36th Parliament, 1st Session

L170 - Thu 27 Feb 1997 / Jeu 27 Fév 1997




















































The House met at 1004.




Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I move private member's notice of motion number 41:

That in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should demand that union leaders stop their systematic attempt to politicize the classroom and that teachers' fundamental professionalism be left unfettered so that the trust between teachers, parents and students is not violated.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Doyle, you have 10 minutes.

Mr Doyle: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I see that you've had your sling removed as I prepare for my arrows.

I'd like to start this debate today by clearly enunciating that the purpose of this resolution is to protect the professionalism of teachers. It's to ensure that the classroom and the education of our children remain above politics and that the classroom ultimately is concerned with the education of children so that they may attain the valuable tools of knowledge and pursue higher goals and opportunities. That is what this debate is about.

The recent OSSTF campaign to use the classroom as a tool for the debate on education politics and to use our children as bargaining chips severely takes away the valuable time of the classroom, not only taking children away from their path of learning on the road to future goals and opportunities, not only betraying the trust of parents who hand over their children to a school system that is supposed to educate, not indoctrinate, but also diminishing the professionalism of teachers by asking them to participate in political debate by a medium that will only cause a reduction in credibility for teachers who participate, but especially lessens the credibility of the leadership that purports to speak on their behalf.

This resolution will also clearly delineate what the boundaries are for legitimate debate as it relates to education matters and how we deal with future disagreements as we move to improve the education system over the next few months and years.

This is not to say there is not room for protest. Teachers' unions have every right to express their views in public ways, and this is exactly what they do. However, the OSSTF should not attempt to use students as pawns; to do so would greatly diminish credibility that the leadership will have when speaking on education matters.

As I have mentioned earlier, I have serious concerns about the OSSTF directing its members to expend valuable classroom time to further their partisan views in an effort to lobby Ontario's elected officials. At a time when test after test indicates that Ontario's students are indeed below average on many international exams, it would certainly be unwise to jeopardize the learning time in the classroom to areas that are clearly political and partisan in nature.

Classroom instruction is key to the future of our students. As recent performance measures confirm, Ontario students continue to perform at below average compared with their colleagues in other jurisdictions. To counter this trend, we should be maximizing our efforts to focus classroom time on teaching students what they should learn. That is why this government has decided to bring about changes in the education system to improve student achievement and accountability and focus resources on the classroom.

Bill 104 is presently before committee and is one of the pieces of legislation that sparked the OSSTF campaign. The OSSTF has concerns over Bill 104. There is ample opportunity to raise objections to any legislation we bring forth and many avenues to voice those concerns, but using our children in this battle is simply wrong.


Let us analyse what this legislation really does: It reduces the number of school boards and cuts the number of trustees and their pay. This is a goal that many if not most Ontario parents agree with.

Why are we doing this? Between 1985 and 1995 school enrollment increased by 16% yet school board spending increased by 82% and property taxes increased by a tremendous 120%. This doesn't seem like accountability to me. Some may think that student achievement went up in those years. Comparative tests with other jurisdictions show that this simply isn't the case.

These changes are nothing new and many other jurisdictions have already adopted similar reforms. With these changes, parents will have a stronger direct voice in education because it will be entrenched in law that every school must have an advisory school council. These changes we are making will improve the quality of education, with accountability to the taxpayer, and cut bureaucratic waste and duplication. It will ensure that resources are focused on the classroom. That's right, we will focus resources on the classroom, which this recent OSSTF campaign would undermine.

It's my belief that school boards, parents and the majority of teachers do not condone this questionable use of classroom and student time. In fact, I'm sure that most front-line teachers have probably outright rejected this idea -- I'm sure of that -- but we must still raise the issue because even though individual teachers in vast numbers reject the politicization of the classroom, the union leadership has failed in representing the views of those teachers by refusing to withdraw their commitment to this campaign of politicizing the classroom and the curriculum.

That is why today I ask this assembly to support this resolution, in that we may be able to make a statement of principle today that defends and protects the special trust between parent, teacher and student.

I'm not alone in my concerns over the attempt to recruit students and to use the classroom in an organized political campaign. Even many media outlets that are quick to question many of our government's initiatives have resoundingly raised objections to this OSSTF campaign, and I'll quote some of the editorial comments.

First, the Windsor Star says, "We can assure Mr Manners many students, parents and taxpayers will find his game plan an unacceptable and unwelcome intrusion in the halls of learning."

From the Chatham Daily News we have this quote: "Whatever battles Ontario's secondary school teachers have with the Harris government...the classroom is not the place to fight them."

The Hamilton Spectator says, "Classrooms are places for learning, not for partisan political debate, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation should know the difference."

From the Kirkland Lake Northern Daily News we have this quote: "High school teachers in Ontario are taking their feud with the provincial government into the classroom. And that's the wrong place for any feud."

The Kitchener-Waterloo Record states: "The OSSTF has tripped over this line in a misconceived and illegitimate attempt to enlist students as soldiers in its war against education reform. Shame on the union leaders."

The Ottawa Citizen says: "Classroom time properly belongs neither to unions nor government, but to students. We hope the vast majority of Ontario's high school teachers...will resist this campaign."

The list goes on and on, but I will quote only one more. The St Catharines Standard says, "Nor should teaching and learning time be used to advance political views to a captive audience of young people who largely regard and trust teachers as authority figures."

It is this last comment from the St Catharines Standard that truly hits a chord as to why this orchestrated political campaign is so dangerous. Parents entrust the education of their children to the teacher and to the school system. It is often the experience in the classroom as much as in the home that helps to contribute to the mental and character development of our children. The positive influence that so many dedicated teachers have on our children is enormous. To engage in a political campaign with the classroom as the medium is truly a betrayal of the trust between parent and teacher and between teacher and child.

Parents have varying opinions on government policy. Some parents may agree with the initiatives we're proposing and some may disagree. But one thing is certain: Not everyone has the same opinion. This OSSTF campaign not only assumes that it is speaking for every teacher, it assumes it is speaking for every parent, and this simply is not so.

There are many challenges ahead of us as we make changes to our education system: changes that will improve student achievement, changes that will increase accountability and parental input, change that will ensure that we arm our children with the tools they need for the next century. Those tools are knowledge.

I hope that instead of confronting each other, we can confront the future of education together to widen student knowledge so that they can indeed pursue these limitless goals and opportunities.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I rise to speak against the resolution. It surprises me that the member would bring forth such a resolution. We are an elected assembly of common people, elected by the common people to institute and express the will of the people. If we are here as a House of Commons, if you will, then I think it's important for us to ensure that we are governed by the same laws that apply to the people we represent, and this is where I have trouble with this resolution.

The Ministry of Education and Training has politicized the classroom more than once by ordering government documents that verge on propaganda to be sent home by teachers to the students. A recent example of this is Excellence in Education: High School Reform. Principals and teachers distributed the document. Materials on the College of Teachers and a mailing from the Ontario Parent Council also were sent home for distribution.

The Minister of Education himself has chosen schools as settings for his recent announcements. He released his secondary reform consultation document at Northview Heights Secondary School in North York. He took over the classroom and brought media in with him. Obviously the minister felt that education reform was an issue worth bringing into the classroom, even though inviting the media may have suggested to some that he had other motives.

The minister took over the resource centre of Humber Summit Middle School in November to make a non-announcement on new curriculum standards. Several classes of students, as well as the media, were in the audience for that announcement.

The minister made his announcements on Bill 104 at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. He held a communications meeting at the Annette Street Public School, barring the parents of the school from the school.

When those who govern consider themselves to be above the law democracy is in trouble. I would suggest that with the passing of this resolution we would be in trouble when it comes to democracy.

Just imagine the ramifications of this. Show-and-tell in kindergarten would be illegal. Current events in the junior section would be illegal. Civics at the intermediate level would no longer be legal. We would have courses in high school such as law and society that wouldn't be allowed to take place. In fact, the new reform would suggest that every student in Ontario, regardless of ability level, at the grade 10 history level take a course on government. How can you teach government without politicizing the course? It is impossible.

This resolution does not serve the better needs of Ontario students.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to participate in this debate, and I am reminded of an article in the Ottawa Citizen on February 10 by Heather-jane Robertson, an educator in that community, in which she referred to the great Russian poet Yevtushenko, who in 1951 wrote a poem entitled Lies. In the poem Yevtushenko pleads with teachers to confront their students with reality and to engage with the world in all its complexity. He argues that if we don't do this as teachers, our silence is complicity in errors: "Forgive no error you recognize. It will repeat itself a hundredfold and afterward our pupils will not forgive in us what we forgave."

Yevtushenko has a good idea of what teaching and education is really about. It's about engaging students in discussion and challenging what happens in the real world. It's significant that Yevtushenko was writing in the Stalinist era and he was essentially challenging teachers in the Soviet Union to challenge what they saw as wrong in their society in their classrooms.

Surely, if we have that kind of a challenge given to teachers in that kind of an authoritarian system, a democratic system like ours would appreciate teachers bringing political issues to the classroom to challenge students to think about their society and the issues of the day. Surely we would not accept a Stalinist view that we should not engage students in discussions about political issues in their own classrooms. Frankly, I don't think the ministry accepts this view. I'm glad they don't. I'm sure that Mr Snobelen and his colleagues are not in fact supporters of a Stalinist view of education.

The minister himself has engaged in political discussion in classrooms with students, as have many other MPPs in this assembly. I was myself in Kitchener in a classroom yesterday, talking to students. I think that's something we should be doing as educators and MPPs. Teachers should be inviting political people and people from the community in to discuss issues of the day in the classrooms with the students and exposing them to different points of view so they can make their own decisions.

Surely, as the member for Sudbury just mentioned, ministry guidelines call on teachers and schools to have discussion of current events on appropriate subjects as part of the education of the kids in the classroom.

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): The key word is "appropriate."

Mr Wildman: The member says the key word is "appropriate." Who is to decide what is appropriate? In the Soviet Union Stalin decided what was appropriate.

I think that MPPs, all of us, have from time to time visited classrooms and discussed the issues of the day, whether they be Bill 104, Bill 103 or many of the issues that present themselves in this Legislature. Many students agree with some of the things that various members of the assembly say; many of them disagree. I think that teachers bring other people from the community into classrooms to discuss issues of the day and to have political discussions. That's part of what education is about. It's about challenging students with new ideas and challenging them to think, to analyse problems and make their own decisions.

I note that the Minister of Education and Training himself has chosen schools as the setting for many of his recent announcements and he has appeared with students to make announcements. He released his secondary school reform consultation document -- a very controversial document about changes at the secondary level, a very political document about the education of our students -- at Northview Heights Secondary School in North York, with a student audience. As a matter of fact, he took over a classroom and brought the media with him into that classroom, and I think he was quite right to have done that.

I think all these issues should be discussed in the classroom. We shouldn't be, as the member who brings this resolution forward is proposing, limiting what can be discussed around political issues, particularly issues related to education, in our classrooms. The minister certainly doesn't accept that. He also took over the resource centre at Humber Summit Middle School in November to make an announcement regarding curriculum standards, a very political document related to his view and the government's view of what they consider to be mediocre results of our education system. That in itself is a political statement. On that occasion, several classes of students as well as the media were in the audience for the announcement and participated in discussions and debate with the minister.

I think one of the things we have to keep in mind is that many times schools are criticized for not being involved in the issues of the day; for not exposing students to the real world; for somehow keeping students away from discussion and debate about issues that will matter to them as individuals, both now and in the future. Surely the member who is bringing forward this resolution is not suggesting that teachers should be censored, that teachers should not be able to bring issues, controversial issues even, before their students for discussion. What is important is that the debate be balanced and that there be issues raised on both sides. That is what is important, not deciding what is appropriate or not appropriate for discussion, but rather that the issues and the debates be brought forward in a balanced manner. That is the challenge.

I think the Ministry of Education and Training has politicized the classroom, to use the phrase. I think they should politicize the classroom. I don't think there's anything wrong with politicizing the classroom. We are in a political society, a democratic society that involves citizens of every age, whether they be voters yet or not, in issues of the day, and what is crucial is that the debate be balanced.

If the member were bringing forward a resolution arguing that controversial issues should be brought before students in classrooms by their teachers in a balanced manner, I would understand it and I could support it. But rather, he is suggesting that teachers should not bring these issues before their students. That is not acceptable. It calls into question the very purpose of education and the purpose of teaching.

As Yevtushenko said in 1951 in the Soviet Union, teachers must denounce what is wrong in their society. Teachers must stand up for what is right against what is wrong. They must do that as role models for their students. If teachers see issues being brought forward in such a way as to endanger the education of their students, then it is incumbent upon them to "forgive no error, for it will repeat itself a hundredfold and afterwards our pupils will not forgive us what we forgave."

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I believe the intent of this resolution is clear, that along with the Honourable John Snobelen, the Minister of Education and Training, and my colleague from Hamilton, from Wentworth East, what we are respectfully requesting is that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation end their campaign to use classroom time to inform students about their current lobbying efforts.

The issue is one of respect. I believe the federation's position does not show due respect for the young people in Ontario classrooms. Certainly the professionalism of Ontario's teachers is not in question, but they have a stake in this issue because it is unfair to place teachers in the position where they are forced to decided whether or not to use precious classroom time to present their union's message to their students.

The crux of the issue is that the federation wishes to use its time, through its teachers, to present a one-sided message, which amounts to providing the union with free publicity. We are not talking about a two-sided argument, as the member for Algoma indicated. There is no dispute that a two-sided argument is appropriate in our classrooms. It's the one-sided argument that is in dispute here and I suggest should be condemned.

A balanced presentation is what is essential and what is required in our classrooms. The federation's intent to use classroom time to present a one-sided viewpoint is, I suggest, not appropriate. It's advertising and not debate.

In addition, there's the issue of democratic fairness. The federation proposes to present ideas shared by some teachers and by some of the students' parents. In a fair, democratic environment, students should expect to hear from many and all sides.

I want to be very clear that I'm not opposed in any way to bringing the outside world into a classroom or into this Legislature either. No one can dispute that it's a necessary and valuable part of our children's education. We want our children to be well informed about current events. However, we do not want our children to be subjected to one-sided lobbying presentations from any side, and we do not want to allocate time to advertise for one group or another.

As our children learn to participate in the democratic process, it is important that they learn to assess information, weigh arguments and learn how to come to a decision on their own without undue influence. Perhaps some of them could be MPPs one day.


Members in this House who have read the editorial comments in the Ottawa Citizen, the St Catherines Standard, the Windsor Star, the Sault Star and several other newspapers will have noted recent editorials specifically addressing this issue. The view expressed in these journals is unusually consistent, that while the federation has every right to disagree with the provincial government's agenda for education, it has a vested interest in this dispute and should not be using classroom time to encourage students to take sides.

I'd like to read a few sentences into the record. From the St Catharines Standard editorial of February 14: "We have no argument with teaching them," high school students, "about the democratic process.... However, using classroom time to recruit students to the OSSTF's political cause is an abuse of position."

The Windsor Star, February 7: "The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has every right to disagree with the provincial government's agenda for education, but it is irresponsible for OSSTF president Earl Manners to suggest that the battle should now be taken to the classroom floor."

February 7, the Stratford Beacon Herald editorial: "It would have been inappropriate for the local OSSTF to enlist students and parents in its quarrel with education minister John Snobelen. The teachers have a right to mount whatever political action they choose, but they have a vested interest."

Two more editorials. On February 7, from my home town, the Hamilton Spectator, the editorial stated: "Classrooms are places for learning, not for partisan debate, and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation should know the difference." Finally, February 10, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, the editorial there states: "There is a clear line between teaching politics and preaching politics. Between teaching children and indoctrinating them. The OSSTF has tripped over this line."

The member for Sudbury referred to the document entitled Excellence in Education, the secondary school reform document. This was a consultation document. The government wanted to consult with all the stakeholders before implementing any type of reform, and in fact we received 23,000 submissions. It is, I suggest, right to ask all the stakeholders, to ask for a consultation. I applaud the member for Algoma for saying that it's fair and right, in his usual fair and objective manner.

I congratulate the vast majority of classroom teachers of this province who, unlike Mr Manners, understand what is appropriate and what is not. They know that while he is responsible for their federation, the teachers of our province have a far more important and challenging job, and that is to educate our children.

They also know, as professionals, that to use students for political purposes would undermine their own professionalism. Their reaction has been what this government has expected of teachers of this province: an understanding that while in the classroom the teacher's own interests take a second priority to providing students with a sound education, free of crass and heavy-handed attempts at enlisting students in their own cause.

I ask members to join me and Mr Doyle in requesting that the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation let the children learn how to think for themselves and drop their request for classroom time to advertise their views.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I consider this resolution to be both unnecessary and offensive. Teachers are, in my view, professionals. They are not going to politicize the classroom, and they are most certainly not going to exploit their students. They are concerned about what this government's actions in education are going to do to their students in the future. This government has caused them to want to try and make the case for public education, but it is equally true that teachers across this province are making it absolutely clear that they are going to raise any concerns outside the classroom, that they are making a very clear distinction between their political action and what they believe to be appropriate and legitimate curriculum.

Having said that, I want to tell you that I am absolutely, totally fed up with the cynicism and the sheer hypocrisy of this government. This is a government talking about trust. This government is about to wipe out local governance for education, and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education says it is because trustees universally, across the province, in their view, have mismanaged education. This is a government that talks about trust?

I can tell you that for parents what this government is doing is a matter of trust. Parent group after parent group and individual parent after individual parent who have come forward to our committee holding hearings on this government's Bill 104 have said loudly and clearly who they trust. They trust their local trustees. They trust local decision-making for education. They do not trust this government to make good decisions about education for their children.

The hypocrisy of this government is absolutely unbelievable. This is a government that is forcing private citizens, as well as other elected representatives, into court. They're going to do it time and time again, because they are so determined to bring forward legislation which is completely undemocratic and unprecedented in this province. They refuse to stop being autocrats, and then they challenge what has to be spent in the courts to defend democracy, while they spend $746,000 on a television ad trying to convince people that they are improving education. As the member from Sudbury pointed out yesterday, $746,000 is enough to provide textbooks for 1,000 classrooms. Talk about hypocrisy.

I deplore the cynicism and the hypocrisy of a government that misuses figures the way the member for Wentworth East has misused them today. I respect the member for Wentworth East, and I understand that the misuse of that information is not totally attributable to him. There is no question that he and every member of the Conservative caucus are being fed this kind of misinformation by a Minister of Education who is determined to convince people that there is a problem in education that he must fix, there is a crisis in public education that only he can deal with, a Minister of Education who then ignores all objective evidence of how wrong his actions are.

He wants to amalgamate school boards. He refuses to look at any of the evidence that there are no cost savings from amalgamation, that every study that has been done on amalgamation says big boards are less cost-effective than smaller boards. He misuses his own report, when it shows that you can only get $150 million from amalgamating boards, and refuses to acknowledge the fact that of that $150 million, $9.9 million is coming directly out of the classroom. He refuses to pay any attention to the objective evidence of what his cuts have already done to classroom education.

In the last four days of hearings here in Toronto, we have had teachers, trustees, parents and students, all those people the member for Wentworth East talks about building trust between, come to us and tell us of their very deep concerns, their distress, their fear about what this government has already done to education through its cuts, what's happening to the classrooms and their very profound fears of what will happen to classrooms in the future, what this government, which is so determined to convince people that things are wrong in education in the province of Ontario, will do to classrooms.

I suggest to you that it is no wonder people are looking for every forum they can possibly find to try to make this government listen. I can only add my pleas to the members of the government who are here today to speak to a resolution that has been brought forward to try to launch some sort of counterattack because for four days they have had people coming in and saying how disastrous their policies are, so the government wants some sort of counterattack; I can only plead with them to listen to the very real concerns that are being brought forward and to the fears of those teachers, parents and students about what they are doing to public education.

I am afraid they will follow the direction of the minister, who has shut out the concerns of the very educators and parents the member for Wentworth East claims to speak for today. Exactly who is it who is destroying trust in our education system? Any orchestrated campaign of teachers or any other group, as referred to by the member for Wentworth East, cannot compare to the campaign of this government that is being carried out at considerable cost in dollars and the loss of democracy and a threat to public education. I only ask that the members of the government understand the depth of the concern.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I come to the debate on this motion from this perspective: I know the member for Wentworth East is a very honourable member, a member with much integrity, and maybe some of the newer members elected on the Tory side, as he himself is, should take a look at him because I think he is a very honourable member. But I'm very concerned about what this motion is all about.

In this motion, when you look at it and read it, you're saying to us as legislators and to people across the province that you want this Legislature to adopt a policy that is more suitably found in totalitarian states, where the state decides what it is that will and will not be said in a classroom when it comes to current affairs issues or political issues.

That is really dangerous, especially in a society like ours that is based on democratic rights, a society in which politics in the Legislature and the House of Commons plays a very integral role in what happens in our life. I believe fervently and strongly, and I can't affirm it any other way, that one of the things that has to happen in our classrooms for certain is that I don't want to see politicians putting their hands on the classroom by way of motions, dictating what teachers cannot talk about in the classroom, because what they talk about there prepares the kids for when they come out into the workforce later.

If anything, I have a complaint that possibly not enough discussion about politics is happening in the classroom. We have been seeing a huge change in our society over the last 10 or 20 years, how politics has become much more complex because of the media of television and radio. People are able to open the television or listen to the radio and find out immediately what is happening in our land and what is affecting them, as it relates to what's happening both at the Legislature and the House of Commons.

One of the complaints I get a lot from people is that they sometimes don't quite understand what is going on because they don't have a good basis of what our political system is all about and how it works, because it is not taught in the classroom to the degree it needs to be.

As the member for Algoma mentioned earlier, many of us as legislators are invited on a regular basis to go into the classroom and talk to the students about what happens here in the Legislature. They invite us in as New Democrats, Liberals and Tories because some teachers want to make sure those kids get a basing in politics and understand that we have a political system, that it is a political one and that it is party politics that goes on in this place.

I believe not enough of that goes on. What we should be trying to do within the classroom is to make sure we don't only prepare children to become adept at being able to make the transition into the workforce so that they know how to read and count and work the machinery of industry, but we should also be preparing our kids for life, letting them know what our political system is all about, letting them know how it relates to them, letting them know about current affairs issues so they can come to decisions on their own, presenting to them all the points of view, not just the points of view of New Democrats or Tories but all the views, so they themselves as individuals are able better to decide what should be their belief and where they would like to go and what they would like to support and not support.

I would just say this to the member opposite: If I have one complaint as a New Democrat about what happens in the classroom in regard to teachers -- let me take this a little bit differently; I'll get in trouble saying it that way -- it is that the member needs to recognize that if you were to pass a motion like this and this were actually to become government policy, a vast majority of teachers tend to be fairly right-wing and you're going to be stopping them from having the ability to speak in the classroom about what is important to them when it comes to the politics of this province.

If I have a complaint it is that I think there are not enough New Democrats in the teaching profession to give our particular point of view.

Je dirais très directement au gouvernement que la motion que l'on a ici aujourd'hui est très dangereuse. Ce que le membre essaie de faire, c'est de nous dire ici à l'Assemblée que l'on doit passer une motion qui va dire aux maîtres et aux maîtresses d'école à travers la province qu'ils n'ont pas le droit d'aller dans la salle de classe et parler de politique et de ce qui arrive couramment chaque jour dans la politique en Ontario. C'est très dangereux.

Il est très important que les élèves de la province prennent l'opportunité de savoir ce qui se passe dans la province, ce qui se passe avec le gouvernement conservateur, ce qui se passe avec le Parti libéral et avec le Nouveau Parti démocratique. Ils ont besoin de connaître toutes ces questions-là parce qu'ils vont venir au point où ils auront le droit de vote et où ils vont devenir les chefs de notre société dans les années à venir. C'est très important que ce développement politique se fasse à un jeune âge, qu'ils ont la chance d'avoir toutes les formations qu'ils peuvent avoir, avant d'entrer dans le marché de travail et avant de commencer l'âge de vote, afin de pouvoir regarder les points de vue de tous les partis politiques et regarder toutes les questions qui nous touchent ici en Ontario, afin d'être capables de se faire leurs propres idées faisant affaire avec ces questions qui nous touchent dans notre société.

Je dis au membre de Wentworth-Est, et je le connais comme étant un membre très sincère dans ses travaux ici à l'Assemblée, pensez-y deux fois : ce que vous nous demandez de faire est quelque chose qui a été vu plutôt dans une société comme celle de l'Allemagne des années 30 ou de l'Union soviétique avant les années 90, où le gouvernement disait aux écoliers et à la société ce qui était acceptable et ce qui n'était pas acceptable comme vue politique dans les classes et dans la société en général. Ce n'est pas quelque chose que nous, dans une démocratie, devons faire pour donner une direction à nos salles de classe de la province.

I will not be voting for this motion. I just say this very last thing: I find this motion somewhat hypocritical when I see a government spending how many millions of dollars on advertising on television to get its points of view to Ontarians every day, and they have a problem with teachers talking about what happens about this in the classroom.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure today to rise in support of Mr Doyle's resolution. The member for Wentworth East has gone on record as being opposed to the politicizing of the classroom, and who out there could not support that view? Those who would argue we should politicize the classroom have really gone too far.

Education must, first and most importantly, be focused on the needs of the student and we all know that those are as various and as different from grade level as they are within a grade itself. Each individual student needs special attention and we need to pay attention to that.

There's a partnership in education. It's often referred to that it takes a whole community to educate a child. They must be exposed to all elements within society which, with the multimedia society we live in, they are exposed to today. On the outside you listen to the news, you watch the newspaper and you see all these things about mega this and mega that. There's plenty of politicization outside the classroom.

But there's a trusted partnership arrangement between the student, the teacher, the parent and the community. It's that trust I want to focus on. To breach that trust is a breach of the contract or relationship between the teacher and the student and the parents. We've extended the trust based on the high regard and high respect for the role of the professional teacher in the classroom. I think the individual teachers I've met and spoken with are very much conscious of not wanting to bring all their particular union baggage into the classroom. Many of them are very concerned about being fair and honest within the classroom.

I specifically have to look at a couple of comments from the press. There's a lot of press on this issue and I'm just going to quote a couple at random. These aren't selected. "We hear the concerns that they, the teachers have, but those kinds of activities should be kept outside the classroom and our schools. That isn't the place for them. Classrooms are not going to become debating situations for the politics of the day" -- Ray De Rosario, director of education, Sault Ste Marie public school board. It was in the Sault Star on February 7. That's generally reflective, and there's the director of education. I completely agree with that type of professionalism and that attitude.


If we're invited into a classroom, I think we should be responding, as we all do. As members we have a duty to respond in an attempt to educate in a fair and reasonable way.

Before I wrap up -- I want to share my time with another member who has another point of view on this -- I want to bring to your attention that I'm invited tonight, and I'm just looking at my schedule here, to the school advisory committee and parent council. We know the composition of that council involves educators, parents, hopefully students and also community personnel. Here are the topics for the debate tonight: Bill 103, which is the Toronto city bill; Bill 104, which is the appropriate bastion of education changes; and Bill 106, which is the finance bill. So they're discussing everything, which is fine, but that's what's actually happening in the classroom.

I took some liberties and inquired with a couple of people. Each teacher and each student is being encouraged to circulate a petition which is not just dealing with education, it's dealing with all of the Harris changes, as they call it, within that petition.

I think we've gone overboard. We've broken the trust with the students, and I think we've pressured teachers, who don't want it, through union organizations, into a situation of either being on side with the union agenda or offside, and not really being allowed to care for the children entrusted to them.

I'm sharing my time with Mr Smith. Thank you very much.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): What we are seeing with this resolution is yet another attack on educators and in particular members of the teaching profession by the government of Mike Harris. It is an attack which I'm sure must embarrass the former critic in the field of education, the Honourable Dianne Cunningham, who did, I thought, a very good job as critic and would not be part of this kind of nonsense. In addition to this, it must embarrass Elizabeth Witmer, now the Minister of Labour, who was, I thought, a good chair of the board of education in the Waterloo area.

The member has obviously been put up to this. This is not his nature. The member I know for Wentworth East is not the kind of person who is a vicious or malicious person at all. I believe the Premier's office or the Minister of Education's office has suggested that this should be the topic of conversation, that it should be --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Mr Speaker, on a point of order --

Mr Bradley: Sit down. Don't take up my time with that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean on a point of order.

Mr Bradley: I'll fix you then. You want to take time --

Mr Baird: Will you agree to hear my point of order?

I think the member opposite is impugning the motives and integrity of the member for Wentworth East. I believe it's strictly against the standing orders to impugn the motives of an honourable member in this place.

The Acting Speaker: I was listening carefully to the member for St Catharines. I would like to hear him out.

Mr Bradley: Having been interrupted by somebody who obviously knows that what I'm saying is true in this House, that your government is up to this kind of campaign against educators -- you know that. That's why you're reacting.

The MPP has put forward this resolution which is, as I say, designed to discredit members of the teaching profession, in my view, yet the government of Ontario is spending three quarters of a million taxpayers' dollars to have the Premier come on the television set reading a teleprompter message that is clearly designed to put forward a government position. It is unquestionably government propaganda, the worst kind of partisan propaganda, using taxpayers' dollars, and this government has the audacity to attack people who want to put before the students the issues and have those issues debated.

I'm sure those students are going to be debating them successfully. They're going to want to get all points of view, and that's going to be important. Teachers have the kind of integrity that ensures that those viewpoints are going to be put forward. I know many people in the teaching profession. They're going to bend over backwards to ensure that's the case.

It was all right for the Minister of Education to show up at some high school to make his announcement, a big grant announcement for the television cameras, with all the news media there. That's all right, but if anybody else wants to put any other point of view forward or have it discussed in the classroom, this government is going to condemn that.

MPPs have an opportunity from time to time to visit schools. I'm sure they put forward a point of view which is their point of view and one which can be challenged.

This is part of an orchestrated campaign against public sector employees. You have declared that anybody who is in the public sector, regardless of what kind of service they provide, is going to be the enemy of this government. The ads add up to $749,878 in total. I think it is an absolute disgrace that you're engaging in this kind of attack on people who are working very hard in the system to deliver education to our students.

It's a very challenging job. It's not the 1950s, and apparently many people on the government side are stuck in the 1950s. These people face new challenges. There are far more children from dysfunctional families who show up in the classroom now with challenges of a social nature than was the case in the 1950s. We have people from other countries coming who require special services within the system. We now have those who have disabilities integrated into the regular school system. All of this requires a lot of hard work. What you are doing is systematically destroying the morale of members of the teaching profession. This kind of resolution is designed to do that and is designed to attack them.

Why don't you simply engage in the proper kind of debate in this assembly and elsewhere? If members of this assembly wish to visit schools and be part of a discussion, let them do so, and I'm sure they would be most welcome to do so. But to engage in this is simply to engage in the kind of teacher-bashing, educator- bashing that we're seeing consistently from all the members of this government and I think it's a provincial disgrace to see this happening. It does not build a consensus that we need.

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure as well to join in and speak in support of my colleague's resolution this morning and add some comments to those already made by the member for Durham East, who I know brings a great deal of passion to the issue of education, as well as the member for Wentworth North.

I read with interest the correspondence that the member circulated with his particular resolution and I found interesting the two stated goals that were contained in that piece of correspondence, the first being to protect and defend the professionalism of teachers in this province, and the second being that the focus of education reform should be on the classroom and not politics.

I would differ substantially with the comments made by the member for Cochrane South. I think we have to differentiate between the art of teaching political system versus the art of teaching partisan politics in the classroom.

I think there should be no mystery whatsoever in terms of the government's clear intentions to fundamentally reform education in this province. The intentions are very clear about bringing positive changes to school governance, funding and curriculum, changes which are necessary and changes which I fully understand will bring a range of responses, both positive and negative. No one is under a false illusion to that effect.

When the member for Dovercourt questioned Mr David Cooke at the government agencies committee during his appearance for his appointment, I thought it odd and interesting from that perspective in his comments that Mr Cooke responded to the member for Dovercourt by saying:

"Some things that are being done here are close to what we were going to do. Even some of the decisions that the government has had to make, that it will be making, in terms of the new financing of school boards and how dollars will be distributed, those are things that no matter who would have been elected, there would have had to be some decisions on."

I think that's a very important perspective that Mr Cooke brings to the debate, not only from his previous capacity as a senior minister in the former government, but as a co-chair of the Education Improvement Commission.

I find it somewhat difficult to be extremely critical of the member for Fort William or the member for Sudbury because, as I have sat in committee with those individuals, they have a unique blend of politics and passion for education in this province. But as we sat there and listened to the comments that the Liberal opposition members were making, I opened up the Liberal book and saw the very statements about school board reform, about education reform. It's important that we reflect on those comments and realize that the issue of education in this province is not isolated to the government of the day. It's an issue that has been addressed not only by a former Minister of Education but by a party that had clear intentions in the previous election of addressing education reform as well.

I thought of, as my colleague has alluded to, the comments that appeared in the Lindsay Daily Post. Those comments stated, "Ontario teachers have every right to protest provincial changes that they feel are going to damage education, but that opposition should stop at the classroom door." I fully endorse that position, and it's a position that, by and large, many constituents in my riding have made very clear to me in the conversations we've had.

By comparison to the member for Fort William, I think the classroom campaign as proposed by the secondary teacher executive is an insult to the many hardworking secondary teachers in Middlesex.

In conclusion, I would only emphasize that all efforts should be made to direct our efforts towards the classroom, avoid the politics and get on with the task of fundamentally reforming education in this province.


The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Wentworth East.

Mr Doyle: I thank all my colleagues who spoke in support of my resolution here today.

To conclude, I would just like to say that nowhere in my resolution did I argue against political discussion in the classroom. I think it's extremely important that there is political discussion in the classroom. However, I'd like to point out that there is a great difference between political discussion and political indoctrination. This is the thing we are concerned about. I'm certainly concerned about that. Certainly nowhere did I intend to attack the teaching profession or public sector employees; that was not at all the truth. What I am trying to do is point out that politics have to be kept out of the classroom, though issues of the day in politics are certainly a topic for discussion by teachers.

I'd like to sincerely urge that all here today vote in favour of this resolution so that we may protect and defend the professionalism of teachers and maintain the integrity of the classroom.

As a conclusion to our debate, I'd like to end by reading portions of the preamble to my resolution that sum up many significant points as to why we must pass this resolution.

Whereas the province of Ontario is responsible for the schooling of our children in the public school system; and

Whereas the Ministry of Education recognizes and respects the dedication and professionalism of teachers who have in their charge the education of our children so that they can attain the highest goals and pursue limitless opportunities; and

Whereas teachers are placed in sacred bond of trust between parents and their children to ensure their intellectual development is allowed to progress without interruption; and

Whereas school boards are required to ensure that all curriculum is based upon guidelines supplied by the Ministry of Education and Training; and

Whereas the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has launched a campaign to bring its protest into the classrooms of Ontario in violation of that trust between teacher, parent, and student; and

Whereas the OSSTF is planning to use up valuable classroom time to pursue union politics and to exploit children in the classroom for its campaign --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Doyle: As I mentioned, Mr Speaker, in the opinion of this House, that should not be done.

As I mentioned, there are many challenges ahead, and I hope we can all move forward together to improve our education system that in the end will enable our children to face the new century with the confidence and knowledge they will need to prosper and succeed.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I move private member's notice of motion number 42:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should stop cutting base funding of hospitals and allow communities to determine how to restructure their hospital services and find efficiency savings based on their needs;

Should ensure that community services are in place before hospitals are closed since the Health Services Restructuring Commission has begun its work of amalgamating, merging and closing many hospitals across Ontario, in both urban and rural communities;

Should reinvest savings achieved through the restructuring process into local community services since the withdrawal of millions of dollars of hospital funding from those same communities is occurring without the commitment to reinvest those dollars into community services in that community;

Should ensure that hospital funding must be equitable and based on a formula that reflects demographic and regional needs; and

Should ensure that health services, including emergency and urgent care services, are available to all Ontarians.

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

Mrs Pupatello: Thank you, Speaker. I can tell you that I've waited for some time to have the opportunity to bring forward a private member's resolution that would make a difference, not just for people in Windsor, Essex county, southwest Ontario, but indeed for all of Ontario.

My resolution today, as you've just heard, deals with health policy according to the Mike Harris government. All I can say, in particular to Conservative MPPs who are here in this House or who are in their offices at the moment and who I know will be coming into the House by noon to vote on what I view as probably one of the most important issues that we will face as legislators ever in our term here with the Harris government -- I know they are listening because they are experiencing what we are in Windsor, in Essex county, where health services are concerned.

This began because the moment Mike Harris became the Premier, $1.3 billion was being removed from hospitals. This is a $1.3-billion cut over three years. What we looked for was reason in the policies of Mike Harris. We haven't been able to find reason. Repeatedly over the last several months we have brought our concerns into the House and we have been met with a wall. We have been met with a health minister who has not been prepared to listen to the real stories of people in Windsor, people from Atikokan hospital, people from Lakehead hospital, the people who are seeing the devastating effects of cuts to their base funding of hospitals with community services that are simply not in place.

We've heard many times the health minister on his feet here and the health minister has always said, "We are reinvesting more than we're cutting." So ladies and gentlemen, legislators in this House today, I have to ask you to listen sincerely to my colleagues who are advocating on behalf of this resolution. I have to ask you to listen sincerely to the stories you are hearing.

In the case of Windsor, we feel that our health services are suffering. We have report after report: "Bed Shortage Takes Toll." We have story after story. I have file folders like this in my office of letters from families who've had experiences in our hospital system or who have had experiences with the health services that simply have not been adequate. My office spends more time on one issue and that is health, and good quality health, than any other of the issues combined. We spend more of our time trying to ensure that the people in my riding of Windsor-Sandwich get good quality health care.

I know that all the MPPs in this House are striving to ensure that their residents have good quality care and what that means today is that while you can, during private members' hour, vote your conscience, not your party. This gives you the opportunity to stand up for the people in your constituencies, the people who have already written to you, the people who have sent you petitions. We know that's happened in Lanark-Renfrew; that's happened in London North; that's happened in Niagara. It's happened in Brampton South, Guelph, Niagara South, Rainy River.

There are Conservative MPPs in this House who have received petitions. Those petitions read almost verbatim what our private member's resolution is today, and that says that we are gravely concerned about the cuts to hospitals. We feel that health services are suffering. The government is reducing hospital funding and not reinvesting that money in those same communities.

We have current situations in Bruce, in Grey county. There are individuals there, their local representatives, who are in the House today. I will be watching with a close eye, as will your constituents, to see how you will be voting today, because we expect during private members' hour, when you have the one opportunity to vote, not with your party but with your conscience, you know what is the right thing to do.


I will give you example after example that the reinvestment simply is not happening. Let's take the case of Windsor-Sandwich. We have an emergency ward which services the west side of Essex county. There are people here today from my riding who left Windsor at a quarter to six to be here today to watch how all of us as MPPs are responsible to see that emergency services will continue to be provided to the people all over Essex county, not just if you happen to live around Metropolitan's site or around Hotel Dieu, but that if you happen to be in LaSalle, Amherstburg, Anderdon or River Canard, you too will have access to emergency services.

That service is scheduled to close on April 18. What has not happened yet? Not a dollar has been flowing from this restructuring, amalgamating, merging that has allowed the other sites of emergency to be built up to take that overflow. That, friends, is a fact. I have brought the press to those emergency sites. They have seen it with their own eyes. This is something we cannot politicize. You have to know the fact and we expect you not be political today when you're voting on this resolution.

You are aware of the story of a Peterborough man who died in a hallway after spending hours overnight in emergency because there were no beds. Within days of our leader, Dalton McGuinty, bringing that message into this House, the health ministry announced that it would reinstate 15 beds in Peterborough, but they're short 20 to 30 beds on a regular basis.

What we are seeing is that there is no clear mission of the health minister. What we see is that there is no consistency to what he is doing. If we happen to bring the issue up in the House, suddenly we see something happen. We were supposed to have the report on restructuring from Lambton county today. Somehow that's been put on hold. Why? Because now the health minister wants to talk about a rural hospital policy. Why did they announce the closures in Pembroke if that was the case? We are finding example after example of no concrete plan. What I am asking members in this House today is to help us tell the health minister, your health minister, that what is happening is wrong, that people are suffering.

I want to mention too the numbers of people who have contacted me. These are people who are not necessarily from my riding but who knew that we would be debating this today. Naturally, we've let them know that we want their voices heard, so when we talk about the people from London North, the people from Niagara, the people who are truly concerned -- we've been learning as we travel around Ontario that the Niagara region has the most senior population in Ontario. For them, when they watch what happens in health and in hospitals, they know that if they don't have problems today, they are going to have problems in 10 years.

All of the people who are being sent out on this charge, Duncan Sinclair included -- the head of this hospital closing commission himself has said that he's been put up to this by the health minister. He himself is on record as saying that he will not be a party to the hospital closing commission if he doesn't see reinvestment happening in those communities because he knows it's the right thing to do.

Members, I ask you again most sincerely: The way that your health minister is sending through this health policy of making cuts to hospital funding at the same time as forcing amalgamating, merging, closures, is making them find savings in addition to the cuts. It is an impossible situation for hospital administrators to find ways to find the savings while they're being cut, while they're being merged and amalgamated. What happens is that people have only a couple of choices: They don't provide the service or they provide the service.

Unfortunately, what my files tell me, while we're being buried in paper in the offices across Ontario, is that our constituencies -- I know they are, from story after story -- are not getting the service. Friends, that is just not acceptable. It's not acceptable to me, to the people of Windsor-Sandwich, Grey county, Bruce county and Niagara Falls. These are the people who have been calling us and saying, "Help us change the health policies of this government." All I can say, friends, is please vote in favour of this today.


The Acting Speaker: Excuse me. Stop the clock. I would like to remind those who are visiting us today that there are absolutely no demonstrations in the galleries. We appreciate your being here. We'd like you to go by those rules.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's indeed appropriate that I stand today as a private member from London to talk about this resolution because of course yesterday the hospital restructuring commission came down with very devastating news for our community.

Let me preface my remarks by making it very clear that all of us in our party support restructuring our health care system. We want it to become a health care system instead of the illness system it is at the present time, and we want that to happen in an orderly fashion that does not endanger the patients who rely on the health system for their care -- and that's all of us. This issue involves all of us and all of our families and all of our constituents.

Let me make it clear that I come from a community that has been working on restructuring extraordinarily hard and that was acknowledged in the commission's report yesterday as having moved ahead a lot further than other communities in terms of trying to cope with the new realities brought to us by technology, brought to us by changes in the delivery of health care in many different ways. That acknowledgement was very valuable. I was so proud as a representative of London to sit in the news conference with the various health care provider agencies yesterday and hear them clearly commit to work together on behalf of the patients in their areas and clearly say that although there were terrible problems in terms of human resource issues, they were prepared to try and work together to ameliorate those problems as well as possible.

We're not talking about wholesale resistance to change in my community, but the most devastating aspect of this whole plan is the closure of two psychiatric hospitals in our area -- not one, but two. Our community had worked very hard over a long period of time to try and recognize that, given the way in which new treatments for those who were psychiatrically disabled had allowed them to return to the community, it was unlikely two Ontario psychiatric hospitals within a 40-kilometre radius would be allowed to stay open. But to hear that both of those hospitals will be closed by December 31, 1999, throwing a minimum of 1,300 people out of work in the combined communities of Elgin and London-Middlesex, was a devastating piece of news.

Let me speak first about what it means for the patients who rely on those two hospitals. The commission made it very clear it was making this recommendation with the condition, and it's very clear, that it will only work if all $46 million that is going to be saved as a result of the closure of those hospitals goes back into the community to provide services, and its expectation was that those services would be up and running and available to patients before those hospitals close.

There are a few logical difficulties here, because the major community service that assists those who are psychiatrically disabled, chronically psychiatrically ill, is homes for special care. What has this government done? They've downloaded homes for special care on to municipalities 100%. It is our estimate that if indeed this government goes ahead with what is now quite clear from the closure at Thunder Bay, the closure at Brockville and the closure at St Thomas and London, destroying the psychiatric hospital system entirely, we will need at least 2,000 units of housing across the province that is going to help these people to be as productive as possible, as healthy as possible and as safe as possible. Yet this same government, of course, has downloaded responsibilities for both social housing and homes for special care on to municipalities. This is a formula for disaster, quite frankly.


It is possible to deinstitutionalize. In fact, our party has very clearly said we believe it is a more humane way to deal with chronic psychiatric illness -- we've been very clear about that -- but only if those supports are there in the community. Yet this government, at the same time it is closing this hospital, has taken other measures that make it almost impossible to ensure that those services will be available in communities at prices those communities can afford. Believe me, you cannot support an appropriate support system for the psychiatrically disabled on the property tax. It simply won't happen.

We have a situation, faced within a very small community of Elgin and London-Middlesex, where 300 beds of chronic care for psychiatric illnesses will be lost. We have no assurance of where those people will go and we have no assurance of how they will cared for.

The second issue, of course, is the issue of who is going to look after them. In the whole process of deinstitutionalization which has been taking place over a long period of time, the assumption was that we wouldn't lose the expertise of the people who have been working in those institutions, that we would retrain those people and help them to move into the community aspect of care. But we have a problem. If those beds are still open and the staff are still required to work in those facilities, how can they apply for and get retraining for the jobs in the community at the same time, particularly when the recommendation of the report is that nobody be discharged into the community until those services are up and running? There's a logical inconsistency here that's very difficult.

When we look at the economic impact -- and I'm going to speak here for the member for Elgin, because he's an independent and doesn't have time under our rules at this time. The economic impact to a rural area of Elgin county of the closure of St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital is enormous, yet we have, with the influence of the Conservative members of this place, a minister announcing a halt in the closure to rural hospitals because of economic impact. It didn't make any difference in Elgin county, where the member doesn't happen to be a Progressive Conservative member. It is going to have a devastating affect on Elgin county, on its economic ability to maintain itself as a community, because of the heavy reliance there has been on that institution to provide jobs, to provide the spinoff for supply in that area.

The economic effect will not be quite as devastating within London, but we are a health care centre. Not only will the staff be unable to work at the psychiatric hospital, but this change in configuration, taking acute care away from St Joseph's Hospital and moving everything to the London Health Sciences Centre, will also have an enormous impact on jobs and an enormous impact on our community, on our ability to maintain our property tax status, on our ability to maintain our local businesses.

This is all happening at the same time that there are many other shoes left to drop. We do not know in our community, nor do others, what the final issue is going to be around the beds available in long-term care. When you close a psychiatric facility, when you change the configuration of services, when you deal with an issue of moving people out of acute care hospitals into some kind of convalescent phase, you automatically involve home care issues. Yet the decisions around home care, around long-term care, have yet to be made.

We are seeing all these changes accelerating faster and faster without all the pieces being put into place. What becomes very clear is that this government's health policy is not about restructuring health care. This government's policy is about cutting costs. This government's policy is about cutting costs without having done the impact studies, without understanding what the long-term and short-term and medium-term effects of their actions are going to be. The people who are going to suffer are those who are most vulnerable: the patients. That is the real problem we face.

We have a government that speaks one language when it comes to how much they care about the needs of patients in the health care system and then does something quite different. This minister and this ministry have shown they are not managing this change well, that they have not been aware of the gaps that are forming and the problems that are forming. When we ask a question about cardiac care, the minister scrambles and says, "We'll flow some cash so those waiting lists will go down."

We shouldn't have to raise these issues in this place. This system, if it's restructuring, should be being managed well by the minister and the ministry, but it's not. Every single one of us, as members in this House, knows of the instances where this is the case. We all have examples in our offices and we all know that the mismanagement of this minister is a big part of the problem.

This minister says we're fearmongering. The fear is not coming from us; the fear is there in the patients and their families, who are experiencing the very real gap between the fine words of the minister and the reality they face when they go to their local hospitals.

We will be voting for this resolution and supporting very much the sense it brings to this Legislature, and we call upon the Tory members to do the same.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'm certainly pleased to join in the debate on this resolution brought by the member for Windsor-Sandwich, but I must confess that the resolution sounds very similar to the one put forward last week by the member for Renfrew North. I'm almost tempted to give the very same speech I did last week, but there's so much evidence in the resolutions of misinformation and conjecture that I really don't have to; there are other things to address.

I believe it was Mark Twain who once said that you should first get your facts straight, then you can distort them as you please. That is why this morning I'm going to discuss facts on the health care restructuring issues here in Ontario.

There is a certain irony to both these resolutions, because they are chastising the government for doing what the previous governments really failed to do. The previous governments recognized the desperate need for hospital restructuring in Ontario but they failed to tackle the problem.

That led to a situation where millions of dollars were wasted every year: millions wasted on administration, on maintenance and on overhead, millions just keeping up empty hospital wards closed by the previous government. In fact, the NDP government closed over 8,700 hospital beds in the province, and the closures of hospital beds really started with the government before that, the Liberals, who closed some 1,200 beds. That is over 10,000 beds closed by the previous two governments, equal to approximately 33 good-sized hospitals, yet all the bricks and mortar are still there, being paid for. What a colossal waste of our health care dollars, to continue paying for the administration, the maintenance and the heat and hydro when this money could have been better spent on front-line patient care.

That is the reason the hospital services restructuring commission was set up in January 1996. It has a mandate to improve the efficiencies of our hospital system, eliminate the waste and help us to put health care dollars back where they are needed the most, in caring for Ontario's sick and injured.

I would like to focus on a particular aspect of the member's resolution today, that is, the part about reinvesting the savings achieved through the restructuring process and reinvesting them back into community health care services.

Over the last year, we have already found some $365 million in savings in our health care system by eliminating redundancy and waste, but at the same time we've reinvested some $683 million in front-line community care services. That's almost double reinvestment of what's actually been saved.

That is because we as a government have a vision for health care: putting patients first. Getting the right care at the right time in the right place is what hospital restructuring is all about.


Our vision incorporates these key issues of access and quality care, because that is what is important to the people of Ontario. They want a health care system that is there when they need it. Making sure it is there when they need it has taken many forms, particularly for rural Ontario. I am fortunate to represent a largely rural riding, Northumberland, and I know how important access to quality health care really is.

To date, we've reinvested some $15 million in providing sessional fees to help recruit and retain physicians. We've done that to ensure that there's adequate emergency room services in small rural and northern communities, and nearly 90% of all eligible hospitals have used this program to support emergency services in rural Ontario.

We have also reinvested more that $15 million in paramedic training to benefit northern and rural communities. This program has now been introduced to a number of base hospitals and will undoubtedly save lives that previously may have been lost. In the medical profession, that is what is referred to as outcome-based medicine, and it means doing what provides the best outcome for patients. Quite simply, all of the advanced medical technology and all of the new instrumentation available at the hospital is of no use if the patient dies before arriving at the hospital. This program will indeed ensure that more patients arrive alive.

But we are not stopping there. Along with that substantial reinvestment in the training of paramedics, we're also adding some 400 defibrillators to ambulance services across this province. We've put $170 million into long-term care and community-based services for seniors, such as nursing care, personal care and physiotherapy. We've put some $23.5 million into community-based mental health care services, and we've put $14.7 million into the northern diabetes health network. We've put $16.7 million into new immunization initiatives aimed at protecting seniors and children with communicable diseases. These are but a few of the examples of the reinvestment that we're making in community-based health care services.

A few minutes ago the member for London Centre commented on the two psychiatric hospitals being closed in London. She omitted to mention the new one that's being created in St Thomas, some 65 beds, and overlooked the 50 extra beds we're creating in Windsor and some 47 extra beds that are being created in Waterloo.

I think it's important --


Mrs Boyd: That's not extra beds.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for London Centre.

I want to caution those in the gallery. There can be no noise from there. I realize you've come a long distance; it would be extremely counterproductive to have me clear the gallery. Please, there's no demonstration and no noise.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): But it's pretty hard to take.

The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, I don't need your help. Thank you very much.

Mr Galt: I applaud the concern the member for Windsor-Sandwich has for providing appropriate and dependable health care services across Ontario, but in drafting her resolution she has failed to recognize the substantial reinvestment this government is making in health care services. There are few in the health care community that would say changes aren't needed. In fact, our dedicated health care providers have led the way to a more efficient system and, as we speak, they are making our health care system better all the time.

But they can't do it alone. They can't address the systemic problems of duplication, redundancy and waste. That takes leadership from the government of the day and, sadly, that leadership was not forthcoming under the two previous governments. That is a shame. But this government is setting out to put things right. We are taking the steps necessary and making reinvestments we need to improve Ontario's health care system and to make it the best health care system in the world. That's an attainable goal and this government is up to the challenge. That is why I cannot support this resolution today.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I'm pleased to rise on the resolution today to address five lines that contain more vision on health care than we've heard from this government in its whole term in office. The whole idea that before indiscriminate cutting of hospital services there would be a plan in place, the services to replace the cuts would be in place before you cut the hospitals, is elementary logic to everyone except the members opposite.

We hear from the members opposite a lot of ministry bafflegab, but the people in their ridings know. They know in Northumberland that the hospital in Cobourg has been cut and they know that cut of $1.1 million means less services. No amount of rhetoric in this House is going to provide those services to those people in those emergency wards. There are fewer nurses, there are fewer procedures taking place, there is less care in health care thanks to the Harris Tories.

The same thing happens in Orillia. The member for Simcoe East will surely be aware that $3.2 million has been cut from that single hospital in his riding; 10% taken away not by a previous government -- these are Harris hospital cuts.

Similarly in Bruce, in Owen Sound, $7.4 million lost irresponsibly, a 15% cut enacted by this government that doesn't have the courage to admit when it's making mistakes. It doesn't have the courage to listen to its own experts.

We revealed this week, for the benefit of the audience out there, a confidential document which shows that the Minister of Health, a year and a half after making $1.3 billion in cuts, had a study group trying to come up with ways to make them. This study group of the best experts he could find came back to him and said, "These cuts can't be done." All the members opposite may or may not be aware that that group said even last year, even this year that's unfolding right now, "Hurt has happened." The ministry's own model said that $130 million of the $365 million in cuts is coming, and there's no way to put this delicately, "out of the hides of patients." You can't do it with clinical efficiencies, you can't do it with administrative efficiencies, you're doing it by hurting patients.

In the seats over there members are sitting, members who are supposed to represent their ridings, the health care and the health and wellbeing of the people who live in their ridings.

We know the member for Lincoln must be aware of the $844,000 cut in Grimsby, an 8% reduction.

The cuts are taking place in Kitchener, where I had the honour to talk to the people from St Mary's who are trying to hold on to their hospital, but that hospital has been cut by 11%, by $4.3 million, and people do not have the replacement.

As we look at what's happening next week here in Metro, we know places like Queensway are going to be faced with the same irresponsible, unplanned cuts. They're looking, as we're looking, for the members opposite to admit their mistakes and to stand behind a resolution like the one we have today.


M. Bisson: Je prends cette occasion pour parler directement à la motion que le député de Windsor amène à l'Assemblée aujourd'hui. C'est vraiment à propos que aujourd'hui, on a ces discussions, parce que justement lundi de cette semaine, la commission de restructuration des hôpitaux à Ottawa est venue avec ses recommandations faisant affaire avec la fermeture des hôpitaux à Ottawa. Et contenu dans toute cette paperasse qu'ils nous ont amenée se trouve la décision de fermer l'hôpital Montfort dans la communauté d'Ottawa. Je veux dire à travers ce débat, dans les minutes que j'ai, que le gouvernement a besoin de vraiment reconsidérer la décision qu'ils vont faire à travers ces recommandations.

Il faut comprendre quelque chose. Le gouvernement essaie de nous faire croire que cette commission est complètement séparée du gouvernement et que le Cabinet, eux, ne savant pas ce qui se passe à l'intérieur de la commission. Moi, je ne crois pas pour une seconde que le gouvernement conservateur n'a pas su avant que la déclaration ait été faite à Ottawa que l'hôpital Montfort et les autres hôpitaux seraient fermés. Ce qui m'inquiète dans toute cette question, c'est comment un gouvernement conservateur dit, une journée, «Nous, les conservateurs, croient non seulement aux services en français dans la province, mais on va promouvoir ces services et on va les améliorer», et, dans l'autre instance, ferment un des seuls hôpitaux francophones dans la province. Ce n'est pas acceptable.

Le gouvernement a besoin de comprendre que l'hôpital Montfort ne dessert pas seulement la communauté francophone d'Ottawa, mais qu'il est très important pour la communauté francophone à travers tout l'Ontario. Par exemple, je veux vous dire, et je dis au ministre de la Santé, au premier ministre et, spécialement, au ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones, qui est tombé endormi dans cette mission, que l'hôpital Montfort dessert toute la province dans beaucoup de manières.

Premièrement, il y a un partenariat entre l'hôpital Montfort et l'Université d'Ottawa quand ça vient à l'entraînement des médecins partout dans la province de l'Ontario. Dans le comté du député de Cochrane-Nord, de mon collègue M. Wood, dans mon comté à Cochrane-Sud, à Nickel Belt, à Timiskaming, à Windsor et autres communautés en Ontario, on a besoin de médecins francophones pour desservir notre population, parce qu'il y a beaucoup d'entre nous qui ne parlent pas l'anglais et qui ne peuvent pas aller chercher les services en anglais.

Où est-ce qu'on entraîne ces médecins-là ? C'est à travers l'Université d'Ottawa, le seul programme dans lequel on entraîne des médecins francophones dans la province, et où font-ils leur stage ? À l'hôpital Montfort.

Le gouvernement doit comprendre que l'hôpital Montfort n'est pas seulement un hôpital qui dessert la communauté d'Ottawa ; il dessert toute la communauté de l'Ontario dans des endroits très importants.

Une autre affaire que le gouvernement a besoin de comprendre, c'est que, quand quelqu'un est malade dans le comté de M. Wood ou dans le comté de moi, M. Bisson, et qu'il a besoin de traitements d'un spécialiste médical, et qu'il a besoin de ces services en français, souvent ces services ne sont pas disponibles dans notre coin par les médecins francophones, particulièrement les spécialistes. Encore, on fait beaucoup de références à l'hôpital Montfort, à travers la province, pour ceux qui ont besoin de services en français quand ça vient à l'accès aux médecins spécialistes.

Je veux dire, dans les secondes qui me restent, que vous aurez une opportunité, dans les 25 jours prochains, à faire une décision, le Cabinet de l'Ontario, ou d'influencer une recommandation à la commission de restructuration des hôpitaux d'Ottawa, de renverser cette décision et de réétudier comment on peut mieux desservir la communauté francophone, et que cela n'inclue pas la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort, et le gouvernement a besoin de renverser sa décision.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I always like Thursday mornings when you can get an opportunity to get up and speak on issues that are very important to the people of this province. This resolution today is one of those:

"That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should stop cutting base funding of hospitals and allow communities to determine how to structure their hospital services and find efficiency savings based on their needs;

"Should ensure that community services are in place before hospitals are closed, since the Health Services Restructuring Commission has begun its work of amalgamating, merging and closing many hospitals across Ontario, in both urban and rural communities;

"Should invest savings achieved through the restructuring process in the community services since the withdrawal of millions of dollars of hospital funding from these same communities is occurring without the commitment to reinvest these dollars into community services in that community;

"Should ensure that hospital funding must be equitable and based on a formula that reflects demographic and regional needs; and

"Should ensure that health services, including emergency and urgent care services, are available to all Ontarians."

The resolution is well put together, and first I would like to thank the member for Windsor-Sandwich for the careful and thoughtful planning that went into this resolution. She's obviously capitalizing on the fears of those in the community who have not yet grasped the whole picture of how this government is reshaping hospital services to best suit the needs of individual communities.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Ask Bill Murdoch about the fear and worry in his riding.

Mr McLean: The changes are being made. The government is shifting dollars from the hospital sector to community-based care. It is the word "change" that creates uncertainty. It is the word "change" that allows fears to be used as a tool when it's applied to something as important as health care.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Cochrane North, I'm warning you to come to order. Members for Cochrane South, Windsor-Sandwich and Hamilton East, I want to give you fair notice that I've warned you to maintain control and stop heckling the member. Member for Simcoe East.

Mr McLean: Thank you, Mr Speaker. This province can no longer afford the present system of health care. New technologies make our outdated ideas of health care standards obsolete. Procedures which once required several days in hospital can now be completed in day surgery. For some time now, hospitals have not needed the same number of patient rooms that were needed 15 years ago. Technology has allowed departments to be established which can be shared by several hospitals or communities, and the Ontario Hospital Association has stated publicly they share the government's quest to make Ontario hospitals more efficient.

The vision we all have for health care in the province is putting patients first. Restructuring will create better management, more coordination and effective hospitals. In many areas, the communities are already involved in making the changes. Hospital boards have been amalgamated and hospitals themselves have shifted their services. For example, in my riding the district health council and the boards of directors of the Huronia District Hospital in Midland and the Penetanguishene General Hospital have successfully shifted the focus and restructured their services to better care for their communities.

This community recognized the need to restructure in 1992 and began plotting a new course at that time. The decision to form the North Simcoe Hospital Alliance was defined as follows: "The purpose of the North Simcoe Hospital Alliance is to develop a mechanism by which the two institutions will be able to plan to maximize the use of existing and new health care resources available to the area and to provide the best quality of hospital care to the residents of north Simcoe."

The news release at the time indicated the two hospitals will see health programs concentrated on long-term care and rehabilitation, together with primary care and outpatient clinics. One hospital has mainly chronic care, the other has acute care; one administration. That's what's going to happen across Ontario. Some amalgamations will take place and therefore we'll save a large amount of dollars.

The government has a fundamental commitment not to let the health care funding fall below $17.4 billion. In actual fact it is currently $17.7 billion. For the member for York South to indicate that $3.2 million -- over how many years was he talking about the $3.2 million that was being taken out of the funding going to the Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital? I want to see that hospital maintained in its capacity to serve the community at large.

We have also what we call the community care service centres that are being established. We have one now that is proposed for Simcoe county. We now have people appointed to that board. We have Bob Morton, the past administrator of the home for the aged in Midland, who is now the CEO of this new community care centre. Bob, with his past experience, is an excellent choice, and I'm sure he will work with the district health councils.

When the member talks in her resolution with regard to communities to determine how restructuring the hospitals takes place, is that going to be with the community care people? Is it going to be with the district health council? We want to see that happen. We want to see the people in the community involved, and we want to see the hospitals maintained.

As far as I'm concerned, in rural and small town Ontario there will be some amalgamations. I do not anticipate that the hospitals will be closed down. There may be some, but very, very few. They will be used for chronic care and they will be used for acute care. Overall, I think the plan that these community care access centres have will work.

We have people in the county of Simcoe from Perkinsfield, Tottenham, Barrie, Elmvale, Penetanguishene, Orillia, Beeton. These people are all appointed to that community care centre. These are the people I hope she's referring to in her resolution who will have input into the community, through these people. That will make the hospital work more efficiently and it will help the government to be able to direct where they feel is the most important area for their costs to go to.

When we have the district health council in Grey-Bruce determining that hospitals should close, I think that's wrong. I think it's the commission's job. They were established to do it, and I'm sure that when the time comes --

The Speaker: I thank the member. Further debate?


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I want to begin by congratulating my colleague from Windsor-Sandwich, who, as always, is representing the interests of her constituents in a strong and forthright manner.

I want to address the government on the whole question of hospitals and health care. You are cutting health care. You are cutting hospitals and you are not putting in place services to replace them. You are doing a disservice not only to this province but to your constituents by not recognizing the fact that there are not proper community-based services in place and that our hospital resources are taxed well beyond any reasonable limit as it is.

Thousands of nurses will lose their jobs. Thousands of health care workers will lose their jobs. Hospitals will close indeed, but there will not be new services put in place to help deal with the fallout.

Let's take Windsor, for example. You have cut the Sandwich Community Health Centre at the same time you're eliminating emergency service in the west end of Windsor. That is an absolute shame. Your original proposal, the document that our community agreed to -- and I say to the Tory members who are looking at reconfiguration in their communities, when the minister and the government tells you they will invest, don't believe them. Our document said "two centres of excellence." We're left with two hospitals that are barely able to cope and no emergency services in the west end of the city of Windsor. Our document said we'd get an MRI machine before any of this happens; we don't have it in place yet, although the functional plan is moving on. Our document talked about better use of resources, but it certainly didn't contemplate long-term-care dollars being downloaded to municipalities and on to the property tax base.

To the members of the government, I say this: Stand up for your constituents today; stand up for a universal, accessible, affordable health care system. You voted down previous private members' bills to protect Ontario's interests in the Canada Health Act, to continue to have the kind of health care we deserve.

That's not to say the system is perfect, but it is to say it's better than the alternative, and it is to say that your alternative is indeed no alternative; it's an alternative that eliminates services and leaves people dangerously exposed, people like my constituent who has had to hire a private nurse at night because her son, who was injured in a car accident -- they can't trust the hospital. They're afraid to leave him alone at night because they can't get a nurse.

The members opposite will find this out: They're not restructuring health care; they're cutting money out of the system for your tax cut. The people in your ridings will realize that when they go into emergency rooms. They will realize that when they try to access health care throughout.

I applaud my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich. I'm proud to stand with her. I'm proud to vote against you. The people in my community and the people across this province know what your agenda is. Your agenda is to undermine publicly affordable, accessible health care. You ought to be ashamed and you ought to start dealing with the real issues.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich for this excellent resolution. If you read what the resolution says carefully, it really outlines what you promised to do in the Common Sense Revolution; it really outlines what you promised to do from day one. It talks about ensuring that there's a plan in place for reinvestment of those dollars you take out of hospital care into community based care. The reality is, though, it has not happened. What we have seen has been cut after cut across this province. We have seen the steamrolling, appointed, lackey commission of this government go across Ontario and blindly close hospitals without giving a damn about people, without caring how it affects people's lives. That's all we have seen to date.

In two years $57 million has been cut out of hospital care in my own community, in Hamilton-Wentworth. Two weeks ago, $8.5 million was cut out of community care, out of seniors' residences, Macassa Lodge. Where are the reinvestments? I challenge members of this government to show me where the $64 million or $65 million reinvestment in Hamilton-Wentworth has been. It is a fraud; it is a hoax.

This government is continuing day after day to create a crisis in health care. They're doing it simply to satisfy one goal, and that is that promise of the 30% tax cut to their rich friends. You have a greater concern in delivering that tax cut to your corporate friends than you do in quality health care across this province.

People across the floor have spoken and said how well this is working. We saw examples the other day where people have died in hospital waiting rooms. People have died in emergency waiting rooms because there was no one there to take care of them. I had a constituent who died two hours after she was released from an emergency room because they were overcrowded and she could not be looked after. She was sent home and died of a heart attack. That is the reality of Mike Harris's Ontario; that is the reality of your health care cuts.

You can run around, you can try to fool people, you can spend millions and millions on television ads, you can put Mike Harris in hockey arenas, tell us how wonderful the province is, but you're going to pay one hell of a price for your health care cuts. People in Ontario may forgive you for cutting welfare benefits, although it is wrong. People in Ontario may forgive you for gutting their education system, although it is wrong. But I can tell you that people in Ontario are not going to forgive and forget what you have done to the health care system.

I would ask the Tory members, don't vote the Tory line. Forget the hacks and the whips in the Premier's office. Vote your conscience. Vote your constituents on this resolution. Think of the people in your riding who need hospital care. Think of the senior citizens. Think of someone who has a child at 3 o'clock in the morning and needs an emergency room to take that child to because the child is sick. Think of those folks when you vote on this resolution.

I can tell you, come the next election, in your own riding you're going to have to defend this. When you knock on a door and you explain to someone why they went to an emergency room at 3 o'clock in the morning with their child and it was closed, Mike Harris is not going to be there to prop you up. The hacks and flunkies in the Premier's office are not going to be there to give you the speaking notes. You're going to have to look those folks straight in the eye and tell them why you have done this to the health care system.

Your cuts to health care are going to bring you down. Your cuts to health care are going to destroy your government. Your cuts to health care are going to be the end of the Comic Book Revolution come the next election.


The Speaker: I just want to say to those in the gallery that you're welcome here but you can't clap, you can't speak, you can't make any demonstrations. If you do, the guard will come down to escort you out. I'd appreciate it, and I'm sure you would, if you didn't participate in that fashion and there will be no trouble. Thank you.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Only we are allowed to make noise.

The Speaker: Yes, that's absolutely true.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I want to first of all commend the member for Windsor-Sandwich for bringing forward this very timely resolution, and for once again placing before the Legislative Assembly the important issue of hospital closings and the deterioration of health care in this province.

In the Niagara region we have been confronted with a cut of some $44 million still to come in our hospital funding. We've already had substantial cuts in hospital funding which have caused hospitals to lay off nurses and other individuals who work in those hospitals and who play a very significant role. This is simply unacceptable.

If you talk to the people of this province, they will tell you that their highest priority is health care in this province. I think that crosses gender, that crosses economic background, that crosses social background. This is exceedingly important to the people of this province.

We have under the gun at the present time the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby, which is providing an excellent service to the people in that area. We have the Port Colborne General Hospital, the Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, the Niagara-on-the-Lake General Hospital and the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines, all under the gun.

Now, the local restructuring commission -- or as I call it "hospital closing commission" -- in our area has been dealt a card which says that they must take into account a $44-million cut still to come in hospital funding. What we need in Niagara instead is a $25-million increase in funding, because if you compare us to other parts of the province we are underfunded.

People who go to hospitals today know they cannot get the same level of service they used to get. Not because the hospital staff is not dedicated, they're extremely dedicated, but they're totally overworked. Hospitals aren't as clean as they used to be. The kind of service that is provided is now only available if one has a friend or a family member there. So we've seen that deterioration of service.

We in the Niagara region have an older-than-average population, and as people become more elderly they naturally require more acute care and chronic care in our hospitals. What the province should be doing is adding on to the services that are available in the Niagara region and in other parts of the province, not subtracting from that.

I well recall on May 18, 1995, that Robert Fisher of Global TV, on a panel during the leaders' debate during the election, asked the then leader of the Conservative Party, Mike Harris if he planned to close hospitals. His answer was, "Certainly I can guarantee you, Robert, it is not my plan to close hospitals." Well, there are people all over this province who know now that the Premier is not keeping that promise.

I hear the government members say, from time to time, that they keep all their promises: "One thing you can say about the Conservatives is they kept their promises." This is one of the long list of promises to the people of this province that have been broken. I think you're going to find out, as you go from community to community closing hospitals, no matter where they happen to be, that people are going to be revolting against this, as you cut health care so you can feed that silly tax scheme you have that is going to provide the richest and most privileged people in our society with huge amounts of money back from that tax cut, while you allow our services in this province, and most acutely health care services, to deteriorate significantly. I think that's totally unacceptable and the people of this province are beginning to tell that to you.

I now see some signs that the Minister of Health may be in retreat. That is mildly encouraging, but what we have to see is a complete rethinking of these closings on the part of the government. The people in Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Grimsby, St Catharines, and over the Niagara region, will simply not accept the Premier breaking his solemn promise not to close hospitals.

We want our hospitals, we want good health care in the Niagara region and the rest of the province. It's up to this government to do so and I'm glad the member for Windsor-Sandwich had the intestinal fortitude to bring this forward. I hope the government supports it.

Mrs Pupatello: First, I want to thank the people who decided to come down today to Queen's Park to watch, to listen to what we have to say about health care in Ontario. There are people here from Grimsby, from Kitchener, from Queensway hospital, Bill and Ruth, who have been long-time advocates of Queensway. I want to thank the people who got up at 4 o'clock this morning to get on a bus at the Caboto Club at 5:30 in the morning to drive up the 401 so they could come here and listen and wonder which one of us is telling the truth. How many people here honestly believe that all these stories, all the services we are not getting, are not true? That's what I want to know.

Why do I get letters from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary wishing they could be here today and advocating, thankfully moving it to a level I have yet to reach because they are praying for us too?

Members, today is the time you do not have to be political and support your political party. Today is the day you can support a resolution that will guarantee good-quality health care in Ontario.

Let me remind the members of this House that the ridings which have representatives from Sarnia, Simcoe East, Bill Murdoch, Halton North, Rainy River, Niagara South, Guelph, Brampton North, Niagara, London North, all of these ridings have submitted petitions to their MPPs to be read in this House in support of this resolution.

Today is the day you have to do that for your residents at home, because we will continue to fight, whether it's today or whether it's tomorrow. We deserve good-quality health care and we are going to get it.

The Speaker: I know all the ridings, but I don't know the one named "Bill Murdoch."


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Private member's notice of motion number 41, standing in the name of Mr Doyle: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Private member's notice of motion number 42, standing in the name of Mrs Pupatello: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. It's a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1205 to 1210.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): All those in favour of private member's notice of motion number 41, please rise and remain standing to be recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Grimmett, Bill

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Guzzo, Garry J.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Sheehan, Frank

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, W. Leo

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Spina, Joseph

Elliott, Brenda

Martiniuk, Gerry

Sterling, Norman W.

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

McLean, Allan K.

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Munro, Julia

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Murdoch, Bill

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Newman, Dan


Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John


The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise and remain standing to be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Gerretsen, John

Miclash, Frank

Bartolucci, Rick

Grandmaître, Bernard

Morin, Gilles

Bisson, Gilles

Kennedy, Gerard

Patten, Richard

Boyd, Marion

Kormos, Peter

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Kwinter, Monte

Sergio, Mario

Castrilli, Annamarie

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Lankin, Frances

Wildman, Bud

Cordiano, Joseph

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

Crozier, Bruce

Martin, Tony


Duncan, Dwight

McLeod, Lyn


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 40; the nays are 28.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): All those in favour of private member's notice of motion number 42, please rise and remain standing and be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Kennedy, Gerard

Morin, Gilles E.

Bartolucci, Rick

Kormos, Peter

Murdoch, Bill

Bisson, Gilles

Kwinter, Monte

Patten, Richard

Boyd, Marion

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Lankin, Frances

Sergio, Mario

Castrilli, Annamarie

Leadston, Gary L.

Silipo, Tony

Conway, Sean G.

Martel, Shelley

Vankoughnet, Bill

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Crozier, Bruce

Martiniuk, Gerry

Wildman, Bud

Duncan, Dwight

McLean, Allan K.

Wood, Len

Gerretsen, John

McLeod, Lyn


Grandmaître, Bernard

Miclash, Frank


The Speaker: Those opposed, please rise and remain standing to be recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Galt, Doug

Parker, John L.

Bassett, Isabel

Gilchrist, Steve

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Beaubien, Marcel

Grimmett, Bill

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Guzzo, Garry J.

Sheehan, Frank

Chudleigh, Ted

Hastings, John

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Bert

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Jordan, W. Leo

Spina, Joseph

Elliott, Brenda

Kells, Morley

Sterling, Norman W.

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Wood, Bob

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan


Froese, Tom

O'Toole, John


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 34; the nays are 34.

The Speaker: The ayes are 34; the nays are 34. I have to vote and I will vote in favour of the resolution.

This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1216 to 1330.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): The Minister of Health must let the people of Sudbury and northeastern Ontario know what his reinvestment plan is for our community.

There are currently over 227 heart patients waiting for surgery in northern Ontario. The equipment and the world-class staff already exist at the Sudbury Memorial Hospital, which you plan to close. I recommended to you last October that this site would be an excellent world-class heart and thoracic institute. You have a responsibility to the heart patients.

Will you ensure that you commit funding to Sudbury's YMCA Centre for Life, a community project that promotes prevention as a way of curbing costs? When will you make that announcement?

I encouraged you last October as well. You also have a responsibility to the cancer patients of northern Ontario. Will you commit funding to the northern Ontario community cancer care program? You have been aware of this program for a year and a half.

Finally, as I've said in the House before and I will continue to say, the system you are recommending for Sudbury is too small. It doesn't have enough beds. It doesn't have enough reinvestment dollars. We want to know how many dollars you are going to reinvest in Sudbury. We want to know when you are going to fund these projects that the Liberals have been telling you to fund for a year and a half now. Act now.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Last week I rose and asked the Minister of Health about the plight of St Peter's chronic care hospital in my riding. There's a hospital that has a south wing that has deplorable conditions, a 70-year-old wing with 80 beds. Our government, the NDP government, had approved the replacement of those 80 beds. This government had agreed with that plan, allowed the first phase to take place, which was the excavation of the land, and indeed paid 50% of the cost of that. Now, on January 28, the hospital was informed that they have to stop all construction, halt immediately and wait for the commission.

In addition to putting the patients in jeopardy, given the condition of this building and the fact that it doesn't meet any building code or fire code standards as they now exist, the fire department allowed things to continue knowing that the funding was going to flow to build that new wing. Then, when they stopped it, we not only have the worry of the patients and the staff in this unsafe building but there's now a 20-foot hole in the ground the size of a football field that is jeopardizing the neighbourhood children.

Our community and St Peter's Hospital cannot wait until the commission finishes its work. That could take months, it could take a year. You're putting too many patients at risk, too many of the staff at risk and too many of the children. I say to the minister, if somebody gets hurt in that hole that you've allowed to be dug in the ground, are you going to take responsibility?


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I rise to recognize the fine efforts of the Cobourg Economic Development Commission. The economic development office works to foster growth, prosperity and employment opportunities for the people of Cobourg. As a result of their hard work and dedication, I'm able to share the following successes with the House today.

I'm honoured to report that the latest employment statistics issued show that the town of Cobourg has regained all of the over 900 manufacturing jobs that were lost in 1991-92 because of the recession. This is a huge accomplishment which indicates that they are set on the path to prosperity.

Congratulations to the town of Cobourg for its recent successes at the Ontario Marketing Awards competition held by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. As another indication of its efforts, Cobourg received five awards for excellence in the economic development marketing material division.

Cindy Symons-Milroy, director of the Cobourg Economic Development Commission, in its recent press release, stated, "This town has a lot to offer prospective employers, including a first-class workforce, superb quality of life and a host of recreational and cultural amenities." I cannot agree more with Ms Symons-Milroy, and I encourage all members present today to visit this community and see first hand the successes it has achieved.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My statement today is directed to the Premier. This past Monday more than 150 residents attended a town hall meeting in Dryden. The meeting was called to discuss the unprecedented downloading your government has imposed upon local taxpayers throughout the province. To say the least, local residents in Dryden and throughout northwestern Ontario are concerned and disturbed with what they are witnessing from this government.

Dryden residents were told by the town treasurer that the Harris dumping of provincial responsibility will result in a 75% increase in residential taxes. We also heard from the director of the local hospital, who told the gathering that if he is forced to make any more cuts to his budget, his hospital could potentially become a first aid station.

This government promised during the last election that if elected, "We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any actions taken will not result in increases to local property taxes." Now that municipalities and hospitals throughout the province have demonstrated that they are unable to handle your dumping policy and your cuts, you have decided to ignore their cries for help.

Premier, you also stated in the revolutionary document that you would "sit down with municipalities to discuss ways of reducing government entanglement." You also stated that you wanted to stop "unfair downloading." You have not done any of these things and the people of northwestern Ontario deserve better.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Chief Justice McMurtry and Chief Justice LeSage have been consistent in warning this government that a shortage of funds is backlogging both the civil and criminal justice systems. We see Askov rearing its ugly head again as serious charges are thrown out of court as a result of lengthy delays that are a result of this government's mismanagement of our courts and this Attorney General's very specific mismanagement of his ministry.

How does the Ministry of the Attorney General respond to these comments by two esteemed jurists in this province? I'll tell you what the ministry said about them: "All they have to do is burp, fart or belch and it's on the front page. I think they believe they are trying to help, but they're not." What does the Ministry of the Attorney General have to say about these two esteemed jurists? "I have three words for what the chief justices are doing: out of touch."

That's simply not the case. Charlie Harnick, the Attorney General, is out of touch. He mismanaged the family support plan and left thousands of women and their children penniless while he bungled and fumbled what had been operative and working until he shut down eight regional offices and dismissed almost 300 staff people.

He's mismanaged our court systems, inviting more and more serious charges to be tossed out because he as Attorney General has displayed nothing but incompetence, and now he displays disdain for the messengers. I suppose it's a good thing that justices McMurtry and LeSage are judges, otherwise --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much, Member.



Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I rise in the House today in what has been a historic week in the province of Ontario. The government-appointed Health Services Restructuring Commission has announced a bold new plan for hospitals in three cities. We're now finally seeing some real change in the way health services are delivered rather than simply talking about it, as previous governments did.

Ontario spends more per person on health care than almost any other jurisdiction in the world. That money has not always been spent wisely. Hospitals must be, and are, at the forefront of the changes currently being made. Between 1989 and 1995, 8,700 acute care beds were closed without a single building being shut down. We continue to support the administration and overhead costs of these vacated areas.

With this week's announcements, we're embarking on the final road towards a more efficient system, putting patients first. We're embarking on a system to reinvest savings back into the health care the community needs.

Change is difficult to accept. The district health councils and community care agency committees have to work together to make some recommendations to the restructuring committee to make these changes take place. We all know we need more health care in the communities. We need more nursing homes. We need more homes for the aged.

Reinvestment has taken place in several medical areas, such as the Ontario breast screening program, kidney dialysis and cancer treatment. These are necessary decisions. Restructuring is necessary. We've got to make the tough choices for Ontarians.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Here's a quick quiz for the members of the House. Who said, "What really disturbs me is the fact that there has been literally no consultation. We've been excluded from the whole battle, and that raises some serious questions about the credibility of the results," and what was that person referring to?

You'd be correct if you answered the Honourable Bob Runciman, Solicitor General, commenting on the government's process used to close the Brockville Psychiatric Centre. You see, even members of Mike Harris's own cabinet admit that the process, the approach being used to restructure the province's hospital sector, is seriously and fatally flawed.

We saw more evidence of that this morning when members of the government voted in support of the member for Windsor-Sandwich's private member's resolution urging the government to reconsider what it is doing in the hospital sector.

Ontarians have lost confidence in the restructuring process and in this government. They fear the lack of local consultation. They grow ever more worried as evidence comes in that hospitals are being closed before community-based services are in place and that it's hurting patients. Daily we're hearing horror stories of sick people in hospitals being neglected because nurses have been laid off due to the budget cuts.

During the 1995 election debate, Mike Harris told voters: "I guarantee that it's not my plan to close hospitals. I don't see services being diminished." Those words have come back to haunt the Premier.

We in the Liberal Party think the government is being reckless and is hurting the people of Ontario on a daily basis. This is not good-quality --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): You will know that the government last week made an announcement about charitable casinos. When you think of a charitable casino, you might think of those neighbourhood Monte Carlo nights that take place for a night or two in your local banquet hall, a few card games and a roulette wheel. Let me tell you, that's not what this government is talking about. They are talking about permanent casinos that can be open up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with 40 gaming tables and 150 video slot machines. These are not replacing those neighbourhood Monte Carlo nights.

Let me tell you that in the election this government promised a referendum for communities before they would put a casino in. They've now said that promise doesn't apply to these casinos. The Premier has even gone so far as to say he doesn't care if municipalities have voted no or put zoning bylaws in to prohibit them; he's going to force them in. In his announcement he even said what communities they were going to put them in.

One of those communities is the Beaches in Toronto, the community I represent, a community in which the people, the citizens, have been very clear, for two to three years now in planning discussions over Greenwood lands, that we want nothing to do with a casino in the Beaches in Toronto.

You'd better listen, Mr Premier. You'd better put a process in place that respects the wishes of citizens. The wish of Beaches-Woodbine residents is that we want no casino.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): Yesterday in London, England, Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a statue in honour of a great hero of the Holocaust, Raoul Wallenberg. A Swedish diplomat stationed in Hungary during the Second World War, Mr Wallenberg used every resource at his disposal to save the lives of over 100,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. He placed people in safe houses flying the neutral Swedish flag. He produced phoney passports and even personally snatched Jews already on their way to death camps.

Yvonne Singer, a Canadian now living in Toronto, was born in Hungary during the war, in Raoul Wallenberg's office. Mr Wallenberg then became her godfather. Yvonne Singer has worked together with many others to secure information about what happened to Mr Wallenberg after he was arrested and interned by the invading Soviets in 1945.

The unveiling ceremony is also intended as a united voice from around the world, which includes that of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is married to Wallenberg's niece, and that of the government of Israel, to ask Russia once again to bring closure to the case of one of the great heroes of the 20th century.

On behalf of all members, I too join in this special tribute to Canada's only honorary citizen, Raoul Wallenberg.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. You've been asked to listen to the people of Metro when they vote on megacity, but you said you wouldn't. Why? Because the question wasn't scientific. Your precise answer was that it wasn't the kind of question that Angus Reid or Environics would ask.

Well, Environics did ask a real question, a scientific question, and they didn't ask any dead people or dogs, just real people. Here's what they found: The people of Metro don't want your megacity. Even your own cabinet colleagues the Attorney General and the chief government whip are having second thoughts. They're trying to soften their positions by suggesting that local councils will stay intact, that there won't be any real difference.

Your own secret polls are showing you that the plans for a megacity are going to be in big trouble come Monday. Will you admit once and for all --

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

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): When people are dealing only with the issue of amalgamation, the support for a single city is very strong. What is happening is that there are small percentages of the population who are concerned about other issues who have decided to park a vote in the referendum process to show their concerns about other issues. When you put all those groups together, it'll probably be a sizeable No vote. But my view is that if they were asked to vote on each of those issues individually, there would be strong support for every one of them.

Mr Cordiano: At the end of the day, the people are saying and suggesting to you through public hearings and meetings all over the place around Metro that they don't want a megacity. You won't listen to the people and you won't listen to the experts.

Anne Golden warned you that your megacity will start Metro "on a downward spiral to an American-style urban nightmare." Wendell Cox, another expert, warned that when you move government away from the people, it's a big mistake. He said that's what happened to US cities; that's the road they took and that's what ended up happening.

Why are you taking us down the road to an American-style city? Will you now recognize that you have to withdraw your legislation, that it's a mistake? Will you be prepared to withdraw the megacity bill?

Hon Mr Leach: I can tell you that we agree with Dr Golden when she says that despite our many strengths and advantages, we've reached the point where the status quo is no longer an option. Everybody who has reviewed any of the issues in Metro and the GTA agrees that the status quo is not an option, and we agree with that. We know our proposal to create a strong central core in the GTA by creating a single city in Metropolitan Toronto is in the best interests of not only the people of Toronto but the people of the GTA, the people of Ontario and the people of Canada. We recognize that Toronto is the economic engine of all of Canada, and this government is going to ensure that we have a strong core government to make sure that economy remains strong.


Mr Cordiano: Last December I asked you, "Will you allow the people of Metro...a say in how they're going to be governed?" You stood up in this very House and said: "Let me think about that for a minute. No." The people of Toronto say that's not good enough. That kind of arrogance is nothing short of a dictatorial approach to governing and the people of Metro won't stand for that. They've thought about your megacity for much more than a minute and they say no. They've thought about your raising property taxes for much more than a minute and they say no. They've thought about your closing hospitals for much more than a minute and they say no.

I will respect the will of the people. If they vote yes on Monday night, I'll support their wishes. Will you support their wishes if the people of Metro vote no on Monday night, and then withdraw the legislation?

Hon Mr Leach: I want to correct the record because when the member indicated that I said, in his quote, "Let me think about that for a minute. No," I was referring to and answering his question whether I would support the member's private member's bill. Let's make that very clear. That was not made in reference to whether we would listen to the people of Metropolitan Toronto on this issue because we are listening to the people on this issue. There have been public hearings going on in this building for the last month. There have been town hall meetings held on a regular basis. I have attended many of those hearings. At the last committee hearing I sat in on, seven out of 10 deputants supported going to a single city, so to say everybody is against this process is absolutely wrong.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. As the minister is well aware by now, two hours ago we had a revolution in this House. This House passed a resolution that tells the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health and Premier Mike Harris to "stop cutting base funding of hospitals"; that community services must be in place; that "health services, including emergency and urgent...services," must be available to all Ontarians.

Minister, my question for you is on behalf of the 100 people who woke up at 4 o'clock this morning to be in this House to watch a majority of the members of this House pass this resolution. My question is simply this: What are you going to be doing about this?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I certainly appreciate the question from the honourable member. I had prior discussions, and discussions since the resolution was debated, with some of our members and they voted for the resolution because we agree on many of the points contained in there.

Yes, we agree, as the resolution says, that we need to restructure the hospital system and find efficiencies and savings based on the needs of those hospitals and then reinvest in community services. Of course we agree on that; that's the policy of the government and it's the work the commission is doing.

That we should allow local communities to come up with their own solutions: Yes, that's exactly why your government and the previous government spent $26.6 million on 60 district health council studies to ensure that local communities like Windsor-Essex determined their own future with respect to the reconfiguration of hospital systems and that they would ensure there was as much local input as possible.

I agree with much of what is contained in the honourable member's resolution.

Mrs Pupatello: The resolution is very clear. The resolution says "stop cutting base funding of hospitals." The resolution says to reinvest money into those communities where you are cutting. The resolution clearly speaks to not being able to cut hospital budgets while you are busy doing all this amalgamating and merging.

This is not district health, this is not some commission of hospital closures; this is you, Minister, your health policy. The majority of the members in this House today tell you that your policy is wrong. Please tell the people across Ontario, who watched with avid interest how their members voted this morning, what you will do to stop the cuts to hospitals.

Hon Jim Wilson: I'll continue to quote the resolution: We "should ensure that hospitals must be equitable and based on a formula that reflects demographic and regional needs." Too bad your party didn't think of that 10 years ago when you were in office, because the fact of the matter is for the first time in the history of the province we have a joint committee, the JPPC, which is the ministry and the hospital association --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Did you start that? Is the JPPC yours?

Hon Mr Wilson: No, but for the first time the JPPC came out with a funding formula, beginning last fiscal year, to ensure that rather than simply dealing with hospitals based on what they used to get in the past, it actually went around the province and found out what the needs are of the various communities and we have very much a needs-based budgeting formula now, so I agree with that.

The honourable member calls upon community reinvestments and, as all members know, this government has invested far more money in new community services, new dollars in community services, $170 million into new nurses for home care and homemaking services, unprecedented levels of reinvestment, far more than anything we've seen in hospital savings to date.

Mrs Pupatello: Here are 4,000 more names on a petition from Windsor alone. Ridings of London North, Niagara, Brampton North, Guelph, Niagara South, right across Ontario have sent petitions in to you supporting this resolution this morning, but more important, the representatives in this House, the majority of the members, voted in favour of the entire resolution. That is a revolution. That shows that there is not a confidence in your current health policy.

Let me be clear with a very simple example. The emergency services on the west side of Essex county are scheduled to close as of April 18. You have not reinvested for emergency services in the balance of the county but that emergency room is still going to be closed. We need to have the answer. We need you to support this resolution.

Hon Mr Wilson: This is the Win-Win report, which is the restructuring report that was done by the previous government, and we provided tens of millions of dollars when we came to office to ensure that this report, which is Windsor's own restructuring -- no commission; Windsor's own restructuring: Win-Win. Your constituents named this report Win-Win, and it is a win-win because you should be proud of your constituents.

Mrs Pupatello: You haven't met your obligation for Windsor.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Windsor-Sandwich, I'm warning you to come to order.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): She's right.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, this isn't a debate with the Speaker. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: You should be proud of your constituents for coming up and leading the way in hospital restructuring long before anybody ever heard of the Health Services Restructuring Commission.

Specific to the member's question, the deputy minister met with the officials on February 6 with respect to the closing of that particular emergency department. The members of your hospital, the western side, have been told they cannot close that emergency until the new services are in place at the Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital and the Metropolitan site. That is the policy of the government, and I know the local people are eager to follow that policy.

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


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): To the Minister of Health as well: On Tuesday and yesterday the Minister of Health admitted that he made a mistake with respect to cardiac surgery and the cap on cardiac surgery. He acknowledged that there is a growing list of 1,600 people across this province awaiting heart surgery, so he said he was going to remove the cap and designate a little more money for that heart surgery.

Minister, I'm here to tell you that physicians and nurses across the province say that you're only dealing with a small part of the problem. In addition to more money needed for cardiac surgery, there aren't enough nurses in many of the hospitals to provide the supports that are needed, the diagnostic equipment can't be staffed because of your hospital cuts and, frankly, the beds aren't there to handle the patients after the surgery has been done because of your hospital budget cuts.

What people want to know is, are you going to put back money into hospital budgets so that the real problem can be dealt with?

Hon Mr Wilson: Last year the government made a tremendous reinvestment, an ongoing reinvestment, of $16 million into the system. That would have given us, and did give us, an increase of almost 20%. In fact, it was 20%, because the surgeons were actually able to do, because they're so efficient nowadays, more surgeries than we had counted on.

However, the population is growing faster and getting older and needing heart surgery more than anybody predicted. When that came to our attention, we phoned around to the hospitals. There are 277 patients who need care right away in the north, and we've flowed those dollars. I'll be meeting, as the previous minister did on February 12, on Monday with the Cardiac Care Network. As is our commitment, we would like to, together with our partners, the Cardiac Care Network and doctors in the province, come up with a comprehensive plan, from prevention through to intervention surgery and recovery and rehabilitation, a comprehensive --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a supplementary with regard to the Minister of Health's tendency to make policy decisions on the back of an envelope.

Yesterday the minister said he would slow down the restructuring of rural hospitals in the province, as we suggested in this House to his predecessor on December 17. The minister's cuts have been bleeding hospitals before they have a chance to make the savings that could make it possible to ensure services.

Could the minister explain the effects of his announcement with regard to slowing down the process for rural hospitals: what effect that has on the two hospitals in my riding that I've raised in this House, the Matthews Memorial Hospital in Richards Landing that's had all of its inpatient beds cut and closed, and the Thessalon community hospital that has had substantial cuts as well? What are the effects on those two hospitals?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're not slowing down the process at all. There are many district health councils out there that are currently developing plans. A particular concern has been raised by many members with these very small, single-hospital towns. We need to ensure that the benchmarks that are being applied by the commission and others in the large urban areas are adjusted to make sure we and the commission take into account the great distances and the weather conditions and other circumstances that are particular to rural Ontario.

I met with the hospital association this morning. They too have expressed those concerns. I've indicated my concerns to the commission. It's not slowing anything down; it's just making sure that the district health councils and those volunteers know what the rules are as they continue in their studies, because we have different benchmarks being used in different rural areas. There's been a request from district health councils to ensure they're all singing from the same hymn book.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Ma supplémentaire au ministre de la Santé : Vous ne trouvez pas que vos politiques sont un peu broche à foin ? Vous ne comprenez pas qu'il y a des implications à long terme faisant affaire avec vos décisions.

Par exemple, l'hôpital Montfort : Il faut que vous compreniez que l'hôpital Montfort représente un hôpital de formation pour les médecins francophones, utilisé par l'Université d'Ottawa. Si vous fermez cet hôpital, les coûts que vous avez faits aux francophones ne seront pas ressentis seulement aujourd'hui, mais seront ressentis à long terme. C'est déjà assez difficile de trouver des médecins francophones, particulièrement dans des régions sous-soignées comme nous dans le nord de l'Ontario.

Monsieur le Ministre, faites-nous une faveur. On veut que vous aidiez à renverser la décision pour la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort pour éviter une situation où nous les francophones prenons l'arrière faisant affaire avec les services de soins de santé dans la province, comme vous voulez qu'on fasse.

Hon Mr Wilson: If I may, with respect to Thessalon hospital and the other hospital mentioned by the previous questioner, we actually sent back those operating plans to ensure that 24-hour care was maintained. That was not the plan of the hospital. So the fact of the matter is, I think we've seen some improvement in services there.

With respect to Montfort Hospital, I've answered several times this week that it isn't buildings that provide French-language services; it is the people. Many of those doctors, for example, currently working at the Montfort Hospital will receive privileges at the other hospitals to ensure they continue to look after the patients and provide the French-language services that are very much needed in the Ottawa-Carleton area. In addition to that, a number of the institutions, like the General, parts of the heart institute there, the Royal Ottawa Psych, are already designated under the law to provide those services. In fact, there's an opportunity here to ensure that there's an improvement of French- language --

The Speaker: Thank you very much.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question also to the Minister of Health, and this concerns psychiatric hospitals. Yesterday your hospital closing commission announced that St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital and London Psychiatric Hospital will close. On Monday you announced that Brockville Psychiatric Hospital will close. Last summer you announced that Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital will close. There's a pattern developing. One would start to believe that perhaps the Queen Street and Whitby psychiatric hospitals will also close.

In each of these locations, you've refused to make a commitment to the necessary reinvestments to ensure you are not simply throwing psychiatric patients out in the street. We've asked you again and again to make that commitment but you refuse, so let me ask again today. When will you let the psychiatric patients, their families and their caregivers know what is going to happen to them? When will you announce the community reinvestment supports for psychiatric patients?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): When the honourable member's party was the government through the five years they were in office, they spent no new dollars on mental health. They cut tens of millions of dollars from mental health. We came along and we got the community investment fund up and running, put 23 million new dollars in, and those community-based programs are up. Many of them are just starting and many of them have been up and running for quite a few months now. They're serving people so that we don't see people locked up in institutions but actually served in the community.

I remind the honourable member that in London and St Thomas, about 1,600 beds were there at one time many years ago, but over the years your two parties across the way cut those beds. In the end we ended up with two big buildings, one in London, one in St Thomas, where only 38% of the physical space was being used. Therefore, the commission has recommended that those buildings be abandoned -- they're very old, very outdated -- and that a new psychiatric hospital be built in St Thomas.

The government will officially respond near the end of this 30-day period, but right now I think the commission --

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

Mr Hampton: This minister is in the process of taking about $80 million out of psychiatric health care in terms of those hospital budgets. We ask him over and over again when he is going to announce the community reinvestments so that psychiatric patients aren't simply thrown out in the street, and he babbles on and refuses to give any announcement or any indication.

Let me tell you what your problem is. You've taken the $80 million, but when you announced all your downloading, in effect what you said is that municipalities will have to deal with the huge burden of supporting people, that municipalities will have to deal with things like supportive housing, will have to deal with many of those community care issues. You're going to take the $80 million out and give it to the Minister of Finance and you're going to throw the problem on to municipalities. That's what you're doing. You owe it to the people across this province to come clean. When are you going to announce --

The Speaker: Thank you, leader.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member has a very difficult time taking yes for an answer. I have said and the previous minister said all the way along that we will make all the investments that are necessary and as directed by the commission. It's a little premature right now, given that the $45 million that the commission has directed to be reinvested into community-based mental health services in the southwest --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): People have to be able to plan, Jim.

Hon Mr Wilson: There is no plan. I invite you to right now leave the chamber, phone the commissioners and ask them what the plan is. We're fully committing, but we want to make sure there's a plan in place. Unlike the time when you were in office, the commission has directed very clearly that not one more bed cut can occur in mental health services without a full community-based plan, including full community-based reinvestment. We are going to live up to what the commission is asking. For once, the southwest will have a comprehensive mental health plan to provide the services the people in that area need.


The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's going to be wonderful for those of us from the area to be able to go back and say that the minister in the House today committed that every single dollar of operating money for St Thomas and London psychiatric hospitals will go back into the community. That's good news.

It's particularly good news in light of what happened at our briefing yesterday by the commission, where the mayor of St Thomas and councillors from the city of London asked that specific question of the commission. They said: "What do you mean this money is going to be delivering community services? We just got downloaded a huge amount of the dollars. What's wrong with this picture? Who's going to pick this up?"

Your commission was somewhat embarrassed. They were very clear that they had no idea what your intentions were about the download when they were given their mandate and that their decision-making had to be about the best delivery of services. They said very clearly that your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing. That's what we've been claiming all along.

You are rushing along making these changes, and there is no guarantee to patients, their families or their communities that the resources are going to be there to look after these people who are going to be booted out of the institutions you're determined to close. Tell us clearly how you are going to deal with that download --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for London Centre.

Hon Mr Wilson: I have no idea what the honourable member's talking about with respect to downloading. Mental health services in this province have been increased significantly since this government came to office. The fact of the matter is that we will be making more investments into mental health. How can it be downloading when the Ministry of Health budget is up at least $300 million this year? There's not an ounce of downloading going on. The fact of the matter is, the only downloading I've seen and the only downloading supported by facts in this country is the $2 billion worth of downloading or cuts that we've received from the federal Liberal government.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): There are people here in the galleries witnessing an extraordinary outcome in terms of this minister. My question is for that Minister of Health. On May 18, 1995, your Premier promised not to close hospitals. He's closing hospitals and you and the restructuring commission are his rusty scalpel to go and do it. You're doing this by breaking promises about reinvestment. You're closing hospitals with no idea about how to make things work.

I'd refer you specifically to the situations of the frail elderly. Today, in terms of long-term care, what the Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors says in its report is that because of the hospital cuts you've done which bring about the closing of hospitals and bring about most of the other health care problems we have in this province, 3,000 chronic care beds have closed. Last year 2,000 people were turned away from long-term-care beds because you haven't provided the funding. This is Jim Wilson's problem. You promised the reinvestment and --

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

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It's an astonishing question coming from the Liberal Party, the party that froze long-term-care beds in the mid-1980s. During their entire time in office, during the entire time of the NDP government, over 10 years, not one new nursing home bed or home for the aged bed was added to this province. Did the population get older? Did the population grow? Yes. We inherited that mess, that chaos. We're finding the savings in the system now.

The fiscal year 1987-88, a moratorium was placed on nursing homes and homes for the aged beds.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): You're the one closing hospitals, remember.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: Not one bed was added from the time the Liberals were in office until the time the NDP were in office.

Mr Agostino: Not one cent.


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, I've warned you on a number of occasions. I'm not getting up again to warn you. You have to come to order.

Hon Mr Wilson: Sure, the honourable members claim they went to a couple of ribbon cuttings. You simply moved licences from what you considered overbedded areas in the province to underbedded areas. The fact of the matter is that there are about 57,000 beds now, and that's the way it was over the last 10 years.

We are just finishing, along with all our partners there, a study of how many new beds we're going to need, and part of our reinvestment strategy is to identify where those needs are and reinvest the money back into new beds for seniors and for people who need them.

Mr Kennedy: I'm sure that's not the right answer because I saw this minister hold up that Win-Win report. It should have burned up in your hands, because I've been in those hospitals in Windsor and you reneged on them about the reinvestment. That's the people who have to look at you today. Can they trust you? When it comes to long-term-care beds, there are 3,000 beds gone because you cut the hospitals. There were 2,000 frail elderly turned away last year because of you. Today, the senior citizens organizations in Ontario are saying that you have a crisis that you've manufactured, and you're hurting seniors because you're not dealing with it.

The head of your own Health Services Restructuring Commission says you don't know what you're doing by dumping long-term care for the frail elderly, for home care, down on the municipalities. Your own expert is telling you to change your mind. Minister, today will you do the right thing? Will you respect the people in the galleries? Will you respect the resolution? Will you respect Eva Mulcock, a 92-year-old woman who spent six days in the emergency corridor in Queensway, then spent weeks waiting for a chronic care --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for York South.

Hon Mr Wilson: On behalf of seniors and those who need long-term-care services in this provinces, this government made the largest single investment in the history of Parliament, and that was $170 million -- we did it last year, before the commission started its restructuring work -- that creates 4,400 new jobs for nurses and other front-line home care and home nursing providers.

We've made tremendous other reinvestments, including over $48 million for the restructuring in Windsor. Gee, when I go to Windsor, they say, "Thank you for the reinvestment, thank you for living up to the commitments the local people put together, thank you, government, for making our hospital system more efficient and for increasing services, and thank you for the tremendous investment you've made, and for the confidence we have in the people of Windsor and the health professionals there who are making their system a better place for the people of Ontario.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training related to Bill 104 and the letter that he signed and sent to the newspaper today. We heard submissions in the committee on Bill 104 from many people who expressed their concerns that this bill has little to do with improving education and more to do with taking money out of education. Janet Allen, for instance, told the committee, "In Bill 104, I see no plan other than a fiscal one," and you say in the letter to the editor today, "As for the Education Improvement Commission -- which is part of Bill 104 legislation -- the commission's powers are designed to protect the interest of taxpayers; nothing more and nothing less." Will you confirm for us today what you've said in this letter to the editor, that Bill 104 isn't about improving education; it's simply about budget cuts.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Algoma for the question. Yes, we do have a letter the paper has been kind enough to publish today. I hope you'll read the entire letter at some point when you have the opportunity. I think that you will find that once again we have publicly said that our commitment is to having an education system in Ontario that lifts student achievement, and that's what matters to this government.

I find nothing offensive, my colleagues find nothing offensive about protecting the rights and the interests of the taxpayers of Ontario, and I'm surprised that the member opposite would be shocked that this government would have some interest in looking into that responsibility, in making sure that the investment we make in education makes a difference to the students of this province. That's what we're doing, for and on behalf of the parents, the taxpayers and the students of Ontario.

Mr Wildman: The parents and taxpayers who appeared before the committee made a number of comments. Kathleen Wynne said education is not about tax dollars and funding alone. Colleen Morris said we need to invest in education, not take money out of education. The Etobicoke Federation of Ratepayers' and Residents' Associations told the committee: "We in no way want to leave the impression that money concerns take precedence over the quality and accessibility.... Cheaper is not always better." Can the minister confirm that his so-called Education Improvement Commission, or should I say education cutbacks commission, will follow the agenda of improving education rather than simply making cutbacks to education in Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member probably is very aware of the fact that I consider and my colleagues consider the investment in learning, the investment in students in this province to be one of the most important a government can make on behalf of the people in the province. We have continued to make sure that all our actions are consistent with that theme.

In that light, it would be very useful for all members of this chamber to accurately discuss what's contained in Bill 104, what the intention of Bill 104 is, and that is to reduce the costs of bureaucracy, administration and duplication, so that we can direct the funds that are invested in education in the classroom, where it makes a difference with students, and not in bureaucracies and not in too many politicians.

I am proud of this bill and my colleagues are proud of this bill because it will help us to improve student achievement in this province.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): My question is to the Minister of Health.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Ask the right one.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mr Murdoch: I'm one of those people who voted for the member for Windsor-Sandwich's resolution this morning and I want to tell you that I voted on a positive note, because my minister is doing mostly everything that's in here, and if he's not doing it he will be doing it. I want to read something in here --


The Speaker: Order. Member for Grey-Owen Sound.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Must have been an interesting lunch-hour. Who got to you?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Show us the booze list, Billy.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You can be here 50 years, you'll never see the inside of cabinet.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I hope they paid for lunch, Bill.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Kiss and make up, Bill.

Mr Kormos: Pucker up is more like it.

Mr Pouliot: Get off the floor, Bill.


The Speaker: The member for Grey-Owen Sound has the floor. Please put your question.

Mr Murdoch: It's nice to hear all the things they have to say over there, but we can look at the resolution, and as I said before, the minister's doing these things: "The government of Ontario should...reinvest savings achieved through the restructuring process into local community...." In my community we would not have had dialysis machines. This is reinvestment. So maybe the Minister of Health could enlighten the opposition on some of the other things that have been happening.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I had to put my hearing apparatus on because it's a historic day in Ontario: The member for Grey-Owen Sound agrees with a member of the cabinet of this government. But the member is quite correct. The resolution this morning was worded quite craftily so that even I, as Minister of Health, find myself agreeing with much of its wording.

There's a lot to be proud of, I think, with this government's health record over the last 18 months.

Mr Pouliot: Better shine both shoes.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon, please come to order. I don't want to debate with you about it. Just come to order. Thank you.


The Speaker: Do you know what come to order means? Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: We have a lot to be proud of. Today dialysis patients are receiving, in over 30 new clinics across the province, services closer to home. In Grey-Owen Sound they used to have to travel throughout the wintertime, and sometimes they would stay up all night wondering whether they could get through the snowstorm, to receive not something that's optional but something that's absolutely life-sustaining to kidney dialysis patients.

Cardiac stents weren't even heard of a few years ago in this province, and Ontario is leading the way in funding that new technology so that heart patients receive the treatment they need.

Hospital restructuring: In Thunder Bay, I remind the members, we've invested almost 60 million new dollars in that hospital system so they'll have a better hospital system. Close to $50 million --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary.

Mr Murdoch: Restructuring had to take place and it has taken place in the public where everybody knows what's going on. It's not like what the opposition did in the last 10 years. They cut beds, they cut money to our hospitals, but they didn't tell anybody. They hid it. The opposition did it the cowardly way. They said to the hospitals: "We're just going to cut you. We're not going to let you know."

Let me read the last part of the resolution: "The government of Ontario...should ensure that health services, including emergency and urgent care services, are available to all Ontarians." We're doing this. I'm sure the health minister can tell us how we're doing exactly.

Hon Mr Wilson: Again, I appreciate the question from the member for Grey-Owen Sound. I know he and his colleague Mrs Fisher, the member for Bruce, are both fighting very hard right now to help improve the health care system in their local areas.

We've tripled the number of MRI machines in the province from 12 to 35, something other governments only talked about. We'll have more MRI machines in Ontario alone than all the rest of Canada by the time all those machines are up and running at the end of this year.

Our ambulances today: We give the best service available on the face of this earth. We have the best drugs available in those ambulances, we have defibrillators, and we're saving more lives because of that technology; over 375 new drugs added to the seniors formulary since coming; breast screening expansion, building on, in this case, the previous government's work but dramatically increasing the opportunity for breast screening for women in this province so they get early detection and can deal with that terrible disease.

You know about our hepatitis B program --

The Speaker: Thank you very much. New question.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask for unanimous consent to let the member for Leeds-Grenville ask the same question of the minister.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent for the member for Leeds-Grenville to ask the same -- agreed? I heard some noes.

New question.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a question to the Minister of Health. In a televised debate on May 18, 1995, Robert Fisher asked Mike Harris, then leader of the third party, and I quote, "Can you guarantee us tonight that your pledge to protect health care will mean that you will not close hospitals?" Mike Harris responded, and I quote again: "Certainly. I can guarantee you, Robert, that it is not my plan to close hospitals." This goes right to the heart of the integrity of the Premier of Ontario.

For 14 months I have been standing virtually every day, reading a petition from my constituents in Wilson Heights concerned about the potential closing of Branson hospital. I have over 60,000 signatures. Next Thursday the Mike Harris hospital closing commission will be coming into Metro. Can you give me a guarantee that you and Mike Harris will not be closing Branson hospital?


Hon Mr Wilson: I don't know what the honourable member's party was thinking when they were in government and they sent out the district health councils on several occasions and spent several million dollars to do these studies. The NDP were afraid the studies might come in during their time in office, so they sent out those thousands of volunteers, and $26 million later and 60 studies later they sent them all out again, because, "Oh, my goodness, a study might come in and some government might have to make some decisions to improve the health care system in the province."

Mike Harris and Jim Wilson and the members of our government are not the old-style politics.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): That's not Mike Harris's problem.

Hon Mr Wilson: People have spent thousands of volunteer hours --


The Speaker: Member for Essex South, if you don't come to order, I'll have to name you.

Hon Mr Wilson: People in our local communities have spent thousands of volunteer hours putting together plans to improve their health care system, to improve quality, to improve access, and we're working on those plans.

I was the health critic at the time the member for Nipissing made those comments, and we had no plan to close hospitals. The plans were being developed by the local communities, and those --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Supplementary?

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. Ceci est une question importante à propos de l'intégrité de Mike Harris. Au cours de la dernière campagne électorale, Mike Harris a promis de ne fermer aucun hôpital. Souvenons-nous du débat des chefs pendant la campagne. En regardant en plein, droit dans la caméra, il a dit, «Certainement, je peux vous garantir qu'il ne fait pas partie de mes projets de fermer des hôpitaux.»

Lundi, vous avez annoncé la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort à Ottawa. Vous avez annoncé la fermeture du seul hôpital de langue française en Ontario. Vous avez annoncé la fermeture du seul hôpital qui offre un programme d'enseignement de la médecine en français en Ontario.

M. Harris a déclaré qu'il porterait une attention particulière aux communautés rurales. C'est exactement un des rôles que remplit l'hôpital Montfort en desservant les résidents du comté de Prescott et Russell.

Monsieur le Ministre, pourquoi Mike Harris rompt-il sa promesse face à la communauté francophone ? Pourquoi fermez-vous --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: Over 60 communities worked on studies to improve their health care system. We would have let down a lot of people in Ontario if we had sent them back to study for another five years, after almost 15 years of study in this province. It's time for decisions. It's time to take the politics out of health care. It's time to move forward. This government doesn't have a plan to close hospitals. Hospitals are not closing; the services are amalgamating. The professionals, the talent, the services are going to move into fewer sites. Get rid of the half-empty buildings and have more nurses, more technology, modern hospitals, so that when people follow that blue H on the highway, they know they're going to an emergency room that's open, that has world-class service, not the way you were running the hospitals with 18-hour emergencies.

When we came to office, there were 68 emergency rooms either closed or closing in rural Ontario. We invested --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question, member for Dovercourt.

Just a minute. Point of order, member for Carleton East.

Mr Morin: I'm positive that the minister did not intend to make a mistake, but it's not the district health council that recommends the closing of the hospital, it's Mike Harris, sir.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Today the Young Citizens for Local Democracy, a non-partisan, local high school students' group, has brought the results of its student referendum on your megacity to Queen's Park. They've asked us to deliver the results to you so that you can verify the results yourself, and we'll do that at the end of this question.

I also want to tell you that students, like so many others, are strongly opposed to your undemocratic megacity bill. In fact, over 80% of the over 20,000 students who participated in Toronto, East York, York and Scarborough said no to your bill.

Earlier on, you said you wished these questions had been asked separately. Well, I've got news for you. They asked four separate questions: the one on the megacity; the second one on the mega school board; the third on your download; and your placing democratically elected governments under trusteeship being the fourth. On each one of them the response was similar: over 80% against your proposal.

I want to ask you this: Are you planning to ignore the votes of these young people --

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

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The first thing we want to do is congratulate the students on becoming interested in the process. They are to be congratulated for getting involved in the process of what the city means to them.

We know the single-city concept for Metropolitan Toronto is broadly supported by most people in the city. The issue as to what's going to happen in the future and the type of city these young people are going to live in is very important to this government and very important to this minister. I'm going to give them a commitment now that we will not do anything to this city other than make it a greater city than it is at the present time.

Mr Silipo: Minister, it seems that your arrogance knows no bounds. In the face of these very clear results, in the face of what you now yourself are also admitting will likely be a very clear rejection on Monday in the broader referendum against your megacity proposal, you are still standing there saying that most people support this. Where are these "most people" who support this?

You yourself today are indicating that you're prepared to make some amendments to the proposal, even though as we see them, they are relatively minor in the whole concept of what you're going to be doing. But even with that little window dressing, I want to ask you this: Will you at the very least table those amendments you've leaked out through the media today so that people who will be voting on Monday will have the full picture of just what you're prepared to do? Will you at least do that if you're not prepared to listen to these young people who are here today and who have voted so strongly against your megacity and, as you clearly say, you're not prepared to listen to people on Monday?

Hon Mr Leach: As the member knows, the committee hearings are continuing through till next Thursday. There are continuous deputations during that time period. Prior to submitting any amendments we may want to make to the bill, I want to hear everybody who's going to be presenting to the committee. We don't want to disfranchise anyone who may want to make a suggestion that would cause an amendment; we want to make sure that everybody has input into the process. We'll take all of that information into consideration. We'll table the amendments next week after we've had the opportunity to listen to all of the deputants who are going to take part in the hearings.



Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I recently read a newspaper article that some individuals in the you-brew industry routinely break the law. They are supposed to aid people who want to make their own beer, but these customers should be actively involved in the production of the product. Instead, we hear that many of these you-brews are not involving their customers in the production of beer; they are simply selling their alcohol to the public without a licence.

A tremendous number of people are employed by well-run breweries located in the municipality of Etobicoke, where I live. I would like to know, what is the government doing to ensure that you-brew operators are going to behave within the law?


Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'm quite concerned. There seems to be a lot of amusement from across the floor on this issue.

I met this morning with Harry Tughan. Harry's the director of loss prevention and security for the LCBO --


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Mr Speaker, if these members across the way had the opportunity, as I did, to see the unsafe and unhealthy conditions of some of the illegal you-brews and you-ferments, I think they'd be concerned too. In many cases I've seen rusty containers --

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Not in my riding. They're small business people, and you're dumping on them.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm not talking about the legal you-brews. I'm talking about the illegal you-brews, and they know there's a distinction between the two.

Clearly, the illegal you-brews have some conditions that I think would really astonish people across the way. There are some situations where they are using old agricultural pesticide containers. That's not good for public consumption. Clearly it's not.

While on the topic, certainly the you-brews are there to provide a service for people for their own use, as a hobby to produce their own beer or services. The you-brews are supposed to provide --

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr Ford: Minister, you-brews are not the only source of illegal alcohol being sold in Ontario. What is your ministry doing to combat the illegal wines being distributed throughout the province?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: We are working very diligently to try to curb smuggling and the production of illegal liquor in the province. The LCBO has taken a number of initiatives to address these concerns, including creating a special task force which involves a number of endorsement agencies, including the RCMP, Revenue Canada, the Ministry of Finance and the LLBO. In 1995-96, the special investigations unit was involved in 79 investigations, which have netted $10.5 million in seizures.

This is a serious issue. We are working actively right now. As I mentioned before, we're working with Mr Tughan, the director of loss prevention and security for the LCBO, to provide a strategy to better enforce the rules against illegal you-brews. It's clearly illegal you-brews we're concerned with.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Health. On Monday of this week, your hospital restructuring commission announced that it would delaying its restructuring process in Lambton county because, according to its press release, that is, the commission's press release, it had been told by your ministry that your department would be "developing a new policy for restructuring small hospitals in rural and northern Ontario." Can you indicate to the House today specifically what the ingredients of your new hospital policy will be with respect to rural hospitals and hospitals in northern Ontario?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): A number of parties, including the Ontario Hospital Association, have indicated that there needs to be a little bit of work done in a short period of time to make sure that all the district health councils in these very small towns, very small villages in some cases, that have a very small hospital -- a comprehensive policy for those needs to be looked at. The policy right now is to use benchmarks that may or may not always be appropriate.

We're not talking about the Pembrokes, where it's a two-hospital town. We're talking about just these very small areas. All members have expressed the fact that we want to ensure that patients continue to have access to quality services, and the definition of "access" has never really been clarified in this province.

Mr Conway: You are talking about the rural Ottawa Valley, which I represent. You and your commission have stayed proceedings in Grey-Bruce and in Sarnia-Lambton, and I'm going to tell you something, buster: There is little or no difference between the rural Ottawa Valley and Grey-Bruce and Petrolia-Lambton.

I want to know today, on behalf of the people in communities like Barry's Bay and Pembroke and Deep River and Renfrew and Arnprior, what are the specific ingredients of your new policy with respect to restructuring hospitals in rural small-town and northern Ontario, and will you give my communities, including Pembroke, the benefit of your new policy?

Hon Mr Wilson: Absolutely. I asked today that the Ontario Hospital Association put forward a representative to sit on a little committee to look at this matter. Excuse me, all members of all caucuses: It was the briefing that was provided. Your caucuses were invited to have a briefing from the commission, and in that they said, "Before we get into rural Ontario we need the government, we need all members to think about these little hospitals in these little towns."

Based on that, we've asked the Ontario Hospital Association to put forward a representative, and the Ontario Medical Association and about three or four other groups we've made the phone calls around to, to invite members to have input.

We want to take a look to make sure that "access" is defined in our rural areas. The commission welcomes the opportunity right now for input from people and I certainly welcome your input and that of your constituents. Whenever we put this together, we'll be sure to let all the district health councils and all the members know what the definition of access is for these rural areas.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Point of order, member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Not surprisingly, Mr Speaker, under standing order 34(a), I wish to express dissatisfaction with the answer of the Minister of Health and I will be filing the papers.

The Speaker: File the notice papers and that'll be acceptable.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I have no motions but I would ask that I be able to give the weekly business statement.

Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of March 3, 1997.

On Monday, March 3, the House will debate Bill 98 at second reading.

Tuesday, March 4, will be an opposition day and the House will meet in the name of the member for Oakwood, Mr Colle, and the House will also complete second reading of Bill 109.

On Wednesday, March 5, the House will complete second reading of Bill 106.

On Thursday, March 6, the House will complete second reading of Bill 98. In addition, it is certainly the hope of the government and I believe the hope of all parties in this House that at some time during the week we'll be able to accommodate Bill 125.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's certainly my hope as -- no. I thought we were adjourning; that's what I thought.



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

"Whereas Ontarians are gravely concerned with the historic $1.3 billion in 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 affix my signature as I'm in full agreement with this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I continue to receive petitions from workers all across Ontario, both unionized and non-union, expressing concern about this government's continuing attack on their rights in the workplace.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

On behalf of the members of the NDP, I add my name.



Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph) : I have a petition from constituents in my riding. It reads exactly the same as the petition just presented by the member for St Catharines, so in the interest of expediency and allowing other members to read their petitions, I submit it on behalf of my constituents.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario from residents of the Bridge End Housing Cooperative in my riding.

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

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

"We respectfully petition the government of Ontario to cease to amend the existing signed operating agreements with provincially and federally-provincially funded housing cooperatives. As members of provincial housing cooperatives, we recognize that provincial housing cooperatives make economic sense as an affordable housing alternative to the private sector."

I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have more petitions on drunk driving countermeasures addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas drinking and driving is the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada;

"Whereas every 45 minutes in Ontario a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash;

"Whereas most alcohol-related accidents are caused by repeat offenders;

"Whereas lengthy licence suspensions for impaired driving have been shown to greatly reduce repeat offences;

"Whereas the victims of impaired drivers often pay with their lives while only 22% of convicted impaired drivers go to jail and even then only for an average of 21 days;

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

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario," of course referring to the Marland bill. I affix my own signature thereto.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): 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."

This is signed by 25 additional concerned Ontarians. I have affixed my signature because, like these Ontarians, I agree that we do not want to get burned by Bill 84.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition as well 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 residents of Collingwood. I agree with the petitioners and I have signed it as well.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): Commuting is a big issue in my riding. I am presenting a petition signed by approximately 1,185 people who commute to jobs in the Toronto area and want the government of Ontario to maintain GO rail service to Bradford. The petition is signed by residents of Barrie, Innisfil, Bradford, West Gwillimbury, as well as the nearby communities of Tottenham, Bolton, Schomberg, Holland Landing, Newmarket, Keswick, Aurora, King City, Maple and Woodbridge.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I have the following petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads:

"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.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It's signed by a number of citizens from Scarborough, including a person who's here in the gallery today. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"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 the proposed unification of the municipalities into one unified city of Toronto."


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

"Speed, experience and teamwork save lives: Don't get burned by Bill 84. 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 affixed my signature to it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This petition reads:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas sexual assault is a crime and the effects of abuse last a lifetime for the survivors of these crimes;

"Whereas sexual assault crisis centres provide community-based, women-positive, cost-effective services which recognize and respond to both recent, historical and childhood sexual assaults, offering short-term crisis intervention, longer-term therapy, public education, prevention, court and police support;

"Whereas hospital-based treatment centres are mandated primarily to work with survivors of recent sexual assaults with a medical/forensic approach, offering only short-term counselling and referrals, while adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse or historical assaults need longer-term services to recover from the horrendous crimes they have suffered;

"Whereas if Parliament decides to close sexual assault crisis centres and redistribute drastically reduced funds to treatments centres, most adult survivors of sexual assault will not have the services they need to heal and will be further victimized;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to maintain community-based sexual assault crisis centres."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr John L. Parker (York East): I continue to receive this petition from residents from across East York. This particular one was circulated in the Thorncliffe area of East York and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the borough of East York is requiring voters in the current mail-in referendum to return their ballots in envelopes bearing their names and addresses; and

"Whereas the ballots are to be forwarded to the borough of East York at the East York Civic Centre and not to an independent elections commission; and

"Whereas the East York council has declared itself in favour of a particular result in the referendum; and

"Whereas the question itself is prejudicial in its wording and clearly slanted towards the result favoured by council; and

"Whereas all of the above factors violate well-established and universally acknowledged principles of a free democratic referendum process;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature to:

"(1) Speak out against the current flawed, undemocratic referendum in East York;

"(2) Disregard the results of the vote; and

"(3) Proceed with the government's program to provide for Toronto's future through the creation of one Toronto for all of us."


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition sponsored by local community fire safety committees that is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Speed, experience and teamwork save lives. Don't get burned by Bill 84.

"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."

In support of this I add my signature.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I wish to add these voices to those who are calling for changes to Bill 84 and support firefighters.

"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 add my name to theirs.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I have a petition from 19 members of my riding passed on to me by the member for Windsor-Sandwich. It parrots her earlier resolution of the day, so I won't read it, and I won't affix my signature because I disagree with some of its contents.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that says:

"Don't get burned by Bill 84.

"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 affix my signature to this petition as I am in full agreement with its contents.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have another petition which adds voices to those who are concerned about fire safety in the province.

"Speed, experience and teamwork save lives. Don't get burned by Bill 84.

"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 have affixed my signature as I am in agreement with this petition.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for London Centre has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Health concerning the impact of downloading on the delivery of community-based services where psychiatric hospitals close. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.



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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate. The Chair recognizes the member for St Catharines.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The last speaker, as I understand it, was the parliamentary assistant. It seems to me that the members are entitled to their rotation of questions and responses to that member's comments on Bill 108. The rules provide for that.

The Acting Speaker: I'm informed that by tradition we don't follow that procedure when the member is not here; we follow rotation. We'll move now to Mr Bradley.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am pleased to be able to take part in debate on Bill 108; the streamlining of provincial offences act, it says, but this government has, as you know better than anyone, Mr Speaker, used a new method of putting phoney names on the bills that suit the government's purposes. That doesn't seem to be contrary to the rules, I suppose, but if one were to read what it says about the bill, one would certainly not be taken in by that suggestion.

I want to say from the start that the purpose of this bill obviously is to try to garner some favour with the municipalities for being dumped upon by the provincial government. It reminds one -- and I was at a meeting last night in St Catharines of a group of individuals concerned about the deterioration of government services in Ontario. One of the people pointed out that you're going to see something like a town in Mississippi where you drive through and you go down the hill, and at the top of the hill the speed limit -- it's in miles per hour in the US -- would be perhaps 30 miles per hour, and when you get down to the bottom of the hill it's 15 miles per hour. It's usually worse than that. It's probably 50 miles an hour at the top of the hill and 15 miles an hour at the bottom of the hill so they can garner some additional funds.

The Solicitor General, who is in the gallery today with the dean of the press gallery, Eric Dowd, is a person who would know about this and be concerned that now we're going to have people applying the law in different ways, depending on how much a community might need in revenue, and heaven knows they're going to need the money in revenue because of all the downloading or dumping of responsibility from the provincial government on to local governments.

Almost to a person, even a lot of Conservatives, not all of them, but even a lot of Conservatives I know on local councils are now refusing to apologize for Mike Harris, are refusing to apologize for the downloading of responsibilities on the municipalities. While they may say there might be a dollar or two to be made from this jurisdiction coming into being for them, they really would prefer that the provincial government keep this jurisdiction and also keep many items they've downloaded on the municipalities. As you know as members of this assembly, local municipalities are beside themselves over the prospect of something happening, that prospect being -- the roof is leaking in here, I think. There's something falling from the roof of this building right now.

Mr Kormos: It's easy for you to say. It's not falling on you.


Mr Bradley: There is a problem arising in the House. I don't want to be interrupted in my speech, but there is fallout coming from a vent in the ceiling, and you may wish to find out what that is all about.

It reminds me of the downloading on municipalities.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Mr Speaker, on a matter of privilege: Could you be good enough to indicate to the honourable members what is falling from the sky? I'm used to manna. This doesn't seem to fall into that category. Would you be good enough to tell us what this is, Speaker? I know I've been listening to the camel leading us through the desert, but what is this?

The Acting Speaker: I think that we'll look after the clock for the member for St Catharines.

On the point of order from the member for High Park-Swansea, we're not sure, and above all, I don't know any more about it than you, but it is being looked into. As soon as I have anything else, I'll make it known to you.

I guess at this point I should ask: Would the member for St Catharines like to proceed or would you like --

Mr Bradley: I will be pleased to proceed. I think it was the reverend from the west end of Toronto who intervened, appropriately, and I think it's an indication that I'm right about downloading. Just as I mentioned the downloading by the provincial government on municipalities, immediately some material was coming from the ceiling of this building from a vent, and indeed the sky is falling in Ontario. It's quite obvious that at least the wheels are coming off the provincial government programs.


On a more serious note, although this in itself is serious, I want to say that just as the members of this assembly are worried about material coming from a vent in the ceiling and falling upon us, so the members of municipalities out there, municipal councillors, board of education people are worried about what's falling on them as a result of the initiatives of this provincial government.

Let's say that perhaps they want to see this bill pass in some municipalities because it's a potential source of income for them. However, I say to the members of this assembly that what they would really prefer is that you rethink your downloading on to municipalities.

This gets to a theme about which all of us are talking these days. If you talk to anyone, even my Conservative friends, they will tell you that the government is moving too quickly and too drastically and not looking at the consequences of its actions. Obviously even some of the government members who are not in the cabinet are beginning to say that to the cabinet ministers and to the people who really run the government: the people who advise the Premier, the highly paid help in the Premier's office who are not elected but of course who are much smarter than the members in their minds.

I want to say that we would not require this piece of legislation if indeed that downloading would stop. Let me tell you how I think we would negate the need for this piece of legislation -- wise it may be or wise it may not be -- and that is by saying soon to the municipalities: "Look, we made a mistake. We're the Ontario government. I am Premier Harris. I have made a mistake and I shouldn't have downloaded long-term medical care, which is largely for seniors in our province, on to municipalities because those costs are bound to increase rather drastically."

Because those costs are increasing, that means we, as a municipality, have only a couple of choices. One choice is to drastically increase municipal property taxes that do not take into account a person's ability to pay. In other words, whether you're rich or poor, you still have to pay the taxes when the tax bill comes out; whether you're working or not in a particular year or set of months, you still have to pay your municipal taxes.

I think when they see this happening, when they see that they are faced with this onerous responsibility of so-called long-term care, as it is largely care for seniors; medical care in many cases for Alzheimer patients in our province who are facing very great difficulties not only for themselves but for their caregivers, and that's usually members of the family --

What we're seeing now are some municipalities that own homes for the aged, as they are called, saying they may have to privatize. When we privatize, there are a couple of consequences. One is that the people working there obviously could lose their jobs or have to take jobs with a new firm without any particular benefits or with a significantly reduced paycheque. That's an attack on people who are not highly paid now but at least have some benefits and some sense of dignity with the amount of money they are receiving. That's one group of people.

A second consequence might be to drastically increase user fees for these facilities, again placing an onus on senior citizens and their families as the municipality finds it impossible to meet these costs from the municipal property tax.

A third is that we could see some significant cuts in the level of service. Already because of provincial cutbacks of funding, we have seen homes for the aged lay people off, cut the hours and cut some of the resources available, even though the people who run them don't want to do so, even though the administration are concerned about this. We are finding a deterioration of the service that can be provided because of a reduction in the staff. So that's one thing.

I think the provincial government is probably ready to capitulate on this issue because, as you know, those of us in the opposition have raised this issue many times, the people of this province have raised this issue, and our local municipal representatives have raised this issue.

If you were to take it back, and I hope you do capitulate, I won't say, "Sound the bugles of retreat," or that I hear the backup beep, beep sound coming. I won't say any of those things. I will applaud the provincial government and Premier Harris for recognizing the mistake that has been made in trying to download on municipalities responsibilities for seniors' long-term care and long-term care for other disabled people.

You might say, what else would necessitate not having to pass this bill, not having to deal with this bill? A second thing would be for the province to retain responsibility for ambulance services, because that's being dumped on local municipalities. Many of them don't have the wherewithal to deal with this, so they will go to the private sector.

Who is waiting on the sidelines? My friend from Welland-Thorold was mentioning at a meeting last night that they were lined up at the Peace Bridge just waiting for this decision. We have companies such as Metro/Rural Corp from the United States, which serves some 200 communities in the United States, hovering above Ontario, saying that this looks like, as they would call it, a good marketplace, and wanting to move in.

I can tell you that in Buffalo and in northern New York state, where that company exists, it costs a significant amount of money, over $200, simply to get into the ambulance, and if you want any kind of detailed service while you're in the ambulance, kind of life-saving service, that goes up over $300, and you have to pay $5.45 a mile in addition to that. If they have to get out the Band-Aids or splints or if you have to have oxygen or an intravenous, that costs as well. What I'm saying is that if you didn't download this on municipalities and they weren't forced to privatize, they might say, "We won't need Bill 108, then; we're mildly supportive now in some municipalities, but we won't need Bill 108."

I know there are people concerned about that. I notice that one of the councillors who would be concerned about this, Councillor Judy Casselman of St Catharines, is sitting in the members' gallery. I'll introduce her; we can have a round of applause, I'm sure, for her this afternoon.


Mr Bradley: You will notice that I had quoted her husband, Dr Casselman, in previous debates in this House because of course I was mentioning on that occasion -- you can relate to this, Mr Speaker -- the potential closure of Hotel Dieu Hospital. He had submitted an outstanding brief which cautioned the government not to be proceeding so quickly.

It fits into this bill. You may say: "How does that possibly fit into this bill? How does this man come up with things that don't seem to fit this bill?" Let me tell you how it fits this bill.

Just as the expert he was quoting from the United States, who had done some significant studies on these matters, was saying, "Take your time; don't quickly proceed with the closing of hospitals; look carefully before you do this," I think municipalities are saying it to the people of this province, are particularly saying it to the government benches, all of whom are in rapt attention this afternoon at the remarks I am offering for their consideration. That's something else you don't have to download.

Another thing is the responsibility for welfare, which is in two categories: welfare which is on an emergency basis, a relatively short-term basis, and longer-term welfare, which is for disabled people and mothers' allowance, for instance, for people where the spouse has taken a hike and he's nowhere to be found and we need some help for the mother in order that she can look after the children. That's going to be dumped on the municipalities.

You see, they only have one way they can tax. That's the municipal property tax. As I've said on many occasions, and I have to repeat this because obviously the message doesn't quickly get through, it doesn't take into account the person's ability to pay. If you take St Catharines, for instance, where we have a relatively high unemployment rate, if a person is unemployed for perhaps as long as a year, that person's income tax goes down, because they're not making as much money. However, the property tax bill still comes out from the municipality, and when that property tax bill is going to increase significantly, that's going to place an even greater onus on that individual.


But what is this government doing? It's giving an income tax cut, which will benefit the wealthiest people in the province the most, and it is going to force an increase in the property tax, which of course is easiest for wealthy people to pay compared to people who don't have the same means. This is completely backwards as to where it should be, but of course the provincial government can then go around taking credit for a tax cut and place the blame on municipalities for raising taxes or for cutting service or for implementing unpopular and often unnecessary user fees.

Municipal councillors I'm aware of right across Ontario, whether they're Liberals or Conservatives or New Democrats or have no political affiliation, are getting together to unite; they're putting aside their political considerations. They're not apologizing for Mike Harris, they're not apologizing for members of the cabinet; they're saying, "We stand up for our municipalities first, and we're going to speak to this government and try to change its mind."

This week it appears the wheels are flying off the Common Sense Revolution, because the government has had a bad week, to this point in time. The hospitals are closing left and right. That places an onus on a community. You would know this, Mr Speaker, as well as any one of us. When you close a hospital and all those people lose jobs -- and you're already firing the nurses and other workers in the hospital out the door -- those people don't have the ability to pay their property taxes, and they may fall into arrears. Therefore, the municipality has to raise taxes even more to make up for the fact that some people cannot afford them.

I say to you who sit on the government benches, you should be approaching the Premier -- I know he told the member for Wentworth North that they could win the riding with or without him, and I thought that was rather unfortunate they would say that, when the member for Wentworth North had the intestinal fortitude to stand up against the policy of the government in caucus. The Premier, I'm told from a reliable source I read, said, "Well, we can win that riding with or without you." I don't think that's fair.

I want to give the member for Wentworth North credit for standing up to the Premier of this province. It's too bad many of the others wouldn't, but of course many of them are trying to grease the skids into the cabinet and are hopeful that if they laugh loud enough at the Premier's jokes and if they say, "Yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full, sir," they might just get in the cabinet. But my friend the member for Wentworth North knows that path might not be his, and he has chosen to make a stand on behalf of his constituents. I want to commend him for opposing government policy which is unwise government policy. I simply hope it's contagious and some of the other members will follow his lead.

It would be interesting to have a microphone -- although one should never say this, because it reminds us of the Watergate break-in -- but it would be interesting nevertheless to fantasize about a microphone in the government caucus room, because then you could hear some of the things that are said.

I remember when the Speaker of the House here, Mr Chris Stockwell, the member for Etobicoke West, used to sit in the government caucus. He tried to bring some sense to the cabinet, and he would be a person around whom other members could rally. I want to commend him. Today he voted for a resolution initiated by the opposition when there was a tie to be broken. It just shows how impartial he is, and it shows how perceptive he is of the needs of the people of this province, and I hope he doesn't use this in his campaign literature. But I want to commend him for that initiative.

When I'm looking at the Provincial Offences Act, as I do when I'm dealing with legislation, I also try to say, "This government doesn't want a lot of legislation." My friend the member for Lincoln must have been beside himself today when one of the members got up to ask for some kind of regulation dealing with you-brews, because the member for Lincoln wants to get rid of all the regulations we have, and now it appears the government wants to move in that direction.

But I digress, Mr Speaker, and you're so kind and understanding enough to let me digress from time to time during my remarks. But I do want to say there are other areas that you are dumping on municipalities as a government. For one thing, you're cutting their funding left and right. When I see heritage, which is so important -- and I must say Councillor Casselman from St Andrews ward in St Catharines is noted for trying to preserve the heritage; she's been one of the leaders in our municipality in trying to preserve the heritage in our community. I can't speak for her, naturally, but I know she must be very concerned when she sees a diminishing of the funds available from the provincial level to meet the heritage needs of this province.

There was a time when the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario thought a lot about heritage. It wasn't a party of bulldozers; it was a party that was careful and cautious. That's what I'm advocating. I don't agree with what you're doing, but maybe you want to move forward with your agenda. Most people are saying, "Would you be more cautious. Would you be as Bill Davis was," or John Robarts, people of that ilk, Bob Welch, who was a Deputy Premier in this province and served with distinction the riding of Brock and St Catharines-Brock for so many years, and Lincoln previous to that.

These are people who moved with caution, who looked to the consequences of their actions before they moved forward, who weren't caught on some ideological bent which said they must get rid of virtually everybody who works in the public sector and provides service in the public sector.

Members of the assembly must be getting telephone calls from their local municipalities, from their municipal councillors, saying, "We can't possibly handle all the roads you want to dump on us for responsibility." They've already deteriorated under this provincial government, which has not spent the money to maintain those roads, so they're saying to us who sit in this House, "Would you please inform Premier Harris, who is the author of this downloading, that he indeed should not be dumping the responsibility for these provincial roads on to local municipalities and should continue to provide some transfer payments for us to carry out our responsibilities."

I know the Premier generally promised that we would have good roads in this province, just as I remember when he said to Robert Fisher on May 18, 1995, during the leaders' debate in the election campaign -- I have what was the exact terminology again -- "Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you I have no plans to close hospitals." I'm sure that applied to roads and other services. We didn't hear about those plans. The Conservative candidates in our area certainly didn't say they were going to be downloading on the municipalities all the responsibilities that you're downloading upon them. They didn't say you would be bringing in megacities and destroying the small towns and villages and municipalities that this government seems bent on destroying.

Those kinds of communities have served us well in years gone by. They've been the closest to the people. At one time, of course, the Conservative Party stood for local government: The government that was local was the closest to the people. You could always count on the Conservatives to take that stance, which tells me of course this is not the Progressive Conservative Party in power but rather some rump of the Reform Party that sits in the Parliament, with a few exceptions, no doubt, of people who might still be considered to be Progressive Conservatives. But by and large it's the Reform rump, and they must be beside themselves again because I saw in the newspaper today that the Reform Party was warning some of the members of the Conservative Party, "Don't you dare support the federal Conservatives or we'll get you in the next election." That is important for this party.

Mr Kormos: I agree.

Mr Bradley: The member for Welland-Thorold knows that, because he is well aware that without the Reform Party vote, this crowd wouldn't be in power right now. So if you offend them too much -- you have to be very careful because you'll lose that natural support that you have. I know some of the members here squire the leader of the Reform Party around the riding when he shows up and show up at the meetings, things of that nature.

I become concerned when I see that kind of influence because that's not the Conservative Party that I know. Those aren't the Conservatives with whom I have associated in the past; yes, as an opposition person, but I found those people to be somewhat reasonable and open-minded compared to the crowd that we face today across from us in the assembly.

So this act is one which wouldn't be necessary if we didn't have this downloading on the municipalities.

There are other areas -- the member for Welland-Thorold would be able to prompt me on this -- where they are downloading on to municipalities, because people in Welland are well aware of this. They're saying at the same time, "While you're doing this, you're closing other institutions." The Thorold detention centre is being closed. That makes absolutely no sense at all.


Again, it goes back to the theme of the difference between the Reform Party that's in power now and the old Progressive Conservative Party. The Progressive Conservative Party understood the need for institutions of this kind close to the communities so that the family could go out to visit, so there could be some counselling take place of a local nature. Because, believe it or not, these people are coming out of jail eventually. Better that they come out with some counselling, better that they come out to a halfway house before heading into neighbourhoods, better that they come out with some of the services that used to be provided than throwing them all together in a huge mega-jail, a huge jail which, yes, might be a bit cheaper in the short run to operate but in the long run will produce worse criminals than you've ever seen before, that will result in almost no rehabilitation taking place. That's affecting our community as well as they close that institution and others.

This is all in the context as well. Our people would say, "Look, if you weren't dumping so many of the health responsibilities on the local people, we wouldn't have to do this." You would know, Mr Speaker, because in your area there are people lurking out there trying to close hospitals. I think Listowel is one place that you would be concerned about, just as I am in the Niagara region, where the local hospital restructuring commission has been forced to come up with a report to close hospitals because the government has said that they are going to withdraw $44 million more -- that's after the cuts already taking place -- out of hospital care in our province. This at a time when in Boom, Bust and Echo, the best-selling book now, the author, Mr Foot, says we shouldn't be quickly closing hospitals that we may have to open again.

I become concerned about that. I never heard anything from any Conservative candidate about closing hospitals last election. Did you, Peter?

Mr Kormos: Not a word.

Mr Bradley: The member for Welland-Thorold did not either. The member for Kingston and The Islands nods no, he did not hear anything about that, and yet we're seeing hospitals being closed in every community, including the Solicitor General's community.

Mr Kormos: People in the galleries are shaking their heads; they're saying no.

Mr Bradley: And the people in the galleries today knew that, the ones who were here this morning to support the resolution of the member for Windsor-Sandwich.

So I look to the Conservative caucus. We don't have the power over here. We don't have the power because we have 31 members and the New Democrats have 15 members and there's one independent.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): They're going down all the time: 14?

Mr Bradley: There could even be 14 members now, I'm told. But whatever number there are in the NDP and the Liberals, we cannot overcome the majority of 82. The only time that we can deal in a relatively non-partisan sense is when we have private members' hour.

That's why this morning it was encouraging to see half a dozen government members stand up and vote with the opposition. I know they're getting the heat at home, and people can say, "Oh well, it's only because they're responding to the heat," but what I'm saying is, I don't care whether they're responding to heat locally, whether it's the pressure, whatever it is. At least they stood up to vote with the opposition, who recognize that the government policy is wrongheaded. When these people will admit that government policy is wrongheaded, I think we're making progress. I call upon more of them to do so, and I call upon them in our own communities to come out and say to the Conservative government not, "Yes, Mike, you're doing a good job. Here's $200 for the fund-raiser," but to come out and say: "Mike, we don't think you're doing a good job; we don't agree with everything you're doing. Some of the things we may agree with, some of the things may be reasonable, but you know, you're moving too quickly. You're moving like a bulldozer and you're not paying attention to your own members even."

They treat you as though you're stupid or something, and you're not. You are elected people. You know better than anybody else, because you're elected at the local level, what the pulse of your community is, what people are saying to you, not the people who you know are going to say what you want to hear, but generally out there. You're a better barometer of the province of Ontario than anybody who works in the Premier's office or any of the assistants to the ministers or in fact our good people in the civil service, who don't have the same opportunity to be out in the community that all of you have.

For this reason, I ask you to rise up against the Common Sense Revolution, stand for real common sense, slow the government down, make the government more cautious, make the government more responsible, because if you do so, you're going to get some applause from those of us in the opposition who to this point in time have seen far too little of that initiative. That is why I believe there's not even a need to proceed with Bill 108, if you do what I have suggested and stop the downloading.

The Acting Speaker: Before we go to comments and questions, I just want to inform the House that my best information is that a window blew in upstairs. It stirred up some dust and of course it came down on us. For the benefit of the pages, and of course the members too, it has not been deemed unsafe in here so we don't have the right to refuse work. We'll proceed. Questions and comments?

Mr Kormos: I have no doubt that what fell on us from the rafters was far less dangerous than what sits over here on the government side on a daily basis.

I'm very grateful to the member for St Catharines and his comments. At first blush -- he as much as indicated this -- this looks like a relatively innocuous bill. Some would wonder why the member for St Catharines would speak at such length, 30 minutes. Some would wonder why I'm going to speak to it for 90 minutes next, and I tell you --

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): For 90 minutes? I'm outta here.

Mr Kormos: Yes, for 90 minutes. It's important to understand that this is but another piece of the puzzle. It may be a smaller piece of the puzzle, it may be a less obvious piece of the puzzle, but it's part and parcel, as the member for St Catharines said, of the downloading of the big Harris dump on taxpayers and on communities across Ontario, of the cutbacks, of the shutdowns of hospitals and schools, and yes, of correctional institutes and detention centres, of the attack on students and the attack by this government on the sick and on seniors and on workers and on young people.

It's all part and parcel, and if we're going to debate it meaningfully, we're going to have to discuss it in the context of what this government has been doing here since June 1995.

I also want to note that this is a bill, not inappropriately, sponsored by the Attorney General. I think it's appropriate then that we talk a little bit about the Attorney General and the Ministry of the Attorney General, and I intend to, especially the disdain his ministry has shown for leading jurists like Chief Justice LeSage and Chief Justice McMurtry. I'm going to be making reference to some comments that were reported in the Law Times released just a couple of days ago, wherein the ministry and the Attorney General showed contempt, quite frankly. He showed contempt for the comments these jurists had made about the Attorney General's incompetence in his failure to fund criminal justice here in Ontario.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It's a pleasure to rise today to respond to the member for St Catharines. In his presentation today, he doesn't give much faith to municipalities and I'm shocked at that. Bill 108, this transfer, gives municipalities a stronger role under the Provincial Offences Act and it's consistent with the province's commitment to eliminating waste and duplication and to consolidating service delivery at one level of government.

We are creating a new revenue source for municipalities which can be spent on further improving local services, even after the costs of this new responsibility are taken into account. It's built on a successful transfer of parking tickets to municipalities initiated by the NDP government in 1993. The results have been service at a lower cost to the public. I think that's very important to keep in mind.

This government is now taking the next logical step. This government is consolidating administration of provincial offences, primarily ticketable offences, at one level of government, thereby eliminating waste and duplication. For example, administrative processes are duplicated when two offices process a single certificate of offence. With our changes, only the municipal office would process this certificate.

It's important to keep in mind some of the municipalities in 1993 that opted in: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ottawa, St Catharines -- St Catharines opted in -- the town of Durham, the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and Windsor. I'd like to read just a couple of lines from a letter from the mayor of Kingston to Minister Harnick. It said:

"During your remarks, you requested municipalities within the Kingston and Napanee area consider submitting proposals to your ministry to become partners in the Provincial Offences Act. This is very good news for our community, and the city of Kingston is prepared to become a partner with your ministry immediately." It goes on, "I've asked my staff to begin the process of communicating with your ministry staff."


Mr Gerretsen: I'm very pleased to join in this debate. First of all, to take up the comments just made by the last member, yes, in Kingston they have been asking for this for quite some time because it happens to be one of those communities that is well able to look after this. They've got their own solicitor staff within the Kingston city hall framework etc and it does make sense in that particular case. There are many communities throughout the province, however, where it does not make sense, particularly the smaller communities.

Councillor Judy Casselman from St Catharines is here to listen to this debate, and I'm sure her mother, Audrey Dingwall in Kingston, is listening to this debate as well, because these people want to know about the totality of what this government is doing. They want to know not only about some of the good things the government may be doing from time to time for some municipalities, but also with respect to the total downloading that's taking place.

Let's not forget that even on such a simple matter as this, there seems to be a great debate as to how much municipalities are actually going to be making on this. According to the government's own figures, they say turning over the provincial offences revenues to municipalities is going to be $65 million to the good, as far as municipalities are concerned. It's interesting that the Crombie commission only estimates it to be $30 million. We want to know who is right.

The reason these figures are so important is that the $65 million has been used as a justification by the government to download all these social and health care services. It's part of the figure they're using to offset the education taxes. It's very important for the taxpayers of Ontario to know whether $65 million is the right figure, as the government has stated, or the $30 million as the Crombie commission has stated.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The member for St Catharines will be happy to know that I was listening to his speech in my office and deliberately came over to say to him and to this place that the downloading issue is the issue around this particular bill. He is quite right about that.

We would not see in a crowded agenda like the agenda of this government a bill like this, which is a permissive bill, coming forward when we are already sitting in extraordinary session unless this were a key component to the download this government is planning. It is absolutely key that this be there as a sop to the municipalities, which know very well that they are getting burdened with far more than appears on the surface in terms of the so-called wash that the government talks about. It wouldn't even be a so-called wash in their figures without the $65 million predicted from this bill.

It's very important that people understand that while this bill in and of itself may not be that offensive, it is offensive within the context of what this government is trying to accomplish in this extraordinary session, and it needs to be seen in that context. There is nothing urgent about this bill except the government's need to try and make that balance sheet look a little bit more credible. The reality is that it isn't credible in the first place. The amount of money that municipalities are promised as a result of this bill I think is highly overextended in terms of the predictions that have been made about the download.

I know there are those who may think that talking about the downloading has nothing to do with this bill. It is extremely important, as the member for St Catharines pointed out, that it is the key to this bill.

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

Mr Bradley: I appreciate all the comments that have come forward. Some I agree with more than others, particularly the last comment; the others less so.

I want to say to you, not only was I thinking this bill wouldn't be before us, I was thinking that the transportation bill would be before us. I remember that with great fanfare, after all kinds of pressure from the opposition and wheels flying left and right and centre, the Minister of Transportation was going to bring in this bill to deal with the trucking companies, with the safety.

Mrs Boyd: I guess the wheels have fallen off.

Mr Bradley: Well, the wheels have fallen off of that because we in the opposition have said: "Look, bring this bill forward. We can postpone some of the other bills. We don't need to pass the bill for the developers." There's a bill they want for the friends of the developers, to give them some money back so they'll be able to go to the Tory fund-raisers and give more money. Municipal people such as Councillor Casselman are going to be concerned about this because you're going to not only dump on her municipality all the responsibilities, but you're going to then say the city cannot even charge development charges in the manner they used to do in the past.

We have been prepared in this House to proceed, I thought last week we would be proceeding, with the bill for safety on the highways. Instead it was a sham, it was just a big public relations sham in the hallways. The minister has no interest in proceeding with that bill, so it is quite acceptable to say "sham."

I as well want to know that Audrey Dingwall of Kingston, no relation to any famous federal minister, would be watching this particular program, would like to know that her daughter is here in the gallery, very interested in what's going on. I can tell you that Councillor Casselman could not be counted as a raving Liberal or socialist. She's a very open-minded person, and I think she has seen in the debate this afternoon that we should have been proceeding with other legislation and not this bill.

The Acting: Further debate?

Mr Kormos: I appreciate the somewhat liberal attitude the Speaker has displayed over the course of this debate, understanding that we can't debate Bill 108 in isolation of all the legislation and policy that preceded it and accompanies it. That's a caveat, as they say, that we're going to be far-reaching in our understanding of why New Democrats aren't going to be supporting Bill 108, and I'll tell you that right now. Let's make no bones about it.

It is, as I indicated earlier and as we all know, a bill sponsored by the Attorney General. I'm terribly concerned about what's happening in the Ministry of the Attorney General. Here we have a bill that downloads, will have the effect of downloading the cost of prosecuting the Highway Traffic Act perhaps, the Liquor Licence Act perhaps, any other number of provincial offences, downloading the cost of prosecuting those on to the municipality. It appears that not only is the cost of prosecuting it downloaded, but the impression one gets is that the cost of court services during the course of those prosecutions is downloaded as well.

One wonders then where it's even a matter of transferring responsibility, because this Ministry of the Attorney General, as you know, abandoned provincial judges just a few weeks ago when it said it wasn't going to recognize the independent body that made recommendations as to provincial judges' salaries. It similarly has abandoned justices of the peace, the front-line judiciary, who are a competent and hardworking group of people. It's abandoned them because it's left them out in the cold, hasn't followed up on some of the groundwork that was laid with respect to a structure for justices of the peace. It's a government as well that has abandoned the criminal justice system, to the great pleasure, I tell you, of not just scofflaws but outright criminals.

It's been months now that this government has been warned about the backlog in our criminal courts and about the inevitability of Askov and Melo applications being made. It was warned; it was put on notice, it did nothing, it chose to ignore the warnings presented to it, and lo and behold, we've witnessed members of the bench using Askov to dismiss, in the recent past, some very serious charges where justice will never be done, from any number of persons' points of view, because the Attorney General -- I suppose we shouldn't be overly surprised.

The Ministry of the Attorney General and the Attorney General, that's where the buck stops. He mismanaged; please, he mismanaged the family support plan. It goes beyond mismanagement. It was the height of incompetence, it was bungling, it was cruel to the women and children who depended upon him, as the Attorney General, to ensure that they received the payments that were being made by their spouses or former spouses for the support of themselves and their children.


You know what happened, Speaker. The Attorney General shut down eight regional offices of the family support plan. He terminated some 290-plus employees, experienced staff people. Then he stood in this House day after day, as members of the opposition caucuses, and certainly New Democrats, presented him with question after question about why it was that this person in this community and this woman in this community and that woman and her children in that community all of a sudden, come fall 1996, weren't getting the family support cheques they were entitled to.

This is where the mega-stuff comes in. He created a mega-plan. Now that we know what his mega-plan consisted of, we have every reason to doubt anything mega that comes out of this government. We're going to talk about megacity in just a little bit. As a matter of fact, we're going to talk about the presentation over at the Bluma Appel Theatre last Sunday night by Toronto Artists for Democracy and some of the things that were said there and some of the presentations that were made to a packed house at that theatre here in the city of Toronto.

We've got, among other things, two senior, highly regarded, well-respected jurists in this province, one known to all of us, Chief Justice McMurtry, and Chief Justice LeSage, both of them telling this government in no uncertain terms -- they aren't beating around the bush -- that this government's failure, and very specifically telling the Attorney General he's the one responsible, that the Attorney General's incompetence with respect to the functioning of our courts is creating backlogs in the criminal justice system that are going to result in charges being stayed or turfed by virtue of the application of Askov, and in civil matters are going to cause grief, hardship and costs to civil litigants, little people who are trying to access the courts to obtain some redress for a wrong done to them or collect some money that's owed to them or make sure that a home repair contract that was fouled up is remedied.

Let me tell you what Chief Justice McMurtry said. He said, "While lipservice is being paid within the ranks of government to the importance of the justice system, the priorities are elsewhere when it actually comes to allocating funds." That's what Chief Justice McMurtry said. Justice LeSage echoed that, indicating essentially that a shortage of funds is backlogging both the civil and criminal justice systems. It's not the first time these two jurists have taken this government to task. They did it back in February 1996. Justice McMurtry talked about the prospect of civil chaos and perhaps even violence. I tell you, he's a very cautious person. He's not inclined to make off-the-cuff kinds of comments.

How does the Ministry of the Attorney General respond? Here we have two senior, respected judges telling the Attorney General that all hell's going to break loose in our courts, in our civil and criminal justice systems. What does a source within the Ministry of the Attorney General say about these judges? I'm going to tell you. This is a quote. This is what the Ministry of the Attorney General said about these two distinguished judges: "All they have to do is burp, fart or belch and it's on the front page. I think they believe they are trying to help, but they aren't." The same spokesperson for the ministry goes further and says, "I have three words for what the chief justices are doing: `Out of touch.'"

Speaking of being out of touch, Speaker, I think a few more members should be in touch, at least in sufficient numbers to constitute a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would the table check for a quorum, please.

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: The Chair recognizes the member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: Thank you kindly, Speaker. The Ministry of the Attorney General is treating two of our most senior justices with outright contempt. That's a very troubling thing coming directly from the Attorney General's ministry, an incredibly troubling thing. Clearly the Attorney General doesn't have a handle on things. There is no control. He simply doesn't care or is disinclined to express or exercise any interest in what's happening in our courts, no more so than he was inclined to express any interest in what was happening up in Downsview in the family support plan office.

You know what happened there. Shelley Martel, the member for Sudbury East, and I, after hearing the Attorney General day after day after day tell us that these cases after cases after cases were but glitches in his grand mega-FSP, took a ride up to Downsview with a video camera. What we found was an office that was in total chaos, was still in packing crates. We found confidential files in unsealed boxes in public hallways to which anybody -- and we did have access; the most egregious breach of any sense of responsibility. The Attorney General clearly blew it; he didn't have a handle on that either.

Also, you know Judge Derek Hogg over in the Etobicoke court, a provincial judge, just the other day raised again his concern about the incredible backlogs -- as I say, he's out in Etobicoke; they have incredible backlogs there -- and the risk of cases never coming to trial, being stayed or turfed out because of undue delay. Again, it's something that falls firmly at the feet of the Attorney General.

We can't trust him to run the criminal justice system; he's demonstrated that. We can't trust him to supervise the civil justice system; he's demonstrated that. His incompetence is so prevailing that we can't trust him to run the family support plan; he's demonstrated that.

How, then, can we trust him when he presents Bill 108 and describes it as an act to reduce duplication and streamline administration? How can we trust him to do that? It's short title is Streamlining of Administration of Provincial Offences Act. It's horse feathers. It has nothing to do with streamlining; it has to do very much with downloading the cost and responsibility for prosecuting on to municipalities. This government has no intention of clearing up the backlogs in our criminal courts. It talks a big game when it comes to protecting people from criminals, it talks a real big game, but it just doesn't deliver.


Oh, there's all the talk in the world about mega-jails and boot camps. One day they're boot camps and the next day they're not, but at the end of the day it's still the same proposition -- absolute failures in the United States, absolute failures. They do nothing to reduce the rate of repeat offences. They've been proven to be schools for criminals, breeding grounds for crime, for young and old inmates alike. They're absolute failures in the United States, all the more so when run by the private sector, which is what this government proposes to do.

They talk a big game about protecting communities. They didn't protect women and their children who have relied upon their former spouses' support cheques to carry them through all the seasons, to carry them through Christmastime and through the coldest season of the year. They were getting eviction notice after eviction notice and they were having their utilities cut off, hydro and gas, and they were losing their telephone services and they were going with no groceries and the kids weren't getting winter boots because the Attorney General was holding on to the money that was being paid into the system by their spouses.

We're not talking hundreds and thousands, we're talking literally millions of dollars and thousands of kids who tramped through slushy, winter streets in ragged, holey sneakers when they should have been wearing boots. The Attorney General's inability, his incompetence in the administration of the family support plan left those kids without those winter boots that the support money would have permitted them to have.

Here we've got Bill 108. Here we've got a Ministry of the Attorney General that speaks in such a flippant way about chief justices: "All they have to do is burp, fart or belch and it's on the front page." It goes on to say that they're "out of touch." Out of touch, my foot. This government's out of touch. If you want to pick a single minister who's out in orbit, the Attorney General is it. People know it, and they know it in increasing numbers.

Look at the rallying. Look at the mobilization of people. I know there have been megacity meetings. I've sat in from time to time, when I've been able to, on Bill 103 megacity hearings to listen to the presentations made. I don't know where the support is for this government's agenda. It's not from the people coming forward to any of these committees. I've sat there patiently saying, "I'm waiting for maybe one presenter, other than the Premier's ex-chauffeur, who supports this agenda." Once again, it's like Diogenes with the lamp; he simply couldn't find one. We're not going to find one among this government's ranks. I couldn't find support for the government's agenda.

I was over last Sunday night to the Bluma Appel Theatre at the St Lawrence Centre. Toronto Artists for Democracy, an ad hoc group thrown together very quickly, put on a wonderful concert. There were poets there, singers, songwriters, playwrights, actors, actresses. There was a great performance by Linda Griffiths, and Nancy White was there. You know Nancy White, the great satirical singer; she's from the east cost. She did the sort of stuff that Nancy White does best. June Callwood was there, and she was described there as Canada's most compassionate woman and probably one of the most intelligent as well. She spoke. Thomson Highway, Atom Egoyan, and a great pair of poets, Shafik, people like Salome Bey and the Barenaked Ladies were there. That's a musical group, Speaker. The Barenaked Ladies were there, but just half of them, and Moxy Früvous were there -- great political, satirical singer-songwriters. There was a poem by Bob Priest, who's a well-known Toronto poet, that was put to song. It was called Free Ontario, and they sang it there.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): Why don't you sing it for us?

Mr Kormos: The poem? I will. The poem went like this, and they performed this. They said:

We're gonna clean out the Eves, chase off the thieves,

tell Mike Harris where to go.

We're gonna flush 'em down the drain,

pull the Leach from our veins, and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

and Mike keeps Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dopes back to the slopes,

and free Ontario.

And when we kick out their butts, we'll cut all the cuts,

just tell them, megacity, no.

We're going to break off our chains,

pull the Leach from our veins, and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

they all keep Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dinks back to the links,

and free Ontario.

That was Robert Priest, a poem by a Toronto poet that was put to music, and I very much wanted to put that on the record here at the Legislature.

I think it's important that some of my colleagues understand what people are saying out there, what the sentiments are that are being expressed. They were looking to free Ontario. They're gonna send all those dopes back to the slopes and free Ontario. "We're gonna send all those dinks back to the links and free Ontario."

I was moved by that. I felt the passion of the poet while that song was being sung. As a matter of fact, first Robert Priest sang it -- I suppose he's a poet-singer -- and then an ensemble, the choir on bikes, sang it, along with Stop Amalgamation. It was a great concert. I wish you had been there. I would have been able to get you a ticket and you would have been more than welcome. I don't think you would have been breaching any of your independence or violating any of the standards that are imposed on you as a Speaker by having gone there.

I would have loved to have the Attorney General there. I suspect he wasn't spending his Sunday night worrying about the overcrowded courts. He was probably more worried about how he could create a leaked, non-attributed statement out of his office dumping all over two senior jurists and referring to them as "out of touch." That's his idea of spin control. That's it. That's as good as it gets, to have an unnamed source from within the Ministry of the Attorney General. I think I know who it is too, quite frankly. I think I know who it is. Enough said, but I'm pretty sure I know who it is, because they don't have much variety over there. They use the same hack to keep doing this sort of spin, if you can call it spin doctoring by any stretch of the imagination.

It was interesting, because here we have the megacity issue, and again it's no coincidence that megacity is happening at the same time as all the downloading; dumping, if you will. It's the Harris dump on the people of Ontario. Harris is taking a dump on the people of Ontario. He's dumping on to them costs and expenses that were never meant to be in the realm of municipalities, relieving the province of those obligations and dumping them on to property taxpayers. People who are fighting the megacity know that. The people who were up at the Toronto Artists for Democracy presentation over at the Bluma Appel Theatre last Sunday know that too.

I'll tell you who else knows it, Speaker. I was in St Catharines last night over at the CAW Local 199 hall on Bunting Road. As a matter of fact, I've been invited there along with every other MPP from Niagara. There are six of us now, of course. With the anti-democratization of the Legislature by this government, there are only going to be four MPPs representing the regional municipality of Niagara. So all six MPPs had been invited by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association to meet with them and their members, teachers from the English Catholic schools in Lincoln -- that's Niagara north -- over at the Canadian Auto Workers hall, Local 199. I had been invited; the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, had been invited; the member from down in southern Niagara, Mr Hudak, had been invited; the member for Niagara Falls, Mr Maves, had been invited; the member for Lincoln, Mr Sheehan, had been invited; and the member for St Catharines-Brock, Mr Froese, had been invited.


The member for St Catharines knew I was going to go down there and I know I left before he did, but he got there before I did. I don't know how that happened. Maybe that's a provincial offences issue in its own right. I hit some bad traffic, and he clearly had smooth sailing. But the member for St Catharines was there. He had no difficulty getting from the Legislature down to meet with teachers. They are constituents, after all. I didn't have that much trouble getting out of the Legislature and going down to meet with teachers. They are my constituents, and I am concerned about what happens to them and I'm interested in what they've got to say. Who wouldn't be?

I appreciate that one, maybe even two or possibly even three of the other four members, the government members, may not have been able to get there -- they might have had pressing duties here at Queen's Park -- but none of the four was able to get there. They were conspicuous by their absence, conspicuous, I say.

Here we are. It's part and parcel of what's happening in the Harris dump on to municipalities and municipal taxpayers, part and parcel of the megacity, part and parcel of Bill 104 as well, which is "The Defunding of Education in the Province of Ontario Act." That's what it is. It's the gutting of public education here in Ontario.

I tell you -- and this is one of the things I wanted to raise with the Catholic teachers at that meeting last night -- it also could well be the back-door attack on Catholic education in the province. Bill 104 has basically neutered, nullified any of the significance of local boards of education, and in any event, has made them so big that local boards of education have no control whatsoever. They're but rubber stamps for the Minister of Education and, more significantly, the backroom gang in the Ministry of Education that's going to call the shots.

The process of defunding -- that's what Bill 104 does -- public education in Ontario, be it Catholic or non-Catholic, is a devastating attack on our children and on our young people. Although Bill 104 impacts on what historically and traditionally were locally controlled and primarily locally funded forms of education, colleges and universities are under attack too. If you don't think they are, pay closer attention.

I'm looking for the Common Sense Revolution. It's a slippery little thing; it slides all over the place. Revolutions are like that. This government wants to turn the clock back 40 years. In the Common Sense Revolution alone, the fact was bemoaned that students pay such a small percentage, by way of tuition, of their cost of education at the university. It bemoans that fact and refers to the good old days back in the 1950s when the percentage paid by students was much higher than now.

You see, I remember the good old days, only they weren't so good for working people and their children when it came to university education, because those good old days that the Tories hanker after were days when the children of working families didn't get a chance to go to college or university. They simply didn't. There was no room for them in our colleges and universities. There wasn't. Colleges and universities were the enclave of the children of the very rich. If you were a paperworker down in Thorold, it was but a dream to think of your kid going to university, if your kid was university age in 1950, 1951, 1952 -- the good old days, as the Tories would speak of them.

We've got folks here from Thorold right now. I've got Mayor Mal Woodhouse from Thorold and some of his staff. They know what I'm talking about. They remember the "good old days," when workers had six-day workweeks and when there were no pension plans and when social assistance was called relief and it was controlled by the city administrator, who could arbitrarily decide who was eligible and who wasn't. They're not quite old enough, but they may have recalled their parents talk about the "good old days" when the straw boss at the factory needed a bottle of whisky a week or a little bit of your paycheque if he was going to give you a job that week, or he wanted your wife or your daughter. Don't tell me that didn't happen. That happened. Those were the "good old days."

Well, working people didn't think they were that good. Working people, people who worked in the paper mills of Thorold or in the steel mills of Welland, yes, and the car plants of St Catharines, said, "No, these aren't the sort of good things I want for my children." Working people -- and a lot of them are old folks now; some of them are gone -- understood that it was important to work together, to work, dare I say it, collectively. They understood that it was important to build public things that were owned by the whole community, and they did.

Those hospitals down in Niagara that this gang wants to shut down, the Hotel Dieu or the Port Colborne General or Lincoln's hospital, don't belong to this government to shut down. They belong to the people of those communities. It's the working people of those communities and their parents and their parents before them who built those hospitals brick by brick and paid for them dollar by dollar with subscriptions off their paycheques and with their tax dollars, who did it because they remember the days before public health care. They remember not being able to take their kids to a doctor because they simply didn't have the money and they remember the tragedies that flowed from kids who weren't treated adequately or in time. They remember.

Down where I come from, there's a whole lot of families from southern and eastern Europe, back from the 1930s and 1940s and into the 1950s, and now we've got people from all over the world coming into Niagara. But those people who came from southern Europe or from eastern Europe as often as not came to this country with no education, none whatsoever, came from tiny villages in Calabria or Abruzzi or from places like where my grandparents came from, in eastern Slovakia, or the Ukraine or Poland or any number of countries. Any number of them came here with literally no education.

They came here only with hearsay, third-party information about what they were expecting to find. They found of course that the streets weren't lined with gold, but they worked and they organized themselves and they built communities and they built public things, they built public hospitals and they built public schools, and yes, they built universities.

You listen from time to time -- I know you do -- to the Minister of Education; from time to time is more than sufficient. But you listen to the Minister of Education from time to time and you hear him talk about the number of reports on education. I happen to remember -- and again I won't mince words -- it was a real Progressive Conservative government, several decades ago now, that broke the barriers to universities and colleges. That's when you saw universities like York University and Brock University in St Catharines being built. Universities were being opened to children of working families in a way that they weren't ever before. That's when you saw the growth, in the late 1960s, the mid-1960s, of community colleges. Mayor Woodhouse knows a lot about community colleges. That's when you saw this incredible growth that was designed to make post-secondary education accessible to everybody.


Did it require an investment of money? Of course it did. Were our parents and grandparents more than pleased to invest that money? Of course they were, because they knew what it meant for their children and maybe even more importantly for their grandchildren.

These are the same colleges and universities that this government has every intention of turning once again into élite schools for the children of only the very wealthy. You heard the Minister of Education say it. He complained, "We've got too many overeducated young people." What a dumb thing to say, an absolutely dumb thing to say. We still don't rank very well internationally when it comes to literacy. We don't stand very well when it comes to retention, that is, the number of kids who stay in high school long enough to graduate. Yet this government wants to start turning the clock back.

I was up at York University with David Artemiw, a first year student and a student activist up at York. He was one of the people, under the leadership of the York Federation of Students, the YFS, who, I think it was on February 9, began the occupation of the president's office. They were in there for five or six days, around the clock, and they brought attention to the fact that this government doesn't want David Artemiw in university, or others like him. This government simply doesn't want David Artemiw in university, doesn't think he deserves or is deserving of a university education.

This government is forcing up tuition rates to the point where the David Artemiws of Ontario simply won't be able to afford, simply won't have access to, university. It doesn't want David Artemiw to be well educated. It doesn't want to see a well-educated, highly skilled workforce, because that isn't in tune or consistent with this government's goal of creating a low-wage economy. That's very much a part of this goal, the creation of a low-wage economy.

I'll tell you this, I'm proud of the students who mobilized and organized and took on this government in the offices of the president of York University. I was proud to go there and speak with them around a week and a half ago, where they were rallied in their rotunda. I was proud of them. I explained to them that students historically and internationally have been at the leading edge of social change.

As the students mobilize and gather in larger and larger numbers at York, as they are in Guelph and in Ottawa and in downtown Toronto and in Windsor, across this province, and as they speak with fellow students about what this government has in mind for them, I'm convinced their numbers are going to grow and that movement is going to overflow the boundaries of the university campuses and infiltrate communities across this province.

Let me talk to their parents, because their parents are the ones who had dreams for their children. Their parents are the ones who did without, who sacrificed, who forewent vacations and holidays and restaurant meals hoping that their kids were going to have a university education that maybe they didn't, and maybe enjoy a little bit of the wealth and affluence and prosperity that indeed exists here in this province but -- you talk about trickle down -- doesn't seem to be trickling down very well at all.

And jobs? The sad reality is, as David Artemiw knows -- Larry Savage from Brock University is here too and he knows -- there are more jobless people in this province today than there were a year ago. That's what Mike Harris and the Tory regime have done for workers in this province. Unemployment is higher than it was a year ago, and unemployment among young people is, I tell you, double what it is for their parents.

Would these young people love to be able to work to help support themselves through their university or college educations? Of course they would. But you see, the jobs that students used to do are now being done by their parents: the Wal-Mart jobs, the McDonald's jobs. Go there. The jobs that young people used to do on weekends and in the evenings and during the summer are now being done by their parents, who have been forced out of their workplaces or who are retired and can no longer rely on their modest pensions for a decent retirement and at the ages of 65 and 70 -- yes, 70 -- are forced to take on low-wage jobs with the parasites like Wal-Mart. Those jobs aren't there for students any more. They simply aren't there for the students. The jobs that students used to do are being performed now by their parents.

Let's understand that in this government's drive for lower and lower wages -- I've got to tell you for just a minute. I've told you before. Stelpipe, Page-Hersey down in Welland is still on strike. It's been since November of last year. All those workers are looking for is a little bit of parity, something akin to parity with other Stelco employees in other Stelco divisions when it comes to pensions, and they'd like to have something more akin to parity when it comes to wages too. They've made a lot of money for Stelco-Stelpipe, Page-Hersey over the years; they've made a lot of money for these guys. They've been out on the sidewalks, hitting the bricks, for months now. But you know, every Friday night there's a dinner over at the CAW hall -- it used to be the United Electrical Workers hall -- over on Steel Street down the south end of Welland, just behind Mark Evans's law office at the end of King Street, where King Street meets Ontario Road. Each week a different group, including retailers, sponsors the dinner, provides the food.

On the wall of the CAW hall is a list of all the small businesses from Welland who have supported the strike. You see, business people in Welland understand that without labour unions and without strong workers' organizations and without decent wages, small business is doomed. Small business people in Welland, whether it's the book exchange down at the south end of King Street or Marg McPherson's For the Love of Books up at the north end of King Street, know that if workers aren't making decent wages, they're not selling their wares, they're simply not selling their wares. You take a look at the wall of the CAW hall and you see the small business and their support.

Bill 108 is relevant, as this is relevant to Bill 108. Just the other week some real estate agents and salespeople -- Helen Brown, from Helen Brown Real Estate, organized them, because Helen Brown said: "Darn it, these workers buy and sell their houses. Why shouldn't real estate people be supporting these workers when they need their help?" Helen Brown organized a collection -- she did -- of real estate agents and they went down there and supported the Stelco-Stelpipe, Page-Hersey workers by sitting in on their Friday evening dinner. She's going to keep doing it and she's going to keep doing it again.

One of the problems we're witnessing down in Niagara is things like the privatization and shutdown of the Niagara Detention Centre. That's why the mayor of Thorold is here, because he's concerned about it and the jobs being lost as a result of this government's disdain for efficient and modern detention centres, like the Niagara Detention Centre is. Total disdain is what this government has. This government's shutting down workplaces and it's also killing jobs. Taxfighter, my foot; Jobkiller is more like it.


Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: They seem to be shutting down this workplace as well. We do not have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would the table check for a quorum, please.

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

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

Mr Kormos: During the course of Bill 108 we've got to be careful not to isolate it, not to take it outside the perspective.

The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale -- were you here, Speaker, when I read the correspondence he sent to one of his constituents? His constituents had written to him condemning Bill 103 and megacity and saying they wanted nothing to do with it, and that they thought it was the most evil proposition that could ever be encountered. What does the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale write back? "Thank you very much for your support for the government's Bill 103." He signed it. I've got the letter.

I warned these people that they're liable to end up on his fund-raising list.

That happens from time to time. Where's he from? What's his name? James Flaherty from Durham Centre. The member for Durham Centre did that. He did that with some folks from Niagara Falls who appeared at the slot machine hearings down in Fort Erie. They appeared there condemning it, and then she gets a letter asking her to donate money to the Conservative Party of Ontario.

Well, not on a bad day or a good day either -- please. Besides, these guys got money. They've got it coming out of their ying-yangs. You know that. The corporate world's going to finance all the third-party ad campaigns these guys want because they're doing their bidding. That's why they're opening the door to privatization of firefighting. We know that. Firefighters know that.

Mike Harris promised firefighters -- and this was on videotape too. I've got to confess neither Shelley Martel, the member for Sudbury East, or I had anything to do with that videotape. As matter of fact, silly goose, I think he made it himself. Boy, dumb or dumber?

The Premier made the videotape himself promising firefighters that there wouldn't be any changes to firefighting legislation without thorough consultation with them. The Premier put it on videotape. Holy zonkers. Because, sure enough, he used that videotape and he used firefighters during the course of the election campaign to get elected. He distributed the videotape.

We've got Bill 84, which is as distinct and pointed an attack on professional firefighting as could ever be launched. The firefighters were here the other day. You were here on Monday, Speaker, you saw them. They filled the gallery, firefighters from across southern Ontario. There were folks here from Welland, Hamilton, Stoney Creek, from every municipality in the Toronto and greater Toronto area. All looking squarely at the Premier with distrust in their eyes and fear about what the Premier of this province is going to do to professional firefighting because he's proposing to permit it to be privatized.

"Impossible," you say. I've had people -- because I've made that proposition to you, as firefighters have -- say: "What do you mean `privatize'? How do you privatize firefighting?" People say: "No, please. Most of the other stuff you say we're on side with, but we can't buy into privatizing. How can you privatize? It's impossible."

Our good friends -- well, really, their good friends from Rural/Metro that they've permitted to buy up ambulance services here in the province of Ontario, that American company that wants to do ambulance service American style right here in Ontario, big city and small town alike, they were over at the city of Waterloo talking to the CAO of that city just a few weeks ago making their pitch to privatize Waterloo's firefighting services.

Why do they do it? They do it because of the big profits they can make. How do they do it? They do it by imposing workweeks for firefighters of up to 66 hours, they do it by paying minimum wage or only slightly better and they do it by charging households to whom they bring their firefighting services.

We had news reports from down near Phoenix, Arizona, where Rural/Metro is right in the swing of things, right in the game. I read to you, Speaker, the news report of one woman who stood there and watched her house burn because Rural/Metro only had three and a half minutes of water in their pumper truck. That was it: Three and a half minutes and it was gone. They still billed her $13,000.

Another homeowner watched the fire truck break down in front of their house while the flames were roaring through the roof, watched their house burn down while the tow-truck came to tow Rural/Metro's private fire truck away from the scene. They were billed too. That's what privatized firefighting services mean.

This government is inviting, embracing -- this government is engaged right now in an orgy of privatization. Its impact on Canadian communities and Ontario communities is going to be significant. The people who are prepared to make the big profits -- you heard Mr Bradley, the member for St Catharines, talk about me having said it last night at OECTA, Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, down in St Catharines, CAW Local 199 hall on Bunting Road -- they're lined up at the Peace Bridge a mile long and three wide, American operators, to take over public institutions and public services that Ontarians built and paid for and that are being confiscated, that are being, quite frankly, stolen from Ontario's municipalities by this government that's far more beholden to its American-based corporate friends than it ever will be to taxpayers and residents of Ontario.

Speaker, do I detect the absence of a quorum? I see a minion running to haul them out of the back rooms. Let's halt the quorum call and see if we can drag some of these -- let's not embarrass them with another quorum call. I'll just mention the fact that there isn't a quorum, but, please, I'm not raising a quorum. I just want to see if the people are hauling those people in. If anybody's got food stains on their tie, don't be embarrassed. Here we are waiting for them.

I don't know, Speaker, do you think there's a quorum yet? Come on, guys, we're trying to avoid the embarrassment of a quorum call. How are we doing? Is this it? Is this as good as we get? I'll carry on and give them a couple more minutes, see if they can get their act together.

This is the sort of incompetence that destroyed the family support plan and that's creating lineups in our courtrooms that are setting criminals free.


What exactly does the government have in mind with Bill 108? Is it what it appears to be? The government's going to download the prosecution of -- I can see there's some logic, some common sense. Lord knows I don't see much of it around here, but there was some to having municipalities prosecute parking tickets, of course, because inevitably it was municipal bylaws officers who handed the tickets out.

I talked to some provincial prosecutors -- not a crown attorney, but one of those people who do the provincial prosecutions. Talk about people who perform much of the same job as crown attorneys and are as bright as any crown attorney I ever knew and as hardworking as any crown attorney I ever knew and as vigorous. Listen, you get cross-examined by Anne Swayze down in Welland some day and you know what a vigorous cross-examination is, but they're paid far less than crown attorneys are.

Here they are being sloughed off, being told to prosecute stuff that's -- this is what's so weird about this legislation, because the agreement is going to designate certain stuff to be the responsibility of the municipality to prosecute. One of the problems in regional Niagara is that the municipality is the regional municipality of Niagara, but we have judicial districts of Niagara north and Niagara south. It's going to be a little interesting.

Mind you, municipalities like the city of Welland, the city of Thorold, the city of Niagara Falls each have their own bylaws officers who prosecute bylaws. The real hook here -- the lure rather -- is the proposition that cities might be able to keep the fines that are levied. What dirty dogs these people must be to politicize the criminal justice system like that. Look at the pressures that are going to be on -- well, think about it. I've got a feeling that part of the deal is paying for the justice of the peace as well.

There might be some other people in this room who are familiar with the prospect of JP shopping. There are some JPs who will do it; there are some JPs who just won't. I'm told -- this may not be true; this might be apocryphal -- that there are some JPs who aren't as ready to grant a search warrant. They're a little more rigid in the standards they impose on police officers applying for them. But there's a payback time. When the staff sergeant or the inspector wants a JP to come in to sign a bunch of informations for which the JP, if he or she is not a salaried JP, gets a buck a piece, it's inevitably the JP who tends to be somewhat more favourable -- and this doesn't happen everywhere or all the time -- to the investigating officers when they want a search warrant on, let's say, an informant who is unnamed but otherwise known as a reliable informant. Those are the sort of informations that search warrants from time to time are given on, which are held with some scepticism by some people in the criminal justice system.

I can see here a municipality, for instance, leaning in ever-so-subtle ways. Most JPs, all of them, wouldn't want to be leaned on and would want to be strong in their resistance to this sort of pressure, but there are ways of getting to people. We shouldn't even be assisting in creating a scenario where that can even be possible. There's going to be pressure on municipalities, for instance, because this contemplates municipalities prosecuting Highway Traffic Act speeding offences. The kickback, according to the government -- and who can believe them any more? -- for the municipality is going to be that it gets to keep the fine.

Why I speak about this is the politicization of the criminal justice system. You've already heard comments about this. You heard it from the member for St Catharines. I'll echo them because I share his views on this. You're talking about the Boss Hogg type of policing and about the sort of stuff that -- we've talked so many times about how Mike Harris and his gang -- what was it they called them, his gang of dinks being sent back to the links. That's what the poem says, "We're going to send all those dinks back to the links, and free Ontario."

Mike Harris and his gang are Americanizing this great province, turning it into the Mississippi or the Alabama of the north. I was struck by the reference of the member for St Catharines, Mr Bradley, to the all-so-common American speed trap down in the south. I've got nothing against the south or Americans or southerners. The fact is it's a reality, because of the nature of financing some of those communities, that yes, they've got speed traps and police have been politicized. What's going to happen if there's pressure on police to be out there with limited and scarce resources is that again we're facing the prospect of privatized police.

This government has already generated privatization of policing. In the city of St Catharines, along Ontario Street there is a business strip that has felt compelled -- no criticism of the Niagara Regional Police, but just understand that the resources being made available to the Niagara Regional Police are so limited they can't adequately patrol that commercial strip along Ontario Street. There are a lot of car dealerships. There have been incidents of vandalism, that sort of thing. So they hired a private policing firm.

That's what the privatization of policing is all about and this government, as much as it's opening the door to privatized firefighting services, is opening the door to the privatization of policing.

We're talking here about a bill that, yes, had a great risk of politicizing the police, politicizing our criminal justice system, politicizing the provincial prosecutors, politicizing the courts, and I don't like the prospect of it at all, at all, at all.

The other question is, this government doesn't make a deal. This government talks about partnerships, partnerships with municipalities. Municipalities aren't partners of this government; they're hostages of this government. They've got no choice. They're having a number done on them.

Let me tell you what's happening in regional Niagara alone. The downloading, the Harris dump on Niagara, is going to create a shortfall of $73 million. In other words, taxes for regional Niagara are going to have to go up by the tune of at least $73 million. That's over 400 bucks a household, sir. For the seniors I know, that's an awful lot of money; for the young families I know, that's an awful lot of money; for the single mothers I know, that's an awful lot of money; and for the hardworking women and men I know in Niagara and Welland-Thorold and through Pelham and across the region, that's an awful lot of money.

I'll tell you what that dump is going to mean. It's going to mean that seniors are going to lose their homes. I know it. But then where do they go to? To 211 King Street. That's social housing. It's non-profit housing and it's a wonderful complex. It's beautiful, right on King Street in Welland, across from the Welland Flower Shop. It faces on to King Street, but then the back of the building looks over the old Welland Canal.

It's a beautiful location, right in downtown Welland and the apartments are small square footage, designed for seniors and easy to maintain. There's a social room and a rec room and there are all sorts of activities that go on in the building. I can't think of a senior who has moved there who hasn't enjoyed it and who hasn't found some dignity and companionship and a decent lifestyle in his or her senior years.

The waiting list, I tell you, is long, and this government, Mike Harris and his cohorts, have abandoned 211 King Street in Welland. They're going to shut her down. Another selloff to their corporate friends who will pick it up, oh, in a New York minute and who will charge rents as much as the market can bear, because don't forget this is the government that took away rent control.


Those seniors, I'll tell you, people like Oral Blackbeard -- she died a few weeks ago. She had lived at 211 King Street for a good chunk of time until she had to go into the hospital, and thank God she went into the hospital when she did, because if she had fallen sick now, she'd probably be sitting in a hallway and suffering the indignity of that. She had to go into the hospital a few years ago, and back then hospitals were still being sufficiently and adequately funded that they had space for her. Oral Blackbeard, she died a good age. She had a lot of decades under her belt and got to see her grandkids grown up, and great-grandkids to boot, from out in Xela, Saskatchewan, down in the southeast. I visited the town. It's sort of a ghost town now because it no longer exists. But she came down here during the war when women came down to work in places like some of the steel mills and in cotton mills, in war production. Women like Oral, oh yes, they worked.

She was a believer in public institutions. She believed in 211 King Street. She understood that the rents there were moderate and affordable because there was a level of subsidization. I know that too, and every taxpayer in the city of Welland knows it and every taxpayer in the city of Welland feels proud of buildings like 211 King Street, because it's going to be their parents and then them who are going to be lined up after maybe their spouse has to be hospitalized or passes on. It's going to be them lined up looking for affordable, clean, decent, warm, comfortable and sociable accommodations in social housing like 211 King Street.

This government doesn't care about the people who live in 211 King Street. This government is prepared to put them out on the street. They're prepared to put them in cardboard packing boxes, living in alleyways. If you think the folks aren't doing that, take a walk. Come take a walk with me, and we can talk to some seniors on the street, huddled under scraps of blankets, trying to protect themselves from the cold, seniors abandoned by this government and its policies. I tell you, the numbers are going to increase in ways that our worst nightmares never anticipated.

Again, if you think this is some sort of fiction, come take a walk with me. We'll go to any number of hostels operated out of church halls, and they're makeshift hostels. They don't have showers. They don't have tubs. They don't have enough washroom facilities. People can't clean up. Some of them are day hostels and some are night hostels. Come take a walk with me, Speaker. We won't have to walk far, we won't have to walk long, to talk to some of the old folks out in the cold this winter here in Toronto, the ones who survived, because a few have their lives taken by the cold, and I suppose the loneliness and the tragedy of a government that simply doesn't care about old people, nor about poor people, nor, increasingly so, about the sick.

One wonders why the act, Bill 108, wouldn't have been more specific about which offences were going to be transferred down to municipalities to prosecute. One would have wondered why the bill wouldn't be more specific about whether municipalities were going to have to pay just for the prosecution. I think inherent in this is making municipalities pick up the tab for courtroom space, for court clerks, for interpreters and translators, the people who record what happens in courts, for the security for courtrooms, be it civilian security, lay security or police security. This isn't about streamlining. Streamlining, my foot. It's about downloading.

Charlie Harnick goofed up, he fouled up miserably, tragically, the family support plan, and now he's leaving another mess behind him in the criminal justice system and he's looking to municipalities, which have already had the big dump done to them, have already had the boots put to them, to pick up some of the tab for a criminal justice system that I tell you is faltering under the guidance -- dare we call it that? -- of this Attorney General. He's the one whose inner circle says about Justice McMurtry and Justice LeSage, "Oh, they're out of touch." They think that "All they have to do is burp, fart or belch and it's on the front page" of the papers.

That's what the Attorney General says about Chief Justice LeSage and Chief Justice McMurtry.

Mr Gerretsen: That's horrible.

Mr Kormos: It's contemptuous.

Mrs Boyd: And contemptible.

Mr Kormos: And contemptible, as the member for London Centre so appropriately points out. And more so, it's purposeful. You know how these leaks -- this isn't a leak. This isn't some malcontent staffer of Mr Harnick. This is a planted comment. These things are planted. You know that. There's all these little spin doctors and minions and worker bees running around here writing up little lines and doing damage control and spin on this and spin on that.

What did we hear from the Minister of Housing today? Wait a minute. This was beautiful, and I hope he didn't contract out for this, but he acknowledged -- here he is, he's stuck with it -- the No vote is going to be mammoth. Right? So Al -- I'm sorry, not Al. Maybe his dog Tory calls him Al, but I certainly can't, least of all here in the Legislature. But the Minister of Housing says, "Yeah, there's going to be a massive No vote, but you see, it's because people are angry about little bits and pieces of stuff that the government's doing all over the place; it's not a real reflection of how people feel about megacity." That's the minister's latest spin on it.

I encouraged him today that if he paid for it on a contract service, he should get his money back, because that's a really bad one, it really is. That one doesn't carry much currency. The press gallery's eyes didn't light up. Because you can watch up here, you can watch the press gallery, and if Christina Blizzard's examining the paintings up on the ceiling there, you know that whatever it is that's being said ain't going to be in her column the next day. And Al Leach was up there saying, "I know there's going to be a massive No vote, but it's got to do with things other than megacity." These people are really expressing their dissatisfaction, I suppose, with the climate or the weather or the level of carbon monoxide in downtown Toronto. Give me a break.

Again, that's the sort of spin doctoring -- comments like these, really obnoxious comments, from Mr Harnick's ministry about two respected judges. They aren't accidents; they aren't slips of the tongue. They didn't happen over at the Jack Russell around 11:30 in the evening. It happened during work hours and it was a plant. It was designed to reach the pages of the Law Times. At the end of the day, I suppose there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but this is a dumb plant. All it does is once again it cries out and draws attention to the incompetence of the Attorney General.

So we've got an incompetent Attorney General who mucked up -- use your imagination, Speaker -- mucked up the family support plan, has mucked up big time the criminal justice system and the civil justice system, and who now joins his colleagues in this attack on property taxpayers, looks to municipalities like Welland and like Thorold and like Pelham to pick up the tab for his own incompetence, his own bungling of the criminal justice system. He wants them to start picking up the tab, I'm convinced, for courtrooms, for court staff, for court security, for justices of the peace and clearly for prosecutors.


I'm not going to support that bill. Neither are the members of the New Democratic Party caucus. I've got a feeling, without them saying so specifically, that the Liberals aren't going to support it either. I can't speak for them, but I got the distinct impression that the Liberals aren't going to have nothing to do with this baloney.

Remember that line:

And when we kick out their butts we'll cut all the cuts,

just tell them megacity, no.

We're gonna break off our chains,

pull the Leach from our veins and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

they all keep Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dinks back to the links,

and free Ontario."

That's what people are thinking and singing in unison out there across the city of Toronto. That's what they think about this government's downloading.

Let me tell you about the attack on publicly funded education, part and parcel of this. People in Ontario are prepared to invest in a criminal justice system if indeed it can keep them safe and secure in their homes and on their streets and in their families. Let's find out what's happening in Mike Harris's Ontario when it comes to education.

We've got a woman called Tracey Martin. She's the mother of a six-year-old in grade 2 in Kitchener. Recently when Ms Martin asked about her daughter's school day, she was told, "We don't go to the library any more on Mondays because of the cutbacks," because of Snobelen's attack on public education. It's not important for grade 2 six-year-olds in Kitchener, according to Mr Snobelen, to get into school libraries.

A Renfrew principal, one Michael Lavertey, over at St Joseph's high school in Renfrew wrote a letter to the Premier. It was an open letter written on October 24. He wrote the Premier saying: "Although our student population increased, we lost the equivalent of one teacher. What that did" -- he wrote -- "was close our library resource centre and caused the loss of several subjects from the curriculum." He closed his letter to the Premier by saying, "Don't tell me that cuts don't hurt kids."

Up north in Atikokan, let me tell you, the Atikokan Roman Catholic Separate School Board -- again, you're familiar with the turf. It's an isolated board where funding decisions are made directly by the ministry. Do you know what happened this year? The ministry cut the staff at St Patrick's Elementary School by half a teacher. Because operating funds are tied to the number of teachers -- this is the double whammy here -- the staff cut also meant a loss to the board of $10,000, which is equivalent to 17% of the money available for classrooms.

What does it mean for students in Atikokan at the Atikokan Roman Catholic Separate School Board? It means there's a grade 6 teacher only in the morning, and in the afternoon the grade 6, 7 and 8 classes are in full rotation so that grade 6 has a full day. There is no grade 6 home room and the students spend the last 20 minutes with whatever teacher is available.

In Trenton, back down to southern getting into eastern Ontario, the teacher there, Barb Hoddinott from St Mary's school in Trenton has 27 students in her grade 8 class, one third identified as needing help with reading, writing and oral language skills. Last year these nine students would have had four periods each week with the resource teacher. This year they get four periods every other week. This government has abandoned kids with special needs, kids who deserve more in one of the most prosperous places, if not the most affluent place, in the world, but a place where the wealth is increasingly monopolized by fewer and fewer people and fewer and fewer corporate entities.

They used to get four periods every week. Now they only get four periods, these nine kids with special needs, every other week. It's because of the cuts. It's because of this government's cuts. It's because of John Snobelen's cuts, because of Mike Harris's cuts. And let's understand that none of this happens in isolation; none of this could happen without the support of each and every one of these backbenchers. They're parties to the offence. They're aiding and abetting crimes against kids in schools, kids who are as innocent as any victim could ever be.

All the students in Barb Hoddinott's class are missing out on necessary preparation for high school, like developing research skills, because there's no librarian in the school this year. That was dismissed, you see, by the government, by Harris and the gang, as one of those out-of-classroom expenditures. The librarian was dismissed -- oh, so unnecessary -- as an out-of-classroom expenditure.

These guys just don't get it. I don't think they understand the devastation they're leaving in their wake. I don't think they understand how cruel their attacks on public education are and the savagery of those attacks and how many victims are being left behind.

Speaker, I know you've relieved the other Speaker. Did you get a chance -- I mentioned earlier the poem by Robert Priest. You didn't, Speaker? I knew you'd be interested. I was telling the other Speaker that I was up at the Toronto Artists for Democracy event. They had a concert called My City Versus Megacity, and Fiona Reid was the emcee. Wonderful people were there. June Callwood was there and great singer-songwriters. Moxy Früvous were there and actors, poets and performers. Oh, gosh, Ian Brown from CBC was there, and great poets, Shafik. In any event, Robert Priest was there. Robert Priest is a member of the cultural community here in Toronto and a poet.

Thank you, Charles. I appreciate it very much.

Mr Charles Summers: You're welcome.

Mr Kormos: I think you just got yourself on Hansard, Charles.

Mr Charles Summers: Do you know what? I told my friend to watch TV.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please.

Mr Kormos: Charles, where are you from?

Mr Charles Summers: I'm from Belleville.

Mr Kormos: Charles, from Belleville, one of our pages.

I was going to tell you, Speaker, Robert Priest, the poet, put together -- and I'm not sure it took him a long time to do it. He seems to be a rather spontaneous and creative guy. Let me share this with you, a poem by Robert Priest. He put it to music. They sang it twice. The audience loved it. I'd be loath to read this on to the record if I didn't think it was reflective, because the audience joined in. There was a chorus of over a thousand voices joining in this anthem, this new anthem, for Ontarians. It's called Free Ontario. Verse one went like this:

We're gonna clean out the Eves, chase off the thieves,

tell Mike Harris where to go.

We're gonna flush 'em down the drain,

pull the Leach from our veins and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

and Mike keeps Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dopes back to the slopes,

and free Ontario.

And when we kick out their butts, we'll cut all the cuts,

just tell them megacity, no.

We're gonna break off all our chains,

pull the Leach from our veins and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

they all keep Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dinks back to the links,

and free Ontario.

The hairs are standing up on my arms. This is a chilling anthem for desperate people here in the province of Ontario who have had enough and simply can't take any more. I'm going to send you a copy of that, Speaker. I know you'd want to keep that because people are going to be singing that on street corners. You're going to hear it -- people are going to break into song spontaneously on subways, as long as the subways keep running, until they're privatized, when the fees and tariffs go up two and three times what they are so obviously a whole lot of people won't be able to afford to take them.


The Harris agenda, when it comes to Bill 108, has nothing to do with streamlining the administration of justice. It has everything to do with cutbacks and downloading, just like education and the Harris agenda around his so-called high school reform. It's about cutbacks, not about education, Speaker. You know that. It's about cutbacks, not about education.

You know the Premier keeps talking about how the province has taken some $5 billion away from communities by virtue of assuming the cost of education. So what? Because we know he's not going to put $5.4 billion into education and he's downloaded over $8 billion on to municipalities. In regional Niagara alone, new costs necessitating new taxes of over $73 million: big bucks. A new tax load, on average, per household in regional Niagara of over $400 a year. That's a lot of money to a lot of the folks down in regional Niagara. It's all about the Harris dump.

You know that over in West Lincoln, people have been mobilizing and fighting back. They have. In one of the meetings called by the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Action Committee, a citizen's committee that's designed to save their hospitals, specifically in their case the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital -- this government wants to shut it down. This government doesn't care about the sick, the ill, the injured of West Lincoln. It doesn't want them to have a hospital. But I tell you, some 5,000 folks came out in a rally in West Lincoln a few weeks ago to say no to Mike Harris: "Our hospital is not yours to shut down."

Jim Dowden, the chair of the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Action Committee, was among the people here today to observe the vote on the private member's resolution this morning, a vote which some government members participated in by voting in support of, a vote which most government members opposed. This is where I get back to how we've got to be careful. We can't start blaming Mike Harris for all that's being done, because he can't do it without the support of his backbenchers. Let's make that perfectly clear.

The Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, you know, there he is condemning a hospital restructuring committee for shutting down the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital and condemning the lack of consultation. Where was he when they were shutting down the London Psychiatric Hospital and St Thomas Psychiatric? Where's he on that hospital shutdown? This province has historically been underserviced when it comes to psychiatric treatment and the range of facilities that are necessary to respond to the scourge of psychiatric illness, and this government's shutting them down.

Where's the Minister of Correctional Services when it comes to the London and St Thomas psychiatric hospitals? You see, he wants to appear to his constituents in his riding -- he wants to distance himself from Mike Harris all of a sudden. It's like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. "Mike? Mike who?"


Mr Kormos: Why, the member who really wants to shut down the Port Colborne hospital, that's the member for Niagara South. Oh yes, a hue and cry, he'll go to the rallies and talk about keeping that Port Colborne hospital open, but he'll still vote with this government time after time and he'll refuse to tell his constituents that the shutdown of Port Colborne General Hospital is part and parcel of a broader agenda of this government.

You can't have it both ways. You can't be a Harrisite -- which is an interesting turn of phrase because it's I suppose a play of words on parasite -- you can't be a Harrisite just part of the time. You're either with him or you're agin him. I tell you, I make no bones about it, I'm against him. There's no halfway point.

It isn't just good enough to keep the hospital open in my community, but you've got to understand that hospital shutdowns are running rampant across this province, and that they're joined with the downloading of over $8 billion on to property taxpayers across Ontario. It's inextricable from the consideration of megacity, which is the most undemocratic, indeed dictatorial imposition of government will that's taken place, I'm sure, in a long, long time.

The privatization of ambulance systems and of firefighting services, with the shutdown, among others, of the Niagara Detention Centre, one of the newest detention centres, if not the newest detention centre, in all of Ontario, one of the most efficient. This government wants to give it away so it can be run by who knows, Wackenhut with $8-an-hour employees, where inmates can be herded into huge pens where there's no rehabilitation, no corrections taking place whatsoever.

I don't know whether Bill 108 has been designated for a committee or not. I'm not sure it has.

Mrs Boyd: Four days.

Mr Kormos: I'm told it's four days. Well, good. I'm looking forward to sitting down with Mr Harnick, the Attorney General, as he is for the moment. Why don't we just cut to the quick here and why doesn't Mike Harris just tell us who the next Attorney General is going to be and let him or her sit down and talk about Bill 108.

In any event, I'm quite prepared to sit down with the Attorney General because I've got a few things I want to ask him about Bill 108, quite frankly about the family support plan, and quite frankly about the conduct of himself and his staff when they attack the messenger again.

I suppose it's a good thing that Mr Justice LeSage and Mr Justice McMurtry are judges because this Attorney General is inclined to shoot the messenger. A good thing they're judges, otherwise he would have had them arrested and charged by now. That's his style. That's the technique. You know, shoot the messenger, condemn the mere conduit of the message. Don't respond to the message. Don't investigate the significance. Condemn them, just as they have tried to do with these two esteemed judges. They're out of touch. Oh, they're out of touch.

The Attorney General's "out of touch." He's out in orbit. Lord knows, he isn't paying attention to what's going on in his ministry or in the areas, be it the justice system or the family support plan, his ministry's supposed to supervise and service. He isn't at all.

By gosh, Speaker, my time is sadly coming to an end and there are so many more things I wanted to speak about. Here we are, a bill about five, six pages long and so little time to debate it on second reading. I look forward to the questions and comments. I suspect there will be some attacks on the messenger, but that's okay because I'll have a response.


The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Newman: It's my pleasure to rise today in response to the member for Welland-Thorold. Most times when the member for Welland-Thorold has a speech in this House it has nothing to do with the bill at hand, and today is no different.

I think that we on this side have more faith in municipal governments and municipal politicians than the member opposite. A quality justice system in Ontario will be assured with the passage of Bill 108. Municipalities will be expected to uphold provincial standards in performing this role. In order to ensure program integrity, the Ministry of the Attorney General will continue to be responsible for the development and evaluation of performance and compliance standards --


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

Mr Newman: -- which will be contained in every memorandum of understanding signed by municipal partners.

Both academic and other legal experts are advising the ministry on program standards to ensure fair and equal justice province-wide. In addition, a full training program will be implemented and there is no change in the judicial role. The prosecutor's function will continue to be performed in a skilled, independent, just way, as it has always been.

The member for Welland-Thorold also touched on the topic of justices of the peace, and transferring the administration of the Provincial Offences Act to municipalities is not expected to have an impact on the requirement for the number of justices of the peace or impact their workload.

Smaller municipalities will be encouraged to work together to coordinate their service needs. The only aspect that changes is that the municipalities will take on the court administration functions, and there's no change to the judicial function which continues to be decided by justices of the peace.

The Provincial Offences Act transfer project estimates a range of potential net revenue to municipalities of between $40 million and $65 million. Obviously the fine revenue is dependent on several mitigating factors such as the number of fines laid in a given year, the payment patterns of the fines, new offences or changes in charging patterns.

Mr Gerretsen: Of course the member opposite is quite wrong when he says that the speech of the member for Welland-Thorold did not deal with the subject matter at hand, because, let's face it, this is all part of an integrated plan. This is the reason we're back here. We're back here from January until the middle of March to deal with all these different mega-announcements and the mega-changes that are taking place as far as the funding of different government programs is concerned.

By the government's own figures, we all know that $5.4 billion is being taken off the property tax roll but that $6.3 billion is being added on. This $65-million item that has been put on this chart relating to provincial offences revenues is sort of an offset against the $6.3 billion that is being downloaded on municipalities. As I've stated before, some municipalities may be able to handle it; others simply will not be able to handle it.

The other point that I'd like to return to is the notion that the government itself cannot even agree on how much money we're talking about in transferring provincial offences to the municipal level. According to their own documents, $65 million is being raised by way of revenues by municipalities, and according to the Crombie commission, which is the government's own commission, only about $30 million is being realized as a result of this transfer to the local municipalities.

I would dare say that if the government can't even get it right on such a relatively minor matter as this, can we have any faith in them at all in transfers when we're talking about $5.4 billion in the transfer from education and the $6.3-billion downloading on municipalities? I don't think so.

Mrs Boyd: We all learn a lot when the member for Welland-Thorold stands, particularly when he stands for 90 minutes as he did today. I must tell him I had missed the poem that he read to us a number of times and I want him to know that I agree with him. Given the groundswell in public opinion against this government, I think it's going to be a number one hit very soon and I'm glad he shared it with us and with the people of Ontario. I'm glad he did it in such a way that it wasn't a provincial offence, because heaven knows what might have happened.

However, all joking aside, this bill is just part of a whole general program that this government has in place, and this is the bone that is being tossed to the municipalities in the hope that they will not notice the downloading that is a huge problem for all of them, a problem that, as they study the situation and really look at what the components are, gets worse and worse.

Certainly the member mentioned some of the issues that are impinging on that even as we speak, and I will certainly say that the impact of the closure of two psychiatric hospitals in London and St Thomas will have a tremendous effect on the cost of that download to those two communities. He is right to point out that when we look at a bill like this that may be seemingly innocuous on the surface, we must look at it in context and understand that it's part of a -- if I were sure that everyone read things, because the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale was complaining that I was reading in the Legislature and seemed to think that wasn't work -- if they've read anything, I suspect it's Machiavelli's The Prince, and they've absorbed the lessons from that book very well.

Mr O'Toole: It's a pleasure today to get up and respond to the statements made by the member for Welland-Thorold. He didn't speak about the bill, but for 90 minutes he entertained us. I think he wrote the lyrics to a song.

Interjection: Is he an actor?

Mr O'Toole: Poetry in motion, you might say. But I think each one of the people participating here today learned from the member for Kingston and The Islands, who is a former mayor of Kingston, who was quick to respond to the challenge here to be a full partner with the Attorney General. Also, the member for Scarborough Centre brought us completely up to date on the thrust here of the Provincial Offences Act.

Also, I must comment that the member for London Centre, as a former Attorney General of the previous government, was quick to recognize the benefits of partnering when they downloaded -- no, I shouldn't use the word "download" -- when they transferred responsibilities down to the municipalities for traffic offences, and that was in 1993. We must recognize that the other government did some very good things. The only thing is, we're going further; we're trying to realize all of the efficiencies. I appreciate your response, because we keep a very close eye on your history, your present and your future.

I might just note that 75 municipalities were quick to get involved. The Provincial Offences Act sets out procedures to be followed under provincial statutes and municipal bylaws. Part I covers minor ticket offences, which to a large extent are being covered today. Part III offences will not be part of it. The administrative portion of the offence will be handled by the municipality. Serious traffic violations or impaired driving etc would not be handled by the municipality. But I think it's a very good opportunity for larger municipal areas to take on the responsibility that they've wanted for many years.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time is up. The member for Welland-Thorold.

Mr Kormos: There's something incredibly dangerous about believing your own advertising, and these guys fall for it all the time. They just bite. You just throw that lure out and you hook them in the upper lip quick as a boo.

I just got a telephone message. I've been talking about the anthem I've been hearing across the city, in subways, on street corners. As I'm walking down Wellesley Street to get here to Queen's Park, people are singing this, they're bursting into song spontaneously. It's a Robert Priest creation. With Robert Priest's permission -- and I spoke to the pleasure of a whole lot of people who have been singing this in their own right. Robert Priest wrote this song:

We're gonna clean out the Eves, chase off the thieves,

tell Mike Harris where to go.

We're gonna flush 'em down the drain,

pull the Leach from our veins and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

and Mike keeps Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dopes back to the slopes,

and free Ontario.

And when we kick out their butts, we'll cut all the cuts,

just tell them megacity, no.

We're gonna break off all our chains,

pull the Leach from our veins and free Ontario.

'Cause Johnson's a weenie and so is Palladini,

they all keep Harrissing the poor.

We're gonna send all those dinks back to the links,

and free Ontario.

When you hear that sung -- well, you remember the old song, when it's one person singing it, it's one thing, when it's two people singing it, but when it's three people singing it, it's a movement, right? When you hear that song, those words are going to echo through people's minds like those old Bee Gees songs used to on a Sunday morning. When you hear that song echoing through the streets of Toronto, you know that Torontonians are on track.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?


Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): I am pleased today to speak about and in support of Bill 108. Bill 108 is the next logical step up from the transferring of parking tickets to municipalities several years ago by the previous administration. Now 95% of parking tickets are dealt with by municipalities, and this has resulted in service being provided to the public at less cost, doing more for less, something that this government has championed for some time. The parking ticket experience proves that there are a number of benefits to be had by involving municipalities more directly in the administration of justice.

With Bill 108, the government is eliminating waste and duplication and consolidating the administration for provincial offences. One of the maxims of this government is eliminating waste and duplication, so I applaud another fine example of finding more efficiency.

I will reiterate a good example that the Attorney General has previously brought to this Legislature's attention: Administrative processes are duplicated when two offices process a single certificate of offence. With our changes, only the municipal office would process the certificate. This makes good sense for the taxpayer as well as the municipality.

What also makes good sense in Bill 108 for the participating municipalities is the opportunity for them to retain the net revenues from the fines generated within the Provincial Offences Act. Estimates are that up to $65 million in revenue could be directed to Ontario municipalities. Local services could be the beneficiary of this new source of revenue, even when one takes into account the costs of these new responsibilities. In the Kingston-Napanee area revenues have been estimated to be as high as $2 million annually. This is promising news for our local stakeholders.

The province has been committed to the victims of crime. This government passed a Victims' Bill of Rights which enshrined in law a dedicated fund for services to victims of crime, and it continues to be committed to victims of crime. The victims of crime fine surcharge will still be taken from fine revenues. The revenue generated from the victim fine surcharge will be forwarded to the victims' justice fund. The partner municipalities would retain the balance of fines after the victim fine surcharge and other program costs are submitted to the province.

This bill allows the province to focus on the real threats to public safety, people accused of violent crimes. People accused of violent crimes should be treated differently than those accused of minor offences. This bill will allow the province to expeditiously prosecute dangerous criminals and deal more efficiently with serious civil matters and possibly free up courtrooms for the future. Violent criminals have for too long been treated with kid gloves. Bill 108 reaffirms the message that this law-and-order government is working to protect law-abiding Ontario citizens. Many people in Frontenac-Addington have expressed concern over the years regarding the haphazard manner in which dangerous criminals are handled, and I think they will be pleased with the changes we refer to in Bill 108.

I am happy that the responsibilities set for transfer to municipalities under Bill 108 are, to name a few, the administration of parts I, II and III of the Provincial Offences Act and prosecution of part I or minor ticket offences. Some 80% of part I offences are issued under the Highway Traffic Act. Some examples of these infractions are failing to wear a seatbelt or not heeding a red light or a stop sign. Part III offences will continue to be prosecuted by the province, as they generally result in jail sentences.

Standards for administration of justice will be set and monitored by the province as per usual. The province will maintain the setting and monitoring standards for the administration of justice to guarantee a uniform, fair and equitable form of justice across the province. Fairness and equity, I might add, are also pillars of this government.

Judges and justices of the peace appointed by the province will continue to decide Provincial Offences Act cases.

The province proposes to initiate and invite municipalities to submit proposals for this partnership. I believe this is an excellent idea. The municipalities interested in responding to the invitation to take part in the transfer will be required to meet specific criteria. The criteria include the readiness and ability to meet provincial requirements and standards. The municipalities selected are obliged to sign a memorandum of understanding. The agreement sets out the respective roles of the Attorney General and each municipal partner.

Representing a largely rural area, the following is important to many in my constituency: The bill allows municipalities to choose to team up and serve traditional court catchment areas or other reasonable population concentrations if the municipalities are too small to handle provincial offences on their own.

I like the timing of the implementation of this bill. It will be undertaken in a staged process. The initial transfer will commence in the spring of 1997 and the projected completion date is April 1999. The municipal partners will have the better part of two years to adjust to the new setup, plenty of time indeed.

I also like the fact that these amendments were developed with the input of legal and municipal experts, internal and external stakeholders, the judiciary, the bar and the municipal sector. This bill was developed and supported by David Crombie's Who Does What panel and has been well received by municipalities.

The municipalities are pleased about the prospect of taking on the responsibility for local justice and the benefit of an increase in local revenue from this transfer. Municipal leaders from around Ontario have voiced support about this coming opportunity. I truly feel that the competency and level of Ontario municipal politicians is extremely high. It is unnecessary for the province to administer when there is such a high calibre of local leadership in the municipalities of this great province.

I for one and many of my colleagues in this House have been pleased with the support they have given us in the past, and Bill 108 is another fine example. As this government has already done many times, it is again taking the lead by inviting municipalities to be partners in the justice system.

I would like to urge all members of this House to support Bill 108. The opportunities that municipalities have in becoming partners with the provincial government in the justice system exemplify our confidence in the future of local government in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Gerretsen: I listened with great interest to my colleague immediately to the west of my own riding. It's very interesting that he talks about municipal partnership and how it will be left up to the municipalities as to whether or not they want to join in on this particular system. It left me to wonder why the government didn't take the same approach with respect to the water and sewer legislation that has been debated in this House for the last three or four days. In that particular case, municipalities had no choice. They're told to take the plants, and that's it, and they'll have to bear all the expenses related thereto.

It's also interesting that when we look at the Development Charges Act, which will be debated next week, if this member really believes so much in partnership between the province and municipalities, in that particular case the province isn't leaving it up to the municipalities to determine what the proper development charges are in a municipality. That particular bill is going to severely limit the ways in which municipalities can charge for development charges. What we're looking for is some consistency.


I think it's good, generally speaking, that municipalities have a choice as to whether they want to take over the Provincial Offences Act. There will be some municipalities, like my own, that will gladly take it over. They're large enough; they've got the staff complement to able to handle it. But there are also municipalities that will simply not be in that position. That goes whether we're talking about provincial offences, that goes whether we're talking about taking over water and sewer plants, and the same thing goes with respect to development charges and many of the other pieces of legislation that come before us.

What I say to the government is, be consistent. Don't say one day that you want to be partners with municipalities and then the next day you turn something over to municipalities whether they want to or not. Be consistent.

Mrs Boyd: It's hard to comment for two minutes on such a brief speech. I am very interested that the member for Frontenac-Addington was interested in this particular bill and chose to speak on it.

The reality continues to be that although this bill in itself, as the member points out, is not necessarily a bad thing, what is missing are the kind of standards and the kind of accountability that ensure that the problems that the Liberal opposition and our party have raised are going to be dealt with by municipalities in these agreements with the ministry.

The reality is, we are being asked to just accept on faith that there will be a uniform application of the Provincial Offences Act once this is the purview of various municipalities and that we will not see any difference in the enforcement and the prosecution of provincial offences from one municipality to another.

It may be that this government still expects that people will take at face value what they say they expect to happen, but increasingly what we are seeing is the citizens of Ontario saying they're rather tired of the empty promises, that there's nothing to worry about, you know, this "Be happy, don't worry" message that we're all having to tolerate on our television sets all the time. The people aren't buying it. The people are saying: "Where are the standards? Where is the accountability? How can we be sure that's true? Why are we expected to buy a whole package which depends entirely on the contents of an agreement when there's not even a model agreement that we've seen and when there has been very little consultation with the municipalities?"

Mr Newman: It's my pleasure to rise in response to the member for Frontenac-Addington. I want to compliment him on being the only member to make a speech here today that actually dealt with Bill 108. I congratulate him on that. His speech again showed that the members on the government side have more faith in municipal governments and municipal politicians than the members opposite.

I'd like to put into the record what the city of Burlington feels about Bill 108. It says here:

"The city supports the transfer and is anxious to begin a dialogue with the ministry concerning the transfer. We believe the transfer offers an opportunity to provide the required service to the residents of Burlington at a low cost and with maximum efficiencies."

It goes on to say, "Burlington is eager to assume the responsibility of the administration and prosecution of provincial offences, not only for the city itself but for the entire region of Halton." That's signed by the city manager of Burlington.

The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton says, "The region is eager to move forward in this initiative as soon as possible." So it's right across Ontario.

The city of Vaughan says:

"This is to indicate Vaughan's interest in being one of the municipalities selected to participate in the initial 1997 transfer of the Provincial Offences Act administration and prosecution. Council gave initial consideration to such a proposal at its meeting on January 6. The city will make a formal proposal in response."

Just like the city of Brampton, a letter here:

"The staff of the city of Brampton has been involved in working closely with the Ministry of Attorney General and the provincial offences project team on the proposed transfer of court administration and prosecution responsibilities to the municipalities. The city is excited" -- excited -- "about the prospects of a net revenue gain and, upon approval of council, the city looks forward to entering into a partnership with the province."

The Acting Speaker: Your time is up. Further questions or comments?

Mr O'Toole: Again, it's a pleasure to get up and compliment the member for Frontenac-Addington for a very consistent, very coherent presentation on Bill 108. In fact, I think the member in a couple of his comments recognized the efficiencies for all Ontarians by reducing this down to the lowest level of delivery of service as possible. I think there's a clear indication by the action from the previous government -- I've said this before. The previous government under the Provincial Offences Act in 1993 introduced some part II changes. There were, I believe, some 60 municipalities which participated in that. This is the issuing and prosecution of traffic offences which are really traffic tickets, meaning parking tickets, and municipalities administered it, collected the revenue and were allowed to enforce their own bylaws. I could list a number here.

Mr Newman: Is Kingston there?

Mr O'Toole: Kingston's here, and St Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, very progressive communities. There's no reason why smaller municipalities couldn't join in that partnership arrangement as we move towards a further partnering in these changes under Bill 108.

Again, the member for Frontenac-Addington did spend his time -- I was looking forward to a full 90 minutes. I was somewhat disappointed that he didn't utilize all of that time because he was bringing about some very important points.

Part I offences under the Provincial Offences Act cover such things as minor ticket offences like noise, speeding, nuisance bylaws. Part II covers parking infractions, which was the part introduced by the previous government. Part III covers the serious offences; for example, speeding over 50 miles per hour, impaired driving. These changes, however, will not be transferred at this time, only the municipal administration portion. Now, where in fact some municipalities are doing that today --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time is up. The member for Frontenac-Addington.

Mr Vankoughnet: It's certainly a pleasure for me to respond to my colleagues and say that I do appreciate the support that we're getting for better quality service and lower cost to the taxpayers, because yes, this is what this is all about. We're trying to provide better services and certainly at lower costs.

My colleague from Kingston and The Islands referred to the support from the city of Kingston, and of course recently at a meeting in my riding which the mayor attended, he was very supportive of this bill and thanked the minister profusely for bringing in this new act, and I think it's on record too in this House several times that he's sent letters to that accord also.

So I think it's very important that we keep on the track that we have suggested, better partnerships with other municipalities at the other level of government, and correct some of the injustices that I know for a fact have been there over the years. For example, I know my home town of Napanee, a community of under 5,000, has to pay the court security costs, the property taxpayers in that municipality. As you know, Madam Speaker, there are large institutions in the vicinity, for example Millhaven institution, and of course, being the county town, the court costs to those taxpayers in that municipality have been horrendous. This will help to offset some of these costs to the taxpayers in that municipality.

Another thing, for example, the Quinte Detention Centre, across the road in another municipality: The town of Napanee property taxpayers in the past have had to pay for court security costs. Again, I believe this will help compensate indirectly the people of that community for the injustices of the past. So I'm glad to see that we're making improvements --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Your time is up. Further debate?

Mr Gerretsen: I know that we have about 10 or 12 minutes left and I guess we're voting on this matter at that point in time, but let me first of all address some of the issues that were raised by the members opposite. Let me indicate quite clearly that I have every faith in municipalities and in local government. I think that absolutely a lot of these decisions are a lot better left at the local level.

But what I would challenge the government members to do is to get the letters of support ready to introduce here from the municipal leaders about the water and sewer act. Let's see the letters of support there, where you're forcing the municipalities to take over old and decrepit water and sewer facilities whether they like it or not, whether they've got the financial ability to pay or not.


I would like them to produce the letters with respect to the Development Charges Act. Let me see the letters you've got from the municipalities in which they're saying: "Yes, please limit our powers. We don't want to be able to negotiate with the developers in a free and open way. You've got to limit what we can actually ask for from the developers." Where are the letters? I'd like you to have those letters read into the record.

Do you know why there are no letters? They aren't there because in those particular cases municipalities are saying to the province, their "partner": "Why are you doing this to us? Why don't you give us the option as to whether or not we want to take over the water and sewer plant? Why don't you allow us to decide what's best with respect to the development charges that we want to levy against developers?" There are many other areas as well.

No, your government is taking the attitude that if it's something that municipalities want and you're ready to give it to them, you're ready to download it on them, then they're partners. If it's something they don't want, then all of a sudden the partnership is over and done with.

Let's just go back once again to what this is really all about. This is really about a downloading of $6.3 billion on the property taxpayers of this province. What does that mean in the different communities? From a presentation that was made in the city of Kingston by the same mayor, Gary Bennett, from whom you got that letter with respect to Bill 108 -- what did he say in a presentation he made two weeks ago tomorrow? He said:

"Based on our own calculations, which are reasonable and based for the most part on information provided...show that the current city of Kingston would be a net loser to the tune of $28.6 million" as a result of the downloading.

"This translates into an average increase in residential taxes of $546 per household and a 42% increase in commercial property taxes as commercial properties still must pay an education property tax levy."

That's what this is really all about; it's all about downloading. Let's take a look at some of the actual figures there. He calculates, and the city treasurer, who is not a partisan politician, calculates that there is a $24-million saving by taking the education taxes off the property tax roll. However, there's a $32-million increase in general welfare and FBA benefits the city will have to pay; $1.6 million in day care; social housing, $6.5 million. That's for a relatively small city of some 65,000 or 75,000 people.

In long-term care there will be an add-on to the city of $4.9 million; public health programs that which will be funded 100% by the municipality will be increased by $1 million; homes for special care, $450,000; Kingston transit, $1.2 million; Kingston Access Bus, which will be 100% municipally funded, half a million dollars; ambulance, which will be 100% funded municipally, $1.3 million.

It's a total of $53.8 million. Once you take the $24 million that comes off as a result of the education taxes being taken off the residential property tax roll, there will be a net increase of $28.6 million. That's what the people of Ontario have to understand, that their property taxes in the case of the city of Kingston are going up $546 per household. We've got many figures from many other municipalities that relate to exactly the same thing. I won't bore you with them today because we've read them into the record many times before.

Why is the province doing this? We have to get back to that. The province is doing this because, according to a study that has been done by a senior citizens' group and the VON in the Kingston area, by the year 2011 -- so we're talking about less than 13 to 14 years from today -- the school-age population will have increased by 12%, but the aging population, people 65 years of age and over, will have increased by 52%. What's really happening here is that a relatively stable cost, where you're going to have a relatively small increase in the number of children attending school, is going to be paid for by the province. On the other hand, the aging population which will require the home care services, which will require the social services, which will require the health services is going to increase by 52%.

The backbenchers and even one or two cabinet ministers can be shaking their heads no, and maybe you haven't been informed by your political masters as to what this is really all about, but you tell me then why the transfers are taking place. Tell me why the transfers are taking place if your government doesn't see, from a provincial viewpoint, some substantial saving down the line. The reason why you're doing it is because you want to burden this on the local property taxpayers so the local politicians can be taking the heat in the future when there are going to be greater demands in the areas that you're offloading. This is what this is really all about.

I think the time has come when the people of Ontario are starting to understand this. I think it's very interesting, the whole megacity debate that's been taking place in the city of Toronto. I dare say if it wasn't for all the downloading that's taking place at the same time, there wouldn't be such a swell of anti-megacity feeling in this particular city. People are starting to realize. They're starting to clue in and starting to say, "My gosh, that extra $5 or $10 that I'm going to get as a result of this 30% tax cut, which is basically going to help those people making $100,000 or more, how is it going to affect me?" Well, Madam and Mr Taxpayer, it's going to cost you another $550 on average in property taxes. You could be shaking your head no, but that's what's going to happen.

Let's hear what the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging has to say. This is another organization that is mainly concerned about care in the social welfare and health area and care for senior citizens. It states:

"It is vital that all the residents of Ontario understand the long-range impact of these massive changes that will affect not only this generation but generations to come. If these changes become law" -- and she's talking about all the downloading -- "will any future government have the political will to reverse them and take back funding and responsibility to the provincial level?

"In our view, Ontario is sitting on the wall like Humpty Dumpty." Christine MacMillan sums it up so nicely when she says if these mega-week initiatives are not stopped, and I quote, "all the Queen's horses and all the Queen's citizens will not be able to put Ontario back together again."

That's what this is all about. It isn't about one isolated bill in which, yes, you're giving something to municipalities. It's a little bit like the police services bill. I know that municipalities have for years argued that they want control of their police commissions and control of their budgets. So what have you done? You've pacified them after many, many years.

I can remember when I was president of AMO the municipal police authorities arguing for greater control. You've finally given it to them and I congratulate you on that, but what have you downloaded on them? You've downloaded on all the smaller municipalities all the OPP costs. AMO or any of those groups never said, "We want control of our police budgets and we want control of the police commissions etc, and you can unload all of the costs on us as well." They never said that.

I think the people of Ontario are starting to realize that all these great announcements that the government has been bringing forward over the last six to eight weeks are just a sham. They're seeing that really nothing is going to change other than the fact that they may be getting a few more dollars in their pockets. Some people may be getting a few more dollars, but other people in effect will be paying a lot more through property taxes.

I understand, Madam Speaker, you're eyeing the clock and you probably want to leave this place as much as all of us do so we can go back to the ridings and tell the people in our ridings what's happening at Queen's Park. Unfortunately from my perspective, everything that's happening here is not going to help the local citizens that we represent in the long run. There may be a benefit to some of them, particularly the wealthy in our society, but certainly not the average taxpayer.

We've got to remember that by taking $5.4 billion off the property tax system through the residential education tax burden being removed, we're adding on $6.3 billion. The people of Ontario will have to raise an extra billion dollars in property taxes if they want to maintain the same kinds of services they currently enjoy. With that, it almost being 6 of the clock, I will at this time conclude the debate.

The Acting Speaker: Are there questions and comments? No?

Mr Harnick has moved second reading of Bill 108. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Madam Speaker, I ask that the bill be referred to the standing committee on general government.

The Acting Speaker: So ordered.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for London Centre has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Health concerning the impact of downloading on the delivery of community-based services where psychiatric hospitals close. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter and the minister or the parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It appears that neither the minister nor the parliamentary assistant is available, and that is exactly the problem we seem to face in terms of trying to get questions answered around the restructuring reports that come forward with this government.

The point that we were making with the Minister of Health today was that he has set up under Bill 26 a commission to restructure hospital care in this province. Those folks were mandated to go out and study the situation and make recommendations around, first of all, what level of hospital services we needed; what type, what the governance of those services was going to be, where they were to be located; and where there was downsizing, how the identified patient need could be met within the community. They have the authority to close hospitals but they do not have the authority to require the Ministry of Health to do the second part of that task, which is to ensure that the services are available in communities where hospitals have been downsized or eliminated to ensure that the patient needs continue to be met.

My question to him today was: In London-Middlesex and in Elgin county, where the two psychiatric hospitals are to be closed by December 31, 1999, and the number of beds reduced by some 300-plus beds for chronic mental health patients in the area -- that includes the beds in Windsor and in Waterloo -- how are those needs going to be met? Once you're not in the hospital, how are you going to survive? You survive on social assistance and you usually survive on the Gains-D program. That's all faced with a whole problem around redefinition of what is a long-term disability, what is an ongoing chronic disability. Most of these folks would qualify, but this government has now downloaded an additional 30% of the costs of FBA, under which is the Gains-D program, to the municipalities -- an additional 30%. They have also downloaded social housing; they've also downloaded homes for special care by 100%; they've also downloaded long-term care by 50% to municipalities.

My question to the minister was, under those circumstances -- that download has happened since this committee went out, met with people and made its recommendations -- and given that download and given the level of municipal responsibility that would have to be met through property tax, a regressive property tax, how does he think St Thomas and London are going to manage to provide the kinds of services that the people who no longer have a home in those two psychiatric facilities are going to need?

We thought that was a particularly reasonable question because we asked the commission that question and the commission was embarrassed because they were clearly saying to us: "Look, the rules changed in the middle of the game. Our recommendations are based on what our mandate was, what our study was. We have no control over what the provincial government decides to download on its municipal partners. We were making the assumption that we could tell the Minister of Health the $46 million saved in terms of this restructuring plan in mental health services in the southwestern region, and particularly in St Thomas and London, `That will all go into use within the community, and you don't need to worry because those services will be there.'"

My point to the minister was that the commission can no longer make that assumption or that assurance to the people in our areas, because the responsibility for the funding of the very basic services -- never mind the counselling, never mind the drug programs that may be there to monitor drugs, never mind the psychology assistance that may be needed or the social work assistance; all that will be needed -- but the basic programs have not been downloading on to our community.

That was the question we asked. It's the question we'll continue to ask because this has an enormous economic impact for our communities, particularly given the anticipation of anywhere up to 1,500 jobs beings lost as a result of this single decision.

The Acting Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried, and this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday afternoon.

The House adjourned at 1803.