36th Parliament, 1st Session

L188 - Thu 8 May 1997 / Jeu 8 Mai 1997





















































The House met at 1002.




Mr Kwinter moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 126, An Act to amend the Medicine Act, 1991 / Projet de loi 126, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1991 sur les médecins.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Bill 126 is elegant in its simplicity but profound in its impact on health care in the province of Ontario. I would like to just read into the record the 67 words that make up the bill. It says:

"A member shall not be found guilty of professional misconduct or of incompetence under section 51 or 52 of the Health Professions Procedural Code on the basis that the member practises a therapy that is non-traditional or that departs from the prevailing medical practice unless there is evidence that proves that the therapy poses a greater risk to a patient's health than the traditional or prevailing practice."

That is the total bill. What does it do? It provides that doctors -- and I want it absolutely understood, we're talking about doctors only, licensed physicians -- shall have the opportunity of taking a look and prescribing alternative forms of treatment without fear of discipline or being found incompetent by the regulatory authorities.

This may sound to some as somewhat of a radical departure, but I want to quote from a major article in the Fraser Forum, the publication of the Fraser Institute, which is certainly not by any stretch of anyone's imagination a radical institution.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Read it.

Mr Kwinter: I'll be happy to read it. It's written by Cynthia Ramsay and it's called Freedom of Choice in Health Care. The thing that I found interesting that I would really like to put into the record and draw members' attention to is this:

"Licensed medical practitioners who choose to practise complementary medicine are fulfilling an important public need that is not currently being met by the Canadian medical establishment. The medical licensing boards are using their near monopoly control over the provisions of medical service in Canada to restrict the choice of both the suppliers and the consumers of these services. In doing so, they are acting in direct opposition to the World Health Organization's 1989 Helsinki agreement signed on behalf of Canada, and therefore, by definition, on behalf of the provinces and territories by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time."

This agreement contains the following subsection and, colleagues, I want you to know that this particular subsection, put into force in the Helsinki agreement in 1989, is exactly the provisions that are included in my bill. The subsection says:

"A registered practitioner shall not be found guilty of unbecoming conduct, to be found to be incapable or unfit to practise medicine or osteopathy solely on the basis that the registered practitioner employs a therapy that is experimental, non-traditional or departs from prevailing medical practice, unless it can be demonstrated that the therapy has a safety risk unreasonably greater than the prevailing treatment."

The definition of the bill that I introduced last week and is being debated today is exactly that.

One other province -- and I'd like my colleagues to really listen to this, because hopefully we can do the same thing. Alberta has already enacted such legislation. Bill 209, a private member's bill promoted by Alberta MLA Roy Brassard to provide citizens with a greater degree of choice in health care, passed third reading in the Alberta Legislature on April 24, 1996. This bill allows Alberta doctors to perform any alternative therapy provided that it cannot be proven to do more harm than conventional drug and surgical treatments. That bill was given first, second and third reading on the same day. That gives you an idea of the sort of support that's out there.

Similar legislation has already been enacted in Alaska, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and, as I've said, Alberta.

How does this apply to Ontario? It's interesting to note that four new groups were given status as probationary sections by the OMA board of directors at its March 5 meeting. The Ontario Medical Association has approved sections in sleep disorders, GP, psychotherapy, complementary medicine and chronic pain physicians. So the Ontario Medical Association has recognized complementary medicine as viable, as an alternative form of treatment.

I would like to enter into the record a letter sent to me by the chair of the complementary medicine section of the Ontario Medical Association. This chair is Linda Rapson and she says:

"As chair of the complementary medicine section of the Ontario Medical Association, I wish to congratulate you for bringing Bill 126, An Act to amend the Medicine Act, 1991, before the Legislature."

She talks about the number of doctors who are represented and says, "We are convinced that the sort of protection for Ontario physicians provided by the bill is urgently needed to ensure that all Ontarians receive safe, beneficial and cost-efficient treatment." It's signed by Linda M. Rapson, MD, who is chair of that section.

When you think about complementary medicine, you should know that a study by someone I've known for many years, Dr Merrijoy Kelner, who is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto Institute for Human Development and Aging, found that more Canadians are trying alternative medicine, and most of these will still consult their family physician. This is critical, because the family physician is the one who is being addressed in this bill. We are not talking about people outside the practice of medicine. We're talking only about those who are licensed practitioners.

Statistics Canada says that 3.3 million Canadians visit non-traditional practitioners, and the number continues to grow. The reason they've turned to these options is that they are looking for help for chronic problems that haven't responded to mainstream treatment. Most patients opted for this type of treatment after hearing from others who have had results as a result of these treatments. Another major reason for choosing other options is concern about the effects of drugs or surgery; 40% of those surveyed said they believe alternative therapy is more natural and safer.

Interestingly enough, in the United States, a study that was done by Dr David Eisenberg, co-author of a 1993 survey that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported that in 1990 -- 1990 is seven years ago, so you can imagine what the number is today -- Americans made 425 million visits to alternative care providers, more visits than all of the conventional care treatment combined.


So it is certainly an idea that has been embraced by a large sector of our society, and it's an issue that deals with fairness, equity and freedom of choice: fairness for the doctors to explore these alternatives, fairness and freedom of choice for the patients to take greater control of their health care, fairness in the sense that those doctors who are seeking the best treatment for their patients are free from harassment.

We have another article, in the Economist, again hardly a radical publication, probably the most respected economic publication in the world. They have an article about what is happening in Vancouver at the Vancouver Hospital, which is the second largest hospital in Canada, and it says:

"Not long ago, orthodox doctors shunned them as quacks. Now the medical profession has begun to ask whether alternative practitioners may have something useful. That is common enough anywhere, but Vancouver Hospital, Canada's second largest, has gone further, making this partnership official. Its new Tzu Chi Institute for Complementary and Alterative Medicine aims to sort out scientifically the useful from the useless in the welter of non-conventional therapies and to integrate what works into conventional practice."

We have a situation where all of these things are there. The College of Physicians and Surgeons says there's no need for this bill because doctors are free to do it. I have documents, I have many, many letters from doctors who are very supportive of the bill, saying this will in fact help them, and I'd like to read just part of one of them.

He said, "I have been practising on the staff at York Central Hospital for many years, since 1979. Unfortunately, I've been harassed by the college of physicians of Ontario because of my use of alternative approaches to medicine." They're asking that this bill provide them the opportunity to have the ability to do what is best for their patients -- and that is the key.

There is a huge demand by patients to have the ability to do this. I hope that as we go into the debate and as you and my colleagues in our caucus speak to it, you will give thought to what is becoming an issue that brings economic benefits to the province because it cuts down the reduction on some aspects of health care. It brings freedom of choice to patients and it allows us to really move forward into the next century.


The Deputy Speaker: For the members that are in the gallery, perhaps it's your first visit in the Legislature, but you're not supposed to applaud, only the members here on the floor.

Further debate?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I welcome the opportunity today to participate in this debate and this discussion about a topic that is both very important and very timely in the evolution of health care and the delivery of health care in this province and in this country.

I'm anxious to hear today from members from all parties their position on this because it is indeed an ongoing, very live debate in my community and I know from some of the correspondence I've received that it's alive and well in many communities across this province. I think it's important, and we have to give thanks to the member for Wilson Heights for bringing it to this place today so that we might have this debate and see where the government stands on this issue, and where it is that we who represent the public will out there -- we're elected representatives, called to give leadership on some very important issues and some very important aspects of life as it evolves in this province, and I think we need to be indicating to people where we stand on this.

I know myself that over the last number of months I've had numerous individuals into my office from the alternative health delivery system, people who deal in health foods, who are very concerned with what's happening at the federal level re legislation that might come forward that would inhibit their ability to continue to practise what they've honed over a long number of years, continue to offer to people substances and information and advice they have spent many, many years researching and coming to understand and making good decisions about and wanting to offer to the people they have as their clients or as their customers and whom they serve.

This debate is rather interesting when you put it into some of the context that I think it fits. The member for Wilson Heights suggests that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says that we don't need a bill of this sort in front of us today, but the experience of people in the field will tell you very clearly that is not true.

When you look at the experience of, for example, nurse practitioners or midwives over the last number of years in Ontario and Canada, in fact across the world, and the difficulty those groups of professionals have had in having what they do recognized as a very legitimate and positively contributing health practice in all jurisdictions, you begin to understand the difficulty people in the alternative health medicines field are experiencing today. It took a long time; it took a lot of work; it took courage by some governments to bring forward the legislation that would protect those particular professionals in our provinces as they do their work.

I suggest today that should help all of us understand why we need to, if not move forward very aggressively in this field, at least consider this piece of legislation very seriously today so that we might give some indication to the government, as they develop the framework within which health care will be delivered in this province, that we in this place feel it is necessary to protect the good work and the very excellent research and background in this field.

I remember watching for a number of years, because I had some friends involved in it, the evolution of the whole area of chiropractors. Chiropractors at one time in this province, it wasn't so long ago, were considered to be less than professional in many instances. It was only after tremendous effort by people who believed that what chiropractors were doing was right and healthy and in the best interests of the people they serve that eventually we got to a point where they are now recognized under the Health Professions Act and have a scope of practice within which they can operate and have begun to receive some remuneration for the service they offer to people through the public purse.

I think, in looking at this bill, it's very important for all of us to recognize the evolution of health care and recognize the contribution various professions have made over the years to the way we deliver health care, the way we respond to ailments that people run into, the way we have shifted very significantly from an after-the-fact approach to health care, from a disease focus on health care, to a proactive, making-people-healthy, make-sure-people-stay-healthy approach. I think this is all tied in with some of what is happening in the alternative health practices that are happening out there today. I know in my own community we have a number of very excellent people delivering alternative health medicine to people who have come, through their own experience, to understand how important and how valuable that is.

When we recognize, as I've said before, the contribution that various professionals have made to the delivery of health care in the province over the last number of years, and I mentioned nurse practitioners, midwives, physiotherapists and others, I think it's important that we do everything we can in this place as we set the legal framework within which people operate to make sure we don't inhibit the contribution that people have to make who are willing to go the distance to find different ways to break through the barriers we often establish in the traditional way we do things, to find new ways to both prevent disease from happening and, once we do get sick, to find ways to cure people without sometimes the very intrusive processes and procedures we often see when we enter hospitals today.

It is in that light and in that spirit that I will stand today in support of this bill that's brought before us by the member for Wilson Heights, Mr Kwinter, and look forward this morning to further debate and discussion from members around the floor so that I might be more educated in this business and perhaps challenged, but hope to hear from people that they also support the protection this bill will afford those who choose to practise in the alternative health field.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today to speak in the Legislature on the private member's bill before this House in the name of the member for Wilson Heights, Monte Kwinter. I'd like all members to be aware that in principle I, as a government member, could support this bill. However, again I want to be very clear and want it to be read into the public record that while I may want to support this bill in principle, and as a member of this Legislature could support this bill in principle, we here on this side of the House have some reservations about this bill, not so much in its intent and what it hopes to provide -- I will get to that in a few moments -- but rather what could happen if it is passed and becomes law in Ontario and does not have amendments to it.

The reason why this bill needs amendments is that we here on this side of the House take health care and legislation that could change health care very seriously, because it is our number one priority as a government. As we heard Finance Minister Ernie Eves say in his budget speech, health care is the number one priority for this government. We must continue to put patients first to bring about and introduce the necessary change so the right kind of legislation works in the best interests of the patient, to ensure that the right kinds of technologies are introduced for patient care so we can continue to have the best health care system in the world.

This bill brings about significant change to the way physicians' professionalism and competence are judged. This is an important distinction, because our support of the principle of this bill is based on the fact that currently legislation and regulation already allow alternative practitioners to practise in Ontario without fear of reprisal. That is why we need amendments to it. That is why we need to have it studied and examined by people in the medical field and health care profession. We need time to ensure that all the concerns of this government, the Ministry of Health and health care professionals are addressed and safeguards put in place so that we as a government can keep our word that we will ensure that we continue to put the patient first.

We must be cautious, because what Mr Kwinter is proposing is significant change to regulated health profession regulation legislation that is a product of over 10 years of consultation and consideration. Caution is required because this government wants to ensure that practitioners are treated fairly.

Today, if there is a commitment from Mr Kwinter here in the Legislature to seek amendments to this bill, allow for public consultation and address some of the concerns we have and also hear the very real concerns professional people and organizations have in Ontario, if we get this commitment from Mr Kwinter, we will support this bill in principle.

The way this bill reads, it could leave the door open for legal interpretations that could allow members of the medical profession to abuse the sacred covenant between provider and patient.

In an open letter to the Honourable Jim Wilson, Minister of Health, from Geoffrey Bond, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Mr Bond states, "The college...does not support Mr Kwinter's bill both because the material contained in it does not belong in the act but rather in the regulations or the bylaws, but also because it is premature and contains a number of other serious flaws which could place the health and safety of Ontarians at risk."

Mr Bond continues his letter to the minister by asking that an ad hoc committee created by the College of Physicians and Surgeons hold public consultations on alternative medicine and non-traditional practice. I agree that there is a need for public consultation.

Regarding the point about regulations or bylaws raised by Mr Bond, this bill would set a precedent in Ontario that medical amendments would now have to be legislated, not regulated. As a government, we have no problem with regulations, good regulations. Just ask the member for Lincoln, Frank Sheehan, the chair of the Red Tape Review Commission. However, it is a custom and tradition in Ontario that professional guidelines, especially misconduct rules, be enshrined in regulations, not legislation. This bill could change that custom and tradition and potentially change the relationship of the CPSO with Ontario's physicians and surgeons.

So I say to Mr Kwinter, let's slow down with this. The CPSO is the self-regulating body that oversees the practices of physicians and surgeons in Ontario, and they have reservations about this bill. Let's give this bill the time it needs to examine every aspect of it more fully and more closely. I believe it would be more useful for you to have the endorsement of the CPSO. It would help to give greater credibility to the people who are providing this kind of care, let alone your bill.

As well, in a discussion with the Federation of Health Regulatory Colleges, it too would be open to public consultations to begin a dialogue on alternative medicines and non-traditional practices. This federation -- for the benefit of all members in the House today -- oversees all medical professional colleges in Ontario. Their input could bring about greater credibility to their professions, these changes, and ultimately this bill.

In closing, I'd like to say to Mr Kwinter, the member for Wilson Heights, that in principle I will support this bill, but it is a qualified support. We must take our time and go slowly about bringing this kind of significant change so that patient care remains a priority, so that our health care providers are not put at risk, and so that our health care system continues to remain the very best in the world.

I will support this bill in principle because it reflects the current reality: Alternative practitioners are already allowed to practise in Ontario. I think that when considered from a technical standpoint, this bill is flawed and needs amendments. The test it creates, where a physician can only be found guilty of misconduct if the therapy he or she used can be shown to carry with it a greater level of risk than the traditional therapy, is an impossible one to have to prove. There are other ways to phrase the bill to ensure that alternative practitioners are not discriminated against by the college. The current complaints-based system where the harm test is used has proven to work well for all types of practitioners. We know the CPSO has a committee that is considering a professional misconduct regulation.

So I'd like to ask from you today, Mr Kwinter, a commitment from the CPSO, once it has held its public consultations and once they are completed, to accept amendments to this bill before this bill proceeds past the second reading stage in the legislative process.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is a pleasure to be able to address this bill today and to commend my colleague from Wilson Heights, Monte Kwinter, for bringing this forward. We have heard from the member opposite around concerns raised, but I think the reason this bill is here today and the reason we are discussing it today is appropriate. This Legislature is here to discuss matters of great and substantive public interest and to ensure that great and substantive interest has a forum, that it has a means of finding expression.

We know that throughout this province there are people who have learned to rely on different parts of alternative medical therapy in all manner of forms. We know there has been a dialogue about these forms of medicine or treatment for a long, long time. Of course, ironically, many of the types of alternative medicine that would be enabled by this bill, or better enabled, have been around a lot longer than what we now call our traditional medical practices. But so has the debate; so has the discussion.


The problem with the debate and the discussion to this point is that it has taken place mainly in closed rooms, mainly in the hearings of the organizations that we have set up to deal with these kinds of things on a technical basis. But what eludes them in those closed rooms is what is the substantive public interest here: How do we as a society want to proceed?

We have heard what unfortunately some of the other -- this side of the House can, outside of this hour where it's private members' business, and we know that sincerity is coming from individuals rather than platitudes from the government. But quite often that's how we're sometimes led to take them, because as we see the future of the health care system in this province, we wonder, of course, around the commitment reflected in some of the decisions of this government towards good health care and good choices for people around high quality health care.

We certainly see that there is a place, a place that's been acknowledged by the section set out by the OMA on alternative medicine, a place that's been acknowledged by the College of Physicians and Surgeons itself, in albeit a different process it would like to see go ahead and acknowledged by other jurisdictions around the world, a place in an improving medical system for alternative medicine.

As we on this side of the House look at being faced with the potential responsibility of having to clean up some of the problems this government is going to create with an unplanned system, if there is going to be an integrated health system, it is going to be one with just that type of choice available to patients, and rather to people who are no longer so much patients but informed people who have real choice about the kinds of things they can do for their health and wellbeing. As we try to advance, and it is hard to advance given some of the strictures that we have facing our current system, we want to make sure we've opened up the choices that are available, that we've made sure that as we try and give the people of this province and the existing practitioners, for whom we have great respect -- this is not an adversarial piece of legislation in any respect, I would put forward to you today. This is a piece of legislation that tries to put forward the public interest, that tries to say, "Here is where we must discuss, what we as elected representatives must wrestle with."

I take the point of the member opposite that there may be, and I have heard, what I think amounts to significant concern, but those points are not what we're here to discuss today. We're here to discuss the merit of the bill.

There is a place called committee where technical wording and other things can be worked out, where those backroom discussions and the substantive arguments that have been made there can find their place and can find their expression. We in this legislative process know that we have those checks and safeguards. But we would be very remiss today if we did not put forward the public interest, if we did not show, each of us, to our constituents an openness to having a system which is -- without seeing it as adversarial, it is tilted towards a traditional practice -- a system and the safeguards that come from a different way of thinking about how we can ensure good health and good medicine in these times.

I believe it is incumbent on us today to pass this act at second reading, to provide for better medicine, for better choices for people, to see, I think also in the public interest, the kinds of things that many of us are only notionally aware of brought into the mainstream of consideration where they will benefit not only ourselves, not only people frustrated in the current system, but really the advancement of ourselves as a society and as a people.

I think we've had for too long a close-minded idea about how we practise medicine. We've had for too long a closed idea about how we have an integrated health system, because it really means, and this is a test we will hold the government to, a variety of quality methods available to people. It really means a society not giving away or getting rid of responsibility for the wellbeing of people, but having that happen through the choice of that person working with a variety of practitioners.

Yes, we have an obligation that we will not drop, we will not dilute, to ensure the safety of people, but we also will not show a fear of unknown things in terms of what this comes to bear because we have a substantive idea. We have the World Health Organization commitment, we have the examination and the work done in other sections of the country and other jurisdictions, to know that this bill and what it intends to do is substantially in the public interest. Thank you.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I am very pleased today to support the private member's bill by the member for Wilson Heights. Obviously, as this is private members' hour, I'm here as a private member, but I also want to speak as a former Minister of Health in this province who was the last in a long line of health ministers -- I think there were eight of us, spanning 10 years and three different political parties in government -- dealing with regulated health professions legislation and finally bringing the final RHPA reforms through.

I can tell you, in the dying days of that process there was a flurry of activity of people trying to get the scopes of practice changed for various professions, one more thing added or one more thing deleted and a lot of delineation, much of that motivated by real concern for patient care. But I have to be honest; I found a certain amount of it also motivated by what I would call, in layman's terms, "turf protection." I believe health care is too important to allow turf protection to get in the way of providing the widest range of opportunities for people to seek wellbeing in our communities.

I think there is an evolution that has taken place. As a child, I grew up in a family where my primary health caregiver was a naturopath-chiropractor, a cross-profession. There was a medical doctor as well, but much of the family's wellbeing was taken care of by a naturopath-chiropractor. This is something that I was exposed to, I guess, from an early age. In those days -- this perhaps suggests how old I am -- naturopaths and chiropractors and a whole range of people were called quacks by the medical profession.

I went through a period of time where I was involved in helping bring through the regulation to regulate midwifery, to bring it back from the netherlands of unregulated practice, illegal practice, to bring it into the regulated scheme. For a period of time there was a great opposition to midwifery. We're now seeing a very similar process around nurse practitioners. There is an evolution here and there is, I believe, a need for us to have openness in looking at many alternatives that are out there.

I have medical practitioners in my riding who are also providers of alternative medicine, who are part of the OMA section looking at alternative medicines and who have been rallying behind many of the doctors who feel that they have been harassed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons' process. I'm very glad that the College of Physicians and Surgeons is also now looking at this.

I'm interested to see the concerns that are raised, that perhaps there could be greater sexual abuse of patients if you don't have the tight regulations. I remember feeling the wounds from the profession when we tried to bring in the tough controls in the legislation around sexual abuse. But we got past that, and the college took a very important leadership role when they set up their task force. They're doing that again. But I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that is being proffered that says we have to bring this discussion out into the open. It is not good enough to only read about these cases where doctors are being brought before disciplinary processes, where patients are coming forward and expressing that this treatment has been a lifeline for them and yet to see the continued prosecution of individuals.

I believe we have to move beyond that to have an open debate about the nature of a multidisciplinary delivery of health care and what that means and how some of the areas of health care which we can't immediately bring into the medicare system -- we're in the middle of restructuring our hospitals and our medical services and our other regulated health professions right now -- but we shouldn't preclude the opportunity to explore and to learn from and to perhaps find better ways of treating certain conditions.

As diseases have become more complex, as we've seen chronic fatigue syndrome, as we have seen environmental hypersensitivity, as we've seen a lot of things that we don't quite understand in the traditional medical view of what is happening with the human body, we have found alternative therapies which have given great help to individuals. We must do all we can as legislators to ensure that help is there and available, of course with all the safeguards, of course with all the regulatory protections that are our responsibility to put in place, but a system that welcomes an exploration of those alternatives, not one that relegates them to the world of quackery. I think that's what this debate is about.


I believe the bill that's before us would need to be amended, would need to be more specific in certain areas of how that would work, but that's not the issue at second reading. The government, I would argue, should step in at this point in time and actually take this over as a government bill and work with all of us in this Legislature and all the people who have a public interest in this to bring about good legislation.

As the Minister of Health I worked with a member of the Conservative Party at that time on a private member's bill the member had that was in the public interest, I believe, to ensure that bill got passage. I worked to help provide amendments the ministry could live with that I could then get the government to support. That's an alternative.

I believe that the Minister of Health should be here today participating in this debate and helping the member bring this bill forward in a way that it can be brought into law. That's the challenge I put forward to members of the government.

I will be supporting this bill today. I hope this bill gets referred to committee or is taken over by a government bill so we can work to bring about this kind of legislation in Ontario that opens up our doors to explore alternative therapies, to explore alternative medicines, to find alternatives to help people be the healthiest they can, to promote a community of wellbeing in this province. Thank you very much.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): The member for Wilson Heights has put forth an interesting bill, and I commend him for his sincere interest in broadening the scope of Ontario's health care system. His introduction of Bill 126 has brought to the forefront a growing issue among patients and practitioners of both the traditional and alternative medical professions.

As some of you may be aware, I've been a veterinarian for some 35 years and have heard on occasion about alternative medical practices. Before you jump to conclusions and start saying, "What does a veterinarian know about this?" there are a lot of similarities between veterinarian medicine and human medicine. Humans just happen to be one more step up the mammalian list. I've observed and talked to farmers and seen what happens with livestock and heard some very strange suggestions they come out with, but many farmers have very keen observations of responses of livestock.

The very basis of good quality research is the ability to keenly observe. Never did I scoff at any suggestions that have been put forth as some of these alternative suggestions, because down the road many times you're able to prove very scientifically that those alternative suggestions really work very, very well.

Probably Doug Galt is one of the greatest sceptics there has ever been when it comes to alternative suggestions of medical treatment. Coming through a scientific community: If you can't prove it, don't throw it in front of me. However, you have to look around and observe other things that are happening out there. Certainly I have observed livestock with the desire to live when they shouldn't have and survived; when livestock had the desire to die, when they had had perfect medical treatment, and died. It's something like Henry Ford's comment that if you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're probably right and that's how it turns out.

There's a great book that was written back in the mid-1960s by Dr Bernie Siegel, who is basically a cancer surgeon. The book is called Love, Medicine and Miracles. Most of that book contains testimonials, stories about various patients he was working with. He compares himself to a mechanic, where he can remove things or parts but he couldn't keep people alive, that keeping people alive came from within. If you didn't have the desire to live, often with the very best of medical treatment you still died; but if you had the desire to live, often in spite of the greatest odds, you did end up being able to survive.

Health care in Ontario and around the world is changing and we have an opportunity to be leaders in the health care continuum. However, change must proceed with care, especially when the outcome could significantly affect the quality of essential public services and ultimately the health of the people of Ontario.

Putting patients first is number one, and this is non-negotiable when it comes to discussing changes in our health care system. This means taking a proactive approach to new health care practices. Chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture are two examples of alternative medical practices which have faced tough opposition over the years from traditional medical practitioners.

After having been condemned as scientifically unsubstantiated for many years, the perseverance and dedication of practitioners to their profession have been rewarded with scientific data which many needed to validate these methods. Certainly I've received treatment from chiropractors, and as I mentioned earlier, I was probably one of their greatest sceptics. However, observing results was the proof of the pudding.

We might therefore keep in mind that although scientific studies have not been conducted on many non-traditional medical practices, there are also many traditional techniques in common use today that have not undergone these tests. For example, practices such as angioplasty and bypass surgery, which are important life-saving techniques used every day in hospitals, have never been subject to controlled, random, doubleblind tests. In fact, approximately 85% to 90% of accepted traditional medical practices are not based on such studies, and I have personally found this to be quite surprising. It seems apparent that the medical and scientific community needs to work together towards a consensus as to what constitutes proper research procedure which thereby leads to the evidence that would be needed to prove that one treatment does indeed pose a greater risk to the patient than another.

At this point it is apparent that consultations need to be considered before proceeding with legislation. As Bill 126 stands, it would place the onus on the regulating body to prove that an alternate practice holds a greater risk than the traditional methods. The difficulty with this lies in the lack of a consistent method for determining how "evidence" would be defined.

Although the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario openly opposes Bill 126, over a year ago they established an ad hoc committee to review the issue of how the college should regulate its members who choose to offer alternative medical therapies. This committee has plans to conduct public consultation over the coming months.

I must once again stress that putting the patient first is of the utmost importance and should remain the primary focus in any discussions which could potentially affect their health and safety.

It is for this reason that, although the member opposite has brought forward a bill with merit, I strongly believe there must be some amendments made to it before I can confidently vote in favour of its final passage.

Alternative or complementary treatments have a growing following. Statistics Canada released the figure that 3.3 million Canadians looked for non-traditional medical treatment in 1996.

The people of Ontario presently not only have access to a comprehensive health care system but to one of the finest in the world. However, they also deserve the opportunity to access safe and accountable treatment from all forms of medical practice.

Amendments are needed to Bill 126 that would ensure public safety, thereby preventing dispute over changes to the medical act. This would address one major concern about the bill as it stands today.

I look forward to a positive outcome for all those involved with this bill. With the foregoing comments, I can support its second reading but would look forward to several amendments prior to its coming back to the House for third reading, because then I could support it with those amendments.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): It's a pleasure for me to take part in this debate today. I want to first congratulate my colleague the member for Wilson Heights for having the conviction to bring forward this amendment, one that I believe represents a progressive step towards recognizing complementary medical treatment in Ontario and something that is long, long overdue. I also want to congratulate the member for Wilson Heights for debunking some of the myths about complementary medicine, myths which have been used to hold off the use of complementary medical treatments.

In the time I have I want to talk about the positive economic benefits of welcoming complementary medicine into our health care delivery model. I believe that by fostering a collaborative health care model we'll improve the quality and reduce the costs of health care overall.

As many people know, our health care system is under considerable financial strain due to the costs associated with pharmaceutical drugs and surgical treatments and due to demographic pressures on the system.

Today's environment demands flexibility and adaptability. If we're going to meet the evolving health care needs in our society, we must draw on all our available resources and be prepared to seize on different ideas. This includes not only the latest technological advances but also all of civilization's past beneficial experiences.

Ontarians believe in a health care system that is universally accessible but also understand that it needs to be delivered in the most cost-effective manner possible. There is a basic understanding today that we don't have the resources to further expand our current health care system and therefore we must adapt and find additional approaches to health remedies. It is regrettable that it has taken a financial crunch to force us to adapt our health care delivery model. In the past number of years, we've finally begun to move from a model totally based on treating the sick to one which is aimed at giving more weight to preventing illness; in other words, preventive care.

There is an enormous body of knowledge that has been passed over by conventional medicine. Some of it dates back thousands and thousands of year, such as acupuncture or herbal treatments. It's irrational from a health care point of view that we would turn a blind eye to solutions that can play a positive role. It's also very paternalistic and egocentric for conventional medical organizations to think that only they can come up with certain answers. This simply isn't the case and it's a xenophobic perspective.

The human body is an amazing and mysterious machine that has the unique capacity to heal itself. Encouraging that healing process is a fundamental key to quality of life, and that is what complementary medicine is all about: preventive care. Complementary medicine also helps produce improved patient outcomes for fewer economic inputs. Its preventive nature reduces both the incident and the cost of illness by focusing on wellness.

The reality is that we all in one form or another engage in modified complementary medicine, whether it's an old family cold remedy or changes to one's lifestyle through diet or exercise to address an ailment that prevents a trip to the doctor's office. Not only does this save on the immediate costs of our health care system, it saves in the long run as we accept more of the responsibility for the state of our own personal health.

This hardly sounds controversial or revolutionary. Complementary medicine saves lives and it saves money. Many insurance companies are recognizing its cost-effective benefits and are now covering some naturopathic treatments.

We are not advocating that complementary medicine replace conventional medicine, nor does this bill seek to undermine conventional medicine. In short, it seeks to enhance the health delivery model to ensure that patients have information on and access to all of the health care options. It makes no sense that with something so volatile as the human body, we would straitjacket ourselves with a singularly focused medical approach. It makes sense for all of us to keep the door open to all potential effective solutions.

I want to talk in a tangible way about the Carlington Medical Centre in my riding of Ottawa Centre, which has put together a chiropractic referral program for low-income individuals whereby low-income individuals are able to access chiropractic services through a referral system; 70% of the individuals who use this clinic are low-income. The linking of chiropractic services with family medical services has opened up a new avenue of treatment that these individuals, for economic reasons, would not have access to. It opens the door to new ways of looking at the delivery of health care and how we approach illness, and the cooperation between doctors, nurses and chiropractors is possibly an important model for the future.

In conclusion, there is support in almost all quarters, with some reservations in the medical establishment, to increase the treatment options for illness prevention and health care. The increase in complementary medicine will be more economical, more effective and, equally important, will greatly strengthen the notion of more individual self-responsibility in maintaining health and preventing illness. For this reason, I look forward to voting in favour of the bill.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I too would like to commend my colleague from Wilson Heights for bringing forward a most thoughtful and progressive private member's bill. When we created the concept of multiculturalism -- on which I take a different view than many of my colleagues have taken -- in Canada, many foresaw this as new immigrants bringing into Canada various dances and exotic foods which we only acquire when we travel overseas. New Canadians have brought with them knowledge and skills that covers thousands and thousands of years, generations.

The member for Northumberland made a very interesting point. One such knowledge that we have is health science that was brought by many of these people who came to Canada. Many of us can recall an ailment that was healed through the use of a remedy that was handed down through generations. When I was a young boy -- that wasn't long ago -- I recall my mother administering the sap of a plant to chickens or cattle that had come down with what would have seemed to be the common cold. Within 10 days, whatever it was that was ailing the animal, a total recovery was experienced.

My friend on the other side said there were side-effects. Today, aloe vera is hailed as one of the wonder cures that relieve a variety of ailments. What may be considered as non-traditional medicine in Canada is very much traditional in China, India, Africa or the West Indies. When we are looking at non-traditional and traditional medicine, we must then start thinking that what is traditional to Canada may be something that is quite non-traditional to other regimes, and that what is traditional to other countries may be quite beneficial to us in Canada.

This government will spend billions of dollars on health care despite, as we know, the closing of hospitals, putting sick and elderly people at great risk. They fail to reach out to, as my colleague said, complementary approaches to the problems in the health care and health science sector.

The pharmaceutical industry and the advertising market have created a climate where the only thing that is being looked at these days is symptoms, and that is what is being treated. A cure often is ignored. Why? Because I presume we focus very much on the economic interest to do so.

No one part of the body functions on its own. Inflammation has a purpose and a meaning, and to stop the inflammation doesn't correct the problem; sometimes we find out it has merely masked that which is causing the inflammation. We as a society need to develop a holistic approach to medicine, the way the body was meant to function, rather than digesting any number of pills and liquids that are preferred as instant solutions to complex problems.

I will heartily support this private member's bill and I urge all my colleagues to move in that direction, because there are thousands and thousands -- as a matter of fact, millions -- of people in Ontario only who are today seeking alternative solutions to the problems they have. Putting the patient first is one of the things we often hear in here. If there is any approach to medicine that puts the patient first, it is the complementary, alternative medicine that is being practised today. People should not be punished for it. That is what the legislation is asking for: that a situation that shows that ailments are being resolved should be looked at very seriously.

I urge members to support this. Give it second reading. Of course, any amendments must be considered and concerns can be addressed in our public hearings. When it comes back here, third reading should not be a problem.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Wilson Heights, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Kwinter: I want to thank all of my colleagues on all sides of the House because, notwithstanding some reservations, I really detected that there was approval in principle for this bill, which is what this second reading is all about.

I would like to first of all acknowledge, which is almost unprecedented, the number of people in the public galleries, and if you look behind you, those members on the government side, you will get an opportunity to see the interest that there is in this subject.

The question I want to address in the couple of minutes that I have left is the question that was raised by the member for Scarborough Centre and his concerns with the bill.

When I was drafting this bill -- and as all of you know, I don't draft the bill, the bill is drafted by legislative counsel -- it was their advice, it was their counsel who said, "This is an appropriate bill to be addressed in amending the Medicine Act of 1991." Notwithstanding the concerns of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, this particular wording, as I said in my opening remarks, has been used verbatim in the Helsinki agreement by the World Health Organization and by Alberta and several states in the United States.

When I was contemplating this bill and when word got out about it, there was a lot of interest in it and lots of people wanting me to put lots of things into the bill. I resisted that for the very reason that this is a very complex issue, without question, but Bill 126 is a platform. It is a platform on which to build better health care for the people of Ontario, to provide freedom of choice for citizens, to provide fairness and equity to medical practitioners, and I certainly hope that I can get the support of everybody in this House for second reading. Then as it goes to committee, we can certainly address those other concerns that have been expressed.


Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I am pleased to move private member's notice of motion number 50:

That, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should be urged to recognize the seriousness of impaired driving by amending the Criminal Code to provide for the following penalties:

For first offences: seven days' incarceration, provided no accident has resulted; 30 days' incarceration, if an accident has resulted; one to five years' incarceration, if an accident has occurred and an injury or death has resulted;

For second or subsequent offences: 60 days' incarceration, provided no accident has resulted; six months' incarceration, if an accident has resulted; five to 10 years' incarceration, if an accident has occurred and an injury or death has resulted.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Wettlaufer: Between 1991 and 1995, there were 29,000 injuries and fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents involving drinking drivers or those legally impaired, and that's only in the province of Ontario. In 1995 alone, there were 5,000 injuries or fatalities in Ontario. Every year in Ontario nearly 350 people are killed; in 1994, however, there were 544 killed.

These are statistics, the fatalities. We hear them every day. We hear them on television, we hear them on the radio, we read about it in the newspaper. We have become immune to them because they're only fatalities, they're only statistics. Let's call them what they are. They're deaths. They are lives snuffed out.

I have to admit that there has been a decrease in injuries and deaths over the last 10 years, and the figures are often cited to demonstrate the success that we as a society are having with our educational programs, with RIDE, with designated drivers etc. But until the year 1995, there had been a year-over-year increase in the number of property damage accidents involving drinking.

Many of us, probably most of us in this House, when we were younger drove after drinking, and I'm sure that some of us were impaired. We thought it was smart, we thought it was macho. It was socially acceptable, until we got caught. Yes, it was macho. To the member for Windsor-Sandwich, I say that 10 times as many men get caught driving impaired as women. We have to demonstrate that it is no longer socially acceptable to drink and drive.

In 1996 our government enacted the administrative driver's licence suspension program, better known as ADLS. Drivers who fail or refuse a breath test automatically lose their licence administratively for 90 days. In October 1996, our own government member for Mississauga South, Margaret Marland, introduced Bill 85, which provides for a one-year suspension of licence on the first conviction, a three-year suspension on the second and a five-year suspension on the third. On a fourth conviction, the licence is revoked.

The Manitoba government has enacted the vehicle seizure and impoundment program. If the convicted driver continues to drive, the vehicle is impounded. Unfortunately, too often the vehicle that he or she will drive won't be his or her own and the owner of the vehicle must prove that he or she didn't know that this driver didn't have a licence.

I don't diminish the importance of those bills or programs that have been enacted either by ourselves or by other administrations. I think they are a recognition of the importance of this issue. But what I have seen in 33 years of experience in the insurance business is that suspended drivers continue to drive. It doesn't matter whether or not they have had licence suspensions because of impaired driving, they continue to drive. Clearly, tough action is needed.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has approached federal governments and largely their approaches have been met with indifference. Successive federal governments have ignored the issue. What is needed, really, is the influence of the government representing the largest province, representing nearly 40% of the country in population. The influence of this government is needed to negotiate stiffer penalties.

In other countries there are stiffer penalties. In some Middle East countries impaired driving has a penalty of death. In some countries it has a penalty of caning. As a matter of fact, in North America yesterday an individual was charged with first-degree murder, which carries the death penalty.

I'm not advocating that we bring back the cat-o'-nine-tails but I am advocating that this is a reprehensible act, it is a despicable act, it is a selfish act and it is a wilful act. It demonstrates wilful disregard for the safety and the lives of others.

The purpose of the resolution is to demonstrate to the government the level of support that the resolution has within this chamber with us and with our constituents both urban and rural across this province to put pressure on the federal government to make the penalties much, much stiffer.

I was going to ask for unanimous consent to make a change to my resolution because, as many of the members in this House know, we do work very long hours and when I proofread this initially I missed a key word and the key word was "following `minimum' penalties." But I won't do that because the principle behind this is really to direct our government to negotiate with the federal government.


I would like to draw your attention to the statistical yearbook, 1994, Drinking and Driving in Ontario, specifically page A-5, table 2, "Alcohol use among motor vehicle fatalities, Ontario, 1994." The significance of this table is that the majority of drinking and driving offences occur between the ages of 19 and 44, supposedly the mature ages.

I would like also to draw your attention to page A-16 in the same drinking and driving statistical yearbook. The significance of this table is that there has been no dramatic decrease in the percentage of impaired drivers since 1985.

I would also like to read a letter from Sandra Henderson of Kitchener, Sandra's story.

"It was May, 1992, and I was wondering what to get my daughter Nancy for her 25th birthday. Should I buy something for her new apartment or something more personal? Before I had a chance to buy that present for her or wish her happy birthday, Nancy was killed in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. I didn't get a chance to say good-bye."

Mr Speaker, many of us ran for election for the future of our children and our grandchildren. If it was your child who had been killed, would you have been mad enough to want to kill the other party? I ask you, I ask the members, would you have been angry enough to want to cause bodily harm to that impaired driver? Would you have been devoid of all feeling?

Larry Cripps from Kitchener, a friend of mine, is in the gallery. He lost his son. I don't want to go to any more funerals for children of my friends.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Further debate?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I think we can all relate to the kinds of experiences this member has just talked about. I agree that it's totally unacceptable that in our province over 350 people have died -- I believe that's what he said, or maybe that was Canada-wide -- as a result of drinking and driving offences.

At the same time, it ought to be said that the attitude of young people nowadays is quite a bit different from when I was growing up. When I think back to the 1950s and 1960s, it was quite common for young people to get a case of beer in the car and to go out for a drive, particularly at some social or high school event etc. It was almost a customary thing.

When I compare that to the attitude now of my own children and their friends, I think a much more responsible attitude prevails now within our society. It was a macho kind of thing to do back then, and certainly a lot of that has been taken out of the system already.

We could certainly do a lot more as far as the education side of this issue is concerned, because 350 deaths or the countless number of injuries that occur as a result of drinking and driving are still totally unacceptable. But I think we've come a long way, and the schools and the various police departments ought to be commended for the kinds of programs they have carried on.

Whether the kinds of penalties he is suggesting in his resolution are appropriate, particularly when he talks about one to five years' incarceration if an accident occurs on a first offence, I'm not so sure. I still believe we could be a lot tougher as far as the licence suspensions are concerned. The minimum suspensions called for in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act are too lenient, quite frankly, but even there we've come a long way.

I can well remember that when I first started my practice as a lawyer, back in the early 1970s, it was quite common for provincial court judges in those days to allow offenders to retain their licences for a certain period to drive to and from work. Thank goodness that's been taken out of the system, because it was almost farcical in some situations, in terms of the people who were convicted and somehow were still able to drive.

I happen to have some relatives who live in Japan, and it's interesting that there, drinking and driving is almost totally unacceptable to the entire society, young or old. One of the reasons for that is the fact that if you ever get convicted of drinking and driving you basically lose your right to drive a vehicle for life. I understand that statistically the incidence of drinking and driving offences there is very low because people realize the seriousness of the consequences if one gets convicted of a drinking and driving offence. To lose your licence for life or for a significant period of time, certainly well beyond the one-year minimum called for in the Highway Traffic Act, is much more serious, something we should all take very seriously.

I'm not sure whether the kind of penalties he calls for are realistic. I think we should pay much closer attention and place the emphasis on the licence suspension. But I will be supporting this resolution, as far as I as a private member am concerned, because I think it will send the right kind of message to people that this kind of situation we, as elected members of the Legislature, simply will not condone. I will be supporting it.

I doubt very much whether any federal government, whichever party gets elected, will impose restrictions as severe as he is suggesting here, but it will be part of the education process that we as a society have to go through to make drinking and driving totally unacceptable in our province.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am pleased to join the debate today on this important resolution. People who watch this place regularly will know that from to time we have issues that come to the floor of this place that are not partisan in nature, that cut through all the politics that are a necessary component of this Legislature, and deal with issues that affect each of us in a way that just doesn't allow divisions along party lines. I see this as very much one of those issues and commend the member for Kitchener for bringing this forward.

Like the member for Kingston and The Islands, I too can recall, not that long ago, when societal standards were very different, much as they are different now around smoking in places that affect other people with secondary smoke, seatbelts, helmets for motorcycle drivers. The idea that someone would have the right, under our Constitution and our bill of rights, to get behind the wheel of a potentially destructive machine like a car totally unable to properly control such a vehicle is absolutely not only unacceptable, but I think it sickens each of us when we hear of cases such as the member for Kitchener brought forward of Nancy.


All of us have been touched in some way or another by someone who's been seriously injured or killed in a car accident involving someone who was impaired. We know -- certainly I remember from my time as the Solicitor General -- that much of the cause is repeat offenders. When you read the paper about someone who's been killed in a car accident and someone's been charged with impaired, you find out that they've got a whole long history of total disregard for the rights of other citizens. In fact, in far too many cases those drivers are driving while their licence is suspended -- a total, absolute, complete disregard for anybody else's concern except their own.

There has to be during the court process some recognition of the fact that there are addictions and circumstances that a judge or a jury must weigh out, because sometimes there are cases where our family member or friend wasn't the victim but the driver. It's always important that we keep that balance, because it's never cut and dried when we deal with any kind of justice issue, which is why I continue to be proud of our justice system. With all the complaints and the criticisms, and many are justified, we still have one of the finest justice systems in the world and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

You learn a lot about people, not just from their formal speeches in this place, but from a lot of the quips and things that people say beside you and near you when the focus is elsewhere in this place. I was pleased to hear, given some of my experiences, given that the member for Kitchener only sits a few seats over, that he didn't want to bring back the cat-o'-nine-tails. A review of his idea of what is fair punishment is certainly warranted, given what I've heard from time to time, but I'm pleased to see that he's not going way off the beam, as some of the members of his party tend to do when we deal with justice issues. They want to press the hot button and go for the emotional impact over and above the reality of a balanced, fair judicial system that metes out discipline and punishment in a way that is acceptable to the majority of Canadians.

But in this resolution I think he speaks to the kinds of sentences we would all support. I'm not going to say his formula is exactly the one we ought to follow. I was pleased to hear that he said it's the principles behind what is presented here that are of the utmost importance to him, and I share that. Therefore, I will also be supporting the resolution and certainly the principles behind it. I would implore the member, and his colleagues, when he talks about compassion -- and I think each of us was moved; certainly I was. That was a very moving speech and I enjoyed listening to you, and I think you evoked the kind of reaction in each of us and anyone watching that you were hoping to. I think most people watching today hope this Legislature would unanimously support this resolution.

I ask and implore the honourable member and his colleagues that when you reach inside you on an issue that you care about strongly, as clearly the member for Kitchener does, and you manage to bring forward that much feeling and that much compassion, I would ask the members of the government to please reach in for that compassion when we're dealing with other pieces of legislation.

I felt, as closely as anyone can from listening to a speech, some of the pain the member's friend in the gallery today has gone through, and I would bring to the attention of the government that there are thousands and thousands of other people who are feeling pain also, a different kind of pain but pain none the less, as a result of some of the actions this government has taken and some of the laws it has passed. I'm very pleased to see that kind of emotion coming from the member for Kitchener and I was pleased to see that everyone in the House was listening, riveted to what he said.

But I urge you, please transfer some of that compassion and some of that caring to some of the other people who are hurting in our society. As you boast of the numbers -- the deficit number, the debt number, the tax reduction and all the people who are so pleased to receive extra money -- please think of the people, particularly the poorest of the poor, who are hurting. They're going through their own pain. I think maybe what we need in this place is a little more compassion, a little more reaching out and a little more understanding of the pain that far too many Ontarians are going through.

I close my remarks by again complimenting the member on bringing forward this excellent resolution. This kind of resolution on this issue is always timely. I certainly will be very proud to offer my support to him. He knows that doesn't come lightly, but in this case I have absolutely no problem and will be very proud to join hopefully all the other members who are in this place today in passing this resolution, because I believe it reflects where society is on this issue. The more and more we can keep impaired drivers off the streets, the fewer and fewer Nancys each of us will have to deal with.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm pleased to speak to this private member's bill that the member for Kitchener has brought forward. I too will be supportive of the bill. I believe the intent of it is certainly an honourable one and that the intent Mr Wettlaufer brings is one that he hopes will be adopted in spirit, not just by parliamentarians, but by everyone out there who drives a car and/or has family members who drive; and that it will help in the education of drivers, in making all of us more responsible and aware that all our actions often have very severe consequences and we must take those responsibly.

I'd like to speak for a moment on the specifics of this. If this should be passed on to committee and actually gets to the point where we're discussing the details of it, I think it would be fairly difficult to actually bring forward into law. Regardless of what party may be in power, it would be very difficult to do so.

In looking at this as an issue, it reminded me immediately of a law in California, a state that I rarely speak about and one that I think many of us should be looking to, because they have done a number of things as a government that would be considered right-wing. They are under a Republican government. What they have in California is called a three-strikes law. What they found was that while the intent was to be very tough on crime -- in this case, each time you would be charged with something and subsequently convicted, the penalty would become stiffer and stiffer. The intent, as a parallel to the member for Kitchener, is the same in that it becomes tougher and tougher and so should be more and more of a deterrent. What happened in California was that when they finally implemented this, no one looked to the cost of implementation. What they've found since then is that the bill is absolutely impossible to implement. In fact, the three-strikes law alone accounts for an increase annually of $5.5 billion to the system.

The irony for me, in discussing a bill like this, whose intent I agree with and will be supportive of, is that I also know this is the same government in this day and age that is making such significant cuts to our systems that we will never be able to implement it. If the Conservative government continues in office, we will never be able to implement it. It costs an enormous amount of additional expense to the judicial system, to the systems under the control of the Solicitor General. In these two areas alone we have seen so far, in the last two years of government here, such a bulging in our system that has yet to be funded appropriately, and that will continue.

In the budget that was announced just the other day, we see no relief in sight. Here we have an Attorney General's office that can't cope with the simple transaction of money from parents who pay support to parents who accept support by law. There is such a terrible situation going on in families that are going through family support. That is the same Attorney General who will now be charged with a doubling and trebling of cases and litigation and court time and judges. This is a government that will not be funding it, as is evidenced over the last two years.


Secondly, we have another minister here in the House, the Solicitor General, another member at the cabinet table authorizing massive cuts across the system; this at a time when we will need more and more of it. What happened in California during this -- these are individuals who are certainly experts in the field. One gentleman says: "Does that mean that I triple my staff? Where is the money going to come from to pay for that?"

The law could have some ironic consequences. It's filling jails with defendants awaiting trial who refuse to plea bargain, because if they were to plea bargain and actually enter a guilty plea, that means automatically that becomes their second offence. The next time around they could be looking a crime that is a life sentence, for example. They are not going forward with that. That means more dangerous inmates will have to be released early, because as it goes down the line we are then letting more dangerous criminals actually out on to the street. That is the irony, that the three-strikes law which was to prevent crime is actually put more crime into the streets.

While the expensive processing of a growing number of criminals is enormous, the cost of imprisoning those is even greater. There is no one there to ensure the system will have the funding it needs to implement the law they've actually passed. By the end they realize their options are simply to raise taxes, which hardly seems like a political option, or to completely cut off funding for other services like public education, pollution control or firefighting.

The irony for us of course is to see that this is the state of California. Here's a state, California, that has completely sucked dry the public education system. They're actually worried about having to pull even more money out of that system, which is considered failing in public education, because they cannot find the money to properly fund their judiciary system there.

Clearly something will have to give and it will be interesting to see what it will be. I caution all the members of the House that while all of us are going to probably or likely -- I speak on my own -- be very supportive of the intent, because on its merit its intent is absolutely honourable and I'm very happy to support it, I will tell you that we would be far more ahead if we could get these same Conservative members to ensure that we properly fund both the office of the Attorney General and the office of the Solicitor General. That so far has not happened.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I rise in support of this resolution. As was said earlier by the member for Hamilton Centre, there are times in this Legislature -- at least it's what's supposed to happen at private members' hour -- when members come into this House without partisan affiliation, trying to address particular problems that face Ontarians within this province. This is one occasion where the particular member, the member for Kitchener, is trying to do just that.

A couple of things need to be said in this particular debate. First of all, the reason the member is calling upon the federal government to deal with this issue is because what he's asking be done can primarily only be done by the federal government because it falls under the Canadian Criminal Code.

It should be said for the record that this Legislature on two occasions over the last two or three years has passed resolutions and laws that stiffen the suspension for drunk drivers. What we have jurisdiction on here in Ontario is that, if you're caught impaired, we can suspend your driver's licence.

I believe that on at least two occasions, once in the last Parliament and once in this Parliament, there were two private members' bills that went through this House, that were passed and eventually adopted, where the suspensions were actually increased for people with drunk driving. I think that's a pretty good approach. People need to recognize that driving is not a right, but is a responsibility. With that responsibility comes the acceptance of your responsibility towards other people out there who may be in danger because of how you may drive your vehicle. That needs to be said, that this Legislature is actually probably further ahead than most jurisdictions in dealing with this issue.

The interesting thing about this as well is that this is another example where we can point to our federal government really not taking its responsibility on a number of key issues. It seems that the Chrétien Liberals in Ottawa, since 1993, since coming to power, have had a fairly free ride. If you take a look at them -- for any government elected to the federal House -- I know that Mr Mulroney was chastised and chased around the country for a number of years when he was Prime Minister of the country, and prior to that the Trudeau government was chased and chastised over a number of issues.

What we've seen in Ottawa is quite interesting. Since 1993 you have a federal government -- quite apart from political partisanship, and I am a New Democrat, I think it needs to be said that no matter what these guys do, it seems that either the media doesn't follow it closely enough or there isn't a strong enough opposition in Ottawa to say to the federal Liberals, "Hey, get your act together."

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): This is true.


Mr Bisson: The Tories are agreeing with me on this one. I think this is another example where the federal government has some power. The federal government controls the Criminal Code and the federal government can try to address this issue in a progressive and positive way to be able to diminish the risk to citizens in our province and across this country. This is another example where the Chrétien government is saying: "Oh, we don't want to straddle the fence to drop on one side or on the other on this one. Maybe we'll offend this citizen, or maybe we'll offend this other special interest group that's out there." They sort of walk the fence on this one.

I think what this House is attempting to do is to say to the federal government in Ottawa: "Listen, you have a responsibility. You need to make sure that you take that responsibility and move forward with it."

The only other point I want to make on this is that we cannot forget the human dimension of this issue. I don't think there's a member of this assembly, and probably not a member of the public who might be watching this debate, who hasn't been touched in some way by this issue, either by a person within our family or a close friend or an acquaintance who has died or been injured as a result of a drunk driver, so everybody knows of a case where this has happened.

That's really the scary part. When we all know somebody who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident because of drunk driving, it tells us we have a pretty serious problem out there. We can't forget the human dimension of what this means to the survivors or victims, should they survive this particular kind of accident that really is not necessary. There are enough accidents on our highways. We don't need to be contributing and adding to them by virtue of having drunk drivers on our highways, endangering the pedestrians and other people travelling on our highways.

I think what the member for Kitchener is trying to do is a step in the right direction. I'm not sure the federal government will agree with the member in saying that on the first offence there should be incarceration of one to seven days.

Mr Baird: Alexa will, Prime Minister McDonough will.

Mr Bisson: I thought we were not going to get too partisan here.

The only thing I want to say to the member for Kitchener is that I'm not convinced the federal Parliament will say that on first offence you will incarcerate. I think the federal Parliament will more likely say: "The governments of Ontario and other provinces have extended suspensions for first and second offences, and eventually withdrawals of licences, and only in cases of criminal negligence and in the cases of second offences or a person leaving and driving while under suspension" -- I think the federal government, in that case, no matter what the political stripe, would probably take heed of what you're trying to do through this motion and say that in those particular cases incarceration might be the answer. We should put that cautionary note out there and say this is a step in the right direction. I'm not convinced the federal government will go as far.

The last thing, I'll come back to the same point. It's a good example, in this motion, of how we need to ensure that we do have people in Ottawa who are speaking up for the interests of Canadians. One of the things that's happening in our federal Parliament today, with nothing but a bunch of Liberals, Tories, Reformers and the Bloc Québécois, is that there really isn't a voice there to keep those Liberals honest in Ottawa. I would urge people to remember that on election day, and what Alexa McDonough is saying on the federal parties.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): The timing for this debate is excellent as we are approaching the Victoria Day weekend, also known as May two-four by many young beer drinkers in Ontario, one of the warm weather holiday weekends that result in most of our drunk driving crashes in Ontario.

Drinking and driving is a complex problem that defies simple solutions. It involves two extremely common activities: the operation of a motor vehicle, boat or snowmobile, for example, and the consumption of alcohol. By virtue of sheer number of people involved and the frequency with which they engage in these behaviours, it is not surprising that we have a drunk driving problem in Ontario.

Over the years it has become increasingly apparent that no one countermeasure program or policy will eliminate the problem. The search for new solutions must recognize the complexity of the issues in attempting to changed well-entrenched patterns of behaviour.


I've worked to try and decrease drinking and driving for over 20 years now and I'm encouraged by the intent of this resolution, as well as the track record to date of the government of Ontario. Much of my work has been through Citizens Against Drinking and Driving, the Brant/Brantford drinking driving countermeasures committee and the Addiction Research Foundation.

Legal sanctions such as jail sentences administered by the courts are central to deterrence-based policies for reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Other examples are fines, licence suspensions, community service. These sanctions will be effective in modifying behaviour to the extent that they are perceived in three ways: as being certain, swiftly applied and severe.

These three primary characteristics, being certain, swift and severe, have proven potential to reduce drunk driving. I feel the impact of any sanction on the general driving public is much more important than its impact on the offenders who are punished. Programs that result in reduced recidivism by those who are punished are worthwhile. However, without having some impact on the total population of drinking drivers, particularly those people who don't get caught, such programs cannot have a major impact on drunk driving and its consequences for people in Ontario. Thus the importance, as I see it, of enforcement, coupled with education and coupled with other measures, seat belt use, for example.

Confinement for drunk drivers is traditionally in jails. However, the use of alternative confinement sites, including the offenders' homes, is increasing. This is due in large part to the inability of jails to handle large numbers of drunk drivers. The use of prison sentences for drinking drivers has been part of Scandinavian law for more than 50 years. In North America, it has been used much less frequently, although interest in the use of such penalties has increased in recent years. In my opinion, such penalties may provide needed shock value for first-time offenders.

I concur with this motion proposed by my friend from Kitchener that legal sanctions and jail terms are important in reducing drunk-driving behaviour.

For 10 years I went into Burtch Correctional Centre on a monthly basis and talked to groups of inmates who were locked up for drunk driving. I would ask their advice on prevention, especially with respect to younger people, and I was often told that if they had received a week or two in jail on their first offence when they were younger, they felt they would not now be doing two years less a day. For that reason, my experience at Burtch, I support jail sentences for early offences as a preventive measure. Jail terms have a proven effect. However, people are still driving drunk and this suggests that jail terms must be combined with other measures. We must also recognize the cost of enforcement -- police, courts -- and social and economic costs of increased surveillance by the criminal justice system.

To continue to broaden our horizons in our quest to reduce drunk driving, we should embrace a global approach. Under this broader approach a number of different countermeasures could be considered in that combined efforts are more successful than individualistic approaches. We must acknowledge the value of the stick combined with the carrot. The stick -- for example, jail terms -- is a proven method of deterrence, but we should recognize that it need not be the only method used.

Its success can be augmented by many new developing approaches: improvements in vehicle design, energy-absorbing steering assemblies to reduce chest injuries, for example, and better road design. There's work being done on alcohol safety interlock systems for vehicle ignitions and this has a potential for prevention. High-intensity spot checks are very successful in Ontario, improved police training, and continuing to get the word out that you can go to jail if you drive drunk.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm pleased to make a contribution to this debate this morning. I want to begin, however, by mentioning the difference between two resolutions or two bills, two initiatives that have been taken.

The member for Mississauga South brought forward her legislative initiative, and it was exclusively within the jurisdiction of the provincial government. I have seen, and it's not simply during this session or anything else, a penchant among some members of the Legislature of all parties, at different times, for wanting to point to some other government to do something, a federal or a local or an international government to do something.

I've always felt that the best resolutions or bills are those which are exclusively within the purview of this Legislature, because it compels the government in power, whatever government it is at Queen's Park, to make a decision whether it's going to proceed with that legislation or not.

This piece of legislation or this resolution is helpful, I think, in terms of particularly the shock value of it to people. It will shock them into recognizing the significance of driving which is considered to be unacceptable by our society. Nevertheless, if I want to contrast it with the member for Mississauga South, hers was strictly within the purview of the provincial government and therefore really said to members of the Legislature: "Here is something we can do. We have a direct effect on this. We don't have to point a finger somewhere else or ask somebody else. We are dealing with a matter under provincial jurisdiction."

I was enthusiastic about the bill proposed by the member for Mississauga South not only for the reason that the contents of the bill were good, but also the fact that it was under exclusively provincial jurisdiction. I happen to believe -- and perhaps you'll chastise me some time if I ever bring forward a resolution or a bill that does not fit this category -- that what we should be dealing with in this House are matters exclusively under the purview of the provincial government.

I think the issue is a significant one, I must say. If you look at the European experience, the level of tolerance of impaired driving in Europe is next to zero in some countries, even countries which have perhaps a worse record in terms of the consumption of alcohol. The rules for the operation of vehicles related to that are rather strict, much stricter than we have, generally speaking, in North America.

The other provision which is useful but has to be enforced is the provision of the removal of the right to drive. When people yield that right, that is rather significant in terms of their ability to enjoy recreation, to enjoy pleasurable events or, most importantly, to enjoy the opportunity to be able to drive back and forth to work, particularly if a person's job depends on the operation of a vehicle.

So I think that whenever we deal with matters of this kind, they are important matters, they are initiatives that deserve support of members of this assembly. I only wish, when we are dealing with these matters, that we would deal with those under provincial jurisdiction and that we encourage our federal colleagues of whatever political party to bring forward this kind of initiative within the purview of the federal House of Commons, where it can be dealt with appropriately.

But I'm sure there will be widespread support for this initiative. I intend to vote for it. I'm sure many in our province would be in support of this initiative.

Mr Baird: I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise and address this resolution brought forward by my colleague the member for Kitchener. I would at the outset like to commend him for all of his effort and dedication on this very important issue. I know his interest in the safety of his community and on this issue is long-standing and I congratulate him for his efforts.

I also congratulate Margaret Marland, the member for Mississauga South. She has certainly worked hard on this issue, as has the Minister of Transportation, Al Palladini, in bringing in the administrative licence suspension.

Drunk driving causes a great deal of concern for people in my constituency in Nepean. A good number of local tragedies have got the public extremely concerned. But the problem when a local tragedy happens and it gets people concerned and outraged and upset and they express that anger and that demand for action, that clarion call for action, is that it then dies down and the issue goes away, only to rear its head a number of months later, a number of years later. That's why I've taken it as an issue to constantly be presenting petitions, constantly raising this issue, and do enjoy the opportunity to bring those views forward, because this is not an issue that's going to go away. I had a town hall meeting on this issue and 250 people came out to hear the member for Mississauga South speak on this issue because it's so important for the public in my constituency.


I encouraged the member for Kitchener with support on this resolution. It deals with the federal House. We're dealing with everything we can do on the provincial level. We have had the administrative licence suspension, this House passed through second reading Mrs Marland's bill on drunk driving, and the Minister of Transportation has brought one bill forward and has indicated he'll be moving on another initiative. What this is suggesting, in a very non-partisan way, is to put on record the views of this House and encourage the next federal Parliament to act, because they haven't done a lot of action in recent years and I think that's regrettable. As a matter of fact, we looked through the Legislative Assembly and we couldn't find one time when the federal government had brought forward an initiative. Maybe there is one; we couldn't find one in the last three and a half years.

My colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands brought two issues up in his comments that I agreed with and wanted to discuss. He said, "We've come a long way." I would agree with my colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands on that. We've come a long way, but there is much further we have to go. We've got to continue to put pressure, continue to clearly demonstrate that as a society we're not going to tolerate this type of behaviour.

The member's resolution particularly merits support in my judgement for the components it contains on second and repeat offences, wanting to put in stricter offences for repeat offenders, which I think is where the crux is: 65% of charges are repeat offenders. Those people aren't getting the message. The Highway Traffic Act doesn't deal with them. What the member for Kitchener is saying by this resolution, in my judgement, is: "This is not a social problem; this is a criminal problem. These are acts committed by criminals. The results of their criminal activity have victims, and these victims have families and these victims deserve some justice." I commend the member for wanting to seek that.

The member for Kingston and The Islands also said that people must realize the significance of their actions. When we see that 65% of charges are repeat offenders, we know that people obviously don't realize the significance of their offences. Maybe a few days, a week, or 60 days on a second offence, as a minimum, would allow them the opportunity to reflect on their criminal behaviour. I think that certainly is very important in this.

We've got to look at drunk driving. It's the largest criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Every 45 minutes, a driver is involved in an alcohol-related crash. The member for Kitchener talked about the statistical yearbook put out by the Ministry of the Attorney General. There are a lot of families and a lot of parents out there who -- this document, with all its facts and figures, there are no pictures in it. That is in my judgement regrettable because the actions of these criminals have a consequence and they deserve to be and must be addressed by the people's representatives in the province of Ontario. I think that's very important, certainly with what I've heard in my constituency.

Education is important, but to an extent. If 65% of the cases are repeat offences, obviously education is not enough; obviously tougher actions are required. We can't pass changes to the Criminal Code in this House. That's why I appreciate the member bringing forward this important issue so that we can address it at the federal level.

Lastly, I would just encourage everyone watching on television to go to the all-candidates' meeting in your constituency. When the candidates of all parties come to the door, ask them where they stand on this issue, ask them what specific commitments they're going to make to you, and then hold them accountable for that, because this issue must be dealt with by the Criminal Code, and that is very important. I think it's important that this be dealt with as a criminal problem, not a social problem.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise today in support of the member for Kitchener's resolution on the state of impaired driving in Ontario. I want to first state I'm very clearly in support of this resolution. I've had certainly in the last week a change of mind on this, because originally I felt that the Minister of Transportation's administrative licence suspension, which was just recently introduced, was a very severe signal and warning for those who would be driving under the influence. However, listening to a program yesterday on CFRB radio really brought home to me that someone can drive and can actually kill someone and not have to pay a serious consequence for it.

I think if we really want to be serious and put some real teeth into the enforcement of impaired driving, this very clearly sends a signal that you're going to do time, and this time would be the appropriate time to learn the consequences for their actions. I don't think it's too harsh. I think of all the work that's gone into it by the Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They need the support of this resolution from the member for Kitchener.

When I listened, in other jurisdictions they have an incarceration period, and I think that's the reminder that is critical. Before you get behind the wheel of a car, if you're impaired, there's a serious message here in this discussion today.

I'm going to leave the remainder of my time to one of the other members, but keep in mind that impaired driving is not acceptable.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I'm very delighted to join on this historic occasion with the member for Kitchener and his presentation this morning of the problem of drinking drivers and the tragic consequences arising out of their irresponsible actions. On behalf of Transportation Minister Al Palladini, we want to respond in the transportation ministry and agree vigorously with the proposal in the resolution presented by the member for Kitchener.

The member for Kitchener raises concerns in an area that should have been dealt with for many, many years, and this government has undertaken significant initiatives in that particular area. Our concern is shared with the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving, which includes representatives from such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. We've come to the conclusion, from listening to a lot of people on this subject, from law enforcement officers to family members to loved ones to the judiciary, that we need to undertake specific inclusive, comprehensive measures in this area.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has done so through its road safety plan. Although the plan is only 18 months old, we've made several significant advances in road safety. The first one I'd like to mention is the 90-day suspension that is invoked before the offender leaves the police station. While the administrative driver's licence suspension program is relatively new and has been in effect since last December, we have made some surprising gains in this area, if you look at it in that context. Under the ADLS, in its first weekend of operation from November 29, 1996, and into December, there were 303 Ontario drivers who had to serve a 90-day driver's licence suspension. Since that time we've chalked up, in five months, 8,832 drivers who have had administrative driving suspensions undertaken.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. The member for Kitchener has two minutes to reply.

Mr Wettlaufer: I would like to thank all the members who participated in the debate today: the members for Kingston and The Islands, Hamilton Centre, Windsor-Sandwich, Cochrane South, St Catharines, and my colleagues in the government from Norfolk, Nepean, Durham East and Etobicoke-Rexdale. I thank them all for their support. I appreciate it very much. I especially want to thank the PA for transportation because that indicates to me the ministry is in favour. With that kind of power behind us, I think we can carry this to the federal government. Thank you very much.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal first with ballot item number 75. If there are members who are opposed to a vote on this at this time, will they please rise.

Mr Kwinter has moved second reading of Bill 126, An Act to amend the Medicine Act, 1991. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.

Shall the bill be referred to a committee?

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): General government.

The Acting Speaker: Does a majority of the House agree that this should be referred to the general government committee? It is agreed.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): We will deal now with ballot item number 76, standing in the name of Mr Wettlaufer. If there are any members opposed to a vote being taken at this time, will they please rise.

Is it the wish of the House the resolution carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1202 to 1207.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Wettlaufer has moved private member's notice of motion number 50. All those in favour please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Gerretsen, John

Newman, Dan

Baird, John R.

Gilchrist, Steve

O'Toole, John

Barrett, Toby

Gravelle, Michael

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Beaubien, Marcel

Grimmett, Bill

Parker, John L.

Bisson, Gilles

Hastings, John

Pettit, Trevor

Boushy, Dave

Kells, Morley

Phillips, Gerry

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Brown, Jim

Kwinter, Monte

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Brown, Michael A.

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Christopherson, David

Laughren, Floyd

Shea, Derwyn

Colle, Mike

Leach, Al

Sheehan, Frank

Cordiano, Joseph

Leadston, Gary L.

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Marland, Margaret

Spina, Joseph

Elliott, Brenda

Martin, Tony

Stewart, R. Gary

Fisher, Barbara

McLean, Allan K.

Turnbull, David

Fox, Gary

Miclash, Frank

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Galt, Doug

Munro, Julia


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 50; the nays are 0.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the resolution carried.

All matters relating to private members' business having now been completed, I do leave the chair. This House is adjourned until 1:30 o'clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1210 to 1331.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The budget presented by the government May 6 has failed totally and miserably to recognize and address the very special needs of a very special group in our society: our seniors. A very large and fast-growing group, hit with copayment and user fees, our seniors are once again being neglected and forgotten by their own government. Another bitter pill to swallow.

Thousands upon thousands of our seniors, the sick and the elderly, the old living on a single measly pension, the seniors in need of a nursing home bed, the seniors who are forced to pay for the government's tax cuts, the seniors who will have to decide: pay rent, buy prescriptions or buy food -- the minister has unfortunately forgotten the seniors.

In your budget there is no better tomorrow for our seniors. You are colour-blind. Their future is not rosy; it's very grim and bleak. Shame on you for failing to address the seniors' needs. This is not the way to recognize our seniors.

Minister, you had the opportunity to remove copayments and user fees, and you have once again failed our seniors miserably. Shame on you.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The claim in the budget that this Conservative government will spend more money on health care this year is quickly unravelling, and so too is the claim that this money will go to patient care.

The Ontario Medical Association issued a press release yesterday which blew apart the government's spin. Dr Rowland, president of the association, said, "The Conservative government's claim in the budget that more money is going into health care is misleading." He noted that this government came to its final budget figure by adding together the operating budget of the Ministry of Health, plus one-time restructuring and capital costs associated with this government's hospital closures. In looking at the money that has been lumped together to form the larger budget figure, Dr Rowland said, "Either way, there's really no additional money for patient care in Ontario."

For good measure, so the Minister of Health gets the message, Dr Rowland also said: "There has been no tangible increase in health care spending in 1997-98 despite the increasing health care needs of the population. I see nothing in this budget to reassure patients that access to care will be any better this year."

It's also worth adding that health care spending per person this year will be less than last year. The one-time funding for health care which appears in the budget is to pay for severance packages for the thousands of nurses who are going out the door and for the capital costs for the single hospitals which will be left after the government closures. The announcement to delay cuts already announced is clearly a sign that the government has gone too far. Too bad the budget claim on health care is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): Earlier this year, I sent out a questionnaire to business owners in my riding of Wentworth East. With the Minister of Finance having delivered his new budget on Tuesday, I'd like to report the very timely results of my survey to the House at this time.

For the business people of my riding, these are very positive and hopeful times. One of the questions I asked business people was to identify what the greatest negative impact was on their willingness or their ability to increase employment in their firms. Over 60% of the respondents said that taxes are the biggest deterrent to job creation in this province.

I think my constituents will find solace in the fact that the finance minister's budget not only continued to cut income tax rates, but the budget included a total of 20 tax cuts, and you and I both know, Mr Speaker, that tax cuts create jobs. This budget will mean more good news for the job creators of my riding.

Another question I asked business people was to rate their likelihood to hire new employees in the next 18 months: 44%, almost half of the business owners in Wentworth East, stated that they intend to hire new employees to create more jobs for constituents. People in my riding know that our plan is working, and because of it there will soon be more people working as well.

People who responded to my survey strongly urged this government to stay the course, continue to cut taxes and government spending, and to improve the climate for creating jobs in this province. I thank all those who took part in the survey.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My statement today is directed towards the Minister of Health, and I would like to ask a page to deliver this letter to the minister.

The story is about two very young constituents of mine. Two-and-a-half-year-old Peter Navratils and his eight-month-old sister Avery have both been diagnosed with a very rare skin disease known as xeroderma pigmentosum, XP, for short, a rare condition that affects less than 1,000 people worldwide.

What XP means is that these small children have an extremely high sensitivity to UV rays to the point where their skin burns within minutes of exposure to sunlight. This disease dramatically raises the risk that Peter and Avery will go blind, deaf or experience neurological problems. They are predisposed to cancer, and most children who are born with this condition do not live past their 18th birthday.

Peter and Avery need protective clothing, glasses and frequent applications of the highest sunblock in their home. They also need a triple laminate coating for their windows to provide a protective barrier between them and the sun, and a light meter for their home, because even the windows cannot fully protect them.

These measures are aimed at giving Peter and Avery the most normal childhood. The problem is that I've been informed that while the assistive devices program was established to provide supplies for Ontarians with long-term disabilities, this program does not cover most of these needed expenses, particularly the vital coating for the windows or the light meter.

We have a responsibility to help the vulnerable children in this province, and I'm calling on the Minister of Health to help the Navratils. Find the flexibility in the ADP to help these children live the healthiest, longest and most normal lives possible.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): This morning I had an opportunity to participate in the debate on a private member's bill sponsored by the member for Wilson Heights. The piece of legislation he proposes deals with alternative medicine and ensuring that practitioners of alternative medicine have an opportunity to do so as long as it is consistent with good patient care in a way that is free from harassment by the medical establishment in the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

I can't tell you how important I think this kind of legislative initiative is and I am fully supportive of it. I'm also pleased that the members of the Legislature, in all three parties, supported this bill in principle.

I heard some members of the government caucus caution that they had problems with the wording and that there were some more restrictions and/or cautions that need to be built in to it. Fair enough. Let me tell you how to do it.

Now that it has passed second reading and it has been ordered for committee, it's up to the government to ensure that it doesn't die on the order table, that it's actually called. The Minister of Health can take ownership of this, either by introducing a government bill or by working with the member for Wilson Heights to improve the legislation to meet the concerns that have been expressed by some in the field and to make sure it comes to committee so there can be full public hearings.

I remind the government caucus, the Conservatives in this House, that I, as Minister of Health, worked with one of their members to do just that with a private member's bill and helped her see it through to legislation. Jim Wilson should do the same.



Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Some events in our lives are so shocking that we will always remember where we were when we heard the news. For me, one of those days was September 23, 1983, when I learned that my constituent, Barbara Turnbull, an 18-year-old student, had been shot that night during a robbery at a local convenience store where she worked.

We soon learned that while Barbara would live, she would be paralysed from the neck down. Her doctors predicted that she would always be reliant on a lung machine. But the strength of Barbara's personality soon became obvious. Not only did she recover her ability to breathe, but she went on to graduate in 1990 with a BA in journalism from Arizona State University. An exceptional student, Barbara graduated with high academic honours and was selected as her class valedictorian.

Since then we have enjoyed Barbara's talented writing in the Toronto Star. Now she has published an autobiography, Looking in the Mirror, about the tragedy that changed her life and the road back from that dark time. I was honoured to be invited to the official launching of Barbara's book on April 23, 1997, published by the Toronto Star.

There can be no stronger testimony to the strength of the human spirit than Barbara's determination to make the most of the many gifts she has to offer our society. Her courage, wisdom and love for life are truly an inspiration to us all.

I invite all members in this House to join me in congratulating Barbara on the publication of her book and wishing her the very best in all her future endeavours.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Mike Harris and Al Leach are continuing to spin doctor that municipalities are happy with the new downloading arrangements with the province.

Whereas municipalities are certainly better off than the $1 billion of additional downloading that Mike Harris forced on them earlier, the new scheme will still cost Ontario property taxpayers more in property taxes than it currently does. Why else would Mike Harris and Al Leach not guarantee local property taxpayers that they will not be paying more as a result of the new funding arrangements?

In addition to the municipal support grant of $667 million that municipalities were cut off from last year, there will be at least another $600 million that will be downloaded on municipalities this year. No, Premier, municipalities and local taxpayers are not happy with the new downloading, as municipalities will now have to pay for 100% of social housing in their cities, ferries, airports, sewer and water inspections, police, farm property tax rebate systems, property assessors, libraries, public health including health units, and land ambulances.

We are already hearing from municipalities that they will have to increase their property taxes by as much as 10% or 20% to provide the same services they did last year. Mike Harris, in order to pay for your tax cut, you would have been better off if you'd left the funding arrangements to the municipalities alone.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): The government made a very big deal out of the increase of $27 million over the next four years to support women and their families who are trying to break the cycle of violence.

This particular item in the budget points out as no other the hypocrisy that's involved in the spin this government is trying to put on its budget. The reality is that the cuts this government has already made to services that had been proven to be effective in assisting those who are trying to escape violence in their lives, to become self-sufficient and safe in our communities, is many times the number of dollars this government has announced with so much fanfare.

The whole field of violence against women and children has been one to which successive governments in this province, until this particular government, have devoted more and more time and energy, because they recognized the real problem both in dollars and cents and in human misery that is caused by the ongoing violence that occurs in families.

For this government to attempt to portray itself in this budget as if it were joining in the real efforts to help women and children in a position of violence is hypocrisy of the worst level and it will not be accepted by --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Thank you for the opportunity to remind the members of this Legislature about Pitch-In Week, now taking place in hundreds of communities in Ontario and across Canada.

Pitch-In Week is now in its 29th year in some parts of Canada. This has become a tradition and is a testament to a very powerful idea: Cleaning up the world begins with individual action.

This week more than two million individuals are putting this idea into action. More than 2,500 organizations are involved, from local governments, community organizations and chambers of commerce to environmental groups, service clubs, schools, youth groups and seniors' groups. Together they are pitching in by reducing, reusing and recycling; by cleaning up waterways and highways; by removing garbage from school yards and parks, resulting in cleaner and healthier communities.

The organization of this week's activities, Pitch-In Canada, deserves our thanks for a job well done. I should also note that among the partners involved are Scouts Canada, Friends of the Environment and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

I know that all of my colleagues in this Legislature share my desire to see a cleaner and healthier environment. I encourage all of you to get behind the great work being done in your communities. I encourage you to pitch in and help.



Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the Minister of Education. Today I want to talk about what's really happening to students in Ontario who want to go to college or university. It's now clear to everyone, Minister, that you're giving up on our students who need you the most. You've just closed the door on 5,000 part-time students, who are now ineligible for Ontario student loans because you've increased course-load requirements.

This is nothing short of ridiculous. On the one hand, you forced universities to boost tuition fees by about 20%. Now you're telling desperate students that they're out of luck, that this government won't help them. How can anyone believe you when you say you want to ensure that our universities and colleges remain accessible? What do you say to those 5,000 students who won't be able to earn an education as a result of these changes?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member opposite for the question. I would suggest the member opposite perhaps spend a little more time with his research staff. He will find out, if he talks with his research staff, that Ontario has since 1978 had the provisions of the Ontario student assistance program meet the federal regulations. He will notice that those federal regulations changed between 1978 and now, several times, and Ontario has matched those requirements.

The last series of changes the federal government brought into its package, which we have now adjusted to, happened during the tenure of the previous government in 1994. There were consultations across Canada on those regulations, including consultations with Ontario students, with the Ontario universities and, I assume, with the Ministry of Education under the previous government. So Ontario has moved to be consistent with the federal package of loan programs for students.

Mr Cordiano: Minister, you're the one who has given Ontario's universities and colleges the lowest funding in this country. That's how you show your commitment to accessible post-secondary education? You're the one who told people collecting family benefits that they could get student loans only if they went to university part-time. Now you're cutting most of those people off completely. The message is very clear: If you want an education, you have to buy it; if you can't afford it, tough luck.

That's not what Ontario has been all about. This province has been a success because we've given people the opportunity to succeed. Time and again, government after government has done that. Why are you cutting off those opportunities to our students? Why are you doing that?

Hon Mr Snobelen: It's very awkward to stand here today and again refer the honourable member opposite to his research staff, who have obviously failed him again today. He will find that Ontario part-time students are eligible, as are students in the other nine provinces, for the part-time Canada student loans program. That is the program they access for loans to participate in Ontario universities on a part-time basis, as they do in nine other provinces. By the way, Ontario, under this government, was the last province to adopt these federal regulations and federal standards. So I suggest to the member opposite, please, sir, do your research, have your people prepare the right information, so that you are informed when you ask the question.

This government's record on post-secondary education is obvious. We have put together a fund for students most at risk that, as the Minister of Finance announced the other day, amounts to half a billion dollars and will assist 166,000 students in this province over the next 10 years. The universities are excited about it, we're excited about it, and so are the students.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary, the member for Scarborough North.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Today is a sad day for those seeking part-time studies who need OSAP, and the minister knows that, because today the minister changed the definition of part-time studies to mean 60% of full-time course load. For those part-time students, their goals are much farther away. These changes mean that students will have to carry no less than three courses a week in order to be eligible for any OSAP. This is awful, and I hope you'll take another look at your sneaky assessment changes and make the necessary changes.

I quote from Dr Robert Prichard, president of the University of Toronto, who said, "If we expect students to combine part-time study with their other responsibilities, we must give those in need the same key provisions that we give full-time students." Minister, wouldn't you agree?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I know the member for Scarborough North is usually well researched, so he must be using someone else's research material. For the record, and so this is very clear for the people of Ontario, part-time students will access a different program, a federal program, for support. In fact, that program has less stringent qualifications than the program it replaces. That means -- and I know the member for Scarborough North will be pleased to hear this -- that more people will be eligible for more loans as part-time students under this new program. I think that's a real win for students.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health. I want to talk to you about some people I asked you about before the budget. I asked you and I asked the Premier about a number of tragic situations that have occurred in this province, and they're depending on your answers. They're depending on knowing when this budget came out whether the health system can possibly get better as a result of what you've done.

I wonder if you would please address the fact that you said yesterday in this House you were putting $400 million more this year into operating, and the fact is the amount of money in operation is $17.845 billion and that compares with $17.844 billion for last year. It's $1 million, and it's probably less money than you're spending on the ads that you put in the Globe and Mail today in phoney advertising for this budget.

Will you please stand up today and admit that no more money is going towards patient care as a result of your budget and in fact it is being cut?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The honourable member keeps harping on a theme that no one in the rest of the province believes. Most people understand that we inherited a health care operating budget of $17.4 billion and that the budget is up to $17.8 billion. That's a $400-million increase, and all of that money has gone into expanding patient services.

In addition, the finance minister has announced over $2 billion to be spent on restructuring, on top of the $17.8 billion, over the next few years, to ensure that patient services are maintained and enhanced. It's a heck of a lot better than the Liberal's campaign promise in 1995 of $17 billion, which would be $800 million less than we're spending today.

Finally, I ask all honourable members to keep in mind that we've had to do some dramatic restructuring in government and cut government overhead and red tape by 32%, and all of that money and more has gone into an enhanced health care budget for the good expansion of services that's occurring across the province.

Mr Kennedy: I hope your back bench was listening to that, because in every one of their communities hospitals are being cut. We talked the other day about a young girl who had to be brought to four hospitals before she could get emergency care in Niagara region, four hospitals you had cut by some millions of dollars, and a young father who had a three-day-old son die at Sick Kids, which you have cut by $22 million, yet you have the audacity to stand here today and talk in the abstract about what you've done.

This year, people want to know, will it get better? They may not be listening to you and they may be listening instead to the Ontario Medical Association. The headline of their release says, "Ontario Budget Misleading on Health Care Funding." That's their headline. You need to respond and say whether or not the president, Gerry Rowland, is right when he says, just looking at your figures, when you take in the total amount of spending, which is how you're trying to portray this, there's $339 million less being spent on health care this year, so those patients who have suffered this year can look forward to things getting worse.

Minister, stand in your place and admit, at least, you've got work to do.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member again is wrong. All the facts point to, and the audited facts point to, the fact that the health care budget is up $400 million in spite of a $2.1-billion cut in transfers from the federal Liberal government.

Let's talk about the new services that the Health Services Restructuring Commission is recommending across the province in its final directives and its interim directives. It says in Thunder Bay, for example -- and we have already made these reinvestments -- $2 million to $2.3 million in transitional care to be added to the system, $2.4 million in home care, $1 million to operate the new MRI which will be placed in Thunder Bay, $1.2 million for adolescent mental health, $3 million to $4 million for specialist recruitment. In Sudbury, $2.8 million to $3.2 million for subacute new transitional care beds, $1.2 million for home care, $3.3 million to recruit and retain new physicians, $1.9 million for repatriation of hospital services to the Sudbury region, and the list goes on and on. That's what that $2 billion in restructuring is for: more services to serve more patients.

Mr Kennedy: The threat to health care in days gone by was from people who used to go around selling unproven potions, flim-flam people who came to town. These days the snake oil comes in the form of figures that are announced over and over again and health care that's not delivered to people who are sick.

Minister, I'm going to ask you a very simple question on behalf of the Wa-li Akhras family, the father of the young son who died; on behalf of the Tymchyshyn family, a 57-year-old man who spent five hours in an emergency room and collapsed and died in the parking lot because he couldn't get served in Jim Wilson's health care Ontario. They want you to answer this question straight: Have you or have you not cut in this fiscal year, which is what this budget is about, $400 million to this province's hospitals and made that downgrade in patient care unavoidable for the hospitals and the health care workers in this province? Answer the question, Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'll take the honourable member back to what the Ontario Nurses' Association has been saying as they speak in favour of restructuring across this province. They have said to members in this Legislature for years that there's at least 30% waste and duplication and excessive administrative costs in the hospital system. We've said no, we don't think it's that high.

The commission has found about $1.1 billion worth of savings and we have been reinvesting all of that money and more back into the health care system so that by this time next year we should have the shortest waiting lists in cardiac care and for cardiac surgery. The nurses and doctors are working overtime on weekends now. We'll have more dialysis services. There are 23 new clinics up and running that weren't in existence last year. We have more hip and knee operations. We have a coordinated and enhanced cancer system with millions of new dollars being put in it, a women's institute now announced --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- which will add about $10 million into research on women's health care. All of that is reinvestments and it's far more money, it's two and a half times more money than we've seen in --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question, leader of the third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question to the Minister of Health: Yesterday you tried to say that $450 million has been added to the patient care budget in the Ministry of Health. You tried to say that money which is actually going to be spent for laying off nurses and money which will be spent to close hospitals somehow is going to help patient care.

When the Ontario Medical Association heard about your feeble attempt, this is what they said. This is Dr Gerry Rowland, representing Ontario doctors: "The Ontario government's claim that yesterday's budget puts more money into health care is misleading and it does not address current problems caused by cuts in previous years.... The amount of money being spent on patient care has been increased by only $1 million -- about the same amount of money the government spent on TV ads to tell Ontarians not to worry about...health care."

Minister, will you come clean? Will you admit what everyone else knows? You can't count money spent on laying off nurses as money for patient care.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member isn't correct. Dr Gerry Rowland knows full well that one of the major reasons the health care budget is up to $17.8 billion is that physicians, as part of the interim agreement that's been signed by the government, will receive about $300 million more, or 7% more, for the services they're rendering in the province. I doubt very much the Ontario Medical Association is saying there isn't more money in health care, because the physicians who are performing services for patients are being reimbursed for that. We're getting away from the clawbacks and the draconian measures that you took in office and we're putting new money in the system to help physicians meet the patient demand out there. With the interim agreement -- that's about $300 million, and it's one of the major reasons the health care budget is up.

Mr Hampton: This minister is incredible. Everybody else in the province is wrong but him. This is the title of their press release: "Ontario Budget Misleading on Health Care Spending." He goes on to say you can't count the money that is spent to throw nurses out the door as money spent on patient care. He's clear about that. You can't call money spent on closing hospitals money devoted to patient care.

At the same time you were trying to string this story yesterday, we found out that the only agency that deals with health care retraining, with taking nurses who have been laid off and giving them training so they can fit in somewhere else in the system, was told it's no longer in existence by your deputy minister. The Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel was terminated by your government.

Minister, admit what everybody else knows. There is nothing here for retraining, there is nothing here for patient care. This is all about how much it's going to cost to lay off nurses and close hospitals. Admit it.

Hon Mr Wilson: In addition to the $440-million increase in operating funding for the Ministry of Health, we are providing $2 billion for retraining, new services and capital costs. The Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel was not put out of business yesterday. They have been asked to compete on the same basis as community colleges, other non-profit groups and agencies that provide retraining.

Hospitals will have access to that $2 billion as their employees need retraining for the thousands of new jobs that are occurring on the community-based side in home care and home services. As people retrain for those jobs -- $2 billion is the fund, much of it available for retraining -- hospitals will purchase from the highest quality, best-price agencies, including HSTAP if it chooses to stay in the business of brokering training dollars in this province.

The Speaker: Final supplementary, member for London Centre.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): This minister just gets more unbelievable all the time. First of all, he tells us that $300 million is going to pay doctors, at the same time that he's simply sloughing off the fact that 1,250 other health care workers a month have been going to HSTAP to get assistance in terms of training and placement; 1,250 people a month who look to this organization as the group which is going to help them, which is focused on placing them in this field and will help them to find new jobs.

Health care workers, as you know, Minister, are being laid off now and have been laid off in increasing numbers over the last months. When you do get to restructuring, when the rubber finally hits the road on this so-called restructuring plan, you're going to find that you've lost every hope you had of coordination. You've lost the central job registry, you've lost any ability for planned and coordinated redeployment. As Dr Rowland said, just like there's no additional money, there's no plan. What do you say to that?

Hon Mr Wilson: There is a plan. This $2 billion of extra money on top of the $17.8 billion provides for significant retraining and new services for patients and capital costs. HSTAP, the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel, will I hope take up the offer to be out there competing with community colleges, with other brokerage agencies on a highest-quality, best-price basis.

The hospitals themselves now will pool together to purchase services and we have a commitment from the Ontario Hospital Association that they will be working very quickly to expedite the processing of claims. Any claims received by HSTAP up to this point will be fully honoured and people will receive their retraining dollars.

There was a real need to ensure that we're getting the best bang for our dollar in terms of retraining. Hospitals themselves have agreed to this, and other agencies like nursing homes and other agencies in the health care system that will undergo some restructuring will also have access to the $2 billion.

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

Mr Hampton: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. He's just stepped out, so I'd ask that we be able to stand it down.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of the Environment. On June 4, 1995, Mike Harris said, "I don't think you'll find a cent there cut out of the environment. We'll be able to find $6 million in cuts without cutting the environment."

Minister, on Tuesday the budget cut an additional $10 million out of the operating budget for the upcoming year. That brings it to $121 million since your government has taken office that you have cut out of the Ministry of the Environment. You have sacrificed the quality of air in Ontario. You're sacrificing peoples' lives.

By your own admission, you said 1,800 Ontarians die prematurely every year as a result of poor air quality. Those were your words, Minister, your comments. The federal Minister of the Environment has stated that $365 million a year in additional health care costs in Ontario are attributed to poor air quality. We have problems with benzene. PM10 in my own community causes 25 deaths a year, and we have brought that to your attention once again. In view of the alarming statistics and the crisis you have created, how can you continue to cut the Ministry of Environment and sacrifice air quality in Ontario?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): As many of us know, a lot of our air quality problems relate to what comes across the boundaries from the United States. I have urged the federal minister, whom he refers to, to take a more proactive stance with regard to encouraging the federal EPA to take some stiff positions with regard to the trans-border emissions that we get from the United States.

In fact in Windsor, 90% of the problems come from across the border. It's after my lead in intervening with regard to the EPA that the federal minister decided to intervene as well. We are looking out for air quality for the people of Ontario like no other provincial government has before. We are urging our federal government to take a proactive stance, which they have refused to do in the past and only followed the lead of the provincial Minister of Environment. We are doing all we can within our borders. We are also doing all we can outside our borders.

Mr Agostino: Minister, what you have shown is a gutless lack of leadership when it comes to environmental standards. Let me tell you what you have done. You have cut the staff by 30%, 720 employees, since your government took office. You have cut air monitoring stations by 39%. You have closed 92 air monitoring stations in Ontario. You have left 13 communities without air monitoring stations. On 20 separate occasions your government has committed to vehicle emission testing programs, and what have we seen? Rhetoric and trips to the United States.

Minister, you have not brought in standards for cancer-causing agents such as benzene. You have continued to let down Ontarians day after day. You have classified odour and dust as nuisance complaints. Those have been your actions, a shameless record. Don't blame the United States, don't blame the federal government. You're in charge. You are the minister. You have let people down.

We are in a crisis in Ontario. By your admission, 1,800 people a year die prematurely as a result of poor air quality. Will you do the right thing today, Minister? Will you agree to appoint an independent commission to study air quality in Ontario and make recommendations to this government on how we can clean up our problem and stop 1,800 people a year from dying prematurely in Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: Despite the terrible mess that was left with regard to the financial situation in this province, this government has seen fit to deal with that in a most direct manner. Basically, what's happened within my own ministry, I would love to have those additional staff to deal with a number of proactive things we might do; however, we believe we are able to continue to protect the environment with the staff we have. Basically, what happened in the budget on Tuesday was that this ministry was given much more money to deal with fixing problems. We were given some $200 million to deal with a number of environmental problems across Ontario.

The results are beginning to show with regard to the improvement of our environment. We have noted better water quality in the Great Lakes. We have noted better air quality in this province. But that's not good enough. We are continuing to work on it like no other government has before.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Yesterday I put a very simple question to the minister. I put it to him twice and he neglected to answer my question both times, so I'm going to try again. I thought I'd make it easier. I brought with me last year's budget, the 1996 budget.

The interesting thing about budgets is that once the new one's out there, the old one seem to be forgotten, so I want to remind the minister that last year you made a commitment to spend $200 million more on child care over five years; $40 million dollars a year was your commitment. In Tuesday's budget you only referred to last year's portion of the $200 million. What I was trying to ask you and perhaps didn't make clear -- I want to be clear today -- is I want to know where the rest of that is. Minister, does the other $160 million represent a broken promise?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): To the honourable member, I suggest to her that the five years are not up yet and if she will wait --


Hon Mr Eves: That's quite true. We promised to spend $200 million more over five years. That was the commitment: We would spend $200 million more on child care over five years. Wait until the end of the five-year period of time; then you might have an appropriate question to ask.

Ms Lankin: Minister, that is absolutely absurd.


Ms Lankin: If I could have the minister's attention. Minister, if I could have your --

The Speaker: Order. Supplementary.

Ms Lankin: Minister, your commitment --


Ms Lankin: Once again, Minister, could I have your attention, please. Mr Speaker, I can't put a question to the minister while he's heckling.

The Speaker: Put the question; that's all I can say.

Ms Lankin: Your commitment was for $200 million over five years, but you spelled it out: $40 million a year. That meant $40 million last year, $80 million this year, $120 million next year, $160 million the year after, so we're not going to wait until year five. You've got a commitment for this year for $80 million.

What your budget said on Tuesday was that last year's $40 million will be augmented by another $100 million of the amount you saved from welfare through the national child income program. It's right there on page 27 of this year's budget.

Over the last two years you've made it really clear that your response to child care needs is this new tax credit and that that's where your new spending is. It begins with last year's $40 million and then is funded by the federal child income program. What happened to last year's promise? Where is the additional $160 million this year, the additional $80 million? Is it a broken promise? Is it in your budget? Are you spending that money this year?

Hon Mr Eves: The money for last year, the $40 million, was not spent. She knows that. That's the answer to that part of the question.

The reality is that we did make a commitment in the budget that was introduced on Tuesday to introduce a new $40-million child tax credit. We also made a commitment to introduce an additional $100 million into a child care tax credit from the national child benefit moneys when that is changed. We are going to deliver on that commitment.

I think it's important to note that in 1985 the province of Ontario was spending about $87 million a year in child care, and in the fiscal year 1997-98 we're going to be spending about $600 million in child care.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources and the minister responsible for the Niagara Escarpment. One of the most troubling environmental issues is the decision by United Aggregates quarry near Acton to expand their quarry on the Niagara Escarpment. What's interesting is that the courts ruled they couldn't expand this quarry without a permit, and despite the court ruling, the company went ahead and expanded their quarry anyway. In other words, they broke the law.

Your government came along after they broke the law and you changed the law to overturn the court decision. You actually changed the law despite the fact that this company had broken the law.

Now we learn that the chief operating officer of United Aggregates is saying publicly that company officials had a meeting with the government on March 25, 1996, barely a week after the Court of Appeal decision. At this meeting with the then Minister of Environment, Brenda Elliott, were senior officials from MNR and MOEE who basically said, "Go ahead and break the law." Minister, did you know about --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): The leader of the third party knows full well that I can't comment on a case that's in the courts right now.

Mr Hampton: The trial of United Aggregates on charges of breaking the law with its quarry expansion has been postponed to allow time for Brenda Elliott to come forward and testify about her involvement in this scheme to break the law.

What makes this especially serious is the government's astonishing decision in March to take protection of the escarpment away from the environment ministry and put this responsibility in your hands. We need to know how you intend to carry out this responsibility.

We know that United Aggregates Ltd gave a fair amount of money to the Progressive Conservative Party before the election. We know that after the election they broke the law, and your government didn't do anything about it other than to change the law to allow them, a company that was already breaking the law, to go on doing what they were doing.

I want to ask you, Minister -- you're now the person in charge -- what are you going to do to protect the Niagara Escarpment? What are you going to do to protect an area of land that --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The leader of the third party knows, even by his own question, that this particular incident is still before the courts and I can't comment on it.

I can tell you in general that the reason the Niagara Escarpment was moved to the Ministry of Natural Resources is an internal administrative change. The Ministry of Natural Resources has stewardship and control over all our provincial parks system, all the protected areas, and it makes sense for the Niagara Escarpment to be placed in a ministry that's responsible for protecting those things that are nature's best. We've taken it over. We will give it good stewardship and good management. The act itself will not change. The plan itself will not change. It's an administrative change that makes sense to anyone who looks at it in an objective manner.


Mr Hampton: This story gets more incredible all the time. We've got a company here that before the election gave a fair amount of money to the Conservative Party. After the election they break the law with respect to a world biosphere reserve. We're now told by the chief executive officer of the company that they actually had a meeting with the then Minister of Environment, who said, "Go ahead, break the law." MNR and MOEE officials were at that meeting. This minister, when we ask him what he's going to do to protect the environment, stands up and gives us platitudes.

Here's your own record, Minister. This is what the Environmental Commissioner has to say: "With budget and staff cuts announced in 1996, it is questionable whether MNR will be able to adequately audit and enforce the law.... The ministry is reducing its responsibility for environmental protection, without giving the public enough information" as to the cumulative environmental effects. "The ministry did not respond to some requests for information, and generally took longer than other ministries when it did respond. The ministry failed to cooperate with my process review."

It goes on. Temagami: "Contrary to" the comprehensive planning "council recommendations, the ministry will permit mining and logging in some headwater areas of Lady Evelyn Lake. The minister's decision allows mining in the Temagami area for the first time in 24 years."

It goes on. Minister, what are you going to do to protect the environment?

Hon Mr Hodgson: He's throwing in everything but the kitchen sink on this one. He's all over the map. He knows full well that I can't comment on this particular case because it's before the courts.

He can carry on with all the innuendo and conspiracy theories that he can dream up, but I can tell you one thing. On an objective measure, the World Wildlife Fund in its annual report card, which gave you a D when you were Minister of Natural Resources, has upgraded Ontario's rating to a C- under our leadership, because it recognizes there's some vision being shown and real results that protect our natural resources and the environment. Your platitudes when you were a minister -- you were out cutting ribbons and not doing the regulations, the hard work that's required.

The Environmental Commissioner's report in large part dealt with the aggregate production industry. What we did there was that we built upon a pilot project, initiated under Howard Hampton as Minister of Natural Resources, to regulate the aggregate industry. We looked at that pilot project, and to your credit it was a good one, and we made the changes in law so that was in effect province-wide.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. As you know, the environment is a very important issue in my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay, so it was with great interest that I listened to the finance minister on Tuesday speak of how your ministry is going to be investing $200 in a program to assist municipalities with environmental works -- $200 million. I've already had some inquiries in my riding about this. I wonder if you could provide me with further information on how this program would be implemented.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I thought I heard the member say $200. I think he's a little bit out. It's $200 million that his friend the Treasurer, who is now sitting beside him, has given to the Ministry of Environment to spend on upgrading water and sewage infrastructure across this province. This demonstrates our commitment to the Who Does What process, to assist municipalities in the transition to the full responsibility for the financing and operation of water and sewer services.

This assistance will help ensure that Ontario's communities can provide high-quality drinking water. The grant program will target municipalities facing immediate public health and environmental risk and we will be working with the provincial-municipal transition team to put this program in place.

Mr Grimmett: On May 1, 1997, the federal and provincial governments signed the new Canada-Ontario infrastructure works II program agreement. A portion of the program will fund water and sewer projects identified by municipalities. I'd like to ask the minister if this money is included in the $200 million announced on Tuesday.

Hon Mr Sterling: I think it's important to get this point clear: The federal and provincial infrastructure program with regard to water and sewage infrastructure will be in addition to the $200 million.

I want to say to those people who would like to look at our particular budget that this will appear in the budget figures of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, but that money will be going to water and sewage matters. In fact, he's got over $100 million, and I know a very large portion of that will be going to water and sewage. He's assured me of that.

This is yet another initiative of this government that is beneficial to both the environment and the municipalities, and it is in addition to our other commitments to the Ministry of Environment.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Northerners are still steaming that the only new tax announced in Tuesday's budget was one levied on the north. They're angry that the new Harris northern vehicle registration tax will take effect on September 1, 1997.

This morning I checked gas prices on Front Street in Toronto and the price was 55.7 cents per litre. I checked on another Front Street, this one in Hearst, where you'll be going this weekend, and gas prices were 66.9 cents per litre. Other governments have recognized the higher prices by giving northerners a break on vehicle registration fees. Not Mike Harris. Mike Harris recognizes the difference by imposing a new tax.

Will you confirm today that it will cost northerners $115 million --

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

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): Coming from a member of the official opposition who, when they were in government, had this fee for northerners -- we've reinstated it.


Hon Mr Hodgson: I can see the NDP's concern. They were the ones who reduced it to zero for the north and hiked it up in other places.

This issue is about fairness. The north will still get a 50% reduction on what's paid in southern Ontario, and that's to recognize the fact that gasoline costs more. To say that it's $150 million is just not true; it's substantially less than that. In fact, our reinvestment on northern highways is more than double or is significantly more than we're going to collect on this fee that northerners will have to pay again, like they did under the Liberal government from 1985 to 1989 in this province.

Mr Bartolucci: I challenge the minister on his fact that it's not true. If we use your figures multiplied by your new tax of $37, and multiply that by five years -- the Minister of Education can figure out a simple number sentence; if you can't, get help from the finance minister; he's good at number stories -- it works out to $115 million. It's a new tax.

I have confirmation today that the vehicle registration offices in the north have been advised not to renew licences for more than one year. As the voice for the north, can you tell us today, why was such a policy made, do you agree with the policy, and were you consulted by the Minister of Transportation before this decision was made?

Hon Mr Hodgson: Let's just use the member of the opposition's math on this. He says it's going to cost $150 million over five years.

Mr Bartolucci: I said $115 million.

Hon Mr Hodgson: Or $115 million. We've promised to reinvest, on top of the base budget, $200 million over that same period of time to improve the road structure in northern Ontario. If you ask any reeve, any northerner, they tell you that one of the top priorities for northern Ontario is improved roads.

Let me go through what happened when they reduced this fee to zero for northern Ontario only. They reduced the amount of money spent on northern roads by more than that.


Hon Mr Hodgson: They agree. In 1992-93 --


The Speaker: Order.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Point of order, Speaker.

The Speaker: Well, I need order. I've got to get order first.

I believe the member for Lake Nipigon has a point of order.

Mr Pouliot: The 1993-94 capital, $208 million, Northern Development and Mines. Your projected this year, your budget, $193 million.

The Speaker: I know you're going to be surprised, but that's not a point of order. Now the response, Minister.

Hon Mr Hodgson: That was a very informative point of order from the member of the third party on his total capital budget, but on highways in the year 1993-94 he spent $122 million, and on highways he spent $115 million. We are investing $200 million above the base budget for highways in northern Ontario, far in excess of your numbers or your numbers, and that's to make roads safer right across northern Ontario because of the neglect that went on for 12 years.

Mr Bartolucci: I'm certainly dissatisfied with that answer and I'd like a late show. We can call it an extra math class.

The Speaker: You can file the applicable papers and I'll be happy to make sure you get your late show.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Finance. This is a sentence from your budget speech on Tuesday: "If the federal government were prepared to provide first nations people in Ontario with the same level of funding it provides in the rest of Canada, annual funding to first nations people in Ontario would increase by about $145 million." For some reason, you left this out of the speech you gave in the House. It's in the printed speech, on page 34, but you left it out of your oral speech here in the House and I wonder why you left it out.

I agree with you. The federal Liberal government has cut funding to first nations in Ontario by $145 million, but then I read in your budget that you've cut the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat funding in half. In one year, you're taking it from $18 million to $9 million. Is that the reason why you left it out, Minister, because while you wanted to dump on the federal Liberals, and I agree they've underfunded first nations in Ontario, you realized that you've done the same thing? Is that the reason?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I think the minister responsible for native affairs is capable of answering the question.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The $18 million for 1996-97 included a one-time payment of $6 million to the mercury disability fund which was for payments to members of the Grassy Narrows and the Wabaseemong first nations who have been affected by mercury poisoning. In addition, there was a $1.5-million payment to the Mississauga Number 8 First Nation, the final instalment of its northern boundary land claim. When you remove these items from the line-by-line estimates you find out that the number that we come to is exactly the number that we announced last year in the business plan for the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat, so I'd suggest that the member get his facts right before he asks the question.

Mr Hampton: We have an interesting example of how this government works. The Attorney General has to explain why the Minister of Finance leaves something out of his speech, and the Attorney General explained nothing by his answer.

Let me try again. Is it because of your government's sensitivity over the Dudley George issue at Ipperwash? Is it because your government is worried about the criticism the Premier has received over his role leading up to the death of Dudley George? Even the Toronto Sun is calling for a public inquiry so that all the information can come out properly instead of being leaked out one week at a time.

Apparently the Premier doesn't want that public inquiry. Is that why you left that out of your speech? Is that why it appears in the printed speech but you left it out in your speech given here, because you don't want to draw any attention to your government's dismal record with respect to first nations? Is that why?

Hon Mr Harnick: I will refer that back to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: I say to the honourable member quite directly that those thoughts never crossed my mind. I left about three to five pages of disagreements between the province of Ontario and the federal government in the printed text out of my budget speech.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): He didn't.

Hon Mr Eves: I might say to the honourable member sitting behind the member for Beaches-Woodbine that the speech I have in my printed text does not have to be the same thing as this. The speech you deliver in the House is not a verbatim, word-for-word reading of the budget. I trust you can read over there.

To the honourable member and the leader of the third party, I left out about three to five pages of disagreements about things the province of Ontario has asked the federal government for because of the hooting and hollering and screaming and yelling, obviously a nerve I had touched in the official opposition.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Attorney General. I notice in the media this week that there is some confusion on the part of the mayor of North York, who believes the province is going to collect the double-fines money from provincial offences while the municipalities will have to handle the headaches. What we would like to know from the minister is how he can clarify so that the province is receiving part of the double-fines money levy and clear up the confusion in the mind of the mayor of North York about this issue.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The facts in this issue are really quite simple. By virtue of Bill 108, the Streamlining of Administration of Provincial Offences Act, net revenues for these infractions will go to municipalities. The province will continue to receive the existing 15% surcharge that is levied on fines and deposited directly into the victims' justice fund. This fund, as everyone is aware, is used for programs and services to victims of crime. Provincial Offences Act infractions generate significant net revenue even after all municipal and provincial costs are covered. They will continue, pursuant to Bill 108, to be paid to municipalities which enter into agreements with the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Mr Hastings: Could the Attorney General outline to us why the municipalities are so concerned over this matter when in fact many of them, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, came before the committee in support of this bill in the first place? Could you clarify that factor as well?

Hon Mr Harnick: As you know, Bill 108 will be coming forward for third reading very shortly. During committee hearings, many municipalities said they appreciate the province's recognition that local matters are best dealt with at the local level. They support the creation of new revenue sources which can be spent on further improving local services to their taxpayers even after the costs of this new responsibility are taken into account.

The government believes that municipal governments are responsible and capable of taking care of these important justice responsibilities. Municipalities have said they are capable of effectively carrying out these responsibilities with no reduction in services to the taxpayers who are accessing the services.

I am confident that all members of this Legislature will support Bill 108 in order to ensure that municipalities can increase their revenues. I think this is a very good thing for municipalities.



Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a question for the Minister of Finance. As you're aware, St Joseph's General Hospital in Elliot Lake is undergoing a reorganization. In that reorganization the hospital is moving from the Sisters of St Joseph of Sault Ste Marie to a not-for-profit, without-share-capital corporation.

Your ministry has said that it will impose a retail sales tax on the transfer of non-medical hospital equipment in the hospital. That will cost tens of thousands of dollars for purely a technical transfer. Your ministry has already confirmed that it wishes to do that. Minister, why would you take tens of thousands of dollars from the patients of Elliot Lake?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): To the honourable member, I am unaware of the situation he just described. However, if that is in fact what the ministry is saying, I disagree and I will see that the matter is looked into and that they do not have to pay the retail sales tax.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, third party.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Health --


The Speaker: Order. I know there's heckling, but you agreed on that, I think.

New question, third party.

Mrs Boyd: My question is to the Minister of Health. I'm hoping that you'll clarify the response that you gave to the member for Elgin last week on May 1. He asked you, "Minister: Is it your plan to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital?" Hansard, on page 9822 for that date, records your answer as no. You then go on to justify why the closure has been recommended by the restructuring commission. The restructuring commission, as you know, has very clearly said that it does not have the authority or the mandate under Bill 26 to close Ontario's psychiatric hospitals, that only you can make it so.

Minister, are you going to close any additional psychiatric hospitals in this province -- you've already closed it in Thunder Bay -- and, in particular, are you going to close both the London and St Thomas hospitals as suggested by the restructuring commission?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): This government will be guided by the arm's-length Health Services Restructuring Commission, whether that be a directive from the commission or in the form of advice from the commission. I personally don't call it a hospital closure when the forensic beds are being preserved, 65 beds being preserved. The decision the commission will make with all the input it's receiving from the community right now is whether those beds will go on the site of the St Thomas hospital now or whether they'll go up at the general hospital site, and what the form of governance will be.

The important thing is not to count a building in St Thomas which is decades old and decades overdue -- and only 38% of its space was actually being used -- for a conversion or renovation or modernization. I call it a modernization. What I see the commission doing makes sense so far and we'll have to see what their final directive is, or advice to the government.

Mrs Boyd: In the same question and answer you seem to indicate that the justification for your ministry's suggesting that those forensic patients -- and I remind you, for forensic patients the issue is security, safety for those patients, for the community -- be moved into a general hospital, which already has a long-term-care wing and is the care centre for the St Thomas area, was, first of all, that they would be able to share a kitchen and that would cost less and, second, that there wouldn't have to be additional governance. But the restructuring commission, if you've read the report, clearly put the governance of that suggested forensic facility in St Thomas under the auspices of the St Joseph Health Centre, which is taking on, under its recommendation, all the other mental health responsibilities in the London-St Thomas area.

Minister, would you explain to me why you are supportive of your ministry's suggestion --

The Speaker: Question.

Mrs Boyd: -- that forensic beds go into a public general hospital, given that your explanations don't hold water, except that they might --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: Any savings derived from this will be fully reinvested, and more, back into the system. Let's see what the Canadian Mental Health Association, London branch, has said about the interim directive so far from the commission.

Michael Petrenko, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, says, "This is a tremendous proposal for consumers of mental health services." He praises the plan to take functions now centralized in the London and St Thomas psychiatric hospitals and move them to municipalities stretching from Windsor to Waterloo. "This has created a new environment where people and their support structures, family, friends and support workers are in their own communities."

We're not losing any beds, as previous governments did, and I think all three political stripes were guilty in the 1970s and 1980s of closing beds and not having the community services in place. What we're doing, as the commission is saying, is moving some of these beds back to where the people actually live and where their families are, back to Waterloo, back to London and to other parts of the province, and consolidating forensic services on a site in St Thomas.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): My question is for the Minister of Health as well. As you are aware, on April 1 this year a long-awaited MRI unit arrived at the Oshawa General Hospital. This MRI unit was purchased with funds from the community's Keeping the Pace campaign and matching funds from the Oshawa General Hospital auxiliary.

The delivery of this technology to Oshawa General is a great success for a community effort and for the patients in Oshawa and the region of Durham. The state-of-the-art MRI unit will benefit patients from Oshawa as well as the region of Durham. Minister, in what way is the province assisting the community and patients of Oshawa with the MRI project?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I thank the honourable member from Oshawa for the question. I look forward to joining with him and the total five Blue Jays, who are Jerry Ouellette, Jim Flaherty, John O'Toole, Janet Ecker and Julia Munro. The five MPPs, affectionately known locally as the five Blue Jays, will all be together on Monday to celebrate the opening of the MRI.

The Oshawa General magnetic resonance imaging machine brings on line a total now of 23 new MRIs, for a total of 35. That's more MRI units for the province of Ontario than all of the other provinces and territories in Canada. The people of Ontario are benefiting from reinvestment, the people of Oshawa are benefiting from our reinvestment plan. We're going to have in Oshawa an absolutely modern hospital with the newest technologies and the newest therapies. MRI is the latest addition to modernizing that hospital. Congratulations to the local members.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition here that was forwarded to me by David and Jean McLay of 97 Beverley Street in Kingston. It's a petition addressed to the Legislature of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned, request that the Legislature of Ontario not approve any tax cuts until the causes of poverty and unemployment in Ontario are dealt with effectively and until the province's debt and deficit are paid down."

I affix my signature to same.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I present a petition to the Legislative Assembly concerning drinking and driving.

"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 A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

This is signed by people from the town of Wawa.



Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition. It's headlined: "Speed, experience and teamwork save lives. Don't get burned by Bill 84." It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

That's signed by hundreds of petitioners and I add my signature. I join with them heartily in that petition, sir.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I have a petition:

"Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting firearms and other weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearms smuggling and trafficking and the ban on paramilitary weapons; and

"Whereas existing laws requiring the registration of handguns have done little to reduce the number of crimes committed with handguns or lower the volume of handguns smuggled into Canada; and

"Whereas the national gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will result in a massive misallocation of the limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic of illegal firearms or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will take police officers off the streets and involve them in bureaucracy other than fighting crime and will make the task of real gun control more difficult and dangerous for police officers;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the province of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."


Mr Peter North (Elgin): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my signature thereto.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"To the Honourable John Snobelen, Minister of Education and Training, and to the members of the Ontario Legislature:

"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 affix my signature in agreement with this.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded by Charlie Goode, chairperson of Local 707, retiree, CAW in Oakville, in support of the Ontario Nurses' Association. The petition reads as follows:

"A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

I add my name to theirs in support of this petition.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I have another set of petitions from legal owners and users of firearms who are concerned about ammunition regulations.

"Whereas the NDP government under former Premier Bob Rae passed legislation, Bill 181, the Ammunition Regulation Act, placing restrictions on the sale of ammunition in Ontario; and

"Whereas the provisions contained in Bill 181 are time-consuming, onerous and create unnecessary red tape; and

"Whereas the records for which these provisions have been produced do not track criminals; and

"Whereas Bill 181 was passed in only one day, without any discussion with law-abiding gun owners such as farmers, collectors, hunters and recreational shooters, who understand and have a deep respect for the power of firearms and ammunition and the need to maintain and use their equipment in the safest of conditions; and

"Whereas Bill 181 will do nothing to combat the illegal use of ammunition;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to repeal Bill 181, protect the rights of responsible firearms owners and work for tougher penalties against weapons offences."

I sign this petition.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I've got a hospital petition. It says, "Save Northwestern Hospital."

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas during the 1995 provincial election campaign, Mike Harris promised he would not close hospitals; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris hospital closing commission has ordered the closing of 10 hospitals in Metro Toronto alone; and

"Whereas closing community hospitals like Northwestern General Hospital and creating more costly mega-hospitals will greatly diminish the quality of health care while increasing costs;

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

"That Mike Harris keep his campaign promise not to close hospitals and keep community hospitals open across Ontario as he promised."

I'll affix my name to this petition.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here signed by a number of citizens from the city of Timmins, started by Gilles Racicot, and it reads as follows:

"A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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

I support that petition and will sign it.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The campaign to save TVOntario continues and we received thousands more signatures today in terms of that petition campaign. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas TVOntario has been providing Ontarians of all ages with high-quality educational programs and services delivered through television and other media for 25 years;

"Whereas TVOntario provides universal access to educational broadcasting in the most effective way possible;

"Whereas TVOntario provides essential broadcast services to communities in northern Ontario;

"Whereas TVOntario has an extensive community-based advisory network spanning the province;

"Whereas TVOntario is committed to increasing net self-generated revenues by 15% every year;

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

"To formally commit to the province's continued support of TVOntario as a publicly owned educational network."

I'm proud to sign my name to that petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me from Wayne Marston, president of the Hamilton and District Labour Council. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has begun a process to fundamentally alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations with the release of the discussion paper A Review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Whereas these changes threaten to deregulate the health and safety protection for workers and reduce or eliminate the rights of workers and joint health and safety committees; and

"Whereas the ministry intentionally organized meetings in a manner which allowed only marginal opportunity for workers to discuss with the ministry the issues raised in the discussion paper; and

"Whereas workers deserve a full opportunity to be heard regarding the proposals that threaten the legislated provisions that provide them with protection from workplace injury, illness and death;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose the deregulation of workplace health and safety and any erosion of the protection provided workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that province-wide public hearings be held once any amendments to the act are introduced."

I add my name to these Hamiltonians' names.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This is a petition to the government of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Conservative government of Mike Harris has closed or is closing three out of five hospitals in Thunder Bay and two out of three hospitals in Sudbury and 11 hospitals in Toronto and 30 hospitals in this province so far; and

"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; and

"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; and

"Whereas the population of Niagara is on average older than that in most areas of 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, as I'm in full and complete agreement with this petition.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition addressed to the Ontario Legislature and to Premier Mike Harris, Minister Bob Runciman and members of the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative government have confirmed the building of a judicial structure in Cornwall; and

"Whereas Cornwall has approximately 40% of its citizens on some sort of social assistance; and

"Whereas Stats Canada has released an unemployment figure for Cornwall of 20.6%; and

"Whereas Cornwall stands to lose an additional 40 jobs and $1.6 million in disposable income if the Cornwall Jail is closed,

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to include construction of a new jail to be attached to the new judicial building."

Unemployment at 20.6% and 40% of its citizens on some form of social assistance: That's the status in Cornwall. I agree with these petitioners. I prevail upon this government to please listen.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: As my request for a late show is not convenient to everyone connected, I would ask for unanimous consent for it to be moved to next week.

The Speaker: Do you have a day?

Mr Bartolucci: Tuesday.

The Speaker: Tuesday's fine? Unanimous consent to move the late show to Tuesday? No. We have a no.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Cochrane South has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his questions given by the Minister of Transportation concerning highway maintenance contracts. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Sudbury has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his questions given by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines concerning vehicle registration. This matter will be debated today at 6:10 pm.



Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 108, An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration.

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

Shall Bill 108 be ordered for third reading? Agreed?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Hold on for a second, Mr Speaker. I just want to think about this, because I just heard the government not agree to something we asked. I'm just wondering whether I should do this or not.

The Speaker: If I don't have unanimous consent, it will have to be ordered for committee of the whole House.

Shall Bill 108 be ordered for third reading? Agreed? No.

The bill is therefore ordered for committee of the whole House.


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I beg leave to present an interim report from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Does the member wish to make a brief comment?

Mr Fox: I'm very pleased to announce that after a long-drawn-out procedure of filibustering, we are now moving along quite well.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member gets away with, in presenting this, making a political statement. I want to tell you that the government rammed this through with no opposition members there to be able to deal with this matter. They immediately rammed it through. They put it through without any opposition input on that last day, through skulduggery, I think is the word I want.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I think it has to be pointed out, as was discussed with the opposition House leaders, that their failure to have members in attendance caused one of the committees last week to be cancelled for the whole day. It was the same --

The Speaker: Look, none of these points of order are in order. With the greatest of respect, to the member for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings, the brief comments were somewhat off topic and not direct. I would allow one response for the member for St Catharines. I don't want to get too far into this, because none of these points of order is in fact in order.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On the same point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: It isn't in order. I realize we're getting into a morass that we're getting deeper and deeper in. I probably should have called the member for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings to order. I didn't. I will remember in the future to do that. I'm sorry.



Mr Ouellette moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 130, An act to amend the Courts of Justice Act and the Ministry of Correctional Services Act / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les tribunaux judiciaires et la Loi sur le ministère des Services correctionnels.

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

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

Are there any statements from the member for Oshawa?

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): The bill requires the Chief Judge of the Provincial Division to establish a program of performance evaluation for provincial judges and requires the Judicial Council to review and approve the program. At present the Chief Judge and Judicial Council have the discretion whether to take those measures. The Chief Judge is required to refer each performance evaluation of a provincial judge to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly. The committee is required to review each performance evaluation and to recommend to the Attorney General that the judge be removed from office if it is of the opinion, based on the judge's evaluation, that the judge has failed to perform the duties of the office.

As well, if the board of parole conducts a hearing to determine whether an inmate --

The Speaker: Member for Oshawa, when I ask for just some brief comments, they're generally brief. Thank you for your input though.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: You may not be able to help me with this, but I'm looking behind you. I had understood that we would have a reading of the business of the House for next week at this point in time, and I'm wondering whether that is forthcoming, whether there's a minister who has it.

The Speaker: That can come at any time during the day. It may be forthcoming. I really can't help you on that.




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

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Mr Speaker, I'm asking for unanimous consent to share the time with the member for Lake Nipigon and other members of the caucus.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): You can't do that. You have to tell me whom you're sharing it with.

Mr Hampton: The member for Lake Nipigon, the member for Sault Ste Marie and the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent for that? Agreed.

Mr Hampton: I'm pleased to be able to spend some time speaking about the second Bre-X document the people of Ontario will have seen in a very short time. As you know, the first Bre-X document and the first Bre-X spin was put out by a mining company that tried to convince people there was a lot of gold and that people should buy shares and buy the spin and everything would turn out fine.

The second Bre-X document is this government's budget. This government says to people across this province, "Buy the spin, listen to the television propaganda, listen to the $8 million in television advertising that this government used taxpayers' money to pay for, but don't pay any attention to the reality of what is happening in your community." That's what this budget was all about. This budget announced several things that have been announced in the past and have never been implemented, never been acted on, but it reannounced them in an attempt to create this positive spin.

What I want to focus on today for people all across this province is the reality of what's happening in their community with increased property taxes. This government has downloaded on to municipalities the reality of a health care system that is starting to suffer from holes and cracks in it; the reality of school classrooms that are being starved and where people are using textbooks that are held together by plastic bands; the reality that despite the fact that this government promised 725,000 new jobs in the Common Sense revolution, there are more unemployed people in Ontario today than were unemployed when this government took office; the reality that youth unemployment is a huge problem. Youth unemployment officially is approaching 20% and the real rate of youth unemployment in this province is over 30% since this government took office.

I want to contrast the Bre-X spin this government tries to put on everything with the reality of what is happening in people's communities. Let me first talk about the issue of jobs, the fact that 515,000 people in this province are out of work, the fact that 16,000 more people in the province are unemployed today than were unemployed when the government took office, the fact that there are 100,000 more unemployed young people in this province that were unemployed when this government took office.

The fact of the matter is that this government's policies, this government's budgetary policies, this government's taxation policies, are resulting in people who are already wealthy becoming far more wealthy; but middle-income families, working families, are not only worse off in terms of their income situations, they are seeing fewer and fewer job opportunities for members of their families and for people living in their communities. That 's the reality.

Even people who are getting jobs -- because this government has slashed good jobs in the public sector, in hospitals and in health care facilities, in the education sector, in terms of environmental protection and environmental sustainability, what people are seeing in their communities is good jobs, well-paying jobs disappearing. The only jobs this government is responsible for creating are what are commonly being called McJobs: jobs that pay very low salaries, jobs that have no pension, no benefits attached, no job security.

We are seeing this government systematically do away with the kinds of good-quality jobs that most western democracies are trying to create. The only outcomes of this government's attack on those jobs are first of all more unemployment, more people unemployed; and second, the kinds of jobs that are being created as a result of this government's policies are the McJobs. Once again the government continues to spin its story. I simply say to people across Ontario, look at the government spin and then look at the reality in your community.

Look at the nurses who provided good-quality health care in the past who are being thrown out on the street to face a future of unemployment as a result of this government's policies. Look at the health care workers who are being pushed out on the street, losing their jobs, when they should be providing the kinds of health care services that people in this province want and need and deserve.

Look at the reality that's happening in education. This government has systematically put in place budgetary policies which are resulting in teachers losing their jobs, resulting overwhelmingly in teachers' assistants and teachers' aides losing their jobs when the need in our classrooms is greater than ever.

Look at the reality among young people, and here we've had a classic attempt by the government to spin a story. They put out press releases earlier this spring saying they were going to make summer employment for young people and employment of young people a priority, and they announced a couple of programs -- $2 million here, $3 million, a little bit over here -- but anyone who looks at the reality -- go back; cast your eyes back three years ago. The budget devoted to the development of jobs, whether summer or full-time jobs for young people, is $20 million less than it was three years ago. That's the reality. Compare it to the government's spin -- $20 million less devoted to summer employment for young people. Compare the government's spin, compare the financial reality and the jobs reality: The message to young people is that this government is prepared to allow more and more young people to fall into unemployment. That's the reality.

I want to talk about the reality gap in the government's fiscal plan, because we've seen some incredible massaging of the numbers there. What this government has done, and it's done it systematically for three years now, in the year that they are in they underestimate their tax revenue, which allows them then to overestimate the size of the deficit. At the end of the year when the tax revenues come in they go out and say to people, "We've done a wonderful job," but it's nothing more than cooking the books. The government systematically underestimates its tax revenue. It allows them to overestimate the size of the deficit. At the end of the year, the tax revenue that the federal government knows is going to come in and any economist in the province knows is going to come in, when that tax revenue comes in, the government claims a victory.

What they're also doing is they are underestimating tax revenue so much that they're even kicking some of it over into the succeeding year. That gives them the opportunity to cook the books for the next year as well, to cook not only the deficit number but to cook at the end of the year how much money was received. So at the end of the fiscal just past, the government came forward and said, "The deficit is $700 million lower than we thought it was going to be." But if you look, if you read the fine print, they actually took $745 million of tax revenue that was underestimated for the previous fiscal year, that is for the fiscal year 1995-96, and entered it into the calculations for 1996-97.

The only reason the government can put on a show, and I use the word "show" deliberately, that says the deficit is $700 million less that expected is because they took $745 million in tax revenue from the last fiscal year and pushed it into fiscal year 1996-97. What it means is that in fact the deficit was actually lower than they stated in 1995-96, and the deficit was lower than they stated in 1994-95.


I invite people across the province to get a copy of the numbers and follow them year to year. You will see the extent to which there is a huge gap between the fiscal pronouncements of this government in terms of deficit and tax revenue and what is really happening there.

I give them credit. I give them credit for great spin. I give them credit for lining up those public relations people out there who tell them, "This is how you run the line, and this is how you run the line again and again, to get the media to buy into it." But I invite anybody to look at the numbers. This government overestimated the deficit in 1994-95, they transferred revenue from 1994-95 into 1995-96 and they transferred revenue from 1995-96 into 1996-97. They're doing it again this year. We estimate, in looking at this budget, that they have underestimated their tax revenue for fiscal year 1996-97 by at least $100 million right off the top. Not only that, but they have underestimated -- they're in complete contrast with the federal government -- how much some of that revenue pool is going to grow.

Once again they are adjusting the books to try to make themselves look better in 1997-98. I give you credit for the spin. But I invite people to look at the reality and how these numbers are being cooked.

I want to look at something else that people all across the province ought to be very concerned about: the health care gap. We've seen examples of it here in the Legislature for the last two days. The government is trying to spin a story that it is spending more money on patient care than ever before. They're trying to spin a story that, "Gee, $18.3 billion is being spent on patient care." Even the Ontario Medical Association, which I admit is more friendly towards the government than they've ever been towards us as New Democrats, says the government is full of baloney. In fact, the head of the Ontario Medical Association in their press release today was very clear; he said, "Ontario Budget Misleading on Health Care Spending."

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Pretty strong words.

Mr Hampton: Very strong words.

If I can quote, it says very clearly, "The Ontario government's claim that yesterday's budget puts more money into health care is misleading, and it does not address current problems caused by cuts in previous years, said Ontario Medical Association President Dr Gerry Rowland.

"`There has been no tangible increase in health care spending for 1997-98 despite the increasing health care needs of the population. I see nothing in this budget to reassure patients that access to care will be any better this year.'"

Then he points out what the government is really doing. The fact of the matter is, it will cost this government money to close hospitals. The fact of the matter is, if you're going to throw 10,000 nurses and health care workers out in the street, they are due severance pay; under law, they are due severance pay. The Minister of Health is trying to tell people across this province that the money that will legally have to go to pay those nurses and health care workers severance pay and the money that will have to be spent to close those hospitals is patient care money.

The Ontario Medical Association has just said very clearly to the Minister of Health, "Stop misleading the people of Ontario." He said very clearly, "For the 1997-98 fiscal year the Ministry of Health operating expenditures will be $17.845 billion, just $1 million more than last year. A one-time expenditure for health care restructuring totals $450 million for 1997-98." He says that is not for patient care.

Then he goes on to say that the $1 million more that is in the Ministry of Health budget operating expenditures this year over last year is the $1 million that the Ministry of Health spent on those cynical TV ads telling people across the province, "Oh, health care is in wonderful shape," despite the fact that people can't get into emergency wards, despite the fact that people are dying in corridors in hospitals, despite the fact that children who go to Sick Kids Hospital for cancer treatment are told, "Go home, there aren't enough nurses on duty today to supervise those cancer treatments."

What cynical use of Ministry of Health operating budget dollars, to spin a story that people know from their own experience in their own community, in their own hospital, in their own health care centre is false. I'm glad the Ontario Medical Association has called the government.

What's incredible here is this: I bet this is the first time ever in the history of health care anywhere that a government has tried to come forward and count money that is being used to close hospitals and push nurses and health care workers out in the street and paint that as money devoted to patient care. How cynical. How absurd.

Again, it's the reality gap. This government spins a story in the media. I invite people to look at the real figures, the reality of what's happening in their own community. They will find that, just like the Bre-X prospectus, the story that was told to investors in this province and around the world is totally at odds with the reality. That is obviously the case here.

But it goes on: the reality gap for children. We saw an example of that. Last year this government had the gall to come into this Legislature in their 1996-97 budget speech and the Minister of Finance got up and said, "This government cares about children." He announced $40 million for new child care and he announced that it would be $200 million spread over five years.

The $40 million was not spent last year. It was not spent. The government said one thing and did another to children. They announced that children mattered, and then they would not put any of that funding forward to help children -- $40 million.

They came in and tried to retread the announcement this year. The Minister of Finance stands up and says, "Well, $40 million is going to go into child care this year, into a child care tax credit." But look at the fine print. If it's a child tax credit, it means that people will have to incur the expense this year; they won't get reimbursed until 1998. In other words, they're trying to announce here money that's not going to get spent until 1998. They didn't even talk about the further $40 million that is due this year.

So they're out $40 million from last year and $80 million from this year. They're out, overall now, the $40 million that was to be spent last year and the $80 million that was to be spent this year on children; $120 million is the gap already with respect to children. The government says one thing, that they care about children, "Here's the money to show it," and then it disappears. A reality gap with respect to children of $120 million already.

But it gets bigger, because we asked questions in this Legislature today about, "When's the money going to come in year three and year four and year five?" What we heard today was that fine, grating noise of a skate blade hitting the ice. That's what we heard today in this House as the Minister of Finance skated to the left, skated to the right, anything to avoid the reality gap this government has with respect to children, anything to skate away from that reality gap with respect to children.

Then there's the national child benefit. The national child benefit is supposed to be aimed at children in this country who are in the worst of situations. It's supposed to help raise children who are living in poverty into a somewhat better position in life, to give them a better chance. How is this government going to use it? This government is going to use it in a very cynical way again, and it simply adds to the reality gap. This government, instead of ensuring that money goes into the hands of children who are worse off, is going to use that for a tax credit for child care as well. The reality is, however, that that tax credit does nothing to improve the lot of those children who are worse off.


Take the example of someone who is on social assistance. In order to get that tax credit, they would have to advance the money out of their own pocket to get the child care. But this government has already put those parents, many of them single parents, in such a disastrous position that they don't have any free cash. In fact, many past the 23rd or 24th day of each month don't even have money to put food on the table. They have to go to a food bank to get food to feed their children, so where are they going to get the money to pay for child care? They can't, and because they can't, they will never have access to this program, they will never be able to upfront the money to get the tax credit in 1998. Incredibly cynical.

This is just absurd. What an absurd use of the national child benefit. I hope the federal government, when they see this scheme, says, "No, we can't go along with this." My fear, however, is that the federal Liberal government has bought into just the kinds of schemes that this government is trying to perpetrate here. That's my fear. If the federal Liberal government has an ounce of decency left, they will simply look at this scheme and say: "No, it's not on. This would be a misuse of the national child benefit." My fear, however, is that they have bought into this kind of cynical, nefarious scheme.

At the end of the day, if you look at almost everything the Minister of Finance said yesterday -- the $40-million scenario for child care and the use of the national child benefit or the misuse of the national child benefit in Ontario -- it means that for children receiving social assistance in Ontario the net gain of all of this is zero. I say again, there's the reality gap. The government gives a great speech, makes some wonderful announcements, but for children who are the worst off there is nothing there for them.

I want to talk a bit about education because the reality gap grows there. The government, as we know, has dramatically cut education funding in this province, and we're seeing it in classroom after classroom. We are seeing it with respect to children going to school holding their textbooks together with elastic bands. We are seeing the increasing class sizes that have gone from 31 to 35 to 39 and next year probably over 40. We are seeing it in terms of classrooms where there aren't enough textbooks for children. We are seeing it in classrooms where children with special needs are absolutely left behind.

Because budgets have been cut so severely, children who have a learning disability, children who need additional help in a particular area, are basically being shoved to the back of the class. There is no help there for them. There is no extra time, there are no extra resources. You don't matter: That's the message that is coming out for these children. Teachers' aides are becoming a thing of the past in classrooms across this province, teachers' assistants are becoming a thing of the past in classrooms across this province as a result of this government's funding cuts to education.

We hear the Minister of Finance, we hear the Minister of Education every day spinning his stories. The reality is that children in classroom after classroom are suffering. So what did we hear in the budget announcement? The government tries to reannounce their capital spending for new schools. This is the same capital spending that they held up two years ago. It's the same capital spending that they announced last fall and they tried to spin it in this budget speech as yet another new announcement. It is simply a reannouncement of something that was already announced last fall and the reannouncement of something that this government has been responsible for holding up almost two years now. Again, the reality gap.

The government continues to announce and reannounce something that will do nothing for children in the classroom. The reality that children in the classroom are facing is fewer and fewer resources, less and less attention devoted to them, larger and larger classrooms, textbooks that are more and more out of date. Children who are really in need of additional help are basically being pushed through the cracks, through the holes to the back of the room.

But it gets worse. The government knows that their budget does not allow for the hiring of additional teachers, does not allow for any new teachers to come into the system, which means that the classrooms are going to get larger and larger. In an attempt to spin a story to deal with that, the government says that they want to enter negotiations with Ontario teachers and they want to work out an early retirement program. What they don't say is they want the teachers, through the teachers' pension fund, to finance this early retirement. I have to say this. It's the teachers' pension fund. It's not the Mike Harris pension fund, although Mike Harris has quite a healthy pension fund now. It's not the Ernie Eves, Minister of Finance, pension fund, although he has quite a healthy pension fund now. It's neither of those. This is the teachers' pension fund.

What the government is really proposing to do is to reach into the teachers' pension fund and replace the money that has been cut from the Ministry of Education budget with money out of the teachers' pension fund. That's what this is about: taking money that teachers have put in that fund. They take risk in how it's invested, but now the government wants to reach in there and take it to replace the money that they have cut from the Ministry of Education budget. Once again, the reality gap.

In announcing that they want to take this money out of the teachers' fund, what the government is really doing is acknowledging how badly they have cut the Ministry of Education, how badly they have cut classroom funding across this province, when they have to pilfer from the teachers' pension fund in order to find a way to bring new teachers into the system. That's how desperate the situation is getting out there in education. We saw in this budget speech a recognition, although the government will deny it, of how large that reality gap is growing as a result of their cuts to education.

But it goes on. We just heard today the Attorney General trying to explain away, trying to spin away, a budget cut: half of the budget of the ministry of native affairs. The ministry of native affairs budget has gone from $18 million down to $9 million. I'm well aware of how this government treats first nations people. That's becoming more and more evident every day. But the reality gap once again: This government says to people, "Believe in this government, follow this government, invest in Bre-X and good things will happen."

What's happening to native people? They are seeing people who are among the poorest in this province, who have the highest unemployment rates in this province, who have the most difficult time in terms of finding room for employment in this province, being told by this government, "We're cutting your budget in half."

The Attorney General tried to spin this. He tried to say this is just a onetime thing. He tried to say that the native affairs secretariat had an $18-million budget as a result of some onetime payments, but simply look at the budget. The ministry's budget has gone from about $14 million to $16 million and then last year to $18 million. That has been the budget of that ministry over the last three years. It's clear there's no onetime payment here. It's clear this government simply decided to go in and to hack away half of the budget for the people who are in the least advantageous position in this province. That is what is happening. Then the Attorney General tries to get up and spin us a story that that isn't really the case.

We are going to see more and more of these situations over the next weeks as all of this unfolds. The fact of the matter is this government has no plan for health care. The fact of the matter is this government is simply stumbling through the dark on one of the most important services for this province. The reality is, if you want to have a productive economy, you have to have a healthy and productive workforce. If you want to have a healthy and productive workforce, you have to have a good health care system to support and sustain that quality of health in the population.


This government is taking one of the things that people in Ontario hold dearest, that we believe in the most, and, like someone stumbling and bumbling through the dark, is literally levelling that health care system, creating holes and cracks in that health care system with no plan. We are going to illustrate that. Just as the Ontario Medical Association pointed it out in their press release today, we are going to illustrate over and over again how the cracks in our health care system are going to widen. They are going to widen, they are going to deepen and they are going to increase. This government is putting one of the fundamental building blocks of our society at risk in terms of its inept approach to health care.

This government is putting one of the other fundamental building blocks of our society at risk: education. We know that in order to be a productive society, you have to have a well-educated and well-trained society. That will become even more true as we enter into the 21st century, when things like natural resources and geographic location will matter less. What will matter more will be the skills, the training, the education level of your workforce. But this government is prepared to sacrifice that and is sacrificing it. Every day, as we see this government's attacks on education unfold, that reality gap will become more and more evident to people.

I want to conclude now by simply saying to this government and saying to people all across this province, we will illustrate every day, day in and day out, how much this government's budget, how much this government's agenda is so much like the failed Bre-X fiasco.

The government continues to try to spin stories, but when you look beneath the stories that they try to spin in the media at the reality that is happening in our communities, the reality that's happening in our hospitals, the reality that is happening in our health care centres, the reality that's happening to patients, the reality that's happening to children in schools, the reality about no jobs, the reality about more people being unemployed, the reality about more and more young people being unemployed, the reality that municipal property taxes will have to increase because this government has offloaded some very important pieces of health care -- ambulances, public health -- on to municipalities, the reality that seniors' apartments, seniors' housing, supportive housing, social housing, all of these costs, have been pushed on to municipalities, the reality that this government is abandoning -- I say abandoning -- 3,400 kilometres of provincial roads, forcing them down on to municipalities -- all of these things will mean increases in municipal property taxes.

I say again, we are going to come here day in and day out and we are going to expose this government's reality gap, how much this government is like Bre-X Minerals, how much it spins a story but how painful the underlying health care, educational and social reality is across this province.

Mr Pouliot: I too welcome the opportunity to spend a moment or two with my colleagues to address budget '97. I've tried to decipher, to differentiate between what is the budget document itself -- because this long-awaited address, budget '97, to 11-million-plus Ontarians is the most important document that is tabled in this House.

In a broadly summarized form I will go line by line, in a 20- or 25-minute allocation so we share with our colleagues, and quickly present to you that the devil is in the detail. But you weren't about to notice this when you were here this week, May 6, two days ago, to listen to the budget speech, because we have two documents. This is the spin; this is the good light they wish to put on the budget. This document here is made for spin doctors. It's not made for accountants; it's not made for scrutiny.

You see, once you get to the real figures, accountants get in the way. They tend to slow things down. Members of the Common Sense Revolution have better things to do than to scrutinize the reality of what is the budget, so they come up with a budget speech, which is supposed to address the needs of Ontarians and tell them about their financial future through programs in the year to come, the fiscal year April 1 last to March 31, 1998.

You see, we're in the midst of a federal campaign; the writs have been issued. They just could not resist the seduction, the lure, of taking a shot at the feds.


Mr Pouliot: Mr Speaker, I keep on being interrupted by the member across. By his interruptions he has already told us more than he knows on these matters.

On pages 32 and 33 of the Ontario budget speech it says: "Federal Action Needed on Taxes and Job Creation"; "High EI Payroll Taxes are Killing Jobs"; "Fair Treatment for People in Ontario"; "Federal Cooperation in Improving the Tax System." So they're aiming their guns at the federal government. They know there's an election coming. They also know that their political dog is trailing the field, so they'll do anything to promote the good fortune of the Reform Party by taking a side shot at the federal Liberals under the auspices and the immunity of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. While there is a convenience attached to that methodology, to that style, some critics would see this as barely crass politics of the lowest order that belongs with a cheap circus that's about to leave town, certainly not in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and certainly not when we're talking about the budget.

This is what Mike Harris said three years ago. He was sitting there, where he was more comfortable and it's more his style. He was sitting with the opposition. We were the government and he came up with these gems: "You see, there is only one taxpayer, and that taxpayer is fed up with the old style of politics. They're fed up with the finger-pointing and blaming someone else."

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Who said that?

Mr Pouliot: Mike Harris on May 11, 1994.

Mr Eves points three years later, does the same thing. He keeps on whining. Mike Harris said to Premier Rae then, "So it actually is a disgrace when the Premier of the province of Ontario spends his time whining, pointing fingers, blaming others." What you had last Tuesday is a lament, three pages of a sad litany blaming others, the kind of lament, the kind of whining that is better suited for a tired Albany or Toronto club, but certainly not with pointing the finger when all you have to do is to look at your own books.

Once you get to the budget, the official document, the government wishes to be all things, everything, to all people: that there are no people left out in the cold; there are no people bordering on destitution; there are no people having to cancel medical appointments two or three times; there are no people not getting access to a full and first-class education. Yet when I said the devil is in the details, listen to this. I wish to share this with you. The pain is real. This document tells us about the real Ontario of today, not the Ontario which is seen through Mike Harris's eyes in a circle of the well-to-do, the more fortunate.


The Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation: 1995-96 -- this is actually what they spent; this is real -- $363 million. Their budget has been gutted, has been slashed to $280 million.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy: The budget goes from $239 million, and this fiscal year they'll be spending $150 million. So when you go home, boil your water. Make sure, because there's nobody around to check it.

When we were in office and times were more difficult -- everyone will readily agree and acquiesce to that -- when it came to different ministries, we spent immensely more. This is what you're elected to do, to provide basic care for Ontarians. That's why they pay tax dollars. You have to have the will. But if you're caught with the Common Sense Revolution, process becomes more important than people. Choices have to be made: for some impossible choices; for others, the way they see things and the way people will live things is a completely different indication. It paints a different picture indeed.

The Ministry of Municipal affairs and Housing: Talking about the operating budget -- I'll get to the capital in a second -- $2.02 billion; the year before, $2.421 billion. You're looking at $401 million less. It doesn't auger well for people who require a helping hand. This is out the door. What the government is saying here is, "The problem with the homeless is that they don't have a home." That's what they're saying. What about a chance to get back on your feet, to have that basic necessity which is shelter? You have $401 million less. That's a lot of money, over 20% less money.

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines: If you're a northerner out there -- many of our caucus, many members of the House come from northern Ontario -- if you're not too busy and happen to see us on the parliamentary channel, please listen to this. In 1993-94, difficult years, I remember so vividly, we were representing our constituents then too and we were spending, under difficult conditions, $83 million. This was the operating budget of northern development and mines, the most accessible ministry up north. You were there, not ahead of people, not behind, but with people.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): How much?

Mr Pouliot: It was $83 million. These are good times, the money keeps rolling in and they're down to $41 million.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Good.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): And the Tory members say, "Good."

Mr Pouliot: Oh, that's good. Oh, yes. Big guy. Do it. Push the floor, big guy. We'll deal with you.

Ministry of Transportation: The actual spending in 1995-96 was $1.054 billion. That budget has been decreased for this year to $750 million. You can shout all you want, you can paint a glossy picture, you can make light of what is being said, but these are your own figures: a 30% cut. It's not very complex: the section between the soft shoulder, because their budget is in the ditch here. They're cutting 30% out of the operating budget, which includes transfer payments. If you want some highways, if you wish to have a secondary highway, you build it yourself. You raise the money at the local level. Maybe a bake sale, maybe a little bingo and a car wash on Saturday. Unbelievable.

Then we get to native affairs. You know the plight of our first Canadians. In the great riding of Lake Nipigon, for instance, there are 20 reserves; 10 we refer to as northern reserves and 10 as southern reserves, but all in the confines, all within the geographic location of our great riding.

Traditionally there's been a relationship, mostly with the federal government, but over the years there's been a need for the provincial government to take part in helping those who are less fortunate; a bit of a debt that we owe. It's not the prettiest of history. People need more help. Well, the government here has cut the budget from $18 million to $9 million in one year. "Can't get an education, sir? Cannot integrate economically? Stand on your own two feet. Tough luck." Left in the cold, twisting in the wind, penniless, without a friend and, more important, with the reality that your conditions will not improve; in fact, quite the contrary.

Let's talk about the human dimension, let's talk about a helping hand, let's talk about a commitment; not a great deal of dollars, but the necessity to provide, the necessity to give hope. You won't find it if you are a native Canadian, sadly. It need not cost a lot. It comes back to you many-fold. It's a pittance compared to the overall, but it's not there.

You see, the government has to satisfy a personal income tax cut. Every time you pay $100 of federal taxes and you look at it on your pay stub, add to it $58 before the tax implementation. That's the Ontario portion of tax which is deducted on behalf of the province. Rather than hit you twice, they say, "This is $158 coming out in taxes"; $100 stays with the federal government and $58 is the provincial responsibility.

If they're inclined this way, they make a choice between services, the deficit -- we would all wish to be debt-free; it's a normal and natural reaction -- and the style. Their style says, "We'll go with a tax cut." Then there were choices under the tax cut, if you're inclined this way. Once you've made this choice of a tax cut mostly benefiting the wealthy and fewer services for everyone, and add to it, salt it with user-pay, you get the picture; but not a tax cut at the consumer level, not a sales tax cut so that if you want to buy a fridge, you'd save 2%, 3%, 4%. In fact, 4% would pretty well be the equivalent. Everyone is a consumer. But of course not, they chose to go the high hand. The rich person will only buy one fridge, but they will save on their personal income tax.

In terms of revenue -- and I want to share this with you -- it's starting to tell. As it works its way into the payroll, into the system, this is what's happening: actual 1995-96 personal income tax, $15 billion; 1997-98, $14.49 billion. When all is said and done, you'll be looking at $5.4 billion that you will have to find elsewhere.

My leader has mentioned, "Oh, they'll find it all right." They'll find it in hospitalville on University here, in rural hospitals and clinics, in pretty well each and every classroom in the province of Ontario. That's where they'll make up the slack. There are no secrets here. They have to find $5.4 billion. They will further erode the middle class. People are hard-pressed to see where's the diff. I'm going to pay more next year for my property tax. If I am renting, I'm going to pay more. I'll pay more for almost everything I use in terms of public, social services. The federal government will take a little more for EI, for employment insurance, and quite a bit more for CPP.


I invite people to take their pay stubs to the kitchen table. I know that's what we do each month. When I get my stipend -- because the people of Lake Nipigon pay me what I think is a very good salary -- I take it home at the end of the month and I take the pay stub and put it on the kitchen table. Okay, I might as well tell you the whole truth. I also have a little ledger, the money coming in and the money spent, and there's a few dollars that I have to put aside for the rainy days, so I take some money and I buy a few things under an RRSP.


Mr Pouliot: You can laugh all you want when your pockets are filled and when you point at ordinary people and say, "You've had a chance to be like me and to do this and that," but not everyone is in the same boat.

Personal income tax revenue will be going down. The retail sales tax is going up. People are spending. There is somewhat of an economic recovery, but you don't see it in jobs. Many people, in order to bring home a sustainable income, are forced to take a second, and some a third, job. Some of the job growth has been experienced in the service sectors. They're not well-paid jobs; they're more like jobettes. They're small jobs. You take two hours there, three hours there, and you try to round up the money. They don't always have a good pay attached to them, but people are trying. People are resourceful, and they're saying: "Maybe it's my turn. Maybe I will latch on to this and latch on to that."

Consumer debt: We all have friends who say, "I'm throwing in the towel; I can't do it; I'm going to declare personal bankruptcy because I'm overextended," or "I've lost my job; I was a civil servant and I was told `Out the door.' I have to declare personal bankruptcy."

Savings? Talk to me about savings when you're trying to make ends meet. It's not easy. That's at an all-time low.

When you look for the recovery, you really have to look closely, because the average people are not benefiting. What you have is a constant erosion of the middle class and the working poor who are paying for all this. Some 515,000 people are out of work, a missed opportunity to address through a program, a get-back-to-work-quick scheme. There's no such thing here.

The way they choose to operate, they go to the chartered banks and they say, "We will give you a tax rebate, a kickback, on the loans that you make to small businesses," because they pay a tax and they pay a bit of a surtax. "Forget about the surtax. If you do your job, which is lending money to small business, we will give you a tax break."

That's like you, Mr Speaker, getting extra money for showing up at work in the morning. It's their job. What we need is more competition. Bring the rascals down to Main Street and let them benefit people. Those people are merchants. They don't produce things, they turn things. They're brokers. They get it coming or going without competition. But people are frightened: "What's going to happen to me? Are they going to call my loan in?"

The international investors couldn't care less if the small business component, the small business person, goes cap in hand and says: "I want to expand. I must meet my payroll." "Out the door" is the attitude. Then they go to Ottawa for five years before and five years after the Bank Act gets reviewed, and they become the best lobbyists. It's a cartel, it's a monopoly of the worst order, and now this government has chosen to give the banks tax incentives when they lend money to small business -- truly the world upside down. We should be so lucky.

You will recall that the Premier promised during the last campaign that he would not raise taxes, and if there was a user fee then it should be called a tax, because it was a tax in disguise.

In northern Ontario, and this is current this morning, "vehicle population statistics for the northern region," that's all of northern Ontario: passenger vehicles, 354,663; motorcycles, 10,925; commercial vehicles, 178,424. Surprise, surprise. We don't pay anything. We have a bit of a tradeoff. It's no big deal; it's mostly symbolic. That little sticker on your plate, if you live in northern Ontario you pay zero, because everyone knows that you pay at the pump. Every time you put a litre of gasoline into your vehicle, you pay anything between 10 and 15 cents more per litre. That's a lot of money. In Manitouwadge we can't take the subway. We don't have a public transportation system. We need a car for the distances that we travel. We travel a lot of mileage, so a car is a necessity, it goes without saying, and we warm up the car longer. Northern winters are colder and they're longer as well.

For the contribution that we make, they slapped us in the face. They said, "Pay $37." Oh, it's reduced if you live in southern Ontario, but we will pay now $37, an extra tank of gas.

Anyone out there -- and I know many, many people will recognize themselves here: 354,663 passenger vehicles; motorcycles, 10,925; commercial vehicles, 178,424. All of us in northern Ontario are disappointed because we have been deceived. We were told one thing, and you have to believe someone at some time, and the reality is quite a different thing. Not a pretty picture at all.

One thing in the budget is the government says we must live within our means. Do you know that this government in its second year in office -- and they claim they are going forward -- this year they will spend $2 billion more to pay for the coupons to service the debt. It was $7 billion last year. It's right here. This year they'll pay $9 billion.

There's no secret here. That tax cut, since they're in a deficit position, is borrowed money. They don't have the money, so they borrow the money. When you borrow money, you've got to pay the vendor with coupons, interest rates. It's going to cost them $2 billion more. They don't want to talk about this. They say they're on the right track. But they're increasing the debt, they're increasing the burden. They're doing the exact opposite of what they would like us to believe they defend. They're not contrary to a debt; they're partakers, they're very much involved in it. They will say: "Well, look, we're getting some interest rate breaks, and this will really impact on the debt. We have almost historically low interest rates."


But close scrutiny of the books, the way the debt is structured, tells a different tale. It's not callable. Every year only a small portion of the debt comes due, matures. But they are indebted long-term. I have some of the interest rates here: 11.31% to the year 2015; I have some Ontario savings bonds, that's not so bad; oh, I have money payable in Europe in Canadian dollars, payable in US dollars, in pounds sterling, in Swiss francs, German marks, Japanese yen, Australian dollars. They have very little control over their debt.

Add to it the burden of Ontario Hydro. The government will say, "Ontario Hydro has nothing to do with us," when it serves their purpose. When Ontario Hydro goes and borrows, the government says, "We'll back you; we have everything to do with you."

So talk to me about good fiscal management, point the finger about living within your means. Because of the injustice built into the tax scheme, the missed opportunity that we had to be fair, you have the erosion of the middle class, which is real, real, real; the pain is pain, pain, pain. They claim they don't wish to hurt anyone, but because of process -- and they put process and ideology ahead of people. They must get there and get there in a hurry. Simply put, they're like Pac-Man: They're going up the food chain, because you must satisfy the agenda.

The middle class sees itself more and more as being eroded, fewer people. Their voice isn't as strong. The working poor are having a difficult time. They don't see chances for growth. The elderly are picking up the pieces. They can't go back 20 years and start another career, and they have to deal with user pay.

The Canada that we cherish, the Ontario that benefited us so much, is --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Rapidly disappearing.

Mr Pouliot: -- very rapidly indeed, disappearing.

What we're asking by way of plea is for the government to put the brakes on. Don't move on so many fronts so quickly. A budget gives you, once a year, that opportunity. It tells the tale. It builds the roads for one year. It spells out the future with a timetable. Don't overestimate the capacity of people to make changes. If you do so, you shall do so at your own peril. It is a catalyst in political philosophy -- superimpose a timetable -- that if you move too fast, you will make more mistakes. People must be given the chance to cost the changes, to adapt, to digest, to assimilate the situation.

I must share the time with my colleagues, but I wish to leave on a positive note. I was happily surprised -- and we must never judge people, because sometimes we are wrong -- with the commitment, and it appears to be fairly straightforward, that this government has chosen to direct at the research and development sector. For that, I applaud them. I trust that the money will find its due course. It was surprising because you look to the future, and for an entity that is certainly not given to research and development, it's a pleasant surprise.

That's the one positive thing I wish to say about the budget. But when I put it on a scale and I weigh it against the missed opportunities, I have to say that I come away saddened. We have an economic recovery, but we don't have the equivalent and the corresponding job discovery.

Mr Martin: I want to thank my colleagues the leader of our party and the critic for finance for sharing with me this afternoon some time to put some thoughts on the record about this budget and put that in the context of where we are at this time in our history with this government and where we are going. I think our leader, Howard Hampton, spoke very eloquently and clearly about the reality gap that exists between what this budget puts out as the vision for the province, the spin it puts on it, the public relations exercise that's happening, and what in fact at the end of the day is going to result on the streets of our communities, places like Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, Manitouwadge, Fort Frances and other wonderful communities across this province.

Our finance critic, the member who comes to us from the wonderful community of Manitouwadge, Mr Pouliot, talks very eloquently of the finances and took us through a very clear and understandable analysis of what's there and what's not there, but most importantly, what's not there.

I suggest to you that the reality gap that we in our caucus talk about with regard to this budget is very real. It's something that people have to take some time to look at, to study and to then take some action about. For example, in this budget there is the tax break, the wonderful tax break, that shining star in the east that is going to take care of everything, is going to make the economy better, is going to make us all feel better, is going to in the end return us to a place after all the services we've come to count on and depend on in this province are destroyed and build them back up again.

But those of us who have looked at the figures, our critic for finance, those of us who understand numbers in any way, know that two thirds of the tax benefit that's going to derive from this budget will in fact go to the top 10% of earners in this province. That's scandalous.

If you were to take two sheets of paper and on one sheet put the benefits that will accrue to all of us in this province because of the tax break and on the other sheet put all of the things that are going to disappear, all of the damage that is being done to our communities and to people because of the policies of this government, which have been so clearly spoken of in the last couple of days by the budget that was delivered, you will see that this would take pages and pages and pages. The ledger, as the member previously said, is not in balance at all, and it, as it does him, saddens me very much.

But I want to talk today about a couple of things. I'm the economic development critic for our caucus. I want to share and put on the record just a couple of thoughts that come to my mind as I look at this budget and I think about it in the context of my community and this wonderful province I have chosen to live in and in the context of this country, because the policies of this provincial government are very much in sync with the policies of our federal government today and so many of the provincial legislatures.

The question one has to ask in light of a budget such as the one that was delivered here on Tuesday of this week is: Where is the government taking us? Where is it that we're going? What is the plan? What is the vision for all of us as a community of people that this government wants us to buy into, that this government is building a framework for, that this government is wanting to take us down that road to?

I suggest to you, as maybe others might not, that this government does have a plan. This government has a vision. There should be no doubt that they know where they're going and they know where they want to take us. It is a buy-in to the global economy. I'm not being critical of the global economy here because I think we all have to understand that the global economy is very much in the nature of the Bre-X fiasco that we saw in this province and in this country over the last number of weeks: a lot of glitz, a lot of show, a lot of bright lights, but at the end of the day, no gold. This budget has a lot of talk about a tax break and money for health care and all kinds of bells and whistles, but at the end of the day, less services and, alas, less jobs.


The global economy -- and that's where we're heading and I don't think anybody should make any bones about it -- is about money. More than anything else, it's about money and it's about profits. It's about money and profits at all costs. The Bre-X analogy that we are putting out as a caucus to describe this budget is perfect.

This government, in my estimation, is playing fast and loose with the lives and the livelihood of the people it was elected to serve. This government and the vision it has for the economy is not about people and it's not about jobs and it's not about communities. It's about high-grading, and we who have lived in the north, in small communities in the north particularly, know what that's all about. There isn't a community in northern Ontario over the last 50 years that hasn't learned, particularly in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, how to ride that roller-coaster of ups and downs.

What high-grading means is to come in and take the best and leave the rest and the hell with the people and the hell with the community. That's what the global economy is about. That's what this government is about in this province. Sadly, where the high-grading used to be ore and trees and natural resources, the high-grading now in this province has become the resource that people are.

My good friend Ted Schmidt, who writes for Catholic New Times, spoke to us in Sault Ste Marie a few weeks ago, spoke to an ecumenical church gathering of people during the season of Lent, calling us to understand what it meant to be a people of justice. He said that the global economy is about -- and he has studied it and he has studied others who have studied it -- taking advantage of the top 20% of the resources that we have that are the best and the hell with the rest.

They want the brightest of our young people, so they're changing the school system to make that happen. They want the healthiest among us, so they're changing the health care system to make that happen. They don't want an economy that is based on making sure that the resources and the contributions that all people can make are recognized and valued. They want what they can get easily and put in their machines, pump out the profit, pump out the money for that small group of people who at the end of the day will get it and they will give back what they only absolutely have to, and that is really sad.

What the global economy is about, and we've bought into it as a country and as a province in the free trade agreement, in the context of Canada, the United States and Mexico, is that Canada has the resources, Mexico has the cheap labour and they take that product and they sell it back in the States. Everybody at the end of the day in that kind of scenario loses, and most particularly, in our instance we lose big time, because the resources that are naturally ours by reason of our citizenship are being taken from us by those who can make profit from it and keep it to themselves with very little or minimal return to the rest of us, to the communities we live in and to the people we care about.

That's the nature of the global economy, and as I said earlier, I didn't come here today to be particularly critical of that because that's the way it works. That's the way that system works and that's why we have governments, to make sure that the rewards of that kind of a system are shared equally among those who have a right to some part of that.

What this government is about is turning that over, is getting out of the business of protecting the environment, getting out of the business of protecting people, getting out of the business of protecting communities. I only have to for a second, Speaker, to explain that to you, talk about the community of Elliot Lake, which in the early 1990s found itself in that spiral, that vortex of loss of a resource that had any kind of real value any more because to mine the uranium of Elliot Lake became too expensive and Ontario Hydro thought they could get their resource some place else.

We were the government at that particular point in time and we could have said, "Let the market decide. To hell with Elliot Lake," to hell with the people who took their hard-earned money, who had worked very hard over a number of years, and any of you who have worked in the mines know how difficult that work can be. They took that money, they invested in that community. They bought homes, they built community centres, they gave their money so that the hospitals could be developed further, so that we could have schools.

If we were at that particular point in time living by the attitude of this government, we would just say: "To hell with Elliot Lake. Let the market decide. Its time is up. People just have to move on. The investors will take their money and they'll invest it some place else, but the people have got to pack up their goods in their cars and their vans and they've got to move to wherever there is another job and turn their backs on their life's investment," which oftentimes was represented by a house or a car, but most particularly by that community.

But we didn't do that and that's the difference between this government, which buys into an economy that's about profit and money at all costs, and a government that's about making sure that what profit and money is generated in an economy is shared equitably and that investments that are made by all people, not just those who are well-placed or who have the most money, get protected and that we all at the end of the day come out with our dignity intact, with some hope for the future and some vision of what our life could be about.

The problem with this government, of course, is that it's not taking those responsibilities to heart and not maximizing the benefit of the economy that we're moving into to the benefit of all. We in this province are not in an economy that's failing. From the perspective of profits, when you read the financial reports of most of our large corporations in this province, when you read the annual statements of the banks that operate in Ontario and in Canada, you see unparalleled profits being generated, you see historically high record profits at the bottom of the page.

You ask yourself, in that kind of an economy, in that kind of a world where that kind of money and wealth is being generated, why it is that we're not seeing the result in jobs. Why is it that governments, both federal and provincial, are cutting the services that we have all come to rely on? Why is it in a province that is generating in the private sector the kind of profits that we see that a government would make a decision, in its wisdom, to take 22% out of the income of the poorest people who live in our communities?

I suggest to you, Speaker, in this world of high-grading, that those people are dispensable. We'll pay them, we'll give them to live on, we'll afford them the very minimum that it will take so that we don't get ourselves in trouble with the international community that might point a finger at us, the United Nations or Amnesty International or whatever.


The speaker before me, the illustrious finance critic for our party, talked a bit about the reduction in the budget that we just saw to our native first peoples. Those are communities that have poverty in them that has been spoken of by the United Nations and groups out there who cast a jaundiced eye at governments and jurisdictions that do not take care of their poorest and their most vulnerable, and they have been very critical. But that's the road we're going down. There is no sense in this budget, no indication that we are changing course in any significant direction from that day in July 1995 when all of us woke up to the reality that this government was going to beat up on the most vulnerable and the most poor in our communities by taking 22% out of their take-home pay.

Interjection: Their take-home pay?

Mr Martin: That's what it is, their take-home pay. That's their income; that's what they use to buy food for their children and put it on the table, that's what they use to house themselves, that's what they use to get education for their children, to feed themselves. That's what it's for.

In an economy where we're not generating the kind of jobs that were predicted by this government when it first got elected and in an economy where we've come to accept a 9%, 10%, 11% unemployment rate as normal and natural, to take the victims of that kind of process or reality and tell them that even though they can't get a job because there is no job out there for them, they are going to have to live on less and move more and more into poverty, to take away from them access to health care, to take away from them some of the medication that under previous governments they knew they could count on, to take away from them the possibility that their children might be able to rise above this dilemma they find themselves in and get an education, to claim that that's all right and is somehow morally ethical speaks volumes about where this government is taking us, speaks volumes about the Bre-X approach to life and the economy this government is propping up and wants us all to buy into and be part of.

The government would lead you to believe, by some of the public relations and the spin they're wrapping this budget in, and the federal government is doing pretty much the same thing -- they're telling us, "We have no choice; our hands are tied; the global reality dictates."

Mr Gerretsen: They have a choice about the tax cut.

Mr Martin: They have a choice about the tax cut, and some have taken it and some haven't.

But there is an alternative, and I suggest to you that it's an alternative that's consistent with the best traditions of this province and this country over the last 20 or 30 years. There's the choice of building an economy that's based on solid resources as opposed to hopes and misinformation and public relations.

It's the choice, the alternative, to build an economy that is reinforced by the best we can offer to our children and to our adults who find themselves displaced in the world we live in now, with the change in the economy etc, to provide them with the best in education, the best in opportunities to learn and to evolve and to roll with the punches and to be part of the action.

It's an economy that's built on a health care system that's there for everybody when they get sick, that's there for everybody to keep them well so they don't get sick in the first place, that's there for our children, that's there for our working people no matter where you work. If you work at Algoma Steel or you work at McDonald's, the health care system that we've built up in this province and in this country is there for everybody.

If you look at the budget we're being presented with here -- and it's consistent with what we've seen so far in the short two years these folks have had the reins of power in this province -- it's disappearing. It's not the same as it was. I talk to old people in my own community who are afraid to go to the hospital any more because they don't know if they're going to be looked after. Most particularly, I talk to elderly people who don't have family around any more -- they're off in other places -- to make sure they get the kind of health care they need.

The alternative that we as a caucus in this place would present to the people of this province, given an opportunity, in contrast to the global economy and the global economic vision this government would have us buy into, is built on an investment in infrastructure, something that previous governments felt committed to, something we as a government certainly felt committed to.

You heard earlier this afternoon some reference to the kind of money that used to be, for example, in the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Some $83 million, was it? This year it's going to be $41 million. What about that investment in infrastructure? What about that investment in roads and in communities and in buildings that makes our province attractive to new investment?

In 1994, when we were government, this province saw the most investment in one year that had been seen in its history to that point. Why were people attracted to Ontario? Why were new companies attracted to investing in Ontario? Why was Ontario such a wonderful place for investors to come and sink some roots? I'll tell you why: It's because we had in place at that time -- and alas, we're losing it -- a first-class education system, a first-class health care system and an infrastructure that was second to none, that was the best we could provide and presented opportunity for people who would make things and produce things and set up a plant to get their products to market.

What is it that people want? Look at what this government is delivering and talk to people in communities like Sault Ste Marie and Manitouwadge and Toronto. You hear of their anxiety and their loss of hope and sense the lack of vision out there because of what they see coming at them from this government, because they don't see their part in the vision this government has for this province, don't see the role they can play, don't see what they do and what they have to offer as people as being valued.

What is it they do want? What is it they tell you when you get a chance to speak to them heart to heart? I know what they tell me. The people I talk to say they want a government that is willing to show leadership, a government that is willing to take responsibility for the lives of the people it represents, a government that's willing to take responsibility for the communities over which it governs, to make sure they're viable and strong and provide for the people who live in them, systems that will support them in the good times and the bad. They want a government that is visionary and hopeful, that has a five- and a 10-year plan down the road, that is responsive and expects a contribution from people and is inclusive of all the people who live within its jurisdiction.

They want a government that's interested in working together with communities and with people, that is willing to partner with people, that is willing to partner with the private sector, with the workers in plants like Algoma Steel and St Marys Paper and Spruce Falls; so that when they find themselves in rough water they know and we know together that there is nothing that will come at us that we can't solve, that we can't take care of, that we can't somehow make right so that there is not only a present, but a future for all of us and for our children; so that the investments we make today together in the resource we all are, in the resource that the communities in which we live are -- we know it will be there for our children and our future generations.

They want governments to be architects of prosperity, and central to that is a sense of balance. That balance has to include the economy, it has to include the social life of the community and, more than anything, in my mind it has to include employment. There have to be jobs for people. If you don't have jobs for people, you have no hope; they have no hope. There's no hope for the jurisdiction in which we live. People want to work. People have resources to offer. People have things they want to do. People want to be part of the common life of the communities in which they live, and this government has not presented them or provided them with that opportunity.



Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would seek the consent of the House to move the late shows requested by the members for Sudbury and Cochrane South from tonight to Tuesday, May 13.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there unanimous consent? It's agreed.


Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to discharge the order of committee of the whole House on Bill 108, An Act to deal with the prosecution of certain provincial offences, to reduce duplication and to streamline administration, and order the bill for third reading.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it agreed?


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm not trying to be objectionable here. This is something I don't know anything about and I don't know if anybody in our caucus is aware of it. That's the only reason I'm objecting at this point. If it's something that has been agreed to -- I would just ask the government that this not be dealt with at this point. But at this point I would not give agreement to that.

Hon Mr Leach: Mr Speaker, I have the weekly business statement.

Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of May 12, 1997.

On Monday, May 12, the House will begin second reading of Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act.

On Tuesday, May 13, we hope to complete second reading of Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act.

On Wednesday, May 14, the House hopes to complete third reading of Bill 84, the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

On Thursday, May 15, we hope to complete third reading of Bill 106, the Fair Municipal Finance Act.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek unanimous consent for the government to call forward next week Bill 125, which is the bill dealing with truck safety. As you know, the Minister of Transportation --

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. When are you going to do this?

Mr Bisson: I'm doing it right now. I know the Minister of Transportation takes his bill very seriously and has said he wants this legislation dealt with. We're prepared to deal with it at second reading and I'm asking for unanimous consent.

The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? No, there is not unanimous consent.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak on our good-news budget that some editorial writers and columnists I see call a "no-surprise, no-news budget." I think that's probably understandable, given the fact that it follows right from our commitment that was laid out in the Common Sense Revolution where we said what we were going to do. We were going to cut taxes, create jobs and eliminate the deficit in order to protect and maintain those services that Ontarians want and depend on: health care, education and safe communities. That is exactly what this budget plans for and lays out. How does it help us achieve these goals? First, let's look at deficit reduction.

We promised Ontarians that we would eliminate the $11.2-billion deficit that we inherited when we took office in June 1995 and that we would do it within our mandate. This budget, I can say, moves us a step closet in this direction, and it's a very important goal. At the end of fiscal year 1996-97 our deficit was down to $7.6 billion, by the end of fiscal year 1997-98 the deficit will be down to $6.6 billion, and by the end of the following fiscal year this will have shrunk to $4.8 billion. That's 58% less than the $11.2-billion deficit we inherited. That is an amazing achievement.


Ms Bassett: Tax cuts, another one of our promises, and I point this out to my colleague on the opposite side that he might listen: The 20 tax reductions announced in Tuesday's budget bring to a total of 30 the tax cuts this government has introduced in the less than two years it has been in office.

What's more important, the economy is responding with jobs and growth. What a change from the 10 years prior to our taking office, when between 1985 and 1995 previous governments hiked our taxes 65 times, including 11 increases in personal income taxes alone. These tax hikes did not balance the budget, nor did they create jobs. In fact, our debt tripled during this time.

The government is keeping its promises well to reduce Ontario's personal income tax rate by 30%, and this budget again moves us in that direction. On July 1 this year, Ontario's income tax rate will be reduce to 47% of the basic federal tax, and on January 12 next year it will come down again to 45% of the basic federal tax.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): That's one of the lowest in Canada.

Ms Bassett: That's right. It is one of the lowest in Canada.

As for jobs, another one of our important initiatives, this government is committed to creating jobs and the finance minister introduced a variety of measures to take us in that direction. First, the government is establishing a network of enterprise centres for small businesses to help them grow and in effect create more jobs. Entrepreneurs will be able to get help in marketing, accounting, business planning and overall business strategy. This, we hear again and again, is a prime need that small businesses have demanded and want and that they feel will help them grow.

Second, this budget brings in measures to make it easier for small business people to get the capital they need to expand. Therefore they will be able to hire more people, and of course this will create more jobs.

The government is also making it easier for these small businesses to get capital by the following group of measures that I'll just ream off:

Small business tax credits for banks introduced last year are now going to be permanent.

The government has increased the amount of surtax that banks can earn back every time they invest in one of Ontario's small businesses, and the government has also created community small business investment funds that will make these funds eligible for labour-sponsored investment funds and for small business investment tax credits for banks.

These are demands that during the pre-budget consultations the standing committee on finance and economic affairs heard again and again, and we are answering their pleas for more help in this regard.


Research and development: I am most excited by the fact that the minister has made research and development a key focus of this government. In fact, he has created five new tax breaks for business to help create new R&D jobs. Again, I kept hearing from every single business and technological association that came before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in the pre-budget consultations about the need to have high-tech jobs and to have training and research in these areas.

The cornerstone of this initiative is the 10-year, $3-billion R&D challenge fund. Ontario is going to contribute $500 million to this fund over the next 10 years. That's why those who were in the House on Tuesday for the presentation of the budget could see University of Toronto president Rob Prichard sitting up in the gallery, smiling, because he realizes that this move, this important step is going to take us in the right direction and will enable him to keep the research here at the University of Toronto and other universities across the province.

The government has also announced the creation of the Ontario business-research institute tax credit, which will provide a 20% tax credit for qualifying businesses sponsoring R&D projects performed by university and research hospitals; and it will extend the sales tax exemption for R&D equipment to non-profit medical research facilities, allow companies to deduct the cost of purchasing new technology and eliminate Ontario's tax on royalty payments for foreign technologies such as computer software, all moves that are important in developing the initiatives we have taken. We cannot underestimate the importance of these initiatives and what it will do for the future of high-tech jobs in this province.

Youth employment, another important initiative: I'm pleased to say that this government is going to invest $6 million towards helping 40,000 students get summer jobs. The Minister of Finance also announced that the government will be providing a 10% tax credit to both small and large private sector employers to create 45,000 internship jobs over the next three years. This will help provide students with the experience they need to go out and get jobs. How many of us know young people who want to get a job who come back and say, "Nobody will hire me because I don't have any experience"? This initiative is going to help them get that experience.

We are also expanding the cooperative education tax credit so that employers who hire students in leading-edge technology educational programs will receive a 10% tax credit voucher -- another significant initiative.

Now for the film and television tax credit, something dear to my heart. I'm very excited about the measures introduced to the burgeoning and important film and television industry that are going to make it more competitive. As everybody who's involved in film knows, a lot of the film industry picks up and leaves if the province is not inviting, if the province doesn't make it economically sound to be here. Film and television across the province, especially in Toronto, is the source of hundreds and hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue for business and for tourism.

The finance minister, who is ever aware of the importance of this industry to the province, announced on Tuesday that the very successful film and television tax credit will be increased to 20%, which is up from 15% last year. He also introduced a new 15% computer animation and special effects tax credit for production in Ontario, and earmarked $12 million to create a new animation communications design and technology centre at Sheridan College. Little wonder that Norman Jewison, our noted film producer from Canada, was sitting up there cheering these moves, because he knows how important it is.

Mr Pouliot: They're not supposed to.

Ms Bassett: He was stopped from cheering, but he wanted to cheer -- he muffled his cheers -- because he realized how important this measure is to Ontario's film industry.

Despite all its complexities, this budget is in my view breathtakingly simple. It's proof that we have turned the corner to achieve a balanced budget. We've done it by doing what we said we'd do: cutting taxes, cutting spending, cutting government and cutting red tape. What's more, the economy is surging forward.

The real story, regardless of all the naysayers, some of whom are sitting right across from me now, is that our plan is working. As a result of this plan and the results it is having, we are able to invest more money in health care, education and our safer communities. As a result of our plan, we are putting more money back into the pockets of hardworking Ontarians. As a result of our plan, Ontario's economy is responding with jobs and growth. Businesses and consumers are more confident. They can see that the economy is turning around. They can see better days ahead. Our plan is working. We have turned the corner towards prosperity for all Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Pouliot: The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance -- I must say this -- comes well prepared. She certainly attempts, and it's a very noble attempt, to balance while seeking an equilibrium. It's most unfortunate that the task handed you by the government of the day is so tedious, that you have to put a spin and a positive message has to come through. When you look at what is being done -- the member mentioned jobs for young people, those who are most impacted. The reality is that, yes, they're spending money, but it's $22 million less than the previous year. Also, 14,000 fewer of those people in need of a job will have a job. That's the reality of the day.

We talked about the film industry and some of the incentives. It's quite welcome. But it's a little too much, with the highest of respect, to suggest that banks get a tax kickback on the surtax they pay for lending money to small business. What we're saying is, "You get a reward for doing the job you should have been doing in the first place." I was under the impression that banks were lenders, but now, for doing their job, they get a benefit. It goes beyond the obscene. I don't wish the words to be too bold, but banks getting yet another break goes beyond the obscene. They've reached the foreseen. It's time to come back to our senses.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I take great pleasure in congratulating the member for St Andrew-St Patrick on her comments on the budget, a very exciting budget. What has been quite delightful to watch is the response of the opposition parties, because it's very difficult to criticize a positive budget which speaks so well for the future of our province.

I'm personally ecstatic about a decision that has been made for Sheridan College's animation and innovation course. We are going to encourage the reversal of the brain drain from Ontario to California in animation. We have, in Sheridan College in Oakville, 8,000 applications for 500 student placements in that course alone. Those students leave Ontario and go and work in California, and the really exciting thing that's now going to happen is that where we already have Disney in Toronto, we are going to bring, hopefully, Fox and several other of the major film production studios to Toronto. We will have the animators graduating from Sheridan College able to do their work here at home in our province. The spinoff of the jobs that will create will be the most exciting thing that has happened in this province in a decade.

I heard the members opposite talking about how important it was to have jobs. As a result of the decisions made by this government in this budget, you will find an increase in the job opportunities in this province. We already had a very exciting month of March this year with all the new jobs created. I salute the Minister of Finance, Ernie Eves.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm wondering if the member had time to quote into the record the Premier's remarks about whining about other levels of government. The Premier, on May 11, 1994, said: "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 is time for us to take back our own destiny again, get our own affairs in order again."

The Premier said: "It actually is a disgrace when the Premier of the province of Ontario spends his time whining, pointing fingers, blaming others. That is not the legacy, that is not the history, of this province I grew up in, and that will not be the legacy and the history of this province when we bring common sense back to it." That's Mike Harris saying that. I agree with Mike.

Let me see what else Mike said about this. "You see, there is only one taxpayer, and that taxpayer is fed up with the old style of politics. They're fed up with the finger-pointing and blaming someone else. They're demanding major reform of a broken system."

Mike Harris goes on to say: "We suggest that the Premier and this Legislature should turn their energies to fix that which is broken here in the province of Ontario. I'll tell you this: If the Premier spent as much time working towards making Ontario great again as he spends at pointing fingers and running down other levels of government, then Ontario would be great again." You know something? Mike Harris was right. I agree with him. I remember applauding him. I remember applauding Gary Carr when he said, "The public doesn't want partisanship or gamesmanship, they want results." I thought Mike Harris was right. By gosh, I thought he should have applied that to the exercise of this budget. I'm sure the member agrees with me and with Mike Harris.

Ms Martel: In response to the comments made by the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, let's talk about employment first. I notice the member neglected to mention that there are 16,000 more people unemployed today in 1997 as this budget was delivered than were unemployed in 1995 when this government took office.

There are 100,000 young people unemployed in the province today. That is a record high for the province of Ontario. And what did this government offer? To add $6 million back to the budget it announced a couple of weeks ago, a budget that I remind you was $22 million less than our budget in 1995 for youth unemployment, $22 million less. You are going to create 14,000 fewer jobs for young people in the province this summer than we did in 1995, at a time when 100,000 young people are looking for jobs. That is a pathetic response to the level of youth unemployment in this province, and the government should be embarrassed by what was announced by the finance minister here two days ago.

Let's talk about health care, because I noticed the member didn't have very much to say. This government has tried to say that there is going to be $1 billion more in the health care budget. Never mind what I have to say about that. What does the president of the Ontario Medical Association have to say about that?

"`The Ontario government's claim that yesterday's budget puts more money into health care is misleading,'" said president Dr Gerry Rowland. "`There has been no tangible increase in health care spending for 1997-98. Despite the increasing health care needs of the population, I see nothing in this budget to reassure patients that access to health care will be any better this year.'" That's what he had to say, never mind about what the opposition says. These are the people who normally support you -- nothing good around health care in this budget.

The Acting Speaker: The member for St Andrew-St Patrick has two minutes to respond.

Ms Bassett: I must say to the member for Sudbury East that I'm proud of the initiatives announced by the finance minister of Tuesday. I think he brought down a workmanlike budget filled with initiatives that are going to take us forward into the next century. I say to the members for Lake Nipigon and St Catharines that they are naysayers who can't accept the good news and good sense of this budget. The member for Mississauga South recognizes the key messages in this budget and that they are going to take us forward.

This budget continues the implementation of the government's plan. It keeps us on track for a balanced budget for 2000-01 and makes us more accountable to the taxpayers -- no more tax hikes for this government. This plan makes record investments in research and development and is going to create jobs for the future. This plan invests in education and invests money where it is needed, in the classroom. The plan assures that it is our commitment to provide quality health care for all Ontarians now and for the future. It also allows taxpayers to keep more of their money in their pockets by cutting personal income taxes. In total, we have cut our taxes 30 times in less than two years. Our plan is creating jobs for the future, and I'm proud of it.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on the budget. I'll just go through a few observations on the budget and then, as usual, you let the public make their decision on it.

I would say the budget clearly reflects Mike Harris's view of Ontario. It clearly is his agenda. It's an agenda that kept Preston Manning from running candidates in the last provincial election. I understand all that. It kept Reform out of Ontario. It's an agenda that Mike Harris hasn't deviated from one inch. It's something I fundamentally disagree with, and I'll run through the reasons.

First, in terms of its effect on property taxes -- I would say to all of Ontario, these are the government's own numbers, not our numbers -- the government announced in this budget that it was cancelling a municipal support grant of $666 million. We now know as a result of that and the announcement on May 1 that the government of Ontario has decided to load about $660 million off the province on to municipalities. Without question, that's what's happened, and that will cost property taxpayers about a 5% increase in property tax. When people say to me, "I like this income tax cut," I say, "All right, here's one of its costs: Your property taxes are going to go up at least 5% because they have decided to load $660 million of extra costs on municipalities." The municipal support grant, according to the government, will be gone, discontinued, on January 1, 1998. That's the first impact of the budget.

I understand that the hand-picked municipal people who were at those meetings agreed to it. It was: "Either you get $1 billion of extra costs added on or we'll only add $666 million. What do you want?" "Well, just add $666 million." If I were a councillor on any council in Ontario watching this, I would phone AMO, AMO being the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and say, "Is it right that we now have $660 million more money added on to property tax?"


I might add that some of the most sensitive services are now on property taxes: social housing -- and remember this: Well over half of all the social housing in Ontario is for seniors. It now has been put on to the property tax. I think that's fundamentally wrong. You won't find one organization, the boards of trade -- the handpicked Dave Crombie Who Does What panel said, "Don't do this." But this budget forces social housing on to property tax. It's wrong. It is dead wrong. I guarantee you, as the recession hits, you are going to have seniors who rely on this for their housing in a competition with other hard-pressed property taxpayers.

I would add that they've added almost $900 million of social assistance cost on to property tax. They've added $200 million of ambulance costs and $225 million of public health on to property taxes. Without doubt, that will take property taxes up by 5% in the province.

Part of this as well, by the way, and the public will begin to recognize this, is now, for the first time in the history of Ontario, the province of Ontario is going to set the mill rate on a third of the property taxes. One third of your property taxes, now the province of Ontario sets that mill rate. It is unprecedented. It is an attack by the province of Ontario on property taxes.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): At the request of the municipalities.

Mr Phillips: I hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs, and I'm glad he's here, because it was him who got us into this mess.

Mr Bradley: On behalf of Mike Harris.

Mr Phillips: On behalf of Mike Harris. Even here, this is one of the funniest -- not funny, but just an example of the incompetence. We now find in this little release, "Whoops, we made a $400-million mistake; $400 million of the revenue that we thought was residential property tax we subsequently found was commercial property tax."

I point that out because it's a sign of incompetence. There it is: $400 million. None the less, now the province of Ontario is going to set over half of the property taxes for businesses in this province; and for the residents of Ontario, you're going to set a quarter of the residential mill rate.

By the way -- and this is interesting too, because it was just a few months ago the province said, "Furthermore, the municipalities can reduce their property taxes by 10%." I said in the House the other day: "The province now is setting one third of the mill rate. Are you going to reduce your mill rate by 10%?" The answer was no.

So the first point I'm making on the budget is: Property taxpayers beware, the province is loading it on. The municipalities were faced with a tough choice: "Do you want $1 billion added on or $660 million?" They took the $660 million.

But without question, the big thing in the budget -- one big thing in the budget -- is the downloading of cost on to property tax. I would add also that this is going to occur at the very same time as the new property tax assessment goes through. I've said many times that without question the bank towers in Metropolitan Toronto are going to see their taxes reduced by at least $3 million.

Mr Bradley: Oh, they'll be happy.

Mr Phillips: The banks will be happy, my colleague says. The bank towers' property taxes will go down by $3 million without any question of a doubt. Where will that go? Where will it be made up? It will be made up by small business.

I was astonished to read in the paper that the Minister of Finance said, "Oh, yes, but our bill permits the municipalities to set a different rate on small business." It doesn't. He doesn't understand the bill. We went to the committee and we said, "Show us where in the bill that's allowed." The bureaucrats had to acknowledge that it isn't permitted. The property tax bill that we will be voting on in this House in the next few weeks does not permit two classes of commercial.

The reason I raise this is, when the Conservative members speak proudly of the budget, I say to Ontario, firstly, recognize you're going to pay for this with your property taxes going up. Those are the numbers, and that's what's going to happen.

The second thing I'd like to talk about in the budget is the job performance. I carry around the Common Sense Revolution. I know it's the bible of the government. You got elected with some certain commitments. This one was so specific; it said, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years."

We now have your own projections for the first two and a half years, halfway through the mandate of the government; we're halfway to that 725,000-job target. Where are we on that? In the budget, they show the 1997 number, and they have an employment -- and they call it the "up-to number." That's the maximum they predict in the budget. If I take that up-to number for 1997, halfway through the government's mandate, you're 165,000 jobs behind target. It's particularly acute, I might add, among our young people.

I say to the people who are being asked to make huge sacrifices -- and that is our hospitals; hospitals across this province are seeing their budgets cut by 20%. They're being asked to make those kinds of sacrifices. Our school boards have had their budgets cut by over $500 million. They're being asked to make those sacrifices. Our municipalities are being asked to shoulder another $660 million of cost.

We're going through all of that pain. The gain was supposed to be job creation. That was what we were promised. So far it has been a dismal record. One can only hope the numbers will improve. I have been, I think along with most people, very shocked at the performance over the last few months. In fact, Ontario has actually lost 11,000 jobs in the last seven months. The rest of Canada has gained 88,000 jobs. It has been a dismal performance. I always add that March was a relatively good month, I acknowledge that, but the last seven months have been dismal. There is now no credible economist you can find who would say Mike Harris is going to hit his 725,000 job number.

When my leader talked about punishing the young, it is our young people who are suffering the most on the employment front, where the reported rate of unemployment in the first quarter of 1997 was 18.5%. In reality, as we all know, because a lot of them have dropped out, it's dramatically higher than that.

I know the Conservative members are very proud of this budget. I don't share that view. I don't share that view, because it's loading cost on to property taxes and we are punishing the unemployed.

I wanted to talk just briefly about education, because the member for -- Ms Bassett. I'm sorry, I forget the riding.

Mr Bradley: St Andrew-St Patrick.

Mr Phillips: -- St Andrew-St Patrick mentioned -- I don't like to personalize these things. But the president of the University of Toronto was in the gallery and was smiling and applauding.

Let me tell you what's happening with tuition fees, because the university presidents are advocating deregulating university fees, just let the market handle it. We've now seen the first example of it. My old school, Western, has taken the tuition fee up in their MBA program from $3,000 a year to $18,000 a year. The Minister of Education gave them a huge pat on the back and he's applauding them for taking them from $3,000 to $18,000. He's proud that the university has converted its publicly subsidized program to a full cost recovery. He says, "Best of all, those who reap the benefits will be the ones paying the cost."


Let me say, is this really what we want? Do we want our young people and their futures and their aspirations and their hopes to be dependent on how wealthy and privileged your family is? I honest to goodness think, personally, we're heading down the wrong road in a serious way. What it means is that if you've got money -- Rosedale will love this: Because you've got the money, you'll get your kids there and they'll buy a job and they'll be successful. But surely that's not what we're all about. Isn't what we're all about that when you're born in this province, you have a view that the future is not going to be limited by where or how you're born but rather by how hard you work and how much you care?

I find it objectionable, and I found it objectionable that the university presidents seemed to think this is great. The Minister of Education is giving them a great big pat on the back and they're in the gallery smiling about the budget. That's not my Ontario. In my opinion, it will be "buy a job." Rosedale will love this, the people on Bay Street will love it because their kids will have a better chance to get into these schools. But you think of somebody whose family may not have the same privileges and who worries about the future. Surely to goodness this isn't what we're all about. Yes, you can applaud the budget and you can say it's the kind of Ontario you want.

I shouldn't become quite as upset about that but I think that if we don't begin to have a debate around this, we are going to get ourselves into some really serious problems.

Just as an aside, on October 19, 1995, the Minister of Community and Social Services -- I carry this around -- sent out this: "Will you please put this poster on public buildings?" It was the one to go after welfare fraud. All of us want to stamp out welfare fraud, all of us recognize that abuse in welfare is something we must deal with, but sending something like that out and saying to post this in public buildings so we can hunt down welfare fraud -- "proud of this budget"? You can be proud of it. I have another view of it.

The tax cut: Again I say to my friends who are being asked to make the sacrifices, who are being asked to take 20% from their hospital budgets, all those on social assistance are living with 20% less. Remember, over half the people on social assistance are children and they are being asked to live with 20% less. If you try and live on that amount of money with some dignity and some self-respect and buy proper clothing -- but they're being asked to sacrifice. Why? In my opinion, to fund the tax cut. The tax cut does benefit the best-off. As a percentage, yes, they get less of a percentage break, but $500 million of the tax break goes to people making more than $250,000 in Ontario. You can be proud of the tax cut. It may sell well, and you opened your speech with "the tax cut and we're proud to have the tax cut," but if the deficit is so important that we must see tuition fees going up to $18,000, we must see 20% cut from our hospitals, we must see $500 million cut from our elementary and secondary schools -- why? Because we've got to slay this deficit problem.

Tell me again how we can afford this tax cut. To my business friends I say, look at the numbers in the budget on the deficit. The province is going to add $30 billion of debt. These are the numbers; these are Mike Harris's numbers -- from the time he became Premier till the next election, $30 billion of debt. By the way, I would add that I think it took the province, in its whole history, up to 1985 to get to $30 billion of debt. We're going to add $30 billion of debt but we can afford the tax cut.

Be very proud of the budget, if you want. It's creating an Ontario that I don't agree with.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): More tax increases would be better.

Mr Phillips: The member across may think it appropriate to take tuition fees up where young people in this province will have little hope of going to post-secondary school because they can't see the opportunity to raise that kind of money.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): The Mike Harris Ontario.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "The Mike Harris Ontario," and it is shaping up, I gather, exactly as Mike Harris wants. But it is a very different Ontario than Bill Davis wanted, than Leslie Frost wanted, and I think a very different Ontario than certainly I want and than I think Ontario wants.

Hon Mr Leach: And John Robarts.

Mr Phillips: And John Robarts too. So, proudly you can say you support your budget. I say I have a different view of it.

On the health budget, perhaps the most serious problem is our hospitals. The government is determined to cut 20% out of our hospital budgets. We are seeing our population grow by 150,000 a year. Every year in Ontario our population grows by 150,000. We are seeing the number of people over the age of 65 growing by roughly 30,000 a year. We are seeing a substantial increase in need in the future. But what is happening is that the government has decided to cut 20% from the hospital budgets. I can virtually guarantee that the result of that will be far deeper cuts to our hospitals than we should ever accept. Why are we doing that? Because Mike Harris has decided that Ontario should have a 30% income tax cut. Again, you can all be very proud of the budget. I say I proudly object to the budget. I think you are clearly heading in the wrong direction.

I wanted to talk a little bit about some other cuts that we can now begin to see in the budget because this tax cut comes with an enormous cost. By the way, I said earlier that Mike Harris plans to add $30 billion of debt to the province over their first four years. The tax cut will cost over the first four years $15 billion in lost revenue. Those aren't my numbers, once again. I take the numbers straight out of the budget. The financial officials provide an estimate on the cost of the tax cut. It's $4.815 billion in 1996-97, and to use the jargon, when you gross it up or fully implement it, it becomes an annual cost of $5.5 billion.


I know why Mike Harris wants the tax cut. It's because he fundamentally believes that government, the beast, has to be starved, and the tax cut is the best way to permanently do that. I say this: The costs that we will enact in Ontario in terms of the quality of service for children's education and for our seniors is enormous. The government has decided to let the revenue horse, as I often say, out of the barn before the expenditure horse is in the barn, and we are going to eliminate any of our flexibility. I know that the government members are proud of this budget and say, "Listen, we love it."

I will talk a little bit more about some of the cuts in the budget, because in addition to the impact on municipalities -- as I say, for our fire services and our police services, the essential services in our municipalities, you can imagine the strain that is going to be put on police budgets, because in most municipalities that is the largest single item in the budget.

For those services when the province has decided to load $660 million of extra cost on it, you can imagine the strain on our police budgets and our fire budgets. But I gather the government is very proud of this budget, very proud of the fact that they are able to proceed with the tax cut without realizing what it's going to mean to our local fire services and our local police services.

It's informative to look at the budget in terms of some other areas. I see the Solicitor General's budget cut. That's correctional services and our policing services down by $60 million. Somebody over there said, "They can be more effective." I will await that. I see that the budget has been cut quite dramatically in our northern development and mines, down substantially over the last two years, to $369 million. I see also some quite substantial cuts to the Attorney General's budget. That budget was $1 billion two years ago; it's now $650 million.

I say to people who believed when Mike Harris said, "This plan guarantees full funding for law enforcement and education spending in the classroom," first, for our local police organizations, the government has decided to cut its support dramatically to municipalities and add $660 million of cost. That is going to directly hit our policing budgets. Here in the province the two ministries that support this area, the Attorney General's ministry and the Solicitor General's ministry, are down substantially. The government members, I gather, are very proud of this budget. I have a very different view of it.

Finally, I'll talk a little bit about the state of the reporting of the finances of the province. The Minister of Finance yesterday said in answer to a question, "We've implemented all of the Ontario Financial Review Commission's recommendations." That simply isn't true; it's not even close to true. You haven't implemented those recommendations.

Furthermore, I will say now, the books of the province of Ontario are starting to not reflect the finances of the province of Ontario. That becomes a very serious situation, because the people of Ontario have a right -- to use the language of Premier Harris: "They're the shareholders. They deserve to have an accurate reflection of the finances."

The reporting now is starting to not reflect accurately the finances of the province. They have, this year and last year, set up several of what are called restructuring funds. They are partially legitimate, but in some cases we are now -- essentially they are slush funds being set aside, reported in one fiscal year and the actual legitimate expenditures taking place in a different year. That becomes a significant problem because the rating of this province used to be AAA. We've had three downgrades over the last five years. We are now --

Mrs Marland: How many over the last 10?

Mr Phillips: The member says, "How many over the last 10?" Actually, if you did any analysis you would find that Ontario, in 1990, had an absolute AAA rating. It was downgraded three times. It has not been upgraded yet. Why? Well, the worry about the fact that the province is making a tax cut. The way the province is beginning to report its finances will not be helpful.

I might add that I found it amusing -- I used the word "weird." Mike Harris talked about setting up his own income tax collection agency, either his own bureaucracy or get American Express to do it or something. That was weird. Are we really serious about setting up another bureaucracy and having two organizations out collecting income tax? It's wacko. If you want to make a threat, make a sensible, reasonable threat. I don't know where that came from, but you lose your credibility when you threaten somebody with a plan that is ludicrous.

To close, I would say the government members can be very proud of the budget. It is not my Ontario and I will gladly fight the budget and you in the next election.

The Acting Chair: Comments and questions?

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm pleased to comment, briefly obviously, on the speech by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. I just want to dwell on a couple of points.

The first is one of the points that he made, and I know he speaks to this particular point very credibly because of his business background. In particular, he was reminding us about the insanity of the tax cut this government has ventured upon and how just from a straight business sense it doesn't make any sense to go and borrow $25 billion to $30 billion to add to the public debt in order to fund the tax cut. It just boggles the mind to have this government continue to put this province through the kinds of cuts that we are being put through: cuts to our health care system, cuts to our school system, cuts to our social services system.


Mr Silipo: Members across are saying, "Who created the debt?" They are having no hesitation about adding to the debt. They're adding to the debt, and all for what? All to pay for the tax cut, all to pay for that tax cut that we know is not benefiting the average citizen in the province, because the few dollars in additional cuts that those families and individuals will get, they are more than paying for through the additional property taxes that they are paying and the additional taxes they're paying and will be paying through the variety of fees that will be added through one layer of government or another, increases in tuition fees, and the list goes on.

We saw in this budget more of the kind of smoke and mirrors that we have come to see this government do. In fact, we are seeing that in every area of the budget that we look at. One of the fundamental things that of course is missing from this budget is any real sense that any of this is going to do what Mike Harris promised during the last election when he said that all of this is being done in order to create 725,000 jobs. They know they will get nowhere near that target.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to respond to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. Normally I have a great deal of respect for the member and his financial background and knowledge, and they are very sound comments on occasion. However, I'm looking at what I'm reading in the papers -- these are other views -- and it's very, very supportive of what our Minister of Finance has brought forward: wide support for the 3.4% cut in personal income tax, something allowing people to stimulate the economy; most importantly, the support given and shown both in dollars and in the supporting arguments for health care and education, most importantly the co-op education tax credit to be maintained and recognition of the 15% tax credit for the computer animation courses that the member for Mississauga South spoke on.

More directly, I want to read a couple of things from a book that I think Mr Phillips should take some responsibility for, being their finance critic.

Balance the budget within four years: How was he going to do that? Ask yourself the question if you are watching today. Was he going to do it through tax cuts? How was he going to reduce and balance the budget? Ask the question.

Cut spending by $4 billion: How was he going to cut spending and balance the budget? Ask yourself the question, if you are watching today, what is he speaking about? There is no substance at all to what he said.

Cut taxes by 5%: That's right in their book; I'm reading it. I want him to refute, in his two minutes, what he's talking about.

Implement core education program changes: It's all here. Clearly he talked about education funding, and I'm just going to spend a minute on that.

The property taxpayer of Ontario should be satisfied because our finance minister said he's going to freeze that portion of the tax bill for three years and he's also going to be looking at what I call a tax cut for people who are working. Some 91% of the people who work in this province will receive a tax cut of 30% or more, putting the money back in the taxpayers' pockets.

This is a good budget.

Mr Sergio: I am delighted to take a few seconds and respond as well. I wish to congratulate the member for Scarborough-Agincourt on his time on the budget. Yes, he has addressed exactly the most salient points that are missing within the budget.

It is nothing to be proud of; it's not a document to be proud of. There is nothing for the people who need the most attention from the government, and it's very sad. It's very sad for the government side, it is very sad for the minister, that he has missed a wonderful opportunity to provide in the budget for the most needy in our society, for the most neglected, forgotten group, and that is our seniors. There is absolutely nothing, nothing at all, but of course he doesn't care. What he is blinded with is to carry out his agenda and provide a tax cut that got him into power, that they promised to the rich people, which they don't need, and they must proceed with that. It's most unfortunate.

When we look at this, we have really missed the boat here when they couldn't take into consideration the injured workers. Look what they did to the injured workers.

They are willing to give the money back to those who don't need it at the expense of the least fortunate: the poor, the unemployed, the injured workers, the students, the seniors. What provision are they making for those people? I think the minister had a wonderful opportunity, and he has missed the boat. He has really turned his back on those poor people.

Speaking of jobs, where are the jobs?

So there is nothing to be proud of, and the member is to be congratulated on his speech on the budget.

Mr Bisson: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, as always, did his homework in taking a look at this.

One of the things that he said at the very beginning, which I think is very indicative of what this budget is all about, was that a budget is about governments making choices. It seems to me that this government has been very consistent in the choices it has made. They have decided at every opportunity to give a break to those people in our society who can most afford either to pay taxes or to get services for themselves because they are well-to-do. In the case of other people -- people on welfare, people who are unemployed and looking for work, people on WCB or just the working poor -- the government have turned their backs on that group of people and said, "We are not going to assist you in the way that you were assisted in the past."

A case in point is the tax cut. If you take a look at the tax cut the government is giving, who does it benefit? That is the question you have to ask. It benefits those people with incomes above $65,000 to $70,000 a year.

But what's even more interesting is what they've done in this particular budget with the banks, because they've said, "If the banks go out to do what they should be doing in the first place, what is their job, to lend money to small businesses, to assist small businesses to create opportunities for investment and helping create jobs, we are going to give those banks a tax credit in order to earn back some of the money they've lent out to those small businesses."

I find it pretty interesting that the government made that choice, because it says, "Rather than trying to help those businesses by other means" -- such as we did when we were government, through programs like the heritage fund, which this government underspent by $18 million last year -- "we're going to give yet another tax break to the banks for doing what they should be doing in the first place, which is helping small businesses to get off the ground and get the capital they need."

I think budgets are about choices; this government has made its choice. It's with big business and it does not stand up for the individual working class.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt has two minutes to respond.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate all the comments. I'm like everybody else; the day after the budget you're flipping through the papers. This is May 7. I found, "Concerned Seniors Pay Property Tax the Easy Way. With the threat of megacity comes the possibility of increased property taxes. This will affect everyone, but the hardest hit will be seniors." They recognize what you're doing and this organization has sprung up and they've got an idea "that will leave the homeowners to enjoy the full benefits during their lifetime, knowing that it does not require repayment until they die."

The reason I point that out is there's no question the downloading, the dumping of costs on to property taxes is going to take property taxes up. Anybody who's looked at it agrees with that. The government, in the budget, decided to eliminate a $666-million municipal support grant. It's gone; January 1, 1998, it will go to zero. So who now has to pick it up? The municipalities.

Things like this struck me the day after the budget. That's the kind of thing that's going to happen. I remember Mike Harris spending millions of dollars of hardworking, decent, honest people's tax money for his -- remember that electrical thing? He's down in the basement, the wires are all over and he's saying, "I'm going to fix the wires." This budget does exactly the opposite: We've now got the wires all screwed up.

Finally, the auto workers in St Catharines are particularly upset because Mike Harris obviously has got it all wrong. They're not making $84,000; they're making a reasonable wage and working hard.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): There are so many things in this budget that I would like to have the opportunity to respond to but I'm going to focus my comments, at least initially, on children. I am most disturbed about what's happening in the are of child care, so I'd like to take some time to discuss that.

I must reflect on last year's budget. We have to start there. Over a number of years in this province previous governments, Tory, Liberal and New Democrat, have invested in increasing the access to high-quality, affordable, regulated child care in this province. Last year the finance minister, in his 1996 budget, made an announcement which to some people seemed that the government of the day was actually continuing that tradition and they were going to invest mightily in child care.

In fact, I have a copy of the finance minister's 1996 Ontario budget speech here and I'd like to refer to a couple of things he said with respect to his announcement last year on child care funding. In the section on assisting parents and their children, he says, "We will increase the province's support for child care, bringing it to the highest level in the history of the province." That's a very strong statement: "the highest level in the history of the province."


He goes on a couple of paragraphs later to actually make the announcement: "I am announcing today an enhancement of our child care funding that will provide over the next five years an additional $200 million in support over current levels. This year we will spend $600 million on child care -- the highest in Ontario's history."

You may wonder, members opposite, when the Premier and the finance minister stand up and answer questions and say, on a whole range of policy areas and program areas, "We're doing more than any other government in the history of this province, more than any other government in the history of this country." The next time the Premier gets up I'm sure he's going to say, "We're doing more than any other government in the history of the entire universe." Maybe he'll go to the world and then the universe, I don't know. The superlatives have been growing out of control, but the fact is that the facts don't support the superlatives.

Let me talk about what happened between last year and this year. Going into that 1996 Ontario budget, the amount allocated for child care in this province was $560 million. The finance minister made this announcement: $200 million over the next five years, the first $40 million of that to be in the 1996-97 budget year, bringing that up to $600 million, and I just read to you: "This year we will spend $600 million on child care -- the highest in Ontario's history."

Very shortly after that bold statement, that grandiose announcement, the Minister of Community and Social Services put a freeze on the new money and said, "We're not going to spend any of it until we're ready," and we know that up to last week still not a penny of that had been spent. That $40 million that was announced and heralded with much fanfare by the government was not spent; not a penny of that was spent last year. We know it's because the government has admitted they put a freeze on it.

The finance minister fully admits that was a broken promise and that money wasn't spent. In fact he has said on the public airwaves that it's a disappointment to him that they didn't spend that, that they broke that promise. The Premier, in answer to a question from me, said he was sorry that had happened. So that has been acknowledged. I just say that so there's no dispute in this House about that point.

If you look at the budget plan set out in the 1996-97 budget -- that's last year's budget, when he made that grand announcement of the new $40 million for last year and $200 million over the next five years -- you can see how that money was allocated. It was $40 million in 1996-97, the year just past. That money went into the base spending, so the base coming into this year's budget was $600 million. Another $40 million was to be added this year -- that's 80 million new dollars in total -- which would take it up to $640 million; another $40 million next year -- that's $120 million of the $200 million announced; in the fourth year it was to be taken up to $160 million -- that's another $40 million; and in the fifth year, the last year of his five-year announcement, another $40 million takes it up to the $200 million. You can see how the math works. It's quite straightforward and it's set out very clearly. We all knew what the expectation was.

We did know that the $40 million wasn't spent last year investing in children. We know that not one new child care space was created. We also know, by the way, as a result of the government's cuts to municipalities and downloading of costs to municipalities that have happened over the last year and a half, and cuts to programs like Jobs Ontario child care funding that were there, that municipalities, stretched as they are, have dropped their share of subsidies for a number of spaces, and therefore the province doesn't have to pay their 80% share and those spaces have disappeared in the province. There are over 9,000 subsidy spaces we've been able to account for that have disappeared. I suspect it's higher than that, but that's a number I feel comfortable and confident in using, even though I think the number is probably much higher.

As opposed to spending 40 million new dollars -- that didn't get spent -- and with the cancellation of those spaces and the municipalities no longer having their 20% share, it actually means that the government spent less. Not only was not one new child care space created, but we lost over 9,000 spaces.

Let's fast-forward from there to Tuesday of this week for the finance minister's new announcement. We know that the Minister of Community and Social Services has done a review in child care, and I'm most distressed at the proposals she has put forward for the reform of child care. I can assure you that those proposals will mean doing away with, dismantling the high-quality regulated child care system. It really does move it to the for-profit and to the informal sector, the unregulated sector, and I think you'll see that unfold over the next little while.

On Tuesday the finance minister made an announcement which has import in three different areas. One, it has import with respect to what it says about the level of funding that the government is providing to support parents and children seeking child care. Two, it has import with respect to what the government's intentions are in terms of how public funds are used to support child care -- is it in the regulated or the unregulated sector? Three, it has import with respect to how this government is dealing with the issues of child poverty. Those are the three things I would like to go through.

Let me start with the finance, with the numbers, and get that out of the way. I think the human impact is much more important, but you need to know and understand what the situation is with respect to the numbers. The finance minister did admit on Tuesday that he hadn't spent the $40 million, and what he said was, "I'm spending it now." He announced a new child care tax credit. That child care tax credit works something like this: Parents, families with children, whose income is under $40,000 will be eligible to apply for this refundable tax credit. There's a sliding scale in terms of how much they get back, under $40,000 down to $20,000 family income. Those under $20,000 family income will get the full benefit; there's not a sliding scale any more. That full benefit is $400 for a child.

I'll comment in a moment in terms of what value that will be and how that will work, but the rules of the system are that of course you have to spend the money and have the receipts and file them with your income tax in order to get the tax credit back. The minister said, "I'm sorry I didn't spend that $40 million in 1996, but I'm spending it today, in 1997." I was sitting here during the budget speech and I picked up the background document to go through it and it became very clear to me that that money is allocated to a 1997 tax credit.

Mr Speaker, I know you earn a salary like I do; I know you file your taxes and I know you file your taxes at the end of the tax year. Picture this: You're a family, you've just heard about this new child care tax credit that's available to you, you have child care expenses and you fit into the low-income group that is targeted. You have to go through the year, file your taxes -- when? In April, let's say, of 1998. You're going to get the money back some time following filing your taxes. The finance minister isn't going to spend that money to refund that tax credit to you until the 1998 fiscal year, the 1998 budget. I remind you that what he said to us in this House, what he said on CBC and what he said to other reporters was, "I'm sorry I didn't spend the $40 million in 1996, but I've spent it now, in 1997." The fact is not a penny of that gets spent until 1998.

He says, "I have to show it in this year's budget because of accounting rules." Fair enough; I don't have a problem with that. But don't try and con people by saying you're spending the money now; you're not. You're showing it as a projected expenditure, but it's not going to be spent until 1998. What does that mean? That means the $40 million announced last year and not spent won't be spent this year. None of that heralded announcement is actually going out to help children as we speak.

Beyond that, I remind you of the progression of that announcement: $40 million last year, growing to $80 million this year, to $120 million next year, to $160 million to $200 million. Remember that? It's in the budget plan. For two days in a row members who have been here during question period will know that I have asked the finance minister a very simple question: Is the rest of that money still in your budget plan?

You said the $40 million from last year is now going to be dedicated to the child tax credit; it's now no longer available for more subsidies. I understand that. That $40 million in the base budget, on top of the 1995-96 base budget of $560 million that took it up to $600 million is dedicated to the child tax credit, but this year the budget was supposed to be $640 million, because it grew from $40 million to $80 million this year. I asked him, "Where's that other $40 million?" I asked him: "What about the money next year, the $120 million? What about the $160 million?" I can't get an answer from him, and I'll tell you why: I suspect it's because that money has actually disappeared from the budget altogether. Rather than our hearing of a new additional program in this child tax credit, a portion of which is going to be funded out of $40 million which was earmarked for subsidies but has been transferred over, added to by $100 million as a result of a national child benefit program, instead of that being separate, that has replaced what had been announced before.

If I can total up what that means, there had been a budget of $560 million for child care when all of this started. The government announced they were adding 200 million new dollars to that. That takes you to $760 million, part of that now going to a tax credit, plus the $100 million from the national child benefit, the savings that accrue to the government in welfare costs that they are going to reinvest into this child tax credit. That takes you to $860 million.

I'd like you to take a look and see if you can find out if that's what the total spending on child care subsidies and child care tax credits is projected to be. In fact, that promise of $200 million is a broken promise. It has been reneged on; it has been pulled out. You've taken $40 million of it and transferred it over to the tax credit, and that remains, and you're funding the $100 million to enhance that from a totally separate pot of money that comes as a result of federal changes, $160 million.

There are two other areas that I want to speak to, but at this point, Mr Speaker, I move the adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker: It being 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 pm next Monday.

The House adjourned at 1802.