36th Parliament, 1st Session

L186 - Tue 6 May 1997 / Mar 6 Mai 1997

















































The House met at 1331.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): It's alarming enough that the Harris government is downloading its responsibilities such as social housing, child care, public health and ambulance services on to municipalities, a plan that will mean higher property taxes for hard-pressed property taxpayers, just so the government can deliver on its income tax cut for the benefit of the rich. Its full-speed-ahead dumping tactics have no regard for the hardship this will bring on average homeowners, no regard for the needs of the poor, the sick and the elderly.

Municipalities are justly concerned that their bigger share of the burden will have devastating consequences for the people of this province, but this government's bullying tactics don't stop there. In its blind zeal to find a tax cut, the Harris government is now dumping on to municipalities the added responsibility for helping seniors and the disabled, who will be hit the hardest by its property tax reforms.

I have this ad here which appeared in a major Toronto paper on April 30. It claims, "Hardest hit will be seniors who already rely on monthly pensions and retirement savings to keep taxes up to date." Shame on the Harris government. Instead of aiming to improve the lives of seniors, your policies are letting them fall prey to ads such as this, which capitalize on your mean-spirited policies. That is not the way to treat seniors, and I'm calling on the government to do whatever they can to alleviate the pain and suffering of seniors in our province.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Today I'll be presenting to the Legislature a petition signed by 28,000 people from southwestern Ontario protesting the hospital restructuring committee's recommendation that both the London Psychiatric Hospital and the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital be closed.

The people of London and Elgin and Middlesex are deeply disturbed by the prospect of both psychiatric hospitals closing before the end of 1999. They know the minister has refused to confirm the restructuring commission's recommendations that all operating costs saved by such closures would be invested in an ongoing way into community-based services. They know that only the minister can order the closure of these hospitals as they don't fall within the mandate of the restructuring commission's orders. They are confused by the minister's response to the member for Elgin on Thursday when, in response to a direct question as to whether the minister would close St Thomas, the minister responded no and then went on to justify closures.

What's more, the minister clearly is not aware that the hospital restructuring commission suggested that the St Thomas health centre in London maintain the governance of the forensic beds that the commission has recommended to be placed in St Thomas, and furthermore, that there would be no savings added by putting those beds in the general hospital in St Thomas.

The minister must make himself aware of what has actually been proposed and stop putting his focus on cutting costs rather than providing services.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I'd like to take this opportunity today to congratulate a very special constituent of mine in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain by the name of Susan Stuart. This past March the Rotary Club of Hamilton Mountain honoured Susan Stuart by naming her the Hamilton Mountain Citizen of the Year for her enormous contribution to the community.

Susan Stuart, an English high school teacher at Barton Secondary School for 27 years, has focused her efforts on helping to improve the lives of those in need. As the director of the cancer assistance program, she helps cancer patients cope with the fear of cancer. When Susan started to see that more and more young people were being stricken with this tragic disease, she formed a Junior Board of Hope, where she acts as an adviser to 20 youngsters who volunteer to counsel young people with cancer. Her concern in dealing with this dreadful disease has also led her to organize and run the annual Cancer Dance-a-thon of Hope, an 18-hour marathon which has raised over $40,000 in the past 12 years.

A volunteer and fund-raiser for the Ronald McDonald House, she also finds the time to raise funds for the Lung Association, of which she is a director.

At Barton Secondary School, which I might also add is my alma mater, she founded the Barton Caring for Kids Club, which raises funds and creates awareness for community needs.

In her spare time, Susan works with the Lady Hamilton Club, which promotes the Hamilton area at the Tourist Information Centre.

On behalf of the constituents of Hamilton Mountain, I congratulate Susan Stuart for this award, but more important, thank her for her contribution to the quality of life in our community.


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I rise out of extreme concern and frustration over the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism's failure to create jobs and business opportunities in eastern Ontario. The minister has been squirming on a promise that he will allow the closed provincial parks in eastern Ontario to reopen through partnership or private operator.

When I cautioned him last April 2 about the damage he was doing by not taking this door to jobs and tourism, he responded, "When the summer is finished, it's going to have been a very prosperous season for eastern Ontario." That was over a year ago. Not only did the parks not open last year, it looks like this season is going to come and go without the minister doing a bloody thing.

I'm tired, and the people of eastern Ontario are tired: the students who want jobs, the potential investors and partners, local business operators waiting for economic spinoff, even the potential tourists who want to visit the area. We are tired and frustrated over this do-nothing minister's failure to reopen the parks, because to move wouldn't cost the government a cent.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Sunday past, Mel and Thelma Swart and I were invited once again to the seventh AGM of Mel Swart Co-operative Homes down on Denistoun in Welland. As we met with those people, people who have been working as members of that cooperative, building their community, building their neighbourhood, we also sensed the strong fear that they and others who live in cooperative housing in Welland, across Niagara and throughout this province have of the abandonment of cooperative housing by both the Jean Chrétien Liberals and these Mike Harris Tories, would-be Reformers.

A whole lot of people have invested a whole lot of human energy in developing co-op housing. Welland illustrates as well as any community how important cooperative housing is to create fairness and balance in the availability of housing stock in any given community. These people are building homes, not just housing; they're building neighbourhoods; and they're building communities.

This government has not only abandoned them but treats those families who have chosen that lifestyle -- that's what it is, and it's a lifestyle that builds rather than destroys; it's a lifestyle that nurtures rather than abolishes. This government has abandoned them, regards them with disdain. Neither Mike Harris nor his federal cousin, Jean Chrétien, are going to be tolerated as they put the cooperative housing movement under attack here in the province of Ontario.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the new chief of the Peel Regional Police, Noel Catney. Chief Catney has risen within the ranks of Peel Regional Police, where he was most recently the deputy chief. His 27 years of exemplary service in local policing have given him a strong commitment to the front-line officers, with whom he enjoys an excellent rapport.

Among Chief Catney's career milestones are Police Officer of the Year in 1983 and 1984, as well as numerous other awards and commendations, including special recognition for his investigation of the tragic shooting of Mississauga resident Barbara Turnbull.


The Peel Regional Police officers welcomed the appointment of Chief Catney, who epitomizes the attributes of our finest police officers in Ontario. I know that under Chief Catney's leadership, Peel Regional Police will continue to provide excellent police services to the residents of Peel region.

My community is very fortunate that the fine women and men in our police force have chosen to dedicate their lives to protecting our neighbourhoods and enforcing our laws. Our police officers put their own lives at risk in order to defend ours. We are deeply grateful for their bravery and their commitment to public service.

I wish Chief Catney and his officers the very best in their new working relationship and I look forward to working with them to resolve any law enforcement concerns that arise within the provincial government's jurisdiction.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The grape and wine industry is of immense benefit to Ontario as a whole and to the Niagara region and southwestern Ontario in particular. That is why the repressive tax policy of the Conservative government of Mike Harris must be changed to provide our wineries with a fair opportunity to compete on a level playing field with producers around the world.

The news that the efforts of the Liberal caucus and representatives of Ontario wineries might be having an effect on the provincial government is encouraging, but the final details will be the proof required.

By making representations to the finance and economic affairs committee of the Ontario Legislature, the Ontario Wine Council has chosen an appropriate forum, consideration of Bill 106 on municipal assessment, to bring to the government's attention this lack of wisdom of assigning an industrial assessment category to our wineries. An amendment to Bill 106 may be the way to solve this dilemma, as long as it restores an agricultural designation for municipal taxation purposes.

I am again calling upon the Harris government to abandon this unwise and punitive measure affecting estate wineries in Ontario and to return to the farm assessment model, which is far more appropriate to estate wineries and consistent with similar operations across the province. The fate of our grape and wine industry is in the hands of the provincial government and only the abandonment of this disastrous taxation policy is acceptable.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Aujourd'hui marque le deuxième budget du gouvernement conservateur. Dans les deux années qui viennent juste de passer avec ce gouvernement, on a vu beaucoup de coupures dans tous les programmes nécessaires pour le soutien des francophones de la province.

Mais plus important, on voit l'attitude du gouvernement quand ça vient aux services aux francophones de la province. On n'a pas l'appui du gouvernement conservateur. On voit à l'hôpital Montfort, le seul hôpital francophone de la province, que le gouvernement traite cet hôpital comme tout autre hôpital dans l'Ontario en disant qu'on peut fermer ses portes sans avoir de conséquences pour la communauté francophone.

Ce n'est pas acceptable. On dit comme francophones de la province et on dit comme néo-démocrates ici à l'Assemblée avec nos confrères au Parti libéral que le gouvernement conservateur a besoin de commencer à écouter et à agir sur les préoccupations des francophones de la province. Il n'est pas acceptable que le gouvernement traite la communauté francophone d'une telle manière à travers toutes les actions que l'on a prises jusqu'à date.

Le gouvernement a l'occasion aujourd'hui d'envoyer un message à la communauté francophone qu'ils sont préparés à supporter les besoins et les programmes nécessaires pour la communauté francophone, comme l'hôpital Montfort, et j'attends aujourd'hui, avec ce budget, ce message.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I rise to inform all members of the Legislature that this week Buddhists in Ontario and around the world are celebrating the birthday of the founder of their religion, Siddartha Gautema Buddha.

A prince of India, Gautema often pondered the meaning of life and the cause of human suffering. He then left his family and the trappings of royalty to follow a strict monastic existence. After long wanderings, he sat one day and began to meditate under a bodhi tree. After a lengthy meditation, Gautema received enlightenment and became the Buddha, or Enlightened One.

Buddhist followers were taught the noble eightfold path, which incorporates ideas like right action and right thought. These ideals represent a strong morality to respect all living things and to try and live a good and thoughtful life.

Buddhism today is widespread throughout China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. Zen Buddhist meditation has become popular in the west and among Christians like the Trappist monk Thomas Merton.

This week Buddhists everywhere will observe the Buddha's birthday with special religious services, meditations and celebrations. The Buddha's message of peace and compassion is compelling to people of all cultures and religions. The Buddhist ideal of concentrating on becoming a better, more thoughtful human being is one that everyone should strive to achieve.

On behalf of the Ontario government, I would like to wish all Buddhist Ontarians a happy celebration of the Buddha's birth. Om, maney padmey hum. Hail, thou jewel in the lotus.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): My question is for the Minister of Health. Minister, the media are a bit abuzz about the idea that somehow today you're going to patch up the mess you've made in health care in this province, that somehow there's going to be some good news you're going to try to eke out around the health care system.

The Premier yesterday said he hadn't taken a cent out of patient care. I'd like you, as the minister who has taken $800 million out of hospitals, and much of it out of patient care, to explain to people today the impact you've had, to Mr Wa-li Akhras, who took his three-day-old son to Sick Kids emergency and had to wait 30 minutes for triage. Triage is supposed to take place in less than 15 minutes. His child died in his arms. His three-day-old child had half a heart and was discharged from Scarborough General less than one day before that.

Minister, $21.5 million was cut from Sick Kids in the last two years; $7.7 million was cut from Scarborough General. You're talking about Band-Aids today. When will you --

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

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): If the honourable member would like to provide the particulars of the case at Sick Children's, we will undertake to investigate that right away. The chief executive officer and the chair of the board of Sick Kids have said many times on the public record that getting rid of waste and duplication and excessive administration in the system is what restructuring is about. Sick Kids endorses the restructuring. In fact, if the interim report of the Health Services Restructuring Commission on Toronto holds up, there will be even more services available for more children at Sick Kids and a new paediatric network that will be very much headed by Sick Kids in this part of the province.

As I said, the Hospital for Sick Children and its administration have indicated that there has been no effect on patient care as a result of the savings plan to date. In fact, the honourable member is wrong. We have put over $900 million back into the health care system, much of that new money from the closing of other ministries. There's more money in health care today in spite of a $2-billion cut from the federal government.

Mr Kennedy: That's not what Mr Akhras wants to hear, and frankly, it's not what people in the province want to hear. They want some straight facts. You have not put $900 million back in; you promised it. That's not what you've spent and you know there's a difference. You know there's $22 million missing from Sick Kids and this gentleman was told that the cutbacks were why he got the treatment he did.

In Niagara region there is an emergency that happened on April 22 in a domestic dispute where a father injured his four-year-old daughter. The ambulance first went to the Greater Niagara hospital. The emergency room was closed to new patients. They then went to St Catharines General. That hospital was also closed to patients. They then went to Welland hospital. The Welland hospital emergency room was also closed. The daughter was finally accepted for treatment at Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines, which you want to close.

The workers say these bypasses are becoming increasingly frequent.

The Speaker: Question?

Mr Kennedy: One of them is because they have to treat people in emergency because they don't have nurses and beds elsewhere and they can't accept new patients in. How can you justify cutting more in this budget --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for York South. Minister of Health.


Hon Mr Wilson: Again the honourable member needs to be reminded that we have put $950 million into health care in spite of cuts from the federal government. The fact that the honourable member brings up cases today that are based on the current system when restructuring has not occurred I think makes a very good case, particularly in the area he has just mentioned, for why we need to restructure. We cannot keep having ambulances, as they do today, doing the bypass or practising what they have to practise now because of disorganization in the hospital system. The fact of the matter is that it needs to be better coordinated and the Health Services Restructuring Commission is doing that.

Mr Kennedy: Mr Minister, one of these days we're going to have to call in an emergency ambulance for the contortions that you go through to try and escape the mismanagement you've put the hospital system through in the last two years. This is Jim Wilson's hospital system we're talking about, Jim Wilson and Mike Harris cutting $800 million from hospitals and misleading us about what's going back.

Minister, stand in your place. You may not like it, but you're the minister and you need to respond.


The Speaker: Members for Dufferin-Peel and Perth, both come to order, please. Member.

Mr Kennedy: Mr Tymchyshyn from Oakville is not going to be fooled by you wrecking hospitals for two years and then saying it's time to fix them or time to change them or to justify something else. He went there, unfortunately, and waited four hours for a blood test. He waited there four hours with a severe headache. He and his family waited another hour afterwards for a test that's supposed to take 15 minutes. In excruciating pain, after five hours of waiting at a hospital that you've cut more than $10 million from, he went home. But unfortunately, Mr Tymchyshyn died. Mr Tymchyshyn died the next day.

Minister, we all know there are mistakes in hospitals, but there is a need for you to acknowledge what your Premier would not yesterday. Your health care cuts to hospitals have lowered the patient care, have jeopardized people in those hospitals, have made the nurses and practitioners deal under an extraordinary amount of stress trying to do their jobs.

Will you today tell us at least that you will do whatever needs to be done to fix this system, will you eliminate the second year of cuts and will you put in place a way to deal with the first year? Minister, will you do that?

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member is out of sync with the Ontario Hospital Association, which has pleaded with governments for years to restructure the hospital system. Again, last night in this building we had a wide-ranging discussion. There were representatives from the Ontario Hospital Association there and they got up in front of everyone and said, "The government's doing the right thing in restructuring the hospital system."

The fact that services have fallen behind over the years is exactly the reason that we need to restructure the system today. What's our number one complaint? It's that people go into a hospital and the waiting times are too long and the waiting lists are too long and they don't see a professional front-line worker often enough. That is today's system. That is the system that we, along with the experts and the partners in health care, are trying to fix, something the Liberals ignored during their time in office and something the NDP started on but unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, weren't in office long enough to continue the reform they started.

I think in your heart of hearts and your honesty of honesties you realize the government is doing the right thing. We are trying to ensure that we have more services.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question was to the Minister of Labour. Since she's not here, I will stand my question down until she gets in the House.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Minister, you will know that over half of all immigrants to Canada come to Ontario. Many of these are individuals with valuable skills and expertise from their home countries, but they can't get jobs when their skills are not recognized here in Ontario.

During the election Mike Harris promised swift action to deal with access to professions and trades, while the swift action he took, Minister, was to kill the cabinet round table on anti-racism that was dealing with this issue. You then followed through on repealing the employment equity legislation, which would have opened doors to jobs for people from visible minorities, and you then proceeded to kill the Employment Equity Commission. You closed the Anti-Racism Secretariat and eliminated the advisory council on disability issues. That's your answer.

In December 1995, you said here in this House, "One of the most significant barriers to equal opportunity prevents skilled people who were trained and educated outside of Canada from having their academic credentials recognized."

It's now more than one and a half years later, and all we've got is a spiffy Web site as your response. What are you going to do and when are you going to move on recognizing --

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

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): As the honourable member is aware, we have a very strong equal opportunity program that is committed to newcomer settlement and is committed to economic development opportunities and is committed to strengthening the opportunities for all newcomers to this province.

Mr Silipo: I have to say it's a fairly pathetic answer. The minister is aware of the importance of this issue. Her own leaked document makes some reference to the fact that the government is going to be leading the development of an academic credential assessment service, but all we've seen so far is just talk and a spiffy Web site.

What I want the minister to do today is tell us, in effect, what is her ministry doing, what is her government doing, to ensure that there is in this province a credible academic credential assessment service? She knows that Quebec has a system in place; Alberta has one; British Columbia has one. She knows that there are organizations in this province, including an organization called Skills for Change, that have put proposals in front of her to tell her exactly how this can be done. What I would like to know from her today is, when is she going to move to make this talk a reality?

Hon Ms Mushinski: The honourable member already knows that we have a very strong equal opportunity commitment. Not only are we strengthening the role of the Human Rights Commission, but we do indeed have a credentials assessment process in place. We want to make sure that it works appropriately, unlike the previous government, none of whose programs contributed to the effective and early settlement of new immigrants to this province. I want to assure the member opposite that we are committed to an equal opportunity program that will be effective and that will lead to early settlement and early opportunity for new settlers to this province.

Mr Silipo: When the minister says that her government has a strong commitment to equal opportunity, that's when I begin to worry, because then I just have to put her words against her record, and I don't take much comfort from that.

I would like to hear something a little bit more specific than that. You know, among other things, that there are organizations like the society of international veterinarians in Canada, who have pointed out to you that there are over 300 immigrant veterinarians currently living in Ontario, and they are facing incredible barriers because of the difficulty of getting their credentials recognized here in Ontario. There are additional qualifications required, additional examinations, with additional costs, and that's just one example.

I want to come back to your own work plan, in which you say that part of your 1997-98 priorities will be to lead the development of an academic credential assessment service. You're almost two years into your government. Will we finally see some action during the 1997-98 fiscal year or am I going to have to stand here a year from now and ask you again when this is going to happen? What are we going to see during this next year?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let me perhaps repeat to the honourable member exactly what our program initiatives are in citizenship. Through our citizenship programs and initiatives, we provide approximately $31 million to community organizations that support the settlement of immigrants and equal opportunity, including support to vulnerable adults, and community and economic development in aboriginal communities. We are committed, we have the dollars there -- he knows that -- unlike his programs, which spent, spent, spent, contributed to huge amounts of debt and provided no opportunities for new settlers to this province.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Minister of Labour. As you know, the WCB occasionally gives tours of its offices to stakeholders such as injured workers or employer groups. Recently, several corporate executives from Sun Life Assurance Co were given one of these extensive "life of claim" tours at the WCB office. What's strange is that Sun Life, like all insurance companies, is exempt from the WCB. They are not covered by the WCB. They are not stakeholders in the WCB. Their only interest is making money off the WCB. Minister, what was Sun Life doing at the offices of the WCB on April 29?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Obviously, I don't know who is and who is not taking tours, but I'm happy to take your question under advisement and consult with the appropriate individuals at the WCB. I will certainly obtain an answer for you.

Mr Christopherson: Maybe I can be of some help, because I have here a set of questions and answers prepared for WCB executives regarding this issue. One of the questions is: "Why is Sun Life here? What are they doing?" What is the prepared answer? "Sun Life is not here doing anything. What may have contributed to that impression is that Mr John Gardner, a retired senior executive from Sun Life, has just joined our board of directors."

Minister, are you prepared now to deny that Sun Life and every other insurance company have not had any tours of the WCB with the intent of taking over privatized aspects of WCB?

Hon Mrs Witmer: The one thing I can tell you for certain is that this government has absolutely no plans -- and I stress no plans -- whatsoever to privatize the WCB. Of that I can absolutely give you my assurance.

Mr Christopherson: Well, Minister, you have today, and every time we've asked, said that you have no intention of privatizing any part of the WCB. Yet we know that the KPMG study you commissioned said that 75% of the WCB claims processing could be privatized. We know that you're already implementing parts of the KPMG plan, without having passed Bill 99, I might mention. We know that Sun Life has been through the WCB offices and taken a tour of the claims processing, yet they aren't a stakeholder. Now we know that there's a prepared cover story, a contrived story, concocted to explain why Sun Life was there. How do you square what you say with what the facts say?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just remind the member opposite that, as you know, the WCB is an arm's-length agency. I would also remind you that it was not the government but the board that worked with KPMG and asked KPMG to do the study. I also want to emphasize to you that the board has very emphatically stated that claims processing is not going to be privatized. I know that was a concern, but the board has emphatically stated that.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the Minister of Labour. On December 6, 1996, you signed a new agreement with the province of Quebec to allow better access to the Quebec market for Ontario construction workers and contractors. This agreement was also endorsed by both Premier Harris and Premier Bouchard on March 7 of this year. In this agreement it is mentioned that a guide to the intention of the contractors and construction workers would be prepared and distributed as of January 31, 1997.

It is now early May. The construction season is here. Contractors and construction workers want to work on both sides of the border, but they are still in the dark about the new agreement. We've had all sorts of problems at the present time. I have a contractor here that was asked by the Quebec people for a $40,000 deposit, plus they had to try three exams. According to the agreement, they didn't have to go through this.

Minister, what will you do to ensure that the user-friendly guide is produced and distributed in the very near future?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I know the member opposite has been in contact with the staff from the Ministry of Labour, and I will just give you the information that's already been provided to you. Although we had hoped to have the guide ready much earlier, unfortunately, because of reduced resources and also because of the fact that there was a need for the guide, as you know, to be translated into the two official languages -- we now have a final draft of the guide. We removed it at the Ministry of Labour. We received it on April 30, just a few days ago. I can assure you that we are conducting a final review; it's going to print and it will be ready for distribution on May 12, in time for your contractor meeting on May 26.

Mr Lalonde: I was told by the Quebec government just this morning at about 11:30 that they are ready to go to press, but they are still waiting for your government's approval. Is the fact that your ministry has not given the approval because of budget restraint? Is it because we don't have the resources in place to do the translation, since the Quebec government information was given to us in French?

We have thousands of jobs at stake at the present time. Is it because of the saving of one translation employee that we are going to put those thousands of jobs at risk?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you can well appreciate, because this is an issue which has been ongoing for such a long time and which we feel is now at a point where we're seeing the resolution, we wanted to be absolutely certain that the English and French translations were accurate. As I indicated to you in my first response, we received the final draft on April 30, we have reviewed it, and it will now be ready and it will be released, as I said, on May 12. We wanted to make sure it was accurate.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary; the member for Timiskaming.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Minister, that answer's not good enough. Because you don't have the resources to put three or four extra translators into your department to get that paperwork completed, it's costing thousands of jobs in this province. Thousands of Quebec workers are streaming across that border; they're working in Windsor, they're working in Metro, they're working in the Ottawa Valley and they're working in northeastern Ontario, displacing Ontario workers because of your bureaucratic bungling.

Will you give us the commitment today that you'll put extra staff on that and get that brochure produced so Ontario workers can start to work in Quebec on an equal basis to Quebec workers in Ontario?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I think the one thing you need to understand is that no other government before us had attempted to resolve this situation. We have brought the problem, in terms of having equal access to Quebec for our workers, to a successful conclusion. We want to make sure we get it right. We don't want to get it wrong. That's why we are doing the job in the way it needs to be done. We're making sure that it's done accurately. Unfortunately, we have been held up by Quebec, and we have been trying to work diligently together.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My question is to the Minister of Culture. Your credibility as the advocate for the arts community in cabinet is at a shockingly low level. After two years of debilitating cuts that have ravaged the cultural infrastructure, resulting in lost jobs and the cultural industry being pushed over the edge, the arts community is now bracing for more bad news in today's budget.

The question that everyone needs an answer to today is exactly where the minister stands on public support for the arts. Minister, you were quoted recently as saying that continued public support for the arts may not be in the public interest. If that is how you feel, if your lack of understanding of the economic and social value of the arts is such that you see no public interest in continued support, you should resign.

My question to the minister is, if that's how you feel, does your statement represent this government's position on support for the arts?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Thank you, to the honourable member for Port Arthur, for your question. I will repeat, as I have said to him on many occasions, as I have said to the cultural community, my government does indeed value the role that is played by the cultural sector in our province. That is why my ministry continues to invest in cultural development through a variety of programs and activities.

Mr Gravelle: One can see why representatives of the arts communities are now calling for the minister's resignation. That was simply pap.

Minister, let me remind you, over the last 20 months you pulled 30% of the funding from the Ontario Arts Council. They're now operating on 1988 funding levels. Let me also remind you that you promised the Ontario Arts Council in a letter that their budget for 1997-98 will be maintained at last year's levels and then a couple of months later indicated there would be further cuts.

Ontario Liberals believe that culture does matter. It matters to the 82% of Ontarians who tell us that access to cultural institutions and activities greatly enriches their quality of life. Will you finally do the right thing, Minister, and will you agree today that the Ontario Arts Council and other organizations supported through your ministry should receive stable funding in today's budget announcement because that is in the public interest? Will you confirm it today?

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let me tell you what is in the public interest. It's not raising taxes 32 times by that government and 33 times by that government. It's about balancing budgets and it's about sustaining what we have in a different way. It's about doing business differently.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.


The Speaker: Would the Minister of Education say yes. It's budget day.

Hon Ms Mushinski: Obviously, they don't like to hear the truth over there. They can't handle the truth, as someone says. If I may just wrap up, I can say to the honourable member --


The Speaker: Just a minute. You're out of order in heckling and I can't hear the response. I'd ask the opposition members to come to order. I would ask a couple of my friends behind the minister that it would be helpful, if you're going to heckle, you heckle from your seat, and even if you heckle from your seat, you're still out of order, so it would be helpful if you could remember that. Minister.

Hon Ms Mushinski: Let me just, if I may, explain a couple of programs we have indeed introduced to assist the cultural sector becoming more self-sufficient. For example, we introduced the Ontario film and television production tax credit last year, and it is anticipated that that tax credit alone will inject about $15 million into the Ontario film and television production community in its first year. We continue to provide grants through the Ontario Arts Council to the tune of $30.3 million, and TVOntario, $55.5 million. The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre all receive stable funding. Unlike the previous government --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question, third party.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. As members of this assembly would know, and others throughout the public, your government is busily privatizing highway maintenance contracts throughout Ontario. In fact, up in the Cochrane district you are now tendering for a highway maintenance contract. Simply put, you're kicking out the workers working for the Ministry of Transportation who plow our roads in the winter and you're going to replace them with private contractors to do that work. Myself and my party are opposed to this, but I ask you this: Do you guarantee that the tendering process you're going through now is going to be fair and is going to allow every contractor the opportunity to bid on that particular highway maintenance contract?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Certainly I believe we have told the public our business plan. We plan to outsource winter maintenance and summer maintenance to become more efficient and do more for less, and that is certainly our goal. But I want to assure the member that if that is going to be the best resource Ontario has, we will not jeopardize whatever standards we have.

Mr Bisson: I would like once, only once, for the minister to stand up and try to answer the question. It would make this process so much easier. You haven't answered the question, so I'm going to try it again. You're tendering a contract in the Cochrane district in order to do the highway maintenance projects throughout that particular area. I ask you the question: Is that process of tendering going to be fair?

I just found out from an internal document of the Ministry of Transportation, out of your human resources section, answers to questions asked by employees. I want to read you one question: "Will offers of employment come from the contractor or the ministry after the contracts have been tendered and have been given?" The answer by your ministry is, "IMOS will contact the individual employees to whom they wish to make job offers." It sounds to me like the fix is in. You're already saying in your own documents that you're going to give this to IMOS. How is that fair for the other contractors who are trying to get in on this?

Hon Mr Palladini: I really am disappointed with the assumption the honourable member is making, that we have already contracted out winter and summer maintenance in the north. That has not happened. I want to assure the honourable member that if we are going to take that course, just like it has been proven in the Chatham district, IMOS, which happened to be the winning contractor, hired a whole bunch of people who worked for MTO. I'm sure, if that is what is going to happen up north in certain districts, that the people who are doing the work presently most likely will end up doing the same work for the private contractor.



Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): My question today is for the Attorney General. There's little doubt that violence against women is a very serious concern in Ontario today. Although statistics surrounding the rates of domestic abuse in Ontario are very distressing, I am pleased to stand in the House today and announce that the people of Perth county have taken the initiative and are addressing this problem.

Over 18 months ago, members of the community formed the Perth county Domestic Abuse Review Team, known as DART. This team, comprised of crown attorneys, police officers, representatives of Optimism Place, the children's aid society and Perth-Huron services, is working together to combat domestic abuse.

Last Thursday, DART launched a public information campaign to heighten community awareness of serious domestic abuse and the need to improve investigation and prosecution of domestic assault.


Mr Bert Johnson: I'm terribly sorry that domestic abuse doesn't seem to be a serious issue for those across. Can the minister tell the House the results of these efforts by the concerned citizens of Perth county?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I appreciate the question from the member for Perth, because domestic assault is a prevalent and very serious social problem.

In Perth county, through the leadership of the crown attorney, the police officers, representatives of Optimism Place, the children's aid society and Family Services Perth-Huron, this group has come together to develop a manner in which domestic abuse cases are prosecuted.

This group comes together once a month. They track cases as they go through the courts. They have developed a mechanism of ensuring that the best evidence can be brought before the courts. They have a mechanism to obtain sworn statements at the scene of these crimes.

As a result of these efforts and as a result of the cooperation from the judiciary, who ensure that in Perth county these cases are heard within three months, the success rate in prosecution of these cases is in excess of 80%, probably the best in the province. It is a project that has been undertaken by members within Perth county.

Mr Bert Johnson: I know my constituents are concerned about domestic abuse, and I'm proud to say that they have taken action to control it in Perth county. I agree with the minister that the efforts of DART are something to be applauded, and I'll be sure to pass on his support.

In the meantime, my constituents, including the students of Stratford Central Secondary School who are in the gallery today, would like to know what the minister is doing to ensure that the justice system is protecting women in other areas of Ontario from ongoing abuse.

Hon Mr Harnick: Again, thank you to the member for Perth. In addition to the domestic abuse court in Stratford, a very successful project, we have two pilot projects dealing with domestic assault, in Toronto and in North York. We have specialized courts that deal with this very pervasive problem. We have specialized courts that we have opened in Toronto and in North York to deal with it.

In addition, we have expanded, through our Victims' Bill of Rights and victims' justice fund, services for victims. We have doubled the size of the victim-witness assistance program. We've quadrupled the size of the victim crisis assistance and referral service. We have a community victims initiatives program that's providing $500,000 to community groups that are focusing on violence against women.

Each community is dealing with solutions that fit that community. Certainly Perth county has proved that's doable, and they're to be commended. We are happy to work with them as they develop these --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Attorney General and it regards the family support plan. Attorney General, you know this has been a plan that has been bungled, a real mess, and we bring case after case to you on a daily basis.

But right now I have a company that has a problem. It's a very well respected company within my riding known as Avenor. It's a company that has always gone that extra mile for its employees and has bent over backwards for them.

Minister, I'll send you over a letter from the company. In that letter, Avenor explains how they are being blamed for your mismanagement. Family support recipients who are not getting their cheques are calling them and suggesting that it's their fault. My research has indicated that it's not their fault, this is not the case and it's your mismanagement that has caused this.

In the letter, they ask for a formal inquiry as they want to clear their names, as I'm sure any other employer would want to. Minister, will you agree to their request for this formal inquiry?

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I have just seen this letter now for the first time. I will be happy to look into this for the member and see that if there is a problem it will be looked into.

As you're aware, the family support plan is now able to answer 50% of the calls that come to it, up from 6%. The family support plan is now disbursing more money at a faster rate than it ever has disbursed before.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): What about the other 50%?

Hon Mr Harnick: At the present time, we are disbursing in excess of 200,000 more, on average, than the plan has ever been able to.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Welland-Thorold, come to order. Member for Kingston and The Islands, come to order.

Mr Gerretsen: The minister is provoking me.

The Speaker: That's understandable, but still come to order.

Mr Miclash: If that were the case, why would I be receiving a letter such as that? Let me quote from the letter:

"It is a public belief that the payments are being delayed by Avenor Inc. However, after further investigation, Avenor has concluded that the payments are in fact reaching their required destination on time. The problem arises with processing the payments on time. Unfortunately, the problem has negatively affected Avenor's integrity and image throughout the Dryden community.

"Avenor Inc dry mill operations is requesting a formal inquiry into the proceedings of the Ministry of the Attorney General's office regarding the distribution delay of family support payments."

Again, a very simple request. Will you agree to their request?

Hon Mr Harnick: Just to satisfy the member, I can tell him that the plan is presently disbursing 12% more money to women and children now than it did a year ago. Some $8 million to $12 million per week is being disbursed from the plan, more than has ever happened.

As I've indicated to the member, I will look into this, I will get back to him and I will also make sure that we speak with the company to ensure that the plan is dealing properly with them.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. A couple of weeks ago your government made an announcement about more resources for vulnerable children and children at risk in the province. But in that announcement and in discussions with people who deliver services to that clientele, there's absolutely no mention of more money for front-line delivery agencies or service providers, particularly in northern Ontario.

Your government has singlehandedly done more to damage vulnerable families in this province by the reduction of 22% in the welfare payments to those families. When are you going to stop the public relations exercises and actually do something for vulnerable children in this province? When are you going to give some money to those people who are out there today on the front lines, in the trenches, trying to help families that are being decimated by your government as every day goes by?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): With all due respect to the honourable member, that money is flowing for our healthy babies initiative, which is built on the public health units, which my colleague the Minister of Health is doing across the province to help identify high-risk children at birth who need the supports; the Better Beginnings program, which is being funded through my ministry, health and education, that has sites in eight places across the province, which again is providing supports for high-risk families; the speech and language program, where we are doubling the number of preschool children who are getting support if they have speech and language disorders; as well as the Invest in Kids Foundation, the charitable foundation that does intervention and prevention programs for children; not to mention the money that we announced early in January for parents with disabled children, to help them support and take care of their children at home.

I would suggest with all due respect that we do have a very positive record on this in terms of what we're doing to support children in need.

Mr Martin: If you talk to people out there receiving services or delivering services, it's a completely different story. In fact, what has been announced by this government is such a pittance that when you compare it to the damage that's being done, it's negligible. The money really isn't flowing and there's not enough of the little bit that is.

Let's be specific. In my community we have a program called the infant development program. I was talking to the people in that agency this morning and asking them, are there things that they're going to get because of this announcement? They said, "Absolutely not." I asked them, "What have you on the table with the ministry that would be new and innovative?" They said, "Nothing," because they're having problems right now delivering what they have a mandate to deliver in the first place. They're under great stress to deliver the programs they're mandated by your ministry and your government to deliver.

Will there be money for organizations such as the infant development program in Sault Ste Marie to deliver much-needed relief to families and children in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma because of this announcement or any other announcement you might make in the future to help vulnerable and needy children in this province?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Part of the money we released in January that is going out across the province is for the infant development program. That is a program that has been doing some wonderful things with parents with disabled infants, helping them work with those children to give them a better quality of life and actually to improve their ability to function as they grow older.

That is a program that had not received new money for many, many years. We are providing new money for that program, and if the honourable member has concerns about it, perhaps he should have asked his own Treasurer in the five years when they were in government, when they chose not to give that program any new money.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for privatization. My question relates to the Ontario privatization review framework and the review of four government businesses which you announced on April 28, 1997.

My constituents of Durham East are confident that your review framework will be fair and reasonable. I noticed there was an editorial in yesterday's Toronto Star which questioned, "Why would the government consider reviewing entities which provide revenue to the province?"

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): I think it's important to understand it is government's challenge to make sure that the government businesses we are running have kept pace with the times. In reviewing these government businesses, I think we have to determine ways in which we can improve value to Ontarians in two capacities that they hold: as consumers of the services, and in many cases as financiers through their tax dollars.

Government entities may appear to be profitable on the surface, but in many cases it's important to assess what true operating costs are involved, the nature in which those operating costs arise, who pays for them and the basis upon which they are paid for. This is one of the items we will consider when we do the assessments of the various government businesses that we think are candidates for change.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you, Minister, for your response. I wonder if the minister could elaborate further on other matters which could be considered with respect to the review of other candidates.

Hon Mr Sampson: It's very important and a part of the process -- that's why we had it in the first part -- to make an assessment, and a very fair assessment, of the various options that are possible under privatization. Many people believe that privatization simply means the sale of an asset to one individual or to a corporation, and that's not the case.

Privatization means a number of options and alternatives that other jurisdictions have considered and have made work quite well, other options that involve different levels of participation by the private sector to make sure we can deliver to Ontarians, whether they be taxpayers or whether they be consumers of the service, fair value for their money and the right level of service that they have been asking of this government.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. We all know about the devastating flooding that has carried on in southern Manitoba, but here in Ontario, in Essex and Kent county to be exact, we have our own flood disaster. Damage to breakwalls and property in the last two events has exceeded $1 million. The township of Mersea asked you nearly two weeks ago if you would reinstate funding under the Shoreline Property Assistance Act program so that residents can receive a hand up as they cope with flood damage. Will you secure the funding for this loan assistance and help the flood victims in Essex and Kent county?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Yes, we did receive the request several weeks ago. The staff are now meeting with local officials to determine just what can be done. Everybody recognizes the amount of damage that was done as a result of those floods, and I will be glad to report back to the member after I have the response of the staff investigation.

Mr Crozier: Minister, I'm pleased to hear that. I'm sure Mersea township would like to hear an answer to their letter. I've checked as recently as today and they hadn't heard anything back. I've been in touch with the regional conservation authority and we've been back and forth by phone. They haven't said that your officials are meeting with them.

Perhaps you could tell me today who those official are, what the results of the meeting are, how quickly you're prepared to act. Notwithstanding what you might think, you can't control the weather and there could be another disaster today, tomorrow or the next day. I'd like to know, who have they been meeting with, when did the meetings start, and when do you expect you'll be able to approve some assistance to the residents of Essex and Kent county?

Hon Mr Leach: Again, in response to the member, we are looking into the situation. I told him that I would get back to him immediately after I have an opportunity to discuss this with my staff. This government has an excellent record of assisting people who experience disasters as a result of floods or fires or tornadoes. We have been very, very good with that and we will continue to be. I don't know why the member can't take yes for an answer. I told him I would get back to him.

Mr Crozier: You haven't been meeting with anybody. You just sloughed it off. At least you could be honest about it.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Essex South, you'll have to withdraw that comment, the heckling you made.

Mr Crozier: You mean about being honest about it? I'm just asking him to tell the truth. I'll withdraw it, but he'd better be having meetings, because --


The Speaker: Actually, you have two options: One is to withdraw and the other is not to withdraw. Your choice.

Mr Crozier: Boy, that sure limits it, Speaker, but I'll withdraw it.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The people of Chatham and Kent county are now getting the megacity treatment you imposed in Toronto. The 42,000 people in Chatham and the 110,000 people of Kent county had no say at all in the megacity you have created there. Instead, your appointed dictator, Mr Peter Meyboom, in effect told rural and urban people alike: "Big Brother at Queen's Park knows best. We don't care what you think."

This is what the mayor from Chatham, Bill Erickson, said: "We're the first to have a single, solitary human being deciding a future." What an honour you have bestowed on those communities.

Minister, how many communities will have the honour or privilege to have megacities imposed on them by your government or by some hired gun of yours?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I can tell the member that in excess of 350 municipalities are presently undertaking restructuring studies or amalgamation studies. So far in 1997, there are 134 fewer municipalities and over 600 fewer politicians as a result of the initiatives by municipalities to restructure and get rid of the waste and duplication that currently exists as the result of overgovernment.

Chatham-Kent went from 28 municipalities to one. That was done at the request of the people from Chatham-Kent. They requested the commissioner to come in and resolve the issue. He did an excellent job.

Mr Marchese: Speaker, this minister has no clue of what he speaks. The people from Chatham-Kent did not request this.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Scarborough East, the member for Bruce, come to order, and the member for Dufferin-Peel. Please come to order. The member for Perth. Thank you.

Member for Fort York.


Mr Marchese: The people of Chatham-Kent did not request what the dictator, M. Peter Meyboom, imposed on them. In fact, this henchman of this government has imposed on them something they did not want. He appears to be saying that's what they requested. That's not the case.

I have something else to add. The parliamentary assistant just a month ago said that he had no intention of imposing megacities outside Toronto. I quote the parliamentary assistant, M. Gilchrist, who said, "We want home-grown solutions," and on amalgamation he said, "That is your call, not ours." But Dr Meyboom imposed this solution on those two communities, contrary to what M. Gilchrist is saying. What we have here is the Tory jackboot being brought down on the people of Chatham and Kent county.

The Speaker: Member for Fort York, I ask that you withdraw that comment.

Mr Marchese: You refer to the "Tory jackboot" comment?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Marchese: I withdraw that, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: The Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Mr Marchese: I haven't finished my question.

The Speaker: Your time ran out.


The Speaker: Order. With respect, to the member for Fort York, you made the comment. I asked you to withdraw. Your time doesn't stop running. That was a decision you took. Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Hon Mr Leach: If that member had any less understanding of how this process works, he'd have to reach up to touch bottom. The process is that the communities within Chatham-Kent wrote to the province, wrote to the minister and said, "Please appoint a commissioner to come in and resolve this situation for us."

Dr Meyboom, a very highly respected member of our community, went down there, held public meetings, involved the public, involved all of the councils, got all of their recommendations, presented the results of his findings to the public again through public meetings, and the people of Chatham-Kent are extremely happy. Our member from Chatham tells me that his conversations with residents right throughout the community are very supportive of Dr Meyboom's recommendations.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): There is no such thing.

Mr Hastings: There certainly is. Not only that, all the members on this side campaigned in 1995 on a commitment to job creation, to red tape elimination and to getting the economy of Ontario going. Recently, Minister, you visited the Latin American countries of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. What we would like to know is, what were the results of your trade initiative to Latin America?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm very happy to answer the honourable member's question. I would like to tell him, first of all, that the mission to South America, the three countries he mentioned, was an unqualified success. I'd like to give the House some examples of the success because we should rejoice in this because it means jobs and economic development.

First of all, there was an $11.1-million agreement signed with a municipality in Argentina and that's going to design, supply and install a street lighting project, and there will be more to come like that. The second thing is there was a joint venture signed, worth more than $32 million, to provide energy conservation services plus energy-efficient technologies. There was also, thirdly, a signed memorandum of understanding between the province of Ontario and a province of Argentina to promote joint activities with small and medium-sized businesses. I think ultimately what will mature from this trade mission are transactions well in excess of $50 million.

Mr Hastings: Could the minister inform the House as to what number of Ontario companies participated and from what economic sectors these companies came in creating such a successful initiative in Latin America?

Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary question, I will list in order the answer to his questions. First of all, there were 15 Ontario companies along with two community colleges and the University of Toronto accompanying me on the trip. There were high-level contacts made in all three countries with regions and national leaders of those jurisdictions, and all these jurisdictions have strong economic growth and diversified economies somewhat similar to those of Ontario, I'm pleased to report.

I'm also pleased to report that these three countries are showing great control over inflation and interest rates and that is why I think they are ideal partners for our province. The mission caused spectacular rises in Ontario's profile. This is the first time a minister has been to these countries in a long time from any province of Canada, and I think the results from this trip are going to show growth in investment in Ontario, new product development and more jobs in our province.

I would like to conclude by saying that the key sectors --

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



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.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission appointed by the health minister has recommended closure of the London and St Thomas psychiatric hospitals; and

"Whereas psychiatric patients are being displaced without adequate support systems; and

"Whereas article 34(1) of the Mental Health Act states, `A patient shall be discharged from a psychiatric facility when he is no longer in need of the observation, care and treatment provided therein'; and

"Whereas article 34(2) of the Mental Health Act states, `Subsection (1) does not authorize the discharge into the community of a patient who is subject to detention otherwise under this act';

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to retain psychiatric facilities separate from schedule 1 hospitals and managed by the Ministry of Health to ensure that no person will go untreated or will be placed at risk or cause another to be placed at risk."

This petition has been signed by more than 28,000 citizens in the Elgin, Middlesex and London area, and I sincerely hope that the minister will take account of the very strong local feeling that exists against the recommendations of the restructuring commission.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas TVOntario has served Ontarians of all ages for more than 25 years with quality commercial-free television that continues to focus 70% of its programming schedule on education and children's programming; and

"Whereas TVO is available to 97.4% of Ontarians and for some uncabled communities is the only station available, making it a truly provincial asset; and

"Whereas TVOntario continues to work towards increasing self-generated revenues;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to ensure that TVOntario continue to be a publicly owned and funded educational broadcaster."


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario: A Petition to Preserve Top-Quality School Library Services:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has redefined the classroom to exclude all other school services; and

"Whereas one of these services is the school library program; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Education has stated that `Equity of access to information is crucial to both individuals and to our society as a whole'; and

"Whereas the Minister of Education has stated that teacher-librarians `are the critical filter that transforms data into information and into knowledge';

"We, the undersigned students and staff of Elliot Lake Secondary School, hereby petition the government of Ontario not to cut but to preserve top quality library services and staff."

This petition is signed by approximately 200 of my constituents.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have a petition from approximately 500 people who are expressing concerns about the restructuring of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre and its merging with the Clarke Institute, and it's addressed to the Legislative Assembly.

"We, the undersigned, express our opposition to the proposed merger between the Queen Street Mental Health Centre and the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry.

"Having now been informed about the merger through consultations, information-sharing sessions and written communications, we believe that the proposed merger is not in the best interests of consumers, staff and the community.

"While we recognize the benefits of the close and collegial relations between QSMHC and the Clarke Institute, this does not require a merger.

"We believe that the two institutions have separate and distinct mandates, agendas and expertise that would not be enhanced by the present plan."

I support this petition.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): "This petition is to help keep our school secretaries, custodians, library technicians and educational assistants from being contracted out. We'd like to keep these people here because we feel comfortable with them.

"Kelly Services won't know us and where to find things if they're different all the time.

"We like our secretaries, EAs, custodians and library technicians."

This is signed by 90 constituents of mine.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The petition drive to save TVO continues, and I'm very pleased that the member for Hamilton West read the petition.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Why don't we hear the petition.

Mr Gravelle: "Whereas TVOntario has served Ontarians of all ages for more than 25 years with quality non-commercial television and continues to focus 70% of its programming on education and children's programming; and

"Whereas TVO is available to 97.4% of Ontarians and for some uncabled communities is the only station available, making it a truly provincial asset; and

"Whereas TVO continues to work towards increasing self-generated revenues;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to ensure that TVOntario continue to be a publicly owned and funded education broadcaster."

This is a list from Sudbury, and I'm very pleased to sign it myself.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from Canadian Auto Workers in Windsor and Oshawa forwarded to me by Buzz Hargrove, their national president. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas workers' health and safety must be protected in the province of Ontario, especially the right to refuse work which is likely to endanger a worker, the right to know about workplace hazards, and the right to participate in joint health and safety committees; and

"Whereas the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations help protect workers' health and safety and workers' rights in this area; and

"Whereas the government's discussion paper Review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act threatens workers' health and safety by proposing to deregulate the existing act and regulations, to reduce or eliminate workers' health and safety rights, and to reduce enforcement of health and safety laws by the Ministry of Labour; and

"Whereas workers must have a full opportunity to be heard about this proposed drastic erosion in their present protections from injuries and occupational diseases;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the present provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that public hearings on the discussion paper be held in at least 20 communities throughout Ontario."

I add my name to theirs.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I've been waiting for some time to present this petition on behalf of my constituents in Durham East.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Then let's present it.

Mr O'Toole: They are writing to share their thoughts and recommendations to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"With respect to recommendation 6 of the Paroian report, this is a recommendation to exclude principals and vice-principals from the bargaining unit. We believe principals and vice-principals should remain members of the bargaining unit."

I'm pleased to present this petition today.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"Whereas the community supported the recommendations of the Win-Win report" -- I'm so glad there are so many members interested today from an area where the number one concern is health care -- "based on a funding model that included the expansion of community based care; and

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

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

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

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

"Whereas the minister acknowledged that additional funding was necessary in high-growth areas," and LaSalle for the third year in a row has the highest per capita growth in Canada,

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

We are looking forward to a special line in the budget today.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a petition from the firefighters of the province who, as you know, are royally ticked at this government.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

I have affixed my signature.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation," of course referring to the bill presented by MPP Margaret Marland, "that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario."

It's appropriate that we read this petition during the week we will debate the Wettlaufer motion. I've affixed my signature thereto.


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

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission appointed by the health minister has recommended closure of the London and St Thomas psychiatric hospitals; and

"Whereas psychiatric patients are being displaced without adequate support systems;

"Whereas article 34(1) of the Mental Health Act states `A patient shall be discharged from a psychiatric facility when he is no longer in need of the observation, care and treatment provided therein';

"Whereas article 34(2) of the Mental Health Act states `Subsection (1) does not authorize the discharge into the community of a patient who is subject to detention otherwise than under this act';

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to retain psychiatric facilities separate from schedule 1 hospitals and managed by the Ministry of Health to ensure that no person will go untreated or will be placed at risk or cause another to be placed at risk."

I affix my signature to this.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "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 will affix my signature to this.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have a number of signatures, over 100, from Canadian Auto Workers, and as the member for Nickel Belt said, these people are royally ticked at the government. Perhaps that's too polite for how they feel.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Let's hear the petition.

Ms Lankin: "Whereas workers' health and safety must be protected in the province of Ontario, especially the right to refuse work which is likely to endanger a worker, the right to know about workplace hazards and the right to participate in joint health and safety committees; and

"Whereas the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations help protect workers' health and safety and workers' rights in this area are under attack; and

"Whereas the government's discussion paper Review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act threatens workers' health and safety by proposing to deregulate the existing act and regulations to reduce or eliminate workers' health and safety rights and to reduce enforcement of health and safety laws by the Ministry of Labour; and

"Whereas workers must have a full opportunity to be heard about this proposed drastic erosion in their present protections from injuries and occupational diseases;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the present provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. Further, we, the undersigned, demand that public hearings on the discussion paper be held in at least 20 communities throughout Ontario."

I am pleased to affix my signature, as I am in agreement with the sentiments contained in this petition.


Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has declared that they intend to get out of the housing business; and

"Whereas the federal government has stated its desire to devolve responsibility for federally initiated cooperative housing to the provinces; and

"Whereas it would be inconsistent with the Ontario government's declared policy to cut the cost and size of government for the province to accept responsibility for federally initiated cooperative housing; and

"Whereas a cost-efficient non-government alternative exists in the form of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada's proposal, renewing the co-op housing partnership, meeting the challenge of efficiency and customer service for administering the program, delivery of cooperative housing;

"We urge the Ontario government as a cost-saving measure to turn down the federal government's proposal for the development of federally initiated cooperative housing to the province and endorse with the federal government a more efficient alternative proposal."



Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on administration of justice and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 84, An Act to promote Fire Prevention and Public Safety in Ontario and to amend and repeal certain other Acts relating to Fire Services / Projet de loi 84, Loi visant à promouvoir la prévention des incendies et la sécurité publique en Ontario et modifiant ou abrogeant certaines autres lois relatives aux services de lutte contre les incendies.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

Shall Bill 84 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph) : I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on resources development and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 107, An Act to enact the Municipal Water and Sewage Transfer Act, 1997 and to amend other acts with respect to water and sewage / Projet de loi 107, Loi visant à édicter la Loi de 1997 sur le transfert des installations d'eau et d'égout aux municipalités et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui a trait à l'eau et aux eaux d'égout.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the bill be received and adopted? All those in favour please say "aye." All those opposed please say "nay." In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Shall Bill 107 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the members that we now suspend the proceedings until 4 o'clock, at which time the budget will be presented.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Unanimous consent to suspend the meeting until 4 o'clock, at which time the budget will be read? Agreed.

For the benefit of the members, I will cause the bells to be rung at 3:55, a five-minute bell before 4 o'clock.

The House recessed from 1504 to 1600.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Government notice of motion number 19.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): Government notice of motion number 19, Mr Eves.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Mr Speaker, I move, seconded by Mr Harris, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd ask the indulgence of the House for the pages to deliver copies of the budget. Do all members have a copy of the budget?

Hon Mr Eves: The province of Ontario is on the way to a better tomorrow. The endless cycle of tax, spend and borrow is over. From the first day our government took office, our plan has been clear: Lift the burden of debt from our children's shoulders while reinvesting in priority programs like health care and education.

Under the leadership of Premier Mike Harris, our plan allows Ontarians to keep more of their hard-earned money; it invests in health care, classroom education and safe communities; it reduces the size of government; and it ensures that taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely.

Between 1985 and 1995, the period Premier Mike Harris refers to as the lost decade, previous governments hiked taxes 65 times, including 11 increases to personal income tax alone. These tax hikes did not balance the budget nor did they create jobs. In fact, debt tripled over this period, choking Ontario's growth potential and eroding the economic health of this province.

Our government is turning the economy around. We recognize that all Ontarians deserve opportunity and a job, with the personal dignity and security that a job brings. To that end, we are continuing with our tax cuts to create jobs. Today I am announcing a further 20 reductions, for a total of 30 tax cuts in less than two years.

We have cut government spending in a deliberate and careful way, because government was too big, too wasteful and was doing too many things that could be done better by the private sector.

We are reducing the size of governments in this province, peeling away the layers of red tape and bureaucracy. We are redefining the role of governments in Ontario, to make them more accountable to taxpayers.

I am pleased to report today that our plan is working. Ontario's economy is responding with jobs and growth, and perhaps most importantly, with renewed confidence and optimism. This document builds on the budget I presented last year. It is based on sound economic and fiscal policies.

We are investing in the economy and helping Ontarians get jobs. This budget helps small businesses get access to capital, invest in the economy and do what they do best -- create jobs.

We are investing in research and development to create jobs for the future. The actions I will announce today will reaffirm Ontario as one of the leading jurisdictions for new research and development in the entire world.

We are investing in health care because Ontarians deserve care that is second to none. Our government is not only keeping our commitment to guarantee health care funding; we are increasing our investment.

We are investing in our classrooms and in fairer support for child care for all working families, giving Ontario's future leaders the best start possible.

We are investing in a better future for our children, for my daughter, Natalie, and her generation. In the words of Premier Leslie Frost, "We are laying the sure foundations for a greater and stronger Ontario."

This budget will help secure those foundations for all Ontarians -- now and for future generations. In preparing it, I received assistance and advice from literally hundreds of Ontarians. I have considered their advice carefully and I thank them for their important contribution.

I want to thank all my colleagues, especially Premier Mike Harris, for his guidance and leadership.

I want to express my appreciation to the dedicated staff of the Ministry of Finance, led by Deputy Minister Michael Gourley; to my loyal personal staff, led by Louise Girouard; and to my wife, Vicki, and daughter, Natalie, for their support and understanding.

Everyone knows that when we took office in June 1995, the provincial government was spending $1 million more every hour than it was taking in in revenue, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Thanks to our cautious and prudent approach, the deficit for this fiscal year just ended will be $7.5 billion, an improvement of $710 million over the 1996 budget plan.

For this fiscal year, our budget plan projects a deficit of $6.6 billion. The deficit will be reduced further to $4.8 billion next year, or some 58% less than the deficit we faced on taking office.

Our balanced budget plan will ensure that the deficit is eliminated entirely by the year 2000-01.

We have turned the corner towards a balanced budget.

While we remain on track for our balanced budget target, we are not about to sit by and watch our children's future swept away by a sea of debt.

It would be wrong to shackle our children with this financial burden. The debt threatens our economy and our public services. It means that the province must continue to pay more than $9 billion in interest each and every year. That is more than the provincial government spends on education, and it is almost half the size of the budget for health care, our highest priority.

Once the budget is balanced, we will put in place a program to cut that debt, to ensure that our children will have the opportunities they deserve.

Ontario's economy is responding to the government's plan to make Ontario, once again, a province of jobs and opportunity.


Our deficit reduction plan, along with those of other governments, has been a major factor in lowering interest rates. This record of fiscal responsibility by all governments in Canada is leading to improved business and consumer confidence and to more jobs.

The housing market continues to strengthen. The number of housing starts is projected to rise by 29% in 1997.

In last year's budget I introduced a rebate of land transfer tax for first-time buyers of new homes. This measure contributed to a 20.2% increase in the number of housing starts in 1996. More than 12,000 refunds were paid to first-time home buyers in the last 12 months.

On March 31, I announced that this successful rebate has been extended for another year.

The Ontario economy has responded in a renewed spirit of confidence and optimism.

In March alone, the Ontario economy created 45,600 net new jobs. Reflected in this increase is the largest monthly private sector job gain on record in the province of Ontario.

A wide range of indicators point to strong job growth in the coming months. The Ontario help wanted index, which measures job ads placed by employers seeking workers, is up 17.8% over the last 12 months. The last time the help wanted index grew that fast, job growth accelerated to nearly 200,000 jobs a year.

Private sector economists have identified the rising trends in consumer spending, housing activity, new orders and overtime worked as strong leading indicators of accelerating job growth.

The Royal Bank, for example, is predicting an increase of 700,000 net new jobs in Canada over the next two years. According to the bank, Ontario is expected to account for well in excess of its normal share of that job growth.

While this pace of job creation is an improvement, it is not acceptable to this government. Ontario's economy can and will do better.

We need to continue to cut taxes. We need less government. We need to continue to reduce the regulation and red tape that discourage business and we need to create an environment that encourages communities and small businesses to grow and create jobs.

Small business creates jobs, more than any other sector.

As noted by the committee on small business access to capital, small businesses need greater access to financing to help them grow and create jobs.

I would like to thank my colleagues Jim Brown, Tom Froese and John O'Toole, who served as members of the committee, as well as co-chairs Rob Sampson and Joe Spina for their ideas.

Following consultations on their recommendations, I am announcing today that the government will help with the creation of community small business investment funds.

I will introduce legislation to make these funds eligible as investments for labour-sponsored investment funds and the small business investment tax credit for banks.

To further encourage investment in these community small business investment funds, every dollar invested by an LSIF in these funds will count as two dollars in meeting their small business investment requirement. We will also be increasing that requirement from 10% to 15% for 1997 and 1998 and to 20% for 1999.

We have asked the federal government to recognize these investments as eligible for federal purposes.

To help both new and growing small businesses throughout the province, we will establish a network of enterprise centres for small business. These centres will provide coaching and mentoring in business planning, marketing, accounting and overall business strategy.

The current self-help office program of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism will be consolidated with these enterprise centres.

I want to thank the parliamentary assistant for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, Joe Spina, for his enthusiastic work in developing the enterprise concept.

Banks also have a role to pay in small business development.

Last year bank profits reached more than $6 billion, an increase of more than 20% from their record level of 1995. However, small business people tell us they continue to have problems getting the bank financing they need to grow and create jobs. These financing problems are the greatest for new and emerging small businesses.

The small business investment tax credit for banks announced in the 1996 budget as a temporary incentive allows banks to earn back a surtax introduced last year by investing in small businesses.

To help increase small business access to financing, I am announcing today a number of measures to enrich this earn-back program. I am also making it permanent. As of tomorrow:

The amount of tax that can be earned back will be increased from 20% to 75% for equity investments of $50,000 or less;

Large financial institutions investing in community small business investment funds will be able to earn back tax at 40%;

Other large financial institutions will be allowed to earn back tax by lending to small business.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has taken a leadership role in providing loans to small businesses at below-prime interest rates. To recognize that leadership and to encourage other financial institutions to follow, the ability to earn back taxes will be extended to encourage loans of $50,000 or less to small businesses at interest rates below prime.

These measures will help to provide lower cost financing and patient capital to more than 25,000 small businesses in Ontario. We will be consulting with small business and financial institutions on the implementation of details of these measures before introducing legislation.

We will parallel the federal government's extension of its capital tax surtax on large financial institutions. We will harmonize this capital tax with the federal large corporations capital tax. These changes will help reduce the compliance costs for business and administration costs for government.

Capital tax rates will be cut and special rules will be introduced to help credit unions and smaller financial institutions.

The new tax base and rates will become effective May 7, 1997, on a prorated basis.

The agricultural sector is an important contributor to jobs, growth and exports in Ontario. Our potential to export and create more jobs is a strength on which we want to build.

The budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has been increased to $405 million. We have maintained the ministry's share of program spending.

Today I am announcing the creation of a three-year, $30-million rural job strategy.

Three million dollars will be used this summer to create 3,000 jobs for youth in rural Ontario.

In addition, this strategy will build on the success of Ontario's agrifood sector, which has raised exports by 160% over the last decade. It will include measures to increase exports by improving quality, marketing and the use of information technology.

Together with the enhanced support for small business lending announced today, the rural job strategy will provide the basis for job creation throughout rural Ontario.

Details of these actions will be announced by my colleague the Honourable Noble Villeneuve.

In the 1996 budget we introduced a temporary retail sales tax rebate on building materials for farmers. That rebate has been extended to provide additional assistance to the farming community over the next year.

We are reforming the taxation of farm land and replacing the farm tax rebate with a lower rate of property tax.

To help young people secure needed income and work experience, we will invest in new summer work opportunities. This budget provides an additional $6 million to support summer employment. As a result of this added investment, we will help support 40,000 students this summer. This is an increase of 6,000 over the previously announced level and 10,000 over the number of student opportunities last year.

We will help graduates struggling to get experience in a tough job market. We will provide a 10% tax credit to private sector employers to create 45,000 internship jobs over the next three years for young people in Ontario.

Many of the new jobs being created in Ontario today are in small businesses and through self-employment. Working in cooperation with banks and private sector business organizations, the government will contribute $2.5 million towards the cost of providing business startup loans for youth. These loans can be up to $7,500 each and will support the creation of 3,000 jobs.

Our government will also support jobs for youth in key sectors of the economy by expanding the successful cooperative education tax credit introduced in last year's budget. This measure will provide students enrolled in leading-edge technology education programs, such as software development, with a 10% tax credit voucher for employers who hire them in jobs related to their program of study.


To bring the latest in math, science and technology knowledge right into our classrooms, we will provide a similar grant to school boards that provide practical work placements for post-secondary students in these disciplines. These students will help teachers update teaching materials, introduce children to new technologies and serve as tutors in the classroom.

The highway system in northern Ontario and the gateways to the north are important to economic development. They provide critical links for the shipment of goods, for resource-based industries and for tourism activity, so important to the northern economy.

To promote the northern economy and create jobs, the government will provide an additional $200 million over the next five years to accelerate highway construction. This will improve travel and safety on northern highways through the four-laning of certain key highways as well as the addition of passing lanes and paved shoulders for greater safety. My colleagues the Honourable Al Palladini and the Honourable Chris Hodgson will provide details.

Vehicle registration fees will be standardized in southern Ontario at $74 per year. This will mean a reduction of $16 per year for every driver in the Toronto area.

To make a contribution to the cost of upgrades to northern highways while recognizing the higher costs of fuel in the north, northern vehicle registration fees will be set at $37 per year, one half the level in the south. Every dollar, and then some, raised in the north will be invested in improvements to northern highways.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Sudbury, come to order, please.

Hon Mr Eves: A modern and efficient water and sewer system is essential for a healthy environment and for economic development.

To that end, the province will provide $200 million to help municipalities invest in these environmental facilities over the next three years. My colleague the Honourable Norm Sterling will provide details.

Keeping Ontario at the leading edge of science and technology will help the province create long-term jobs. However, Ontario's investment in research and development needs to keep pace with that of our competitors.

Ontario currently invests about 2% of its economy in research and development, compared to 1.6% for all of Canada. The United States, however, for example, spends about 2.5% and Japan, 2.8%.

Ontario's economy needs to invest more in R&D. During the last 10 years, two out of every three jobs created in the province of Ontario were created in knowledge- and technology-based industries.

We need to promote more collaboration and cooperation with the private sector and we need to stimulate greater competition for research excellence among Ontario's universities.

Ontario's universities are world leaders in many fields of research. To help the private sector take advantage of our world-class research capabilities in universities and other research institutions, I am announcing today the creation of a 10-year, $3-billion R&D challenge fund.

The province will contribute $500 million in new funding to the R&D challenge fund over the next 10 years.

This proposed approach distributes research support, not through a block grant, but rather through a process that provides incentives for excellence while at the same time including a market test of research relevance.

To participate, universities and other research institutions must match the provincial contribution in the first year of the fund. The amount required from participants will rise over the life of the fund.

The R&D challenge fund marks a new, competitively based approach to research funding. All proposals to the R&D challenge fund will have to meet a market test linked directly to future economic growth and job creation in the form of a one-third contribution from the private sector.

Teaching at the post-secondary level will be enhanced as a result of R&D activity and greater exposure to world-class research capabilities. The R&D challenge fund will also ensure that Ontario universities are able to compete effectively for funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The new program will result in a total of $3 billion of R&D in our universities and other research institutions over the next decade.

My colleagues the Honourable John Snobelen and the Honourable Bill Saunderson will consult on the implementation of the program.

To strengthen Ontario's R&D tax competitiveness and to forge stronger linkages between the private sector and non-profit research institutions in Ontario, I am announcing today the Ontario business-research institute tax credit. This credit will provide a 20% refundable tax credit for qualifying business-sponsored R&D performed by eligible Ontario universities, research hospitals and other non-profit research centres.

To encourage medical research in Ontario, I am extending the sales tax exemption for research and development equipment to non-profit medical research facilities, such as the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario.

Taxes should not discourage research and development and job creation.

We will also introduce changes to capital tax and the retail sales tax to remove barriers to research and development in Ontario.

In addition to R&D, the commercialization of new technology will help foster job creation and new investment. I am taking steps today to encourage the acquisition and commercialization of new technology by allowing firms to deduct immediately the costs of acquiring new technology and by eliminating Ontario's tax on royalty payments for foreign technology, such as computer software.

With these changes, Ontario will have one of the most competitive tax systems for research and development in the entire world.

We are responding to the challenges of a global economy. In total, over the next 10 years, the actions announced today will result in more than $6 billion in private-sector-related research and development. That is an investment in jobs for our children.

Sheridan College is an outstanding example of excellence in the field of computer animation.

Companies such as the Disney Corp are establishing operations in Ontario to take advantage of the skills and talents of Ontario's computer animation and multimedia design graduates.

We want to build on the success of institutions like Sheridan College in promoting excellence and creating jobs. The government is prepared to commit up to $12 million towards the creation of a new, world-class Animation, Communications Design and Technology Centre at Sheridan.


The Speaker: I would just remind the gallery that there's no applause from the gallery, please. Thank you.

Hon Mr Eves: This centre, which will incorporate digital and multimedia technologies as well as animation, will be established with private sector partners. These private firms will more than match the government's commitment. We expect that this new centre will be self-sustaining and able to repay the province's investment as it matures. We encourage other institutions to take up this challenge to develop world-class partnerships in their own areas of excellence.

In consultation with my colleague the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, I am announcing a number of measures to support artistic activity and excellence in Ontario.

In recognition of the significance of cultural and artistic activities to the people and economy of the province, I am announcing today that the successful film and television tax credit will be increased to 20%. In addition, I am introducing a new 15% computer animation and special effects tax credit for productions in Ontario. Computer animation and special effects for Ontario films will qualify for 35% in tax credits all together. First-time filmmakers will continue to get a 30% film tax credit, and total credits of up to 45% will be available for computer animation in a first-time film.


Just last week I had the opportunity to attend the opening of the studio and set for the new CBC prime-time show Riverdale. I spoke with Canadian actress Lynne Griffin, who has returned to Canada after 12 years of working in the United States.

This government wants to ensure that talented young people, like Lynne, trained in this province have the opportunity to work and create jobs here and to work on the global stage with such Canadian greats as Norman Jewison. We will consult with educators, the industry and artists to explore further ways to accomplish this goal for our thousands of talented young people.

Canadian authors and Ontario publishers have also established an international reputation for excellence in the arts. To support and build upon these achievements, I am announcing a refundable tax credit to assist Ontario companies that publish and promote first-time Canadian authors. This measure will provide a credit of 30% for pre-production and promotional costs and 15% for printing costs in Ontario.

We promised a new approach to health care, one that puts the needs of patients first.

We are making sure that the money we are allocating for health care provides services for patients and not for bureaucratic waste. By managing the system better, we are providing a higher quality, integrated community-based health care system for the future.

The government is more than meeting its commitment to maintain health care funding at $17.4 billion. For 1997-98, Ministry of Health program funding to improve the quality of care will exceed $17.8 billion. As well, $450 million will be invested in restructuring and $242 million will be provided for capital construction, bringing total funding for health care to $18.5 billion.

Unlike the federal government, we have made support for health care our highest priority. The federal government has cut funding for health care to this province by $2.1 billion since 1995-96. The federal government provides about $797 for each person in Ontario for health care, less per capita than it provides in eight other provinces in Canada.

The priority our government places on comprehensive health care means that we have not only maintained health care funding despite the over $2 billion federal cut; we have increased the provincial dollars and made up the federal share.

The recommendations of the Health Services Restructuring Commission will allow this province to put in place the most modern and effective integrated health care system in this country. These actions will create a better managed, more efficient, more coordinated health care system that better meets the needs of patients.

The investments needed to achieve this goal are substantial. Over the next five years, $2.7 billion will be invested in the restructuring of our community-based health care system.

We are keeping the promise to reinvest.

Our goal in the restructuring of our health care system is to put the needs of patients first by creating the most comprehensive and effective health care services in this country. During pre-budget consultations, we heard that the pace of these restructuring needs has to be kept in line with the activities occurring in our communities.

We are listening to the advice of communities and health care professionals. Planned savings for reinvestment, to be achieved in 1998-99, will be rescheduled so that they more closely coincide with the implementation of restructuring.

The Minister of Health will be consulting with communities and those involved in health care delivery to determine how best to coordinate achievement of these savings with the restructuring activities in our communities.

The key to improving the quality of health care is the skill, expertise and caring of the people who work in the health care system.

We will ensure that special skills and knowledge are available throughout Ontario by helping to create networks of information. These networks will make best practices and innovations available quickly and broadly, providing caregivers the knowledge needed to help patients across the province.

These networks will allow us to ensure that quality care in areas such as women's health, orthopaedic care, and AIDS treatment and prevention are available to more people, in more places, than ever before.

Just recently, the Premier announced the establishment of Cancer Care Ontario to link and integrate cancer services throughout the province.

As promised, we are reinvesting in priority health care services. This year, $138.5 million in additional funds will be provided to ensure access to essential services in health care facilities, including improved cardiac strategy, increased support for dialysis strategy, increased funding for transplants for adults and children, enhanced community-based services for mental health, and $50 million in new funding for neurotrauma initiatives.

Details of these investments will be provided by my colleague the Honourable Jim Wilson.

Classroom education in this province needs improvement.

Between 1985 to 1995, school board spending grew by some 82%. Education mill rates rose by 80% and school property tax revenues rose by more than 120%. We know this did not result from increasing enrolment, as that grew by only 16%.

School board spending and taxing were out of control.

The solutions for the problems in the education system are the same as for the province itself. We have to eliminate unproductive spending. We have to stop the uncontrolled growth in taxes.

That is the problem and we are fixing it.

The direction in which we are going is clear.

We will have less government in the education system.

We will reduce the number of school boards by almost half.

There will be fewer trustees -- less than half of the 1,900 we have now.

We have to build a new and better system. That requires investment. We will make that investment.

We are investing in the classroom.

We have committed $650 million for primary and secondary school capital over the next two years. These funds will renew existing schools and build new schools.

Through this investment, more than 1,000 portable classrooms will be eliminated and replaced with much-needed permanent facilities.

We will continue to invest in better education for our children.

For several years, many graduating teachers have been unable to secure full-time jobs in their chosen profession. Their skills and dedication are essential to the future of our children. We cannot afford to waste their talents.

I am inviting the teaching profession to join with us in providing an early retirement benefit for teachers to renew the profession. As a result of this initiative, up to 6,500 new teachers would have the opportunity to bring their skills and energy to the students in the classrooms of this province.

This is an opportunity that benefits teachers and students:

It is an opportunity to honour the efforts of long-time teachers who now want to take on other challenges;

It is an opportunity for graduating teachers to begin a full-time career in the classroom;

It is an opportunity for experienced teachers to benefit from the energy and enthusiasm that newly trained colleagues will bring to the classroom; and

It is an opportunity for children in thousands of classes across the province to benefit from a renewed classroom.


We have made a provision of $250 million in the 1996-97 fiscal year for the province's share of the cost of this $500-million initiative. The early retirement program would be paid from the teachers' pension plan, which has experienced gains of up to $2 billion that can and should be used for renewing the education system. We are inviting the teachers to join us on an equal 50-50 basis to provide this benefit and renewal.

The Ontario student opportunities trust funds, OSOTF, have more than doubled their $100-million target set out in last year's budget. These funds were established to allow universities and colleges to assist academically qualified individuals facing financial barriers to post-secondary education.

Reports from universities and colleges show that cash and pledges received by March 31 now total over $250 million. The province will match this amount, creating an endowment of one-half billion dollars that will assist over 166,000 students over the next decade.

This successful program has permitted Ontario's colleges, many of which have never engaged in fund-raising for student aid, to raise approximately $18 million, creating $36 million in trust funds.

Because colleges have a less developed tradition of fund-raising, they faced special obstacles in taking advantage of this program. The government recognizes the challenges faced by colleges and wants to encourage their development of fund-raising as a permanent activity. I am announcing today that colleges of applied arts and technology can continue to receive pledges and donations until March 31, 1998.

Too few students with learning disabilities get the help they need to make the transition to college or university.

To help these students realize their potential, we will establish pilot projects at the college and university level, the first of their kind, to provide real help to learning-disabled students in a meaningful way. Dr Bette Stephenson, the pioneering former Minister of Education and my part-time mentor, will head a task force to design and implement these projects.

We will provide $30 million over the next five years to carry out this initiative and implement the recommendations of her task force.

The courage and determination shown by my late son, Justin, and thousands of others like him provided me with the inspiration to provide this much-needed initiative so that all young students, regardless of their financial health, can have an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential.

This government is committed to assisting students to achieve their educational goals. Funding for the Ontario student assistance program has been increased by more than 25%, or over $100 million, since 1995-96. This year spending on student assistance will total $505 million.

We are committed to providing appropriate and adequate support for students who need it. This means that the student loan support must better reflect the rewards that students realize from public investment in their education.

We are committed to working with the federal government to implement an income-contingent student loan program in time for September 1998.

The Premier recently announced $45 million in reinvestments to support children, including speech and language services and early intervention to protect children at risk of abuse and neglect.

The government also provides $344 million in child care fee subsidies to help more than 70,000 children in this province. However, too many other children and families in similar circumstances receive absolutely no help at all from the subsidy system. That's not fair.

Today I am announcing a new child care tax credit to assist working families who are not benefiting from the current institutional child care system.

Our credit will provide assistance with child care costs to some 90,000 families and 125,000 children. Families with two children will be eligible for this credit up to incomes of $40,000.

For 1997, this credit will provide up to $400 per child under the age of 7 and will decline in value for families with incomes above $20,000 per year.

This credit will provide an immediate $40 million in assistance to lower-income working families with child care expenses and will be financed from the $40-million enhancement announced in the 1996 budget.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): It's not there.

Hon Mr Eves: It is now.

Our child care credit will build on our planned improvements to the child care system resulting from the child care review and consultations with municipalities carried out by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The new system will provide more choice to parents and will help child care providers make care more affordable. More families will receive assistance, with priority being given to families who need help to start or stay at work.

Ontario supports the interprovincial initiative for a national child benefit. Under this initiative, the federal government will contribute to part of the cost of income security for children. The provinces have agreed to invest the funds formerly spent on social assistance in programs that help children in low-income families.

For our part, we will redirect more than $150 million in provincial funds by expanding programs that help families with children to find and keep jobs. One hundred million dollars will be used to enhance our child care tax credit for working families as the national child benefit is phased in.

I would like to thank my colleague the Honourable Janet Ecker for her leadership on these important measures to help children and families.

In addition to providing help with child care costs, we will reduce taxes further for low-income families, particularly those with children. The Ontario tax reduction program will be enriched to reduce taxes for 30,000 families. Of these, 20,000 families will now pay no Ontario income tax at all.

This means that in our first two budgets we have provided an enhanced tax cut for 285,000 low-income individuals and families.

In total, the Ontario tax reduction cuts taxes for 530,000 individuals and families and eliminates Ontario income tax entirely for another 655,000 individuals and families. The federal government, I might add, is collecting income taxes from more than 55% of the low-income families paying no Ontario tax whatsoever.

The protection of children is a priority for this government. The government has supported the Child Mortality Task Force and welcomed its preliminary report.

As an initial step, this budget provides $15 million to respond to the task force and to protect vulnerable children.

We know that more must be done. The government looks forward to the final report of the task force and the recommendations from inquests currently under way. We are prepared to take the necessary steps to ensure that our children are protected.

We will provide an additional $5 million to accelerate implementation of enhanced enforcement measures to collect moneys owed by delinquent parents. My colleague the Honourable Charles Harnick will provide details.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): That's a funny budget. They raid the system and then --


The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, come to order, please, and Sudbury East. Thank you.


Hon Mr Eves: Our plan places a high priority on improving safety in our communities and dealing with violent crime.

Parents are rightly concerned that their children be protected when participating in community sponsored and supervised activities. Recent highly publicized events, however, have undermined the confidence that some parents have in the safety of these activities.

The Ontario Provincial Police currently provide at no cost literally thousands of checks of police records for volunteer organizations. It is expected that all local police forces will join in this important community safety initiative in support of volunteers. To complement the community safety initiatives of the police, the government will assist community groups through the volunteer linkages program to better screen and supervise volunteers.

My colleague the Honourable Dianne Cunningham will be announcing a comprehensive strategy which will strengthen our efforts to prevent violence against women. We will spend an additional $27 million over the next four years to support women and their families in breaking the cycle of violence.

In order to promote safety in our communities, the government will work with municipalities to help identify and establish community safety zones. Fines levied for infractions committed in these zones would be doubled.

These zones could be portions of roads where the safety of children is paramount, such as school zones and crossings, school bus stops, day care centres, children's parks or areas of roadways with high accident rates.

Fines for other activities, such as the sale of cigarettes or liquor to minors, that put young people at risk will also be doubled.

These double fines will contribute revenue to the victims' justice fund, which provides funding for programs and services helping victims of crime.

The Campbell report has identified a number of needed improvements in the way in which police services work together to investigate and apprehend serial predators. The government is acting on these recommendations. We will provide $25 million over the next five years to improve information sharing capacities of police services to better coordinate the efforts of all participants in these investigations.

Sometimes the victims of violence also include the survivors of those who have lost their lives protecting others. People in Ontario are justifiably outraged that the killer of a police officer can receive an education in prison at the taxpayers' expense while the children and spouse of the slain officer have no support for their education.

That is not right and it is not fair.

To correct this injustice, we will provide $5 million this year to create an endowment for the families of police, firefighters and other public safety officers killed in the line of duty. This endowment will fund the cost of tuition and books for post-secondary education. Private donations will enhance this endowment.

In addition, the victim support line pilot, scheduled to end in June of this year, will be extended until March 31, 1998, at a cost of $1.5 million. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide an automated notification service to victims of crime.

I would like to thank my colleague the Honourable Bob Runciman for his significant contribution to community safety.

In last year's budget, I announced crown foundation legislation to assist in mobilizing resources for important health, cultural and social organizations.

In the last year, 19 crown foundations have been created. These consist of one research organization, eight hospitals and 10 arts and culture organizations including the Stratford and Shaw festivals and the National Ballet of Canada foundations.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague and parliamentary assistant Isabel Bassett for her hard work in making this measure so successful and for her excellent advice on this and other issues.

However, in its most recent budget the federal government actually reduced the amount of a gift to a crown foundation that can be claimed for an income tax credit from 100% of income in a year to 75%. While that budget followed Ontario's lead by providing incentives for conventional charitable giving, its treatment of crown foundations is totally inappropriate.

We have asked the federal government to administer for Ontario a tax credit to address this problem. This credit would ensure that those wishing to make gifts above the federal maximum will pay no more Ontario tax than they did before the unfortunate federal decision.

The federal government, for its part, has said no. Our request means not one single cent in cost to the federal government, since we would pay for the administration and only Ontario tax would be affected. It also means that the federal government is attempting to prevent Ontario from encouraging giving to charitable foundations by making changes to our own provincial tax system.

The best job creation program is a tax cut.

In addition to the province of Ontario, the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have each introduced several tax cuts in their budgets.

The federal government says it has no flexibility to cut taxes. Now, a little over two months later, we hear media reports that its 1996-97 deficit may be as much as $6 billion lower than reported at budget time, just the amount to be spent, I might add, in red book II. I'm sure the two amounts are purely coincidental. It is missing an opportunity to cut taxes and create jobs.

It will come as no surprise that I believe that one of the first federal tax cuts should be to employment insurance premiums. At the current employee premium rate of $2.90 on every $100 earned, Canadian employees and employers are paying $5 billion more per annum than they are receiving in benefits.

An excessive EI premium rate is particularly damaging to the province of Ontario. Ontario businesses and employees pay $4 billion more in premiums than they receive in EI program benefits. This means that contributions from people in Ontario account for 80% of the $5-billion annual surplus. That is unfair.

Studies tell us, and the federal government, that up to 200,000 jobs have been lost nationwide because of high payroll taxes.

Even federal Finance Minister Paul Martin has recognized the drag that payroll taxes place on job creation. On August 30, 1994, Mr Martin said, "High payroll taxes are a cancer on the economy." We agreed then and we agree now.

There has to be some equity and fairness in the way the federal government treats taxpayers in the province of Ontario. Take the advantage of how Ontarians receive their fair share of EI benefits when they are unemployed --


Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I know the honourable members opposite don't want to hear this, but these are the facts.

It is only fair that if Ontarians contribute a fair share to the EI program they should receive a fair share of benefits when they become unemployed.


In 1996, if you were a resident living in New Brunswick and you needed EI benefits, you would receive $13,100 from the federal government; if you lived in British Columbia, you would receive $6,500; but if you lived in the province of Ontario, you would receive only $4,800. That is not fair. Ontarians believe that unemployed workers in Ontario should have the same federal support for training as they do in other provinces.

If the federal government is prepared to treat the unemployed in Ontario fairly, we are prepared to sign a training agreement today.

The people of Ontario deserve a better deal. The fact is that the federal government provides less support to individuals in Ontario than they do to people in other parts of the country. They deserve to be treated fairly.

Unless the federal government is prepared to address these inequities, Ontario will have to seriously consider withdrawing from the current arrangement. The federal government is costing Ontario taxpayers well in excess of $100 million each and every single year by their inequitable treatment. We have begun to seek advice on this matter to protect Ontario taxpayers' best interests.


Hon Mr Eves: I see I've touched a nerve over there, Mr Speaker.

In January, the Ontario government proposed a new arrangement for provincial-municipal responsibilities. This plan was designed to bring fairness to the funding of education in Ontario and improve the quality of education by providing a fair distribution of funding across the province.

In proposing its arrangement, the government had several objectives in mind:

To reduce taxes by ending the spiralling costs of education in the province;

To reduce taxes by rationalizing the delivery of services between the provincial and municipal levels of governments;

To bring tax fairness to the people of this province regardless of the municipality in which they live.

This government clearly stated those objectives and indicated that they were willing to listen to other ways of achieving them. We said, on page 20 of the Common Sense Revolution, that "we are unconditionally committed to reaching our goals, but we are very open to discussing how we get there. If there are better ideas out there about how to cut spending, reduce waste and improve efficiency, we want to hear them."

Following several months of discussions, municipal representatives offered an alternative solution based on a coalition of several groups reflecting a broad cross-section of interests. We have listened.


The Speaker: Member for Windsor-Walkerville, I'm going to warn you. Stop interrupting. And the members of the caucus, please quit interrupting. I want to hear the finance minister.


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

Interjection: O-o-o-o.

The Speaker: I don't know who did that, but that's inappropriate and completely out of order, and I ask whoever did it to withdraw and come to order. That was unacceptable.

Hon Mr Eves: Last Thursday, the government accepted the municipal alternative and will now proceed with the necessary implementation. I want to thank my colleague the Honourable Al Leach for his hard work in making this agreement a reality.

Part of our plan to reduce the role and size of government is getting people off welfare and into the workplace.

This government has increased the incentive to work, reduced benefits to realistic levels, introduced mandatory workfare and cracked down on welfare fraud.

Since June of 1995, the welfare caseload in the province of Ontario has fallen by 14.4%: Some 193,000 fewer people rely on social assistance today than when this government took office.

My colleague Bart Maves, MPP for Niagara Falls, has introduced legislation to improve accountability in the public sector. With the benefit of his advice and comments, I will introduce the Public Sector Accountability Act.

This act will require that organizations:

Report their financial activities in accordance with the recommendations of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants;

Adopt policies that ensure that the private sector has an open opportunity to compete to provide services to their organizations; and

Adopt and publicly report on organizational performance using private and public sector benchmarks.

Cutting taxes and ensuring that taxpayers receive efficient and effective public services is an important part of tax fairness. It is also essential that people pay their fair share of taxes so that their burden is not passed on to their neighbours.

The underground economy is one way in which some try to avoid paying their fair share. In the last year, we have added 191 audit and collections staff to improve the integrity of our tax system and to make sure that taxes are paid if they are owed. They are expected to recover an additional $80 million a year by 1998-99.

Today I am announcing further actions which are expected to result in improved collections of up to $100 million more per year by the fiscal year 2000-01.

Further amendments will be made to improve tax enforcement, to modernize and simplify the tax system and to streamline the operations of government.

I have asked my colleague and friend the new parliamentary assistant, Bill Grimmett, MPP for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, to look into ways to simplify administrative procedures for small business.

Details of these measures are provided in budget papers B and C.

A tax cut is the best job creation program.

We have promised to cut personal income tax rates by 30% over three years to create jobs. Today we are delivering the next two steps of that tax cut.

Effective July 1, Ontario's personal income tax rate will be reduced to 47% of the basic federal tax from the current 49%.

We will cut taxes again on January 1, 1998. The income tax rate will be reduced further, to 45%.

This means that Ontario's rate of income tax will have been reduced by 22.4% since 1995.

In last year's budget, I announced a three-year plan to cut the employer health tax by completely exempting the first $400,000 of payroll from the EHT. This marks the second year of our plan and when fully implemented on January 1, 1999, 270,000 or 88% of all Ontario employers will no longer have to pay this job-killing payroll tax.

Our tax-cutting plan is working.

The benefits of our plan to cut taxes are clear:

Ninety-one per cent of all taxpayers will see an Ontario tax cut of 30% or more;

All taxpayers with incomes of $60,000 or less will see their Ontario tax rate fall by 30% or more.

This means that with the cuts announced today, an auto worker earning $84,000 will get a tax cut of $1,875. When the tax cut is fully implemented, this same auto worker will receive a $2,505 tax reduction, 25.4%.

The best job creation program is a tax cut. This is our plan and it is working.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): How many auto workers make $84,000 a year?

Hon Mr Eves: The average one, Howard.

This budget continues the implementation of the government's plan.

This government is committed to doing what it said it would do. Such commitment requires the strong leadership and courage of conviction that our Premier, Mike Harris, exemplifies. His direction and foresight have been instrumental in developing this plan.

This plan keeps us on track for a balanced budget by the fiscal year 2000-01 and makes government more accountable to taxpayers.

It invests in the economy by helping small and medium-sized businesses in communities across the province get access to the financing they need to grow and create jobs.

This plan makes record investments in research and development to create jobs for the future. It establishes a stronger partnership in Ontario between the private and public sector, creating a powerful force for innovation and prosperity.

It builds on the foundation in Ontario for the most competitive research and development in the entire world.

It promotes growth of agricultural exports, job creation and economic development in our rural communities.

It makes communities safer by protecting children and our neighbourhoods.

Families are an important part of our community. This document assists hardworking families. It provides help for more young families with child care expenses.

This plan invests in education. It invests where the money is needed -- in the classroom. It provides for renewal of the teaching profession. It helps students realize their full academic potential.

The plan ensures our commitment to provide quality health care for all Ontarians now and in the future.

It allows taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money by cutting personal income taxes. In total, we have cut taxes 30 times in less than two years.

Our plan creates jobs for the future.

We have an obligation to the future of Ontario. My daughter, Natalie, and her younger generation will accomplish things that some never imagined possible.

This document lays the foundation for a better tomorrow by investing in the future today.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I move adjournment of the debate.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? Carried.

Hon David Johnson: I believe we have unanimous consent to revert to introduction of bills.

The Speaker: Unanimous consent to revert to introduction of bills? Agreed.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 129, An Act to stimulate job growth, to reduce taxes and to implement other measures contained in the 1997 Budget / Projet de loi 129, Loi visant à stimuler la croissance de l'emploi, à réduire les impôts et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1997.

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

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I think I've expounded on those measures quite enough in the last hour. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move adjournment of the House.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? The House is now adjourned till 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1715.