36th Parliament, 1st Session

L175 - Tue 1 Apr 1997 / Mar 1er Avr 1997



















































The House met at 1330.




M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : Le 22 mars dernier, plus de 10 000 personnes de toutes les régions de la province et de toutes les affiliations politiques se sont rassemblées pour dire au gouvernement et à sa Commission de restructuration des soins de santé qu'ils commettaient une grave erreur en proposant de fermer l'hôpital Montfort. Dans les jours prochains le gouvernement va recevoir une pétition avec bien au-delà de 100 000 noms protestant contre la fermeture de Montfort.

Tout dernièrement le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones s'est brusquement réveillé comme si on l'avait piqué avec une épingle à chapeau, comme dans le temps du Règlement 17. Il a dit qu'il venait d'apprendre que Montfort était le seul hôpital capable de former des professionnels de la santé en français et qu'il allait en informer les intéressés. Le ministre sera-t-il aussi le dernier à comprendre que fermer l'hôpital Montfort, un hôpital d'élite, est injuste et injustifiable, même du point de vue du mandat de la commission de restructuration ?

Le ministre sait que la population francophone de l'Ontario lui demande à toutes fins pratiques unanimement de les appuyer publiquement pour empêcher une grave injustice. Il est temps pour le ministre de s'occuper de ceux et celles qu'il représente. Monsieur le ministre, quand allez-vous agir ?


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise today on this first day of a week in which we will be considering some legislation that will have a very severe and directly negative impact on communities and the way that we deliver services across this province. I speak, of course, of Bill 103 and Bill 104, but most particular to my community is the concern that we have around the impact of that bill on Sault Ste Marie.

I have been in my community for the last two weeks and have spent some significant time talking with my constituents. To a person, they have shared with me their very real reservations about the way that school boards are going to be restructured and the impact that may have on the delivery of services, those services for our students that we've all come to appreciate in this province.

I visited a couple of schools when I was home, one the S.F. Howe public school, and the other the Francis H. Clergue public school in Sault Ste Marie. I have to tell you, I was totally impressed with the atmosphere that was being created there by the administration and by the teachers. They tell me that they're very concerned, at S.F. Howe in particular, that a very effective junior kindergarten/senior kindergarten program that is operating there now that serves the needs of local families and parents may disappear if any more money is taken out of the system. So today on behalf of Sault Ste Marie I object to the imposition of Bill 104.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): It gives me great pleasure today to rise in this Legislature and salute the farmers of Ontario.

As the members of this House, rural and urban alike, are no doubt aware, Ontario has the largest and most diversified agriculture and food industry in Canada. It is an industry we can all be proud of. The diversity of products harvested from Ontario farms can be matched nowhere else in this country and indeed in the world. Ontario produces more than 200 commodities, accounts for 38% of all Canadian agrifood economic activity and leads all provinces in agrifood exports with $5 billion annually. Our farm products make their way on to tables of consumers across Canada and, increasingly, around the world.

As a food producer myself, I know all about the hard work of the dedicated farm families who are the backbone of the industry. As business operators they invest their time, money and management, they pay taxes, create jobs and build communities. They deserve our thanks and our support.

It is in this spirit that I ask all members of the Legislature to join me in recognizing the vital role the agriculture industry plays in this province and the important contribution it makes to Ontario's economy by declaring this week, April 1 to 4, Agriculture and Food Week.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You know what? I'd like to hear the rest, but you're out of time. Sorry.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): We understand that the Minister of Health intends to eliminate 253 beds for severely disturbed psychiatric patients in Metro Toronto. Has he considered the sheer chaos and confrontational clashes that this will create between our police and the psychiatric patients? We're not surprised that Alison Guyton, executive director of the mental health program services for Metro, said that restructuring plans to cut the psychiatric beds in Metro will cause "serious problems." Does he think Metro has the capacity to pick up the slack of deinstitutionalization? Absolutely not. The tragedy of Mr Yu, a mental patient shot dead on a TTC bus, will be repeated as aberrant mental patients will be pushed out of hospitals. Public safety will also be affected. Is the minister prepared to take responsibility for such actions?

The minister is saying that beds will not close unless community support is in place. Let's look at Queen Street Mental Health Centre. Hundreds of patients are wandering around the streets, marching in and out of this hospital where the recidivism rate is over 76%. Are community support services in place? No. How can the present situation improve when the minister cuts beds and kicks out hundreds more? Let me give the minister an example. Last year our police were called over 300 times to apprehend --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, you will know that I have raised a concern in this Legislature that the Mike Harris Tories have decided to force a casino on my community, the community of the Beaches, despite the fact that the residents of the Beaches do not want a casino in our neighbourhood.

I have asked the Premier to give me assurances that he will not force it on our community when our community doesn't want it. He has refused to answer that question. He said that because they're replacing roving charitable casinos, we just shouldn't be worried. I want to let you know what the difference is.

The roving casinos operate for only three days at a time during the daytime and the evening; these new permanent casinos will operate for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the whole year. There is a maximum of only 30 tables in the roving casinos; now there will be a maximum of 40 tables and 150 video slot machines. In the old casinos, the roving casinos, there was a $10 maximum on the bet; now the maximum is going to be $100. Before, there was $100 million a year in Ontario bet in charitable casinos; now there will be over $1 billion.

One of the biggest changes is that before, during the election, Mike Harris said no community would have a casino unless they voted for it in a referendum; now he refuses to allow a referendum. The people of Beaches-Woodbine don't want it, and we don't want these big-time operators like the Ontario Jockey Club and Casino Windsor, which have both expressed an interest in running the casino in our community. We don't want them in our neighbourhood. We say no.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Just to remind the gallery, you can't applaud; you can watch.



Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): In Ontario, a wide variety of high-quality foods are readily available at competitive prices. Ontario's agrifood industry does a wonderful job presenting the consumer with economical, appealing, safe and nutritious foods. In reality, the process of delivering food to consumers is highly complex, employs thousands of people and generates billions of dollars in economic activity.

In Huron county, the area I represent, farm-gate sales are nearly $450 million. Huron is running seventh in the country, ahead of Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island or the total farm-gate sales of New Brunswick and Newfoundland combined. Tonight the agricultural community of Ontario is pleased to invite the members of the Ontario Legislature to a Taste of Ontario, which showcases the world's finest food and wine produced right here our province.

I remind colleagues that with every possible opportunity we should thank a farmer and commend the hardworking agricultural community in Ontario for their dedication to the industry and their tremendous accomplishments. Please join me in showing your appreciation of our representatives from the agricultural community who are in the east lobby today.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): When Premier Harris visits St Catharines to attend a Conservative Party fund-raising dinner tomorrow night he should remember his commitment to the people of Ontario and their hospitals in the election campaign leaders' debate in May 1995. Mike Harris stated clearly, and I quote, "Certainly I can guarantee that it's not my plan to close hospitals."

The Niagara hospital restructuring steering committee, faced with the knowledge that an additional $44 million will be cut from hospital operating budgets on top of the dramatic cuts already being implemented, has recommended the closing of the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines, the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby, Douglas Memorial in Fort Erie, Port Colborne hospital and Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital.

This is completely unacceptable to me and to the people of the Niagara Peninsula, and all the announcements of so-called reinvestments will not fool the people of Niagara into accepting this severe reduction in hospital services. When Dr David Foot, the author of the best-selling book Boom, Bust and Echo, was asked what he would recommend to Premier Harris for the Niagara region with its demographic makeup, an older-than-average population, he stated boldly and clearly, "Don't close hospitals."

The closing of Niagara hospitals to feed the bizarre provincial income tax that will benefit the wealthiest people to the greatest extent is sheer madness. The people who will be outside of the Ramada Parkway to stand up for their hospitals will certainly bring this message home clearly to the Premier of this province.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : L'année 1997 va se marquer dans l'histoire de la province comme une année très noire. Au mois de mars, le gouvernement ontarien a annoncé l'intention de fermer l'hôpital Montfort, le seul hôpital francophone de la province, le seul hôpital où on fait la formation des professionnels dans le domaine de la santé pour la province et le seul hôpital francophone en Ontario auquel nous dans le nord-est et d'autres places en Ontario avons la chance de faire nos références pour ceux et celles qui ont besoin des services de santé en français.

Mais il ne s'arrête pas là. Dans le domaine de la santé, on a vu en 1997, il n'y a qu'une semaine, que le gouvernement de l'Ontario a refusé de donner les fonds nécessaires au centre de santé communautaire de Timmins pour continuer ses travaux, pour desservir la population francophone de Timmins quand ça vient aux services de santé en français.

Je pense que ça démontre que ce gouvernement n'est pas engagé à donner les services nécessaires aux francophones de la province. Ils regardent la francophonie de l'Ontario d'une manière que je trouve très triste. Il nous a pris des années de mettre en place des services pour les francophones, et pendant 1997 le gouvernement de l'Ontario a l'intention de tout fermer pour les francophones. Ce n'est pas acceptable.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Contrary to the member for St Catharines, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, and the minister responsible for seniors' issues, Cam Jackson, for making the health care reinvestment announcement recently in St Catharines. As the St Catharines Standard front page story said, "The health care money was welcomed."

The reinvestment of $8.7 million was for funding brand-new programs which include mental health projects and long-term community services. As Minister Wilson said, and I agree completely, "It is essential that these types of community programs be in place before any hospitals merge, close or beds are lost."

What is also important to me and to the entire Niagara region is that the ministers listened. They listened to the experts in the community who gave advice and opinions on how to reinvest. They listened to the Niagara caucus and our concerns that restructuring be done right, particularly as we move forward with the hospital and health care restructuring process. For me personally, I expect them to continue to listen, since five of the Niagara region's 10 hospitals are in my St Catharines-Brock riding.

Once again, thank you to Ministers Wilson and Jackson for the much-needed reinvestment.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to bring to the attention of the members of the House the following appointments that have been made to the list of officers who serve this House:

Effective today, Mrs Deborah Deller will assume responsibilities as Clerk Assistant and executive director of legislative services. Mrs Deller is well known to all the members and I'm certain that she will continue to provide her valued advice to you.

Mr Dennis Clark, our new Sergeant at Arms, assumes his responsibilities today.

Ms Lisa Freedman and Mr Todd Decker have been appointed clerks at the table. As table officers, they will serve the members in a permanent capacity and assist the Clerk and Clerk Assistant in providing procedural advice to the Speaker and to the members.

I am certain that all members will join with me in congratulating Mrs Deller, Mr Clark, Ms Freedman and Mr Decker as they assume their new duties. Congratulations and welcome.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): The Ontario government believes the people of this province have the right to breathe clean air. Unfortunately this right is being threatened by increasing smog levels, especially in the greater Toronto area and throughout southwestern Ontario.

In addition to the severe toll it exacts on our environment, smog is known to aggravate a wide range of serious health ailments, especially respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. My ministry estimates, based on studies by Health Canada and others, that ground level ozone and other components of smog cause about 1,800 premature deaths annually in our province. Worst of all, it is the most vulnerable, that is, children and the elderly, who suffer the most.

The Ontario government is taking action on a number of fronts to combat this problem.

Our ministry has prepared an accelerated three-year plan to ensure that Ontario standards, with an emphasis on air, are brought up to date after 20 years of neglect. This will mean tougher standards than those currently on the books, some by as much as 600%. Late last year, I placed this proposed plan on the environmental registry for public consultation.

In addition, my ministry is leading the development of a comprehensive smog plan in partnership with industry, business and the public. We have set aggressive goals to significantly reduce the number of smog alert days in southern Ontario by the year 2015.

We will shortly release the results of two pilot projects on vehicle emissions testing. The information and experience we gained give us a solid foundation for developing a vehicle inspection and maintenance program that is practical, affordable and convenient for motorists.


Today I am pleased to inform the Legislature that we have taken an important step to improve Ontario's air quality this coming smog season. We have amended regulation 271 to require gasoline refiners and blenders to produce lower-volatility gasoline from May 15 to September 14 each year. This will mean that there will be significantly less smog-causing fumes released annually from summer-grade gasoline. In fact, with the amended regulation 271 in place, we expect to see an 18,000-tonne reduction in the amount of smog-causing volatile organic compounds released into the air each year.

The government is committed to improving the health of our environment for the people of Ontario. We are taking action to provide cleaner air through a series of tough measures against smog. The amendment to regulation 271 will help to protect the air quality of our communities. A reduction in the amount of gasoline fumes escaping into the atmosphere will mean less smog and healthier lungs for us all.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I rise today to table information made public under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act. We on this side of the Legislature have always understood that tax dollars do not belong to government, they belong to taxpayers. It is our job as government to make sure we manage the dollars wisely and carefully. When the public sector spends money, it is spending taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.

To this end, on November 29, 1995, we introduced the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act. Under this legislation, public sector organizations that receive public funding must disclose names, positions and compensation paid to employees whose salary was $100,000 or more in the previous calendar year.

Last year, under this new legislation, often referred to as the sunshine law, we tabled for the first time information on the salaries of the broader public sector employees who earn more than $100,000. This was a major step towards making the public sector more accountable to Ontario taxpayers. Today, once again, I am making available information on compensation for senior public sector employees. Disclosure under this legislation gives taxpayers a chance to see how an organization's performance and responsibilities compare to the way it compensates its senior people.

Organizations subject to this legislation include: Ontario government ministries and their agencies; the Legislative Assembly of Ontario; provincial crown corporations and agencies such as Ontario Hydro, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Workers' Compensation Board; municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities; and organizations that receive transfer payments from the province of at least $1 million a year or 10% of their gross revenue if that amount is $120,000 or more. Organizations are required to give the public access to this information by March 31 of the following calendar year.

I note that this year the compiled information will be available on the Ministry of Finance's Web site on the Internet as well.

We made a commitment to the people of Ontario to take a more open and accountable approach to government by publishing salaries paid to senior public sector officials. We are keeping our word and will continue to do so.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to respond to the Minister of Finance's statement. We certainly look forward to the report and obviously have no difficulty with the law, although I will say this: For our party, we had expected the Minister of Finance to be talking about employment. We have been off for several weeks. The minister issued a report dated March 19 that indicated that in the last six months Ontario has lost 57,000 jobs. The rest of Canada has gained 72,000 jobs. I don't mean to belittle the report, and certainly all of the unemployed in the province will want to get at the Web site and look at all those people out there who can make more than $100,000 and be envious of them, probably get angry with them, but for us the priority is jobs and we see from your own report 57,000 fewer jobs in the province of Ontario than six months ago.

I remember when Mike Harris, then in opposition, went around the province and said he was going to solve this problem. We now have 30,000 more people out of work in Ontario, according to the Minister of Finance's own report, than the day the Premier became the Premier. We find the unemployment rate going up. We find that the young people in this province now have an unemployment rate of 18.8%, up 2.3% from the same period a year ago. I'm sure the people of Ontario, particularly all those young people unemployed and looking for work, will be interested in all those people making more than $100,000. We certainly will welcome that information as well.

But we would have expected that the priority of the government today would have been the Minister of Finance getting up today and telling us what he's going to do about unemployment. The numbers come out this Friday. They can no longer continue to get worse, but we are going to have to see tremendous improvement over the next few months to even begin to make a dent in the growing unemployment in this province.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It's not hard to figure out that the plans of the government and the Ministry of Environment are going up in vapour as the member makes this announcement today, because we find he has a ministry that is facing unprecedented budget cuts. Fully one third of his budget, millions upon millions of dollars, has been cut. We have one third of staff disappearing in the Ministry of Environment.

The minister can change all the standards he wants to change, but if he has nobody to do the inspections, nobody to do the enforcement and nobody to do the prosecutions, it's just on paper; it makes no difference to the people of this province.

As for his announcement on vehicle emissions, this must be at least the sixth time I've heard this announcement from the last minister and this minister. We have two minor pilot projects and they have done absolutely nothing else to deal with this problem.

In an interjection I mentioned the Reid vapour pressure to the minister and he looked at me blankly as though he didn't know what Reid vapour pressure was. I won't ask him during this question period, but supposedly the volatility of gasoline is being lowered in this province. I would like to know why he didn't include the level in his statement. It must be because he's embarrassed about the level.

All this government has done is abandon the environment. The only contribution they make to it is having the minister get up and announce and re-announce proposed programs for somewhere along the line. He tells us that by the year 2015, some 18 years from now, we're going to have air that is cleaner. People in this province are asking why this government hasn't already taken action. The air hovering over the Niagara Escarpment is getting bad and they've taken the Niagara Escarpment away from the jurisdiction of this minister, the only person who had any interest in saving the Niagara Escarpment, and given it to the Minister of Natural Resources.

Everybody knows what the Ministry of Natural Resources thinks of the Ministry of Environment. That's gone now. I can see why the minister would want to deflect attention from this power grab the Premier has initiated, taking away his responsibility for the Niagara Escarpment Commission and giving it to the Minister of Natural Resources and the good old boys in the Ontario Legislature, who will now make sure that we have an Escarpment Hilton, an Escarpment Holiday Inn and an Escarpment Ramada.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm interested in the minister's announcement today, given that this minister and his ministry are about to rewrite almost every line of environmental protection in this province, calling it red tape and job killers.

This ministry to date -- I'm just going to mention a few and I'm going to talk specifically to air quality, leaving aside the other ones today -- has eliminated the Advisory Committee on Environmental Standards and cut funding for public transportation, and we all know that good, accessible public transportation goes a long way in terms of avoiding ground-level ozone. Bill 20, your new so-called Planning Act: You've gutted all the environmental protections in that act and in fact encourage urban sprawl, which encourages more individual traffic on the street. You've lifted the ban on incineration. That also will lead to more air pollution. They've also laid off a third of their staff. About 32% of those staff are air staff.

So what does this all come down to? Volunteerism. I presume that over time some of these new standards are going to be developed. Who is going to be out there to make sure there is enforcement and compliance? Nobody. I can see where all this is going to go. This is all about volunteerism, and you're going to be able to report things are getting better because there's not going to be anybody there to tell us what's really going on. You are totally abandoning the environment, and people will see through what is happening today.

The last thing I want to talk about is this announcement that there are going to be two pilot programs for vehicle emissions testing. Our government, the NDP government, already did a big pilot program. We knew, as you should know, as a result of that pilot program that it is absolutely necessary to now proceed with the difficult issues, which I admit are there, in terms of a mandatory program. Get on with it.

Minister, you yourself stood in this House and said to the media there are about 1,800 deaths a year that we know of in Ontario due directly to bad air, smog, and you stand here today and talk about more voluntary programs. The people in this province just want you to get on with it. Stand up and tell the people that you're going to move ahead with real air pollution control here today. That is not what you are doing, and you should admit it.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): We heard briefly from the Minister of Finance. What we heard from the Minister of Finance was another government attempt at a diversion. There are real issues out there for the Minister of Finance to deal with. One of the issues is, as has been stated already, the fact that the job numbers are getting worse, not better, and in particular much worse for young people.

Secondly, the Minister of Finance could deal with the fact that the government's tax scheme is overwhelmingly benefiting wealthy people, but it sure isn't producing any jobs. The people who already have incomes in excess of $500,000 or $1 million a year are doing very well, thanks to this government's tax scheme, but that tax scheme is not producing any jobs. But the minister wants to stay away from all that; he doesn't want to talk about that.

The minister also doesn't want to talk about how this is the government that has raised the deputy ministers' salaries from the $130,000-to-$140,000 range up into the $170,000-to-$180,000 range. This is the government that insists that the highest-paid civil servants should be paid even more, but it doesn't want to acknowledge that either.

Also, this is a government that has recently hired a civil servant to sell off to the private sector some of the province's best and most productive assets. The Minister of Finance could have disclosed today the salary of that individual. We understand that individual is going to be paid something in excess of $200,000 a year, but no disclosure on that.

Again, a rather inadequate attempt at a diversion by the Minister of Finance. He doesn't want to talk about the fact that no jobs are being created. He doesn't want to talk about the fact that his tax scheme is only benefiting the wealthiest people in this province, not producing any jobs. He doesn't want to talk about the fact that this is a government that has overwhelmingly raised the salaries of the richest --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order which I will ask you to take into consideration and perhaps reserve on. You may in your deliberations find that in fact it involves a point of privilege, but I raise it as a point of order pursuant to section 46(a), which is the section of the standing orders that sets out the right of the government to move a time allocation motion. As you know, the government has, pursuant to that section, moved a time allocation motion with respect to Bill 103. The relevant sections of that time allocation motion that I want to address are paragraph 4, which sets out, "That the standing committee on general government shall be authorized to meet to consider the bill for clause-by-clause consideration commencing Thursday, March 6, 1997, from 9 am to 12 pm and from 3:30 pm until completion of clause-by-clause," and paragraph 5, which sets out the requirement for all proposed amendments to be filed with the clerk of the committee by 7 pm on March 5, and that by 5 pm on Thursday, March 6, those amendments not yet moved would be deemed to be moved, and then it governs the method by which those amendments would be voted on.

The other relevant clause of the time allocation motion that I will refer you to is paragraph 8, which sets out that one hour shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in committee of the whole House, and then proceeds to set out that at the end of that time any amendments that had not been moved would be deemed to have been moved and sets out the process for disposing of all remaining amendments and sections of the bill.

Mr Speaker, the point that I want to raise with you is one that I believe has not been explored in the Legislature before and it is with respect to the actual time allocation motion that was passed and the intent of the members of the assembly when that motion was passed -- our understanding and our intent.

If you look to the precedent of how bills have been handled within committee and if you look to the actual instructions set out in this motion, I think you will agree that the members of this Legislative Assembly would have had the understanding that during the clause-by-clause session set out on March 6 the members of that committee would have been dealing with substantive amendments to the bill that the government and opposition parties would have proposed and those substantive amendments to the bill at that time, during clause-by-clause, would have been debated and disposed of, as is set out by the means provided for in the time allocation motion. As you will be aware that did not happen. The government chose not to proceed with tabling amendments at that time and in fact informed people that amendments would be tabled when the Legislature came back for the committee of the whole process.

I would argue, now that the government has made an announcement about the nature of those amendments and the substantive number of those amendments, which have not been shared with the entire assembly but have been shared with the critics of the two opposition parties, but now that it is in the public domain we are aware that they will be making a significant number of amendments to the bill and are proposing to do that during the committee of the whole.

It is incumbent upon you, Mr Speaker, to look to whether the intent of the time allocation motion has been met or whether it has been violated by the government's actions. I put to you that the members of this assembly, both based on precedent of how bills, even time-allocated bills, are normally dealt with as they go through a committee process, and based on the very fact that the government itself only set out in paragraph 8 of the time allocation motion one hour to deal with amendments in committee of the whole, that it would be a natural understanding that the vast majority of the substantive amendments would have been dealt with in the clause-by-clause process and that there would be, as is often the case, some further cleanup amendments, if I may call them that, or further amendments, but of a less substantive number or perhaps nature, that would be dealt with during committee of the whole.

The intent of the members of the assembly, who have ownership of this time allocation motion, who debated this and who passed this, our understanding of what was intended by the motion that we passed must be part of your consideration as to whether the government has in fact violated the intent of that motion by bringing forward those amendments now, only at the time of committee of the whole, and failing to do so during clause-by-clause.

Mr Speaker, the only redress that I can see available, if you do in consideration find that there has been a violation by the government of the intent of the time allocation motion passed by the members of this assembly, is that the government would be compelled to reconvene the committee and take those amendments to committee for clause-by-clause. There may be other methods of redress that you might think of that I'm not aware of.

As I have said, I do not believe this argument or point of order has been raised before and we are unable to find precedent to guide us in making this point of order and making the arguments to you, Mr Speaker. But I simply conclude by saying that you are the guardian of the rules of this House and of the wishes of the members of this House and that the time allocation motion that was passed must be interpreted with the understanding and intent of the members of the Legislative Assembly who debated and who passed that motion, not the legislative agenda of the government or their wishes or their problems, their ineptness or anything else that may have caused this situation to arise, that the amendments were not tabled in the normal fashion during the committee.

When you look at the precedent of how bills have been dealt with in the past, and particularly when you look at the construction of this time allocation motion which set it out for clause-by-clause and then a very limited time in committee of the whole, I believe you will find that the understanding of the members of the assembly is quite different than how this bill has actually been handled by the government. I would ask you to give consideration to that point of order and rule on it at your convenience.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I think indeed there is a valid point being raised in that there was an expectation from members of the opposition that any amendments of significance would have been before the committee considering this bill, as opposed to being brought in at the very last minute for consideration in committee of the whole.

Recognizing that the time allocation motion calls for only one hour of debate of all the amendments, of all the changes of all the sections of the bill, and looking at the fact that the government brought in what it considers to be significant amendments to the bill -- the government itself, through the Minister of Municipal Affairs and I believe through the government House leader, through the Premier, as a whole has indicated that it believes these to be significant amendments to legislation, yet we did not see these amendments until the very last minute -- those amendments will have to be considered with all other amendments within a period of one hour within that time allocation.

The government's position would have been stronger, it seems to me, in this regard had the government brought forward these amendments during the committee hearings and had those amendments passed. It has a majority. If the majority of the government members saw fit, they could have passed those amendments at that time. Now it seems to me there should be significant debate on each of those significant amendments, not only by the government but by the opposition. We are being restricted by means of a time allocation motion to closing off debate after just one hour.

It seems to me that democracy will not be well served, that the legislative process certainly will not be well served. I think the legislation, as it eventually emerges if the government decides to proceed with the legislation, and we hope it does not, will not be the best possible piece of legislation because of the lack of time to deal adequately with the amendments the government has brought forward and the amendments the opposition has brought forward and will bring forward during consideration in committee of the whole of all the bill, the clause-by-clause of the bill, tomorrow when the government brings forward this legislation for consideration in committee of the whole.

I hope you will look at it in that light. It is a different light, I think. The opposition is putting forward a significant and compelling case for at the very minimum an expansion of the amount of time available, at the maximum for having the government go back and start the process once again, at least back at second reading and start the process once again: Go back to committee, deal with these matters in committee and then bring forward whatever it wishes to at a later point in time.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): There is nothing unusual about this process that has been undertaken. This is a normal committee of the whole process. It is a procedure that has been utilized I'm sure by parties opposite when they were in government between 1985 and 1990, and 1990 and 1995 --

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): To a greater extent than any other government.

Hon David Johnson: -- and, I'm informed, to a greater extent. This is a legitimate process. It allows for the case whereby public hearings are held, standing committee is in order, and amendments can come forward through the standing committee process. To the degree that amendments are not prepared or to the degree that further thought is required, then those amendments are legitimately entertained in the committee of the whole.

This is a process on which we've been working closely with the staff involved. We are assured that this is a normal process that has been pursued in the past. Indeed, unless my memory is incorrect, I believe that the social contract, for example, is a case in point where there were literally dozens, if not hundreds, of amendments that were put through the committee of the whole process.

Mr Speaker, I think you'll find on reflection that this is a normal process, the process to handle amendments which have come through the committee process. I don't think it would be appropriate to endeavour to understand motives or intent, or whatever, and to make rulings based on some machiavellian motives or intent, or whatever the opposition parties are alluding to.

It's simply a normal process: committee hearings, standing committee clause-by-clause, committee of the whole as a legitimate tool. It's been used down through the ages and I am quite confident that it will be used in future years as a normal part of the parliamentary process.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you to the government House leader, the member for St Catharines and the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Let's just be clear on a couple of issues up front. This House has adopted a motion for time allocation. Therefore, the Speaker and this Legislature are seized by that motion. That motion stipulates the requirements that we must live with, with respect to Bill 103 and any other bill that falls under time allocation.

The other fact is that amendments, be it at committee or be it at committee of the whole, are always in order. Any amendment can be made at either stage. An amendment doesn't necessarily have to be made at committee level and then also at the committee of the whole; they can be made at either/or. Particularly at committee, there are quite a few. But contrarily, if you, the opposition, lose a vote at committee, you may move the same amendment at committee of the whole.

Considering those facts, it may be unusual for opposition parties to be dealing with this bill in this fashion, it may be unusual that it's approached in this way, but let's be clear: Unusual doesn't make something out of order. Clearly, reading the time allocation motion, understanding that amendments are always in order and having been seized by that motion that was adopted by this House, it's academic. It would be considered in order now. Whether I reserved or not, it would still be in order and we would still have to carry on, as I see it.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I think it's important that we not kid ourselves here today and this week. We understand that you've got the numbers, that the government, having a majority, can do anything it really pleases. But surely the issue is not what you can do; it's what you should do. In the circumstances of the megacity bill, it's important to recollect that just a short while ago the people of Metropolitan Toronto voted overwhelmingly against that bill. They gave it very careful consideration and decided that they would have nothing to do with it. What do you think you ought to be doing in the circumstances? What should you be doing? In particular, should you be ignoring the clear and unequivocal response of the people of Metropolitan Toronto to your bill?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the Leader of the Opposition, we obviously took the results of the votes into consideration, as we took into consideration the 600 individuals who presented their position to the standing committee. We listened to that. We took it all into consideration and that's why we made a number of amendments to the bill that, in my opinion, satisfy the direction that the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto want to go in. What we're going to end up with is a single, unified city, while preserving local communities and local identities, which is what the majority of people in this municipality were telling us.


Mr McGuinty: Your amendments do not in any way, shape or form alter the very substance of the bill. The people of Metropolitan Toronto said they don't want you to take six cities and force them into one. Your bill continues to do that right up to this very moment.

They're also very concerned about taxes. At one point in time, this party had an obsession with taxes and keeping them down. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said last week -- and they said this taking into consideration the recent amendments -- "Even with your bogus amendments, it's a sure bet for higher taxes." You yourself have refused to guarantee that property taxes wouldn't rise in a megacity. Why are you going to ram this bill through and ensure that property taxes are going to go up as a result?

Hon Mr Leach: In my opinion, nothing could be further from being correct, that taxes are going to rise as a result of this. Any time you eliminate waste and duplication, any time you take seven of something and put them into one, any time you take six fire departments and create one, there are going to be savings. I don't think most reasonable people would have any problem in recognizing the ability to save the taxpayers money. We firmly believe that we will save $865 million in the first three years and probably $300 million a year every year after that, while providing government that is closer to the people, government that has less waste, less duplication and is more efficient.

Mr McGuinty: Not only are taxes going to go up; you should know that there's going to be a resulting loss in services and, just as importantly, there's going to be a loss of a sense of community. You know that Metro Toronto is recognized internationally as the best city in the world. That award was based largely on the fact that there is a strong sense of community lending shape to the cities in this region.

Your megacity is clearly going to dramatically weaken our communities at a time when they need those linkages. Furthermore, your bill does nothing to create the necessary linkages among members of the GTA. That's where the real problem is, and you're doing nothing about that whatsoever. Why are you deliberately ramming through your megacity, which is going to seriously weaken our sense of community in Metropolitan Toronto?

Hon Mr Leach: The Leader of the Opposition is mistaken again, because we are dealing with the GTA. I've said repeatedly that I plan to have the GTA services board in place to coincide with the creation of a single, unified city in Metropolitan Toronto. We recognize that the GTA is a single entity that has to be coordinated from Hamilton right through to Oshawa, and we plan to do that. There are individuals working in the GTA at the present time, as we speak, to bring forward proposals to ensure that the GTA is coordinated.

As far as protecting communities in the new city of Toronto is concerned, by establishing the neighbourhood committees and community councils there will be an opportunity for local communities to have better representation, closer opportunities to speak to their local councillors, without having the confusion of multiple levels of government, which create a lot of waste and duplication.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is for the Minister of Education. There is no doubt whatsoever that there is room for improvement in education in Ontario, and there are all kinds of good ideas out there. But if you look at them carefully, you'll see that they are held together by a single, common thread. Those good ideas are grounded in the notion that any improvements must, at a minimum, not harm classroom education. The problem is that none of those good ideas is found inside your Bill 104. Bill 104 is grounded in the notion that money can and will be found in education, and this will come at the expense of what is going on inside our classrooms.

The people who have presented at the committee which dealt with Bill 104 are very concerned about your plans to take more money out of education. I'm going to ask for your honesty on this issue. Tell me, how much more money do you intend to cut from Ontario's education budget?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): To the Leader of the Opposition, that is absolutely untrue; there is nothing in Bill 104 about reducing spending in education. Bill 104 is about moving from a very old system of governance in our education system to a new system. It's about revitalizing our education system in Ontario, it's about reducing bureaucracy, it's about reducing waste and duplication, and it's about reducing the number of politicians who are involved in our school system from about 1,900 to about 700. It's a bill that's supported by a large number of parents, students and taxpayers across Ontario who recognize the need for a renewed education system in Ontario.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, your credibility on this issue drops faster than Bre-X stock. You have personally refused to guarantee funding. You yourself speculated openly --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: I apologize, I might have touched a raw nerve on the part of investors in the government caucus.

Minister, you yourself have refused to provide any guarantees whatsoever with respect to funding. You have openly speculated about cutting another $1 billion, and last week there was a published report that you're looking at slashing as much as $1.5 billion from Ontario's education budget.

Let's talk about Bill 104 for a moment. At the committee hearings, about 90% of the parents and educators who appeared before the committee opposed your bill, saying it's going to harm their children's education. Why have you ignored the concerns of those presenters? Why have you made no real and substantive improvements to Bill 104? Why have you done that?

Hon Mr Snobelen: If there is anyone's credibility in this chamber coming into question, it would be that of the Leader of the Opposition, who continually spins into Bill 104 a whole variety of other things that may or may not happen. Bill 104 is about getting rid of waste and duplication, about reducing the number of bureaucrats in our education system and reducing the number of politicians. That's what's in Bill 104, that's what we presented to this Legislature and that's a bill I'm very proud of, and so are my colleagues.

Mr McGuinty: I'm not the guy who said I could find another $1 billion inside Ontario's education budget; I didn't say that. This minister against education said that, and that's what we're very much afraid of.

It's telling that the Premier described his dictatorial approach to Bill 26 as one of his biggest mistakes, and yet here we go again this week clearly with both the megacity and education bills. They're not listening. They're ignoring everything they've been told to date.

Maybe on a personal note, Minister, we ought to congratulate you because you are in effect about to create a very real crisis in Ontario's public system of education.

This government likes to talk about reinvestment, so I want to know -- I'm going to give you a chance here: As you go about cutting as much as $1.5 billion from our schools, will you commit today to reinvest every single penny back into the classroom?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the opportunity to say this: You are the guy who said about amalgamation: "We have an obligation to consider it. We can't back away from the prospects of amalgamation. As Liberals we're fiscally responsible. We've got to look at that."

On another quote, you are the guy who said, "I think there's generally fairly broad support for reduction in school boards." You're the guy who said that. If you want to talk about credibility in this chamber, this government is acting on its intentions and acting on its promises to the people of Ontario, unlike our friends across the floor.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the minister responsible for municipal affairs. I've spent much of the last three weeks meeting with municipal councillors, mayors and reeves across this province who are all very concerned about your downloading of health care, social services and social housing on to municipal property taxes. The download in just eight communities comes to over $1 billion. That's $1 billion that property taxpayers have to pick up. That doesn't include the downloading on the other 800 municipalities; just eight account for $1 billion.

Minister, even your friends in municipal government don't believe you any more. People don't want to pay higher property taxes so you can give your wealthy friends an income tax cut. Will you admit you were wrong? Will you withdraw your proposal to dump the costs of health care, social services and housing on to the backs of local taxpayers?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The leader of the third party might want to recall why we're having to do this: because of the mess that party over there got this government in. He might want to recall taking the debt to $100 billion. He might want to recall having $9 billion being made in interest payments. Then he wonders why this government had to come in and make some tough decisions to get this province's economy back on its feet. He might just want to reflect on that for a few minutes.

Mr Hampton: I'll reflect on somebody who used to be the commissioner of the Toronto Transit Commission and who used to come to a government I was a part of begging for money all the time. I remember you all too well, sir. I remember you all too well coming begging for money. So don't lecture us as you --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Government members, would you come to order, please.


The Speaker: Hold on, hold on.


The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Humber. Thank you. Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Everyone in this province knows this government is cutting health care and education and community services to find in excess of $5 billion to finance its tax scheme. That's what's really driving all this.

I want to ask the minister about his related megacity project, which is also in a shambles. You're still trying to tell people that despite the fact 76% of them voted against your bill they don't matter. You're still so incredibly arrogant that you believe you can simply ignore the public will. People are still quite opposed to your bill. They see your amendments as merely shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, nothing more. You still haven't addressed their issues. Will you finally withdraw Bill 103 and sit down and talk with people in the greater Toronto area about the real issues that confront them?

Hon Mr Leach: We did listen, we did talk. We had 600 delegates come to the committee to present their views and opinions as to what they wanted to see happen with a single, unified city. We also attended a number of public meetings to make sure we heard all of the voices of the people of Metropolitan Toronto present their views.

We have listened. We have made substantial amendments to the bill. As I said, we have achieved the best of both worlds. We will have a great unified, single city while still respecting the communities and neighbourhoods that people are so fond of and so proud of. Everything that we've done with the amendments to Bill 103 will address the concerns of those who came forward and presented.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Minister, you didn't listen. You didn't listen, because people did not have concerns just about the trustees or just about the other draconian powers and activities that you have in Bill 103. They were against the single, unified city. That's the key message you've ignored.

Since you persist in proceeding with this bill and with these amendments, will you at least show some little respect for what people said to you in the referendum and not proceed at this stage with the amendments that you filed and at least reconvene the committee and let us have a fuller discussion, something which you prevented us from doing by failing to submit the amendments to the committee as normally would have been the case? Will you at least show that little gesture that will respect, at least in a very minimal part, if you're not prepared to withdraw the bill, the sense of frustration that's out there and the sense that leads people to call your government the arrogant government that it has become? Will you at least do that, Minister?

Hon Mr Leach: Again, one of the reasons the amendments weren't tabled at committee was so that we could reflect on the results of the vote that had taken place, listen to what people had to say, and review the tapes and the data that had been presented at committee to fully understand what their concerns were.

They were concerned about the powers of the trustees; we've addressed that. They were concerned about the transition team; we addressed that. They were concerned about representation, whether 44 was too few; we addressed that. They were concerned about neighbourhoods, they were concerned about communities and they were concerned about municipal boundaries; we addressed that. All of the concerns that were put forward by the people of Metropolitan Toronto were listened to and are addressed in the amendments that we're bringing forward. We will have a unified city. We will have strong municipal commitment. We will have strong community commitment. That's what the people of this great city wanted.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Health. We have learned of a shocking practice that is now happening in Ontario hospitals. Many hospitals now require palliative care patients to pay a daily fee. Palliative care is for people who are dying, people who have a terminal illness. Palliative care helps them control the pain and deal with the disease symptoms. Can the Minister of Health tell us why his government has set up a system where people who are dying have to pay a daily user fee in order to receive hospital care?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): For many years -- it began under the Liberal government -- long-term patients in our hospitals have paid a copayment. There's nothing new in that. In the palliative care stage, if they've been in a chronic facility for a great period of time, those copayments continue in most cases at the discretion of the hospital. That policy has not changed. It's been in place for many, many years.

Mr Hampton: Oh, something really has changed. This is the minister who under Bill 26 introduced a regulation to allow hospitals to charge patients in chronic care beds a daily fee, and this is the Minister of Health who has presided over a system where even your own hospital restructuring commission said in its Toronto report, "Currently, the ministry has no policy for determining the location of and planning benchmarks for hospital-based palliative care beds."

Because you have no system in place, what's happening is that hospitals are using that chronic care user fee, that user fee that is attached to a chronic care bed, to force palliative care patients to pay a daily user fee. That's the reality of what's happening, and it's happening because you've cut $800 million from their budgets and they're scrambling for money and they're making use of the scenario you created. When are you going to do something to correct --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Hon Mr Wilson: Because there is discretion in the system, I would appreciate it if the honourable member would give me the specific case of the hospital or hospitals he's referring to and I'd be happy, as I always am in response to members' questions, to immediately look into that to make sure the policy is not being abused in some way.

Second, no one on the face of the earth spends more on health care per person than Ontario today. The honourable member is in error. The health care budget is up significantly and it continues to grow. For once the NDP should acknowledge that revenues are up because of the tax cut. You left us with a huge deficit in the province. We've had to close about 14 ministries. There are fewer ministers and there's less of everything on this side of the House, and every penny and more has gone into an increased health care budget.

Why don't you just admit some facts for a change rather than flying off the cuff and using all the rhetoric that you use? The health care budget is up. It's never been stronger in this province. We're correcting a lot of problems of the last 10 years that your government and the Liberal government failed to address.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): You tried to shove that one. That didn't go anywhere.

The Speaker: I caution the member for Windsor-Sandwich, I hear you much clearer now. I guess it's from a few rows up. You must come to order. The Minister of Health has the floor. It's important I hear him as well.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Minister, you, and you alone, are responsible for the chaos that faces palliative care patients and their caregivers and their families. You want to know where? We can tell you because our colleague Peter Kormos uncovered the fact that this fee is being charged by Douglas Memorial Hospital, the Greater Niagara General, Port Colborne General, St Catharines General, Welland hospital, West Lincoln and Shaver Hospital. We're doing our work today, through the palliative care information centre, to find out where in Metro Toronto they charge it, because we know they do.

You're responsible. You have no plan for palliative care beds in hospitals, yet you're closing chronic care beds which often take on these patients. You're allowing hospitals to charge for those chronic care beds whether or not the patient in that bed is palliative. You and your commission have yet to present a coherent plan for long-term care which ensures that dying patients, who are either forced out of hospitals by this fee or who choose to die at home, have the level of care and support they and their families require. The need for palliative care is growing. When are you going to present an effective and comprehensive plan to deal with this very vulnerable population?

Hon Mr Wilson: Clearly the NDP's past has come back to haunt them. Mr Jackson and I recall being on that side of the House when you delisted long-term care from OHIP services, one of the 19 services you took out of OHIP and out of the Canada Health Act. So if there's a correction to be made here, this government once again would be happy to make the correction on behalf of seniors and on behalf of people who need palliative care. But we didn't delist long-term care; you delisted long-term care, and the chickens are coming back to roost. Once again, we'd be happy to fix the situation.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance and it has to do with the situation on Bre-X. As everybody knows, thousands of individuals have lost literally millions of dollars on this. The Ontario Securities Commission, as you know, reports to you. Their mission is to protect investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices and to foster fair and efficient capital markets and confidence in their integrity, an important role. Bre-X certainly, I think it's fair to say, has shattered a lot of confidence. My question is this: When did the Ontario Securities Commission become aware of the problem, what steps did it take and when did they inform you of the problem?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I'm sure the honourable member is aware that the Ontario Securities Commission is an independent agency that operates on its own.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Oh.

Hon Mr Eves: I hear the member for St Catharines saying, "Oh." Everybody in this province can certainly be proud that we do have an institution like the Ontario Securities Commission there protecting investors. It has a worldwide reputation as being one of the most vigilant securities commissions not only in Canada but indeed in all of North America.

They are an independent body, and I think it is very important that they remain such. They make their own decisions. They have very tough standards and they have set an example for the rest of the country to the point where, of course, we have other provinces and indeed the federal government talking about creating a national securities commission with its base here in Toronto, Ontario.

Mr Phillips: I had hoped the minister might provide some assurance for the public. The minister will know that on July 26 the commission sent its annual report to you, signalling its concerns about the budget that you've set for them, indicating that, as they say here: "During the past several years, it has operated with a high vacancy rate, due to budget constraints." It pointed out that they must be assured of adequate funding and managerial authority to discharge their mandate. "Failure to do so will severely erode the likelihood of successful outcomes."

Minister, I was trying to give you an opportunity to reassure the public, who are concerned out there right now, and to say that it is an arm's-length agency, I think you are failing to inform the public that it is the Ministry of Finance that sets their budget. They have indicated concerns, and my question is, and it's important for you to reassure the markets, does the Ontario Securities Commission have adequate resources to allow them to effectively carry out their responsibility?

Hon Mr Eves: Absolutely is the answer to that question. The member would probably also know -- if he didn't know this, he should have known this -- that I visited the Ontario Securities Commission last November and I made a commitment to the commission that in this coming fiscal year they will have between $3 million and $5 million added to their budget.

I made a commitment to them that over a period of a very short number of years they will become a fully self-funded operating agency in the province. I've also asked for the commission to report back to me with recommendations that they would make to the government to make them a totally independent, fully funded, self-funded, self-regulated commission.

I don't know why the honourable member chose not to mention any of that in his questions, and I think he is not doing the Ontario public any good, nor the Toronto Stock Exchange, nor the Ontario Securities Commission, to even begin to hint that Bre-X's problems are as a result of some sort --

The Speaker: New question, third party, member for Algoma.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. The minister will know that executive members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ontario division, are occupying the minister's office today. They are doing this because of their concern that under Bill 104 the government intends to remove successor rights and override collective agreements, to make it possible for private companies to take over the jobs of the people who care for and clean and maintain our schools or work in school offices and provide special services to children.

Last week in the committee the government members refused to support our amendment to delete the section of Bill 104 which would require the proposed Education Improvement Commission to promote contracting out of these jobs. Instead the government members watered down the wording. However, the government is still singling out non-teaching staff in its effort to take $1 billion to $1.5 billion out of our education system.

Why is the government keeping, in Bill 104, the instruction to the Education Improvement Commission --

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

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for clarifying for me today why it is that Sid Ryan and some associates might be in my office today. I was a little confused about it. We don't have an appointment, although I'm more than happy to make one and to have a meeting with those folks at any time. Unfortunately, there is no meeting and also they have chosen to be at my office on a day when I'm scheduled not to be there. I was a little confused about that. Given that the member opposite seems to know more about it than I do, I am pleased he brought that information forward today.

The reason my colleagues and I made an amendment to Bill 104 was to meet those very concerns he's speaking of, to make sure the language reflected our intentions. Let's be very clear about it: Our intentions are to have a first-quality education for every student in Ontario and to deliver that at a cost that represents a real value for the taxpayers of Ontario -- quality and value. My colleagues and I believe that's what we should be doing and that's what we are doing.


Mr Wildman: During the committee hearings we heard from all kinds of people -- school boards, trustees, teachers, parents, students -- about the downsizing and contracting out of these jobs. As a matter of fact we heard from Ernie Parsons, the chair of the Hastings County Board of Education, who told the committee: "Good things happen in our schools because of our non-teaching staff. I'm asking you to please allow us to locally recognize their dedication and continue to employ our current staff."

The member for Durham East has decided to introduce a private member's resolution. Flawed as it may be, it would ensure that the current employees, if there is contracting out, have the right to bid on those contracts. While I think that resolution doesn't go far enough, I'm asking the minister today if he will be in the House on Thursday to support the private member's resolution introduced by his colleague from Durham East.

Hon Mr Snobelen: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to inform the member opposite that my colleague from Durham East is concerned about making sure that the people in our education system are dealt with professionally and with compassion and empathy if in fact some reductions are necessary, so obviously all my colleagues lean that way and are inclined to be concerned about those sorts of things, including myself.

There were a large number of people heard from as the committee travelled on Bill 104. A lot of concerns were heard from people who represented various unions and other groups, but there were also people who talked about improvements that could be made in the system of education. We heard the people from the Ottawa-Carleton French Catholic board, who have made extraordinary gains in the quality of their education system while being able to provide that with lower costs to their taxpayers. That's the sort of thing we believe all the people of Ontario should be able to benefit from and Bill 104 will allow us to take those steps forward, in quality, in effectiveness and in real value for our education system.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Ontario Hydro, I understand, has a new initiative for sponsorship called Lighting Up the Theatres of Ontario. The Tarragon Theatre in my riding of St Andrew-St Patrick has been lucky enough to be chosen for this initiative and I wonder if you could tell us something about the value of this program to the theatres and to Ontario.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Ontario Hydro recognizes the importance of the performing arts organizations in our economy and our communities. As well, Ontario Hydro is aware of the pressures on many of these non-profit organizations. At the same time, we are seeing exciting new innovations with regard to performance lighting in these theatres, regarding both quality and energy efficiency. That is why Ontario Hydro created this program initiative, which is a matching grant program designed to cover between one third and two thirds of the cost of upgrading lighting systems at professional community-based and non-profit theatre organizations across Ontario.

Ms Bassett: The Tarragon Theatre of course is lucky to have been part of this initiative. By the way, since I have everybody's attention, they have the highly acclaimed show The Glass Menagerie there now that you can all go to. With the new Lighting Up Ontario, could you tell me what you need to do to participate in this program. Can other theatres get involved? What selection criteria did you use for the theatres you chose so that other theatres perhaps could line up and be part of it?

Hon Mr Sterling: Last year Ontario Hydro invited theatres from across Ontario to apply to this program and they had 43 applications. They also asked the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, the Canadian Centre for Business in the Community and the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada to look at all these applications and come up with those that would qualify the best. Twenty theatres were chosen: 13 this year and seven next. I'm pleased that the member for St Andrew-St Patrick was the recipient of one of the benefits of this particular program.

I believe Ontario Hydro, through its program, will be able to support Ontario's vibrant theatre industry and improve energy efficiency at the same time.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. You've been the minister since last year and since that time we've had the death of a child who was in the care of the government of Ontario. Since that time the Ontario children's aid societies chose to do an investigation into why deaths of children under your watch were so alarmingly high. Minister, I'd like you to tell the House today, since last year, since you've been the minister, what have you done to address this issue?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Anybody who has ever been in the Ministry of Community and Social Services unfortunately gets to see some very tragic circumstances whenever a child dies, either in the care of their family or in the care of a children's aid society. No matter how good we think our systems are, they have to be better, because we do not want any child to be harmed or to die in any circumstance like this.

That's one of the reasons why the ministry has been so pleased to participate with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies and the coroner's office in the task force that is taking a look at some of the child deaths that have occurred in the past, to find out if there are common links and to make recommendations as to what we can do to improve the support for those child welfare workers who are making those very difficult decisions.

Mrs Pupatello: It's very strange, because no one else thinks you participated in this study, but since you have announced today that you participated in this task force, it only stands to reason that you are going to implement the recommendations of your task force. In fact, when journalists asked you last week about your response, you didn't say how concerned you were about tragic events. You said, "It's bad judgement by the front-line workers." You took the opportunity to blame the staff at the front line for the deaths of children under your watch.

Minister, if you are admitting today that this is your task force, in fact it is your report, will you then confirm that you will be instituting all the recommendations of your report?

Hon Mrs Ecker: With all due respect to the honourable member, I really wish she would check her facts. I did not blame child welfare workers out there who are making extremely difficult decisions. What they need from the government, what they need from the opposition is better support. The Toronto Sun article did not quote me, and if you'd listened to Metro Morning, if you'd listened to CBC, if you'd listened to CFTO, you would know exactly what I said about the child welfare workers. They need support, Madam Member over there; they do not need politics from you.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question of the Attorney General and minister responsible for native affairs with regard to the meeting notes dated September 5 of the interministerial committee, which are now public and which indicate that this government played a significant role in the events that led to the fatal shooting of Dudley George at Ipperwash. Although the meeting notes make it clear that there had not been any discussions with the Stony Pointers by MNR or the OPP and it wasn't clear what their demands might be, although they were noted to be non-violent, they indicate that neither the government nor the OPP attempted to communicate with the occupiers of Ipperwash park, preceding the major police buildup and the shift in the role the police played from previous incidents which were ended peacefully. It states, "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers ASAP." Is that why the OPP suddenly changed their long-standing historical approach in dealing with these disputes?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): It's quite clear that the actions of the province were to take the steps to obtain a civil injunction, and that is exactly what the province did. The province took those steps and I believe appeared in court on September 7 to obtain a civil injunction. What the police did were simply matters that were left to the police. Commissioner O'Grady made it very clear that there was no political interference. Police made decisions, they made those decisions on their own and Commissioner O'Grady certainly confirmed that was the case.

Mr Wildman: It says clearly on page 3, under the heading "Next Steps," "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers ASAP. The OPP will have the discretion as to how to proceed with removing the Stony Pointers from the park" -- not whether to proceed, but how to proceed ASAP. The Premier stated on May 29, 1996, "There was absolutely no direction, as there ought not to be, from me or any of my staff to the OPP."

We now know that it's not true that this government didn't give any direction. As a matter of fact, it's right here in the notes that the OPP should proceed. That direction led to the fatal shooting of a man named Dudley George. Only a public inquiry can have the broad powers to deal with the chain of command to determine who made the decisions all the way up from the OPP in the field to the Premier's office. Will the minister now agree that this government must call a public inquiry as soon as possible into the events that led to the shooting of Dudley George?

Hon Mr Harnick: As I indicated and as has been confirmed by Commissioner O'Grady, the OPP had the discretion to deal with this matter as they normally would have had the discretion and indeed had the discretion in this case. There was no political interference; there was no political direction. The decision that was made on a political basis was to take a decision and direct that a civil injunction be prepared and proceeded with, and that is exactly what happened.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. In last year's budget, in addition to cutting income taxes and cutting employer health tax, the government also demonstrated its commitment to the Ontario agricultural industry by announcing it would rebate the Ontario retail sales tax for commercial construction on farms throughout the province of Ontario. In doing so, it recognized the very central role that agriculture continues to play in the Ontario economy.

Last week, the minister made an important announcement at CalMar Farms in my constituency of Nepean. Could the minister explain to the House how the retail sales tax rebate program for commercial farmers will boost economic growth and job creation in the agricultural communities across Ontario?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Yes, this confirms the commitment that this government has to the food producers of this province. By rebating 8% retail sales tax on capital construction, it will give the farmers of this province the opportunity of being more efficient and to control their own destiny.

It will also give the construction industry a boost and will certainly bring a lot of real good, solid thinking through to the farmers of Ontario, that their government is 110% behind them. It recognizes the importance of this industry, second only to the car industry, and that we will be exporting from this province upwards of $10 billion by the turn of the century. Yes, the sales tax rebate is of utmost importance and it is a clear signal to Ontario's food producers that their government is with them.

Mr Baird: I know this program has been a real incentive to construction on farms in my riding and throughout Carleton county. New construction means new jobs and a strong agricultural industry means a strong Ontario economy. I understand that a considerable amount of money remains left in the fund. Could the minister update the House on the specific success to date of the program and on the anticipated demand for this program in the coming year?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: According to the latest statistics I have, the province has rebated about 1,000 applications for the sales tax, well over $2 million. There are 400 applications on file right now and, as you would all know, farmers are presently in the process of completing their income tax returns for last year and we expect a real rush of applications for rebate of the sales tax.

Certainly, by giving farmers time to plan -- we gave them more time this year because it was last Thursday that the extension was announced -- it gives them time to plan and make the arrangements before their very busy time of the year, which is next month, and we anticipate that this will indeed be a very productive and positive move in the area of food production.


Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. For almost two years now I have been urging you to keep your promise of no cuts to agriculture and you have accused me of fearmongering. Now a group of 36 Ontario farm organizations has banded together for the express purpose of opposing your government's cuts.

I have worked in agriculture all of my life and this is the first time I've seen this many groups united on a single issue. They are telling you that agriculture must not be cut further. It is your duty to send the message to your cabinet colleagues as you prepare for the provincial budget. Will you stand in your place today and give 110% and tell this House that you will not tolerate any further attacks on the agricultural budget?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I thank my colleague across the way for the question. Of course, he didn't mention that we just extended the provincial sales tax rebate, which will be another $20 million, and the Grow Ontario program, another $15 million. Those two parties promised to correct the farm tax rebate. I am proud to say that this government has corrected a serious inequity: yes, $171 million that farmers no longer have to pay and then wait for a rebate.

The Liberal government brought that in, in smoke and mirrors, back in the late 1980s, and tried to make it look like the Ministry of Agriculture's budget had gone up by well over $100 million, when what happened? It went from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs across the street to 801 Bay Street.

I am pleased to tell you that I met with the 36 representatives of the Ontario agrifood industry, listened to them, and I can tell you that they are quite happy with what --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Hoy: I don't believe that the farm organizations are that happy and you can't reannounce program after program and make it like you're doubling the money. It's $20 million and it's a one-time deal.

In at least one township I know of the council is granting up to 80 severances from farm land at a time. The mayor said that this is the only way they can make up for the provincial downloading. He says, "I know we're bending the rules a little, but what can we do?"

Your government is causing this and gives only vague suggestions as to how municipalities may be eligible to receive some funding through your limited restructuring funds, and that's not satisfactory. Will you commit to returning the funding dollar for dollar so that the municipalities do not have to pay for the dumped programs on the backs of rural Ontarians?


Hon Mr Villeneuve: I'm not sure if the honourable member was at the ROMA convention, but I was very pleased at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association convention to tell them there's a $1-billion community reinvestment fund, a $1-billion renewal annually, along with a $1.5-billion special account for capital projects, operating and social services.

It's indeed somewhat frustrating when the honourable member attempts to try to belittle the fact that there will be a $1-billion renewal fund to assist not only in the moneys that will be taken away from rural municipalities but indeed to look after municipalities.

We have taken away $5.4 billion of educational costs from the tax bill --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Today, April 1, marks the day on which the province of Ontario is handing down to the municipalities across this province some 1,776 kilometres of highways. Municipalities across this province are upset. In Timmins they're so upset they've taken matters into their own hands. They've tried to meet with ministry officials in order to say that this is a bad deal for the residents of the city of Timmins, as it is across the province, and to no avail; you, the minister, and your ministry have not responded to the concerns of the city of Timmins, as with every other community across this province. In fact, the city of Timmins had to erect signs on the highways this morning in and around the city of Timmins. I want to send you a copy. It says that Highway 101 --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, the member for Cochrane South. I appreciate it, but that is in fact a prop. Minister of Transportation.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): These past two years this government was saying all along that highways that no longer serve a purpose are going to be transferred to municipalities. I'd add that this is not an invention of the Harris government; as long as I can remember, this has been ongoing.

I want to reiterate that these transfers are going to be taking place with compensation attached to them, or the roads are going to be in the best condition they could possibly be. We are delivering those highways to municipalities that are serving strictly a municipal purpose.

Mr Bisson: To the Minister of Transportation, I really succinctly want to put to you that the highways you're transferring over --


The Speaker: It's his time you're wasting, member for Fort York.

Mr Bisson: The highways you're transferring over to the municipality of Timmins, like you are to all other municipalities, are not only municipal in significance; they are provincial highways. The municipalities don't have the money to be able to pay for them. In the city of Timmins, it means an extra $400,000 they've got to find from the municipal tax base to pay for these particular highways.

Minister, I ask you once again, will you please stop this download on to the municipalities of the province of Ontario and stop this attack on the taxpayers and keep the highways where they belong: with the province?

Hon Mr Palladini: We are not attacking any municipality. I'm just going to reiterate the same thing, that these highways that are being transferred no longer serve a provincial purpose; they are a municipal road.

Speaking of funding, if a municipality happens to be in the position that it supposedly can't afford to keep funding this highway, we have a $1-billion restructuring fund that municipalities can draw from. We are not doing things that shouldn't be done. As a matter of fact, we are doing what should be done in the best interests of all Ontarians.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is for the Minister of Finance. New home buyers are very pleased to learn that you've extended the program which refunds up to $1,725 of the land transfer tax for the first-time buyers on newly constructed homes. A home is the biggest purchase most of us make in our lives, and with the costs of real estate closing, moving and new appliances, a tax rebate of this size is very helpful. According to home builders, many first-time purchasers say the land transfer tax refund was the incentive they needed to buy a new home. In my city of Mississauga 3,478 households purchased new homes during the first 11 months of this program. Our city is very proud of its new neighbourhoods and its infill housing. Minister, what has been the impact of the land transfer tax refund on housing affordability in Ontario?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The response to the land transfer tax rebate program announced in the budget last year was tremendous. Over 11,000 first-time home buyers in Ontario have taken advantage of this program. That amounts to over $13.5 million given to young families making a start in life. The amount they have saved from this program, the maximum being $1,725, could account for 17% of their downpayment or a major purchase of appliances such as five appliances. There's been a tremendous response to the program and that's why we decided to extend it for another year.

Mrs Marland: One of the biggest advantages of the land transfer tax rebate program is the boost it gives to employment in the construction industry and the retail sector. Minister, do you have any information on the economic growth and job creation that have resulted from this program and from other new policies of our government?

Hon Mr Eves: The construction of one single new home creates 2.8 years of employment in Ontario. In the province last year new housing starts were up 20.2%. In February alone, new home sales in Toronto were up 44.7% and up almost 60% -- 59.6% -- for the 1996 calendar year. Since August 1996 Ontario has led the way in construction jobs created in Canada. There have been 34,000 construction jobs created in Canada since August 1996, with 29,000 of them here in Ontario. I think members can readily see the tremendous economic impact this policy in housing starts has had in the province. We are leading the way in Canada with respect to housing starts and construction jobs and we will continue to do so in the future.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, I need to ask you once again about Veronica Manuel, a constituent of mine who is desperately trying to keep her severely disabled son Dylan at home. You will recall that Veronica appeared before the standing committee on social development a couple of months ago to tell her story, a story that shocked and upset all members of the committee, including the government members, a story of how the actions of this government have left her physically and financially exhausted and how her full-time job looking after Dylan has not been acknowledged by this government.

You've told me personally that you're very moved by the circumstances of Ms Manuel's case, yet neither you nor your officials have responded to her many letters, phone calls and pleas since her appearance before the committee. I have one more letter from Ms Manuel which I'd like to have a page deliver to you today. I'd like to ask you, and then I won't get a supplementary, two questions, if I can. Do you not think Ms Manuel, as a full-time caregiver, deserves a response from you and do you not think it is time that caregiver status should be acknowledged by your government and by yourself?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): To the honourable member, yes, for this particular individual the situation is quite tragic. We do recognize the financial and personal sacrifice parents are making to care for disabled children at home. It's one of the reasons we increased the spending on the special services at home program. Yes, we have gotten back to this particular individual to try and help solve the case. I'd be quite pleased to accept this recent letter and to see what more we can do to try and help this woman.




Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I have a petition from over 500 organizations and women and it reads as follows:

"Women's declaration against the amalgamation and for local democracy:

"We, the undersigned women from all of Metro Toronto, demand that (1) the Ontario government cease all proceedings on Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, and recall its trustees; (2) withdraw all proposals to download costs of welfare, health and assisted housing.

"Because women work to create services that benefit our communities such as child care, recreation centres, settlement houses, health and safety programs and public education;

"Because we believe our communities are stronger when people care for those in need, regardless of their place of origin, and that all residents of Ontario should share this responsibility to care;

"Because women are as a group more dependent on community and social services, it is women who will suffer most from their loss;

"Because the added financial burden on municipalities will jeopardize existing and future services which women need: housing for low-income people; long-term care for the elderly; child care; public health services; environmental sustainability projects; projects to prevent violence; safe, affordable, convenient and dependable transit; employment equity programs; public education for the diverse needs of our community; urban design and planning policies which make our communities safer and more livable;

"Because local community institutions foster the participation and leadership of women in government;

"Because women fought for the right to vote and make decisions about our lives;

"Because there is no equality when others make important decisions for us;

"We therefore urge all women to: (1) oppose this amalgamation; (2) sign this declaration; (3) vote No."

I'm very pleased to add my signature.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I too have a petition with literally thousands of names, signed by women across the province. It reads:

"Women's declaration against amalgamation and for local democracy:

"We, the undersigned women from all of Metro Toronto, demand that the Ontario government (1) cease all proceedings on Bill 103, the City of Toronto Act, and recall its trustees; (2) withdraw all proposals to download costs of welfare, health and assisted housing.

"Because women work to create services that benefit our community such as child care, recreation centres, settlement houses, health and safety programs, and good public education;

"Because we believe our communities are better when people care for those in need, regardless of their place of origin, and that all residents of Ontario should share this responsibility to care;

"Because women are as a group more dependent on community and social services, it is women who will suffer most from their loss;

"Because the added financial burden on municipalities will jeopardize existing and future services which women need: housing for low-income people; long-term care for the elderly; child care; public health services; environmental sustainability projects; programs to prevent violence; safe, affordable, convenient and dependable transit; employment equity programs; public education for the diverse needs of our community; urban design and planning policies which make our communities safer and more livable;

"Because local community institutions foster the participation and leadership of women in government;

"Because women fought for the right to vote and make decisions about our lives;

"Because there is no equality when others make important decisions for us;

"We therefore urge all women to (1) oppose this amalgamation; (2) sign this declaration; (3) vote No in local referendums."

This declaration is sponsored by the Women's Coalition for Local Democracy, including the City of Toronto Committee on the Status of Women, Women Plan Toronto and Older Women's Network. I sign my signature to this petition because I fully support it.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have a petition that says:

"We, the undersigned, urge the government of the province of Ontario to heed the advice of the citizens, elected officials and planning bodies of our area and continue funding the Georgian Wood Addiction Centre as a multifunctional rural addiction treatment centre with a short-term residential program, and to continue its divestment to the North Simcoe Hospital Alliance, and to continue to work cooperatively with the new integrated service delivery system for this end of the centre region in north Simcoe."

This is from Orillia, Penetanguishene, Midland and Stayner and areas in north Simcoe, and I've signed my name to it.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que des accidents surviennent sur une base régulière et qu'un rapport de la PPO de Rockland démontre que 23 accidents sérieux sont survenus au cours des huit derniers mois sur la route 17 entre Rockland et Orléans ;

«Attendu qu'une étude démontre que pas moins de 18 000 voitures circulent chaque jour sur cette portion de 20 kilomètres de la route 17 ;

«Attendu que la conception d'ébauches est complétée, des audiences publiques ont eu lieu et des parcelles de terrain ont été achetées ;

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Nous demandons au ministre des Transports, Al Palladini, de remettre sur sa liste de priorités le projet d'élargissement de la route 17 entre le chemin Trim et Clarence Point et nous demandons au gouvernement de mettre de côté les fonds nécessaires pour l'exécution de ce projet avant de remettre aux municipalités la responsabilité de la route 17.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by thousands of residents of places like Hornepayne, Wawa, Blind River, Parry Sound and Metropolitan Toronto opposing the restructuring that is being proposed by this government and Bill 104, specifically the lack of local autonomy and local accountability and accessibility and the downloading to municipal taxpayers, as well as the contracting out of jobs for non-instructional staff. I support the petition and sign my name to it.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by 1,890 people from across Toronto:

"Whereas the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto have overwhelmingly voted against the amalgamation of the six municipalities into a megacity,

"We, the undersigned, call on the government to withdraw Bill 103 and stop plans to create a megacity."

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition against the megacity madness of this government. On top of this petition there is a big headline which says, "Stop the Megacity Madness." It's addressed to the Ontario Legislature. It reads:

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

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

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

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

"We, therefore, the undersigned residents of Ontario and Toronto, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

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

Since I agree with the sentiments, I'm putting my signature on the bottom.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I've got a petition here from the Ontario Omnibus Alliance. There are 2,000 names. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:

"Whereas we, the registered voters of the province of Ontario, expect the government we elect to lead our Legislature in a responsible and competent manner; and

"Whereas we expect the government we elect to be the government of all the people and to consult with the opposition and to respect the mandate given the government by the electorate; and

"Whereas the present government, led by Premier Mike Harris, has forced the passage of important legislation without adequate preparation, consultation and debate, and has exceeded the mandate given the government by the electorate, and has passed legislation, including Bill 26, that increases the power of the government to unduly intrude into the lives of the people and contradicts the values that define us as a compassionate, inclusive and just society, and has caused us to become more divided at a time when we should be overlooking our differences and coming together to find new ways of protecting and nurturing those values to which we all aspire; and

"Whereas we, the registered voters of the province of Ontario, for the reasons given above have lost all confidence in the leadership of Mike Harris;

"Then be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of the province of Ontario to remove Mike Harris from the position of Premier by whatever legal means, including his voluntary resignation, and to replace him at the earliest possible moment with a competent and responsible member of the provincial Parliament."

I affix my signature to that.



Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I have a petition in regard to Bill 104.

"Whereas Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, is a threat to our education system;

"Whereas the Education Improvement Commission has far-reaching and unprecedented powers;

"Whereas outsourcing of non-instructional jobs such as school secretaries, custodians, library technicians and educational assistants will result in chaos and poor service and limited savings, if any;

"We therefore petition the Legislative Assembly to repeal Bill 104, to limit the powers of the Education Improvement Commission and to guarantee successor rights for non-instructional jobs."


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's signed by many people throughout the riding of Kenora, and I too have attached my signature to that petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We oppose the provisions provided for in Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, in which the Education Improvement Commission, which is an appointed, not an elected body, will conduct research, facilitate discussion and make recommendations to the Minister of Education on how to promote and facilitate the outsourcing of non-instructional services by district school boards.

"Bill 104 will adversely affect the quality of consistent support presently available to students in our schools. Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, in its present form is not acceptable to the citizens of Ontario."

This is signed by over 3,000 citizens from London and area, and I am proud to affix my signature.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I'd like to present a petition to the Legislature signed by a number of people in the London area expressing a lack of confidence in the government.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's signed by a great many Ontario citizens as well as constituents in my own riding, and I have affixed my signature in complete agreement.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition which is signed by 71 residents of the city of Hamilton and it reads as follows:

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

As I understand it, our government provided money, and construction occurred at Macassa Lodge. Then this Conservative government, which promised no cuts to health care, indeed cancelled the final phase at a cost of $8.5 million. The seniors are particularly concerned about this, and I am pleased that Chris Charlton, who is our federal candidate in that area, has gathered the petitions and asked me to present them here. I agree with the petitioners.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On February 19, 1997, in remarks that I made directed to the second reading debate of the police services bill, Bill 105, I referred to the Mr Justice Campbell report of the policing into the Bernardo matter, using some rather intemperate language, I must say, upon reflection. I referred to the Niagara Regional Police in that debate on Wednesday, February 19, 1997, as "that bloody police force." Those remarks, upon reflection, I deem to be inappropriate. I withdraw them and apologize for any upset they might have caused.



Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

Clerk Assistant and Executive Director of Legislative Services (Ms Deborah Deller): Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Shall the report be received and adopted?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated January 29, 1997, the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on social development and move its adoption.

Clerk Assistant and Executive Director of Legislative Services (Ms Deborah Deller): Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill 104, An Act to improve the accountability, effectiveness and quality of Ontario's school system by permitting a reduction in the number of school boards, establishing an Education Improvement Commission to oversee the transition to the new system, providing for certain matters related to elections in 1997 and making other improvements to the Education Act and the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Shall the report be received and adopted?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated February 6, 1997, the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): This is an opposition day and this is the opposition resolution:

Whereas the Harris Conservative government is refusing to listen to the voices of citizens in East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto and York who have clearly rejected the Harris government's megacity proposal in Bill 103; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government has ignored the concerns expressed by parents and educators about the grab for central control of schools in Bill 104; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government, by appointing trustees to oversee actions of elected municipal councils before final passage of Bill 103, has shown no regard for the role of the Legislative Assembly; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government, by appointing committee vice-chairs with powers over elected school boards before final passage of Bill 104, has shown no regard for the authority of the Legislative Assembly; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government is taking control of schools away from elected local school board members so that it can cut education spending to fund its tax cut scheme; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government, while slashing $1.3 billion from Ontario hospitals, is ordering hospitals closed before ensuring that community services are in place to meet health care needs; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government is downloading the costs of welfare, long-term care, public health, housing, public transit, libraries, police, child care, ambulance services and other social services to find money to pay for its tax cut scheme;

Whereas the Harris Conservative government, instead of seeking real input for its proposals, has spent millions of taxpayers' dollars on slick advertising campaigns intended to shore up sagging Tory support; and

Whereas the Harris Conservative government set the tone for its bully tactics by passing the anti-worker Bill 7 without a single minute of public hearings, then trying to ram the omnibus Bill 26 through the Legislative Assembly without listening to the province-wide concerns;

Therefore this House calls on the government to withdraw Bill 103 and Bill 104; to make a new start on reforming municipal and education governance in Ontario; to stop cutting base funding of hospitals; to allow communities to determine how to restructure their hospital services and ensure that community services are in place before hospitals are closed; to embrace a process that gives all citizens a chance to have their voices heard; and to reverse the decision to download social service costs on to municipal taxpayers. Premier of Ontario.

To be debated Tuesday, April 1, 1997.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Hampton moves opposition day number 4:

Whereas the Harris Conservative government is refusing to listen to the voices of citizens in East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, Toronto and York who have clearly rejected the Harris government's megacity proposal in Bill 103 --

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Dispense.

The Deputy Speaker: The Speaker doesn't have to dispense, but I will dispense. He doesn't have to, but I will dispense.

Mr Hampton: I'm pleased to lead off debate on this opposition day resolution because it's really one of the few opportunities we've had to bring all of these issues together and bring them together in a way which people across this province can begin to understand.

The government wants to say, for example, on the health care front that it is restructuring health care. The fact of the matter is that it is doing something quite different: It is cutting health care. It has cut $800 million out of hospital budgets already, which has forced the layoff of literally thousands of nurses and health care workers across this province. It is going to cut more than a further $400 million out of hospital budgets next year. Meanwhile, it is closing not five, not 10, but literally dozens of hospitals across this province, but it is not putting in place any community alternatives to the services that used to be obtained in those hospitals.

On the education front, the government is trying to say to people that its education agenda is all about waste and inefficiency, but in fact what we're seeing is that $1.2 billion has already been taken out of education, which has severely hurt adult education, which has severely hurt early childhood education, which has forced all kinds of cuts in the classroom, and the government has an agenda to take a further $1.5 billion out of education.

Finally, we're now seeing the downloading, and in Toronto the megacity and downloading, agenda. That agenda is all about forcing down on to municipalities over $1.5 billion in health care costs and costs for social assistance and costs for things like child care, policing, seniors' housing, homes for the aged, public health and so on.

Where is all this money going? Where is the more than $2 billion that's going to be taken out of health care going to go? Where is the more than $2 billion that's being taken out of education going to go? Where is the more than $1.5 billion that's going to be forced on to municipalities going to go? It's going to go to finance this government's tax scheme, which is overwhelmingly going to benefit the wealthiest people in this province. Any economist worth her or his salt will tell you that if you simply do the numbers on this government's income tax scheme, two thirds of the benefits of their income tax scheme are going to go to the 10% who are at the very top of the income ladder.

So people like Matthew Barrett at the Bank of Montreal, who receives $3.9 million a year in compensation from the bank, is going to get a huge gift from the Harris government, a huge gift. The Premier's dear friend Mr Stronach at Magna International, whose total compensation is in the neighbourhood of $48 million a year, is going to get a huge gift from this government.

The reality is this: We're going to see across Ontario holes and cracks cut in our health care system by this Conservative government, our education system turned upside down and inside out by this government and holes and cracks cut in our communities in order that this government can give a large tax benefit to the wealthiest people in this province.

This government is prepared to sacrifice our health care system, prepared to sacrifice our system of education, prepared to sacrifice our communities, which have been the foundation of our economic productivity and our social stability. This government is prepared to sacrifice all those things, cut holes and cracks in all of those things, in order that they can give the wealthiest people in this province a tax gift.

That is what is really happening here. We wanted this opposition day, on the eve of this government's steamrolling some of its legislation through the House, to bring focus to what is really happening, to bring focus to the fact that we're undermining our education system so that this government can give its wealthy friends a tax cut.

Who wins and who loses here? Obviously our health care system loses, our education system loses, our communities lose. But what's more, all of Ontario eventually loses in this. All of Ontario loses because the fact of the matter is that the system of education we've built in this province has been the foundation of much of our economic productivity, has been the foundation of much of the social stability that contributes to that economic productivity.

Even the Premier says it when he goes abroad. When he goes to France or Germany or Switzerland he says to them: "Ontario has got an excellent education system, a well-trained workforce. That's why you ought to come to Ontario and invest." Yet here, now in this Legislature we see a government that is prepared to sacrifice the long-term success of our system of education to satisfy their short-term political agenda, which is to give their wealthy friends a tax gift.

What happens when we cut holes and cracks in our communities? What happens is this: Communities that have been very successful, communities that have generated social solidarity, communities that have been productive collectively since the end of the Second World War and which have allowed all of us to be more productive individually start to crack and crumble. When that starts to happen, our capacity to be productive, our capacity to have that social cohesion, that social stability we will especially need as we enter the 21st-century economy, we start to lose.

I would say in a very general sense that to have a productive population, you have to have a healthy population. That is something we can be very proud of, something we have achieved especially in the last 50 years: very good general rates of health and healthful living in this province. A healthy population, a healthy workforce has been a productive workforce. But this government is even prepared to cut holes and cracks in that in order to satisfy their short-term political agenda. Again, that short-term political agenda is to give a large tax gift to people in this province who are already very wealthy.

We are opposed to this. For all kinds of reasons we are opposed to this. For all kinds of reasons we believe this is exactly the wrong way to go, that this is quite counterproductive, that making people who are already very wealthy even wealthier gets us nowhere in the long run, contributes nothing in a positive way to Ontario in the long run. What we're seeing is Robin Hood in reverse: taking from communities, taking from ordinary families, taking from people who are already not well off in order to give to those who are very well off. This is quite counterproductive.


We're quite opposed to this, but what's more, we know this is not going to work. We know, for example, that the megacity bill, Bill 103, and the attendant downloading, $531 million within the boundaries of Toronto alone, is not going to work; that it is not going to create a situation which will make Toronto a strong city, which will make Toronto the kind of urban environment where people want to continue to invest, where people want to continue to work, where people want to continue to live. In fact, Bill 103 is going to create quite an unworkable scenario.

I want to say to the government here and now that you will be the government for a very short time. You will not be around for a long time. You will be the government for a short time. With some good fortune and hard work, we will become the government of this province again. When we do that, we will revoke Bill 103, we will do away with Bill 103, and we will sit down and do the work that really needs to be done in terms of the problem of urban governance in the greater Toronto area, in terms of the problems of urban sprawl, in terms of the problems of economic coordination. We will create again urban structures that work for people, local urban government structures that work for people, that allow people to engage in a debate and dialogue with government, urban government structures that provide for responsible government and for responsive government.

What you're doing here, this huge project in social engineering in terms of Bill 103 and the downloading, is not going to work. I say to people in the greater Toronto area and all across this province that we recognize it is not going to work. We recognize there will be a lot of work needed to correct and improve the ugly situation that this Conservative government is going to leave behind, and we are prepared to do that.

But I would say to this government, as we enter into the next three days in this House, that it is still not too late to admit that you have taken a wrong turn; it is still not too late for you to recognize that your unworkable strategy, that your move away from responsible government, your move away from responsive, local government, is not going to work. It is not too late for you to recognize that.

I would say, as this debate unfolds here today, that I hope the government will listen. I hope the government, before it makes further errors, before it makes further mistakes in the furtherance of the mistakes it has already made, will finally listen to people, will finally acknowledge that 76% of the people in Toronto are not wrong when they vote against the megacity; that mayors and reeves and councillors across this province are not wrong when they oppose the downloading; that boards of education and people who care about education across this province are not wrong when they oppose the massive centralization of education that is happening under this government and this government's plans to massively reduce educational finance in this province.

People are not wrong to do that. People are going to continue to do that. People are going to continue to oppose this government's agenda. That opposition is going to build, and we're going to be with all those people who are opposed to this very destructive agenda. I only say to the government that it is not too late to listen, it is not too late to listen to the people of this province, it is not too late to change. I look forward to the rest of the debate.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise today and be the leadoff speaker for the government side on opposition day number 4, presented by the NDP, the third party.

Bill 104 is clearly one of the key issues of this legislative session, and with good reason. Bill 104 focuses on fewer school boards, fewer trustees, recognizes the four constitutional groups, deals with the division of assets and liabilities, increases the role of parents and deals with the transition process, through the EIC. Bill 104 does not deal with teachers or curriculum issues.

As I am sure members are aware, the provisions of this bill are part of a wider program of education reform aimed at increasing quality and raising standards. People have acknowledged that there must be change, but say perhaps on occasion we are moving too quickly.

I want to bring to your attention a couple of articles written by some respected educators. One is an article by the director of education in the Durham Board of Education, a man whom I have a great deal of respect for, Grant Yeo. In an article entitled "Change Process Must Be Inclusive" in Education Today, published December 1996, just a few remarks from this article to lead to the idea, the concept, that change is inevitable really:

"The past few years, which have been characterized by rapid change, have seen the evolution of conflicting views regarding Canadians' expectations of schools. People have expressed dissatisfaction with achievement, learning outcomes and the instructional practices used in today's classrooms. Taxpayers without children in schools have questioned the costs of education. The costs and level of achievement are being linked to `global competitiveness.' Various groups of parents, taxpayers and the business community have their own views of the problems with the system and have proposed their own solutions. Educators are faced with wide-ranging reforms without a clear consensus or definition of the role of education during a period of downsizing and constraint." He goes on to explain that we must work together for the changes that are inevitable in education.

For the viewer today I'll just read on to rationalize or justify the need for change. It's important that we recognize that this isn't a new phenomenon. I'm going to give a couple of quotes here to the viewer to understand the context of the changes.

"I am concerned about the appearance of a system that is over-bureaucratized and still has not as much accountability as we want it to have. The financing issues must obviously be addressed, but in the context of making the system more efficient as well as fair." This is a letter to the Minister of Education -- at the time, Tony Silipo -- October 15, 1991, and it was from the Premier of the day, Bob Rae. So there again, he's acknowledging that we must address the financing system and the fairness of the system.

To conclude my reference points today: "In Canada, we spend per capita more than most other places in the world. I think it's a question of focus and a question of how we can get the system to do its job." This again was from Bob Rae, in the Ottawa Citizen, February 6, 1992.

So it's clear from those people who are respected by various political views that change was something we were looking for and that is required.

Our education reforms are based on extensive consultations with the people of this province over the past years. It has involved 24 separate reviews of finance and governance in the past six decades. It includes two royal commissions, 10 other commissions and committees, two fact-finding reports, two panels and thousands and thousands of meetings. The problem, I pose to you today, has been not haste but rather a lack of action.

Many of these commissions and task forces have been concerned with the issue of using property tax to pay for education. This issue, I can assure you, is not new. When I was first elected as a school trustee in 1982, that was the issue: the fair funding of equity in education. In fact, it was in that context that the separate school system was funded by the then Premier, Bill Davis, a controversy that still outrages many people today.

Many circumstances have changed over the years, and property tax in education was the focus of a government review as far back as 1935; in 1950, the Royal Commission on Education chaired by Supreme Court Justice John Hope; again in 1985, the Macdonald Commission; as well as the Fair Tax Commission in 1993.


Our government proposes to act through Bill 104 to make the needed improvements to our system of funding education and allocation of responsibilities for education governance. For example, one important issue addressed by Bill 104 concerns the French-language school boards. With passage of this bill, many Ontario francophones would for the first time be able to exercise the right to govern their own school boards. The same recommendation was made back in 1968 by the Committee on French Language Schools in Ontario and again in 1991 by the report of the French Language Education Governance Advisory Group. This government, unlike those of the past, is prepared to take action, to take the bold step to meet the outstanding, long-standing concerns of the Ontario francophone community.

Finally, in the past five years alone, I bring to members' attention, we have had the disentanglement report, the Fair Tax Commission, the Royal Commission on Learning, the Ontario School Board Reduction Task Force -- the Sweeney report -- and the Crombie Who Does What panel all supporting major change to education finance to create a fair funding model for every student in Ontario. Who could disagree with the findings of those reports from almost every party? The difference is that this government is prepared to act.

Our proposed reforms in Bill 104 address people's concern that the education system is not delivering the quality of education that our students need today. It also responds to their concerns that school board spending is not accountable and that residential property taxpayers, many of whom are seniors on a fixed income, can no longer bear the year-over-year tax increases they have come to expect. Often some school boards act with little, if any, accountability and some disregard for the taxpayer.

The government of Ontario is building a quality education system which has several important principles, including focusing resources on the individual student and teacher in the classroom. We promised it during the election; we're delivering it now. It's the student in the classroom. By developing a rigorous and relevant province-wide curriculum for testing, Bill 104 sets the framework for improvement to the education system by allowing us to focus on the needs of our Ontario students so that funding is no longer the burden of individual communities and the taxpayer.

Bill 104 is the first step to a broader context of education reform that this government envisions. Bill 104 is a vital component that will support the process of change and help us achieve our goal of higher-quality education, affordable and accountable to all taxpayers, and most importantly the students of Ontario.

This will include, I might add, provisions for the Ontario government to fund the cost of assisting students in special circumstances such as students learning English for the first time in a classroom, new Canadians; students with special needs, special education; and students in remote communities or students in inner-city communities. The process of change would also lead to a system where education is funded fairly so all students in Ontario have equal opportunity and there is full accountability to students, parents and the taxpayers of Ontario.

We see an education framework which focuses resources where they belong: on the individual student, the teacher and the classroom. The Ontario government is taking the first step to ensure that education funding supports a high-quality system meeting all students' needs regardless of where they live. There will be no second-class students in Ontario. We heard our minister repeat that expression today and that's his commitment and pledge.

I want to urge all my colleagues to pass Bill 104 so that we will begin the task of introducing a new funding model which will allow us to focus on students' needs and end any unnecessary spending on administration and ensure that every dollar goes to the students' needs. Funding education fairly will ensure that all students in Ontario will have equal opportunity and at the same time that public money is invested and used wisely.

As a context for the need to reform and to address our students' needs, I would refer members to this week's edition of the Economist, to an article entitled "Education and the Wealth of Nations." This article goes on to explain the class size and funding model and the impact on outcomes. It questions many of the long-held concepts that the more you spend, the better the marks.

We also need to have a framework in place to allow us to focus on building and measuring a quality education system -- our students deserve no less -- a system that focuses resources on individual student and teacher in the classroom, a commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution and repeated here again today. It develops a rigorous and relevant province-wide testing curriculum, sets standards that will challenge students to excel and ensures accountability to students, parents and taxpayers. Bill 104 is a vital component and will support this process of change and will help us to achieve our goal of high-quality education for all students of Ontario.

I participated in the public meetings on Bill 104. We heard from over 300 parents, teachers, organizations, boards of education, small business people and, most importantly, students. There were views expressed from all sides of the issue, no doubt, as there always are. But I might add that the Ontario Parent Council and the students of Ontario spoke and repeated in their presentations support for most parts of this bill. I can assure you that the government members listened to all input to the standing committee on social development. We all know that there have been significant amendments brought forward.

It would be important for me to outline a number of the amendments that have been discussed by the committee. Outsourcing, section 335(3)(f), is a very important aspect of the bill. The amendment now has changed the wording from being more active to "consider, where appropriate," the outsourcing concept.

I might add I have a resolution that will be debated this Thursday morning and I'm looking for support from all sides. That also looks at not that outsourcing of non-instructional things shouldn't happen; it should be considered, but it doesn't necessarily have to happen. We should know what it costs us to teach and to clean and maintain our schools.

There are amendments, but I think the most important one from hearing the public input was to the Education Improvement Commission. There was some suspicion that it was beyond the grasp of the courts. In fact, section 344 was rescinded. I just want to assure members that there have been significant amendments to the EIC and other aspects of the bill.

In conclusion, I support Bill 104 as a government member and as a parent of five children. I urge all members of this House today to look ahead to a new future. You have heard and learned from the third party. They're clinging to the ways of the past. Tax and spend, that's their legacy. Our plan offers a vision and hope for the future and our children.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): The member for Durham East referred to the Economist. I ask him to look at another issue of the Economist earlier this year, when they were doing a profile of the Premier of this province, Mike Harris. In this profile of Premier Harris, examining what the Premier has done to Ontario and Metro Toronto, they referred to the Premier as "Bomber Harris." I think the Economist has a pretty good feel for what this government and this Premier have done to Ontario and to Metro. It's bombing the most productive, most competitive city in Ontario, maybe in Canada.

Bills 104 and 103 are instruments that the Premier is using to destroy and dismantle very successful education systems and municipal governments in Metro. This Premier says, like his minister, they don't give a darn what the people have said or are saying, whether it be at the hearings -- on Bill 103 hundreds of people told the Premier to withdraw the bill. What does the Premier do? He still rams it ahead. Cosmetic changes: He withdraws things that the courts told him to withdraw, like the illegal transition team and the illegal trusteeship. That's the change he made. Then what does he do? He sets up these counterfeit councils that have no budgets, no staff. They're nothing. That's what he calls amendments that are listening amendments.

The Premier doesn't fool anybody in Metro Toronto. The 400,000 people who emphatically said no to his megacity madness will not be fooled, as they won't be fooled by Bill 104. The people of Metro know that's a basic, unadulterated tax grab. They're trying to get hundreds of millions of dollars from the property taxpayers of Metro, take it out of Metro and put it into the provincial treasury to pay for that stupid tax cut.

You don't fool anybody. The people know what the Premier is up to. They know what the Minister of Education is up to. They don't quite know what the Minister of Municipal Affairs is up to, but at least they know they're doing damage that will last for decades to a very viable province and a city and a metropolitan region that has been the success story that everybody has certainly applauded over the years.

This is a Premier who ducks debates. Time and time again he was asked to go to debates about the megacity: no show. It's the no-show Premier. Peekaboo Premier we should call him maybe. He shows up when he thinks the handlers are correct and he can make an appearance. He wouldn't show up at the megacity debates. He ducks them. He won't confront people who have raised legitimate questions: How can you call this mega-government with 57 councillors local government? He's created a monster government that's going to be so bureaucratic that it will take weeks and weeks to debate one item. This is not local government. He's destroyed local government in Metro Toronto. He's dismantled it. He thinks he can fool people.

Just like education: The parents and the students of Metropolitan Toronto know you're trying to take money out of classrooms. They know you're trying to destroy public education. Nobody is fooled by it. So all the rhetoric, all the spin-doctoring, all the mega-media that support these crazy initiatives don't fool ordinary people, because at all those public meetings in churches and schools across Metro, time and time again they told you they don't want your megacity. They told you they don't want your big, bureaucratic, expensive government. Yet you say, "We're going to do it anyway."

Four hundred thousand people, almost 80% of the voters in Metropolitan Toronto, on an unprecedented, historic day on March 3, emphatically said, "Mr Premier, take your megacity and shove it." That's what they said. What does the Premier do? He says: "I don't really think you knew what you were voting on. Only I can interpret what you voted on. We're going to give it to you anyway."

Like I said before, no matter how you dress up this megacity pig, it's still a pig, and this pig won't fly. Even though you'll be able to ram this bill through, as you think you will, people will not forget what you've done. These are 400,000 taxpayers, 400,000 citizens who will not forget that despite their legitimate pleas for you to listen, you just laughed and went on and said, "We're going to do it anyway and we're going to get away with it." They still think that people will forget. They still think that people aren't serious about the fact they went to all these meetings. They still think, with the wonderful submissions we had in the hearings on Bill 103, that those people can be fooled.

If you look at the calibre of people who made deputations on Bill 103, there are not too many of them who are fooled by dressing up this megacity pig with your counterfeit councils. They aren't going to buy it, Mr Premier. You should stop ducking, you should stop obfuscating, you should stop window-dressing and do what the people have said. They don't want your big 57-member megacity council that is going to be run by party politics. We know you're going to run a slate of Conservatives to take over the megacity so you can have a partner in megacity with your mega-mayor and your megaschool board.

I know my colleague from Thunder Bay is going to talk about it. Can you imagine in Toronto a 300,000-student school board, centralized control that would even make Joe Stalin turn over in his grave? This is going back to things that failed in Moscow. We're going to have a school board of 300,000, a mega-government with a budget of over $6 billion here in Metro. It's not going to do it.

Even though, as I said, Bill 104 and Bill 103 may be jammed through, and the snickering on the other side may continue as they try and jam these bills through this week, the people of Metropolitan Toronto will not forget it. Those citizens will fight you. They will oppose you. They will resist it. No matter how much money you spend on television propaganda, no matter how much the mega-media support you, the people of Metropolitan Toronto will not let you forget it, Mr Premier, because the buck stops at your door. This is your harebrained scheme to destroy what has worked well. This is a power grab that destroys things that have worked well for children in the schools and worked well for citizens in our city.

Just remember that, wherever you are, Mr Peekaboo Premier. People will not let you forget this and they will not forget what you've done to their very homes and their communities and their schools and what counts. Just remember that, members opposite. All of you are just as compliant in what the Premier has done. Don't try and say you were just following orders. You are part of the dismantling. You are as guilty as the Premier and his henchmen and his backroom frat boys of destroying our schools, our cities and our communities.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I am glad to have a chance to speak to this opposition day motion, which obviously, among other things, touches on a couple of important bills, Bills 103 and 104, and to say how clearly we are opposed in the New Democratic Party caucus to the agenda of the Mike Harris government. We are opposed because it has as its basis a fundamental shift in the power and in the wealth in this province.

We know that underlying every significant action of this government is that very clear philosophical bent to ensure that those who are already well off in this province will become more well off and those who are already pretty powerful in this province will become even more powerful. The way that is happening is by taking services, powers and rights from the average citizen in this province. We are seeing it in spades in the activities of this government in the last few months. We certainly see it in Bill 103, in the creation of one megacity in Metropolitan Toronto. We certainly see it in Bill 104, with the creation of enormous school boards not just here in Metropolitan Toronto but across the province, with the reduction of services, with the reduction of control the average citizen will have over those local institutions. We are seeing it in the cuts to our health care system. We are seeing it in spades everywhere we look.

The reason this government is doing this is fundamentally so it can pay for the tax cut, which we know is going to benefit those who are already the richest among our society. I know it irritates the members opposite when we remind them of that. I know it irritates the backbenchers particularly when we remind them that they are being compliant in this scheme that Mike Harris and company have cooked up, but that's what's happening.

We are seeing on the education front people now having to resort to actions like we are seeing today, where a number of support workers are occupying the office of the Minister of Education. Actions like that are indeed all that is left for people to express their outrage at what this government is doing. Those individuals are clearly expressing their sense of frustration and outrage at what is going to happen through Bill 104, particularly with the contracting out of services that now are being provided within the school system.

We know there has been no study done by this government on what the impact of these changes will be. We know there has been no assessment of what is going to happen when you take $1 billion out of the education system, which is the main reason the Minister of Education and the Premier of this province want to have total control over the education spending and over the way in which the tax assessments are set out across the province. That's why they're shifting the costs of education from the property tax base on to the provincial base. It's not because they believe in a fairer way to fund education. If they wanted to do that, they wouldn't shift back to the property tax base an even greater load through the social service and long-term-care costs and other costs they're pushing back down on to the property tax base. That's what is happening, and I certainly have seen it most closely as I have been following the discussions and the debate on Bill 103.


Let me say that it is not just the downloading, it is not just the individual pieces of that bill that are so offensive. The minister today stood up and said, "We have made a change here, we have made a change there." It shows me they have not listened, have not heard at all what people said in the referendum here in Metropolitan Toronto when they said no to the megacity.

Yes, the people were saying no to the download; absolutely they were. Yes, they were saying no to the draconian powers being given to an unelected trio of trustees over the elected councils of Metropolitan Toronto. Yes, they were saying no to having a transition team that would be charged with the responsibility for governing at the local level for the next year or year and a half. But they were also saying no fundamentally to the process, to the way in which this government wants to continue to ram through this legislation, and they were very clearly saying no to the concept itself of having one megacity, one large city in Metropolitan Toronto that encompasses 2.3 million people, and it will grow. You can't have a decent level of local accountability and interaction between the elected officials and the citizens when you have a council that is responsible for such a large city.

We have suggested a way in which the government could have dealt with this and still can deal with the important need to restructure the delivery of services and the governance that goes with that as it applies to this large area known as the greater Toronto area; an area, I might remind people, that encompasses about 40% of the province's population, not to mention a great deal of the economic activity of not just the province but indeed the country.

What we have said is that the way out of this morass, the way out of this mess they have caused is to stop and do what should have been done, to do what the two previous major studies on this issue have said, which is first and foremost to restructure the governance at the regional level, to acknowledge in the governance structure what everyone already knows and acknowledges; that is, that the economic entity today is no longer Metropolitan Toronto, is no longer York region, is no longer Peel region or any of the other two regional municipalities but is indeed the whole of the greater Toronto area.

What you need is in effect to move from the present five different regional governments to one regional government that encompasses and has responsibility not only for the coordination of services but indeed for the governance of some of those services, such as public transit, such as economic development.

That's what should be done, not the pitiful attempt being made by this government to layer on top of the two existing layers of government in the GTA, in the 905 area, a third level, the Greater Toronto Services Board, and pretend that somehow they're giving us less government when they're adding a layer of government in the 905 area. They pretend they're doing this because people want it. People in Metropolitan Toronto say to them, "We don't want this," but they persist in making decisions like this.

We have said therefore that what you need to do, just like Crombie and Golden recommended, is to deal first and foremost with the issue of governance at the regional level; then second, within that, to look at what the new cities, the new local municipalities within that greater Toronto area should look like.

We have said time and again that we are not here defending the status quo. We are not suggesting that there should not be changes from the present number of municipalities and indeed the structure of those municipalities. In fact, we believe there should be changes, but that discussion needs to be done in a way that involves the citizens not just within Metropolitan Toronto but indeed in all of the greater Toronto area.

I find it really interesting that we have the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs quoted as he was on Sunday, March 23, in an edition of the Era Banner, a newspaper just to the north of us here, in which, in speaking to an audience of people in the 905 area, he assured them the Tories have no intention of imposing megacities outside Metro Toronto. "We want homegrown solutions," he said.

That's good, but we want homegrown solutions everywhere in the GTA, I say to my colleague across. There is no sense in applying one approach to the 905 area and another approach to inside Metropolitan Toronto. There is absolutely no sense in saying that democracy applies in one part of the province but it doesn't apply in another part of the province.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): It does if you're a Tory.

Mr Silipo: I guess it does if you're a Tory. Maybe that's really the only logic there is to all this madness.

One of the amazing things that has happened, and I think we can thank Mike Harris for this, is that people are actually understanding what is going on. People showed that understanding not just through the hearings on Bills 103 and 104 but during the referendum process here in Metropolitan Toronto, and people are not going to go away. Something has started across this province that is not going to go away, because as people understand the agenda of the Mike Harris government, they will be there. Whatever bills you pass, they will be there to ensure that you are no longer here to carry on this insanity come the next election.

We will, as my leader has said, commit to revoking this insanity, particularly in terms of Bill 103, and to doing what needs to be done, which is to ensure that there is real restructuring, that there is real planning that involves the citizens of this province on issues of civic governance, on issues of school governance and, most importantly, in ensuring that the basic services of health care, education and social services go along with a sense of accountability at the local level that takes into account a relationship that makes sense between the electors and their elected councils. That's the approach we will take.

Let me just say in conclusion that we will continue this week, beyond this opposition day motion today, as the government continues to try to ram through Bills 103 and 104, to use every conceivable measure that is available within the rules of this legislative process to stop and stall what the government is doing, because it's fundamentally wrong; we know that. Most importantly, the people of the province of Ontario are understanding more and more that what they're doing is fundamentally wrong.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It's my pleasure today to rise as the member for Scarborough Centre to take part in the debate on opposition day motion number 4. This motion is nothing more than an acknowledgement on the part of the leader of the third party, the NDP, that they failed to address during their five years in office the very real concerns of tax reform, municipal restructuring, education governance reform, education funding and hospital and health care restructuring. It's an omnibus motion that deals with Bill 103, Bill 104, Who Does What, tax reforms and the public hearing process. Someone told me they saw a draft copy of this motion that had a "whereas" clause that said, "Whereas the sky is falling," but I wouldn't believe that would be in the final copy.

The leader of the third party told us today about his party forming the next government, but before he goes and selects a cabinet and a new office and a few hundred people for his office, he ought to be reminded about the NDP's legacy of the deficit and the debt.

We look at the years from 1990-91 when the deficit was $3 billion in this province and they borrowed $3 billion. In 1991-92 the deficit climbed to $10.9 billion and they borrowed $10.8 billion. The next fiscal year, 1992-93, the deficit was $12.4 billion, a staggering amount of money, and $15.5 billion needed to be borrowed to finance that deficit. In the fiscal year 1993-94 the deficit was $9.4 billion and $11.6 billion had to be borrowed. In 1994-95 the deficit was $8.3 billion and $10.1 billion was borrowed.

Before he goes and selects a cabinet, I think he ought to remember those high deficit and debt figures, because quite truthfully, the people of Ontario have not forgotten that.

He also speaks in his motion about education and listening to parents and educators. Quite frankly, I'm shocked, surprised and disappointed that he didn't include students in that, because as legislators in all parties it's our duty to listen to parents, educators and most importantly students, because the students, after all, are the future of our province and of our country. I believe those students must be listened to. I not only support Bill 104 as an MPP, but like the member for Durham East, I support it as a parent.

In terms of health care restructuring, what I'm proud about in our government's health care restructuring is that it puts the patient first. It doesn't put bricks or mortar first, it doesn't put administration or wasted duplication first, it puts the patient first. That's something I'm quite proud of. In the Common Sense Revolution we made a commitment to funding health care in this province at $17.4 billion, but in the fiscal year that ended just yesterday, the budgeted figure for health care was $17.7 billion.

That, I might bring to your attention, is $700 million more than the provincial Liberals would have spent on health care according to their infamous red book. I need to remind everyone once again that the only government that's cutting health care in the province of Ontario is the federal Liberal government of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.

The leader of the third party today spoke about nurses and health care workers being displaced. I'd like to read a quote here from someone he may be familiar with, Carolyn Davies, a nurse practitioner from London. I think her name appeared on some NDP signs during an election.

She's quoted in the London Free Press of March 24, 1997, just last week: "Displaced nurses will have opportunities to enter a new kind of community-based health care system that will emerge out of the current restructuring and reform process. I know a lot of people are worried, but this could be the most exciting time ever for nurses, because we have an opportunity to shape that reform." That's quite a startling comment from Carolyn Davies, the former NDP candidate.

The Sudbury Star, March 23, 1997, also last week:

"After all, part of the restructuring plan calls for funding increases for community-based care and many of these displaced hospital workers will find employment in such operations. As well, many of the job cuts will be as a result of attrition.

"But what is lost in all these events is that the current system is unworkable. There's a sizeable number of beds within the hospital system that lay vacant either because there's no funding or need for them. The amount of duplication in the current system does little to enhance the level of health care enjoyed by Sudburians, but it does limit the funds available to other segments of the health care system."

So it's not only government members who are saying this.

In terms of other health care reinvestments, $83 million has been spent for hospital services benefiting more than 30,000 patients. That includes $35 million for cardiac care, benefiting 11,700 patients with heart disease. Some 3,600 more patients will continue to receive mental health services with an additional reinvestment of $18 million; 250 more patients will receive treatment with $11 million being reinvested in dialysis services and kidney transplants; 13,700 cancer patients will benefit from a reinvestment of $8 million; 80 more patients will benefit from a $5-million reinvestment in transplants; 200 more patients will receive life-saving trauma services through a $3-million reinvestment; 1,200 more patients will receive hip or knee replacements through a $3-million reinvestment.

The reinvestments continue: $25.1 million for community-based, long-term services; home care and services for people with physical disabilities benefiting more than 15,000 patients in Metropolitan Toronto; $2.9 million to expand community-based mental health services across Toronto and Peel region; $29.1 million to build new long-term-care facilities and expand community health centres in Metro Toronto and York region; $1.8 million to expand community-based mental services through Hamilton-Wentworth, Halton and Brant regions; and $18.9 million for the new and expanded Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, which will treat 2,500 patients.

I'm curious how the member for Windsor-Sandwich feels about that reinvestment. I haven't heard her talking about that today, as she usually speaks about health care.

The motion also talks about the public hearing process and public consultation. Well, the leader of the third party should talk. It's the NDP that brought in changes to the standing orders to bring about the ability for governments to bring in time allocation motions, and the reason they brought that in is that they chose to bring in time allocation 23 times during their five years in office.

In fact, he has no credibility in lecturing us on the public consultation process when on Bill 48 in 1993, better known as the social contract, there were no public hearings and no public consultation; they simply rammed it through the Legislature. The people of Ontario never forgot that.

As I am sure you know, I will not be supporting this motion. Had the motion actually said that the NDP had failed to act on tax reform, municipal restructuring, education governance reform, education funding and hospital and health care restructuring, I could have supported it. They had five years to correct all these problems. They seem to have all the answers today. I wonder why they didn't have the answers during their five years in office. Perhaps they were too busy taxing and spending the hard-working people of Ontario's tax dollars.

I know the leader of the third party finds it difficult to believe that revenues actually increase when taxes are cut, but it's true, they do. Not only do revenues rise, but so do the number of people working in this province. That's what has happened in Ontario since June 8, 1995, when we formed the government: Taxes have been cut, revenues have increased and jobs have increased in this province, and that's something I am quite proud of.

Just as I know that the leader of the third party has difficulty believing that tax cuts equal jobs and that the sky is not falling, I'd like to take this opportunity to inform the leader of the third party that the Earth is not flat.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I want to speak in support of the motion. In particular, I want to speak to the statement, "Whereas the Harris Conservative government is taking control of schools away from elected...school board members so that it can cut education funding to fund its tax cut scheme," and to the statement that this government is spending millions of dollars on slick advertising campaigns intended to attempt to shore up support for the government rather than seeking real input for its proposals, and I most strongly want to support the call for the government to withdraw both Bill 103 and Bill 104 and to make a new start on reforming municipal and educational governance in Ontario.

I want to first of all ask, though, as presenter after presenter asked when they came before the legislative committee on Bill 104, the bill on school board amalgamations, what's the rush to bring this all about? The changes proposed in Bill 104 are sweeping changes in education governance. They take time to implement properly. Everybody who presented at the committee understood that.

The answer from the government to, "What's the rush?" was that they are in a hurry to get on and save the money they expect to save with amalgamation of school boards. That answer was a little hard to understand, even though it came from the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Education. It was hard to understand because we know that the minister's own study of what they expect to save with this massive amalgamation says it will be about $150 million, which is less than 1% of the education budget and is barely a tiny contribution to the money the government needs to fund the tax cut.

The fact is that we know that what this government really wants is a lot more than $150 million. They want at least $1 billion, and it seems they may want even more than that, that they may feel they can take $1.5 billion out of education.

This is not going to come from Bill 104. Those kinds of savings cannot be realized through school board amalgamation. In fact, every study in every jurisdiction, including every study that's been done in Ontario on school board amalgamation has said amalgamation will not save money. The government's own consultants have in fact said that amalgamation may cost more. But the government doesn't want to pay attention to those realities. It wants to get on with its massive amalgamation. It wants to try and claim there will be savings, that the money will go back into the classroom. Not a chance, because even the $150 million the minister says he may be able to save with amalgamation is going to be achieved by taking money directly out of the classroom, whether it is for school supplies and equipment or education support personnel or even the busing of students.


There is no question that what this bill is all about is taking control by government: first taking control of education governance, making school boards totally ineffective, and then taking over education funding. When the government has total control it will be easier for this government to make the cuts and find the $1 billion-plus they need for their tax cut.

The problem, of course, is that the whole scheme is wrong. It's wrong-headed and it wasn't thought through from the very beginning. I wonder if this government really thought the municipalities wouldn't figure out that they were getting a lot more dumped on them than the government was picking up in education. I suppose no one cared to think about the human and the social consequences of offloading welfare and long-term care and public health and ambulances and social housing and child care on to the municipal tax base. Clearly the Harris government didn't care and didn't hesitate to abandon any responsibility for maintaining some kind of equity in any of these social areas.

But the government does, strangely enough, want to talk about equity in education. The government wants to claim that is why it is instituting these massive changes, why it's taking over education funding. But the real agenda of this government is not about equitable funding. The real agenda of this government is about cost-cutting. It is about finding the $1 billion that John Snobelen, the Minister of Education, boasted he could find and that the Premier said last November he needed for his tax cut.

I suggest there are two reasons at least some portion of the cost of education should be left on the property tax base. One is to allow some local flexibility, some local accountability, and to preserve local governance and local decision-making in education. I strongly argue that keeping some portion of education costs on the property tax base does not stop any government from ensuring that there is equitable funding provided through its grant system if that is really the government's concern. The second reason for keeping education on the property tax base is quite simply that removing it entirely is unaffordable, and we have seen the price in offloading to be paid for that.

I strongly argue as well that the idea of having municipalities pick up the cost of school construction, maintenance of our schools, secretarial services and busing is not the solution to the mess the Conservatives have already created. This so-called solution would be disastrous for students in our schools and disastrous for the school communities. We heard this repeatedly in our hearings. We heard it most particularly from parents who spoke to our committee, who write to us, who say that every member of the school staff is an integral part of the school community and the essential support their children need.

The solution, incidentally, would also leave the municipalities with huge financial pressures, particularly with some $2 billion in unmet maintenance needs in public schools alone, not to mention the need for new schools in those growing suburban areas, the very 905 belt this government is so anxious to keep happy.

The government would like people to believe that everything will be fine and the changes that are coming will be positive ones. They are indeed, as the resolution says, spending millions of dollars on television ads to spin that kind of message. I don't think people are any more easily fooled than the municipalities were. The vast majority of the people who raised their concerns at the committee hearings on Bill 104, and that included representations from literally hundreds of parent organizations, said they were worried about what this government is planning to do. They see only one piece of a puzzle and they don't know what else the government is hiding.

It may be that the government doesn't know what it's going to do next either, but that doesn't stop it from ramming its legislation through just as it did a little better than a year ago with its bully Bill 26. Then they will turn the whole thing over to a non-elected, non-accountable commission to figure out what to do next now that they've got their bill passed, and that's just exactly what they did a year ago in turning hospital closures over to the Health Services Restructuring Commission. We've seen the damage that is being done to health care as that arm's-length, non-accountable, non-elected commission rampages across Ontario.

I want to take a moment to tell you what feelings parents have been expressing about Bill 104. These are phrases, words, concerns that have come from particular parent councils: "fear"; "anxiety"; "worry"; "anger"; "demeaned"; "overwhelmed"; "betrayed"; "frustrated"; "concerned"; "horrified"; "rushed"; "left in the dark while major decisions are made"; "money being spent with no input"; "lack of direction"; "Boards don't seem to know any more than parents"; "What have we done electing this government?"; "We don't know where we live any more"; "Government handling of the megacity scares me"; "It feels like no one is listening"; "We are not against change"; "Do it in an orderly manner"; "We are the consumers of this service. We need to be consulted, advised, educated, informed, shown the plans, know the rules and the strategies, see the big picture."

Those are the kinds of concerns that parents across this province have expressed as they look at this government's proposed changes to education, and those are exactly the concerns that this government is simply going to ignore.

There are a great many specific problems with Bill 104, and those I know will be debated when we have third reading on that bill. The proposals for the boards themselves are wrong because the boards are simply too huge, whether in terms of numbers of students -- the new Toronto mega-board will have twice as many students as the entire province of New Brunswick -- or too large geographically, as they certainly are in northern Ontario.

It's being done too fast. You can't implement these kinds of changes unless you take the time to do it properly. There are literally hundreds of contracts which have to be harmonized. Nobody has any idea how that is going to take place.

Parent councils are saying: "We don't want the strengthened role that this legislation talks about. We want to work with the involvement we have in our own schools."

The whole issue of outsourcing, we heard over and over again, is misdirected and disastrous for schools and for students; and of course the incredible powers being given to yet another non-elected, non-accountable commission to implement, to put some flesh on the bare bones of Bill 104 with no direct electoral accountability.

The government itself has no plan for implementing Bill 104. Since they're not going to take the time to get the changes right, without any question this bill will bring chaos into education just as Bill 26 brought chaos into health care.

I'm concerned that much else is being destroyed in this province along with our social programs. Our whole sense of democracy is being eroded by this cynical, bullying government that is ready to ride roughshod over democratic processes, over the views of the majority of citizens and ultimately over people themselves.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity today to stand in favour of the motion brought forward by our leader, Howard Hampton, from Rainy River.

We've never, in the province of Ontario, and I believe not in the country of Canada, had any government prior to this government that came into office vowing to reverse everything that was done by the governments that were in power between the last time Progressive Conservatives ran this province and when this government was elected. Frankly, the problem we have with the current government is that this ideological position that everything that has been done in this Legislature by any government other than a government under the label of Progressive Conservatives is wrong is the raison d'être of all the policies this government brings forward.

It's quite shocking that not only are they saying they want to undo everything that was done by the previous Liberal government or the previous NDP government, but they're going further and they are undoing many of the programs, many of the policies the Progressive Conservatives themselves brought forward in the past. They are flouting in a very real way the democratic processes that have been developed in this province on which we as citizens have depended in terms of our democratic rights to be sure that our government is guided by the wishes of the electorate.

This government says, time after time, "We consulted for two years before we were elected and that gives us a mandate to do whatever we want while we're in government," and it's quite clear that that's what this government is doing. In Bill 103 they are not listening to the people of Metropolitan Toronto who overwhelmingly rejected the so-called solution brought forward by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. They are not listening to the people of Ontario, whether they be parents or students or trustees or citizens at large, around Bill 104, around restructuring education. They have not listened.

They are not listening to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario when they protest very clearly the effect of a download on to the backs of property taxpayers, a tax that takes no account of the person's ability to pay. They are not paying any attention to the citizens of Ontario or to those professional experts who deliver health care in the province around the drastic effect that their way of restructuring hospitals and restructuring health care has. Oh, no. They know it all; they know everything.

They stand here day after day telling us and telling the people of Ontario that the effects of their policies are different than the people of Ontario are telling them they are. Day after day, minister after minister stands up and gives us some kind of doubletalk about how black is really white and white is really black, when the people of Ontario know very well that is not the case as it affects them in their own communities.

As we have gone around the province with committees over the last while, we have heard in community after community the real effect of cuts to education, the real effect on students in the classroom, the real effect on the community at large, the real effect on the hope of our communities of training and educating people of all ages so that they may be productive and taxpaying citizens.

In Metropolitan Toronto, subjected to unprecedented attack by a government, a people within an area are attacked again and again by this government that knows that somehow the polls in their very fertile 905 belt give them some hope that by attacking Metropolitan Toronto they will maintain some support in those outlying areas. All we can say to the people in the 905 belt and elsewhere in Ontario is that what they do to Metropolitan Toronto they will do to you. This is the thin edge of the wedge.

This is a government that in its policies said it supported local government. The Premier is on record again and again as saying, "The best decisions are made at the local level." He talked a very fine line about how important the community is, but if we look at Bill 103, we see a blatant attack on communities, we see a blatant attack on democratic processes, we see a blatant attack on the chosen local governments of the electorate.

Similarly, in Bill 104 what do we see? This government knows better than anybody else. It knows better than all the elected trustees in this province. It knows better than all those who elected those trustees. It has an ideological position around "Less is better" that it is trying to foist upon communities, regardless of whether those communities have a community of interest.

This government tries to blame Bill 104 on the fact that our government commissioned a report around the size and the nature of school boards. They neglect at every step of the way to say that the recommendations of the Sweeney report are not the recommendations this government is putting forward, not at all. This government is putting forward school board boundaries which are very clearly geared to destroy communities of interest, very clearly geared to try and combine areas that have developed in very different ways in terms of their education system, in an effort to create so much confusion, in an effort to create so much chaos in the system, as was recommended by the Minister of Education in his famous speech to his bureaucrats, and that is what this bill does.

It creates a crisis so that this government can, through the Education Improvement Commission, pull some of those much-needed billions of dollars that it needs to finance its tax cut, simple as that, and this government has the nerve to say they were elected on a platform that included this when in fact the opposite is true. In both these instances this government was elected by an electorate that expected them to support local government, whether that's school governance or municipal governance, and the people of Ontario are indeed, as my friend the member for Fort William said, feeling betrayed and feeling as though this government did the opposite of what it was supposed to do.

We talk about hospital restructuring and the health care system in this motion as well, and if the people of Ontario have been betrayed by this government in terms of school governance and in terms of municipal governance, they certainly know they've been betrayed in the area of health care. This is a government that pledged not one cent would come out of health care, and we will see when this government tables the actual expenditures for this year, because we know in the last weeks -- and some of the members on the opposite side have even had the nerve to repeat the propaganda campaign of the Minister of Health -- the Minister of Health has been running around this province reannouncing money that was already in the budget, that wasn't allocated until the last week or the last two weeks of the fiscal year, in an effort to try and convince people that this government is reinvesting in health care and that it is not taking money out of health care.

We have letters and examples and news stories from all over the province that should tell this government they can only fool some of the people so long, because people who need to act as health care professionals, who need to act as the health care system, are telling us that there are indeed cuts and that the quality of care is being undermined by the cuts that hospitals are sustaining and being undermined by the fact that the services to replace the services that have to be cut in hospitals have not even been announced.

The Minister of Health has not got huge pieces in place in terms of his health restructuring plan. The long-term-care plan is not in place; palliative care is not in place; chronic care is not in place; rehabilitative medicine is not in place. All of these pieces are missing, and yet this Minister of Health is proceeding to cut the funding to see services reduced to agree with formulae that are very suspect in the health restructuring committee, and he is indeed putting the health care of this province at risk.

I certainly support this motion. We all will be supporting this motion, because we believe this government has overstepped its bounds. It has not taken the care to move carefully and judiciously. It has flouted the democratic processes and it continues to bull its way through this process this week in an unprecedented display of arrogance.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'm pleased today to speak in opposition to the opposition day motion of Mr Hampton. While the motion seems to have trouble focusing on any specific issue, having participated in the recent hearings on Bill 104, I would like to focus on the issues around Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act.

This is the first legislative step towards long overdue reforms that will focus education dollars on the classroom. I think it's important to discuss Bill 104 within the context of our government's overall strategy of reform for Ontario's education system. Bill 104 is one part of a larger plan to restore a higher degree of accountability to our education system. In the past the lack of standards and testing for students in Ontario has made it nearly impossible to measure either the progress of our students or the instruction they receive. International test results suggest that student achievement levels in our system are below other Canadian provinces and below many systems in other countries.

Our government has made Ontario the first province in the country to introduce comprehensive testing through an independent body. Students are being tested at regular intervals in the critical areas of reading, writing and mathematics. The results will give parents and schools a clear picture of what students are being taught and how well they're learning according to an international universal standard. Other initiatives we're taking, including a new standardized curriculum and a standardized report card, will also enable parents and educators to better understand how their children and students are progressing.

Bill 104 is an important part of reform to increase the accountability in the education system. It will open the books of the school board so parents can see where the money is going. In past years, too much time and effort and too many resources have been diverted to items that are not directly related to our children's classroom education. We believe it's time to concentrate our resources and expertise in the classroom. I've had the privilege to participate in both 104 hearings across the province and also at public meetings in my own riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay, but most recently at Monck Public School in Bracebridge. I've had a chance to hear a wide variety of viewpoints.

I think it's important to comment, as a recently elected member, on the whole hearings process because it has been an eye-opener for me. Having been a trustee on a school board, I've had the opportunity to be present when members of the public come forward at school boards to make their views felt on education matters. But in the committee process I find there are many groups, both pro-government and anti-government, that come prepared with a script. They come to the committee meetings knowing exactly what they're going to say. They often have a position that is hardened, that they're not likely to sway on, and quite often there seems to be an ulterior motive behind their presentations.

So it is quite healthy and quite surprising when, sitting on the committee, you actually have people who come before you who are objective. While many of the presenters on Bill 104 were not objective and had positions either pro-government or anti-government, there were some people who came before the committee -- I think it's important for the public to be aware of this -- who were objective and who stated their views and did not apparently have a script from which they were reading.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Those who were objective, what did they say?

Mr Grimmett: The objective people had views on both sides. Some of them had views generally favourable to the bill, some of them seemed opposed to everything the bill was about, but one of the remarkable things I found with these people was a willingness to listen to the government's rationale and the general provisions in the bill, which are to reduce the administrative spending in public education and try to focus tax dollars best on the classroom, on the students, on the people who really should be the focus of public education in Ontario.

We heard from several trustees on public boards and we also heard from several teachers and ex-teachers who felt there was currently far too much focus on administration, far too much money in public education being spent on administration and that there were opportunities for savings.

I believe it myself and I have served as a trustee on a public board. I was elected for two terms and I certainly felt in my terms on the Muskoka Board of Education that there were areas where savings could be found in administration and there could be more focus on the classroom. What we're trying to do in Bill 104 is reduce the number of school boards, trying to reduce the amount of public resources going into the administration of school boards, and also to reduce not only the number of trustees but also the remuneration trustees receive. I feel there is strong public support in my riding for the notion of reducing administrative expenditures and focusing public education on getting better results in the classroom.

When we were on the hearings we heard from a number of interested parties who had suggestions on how we might amend the legislation, and I think it's important for the public to understand that we were listening to those suggestions and that we have brought in a number of amendments which were brought to our attention and which we felt merited some attention, particularly on the issue of outsourcing. We heard from numerous groups that they felt the paragraphs relating to outsourcing, the powers that the Education Improvement Commission had, were simply too predetermined, and they wanted the commission to be more objective in reviewing whether or not outsourcing was a good idea or not, and we changed the wording.

Reporting the 1997 board spending requirements: There were numerous boards that came before us and said they felt that the monthly reporting requirement set out in the legislation was too onerous for boards to comply with, that they would be sidetracked in their efforts and they would be spending all their time doing nothing but reporting to the commission. We changed the legislation. We brought in an amendment that said it would be up to the commission to set the time lines on reporting for boards.

We introduced legislation that clarified how disputes in the merger of boards would be dealt with. We removed the general provision against court review of the Education Improvement Commission and we added specifics on dispute resolution to clarify many of the issues that have been raised by people who spoke to our committee. We removed the retroactivity of financial control provisions from the Education Improvement Commission. We removed the retroactive approval of prohibited transactions.

We listened. We listened to people who were concerned about the need for native trustees on school authorities and we added a provision to the existing duties of the Education Improvement Commission to advise on native representation on boards and school authorities. We also listened when presenters from parent groups, from boards and from other interested parties indicated that they felt student representation on school boards was a good idea. We in fact supported an opposition amendment to allow the Education Improvement Commission to make regulation about student representation on district boards.

We are listening to the public. We're interested in the public's comments on Bill 104, and I think you're going to see, when Bill 104 comes before the House, that there will be significant amendments which will receive public approval.

In regard to the motion brought by the opposition, the government is committed to reforming the system to achieve the highest quality possible and restore its accountability to both students and parents, and for these reasons, I will not be supporting the resolution.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I'm pleased to speak on the motion brought by the leader of the third party. I think it addresses very succinctly the main points in Bill 103 and Bill 104.

As late as today the minister himself has been saying that, yes, he has been listening to the people and because he has been listening to the people they were able to make the suggested changes and amendments, because he has been listening very carefully. Let me say that if the minister indeed was listening very attentively for the four or five weeks of public hearings we had on both Bill 103 and Bill 104, he surely wouldn't have come up with those amendments.

If he had been honest with himself, with his own views on Bills 103 and 104, he would have said, "I can't support, not only the bill, but the amendments I'm being forced to present to the House." Evidently those amendments were not his amendments. He did say that he cannot support any changes to the bill, but he has to go along with it. He has to go along because those changes are being imposed on him, they are being imposed on this House and they are being imposed on the people of Ontario.

What did the people say really? They said two main things, and they said them with such clarity, with such a voice throughout Metro, not only in one particular area of Metropolitan Toronto but throughout Metro. Number one, they said no to the megacity as it is being proposed by the government. They said no. Number two, they said: "We want to be part of this process. We want to have a say in how you are going to change our governance here within Metro." They didn't say to bring in the changes that the minister has brought into the House today and the other day. Absolutely not.


If the minister was even listening for one day, let alone four or five weeks, or to the comments which would have been brought back by the members of the committee to the minister himself, the people had a real concern, because they said: "We want to be part of the system and not spectators. We just don't want to pay the bills; we want to be part of the exercise." They spoke about taxes. Let me tell you that every one of them spoke with passion and every one of them said, "Surely if we have to make some changes, we'd like to have some input and we'd like to have some time."

Do you think it's fair that today we are being allowed one hour of debate and the bill is about to be introduced by the government side to be approved on a bunch of amendments that absolutely make the bill even that much worse than when it was first introduced? I think if the minister wants to really do something good, really be truthful to his own feeling as he sees this bill, he should make the effort to say, "You know what? I can't support this. I'm not going to vote for it," and most of the backbenchers -- because I think the minister wants to get rid of this bill so bad that he can't stand it any more. He is so anxious to get it approved at any cost not because he likes it, not because he wants to, just because he's fed up with it, the pushing that he gets from the Premier and perhaps the other members of the cabinet, not because of his own will.

Throughout the hearings, the people have shown severe concern with the contents and with the process, and they have been saying through the hearings, through the committee, to the Premier and the minister, "Take your time and let's do it right, because what you're doing is not the right way and it's not what we want."

Of course, what do we have now? We have totally nothing new that was not being presented before, but there is a reason for it, and the reason is that the government needs so much money and they need it so quickly and so badly that they are willing to ram it through at any cost. They didn't listen to the mayors of the six municipalities. They didn't listen to the 80% throughout Metro who said, "We don't want it, not this way." We are saying to the government, give us some time so we can have some input and we can make those changes where they are needed, changes that we can accept, changes that can be acceptable to both the people and the government.

It's very unfortunate, because I can see my colleagues saying I have maybe another minute to go, that we have to rush on such an important thing, but I want to say this to the government members: The passage of Bill 104 and Bill 103 will make such fundamental changes both to the way we are governed here in Metro and in Ontario and to the education system that we are going to feel the consequences for many, many years to come.

Why is the government so bent to do this on the backs of the most needy, on the backs of our kids? One third -- I have to rush -- of the kids living in Metro live in poverty, some 89,000. Why are we putting this oppression on the seniors, on the most needy, on the sick?

I am pleased to have had the few minutes today. I'm pleased to support the motion by the leader of the third party and I hope the government seriously thinks about it before it votes on this particular bill.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): In our quest to be as accommodating as possible, we've once again allowed the NDP the opportunity to be in a position to address our final comments instead of following the normal rotation.

Let me just start off by saying that here we are, 20 months into our term, and I really must despair at the tone and tenor embodied in this motion. Once again we have one of the parties opposite taking another day, at the cost of $1,000 a minute to operate this chamber, and rather than dealing with the substantive issues, rather than doing the clause-by-clause, rather than doing the consideration of specific bills, rather than doing all the things they tar us for and suggest we're not doing, they're not paying enough attention to the issues. They would rather have the theatrics, they would rather have the less-than-substantive rhetoric that comes out in the course of an opposition day motion.

I think they take it quite literally, the word "opposition." Just like we have archaic terms such as the party "whip," who does not use an instrument by the same name to get us to do good things, the fact they're called the opposition does not necessarily mean all they should ever do is oppose. Surely to goodness they see the same issues before us out there in society. Surely they recognize that while Ontario is the greatest place in the world to live, there are challenges, issues that need to be addressed, that governments should act. But maybe we see in motions such as this the rationale, the insight into how our province fell $100 billion into debt by governments that chose not to act, that chose not to follow the right course but instead the politically expedient course, the course of not challenging the status quo, of not taking on issues head on.

I'm proud of the fact that we may be accused of a lot of things but we'll never be accused of inactivity. We were elected with a very solid platform, a solid series of commitments. We had consulted across this province for over four years before we prepared the Common Sense Revolution. We had met in town halls, we had formed our policy advisory councils, unpaid volunteers who came forward and, issue by issue, told us what the concerns were across this province.

We distilled all that down into the most comprehensive and specific series of campaign commitments in the history of this province, perhaps in the history of politics in Canada. Now we're acting on those commitments and the members opposite would want to vilify us for actually keeping promises, a radical concept perhaps in the context of the last 10 years, but something I and my colleagues feel very strongly should be a hallmark of all politics and all politicians. Integrity should be the cornerstone of this building.

In terms of the content of this motion, I think it's really quite unfortunate that they have chosen to quite deliberately exaggerate and misspeak certain issues surrounding some of the important legislative initiatives we've undertaken. For example, they're fully aware and were aware on the day this motion was tabled that many of the things they're vilifying us for in Bill 103 had already been addressed in the amendments we brought forward.

The suggestion is that we're not listening. The suggestion is that somehow we have not heard the mood of the people in this city when it comes to Bill 103, and across the province when it comes to bills like 104 and the need to realign health care spending. We have heard. In fact, we have built a very comprehensive checklist of what the 607 people said who took the time to make oral and written submissions to the legislative committee that was hearing Bill 103.

Their concerns basically fell into three categories. They felt there were certain clauses in the original bill, in the draft legislation after second reading, that in some way undermined democracy. We are seen to be intrusive in the affairs of municipal politicians. While we disagreed with that interpretation, none the less we acted and we have taken all of those clauses out.


They suggested that because the time frames weren't specific in there about the end of the mandate for the trustees and the transition that somehow there was the spectre that there was no need to even have municipal elections. Believe it or not, we had people who sat there and suggested that somehow the transition team would sit in perpetuity making appointed decisions for the 2.3 million people in Toronto. Obviously, that was never the intent of the bill, but that has been clarified as well.

There were a number of other concerns expressed about issues such as the fact that the decisions of the trustees and the transition team should be above frivolous court challenges. Well, we've even taken that out and we've taken out the issue's retroactivity. In short, we addressed every single specific suggestion that had been brought forward in the committee hearings and that I had heard and my colleagues had heard at the town hall meetings and face-to-face meetings with constituents across this great city.

They said they were concerned about the taxation impact. Well, we couldn't be more clear. First off, the speculation -- quite frankly, fed by opposition members -- that somehow this was a grab of the reserves that are sitting there in some of the municipalities is patently untrue. But we've clarified it to the point that now it is very specific that for those two cities currently in Metro Toronto that have a net surplus, those reserves will be kept in those areas for the benefit of the people who live in those former cities. The fact remains that the funds won't flow anywhere else and they certainly were never intended to flow to the provincial government. That was totally uncalled for in terms of the speculation from certain of the members opposite.

We heard one other concern, that somehow there would be an impact on the ability of elected municipal politicians to represent the concerns of their constituents. Once again, rhetoric got in the way of facts. They ignore the reality that in Mississauga right next door to us each of the 10 councillors not only represents 64,000 people but also serves on the regional government council. So they, in effect, wear their city and Metro hats.

Here the concern was that one politician couldn't represent 50,000. Personally, I think it was quite insulting to the calibre of people who run for office here in Metro Toronto to suggest that they couldn't do a job as well as people in Mississauga, as well as people in Calgary, as well as people in Vancouver, as well as people in many cities across this country who have to represent more than 50,000. But we even made accommodation there. As the members opposite knew full well, we have added another 20% -- over 20% in fact -- and have gone from 44 municipal politicians up to 56.

We did something else. We had a great number of people who expressed concerns about the future of their community. Many of those people quite correctly observed that the community really is not that artificial political administrative area that we had created at some point in the last 100 years. Communities were shaped by geography, they were shaped by common interests, they were far smaller subsets of the cities than anything we've ever respected with the kind of artificial boundaries that are in place today. I look at ridings such as mine where there are six very distinct communities. Obviously, those communities would continue to exist as is for decades to come. It had no relevance to the artificial political entity, whether it was sitting at Scarborough city hall or at a building somewhere else within Metro.

But having said that, there were some people who said that the community from their perspective was that artificial city, whether it was East York or Etobicoke or Scarborough, and we've even taken that into consideration and have suggested that at the outset the community councils will follow exactly the shape of the existing cities.

Even more to the point, again while they will disparage and malign the people who will stand for office this fall and suggest they don't have the skills and they don't have the capability to do the right thing after January 1, 1998, we believe that the new councillors will be able to make the distinction between those things where we expect common service delivery all across Metro, such as police and fire and ambulance, and those other things that are purely local, such as traffic issues and local planning issues. They will make the appropriate choice and they will assign to the community councils all those functions that should be deemed as being local, not for us to micromanage, not for us to intrude in the day-to-day affairs of the city after January 1, 1998. That is something that the newly elected municipal councillors should be doing.

I'm very proud of the fact that the amendments have addressed all of the substantive and constructive criticisms that were brought forward during the hearings. No, we haven't dealt with that other issue that, quite frankly, Mr Sewell and others would have you believe is really out there as the top-of-mind issue across Metro Toronto. The polling has shown consistently since the election that a core 30% of this city and the province don't agree with anything our government does. But 30% is smaller than 70%. I would submit that when 81.2% of the people in Scarborough don't even think it's important enough to mail a ballot in, to suggest that they don't have rights, to suggest that they are not making a statement is the height of condescension. It is the height of arrogance to suggest that somehow the 25% who voted no should overwhelm what we're hearing from the 75% who voted yes or who said: "It's not of any concern. I trust the government. I agree with the goal."

Bottom line, when you had the mayors themselves publish a report last November that said, "We believe by consolidating services you will save $240 million a year" -- and they went further; they said the time to do that is right now, without further delay. We sit here four months later and they haven't taken one step to save one cent of that $240 million.

The opposition would have us believe that somehow if these same mayors and councillors are entrusted to follow their conscience, magically, by dropping this bill, they would find religion and save that $240 million. Their inactivity two and a half years into their three-year mandate is exactly why we have to do something to change the status quo here in Toronto. The people said the status quo is not an option. The people deserve that $240 million for better services or lower taxes. We don't need bureaucracy, we don't need duplicate administration; we need a more efficient Toronto that will continue to be the greatest place to live in all the world.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Absolutely breathtaking.

Just to proceed with the debate, the first thing I think the public should recognize is that before Al Leach was elected, Mike Harris said, "I want a task force on Metro Toronto." They got Al Leach, Derwyn Shea and Morley Kells to look at Metro. What did they decide? They decided this: Keep the cities of Scarborough, Toronto, Etobicoke, North York, East York and York and get rid of Metro. That's what they decided after they'd looked at it. So Mike Harris went around Metro Toronto saying: "Elect me and I'll do the right thing. I'm going to get rid of Metro and keep Scarborough and keep the city of Toronto and keep Etobicoke."

You might wonder why people are so angry now. They say: "Well, wait a minute, Mike. I elected you because you promised you would get rid of Metro and keep Etobicoke, and now you're getting rid of Etobicoke. Why is that?"

The second thing I would say is that we now are getting almost the worst of all possible worlds. To my friends in the business community who are shaking their heads and asking, "How did this legislation get developed?" I say: "It's like eating in a fine restaurant. You don't want to go in the kitchen and see how this stuff is made."

This stuff is made on the back of an envelope. Can any of you, particularly my Conservative colleagues who were in municipal politics, imagine a 57-member council? Can you imagine it? This is the government of: "Smaller is better. We've got to get things down to manageable sizes." Fifty-seven people on the Metro council. It is breathtaking. Where did that come from? It came because I guess you ran out of time and Mr Gilchrist was at a meeting and Mr Leach was away on the yacht, and they said: "How are we going to solve this thing? Let's double the size of Metro council. There are 28 councillors now. Let's make 56 councillors and then we'll have a chair."


Do any of the backbench members think you can run a municipal council with 57 members? Mr Stewart, you're from Peterborough. You people understand municipal politics. But Mr Gilchrist got his hands on this thing and now we've got 57 people. My gosh, where was your brain when you got this thing together? So that's my second problem.

The people of Metropolitan Toronto voted overwhelmingly against this. I must say I found it breathtaking that Mr Gilchrist said: "Yes, but only 25% voted against it. Imagine the group that didn't vote at all. They would have all voted for it." We would have won the 1990 election with that kind of logic as well, but it doesn't work that way. The way it all works is, those who mark the ballots get the ballots counted. Those who don't show up don't get the ballots counted. It's democracy. So we find -- what? -- 75% of the people voted against the megacity, but, "Oh, we're going to disregard that because if only those people who didn't vote had voted, they would certainly have approved the megacity."

What we've got is legislation that goes 100% against an overwhelming majority of the public. You can disregard them. You can say: "The public don't know. They simply made a mistake. They don't understand this stuff." I think they understood it completely. They don't want a megacity. They agree with Mike Harris when he was in opposition: A megacity is bad. That's what Mike Harris said when he was in opposition. That's what he said and that's what Al Leach said and that's what Morley Kells said and that's what Derwyn Shea said: Don't have a megacity. The public know that. But for whatever reason -- I guess the coin was thrown up in the air and it landed heads, and that was the megacity -- that was the decision. Well, it's the wrong decision.

The sad part is that in the rush to, for whatever reasons -- I can't imagine the back bench being happy with this bill: 57 people on council. Can any of you imagine it?

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): You want 20?

Mr Phillips: The member said, "You want 20?" I want something workable. Mr Hardeman knows his stuff. He's a former councillor in Oxford. He knows that 57 people meeting to deal with municipal matters -- what people want on municipal matters is a council that can reflect the local concerns.

You're going to ram this thing through. We are heading to a completely unworkable municipal structure with 57 people sitting, each trying to decide on municipal issues. So it's the worst of all worlds.

Mike Harris has changed his mind and said we're now going to have a megacity. All the people in Metro Toronto who tried to express their view said no, and the bill now, rather than being improved, is made worse. This is a nightmare, and we have to approve it this week? It doesn't make any sense.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Mr Speaker, it is a good time for you to listen to the member for Fort York because I know you're always very attentive to the things I have to say. I'm very pleased to stand up to support the resolution of our leader because in it he raises many of the concerns that are reflected in society as a whole. It's not something that he as a leader of our party is inventing. People are very worried about all of the matters that he has raised, and all of you know that. You know that because as you attempted to respond to the concerns of Bill 103, you attempted in your way to reflect it.

What I have to do before I go on with my remarks is to thank the member for Scarborough East for attending those public flagellations, because that's what they were. He came faithfully, bearing it very well, and fought the good fight for Mike Harris, who told him to go out and do the dirty deed for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. You did well, and I admire that because you were one of the few who went around to defend that particular bad bill, Bill 103.

You've listened a lot, you say, but one of the most important things you didn't listen to was the referendum that told you no to Bill 103. Interestingly enough you say, "We listened to this, we listened to that." You invented a few other things to make it pleasing in a political sense to some of your unfriendly folk out there, but the most important thing that came out of the referendum was: "We want you to revoke the bill. Take it away." That's what they said.

Mr Gilchrist: And do what? What was your alternative?

Mr Marchese: That's something that the people wanted to discuss in fact. That's what the people wanted to talk about. When you say you've listened, you didn't listen to the most important part of that referendum. That referendum told you unequivocally no to Bill 103; not to parts of the bill that they found more particularly offensive, but to the entire bill. That's what people spoke to in Metro. I don't know where you were, but I was in Metro as part of the campaign with everybody else and they said no to the bill. For me it was unequivocal; it was very clear. But I know that for you, you need to mess it up a little bit. You need to pretend that you're listening.

On Bill 103, some of you folks, you and other members who have spoken, talk about reform. You never really explain to the public that's listening what you mean. If you mean by reform that you're very closely associated to the Reform Party, people understand that, but what else you might mean by the word "reform" is totally unclear. None of you has the clarity or -- I don't want to say intelligence -- to explain what you mean by reform. All of you simply use the word "reform" as if somehow people out there understand what you're talking about.

You then throw these other Reform-minded words that people like out there in the 905 area and some of the other areas beyond the 905, words like "accountability." What does it mean? When you look at the education bill, Bill 104, there is nothing in there that talks about accountability in any way. What you have is a bureaucracy from Toronto, by and large, a centralized bureaucracy to oversee the whole thing in Ontario. Is that accountability? I didn't think so. I'm not quite sure how, if you move away from the locality, from the local government, you get accountability. In fact most people understand that the farther away you get from those who govern the less accountable it is. We know that.

Mrs Boyd: Mike used to understand that.

Mr Marchese: Mike used to understand that in 1994 when in Fergus, Ontario, he talked about, "Bigger is not necessarily better." He said that.

Mr Gilchrist: In the context of Fergus, that's right.

Mr Marchese: "In the context of Fergus," he now says, trying to take that out of context as well. No, it was quite clear what he was saying then.

There are no savings in Bill 103. There is no evidence of any savings. People talk about "our need to act, our need to take control, our need to deal with the deficit." Well, we were saying, "Prove it," because there is no evidence that you've presented, Mr Gilchrist, you or any other member, that somehow there would be any savings as a result of what you're doing. So it seems to me --

Mr Gilchrist: The mayors themselves.

Mr Marchese: Not the mayors; no evidence whatsoever. We've had professors look at this and study this, not just in North America but in the US, and they clearly stated that bigger is more costly. There are no savings other than your political desire to convince people that there are. Some of you might believe it, your Reform-minded friends will believe it, but those who are doing the research and the studies around this issue know very well there are going to be more costs.

On Bill 104, the education bill, you conveniently talk about attacking trustees, too much bureaucracy, "We need to get these costs out of the way because we need to pass on those moneys to the classroom," but we know even in Bill 104, if there are going to be any savings, they would be very small. But we're not even sure there are going to be any savings as a result of Bill 104.

What Bill 104 does is this: It makes it appear you're doing something, which you label: "We need reform. We need to act. We need change and accountability. We need to get rid of bureaucracy and duplication. We need to get rid of trustees." You think you've done the job, but the active parents in the education system, the ones the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay calls the interest groups, those people who came in front of the committee, were sincerely concerned about what you're doing because they know what you're about to do is to take billions out.

I'm telling you this, and I'm telling those who are watching, that your government, M. Harris and ses amis, wants to take, I argue and predict, up to $3 billion out of the education system. Why else would they want to centralize education under one roof? Everybody's on to that game except some of you, maybe, if Mike Harris hasn't told you, but I'm sure he did because you need that money for your income tax cut.

You're going to be taking $3 billion out of the education system and I'm waiting for the day when M. Harris is going to come into this room, into this wonderful chamber, with a straw hat and he's going to start eating it because Mike Harris said, "If I take one cent out of education, I'm going to eat my straw hat." He said, "If I cut one cent out of the health care system, I'm going to eat my straw hat." Mike Harris is going to have to bring a lot of straw hats because he hasn't been clear with the numbers with us. He's fudging there a little bit, if you know what I mean.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): A lot.

Mr Marchese: Careful, because you know the Speaker is a tough one here with respect to issues of mendacity or veracity. He's very tough on that stuff. You've got to be careful. Better on the megacity stuff; he will allow me to say whatever I want. I know that.

There are no savings here. It's all about taking money out of the education system. That's why Mike Harris et la compagnie want to centralize it. That's what it's about. Do you think Mike Harris would be doing this if there weren't a way for him to download costs away from the province on to the municipalities? Do you think downloading is nothing but this? Why else would he centralize education? He says that education is a sacred thing, that we've got to deal with that. Of course he's got to deal with that because that's where the money is being taken out, siphoned off to deal with his income tax cut. That's what this is all about. To get the province to come out ahead fiscally he needs to do this and he needs to dump all the services -- housing, child care, health care services, welfare -- on to the municipalities.

Now the poor taxpayer, who they say is going to get a decrease in his property taxes, is going to find himself with a load he cannot carry because inevitably the costs are going to be high. Speaker, you too in Etobicoke are going to find yourself with a lot of critics because they're going to know the taxes are going to go up. I fully support this motion. I hope everyone else does.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am pleased to speak to this resolution because it in large part deals with the problems that are confronting the legislature and the people of this province this week: an arrogant government which is moving too quickly and too drastically to fundamentally change the province of Ontario.

It's most noteworthy that the Premier of this province will be addressing the Fraser Institute, that extreme right-wing organization, in British Columbia this Friday. That just fits perfectly, that in fact that's where the Premier's going to be, because that's where these policies are coming from, the extreme right wing. These are not the policies of the Conservative Party of probably the member for Dufferin-Peel when he was first elected to this Legislature. I used to think he was a blue Tory. Today, with this class of 1995, I can assure you the member for Dufferin-Peel is now a red Tory compared to the rest of you, and that is the change I see happening.

I look through the resolution and it deals with the fact that the government is totally ignoring 76% of the people who chose to vote in an election in Metropolitan Toronto and said they didn't want one huge city. If you thought of the Conservative Party and what it always stood for in the past, it used to stand for local government. I used to know, whether I agreed or disagreed with the people, that you could count on the Conservative Party in the old days to be the party of local government, of local accountability, that knew many of the best decisions are made at the local level. This group has decided, under Premier Harris and his advisers who worship at the idol of the Republican Party in the United States -- New Jersey and Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama, you name it, those are the places this government likes. Now they want to have one huge megacity so they can try to control it, so they can have one big council so the richest people can get elected because the larger the unit the more money you need to be elected and the better the chance the Conservative Party would have of formally introducing partisan politics to the municipal level.

The Speaker of the House was a member of Metro council. I'm sure some people knew when he was there that he was a person who supported the Conservative Party; in most cases the Speaker did when he was in Metro council. But they also knew when they elected him to Metro council that of course he was going to act in an independent manner, and he did so, and he was critical of the Conservative Party when he had to be.

Now I see this government trying to centralize, trying to take over the control of education. You set up the straw man there, elected representatives. You say, "We need fewer elected representatives." That means non-elected people are going to have more control, and the larger the units the members of the boards of education must cover, then it's going to be more difficult for them to get elected unless they have financial resources.

The only part of the resolution I have a little bit of trouble with is where it says, "and ensure that community services are in place before hospitals are closed." I'm not here to get into a quarrel with the NDP but I'm going to tell you one area where I do quarrel, and I know that people have varying views. I do not accept the fact that any bloody hospital in the Niagara region has to close. I do not accept that fact. I refuse to go on to the government ground where you argue over, "Yes, we put the money back in the community," "No, we didn't," "Yes, we did," "No, we didn't." We need the hospitals in the Niagara region, and I don't accept that they can close under any circumstances that I see at the present time.

I know that the party that's proposing this isn't looking for widespread hospital closings. I know that is the case. But I worry because some of the people who are most vociferous in the Niagara region and wanting to stop hospital closings are members of the NDP. So I want them to bring the message back to the leader of the NDP about this. It's a personal view. As I say, I don't wish to be partisan but I see this happening and I begin to worry because I don't think the majority of the members --

Mr Christopherson: What does your leader say, Jim?

Mr Bradley: I think I'm on the same line as the member for Hamilton Centre, who doesn't want to see hospitals closed in his area. He and I would agree, and that's where I get worried. I'm not here to attack the leader. I'm here because I'm desperately worried that the opposition is starting to move on to the government ground and that the argument is going to be over, "Yes, he did," "No, he didn't," instead of, "Don't close the hospitals." That's what I'm saying, and I think many people agree with me on that.

Anyway, I saw in today's St Catharines Standard an excellent article written by Josh Dumont, who is a student at Lakeport Secondary School. He says students feel a noose tightening around the neck of education. Let me share this with you because I think it's worthy of concluding my speech with this.

"The students of Ontario are getting the shaft. We are viewed by the provincial government as the fat on a juicy steak that is to be served up to Big Business in Ontario. You see, the Harris government was elected on a campaign promise of a 30% tax cut. And since Big Business makes a lot of money in Ontario, they pay a lot of taxes in Ontario. To make up for the lost revenue created by the tax reduction, the government will have to make cuts in certain areas," such as education and health care.

"Essentially, $1 billion has already been cut from education. As a result teachers have been laid off, thus increasing class sizes because student populations have not come down as much. Some classes are now between 35 and 40 students in number. Clearly, with 75-minute periods, approximately two minutes of teacher attention per student is all that's available, not taking into consideration lesson time. But it doesn't stop there. There is talk of eliminating `non-core' subjects such as phys ed, art, music and family studies, some of which are compulsory. But they also want to reduce credit hours from 110 to 90 and cap high school at four years.

"So let's get this straight: we'll have to learn more of less, in less time, with less teacher helping time, in larger classes, so the government can pay for a tax cut which will mainly benefit the rich. Hmm -- sounds like a sellout, friends.


"And with the tabling of Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, the noose around education's neck tightened. The bill establishes the Education Improvement Commission -- a small group of people appointed by the Minister of Education to, among other things, `oversee' the reduction of school boards in Ontario through amalgamation. Of the $14 billion spent on education, $150 million is hoped to be saved by amalgamating school boards. However, some experts say it will cost more for the transition to, and maintenance of, this inefficient new system. Besides, studies have shown that only about 5% of the money spent on education is for administration costs. If the 5% means there is local accountability of a school board, then it's worth it.

"School boards must cater to the needs of the local parents and students so as to preserve local democracy. (Democracy doesn't just occur every four years, but requires community involvement.) But with the larger school board districts, the word `local' can mean half of northern Ontario.

"The government says that between 25% and 49% of education dollars are being spent outside the classroom. Unfortunately, it was the minister himself who defined exactly what is `outside of classroom.' The list includes, among others, libraries and all of the resources in them, the librarian, the guidance department, your teacher's preparation time, custodial and janitorial services, the education support program (the group which actually writes the curriculum) and `other instructional supports,' people who are trained to see to the needs of special needs students. How could a school function without even one of these? But the minister is trying to summon disgust in the population of Ontario so there won't be a backlash when he makes drastic spending cuts to pay for the tax reduction.

"Fortunately, people are fighting this insult to education. The Ontario Education Alliance is a good example. But we as students, if we are sufficiently enraged when faced with these facts, must voice our opinions. Maybe we can't stop the government from ruining education in Ontario while they're in office, but we might be able to. Regardless, come next election most of us will be over 18. Then we can give the ultimate political shaft -- a vote for a different party, a party which, while in office, will restore the integrity of education in Ontario."

I agree with Josh Dumont.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): In the two and a half minutes I've got left, let me just make three points. First, if this government is truly interested in protecting the quality of education or furthering the quality of education of our students, why doesn't it pass the smaller school size act, Bill 110, that my colleague the member for Sudbury has proposed? That's what will do it, if we're concerned about the quality of education.

The second point is simply: This is the government that in its Common Sense Revolution stated it believes in referendums. It believes the people should have a direct say in the way they're governed and in the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives. What we have in this particular case is 76% of the people who turned out on March 3 in the six Metro Toronto municipalities clearly stated that they don't want a megacity. They're not concerned about a council of 44 people, 57 people, 30 people, 85 people. They want six individual entities, the six existing municipalities with smaller councils of maybe eight to 10 people each that could actually deal with the problems that are involved in the various neighbourhoods.

For the minister to suggest that somehow he has done something about this because he has gone from a 44-member council to a 56-member council and thereby all the problems are solved, he is going in exactly the wrong direction. Because, as my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt has already mentioned, how do you possibly run a municipal council with 57 different members? It is not going to work, Mr Minister. You know it's not going to work. It says nothing about the quality of the municipalities that we want. It says nothing about the quality of life that people want in the communities. That's what we want councils for. We don't want councils to in effect represent or dictate over an area of 2.3 million people.

Study after study has clearly indicated that larger doesn't make it cheaper and certainly doesn't make it better. From all the presentations that we heard from people who have studied this for years and years, they all came to the same conclusion and that is, once you get a municipality over a certain number of people, over a million people, the cost of running that municipality will actually increase.

Do the right thing, Mr Minister. Withdraw this bill now and do yourself a favour and a favour to the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Hampton has moved opposition day number 4. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1754 to 1759.

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


Bartolucci, Rick

Gravelle, Michael

McLeod, Lyn

Bisson, Gilles

Hampton, Howard

Miclash, Frank

Boyd, Marion

Hoy, Pat

Morin, Gilles E.

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Patten, Richard

Brown, Michael A.

Kormos, Peter

Phillips, Gerry

Carrel, Robert

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Pouliot, Gilles

Christopherson, David

Lankin, Frances

Ruprecht, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Cordiano, Joseph

Marchese, Rosario

Silipo, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Martel, Shelley

Wood, Len

Gerretsen, John

Martin, Tony


The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Guzzo, Garry J.

O'Toole, John

Baird, John R.

Hardeman, Ernie

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Barrett, Toby

Harnick, Charles

Palladini, Al

Beaubien, Marcel

Hastings, John

Parker, John L.

Boushy, Dave

Jackson, Cameron

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Carr, Gary

Johns, Helen

Ross, Lillian

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Runciman, Robert W.

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Shea, Derwyn

Danford, Harry

Johnson, Ron

Spina, Joseph

DeFaria, Carl

Jordan, W. Leo

Sterling, Norman W.

Doyle, Ed

Kells, Morley

Stewart, R. Gary

Elliott, Brenda

Klees, Frank

Tascona, Joseph N.

Eves, Ernie L.

Leach, Al

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Leadston, Gary L.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Flaherty, Jim

Marland, Margaret

Vankoughnet, Bill

Ford, Douglas B.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Villeneuve, Noble

Fox, Gary

Maves, Bart

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

McLean, Allan K.

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Munro, Julia

Young, Terence H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Murdoch, Bill


Grimmett, Bill

Newman, Dan


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 32; the nays are 61.

The Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1803.