36th Parliament, 1st Session

L171 - Mon 3 Mar 1997 / Lun 3 Mar 1997












































The House met at 1335.




Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On Friday I met with seven seniors' groups representing thousands of seniors in Sudbury and hundreds of thousands of seniors across Ontario. This seniors' coalition asked me to take back a very simple message to the government: "The seniors of of Sudbury and across Ontario are dissatisfied with the direction and fear this government is imposing on the citizens of Ontario."

Clarence Soule from the Sudbury Seniors Coalition wants you to make changes. He and the other people in attendance deplore your downloading of health care to municipalities. He and Roy Edey from SOAR want you to reinvest real dollars. Where is the MRI for Sudbury? Why is it being delayed two years? What's happened to long-term care? What type of reinvestment of real dollars are you going to be making in long-term care? Not old money, not redefined money, they want new money invested.

Mel Papke, representing CAW retired workers, wants you to know that the user fees for drugs for seniors is hurting seniors. They're hurting because of your initiatives.

Johnny Passi and Ted Nicholson want you to know that the seniors they represent are under enormous stress, enormous pressure because of the uncertainty of your policies. They don't know what direction to go in because your government doesn't know what direction to go in when it comes to seniors.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): For over 50 years now the Ontario government has supported the Ontario Ranger program. It provides a unique summer employment experience for hundreds of 17-year-olds across Ontario. Participants work for the Ministry of Natural Resources and gain firsthand experience in tree planting, trailblazing, provincial park maintenance, canoe portaging and a host of other outdoor activities.

The program has demonstrated time and again its value in promoting conservation, rehabilitation and good resource management among young people. Thousands of Ontarians, myself included, have provided a valuable public service by participating for a summer in a program which for many years paid far less than the minimum wage.

This Conservative government appears set to cancel this important program. Last week MNR staff confirmed they have no assurances that the Ontario Ranger program will run. They have no funds to operate the 22 camps and they have not sent application forms out to Ontario high schools. If the program were going to run, and run effectively, all of this would have been done by now. In fact ministry staff should be selecting applicants now, not waiting to see if their minister and his Conservative colleagues are going to cough up the money necessary to give some 600 students a chance for a summer job.

Cancelling this program to fund their phoney tax scheme is ridiculous. It proves the Conservatives don't care about helping students get a summer job. It hurts small communities which supply goods and services to the ranger camps and makes a mockery of Conservative rhetoric on protecting our parks.

The minister should do the right thing and fund the Ontario Ranger program now.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am honoured to rise in this House today to congratulate Mr Peter Norris on being named the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce 1996 Citizen of the Year.

Born and raised in Toronto, Peter spent a number of years in the banking industry and eventually entered the car business. In 1981, Peter purchased a troubled Ford dealership in Peterborough and turned it into a very successful business that has become a household name.

What is special about Peter is what he does away from the office. He has hosted annual charity golf tournaments that have raised over $150,000 for the Five Counties Children's Centre. He was a founding member of the Peterborough Crime Stoppers; a volunteer teacher for Junior Achievement; a strong supporter of local charities and sports teams; and more recent endeavours have included him chairing the intensive care fund-raising campaign. This incredible project raised $1.4 million for the Peterborough Civic Hospital's share of the $4-million project. Since the unit opened last April, it has served over 1,100 patients.

On behalf of my constituents, let me personally congratulate Peter Norris on being named the 1996 Citizen of the Year: a true community worker, a true community spirit, and truly a great citizen.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): There are many Torontonians who have voiced their opposition to Mike Harris's plan for a megacity. None is more eloquent than internationally renowned author and poet Margaret Atwood, who has spun her own fairy story of modern politics called The Story of the Little Blue Harris and the Big Bad Megacity. When the people got "very, very upset," she said, "they jumped up and down and waved signs and made speeches and sang:"

He lied to us, he lied to us

The Big Blue Harris lied to us.

Mr Speaker, I withdraw those remarks on behalf of myself and Margaret Atwood.

Say, can this be common sense?

Or is it common nonsense?

He's screwed our taxes and our rents --

Mr Speaker, I withdraw those remarks on behalf of myself and Margaret Atwood.

And caused a huge unholy fuss!

He wants to take this ill-planned law

And shove it down Toronto's craw.

Oh Big Blue Harris, think it through

Pause and consider, and keep in view

The needs of the citizens, not just you!

To admit you've made a big boo-boo

Is a sign of maturity --

To hear you affirm that you're not God

Will cause us all to cheer and applaud --

The truth will make you free!

Mr Speaker, I couldn't have said it better myself.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Encore une fois le gouvernement de l'Ontario démontre son insensibilité aux besoins de la communauté francophone. On a vu la semaine passée qu'ils sont en train de fermer l'hôpital Montfort, le seul hôpital francophone de la région.

Aujourd'hui, j'ai reçu une lettre d'André Lalonde, président de l'ACFO, qui lui était envoyée par le ministère de l'Éducation. Imaginez que M. Lalonde, le président de cette association francophone, reçoit une lettre du gouvernement provincial l'invitant d'aller faire partie d'une consultation faisant affaire avec le programme d'apprentissage et, Monsieur le Président, cette lettre est quoi ? Elle est adressée à M. Lalonde, mais elle est écrite en anglais.

On demande très sincèrement au gouvernement qu'ils reconnaissent qu'en Ontario, il y a beaucoup de francophones qui demandent des services en français, et quand le gouvernement envoie des lettres pareilles directement au président de l'ACFO, l'association responsable pour les citoyens de la province, en anglais, ça démontre, franchement, que le gouvernement ne comprend pas et, possiblement, qu'il n'est pas trop sérieux quand ça vient à donner les services en français.

Je pense que cette lettre est un affront à la communauté francophone. Le premier ministre et le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones doivent se rendre compte qu'il y a des francophones et que l'on veut avoir nos services en français. Faites-le.


Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I believe we all agree there is never adequate funding for health care. As well, the status quo is not serving patients well.

As the member for Bruce, I am proud to represent a community that understands the need for change. In my community, the following parties are participating in the ongoing effort to restructure our health care system: the Grey-Bruce District Health Council and restructuring steering subcommittee; the South Bruce-Grey Health Restructuring Alliance; the doctors, nurses, and other health care providers; and most importantly, the people.

The consumers of health care services in Bruce and Grey are building our solution. We have been able to agree to date on a single governance and administration for 10 hospitals, on fiscal savings and on bed reductions. We are addressing the need for integrated service delivery and are working to provide this as a part of our plan for restructured health care in our community.

Additional new resources do not exist to allow us to stop finding savings in our hospitals before integrating services and implementing reinvestment strategies. These changes must be undertaken concurrently.

Rural health care must be considered differently than urban centres. Of extreme importance are quality care, access and economic considerations. I believe it is important that we all work together to ensure that the final blueprint for health care in our communities and across Ontario is one that provides the highest quality care in the right place at the right time.

I am pleased and proud that the people of Bruce --

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


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): After months of delay and dithering, the Minister of Transportation, with all the bluster and fanfare he could muster, at a very public press conference announced the impending tabling of Bill 125, the flying tire act. After sustained questioning and urging by the opposition and dozens of serious accidents and incidents, some involving injury and death, the minister finally, at long last, produced a bill on February 24.

At no time during discussions of the government's legislation and its agenda this year was any reference made to even the potential existence of this bill, let alone its introduction for debate. Never had the bill been placed on the agenda of any House leaders' meeting by the government, yet the minister, with all the fanfare of a circus barker, proclaimed his intention to proceed.

Why, you ask, did the government not call its bill for debate last week? Why, you ask, did the government, if it's so eager to pass this legislation, not make room on its schedule for it this week? The answer is simple: The downloading and dumping of responsibility and costs to municipalities and satisfying the government's developer friends are far more important to the Harris crowd than highway safety.

I challenge Al Palladini to bring the bill forward for debate today, this afternoon. Let's clear the decks and turn the tough talk into tough action. Otherwise, it will be a tale told by an idler full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm pleased to be following the official opposition House leader with my statement because I want to reinforce his comments. I also attend those House leaders' meetings, and I have to tell you, there was never any mention from your government House leader that there would be a bill coming forward on truck safety, although members of both opposition parties asked for such to be brought forward. Then we have the announcement of the important legislation that has to be passed right away. Quite frankly, both opposition parties believe this is important and believe it should be passed right away and believe there should be an opportunity for some public input on that bill.

Because there is a deal which structures the last two weeks of the House and gets bills out for the committees in the intersession, we offered to drop what the government had told us was its lowest priority legislation, the development charges bill, which would be debated today and Wednesday afternoon and have three days of public hearings during the intersession. We thought that would be a perfect match: It was the lowest priority of the government and the time is already set aside. We said, "Call the truck safety bill, call the flying wheel bill today, Monday," and we urge them still to do that.

I think it was most aptly put by my colleague from Cochrane South, who said the government has got its priorities wrong. No one is going to be killed by a flying development charge, but people will be killed by flying truck wheels.

We urge the government: This is a priority for all three parties, so please call the bill today.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I rise in the House today to draw the members' attention to a group of young people in this province who are striving to achieve their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potential as Ontarians.

I recently spoke to the scouts in my riding of Simcoe East at the invitation of their leader, Bob Wright. These youths are working on their gold stage, which includes explaining how the provincial government works.

In my meeting with the Simcoe East group, I explained to these young boys and girls the role of an MPP and the Lieutenant Governor, how votes are taken in the House and the role of each party in our government, and I was very impressed by their responsive interest.

Last week, scouting founders Lord and Lady Baden-Powell were recognized by scouting organizations worldwide. Scouts Canada's annual report for 1995-96 recorded an increase in membership. In 1993 co-ed scouting was introduced in many areas of Ontario. This has aided increased membership.

I commend the leaders of these young citizens for donating their time to teach loyalty to one's country, responsibility to one's community and dignity to fellow beings. I have no doubt these scouts of today will be our leaders of tomorrow.




Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): In 1912, one year after the first Female Suffrage Day was celebrated, 14,000 women in New York City raised a call for better wages and working conditions. Their courage to speak out on women's rights was a milestone in the women's movement and is the foundation upon which International Women's Week is built.

March 8, 1975, was the first International Women's Day, declared by the United Nations in honour of women's rights to equality and for world peace. This year the Status of Women Canada has chosen the theme Women and Work: Celebrating Diversity.

Women have achieved success in diverse areas and in ways that even in 1975 would have been beyond the general consensus of our society. The women who nearly 85 years ago came together in support of women's rights would be proud of their progressive efforts and the roads they helped pave for the following generations to carry on. To them the fact that there are 700,000 women-led businesses providing 1.7 million jobs in this country would have seemed impossible. To know that women create jobs at three times the national average is an indication of how far we have come.

But we need not go back to the turn of the century to mark significant achievements. In 1975 women accounted for just 5% of medical students; today it is 50%. Women are represented at senior executive levels in every sector and continue to chip away at the glass ceiling that has kept them from reaching their whole potential and ensuring that their voices are heard at every level.

Women-led businesses have understood the need to diversify; they are represented in every industry from mining and construction to finance, insurance and real estate. Clearly, the economic success of women has dramatically improved.

Two priorities of our government aim to advance women's aspirations. The promotion of safe communities and an end to violence against women are plainly linked to the achievement of women's economic independence.

Today I am announcing $574,000 in grants to organizations around the province that have designed and initiated innovative and creative community-based solutions. These grants are awarded to community groups working on specific projects to eliminate violence against women and strengthen women's economic independence, and we know that the efforts of these groups go a long way in their respective communities.

We have just announced a $15,000 grant to the Women's Information and Support Centre of Halton. This organization, led by only two staff and over 80 volunteers, recently developed a guide called Eight Steps to Self-Employment, which has received requests from across Canada and has been referred to and referenced as an outstanding tool in helping dozens of women start their own businesses.

Today my colleague from Perth and I presented a grant of $24,000 to Women and Rural Economic Development, WRED. As of July 1996, WRED was responsible for 226 business starts with an 85% success rate. They established the rural enterprise loan fund, which allows women who otherwise may not be eligible for credit to receive low-collateral loans to start up new businesses or expand existing ones.

I met with 22 young women just a few weeks ago. They were women entrepreneurs ranging in age from 14 to 18 years. Their high level of enthusiasm was wonderfully evident, and I was pleased to see their determination to ensure that support for entrepreneurialism was encouraged through the secondary school reform. It's something we must do more work on to encourage our teachers and communities to be involved. These young women already know what will be expected of them to succeed and they are taking steps to prepare for their role in the new economy.

The secondary school reform and apprenticeship reform are important initiatives in this regard, as 1994 statistics have shown us that just one in five students in engineering, natural sciences and mathematics is a woman. Today only 3.5% of practising engineers are women and women make up less than 10% of registrants in apprenticeship training. Clearly there is still work to be done.

We can all be proud of the great achievements women have made in our country towards economic self-sufficiency, job creation, and towards the creation of safe communities for all Ontarians.

Today I thank all women of Ontario for the creative and solid solutions they have made work. We continue on our path towards prosperity and a better life. Our daughters and all the generations that follow will benefit from this work and they will make further advancements to levels that may now seem beyond our consciousness. Thank you for this opportunity.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I rise to respond to the statement made by the minister responsible for women's issues, although I must confess that I am puzzled as to why the minister has risen today, and without notice, to make this statement.

It's usually considered significant that we would ask for unanimous consent in the House to recognize International Women's Day, which of course as the minister notes, falls on March 8, and that we would have expected in this House on March 6 to have an all-party recognition of International Women's Day. Normally we would use this opportunity to jointly celebrate women, what women have been able to achieve, and to acknowledge the struggle that women have had in order to make those achievements.

I can agree with the minister as she recognizes some areas of achievement and I can agree with her when she makes the statement that the women who nearly 85 years ago came together in support of women's rights would be proud of their progressive efforts and the roads they helped pave for the following generations to carry on. But I do not believe those women would be proud of what has happened to women in Ontario for the past year and a half under this Conservative government, and I cannot join in celebrating the achievements of women in this province when I see nothing but the ball rolling back down the hill and women worried about whether they will ever be able to push it up again.

The minister in her statement today has focused on the economic achievements of women, so let me first deal with some of the economic realities for women in Mike Harris's Ontario in 1997, an Ontario in which we have seen downsizing in the public sector as well as in the private sector, but in the public sector to a degree never seen before. It is a recognized reality that those same women who have struggled to achieve some equal representation in the workplace have done so only recently and are the last in and therefore the first out in any downsizing and it affects them disproportionately.

At the same time as those actions were being taken and having the effect on whether women would be employed, we had a government that scrapped the employment equity legislation and has put absolutely nothing in its place so that those women who have not had the opportunity to be part of the workforce are getting no support from their government to be able to achieve that. In fact, one of the key areas where support is needed for women to be full and active participants in the workplace is in child care. What is this government proposing to do on child care? Shift more and more of it on to the municipalities so that this province, this government, has less and less responsibility for ensuring that women have some equal chance.

This is the same government that just last week announced it would take even further steps in a backwards direction on the whole issue of pay equity -- pay equity legislation which was simply designed to make sure there would not be discrimination based on gender in the pay received in the workplace. The government has decided in its wisdom that there's no need any longer to give special attention to this issue even though women still make 70% of what men make, so it is going to scrap the Pay Equity Commission and roll that and the appeals tribunal into the Ministry of Labour in preparation for this being a complaints-driven process. How long women struggled to get some recognition of discrimination in pay in the workplace; how quickly this government has said, "We don't need to worry about discrimination any longer," unless the women are so beaten up that they feel they have to come forward and try to make this government hear that there is a problem. How far back does the ball have to roll?

The government started with its 23% cuts to welfare, which we know disproportionately hurt women and their children, and more and more women-led families are living in poverty in 1997 in Mike Harris's Ontario than when this government took office. We have seen absolute chaos in family support, and now the minister responsible for women's issues is complaining that the federal government is going to make it possible for those parents who are providing support to get more support for their children because she's afraid and the Attorney General is afraid it will create even more chaos in Ontario's already chaotic family support program.

We have this statement from a minister who is sitting on a report which says that the focus should not be on dealing with women who are victims of violence but should shift to the prevention of violence. In that context, I cannot even welcome the announcement of the $546 million in grants to women's programs because the real fear for women out there, women working in the shelters who have had their funding cut, women working in rape crisis centres, is that what this government is doing is not going to be supportive of their work over the years but will be counterproductive and will in fact replace their expertise.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): The announcement that the minister made today is a smokescreen for the devastation that she and her government have caused for women across this province since the day they got into office. You've made it far more difficult for women to get into the workforce, for instance, and to advance once they get work. Let's look at your record for a second.

You brought in Bill 7, gutting labour laws which protected some of the lowest-paid women in Ontario and made it almost impossible for these women to organize and improve their lot; your Red Tape Review Commission report says women in workplaces with 100 employees or fewer should get lower wages; and you threw out the proxy method of employment equity, which protected the lowest- paid women in Ontario. Now you're actually getting rid of the Pay Equity Commission, leaving women to fight for themselves, telling them to go to the Human Rights Commission, and I may add, after the fact if they have a complaint. After cancelling employment equity, pay equity, now it looks like you're going to downsize the Human Rights Commission.

You gutted training programs for women on welfare after you cut them by almost 23%, women and their children. You then proceeded to cut the Jobs Ontario Training programs and the child care spaces which went with them without putting a thing in place. You talked in lovely sentences about the new workfare program you were going to put into place. I didn't agree with the philosophy of that, but you haven't done anything to help these women get back in the workplace for training. Women in adult learning centres are terrified that those centres are going to close. They're upgrading their training because of the cuts to education. To date, Minister, there has been a total of 9,000 fewer child care spaces and it looks like more to come.

It's not surprising that the majority of women in this province do not support your government and it's not surprising that it's the majority of women in Metro Toronto who do not support your downloading. More women and children than anybody else depend on all these services that are being downloaded and they know what that means to them.

This is from the announcement the government made today, and let me quote the attitudes that allow the Harris Conservatives to ignore women. Minister, you've gone along with this, and to my knowledge you have not refuted it. You said this yourself: "Women earn less than men because they choose to live their lives in a very different way. They choose to balance work and family." The minister responsible for women's issues in this province said this, and I would like to hear you apologize for that. Women need to make more money. You are gutting all the programs that will help them advance.

Listen to what your Premier said about child hunger: "There has been no particular link between children hungry in school and the unemployment rates, the welfare rates that are there. Lifestyle changes contributed to it. If you go back 30 or 40 years ago where it seemed to be that mom was in the kitchen with a hot breakfast, cooking as everybody woke up in the morning, that's not the normal situation today."

I'll tell you, Minister, it is not the normal situation. He is quite right and that is not the cause of hunger, of child poverty. The cause is squarely on your shoulders. You sit at that cabinet table. I have not seen you once stand in this House and stand up for women. I have no evidence that you have done so at the cabinet table. Whenever we ask questions to you or any other ministers, you support them and make outrageous statements yourself. What you are doing and what your government is doing to the policies that women have worked hard for over 20, 30 years or more in this province, in one fell swoop you are getting rid of all of them.

Minister, women are aware of it and women want and demand for International Women's Day that you bring back the pay equity and the employment equity laws, that you pull back on Bill 7, repeal it and give women the right to organize again and advance in the workplace.

It is shameful. I have nothing good to say about your record whatsoever. You really should be ashamed of yourself. This is not rhetoric, Minister. This is a very serious problem and I wish you would correct it.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, may I correct the record?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Yes.

Mrs McLeod: It's $574,000. I believe I referred to it in terms of millions.

The Speaker: Corrected.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce some guests who are here. I know the member for High Park-Swansea will be very interested in this.

I'd like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a Tasmanian delegation led by the Honourable Ross W. Ginn, MLC, accompanied by Mr Anthony John Benneworth, MP. Welcome.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. As I hope you're aware, in the committee hearings on your education bill, parent after parent, trustee after trustee has expressed concern about what will happen to students when you take over control of educational finance.

For example, Sam Wales, the chairman of the Board of Education for the City of York, spoke of the needs of students in his area, which has the highest percentage of low-income families, the largest percentage of parents with less than a grade 9 education, the largest percentage of unemployed and the largest percentage of population that do not have English as their mother tongue.

The Board of Education for the City of York deals with this by offering before- and after-school programs, lunchtime programs, readiness-for-school programs, summer school, enrichment programs, remedial programs, English skills development programs, inclusive curriculum, interpreters, translation, race relations and a strong safe schools initiative. They also offer extensive night-time and daytime programs for adults.

Minister, will you guarantee that all these programs will be continued and all these needs will be met when you --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much. Minister of Education.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): The member for Fort William asks what will happen when the province finally does what commission after commission and report after report have asked provincial governments in the past to do, and that is to take over the cost of having first-class education right across the province.

What will happen is fairly obvious. We will discontinue the funding of education based solely on what property value is worth in a child's neighbourhood and we'll be funding education based on what those individual children need. We have said time and time again in this chamber, out in communities and right across Ontario that this government is committed to meeting the needs of every individual student and we will spend what it takes to do that.

Mrs McLeod: I say to the minister, listen to what people are trying to tell you at these committee hearings because it's not just people concerned about education in the city of York who are worried; it's people in East York, Scarborough, the city of Toronto, North York and Etobicoke -- Etobicoke, where they told us that 30% of their student population are from refugee families and speak no English.

Mostly our committee has heard from parents who are worried that this government wants to cut costs to take everybody's funding down to the lowest common denominator. They're afraid your cuts are going to hurt their kids. When you say there will be no second-class students in Ontario, they're afraid that every student in Ontario will become a second-class student when you take over educational finance.

You have said: "Trust us, we'll be fair," but that is no guarantee the needs of children are going to be met. David Moll, the chair of the Toronto Board of

Education --

The Speaker: Question.

Mrs McLeod: This is the question, Mr Speaker -- wants to see a children's bill of rights in your legislation. Are you prepared to do more than just say, "Trust us"?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Certainly, this is a government that's been known for keeping its word, and of course we bring that reputation to every conversation, including the conversation --


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): The minister was being provocative.

The Speaker: Well, you can be provocative in this place. It's allowable.


Hon Mr Snobelen: Apparently, to the members opposite a government that keeps its word is somewhat startling, but it has been the track record of this government.

What we have done and what we propose to do is to get rid of a funding system where the amount of money available for child education has everything to do with the property value in that local neighbourhood and nothing at all to do with the needs of that individual student. I believe and my colleagues believe that we can recognize those costs, that we can have a system of funding that meets those needs so we can raise the mediocre level of student achievement that our current system is producing. We think Ontario students should be at the front of the class. We think we should be meeting their needs, not a system's needs, and we think that their achievement should be the best in Canada, not the middle of the pack, and that's what we'll do.

Mrs McLeod: If this government protects children the way it has not closed hospitals, then there is no hope for public education in Ontario today.

Minister, even some of the ratepayer associations that your government called as witnesses to the committee are worried about what you intend to do to education. David Vallance of the Confederation of Resident and Ratepayer Associations, for example, says that your create-a-crisis approach will simply not work. He says that you seem to be obsessed with the deal and have paid little attention to what comes next.

The Etobicoke Federation of Ratepayers and Residents Association has said, "Our past credit and support of the present administration for having a game plan is being quickly eroded as forced deadlines and an apparent lack of proper business planning is now being perceived as executing a hidden agenda to privatize education and, worse still, to introduce an American style of education into Canada."

Minister, is this your hidden agenda? You're not protecting kids. Is it your agenda to privatize education and bring in American-style education to Ontario?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I've heard many things said by the member for Fort William in the past, but I have never heard anything that silly from anyone in this chamber in the last two years. That's the silliest statement I have ever heard.

No. What this government will do is take on the challenges of rebuilding an education system for our students. What this government will do -- what your government would not do, what the previous government would not do -- is take on these issues so we can raise student achievement across this province and so we can make sure that our investment in education makes a difference with student learning. That's what this government is doing, and I and my colleagues --


The Speaker: Order. I caution the members, heckling is out of order. It's particularly difficult, and I ask you to come to order, when they're answering the questions. Are you finished your response? Just stop the clock for a minute.


The Speaker: Yes, heckling is out of order. That's the standard that's been established for many years.

There are a lot of conversations taking place in the chamber at this point in time, and it's very difficult to hear the questions and answers. I would ask that you cooperate, particularly from the government side. I know there are a lot of meetings taking place.


The Speaker: I didn't mean to disappoint the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, but it is a little discouraging.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. As one of the senior ministers representing the city of Toronto, I wonder if you'll follow the lead of your courageous colleague from Wentworth North, who supported his city against forced amalgamation. If the majority of citizens in the city of Toronto reject the megacity, will you respect the will of the majority? As their representative in the city of Toronto, where you are the member and a minister, will you do like your colleague from Wentworth North and vote against Bill 103? Will you do that, Minister?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to refer that question to the House leader of the government.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Hamilton East, come to order.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): This is a question that actually should be directed to the Minister of Municipal Affairs or the Premier, but as the acting Premier today, I'm more than happy to respond and indicate that this government is more than prepared to listen, this government is always listening. Democracy is a process that takes seven days a week, 24 hours a day, throughout the whole year. The exercise taking place today is one that the government is listening closely to. There are concerns that are being expressed through this process and the government takes all these concerns very seriously.

The Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Yorkview.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): What you are thinking of, Minister, is just making some minor changes. Let me tell you that you are just talking about rounding the edges with a bill that is totally and fundamentally flawed. You just haven't been listening to what the people have been telling you with respect to Bill 103. They say it is a bad piece of legislation, plain and simple. Let me tell you that this is a turkey and turkeys don't fly and your legislation is not going to fly. Do you know why? Because property taxes are going to skyrocket.

Listen to this quote. "Our research concludes that amalgamation will produce the exact opposite effect of what everyone wants, higher costs and higher taxes." That's the Canadian Taxpayers Federation speaking. Are you just going to call them another special interest group?

Megacity is your excuse to dump hundreds of millions --

The Speaker: Thank you very much. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: To the member opposite, who is still standing, I would say that this government is most concerned about the level of taxation in Ontario. This government, as part of its key policy during the last provincial election, indicated that taxes are too high in the province, that taxes are too high at the provincial level. We've reduced the provincial income tax by some 15%, with another 15% to come. This government feels that at the municipal level and at the school board level the costs are too high, that government is too complicated and that there's overlap and duplication. This government is looking for solutions not only to reduce provincial taxes, but municipal taxes and taxes associated with schools in the province as well.

The Speaker: final supplementary, the member for Parkdale.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): If the minister doesn't care about property taxes going through the roof, perhaps he will care about our communities. I want to remind this chamber what the former mayor of East York said. He said, "The traditions of East York should be maintained, and there is no reason to destroy our community, because we are proud of it." Today we know that this whole megacity proposal is aimed at one thing, and that is the destruction of our communities. I say to you today that we want an answer from this government. They say, "We're going to create community councils." We know now it's toothless. It isn't going to work. These are arbitrary boundaries that can never work.

Let me simply ask him this: Is he going to stand up today and say to the citizens of Metro Toronto that this megacity madness --

The Speaker: Member for Parkdale, thank you very much. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: I will stand up and say today that what this bill is about, what this united Toronto is about is to enhance the communities in Metropolitan Toronto, to enhance communities such as Leaside, Swansea, Beaches, Don Mills, Willowdale, High Park, all those lovely communities we have in Metropolitan Toronto today --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Not East York? Mention East York.

Hon David Johnson: East York, Leaside, all of the communities -- to actually give them, at the grass-roots level, authority to solve the problems right within their own communities today, and at the same time to make municipal government more effective, more efficient, less costly, and taxes lower.

The Leader of the Opposition has indicated no when questioned whether he would get rid of the united city. The Leader of the Opposition has said no, that if the united city were in place, would he get rid of it, would he scrap it, he said no, because it will be more effective government, more efficient government, with wonderful --


The Speaker: Order. New question. Leader of the third party.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Attorney General. It concerns the events that led to the shooting of Dudley George at Ipperwash park. The Attorney General may want to hear this. I want to read from a briefing note on the subject of the occupation of Ipperwash Park dated September 5, 1995, which was prepared for you. The note was released via freedom of information to the George family and their lawyers, and it states: "Occupying group includes women and children. There has been no violence. The OPP will try to speak to the group to get more information."

I've got a copy of the same briefing note, only the copy I have was released much earlier. The copy I have has two additional sentences that weren't blacked out. The sentences say: "It was agreed that ministerial direction should be sought as soon as possible. The committee will be meeting again on September 6." Minister, why was this phrase blacked out of the --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, leader. Attorney General.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I understand the procedure is that this is vetted by people within the freedom of information office. They make the decision. I can tell you, because I've said it in this Legislature before, that quite simply the passages referred to the idea of the civil injunction being obtained.

Mr Hampton: I don't think that was much of an answer. The fact of the matter is that this is the original briefing note and it's clear it says, "It was agreed that ministerial direction should be sought as soon as possible," yet this is blocked out when it's handed to the lawyers for the George family.

There was another transcript released today and it shows that OPP officer Beauschesne stated, "The first firearm discharged was my own." He's very clear. The OPP were not returning gunfire; the OPP opened fire. There was a deliberate decision to use force to confront the aboriginal people who were occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Every few months new information comes out. Your government doesn't like the new information coming out, but every few months more information comes out. We want to get right to the point. We want you to call a public inquiry so that all the facts can come out together. Will you do that, Attorney General?

Hon Mr Harnick: The Premier has indicated that he has not foreclosed that option as being something that ultimately will be considered. Quite simply there has been an SIU investigation. Charges have been laid. There is a case before the court and it would be inappropriate to have any further discussion.

Mr Hampton: You could stand in your place and say that as soon as the criminal proceedings are over, there will be a full public inquiry. That's what people want to have so all the information comes out.

I'll continue reading briefing notes. This is another briefing note. It is a handwritten briefing note that we have obtained. It is dated September 6, the day of the shooting, and this is what it says: "No visible weapons. No immediate public safety risk." That's it.

Can you tell me, if that is the briefing note on September 6, why did your government preside over having the OPP riot squad, OPP snipers, and OPP camouflaged tactical units called in? Why, if that's the briefing note, did you preside over having the snipers, the tactical squad and the riot squad there?

Hon Mr Harnick: Again, those are all issues that pertain very much to the investigation the SIU has completed. It relates to the fact that the SIU has laid charges, that there are charges before the court, and those matters will be dealt with before the court.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is also to the Attorney General. It concerns a slightly different matter. He is the chief law officer of the crown. As he will know, the cities in Metropolitan Toronto have been trying to use a law that this government passed, Bill 86, to conduct a referendum. Members of your government have continued to say that you'll ignore the referendum, that it is not a worthwhile exercise, that it's undemocratic.

As the chief law officer of the crown, I wonder if you could tell us why, then, you have voted in the referendum?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Mr Speaker, I am going to refer that to the Chair of Management Board.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Oh, come on. How can you refer that? You were asked why you voted. How can someone else tell us why you voted?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, first of all I'd like to say that there is a protocol in this House that questions pertaining to a ministry go to the minister in charge. In this case Municipal Affairs and Housing is the ministry. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing is not here. Accordingly, it would either be the Premier or his designate who would field that question.

In this case I'm happy to say that we hope all the people who are eligible do vote and participate in this process.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Why bother? You said you wouldn't listen.

Hon David Johnson: The government has indicated, on the contrary, that it is listening. The government indicates that it listens to all forms of input on this question and every other question. I might say, as a person who's been elected for a number of years, that kind of input comes 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the full year. Yes, the government is listening to this particular referendum and will take the considerations expressed seriously.

Mr Hampton: Since the minister is answering, or trying to answer, let me ask him a couple of more questions.

It is a fact that you and your colleagues have been saying all along that this process is invalid, yet the phone-in ballots and the mail-in ballots are specifically allowed in your legislation, Bill 86, that you passed just last December. Also, the voters' list is compiled by you, the province. It's your process and it's your voters' list.

We also understand that the chief government whip has voted and we understand that the Premier has voted. Minister, if your government doesn't care about the referendum, if in your view this is a completely wrongheaded process, why are all the heads of your government going out to vote?

Hon David Johnson: I'm delighted to say that I have voted as well in this process. Obviously, your intelligence hasn't picked that up yet, but I'm delighted to say that I voted.


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

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Peter Kormos couldn't be watching all those --

The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke Humber. Thank you. I am the Speaker.


Hon David Johnson: Obviously certain flaws have been pointed out with regard to this referendum. In my own riding, for example, about 100 ballots were found, which could have been opened up, could have been filled in by anybody in particular, could have been sent back in and registered against somebody else. That's one situation. Apparently a seven-year-old and an 11-year-old got a ballot; I understand somebody living in Stoney Creek got a ballot. There have been various problems associated with this referendum.

Having said that, the fact that ineligible people have received a ballot, that some ballots have gone astray, that there are a number of issues that are being voted on --


The Speaker: Order. The members for Beaches-Woodbine, Dovercourt, Fort York, Hamilton Centre and Cochrane South, please come to order.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Is that one riding, Speaker?

The Speaker: No, it's not one riding; it's about five ridings. I'd appreciate it if you all come to order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It used to be.

The Speaker: It will be under redistribution possibly but right now it's a lot, so would you please come to order.

Hon David Johnson: Obviously there are problems with this referendum, but at the same time people are going to participate, and I will assure you that the government is listening. The government will analyse the results, will attempt to understand the message that's being sent and will take it seriously.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Hampton: I want to inform the government House leader again, it's your voters' list; it's not the municipalities' voters' list. If anybody is inept here, if anybody is incompetent here, it is your government. It's your voters' list, it's your legislation they're attempting to use, and you have botched it.

But there's a more important point here. When the Premier turns out to vote and the chief government whip --


The Speaker: Members for Fort York and York Mills.

Mr Pouliot: Do we let people like that vote?

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Hampton: When the Premier turns out to vote and the Attorney General and the government whip, it's clear that this government does care about this referendum and how it turns out. It's clear that you know it will be a real expression of the will of the people of Metropolitan Toronto. So let me ask you the next natural question: You voted in the election. Will you abide by the results?

Hon David Johnson: First of all, I would remind the leader of the third party that it is not an election, but people have had the opportunity to participate. I will say once again that this government is listening. That's right, this government is listening to this referendum and the government is looking for the messages coming out of this referendum.

There will be a number of messages. One will have to do with the one city concept; a second will have to do with the transfer of powers between the municipalities in the province; a third might have to do with education. There will be a number of concerns expressed, and perhaps first and foremost will be the concern of people that taxes may go up.

But I can assure you that this government is intent that all taxes go down, at the municipal level, at the provincial level. We are listening and we will respond accordingly after we've had an opportunity to analyse the results.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Attorney General and it has to do with the shooting of the aboriginal at Ipperwash Provincial Park, a tragic situation, the first time in 100 years that a first nations person was killed in a land dispute.

The minister will know that the first nations were there because they believed there was a sacred burial ground. The government has denied that's the reason they were there. The minister will know that the Premier has said he has no records in his office around key meetings in spite of the fact that his own executive assistant day after day after day was at those meetings. The minister will know that the local member was at the police command post faxing faxes to the Premier with his intentions.

There are serious unanswered questions that the government can only answer through a public inquiry. There is overwhelming evidence of the need for that. You said in an earlier response that the Premier hasn't ruled out a public inquiry. That's not good enough. We want to know today from you, Minister, will you commit to a full public inquiry on this tragic Ipperwash situation?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): Certainly, as I indicated earlier, that is not something that has been ruled out. There are charges now before the court as a result of an SIU investigation and certainly the prudent thing to do is to wait until those charges are disposed of and the court hears the case before any further commitments are made.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Don't dance around it. Answer the question.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Algoma, come to order, please.


The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South, it would be a little more helpful if you were in your own seat. The member for Cochrane South, I've just asked you to stop heckling. The member for Cochrane South, I'm warning you to come to order. The member for Lambton as well.

Mr Phillips: That answer is not good enough. There are serious charges that in fact go right into the Premier's office. One can only conclude because the government refuses to call for a public inquiry -- we understand it may have to await the trials and we would accept that. There's no question of that. We'll do nothing to jeopardize fair trials. But as long as the government refuses to call for a public inquiry -- and I will say that the Premier saying he has no record in his office of this is unbelievable, incredible. Nobody can believe that.

I will say that you stood in the House, Attorney General, and said the natives didn't go in there because of the burial ground, when the day before they went in and the day before that in the papers it was spelled out they were in there. The government has no reason for not calling a public inquiry other than a coverup. I repeat today: Will you, on behalf of the government, make a commitment for a full public inquiry on this Ipperwash tragedy?

Hon Mr Harnick: It's wrong to say that this is an issue involving a coverup. Nothing could be so wrong as to come to that conclusion when there are serious charges laid by an independent police watchdog agency that are at present before the courts. Certainly the courts should be able to dispose of these matters and deal with them without any other issue being before any kind of body while such serious charges are outstanding. Certainly the courts will deal with this in an independent way and they will deal with it as a result of the charges that were laid by the independent police watchdog.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Health. On October 2 to the estimates committee you indicated that you planned to expand programs in public health and community health care to emphasize prevention in the health ministry. But, Minister, I have a memo here from the chief medical officer of health of Ontario to all medical officers of health clearly stating that the program review for mandatory public health programs is being speeded up to meet the Who Does What legislative time lines.

There are two startling revelations in the memo. First, when your government announced that it would download full funding of public health units on to the property tax, you said nothing about eroding mandatory programs. Second, while many medical officers of health knew there was a mandatory program review, no one had any idea your government was going to open up the act.

We know that municipalities are clamouring for flexibility, which is a code word for downgrading standards, because you've downloaded a billion more than you've taken from the education thing. Minister, what are you intending to do with the Health Protection and Promotion Act?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I had the privilege of watching part of the press conference that the NDP had today. I had no idea what they were talking about and don't think they have any idea what they're talking about.

The mandatory health programs, and these are them here, folks, were last reviewed in 1988, and in April 1989 this booklet was put out. The chief medical officer of health, who I think is held in deep respect by all members of this House, Dr Richard Schabas, has initiated a review of the mandatory programs at the request of the local boards of health. It's time to update the programs and recognize the growing and aging population.


Mrs Boyd: It's very interesting that you say that, Minister, because your ministry confirmed through a phone call to them today that the mandatory program guidelines have been rewritten and they refused to release them because apparently it hadn't been decided yet who gets to actually see this rewrite. This download of yours goes against all the evidence and all the expert advice that you've had from the Crombie commission. AMO has told you, even your own Health Services Restructuring Commission told you, not to download the funding for public health services on to the municipalities.

There's a great deal at stake. It is clear from Dr Schabas's letter that they are being forced to speed up to meet a legislative timetable that has to do with the who-knows-what legislation. There's a great deal at stake. We're talking about disease control, sanitation, health education, family planning, AIDS prevention, nutrition, and it goes on and on. If you let go of the good standards that have been developed in public health, you'll not only be buying higher health costs for Ontario but you'll be destroying the public health of this province.

Minister, will you commit today that you are not planning to open up this act?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're going to listen very carefully to the public health units themselves, to the experts in public health, to those who push for an increase in prevention programs. I think that's our job, and that's the review that's going on now. It's a natural review that should take place every few years. That's what's going on, and the fact of the matter is that regardless of who pays for the service, the government of Ontario will always set the standards, and we have very high public health standards in this province. In fact, we've pumped millions of new dollars into public health as we've been out doing the inoculations and the vaccination programs, which is the first time in many years the public health units have seen any new money at all.


M. Gilles E. Morin (Carleton-Est) : Ma question, Monsieur le Président, est pour le ministre de l'Agriculture. J'ai participé en fin de semaine à des démonstrations auxquelles des milliers de Franco-Ontariens se sont ralliés à la cause de Montfort. Vous savez fort bien, Monsieur le Ministre, que votre gouvernement se cache derrière la commission de restructuration afin de se défaire des responsabilités qui lui incombent.

La période de 30 jours pour interjeter appel n'est pas une excuse, n'est pas une embûche, pour que votre gouvernement peut se décider maintenant à rejeter la décision de la commission de fermer Montfort, le seul centre d'entraînement hospitalier en Ontario.

Pourquoi ne dites-vous pas à tous les résidents d'Ottawa, de la province, de la nation, que vous prendrez toutes les mesures nécessaires pour vous assurer que Montfort reste en place, que vous éduquerez tous vos collègues au Cabinet à mieux connaître, à mieux comprendre les problèmes auxquels les Franco-Ontariens ont fait face et que jamais, jamais, une telle situation, un tel affront, se présentera ?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister?

L'hon Noble A. Villeneuve (ministre de l'Agriculture, de l'Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones) : Merci, Monsieur le Président. La question décolle entièrement des services de santé. Elle n'a aucune chose à faire avec ni l'agriculture, ni l'Office des affaires francophones. Alors, j'aimerais demander à mon collègue le ministre de la Santé à soumettre la réponse.

The Speaker: Minister of Health.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Morin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I said the Minister of Agriculture, but he knew very well what I meant was the minister responsible for francophone affairs. There's no reason whatsoever to transfer this to the Minister of Health. My question is to the minister for francophone affairs.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Point of order.

The Speaker: I've got a point of order here. Is it the same point of order?

Ms Lankin: Yes, Mr Speaker. I believe it is normal parliamentary procedure when a member begins to respond to a question that he can then not refer it in the middle of it. The minister obviously began to respond to the question.

The Speaker: There was no response in his comments. I appreciate what you're saying, and it was 20 seconds it took to refer it, but he was referring it the whole time.

Okay, the point of order: I appreciate what the member for Carleton East's point of order is, except there is nothing to compel a minister to answer a question. They can refer a question, considering the issue and how they deem it would be best answered. It's completely up to them and I don't have control to force anyone to ask or to answer a question.

Mr Morin: Mr Speaker, you know too well I will respect your judgement. I know too well what your responsibilities are, but when you listened attentively to what the Minister of Agriculture has said, I can assure you that what he said --

The Speaker: I appreciate the comments. The minister had the opportunity to answer the question. He's decided it is best to refer the question, and I can't overrule that, so -- what are you up on?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Clearly you would know as well as I know that this question was directed to the minister in his capacity as minister for francophone affairs. If he won't stand up for the francophones of this province, then who the heck is going to?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): We set up the Health Services Restructuring Commission to take this sort of politics out of the health care system, and that's why we got --


The Speaker: Order. Minister of Health.


The Speaker: The member for Oriole, come to order. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: The important thing in the restructuring of the system and certainly the important thing in the minds of the commission and the commissioners is access to health services. In this case, the honourable member asks about access to French-language services, and again I will remind the honourable member that it isn't buildings that provide service; it's people. Many of those people who work at the Montfort Hospital now will find jobs at the other hospitals in town and will continue to be able to provide French-language services.

In Ottawa-Carleton, the Ottawa General, the Royal Ottawa rehab centre and St Vincent pavilion are fully designated under the French Language Services Act, as are parts of the children's hospital, the Civic and the Royal Ottawa psych hospital facility and also the heart institute. The importance is that we maintain and enhance French-language services --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : Au ministre des Affaires francophones : Monsieur le Ministre, SOS Montfort, vous le connaissez très bien. Vous êtes le défenseur ; vous êtes l'ambassadeur de la francophonie en Ontario.

Ma question est courte, très à point : Allez-vous dénoncer la fermeture du seul hôpital enseignant, l'hôpital Montfort ? Oui ou non ?


The Speaker: Order. It matters not. The question is to the Minister of Health. The supplementary goes to the same minister who had the --


The Speaker: Member for Yorkview, thank you for your help, but I understand what the rule is. Minister of Health.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'll repeat my answer to the previous question. The important thing is services. We are dealing with, I say to the honourable member, a $2-billion cut from Ottawa in terms of the money we have available to spend on health, and I think members of all three parties at least are on record of agreeing there's need to restructure and reform the system, concentrate all of our dollars not on buildings but on services. We want to see modern hospitals with the newest technology and the newest drug therapies. We want to do that, and the commission wants to do that, in a way that's also sensitive to the language needs of the francophones in Ontario.

The commission went to great pains in its interim report to ensure that French-language services are in place today and that they will be in the future. That's what we all should be working towards.

Mr Grandmaître: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: When will this government appoint a minister responsible for --

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



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Attorney General. Last week I attended a community forum about Edmond Yu who was, as you know, recently fatally shot by the police. Unfortunately, this was not the first tragic incident of this kind. Last year Faraz Suleman was fatally shot in Markham and Tony Barnett in Toronto.

The Chinese community and others express real concern that Bill 105 gives police chiefs much more power to investigate complaints brought by civilians. How can they have faith in the process while police chiefs do not remain neutral when a police officer is being investigated? Chief Boothby has already spoken out in support of the police officers, before the investigation in this case. Will you withdraw Bill 105 and establish a truly independent, community-based civilian body to investigate and monitor all police complaints, regardless of the seriousness of the complaint?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The case to which the honourable member refers is a case that, as I understand, is being investigated by the special investigations unit. That is an independent body that investigates these kinds of cases, and in fact that is what is being done in this case. That's an independent investigatory body. There have been no changes to the way that body works, and they are performing the investigation in the case to which the member refers.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary, member for Fort York.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I participated this Saturday in a demonstration to mourn and decry the death of Edmond Yu. I have to tell you there was incredible solidarity among the many different communities that were there and there were over 300 people on a wet Saturday afternoon.

The anger was palpable. They were saying that 20 community groups were shut out of the process or prior to the process of dealing with Bill 105 -- shamefully left out of the process. They said that the civilian monitoring of the complaints process is being significantly reduced, shifting the oversight into the hands of the police chief.

Two things come out of this: One, the supporters of the late Edmond Yu want the special investigations unit to produce a report that is accessible for everyone to read. They demand that.

The Speaker: Question.

Mr Marchese: Finally, they all demanded the elimination of Bill 105.

Hon Mr Harnick: I will reiterate again that the investigation that the SIU does is an independent investigation, and that in fact is taking place in this case. In so far as Bill 105 is concerned, it's before a legislative committee now, I believe. The public will have an opportunity again to make representations to the committee, as they had an opportunity to make representations to Mr McLeod, who prepared a study for the Solicitor General. Certainly I hope that the community avails themselves of the opportunity to make those submissions and I know that the Solicitor General will be listening and making improvements to the bill that he deems worthwhile.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): We don't have one.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order, please.


The Speaker: I want to warn you to come to order.


The Speaker: Member for Durham East, I appreciate your help.

Mr Galt: Minister, I understand you've commissioned a study to examine the delivery of services from your ministry to the clients, primarily the food producers of Ontario. Some critics have suggested the study is a front for some ulterior motive. Why are you carrying out this study?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): The question is very timely because as colleagues --


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, come to order. Member for Cochrane North. Thank you.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The question is very timely because we are very proud of the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and they have done a top-notch job in serving Ontario agriculture. You may have also heard that the agriculture business in Ontario is a $50-billion business employing 650,000 people. That is why we have initiated a comprehensive study. Dr Frank Ingratta and Dr Terry Deynard are both in charge to better deliver extension service to the farmers and agrifood producers of Ontario. Their study will be due very shortly. That is why this has occurred.

Mr Galt: Obviously, the study is doing a fine job as you examine and go out with extensive consultation to ensure that the services are improved. Minister, could you tell us when this study will be finished and how the results will be used?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The study and the report will be in by the middle of March, the middle of this month. It won't be gathering any dust. It will be implemented very shortly. This government has to do more with less. Remember, when the agrifood sector does well, all of Ontario benefits.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, for some months now you, Mr Johnson your predecessor at the Ministry of Health, and Premier Harris, among others, have said you've created the Health Services Restructuring Commission to take the politics out of hospital restructuring. You confirm published reports this past weekend that before the delay in the Sarnia-Lambton restructuring decision the so-called non-political Health Services Restructuring Commission met with the Progressive Conservative caucus?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Yes. At that time, I remember asking Duncan Sinclair -- I wasn't back at work as Minister of Health then, but I was an MPP, so I went to that meeting. They invited all three caucuses, to give a briefing. It was a very generic briefing about what their mandate is. They were asked that night and they made it clear that, yes, they'd made the same offer to all three caucuses. Our caucus said yes because we're interested in what the commission is doing. I understand subsequently they met with at least the critic and possibly the leader of the NDP to give a similar briefing. I don't know whether the Liberal Party has taken them up on that offer or not.

Mr Conway: I want to be clear. Before the Sarnia-Lambton decision was delayed a week ago today, and before the government decided it would stay all rural hospital restructuring pending a Ministry of Health directive on new guidelines for the restructuring of rural hospitals, before all that happened, the Sinclair commission met quietly with the government caucus. That has now been confirmed to the House by Minister Wilson.

Minister, what do you have to say to the mayors of cities like Sarnia, Brockville, Pembroke, Sudbury and Thunder Bay, who have heard about what happened 10 days ago in the Tory caucus, that perhaps the politics has not been taken out of hospital restructuring, that perhaps it's the good old boys in the Progressive Conservative world who have had some kind of special access that seems to have produced benefits for Tory ridings not available to the rest of us?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm tempted to say, "I wish," but the fact of the matter is, phone up Dr Duncan Sinclair or any of his commissioners and ask them what briefing they gave. Frankly, go and have a briefing with them, because what they're doing out there is extremely important to the future of health care in this province and extremely important to all your constituents.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations with responsibility for small business. He knows that I've been on my feet in this House about four times over the last year, talking about franchise legislation, both introducing my own legislation supporting a member's private bill from the Liberal caucus and asking you when you were going to introduce legislation concerning the franchise industry. Each of those times we had people in the gallery and out there who are about to lose their stores and who since have.

Today we have in the gallery a woman from Sault Ste Marie, Mary Carlucci, who is about to lose her store. She belongs to the National Grocers chain. Will you, Minister, today tell us when you are going to bring to this House for approval your pending legislation on the franchise industry in this province?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): The member will appreciate, and I've been keeping him abreast as we've gone along, that we have been exercising consultation and consensus building within the industry. He'll also know that the Franchise Sector Working Team, which was formed in 1994 by his government with the intention of consultation with both franchisers and franchisees to come up with a balanced piece of legislation, was clearly something that we recognized was important.

The franchise industry as a whole recognizes that there are a number of things they need, a code of ethics, disclosure requirements etc. When we come forward with it, which I imagine will be very shortly, I have also offered the member the opportunity to meet with him and to brief him on the matter. But I will remind the member that his government certainly had much time to deal with this. Back in 1993 when Marilyn Churley was in my position, she indicated, "If, when the Liberals were in power, they had moved ahead with legislation, possibly the problem we're looking at now wouldn't be happening," yet in the two years after that, she did nothing. So we are moving ahead.

Mr Martin: Talk is cheap. Minister, you're the government now.

Mary Carlucci is going to lose her store in about 30 days, and she wants this legislation in right away, today, tomorrow, when you get the time to bring it forward. Mary Carlucci says, "All along I thought hard work and dedication would pay off." This is the party, this is the government that says it stands up for business and for small business in this province. I ask you today, when are you going to bring this legislation forward, and more than that, will you today launch an investigation into the delivery of food in this province? The seriousness and the scope and the number of small business people in this province who have a difficulty with that industry, with their franchisers, is growing with each day that goes by. Will you bring in legislation, and will you investigate this industry?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I might say something to the member. What we're trying to come forward with is balanced, workable legislation, and the reason we've taken the time to consult with the industry, both the franchisers and franchisees, is to come forward with something very balanced.

I know the member has a keen interest, and I do recognize that, because the member brought forward a private member's bill, but I might remind the member that several members of the official opposition voted against his bill as well because it lacked the balance really needed to correct the problems within the industry.

We're coming forward with this very quickly. We have had to do the consultations. Once again I must comment that we want balanced, workable legislation that will work for everyone and create an atmosphere of fairness to support the growth of this industry within the province.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is for the Attorney General. Everyone is aware that in 1990, 50,000 cases were dismissed because they went beyond the eight-month deadline to come to trial. That trend continued under the former NDP government. The courthouse in my riding, on Eglinton Avenue East, had a very large backlog and my constituents are worried about the high crime rate. They're worried that criminals will be set free unpunished. What is your ministry doing about this problem?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I'm pleased to respond to the member for Scarborough, because what we are doing is increasing the number of cases that are resolved at an early stage. We've exceeded our targets. We are now resolving cases early at the rate of 73.2%. The trial rate is down from 9% to 8.5%. Cases are proceeding through the system more quickly.

I can tell you the Liberals had 50,000 cases dismissed as a result of their inactivity. During the NDP years, from 1993, 1994 and 1995, they were losing about 2,500 cases a year that were stayed. In 1996, for the first time, this course was reduced; just over 2,200 cases were stayed. With the backlog blitz that is now going, we anticipate that we will continue to reduce this number and continue to ensure all serious cases are being tried.

Mr Jim Brown: Minister, my constituents are really worried. You announced a backlog blitz in the Eglinton Avenue East courthouse. My constituents want to know how effective it has been to date.

Hon Mr Harnick: The backlog blitz we've begun is already seeing positive results. We launched this blitz in the six worst locations with backlog problems. We've appointed over 40 government officials, including 25 crown attorneys, to the project at a cost of between $1 million and $2 million. We are now seeing good results.

In Scarborough we're now setting trial dates within four months of the person's first appearance. This is down from seven months when the blitz began. In Newmarket we're now setting trial dates within three months instead of seven months.

I can tell you that because of the work the crown attorney has done in Scarborough, the number of appearances to get a case to trial has been cut almost in half. This is freeing up court time for other cases so that we are seeing --

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


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Minister of Health. A number of homes for the aged have had to take the drastic step of no longer admitting some of the frailest and elderly senior citizens in our community because of lack of provincial funding. In the home operated in my own community only 14 of the 147 residents can feed themselves, with an average age of 90 years of age. The staff has been cut down by 23 full-time equivalents over the last two years.

Minister, when are you actually going to redirect some of the hospital savings you have found into some of these long-term-care facilities? When can the communities and these boards expect that kind of funding so these kinds of situations will not recur?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I say to the honourable member that I was disappointed in a motion that was passed by his city council which said they wouldn't take any more high-needs patients into their homes for the aged.

I would point out two things that perhaps the council should reflect upon. One is that the formula was changed to levels-of-care funding about 18 months ago so that the greater the needs of the patient, the more dollars the home gets to look after that patient. Maybe we need to remind councillors of that.

Second, I don't see the over 300 private sector nursing homes in the province that have always taken high-needs patients complaining. It's now time for a level playing field and for the municipal homes for the aged no longer to be protected by special agreements and union contracts cooked up by the NDP. It's time they took their share also, and the funding is there to reflect it.

What are we doing with money? Today $2.5 million into Thunder Bay in anticipation of their restructuring, and that's before we have any customers for long-term care in that area, because there are no waiting lists in that area, so we're --

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



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition to the assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have tons more petitions from my riding about the megacity. This petition reads:

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

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I'm honoured to have this opportunity today to present a petition to the House containing close to 7,000 signatures and the support of the regional government of Hamilton-Wentworth with regard to the reinstatement of funding for capital renovations at Macassa Lodge, a long-term care facility in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"We, the residents, friends and supporters of Macassa Lodge urge and strongly request that the provincial government honour their commitment and reinstate the $8.5 million as their share towards the final phase of renovations at Macassa Lodge."

I wholeheartedly support this petition and proudly affix my signature to it.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "Speed, experience and teamwork save lives. Don't get burned by Bill 84." This is a petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

I affix my signature with hundreds of people who support this.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have still further petitions attacking this government for its attack on the Occupational Health and Safety Act of this province.

"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 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."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature to the thousands of petitions I have here.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have hundreds more signatures from my riding on Bill 104. This reads:

"Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Whereas democracy is the system that makes government accountable;

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I have a petition signed by 1,500 people in regard to the McGuire consultant's report and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, demand that the following recommendations proposed in the report not be accepted. We don't accept that battered women stay in shelters for less than 48 hours to then return home with a restraining order that bans their spouse from the premises as their only protection. We don't agree with the proposal that neighbours be told about a family's history of abuse and asked to phone police if there are breaches of restraining orders. We do not support the marrying of rape crisis centres, which offer counselling for women who may or may not decide to go to police about an assault, with medical treatment centres that are geared to collecting evidence for prosecutions. Only 10% to 15% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Adult survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse deserve the right to have the option of seeking assistance from confidential, less public organizations like the current rape crisis centres. We do not accept that the government consider not prosecuting men who beat their wives, because it can increase the potential for future abuse, does not necessarily help the victim and is expensive for the taxpayer.

"We, the staff, board of directors and volunteers of the Sexual Assault Survivors Centres Sarnia-Lambton, are appalled by the above recommendations. It is a travesty and tragedy for all women and children. We're asking for your support in this effort to join together and demand that our provincial government maintain the current services as they exist and provide safe and adequate programs for the women and children of our community."

I sign my signature to that.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition on behalf of firefighters in the province 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 proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the private member's bill introduced by Rick Bartolucci, MPP for the riding of Sudbury, limits the number of pupils that may be enrolled in a class in a school in Ontario; and

"Whereas this limit depends on the grade level of the class; and

"Whereas studies have concluded that there are clear benefits from smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas there is greater student involvement and interaction; and

"Whereas there is improved student performance; and

"Whereas there is the opportunity for greater individualization; and

"Whereas smaller class sizes allow for more varied and constructive education for students;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support this private member's bill" -- which is now at third reading -- "as it enhances classroom education."

I affix my signature in support of those signatures from the riding of York South.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This petition is directly related to the private member's motion which was passed in the House last Thursday.

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

I affix my signature and hope the Health minister will listen.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario.

"Whereas the Harris government is proposing detrimental changes to education services in Ontario;

"Whereas the government's obsession with the fiscal bottom line will result in a reduction of the quality of education services for our children;

"Whereas inclusive and open consultation on education reform has not taken place;

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

"That the government of Ontario reconsider its direction in terms of education policy and that they halt any further changes to the education system until a thorough and inclusive review has taken place."

I concur with the petitioners and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): J'ai ici une pétition qui nous provient des Amis de la bibliothèque du canton de Russell aux membres de l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J'y appose ma signature.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Orders of the day.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order on orders of the day, Mr Speaker: The government has indicated that it will be bringing forward something to do with the developers, giving money back to the developers; the Development Charges Act it's called. I would like to have unanimous consent of the House to proceed with the truck safety bill this afternoon.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?


The Deputy Speaker: No, there isn't.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In that vein, I'd like to --

Mr Bradley: No, no, right now. Called your bluff.

Hon Mr Sterling: I'm saying a point of order: I'd like to ask unanimous consent of this House to sit past 6 o'clock, till midnight tonight, to consider the truck safety bill. The government caucus is quite willing to do that.

Mr Bradley: You call it right now.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?


The Deputy Speaker: No. Orders of the day.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We would call for unanimous consent for the government to change the order and call the bill right now.

The Deputy Speaker: The question has been asked.

Mr Bradley: There are two House leaders saying you can call the bill right now.

Mr Wildman: You can do it right now.

The Deputy Speaker: Perhaps you were not here, but the question has already been asked.



Mr Hardeman, on behalf of Mr Leach, moved second reading of Bill 98, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth / Projet de loi 98, Loi visant à promouvoir la création d'emplois et à accroître la responsabilité des municipalités tout en prévoyant le recouvrement des coûts d'aménagement liés à la croissance.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Surely Palladini wouldn't say he wanted that bill passed and then go on holiday.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Mr Speaker --

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Just a minute. Order. The member for Algoma, please. You have the floor, member for Oxford.

Mr Hardeman: When the Development Charges Act, 1996 was introduced our government made it clear to the members of this House that we intended to meet the promises of the Common Sense Revolution. When we were elected, we promised to remove barriers to economic growth; we promised to get rid of obstacles to jobs and investment. This legislation will help us meet those promises.

I'm sure that when the Development Charges Act was introduced in 1989 it was with the best of intentions. It was supposed to provide a framework for the way municipalities recover the cost of services needed for new growth and development. It was supposed to make municipal councils more accountable. It was supposed to ensure that growth actually paid for growth. Make no mistake about it, development charges are necessary. Development charges help to pay for the water and sewer systems and the roads that make new development possible in the first place. Development charges help to pay for the recreation centres, parks and libraries that new residents and new businesses need to thrive and prosper.

But along the way, something went wrong. In the seven years since the act was passed, a fundamental concern has been growing. The Development Charges Act in its present form is encouraging much higher costs than are necessary. Growth is not just paying for growth. Growth is paying for much more than its fair share. High development charges make new homes less affordable for the average Ontario family. That means fewer new homes get built. That kills jobs and opportunity.

Let me give you the example cited by the minister when he introduced the legislation. I don't mind repeating it because it's important and it explains in a nutshell why this government knew it had to take a long, careful look at the Development Charges Act. Today the development charges can account for as much as $20,000 on the cost of a $160,000 home in some municipalities in the province. That's 12% of the cost.

High development charges are contributing to the cost of commercial and industrial development too. These charges are cited as one of the major contributing factors as to why construction of new apartment buildings is at a standstill in Ontario. Certainly high development charges are an obstacle to industrial growth. When a business has to hand over $200,000 in development charges to add 100,000 square feet of industrial space, that business may think twice about expanding in Ontario. That translates into lost jobs and taxes.

For these reasons, in November 1995 we made a commitment to undertake a fundamental review of the Development Charges Act. We wanted to make sure that financing of new infrastructure in Ontario was fair. We made a commitment to reduce the cost of development, to reduce the cost of constructing new homes and apartment buildings, and we wanted to reduce the cost of industrial expansion. In short, we wanted to make sure that development charges were not a barrier to economic growth.

When we began our review on the act, we asked a lot of questions. We asked whether the development charges should be used to pay for all kinds of new services and facilities. We asked about appropriate standards. We asked whether development charges were fair. We wanted to ensure that these charges were really related to growth. Are new home buyers and new business picking up the entire tab for fancy, new municipal buildings? Is this fair, when everyone else in the community is going to use and enjoy these buildings too? How can we ask young families struggling to buy their first home to pick up the entire bill for a new art gallery?


We didn't ask these questions in isolation. During the past year, we've talked to people from municipalities. We've talked to the development industry and to the home builders. As you might expect, municipalities wanted the Development Charges Act to remain exactly the way it is today, and the developers and home builders thought the government should radically change the act. Home builders and developers called for a drastic reduction in the scope of services which should be eligible for funding through development charges. However, both sides agreed on one thing: Both shared the view that development is extremely important to the economic health of Ontario and that development shouldn't be jeopardized.

The proposed changes we have made to the Development Charges Act will make sure that doesn't happen. This new act, if passed, gives us the balance that works. It meets the needs of the development industry, as it will help to cut the cost of residential, commercial and industrial construction. It will give municipalities the assurance that the key services and infrastructure needed for growth will still be funded through development charges. But most of all, this new act will serve the needs of the people of Ontario. It will make new homes more affordable. It ensures that residents still receive the same neighbourhood services they've grown to expect. The proposed changes in the act will encourage growth in the construction industry and will certainly help to create jobs and promote investment in our community.

We have introduced some crucial and necessary revisions to the Development Charges Act. First, we are proposing that the scope of services eligible for funding through development charges be reduced. We believe that charges should no longer be imposed for facilities like city halls, museums, theatres or tourism facilities. Instead, these facilities should be funded through other municipal revenues. Everyone in the community will enjoy the new museum or the new theatre. Everyone will benefit from the new city hall or new tourist facility. So together, everyone in the community can decide whether they want these facilities and when they want to pay for them.

Second, we are proposing changes that will increase municipal accountability and cost-effectiveness. In the future, municipalities will be asked to make a contribution from general municipal revenues to help cover the costs of facilities like new libraries and community centres. I think this is an important step, and it's only fair.

Let's stop and think for a moment about what happens when new residents move into their new homes. The day they move in, they pay development charges that go towards new facilities to be built in the future. For example, their development charges may be going towards a new arena. At the same time, new residents immediately begin to pay property taxes that go into general municipal revenues.

For example, their taxes may go to refurbish an old arena already in the community. Now, that old arena may wear out long before the new one does and the property taxes of the new resident will go towards replacing it. In fact, it may happen long before the new arena is even built and it will be years before the general municipal revenues will go towards renewing or replacing that new area. That's a good example of why high development charges can be unfair to new families in the community.

Third, the revised Development Charges Act will require municipal councils to carry out background studies that look at the long-term costs of any new services being considered for funding through development charges. Municipalities will also be asked to calculate the actual benefits coming to the new residents from these services, instead of letting new development and newcomers pay for everything.

Fourth, the new Development Charges Act will promote industrial growth. Under the terms of the new act, any industrial expansion of up to 50% of existing gross floor area will be exempt from development charges.

These measures improve fairness, they enhance accountability, they bring home to everyone the real cost of new services and facilities, and they promote jobs. They will make council decisions more cost-effective and they will make people in the community more cost-aware. That, in turn, will encourage municipalities to contain costs and to deliver services more efficiently.

In the weeks since the 1996 Development Charges Act was introduced, this legislation has received a lot of attention in the media. Some of the comments are pretty farfetched. One TV station reported that if you're going to buy a new house, you will no longer have to pay any development charges, and that's just not so. As I said earlier, growth would still pay for growth and municipalities would still be able to impose development charges to recover the costs of the essential services and infrastructure needed to support that growth.

Another rumour is that the revisions to the act will mean huge property tax increases for Ontario homeowners -- millions and millions of dollars, say some municipal leaders. What's my response to those claims? I think it's fair to say that the impact of these revisions can be minimal, provided that municipal leaders think responsibly about what their community can afford, and to what standards. There are other ways to improve the services and not just from the pocketbooks of new residents.

After this legislation was introduced last November, the GTA mayors and regional chairs, along with the development industry, established a committee to review this legislation, and I support that review. The minister has said time and time again that he is more than willing to consider changes based on sound arguments. If the legislation can be improved, it should be. That's what the legislative process is all about.

I would like to assure municipalities that as a government we're always willing to listen to reasonable concerns and to good, concrete solutions to the problems of high development charges. And it is a problem. According to John Barber of the Globe and Mail, development charges in Ontario are probably the highest in North America. It's time we recognized that and began to do something about it.

We all have to realize we live in a new world today. We don't have the money we once had. We certainly recognize that at the provincial level. We all have to realize that we're in a process of change today. That is our only constant. We have to set priorities and make tough choices because we can't keep increasing taxes, and new home buyers and taxpayers can't continue to pick up higher and higher costs.

We believe this legislation is fair and balanced. We believe it would go a long way towards funding growth in a way that's fair to everyone. This new act would give us a balance that's workable. It promises to promote development in this province. It will give Ontario a good balance between what the development industry needs, what municipalities need and what new residents and businesses have a right to expect.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I wish to comment on the member's statement. I was just reading from the Urban Development Institute the effect that various legislation has on the cost of new subdivisions and ultimately on new housing. Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, they are quite different than what we have heard from the minister himself in the past, the account that the honourable member on the other side has mentioned and what we have in the bill itself.

Ultimately, who is going to pay? It's the homeowner, not the developer. At the present time, municipalities are forced to pay half or a large chunk to provide even the hard infrastructure such as roads and sewers and stuff like that. Why should a homeowner be paying for those particular services when a new house, especially for a new house buyer, perhaps is the most difficult and the first expense that they will have to encounter, the most difficult decision that they have to make?

I do concur that certainly there are areas where we can make it easier for a new home buyer to get into that particular first house and get on from there. But the government is not helping one iota with this proposed legislation. So I hope that as we move on with this particular debate on this particular reading, in the time that the government will have to sift through the legislation itself, we'll see some efforts to adjust, amend, change the bill to reflect those inequities and make it so that indeed, whatever savings there may be, they will be passed on to the home buyer ultimately.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The name of this bill should have been the Friends of the Developer bill or the How to Fill the Tory Campaign Coffers bill, because it does not relate to the needs of municipalities.

At the very time that municipalities are being asked to take on more and more responsibility and more and more costs, at that very time, this government is not allowing the municipalities to be able to charge the appropriate development charges which help them to meet the needs that come about as a result of the new development that takes place in a community. So it is not in isolation to the downloading. In fact, it is a kick in the face after the downloading. If you didn't have the downloading, it would be an imposition upon municipalities, but in this case it's a kick in the face simply because the municipalities have lost revenue sources, those revenue sources being from the provincial government in many cases.

Transfer payments, funding that used to come partially or fully from the provincial government, are now being taken away by the provincial government and yet here you are giving money to the developers. As my colleague the member for Yorkview has mentioned, the theory is that somehow this will be reflected in the price of the house. I suspect it will be reflected in the profit margin rather than in the price of the house, and it makes me very concerned when I see that happening.

Also, I question the priority of this bill. This afternoon we should be dealing with a bill called the flying wheels bill, the truck safety bill, but this government is eager to rush this bill through the House, to get it out into committee. They know it will enhance the coffers of the Progressive Conservative Party, because the developers will be so delighted with this bill that they'll be sending their donations to the Conservative Party. But I'll tell you, the municipalities aren't going to like it very much, and those who wanted to see the truck safety bill this afternoon aren't going to be very happy either.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I want to reiterate what my colleague the member for St Catharines has said in response to Bill 98, the Development Charges Act. There has been a great deal of controversy around this bill in any case. One of the issues this government is facing is the fact that it is trying desperately to get dollars out of the public of Ontario without appearing to have its hand in their pockets. The reality is that every single action that's been undertaken by this government in this House with respect to mega-week has all been about getting the dollars out of the taxpayers' pockets by pretending someone else is taking it other than the provincial government.

This bill is not going to change the cost of housing. All this bill is going to do is allow developers to make more profit, and it's going to force municipalities into a situation, as they are with absolutely every item that has been downloaded on to them by this government, of raising user fees, of raising taxes, of raising every kind of charge they can to try and make up for the over $1 billion which is the slide between what this government says it has taken away from the costs of the municipalities by removing the education tax.

This government constantly pooh-poohs the very clear figures that are coming forward from virtually every municipality, saying how much they will lose in terms of their ability to provide services to the citizens of their area. This bill, Bill 98, is just another example of that, so paint it as they will, this government is simply trying to use this bill as another means of extracting dollars from the public of Ontario.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to compliment my colleague the member for Oxford for his analysis of this important piece of legislation and for the work he's done on the legislation in his capacity as the parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs.

This is important legislation for young families, and this is the key part of the legislation because what has been happening, unfortunately, in this great province of Ontario is that some municipalities have been using development charges to pay for all manner of facilities in the communities, at the expense of young families buying homes. This is at the time in their lives when they have the least resources, where it's difficult to get the money together, as they know, for a down payment to get that first home, to get that stake in the real estate market.

I know my friends opposite don't agree with supporting young families in buying homes, but why should young families buying homes be paying, as they have been, and which this bill will correct, for cultural centres for the whole community, be paying for tourism facilities for the whole community, be paying for land for parks for the whole community, be paying for hospitals for the entire community, be paying for the provision of headquarters for the general administration of the municipality, and these other matters, all of which benefit all of the people who live in the community?

This is important legislation that is long overdue and it benefits those young families with children who are the future of this province in our communities, particularly in areas like Whitby and north Oshawa, where we have significant growth, where these young families are struggling to get the down payments and make our Ontario more prosperous.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oxford, you have two minutes.

Mr Hardeman: I'd like to thank the members for Yorkview, St Catharines, London Centre and Durham Centre for their comments.

The major concern that came out was first of all the issue of whether taking some of the items off the eligibility list on development charges and lowering development charges on new homes would reduce the cost of a new home. I'm sure everyone will realize that when the development charges were put on new homes, the developer obviously passed through the cost of development charges. I think that was a reasonable assumption.

I have every reason to believe that in a competitive market, as the cost of building a new home goes down, the competitive situation in the housing market will also reduce the cost of a new home for first-time home buyers, in fact for any new home buyers.

It's also very important to remember that the Development Charges Act came into place to replace what were formerly the lot levies, where municipalities could charge whatever they felt appropriate on the cost of a new house for the services they were providing. The Development Charges Act was put in place so municipalities had to justify those costs.

The present act allows all those charges to be added on, such as the museums and the art galleries, which first-time home buyers are maybe not in the position to pay their share of at the present time. We feel that lowering the cost of the new home by that amount would assist those first-time home buyers and make new home affordability available to far more people in the province and, furthermore, create jobs for people who are going to build those new homes and help our economy.

Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask for unanimous consent for the member for Durham Centre to be able to name the municipalities that were abusing this.

The Deputy Speaker: Unanimous consent? No. Further debate.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): First of all, Mr Speaker, I would ask unanimous consent to split the 90-minute leadoff time with my Liberal colleague the member for Yorkview.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there consent? Agreed.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much. I thought the last exchange with the member for Durham Centre was kind of interesting. When he was asked to name the particular communities that are abusing this, he was not prepared to name any of them. That's kind of interesting. There are these generalizations made that the current act has been abused by municipalities, yet there seem to be very few examples. I'll be reading from some material later on which clearly indicates that all the activity under the former act really hasn't had that great an effect at all on the development industry and on the development of this province. I will be dealing with that information, from non-partisan organizations that don't have a specific interest in this one way or another.

The first comment I would like to make deals with the whole notion of this bill even being here currently. We've got a dramatic situation that exists in the province right now where many people who drive along our highways on a day-to-day basis, particularly along the 400-series highways, are extremely concerned about the number of trucks on these highways and the number of wheels that are flying off these trucks. I know I'm concerned about that whenever I drive in from my home community of Kingston or drive back to it at the end of the week: "Is this going to be the truck from which a flying wheel is going to appear and do some damage not only to me but to other people as well?" That's a concern.

It's absolutely beyond me why we should not be debating a bill that deals with that truck safety matter when we know the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Al Palladini, is very concerned about this bill --


Mr Flaherty: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The bill being debated is Bill 98, development charges. The opposition has refused to sit till midnight so we cannot deal with the other bill he would like to debate. But we can do that till midnight.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you for helping me in my functions. It will take a little while for him to start his preamble. I know that he's going to warm up and he will refer to the bill. I'm sure you will, won't you? The member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Gerretsen: I have 30 pages of notes here referring to this bill and to what this government has been doing to this province over the last couple of years.

I was just referring to the fact that if the Minister of Transportation feels that the truck safety matter is an extremely important matter, why didn't the government introduce that bill first? Why am I saying that? I'm saying that because this bill, if it is so important, had first reading in this House on November 25, more than three months ago -- and we have sat just about every day since then, except for a very brief, short Christmas holiday period of time -- if this bill is so important, why wasn't it called in December when we sat until midnight for a good two weeks? It was during that time that we were advised by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing that this bill wasn't a high priority any more within the government.

I would say to him, if it wasn't a high priority, then why is it a high priority now when obviously the truck safety matter, in which all of the three parties have a tremendous interest, is a matter that should be before us now? That's the first point I'd like to make just as a preamble.

Second, it deals with the whole manner in which the government deals with municipal government in this province. I know the government loves to talk about partnerships, that they have formed a new partnership with municipalities. It's an equal partnership and the government is going to do its thing and allow municipalities to do their thing, which is to run their own municipalities.

First let me say that there's absolutely nothing new about that. Those of us who have been around for a while, whether in this forum or at the municipal level, know that we've heard that kind of talk for at least the last 30 or 40 years. Every government has talked about partnership, yet every government has done the same thing. Whenever it suits its own purposes, it will bring in a piece of legislation and then all of a sudden the partnership be darned.

I can't for the life of me understand, if you really have an equal partnership here with the municipalities, why you would feel it necessary to bring in this kind of legislation. Why would you not allow municipalities to make their own arrangements with the development industry? It has worked, by and large, to a large extent in this province on an ongoing basis. I think that most developers as well would think that most municipalities are more than reasonable in their demands.

It's certainly something that I think this government is very lax in. At times they proclaim partnership whenever they want to download something on the municipalities, for example, then they talk about partnerships; but at other times when it suits their purposes, then they say, "This is an area where I guess we can't trust municipalities and where we have to step in."

Another bill that comes to mind and that really brings that to the foreground, a bill that we are currently debating in this House, is the water and sewer bill. About 25% of all the water and sewer facilities in this province are currently owned by the province, mainly older plants -- they are plants that were built in communities that could never have afforded to build those plants with their own financial resources -- and the province is now saying in that bill, Bill 107: "Here, you take it over, it's your responsibility. From now you will have to pay all the costs that are associated with it. You'll have to pay the capital debentures that may still be outstanding. Whether or not you can afford it, that's it." If it's such a wonderful idea, as I've said before in this House, why don't we leave it up to each municipality to decide, in a true partnership arrangement, whether they want to take on that responsibility? And there are other bills as well.

We have grave concern about the impact of this bill on municipalities. We have to look at it in the context of all the other government announcements that have been made during the last month that have dumped other financial responsibilities in a number of different areas on to municipalities. Municipality after municipality is already saying that what you have done to them in the last couple of months, by dumping all the social welfare and housing and health requirements on them, is going to cost local taxpayers, through their property taxes, more and more money.

Here we have an act that is going to prevent municipalities, even in their relationship with new development, from charging for those things that they in their elected wisdom think is best in their particular case. We have grave concern about that.

We think all these pieces of legislation are very much connected. Bill 98 can't be considered in isolation from this downloading of long-term care for seniors, welfare, public health services, child care, libraries, public housing, public transportation and highways. Those changes will hurt municipalities, and the bottom line is that the property taxpayers will face a cost of more than $1 billion.

You may be interested in knowing that just today an interim report was released by the community impact review committee, which was set up by our own caucus, on which different members from our caucus, under the chairmanship of Gerry Phillips, travelled around the province to find out the impacts of some of this downloading on the local taxpayer. They found that municipality after municipality is having tremendous difficulties with it and so are social agencies.

We should look at the actual figures of the downloading on to local municipalities. I know the government would like to take credit for the fact that it is taking $5.4 billion off the property tax roll through the removal of the education tax, but -- and I think we should go through this list again -- these are the costs being added on to the property tax system in Ontario at a cost of $6.3 billion, which is $1 billion more than what's being taken off.

In community policing, for example, $180 million is being added on. In the farm tax rebate system, $165 million is being added on to the property tax rolls. In the assessment services, which are going to be downloaded on to local municipalities, $120 million is being added on. In social housing, the operating costs alone for the social housing that exists in the province will all be downloaded on to local municipalities at a cost of $890 million.

Municipal transit and the GO service will add another $395 million. Libraries -- we'll be discussing the library bills tomorrow; I notice the minister is in the House today -- is another downloading on to municipalities of $20 million that in effect will do away with the free use of libraries at the local level. In public health $225 million is being added on. Ambulance services, which have never been a municipal responsibility, are going to add $200 million to the local taxpayers. Special care homes are going to add on $25 million.

The ferry subsidies: I've talked so much about this in this House because it affects three systems within my own riding and three communities whose lifeline to the rest of the province is literally at stake as a result of this downloading of $15 million. Fire, sewer and water: $10 million. In social assistance alone the amount of $2.6 billion is being downloaded on the local municipalities; child care $270 million; long-term care $1.1 billion.

There is an offset of $65 million in provincial offences, because the revenues will be going into the local municipalities, even though that figure of $65 million, I might say, is totally at variance with the figure Crombie came up with in his report. He figured it was only $30 million.

To put it all into perspective, $5.4 billion is being taken off the property tax roll but $6.3 billion is being added on, for an average cost in Ontario of $540 per household. What is the relationship of all of this to Bill 98? There's a direct relationship, because in Bill 98 you are not allowing municipalities to make their own arrangements with the developers as they come by and want to develop a parcel of land.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why you wouldn't do that. You are totally denying the fact that when a new subdivision is being built, those individuals are going to enjoy some of the municipal services that are already out there. To suggest that somehow this is going to make the price of housing cheaper in the province simply is not the case.


Even your own commission, the Crombie committee, was dead set against this recommendation. They do not believe there should have been any changes. Let me just quote, if I can find it here, exactly what Mr Crombie said about this. What did he say again? Well, it's in here somewhere, and I will get to it sooner or later. I know you will wait.

The people of Ontario have to understand that all of these bills we have been discussing here over the last two or three months, as they relate to their local municipalities, are interrelated. They are interrelated to the extent that the government of Ontario has taken over those areas where funding is stable and easy to control. It will be easier to control in the matter of education for the simple reason that statistics will show you that the school-age population within our society over the next 15 years will increase at a much diminished rate compared to the senior citizen population of this province. In other words, the demand for social and health care services that are now downloaded to the local municipalities is going to increase at a much greater rate than the demand for extra funding in the school system.

You've been very smart. I've got to give you credit for that. You have somehow conned the people of Ontario into thinking that it's a good deal for them. I know when I was involved in the municipal field I always got complaints too about how much the education portion was of the property tax bill. In some municipalities, it's over 50%, 60% or 70%. Many people said, "If we could only take those costs off, the property taxes would go down." I, in my own naïve manner, always used to think, "Yes, okay, if we take the property taxes off and if we have the municipalities pay for those hard-core services that municipal governments are involved with on a day-to-day basis, then property taxes will go down."

But I don't think that anybody ever thought or could conceive of a situation where the province would actually take health care costs, ambulance costs, social assistance or long-term-care costs and dump them on to municipalities.

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): It has already been done.

Mr Gerretsen: The minister says it's already being done now. But you know as well as I do, Minister, that it's being done at a much lower percentage rate right now. There is a huge difference between allowing municipalities to pay 20% of these costs and 50% of these costs or, in some cases, 100% of the costs, as you are saying in the matter of ambulance services to the local municipality.

This is all truly related. These are all bills that are going to make the Mike Harris government look good in that you can go ahead with your tax cut, with which of course none of us on this side agree; all of us believe you would be much better off trying to get the deficit down to zero, and then maybe we could talk about some tax relief to the people of Ontario. But to start giving money back before an individual budget in any given year is down to a zero base deficit is absolute nonsense.

According to your own figures, you the taxfighters, you the people who are fighting against the deficit and the public debt of this province, the public debt of this province is going from $100 billion last year to $120 billion in the year 1999. It just so happens that the extra $20 billion that it's going to increase by is going to be the amount of the accumulated tax cut you're giving to the people of the province of Ontario, 90% of which will end up in the pockets of people who are making $100,000 or more.

The bottom line is this: If you make a lot of money, then you're going to get a good tax cut. Your property taxes are going up. But if you are Mr and Mrs Average Ontario, the amount of extra money you'll find in your pocket from your paycheque may go up by $5, $10 or $15 a week, but you will end up paying, according to the Treasurer of Ontario's own figures, at least an additional $540, on average, in property taxes throughout the province of Ontario. That is even before taking into account the effects of Bill 98, because Bill 98, Mr Speaker, as you and I well know, is one of those bills that really doesn't matter much to anybody right now, except if you're a developer, when it's undoubtedly going to benefit you, or if you're a municipality, when it's undoubtedly going to affect the way you can negotiate with a developer. Nobody else is really affected until they actually buy that house or they actually find out that some of the services that used to be paid for in development charges can no longer be done, so municipalities will now have to take other money to do some of the things they can now no longer charge for.

I like the way the member for Oxford said, "You know, we now are going to rely on the local councils to make up the difference of money that they can no longer get from the developers in these various categories; We're going to rely on their good judgement," as if to say that before Bill 98 the amounts of money that were collected in development charges were somehow mismanaged or misused by the local councils, which is something I totally reject. You can't have it both ways. You can't say: "Once we pass our legislation, councils will become very responsible. We know they won't be able to collect as much any more, but we also know they're not going to spend it foolishly." That is saying, by reverse, that when they were able to collect it beforehand, they somehow wasted the money, and this is something I totally reject.

All these tactics are sort of typical Mike Harris tactics of divide and conquer, because now, in the future, municipalities will have to choose between the demands of the homeowners to keep the property taxes low -- and I know every municipal councillor out there is burdened by that and certainly wants to do that -- and the needs of the poor, the sick and the elderly. Those are going to be the choices that are left after a lot of the social and health care services have been downloaded on to local municipalities.

It is my hope that the government will realize that this is going to lead to very serious urban decay and a real sense of conflict between the property taxpayers of this province and those whose very lives depend on these programs. This mistake, I believe, must be fixed.

It's interesting that even Mike Harris's own friends, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, have called this a shell game. They've called it a shell game, your friends -- you used to quote them in the House here all the time -- because what you're going to lose through the tax cut you're going to make up in property taxes.

No one likes the status quo, but what is being proposed here in this series of legislation of which Bill 98 is an intricate part is worse than the status quo. It seems that the Tories are much more interested in getting things done fast than in getting them done right. The government is proceeding with dumping new cost responsibilities on to municipalities when they admit they don't yet know the real cost of transferring the highways, of paying for the social housing, of fixing dilapidated sewers and water facilities or of implementing new agencies to administer the long-term care.

It's kind of interesting. In all those three cases, which are three different aspects of municipal life, all we have focused on in this House so far are the ongoing operating costs on a day-to-day basis. We haven't even started to address where the capital costs will come from in order to rebuild those homes for the aged, in which the province used to play a major role. Who's going to pay that somewhere down the line, five or 10 years, when major retrofits are needed? Is the province going to come up with its share at that point in time?

The same thing applies with respect to the sewer and water facilities I talked about earlier. These are facilities that were built in the 1950s and 1960s under the enlightened Conservative governments of John Robarts and Bill Davis, and I'm sure the people who were involved in those days must be saying to themselves now, "My gosh, what has happened to my party?" There's no longer this consensus-building; there is just a transferring down to municipalities and, "Let them figure it out themselves," but only in those areas where they want to because, as we've seen in Bill 98, there they are going to restrict the municipalities to a much greater extent.


The government has announced a number of extremely significant changes with the Who Does What legislation, and the first massive change to the way that property taxes are raised includes the elimination of the $1.6-billion business occupancy tax, as Bill 106 has implemented. The $1.6 billion will be added on to residential, commercial and industrial property tax, along with the huge tax shifts between properties.

Second, the Who Does What recommendations talked about the effective elimination of school boards as they manage the school system, as the province takes over the financial responsibility and sets every school board budget in the province.

I was just trying to give you a general overview as to how this bill fits in, and I will now get to the specifics of the bill. I'm just sort of going along here.

Let me give you a couple of examples, and these are from municipalities. The member wasn't prepared to name the municipalities he regarded as having abused the system, and I'm not for a moment saying that these municipalities abuse the system, but I am going to give you some figures, according to their own departments, on how this new bill is going to affect them.

We heard about Mississauga before. Mississauga, if Bill 98 passes, will lose about $60 million in capital funding for new services over the next 10 years. I would like the members from Mississauga, and I know we've got four or five of them here, to address that issue.


Mr Gerretsen: The member says, "What's another $60 million?" Is that your attitude? Well, thank you very much. To him it doesn't matter, but I'll tell you, if you're a municipal councillor who has relied on this money in order to put the infrastructure in your community, then it certainly will matter. Obviously he doesn't have that experience and obviously he's a high roller, because $60 million he just sort of waves off with his hand like that.

Richmond Hill: $69 million. It is contemplating a 21.1% increase in property taxes to help pay for the new growth. Ajax: $6 million over five years.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): The city hall in Kingston.

Mr Gerretsen: No, the city hall in Kingston -- my friend there talks about the city hall in Kingston, and I could give you a whole dissertation about the city hall in Kingston. It was built in 1842, I will have you know, and it is still one of the buildings that we in eastern Ontario are extremely proud of because it was built during that very short period of time when Kingston was indeed the capital of Canada. It doesn't need money for this. As a matter of fact, in my community we don't have any development charges, and there are other communities as well, because basically we have worked it out with our development industries as to what kind of charges are to be made. We don't have any charges like this. We all know these charges are required much more for the new growth communities.

Mr Spina: A credit to you as the mayor.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, sir.

Then we have Burlington. They stand to lose $17.3 million over 10 years. As a matter of fact, the last issue of Municipal World, with which I'm sure the parliamentary assistant is well familiar, the issue of January 1997, gives a whole chart as to how the changes in the development charges will impact different municipalities. It is very interesting. You get places like Brampton, for example. They expect a mill rate increase -- and this is not a partisan document made up by my party or by some other; these figures come from the treasurers of the local municipalities. This comes from a non-partisan publication. This is not some sort of partisan document that may be highly suspect because it is being used for perhaps not the purposes for which it was intended.

In any event, this document shows that in Brampton they expect a 24.1% increase in the mill rate as a result of the contemplated changes in Bill 98; Aurora, 14.55% increase; East Gwillimbury, 15.22%; Georgina in York region, 13.6%; Markham, a 28.18% increase in the local tax rate. So those are the kinds of tax increases that people can expect as a result of the contemplated changes in Bill 98, which is going to demand a lot less money, in effect, from the developers when they want to develop a parcel of land. Richmond Hill, as I stated before, 21.1%; Vaughan, 13.2%. And yes, there are some municipalities that are hardly affected at all because they are more developed communities that don't require the kind of funding mechanisms in order to fund a lot of the infrastructure that's already there, where it's going to be a lot less.

It's kind of interesting how the GTA mayors and the regional chairs came up with some principles that have to be followed, that in their opinion should be followed, in considering new development charges legislation. I think it would be well for the parliamentary assistant to take these principles into account and to compare these principles to the principles that you used in your department in order to come up with the bill we've got before us. These principles are as follows:

"(1) New growth must continue to pay for itself." Okay?

"(2) Municipalities should have the right to establish, but be required to defend, reasonable, sustainable and cost-effective levels of service and to set the appropriate development charges to pay for those services."

The parliamentary assistant is nodding yes, that they're doing this, but you're not. You're not allowing that opportunity for municipalities. You are saying in your bill precisely what they can or cannot charge for, and it may very well be, Mr Parliamentary Assistant, that in a situation that you haven't even contemplated there may be situations where a particular charge is highly appropriate and called for that your legislation does not allow municipalities to implement. Why, if you are such a great believer and strong believer in forming a lasting, equal partnership with municipalities, do you even find it necessary to bring in this legislation? That's the question I would like you to answer.

The third principle that the group came up with was as follows: "(3) Development charges should be based on reasonably anticipated future levels of services and expenditures as determined by appropriate underlying studies."

I would like to know what kind of studies the province has in this particular case that these changes are necessary, because as I will be telling you later on, Mr Speaker, the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, as far as they are concerned, have come to the conclusion that really the old law hasn't affected development one way or another and that it has not been a detriment to the development industry in this province at all.

"(4) Development charge practices inconsistent with the spirit of the legislation are not supported by municipalities and should be dealt with accordingly.

"(5) Development charge legislation must achieve a high degree of administrative simplicity which is not apparent in the new legislation."

If there's one thing that I'm a strong believer in, it's to make these things as simple as possible, and the less administration you have in it, the better it is. But here is a group of municipalities that have dealt with this legislation, that have looked at it, and they've come to the conclusion, and I'll read it again, that "Development charge legislation must achieve a high degree of administrative simplicity which is not apparent in the new legislation." Here's this independent group that has said, "Look, you may have thought what you were doing made good administrative sense, but you're not simplifying it administratively at all." I think they ought to be listened to and ought to be given an awful lot of credence. These are the people who on a day-to-day basis administer the development charges legislation in this province.


"(6) Permissive legislation should enable municipalities to grant exemptions to development charges rather than legislating exemptions."

That's the whole point, isn't it? If a municipality finds, because of its particular development pressures in its situation, that it is really doing both the development industry and the future home buyer a major disservice by charging for items that are no longer required, or make it burdensome on any group that may be involved with the legislation or be affected by it, the municipality should be able to exempt that. It shouldn't require the province to exempt that. They shouldn't prejudge the issue beforehand, which is exactly what they're doing by enacting this kind of legislation.

"(7) There should be an attempt to ensure equity amongst taxpayers so that those who have had to bear the growth-related costs in the past are not now having to cross-subsidize further new growth."

That really is the essence of the whole situation. My friends will say, "They shouldn't have to pay for a city hall, they shouldn't have to pay for a new museum, and the other exemptions as well." Well, these people are going to enjoy the benefits of them. Why shouldn't they be forced to pay, through the development charges, some of these costs? Why shouldn't they? This seventh principle clearly goes to that principle that anyone who benefits from having the services there should in effect pay towards them.

"(8) Any savings that accrue as a result of reductions in development charges should be passed on to end users." And the end users, of course, are the taxpayers.

"(9) Municipalities are willing to review the issue of service standards and how best to address any concerns together with the province and the development industry."

That obviously is not happening here because the province basically has decided that its friends, the developer industry, as a result of a very effective lobby -- I've got to give them credit for that -- have been able to push forward at this time a piece of legislation that the province itself, last December or November, didn't think was of the utmost urgency.

We all know there's much more urgent legislation required now in a number of different areas. One area we talked about earlier is the whole area of truck safety. This is a priority of all three parties. I think all of us are concerned about the wheels flying off trucks as we go along the highway, and why the government isn't bringing that legislation forward at this point in time is beyond us.

Mr Flaherty: Why won't you sit to midnight? Too lazy?

Mr Gerretsen: No, I'm not lazy at all, sir, but you have to get your priorities straight. Why is this matter such a great priority at this point --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. To the member for Durham Centre, those are words that can attract ire. You've got to be careful you don't use that type of word. It's not unparliamentary but it's offensive. I would find it offensive if you would tell me. I hope you understand.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I almost choked on the member's words, but I'll get through it.

I talked earlier about the Crombie recommendations, and I have found them now. I think we should review this because here we're talking about an individual, David Crombie, who was not only an excellent mayor of the city of Toronto, so I understand -- he certainly has that reputation outside -- he was a cabinet minister. He was instructed by and engaged by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to construct this Who Does What panel to look at the various acts that are out there and to make certain recommendations.

What did that commission say about the Development Charges Act as proposed by the government? This comes from a letter he wrote to the minister on November 8. He states:

"The subpanel believes that the range of services and associated capital costs that can be included under the act are reasonable and fair." Those are the existing costs he's talking about and the existing services. "It recognizes that a number of technical administrative amendments are required to improve the operational aspects of the act. Furthermore, current legislation provides a satisfactory process to ensure that the development charges policy is applied in a fair and open fashion."

In other words, there's already a process in place to make sure the developers aren't gouged, the municipalities aren't gouged and the homeowners aren't gouged. This process applies for public meetings as well as appeals to the OMB. The subpanel further goes on and states:

"Development charges are a critical and essential municipal revenue source for financing growth-related capital infrastructure. Any amendments to the act to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees. It is also noted that the permissive nature of the act does not obligate municipalities to impose a development charge." That goes back to the earlier comment I made, that there are many municipalities that simply don't have these charges. "For these reasons, the subpanel strongly recommends" -- I'd like the parliamentary assistant to take note of this -- "that municipalities should continue to decide on the level of development charges in accordance with the act."

Why don't you leave it to the municipalities? I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record on that, but it is an absolute fact that if you really believe in partnership with municipalities, if you really want to give municipalities the full power and control over their own destiny, allow them to decide it themselves, and I'm very pleased to say that the Crombie commission, the government's own commission, totally agrees with our position on that.

Clearly the government is cherry-picking the recommendations of the Crombie commission instead of implementing them as a coordinated policy. The government doesn't agree with Crombie's recommendations on development charges, so it ignores them. Other recommendations that help it transfer funding get the government's rubber stamp of approval.

As with other actions the government has taken, the result has been chaos, conflict and instability, and we can certainly all attest to the instability aspect of it. In the hearings that we held around the province -- we went to about five or six municipalities; this is our own caucus group, and I quoted from that report earlier -- we spoke to 300 to 400 groups in about 10 different municipalities. If one message came over loud and clear again and again it was the message that a lot of these organizations simply don't know what the funding sources are going to be, simply don't know how much they're going to receive, simply don't know how much taxes are going to go up.

This is really disconcerting to a lot of people, because people want to know out there. I know the average taxpayer will say, "Maybe this is just an argument between the government and the opposition and the municipalities, and who do we believe?" I can understand people taking that position. You're getting so much information, it's almost like information overload. Who are you to believe? Today we have megacity elections here in Toronto. Who is to be believed? Should it be yes? Should it be no? Is the downloading really happening?

I can tell you that as far as the local municipalities that have taken a look at all the legislation are concerned -- I'm not talking about the political bodies; I'm talking about the clerks and treasurers, I'm talking about the CAOs at the different municipalities -- they've come up with figures as to what all this downloading means, and this is even before the implications of Bill 98 are taken into account: the city of Kingston, $28 million more on the property tax roll as a result of downloading; Brantford, $32 million more; the city of London, $57 million or more; you go to the region of Ottawa-Carleton, $120 million to $160 million.

I know a lot of people will say: "What do those figures mean? Why don't you translate it into something that's manageable?" I know that in my community it means that property taxes are going to increase by $540, on the average, per household. In other words, whatever somebody's taxes are now, with all the current programs that the government wants to implement and if we don't have any changes in them whatsoever as far as taking programs away or adding new programs on etc is concerned, the people are going to be paying, on the average, $540 more next year than they are this year, and that is wrong. That is the bottom line. That is the kind of figure I think the average person can relate to.

Getting back specifically to this bill, I've already given you the statistics on Vaughan, Oakville and Burlington, which are some of the other municipalities. Those are the municipalities that have halted or restricted development in some way. Yes, this was interesting. There were a number of municipalities that in effect said: "Look, we don't know what is going to happen. We are going to freeze all development until we know what act actually applies." I think that's probably hurting development more than anything else.


It should come as no surprise to the government that municipalities are diametrically opposed to this legislation, as are the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers. It is very interesting, and I will just quickly refer to what the municipal clerks and treasurers had to say about this because these people have taken a look at the whole act. They've done a very detailed study. They've looked at what they could charge under the current legislation and what it will be under the new legislation, and this is the conclusion they come to. It also addresses the earlier point about how the current act has really affected development in Ontario.

Let me just read you a rather lengthy paragraph. I'll take it section by section, but it'll give you some idea as to what the clerks and treasurers of Ontario think. They believe "that municipalities have utilized the authority provided under the current act in a responsible manner." They believe "that the charges imposed by municipalities have not had a significant impact on the quantity of housing construction or the cost of housing to the consumer. These aspects of the housing sector were affected by other market forces which determine housing prices and market size and which render development charges inconsequential in affecting housing costs and housing supply. In addition, a report prepared in May 1996 by Metro planning, with funding support from the office for the greater Toronto area and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, entitled Towards an Industrial Land Strategy, found that `Since development charges are a one-time charge they have little impact on the decision-making of many industrial tenants.'"

Isn't that interesting? Remember, one of the major pieces of this legislation is the fact that if an expansion takes place of 50% or less of the existing industrial plans -- it's expanded by 50% or less -- you can't charge any development charges. That is a tremendous loss to the municipalities. But let's just read again; let me just tell you once again what this study that was partly funded by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said. It said:

"`Since development charges are a one-time charge they have little impact on the decision-making of many industrial tenants.' In fact, many municipalities have chosen to impose only a percentage of the development charge," which gets back to the earlier comments made by the parliamentary assistant. He makes it sound as if all of these municipalities, under the existing legislation, have been gouging the development industry. This independent report clearly states that many municipalities have chosen to impose only a percentage of the development charge or no development charges at all, as I indicated earlier.

"While the current act provides some flexibility to do so while not limiting the ability of the municipality to address unique situations, Bill 98" -- the bill that we're dealing with here today, according to the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, according to a study that was partly funded by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing -- "reduces municipal flexibility to finance growth-related service requirements and, in a number of situations, will impose additional costs on the citizens of municipalities to the benefit of the development industry."

There you have it in black and white, not from a political party, not from a poor anti-development part of the industry, but from an independent group that clearly states, and I'll read it once again, "Bill 98 reduces municipal flexibility to finance growth-related service requirements and, in a number of situations, will impose additional costs on the citizens of municipalities to the benefit of the development industry." I ask you, is that right?

"Furthermore," it goes on to say, "there is no mechanism to force developers to pass on the savings from development charges to home buyers and the development industry has given no indication of an intention to do so. As a consequence, there is little likelihood that Bill 98 will result in lower prices for new housing."

Mr Parliamentary Assistant, you answer that question, you answer it at the appropriate time, "As a consequence, there is little likelihood that Bill 98 will result in lower prices for new housing." So who is Bill 98 going to benefit? There's only one group of people, and those are the developers.


Mr Gerretsen: Look, this isn't my document; this is an independent study that was done that was partly funded by your ministry and it has come to that conclusion. These are the clerks and treasurers that each municipality relies on for all the best kind of information of a financial nature that they require.

Certainly, to my way of thinking, if there's any doubt at all by the general public in Ontario as to what this legislation is all about, it's about only one thing, and that is there's absolutely no guarantee that the price of housing will go down, there's no guarantee that the so-called cost saving will be passed on to the consumers. But there will definitely be a guarantee that in effect those municipalities that have development charges will be collecting less money and will have to increase their taxes, as we've already heard from Richmond Hill, from Markham, from various other places, where the taxes could rise anywhere from 5% to 25%.

Again I say to the government, what's the hurry with this legislation? Why bring this forward at this point of time? You gave it first reading in November of last year. This truck safety legislation is something that all three parties are extremely interested in, and forget about the three parties, that the public in Ontario is extremely interested in.

People who are driving, particularly the 400-series highways, are concerned on an ongoing basis when they're passing another group of trucks, "Is it going to happen to me this time?" It's almost like being involved with the lottery except it's on the downside: "Is a flying wheel going to hit my car?" I'll tell you, it's a concern that I have, and I know many other people have as well, as you drive along the highways.

That's the kind of legislation we should be debating here, not legislation that the government, for whatever reason, didn't feel it was necessary to reintroduce or to bring forward for second reading over a four-month period of time. We all know that at the end of this week we're going on a break for a short period of time, so if there is any urgent legislation, this would have been the time to bring it in.

The other thing is that the government tries to justify this bill by citing the example of a $20,000 lot levy on a $140,000 home, for a total new cost to the homeowner of $160,000. Let me first of all say it's my understanding that the locations where lot levies have been more than $10,000 are confined strictly to the GTA, and since lot levies are tied to the value of the home, fees of over $10,000 are usually found only on homes costing more than $200,000. Al Leach's $20,000 lot levy that he talked about on a $140,000 home is not only highly abnormal but it must be treated with great suspicion, unless he is actually willing to document it here. I know the statement has been made, but to the best of my recollection he has never actually indicated just where these houses are for $140,000 that have a $20,000 lot levy on top of it.

Before turning it over to my colleague from Yorkview, there's just one other point I want to make. This was as a result of a presentation that was made to us, and it wasn't directly in relation to this bill but it was in relation to a related bill, Bill 20. It was made by C.N. Watson and Associates. This is an organization that I must admit I was familiar with by name only. It's a firm of consulting economists that works for municipalities, works for school boards, works for interest groups etc. They did their own independent analysis of Bill 20, which I know is the Planning Act, but also of the development charges component of it that is now reflected in this bill.

It's very interesting to see the conclusions that they came up with. Just from reading their brief, they have at one time acted for both developers and municipalities. They've been on all sides of the fence. I'll just read you some of this, because I think it's very interesting. It comes from a firm that obviously deals an awful lot with these kinds of development situations, but from all different angles.

It states in that report, "Based on the ministry releases and speeches, we understand that the primary purpose is to remove an obstacle to growth and to development which would be created by future increases in development charges." It goes on to say that the underlying assumption is presumably that development charges are already unduly high and are being increased substantially in some cases. It is assumed that they would continue to increase at an unreasonable rate in the absence of, in that case, the Bill 20 controls. Also this legislation prevents development charges being used as an alternate capital funding source to compensate for subsidy declines.


The comment they come up with is -- and they have looked at about 54 different municipalities -- "Based on our research, and with a limited number of exceptions, the answer to this question is no." That is the question of whether or not development charges have been increasing significantly in recent years. During the past four years, the vast majority of development charges, in 91% of these municipal situations, have either declined or have remained unchanged in real terms after you adjust for inflation.

What's interesting about this is that it does away with the whole notion that somehow development charges are to blame for the lack of growth within the development industry or the lack of development at all. According to what they have studied, of 51 actual municipalities in the province of Ontario, in 91% of them, more than nine out of 10, the development charges either declined or have remained unchanged, and they have had little effect on whether or not the development charges have been increasing. That's the argument the government always likes to bring forward as the reason this kind of legislation is necessary.

Madam Speaker, I would just like to wind up my portion of it and turn it over to my colleague by once again reminding you and the members here and the people of Ontario that what we are really talking about here is all part of a giant scheme by Mike Harris to basically take over costs that are going to be much more predictable in the future, such as education costs, because we all know that the school-age population of this province is going to rise at a much lower rate than the senior-citizen population and those people who will require the social services, health care services, long-term-care services and social housing services of this province, because that's going to rise at a much greater rate. He's taking over sure costs over highly volatile and unpredictable costs.

In the climate where that's going to take place, about which there's already much confusion in this province, because municipalities really don't know whether they're coming or going as far as what the cost implications are going to be, to add on this new Bill 98, which is in effect going to limit the municipality's ability to deal with its developers in a fair and equitable fashion, as has been the case, as has been indicated by the independent studies, to my way of thinking is making it much tougher on municipalities once again and it's certainly not helping them. If it's helping them, then why aren't they in favour? Why isn't AMO in favour? Why isn't the AMCTO, the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, in favour if it's all such a good deal?

I say to this government, take this bill back. Take it back. Do what you said you'd promise to do at AMO conference after AMO conference, when the minister stands in front of the delegates and says, "I want to be in partnership with you." Make it a truly equal partnership situation by allowing the municipality to charge those development charges that it can negotiate with its own developers in its own particular situation. Do not impose this kind of legislation on municipalities. They are going to have it tough enough in the years to come with the other downloading legislation. With that, I'd like to turn it over to my colleague from Yorkview.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: For some time there has not been a quorum in the House, and before the member begins to speak I think it would be appropriate to call a quorum.

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

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Mr Sergio: I am pleased to add to the debate on this important piece of legislation which the government has introduced at this particular time.

Before I get into the discussion and the debate, I would like to congratulate my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands on his extremely in-depth presentation. Let me repeat what he said at the beginning: What was the urgency to introduce this bill now, Bill 98, which deals with the development charges, when we have some other much more pressing, much more important legislation that I think the government should have introduced to the House and dealt with? I am speaking of the transportation, highway, whatever you wish to call it -- I call it the flying wheel bill. It is the law that the minister has introduced himself and he said, "I hope I get the opposition's support." We have said, "Let's do it now," because we understand the importance of that legislation.

Of course, the government in its wisdom has decided to introduce Bill 98 and we will have to wait for the much more important and much more urgent bill which is something that saves lives on a daily basis. With all the good intentions of the government and the Minister of Transportation, wheels are still flying and people's lives are in peril every hour of the day, so I hope the minister is listening somewhere. I hope whoever is in the House from the government side can get to the minister or the Premier and get on with that particular legislation, as it's an urgent matter.

Let's get back to Bill 98. The member for St Catharines previously during the course of debate today said this is another bill -- Bill 98, about development charges and saving money, creating jobs and more accountability for the local municipalities -- to benefit solely, in a hurry, developers. Mainly that's what it is, because municipalities are not truly thrilled with this thing here. As my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands said, AMO is opposed and so are many other leaders from various municipalities. So when the minister introduced this piece of legislation, like so many other bills, and said this is an act to promote job creation, I really don't know how this is going to create jobs.

With all due respect, it is two years now and we have the Minister of Labour or development, the minister there, who has brought absolutely nothing forth in this House with respect to a job creation program or plan or proposal. They are just hoping things get better so they can look good and save themselves some of the money they need to give as a rebate to some of the richer people. So one is job creation and the other one is municipal accountability.

This is ironic because we have a government that says, "We want to give local municipalities more accountability." I wish they would make up their minds. Some municipalities know where they stand. Locally elected mayors, reeves, councillors and so forth would know exactly where they stand with the direction of this government, because up to now everything they have done is working totally against the interests of the local councils and local municipalities.

It also says for providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth. Who is going to benefit from those recovery charges or costs? Certainly not the taxpayer and certainly not the new homeowner. It's going to go directly and quickly into the pockets of builders, developers and new house construction.


When AMO is opposed to it and many leaders are opposed to it, there must be something wrong with the proposed legislation. I'll tell you, when you have Her Worship Hazel McCallion, the mayor of Mississauga, saying, "We are going to stop development in the city of Mississauga because we are being forced to use general property tax money to pay for construction of roads and other major infrastructure," and that they cannot use moneys recovered from development charges, then the title of the bill flies in the face of the government and the minister when they say to increase municipal accountability.

If this is the intent of the bill, if this is the intent of the government, then why don't they give that flexibility to the local municipalities and say: "We believe some adjustments should be made to the amount of money you're charging for new development" -- that's the development charges -- "but we are going to give you the flexibility, you local municipalities, mayors, politicians, duly elected by that particular municipality. You're going to apply it, you're going to spend it where you think it's best." Well, that's not the case.

In 1989, as a matter of fact, recognizing this particular problem and trying to help the construction industry and to provide developers with some additional means to provide affordable lots for construction, so they could provide more affordability on the market, they changed, they reformed the development charges and allowed -- I'm pleased that the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is in the House, because I used to get all the monthly articles, and they were wonderful, which he was writing on behalf of the Urban Development Institute/Ontario.

I have to say that I enjoyed his articles. I have a couple of them here, and I have others as well but not from the particular member. He was fair in his assessment of the situation in the building industry and the relation to the government of the day. I have to give him credit for those wonderful articles that he was writing on behalf of the Urban Development Institute.

Before I proceed, let me quote some of the information provided to me late in 1996. The cost of servicing land or new lots and finally being passed on to a new home buyer is not the $20,000 the minister wants us to believe is associated with direct development charges; it doesn't even amount to that, taking into consideration all the other charges.

I'll just give you some because I want to proceed with other information I'd like to bring to the House. For example, there is a processing fee for an official plan zoning amendment, and some municipalities charge more, some charge less, depending on the type of rezoning or official plan amendment. It's in the neighbourhood of $400, based on a townhouse worth about $160,000. There is the engineering fee of $200. There is parkland dedication or cash in lieu, which is $1,450. There are the actual development charges of $6,800. There are building permit fees, again according to the municipalities, about $1,000. There is the plumbing inspection and the water meter charges and the hydro meter charges and municipal inquiries and then GST and what have you. It is not the $20,000 that the minister would like us to believe and say, "The price of homes is too high, is unaffordable, solely because of development charges."

Ultimately, whatever we do trickles down to one particular person, that is, the taxpayer in Ontario. It doesn't matter what we do. For example, I have yet to see any developer who owns land zoned for non-residential purposes who over the years has it rezoned and builds housing of various types who then passed on to the home buyer a cheaper cost because they enjoyed a very low price when they bought the land maybe 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Why don't they take that into consideration?

As I was saying, in 1989 the Liberal government did amend, did make changes to, did reform the development charges and allowed developers to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board if they felt the development charges of that particular local municipality were excessive. The government of the day recognized that. The development industry accepted that. I think there was a court case where some municipality was gouging developers and they appealed it and won. I guess that was the result of the reform.

Developers have that particular avenue, but now this government wants to impose on the local municipalities a restricted amount they can charge as development charges. That makes the bill totally unfair to the local municipalities.

Again I have to point out the title of the bill in which they say, "We want to give an increased municipal accountability." Well, either you do or you don't. If you want to give the local municipality that freedom and flexibility to act, to be responsible on their own within their own municipality, do not go and impose such a restrictive measure where you say, "You can only charge so much for development charges." I find that totally counterproductive.

To give you an example, a few years ago, while I was still sitting on North York city council, when times were not really that good, some big builders or developers had gone on the market and had bought every possible parcel of land for future consideration. We know what happened, of course: The economy has been lagging for a longer time and that proved to be quite a burden on many developers.

Mr Lastman and the city council took it upon themselves and said: "Look, we've got to help the local economy. We have to help the building industry, the development industry, so we have to so something about it." The city adjusted their fees accordingly to reflect those times. In many cases they completely eliminated the development charges. That's what I call responsible government at the local level, at the closest level.

And do you know what? North York city council and the mayor didn't get any flak from anyone because they understood that times were tough. As long as land was sitting there unproductive, no development charges of any kind were going to come in until you had a developer come the counter at city hall and say: "I want to build. Where do I start? Where do I make my application? There is my first cheque." I think the government should understand that.


You have, of all people, a person extremely respected by this government, a person extremely experienced at the local level. I am speaking of former Mayor Crombie, who has had good experience at the municipal level. I remember when he was mayor of the city of Toronto. Why doesn't the government listen to someone with authority in that particular field when he says it is wrong to do what you are doing? Again, it's how you're doing it. There is someone who is telling the government that what they are doing and how they are doing it is totally the bunk, yet they are willing to proceed with it.

As I said before, when you have the mayor of Mississauga saying, "I'm going to stop development," who is going to benefit in the end? Developers are still going to make their profit regardless of when and where they build. If they don't make so much, they're going to make a little, and I assure you, ultimately the one who is going to pay the end price, every penny added, is the homeowner.

I should add that at the present time 10% of all new construction already must come from property taxes under this Bill 98. It's forcing municipalities to shell out 10% of all new construction costs, which means for sewers, water facilities, roads, landfill, hydro, fire, police. Why is that? Why don't we leave that flexibility to the local municipalities to decide if they should be applying 10%, 20%, or nothing at all as long as those services are being provided? In addition to that, 30% for services such as libraries and social services must be paid from the general property taxes.

Why would this particular bill restrict the local municipality from using development charges for cultural, recreational and entertainment facilities, for parkland acquisitions, for providing hospitals and, if you will, to enhance their own municipality with respect to tourism and administration expenses? In the last four weeks -- not that we didn't know -- we have heard hundreds of taxpayers and politicians say how well most local municipalities are run, so why can't the government give those municipalities the freedom to be responsible for what they do in their local municipalities and apply the development charges where most needed within their local municipalities?

I don't think there is anyone who doesn't say that the government closest to the people is the local government: the local mayor, the local trustee, the local councillors and so forth. If the minister recognized that, if the Premier recognized that, then why the heck don't we allow the local municipalities to conduct their own affairs, charge whatever they want according to their own needs and apply those development charge recoveries in the most needing area? It boils down that it's nothing more than a gift to developers, and it's an additional expense or tax to the taxpayers.

Just to deviate from my notes here, let me pass some information again with respect to the end result, which is whoever is going to be renting that particular unit or buying that particular unit. When we say cost, it's cost, because ultimately the municipality will have to get the money from somewhere, and again, it's that poor homeowner or that poor tenant who will have to pay the differences. They will be asking for new municipal recreational fees.

The information I'm giving you is related to a family of two working people earning somewhere in the neighbourhood of $55,000 per year. This is what it would cost a family of two working people with earnings of about $50,000: recreational fees, an additional $30; new garbage fees, $50; new water fees, $100; increased municipal property taxes -- and yes, the municipal taxes will go up -- are very low, $30; school board taxes, another $30; one student transit fee, $264; increased cost of three adult transit passes, $180; and increased tuition for one student at university, $490.

I say this because that cost which we are forcing on the local municipality, the local municipality has to pass on to someone else, and ultimately it's the taxpayer. I wonder why the province would want to force the local municipality, twisting the local municipality to either increase taxes or lower services. I'm afraid in most cases, they will have to do both.

We oppose the content of this bill for the reasons that have been mentioned and for those that I haven't mentioned so far myself. There is no reason that the government should proceed in the way it has done, speeding the legislation on this particular bill. Even when you have good Conservatives such as Mr Don Cousens, the former Conservative finance critic and now mayor of Markham --

Mr Gerretsen: What did he say?

Mr Sergio: He said that taxes will rise and that the government, practically, is catering to the development industry. Does that mean the government is so bent that now it's taking orders from the development industry and it has forgotten the one and only taxpayer? Who is going to be the winner in all of this? Developers; not taxpayers, not homeowners, because new homes are still going up.

I think the government should really pay heed to what Mr Crombie had to say. I don't know if this has been brought to the attention of the House, but it's worthwhile that I do again just in case it hasn't. Let me read this. This comes from David Crombie of the Who Does What panel:

"Development charges are a critical and essential municipal revenue source for financing growth-related capital infrastructure. Any amendments to the act to reduce the scope or permitted level of development charges will mean higher municipal taxes or user fees. It is also noted that the permissive nature of the act does not obligate municipalities to impose a development charge. For these reasons, this panel strongly recommends that the municipalities should continue to decide on the level of development charges in accordance with the act."


This comes from Mr Crombie, but what about the Association of Municipalities of Ontario? Again, because my time is coming quickly to an end, the government must pay attention to what it is doing to the building industry, not favouring one side at the expense of another. Take, for example, the law that we have to impose on the people of Ontario. Today, for example, just briefly, when the minister says, "We are going to cooperate with the local municipalities," does this mean that they are listening to the local municipalities? Who are the local municipalities? It is people. If the proposed legislation is not fair, if it is not right to impose it on the local municipalities, surely the minister, the Premier, the government must understand that it's not right to impose it on the people.

I hope the results of today's so-called megacity will really get the minister and the government to pay some attention and use the result, the voice of the people, even in some other areas such as this particular law.

Ultimately, Madam Speaker -- and that's okay. I can appreciate; you carry on discussion with our friend Peter. I'm used to speaking in the House and everybody's conducting their business. This is the political life here. But I can see that there are some members in the House and I can see that there are a couple of ministers and they are listening, and I think it's important. I think that is good and I hope they take the information that the opposition is offering to the government side, because quite often even at the committee level, for example, we hear some government members saying: "You people don't have anything to offer. You just criticize but don't offer any alternative to what we are proposing." Well, we are.

When we have a government that consistently keeps on introducing bills, laws, that do not make any sense solely because they have not been well thought out -- and the megacity bill is just one of those examples. It came out of the blue without thinking how this would affect the people within Metropolitan Toronto and indirectly even the people out of Toronto. This is another one here. So we are saying we have good information that we want to pass along to you, but you have to listen.

Are they listening, Madam Speaker? They are not listening. Is the minister listening? I really do hope the members present in the House, especially the minister, will be able to bring the information to their caucus and say: "Look, this is not only us. We have the industry out there as well that is saying no." But above all, I think what the government must understand is the government must not speak from both sides of its mouth when it says, "We are going to introduce and approve this bill, Bill 98, because we want to give local municipalities increased accountability," and then introduce a bill like this.

A bill like this ties the local municipality's hands completely. At the local municipality, they don't just have to build a road and curbs, but bring in hydro and bring in all the other services. A community, especially a new community -- and we are not talking here within Metro, because Metro is saturated, if you will. You may have a little pocket, you may have an infill here and there, but you don't have any more large tracts of land where you have to bring in all kinds of services and build hundreds and thousands of homes. We don't have that any more in Metro.

But a municipality has the responsibility to bring in other services essential to the future life of those particular communities. Even if they are sidewalks, it's part and parcel of that infrastructure, for the safety of pedestrians, for example. They will have to provide new fire stations in those communities. They will have to provide new schools. They will have to provide hospitals. They will have to provide libraries. So why aren't we allowing the local municipality, saying: "As long as you have responsible local government, you should have the choice to charge whatever you feel is right, whatever you feel is important, whatever you feel is necessary to provide services to your local community and especially the new communities"? And so it should be.

I don't think that we should deny the government when even the government says, "We have to eliminate the red tape." My goodness, this is a government that wants to eliminate red tape and here we are imposing more restrictions on the local municipalities. I find this totally unfair, totally illogical. I think the reason why most municipalities are so responsible is because the people are there to control it, to attend meetings with their own local councillors in their own community and let them know what's right and what's wrong.

At the present time -- and I know my seconds are running out -- developers have the revenue. If they think a local municipality is gouging them, they can go for an appeal and have the development charges lowered. I think that's the way it should be. As long as an avenue is given to those developers or builders, construction, speculators, land owners, to make sure they are being treated fairly by the local municipality, that's the way we should keep it and not impose by force any restrictions on the local municipality. That's when these relations are often untenable, and if the government wants really to serve the local communities, that's what they should do.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've been listening carefully to the member for Yorkview. It's unfortunate that the Conservative backbenchers aren't prepared to do the same, because it's the insights of the member for Yorkview and others who will be addressing this most unpleasant attack on property taxpayers which the government backbenchers should be paying a little more heed to.

Talk about being in the back pockets of the big developers. This government is so deep in the back pockets of the big-money corporate developers they're spitting out lint.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Welland-Thorold, you have to withdraw that. Would you withdraw that, please.

Mr Kormos: The back pocket part or spitting it out?

The Acting Speaker: Will you withdraw?

Mr Kormos: I'll withdraw it, Speaker. You didn't seem to mind that when I was accusing the Liberal government of that with respect to the auto insurance industry. But fine, if your sensitivities are offended, I'll withdraw that, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Kormos: But the people out there know what I'm talking about. They know who's in the back pocket of the big corporate development industry, so deep in their back pockets that they're spitting out lint. They know that this bill is all about attacking working people and attacking property taxpayers to give yet another break to the corporate friends, the corporate benefactors of this gaggle of Tories that have taken over Queen's Park and exorcised it, I'll tell you, of democracy. This government wouldn't know democracy if it bit them on the nose.

We see what they're doing to the GTA -- well, to Toronto and the cities surrounding it by -- imposing their megacity bill, and now they're imposing upon communities across Ontario the will of the big corporate developers. Somebody's got to be on the take here. I'm not going to suggest that it's the government because that would be unparliamentary, but draw your own conclusions. People out there are.


Mr Spina: I just want to address a couple of points made by both the member for Kingston and The Islands and the member for Yorkview.

First, he said that a 24% increase in the mill rate would occur in Brampton. Well, tonight on my cable show I will have the chair of the budget committee and the CAO of the region of Peel. Both have publicly declared a 0% mill rate increase for the 1997-98 budget and in fact project an even better situation for the year 1999-2000.

The real payback is this --


The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Kingston and The Islands come to order.

Mr Spina: The real payback is this: The former mayor of Kingston says he's proud of the fact that Kingston had no development charges, and I compliment them on that. The reason is that development charges, which I think were a beast created by the Liberal government in the mid-1980s, was really something that became an outlandish crutch for municipalities to be able to suck on business, to be able to spend on frivolous services.

Let me give you the example: They may lose money in development charges but the real payback is in the development that will occur and the jobs that will be created.

A quick anecdote: The Chrysler plant in my own riding had a major expansion and was going to incur an $800,000 development charge for nothing. The city services were already there. The costs were already paid for in the original development of the plant. It was a useless charge; some 250 jobs almost lost.

The Acting Speaker: Your time is up. Questions or comments?

Mr Bradley: I want to compliment the member for Yorkview and the member for Kingston and The Islands for outlining for this Legislature the ramifications of this bill. They recognize, as Hazel McCallion does, that this is a real problem, as so many municipal mayors and councillors understand, like Don Cousens, who used to sit in this Legislature. Don must be beside himself right now over what this government is doing, because he wasn't one of the arch right-wingers who now sit on the government benches.

We have to understand that this government is downloading on to municipalities not only the onerous responsibilities for areas over which they had no jurisdiction, or only partial jurisdiction, in the past, but at the same time they are downloading the substantial costs.

Municipalities trying to cope with this at least had the availability of development charges to meet some of these costs. Now that is being taken away, so the choice will become even more difficult now for them. They'll either have to cut essential services -- and of course when you cut essential services, it's lower- and medium-income people who are affected, not the rich who can buy these services for themselves -- or they'll have to raise municipal property taxes that do not take into account a person's ability to pay, whereas of course they're cutting the income tax, which benefits the richest people in this province the very most.

They're attacking municipal councillors on this. I can tell you, I've listened to members of Conservative caucus say municipalities were abusing this; when I ask them, they won't name the municipalities. So either they aren't abusing it or they're afraid to name those municipalities. We could see some user fees, which again affect low-income people the most, or we can see a cut in services, as I say.

This is just a friend-of-the-developers bill. They'll have to build bigger halls in Ontario to hold the Conservative fund-raisers because the developers will be knocking down the walls.

Mrs Boyd: I want to congratulate the member for Kingston and The Islands and the member for Yorkview for their very thorough review of the kind of reasoning behind this particular bill and the real concerns that both opposition parties have to the way in which the government is proceeding.

It is important for us to recognize that these two speakers come from very different parts of the province and different urban situations and yet they both share a very strong concern that is similar. I think it's important for us to understand that this concern is felt by those all over the province who really see this bill as an effort on the part of the Conservative government to win support from the development community. It is not, as it has been characterized by members like the member for Durham Centre, a way to guarantee that young families are going to be able to afford houses. We challenge the members to show us any instance where a decrease in this kind of cost can really be expected to result in lower costs to the people who are buying those houses.

Another issue is that development charges, as the member for Durham Centre said a while ago, are there to build the infrastructure that's needed for communities. He suggested that somehow that didn't have anything to do with the families who were going to be living in those communities. That is absolutely the wrong notion. The member for Yorkview, because of his riding, is well equipped to tell us what happens when communities grow up without the appropriate social, recreational structures. The problems in his riding largely result from the lack of those facilities within the riding he represents. I congratulate both of these members on their talks.

Mr Gerretsen: I thank the other members and my colleague from Yorkview for entering into this debate. Particularly with respect to the member for Brampton North, what he fails to totally understand is that if you leave it up to individual municipalities, they will best determine what they could charge and what the financial outlay is going to be for them.

Obviously they haven't taken into account this particular act in their budgeting for this year, because it hasn't been passed yet -- or is this one of those other arrogant moves, that we already assume something is legislation before it has gone through the legislative process?

While I'm up on my feet, let me just congratulate the member for Frontenac-Addington. He was loudly hailed in our local newspaper in an editorial for joining the opposition and taking on his harsh and callous government on the hospital cuts. I want the people of Ontario to know that there are five other Tories in this House, including the member for Frontenac-Addington, who have attacked their own government on the hospital cuts and they're saying to their government, "Don't do that."


Mr Gerretsen: You voted in favour of the resolution. Don't try to deny it now, Bill. You got a tremendous editorial in the Kingston Whig-Standard that I'm sure you will be quoting in the next election, so take it for what it's worth. You voted against the government and the downloading of services and the tremendous hospital cuts we're currently involved with, and I will certainly remind you of that, as will many others I'm sure in the days to come.

I would just like to thank everyone for having been involved in this debate and once again remind the members that if you truly believe in an equal partnership with municipalities, if you truly believe in that, then let the municipalities deal with the developers alone. They're elected by people; they know what's best for their municipalities. They don't need the interference from the provincial government.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Margaret Marland): Further debate? The member for Fort York.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Thank you, Madam Speaker, and welcome to the Speaker's chair. It is good to have you there.

It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak to this act, as they call it, An Act to promote job creation and increased municipal accountability while providing for the recovery of development costs related to new growth -- the Development Charges Act.


This particular bill is an act that serves the developers and only the developers. This is an act that has been influenced by the Urban Development Institute and, as a result, this government has acted very quickly. In the same way that they have titled this act, they've titled so many other acts as well. It's germane when I refer to a number of other acts that this government has passed -- and I know you're listening attentively to what I'm about to say -- another act called the Tenant Protection Act. You will recall that. Each title has something that appears to be speaking to something that is good: in this case to promote job creation, in this case the recovery of development costs and somehow that is going to be fair to somebody.

So too with the so-called Tenant Protection Act: it makes it appear that there's something in it for tenants. This act makes it appear like there's something in it for the young people who are about to buy new homes. I will show why that is likely not to happen, just as I have shown in past discussions around the Tenant Protection Act that there is nothing in that bill to protect tenants. In fact, it belies all of what it presupposes to do. It does the very opposite of what the title suggests.

You will recall that in that act, the Tenant Protection Act, the developers were there already. What you will see is that the developers are constantly in the shadows of this government. When you see the little marionettes in this House moving their right arm or the left hand, it has a lot to do with the shadow cabinet behind them. That shadow cabinet behind them is made up of developers and the rich corporate raiders who have a lot to do and a lot to say to this particular government. They are guided by them constantly.

In the Tenant Protection Act you see that undercurrent. You see the influence. You see the shadows of these corporate raiders and these developers behind them. You see them acting behind them, and all the little marionettes have to do is simply put up their right hand when appropriate or their left hand when appropriate. That's what we got.

The developers and the landlords came to this government and they said to this government, "You've got to get rid of rent control," and this government acted quickly. They wasted no time. Who do you think convinced and forced -- perhaps not forced Mike Harris, because he was a willing instrument of these developers and landlords, so I shouldn't say forced. He was quite happy to do their bidding. As the developers and this fine institution called the Urban Development Institute went to them, Mike Harris said, "We will act quickly on your behalf," because their interests are very much the same. They said, "Rent control prohibits us from building housing that is desperately needed."

You had deputation after deputation, including some developers who were honest enough to speak to this, saying that simply removing rent control, as they are doing through the decontrolling mechanism of getting rid of the protection we now have, forcing individuals who move to pay any price that a new landlord where they are about to go would charge, would be a giveaway to the landlord and the least protection to the tenant. That decontrolling mechanism is, in effect, the elimination of rent control as we understand it, and that has been influenced by the developer, the landlord, who said, "If you do that, we will build."

If you listen to M. Harris and his gang of disciples around here, they say the same thing. These Harrisites say the same thing: "When we get rid of rent control, we will build." But the developers themselves have said to us that it isn't enough, that to simply eliminate rent control is not sufficient for them to build. They need more, and they'll come back to you in due course because they need a lot more from government in order for them to build affordable housing.

These fine folks, developers, are not there to build housing for those who need it. They're not there to build affordable housing for poor working people. That's not what it's about. Because if they made a profit in doing so, they would be building. That's why you see them building condominiums, because that's where the pecunia is. The pecunia is in the building of condominiums. It isn't in building poor housing.

When I asked the question to those fine developers, I said: "Who worries for the public interest? Who worries for those people who can't afford to have a house?" He said, "It's none of our business," and I said to him, "But if it's none of your business and it is not in the business of this government because they want to get out of the housing business, who takes care of them?" says M. Bonhomme, M. Beauchamps, M. Beaubien.


M. Marchese : Il nous dit, c'est lui qui va protéger les intérêts des pauvres ici. C'est ce qu'il a dit. M. Harris et M. Beaubien vont protéger l'intérêt des pauvres ici. Est-ce que vous, mes chers amis en Ontario, croyez que M. Beaubien va protéger vos intérêts ?

The Acting Speaker: I would ask the member to speak --

M. Marchese : Madame la Présidente, je vous dis non.

The Acting Speaker: I would ask the member --

Mr Marchese: I'm addressing you, Madam Chair, through you.

The Acting Speaker: -- to make your comments through the Chair and not call other members by their name, other than their riding name.

Mr Marchese: I'm always speaking through you, Madam Speaker, as I speak to the members opposite, and I will find --

Mrs Boyd: The member for Lambton.

Mr Marchese: -- the member for Lambton, M. Beaubien, qui va protéger les intérêts des pauvres. Je vous demande, Madame la Présidente, est-ce que vous croyez que ce député lui-même va protéger les intérêts des pauvres ? Moi, je ne le crois pas. Et je pense que les gens de l'Ontario ne le croient pas non plus. Ils ne croient pas que ce monsieur-là va les aider et ils ne croient pas que M. Harris va les aider, parce qu'ils savent que ce gouvernement n'est pas là pour eux. Ils le savent.

The member for Lambton, you're not there for them. Harris isn't there for them. Would you be there for them? He's got the wheels; you don't have the wheels. You are but a Harrisite who is driven like a marionette by M. Harris, and in this case by the developers and the corporate raiders and the corporate interests. That's what this is about. We've seen it in the rent control, the so-called tenant protection package, moving in the back scenes as a shadow cabinet saying: "M. Harris, help us out. We will build for you. Help us out. Get rid of rent control." That's the first step. We have seen the various steps that this government is taking as they listen to these developers, and rent control was the first act of Messrs Harris and Leach to begin the devastation against our province and our people who can least protect themselves.

We are losing control of what governments have stood for and have been there for in the past. We're losing it because this government says they want to get out of that particular field. They want the red tape cut. We know what red tape cuts mean. We know when Harris speaks about cutting red tape that he is there to assist as a willing instrument those who want to profit more.

We see it in the amalgamation process of Bill 103. The same group, the Urban Development Institute, of which Mr Kells was a president came and said, "We love 103." Do you know why they love the amalgamation bill titled Bill 103? They like it because these poor people who don't have any money, these developers, they have to go to the various cities of Toronto separately, go to Etobicoke -- you're a bit outside -- go to North York and York and Scarborough. These poor developers, who don't have the means, have to go separately to these municipalities to seek changes in planning in order to build, and they said, "We've got to go to Metro as well." That's seven governments. Imagine that. These poor developers who don't have the means have to go to each city for planning purposes to get some development to happen, and so they said: "We're very happy that you're getting rid of these cities because all we now have to do is to go to one big megacity for development purposes."

Isn't it nice. Isn't it wonderful that we are there to assist the developers, because as I was saying, they're scratching; they've got empty pockets these days. They haven't been making enough money and they're poor, so they needed this government to whack people on social assistance with a 22% cut so they could help their developer friends who are starving out there. They're not making enough money; they're starving. They helped the developers by whacking people on social assistance with a 22% cut.


It is sad to witness the daily uncorking of bills that this government is introducing that do nothing to assist those who are disfranchised but do a lot to assist those who have wealth, privilege and power, who indeed are operating the marionettes of this government.

We see in Bill 103 that developers gain, because it cuts the red tape for those individuals. But in terms of local democracy, in terms of having control and a say and in terms of being able to influence, local governments will have lost that, subjecting ourselves, as one of these researchers, Wendell Cox, said, to greater influence by a special interest group, which he quite clearly knew was the wealthier groups, people like the developers, who have the money to influence such a megacity with their power and money. He knew that. Mr Cox, this American researcher -- not by any stretch of imagination that I'm aware of a social-democrat type but one of them -- knows that amalgamation supports developers and those powerful interest groups but it does not support the little people, which is most of us.

Even those who consider themselves skilled and middle class, we are becoming a diminishing group of people under this government and under the federal Liberal government, I would add. We are becoming extinct as a class, because more and more you see middle class, those of you who define yourselves as such, slipping on that slippery slope of greater impoverishment in this province.

We see something else. M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, acted unilaterally last year to do two things: one, to eliminate the basement drainage protection rules. He did something else; he eliminated the full-height insulation requirement. I say he did that unilaterally, because it's significant that he did that. At no time in our history that I am aware of did a minister, on the urging of a shadow cabinet such as the Urban Development Institute -- on their urging, this minister in this government eliminated the full-height basement insulation requirement and the drainage protection rules, on his own.

In the past, you would have a great deal of consultation that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing would be engaged in, seeking input from people in the field, which would include developers but it would include everybody in the field, seeking comment, after which their feedback would be fed back again so they would have the benefit of what other people in a similar profession would have said. Having done that and their feedback once again to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, they would respond appropriately, but never politically, that I am aware of. This is the field where you would do things right, not based on politics, as this government continues to do, but rather on what is appropriate to do in the field of the building codes.

The building codes, I repeat, have always been free, by and large, of political influence. But we know that the minister met with a few developers, most of whom are connected to the Urban Development Institute, of which Mr Kells was a former president, and they urged the minister and Mike Harris to get rid of those two important protections that we had. I say it's shameful, Madam Speaker, and you should be worried yourself as a member from Mississauga about that particular move that this minister has made because, I want to tell you, this affects new tenants or people who buy houses in Mississauga. How does it affect them? I will show you how it affects them.

These developers came to Mr Leach and said, "If you remove the full-height insulation requirement and you relax the basement drainage protection rules, a homeowner who buys a new home is likely to save anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000." That's what they said. You know what that means, Madam Speaker, and I will show in a second that there were no savings, but it means that that new home owner, had they built the house correctly by having the insulation installed at the beginning of the process as that foundation was being built, would have saved thousands and thousands of dollars with a mere $1,000 or $2,000.

Now that this minister has eliminated that protection, the person who owns this home is going to have to install, on his or her own, the insulation that should be there to give them the energy protection they need. It will cost them thousands of dollars to redo that process on their own, where if it were part of the whole building process from the beginning, it would be a negligible cost.

So too with drainage. Why do we have a water barrier on the outside of the house? To prevent water from getting into the basement. We know, don't we, member from Kingston, that water seeps into the basement because many of these homes don't have the proper drainage protection. That's why it was done in the first place, but this minister talked with his developer friends over lunch, probably at one of these fine restaurants that M. Eves eats at, and they talked about how to reduce the red tape so these people can build more housing and save new home owners money, and they said, "Okay, we'll do it." But did they save money? I ask you, did they save money? We on this side know that they didn't save money.

I've got here in my hands a document from the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, which brings together many groups, by the way, that are worried about what this government has done to the relaxing of the Ontario building code rules unilaterally and are worried about what this government is about to do very shortly with the changes to the building code that will affect energy and energy conservation in the way that we construct houses. This group, called the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, said this -- Speaker, it's important, because I know you're listening. The others are not, but for your interest:

"Additionally, a survey of home builders to be released at the news conference," which they held a couple of months ago, "will reveal that an earlier revocation of another energy efficiency standard last summer," of which I just spoke, "did not reduce the price tag of a new home by $1,000, as the minister," Mr Leach, Minister of Housing, "had claimed it would." In fact, the survey shows the prices being charged for these less energy-efficient houses are higher.

Do you remember? Ted, do you remember? Your member for Oxford said, "This is going to save money." That's what he said: "It's going to save money to the new home owner." He's not here at the moment. He's busy. He's working things out with Minister Leach. But listen, Ted: For your interest, the guy said that home owners are going to save money.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York --

Mr Marchese: Through you, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: If you would address your comments through the Chair and refer to members by their riding. Thank you.

Mr Marchese: I appreciate the intervention, Madam Chair. Thank you very much.

The member for Oxford said that people are going to save money. That's what they said when they eliminated the full-height insulation requirement, and that's what Leach said when he said, "We're going to relax the basement drainage protection rules."


These people have done a survey and they checked it out, because this government doesn't like facts and research and proof. If it doesn't seem to agree with them, they discard it or simply dispense with it. So this group, the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, did the research and they called around to check it out, to check out the evidence, to see whether or not the member for Oxford might be correct when he says there are going to be savings.

We have discovered, lo and behold, there are no savings. Are you to believe yet again this Tory reform government, the instrument of the developers' wishes? Are you going to believe them when they say this is an act to promote job creation, more accountability and savings and fairness for the new homeowner? Are you going to believe it?

Mr Flaherty: Are you deaf? What are you yelling for? Something's wrong with the guy.

Mr Marchese: The member for Durham Centre, poor man, is becoming hysterical at what I'm saying, and he should be. The member for Durham Centre should be hysterical because --

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Marchese: I'm interrupting the poor fellow from Durham Centre. The poor member for Durham Centre is trying to read as I'm speaking, so my loudness -- as the Speaker called it, vociferousness -- is interrupting his reading. I hope I'm not overly interrupting or intervening in his pleasure in this House.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, I would suggest you might have less trouble if you didn't refer to the members opposite during your debate.

Mr Marchese: But the fellow doesn't like my vociferousness, and I appreciate that, because he's trying to read. I know he doesn't want to listen to what I'm saying. I understand that what I'm saying is hurting his sensitivities, and the loudness and the passion are affecting the poor man's intelligence. I understand that, but it bothers me a little bit.

The question is this, M Beaubien, mon ami, the member for Lambton -- I'm going to whisper because I don't want to interrupt my friend from Durham Centre. It would be unfair to him. I'm going to whisper a little bit for his benefit.

Member for Durham Centre, you say your minister said there were going to be savings of $1,000 to $3,000. Are you listening, member for Durham Centre? Do you remember your government said there were going to be savings? I've just shown, through a survey that the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance has done, that there were no savings. So what are we to do? What are we to believe? Am I whispering enough for him, Madam Speaker? What are we to believe? You've got to believe a government when it tells you there are going to be savings. I wanted to believe them. So did these people. They want to believe this government. So we checked it out and there are no savings.

Now the government comes up with a new scheme: this act to promote job creation, Bill 109, and this new scheme they say is going to save money, loads of money for these young people, these young homeowners who want to own a home. He says, "We're here as a government to help you out."

The developers had a good lunch with M Leach and the others and they talked about the problems and they said: "Get rid of development charges. They're bad because they restrict us from building." It hasn't really restricted them from building but that's what they say: "If you take up this development charge, those homeowners, who we're trying to help" -- these developers are trying to help the homeowners -- "are not going to be able to afford our homes because these development charges are so excessive. In fact they range up to $20,000 in some places." That's not the case, by the way. They do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they're not homogeneous across the board, but to make the worst-case scenario, they say, "Some of these development charges are up to $20,000." My God, can you hear it out there? Up to $20,000. We've got to get rid of these development charges, otherwise these poor young people are not going to be able to afford it. If we then take what we have from our previous example that there are going to be savings, we have proved there are no savings.

And you know what, Madam Speaker? The developers, who I think are your friends too, pocket that extra $1,000 to $2,000. They pocket it because, you see, they're impoverished and they're not making enough money. They're starving; the developers are starving. That money that was supposed to go to the homeowner is being pocketed by them so they can continue to build more homes and make more money. That's really what this is all about.

Do you know something else? I've got another minute; I'll continue tomorrow. They want to reduce the insulation requirements in new building code changes. This organization, the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, is very worried about that.

Am I whispering enough for the member for Durham Centre? Is it okay now?

The Acting Speaker: Proceed with the debate.

Mr Marchese: They're worried because they say the building code changes have been made in unprecedented fashion, ignoring the views of experts and manufacturers and consumers. They're worried because if the proposed reductions in energy efficiency are adopted by this change that the minister is doing behind the scenes, new homes in Ontario will be 25% more polluting than the same house purchased only last summer. Would you listen to that? If Leach cuts the red tape for these developers, the new homeowner is going to suffer. We're going to have an energy efficiency problem as it's going to cost more because he's relaxing the rules around what makes our homes more energy-efficient. We've got a problem on our hands; we've got a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Seeing that it's close to 6 o'clock, I will continue with this, whispering so as not to bother the member for Durham Centre and getting loud when he's not here so that others can hear me. I will continue with this, Madam Speaker, the following day. Thank you very much for your attention.

The Acting Speaker: It being 6 of the clock, the House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow, Tuesday.

The House adjourned at 1758.