36th Parliament, 1st Session

L181 - Mon 28 Apr 1997 / Lun 28 Avr 1997




















































The House met at 1334.




Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I want to address my statement today directly to the Premier. Premier, if you have any illusions about the people of northern Ontario losing steam in their fight against your attacks on our health and education system or against our seniors and Ontario workers or against your attempts to privatize everything in sight, I recommend you turn your eyes northward and examine what's happening in Thunder Bay today. The Days of Action have arrived in our city, and I can tell you and your Tory colleagues that the message is loud and clear. The people are as mad as hell and they aren't going to take it any more.

It's important, Premier, to understand that the people out in the streets today cross all boundaries. We have the employed and the unemployed, seniors and children, educators and students, health care workers and patients. We have the rich and the poor. Today they are all uniting in an effort to let you know that your vision of Ontario is not one they can abide. They want an Ontario that cares about all of its citizens and an Ontario that takes pride in helping those who are least able to care for themselves. They want a province back that includes everyone, regardless of their economic circumstances.

Premier, you can continue to bully Ontario workers and the rest of us throughout your term in office, but what you can't do is take away our ability to fight back, to stand up and proudly be counted as among those who believe there's a better way to do things. I salute all those who are taking part in today's action and remind them, and remind you, the fight is not over.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): April 28 is the day that allows all Canadians and people throughout the world to pay respect to those working people who have died or suffered injuries and diseases on the job. This has been recognized for almost 10 years now as that particular day of mourning.

In Kapuskasing this morning a special ceremony was held to recognize and respect those workers and their families at 11 at the labour council monument in Riverside Park. Kapuskasing Labour Council covers the area from Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls and Cochrane, and they've been doing a very good job in educating the workers in the dangers of being injured or killed on the job.

I want to send out congratulations to the new president of the labour council, Nicole Daggett, who has worked very hard on pulling together a number of the other unions to make sure that this continues to be a day of mourning for those who have been injured on the job.

Having worked in the paper mill at Spruce Falls for 21 years as a mechanic and eight years as an operator in the mill, I know the everyday dangers of trying to earn a living for your family and the risks involved in repairing machines or, as operators, making sure the machines run properly, so I just want to say that we should all take a moment's silence for today, April 28.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): This morning, Ontario's first restructuring commissioner announced the creation of a single municipality which includes the county of Kent and the city of Chatham. On January 1, 1998, the new municipality of Chatham-Kent will have a population of around 110,000 people and geographically will become the largest municipality in southwestern Ontario.

The new municipal government will be made up of 17 councillors and a mayor, replacing the current 141 politicians. This new government structure will provide the vehicle for more efficient delivery of government services, reduce costs to taxpayers, and make Chatham-Kent more competitive in the global marketplace.

Residents of the existing 23 municipalities should be assured that their individual sense of community and their particular culture can be retained, and should even flourish, within this new central government structure. The creation of this municipality will be of benefit to all its citizens by providing a more mature provincial-municipal relationship and a strong, self-reliant local government.

A transition team has been established to ensure a smooth and effective transfer to the new system of governance, and I want to wish them well and offer my services as they begin the task of leading the great new municipality of Chatham-Kent towards the 21st century.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I would like to remind the government and the Minister of Transportation today of the conditions of our roads. This is due to the many cuts which the government is applying in many areas. I'm not solely mentioning the hospital cuts or cuts to education; I'm mentioning the cuts to transportation services, those programs that are vital to the maintenance of our roads. I would like to remind the Minister of Transportation that our potholes are getting larger and wider and the road conditions very unsafe.

I mention to the minister and the government that downloading is not the answer, privatization is not the answer. Those are services that this government should take into consideration now and make the roads safe so that drivers don't have to skirt the potholes and cause more incidents.

I call on the government and on the minister to provide the necessary funding to repair the roads. There are many projects which have been approved five, six or seven years ago and today they still remain undone because of the cuts. Now the situation is even worse, and I would call on the government to provide the funding and make our roads safe and secure for people throughout the province, not only here in Metro. The longer we wait, the more it's going to cost, so I would implore the government to really fund those projects that have been approved so our roads can be again safe and secure.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Normally about this time each year the minister responsible for women's issues marches into the House to proclaim May Sexual Assault Prevention Month. Today the Coalition in Defence of Women's Anti-Violence Services demanded that the minister back up her rhetoric with -- get this -- some actual measures to safeguard women in this province from sexual assault and spousal abuse.

I can't say it better than Anne-Marie Aikins of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, who says, "We are all too aware at this time of the unspeakable violence many women are facing in Ontario, but we see little action to increase government support for independent women's groups who have struggled to intervene."

The coalition is asking that the minister announce three things:

(1) Guarantee annualized funding for rape crisis centres and guarantee that rape crisis centres and sexual assault treatment centres not be amalgamated.

(2) The government formally reject the McGuire report, which recommended, among other things, shorter stays at transition houses.

(3) Additional funding for a diversity of independent women's anti-violence services in the upcoming May budget.

There's your challenge, Minister, and your chance to finally be an advocate for women in Ontario. To the minister responsible for women's issues, I look forward in anticipation to that announcement coming later this week.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): In my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay and all over Ontario, eligible voters are being invited to get on the list for this year's municipal and school board elections. As I speak, over five million households in Ontario are receiving in the mail their 1997 municipal enumeration forms.

Every three years the province conducts a municipal enumeration in preparation for the autumn municipal and school board elections. This information is used to produce a preliminary list of electors for every municipal electoral district in Ontario. The information indicates a resident's school support and is also used to update the Ontario population report, provincial jurors' lists and property assessment records.

This year, part of the enumeration process has been contracted to the private sector. This one-time outsourcing will save the citizens of Ontario approximately $2 million and allow assessment staff to remain focused on the province-wide reassessment project. Provincial government staff continue to be responsible for preparing the preliminary list of electors and other statutory reports.

I am sure that my constituents will be pleased to find the 1997 enumeration has been simplified and made more efficient. Enumerators will not be troubling people by going door-to-door. When recipients receive their municipal election and school board support form in the mail, they should review the information, make any necessary corrections, and then drop it back in the mail by May 9, even if there are no changes.

I encourage every eligible voter in Ontario to get on the list for this year's municipal and school board elections.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Already reeling from the proposed implementation of a disastrous change in assessment of cottage wineries by the Harris government, people in the grape and wine industry will not welcome the news that the Conservative regime has taken another step towards widespread privatization of services for the people of the province, including the possible privatization of the LCBO.

With the reality of the impact of the Canada-US free trade agreement and the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the grape growers and wine producers of Niagara and southwestern Ontario need the LCBO more than ever to allow fair promotion of our product in their stores across Ontario, particularly when our wine faces stiff and often unfair competition from offshore producers.

The total sales value of wine from Ontario is $257 million. For every $10 million in wine sales, there's $14.8 million in economic activity in Ontario, according to a Deloitte and Touche study. Total wine industry related employment is 4,000; the value of grape purchases in 1996, $20 million; acreage for grapes in Ontario, 18,000; 200,000 visitors attracted to the Niagara wine region during special summer events.

There are dozens of reasons not to privatize the LCBO, and the future of our grape and wine industry, in which the government of Ontario in the 1980s invested tens of millions of dollars, is one of the most important.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Today of course is the international day of mourning for workers injured or killed in the workplace. I have joined with a number of other people in Hamilton at the monument we have at city hall. Later on today we will, before question period, give unanimous consent for representatives from each party to address this issue and to pay our respects to those who have fallen on the job. It's the tradition of this place that we are not partisan at that time, that we speak to the issue.

The same is not the case, however, for members' statements, and I want to say to the government very directly that the workers I was with this morning -- and it's interesting; there wasn't a single Tory representative there -- know what this government's all about. They ought to hang their head in shames. On this international day of mourning, you have to answer for attacking and gutting the WCB, for killing the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for closing down the occupational health and safety agency, for gutting the Employment Standards Act, for gutting the Ontario Labour Relations Act. That's the track record that you've got on workers' issues, and they didn't forget. Every speaker this morning talked about this government's anti-worker agenda. You should be hanging your heads in shame. That's why the local Tories didn't come: They were too ashamed to try and be there and defend your record. We will continue to fight for those workers even if you ignore them.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I rise today to ask members to join with me in thanking Sergeant George Johnston of the Ontario Government Protective Service for his hard work and commitment to the people of Ontario and Canada. We wish him well on the occasion of his retirement.

Sergeant Johnston served his country for 22 years in the armed forces, with tours of duty in Vietnam, Germany and Cyprus. He then went on to serve in the Ontario Government Protective Service for 24 years.

We all know the difficult job that those who provide Ontario government security in this place and elsewhere must do. It requires great sensitivity to balance appropriate security with the need for openness and accessibility. Sergeant Johnston and his colleagues have done an excellent job in this regard over the years and in so doing have made an important contribution to the functioning of democracy in this province.

Sergeant Johnston has set an example of public service that is an inspiration to all. I know all members will join with me in congratulating him on a job well done and in offering our best wishes for the future.




Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Our government was elected with a mandate to make government work better for the people it serves. That objective may sound like a simple one, but it has required a commitment to completely re-examine the way in which government does business, and the political courage to change the way things have been done in the past.

Since we assumed office we have accomplished long-overdue changes never even attempted by previous governments, and along the way we have learned that change is never easy. In addition, quite frankly, we have learned other lessons as well. We have learned that you can never have too much public input, that better decisions are made when the advice of experts is taken into account, and that everyone benefits from an open process when plans and proposals of government are made public and made clear.

Now we are preparing to apply those lessons as we fulfil yet another commitment made in the Common Sense Revolution. We are taking the next step in a fundamental and long-overdue review of the businesses owned and operated by the government.

Our government over the years has grown in size -- in the past 20 years from a budget of less than $6 billion to well in excess of $40 billion today -- and so have the number and types of businesses and services that have been provided by government. At the time these businesses were established, there were probably good reasons for government to be involved. However, in many cases those reasons no longer exist, because times change and so indeed have the needs of the people of Ontario. Today people have different expectations of their government.

We owe it to Ontarians to review where, why and how they are provided with public services. They must also have confidence that government is using their hard-earned tax dollars for services they need and value.

It may be that today there is no longer a need for government to be directly involved in a particular business, or it may be that government can now work with the private sector in operating that business more effectively, efficiently and at less cost, or it may be that having government keep and operate the business is still the best idea.

However, we cannot know what is best unless we conduct a careful, step-by-step review of these business operations. Therefore, we have designed a framework for privatization review, a careful, case-by-case evaluation of the businesses that are candidates for change.

That review process will be fair, open and prudent. It will include extensive input from the general public and from the government employees of each affected business. We will also draw upon the expertise of outside advisers who will be chosen through a competitive process and from a panel of experts who will assist me. Ontarians can have full confidence that their ideas and recommendations will be heard and that the best possible decisions will be made.

In evaluating specific candidates, we will look at a wide range of options, including different forms of public-private partnerships, joint ventures, long-term leasing, not-for-profit corporations, divestiture of assets, and having government retain the business and improving the services and operations.

The financial dividend obtained from whatever option is ultimately selected will go directly to paying down the provincial debt, just as we promised in the Common Sense Revolution. This will free up resources which can be reinvested in priority areas such as health care, classroom education and community safety.

Today, in addition to setting out the privatization review framework, I am pleased to announce the first review candidates. They are the Province of Ontario Savings Office, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Ortech research facility, and three government-owned and operated tree nurseries. I can assure you that in the very near future we will be looking at a significant number of other government services and businesses as well.

We are beginning a careful review of the government's business assets and the best way to use them on behalf of Ontarians. I am confident that this framework will provide a fair and open review of government businesses, thereby making a true contribution to our goal of making government work better for all Ontarians.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'll partially respond, and then my colleague Mr Kwinter will respond in more detail. Just to say on behalf of our caucus that this area has, we think, the potential for some serious problems. We understand the government is proceeding with it and we understand that it is broadly accepted across the country, but we want to begin to indicate some of the concerns so that the government will at least be aware of our apprehension about some aspects of it.

First, the biggest area of potential concern here, we are frightened, could be the health care sector. I just want to alert the government that we are extremely worried about that. You have decided to download onto our municipalities all of the responsibility for ambulances. People across this province should recognize that you now have to pay for ambulance services, or you will very shortly, off property taxes. That's our first concern, and we'll be watching the whole health sector very carefully as the government proceeds on its privatization.

The second thing is to recognize that much of the capital projects will now be funded through the private sector and leased by the government. Again, we worry about that because simply adding debt in a different way is still adding debt. Rather than paying for the debt through interest cost, we're paying through lease cost. So we worry about that.

The third thing is, there's no question that there are hundreds of companies out there just dying to get at this business, and what the government does, to use the jargon, is to sell off a stream of revenue. I will just say that the 407 is an example where the private sector was involved and so far, there are some concerns about it. So far, we are adding about $1 million a day to our debt on it. There hasn't been a single penny raised yet on tolls, although that was promised at the end of December, and so far, we're losing, I believe, about $1 million a week in revenue.

For all of those reasons, I just want to alert the government that this area has the potential for some significant problems for the public of Ontario and we'll be watching carefully.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I just want to follow up on my colleague and the concerns that I have: There is no question that there are probably areas where public-private partnership makes some sense. But, you know, right from the very beginning we have a situation where the government announces that they've appointed a coordinator. They're paying him $245,000, the highest-paid civil servant in Ontario. If you've got somebody who's getting that kind of a salary, surely his role is to make sure he justifies it, which means he sells off everything that he can possibly find.

What you have is the minister's statement, and it's interesting to say that people have different expectations of government. My concern is, whose expectations are they going to be looking at? Are they going to be looking at a very, very narrow expectation of their particular supporters, or are they looking at the expectations of the people of Ontario who demand a certain amount of service from this government, things that money cannot buy, but it's the role of the government to provide it?

We have a whole range of things that are on the so-called chopping block: our drinking water, our ambulance service, the Niagara Parks Commission, Old Fort Henry, TVOntario, Ontario Hydro, the LCBO, and anything else. You know, there's a maxim: If it isn't broken, don't fix it. My concern is we've already seen a government that has a history of deciding that things that have been working very, very well and have been acclaimed worldwide are suddenly deemed to be broken. They've gone out and without any consultation, without any contemplation and without any discussion, have changed it.

I want to make sure that that doesn't happen to some of the things that have made Ontario and made this jurisdiction one of the most attractive in the world. This can only happen if there truly is public input, public consultation. We have a situation where the minister has already identified four candidates, one of them being the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre. Again, I would caution this government and this minister that that was paid for out of public tax dollars. I have no problem with looking at doing something with it as long as it's not a fire sale, as long as someone is not going to come in, get a sweetheart deal and walk away with an asset that has been paid for by the taxpayers of Ontario, without any reasonable return.

This is the case in every other thing that they are looking at. We have to make sure that the process is open. We have to make sure that there is no conflict of interest. We have to make sure that there is transparency and, above all, we have to make sure that those people who are going to be impacted and affected by it are treated fairly and that anything that does take place is truly open to public scrutiny and debate before that decision is made.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): First, I'd like to say to the minister that there's a shocking lack of detail before us today, and I hope that this so-called Ontario privatization review framework is not all there is. I would ask the minister that he table with the Legislature today some more background material so that we have more of an idea of how this government is going about looking at this great undertaking.

I note that the minister's words were nice. He says that they're going to start talking to workers here. I note that postal workers, for instance, and some of the security workers have been trying to talk to the government for some time about their concerns about privatization. Some of the disabled we have working in both these areas are very, very concerned that their programs are going to disappear, and nobody's listening.

I also would like to note that this government has already started backdoor privatization. We've seen that with certain aspects of health care; ambulance services; in my area, the environment area, water privatization, which we're very worried about. We're starting the clause-by-clause this week of the beginning of the end of public ownership of water in Ontario.

For instance, one of the four areas mentioned today, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, I echo my Liberal colleague's concerns about that. Why would the private sector even invest unless it knows there's a huge profit to be made? It was we, the people of Ontario, who made that huge investment, with every reason to believe that there's a good return for us, for the people of Ontario. I hope the government takes a very good look at that before moving ahead.

I would also say to the minister that I'm sure he did not mean to be a stand-up comedian today, but when he talked in his statement about consulting with the public and what they have to say is very important and they will listen, that was such a joke after what we went through with Bill 103 and Bill 104, where we had thousands and thousands of people object to what you were doing and saying, "No, no, don't do it this way," and you didn't listen. You rammed it through. You went right ahead with it. That is a joke. You haven't learned a thing. The minister said today that they've learned some lessons. You haven't demonstrated that yet.

I would say seriously to the minister that what you're about to undertake here is a huge change in the way we do business and the way we protect and invest for the people of Ontario, and that you should back up the fine words that you used today and make sure you consult and listen to the people of Ontario before you move forward in any of these initiatives.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The minister in his comments said that the people of Ontario today have different expectations. Surely they have the expectation, as they always have had, that the government will carry out its role to conserve and protect our natural resources and to manage them well. It is most unfortunate that this government has laid off so many people in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Environment and Energy that it cannot monitor what the private sector is now doing, and now we're talking about giving over more of the management of these resources and the regeneration of our forests to the private sector.

Also, the government has stated clearly, despite the minister's words that he is going to consult with workers, that workers in these nurseries cannot bid to take over the nurseries and to operate them because the government considers that a conflict of interest. If the minister is shaking his head, then I'd like him to explain why this was done by his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources with a number of other nurseries.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): There's one thing worse than losing your job and that's to be left twisting in the wind. Your government last week was in Sault Ste Marie talking to the employees of the Ontario Lottery Corp, giving them their options and counselling them re the privatization of that very profitable corporation, and it isn't mentioned in here; it's not mentioned once. But I guess maybe we can ask, now that it's not mentioned, that you can rethink that.

Why don't you go to the people looking at the lottery corporation for privatization and tell them that it's a stupid idea? Give Sault Ste Marie back its future. This is a very profitable corporation that is working efficiently and has contributed to the life of my city in a very meaningful way. It was a sign of the future when it was opened in 1992. Today, Minister, under your leadership it is becoming a museum. Why don't you narrow-minded, ideologically driven bunch of carpetbaggers leave my city alone?


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): In the members' east gallery we have with us today the Minister of Health for Alberta, Mr Halvar C. Jonson. Welcome, sir.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further, you'll note on your desks today, because of the fine work of the member for Mississauga South, you've been supplied with an evacuation plan.


The Speaker: Order. It's a fire exit route. I can't resist this, but you will note that should there be a fire, you exit through those doors, those doors or those doors. Whatever you do, don't check under your seats.

It's now time for oral questions.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Mr Speaker, I believe that we have unanimous consent to recognize this day of mourning.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Member for Ottawa Centre.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): Today I rise in recognition and observance of this day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace.

Canadian federal legislation designating a day of mourning to remember workers who have been killed, disabled or injured in the workplace and also workers afflicted with industrial disease received royal assent on February 1, 1991. Today, April 28, has particular significance since it is the anniversary of the day in 1914 when Canada's first workers' compensation legislation was passed in Ontario.

Last year 216 Ontarians lost their lives in the course of doing their jobs, and workplace injuries and illnesses accounted for millions in compensation claims. Although this figure is down from 233 in 1995, 244 in 1994 and 264 in 1993, we cannot rest until all tragedies are eliminated -- tragedies such as the death of Benoît Blanchet last week near my home community. The 29-year-old man was electrocuted after the boom crane he was operating to unload shingles off a flatbed trailer became entangled with hydro wires. Earlier this month a 25-year-old miner, Terry Fairservice, was killed in a tragic accident when he was trapped in a rock slide in Schreiber, east of Thunder Bay, on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Deaths in Canada from traumatic injuries in the workplace are approximately 1,000 every year. This national figure does not include deaths which occur from industrial diseases. If this were done, the figure would jump significantly. The number of casualties at the moment is dropping, but with all statistics we must be cautious in how we interpret that. Are they dropping because they are doing a better job in terms of accident and injury prevention or because of the general drop in employment, particularly in those sectors such as construction and mining, logging and heavy industries where injuries and accidents have disproportionately taken place?

The quality of worker health and safety means healthier families and healthier communities. Employers and employees alike must ensure that proper health and safety programs are in place. When the people who are responsible do not take these matters seriously and do not act on health and safety issues, people can and do die, as we saw recently through the public inquiry into the Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia.

The threat of job loss, coupled with privatization, restructuring and layoffs, has contributed towards the continuation of unsafe conditions in some workplaces. No one should be reluctant to speak out against unsafe conditions at a work site for fear of losing their jobs. On this day of mourning, I would like to underscore the need for employers and employees to work together to prevent workplace injuries and illness. All of us in our party join with our colleagues in the Legislature and our constituents in our communities all over Ontario as we observe a moment of silence and pay tribute to those who have died. We especially pay tribute to their loved ones, their spouses, children, parents, colleagues and friends, who are living without them.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am proud and pleased to rise on behalf of my NDP colleagues to join in with members of this House in paying tribute to the day of mourning and recognizing and remembering those workers who have died or been injured on the job. The slogan of the day of mourning is, "Mourn the dead and fight for the living," and at this time it's traditional that all parties would commit themselves to this important goal.

I'd like to point out that there's a myth in this province that more workdays are lost because of labour disputes, whether they're strikes or lockouts, and that this is a primary concern in terms of production in the economy and therefore is the biggest issue to be faced in terms of time off the job. The reality is that last year there were 500,000 more workdays lost because of injury, illness and disease than any strikes or lockouts. That was in a year that we also had an extraordinarily high number of people on strike, as we recall the OPSEU strike and the CAW workers at GM. In 1995, when we don't have those figures to calculate, we find that the number of workdays lost because of injury, illness and disease over strikes or lockouts is six times. In fact, last year there were 204 deaths and nearly 350,000 total claims. That does not include the nearly 6,000 workers who die from occupational disease. If that happened as one incident, we would declare a national emergency, so it's important that on this day we take time to remember and we take time to commit ourselves to making our workplaces as safe as they can be.

We recognize this day here in Ontario because it reflects the enactment of the first workers' compensation board act in Ontario, April 28, 1914, and it was Bob Rae, the former Premier of Ontario, who in 1988 introduced a resolution that was passed unanimously by the House that this Legislature would recognize a day of mourning.

On Friday in Hamilton I was at a news conference with Steelworkers who have committed themselves to a public campaign on educating young workers, particularly students who take on summer employment, in terms of their rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in an effort to prevent our young people from being injured, because just like unemployment, their injury rates are higher than the numbers for the balance of the population that is working. They're going right into the high schools, and I think we ought to recognize that the unions are playing the lead role in making sure that health and safety are a priority. I applaud them for going into those schools and talking to those young people about their rights and making sure their young lives are not ended as young lives, as happens far too often.

This morning I was at the monument that we have at city hall, the first city in the history of Canada to allow a monument on city hall property, and I was so proud to be a member of the council that made that decision. It sits right at Bay Street and Main Street, and every year we gather, as we did this morning at 10:30, to pay tribute to those who die or are injured or acquire fatal diseases on the job.

Greater workplace safety is achieved through workers being trained properly, and greater workplace safety is also achieved by following the basic principles of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The right to know about unsafe hazards in the workplace, the right to participate in decisions about health and safety in the workplace and, most importantly, the right of a worker to refuse unsafe work: That is how we make our workplaces as safe as they can be.

I close by, again on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, joining with all members of this House in recognizing the contribution workers make to the economy of this province, paying special tribute to those who have died on the job and recommitting ourselves to truly making our workplaces as safe as they can humanly be.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As has been mentioned, today is the national day of mourning. Today we have the opportunity to remember the many workers who have suffered injury or illness or lost their lives while on the job.

Today is a day when we are all reminded, and certainly examples have been given to us, of the terrible human, social and economic toll that workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities can take. Today we join with workers, employers and others to express our sincere condolences to the families and to the friends of those killed or injured at the workplace.

Today also provides us as legislators an opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to the prevention of illness and injury and zero tolerance for fatalities, for health and safety is not a partisan issue but a human issue.

As we take a look at how we can truly make a difference in working towards the elimination of illness, injury and fatalities in the workplace, it is becoming abundantly clear that workplace partnerships and coordination are critical to developing and delivering health and safety programs that will enable us to achieve that goal. In recent months we are starting to see some of these partnerships and this coordination developing.

I want to congratulate those labour unions, specifically the Steelworkers, who are going into our schools. I want to congratulate the employers and the other organizations and individuals who are starting to focus on the need for education in the area of health and safety and on the need to focus on prevention of illness, injury and fatalities first and foremost.

I want to congratulate particularly the Safe Communities Foundation, as they celebrate their first anniversary, for the work they are doing with people in our communities to help us achieve our goals of safe communities.

I want to congratulate the Industrial Accident Prevention Association and the workers' centre for delivering the young workers' awareness program in our schools. They are going into our schools to educate our young people and raise awareness of the need to be able to identify workplace hazards, and they are teaching our young people not only about their rights but also about their responsibilities.

We are only going to be able to make a difference by continuing to work together collaboratively and by making sure that we not only raise the awareness of each and every individual; we need to make sure that communities become aware of the need to work cooperatively together to ensure they have safe workplaces. It's also important that each CEO of each company make a commitment to health and safety in order that each member within the organization will share in that commitment.

However, regardless of what has already been done, much more remains to be done in the future if we are to make the workplaces in this province among the safest in the world. Today we as legislators have the opportunity to renew our dedication to the task of eliminating future death, injury and illness. One death or one injury will always be one too many.

At this time I would ask everyone to stand for a moment of silence to remember not only those who have suffered injury, disease or lost their lives, but also to remember the families who have been so greatly impacted.

The House observed a moment's silence.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: My question about the emergency taking place in this chamber was a very serious question and it was very seriously asked. I'm disappointed that I would receive a map or a drawing showing the existing exits to this place, because everyone who comes in and out of this chamber knows very well where our exits are. I'm probably a little insulted that this is the response, Mr Speaker. What I wanted to ask you was if you would give us --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Mississauga South, this isn't a point of privilege.

Mrs Marland: Well, how do I --

The Speaker: I suggest you call me. We could take it up privately, but it's not a point of privilege for the House.

Time for -- sorry?

Mrs Marland: With respect, you made an announcement in the House.


The Speaker: Time for oral questions.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the minister responsible for privatization. Minister, this morning you released your framework for privatization. It was completely without substance or definition. You offered us vague guidelines and even vaguer assurances that the friends of this government won't be the ones to profit. We already see them lining up at the trough, just as they did under Margaret Thatcher in England and Brian Mulroney in this country. We get the distinct impression that everything is on the table, that nothing is sacred, that Ontario is up for sale.

Minister, you talk about selling and divesting. Will you guarantee us today that you will not sell our natural resources, our cultural, heritage, historical or religious sites and areas in which taxpayers have made significant investments?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I can tell the member opposite that the process we've outlined is indeed a process that has resulted from some work we took and some consultation we had with other jurisdictions that have gone through an exercise of privatization. We looked at those jurisdictions because we wanted to make sure we designed a system here in Ontario that suited Ontarians' needs and didn't duplicate the errors and omissions other jurisdictions had in their process. I think we've done that with this process. This is a fair and open process to deal with the challenge we have in government in making sure government businesses keep up with the times.

Mr Cordiano: Minister, come on. Come clean with us. You're trying to hide your plans for privatization by citing examples like selling off convention centres and tree nurseries.

If you refuse to tell us where you'll draw the line in terms of privatization, then we'll give you a start. Take the Niagara Parks Commission off the table. Let's be clear about that. Some of us know that Disneyland wants to buy Niagara Falls and set up another theme park, the Disney Falls, to sell tickets to see the falls, the gorge, the Brock monument and military burial grounds.

Tell the people of Ontario today, Minister, is there a For Sale sign on Niagara Falls? Be clear about that. People in Ontario want to know. They have a right to be concerned. Is Niagara Falls up for sale, and is it going to Disney?

Hon Mr Sampson: What the people of Ontario want to know is that they have a role to play in this process. As I outlined in my speech today, in my delivery to this House today, it's quite clear from the process we've designed that there is indeed a role for Ontarians to play. We intend to have a full and open process so that people know how we are dealing with the particular challenges of making sure government is governing in the right areas, and second, that Ontarians can play that crucial and effective role.

Mr Cordiano: Disney isn't the only American company interested in scooping up treasured Ontario assets. Why don't you tell us, Minister, what else are you prepared to give away: the lottery corporation, the housing corporation, the LCBO, the clean water agency? By not telling us today what's off the table, you've just put one huge For Sale sign on Ontario. Everything's for sale. That's what you're telling people right across this province. The taxpayers have a right to know what's for sale and what's not, and you haven't come clean with that.

Will you take off the table what you are not prepared to sell? Come clean today and be clear about that, because the taxpayers have a right to know. Will you stand up and give us those assurances?

Hon Mr Sampson: Again, what the people of Ontario have a right to in this province is a government that is delivering on the services they need and require in a fair, effective and efficient manner. They're looking to government to make sure that government businesses have kept pace with the times in this province. They do not want government businesses that do not deal with the challenges of the times as we have them now and as they will be going forward.

I can commit to the people of Ontario that we indeed intend to meet our obligations to Ontarians in governing this province seriously, so that we will address those businesses that need to be changed for the future of Ontario in a fair, effective and efficient manner which involves all Ontarians.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health. I'd like to bring you to your feet to respond to concerns about the standard of your Health Services Restructuring Commission, the one going around the province closing hospitals.

On Thursday last you seemed to have a hard time explaining to us whether or not the commission is arm's length from cabinet. When you started the commission, you said it was arm's length; when you hired people, you said it was arm's length; when you stand in this House to be accountable for this commission, you say it's arm's length.

At the same time, we have two letters from two different cabinet ministers, and I need you, Minister, as the person responsible, to tell us which is right. Is the minister responsible for francophone affairs correct when he says he is unable to intervene, that "Given that the commission is independent, it would be inappropriate for me to intervene directly," or is it the Minister of Municipal Affairs when he tells constituents that he has written to and received extensions on behalf of hospitals, one in his riding, for their sake? Tell us which it is. Is this commission indeed arm's length?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Yes.

Mr Kennedy: Your lack of interest in providing people with confidence leads us to wonder about the kind of double standard for your commission. Do you mean that people in your cabinet are also going to be talking to the securities commission, the Ontario Housing board? Where do you draw the line?

Minister, I want to know from you, are you aware today of contact being made by other members of your cabinet with the commission? Have you received copies of correspondence? The Minister of Municipal Affairs would not release copies of his letter to the media on Thursday last. You know this is a question of confidence in you and in your commission. As you're aware, the Environics poll released last week says that 66% of Ontarians are very concerned about what you're doing to hospitals, and they want you today to give them some assurance. Is your commission open to all kinds of political interference or are there some safeguards, and are you aware of what's going on within your own cabinet? Tell us today, Minister.


Hon Mr Wilson: The only one who seems to be confused on this issue is the honourable member. The Members' Integrity Act, which you only quoted in part last week, clearly states that a member must not attempt to improperly further his own private interest or the private interest of another. Within these parameters, the act does not prohibit a member from engaging in normal duties on behalf of his or her constituents.

Mr Leach was contacting the commission for an extension of time so that his constituents could have a little more time to prepare their briefs. It's perfectly within the law, and in fact it's a sign of a good MPP.

Mr Kennedy: Well, I hate to tell you in front of your colleague from Alberta, from whom you take much direction, that this is not the sign of a good cabinet minister looking after the interests of the health of Ontarians, because it is not acceptable that cabinet ministers should interfere with commissions for which they have a say on who sits on those commissions. In endorsing that, you're going against the advice, which you are apparently prepared to ignore, on the part of the commissioner which says that you are prohibited, if you're in cabinet, from intervening with commissions.

Minister, we want to hear from you today. You told your local newspaper that the hospital in your home town of Alliston was in no danger of closing. You provided that assurance, and last week you gave an assurance to the people of Meaford on behalf of one of the other members from your side of the House that there would be good news coming for them.

How is it you are in a position to assure the people of your home town that your hospital will not close when you've supposedly given these powers at arm's length to the commission? Think carefully before you answer, because it's very important to the trust of the commission and to yourself that you establish that there's any arm's length at all on the part of this commission.

Hon Mr Wilson: The commission is at arm's length, unlike perhaps some other agencies, boards and commissions. Its final decisions remain at its table. They do not go to cabinet, so Mr Leach or any other cabinet minister does not have the opportunity to change or review decisions of the Health Services Restructuring Commission. The law that we put in in January to set up the commission very intentionally was set up to take the politics like this out of health care. That's why your government failed to do anything about health care restructuring and it's why the previous government couldn't go as far as I think they wanted to go with respect to reforming the health care system.

People are concerned about health care in this province, I can guarantee you that, because they're reminded again today, with a phoney announcement by the federal government, that we have been cut by $2.1 billion in health and social transfers. That is a very powerful impetus for the health care people in this province to restructure the system, and that's what they're doing.

Secondly, the very quick answer to Simcoe county is that Simcoe county has already undergone a hospital restructuring. The previous government did that and then they flowed money to Orillia. The new hospital in Barrie is being built now, announced by the previous government, because of --


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): That's not what you told the people of Alliston. It's not what you told them at home, Minister; it's not what you told people in Murdoch's riding.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, Minister. Members for York South and Windsor-Sandwich, come to order, please. New question.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Minister, the Workers' Compensation Act currently lists as one of its main goals "fair compensation for injured workers." Why are you taking out the word "fair"?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I would respond to the member opposite that we have taken a look at the Workers' Compensation Act. As you know, we have rewritten the act and we are going to be calling it the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. In the course of making the changes, we will be ensuring that the compensation that is provided will be fair. In fact, as you know, the compensation that is going to be provided is as generous as any that can be found in North America.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, you didn't answer the question, which is the track record with you. I asked you a very specific question, and in your answer again you used the word "fair." Yet you are not prepared to commit to leaving the word there. You're deliberately taking out the word "fair." We have consistently accused you of saying one thing here, nice words that make people feel good, but then you pass legislation that hurts people.

I ask you again: If you truly believe in fair compensation for injured workers, will you commit today to put the word "fair" back in the legislation?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just indicate again that the changes we're making are totally refocusing the emphasis of the WCB. In fact what they're going to be doing is focusing on the prevention of illness and injury first and foremost, so we have rewritten our purpose clause totally and emphasized the need for healthy and safe workplaces. Our emphasis is no longer on compensation; it is on health and safety. I would also say to you that in the course of the deliberations, when this bill makes its way around the province, if indeed there are suggestions to change and to again include that word, that can certainly be considered in the course of the deliberations.

Mr Christopherson: I don't think anyone is fooled by those slippery answers. The fact is that you won't put the word "fair" back in because your new workers' compensation will not be fair for workers. You'll refocus all right -- to take care of your friends.

The fact of the matter is, Minister, you've also used the excuse of the unfunded liability being in such a crisis that that's why you've had to take away billions from injured workers. The facts are that the unfunded liability has dropped, since our NDP legislation, the last three years in a row. It has dropped by over $1 billion. Minister, will you admit today that you don't have any excuse to take money away from injured workers except that you have to pay for the $6 billion you're giving back to your corporate friends in your new WCB legislation?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just remind you that $10.4 billion is still a very high unfunded liability. In fact, it is three times greater than the combined unfunded liability of all the other provinces in Canada.

Mr Christopherson: Three years in a row, $1 billion.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Hamilton Centre, I ask you to come to order, please.

Hon Mrs Witmer: If we had not taken the action we are going to be taking and if we had not introduced Bill 15 and reorganized the WCB, as we've already done --

Mr Christopherson: That's not true. Tell the truth.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, I ask you to come to order and withdraw that comment.

Mr Christopherson: Speaker, I asked the minister to tell the truth.

The Speaker: I ask you to withdraw the comment or I'll have to name you.

Mr Christopherson: Speaker, I'm imploring the minister to tell the truth about this issue.

The Speaker: I name the member for Hamilton Centre, Mr Christopherson. I ask you to leave the assembly, please.

Mr Christopherson was escorted from the chamber.

The Speaker: Minister of Labour.

Hon Mrs Witmer: I was just going to indicate that unfortunately our unfunded liability at $10.4 billion, which is showing some decline, is still three times greater than the total unfunded liability of all the other Canadian provinces. Without our reforms and certainly the action we're taking, the unfunded liability would have reached $18 billion by the year 2014. So we are trying to restore the financial integrity of the board in order that benefits will be secure for injured --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Attorney General, who was here a moment ago. I'll stand it down, I guess. Oh, here he is.

As the Attorney General returns to his seat, I would point out that whether or not there is a conviction in the case in Sarnia today, there has been no investigation of the role of the government in the Dudley George affair. The case before the courts will only deal with a half-hour of mayhem in the dark on September 6. Only part of the picture will be revealed by the results of the case.

The public deserves to know exactly who decided to deploy the large numbers of OPP in this matter. We know that meetings were held with political staff, including a personal assistant to the Premier. Why was there such a large buildup of force by the police if the only options the government was seriously contemplating, as the minister has said, were court injunctions or trespassing charges?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Wildman: These are serious questions that the government must have answered and they can only be answered by a public inquiry. Will the minister now, after this court case, agree to a full public inquiry into the Dudley George affair?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): There are a number of court cases that continue to go on, a number of them scheduled over the next couple of months. We have indicated very clearly to this Legislature that certainly it was the government's position to take steps to obtain a civil injunction. The government in fact did that and the record is clear that that is the approach the government took to end this incident peacefully. Quite separate from that, it has been made very clear in this Legislature that the Ontario Provincial Police had the discretion to deal with policing matters in the way they saw fit and received no political direction.

Mr Wildman: Unfortunately, that is anything but clear. The OPP has historically taken an approach of avoiding confrontation in these kinds of situations. I have a copy of a press release issued by the OPP on September 6 at 1:45 pm stating that "police will continue trying to establish a line of communication with the occupiers in an effort to negotiate a successful resolution." Something happened between the time that press release was issued and the evening when the police buildup started. We know that later that day the special committee had a meeting. On the same day, we also know that Marcel Beaubien urged the government "not to back down" in the face of lawlessness: "If people are to be hurt, so be it."

The exact roles of the various people in these events that led to the fatal shooting of Dudley George are still unknown. I urge the minister, will he now agree to a full public inquiry?

Hon Mr Harnick: As I've indicated earlier, there are a number of court cases that continue to go on. The issues in all of those cases are different. I only want to read what Commissioner O'Grady said in remarks that he put out. He was very clear. He said, "I do not take tactical or operational direction from the government." In fact, there was never any tactical or operational direction given, and certainly the government's position, as I indicated, was always to obtain a civil injunction and hopefully end this situation peacefully.

Mr Wildman: A public inquiry will deal with the chain of command, the decisions that were taken in response to the occupation at Ipperwash and what the role of the government was.

Obviously, the OPP doesn't take operational or tactical advice from the government. It does take policy advice and strategic advice, and that's what the meeting was about on September 6. It appears that some time between 1:45 pm on September 6 and later that day changes were made. At 6:42 pm the police log says, "Marcel Beaubien advised that he has sent a fax to the Premier advising of his intentions and that he wanted a return call regarding his intentions." What were those intentions? We must know what the government decided to do. We do know --

The Speaker: Question.

Mr Wildman: -- that the policy direction appears to have been to get the expletive Indians out of the park as soon as possible, and the OPP decided how, not if. We need a public inquiry. We want to know --

The Speaker: Member for Algoma, please come to order.

Hon Mr Harnick: It's quite clear what the government direction was. The government direction was to obtain a civil injunction, and the record speaks for itself. That is absolutely clear, and the government immediately took steps to begin the preparation of materials. The materials were filed with the court. There was an attempt made to ensure that there was notice given about the intention to obtain the injunction. The record and the actions and the words in court make that abundantly clear and speak for themselves. The government's position was to try and end this occupation peacefully by obtaining a civil injunction.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Health. In Ontario today, if a person requires ambulance services, that individual can expect a quality service and a copayment of not more than $45. Your government is embarking upon significant changes to the delivery of ambulance services: the downloading of the cost of land ambulances to local government and, as we've been reading in the press lately, the significant incursion of major private operators like Rural/Metro and Laidlaw into the delivery of land ambulance services in Ontario.

Given all that, Minister, can you assure all Ontarians that as a result of these downloading and privatization initiatives every citizen in Ontario, regardless of where they live and regardless of their financial means, will have quality ambulance service with no more user charges than the current $45 copayment?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I should mention that there are two copayments: one is $45 for emergency transfers, one of the lowest in the country, and the other one is well over $260 for non-emergency transfers. Let's make sure that people understand. Those copayments have been in place for many, many years in this province.

Standards will be in place. In fact, people are going to get better ambulance services. We put $25 million into paramedic services; 99% of our ambulances by this time next year will have paramedic services. No other province in the country can brag about that. I'm going up this week, actually, to a native community to give out awards to their paramedics and to remind the public that we've reinvested some $15 million into the medications that are now being carried by our ambulances for bee stings and asthma and other medications. Frankly, it has been so successful around the province that many people don't need the ride the rest of the way to the hospital because our ambulances are so good.

The standards will be there: 69 of 172 of our ambulances are already run --

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

Mr Conway: My concern today is about accessibility and price to the patient. I want to be very clear, Minister, and let me repeat: Can you assure the people of Ontario today that regardless of whether you're a banker in Toronto, a logger in Renfrew or a farmer in West Simcoe, you will into the future have equal access to quality ambulance service; that there will not be any increase in their user fees beyond the emergency and non-emergency copayments we have today; and that people, particularly in rural and northern Ontario, will not face the kinds of user charges that Rural/Metro has been imposing in places like New York state where, for example, their charge for advanced life support is $350 per delivery of service?

Hon Mr Wilson: No. We have no plans to introduce any new copayments. We said we wouldn't in the campaign and we won't. The NDP last raised the copayment by $3 in 1993 and we're not even looking at that at this point. The standards will be in place: 69 of 172 ambulance services now are run by the private sector. In fact, of 172 ambulance services, the government only runs 10, so I think the honourable member is trying to fearmonger among the public.

The fact of the matter is that municipalities, the private sector, the ministry and a couple of other organizations run our ambulance services, and we have the highest standards and the best ambulances in this country. We wouldn't want to do anything at all to destabilize that. In fact, we've been putting more and more money in to make sure that we continue to provide even better service in the future.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Environment and Energy. Minister, your government's announcement today on privatization is really about trying to mask your underlying bias in favour of privatization, and your ministry has been at the forefront of this backdoor privatization.

This week Bill 107, on water and sewer services, will be up for amendment in committee. Earlier at committee you said you weren't in favour of privatizing water and sewage, but because of your government's download, municipalities won't have the money to take care of our water properly. They will be forced to sell it off to the private sector and we could see the kind of water disasters we've seen in England. Minister, will you put your money where your mouth is? Will you amend this bill today so that municipalities will not be able to sell off our water?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Bill 107 has nothing to do with privatization. It has everything to do with turning over the deeds to the water and sewage plants, which many municipalities have already paid for in the past and quite frankly are demanding the deeds for, and we have no alternative legally but to turn over those deeds to them.

That's what Bill 107 is about. Bill 107 is about giving to municipalities their rightful assets, which they have paid for in the past. We're transferring, as you know, 25% of the plants in Ontario from the name of the crown of Ontario to their rightful owner, the municipalities. I think municipal governments have done a good job in terms of water and sewage treatment for the people of Ontario in the past and I trust them to do so in the future.

Ms Churley: Minister, this is not a situation where "Trust me" is good enough. We want an amendment to this bill that shuts out any possibility that a municipality that is strapped for cash can sell off the water. I am not talking about the operation here. If you mean what you say, you will amend the bill because right now, as it stands, they will be able to do that.

I also want to bring up with you today that you've already started privatizing our water without any public process. Last week the Environmental Commissioner slammed the government for privatizing water testing labs. She said that privatization may put our water in danger, and it's costing five times as much for the private sector to do it. This is an example of privatization that's gone terribly wrong. It is something that should make all Ontarians fearful about your whole privatization agenda. Minister, will you bring water testing labs back into the public sector so we can be confident our water is clean?

Hon Mr Sterling: Let me be clear about Bill 107. Bill 107, for the first time in this province, discourages privatization with regard to municipal water and sewage plants, something which your government quite frankly didn't have the guts or determination to do. We have said that if a municipality wants to sell a particular facility, it must return all the grant money this province gave to them since 1978. There has never been such a discouragement before to municipalities to undertake any kind of privatization.

All we are doing is transferring the deed to the rightful owner, to the people who have been taking care of their people over the past 100 years and providing water and sewage services. We believe in municipal autonomy. We believe the people of Ontario are well-served by their local governments. They have been trusted in the past to give their people good water and they will do so in the future. We believe in the municipalities of Ontario.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. I understand that last week, during Earth Week, you embarked on a trip to meet environmental officials of 11 neighbouring US states to promote clean air and water and cooperation among neighbouring jurisdictions in our fight to protect the environment. Could you please share with us some of the issues you discussed on your trip?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): Last week I met with 11 different state directors, secretaries of environment and governors from across the midwest United States. It's important for us to have a close liaison with these particular governors and state governments because 50% of our ozone problem originates in the United States, and that is in the greater Toronto area; when you go down to Windsor, it's 90%. If we do not deal with these particular states, work with these states to reduce the amount of ozone they have in their area, we can't deal with our own problems. States like New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania receive the same kind of transborder pollution as we do. They understand our problem. They want to work with us to solve this problem and that's what we're going to do.

Mr Froese: As you know, my riding is St Catharines-Brock, and in the Niagara-on-the-Lake portion of the riding they border along the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. In addition to air management, did you discuss other issues which concern both Americans and Canadians along the river and Lake Ontario, and in particular, those people in St Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake? Did you discuss issues like how best to protect the Great Lakes?

Hon Mr Sterling: You can't meet with these particular individuals without talking about protecting the Great Lakes. It is a very important concern of theirs because they receive much of their water from those Great Lakes. When I met with people from Michigan, Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, all the Great Lakes, they stated their concern over water quality. We have been meeting with them to improve the Great Lakes water quality, and I will work with them in the future.

I have been invited to go to the Great Lakes governors conference this July in Erie, Pennsylvania, to present our case. I would invite members like Mr Froese to go along with me, because of his concern over areas in the Niagara area.


Hon Mr Sterling: While members of the opposition may treat this lightly, this is a serious problem. We are going to work together with these states to improve Great Lakes quality, and I believe together we can all have better quality water, both on Canada's side and the US side.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is to the minister for privatization. The LCBO employs about 5,000 people, transfers around $700 million to the coffers of the province of Ontario, distributes alcohol in a responsible fashion by turning away tens of thousands of under-age individuals and ensures that there remains a public voice in the selling of alcoholic beverages. Will you assure this House, the employees of the LCBO and the people of Ontario that you will not privatize the Liquor Control Board of Ontario?

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I refer the question to the minister responsible for that.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): We are currently taking steps to modernize the LCBO, as the honourable member knows, with the goals of better customer service, improved efficiencies, and strong health and social standards. We have been taking suggestions on how to improve the system and modernize it further from many of our stakeholders. Certainly we've had discussions with the OLBEU employees as well. Our goal simply is to make the system better for the consumer and better for the taxpayer of Ontario.

Mr Crozier: We're still not sure who's in charge. Can you privatize if only the minister lets you privatize, or does the privatization minister come in and tell you who he's going to privatize? We'll find that out later.

The Premier said last Wednesday on a CBC open-line program that we would never give up regulation of alcohol or control of alcohol. We know that 71% of the people of Ontario are opposed to the privatization of the LCBO and we feel you should heed those words.


You've said you want to improve the marketing etc of the LCBO and you said you've talked to stakeholders. Since last December you've had a document called Home Grown Solutions. I know the minister must have read it by now. If you have read this report, are you acting on any of its recommendations that have been given to you by the employees of the LCBO?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Yes, I have had an opportunity to see the document from the OLBEU employees. They have made a number of, I think, very reasonable suggestions to us. We have looked further in terms of some of the kiosk suggestions they've made. We certainly have a very successful kiosk operation right now, to the honourable member, in Markham which services the Chinese population of my particular riding.

Our commitment has been to modernize the LCBO. We are continuing to do that. Certainly we are making specific reference to, once again, the interests of the consumer in this province; we're making reference to the interests of the taxpayer in this province. They must be better systems.

Certainly we have to pay attention to the special place the wine industry has and serves in Ontario and the employment opportunities that come of it.

Taking into account what we're doing, we are continuing to modernize right now. We are listening to suggestions as to how to improve the system.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, there are some people in Sault Ste Marie who think you are planning to get out of the advocacy-for-vulnerable-adults business and that the first step is the amalgamation of the adult protective service worker program with Community Living Algoma. Do you think it's appropriate that advocates for vulnerable people be employees of the organization delivering the services to this targeted group?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question. I'm not aware of plans for the amalgamation as he has described it. I will certainly be prepared to look into it.

Mr Martin: That certainly is good news and will be good news both for the people who are being advocated on behalf of and for the people delivering the service, who are very concerned about this move. Right now adult protective service workers provide advocacy for a large number of people in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma. When the amalgamation happens, their services will only be available to clients of Community Living Algoma. The question that would flow from that obviously would be: If in fact this amalgamation takes place, where would those vulnerable adults get the support they need?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Many associations and organizations in communities are conducting their own restructuring initiatives, where they're trying to share resources to try to do a better job. As I've said to the honourable member, I will certainly look into this situation, because we want to make sure that vulnerable adults are not harmed in any move if there is indeed a move going on in this community.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, as you're aware, Bill 98, the Development Charges Act, begins clause-by-clause today after extensive committee hearings. Could the minister please inform the House how the government has responded to the deputations and written submissions received during the committee process?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member from Scarborough for his question. As he knows, the development charges review has taken well over a year to put in place. We put a position paper out and left it out on the street for a year for the municipalities, the developers and the public to comment on. We then put the legislation together and, as you know, it has gone through this legislative process. It has gone through second reading, where again we listened to the numerous deputants, particularly from the development industry and from the municipalities.

As a result of those deputations, we've had an opportunity to refine the bill. The municipalities want growth to pay for growth, and we agree with that. The development industry wants to make sure that the cost of their product isn't put out of the reach of new home buyers. We believe we've reached a compromise that everyone will be able to live with: 100% of hard services will be paid for by the development; the services that serve the whole community, like city halls, museums and art galleries, will not be subject to development charges at all.

Mr Newman: I thank the minister for clarifying the amendments for the House. Could he please inform the House of how this legislation will help both the municipal sector and the development industry sector?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I thank the member for the question. I think everybody realizes that growth should pay for growth. If there is new development taking place, the burden of providing that new development shouldn't rest on the existing taxpayer, so the development industry should be and is prepared to pay 100% of the cost of hard services that they require for their development. They had difficulties in accepting that they should pay for museums and city halls, and our legislation will ensure that they no longer have to do that.

We also have an agreement in introducing an amendment that would allow a 10% discount on services such as arenas, transit and other services that are required for development and are required for the municipalities but should be shared by everyone.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question to the Minister of Transportation. In light of your colleague's announcement today about the framework for privatization, we thought we'd review with you an issue that's involved privatization already: principally the privatization of highway signs in Ontario.

I wonder if you could outline for me what in your view have been some of the benefits and where the status of that project is today.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Although the privatization of the signs comes under economic development, I'll certainly try and give the member whatever I can as far as an explanation. I feel it's an opportunity for businesses within the province and I think it's a step in the right direction. It's also going to bring on economic growth within that particular region, so I know economic development and MTO have worked together with the privatization people who are delivering that service and we're looking forward to expanding it even more.

Mr Duncan: In fact what is happening, and we think this is a perfect example of the Harris government's privatization initiatives, you have an American-controlled company that today in eastern Ontario is taking down perfectly good signs that were erected three years ago, highway signs, and then charging organizations like the Raisin River Conservation Area to have access to highway signs.

So what do we have? We have a situation in eastern Ontario, the test pilot in 1994, where all-new signs are replacing perfectly good signs, the costs are being downloaded to the local conservation authority, a conservation authority that has had a 70% cut in its budget, and the profits from this arrangement are going to an American-controlled company.

Can the minister tell us, will there be an opportunity to keep those perfectly good signs on the highway, signs that stretch from Brockville to the Quebec border, at least until such time as their useful life has been expended?

Hon Mr Palladini: I really don't share the same concern that the honourable member has mentioned. As far as the actual company that's delivering the services from a head office, so to speak, yes, it is American-owned, but the services are being delivered by Canadians, by people who work here in Ontario. I really want to assure the member that this sensitivity is certainly very much there.

As far as the honourable member's saying that we are wasting money because the signs we are taking up are still good, I agree, they are still good, but they're not giving the message that we want. That is the reason we've gone to the new text sign, where you're going to have visibility of actually seeing exactly what is available to the tourists, where they can get out, how far it is and so on. I believe we are taking a step in the right direction and I certainly would like to see a lot more of this and actually encourage businesses in Ontario to come forward and see how we can help them improve their businesses.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Health. With us today in the gallery is Mrs Maria Izzo. She's sitting in the members' gallery with her husband, Tommaso. She's here because her purse was stolen about a month ago, and with it her health card. The problem we want to bring to your attention is the fact that Mrs Izzo cannot get your ministry to issue her a replacement card.

Minister, you should know that Mrs Izzo has lived in Canada for about 38 years, a long-time resident, she has her passport documents, complete with a landed immigrant stamp, she has a driver's licence, a social insurance card, she's a CPP recipient, she has a statement from her doctor verifying her health number, and still your ministry will not issue her a replacement card.

In fact, her card was stolen. She reported the theft and your ministry refuses to accept her documents, claiming that what she needs instead is to provide a copy of the original stamp that was put on her passport, even though the information from that was translated into her current passport. The other side of the coin is that the current card is still in circulation. Minister, why does your ministry continue to operate in this way and deny Mrs Izzo a replacement card?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It's a good question the honourable member has brought forward and I'd be happy to look into the situation immediately. The rules with regard to eligibility and getting the card are the same ones your government put in place a few years ago. It sounds ridiculous, and I'll get to the bottom of it right away.


Mr Silipo: I appreciate that, Minister, and you're right that there were some rule changes that were made at the time that we were the government to try and deal with the question of eliminating fraudulent attempts to get into the cards. You yourself I think will recall that. In fact, I remember you making statements in this House to the effect that you believed that OHIP fraud amounted to some hundreds of millions of dollars. I think you said in fact it was a $691-million problem.

Yet with the strong conviction that you had, your first act as Minister of Health was to cancel the health card program that we had put in place. Now we have this kind of problem because you've cut staff, you've closed administrative offices and your ministry can't keep track, it seems, of the health cards in circulation. I guess the question to you again, Minister -- and I appreciate your commitment to look into this -- is, will you also take a look at the fact that there's a replacement card --

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

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member is in error in some of the assumptions he has made about how perfect their re-registration system was. They were going to re-register the province and compare it to a database that still had dogs and cats on it, because the Liberals give us blank forms to fill out in the 1980s and some people, as a joke, put down children and the family pet, and the Liberal government sent them all out red and white health cards just before the election campaign in the mid-1980s, I recall.

The fact of the matter is, your constituents don't have to come down here. You could have called me and brought this to my attention. Everything that's brought to the floor here we get solved right away. It's the same bureaucrats who worked under you, and I'm sure they're not trying to mess people around intentionally. They're trying to do a big job in the second- largest health care system in the world with thousands and thousands of registrations every day. Every time we hear a problem like this, we're able to solve it, so we'll solve this one right away.

We have taken a number of other measures -- if I had more time -- to ensure that fraud is --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. All of us in this House, and especially those of us from the great rural areas of our province like Chatham-Kent, are aware of the great work done by Ducks Unlimited to promote the preservation and growth of wetlands. I understand that last Wednesday you were in Long Point Bay and signed an important agreement with the folks at Ducks Unlimited. Could you elaborate on the terms of that agreement for us, please?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member for Chatham-Kent for the question. I was honoured last week, as he mentioned, to be in Long Point Bay to sign this important agreement. The event marked the first-ever perpetual agreement between Ducks Unlimited Canada and a provincial government. Under the agreement Ducks Unlimited and the government will combine resources to implement a long-term wetland conservation program. The program will benefit waterfowl, other wetland-dependent species and ultimately the people of Ontario.

Mr Carroll: The benefits to waterfowl and other species will become obvious over time. You also mentioned benefits ultimately to the people of the province of Ontario. Could you share with us what you envision those particular benefits to the people to be?

Hon Mr Hodgson: Most people in Ontario realize wetlands are a critical component of Ontario's natural environment and part of our ecosystem. Wetlands are rich in animal and plant life and give us clean water. This agreement spells out clear roles and responsibilities for both organizations. We'll be working as partners in such areas as wetland-related policy, management, environmental review, resource planning and countless other areas. Ducks Unlimited has a conservation army of some 30,000 people. They have helped rehabilitate more than half a million acres of wetlands.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is firmly committed to managing Ontario's natural resources effectively and sustainably. We will continue to set standards of resource management and we will be rigorous in enforcing those standards. Together, Ducks Unlimited and the Ministry of Natural Resources will enhance the good work that has already started to protect Ontario's vital surface and groundwater resources.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, I would like you to advise us what steps were taken to have the Health Services Restructuring Commission's chief executive officer, Mark Rochon, who is a former CEO of Humber Memorial Hospital, as you're aware, at arm's length when it came to the review of the restructuring of what has now been called the Humber River hospital corporation, involving the former Northwestern General Hospital, Humber and the York-Finch site. I wonder if you could share with us what kinds of things happened to make sure there was no conflict of interest involving Mr Rochon.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The commission operates at arm's length and, as such, it has developed its own conflict-of-interest guidelines. The member is very free to run across the street and review those guidelines, both for staff and commissioners.

Mr Kennedy: As we heard often, the main people running across the street are cabinet ministers who have untrammelled access to this commission, but I guess what we would like to hear from you is at least some awareness about how your commission operates.

I spoke to Mr Rochon and he advised me he did not see it necessary to distance himself from a decision around the site of Northwestern and Humber, even though he was the former president of the Humber hospital, even though there is a voluminous amount of material that was not submitted by the new corporation or not considered by the commission in deciding which site would close.

The Northwestern site was chosen to close, and he was involved in the decision. I wonder, Minister, if you would comment for us on the perception of conflict of interest that creates for a lot of people in the local community. Clearly you're unaware of the rules this commission governs itself by. This gentleman was directly involved in the decision. The decision was made to close another site. A lot of information was ignored. We'd like to know why this was possible in your commission.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm not going to comment on that. If the member has a problem with Mr Rochon, he should take it up again with Mr Rochon.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Two weeks ago a group of municipalities from the districts of Cochrane and Timiskaming, all along Highway 11 from North Bay to Longlac, met to discuss the offloading of provincial roads to municipalities. The consensus was that the municipalities are getting shafted by the provincial government. The one-time grant given to municipalities simply will not cover the cost of repairs and maintenance. Some in the municipalities were even thinking about setting up tollgates to absorb the costs that you're unloading. Municipalities are left with only two options: They will be forced to raise property taxes by a large amount or they will have to let the roads deteriorate. Minister, what is your advice for these municipalities in my area?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I would just like to say that we intend to transfer only highways that no longer serve a purpose as a provincial highway, that really serve the purpose of a local road. That should be up to the municipality, to make sure it takes on the responsibility. We want to utilize the minimum dollars that we have to protect economic development in the province and to spend those dollars we have on provincial highways that truly serve that purpose.

All I can say to the honourable member is that these municipalities have been getting the funding support for so many years, but now we can no longer do that. We must retain those dollars and utilize those dollars on true provincial highways.

Mr Len Wood: Minister, your answer doesn't make any sense. In a lot of those communities Highway 11 goes right through the community and it's the only road going through it. What you are doing is dumping or downloading the costs of these highways onto the municipalities when the province should be paying them. Thousands and thousands of transports and cars are going through. The only road to go through from east to west is Highway 11. When are you going to be prepared to sit down with these municipalities and discuss the issue? They are very much concerned that they are being shafted by this provincial government, where the province should be paying the cost of this highway going through these municipalities. Will you sit down with these municipal leaders and discuss the issue very soon?


Hon Mr Palladini: I have given the municipalities my time and my staff's time, certainly, and we have addressed or looked at and listened to their concerns and tried to work with them as best we could to see how they can actually get through it. I also want to say that we have transferred, or we will be transferring, $5.4 billion from education off the residential tax, so I think these dollars are going to be utilized.

We have also transferred highways that are in good condition, and for the ones we are transferring that need the work, we're supplying monetary funds. We are working with the municipalities and I believe we're going to continue to work with them in making sure that we're going to help them get through this transition as best and as quickly as possible.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in regard to the recent appointment of the members of the transition team. What specific credentials and qualifications, sets of experience and other relevant criteria did you use in making your decision as to the people who were selected, what kind of reporting time are you expecting them to have in terms of some of the priority issues they will evidently raise with you, and how do you see them concluding in terms of a final report on some of these priority issues?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The qualifications of the transition team are impeccable. The current Metro Toronto chairman, a known Liberal, is chairing the transition team, and we have the confidence that even with that one slight flaw in his character he will do an excellent job.

Another member of the transition team is Mrs Lois Griffin from Etobicoke, who was the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, is presently on the police services board, was the budget chief in Metro, was also a controller for the city of Etobicoke and is extremely well qualified.

Time is not going to permit me to go into the qualifications of the other five members of the team, but I can tell you that they all have excellent qualifications.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I wanted to raise a point of privilege with respect to the evacuation route that you tabled earlier. With respect, I wanted to point out to you that when you tabled this, you referred to it as an evacuation route or an evacuation plan -- I can't remember which -- but you said, "Due to the very fine work of the member for Mississauga South." I think by in fact naming the member -- I think she actually did have a point of privilege earlier.

But I want to address that what we were given is a floor map which shows the three exits, which of course all members are very familiar with, and it suggests on the flip side that we make ourselves familiar with this information. I do believe that falls far short of the request that was made by the member for Mississauga South, the intent of which was for a protocol with respect to emergency plans and evacuation.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Beaches-Woodbine, I know exactly what was requested from the member for Mississauga South and I'll be happy to take it up. If you would like to join us at that meeting, I'd be happy to have you there as well.

The fact is, what was requested and what was supplied are slightly different. If you would like to take the time to review it, I'll be happy to show it to you and you can bring yourself abreast of this information. When that happens, if you would like to stand on a point of privilege at that time, that would be helpful as well. But I think it's important to tell you that what has been provided here has been the information that was requested, minus another point that I said I couldn't accommodate. With the greatest respect, I know what I was requested. Frankly, I didn't realize you had that information as well, but if you do, I'll be happy to review it with you at that time.

Ms Lankin: Yes, Mr Speaker, and I appreciate that and I will say very directly to you that I did not have that information. I went to speak to the member for Mississauga South because I was concerned that the way in which you presented this information did in a sense ridicule her and her request, and it is on that that I rise on a point of privilege. I do enjoy very much your sense of humour, but I think in this case there was a sense of ridicule that many of us took when we saw the information.

The Speaker: I apologize. It was certainly not a sense of ridicule. I apologize to the members for Mississauga South and Beaches-Woodbine. Again, I will be happy to provide the information to anyone who would like it. At the time I was requested to do a couple of things, this was one of them, and I'm doing my best to provide the rest of the information to the members of the House.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I move that substitutions be made to the membership of the following standing committees:

On the standing committee on administration of justice: Mr Rollins for Mr Johnson (Brantford); Mrs Ross for Mr Hudak; Mr Flaherty for Mr Klees; Mr Ford for Mr Leadston; Mr Boushy for Mr Parker; Mr Young for Mr Tilson; Mr Wood (London South) for Mr Doyle; on the standing committee on estimates: Mr Beaubien for Mr Barrett; Mr Grimmett for Mr Brown (Scarborough West); Mr Pettit for Mr McLean; Mr Doyle for Mr Rollins; on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Mr Young for Mr Chudleigh; Mr Arnott for Mr Hudak; Mr Barrett for Mr Ford; Mr Carr for Mr Spina; on the standing committee on general government: Mr Tilson for Mr Maves; Mr Gilchrist for Mr Flaherty; Mr Froese for Mr Hardeman; Mrs Fisher for Mrs Ross; Mr DeFaria for Mr Young; Mr Doyle for Mr Tascona; on the standing committee on government agencies: Mr Baird for Mr Fox; Mr Guzzo for Mr Leadston; Mr Stewart for Mr Doyle; Mr Tascona for Mr Newman; Mrs Elliott for Mr Wood (London South); on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Mr Tascona for Mr Arnott; Mr Fox for Mr Hastings; Mr McLean for Mr Boushy; Mr Tilson for Mr DeFaria; Mr Hardeman for Mr Grimmett; Mr Baird for Mr Stewart; on the standing committee on the Ombudsman: Mr Pettit for Mr Froese; Mr Leadston for Mr Jordan; Mr Johnson (Brantford) for Mr DeFaria; Mr Boushy for Mrs Fisher; Mr Ouellette for Mr Stewart; Mr McLean for Mr Vankoughnet; on the standing committee on public accounts: Mrs Johns for Mr Beaubien; Mr Grimmett for Mr Carr; Mr Murdoch for Mr Hastings; Mr Preston for Mr Boushy; Mr Tascona for Mrs Elliott; on the standing committee on regulations and private bills: Mr Beaubien for Mr Smith; Mr Hardeman for Mr Boushy; Mrs Johns for Mr Hastings; Mr DeFaria for Mrs Ross; Mr Shea for Mr Pettit; Mr Vankoughnet for Mr Arnott; Mr Clement for Mr Gilchrist; on the standing committee on resources development: Mr Hastings for Mrs Fisher; Mr Jordan for Mr Baird; Mr Spina for Mr Tascona; on the standing committee on social development: Mr Klees for Mrs Johns; Mr Newman for Mr Pettit; Mr Hudak for Mr Preston; Mr Parker for Mr Froese; Mr Leadston for Mr Jordan.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

It's the pleasure of the House that the motion carry.


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I move that the order for the committee of the whole House on Bill 41, An Act to protect the Rights of Persons receiving Health Services in Ontario, be discharged and the bill be withdrawn; and that the orders for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion to consider government business on the morning of Thursday, December 12, 1996, and for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for consideration of private members' public business be omitted from the orders and notices paper.

That Mr Morin and Mr Kennedy exchange places in order of precedence for private members' public business; and that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 73.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? Carried.




M. Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa-Est) : «Attendu que la recommandation de la Commission de restructuration des soins de santé en Ontario ordonne la fermeture de l'hôpital Montfort et que cette décision constitue le rejet de la volonté de l'entière communauté francophone de la province et de la communauté de l'est ;

«Attendu que 40 % des francophones de la province de l'Ontario résident dans l'aire de service de l'hôpital Montfort, soit à l'est de l'Ontario, où la population connaît un des plus hauts taux de croissance dans toute la province, que le comté de Russell n'a pas d'hôpital et qu'en plus, Montfort dessert le nord le l'Ontario, où le nombre de francophones est très élevé ;

«Attendu que la fermeture de Montfort éloigne et diminue grandement l'accessibilité à une salle d'urgences pour plus de 150 000 personnes ;

«Attendu que Montfort est le seul hôpital enseignant et de formation des professionnels de la santé en français en Ontario et que la fermeture du seul hôpital spécialisé, offrant une gamme complète de services en français, mènera à la dilution et, éventuellement, à la disparition des services de santé en français en Ontario ;

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

«Nous demandons que le premier ministre de la province intervienne fermement auprès de la Commission de restructuration des services de santé en Ontario afin que soit préservé l'emplacement actuel de l'hôpital et que soient consolidés la vocation, le mandat et le rôle essentiel que joue Montfort auprès de la communauté.»


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): "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 of 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."

This is signed by people from Georgetown and Mississauga and Brampton and Milton, all kinds of wonderful and important communities in this province.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario that the residents of the city of Barrie do not want a charity permanent casino and video lottery terminals located in the city of Barrie."

I affix my signature.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature to it.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition that has been signed by hundreds of people from various schools in the London area. The petition reads as follows:

"A school library information centre staffed by fully qualified teacher-librarians and rich in both print and electronic resources is crucial to a quality education in an era where management of information is essential to success."

These folks are petitioning the Legislature of Ontario to ensure that teacher-librarians continue to be present in the schools.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I have a petition of about 74 pages. If they average 15 signatures on them, it will be some 1,110. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

I submit this on behalf of some 1,110 members of my constituency.


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

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris has changed the designation of estate wineries in Niagara and in southwestern Ontario from agricultural land to industrial land; and

"Whereas the primary use of winery property is not industrial but farm and commercial; and

"Whereas most of the properties involved are zoned agricultural and therefore have no access to normal services provided to industrial properties; and

"Whereas the grape and wine industry produces millions of dollars in economic activity and employs thousands of people throughout Ontario; and

"Whereas this added tax burden presents undue hardships to estate wineries and may result in job losses and a halt to the development in this important sector; and

"Whereas this change may have broader implications for all value added farming in the Niagara region;

"We, the undersigned, support the wineries of Niagara region and call upon Mike Harris and the Conservative government of Ontario to show their support for farm-based wineries on agricultural lands and the economic benefit it provides all of Ontario by removing the industrial assessment factor that the Mike Harris government has now burdened this industry with and reinstate an assessment which more fairly reflects the nature of value added farming."

I affix my signature as I'm in full agreement.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition from a number of people in Middlesex county and the city of London:

"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, clerical, custodians, maintenance, audiovisual/computer technicians, computer technicians, educational assistants and cleaners will result in chaos and poor service and limited savings, if any;

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

We support our local schools and education centre staff of the Middlesex County Board of Education who are members of CUPE Locals 1753 and 1170."

I am proud to affix my signature.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I have a petition here from the greater Grand Bend area and it says:

"We, the undersigned, support the following:

"(1) That the community commonly referred to as Grand Bend which includes the area of Bosanquet north of the Greenway Road and the Pinery Provincial Park, as well as the areas of Stephen township which are adjacent to the existing village of Grand Bend, be brought together as one single community, retaining the name Grand Bend;

"(2) Where a newly amalgamated municipality is created that the unified greater Grand Bend area not be divided by municipal boundaries;

"(3) That the amalgamated municipality even include this greater Grand Bend community to provide the best economic alternatives for supply of service and utilities and fair representation for our area;

"(4) That the individual residential areas and subdivisions situated within this greater Grand Bend retain their identity and characteristics and continue to operate within their community associations."

I have over 100 residents who have signed this petition.

Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I have yet another petition regarding health care. This is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

I affix my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It's appropriate that, as the justice committee considers Bill 84 in clause-by-clause, I can bring forward this petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

I am proud to affix my signature.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Substance Abuse Bureau has engaged consultants in each of the six health planning regions of Ontario to develop regional plans for the rationalization of addiction services, the consultants in the central east region have recommended that an integrated service delivery system be established, consisting of Simcoe Outreach Services, Seven South Street and the Community Care Centre for Substance Abuse. It is further recommended that the funding for the integrated service system flow through the Royal Victoria Hospital, which would have responsibility for overall governance and management of this new system;

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

"That if an integrated service system is required for Simcoe county that it not be funded through, governed or managed by the Royal Victoria Hospital. This recommendation does not appear to meet the project objective `to achieve cost savings.' We request that a review of the original proposals by the service providers of the county be initiated which detailed several alternative models."

I've signed my name to that.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "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."

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further petitions; the member for Port Arthur.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Madam Speaker, as you know --

The Acting Speaker: Member for Port Arthur, I missed somebody in rotation. I regret this. It should be the member for Sarnia. Maybe tomorrow.

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): "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 poses 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."



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I move government notice of motion number 17:

That the Minister of Finance be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing May 1, 1997, and ending October 31, 1997, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.

Very briefly, I'm not going to talk at any great length about this motion other than to say that I'm pleased to put forward the motion for interim supply. As most members are aware, the motion for interim supply provides the government with authority to make payments to hospitals, school boards, municipalities, suppliers, civil servants and others. These payments are currently being made under the authority of a motion of interim supply which came into effect on November 1, 1996.

The motion for interim supply is required now as the authority under the existing motion expires on April 30, 1997, and payments cannot be made after that date. Scheduled payments in early May include, among others, payments for general welfare, transfers to hospitals, school boards and children's aid societies. To ensure that the province meets its obligations in an orderly fashion, I would encourage members to be supportive in passing this motion as promptly as possible.

The process to make these payments, especially those on general welfare etc, takes anywhere between three and five days. Of course today is April 28; a three-day time period would expire on April 30. If these cheques are to go out to the people who need them the most, the sooner this motion is passed, the better. Otherwise it is conceivable that persons would receive moneys owed to them after the end of the month.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The real question is why the government always delays the placement of interim supply before this House until the last minute, meaning the end of the month. The Treasurer -- he will forgive me for making this accusation; it won't be directed personally to him -- will ensure that people begin to phone the opposition if this is delayed. Every government I've seen has done this, Ernie, so I'm not making the accusation to you.

What normally happens, I'm told, is that the government that brings in the motion at a very late date then arranges on the last day of the month for people to phone the opposition and say, "If only you would pass interim supply, then all the cheques can go out in the province and people who have to be paid will be paid."

Hon Mr Eves: I wanted to deal with it last Thursday.

Mr Bradley: The member did, to his credit, want to deal with this last Thursday and have it wrapped up. I certainly agree that would have been preferable. I know that was his desire. Sometimes it doesn't exactly happen, for a variety of reasons.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): Why would that be?

Mr Bradley: You don't want to know the answer to why that would be right now because I don't want to start a fight in the Conservative caucus. I try to promote harmony and continuity in the Conservative caucus as much as possible. I don't want to start an argument in the middle of the Conservative caucus because we're just trying to heal the wounds that are there now, let alone start new wounds.

The best thing that can happen -- this is a debate that should take two weeks, for instance, in my view, because then it would allow us to canvass all of the issues that are so important to members of this assembly, because it really deals with the expenditures of all of the ministries of the Ontario government. Heaven knows we need to go after those expenditures to see where they've been cut too much, what effect they're having on the people of this province. The poor Minister of Environment had to head off to the United States and tell everybody he'd cut his expenditures by one third, cut his staff by one third. That's the kind of thing we have to debate in this motion. It's most unfortunate we have to do it so late in the month of April.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I too am somewhat surprised. I marvel at the lack of responsibility, speaking on behalf of the government, of the messenger, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. At the 11th hour he comes and says, "Beware that if you don't pass this supply motion in a hurry, the welfare recipients, those who have less, will not get their cheques, because it takes four or five days for finance to cut a cheque."

On the road to Damascus, indeed. There was no concern a few months back, a year and a half ago perhaps, when under regulation welfare recipients were cut by 21.6%. But suddenly the government says, "Yes, you must hurry and you must pass the bill so people can get their cheques."

I can understand why they are in a hurry to have the supply motion adopted and supported, because I'm looking at the Ontario Finances, the quarterly update, of December 31, 1996. It tells a pretty sad story. They need the money, they need it now, and they need it big time, because their expenses are at an annual rate of $54.9 billion.

This is a government that is spending more. In spite of all their mean, deliberate, systematic cuts, they're still spending more than the year before, and substantially so, some $600 million more. Obviously they can't manage the store. They cannot manage state expenses. Now they're in a hurry, and they're telling the Liberals and the NDP: "Please help us out of our dilemma. We have overspent by some $600 million. We can't get the books in order."

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further comments or questions?

Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I wanted to speak and to compliment the Minister of Finance on this timely motion. He wanted, of course, to get it in last week and wasn't given that kind of permission from the other parties that would have accommodated the orderly type of business that this government has demonstrated. So I wanted to compliment him on bringing it forward today and making sure that the business of this government is done in a businesslike way from day to day, from week to week, from month to month and will accomplish those things.

After all, it was about two years ago that we promised the people of Ontario jobs and prosperity and a better future and some hope. We are leading towards that. I would just like to say that not only is this a timely announcement but the budget is being planned for May 6, and this will just accommodate the interim period. It's quite a straightforward, regulated way of doing business in a businesslike manner. So I just wanted to compliment the Minister of Finance on this very, very timely motion.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I appreciate the comments from the member for Perth. I used to be in business myself, and I've never seen anybody try to run a business like this. It's sort of like, "We've got to meet the payroll, what, on Wednesday?" and this is coming as a complete surprise to the government. "Oh, my gosh, we'd better go to our bankers," the public, "and get the money."

They say, "Well, we could have done this last Thursday." Any sensible businessperson, my business friends, they get their line of credit in place not two days before, not a week before, but several weeks before.

I say to my business friends out there, many of whom are very supportive, I might say, of the revolution, I know you think they can run government like a business, but I'll just tell you, we sit here and watch them giving business a bad name. Here's an example. Member for Perth, would you ever have run a business where two days before you need to meet the payroll and all the expenses, you're scrambling around trying to get approval from the bankers? As I say, the banker in this case is the public. So the minister today is saying, "Please give it to us, because the cheques are going to be bouncing so high around the province if you don't."

To my friends in the business community watching this, it must be a bit embarrassing for you. As I say, it's a bit like eating in a fine restaurant, to my business friends. You don't want to go in the kitchen and see how this stuff is being made by the government, because it's not a pretty sight, and this is an example: trying to get approval in a matter of hours for hundreds of millions of dollars. It's sort of like running to the bank and saying: "Listen, my cheques are going to bounce. Please, please, sign right away."

The gun is to our head. We'll have to sign, and we will sign. But it's sure no way to run a business, in my opinion.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Interjection: Response by the minister?

The Acting Speaker: Excuse me. He's not in his seat at the moment, so we'll continue with debate. Member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I wonder if I might have unanimous consent from the House to share my time -- I have 90 minutes, as the critic, to speak -- with my colleagues.

The Acting Speaker: Can you tell me which colleagues you're sharing your time with?

Mr Phillips: Mr Bradley and Ms Pupatello.

The Acting Speaker: St Catharines and Windsor-Sandwich? Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that; I really do. Just to begin the debate on supply, and as we said in the exchange we had just a few moments ago, we understand the need for the government to get approval to supply, and we certainly will be cooperative in that. I might say that I hope the public understand there is a need for some debate on it. You're asking for hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Hardworking, taxpaying, decent people have to pay this money. I think they would expect at least some debate around the merits of it. I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the aspects that I think the public are now aware of in terms of why the government needs this money.

The first thing I want to talk about is what we call around here the downloading, the dumping, putting provincial expenses onto the municipal property taxpayer. I think this is going to be a huge issue over the next two years. I think the government, by the way, is making a fundamental mistake.

Just so we're all aware and the public is aware, the government, quite to the surprise of virtually everyone in the province, decided they were going to dump 100% of ambulance service, 100% of the public health services and 100% of social housing. I might add that well over half of all of the housing is for senior citizens. So at a time when we all know that that population is growing, when the demands are, as we all know, going to increase, and actually increase quite significantly over the next few years, that's all being moved off the province and the responsibility moved from the broader public right onto property taxes, 100% of it.

So when the seniors in my area say, "What's going on down at Queen's Park, Gerry?" I say, "Are you aware that, while Mike Harris promised he wouldn't do this, they're dumping all of these seniors' apartments onto the property tax?" They're dumping half of long-term care, meaning the services for seniors in their homes and in nursing homes and in homes for the aged, and half of the social assistance. Remember that a large number of people who are on social assistance are children, young people, who rely on social assistance for their clothing, for their housing, for their food, for their shelter, for all of those things. Half of that is going to be dumped onto property tax. The problem with this is that some of our most sensitive services are being taken off the province and put on the property tax, and you cannot find one single study that's been done in this area that supports that.


The government itself appointed what they call the Who Does What panel, handpicked by the Premier, headed up by someone called Mr David Crombie, a well-respected individual here in Ontario. They are saying: "This is wrong. We fundamentally disagree with this. It would be a huge mistake. It undoes much of the disentanglement." That's a term we use around here for trying to find a way to separate services and have municipalities handle 100% of one, the province 100% of another and the federal government 100% of another. But Crombie and that panel say this dumping is going to undo much of the good work they had planned on disentanglement -- the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto, the United Way.

I personally travelled around the province and talked to mayors and reeves and regional councillors. The regional councillor of Hamilton-Wentworth -- a well-respected individual and, I suspect, a Conservative, although his political background is irrelevant to me, but I suspect if you were to ask him, that's what he'd be -- says the Mike Harris plan is fundamentally flawed. You cannot find, as I say, one study, one group, I don't think you can find a mayor, a reeve or a councillor who thinks this idea makes sense. It's a mistake. It's as clear as that.

I think I know how the government got into it. They said they were going to take education off residential property taxes. They announced that without looking at what the implications are. So now what you've got going on out there around the province is AMO, which is the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, a well-respected body that represents the municipalities, desperately trying to get the government out of its own mess. They are having closed-door negotiations.

By the way, I think it's a mistake. I think it's wrong that something as fundamental as long-term care, seniors' housing, assistance for young people, for children is being negotiated behind closed doors. As a matter of fact, I asked the Minister of Finance a question last Thursday on this and he said, "We really can't talk about it because there are sensitive negotiations going on." I don't think that's right. I really don't think it's right that behind closed doors we're kind of bargaining seniors' futures against roads, sewers and construction projects. I don't think that's the way we should be setting public policy. This thing should be out in the open and we should be saying: "How do we want this province to be run? Do we want our seniors relying on having to go down to city hall in tough times to try and persuade a council that they should perhaps take property taxes up when demand" -- believe me, this will really be a problem when we're into a recession.

There will be one. Who knows when? Two, three, four five, I don't know when, but there's no economist, no one out there who would say there won't be a recession in the future. When that happens we have, without question, put at risk our seniors and our children, our most vulnerable, because you can imagine, Madam Chair -- you actually were a city of Toronto councillor -- the debate that will take place when a recession hits and the councillors are trying to keep property taxes down so people won't lose their homes but the seniors are there saying, "We have an increased demand on our services and we need more help."

The reason I'm stressing this is that right now, as we speak, this seems to be heading down a road, and it is a mistake. As I say, you only have to listen to every municipal government, listen to the chambers of commerce and the boards of trade around the province, listen to the United Way around the province, listen to all our councillors.

I would hope the government would rethink this. We're in opposition and we're always accused, "You're always just complaining and you don't offer any solutions." In the Liberal caucus, as soon as this was announced, my leader, Dalton McGuinty, asked that we go around the province and talk with municipalities and groups that are affected by it. We did that. We went to 11 communities. I'll forget some, but we were in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Sarnia, London, Windsor, Hamilton, Ottawa, Kingston -- as I say, I'm sure I'm forgetting one -- Toronto, and without exception we were told by literally every person who came before us, "We think this is a mistake."

What should be done about it? That's what people want to know. What should we now do about it? What we feel is quite clearly that the government should stop the process of downloading. I know how tough it is for a government because you've essentially got to say, "Maybe the consequences of this weren't as clearly understood when we made the decision." That's the first thing. The government has to acknowledge and say, "Listen, we're prepared to rethink this." The government has to look at the alternatives, and I might say that the Who Does What panel, your own panel, handpicked by Premier Harris, has some recommendations that I think offer the potential for solutions. They should look carefully at that.

Further, what has to happen is that the government provide publicly the data and the impact. We in our caucus have been saying for at least weeks now, "Listen, let's have the information, let's have the data from the government on the implications of these changes."

Finally, the government has to slow down on this thing. Unfortunately the budget comes out a week tomorrow, and it's pretty clear to us that the government seemed to be heading down a trail of not being prepared to change their minds on this.

That's the first thing I wanted to talk about, the downloading, the dumping, the fundamental mistake the government is making. I am amazed that members of the back bench in the Conservative caucus have sat still for it this long. I can assure you that once this finally hits and the municipalities see what you have dumped onto them and the responsibility, and the seniors see what you have done, you have got a significant political problem.

The second thing I want to talk a little bit about is the impact of the financial plan on jobs. The problem with the employment situation is that we get into a debate about numbers. I will say, "We've got a significant job problem," and the government will say, "No, no, we don't; we're solving the problem." The only way I can see to deal with it is just simply to let the facts speak for themselves. Here is the document dated April 14, from the government of Ontario, Ministry of Finance, Mr Eves's own document.

You'll recall that during the last campaign the government said in its Common Sense Revolution, this document here -- the document was absolutely crystal clear -- on the first page, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years." It was categorical. It wasn't even, "We hope it will," or "We think it could lead to," or "If we do these things, it's possible." It was clear, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years."

If you take that literally, Mike Harris has now been in office 21 months -- time is rolling along very quickly -- and we should have seen, after 21 months, 254,000 jobs created. So we should have seen, as I say, towards that goal of 725,000, 254,000 jobs. We've actually seen 107,000 jobs created, so first the Harris plan is way behind the promise. I go back to saying that's Mr Eves's own document, and anybody is welcome to look at it, labour force and employment statistics for Ontario: 107,000 jobs created since they came into office and they promised 254,000.


The reason I raise this is that I think one of the key tests of this government will be how well it did versus its target of 725,000 jobs. Of particular concern to me, frankly, is that in the last seven months Ontario has actually lost 11,000 jobs while the rest of Canada has gained 88,000 jobs. The reason I raise that is the government has been saying: "Listen, we're in great economic times. Things are booming. We should be seeing jobs created like you've never seen before." But what's happening? Why is it that we've lost 11,000 jobs in the last seven months? I'll acknowledge, by the way, that March was not a bad month.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): How many jobs, Gerry?

Mr Phillips: Well, we now have 11,000 fewer jobs in Ontario than we did in August 1996 and the rest of Canada has 88,000 more jobs. Even with a reasonable March, we still have 11,000 fewer jobs now than we had in August.

Mr Bradley: Eleven thousand fewer.

Mr Phillips: Eleven thousand fewer, as my colleague says.

Mr Wettlaufer: How many jobs in March, Gerry? You don't want to say it.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please, the member for Kitchener.

Mr Phillips: The thing that really concerns me is the youth unemployment. Again from the government's own numbers, when you move into the Ontario young workers, tragically -- you can't see this at home -- for January to March, the first quarter of 1997, it was 31,000 fewer jobs. The youth unemployment rate is now 18.5%; for the same time a year ago it was 16.2%.

The reason I raise all of this is that the government, each time we raise it, says: "We're just fine. Things are just fine on the job front. You in opposition are fearmongering." That's a favourite expression whenever we say anything that is the truth but may upset people: "You're fearmongering. Don't tell people what's happening out there. You're fearmongering." But the government's own numbers speak for themselves.

We have been for almost a year now imploring the government to take this seriously. But no: "Everything's going to be fine. Don't worry about jobs. We're on a roll and the problem will go away."

I will predict two things. One is that the economy is rolling along not badly right now. We actually had quite a disappointing 1996, by all accounts. Most people thought the economy in Ontario would grow around 3% in 1996; it grew less than 2%. But that means that 1997, off a smaller base, should do quite well; we should see real growth in excess of 3%. The problem with that is that even with real growth of 3%, the government says when you've got real growth of 3% jobs grow at 2%; if jobs grow at 2%, that's about 110,000 jobs a year, way short of the 145,000 jobs.

So my second concern is on the employment front. Until the government acknowledges that this is a serious problem, we've said: "Here's what you do. At least acknowledge that it continues to be a substantial problem. Make it a high priority in the province of Ontario." I will almost guarantee that within a year Mike Harris will call his jobs conference. He'll finally take our advice on this. It'll be pretty glitzy. They'll probably have a nice blue backdrop. It'll look like the Conservative logo behind him there. He'll be sitting with quite a smile on his face. It'll be Jobs Growth Ontario or something catchy like that. But we'll be happy that at least, finally, he's taken some steps.

I will say that the private sector has lots of creative ideas. They're out there. Actually, an old classmate of mine, a senior person at a bank, retired and has headed up, as a volunteer, something called Careers First. It's a program designed to get young people internship programs. It's all, by the way, I might add, funded by the private sector. It uses the Internet. It's a creative idea. That's but one idea of many that are out there. But we're not going to take advantage of them as long as we say there's no problem.

I wanted to raise that during the supply debate because -- I'll make this prediction, by the way. Add up the number of times the government says "jobs" in its budget next week. I will be amazed if they don't say "jobs" at least 100 times, because that's the way to make people think you're actually doing something about it: Use the word a lot. Count them up. I'll bet at least 100 "jobs" mentioned. The problem is, we're only using rhetoric, and no real commitment.

I wanted to talk a little about a couple of issues of particular concern to me, and by the way, I don't mean that other members of the Legislature do not have the same concerns. I am concerned about the government taking its eye off race relations. I know the Ministry of Education has cut out a group that was responsible for helping to coordinate race relations in the schools province-wide, and I believe the Ministry of Citizenship has eliminated the race relations directorate.

I have a personal concern -- and I don't mean to say I'm the only one in the Legislature; I realize lots of us do -- that if we do not put the priority on this area and find ways in which we take advantage of learning from each other in this area and put some resources behind it -- frankly, this does not happen just by accident -- we are really sowing the seeds of problems, particularly when we see the unemployment rate among young people, reported here at 19%, but it's really around 30%.

I will say also that my old school, the University of Western Ontario, just announced proudly that tuition fees for the MBA program have gone now to $18,000 a year. I think I've got that number right. Actually, it came from a public relations release by Mr Snobelen, the Minister of Education, proudly patting the university on the back.

Mr Bradley: For the rich.

Mr Phillips: That's right. If we want to create an environment where a lot of our young people simply to not see themselves in the future of Ontario, you can start to see where we're sowing those seeds.

The presidents of the universities came before the finance and economic affairs committee, as many people will remember, and they were advocating deregulating of tuition fees: sort of let the marketplace handle itself. I can guarantee it will. I can guarantee that the fees for those faculties where people think they can get a job will skyrocket. We'll have many young people who say: "I just don't see myself ever being able to do that because I don't see myself being able to borrow that much money. My family can't get that far into debt."

I use these small but important examples: The elimination in the education ministry of the race relations group. I coach hockey too, by the way. I coach hockey with a police officer who is probably -- I hope he doesn't mind me saying this -- Canada's expert on youth gangs. He's an intelligence officer with the Metro Toronto Police Force. There's no question that there are organized gangs out there. As I say, if we take the resources away from trying to manage our race relations activity, that's a very foolish way to try to save money. If you want to look at where you invest money, it's in those programs, among others, that promote a harmonious society. I wanted specifically to mention that one, to hope that in the budget coming up there's some sober second thought put on that, because we truly are providing ourselves with, as they say, a recipe for a problem in the future.


I want to talk about a fourth area as well and that is the property tax bill which is coming up. This Thursday we will have what we call around here clause-by-clause. It will be the final piece of the property tax bill and then essentially it's gone. Our concern on the bill is this: Everybody in the province says there is a need for property tax reform. Sold. We agree. By the way, a lot of people say, "I really applaud the government for its courage," and as my colleague here said -- was it the First Brigade?

Interjection: Yes.

Mr Phillips: They had courage as well, but none of them survived.

I will just say that on the property tax bill the government has done little, if any, planning on the impact of the bill.

Mr Bradley: Wineries are worried.

Mr Phillips: Wineries are worried? Well, my colleague Mr Pouliot and myself were intrigued during the hearings, because when seniors and seniors' groups came in and said, "We're very worried about the future because if this means property taxes are going to go up dramatically, how are we going to survive?" Mr Ford had a good suggestion, which was: "Well, you can take a reverse mortgage out on your house. You can handle it that way." Sure enough -- this really surprised me -- it was only a matter of one or two days later that in the newspaper on this property tax bill: "Concerned Seniors Pay Property Tax the Easy Way."

"With the threat of megacity comes the possibility of increased property taxes. This will affect everyone, but hardest hit will be seniors, who already rely on monthly pensions and retirement savings to keep taxes up to date."

Then it goes on here to say -- it's a reverse mortgage. It is a plan where if you're a senior, you simply pay your taxes by putting a reverse mortgage on your property and then, as they say here, "This leaves the homeowner to enjoy the full benefits during their lifetime, knowing that it does not require repayment until they die."

The reason I raise this is not that we don't need property tax reform, but that like so many other things the government's doing -- including, by the way, today we're debating supply a matter of hours before the cheques have to go out. For the public who aren't aware of what we're doing here, essentially the government has come to the Legislature today, only a matter of about 35 minutes ago, to say, "Please give us approval to spend money," because the cheques have to go out, I gather tomorrow. As I say to my business friends, "If you were ever running a business this way and you suddenly went to the bank and said, `We need more money because we've got to send the cheques out tomorrow,' the bank would simply laugh at you and say, `That's no way to run a shop.'"

Similarly, on the property tax bill I will just say to people that the government has not thought through the implications of this. For the business community, by the way, I would say this: Something called the business occupancy tax is coming off property tax. Everybody applauds that. That is a huge amount of money. Some $1.6 billion, 11% of all tax revenue that comes into the municipalities, is business occupancy tax. Mike Harris proudly announced that's gone and he got high fives all around the Albany Club because that was seen as a good thing.

The problem is that the municipalities -- it wasn't his money. He gave away somebody else's money, namely, the municipalities' money, and now they've got to recoup that. Business occupancy tax comes off, and I don't mean to offend the banks at all, but the big bank towers in Metropolitan Toronto are going to see their taxes drop, each tower, by $3 million to $5 million.

Mr Bradley: They'll be happy.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says they'll be happy. Believe me, I appreciate the role of the banks. We've got world-class banking institutions here. We need a strong financial sector, all of those things, but that $3 million to $5 million per tower has to be made up, and it's going to be made up by small business. There's no question about it. As a matter of fact, an organization called the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CFIB, a well-respected, well-regarded voice of business, has expressed their concerns.

This property tax bill, first, shifts taxes dramatically from one business to another, and generally speaking, big business will pay less, small business will pay more. By the way, the government will not issue any public analysis on it. I gather they won't even tell the back bench the impact of this. But I'll just alert the public that almost exactly a year from now, end of April, early May, the tax bills will start to go out and you'll begin to see the impact of them.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt was saying how profligate the government was for not bringing forward this motion for interim supply earlier. They don't even have a quorum to discuss it.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate how urgent this matter is for the government to get its money in; it's difficult to keep the quorum.

I just wanted to review the property tax bill, because it is coming and the implications are clear: first, a shift from large business to small business, and for some quite dramatic. The government hasn't thought that through.

Second, the rural municipalities are particularly worried about this. They came before our committee -- actually, AMO came and said, "The bill has to be changed," because they are extremely worried about the amount of revenue they're going to lose.

I wanted to bring this point up as well: On the property tax bill that will be law a year from now, I just don't want anybody to say, "Well, nobody told us." If you're a small business person out there, you should be phoning your local chamber and saying, "What is going to happen to my property taxes with this bill when they shift taxes on the business occupancy?"

If you're a rural municipality, I think they've already raised their concerns. I hope the government listened carefully during the proceedings and is proposing some amendments to deal with those concerns.

Finally, I thought I'd spend just a minute on another part of the budget coming up, the revenue source, and then I'll have my colleague speak.

All the people in my community understand the need to get our fiscal house in order and they're prepared to do their bit, but I'll tell you where they come apart from the government. I say to people, "The reason the government tells us we have to put a user fee on drugs" -- my mother-in-law paid a fee last July. She thought it was for a full year, and then on April 1 she had to pay the fee again. She thought she was paying for a full year. I say, "Well, the government is saying they've got to get their fiscal house in order," and people understand that, but here's where the problem is: If our fiscal problems are so great that we've all got to sacrifice, people on social assistance -- if you've never tried to live on that amount of money, then I don't think you have any appreciation of how difficult life is when you cut somebody on social assistance by 20%. But the government says, "We've got to do that to get our fiscal house in order."


Probably a third of the hospitals in this province are going to be closed to get our fiscal house in order. The government has cut at least $600 million out of education to get our fiscal house in order. Students now are paying I think $18,000 in tuition fees for MBAs to get our fiscal house in order. "If that's the case," people say to me, "tell me again, how can we afford a $5.5-billion tax cut?"

I will say once again that people in this province who are making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year, $250,000 a year, are going to get a $500-million tax break. The tax break for them will be $500 million. There's no doubt the government will bring in the rest of its tax cut. This is why many of the government members ran. This is the Holy Grail. They believe government is a beast and the beast has got to be starved, and the way you starve it is that you cut off its revenue. I understand that.

I remember very well that the day the Common Sense Revolution came out was about six weeks before Reform was having its meeting to decide whether or not to come into Ontario. I remember that very well. There was a big debate. Do you remember that? Reform was going to run candidates provincially. The way to head them off was to bring out the Reform agenda: the Common Sense Revolution. It came out in May, their convention was in June or early July, and sure enough, Preston Manning said, "We're not going to run candidates provincially." Whoever negotiated with him must have been terrific. I don't know whether it was Mike himself or whom they sent, but the Common Sense Revolution kept Reform out of Ontario, because Reform said: "Boy, that's our agenda. There it is." That little document there won the election; no doubt about it. Reform did not come into Ontario. It was a coup for the government. Preston Manning said, "No, no, we'll support you provincially." I don't know what the quid pro quo was, but he seems a little angry about it now. The document satisfied the Reform Party. There was no need to come into Ontario because they already had the Reform agenda.

The reason I raise all of this is that I don't have any doubt that the budget next week, a week tomorrow, will have the rest of the tax cut. I don't doubt that a bit. Remember this: The government says it will not balance its books until March 31, 2001. Again I say to my business friends, if we're going to have to borrow all this money to pay for the tax cut, if we're not going to balance our books until March 31, 2001, if this year we've got to go out and borrow billions of dollars to pay for the tax cut, is that really a smart thing? The analogy for me is that if the company is bankrupt -- I'll use the business analogy because that's the only language of Mike Harris -- how can we afford the dividend? It's $5 billion, and by the way, every penny of it is borrowed until we balance the books.

Just on supply, we used to begin the debate on it and say that obviously we'll make certain the government gets the money to pay its bills. We would have preferred that they do it on a more orderly basis, but I wanted to raise several issues that we think are important in the debate around supply.

Mr Bradley: The members of the government wanted me to wear my jacket before I speak today and I will do so.

I want to start off where the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, who has ably dealt with the government in so many areas, left off, and that was the tax cut. I think the tax cut is fundamental to everything this government is doing and it is causing the government no end of grief in many areas.

I was at a gathering of people involved with education the other day and more than one person there was admitting to having voted for the Conservative Party and the Common Sense Revolution. A couple of them were people who said, "We thought the deficit had to be addressed, so we thought Mike Harris was going to be interested in addressing the deficit." I had to explain to them, impartially as always, that the government was going to borrow money to give a tax cut. In other words, when the Conservatives left office, they would be actually adding unnecessarily to the debt load and the debt total of Ontario. These people were astounded because they thought the Conservative Party was all about cutting the deficit and they thought that was a good idea.

There is a fair consensus out there, I would say, that people want to see some kind of restraint on the growth of government expenditures, but they were shocked to hear that when the tax cut is fully implemented, as the Dominion Bond Rating Service said, it would cost the government coffers close to $5 billion per year and that that money would have to be borrowed and interest paid on that money, so the wealthiest people in our society would benefit the most by the tax cut.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): You bring out the same old stick all the time.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Humber is angry as I mention this. When I attack the rich, he becomes angry. When I attack the privileged, he becomes angry. I fully understand that. But I say to him that what happens, Mr Speaker, as you would understand, is that the more money a person is making, the larger the sum of money that is going to be returned to that person in a tax cut. So the wealthiest people in our society will benefit the most. If that's what the member for Etobicoke-Humber wants, then that's what he's going to get. He can be pleased with that, but I'm going to tell you there are a lot of people in this province who are not.

Mr Ford: We're trying to improve the economy. You wouldn't understand.

Mr Bradley: The member says in a condescending fashion that I wouldn't understand. Let me tell the member that I have discussed this matter with small-c conservative economists, impartial people, and I've said: "Tell me impartially. You're conservative, I would say. You're a person who thinks conservatively on everything, particularly economic matters. What is the effect of cutting taxes and deeply cutting government expenditures at the same time?" Invariably they said it has a contractionary effect on the economy; not an expansionary but a contractionary effect. We're not talking about socialists, we're talking about conservative economists, people who all their lives have espoused if not Conservative dogma, certainly Conservative principles, who have told me that is the case.

I invite you to phone Dr Joseph Kushner of Brock University, who has fashioned himself on municipal council as a paragon of fiscal restraint. He has been accused, he has been called Professor Negative and Dr No, because on many occasions he has not supported, let's say, some popular expenditures. I asked Dr Kushner about this. I said: "You're a small-c conservative. What will the effect be?" This is what he told me the effect would be. He even introduced a motion at St Catharines city council calling upon the government not to proceed with the income tax cut for that reason. He also saw the consequences. He knew that down the line his municipal council would have to pick up the tab; as the province got the credit for cutting income tax, municipal councillors would have the unenviable choice of either cutting services even more -- and their services had already been cut considerably -- or imposing user fees, which do not take into account a person's ability to pay, or imposing municipal tax increases, which are regressive, because again they don't take into account an individual's or a family's ability to pay. He questioned this policy. There's a Conservative questioning Conservative policy.


What we're seeing is that the government not only has to borrow the money, but it has to make cuts far beyond what most people in the Conservative caucus ever contemplated. That would tell me why several members of the Conservative caucus were openly grumbling several months ago about the advisability of this tax cut. I see in the House today some of my colleagues in the Conservative caucus who have spoken out on this, who have had the intestinal fortitude and concern to speak out. They now don't have their jobs as parliamentary assistants --

Mr Pouliot: And $11,000.

Mr Bradley: -- and $11,000 that goes with that job, but at least they were prepared to speak out on these matters. I want to commend them.

I said earlier today I wasn't here to sow the seeds of discontent in the Progressive Conservative caucus, because that's not my goal. I'm simply trying to encourage others to follow the example of those members who have had the intestinal fortitude to speak out. They lose $11,000, and some of the people who have adhered to the Mike Harris policy very openly and enthusiastically have found themselves thrust into the position of parliamentary assistant. That is something rather interesting to note.

My friend the agriculture minister is here today. He and I agree on some things and disagree on other things. I will come later on, I want to tell him, to the issue of the new assessment for estate wineries, because I think he can be of help to those of us in the Niagara and southwestern Ontario areas because of the rejigging. It's not his ministry, but he as agriculture minister can help us out. I'll ask him about that a little later on.

What we're seeing as well is that unfortunately, as a condition of the tacit support of the Conservative Party, Jean Charest, who wanted to go in a different direction, was forced to accept the dogma of the tax cut at the Winnipeg meeting. I've talked to many Conservatives who aren't right-wing, admittedly, they're middle-of-the-road Conservatives, who said: "You know, we were hoping for something different. We were hoping for a return to the Conservative Party that we knew best. We had hoped that Jean Charest would adopt policies more moderate to the Conservative government." But the price of the tacit support of the Conservative government has been adopting the Reform Party policy of the provincial government of Ontario.

What is more ominous -- and I'm sure many in the Conservative caucus agree with me; some who are no longer parliamentary assistants have expressed this -- is the increasing dependence of the Ontario government, and frankly a lot of other governments, on gambling revenues. I see this as insidious. I see this as extremely detrimental to our society. I recognize there are people in all parties who disagree with me and what I'm saying, but I think governments all over are moving far too quickly into the area of gambling and they're causing untold, and some told, problems for our society.

Of course -- may I relate this, if I can, to the tax cut -- if you're losing revenue on the other side from the income tax, which takes into account a person's ability to pay, obviously you're going to have to get the money somewhere else. That's made the government more vulnerable to the argument that it must continue to expand gambling activities, the ultimate being, of course, video lottery terminals, as I have mentioned, in all the bars and restaurants in Ontario. That is the ultimate choice to be made. Unfortunately, that will be the ultimate in terms of causing social problems.

Another area I'd like to touch on, because it's important to all of us, is the area of closing hospitals. The government has engaged in what I call crackpot realism. That is, it has convinced people that they must stab themselves in the heart because somehow we are all guilty of wanting a good health care system. The government has convinced a certain segment of the population, particularly I would call it the chattering classes and some others, that somehow we must punish ourselves in the field of health care to help meet the fiscal requirements of this government, particularly to meet the tax cut this government is giving out.

Early on what happened was they intimidated health councils and they intimidated individual hospitals into virtual silence while various restructuring committees went around the province determining which hospitals must close. If you're wondering why local restructuring committees would recommend the closing of hospitals, they were told, as in the case of Niagara, that Niagara hospitals were going to be cut in their operating budgets by a further $44 million on top of the onerous cuts that had already been imposed. You can imagine, then, and it wouldn't surprise you that local restructuring commissions would then be recommending the closing of hospitals, much to the chagrin of those who know that we will need those hospitals in the years to come.

Then what happens is the report comes out. Initially, the winners -- that is, those who are either getting more out of this or are not adversely impacted -- quietly support or moderately support the recommendations, whereas the losers, those who are going to be closed, begin a campaign against that edict that they shall be closed.

The most difficult part, and the one which brings great anger to me, is the divide-and-conquer stage. We will reach that in St Catharines now. The crackpot realism will set in to the hospitals affected. So where before they would say, "We would like to keep our services going. We would like to keep our hospital," the fingers will now point at the other hospital. In my community of St Catharines, the various hospitals will say, "I guess if you're going to close hospitals, you should close the other hospital." So we have a bitter dispute that develops in the community.

My contention is that in St Catharines and the Niagara region we shouldn't be closing any hospitals. It is a contention borne out by Dr David Foot, one of the authors of the best-selling book Boom, Bust and Echo. When asked at Brock University during a public forum, "Dr Foot, what advice would you give to the Harris administration, the government of Ontario at present, for the Niagara region, taking into consideration the demographics of the Niagara region?" which is a boom, bust, bust -- in other words, a boom in population and no increase in population after that in terms of young people -- he gave a one-sentence answer. He said, "Don't close hospitals."

I think he was echoing what Premier Harris said during the election campaign in 1995. In May 1995, he was asked by Robert Fisher of Global Television during the leaders' debate the following question: "Do you think you will be closing hospitals as part of your program?" or words to that effect. Premier Mike Harris, then leader of the Conservative Party, said, "Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you it's not my plan to close hospitals." No doubt Dr Foot, author of Boom, Bust and Echo, must have been encouraged by the comment of the Premier. Of course, the spin doctors of this government, the publicists of this government, like to contend, "If you agree with them or not, at least they're doing what they said they were going to do."


They said that they were not going to close hospitals, that it was not in their plan to close hospitals, and yet right across this province we are ridiculously closing hospitals. We are shrinking the resources to existing hospitals to the extent that people will say, "I guess our only option is that we've got to consolidate," when in fact we should be providing good hospital care in a multiplicity of buildings.

My contention is that you will get an argument among people on government expenditures in a lot of areas. Some will say you should, some will say you shouldn't, and that's a fair debate. If you look at such things as public transportation, for instance, there are those, such as myself, who believe that's a good investment, but there are others who will contend it isn't a good investment and I think you would have a good debate take place.

When it comes to health care, however, my suggestion would be that the overwhelming number of people would agree that an investment in health care is a good investment. I know we can argue about how much and on what, but I'm telling you this government is moving in exactly the wrong direction by closing hospitals. The government should be doing what Mike Harris said during the election campaign: not closing hospitals.

I can tell you I stand up for all the hospitals in the Niagara region, the Hotel Dieu, the General and the Shaver in St Catharines, Niagara Falls hospital, Welland hospital and the ones they're going to close, West Lincoln in Grimsby, Douglas Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, the Port Colborne hospital, the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital. You have to understand that the Niagara region has, in Canada, the highest portion of people per capita over the age of 55. We can't be closing hospitals in the Niagara region.

Anybody who has been in the hospital -- I've talked to people who themselves have been in the hospital, or had friends or relatives -- will tell you it's a far different experience in 1997, say, than seven years ago, even five years ago. It's not the fault of the employees of the hospital. They are literally run ragged, run off their feet, trying to meet the needs of their patients. Their heart is still in it, their mind is still on the job, but there are so few of them to do the job that care is deteriorating.

When I hear people say, administrators too, "We're going to cut by 200 or 300 people" the number of people working in a hospital and then say they're going to do as good a job, they're simply not going to do it, and I think people would agree with that.

Health expenditures, then, are going to be important ones to watch. I hope members of the government caucus, behind closed doors -- I know not many of them want to speak out now because I know when they speak out they lose $11,000; they lose their opportunity to be a parliamentary assistant, so I understand it. But I just ask that behind closed doors in the government caucus you make sure you tell the Premier that you want him to keep his promise not to close hospitals and that you want to see them adequately funded. If you do that, you'll be doing your job.

Let me touch on a couple of other areas. I don't have as much time as I would like to be able to do so, but I'm looking at your attack on education at this time, another whipping person, I guess you have to say, in this case, that you have. I have told this story before, but there may be members who have not heard it yet.

Mr Ford: I want you to.

Mr Bradley: The member for Humber wants me to, he says. I well remember when Dianne Cunningham came to St Catharines. Remember that one? She spoke to the teachers' federation, gave a moderate, reasonable, responsible speech to them. While they might not have agreed with everything she said, they thought, "Here's a person who is dedicated to education."

On the same day the Premier of this province, then-leader of the Conservative Party, was speaking to the Rotary Club in St Catharines, and he had an entirely different message. He must have thought he had a different audience. It shows how out of date the Premier is, because as one of my friends from the Rotary Club noted to me on the weekend, not everybody in the Rotary Club by any means would be agreeing with everything the Premier would have to say about education. But it was an audience he used to attack education and the people in it, dedicated people who have given service over the years.

He decided to attack it and there was the problem: Dianne Cunningham, moderate, middle of the road, reasonable, responsible; and the leader of the Reform-Conservative party, Mike Harris, out there attacking. It's effective. I want to say to you that it's effective, because there are people who have a certain resentment about education and people in it. They'll say, "One thing I'll say about that Harris, I don't like the guy, but he's putting those teachers in their place." All you have to do is replace the word "teachers" with somebody else, and that's exactly what they're saying. That's why it's successful. I ask the member for Lake Nipigon if he believes that.

Mr Pouliot: I believe you, sir.

Mr Bradley: The member for Lake Nipigon agrees with me in that regard.

So we're back to the intimidation factor. We're back to creating a crisis. You will well remember the first thing the Minister of Education said, caught on the tape behind closed doors saying it: "We have to create a crisis, create a chaotic situation, so that the people will then accept our answers to those questions."

He has divided and conquered. He's got people in education now pointing fingers at one another, "Close that school, not this school; cut their expenditures, not our expenditures; it's the trustees' fault; it's the other board's fault; it's the people who want adult education; it's the people who want junior kindergarten," when they should be pointing to Toronto because that's where the problem is originating, that is where the problem is being caused.

This divide and conquer will not continue to work. I know, for instance, very vulnerable people, the custodial staff, secretarial staff, clerical staff, many people who are non-instructional people in education, have had their positions downgraded and denigrated by the Conservative government of Ontario. They are concerned that there is this attack. They're saying, "Look, keep the tax cut that Mike Harris is giving to the rich, keep the tax cut that the people in the Albany Club think is reasonable, and please invest it in health care and education."

Mr Ford: You didn't talk about the federals cutting $2 million in health care.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order.

Mr Bradley: The barracking from the right wing of the Conservative Party is a clear indication they don't agree with that. So we see an attack on education, we see attack on other areas.

I've talked to some municipal councillors. They're eager. They're rubbing their hands getting ready, rolling up their sleeves, saying: "Let's get on with the infrastructure program. But you know what we want to do? We want to be the ones to determine what the projects shall be." They're the local level of government. They're closest to the people. They know best the needs. But our friends in the provincial government are saying, "Oh, no, we're not going to agree to any infrastructure program unless we dictate what those projects shall be."

I believe it should be the municipalities that should be pointing out those priorities and moving forward. I hope we can resolve this matter. I really hope we can resolve it because we need that infrastructure renewal. Even though there were election ads last campaign where they made fun of infrastructure renewal, I think a lot of people saw how important it was. One of the things we could say in Ontario over the years, no matter what the government, was that we had a good infrastructure in place, that we kept it up to date, and that's what attracted a lot of people to our province. I hope that can be solved.

The municipal downloading: Even my Conservative friends on local councils are beside themselves over the dumping of all kinds of responsibilities back on municipalities and the financial implications for those. When some of them objected, the Premier said they were whiners. They were insulted by this, just as trustees on the boards of education, who were made fun of by the Minister of Education, many of them long-time Conservatives and really dedicated to education, are insulted by the fact that the Minister of Education and the Premier have downplayed their significance and have stepped on them, and that the government is now downloading on municipalities.


Even the well-known apologists at the municipal level for the Common Sense Revolution have pulled their punches lately because they have no arguments. All they do is get the talking points that you people get. I know that all the governments put out talking points, and you can see what the message is. "Oh, you're scaremongering," they'll say. You get the municipal administrators and finance people, and what do they say? "It's going to be a real problem. It's a genuine problem, and it's going to cost us millions upon millions of dollars." They've been a little bit silent now except the people who are looking for an appointment or something. They're not silent, but others are silent on that.

I want to quickly go through a couple of other points. The member for Windsor-Sandwich is eagerly wanting to get on today. Even though she informed me that she would be able to deal with her matters in an expeditious manner, I know that she still needs some considerable time to deal with all of her matters.

My friend the member for Wellington is here, a moderate Conservative. I don't know how he survived and got the 11 Gs, and he's a parliamentary assistant. There's one case where it's merit. I'll give him credit. But he would know that a lot of the information, a lot of the policies, come from the Fraser forum. This is the most ridiculous statement I've seen, but it shows what the Fraser forum is all about. The headline says, "Are We Threatening the Environment by Overprotecting It?" I was stunned when I read that. Here they are saying that you're going to hurt the environment by overprotecting it. That doesn't make any sense.

We had our environment minister on a trip to the United States. The last person who was in the United States with nothing to sell on environmental issues was Mulroney, and we've got another government in here, just like Brian Mulroney, going to the United States. My good friend Mr Sterling went to 11 states or something. What on earth would he tell them?

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Did he take his clubs?

Mr Bradley: I hope he took his golf clubs, because he wouldn't be able to tell them anything. What he would have to tell them, the Attorney General would know, is -- the Attorney General hides behind the newspaper. He's absorbed in it.

But what he would have to tell them -- my friend the member for Windsor-Sandwich would know; she's from the Windsor area -- is that we've cut one third of the budget and one third of the resources and one third of the staff of the Ministry of Environment. I guess he's going to tell them that's how you solve the problems, "Cut all your staff, cut all your resources, deregulate everything and the air, poof, will be much cleaner." That simply can't happen, and those such as the member for Humber who want to live back in the 1940s will find out that it simply will not improve the environment.

Blood products: I wanted to mention briefly blood products, because there are people who are affected --

Mr Ford: Scandalous.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Humber makes fun of this. The people who are affected by this don't think it's funny at all. There are some who are seriously hurt by this, people who have contracted various diseases, AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases, as a result of getting faulty blood products. What I think has to be done is full consideration has to be given to the appropriate compensation of those individuals and the development of --

Mr Ford: Should be run properly.

Mr Bradley: Again I'm shocked that the member for Etobicoke-Humber, in the middle of something serious such as this, would simply be barracking in a silly fashion from the other side, like the day he was making fun of people in the gallery, saying they mustn't have a job if they were in the gallery. I think that's an embarrassment to your fellow Conservative friends here, very, very problematic for them.

The last thing I want to touch on, though I have many others, is the issue of new books in Ontario. What new book is out? There's one called Open for Business, Closed to People: Mike Harris's Ontario, by Diana Ralph, André Régimbald and Nérée St-Amand. I recommend this book to people in this province. You may disagree with part of it, I may disagree with part of it, but I'm going to tell you this book has many revelations about the Harris agenda, almost as many as Shredding the Public Interest, which was written by Kevin Taft, a former employee of the government of Alberta -- two good reads to go along with the Common Sense Revolution. They may reveal an awful lot about the reasons this government is moving in the direction it is.

The last thing I want to mention is privatization. The privatization of the LCBO would be a major mistake. The privatization of the Niagara Parks Commission would be a major mistake, because I have this vision that you people want to see Disneyland North there. That's a wonderful example. A Conservative administration set up the Niagara Parks Commission. It has never had a cent of government money. It has always been a profit maker. It's good for the people. It has done an outstanding job. What do I see? I see it on the list of potential privatization projects and I am appalled to see that happen.

I'm going to share with my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich an opportunity to talk about these matters and to carry on another day with other matters of importance.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It's always my pleasure to give up part of my time to our House leader -- thankful that he is the House leader and can take some of my time.

I think it's interesting for the people at home to understand that every now and then the government does come forward with an interim supply bill, looking for some money to continue the business of government. It also gives us some pause to have a look at exactly what the government is spending their money on, or in most cases in Essex county, what they are not spending their money on. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is health care. Some of the other significant issues that affect not just Windsor and Essex county but are certainly right across Ontario are the areas of youth, jobs, children's services, the environmental commission, environmental issues in general, education is a huge issue, and I would like to mention briefly as well the firefighters bill and the move to privatize firefighting. If this Conservative government can, they will.

Just in brief, let me summarize for you what has happened in the Windsor area concerning our health care. Let me tell you that on February 27 I brought forward a private member's resolution, which was passed in this House, which was quite historic, we felt, because it clearly called for several things which those who voted in favour of the bill clearly understood were not happening to date, and that is a reinvestment in health services in Ontario. While the government goes forward through this mock commission that they keep claiming is independent and we know is highly politicized, instead they have cut services across the board, and in particular, the one that has had the gravest of effects is the $1.3-billion cut to hospitals.

Our member for Sarnia can relate to this, certainly the member for St Andrew-St Patrick can relate to that, and all the others across the way who have had hospitals scheduled for closure. I'd like to tell you just for a moment what it's like when health services are actually closed. Last Friday in Windsor the western campus of Windsor Regional Hospital closed the doors to the emergency room. What was very interesting as you drove by after 3:30 in the afternoon that Friday was that there were six posters, each a different colour, across the windows of the emergency room there, and on each poster was listed in various languages -- which really speaks to the clientele who would be serviced by the emergency room. They had posters in Lebanese, posters in French, posters in Spanish, posters in Italian, and each one said -- we're assuming all of them would find their way there, that they would read the posters and understand what that meant. We certainly have quite a mixed community in the west side of Windsor. We're assuming they understood that it was closing. You're assuming too that the advertising that was forced as an expenditure on the hospital to inform the public that it was closed, that they knew that not that day but on the following Monday a clinic would be opened, and that might relieve some of the pressure from the closure of the emergency room.

What this government did not do was ensure that according to plan in our community, the other two emergency rooms would be expanded to take the overflow from the emergency centre that was being shut down on that Friday. It did not happen, and today, a week and a half later, it still hasn't happened. So at about 2 am, let me share with you what the scene is like at Hotel Dieu hospital, right in the centre of the city of Windsor. We have five ambulances arrive, but there's no room at that emergency wing for all those ambulances to pull up, because it hasn't been expanded. There are only two ambulance bays, so only two ambulances at any one time have appropriate room to load the patient either on or off the ambulance.

Moreover, the hospital funding has been cut so severely that the other two emergency centres have not been staffed sufficiently, so you have fewer people working with more people, which would naturally result from closing the emergency room at the Western campus.


This is a perfect example for our ability to tell the minister -- even today in the House he stood up and he said, "You know, we're listening," and "We always respond to all the issues." What a load of crap that was today. Can you imagine? We have called the minister's office on a daily basis. We have written letters. We have sent postcards and petitions. The people of Essex county have spoken up and said, "For God's sake, reinvest before you shut down the services." This Conservative government has not done it.

Let me tell you, the only difference between Windsor and Essex county and where you live at home in your ridings is that you have simply had announcements so far. Just wait until the doors start to close, and you will see that this pattern is a familiar one that started in Windsor and Essex county and will continue right through Ontario. You are not reinvesting in services at the same time or before you are shutting down the hospital services, and it is folly.

Let me give you an example of some of the things our constituents are driven to do. This is only a part of the longest letter the Premier of Ontario is going to receive from the residents of Windsor and Essex county. You'll find these banners all over my county of Windsor-Essex. It says, "Protect health care," and we've got a number --

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry, that's out of order. It's a demonstration. The member for Windsor-Sandwich will continue without the demonstration.

Mrs Pupatello: That's some demonstration. I'll tell you, it's just the beginning, quite frankly, because things are getting worse, not better.


Mrs Pupatello: It's always surprising to see that the member who comes from the Etobicoke region would be complaining. You know, the day we passed the private member's resolution, in these balconies we had people who travelled from Etobicoke to be here to ensure that their member would vote in favour, but of course their member did not. I hope those people will remember that come election day.

There are a number of other items of interest. The member for St Catharines was mentioning this book earlier, Shredding the Public Interest. It's quite curious that as late as today in the House here at Queen's Park in the province of Ontario, who did we have as a visitor? The Minister of Health from Alberta. Why, how absolutely curious. In fact, this book written by Kevin Taft talks about the shredding of a significant document that the Albertans had prepared which showed that governments were being elected on the basis of lying to their people in Alberta. What they said was that the spending was wild and out of control in Alberta and, "We've got to cut, cut, cut," and when their bureaucrats went to get the evidence of that, they found that wasn't the case.

I was reminded immediately of our Minister of Education, Mr Snobelen, who said: "We have to invent a crisis. Tell the people. They will believe."

Mr Ford: You are talking about a crisis in health.

Mrs Pupatello: What happened in Alberta was documented in quite a good manner, so I would suggest active reading, particularly the member from Etobicoke. That would save you having to chat while I'm trying to speak here. I found that quite interesting. In the meantime, in Windsor and Essex county we are still dealing with significant concerns.

You'll find it of interest that I was out on Saturday afternoon canvassing with our candidate Gary McNamara in Windsor-Riverside. We have been waiting for a call, frankly. I think it's the Conservative government's responsibility to call a by-election in Windsor-Riverside. Why, they could have done it at the same time as the federal election and saved even more money. But I understand you're having a little trouble finding a candidate. I just have one message for the Premier: Quit calling my canvassers and asking them to be your candidates. They're saying no. I suppose you'll call a by-election as soon as you find a candidate.

In the meantime, we were going down Lesperance Road Saturday afternoon, and at every door we knocked on we would talk to them about what they felt their issues were in Ontario today. Every time we spoke to an individual who looked 50 or over, every one of them mentioned health care. Do you know what one individual said to me? One gentleman who lives on Lesperance Road, Mr Manzone, said, "They ripped me off for three months of my drug coverage."

This has been resonating, I know, in all your ridings. You, the Conservatives, made them pay an annual fee for this drug coverage. The annual started in July, but what they got just last month was another bill. It was three months early. They're forced to pay it again. In essence, they've been ripped off for three months of coverage. That is where the government is finding the money to save. Can you imagine? Our seniors have for all their years paid into a system and now, as seniors, they're being ripped off three months of drug coverage. I find it totally unacceptable.

In the meantime, I suggest good reading: Shredding the Public Interest. Think very clearly about what is currently happening to our health care system. The points our critic Gerard Kennedy made today about politicizing that commission are absolutely true. They are not at arm's length. The Minister of Health can go to his own riding and guarantee the security of his own hospital, and then he can travel to Grey-Owen Sound and guarantee the security of rural hospitals in that area. But not once has he come to the table for Windsor-Essex county and guaranteed good services for the people of Essex county. That is completely unacceptable.

I'd like to mention youth jobs, which has been quite an issue in my area and I'm sure for many of the Conservative members as well. Your Minister of Education and Training traipsed out there to Aurora to make this grand announcement. He forgot to tell the people that he was cutting $20 million from the youth jobs program. This, coming at a time when we have the highest levels of youth unemployment. We have more people who are not even looking for work any more, so if you included those numbers, over 30% of the young cannot find a job.

At this time, this minister, the same invent-a-crisis minister who has increased tuition fees by 20%, decided to announce a slashing of $20 million in one of the most critical areas this government will ever have to contend with. We, as Liberals, have admitted this is clearly a priority. We have called for the ministers to sit down and do something that's at least innovative, proactive, much like our federal cousins have done with their program initiatives. But instead, they chose to cut $20 million from the program. What they've essentially said to young people is, "Come on down to your local MPP and pick up one of these folders." The young people still have to go out and find the job. If they can find the job, they may or may not be eligible for a $2 subsidy from the government.

One of the things they cancelled, which we thought was really simply not on and clearly not a good decision, was the Environmental Youth Corps. This was one of the programs of youth that's been out for some time, wildly successful, and for good reason. It did very good things. It had young people working to test water, soil and air pollution levels. We think that's highly relevant. When you come from Windsor and you've grown up in Windsor, you know that's a significant area of concern for people.

When you have a certain area of town where you wonder what kind of soot has fallen on the car overnight and you wonder what it is in the air we're breathing and you have serious concerns about water quality, when you live by the Detroit River, which has the largest number of barges to-ing and fro-ing along it, the environment is a significant concern.

So the government comes to us today and asks us for more money because they want to spend it on what? Not on the priority that is of the greater interest to the people of Ontario.

We sit in the heart of the Great Lakes. We have major concerns living along the Detroit River. Yet this minister, who has just finished traipsing around southern states telling them we don't know what, has slashed his ministry. He has closed the office of the environment in Windsor, one of the areas that he himself says has particular needs of the environment. Jim Drummond, who was an employee with the environment ministry for years, renowned in southwestern Ontario as an expert -- you laid him off. Even today the Minister of Environment stood and said, "Even Windsor is a great concern." If it was such a concern, why did he shut down the office? It absolutely makes no sense and it clearly shows us that your priorities are completely backwards.


Instead, you take the time to come forward in the House, use House time, and talk to us about regulating lobbyists. Why would the government choose to do that? If there's one thing you have been inundated with, it's lobbyists. You just need to be sure who they are and who they're speaking up for this time around. I'm going to go back to the firefighters of Ontario and say: "Hire a lobbyist. They clearly aren't listening to the firefighters."

We had a committee traipsing around Ontario talking about Bill 84, the intent of which is its toolkit. Why do municipalities need a toolkit that has anything to do with firefighting? Because they've made such massive cuts to municipalities that they have to get the law in place to allow cities and towns to find ways to save money. How much money? Across Ontario, $1 billion.

You'll recall early on that it was our finance critic, Gerry Phillips, who stood up immediately and said: "There's a $1-billion gap here, $1 billion that cities and towns need to find, and there's only one place they'll find it. That's on your property tax bill." When cities and towns and all those elected municipal people decide how they're going to fund fire services, this government hands them the tools to privatize fire service. I spoke with the fire chief in Knoxville, Tennessee, and he told me clearly, "When you privatize, you will lose quality of service."

Mike Harris came to Windsor, I grant, and he spent 25 minutes in the city of Windsor during the last campaign. As a matter of fact, I think the engine of the plane was left to run while he ran to the curb of the airport and stood there. I don't remember him talking about privatizing the fire service when he was on the curb for his 25 minutes in Windsor during the election campaign. He didn't say anything about that.

Here we have firefighters worried that they're going to be privatized, and with good reason. If it wasn't for the fact that where I come from, our local elected officials have a very high regard for the level and quality of fire service provided in the Windsor area, they might be more concerned. But we need to ensure that for all the people right across Ontario, they should all have the availability of good, high-quality fire service. I'll bet if he'd said, "We're going to privatize fire service," Premier Harris today would not be sitting on that side of the House.

Let me speak to you a moment about education, because this is becoming a very growing concern as the public understands just what the agenda is of this government in the area of education. I have very particular concern that in one committee, which has been cancelled for the last six weeks but we understand is on again tomorrow, we're discussing referenda and preparing government to bring in legislation on referenda.

I haven't ever seen anything so confusing as the discussion the government members have on referenda. Toronto and all the six municipalities in Toronto had a referendum and they were 76% opposed to amalgamating into one city. They had a referendum, but you refused to acknowledge it. The government loves to talk about citizen-driven referenda. Well, they had one of those in Hamilton, but it was completely disregarded by the government. Does the government want referenda or do they only want referenda on their terms?

Unfortunately, as we do much looking and reviewing and researching, we find that referenda as an issue -- if you're thinking about Preston Manning right now, there's a good reason for that. He's making this a campaign issue: More power to the people, more choice for the electorate. What a lot of crap that is. Every organization or state or jurisdiction that has used referenda in their government has used them on their terms.

What will happen in Ontario if this government goes forward with referenda? They will then bring one forward in which you, the public, will give the government exactly the answer they're looking for. I am begging the public to please call your local MPP and tell them you are not interested in these provincial binding referenda. Call on your local MPPs to do the job they were elected to do. I'll tell you, this is a very sexy message for the MPPs to be bringing across: "We're going to give you more choice. We're going to let you have your say." You will only have your say when they tell you you can have your say.

That is directly related to education, because once the government binds itself in terms of taxes, they will blame you, the public, for not allowing the appropriate levels of expenditure in education. The result of that will be another very horrific thought which is already percolating in the caucus of the Conservative government, and that is the move to charter schools. Let me speak to every immigrant family in Ontario. If we ever move to a two-tier, charter school system in Ontario, we will ruin any opportunity for new Canadians, for young children at risk to have equal opportunity in this province.

Maybe the members themselves don't understand the magnitude of the use of referenda. I would suggest that they all come and sit in on our committee that is discussing that. We've given proof and we've asked many questions. The government refuses to answer them.

It is clearly linked to the right-wing movement that certainly exists in the Republicanesque thinking of southern states, certainly exists as a basis of the Reform Party. I know one of our colleagues earlier spoke of this Conservative government really being but a mask for what it truly is, and that is a Reform government. They have Reform-type thinking. They made a deal with the devil in the last election so that Reform members would not run in this election, because half the MPPs elected on that government side would have had two choices: run for Mike Harris, who thinks he's a Reformist, or run for the Reform Party. They made the deal.

Might I mention as a point of interest that if you have a close look, even when it's on the shelf, at the book Shredding the Public Interest, on first glance you could swear it looks like Mike Harris. It's not, it's Ralph Klein, but they're even starting to look alike. Now we should really be worried.

We hope to have much more opportunity to speak of this further. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mrs Boyd: I must say, the passion and dedication of the member for Windsor-Sandwich is never in question and we are never unsure of what she really thinks. She's brought out a lot of comments this afternoon in terms of the way this government is spending its money and the reason those of us in the opposition are reluctant to simply let an interim supply bill pass without commenting on some of the decisions this government is making.

As for the member for St Catharines, he always presents a very pointed point of view. I enjoyed his comments about the Fraser forum edition, talking about the kind of doubletalk that has become so familiar with this right-wing government, the questions: Are we threatening the environment by overprotecting it? Are we threatening our schools by overpaying our teachers, by having too small classes? Are we threatening our medical system by having too many services available to people? These are the kinds of rhetorical questions these Tories are asking all the time, and it is appropriate for those of us who are trying to protect the public interest to expose the duplicitous nature of those kinds of questions and to really expose the kinds of code words that mean, "Cut, cut, cut, so we can give tax increases to our good friends in the upper echelons of the income brackets."

As for the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, he probably, of all of us in this House, has the best grasp of what the government is really doing with its money and not doing with its money. He always presents a very incisive view to all of us when it has to do with the spending of public finances.

I want to commend all the members from the opposition party for their comments this afternoon. They have certainly gone a long way to exposing this government's duplicity.

Mr Michael Brown: I feel compelled to comment on the speeches by the members for Scarborough-Agincourt, St Catharines and Windsor-Sandwich as they very articulately put forward some of the shortcomings of the government's fiscal and social policy.

A couple of things are of particular concern to my constituents. One of those would be the state of health care, and particularly I think the state of long-term care in the constituency. There is great difficulty throughout the constituency understanding how municipalities will be able to take care of the elderly and the sick under the downloading program of the government, which will force municipalities to pay 50% of the cost of long-term care. We clearly, in a constituency such as Algoma-Manitoulin, do not have the resources to properly look after these folks, and we're already seeing difficulties at Manitoulin Centennial Manor and the other facilities throughout the constituency. I just want to flag that as something the government is going to have to pay more attention to.


But I want to speak particularly about the infrastructure program, because the infrastructure program that this government turned down, the Conservative government turned down, had been accepted by nine other provinces. Everybody else thought it was all right, but Mike Harris didn't. That is a very significant and important program. Ask the township of the Spanish River that has a bridge out, that can't replace the bridge. They need the infrastructure program to be able to do that. If you ask any of the other municipalities, they would have necessary projects that they can't do because the infrastructure program is not there and the funding that they used to receive from the provincial government evaporated long ago. I just want the government to reconsider and get our projects done.

Mr Pouliot: I too would agree and would like to commend the members of the official opposition, those for Windsor-Sandwich, St Catharines and Scarborough-Agincourt. The policies of the government are responsible for evoking such passion and in some cases, yes, hatred from members in all communities in Ontario, in all walks of life.

It's obvious that in a period of less than two years what we have been subjected to, all 11 million people in this great, vast and magnificent province, is a true revolution, a revolution that has spared hardly anyone, where the light at the end of the tunnel is that of a freight train, led by members of the First Brigade, and you will see them on a daily basis occupying the front benches, with the help of another cohort, their friends the rich and the powerful. Need you go to a hospital? Need you guide your sons and daughters at primary and post-secondary school? You know a neighbour in need of social assistance? We know a widow in need of prescribed drugs. Every one of them has taken a hit, some small-time, others rather big-time, deliberately, systematically, to satisfy the insatiable appetite of those who can run and distance themselves from the field.

Especially the middle class and the youth will tell you to a person that they fear, that they know, that the system that is being put to them is provocative and hurtful.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): The old maxim: No supply without an address of grievance, and my grievance today is for those thousands of rural constituents who are increasingly concerned about the impact of the Harris government's fiscal policy, particularly the so-called Who Does What offloading policy and its impact on services, for example, like land ambulances. Earlier today I raised a question because this weekend I met with a number of municipal and business people who are absolutely horrified at what they believe will happen to a vital health service, namely, land ambulances, under this new scheme of things. I'm glad to see the member for Wellington here, because he'll have some understanding of the particular situation that people in Renfrew face.

We are going to see over the next few months the transfer of the complete funding responsibility for land ambulances from the province to local government, and at the same time as that's occurring we are seeing an increased interest from big corporate private players like Laidlaw and Rural/Metro. The question that people in places like Denbigh and Bancroft and Barry's Bay and Beachburg, and I suspect in places like Mount Forest and Ayton and Alma, will want to know is, how many new user charges are sick people going to face under this new scheme of things? There is no doubt in the minds of my local officials that this new plan is going to mean, particularly in rural and northern Ontario, a reduction in service, a disintegration and a fracturing of service delivery, and without doubt a sharp increase in the number and range of user fees for ambulance services.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Response? Member for St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I want to thank the members for London Centre, Lake Nipigon, Algoma and Renfrew North for their very thoughtful interventions this afternoon in response to the outstanding address by the member for Windsor-Sandwich and the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, and my modest contribution as well.

I want to say that they would all be interested by the response of Bob Vanwingerden, who has written a letter to the St Catharines Standard today in which he has lamented the loss of the Senior Citizens Consultants organization, of which he has been a long-time dedicated member and worker. I've known Bob for years and years, and his commitment to senior citizens in our community, along with those who worked at Senior Citizens Consultants Inc, cannot be questioned. They have lost funding and have not been able to carry on, and therefore a growing number of people in our society, the senior citizens in our society -- keeping in mind that St Catharines-Niagara has the most people over 55 per capita of anywhere in the country -- all of these people will be the losers as a result.

I notice that each of the members is concerned about health care and other issues that have been forthcoming and alarmed that the government is pressing ahead with a very unwise tax cut while at the same time cutting essential services in the province. Not only the closing of hospitals, but where there's an existing situation, such as in Windsor-Sandwich, where the emergency care is not what it should be, we recognize that the Mulroney cuts which started a few years ago have had their damage and we're now seeing this happening within the purview of the provincial government of Mike Harris.

The Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Pouliot: I would with respect ask that we, as is the custom, split the time of the third party. I must seek unanimous consent to do so.

The Speaker: Who would you like to split it with?

Mr Pouliot: The member for London Centre, sir.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to split the time? Agreed.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Before we begin, my colleague deserves a quorum in order to do this very important speech.

The Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon.


Mr Pouliot: I wish to thank the members from the government, with their huge majority, who have chosen to return. I see two of them who have just been demoted. In other words, they've lost their responsibility, that of parliamentary assistant, and also a full $11,000, but when you serve the general public, money is secondary, so it doesn't hurt them as much. The reason they were demoted -- it's not a secret to anyone; the papers were full of it -- is because they dared say no, they dared put the welfare of their constituents ahead of the party line, ahead of the Common Sense Revolution, ahead of the mantra. They didn't follow the boss. They were told: "He's the man. You do as you're told. Otherwise, we will just cut your chance for promotion within the system." I understand some forward rumour has it that some furniture is about to disappear from offices; they're being relocated to a smaller cubicle in some cases, as far away as possible from the influence pool, if you wish. I want to wish them well.

They stood like members of the First Brigade often do. The problem is, with members of the First Brigade, people speak very highly of them, but they're all dead. So I wish some would follow -- not die. I mean in the political context; let's get things straight. But they're here, stooping to get to a quorum call so the House can be duly constituted. You need 20 members. They have 82 members: no big deal. With the map that you produced so gallantly this afternoon here, Mr Speaker, they shouldn't have any problems finding the House. Oxygen will be supplied automatically. Exits, like the Speaker has said, etc. The place is large enough to wheel in the food trays if need be. But you can be here even if you're semi-comatose to listen to the debate from opposition members as well. Still to this day they can have the right to express the views of their constituents, the philosophies of their party.

A mere three days before the cheques can be cut, the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Premier, tables a motion so that the money can flow from the coffers of the province to the agencies, to the commissions, to health care, inclusive of all perimeters: health again, education. Two weeks ago we reminded them of the pending situation, that the motion would have to be tabled and the opposition would have to debate and offer some constructive criticism vis-à-vis the finances of the province of Ontario, but they did not listen.

Ontario Finances, 1996-97, third quarter, quarterly update, December 31, 1996, originating in the Ontario Ministry of Finance, an official document prepared and presented by the Ministry of Finance, sanctioned, endorsed, signed by his minister, Mr Ernie Eves. Highlights, 1996-97, and we're looking at in-year performance. I'm quoting from their official record: The revenues are at $47.8 billion. That's the money coming in from all sources to the provincial coffers. The expenditures, the expense: $54.9 billion.

You have a gap between $47.8 billion coming in and you're spending $54.9 billion, yet you have the misguidance, the audacity to go and borrow. If this government keeps its ideology for the next five or 10 years, most of us will find ourselves in the poorhouse. What you have here is a government that spends, spends and spends again. What they've done is they're spending more money this year, in spite of all the cuts, than they did the previous year. Again, I'm quoting from the official document, the Ontario Finances from the Ministry of Finance: Total expenses at $54.852 billion up -- get this -- $662 million from the budget plan and up $644 million from second-quarter results, mainly due to an increased allocation to the restructuring fund. The restructuring fund is the transition money; it's a bit of the payola, the one-time reward for what's about to happen in Ontario.

The way things are done is about to change dramatically. The Ontario that was known for 50 years, 40 years, 10 years ago, will cease to exist because the revolution marches on. This caravan of misery, this lot of gloom and doom will make sure the right people, people who have the ability to run faster, people who have the means, get their due reward. In the meantime, we will experience an erosion of the middle class seldom experienced, seldom seen before, deliberately, systematically.

Oh, I know the government will say: "The Liberals in Ottawa, the federal Liberals, are cutting us, costing the province some $2.8 billion, $3 billion. We're not getting those transfer payments, so what's a government to do? What are we to do?" So they have a caucus, a few of them assemble, sometimes it's at the Albany Club, the Toronto Club, with advisers, with people in the know. Then they have the man, the Premier, who must make the decisions on behalf of the province, and the government spin doctors, those merchants of fear, will go across the province saying: "We're not cutting health care. It's not true. We haven't cut health care."

If you have a relative who should be in a ward or in a semiprivate or is fortunate enough to be in a private room, you might find her or him in the corridor. We've had a person, an Ontario citizen, being visited by his family and the person passed away the night before, the person is dead, dead, dead. Yet the cuts keep coming. Classrooms: "Oh, no, we have not impacted. We're spending the same money on education. We're spending the same money at the hospitals."

We can see with our very eyes, we can feel the anxiety, we listen to the fear. We know that if you're small you get smaller; you don't have much of a voice, you're not going to get a lot of money from the tax cut. If you make a commendable salary, if you make more than $100,000 a year, then you will see more money in your pocket. The more you make, the more you will see. But if you put your paycheque, your net pay, on the table every two weeks, when you and your spouse talk about the family finances, you're trying to stay alive, you'll be hard-pressed to see the difference.

You would have noticed the difference if you were getting a decrease in the provincial sales tax, so when you go to the marketplace you could say: "Well, it looks pretty good now. There's 1% six months after. There's 2% less I'm paying for the goods I buy." That would make a lot of sense, but they would say: "It's regressive. We cannot have this. Let's make it progressive: The richer you are, the more you make." But if you're a small consumer, an average consumer, poor, middle class, the elderly, well, get off the track because the train is on its way and it will not spare you.

We have a difficult choice to make: those who are powerful, those who have more, or the middle class, the average people. Mike Harris and the gang are moving up the food chain -- they're like Pac-Man -- to satisfy the $5.4 billion in tax cuts. Does it make sense to have revenues of $47.8 billion, your expenses are $54.9 billion and you must find $5.4 billion to give your friends?


It's like you, Mr Speaker, if you were to lose your senses, without resource, and the credit cards, Visa, MasterCard -- plastico would come to your place via your mail system and it would say: "Dear Mr Speaker: You have exceeded your credit limit. You've charged too much." And you would say: "Well, it's time for a party. It's time to raise the credit limit." Even with the commendable salary that you take in, you would be hard-pressed. Even a person like yourself, with the uniform included as part of your mandate, with a very plush office, I understand -- I've never been there -- would be hard-pressed and people would be surprised, the dean of the House would be surprised, that you had gone over your credit limit. You certainly would not go and borrow. It would be unwise indeed.

The government would have us believe that we're now experiencing, that we're now benefiting from a substantial recovery, that consumer confidence is up, that people are spending -- although they're not saving a lot, we know that -- that consumer supreme has returned to the marketplace.

The government would have us believe it's the best recovery for the past six or seven years, and yet I have with me an official document from the government of Ontario, Ontario Labour Market Economic Conditions. This is for February 14 this year; it's recent. It talks about youth labour markets. Those are people, young men and young women, between the ages of 15 and 24. Shocking. They're saying it's a recovery, things are getting better, but if you're between the ages of 15 and 24 the youth unemployment rate in January 1997 was 18.6%, up 2.3% from January 1996. The seasonally adjusted Ontario youth unemployment rate in January was 16.8%, up 0.5% from December 1996.

They're not doing their job. They don't care. This is the future of Ontario. This is in official statistics. It does not include people who have given up, people who are not a statistic. You're going up to 25%, 26%, 27%, people who want to be like you, people who want a chance, people who want to be like the others. They want to integrate themselves in the community. They want to buy goods. They want to look to the future with confidence. You don't do it with 25% unemployment among the young people.

Premier, go and tell them there's a recovery and see the reaction you get. Go and tell them things are getting better when they're not working, many of them with a degree. What kind of a legacy?

Mr Speaker, as I talk to you, I can see the pain in the faces of the pages here, because when they get to be, and it's soon enough, they too -- will it be you, will it be you and/or your friend who will be on the dole, lining up, trying to get a job or even a part-time, a jobette?

This is not the kind of recovery you're entitled to. The person responsible for education, the crisis management centre in one person, is cutting money from the classroom, cutting money from education, so that fewer people will have the tools, will be equipped to participate, to defend themselves, to integrate in our modern society.

That's the legacy of this government: splitting up society, targeting without any thought to a human dimension. You must govern for all Ontarians, not just those who have more -- they can well defend themselves -- not those you meet at the club, not those you meet as president of a major chamber of commerce but all people. Those who have less and are asking for a chance, those who believe they can have a full share in tomorrow's economy, those who are there, those who are post-working, the retirees, all those people must have a say, not only a few select groups because it has been decreed that we will have a big, bold move to the right.

Tomorrow when we resume this debate to give the okay to the government to fork over the money, to shell out the people's money -- it's their money -- to give it

back to agencies, or they'll take some cuts with a tax cut --

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Maybe we won't give them the okay.

Mr Pouliot: Maybe we won't. The dean of the House, the most respected person in this assembly, and rightly so, a former minister of the crown, a former Deputy Premier, is saying, "Maybe we won't." But if we do, because we're here to cooperate -- we're all in this together although they're giving us a bad name. They're giving politicians an even worse reputation; not an easy task, but they've succeeded because they shoot to kill, because they spare no one in their agenda. They are incapable of changing their minds as circumstances change.

There is so much to say, there are so many positive alternatives to present, yet as always nothing stops the march of time. There is so little time. Do I still have three minutes, Mr Speaker?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Pouliot: I have with me the document that was presented on June 2, 1995, during the course of the last election, when they were soliciting, when they were asking people for their votes, "Gimme, gimme." The election took place, as we know, on June 8 of the same year, six days after. It has, "Al Leach: Common Sense for a Change." This is what he was peddling, what he was presenting to people, trying to get the X in the right place beside "Mr Leach."

"To homeowners in Cabbagetown, Moore Park and Rosedale:

"Unlike Tim Murphy" -- I guess Murphy was the Liberal candidate -- "I own a home and" -- underlined -- "live in the riding of St George-St David. My party and I will never support the imposition of market value assessment in Metro Toronto."

Mr Bradley: Who said that?

Mr Pouliot: Al Leach.

Then you will want to hear this. This is what page 2 says, as I conclude -- the member for St Catharines will want to hear this -- "Liberals Milk Metro Dry." "When the Liberals were in power, they treated all taxpayers, but particularly Metro's, like cash cows. They increased taxes 33 times in five years." This is Leach saying that these people here, the Liberals, didn't do their job and they were abusing people. "Mike Harris will relieve upward pressure on property taxes by stopping the downloading of mandates on municipalities." He's not going to download; he's going to stop it. Talk about a volte-face. Talk about a change of heart. Talk about the veil of hypocrisy. Some will say talk about the big lie to get the vote. I'm not the one saying this, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: We are closing in on the end of the day and you must withdraw that comment.

Mr Pouliot: I will certainly withdraw the comment.

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

The House adjourned at 1800.