternal.

The voice mail industry has developed an entire body of knowledge around answers that are typical when voice mail kicks in. These multiple-choice questions that the machine asks are difficult and nearly impossible for my constituents, many of whom are ethnically diverse with too poor a grasp of English to understand all the instructions. It's not fair for anyone to be taken down the garden path of a voice mail inquiry, only to have to repeat the procedure because you got on the wrong submenu or branch. "Please hang up and try your call again" -- these eight precious words are what you hear after spending five minutes listening to a voice mail directory or pressing buttons to answer many questions about the nature of your call.

Voice mail is the ultimate government bureaucratic tool. It covers for smoke breaks, arriving too late, leaving too early or those long coffee breaks. That's wrong. Bureaucrats are not doing their jobs and are hiding behind voice mail. Good government is not voice mail government. People expect an answer. People want to be treated with respect and they don't want to talk to a machine.

No one would contemplate talking to a machine to order a McDonald's hamburger. One of the biggest promoters of voice mail, Bell Telephone, has real people talking on their customer service lines. Service companies and all successful companies must provide a service and voice mail is not that.

Where would FedEx be if they used voice mail? In fact, the president of FedEx, Fred Smith, answers his own phone, and many top executives do the same to maintain contact with the people in the marketplace. Companies that service and care provide real people to talk to real people. Order a pizza, book a hotel, call a cab, call my office, you talk to real humans. Call the government and you start a voice mail journey.

North York Mayor Mel Lastman dislikes voice mail so much, he banned it in his office. He got calls from around the world, from as far away as Australia. He got overwhelming support for the idea.

Voice mail contradicts the basic rules of customer service. It treats people like nothing. It shows no respect for their time and their needs. It ignores compassion. It depersonalizes. It delays charity and help to all but the unrelenting. Voice mail's a personal attack on seniors, the young, the disabled and the most vulnerable. It has no heart, and I deplore that.

Make people responsible for their jobs. Don't trap people in voice mail jail.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I'd just like to rise to compliment my good friend the member for Grey-Owen Sound on an excellent initiative designed to help push forward good government public policy, to help push forward customer service. I know there's a growing number in the public who are very concerned about this issue and I commend him for bringing forward this resolution.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound has two minutes.

Mr Murdoch: I would like to thank all the members who spoke here today in support of it: the members for Ottawa East, Cochrane South -- and we may mention something about the member for Cochrane South. He mentioned that I was a maverick. I don't know, maybe that's what he thinks, but I like to think that I'm just a member like everyone else and I bring the truth to this House that my constituents want me to bring here. Regardless of whether it's party policy or not, I represent my constituents. I just want to remind the member for Cochrane South of that.

Also, the members for Welland-Thorold, Scarborough East, Scarborough North -- Scarborough is certainly out here today helping me out -- and Simcoe East, and certainly my member for Sudbury, we have lots of good discussions. I also want to mention the member for London South. I know it was quite a speech when he mentioned that he was the skunk in the House. I do get that scent coming from you, that you weren't too interested in speaking today. I know what you have to do sometimes as a parliamentary assistant and I appreciate the fact that you're here.

I also have a letter I'd like to read into the House that was sent to me. It says: "Dear Bill: I am sorry I cannot join the voice mail debate tomorrow due to a prior commitment at my constituency office. However, I want to tell you in no uncertain terms that I strongly support your resolution. My constituents in rural eastern Ontario are increasingly fed up with what I call `voice mail hell.'" That's from Sean Conway.

It's unfortunate some other members weren't here to speak on this. But again, I want to tell you that after hours it's okay, but during working hours people have to learn to answer that phone. It needs to be answered because people out there want to talk to real people. That's the only way we can solve some of the problems and get solutions that we need to help us in these times that we're in. If they don't answer that phone, then I don't think they should be working for us. That's what the phones are there for. The phones are there for communication, not the voice mail. I don't mind it after hours because there's no one there. At least the people know that when some voice mail comes on and says, "Sorry, these are the office hours."

I'm pleased with all the support we've had here today and hopefully the government will listen to us.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal first with ballot item number 63.

If there are any members who are against a vote at this time, they will please rise.

Mr Patten has moved second reading of Bill 111. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Mr Speaker, I'd like to refer the bill to the justice committee.

The Acting Speaker: Is the majority of the House in favour of the member's request to send the bill to the justice committee? Is it agreed?

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing. You may take your seats. A majority of the House is in favour.

The bill stands referred to the justice committee.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will now deal with ballot item number 64.

If there any members who are against taking a vote on this at this time, they will please rise.

Mr Murdoch has moved ballot item number 64. Is it the wish of the House that the resolution carry?

I declare it carried.

It being 12 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1204 to 1330.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On February 3, the council of Terrace Bay passed the following resolution:

"Be it resolved that the Thunder Bay District League enter into negotiations with the province of Manitoba with a view to having northwestern Ontario become a part of Manitoba...."

In his letter of explanation, Reeve Ziegler says, "Council has become increasingly concerned about measures taken by the government of Ontario without consideration for the costs incurred by northwestern Ontario municipalities in their operations."

He goes on, "The failure of the provincial government to recognize that we have different needs...has resulted in the removal of tax dollars from our residents and communities for...necessities...removal of tax dollars from the north that have been generated from northern businesses, industries and residents."

Premier, are you not concerned that a municipality in Ontario would want to leave this great province? Could it be that the direction you and your government are going in is incorrect? Municipalities from all across the province are beginning to see what it will cost them after your dumping exercise. The reeve of Terrace Bay has pleaded with you and this government to change direction. Let's hope that the actions of Terrace Bay are not a sign of things to come in this province. Reeve Ziegler wants you to listen. Call him, please.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Mr Speaker, as you know, we're having hearings on the abominable Bill 103, an act to extirpate local government here in Metropolitan Toronto.

What you have noticed, no doubt, is quite a number of people who have come in front of this committee who are very passionate, who have been very effective in their presentations and very well researched and have come to tell the members of that Conservative Party sitting on the opposite side of where we're at that what this government is doing with Bill 103 is fundamentally wrong. They are giving evidence, testimony, as to why local government works best and why in altering that it would affect fundamental values that are important to them.

They have said that there has been no evidence whatsoever to suggest that getting rid of local government is the better way to go, that all the researchers who have looked at this matter have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there are no economic savings and that it alters fundamentally the values that people strongly support. Professor Sancton and Professor Kitchen, and Mr Cox from the US as well, state that.

The bill is fundamentally flawed and it cannot be amended or reformed. So even though M. Leach might amend that act that speaks about the power of trustees, I am not certain that is going to satisfy us, because the bill is the thing that's got to go.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph) : Start with ice. Pebbled ice. Add brooms, stones, a skip, sweepers, and follow the action. Of course, I'm talking about curling. The noble sport of Scots was first introduced in Canada in 1760 by the 78th Fraser Highland Regiment soldiers.

Last week, the city of Guelph and the Guelph Curling Club played host to the Nokia Cup, the Ontario men's curling championship. The history of our Guelph club dates back to 1838, shortly after John Galt chopped down the first tree. Curling was played on Allan's Dam, Goldie's Dam, or wherever ice could be found.

The Nokia Cup brought together the finest curlers in Canada, names like Werenich, Howard and Middaugh, and more than 18,000 fans visited Guelph to watch these living legends play. The championship game last Sunday was exciting. Two-time world championship winner Ed Werenich played against Middaugh, and the two teams battled back and forth until Middaugh was finally overcome in the end and Werenich won 7-6.

The Nokia Cup is over, but the memories created in Guelph as the host city will last for a long time. We would like to congratulate Ed Werenich and wish him luck with his team in the Canadian Brier. We look forward to having the Nokia Cup and all the curling fans back to Guelph.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): An interesting missive made its appearance in the media rooms of Queen's Park today. It's a press release outlining the Minister of Education's tribute to teachers and staff in education.

February 9 to 15 is Teacher-Staff Appreciation Week in Canada. I guess the minister or somebody on his staff felt that due recognition of that fact should be made before the week is out.

The press release states, "During Teacher-Staff Appreciation Week, it's important to say `Thank you, we appreciate your service in education.'" All of us who believe in the importance of education and who understand the impact on the lives of young people of teachers and of staff in education do appreciate the work that's done and the dedication that is brought to that work.

Why is it that these words, delivered by way of a quietly dropped pro forma press release, ring so hollow coming from this minister?

Maybe it's because teachers and other staff don't believe this minister really appreciates their work and their dedication. How can teachers feel appreciated when the minister is doing his best to convince people that the system is broken, that our students are doing so badly that we have a crisis that needs radical change in response?

No wonder, as the press release says, that teachers and education staff are carrying out their work in an environment of change. How is bringing in legislation that advocates privatizing, outsourcing what other staff do, showing appreciation for educational staff?

What about the guidance teachers and the librarians and the custodial staff and the bus drivers and the teacher support staff, all of whom are targeted by this minister for cutting? Where is the appreciation for them? Actions speak louder than words.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I would ask the members to keep their conversations as quiet as possible so that I can hear.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Last night I attended two meetings on megacity, one of which was in East York. Attending that meeting was Mr John Parker, who represents York East, and the Honourable Dave Johnson, who represents Don Mills. There were about 300 people in that crowd. I have to tell you that what unfolded was pretty sad.

I have attended a lot of megacity meetings now and I have seen a lot of anger and a lot of concern and a lot of the mood to fight back, but I haven't seen before what I saw last night. In this world of partisan politics you'd think I'd feel happy about it, but I don't.

I saw almost 300 people portraying hurt and a sense of betrayal time and time again, and deep anger at Mr Johnson for his role in this megacity. I think the Premier and the municipal affairs minister should be aware of what this misguided bill is doing to one of their most respected and honourable members.

Mr Johnson is a smart man. I know from listening to him that he cannot possibly believe some of the things he has to say himself about the so-called benefits of this megacity. I would ask this government, if for nobody else's sake, for one of their respected members' sake, to withdraw this bill.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am deeply saddened to rise in the House to honour the passing of a strong community leader and a great educator from my riding last week. The late Alta Whitfield symbolized all that is good in people. Her dedication to her community, to her students, to her family will always be cherished and never forgotten by the people she touched.

Alta was a very politically active individual. She was reeve of the township of North Monaghan for five years and served as Peterborough county councillor for eight years. She also served as the president of the Peterborough Progressive Conservative Riding Association.

Alta also knew the importance of serving your community by volunteering. She was chair of the VON, she was a key person in the creation of the hospital foundation, she served on Civic Hospital's board for some 20 years and was its chair, and was very active in Knox United Church.

She graduated from Peterborough teachers' college in the 1930s. She taught a family business course at Sir Sandford Fleming College in 1978, and in 1978 was the recipient of the college's fellowship in applied education. Alta strongly believed that you were never too old to continue your education.

On behalf of myself and all of my constituents in the Peterborough riding, I send my regrets and deepest condolences to the Whitfield family.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise today in the House to bring forward the issue of the closing of the Consumers Glass plant in the city of Hamilton in my riding of Hamilton East. The closing of this plant will affect 400 people. This company at one time was the largest glassmaker in the country with over 2,000 employees. As of May 7, the company will have shut its doors and 400 employees will be out of work. It is a tragedy for my community, it is a tragedy for the economy of Hamilton-Wentworth but, more important, it is a tragedy for 400 families who are going to be impacted by this loss.

It's said best by Ms Vuletic, 57 years old, one month short of her pension. She said: "Who's going to hire me at my age? My daughter's 24. She's home. She's got a college education. Who's going to hire me?" That outlines clearly the pain and suffering and difficulty that goes with a plant closure. This company over the years has struggled but has survived.

I stand today to ask the province of Ontario, the Premier and the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, along with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, to arrange a meeting with the owners of the company, with the union, and to see if there is any way some government intervention somehow by this provincial government jointly with the federal government will help either spread out the layoffs or, best of all, keep this plant operating.

It's a tragedy and I'm urging the provincial government to work together with the federal government to intervene and try to help these people of Hamilton and retain the 400 jobs they're going to lose.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): On January 15 I asked a question in this House of the Minister of Health. It was concerning the long waiting list for cardiac surgery in Sudbury, the place that people from my community go when they need that done. I said that in November 1995 there were 60 people on that waiting list. In November 1996 there were over 230, and that list is still growing. The minister, in response, said, "I'd be more than happy to indicate to the member opposite that I personally am taking a very active interest and I'm very concerned about this situation in Sudbury and right across the province."

Here we are, a month later, and nothing has been done. As a matter of fact, the situation gets worse. On the date that I asked the question of the minister, I talked of a loved one in the family who died. Last week two more people from Sault Ste Marie, two of my constituents, died because of the waiting list for heart surgery.

The waiting list has now gone from 230 to 250 and these people aren't dying because they have a heart that's not well. These people are dying because they're on a waiting list that is too long, that keeps them waiting too long and that creates complications and makes it really difficult for doctors to determine when a person goes from an elective surgery process to one that is of a more serious nature and on to an emergency list. Sometimes by the time they get on there they've had a number of heart attacks and they can't be cured.

Mr Speaker, will you ask the Minister of Health to look --

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


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Each year the city of Brampton recognizes outstanding citizens in our community. The Citizen of the Year is chosen by the Brampton Guardian newspaper from nominations submitted from citizens in our community. On behalf of my colleague from Brampton South, I want to congratulate Valerie Orr, who was named the 1996 Brampton Citizen of the Year.

The long-time community volunteer and former city councillor accepted this award last night. Her more than 27 years of voluntary and community service are too numerous to mention in a minute and a half, but here are just a couple of examples:

She served on various boards from 1972 to 1985, including the YM-YWCA, and was founder of Fish the Good Neighbour program. She worked door-to-door campaigns for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Salvation Army and the Cancer Society; organized the first free clothing trade; was a volunteer librarian and tutor; worked with children's aid; coached girls' softball for 12 years; was a member of the Optimist Club, the Zonta Club, on the board of directors of DARE and St John Ambulance; and, last but not least, was responsible for saving and organizing the Canada Day celebration committee when it was cut from the city budget several years ago. She continues to serve as chair to this day.

On behalf of the province of Ontario, I congratulate Valerie Orr, a truly remarkable individual, for her hard work and dedication to the city of Brampton.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Before we proceed to oral questions, it's now the time again when we have to say goodbye to our young pages. I believe they did an extremely good job, very energetic. Also, as a French-speaking member of Parliament, j'ai pu remarquer que quelques-uns d'entre eux s'expriment excessivement bien en français. Je vous félicite.

I want to wish you all the best, good luck, and in 20 years from now I want to see at least two or three of you in this House. The best of luck.



Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Mr Speaker, my question --

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Please take your seat, the member for Oriole.

Mr Hampton: Can you tell us how question period should proceed when half the cabinet is not here?

The Deputy Speaker: I wish I could help you. The member for Oriole. Start the clock again, please.

Mrs Caplan: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, you ignored all the advice of every single expert when you dumped the cost of welfare on municipal taxpayers. Yesterday, finally acknowledging the financial ruin that municipalities will face when there's an economic downturn, your colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs started talking about giving municipalities the power to set welfare rates.

Minister, certainly you know the lunacy of such a policy. Can you tell me: What is your position on allowing municipalities to set welfare rates in this province?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): First of all, we are not in the habit of acknowledging things that are not true. What we are doing under the Who Does What initiative in the social network, in the social area, is to build on what works very well. What works very well is a provincial and municipal partnership, and that's what we're talking about here. I said on the day of my announcement when I outlined what we were doing, and I continue to say, we need to have province-wide standards. Part of those province-wide standards are the rates.

Mrs Caplan: I will repeat to the minister again, and she must acknowledge in this House, that she has not accepted the advice of experts. She has rejected all of that advice and allowed municipal taxpayers to foot the bill for welfare, long-term care, public health.

My question to the minister: I would say to her I can already hear your future responses. "It's not our fault the municipalities are slashing rates and handing out bus tickets. It's not our fault the property taxpayers are resisting or targeting and vilifying the poor and disabled." Minister, dumping welfare on municipal taxpayers is wrong. Creating a mishmash of services and rates across this province will only make that mistake worse. You are not fixing the problem, and your entanglement is creating a hundred new problems.

I say to the minister, you are supposed to be the advocate for the poor and the vulnerable in the Harris government's cabinet. Stand up today and tell the Minister of Municipal Affairs he's wrong. Will you do your job and fight for the poor, the sick, the disabled --

The Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing does not need advice from me, but perhaps the honourable member could use a little bit of advice when she starts questioning the motives and the caring and the commitment of the municipalities out there. They haven't been slashing rates in the past; they are not going to be slashing rates in the future.

Mrs Caplan: They've never set rates.

Hon Mrs Ecker: We have said and they have agreed --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. It's only fair that if you've asked a question, you should wait for the answer and listen attentively so that you could prepare your supplementary. Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Ontarians do not want a mishmash of services; they want province-wide standards. There will be province-wide standards. That has been our commitment since we started this; it remains our commitment.


Mrs Caplan: I would remind the minister that everything she says is in Hansard and that she is differing greatly from what the municipalities are expecting as a result of the Minister of Municipal Affairs' comments.

In addition to the cost of welfare and seniors long-term care and other costs that you're dumping on municipal taxpayers is the cost of providing medication to the poor and disabled through the Ontario drug benefit plan. You will remember that your government has already imposed new user fees on the poor and disabled and on seniors.

Will you acknowledge that the poor are more likely to become ill because of poor nutrition and the lack of proper shelter, and given that the Minister of Municipal Affairs seems willing to give municipalities the power to set welfare rates, will you guarantee us today that municipalities will not be able to cut drug benefits or impose additional user fees on people in their communities?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member was not at the meeting that we had with AMO representatives yesterday. If she had been, she would realize that what she is saying is seriously in error.

Municipalities believe and support the fact that we need to have province-wide standards for our social service safety network in this province. They also want to participate. They've been participating now. They've been part of the system for something like 100 years. That's been one of the strengths of the system. They will continue to be participating in this system, as they should be.

We have a shared responsibility to those who are in need, we have a shared accountability to those who are in need, and we share the costs. We've ensured that the municipalities will have the financial strength they need to pay those costs.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Minister of Health. Quality health care services represent a fundamental value which all Ontarians would say defines them as being different from Americans. In other words, we in Canada have a different approach, a substantially and fundamentally different approach to health care from our American friends.

We found out earlier this week, and I drew to the attention of the House my concern, that a giant American health service company, Rural/Metro Corp, is moving into the ambulance service business in Ontario in a big way and is, according to its president, Bob DeShane, and I quote, "interested in being a significant player in the Ontario marketplace."

Americans have a far different view of health care than we Canadians, a fundamentally different approach. You will note that the Rural/Metro Corp president referred to the marketplace. Minister, are you not concerned that this powerful US firm is moving into Ontario and will bring a market-oriented, strictly business, profit-first approach to ambulance services in our province?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): What I'm concerned about is that we have the best possible health care for the people of Ontario.

I can assure you that the Ambulance Act hasn't changed. Through the Ambulance Act, the province of Ontario continues staff qualifications, for example, which haven't changed and which the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor. The licensing requirements haven't changed with regard to ambulances, and the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor that.

The ministry has been informed that this may happen, but we have not received official notification. I think the bottom line is that we are concerned about ensuring quality of health care. The ministry maintains, through the Ambulance Act, the ability to ensure that quality to the people of Ontario.

Mr Bradley: In western New York state, which I guess is the closest jurisdiction to compare, they charge a flat fee of $218 to open the door of the ambulance, to provide basic life support service. A patient must pay $350 for advanced life support, $5.45 per mile and $26.80 for oxygen, IV and so on. In Ontario, I believe the cost is $45.

As you download or dump on municipalities the cost of ambulance services, and these municipalities will be struggling to deal with so many other responsibilities you have thrust upon them, as well as their regular responsibilities, it is likely that many of them will simply turn to the American ambulance giant for service. Can you guarantee that patients will not have to get out their wallets before they get into the ambulance, will not have to pay up front, will not have the cost of ambulance service increased and will not have their ambulance service delisted by your government?

Hon David Johnson: There is a copayment, as members of this House will know, in terms of ambulance services; 1992 was the last time it was increased under the NDP government. It's $45. It's collected by the hospital. There'll be no change to that fee. Ambulance services are insured services under OHIP and there are no charges that can be levied for ambulance services, only that $45 copayment paid to the hospital. That is fixed at $45.

Mr Bradley: Again I say to the minister that one of the values that defines us as Canadians is our attitude towards health care. That's our belief: that the quality and access to excellent health care should not be dependent upon the size of a person's bank account or the amount of money in an individual's wallet.

Minister, you have tried to give us some assurance this afternoon, but how can we accept this assurance in light of the fact that your leader, the Premier of this province, said during the last election campaign, "Certainly I can guarantee you it's not my plan to close hospitals"? The people in Grimsby, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort Erie, Port Colborne and St Catharines, who have signed petitions, come out in the thousands in numbers, written letters and made telephone calls, do not believe that statement.

How can we believe your assurance this afternoon when your Premier clearly has not lived up to the obligation he made to the people of this province during the election campaign?

Hon David Johnson: I wonder if the member would believe me if I said what is important is not so much who delivers the service, but the result. Would you believe that? Because that statement was made by the former Minister of Health, the member for Oriole, the member sitting right beside you.

Our concern is for the quality. The Ministry of Health has the ability to control the quality through the Ambulance Act. The Ambulance Act has not changed. This ministry remains committed to high-quality ambulance services in Ontario.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Members of cabinet came out of the meeting with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario yesterday saying that municipalities would have some role in setting social assistance rates. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Al Leach said after the meeting that he doesn't know if social assistance rates will be higher or lower following negotiations with municipalities. He said everything is on the table when it comes to setting welfare rates.

To the Minister of Community and Social Services: You are creating a situation where one municipality will have an incentive to try to offload their social assistance caseload on to neighbouring municipalities. You are creating a situation where what will happen is a race to the bottom. Can you guarantee us there will be a provincial standard, and a provincial standard that will be enforced?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): We have always said that there will be provincial standards, and those provincial standards must be enforced.

Mr Hampton: Maybe the minister can explain this comment. A few weeks ago, Saturday, January 25, the Windsor Star printed an interview with your colleague the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. They asked him if municipalities will be encouraged to provide the least attractive social assistance package so the needy will wander up the road to the next municipality. Here is what the Minister of Finance answered:

"I think there are tremendous savings that could be had in that area. The city of Toronto tops up its social assistance payments considerably, so is it any wonder that they have a higher proportion of people on social assistance?"

From the sound of it, the finance minister agrees with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.


I want to ask you again: Are poor families in cities like Toronto or Cornwall going to lose emergency dental care for their children and cribs for their babies? Are these the standards you have in mind?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member is questioning the commitment and the caring of Metropolitan Toronto, which hasn't said anything about changing its standards. We have said that there will be province-wide standards. We have said that there will be municipal flexibility, as there is now in the system, and that is not going to change.

I would like to remind the honourable member that contrary to the record their government had, we have proved it is not only possible to take the welfare system and manage costs -- we've had over $1.3 billion in savings -- but it is also possible to get people off social assistance and back into the workforce, as we have done. That is certainly a track record that they were not even able to accomplish at all.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Throw more kids into poverty, that's your policy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Fort York, the member for Algoma, please.

Mr Hampton: I guess the Minister of Community and Social Services would call the increasing travesty of child poverty in Ontario "managing the social assistance caseload." I guess that's what she's referring to, because that is what is happening out there. More and more children in this province are being pushed into poverty, but this minister calls it managing the social assistance caseload.

What ground rules are you going to set when you start negotiating welfare rates with municipalities? How are you going to prevent the scenario where we can see rich and poor alike fleeing cities like Cornwall, where 11% of the population is dependent on general welfare assistance alone? How do you prevent that from happening and those folks heading to municipalities that are, frankly, wealthier? Tell us, please. If you're going to allow flexibility, if everything's on the table, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs said, how are we going to ensure that you're not shipping people from one municipality to the other and we're not beggaring --

The Deputy Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mrs Ecker: Despite the attempts from the honourable member across the way to confuse the issue, there are a few facts which I think he needs reminding of.

One, there will be a province-wide rate structure. We are not going to allow municipalities to be shipping people from one community to the other. If they wanted to do it, they could be doing it now because there is municipal discretion from municipality to municipality.

Second, we have fewer people on welfare, almost 200,000 fewer people on welfare, the majority of whom have gotten back into the workforce.

The member talks about the number of families and children trapped on welfare. What about the 33% increase in families trapped on welfare during your government's rule? The 22% increase? The 11% increase? During our administration we've had an 8% decrease in the number of families trapped on welfare.

Mr Hampton: When I hear the Comsoc minister speak it's as if a recession didn't happen. It's as if the federal government under Brian Mulroney didn't jack interest rates up through the roof.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. New question.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to ask the Attorney General about some child poverty questions. I want to ask him about Paulette Larose and her children in Sudbury. She is on family benefits and gets $150 off her FBA cheque each month. The family support plan says she is receiving the $150 that's taken off her FBA cheque; however, she's not. She has called the family support plan office many times to inquire and is told they will look into it, but they never get back to her.

Kathy Antel of Atikokan. She went from July until January before she received any money. In fact, even then she didn't receive all the money she's entitled to. She is still owed over $300 by the family support plan. She and her kids wonder what's happening to them.

Patty Tarzwell of Georgetown has two children: same situation. She is owed $2,800 by the family support plan for the last four months.

Your government says there's no problem in the family support plan. We keep getting cases that show there is more and more child poverty caused by your government. What's your answer?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): If the member will send me over the details, I will look into them. But we have distributed $37.5 million --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. A question has been asked.

Hon Mr Harnick: We distributed $37.5 million last month, more money than the plan has virtually ever distributed. We now do it within 24 to 36 hours. There are 140,000 of these orders, and I can tell you that the percentage of these that are now being answered quickly is greater than ever before.

Mr Speaker, I can tell you that when they were the government and they created this mess and people didn't get paid because they couldn't collect --


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold, the member for Riverdale, the member for Cochrane North, I would ask you to wait until the response is given, then prepare your questions and ask your questions. Minister.

Hon Mr Harnick: Mr Speaker, I can tell you that of the 140,000 orders, yes, there will always be cheques that come in late, there will always be payors who don't pay, there will always be employers who don't send the cheques in correctly. We are dealing with this. We are able to deal with it faster now than ever before. For them to make people think that this didn't happen when they were the government, that they didn't create this mess, is absolutely wrong.

Mr Hampton: We've heard this nonsense from the Attorney General before. This is the Attorney General who said there was this wonderful new plan back in August, this high-tech office, and what we found was chaos.

Sarah Rosswinter, Toronto, was awarded $3,000 in August 1996. It was paid by cheque to the family support plan. Now, in February, still no idea where the $3,000 disappeared to: into the family support plan.

Margaret Barbos, Blind River: A new order was issued. She has received one payment. She's still owed payments for November, December and January.

Marlene Provincial, Sudbury: Her case was registered in July 1996 and things began regularly until the Sudbury office was closed. Since then, payments have been totally irregular. She now has arrears of $550. The payor continues to pay and it continues to disappear in the family support plan.

Donna McConnol Lang, Echo Bay: November 23, 1996, she faxed the payor's place of employment. As soon as the payor found out, he changed his job. Ms Lang can't find out where he is working. Why isn't the FSP investigating the matter? They say nothing.

The Deputy Speaker: Question.

Mr Hampton: Sharon Fenwick of Welland: Payor is working --

The Deputy Speaker: No, it's too long. Either you ask a question or you don't. Question, please.

Mr Hampton: Once again, I could read pages and pages of these. What does the Attorney General have to say?

Hon Mr Harnick: I've reviewed the last number of these that have been given to me and I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that if you check out the facts, you'll find out that in almost all of them either the payor hasn't paid or the employer hasn't remitted or it has been remitted improperly.


The Deputy Speaker: I think it's only fair that the minister has the chance to answer his question. You ask a question --


The Deputy Speaker: No, no. You've asked a question. Listen to it.

Hon Mr Harnick: As I said, we distributed $37.5 million in payments in the month of January, more than has ever been distributed. When they ran the family support plan, 6% of callers got through. About 12 or 14 calls got answered in a day. Today, 50% of all callers get through to the plan. We now have an MPP hotline that deals with 144 cases a day. We resolve 144 cases a day through that.



The Deputy Speaker: If you ask a question to a minister, I think the only right thing to do is to listen to what he has to say. By shouting, you won't hear anything. I have trouble to hear myself.

Mr Hampton: I can assure you we'll be sharing this list with the media after the House and the media will be able to tell who is telling the truth here.

Walter Rowse of London: paying $2,000 a month. It was reduced to $1,500 a month in December, but the family support plan is still taking $2,000 a month from him.

Lise Barsalou, Sudbury: The income source provided to the family support plan an advance of $3,000 in order that Lise's payments would never fall behind. She's in arrears now by $600 from December. Why is her case in arrears when $3,000 was advanced?

Ron Guigue, Iroquois Falls: Mr Guigue wants to know --

The Deputy Speaker: No. Order. This is not a statement; it's question period. Ask your question. Otherwise, I'll just have to take it away from you. Question?

Mr Hampton: I could read the case of Ramona Reed of Toronto, Elizabeth Delong of London --

The Deputy Speaker: You know, I could tell you that you won't have your question any more, but I won't do that. But I know you will obey and you will ask your question immediately. There's no point in trying to play with the Chair; there's no reason for that. Ask your question; otherwise I will withdraw your question.

Mr Hampton: What does the Attorney General have to say about the eight other pages of cases, all of which either can't get their money or can't discover why their money has been lost by the family support plan? What does the Attorney General have to say --

The Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mr Harnick: As I indicated before, we had a few questions the other day much the same as this. We checked out those questions and found out that in each one of those cases, the family support plan had done exactly what it was supposed to do. Yesterday, the family support plan did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): You've had hundreds of questions, Charlie, and you lied about it.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold.

Hon Mr Harnick: It distributed $1.3 million to over 4,000 families. It answered 50% of the calls that came in, compared to when they ran the plan and 6% of call got answered. We're correcting their disaster and we're making it work for women and children.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. I would like you to explain today what criteria you use in determining the level of cuts to health service agencies.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I think the member would have to be a little more specific. Overall, the funding in health care in fact is up. The province committed to $17.4 billion in health care funding through the last election; the actual budget is $17.7 billion for this fiscal year in health care funding, all aspects of health care funding. In fact, I think the challenge will be to keep the health care spending at the end of the fiscal year to that level. It will most likely be beyond it.

Mrs Pupatello: Minister, I would like you to explain to me, then, why members of your caucus respond to their constituents who write to them concerned about cuts to their health care centres -- for example, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who received letters from people concerned about Stonegate Community Health Centre. His response to these people was:

"The letter circulated to you is misleading. In fact, it's going to make me look a little more closely at that centre. I think this should be a review of the budget of that health centre. In fact, I wonder about the very ability to administer the fiscal responsibilities of the centre."

Minister, is this your style? Is this the style similar to the minister of women's affairs, who goes to London to the women's centre and threatens them with reviews of their budget because they choose to write to your caucus members?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The question has been asked.

Hon David Johnson: I don't know what letter the member opposite has; I don't know who has sent such a letter. I will say that the ministry, the province of Ontario, clearly established that the number one service for the people of Ontario is health care. We did that before the last election. That was our platform during the election. That has been the reality since the election. Of all the budgets in the province, the one that has been protected is the budget for the Ministry of Health.

Mrs Pupatello: It makes me wonder about the fiscal responsibility.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Windsor-Walkerville, you have asked a question. Listen to it.

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite should have an answer and she should pose the question to Mr Martin and Mr Chrétien. They're the ones --


The Deputy Speaker: Excuse me, Minister. You know, some type of language sometimes is accepted, but some type of language also can lead to language which is not acceptable, so just be polite.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Finance. You delivered your economic statement to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs last week. It certainly played well on Wall Street and Bay Street and in the international monetary community, but here at home, in communities across the province, it's playing quite differently.

Your economist friends called your report on Ontario a Cinderella story. An economist for the Steelworkers tells us we are riding a bubble and in danger because of our growing dependence on the American economy. We know this: There are currently 529,000 people unemployed in Ontario. That's 25,000 more than when you took office, and more and more of those employed are underemployed in part-time work.

I want to get to the bottom of all this conflicting news. Would you agree, Minister, that the fiscal picture should be an accurate reflection of economic activity and would you agree that revenues, for example, should give you an accurate reflection of economic activity?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The third-quarter statement that we released in committee last Thursday speaks for itself. Revenues, especially tax revenues, are up substantially in Ontario. The outlook for growth in the province is certainly good for 1997 and 1998. Our projections are far more cautious and conservative than private forecasters are in terms of growth in the economy, and that in turn leads to jobs.

The honourable member talks about job creation in the province of Ontario. Last year there were over 80,000 net new jobs created in the province. Last month the unemployment rate actually dropped slightly, from 9.1% to 9.0%. He knows that last week the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce both released reports predicting that unemployment in this province will fall to 8% or 8.1%, depending on which one you pick, by 1998. I think those are all positive factors.

There have been over 90,000 jobs created in the private sector in the last year. He will also know, as was discussed in committee, that there were 107,000 more people seeking employment in Ontario last year than ever were before. The help wanted index was up 4.2% in December. It's up another 2% in January --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Thank you. Supplementary.


Mr Martin: That's what you said last Thursday. You attempted to take credit for the revenue boost and the progress you have made on the deficit because of your policies. Last Thursday you said, "Over the past 18 months, this government has taken decisive action to create jobs in the province of Ontario and to bring our...finances under control."


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Martin: This morning in the finance committee we heard from a witness that you factored into your 1996 figures revenue actually generated in 1995, which paints a completely different picture.

The Deputy Speaker: Question.

Mr Martin: The deficit is actually $600 million less than you reported. When you take the boost in revenue out of this year, because it has really nothing to do with this year, you end up with a deficit that is $600 million higher.

The Deputy Speaker: Question.

Mr Martin: That is --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. The clock is ticking. It's your time. If you were to keep your questions short and sweet -- your question, please.

Mr Martin: The deficit last year was $8.14 billion; this year it's $8.25 billion. Minister, why do you take credit for increased revenues for economic boom and for deficit reduction? When you take away the spin and accurately reflect the economic activity of the province in the fiscal picture, you find out that in fact the deficit has increased this year by $100 million.

The Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked. Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: I know the member's party finds it difficult to believe, but when you lower taxes you actually get more people working, they pay more tax -- it doesn't matter whether it's retail sales tax, alcohol tax, gasoline tax, tobacco tax, corporations tax or income tax, whatever it is, the revenue goes up.

He's quite correct. We stated quite up front in my statement that $578 million of the increase in revenue was the 1995 amount. Similarly, when you go back to 1995, some of the money in there is from 1994. When you go back to 1994, some of the money in there is from 1993. When you go back to 1993, you begin to get the picture. This has gone on ever since the federal government has collected taxes on behalf of provinces. They keep the money, they keep the interest on it, they undercalculate and then they send the --


The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Minister, take your seat.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. I think all members in this House will agree that Ontario's tourism industry is an important generator of jobs, tax revenue and foreign currency. Last May, in an effort to do things more effectively and efficiently within your ministry, an agreement was made with Bell Global Solutions for Bell to take over the operation and financing of the 1-800 Ontario tourism reservation line. At that time you were quoted as saying, "This is a business opportunity that will help generate tourist spending and help strengthen the tourist industry in Ontario, a strong economic sector that earns over $11 billion a year."

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

Mr Chudleigh: "I am confident this agreement will help the tourist industry to grow in new and innovative ways and lead to increased business and jobs creation."

The Deputy Speaker: Question.

Mr Chudleigh: Minister, now that this service has been in operation for almost a year, can you tell us how much response there is to this new 1-800 Ontario service?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I am very happy to respond to that question and I know the people in the opposition are very happy the question has been asked because they want to know this good news.

First of all, I might say that in effect this is a form of privatization by our party. I'm happy to say that there have been more than 410,000 calls to that 1-800 number in the last six months. These calls have resulted in 16,000 or more room reservations having been confirmed. This converts to about $1.5 million in total sales to the hospitality industry. We've sent out 71,000 information kits, 30,000 of which have gone to the United States.

Mr Chudleigh: Do you judge this upgraded process to have been a solid investment on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario in terms of jobs and savings to the taxpayers when weighed against service?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm happy to report that --


Hon Mr Saunderson: I think these figures are very important to be listened to. First of all, this new system is an annual saving to the province of $3.2 million. We're also happy to report that 150 hotels have recently joined this service, bringing the total number of properties online up to 225. We've expanded service from 16 communities to 95, and we're averaging 5,000 calls a day, which is 1,000 more than the old system.

I have to say that the average hold time to reach a live operator is 37 seconds, compared to the five minutes of the previous system of the other parties. This is a very sensible and profitable operation for the province.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. You have announced that you are giving the go-ahead to universities to raise tuition this year up to 20%. This year's tuition increase is over and above the NDP's 42% increase when they were in government, and you raised tuition another 20% last year. On top of those hikes, you're adding an additional tuition increase of anywhere from 10% and 20%.

That's unacceptable and students are telling you that's unacceptable. They simply can't find the money to pay more. The crowds of students protesting at York University and the University of Toronto are sending you a clear message that they can't take any more of your cuts. Students in universities and colleges, and even your own review, the Smith report, says not to hike tuition fees. Who told you that tuition increases are a good idea?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Scarborough North for the question. Yes, we have announced recently that we'll be extending increased flexibility to universities and colleges regarding tuition. In fact, I'm sure the member opposite will be pleased to note that this is limited to 10% of the fees collected by an institution, and we've also asked institutions to withhold 30% of any increase for student aid. That fits on top of this government's commitment to student aid, which includes $100 million to a student trust fund which will direct funds in perpetuity to students most in need. We also have announced an Ontario merit scholarship which will reimburse 100% of the cost of tuition to the top 2% of students in every program across the province.

The accessibility of our colleges and universities remains a primary concern of this government, as is excellence and quality in our programming, two of the issues addressed by the Smith commission. I would advise the member opposite, although it's unusual for me to have to give this particular member this advice, to perhaps read the Smith commission report again, because the Smith commission does address the idea of flexibility and quality in our institutions.

Mr Curling: That flexibility you're talking about has outraged the students. They are now occupying the president's office at both the University of Toronto and York University. What you have done is pitted the students against the administration, and you know that. You must take responsibility, Minister. Your cuts of over $400 million are responsible for the tuition increases and will serve to make our colleges and universities accessible only to the wealthy, regardless of what you say. You are making them an élite institution.

The student debt load is increasing. Student bankruptcy is increasing. Young people now face an unemployment rate of over 30%. When will you deliver on your commitment to support students?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I said a moment ago, this government has an enviable track record on new and innovative ideas that will help the students who are most in need, including a $100-million commitment to a student trust fund, including requiring universities and colleges to withhold portions of any increase to assist the students most in need.

In addition to that -- and I'm sure the member opposite will remember this from the red book promises during the campaign when his party said, "Students should pay a fair and appropriate share of the costs of their post-secondary education, but the current system of student assistance is not meeting student needs." I agree with the member opposite. I agree with this statement. That's why we're pushing for an income-contingent loans program.

I would advise the member opposite to push his colleagues in Ottawa to get their --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. The member for Algoma.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. As we know, at the end of January the minister raised the moratorium he had placed on capital construction projects for school boards across Ontario that had been in place for a year, which held up construction that had been planned previously. Then one week later he introduced Bill 104, which ties the hands of school boards with regard to expenditures. Most boards now don't know whether they should proceed with construction or not.

Since the minister has taken away the ability of boards to raise revenues through local taxes, and at the same time he is telling them to go ahead and build schools as long as they can pay their share, can the minister explain how this is going to happen?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): First of all, to the member for Algoma, I was pleased last night to be in or near his riding and have a meeting with parents and concerned citizens in that area. It was a very productive meeting.

In response to the capital announcement, yes, we were able to announce that the moratorium is over, that there is $650 million for construction over the next two years of schools that are badly needed in Ontario. And yes, I have talked to the directors of education, from CODE, just recently and told them what our plans were for releasing those funds, for meeting those plans.

These schools, as the member has indicated, have been on the drawing boards for some time. We've been very clear with directors of education that they can go forward, put the shovel in the ground this spring and build those schools. If they must borrow the money for those projects, they'll have to meet a template for that borrowing, but we will make sure that that is available to them and that they can get on with construction.

Mr Wildman: The minister knows that under Bill 104 boards must get approval from the still non-existent Education Improvement Commission in order to purchase property of more than $50,000 or before they can enter a contract that extends beyond next December.

The ministry's memo explains this, saying: "Should you wish to proceed with approved projects over the next several weeks, I suggest that you ensure that site purchase agreements of more than $50,000 or contractual agreements which extend beyond December 1, 1997, contain a clause indicating that the agreement is subject to the approval of the proposed Education Improvement Commission."

The minister is a business person. Would he enter into a contract with a school board that is soon no longer to exist, where a contract is conditional on the approval of a commission that does not yet exist?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I said just a moment ago, we have talked to directors of education in the province. If they have funds currently available to build these schools that they requested from the ministry some time ago, they can go forward without asking anyone's approval, and the province will put its funding forward. If they must make a loan that will bridge between their current school board structure and the next school board structure, they must meet a template for that borrowing, and we will make that information available to them so as not to delay construction.

I would encourage the member opposite and all members opposite to allow us to go through the process we're now going through on 104 so that this legislation can become law in Ontario. Unfortunately, it was somewhat delayed.

One other point I think must be made. Our record on this subject is exemplary in the province of Ontario and this government for this reason: We have not done what the government previous did, which was make promises for schools but failed to deliver money. Second, we haven't done what their counterparts in British Columbia did, which was to announce new construction of schools but only in NDP ridings in --


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Let's not forget Valentine's Day is tomorrow.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Since the election of June 1995, you and the government have continued to recognize the importance of our agrifood and rural industries and the contribution they make to the economic wellbeing of Ontario.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Would you repeat your question because I couldn't understand one word.

Mr Carroll: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Since the election of June 1995, you and our government have continued to recognize the importance of agrifood and rural industries and the contribution they make to the economic wellbeing of our province, and you've supported them with various different programs. The Grow Ontario program announced in our 1996 budget is a good example of that support. Could you give us an update, please, on the number of applications that have been processed and approved so far?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my honourable colleague for that question. We're very proud of the Grow Ontario program. It's a $15-million injection into the rural community to make farmers more productive, more competitive, to bring in new investment and to go and get new markets.

We have some 250 applications presently waiting for process. It's matching dollars from the government of Ontario to the industry to help the agrifood sector double its exports in the next five years and we're proud of that. We're also proud of the rebate on the provincial sales tax, so $35 million-plus of new money is going right back into the rural economy. We're proud of that.

Mr Carroll: Citizens of my riding of Chatham-Kent were recently happy to learn that you have extended the deadline on the program. Could you please update us on the reasons behind your decision to make that extension?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, we have a new deadline now to March 15. We have had a large number of applications and they're still coming in. I encourage anyone who's thinking of a Grow Ontario application, where matching government funds will help the private sector --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): They don't like the cuts to the farm rebate program either. You cut everything else. They know the truth, Noble.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I always find it amazing that the opposition cannot take good news. They just cannot take good news.

Mrs Caplan: They know the truth, Noble.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oriole, order, please. Minister, in a few words.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The final deadline for the Grow Ontario program is March 15 and we fully anticipate a large number of applications. I encourage anyone who is planning a Grow Ontario application to put in their application now.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Last weekend I attended the Kenora District Municipal Association meeting in Sioux Lookout, along with the parliamentary assistant from the Ministry of Northern Development. The parliamentary assistant left an interesting message with the delegates there and with myself. He indicated there would be no forced amalgamation in the province.

Minister, the delegates and myself were very confused, especially knowing what's happening here in Toronto and especially knowing what you've said about this in the past, when you have indicated that if municipalities couldn't amalgamate you would do it for them. Now your parliamentary assistant has gone up there and said there will be no forced amalgamations. Who do we believe?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): As the member opposite would know, under Bill 26 we gave the municipalities and counties and northern Ontario the opportunity to work with each other to ensure that -- we would prefer to see local options on restructuring and that's why across the province right at the present time there are 350 municipalities involved in restructuring proposals on a cooperative basis. We believe that in most instances decisions made locally are best.

There are situations in Ontario where discussions on restructuring have gone on for decades and it is prudent for this government to come in and make decisions where they have to be made, but we certainly encourage local decisions wherever it's possible to do so.


Mr Miclash: Did I just hear you say there will be forced amalgamations in areas where municipalities can't do it themselves? I think that's what I just heard you say. The parliamentary assistant is up in the north saying there will be no forced amalgamations, but I just heard you say here that there will be if the municipalities can't do it for themselves.

Let me quote to you out of Municipal World of June 1996: "Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Al Leach and Ernie Hardeman, the minister's parliamentary assistant, were at the May 2 and 3 Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Conference in Stratford tirelessly repeating the chorus of their Common Sense Revolution: Restructure yourself or have it done for you. As the minister said in his luncheon speech: `I have repeated the message over and over. Ontario municipal officials know that only too well.'"

Are we or are we not looking at forced amalgamations by this government?

Hon Mr Leach: As the member knows, municipalities that are attempting to amalgamate with each other or restructure within a county or in a rural area that come to an impasse have the ability to request that a commission be appointed to assist them in finalizing their deliberations. In every instance in northern Ontario, in rural Ontario, in eastern Ontario and western Ontario, if a municipality has difficulty concluding their restructuring process, they can ask the province to appoint a commission. The decision of that commission, if appointed, would be final, but it must be initiated by the local municipality.

Mr Miclash: Point of --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I can take it afterwards.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Health. Are you or your government encouraging or supportive of a two-tiered health care system? Better still, are you aware that there is a two-tiered health care system evolving out there because of the cuts that you're forcing on hospitals and the health care system in this province?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I have to take exception to that. The Ministry of Health laid out a funding plan to hospitals over a year ago. It was a program that we committed to at that time, a program that we've adhered to. In addition to that, I might say, we have invested in health care in various programs that would be run through hospitals, such as kidney dialysis, some $25 million; cardiac surgery, some $16 million; diabetes, another $6 million, and on and on it goes.

The Ministry of Health and the province of Ontario are committed to health care, are committed to excellence in our hospitals, and we have put our money where our mouth is.

Mr Martin: Let me share with you what's going on out there. You should take some time out of your busy schedule to get out and visit some hospitals across this province.

I shared with you earlier in the week two very disturbing stories that happened in my community at the Plummer hospital. One was an Eric Snoddon, the other was Mauno Kaihla.

In the Eric Snoddon story it says: "Barton and Kiteley Funeral Home hired private nurses to be with him around the clock.." And in the Kaihla story it says: "Iles had asked the nurse to pass on a brochure and photocopy from the yellow pages. They listed private nursing agencies. At the meeting I was told that the nursing my father was receiving was the best that the hospital could provide, with the acknowledgement that it did not meet basic necessities at times. I was told I should hire a private nurse to come in three hours a day."

It goes on --

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

Mr Martin: "Regarding the brochure, I wanted to know whether the Plummer endorsed one level of nursing for the poor and a superior one for those who could afford to hire privately."

I ask you on behalf of Paul Kaihla and all the poor people out there who can't afford private health care or who don't have a private insurance plan, are you encouraging and supportive of a two-tiered health care system in Ontario and do you know that it's happening?

Hon David Johnson: The province of Ontario is committed to the Canada Health Act. The province of Ontario is committed to excellence in health care to the people of Ontario. One way we've demonstrated that is in terms of hospitals, those hospitals going through restructuring. The province of Ontario is committed to the highest percentage capital investment in those hospitals; 70% of the investment required to restructure those hospitals comes from the province of Ontario. That's the highest investment in hospitals.

Second, the NDP's approach to health was to tally up $3 billion worth of projects but not to fund them. This government is committed to finding the funds through administrative efficiencies and reinvesting that money back into health care.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy with respect to the dry-cleaning industry and its effect on the environment. It has come to my attention that the federal government has declared four chemicals toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and is moving forward in a regulation requiring dry cleaners to reduce by 70% their use of a chemical which is a suspected human carcinogen. Minister, could you please tell the House about your ministry's initiatives to ensure the safety of dry-cleaning operations in the province of Ontario?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I'm acutely aware of this problem because in my own home town of Manotick we had a significant problem with regard to improper dumping by a drycleaner in the recent past.

This industry is now working closely with my ministry. Since June 1996 every dry-cleaning site in Ontario has been required to have a full-time trained person on environmental practices in their particular institute. Training is based on the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment code of practice for dry cleaners.

This is not only being put forward by the ministry, but it has been accepted as well by such groups as the Ontario Fabric Association and the Korean Dry Cleaners Association. We are improving our environment through cooperative actions with the people who are involved in the businesses.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): That's the end of question period.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Being that I heard the exact opposite from the Minister of Municipal Affairs here today in question period than what I heard from the parliamentary assistant --


The Deputy Speaker: Order, the member for Kenora. Order, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the member for Algoma, the member for Dufferin-Peel.

Member for Kenora, you have a point of privilege. I will listen to it now.

Mr Miclash: Being that I heard the exact opposite from the Minister of Municipal Affairs here today to what I heard in Sioux Lookout from the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Northern Development last weekend, I would ask that the parliamentary assistant get up and correct the record on what he told --

The Deputy Speaker: That's not a point of privilege.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have what I consider to be a point of order and I consider it to be a very grave matter. Section 21 --


The Deputy Speaker: For those who want to leave, do so now. We'll wait patiently.

Member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: I rise on a point of order that I consider to be quite serious. Sections 21, 22 and 23 specifically deal with how members of the House must conduct themselves while in this chamber. Earlier there was a bit of an exchange going on between members from the opposition caucus and the government. The Acting Speaker, the member for Perth, while that was going on, was making -- how would I explain in a very gentlemanly manner? --


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Derogatory.

Mr Bisson: -- derogatory comments about the member for Oriole by heckling back in a shrill voice, trying to make fun of her voice as a woman. I find that quite offensive, especially coming from somebody who sits in the chair of this Legislature and is supposed to be one of the deputy Deputy Speakers of this Legislature.

The Deputy Speaker: I've heard your point.


The Deputy Speaker: Order. As you know, it's extremely difficult for the Speaker to hear anything in this House if everybody talks at the same time.


The Deputy Speaker: Let me finish. If the honourable member for Perth has said anything which is derogatory, which is not acceptable in this House, I would ask you to apologize.

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order and, yes, if I said anything that was offensive to anybody in this chamber, I would apologize.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The question is settled.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Health, Government House Leader): I move that, notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 65, 67 and 68.

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



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition that reads as follows. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Tory government has decided to replace our current child care system with one that lacks compassion and common sense, and is fraught with many dangerous consequences; and

"Whereas the concept of affordable, accessible and quality child care is a basic important fundamental right for many members of our community, who are either unemployed and enrolled into a training program, or are working single parents, or where both parents are working; and

"Whereas if our present provincial government is sincere in getting people back to work, they should recognize the value of the child care component of the Jobs Ontario program and acknowledge the validity of the wage subsidy to the child care workers;

"We, the undersigned residents, business owners and child care workers of our Parkdale and High Park communities, urge the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario to immediately suspend their plans to implement cuts to our present child care programs across our province, and restore funding to their previous levels."

I will sign my name to this petition because I agree with it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition which reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I've been given a petition to deliver on behalf of my friend and colleague the member for Don Mills. It's signed by two residents of East York and 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 Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): This is a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario against Bill 103, an act to extirpate local government in the metropolitan area.

"Whereas Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, is a transparent ploy to facilitate the provincial government's plans to transfer essential services to local government without providing revenue to maintain these services, which will result in increased property taxes;

"Whereas local government belongs to and should be responsible to the local citizens who elected it, not to the provincial government;

"Whereas no changes to the structure of local government should be made without the consent of local citizens, using a democratic process which draws on their energy, knowledge, goodwill and support;

"Whereas apart from the federal government's War Measures Act, Bill 103 is the most far-reaching attempt to disrupt democratic decision-making ever seen in Canada,

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

"That the Legislative Assembly direct the government of Ontario to withdraw Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, 1996, forthwith."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): "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."

I affix my signature to this petition.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai une pétition ici soussignée par de nombreux citoyens de la ville de Timmins qui dit :

«Attendu que le gouvernement conservateur de Mike Harris prévoit démanteler le système actuel de contrôle des loyers ;

«Attendu que Mike Harris et le Parti conservateur n'ont pas mentionné le démantèlement du contrôle des loyers durant la campagne électorale de 1995 ou dans leur document intitulé La Révolution du bon sens ;

«Attendu que de nombreux candidats conservateurs dans des circonscriptions avec de fortes concentrations de locataires ont fait campagne durant les élections de 1995 en promettant de protéger le système actuel de contrôle des loyers ;

«Attendu que le gouvernement a consulté des groupes d'intérêt représentant les propriétaires et les promoteurs, tout en éliminant le financement accordé aux organismes représentant les quelque 3,5 millions de locataires en Ontario ;

«Attendu que l'élimination du contrôle des loyers va entraîner la montée en flèche des loyers en Ontario ;

"À ces causes, nous, soussignés, exhortons le Premier ministre Mike Harris, Al Leach, ministre du Logement, et les députés de l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario à mettre fin à l'attaque contre les 3,5 millions de locataires dans la province.»



Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am pleased to sign this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition signed by a number of people in southwestern Ontario, Windsor and London.

"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 proud to affix my signature.


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

"Whereas the government of Ontario appears to be moving towards the privatization of retail liquor and spirit sales in the province; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a safe, secure and controlled way of retailing alcoholic beverages; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides the best method of restricting the sale of liquor to minors in Ontario; and

"Whereas the LCBO has an excellent program of quality control of the products sold in its stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO provides a wide selection of product to its customers in modern, convenient stores; and

"Whereas the LCBO has moved forward with the times, sensitive to the needs of its customers and its clients; and

"Whereas the LCBO is an important instrument for the promotion and sale of Ontario wines and thereby contributes immensely to grape growing and the wine-producing industry;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the government of Ontario abandon its plan to turn over the sale of liquor and spirits to private liquor stores and retain the LCBO for this purpose."

I've affixed my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

I add my name to theirs in support.


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

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is unfair;

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 is discriminatory;

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

"Whereas we feel Bill 84 requires extensive changes;

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

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

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

I affix my signature as I am in agreement with the petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have here a petition signed by a number of people from the South Porcupine-Schumacher area. It reads as follows:

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control;

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995;

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations," like Al Leach, "campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system;

"Whereas the government has consulted with special interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations that represent the 3.5 million tenants in this province;

"Whereas although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished;

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

"Therefore, we the undersigned call upon Premier Mike Harris, Housing Minister Al Leach and the members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop this attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."

I affix my name to that petition.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition signed here on about 60 individual cards by people such as Mike Sitoski, Hank Kelly, Bruce Murray, J.F. Murray and a number of other people. It reads as follows:

"I support free public libraries as the foundation of a literate, informed and prosperous population.

"I am therefore opposed to the repeal of the Public Libraries Act, the elimination of provincial conditional grants to public libraries and the eradication of library boards and the imposition of fees for the use of public libraries."

I have affixed my signature to it.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe there is unanimous consent, with respect to the tentative scheduled debate pursuant to the notice of discontent that is to take place this evening, for the member for Sudbury East to be replaced by the member for Welland-Thorold. I understand there's been unanimous consent by all three parties to that.

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

According to standing order 34(a), the member for Welland-Thorold has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Premier yesterday concerning the family support plan. The matter will be debated today at 6 pm.




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

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): As Solicitor General of Ontario, I am proud to have the opportunity to speak about Bill 105, entitled An Act to renew the partnership between the province, municipalities and the police and to enhance community safety.

For many years there has been a pressing need to improve the way policing services are paid for, delivered and kept accountable to municipal taxpayers. The long-awaited amendments to the Police Services Act that we have proposed answer those needs.

Many members of the Legislative Assembly will know that I have represented the riding of Leeds-Grenville since 1981. That's over 15 years now. In opposition I served as critic for the Ministry of Solicitor General and Correctional Services. Over my past 15 years as an MPP and as critic and now as minister, the people of Ontario have consistently demanded that common sense be restored to government. The taxpayers want to be treated fairly. They want decisions about local services to be made at the local level. They've said loud and clear that public institutions, and policing is no exception, must be accountable.

This government is listening and we are taking action. In December 1995 I initiated a review of policing in Ontario, the most comprehensive review of policing in almost a quarter of a century. The goal of this review was to improve the way policing is provided to the people of this province. My aim, the government's aim, is to give municipalities and police forces the flexibility they need to reduce waste and duplication and focus on what Ontario residents want: front-line policing.

The amendments to the Police Services Act which are being proposed were not created in a vacuum. This review was conducted in consultation with police and municipal stakeholders, and consultation has been extensive.

Last June I hosted a two-day police summit to seek input from police, municipal representatives and others on the future of policing in Ontario. The police summit was attended by representatives of the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Senior Officers Association, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

The ministry received valuable feedback from these organizations at the summit and during follow-up meetings throughout the summer. This work was expanded upon by the Who Does What panel, which reported to the government in November. In addition, the Attorney General and I announced an independent review of civilian oversight of police which was conducted by Mr Rod McLeod. The McLeod review provided the ministry with recommendations on how to create a simpler, more efficient and effective system of civilian oversight and police accountability.

At this point, I want to touch on three main areas that Bill 105 deals with: fair financing, local flexibility in delivering and governing police services, and improved accountability.

First of all, when it comes to paying for police services, we boil it down to a question of fairness. In our view and in the view of the Who Does What emergency services panel, it is not fair that some municipalities now receive police services without direct cost to their taxpayers while others pay the full amount.

Another aspect of the fairness question has impacted on a number of OPP contract locations, where for some years now we've had several municipalities refusing to pay their policing bills because their larger neighbours were getting comparable OPP policing at no direct cost to their ratepayers. That payment default now totals approximately $6 million owed to the OPP. I should add that it's money we intend to collect.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Send the sheriff.

Hon Mr Runciman: Hopefully, we won't have to do that.

Some 202 municipalities in Ontario, representing 85% of the province's population, pay for police services directly from municipal property taxes. The remaining 576 municipalities do not pay for policing from municipal taxes. In those municipalities policing is provided by the Ontario Provincial Police at no direct charge. The cost of providing that service is more than $182 million a year.

In general, it is smaller rural municipalities that receive policing at no charge, but that is not always the case. For example, the village of Wheatley in Kent county has a population of about 1,500 and pays for policing through municipal taxes. The district of Muskoka has a population of 45,000 and receives policing services without charge. This is extremely unfair to the municipalities that are paying their share of policing costs.

The Provincial Auditor pointed this out in his reports in 1990 and again in 1994, but the governments of the day backed away before introducing any kind of change. In fact, the NDP government assured the Provincial Auditor that it was "committed to the principle that everyone should pay their fair share of policing costs." That was the NDP response to the 1994 Provincial Auditor's report. Despite that assurance, nothing was done.

We have listened and we are taking action. Beginning on January 1, 1998, every municipality in Ontario will be responsible for providing adequate and effective policing and for paying their fair share for municipal tax levies. For the record, I should add that a similar system requiring municipalities to contribute to the cost of policing has been operating in the province of Quebec since the early 1990s.

With respect to policing costs, I want to remind the members of this House that this is being done in conjunction with the removal of education tax from the property tax rolls. In addition, my colleague the Attorney General recently announced amendments to the Provincial Offences Act, parts I and II of the act, and this will allow municipalities to access an estimated $40 million in fine revenues from things like speeding which flow directly from police operations. The government's reinvestment strategy will also ensure that no municipality is unfairly burdened by the new charge.

These measures taken together will help make sure that municipalities are able to pay their fair share for policing.

I should point out that these changes are being well received. An editorial in the London Free Press said, "Removing a subsidy most municipalities don't get is the right thing to do." The Windsor Star called these changes "straightforward and equitable."

I met with delegates at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association convention this week, spoke to them, answered their questions, met delegations all afternoon, and the changes are being well received.

Certainly there are some questions and concerns surrounding how this will transpire and we understand those and we're addressing them as best we can and as quickly as we can, but I want to assure members of the House that from the reaction that I've been able to receive and read about and hear about right across the province, these proposals with respect to everyone paying their fair share for policing are being well received.

I want to point out that the changes will not mean every municipality will have to organize its own separate police force. In fact, the second major provision in the bill that I want to speak to is designed specifically to give local governments the flexibility they need to make decisions about local services.

This government believes that local needs are best understood by local officials who are accountable for the delivery of services in their communities. That's why under Bill 105 the majority of members on police services boards will be appointed by the municipality and municipalities will be given the authority to set police budgets, which I might add was received with a very strong round of applause at the ROMA convention this week.

The system of municipal control over police budgets we're proposing in this bill is similar to the budget process used in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

Municipalities will have options for local choice in the delivery of police services to their community. For instance, they can decide to continue with OPP service and be billed on an actual cost basis; they can contract with the OPP directly; they can join with a neighbouring municipality or municipalities to establish a joint OPP contract and a joint police services board; they have the option of entering into a contract with a neighbouring police force to provide certain specialized police services; or finally, they can join with another municipality to form a new police service. But regardless of the option chosen, public safety will not be compromised.


Consistent with the Who Does What panel's recommendation, the proposed legislation establishes the core functions that must be provided by a police service. Those core functions are crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims, maintenance of public safety and emergency response.

For the first time, in the interest of public safety, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services will clearly define the term "adequate policing," and we'll do this in regulation pursuant to the bill. This will establish benchmarks for a level of police service that will ensure effective protection for every community in Ontario.

The third and final area I would like to address is the improved system of police oversight that has been developed as part of Bill 105. It's clear to everyone interested in police oversight that the current system doesn't work. Certainly police and municipal stakeholders told us during our extensive consultations over the last year that the current system is complex, bureaucratic and slow. I know from the inquiries in my office that very few people understand the current system, including members of this assembly.

The oversight system in Ontario is confusing to the complainant, and costly and time-consuming to all taxpayers. Right now Ontario has four different agencies overseeing the police at an annual cost of almost $8 million. I don't usually quote this individual on a regular basis but former Metro police services board chair, Susan Eng, said in a 1993 speech:

"In Ontario, I think we overdid it. We have no less than four external agencies and three internal units that monitor the conduct of police officers. In my opinion, some of these agencies would've been unnecessary if police boards took on the responsibility for holding police forces to account."

In fact, we are doing just what Ms Eng suggested. In order to remedy these problems, the proposed legislation will merge the existing police complaints and discipline bodies into --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is a very important bill and it should be very important to the government that ran on a law-and-order platform and they do not have a quorum.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles Morin): Would you please check if there is a quorum.

Acting Clerk Assistant (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Acting Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Runciman: I was speaking to the issue of police oversight and the fact that we have addressed, I think, virtually all the concerns, and not simply those involved in policing, but community organizations. I know there are some difficulties and some concerns that still surround the oversight proposal, but we are attempting to address those in a timely fashion.

I indicated that in order to remedy these problems, the proposed legislation will merge the existing police complaints and discipline bodies into a modern, streamlined and simpler system. It's more responsive and accountable to complainants. The four existing agencies will be merged into two, which will save taxpayers $3 million each year. These savings will be realized by ending administrative overlap and duplication in the oversight system, not by compromising service and accountability.

The Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, or OCCPS, will be reconstituted to deal with budget appeal issues in the context of adequate delivery of police services. It will also provide the appellate function for complaints about police conduct.

The oversight system we're proposing under this bill is based on the police complaints and police discipline system in Alberta. The new system will make filing a police complaint simpler and more accessible. A complainant only needs to write a letter. There are no forms to fill out, as is currently the case. The letter can be delivered by fax, by mail, in person or by an agent to either the police station or directly to the new Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. As I've indicated, the new system will be more accountable, with a new element, a 30-day initial response time set for public complaints. Complaints will be encouraged to be resolved at the local level, while preserving the provincial role in ensuring police accountability in matters of public trust and safety.

Under the new system, a complainant who is not satisfied or who disagrees with the manner in which a complaint is being handled by the police can ask the civilian commission to review the matter. Upon receiving a request for a review, the civilian commission shall review the matter, taking into account any material provided by the complainant or the police. After this review has been completed, or on its own motion, the civilian commission may confirm the local decision or may direct the chief of police to process the complaint as it specifies, or assign the investigation of the complaint to another police service. In many ways the new system will be fairer, more credible and more accountable for the police and for the complainant.

Finally, the independence and impartiality of serious investigations will be maintained through the continuation of the special investigations unit, which will remain under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General. Again, we're encouraged by the positive feedback we're receiving concerning these proposed changes to police oversight and governance. In fact, I received a letter from the London Urban Alliance on Race Relations saying: "We are most impressed with the changes being made. You are keeping your promises to the people of Ontario." That is the London Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

Before concluding my remarks, I want to briefly address a few concerns I've heard over the past seven or eight years about police presence in rural Ontario, concerns which we, now that we're in government, are doing something about. For instance, we've marked over 100 police cars that were previously unmarked in order to increase visibility of police in rural Ontario. The OPP -- and members may think this is not a significant matter, but I think the fact that we've had so many cars in the rural areas and having a police car in terms of visibility --

Mr Gerretsen: Is this part of the bill?

Hon Mr Runciman: It's all related to policing. Simply, the visibility aspect is a deterrent, especially in terms of youth crime.

The OPP now has a program which is moving over 300 sergeants out from behind their desks and into patrol cars. We think that is a very significant element. We've increased 24-hour coverage in rural Ontario from, believe it or not, approximately 38% in 1990 to over 80% in 1996. As an example of this in my area, prior to clustering with Brockville, Westport was provided with only 18 hours of on-duty OPP police service. It now receives 24-hour service.


The review in October 1996 indicated that in the village of Westport in rural Ontario there has been a 7% decrease in break-and-enters, a 20% decrease in thefts, a 33% increase in driving offence charges -- all a result of proactive policing in rural Ontario.

Now with these new responsibilities being given to municipalities under Bill 105, our municipal partners in rural Ontario will have a real voice in how policing is conducted in their own municipality. If local taxpayers want more coverage in certain areas at certain hours, then the local municipality will call the shots. The point I want to make is that the community is involved and will have a say in policing.

In closing, I want to say that I strongly believe that the changes we are embarking upon will lead to fairness for taxpayers, empower local governments to make local decisions about policing and improve the system of police oversight and accountability. I believe these changes will lead to much-improved policing across Ontario and a safer province for us, our children and our grandchildren. Thank you very much.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments? The member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I'm pleased to respond to the Solicitor General, and I'm sure that you will allow the debate of this matter to be as broad as possible since at least the last five minutes of his speech had nothing to do with the bill itself.

It's interesting, having been a former police commissioner for some eight years and being chair in my own community for about three years, I'm very concerned about the provincial oversight of police forces. This is a matter of concern to people in our communities. We're obviously going to study the changes he's making in that regard very closely because I think it is important that the general public out there has a mechanism whereby it can deal with complaints it may have about the police services it's getting in its community or that it may be involved in with the police in one way or another.

The other thing of course that I'm pleased to see, and I don't mind admitting this, is the fact that the majority of our police commission can now be set by the local council and that the councils will finally control the budgets. The downside to that is that $180 million has been downloaded upon municipalities in this community police financing program. It's kind of interesting that the minister in his speech didn't talk about the $180-million downloading at all.

It's kind of like telling the municipalities: "We'll give you a little bit more authority but at the same time, here's the $180-million bill that goes along with it." I wish he would have paid a little bit closer attention to that as well. The thing you've got to remember is that over 500 municipalities, as he said in his own speech, right now don't pay anything for policing at all and it is going to be a concern to those municipalities as to how exactly they're going to pay for this.

We look forward to debate on this matter and certainly to the public meetings which undoubtedly will follow in dealing with this bill.

Mrs Boyd: I'm happy to comment on the minister's introductory speech. One of the things that certainly leaps out at one from what the minister said was the lack of consultation that has been held with interested citizens groups about the issue around civilian oversight and also around what really constitutes local accountability.

It is fine for the minister to say municipalities have been asking for a better say, a better handle on police budgets since they pay those budgets, but, in truth, what worries police chiefs and the rank-and-file police officers is that, given the kind of load that this government has placed on municipalities and given the kinds of comments in reports like the famed KPMG report that says one of the ways Metro could save money is by reducing its police force, there is clear apprehension among police people in this province, as well as citizens groups, that this is going to result in a lower level of policing.

The minister says there will be standards set by regulation. We all know that regulations are made by the government without necessary consultation and are simply announced to people. This minister has shown himself unwilling to meet with concerned citizen groups. He thinks the only people he has to meet with and has to please are those involved in police services themselves in one way or another. It is quite frustrating for those who believe that our police services are not necessarily serving the interests of our diverse communities to have a Solicitor General who says he is proud of a report that has been devised without consultation with those interested citizen groups.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I would like to commend the Solicitor General for the content, the drafting of this legislation. It's very interesting to hear people in this House, some of whom were members of previous governments, argue against straightforward, commonsense solutions. I find it amazing, when I look at what the review of the Solicitor General's office covered, when I look at some of these areas such as "providing more effective and cost-efficient service delivery" -- I mean, who can argue against the necessity for something as basic in principle as that is? -- "and ensuring that all municipalities contribute to the cost of police service in their communities."

It's only fair that all municipalities contribute to the cost of police services in their community, and it's only fair that those communities have a direct input into what those services are. As a former Peel regional councillor and a city councillor for seven years, I know what it's like to sit there approving police budgets and going through line by line and making the direct decisions about what kind of service is needed in that community I had the privilege to represent.

When we're looking at the revisions this legislation brings in, it is dealing with fiscal accountability at the local level and, most important, it's providing police services with greater flexibility in deploying resources. Who knows better how to deploy the resources being funded than the people at the local level?

I can assure you, if the taxpayers in this province want anything, they want equity. I congratulate the Solicitor General for this legislation.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): One of the observations that has to be made is that here we have Bill 105, which has to be discussed in conjunction with, among other things, the amendments to the Provincial Offences Act. Clearly, there's some modest design here.

One of the goals, clearly, of what is companion legislation -- the amendments to the Provincial Offences Act -- is to put the police in a position where they're going to be the tax collectors of a municipality. It's a recognition of the incredible downloading of costs on to municipalities, the transfer of responsibilities. The Solicitor General is very specific about the fact that it's municipal councils, municipal authorities now which will determine police budgets, municipal councils which are increasingly cash-strapped and which are burdened with the ever-growing costs of general welfare assistance, nursing homes, day care, child care, public health, public transit, funding of libraries.

Our police officers are going to be compelled to go out there -- we commented approximately a year ago or so about the ludicrous prospect of police officers having to go out there conducting raffles and bake sales to finance effective policing.


Mr Kormos: Yes, very much a Mississippi model, made in Mississippi, if you will. Police officers, because of the transfer of responsibilities for the prosecution of and the receipt of the revenues from fines imposed for any number of provincial offences, are going to be forced -- rather than doing the sort of work they know they ought to be doing, police officers across Ontario, the Niagara region included, are going to be forced into engaging in provincial offences enforcement for the sole purpose of generating revenues for municipalities that are not going to be able to afford to adequately police themselves.


The Deputy Speaker: Minister, you have two minutes.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'll try to respond to those comments. The member for Kingston and The Islands said that Bill Davis didn't do this, John Robarts didn't do this. I won't embarrass anyone, but one of the first people who crossed the floor and shook my hand after introduction of this bill was a member of the Liberal Party, who shook my hand with respect to the requirement for all municipalities to start contributing to the cost of policing. He said: "You're the first government that's done this. I was promised 30 years ago by Roy McMurtry that this was going to happen." Every government subsequent to that made the promise. We're the government that is dealing with it. I suggest that because of its political volatility, it wasn't dealt with in the past.

Mr Gerretsen: I agree with part of that: You are the first government to ask for $182 million.

Hon Mr Runciman: The $182 million is the actual cost; that's all we're asking for, not a premium.

The member for London Centre talked about consultation. There has been significant consultation and there is ongoing consultation. I've never closed my door; it's open to hear people's views and listen to their concerns. I met with a coalition last week which represented something like 20 groups --

Mrs Boyd: For the first time; they've been asking for two years.

Hon Mr Runciman: No, it's not the first time I've met. I've met with groups before, and that's a fact. I've committed to meeting with them again before the legislation goes out to public hearings, and responded to all their concerns in a letter I signed today.

Our commitment to review oversight has been there for some time -- we made it as an opposition party -- to take a look at a system which very few people understand.

The member for -- I've forgotten his riding -- Welland-Thorold -- how could I forget that? It's really almost heart-wrenching to hear about his concern for taxpayers, given that the NDP was the party that brought in something like 32 tax increases --

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, do I have more time?

The Deputy Speaker: No. Further debate?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, I request unanimous consent from the House to postpone the leadoff comments of our critic until a later time, and I will simply speak for half an hour.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it agreed? Agreed.

Mr Bradley: I thank the House for that agreement.

Mrs Marland: Now you have to be nice to us.

Mr Bradley: The member for Mississauga South says that as a result I have to be nice to the government. I can't think of when I'm not nice to the government. Sometimes I'm not nice to what the government is doing; in other words, I'm critical of what the government's doing. I seldom allow that to creep into my viewpoint of the individuals who deliver the service, which I think is probably the way it should be. Actually, someone came into my constituency office and said I was too nice to the government or I was always making jokes or something and wasn't serious, this person said. This person was critical of me because I didn't stop you from allowing shopping on Boxing Day and said that if I were serious instead of being humorous from time to time in the House, I probably could have stopped the government from doing so.

Hon Mr Runciman: Municipalities can pass a bylaw.

Mr Bradley: You're right. Municipalities can pass a bylaw, says the Solicitor General, so perhaps this person will go to the municipality. Anyway, he was very critical of me on that occasion and I suspect on other occasions.

I have some comments to offer in a general sense. I always like to put a bill in the context of the entire government program. I think that's the best thing to do when we're talking about basic principles. Once again we have a bill which is to a certain extent motivated by the government's desire to give a tax cut to the richest people in our society; that is, the people who make the highest income are the people who are going to get the most back from the tax cut, so presumably they could go to Switzerland on a holiday or buy more RSPs or something of that nature. The lower-income people benefit, in terms of real dollars, substantially less and lose a lot of services. I see this in the context of that transfer of responsibilities and financial onus from the provincial government to the local municipalities.

When Bill 26 was on and people worried about police services at that time in Niagara Falls -- and my friend from Welland-Thorold was present at the time -- I was questioning a municipal official whose municipality had endorsed to a certain extent certain provisions of Bill 26. I asked that individual, "When your municipality endorsed this portion, did you realize that the Ontario government was cutting income taxes, which do not take into account an individual's ability to pay, and offloading on to municipalities, thereby increasing the property tax, which certainly does not take into account a person's ability to pay, and that all the criticism for any increased taxes or decrease in services would go to the municipality as opposed to the provincial government?" That person said that had he realized this, they probably would not have endorsed that aspect of Bill 26. That just goes to show what is not available in terms of information for people.

In context of the coverage of these events, I'm very concerned that we now have a diminished number of people covering items and events here at Queen's Park. We had an announcement earlier this week that unfortunately over 150 employees of Baton Broadcasting would lose their jobs and that the bureau here was almost wiped out except for two individuals. One would say: "What difference does that make? Isn't that downsizing? Isn't that the way Ontario is?" I'm not getting into the individual business of a particular company in this case; I am saying, in the context of the coverage of issues of the day, that it makes it much more difficult if there's only one person here as a reporter and one as a camera person to cover events at Queen's Park. Therefore what might happen is that the government's story of the day or some frivolous resolution might get coverage when there are more important items before the House.

That works both ways; I recognize that. Sometimes there may be something many on the government side would consider to be frivolous that the opposition raises and might get covered, or the government, one of the two. The point is that there are many secondary issues or secondary stories out there that cannot be covered as we see a diminishing of the number of reporters, journalists here at Queen's Park.

I personally have a little bit of a concern when I look up in the press gallery. The present Speaker is unable to see this except when he's in his own chair. But we don't see many people in the press gallery, and that's because there are television sets in all the offices now. I think what reporters miss, regardless of what side you sit on in the House, are the faces that are made, the looks on the faces of various people as things happen, sometimes an astute interjection or sometimes simply the body language of somebody asking or answering a question. To cover it, it's much better to be here in person to see that. It's much more convenient to be in one's office, I understand, but it's much better to be in the House itself. The Minister of Education and Training, and secondary education, agrees with that particular sentiment.

I look upon this bill as yet another downloading on municipalities, a transfer of responsibilities on to municipalities from the provincial government, and I do not look upon that with favour. Many of the services and responsibilities that are being downloaded to the local municipality are those services which are likely to rise in terms of their cost or be unpredictable in terms of their costs. Those that the province has taken on are those which are levelling off.

I'm sure there are many people in the province who applauded when they first heard the news, and it was well orchestrated, that the property tax would no longer have to be used for the purpose of education. A significant number of people would have applauded that day. They didn't hear the second part of it. The first day they would have applauded; the second day or the third day, when they started to hear what they were getting, they might have changed their minds because the cost of education, because of declining enrolment, is likely to level off or perhaps even decrease. It's a more predictable cost. It depends on where you are in the province, because some areas have growth in terms of population, some do not.


The province knew what it was doing when it took on that responsibility and then dumped other responsibilities on the municipalities, such as long-term care, such as care for seniors. The seniors homes now, I was reading a report in the St Catharines Standard the other day that said perhaps there was going to be privatization of some of the homes in Niagara. Would the regional municipality of Niagara, which gives excellent care in its seniors homes, be able to continue to do so? Already we're seeing cutbacks in that area and we're going to see further cutbacks.

They've dumped the cost of ambulance services on local municipalities. Now we see a major corporation coming in from the United States, a giant corporation called Rural/Metro Corp. I would like to share with you, because I know you'd be interested, what would happen in New York state, just across the border, if you had to get into an ambulance in New York state as compared to in Stratford, Ontario, or Mitchell or any of the other important communities in your area.

In New York state, to get into an ambulance for Rural/Metro Corp, you would have to pay US$218 for them to open the door and put you in, and you get basic life support services for that. If you get advanced life support services you pay $350. I presume that would be if you're having a heart attack or some other serious affliction of an emergency nature; that's a $350 ride. If you think that's all you have to pay, it isn't. You pay $5.45 per mile and you pay extra for equipment such as oxygen and intravenous, which I think I saw was something like $26.80 for those services. That could be a very expensive ride in an ambulance.

When I see this company coming into Ontario, I can't help but believe that the only reason they'd come into Ontario is that they believe they're going to be able to do something similar here. The rules don't allow for that now. I think it's $45 that one would pay -- the Minister of Health would call it a copayment and I call it a user fee -- for an ambulance ride here in Ontario today. That's a flat rate, as I understand it. That in itself is a bit of an imposition. I guess for other, longer rides it could be more. That's for an emergency, I believe.

The point I'm making is that I don't think this corporation would possibly be entering Ontario unless it felt there were new opportunities. You're thinking to yourself as you look at the bill, "How does this relate to the bill which is before the House?" It relates in this way: The police are now going to be competing for those same dollars locally because they're going to have to assume much more of the costs. In the smaller towns, villages, if you will, that have had Ontario Provincial Police service of a high quality, they will now have to pay for those services. That's going to be a new cost for those municipalities.

If they have to pay for those services, if they have to pay for the cost of general welfare, if they have to pay for the cost of family benefits -- which is mother's allowance -- if they have to pay for public health care, if they have to pay for senior citizens homes, if they have to pay for social housing in their area, one wonders how they're going to be able to cope with ambulance services. I remember when I was asking this question, the president of Rural/Metro Corp said something to the effect that he wanted to get into the Ontario marketplace.

There's a substantial difference, I think you will agree with me, between the attitude of Canadians towards health care and the attitude of Americans. That really transcends, for the most part, political affiliations. I suspect that even among the government back bench and all government members who happen to admire the Americanization of many parts of our society, the one area where many, even government members, would draw the line is that of health care services.

I was flabbergasted this afternoon that the Minister of Health would not guarantee that there would not be an increase in the rates for ambulance rides, that there would not be these additional fees, that one would not have to get the credit card out before getting into the ambulance and that it wouldn't be delisted as a service, and I see this happening. I see this happening because of bills of this kind because police services, more and more, will cost the local municipalities.

I know that some of the local police chiefs, in fact probably all of them, are very concerned about this. They heard the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, who they always thought was a hard-liner on law-and-order issues, they knew he was supportive in opposition of adequate resources for police, and now they're wondering why he would bring about a provision in a bill which would allow for a lowering of that level of policing. Despite the fact that the words in the bill say that local municipalities must do certain things, they may not have those financial resources because, again, the police are now going to be competing for far more responsibilities that municipalities have, and we can see a decline in police services.

He mentions getting people -- this had not to do with the bill but the minister did mention it -- having more people on the front line out there. I want to say I agree with him on that. I want to say I think everybody would agree that that is the case, but I see more and more that the police resources are going to be stretched to the limit. I listened to the Attorney General a while ago say that -- I'm not quoting him directly but I believe I'm paraphrasing him appropriately. I saw in the newspaper where he said perhaps the courts won't be dealing with these less important crimes because the courts are clogged, so we've got to deal with the more important crimes.

Mayor Giuliani in New York City in fact has adopted a different attitude, which interestingly enough some people may have sniffed at early and dismissed. Well, it seems to be working. Maybe it needs more analysis, maybe it needs more of a careful look at it, but I'm telling you, it seems to be working. It seems to me that if you've stopped the crimes at the time when people are in the stage of petty theft and petty crimes, the chances are you're going to stop these people from becoming involved in more serious crimes. As far as I can see as an outsider, I'm initially impressed with the results that Mayor Giuliani is achieving in New York City in that regard. The jury is still out on it, but we will see.

I've mentioned the tax cut, which I try to mention in each one of my addresses, because I think everything must be looked at in light of the tax cut. I can't put words in the mouth of the Minister of Municipal Affairs because that would be unfair, but he's the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I'm thinking he doesn't want to be looked upon with hatred -- that's a strong word -- or dislike by the municipalities, and I think in his heart of hearts he probably is saying, "Why would our government possibly cut the income tax, which does not take into account a person's ability to pay, and thrust the cost on to the municipal property tax?" In his riding, by the way, that tax is going to be increasing rather substantially in certain areas as a result of another bill to do with actual value assessment. I can't help but believe that in his heart of hearts the Minister of Municipal Affairs probably would prefer that tax cut not to be proceeded with and allow the local municipalities not to have to drastically cut services.

I should say for Hansard in his defence, he nods no.


Mr Bradley: He says we're not doing it fast enough. I think most people in our society today in Ontario are saying if there's one criticism they have it's that this government is moving too quickly and too drastically and not looking at the consequences of its actions. That's even among those who support you, because I have friends -- not all my friends are Liberals or New Democrats or have no affiliation -- I have some friends who are Conservative supporters and I consider them to be personal friends.

I hear them say to me: "You know, we agree with some of the things this government is doing, but it's moving so quickly. Tell them to take their time. Tell them to assess things. Tell them to be like the Conservative Party of a few years ago that was a cautious, careful party, not one which is a bulldozer, which heads in one direction knocking everything down and breaking the furniture, but rather one which carefully analyses the impact of all government policies." If you had that, I think you'd have some considerable support among even those who don't consider themselves to be Conservatives.


What you've done successfully, I must say, and I don't say this as a point of pride with you, is you've found some enemies out there to point to, to get at, who have been resented by others in society, and you've been successful. I was talking to a person the other day, a person who I would normally have thought would not be a supporter of this government. This person is in the private sector. He's a worker in the private sector, in construction. He said to me: "One thing that government's done, they finally got those teachers. They finally are putting those teachers in their place."

If you look all over society, that's what happens. You see, I understand the richest people in our society supporting this government, I really do. If I were extremely wealthy and if I had no social conscience -- there are wealthy people who have a social conscience, so they would be concerned -- I would be all for this government, because they would be doing everything that I wanted to do. But I don't think a lot of people are that way. The people I am surprised at who support the government are those who will eventually be the victims of this government. They or their children or their grandparents will be the victims of this government.

What you've done is picked out people who people resent -- people on welfare, teachers, public servants and some others -- and you have pointed fingers at those people and said, "We're going to put them in their place." There's some applause when that happens. I guess politically that's successful but I don't know in the long run whether that's -- well, I know in the long run that's not good for our society.


Mr Bradley: I know the member for Wentworth-North must be beside himself when he sees the results of the referendum. Here's an individual who wanted to represent his people, wanted to say, "The Harris government knows how to look after rural people, knows how to look after small town people." So they had a referendum in the Wentworth North area and the municipalities adjacent to the city of Hamilton -- and this government likes referenda usually; when it suits their purposes, they like them; when it doesn't, they don't -- and 95% or 96% of the people rejected the proposal they had for restructuring in that area. Yet the government of Ontario is imposing its will on that particular group of municipalities.

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): What does this have to do with Bill 105?

Mr Bradley: Whenever I say something that strikes a soft spot in the government, one of the government members says, "What does this have to do with the bill?" And my friend from St Catharines-Brock is always assiduous in his efforts to try to get me back on topic. I want to comply with his wishes to see that as we head into the last half of my speech this afternoon.

I look at this in the context of -- you say, okay, the fire department, and you have the police bill. Well, let me tell you what the government wanted to do. They wanted to have very few hearings on this bill and on the bill affecting fire safety in Ontario. They wanted to have a committee throw it together, travel across the province just to a few centres and have a little bit of an input, a show, if I could use that appropriately.

We in the Liberal Party said, "No, you can't have that." We believe the firefighters are right, that there should be hearings in places like Niagara Falls and Windsor and Ottawa and London and Sudbury and Thunder Bay and a number of other communities around the province so we could hear from people on what they think of the fire safety bill, which affects the livelihood of firefighters who have given so much to our province over the years.

They wanted to combine that with this bill and send it across the province. I don't think you could do justice to this piece of legislation and the firefighters' legislation if you combined them and sent them only to a couple of centres.

I think once you get out of the precinct, out of this building, you find out that a lot of people have different opinions. I know some of the government members who are not from Metropolitan Toronto have expressed the view from time to time that the world does not begin and end at the borders of Metropolitan Toronto, or now I guess the greater Toronto area, that in fact there are other views. This is not to denigrate the views expressed in this community; they are very valid, very interesting to hear, but we should also hear the views of people who are elsewhere in the province.

This is in the context as well of the education bill, because these are all the Who Does What bills. They're only going to about half a dozen communities to hear people deal with the education bill and it has great implications. There may be thousands of employees of boards of education. We're not talking about the top people, making a living wage; we're talking about the lower-paid people, some of the people who are clerical, some of the people who keep our schools clean and well-maintained. They could lose their jobs. They could be privatized. They could be put out there and there could be some service that just comes in at $8 an hour and does the work, and they lose all those benefits. So those people are concerned.

We're removing any responsibility for local boards of education. The only people who will be able to afford to run for these positions will be rich Tories. The units are going to be so large that they're the only people who are going to be able to afford it. Look at most of your municipalities and you'll see that the Tories have a hard time getting elected at the ward level, but at regional levels or at county levels, where you have to spend more money or be a well-known, prominent person in the community, then the Conservatives tend to be more successful. The larger units tend to be more right-wing than central. It would be worth an analysis of that to see if that's true. That's an observation I make.

Mrs Boyd: It certainly doesn't work in Perth county.

Mr Bradley: Not in Perth county, no.

It's an observation I make and I see it in so many places. I think it would be worthy of a study by some university, but heaven knows, they won't have the money because they've been cut so much by the provincial government that they couldn't possibly do this kind of study successfully.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is no quorum in the House and this is a very important bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you check for quorum, please.

Acting Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Acting Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I worry as well, in the context of these police services, that you're going to force municipalities into getting into innovative ways through the Provincial Offences Act, which the police have to enforce, to gain money.

That reminds me of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and places like that, particularly in days gone by. I've never been to those places in terms of driving through those little communities, but it reminds me of what people tell me about them, where the local sheriff has some innovative ways of collecting money, where you have a speed limit which says -- they're in miles per hour -- 80 miles per hour, and at the bottom of the hill it'll say 30 miles per hour, and they happen to have two police cars at the bottom of the hill to enforce the limit.

I hope that would never happen in Ontario, but I'm going to tell you that municipalities desperate for funding might well be involved in this kind of practice. I could understand it. I wouldn't condone it, but I could understand it happening, because they won't have the money to carry out their responsibilities.

My community will have a hard time coping with some of the additional police costs and the other costs, because we've had some plants that have closed in our area. As I said in this House, I could see it coming. Some people are wondering how I knew. You can see these things coming eventually.

Foster Wheeler has announced it's closing out its operation in St Catharines. The Mott's company, Cadbury Schweppes, is closing its operation in our community. A portion of Court Industries has closed out its operation and moved to the US. General Motors has gone from about 8,500 to 9,000 employees to about 5,300 employees in our community of St Catharines. Kelsey-Hayes has closed its operation in our community. There's been a general downsizing and some other plants have closed in our area.

You're going to say that has to take away some of the local assessment. When you download, when you dump additional new onerous responsibilities on to municipalities, it means local taxes are going to have to go up and individual taxpayers out there, individual homeowners, apartment dwellers, condominium owners and other businesses are going to have to assume an increasing load as we lose that particular assessment.

That's why, when you have this downloading on to municipalities, you're going to see a lowering of those services or a substantial increase -- I repeat, a substantial increase -- in the local tax levy, which is going to be very difficult.


It was mentioned as well that there are some regulations that can go along with this bill. I'm worried about those regulations. The public should know that regulations are not debated in this Legislature, only legislation. They just happen to slide out one day and appear somewhere, and they affect people. We have to watch for those regulations. The member for Lincoln is busy getting rid of the regulations affecting the environment and consumer protection and so on. We should be retaining those and worrying about the new regulations they're going to bring in under this police act.

I'm also worried that there was very late consultation with citizens' groups in regard to the complaints operation. There was extensive consultation with the police forces -- that's as it should be; there should be extensive consultation there -- but very late in the game some of the citizens' organizations were brought in and one could understand that they believed they were not going to be listened to if they were coming in so late in the game.

I also worry about this happening: My friend the member for Ottawa East raised the issue -- this is raising funds -- of private sector people paying money into the police so they will protect certain services. I think the car dealers' association in Ottawa was paying money to the police force so it could put resources towards theft of automobiles and things of that nature. I really am worried about that. One starts to think, "Do you only get service when you're prepared to put additional money in that coffer?" I think that's not good.

Lastly, this is all in the context of this government closing hospitals in the Niagara region and other places. In St Catharines, the Hotel Dieu Hospital is under the gun, as is a Fort Erie hospital, Douglas Memorial, Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital, Port Colborne hospital and West Lincoln Memorial in Grimsby. All these hospitals, because of a $44-million cut in provincial funding and further cuts to come, are going to be closed unless this government changes its mind. I hope the Premier lives up to his promise when he said, "I have no plans to close hospitals."

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to congratulate my friend from St Catharines for his presentation on this very important piece of legislation.

I note he has talked about the effects in his area, particularly in the Niagara region, but I want to ask him if he is aware that the government has characterized this piece of legislation as an attempt to bring equity in rural Ontario, where you have some areas of rural Ontario, some municipalities, that do not pay for OPP service because historically, years ago, they may have had their own police forces, and when the then provincial government decided to consolidate police services across the province, it promised to provide police service gratis to those local municipalities.

Then there are some other small rural municipalities that do have their own police forces or pay for OPP service. There really is no difference now between the level of service the two types of municipalities receive. However, this is not an attempt to bring equity and ensure enhanced police services for these rural communities, but rather it's simply a dumping of a significant new cost to very small municipalities that are also having new services transferred from the provincial government to their own local property tax base. I wonder how many small municipalities are going to be able to afford to provide the cost. I understand the OPP is now visiting these municipalities and telling them that if they don't make an agreement, they'll simply get a bill in January 1998 that they will have to pay. I don't know what happens if they can't pay. Surely it won't mean that they will lose police services.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a real privilege today to get up and respond to the comments made by the member for St Catharines, but more important, to support our Minister Runciman's courage and commitment to police services and to the very controversial enhancements to the Police Services Act and safety in our community.

Bill 105 to me really has got three main parts to it: Municipal responsibilities have been discussed and debated for many years. Members who have been here for some time would know that. But "[t]he bill allows municipalities to amalgamate, share or create joint boards with more than one...municipality." So this is taking some responsibility and, again, making wise choices and wise use of taxpayers' money. They "may contract with the Solicitor General" to continue with the Ontario Provincial Police if that's who services their community today.

Municipal governance of police forces: Again, because the municipalities are the payors, their appointments to the board make very good sense. I commend the minister for allowing them to have the appointments and depoliticizing those appointments that today some might argue are counterproductive to the delivery of police services boards in Ontario.

I think the police services oversight is also an important change -- but to recognize that the complaint process is still there. It's been streamlined and it's been modernized. It says that the new part V provides for the following: "Complaints may be made by a member of the public about the...police" or police services. In fact, it goes on to say that those complaints must be dealt with in 30 days. It's introducing a bit of accountability and timeliness into the process of complaints which we all know can go on endlessly and perhaps not be as responsive to the person with the complaint. Really this government in this whole thing is being responsive, as close to the level of delivery of service as possible.

Mr Gerretsen: Just a comment on the last member's comment: By making all these decisions locally, you're not necessarily depoliticizing them. As a matter of fact, you may be politicizing them a lot more.

It's interesting what's been happening this week. This week we've had introduced in this House or for second reading bills that have done nothing but download on municipalities. I think we should once again tell the taxpayers of Ontario what's happened here: $182 million -- as a matter of fact, the Solicitor General corrected me; it was not $180 million -- of community police financing has now been downloaded to municipalities.

Yesterday or the day before we heard about the property assessment services that are being downloaded on municipalities at a cost of $120 million. The day before it was the fire services and sewer and water inspections of $10 million that are being downloaded on municipalities. Of course we haven't heard at all about the biggest downloading of them all, or the second biggest: the social housing one of $890 million that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is involved in.

It will be interesting: Once all this downloading has taken place, will there still be a Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing left? Since the municipalities are going to do it all, they're going to pay for it all in both the housing and municipal affairs areas, it may be that the minister's department will be totally gone. The province will have totally washed its hands of any responsibility to the taxpayers of Ontario, so what's the minister going to do then? He won't have a thing to do and he can resign and retire. The better thing he can do, and I've asked him this three or four times today, he can go into committee room 151 right now and do the right thing and withdraw the megacity bill, as so many people who have given testimony there over the last couple of weeks or so have urged him to do. Do the right thing, Minister. Go down there and withdraw the bill.


Mrs Boyd: It's always a pleasure to respond to a speech by the member for St Catharines. We all should recognize that he has reason to be very concerned about policing and about civilian oversight of police and the problems that can go wrong in policing. After all, the Niagara Regional Police were the subject of one of the longest commissions of inquiry into various citizen complaints and indeed provincial complaints that had gone on there. He's well aware of what a touchy issue this is in a community.

Civilian oversight is an extraordinarily important issue to the citizens. The member for Durham East says that this is going to streamline the process of citizen complaints. Well, we know what this government means. We know what "streamline" is code for. "Streamline" is code for shutting down complaints. It's exactly what you're doing in the cutting of the red tape with the Human Rights Code. In every other area, when you want to shut down citizen complaints and make it impossible for people to deal with problems they're facing, what do you do? Your codeword: You streamline, you make more efficient.

What you've done here is that every complaint has to go to a chief of police. We know what chiefs of police say about any wrongdoing of someone on the force. They deny there's any wrongdoing. We have example after example of it.

The member for St Catharines is quite right to say that people are very concerned about civilian oversight of the police and very concerned about the wrongdoing that has been shown again and again to be of concern to citizens.

Police are only as good as their accountability to the people whom they serve, and the people whom they serve are those who are the most vulnerable. It is important for any civilian oversight process to take account of the most vulnerable and not streamline them out of the process.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Catharines has two minutes to respond.

Mr Bradley: I welcome the comments from the members for Algoma, Durham East, Kingston and The Islands, and London Centre. The member for Algoma I think appropriately recognized that I made comment about the local municipalities, the small municipalities that are now going to be stung for the cost of policing in their areas, some who, before, counted upon our Ontario Provincial Police because they haven't had the tax base to be able to pay for this. They haven't got the industrial or commercial tax base that would allow them to have the kind of policing they would like to have, and they're going to be stung by yet another cost from this government.

I was pleased that the member for Durham East intervened, even though he spent most of his time defending the Solicitor General. What I want to say to him is that the government talks a good line when it comes to law and order but doesn't provide the resources. Here's a case where you're going to dump on to the municipalities -- as my friend from Kingston and The Islands said, $182 million of police financing is going to go to the local municipalities.

You can talk big about it but you don't do anything. You talk big and then you force somebody else to pay for the big talk, and they also have to meet a lot of other obligations. Front-line police officers in our area and in other areas of the province are going to be saying, "Are our resources going to be cut as a result of this?" and I say to them, there's a good chance of that happening, despite the fact that the government suggested something else.

The member for Kingston and The Islands appropriately pointed out all the areas of downloading, including social housing. He said it will be an almost $900-million cost to local communities; property assessment now going at a cost of $120 million.

The member for London Centre mentioned the need for adequate consultation before coming forward with a so-called streamlined process in terms of a complaint system.

I appreciate all the remarks of the members. I say that this bill is simply another case of the provincial government dumping its responsibility and funding obligations to the local level.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Kormos: I would have responded, but since I had the chance to speak to it I'll simply echo what the member for St Catharines said about the distinctiveness between Bill 105 and Bill 84. For the life of me, I can't understand why anybody would propose that the two be subjected to the hearing process simultaneously, or side by each, even.

They're two totally different issues. They're very much part of the same picture, but heck, if that were the test, you could put the last 20 pieces of legislation together in the same committee, in that they're all part of the same picture. These are two very different things, and I can tell you right now, in no uncertain terms, that our caucus is insisting on separate hearings for Bill 84.

You know Bill 84, Speaker; I know you do. That's the one that attacks firefighting services across Ontario, that devalues the role of professional firefighters, that subjects them to greater risk to their own personal safety and indeed creates yet-less-safe communities by virtue of its attack on professional firefighting.

That is a bill that's going to require, and we're going to insist on, hearings across Ontario, including down in Niagara region where, I tell you, firefighters are, dare I say it, "hot" over the issue. They've analysed the bill. Firefighters in Niagara, along with their sisters and brothers across Ontario, have looked at Bill 84 and know exactly what the intent of Bill 84 is.

Mr Bradley: There was a huge crowd out front. Remember that?

Mr Kormos: Well, this government ain't seen nothing yet. The firefighters a couple of weeks ago put on a demonstration. Although I have something of an affinity and affection, Speaker, for what you've come to understand is the standard sort of demonstration here in Ontario, and I've been to a couple of them myself, they were as creative, I tell you -- just for a minute, because this is in the context of Bill 105 -- as the demonstrations that occurred last year in, I believe, May and October.

I was over at -- I guess I had to get the lay of the land -- the old city hall provincial court, up in courtroom M, on Tuesday of this week, and the judge bet me, the provincial court judge -- the courtroom scene was incredible. This was a trial for mischief, the criminal offence of mischief. You'll recall that the member for Sault Ste Marie and I raised the follow-up of that, when two of those same persons were arrested after coming to Queen's Park to pray a few weeks ago. They were praying, each to their own God. It was a multifaith organization. Two of them came here to pray, and they had earlier been released on this mischief charge, this Criminal Code offence of mischief. You can go to jail for that. People do go to jail for that. People go to jail for committing mischief.

What happened is, they had been here last year -- and these are people who are part of a congregation and supporters and friends who have developed an acute concern for the homeless and poor kids, children living in poverty, like the one out of three kids here in the city of Toronto supported by social assistance.

But what happened -- you see, we can't isolate Bill 105; it's part and parcel of a larger picture. What happened is that a group of these people, including a clergy person, just a broad cross-section of folks, came here to illustrate their concern and to draw attention to their concern about the growing poverty and hunger of children, among others, that was of course concurrent with this government's attack on the poorest when it reduced support for the poor, unemployed to the tune of 21.6%.

It was funny, because not too long after the government got elected and reduced social assistance support for the poor, they then jacked up the paycheque of every MPP in the Legislature by virtue of a pay raise. Somehow I could --

Mr Bradley: It was a pay cut, wasn't it?

Mr Kormos: Well, Mr Bradley from St Catharines, you were told it was a pay cut, but when you do the numbers it ends up being a pay increase. Interesting, but a pay increase for each and every member of the Legislative Assembly was imposed in virtual juxtaposition with a reduction in benefits for poor people, for people who aren't being given the opportunity to work, as they very much want.

These folks came to Queen's Park concerned about the increasing amount of hunger and homelessness and poverty in Ontario. They very much made the direct political link with this government and its policies, and they were going to demonstrate. They came here to demonstrate and they brought -- they were very careful -- some sacks of earth from a nursery. This is the high-quality potting soil that costs a fair amount of money. They spread a small layer of it on some grassed earth, very careful to keep it away from any area where they might obstruct people walking in and out of the Legislature, and they put seeds in the ground and they put in little plants and tried to pack this very high-quality earth, to compact it around the roots of those little plants. They were going to grow food, they were going to try to grow food so that people could eat. They got busted.


It wasn't you, Speaker, it was the previous Speaker who supervised the intervention of the Ontario Provincial Police. The OPP came and they busted them. They didn't summons them, an experience I thought would have been more suitable and one I'm personally familiar with. They busted them. They hauled them off to the slammer. They held them in custody. They subjected them to a bail hearing.

Mr Wildman: For planting seeds?

Mrs Boyd: Yes, for planting a victory garden.

Mr Kormos: For putting some little seeds in the ground. These people were trying to make a point about the hunger and the poverty and the homelessness. They threw them in jail. I'm told, if I'm correct, they spent overnight in the slammer.

Mrs Boyd: No bail.

Mr Kormos: No bail. They appeared before a justice of the peace who imposed upon them the condition that they not attend at or near within some 500 metres of Queen's Park.

Do you remember -- you're about my age; I suspect you would, Speaker -- back in the 1960s there was a little tune that acquired great -- I remember it was two Parliaments ago that I made reference to being on the Group W bench and the only member who picked it up was Greg Sorbara. That was, I guess, those months in that commune in central northern BC where he was probably -- who knows what he was cultivating up there in north central BC back in the 1960s, but he knew what I was talking about. I very much identified with those guys on the Group W bench at that particular point in my political career.

So here we are just like that scene out of Alice's Restaurant, with the 8 by 10 glossy photos and the circles and arrows on each one, there I am in the courtroom Tuesday morning and there's the judge with his red sash and his long black flowing robes, and there's a court reporter and there's a court clerk and there's bibles and there's flags and there's the seal of office, the coat of arms, and there's police officers, big burly ones with guns pushing out the front of their jackets and there's court security staff, and the trial commenced.

It was a charge of mischief and the evidence was that they put seeds in the ground, and they got busted, hauled off, thrown into the hoosegow, brought before a justice of the peace, subjected to a bail hearing.

This is part and parcel of what we're talking about here. It was Ontario's police that hauled them off. No criticism of the police because it appears there had been something of a nod, and perhaps a nod and a wink, from the Speaker of the day who wasn't going to have any of that nonsense going on down here at Queen's Park where people are putting seeds in the ground -- we will not have anything growing that's nutritious in the dirt around Queen's Park, not this Queen's Park, not this new, Conservative Queen's Park.

Mrs Boyd: Even though it's highly fertilized.

Mr Kormos: These planters were very careful. They weren't going to rely upon the fertilizer that's manufactured here in the chamber; they brought their own. It was high-quality, nutritious fertilizer.

I sat there all morning and watched what must have been tens -- if not more -- of thousands of taxpayers' money -- because there was a crown attorney, a BA, LLB, Lord knows what else -- prosecuting these people, cross-examining and making submissions to the judge. The judge was a modern judge; he had a tabletop PC up there, making notes.

Needless to say -- and I know you've followed the case, Speaker, because down where you're from, very similar to where I'm from, agriculture is an honourable and significant activity. I'm convinced that if Christ hadn't been a carpenter, His second choice would have been a farmer because one is as honourable as the other.

The judge found all three of the people on trial not guilty. The judge said that not only was there no evidence that there was damage to anything around Queen's Park, but in fact there was some evidence from which he could conclude that they had improved or enhanced the value of the lands around Queen's Park by virtue of adding to the grassed area, this very nutritious, high-quality, carefully gathered soil that they had bought from a nursery and very specifically so.

Mr Wildman: And they didn't charge them.

Mr Kormos: And there was no charge to the folks at Queen's Park.

Mr Froese: It cost a lot of money to clean it up, 80 bucks.

Mr Kormos: Mr Froese, who is from Niagara-on-the-Lake, St Catharines-Brock, talked about a lot of money. You see, once again, he does what Tories are inclined to do. He said 80 bucks. The evidence was $40, but he did a multiple of two this time.

Mr Froese: I read it in the newspaper.

Mr Kormos: He did it again. He said he read it in the paper. The paper said $40. For a former manager of a credit union, I've got to tell you, I'm surprised.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is there a quorum present?

The Acting Speaker: Would you like me to check and see? Would the table check for a quorum.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. You will recall that I was relating to you what had happened most recently on Tuesday, February 11 of this week, over at the old city hall provincial courtroom M, when the Queen's Park planters were found not guilty of mischief. I'm grateful to Judge Bentley for his skilful analysis of the law and his consideration of the facts. I suppose I'm apologetic to the police who were drawn into using and felt compelled to use their discretion to arrest these people, and grateful to their lawyer -- you should know that their lawyer was John Norris, a law firm over on 11 Prince Arthur Avenue, who did an excellent job of assisting the court in interpreting the law.

I know it got a lot of attention. The press covered it reasonably well. It got a lot of attention down in Welland-Thorold, throughout Niagara. I was down there last night. What happened was that the member for Rainy River came down with me. We went and visited some of the picketers over at Stelpipe, Page-Hersey, over in the south end of Welland. We went over to the union hall; it used to be the UE hall on Steel Street, and now it's the CAW hall because of the merger. Stelpipe workers have been on strike down in Welland since November 1 of last year. They were forced out on to the sidewalks because Stelco-Stelpipe simply refuses to bargain in anything akin to good faith. Stelpipe workers, some 380-plus of them, have been forced to strike, seeking some parity with the wages of workers in other Stelco subsidiaries and some parity with the pension benefits enjoyed by workers in other Stelco subsidiaries.


Two negotiating meetings had been conducted, one for a mere 10 minutes -- that was called by the union, terminated by the company after a mere 10 minutes -- a second one for a mere 45; the third one, another 10-minute meeting, was held just recently at the request of the company, the request of management, lo and behold, to what end? For what purpose? So that the company could announce that it was pulling everything off the table, that it didn't intend to bargain in good faith.

The leader of my party and I went down there yesterday, spoke with those strikers, tried to buoy their spirits by telling them how proud we were of them, that these were workers who have got strong leadership -- Mitch Labrie is their shop chair and he's been doing a sound and solid job of leading these workers, with their united support. These are people who are very much afraid of the downloading and of the new taxes, along with user fees, that are going to be faced by them and every other property owner in Niagara region. Heck, down in Niagara region, when this government first announced its downloading process, the rough calculations were a shortfall, new taxes for residents, for property owners of Niagara region, to the tune of $31 million. Since then, that's grown to $73 million in new taxes to be imposed on property owners as a result of this government's downloading. Bill 105 is very much part and parcel of that downloading.

This government is downloading and forcing property taxes up to people who can ill afford it. That's why I talk about the workers on the picket lines down at Stelpipe, people like my neighbour Rob Wightman, who's a long-time Stelpipe worker, who doesn't want to be on strike, wants to be back in the factory producing pipe but is confronted by a company that I fear, and I believe too, has what it perceives very much as licence, basically carte blanche from this government, to do what it wants to with workers and collective bargaining units and collective bargaining agreements, quite frankly.

Here's a company that is now -- same old talk. Nothing's really changed. Here's a company that started to talk a big game but it's trying to use the bully tactics; it's trying to engender fear in the community: "Oh, we'll shut the plant down. Maybe we'll have to sell it. Maybe we'll have to restructure it or re-engineer." The same old stuff, the same lines they've been pulling for decade after decade.

I was happy to see that the workers aren't buying it, that the workers at Stelpipe remain strong, remain united. They've got the support of their community. Let me tell you, the wall of the union hall over there on Steel Street, Local 523, is covered with posters, small placards indicating the names of all the small business people who have been supporting that strike and those strikers, those workers who are forced out on to the picket line, the small businesses where I come from, who understand how important it is that workers receive decent wages.

These small businesses understand that when you create a low-wage economy, when you attack work standards, health and safety standards, when you attack wages the way this government has attacked wages, when you attack work the way this government attacks work -- because the fact is that unemployment is higher now in Ontario than it was a year ago, and dramatically so among young people, young people who very much want to have the right and want to participate in the workforce and in the economy in a meaningful way. So small businesses down in Welland understand that a tax on workers and workers' wages also constitutes an attack on small business.

I recall Ms Catherine Swift from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. When she talks about small business, she means some operation with 100 or so non-union employees working for minimum wage. That's her view of what constitutes small business. Catherine Swift would suggest, and has, that low wages for workers mean better conditions for small business people. She would suggest that deregulation of the workplace, that the elimination of minimum wages and health and safety standards and environmental standards, is good for small business.

Down where I come from, small business knows better. They wouldn't give Ms Swift the time of day. Because just like those hundreds of small businesses whose names are posted up now on little pieces of construction paper on the wall of the UE hall down on Steel Street, they know, and that's why they're backing these strikers. That's why they're standing with them; that's why they're contributing goods and services and indeed money to support the Stelpipe workers as they engage in this significant labour struggle. Small business down there knows that when working people win, small business wins too, that when working people win, as they must, with their struggle, fair wages, then small business is going to prosper.

But when Queen's Park downloads on to municipalities, when Queen's Park shifts the load in the commercial tax base from big business on to small business, which it does by the abolition of the business occupancy tax -- you've heard it discussed before. You've heard some of my colleagues explain how the banks at the end of the day will end up paying less while the small businesses, the legitimate small businesses, are going to end up paying more.

The folks over at the Blue Star restaurant -- small business, employs people, has sustained and supported families for three generations now -- are going to end up paying more, while the bank down the road with huge profits is going to end up paying less by way of property taxes.

I'm suggesting that the people in Welland-Thorold aren't that much different from people in other parts of Ontario, and that people in other parts of Ontario understand as well that what this government is doing is a direct attack on communities and on the families who live in those communities and on the workers who want to work in those communities.

One of the things Bill 105 does, and there seems at first glance to be some attractiveness to it -- the Solicitor General pointed out that one of the members of the Liberal caucus indeed congratulated him on including this in his bill, which deals with a number of facets of policing and police oversight. That was calling upon a whole number of municipalities -- it seems like, what, 500-plus -- who have historically been policed by the Ontario Provincial Police and who have the opportunity to continue to be policed by them but now on a fee-for-service basis. The suggestion was, well, every other city that isn't among these listed -- they are 575 -- every other city pays for its own policing, so why shouldn't these? I suppose there's some inherent logic or even fairness in it.

But we're talking about municipalities across Ontario. We're talking about -- well, a town I know rather well is the town of Delhi. I know that city well. I've been there many times and spent a whole lot of time there. My grandparents used to be tobacco farmers out near Delhi, Tillsonburg, so I spent a whole lot of my childhood there. But here's a small community in a struggling economy, especially now with the tobacco industry under great pressure -- and I'm not about to suggest that it shouldn't be -- that's had downloaded on to it millions and millions of dollars of new costs as a result of this government's abandonment of responsibility for things like social assistance and child care and care for seniors and public health, this government's abandonment of any responsibility for public transit, this government's abandonment of responsibility for public libraries.


This government wants to shut down libraries. I'm sure there are communities for which the elimination of government support and supervision of public libraries won't constitute a problem. I'm sure there are small areas of the province that are enclaves of more upscale, perhaps wealthier residents, for whom the cost of maintaining a public library won't be a burden. Maybe it's those same communities that have less occasion to access public libraries; I don't know. I know who uses libraries where I come from. I know who uses the public libraries. It's seniors, for whom the library is a source of leisure, a source of knowledge, a source of community, because they go there to meet other people, to meet other folks, other seniors, retirees. It's a means of having access to the world of reading, among other things, along with computers and videotapes and film and all other sorts of resources, with a shared cost, because it's funded publicly.

Again, where I come from, people understand what it means to share resources and people understand that when you get down to ways of collecting revenue, a progressive tax base is a far fairer way of collecting revenue than is a regressive tax base: to wit, sales taxes or property taxes or, even more so, even more regressive, user fees. This government promised, "No new user fees." The Premier promised, when he was doing his little Ponzi scheme with the voters of Ontario, "No new user fees." Lo and behold, user fees are sprouting like dandelions across Ontario. Not only are user fees flourishing, but libraries are going to be shutting.

I tell you, the public library in Welland and in Thorold and in Niagara Falls -- we were there last night. The leader of my party and I were in the Niagara Falls Public Library. We stopped in and talked to some of the library staff, who were incredibly concerned about what this government is doing to community. These are library workers, and library work isn't traditionally very high-paying. These folks know that, but they work there because they have a passion for what libraries can do for and with and in conjunction with communities.

You've got a town like Delhi that's had the boots put to it by a government that has not created one of the 725,000 new jobs that it promised. It's had the boots put to it, the town of Delhi, by a government that has generated dramatically higher levels of unemployment and joblessness among youth and young people than exist even among their parents. You've got a town like Delhi that's being told there isn't going to be any provincial support for its public libraries so that seniors and, yes, young people -- because not only do retirees and seniors use libraries, but young people do as well. They use libraries, once again, because their public libraries are remarkable sources of resources for learning and for pleasure and for leisure, and they're also part of what makes a community a community. You need these kinds of things in these kinds of places if you're going to have a sense of community.

But now the town of Delhi is being told that it's going to have to pick up, just like that, a tab for policing, yet another cost for taxpayers in Delhi. I tell you, Delhi is very much a seniors' community as well. It's a community of a large number of retirees, of people from all over Ontario, a whole lot of them from the Delhi area or Tillsonburg or Cayuga, all those places around there, who retire there. They have folks from all over Ontario who went to small-town Ontario to retire and who calculated in their budgets, yes, among other things, what are the taxes on this modest retirement home?

You've got the resort area near there -- you know that -- of Turkey Point. Turkey Point: One's imagination begins to explode with visions of Tory backbenchers vacationing at Turkey Point. What an appropriate location.

You've got a town like Delhi that's going to be whacked. It's going to be whacked in the same way -- Mr Marchese, my friend from Fort York, talked about how this government is whacking people with fairness. It's making partnerships out of municipalities. Partnerships, my foot. Municipalities are being held hostage. They're being held hostage.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): What have you got against Turkey Point?

Mr Kormos: The member for Prescott just came to. I mean Brant-Haldimand; Peter Preston. Why did I say "Prescott," Speaker? You're from Prescott. The member for Brant-Haldimand isn't the member from Prescott. I apologize to you, Speaker, very much. The member for Brant-Haldimand just came to and has started to cackle. I suppose the reference to turkeys got him going, because that definitely was a cackle. But there you are.

A town like Delhi's going to get whacked. Who else is on the list? Huntsville: Huntsville's interesting. The ratepayers of Huntsville are going to be called upon to foot the bill for policing, just like that -- no transition, no process. Think about Huntsville for a minute. Think about the policing demands on that community. The fact is that Huntsville's population rises and drops depending upon the season of the year; that the policing demands in Huntsville are far different from what they are for most other communities of a similar size, as they are in Muskoka Lakes, as they are in -- well, let's take a look. I'm sure some of these other communities -- to a certain extent in Barrie, though certainly not as dramatically so as Muskoka Lakes or Huntsville.

Collingwood: Collingwood is going to take the whack, is going to be whacked with fairness, as the member for Fort York says, by this government. The property taxpayers are going to see dramatic property tax increases as a result of this proposition in Bill 105. There's no two ways about it.

Goderich, again a relatively unique community that has some unique policing demands. Wyoming: I've been out to Wyoming out in western Ontario, interesting small-town Ontario. Those people are going to be whacked. There are 575 communities with populations of 712 and 386, like Ailsa Craig, wonderful small-town Ontario. Ailsa Craig, with a population of 947, is going to get whacked with increased property taxes above and beyond the increased property taxes that are going to flow from the downloading, because this government all of a sudden is going to hit on these people for the policing that the OPP have been providing.

Here we go: We look at Wallace, Havelock, Millbrook. All of these are unique communities, 575 of them. Wasaga Beach, again so similar to Collingwood or Huntsville or Muskoka Lakes in terms of a unique community; Wasaga Beach, a community that attracts large tourist populations, that has unique policing demands, far different from any other communities.

Here we are: I think we have a minister who's responsible for tourism. I know that Mr Saunderson bears that title. I even see him from time to time sitting in his seat. I believe I've heard him speak from time to time. I'm not confident that I've ever heard him address anything akin to meaningful comments about tourism, but I'm sure he's been here. I suppose if there were any sort of records kept -- we could review videotape. I'll talk about videotape in short order. We could review videotape and confirm that, yes, there is a minister responsible for tourism who, yes, has been in this House.


I wonder what he's got to say to these communities like Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Huntsville, Muskoka that have some very unique policing demands, that are very much a part of the tourist structure of Ontario and whose property owners are going to be whacked with fairness by this government that wants to take municipalities hostage. This government is taking municipalities hostage in its bid to provide a tax break for the very wealthiest here in Ontario.

Get into northern Ontario: Blind River, Thessalon --

Interjection: Blind River? That's in my riding.

Mr Kormos: Blind River, on the list; Bruce Mines, on the list; communities that are going to be whacked as this government downloads the cost of all the things that were announced by the Minister of Municipal Affairs et al and now are contained in Bill 105 as the tab for OPP policing is passed on to them without so much as a warning or a how-de-do.

White River, Timmins, Cochrane, Hearst, Iroquois Falls, Smooth Rock Falls are looking to bigger and bigger tax bills for property owners because this government has abandoned communities and is looking to those communities to pay for the tax break for the very wealthiest of Ontarians, oh so few of whom are inclined, I suspect, to live -- well, the Minister of Municipal Affairs would be far more intimate with them than I would. We're talking about the Rosedale types, I suppose, not so much the kind of hardworking people who live in Hearst, Cochrane, Timmins, Iroquois Falls or Smooth Rock Falls.

The list goes on: Mattawa, Temagami, Rainy River; Rainy River, population 921 people, 321 households, being whacked with yet higher and higher property taxes because this government is going to download on to them the cost of Ontario Provincial Police policing.

The argument is that this is fairness. You tell me, Speaker, what's fair about a senior just barely making it in Mike Harris's Ontario who is whacked with yet higher property taxes and is forced out of his or her or their home because of property taxes generated by this government, property taxes that become unbearable and well beyond their budget?

What about young families -- where the unemployment nurtured by this government, the unemployment fostered by this government, the unemployment, I tell you, encouraged by this government that penetrates those families, those households of young families -- when they're whacked with these kinds of new taxes, these new property taxes that are blind, oblivious to one's income or one's ability to pay? These are called regressive taxes. You're talking about young families being forced out of their homes, young families being denied all the equity they may have accumulated in their homes over the course of making a down payment and trying to pay down a mortgage over the period of the last few years.

There are 575 communities across Ontario, from the north down to the south, that are going to be whacked by having imposed on their property taxpayers the costing of Ontario Provincial Police. I don't think that's fairness. I don't think that's any fairer than calling upon the poor and the sick and workers and the elderly to fund a tax break for the very wealthiest. Rich people might think that's fair, I'm sure Conrad Black thinks that's fair -- Tubby, as he's known -- I'm sure Barbara Amiel thinks that's fair -- Tubby's spouse, as she's known, the spouse of Tubby -- but I tell you, the seniors in Collingwood, the seniors in Blind River, the young families in Chapleau know it's not fair that they should have new property taxes imposed on them, that they should have imposed on them the cost of Ontario provincial policing so that Tubby and Babs can revel in a tax break. That's not what people voted for when they voted Tory. I suppose that's what they're getting and they'd better awaken, and they are awakening to that.

Fairness? Far from it. Bill 105 is part and parcel of the agenda that has very much as its cornerstone Bill 26. Remember Bill 26? People across Ontario remember it vividly. They remember a Minister of Municipal Affairs who stumbled and muttered, carried on, flubbed questions, flubbed answers and just didn't get it. You recall what the opposition had to do to get hearings on Bill 26, because this government had no concern. First of all, most of this government, even the minister, had no knowledge whatsoever of what was contained in Bill 26 -- none whatsoever. He couldn't answer a question about the subject matter and the impact and effect of Bill 26 if his life depended on it.

On public hearings, the government had no interest whatsoever in facing the rage, the anger and the fear Bill 26 generated across Ontario, including communities throughout regional Niagara. Then when the government members -- they were necktied and silk-suited and sitting there -- were confronted, presentation after presentation, by angry Ontarians who revealed, who exposed and who opposed the intent of Bill 26, some of the government members were surprised there would be such anger at an effort to de-democratize Ontario.

It was a let-them-eat-cake kind of response: "These people should be grateful. These taxpayers, these workers, these unemployed people, these seniors, these retirees should be grateful that Mike Harris and the Tories are going to assume control of the future of their communities, their health care system and their educational system."

I'll tell you what's happening down in Niagara. Boy, a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday evening I was at what I believe is the last of the public hearings by a panel representing the Niagara District Health Council restructuring steering committee. You know what that's all about. It's about this government's agenda to shut down hospitals, to privatize health care, to Americanize it and to create a system whereby the wealthiest have access to it, because they'll have access to privatized health care, while the poorest -- there'll be many more of those -- are forced to wait in lineups, lie on gurneys in hallways and wait for essential surgery, as is increasingly the case.

This government has every intention of shutting down the Port Colborne hospital -- shut it down, close it. This government's oblivious to the fact that it doesn't belong to them, that the Port Colborne hospital was built brick by brick by people in Port Colborne, by workers who checked off the box to have $2, $5 or $10 a week taken from their paycheques at Inco or any number of other places, or over at the Robin Hood.

It was at a time when a $2 checkoff, never mind a $5 or a $10 checkoff, was a whole lot of money. Talk to those folks. They remember that. They remember paying for that hospital, dollar by dollar. They paid for it with their donations, their charitable contributions. Yes, families paid for it with bequests in wills. They helped build it, sustain it and maintain it with their volunteer labour. They were prepared: They understood that their tax dollars helped finance hospital and health care in their community and they were pleased to make that contribution, folks in Port Colborne, just like the folks in St Catharines and Thorold who built the Hotel Dieu.


It's going to be shut down by this government. This government couldn't give a tinker's dam about universal public quality health care in Ontario. Hotel Dieu is a target for this government, Hotel Dieu with some highly specialized care including a major dialysis unit, Hotel Dieu which provides, in contrast but as a complement to the St Catharines General, health care in a spiritual Catholic environment is a target of this government's abandonment of public universal health care.

You've heard over the course of the last couple of days about the encouragement of privatization, of private ambulance services, but more so of ownership and operation by American ambulance companies. You listened to the Minister of Health today mumble some feeble defence of his agreement to permit American ambulance for-profit operators to buy up small-town ambulance services here in Ontario by suggesting that somehow some level of quality is going to be maintained. Take a look. Tell me which major American city's public health care you're overly impressed with. Do you want to pick Chicago, or down at St Vincent's in Manhattan, or do you want to pick any city in the south?

I know there are private clinics. There are very posh private hospitals where the very wealthy who can afford it can have treatment performed. That's exactly the design and the agenda of this government for health care in Ontario. It knows that after it shuts down Port Colborne, that after it shuts down Hotel Dieu and Niagara-on-the-Lake's hospital, that after it shuts the doors there are going to be big holes in health care delivery in the Niagara region.

It also knows that there are American health care operators lined up at the Peace Bridge ready to fill those gaps, ready to fill those holes, to do it on a for-profit basis and to do it in a manner that's going to set us back decades and generations, and that's going to attack the public health care system that so many Ontarians and Canadians worked for, paid for, made sacrifices for, and to which they are incredibly committed.

Just as I make that observation, I also observe that the meeting I was at over at the CAW hall, Local 199, at Bunting Road in St Catharines was filled to overflowing by people from Niagara region who were saying, "Hell, no, to Mike Harris and his gang of thieves." That's what it is, it's theft. For this government to confiscate public assets, as it does when it shuts down hospitals, for this government to engage in that sort of confiscation of public assets, the assets of the people of Port Colborne and Thorold and St Catharines, when it seizes them to shut them down so that it can make room for its profit-driven corporate friends from the United States -- do you think the American entry is in any way anathema to this government? Think again, please.

Just take a look at the Ministry of Transportation: the minister's defence of an American contractor to paint those lines on the expanded QEW down in Niagara region. The issue was raised with the Minister of Transportation. He was happy as a pig in a barnyard that an American company would be contracted with, paid Ontario taxpayers' money to come over here and do work that unemployed Ontarians would dearly love to be doing.

The issue was raised again when the minister, rightly or wrongly, embarked on his little Burma Shave passion and is going to sell roadside advertising. Well, lo and behold, who does this government award the contract to, to prepare those signs, to create the artwork and the signs themselves? Another American company, doing work that Ontarians dearly want to do.

So don't tell me this government doesn't have a design about creating unemployment. These were two obvious examples wherein this government could have provided jobs for hardworking, skilled Ontario workers. It abandoned those workers, left them wallowing in poverty and the unemployment that causes it and preferred to give the work to American contractors.

This government is gung ho, its arms are wide open, ready to embrace that lineup of American profiteers and entrepreneurs lined up at the Peace Bridge who are coming over here ready to reap the spoils of the ravaging of public institutions by the gang of Tories who hold power for the moment here in Ontario at Queen's Park.

We know that Bill 84, part of the overall picture, one of the pieces of the puzzle, is going to accommodate and indeed encourage private firefighting services. I tell you that Bill 105, the bill we're discussing right now -- you knew that, Speaker -- is going to have the capacity to do much the same for policing.

Let's take a look at what Bill 105 dramatically does when it comes to the historical independence of policing. In this province and in this country we've always regarded police to be independent -- at least we hoped they were independent of the politics of the day. Mind you, some recent events here at Queen's Park cause one to doubt whether the police have been permitted to remain independent.

I told you I heard the evidence at the provincial court on February 11 over in courtroom M at old city hall, where the Queen's Park planters were found not guilty of the charge of mischief and where the evidence as presented was to the effect that the police acted, effecting the arrest and taking these people into custody, after getting, I suppose I could describe it briefly as a wink and a nod from the then Speaker -- no longer Speaker; then Speaker. It seems to me that a wink and a nod can be as meaningful a politicization of the police as can an overt command or instruction.

More recently, you'll recall -- do you realize that a couple of members of this Legislative Assembly had the gall, the audacity, the boldness to get in a car in the wee early morning of November 7 -- because what had happened was that the Attorney General of the province, as he would like to call himself or has he purports to be, responsible for the family support plan, had day after day been telling this Legislature and the people of Ontario and the victims of the mismanaged and bungled family support plan that the failure of the FSP to deliver moneys rightly owned by thousands of women and their children, their little kids, was but glitches in a system that otherwise was up and running. He created a mega-FSP. You'll remember that. His mega-FSP worked about as well as the megacity is going to work here in Toronto, because Charlie Harnick --

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Could you refer to the members by their riding, please.

Mr Kormos: Good, because I'd rather refer to him by his riding than as Attorney General. Reference to his riding is probably far more accurate than reference to him as Attorney General.

The Acting Speaker: "Attorney General" will do as well.

Mr Kormos: Will "Attorney General" do?

The Acting Speaker: It will do as well under the rules.


Mr Kormos: The member for Willowdale, who was the Attorney General, shut down eight of nine regional offices for the family support plan, shut them down -- bang -- just like this government wants to shut down the hospitals down in the Niagara region; Port Colborne General -- "Shut 'er down." Hotel Dieu -- "Shut 'er down." It doesn't matter that Niagara has an aging population that's increasingly in need of health care. It doesn't matter that these hospitals provide emergency services. It doesn't matter that Hotel Dieu has some highly specialized services that are virtually irreplaceable, like the dialysis unit, and it would cost millions of dollars to replicate, I suppose, to create again. "Shut 'er down."

This government took eight of nine regional offices and it shut 'em down and it took 290, give or take a couple, hardworking, skilled, trained, talented staff and shut them down, created 290 newly unemployed people here in Ontario, people who previously had been working hard in a program that was designed to ensure that moms and their kids got the support payments that were being paid by their usually former spouses through the workplace.

Our constituency offices were being besieged by calls of complaint. Workers, the husbands, the fathers, were getting the moneys deducted from their cheques. The moneys were being sent to the family support plan, to the Attorney General, but weren't getting delivered to the rightful recipients. Questions were raised by members of the opposition: by the member for Sudbury East, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, the member for London Centre, the member for Riverdale, each and every one of us. This became the number one, largest complaint being received by our offices.

We asked the Attorney General day after day what the problem was, and he insisted day after day, week after week, literally month after month that the system was up and running, that he had created a mega-FSP office up in Downsview and that it was a far cry better than what had been delivered by the eight regional offices he shut down, that the staff working up there at that FSP office in Downsview were providing far better service than the 290 trained, skilled, competent, hardworking staff he terminated when he shut down those eight regional offices.

Two MPPs from the opposition, after hearing this day after day and week after week, figured that something was out of sync, and who would want to think that the Attorney General had lied? Certainly nobody wanted to indicate that he lied because that would be unparliamentary. Why is it unparliamentary to call somebody a liar but it isn't unparliamentary to lie, Speaker? Why, on the occasions when members have stood up and called the Attorney General a liar, have they been asked to withdraw, but when the Attorney General lied day after day he wasn't asked to withdraw?

There's something very ironic about that. There's something that, again, is out of sync. It's okay to be a liar here but it's not okay for somebody else to call you one. I figure the far greater offence is to be a liar rather than to identify them as they pop up in the front or second rows from time to time.

Two members of the opposition took a morning drive along with a cameraperson to Downsview, eager to observe and indeed photograph this mega-FSP office of the Attorney General's, eager to film the workstations occupied or ready to roll and the files being processed, because that's what the Attorney General had been saying day after day after day. What did two opposition MPPs find and what did they record on videotape?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Tell us.

Mr Kormos: Three floors of chaos: confidential files of the family support plan from across Ontario sitting in unsealed cardboard packing boxes in public, readily accessible hallways, not even given the dignity of being put behind doors. Now we knew what some of the problem was, why the files were sitting, gathering dust in a public hallway in unsealed cardboard boxes.

This is high-tech, this is corrugated cardboard, the high-tech of this Attorney General. There it was. My goodness, we started to open unlocked doors to find files strewn about the floor, their contents readily visible to anybody who would want to look: Computers piled, and this was all videotaped, one on top of the other, their cords dangling like, well, unused, gathering dust, in a mess. Chaos.

The third floor we visited -- this was supposed to be the guts of the operation; this was supposed to be where it was all happening: dead space, nothing, zero, zip. Then we knew what had happened to all those women and their children, literally thousands of them who weren't getting moneys that were rightly theirs. They were among the cardboard boxes piled helter-skelter in the hallway. They were the victims of workstations that weren't being worked at. They were the victims of an Attorney General who shut down the family support plan, who shut it down with no concern whatsoever about the plight his abuse and his lack of interest in the family support plan would create for thousands of women and their kids.

Let's make this perfectly clear: The moneys that are owed these women aren't taxpayers' dollars. They're support moneys that are being paid by ex-spouses and fathers of children being deducted through the workplace, moneys that are being paid to the Attorney General that are being pocketed by the Attorney General but not being paid out. I know what they call that where I come from. It seems that the standards are a little bit different with this government than they are with most of Ontario.

So what's the response, Speaker?

Mr Preston: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I believe the member of third party has just said that the Attorney General is pocketing money that is going to his department.

Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): No.

Mr Preston: That's what he said, that the Attorney General is pocketing the money, and I don't believe that is in order.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order: My friend from Welland-Thorold could never have suggested that the Attorney General would be pocketing the money he has failed to pay out for the family support plan. His pockets are not nearly --

The Acting Speaker: Okay, member for Algoma, could you take your seat please?

Mr Wildman: The fact is, he was referring to the government pocketing the money.

Mr Preston: He explicitly said the Attorney General was pocketing the money.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): The member for Algoma knows how deep the pockets must be.

The Acting Speaker: Could I have order please? It's a little hard to think with all the noise, especially -- I forgot my colleague's riding here. I didn't hear, I must admit. Somebody just came to speak to me.



The Acting Speaker: That's right, briefly, which happens from time to time. I did not hear exactly what was said. If the member for Welland-Thorold is aware that he's said something that is unparliamentary, I give him the opportunity now to withdraw it and that will be the end of it.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker.

Here we've got millions of dollars --

The Acting Speaker: I would also at this time like to remind the member for Welland-Thorold -- I've been listening carefully to try to find the connection between Bill 105, which we're debating, and your subject matter. I'm sure you're going to come back to 105 any minute now.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker.

So here we are, because what we're talking about is the politicization of the police. I talk to you, Speaker, about the wink and the nod by the then Speaker to the OPP when they busted people who were putting seeds into the ground outside Queen's Park. They busted them, threw them in jail. They hauled them off. I call that an effort to politicize the police.

Now, what's the response of the government after two opposition MPPs come back with videotape illustrating that the Attorney General --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you again. I am trying to find the connection between Bill 105 and your speech at the moment and I can't find it. Could you please come back to the bill we're debating today. Thank you.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker.

We're going to reach the point where this bill will permit municipalities to determine the budgets, indeed compel municipalities to determine the budgets of police services boards, which will have as its effect the politicization of police. To take you to that point, Speaker --


Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly.

To take you to that point, Speaker, look at the politicization of the police, because here we've got an Attorney General -- the fact remains that there are thousands, millions of dollars being paid into the Attorney General by workers who were fulfilling their support obligations. Their children didn't get the money; their former spouses didn't get the money. Somebody had the money. It wasn't in the paycheques of the husbands whose paycheques were being deducted. It wasn't with the employers, because in virtually each and every case the employer confirms that the employer sent it to the Attorney General.

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As the previous Speaker pointed out, there is a requirement in the standing orders that when we are in debate, we debate the bill before us. Bill 105 does not deal with the subject area which the member for Welland-Thorold is speaking to at this time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr John R. O'Toole): Yes. I would encourage the member to stick to the topic for debate.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker.

What's the response? The response is to politicize the police. It's exactly what Bill 105 does. I know the member for Mississauga South has read the bill and I know she regrets having risen on her point of order -- and I appreciate your apologies, ma'am. I know she regrets having risen on a point of order, because here we are: We've got a dramatic departure from the historical independence of police from political supervision. That's why we have a police services board which historically has had a majority of provincially appointed members. That's why the creation of a police budget has been the function of the police services board.

I appreciate that there has been, of course, interplay between a police services board and the municipality because they have to then look to the municipality to generate the moneys for that police budget from tax revenues. I appreciate as well that oftentimes there are protracted negotiations.

I know that down in regional Niagara the cops have been cut to the bone. They've cut and cut and cut. Let's put this in the Niagara context again for a minute.

I mentioned more than a few communities, places like Collingwood, Muskoka, Huntsville, that have unique policing demands and that this government and this province is going to whack with fairness by compelling them to pick up the tab for Ontario provincial policing.

You know what I'm talking about. We're talking about high tourist areas where there's an exceptional load or demand on policing far beyond the capacity of the community to pay, and there is. These communities, along with a lot of others on this list of 575 mostly small towns in Ontario that are going to have the cost of Ontario provincial policing downloaded on them, are part of this province's long-held tourist base, tourist structure.

I talked to some Niagara Regional Police about this particular provision, the significant change in (1) who determines the budget -- it will now be the municipality rather than the police services board -- and (2) the structure of the board, which will no longer consist of a majority of provincial appointments. To be fair, I have some mixed feelings because through the government agencies committee I've seen the quality of appointments to police services boards by this government and I suppose, having made that observation, one might feel relief that there were fewer, not more provincial appointments to police services boards.

I've also seen the types of people -- ah, but you know what's remarkable? Did you see in the newspaper the report of the successful litigation by Jerry Kovacs, among others, against this government when they sued the butt off this government in Divisional Court for prematurely terminating their appointments as vice-chairs of the Ontario Labour Relations Board? They won. This government fouled up, it screwed up. The court found that it had no right terminating, prematurely and without cause, Jerry Kovacs and others who have been appointed as vice-chairs of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

You'll know that this government tried to dump, among others, Marion Dewar from the Ottawa area police services board. One of the observations we've had a chance to make on that committee is that they seem to have something against women on police services boards.


Mr Kormos: Well, Marion Dewar, the failure to reappoint Melva Snowling in Niagara region, the failure to reappoint Adele Tanguay. Let me talk about Melva --

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm outraged by the comments of this member for Welland-Thorold. As he well knows, we are very respectful of females in this caucus. I'd like an apology from him, please.

The Acting Speaker: I caution the member to stick to the topic at hand, and also with respect to imputing motives, I think that's not relevant to Bill 105.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. So let's look at the history because we're talking here about --

Mrs Johns: I want an apology.

Mr Kormos: We're talking here about provincial appointments to police services boards and we're talking about a government --

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat. I encourage the member, if he feels what he said was in some way offensive, to withdraw the remark, or likewise, but to the member for Huron, the member has the floor. He's supposed to be sticking to Bill 105. You've made your point, and I'd ask you to continue.

Mr Kormos: Thank you, Speaker. I've had an opportunity to observe, as a member of the government agencies committee, this government's history when it comes to appointments to police services boards. We witnessed not just the failure to renew the appointments of women to police services boards -- and again I'll speak very directly about Melva Snowling and Adele Tanguay, both of whom had been highly respected, highly regarded members of the Niagara Regional Police Services Board, both of whom had the support of their fellow board members, had the support of the regional chair, had the support of police officers, cops, just plain cops, yet who were denied reappointment, replaced by two male appointments.


I regard the even more dramatic termination of Marion Dewar before her term of service had even expired. That's why I raised the Kovacs case and the fact that he whupped this government good -- thank goodness for some justice in the courts -- because they had terminated his appointment. Marion Dewar is involved, so far as I'm aware, in similar litigation.

You want to talk about this government's attitudes towards women? You've heard comment about the appointment of judges by this government and just who those happen to be. You've heard contrasted the record of the previous government and its attorneys general and their appointment of women to the bench with the record of this government and its Attorney General and the failure to give any recognition to the need for women to be as well represented on the bench as men, or, for that matter, for visible minorities, persons with disabilities etc. Indeed, the question was raised by my colleague that this government seems to be assuming there's no such thing as competent women, because this government insists that it appoints competent people. I say this government and its members and its backbenchers maybe should be a little more vociferous in caucus about the issue.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We've been listening to this member for well over an hour, almost an hour and a half, talk about everything but this bill. Different members of the House have asked the different speakers we've had today to make a ruling that this member simply stop going on his usual rants and try to stick to the topic of the bill. I think, quite frankly, his time should be stopped.

Mrs Boyd: Draw some blood, David.

Mr Tilson: Well, you simply must stick to the topic. We have rules --

The Acting Speaker: Member, would you take your seat. Would the member take his seat, please.

The member for Dufferin-Peel has made the point that you're again veering off the subject of the debate, Bill 105. I would ask the member to pay heed in respect for the House and respect for the members who are listening to the debate and comment specifically on the bill. Thank you very much.

Mr Kormos: I understand that for some it's difficult to look at things in the overall picture. I understand that. We're talking very clearly here about appointments by the government versus appointments by the municipality, and in the context of that we've got to look at this government's record when it comes to appointments. Look, I was starting to side with the government when I was suggesting that maybe it is better that the government have fewer appointments to the police services board, because this government's record when it comes to appointments is so dismal and pathetic. I say that cognizant of the fact that these guys may be the government today, but they won't be the government after the next election. I have no hesitation in --


Mr Kormos: Oh, I hear them squealing and hollering -- the fury that that's generated. But you know what? I said the same thing to Liberals in 1989 and the early part of 1990 and they squealed and carried on and laughed. And you know what? I think there were more than a few people who said it to New Democrats. I understand that.

The fact is that this government is embarking on the most dangerous, treacherous course of what it would prefer to call a revolution: Bill 105.

Remember I talked to you, Speaker, about we're looking at a total picture here? We're looking at pieces of the puzzle. Some are bigger than others, some are part of the frame and the border, some are part of the very central part. You can't hold one piece of a puzzle up and say, "Now I know what the picture is," can you, Speaker? I noticed you raised your eyebrows and remarked on that observation with body language; not speaking, because of course the Speaker doesn't speak, which is the same irony about how it's okay to lie here but it's not okay to call somebody a liar. I find that a real paradox, a real contradiction. If I call the Attorney General a liar, I'm out of order, but if the Attorney General lies, it's kosher, it's cool, it's smooth.

Here we've got Bill 105. Part of the puzzle is very much 105. What's the impact of permitting municipalities to acquire the majority of appointments, understanding that this government's record of appointments is pathetic but understanding as well that -- you see, it's not because it's patronage. I understand patronage. Patronage is age-old and it's a part of the system. Other governments have engaged in patronage; this government joins patronage with incompetence. That's when it becomes really sad. I say that without hesitation: This government not only indulges in patronage but joins patronage with incompetence. Patronage is fine if the people who are being appointed are competent, but you should have seen some of the dogs that were walked through the government agencies committee. You should see some of them. You could hear them barking all the way down the hall.

When I talk to cops about this, they express concern, because they've already witnessed the constant struggle and tension between police services boards, which determine budgets for their police services boards, and regional municipalities or municipalities -- I guess just non-regional municipalities. What's going to happen here is that municipalities that have been whacked by fairness by this government, that have been taken into partnership, held hostage, if you will, by the provincial government -- some partnership. I guess at some point the Stockholm syndrome comes into play and you start appreciating or enjoying the torment. I don't think the people of Ontario, least of all the people in Welland-Thorold or across Niagara, are going to succumb.

What we've got here is a police services board that becomes very politicized because it becomes dominated by municipal appointees, the same municipalities that now have the responsibility to set police budgets. So police and police services boards aren't going to have the independence and freedom to assess what's necessary, to give effect to appropriate policing in their community, indeed even to advocate for an appropriate budget. As municipalities become harder and harder hit and harder and harder financially pressed by this government, then municipalities are going to become less and less capable of responding to the real policing needs of their community.


We made reference to this earlier. You conjoin this with the amendments to the Provincial Offences Act, which will put police in the role of revenue collectors because municipalities are going to acquire the responsibility to prosecute certain -- again, the more modest or less serious, I suppose, provincial offences, things like seatbelts, speeding offences up to a certain limit, Liquor Licence Act offences, things of that ilk. The municipality is going to be charged with the responsibility to police and prosecute those but they will also be entitled to keep the revenues they obtain from them. What you're going to see is municipalities increasingly directing their police to attend to, well, yes, these less serious offences. I'm not suggesting seatbelts shouldn't be worn or that police shouldn't be enforcing seatbelt legislation. Police are going to be called upon to engage in policing activities that will have the effect of raising revenue for the municipality. I tell you, that's politicization of the police.

It's wrong for an Attorney General to give cops directions. It's wrong. Police have to be allowed to investigate and just lay informations, using a discretion that's acknowledged on their part, without being driven by political pressures, or, I say to you, by the sort of monetary pressures this government is imposing on municipalities.

The transfer of power to the municipality by virtue of reducing the number of provincial appointees or increasing the number of municipal ones -- six of one, half a dozen of the other -- and by imposing upon municipal councils the responsibility for setting budgets is going to be disastrous. I'm telling you, it's going to put police officers at risk and it's going to put communities at risk as communities increasingly become underpoliced.

Just as this government has given licence, gone carte blanche for the corporate world, and just as it opened the door to organized crime with its introduction of slots, it's now giving a tip of the hat and a nod of the head to criminals, because Bill 105 is going to have the effect of defunding policing across Ontario. Accompanying that, of course, and we talked about this when it came to health care, are going to be the vacuum, the gaps, the holes that are left. It's going to be where prosperous neighbourhoods, American-style, are going to be hiring private police to police their neighbourhoods.

Mr Bradley: Mississippi North.

Mr Shea: Jim, how do you always manage to have American examples?

Mr Kormos: Well, quite frankly, we witnessed it in St Catharines just recently over the course of the last year and a half since this government was elected to power. No criticism of the Niagara Regional Police, but the level of defunding that had occurred already forced business owners along one commercial strip in St Catharines to hire private police. No ill will towards the Niagara Regional Police but they simply understood that the Niagara Regionals weren't adequately resourced to police those businesses, so they hired private police with guard dogs to patrol their neighbourhood.

The same vacuum, the same big gaps and holes are being created in health care where American-style HMO, private health care operators are lined up at the Peace Bridge ready to come and make profits off the sick.

This government, with Bill 105, is insulting and assaulting every police officer in the province of Ontario. This government talks a big game when it comes to law and order. The best it can come up with is ersatz boot camps and privatized jails run by Wackenhut or Pinkerton's or whatever the security firm of the day might be. This government, with Bill 105, is completing the puzzle, yet another piece of that broader picture -- and there's so much more. Is my 90 minutes really up, Speaker? There's so much more.

I'm going to tell you, we're not voting for Bill 105. I'm telling you right now. The failure to consult on the issue of oversight -- and that will be addressed further --

Mr Shea: We seek unanimous consent to extend -- Mr Speaker, I move that we allow the member to continue for another hour.

Mr Kormos: The Speaker is going to rule there was unanimous consent.

Mr Gerretsen: Why should we when you voted against it?

Mr Kormos: I was careful to support that proposition. But I tell you, in case I didn't mention it, we're not going to be supporting Bill 105, certainly not in its present form.

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

Mrs Marland: It is indeed gratifying that the member for Welland-Thorold finally, in his very last sentence, referred to the bill that he was supposed to be addressing for 90 minutes.

I want to put on the record a quote from the NDP Solicitor General, David Christopherson, that was in the Ottawa Citizen in December, 1993, because this is relevant to the previous speaker's comments. The quote is this, and it's a quote on fair financing of police services: "It is our intention to implement equitable police financing, which means all Ontarians pay their fair share of policing, and right now we don't have that. We'd like to obviously do it as quickly as possible because we'd like to institute fairness." The former Solicitor General, David Christopherson.

I'm tempted, in responding to the comments by the member for Welland-Thorold, to quote an old philosopher who once said, speaking on some words of wisdom, that, "Sometimes the relationship with the truth may be purely coincidental." In light of some of the things the member for Welland-Thorold has said this afternoon about what is government policy, what direction we are going, I think that quote is appropriate.

I also need to tell the member that over 200 police services board appointments have been made to date by our government. We have reappointed almost one third of all police services board appointees, many of whom are women. His own party, I might add, is somewhat sexist because they elected a man over a very capable woman. We have also put numerous qualified women on police services boards. I think it's interesting that you're talking about patronage and you're defending the appointment of Marion Dewar, who was a --

The Acting Speaker: The member's two minutes has expired. Further comments?

Mr Bradley: I found the member's speech most entertaining and enlightening throughout. He was able to deal with a number of issues. I heard him make mention in the latter part of his remarks to the Americanization of the ambulance service in Ontario. He would know that the company Rural/Metro Corp, just over the border in New York state, charges a $218 flat fee for getting into the ambulance and getting basic life support, $350 for advanced life support. They charge mileage of $5.45 a mile, and equipment, if you want oxygen, you pay $26.80, or an IV.

I'm wondering whether the member believes this is the opening of the door to the Americanization of the system of health care in this province and whether he believes the undertaking of the Minister of Health that somehow these prices won't be increased, that this service will not be delisted or removed from OHIP coverage, and people will not have to pay up front before they get into the ambulance.

I know he mentioned this, an issue that I raised in the House this afternoon. I'd like his comments on that certainly, and I want to know whether he is concerned about the fact that the president of the press gallery, Mr Richard Brennan, was interrogated by the Ontario Provincial Police over a report that he was able to obtain and look at which dealt with the influence of the underworld or the criminal element in gambling enterprises in the province, a report that we in the opposition wanted to demonstrate why the government shouldn't allow VLTs in every bar, in every restaurant, on every street in every municipality in Ontario.


Mr Wildman: I wanted to congratulate my colleague from Welland-Thorold for a very comprehensive, insightful, imaginative exposé of this government's whole approach. I was pleased that he had the time to put it in the context of the overall campaign of this government to downsize and privatize and unload and download throughout the province. I think it was very important that we understand, as he said a number of times during his presentation, that one cannot understand the whole picture by simply looking at one piece of the puzzle, that it was important we understand that Bill 105 is part of an overall downloading by this government, an approach that I think had, as he said, ramifications for the future of policing in this province that are quite disturbing.

I note that the member, who I know has some significant expertise and experience in this regard, was talking about what it may be in future with regard to politicizing of the police. He indicated that on some occasions even now, with the provincial government having the main responsibility for policing in the province, it appears on a couple of occasions with, I think he used the term "a wink and a nod," the powers that be have been able to influence the police into laying charges which some might say were rather frivolous, such as, I understand, planting seeds at Queen's Park.

I also understand, although I find it very hard to believe, that it appears the Attorney General may have influenced or suggested the charge of two members of this Legislature.

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

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I would request, actually I would demand, the latitude of this House to wander from my remarks to the question of Bill 105 as did the Speaker who put in the last hour and a half. I would like to make this comment that we have listened to the epistle according to Saint Peter and that yes, my mom and dad told me about the 1960s. I would like to put on record that today is my father's birthday. He was born in the year 1902. He's seen a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly of Ontario, and I'm sure he feels very comforted in the changes that our Solicitor General is proposing in Bill 105.

Many municipalities for years and years have asked that we even the playing field for the costs of policing. Indeed, the member across in the last hour and a half didn't mention how, by giving communities and municipalities the residential taxes to pay for these costs, they may very well come out having more money than they do now. I think he should maybe clear that up in his remarks, because it is a setoff. Yes, communities are going to have to pay for their policing who didn't have to pay for it before, and yes, municipalities would have to pass over their education dollars like they did in the past.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Welland-Thorold. Make your two-minute summation.

Mr Kormos: I want to wish a very happy birthday to Mr Johnson, who should be 95 today, or thereabouts.

Mr Bert Johnson: Not yet. He's 94.

Mr Preston: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I brought up a point of order a while ago. The Hansard cannot deliver it until Monday morning, but the former Speaker gave the opportunity to the member to withdraw his remarks and he chose to ignore it. I would like to give the member the opportunity --

The Acting Speaker: I'd ask the member for Brant-Haldimand to take his seat.

Mr Preston: I was just going to give him the opportunity --

The Acting Speaker: I'd ask you to take your seat. I'd have the member know further that the Chair previously ruled on that point of order and did not find it to be such. I would ask the member for Welland-Thorold to sum up in his concluding remarks.

Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly, Speaker. I appreciate the comments made by my friends; those by my detractors, I recognize them for what they're intended to be. It doesn't particularly phase me.

I'm concerned about the defensiveness of this government with respect to its record concerning women. I say this government has an atrocious record when it comes to the role of women in boards, agencies, commissions, including police services boards, and more so in terms of the protection of women who are the victims of abuse and violence.

This Bill 105 is going to be the subject matter of significant debate. It's also necessary that it be put out to committee. We've only been able to touch the surface, and I know I'll have opportunities to address other portions, but it's bad law and it's bad policy.

Mr Bert Johnson: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I said my father was born in the year 1902. It was 1903.

The Acting Speaker: The record stands corrected. Bert, you should have known.


The Acting Speaker (Mr John O'Toole): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. Further, the member for Welland-Thorold has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given yesterday by the Premier. The member has up to five minutes to make his point on this matter and the Premier or his parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I should indicate that it was with the unanimous consent of the House that Ms Martel's, the member for Sudbury East's, request for what's colloquially known as a late show was given me so that I could speak on her behalf. She can't be here at 6 o'clock.

I'm happy that the parliamentary assistant to the Premier is here today to defend the Premier for the Premier's inability to speak in a straightforward way in response to the question of Ms Martel, the member for Sudbury East, about the foulup, the botch-up, the mess, the complete state of chaos, the bungling of the family support plan up in Downsview.

It's about time, because everybody else in the province knows it. The videotape which has been broadcast over and over again on news broadcasts, on public affairs shows, who knows, may have made it into some underworld of samizdat, where what type of strange personalities would want to have taped off television the videotape of Ms Martel and me going to the family support plan office and revealing that the emperor has no clothes, that the system wasn't operational, wasn't close to operational, in fact was in a total, pathetic, complete shambles.

The Premier likes to shrug off his Attorney General's incompetence. The Premier wants to just dismiss the agony and pain and suffering of literally thousands now of women and their kids who haven't received moneys owed to them because the Attorney General bungled. He fouled up his operation of the family support plan. I understand that it's hard for the Attorney General, after having stood in this House day after day after day telling the whole world or anybody who would care to listen that the plan was operative, that his mega-FSP was working. He said that day after day. I understand it's hard for him. Having been confronted with the videotape and the reality of the fact that he simply mismanaged the whole project, it's hard to apologize and say that he was wrong. I understand that. It's even harder, I suppose, for the Premier -- or as hard for the Premier -- to acknowledge that this government screwed up the FSP. They bungled it. It was gone.


I also appreciate that the parliamentary assistant, who makes a little stipend for being the PA -- here he is. He didn't screw it up; the Attorney General screwed up the plan. He didn't stand in the House and dismiss Ms Martel and her concerns about the plan with a sense of arrogance. I suspect the parliamentary assistant has as much concern about the state of that family support plan, after the Attorney General shut down eight regional offices and laid off 290 staff. I think -- I don't know this for a fact -- the parliamentary assistant was receiving phone calls at his constituency office too, and I know he's concerned about stuff like that.

He stands up today and talks about the new plan, you know, the new bill, Mr Parliamentary Assistant, the one that was passed with much fanfare but which still isn't operative because you haven't got the structure to put it into effect. The plan is still lamely struggling along. That plan would have to be a Lazarus to be operative, because it was virtually euthanized by the Attorney General -- I was going to say former Attorney General but he's not the former Attorney General yet.

I say it's arrogant, it's cynical and it's just not fair to the people of this province for this government to try to hide that dirty little secret at Downsview when the whistle's been blown and the videotape has been broadcast again and again. The plan was out of order. It had been out of order for months. The Attorney General either had no idea what was going on in Downsview -- I must say nobody up there seemed to know who he was -- or didn't care.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The Chair recognizes the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, the member for Brampton South.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It is with a considerable amount of surprise that I stand here this evening to participate in this particular late show, but I thank the honourable member for Welland-Thorold for his comments. They are always valuable in this chamber of debate.

The honourable member has made reference to his particular views about what he called the chaos in the family support plan system. My colleague from Milton, the honourable member for Halton North, seemed to recall that it's something like Dante's Inferno, which reminded me of a quote that Dante made in Paradiso where he said, "Be as a strong tower that never bows its head to the force of the wind." I will not bow my head to the force of the wind in this chamber. I want to assure the honourable member of that.

If there is a Dante's Inferno or a chaos that has been created, it has been inherited from the previous regime. There were a number of grave faults that were found in the family support plan which divided children from the recompense they needed in order to live a life that was necessary in our society. That was something that our government made great plans, with alacrity, to create a system that would work for the children of our province.

Sometimes plans go awry, but the plans went awry because his party, the member for Welland-Thorold's party, held up in this House for days and days the final plan while children waited and their mothers and their fathers waited for a plan that would work. They waited for a solution from the government. We came up with a solution that bore down on those who were abusing the system, that cleaned up some of the administrative mess that was left by the former regime and then put into place a system that would allow those who had no need of the government and had no need of the plan in force to opt out of that plan so they can make their own private arrangements. But for those who genuinely did need the plan to be there, there was the option of the family support plan in a new and improved form.

We have all had telephone calls in our offices of people who unfortunately did not get the money as quickly as they had anticipated, and the Attorney General has made mention of the fact in this House that we regret that and we are seeking to solve those problems. I might add, though, that my predecessor, my colleagues' predecessors, had the same telephone calls. In fact, the telephone calls are now being answered with 25% greater efficiency than they were the day before this legislation came into effect.

Are there problems to be solved? Yes, there are. I beseech the honourable member for Welland-Thorold to be part of a positive and constructive way that we can solve the problems if they still do exist. But they do not exist because of the fault of our government; they exist because of the faults in the system which we are seeking to cure. The Premier merely made mention of that fact today.

The Acting Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. The House stands adjourned until 1:30 next Monday afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1817.