36th Parliament, 1st Session

L190 - Tue 13 May 1997 / Mar 13 Mai 1997














































The House met at 1330.




Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): The Minister of Education had no choice but to admit that he made a mistake in drawing up his proposed boundaries for school boards. His boundaries simply made no sense. Even the Tory members on the committee knew that. You simply cannot manage a board efficiently when you have boards that are larger than European countries, which was the case in northern Ontario.

The minister did some damage control and he fixed the worst of the mistakes, but what about the board boundaries that he didn't fix? Why did the minister not hear the concerns in northeastern Ontario? Why has he ignored the very real problems he created for the Hornepayne Board of Education and made their problem no better?

What about the rest of the province? Did the minister not hear the concerns of the London, Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford boards, which are to be amalgamated to become the third-largest district school board in Ontario? Did he not listen to any of the representations that said 300,000 students in the new Toronto board is too many to be manageable? What about the new Lanark, Leeds-Grenville, Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry board, which will be 11,759 kilometres in size and will cover very different and very distant communities? Leo Jordan was assured that board was going to be broken up.

This minister is doing damage control, but he has by no means fixed the mess he has created. Once again we see that the government is not interested in either good policy or good management. They want to ram their agenda through and slow down only when the negative reaction is overwhelming, and sometimes not even then.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This government is determined to download the cost of just about every provincial service it can to the municipal property taxpayers. The Minister of Transportation has repeatedly tried to justify his government's downloading of highway maintenance to municipal taxpayers by arguing that the roads he is transferring to municipal responsibility "no longer serve provincial purposes." In other words, they are really local traffic roads only.

If this is the reasoning the minister uses, how on earth can he justify including Highway 17, or Causley Street, through the town of Blind River in the list of roads to be downloaded to Blind River taxpayers? Highway 17 is the Trans-Canada Highway. It not only continues to serve provincial purposes, but indeed it serves national purposes. Highway 17 does not bypass Blind River. Causley Street is not a B-designated provincial highway; it is the main provincial highway. In fact, it's the main street for our nation of Canada. Highway 17, or Causley Street, through Blind River is not a local road.

The provincial government was responsible for paying 90% of the maintenance cost under a connecting-link agreement. Now the government has unilaterally cancelled the funding and downloaded 100% of the maintenance costs to Blind River taxpayers, even though Highway 17 continues to serve trans-Canada traffic. This road is not a local road. The provincial government --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): On April 10, 1997, 17 firefighters from Mississauga were recognized for 25 years of service in Ontario's 135th long service medal investiture.

First awarded in 1971, the Fire Services Long Service Medal is an expression of public appreciation for the dedication and hard work of Ontario's firefighters. In addition to the medal, each recipient receives a citation signed by the fire marshal of Ontario. Both full-time and volunteer firefighters can qualify for the medal.

The medal recipients in Mississauga's fire department were Bill Bayliss, Jerry Brouwer, Gary Denny, Cliff Evans, Leo Ewing, Frank Gabrek, Jim Herridge, Roy Jones, Gord MacCannell, Glen McAlpine, Mark McDonald, Kris Nicholls, Bob Read, Herb Sanderson, Bob Smith, Harold Taylor and Clay Waite.

On behalf of all residents of Mississauga, I am honoured to congratulate these 17 long-serving firefighters for their fortitude, valour and commitment to public service. Every day our firefighters risk their lives in order to protect us. We owe them our deepest admiration and gratitude.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): We know how this government is philosophically driven to privatize and outsource every possible service on which Ontarians have come to depend. This is the case even with abundant evidence that delivery of those services will suffer as a result.

Against all reason and common sense, the government refuses to take advantage of the expertise of its own civil service, which has always provided impeccable service to the people of Ontario. As a direct result, the government is permitting huge errors to be made at considerable cost to the taxpayers of Ontario. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars were spent to print last week's budget documents.

Forty-six thousand of those documents now have to be reprinted by the Ministry of Finance because hundreds of errors in transcription and translation make them virtually useless. These simple errors, that didn't need to happen, prove the government to be incompetent in what should be routine matters. What then can we assume of the bigger issues?


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Aujourd'hui je vais introduire une motion ici à l'Assemblée pour le comité plénier traitant du projet de loi 108. La raison pour laquelle je voudrais introduire cette motion est que le gouvernement de Mike Harris, le gouvernement conservateur de l'Ontario, est en train de faire des changements qui vont donner aux municipalités l'habilité de dresser les contraventions provinciales et fédérales. Le problème, simplement dit, est qu'en faisant le transfert de ces responsabilités aux municipalités, il n'y aura aucune garantie que les services en français seront respectés pour les francophones de la province faisant affaire avec ces questions.

J'introduis cette motion et je demande aujourd'hui à l'Assemblée, et spécialement au gouvernement conservateur, de reconnaître qu'ils ont une responsabilité en tant que gouvernement de faire sûr que tous les francophones de la province soient traités d'une manière égale, faisant affaire avec les services de la province, aux anglophones. Je demande spécialement au ministre délégué aux affaires francophones de l'autre bord de finalement ouvrir ses oreilles, ouvrir son esprit et commencer un peu d'écouter la communauté francophone et prendre sa responsabilité, en tant que ministre délégué aux affaires francophones, de s'assurer à ce que les francophones soient entendus au Cabinet de l'Ontario. Jusqu'à date, je crains beaucoup qu'à ce point-ci nous, francophones, nous trouvons dans une situation très délicate faisant affaire avec ce gouvernement parce que personne ne veut écouter les affaires qui concernent notre communauté.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I have the honour today of rising to recognize Mr Eric Holmden, a constituent of Northumberland, as the new chair of the Organization of Small Urban Municipalities, commonly known as OSUM.

OSUM is a major section of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which works to address the problems of small urban municipalities. Members of OSUM are those municipalities with populations of less than 50,000 and townships with an urban interest.

Mr Holmden has for many years actively contributed to his community, which includes service club work in the Campbellford Lions Club and also playing a significant role in local politics. He is currently a member of the Campbellford town council and has served for the past four years on the OSUM executive committee.

I'm sure that everyone in the Ontario Legislature joins with me in congratulating him on his new role as chair of the Organization of Small Urban Municipalities and extending to him best wishes for a most successful year. Mr Holmden's extensive experience will no doubt ensure this accomplishment as he works to represent the concerns of his greater community of the urban municipalities in Ontario.



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My statement is to the Minister of Health. Some very disturbing information has come to my attention regarding a very strange coincidence between the mailing list at the Ministry of Health and the one at the PC Party office.

A few weeks ago, a constituent of mine requested information concerning health care cuts from the Ministry of Health. Some time later, she received from the ministry the publication Putting the Patient First. Shortly thereafter, my constituent, someone who has no party affiliation and has never received direct mail from a political party, received a fund-raising letter from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

This begs the question: Does the Ontario PC Party have access to mailing lists at the Ministry of Health? I find it to be a very strange coincidence that someone who has never been a member of a political party, never received direct mail from a party, would receive a Tory join-the-party letter only days after making her request for information using the ministry's special 1-800 line.

Of course, what is even more surprising is the fact that the Ontario PC Party would think that anyone concerned about health care would even consider donating to the party that has shut down scores of hospitals across Ontario. Nevertheless, I wonder if the minister would offer this House an explanation as to how these mailing lists could contain such similarities.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): My statement today is on downloading. This Tory government's so-called revenue-neutral strategy for downloading responsibilities is anything but neutral. Communities all across Ontario are struggling to find a solution to the huge mess this government has created. In every riding municipalities and residents are getting more and more divided. Many feel the local municipalities shouldn't be doing the province's dirty work. After all, reducing the number of municipalities is a provincial wish, not a municipal one. Others fear that if they don't participate in an amalgamation study, they won't be in line for the $1-billion municipal transition fund.

Who is right? There is no way to know because this government is intentionally leaving us in the dark. What we know, though, is that the mega-week announcements will quickly add up to a huge shortfall. For example, Smooth Rock Falls, a municipality in my riding with a population of 2,100, is facing an estimated $485,000 shortfall and, to make up the difference, the municipality will have to raise taxes by about 30%.

When Minister Leach is saying that there will be no tax increase because of the downloading -- well, I cannot say that he is not telling the truth, because that wouldn't be acceptable in this House. However, I would certainly like to invite --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Cochrane North, it isn't acceptable in the House. That means you can't say it, so you have to withdraw it.

Mr Len Wood: I withdraw that particular comment. But people are very much concerned that Minister Leach --

The Speaker: Thank you.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise to remind members of the House today that the week before Victoria Day is designated as Royal Week. Organized by the Monarchist League of Canada, Royal Week is punctuated by numerous events that increase our awareness of and appreciation for our constitutional monarchy in Canadian history and contemporary life.

Royal Week culminates on Victoria Day, which, this year, commemorates the 178th anniversary of the birthday of Queen Victoria and the 71st birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada. In addition, we mark the 50th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip. We are also celebrating 500 years of the monarchy in Canada with the arrival of Giovanni Caboto here in 1497, an anniversary which the Queen herself will honour with her presence among us in June.

The Queen's birthday parade in Toronto, the largest outside of Britain, is ably run by the Ontario chairman of the Monarchist League, Gary Toffoli. Joining me in the House today is the Dominion vice-chairman, Arthur Bousfield. On behalf of the government of Ontario, I congratulate you, Mr Bousfield, and all of your members for your excellent work.

I invite all my colleagues in the House to join so many other Canadians on Victoria Day in celebrating our royal heritage and in renewing our pledge of loyalty to our sovereign. God save the Queen.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House I have today laid upon the table the 1996 annual report of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Premier and has to do with Ipperwash. We are tabling today some new evidence of government interference in the OPP operation at Ipperwash. The Premier has said on several occasions that the OPP operated with no government input, no direction or advice, that the OPP handled Ipperwash all on their own.

We now have a transcript between the commanding officer, Mr Linton, and his superior officer, the transcript taken about an hour and a half before the fatal shooting. It shows that the government, for whatever reason, decided to overrule the OPP wishes and to direct them on action.

Here is one quote from this transcript. The superintendent, Parkin, is saying, "It was our intention to get a certain type of injunction; however, they," the government, "went from that, that regular type of injunction to the emergency type which, you know, isn't really in our favour." He went on to say, "We" the OPP "want a little bit more time."

Premier, this is clear evidence of the government interference in the OPP operation.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): We did not interfere. Those are matters for the Attorney General and the OPP to work out. We accepted their advice and sought an injunction.

Mr Phillips: The evidence shows different. As I say, it's a transcript from the commanding officer indicating the OPP wanted to do one thing and the government directed otherwise.

I want to go on in the transcript to further evidence of the government interference in the OPP operation. Recognize, again, this was a government that had been in office for two months. The OPP clearly worried about this government. Rather than a hands-off approach, it is clear the OPP felt that they were under a microscope from the government.

Another quote from the superintendent. He goes on to say, "There was a rumour that was circulated, not from the OPP but from other government officials hanging around the OPP command post." He then says, "That rumour got to Queen's Park and then the Deputy Solicitor General's office, so there was concern that, you know, maybe we weren't doing the right thing." In other words, the superintendent is saying the government doesn't feel they're doing the right thing.

If the government and the cabinet were taking a hands-off approach, why would the commanding officer feel that, at the Deputy Solicitor General level, there was concern that maybe the OPP --

Hon Mr Harris: I can't speak for rumours at the staff level.

Mr Phillips: None of this is rumour. I am prepared to table today the transcript. None of this is rumour. This is all the OPP commanding officer and his superior. The issue at Ipperwash is clear to us. This was the first incident between your new government and the first nations. It was clear that this was going to be the way that you determined and defined how you dealt with the first nations. Unfortunately, it all got completely out of hand, Premier, and now you, personally, have to live with that. Ontario has a right to know the government's involvement in this very sad episode. Will you commit today to a public inquiry so all of Ontario can know exactly what happened that day?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the member is well aware that in opposition you can be irresponsible, quote rumours and draw innuendo from wherever you are. In government, unfortunately, you actually have to be responsible and you have to understand the justice system following its course. As I have said, the legal advice I have is that we should await the conclusion of those cases before taking any decision on inquiry.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Minister, yesterday we began the debate on your bill to eliminate tenant protection in Ontario, the tenant rejection legislation in Ontario. In the debate yesterday you suggested to this House that you're maintaining a system of rent control, that there's protection of rent control. Yet we have been faced in this House and in other places with quotes from you to the effect of -- I quote directly from a speech to the Ontario Home Builders' Association: "I've said it before and I'll say it again: Rent control has got to go."

Yesterday you said you're protecting tenants; that there will be rent control. And then on October 3, 1995, in this Legislature you said to the member across, "Yes, eventually we will be eliminating rent control." Then on May 13, 1996, in this House you said, "We will be eliminating rent control." Which is it, Minister? Have you protected tenants and kept rent control or have you eliminated it with Bill 96?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Rent control will be maintained for anyone remaining in their existing unit. When the tenant moves, the landlord would have the ability to negotiate a new rent with a new tenant. So rent control remains from that aspect. When the new tenant moves in, the rent control goes back on, as the member will knows.

However, on new construction, on new buildings that will be put up as a result of this legislation and other moves this government is making, new buildings will be exempt from rent control. From a standpoint of rent control being off any rental accommodation, that is correct. So will rent control go? Yes, rent control will go off any new construction forever. Will rent control remain to protect existing tenants? Yes, it will.

Mr Duncan: Minister, you are explaining nothing but a smokescreen to remove every protection that tenants in the province of Ontario have. You have a flawed piece of legislation. You have a piece of legislation that doesn't address any of the issues you say you're addressing. Yesterday in this House you said that your bill will increase investment in housing in Ontario.

I'd like to quote from the Lampert report, your own report, which says: "The majority of landlords and landlord groups that appeared before the committee concur: Scrapping rent controls alone will not encourage the building of new rental stock.... The New Directions policy will not create new housing."

You have said you're protecting tenants, that you're going to create investment, yet in your own words you're eliminating rent control. In the words of every major group in this province that develops affordable housing, there will be no new housing stock. Will you admit now that you're not only not protecting tenants, you're rejecting tenants and doing nothing for affordable housing?

Hon Mr Leach: Nothing could be further from the truth. We are protecting tenants, as we said. The existing rent control formula, the rent control formula that was developed by the previous government, will remain in place. That is a 2.8% rent cap this year, as long as they remain in their existing accommodation. Once a tenant moves, the landlord would have the ability to negotiate a new rent with a new tenant, and as I said, on any new construction there will be no rent controls.

You're absolutely right: Will the change in the Rent Control Act promote new construction? By itself, it will not. But with all the other favourable steps this government has taken, it will.

Mr Duncan: We would submit that the only formula in this bill is a formula to intimidate tenants and force them out of their homes or jack up their rents so high that they can no longer afford to live there. By government's own statistics, in this province, particularly in our large urban centres, many more people pay more than 30% of their income than can afford to. Minister, your formula is a formula for leaving them unprotected. Your bill will not -- not -- create investment.

How do you propose to this House and to the vulnerable tenants in this province that you will protect their interests once there's no rent control? Many groups have said, Lampert included, that the market will not bear the current rental rates, that rents can go up as much as 3000%. Laugh, Minister; it's your report that said that.

Why don't you admit your bill is flawed, that you're abandoning tenants, and get back on track in this House with a bill that will protect tenants in this city and right across Ontario?

Hon Mr Leach: I do find that quite humorous, to say that rents are going to go up 3000%. Get serious and get real. If you want to talk about it, the Todd report found that most rent control units are close to market levels right now. Keeping rents artificially controlled protects units, not tenants. We want to protect tenants.

Now he's going to say it affects low-income people. Let's quote Mr John Sewell, that leader of democracy, who said: "Many people assume that rent control is there to protect lower-income tenants in the units they rent. It's the upper-income tenants who get the most benefit from rent control."

The changes we're making in rent control will protect tenants. It will also generate investment in new buildings. It's something that has been long overdue. Your party recommended that the same changes, or many of the same changes, to the rent control bill take place in your little red book.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Health. In Tuesday's budget, the Minister of Health claimed that the Conservative government is spending more on patient care. He tried to pass off the cost of laying off nurses and the cost of shutting down hospitals as funding for patient care. On the same day, he axed the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel, the body which is supposed to help laid-off health care workers find new work in the health care system. On Thursday we found out that you actually cut patient care in this province in order to find the money to pay for the physicians' agreement.

Minister, with the patient care budget being cut and with 11,000 health care workers losing their jobs in the year, why did you do away with the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): That's the most bizarre question in the world. First of all, he gives no example of cutting patient care, but he says money to doctors so they can look after patients isn't patient care. OHIP money is patient care. Doctors use the money to render services to patients. They're a significant part of the health care system -- news over there.

With respect to HSTAP, there's not one reason in the world why HSTAP should dissolve given that we've asked it to move to highest quality, best price and be one of the many brokers out there that hospitals can use part as of this $2 billion extra money from the treasury to help them restructure. Highest quality, best price. If HSTAP is as good as they're telling you they are, as good as they're telling me they are, there's not one reason in the world why they shouldn't continue to be in business.

Mr Hampton: The minister continues to try to miss the point, and the point is this: There is no new money in the health care system for patient care. You're taking money from elsewhere in the system and using it to pay for the physicians' settlement. There is no new money; a significant portion of that money will come from other areas of the ministry which would have devoted their funding to patient care.

You can't use money required to lay off nurses for patient care, you can't use money required to shut hospitals for patient care, and you can't use money required to increase doctors' incomes for patient care. The money can only be used once; it can't be recycled three times.

The point is that out of all this, out of all your cuts, literally thousands of health care workers are losing their jobs. You've also done away with the one body that could connect laid-off health care workers with new opportunities in the community sector or elsewhere. How are you going to coordinate this? How are laid-off health care workers going to find new jobs elsewhere in health care when you've destroyed the body that was supposed to do that?


Hon Mr Wilson: I agree with the honourable member that we're going through a period where the health care workers in this province, like other provinces, and like Britain and Australia and the rest of the world, need our understanding, but to give a monopoly to one agency called the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel is an insult to every community college in this province, every university, every educational institution, every private sector training group, every consulting firm that offers retraining and educational services in this province.

To give a monopoly to one agency might have been your style of government, for whatever reasons you had, but this government, when there's $2 billion to be spent on restructuring above the new level of health care of $17.8 billion -- a record for this province to be spent on patient services. The fact is that we're saying to HSTAP, "There's not one reason you can't become as competitive as community colleges, as competitive as private sector agencies, to help broker retraining services in this province."

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Minister, the issue here is the coordination and the registry of jobs. That's the important issue. Last month alone 1,134 health care workers were laid off from hospitals in Ontario, and over 10,000 have been laid off during the last year because of your budget cuts and because you made hospitals put them in place before you got to restructuring. We're talking about real people here, people like Debbie Linton from Windsor, who only agreed to her severance package because she was assured that HSTAP would be there.

These employees need the job registry. They need a coordinated effort to find them jobs in the other sectors that are opening as a result of restructuring. What you've done is to destroy their opportunities. They want to know where the retraining money is in your restructuring funds. They want to know where the coordination is and where the registry is going to be. They want to know, do you really have a plan or are you just flying by the seat of your pants in terms of this, the way you are with everything else in health care?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're working very closely with the Ontario Hospital Association to make sure there isn't just one agency that 208 hospitals have to buy their services from, but that everybody else who is in this business has an opportunity --

Mrs Boyd: The employers; give it to the employers.

Hon Mr Wilson: I don't think one agency can handle the hundreds of millions' of dollars worth of retraining and educational costs --


Hon Mr Wilson: If HSTAP takes the opportunity to compete with all the other agencies out there, there's no reason it wouldn't be the number one choice of hospitals. We're talking about freedom of choice for hospitals to facilitate their employees moving to the new jobs being created in health care as the system expands and as we put new money into the system.

The registry, I agree with the honourable member, is an important part. We've already said that will be preserved. It doesn't have to be just in the hands of one agency. There are other ways to ensure we have a province-wide registry so that all people have access to it.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Premier. On February 21 your Minister of Transportation said that the problem of wheels flying off trucks and killing people was "a very serious problem that shows no signs of improving and one that can't wait any longer." He said, "The dramatic increase in truck wheel separations and the seriousness of this offence has prompted me to move forward on this matter alone."

That was February 21. The minister then introduced a truck safety bill on Monday, February 24, saying he wanted it passed by Thursday, February 27. You have now spent the last three and a half months sitting on that bill while the wheels keep flying off trucks.

Premier, you've got a majority. You ram legislation through this House all the time. Can you tell us why in February truck safety was a big priority for your government and now, all of a sudden, it doesn't matter? Where's your bill?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I am sure the minister would like a chance to respond, or perhaps the House leader. But let me tell you something on behalf of this government and this cabinet and this caucus and this minister. Nobody has taken a more aggressive stance than this minister has on truck safety, leading Canada, leading jurisdictions, I would argue, across North America. Nobody has done more than he has done.

Yes, there was a window where we could have had that bill debated. Both opposition parties, as I recall, wanted hearings. Both wanted hearings. Now one has said they don't want hearings and the other has said they do. But there was a window in the previous session, even though that session was for other purposes, to deal with one part of an extensive, comprehensive truck bill. You turned that down. You refused that offer.

Now we are faced with that bill, plus a comprehensive bill to be introduced shortly that will require hearings, and we accept that process. So this bill will become law when --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much, Premier.

Mr Hampton: We just got an admission from the Premier that all the nonsense, all the bragging back in February is just that and nothing more: a bunch of hot air. You came forward with a half-baked bill, you and the minister went out and told everyone about how much you care about truck safety, and you've done nothing, absolutely nothing. You've had three and a half months when you could have brought this bill forward and had it passed, and you've done absolutely nothing about it. It was a bunch of hot air we heard.

I am going to give you another chance, Premier. We'll debate the bill today. We'll debate the bill tomorrow. You bring this legislation in and we'll debate it and we'll get it through the House. If you care about truck safety, bring it in the House now. Bring it in today.

Hon Mr Harris: I want to say, on behalf of the minister and the House leader, that you had a chance to move forward. You had a chance to work with us, to work in cooperation, to do one piece of the truck safety bill, and you refused it at that time. Let me say I'm not imputing motive. I think your argument at the time was that it needed hearings, needed thought.

You've called it a half-baked bill. I don't think it's a half-baked bill; I think it's a very serious bill, and I don't know why you would refer to it as half-baked. But you asked for hearings and we accepted that advice. We said, "Yes, we will have hearings."


The Speaker: I would ask the opposition members to come to order. The leader of the third party and the member for Cochrane North, please come to order. Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: You asked for hearings. This is not a government that jams through any legislation. If you want hearings, we have hearings. If you want debate, we have debate. You're getting your way.



Hon Mr Harris: As I indicated, and I think the record will show, we've probably had more hearings and more debate on legislation than any other government on record. But I want to say this: We had two sessions with two breaks. We had the session of January, February and March, and then we had the spring session. We have two truck safety bills. We had an opportunity to separate them out. We lost that opportunity -- for whatever reason; you wanted hearings then -- but we still have an opportunity and time we believe to debate one comprehensive truck safety bill. This bill will be included in it as we were not able to get it through in the last session, and we will have hearings as you wish.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The Premier is trying to tell us his is a government that doesn't jam things through this House. We're starting to feel like burnt toast, you've jammed so much stuff through this House. Come on, give your head a shake. We've seen you on Bill 103, we've seen you on Bill 26, we've seen you on Bill 7, we've seen you on a whole bunch of legislation hijack democracy in this House and jam all --


The Speaker: Order. Member for Cochrane South.

Mr Bisson: Listen, Premier, you're the government. You're the person who decides when legislation gets called in this House. That's why you were elected. That's the majority you have. I'm going to ask you once again, really simply, the same question I asked the Minister of Transportation yesterday. We asked on Thursday and we asked yesterday for unanimous consent to deal with the legislation forthwith. Will you accept that we have unanimous consent in order to deal with this very important legislation today?

Hon Mr Harris: I think the voters in 1995 concurred with the former Premier's daughter that you were toast and why you were toast, and it's the policies that you brought in over the previous four and a half years that explain why you as a government are toast.

Secondly, let me say this: We had a legislative window to do two truck safety bills this spring, one in the first session, one in the second. We lost that opportunity. We regret that. Clearly, for whatever reason -- and I accept the fact that you wanted hearings on it -- your leader thinks it was a half-baked bill. Your leader says it's a half-baked bill. He didn't like it and you wanted hearings on it. That's fine. Now we will have hearings on that and we will have hearings on a more comprehensive truck safety bill, and we will do that in this session. That will be introduced and debated at that time. That's a logical way to deal with legislation. I thank you for your offer of support to deal with the large bill.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Premier as well, because he's the person with the ultimate power in the government. In the past several months, for instance, people have been killed or injured on the highways of this province by flying truck wheels. In February, you will recall, with a good deal of bluster and fanfare, your Minister of Transportation called that press conference and said he wanted to proceed with legislation to deal with the matter.

At every House leaders' meeting I have brought forward the issue of Bill 125 and asked the government when it wished to deal with the legislation dealing with truck safety. Your government has refused to call the bill for processing.

Today you want to debate a bill ending rent control in Ontario, much to the distress of seniors in this province and other vulnerable people. You have three years left to kill rent control. The truck wheels can kill people today, any hour, any minute of any day.

Premier, you have an undertaking from both opposition parties, a public undertaking, that this bill will pass extremely quickly. Will you call this bill today for consideration and passage in this House?

Hon Mr Harris: Aside from the fact that most agreements we've negotiated as House leaders have not been lived up to by one party or another, and I can appreciate from the Liberal viewpoint that it's mostly been the New Democratic Party, what we are interested in now, having lost the window for one piece of truck safety, is dealing with the comprehensive bill. That will be introduced shortly. I accept your commitment to deal with the whole bill in a comprehensive way. I accept, as the House leader and the minister have, your desire to have hearings. We will do that. In the meantime, let's get on with getting construction going, let's get on with protection for tenants, let's get on with some of the other legislation. We will deal with truck safety, as we planned to do, this session.

Mr Bradley: Premier, clearly your Minister of Transportation is embarrassed. He's forced to make up stories in the scrum outside. He's forced to give less-than-desirable answers in this House. Clearly he wants to proceed with this legislation. Every party in this House wants to proceed with this legislation. People are beginning to believe that some powerful interests opposed to this legislation have gotten to you and you are now preventing the Minister of Transportation from proceeding with this bill.

Premier, people could be killed on the highway today, any hour, any minute of this day. This is a danger to the people of this province. The opposition is prepared to pass this bill today in the Legislative Assembly, and yet you for some reason seem to want to withdraw that bill, to not proceed with that bill, but to move forward with other legislation that you have three years to pass. Premier, will you follow what the member for Windsor-Walkerville has suggested yesterday, that we proceed with this bill immediately, that we pass this bill and that we deal with truck safety in this province in the interests of all parties and all people in this province?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me say this: You had 10 years, five years in your party, five years in that party, when you did absolutely nothing. You have private members' hour where you refuse to bring anything forward. You had an opportunity in the last session. You had an opportunity to bring it forward and deal with it. You had an opportunity to deal with it quickly. You refused. You said you wanted hearings; we said: "Yes. We understand why you like hearings. We know that." So now we're here with one session and we have two bills. This isn't the only bill. We have two bills brought forward by probably one of the most progressive ministers of transportation, certainly in the last 11 or 12 years around this province.

We are asking for your cooperation for this bill. We are asking for your cooperation with the comprehensive bill that will contain this. We are asking for your cooperation with the hearings. We're asking to get this legislation through the Legislature and on with it this spring. But don't come back here after --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier. New question.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. The national forum on health, the Premier's Council on Health, Well-being and Social Justice and countless other research studies have presented compelling evidence that the number one determinant for poor health is poverty.

I was sorry you weren't in the press room this morning to hear the Street Nurses Network relate real-life cases concerning seniors, the disabled, single-parent families and youth, showing how your government's cuts to social assistance, subsidized child care, affordable housing, addiction services and home care services are plunging those unfortunate people into increasingly poor health. Minister, these cases illustrate that your government's policies are making the health status of vulnerable people more and more precarious and the costs of your policies are shifting social costs into the health system.

You tell us all the time that you want to improve the health system. How committed are you to improving the health of individual Ontarians, not just the efficiency of the health system?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): One of the greatest determinants of health is the opportunity for employment and to have a job. This government's record is extremely good in that area and we're heading to more jobs for the people of Ontario. Second, we've managed to do that in a way by protecting priorities, the priorities we took to the people in the election in 1995, and we have stuck to those priorities and exceeded our funding levels in health care.

You left this health care budget at $17.4 billion. We're up to $17.8 billion in operating dollars and $2 billion more to get us through the restructuring and fully protect and enhance patient services. Today, for example, we announced $25.1 million -- Mr Palladini and I were up at Villa Colombo -- for community-based services. That brings up to $54 million in home care services in the last 20 months, new money put into the home care services, much of what the people at the press conference for street people talked about today.

The fact of the matter is that we're putting unprecedented new money into expanded services in Metro Toronto and right across the province. Our reinvestment strategy is working, and rather than talking about --

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

Mrs Boyd: That is scant comfort to the people we heard about this morning: the elderly woman who's all alone and confined to bed who gets two hours of service a day; the native homeless man who can get expensive acute care in a hospital when he self-mutilates, because of the pain in his background, and gets expensive addiction counselling when he's in desperate straits, but can't find a place to live and can't get enough food to eat; or about street youth whose potential is disappearing.

One of the nurses made a very clear comment, and I think she's right. She said: "Nowhere is the absurdity of Band-Aid approaches better exemplified than in this government's approach. Real common sense tells you that living in poverty and fear and isolation is hardly compatible with being healthy."

Minister, the policies of all these other ministers are impacting on your ministry. Will you commit today to look at these suggestions from the Street Nurses Network which tell you that your job is not just to improve the efficiency of the health system but to work with these other ministers to improve the determinants of health.

Hon Mr Wilson: If the honourable member truly believed in the five determinants of health, then I ask the honourable member, why did you rack up a $100-billion debt in this province which restrains the ability of government to respond?

We've set priorities. Other governments threw up their hands when they were faced with such problems. They threw up their hands. We said, "No, we'll set priorities, we'll get the books in order and at the same time we'll pump more money into health care," and that's what we're doing.

The previous government --

Mrs Boyd: You've abandoned the vulnerable.

Hon Mr Wilson: I don't need any lectures from this member. They kept talking about $23.5 million in a community investment fund. You didn't flow one dollar to help mental health services. We flowed the $23.5 million. It's all gone out now and there are new case management services --

Mrs Boyd: It was announced two years ago.

Hon Mr Wilson: Yes, you did a great job of announcing it; you didn't flow one dollar, not one single dollar.

How can you have a $100-billion debt in the province and not spend any new money on community mental health, no beefing up of home care services, not one new nursing home bed added to the system in 10 years? You tell me what you did with all the money when you racked up $100 billion. It sure didn't go into services for people.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. Last Tuesday in the budget the Minister of Finance announced a number of tax credit and tax reduction programs; in fact, there were 20. One of the programs he announced was a specific tax credit program for the book publishing industry. Minister, will you share with the House and the people of Ontario the reasons for the creation of this program?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Thank you to the member for Hamilton Mountain for his question. The budget was really about government doing business differently. It's about leaving more money in the hands of the creative entrepreneurs. They're the ones who create the jobs and develop new talent, not government. The previous loan guarantee program for book publishing simply fostered dependence and a sense of entitlement in government. It didn't make economic sense to provide loan guarantees to companies and then turn around and provide them with additional grants to pay the interest on those guarantees.

What Mr Eves's program will do, and what his announcement last week said, is it will reward those publishers who invest their money in the development of first-time Canadian authors. That's good sense; that creates jobs.

Mr Pettit: I'm always pleased and I know the people of Hamilton Mountain are always pleased to know that taxpayers' money is being used more wisely, especially after the fiscal farces performed by the two previous governments.

Minister, can you explain to the House some of the expected results of this initiative and some of the reaction you have received from the publishing industry?

Hon Ms Mushinski: We expect that the tax credit announcement will encourage 60 to 70 Canadian-owned, Ontario-based publishing firms to publish the work of about 300 first-time Canadian authors this year. In fact, Margie Wolfe, who is the president of the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario, said: "It will help us to introduce the next generation of Margaret Atwoods and Michael Ondaatjes to Canadians and readers throughout the world." Jack Stoddart, the president of the Association of Canadian Publishers, said about the budget, "The tone of the speech indicated that they're looking to create new industries and the new credits should generate new publishing business in the province."

That's what Mr Eves's budget was all about, creating new business, creating new jobs.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Minister of Health and it concerns new policy that the finance minister has been making in east Parry Sound. I'm delighted to report to the health minister that in recent days I've been to that wonderful community of Burk's Falls. I'm here to proclaim the good news of Burk's Falls, where he, Jim Wilson, and more importantly his colleague the Minister of Finance, the local member, Ernie Eves, have reopened Burk's Falls Hospital. I'm delighted. I'm absolutely delighted that in the realm of the Minister of Finance we have a very clear exception to the hospitals policy that's been imposed on the rest of us in Ontario.

My question is, having proclaimed the good news of Burk's Falls, will the people in Arnprior and Barry's Bay, in Winchester and Walkerville, in Petrolia and Meaford, have the benefit of the same kind of small-hospital policy that you, and more importantly your colleague the number two revolutionary, Ernie Eves, have happily applied to the east Parry Sound community health centre?


Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I've already answered this question many times. Burk's Falls, prior to the NDP coming to office, and while your government was in office, Mr Conway, had 15 beds. It was considered a small hospital. It's still on the books today as a small hospital except the NDP took all the beds away.

The case has been made. There was a community task force put together in 1995-96, I believe. It once again, for the umpteenth time, recommended that half a dozen beds should be back into that community to service people who have no other real alternatives. The doctors asked for it and the task force asked for it, so we're simply putting six -- they're not full-fledged hospital beds; they're a transitional type bed -- back into Burk's Falls. It makes good sense for rural Ontario.

Mr Conway: I've read the answer you provided two weeks ago and let me tell you, I'm not allowed by parliamentary rules to tell you what I thought about your answer to Ms Boyd. I've been to Burk's Falls in recent days. I know exactly what you and the Minister of Finance have done. I, for one, applaud the local member because he told you and your Health Services Restructuring Commission to go to hell.

What I want to know on behalf of the people in Barry's Bay and Arnprior, and yes, in Petrolia and Walkerton and Meaford and Port Colborne and all of those other small hospitals and their communities, are they going to be allowed the kind of treatment that has saved Burk's Falls Hospital?

Ernie Eves has said he's not going to accept your process and your policy, not just in terms of small hospitals in east Parry Sound, but I might add in home care policy. He told you where to go with your CCAC in Parry Sound, and he was right there too. So for all those other small communities from Arnprior to Petrolia, from Barry's Bay to Meaford, it's Burk's Falls or bust. Will they get the same treatment from you and your pal the Minister of Finance?

Hon Mr Wilson: No area of the province is outside the jurisdiction of the Health Services Restructuring Commission. That is very clear in the law.

Secondly, this member has a lot of gall. His government, when they were in office, sent 34 district health councils out there to do some 60 studies with absolutely no benchmarks, no policy, no policy guidelines, for rural Ontario, so no wonder the NDP came in and closed the hospitals and took all the beds out of Burk's Falls, because there was no rural health care policy.

For the first time we have set up an expert panel. That policy will be ready soon and the commission and others looking at voluntary restructuring, as we see in parts of the province, will for the first time have some benchmarks, some policy guidelines, and we won't have DHCs out there in 34 different places doing 34 different things. That's good news for rural Ontario, it's good news for Burk's Falls and it's good news for --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. New question.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Following up to the Minister of Health from the previous question, I would like to ask the minister, is he aware -- I suppose he is -- that Women's College Hospital released its response to the health sector restructuring commission yesterday? Its response illustrates once again the flexibility this institution is willing to bring to the issues posed by your government's cost-cutting machine.

Women's College Hospital has put forth yet another possible solution, and it's a good one, to maintain a critical focus on women's health which achieves the cost savings you require.

Minister, will you intervene, like you have for the Minister of Finance, like you have for rural areas, like you have for Montfort Hospital, and save Women's College Hospital?

Hon Mr Wilson: Mr Speaker, the honourable member would be asking the honourable member to break the law, and you should rule that out of order. That is not allowed in a Parliament. You are not allowed to coerce another member into breaking the law. The law is clear that this commission is at arm's length.

Women's College has put forward -- I saw the media reports too; I don't have a copy of their proposal, but they're welcome to send me a copy of their proposal. Women's College is doing what it should be doing during this period of time, along with other hospitals. It's responding to the interim direction from the commission and the commission will make the final determination.

Ms Churley: I wonder if the minister is going to send in the police and have me arrested today for breaking the law, for asking the minister to defend women's health in Ontario. That's what I ask the minister to do today, and you can no longer hide behind this commission. More and more evidence is showing up every day about that. You have intervened all over the place, I think for good reason. The same principles apply here.

Minister, we are talking about women's health, and women make up 52% of the population. The evidence is there right in front of you. There are differences in drug treatment, diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and a treatment related specifically to gender. These differences have been ignored far too long by the medical community. You now have the potential, if you let the commission go ahead with this, to destroy the potential for further research and clinical procedures as have been pioneered by Women's College Hospital.

Minister, will you -- and I ask you again; I am not breaking the law -- save Women's College Hospital? Because the women of this province will not put up with your --

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: The premise I believe of the honourable member's question is -- she asked the question, "What have you done for women's health?" Well, the question could be asked, "What did you do for women's health?"

The honourable finance minister announced last week $6 million for a new women's health institute. That grows to $10 million. It's what the interim recommendations of the commission have recommended. Those are significantly more research dollars for women's health programs than have ever been put in place in this province or any other jurisdiction in Canada.

On March 8 the vice-president of research at the University of Toronto, who is cross-appointed to Women's College, said, "If the province accepts Thursday's recommendation by the Health Services Restructuring Commission to earmark $8 million to $10 million annually for research on women's health issues it would represent a significant improvement in the area." So said Cecil Yip, vice-dean of research in the school's medical facility.

"You are seeing an expansion in terms of research on women's health," Yip said. "It's about five times the amount they have ongoing there at Women's College right now. It will be really boosted" --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): My question is to the minister responsible for natural resources. Recently, at the 17th annual Kiwanis live release walleye derby --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Riverdale, come to order, please. Member for Riverdale, I warn you to come to order.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have to take the chair.

The Speaker: Then you'd better come to order.


The Speaker: Is nothing sacred? That's what I ask. Member for Quinte.

Mr Rollins: Recently, the 17th annual Kiwanis rural walleye live release fishing derby was held in my riding in the beautiful Bay of Quinte. Despite the brutal weather, over 5,000 people registered for that weekend. Anglers in that area of the sports fishermen play a significant role in the economy of my riding. Could you please tell me, Minister, what you're doing with the fees you're collecting from the many anglers in the Quinte area?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member for Quinte for the question. It is an important question. But first, I'd like to express our appreciation to the tournament organizers. We're pleased they had such a successful tournament, enjoying the fishing opportunities in Quinte.


The member raised a good question that for years anglers and others have asked, that the dollars they spend for licences and other fees go towards wildlife and natural resource management and fishery improvement in this province. Past governments have said this was impossible. As you know, the Mike Harris government has made it possible. They've created a special purpose account to collect all the fishing fees to be used for fish and wildlife management inside the province. This was a commitment we made in the 1995 election and I am pleased to say that we've honoured it and it's working quite well.

Mr Rollins: I know that you collect significant revenues from these fishing and hunting fees. What types of programs are you funding with these dollars?

Hon Mr Hodgson: It's very important that we hear from people who are involved in the outdoors, the people who hunt and fish. For that reason, I created the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board comprising 11 individuals throughout the province to give advice on how this money should be put to good use and how we can improve our programs within the Ministry of Natural Resources.

We've already put the money to good use and a number of their recommendations have been followed, including putting in more money than ever in the province's history to the community fisheries involvement program, commonly referred to as CFIP, and the community wildlife involvement program, referred to as CWIP. These programs support dedicated individuals and groups who are active in areas such as fish culturing, stocking projects, spawning bed restorations and stream projects. We've also increased the stocking of chinook salmon and rainbow trout in Lake Ontario and have re-established the Ontario coho program, which was cancelled back in 1991.

We are active in a number of other areas, as well as working to promote a new interest in fishing and conservation throughout Ontario. I thank you very much for the opportunity to inform the House.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health, although with some trepidation because I really would rather have the Minister of Finance, who seems to be more effective in terms of dealing with health matters in this province.

I'd like to ask you, Minister, about your record as the putative Minister of Health, particularly towards the people who work in the health system in this province. In your actions in enacting the Harris hospital cuts, another $435 million this year, you personally, abetted by the Premier, have laid off thousands of nurses and health care workers. Now, after having done that, you've taken away the only labour adjustment program that they have.

Today, you need to stand in your place and explain to Ontarians how you are disrespecting nurses. Right in Nurses Week, you've taken away the one labour adjustment program they have. You've stolen that from them. You need to stand in your place today and say how much money you are going to put towards retraining, which you guarantee, and who the nurses and the health care workers that you've unemployed, that you've sent pink slips to, turn to for help.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): It's interesting. I started Nurses Week by having a round table with the nursing associations in this province, hosted Monday morning by the registered nurses' association. They presented me with a framed poster commemorating Nurses Week and we had nothing but a positive hour and a half together, including a discussion on HSTAP.

They agreed that there shouldn't be one monopoly, that with the amount of change that is occurring in the system there should be a number of avenues open for both employers and employees to receive these benefits and the retraining allowances and yes, a central registry.

I don't know where the honourable member is making up these fears. They are not coming from the registered nurses' association, the nursing home association, the non-profit homes association. I will get the list of the 15 or 16 groups represented. This morning I met with region 3 of the Ontario Hospital Association, which is all of the Metro Toronto hospitals, at a downtown hotel -- a packed room, extremely positive. They were very appreciative of the finance minister's and the Premier's understanding in terms of setting aside huge amounts of money for restructuring.

Mr Kennedy: It's almost with regret that I follow up that question because that is such a sad answer in the face of the concerns of people in this province. It doesn't in the least start to address what people like Phil Walke are feeling. Mr Walke accepted a severance deal on March 26 from Sick Kids' Hospital. Sick Kids' Hospital is a hospital on which you personally enacted a Harris hospital cut of $26 million. You precipitated his unemployment. He was given this letter and in this letter it said he would have access to a labour adjustment program, which you've just cancelled.

When he tried to find out about what to do next, he called your office. Your office didn't know what the plan was and told him to contact the OHA. The OHA didn't know what the plan was and told him to call your office.

Mr Walke and 2,000 people are stuck in the system now, but more important to the people of Ontario, they want to know why you're disrespecting nurses and other health care professionals. What are you going to do for them?

Hon Mr Wilson: The Health Sector Training and Adjustment Panel has every ability in the world to stay in the business it's in today. It has to recognize that there are other agencies out there. It has to recognize that many of the large hospitals are equipped to purchase these services directly from community colleges and they don't need to spend money on middlemen or middle layers of bureaucracy. They're quite efficient. They know what their employees want and need. They're closest to their employees. They'll work with their employees. The hospitals can do that very directly. Hospitals are very large institutions. A lot of them don't need a broker to access services.

To have a monopoly is never healthy. Hospitals have said that. The nursing home association has said that. All of the contracts, all of the letters of intent that are held by people from HSTAP will be --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask for unanimous consent for the government to call forward Bill 125 so that we can debate this very important legislation today.

The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South is seeking unanimous consent to call forward Bill 125 for debate today. Agreed? No. I heard a no.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that Mr Fox and Mr Young exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business; and that the House will commence at 11 am on Thursday, May 15, to discuss ballot item number 77 only.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Dispense? Carried.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "Whereas improper catch and release methods of sport fishing have long-lasting effects on any given body of water; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing netting during spawning season, which destroys spawning beds; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing any size of fish to be retained; and

"Whereas sport fishing of Lancaster perch and other breeds in the greater Cornwall area greatly benefit local tourism, fishing and the overall economy and will continue to do so if managed properly;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the Ministry of Natural Resources to impose a seven-inch size limit on fish allowed to be kept, not allow netting during spawning season and also to reopen closed provincial parks in the area to encourage tourism and ensure vibrant long-term sport fishing in our area of eastern Ontario."

I fully agree with this petition and I affix my signature to this petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to take away the protections of the Rent Control Act; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to allow a landlord to charge a tenant who moves into an apartment whatever the landlord can get away with; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to raise the limit of how high rents can increase for all tenants; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to make it easier to demolish or convert existing affordable rental housing; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario is proposing to take away the rent freeze which has been successful in forcing some landlords to repair their buildings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to keep the existing rent laws which provide true protection for tenants in place."

I will affix my name to this petition.



Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from Pauline Johnston from the Grey Women Teachers' Association.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas improper catch and release methods of sport fishing have long-lasting effects on any body of water; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing netting during spawning season, which destroys spawning beds; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is not encouraging proper management of fish stocks by allowing any size of fish to be retained; and

"Whereas sport fishing of Lancaster perch and other breeds in the greater Cornwall area benefit local tourism, fishing and the overall economy and will continue to do so if managed properly;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call on the Ministry of Natural Resources to impose a seven-inch size limit on fish allowed to be kept, not allow netting during spawning season and also to reopen closed provincial parks in the area to encourage tourism and ensure a vibrant long-term sport fishing economy in eastern Ontario."

It's signed by 350 constituents.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition here that's signed by more than 50 outpatients from London Psychiatric Hospital, and it's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"We, the outpatients of London Psychiatric Hospital, declare our protest over the closure of London Psychiatric Hospital. We protest the closure of the London Psychiatric Hospital because it represents once again taking away from the sick, poor and defenceless while the rich get richer.

We believe that the closure of the London Psychiatric Hospital will be traumatic for patients, as it is unknown if this transitional period will be done in such a way as to maintain quality patient care. We worry that the government will not put in place community programs and are only concerned with slashing beds and programs, not in building up supports.

"We specifically protest the closure of London Psychiatric Hospital because of our doubts that an alternative to the well-run outpatient department at London Psychiatric Hospital will be as good or will ever present itself. At present, we receive inpatient treatment when needed and for the length required. We worry that this will not be available to us.

Will there be needless suicides because of bed shortages or the push to move people out of the hospital prematurely? One is left to wonder what is the primary motivation of the commission in closing psychiatric hospitals: money saving or patient care. Sad to say, but money appears the overriding concern and not the individual patients and concern for their lives."

I am pleased to affix my signature.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas 42% of all driving fatalities are alcohol-related;

"Whereas 565 persons died in alcohol-related crashes in Ontario in 1993, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and more than 26,000 drivers were charged with impaired driving in the same year;

"Whereas 63% of the total convictions for drunk driving in 1993 involved repeat offenders;

"Whereas every year drinking and driving costs Ontarians $1.3 billion in personal financial loss, medical expenses and property damage;

"Whereas the existing measures and penalties have failed to deter chronic impaired drivers from reoffending;

"Whereas driving is a privilege, not a right, and chronic impaired drivers have failed to take their driving responsibilities seriously;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to enact Margaret Marland's private member's bill, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Impaired Driving), 1996, or similar legislation, as soon as possible."

I'm happy to lend my support to this petition.


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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I'm pleased to present a petition forwarded to me by the United Steelworkers of America over the signature of Harry Hynd, the District 6 director, as well as Brad James, the organizing coordinator. It contains not only a petition but hundreds of letters signed by Steelworkers from all across Ontario and throughout District 6. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government added section 14 to the Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995, as part of Bill 7, the anti-worker bill, allowing employers to ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board to disregard the democratic choice of employees who seek union membership to better their working lives; and

"Whereas hundreds of employees of Burns International Security services in southwestern Ontario voted overwhelmingly to join the United Steelworkers over seven months ago; and

"Whereas Burns is using section 14 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, to deny collective bargaining to over 1,000 working men and women by wasting time in long hearings before the Ontario Labour Relations Board instead of sitting down at the bargaining table with their union, the United Steelworkers;

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

"That the Minister of Labour take immediate action to repeal section 14 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and allow working people the chance for a better life."

I proudly add my name to these petitioners.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): "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."

I hereby sign this petition.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I have a petition signed by some 470 residents of Etobicoke.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we are residents of Etobicoke who hold as of major importance the education of the young people of Ontario;

"Whereas we are committed that the control and accountability of the education system and the determination of educational priorities remain at the local level;

"Whereas we hold that Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, 1997, completely disregards the rights and opinions of the people of the province of Ontario;

"Whereas we feel that the Education Improvement Commission is being given sweeping powers that not only make it unaccountable for its actions, but also place it and its members above the law;

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

"Please cancel the proposed legislation to disband local boards of education, and cancel all plans to take away from local boards of education public accountability, determination of educational priorities and the power to raise education taxes through property taxes. Please disband the Education Improvement Commission with its arbitrary powers immediately in order to restore to this province the true democracy that the people of Ontario hold so dear."

I agree with the sentiments and have attached my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further petition from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Ontario and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the Harris government will introduce legislation to amend the Workers' Compensation Act and distribute a discussion paper about changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Whereas the expected changes include erosion of the right to refuse unsafe work; workers will be forced to apply to their employer for WCB benefits and employers will decide if the claim is valid; reduction in power of the joint health and safety committees; and eliminate compensation for certain injuries and diseases; and

"Whereas the Workers' Compensation Act is a vital protection for all workers in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Occupational Health and Safety Act has prevented untold numbers of accidents and saved thousands from illness and diseases;

"We, the undersigned, therefore demand full public hearings throughout the province of Ontario on the Workers' Compensation Act proposed changes, and no changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workers' right to refuse and joint health and safety committees."

I add my name to theirs.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have thousands of petitioners who have signed their names here. The petition reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, oppose the government of Ontario's cutbacks to public education."

The petitions also include a poem to the Minister of Education, which reads:

"Roses are red

"Violets are blue

"It's our $31 million

"It doesn't belong to you.

"Protect school programs, fund them adequately and keep public education public."


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): The campaign to save TVOntario is carrying on at a remarkable rate and we have been getting petitions from all across the province, including the town of Pickle Lake in northwestern Ontario. I want to acknowledge Mr Ted Davies for putting together this petition. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

I thank Mr Davies and I'm happy to sign my name to this petition.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): On a point of privilege, Speaker: There was supposed to be a late show tonight between me and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. He has informed me that neither he nor his parliamentary assistant can be available tonight and has asked that we move it to Thursday. I seek unanimous consent to move the late show requested by myself from tonight to Thursday to accommodate the minister's schedule.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Unanimous consent? Agreed.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Cochrane South has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Transportation concerning highway maintenance contracts. This matter will be debated today at 6 o'clock.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Essex South has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs concerning assistance to flood victims. This matter will also be debated at 6 o'clock.



Mr Sheehan moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 131, An Act to provide rights and freedoms to employees with respect to membership in trade unions or employees associations and representation by them / Projet de loi 131, Loi prévoyant des droits et des libertés pour les employés en ce qui concerne l'adhésion à un syndicat ou à une association d'employés et leur représentation par ceux-ci.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Would the member like to say a few words about the bill?

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): This is a modern piece of legislation that recognizes the challenges our workforce will face in the next millennium. It will prepare our labour market for the modern world. The bill is about restoring rights to workers. I believe workers have the fundamental right to choose how they are represented in the workforce.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Shame. Shame on you.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Sheehan: The act will facilitate new job expansion by allowing employers the flexibility to hire more staff.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 96, An Act to Consolidate and Revise the Law with respect to Residential Tenancies / Projet de loi 96, Loi codifiant et révisant le droit de la location à usage d'habitation.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I believe the member for Fort York had the floor yesterday.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I am very pleased to continue the debate on Bill 96, an act to protect tenants. The Tenant Protection Act it's called. It's a bit laughable, of course, because as everybody who came to the hearings last year knows, this is an act that protects landlords, not tenants. There ought to a law against a bill that pretends to say one thing and does, in effect, in substance, another. Somebody ought to be able to outlaw such things, because you can't say governments lie or this minister lies or somebody else is lying. You can't say that. It makes it complicated for those of us who want to say it, because when you look at the substance of these bills, or many of these bills, the propaganda of the title says one thing but we know, as I will exfoliate this terrible onion, that it will show otherwise.

Today we heard the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing respond to a question with respect to his landlord protection act. He still maintains, they both maintain that this is a bill that's going to help tenants. In fact, the Premier said he needs to move on with the business of this House because he wants to get on to protecting tenants; he said that. That's why I say there ought to be a law against such things, because I would want to be able to say it isn't true.

Let me start, because I touched on this theme yesterday, with respect to the goals that M. Leach introduced in this House. These are the four goals. He said, and I may not have gotten all the words, but this is more or less the intent: To protect tenants was one of his goals, or at least the Premier's goal; to create a climate for investment; streamline the administration; and another one has to do with improving maintenance. I want to tackle each and every one of them.

The first one is creating a climate for investment. Yesterday I spoke about the fact that this bill will do nothing to stimulate the building of new housing, especially for those who can least afford it. I talked yesterday, when we had this discussion, about how many of the people who came in front of that committee last year when we had the hearings said this bill will do nothing to build new housing. Even the developers said that.


Developers came in front of that committee and I asked a question to a number of them because I was very concerned about whether we would have housing to house those who are being pushed out of the market by Conservative- or Reform-minded politics. I asked them, "Would you be building affordable housing?" Many of them said no; in fact, all of them said no.

I said, "If you are not building housing for those who can least afford it, and the government refuses to build housing for those who can least afford it, who's going to be building housing?" A number of developers who were there in front of the committee said: "That's not our business. Our business is not to worry about those who cannot afford existing housing or those who might in the future not be able to afford anything that might come on the market." It was none of their concern.

That's the problem we social democrats have with that point of view. The market does not take care of people in need; we know that. But Tories, Reform-minded Tories actually believe that the market can take care of the needy. That's where the falsehood comes into play, because they know the market cannot take care of those needs, but they constantly espouse the ideology that the market will in fact do that. We know it can't.

In British Columbia the Social Credit Party, a party that I believe is now virtually extinct, as I hope this party will become in the near future, pretty much advocated the same thing. Steve, this is what your friends said, because Social Crediters are by and large like you folks on the other side.

The Deputy Speaker: You shouldn't address the member by his first name. You address the member by his riding.

Mr Marchese: Through you, Speaker. Thank you very much, Speaker, for your intervention.

In 1983, this is what some of the Social Credit politicians said as they were about to rid themselves of rent control: "It's a renters' market. We move out of that field and as time goes on, new development will take place to fill the need for rental accommodation because landlords and developers are not bound by legislation as to what they can charge. As a result, there will be a reasonable vacancy rate in the future as well as now."

It goes on -- these are Social Credit people, very much similar to Tories in this Ontario Legislature -- and this person says: "The people out there want to be able to provide for themselves. The people in BC are hardworking people and they want to provide for themselves. But because the government has got involved in the marketplace so many times, it has destroyed the initiative of the people so today they don't know what they should be doing. This government has to get out of the marketplace so that these people can provide for themselves."

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is a very important issue, rent control. We heard the Premier this afternoon talk about why it was necessary to get this piece of legislation through, but the government is not maintaining quorum.

The Deputy Speaker: Would you please verify if there is a quorum.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: The then consumer and corporate affairs minister in British Columbia -- the Social Credit Party all the time -- said:

"It is fair to say that this government identified this particular time as a window in which we could move to let the marketplace work and allow renters the opportunity to have available to them rental accommodation and have competition, as opposed to government intervention, in the marketplace. The competition of the marketplace will determine what price a person pays for an apartment. That's the way it should be."

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): You're getting it. That's the way it should be.

Mr Marchese: Monsieur Villeneuve, welcome. Nice to see you again today.

"The marketplace should be allowed to work. Behind the thrust of this bill and many other pieces of legislation we've brought before the House is this key, the fact that government has been too involved in the past."

Doesn't that sound familiar, Monsieur Villeneuve?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You're getting it. It took you a while, but you're getting it.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): They like Socreds, though.

Mr Marchese: They love Social Credit because they're like kin, they're like cousins. They must feel sorry that the Social Credit has virtually become extinct. They should realize that the logic the Socreds applied, which is very much similar to the logic this government is applying now, didn't work. It didn't work.

It says here: "The BC minister responsible for rent control in 1983 asserted that `these deregulatory measures will ultimately result in new real estate development, more jobs and continuing healthy availability of rental accommodation.'"

I want to ask the fine, honourable members on the other side, who are listening attentively, to listen to this. Steve, thank you for listening.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): No, we aren't.

Mr Marchese: John, please.

"A dozen years later, British Columbia is home to the lowest vacancy rates and some of the highest rents in Canada."

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It also has the highest number of immigrants.

Mr Marchese: The what? The elimination of rent control did nothing --

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Fort York, address the Chair.

Mr Marchese: Speaker, I know you were busy talking to other members. I'm always addressing other members through you. I'm not sure what you want me to do.

The Deputy Speaker: You were exchanging remarks with the member for Scarborough East, which is not allowed. Address the Chair.

Mr Marchese: At the moment, I am speaking to them. I wasn't exchanging anything with them.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Fort York, you know too well.

Mr Marchese: Thank you, Speaker, for your kind interventions. We find it helpful from time to time.

I bring up this point to show several things. First of all, the Social Credit Party, now extinct, tried to do in 1983 what you are now doing: rely on the marketplace. You, who mythologize this wonderful marketplace to solve the human needs of our society -- it failed the British Columbians in 1983, and you fine, honourable people are trying to do it again to tenants in this province, all because you want to sit in the laps of the landlords as they pat you on the back to thank you for being kind servants to their needs.

It is a disgrace. It is the most pitiful thing to witness in this province. Your policies, tried by British Columbia's Social Credit, have failed. Your policies have failed through Mulroney, have failed through Thatcher, have failed through your friends in the US, and you continue to practise and espouse failed ideas. You continue to mythologize a marketplace that's failing a whole lot of people out there.

Your marketplace ideology has thrown one and a half million people out of work. That's what your party is all about. That's what your market is doing to people. Your market is downsizing everybody out of the workforce. You are doing it because you want to diminish the role of government. Well, I ask you to get out and let somebody else govern if you have no stomach to govern. That's the kind of politics you people espouse; you want less government intervention, to the extent that I say get out of the way.

If you don't want to govern and you don't want a healthy role for government to build housing for those in need, get out of the way, let somebody else do it. Don't stay in government to destroy essential needs the people have, and housing is an essential need. The garbage you espouse around creating a climate for investment didn't work in British Columbia and it won't work here.


The member for Nepean smiles -- I'm not sure -- in consternation about the things I say. This is factual stuff we speak of; we're not dreaming this up. Mr Lampert, the economist they hired, that Mr Leach hired, tells us that getting rid of rent control, which is what Bill 96 does, only takes $200 out of the $3,000 gap the private sector has to build per unit, so this isn't going to help their friends. Mr Leach now admits: "You're right. That's why we need to do more."

But do you know what "more" means? More means what they got in the 1970s and 1960s, when governments virtually gave away land or interest-free loans or countless other subsidies. There's a long list of subsidies governments gave to the landlords, to the developers, to build. I tell you, when these fine, honourable Tories create this climate of investment, this crisis in housing, they're going to give away so much money, my money and our money, to get the developers to build housing for their own profit. These developers are going to come, hat in hand, saying: "We supported you, Tories. Now we want your support. If you want us to build, this is what we need."

Once governments stopped the housing subsidy that was given to them, these developers stopped building. That's why we haven't seen any development: not because of rent control but because the subsidies of government stopped. Then they started complaining about competition from the government, that they couldn't fill all their units because governments were competing with them. That's what these fine, Tory, honourable members say in the House and in committee. It's pitiful, and then they have the nerve to talk about protecting tenants.

That's why I dealt with yesterday and continue to deal today with the issue, which is an issue in literature all the time, of appearances and reality. The appearances of the bill talk about protecting tenants and the reality is quite different. I want to move on to that theme of protecting tenants, because this objective is not based on fact. I want to read to you the existing law which gives tenants greater protection and the current bill which erodes and diminishes the protections of tenants. At the end of the list, I'm going to ask my Tory friend from Nepean to see whether he thinks he's still helping tenants.

Existing law: Tenants can apply for rent reductions based on decreased costs of property taxes and utilities. The current bill: Tenants can apply for rent reductions based on decreased property taxes only.

Existing law: Tenants can apply for rent reductions due to reduction or withdrawal of services in the past six years. The current law proposes that tenants can apply for rent reductions due to reduction or withdrawal of services in the past one year, not six.

Tenants can apply, under the Rent Control Act, for rent reductions based on inadequate maintenance over the past two years. Tenants can also apply to court, under the LTA, for an order against a landlord who is not maintaining the apartment or keeping it fit for habitation. The current bill says tenants can apply for rent reduction based on landlords not maintaining an apartment or keeping it fit for habitation within one year of the problem occurring.

Under the Rent Control Act, the act introduced by the NDP and law then, all tenants "shall" be added as parties to rent reduction applications if the issue affects all tenants in the building. In this bill, it says tenants "may" be added as parties as the new tribunal considers appropriate; it may, it shall not add all parties to a rent reduction application.

The existing law says all above-guideline increases must be analysed and approved by the rent officer. The current bill says the landlord and tenant can "agree" to above-guideline increases, limited by the 4% cap, without applying to a tribunal, but allows for a five-day cooling- off period.

You're beginning to see that there's a whole long list of these things where the rights of tenants are diminished under this bill, but the Premier and M. Leach continually say this is a bill that protects tenants. Today the minister talked about this very issue I dealt with just now, which is that the landlord and tenant can agree to the above-guideline increases. He said -- M. Leach I speak of -- they can negotiate a price.

Imagine negotiating a price with a tenant. I, the owner of a house, say to somebody, once they move out of an apartment and go to another one, "I want 10% more." The poor senior says, "Oh, but I can't afford it." The landlord says -- because they're negotiating now -- "Well, I need 10%, because I've been getting so much money less for the last many years that I really can't afford to keep you any more unless you pay up." The poor senior says: "But I really can't afford 10%. What are we going to do?"

The senior is trying to negotiate when the landlord has all the power. What is the senior in that situation to do, or a person with a disability or someone with a few children who barely has the skills to survive because of the condition that person finds himself or herself in and he or she is being asked to negotiate a fair market price with a landlord?

Speaker, I urge you to pay attention to these issues, because these other members are not. They're saying they're trying to protect tenants. How do they get away with it? That's why I say there should be a law against such things, that they should utter such falsehoods and get away with it.

The rent registry, current law: Remember, we brought in the rent registry because people moving into an apartment didn't quite know what was up, what people were paying before them, what conditions they were buying into. So we created a rent registry to allow people to know what they were getting into. The rent registry allows all tenants to check with the minister as to legal rent and services included in that rent.

What does this government do? It says, "We no longer need it." They eliminate the rent registry because it's no longer necessary. But if you listen to M. Leach and M. Harris, they will say they're trying to move on with this bill to protect tenants. Fellow people who are watching this program, is this not laughable? More than that, is this not tragic, that M. Harris and M. Leach could stand and utter such nonsense and falsehoods?

Monsieur Villeneuve twists his head as if he doesn't understand. Tenants can apply under the current law for rebates of illegal rents and illegal charges going back six years.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You are almost out of order.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Fort York, just be careful in your choice of words.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Yes, he is borderline.

The Deputy Speaker: I'm just asking you to be very careful.

Mr Marchese: Thank you, Speaker. Under the current bill, tenants can apply for rebates of illegal rents going back one year, not six years. Do you see the gradual erosion of the rights of the tenant, how they're being whittled away? Do you see that? Any observer watching this program and listening to the differences between the current bill and this so-called Tenant Protection Act -- there's nothing for tenants. Any neutral observer will be able to see it, unless these fine Tory sheep are blinded by what is being presented to them. I'm not sure.


It goes on, and I've got a few more things here. Capital costs will no longer be limited to those that are necessary. We would see a return to the days when tenants pay for marble lobbies and other luxury items. There is a provision disallowing the pass-through of capital expenditures that are "unreasonable or of no benefit to the tenant." This would appear to be a much easier test for the landlord to meet.

Costs no longer borne will no longer be withdrawn from the rents, as was the case under our bill. That means tenants will pay in their rent, for example, for a new fridge while continuing to pay for the old one. So that provision called "costs no longer borne" is eliminated by this act and by these fine Tories who speak of helping tenants.

There is more. The Tories are getting rid of orders prohibiting a rent increase. For short, the acronym is OPRI. OPRIs -- just to repeat it for the sake of those who are following this, orders prohibiting a rent increase -- freeze rents, prohibiting all increases when landlords have committed a property standard violation. This would reduce the incentive to comply with property standards. The Tory downloading on to municipalities also means they will have less money to put into enforcement.

This provision, orders prohibiting a rent increase, is gone under the current bill. This provision was there and intended to protect tenants against landlords, bad landlords, who obviously were not doing what it was necessary to do by way of property standards violations. When you get rid of the orders prohibiting a rent increase, you are literally permitting a landlord to continue to violate property standards.

In relation to this, the government says they will have, as they charge this responsibility down to the municipalities, greater fines against landlords who commit property standards violations. For that you need property standards officers. You need people to go around and supervise these problems, people who go around addressing these very violations. But these fine, honourable Tories have already cut, in the last two years, 40% of municipal funding that went to them. The download of greater responsibilities will mean that municipalities will have less money to put into issues of this kind of enforcement, not more.

While this government says, "Don't worry, we appreciate the fact that there are violations or may be violations; we're going to give more powers to the enforcement officers," what are powers if there are no people to enforce them? What are these powers and what do they mean if you don't have people to enforce them? They're meaningless, except on paper. On paper it appears as if you've given municipal officers greater power. But they've got no money to be able to hire people to enforce these violations. I find it objectionable that this government could continue to claim they're doing something for tenants when they're not.

The third issue has to do with maintenance. This issue I just addressed was connected to maintenance. In committee the minister and some of his landlord friends talked about billions of dollars' worth of maintenance that has to be done to the buildings because they're in such bad shape. What do they do? They blame rent control for this.

The tenants and many of the organizations that came in front of our committee said this to me and to the committee members who were listening: "What happens to that guideline increase that landlords get as a matter of course, that unquestioned guideline increase? Isn't that supposed to go into maintenance? And how do we prove that these landlords have put money into maintenance of these buildings?" There is no way of proving that. But the point was clear: Landlords should have been putting money that comes to them under the guideline increase for general maintenance, and they haven't been doing that, because if they had, those buildings would have been kept in shape and in such a state that you wouldn't have any complaints by tenants.

"What happened," said many of the tenants, "when so many of these landlords, under a Liberal regime -- where rent skyrocketed anywhere from 10% to 110%? What happened to that money? Where did it go? Why wasn't that money put into the maintenance of those buildings? How could that money just have disappeared?"

As these landlords allow the gradual disintegration of their buildings, years later they come back to a Tory government that will finally listen to them and say: "M. Leach, we need your help. The buildings are falling apart. We were ruined by the NDP because we couldn't raise rents to the extent that we wanted and rent control was ruining everything." So they came to M. Leach, who had a kind ear to these problems, and they espoused the same garbage the other people do as well. You hear both of them. Leach is saying: "There are $10 billion worth of repairs that need to be done. Rent control was the culprit, so we need to get rid of it." So you see that these people are in cahoots with each other. You know that. You know, because had they been putting the money they had been getting steadily under those Liberal years of rent review, not rent control, into repair, we would not be facing the problems of disrepair now.

It comes at a time when they have a perfect government that will listen to them, because it is pro-developers; not necessarily pro-development but pro-developers and pro-landlords; nothing to do with tenants. There is no protection for tenants here at all.

There's one thing as well, another item having to do with the anti-harassment unit. They beefed up this anti-harassment unit that we've got and they said, "We are well aware that there are some landlords who are likely to push some people out, because they know that as soon as a tenant leaves and goes to another unit, they can charge whatever they want." The same applies when somebody moves into that unit that was vacated. The government is fully aware of this and, knowing that, they have increased the fines for anyone charged with harassment. So the government, on paper -- this is where the theme of appearances and reality comes into play again -- says, "We are going to increase fines."

But in reality, a lot of the seniors who came in front of our committee said, "We don't have the energy, we don't have the knowledge, we don't have the resources and the stamina to pursue a problem with the landlord when we are harassed by that individual." To take a landlord through this new tribunal would take forever. In the past and in the future, it would still take a long time to deal with a landlord who's abusing some senior, some person with a disability or some poor individual in that apartment.

They are keenly aware that this anti-harassment unit is not going to work for most people, because a senior who finds himself or herself very vulnerable, in a situation where they have to deal with a landlord on a day-to-day basis, where they rely on them for essential services, is not about to confront a landlord to deal with the problem. They would rather move first than have to deal with that problem. It's a greater emotional stress on that senior or person with disabilities or a person who's vulnerable to deal with a landlord on an issue of harassment than to just move out, so they would move out. That's what would happen. The appearance of the bill is that you're doing something great to help out anyone who might be harassed, but the reality is very, very different.


I want to be able to quote a few people who came in front of our committee last year, because I think their quotations or at least their concerns should be here on the record. I know Mr Gilchrist is very keenly interested in this. That's why he's talking with a group of people about this. I'm about to read to him what the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations had to say:

"The Landlord and Tenant Act, the Rent Control Act and the Rental Housing Protection Act exist to protect tenants and to provide diverse housing options for Ontario citizens. Seniors are especially dependent on these protections. We have spoken to many seniors who now live in fear that this government is turning its back on the people of this province. Therefore, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organizations urges the government of Ontario to seriously consider the social impact on Ontario citizens before any amendments are made to the original statutes protecting tenants' rights."

Another individual, Ms Gwen Lee, from Hamilton, United Senior Citizens of Ontario, said this: "Seniors would be protected as long as they don't move, but seniors do move for reasons such as when their family moves and their support system is no longer there; when their spouse dies; when they become disabled; or to be closer to doctors, hospitals, shopping etc."

Another individual from Thunder Bay, the place where the Premier comes from, Marilyn Warf --

Interjection: No. North Bay.

Mr Marchese: North Bay. Sorry. Close to that area. I'm sure Marilyn Warf wouldn't want to be misrepresented by me in this regard.

Mr Christopherson: Nor misrepresented by him.

Mr Marchese: Or by the Premier. She is being misrepresented by him on a daily basis. This is what she had to say:

"Access to affordable housing has always been a problem for persons with disabilities, because their income is usually 60% to 70% lower than persons without disabilities. The potential is great that this legislation will cause a major housing crisis." She represents Persons United for Self-Help in Northwestern Ontario.

These are the kinds of voices we heard and these are the kinds of voices that some of the members dismissed yesterday as just being some few activists, or dismissed them as some few NDPers trying to fight this government. These are real people, part of real organizations, with very serious concerns about what this is going to do to them, what this bill will do to them.

This government on a daily basis says they do not like advocacy, and we remember what they did to the Advocacy Commission: They repealed that in a couple of weeks. They hate advocacy and they hate advocates and they drool at the thought of their elimination. They have systematically done so.

The Advocacy Commission was set up to protect vulnerable people, seniors, people with mental illness, people with disabilities, and this government says: "We don't need that. Families will take care of their own, so we're going to get rid of the Advocacy Commission."

When we pointed out that much of the abuse sometimes is committed by family members, they scoffed at that and said we were trying to say that somehow families couldn't take care of their own. That belies the facts, and the facts are that family members sometimes, if not often, in issues of abuse are hurt by their own.

But they got rid of that commission, they got rid of the advocates, and with this too they have cut, if not eliminated, funding for a number of advocacy groups trying to help out tenants. They're gone. We have heard from a number of organizations across Ontario where they deputed in front of our committee and said, "The government has cut funding from us." Why? Because they're trying to advocate for tenants who are about to be whacked by this government.

What does this government do every time there are some bills that are about to hurt a whole sector of the population? It pulls the planks from the floor. Who are these planks? In this case, advocates who are trying to help out people who are very vulnerable. They say, "We don't need advocacy and tenants don't need advocates, because we are about to pass a bill called Bill 96 and it's going to protect tenants." But I showed you that there is nothing in this bill that is intended for tenants, nothing at all. This bill is about landlords and this bill is about helping to transfer money from those who can least afford it to those who make a great deal of money.

Remember, yesterday I quoted J.J. Barnicke, a fellow in real estate, who pointed out that people investing in apartments have done very, very well. There's 10% to 15% profit annually. They're doing okay. They don't need the help of these Conservatives. They're doing fine on their own. Why would they introduce a bill that is about to whack 33% of the population who live in apartments? We're talking about 3.3 million people who live as tenants. We're talking about people a third of whom earn less than $23,000; $20,000 to $23,000. A third of them earn less than $23,000, and those who earn more than $23,000 can't be wealthy.

Certainly many choose to be in apartments, I will grant you that, but most live in apartments because they can't afford a home. I can tell you, most of them would love to own a home. Most people in this country would love to own a home, but they can't afford it. That's why they rent, and that's why governments exist: to protect them against the abuses of bad landlords. This government, Tory, Reform-minded, is saying, "We've got to get out of the way," like they did in British Columbia in 1983. The Social Credit, Reform-minded politicians got out of the way in 1983. Did they help the situation any? No. It's statistically proven. There's a great deal of evidence. Everybody knows that in British Columbia nothing was solved by passing this down to the marketplace, allowing landlords to do what they want. Yet this government is quite willing and drooling at the thought of replicating the mistake, as if they've learned nothing from the past. What can you say of a government that can learn nothing from the past? On what does it base its foundation? If it bases its foundation on things that have failed, how can the future look except bleak for those affected by these bills?

I tried to find a few things that I might speak to that obviously help the tenants, and that's why I referred to the anti-harassment unit. That's one of the few things that are supposed to be good, because it increases fines for those who are caught, if they're ever caught, committing a violation and harassment against the tenant. On paper it's good, but in practice it doesn't happen. We know it doesn't happen.


The other issue of maintenance: We know that you have beefed up the enforcement fines around violations, but we know there are going to be very few enforcement officers. We know because when we were in committee we heard that there are very few, and those few officers sometimes were not very helpful to the tenants. You should hear some of those sad stories being told to us about their history in association with some of these enforcement officers where they didn't get any help; in fact, they were getting the wrong type of help from these so-called enforcement officers.

The only two little things that are there to provide some assistance and relief to tenants are virtually of no use, but this government, through M. Harris and M. Leach, flaunts this bill as a bill that protects tenants. That's why I referred to Shakespeare yesterday, because one of his famous lines that I recall speaks of this issue: "Fair is foul and foul is fair." The bill appears to be fair, but it is foul, and it is foul although it appears to be fair.

That theme of appearances and reality is universal. It has lasted throughout the centuries and it continues in this theatre, in this place, with this government, because this is theatre by this government. It's propagandist in nature. It attempts to tell the poor people out there there's something in it for them, and we know there is absolutely nothing for them except a whole lot of abuse and a whole lot of whacking, because tenants are going to be whacked by rent increases they cannot afford. Those tenants are poor working people, disabled people, seniors whose incomes have dropped over the years and people displaced by you, you who have fired literally 20,000 people. I'll bet at the end of your term you will have let many more than 20,000 go, people who have fallen victim to your policies and victim to the marketplace you're trying to defend.

I know the tenants are going to write to this government and they're going to say to this government, "We will defeat you in the next election." I can only pray that will happen.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): The member for Fort York makes very interesting arguments in light of the fact that it was his government's rent control legislation that actually had an adverse effect on tenants in this province. This bill, I am pleased to say, is going to give protection to tenants; their bill simply delayed the implementation of rent increases.

I can give you a very good example of a building in my riding, on Seneca Avenue, as a matter of fact, where the rent appeal hearing took three years. When the decision was rendered against those tenants and in favour of the landlord, they had three years of back rent increases to pay. For almost all of them, without exception, it was an impossible increase. It was an impossible amount of money for them to pay.

We hear all the time from the opposition parties about how money-gouging etc the landlord or the property owner is, and I'd like to tell you that the landlord of those two buildings on Seneca Avenue in my riding sat down at a public meeting which I organized with the residents of those two buildings, and although he had been given a court order awarding him that retroactive increase, he agreed to keep them in the building without paying it retroactively because they simply couldn't afford it.

With the kind of legislation the New Democratic government had at that time, there was no protection for those tenants. This legislation does protect the tenants where they are today at the rents they pay today, and they shouldn't be afraid of it.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'm pleased to comment on the fine speech by the member for Fort York. I am quite amazed, however, this afternoon that we are discussing housing issues. I know the people in Algoma-Manitoulin believe that housing issues are important, but they would believe, and I know they would believe, that talking about Bill 125, about doing something about the flying truck wheels in this province, is something that needs to happen now.

As a matter of fact, we thought it should happen in February. We remember when the Minister of Transportation, with much fanfare out at a truck inspection station, said, "We're going to pass this bill." Our party said: "Bring it in here. Let's go, let's do it, let's have this bill before the House and we will pass it. We will even give it unanimous consent so we can give it third reading in a day."

That's what we were talking about, so I'm surprised. I know my constituents would be concerned about the housing issues. I know that people throughout the riding would think this is an important issue to discuss. But they think on this day that we should be talking about wheels and tires that kill people on our highways and that we should do something about it --

The Deputy Speaker: Order. I gave you a chance. I thought you'd come back but you're still on the same issue. It's a rent issue, it's not a transportation issue. It's a housing issue. You said you'd come back on housing. That would be fine with me.

Mr Michael Brown: I'm sure this is directly related to the housing issue because we should not be talking about housing today. You know that. I'm sure that most members in this House want to be giving second and third reading to the truck safety bill.

Mr Christopherson: I'm very pleased and proud to stand and comment on the remarks of my colleague, our critic for housing and municipal affairs, the member for Fort York. I think he delivers some of the most impassioned, articulate, clear-thinking addresses that this House has the benefit of hearing.

When you hear the member for Fort York talk about the impact on seniors and on the disabled and on the most vulnerable, you're hearing from a member who knows what he's talking about. When he talks about this government's dreadful record attacking the rights of the most vulnerable by eliminating, with pride yet, the Advocacy Act, a piece of legislation that provided protection for the most vulnerable, the member for Fort York does it because he understands very clearly that there is an agenda at play here and in every piece of legislation this government brings forward there are clear winners and clear losers. There's no balance or fairness, and in this case it's tenants lose, owners win. Their pals win. Again, many of those who are renters are among the most vulnerable.

My colleague from Fort York, Rosario, mentioned Gwen Lee from Hamilton. I know Gwen very well. So do all the people in Hamilton. She's one of the strongest voices for the rights of seniors and the needs of seniors, and the plight of seniors in many cases. She has clearly said that this legislation, not what is called tenant protection, attacks tenants' rights and leaves tenants vulnerable. I would ask this government to listen to Gwen Lee and all those other advocates who are speaking for the most vulnerable as has my colleague from Fort York.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It was interesting to hear the address made by the member for Fort York, a very impassioned presentation. He was asking to listen to voices, and certainly there is another side to this. There are other voices that come through and those happen to be from the landlords who have had their properties trashed. I'm sure you've heard some but you don't seem to reflect on those voices as well.

There is another side to this, there is a balance. You were talking all the time about the sky is falling and how terrible it is, and this bill in particular. We heard from you about a little cut in income tax and how terrible that was going to be and where was that going to go. You've now seen where that particular one went. We've actually ended up with more revenue because taxes were cut. Remember what happened with your government. By increasing taxes you got less revenue. So have a look around and find some of the other things that are happening with this government. Some of the things that we're doing do work and it isn't always the sky falling as you were making reference to earlier.

One of the things I commented on yesterday, one of the greatest tenant protections we can have, is an adequate, good supply of rental property for our tenants, that they have a choice out there. They're not forced into under 1% vacancy rate available to them. We need to give encouragement not only to developers but to landlords as well to have more properties available in the future.

The marketplace won't work is the argument that you're using. Have a look at what has been going on for the last two decades with the ceiling that we've had in there. What has happened to available property? It just literally disappeared. Look at the other cities where they brought it in -- New York, Washington. In the 1940s they brought in rent control. What ended up happening? Ghettos in the middle of those centres where landlords walked away and we just didn't have any properties left for people to rent.


Mr Marchese: I thank all the members for their comments. I want to say briefly that the sky is falling and it's falling on those who are the most vulnerable. This man from Northumberland says there is another side. The other side that he speaks of is the side of the landlord -- the landlord, who is one of the most powerful individuals in this province. The landlord controls so much power over the lives of 33% of the population, and the sky is falling for them. It's not falling for the landlord, the other so-called side of which the member for Northumberland speaks.

To the member for Mississauga South, 73% of the deputations that came in front of our committee two months ago said: "Leave rent control alone. It is the best protection we've got." This bill is going affect the most vulnerable. This bill explicitly gives landlords the right to discriminate on the basis of income. This has been strongly criticized by the Human Rights Commission and other advocacy groups, and the commissioner is now Keith Norton, one of their fellow Tory members.

This bill, under the changes affecting care homes, says that landlords can try to evict a tenant who no longer needs the level of care provided by the landlord or a tenant who needs a level of care that the landlord is not able to provide. This is a new reason to evict. Care home landlords may force tenants to move out because they want to demolish, convert, repair or renovate the home, and because they've got rid of the Rental Housing Protection Act, it's possible to do this without municipal approval.

This bill is a devastation against 33% of the most vulnerable people of this province. They're not all vulnerable surely, but most of these people have low incomes, disabilities, mental illness or are working people, working poor, and middle class yet, those you have diminished to working poor these days. This is not a bill that protects tenants. I urge those watching to fight back against this government that is about to whack them again.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate?

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I rise today on an issue which really first interested me when I was elected in 1990 and going into 1991. As you will recall, Madam Speaker, the NDP brought in certain rent legislation which I felt was fundamentally flawed. I would like to take just a little while to review the chronology of events leading up to the present situation.

In 1976, rent control was brought in by a PC government, a government which was concerned that we were in a period of high rental increases. The high rental increases occurred after a prolonged period of depressed rents. The building business, being unregulated in those days, was subject to what happens in all property development: Builders get a little excited and start building and they build a significant oversupply.

Rents were fairly depressed in this province relative to what people were earning for a long period of time, and then, when builders stopped building, after a certain length of time there was an absorption rate. When that absorption rate hit, we then found that there was a shortage of housing. Landlords, instead of offering three televisions or three months rent-free, which had been the case when I came to live in Toronto in 1969 -- there had been a period in 1976 when rents went up quite significantly. The government of the day, the government of Bill Davis, brought in rent controls. Those controls were to be a two-year measure, and of course we all know that when governments bring in members which are temporary they tend to stick around. We are all reminded constantly of income taxes, which came in as a temporary measure at the beginning of this century.

When the rent controls were brought in by the PC government, some of the large landlords expressed a desire to create a sinking fund which would be an amount of money which would be set aside towards renovation of the buildings. This is something that I hope the two NDP members who are in the House might just pay attention to. They constantly say: "Why don't the landlords put money aside? They should have put money aside." The significant thing was that Revenue Canada disallowed this. It was clear they were going to have to pay taxes on that money as if it were profit, on the money they wanted to set aside for the sinking fund for renovations. The federal government disallowed the setting aside of funds, and this was why the rent control system was probably flawed from the very beginning of the process.

Setting that aside, the effect on rents was to control rents, which was what it was supposed to do. Unfortunately, the Liberals came along and brought in some new rent legislation. The original buildings which had been controlled by rent review were those buildings built prior to the legislation coming in. All new buildings were not subject to rent review, so there was still a desire among builders to build rental buildings, as there was an increasing market in Toronto and in those days there was a significant increase in the population in Toronto. When the Liberals included all buildings under rent review, we had a sudden grinding of wheels as all the builders completely stopped building any buildings.

The bill they brought in allowed landlords to pass through the interest on 85% of the purchase price. I am a commercial real estate broker and I remember at the time a lot of commercial real estate agents saying: "They're nuts. This kind of gearing, this high gearing encourages builders and property owners to put on a very large mortgage."

A practice grew up where you would have second mortgages put on buildings as they were sold and the vendor of the buildings would say, "Okay, I agree to have a very low interest rate on a second mortgage, but the second mortgage will be up from what a bank will lend reasonably as a first mortgage, all the way up to 85% of the purchase price, and we will always set the interest rate on the mortgage so that it will increase each year, so that as the landlord gets an increase with respect to the pass-through of that financing, they will always be in the red, so consequently for the five-year window that you're allowed to get increases year over year, the landlord will be allowed to get an increase."

They also allowed the complete financing of all kinds of renovation costs which had not been covered before. Under the Tory legislation it had always been a principle that there would be a pass-through of reasonable expenditures for renovations, but under the Liberal legislation we suddenly had the phenomenon that there was a meat chart of all the expenditures a landlord could make and it would show what the amortization period on all of those items was, so that some landlords -- absolutely not the majority but some landlords -- financed the building up to 85% and in addition to that chose the items from the meat chart of renovations that would give them the quickest return possible in order to increase rents. We had a period where there were a few very savvy landlords using this flawed Liberal legislation with rents increasing quite significantly.


When the NDP came to power they talked about the example of rents increasing, and I've made a note here: in Kingston 224%, in Timmins 189% and in Ottawa 192%. They never said how many units that covered and they never said what the base rent was, so that somewhat distorted the argument, but nevertheless we did have unusually large increases.

The Liberal legislation: In fairness to the Liberals I have to say you had sat down and negotiated between the landlords and the tenants and there was an agreement thrashed out between landlords and tenants. However, the final legislation which came out did not reflect what the landlords and tenants had agreed on.

It did not enshrine the principle of increasing over the period of years the chronically depressed buildings up to market rent. Had that been done, we probably wouldn't have some of the distortions we have in the marketplace today, where we have some buildings with fairly high rents where landlords cannot get the legal maximum simply by merit of the fact that the market dictates, "No, I'm not going to pay any more," and then we have some other, chronically depressed rents where the tenants are getting an incredible bargain, and unfortunately the landlords in those buildings cannot afford to properly renovate the buildings.

The problems caused by the Liberals and personified as the "marble hall" syndrome continued until the NDP came to power. I think they made an effort to change; I just believe they didn't understand enough about the situation. The NDP did the worst thing any government can possibly do, and that is, they retroactively passed legislation, to the extent that renovations of buildings had to be paid before the cost could be passed through to the tenants, before the cost could be taken to the rent review board.

All of the landlords had gone ahead and spent money on renovating their buildings and were told after the fact, notwithstanding that it has always been a principle of rent review since the Tories brought it in in the 1970s that the cost you bear on renovation will be paid back over a number of years but it will be after the fact -- they had already spent the money and they were told: "No, you cannot get that money back. The maximum we will allow is 3% of the renovation per year over the base rent for a maximum of three years."

If you have a very high rent and the building is in fairly good condition, to get 3% extra per year over a three-year period is quite a handsome amount of money, but if you have an apartment which is $300 per month and you get 3%, you're getting $9 extra per month, or over the three years $27 per month more. If you have to put a new roof on a small apartment building, it costs an awful lot more than that. So landlords, who had not been allowed to have a sinking fund by Revenue Canada, notwithstanding what the NDP keep on telling you -- "Oh, the landlord should have put money away." They weren't allowed to. The tax department wouldn't allow the landlords to do it.

Mrs Boyd: They allowed them to put it away; they just didn't allow them a tax rebate.

Mr Turnbull: I hear some heckling from the member for London Centre that they should have put it away even after paying the taxes. This is typical of the comments we find from the socialists. They don't understand how business works.

Mrs Boyd: Depreciation. Depreciation.

Mr Turnbull: She's shouting, "Depreciation." What about depreciation? It still doesn't mean you get enough money to renovate buildings. According to your own ministry, when Minister Cooke brought in Bill 4, there was $20 billion worth of deferred maintenance on apartments in this province, and your answer is depreciation. It isn't enough. You didn't allow enough money, because it had always been a principle of rent controls that the renovations would be paid for after the fact. It annoys me to no end when members simply ignore the facts as to how bills have worked. No matter how flawed the Liberal legislation may have been, the landlords who did renovations during that period had a reasonable expectation that they should be able to get that money back, and it led to many landlords going bankrupt.

Statistically, the average landlord in this province has less than six units. The average landlord is somebody of relatively modest means who typically has come from another country and has had confidence in the idea of owning real estate, and that is their only pension fund. As a direct result of what the NDP did with Bill 4, disallowing retroactively the pass-through of those renovation charges, it had the direct effect of bankrupting all kinds of small landlords.

I have to say, a lot of those small landlords had never voted Tory in the past. Some of them we know had voted for the NDP and said: "We will never vote for them again. They have bankrupted us. We came to this country, we've worked hard and we've put every penny for our old age into these buildings, and we are now being bankrupted." That was as a result of legislation which retroactively reached back and said: "It doesn't matter what the law was at the time you did this. We couldn't care less. We're going to change it retroactively."

The NDP did it because it looks good to what they believe is their core constituency, but the fact is that the tenants of this province were very ill served by that legislation because we now have a further deterioration in the state of the rental buildings in this province. What all the members in this House should have as a target is to make sure that the less fortunate people in this province have good, affordable, clean, safe, properly renovated buildings, and the NDP made sure that was impossible.

When we looked at the legislation, it became apparent that there were some people on fixed incomes who couldn't afford to pay any significant amount more in rent. We believe we introduced a very balanced approach. We had a consultation with landlords and tenants over a long period of time and we brought forward legislation that all the sitting tenants in buildings are protected under rent legislation. The guideline last year was 2.8%; the guideline this year was 2.8%. These are the lowest guidelines on rent increases in Ontario's rent control history.

But the fact is that the NDP have such a philosophical bent that they are against anybody being able to have any private ownership. They don't want to see anybody profiting in any way from rent. There seems to be something dirty about the fact that somebody put their life savings in --

Mr Marchese: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: There is no quorum in this House, and everybody should listen to Mr Turnbull, everyone.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum, clerk?

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The member for York Mills.


Mr Turnbull: While we had that short intermission, I heard so much drivel from the member for Fort York, who absolutely refuses to accept that his legislation when they were the government bankrupted small landlords, people who had one, two, three, four, five apartments, people who had put their life savings into them. Our legislation protects all sitting tenants in the apartments. It will allow a modest pass-through, and at the time the apartment becomes vacant --

Mr Marchese: A modest pay-off for someone.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, come to order.

Mr Marchese: I'm trying.

Mr Turnbull: Madam Speaker, I suggest that if the member for Fort York cannot control himself, you may want to eject him, because he doesn't seem to want to listen to the debate.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Member for York Mills, take your seat for a moment.

Could I ask the members from the NDP, in particular the member for Cochrane North and the member for Fort York --

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): It wasn't me.

The Acting Speaker: If I'm mistaken, I'm sorry. But the member for Fort York particularly, please come to order.

Mr Turnbull: We have brought forward this balanced legislation that will allow the existing tenants, the tenants who are sitting in apartments today, to be protected by rent control. When people vacate apartments, it allows the landlord to then reset the rent at market rates, whatever the market will bear, and when the next tenant comes in, guess what? They're also protected by rent control on an ongoing basis.

The interesting thing is that during the last recession, we found the situation that many of the landlords weren't taking the full amount of rent increases that they were allowed. That was the market working; it was nothing to do with their legislation.

Mr Marchese: Leave it alone then. Leave the act alone.

Mr Turnbull: Clearly, those apartments which were at the high end simply hit that ceiling, but the ones at the low end, the ones that are most in need of renovation, are the ones for which they cannot make money available. Our bill is fairly tough on landlords who do not keep their buildings in order. There are fines of up to $100,000 for this, something the NDP never did. The NDP did nothing to protect those tenants.

Mr Marchese: Tough, huh? What did you do? You increased the fines, huh?

Mr Turnbull: Madam Speaker, since you are unable or unwilling to get the member for Fort York to simmer down, I'll just point out my own record on protecting tenants. In 1994 I brought in Bill 104, which was an act to protect vital services for tenants, a bill which was passed, which allowed municipalities to add on to the tax bill the cost of doing any important renovations vital to the vital services, ensuring heat and hydro and water.

Mr Marchese: What happened to that? Why didn't you include that in the bill?

Mr Turnbull: The bill passed and it is law today, sir. Obviously, you don't know what you're talking about. The bill exists. The law is in place today.

Mr Marchese: You did correct me, David.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, come to order. Member for York Mills, address the Chair.

Mr Turnbull: The bill was passed, Madam Speaker, and perhaps you might be interested in some of the comments.

Len Rubenstein, the president of the York Mills Tenants' Association, said, "Bill 104 is a great tool for municipalities who really care about the protection of tenants."

Glen and Kathy Stephenson, who were from the tenants' association at 1002 Lawrence Avenue East, said: "Tenants in North York are grateful to David Turnbull for his efforts. We're pleased that other municipalities will also benefit from his work."

Mayor Mel Lastman said, "I appreciate David Turnbull's efforts in bringing forward legislation to allow all municipalities in the province to enact vital services bylaws to protect tenants."

The point I'm making here is that as much as the NDP would like to have it this way, that they have a corner on compassion and protecting tenants, they are dead wrong. They have done nothing to protect tenants; they have done everything to decrease the quality of the housing stock of the province in this province, which didn't allow the low-end housing stock to be regenerated, to have some money brought in. But our bill is very innovative, inasmuch as all the existing tenants continue to be protected by rent control. As a landlord gets a unit available, he can set the rent at the market rent, which should have been done under the Liberal legislation and was negotiated between the landlords and tenants in those days, and they never proclaimed that part.

We are moving to protect tenants and to protect landlords in a very balanced way. Clearly, when you get two completely differing points of view, you have to get a balance in the middle. This is what we believe we have achieved with this legislation, much in the same way as we're doing everything to make sure those tenants who are in the low-income category are helped.

Reading from the 1997 Ontario budget speech, it says: "In total, the Ontario tax reduction cuts taxes for 530,000 individuals and families and eliminates Ontario income tax entirely for another 655,000 individuals and families. The federal government...is collecting income taxes from more than 55% of the low-income families paying no Ontario tax."

We're well on our way to making sure that we get new construction of buildings in this province; that we're able to protect tenants in place by ensuring that maintenance standards are maintained by having very tough laws and stiff penalties for those landlords who do not comply with this legislation; and at the same time ensuring there is some money available for landlords to be able to upgrade their buildings more than 3% per year for three years in some of the low-income apartments. This is what we're doing to protect tenants. This is what we're doing to protect the rental stock in this province. I am very proud to be supporting this government bill.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments.

Mr Michael Brown: I enjoyed the presentation by the chief government whip. I just wonder why the chief government whip would have chosen to speak about housing issues this afternoon. I see the Minister of Transportation here and he was eagerly hoping we could deal with the flying-truck-wheel situation, where people are dying in this province.

The Acting Speaker: Would the member for Algoma-Manitoulin please speak to the bill we're debating.

Mr Michael Brown: Well, I am; I'll relate this directly. In any event, it was an interesting time. Mr Turnbull and I spent some time together as we debated the two previous incarnations of rent control in this province. One of the things I will give him some credit for is that he was totally consistent. He and his colleague from Dufferin-Peel used to speak often about how there was really no problem with the cost of rental accommodation in this province, that there was an income problem in this province, and that if everyone had a suitable income they would be able to rent whatever they needed.

They were in favour of something called in situ grants or something like that; I forget the name. They were going to provide any low-income person with enough money to get to that 30% threshold. I thought it was an interesting but totally impossible financial way of dealing with it.

But I want to tell the people in this House and across Ontario that there is a solution to high-cost rents, and that is to come to the retirement community of Elliot Lake, where we have a retirement living program which is second to none in a most beautiful community which will supply affordable rents to people in a beautiful setting.


Mr Marchese: I must be frank. I didn't enjoy the speech at all. It was painful. It was painful because as I read this bill I know what it does to tenants. He stands up talking about the fact that he too has a claim on those who can least afford to find a decent place. I say, "Prove it." The way he proves it is to talk to us about a bill he introduced that has passed which was good and to clothe himself as a grandfather of tenants through that bill. That's fine. He did a good deed with that bill.

This Bill 96, the so-called Tenant Protection Act, does very little for the people you pretend to help. I defy you, member for York Mills, and any other member who will follow you, to read through this bill and point to the good things it does for tenants, point to the good things it does for low-income tenants and for the children who find themselves in a difficult situation with respect to finding a place to live. I defy you, member for York Mills, to do so.

You told me what I have already told you, two things; that you've increased the fines to those who harass. From where we were at, we know you've done that. But we know you know that there will be ongoing harassment and that it's difficult to get at, so you're not saved by increasing the fine. You've increased the fines for those who commit violations against building code standards. This is the only thing you have done through this bill that helps out. Everything else in this bill is a whack against the majority of the 33% of the population who are tenants. I defy you to go through this bill and show me how they are protected. Show me.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time is expired. Further questions or comments. The member for Mississauga South.

Mr Marchese: Go through the bill, David, and show me how it helps tenants.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York, come to order.

Mr Marchese: If there's a nincompoop here, it's you, David. I defy you.

Mrs Marland: Could we restart the clock?

The Acting Speaker: No. Continue.


Mr Marchese: You did nothing of the sort.

Mr Turnbull: Yes, I did.

Mr Marchese: Go through the bill.

The Acting Speaker: We're going to start over again.

Mr Len Wood: It's Turnbull who's causing all the problems.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Fort York and member for York Mills, member for Cochrane North, come to order. The member for Mississauga South.

Mrs Marland: I wish the members from the New Democratic Party who are yelling across the floor had such passion in their hearts to protect tenants when they as a government were spending multimillions of dollars building non-profit housing which had subsidies of $2,500 a unit, when in fact there were units available to be rented in this city for anywhere between $500 and $700 a unit. One given day there was an advertisement in the Toronto Star for a bachelor apartment, $400 a month. At the same time this New Democratic Party, when they were the government, were subsidizing bachelor apartments in this city at $2,000 a unit; not to mention, of course, all the fraud and corruption that was going on in non-profit housing corporations across this province, even to the degree, of course, that we had an example in the Van Lang Centre in Ottawa which caused the resignation of the then Minister of Housing.

This is not the party to criticize a bill that in fact does protect tenants in this province. I say to you, Madam Speaker, simply that it's unfortunate they are scaremongering to the degree that people watching today will think as tenants that they're not protected when in fact they are. They are protected, and they are protected in private sector buildings. The point is that the fear that is being generated by misinformation is cruel and irresponsible.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am surprised, first of all, that we're not dealing with the bill on wheel safety, because it would be more important -- let me put it in this phrase, just this part of it -- it seems to me that we should not be spending out time killing rent control when there could be wheels flying off trucks that could be killing people. I'll leave it at that and go on to the rent control legislation. I'm trying to help out the Minister of Transportation, who has been embarrassed by the Premier. I want to help him out as much as I can.

Anyway, what I want to say is that you're undoing what the Davis government did back in 1975 and 1976. They responded to a crisis which existed in 1975. In the middle of an election campaign, Premier Davis promised rent control, and they delivered on the promise of rent control. Of course now you're trying to undo that. That was there to protect tenants in this province and now it is not going to happen.

The conversion from rental to condominium is going to be very scary to people now living in rental accommodation. Instead of seeing an increase in rental accommodation in the province, my belief is this legislation will result in less accommodation. When you ask the developers, "Is this going to make you build more rental accommodation?" they will say, "No, indeed it is not." What we're going to have to do is build bigger halls to hold the fund-raisers for the Conservative Party, because those large developers will not fit into the present halls. We could see a building boom as a result, because you're doing their bidding, in effect.

The senior citizens in apartment buildings, and other vulnerable people, are going to be very concerned because they didn't remember any Conservative candidate promising to get rid of rent control, and that's exactly what's happening with this bill.

Mr Turnbull: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin says that I'm consistent. Yes, I believe I am consistent, which is much more than I can say for the Liberal Party. One never knows where they stand on any issue. They were against the NDP legislation, they're against our legislation, yet the largest rental increases in the history of this province occurred as a direct result of their legislation. As I've already outlined, we've got the examples of 225% increases.

To the member for Fort York, he says to show him where the protection is. Read the bill, member for Fort York. The fact is that the sitting tenants are protected. They are under rent control. It is only when the unit becomes vacant that the rent can be reset. That's as plain as I can make it. If you don't understand that, I'm sorry, you really are in tough shape.

To my colleague the member for Mississauga South, as always I thank her for her kind words. She correctly points out the incredible subsidies and money that was wasted on non-profit housing. I have a non-profit housing unit in my riding which was built by the Labourers' International Union, Bob Rae's favourite union, where the superintendent was paid $65,000 a year plus a car. He happened to be the son-in-law of the man who ran the Labourers' International. I'm sure that was a coincidence, of course. The NDP built non-profit units which cost a quarter of a million dollars each.

Mr Marchese: Where would those poor people live otherwise?

Mr Turnbull: Yes, member for Fort York, I can show you, using your own press releases. These were units that you could have bought for $110,000 at the time, because you're incompetent.

The member for St Catharines says, "What about less accommodation?" No. When you get the market, you do get construction.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further debate?


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): In terms of why we're discussing the basic eradication of rent control today with this bill they call the rental protection bill, which is actually the landlord protection bill, I find it quite strange that the government would find time on their agenda to deal with eliminating protection for vulnerable people when everybody on this side of the House is asking the Premier to follow the lead of his own minister who wants to put forth the protection of motorists on our highways who are being endangered by flying truck tires probably as we speak here today.

Why does the government press ahead with eliminating protection for housing? That's the question I think all Ontarians are asking. Why is the government in such a rush to eliminate the protection for housing that's affordable? When many people are out of work, when many seniors are living on meagre pensions, when social assistance has been cut by over 20%, this government sees it as a priority to further attack their income and their ability to survive in a very costly economy. Why would this government see this as a priority when they've got flying truck tires on our highways? That is the question people should be asking. Why is it so important for them to try and ram this thing through that is going to be hurtful to a majority of Ontarians who are already suffering?

We must remember that if you look at tenants compared to owners, for instance, 1.5 million renters are more likely to be young families, lone-parent families, single-parent families or single people many of whom are seniors. Here is the majority of people who do live in rental accommodation. They're not generally your wealthy; they're your people who are, as I said, single-parent families, young people or seniors. They can't afford to take this increase which is going to be thrust upon them by this government.

This is a real shell game, a con game. The government is saying, "We're still going to have protection for you," but as soon as you move out of your apartment, guess what's going to happen to your unit? The sky is the limit. The landlord could raise that rent to any level he or she wants when you move out. What happens, generally speaking, is that 25% of tenants move every year. So within the next four or five years probably all the apartments across Metro and Ontario, or a great number of them, are going to have their rents hit the roof, literally, because there will be no control when you leave that apartment.

You can imagine what kind of pressure there's going to be on those tenants. It's like having a gun to the tenant's head. It is an incentive to the landlord to not turn up the heat in the wintertime, an incentive not to do repairs, maybe an incentive to be obnoxious so the tenant will leave, because if the tenant leaves, the landlord gets a bonus from the Conservative government: the landlord can then raise the rent.

You can imagine the pressure there's going to be on all these seniors especially. They're going to be intimidated by a lot of these landlords, not because it's the landlord's fault necessarily, it's the fault of this government which is putting a bounty on the heads of seniors and the poor with this piece of legislation. That's what it's doing. If you can shove someone out of an apartment, you're going to get a payoff from Mike Harris and Al Leach. That's what this bill does. It is a bounty at the courtesy of the Conservatives and their big fund-raising pals. That's what they've done here.

It couldn't have happened at a worse time. We've got unemployment in this province at a rate that is obnoxiously high. All over Metro, in Windsor, in Ottawa we've got high unemployment. Where? Probably among the same people who are single-parent families, the young, people who are looking for jobs and can't find them. So what does this bill do? It essentially now threatens their home. This is supposed to be a small government that believes in getting out of people's faces. This government is everywhere. Now it's in the bedrooms of every apartment. Fifty per cent of the population of Metro, for instance, are tenants. This government is now going into their bedrooms and saying, "Hey, listen, we are now going to put a bounty on all your bedrooms." That's what they're doing.

This government can't stay away from people. It just has to be wherever people are. It's now going to put in this new market value assessment system, a new tax on their homes, a new threat to their livelihood and their ability to survive in their apartments. Wherever you see this government, you see trouble, and who is the trouble for? It's never for the big guys. It's never for the big corporations. They leave them alone because they are their bosom buddies. But they like picking on the vulnerable.

That is what this bill does, despite the fact that deputant after deputant told them, that tenant associations all across Ontario said: "Do not introduce your landlord protection act. At best leave things alone. We don't want you to intervene in the housing industry. You've done enough damage. Don't do it." Yet the government says, "We know best." Big Brother, Mike Harris, he knows best.

He's going to introduce the landlord protection act because he wants to reward his wealthy friends, as he does with the tax cut: the same agenda, the same rationale. It doesn't matter what you said at the hearings all across Ontario -- nobody wanted this bill -- they're going to do it to you anyway. "We do what we want." That's the motto of Mike Harris's government: "We do what we want whether you like it or not. That's what we do to people."

Here is another example, just like Bill 103 dismantled local government, just like Bill 104 dismantled public education, now we've got the landlord protection act, which dismantles affordable housing.

Madam Speaker, you know yourself, being from an urban downtown riding, how important it is to have affordable housing in the downtown core, because it means you don't have to live out in the suburbs if you don't have a car. You can still be near the subway. If you're a senior and you don't drive, you can get on the streetcar or bus and go to the hospital or go to the library, so a lot of seniors have stayed in the downtown core. A lot of the working poor have stayed in the downtown core because the housing is affordable. The neighbourhoods are affordable, the neighbourhoods are vibrant and the neighbourhoods are very alive because of affordable housing.

What this piece of legislation, Bill 96, the landlord protection act of Mike Harris, does is threaten neighbourhoods, because now you're going to have the threat of higher rents in every apartment across every city in Ontario, and especially in high-cost cities like Metropolitan Toronto and its six municipalities. This is going to be a severe threat to their viability because it means not only is the phone bill going up, not only is the price of hydro going up; now it's the price of basic accommodation that is being threatened by this gun to their heads, essentially encouraging landlords to push them out of their units. That's what this bill does. It encourages landlords, and as I said, it's the fault of this government and not the landlords, because they've given this gun to these landlords and said, "Here, use it if you have to, to stick up the tenants for more money." That's what they're going to do right across Ontario and right across Metro.

This government when it came into power, the first thing it did is say, "We're not in the housing business." They stopped building affordable housing. Because there were some faults in the system, they said: "Okay. There's something wrong with the system. We'll bulldoze it, and that's it, no more housing," walking away from a basic responsibility government has. Government has a responsibility to help the vulnerable, and part of helping the vulnerable is to give them a decent roof over their heads, and now they've said, "No more co-op housing, no more subsidized housing." In fact, this government has downloaded, and is about to completely download, social housing on to the municipalities, the most disgusting thing this government or any government has done to housing in probably the last 50 years. They have offloaded housing that they know is in dire need of infrastructure investment.

They themselves admit it. Here is a news release from the province of Ontario, "Leach Introduces Tenant Protection Act." He says, "Many tenants are forced to live in housing that is crumbling and requires billions of dollars in repairs." What are they going to do with that housing? They're going to download it on to municipalities that are going to have to make decisions on whether they repair the crumbling housing or repair the crumbling roads or pick up the garbage.

This government is downloading affordable housing and housing responsibilities on to the lowest tier, local municipalities. You can imagine what's going to transpire with these local governments all across Ontario, from Listowel to London to New Liskeard. They're going to be asked to care for the housing units, and as the minister says, they're going to have to put up billions of dollars in repairs.

The government says this bill, the landlord protection act, is going to improve the quality and maintenance of these buildings. That is a direct contradiction, because this government knows they are going to download this mess. The tragedy of it is it's people who need the housing who are going to be the victims of this downloading of responsibility. They are going to be the scapegoats for the government's neo-conservative offloading agenda which benefits only the few at the top.


It's so clear. Talk to any tenants' group across Metro, whether it be in York Mills or Don Mills, any part of Metro. Ask the tenants' association, "Do you want this bill?" Ask them what they've said. If you're in your own riding, ask the tenants' association, "Do you want rent controls dismantled as this bill proposes to do?" None of them do. Who are they listening to? I think it's apparent they're listening, as usual, to the few they favour, and they will bulldoze over tenants or any other group if they feel they're pleasing their masters.

That's what this government is doing. Again, the motto of the Mike Harris government: "We do what we want. We don't give a darn. We do it anyway because we have a majority government. Therefore, we do what we want." There's no other bill -- there are a couple of others, but this is typical of their attitude, and this rental destruction bill is so typical.

Then there is one other myth they throw out there: This is going to increase the supply of housing, of rental accommodation. This government knows that in British Columbia when they took off rent controls this did not take place. If you go to British Columbia, if you go to Vancouver, you can see what happens there. They've got the highest rents probably in Canada. They've got one of the lowest vacancy rates in Canada in BC cities where they took away rent controls. This government knows this is not about producing more housing, because if they were interested in producing more housing, they wouldn't have abandoned the social housing investment other governments thought was important. They walked away from that.

This government knows there are 34,000 households in Metro alone on the waiting list to get into subsidized housing. Is this bill going to help house those 34,000 households? I doubt it, because along with their walking away from their investment in social housing, in affordable housing, this is going to be a double whammy to families who need affordable housing, because this government doesn't really care about affordable housing. All this government really cares about is reaching its ideological agenda so they can brag to their friends and say: "Hey, look what we did. We got rid of another piece of legislation that belonged to someone else," that belonged to the red Tories or to the NDP or to the Liberals, "Look what we did."

They'll brag about that. They don't care about the damage to human beings. That's the least of their concern, because through their propaganda, through their doublespeak, they think because they changed the name of the bill to the tenant protection bill, they can fool people. But you're not fooling the tenants. Tenants in every municipality across Ontario know you're their enemy. They know you're pleasing just your favourite few friends. That's what you're doing with this bill.

The tenants know your game, and that's why when they came to the hearings on the white paper, they universally said they didn't want this piece of legislation introduced, but you're going to do it anyway because you think you have the power and you think you're going to please your rich friends by doing this.

There are a lot of people who during the last election will remember when you went door to door -- even in the by-election in York South just a year ago, I remember the candidates going door to door saying: "Vote for us in the by-election. We're going to preserve rent control. We're not going to touch it." I think even their members here in the House went door to door in York South in the apartment buildings saying: "Oh, no. We're not going to touch rent control." Can you imagine if you went through the city of Toronto, Madam Speaker -- you're familiar with that -- going door to door as a Conservative candidate saying you were going to get rid of rent control? They'd throw you out the door. You wouldn't have got a vote in half the ridings -- never mind half -- almost all of them, if you had said in 1995, in the election in June you were going to do this to tenants.

Now that you have the majority we're seeing your true colours, where you're going to attack tenants whom you promised you would protect. All of a sudden, you feel somehow you didn't make that commitment, but the tenants will not forget. The seniors especially will never forget what you're doing to their sense of security. Because in many of these apartments, which I know the minister likes talking about as being places you wouldn't live in, there are some very nice, neat little apartments throughout our city, throughout Metro, that tenants on meagre incomes, especially seniors on meagre pensions -- they like living in those units but they don't like the threat now hanging over their head of some landlord, because you've given them the incentive, if they push people out of an apartment, they're going to make money off it. You're doing something that is really objectionable in terms of giving people a sense of comfort in their own little apartments for the most part. That is not right and it's something you didn't promise in the last election.

Also, the interesting thing -- we had a meeting in north Toronto about rent control and about this bill, and I remember one of the city of Toronto councillors and the local MPP, Mr Saunderson, were there. We asked him, "What about the rent registry?" where you record the rent of each apartment, what it was in dollars and cents. "Are you going to keep the rent registry so when the new person comes in they get an idea of what the rent was that the old tenant paid?" "Oh no, we're going to get rid of the rent registry." So you're not going to know what the previous rent was. There's no way of checking it.

The other thing is the minister says, "We're going to do something about property taxes in apartments." There's a real problem there, though. There's no pass-through mechanism, so if property taxes are lowered on an apartment, there's no compulsion in this legislation to ensure that the lower property tax goes to the tenant. There's no pass-through mechanism where they get the reduction, so you leave it up to the landlord to notify, and out of his or her good graces to do it. Those lower property taxes on apartments may never be seen by the tenant, but you can rest assured those higher costs will be passed through to the tenants. The tenants, again, are usually, in most cases, people who cannot afford any more increases, especially in their basic accommodation.

The other big threat: If you recall, in the early 1980s the developers were going crazy in Toronto. They thought they could really hit the mother lode by converting rental apartments, especially the good ones. I remember in my own area near Holy Rosary Church there was a series of very good apartments, very affordable, on the subway line. A couple of wheeler-dealer developers came in there and said, "We're going to convert these to condos," and luckily there was legislation put in which stopped the conversion of rental to condominium. As you know, the rationale was that sure, there are some people who can afford to maybe move from a rental situation into a condo type of situation, but there are a lot who cannot. They cannot afford to find the $50,000 or $100,000 or $200,000 all of a sudden to become an owner, because they may be on pension, they may be out of work.

This conversion proviso in this bill is another threat, and the apartments which get threatened there are usually the most desirable, the best-kept. All these apartments are going to have the threat of condo conversion over their heads because of this legislation, because it makes it easier.

There was another game that was being played in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Toronto, and that was the Hell's Angels caper, I used to call it. They used to move a few bikers into one of your local apartments, trying to encourage the other tenants to move. This is probably going to come back again because this bill gives more impetus to demolishing existing buildings. Now, demolition of apartment units is very difficult. This is going to make it much easier to do that.

Here's a poor senior or a single parent in an apartment, who now has the threat of being pushed out because the landlord gets a bonus for getting you out of the apartment.

Mr Michael Brown: A bounty.


Mr Colle: A bounty, the Mike Harris bounty for getting you out of the apartment, and on top of that, the threat of being converted into a condo, which they can't afford to do, and then the threat of being bulldozed literally and the apartment building being demolished. They will probably do that, because there may be a nice five-storey walkup or a three-storey walkup in a very good area. They'll bulldoze that building and put up a 15-storey condo or something.

That is the threat of Bill 96. That is the new Ontario of Mike Harris and the Conservatives that they didn't promise in the last election because they knew quite well they wouldn't have got any seats in Metro if they had gone door to door saying they were going to convert rental to condo, they were going to bulldoze rental accommodation and they were going to remove rent control.

That's what this is. This is the removal of rental protection by a thousand cuts. Over the next four or five years we are going to see a basic destruction of affordable housing, especially in cities like Metropolitan Toronto, Ottawa and other large centres. It is really an attack on the most vulnerable, as simple as that. This government knows who lives in these units. They know that for the most part they are people who need a bit of help, they are people who through no fault of their own may be on pension.

This government, in this bill, even goes so far as to amend the Human Rights Code to make it easier to stop people from going into affordable housing. Even the Ontario human rights commissioner, a good old Tory, I think his name is Norton -- Al Leach used to work for Keith Norton at one time. Here's Al Leach's former boss saying: "Hey, what you're doing here is a threat to basic rights. It is discrimination against people, who now have to have more income maintenance information. That is essentially against the basic rights that Ontarians have."

Here is Keith Norton saying of section 200 of Bill 96, "Get rid of it," because you're threatening their human rights. So not only does this bill threaten people's economic livelihood, now they're going to do this witchhunt for people on limited incomes, because they're going to do more income checks. Keith Norton, Al Leach's former boss, says this is wrong. It's not the opposition Liberals or NDP saying it; it's Keith Norton, a lifelong Tory saying you're threatening their basic rights with this piece of legislation.

How clear can it be that this government doesn't really care? They will even amend the Human Rights Code to get their way for their friends. That is one of the most despicable parts of a despicable bill that is being introduced.

We must not forget that this government is not interested in helping tenants. In fact, there is not even a quorum here in the House. I don't know where they are. At the Albany Club? I call for a quorum. Ring down to the Albany Club. Get them back here. There should be a quorum here, Madam Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: Member for Oakwood, you can continue.

Mr Colle: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for bringing the government back from the Albany Club so they can find out what's going on with tenants in this province. I think maybe that's what this government is doing that's wrong. It's not listening to the real grass-roots Conservatives. It's listening to too many of the whiz kids. The whiz kids probably have never had to pay rent, they've never had to struggle. They've gone through life with a silver spoon in their mouth. Maybe they don't know what it's like to have to meet next month's rent. I wonder if the whiz kids who wrote this bill ever lived in rental accommodation. That's what I wonder.

I don't know if they've got any apartments in Listowel, but I bet you if people from Listowel wrote this bill -- they're probably a lot more down to earth than the whiz kids who wrote this piece of legislation. It would probably at least protect our seniors -- even to do that -- or single parents who are in apartments. But the whiz kids don't care about that. All they care about is being patted on the back when they go down to the Albany Club. "Who did you hit today?" That's what the whiz kids are all about.

We have to try to appeal to old-time Conservatives, who have got to stop and say, "Why are we doing this to the most vulnerable in our province?" whose income, generally speaking, is about half of what a homeowner's income is. Why do we have to do this? What is the purpose of dismantling rent control? Whom does it help? Does it build more housing? We know it doesn't do that. It doesn't build any more housing.

Does it do anything in terms of the economy? I don't really know because there are no impact studies. What does this do to ordinary seniors and people who are living on the margin when you increase their rent? This government doesn't even know how high that rent's going to be. We could be faced in some cities with a rent explosion a year from now or two years from now. The government doesn't know. No one has asked for those documents.

What does it do to people's ability to survive in an economy that is troublesome at best, an economy that is sporadic, an economy certainly that's not very good for a majority of tenants, as I said, who are single parents, seniors and the very young. Think of all the children who live in affordable housing. You're not only threatening the adults; in most apartments there are children.

I'll give you one example of what's happening. There is a severe shortage of housing. This government should recognize that. I went into a small, little home on Sanderstead Avenue in my own ward, a small, little bungalow, where you've got a retired couple who have a son living with them who's not well, and they have a daughter who moved back home with her husband who's out of work. She just had twins. They're living in a basement cold storage room. There is a waiting list so long for housing in Metro, they can't get into affordable housing: Metro housing, MTHA, Cityhome. They can't get in because this government closed the door on social housing. Is this bill going to help that couple who are out of work and who have those twins -- two baby boys, they were about three months old when I saw them, they were born prematurely too -- living a cold storage room in the basement of a house on Sanderstead Avenue in the city of York?

Will this bill do anything for those two little babies? Will this bill help at all to provide a job for the father or the mother? I doubt it. Will this bill relieve the anxiety of the grandparents, who are already taking care of a disabled son who is 30 years of age in that little bungalow? I don't think so. That's why this bill is a regressive bill that doesn't make any kind of sense. It is not a just bill. In fact it is just the opposite. It's an unjust bill that makes no sense.

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


Mr Marchese: I want to thank the member for Oakwood for the comments he has made. They are in agreement with the comments that we have made on this side. I want to raise some of those issues again because the member for York Mills certainly has raised my ire this afternoon and I want to pick up on some of those things he addressed because they relate to what the member for Oakwood has touched on as well.

I would remind the member for York Mills about several things, because he said the people who stay in their apartments are protected, they have nothing to worry about. But they do, for several reasons. Seventy per cent of all tenants move within a five-year period. That means effectively rent control is dead, it's killed. Seventy per cent move within a five-year period. Once they know this bill will affect them, they're going to stay in their apartments. If they stay, they're sitting ducks. The member for York Mills says they're not affected but they are. I want to explain briefly and clearly why.

First, they're subject to the guideline increase of 2.8%. Everybody gets that; it's a guideline increase. Then they get the 3% cap that we put for capital repairs, but they've added 1% more. The member for York Mills doesn't speak to that. That's 4%, so that's 6.8%. Then the pass-through, which the member for York Mills speaks of as modest. The pass-through passes on property taxes and utility bills. That's not modest. It's going to be hell by the time this government gets through with municipalities. Property taxes are going to skyrocket and tenants are going to pay a deep price.

I'm saying to tenants, your homes are in jeopardy with this Reform-minded, Conservative government that we've got. You're in jeopardy and you need to fight back. You need to write to the minister, private and confidential, saying: "What you're doing is wrong. Restore what we've got, keep what we've got, because that's the best protection we've got." Fight back against this government.

Mr Gilchrist: It's my pleasure to rise to comment on the address by the member for Oakwood, who I think, along with the member from the NDP who spoke earlier, has misinterpreted the initials of this act. It's the Tenant Protection Act, not the Totally Pessimistic Attitude. I know that is what you've brought to this House for every bill that we've debated so far this year. Maybe, just maybe, in the course of the debate you might cite a specific section of the bill rather than dealing in the kind of over-the-top rhetoric that has absolutely no relation to what we should be doing in this chamber, which is dealing with the substance of the bills. Let's just remind people at home what exactly the five premises of this bill are.

First, we want to protect tenants from unfair rent increases and arbitrary increases. To that effect, we're preserving exactly the same percentage rent increase as is the case today: 2.8%.

Second, we want to improve maintenance and get tough on landlords who fail to take care of their buildings, who have left the rental stock in the condition it is today precisely because of what you didn't do during your five years, and your five years, in office. We want to create a climate where people will invest in new housing.

Let's talk about how attractive it was under the NDP. In 1995 in Metro Toronto -- that's the Metro Toronto that 50,000 more people moved to that year -- there were 25 apartment units -- not buildings but units -- built in Metro Toronto. Small wonder we have more demand than we have supply.

We want to streamline the administration and cut red tape to create a faster, fairer system dealing with disputes between landlords and tenants.

Finally, we want to make sure that in this part of the government's operations, as with all the bills we bring forward, there is a renewed spirit of optimism that both tenants and landlords will share as we move forward to a more prosperous Ontario.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): First of all, the comment that I'd like to make is, why aren't we discussing the flying wheel bill? It's a matter that --

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. The comments and questions are to the member for Oakwood's speech.

Mr Gerretsen: But Mr Speaker, it's done through you, and he talked about this as well. That's what we should be debating here today, because after all, that's what the people who are using the roads are very concerned about, especially when you take into account the number of people who have died.

Second, I would just very quickly like to refer again to the letter from Mr Norton, who is the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Mr Norton at one time was a member, as a matter of fact for the same riding I now represent, and he indeed was a very good member. Of course, he was a member of a Conservative government, not a Reform government. But let me just very quickly remind you what he says in his letter to the government. It says:

"I am writing to you about the proposed amendments set out in Bill 96.... Bill 96 raises concerns that I would like to bring to your immediate attention.

"The commission is aware that the landlords' associations have been lobbying the government to introduce changes that will allow landlords to screen tenants using income information that is used to evaluate ability and willingness to pay rent. Any regulations that may be promulgated to this effect will raise serious human rights issues for seniors, single parents and persons who are receiving public assistance."

He ends his letter by saying, "It would indeed be unfortunate if some of the most disadvantaged among Ontarians were subject to the additional burden of legislation that effectively allows landlords to `opt out' of basic human rights standards."

I wish this government would take these matters into consideration. This, after all, is from a former cabinet minister who used to serve on the opposite side.

These are the real concerns we're talking about. What about the human rights of tenants who are in the apartments of Ontario, who want to get some protection rather than being attacked by the bill that is presently before us?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): The member for Oakwood in his remarks made it clear that tenants are going to get whacked by this government under this bill and are losing a whole number of rights that are currently in place for them under the act now in place. Let's take a look at some of those rights and reinforce that very issue.

First of all, the rent registry: eliminated, gone. It reminds me of how this government is going to deal with the HSTAP, which tried to connect health care workers to health care jobs. How are tenants going to know what's available to them when that registry is gone? They won't. They'll be out on the street.

Gone: rebates on rent. Under the current law you can go back six years and apply for a rebate. Under the changes this government wants to bring in, you'll only be able to go back for a year. Where's the fairness in that?

Under the current law, there's a provision for costs no longer borne. If as a landlord you bought a new fridge and it was part of your rent and it became paid off, then of course that cost no longer appeared in your rent. That's now going to be gone, so those additional costs continue in the estimation of your rent on and on, month after month, even when that's paid off.

You used to be able to get an order to prohibit a rent increase if there was a property standards violation by the landlord. That's now gone. The government says, "We'll fine the landlords a bit more." Well, there's not enough property standards staff to make that happen, so any kind of effect it might have to try to force people to get rid of the violations and clean up their act -- that's now gone.

I heard the member for York Mills earlier say: "Tenants who stay in their apartments now are protected. This legislation has no impact." I don't know what planet he's living on. For goodness' sake, any number of bad landlords are going to do everything under their power to try to evict tenants so they can raise that rent in that rental unit. That's going to happen. We know that. We also know that 70% of tenants move every five years, so as soon as they move and they're looking for something else, they're going to get hit again.

This is bad for tenants. It only helps the friends of these people: the big developers, the big landlords.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Oakwood for two minutes to respond.

Mr Colle: I appreciate the comments from my colleagues. The member for Fort York has, I think, door-to-door experience of what this bill is really going to mean to ordinary people, and I certainly know of his sincerity in his feelings.

The member for Scarborough East -- how can he say in all honesty that he feels the Tories are going to get tough on landlords? Who believes this Mike Harris government is going to get tough on them? I'm sure landlords all over this province are shaking in their boots, saying, "We're afraid of Mike Harris."

My colleague the member for Kingston and the Islands pointed out a very specific part of this bill, section 200, which attacks basic human rights. It allows the government to opt out of basic Human Rights Code protections. The former member Keith Norton is saying that as the human rights commissioner. How specific can you get about what's wrong with this bill?

The member for Sudbury East talked about what's going to happen to property standards. In essence, this bill is a free-for-all. It essentially gives a green light to the worst landlords, those landlords who will take advantage of -- this bill has got more loopholes than the Bre-X stock. This is what this bill is going to do. As I said at the beginning, it really puts a bounty on every apartment unit in Ontario, because it's going to encourage bad landlords to intimidate and push seniors, the young and the vulnerable out of their units so they can get a higher rent. It's bad legislation.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Riverdale.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you, Chair, and I thank you for switching the chair with me today so I could participate in the debate. I appreciate that.

The first thing I'm going to talk about in this odious piece of legislation, because I am so completely offended by it, is the issue that my Liberal colleague from Oakwood has talked about quite a lot today, and that is that the amendment to this bill would amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to allow the landlords to not rent to certain people -- yes, people -- in our province.

The landlords will now be allowed, after this bill passes with this amendment, to refuse to rent to people on social assistance and other disadvantaged groups on the basis of what they call income information. What this means is that single mothers trying to get back to school, trying to get a job, or just there taking care of their children, may be turned down by landlords because they're now allowed to do this income test. What a terrible signal that is for this government to be sending to the poor people of the province.

Mr Gilchrist: If you can pay the rent, the landlord will take you.

Ms Churley: The member for Scarborough East has already begun. I believe what he said was, "If you don't pay your rent, you shouldn't be allowed to rent." Who's to say that people on social assistance don't pay their rent?

Mr Gilchrist: You did. I didn't say that.

Ms Churley: There are people from all layers of society, from the lowest income to the highest income, who create scams, who cheat the tax system.

Mr Gilchrist: Don't put words in my mouth. Shame on you. You should be ashamed.

Ms Churley: Speaker --

Mr Gilchrist: Oh, you don't like it when it's the other way around, eh? You have a little trouble with that.

Ms Churley: These people, Speaker, are discriminating against the poor people of this province. They are through this bill, through this amendment, discriminating against poor people in this province. They are now allowing people --

Mr Gilchrist: You are saying that, not the bill. The bill does not say that.

Ms Churley: Member for Scarborough East, I know I'm not in the chair, but this is really getting out of hand.

What I'm talking about -- and I think the member for Scarborough East should listen for a moment. I've been there. I don't know if there are people in your caucus who have been there. I have been a single parent on mother's allowance for a while. The system that existed was quite necessary for me at that time. I have a lot of friends who are on social assistance who are single parents. I don't know how I would have felt during that difficult time in my life -- and it was a short time -- if I was in a situation where I would go to rent an apartment for my daughter and me and find out that I couldn't rent that apartment because I was on social assistance.

That is so absolutely disgusting, so low that it is almost unbelievable that you people can sit over there and allow this to happen. It is straightforward discrimination and it is absolutely disgusting, and you should know better. What you are saying to the landlords is, "If you find out somebody is on social assistance" -- and who knows what else it means? -- "low-income, disadvantaged, you can say no to them." It doesn't matter that they may have a perfect record.

Mr Christopherson: The disabled and seniors.

Ms Churley: Yes, the disabled and seniors, absolutely. But we know which kind of people will mostly be discriminated against. It will be single moms. It will be people from other countries, new Canadians, immigrants. I think some seniors might experience discrimination, but we know what this is really all about and we know which sorts of people will be discriminated against. This is ripe for the possibility of racism.

This is a very dangerous amendment. If you do nothing else with this bill, please withdraw that. You've got a letter from the human rights commissioner telling you it is discriminatory. Don't do it. Don't do this to our province at this time when over the past 40 years we've been making slow but steady advancements in trying to deal with racism, trying to create laws that help people who are experiencing racism, trying to create opportunities for poor people and disadvantaged people, trying to make sure they have a place to live.

This government is taking such a regressive, terrible step backwards because the landlords want to have that choice. I believe landlords should have the opportunity to feel comfortable that whomever that landlord is renting to is going to pay their rent. But I can guarantee you that there will be discrimination here and there will be people who will have a very hard time finding a home. I urge the government to withdraw it.

On top of this, at the same time the government is getting rid of, destroying, rent control in Ontario, they're also getting out of social housing. The people on the waiting lists -- I believe it's something like 7,000 now; I'm not quite sure of the number -- many of whom are trying to get into some form of social housing, are looking for rent subsidies, for assistance. That's going to go as well.

Here we have a double whammy. We have a situation where some disadvantaged people will be discriminated against when they try to rent an apartment, and it's going to become impossible in the very near future for those same people to get any form of social housing. This government has stopped building any new co-op or social housing, and furthermore, they're in the process of downloading all the existing housing stock to the municipality, which obviously will not be able to afford the upkeep, the maintenance, the infrastructure. We know subsidies are going to start going down the tubes.

These are the kinds of things that are happening at a time when unemployment is really high. Despite what this government said, that their tax cut for the rich is going to create jobs, we haven't seen it happening yet. We haven't seen any training programs put in place for disadvantaged people. "The tax cut for the rich is going to get them a job. Don't worry." Well, we haven't seen that kind of thing happen yet, and here we have a situation that is going to create even more hardship for those disadvantaged people.

I wish the backbenchers in this government would take a good look at what they're really doing in this bill. I heard them today and I hear them now standing up defending it, saying over and over, "It's going to be better for tenants." They can't have read the bill. They can't be listening. They can't be listening to the thousands of tenants who have spoken out against this bill, who have analysed the bill. It's not just us talking. They're telling you: "This is going to be a disaster for tenants in Ontario. Don't do it." They just don't listen. They are determined to move ahead and, in the process of moving ahead, put on blinders, will not listen to the impact this is going to have on the renters of Ontario.

I've been spending some time in East York talking to people, to tenants in a rather low-income high-rise area. Some of the buildings are in fairly good shape and others are in very bad repair. It would be interesting for some of these members to go take a tour of buildings like this in their own ridings or in East York or whatever and talk to the people who live there. I met seniors, I met all kinds of new Canadians, of all different nationalities, some of whom are in the process of learning English; some in the process of going back to school; some are landed immigrants; some have just become citizens; many young families -- all kinds of people from all walks of life in those apartment buildings. The thing they all have in common is that generally they are low-income. That is one of the common threads that holds them there. They can't afford for the rents to go up.


For some of the people I talked to -- and they showed me -- the balconies in their apartment buildings have been in such disrepair for so long that they've had to bar them from their children. They're terrified all the time that their children are going to find a way on to those balconies. The balconies are in such disrepair that they are dangerous.

The landlord in one particular building, the one I'm talking about, has for several years refused to repair the balconies and has for several years refused to paint the peeling walls and do a lot of the other very necessary repairs that need to be done. That is where I draw the line: when you see people, good people like this, trying to get on with their lives, trying to raise a family, paying their rent and finding the buildings in such disrepair because the landlords don't care.

Under the NDP legislation, at least their rents were frozen. In most of the buildings I went into, I heard stories from people who said, "Until the rent got frozen, our buildings were in similar shape," but it forced the landlords to fix them so they could get the guideline rent increase. In one building, which I just discussed, the landlord had not bothered and clearly, for whatever reason, is not concerned about it and has just taken the freeze for now. People in that building are quite worried about what happens to them after that's lifted, because the landlord will then be able to get away with leaving the building as it is and jacking up the rents.

Today I invite all the tenants, the over one million tenants of Ontario, to stand up and fight back against this. I've talked to a few people, just a few, who've said: "This government just doesn't listen. What's the point? They're going to do it anyway. Look what they did on megacity."

Well, yes, they finally rammed it through, but they had to make some changes to the downloading. They made a mistake in the long session we had in the committee of the whole and voted for an amendment they were supposed to vote against. There were some victories in that. Also, I think it taught them a bit of a lesson.

I say to people: Don't give up. Fight back. Don't wait for the next election so you can throw the rascals out. That's too late. Stop them now. Fight back. Don't make it easy for them. Write your letters. Come down here. Get involved with other groups which are fighting this government for taking away their democratic rights, taking away the workers' rights, labour laws, taking away their environmental laws and on and on and on. Fight back. Don't take it.

I've also talked to people who say, shamefacedly now, that they heard some of the Tories in the election campaign, people like Bill Saunderson, the member for Eglinton, and others say they were not only going to preserve rent control but were going to make it better for tenants. They heard that and believed it. They're embarrassed about it now.

I've talked to young families that had one young child and were expecting another. They're terrified because they know they're going to need a bigger place soon -- not quite yet, they can't afford it quite yet, but they're waiting for the day fairly soon when they're going to have to move. They're aware that when they move they're going to be in a situation where they're going to be at the mercy of the market, and there's nobody there to protect them.

Some of those people I talked to would fall under this amendment. They may be refused a decent apartment because they may be on welfare or new refugees who haven't made it into the labour force yet or a poor senior. These people have a double whammy here. The poorer you are and the more disadvantaged you are, the more difficult it is going to be to find affordable, and I use the word "decent," housing. Why should a poor person be forced to live in a musty, mouldy, dirty little bachelor apartment in bad repair for $200 a month or $400 a month or whatever it costs? And sometimes it's more than one person; sometimes families are crammed into little, dirty, grungy apartments because it's all they can afford, even in this economic climate and marketplace today with rent control in place. Some people are so poor, that's all they can afford. Why should they have to live there? Why shouldn't poor people be given an opportunity to live in decent, affordable housing?

I hear members from the Tory benches complain about co-op housing and social housing, that it costs so much to build, and there's the odd, so-called scandal hauled out here and there. Nobody mentions the thousands upon thousands of co-op and social housing units in Ontario, all over the province -- in their own ridings, up north, in Toronto, all over -- that were built with extreme caution, built in a financially stable way, and that help people. Co-op housing is a wonderful opportunity for single parents, for instance, for lonely seniors. Co-op housing is also a community where people get together as neighbours and work together to run the co-op and learn and move on from there.

When I hear these members criticize all forms of social housing and say, "Let the marketplace take care of it," I get really, really worried. The reason that over the past 30 years or so the Davis Tories started to deal with rent controls and social housing and then the Liberals -- the member for Scarborough North was the housing minister for a while; he'll remember this well -- was that we had a horrible housing crisis in Ontario. We did. Remember? It was the number one issue in this House. I remember the previous minister, before the member for Scarborough North, I believe, Chaviva Ho_ek, who has moved on to bigger and better things in Ottawa these days.

That was the issue for months on end, maybe a few years. There was a crisis in Metro Toronto. There wasn't enough social housing and there weren't enough rental units available for low-income people. There was a crisis because of some of the issues that some of my colleagues talked about earlier. Developers were buying up, gobbling up buildings and tearing them down and building high-rises, building condos. Nobody was building affordable accommodation.

We can see the writing on the wall here. We've been there before, except its going to be much worse now. This is a downward spiral. There is going to be a real crisis in affordable housing in this province. It's starting now and it's going to get worse over the next -- it will take a while. As with all this very destructive, anti-community, anti-people legislation, we're not going to see it tomorrow. It's going to unfold over the next several years, and then whichever party is in power is going to be dealing with a crisis again.

What we have to remember when we talk about crises in the sometime abstraction of debate in this place is that we're talking about real people. Sometimes it's hard to visualize these real people, and that's why it's so important to get out in those high-rises, to get out in those apartments and talk to people and hear their stories, see the way they're living, see their concern and their fear. That's what I would urge all members to do.


When I talk to tenants in high-rises in East York and in my riding of Riverdale -- and I have been to some of the more upscale buildings, with not really wealthy people living in them but buildings where people are a little better off than others, but many of whom are on fixed incomes or haven't had a raise for a while and don't expect one. Some are afraid they're going to lose their jobs, like the majority of people in Ontario these days. There's a lot of insecurity, and they take no comfort whatsoever when they're told: "Oh, it's okay. As long as you're in your apartment your rent will only go up by the guidelines."

I heard my colleague from Fort York say earlier that there's going to be a higher rent increase under the guidelines now, so they can count on higher rent even there. But they don't feel comforted when they're told, "Don't worry, as long as you don't move, you won't be touched by this," because they're afraid of harassment and they're afraid that for all kinds of reasons they will have to move, for reasons I outlined earlier. Some of my colleagues were saying earlier that about 80% of tenants move over five years.

We know this is really the demise of rent control. We know that, we see it coming, yet the government members won't listen to the tenants, won't listen to the opposition, won't listen to the experts in the field. They're letting it happen right under their noses. They will have to deal with this legacy someday because they're the cause of it, but right now, why look it in the face, why stare the results of this crass and very nasty piece of legislation in the face right now? You can't see it right now; you can avoid talking to tenants, all in all.

You can just go to big landlord meetings, and the minister can stand up and say, "Rent control has got to go," which is what he said. He can have all these people clapping and cheering and telling him what a wonderful fellow he is, and they can come to his and the Premier's fund-raisers and can make their donations. For now, that's all these government members have to do. But come the next election, especially those who have high-rises or even low-density but a lot of apartments in their ridings, if they want to get re-elected they're going to have to face these people and then they're going to see what people have to say. But I know for the time being they're not listening.

These people are sitting ducks, not sitting tenants. They're waiting.

Mrs Marland: Quack, quack.

Ms Churley: The member for Mississauga South is saying, "Quack, quack." Under normal circumstances I would find it cute and I would find it funny, but not now, because I have just been visiting some of these sitting ducks in the last couple of weeks. I see their faces in front of me. I see the little children and I see the real people. When you get out there and talk to the real people who are going to be affected by your legislation, it's hard to have a sense of humour when you're discussing the issue. There are those who might say that I sound just a tad self-righteous and a tad too emotional about it. I suppose I would admit that perhaps that's true, but I certainly cannot find anything amusing whatsoever in this discussion.

I suppose that when I sound a bit sad and disgusted and sometimes overwhelmed and emotional about this issue, it's because, as I said earlier, we all bring our own experiences to this place. Like all of you, I have a wealth of experience in different areas, and I bring that experience and my life experience to this place. I bring it to the way I deal with policies, the way I deal with issues, the way I analyse what's going to happen. We all do that.

As I said earlier, one aspect of my life is having been a poor person and having to raise a child for a while on my own and feeling very lucky that I had good friends and good opportunities, in a large part because of the social fabric, the social assistance, the community assistance that used to exist that this government is tearing down.

I know from my experience how very difficult it is for single moms trying to get back in the workforce or back in school or just to make it, just to feed their kids. It's a lot harder now, because those who are on welfare have been cut way back. Single mothers now have to go off assistance and get a student loan to even go back to school. Many of them are terrified of that because they can't even get grants. The most disadvantaged in our society are very worried about what's happening to the social structure that had been built up for many years around us. It's being collapsed by this government, and it's really shameful.

Now on top of all the other legislation and policy changes and deregulation and cuts throughout all the ministries in this province, on top of all the cuts to all kinds of services that the more disadvantaged in our society rely on, none of that is enough. They haven't helped enough of their friends yet. They've got a long list: "Landlords -- tick. We're almost there. We can almost tick that one off, can't we?" Where do tenants fit into this? Tenants aren't on their list; it's the landlords who are on their list, and that's about to be ticked off, just like the big bosses.

My colleague from Hamilton Centre is here. As our labour critic, he has watched this government do the same thing with ordinary workers and their rights.

As the critic for women's issues, I've watched cuts, I've watched second-stage housing closed down. Again, the more vulnerable you are, the more you are hurt, time after time after time, by this government's legislation and cuts and changes.

I find it really distressing. I find it extremely distressing. We don't just have interesting policy debates in this place. Sometimes what we are debating about -- and sometimes we joke; after all, it's where we work, and we talk back and forth. But I have to tell you that there are times when I feel most distressed and most depressed and sometimes absolutely furious about what this band of robbers can do. They come into this place and they give a tax cut to the rich. They have a list of their friends that they made promises to before the election and they're going down the list one by one. They don't care who gets in the way; they're just ticking each one as they go along.

I wonder who else is left on that list. I'm afraid to think who else is left on that list, because I can tell you, it isn't the most vulnerable in our society and it isn't the ordinary worker who's out there making a buck and supporting his or her family. It's not the children in our society. Look what's happening to education and child care, the family support plan, you name it -- run the gamut. We know what's going on here.

That's why I find it so distressing. We can see it happening. We can see it all slipping away. The Tories and Liberals and New Democrats and people out there from all the parties, the activists who are referred to these days as special-interest groups, those are the people who built the kind of caring society we have now, those so-called special interests, and they're being shafted. Everything they've built up over the last 20 years is going down the tubes.

That is what's happening with rent control. For years and years and years, tenants were being shafted. There were some good landlords, but there were no protections. For many years, tenant activists, those so-called special interests, worked with different levels of government and different parties and built up over the years the kind of tenant protection we have today. When our government came into power, we brought in the toughest rent control, I believe, in Canada. Yes, we picked sides. We chose to support and protect the tenants in this province. This government did what they usually do: They picked sides and they came down squarely on the side of the big landlord. Shame.


The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mrs Marland: It's always very difficult to sit in this House and listen to the kinds of arguments the New Democratic Party makes. They would have the public believe that they have the corner on compassion, have the corner on caring. For the member for Riverdale to talk about what this province has done and how it's been built over the last 20 years -- I say to that member, this province has been built over the last 130 years. We have had 130 years of every single political party that has served in this House doing the best they possibly could for the people of this province, and no party has the corner on compassion or the corner on caring, as you would suggest.

Your arguments simply are false, your arguments about what we do for the rich and what we do for the people who do not have as much money. You fail to mention, of course, that we have a health care levy paid for by the people in the higher income brackets. You never talk about that.

To deal more correctly with the bill that's before us, which is really what you were supposed to be talking about, if we had the kind of money that we could have to spend on everybody who is vulnerable in this province, the kind of money we could have if we were not spending 20 cents out of every dollar on interest on money we borrowed to provide the programs because that government took the provincial deficit from $48 billion to $98 billion in one year -- the NDP government doubled the provincial deficit. When we hand a cheque out today to any of these groups, it could be 20% higher to provide the programs we have if we weren't paying that kind of percentage on interest. So please stop fearmongering.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I would like to respond to the comments of the member for Riverdale who, as we all know, is quite sincere about what she says, quite knowledgeable when she approaches the topic and very concerned. I think the concern is what drives her most, because she is trying to somehow emphasize to this government that there are people out there who need protection, need a government who can understand. She drives that home, but sometimes I'm worried that the government is blocked in their thoughts to understand those issues.

I wonder if this government understands too that businesses today are having the highest profit in decades. One of the reasons they are enjoying this great profit is that workers are scared even to ask for an increase in pay. We get this downsizing, all this rhetoric that goes on, but profits are in the pockets of those who are better off, the rich.

Eaton's today is protected from bankruptcy, but somehow this government is trying to tell welfare people who have a house, "If you ever sell your home, you'd better pay off your debts here." They should tell Eaton's that kind of stuff, to pay off some of the small business people who are being ripped off under protection of bankruptcy.

We need the government to protect tenants and of course treat the landlords fairly, but they can always buy protection very easily through lawyers and access to justice. Tenants need protection. When the member for Mississauga South comes and says the NDP feel they have the corner on compassion, I think what the member for Riverdale is trying to say is that the bottom line we're looking at is not profit; the bottom line is human compassion and understanding that the government has a role to play in society. We need the government, any government, to protect them.

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the remarks of my colleague the member for Riverdale. I thought it was interesting that she evoked quite a response from the Tory back benches when she started to zero in on the issue of this government liking to label people and groups as "special interests." We have said consistently here in the New Democratic Party caucus that this government, from the time the writ was dropped in 1995 to date, has done everything they can to put a label of "special interest" on whoever they're about to go after. By doing that, they can say that they are justified because there's some undue influence, some disproportionate amount of power that these special interest groups have.

But it's interesting. The government doesn't consider their developer and landlord pals to be special interests. Banks aren't special interests. The very, very wealthy aren't special interests. Yet who has a greater interest in the laws that are passed here than the very, very wealthy? Some of the most wealthy families in this province are represented in that very caucus, and I have no problem and neither does the member from Riverdale in saying, "That's a special interest."

The fact of the matter is, when the member for Riverdale talked about the comparison between going after tenants and going after workers, she's dead on. You're taking away from tenants and giving to landlords, just like you took $15 billion away from injured workers and gave $6 billion back to your corporate pals. And when we talk about the tax cut, I ask anybody watching here, how much of the tax cut are you really getting in terms of benefiting your life? If you make $250,000 a year, you'd get $15,000 for that tax cut, 15 Gs. Are you getting that kind of benefit? Ask yourself who the special interests are.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): It's interesting to make a few remarks, having listened to the member for Riverdale in her presentation and some of the other speakers who have followed regarding whether there is sufficient tenant protection, that this bill has no tenant protection, vilifying people on one side or the other.

It would be interesting to point out that in this bill, or if you're talking about the whole condition of social, affordable housing today, whether you had this bill or the bill the new debtors party introduced back in the last five years -- the member for Riverdale spoke quite eloquently, but not very knowledgeably, about the state of our tenant buildings today, and they're completely irrelevant comments as to whether you had this bill or another bill in terms of the types of landlords you have, both public and private sector, who don't look after their buildings very well. We know we have that situation whatever types of laws you have.

But to top it off, I thought the most curious thing is, in this whole set of remarks by the members of the opposition parties, not one of them mentioned the lack of tenant protection for those people who live in Cityhome-type buildings or government buildings where they're subject to no rent guidelines. If Cityhome wants to yank up the rent increase, they can do it by 15% or 20%. They don't even have to justify that to anybody in terms of the rent control folks we have downtown here. We're so concerned about tenant protection, it's absolutely shocking that this member for Riverdale would defend such a bureaucratically riddled, so-called tenant protection regime we've had for the last 20 years in this province, brought about by very many false pretences by that party over there.


Ms Churley: I would like to respond to the members for Etobicoke-Rexdale, Hamilton Centre, Scarborough North and Mississauga South, last but of course not least.

All I'm really trying to say here today is that we all, as elected members, have an opportunity and indeed an obligation to protect the lower-income and the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged in our society, and I want to thank the members for Hamilton Centre and Scarborough North for supporting me and my words here today.

I want to say to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale that my concern is tenant protection and I'd be happy to look at amendments with you if we could find some way together to get rid of the most offensive and odious parts of this bill.

There was a time when I thought the member for Mississauga South was one of the compassionate members of that bunch, and I will say to the member for Mississauga South that I know a lot of Tories who are compassionate, but I don't see any of them in this Legislature. I don't. I know Liberals who are compassionate, and New Democrats, so I don't claim to have the only corner. I am saying that these guys have lost their way. There is no compassion over there.

Finally, I would say to the member for Mississauga South, when she gets up and talks about the NDP government borrowing money, we borrowed money to keep people afloat during the worst recession since the 1930s. They're borrowing money to give rich people a tax break. Make your own judgements on that.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Essex South has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs concerning assistance to flood victims. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter and the minister's parliamentary assistant may reply for up to five minutes.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I want to say at the outset that, notwithstanding the fact that this is called a debate, I prefer to handle this between the parliamentary assistant and me as a discussion of the very serious issue that has occurred on two events in Essex county recently, both on the shores bordering Lake St Clair and on the north shore of Lake Erie.

I want to point out to the members present some articles that have appeared in the Windsor Star recently:

"Waves Damage Mersea Township Breakwalls: Repairing the landscaping and fixing breakwalls could cost about $10,000 to $15,000 for each property affected."

"Flood Damage Reaches $750,000." This is dated April 15. The previous one was dated April 9. "Flooding in Essex county has already caused $750,000 damage this year, according to the Essex Region Conservation Authority."

May 2, I quote from an article headed: "Swamped Shoreline Residents Bail Out." A Mr Malone, a constituent of Essex South, says he has spent $3,500 for shoreline protection earlier in the year and estimated the latest storm will cost him another $3,000.

From the Windsor Star of May 5: "Area Flood Damage Tops $1 Million: As with previous storms, Butch Mitchell of Cobby Marine in Mersea said he anticipates a flood of phone calls following last Thursday's storm, the second gale in three weeks."

That's why this is of great importance to the residents of Essex county bordering on the shores of Lake St Clair and Lake Erie. In my question of May 6, the one that I am objecting to the answer, or at least suggesting that the answer wasn't complete enough for me to be satisfied, was this: I simply asked the question, "Will you secure the funding for this loan assistance," which is under the Shoreline Property Assistance Act, "and help the flood victims in Essex and Kent county?"

The minister in answer said they had received a letter more than two weeks prior to that, which of course was from the township of Mersea, where the council of the township of Mersea endorsed a request to the province of Ontario requesting that the Shoreline Property Assistance Act loan program funding be reinstated.

I suspect the parliamentary assistant will say: "There's no money in that act. There's no money provided for that." That may be true. He will probably remind us that the money was taken away in 1988 or 1989 by a previous government. That too is true. But the fact of the matter is that the Shoreline Property Assistance Act is a legitimate piece of legislation that is still on the books. Even though it's unfunded, we're simply asking that the minister provide funds so that loans can be made, so that repairs can be made, so that damage can be prevented in the future. They're looking under disaster assistance or emergency funding as well.

In some instances, grants would be logical and certainly would be accepted by the residents. In other instances, it may not be defined as a disaster, but certainly it's of concern to the residents that they protect their property for any future storm events that may occur.

That's where I'm suggesting the shoreline protection act, at the discretion of the minister, should be funded. Some, not all, are going to need grants; some are simply looking for loans to assist them to repair their property. That's what we're looking for.

That's all I'm asking the parliamentary assistant, in place of the minister, to do tonight: to assure the residents of Essex county that there will be funding available to help prevent future damage.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member's time has expired.

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): First of all, I'd like to say that the issue before us that we're debating this evening is the question that was asked on May 6 and the answer the minister gave. I think no one, from the presentation just made by the member across the aisle, is arguing the fact that there was considerable damage in Essex. I think the minister made that clear when he made the comment, "Everybody recognizes the amount of damage that was done as a result of those floods, and I will be glad to report back to the member after I have the response" from the staff. With that he suggested that a number of meetings and discussions were ongoing with the ministry staff and the local officials.

At that point the member opposite made the comment: "You haven't been meeting with anybody. You just sloughed it off. At least you could be honest about it." I think those were withdrawn, but they are still in the Hansard.

I want to point out that on May 12 the minister returned to the Legislature and informed the member: "I can tell you that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has been touch with the representatives of the area municipalities. On April 11 and 14, our south-western regional office spoke to the clerk of Mersea township, the clerk of the village of Erieau, the treasurer of the village of Erie Beach and the clerk of the township of Dover."

Mr Crozier: That was prior to their letter of the 24th. That's what I was referring to.

Mr Hardeman: The question was whether the minister was meeting or having discussions with the local representatives. I think it's obvious from that he was.

I also have here a note that relates to a call --

Mr Crozier: He was discussing it before they raised it.

Mr Hardeman: I think the member opposite commented about the call that was made to the ministry and that he was good enough to be able to dial the phone and call the ministry. I guess it was to point out the abilities.

I have a note suggesting what conversation took place. "Mr Crozier explained that a member of his staff had not clearly understood that the ministry staff had been in contact with Mersea township staff and were advised that no immediate ministry action was requested. Mr Crozier closed the telephone conversation by asking the writer to extend his apologies to those who were involved in the confusion that the question had created."

I want to clear the record on the two different programs. A number of the municipalities have requested or are considering requesting -- that's what the discussions are about -- disaster relief funds to be provided to look after the disaster that occurred in their area.

The request from Mersea township is a request, I want to point out -- I think it's very important -- to reinstate the shoreline program and not to get funding from the program. In Mersea township they too realize that this program has not been utilized since 1988, when it was taken out of practical use by a former government. They realize that. They are asking the government to look at that, to reinstate that program so it can be utilized for the problems they have in that area. I want to point out that the ministry has been in contact with them to discuss these issues with the local municipalities to see what we can do to help them out.

It's very important that we go through -- I have here for the record -- all the people who were contacted; I'm not sure that's very important to the member opposite or to any members of the Legislature. We can all be sure that there have been a number of conversations held between municipalities and the ministry to deal with the issue at hand.

Last but not least I want to point out that if the program for shoreline rehabilitation was to be put back in place, it would be administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources, not the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The reason it is under the auspices of municipal affairs is that the loans would be directed through municipalities, and it's for that reason it is with our ministry.

I think the minister made it quite clear that we need to find out what needs to be done and to see whether help can be provided for the communities in Essex county that have suffered through this disaster. He is doing that, and as he said on the two previous occasions, he will be reporting back when he has all the information from the ministries and provide as much assistance as possible to those people. He will be doing that as quickly as possible.

The Acting Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1812.