36th Parliament, 1st Session

L187 - Wed 7 May 1997 / Mer 7 Mai 1997









































The House met at 1331.




M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : Les députés francophones du Parti libéral de l'Ontario se sont opposés au projet de loi 104. Au lendemain du dépôt du budget, on peut voir que l'on avait raison de s'y opposer. Dans le budget déposé hier, comme dans le projet de loi 104, il n'y a aucune aide financière pour la création d'un nouveau conseil scolaire francophone.

Les francophones attendent avec impatience la nomination des membres au sein de la Commission d'amélioration de l'éducation, et j'espère que le ministre Snobelen ne fera pas la même erreur que le ministre de la Santé, qui avait omis de nommer une personne francophone au sein de la Commission de restructuration des soins de santé. N'oubliez pas, Monsieur le Ministre, que les francophones veulent participer et être inclus dans le processus.

Je désire profiter de la Semaine de l'éducation pour introduire deux étudiantes de l'école Sainte-Trinité de Rockland, du Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française de Prescott et Russell, qui ont été choisies pour prendre part au programme éducatif qui est en vigueur depuis l'année dernière. J'ai donc le plaisir de présenter aux membres de l'Assemblée législative Martine Castonguay et Stéphanie Chrétien, qui sont ici avec nous. Bienvenue à Queen's Park. Welcome to Queen's Park.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Down in Welland-Thorold, and indeed across the province, folks are getting personalized letters, computer printouts, in the mail indicating that they're going to enjoy great prosperity and rewards; in this case, a gentleman from King Street in Welland, $10,500. But when you look at the fine print, you see this is a 1-900 scam, a little bit like yesterday's budget. When you look at the fine print, all it does is cost these folks big bucks, on average $40 to $50 each, as they phone that 1-900 number to collect their prize, which ends up being, inevitably, $1.37.

This is an old scam, the 1-900 scam, and unfortunately among the accomplices to scumbuckets like DAMI, Direct American Marketers Inc, who are running this scam and fleecing seniors and the poor, are Bell Canada and other telephone carriers, because Bell Canada and other telephone carriers share in those big profits based on $4.99 a minute on the 1-900s. So neither Bell nor the other carriers want to go to the CRTC to get permission or the power to cut operators, fleecers, crooks like DAMI loose from the 1-900 system.

I think it's important that we advise all people in all our communities not to fall prey to these sorts of scams like the 1-900 scam. I also today want to prevail upon the Attorney General and this government to enter into discussions with their federal counterparts to develop genuine controls on the use of 1-900 numbers so that crooks like DAMI can no longer operate and fleece our poor and our seniors.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I rise today to congratulate the Quinte Ballet School, located in my riding of Quinte.

On May 3 my wife, Cheryl, and I were guests of the Quinte Ballet School for its silver anniversary gala. The performance, held at the Centennial Auditorium in Belleville, was celebrating the school's tremendously successful 25-year history.

As one of only four professional ballet schools in Canada, the Quinte Ballet School is a unique and important asset to my community. The school attracts students to Belleville from all across Canada, ranging from 10 to 20 years of age, to pursue their dream of a career in dance. Many of the school's graduates have attained the dream of performing for such prestigious dance companies as the National Ballet of Canada.

The school consistently achieves excellence in professional dance and has gained considerable recognition in the past 25 years, with Annette av Paul and Karen Kain as honourary patrons.

Besides teaching professional dance, the Quinte Ballet School also provides recreational programs involving 100 local residents.

On behalf of all residents of the Quinte area, I want to thank Brian Scott, David Scott, Tom Dietzel and everyone else involved in making the Quinte Ballet School such a success. Through their efforts, the city of Belleville has gained a prominent place in Canada's culture.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): When it comes to the north, the Harris government should hang its head in shame after yesterday's budget. Not only have they made an additional $2.5 billion worth of cuts, not only have they succeeded in eliminating over 2,000 jobs in the north, not only have they continued to discontinue the northern support grant, which helps us provide extra money for the extra costs of providing services, and not only have they closed the resident geologist offices, but now the Harris government has once again turned its back on the north and imposed a new tax on northern drivers.

The vehicle registration tax is being forced on the hardworking people of northern Ontario. This is the only government in recent history not to recognize the higher costs of operating a vehicle in the north.

All governments before have recognized this and have tried in different ways to make sure the north is treated fairly. But not Mike Harris, not Ernie Eves, not the Tories. Mike Harris says, "Tax the north." Ernie Eves says, "Tax the north." The Tories say, "Tax the north." The only region in Ontario to get a new tax imposed on it in this budget is the north. The north has been punished again.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Yesterday this government introduced what they tried to pass off as a feel-good budget. For the thousands of unemployed people in this province, this budget does nothing to make them feel good.

This budget fails to produce anything tangible for job creation. We have seen, over two years of the Harris government, the job crisis worsening. There are 16,000 more people unemployed today than there were two years ago. Over the last two years, only 100,000 jobs have been created. At the same time, the labour force has grown by the same amount, leaving the unemployment rate at the same level.

The experience of the last few years illustrates that the economy can grow without any growth in jobs. Standard calculations for job growth based on economic growth no longer have any meaning. In 1995 and 1996 the economy grew by a cumulative 5.2%, which resulted in only 100,000 jobs and produced the same level of unemployment.

What did this budget do for young people? The youth employment programs of the Harris government in reality represent a cut in funding of close to $20 million. In 1994-95 there was $60 million spent on youth employment programs by the Ontario government; this year, only $40 million.

It's time this government came up with some real solutions, not just their rhetoric about tax cuts and job creation. This province needs a real plan for job creation, not simply a tax cut that puts money in the pockets of the wealthy.



Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I wish to bring to the attention of the House that there are still pioneers among us in the province of Ontario. The Ontario Cattlemen's Association recently held its annual elections. The person elected president, a farmer near Hagersville in Haldimand-Norfolk, is the first woman president of the Cattlemen.

Linda Barker has been involved with the cattlemen's association for 13 years. She was first involved with the Haldimand Cattlemen's Association and was elected a provincial director in 1987. Linda Barker is one of the unsung heroines you find in every community who always has time to volunteer for one more thing and has been involved in almost every agricultural event in her community while operating a purebred Charolais operation and rearing her four children.

This also marks the 35th anniversary of the Ontario Cattlemen's Association. I wish to recognize the contribution of cattle and beef producers to improving Ontario's beef industry.

I've had the privilege of getting to know Linda during my time as a representative for Norfolk. I grew up with dual-purpose polled shorthorn cattle. I'm proud to stand before this House to congratulate the Ontario Cattlemen's Association on its decision to elect Linda Barker as their president, the first women to hold that post and a true volunteer.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): With all the partisan whining, finger-pointing and blaming others in the Harris government's budget speech yesterday, members will likely be astounded to learn who said the following about the previous NDP government:

"All we have heard from the government is whining that we need more money from a bankrupt federal government. I believe that it is time for us to stop whining. It is time for us to fix that which is broken right here in our own province."

"So we can continue to complain that other levels of government are not pulling their weight. We can blame local levels of government or we can blame the federal government or we can turn our energies towards making Ontario more competitive....

"So it is actually a disgrace when the Premier of Ontario spends his time whining, pointing fingers, blaming others. That is not the legacy, that is not the history, of this province that I grew up in and that will not be the legacy and history of this province when we bring common sense back to it."

Those, believe it or not, are the words of Mike Harris in opposition. Yes, our own Mike Harris.

His colleague Conservative MPP Gary Carr was right on when he said of the previous Premier:

"This wasn't a statement, this was public whining. In Ontario, we have always been the leaders in Confederation. We have now become the whiners in Confederation....

"The public doesn't want partisanship or gamesmanship, they want results."

Now when they are in power and can control things, all they do is whine again. Don't you take responsibility for anything you do? People want cooperation, not confrontation.

Mike and Gary, you were right.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Yesterday we saw another magic show. We saw another budget of smoke and mirrors. Let me give you a few examples.

Health care: The government lauds that it is spending more than any other government in the history of this province on health care. What they don't tell you is that there's not one new penny of money being spent on health care services to people. They've taken restructuring costs, which are capital costs, put them in the operating budget, which is opposed to all accounting principles, and said that it's new services to people. Not one penny.

What about the pretence of new spending in areas of programs for prevention of violence against women or child abuse? What they don't tell you is that it's a drop in the bucket compared to the cuts they made last year. They're spending less than previous governments.

What about the northern vehicle registration? They laud that they've set it at $37, one half of the rate of southerners. How cynical. What they didn't tell you is that the NDP government reduced it altogether to zero, eliminated it, in recognition of higher fuel costs and transportation costs in the north. You've increased it, imposed a new tax of $37, and you want northerners to thank you. I'm sure they'll thank you appropriately.

The greatest cynical move of all is on child care. You say you're creating a new child care tax and the finance minister said yesterday he is spending now, immediately, the $40 million you announced and didn't spend last year. But the child care tax credit is for 1997. People will file their taxes in 1998. You'll spend the money in 1998 that you announced in 1996.

What a sham. Smoke and mirrors.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I rise today to bring attention to a serious concern which I know is shared by many people in Ontario. That concern is with regard to section 745 of the Criminal Code. Otherwise known as the "faint hope" clause, this section allows convicted killers to apply for early release from prison before serving their full 25-year sentence. Our government, along with police officers and chiefs, crown attorneys and groups such as CAVEAT, has called for an immediate repeal of this section of the Criminal Code. The federal government refuses to act.

Seventeen years ago, Craig Munro and his brother shot Metro Toronto Police Constable Michael Sweet during a robbery at a Queen Street restaurant. Constable Sweet, a father of three young daughters, took a shotgun blast in the chest and lay on the floor for an hour and a half, drowning in his own blood. During this time, Munro and his brother drank alcohol and did heroin.

Munro was sentenced to life in prison. During his years in jail, Munro showed no sign of remorse for this heinous crime until 18 months ago. What a coincidence. Now Munro is applying for early release under section 745 of the Criminal Code.

Ontarians know that public safety is a top priority with this government. It should be the same for the federal government. I urge the federal Liberals to repeal this loophole and make a solid commitment to protecting the safety of all Canadians. For convicted killers like this, life should mean life.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. Yesterday you introduced another budget in this House, and to listen to some of the stories and some of the spin doctors, you would think that in terms of health care in the province our ship had come in, all of our wishes were about to be granted and nothing could be better.

I want to bring your attention to the perspective of a patient in an Ontario hospital, no one in particular, but right now that patient is concerned because when he or she rings the buzzer, the nurse doesn't show up. That patient is concerned because he or she is afraid. They've heard stories, and they're true stories, of a patient who died in a hallway unbeknownst to the medical personnel. They've heard stories about somebody who was in pain and couldn't get medication in a hospital. They've heard stories about lengthy waiting lists for surgery. If you cut away all the hype and all the rhetoric, the fact of the matter is you are still proceeding to cut $1.3 billion from Ontario hospital budgets. How does knowing all of that make me feel any better as a patient?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Health would be pleased to respond.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Just to clarify the record, because all the media reports seem to have it right and only the honourable member seems to have it wrong, health care spending in this fiscal year will be $17.8 billion. That's $400 million more than when we came into office 22 months ago and $800 million more than you promised in your red book in the last provincial election.

Secondly, so that hospitals can fully protect patient services, the finance minister and the government have set aside $450 million in additional restructuring moneys this year, $850 million in additional restructuring moneys next year, for a total of $1.3 billion, and over the next five years the government is prepared to spend over $2 billion to make sure that restructuring is done right and that we prepare our hospital system for the growing and aging population.

Mr McGuinty: Ontarians should know that the only new money that was announced for health care today, save and except $1 million for additional operating budget, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things, is effectively for wreckers' fees. That's to shut down hospitals and to pay the severance costs that are going to be connected with firing 15,000 Ontario nurses. Knowing that lends no comfort whatsoever to patients who presently find themselves in Ontario hospitals and lends no comfort to Ontarians who may end up there at some point in the future. Not one cent is going to improve the quality of health care within our hospitals; not one cent is going to get patients out of hallways; not one cent is going to go towards reducing waiting lists.

Minister, you should know that you can play around with a lot of things in Ontario, but when you play around with health care, you're playing with fire. That's why the polls show, and people on the street know in their heart of hearts, that they are extremely uncomfortable with your handling of health care in Ontario. The only way you can escape that is to restore the cuts. Will you do that?

Hon Mr Wilson: The health care budget is up; it's not been cut one penny. In operating dollars this year it's up $400 million, in spite of the $2.1-billion cut from your federal cousins. In addition to that, so that patient services are fully protected and enhanced -- and that's the new level of patient services, by the way, with our cardiac care announcement, our dialysis announcements, our new hip and knee replacements -- that money is flowed as part of the $17.8 billion.

In addition, the extra restructuring money committed, which is up to $2.7 billion over the next five years, will follow the Health Services Restructuring Commission's directives of which, I remind you, their number one principle is to improve and enhance accessibility and patient care. To say their directives have nothing to do with improving the health care system or patient care in this province is clearly wrong, because that is what motivates the government and that is what motivates the commission. Every time you bring up a story about the status quo, about a problem in today's system, I say that's why you are providing your own proof of why this system needs to be restructured.


Mr McGuinty: When I bring up stories about patients who are at risk in Ontario hospitals, that is your status quo that you created as a result of your cuts. You're making things worse. You can dance around it, you can try to get over it, you can try to get under it, but the fact remains that you are cutting $1.3 billion from Ontario hospital budgets. We thought, we hoped and we prayed that yesterday you would have seized the opportunity and said, "I'm not going to proceed with the final round of cuts because we understand that we are already causing pain." Patients are at risk in Ontario hospitals because of your actions, because of the government's actions, and nobody else's.

There is no hope in yesterday's budget for patients. That's the bottom line, no hope for people like Susan Kellar who went to the hospital, to find her father dead on a stretcher in a hallway and none of the medical personnel knew about it, and it's not their fault.

If you want people to take you seriously, Minister, you're going to have to put the money back into the system. Would you, at minimum, cancel the last $500 million of cuts?

Hon Mr Wilson: Clearly, all the way along, all the savings we've seen from hospitals, which is a very small amount of money compared to the tremendous new investments, every dollar and more has gone back into the system. Today we know from our hospitals that clearly they have said patient services have not been affected; in fact, we're on the road to improving patient services. If we had kept the way you were going or the way the previous government was going, I could see a day in a couple of years, as more and more senior citizens come on stream, where patient services were going to be adversely affected, and we have to restructure.

David MacKinnon, the president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said about yesterday's budget: "This should go a long way to reassuring the public that the system will remain stable during this time of massive change. While change is necessary, it must be managed in a way that does not affect access to and quality of patient care." David MacKinnon, the head of the Ontario Hospital Association, has confidence in our vision for health care. I wish the honourable members would pay attention.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): Premier, I want to speak to you from a child's perspective regarding your budget. I looked through the clippings today and through the television clips last night and not a single person under the age of 10 was interviewed. I want to raise some issues on their behalf today.

You will know that this spring and this summer eight inquests will be heard into the deaths of children in Ontario as a result of abuse or neglect. I have asked in this House time and time again that you restore the funding in the amount of $17 million that you stole from children's aid societies. Inquests that are being held around the province are making it clear that children's aid society workers do not have the numbers to keep up with the workload. Premier, I want you to tell me, what kind of lifeline did you throw kids in Ontario, who are being abused, yesterday in that budget? What did you do for them?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think any objective observer and analyst of the budget would say that this overwhelmingly was a budget for children. Second, I think they would say that here is a government that has targeted the most vulnerable in our society and said, "They are our first priority to assist and help, to help level the playing field, to help and assist."

I think any objective observer would also say that the Minister of Community and Social Services in this government is one of the most compassionate and caring ministers that children could possibly have, coupled with a Minister of Finance unparalleled in his sense of fairness and decency for those who are disadvantaged the most in this province.

I want to say to you that while you can rant and rail away and pull stuff out of the air, never in a budget or --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr McGuinty: It seems to me that the Premier, in rushing to the defence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, doth protest too much. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to kids in Ontario who are the subject of abuse, you have left them high and dry. You've effectively said: "You're on your own. You're out there. You don't lobby me, you don't write me, you don't vote for me -- too bad."

I want to talk to you about child care spaces for a minute. There are 17,000 families in Metro Toronto alone still waiting for child care spaces. Do you know how many spaces you created in your budget? Not a single one. We all know that this business of the sleight of hand, this 40 million bucks you committed to child care, was in fact promised in last year's budget. Congratulations. But what that works out to is less than five hours of day care a week at minimum wage rates for a family that receives some of this money. What kind of day care do you think you can get when you're only going to be able to pay for five hours of day care a week at minimum wage rates?

Hon Mr Harris: The Minister of Community and Social Services is not here today. I know she could articulate a far longer list than I, but let me say this: In the area of child care this government is now spending 1,000 times more than the Liberal government in New Brunswick, this government is now spending on a per capita basis double Quebec, three times what is being spent by the NDP --


The Speaker: Order. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I might add that all those figures are not on a per dollar base -- we spend far more in dollars -- but those are the figures on a comparative per child basis. Three times what the NDP spends in Saskatchewan per child we spend on child care here in Ontario.

In addition to that, yesterday in the budget that you're referring to, these programs that help 70,000 children not only remain intact but the minister announced a new program that maybe doesn't do as much as you want but it will help now I think upwards of 125,000 children, more than double those being assisted today, and begin to provide some help. Is it enough? We'd love to do more, but it is more than you ever did, it is more than the NDP ever did.


Mr McGuinty: Not one day care space created by the Harris government. That may very well prove to be your legacy, not one I would be proud of.

I want to talk about something else. On top of existing cuts, you are taking another $300 million from our kids' education. Your budget does nothing for the 30,000 Ontario children who were deprived of junior kindergarten last year. I am convinced that you don't understand the importance of junior kindergarten to Ontario. That is when the minds are most plastic, most impressionable, that's when we can make a positive, lasting impression.

We need more education as we prepare for the 21st century, not less. This year, 30,000 more Ontario kids will be deprived of junior kindergarten. We're supposed to be giving them a leg up on the rest of the world. You're holding them back. You've done nothing to lessen the pain of kids who are subject to abuse, you've done nothing for children who are waiting for child care spaces and you're hurting their chances in a workforce later on because of a lack of junior kindergarten.

The Speaker: Thank you. Premier.

Mr McGuinty: -- kids don't count.

The Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, thank you very much.

Hon Mr Harris: I just want to remind the leader of the Liberal Party, who talks about child care spaces, that we have a surplus of empty child care spaces in Toronto, in this province today. What we have had, though, is municipalities unwilling to utilize and fund their 20% of those spaces. What we have done is found a way now to maintain those spaces, enhance the funding and assistance to utilize those spaces and, in addition to all that, provide help for an additional 120,000 children and their families over and above and beyond that.

Now you mention junior kindergarten. We are offering to fund our share of junior kindergarten for every child in the province. However, there are some parts of the province -- perhaps it's geographic distance, perhaps it's for two and a half hours a day, it's two hours on the bus -- which have said, "We don't think it makes sense for that." So we have found new ways to help young children at risk, $50 million of programs.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): To the Minister of Finance: Yesterday you tried to put a nice spin on your destructive cuts to Ontario's health care system. You put $450 million into the health care budget and you tried to pass it off as somehow improving patient care. But when you look at the numbers and you look at what it's there for, it's there to pay severance costs for laying off nurses and it's there to pay for some of the construction costs involved in closing over 20 hospitals.

Will you admit now that the $450 million that you show as additional in the health care budget doesn't add a cent to patient care? All it is is one-time dollars, one-time money to get rid of nurses and health care workers who have been laid off and to cover up some of the destruction that's left behind by closing over 20 hospitals. Will you admit that?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The Minister of Health is more than capable of answering this question.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member has it wrong. The fact of the matter is that 450 million new dollars this year, 850 million new dollars next year to the health care budget will help with retraining of those who need retraining during the restructuring process. But it will also be available there when the commission requires new programs, like the $10 million they've asked for to set up the institute for women's health, of which the finance minister announced $6 million of yesterday and which annualizes next year to $10 million; or the $5 million for the AIDS network, which annualizes to $10 million, to improve services and better coordination for people with HIV and AIDS in this province; or the $2.3 million announced for hips and knees to bring 1,000 more surgeries on line so we can pare down our waiting list. Those recommendations and any other recommendations that come forward through voluntary restructurings or the Health Services Restructuring Commission will add new services for patients. So it's not just for severances. It's for new services, to fill gaps in services we have now --

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

Mr Hampton: You've been caught out. Anyone who looks at your health care numbers and then compares them to three or four years ago can show that health care spending per person in Ontario is going down. Health care spending by your government, per capita, is going down.

What you've discovered is that closing all those hospitals means that some capital construction will be required to leave communities like Sudbury or Thunder Bay or London with one or perhaps two half-decent health care facilities. You've discovered there are a lot of construction costs and you've discovered that when you put 5,000 nurses and health care workers out the door, that's a lot of severance pay.

In fact, there's no good news in yesterday's budget for Sudbury or Thunder Bay or London or Women's College Hospital or Doctors Hospital or Wellesley Hospital or Montfort. There's no good news there for them at all. This is all about covering up and repairing the damage you've already done. Why don't you admit it? This is all about laying off nurses and hospital --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member isn't listening very carefully to the president of the Ontario Hospital Association and to the health care experts out there or to his colleagues in other provinces of the New Democratic Party who have restructured their health care systems and today in British Columbia can point to more surgeries and more patient services in modern hospitals with the newest technologies.

We can be very proud in Ontario that we are second to none today and we are on the road to an even better health care system to prepare the system for an aging and growing population. Ontario has some unique needs in terms of the growth of our population that other parts of the country don't have because people want to live in Ontario. One of the main reasons they want to live in Ontario is because of our excellent world-class health care system, which is getting even better with the new money that the finance minister has announced.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Minister, you can spin this and do accounting tricks all you like, but the reality is that in the last two years you cut $800 million from hospital budgets and you forced those hospitals to make those economies before you put in any of these dollars that are to aid in restructuring.

There have been real cuts to patient care. Day after day in this place you hear examples of that, and day after day you stand up and deny that the reality faced by patients and their families in Ontario is true. Your credibility is going down the tubes. Basically what you've done now, having cut $800 million out of hospitals, made them lay off nurses and scramble to try and provide services, is to say, "Now that you've done all that and you've absorbed all that in your budgets, we're going to give you the dollars you needed in the first place."

Minister, you don't have a plan. You haven't told us what's happening with long-term care. You haven't guaranteed that community care is going to covered under OHIP. You can't --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for London Centre. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: All I can say is I'm really glad we don't follow the advice of the opposition parties as a government, because what you wanted was every penny put back in on a community-by-community basis. We've not seen $800 million in savings from hospitals to date. We've seen closer to $400 million. We have announced $950 million in new programs back into some of those very same hospitals. We're taking from Peter to pay Peter. The commission has found $1.1 billion in savings in the system that they say and the experts say and the OHA say will not affect patient care. We're putting all that money plus about $700 million net more over the next couple of years to ensure that there are more services for patients.

Whatever way you slice the numbers, we've put about two and a half times more into health care than we've seen in savings, and the savings come from excessive administration. You've seen the salaries and the number of presidents and vice-presidents we have in these hospitals. You've seen the empty buildings that are 86 years old, like Women's College, which is going to get a new building. These are --

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



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Premier. Two years ago, your Common Sense Revolution promised jobs. In fact, you went around the province saying that your scheme of tax cuts would lead to 725,000 new jobs, and you were quite unequivocal about it, you were quite blunt about it: 725,000 new jobs.

In yesterday's budget you didn't talk about new jobs; you talked about potential, you talked about opportunity. It looks as if your promise has become weasel words. Maybe it was the fact that in August 1995 Ontario lost 13,000 jobs, or perhaps it was April 1996 when the economy dropped 12,000 jobs, or perhaps August 1996 when we lost 39,000 jobs. Premier, can you tell us what has happened to your promise of 725,000 jobs? Can you tell us what has happened to that?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I guess you could play with one-month figures. I could come back and tell you that 45,000 were created in March alone. I could extrapolate that into a couple of million jobs. I don't think that's fair. That was just one month, and then there are other months where it's not as strong, and we all agree with that.

In spite of the fact that the biggest job-killing payroll taxes have come from the federal government, Ontario has cut through the punishing taxes that have come from the federal government, and in less than two years, according to StatsCan figures, we have now created about 150,000 net new jobs in the province of Ontario.

We said that our target over a five-year period is 725,000 jobs. So far, in less than two years, we have 150,000 at the front end, the difficult end. We contrast that with your five-year legacy of minus 10,000.

Mr Hampton: Now we get into it. It's true we had to deal with the legacy of Brian Mulroney.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Government members, come to order. Opposition, come to order.

Mr Hampton: The government I was a part of had to deal with the legacy of Brian Mulroney, the highest interest rates ever, the highest deficits ever and a free trade deal that caused us to lose about 400,000 jobs in two years. The fact is, Premier, those jobs were gained back by 1995. But your record is this: There are 16,000 more people unemployed in Ontario today than there were when you formed the government. There are 100,000 more young people unemployed today. Your trend numbers are not good at all. In fact, the reality gap is growing. That is what you said there would be; this is what's actually happening.

Don't try to blame the federal government. Your cuts have had more to do with job loss than anything else. The question is: What are you going to do about all those people who are being left behind, all those people who aren't getting jobs? That's your responsibility. What are you going to do?

Hon Mr Harris: We had a five-year period, roughly, when the NDP was in power, and they hiked taxes, they brought in labour legislation that was unbalanced, they intervened and got in front of and were very, very negative on business. The net result of the five-year legacy was 10,000 fewer jobs.

What we decided to do was the opposite of what you did: Instead of hiking taxes, we're cutting taxes; instead of more regulation, we're reducing regulation. What has happened as a result of that? So far, even in the initial stages, instead of 10,000 lost over five years, we have 150,000 created in less than two years.

Are we buying jobs? Are we artificially saying, "Here's a bunch of money," and there are jobs? No. We are flat out admitting that government itself cannot create jobs. So what we are doing is creating the climate where the private sector can create jobs. This province is now leading Canada and is in fact projected to lead all G-7 countries over the next three years.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Where are the jobs?

The Speaker: I would remind the members for Welland-Thorold and Fort York that you're out of order. Please restrain yourselves. Final supplementary, member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Premier, the range on jobs that you give the people of Ontario is somewhat meaningless. Look at the facts. What we have is economic growth without corresponding job growth. The hard reality is that 515,000 Ontarians are out of work. Some who are working -- many -- have to get a second and third job to bring home a sustainable income.

All eyes were on you and your minister yesterday. They look at this document. They want a job. They want a chance to be like you, a chance to hope. There is nothing in this document that gives them any chance to look to the future with confidence. What is needed is a serious program with a focus on full-time, well-paid jobs. What you do you have to say? When are you going to get serious?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me thank the finance critic for the NDP for that question, and really for getting down to the heart of what do we plan to do in the future. I think even he would acknowledge our record is -- well, 150,000 to minus 10,000 -- better than his party's.

Let me say, if you look at this Minister of Finance and the credibility he has built up with the private sector job creators, then I think you would agree with me that the government can't afford to hire any more. Even your government was downsizing the bloated size of government you inherited from the Liberals. I think you would agree with me that we have to look at the private sector. The stimulus in this budget -- a $3-billion, 10-year program into research and development, where two out of three jobs have been created now in the economy; the new capital taxes on banks, which can surely afford to pay a little bit more tax, at the same time an incentive for getting dollars into small business --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier. New question.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. It has to do with property tax and the impact of the budget on property tax. We found yesterday in the budget that the government has decided to eliminate the municipal support program. That's $666 million of support from the province to municipalities. That is gone now, so that's going to have to be added on to the property tax. When you combine last week's announcement with that, we see you're adding $666 million on to municipalities.

On January 17 the Harris government said, "Ontario should expect local councils to reduce property taxes by 10%." That's what the government said on January 17. Is the government still saying after yesterday's budget that property taxes in the province should come down by 10%?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): First of all, with respect to the municipal support grant, this government had the courage to do exactly what municipalities all across this province asked us to do. We accepted their proposal. We accepted virtually every single line in their proposal, about 98% of what they asked us to do. We have responded to what they wanted and we responded in a very positive fashion.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): That's nonsense, absolute nonsense.

Hon Mr Eves: That is not absolute nonsense, I say to the member from Kingston. I happened to be sitting in the room with 16 municipal representatives when they agreed to the deal and I can tell you that every single person in that room very enthusiastically supported the agreement. It's the agreement they asked for.

Mr Phillips: The minister may have been quite busy and tired or something. You didn't answer the question. You promised that you would see property taxes reduced by 10%. That was the question, now that you perhaps can listen more clearly. We now find that the province will set one third of the property tax mill rate. The province, for the first time in its history, now is setting one third of the property tax mill rate. It's a very unusual incursion on property tax. You've promised a 10% reduction. My question is this: Will we see the one third of the property tax mill rate that you set reduced by 10% by the year 2000?


Hon Mr Eves: To the honourable member, we are going to do some things, obviously, that have not been done to protect property taxpayers in this province for a long time. During the decade that you two were in power, by the way, student enrolment went up 16%, education costs went up 82%, mill rates went up 80%, the actual revenue paid in property tax for education went up 120% and both of you sat there and watched it happen and did absolutely nothing to protect the property taxpayer.

What we are going to do is freeze the education portion of the residential mill rate. We are providing all kinds of opportunity for municipalities across this province by the year 2000 to reduce property taxes in this province. If they can find a 3% efficiency in the $25 billion a year that municipalities spend, they indeed will be able to pass those savings on to the taxpayers of Ontario.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the finance minister as well. In last year's budget you said you were spending an unprecedented, historic $600 million on child care, and you didn't. On Monday you told Raj Ahluwalia from CBC Radio that broken promise was your biggest disappointment. Yesterday you told Suhana Meharchand from CBC TV, when she questioned you about the broken promise that, you've spent it now. But you haven't. You allocated it to a 1997 child tax credit.

People will file their 1997 taxes in 1998. That money will come out of the 1998 fiscal budget for the government. So you've taken last year's promise and announced this year that you're going to spend it next year. This year that $40 million should have grown to $80 million by your budget plan from last year. Will you tell us, is $80 million in new money going to be spent on child care this year, or has that been put off to 1998 as well?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I know the member for Beaches-Woodbine has a very great difficulty, as do most members of her party, accepting the concept of PSAAB accounting; that is, you account for the money in the year in which you make the decision that it's spent. I know you kept two sets of books. I know that your Treasurer said capital debt isn't debt, that you never have to pay --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Eves: These are accepted accounting principles used by every government in Canada except this one -- until we came into office. The Ontario Financial Review Commission made 45 recommendations to this government and we implemented every single one of them shortly after assuming office.

Your Treasurer said: "Capital debt isn't debt. You don't have to count that as money you owe." I'm sure everybody out there with a mortgage on their house will be happy to know they never have to make a mortgage payment. That was the Floyd Laughren system of accounting.

How did you do? You left the province and our children with a legacy of debt, $100 billion, interest on that debt of $9 billion a year, more than you spent on education, more than you spend on every hospital in the province of Ontario. That was your legacy. Those were your priorities.

The very direct answer to the question is no, we did not spend that $40 million last year. We are accounting for it this year. We are giving a $40-million tax credit. We happen to be in --

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Next year, maybe.

The Speaker: Member for Sudbury East, please come to order. Thank you. Supplementary.

Ms Lankin: I always know that when the finance minister turns red and starts yelling he's on shaky ground with respect to the facts he's putting forward, and when he makes unwarranted attacks on the member for Nickel Belt I know he's on even shakier ground.

Most homeowners and mortgage payers and people who put food on the table know when they decide to go out and buy groceries that they've got to pay for them at that point in time. For you to say that last year's announcement, which you're not going to spend until next year, still holds really makes people wonder about how much you're actually giving to provide child care spaces for children.

My question to you was about last year's announcement for the additional $40 million for this year. That amount was supposed to grow to $80 million this year. What are you doing with that money? Is that also being put off to be spent in 1998?

Hon Mr Eves: Not only have we made a commitment and introduced a brand-new child tax credit -- I know this will come as a great shock to you and those in your party -- there are other methods of child care in the province of Ontario that hard-working, honest, modest-income Ontarians who aren't in a fully government-subsidized day care space pay for. I know that's very difficult for you and your party to comprehend. Your solution to everything is, if it doesn't come out of the government coffers, it doesn't count.

We've also provided in the budget for another $100 million in a further enhancement of a child care tax credit when we implement the national child care program that the federal government is giving us the room to operate in. You want to talk about money to put food on the table. In our Ontario tax reduction in this year's budget, 20,000 additional Ontario families will now not pay any Ontario income tax whatsoever.



Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I know all the good news in yesterday's budget is hard for the opposition to take.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Do you know what I need to know? I need to know who your question is to.

Mr Newman: The Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services. In yesterday's budget the Minister of Finance spoke about creating an endowment fund for the families of police, fire and other public safety officers killed in the line of duty. I agree wholeheartedly with this idea and want to ask you what you have in mind for this endowment. What are the details?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Between 1979 and 1997, 64 police officers and firefighters were killed in the line of duty, leaving behind about 150 spouses and children. That's a tragic statistic made worse by the fact, with respect to police officers, that their killers can receive a free education while in prison at the expense of taxpayers of this country. The children and spouses left behind have to struggle, in many cases, with very modest incomes. The Treasurer announced yesterday a $5-million fund. I want to thank my colleagues in government for correcting a very serious injustice and demonstrating our commitment to front-line public safety officers in this province.

Mr Newman: I'm pleased to hear the Solicitor General's answer, as I'm sure are many members of the police and firefighting communities as well as the public. I want to follow up with the same minister by asking whether this endowment fund will apply to cases in the past. In other words, will this fund be retroactive?

Hon Mr Runciman: Yes, it's my intention to have this fund be retroactive for children who have already lost a parent in the line of duty. The people of Ontario owe a debt of honour to the families of the fallen and this government is discharging that debt.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. I'm not sure that many people would be aware that this is Education Week in Ontario. It is, of course, an absolute coincidence that the government would be releasing its budget during Education Week, because I'm sure not even this government would deliberately choose to celebrate Education Week by confirming that they had made a further $300-million cut to education. The government tried to hide that figure a little bit in its budget and chose instead to emphasize the fact that they were finding some money for capital construction.

The problem is that those new schools the minister has decided he should build will not have the teachers they need because the cuts to the grants are going to mean larger class sizes and more teacher layoffs. This government has now cut $533 million from the grants that go to support our elementary and secondary school students. I ask this minister, how does cutting $533 million, more than half a billion dollars to date, make education better?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I think we have much to be proud of this week, in Education Week, in making the announcements we made in the budget yesterday. I know a lot of the students who will be participating in some of the programs this summer that have been made available because of the announcement yesterday will be very pleased. I know a lot of the students who will be in a classroom, not a portable, over the course of the next year will be very pleased with the announcement this government's made.

I know a lot of the students and a lot of the teachers in those classrooms across the province will be very pleased that this government's been able to announce that there will be stable funding for programs and for students in the classrooms in the 1997-98 school year. We've made that announcement to make sure that the services and the education our students require will be there for them during this period of transition, a period of transition designed to get our tax dollars, our funding to the classroom to benefit students and teachers. That's the whole purpose of the reforms we've taken on. We're very proud of those and we're going forward with them.

Mrs McLeod: If this minister's proud, he's either ignoring what's happening to real students in real schools or he simply doesn't care, because we're already starting to see what is happening to students in classrooms as a result of this new round of $300 million more in cuts. Boards like the Peterborough board: They don't know how they're going to handle the $5.3-million cut they've got and still keep junior kindergarten, which they hung on to last year. Your own MPP Gary Stewart has already told you how worried he is about that one. The London Board of Education, looking at a $13-million loss in grants, is now cutting some 132 jobs and at least 100 of those are teaching jobs -- 100 fewer teachers even though there are 489 more students in the London Board of Education this year. The Victoria county board doesn't know where they're going to go because they have already cut junior kindergarten and 100 employees last year. The Ottawa board is now talking about laying off 400 teachers.

A recent survey showed so clearly that people want to protect education that at least 80% would slow down the deficit reduction to maintain spending. How many teachers will be laid off, how many programs will be lost and how large will class sizes be because you refuse to slow down your cuts?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member opposite has demonstrated an uncanny ability to do recycling. Yes, almost two years ago I announced some savings targets that were very modest compared with the savings that board associations themselves told us they could make. Yes, we introduced legislation to help them reduce the cost of administration and the cost of bureaucracy within their systems. Yes, we did introduce that.

Last December 20, I was able to tell school boards that there'd be no new savings this year and there are not. Most boards across this province have been able to find those savings last year and have absolutely no problems in terms of delivering programs this year. Not only that, they'll have stable funding for 1997 and 1998 as well.

The member opposite is right in one regard. The general legislative grant program, the way we funded education through your government, and through their government, is wrong, it's bad and it leads to second-class students in this province. We are changing that to give every student in the province the opportunity for a first- class education and I am proud of that.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Premier. In the Common Sense Revolution and during the election campaign, you promised your government would not introduce any new user fees. Yesterday in the budget you broke that promise. You are now going to charge northern drivers a new fee of $37 for registration of their vehicles. You are now going to charge motorcycle owners in northern Ontario a new fee of $21 to register their vehicles. You're going to increase the registration fee for commercial vehicles an additional $2. Owning and operating a vehicle in northern Ontario is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Can you tell me why you are charging northern drivers these new user fees?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Northern Development could answer that.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I appreciate the question. This is an issue about fairness. We recognize that gasoline taxes are higher in northern Ontario and that's why they will only pay one half of what southern Ontario residents will pay. But the real question northerners have been asking is for an improvement to their road system. This budget brings about $200 million in new dollars over the next five years to spend more money than has ever been spent in the history of the province in northern Ontario because of the abysmal shape these roads were left in after 10 years of neglect.

Ms Martel: Northerners already pay for road improvements in northern Ontario. We pay at the pump, Minister, in case you've forgotten that. We consistently pay more for gasoline than anyone anywhere else in Ontario, and that's why our government did away with the vehicle registration fee, to recognize that reality. Your government's going to take in $1.9 billion in new revenue from your gas tax this year. Some of that money should be going back into northern Ontario to improve northern highways. Instead, you're going to punish northerners by making them pay more at the pump and now making them pay these new user fees. Why are you, as Minister of Northern Development, punishing northern drivers in this way?

Hon Mr Hodgson: To the member of the third party, that's nonsense. What we're doing is reinvesting in northern Ontario road structures. I have talked to hundreds of people who reside in northern Ontario who are legitimately concerned about the shape their roads are in. They're worried about the safety for themselves and the safety for their children. They recognize that road travel in northern Ontario is a necessity, that it's not a luxury, that you have to be able to travel on safe roads.

This increase recognizes the fairness. It's half of what we pay in southern Ontario, and there's more: There is $40 million added to a base budget to improve road conditions in northern Ontario. That's $200 million on top of a base budget.

Last year we spent more money on road construction than at any time in the history of the province. In each of the next five years we'll be spending money on road construction to build that infrastructure up, and if it's done properly, those roads will last for 15 years. It's a shame the maintenance wasn't kept up on those roads, and this government has had to reinvest $200 million, far in excess of any fee that's going for licences.

Northerners have told us that as long as the money went directly back into road improvements --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.



Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): My question is to the Minister of Labour and it concerns the Ontario-Quebec construction labour mobility agreement. I was surprised yesterday at the suggestion that this government was somehow less than anxious to finalize the important work of putting together a detailed interpretation guide for the Ontario-Quebec labour mobility agreement.

In my riding of Nepean in eastern Ontario and throughout the region construction mobility has been a major issue for many, many years. For years now people have been fighting for a level playing field between Ontario and Quebec, workers and contractors alike.

Some in the province, seeing the proceedings of this place yesterday, might have been left with the impression that all that was required was the translation of a simple two-page pamphlet. Could the minister outline to this House the full complexity of the guide and tell us what specific efforts are being taken by her ministry to complete it before the important construction season?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I'm glad the member for Nepean has been very involved in reaching a resolution. I also appreciate the fact that he recognizes the complexity of the task that is ahead of us.

This agreement is unique in the Canadian federation. In fact, our agreement with Quebec is the only bilateral labour mobility agreement in all of Canada, and there is nothing like this 170-page guide anywhere else. Members of this House need to know that this guide was drafted in both languages, and it involved five ministries in Ontario and 12 ministries in Quebec as well as additional agencies. You might also be interested to know that this guide covers 28 tradesperson categories and 40 construction industry occupations. It has been a very complex task, but I'm proud to say --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Baird: We all welcomed the landmark agreement signed last year between Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces, seeking to establish a level playing field for workers and contractors alike. This is something for which people in my part of the province have been fighting for decades. What assurances can I give to my constituents in Nepean that this agreement will be monitored to make sure that it's fully respected and to make sure that our construction workers and contractors get access to work in the province of Quebec?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I think it's important to recognize that this government was the first one to bring together the two sides and reach an agreement that guaranteed equal access for the Ontario construction worker in the province of Quebec.

I can assure you that the senior members of my staff at the Ministry of Labour are going to continue to monitor the agreement. There is also now a single point of entry with the Ottawa office of the Ministry of Education and Training. I can assure you as well that the bilateral monitoring body is going to continue to focus on this. Simply, I want to indicate to you, the agreement has been there. It is working. The guide that will be released next week is simply a tool to the interpretation.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday Mike Harris put this budget over on Ontarians as though it were good medicine for Ontarians. Minister, I'd like to ask you about medicine and health care in Windsor and Essex county. As you well know, and so does the Premier, we've had a terrible problem in the Windsor area because your government has not reinvested funding as you promised you would.

What we know is that in the budget you presented yesterday you showed more capital, more operating, reconfiguring money, $850 million worth, $600 million of which you did not spend but you announced. Our area in Essex county is looking for $170 million in reconfiguration money. You are well aware that this is exactly what we need. Minister, where is our money coming from and when?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): We've set aside hundreds of millions of new dollars in anticipation of the health services restructuring reports in areas like Windsor-Essex. As you know, the commission has indicated it's going to your area. If it's anything like the interim report from London, here's what the commission said in terms of new dollars for home care and new hospital beds and transitional beds that have to be put into London.

Of that new money, the hundreds of millions of dollars going into health care above the $17.8-billion budget, the commission suggests, for example, we spend $1.3 million of that in adding 40,000 more home nursing visits to the London area because there's a gap in services and we're going to need more services. They recommend $883,000 to $1.1 million for transitional or sub-acute-care beds, a new type of bed, in the province that will give greater comfort to patients so that they're not discharged from hospital so quickly.

When the commission is done with your area, there's a huge fund of money now to ensure that every reinvestment the commission says needs to be done to improve health care in Windsor-Essex will be done.

Mrs Pupatello: Minister, what you need to understand is that in Windsor-Essex county we started reconfiguration three years ago. Your Conservative members from southwest Ontario are well aware, even through media reports, that what they hear in this House is absolutely true, and that is that you have not reinvested. You have never once come to Windsor with a cheque. You have come to Windsor to do your flamboyant announcements and accuse former ministers of not playing the game.

You have been most political of all, because you have come down with some kind of panacea of an announcement where we have needed reinvestment funding for years, and you are not giving it. Minister, stand today and tell me that you are guaranteeing in this year $170 million for Essex county.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister, you must withdraw that comment.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): Mr Speaker, I'll withdraw it. I think it's the one that I said was misleading?

The Speaker: Yes.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Well, we'll find that out.

The Speaker: You know what? I'll ask you to withdraw that comment.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I withdraw it.

Hon Mr Wilson: I was just down in Windsor-Essex a few weeks ago to give 19 million new dollars for a new cancer centre, and the honourable member has the gall today to say that isn't reinvestment. That is reinvestment. I'm prepared to go to Windsor as soon as the commission --

Mrs Pupatello: You didn't bring any money down there; that is not reinvestment.

The Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, I warn you to come to order.


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, you're in the wrong seat and you're out of order.


The Speaker: That's out of order too, Minister of Northern -- that's out of order as well.

Hon Mr Wilson: Maybe the honourable member isn't thankful, because she complains every day in this House about something. The fact of the matter is that when I was at the cancer centre and I had a discussion with the staff, they were very, very, very grateful for the $19 million for that brand-new cancer centre to bring enhanced cancer services to the people of Windsor-Essex.

The Speaker: Motions.

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

Mrs Pupatello: Dianne, did you --

The Speaker: Order. Thank you. We're at the motions stage.


The Speaker: Order. The repartee is not reaching heights here; let's just bring it down.




Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that Mr Parker and Mrs Ross exchange places in order of precedence for private members' public business; and that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 78.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Mr Johnson moves -- dispense? Dispense. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



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

"Whereas TVOntario 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."

Of course I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I present petitions forwarded to me by Ron Jesse, the WCB worker representative from UFCW Local 1227P in the Hamilton and Burlington area. The petition reads as follows, and it's signed by 472 members of UFCW Local 1227P:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the current Progressive Conservative government of Ontario is proposing to amend the Workers' Compensation Act; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments include cutting maximum benefits from 90% to 85% of net average earnings; and

"Whereas the government is further proposing to outlaw workers' compensation benefits for chronic stress; and

"Whereas the direct payment by employers to employees for the first four to six weeks of disability essentially amounts to privatizing a huge portion of WCB, giving employers total control and benefiting private insurance companies; and

"Whereas the Occupational Disease Panel will be folded back into the WCB, therefore compromising their ability to do credible independent work on establishing the cause of occupational diseases; and

"Whereas employer assessments under the government's proposals will be cut by 5%, adding billions of dollars to the board's unfunded liability;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold full provincial public hearings on any proposed amendments to workers' compensation legislation to provide all the people of Ontario the opportunity for full disclosure of all proposed amendments and the ability and forum to ensure that all the facts and potential impacts are heard and addressed."

I add my name to theirs.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is signed by 625 constituents, not all in my riding, and I will sign it as an indication that it has to be done so to be presented.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition which is addressed to the honourable John Snobelen, Minister of Education and Training, and to the members of the Ontario Legislature. It's a very short petition, but it comes right to the point:

"We, the undersigned, believe that the education of our children will suffer because the education reforms introduced by the Minister of Education and Training do not reflect:

"(1) The democratic principles that are cherished by our society;

"(2) A true perception of what our `classrooms' involve and a true assessment of their cost; and

"(3) A recognition of the special funding needs in Metro."

I'm pleased to sign it.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai ici une pétition adressée à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario.

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario se propose de changer entièrement la structure des relations entre la province et les municipalités sans avoir consulté la population de l'Ontario ; et

«Que cette restructuration propose de transférer aux municipalités le coût des services de transport et des services sociaux essentiels tels que l'aide sociale et les soins de longue durée à l'intention des personnes âgées et des personnes atteintes d'une maladie chronique ; et

«Enlève aux conseils scolaires leur habilité à lever des impôts, éliminant tout pouvoir de contrôle réel sur les écoles et les programmes scolaires ; et

«Considérant que le gouvernement ne manifeste pas d'intérêt pour une consultation réelle du public, qu'il ne prend pas en compte les réactions du public et qu'il constitue ainsi une grave menace pour la démocratie ;

«Nous, les soussignés résidents et résidentes de l'Ontario, parce que nous nous soucions de la qualité de vie dans notre province et du bien-être de nos enfants, de nos voisins, de nos voisines et de nos communautés, déposons par la présente un vote de non-confiance contre le gouvernement de l'Ontario.»

Je soussigne cette pétition.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have a petition today from the constituents of my riding of Simcoe East.

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

"As taxpayers and consumers, we have the right to make and act upon our own choices with respect to medical and health therapies offered by all regulated health care professionals, particularly physicians, as long as we are not being harmed or at risk of appreciable harm."


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've affixed my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions from Canadian Auto Workers in Windsor, Toronto and Hamilton, 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;

"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."

On behalf of my caucus colleagues, I add my name to theirs.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature to this petition.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Conservative government of Mike Harris has closed three out of five hospitals in Thunder Bay and two out of three hospitals in Sudbury and 11 hospitals in Toronto;

"Whereas drastic funding cuts to hospitals across Ontario are intimidating hospital boards, district health councils and local hospital restructuring commissions into considering the closing of local hospitals;

"Whereas hospitals in the Niagara region have provided an outstanding essential service to patients and have been important facilities for medical staff to treat the residents of the Niagara Peninsula and will be required for people in Niagara for years to come;

"Whereas the population of Niagara is on average older than that of most areas in the province;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Minister of Health to restore adequate funding to hospitals in the Niagara region and guarantee that his government will not close any hospitals in the Niagara Peninsula."

I affix my signature to this petition, as I'm in full agreement with it.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition signed by some 200 or 300 individuals, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas a jail culture promoting violence, distrust and deceit for survival inhibits the offender from making the change from criminal values to responsible societal values which mark rehabilitation; and

"Whereas alternative treatment centres or different sentences (eg, community service) would reduce the overcrowded conditions in our jails; and

"Whereas our citizens want safer communities, which can only be achieved by changing people; longer sentences and larger jails with harsher conditions merely increase anti-social behaviour; and

"Whereas a more cost-effective approach to our extremely high levels of incarceration is to put our resources into high-quality child care, parenting education and recovery programs aiding troubled people;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned members of faith communities and concerned citizens, urge our government to set aside plans for the so-called superjails and to invest in the people, not buildings."

I've signed the petition.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We urge the provincial government to pass legislation that will strengthen measures against impaired drivers in Ontario."


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The campaign to save TVOntario continues very strongly with a petition campaign coming from all across the province and I am pleased to read one more petition today.

"Whereas TVOntario has served Ontarians of all ages for more than 25 years with quality non-commercial television that 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 educational broadcaster."

I am proud to sign my name to that.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by members of the United Steelworkers of America, OPSEU and CUPE.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario in keeping with the remarks of my leader earlier this afternoon.

"Whereas the early years represent the vital foundation for success in a child's life;

"Whereas all children deserve full access to high-quality early childhood education which best meets the needs of their families;

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

"To reinstate capital funding to early childhood education;

"To mandate compulsory participation in junior kindergarten for all school boards;

"To ensure a fair and equitable wage for all early childhood teachers which reflects the value of the work they do;

"To ensure ratios are maintained at current levels so that the needs of individual children may be met; and

"To follow through with the allocation of $200 million over five years as promised in the May 1996 budget."

I'm very happy to affix my signature to go with hundreds of residents of my riding who are very concerned about this issue.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): For those who are just tuning in, this is the commencement of the debate on the budget that was introduced in this House yesterday.

I intend to take some time on behalf of my party to offer some comments, constructive by and large, on the budget. In particular, I intend to bring home to the members of the government that ultimately the reason we have been sent here is to represent the interests of people. We're not here to advance the cause of government, the cause of business, the cause of labour, the cause of interests of any particular kind. We are here, at the end of the day, to represent people. It is my intention to show that people have been overlooked in the budget we had presented in this House yesterday and that this government is attacking the fiscal deficit at the risk of people and that in effect it's creating something I call a human deficit.

We have prepared a publication called The Human Deficit: The Real Cost of the Mike Harris Budget. In this document we outline in some detail how the budget is exacting a cost on the people of this province and the quality of life that we have come to enjoy.

At the outset, I want to make it clear where I come from when it comes to these kinds of things and offer some sense of my values, because I think it's important for Ontarians to gain that understanding. I was elected as leader of my party some six months ago and I think it's important for them to gain some better impression of who I am and what's important to me.

Before studying law I studied biology. I did that for four years. Maybe that's one of the reasons I often think of our electorate in terms of anatomy. There's the head, or the intellect; there's the heart, and that's compassion; there is the gut, and that's the visceral. I believe that our obligation as leaders is to avoid the gut.

Let me give you an example of a simplistic kind of pitch that would be geared to the gut. That would be if I was to stand up in this House and say: "You know, the real problem in Ontario today is all those people on welfare. We all know that they're sitting around at home watching TV and drinking beer and there's not a single one among the lot who has any genuine interest in advancing themselves and pulling themselves forward. What we really ought to do is, we've got to do something with those people. Or maybe more importantly, what we really ought to do is something to those people."


That is a good example of a pitch targeting the gut in a game. I think our job as leaders, as holders of public office, but especially as Liberals, is to avoid the gut. Our job is to strike that balance between the head and the intellect and the heart and compassion -- the head especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, and compassion because we believe that everybody has got to move forward together. If anybody is left behind, then we cannot lay claim to calling ourselves a truly caring and compassionate society. That's where I come from. I think our job as Liberals is to avoid the gut, avoid those kinds of pitches or appeals which are designed to reflect our worst; rather to appeal to that sense of balance between the head -- the intellect -- and the heart -- compassion -- which is designed to bring out our best.

What are we to make of this budget? What are we to make of the budget introduced in the House yesterday by the Minister of Finance, Ernie Eves, a budget prepared, condoned and encouraged and nurtured by the Premier, Mike Harris? I think the budget has left Ontario people behind. I think this government has an unhealthy obsession with the deficit; I think this government has adopted a dangerous policy of delivering to us a tax cut that we can't afford.

Let me be very clear about the tax cut, because that seems to be the topic du jour in the midst of this federal election. Some argue that a tax cut at this stage is good; others argue that it's not good. I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm in favour of a tax cut, but it's not the right time, and the issue is not whether we want a tax cut; the issue is whether in the grand scheme of things we can afford a tax cut. I think from both an economic perspective and the perspective of people, it's the wrong thing to do at this time.

If we were sitting around a corporate boardroom table today and the accountant for the corporation made a presentation to us and said that we were bleeding profusely, the company was in the red, we were losing money, but somebody else, one of the directors, came forward and said, "I've got a proposal. I want us, notwithstanding that bad news, to declare a dividend to benefit shareholders," or somebody else came forward and said, "I've heard the bad news and I understand we're losing money, but I still want to give a bonus to all our employees," I think the rest of us would say: "Did you not hear what the numbers person just told us? We'd like to be able to do those kinds of things, but we simply can't afford it."

The other thing we ought to keep in mind is that we're caught up here, swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other. We had a number of years of NDP government, and that government felt it could spend its way out of our problems. This government feels it can cut its way out of our problems. Each is just as bad as the other. Each lacks a sense of balance, a sense of responsibility. Each lacks that kind of spirit that is informed by an understanding that you've got to make that appeal to the heart and the intellect at the same time: fiscal responsibility and compassion.

Reckless cutting is just as dangerous as reckless spending. That's what this government is into. They're into reckless cutting. I like to use the example of the mortgage my wife and I have on our home. It's amortized over a 25-year period. If my wife and I really struggled, we could probably pay the damn thing off in 10 or 15 years, but if we did that, it would come at the expense of some of the things we feel are important for our four children to have.

That analogy has some limitations, but it's not unlike the situation our province finds itself in. It has taken a number of years to get into this financial difficulty. I for one don't feel it's worthwhile spending a lot of time trying to lay blame on previous generations of governments or politicians or Ontarians, as if somehow that would make us feel better. The fact of the matter is that we find ourselves in financial difficulty, and the issue is, how do we get out?

I know one thing: It has taken us some time to get in, and we ought to take some time to get out. I think the government ought to be putting before us a clear plan which shows that we are proceeding surely, inexorably towards the elimination of the deficit.

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): That's what we're doing.

Mr McGuinty: The member says, "That's what we're doing," but the problem is that plan is driven by, informed by this obsession with giving us all a tax cut we can't afford. If we didn't have to find another $5.5 billion, if we didn't have to borrow, in effect, another $5.5 billion to deliver a tax cut to Ontarians, then we wouldn't have to be cutting so deeply and in some of the programs that we understand are so important to our future, things like health care and education.

I want to talk to you a moment about some of the information contained in our book here. We talk in here about a number of the deficits which this government fails to recognize. They act as if they're not really there. We talk about our health care deficit that has been created as of a result this government's policies; we talk about our learning deficit; we talk about our children's deficit; we talk about our employment deficit; we talk about the real cost of the Harris tax cuts; and we talk about something that's very interesting, I believe, called the "kept promises deficit." I want to touch on each of those areas because I think they are all of fundamental importance to any intelligent debate of this budget.

I want to talk at the top about our health care deficit. I had a great job after grade 13; I took a year off and I worked at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa. I got a job there as an orderly, and my job was to provide basic nursing care to Second World War vets, some of whom had lost limbs during the course of the war, some of whom were comatose in fact. My job was very simple: to feed these men, shave these men, brush their teeth, give them baths, change their diapers, give them back rubs, turn them from side to side, because as you may recognize, if somebody is confined to bed and can't turn himself, he develops bedsores, so you've got to turn him. I learned how to treat bedsores. What that experience taught me, what it impressed upon me was a fundamental respect for human dignity.

It occurs to me that perhaps the single greatest hallmark of a truly caring and compassionate society is that society's continuing willingness and ability to care for its sick on the basis of one single, solitary criterion: because you're sick. Mike Harris is cutting $1.3 billion from Ontario hospital budgets. Mike Harris is interfering with our ability as a society to deliver care in a compassionate way to Ontario's sick.

I have had the unfortunate obligation to raise in this House stories of patients who are already experiencing the effects of Mike Harris's hospital cuts, of people who are at risk in a very real sense inside Ontario hospitals in 1997 because of policies enacted by this government. I would argue that this is unheard of for a government, that it can be legitimately accused and found guilty of causing harm to Ontario patients inside our hospitals, institutions to which we are supposed to go to receive care.


In addition to that, all of us will recall that during the course of the provincial campaign leading into the last election there was a televised debate, and during the course of that debate questions were raised regarding the future of hospitals in Ontario. I think it's important for Ontarians to recognize that during that debate Robert Fisher from Global TV asked the following question: "Can you guarantee us tonight that your pledge to protect health care will mean that you will not close hospitals?" That was the question and it was directed to Michael Harris, then leader of the third party in Ontario. This is what he said: "Certainly. I can guarantee you, Robert, that it is not my plan to close hospitals." To date, we find 22 Ontario hospitals on the chopping block, this owing to the man who said: "Certainly. I can guarantee you that it is not my plan to close hospitals." What are Ontarians to make of this?

We've heard so much during the course of the last 24 hours about how the Premier is putting all kinds of money into health care. Finally our ship has arrived. It's come in. We can all relax. Patients who find themselves inside Ontario hospitals today ought to breathe a tremendous sight of relief because the Premier is going to look after them. This from the man who told us, "It is not my plan to close hospitals."

It is true that this budget contains some more money for health care in Ontario and for hospitals, but I properly label that money wreckers' fees, because what it's for is to pay off through severance packages the nurses who are going to be fired and it's to close hospitals. It's to restructure. Not one cent of it, not a single penny, is going to go to improve the quality of health care that is delivered in Ontario hospitals today.

The Premier and the Minister of Health are both fond of saying, "It's not bricks and mortar that care for people; it's people that care for people." In that regard, the Premier and the minister are absolutely correct, but what they fail to understand is that nurses are the people who care for people. When you cut $1.3 billion out of Ontario hospital budgets, you're laying off 15,000 nurses. In addition to that, thus far we have laid off 12,300 health care workers who formerly worked in our hospitals. When you lay off that many health care workers, when you lay off 15,000 nurses, you cannot help but compromise the quality of care that is being delivered inside those hospitals.

I'm not making this up. There are stories I have had to raise both in this Legislature and outside that would break your heart. They have to do with the fact that people who find themselves inside hospitals today in Ontario aren't getting access to basic nursing care, the kind I referred to earlier on, the kind I was called upon to deliver as an orderly so many years ago at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa.

I raised in this Legislature some months ago now the story of Mr Kaihla, a patient who found himself inside a hospital in Sault Ste Marie. His son had written an article in the newspaper -- that's why I don't mind talking about this -- and he talked about the experiences his father suffered inside the hospital. He talked about his frustration, and this is a modern-day reality. He found himself here in Toronto, a journalist, and his dad was in Sault Ste Marie, the home town.

We have the case of a single child. We have the case of an elderly wife and mother living in Sault Ste Marie. The father was hospitalized at the end of his life. The mother, the wife, wasn't that well and she couldn't travel to and from the hospital on a regular basis. The son, who lived here in Toronto, had a reasonable expectation that even though he couldn't be there by his father's side and even though his mother couldn't be there to ensure that the father was receiving proper treatment, he had developed this expectation that in our province, in Ontario, in 1997, if you're sick and you're hospitalized, we're going to look after you. What he found was that that was not the case.

This is what he wrote in the newspaper. When he did have the rare occasion to visit the hospital he said: "I was shocked by the general griminess of this hospital environment. My mother and I found soiled diapers left discarded on the floor by my father's bed and unwashed urinals left on the same side table that was used for the food tray and the medications. There were countless lapses in his basic care, like not getting fed when my mother nor I were there to do it."

The son had to return to Toronto, so he had a friend visit the father. The son wrote: "When my friend entered his room before lunch, it did not appear that much nursing had been conducted there yet. My father's IV stand was knocked over. He had not been shaved. His mouth was parched and his lips were cracked. The food tray arrived without any beverage. For the next two hours no nurse entered the room, nor did any staff come to feed him."

One final note from the son. He said: "Seventy-three days after his admission, my father died, his flesh raw and open from his being left too long in soiled diapers so many times. He had screamed in agony when being wiped during his last weekend."

Do you know what they told him at the hospital when he raised complaints about the lack of basic nursing care? They told him that he ought to retain a private duty nurse because they could no longer provide that kind of basic nursing care. That's not the kind of Ontario I want to live in.

If Ontarians understood what is developing in this province under the Mike Harris regime inside our hospitals alone -- I'll soon touch on education -- I think they would turn their heads away and say: "That is not for me. I am not comfortable with that. If you are sick in my province, if you are in physical need, we're going to look after you." Right now, we can't deliver that kind of care. That is not the fault of our hospitals, it is not the fault of our hospital administrators or our nurses. It's a lack of funding.

You know what? Some people are afraid to say this, but some of the quality of life we happen to enjoy here costs a bit of money. It's as simple as that. I make no apologies for that. The quality of care, the quality of life that we enjoy in this province is a function, to some degree at least, of what we spend. If we find ourselves in some financial difficulty, then yes, we've got to find efficiencies, we've got to find savings, but let's be careful. When we make cuts, let's make sure that we're not making those kinds of cuts we are feeling today in Ontario hospitals, cuts that are resulting in a lack of basic nursing care to people who find themselves in need inside those hospitals.

We've also raised in this Legislature the story of somebody else's father. I think it's important from time to time for all members in this House to recognize that we're always talking about people here. It's easy to get caught up in programs and policies, and we talk in terms of billions of dollars. But fundamentally what governments do has an impact on people at a very basic level.


I want to tell you another story, not about a patient but about somebody else's father. This man was 82 years of age and he arrived at the Peterborough Civic Hospital by ambulance on February 4 of this year at 9 o'clock in the morning. He had only been to the doctor twice in 59 years of marriage. He was a very healthy man. He found, when he arrived there, that there were no beds available, so his wife and his daughter waited with him in the emergency ward.

His daughter had to leave to go to work, so at about noon she leaves, gets in the car and drives to work. The mother was growing tired, and by 9 o'clock in the evening she figured she'd have to leave as well. She had made efforts to try to get him a bed during the course of the day. At 10 o'clock the following morning the daughter returned to the crowded emergency hallway to find her father was still there. He had not been placed in a room. When she approached her dad, she found that in fact he had died. Nobody in the hospital knew that this man on this bed in this hallway, underneath glaring lights, being bypassed by patients and hospital workers alike, had died.

So she runs over to the administration and she says, "How long has my father been lying here dead?" Can you imagine that? In 1997, in Ontario, you bring your father to the hospital, you leave him there with the reasonable expectation that he'll be cared for, that somebody at some point would examine him, determine what the problem was and do what they could to address it. You leave him there and you come back the next day and you yourself discover that in this sanctuary, this refuge, your father had died and nobody knew about it.

That's just another sad tale I wish I didn't have to relate to the members of this Legislature and to our television viewers. But I want them to understand that we've got a problem today in Ontario, and it's a very serious problem, in that when you cut $1.3 billion from Ontario hospital budgets, there is a corresponding effect. There has been a significant reduction in the quality of care that's available at our hospitals, and that's directly related to the fact that this government is taking money out of our hospital budgets.

I want to talk to you about education in Ontario, the state we find it in today. But I want to tell you a little story first. I have the occasion now, as I do on a regular basis, to go out and give speeches. I had the opportunity to deliver a speech to a group of senior women in Ontario right here at the main library in downtown Toronto. The average age of my listener would have been, I think, somewhere near 67 or 68. I was impressed by the fact that the concerns they raised with me after I had finished speaking were twofold. One you would expect: They're very concerned about health care in Ontario, for the reasons I've just related.

But the next thing they talked about was education. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that these senior women understood, had an innate sense that of all the things we can do to ensure that Ontario can really embrace the 21st century, to ensure that we're going to make it, there is nothing more important than to invest in our people by providing them with the best possible education.

I think most people in this province understand that. We are going to get by in the 21st century on brainpower. We've got to have the best-skilled, the most highly educated workforce on the planet right here. That ought to be the ideal we hold before us. That ought to be what informs our efforts. That ought to be what motivates this government.

I want you to think of this now: Last year, 44 out of 50 American states increased funding to their publicly funded universities. That's what they did. What did we do in Ontario? We cut funding to our universities by, I think, 16%. We took $400 million out of post-secondary education in Ontario. We now have the distinction of ranking last in all of Canada when it comes to funding for our universities.

What is it that the Americans know that apparently this government doesn't understand? What is it that the other provinces know that this government doesn't know? They understand that if we're going to get ahead, if we're going to make it in a global economy, in a knowledge-based economy, it's going to be by ensuring that we equip our people with the best skills and the best education possible.

We cannot compete in some of the base kinds of industries because there is always going to be another jurisdiction that is going to pay a lesser minimum wage; there's always going to be another jurisdiction that is going to waive its environmental laws, assuming there are any. That is not our shtick, we have never been any good at it, but where we are very good is in knowledge and developing a knowledge-based economy.

We have this perverse situation today where with unemployment somewhere between 9% or 9.1% in our province, I have 3,000 jobs in our community that we can't fill. Think of that: 3,000 jobs today in Ontario that we can't fill. Those jobs are all in high tech. I don't think any of them start at less than $45,000 a year. For every one of those jobs we fill, we create three or four spinoffs for people who know nothing about high tech.

What is this government doing to ensure we're filling those jobs? What is this government doing to ensure our universities are second to none, to ensure our post-secondary system of education is world-class, to ensure all Ontarians can look forward to the future with optimism? Nothing. They cut funding by 16%. They took $400 million out of post-secondary education in Ontario last year. The government before, the NDP government, increased tuition fees by 42%. This government has increased them by 30%.

There comes a point in time when post-secondary education becomes something that's out of reach. I know I speak for everybody here when I say we want our young people to go on to post-secondary studies, but we're putting a fence up in front of them, we're putting a hurdle in front of them that too many of them can no longer overcome, because it's becoming too expensive.

Some people believe that increasing, to some extent, student assistance is the solution. But I can tell you that I've had the opportunity to review some studies that have come from other jurisdictions, and they show that notwithstanding the amount of student assistance -- and it's at a shameful level in Ontario today. But even if that were rectified, in the face of exceedingly high tuition fees, there are many, many students -- and this is documented -- who would say to themselves, "I am not comfortable graduating with that size of a debt load."


My parents at home told me, "You pay as you go." We didn't get the roof until we could afford it; Mom and Dad didn't get the car until they could afford it. But we're telling students, "You've got to come out of school now with a debt to the tune of $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, if you're doing post-graduate work." Too many of our students are then going to say: "If that's the case, to heck with it. I am not going to pursue post-secondary studies. I am not comfortable with that notion of so much debt on my shoulders when I get out of school." I don't think this government understands that.

I've talked about post-secondary, but let me for a minute talk about the other end. The actions of this government have led to 25 school boards in Ontario to date cancelling junior kindergarten. That means that 30,000 young Ontarians have been deprived of junior kindergarten.

I know there is a fiction out there, some kind of myth. That fiction or myth says this: "It's just a fancy babysitting service. Junior kindergarten doesn't teach them a damned thing. The mothers ought to be at home; that's where they belong, and they ought to be looking after the kids." That fails to recognize modern reality. The fact of the matter is, the great majority of couples who are raising children in Ontario today are both out working, and they're not out there to pay for luxuries; they're out there working hard to pay the rent or pay the mortgage or make the car payments or pay for the diapers or pay for the baby food. That's why they're doing it. That is a modern-day reality.

Let's come back to junior kindergarten. All of the studies are in on this. Everybody who is an authority in this area understands that it benefits children from all socioeconomic groups. It helps us detect problems, if there are any, at an early stage and it helps us to begin to treat those problems at the earliest possible time.

We also know that the mind is most impressionable, it's most plastic, in the early years, and kids are like sponges: They'll take in that information. We get them ready to learn, we get them excited about learning, we top them up so they're all at the same level, and then when they get into kindergarten and the years beyond that, they are truly ready and prepared for learning. I think most people in Ontario today innately would understand that we need more education today, not less.

Some 23 boards in Ontario today as a result of this government's policies have made reductions to their special education programs. At some point in time you've got to apply a moral test to government. Some people might shrink from that word, say: "That's kind of old-fashioned. I'm not comfortable with that." What I mean by that is most people have an innate sense of what's right. When you apply the moral test to cutting back on special education, cutting back on education for those who have learning disabilities, I think most people would say, "That's not right."

There are certain groups in Ontario who don't lobby us, don't write us, don't know how to put together placards, don't mount bus convoys, don't demonstrate outside Queen's Park, and they don't even vote. I would include in that group the learning-disabled; I would include in that group children; I would include in that group our most senior Ontarians; I would include in that group people who are very ill. I think most people in Ontario understand that it would not be right for the rest of us to benefit at the expense of those people. So when I talk about a moral test, that's what I'm talking about. I think this government is failing the moral test when it comes to things like special education.

Coming back to something I said at the outset, how important it is for us to keep our eye on the ball in politics, I got into politics for people. Sometimes, given the forces that act on all of us, it's not easy to keep your eye on that ball, because you've got to get caught up in the policies and you've got to get caught up in the programs and you've got to look at statements of account and budgets. But really the reason we're all here is for people.

I want to tell you another story about somebody I encountered along the way as the MPP for Ottawa South. Mr Kirwan came to see me a few months back and he told me he'd had a problem and he wanted me to help him out with it. He wanted me to meet his son. I went to meet his son, Gordie. Gordie is 21 years of age, he's a big, strapping, handsome fellow, but he's not like the rest of us. He doesn't play football or soccer or baseball; he plays with his teddy bear. Gordie has the mind of a three-year-old.

His dad came to see me, and his mother. They spoke to me about the fact that he had been enrolled in an education program that came to an end when he was 21 years of age. Just to show you what it's like in the Kirwan home, the way it worked for Gordie's parents was they told me there had been a major cause for celebration some six months prior. You know what it was? The mom and the dad were at the dinner table and they heard the toilet flush. That was the cause for celebration. Gordie, 21 years of age, had gone to the bathroom on his own.

Those of us who have had the joy of raising kids know some of the milestones along the way. You begin to look forward to the day when your daughter can dress herself or your son can tie his shoes or the kids are finally out of diapers, those kinds of things.

The Kirwans have a 21-year-old son. That is their lot in life and they have not for one instant tried to shirk what they feel to be their proper responsibility. Gordie's never going to be out of diapers. They are prepared to assume responsibility for their son until the day he dies, but they felt they needed just a bit of a hand from the government. It seems to me that in the grand scheme of things they weren't asking for a hell of a lot.

Gordie had recently learned at school, at 21 years of age, to point to three diagrams. One of those diagrams meant, "I'm hungry"; the other diagram meant, "I'm tired and I want to go to bed"; and the other diagram meant, "I want to go to the bathroom." That was a major accomplishment for the Kirwans.

When he turned 21 years of age, there's a law in Ontario that says, "We're no longer going to pay for your education." So they had two options. They could come up with the money on their own -- and it was a lot of money; I forget the exact amount, but certainly in excess of $15,000 -- or they could put him on a waiting list for group homes, and in our area there's a waiting list of some 300 people. In fact, they had another option too. One of them could stay at home with their son all day, every day. As Mrs Kirwan put it to me: "I dearly love my son but I couldn't stay home with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. I just couldn't do it."


All the Kirwans wanted was the help of the government to keep their son in school, given the fact that he was still learning. It was only after I raised Gordie's plight in this Legislature that the Minister of Education said that he was going to look at it. In fact, he said that he was prepared to make the necessary change in that law. I haven't seen any sign of that yet, but on behalf of the Kirwans I remain very hopeful.

With this story and the others that I've told, the point I want to drive home is something our parents have been telling us for centuries: There's no free lunch. If you honestly think we can get a tax cut in Ontario today that's going to cost $5.5 billion and there are no downsides, then you're dreaming in Technicolor. People are going to get hurt. I think most people in Ontario, if they understood the downsides, truly understood them, would say: "I'm not comfortable with that. That's not right."

You know the good news in Ontario? The good news is that we're still not comfortable with people sleeping on our streets. We're still not comfortable knowing that somebody's father could die in a hospital hallway and nobody on staff at the hospital would know about it. We're still not comfortable in Ontario, thank God, with kids turning to crime and drugs. We're still not comfortable with any of those things, and that's why I am convinced that when people take the time to understand the real consequences of this government's policies, they will turn their heads and say: "That is not for me. That is not my Ontario. I am not comfortable with that."

Over the past several weeks I have raised in this Legislature concerns about children in Ontario, and particularly about children who are the subject of abuse. Today in Ontario over two dozen kids, most of them under the age of three, will be beaten, kicked, punched, slapped, suffer cigarette burns, possibly be shaken very violently. Some of them will experience very severe injury. Some of them will cry as a result of this; others, and this is even worse, will say nothing. It seems to me that one of the obligations we have in this Legislature is to make sure we do all that we reasonably can for those children.

This spring and this summer in Ontario we will have eight inquests held into the deaths of infants and children who had had some connection with the children's aid society. These inquests have made it abundantly clear that the children's aid societies cannot keep up with the demand. They cannot meet their obligations because the workload is simply too great.

This morning's Ottawa Citizen had a story about an inquest being held into the death of a couple of children: Margaret, eight, and Wilson, 10 years of age, brother and sister. In May 1995 their father walked into his apartment where the kids were. He had his rifle with him and he very gently put the muzzle against their heads and gently squeezed the trigger.

The headline of this story is "CAS Logjam Could Lead to Another Tragedy: Social Workers Lack Time to Handle Heavy Caseload, Kasonde Inquest Told." I want to quote from the beginning of this article. It says:

"Social workers at the children's aid society are so overloaded with work that another tragedy like the murder of the Kasonde children could occur, an inquest heard yesterday.

"Jean-Jacques Tremblay, the last CAS social worker to deal with the Kasonde family, said that he and his colleagues were `deluged' when he took the case in 1995. He added that he continues to have too little time to give proper attention to complex matters.

"`With your caseload still being heavy, do you feel there is a real potential for harm?' a male juror asked him.

"`There is no question of that,' replied Mr Tremblay, who said child protection workers typically deal with 12 to 14 families at any given time."

In this case, as in most of the other cases, sadly and tragically the warning signs were there, and for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost because they don't have the time to keep up with the caseload, those warning signs weren't heeded. We didn't pay attention to them.

For example, it says here that Mr Tremblay had been asked earlier to look into a February 1995 report by a teacher that Margaret -- that's the eight-year-old girl -- was so afraid of her father and his gun that she would cry at school on the days he picked her up for visits.

I think everybody recognizes or ought to recognize that we have a serious problem. I would call it a crisis. I'm not sure I've ever called anything else in my seven years in this House a crisis. I don't use that word loosely; I use it very carefully and decidedly. We have a crisis when it comes to our inability to look out for the interests of children who find themselves in circumstances today in Ontario where they are the victims of abuse.

What has this government done in the face of that clear and unequivocal crisis, in the face of testimony at inquests being held into the murders of young Ontario children? You know what they're doing? They're cutting funding to children's aid societies by $17 million. That has led to the layoff in Ontario today of 340 case workers in our province. It's cheap, it's chintzy, it's short-sighted and it reveals, I think goes to the heart of, what this government is all about.

Some people have commented on the discipline of this government. They know who theirs are and theirs know them. They know who voted for them, they will look out for those interests, they will make no efforts whatsoever to branch out, to moderate, to move to the centre of the road.

It's really unfortunate that this government doesn't pay more attention to the needs of children, those silent, quiet victims of the Common Sense Revolution. All the government had to do was restore, at minimum, the funding, the $17 million it had stolen from children's aid societies in Ontario. Is that really in the grand scheme of things that big a deal?

I remain hopeful for our great province, because if you go and knock on doors in any riding in our province today and you tell them one of the results, one of the costs, of the tax cut is that we're cutting $17 million out of children's aid societies and that we're laying off 340 case workers and that children who find themselves at risk today will not be cared for, if you present that contrast to them and ask: "Are you comfortable with that? Does that make you feel proud to be an Ontarian? Does that make you feel good?" I am very comfortable in saying that people will say: "I'm not comfortable with that. That's not my Ontario."


Even from an economic perspective, if we have to reduce everything to an economic argument, from a purely economic perspective it makes sense to invest in our children. We have known for too long now that for every buck you spend up front, you save seven down the line.

I used to make a darned good living as a criminal lawyer, defending what we used to call in those days juvenile delinquents, now called young offenders, and the most pathetic and tragic aspect of my practice was to see how so much of that criminal behaviour was so eminently predictable, and we did nothing about it. We continue to do nothing about it. I know there are all kinds of cheap political capital to be gained by saying, "We're going to slap those kids into those institutions" -- what do we call those things?

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): Boot camps.

Mr McGuinty: They're called boot camps. It's just not part of my vocabulary. "We're going to slap those kids so damned hard they won't know what the heck hit them."

It's too late. I can tell you it is far too late for us to focus our efforts on boot camps. It starts up front. You've got to invest up front, and that starts with ensuring that when you're growing up you're not beaten up by your mom or your dad or mom's boyfriend; it starts by ensuring there's quality day care available; it starts by ensuring that junior kindergarten is there for you, and all the way along the line. If you really want to get criminals where it hurts, you get them at the beginning. You make sure it's tough for them to develop in that way.

One of the things I recall when I was travelling through the province is I met a farmer, a wise man, and we were talking about crime prevention. He said: "You know, son, I want you to think of your lawn in the spring. You know and I know that in a few months' time weeds are going to make their appearance. There are a couple of things you can do, son," as he put it to me. "You can wait for those weeds to appear and pick them out one by one, or you can immediately begin to lay down those kinds of conditions that make it tough for the weeds to make an appearance in the first place."

I didn't know it at the time but he was talking about crime prevention. The same thing applies. We can wait for our young people to become twisted and misshapen because of events that take place around them or we can make efforts to make it tough for those influences to have a bearing on their lives.

One in five children in Ontario today lives at or below the poverty line. If you grow up in poverty, you're growing up in an environment of despair. If you're growing up in an environment of despair, you are more likely, in fact much more likely, studies tell us, to be living in an environment where there is violence. We've got to fundamentally begin to wrap our heads around this very serious problem of child poverty in Ontario.

About 500,000 children in Ontario are dependent on welfare. I made reference to the fact that there's this myth out there, this fiction, that people on welfare don't want to help themselves, that they're all over the age of 21 and they all sit at home all day, watch TV and drink beer. Half of our recipients of welfare in Ontario today are children. They did nothing to earn or deserve that state of affairs. They're just quiet victims. As I said before, they're not going to write to us, they're not going to lobby us, but just because we don't hear from them, just because they don't vote, doesn't relieve us of the obligation to make genuine efforts to help them.

I want to talk about our employment deficit. A number of promises were contained inside the Common Sense Revolution. One of those promises was that this government was going to create 725,000 jobs. God, that sounded good. When I was campaigning, I kind of wished I could say that, but I wouldn't have felt comfortable making that kind of a promise, reaching that far into the future, trying to predict economic conditions. It was just not something we felt we could do. Nevertheless this government, led by Mike Harris, said yes, they can come up with 725,000 jobs. What that means is 145,000 jobs each year and every year. Do you know where we are today? We find ourselves 165,000 jobs behind that target. That's one heck of a lot of jobs we're missing in Ontario today.

When Mike Harris came into office as Premier, unemployment in Ontario was 8.7%. It has since climbed to 9.1%. The theory was that if we gave Ontarians a tax cut, this would put money into their pockets and they would remove that money from their pockets and they would go out and they would buy that fridge and they would buy that car and then buy that house.

The government has been in office now for two years. The tax cut has been delivered in half, and notwithstanding that, unemployment has gone up, and we find ourselves 165,000 jobs behind the target the Premier set for himself. I didn't set that. Anybody who has looked at this tells us it's going to be impossible for the government to catch up on those 165,000 jobs. That is simply much too optimistic and overly ambitious. They are not going to be able to make up for lost ground when it comes to jobs in Ontario.

One of the most tragic aspects of unemployment today has to do with the rate when it comes to our young people. We are at 18.5% unemployment when it comes to young people in Ontario, but in fact in the last year 27,000 young people stopped looking for work. What that means is that the real youth unemployment in Ontario today is somewhere in the range of 25% to 30%. I think Ontarians recognize it is vitally important for our young people to be able to do what previous generations of Ontarians have done, which is to look forward to the future with a tremendous sense of optimism.

I remember what my dad used to tell me. He had the seat before me. We were 10 kids at home and it wasn't always easy, but one of the things he used to tell us was: "The world is your oyster. Anything you want is out there for you. You can get it, because it's all there." I wish fathers today and mothers today, parents today, could make the same kind of statement to their children and say it with sincerity and say it in a genuine way, because I don't think they could.


I think what's really important when it comes to this budget is for Ontarians to forget the numbers, forget the experts and just ask themselves in their own home if they are feeling any better. Do you feel any better knowing that the man who promised you he wouldn't close hospitals is closing your community hospital? Does that make you feel good? Do you feel any better knowing that we're going to lay off 15,000 nurses in Ontario hospitals? You've heard some of those horror stories about patients who have lacked for basic nursing care in Ontario hospitals. Does that make you feel good?

Do you feel any better knowing that 30,000 young Ontarians didn't have junior kindergarten last year? Do you feel any better knowing that we are now the lowest funder per capita in the country when it comes to universities? Does that make you feel good and proud?

Do you feel any better knowing that the man who said he was going to cut your taxes is transferring them down to your property tax level?

Do you feel any better knowing that we've cut $17 million out of our children's aid society budgets? Do you feel any better knowing we've done that at a time when, during the last five years, the reported incidence of abuse of children in their homes has doubled in Ontario?

Forget the numbers, forget the budget, forget the government spin. Ask yourself, knowing all of that in Ontario today, do you feel better? Does it make you feel good? Does it make you feel like saying: "Yeah, bring on the future. I'm ready for it. We are going to make it. We're going to move forward together"? I think most Ontarians would tell you that this government's policies and this government's budget do not inspire them, do not make them hope.

If you really listen to Premier Mike Harris, if you really listen to the policies, do you know what you hear? You hear what we can't do: "We can't do this," and, "We can't do that."

It seems to me that every generation asks the same questions of its political leadership, and the questions are: "How are we going to make it? How are we going to build upon the successes of previous generations in Ontario? Who's going to talk to me about how we're going to meet with success?"

This government does no building, none whatsoever. It wants to take us back. So we're going to have fewer hospitals, we're going to have fewer school boards, but they're going to be bigger boards and in fact bigger hospitals. We're going to have fewer but larger municipalities. It's rather perverse, coming from a government that's against bigger government. They're forming larger institutions of government bureaucracies in a real sense: bigger hospitals, bigger municipalities, bigger school boards.

When you stop to think of it -- some people have trouble with this notion -- one of the reasons we happen to hold the distinction of enjoying, at least until this point in time, the best quality of life on the planet is because government has, until this point in time, played a continuing, positive role in the lives of Ontarians. I for one make no apologies for that. Government does have a positive role to play. I believe that just as government can't do it all, neither can people go it alone. There are always going to be groups of people for whom government has a responsibility to speak out and advance their interests. In that grouping I would put our very young, our very old; I'd put our sick, I'd put our poor, I'd put our disabled. I think any government that doesn't advance the cause of those groups is shirking its proper responsibilities.

When you give away a tax cut, when you give away $5.5 billion --

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): And you borrow it all.

Mr McGuinty: -- and then you borrow it on top of that, to make matters worse, what happens is that there is a downside. That money's got to come from somewhere else, and it's coming by and large from those groups who aren't here, who can't advance their causes, who don't mount demonstrations outside Queen's Park, who don't phone us, who don't write to us, who don't lobby us and, by and large, who don't even vote. I believe that is properly the responsibility of government, to make sure those interests are heard.

I want to talk about this deficit of kept promises. We all travel around the province, and from time to time you'll encounter somebody who says: "Well, at least that guy Mike Harris is doing what he said he was going to do. You can't fault him for that. The man's kept his word. He made some promises; he's honouring those promises. He's honouring his commitments." I want to set the record straight on that front.

One of the things he said was -- I made reference to this promise earlier on and I think it's work repeating -- "Certainly I can guarantee you that it is not my plan to close hospitals." To date, he has put 22 hospitals on the chopping block in Ontario.

What else did he say? He said he was going to create 725,000 new jobs in Ontario, and to date he is 165,000 jobs behind that target. Everybody who knows anything about this stuff will tell you there is no way he's ever going to make up for that lag. You just can't make up 165,000 jobs that should have been created by now.

When it comes to the environment, do you know what he said? He said: "I don't think you'll find a cent there cut out of the environment. We were able to find $6 billion in cuts without cutting the environment." That's what Mike Harris said when he was leader of the third party. He said he was going to be able to deliver on his tax cut, he was going to be able to make his other cuts without touching the environment. Do you know what he's cut when it comes to the Ministry of Environment? He's cut out $121 million. That's 42% of the budget. He's laid off about one third of the people who worked there. We have now seriously impaired our ability as a province to inspect what is going on out there and to enforce existing laws.

Something else Mike Harris said in the Common Sense Revolution: "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees." Let me give you the facts now: To date, he's brought in $225 million in new user fees for seniors and the poor who purchase medications through the Ontario drug benefit plan.

Let me just comment for a moment on election promises. They are the subject of some considerable disrepute. One of the reasons of course is that from time to time you have a politician who makes a promise and doesn't keep it. When you make that promise, it's clearly made in an effort to induce people to vote for you, and when you break it, when you don't honour that commitment, you leave people in the lurch. What you've done for seniors and what you've done for our poor and what you've done for our disabled who purchase medication when you've brought in user fees is you've really breached a very serious commitment.


Agriculture: Mike Harris said, "There will be no cuts to agriculture." No cuts. To date, he has cut agriculture by $80 million. That includes $22 million in cuts to policy and farm finance; $10 million in cuts to education, research and labs; and $11 million in cuts to food industry development: $80 million.

Municipal downloading: Speaker, I know you've been looking forward to this one; listen to this one now. This is what Mike Harris said in the Common Sense Revolution. He said, "There is only one...taxpayer -- you. We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any actions we take will not result in increases to local property taxes." To date, he has downloaded $1.3 billion in new costs on to our municipalities.

Mike Harris the Taxfighter has become Mike Harris the Taxhiker. We didn't understand that when he was focusing on reducing taxes, he was focusing on reducing taxes at the provincial level. Maybe we didn't read the fine print. Maybe the fault was entirely ours, and for that we beg forgiveness. But it's also possible that what the Premier intended to do was to download financial responsibilities on to property taxpayers so he could say: "I've got my fiscal house in order. That problem is yours." Those who are going to take the heat, of course, are going to be our representatives at the municipal level. But I'm convinced that property taxpayers are going to see through that. They're going to see through that and lay the blame where it properly lies, which is at the feet of Premier Mike Harris.

Something else contained in the budget that I found rather petty and demeaning was the effort to lay blame on the federal government. I'll tell you why it was rather surprising to me. I want to relate something that was said by Mike Harris when he was leader of the third party, something he said in this very Legislature on May 11, 1994, almost three years ago to the day. At that time, while he was giving a speech, he said:

"Instead, the government now of Ontario is reduced to whining and squabbling with other levels of government. This wasn't the way it was for 190 years in Confederation in Ontario, and it wasn't the way it was in the 42 years previous to this last decade.... In Ontario we have always been the leaders in Confederation, and we've now become the whiners in Confederation."

I want to tell you that clearly and most distinctly yesterday in this Legislature I heard whining. It came from a member of the government who was whining about something that was done or not done on the part of the federal government. But there's more stuff here. We're just warming up.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order.

Mr McGuinty: Thank you for restraining them, Speaker. I can't speak fast enough for them. They want to hear this stuff, but I'm just not a fast talker. I want to continue. Mike Harris said:

"So we can continue to complain that other levels of government are not pulling their weight. We can blame local levels of government or we can blame the federal government, or we can turn our energies towards making Ontario more competitive.... When I hear other provinces coming to the federal government, which is $40 billion in deficit, and whining that we need more money, particularly Ontario, this province whose taxpayers pay the bulk of the federal taxes, are on the hook for the bulk of the federal deficit, we must get our own affairs in order.... All we have heard from the government is whining that we need more money from a bankrupt federal government. I believe that it is time for us to stop whining. It is time for us to fix that which is broken right here in our own province. It's time for us to take back our own destiny again, get our own affairs in order again."

Clearly something happened to Mike Harris. The distance between that side of the House and this side of the House is not that great, but obviously something occurred in his transition, his walking from this side to that side, because he made eminent good sense in this particular regard, and now he makes nonsense.

The point I'm trying to make today is that a budget is more than just a financial statement; it's a statement of values. If you look at this budget and you look at the values that inform it, I think you will quickly determine that those values are not shared by the great majority of Ontarians.

I believe Ontarians today value a top-quality health care system, a system that is able to deliver care in a compassionate way, where it's needed and when it's needed. I think most Ontarians today believe we have to have the best possible system of education in place and that when you compel boards to eliminate junior kindergarten programs and when you put us in last place in the country when it comes to funding for our universities, you're not getting us ready for the next century, you're not giving us a reason to be hopeful. I think most Ontarians would disagree with that, and they would expect that their government would look after those kinds of things and make sure that we are preserving or enhancing our system of education at minimum.

I think most Ontarians would tell you that if they have to choose between a tax cut and a top-quality system of education and a top-quality health care system in Ontario, and if they have to choose between a tax cut and stealing $17 million from children's aid societies so that there are 340 fewer case workers able to knock on doors in Ontario and make sure that children who are the subject of abuse are cared for, most Ontarians would tell you they're not comfortable with that, that they don't share those kinds of values.

I think most Ontarians would tell you they don't believe the tax cut is worth the price we're paying for it. They would tell you they understand that there's a cost connected with it and that the cost is simply too great. The cost is being paid by people, but it's especially being paid by people who are in those groups I mentioned earlier, who don't lobby us on a regular basis, who aren't powerful groups, whom we have a special responsibility to represent; that's our very young, our very old, our sick, our poor and our disabled.

I am convinced that when the impact of this budget, combined with the impact of the previous budget, combined with the impact of the Mike Harris policies, is felt all the way down -- that's the real trickle-down that we ought to be keeping our eye on in here, not this hocus-pocus trickle-down economics which has been tried and found wanting in other jurisdictions.


What we've really got to keep our eye on is the trickle-down impact of Harris policies. When people feel that impact, they will clearly begin to send a message to this government that they don't share those values, they are not comfortable with the kind of Ontario we are creating. There is no building going on in Ontario today. If you can see it, then please point to it. Who is doing anything in government today to build our province, to invest, especially in our people by way of education, and to maintain our investment in our systems of health care? Who is doing that? This government is not doing that.

I'm convinced that when Ontarians fully understand the impact of this budget and these policies, they will turn their heads away from this government and say: "That is not my doing. I am not comfortable with that. Who else is out there?" I want to tell you on behalf of my party that we're out there, that we're listening, that we're renewing ourselves, that we're getting ready for 1999 and that it's important for us to hear from them. We understand that ultimately the very best kind of change is change that's brought about in reliance on the goodwill and the expertise of people who find themselves out there.

Is there room for improvement in education? Absolutely. But if you want to bring about the best kind of change, you've got to tap into the goodwill and the expertise of trustees and teachers and parents and students. They are not all obstacles to be overcome, you know; they are resources to be tapped. That's the approach I'm going to bring to government with my party.

When it comes to changing health care, is there room for finding efficiencies in health care? Absolutely. I am not by any means a defender of the status quo. I want to make that clear. But if you want to bring about that change, it's important to tap into the goodwill of our hospital administrators, our doctors, our nurses and our patients. They have the goodwill, they have the expertise, and they are not all obstacles to be overcome; they are resources to be tapped.

If you want to lend new shape to municipal governments in Ontario today, if you want to bring about the best kind of change there, then it's important to talk to the people who live in those communities and it's important to talk to their representatives. They're not all defenders of their own turf; they're not all purely self-interested, small-minded and petty.

There are very few people in Ontario today who are really defenders of the status quo. Most people understand that we've got to bring about positive change. But that's the key descriptive, that it's positive. It's got to be progressive. It's got to be changed for the better. We can only bring about that kind of change if we begin to understand that the people who live in this province are there to help. They are not obstacles to be overcome; they are resources to be tapped.

Perhaps one of the saddest commentaries I could make about this government is that they have lost their sense of privilege, the privilege of government, the sense that they are here to serve the people outside this place. You get the impression of late that this government senses that their job is to tell people out there what's right for them and their opinions don't count, that they're all obstacles to be overcome and they are impediments in the way of change. Clearly, that is not my position; that is not the position of my party.

I want to move the following amendment:

I move that the resolution moved by the Minister of Finance on May 6 "that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government" be amended by deleting the words following the words "that this House" and adding thereto the following:

"Recognizing that the budgetary policy put forward by the Minister of Finance continues to implement a tax cut at the expense of the people of Ontario; and

"That in a mad rush to give a tax cut, the Minister of Finance has created a human deficit which all Ontarians will be forced to pay for years to come; and

"That this budget confirms another $500 million will be cut for hospitals on top of existing cuts; and

"That the only new money for health care in this budget is for nurses' severance and the closing of hospitals; and

"That this budget includes $300 million new cuts to education instead of returning cuts to programs such as junior kindergarten, special education and adult education; and

"That this budget does nothing for quality classroom education or children in classrooms; and

"That this budget completely disregards the one in five children in Ontario living in poverty; and

"That the $17 million this government cut from children's aid societies is not replaced; and

"That this government is falling far short of the 725,000 jobs they promised Ontarians in the last election; and

"That, while the rest of Canada gained jobs over the last seven months, Ontario lost 11,000 jobs; and

"That because the people of Ontario would not choose a tax cut at the expense of quality health care, quality education, quality child care and higher levels of employment; and

"Because both the finance minister and Premier understand the price of everything and the cost of nothing;

"Therefore, this House has lost confidence in this government."

The Acting Speaker: Mr McGuinty has moved that the resolution moved by the Minister of Finance on May 6 "that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government" be amended by deleting the words following the words "that this House" and adding thereto the following:

"Recognizing that the budgetary policy put forward by the Minister of Finance continues to implement a tax cut at the expense of the people of Ontario; and

"That in a mad rush to give a tax cut, the Minister of Finance has created a human deficit which all Ontarians will be forced to pay for years to come; and

"That this budget confirms another $500 million will be cut for hospitals on top of existing cuts; and

"That the only new money for health care in this budget is for nurses' severance and the closing of hospitals; and

"That this budget includes $300 million new cuts to education instead of returning cuts to programs such as junior kindergarten, special education and adult education; and

"That this budget does nothing for quality classroom education or children in classrooms; and

"That this budget completely disregards the one in five children in Ontario living in poverty; and

"That the $17 million this government cut from children's aid societies is not replaced; and

"That this government is falling far short of the 725,000 jobs they promised Ontarians in the last election; and

"That, while the rest of Canada gained jobs over the last seven months, Ontario lost 11,000 jobs; and

"That because the people of Ontario would not choose a tax cut at the expense of quality health care, quality education, quality child care, and higher levels of employment; and

"Because both the finance minister and Premier understand the price of everything and the cost of nothing;

"Therefore, this House has lost confidence in this government."

Further debate?

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry? It is agreed.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): Mr Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker: Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

The House adjourned at 1640.