36th Parliament, 1st Session

L168 - Tue 25 Feb 1997 / Mar 25 Fév 1997










































The House met at 1333.




Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Today we're reminded about the difference between substantive public policy and bluster. Last week, with much fanfare, the Minister of Transportation announced long-overdue changes to highway safety; that is, dealing with the issue of unsafe truck wheels.

We, the opposition, said that we would help the government pass this bill as quickly as possible. We sat down and agreed that this amendment, even though it doesn't deal with the whole question, is important enough that it ought to be front and centre in this Legislature and on the government's agenda. The minister, with great fanfare, said how important this is for the government, how important it is for road safety in Ontario and how urgent it is to move as quickly as possible.

Lo and behold, what happens? Nothing. Press conference, flyers, publicity, bill introduced and the government says it won't bring the bill up for debate or a vote. Lots of glitz, lots of bluster, but where's the beef? No substance.

We say to the government today: Put aside your legislation to raise property taxes, put aside your desire to close hospitals and bring forward the truck safety bill today. Let's spend a Legislative day on it and --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): There are many citizens across the riding of Cochrane South who are truly worried about where this government is going with public education. They worry because they know how important education is for their children and for the wellbeing of their community itself.

With this in mind, there's a group that's come together in the community of Timmins called Citizens for the Preservation of Public Education. Why have they come together? Because the government has decided, with this legislative committee, that they will not be coming to Cochrane South or the city of Timmins to listen to what people have to say about Bill 104.

Citizens in our community have come together with me to form this committee so that people in our community can have their say, express their views and their concerns in regard to Bill 104, and then we will go and present to the legislative committee in Sudbury and let people know what we think about Bill 104. I think it's unacceptable in a democracy that a government undergoes a massive change such as it has with education and doesn't give people a right to have a say.

Il y a beaucoup de personnes dans nos communautés de Cochrane-Sud et Timmins qui ont vraiment peur pour où s'en va le gouvernement avec la législation, la Loi 104. Cette loi va changer fondamentalement l'éducation dans notre province, et le gouvernement n'a pas pris le temps pour consulter le monde à Cochrane-Sud.

Avec ça dans l'idée, un comité va être mis en place appelé les Citoyens pour la préservation de l'éducation publique qui va faire les audiences publiques propres, et nous, les citoyens de Timmins, allons à Sudbury pour présenter de la part de tous ces citoyens ce qu'on pense de la Loi 104.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I rise today to outline what is clearly a waste of taxpayers' money, dollars, being staged by those opposed to our government's proposed legislation for a unified Toronto.

First of all, in my riding the mayor of Etobicoke has stated that a phone poll to gauge public opinion is a waste of money. I am not alone in my belief that taxpayers' money is being wasted by municipal governments fighting amalgamation. A letter to the editor of a community newspaper in my riding stated: "Fewer politicians please. And let's start with those on our own council who choose to waste more of our money."

Our government believes a unified Toronto would mean an enhanced lifestyle and greater benefits. An Etobicoke business consultant yesterday told public hearings on amalgamation proposals that he witnessed unification at first hand several years ago in Winnipeg. He noted how little things change. Metro was called a "seamless and integrated whole" and it was suggested it should be governed that way. It's encouraging to see that when the facts are presented fairly, the idea of one Toronto can be accepted by the general public.

This happened yesterday during a panel show I participated in for a Toronto radio station. By the end of the program, the show's host acknowledged the tide had turned, with a greater number supporting one Toronto --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Yesterday the sentence was rendered in the case of Dr Arvo Alfred, a doctor found guilty of sexual or indecent assault. The sentence imposed yesterday has sparked serious concerns. Dr Alfred was sentenced to nine months in jail, 240 hours of community service and two years less a day under house arrest, this despite the fact that he assaulted 10 of his former patients, nine females and one male. The prosecution had asked for 10 to 12 years.

This government has repeatedly spoken of its commitment to law and order and victims' rights. Now is the time to prove it. The victims in this awful case are outraged. The consequences of what has been done to them will remain with them for a lifetime. I urge the Attorney General to immediately consider the following: first, launching an appeal in this matter, and second, instituting a review of sentencing guidelines. Respect for victims' rights, if it is to mean anything, requires nothing less.



Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is about education and the millions of dollars in cuts to education. As we all know, the Fewer School Boards Act affects every student, citizen, parent and school board in Ontario. As indicated in a report produced by the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, this proposed legislation has even more profound consequences for the local governments in northern Ontario.

This government speaks of offering equal education opportunity for all students in the province. Does this same principle not extend to all citizens? Shouldn't a citizen in northern Ontario have access to a locally elected education representative regardless of where they live? Given the size of the jurisdictions -- some as large as France -- and the climate, access to locally elected school boards will be removed for many. Concerned parents and taxpayers will be faced with phoning long distance to try and access information about their local schools. Decisions affecting the local community will no longer be made by community leaders.

You are rushing to push forward this anti-democratic legislation, driven by your agenda to take full control of our education system so you can make further cuts down the road. Clearly this government is only interested in cuts to classroom education, which is different from what it promised during the election campaign, and taking billions of dollars out of education like the federal Liberals did in Ottawa over the last three and a half years.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): The region of Durham has declared February 22 to March 1 as Family Literacy Week. The Literacy Network of Durham Region stresses that we all should be dedicated to tackling Ontario's literacy problem because we cannot afford not to. Roughly two adults in every five lack the literacy skills needed to handle successfully common everyday literacy tasks.

The literacy problem is a family problem, because the link between child and parent literacy has to do with the role parents play in helping their children learn to read. There is a strong connection between low literacy levels and poor health, higher-than-average rates of unemployment, low income, poor academic achievement by their children, poor social integration, low self-esteem and above-average rates of incarceration.

Literacy problems tend to be passed from one generation to the next. One of the best ways to support a child's learning is to ensure that his or her parents have opportunities to improve their own literacy skills if required. That's why all of us should be supporting organizations like the Literacy Network of Durham Region.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Today I have more postcards to deliver to the Minister of Health. The postcards say, "Help save our health care." They also show the various facts that exist in Windsor-Essex county as to the severe underfunding of health costs in our area. May I tell you that if the plans go forward, the west side of the county will have no emergency service. This government has refused to reinvest funding to build up services in other areas of the county. We simply are losing service.

We found it very interesting that today we read, "Peterborough Hospitals Open Beds After Death." Thanks to Dalton McGuinty bringing this issue into the House, the hospital in Peterborough has reinstated beds. Is this what we have to do to make the Conservative government, the Harris government, understand that the cuts are hurting people?

To the Minister of Health, this is just the beginning. There are many more of them coming, and I want to thank the people -- Earle Dunham, Mary Kroskie, Walter Kroskie -- who really care about health care in Essex county. I say to the Minister of Health, you must listen. Don't wait for people to die, as was the case in Peterborough, before you turn your attention to Windsor-Essex county. We won't stand for it. The people won't stand for it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to raise a critical situation for the residents of Algoma district and Sault Ste Marie with regard to the long waiting list for cardiac surgery at Sudbury Memorial Hospital. Because of the cap on surgical cases, there is a backlog of over 250. By simple mathematics, it will take some five years to elapse before we can again reach a satisfactory waiting period for cardiac cases in our area. That of course assumes that the cardiac waiting list will not continue to increase as it has over the past year.

The head of cardiac services in Sault Ste Marie, Dr Gould, has indicated that three patients have died in Sault Ste Marie as the result of the long waiting list during the last two weeks. Two of these cases will not appear in the normal statistics because they both died during cardiac surgery. As a result of their long wait, their hearts had deteriorated so severely that they were too weak to sustain themselves through the operation

Another patient was so frightened of being on such a long waiting list that he sold his home in order to finance his surgery in the United States. This is exactly the type of situation that our health care system is supposed to prevent. Patients are being reduced to financial ruin because of the cost of obtaining health care because of this long waiting --

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


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I rise today in the House, as other members have recently done, to congratulate the over 2,000 athletes from over 80 countries who travelled to Toronto and Collingwood earlier this month to participate in the 1997 Special Olympics World Winter Games. However, I would particularly like to recognize the extraordinary achievements of some residents from my very own riding.

About two weeks ago, among great fanfare and fire engine sirens, Fort Erie welcomed home its champions, the Fort Erie Phantoms floor hockey team, which captured the silver medal at this year's games. In fact, in the championship game the Phantoms narrowly missed capturing the gold; they lost 4-3 in triple overtime to the dreaded Team Russia.

The Phantoms are the team that made good, a group of players who rose up from small-town Ontario to face off against the world's best at the Special Olympics.

It was certainly my dream growing up, playing hockey on Lindberg Drive, to one day face the Russians in international competition. The Phantoms have fulfilled that shared child's dream by bringing back the medals to their home town, Fort Erie.

Special congratulations also are in order to Melissa Brooks and Maryanne Bland. Melissa captured the gold medal and Maryanne the silver in the individual skills competition. The team also is under the able management of Marlene Davies and the Hills. My congratulations to the great coaches. Remember: No trades in the off season.

I trust I speak for all members of the assembly when I look in the Speaker's gallery today and offer my greatest congratulations to these skilled and courageous athletes. Congratulations.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'll follow the member for Niagara South. We have a special group of athletes today that I will introduce. I'd like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that in the Speaker's gallery today we have the Fort Erie Phantoms, winners of the silver medal in floor hockey at the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Please join me in welcoming them. Welcome.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: As you know, earlier this year I asked you to rule on a pamphlet distributed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs in regard to Bill 103. Your ruling was that there was a prima facie case for contempt.

I would like to bring to your attention a connection to that same bill as it relates to the Ontario Court of Justice, which ruled today that the appointed trustees in Bill 103 are to be found to be, as Justice Brennan said today, "I conclude that the orders in council of December 18, 1996, were made without authority and are of no legal effect. The appointments are therefore void. The appointees' actions have no legal effect until they are appointed pursuant to a statute in force."

As you know, with the pamphlet the concern I had was that the pamphlet assumed that the legislation was a done deal, that there would be no attention to the processes of the House in debating and amending this bill. I find that the trustees are very similar in approach in terms of trying to establish the fact that on the day the bill was introduced, December 17, the trustees had power to act as of the day the bill was introduced.

I think the court ruling reaffirms our contention that this contravenes the basic processes and respect for the parliamentary process. In fact, in one of the affidavits filed before Justice Brennan, the contention of one of the trustees, Ms Valerie A. Gibbons, was that basically under Bill 103 she had "full powers to act under the proposed legislation because it is implicit in our form of majority government that legislation introduced by the government will pass." So these trustees went into this designation with the assumption from the minister and Bill 103 that the bill would pass; therefore she had power. The court today ruled that this is wrong, that you can't assume to give these people power unless the bill is passed.


As you know, former Speaker Fraser ruled, and you referred to this in your ruling, that, "A contempt may be an act or an omission; it does not have to actually obstruct or impede the House or a member; it merely has to have the tendency to produce such results. Matters ranging from minor breaches of decorum to grave attacks against the authority of Parliament may be considered as contempt."

I'm going to forward a copy of Justice Brennan's ruling to you for your perusal, Mr Speaker -- I have one here -- so that when you deliberate, you can refer to this ruling. There are a number of interesting sections. The interesting thing too, if you look at the ruling -- the government continues to basically find ways of circumventing the due processes of this Legislature. One of their arguments before the court was that they were referring to the Lieutenant Governor's exercise of royal prerogative, but the justice was clear in rejecting it, saying, "I am impelled to the finding that the royal prerogative was not in the contemplation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council at the time these orders in council were made."

In other words, they're trying to find a loophole. Their intent was very clear basically to make these trustees effective the day the bill was introduced, and these trustees have been functioning right across Metro since December 17. They have been meeting with municipal councillors, they have been meeting with staff; they are still meeting and they are still working.

In fact, during the hearings I asked for the trustees to come before the committee and the assistant deputy minister of municipal affairs said, "They can't come before the committee on Bill 103 because the trustees are being faced with a legal challenge." I said, "If they are faced with a legal challenge, why are they still functioning as trustees?" which she admitted they were. So I said, "If they're still functioning, if the excuse is the legal challenge, therefore they should stop functioning as trustees," but they continue to function, again based on something that was introduced in the House, not in legislation that was passed.

Therefore I ask you, Mr Speaker, to take a close look at the findings of Justice Brennan. You will see that there's a clear case for contempt here. These trustees are even worse than the pamphlet, because not only was the pamphlet at your door the day the bill was introduced, but these trustees were empowered to --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Oakwood, I think I understand the point you're making. I understand what you're saying. Allow me to review the comments you made and report back.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: The same point?

Mr Silipo: A similar point, Speaker, but I want to make a separate request of you.

You will recall that a few weeks ago I raised a specific point of privilege right on this point in suggesting to you that you find a breach of privilege or a contempt of the House in the actions of the government in proceeding to have these trustees act without the authority of the legislation because the legislation has not been passed. You at that time essentially, I think, ruled that there was no breach that you saw of the procedures but that there may be a legal issue.

Obviously, as we now know, the legal issue has indeed been resolved, at least at this stage, to the effect that the government's actions have been found to be wrong, to be in contravention of the law. The government's actions have been found to be without authority and the appointments have been struck down and have been rendered null and void.

I think, Speaker, at this point there are at the very least a couple of things that should be taking place. The first is that I would ask that you ensure -- and I ask this specifically of you, Speaker, because again, as members of this Parliament, we have no recourse other than through you to ensure that that court order is carried out as it applies to the proceedings of the House, not as it applies to anything extraneous to here, but as it applies to the proceedings of this House, and that is to ensure that any actions that have been taken by the trustees are seen to be rendered null and void.

Secondly, Speaker, this has implications not just for the provisions of the trustees under Bill 103, but I believe has implications for the provisions at least in Bill 104, because there too there have been at least comparable positions appointed, two trustees; they're called commissioners there. I believe there are implications as well for whatever actions those two individuals may have taken to date, because the legislation under Bill 104, as you know, is pretty much in the same process of the Parliament as is 103.

Thirdly, Speaker, I would ask that through you we get some indication from the Minister of Municipal Affairs or indeed the acting Premier, given, as I say, that this court decision has repercussions not just with respect to Bill 103 but also with respect to Bill 104, as to what actions the government is intending to take. I would have expected that the minister would have come in today and made a statement on this very important development.

I believe that you called for ministers' statements. I didn't hear anything. I didn't hear any minister standing up. I know that you can't force ministers to make statements, but I would ask through your office and through your chair to request, if the Minister of Municipal Affairs or if the acting Premier is prepared to make a statement on this issue, certainly I believe on this side of the House we would be prepared to give unanimous consent for that to happen.

The Speaker: I will take your comments as well and review them when ruling on the member for Oakwood's point of -- you said point of order?

Mr Colle: Point of privilege.

The Speaker: Point of privilege.

Point of order? Same point? Different point. The member for Algoma.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I would ask for the unanimous consent of the assembly to revert to ministers' statements so that we can have a statement from the ministry with regard to this court ruling.

The Speaker: The member for Algoma is seeking unanimous consent to revert to ministers' statements for the following reasons --


The Speaker: Agreed?


Mr Silipo: You are not going to say anything, Al? Why do we have to ask you a question? This is the most momentous development on this day.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Tell us what you are going to do.

The Speaker: Order. Members for Beaches-Woodbine and Dovercourt, please come to order. I have now given you my undertaking. I'll report back on both the point of privilege of the member for Oakwood and the member for Dovercourt's point of order.

There being no further points of order or privilege, it's time for oral questions.




Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This morning, as was just discussed, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that your appointment of megacity trustees was without authority, of no legal effect, and void. In effect, the judge who ruled on this matter has told us that those trustees who are out there today purporting to act on the basis of some legislative authority have no such authority of any kind.

For months now, Minister, we have been warning you that your megacity Bill 103 process tramples on basic democratic principles. Today a judge ruled that the process you're using to implement your law is illegal. Minister, you would not listen to us. Will you now listen to a judge and withdraw this bill?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): We understand the court has made a decision and we respect that decision. I can say that the ruling doesn't surprise me, because we have stated on numerous occasions, both in this House and publicly, that the trustees do not have any jurisdiction until such time as the legislation is passed. We've made that abundantly clear on many occasions.

Notwithstanding the decision of the judge, what we were doing was giving municipalities an opportunity to be prepared, should the legislation pass, so they would be able to deal with the proposed legislation in an appropriate manner. We have continuously said that the trustees did not have any legal jurisdiction until such time as the legislation passes.

Mr McGuinty: What this is is another example of contempt shown by this minister either for us as legislators of this House or the public. This is the very same minister who was found to have been in contempt of this Legislature, the same minister who said he would ignore the voice of the people when they speak by way of referenda and the same minister who introduced Bill 26.

In ruling against you, Minister, the judge said your actions were "contrary to the responsible actions of government." That is a very, very severe criticism of government. In effect, the judge was saying that your actions were in keeping with the actions of an irresponsible government.

I'm asking you now to do the responsible thing: Will you withdraw this bill, fully one third of which contains the now illegal provisions, and start afresh?

Hon Mr Leach: I first want to correct the record again. The Leader of the Opposition continues to say we were found in contempt and he knows that not to be correct. If anybody should be found in contempt, it's people who continue to make those arguments.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: When it goes back to the legislation, to Bill 103, there is nothing in that legislation that the judge found to be inappropriate. What he has said is that the orders in council should not have been processed until such time as the legislation was passed. I don't disagree with that. I think that's an appropriate ruling.

We have always said that the trustees don't have any authority until such time as the legislation passes. I don't know how many times I'm going to have to repeat that, but that's the case.

Mr McGuinty: Have the decency to admit that you've made a mistake. You've had a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice who has found that you have made a mistake. At least stand up there and tell us that you've made the mistake. Don't tell us that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

He also said, "...the will of the executive is being imposed before waiting for the legislative events to unfold." That's what the judge said. I didn't say that. Minister, you were caught. Once again you tried to subvert the power of the Legislature and you got caught, just like in the case of Bill 26. You plowed ahead when everybody said that what you were doing was wrong. This is but another example. I wish it was an exception, but it is but another example of this government trying to do an end run around this Legislature.

Minister, what you did was anti-democratic. This ruling calls your entire megacity bill into question. I'll ask you one more time: Will you not do the right thing and withdraw it?

Hon Mr Leach: To repeat: What the judge, in my view, has ruled is that the orders in council should not have been processed until such time as the legislation is passed. We have repeatedly said -- and I've said it in this House; it's recorded in Hansard -- that the trustees do not have any jurisdiction until such time as the legislation is passed, and we continue to say that. What we were --

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Oh no, you didn't say that. You are saying that now. You didn't say it before. Tell the truth.

The Speaker: Member for Oakwood, I ask you to withdraw that comment.

Mr Colle: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: I want you to withdraw that comment, please, member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: I withdraw my comment.

The Speaker: Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: What we were attempting to do was select the individuals that we felt were appropriate to be trustees so that they would be in place when the legislation was passed, in order that municipalities would have an opportunity to see what the rules of the game would be prior to the legislation being passed, but we have said repeatedly that the legislation has to be in place before they have any power.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My next question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, your hospital-closing gang rode into Ottawa-Carleton, ransacked and destroyed three hospitals and rode away with $90 million of Ottawa-Carleton's health care dollars. The Riverside Hospital, the Salvation Army's Grace Hospital and the Montfort Hospital are among the most efficient and important community hospitals in the province.

Let me tell you why, and I'm going to start with the Riverside Hospital. This hospital has been recognized -- the minister will know this -- by the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation as one of the most cost-efficient and effective hospitals in the country. In fact, only 23 hospitals out of 1,800 have ever received this recognition. The Riverside was one of them. The people there have worked valiantly to get their costs down. How does this minister reward them? By giving them a death sentence. Why are you closing one of the most efficiently run hospitals in Ontario, the Riverside Hospital?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The commission has made interim findings, recommendations for Ottawa-Carleton and a renewed hospital system for Ottawa-Carleton, and all members of the public and all members of this House have the opportunity over the next 30 days to make comment to the commission.

The honourable member talks about hospital accreditation, and yes, many hospitals have received a top rating, but it wasn't the building that received that rating. It was the people, the talented people who provide those services.

The thrust behind the commission's work and the health care policy of the government is to drive every dollar to front-line services to make sure those people are merged into other buildings so that they can continue to provide the top-quality service. At the end of the day, we want more nurses, more services and modern hospitals with new technology to provide for the needs of the people of Ontario and Ottawa-Carleton.

Mr McGuinty: Move on to the Grace Hospital. The Grace Hospital is run by the Salvation Army. The Grace specializes in two things and two things only, delivering babies and eye surgery, and it does both of those exceptionally well. Because it has specialized, it has high volumes and very low costs. The Salvation Army's Grace Hospital can provide sight-saving cataract surgery cheaper than just about any other hospital in the province. It may be small, but it is very, very efficient. It does what it does very well and at low cost. If you are so intent on finding savings, why is it that you are closing one of the best savers in the province when it comes to a hospital?

Hon Mr Wilson: The intent is to have a better hospital system. The amount of money that the government has put back into the health care system far exceeds anything we've seen in savings and, at the rate we're going, will probably far exceed anything we see in savings after the three- to four-year period of hospital restructuring. It isn't about savings; it's about making the system better. Time and time again, people raise concerns about problems in our hospitals today, and they make the case that we cannot sustain the current system, that the current system has problems and that we need to improve the system. That will be done by, yes, having fewer buildings, but having more services in the buildings that remain.

Seven hundred beds were closed in Ottawa-Carleton during the time that government was in office and the previous NDP government was in office. That's the equivalent of three mid-sized hospitals. All of the administration is still there; all of the maintenance, heat and hydro is still there. Those dollars need to be freed up and spent on patient services so that we have modern hospitals and more services for the people who need them.

M. McGuinty : L'hôpital Montfort est le seul hôpital de langue française en Ontario. Montfort est l'hôpital communautaire de la plus grande population francophone de la province.

La semaine dernière, votre ministère reconnaissait que le rapport coût-efficacité de Montfort était un des meilleurs en Ontario. Hier votre commission, qui n'a même pas eu la décence de traduire son rapport, a ordonné la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort. Personne, pas une seule personne de votre commission, ne pouvait répondre à des questions en français.

Montfort n'est pas un grand hôpital mais c'est un hôpital extrêmement important. Il est clair que votre commission n'a pas compris son importance pour notre communauté. Monsieur le Ministre, pourquoi fermez-vous le seul hôpital entièrement bilingue de l'Ontario ? Pourquoi fermez-vous le seul hôpital de la communauté franco-ontarienne ?

Hon Mr Wilson: The Health Services Restructuring Commission was very concerned and I think took great pains to ensure that French-language services will continue to be available to the francophone community in Ottawa-Carleton. The honourable member knows that the Ottawa General Hospital right now is the designated French-language hospital to provide those services.

The French Language Services Act remains in place. Parts of the heart institute are designated right now and also parts of CHEO. The commission made it clear that it has ordered that a plan for French-language services be in place in the very near future to ensure that access to those services is maintained in the restructured system.

With respect to the -- I believe it was a genuine oversight of the commission. Dr Sinclair is issuing an apology to the people of eastern Ontario for not providing the documents in both official languages and for failing to provide those services at the press conference. I understand that apology is forthcoming today.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is to the minister responsible for municipal affairs, although you'd hardly know it by the decisions that are emanating now from our courts.

Today, Judge Brennan sent your megacity trustees packing. He said that the unelected trustees you appointed to run Toronto and overrule its democratically elected representatives -- Minister, you may laugh about this, but all kinds of people in this province believe in democratic government. They believe in responsible government. You may laugh at it.

Minister, to put it in brief, he said you broke the law. He said that you are trampling on people's democratic rights. He said you are acting "contrary to fundamental principles of responsible government."

Minister, will you finally show some respect for --

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): He's a puppet now.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I would ask the member for Scarborough North to withdraw that comment.

Mr Curling: I don't know what I said to be withdrawn, Mr Speaker. I said he was a puppet now.

The Speaker: I apologize, then. I misheard you.

Mr Hampton: Let me start again, Speaker. I'm asking the minister to finally show some respect for democracy, to finally show some respect for responsible government, to finally show some respect for people's democratic rights. Will you withdraw Bill 103, go back to the drawing board, involve the people who live in Metropolitan Toronto and draft legislation that speaks to people's needs?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'll repeat: The court has made a decision, a ruling on the orders in council that were processed. The bill itself is going through the legislative process, as it should. It's out at committee now. The courts didn't rule at all on anything in the bill. My understanding is that they have ruled that the orders in council shouldn't have been processed until such time as the bill was approved by this Legislature.

We have repeatedly stated that the trustees didn't have any authority until such time as the legislation was passed. We agreed to that, and we continue to agree with that judge's ruling that the trustees did not have any authority until the legislation was passed. What he has asked us to do is withdraw the orders in council, and we'll obviously comply with that.

Mr Hampton: This minister has a unique capacity to show contempt for this Legislature and an equally unique capacity to show contempt for the people of this province.

What the judge said, and you should perhaps read this judgement, was that you don't have the royal prerogative any more, that you can't use the royal prerogative of kings and queens and shove it down people's throats. That's what he says in this judgement. He says very clearly that your so-called appointments were made without authority and are of no legal effect. He says you can't try to use the royal prerogative to shove it down people's throats either.

I throw your selective reading of this judgement aside. There has never been a condemnation of a government or a condemnation of a cabinet minister equal to this judgement. He says you don't have the rights of kings or queens.

I repeat the question: Will you go back to the drawing board? Will you withdraw your bill which tries to override democratic --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: I'm going to be repeating our position through this series of questions because in our view what the judge has said is that the government did not have the authority to issue orders in council until such time as the legislation was passed. We have repeatedly stated and agreed with that position.


The Speaker: Order. I'm having a great deal of difficulty. To the members for Lake Nipigon and Algoma, it's very difficult to hear the answer. I would ask that you come to order, please.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It's very difficult sitting here listening to him.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, I don't want to have a debate with you. The question was put. I'd like to hear the answer. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: Again to repeat, we have stated that the trustees didn't have any authority, never had any authority, would never have any authority until such time as the legislation was passed. We agree with that. What we were doing was appointing a body that would be in a position to be prepared to take certain actions when and if the legislation was passed. If the legislation didn't pass this Legislature, then the trustees would never have had any power.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): You said December 17.

The Speaker: Member for Oakwood, I'm warning you to come to order now. Thank you. Final supplementary.

Mr Hampton: The minister here tries to give a far different explanation than the explanation the government tried to give before a judge, and the judge didn't buy it. He sent your megacity trustees packing, he sent your argument about trying to use the prerogative of kings and queens -- imagine that: Here we are in the latter years of the 20th century and this minister goes to court and tries to argue he has the power of a king or queen, the power of royal prerogative.

This is indeed an insult. It is an insult to all the people of Ontario that this government thinks it has the power of a king or queen, the power to institute regulations in the same way that a king or queen acting in the 17th century would do it. That's what the judge said to you. He said you do not have the power of a king or queen, you do not have the royal prerogative any longer, that we live in a democracy, that legislation and regulations must come before the Legislature.

I put it to you again. You have tried now three and four ways to force your will on the people of this province without getting --

The Speaker: Thank you, leader. Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: Again to the member across, at least I had the decency to be in the House when the Lieutenant Governor was sworn in.

What the judge ruled upon today was the OICs that were in question and the OICs that were processed prior to the legislation being approved. I don't think that's an unusual set of circumstances, to process order-in-council appointments prior to legislation being passed. If the courts rule that OICs shouldn't be processed before legislation is passed, that's I think a very precedent-setting ruling. But again to repeat, we have stated that the trustees would not have any jurisdiction whatsoever to take any actions on any issue until such time --


Mr Colle: That's not what you said in the bill; you said December 17.

The Speaker: Member for Oakwood. I don't want to name the member for Oakwood, but you're jumping in and it's very difficult to hear the minister. If it happens again, I will name the member for Oakwood. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'll say this directly to the member for Oakwood, because he's obviously been talking and not listening --

Mr Colle: You're not listening; you said December 17.

The Speaker: This place sometimes can be provoking, but I ask the member for Oakwood, you must come to order, please. I can't hear the minister. I would like to hear the minister. You get the opportunity to put the questions; they deserve the opportunity to answer them. Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: I can only repeat that the ruling in question was about the OICs that were passed appointing the trustees.

Mr Colle: It was not; it was about responsible government.

The Speaker: The member for Oakwood. I name the member for Oakwood, Mr Colle. Will the member for Oakwood please leave the chamber.

Mr Colle was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Mr Speaker, I want to raise a point of order on this. I simply want you to hear this out because I think it bears on the proceedings in this Legislature. This is what the judge said:

"It seems to me contrary to fundamental principles of responsible government to invoke the royal prerogative without adverting to it. It would also be inimical to those principles if the court assumed that a residual royal prerogative prevails to validate any executive action for which legislative authorization is absent."

Speaker, the judge in this case said that this government cannot do by assuming a royal prerogative what it can't do through the Legislature. The judge has said that basically this government, by its arguments in court, was trying to get around the Legislature. They were trying to say that this government has a royal prerogative that overrides this Legislature. I think that calls into question the whole reason of why we have a Legislature here.

The Speaker: The leader of the third party, I think that is exactly what I reserved judgement on earlier with respect to ruling. You may put those in the record -- they are now in the record -- and I will review them at that time.

New question, leader of the third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Well, Speaker, I'll go to the next piece of chaos this government has created, and it's concerning the chaos that we now see in health care. My question is to the Minister of Health. In September, his hospital restructuring commission walked into Sudbury and ordered two hospitals closed, which amounts to taking $42 million a year out of Sudbury's health care. I remind the minister that Sudbury is the regional health care centre providing services such as cardiac surgery to the entire northeast of the province. On top of the $42 million that your hospital commission is taking out of Sudbury, you have also cut the budgets, separate and above from the $42 million, by $4.7 million on top of that. It amounts to taking $46 million out of Sudbury in a year. When will you make the reinvestment decisions for Sudbury? When will you put the money back so that the people of --

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

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member doesn't have his facts straight. These are not cumulative amounts. We don't have the commission with some sort of a fiscal target and the savings that the Treasurer has asked hospitals to find in getting rid of waste and duplication and excessive administration that was announced a couple of budgets ago. We all know what those savings are and the commission has only indicated that it can find at least that much money, that we will have a better health care system by finding those savings and reinvesting them in home care and other priority services.

Our reinvestments, the amount of money we've spent putting back into health care, far exceed anything we've seen in savings from the hospitals or any other part of the system right now. It's about three times as much in for any savings we've seen to date. The commission itself is driven by a genuine desire to improve the quality and access of our health care system and to stop wasting money on half-empty buildings, which is the case in Sudbury today.

Over the next three to four years, after the commission has done its work --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary, the member for Algoma.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's obvious from the minister's response he doesn't know the seriousness of the situation in the northeast.

I have a letter from Dr David Gould of Sault Ste Marie, who is the head of cardiac services for the Sault area hospitals. It's dated February 17 and addressed to the minister's predecessor. I'd ask one of the pages to take it over to the minister.

Dr Gould says that you have a crisis on your hands in the northeast related to the waiting list for cardiac surgery. The waiting list, he says, now stands at 250. He also says, "We have had three patients die as a result of a long waiting list during the past two weeks."

It is true that you have done some reinvestment in cardiac care in Sudbury. It has resulted in one more surgery per week in Sudbury. At the caseload capacity we now have, it will take five years to get through the waiting list. What are you going to do about this? When are you going to put some more money --

The Speaker: Thank you, member. Minister of Health. Member for Algoma, please take your seat. Could you please go back to your seat? Thank you so much.

Hon Mr Wilson: To tie restructuring to the cardiac care waiting list is simply wrong. The restructuring hasn't occurred yet. In fact, it makes the case for the need to restructure so that we stop spending money on excessive administration and spend it on patients. The previous minister had a meeting on February 12 with the cardiac care network. He has left me with some recommendations that I will be moving on in the very near future to once again expand our capacity to deal with the heart patients in this province. We made a significant investment, as you recognized in your question, to increase the accessibility by 19% over the last year, and we need to do that again. The population is getting older and we're reinvesting dollars into heart patients as soon as we can.

The Speaker: Final supplementary, member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): This is the fourth time I've raised this issue in the House. Today's letter is a shocking account of your government's stewardship over the health care system in Ontario. Dr Gould writes: "Their hearts had deteriorated so severely while waiting for the surgery that by the time the patient was able to get in, their hearts were too weak to sustain them through the operation. They will therefore be listed as surgical deaths, rather than as deaths while waiting on the waiting list, which is really what they are."

Another patient had to sell his home to buy service in the States.

In November 1995, the waiting list was over 60; November 1996, it was over 230; today, it's over 250. Will you honestly reinvest in health care? Will you lift the quota on heart surgery in Sudbury for all of northeastern Ontario and free the doctors to do what they do best? They say they can clean this waiting list up if you will only lift the quota. Will you lift the quota?

Hon Mr Wilson: Yes, we expect a recommendation very soon from the cardiac care network, which has been looking at this problem. We have a problem in terms of we invested a significant amount of money in heart surgeries over the past few months and yet we expected by this time to see a 19% increase in surgeries. Unfortunately they've only been able to do an 8.5% increase. It's not a lack of money; it's a lack of capacity in the system. We have the experts on an urgent basis trying to figure out what's wrong and as soon as --


The Speaker: Order. Minister, are you done? No? Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: The experts, the people who do the surgeries, are about to give us some advice on how to improve the system. Just the moment we get that advice we'll put their recommendations in place so that more surgeries can be done.



Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): I direct this question to the Minister of Health. I wonder if the minister realizes that the Health Services Restructuring Commission has recommended the closing of the only francophone secondary care hospital in Ontario. What kind of signal are we trying to give to the rest of our country?

This recommendation gives me great concern as I am convinced the commission has not taken into account the effect this closure would have on the care and indeed the safety of francophones in Ontario. My question is, in reviewing the recommendations that will be put before you, will the government exercise its responsibility as the protector of minority rights in this province and reject this particular recommendation?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): As I said, the importance of French-language services and providing those services in our health care system is recognized by the commission in the work they've done to date. They go to great pains in their report on many pages to ensure that they are sensitive to the needs of the francophone members of your constituency and of Ottawa-Carleton.

The commission has, in their interim findings, ordered that a plan be put in place to ensure that French-language services continue to be provided in the buildings that will be remaining. Again, those 700 beds have been closed. The administration's all there. The dollars are being wasted on administration.

Your own Ottawa Citizen today has an editorial praising much of the work of the commission and indicating that the administration was excessive in that area and agreeing, I think, with the commission and the government policy that money has to be spent on patients and not on excessive administration and redundant bricks and mortar.

Mr Morin: Let me place points in order. The president of the general hospital has said that if the civic hospital was to join with the general hospital, it would be the end of francophone services, that the francophones would suffer immensely. To me and to all of us it means the beginning of the assimilation of francophones in Ontario. It is the beginning of the end.

Minister, the situation regarding the Montfort Hospital cannot be glossed over. Yesterday was a day of mourning for francophones all over Ontario. This issue is not only of patient care but of the training of francophone health care professionals and the unique role of the Montfort in both of these areas.

Will the minister and the minister for francophone affairs commit today to meet with leaders of the francophone community to hear their concerns about this critically important issue?

Hon Mr Wilson: I must say I have no doubt about the sincerity of the member with respect to this issue, but I would remind him that his constituents are currently providing French-language services at the general hospital, which is a fully designated hospital. The Royal rehab centre and St Vincent pavilion are designated as French-language services hospitals. Also, the CHEO -- the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario -- the civic and the Royal psych hospital all have designated units, French-language services. The commission has gone to great lengths to ensure that not only those current designated services remain in place, but also a comprehensive plan be developed to ensure the continuation of French-language health services to the people in your riding and the people of Ottawa-Carleton who need those services.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I also have a question for the Minister of Health. Last week the member for Nickel Belt asked the temporary Minister of Health why the ministry has, in the words of the deputy minister, "halted all activities of community care access centres pending the development and approval of individual business plans for each CCAC," and as a result the Durham board of their CCAC resigned.

Minister, with only one month before their mandate comes into effect, the CCACs have been ordered to drop everything to fulfil your bureaucratic requirement. Your actions to cut hospital funding by $1.3 billion mean more and more patients are being released from the hospitals still requiring professional care and the pressure on home care grows daily.

Can you guarantee us here today that on April 1 the CCACs which you created to deliver these growing and vital services will actually be in place, or are we seeing the health ministry's version of the disastrous so-called reform in the family support plan?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I remind all members that there was great praise for the development of the community care access centres from the service providers. They're far more preferred than the multiservice agency model the previous government was trying to put in place.

The idea of the business plans is to ensure that we get rid of the excessive administration in home care throughout the province. We have 73 home care and placement coordination offices today. They will be replaced by 42 community care access centres, and we want to see the business plans -- and I think it's a reasonable requirement for any business that's using taxpayers' dollars to deliver services -- so that we can ensure that they do not spend an excessive amount of money on administration -- we're trying to correct the problems of the past -- and that every dollar is driven to home nursing services, home care, Meals on Wheels, occupational therapy, physiotherapy. That's why we want to see the business plans, just to ensure that they're not building empires. We're getting rid of the empires of the past and replacing them with streamlined efficient delivery systems.

Mrs Boyd: You're full of fine words, Minister, but the reality is that the CCACs are in real difficulty in looking at fulfilling their mandate. You not only have the resignation of the entire Durham regional board, but we have a copy of a letter to the Premier from Terry Shields, the vice-chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth CCAC. Mr Shields makes a connection to the order from your ministry to stop the work of the CCACs with the decision of your government to download long-term-care funding to the municipalities. He suggests that you are bowing to the pressure to transfer delivery decisions to the municipalities.


There's chaos in long-term care everywhere. On the one hand, your Minister of Community and Social Services says the province will ensure standards in accessibility for long-term-care services. On the other, your Minister of Finance said in the Windsor Star in January that the decisions will be left to the municipalities. Now you've stopped the whole process of implementation just because of a bureaucratic requirement.

Will you deny that you're considering reversing a whole year's work on long-term-care reform --

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

Mrs Boyd: -- and will you deny that the ministry is currently considering options that would cancel the implementation?

The Speaker: Member for London Centre. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, when you're using taxpayers' dollars, it's a very reasonable request to ask for a business plan. Many of the community care access centre boards had already developed business plans, so it didn't apply to all of them, just those that had not submitted anything to the ministry.

Every dollar has to be spent on services, not excessive administration. An example is that in some communities it may be appropriate to have the offices for the community care access centres in the empty parts of the hospital buildings or in health care facility buildings where we have physical space.

Mrs Boyd: Why didn't you think of that six months ago?

Hon Mr Wilson: We did think of that, I say to the honourable member. It's just that some of the boards didn't quite get the message so we're asking them to submit a business plan and to make absolute best use of the taxpayers' dollars to ensure that every dollar is available for care and not administration.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Why did you wait till now?

The Speaker: The members for London Centre and Hamilton Centre, I want you to come to order, please. Thank you.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): My question is to the Minister of Education. I'm quite concerned about an event that I read in my local paper the other day. I was reading that the Ontario Public School Boards' Association is thinking about organizing a constitutional legal challenge against the ministry as a result of Bill 104. The public school board is asking that the public boards in Ontario give at least 60 cents per student to them to be able to fight this constitutional challenge.

As everyone in this House knows, I represent some of the poorest boards in the province, and as I read the motion from my board, it suggested that we would allow up to 75 cents per student to be given to this constitutional challenge. That translates to $7,500 that will be put into the pockets of lawyers as opposed to being put into textbooks, computers and important classroom events. Minister, will you please tell us how Bill 104 will help stop this kind of abuse of taxpayers' dollars?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Huron for the question. Let's be very clear about this. There is no indication whatsoever that there is anything in Bill 104 that is unconstitutional, right off the start, and in all the public hearings there has been absolutely no indication of that. In fact Bill 104 is about reducing waste and duplication --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Bullshit.

The Speaker: I take it you want to withdraw that. If you'd stand and withdraw that, please. Thank you. Minister of Education.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Bill 104 is about reducing waste and duplication, and reducing the number of politicians in our education system from about 1,900 to 700. In addition to Bill 104, this government has announced its intention to lift the burden of financing education from the local boards and from the property taxpayer.

We will do this in answer to any number of studies on our funding system and we'll do it, oddly enough, in answer to the requests of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, whose cries for more investment from the province have fallen on deaf ears for over a decade. We will do this to ensure that every student in the province has an opportunity to a high quality of education and we'll do it without violating any constitutional rights.

Mrs Johns: Minister, when I meet with my trustees, they tell me that they are putting every cent that they possibly can back into the classroom, that they are spending between 1% and 3% of their budget in administration. Now I discover that they're spending $7,500 of the taxpayers' money in Huron county to be wasted on this legal challenge. Is there anything we can do to change this situation or to improve it?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I can tell the member for Huron that the Ontario Public School Boards' Association or her local trustees do not need to file a lawsuit to improve student achievement. They need to assist us in ensuring that we have a funding model that meets the needs --


The Speaker: Member for Sudbury, member for Fort William, please come to order. Minister of Education.

Hon Mr Snobelen: They need to assist us in making sure that our funding model meets the needs of every individual student. They need to help us reduce waste and overlap and duplication and bureaucracy in education. They need to help us raise the standards of students' performance right across the province with common curriculum and real testing.

Spending $800,000 on a lawsuit, enough for textbooks for a thousand classrooms or 1,600 individual musical instruments, won't help students. It will be a vain attempt to protect a bloated bureaucracy and to protect the jobs, pay and perks of a few trustees.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): What a hypocrite.

The Speaker: That's out of order. The member for Sudbury, will you withdraw.

Mr Bartolucci: Withdrawn.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Did I hear the minister say how much the TV ads are costing, with the Premier --

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. New question.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Health. I really would encourage you to talk straight to us, not to follow the example of the minister just before you. Tell us clearly how your cuts -- your cuts are what are hurting patients today. You stand in your place and say restructuring hasn't taken place yet. Restructuring is going to hurt people tomorrow. Your cuts, the ones signed for on your desk, are what is hurting people today.

The Jim Wilson prescription -- nobody else's -- is made up of slide-rules and formulas. You send your people into towns, your ministry staff and the restructuring people, and you're telling people now how long to keep people in hospital. You have rules about that called the average length of stay, and you're forcing hospitals to adopt these phoney rules.

Yesterday, Minister, we exposed the fact that you're aware that all the models your ministry can run still show you're hurting patients to the tune of $300 million worth of hurt this year, cuts you can't get unless you take them out of patients' care.

Minister, will you not talk directly today to the people of Ottawa, to the people of Pembroke, to the people of Brockville and admit that you're experimenting on health care --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, member for York South.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member for York South should know full well that the Minister of Health as a layperson does not make up these benchmarks. The commission is made up of experts in the health care field who have put together a plan for health care and for hospital restructuring so that at the end of the day we'll have modern hospitals with new technologies, more nurses in the buildings that remain, more services, and greater access for the people of Ontario.

In the three areas he mentions, we don't have a waiting list for home care in Ottawa today or home nursing services, nor in Windsor, nor in Thunder Bay. We've made a tremendous investment of some $170 million in those community-based care programs and we're going to make more investments.

I thought I proved to the honourable member yesterday that his figures were in error and that the government has reinvested much more new money into health care than anything we've been seeing in savings to date.

Mr Kennedy: That's not what your joint committee with the hospitals told you and it's not what an expert whom the hospital restructuring committee invited to take a look at the strategies you're using told you. This expert says that the device you're using, that you're endorsing for the restructuring commission and for the ministry, is a "statistical anomaly unsuitable as a meaningful benchmark" for establishing the number of beds. This average length of stay that you're using, making all the hospitals fit this phoney slide-rule that your so-called experts are using, is flawed rather than merely aggressive.

You know this: Of the recent cuts, hundreds of nurses are out of work and hundreds of beds are being closed simply because of the use of this formula. It says here that the flaws in your formula mean it's "...not sound or achievable, the inevitable consequence of persisting with this will be reduced health...and reduced accessibility."

Minister, will you speak now to all the people affected by the cuts and will you withdraw the use --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health?

Hon Mr Wilson: In working with the Ontario Hospital Association and with the hospitals throughout the province, the government is concerned about the third year of the savings, and we've indicated that; and that we want to listen very, very carefully. Hospitals have done an absolutely tremendous job in year one, and we're just beginning year two, the early stages of year two. They've done a tremendous job, and throughout the system they are serving you won't find a hospital today that isn't serving more patients, maintaining the quality; they have quality councils that measure this.

Where we have problems in hospitals today, those problems need to be addressed. We need to learn from those individual cases and we need to make reinvestments to continue to improve the system. The commission has as its guiding principles improving quality to service and improving access to service. That's what it's doing, and it is looking at communities to ensure --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a question of the Solicitor General. Firefighters in this province know that the Premier broke his promise to consult with them. They know that Bill 84 is going to reduce public safety and put at risk fire protection here in Ontario. Among other things, it opens the doors wide to the privatization of firefighting services.

Just a few weeks ago senior officials from Rural/Metro, a US-based private firefighting service, was up in Waterloo talking to their CEO and presented a plan for the privatization of their fire department, their firefighting services. That's the same US company that you know has already started to take over ambulances here in the province.

One of the things they've proposed to reduce costs, because they're profit-driven, is a 66-hour workweek, and reducing the number of staff that would be available on emergency vehicles. Private firefighting services like Rural/Metro and many others are motivated by profit. Can you explain how privatization of firefighting is going to enhance public safety here in Ontario?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I'd like the member opposite to explain to me how the bill encourages privatization. There's nothing in terms of the legislation that encourages or discourages privatization, but that is no change from the current status. Nothing has changed in that respect, and municipalities in this province have not privatized. That option has been available in the past. Nothing in Bill 84 encourages any change with respect to the approach to the operation of fire services in this province.

Mr Kormos: The firefighters know better. I know better. This minister ought to know better. He redefines "employer" to include private operations and persons in addition to mere municipalities.

Rural/Metro is peddling its wares up here for a very clear reason, because they know that this government is writing a blank cheque for the privatization of public services like firefighting.

Let me tell you how Rural/Metro has done in the United States. Down in the Phoenix area it took them over 20 minutes to arrive at one house fire. The house burned to the ground. Rural/Metro then billed the home owner over $13,000 for equipment and services that never arrived at the site. Another Phoenix-area resident stood there and watched firefighters standing around watching her house burn. They only had three and a half minutes of water in their pumper truck. Another truck broke down and had to be towed away from the scene. That home owner was billed too. That's how private operators have been operating in the United States and that's how they propose to operate here. Why are you opening the door for private firefighting services in Ontario? There's just no justification for it.

Hon Mr Runciman: I didn't get an answer with respect to how we're encouraging privatization or any change in terms of the current status. The member is engaging in real scare tactics here with respect to using some kind of a horrid example in the United States --

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): How much money did they give the PC Party, eh Bob?


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Members come to order, please.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): -- must have been in the legislation --

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane North, come to order.


The Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, come to order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): They're scared, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, please come to order.

Hon Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, if they're genuinely concerned, I'm about to allay their concerns. All they have to do is listen. Bill 84 provides greater protection to communities across this province than is currently the case. Under the current legislation there's no requirement to even provide a fire service, that's the reality, but the new legislation ensures oversight through the fire marshal's office and through the office of the Solicitor General.

If indeed either office feels that a community's public safety is in jeopardy, they have the right to intervene and make requirements for that municipality to provide an adequate level of fire service. If the municipality declines to follow those recommendations, the cabinet and the government of the day have the right to intervene and pass regulations requiring them to do so.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): My question is directed to the minister responsible for women's issues. Given the positive economic initiatives this government is undertaking in helping women to achieve true economic independence, I would like to ask the minister how this government is specifically dealing with this question --


Mr Hastings: -- unlike the opposition, who aren't concerned at all.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): In response to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, there are probably three pieces of information we should be taking back to our constituents.

First of all, our school systems are to be congratulated. Young girls and women are choosing courses that will advance their careers in math and science in order to balance their education so they can get the good jobs.

Second, sexual harassment is still prevalent in our society. In our schools right now, we should also say congratulations to our teachers for using The Joke's Over, which is an extremely good program to eliminate, we hope, sexual harassment in society. We have to start with young people, the younger the better.

The last piece I'd like to talk about is the work of the Minister of Education as he proceeds on apprenticeship reform. It's important to know that only 10% of apprenticeship positions are filled by girls and women. It's important to improve upon that, and we'll be doing that with the Minister of Education in the very near future.

Mr Hastings: Thank you for that excellent response. I'd like to focus also on how your ministry is trying to achieve specific initiatives contained in the last budget. Given that the rate of economic enterprises and growth by women in this province is at three times the ratio that men create businesses, I'd like to know how those particular budgetary measures are helping women to achieve economic independence today, unlike the opposition, who aren't interested at all.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I thank the member for the question. I think it's important to recognize that women are creating small businesses at three times the rate of men. They are the largest creators of small businesses in Canada, so it's extremely important that they were recognized in the last budget in three regards.

First of all, the employer health tax, which was started by the Liberal government some six years ago: It's a huge, important piece of information and an incentive to creators of small business that we take off that employer health tax for businesses that have a payroll of less than $400,000.

The small business investment credit, which the banks are working with: Many women have come forward and said they have probably done better because of that working relationship with their bank.

We've cut the red tape and the overregulation, which wasn't important to either of the two former governments, which increased it to such an extent that people didn't even want to do business in the province of Ontario.

Finally, the tax rate cut will help people who earn less than $20,000 --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question; the member for Prescott and Russell.



Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the minister responsible for francophone affairs. Minister, just a few minutes ago the Minister of Health said francophone services exist at the Ottawa General Hospital. I'd just like to know how you would feel if you were to lose a brother because of a lack of francophone services at the general hospital. What would happen if in Quebec they decided to close the only English hospital that exists in the province?

At the present time, the minister says French services are there and will remain there. Let me tell you, Minister, at the present time francophone services do not exist at the Ottawa General Hospital. My brother was admitted at the Montfort Hospital and transferred to the general hospital. The file followed him in the ambulance. But 16 hours after he was admitted to the general hospital, the nurse at the general told me when I got there, "I'm sorry, Mr Lalonde" -- lucky he's got a strong heart; all the time he had a heart attack -- "but I have not received the record yet." Because the record was written in French by the physician at the Montfort Hospital, 16 hours later, the records were not at the general hospital.

Minister, would you commit today or would you tell the Minister of Health that the Montfort Hospital will remain open for the francophone people of --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Under Bill 8, the general hospital is designated in every area to deliver French-language services. I had the opportunity last summer to be in the general hospital because I lost a cousin there, and I will tell you that French is spoken in every corridor and I had no problem speaking French anywhere. So when you say that the general hospital does not operate in French, you are absolutely wrong. I will tell you that CHEO is designated in certain areas for the delivery of French-language services, as is the civic hospital.

The restructuring committee has recommended --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): You cannot close the Montfort.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, the member for Oriole. Minister of francophone affairs.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I simply want to tell the public, the friends of Montfort, that indeed they have 30 days to express their concerns --


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: These recommendations were made very much with the direction to support francophone services in the community of Ottawa, and I can assure you that francophone services will remain.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I appreciate that you've reserved a ruling on the earlier point of order related to the court decision on Bill 103. I would like you to consider, as you make a ruling on that issue, a related issue on Bill 104, the education bill, the Fewer School Boards Act.

You will be aware that there is a provision in that legislation for retroactivity and that the commissioners who are to essentially take over the powers of duly elected boards have been appointed, and although they are nominally serving as consultants to the ministry, they are in fact carrying out their responsibilities. But even more significant perhaps than that is that the legally elected, mandated boards' powers have been retroactively suspended as of January 14. I believe there's a clear relationship between that ruling and the court order on Bill 103. I'll wait until you've consulted, if you like. At your pleasure, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Yes, it was confirmed in my mind. The ruling I made on Bill 103 at the time -- it was brought forward by the member for Dovercourt and I suggested it was a legal issue at this point in time. Now it's gone out. I will say to you about Bill 104 the same thing I said about Bill 103. It's a legal issue at this time. It hasn't been satisfied. There has not been a legal decision rendered, as I understand, on Bill 104. I understand what you're going to say. You're going to say it has great relationship to Bill 103, but the fact --


The Speaker: Okay, continue.

Mrs McLeod: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say something that you might be prepared to consider, Mr Speaker. It gives me a bit of head start on the next leg.

My concern, and it's in a response the Minister of Education made to a question earlier today, is that people are going to have to take forward almost the same challenge under Bill 104 as has just been adjudicated in court on Bill 103. I know that my colleague raised an issue of contempt. I want to place a slightly different point of order.

It would be my understanding, based on a considerable amount of work that was done a year ago as to the role of the Speaker and the responsibility of the Speaker, that if you believe that something which is part of legislation that has been brought forward is not in order -- and I would submit to you that given the ruling on Bill 103 that retroactivity is not in order in legislation, it would not be in order in Bill 104 -- as Speaker you would be able to direct the government, since apparently it would rather trustees spent money going to court to get another virtually identical situation resolved in legal terms, you as Speaker could prevent that happening by looking at the inappropriateness of that part of that legislation.

The Speaker: The member for Fort William, I appreciate the point of order you raise. I feel that with respect to Bill 104 my original ruling will probably be the same as on Bill 103. It's incumbent that these get before the courts and be heard before the courts and decisions rendered at that stage, and that seems to be the most appropriate process to use today.

What I will say is that I'm taking into consideration all the points of privilege and order with respect to Bill 103. I'm not being dismissive, but I honestly can't see a point of privilege or a contempt that you bring forward with respect to Bill 104.

Mrs McLeod: If I may, I'm not bringing forward either privilege or contempt; I'm bringing forward a point of order. I do this quite seriously. I don't really believe that we should be in a situation in the province of Ontario where private citizens, elected or otherwise, must continually go to court in order to have their government do something which has clearly been shown to be inappropriate and undemocratic.

Again, I'll wait while you consult.

The Speaker: I've heard from the Clerk, and he's saying basically the same thing I'm saying. It's not up to the Speaker to decide the constitutionality of a bill; it's up to the courts to decide that.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, if I may plead my point, I believe we have a very serious issue before this Legislature. We have had an individual representing an elected body go to court and today obtain a decision that legislation being presented in this place is not legally appropriate.

I would submit to you that that action sets a precedent for what is appropriate legislation in this place. Surely you're not saying that as Speaker you cannot look at that precedent now determined in the court, according to your previous direction, a precedent that is clearly applicable to a second piece of legislation before the House, surely you're not saying that you have no power to see the parallel and that yet more citizens have to go to court, make that expenditure, force the government to try and counter it, when you could resolve that by seeing the very clear relationship between the two.

The Speaker: The member for Fort William, that is what I'm saying. I know it's difficult to accept, but that is what I'm saying, simply because the Speaker can't rule on the legality or constitutional legality of legislation, regardless of how closely you see them or how parallel they are. What I'm saying to you is, I can't make that adjudication. As Speaker, I would be in a very dangerous situation if I were to begin ruling on the legalities of bills that came into this place.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, with respect, I believe that you have been given bad advice. I believe we are in a situation which has not had precedent within this Legislature. We have a citizen having a court decision that legislation is inappropriate in being presented to this House, and I believe you have a responsibility to deal with what is not precedented and to at least review the concern.

The Speaker: I'm prepared to do that. If that's what you're asking me to do, to review your concerns, review what you put on the record and give it some consideration, I am prepared to do that. I want you to understand I come at this with some degree of predisposition, but I will give you my undertaking to review it.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With all due respect --

The Speaker: Is this the same point of order? It is?

Mr Wildman: With all due respect, Speaker, to your high office, I understand the difficulty you find yourself in. It would be most helpful to all of us in this assembly, and particularly to you, if the government House leader and the Minister of Education and Training were listening carefully to this discussion and themselves would find parallels and take action rather than waiting for members of the public to have to go to court. Surely it's incumbent upon the government to act, with regard to Bill 104, in compliance with the court ruling on Bill 103 rather than waiting for the public to take them to court.


The Speaker: The member for Algoma, it's not a point of order. I appreciate your comments, but it is not a point of order.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: If the member for Fort William or the member for Algoma wishes to raise a question on Bill 104, the proper time for that is question period. This minister will be more than happy to respond to it.

In response to the comments from the member for Algoma, we will of course review Bill 104 in relationship to any court rulings --


The Speaker: It's a point of privilege. With a great deal of respect, the members opposite do listen to your points of privilege and order. I ask the same for them. Minister.

Hon Mr Snobelen: We obviously will review Bill 104 in light of any rulings from courts and we will make known to the members of the opposition and the third party the results of those reviews. We'll be doing that in good course.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm referring to the court order as it relates to Bill 103, which is presently before the Legislature. The Speaker ruled and we now have a court order which says that the actions of the government to date, as they relate to Bill 103 and some of the provisions within that bill for the appointment of trustees, are, and I would give you the language on page 13: "I conclude that the orders in council of December 18, 1996, were made without authority and are of no legal effect. The appointments are therefore void. The appointees' actions have no legal effect until they are appointed pursuant to a statute in force."

I believe this affects the relevance of this place and I ask, in light of this court decision, if a motion of contempt would be in order because of the actions taken by the government of approving those appointments contrary to the legal action of the court, whether it is up to you to make a ruling that the government acted in contempt of this Legislature. Clearly they acted illegally.

Also, questions were raised in this House. They assured us they were doing nothing wrong. The courts have now said they --

The Speaker: The member for Oriole --

Mrs Caplan: Can I have your ruling?

The Speaker: I'm going to give that ruling because the member for Oakwood and the member for Dovercourt asked for that ruling to be made.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My point of order is with regard to the standing orders that deal with interjections.

This afternoon in the House I think we witnessed an individual member really stepping over the line with interjections. I quite understand the opposing opinions in this chamber and I respect that, as I know you do, Mr Speaker. We've all been on both sides of this chamber. This afternoon my colleague the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs responsible for francophone affairs was explaining that he understood how a particular hospital operated because he personally experienced that last year during the death of his cousin. At this time, without relenting, the member for Windsor-Sandwich continued very loudly, as she does throughout all the question periods and seems to be able to get away with it, to heckle my colleague the minister in spite of the fact that he was explaining --

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Just tell the truth, Margaret.

Mrs Marland: You see what I mean? -- that he had gone through the death of his cousin.

This member, in my opinion, not only steps over the line with her very loud interjections to the point where earlier this afternoon, if you review the tape, you will hear that you had to shout to be heard over some of those members, but particularly the one for Windsor-Sandwich.

The Speaker: The member for Mississauga South, let's be very clear. I think with some degree the opposition tends to, I understand, heckle more than the government side. I think you do understand that, having spent some time in the opposition benches yourself with others.

I've got to say to the member for Mississauga South, when I sit here there's heckling that happens on this side as well. In fact at one point during the day one of your ministers was heckling, I would say, on a fairly regular basis. I didn't call that minister to order at the time either, because I understand that a number of people were heckling.

I understand that you may have problems with some of the members opposite in the way they heckle and what they're saying and so forth, and I know that during that point of time the minister for francophone affairs was offering what I would consider to be a very personal point of view on his life a year or so ago that was probably very emotional for him.

But, to the member for Mississauga South, a lot of people heckle in here and I do my very best to maintain order. With the greatest respect to the member for Mississauga South, it matters not who the person is that's heckling; it doesn't matter to me who they are or where they sit. I will call them to order if they've gone over the edge, which I did a number of times today, and I asked a member to leave.

As far as I'm concerned, the member for Windsor-Sandwich does have a very loud voice. Some of us in the past have been known to have a loud voice as well. I myself had a very loud voice in opposition and never got pitched out of the place. So I'm doing my very best to try and maintain order and decorum, and if you're trying to suggest to me that I'm not throwing the member for Windsor-Sandwich out because I don't particularly mind her heckles or I like her heckles or whatever, you're wrong.

It would be a much simpler job for me if nobody heckled in this place, but this is a fact of life. I'm doing the very best I can, and with all due respect, if the government side would sit quietly by the whole day and the opposition were the only people who were heckling back and forth, then maybe I would come down harder. But there are times when they are provoked and maybe there are times when they're provoking the government side.

I appreciate your point of order, but I just find no basis in fact for it.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a petition which reads:

"Stop Megacity Madness: Citizens Have Democratic Right to Be Heard.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

To this petition I affix my signature and it has been signed by dozens of people from the riding of York South.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My petition is signed by hundreds of people. It reads:

"Citizens Have the Democratic Right to Be Heard on Megacity.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

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

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

"Whereas Bill 103 puts municipal councils in Metro Toronto under trusteeship, ending local democracy; and

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

"Whereas the Tories never proposed abolishing local government in favour of bigger government during the election campaign" -- in fact they pledged to do the opposite --

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

"To give the 2.3 million people in Metro Toronto a say in the future of their cities and stop the imposition of a megacity and stop the undemocratic takeover of our cities by non-elected trustees."

I affix my name to this petition.



Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): "We, the family, friends and staff of Prince Edward Heights, are gravely disappointed with Minister Ecker's decision not to attend the tour and to speak publicly at the forum being held in Picton, Ontario.

"The closure of Prince Edward Heights will be not only a loss for the clients but for the community as well. The payroll alone for Prince Edward Heights is over $16 million. That will be taken directly out of the economy.

"We also feel that the government policy to close all institutions is a blanket policy that does not meet the needs of all individuals with developmental limitations. We want these individuals to have a choice of where they live.

"Once again, we state that Prince Edward Heights has supported over 700 successful community placements and we are very proud of that fact. We feel that at the present time not everyone who resides at Prince Edward Heights would benefit from a community placement and in fact would lose many of the rights and freedoms they now enjoy. They would also lose family and qualified staff due to the lack of any kind of standards being enforced in community agencies. Above all else, these people will lose their homes, friendship and relationships developed over a 25-year period.

"We urge you to come to Picton to meet these people and to see their homes and services and supports that are provided. There are many concerns and questions that we have that can only be answered by you. We would strongly encourage you to arrange a date and time for this."

I sign my name to this petition.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition ici qui me parvient des Amis de la bibliothèque de Hawkesbury, Lefaivre, L'Orignal et Vankleek Hill aux membres de l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario.

«Étant donné que nous croyons fermement que la responsabilité provinciale dans les bibliothèques publiques en Ontario est un droit fondamental de tous les Ontariens et toutes les Ontariennes ;

«Nous, les soussignés, demandons aux membres de l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario de sauvegarder la responsabilité provinciale dans les bibliothèques publiques en s'assurant de maintenir ce qui suit :

«(1) Les subventions provinciales qui permettent d'assurer à tous les Ontariens et à toutes les Ontariennes un accès équitable aux documents et aux services de bibliothèque publique ;

«(2) La coordination des programmes de partage des ressources tels que le système de prêt entre bibliothèques et l'accès au réseau Internet ;

«(3) Une politique permettant d'assurer l'existence du réseau des bibliothèques publiques de l'Ontario ;

«(4) L'aide directe de la part du gouvernement provincial au niveau du service, par exemple par l'entremise du Service des bibliothèques de l'Ontario-Sud et du Service des bibliothèques de l'Ontario du Nord ;

«(5) Une loi maintenant l'autonomie des conseils d'administration des bibliothèques publiques en Ontario.»


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have another petition, mostly from my riding but from all over the city of Toronto. It reads:

"Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Mike Harris and John Snobelen promised to give Ontario students a better education and to make the education system more accountable; and

"Whereas there is nothing in Bill 104 or in prior bills to indicate how or whether the education of Ontario's students will improve; and

"Whereas Bill 104 severely undermines an important level of local, democratically elected representation; and

"Whereas Bill 104 allows the government to appoint an Education Improvement Commission with sweeping powers that reports to the Minister of Education; and

"Whereas the fact that Bill 104 states that the decisions of the Education Improvement Commission are `final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court' indicates a severe lack of regard for democracy; and

"Whereas the radical change to the structure of the education system called for in Bill 104 and the undue speed with which the government is attempting to pass and implement Bill 104 indicate a severe lack of regard for democracy; and

"Whereas democracy is the system that makes government accountable,

"We, the undersigned, demand that the government withdraw Bill 104."

As I agree with this, I will affix my name to this petition.


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I have a petition in regard to base funding as it relates to hospital restructuring in my community. It's signed by about 120 people. It reads, very briefly:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

I'll be happy to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

I've also signed this petition.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to restructure completely the provincial-municipal relationship without having consulted the people of Ontario; and

"This restructuring proposes to download to municipalities the cost of transportation and such critical social services as welfare and long-term care for the elderly and the chronically ill; and

"Removes school boards' ability to tax, eliminating any effective local control over schools and school programs; and

"The government's actions fail to guarantee existing levels of funding and failure to recognize the unequal ability of local communities to bear the cost of these new burdens, thus producing inequitable access to essential services; and

"Whereas the government's lack of meaningful public consultation and disregard for public response pose a serious threat to democracy;

We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, because we care about the quality of life in our province and the wellbeing of our children, neighbours and communities, register a vote of non-confidence to the government in the province of Ontario."

I affix my signature to this petition.

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

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


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

I support this petition and hope the government will withdraw Bill 84.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Speed, experience and teamwork save lives.

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

I affix my signature to this petition as well.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition.

"Whereas the city of Scarborough is requiring individuals who want to participate in the mail-in referendum to provide their name, address and signature on the ballot; and

"Whereas this requirement is blatantly undemocratic and threatens the legitimacy of the democratic process; and

"Whereas the city of Scarborough makes no mention as to whether or not it will accept ballots from residents who wish to vote in confidence; and

"Whereas the question on the ballot itself is slanted towards the position of the city and cannot be viewed as a neutral question; and

"Whereas this uncertainty and undemocratic procedure makes the entire process a great misuse of taxpayers' dollars and tarnishes any results that will come out of the vote;

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to (1) speak out against this undemocratic vote, (2) disregard the results of the vote, and (3) continue with the proposed unification of the municipalities into one unified city of Toronto."


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition against Bill 84 and in favour of firefighters who, as you know, are the best in the world. It reads as follows:

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

I have affixed my signature to this document.


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

"Firefighters need speed, experience and teamwork to save lives. I oppose any legislation that could undermine the work of my local firefighters and jeopardize fire safety in my community. Please listen to professional firefighters and amend Bill 84 to eliminate the threat to fire safety."

This is signed by 15 residents of Collingwood. I agree with the petitioners and I have signed the petition as well.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I went to General Vanier public school in Fort Erie, and the students tell me they'd like to see Douglas Memorial Hospital stay open.

"We need the hospital facilities right in Fort Erie because of the great care that staff members give to the people of Fort Erie at the emergency centre and other departments of the hospital.

"Just think, if you close the hospital, people in Fort Erie that hurt themselves badly, people in need of medical care and even matters of life and death, would have to drive all the way to Niagara Falls, Welland or St Catharines, plus the doctors would more likely move elsewhere because they'd have no hospital for their patients."

It's signed by it looks like about 100 grades 6 and 8 students at General Vanier, like Heather Porteous, Ashley Sumbler, and I'll sign my signature with these student.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which I'll try to read in the most clear and loud voice possible.

"Whereas Windsor-Essex county was the first community to undergo hospital restructuring; and

"Whereas the community supported the recommendations of the Win-Win report based on a funding model that included the expansion of community-based care; and

"Whereas recent reports estimate that Windsor-Essex hospital expenditure is underfunded by approximately $122 per person; and

"Whereas this represents the lowest funding per capita for hospital services of any community in Ontario with a population of over 200,000;

"Whereas hospitals across the province have been forced to further reduce expenditures 18%; and

"Whereas these cuts have forced hospitals to eliminate emergency services in the west end of Windsor and other desperately needed services; and

"Whereas the minister acknowledged that additional funding was necessary in high-growth areas;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the Minister of Health to provide appropriate levels of health care funding to hospitals in Windsor-Essex which would allow Windsor Regional Hospital to provide urgent care services for the west-end community and to restore equitable health care funding across Windsor and Essex county."

I affix my signature.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the House calendar motion.

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

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Yesterday the House agreed to allow Mr Wildman and me to split the opening time. I would like to ask, Speaker -- I believe there is agreement and I checked with the respective whips or House leaders -- if I could have unanimous consent to further split the time that's left in the opening 90 minutes with my colleague from Hamilton Centre.

The Deputy Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Silipo: I appreciate the members agreeing to that request. It will allow me not to use up too much of my voice, as I've just been recovering from a bit of the flu and a virus, and allow my colleague from Hamilton Centre to get on the record. I don't say that to try to gain any sympathy, I want to assure you. I don't know how my voice sounds. It doesn't sound like it's all there from my end, but I would not want for a second, if my voice is not carrying with its usual fervour, particularly people across to take it as any sign of relenting, on my part and on our part, our opposition to what this government is doing and certainly our opposition to what this motion in front of us does.

We know that what this motion does is it orders the schedule, in effect, for the Parliament of Ontario for the next number of weeks by ensuring, if it's passed, as we assume it will pass later today, that when the House adjourns on March 6, it will stand adjourned until Tuesday, April 1, and the House will then meet for that week, including Friday of that week, essentially to deal with, as we know from what the government House leader has indicated to us, Bill 103 and Bill 104 -- I'll come back and talk a little about those two bills -- and then it will adjourn again for two weeks to give further time for committees to meet on a number of bills.

What are those bills and what is this motion all about? We know that those bills, starting with Bill 103 and Bill 104 but carrying on into a number of other bills, particularly Bill 106, which puts together a new municipal finance system in the province, and a number of many other bills that I'll have a chance to talk about as we go through this debate -- what those are all about, in the words of the government, is the Who Does What. In our view they're more about who does what to whom.

What this package is all about, what indeed this special session of the Parliament is really all about, is Mike Harris putting into full effect his Common Sense Revolution as he sees it, his sense that what he's about and his whole purpose for existing as a government is not to govern in the best interests of all the people of Ontario but rather to govern for those two and a half to three out of 10 electors who voted for the Conservative Party last time.

Members opposite will say, "We got 45% of the vote." It's true, but we know, and action after action has confirmed, that this government simply acts in a way to try to maintain its level of support among, at the end of the day, those two and a half to three out of 10 eligible voters who actually voted for this Conservative government. They really don't care very much about what the other seven of those eligible voters have to say about any of these issues.

Why don't they care? They don't care because they see that their mandate is not to govern in the best interests of all Ontarians but is rather to govern in a way that will put more money and more power into the hands of fewer and fewer people, those fewer and fewer people being the wealthiest and already the most powerful citizens in our province. For the rest of us it means, "Get used to whatever crumbs fall along the way."

That's the action we see in Bills 103 and 104, that's the action we see perpetuated through the kind of rush this government has wanted to go through to implement this legislation, and that's what's behind this motion as this government wants to continue trampling on the democratic process and trampling on everything that's been good and solid about how Parliament in this province has worked for these 150 years since Confederation and even prior to that.

We will not be supporting this motion because we believe that what this government is doing is fundamentally wrong. We believe that a good government looks at the problems of the day -- and we know the fiscal problems of the day are real -- and says, "How can we fix them in a way that maintains those basic qualities, those basic tenets of our society, those things that have made and make Ontario, Canada, the envy of the world?"

That's not what this government is doing. What this government is doing instead is dividing people, dividing people into those that have and those that have not; it's dividing people into the wealthiest and the rest of us. They're saying: "If you're wealthy we're going to make you wealthier, if you're powerful we're going to give you more power, and if you're the rest of Ontario, forget about it. We'll let a couple of people on the opposition bench from time to time speak on your behalf, but we're not really interested in what you have to say."


That's been the attitude we've seen from this government, and it's certainly been the attitude we've seen perpetuated in the way in which they have gone about handling these major pieces of legislation. Let's take a look at some of these things, what this government is doing and some of the details.

We know that most urgent in the government's schedule are Bills 103 and 104. Of course, they make the argument that the reason they need these two bills -- Bill 103 being the megacity bill, the bill that forces amalgamation on Metropolitan Toronto, unlike any other area of the province, despite the objections of all of the local councils, despite the objections of hundreds and thousands of citizens who are expressing themselves through meetings, those few who have gotten the chance through the hearings on Bill 103, against what the government is doing. The government wants to go on.

We know that they equally want to press on with Bill 104, a bill that will reduce the number of school boards greatly, pulled together into very large school boards. Just to use the example here in Metropolitan Toronto, the new school board that will be created will have over 500 schools in its jurisdiction, will have 300,000 students in its jurisdiction. It will be a system that will be larger than the province of Alberta under one school board with 22 trustees, all of whom will be paid a paltry $5,000 or $6,000.

We know that will greatly reduce the ability of parents to have any influence in what goes on in their schools and in their children's education. It will greatly reduce any ability those school boards will have to make any real decisions to improve the quality of education. We know it's part and parcel of this government's plan to, in effect, take out of the system of education some $1 billion across the province.

We see this kind of attitude continuing. Day by day we continue to see the arrogance that has become the trademark of this government exemplified. We saw it earlier today once again in the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, who only days ago was found by the Speaker, in putting out a leaflet praising the virtues, as he saw them, of the megacity, to be in prima facie contempt of this Parliament because in putting out that information he had deemed that Parliament didn't matter, that the bill, once introduced, was just as good as passed. That, of course, just happens to be contrary to the process around here. It also happens to be contrary to hundreds of years of parliamentary democracy.

But that wasn't enough for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, because just today we found out that one of the basic tenets of that bill was struck down. We know that one of the things this government has relied on greatly in implementing its megacity bill has been the imposition of trustees. What did we hear today from the courts of Ontario? We heard that the appointment of those trustees was illegal, void, of no effect. Yet the minister would not stand in his place and make a statement to that effect, explain to us what he was going to do, how he was going to deal with it. His off-the-cuff remark was, "Well, if you want to know what I'm going to do, ask me a question."

It's that type of arrogance that we continue to see from that minister particularly, from other ministers in this government, from the Premier himself. It's that arrogance that has become the trademark of this government. It's that arrogance that will be the ruin of this government at the end of the day, because it's that arrogance that people are seeing more and more. It's that lack of caring about all Ontarians. It's that sense that comes from, "I know best." It's that sense that comes from, "I don't care what seven out of 10 Ontarians have to say; I only have to worry about the three out of 10 who are going to bother to vote for the Conservative Party." It's the attitude that is contemptuous of the democratic process that we have in this province.

Today we saw the Minister of Municipal Affairs, in the face of a decision by the Ontario Court of Justice, General Division, and Justice Brennan, not even prepared to stand up and admit that what he had done was wrong. His defence was: "Well, we weren't surprised by the decision. We did say that the trustees didn't have these powers until the legislation is passed." That was the minister's defence.

But it's interesting, if you look at the judgement, that the reality is somewhat different, because in the judgement Justice Brennan quotes, in effect, from what the minister said here in this House on one occasion, when he said -- and this is Justice Brennan quoting Minister Leach -- "We've also heard some politicians say that the advice of the board of trustees does not have to be recognized and that they have no legal right to do their job until the legislation is passed. That's technically correct." Here's the problem: "However," the minister says, "as the trustees' right to examine municipal decisions will be retroactive to the date this legislation was introduced it is in everyone's interests to cooperate with them."

That's exactly one of the things that Justice Brennan found was wrong with the order in council, because he went on to say, "On the very words of the orders in council which are the subject of this application it is apparent that from the time of their appointment the appointees were to fulfil the functions of the board referred to in the proposed act." That's what the order in council says. Then he goes on to say later on in the judgement -- of course making the point that appointments under that authority must await the coming into force of the legislation; that point isn't in contention -- "If these orders in council were allowed to stand, the government would be allowed to do indirectly what it cannot do directly."

That's the point that the minister either chose not to hear, chose not to understand, or that's the point that simply bypassed him, because what the minister was doing was basically trying to have it both ways. He was hoping that in fact the courts would not find against him, because if he really believed, as he said here today, that he knew the orders in council were wrong, then he had lots of time prior to this judgement to actually get the orders in council changed.

For the people who may be following out there and may not understand what all the technicalities have to do with, an order in council is a decision made by the cabinet.

The minister had all of the time and all of the ability to go back and correct that problem if he really believed, as he was trying to say today, that he realized there was a problem, but he didn't, because he was hoping he wouldn't get caught on it.

That again is symptomatic of the way in which this government and this minister have been functioning. They just want to try to sneak stuff through. They just want to put things through, hoping that people will not understand, hoping that people will not be upset by what they're doing.

The reality is altogether different. The reality is that people are getting upset. People are angry at what this government is doing in trying to impose this megacity scheme here in Metropolitan Toronto, particularly when they say, "What's the rush?" Particularly when they see that the same rules that are being applied here to Metropolitan Toronto are not being applied to the rest of the greater Toronto area in the 905 area, where there has been a call for amalgamations, a call for changes to be made, and yet there, as is the right way to do it, municipalities are being given the opportunity to come up with proposals. Here in Metropolitan Toronto, "The minister knows best; the Premier knows best" is the attitude of this government.

Even out just not too far from here, in the Hamilton-Wentworth area, where there has been ongoing discussion about that issue, we have yet to see what the government is going to do with that. But so far, we have seen no sign that they want to try to impose a decision. If they persist in that attitude, that I will say is the correct one, because it's important that as these amalgamations take place -- we believe change needs to happen. We're not here standing up defending the status quo, whether it's in Metropolitan Toronto or anywhere else in the province. But we believe that change, particularly when it's change that's going to be there for years to come, particularly when it's change that's going to affect the way in which local government will work not just for the next year or two but for the next 20, 30, 40 and 50 years, when those kinds of long-term changes are being made, it's incumbent upon a government that wants to be known as a good government to ensure that those changes come about only after significant discussion involving local politicians, involving the provincial politicians, the ministers responsible, and involving particularly the citizens in those jurisdictions who will have to live with the consequences.


So we say on Bill 103 that what the government is doing is wrong, and I want to say to people who may be watching this debate and to members across who are from outside of Metropolitan Toronto that this is not just a case of protecting the process in Toronto; this is not just a case of wanting to ensure that Toronto gets treated like others. We know that there are some across this province who like the idea of people beating up on Toronto, but I want to say to people, as I think people are beginning to understand more and more, that if this government is able to impose in this draconian way these draconian measures on the largest metropolis not only in Ontario but in Canada, then where does that leave all the other smaller municipalities? Where does that leave all the other municipalities in their ability to defend their local structures, to defend that sense of local democracy that has developed over the years? It means that if this government can impose its will against the expressed wish of the people here in the largest metropolis of Metropolitan Toronto, then it can do that and it will do that, haphazardly, as it chooses, in every other municipality that it chooses to do so, right across this province.

There is a message there that I think people are beginning to understand, and that message is coming across clearer and clearer as people are beginning to understand that this whole agenda is driven not by a desire to try to improve the governance structure, at least as it applies to Metropolitan Toronto, but is being driven primarily by the push of this government to push on to municipalities the cost of basic services that don't belong at all on the property tax system.

We know that is at the heart of what this government is doing. We know that the downloading of costs on to the property tax base, in the government's view, is simply a tradeoff for taking education off the property tax. But I think as people are looking at this -- I'm not talking here about my own perspective on this, but I'm talking about the perspective of groups throughout the province, including groups like the board of trade here in Metropolitan Toronto, who say clearly that this is wrong, who say that putting social services like social assistance, child care, long-term care, the cost of taking care of our seniors, putting those costs on to the property tax system is wrong because those services have nothing to do with property taxes. Those services don't belong on the property tax system. Those services belong on the provincial income tax system, and that's where they should remain.

We know that what really is driving this agenda, as I said earlier, is this government's wish, this government's continuing insistence on making the rich richer and making the rest of us poorer. That's going to be true in a dollars-and-cents practical way and it's also going to be true in terms of our sense and our collective as a society.

What we will see as a result of these actions is a government taking over the cost of education, in and of itself not a bad thing, but it will not guarantee that the same dollar amount being spent on education now will continue to be spent. The minister has refused to answer that question on numerous occasions when we've put it to him, and the reason for that is because the real reason the Tory government is taking the cost of education from the property tax on to the provincial level is not so they can create greater equity across the province but so they can, as they want to do and as they will do, take about $1 billion out of the system of education.

They'll finesse that. I expect them to do that. We probably won't see much of that cut in 1997, but I say to people, watch the numbers for 1998, because you will see that money come out of the school system.

The Minister of Education likes to run around the province talking about the 45% of costs of education spent outside the classroom. He of course includes in that the costs of principals, vice-principals, support teachers, all those things and many others that go into making the classroom work, that make the school work.

As we speak here today, in one of the committees of this chamber people are speaking against Bill 104. People are pointing out that this is about taking money out of the system of education. That's what is going to happen with Bill 104 when the Minister of Education will have full control and full ability to take that kind of money out of our school system. It will mean at the end of the day that we will have more children in classrooms and fewer teachers in our classrooms.

I can tell you from my local perspective that my local school board estimates that to make up their portion of that $1 billion in cuts, some $240 million, as they estimate, even if they were to close down all the administration of the system, the one central office and the two area offices they have to run the system, even if they were to completely shut down the administration they would still be looking at having to cut about 20% of the funding that goes to each school. A 20% cut in the budget of each school means cutting into the classroom. It means putting more kids into classrooms, making them more overcrowded, and it means fewer teachers to do the job we want them to do for our kids and for their future. That's the story as far as education is concerned. That's what this government, with its doublespeak, is doing with respect to education.

But the story is even worse, because it doesn't stop at that. It doesn't stop at the undemocratic ways in which they're imposing the megacity here in Metropolitan Toronto. They continue then by putting on to the property tax system the costs of welfare, the costs of child care and the costs of long-term care, 50% of the costs, moving from the 20% we have now as a municipal responsibility in social assistance. That, everyone is beginning to understand, will mean higher property taxes. It will mean higher property taxes because those are exactly the costs that will increase over the next number of years.

As our population ages -- and whether you're in Metropolitan Toronto or in northern Ontario or in the Ottawa area or in Windsor or in London or anywhere else in this province, that's the reality; our population is aging -- we will need more services for our seniors. By pushing those costs to the property tax system, what this government is doing is saying to the municipalities: "You worry about that. We are washing our hands of that responsibility."


Why are they doing that? They are doing that simply because they have to find $3 billion in all of this process so they can fund the infamous provincial tax cut. It comes back to that because that's what it's all about, even though it's the only promise made in the Common Sense Revolution that Mike Harris seems to be really intent on keeping. He seems to be so intent on keeping it that he doesn't care if in the process he ends up destroying the very fabric of Ontario, the very things that have made this the greatest place in the world to live and work in.

He is doing that because he wants to say, "I kept my promise about the 30% tax cut." He has forgotten the point he made continuously prior to and during the last election, that there was only one taxpayer and that governments should not, as Mike Harris put it then, resolve their problems by downloading their costs on to another level of government. He criticizes the federal government, as he should, when it does that, when it has taken some $2 billion out of transfers to the province of Ontario, and we agree with him on that point, but then he turns around and does exactly the same thing to municipalities: a 45% cut to the municipalities this year and last year alone, and more to come now through this indirect way of increasing municipal taxes.

Mike Harris will be able to say: "See, I've given you the 30% tax cut. It's those municipalities that are increasing your taxes. They're the ones to blame, and if you don't like what they're doing, you can just turf them out of office. If they don't do what we want them to do, if they don't go into privatizing services" -- as Bill 104 calls for, as they want municipalities to do as a way to lower costs -- "if they don't get involved in this race to the bottom, they're the ones to blame. They're the ones who have increased your taxes."

You know what I see happening? I see people beginning to see through this façade. I see people beginning to understand that what this government is doing in Bills 103 and 104 is fundamentally wrong, because it's not about better government, it's not about improving our education system; it's about taking money out of our school system, it's about making our school system poorer and it's about imposing the will of this government on municipalities. It's about saying that Mike Harris will go to all ends to impose his will so that he can see through his 30% tax cut. If he was interested rather in good government, he would take the advice that's been given, but he's not interested in doing that.

We see even further examples of that in just one other bill I'll refer to that's also part of this great package: Bill 106. The government calls it the Fair Municipal Finance Act. We call it the downloading again of further costs on to the property tax base. I'm going to talk about just one provision of this bill, because so far this government has tried to create the impression that it supports business, particularly small business. I want to say to small business people to beware of Bill 106, because within Bill 106 and the imposition of market value assessment -- I know the government calls it actual value assessment, somehow thinking that's softer or better, but it's not. I don't want to talk about that today; I'll leave that for another day.

The part of Bill 106 that small business should really take a good, hard look at is the business occupancy tax. What does Bill 106 do? It looks good on the surface because it removes the business occupancy tax, which is a tax that small business particularly and others aren't too thrilled with. But then what does it do? It says to municipalities, "You figure out how you're going to make up the money that you now get from the business occupancy tax." And we're not talking about dollars and cents here; we're talking about $1.6 billion that's raised through this tax across the province, some $600 million just in Metropolitan Toronto.

What's the government saying to municipalities here? Right now, this tax allows municipalities to set it in a way that takes into account the different earning powers that businesses have, so there are variable rates. For example, small businesses pay 30% of the assessed value of the property they occupy, while banks are taxed at 75% of the assessed value of the property they occupy, and that's something that goes back to 1904. The principle of this bill was to be on the perceived ability to pay that some types of businesses were viewed to have, so therefore the differentiation in the levy had to do with the notion that a small business should not have to pay as much as a large business like a bank.

What we see here in the removal of this is the government saying to municipalities: "You find another way to raise the money. If you choose to find that money, you can just levy it on residential property taxes" -- I'm not sure how many municipalities are going to do that -- "or you can levy it right across the whole business conglomerate that pays taxes. If you do that, though, you have to apply a uniform rate of assessment."

What does that mean? It means that small businesses -- and this is where I say to small businesses, "Beware these provisions of Bill 106" -- would see about a 50% increase in the business taxes that they pay now. And guess what. Surprise, surprise. Banks, on the other hand, would see a 40% decrease.

That's consistent. It's very consistent with the principles that are guiding this government: "If you're rich and powerful and big, we're going to give you a break. We're going to make you pay less. If you're the rest of Ontario, in this case small business, we're going to make you pay more."

That's the philosophy that's driving this government, and I say to small business owners across the province to take a good, hard look at what Bill 106 does. Don't get fooled by the first part of the sentence that government spokespeople use when they say, "We're getting rid of the business occupancy tax." Ask the question, "What happens then?" and you will find that what happens then is that small business is going to get stiffed, and stiffed in a major way, because it's going to be the banks and the larger businesses and corporations that are going to get the tax break through Bill 106.

I don't know how many members of the government have actually looked at that or have received that kind of explanation as they have bought into this bill, but if they haven't, I say to them, "Take a good, hard look," because there are a bunch of people who want to run around saying how supportive they are of small business and how much support they get from small business. Let me tell you, when we get this bill in committee and we go through this discussion and people begin to understand what is going on, I don't think we're going to have the same level of comfort from the government benches that we seem to have at this point and juncture.

That's the last point I want to speak on because in this process -- and I have been following more closely Bill 103 as the critic for our party on that issue, but I know similarly in Bill 104 as the hearings have begun here in Toronto, and on Bill 104 there will be a few hearings outside of Metropolitan Toronto in other centres across the province, far less than what is needed in both cases to be able to hear the many hundreds of people who on both of those bills have expressed an interest in speaking. But as that is happening, I have begun to sense a certain uneasiness among the government backbenchers. I have begun to sense a certain discomfort that maybe, just maybe, what they're doing here isn't quite the right thing.

Now that may be because in their hearts they're beginning to question the validity of what they're doing, or it may be that being the electoral animals that we all are, they are beginning to understand that this could in effect be what brings them down as a government and what gets them defeated in their own constituencies come the next election. Whatever that is, whatever it is that's beginning to drive that uneasiness, I want to say to government members opposite, listen to what people are saying on these two bills, on Bill 106 and on the myriad of other bills over the next number of weeks. Even in the rushed way in which you insist on doing this, if you listen really hard you will hear the message that Ontarians are giving you right across this province.


That message is that what you are doing is wrong; that downloading of costs on to the municipal taxpayers is the wrong way to go; that if you really believe that the deficit is the problem -- and how many times have we heard members opposite talk about the $1 billion a day or an hour that we are spending, however they want to play with these numbers? If that were really the problem, if that were really the focus, then you would not be proceeding with this 30% tax cut, which already, as you've implemented the first half of that, we know has not done what Mike Harris said was the purpose of it during the election, which is to create the 725,000 jobs.

We have seen statistics come out that show we are losing jobs in Ontario, not creating jobs. But even if you take the government's figures at face value, you will see that we are nowhere close to where we should be in creating the 725,000 jobs that they themselves said were really the ultimate reason why the Common Sense Revolution was set up and why this 30% tax cut is so important.

The 30% tax cut is not doing what it was supposed to do according to Mike Harris. It's not creating the jobs. It's not creating the jobs, according to their own figures. In the process it's destroying services in our health care system, as we point out to the Minister of Health day after day. It means that people are having to be served in corridors of hospitals because of the cuts in our hospitals. It means that as hospitals get shut down, we see no indication from this government of any understanding that this means that money, where there are justifiable amalgamations of hospitals to be made, needs to remain in the community, needs to be put into other forms of health care. No, all we are seeing is the slashing; all we are seeing are the cuts that are resulting in a deterioration of our health care system.

We are seeing the same attitude with respect to our education system, as the Minister of Education on the one hand says to colleges and universities, "You go ahead and increase tuitions by up to 20%," and then turns around and says, "I'm not doing it; they're the ones who are doing it," and at the same time turns around and says, "I'd like to have control of the expenditures of our school system for elementary and secondary schools so I can take $1 billion out of the system."

We are therefore seeing our health care system deteriorating, our children's education deteriorating, costs being put on to property taxes that will make property taxes increase, and all for what? So that Mike Harris can stand up at the end of the day and say, "I've delivered on my promise for a 30% tax cut"?

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): It's creating jobs.

Mr Silipo: But it's not creating jobs. That's the point: It isn't creating the jobs. So if it's not creating the jobs, what's it all about? It's got nothing to do with creating jobs. It's all about making the wealthy in our province wealthier, making the powerful in our province more powerful and saying to the rest of us: "You don't care. You don't exist. We don't care about you. You don't count." That's the Mike Harris attitude.

They can cut it any way they want, they can put the best face, they can use the best doublespeak, but the reality is that people are beginning to understand what the agenda of this government is all about. It's not about creating jobs. It's not even about reducing the deficit, because if it were, then there would be no justification for the tax cut. It is about making the wealthy even more wealthy. It is making the rest of us poorer. It is destroying the very fabric of our society.

People understand that this is what the agenda of this government is all about, and you know what? They are getting angry, and as they get angry they are beginning to get upset and they are beginning to cause discomfort among the members of the government caucus opposite. As that discomfort grows, we will see to what extent they will hold the line or to what extent they will come to their senses.

This motion in front of us is wrong because it continues this action by this government of just ramming through the various pieces of legislation, whether it's Bill 103, Bill 104, Bill 106, many of the others. It's doing it all for the wrong reasons. People out there understand what's going on, people are getting angrier, people are getting more upset, and I urge them to continue to create discomfort among the members opposite.

In closing, I want to say one final word: Here in Metropolitan Toronto there will be yet one more opportunity for people to express themselves. Many have tried and been unsuccessful in expressing themselves, in expressing their opposition to what the government is doing through the hearings on Bill 103 and the hearings on Bill 104, but people in Metropolitan Toronto who live or own property in Metropolitan Toronto and are Canadian citizens will get an opportunity at least to vote on the megacity bill throughout the days that are going on now and up to Monday, March 1.

I want to say to people very clearly: Take that opportunity and so no to Mike Harris if you agree with us that, in effect, what they are doing is so fundamentally wrong, as we believe many people are saying what they are doing is so fundamentally wrong. Then we will see if Mike Harris and Al Leach and all of his ministers dare to show so much contempt for the Parliament of the province and for the people of Metropolitan Toronto that they will continue to try to impose the megacity bill even against the express wishes of the people. I don't think they're going to be able to do that, but we will see what happens.

I just want to say to people: Take that opportunity that you have to express your view on the megacity bill and indeed to express your view on the actions of this government, because you believe, like us, that what they are doing is fundamentally wrong, it's destroying our society and it's doing it all for the wrong reasons.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: We don't have a quorum, and this is a very important issue.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity, and I want to pick up where my colleague the member for Dovercourt left off, because I think he has made excellent points in addressing the very issue that's in front of us. What is indeed before us today is a motion that would allow the government to proceed with the overwhelming agenda it has for the people of Ontario; it's not just for this place.

I think it's worth pointing out that this is not an agreement that we willingly come to, not by any stretch. The reason we're at the point this late, if you will, because this is a continuation of last fall's session, the reason we're here at this late date, finally struggling with the number of bills and issues in front of this Legislature is that we were fairly effective in slowing down this House. Not because we wanted to be obstructionist, but because this government was moving so quickly and with such little regard for the democratic traditions of this place that we felt an obligation to the issues that are indeed before this province to do everything we could to slow this steamroller down, to give people a chance, an opportunity to have their say, to digest what is going on, so they can think for themselves what the implications of these changes are.


I think there are three main reasons why the government is indeed ramming things through and rushing them through and putting so much on the table at the same time.

First of all, I believe it's a deliberate attempt to overwhelm the people of the province by virtue of the number of bills, the magnitude of the bills, the implication of the bills, the amount of change that this represents at a time when there's global change around us that has already got people quite upset and quite nervous and apprehensive about the future. I believe they're deliberately loading all this on in front of us because they're trying to have the effect of people throwing their arms in the air and saying: "I just can't keep up with what's going on any more. I give up. They're not going to listen to us anyway." I really believe it's by design that they are doing this.

When I take a look at the agenda we have in front of us, just to mention a few -- and this is not dealing with the issues that have already gone by, just the issues that are in front of us now -- we've got, of course, the huge uproar over the Toronto megacity, an idea that, quite frankly, didn't even exist until a few months ago. It came out of nowhere. In fact the ministers of this government had said this was not a concept they liked. They didn't approve of it. Now we find it's going to be their vision of the future, and if they have their way it will indeed be the legislative structure of the people in this area. It has caused tremendous uproar, unlike anything we've seen in decades. That's one piece that's in front of us.

The education reform and changes, the downloading, all of those changes -- when I was travelling around I spoke to a group just the other day and they said to me: "Dave, don't they understand this is going to hurt kids? Don't they understand this is going to hurt classrooms? Why are they rushing through so quickly? We're having trouble staying on top of it. We're not getting an opportunity to have our say." That's one standalone issue, an issue that is of such importance it deserves the kind of hearing and attention and analysis that people want to give it.

In my community of Hamilton there are parents, there are teachers, there are support staff who are clamouring for an opportunity to have a say, and they know they're going to get one quick hit with the bill that this government has in front of us, and that's it. They really don't understand why. They want to understand, but there is no answer other than they're deliberately trying to ram it through.

The firefighters, Bill 84: Remember the promise that the current Premier made when he was the leader of the third party? It's on videotape right there, and I recall the conference because I sent in a videotape as the Solicitor General at the time on behalf of our government and heard about Mike Harris's videotape and what he said.

He said, and I paraphrase, but he said very clearly, "I promise you, firefighters" -- this was to their conference -- "I won't make one change without thorough consultation." Well, the bill that's in front of us right now, Bill 84, not only didn't have thorough consultation, but firefighters in this province weren't even given the decency of seeing the day it was tabled here in the Legislature. He broke that promise. That's another bill that's in front of us, and when we talk about the implications of that for firefighting, for the safety of our communities, for the safety of our families, it has widespread implications.

I look at the government whip there laughing away. They think this is funny. The arrogance shows itself as they laugh about all this. They mock the fact that I'm being loud. You're damn right I'm being loud, because we need to scream from the rooftops. You can make all the fun you want, but there's an awful lot of people out there who agree with what I'm saying right now, that you have no right to do this. You laugh all you want. The day of reckoning will come.

Then there are the changes to the Police Services Act. Again, massive changes, huge implications for the policing in our province. They're ramming that one through at the same time. There are also development charges; changes to the libraries, their funding and their governance; ultimately the privatization of the delivery of water; the red tape bills; it goes on and on. That's what in front of us right now, and that's not all of it; but those are some of the larger pieces that are in front of us right now. That's why we did what we did in terms of trying to slow down this government, to provide some modicum of democracy, some opportunity for people to have their say.

That's not taking into account the fact that we've already got the health restructuring commission going around shutting down hospitals all across the province, which is, by the way, on top of cuts you've already made to hospital budgets. There are an awful lot of people in my community of Hamilton and all across Ontario who are extremely concerned about what you're doing to health care, and how much opportunity are they having to have a say about that? You just ram that straight through.

Bill 99 is still to come before this House: massive changes to the WCB, taking $15 billion away from injured workers and giving $6 billion of it back to their employer friends, the very people, by the way, who owe every penny of the unfunded liability -- not taxpayers; those same employers who are getting a $6-billion gift are the ones who owe that unfunded liability. That's not just amendments to the WCB, I would point out, that's a completely brand-new WCB act, a bill that took years and decades to evolve because of the complexity, because of the fact that it involved life-and-death issues, the very health of workers. In one fell swoop they're going to massively change the way injured workers are treated in this province and, I might say, treated in a way that gives them the back of this government's hand.

Occupational health and safety: There's a discussion paper out there. That's happening now too. On top of everything else I've talked about, that's out there. One of the key things in there is a downloading of responsibilities away from this government back into the workplace, and ultimately they're going to water down the right of workers to refuse unsafe work. That's what that document's all about; that's going on as we talk about this too.

The Employment Standards Act, Bill 49 -- that was only their first crack. There's still a discussion paper to come on that one, as they take another massive review of that entire piece of legislation. That's happening at the same time that I mention all these other things.

I make the case that this government is deliberately trying to overwhelm people so that they will ultimately give up in frustration and despair because they can't keep up with what's going on. That's just what you want. You want people to throw their arms in the air, tune out, just say to themselves, "I can't do this any more. They're not going to listen anyway," and give up. I think that's part of your political strategy and I think it's part of your communications strategy.

Then, of course, overarching all of this is the $8 million worth of ads, which is really upsetting a lot of people, the government should know. People really resent that. While all this is happening, they turn on their TVs and there's Mike Harris smiling away, saying, "Everything's wonderful, don't worry, be happy." The last time a Premier did that was the ads that David Peterson used in 1990. Remember? It was either on a train or on a bus. They had him sitting there saying, "All is well in Ontario."

That's when the polls said he was going to win by some 53%, and we know what happened there. I would suggest it would be wise for this government to take heed of that example, because that's what's happening here. While you're trying to sell this "Be happy, don't worry" message, underneath that, every sector of our society and every sector of our economy is absolutely appalled at what you're doing and how quickly you're doing it.

The second reason I think they have the agenda they have and why there's so much here and why we're back in special session and why things are being rammed through is because under this government's plans, all the horrible decisions that have to be made -- because there are some horrible decisions that will have to be made as a result of your legislation. You're forcing that. It's being designed in a way that it's never this government that takes the blame. My colleague from Dovercourt mentioned this and I want to further emphasize it, because I think it's a crucial part of this government's overall strategy.

When they download all these services and when they push away responsibility in every area, ultimately they have the ability, as we've seen the Minister of Education do time after time after time, when there are decisions made that affect the classroom -- and in my community of Hamilton that has happened; our classrooms have been affected. When that Minister of Education is asked the questions, he stands up and says: "Oh, I didn't make that decision. That's those local trustees. You go blame them. They're the bad people. I wouldn't do that because I told you we wouldn't do anything that hurts classrooms."


The fact of the matter is that those decisions were made by our trustees, and I support our local trustees regardless of their political stripe. I think we have an excellent board both at the public sector and the separate sector; we have excellent people, high-quality people doing the best they can, but they have no alternative in many cases because you cut their funding. Then they make these decisions and your minister stands up and says: "Don't blame me. I didn't make the decision." That's what you're doing.

When we talk about hospitals being closed, when we talk about what's going on -- it just happened yesterday in Ottawa, today in Pembroke, it will happen tomorrow in Toronto, we've already seen it in Sudbury and Thunder Bay and it's soon coming to London and soon enough, unfortunately, they're coming into Hamilton -- because it's a commission that this government set up under Bill 26, the Minister of Health stands up and says: "I didn't make that decision. Go blame the commission." Ultimately as a result of the downloading of social services, community health care, non-profit housing, the funding of libraries, GO Transit, more highways, this government is hoping it can make local councillors and local aldermen scapegoats on those decisions.

That's part of this agenda and they're hoping people won't notice. Because there's so much going on, they're hoping people again will throw their arms up and say, "I can't keep track, I can't keep following it." When you open up your local paper and see a decision that affects your library or your local transportation or your local classroom, people will pay attention. The government is hoping that the average person will not make the linkage between what they're reading in their local paper about those decisions they care so much about, in terms of their health care and their education system and our infrastructure and services for seniors and the plight of our students and youth who are facing the highest unemployment rate they've ever seen, that people won't make the connection between that local decision and who made it locally and what happened here.

That's what they're hoping and that's why they're so arrogant, because they really don't care what anybody thinks today as long as during the next election they can deflect all the criticism and have the local elected people take the responsibility and the political heat for all these things. They're hoping they can march back into office again with a majority government and that they won't have to answer for what they're doing here.

I say quite reluctantly that they've got a chance of making that happen. As we know, in politics people have short memories. That's why I'm as loud as I am and that's why I consistently come back to this message. The only chance we've got as the opposition, for those of us who agree and believe in what I'm saying: We have to be loud and we have to be consistent and we have to be clear, because this government runs a good chance of convincing people that it wasn't they who did all these awful things, that it was all those other people. That's the second reason why I think we're seeing the kind of agenda and the speed with which things are being rammed through.

The third one is of course that at the end of the day this government has to find $5 billion to pay for their 30% tax cut. I know that some of the government members roll their eyes. They're tired of hearing this, but unfortunately the truth won't go away. In the midst of all this cutting, because you say the debt and deficit are the absolute, paramount, important issue in front of us, you want us to believe that it makes any kind of economic sense at all to cut your own revenue by $5 billion a year. Yet it's not even cutting revenue; they've got to borrow the money to give their rich pals a tax cut. That's what's so obscene about this. As we've predicted, and I've stood here and said it in the past leading up to this day, and it's happening and it will continue to happen, people are beginning to catch on.

As they listen to you say on the one hand that debt and deficit are the absolute number one priority, that nothing is more important, 10 years of blah, blah, blah -- we all know what your mantra is -- at the same time that you try to ram that message down the throats of people, you take $5 billion out of the revenue stream, out of the income of the government, and give it back in large part, in majority part, to the most well-off in our society. You think people are going to miss that point, or at least you're hoping people will miss that point.

I say to the members across the way on the government benches that as people are having their hospitals closed, as they're talking to their teachers, support staff -- and these are not New Democrats they're talking to, they're not Liberals; they include Tories, they include Reformers, they include people who are not aligned -- the fact of the matter is that our health care system is suffering and your hollow words can't change that. You can stand up and say you're making the greatest, most wonderful health care system in the world all you want. That doesn't make it so, and your $8 million worth of ads with Premier Harris standing there in a nice setting saying, "Everything is wonderful and we're going to fix everything," doesn't change reality at all.

People know in their communities. We've got a public forum being put on by the local media tonight about health care and what's happening. They're sponsoring it, along with the OMA and a number of other health providers in our community, and it's being emceed by Roy Green. You have to admit it's a balanced approach. We expect that there will be hundreds of people turning out this evening not because any particular political party put out a call saying, "Come on out, we've got to put together a political message and look like everybody is upset"; they'll be there because they are upset. They're worried about what's happening to our health care system. They want to know what happened to the promise that you weren't going to hurt health care, yet that's exactly what you're doing.

There's the reality of what's happening and you seem somehow -- I'm not sure how the heck you're doing this -- to believe that it's not happening. People in the health care system across every community know what's going on; people in the education system know what's going on; people in non-profit housing, people who are women's rights advocates, advocates for kids, people in poverty, all these people you're attacking know what's going on.

As I've said to the government members before, these are the very people whose door you have to go back to. You can hide now but during the election you've got to go knocking on that door and say: "Hi, vote for me. I'm with the government that took away your health care system and your education system and attacked the poor and attacked injured workers." That's going to be really well received: "Oh, yeah, of course we took care of rich friends, but it's important that we take care of the wealthy because of that whole trickle-down theory. Don't you appreciate being trickled on?" You have fun with that message, because that's all you've got at the end of the day unless, and I give you this, you're successful in convincing people that you didn't make any of those awful decisions, that it was someone else or some other group, that it was those bad people, not you, that you wouldn't do that. Why? Because you said so.

You will be running for re-election in the reality of the Ontario you are creating and you won't have the ability to sit as you do now with that smug look on your faces here in the secure comfort of this legislative chamber. That's not the reality of the re-election campaign trail. That's why we're so angry at this agenda, because we believe this is what you're doing and this is why you're doing it.

I want to back up my arguments with a little bit of fact and a little bit of history. Again we are saying that you are throwing in the trash can all the traditional democratic rights and privileges citizens have had, that opposition members have had, and we're saying that's why this motion is here today as you try to ram through large chunks of your most awful agenda so you can get it behind you in the hope that people will forget, and when the decisions are made they'll blame someone else. But you can't escape your track record; you can't escape history.


Let's not forget: In terms of democracy, in terms of fairness, in terms of access by the people to governing decisions, this party that talks about being so open and transparent and caring and consultative and the one that's promoting and pushing referenda as the be-all and end-all, this is also the same government that has to live with the stain of Bill 26. Remember that? It wasn't all that long ago.

Bill 26, the most massive transfer of the rights of this Legislature, which includes all parties and all representatives, to the regulatory decision-making of the cabinet room, took those powers and rights out of this chamber and put them in the cabinet room under regulations. As we know, cabinet meetings are closed, secret meetings. That's the way cabinet is run. Ours was the same way. I'm not suggesting there's something wrong with that tradition, but I am suggesting there was something inherently evil in one omnibus bill to take all that power away from this place, where we've got cameras and the public and an opportunity to see and hear what's going on and let the people decide for themselves, transfer that decision-making out of this environment and take it into the secrecy and privacy of the cabinet room. That was wrong.

It was wrong to introduce that bill in the first place, but you added insult to injury by then trying to ram it through in a few weeks. You were trying to deny people the opportunity to have input; as you saw it, trying to prevent them from attacking you, which they had every right to do, given what you were doing to the democratic traditions of this place.

In fact, it was such an obscenity that one of our members on the opposition -- because at that time we were acting as one opposition body trying to fight for the rights and traditions of this great democratic place. It finally took one member, the member for Scarborough North -- in a tactical move, I grant you; on a technicality, I grant you, but I also consider him to be a hero, and I hope the history books reflect that and acknowledge him as such. He took a very courageous stand -- or sit; took a very courageous sit -- and he refused to leave.

We leapt out of our seats and ran over there and surrounded him so that he couldn't be thrown out. Why? Not as a tactic just to make a point about some arcane political difference between the parties here; because we were trying to bring to the attention of the people of Ontario: "Look what they're doing. This is wrong." We physically stood between him and the Sergeant at Arms, whom we had and still have the greatest respect for.

Eventually this government caved in, it blinked, because it had no choice. The end result really wasn't all that wonderful. It gave us a few more weeks of public hearings. But at least it gave us a little more opportunity than what this government was trying to do. Remember, this was just a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was a cynically designed plan to ram through the transfer of power from this place to that place as quickly as possible and hopefully people would move into the Christmas season and forget all about it. Well, you didn't get away with it, but you have to answer for it. Every one of you has to answer for Bill 26. That stain and that stench will stay on this government forever.

But it doesn't end there. That's not the end of the evidence. The other evidence we have -- and I know my friend the member for Nepean will appreciate this part -- is the anti-worker Bill 7, where you said you had a mandate to revoke Bill 40, and you said, "That's why we have a right to do what we're going to do and make the amendments to the Ontario Labour Relations Act," except you didn't amend it; you replaced the entire law from front to back.

Not only did you give us back the ugliness and the harm that comes from legalizing scabs, which you've now done, and as a result there are thousands of people on strike who wouldn't otherwise be if their employer wasn't allowed to use scabs -- you did that -- but in addition to that, you also took away the legitimate, lawful successor rights that public sector workers have, that private sector workers have to maintain and keep their collective agreement and their jobs and their job security and their wages and their benefits. I see some of the staff around here who know exactly what I'm talking about, because they're faced with it.

That, in large part, led to the first strike that we ever had. Unfortunately, it was not only an ugly strike, it was a bloody strike. People were hurt. That strike should never have happened. This government did not run on a platform of taking away those rights from those workers, tens of thousands of workers whose jobs you intend to privatize, that will turn into minimum wage jobs with no job protection. Those workers aren't even guaranteed an opportunity to have those low-paying jobs, and if they're middle-aged workers, they're terrified. But you didn't run on that platform. There's nothing in the Common Sense Revolution about it. You had no right.

You also slashed $10 million, took $10 million away from workers whose jobs are lost because of plant closures and whose employer doesn't have the money or won't give the money to pay them severance and termination pay they're entitled to. You took that away from them. You took $10 million away from future unemployed workers. You didn't talk about that on the campaign trail, it's not in the Common Sense Revolution, but it's in Bill 7.

What happened with Bill 7? Bill 7 was introduced for first reading, second reading, third reading, in less than one month, not one minute of public hearings; in fact, second and third reading were rammed through in one day, Halloween, which I still say is quite apropos, because that's when the mask came off. That's when we saw. That was the precursor to Bill 26. When you saw what you could get away with in Bill 7, that's when you decided to go for the gusto and that's when you went with Bill 26, just a few weeks later.

You rammed that through in the most undemocratic fashion we've ever seen around labour law. There was a time traditionally, regardless of the government of the day, and for most of the decades in recent history it's been Tories, where no Premier would change a single word of the Ontario Labour Relations Act without serious hands-on consultation, yes, with business, but also with the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and key labour leaders representing hundreds of thousands of workers in this province. Why? Because there was a sense of balance, of trying to bring some fairness to labour relations. You did none of that and you rammed that bill through in the most undemocratic fashion we had ever seen until you topped that one with Bill 26.

But that's not the end of it. We saw the same thing with Bill 49 -- here we go again, going after workers -- the Employment Standards Improvement Act. That was the bill you introduced last May and said, "Oh, this is just minor housekeeping, a few nuts and bolts." You know, we do have bills like that, so people took the Minister of Labour at her word. She said it was only nuts and bolts, minor housekeeping. When she met with labour leaders the week before, they believed her. Labour leaders have respect for the traditions of this place and ministers of the crown.

Regardless of what government members may think about labour leaders, they have great respect for the offices of this Legislature, but when ministers of labour do things like this minister did in introducing a bill that wasn't just minor housekeeping and nuts and bolts -- it took away major rights from workers and most affected workers who don't have unions. If you have a union you've got a collective agreement and there's usually a lot more protection in there, and if you don't have a union you've got a lot fewer rights now in this province than you did before this government passed Bill 49.

They were going to ram that through in a few weeks and were going to make it law by the end of June, a month and a half. It was only because of the fight of the labour movement on behalf of non-unionized workers in large part and of our party, the NDP, that forced the government into province-wide public hearings. I know that my colleague from Nepean has great fond memories of that province-wide tour, as he attempted as valiantly as he personally could -- but you can't on that agenda -- to defend what his Minister of Labour had said about that bill and what it was and what it wasn't.


The fact of the matter is that on the first day of those hearings the minister withdrew one of the most controversial pieces of what she had called a minor housekeeping bill.

That's your track record of democracy and traditional rights of the people and the opposition in this place, and that's why we're so angry. That doesn't end it. The list goes on and on.

When we are here today debating the calendar motion, as it's called, this indeed is one of those opportunities where you're going to see opposition members like myself on our feet screaming and hollering and hammering and making the point that you have no right to do what you're doing as quickly as you're doing it. You don't have a mandate and you certainly do not have the traditional rights to do it.

That's why we're so angry and that's why we make the point over and over that it's a cynical, deliberate attempt on the part of this government to overwhelm people to the point of despair so that they'll stop paying attention, so that ultimately the horrible decisions you're going to inflict on our society and our communities will be made by someone else you can blame at election time to escape responsibility for your decisions, and ultimately to find that $5 billion to pay for your hideous tax cut, your 30% tax cut that your very wealthy friends are going to benefit from the most.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): Nobody's buying that.

Mr Christopherson: I hear one of the backbenchers over here in the rump section, another one of the members who consistently gets himself in trouble by engaging his mouth before he does his brain, saying, "Nobody's buying it." I'm betting they are. You go out there in those communities. Wait till we go out across the province on the bills that are going out. We'll see which committees you're on and how much fun you're having defending your Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): You should have been in Dryden Monday night.

Mr Christopherson: It sounds like Dryden had an interesting meeting.

All across the province, anywhere you go; I'm sure you're welcomed in certain quarters, as long as it's nice and quiet with no public and nobody knows about it, but outside there's an awful lot of people who are very worried and very frightened, particularly if they aren't well-to-do. If you're well-to-do, you've got nothing to worry about with this agenda because you can buy your way out of it, buy the education system you want for your kids, buy the health care system you want, move to whatever beautiful area you can afford with all the amenities that go with that and the security that goes with it. If you've got money, you really don't need to worry about this agenda; in fact, you're going to benefit from it, based on that 30% tax cut. But for the vast majority of the working stiffs who are out there, stiffed is exactly what you're doing to them. That is why we are so angry and will continue to take on this government at every turn.

Mr Baird: I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to rise and to speak on the motion of the government House leader with respect to the schedule of this House and of committees over the next three or four weeks. I think it's very important to put on the record the legislative calendar. The Legislative Assembly, after it breaks before Christmas, doesn't normally come back until March. What Mike Harris said is that he respected the legislative process and wanted a sufficient period of time to debate each and every one of the Who Does What bills and allow for each one of them to go to committee. He asked all members of this House, "Would you be prepared to come back early and work a little harder this year to get more work done?" Indeed, we as a caucus said yes. I know my colleagues on the opposition benches were very keen as well to come back and to work harder on these extra pieces of legislation.

This resolution is all about allowing the Legislature to break so that the committees can travel outside of the city of Toronto and go to places like Ottawa and visit northern Ontario and southwestern Ontario to get input on a good number of government initiatives and government bills. That's obviously a very important part of our job and that's what this motion is all about.

I would like to also say at the outset that this process of the committees travelling has been negotiated with the opposition parties, and that's an example of the system working, of the process working, of all three parties in this assembly working to put together an acceptable process for bills and pieces of legislation to be debated. That's often underreported, because I know all members of the House want to get these pieces of legislation to committee where they can be properly considered.

One of the pieces of legislation we want to send to committee -- and I've received a good number of letters from folks in my constituency -- is Bill 84 with respect to fire services in Ontario. I got a good number of letters asking me to come here to Queen's Park and talk to my colleague the Solicitor General and push for public hearings on this piece of legislation. That's something I did and I'm pleased that the Solicitor General has pushed for public hearings as well on that piece of legislation.

In my community, there's a tremendous amount of respect we have for the firefighters, who do a great job and are really the local heroes in our community. We look forward to having them come before the committee and to listening and learning what they have to say. They do a very good job and I'm very pleased they'll have the opportunity to come forward and tell us what they have to say. The government has already said it's prepared to listen and even prepared to amend Bill 84 if it can make it a better bill, which we're very pleased about.

This motion also allows for debate and committee time for Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, which is something that's very important in an area like Nepean, with a terrific amount of development over the last number of years. In fact, Nepean already beat the provincial government to the punch. They cut development charges significantly, by almost 50%, earlier in the year. They did that to get more homes built and to encourage job creation. Economic growth is a top priority. As you'll know, I often talk about the priority folks in my area put on job creation. This piece of legislation is just another effort on the government's part to try to encourage job creation and economic growth in Ontario.

There's a terrific number of young families in my constituency in Nepean in areas like Barrhaven and Longfields and Davidson Heights and Centre Point, where folks have paid very high development charges. Those charges go right on their mortgages and it makes the dream of owning a new home that much further out of reach of young families. I know this is a bill that a lot of young families and first-time home buyers across Ontario are going to be watching very closely, because we want to do everything we can as a government to make home ownership more within arm's length of working families in the province of Ontario. That's a very big issue in my constituency.

The motion talks about the City of Toronto Act. There's been five weeks of public hearings. Last week I went into the committee and the Premier was sitting in on the committee hearings to listen to what the folks in the city of Toronto and in Metropolitan Toronto had to say. I think it speaks well that he took the time to come. I think it's the first time in a number of years that the Premier of the province has come to --

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): The Toronto Star said that.

Mr Baird: "The Toronto Star says that," says the member for Scarborough Centre. I should note that the member for Scarborough Centre has been at virtually every single hearing, morning, noon and night, working very hard to represent the good people of Scarborough Centre, something that's been noticed by many members of this House.

The motion also discusses Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act. That's a very important piece of legislation. That's the piece of legislation that deals with the reduction in the number of school boards of Ontario. That's probably a less contentious issue than most. I noticed, from the Hansard and from speeches and comments that all members of this House have made at one time or another, that there seems to be broadly spread support.

Of course, the school board reductions were recommended by a former Liberal cabinet minister, John Sweeney, appointed by the then NDP government to do the job, so you've got an NDP-appointed former Liberal cabinet minister making recommendations to a Conservative government. They're adopting almost 75% or 80% of his recommendations. That speaks well of all members of all parties working well together.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Common sense.

Mr Baird: "Common sense," the member for Niagara Falls says.

Indeed, if we look at what some members have said on this issue, one member said, "I think there is generally fairly broad support for reduction in school boards." Do you know who said that? Was it the Minister of Education? No, it wasn't.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): It would probably be a Tory.

Mr Baird: Was it a Tory? No.

Interjection: Dave Cooke?

Mr Baird: No, it wasn't Dave Cooke. It was Dalton McGuinty.

Another member said: "We can't back away from the prospects of amalgamation. As Liberals, we're fiscally responsible. We've got to look at it." Do you know who said that?

Mr Grimmett: Brendan McGuinty.

Mr Baird: Brendan McGuinty? No, Dalton McGuinty, I indicate to the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay.

Another interesting quote: "There is such public support for streamlining this system that any government is going to have to follow through." Do you know who said that? Dave Cooke, the NDP Minister of Education.

It shows there is broadly spread support that transcends party lines on this issue, which I think is very important. He said that quote when he was the Minister of Education. Most members of the New Democratic Party, you can like their policies or dislike them, but they only have one set of policies. That, of course, is different from one of the three political parties in Ontario.


Bill 104, that's a part of this motion that will allow that to go to committee hearings around the province. Certainly a good number of members in this House have gotten up and spoken about the importance of committee hearings in the democratic process. Democratic principles are very, very important.

That's why we were disappointed in my constituency to read an article in the paper the other day, "Liberals Accept Appointed Candidates: The practice of parachuting star candidates into ridings caused another outcry recently when the Liberals froze nominations for candidates in the Nepean-Carleton riding," basically suspending democracy in allowing the leader of the Liberal Party, Jean Chrétien, to just appoint candidates to come into Nepean-Carleton and to tell us who will and who won't be our member of Parliament.

I'll tell you, there's a good amount of concern on this issue, not only in Nepean-Carleton but, as the members for Scarborough Centre and Durham East indicate, particularly in Thornhill where they're concerned that the Prime Minister will just appoint one of his chosen parachute candidates to come in and try to impose the democratic will on the folks rather than allowing the free democratic will of a nomination meeting.

That's something that causes me great concern, as I know it causes concern to my colleague the member for Fort York because I know he cares about the democratic process and he wouldn't want to see that. Mon cher collègue le député de Fort York, bien sûr, était d'accord avec mes remarques, mes sentiments à cet égard.

I look at other pieces of legislation that are going forward, other than the school board amalgamations. On the school board amalgamations, there was an interesting article. I regret the member for St Catharines just stepped out for a moment because he's been here for most of the debate. In the St Catharines Standard there's a fellow working with the Canadian Union of Public Employees in the Niagara region and he said, "All Harris cares about is teachers and supplies for the classroom." That's all he cares about. All Harris cares about is the classroom where the teachers are. Certainly there's a disproportionate concern on the Premier's part and on behalf of members on this side of the House to ensure that as many dollars as possible reach the classroom -- where the teachers are, where the education takes place, where the children are, where the studies take place. That's very, very important. I certainly think that's important because the teachers who educated me had a tremendously positive impact on my life.


Mr Baird: I know the honourable members opposite agree with that and I appreciate their supportive comments in that regard.

This motion that we're debating also deals with some tax issues. The Fair Municipal Finance Act deals with property taxes. When I look at the issue of taxation, it's probably one of the most important issues to folks across Ontario. I was reading the Toronto Sun and I saw a headline, "Martin Admits Taxes Too High," talking about the federal Liberal minister.

I know my colleague from Fort York will want to bien entendre mes remarques à cette égard, mon collègue M. Marchese. I read in the Toronto Sun, "`Obviously I think taxes are too high,' Finance Minister Paul Martin said." And then he says, "...and we would like to bring them down, but we're not going to bring them down." So he flipped and flopped in the same sentence, which was rather remarkable.

The article goes on to say, "Nor would the finance minister choose between investing in government programs like health care or offering Canadians tax cuts. He says, `I think we should do both.'" I wondered where I had seen that before. That's just like the Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, where he's saying we're going to cut taxes and spend $300 million more on health care this year, which is something that's very important indeed.

This bill also deals with some of the Who Does What legislation, and I have two quotes that I think are very salient to that issue. Alan Tonks, Metro chairman, says: "The province is listening; they've responded. I think my total reading of this is that we're now working in the same direction to make a unified city work." You know who said that? Alan Tonks, the Metro chairman.

Another article I read in the Toronto Star, "Province Clearly Protecting Taxpayer," says, "`I think the government clearly wants to make sure that what we do is indeed to protect the property taxpayer,' Terry Mundell said after the meeting with Municipal Affairs Minister Al Leach and Community and Social Services Minister Janet Ecker," which is something that I think is very good news.

I know the members opposite will be very pleased to see the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto and the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario working with the government, trying to make these transitions absolutely as smooth as possible, but that simply couldn't happen unless this motion went through and unless we can allow these bills to go out to committee and be debated fully by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and a good number of committees that will go around.

The member for Hamilton Centre referred to our hearings on Bill 49. We indeed had an excellent opportunity to travel the province and learn the views of the folks, of the people of Ontario, on labour and employment standards. I know I speak for all my colleagues who travelled on that committee. We enjoyed having the opportunity.

I am going to yield the floor to allow mon cher collègue le député de Fort York l'opportunité de discuter ce projet de loi et cette motion. I appreciate the time.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I am pleased to join in the debate this afternoon on the motion regarding the parliamentary calendar. As previous speakers have observed, we are this year involved in a somewhat different schedule than has been customary, although we have had winter sessions before.

There is currently before the House a motion standing in the name of the government House leader to set the schedule for the next few months. As previous speakers have indicated, there are pressures on all members, on the government I suppose most especially, having to do with a number of very important bills that have been introduced, some of which have had second reading, some yet to reach that stage, almost all of these bills touching on extremely important matters of public policy and human services. In my part of eastern Ontario today the work of the Health Services Restructuring Commission is without a doubt the most important work that any provincial government agency is doing these days.

I was struck earlier today during question period about the points of order and points of privilege that arose around various court rulings, one involving Mr Justice Brennan, I believe, striking down some part of one of the bills, the city of Toronto municipal bill. The charge, I gather, and I haven't read the judgement -- it certainly seems to be the case that one Ontario judge felt and ruled that in an important way the current government of Ontario had acted outside of its legal mandate in putting these trustees, these overseers, in place before the city of Toronto bill has passed.

I want to make the observation today that we have seen in recent times, but most especially in the last year, a fairly significant if not dramatic departure from the way we have generally done business here. At the present moment we have two or three pieces of legislation -- I think of the City of Toronto Act, I think of the education bill -- where we are establishing boards or commissions. In the case of the city of Toronto municipal bill, the issue that Mr Justice Brennan apparently took exception to was the mandate of the overseers, Val Gibbons and whoever the others are.

Bill 104, the education bill, creates something called the Education Improvement Commission, I think it's called, a commission with sweeping powers. It would be an interesting piece of research for someone to look back into the postwar period of Ontario to see if you could find another such commission where the powers were as sweeping in an area as basic and as sensitive as education. I'm not saying such a commission does not exist, but I cannot think of a precedent for the Education Improvement Commission, ably staffed by two people I know well, the former minister in the Rae government, Mr Cooke, and the former chair of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, Ann Vanstone, two people who know the education business very well. I would say to the House that if you look at the powers we intend to vest in that commission, they are enormously significant powers touching on all aspects of one of the most important and sensitive public policy areas that fall to the province, namely education.


I think in Brockville today, in Ottawa today, in Petrolia today, there are a lot of people who are wondering, where did this Health Services Restructuring Commission come from? Who gave this group of people, under the leadership of Dr Duncan Sinclair, such enormous power? I can imagine the debate in Brockville today or in my town, Pembroke, where today we have received the final report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission on the city of Pembroke hospital future.

I see the member for Sarnia. I don't know whether they ruled today on Sarnia, or does that come tomorrow? Has it been done?

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): It's delayed.

Mr Conway: It's delayed. At any rate, there are a lot of people in communities such as the ones I've just mentioned who are undoubtedly wondering, where did these people get this power? They got it from this Legislature. They got it from the grant of this Legislature. In the case of the hospital restructuring commission, it was established under the aegis of Bill 26, which was passed here amidst much controversy a year and some weeks ago. We are presently looking at the education bill and the city of Toronto bill where again we are empowering, in a dramatic way, two new commissions to go and do some extraordinary work in the area of local government and schools.

I really begin to wonder, as I'm sure a lot of people do, what is the future of the Legislature? I know there's at least one person, who represents Nipissing, who has a view that really we should probably take on the calendar of the Mississippi or the Nevada legislature, where they sit maybe a week a year and where you basically have an election every two or four years and you empower an executive and that executive governs in a very executive fashion, and then you submit a report card every two or four years and let the people decide.

We had members of the previous NDP caucus -- I don't know that there were any in the government, but there were certainly people in the NDP caucus -- who used to wonder: "What is all this talk in committees about? We won the election in September 1990" -- which was absolutely right; they won it quite handily -- "and now we have a mandate for five years to go and do important work. Don't you people in the opposition understand that we've got the mandate and the rest of this is just so much trifle and so much distraction?"

I have seen a growth in that kind of mentality around this place in the last number of years, though I don't believe it is entirely new to recent legislatures. There are a lot of people in the land today who don't have a great deal of time or patience for the kind of debates that parliaments were intended to offer.

But I do express a personal concern about the growing reliance on these delegated powers whereby we simply come together, the government with its majority simply forces the bill that creates the hospital restructuring commission through in a way that is entirely predictable. I guess I make this point in a non-partisan way, because I think we've all done it to one degree or another, though I do think it's a fair observation to make that the current Harris government is showing a particular enthusiasm for this kind of parliamentary practice, this kind of policymaking, that you simply create a bill like the city of Toronto bill or Bill 104, the education bill, empower some wise people to go and take the delegated authority, go and do the dirty work and keep it out of politics and certainly keep it out of the Legislature.

I don't know that that's going to be, in the end, a winning strategy, because in Pembroke today or in Brockville today or in Gloucester today I suspect that many of the people who reside in those communities imagine that Runciman and Conway and Morin and Grandmaître have some responsibilities for what's being done. I simply make the point that it is not likely to fool very many people to create these commissions.

Somebody said the other day: "It seems to be going rather well. Nobody is much complaining." Well, they may not be complaining because the impacts have yet to be felt. I simply ask members to take a look at the powers being attached to or being vested in the Education Improvement Commission. It is an extraordinary set of circumstances. I can't imagine that there are very many people who, if they understood what was intended by those powers, would be very happy.


Mr Conway: It's very difficult. I am having a real problem.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order, please.

Mr Conway: The point I want to make again is simply that the people we represent imagine we have some responsibilities. To hear the minister of police, the Solicitor General, quoted today saying he knew nothing about what was done to an important provincial facility in his home city of Brockville is rather distressing, because most people are going to expect that not only a member of the Legislature but a leading minister of the administration would have something to do -- and I don't say this critically of him.

I see the member for Owen Sound is here. I know, from reading the western Ontario press, that he's at least anticipating what might happen in his part of Grey-Bruce. I don't think he's trying to create the impression that he is not going to be involved and is not going to accept some measure of responsibility. I congratulate him for that. We all have that responsibility to shoulder, and I hope there's no one who thinks that at the end of the day, if the hospital is to close, if we're going to have local authorities for school purposes just swept aside by some kind of provincially appointed tribunal, that we're going to be excused of our responsibility.

There is no doubt that there is an appetite for change, not just in the political environment but elsewhere, but I don't believe the Ontario population has lost its sense of fairness, its sense of balance.

One of the things I find quite interesting in a number of the current issues is that there is yet again a lot of evidence that hope is winning out over experience. I look at a number of the key initiatives, the very controversial ones like education and health care. Let's take municipal realignment and education. I'm not standing here to say there shouldn't be change. I believe, for example, that we can have and ought to have fewer school boards, but it's as though nobody remembered anything from the 1960s or 1970s.

A full generation ago we had a marvellous experience with reducing by very large numbers the number of school boards in the province. I forget the actual number. Bill Davis took the number of school boards in the province I think from several thousand down to 200. We also took municipalities, particularly in south-central Ontario, and reduced them by a substantial number. In both cases it was argued passionately by politician and bureaucrat that one of the major benefits of the creation of the larger units would be this: that the per unit price of most things would come down, at least in relative terms, and the service to the taxpaying public would remain attractive or reasonable.

I ask anyone who's been around for more than 15 or 20 years, did that happen? Let me say there have been some very real benefits to having larger units. I grew up in rural Renfrew county and I can tell you the creation of the county board of education provided some very real benefits, but there were some very substantial costs that went with those benefits. Not surprisingly, some of those costs were as follows: The units, as they became larger, became more centralized, and consequentially they became more bureaucratic. That sense of direct involvement by the citizen was for many people reduced.


I don't need to rethrash the story about some of the famous regional governments. I remember one of the ablest people ever to be in this place, Jimmy Allan, talking about what happened when the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk was created. But it's as though nobody has remembered anything. A priori, I say to the quizzical-looking member for Oxford, it is argued, "Make it bigger, it is going to be better and it is going to be cheaper." I just don't think there is evidence to support that claim. Unlike some of my colleagues, I'm going to be very generous on this. I want to give you lots of time and lots of room and lots of rope.

I was using the analogy the other day, watching friend Al, the Minister of Municipal Affairs: I had this image of a bear coming to a cage with the door open and there's honey, lots of it, just ladled around the entrance, and I see Pal Al licking at the honey at the cage door. I'm only really going to be happy when I see all of Al in that cage. I want all of Al in that cage. If I have to take an extra few weeks or an extra few months -- listen, unlike some of my colleagues, I'm very patient -- I want all of Al, like a big, big bear, in that cage.

He may be right and I may be wrong. It may be that in 1997 the creation of larger units will in fact produce that which accords to all of our common senses. I don't know anybody who doesn't think that surely it is the case that if you make them bigger, they're going to be more efficient and the per unit price of most things has surely got to drop. For a variety of interesting and sometimes complex reasons, in most cases it doesn't happen.

I shouldn't tell a story out of school, but maybe I can, about Tom Wells. A certain David Cooke was determined he was going to force the amalgamation of the city of Windsor and the Essex county school boards, and there was no doubt that what he wanted was an amalgamation, because he said -- I believe he said -- that he was going to bring the costs down. Off went Tom Wells, a very fine fellow, a former long-time member of the Legislature, Minister of Education. Wells came back -- and perhaps Marion can help me -- and he did not recommend what we all believed, what the then minister wanted. He did so on the basis that what you want and what you intend to do here are almost mutually exclusive.

Now having said that, I'm not going to argue that there cannot be efficiencies with the forced amalgamation, quite frankly, of some of the higher-cost services. I thought the government was off to a relatively good start by using the fiscal instrument to make people behave in a more responsible way, and I accept my share of the responsibility for past formulae which may have encouraged bad behaviour. But I'm getting off the point, this slavish devotion to the concept that if we make it bigger it will be better and in most cases the per unit price of things will drop. I am from Missouri. I remain sceptical.

Mr Grimmett: It needs patience.

Mr Conway: My patience is aided and abetted by reading the latest edition of Cottage Life, where I see Mr Hardeman quoted at length in the cover story: "Will the Common Sense Revolution Save Cottage Country or Is It a Monster in the Making? The Big Fix." A great piece. My friend from Muskoka will want to read it. Any of you representing cottage country and any of you owning a cottage will also want to read it as well.

Interjection: What does the Eganville Leader say about this?

Mr Conway: What does the Eganville Leader say about this? That's a good point. This week's Eganville Leader contains a lead editorial which raises something that I know the former reeve of Rodden would want me to point out. The Eganville Leader this week, I say to Normie Sterling, says, "The state of winter highway maintenance in our part of eastern Ontario is deplorable," and I would add, it's no wonder that wheels are flying off Al Palladini's snowplows given the condition of some of these roads.

I spent Saturday driving up the Trans-Canada Highway from Pembroke towards Mattawa and it was a disaster. It was a dangerous and disastrous situation. There was a terrible accident up on the Bissett Hill, halfway between Deep River and Mattawa. Some people might laugh --

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I don't want to interrupt the member from Renfrew, Mr Speaker, but there is no quorum and there should be.

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. Do you mean to interrupt or don't you?

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, there is no quorum in this House and there should be.

The Acting Speaker: Would the table please determine if a quorum is present?

Acting Clerk Assistant (Mr Todd Decker): 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 Renfrew North.

Mr Conway: The point is, it's a very important service for people that the member from Hastings and I represent, and I'm very serious. The winter maintenance on Ontario highways in my part of the province is not acceptable and we are putting --

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I don't agree with that.

Mr Conway: You may not agree with me on that, and that's fine. I'm just telling you that on Saturday of this past weekend, any one of you who drove or tried to drive on the Trans-Canada Highway between Pembroke and Mattawa would have been horrified. You would have been into either Conway's office or Eves's office or --


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: Listen --


The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Grey-Owen Sound take his own seat, please.

Mr Conway: I'm sure you have. Do you know what? So have I. I make allowances for bad winter conditions, and I'm doing that. But we have a responsibility as a Legislature and as a provincial government in a province so large to ensure that people and commerce that have to travel across these provincial highways have an acceptable level of winter maintenance.

I'm telling you that in my part of eastern Ontario, notwithstanding the excellent efforts of good, hardworking people, both in the public and in the private sector, the current maintenance is not acceptable and it is threatening the security and the safety of Ontario citizens or others who happen to be travelling through, in my case, the Upper Ottawa Valley.

Mr Murdoch: Do you not realize the winter is under the federal Liberals?

Mr Conway: I do not want to be lighthearted about this issue.

Mr Murdoch: You can't help the weather.

Mr Conway: Listen, we've had plenty of bad days over the 25 years that I've been driving around this province.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound, come to order.

Mr Conway: When I am told by good, hardworking Ontarians who are in the employ of the provincial government that notwithstanding the bad winter weather, the current standard is not good enough, when I talk and listen to people whose job it is to look after these highways, who in many cases have worked 10, 15 and 20 years on those highways, I think I'm duty bound, as I think all of you would be, to listen to what those people are saying.

My friend distracted me. The Minister of Energy said, "What is the Eganville Leader saying?" I wish I'd brought the editorial from today's Eganville Leader. They're a lot tougher than I have just been.

Mr Murdoch: I was there and it wasn't that bad.

Mr Conway: On Saturday?

Mr Murdoch: Yes.

Mr Conway: If you were on Highway 17 on Saturday between Pembroke and Mattawa, I'll tell you, I want to introduce you to the person who wrote that piece in one of my papers today.

I guess it's also about the kind of service that we provide, not just in highway maintenance, but some of my constituents --


Mr Conway: Oh, the Canadian Tire is here careening its happy way around the back bench. I'm happy that you're happy, I say to the Canadian Tire.

I want to say something about health care, that my constituents, particularly in southwest Renfrew, are served, some of them, by the Peterborough hospital centre, and they're not very amused by what they were seeing last week in the public press about conditions at the Peterborough hospital centre.


Today in Pembroke we have received the final report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission, and Noble Villeneuve stood up here today and said people have 30 days to make a point. I've got some news for people in Ottawa with the 30-day period: Three months after several people, the warden of Renfrew county, the mayor of Pembroke, hundreds, thousands of letters and petitions were sent, we get a final report. We have fewer beds in the final report than we had in the preliminary report three months ago. We have no movement on chronic care. They're taking the guts out of chronic care in Pembroke where we've already got a problem. There is absolutely no movement on any of the time lines, nothing. The Pembroke Civic Hospital is to be shut down within the year, actually now within 10 months.

I get all these wonderfully cold bureaucratic data in these documents and I look at one of the principal charts, and I lost it a bit the other day with the member for Northumberland -- I'm sorry if I was overly vigorous -- but I want to come back to that point. We're told in these reports, "You're a little high on home care and you're a little high on hospital separations." It's true, but let me just give you some of these data again.

Before any of the cuts, before the commission came into my part of rural, small-town, small-city eastern Ontario, before any of that, here's where we stood in Renfrew county. We are at about 80% of the provincial average on health expenditures. That's a fairly significant criterion. We're only at 80%. The average health expenditure per Ontarian is $1,595, in Renfrew county it's $1,273, so we are well below the average there.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): That is what the average is.

Mr Conway: That's factored --


Mr Conway: On OHIP expenditures? That might not be a bad place to look as well. There the provincial average per capita is $449; Renfrew county is $258. Hospital and related facilities: Again we're below average and considerably below average. To be fair, some of that is going to be accounted for by virtue of the fact that some people, more than a few people, are provided for in the Ottawa health centre, but when I look at these numbers --

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Oh, the regional health centres.

Mr Conway: Yes, but I ask the House to bear with me. We are at 80% on categories like health expenditures; in other words, our folks are 80% of where the per capita average is there. On home care spending we're high, I admit that, but in three or four of the main categories we're well below the provincial average. Part of my frustration is that the commission, and more important, the government, are using criteria and tools that are skewed --


Mr Conway: The Canadian Tire has us believe that really the only difference between Rainy River and the Rouge River is weather. What do you do with someone like that? It is perhaps why he's so illustrious.

My point is that the government is using planning criteria that are unfair in terms of rural and small-town and northern Ontario. There's no doubt about that. It is not lost on me, for example, that when you compare the cuts in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Renfrew county with some of the cuts elsewhere, it's very interesting. When I ask, as I continually do, "Give me, Minister, give me, government, a list of the hospitals in Ontario today that are currently meeting your bed standard," I get no list and I get no answer and I know why. There is no hospital in Ontario today that meets the hospital bed standard being used by the Sinclair commission and the Ontario Ministry of Health. As a representative from rural, small-town eastern Ontario I'm here to tell this House that we will not accept a planning standard that treats people unfairly in rural, small-town and northern Ontario. I believe we are getting the shaft by this policy and with these criteria.

I'm not at all surprised when the commission says, "We're not sure what's going on here." It is somewhat complex. I understand that. If I live in Belleville it is a different reality than if I live at Limerick Lake or up at Gilmour, at St Ola. I think too much of this place, too much of the bureaucratic world that runs this place, is anchored in places like Toronto, Ottawa, London and Hamilton. For them to understand the Cobdens, the Beachburgs, the Maynooths and the Roddens of the world is becoming a very difficult task.

I want to say in conclusion that what's happening in areas like health care and education to good, hardworking people in the communities of the Ottawa Valley is of very real concern, and no amount of ideology and no amount of rhetoric and no amount of government advertising is going to paper over that painful reality.

Mr Marchese: It's a pleasure for me to speak to this House calendar motion, because there's a lot to be said around this particular bill, there's a lot that this government is doing that we want to speak to and want the time to speak to.

We're not supporting this particular motion because the government is making radical changes to the structures of our public service without taking the time to listen to municipalities, public servants and citizens, and it continues to do that every day this Legislature sits. This government is uncorking a bill every day. Every day this government, through Mike Harris and his boys over there, is uncorking yet another bill. It's going to take a big whack against every sector of the population in Ontario.

Let's look at education, for example, because the member for Halton Centre -- and I've had the opportunity to be with him on several meetings around the whole issue of education -- starts off by talking about education being the great equalizer. I agree with him that education can be the great equalizer, but under this government it is not. It does nothing to produce this kind of result that the members speak about. If you look at the policies and the actions of this government, you'll see that they do not produce that result it speaks about.

Look at junior kindergarten, which they have effectively cancelled in most boards in Ontario.

Mr Gilchrist: Oh, we cancelled it?

Mr Marchese: This government says, and a number of members on the other side say, "We've done it?"

Mr Gilchrist: The school boards cancelled it.

Mr Marchese: It's a wonderful thing to witness, because the government cuts back its funding and then they say to the boards, "But they're doing it, not us." In every sector that you can think of, this government cuts back funding and then it says: "We didn't do anything. It's either the municipality doing it or some of the boards of education doing it." That's not true. If you choke off the funding, somebody's going to suffer, right? If you choke off the funding, those poor boards of education won't have the money to be able to deliver those programs.

We've seen junior kindergarten, which can be an effective program to equalize opportunities for young people who do not have the same wealth of cultural capital that some others bring to succeed in the classroom -- those individuals therefore are not given the same equality of condition and opportunity to succeed in their boards of education. Junior kindergarten, which could have been so effective at bringing about greater equality, has been effectively killed by this government, but they quite smugly say, "We didn't do it; somebody else has done it."

Look at continuing education, where they have cut the money. Continuing education is, or can be, a great equalizer for people who have not had the educational opportunities for a variety of reasons. They come back at a later date in their lives, getting back to education to get some of that experience they may not have had the opportunity to do when they were young, for a variety of reasons, for which we give no blame.


What does this government do? When they have an opportunity to put more money into the system to help the people they have laid off, who through their policies are being laid off by the private sector, when they have an opportunity for adults to have better educational opportunities to find some work, they cut off the funding in the area of continuing education.

This government speaks about education being a great equalizer, but their practices, their policies in effect cutting away education funding, are not giving those people those opportunities.

Look at what they're doing around some other areas of property taxes. They have done something interesting. They have taken out of the property tax $5.4 billion that goes to education, and they speak with great joy about giving homeowners an opportunity, seniors in particular, to have relief from property tax as it relates to educational purposes. But what have they done? They take $5.4 billion out and they add, they say, another $5.4 billion down to the municipalities, and they say, "Isn't this great?"

Well, there are two or three problems attached to this. First of all, when you took education out, you should have done the right thing. You should have replaced what you've taken out of the property tax with funding through an income tax system. But you didn't do that because you're too afraid to replace a regressive tax system with a progressive tax system. You would be too afraid to tell the public you would do that because they would have to pay higher income taxes. You couldn't do that. You couldn't raise their income taxes, could you? You could have done the right thing if you had done that.

What do you do? You take education out of property taxes and pretend you've done a great thing, and you say we are arriving at some revenue-neutral situation. Why in this world would you cause so much chaos to arrive at a revenue-neutral situation? Why would you cause such chaos in the system to arrive at a revenue-neutral situation?

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): You guys made a lot of sense for 5 years: $8 billion in interest payments.

Mr Marchese: It makes no sense, except -- where it does make sense, Mr Lawyer, Monsieur l'avocat, is this: You are taking education out of the property tax system and exercising complete control of those dollars to be able to cut, I argue and predict, up to $2 billion. That's why you're doing it. If that were not the agenda, it would be insanity to do otherwise. Most people would think you should be committed if you didn't have any other reason than to cut approximately $2 billion out of the educational system.

Then the minister talks about improving education for our children. The guy doesn't know what he's talking about. They put a minister there who doesn't have a bloody clue about education, not one clue. If he did, he would speak to educational issues, but what does he do? This minister talks about how he's going to improve education for children, and what does he say? He says, "We're getting rid of politicians." That's a few millions. The Lord is merciful, a few millions are out, and now education is improved as a result?

He talks about duplication: "Oh, there's a lot of duplication." He doesn't say what that is; he just uses the word "duplication" as a gut feeling to reach to his Reform-minded friends. He doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

Mr Flaherty: It's a couple of billion. We'll go and borrow it on Wall Street, like Bob Rae did, in American dollars at 7.5%. We'll be paying that back into the next century.

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Fort York has the floor, and I would ask those others to listen to the debate, learn from it and give him your respect.

Mr Marchese: The minister doesn't have a clue. He talks about administration being bloated. He knows that his Reform-minded friends and privileged, wealthy friends understand that, but if we were to talk about education as some of us understand it, he knows that educators and parents would laugh him out of his place.

Mr Baird: You represent Bay Street. Mr Bay Street.

The Acting Speaker: Order. I'd like to warn the member for Nepean. I won't warn you again.

Mr Marchese: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the support. I know they're making great attempts to distract me on the other side, but it's not working. I can tell them that. All the Minister of Education does every time he's asked a question is say, "We are improving education," the poor man says. He doesn't explain how he does it, but his Reform-minded friends like the fact that he says, "The bureaucracy is bloated." That goes well with his friends, because they say, "Yes, it's bloated." They don't really know, but the minister plays into that because he has a sense of what people are feeling in their guts.

That's why he repeats that mantra of bloated bureaucracy, paying politicians too much, the perks of trustees. This poor man here, this Minister of Education, talks about the perks of some poor little trustee who's making $10,000 or $5,000 in some of those rural areas. Talk about perks; the perks are there with that ministry and with that Minister of Education. He's got control of the perks and he's attacking some poor trustee earning $5,000 in some rural board about their perks.

What does this man, this Minister of Education, understand about education? Absolutely nothing. Ignorance is bliss on the other side. They joyfully travel into that blissful world of ignorance every day, in the front row, second row, third row and even the fourth. What do they know about education? I continue on this because people are worried. They want to reform the secondary school system. You know what? They're talking about this great reform as improving the quality of education in the secondary system.

I know the Minister of Education doesn't have a clue, but I'll help him out. They talk in this education reform about having a focus on science and technology. Think about this. Education is more than simply a focus on science and technology. We are humans made up of many components here. Science and technology is only one part of what we people are all about. A student should not be limited simply and/or solely to the idea of a focus on science and technology. If that is the focus of this government, perhaps they're trying to imitate or compete with Japan in this regard. I'm not sure. Perhaps that's what they're trying to do.

But we humans are made up of many parts. The humanities are a part of what we are. You cannot channel students into one area of study. You cannot do that. If that is what you do, you are pushing out other parts of what the educational system is all about, that the students want.

That is the focus of this secondary reform. He talks about increasing cooperative education without giving the resources to those poor boards, from which he's stripping dollars, to do more of that cooperative education. Boards already do that and they spend a lot of money doing it. This government says, "We want to do more." Some boards say, "We wouldn't mind doing more, but we don't have the resources to."

Mr Gilchrist: Sure they do.

Mr Marchese: "Sure they do," says some member from Scarborough somewhere. They don't. They're stripping their budgets and then they say, "We want you to do more cooperative education." The poor boards are beleaguered, besieged every day by cuts and more cuts. This government says, "We want you to do more." The boards are saying, "We can't first of all find the employers to match the students, but secondly, if we could, we don't have the resources." The insanities of this government have to be understood very clearly, because people feel very afraid of what this government is doing.


Then they come up with Bill 104. Again, what's in Bill 104? They're trying to amalgamate boards, particularly in Metro. They're going to eliminate a lot of trustees because they say this is good. They don't want politics any more in education -- as if education were apolitical; as if nothing happens in a school that is political; as if when parents of black children and parents of so many other immigrant children scream about the fact that so many of their students are streamed into the vocational schools, that's not political.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm rather displeased with some of the comments by the speaker. First, he's not speaking to the motion before the House. Second, he's commenting on education as a former trustee who voted to double his wages when a trustee. He's also referring to Scarborough as "Scarborough somewhere."

Mrs Boyd: This is not a point of order, Speaker. You are allowing him to debate.

The Acting Speaker: Order. Speaking on the motion that is before the House is a point of order. I have been listening to the member for Fort York attentively, and I would ask him to continue.

Mr Marchese: The member for Durham East was himself a trustee and I've heard him speak on issues of education. The guy doesn't have a clue either. He was a trustee and he has no clue whatsoever of what he speaks. Why?

Mrs Boyd: In addition to the minister.

Mr Marchese: Well, the Minister of Education and Training doesn't have a clue, but I speak of another member.

The Acting Speaker: I would ask the member for Fort York to bring his comments into a parliamentary form. If you would address the remarks through the Speaker and temper them a little bit, I think we would all get along much better.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, thank you for the multitude of interruptions I'm getting from you and the others.

I said that some members don't have a clue about education, and I'm speaking to that. Bill 104, the bill that many people are afraid of, is going to hurt a lot of people. They're at the hearings at this moment, very worried about what this bill does. This minister and his friends on the other side can go around saying: "We're reducing the budget of a bloated administration, we're getting rid of a lot of trustees. They're going to make $5,000." That's fine, but that's not going to help improve education one single bit. The agenda of this government is to cut billions out of education. That's what this is all about. When you take a few million dollars to fire some superintendents and to fire some trustees, you're left with the same problem in the educational system. That does nothing to improve the education of those children.

As a former teacher and as a school trustee, doing that on a full-time basis, we were working very closely, working daily very closely with parents, students and teachers, and we have a sense of what's going on in that classroom. We know what the agenda of this government is all about. We know that this government wants to cut approximately $2 billion out of education.

If they reduce the budget of the Metropolitan Toronto board by 20%, in a school like Carleton Village, of the member Derwyn Shea from High Park, this is what it would mean to that member's school. If you go from the $7,800 budget that student gets and cut it by 20%, which is the intent of this government, this is what it means: They would cut maintenance by 50%, a value of $74,000; cut field trips by 50%, a value of $3,597; cut furniture and equipment by 50%, $3,675; cut supplies 10%, $582; cut library supplies by 10%, $762. It amounts to $82,000. If they did that it's only $82,000, and do you know what's left? The remaining shortfall is $617,000.

Mr Christopherson: It can't be.

Mr Marchese: But it is. They have done the calculations school by school. On a 20% cut that's what it means. They still have a shortfall of $617,000. Do you know where they're going to cut when they do that? Into the teachers. They're going to have to hire fewer teachers or eliminate some teachers. Think of what will happen to the class size.

I talked about issues that they say are non-classroom related: cutting maintenance, cutting field trips, which they say is non-classroom related, cutting furniture and equipment, supplies, and cutting library supplies.

Mr Christopherson: That's all not part of the classroom.

Mr Marchese: Not part of the classroom. We have a shortfall of $617,000 remaining that has to be cut. And they talk about knowing what's happening. Mr O'Toole from Durham East talks to me about what we're talking about on this side. I know what they're talking about. They're talking about significant cuts that over 1,000 people wanted to speak to on Bill 104 and cannot be heard.

Mr Christopherson: Why?

Mr Marchese: Because they've reduced the time for those people to be heard. There's no room for them to be heard, for over 900 people who could not be accommodated. Why? Because this government says, "We're giving you plenty of time." Imagine this: Over 900 people want to be heard on this bill and can't. It's significant. You and the Premier and the others should be listening to that.

Moving on to amalgamation, Bill 103, we have had over 300 people come in front of this committee who have been moved by their desire to save their cities. They're afraid of losing their cities, and they're right. I have been moved by their speeches, because each one of them was a poem. In my six years I have never seen so many individual deputants coming in front of a committee wanting to express their feelings around something they feel strongly about. We've often heard organizations that are touched by a particular bill, but I have never, ever seen and heard so many individuals coming from all over Metro stating an opinion about why it is they want to maintain their cities. It has moved me. It has touched me a great deal.

There's been no evidence this is going to save money; there's no proof. This government has offered no proof except Monsieur Leach and his gut feeling that somehow they're going to save money, he and his parliamentary assistant and all the others going around with their gut feeling that it's going to save money, but there is no research that supports these people in their desire to amalgamate all the cities in Metro, none whatsoever.

We had a brilliant presentation made by Beth Moore Milroy, professor of urban and regional planning. She says, "Go to the studies that teach about the local human scale," because all this is about saving money, all this is about helping people like the Urban Development Institute, which deputed in front of the committee and said: "Please amalgamate. This is great for us." Developers love it because it saves them time. They don't have to go to each individual city when they have a development issue or a planning issue. They want to go to just one government. It's good for developers and these people help the developers.

This professor says: "Go to the studies that teach about the local human scale. That is the scale of which people can understand their surroundings and of which they believe they can have an effect on their milieu. Understanding and believing in one's efficacy brings out energy, caring, innovation and dedication. Take away the capacity to grasp and to have a say in what is going on and people stop paying attention; the city debilitates. So the right scale feeds efficacy, efficacy feeds caring and caring feeds the city, and around we go again in reinforcing this circle."

She's absolutely right. They are failing to understand that the human scale is what's being lost, that public involvement is being sacrificed to give a break to their developer friends. That's what it's about.

Mr Cox, another researcher, says, "Smaller governments are more accountable, smaller governments are more responsive, smaller local governments are more attuned to communities and neighbourhoods and larger governments are more susceptible to special interests."

By that he means developers, who have the money to be able to influence this new megacity. Those are the larger interests they're trying to protect. It's for them that this government speaks and it's them this government serves. They're not serving the public interest; they're serving the interests of developers and their other rich, privileged buddies. That's what this is all about.

Deputation after deputation of individual testimony has spoken against this, and this government is not going to listen. The referendum which Bill 86 permits -- this bill they passed in December permits municipalities to have a referendum any time during their mandate. But this government says, "Oh no, it's just a mere public opinion poll; it isn't a referendum." But they're wrong, and if they don't listen to the public on this, anger in this city will build unlike any they have ever seen before.

Mr Speaker, we've arrived at 6 o'clock, the hour to adjourn, so I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Mr Johnson has moved notice of motion number 51. 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.

It now being 6 o'clock, the House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1801.