36th Parliament, 1st Session

L196 - Thu 29 May 1997 / Jeu 29 Mai 1997



















































The House met at 1001.




Mr Ouellette moved second reading of the following bill:

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

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

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): Before getting into the bill I'd like to thank all those groups and organizations, and particularly my staff, who took the time and made the commitment to this bill, and Darrell for his dedicated hours of work.

I had met, as many members do, with a large number of groups and organizations within their community and found that there seemed to be a commonality of areas of concern. It appeared that we certainly have a large number of judges in the judicial system who perform their job adequately, and not only adequately but with great ability, and make decisions that make a great number of individuals happy.

However, as in all cases, there are a few bad apples that spoil the bunch. Through that, I had tried to find a commonality in an area where these groups from all different sectors could come to be aware of how to deal with the situation. I had met and come up with groups such as the one I am about to read here:

"The occurrence of violence against women and children in all of our communities is epidemic and systemic.

"The current disparity in the rights between victims of offenders, as well as judges appointed without mandatory performance evaluations to serve and be accountable to the community, has created a systemic endorsement of prejudice, bias, ignorance and the potential for abuse of power.

"The lack of accountability and discretionary power of judges is unjust.

"Parole boards who do not hear from the victims of crime about the effects and consequences of the crime(s) committed against them are unable to make informed decisions regarding the release of inmates.

"Prior to the release of any inmate into society, all sides must be heard. The safety and personal rights in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be upheld for the victims whose rights and freedoms have already been violated by the inmate.

"Without this process justice will not prevail.

"Bill 130 is a serious attempt to create what has been missing for too long, mandatory performance evaluations for judges and the right for victims to actively participate, without the presence of the inmate or the inmate's representative, in parole board hearings.

"We endorse Bill 130."

That's signed by Laurel Hansen, the public education coordinator for the Oshawa Durham Rape Crisis Centre.

The bill is actually designed to do two things. I'll deal with the second aspect first. It allows victims, as laid out by the government of Canada, the ability to make parole board hearings, with the convicted individual and their legal representatives removed from the room. Also, it gives a 45-day notice period so that victims have the opportunity to prepare and be ready for their presentation to parole. That is the second aspect of the bill.

The first aspect is that judges are subject to a performance evaluation every three years. The Chief Justice of Ontario is the individual who establishes the performance evaluation, so it is removed from the political realm in that aspect, and then it is approved by the Judicial Council. I must stress that in no way does this bill allow the Legislature or politicians to question the decision of any judge. What it does is evaluate their ability to make those decisions.

One area of concern that I'll bring out now is subsection 3(4) under "Scope of evaluation." "In a judge's performance evaluation, a decision made in a particular case may be considered." It doesn't say "shall" or "will"; it says "may be considered." The concern is that if one case is part of a performance evaluation, then the decision on that case made by the judge could be considered by politicians to be influencing how a decision is made.

The reality is that in a performance evaluation of the last three years -- and as has been mentioned to me, there are some cases that actually last three years -- if a judge only handles one case in three years, I believe that case should be a part of the performance evaluation; also the fact that if a judge actually does one case that lasts an entire year or a three-year period and takes up one third of the judge's time, then quite possibly that one third of the time should be looked at as part of the performance evaluation.

As I said, it is the Chief Justice who establishes the performance evaluation; it is reviewed and approved by the Judicial Council; and it specifically states "in a particular case may" -- not "will" or "shall" -- "be considered."

Therefore what I'm hoping to see or hear, and possibly we'll hear from others on this, is that a judge's performance is based on their actual ability to make decisions. Through the committee process, should the decision be made that this aspect appears to take too much control of the judicial system, I would be more than happy to review that, so long as we get the opportunity to hear input from different groups.

As I said, every three years all the judges in the province have a performance evaluation done on them. What takes place then is that the performance evaluations are referred to a committee of the Legislature. The reason that takes place is because the current system is completely internal. We have no idea of all the details of what takes place with any consideration of evaluations being done as a result of public complaints. The current process only allows for a review of a judge through a public complaint. It's all kept internal and we have no idea of the results, of punishment or of any action that's taken place.

In order to remove it from the secrecy of the judicial system, to make sure that there is proper performance evaluation and that judges are reviewed in a manner that is acceptable to the public of Ontario, we move it into a standing committee of the Legislature for review at that time. At that time the committee reviews those evaluations, and this allows as well the opportunity for judges to be praised for their good work. As I'm sure will come out later on, there are a large number of judges out there who do their job with exemplary performance. Those can be subjected to responses and the public can know exactly where their positions are and how they're doing.

Then those judges who do not meet the standard of performance evaluation as established by the Chief Justice are referred by the committee. For those the committee feels should be removed from the bench, it is recommended to the Attorney General at that time that this individual be removed from the bench, thereby giving the province the ability to remove those judges who are not performing in the manner they should be.


We've been receiving faxes and letters from a large number of organizations. Here's another one:

"On behalf of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, please accept this letter of support for your private member's bill entitled Courts of Justice and Ministry of Correctional Services Statute Law Amendment Act, 1997."

That is, as I said, from the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, signed by Steve Sullivan, the executive director.

Here's another one:

"Over the years, we too have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of judicial accountability within our criminal justice system, and it is a notion that is echoed by many crime victims in the province of Ontario. This lack of accountability serves nothing more than to magnify the public's already dwindling faith in the justice system. Establishing a performance evaluation for provincial judges would not only ensure that the integrity of the law is upheld, we feel it is a vital step towards restoring the public's faith in the justice system."

That was sent to me and signed by Gemma Harmison, research director from the Victims of Violence Canadian Centre for Missing Children out of Ottawa.

Now, it did state in there that there was a lack of faith in the judicial system. The Canadian Bar Association's Systems of Civil Justice Task Force Report of 1996 states that the actual public confidence and trust in the judicial system is only 16.7%. That is not only by the public; that's by lawyers as well.

As well, I'm very happy to see the former chief of police from Thunder Bay here today to support the legislation, as well as the former deputy chief for the region of Durham, because I feel, as I've taken input from them, that their input was very significant.

I see that time is winding down. I have another letter here:

"I am in full support of any initiative intended to address inadequacies and flaws in our justice system and due process. Obviously, this includes the need to ensure accountability of everyone entrusted with responsibilities for the administration of justice."

It goes on to say that this bill actually does not go far enough. What they are asking for is to include justices of the peace. That is signed by Julian Fantino, the chief of police of the London police services.

As well, I think there's been a lot of support -- over 95% of the complaints that come forward are dismissed at the subcommittee level.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The time has expired. Further debate?

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): Let me begin by commending the member for Oshawa for the good intentions behind this private member's bill. I think we all agree that the issue of violence against women and children is a very serious one in our society. In fact, numerous studies have indicated that the system does not always work well for victims.

There was some attempt to make some changes in that regard. You may remember that early on in the session I introduced a private member's bill on victims' rights legislation. The government subsequently introduced its own. I find it curious to look at this particular piece of legislation in light of that piece of legislation. That particular piece of legislation gives no particular rights to victims of crime. It's a permissive bill. It has no positive obligation to inform anybody of anything. If the particular individuals in the justice system want to, they certainly can, but there's no onus on the judicial system and on the legal system to inform victims of crime.

I want to deal with the two issues separately, and unfortunately, for my liking, they would be better off as two separate pieces of legislation.

Dealing with the latter first, there has certainly been a great deal of discussion as to how much victims ought to be involved. I for one am very much in favour of having victims totally involved in the system because they, after all, have paid the highest price when a criminal inflicts the kind of hardship that they do on ordinary citizens. The difficulty, however, with this particular piece, this section of the bill, is that it doesn't truly attempt to understand what the current practice is. I think if a bill is going to be introduced, some attention has to be paid to that.

First, at the moment what happens with respect to parole board hearings is that two days' notice is given. We can agree that's simply not satisfactory. Two days' notice with no public announcement, which is the current practice, is certainly not enough. It's certainly not sufficient for victims first to be informed and then to respond.

I suppose one way victims could keep track, although it's their obligation to keep track, is that we know that under the system one third of a sentence has to elapse before a parole hearing will be scheduled. But that too is not sufficient, because it means the victim has to stay abreast of a particular criminal and what sentence that individual has served.

The difficulty is that at the moment the parole board takes a fair bit of time to collect the information that's required for a hearing. We're told that even one month before, they are still collecting information that will be presented to the parole board.

There are two competing interests here and a balance needs to be found. I would agree with the member for Oshawa that the balance has to be found in favour of the victim. Clearly there has to be notice given to victims in order to be able to present their case; 45 days may be too long, but two days is certainly not enough. So I applaud the spirit of this particular section of the bill and I urge the member to perhaps consider something that is more reasonable. In many pieces of legislation, 14 days is the time period that is given to inform. That may be a time limit you might want to look at as sufficient time to actually mail out a notice and receive a response from a victim. I agree with you in principle that two days' notice without any positive requirement to inform the victim is simply not enough.

The other issue is more difficult because it involves a long-standing parliamentary tradition and it involves our history as a constitutional entity. We have to remember that the independence of the judiciary is critical to the functioning of a democratic society. It is so fundamental that when the Stuart kings in England back in the early 18th century and the 17th century tried to remove judges because they ruled against them, there was a revolt. You may remember that when Mary and William ascended to the throne of England, one of the conditions was the Act of Settlement of 1701 that said they could not do just that, that the judiciary was independent and the monarch had no power to control the judiciary and to fire them under normal circumstances.

Our constitutional provisions in section 99 of the British North America Act closely parallel the Act of Settlement of 1701. So we have a tradition that dates back 300 years precisely because of the abuse of power of the majority: in that case the King; in future generations a majority of Parliament.

I want to just focus a little bit on section 99, because it is an important section. It states: "Subject to subsection (2) of this section, the judges of the superior courts shall hold office during good behaviour, but shall be removable by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons."

That provision exists in order to be able to remove judges in extreme circumstances, and I would point out to the assembly that in all of the time since section 99 was enacted, the procedure to remove judges has been instituted twice by the federal Parliament and never, ever brought to a conclusion, and never has it occurred at the provincial level.

What you are asking to do by way of this bill, however well-intentioned, is to allow a majority to thwart the independence of the judiciary, and I would argue to the member for Oshawa that the last thing we need in the judicial system is the interference of political power.


We can talk about performance evaluations; we can talk about how important it is to have a judiciary that functions well; we can talk about the importance of having the kind of training for judges that makes them aware of what happens on the streets of our cities and our towns; we can certainly talk about making them more sensitive, more compassionate, more understanding of the realities and the diversities that come before them. That's a far cry, however, from insisting that any Legislature, any government, any majority would have a final say as to whether a particular judge could be removed or not. That is an abuse of power. It is no different than the situation in which the Act of Settlement was first instituted in 1701.

Lest you think it could not happen, I would certainly point out to the assembly that we've had numerous instances in this House where legislation has been put through, the will of the majority of this assembly has been upheld contrary to the wishes of the populace. I need mention only the megacity legislation which, frankly, was against the wishes of the people upon whom this particular legislation will be exercised.

You will remember that 76% of the people who voted in the referendum with respect to that particular piece of legislation voted against the bill, yet the majority of this House, despite the wishes of the people, chose to enforce that legislation. It is not farfetched to believe that the same kind of extraordinary power could be wielded against the judiciary, which is for the citizen the last appeal.

That's what we really have to remember, that in our haste to ensure that we root out abuses, that we root out the incompetent, that we root out what appears to us to be deficient in the system, we do not take away the rights of citizens to appeal to an independent judiciary against the excesses of government and against whatever situations may be in society at that particular moment.

I would like to say to the member for Oshawa that truly his heart is in the right place. This particular provision, however, is not in keeping with how we expect a democracy to function. I'm sure that's not his intent. I can't believe that would be his intent. I think it's simply a question of being so keenly interested in this issue that some of the history of the independence of the judiciary has been lost.

In extraordinary circumstances there is now a possibility to remove the judiciary. At the federal level, as I've indicated, it requires an address of both the Senate and the House of Commons, and that still exists. I've indicated that with respect to the provinces no such obligation exists, but it could be argued that this precedent existing at the federal level could be imported at the provincial level.

What that provision does is imposes a very high standard on legislatures to ensure that judges are not removed arbitrarily from their position. When you subject the judiciary to a legislative committee, you really are playing with our democratic system and what you are doing is exercising your right as a majority to undermine a fundamental aspect of what makes our system work, and work very well.

With that, I want to say to the honourable member that in general I agree with the spirit behind the legislation but I cannot in conscience support the parts of the legislation that would seek to undermine the independence of the judiciary. I worry that the kinds of decisions that judges would have to make would not be as impartial and as fair as we would like them to be, that judges would be forever looking over their shoulders thinking about what their political masters -- because that's what we would become -- would think. That's not the kind of system that I think would benefit any of us.

With respect to the second element of the bill, it's certainly very good. I wish it had been imported in very strong terms in the victims' rights legislation. I would urge the member opposite to speak to the Attorney General and bring forth an amendment which would make it a positive requirement to involve the victims at all stages of the process and not simply as convenient within the process. I would also urge him, particularly with the parole provisions, to think about the time limit he has imposed. Maybe a shorter time period would still be effective to protect the rights of the victims and not hamper the process as it tries to prepare for parole hearings.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It's with pleasure that I have the opportunity this morning to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party on Bill 130, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act and the Ministry of Correctional Services Act. I have to say part of the problem is that there are two separate issues we're being asked to deal with this morning in passing this legislation: one dealing with judges and the other with giving notification to victims of crime of when the perpetrator of that crime comes up for a hearing before the parole board.

If those issues were dealt with separately, I would have no difficulty in saying that our caucus would have no problem in supporting the second issue, the amendments to the Ministry of Correctional Services Act. I'll speak to that first and then I'll speak to the judges act, because I had an opportunity yesterday to speak to the member who put forward this act and have done quite a bit of reading and thinking about what you're asking us to do in the first part.

Very succinctly and very quickly put, in the second part of the act the member is asking that if a person goes to jail because he or she has been responsible for a crime against a person, whenever that inmate comes up for parole, the victim of the crime be notified within, I think it's 30 or 45 days -- I would argue 45 days is maybe a little bit too long -- to know when that parole hearing is going to happen and have the ability to appear before the parole board. On that, no problem. I think it's high time, I think it's a step in the right direction and I'd have no problem supporting that particular part of the bill.

However, it's unfortunate that you've put this together with what you're asking us to do in the first part of the bill. What the member is asking is that judges could be fired by the members of this Legislative Assembly. There is a very long tradition, for good reason, within our British parliamentary system, and that is that the judiciary is separate from the Legislature. It is like that for a very good reason. We do not want politicians, we do not want the political process -- I see the judge from Ottawa hiding when I say that; well, grimacing then. But it is very true that we do not want to have politicians or the political process being mixed up in when a judge has to be removed from the bench, because quite frankly the judiciary has to have the independence it has for it to do its job and not worry, not for a judge to be on the bench every second minute worrying, "Am I going to get fired?"

Let's talk about how you become a judge and where we find ourselves now, because I think the actions of this government might be why this bill has come forward. Ian Scott, one of the former attorney generals of this province, in the David Peterson government, took great steps in order to start de-politicizing the appointment of judges. I think it's been fairly well recognized that the work Mr Scott did moved the province of Ontario quite a way in taking away that political interference when judges were appointed.

Succinctly put, in the past, the way you got appointed to a judgeship is just how it happens in the federal government: If you know Jean Chrétien, you're a judge, period. It's not who's most qualified. It's not who's the best judge. It's not the person who would be best qualified to do the job. If in the federal case I've got a Liberal Party card in my pocket and I know the Prime Minister and I've been at the proper number of fund-raisers, I get appointed to the bench as a judge. There are all kinds of examples of what's happened federally. Provincially that used to be the case. Thank God that Ian Scott, under a former government, said, "We need to put an end to that."


Now, we shouldn't say that just because the person who wants to be judge is a member of the governing party, he or she should not become a judge; of course not. But that should not be the sole determining factor. What Mr Scott did was to say, "All right, we're going to have an interview process that's set in place where an independent body will interview those applicants who become judges and they will make a recommendation to the Attorney General about who will be appointed as a judge." The Attorney General, in effect, got a short list and then chose from that short list who was going to be the judge. That really cleaned things up quite a bit. It didn't clean it up as much as we'd like, but it was a good step forward.

That process was then improved upon by a former Attorney General, Howard Hampton, and by the last Attorney General, Marion Boyd, when that whole interview process was not only strengthened but also expanded to cover justices of the peace. That was one of the areas Mr Scott had not touched when he had talked about this interview process.

What has happened is that a lot of the appointments that are being made to the bench -- I wouldn't say all -- on the part of this government tend to be political.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): No.

Mr Bisson: The member says no, but I've watched with a certain amount of interest some of the appointments of judges that have made it to the bench, and what ends up happening in a lot of cases is that a number of those judges have fairly strong attachments to the Tory caucus. In fairness to the members across the way, I'm not saying that every appointment has been that way, but it has certainly been a lot more political than I would like to see it, and that brings me to this point.

Judges have to be independent. Once they are appointed by the Attorney General to sit on the bench, they then need to be independent from the political process. We do not want to be in a situation where a judge is making a decision on whatever case or whatever individual is before the judge and has to worry: "Boy, am I going to be offending somebody? Will the Chief Judge refer me for an evaluation to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly?"

We don't want to be walking down that particular path because, for very good reason, for many years we have separated the role of the state, the role of the executive powers, the legislative powers, from that of the judiciary; they've been made independent. In the United States they have a system where there is quite a bit of interchange between the judiciary and the executive powers. I don't think we'd want to be going in that particular direction.

The other point is that in reading the bill, one of the parts -- I hope the member across the way can respond to is this, because if I'm reading this correctly, this would be extremely problematic. Subsection (6) of the bill reads, "Beginning in January and every third year after 1997, the standing committee" -- that's a standing committee of the Legislature, for those people watching -- "shall review the performance evaluations that it has received" -- that's from the Chief Judge -- "and shall recommend to the Attorney General that a judge should be removed from office if it is of the opinion, based on the judge's evaluation...."

Two points: In the opinion of who? If you read that legislation, it almost sounds like the members of the standing committee would have to accept the recommendations on the judge. That's what I'm reading. If that's what's happening, that's not at all what you want to do with the bill.

The second point is, "Beginning in January and every third year after 1997...." Does that mean that if a judge is sent before the evaluation committee in 1998 or 1999, he or she would have to wait till the year 2000? I'm not quite sure, the way the language is written, that would even work.

I would just end on that point to say I will be voting against this bill on the basis of what's in the first part of the act. I don't think we need to be mixing the political process with judges. On the second part, I wish I could vote for it, but it's a package. There's no way of splitting it.

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): I'm pleased to speak on my colleague's private member's bill in the Legislature today. I commend his concern for victims of crime. This bill sets up a mechanism to notify crime victims if the offender who victimized them is scheduled for a parole hearing. This government has shown a strong commitment to victims' rights. The Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services supports providing victims with notification of parole hearings and enabling them to make submissions to the parole board.

The Board of Parole currently provides victims who request information with advance notice of hearing dates. This advance notice is given as soon as an offender's scheduled date for a hearing is determined. Victims who register with the victims' support line will also be notified of parole hearings through the automated notification service.

The Board of Parole policy already enables victims to make a submission to the board in advance of the parole hearing and to obtain information about the offender's parole decision. The Board of Parole accepts written submissions such as victim impact statements in their current policy. This allows the victims to submit their arguments without having to attend the hearing, where they would have to see the offender and go to a correctional facility, as this is where the parole hearings are held. Presently, the rooms where parole hearings are held are small. To have the victims attend the hearings would present concerns with both security and space.

In principle, the ministry supports this legislation and fully agrees with my colleague's cause of furthering victims' rights. The ministry also acknowledges some limitations to the bill as it currently stands. For example, it may not always be possible to give the victims advance notice of 45 days.

This government has made several highly effective changes to the parole board and its policies. Thanks to a variety of measures, the Ontario parole system is experiencing the lowest rate of granted parole releases in 10 years. This involves changes in policy and it involves appointing people to the parole board who have a strong commitment to law and order, people who aren't going to endanger public safety by granting parole to people who do not meet stringent guidelines. We have rebalanced the parole system to ensure that in all cases victims' rights come before offenders' rights.

Parole is a privilege, and this government has worked to ensure that it is treated as a privilege. Parole is no longer the inherent right of any prisoner who serves the allotted fraction of their sentence. It is a privilege that must be earned and that is not handed out lightly. The ministry has undertaken some important steps in making the parole system tougher and more demanding. It has pushed for more attention to victims' rights.

In conclusion, while the ministry strongly supports the intent of this bill, the parole board has policy to address the concerns of victims' notification and of victims' rights to make submissions at parole hearings. The ministry cannot support the bill's passage without amendments. It is the ministry's conviction that the issues raised are better dealt with on a policy level than on a legislative level.

I invite my colleague to meet with me to discuss changes to parole policy and I congratulate him for his concern for victims.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): It's an interesting bill that mates an amendment to the Ministry of Correctional Services Act with one to the Courts of Justice Act.

I'll concur with Mr Bisson in saying that there's no quarrel whatsoever with the proposition of advising victims of a pending parole release and an opportunity for victims to respond to the decision or direction being taken by the parole board. At the same time, I have great concern about whether this government indeed has given effect to protection of victims or consideration of victims' rights.

The Victims' Bill of Rights, much touted, seems to have fallen into the wastecan of legislative efforts. Most recently, this government should be aware of the case of Linda Evans, for instance, in Welland, for whom the Victims' Bill of Rights meant diddly-squat to this government. A plea bargain was struck in contravention of the spirit of the Victims' Bill of Rights, and she has a strong sense that this government has little regard for victims.

In a case just prior to that, one which we raised here in the Legislature, and it was raised by the member for St Catharines as well, there was again another plea bargain -- in this case it dealt with a young offender, and so be it -- where victims' rights were totally disregarded, notwithstanding that the matter happened to be brought to the attention of the Attorney General.

This government wants to talk a big game about victims and certainly hopes to exploit an undercurrent running through all of our communities, one of fear of crime and fear of victimization. At the same time, it underresources police forces, it underresources crown attorneys' offices; it is a party to the destruction, the demolition of the legal aid plan. It's our view that the role of defence counsel is as important to the maintenance of justice and the acquisition of justice, for victims as well as those accused, as effective, trained and resourced crown attorneys.


So I'm not going to take the hook here. This government has failed victims. It has failed victims of crime by virtue of its abandonment of police forces, its abandonment of courts, its abandonment of crown attorneys and its abandonment of adequate funding for a legal aid plan, which is essential if justice is going to be done.

I'm going to move to the former part of the bill. This is oh so strange coming from a government which, as you have already heard, again from my colleague Mr Bisson, has circumvented the arm's-length screening and appointment recommendations process that was established -- and we acknowledge -- by one of our finest attorneys general, Ian Scott, and maintained and built upon by Howard Hampton and Marion Boyd respectively.

This government again talks a big game about eliminating red tape and bureaucracy. Horsefeathers -- all meaningless, hollow words. This government very much wants to politicize the judiciary. I have far too much regard for the quality of the judiciary in this province. We are the envy of the largest part of the world in terms of the quality of our bench here in Ontario. That quality, I believe very strongly, as I believe most Ontarians do, was enhanced by the appointments process as it was revised through the period of 1985 to 1995.

For this member to suggest that a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly -- and we know what that means: a committee that's dominated by the government. That means that for the next year and a half or so it will be this government; after 1998, 1999, it will be by another government. For a majority of those members to review the so-called performance of a judge I believe is absurd and seriously undermines the long tradition of independence of the judiciary, an independence that is crucial, essential if we're going to maintain a justice system that reflects the values of a democratic society and reflects the interest in obtaining justice, as much as justice can be obtained in any given system run by human beings.

I'm concerned that there's a code language here, because it speaks of the "review of performance" of a particular judge. I'm not certain there isn't a desire here to turn judges into mere mechanics in a sausage factory so that they pump out justice, as it would seem, at an increasingly higher rate, to the detriment of the quality of decision-making that's taking place.

We have in place a system which has worked well for the removal of judges who have not met the standards we expect of members of the bench. I'm not going to endorse a concept of performance evaluation overseen by political taskmasters which expresses disdain for the quality of the bench -- a disdain I'm not about to share because I have too much regard for the bench in this province -- and which attempts to politicize by creating political supervision of the performance of judges. That type of interference is repugnant to our long-held judicial traditions and our traditions of meting out criminal justice. It contradicts long-held values which, I tell you once again, are the envy of most, if not all, of the balance of the world.

Notwithstanding our endorsement of the amendments to the Ministry of Correctional Services Act contained in this bill, the presence of the amendment to the Courts of Justice Act and the attack on provincial judges makes it impossible for me to support this bill.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): I too would like to commend my friend the member for Oshawa for his initiative. My time today will be devoted to the issue of judicial accountability, and I'm prepared to admit that there are some aspects of part I of the bill that will require some fine-tuning when referred to committee. But the issue of judicial accountability being reviewed at this point in time is both fitting and appropriate. I believe a number of reasons will be advanced by the departmental people with regard to the first section of this bill, and not to support it. I have but one reason to suggest that the time has arrived for the accountability of the judiciary to be reviewed, and that is that it is a fitting and proper thing at this point in time.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this issue because of the many misconceptions that exist with regard to the nature of work and the hours of work and indeed the working conditions of the judiciary of this province. There are many misconceptions about the quality of service provided by the vast majority of the men and women who labour in those positions.

In 1978, when I was appointed, there were very few rules of procedure which existed with regard to judicial complaints. A person could complain anywhere in the system, and upon that complaint, the Judicial Council would either dismiss the matter summarily or might consider the same and reject the issue or consider certain evidence and then make a decision as to proceed or reject. But it was at that time, then and only then, that the Judicial Council would bother to inform the judge about whom the complaint had been received. It was then and only then that the judge would have an opportunity to defend himself or herself.

There were no rules of natural justice in this system, rules which the judge was obligated to observe and extend in court to any person charged with murder, rape, manslaughter. These were not extended to the members of the judiciary. Those changes which have taken place in the last number of years were brought about by the diligent work of the provincial judges' association, and they now apply to all judicial complaints.

In the very near future, in the next 30 days, a book authored by a local Toronto-based law professor will be launched on the trials and tribulations of the Honourable Leo Landreville. In the 1960s he became the first justice forced to resign from the then Ontario Supreme Court. This book will cause some embarrassment to those who favour decisions being taken behind closed doors. I believe it will cast some serious doubt on the fairness of judicial hearings of that period.

The late Leo Landreville was a native of Ottawa who practised law in northern Ontario, became mayor of his city and was later appointed to the bench. I came to know Leo when he joined the firm with which I was articled. Partners of that firm are both members of the Ontario Court of Justice at this time. They virtually took him in and provided employment after he had depleted his life's savings attempting to clear his good name. I had occasion to hear from the horse's mouth his side of the story and read the Judicial Council's side of the story. I'm not so naïve as to think that I heard it all. You practise matrimonial law long enough, you know there are always at least three sides to the story: his, hers and the truth. But I look forward to that book, though it might be 30 years too late, and I commend it to each and every member of this Legislature.

I suggest to this Legislature that over the past 30 years not very much has changed. We have to ask ourselves, if the accused in the Airbus scandal had not had the resources to mount a defence, and indeed an offence, would that person have cleared his name? Had it been an indigent person on a legal aid certificate, would the results have been the same? Everybody is watching the evidence coming forward in the Morin commission at this time. Are we all completely satisfied with the Somalia inquiry? These were public matters.

I could stand here for a lengthy period of time and defend the work that my former colleagues do on a daily basis. I don't have that time. I wish in another debate I would be afforded that opportunity. I can tell you that the respect and admiration that I hold for my former colleagues is tantamount to the most I could hold for any group of individuals in this province. I think the 98% or 99% of the judges in this province who perform their duties in a professional and responsible manner will have no concerns with regard to judicial accountability or about the lifting of the judicial veil of secrecy.


There are problems, as with any other organization, in that 1% or 2%, but those are not the people who are going to be identified; those are not the people who are going to be reported; those are not the people the Judicial Council is going to deal with.

I would simply say, in the few seconds allotted to me, that what we're doing here with regard to judicial accountability is taking the efforts of a former Attorney General, Mr Scott, who was lauded here earlier, who made it possible, allowed the Chief Justice of the Provincial Court to take this action. No Chief Justice has taken it in that period of time. What this bill is saying is, require it to be mandatory. These are the 1990s. Everyone else, particularly the people in this Legislature, are challenged to be responsible every four or five years. What is so different about people doing the job that the people who labour in the judiciary do?

I concur that there are changes that must be made at the committee level, but I commend my friend from Oshawa for bringing this matter forward. It is altogether timely and appropriate, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak on it.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The bill allows for some interesting problems to be dealt with, and I will be supporting the bill on that basis. But I should point out that if you're going to do these things, you have to actually fund them, and they have to operate. You can't just have the press conference and the noise that goes with it.

In St Catharines, for instance, Bill Taylor, whose daughter had been murdered, contacted my office recently. His wife was at the hairdresser's and someone there told her that Elio Caputo, who was alleged to have murdered their daughter, Cara, was back in St Catharines in the detention centre and was going to be in court soon.

Obviously this constituent was very upset because the family had been told they would be notified if a situation like this arose. The Victims' Bill of Rights is supposed to guarantee they will be notified. Mrs Taylor wanted us to know that there was no cooperation, in her view, from the police and she was unable to speak with a detective she wanted to speak with until the Tuesday after. She contacted Mike Harris's office and was told, "It's not Mr Harris's job."

What I'm pointing out is that when you pass this kind of legislation, you have to ensure that you're going to have the financial resources to back it up and that these matters are going to be dealt with appropriately.

In terms of the review of judges by a legislative committee, I'm wary of politicians second-guessing judges, but I've disagreed with many judges' decisions over the years and I think the Judicial Council should look into that.

In terms of the victims being allowed to have a say in whether someone comes out on parole, I think it is very important that that be the case. I just regret I don't have more time to express it.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): In the four and three quarter minutes that I have to speak to the bill, I would like to make a couple of points. First of all, I compliment my colleague from Durham region, the member for Oshawa, on bringing Bill 130 forward, which addresses a concern which many of us on this side of the House share with respect to the necessity of all persons in authority in the province of Ontario being accountable, including all of us as legislators and members of the judiciary.

There's no question that we on this side of the House are concerned about the importance of fighting crime. Indeed, the member for London South and the member for Scarborough West and I, in our capacities as parliamentary assistants, are addressing some of those issues now and will be making certain recommendations with respect to crime control in the province. So it is a well-directed bill.

There is a system in place in Ontario with respect to complaints concerning judges. That system involves complaining to the Ontario Judicial Council. There is an annual report which the Ontario Judicial Council is obliged to file, which has been filed with this Legislature, in this House, which sets out all the complaints made with respect to judges in the province over the past year and how they were dealt with. I say this with respect to the comment by the member for Ottawa-Rideau concerning judicial secrecy: This is a public report. It is tabled in the Legislature. It is the obligation of the Judicial Council to do so and it is done each year. It is there for everyone and anyone in the province to read and review, particularly with respect to the complaints procedure and the results of particular complaints. So that procedure is there.

There is also an education procedure for judges which is supervised by the Chief Judge. He has an education secretariat -- that is, the Chief Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Division) -- and that is followed, particularly with respect to new judges, and then continuing education for judges as they continue their careers on the bench. So those systems are in place.

Now what happens if there is misconduct by a judge of such a degree that the judge should be removed from office? The Courts of Justice Act provides that the Judicial Council may make a recommendation to the Attorney General for the removal of a judge from the bench. That's the law in Ontario. The Attorney General brings that recommendation here to the Legislature and tables it, and then it is the power of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the address of this assembly, to remove that judge from the bench. So we have a system in the province now for the removal of judges, should it be necessary for a judge to be removed from the bench.

The difficulty with the bill -- and here's the major problem -- is that it interferes with the independence of the judiciary. It's fundamental in Canadian constitutional law, in British tradition, in the Charter of Rights, all three sources, that we as legislators do not interfere with the independence of the judiciary. That is not an abstract legal concept. It's important that our constituents have the right to know, when they go into a courtroom, whether they're in a civil dispute or they're charged with a crime, that the person who is going to acquit them or convict them, or the person who is going to charge the jury in a jury case, is an independent person, that the person is not beholden to the politicians of the day, to us or whomever may have been the government five years ago and appointed that person, or in the future. That is an absolute entitlement that every Canadian, every citizen of Ontario, has; that is, that the person before whom they appear in court is independent and is not reporting to politicians concerning their conduct.

That's the difficulty with the bill. The Attorney General is strongly opposed. As his parliamentary assistant, I am strongly opposed to Bill 130 with respect to the proposed amendments to the Courts of Justice Act.

Mr Bob Wood (London South): I would like to rise very briefly to strongly endorse this bill. Virtually everyone in this province is regularly accountable for their job performance and I think it's a great step forward that this should be applied to the judiciary. It will help the good judges, and the small number who are not good will be able to get help.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oshawa, you have two minutes.

Mr Ouellette: There are a number of points I need to bring forward, but due to the limited time that I have I will just deal with the ones I am able to.

First of all, 95% of all the reviews that come are dismissed at the subcommittee level for the current evaluations that are done. There are a number of jurisdictions, including Germany, France, a large number of states, Manitoba and Nova Scotia which are currently considering this legislation.

This legislation in no way has any jurisdiction over federal judges, nor does it give it the Legislative Assembly, politicians, the ability to overturn any judge's decisions. What is does, as I said before, is allow us to review their ability to make those decisions.

The bill allows for the recognition of problem areas within the judiciary, so if there's a common problem, special training can be brought out. First of all, the Chief Justice of the province of Ontario is the individual who establishes the review program. The Judicial Council approves the program. Why not allow it to go forward if there are problems with it and, at the committee stage, amend anything that needs to be done?

What the third party is asking for is to allow bad judges out there and poor performance to continue in Ontario. The province is the one which currently appoints the judges, the province is the one which makes the laws, yet no one has the ability to question those individuals once they're in that position. What I'm asking for is the support of the Legislature to allow this to go through. If there are difficulties with it, I have no problem at the committee level to account for those difficulties. We can do it.

What some of the members opposite were asking for is the status quo. That's unacceptable.

The Deputy Speaker: The time allotted for the first ballot item has expired.



Mr Sheehan moved second 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): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): As the title implies, this act will define freedoms or rights for workers by enacting what are known in other jurisdictions as right-to-work provisions: the freedom for the worker to decide if they want to join or remain a member of a union or employees association; the right to work without the condition of being compelled to become a member of a union or an employees association; the prohibition of unions or employees associations from collecting dues either directly or indirectly from non-members; and finally the protection from coercion by the employer or the union to join or not join a union or employees association.

Succinctly, Bill 131 would entrench in law the fundamental right of workers to decide whether or not they want to be represented in the workplace without coercion from either the employer or the union. The bill would apply to new and renegotiated collective agreements.

The realities of the changing economy in the modern workplace demand we re-examine how Ontario's labour relations are structured. More and more, we see that individuals and not the state are taking ownership of their rights and their future. Currently, in a union shop, employment is contingent upon union membership. Because of the Rand formula, Canadian workers are privately taxed by trade unions to the tune of $1.1 billion per year.

The closed shop forces workers to belong to a union. It started in Britain in 1906 with the Trade Union Act, where it was implemented in exchange for the surrender of the right to strike. The concept was duplicated in the United States under the Wagner Act in 1935 and in Canada in 1948 in the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act. Since then, all have enacted laws protecting the employee's right to work.

Bill 131 is an attempt to bring Ontario's labour relations into the modern world, to put Ontario on a par with some of the more successful jurisdictions. Canada and Australia are the only two major economies that no longer protect the citizen's right to work. Bill 131 recognizes the right of the individual workers to decide what is best for them and their families.

Section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows for freedom of association. It implies and includes freedom from coercion to join an association the citizen does not want to join, nor the obligation to pay dues the citizen does not want to pay.

It is a fundamental concept that an individual has the right to negotiate for his services and has the right to be employed by anyone who offers him employment. Opponents of right-to-work laws often cite the Merv Levigne Supreme Court decision which compared the compulsion in the closed-shop arrangement to the compulsion to pay taxes set by a democratically elected government.

I point out that the decision was predicated on an assumption that workers are better off because of the compulsion to join or pay union dues. Current evidence from New Zealand refutes that assumption. The process began initially with the Labour government's decision in 1986 to re-regulate labour, which predictably squeezed profits and increased unemployment.

The National Party campaigned on and implemented the Employment Contracts Act in 1991. This allowed contracting parties to choose the type of employment contract. Membership in unions was made voluntary, closed shops prohibited. Workers are free to contract their labour subject to a few limiting constraints such as minimum wage. Only after the end of the contract period are strikes and lockouts permitted.

Leading figures, business and labour, predicted the following: falling wages; new low-quality jobs, mostly part-time to suit employers; anarchy; strikes and confrontation; gangster unionism would spread; rising unemployment among women and young people; suppression of workplace democracy; and, widespread abuse by employers. The Council of Trade Unions up a "sweatline" for aggrieved workers.

What happened? The "sweatline" soon lapsed for lack of interest. Average real wages have risen, wage structures now reflect reward for increased skill acquisition. Strikes have dropped to near zero and new contracts are settled with little fuss.

Employment is up 20%, or 250,000 jobs, or 4.5% per year, and forecasts indicate this will continue. Unemployment fell from 11% in 1991 to under 6% in 1996, compared to Australia, where that is not the case. Seventy-five per cent of new jobs are full-time.

The greatest benefactors of change were the socially disadvantaged: the indigenous population like the Maoris, women and youth.

Climate in most workplaces improved. People felt a sense of empowerment.

Initial opinion surveys indicated a 2-to-1 opposition to the ECA. Now, 41% of every 1,000 New Zealanders surveyed approve or strongly approve of the right to work. Eighty-five per cent now feel high or very high job satisfaction. Seventy-five per cent of those surveyed want direct employment and wage negotiations with their employer. Workers now determine negotiation strategies, not union heads.

In the 1996 general election the opposition party campaigned to repeal the ECA. They lost the election; 60% of the electorate voted for parties that promised to retain the current system.

Who are the losers? Union membership is down 30%, union officials have lost some jobs and some unions have evolved into service organizations helping to sell services and improve members' competitiveness. Industrial relations departments at universities have disappeared. Funnily, union political contributions seemed to have declined.

A 1996 global competitive report rates New Zealand as the third most competitive economy out of the 44 countries surveyed; Canada ranked eighth. New Zealand also is ranked second on "willingness to accept change" criteria, such as labour force restructuring and ability to avoid social costs of employment.

Overall, labour productivity has risen 2% per annum from 1991 to 1996. Combined output of capital and labour rose by 2.3% versus 1.3% in previous upswings. New Zealanders have translated economic upswings in demand into more employment and modest wage increases.

Right-to-work laws have produced a palpable improvement in workers' satisfaction. New commitment to quality and productivity has replaced the notorious attitudes towards performance that were the result of distant and remote authorities' wage-fixing. Workers are now rewarded for effort, skill and attention to quality.

What's happening in Canada? The Canadian public agrees that compulsion to join a union is unacceptable. A recent national survey of 1,504 Canadians by the Angus Reid survey group found that 90% of respondents believe a worker shouldn't have to be a member of a union in order to be hired; 61% of respondents believe that both union membership and the payment of union dues should be voluntary; 80% of respondents who are currently union members believe that workers should not have to be union members to get a job.


In summary, Bill 131 is about restoring the fundamental right of Ontario workers to exercise the Charter of Rights to freely associate, or disassociate, as the case may be. Times have changed since 1948. We have a better-educated and a more independent workforce. We have employment standards and labour relations legislation that now provide workers with protection from abuse that occurred in the past.

The New Zealand experience effectively refutes the court's presumption in the Lavigne decision: that the worker is better off as a member of a union. Obviously, the people of New Zealand are enjoying prosperity and benefits, especially those people critics claim should have been most severely affected because of social disadvantage. It's time for right-to-work legislation in Ontario. I urge you to support this bill.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This is as dangerous and evil and mean-spirited and vicious an attack on working people, on their families, on their parents, who as seniors expect some decency in their retirement, as has ever been presented.

The people in Welland-Thorold, across Niagara and across this province don't need lessons in workers' rights from the likes of the sponsor of this bill. Too many people in my own community of Welland-Thorold, across the region and across this province worked too hard, struggled too long and paid too high a price to build some modest rights for workers in this province to have them attacked and abolished in a single stroke, in one bill, by a government that's only going to serve one term.

If you want to take a look at some of the history, read Reverend Fern Sayles's book, Welland Workers Make History, and learn about the struggle of working people, new Canadians, immigrants on those picket lines. Learn about the time they spent in jail or the times they were bloodied up by company goons as they struggled for the right to build trade unions, as they struggled for some decent wages and some decent pensions, as they struggled, with great sacrifice, their spouses and kids on those picket lines with them, to build a better Ontario -- and by God, they did.

Let the sponsor of this bill take this message to the workers at Gallaher Thorold Paper Co, who have won their jobs back because it was the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union that was singularly responsible for negotiating with the purchaser of a company that Noranda had every intention of shutting down, and to hell with the workers whose livelihoods depended on that place.

Let the sponsor of this bill go to the workers at Stelpipe Page-Hersey, the Canadian Auto Workers members who have been on their line for seven months struggling for some equity, some parity in wages with other Stelco operations and some modest improvements to pension plans.

The trade union movement is the single most important institution in our country in terms of the development of workers' rights, protection for workers in the workplace; protecting workers against the savagery of unsafe workplaces and the injuries and deaths that flow from that; protecting workers against the mean-spiritedness and the greed of, as we increasingly witness, multinational corporations that want to pick workers' pockets to enhance profits at any cost and with no regard for the welfare of workers and their families and their communities.

Let the sponsor of this bill talk about right-to-work jurisdictions. We know what they are. We witnessed them in the southern United States, we witnessed them throughout Third World countries, where the wealthy become that much wealthier but where working people and working standards drop lower and lower.

"Right to work" means the right to work for youngsters so we can restore child labour; it means the right to work for lower and lower wages, so we have a low-wage economy.

Let the sponsor of this bill talk to small businesses about what it means when you gut workers' wages so workers don't have the resources, the income to spend and invest in local businesses.

I couldn't be more opposed to any piece of legislation than I am to this, and I'm confident that I speak for the vast majority of people, not just across Niagara but across this province. As for me, I tell you, I'm sticking with the union. All of us owe too much to the struggle and the efforts of the trade union movement in this country. All of us owe far too much to abandon the trade union movement now.

As a New Democrat, I'm committed, as are other New Democrats, to building trade unionism so that more and more workers who now don't have the protection that a trade union provides in their workplace will acquire that protection; so that women workers perpetually exploited, all the more so under this government's regime, will obtain some modest protection; so that workers in unsafe workplaces will obtain some modest protection; so that seniors who expect to retire with dignity and decency can do so.

We'll be voting against this bill and arguing against it across this province. This is a government that betrays the legacy of Bill Davis and former Conservative governments. This is a Reform policy, and I say now to working people out there who may have felt somewhat attracted to some of the hot-button issues that Preston Manning has been raising across the province and the country, you're looking at the real agenda of Reform, and that's to gut workers' rights and to place workers at the bottom of the pile so they can be exploited unmercifully and so they can be used to make bigger and bigger profits to satisfy more and more greed from the corporate and banking world. We're going to be voting against this bill.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Just a few words about this bill. We were elected on a clear mandate to repeal Bill 40 and to restore balance and stability in labour relations, and Bill 7 fulfilled this. We were elected on the clear mandate to democratize the workplace by introducing secret ballot votes, and Bill 7 fulfilled this commitment. The results of decertification votes now more accurately reflect the individual wishes of employees.

Speaking of stability, over the last year and a half since the passage of Bill 7, investors and employers have consistently expressed a desire for stability in Ontario's workplaces. In 1996, under our labour legislation, Ontario saw one of the lowest total number of strikes in the last 10 years: 134. The year before that under this government there were 136. So that points to stability. Also, we're in a period of much shorter strikes. In the early 1990s strikes were of an average duration of 40, 43 and 42 days, and now after Bill 7 we're down to a shorter duration of 33 days. Even that is higher almost exclusively as a result of the OPSEU dispute.

Directly to the bill, I think the fundamental question is one of a union shop requiring that a member must become a member of the union if he's an employee at a unionized workplace. To me the underlying philosophy is based on the wishes of the majority. If the majority of the employees in the bargaining unit want to be represented by a trade union, then the bargaining rights apply to all employees in the union. If 55% or more of the people vote for a union, then the rest of that workplace -- the majority rules -- should be represented by that union. If the majority of people in that workplace don't want to be represented by the union, then we have decertification as a possibility for those people to pursue.

With regard to dues checkoff, the argument that employees do not vote for the union should nevertheless pay for representation by the exclusive bargaining agent, I'd agree with the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that "There is not distinction in principle between our overall system of government and the role of taxation within it in the mini-democracy of the workplace."

If 50% of the people vote for a governing party in Ontario, then they have the right to tax and spend tax money and pass laws, and the rest of the population, even those who didn't vote in favour of that government, still abides by those laws. I think it's a similar principle, in this case for both dues checkoff and union shop, that if the majority votes to be members of that union, the other 45% shouldn't say, "We're not going to abide by the rule of majority."

I won't be supporting this bill. Those are my thoughts on it.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I'm pleased to hear the comments of the previous speaker across the floor. I do not support this bill in any way, shape or form. Its intent is clear. What you see with this proposed bill in front of us is simply a blatant attack on unions and trade movements across this province. It's an attack that started on June 8, 1995, and it's occurring every single day.

If one follows theoretically what this bill says, if you apply the same argument, then the people in this province who did not vote for the Progressive Conservative government, which is about 55% of the people of Ontario, should feel they're not bound by the laws, by the tax policies, by the policies of this government, because they were not part of that; they didn't support that. That is not how our system works.

I have never belonged to a union. In the situations where I've worked, it was not there. But there have been situations where family and friends of mine I know very well have been protected by unions, have gained tremendous rights by unions, and I have family and friends who have paid a dear price for working in places that were not protected by unions.

My father was injured in an industrial accident. He remained in a wheelchair for 23 years, until he died. The reason that occurred was because the owner of the place where he was working, a small, non-unionized company, did not spend $2 to put a wooden barrier around an elevator shaft. He fell 40 feet down that elevator shaft.

That blatant health and safety violation could have been avoided, but you know what? The owner wasn't accountable to anybody. There was nobody putting the pressure on; there was nobody putting the heat on. There was nobody to make sure he followed the laws of the province. I venture to say that if my father had worked in a company that had a union and he had been protected by the rights and support of that union, that accident would not have occurred. There are many other cases.

Health and safety standards across this province have improved tremendously because of unions, wages for workers have become more fair because of unions, but you'd like to bring it back to the good old days, as you see it, of Reform mentality, where people who owned the companies ran the show, where there was no balance, where health and safety was only an aside to doing business.

Your Bill 7 has done that to a great degree. You took labour legislation that had been put in place by previous NDP, Liberal, even Tory governments and you've gutted it. You've made it open season on union workers across this province. You've allowed scab labour in every part of our society. You have taken away the basic protection that working men and women had across this province, and this bill only does that further.

I don't understand why this government is so obsessed about taking rights away from working men and women across Ontario, people who simply want to go to work in the morning, earn a decent living and go home, back to their families, in one piece at the end of the day. Any of us would wish that. I don't think that's evil, I don't think that's wrong, I don't think that's bad, but you obviously seem to think so.

This legislation is another attack on those people across this province who work in conditions that are often difficult, who work often under some very dangerous situations and who have health and safety protection in place as a result of gains that have been made over the years. You want to take all that way.

By doing this, you are simply weakening the role of unions, and it's nothing else. Don't hide behind it. Come out and say that's your case. Don't play games with this. Don't word it as something balanced and fair, with privileges and freedoms and rights and all that, because you love that. That's the typical crap we hear all the time. Come out and say what it is. Call it what it is: union busting. You don't like unions. You want to get rid of unions. You do not feel unions serve a purpose. Come out and say that is your intent here. Don't skate around it with some cutesy wording.

Most people in Ontario believe there's a role for unions to play, that unions provide leadership in the workplace and protection for workers. And yes, you know what? They may be inconvenient sometimes to the corporate ownership of a company, because they may force them to do things that are in the best interests of the worker. That's tough, but there has to be a balance and there's got to be protection.

Your government has not offered that and Bill 7 has not offered that. This bill only goes one more step in bashing and destroying unions in this province, and I'm sure not going to be part of it. I believe most Ontarians disagree with you and most Ontarians can see right through your anti-working agenda that you've put forward today again.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): The Tory-Reform Party of Ontario is again today showing its true colours. They are anti-worker, they are anti-union; they are pro-management, they are pro-employer. Let us make no bones about it and let us not kid each other. Those people out there who are looking at the Reform Party as a possible way to vote in this federal election, let this be a lesson to you. What you get is a party that, yes, pushes some hot-button issues, that says, "We're tough on crime," and "We're tough on welfare bums," and a whole bunch of other stuff, to use their language, but what the real hidden agenda is all about is tipping the scales of balance to where those with money and those with power have it all and the rest of us be damned.

The member, Mr Sheehan, comes before us today with this particular bill and proposes that we undo what has been built in this province over a period of time, not by NDP governments, not by Liberal governments, but legislation that was first pushed by workers in this province through their blood, sweat, toil and tears. They had to be able to get the government of the day, a Conservative government, to recognize that unions and workers have a right to coexist, and if you don't have unions and you don't have the ability for workers to form unions, in the end it will not be a good thing for workers and it will not be a good thing for the economy.

The member proposes to do what? To do away with the Rand formula. The Rand formula is what allows unions to exist to a great degree in this province and across North America. The member comes before us and says, "Let's get rid of the Rand formula; let's do what they do in the United States, in places like Mississippi and Atlanta," where they have right-to-work states, where basically workers don't have the ability to form unions in the way that we do up in this part.

What really is happening here is that the government is trying to make a change to our economy in doing so. They want to move from what we have today in Ontario and Canada, what is determined and called a high-wage economy, where unions and workers get together and negotiate with their employers. They get a fair return in wages for work done for the employer, the employer still makes a dollar, and because we have a lot of consumers in our economy who have a good salary, we have what's called a high-wage economy.

They want to turn that high-wage economy into what you have in the United States, in the southern states especially, which is a low-wage economy, where workers are lucky if they're able to get a job for minimum wage; where workers don't have rights within the workplace when it comes to health and safety issues or whatever it might be; and where the way you attract capital into your community is to say, "Come to our community and we'll allow you to exploit the workers of our community so that you may profit." That's what this government is all about.

I say to those people who are watching, I say to those who are paying attention to this debate, beware of what this Tory-Reform government is doing. There is a hidden agenda here. Yes, the Mike Harris government, like the Reform Party, got elected by pushing some hot-button issues, but there is a hidden agenda and that agenda is, "We will transfer over the power to individual employers and individuals with money and we will take that power away from workers," and people like you and I. You have to have in every economy a balance. What we have in our Ontario economy is a balance, and the government is trying to get rid of that.

I also want to say to the government, and I want to say it directly: Don't think for one second that the people of Ontario are not paying attention to what you are doing and don't think for one second that the unions and the labour movement are not paying attention to what you're doing, because they are.

We have with us today in our gallery James Moffatt from the Ontario Sheet Metal Workers' union. He is but one representative of the labour movement.

I tell you, you pass this legislation today and it won't be just James Moffatt who will be here; you will have thousands of workers protesting in front of Queen's Park, going before your constituency offices and saying: "Stop these tactics. Stop these attacks on workers. You were elected the government on behalf of the people of Ontario, not against them," and that's exactly where you're going with this piece of legislation.


I say to the government, think well before you vote on this piece of legislation. Yes, you were elected to govern, but you have to stop this attack on workers. If you pass this legislation, what it basically means is in a short period of time the labour movement, as we know it today, will cease to exist, and that's exactly what you guys are trying to do. If you vote for that today, if this bill passes today at second reading at private members' hour, it sends a very direct message out to the people of this province.

I want to thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity to speak. I know that the member for Nickel Belt wants to have a few words on this bill. Again, I urge all members of this assembly to vote against this legislation because it is purely and simply an attack on workers and workers' rights, trying to move our economy to that of a low-wage economy such as what's found in the United States, where they have the right to work such as the member Frank Sheehan is trying to get people in this Legislature to accept. That I will not do.

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

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'm pleased to speak in support of the private member's bill by the member for Lincoln, who, as you know, has been responsible on behalf of our government as chair of the Red Tape Review Commission for numerous pieces of legislation, helping to simplify the process for businesses and job creation in Ontario, to get rid of red tape and to make it easier for business to invest and do business in the province, thereby creating jobs for all of us.

There are other initiatives also. There's a new front-counter operation at the registry office in Whitby now in my riding of Durham Centre which provides services, not only the registry service, the traditional ones, but also gives the ability for people to apply for passports and for birth, marriage and death certificates. All of these are initiatives that our government has taken in order to make Ontario a better place to do business, a more convenient place to do business, less paperwork, less red tape. Certainly the member for Lincoln has played a prominent role in all of that.

In this bill the object is not, as the member for Cochrane South describes, something about affecting the right to unionize. It's not that at all. It is about taking away any compulsion or any coercion or forcing of a person to belong to a particular association in order to work in Ontario. That's a very important individual right, I'd suggest, that people in the province ought to enjoy, and that is the thrust of this legislation, this proposed act brought forward by the member for Lincoln.

Competition is important. In my riding of Durham Centre we have large international businesses, we have small businesses. Even the small businesses have world mandates. I visited one of them recently and their major competitor in the world isn't in the United States and it isn't in Australia. Their major competitor is in northern Italy. They compete all across western Europe and all across the United States, not against a low-wage jurisdiction in the southern United States, as the member for Cochrane South alleges, but rather against a firm in northern Italy. Similarly, we have businesses in my riding of Durham Centre that compete internationally, that have world mandates from their large international businesses to compete from Canada, from Whitby, across the United States, across western Europe, across Asia, indeed across the world.

When we look at that context and we look at the competition for investment, investment means jobs across the world. I think we have to be cautious about taking away individual rights, coercing persons to belong to associations in order to work and earn a living for themselves and their families in the province of Ontario. Governments don't create jobs of course, but governments can get in the way. By red tape and by laws, governments can inhibit the creation of jobs and get in the way of those who would create jobs in this jurisdiction and in other jurisdictions.

My colleague from Lincoln has pointed out that the public expectations in Ontario are that people, by a large margin, take the view that everyone in the province should have the right to work, to earn a living, to support their family, without being compelled, without being forced to belong to an association in order to have that workplace available to them.

When we look across the world -- and I do mean across the world, not just the United States, as the member for Cochrane South refers to -- the European court in Strasbourg was involved. In Great Britain, they passed a law back in 1990, some seven years ago now, making it unlawful to refuse a person employment because they would not join a particular association. In Switzerland such a compulsion is null and void. In Belgium such a compulsion of an individual is null and void. The same in France. Since 1956, if we go back that far, my goodness -- closed-shop provisions to coerce an employer to hire or maintain employment of only union members have been null and void for many years now, 40 years, in France.

In Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, South America -- the American Convention on Human Rights provides in section 8(3): "No one may be compelled to belong to a trade union." The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, affecting 49 African countries, similarly provides: "No one may be compelled to join an association." So we see the pattern across the world.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): This is about the Third World, isn't it? Down to the Third World. Here we come.

Mr Flaherty: This is the world that we compete with. My friend from Nickel Belt says, "The Third World." Switzerland is not the Third World, the last time I heard. Belgium is not the Third World. France isn't the Third World. Western Europe isn't the Third World. The United States isn't the Third World. We have to compete for jobs and the people in my riding want jobs. They want work. They want an opportunity to work in the province of Ontario so they can raise their families and have a decent life and a decent living here and educate their children.

In summary then, I'd like to compliment the member for Lincoln for bringing forward this bill, which will create a better climate for investment in Ontario, which will create jobs for the people of Ontario, which will put us on an even keel with most of the other jurisdictions with whom business and industry in the province are obliged to compete.

I support the bill and I congratulate the member for Lincoln for conceiving, developing and bringing this bill forward in this House for debate.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): May I say at the outset that I will not be supporting this private member's bill this morning and I encourage all members of the House to seriously consider that they too should not support the bill.

I would especially encourage members, like the member who brings this private member's bill forward, to go out into the world and gain some experience on both sides of this issue. If I speak from some of my experience as a member of a union for about eight years, and many of the members of my family as well, people in my family who are part of the business community, you look at the relevance of unions and there is no question that this bill strikes at the very heart of what matters most to unions, and that is the development of the Rand formula.

Coming from Windsor, we probably have a little more history with the Rand formula. It was developed by a judge in 1946 and it was developed specifically to follow one of the most worldwide-renowned strikes in the history of the world. That was the strike at General Motors, which lasted for a very long period of time, involved a huge number of people, hundreds of them, members of the labour force at General Motors. It was a strike that had tremendous ramifications in the community of Windsor, the result of which was a judge making a decision that when the union negotiates a package for its employees, if all of the members benefit from that package, all of them would then pay union dues. In my view, there is a sense of fairness.

Now, the private member brings forward a bill today in the name of fairness, allowing fairness for all members of the community. I would ask the member to tell me what is not fair about every member of a workplace also benefiting from all of the good that the union and employer negotiation results in. That in fact is a sense of fairness.

The greater concern I have is that here is another example of the Progressive Conservative-Reform government of Ontario, another attack on unions, which this becomes, and yet so many of them, in the last election, actually voted for this Reform government. My concern is that you keep putting one over on workers in Ontario as if you're doing them a favour. In the case of the election, it was this tax cut that they all bought into. Frankly, if you listened to the news this morning, the increase in coffee prices alone has eaten up my tax cut; I don't know about the rest of you. It was so minimal, and yet the effect of the $5 billion that you borrowed at a time when we could hardly afford to borrow more billions of dollars -- you offered the cut.


Yesterday we heard that Standard and Poor's released its rating again for Ontario. This Conservative government, viewed by the members themselves only as being so pro-business, now has the same rating of AA- as the Bob Rae government had for the last two years of its term, so your economic policies don't work. You are not here to help the workers in Ontario.

Another example: One of the members from Durham speaks about wanting to help workers find jobs. We have a larger number of health care workers without jobs today than ever, and we're going to have more as this trend continues. The more you close hospitals, the more you download and dump, the more we lose workers. You say you want to put these people to work, and you cancel the HSTAP program for training, the very thing that workers will need to change and become part of this new world of work. You've cancelled the very programs that offer the training for them to do so. You can't here in private members' hour talk about fairness for workers and say that you want to do this because you want workers to have every opportunity for work, and in the afternoon session introduce legislation that has your health minister eliminate some of the most basic training needs for workers that you, by your own government policy, are displacing. You just can't have it both ways.

This government clearly is not on side with the majority of people who are working in Ontario. This private member's bill is a clear indication of that. The people in Windsor and Essex county have grown up with unions, where the Rand formula began in 1946. Judge Rand made an historic decision when he came down with the ruling and the creation of the Rand formula, which then went across North America, and the result was the development of very good negotiations between employers and unions across North America. All I can tell you is that I personally don't support the bill. I encourage all members of the House also to look at the wider scope of what this government is doing, which is very much against workers.

Mr Laughren: I should make note first of the fact that our labour critic from Hamilton, Dave Christopherson, is not able to be here. He's out of the country. He would dearly love to have been involved in this debate, I can assure you, and we know what position he would have taken.

I have mixed feelings about the introduction of this bill because part of me sees it as simply another manifestation of the ugly, disgusting face of Reform that surfaces within the Tory caucus every now and again. But the other part of me wants to say to the member for Lincoln, "I'm glad you brought this forward." You know what? It would be fascinating, and I would challenge the members of the government to vote for this bill. I dare you to vote for this bill and make it the law of the province, because you know what? You haven't got the guts to do it. You know and I know that if you ever made this bill the law of this province, there would be utter chaos across the land. You think that encouraging scabs through your replacement worker legislation made the labour movement angry. If you did this, you would be the laughingstock. This bill itself, even without that happening, will be in every union hall in Ontario; you can be absolutely sure of that. It will be raised at every all-candidates meeting in the next election. You just watch.

I want to see, when it comes to five to 12, how many cabinet ministers are in here supporting the member for Lincoln on this bill. Any takers? How many cabinet ministers do you think will be supporting this bill? Any at all? I think not, because all you're doing is pushing a hot button for some of your friends. You don't have the courage or the conviction to proceed with this bill because you know, and I know, that you would be in deep, deep doodoo if you ever did. You couldn't sustain yourselves in your government if you enacted the legislation that's reflected in this bill. You would not be able to do it. All you're doing is setting up poor little Mr Sheehan from Lincoln, sitting in the back benches, to bring forward something that will make the Reform people happy. He's a stooge for you. That's what he is. I hope you understand that, Mr Sheehan. How does it feel to be used like a stooge on the part of the Reform Party of this country? That's all you are. We'll see.


Mr Laughren: I could be totally wrong. Just get down off your hind legs for a minute. I'm almost finished. I just want to say to you that we'll see. I could be wrong. Maybe the cabinet will come in and support Mr Sheehan's bill. I would venture a guess that they no more have the courage to do it than they have to bring in the bill and make it the law of the province of Ontario.

I want to tell you, this is a disgusting anti-worker piece of legislation, absolutely disgusting. I never thought I'd see a Tory party bring it into the House, even in the form of a private member's bill. I would simply say to you, I'll bet you whatever you want to bet that you won't get support for this.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I'm not quite sure which way the member for Nickel Belt is planning on voting on this after that, but I would say that if cabinet ministers don't vote for this, it will be because they have a very important cabinet meeting this morning that they may be at.

I'm privileged to speak to this and I will be speaking in support of my colleague for Lincoln, who I believe recognizes the importance of bringing this matter forward for debate, because it is not as the member for Nickel Belt has said, nor the member for Windsor-Sandwich, nor any of the other speakers who have spoken against this bill. This is not about an anti-union positioning of this government. This is very much a pro-worker bill that is simply saying to the people of this province that it's high time that the focus be placed on the workers and that workers are given an opportunity to express their free will as to what they want to have happen in the workplace.

I think it's important that we put into context what the situation is in this province now. Employees and unions are free to enter into agreements in this province today whereby all employees are required to be union members. What we're saying here with this legislation, what my colleague intends, is that when such a discussion takes place, there should be the opportunity for individual employees to say, "No, I choose not to be a member of this union."

Mrs Pupatello: You didn't think that when you were running in Essex county. You didn't think that in Leamington, when you were down in the Windsor area. That is not what you believed when you ran three times.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, order.

Mr Klees: I can tell you just from personal experience that I've had many people in my constituency office who have come to me and said, "I do not appreciate the fact that in a democratic society I lose my democratic right the minute I become a member of a particular workforce in a particular company." What is it? Why are we so fearful in giving the right to individual workers to take a position that may well be contrary to a union position? This is simply what the member is trying to achieve here.

As I said before, this is really about what is in the best interests of workers. Let's take a look at some of the facts in other jurisdictions where we have right-to-work legislation.

Mrs Pupatello: But you ran in the Windsor area. That's not what you said.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order.

Mr Klees: Let me just share with you some of the facts. The truth of the matter is that in the United States, it is interesting that of the top 20 job-creating states, 19 of them have right-to-work legislation. If we're interested in workers, if we care about workers, should we not be interested in ensuring that we create an environment in which jobs can be created?

There is extensive evidence that the average after-tax annual income in right-to-work states is $3,000 higher than in non-right-to-work states. Why is that? If we're concerned about individual workers, the quality of life, job creation for men, women and young people who are coming into our workforce, is it not incumbent upon this government and members of the opposition to do what is right for workers in this province?


Mrs Pupatello: You have never seen a correct analysis of those numbers. In the end, Ontario workers cost less in those studies.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Windsor-Sandwich, come to order, please.

Mr Klees: The other fact is that the gap in right-to-work legislation states is considerably less between the rich and the poor than it is in non-right-to-work states.

What we have to do is come to the focus of what this is all about. What this legislation is about is putting the focus on people and away from organizations. I find it interesting that at a time when the opposition waxes eloquent in their defence of the unemployed, of the vulnerable in our society, on this particular issue you come out in favour of the large, monopoly union organizations rather than advocating on behalf of the men, women and young people who need jobs, who deserve jobs and who, many times, are prevented from having their say in the workplace simply because they're a member of a union.

We believe that unions are important. We also believe that the rights of individuals are important.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): What is most interesting about this bill is that the extreme right-wing members of the government caucus are the ones who are most enthusiastic about it. That sends a little bit of a message out there.

I see certain political parties right now that are appealing to blue-collar workers across the province and, with some hot-button issues, have had an opportunity to resonate well on some of these issues. But many of the people who are industrial workers and those in other workplaces must recognize that the real agenda of the right-wing conservative -- I'm speaking of a small-c conservative this time -- begins to appear when you see legislation of this kind: anti-labour legislation. Let all of those who are working in industrial plants, let all of those who are working in workplaces where the union has won for the employees some substantial benefits and decent wages and working conditions, let all of those workers know what these right-wing parties are really about.

Yes, they may sound good on certain issues, they may resonate well on certain simplistic issues, but when it comes down to protecting pensions, when it comes down to protecting social programs, when it comes down to protecting health care, when it comes down to protecting the rights of workers, these parties are prepared to begin an assault on the rights of those workers.

It's very instructive to see that you're not seeing the moderate members of the Conservative caucus up speaking in favour of this bill; you are seeing people who have extreme right-wing views. As I say, for some I understand it; for some people out there who have these views because it would be beneficial to them, I can understand it. But let workers out there know, workers who might be tempted to vote for right-wing parties because one of these right-wing parties might be bashing somebody somewhere or bashing a group in the country, that the real agenda of those parties is to look after the wealthiest and the most influential people in our society and not so-called ordinary Canadians.

You can dress up the leaders of those parties in certain uniforms, the denim and the open collars and so on, but when it comes down to it, they really represent the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful people in our society. Any moderate member of the Conservative caucus who would vote for this legislation should be ashamed of herself or himself. Bill Davis, when he was in power, brought forward legislation that he believed to be balanced. He had some arguments with members of the trade union movement and some of those members had some arguments with the Premier, but what you found was that at least they could engage in a meaningful dialogue with that Conservative government -- Premier Davis and Premier Robarts; I can look back to at least those two premiers -- so we saw this legislation come forward.

What the member for Lincoln is in fact attacking is previous Conservative legislation. What he really wants is for people to be able to get all the advantages of a collective agreement without having to pay the union dues. The people have an opportunity to vote for certification or not vote for certification of a union. If they don't want one, they can participate in that process.

But this represents an attack on something on which I thought there was a consensus among moderate people of goodwill right across this province, and now we see extreme right-wing legislation being proposed that must really make some of the members of the Conservative caucus very uncomfortable, having been part of a government where that government tried, didn't always succeed, but tried to provide a sense of consensus and balance in labour legislation.

I will certainly be voting opposed to this. I will be voting against this bill, as I'm sure many of the moderate members of the government will be voting against this legislation, which is anti-worker, which is anti-employer, which is not about providing rights except to those who wish to exploit people within the workplace. I think it would be extremely dangerous and send out a bad signal for this government to approve of this kind of legislation. I hope some of the government members will vote against it.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Sheehan, you have two minutes to respond.

Mr Sheehan: It's always interesting to hear the opposition talk. Always in the theoretical, never do they advance any solid facts to support their position. This is not anti-labour. This is not anti-workers' rights. It's about protecting their rights. It's about advancing their cause. It's about advancing the standards and advancing the cause of the consumer.

Nobody's going to dispute the contribution the labour unions made. I suggest to you it was made in a different time and a different place prior to what we are now confronted with in world-class competition. We suggest that they no longer require hothouse protection and right-to-work legislation. I suggest that the labour union movement would be well served if they started to figure out how they can help their workers advance into the 21st century and accept reality where they find it.

This legislation is not about protecting General Motors or TRW. The big unions and the big corporations are equally balanced and they deserve each other, all right? But it is about protecting the small businessman who is not up to the large well-financed attacks of the union on their rights to exist and continue. We are not about beating up on the working man. We are for the working man. We are talking about advancing his freedom and his right and the necessity that he become responsible for his activities.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will deal first with ballot item number 79, standing in the name of Mr Ouellette. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will you please rise.

Mr Ouellette has moved second reading of Bill 130. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. Carried. The bill shall be referred to committee of the whole.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I would ask that it be referred to the justice committee.

The Acting Speaker: Is that agreed? Is there a majority in favour? All those in favour, please rise and remain standing. A majority in favour. The bill will be referred to the justice committee.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will deal next with ballot item number 80. Mr Sheehan has moved second reading of Bill 131. If there are any members opposed to this bill being voted on, will you please rise.

All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

The division bells rang from 1201 to 1206.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please. To the member for Nickel Belt, I can't take a point of order in the middle of a vote.

All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Galt, Doug

Sheehan, Frank

Beaubien, Marcel

Hudak, Tim

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Stewart, R. Gary

Flaherty, Jim

Leadston, Gary L.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Fox, Gary

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Wood, Bob

The Acting Speaker: All those opposed, please stand and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Hastings, John

Maves, Bart

Arnott, Ted

Kormos, Peter

McLeod, Lyn

Bisson, Gilles

Kwinter, Monte

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Boushy, Dave

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Pupatello, Sandra

Bradley, James J.

Lankin, Frances

Ruprecht, Tony

Brown, Michael A.

Laughren, Floyd

Sergio, Mario

Crozier, Bruce

Marchese, Rosario


The Acting Speaker: The ayes are 15; the nays are 20. I declare the motion lost.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I know it's a bit unusual but I wonder if we could have unanimous consent to extend the length for voting for another five minutes to allow some cabinet ministers to get in here to support Mr Sheehan's bill.

The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? No. I hear a no.

All matters relating to private members' public business have now been completed. I do now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1208 to 1331.



Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I want again to express my strong concerns about Bill 104, the bigger school boards bill. It was and is my contention that the people in northern Ontario will not be represented adequately on these mega-boards encompassing in many cases tens of thousands of square kilometres.

For example, English-language public school board number 2 will have, according to the education commission, but eight trustees. This means that the 15,000 people living hundreds of kilometres northwest of Sault Ste Marie in communities like White River, Wawa, Dubreuilville and Chapleau will not have any representation on the school board. How can that possibly be?

Further, Hornepayne, which requested an isolate school board designation or, failing that, to be included with district school board number 1, has been included with district school board number 2 and will be totally without any board representation.

The bigger school boards act is the problem, and the implementation of this act is becoming a nightmare. At a minimum, the minister must give the communities minimal representation, because this school board is an area of 70,000 square kilometres. Minister, use some common sense: Expand the representation.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This June, Woodgreen Community Centre in my riding of Riverdale celebrates 60 years of service to east Toronto neighbourhoods.

As many of you will be aware, Woodgreen is a fixture of east Toronto life. Woodgreen Community Centre, whose motto is "A partner in community building," is a neighbourhood-based, multicultural, non-profit organization providing a range of services to our communities. These include but are not limited to children's services such as day camp and child care; community support services and programs for new Canadians, seniors and persons with disabilities; various counselling programs, home support, employment and training services; and non-profit housing. They also offer legal services and programs for persons who are socially isolated or have a history of mental illnesses.

Woodgreen has a long history of service to east Toronto. Founded in 1936 by Rev Ray McCleary, it was run out of his house until a centre was built in 1947. Since then, it has continued to add and expand its programming to meet the ever-changing needs of east Toronto communities.

I'm proud of Woodgreen's record of service and commitment to a healthy, safe and inclusive community. Again I ask members to join me in thanking the staff, board and volunteers, past and present, for 60 years of service and to wish them all the best for the challenges that lie ahead as they continue to contribute to the health of our city. Thank you, Woodgreen.


Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): I'm delighted to remind the House that next month marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Bruce Trail.

As a resident of Milton for most of my life, I have a long-standing appreciation for the natural wonder and beauty of the Niagara Escarpment.

We're all very fortunate that in the early 1960s a small group of people had the vision to imagine a walking trail that stretched the length of the escarpment, from Queenston to Tobermory, and the determination and spirit to make their vision a reality. In June we will be celebrating that spirit.

We are renewing the commitment made 30 years ago to ensure that the natural environment of the escarpment along the Bruce Trail is protected and conserved for future generations.

We're also acknowledging the generous cooperation of local landowners who have given permission for the trail to cross their property. Without their kind collaboration, the dream of an unbroken trail across the escarpment could not be realized.

Finally, we are recognizing the hard work of the Bruce Trail clubs whose members have made the dream come true. They are the volunteers who are building this trail mile by mile. Their efforts have given thousands of people an opportunity to experience first hand the natural splendour of the Niagara Escarpment.

In closing, I want to commend all the volunteers for their tireless dedication to one of Ontario's natural wonders, the Bruce Trail, and invite all members of the House to come out to the trail and discover its wonders for themselves.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It is always interesting to observe how hot-button issues that stir anger against some groups in society or play upon the emotions of the electorate in reality serve to mask the real agenda of political parties.

How many senior citizens who voted for the Harris team, the Conservative Party that was imitating the Reform Party, thought the new right-wing government would cast seniors, students and other vulnerable people to the wolves by killing rent controls and making conversions of rental buildings to condominium buildings so easy?

How many seniors would have imagined that the party whose television commercials bashing social service recipients or employment equity programs, encouraging resentment against certain people in our society, would force senior citizens to pay user fees for prescription drugs or close hospitals so necessary to our older population?

Once again there are politicians who are purveying a message of hate and resentment to voters and offering simplistic answers to complicated questions. These messages that provoke anger so often cloud the real intentions of political parties of protest, parties which portray themselves as spokespersons for the average, ordinary individual when in fact they are the servants of the rich and powerful.

Workers in our factories and plants in Ontario should take note of the dismantling of the Workers' Compensation Board and the kind of anti-worker bill that was introduced by a government MPP this morning.

Those simple and inflammatory slogans are so often a smokescreen for an extreme right-wing agenda which would place pensions, health care and social programs in jeopardy. We should always look before we leap.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Yesterday my colleague from Dovercourt and I went to the rally to save Doctors Hospital. They were chanting to this government, "Take the bricks, keep the mix."

Doctors Hospital has a long and proud tradition of responding to the needs of its communities, and in this case Doctors Hospital responds to the various needs of the linguistic communities in their languages, because it serves Chinese Canadians, Portuguese Canadians, Spanish-speaking Canadians, and a lot of African communities as well, in their own language. That to me is important.

What they're doing and what is being proposed is to subsume Doctors Hospital in the Toronto Western. The fear is that the long and proud tradition of responding to the communities will be lost unless they have an independent board that will be there to ascertain that the history they have had with those communities is there. They are afraid, in spite of what the minister says, that the restructuring committee will not respond to that basic demand. What they want is an assurance from the minister that if the restructuring committee fails to heed that advice, he, as the boss of the health care system, will intervene to make sure Doctors Hospital and its services are maintained.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today as the member for Scarborough Centre. Scarborough's economy, like Ontario's economy, is booming. Investment is coming to Scarborough; jobs are being created. This is good news, and the people of Scarborough and the people in my riding are letting me know that they support the decisions of this government.

Here are some examples of companies that said they are investing in Scarborough: Eli Lilly Canada further expanded, bringing 75 new, high-value, high-tech jobs; Novopharm is creating 200 new jobs; Clearnet, Cinram, Cosmetica, Leyland Industries have all said yes to Scarborough and they have said yes to Ontario; Lees Development is building its third new residential tower; a new textile manufacturer is coming to Scarborough, bringing 600 new jobs.


Millions of dollars are being invested commercially at Cedarbrae Mall at Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough Centre. Cedarbrae Mall is getting more than a facelift. It's becoming a whole new service centre for people to shop and get the services they require. Coffee Time Donuts, a Scarborough company, Loblaws, Reitman's, CIBC and others have all made a further commitment to Scarborough and to the people of Scarborough Centre.

This is not government money. It is private enterprise investing in our community. All these companies have said they are committed to Scarborough, that they want to be located in a thriving community and in a prosperous province. Why? Because our plan as a government is working. The business and investment climate is being created; taxes are being lowered; jobs are coming; investment is coming. These are not just numbers from Statistics Canada. This is something that people can see. They are able to see it in the riding of Scarborough Centre.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'd like to read a letter that I just received in the mail, which I think is very typical of all seniors across Ontario.

"Sandra Pupatello:

"I don't know if you're the person I'm supposed to write to, but I hope you can give me an answer.

"I have to pay the first $100 on my prescription and $6.11 after for prescriptions.

"Last September 11, I paid" the drugstore "$100 and was told that was for a year, which would be good until September 1997. Well, I went to have prescriptions filled today...and they told me I had to pay another $100, as the new year started April 1.

"Doesn't Mike Harris get enough of our seniors' money? As I was told, a year is 12 months and I should have been paid up until September 1997. The way they're figuring from September to April is just seven months.

"When I asked the girl in the drugstore why, she replied, `I guess it's a short year.' Maybe for government, but I feel that's my money. I should have five months' credit on the $100 I paid. If they were going to start their new year in April 1997, why didn't they just collect for those months, not a year?

"I would appreciate you looking into this, as I know I won't be the only one getting cheated by Mike Harris. Thank you.

"Marion McAuliffe" -- a resident and constituent of mine.

Marion, I just want to say you are not the only senior being cheated, and on Monday, voting Reform or Conservative gives you more of this.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise to once again bring to the government's attention, particularly to the attention of the Minister of Citizenship, the lack of progress by this government on the issue of access to trades and professions.

The problem is essentially this: We have in Ontario thousands of people who are trained in various skills or professions in their country of origin. When they come to Ontario, they continue to face roadblocks in getting those credentials assessed and recognized and translated into Ontario equivalencies in a way that will allow them to have fair access to the various trades and professions in this province.

The answer, and the minister knows it, is to establish a credential assessment service to ensure that those roadblocks that now stand in the way of many residents of Ontario are removed. Because it hasn't been done, we have thousands of people in this province who, rather than practise their profession or use the skills they have in a particular skill area, have to do menial jobs, other low-paying jobs -- and that's if they're lucky to get those jobs. More often than not, they have to rely on social assistance.

For a government that says it's committed to giving people a hand up, it has shown very little progress in this area in the two years it has been the government. Once again, I want to say to this government, take the steps necessary to establish in this province a credential assessment service and give all Ontarians fair access to jobs.


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): Three Ontario students, Mike Soley, Steve Windle and Mark MacDonald of Brantford, Ontario, recently won medals at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition in Kitchener for excellence in their respective fields of carpentry, automotive mechanics and print technology.

Today Mike and Steve, who have been involved in the Ontario youth apprenticeship and cooperative education programs at Pauline Johnson Collegiate, are going for gold at the national competition in Red Deer, Alberta. The national event has competitions in a variety of technical skills, ranging from bricklaying to automotive repair and cosmetology.

The accomplishments of these students show the real benefits such programs have in improving both the knowledge and skills levels of students. More important, it's giving them practical work experience in addition to a sound education, as well as exposing them to valuable career opportunities in our trade sector.

These partnerships with outside business have strengthened the ability of schools across Ontario to help our students achieve their goals. I trust that the reforms our government will be making to the apprenticeship system in the future will increase success stories such as these for Ontario students.

Today, along with my colleagues from Brantford and Brant-Haldimand, I'd like to invite the members in the House to join me in congratulating these students on their accomplishments and wishing them the best of luck as they represent Ontario at the National Skills Competition today.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It's my understanding that when you make your rulings -- and I hope you'll hear me out on this -- you look to the standing orders, to precedent and to traditions of this place. It's on the latter issue that I am concerned and ask you to make a ruling.

The last time that the Ontario Legislature sat on a federal election day was 1874. It seems to me that's a long-standing and legitimate tradition in this assembly. I think for that reason, since many members want to be and indeed should be back in their ridings on election day, Monday, June 2, you -- and I hope you will consider this seriously -- should rule a Monday sitting of this Legislature to be out of order.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Let me say to the member for Nickel Belt, you're right about how rulings are made in this Legislature from the Speaker's dais. Let's be clear. First, we will check with the standing orders. If you don't find it in the standing orders, then you begin to move on, and you move on, obviously, to practice and precedent, and then you move on to the authorities.

The fact is that we find the answer to your particular concern in the standing orders. The standing orders strictly state that unless there's a motion or unanimous consent, then we should in fact be here on Monday. In the absence of a motion from the government and in the absence of unanimous consent, I can only say to you that I need go no further than the standing orders. That therefore means that we'll in fact be sitting on Monday, June 2.

Mr Laughren: Allow me to ask for unanimous consent for this Legislature not to sit on Monday, June 2.

The Speaker: That's perfectly within order and I'll do that now. The member for Nickel Belt is seeking unanimous consent for this House not to sit on Monday, June 2, due to the federal election. Agreed? I heard a number of noes.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): On a point of order, Mr Speaker --


The Speaker: Just one second. I need some order so I can hear the point of order from the member for Dovercourt.

Mr Silipo: It's also a request for unanimous consent, for a different one, and that is because of the importance of this issue. As my colleague from Nickel Belt has pointed out, this would be the first time since 1874 that the House will sit on an election day.

The Speaker: This is different, right?

Mr Silipo: I would like to request unanimous consent that the House not sit on Monday, June 2, but sit instead on Friday, June 6, I believe it is.

The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt, I dealt with that issue. If you want to move --


The Speaker: Let me finish. If you want to move that we sit on Friday, you can ask for unanimous consent for that. But I've already dealt with the fact of not sitting on Monday and you didn't get unanimous consent, so all that's left open for you now is to request unanimous consent to sit on Friday because the first motion didn't receive unanimous consent.

Mr Silipo: Perhaps if I tried it this way, if I could ask for unanimous consent to have the House sit on Friday, June 6, rather than Monday, June 2.

The Speaker: At this point in time, I could see us getting into a very difficult situation by submitting all the days until the end of the year and so on. On the proviso that I'll move that -- member for Dovercourt, I'll be happy to put that last point on unanimous consent, but after that I think it's decided.

The member for Dovercourt is requesting unanimous consent of the House to sit on Friday as opposed to Monday, due to the federal election. Agreed? I heard a lot of noes.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, let me try the point of order with you this way. It may have some validity. I trust your judgement at all times on this. I believe it says that you must have four hours to be able to vote in a federal election and in a provincial election. With the House sitting that day and members coming in from all over Ontario, I'm wondering whether indeed members of this House would have an opportunity, particularly those who live farther away, to vote on election day and if we aren't contravening the federal act in some way.

The Speaker: You're into legal questions at this point, and I don't have the capacity, the wherewithal or the technical expertise to answer these questions. All I can tell you is that if we didn't sit on Monday, it would only be on account of a motion or unanimous consent. It's clearly not going to happen through unanimous consent, so all that's left open is a motion from the government. It doesn't appear to be forthcoming, so I think everyone should be prepared to come Monday and work.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members will be aware that there appears in today's Orders and Notices paper a notice of an opposition day standing in the name of Mr Hampton. Standing order 42(a) provides for five opposition days in a sessional period. I want to inform the House that the allotment of five opposition days has been used. The notice is therefore out of order and shall be removed from the Orders and Notices paper.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On that point, Mr Speaker -- and I understand your ruling; we are certainly aware of the standing orders with respect to the maximum number of opposition days -- that notice is filed in accordance with an agreement between the three parties. I believe the matter will be dealt with next week and we will refile at that time.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Your government has gone to unconscionable and ultimately undeliverable extremes trying to download services on to municipalities, all to serve one purpose: to get control of educational funding. Now that you've got control, nobody knows what it is you intend to do with it.

Last week's announcement of the long-awaited funding formula tells us absolutely nothing, because there are no numbers attached to it, and quite clearly, a funding formula without numbers is absolutely meaningless. When are we going to see the dollars? When will we know what kinds of choices school boards are going to have to make as they try and meet the needs of students with the very limited dollars you're going to provide?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): We announced last week one of the structures. We're talking with people in the education community and other folks about how we can meet the needs of every individual student across the province. I think our intention and commitment is very clear on this matter: We will meet the needs of every student in the province and deliver a high quality of education to every student in the province. This is part of that process.

Mrs McLeod: Words and intent have really no credibility from a minister who has already cut $533 million from the operating grants of school boards and has bragged that he can take at least another half a billion dollars from those same school boards. There is one thing certain, and that is there will too few dollars in your new funding formula, which as of now is simply words, to meet the needs of every student.

One of the issues of great concern to parents of young children is the future of our junior kindergarten programs. Twenty-five school boards have already been forced to eliminate junior kindergarten because of your funding cuts. In your proposed funding formula you will have special grants for English as a second language, French immersion and special education. I'm sure the dollars will be inadequate in those areas, but at least you've recognized that those programs are valuable and they need special funding.

But junior kindergarten is not in any special category. It used to be. You ended that, and under your new formula junior kindergarten and its value are still going to be weighed against librarians and guidance counselling and computers and class sizes. Minister, are you prepared to see junior kindergarten in this province simply disappear and then try and say boards didn't think it was important?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Once again today either the research department or someone in the employ of the member opposite, perhaps the member opposite all by herself, is just plain misinformed on this subject. We've made our position quite clear in the past. We will be looking at providing an allocation model that will meet all of the needs of all of the students, and that includes the very young students.

We have said in the past that we're looking at providing those services and looking at having the maximum flexibility possible for people to choose the services that meet the needs of the community, whether that be full-day senior kindergarten or half-day junior kindergarten, half-day senior kindergarten. We're looking now and we're going to ask for some advice on which of those programs should be made available, where in the province, how they should be funded and how much they will cost, because we recognize those as valuable programs.

We've said that publicly on many occasions, so I wonder if there's not some mischief behind the member opposite's question, perhaps looking to misinform rather than inform the public of Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: The mischief is in playing games with words when we're talking about educational openings, possibilities for young children. Junior kindergarten, as the minister knows well, is lumped into what he calls a foundation grant and it will indeed have to compete for funding with class size, computers, librarians, guidance teachers and even buying textbooks. The minister knows that full well. He knows full well the kinds of impossible choices he has already forced on school boards because of his funding cuts. As of today, I tell the minister, the board in my home town has just had to lay off another 81 teachers. Those are the kinds of choices being forced on school boards.

Minister, there's another area of concern, and that's what's going to happen to adult education, the needs of adults competing against the needs of younger students. You are going to have a special grant for credit courses for students aged 21 and over. Will you guarantee today that adult students will get the same funding as other students? Will you guarantee that adults will get a fair second chance?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Now the member opposite goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. Let me quote to you from our news release, which in some way you have missed or has somehow been gone over by your research staff. It says very clearly, a quotation from myself: "This exercise is about getting the fundamentals of high-quality education right. As such, it marks a major step forward in ensuring that education dollars go where they are most needed." Most of us recognize that's into the classroom, to the students and teachers of the province of Ontario. Our commitments are very clear, and if the member opposite wants to look through this, she'll find a reference to those early childhood investments, to the investments in our youngest people.

As far as adult education is concerned, if the question was whether we will fund adults like we fund adolescents, whether we will assume that the cost of delivery for adults is the same as for adolescents, like your government did, no, we won't. We'll recognize that there's a difference between adults and adolescents. Most people in the province can see that. If the member opposite can't see that, perhaps she should consult with some of the other folks in Ontario.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Health. Your cuts are causing a crisis in health care across Ontario and in my own community in the Golden Horseshoe area. Last year, in the final nine months, on 21 different occasions all four emergency departments in the city of Hamilton at the four hospitals were closed at the same time -- on 21 occasions.

Joe Brant in Burlington: On numerous occasions the emergency department was shut down for up to five and a half hours. Niagara region hospitals: emergency departments shut down.

This leaves potentially up to one million people in an urban centre in this province without emergency service. We are talking about heart attack victims, stroke victims, accident victims. We are talking about children whose lives are at risk as a result of accidents and illness, Minister. Your cuts are putting those people's lives in jeopardy because they cannot access an emergency department.

I want to ask you very clearly. In view of the crisis we are facing in Hamilton, Niagara, Burlington, will you guarantee today that this type of crisis situation we have seen in the last six months to a year will not occur again and that those departments will be open for people when they need them?


Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I assure the honourable member that the critical bypass, which is actually what happens -- there's a whole set of procedures in place. It happens around the province as part of day-to-day affairs in the province. There is concern in Hamilton about the number of times the ambulances go on critical bypass, but I would plead with the honourable member never to say that those emergency rooms of those hospitals are closed. What it is is a set of very cautious protocols that indicate that the best service is available at the next hospital because that one is extremely busy. It's a volume problem.

The hospitals are not closed. It is against the law for any hospital or any doctor or any ambulance to refuse to provide care, and they do it the best they can. Critical bypass does concern the ministry in terms of its frequency over the last year in Hamilton, and we're working on that.

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

Hon Mr Wilson: There is a meeting on June 5 with all the officials involved to look at exactly that. That's exactly why, one of the major reasons, the Health Services Restructuring Commission is there.

Mr Agostino: Concern from the minister is not enough. It is happening because you have cut funding from hospitals. When all four in the city of Hamilton are closed at the same time for emergency services, it is a crisis. You cut $84 million out of hospitals in Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara.

Joe Brant in Burlington yesterday had 17 people waiting on a stretcher in the emergency department to get into a bed. In Hamilton up to 18 people routinely wait at St Joseph's hospital in the emergency department because they can't get into a bed. Among those folks, Mr Bruce Tait, 50 years old, suffered a stroke on Monday; he's still sitting on a stretcher at Joe Brant in the emergency department. Mr Charles Green, 74, has been sitting on a stretcher since Tuesday at St Joseph's hospital in Hamilton.

Simply, it is not enough. You can blame the feds, you can do what you want, but the reality is that you said you weren't going to cut health care. Don't blame anyone else. You said you weren't going to cut health care. That was your commitment. You have cut health care, and that's why people can't get into a hospital.

Will you commit today to reinstate the funding you've cut out of those hospitals to ensure --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member knows full well that it was his government and the previous government that cut 11,000 hospital beds in this province. It is his party at the federal government that has cut $2.1 billion. It is this government that has an all-time-high health care budget, up to $17.8 billion, plus over $2 billion for restructuring over the next few years. We're spending more money on health care in this province than we ever have. We're recognizing the growth and aging of the population.

The reason the commission is in Hamilton is because, as in other parts of the province, there shouldn't be these problems. The nurses' associations, the doctors', many other associations have said it's not because there isn't enough money in health care; there's more than enough money in health care. The money has to go into more patient services so we cut down on the number of critical bypass situations that occur. We need more services; that's what the commission is doing.

The honourable member is wrong to say that those hospitals cut any front-line services. They did not. In the old days they cut beds. Now they're cutting duplication and administration --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

Mr Agostino: I appreciate the Mulroney response, but that doesn't help my folks in Hamilton and Burlington and Niagara.

Minister, you said you weren't going to cut health care. I'll tell you why this is happening. It's because beds have been cut in hospitals. People are waiting in emergency rooms trying to get into a regular room for service, and they can't do that because you've cut the beds.


The Speaker: Minister, that's totally inappropriate and out of order. I ask you to withdraw that comment.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I withdraw.

Mr Agostino: I find it amazing that the minister would suggest that it's bull that people are waiting in emergency departments in Hamilton and Burlington. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Cam Jackson, the member for Burlington South, says the hospital in Burlington should not accept people from Hamilton, because it's too crowded.

Ian Darcel, the chief of medicine at Joe Brant, says: "The hospital is in a critical situation. We can't handle the influx of patients."

Dr Bellisimo at St Joe's says, "When everybody is on bypass, the system fails."

The supervisor for ambulance services in Hamilton says: "It's a crap shoot if they're all on critical bypass. You go where you go."

Minister, you have reduced health care in Ontario to a crap shoot. If you get sick or have a heart attack or a stroke and you get lucky, if there's a hospital emergency department open, you go; otherwise, you're out of luck and you may die waiting in that ambulance.

Minister, again I ask you: Will you commit today to reinstate the necessary funding to reopen --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister?

Hon Mr Wilson: We are currently reviewing the operating plans of those hospitals. As I did two weeks ago with Sick Children's Hospital and St Michael's Hospital, extra trauma money is provided as we reconcile the books every year, millions of dollars more to make sure that services are provided to people. We're reviewing those operating plans now. I know your hospitals will not be putting forward any cuts to their emergency departments; that's not allowed. We'll be reviewing those budgets to make sure the savings are only coming out of administration, duplication and waste.

The Ontario Nurses' Association had ads in the paper in January saying there's 30% waste. The Ontario Hospital Association itself says there's all kinds of waste. We spend enough money on health care. Instead of your federal Liberal cuts, we're spending a record amount on health care.

I hope you're going to talk to Sheila Copps about this, because she seems to have a lot of opinions, and you try to wipe your hands clear. I think it's immoral and unethical the way the federal government goes around and just ignores a $2-billion cut to health care. We've had to cut every other ministry and put into our number one priority, health care --

Mr Agostino: You made a commitment.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, I'm warning you to come to order.

New question; third party.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. You will be aware that there were two reports released in Metro today. One is the Metro Report Card on Children. It is following up on previous work by the Metro Task Force on Services to Young Children and Families, which showed that 89,000 children under the age of 10 are living in poverty in Metro Toronto. The second report is the 1997 Community Agencies Survey for Metro.

The first report shows a direct correlation between access to services and the health of communities. It states very clearly that a critical mass of services must be reached, that enough children and families must receive access to service, for the whole local community to benefit.

But the second report, the Community Agencies Survey, shows that your government's cutbacks, in combination with the federal government's cutbacks, have resulted in the loss of 151 programs in Metro last year. That's on top of 162 programs that were cancelled in 1995. Minister, do these findings concern you?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'm aware of both reports. We haven't yet received final copies. I look forward to going through them. They make some excellent recommendations and also highlight some serious concerns with the way the system is working. That's one reason we have the number of reforms under way that we do, so we can try to address some of those very serious problems.

Ms Lankin: I'm going to take that as a yes, that you're concerned. I guess now we'll see what you're prepared to do about it.

Here's what it means to be a child growing up in a high-risk area of Metro: 32.4% higher rate of abuse by family members and 59.8% higher by non-family members; 18% higher rate of attempted suicides under the age of 19. It goes on. The numbers -- and those are children behind those numbers -- are horrifying, but your government and the federal government are cutting services that are essential to the wellbeing of children and communities. The only thing that has remained constant is the municipal level, but your downloading has now put that at risk.


I want to quote to you from a political associate of yours, Gordon Chong, who says: "The supports we rely on to maintain our civil society have come under increasing stress. All levels of government need to have both a moral and financial duty to support the social infrastructure that is so critical to ensuring healthy communities."

Minister, are you prepared to stop the download and roll back your cuts to community agencies and to pressure the federal government to do the same with respect to transfers to the province of Ontario?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I'm certainly prepared to join the honourable member opposite in pressuring Ottawa so that instead of just doing across-the-board cuts, as has happened in the past, they would take the time to set some priorities as we have done here in Ontario. For example, health care is one of our major priorities, where we've maintained spending, as my colleague keeps mentioning, despite the cuts from Ottawa. I'd be quite happy to join with her in pressuring Ottawa to try and set some key priorities as we have done.

Second, though, I think both reports highlight that the system as it's currently structured out there -- with the multitude of agencies, with the problem people have finding access to the services they need, with ministry funding rules, programs etc -- hampers the ability of that system to serve people. I think that makes the case very well for why we have a complete restructuring exercise going on right now, being led in the communities and by the communities.

Ms Lankin: Minister, I appreciate your support in calling on the federal government to stop the downloading to provinces, but it is -- it would not be parliamentary to say hypocritical -- but your position is bizarre.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It's really unparliamentary and you can't even say that. You must withdraw that comment.

Ms Lankin: I withdraw that it would be unparliamentary to say it is hypocritical. It is bizarre to say --

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, this is your time. Just withdraw "hypocritical," please.

Ms Lankin: I withdraw it.

It is bizarre to say, then, that you somehow are off the hook, because your cuts, in combination with the federal cuts, have cancelled over 300 programs to families. The supports don't say that you need fewer programs or rationalized programs, they talk about a critical access.

The Metro task force report is called First Duty, and it's to our kids. I've got to tell you, Minister, kids are at risk. Kids' futures are at risk. Kids' lives are at risk. This report calls on you to work to set goals and targets linked to the indicators of health and wellbeing that can be used to measure progress on the situation of children.

Minister, will you commit today to work with all members of this Legislature, through the standing committee on social development, to develop these goals and targets and then to formally adopt them and implement policies to achieve them?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I really don't think it's necessary to try and spend the efforts of an all-party committee to set targets and goals when we are already doing exactly what needs to be done out there in the area of children's services. The list is quite lengthy; for example, our breakfast programs -- 400 child nutrition groups have got support from our government to help 26,000 children with nutritional needs; $20 million to double the number of preschool children who have speech and language disorders; $10 million for the healthy babies initiative, where we're going to have public health professionals and nurses out there screening those high-risk families to prevent the problems; $15 million for child welfare, because we know that system has flaws that need to be improved. I could go on and on.

We recognize very clearly that the supports for children in this province need to be improved. They needed to be improved when the honourable member was there, and they didn't manage to get it done. We're going to get it done because the children deserve it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. This is the minister who thinks it's his responsibility to add copper and zinc to the diet of the fish in Lake Ontario. I'm looking forward to hearing about the benefits he will be promising people from the 4,000 litres of radioactive water that leak into the Ottawa River every day from the Chalk River nuclear complex. It must be quite a challenge for his reduced staff to even keep track of all of the environmental time bombs that are suddenly blowing up around him.

Minister, you've cut $200 million at least from your ministry budget; you've laid off over 750 people, including monitors and experts, scientists of every kind. I want to know today what you are going to do to assure us that the water people drink from the Ottawa River and the fish they catch in the river are not endangering their health.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I did find out, as did the member opposite, the problem with regard to Chalk River, with regard to the water quality and the traces of radioactivity that were going into that water. I am very concerned about that and, as a result, I have contacted and I am in contact with the Atomic Energy corporation, which owns Chalk River, and the Atomic Energy Control Board, which regulates that particular facility.

Ms Churley: I guess the minister thinks that'll solve it. I'd like to hear back as soon as possible what the feds are telling him. But I expect him to be responsible for the drinking water of the people in Ontario, and particularly as it is so close to his own riding, I expected a little better answer than that. The more we hear about leaks and dumping from Ontario Hydro plants and the Chalk River complex, it's clear that the few people you have left at the ministry are going to be very, very busy.

I want to return, however, to the copper and zinc in Lake Ontario, the ones that you think are good for fish, remember? Supposedly Ontario Hydro is undertaking an internal review of the dumping of 1,000 tonnes of copper and zinc from the nuclear plant. I don't think that anybody in Ontario can have confidence that an internal review is going to get at the truth of this matter. It has been covered up for 25 years. What we need here is an independent investigation. Will the minister commit right now, today, to ask the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to make a full report on this affair?

Hon Mr Sterling: Under the Environmental Bill of Rights, there is a section which allows a citizen to come to me, as the minister, and request an investigation into the particular matter. No one has done that at the present time.

The second part is that I'd like to announce to the Legislature -- I thought the member would have known by now -- that Ontario Hydro has already taken action with regard to the copper condensing pipes around the four reactors on Pickering A. They have said they are going to replace that beginning in 1998 -- not beginning in 2000 -- with titanium, which will not have the same kind of abrasive reductions to the insides of those tubes as copper does. So they have taken the action already, notwithstanding that there is still the present study going on. I think they have acted responsibly and that they are acting with regard to the copper loading that is going on in the lake and, therefore, are addressing it.

Ms Churley: Minister, we're not just talking about the replacing of those pipes there. Of course I heard about that. We're talking about up to 25 years of dumping these products, these metals, that accumulate in the fish for years. It could be 100 years or more before it's cleaned up properly, before it goes away. We're talking about a coverup here. The people will not have the confidence, after something like this happened, that Ontario Hydro can make an unbiased investigation as to what happened. The revelations at Chalk River are only going to raise the temperature on this matter.

I don't think you need to wait for somebody else to ask for this. You should be concerned about what's going on over there and you should ask the Environmental Commissioner yourself to investigate what happened there so that the people of Ontario will have confidence that it will never happen again. Will you commit to that today?

Hon Mr Sterling: As soon as someone brings me evidence that Ontario Hydro is breaking any laws which were set by this government, that government or the previous government, my ministry will investigate and prosecute if necessary. But there has been no evidence brought to my attention or to the attention of my officials to launch such an investigation.

The effluent discharges, as the member well knows, are well within the kinds of effluent levels allowed under the laws of Ontario. I as the minister, the lawmakers, the Ministry of Environment, can only react in terms of the laws we have in place at this time. As soon as evidence is brought forward to me, we will launch an investigation.



Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): My question is to the Chair of Management Board regarding his programs of privatization. As you know, one third of the jobs at stake in the government mail and printing service are currently held by workers with disabilities, and some of these workers have been with the government for well over 30 years.

In reply to my question on May 5, you stated, "there's a...possibility that the taxpayers could be saved a tremendous amount of money by contracting this out with the private sector." Again, to the member for Nickel Belt: "In the estimation of the government, through this process several million dollars will be saved."

At a press conference this morning, David Baker, from ARCH, said you're engaging in a false economy because you'll ultimately be pushing these disabled workers into the ranks of the unemployed and on to welfare; you're being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

What amount of savings truly justifies ending the government's commitment to fair and equitable employment and putting the livelihoods of 40 disabled workers in jeopardy, perhaps ending up on welfare?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I want to first of all say that we value all the employees of the province of Ontario. Over the past year we've made a number of initiatives in terms of all the employees, in terms of early retirement plans, reassignments, and a good number of employees have been reassigned in the civil service.

Second, this very issue is before the Grievance Settlement Board -- there were hearings last week; there are hearings coming up in the future -- so it would be inappropriate for me to make any particular and specific comments about it, other than to say that we have a policy of reassigning, of benefits for employees, and a good number of employees have been able to take advantage of those programs.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary?

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Minister, nowhere in your 90-page request for proposals have you set out provisions to protect workers with disabilities. You have completely ignored their requests to provide input to the process you are putting in place. You may say that your government cares about disabled workers, but your actions speak louder than words. Your actions are undoing 30 years of government commitment to advancing the cause of persons with disabilities in our society. Until now, we have been proud to embrace the important contributions people like Bob Henderson have made. He has been a dedicated public servant for 33 years. What do you say to him?

In compassion and fairness, will you please do as you have been asked and withdraw the RFP until the full impact of its implications are understood?

Hon David Johnson: What I say to the member opposite is that there's a little bit of fearmongering going on here. Nobody has been laid off from the courier services, the mail services. There is a process under way. We have gone through a number of processes through the province of Ontario, and very few people have been laid off. Most people have been reassigned. Many people have been able to go with the job.

If the member opposite is indicating that the employees are not capable in this particular area, I have to say I disagree with him vehemently. All our employees are most capable, most valued, possibly will go with the new contract, possibly will be reassigned, any number of situations. Anything else is premature at this point and is simply fearmongering.

The Speaker: New question.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I'd like to follow up on that question by the members for Ottawa Centre and Carleton East on the privatization of the mail services. The minister responsible for Management Board is really engaging in a massive copout here. For you to say that it's before the Public Service Grievance Board has nothing to do with the issue at hand. If you want those people to be protected, the most vulnerable people in your employ, you need only put into those 90 pages of that request for proposals, into that RFP, a requirement that people with disabilities will be hired by the new employer. That's all you have to do.

Will you stand in your place now and say the RFP will be so amended?

Hon David Johnson: The fact of the matter is that the issue is before the Grievance Settlement Board at this point in time, and the fact of the matter is that not one employee has been laid off.

Yes, we are going through a process -- two processes, I guess: the Grievance Settlement Board on the one hand, an RFP on the other. We've gone through many similar processes in Ontario.

There are probably fairly close to 12,000 fewer employees in the province today than there were in June 1995, but many of these people who would have been laid off have found reassignments within the civil service; many people have taken advantage of early retirement; many people have found the enhanced severance to be attractive; and many people have gone with the function to a new employer.

How this particular case will turn out is subject to the processes we're going through, but I have every confidence that the matter will be resolved satisfactorily.

Mr Laughren: In the first place, there's no need for it ever to be at the Public Service Grievance Board. It need not be there at all. You could have avoided that completely by making it a requirement in the RFP that those people would be employed by a new private sector employer.

For you to say that some of the people with disabilities have been reassigned or taken new positions in the public service, I would remind you we're not talking about the public service any more, we're talking about the private sector, and the private sector has a different set of priorities, particularly since you scrapped the employment equity bill we brought in.

I would say to you that you're not playing straight with these people. I ask you, would you at least have the decency to look these people in the eye at a meeting and explain to them why you're doing what you're doing?

Hon David Johnson: It's pretty clear that this government is looking at restructuring. I'll say again that this government values all its employees and this government has shown it in many ways: through reassigning, and literally some 3,000 employees or so have been reassigned --

Mr Laughren: To the private sector?

Hon David Johnson: No, within the civil service. Many other employees have found the reopening of the 80 factor, early retirement, to be very attractive and have taken that opportunity, have actually come forward and requested that. Many other people have asked for the ability to bridge to an early retirement, and that has happened.

There are many different situations involved. The Grievance Settlement Board is involved. For me to say anything beyond that would be totally inappropriate at this point.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is to the minister responsible for women's issues. Minister, you and I had one of the most stimulating visits I've ever had in a secondary school in my riding yesterday when we were invited to Gordon Graydon Memorial Secondary School.

I know from your comments that you were as amazed as I was at the participation of those students. The subject before us was the issue of sexual assault. Frankly, I think we both felt that the level of understanding of this issue demonstrated by those students we met with was truly amazing.

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

Mrs Marland: Besides their awareness of the issue, we also recognized that they are students at a school that's at the leading edge of computer --

The Speaker: Thank you, member. Minister responsible for women's issues?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): The member for Mississauga South and I did visit Gordon Graydon secondary school yesterday and we were greeted by their student council president, Ahmed Habib. I have to tell members of the House that the level of understanding of technology in that school is just superb.

It's true across Ontario, but yesterday we had some assistance, as we launched the Ontario women's directorate Web site, from facilitators from the Peel Sexual Assault Committee, Allison Dantas and Sonya Singh, as we had this interaction with the students who seemed to know so much about the subject.


It seems to all of us that as we use technology to get the message out that sexual harassment is such a huge negative in our society and especially in our schools, young people who can produce and assist the government with their Web site pages are people we should be proud of and thankful to, especially as we work together during Sexual Prevention Month.

Mrs Marland: I wish the members of the opposition party had the same opportunity that we did in terms of this particular visit, because had they involved these kinds of students across our province, previously when they were the government, we would be further into the use of this kind of technology.

I simply say to the minister that I'm very proud of the fact that our government has launched this new initiative in dealing with sexual assault. I'm particularly proud that it was launched at Gordon Graydon secondary school in my riding. We look forward to those students teaching us how to do the teaching in the classroom, because this is the generation, thankfully, that will solve the problems for future generations to come.

Obviously the use of computer resources is the only way we can get the message out to as many people as possible. Minister, do you feel optimistic now about the future of where we can go with this kind of technology in the secondary schools?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Of course, the answer is yes. Although Mr Beyer at Gordon Graydon and their teacher, Grant Wardlaw, showed exceptional leadership yesterday, on Monday, along with my colleague from Huron, we were at Central Huron district high school in Clinton, where we launched the CD-ROM -- I'm sure the opposition members would be interested in this -- which was an extension of the print material on The Joke's Over. The Joke's Over means it's not funny to sexually harass our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues.

I have to say that young people developed this CD-ROM for young people -- Jason Bell, Rob Kemp, Erin Maaskant -- under the supervision of their teacher, Stephen Oliver. The totally exceptional technology of this CD-ROM, where the first thing you see are two eyes on the ROM and eventually a little tear coming down the face and the music in the background, really sent the message about student-to-student sexual harassment. It isn't funny to sexually harass --

The Speaker: Thank you very much, Minister. New question.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It's now clear to everyone that what you've offered as a rent control bill is nothing short of rent decontrol. As a result, you've kissed affordable housing in Metro Toronto goodbye. The people you're hurting the most are seniors, students and people living on fixed incomes. By taking controls off units as they become vacant, your bill will force people out on the street. Your legislation will throw the doors wide open to massive conversions of rental accommodation to condos, and rents, make no mistake about it, will go through the roof. Your bill is nothing short of a disaster.

Do you honestly care what you're doing with respect to these people in forcing them out on to the street? Do you care what happens to these people, Minister?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): This bill provides excellent protections for tenants and excellent opportunities for landlords to get back into providing more rental stock. Tenants are protected because rent control stays on and we maintain the same formula for rent control that currently exists, exactly the same formula. The increase this year will be 2.8%, which is the lowest in the history of rent control.

Giving the opportunity to eliminate rent controls on vacant units gives an opportunity for both the landlord and the tenant to negotiate a new rent, and then the rent control comes back on, so tenants are protected and landlords have more opportunity. It's a very balanced bill and I think it will be received by everyone as good news.

Mr Cordiano: The minister's answer confirms what everyone by now already knows, that you have a serious listening problem when it comes to the people of Metro Toronto. Your reputation is becoming legendary; there's no other way to describe it. The fact is, you're not listening to the people who are going to be affected by these massive increases. You know 25% of tenants move each year, so by next year more than half a million tenants will be left with no protection whatsoever. There will be fewer rental units and they will be more expensive. It's going to leave a lot of people with no place to live.

You are about to create another crisis in affordable housing, with dire economic consequences. Why aren't you listening to people when they're trying to warn you? Why aren't you listening to tenants right across this city who are warning you that you're going to create a huge crisis in affordable housing?

Hon Mr Leach: We did listen. We put the draft legislation out to hearings all of last summer. We received hundreds of proposals. We've adjusted the bill. Once it has second reading it will go back out for further input, and I'm sure during that process there will be further amendments. It is a very balanced piece of legislation that protects both the tenant and the landlord.

If the Liberals really want to talk about skyrocketing increases, they should look back to 1988 when rents were jumping by 30%, 40%, 50% and even 100% as a result of the legislation you had in at that time. What we have is a very balanced piece of legislation that helps the tenant and helps the landlord.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question to the Solicitor General. This morning you held yet another one of your boot camp conferences. You showed off the new uniforms you're going to put on your young offenders that are going to make them look like department store security guards, complete with little military-style epaulettes. You announced the privatization contract that's going to pay $2.4 million a year to a company whose only experience has been a one-year stint running a Florida boot camp.

We heard that this company's going to be hiring drill instructors and that the young offenders are going to be put to work mopping floors and cleaning roadsides. But what we haven't heard is how this is going to do any good when this government is doing nothing to deal with the dramatic and enormous rate of youth unemployment, when those young people in your boot camp are going to get no serious job training in their four- to six-month stay. What are their chances of getting jobs in the real world mopping floors or cleaning roadsides when they are eventually released?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): Certainly the intent behind the establishment of a strict discipline program for young offenders is to try, as the name of the program indicates, to turn around young people's lives, people who are repeat offenders coming into the justice system for the second, third or fourth time. The current system is not helping these people, it's not helping society.

Over 60% of people in the young offenders correction system are repeat offenders. Over 80% of the offenders in the adult system are graduates of the youth justice system. That's not a very satisfactory statistic; none of us is happy with it. We have to try new methods, new initiatives, new ways of turning these young lives around so that they can become productive members of society.

Mr Kormos: This government sends its backbenchers on a New York City junket to rely on New York City policing as some sort of model for Ontario, and now it incorporates the failed US experiment with boot camps as a response to young offenders. You should know that the headline of one recent Wall Street Journal article said, "Shock Camps, Failing to Cure Recidivism, Get the Boot." It explains how boot camps have been quietly closed down in the United States when it turned out that recidivism rates were as high, indeed higher than ever, up around 70% for your so-called boot camp graduates.


No wonder the folks from Florida were so eager to get your $2.4-million-a-year contract here in Ontario, where you're still hooked on this obsolete and ineffective approach of boot camps. One criminologist from Maryland said that boot camps were simply producing healthy, disciplined young criminals. When are you and your government going to get around to dealing with the real problem among youth, and that's the incredibly --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you, member for Welland-Thorold. Solicitor General.

Hon Mr Runciman: I think one of the messages we received during the last election was that people were fed up with the old approaches: knocking police, coddling criminals and ignoring victims. That's the track record of the provincial government for the past 10 years. We suffered 10 years of actual mismanagement of the criminal justice file in this province and we're doing something about it. We have the support of the people of this province for what we're doing.

With respect to the boot camp concept, we have indicated through our task force process that we did not accept the so-called boot camp concept. This is a version of it, but certainly one that's going to have an impact in all areas of young offenders' lives in terms of not only instilling discipline and structure to their lives, many of whom have not had an opportunity to --

The Speaker: Thank you. New question.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. In the May 6 budget our government demonstrated once again our commitment to turning Ontario's economy around to provide jobs and opportunity in the province. Our government reiterates our commitment to reduce the size of government, red tape and unnecessary regulations that discourage the creation and expansion of business.

Our government has a record of fiscal responsibility leading to more business and consumer confidence and therefore more jobs, as we speak. I spoke about that today, the good news happening in Scarborough.

Minister, in light of the fact that small business creates more jobs than any other sector in Ontario, can you please give this House and my constituents in the riding of Scarborough Centre an update on new government initiatives that are being developed to assist small business growth in Scarborough Centre and across Ontario.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to say right off the bat that this government is very supportive of small business. There's no doubt about that. There was a new three-year plan announced for small business enterprise centres to be created in the near future. These new centres really are the result of the private and public sectors getting together to decide how best to help small business.

As you know, there are currently 32 self-help centres, and these self-help centres in 1996 alone had some 250,000 inquiries, 12,000 business plan consultations and actually held 450 business seminars. From this activity, 12,000 new jobs have been created and 4,000 new businesses were started in 1996.

Mr Newman: Thank you, Minister. Every initiative that contributes to an environment that introduces business and job growth is always welcome news in my riding of Scarborough Centre. Indeed, expertise to keep Ontario's small business at the leading edge to keep up with growing competition from other provinces and countries is one of the best supports this government can offer.

Can you tell us if the sites for the enterprise centres have been selected yet and what the prime locations are?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm happy to say there are five potential sites already identified: Hamilton, London, Sudbury, Brampton and Ottawa. These enterprise centres, as you know, came from the new budget initiatives. We want to expand current programs. We're not satisfied with what's been done to date. This is a direct government response to concerns of local entrepreneurs. They've asked us to help them establish more small business.

The result of all of these changes will be stronger, better-managed small businesses, faster growth, and more jobs will be created. I want to emphasize that these centres will be self-sufficient after three years of operation --

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): The centre was opened three years ago.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Hamilton East, I've warned you twice. I'm not going to warn you again. You are out of order. I'm going to name you next time. Are you finished, Minister?

Hon Mr Saunderson: These centres will be self-supporting after three years. That means the government will no longer be involved in this. Thank you.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This afternoon I sent some pictures over to you as an example of the damage done by recent flooding in Essex county in particular. It's been over a month now since the municipality of Mersea township asked that the Shoreline Property Assistance Act loan program be reinstated at the earliest possible date. This has been supported by the town of Belle River as well as the county of Essex. Minister, are you prepared to provide funding to that act, and if so, when?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the member of the official opposition for sending over the pictures. They are very descriptive of the damage that's been done there, and I think everybody has a great deal of sympathy for the people who are involved. As the member knows, there is no funding in that program at the present time. The funding was eliminated by the Liberal government back in 1988.

I am working with my staff to see what the alternatives are. We haven't reached any conclusion or any decisions at this point in time. As quickly as we do, we will relate that back to the municipalities involved.

Mr Crozier: That's the same answer you gave over two weeks ago. All I'm saying is that notwithstanding the fact that there isn't any funding, it's your prerogative to put money there, and it's a loan, after all. You're going to make interest on it, for crying out loud. If you're so efficient and your ministry is so efficient and your ministry is so concerned, why is it taking you so damn long to make up your mind?

Hon Mr Leach: As the member knows, the damage down there was considerable and it's a very complex issue. We want to have a good understanding of what the effects are, what money is involved, what the options are for government to try and provide some assistance. It would have been much easier if the funding for the program hadn't been cancelled by the Liberal Party. However, as I told the member before, we have it under investigation. As soon as I have something to report back to him I will advise the municipalities affected and also the local member.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Labour. For two years now you've been promising injured workers that eventually they will have a chance to speak out against your government's destructive WCB reforms. Bill 99 is a complete 106-page rewrite of the Workers' Compensation Act, and on every page of that bill, Minister, we see taking away rights and benefits of injured workers; in fact, a total of $15 billion out of the pockets of injured workers.

You promised extensive public hearings. Hundreds of individuals and groups, as you know, have already indicated their interest in appearing before the committee. Now we learn that through your time allocation motion you intend to shut down debate and severely limit the hearing times. In fact, the public hearing schedule will only allow 10 hours of hearings here in Toronto and then a further six days in Toronto or across the province, hardly any time to allow people who want to express their opposition to what you're doing, hardly time to do that adequately.

My question to you is simply this: Why not allow enough time? Why not live up to your word and allow enough time in the public hearings for people to express to you their very sincere and severe concerns about what you're doing to workers' compensation in the province?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I think it's important to understand that this government has been listening and responding to the needs of workers' compensation reform now for many years. In fact we started the process as early as 1990. As you know, your government attempted to reform workers' comp and we're simply completing the process.


We felt that workers' comp reform was so important, and we gave Mr Jackson the responsibility. During the time that he had responsibility for workers' comp he met with over 150 groups, and many of those were injured workers. He travelled throughout the province listening to injured workers. He received more than 200 submissions.

We are at a point now where we want to move the legislation forward and we want to make sure we have the opportunity to listen to people in Toronto and throughout the wider province. We want to introduce the reform in order that we can focus, first and foremost --

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

Mr Silipo: Minister, I don't know who you're listening to. It certainly is not the injured workers, because in instance after instance their concerns have not been reflected, certainly not in the work that Mr Jackson did, certainly not in the legislation that's before us and certainly not in the way in which you are now going in wanting to shut down debate very severely and limit the ability of injured workers to tell you and to tell the standing committee directly how opposed they are to what you are doing.

This is not just tinkering with the legislation; this is a major overhaul of the system. It's a major change that should warrant adequate time in committee for it to be debated and discussed. In fact even last year when you dealt with Bill 49 -- remember the bill that you called "minor housekeeping" -- there was more time allowed for hearings on that bill than you are allowing on workers' compensation.

Again, Minister, I ask you: Why are you not allowing adequate time for people who are opposed to what you are doing on workers' compensation to come forward and to state their case in front of the committee? Since you haven't listened to them so far, will you not listen to them at this stage of the game?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I would just remind you, we have been listening and we have been responding to the need for workers' compensation reform since the early 1990s. In fact, it was a key part of our platform in the election.

Now we have made a commitment, not only to injured workers but to people throughout this province, that we want to change the focus at the WCB. We want to make sure we don't have the number of injured workers that we have at the present time. We have changed our focus from compensation to the prevention of injury and illness in the workplace. We want to make sure we can bring forward that legislation and that's where we can focus.

We are restructuring the WCB in order that service can be provided to injured workers in a more timely and efficient manner than in the past. I think the discussion has gone on now for years and years -- it actually started in 1984 -- and it's time that we have public hearings, starting in June, throughout the summer, and then we can introduce the new policy.


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I rise on a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: In my riding of Sarnia, which is 300 kilometres away from here, there is a school called Cathcart Boulevard public school. This school has some of the finest teachers and finest students. It is my privilege to tell you that students, teachers and principals are here today, about 100, on both sides of the gallery.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Welcome.

Mr Boushy: It's worth it.

The Speaker: I am sure it is worth it to you and them. I'm not sure what the member for Scarborough West is going to say.


Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I infrequently complain about decisions of the Chair, but under standing order 33(a), I simply want to express a concern with respect to when members of the executive council are asked a question and a number of allegations are raised during that question. Then when a minister stands to respond, heckling arises in the opposition benches and very significantly limits the opportunity of a member of government to respond to those very serious allegations. I would hope that consideration could be given to ensuring that there is an opportunity to adequately respond.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I understand about this heckling business. If it does get too loud, I try to jump up and allow an opportunity for the House to calm down. I understand you were answering the question and you feel the heckling was loud. I guess what I'm saying to you is that it wasn't as bad as it could have been for me to stand. I appreciate your point of privilege, but I find it without foundation.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have to say that as a member who has a question, all the heckling that is taking place in the House, the interference during question period has curtailed the time to ask questions in the House. I really don't know if, in that case, it should be allowed to present people -- who are, yes, welcome here in our House -- while we have question period going on.

The Speaker: I think I agree with you and I don't agree with you in some instances. Your point is well taken. I will follow it up closely.



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

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

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

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

I've affixed my signature to it.


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

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

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

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

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

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

I sign my name to this.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : «À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

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

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

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

«Que par ces mesures le gouvernement manque à son engagement de garantir les niveaux de financement actuels et ne reconnaît pas que les diverses collectivités locales n'ont pas les mêmes moyens de faire face à ces nouveaux fardeaux, créant ainsi une inégalité d'accès aux services essentiels ; et

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

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



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): "Whereas the Conservative Party has broken its promise that it would not close hospitals in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party said it would not introduce user fees and proceeded to introduce $225 million in new user fees for seniors through the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that aid for the disabled would not be cut and proceeded to level millions of dollars in new user fees on to the backs of the disabled; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would be no cuts to education and then proceeded to impose cuts which caused the cancellation of JK classes, the cancellation of special education programs, and created larger classroom sizes; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party stated that there would be no cuts to law enforcement and then cut the budgets of Ontario's police and courts by more than $100 million; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would be no cuts to the environment and has broken this promise by firing environmental inspectors and cutting the budget which protects the environment by over $100 million;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Conservative Party to cancel the last stage of its tax scheme, which benefits the wealthiest people in Ontario the most, and restore funding for programs which protect health care, education, seniors and the environment."

I've affixed my signature in full agreement with the sentiments.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas summer employment is a necessity to many students to help finance their post-secondary education; and

"Whereas obtaining summer employment may mean the difference between students returning or not returning to school; and

"Whereas summer employment provides work experience necessary for students to compete in the job market after leaving school; and

"Whereas summer employment is a means through which students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds can compete with students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds for education; and

"Whereas summer employment is more productive for students than unemployment; and

"Whereas after threat of elimination, Ontario student jobs programs were drastically scaled down last year;

"We, the people undersigned, demand the Ontario government continue all existing Ontario student jobs programs and invest in expanding and establishing new student and youth employment programs."

In support, I affix my signature.


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

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

"Whereas the community supported the recommendations of the Win-Win report based on a funding model that included the expansion of community-based care; and

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

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

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

"Whereas these cuts have forced hospitals to eliminate emergency services in the west end of Windsor and other desperately needed services," and I may add, contrary to what was written in the Common Sense Revolution, the right-wing document campaigned on;

"Whereas the minister acknowledged that additional funding was necessary in high-growth areas" and did fund $25 million to areas other than the Windsor-Essex county area;

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

These are just more in a very long list of petitions on this issue, and I sign.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): It reads:

"To the government of Ontario:

"Since the Hotel Dieu Hospital has played and continues to play a vital role in the delivery of health care services in St Catharines and the Niagara region; and

"Since Hotel Dieu has modified its role over the years as part of a rationalization of medical services in St Catharines and has assumed the position of a regional health care facility in such areas as kidney dialysis and oncology; and

"Since the Niagara region is experiencing underfunding in the health care field and requires more medical services and not fewer services; and

"Since Niagara residents are required at present to travel outside of the Niagara region to receive many specialized services that could be provided in city hospitals and thereby not require local patients to make difficult and inconvenient trips down our highways to other centres; and

"Since the Niagara hospital restructuring committee used a Toronto consulting firm to develop its recommendations and was forced to take into account a cut of $44 million in funding for Niagara hospitals when carrying out its study; and

"Since the population of the Niagara region is older than that in most areas of the province and more elderly people tend to require more hospital services;

"We, the undersigned, request that the government of Ontario keep the election commitment of Premier Mike Harris not to close hospitals in our province and we call upon the Premier to reject any recommendation to close Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines."

I affix my signature as I am in full agreement with this petition.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have petitions signed here by residents of Windsor, Kingsville, Essex, Leamington, all over Essex county and Windsor. It's addressed as:

"A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas the community supported the recommendations of the Win-Win report based on a funding model that included the expansion of community-based care; and

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

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

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

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

"Whereas the minister acknowledged that additional funding was necessary in high-growth areas;

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

In support of this I affix my signature.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): "Whereas the Conservative Party has broken its promise that it would not close hospitals in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party said that it would not introduce user fees and proceeded to introduce $225 million in new user fees for seniors through the Ontario drug benefit plan; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that aid for the disabled would not be cut and proceeded to level millions of dollars in new user fees on to the backs of the disabled; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised there would be no cuts to education and then proceeded to impose cuts which caused the cancellation of JK classes, the cancellation of special education programs, and created larger classroom sizes; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party stated that there would be no cuts to law enforcement and then cut the budgets of Ontario police and courts by more than $100 million; and

"Whereas the Conservative Party promised that there would not be cuts to the environment and has broken this promise by firing environmental inspectors and cutting the budget which protects the environment by over $1 million;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Conservative Party to cancel the last stage of its tax scheme which benefits the wealthiest people in Ontario the most and restore funding for the programs which protect health care, education, seniors and the environment."

I affix my signature to this and I am in full agreement with this.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Madam Speaker, you will see the pile of petitions that this issue resulted in.

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the citizens of Windsor and surrounding areas feel we should have the right in the decision to close Windsor Regional Hospital western campus emergency unit, it is unfair that this decision was made without public consent or insight. As of April 1997 the emergency unit is closed, leaving thousands of citizens without medical care in this area.

"We, the residents of Windsor and surrounding areas, think this is unfair and we oppose the closing of Windsor Regional Hospital western campus emergency unit."

I'm very pleased to submit 4,000 names to that effect.


Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I have a petition I've received from an individual in Ottawa who has expressed the inability to get it done through his member opposite and has asked me to introduce this petition dealing with the need to privatize TVOntario. I'm pleased to append my signature.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This petition is to the government of Ontario:

"Whereas non-instructional staff of boards of education provide an important and essential service to schools in Ontario;

"Whereas the school system functions best, in the interest of its students, when all of its employees work in harmony and coordination and with the kind of expertise that comes with continuity, coordination and experience;

"Whereas Bill 104 encourages the privatization and outsourcing of non-instructional positions and the resulting loss of jobs, cutting of wages and salaries, and removal of employment benefits for people with comparatively moderate incomes;

"Whereas dedicated educational employees are having their lives severely disrupted so that the Conservative government of Mike Harris can finance an income tax that benefits the wealthiest people the most;

"We, the undersigned, request that Bill 104 be rescinded by the Conservative government and any future legislation not call for the outsourcing and privatization of educational jobs."

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


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): This is a petition from some 2,200 people in the counties of Elgin, Middlesex, Lambton and Kent. It reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly for funding to continue a preschool for special-needs children two to six years of age in the area of Wardsville to accommodate the surrounding areas of west Middlesex, west Elgin, east Lambton and east Kent."

This petition is for the children with special needs who have no services at the end of June 1997. I affix my name to it.



Mr Curling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr81, An Act respecting the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto Foundation.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr Maves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr80, An Act respecting the Young Women's Christian Association of Niagara Falls.

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



Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I move government notice of motion number 20:

That pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 99, An Act to secure the financial stability of the compensation system for injured workers, to promote the prevention of injury and disease in Ontario workplaces and to revise the Workers' Compensation Act and make related amendments to other Acts, when Bill 99 is next called as a government order, the Speaker shall put every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without further debate or amendment, and at such time the bill shall be referred to the standing committee on resources development;

That the standing committee on resources development shall be authorized to meet to consider the bill at its regularly scheduled meeting times during the weeks of June 16 and 23;

That the standing committee further be authorized to meet to consider the bill for six days during the summer recess;

That all amendments be tabled with the clerk of the committee by 5 pm seven calendar days following the final day of consideration during the summer recess;

That the committee be authorized to meet to consider the bill for four days of clause-by-clause during its regularly scheduled sessional meeting times; and that the committee be authorized to meet beyond its normal hour of adjournment on the fourth day until completion of clause-by-clause consideration;

At 5 pm on the fourth day of clause-by-clause deliberations, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto. Any divisions required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put and taken in succession with one 20-minute waiting period allowed pursuant to standing order 128(a);

That the committee shall report the bill to the House no later than the first sessional day that reports from committees may be received following the commencement of the fourth day of clause-by-clause consideration or no later than the first sessional day in November, whichever is earliest. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on the date provided, the bill shall be deemed passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House;

That upon receiving the report of the standing committee on resources development, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without debate or amendment and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading;

That one sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment;

That in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes and no deferral of any division pursuant to standing order 28(g) shall be permitted.

Madam Speaker, I believe unanimous consent has been received that after I speak the time will be divided equally between the two opposition parties until 6 o'clock.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is there unanimous consent to split the time evenly between the two opposition parties? Agreed.

Hon Mrs Witmer: Today I would like to outline in very clear terms why the government is going to move forward in order that we can begin the committee stage of legislative proceedings for Bill 99, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

As I indicated earlier in the afternoon, this government and governments before have been listening and responding to the need for workers' compensation reform for a very long time. In fact, the reform to WCB actually started in 1984. It continued under the Liberal government and under the NDP. Most recently, we introduced Bill 15, which continued that reform.

When we were in opposition and I was labour critic between 1990 and 1995, we consulted with individual stakeholders around the province. We were able to determine what was wrong with the system. We then continued to consult with individuals. We made the reform of WCB a key issue in our election campaign because we were determined to secure benefits for injured workers into the future. To do that, we have to make sure we restore the financial integrity of the WCB.

At the present time, we have an unfunded liability of $10.4 billion. That is three times the unfunded liability of all the other provinces combined. Our objective is to eliminate that unfunded liability by the year 2014. If we are able to do that, we are able to secure benefits into the future for injured workers.


Also, by introducing Bill 99, we are changing the focus of the WCB. The focus will no longer be on compensation. The focus will be on making sure we look at prevention of injury and illness in the first place. In that way, we won't have the thousands and thousands of injured workers that we have today.

Getting back to the consultation that has taken place, as I indicated to you, really the changes started in 1984. It continued when we were in opposition. It continued with my colleague the Honourable Cam Jackson, the former minister responsible for workers' compensation reform. Mr Jackson consulted with over 150 individual injured workers in 1995 and 1996. He travelled to such communities as Thunder Bay, Niagara Falls, Simcoe, Nepean, St Catharines, Guelph, Woodstock, Burlington, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa. As well as meeting with so many individuals and groups, Mr Jackson received over 200 written submissions providing considerable advice and input on reform initiatives.

After Mr Jackson completed his consultations, we continued to consult and we continued to meet with a variety of stakeholders on the New Directions recommendations that were prepared by Mr Jackson. As a direct result of that consultation, we heard during that time that we needed to take a look at some of the proposals that had been put forward. Again, those consultations included injured workers; they included employees; they included employers.

We have made some changes as a result of the input we received. For example, we made changes in the definition of "accident." We decided, after listening to the injured workers, that we would not add a three-day waiting period. We also responded to the employee groups and the employer groups who expressed concern about a direct-pay model of insurance and decided that we would not proceed with that initiative. So we have been listening. We have been listening not only in opposition, but for the past two years while in government. We believe it is now necessary to move on to committee in order to complete the final overhaul of the Workers' Compensation Board, and that is where we are going to be moving.

I want to take this opportunity to remind the members of this House of some of the previous efforts of governments to reform the workers' compensation system and how, comparatively speaking, we believe our time allocation motion is an acceptable way to move Bill 99 through the legislative process.

It's important to know that the NDP government introduced their Bill 165 and it eliminated $18 billion of the unfunded liability as a result of the introduction of the Friedland formula of inflation indexation. This was probably the most significant change introduced by the NDP, and it certainly went a long way in starting to eliminate the unfunded liability.

We build on the reform that was started by the NDP. In our Bill 99 we modify the Friedland formula further in order that we can eliminate an additional $9.3 billion against the unfunded liability by the year 2014. However, in further modifying the Friedland formula, we are continuing to fully protect those who are the most vulnerable, that is, the 100% disabled and the survivors of deceased injured workers.

In our motion, we allow committee debate on Bill 99 to take place at different times over a six-week period. This is very comparable to the previous government's WCB legislation, despite the less significant impact on inflation indexation from our reforms.

I want to remind people in this House that when the NDP government was dealing with Bill 165, which was introduced in 1994, this bill, which was considered to be very significant because of the amount of money that was eliminated from the pockets of injured workers, only received one day at second reading. At 10 hours, our Bill 99 has already had four times the number of days at second reading as the previous government's legislation.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Oh, come on. Our bill was out there for so long. What a stretch.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, come to order.

Hon Mrs Witmer: This time allocation motion today will also give the opposition one day for third reading. I need to remind the previous government that they felt one day for third reading was quite satisfactory, because they allocated the same time for their Bill 165. We have already, at this second reading stage, given the opposition parties four times the number of days at second reading as the previous government, who only allocated one day for second reading and one day for third reading.

There is something else I need to mention about the previous government's record on workers' compensation reform. During the second reading debate on Bill 99, I know the members of the third party were claiming that their Bill 165 was the result of a compromise agreement resulting from former Premier Rae's Labour-Management Advisory Committee. They also indicated that their government had the full support of a variety of organizations involved in the workers' compensation system.

It needs to be said and put on the record that there was absolutely no such consensus. There was not a compromise agreement from the Labour-Management Advisory Committee. Although the process had been set up by Premier Rae, it was not followed through, and at the end of the day the Premier and his party proceeded to unilaterally enact the reforms which they believed were necessary and not the ones that had been agreed to by the labour-management committee. If you take the time to review the committee proceedings from that period, you will see this important fact for yourself, so I think it's somewhat unfair to indicate that Bill 165 had the support of both labour and management. It simply did not.

It's also important to note that throughout the time the opposition has been dealing with WCB reform, they have endorsed many, if not all, of the proposed legislative changes to the workers' compensation system that we are indicating are necessary today if we are going to eliminate the unfunded liability and ensure benefits for injured workers into the future.

I now want to provide an outline of why we believe it is time to move this bill through the legislative process. As I indicated, this is the final step in the overhaul of the WCB. It's interesting that Premier Rae said on April 14, 1994: "It has been apparent for some time now that the workers' compensation system is in critical need of reform and renewal. All across North America, governments are grappling with the need to make their systems of workers' compensation more viable, efficient and affordable."


He went on to say, "In Ontario, workers have become increasingly critical of the impact of earlier legislation and of the difficulty of getting back to work." That difficulty of getting back to work is still there today, and that is part of what our legislation is going to change, because our legislation will encourage and support the timely and safe return to work of injured workers.

Premier Rae went on to say, "Employers worry that their costs may have to rise beyond what they can afford in the future because of present and future liabilities," and of course that situation still exists today. As I indicated earlier, our unfunded liability is three times the size of all the other unfunded liabilities combined. There's also a concern for employers, because every time they hire a new employee, they assume $4,000 of the unfunded liability. There is a real disincentive to job creation.

Premier Rae went on to say, speaking about his changes, "These are the first vital steps towards designing a compensation system that will serve the workers of Ontario into the next century." That's what is extremely important, because Mr Rae recognized that those were important first steps, and we are now completing the overhaul. As we all know, this legislation has not been rewritten since 1914. The language is out of date, we are dealing with the changing workplace, we are changing the employer-employee relationship, so we have now rewritten the act entirely. It is now time to get out, receive the final input and advice during public hearings, and then we will have the opportunity to make those important changes to workers' compensation which are long overdue.

Our reforms will restore the financial viability of the board by eliminating the $10.4-billion unfunded liability by the year 2014. We are also keeping our commitment to adjust benefit levels from the current 90% of pre-injury net earnings to 85%. Similar adjustments have already been made in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; in fact, our benefits will still be among the most generous in Canada, because some of those provinces start out at 75% or 80%, and we are reducing our levels to 85%. As I indicated earlier, we are going to make some changes as well to inflation protection for all but the most vulnerable workers.

In order to ensure balance and in order to ensure that all employers pay their fair share of the system, we are taking steps on the revenue side. We know that under the current system there are some companies that move into this province temporarily and then leave with outstanding WCB premiums. We know there are other employers who, in order to avoid outstanding WCB debts, reorganize their businesses. Under our reforms, the board will be able to take direct action to halt this revenue leakage. We want to make sure the honest employers do not continue to subsidize those who are dishonest.

I also want to comment at this time about a remark that was made by the third party during second reading debate. They indicated that the unfunded liability had declined over the last two years as a direct result of their Bill 165. Perhaps these members would say that this development dampens the need to enact Bill 99 and that this time allocation motion is unnecessary. I think it's important that the members of the third party know that the total net effect of Bill 165 was to reduce the projected unfunded liability from the $30 billion to $12 billion by the year 2014, but it was never projected to eliminate it. The total net financial impact of this change was immediately implemented in the 1994 operating results of the Workers' Compensation Board, and it has had absolutely no further effect on the unfunded liability. To say anything else is inaccurate.

The unfunded liability has declined since our government took office, but it's not because of Bill 165. The main reasons for the change are the better-than-expected return on the investment fund and the fact that there are more assessment rate revenues from the employers, because as a result of some of the initiatives of our government and other changes, we now have more workers employed and covered by the workers' compensation system. It's not Bill 165 that has had the impact; the impact is the expected greater rate of return on the investment fund and the fact that there are more people working, and as a result we have more assessment revenue than had been anticipated.

We need to be cognizant that if that's the reason for the situation at the board, this situation could just as quickly reverse itself and deteriorate. Thus, our reforms are imperative, because they are going to provide real, sustained reform to eliminate the unfunded liability once and for all.

A second reason to move this bill through the legislative process is to enact changes to ensure that injured workers return to work in a safe and timely manner. We all know that we have been doing a poor job in this province of getting injured workers back to work safely and in a timely manner. In fact, the board in past years has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on vocational rehabilitation, and unfortunately we have very little to show for it.

Our reforms will place new responsibilities on the employers and the employees in order that they maintain a very close contact with each other and that there is an opportunity to arrange suitable pre-injury employment and also that they are encouraged to cooperate in any return-to-work measures required by the board. That is very important. If we're ever going to get injured workers back to work in a safe and timely manner, there is going to be a need for communication and cooperation between employers and employees. We need to maintain that workplace connection. Our reform is intended to do exactly that. Our reforms would also provide for the development of labour market re-entry plans where return to work happens to be more difficult.

A third reason we need to move Bill 99 to committee is to ensure that the changes that are made restore the workers' compensation system to its original mandate as a workplace accident insurance plan. In past years, compensation has been paid for conditions whose connection to the workplace is often difficult to determine, so we must refocus the system. We must modernize the act, which was originally written in 1914 and has been amended over 50 times since then. We also need to restructure the five agencies related to the board in order that more efficient and effective service can be provided to injured workers and employers.

Finally, we need to introduce this motion now, because we need to move to committee so that the government has the opportunity of hearing directly from the people about our goal of making the workplaces in this province among the safest in the world.


Bill 99 is going to give the WCB the responsibility for the prevention of injury and illness. It will enable the board to work cooperatively with the Ministry of Labour and the other partners in health and safety to develop a new, coordinated vision and strategy for health and safety. We need to get on with the job of preventing illness and injury in the workplace.

Just before I conclude, as the members know, the Workers' Compensation Board has committed to making the functional abilities form and chronic pain regulation available for committee hearings. I'm pleased to advise the members of this House that this material will be ready. Again, the board is going to be looking for input on the functional abilities form and the chronic pain legislation. We look forward to the public comment on those two initiatives.

In closing, in bringing forward this time allocation motion the government is simply outlining in very clear terms our process for additional public consultation on reform. It's unfortunate that we haven't had agreement on this issue over the last several months and that we do need to outline these specific details. I guess I need to remind members opposite that the previous two governments used time allocation motions on a regular basis. The NDP government actually used these motions 23 times during their term, and they are in fact the author of the time allocation standing order which we are using today.

I look forward to the 13 days of public debate that will take place on this legislation, not only in the city of Toronto but in towns and cities across Ontario. This consultation is important, and it is going to allow us to proceed and complete the overhaul of the workers' compensation system in order that we can start to focus first and foremost on prevention of injury and illness and ensure that in this province we have among the safest workplaces in the world.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'm always interested in the government excuse for proposing time allocation motions. They're better known as "the guillotine" or "closure motions," although we use the term "time allocation." That usually means the government is annoyed that there is some considerable debate taking place over a piece of legislation and wants to restrict that debate so that the public is not as aware as it should be of all the issues which are or could be raised during that debate.

This is a very significant piece of legislation. That is something all three parties would agree upon. In fact, when you have such an extensive overhaul, as the minister would call it, of the Workers' Compensation Board legislation, you know you are going to be affecting thousands upon thousands of people in Ontario, usually the most vulnerable people in our society, those who are unfortunate enough to be hurt on the job. Often, because of the nature of the job, it is those who are in lines of work that require a lot of physical exertion. That's ordinarily where you find the majority of the accidents.

Many of those people, as the result of an injury, are not able to walk into a law office or a doctor's office or a classroom and start a profession or a new work endeavour. That is why they're very reliant upon the compensation that is paid through the auspices of the Workers' Compensation Board.

The government, members of the House should know, the public should know, particularly those who are watching, has every intention of bringing in new rules to this House. The reason they're going to do that is that even with the very restrictive rules we have on the opposition now, as demonstrated by the imposition of a time allocation motion this afternoon, the government is still not satisfied.

Those who are the Reform right-wingers in the government and find this House cumbersome and find democracy a nuisance will want to see the rules changed even further so that the opportunity for the opposition to debate legislation and, when it is justified, to delay the processing of legislation so that public attention can be focused on it -- when that happens, there are some in the government who are unhappy. They're mostly the more recent members of the Legislature, because those who have sat on the opposition side know that in a democracy the opposition plays a very significant role. We do not have the power, ordinarily, to initiate legislation, particularly legislation which would include the raising of public funds and the expenditure of public funds, but we do have the opportunity to deal with legislation, to offer constructive criticism and to offer alternatives. But also it is our responsibility to bring to the attention of the public the issues surrounding matters of this kind.

We believe the time allocation is unduly restrictive on that debate. We believe that further debate would be useful in canvassing the issues and in sharing the importance of those issues with the public who watch through the auspices of the legislative television channel or through the coverage which is given by the members of the news media who are filling the public galleries right now. As members will see, the galleries are full of the news media, who are very interested in this subject and everything going on in this House. We know that is something that will happen. There will be that adequate coverage.

The member for Perth -- this is a little bit of a diversion -- was kind enough to report to me that Conrad Black, the media Mongol --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): My constituent.

Mr Bradley: -- a constituent of the member for York Mills, the friend of the government of Ontario who now owns at least 58 out of 104 daily newspapers in this country, did not in fact buy the London Free Press. Rather, Sun Media completed its purchase. We know, then, that with Sun Media everything will be very, very well balanced in terms of the coverage, having watched the Sun in Toronto, Ottawa and other places.

Of course now that the teachers' pension plan has some funds in the Sun, I expect that OSSTF and others will be exercising their prerogative to moderate the viewpoints that are expressed by the Sun newspapers across this country. If there are any teachers in the gallery today, I would hope they would be imploring their federation to exercise that power to perhaps influence the Sun to be the kind of balanced newspaper we're looking for it to be in all the communities in which it is found, because we know that Conrad Black is the friend of the government. He believes in the right-wing agenda this government is bringing forward, and he's prepared to say so.

If you look at the changes that are made in the newspapers now owned by Conrad Black, you will see that they're bringing in right-wing ideologues to write many of the editorials. They are intimidating, in my view, many of the reporters who used to be looking for good investigative stories out there. Some of them with a left- rather than a right-wing bent are now intimidated in so many circumstances. So "the right-wing press" is now a good description of it with Conrad Black owning it. But that doesn't relate as much to this motion this afternoon as I would like it to.

I want to put this piece of legislation in context. Probably a significant number of working people in this province, unionized employees in this province, voted for the government last election. Heaven forbid, they would not have been elected without that kind of support. When they heard those slogans of, "You know, those welfare people out there, they are ripping you off," and the hot-button message was out there to people: "It's time we kicked those people, because they are a problem for our society," or "We don't like employment equity, do we?" -- employment equity that might give others in our society more of a chance to be able to be involved in the process of employment and other areas.

With those hot-button issues, with those emotional, catchy, negative issues, the government was able to garner some significant support, even from areas where people might not understand it would come normally.


Those who are working people today will see what the real agenda of this government and of right-wing governments is. It reminds me of what I saw in the newspaper today and what I see on television and hear on the radio. I hear some political messages out there in the present federal election that are simplistic and simple that remind me of the provincial election -- simplistic and simple messages -- and they are targeted at making people angry with other people in our society.

I know my Conservative friends will find this interesting. I was talking to some of the Conservative people in St Catharines who were complaining to me about the signs they saw. They saw a sign that said, "No more Prime Ministers from Quebec," or something like that, "No leaders from Quebec," and "No more distinct society." They were abhorring the fact that one of the political parties was putting these signs up or at least was supportive of these signs. I had to explain to them: "Yes, isn't it awful? But you know where they learned that? They learned that from the Harris Conservatives."

I can remember in the last week of the last campaign, as other members will, that there were these multicoloured signs going up saying, "No more easy welfare," or "No more job quotas." It's not only the message itself, it's the code that's out there. What does it really mean when you say that? So when Conservative candidates in the province today complain about another political party apparently being responsible for these signs, they should know that tactic was learned from the Mike Harris Conservatives in Ontario, or as I call it, the Reform-Conservative coalition here in this province.

Just as working people in this province were inclined, in anger, to vote against something in the last election, and some may even be inclined today, in anger, to vote against something, to respond to the politics of the promotion of resentment, they should remember the bill that was introduced this morning by my friend the Progressive Conservative member for Lincoln, who brought in a piece of labour legislation that would bring us back to the 1930s as opposed to bringing us into the 1990s. Fortunately there were enough moderate Conservatives in the House to vote with the opposition against it so that the bill was defeated.

People out there should know that these right-wing parties bring a message that resonates well, because it makes you mad at the system and makes you mad at the government. But behind that apparent agenda is a hidden agenda, and you can't buy half of the package; you've got to buy the whole package.

Just as some people were enamoured of some of the points brought forward by Conservative members in the last election, I wonder how many of the workers who voted for you, the government, were aware that you were going to bring in legislation which would be so detrimental to those who are unfortunate enough to be hurt in the workplace. I wonder if they were aware of many of the other measures that have been brought forward that certainly would not normally be supported by working people in this province.

The same is true of seniors. They look at some of the 1950s solutions that people are putting forward today, "Let's get back to the good old days when...." One has to ask, what will happen to those seniors? Yes, nobody likes crime, so we're mad about crime. Yes, we're annoyed with the continuous constitutional debate, so shouldn't we vote against something because of that? Well, you have to look at the whole package. "You can vote in anger if you want to," Premier Klein of Alberta said when he was endorsing the Progressive Conservative leader in Ottawa, "or you can vote for something."

One would hope that when people make the choice they won't, as they did in the last provincial election, vote in anger against something but rather will vote in favour of something, and that this time they will look at the whole package, the full package before they buy what's there.

Nowadays you put the leader in the denim shirt with the open collar and it's "just folks" talk that the leader comes up with, but behind that is often a person whose agenda is to advance the cause of the wealthiest and most powerful people in our society as opposed to ordinary people. That's why I think it's important.

This bill is instructive. This motion is instructive this afternoon to people in our province who are easily attracted to some of the negatives, to some of the hot-button issues that are out there now. Keep in mind what happened provincially. How many people thought that my friend the Minister of Municipal Affairs would bring in an end to rent control? I always like reading literature and I read some of his literature and that of some of the other Conservative members in Toronto. I didn't think they were going to end rent control, but lo and behold, I see a bill brought forward which ends rent control in this province as soon as somebody moves out of accommodation.

The seniors must be beside themselves, because a lot of seniors last time were attracted to the Conservative government, just as they're attracted today to the right-wing party that's busy out there with the hot-button issues. They're attracted to it, but you have to look beyond that. What's behind that? What more is coming? Now senior citizens, if they move out of their apartment to another apartment, are going to be subjected to potentially huge increases in rent, and on fixed incomes they'll be unable to meet that.

Some students might have been attracted to voting for something negative in frustration, but the students are going to find out when they move from place to place that rent control is going to be out of place and their costs are going to be substantially greater, on top of the costs being imposed by this government in terms of higher tuition fees and other costs that have to be incurred by students.

Vulnerable people, disabled people who require housing, who often require rental housing and want to be protected against huge and unfair increases in rent, are going to find that as a result of the rent control legislation it's going to happen.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Oh, sure.

Mr Bradley: The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing protests, but I must say to him this is a time allocation motion. It's the widest and broadest of debates, with a time allocation motion, because we have to put everything in context. This is not debating the bill itself, because the bill will be debated in committee, if anywhere, and for one day in third reading. The debate is cut off on that, so we have to go to a time allocation motion.

I ask members of the government and I ask our senior citizens out there, did they think that perhaps this government was going to impose user fees for seniors in this province who need prescription medicine? Then after nine months they charged them for 12 months, and a lot of those seniors are very annoyed. But in the last election maybe they liked some of the things they heard from this government, just as today they like hearing, "It's time we got even with Quebec," or "It's time we started to deal with young offenders," or something of that nature.

Everybody, I'm sure, is frustrated with the continuous constitutional issue. Everybody is frustrated and opposed to crime and is trying to deal with crime in an appropriate way. There's a pretty good consensus on that. But when you fall for that, you've got to remember, what about the old-age pension? What about health care? What about a two-tiered health care system when you turn over to the provinces the right to set up a two-tiered health care system, or the Americanization of the system? What about other social programs and services that are available from government? You can't cut everything. You can't have these huge cuts, further cuts, I might add, in government expenditures and not have it affect people. Who needs the services of government most? Senior citizens and people on fixed incomes and people in vulnerable circumstances, such as people who are unfortunate enough to be hurt in the workplace. Let's be warned of that. Let's be careful of that. Let's look carefully before we jump.

I don't think anybody was hurt on the cleanup of the Royal Canadian Henley rowing course. I'm sure they weren't hurt, nobody was hurt in that regard, but the potential is always there because there's work going on. But I was shocked and surprised, as I know members of the government would be, when I read a Progressive Conservative Party press release out of Ottawa that said, "Boat clubs are important; jobs aren't." It made fun of the fact that the Prime Minister of Canada was in St Catharines recalling for the people there that the federal government had contributed over $2 million to the environmental -- you will like this, Madam Speaker -- cleanup of Martindale Pond, which is the site of the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and the dredging, so that we in St Catharines and we in Ontario could host the 1999 World Rowing Championships, and here's the Conservative Party making fun of this.


Here's the other shoe to drop: This government actually matched the initial funding. So the Progressive Conservative Party is being critical not only of the Prime Minister and the local Liberal candidate, Walt Lastewka, who fought for and obtained these funds for the cleanup of the Martindale Pond and the restoration of the Henley rowing course, but also of this government. Can you imagine that, that they would be critical of this government? I was praising the government. I don't always do that, because they make some mistakes.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Like with the WCB.

Mr Bradley: Exactly. But when they announced that they were going to provide funding, an investment, as I say, in the dredging of the Royal Canadian Henley rowing course, provide a fish habitat for fish and for the people to enjoy the fish, and to scour the bottom and take out some of those contaminants, and to produce jobs while doing it, I was there to applaud, I was there to be supportive, I was urging that it happen. That's why I'm surprised that in the middle of an election campaign the Progressive Conservative Party would oppose that.

I know there could be people potentially injured on the job, and that's how it fits in with this whole matter that we're dealing with this afternoon. I don't think that'll happen because the companies involved are working very carefully. But if anyone were injured on the job, they're going to find that under the provisions of Bill 99 they're going to be much worse off than they might have been otherwise.

I want to look also at why this government would be going through this process and other processes. You know, they complain -- I was listening the other day. The Minister of Health, who is a former assistant to a cabinet minister in the Brian Mulroney government, always likes to point his finger at the federal government, even though Mike Harris on many occasions in this House said you shouldn't do this. He used to criticize Bob Rae if Bob Rae did that and said they were whining. What is it, then, when the minister whines? Is that a different kind of whining?

You see, what happens now is that provinces get block funding, that is, they get billions of dollars, in the case of Ontario, for the purpose of whatever they want. It used to be designated for education, it used to be designated for health; nowadays it's block funding --

Ms Lankin: Billions less.

Mr Bradley: Billions of dollars for block funding. What do these people do with that? And I know the member for Beaches-Woodbine would agree with me. Instead of taking the money and applying it to health care, as I know she would when she was Minister of Health, she would apply it to health care, these people take that funding from the federal transfer payments and they give it away in a tax break that benefits the richest people in our society the most. In other words, if you're making $500,000 a year, you're going get a bigger income tax cut than if you were making $40,000 or $30,000 a year.

I become a little perturbed when I hear them complaining, particularly when I remember how they criticized Bob Rae. Bob Rae was in a difficult time. It was a recession in those days and he didn't have the kind of revenues that these people are able to have coming in.

Ms Lankin: Brian Mulroney was cutting funding.

Mr Bradley: And Brian Mulroney, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine reminds me, with Jean Charest in his cabinet, was cutting the funding. He initiated the funding cuts and now they seem to be complaining about it. They want to rush some money back into it. All they had to do -- I know the NDP didn't want to do this, but under the social contract provision there were some difficulties. I know they didn't want to do it.

Ms Lankin: I get to speak today, remember.

Mr Bradley: The member gets to speak, and I agree with her that those were difficult times. I'll tell you, on many public occasions I have defended the circumstances under which the government of the day reigned.

I want to quote Premier Harris, then the Conservative leader, when he talks about the government of the day complaining about other levels of government. Premier Harris on May 11, 1994, in this House said:

"We suggest that the Premier and the Legislature should turn their energies to fix that which is broken here in the province of Ontario. I tell you this: If the Premier spent as much time working towards making Ontario great again as he spends at pointing fingers and running down other levels of government, then Ontario would be great again."

Wonderful advice for the government to follow, because they were prepared to give that advice to another Premier of this province in a previous government. Gary Carr, another member, now in purgatory, made some references, but the Premier says this, again on May 11:

"All we've heard from the government is whining that we need more money from a bankrupt federal government. I believe that it is time for us to stop whining. It is time for us to fix that which is broken right here in our own province. It's time for us to take back our own destiny again, get our own affairs in order again."

I agree with the Premier. You see, I'm not always negative. I'm in opposition but I'm not always negative. I agreed with what the Premier had to say and that this government --


Mr Bradley: The members I hear over there whining shouldn't whine. Mike Harris is right when he says his own government shouldn't whine at the federal government when it has full control over the funds that come from the federal government, block funding. They can spend it any way they want and they've chosen to give it away in a tax break instead.

I want to share with members of this House my prediction that this government, ever impatient with the democratic process, and particularly the right-wing zealots in the government -- I won't say who I was looking at coming down the aisle. The right-wing zealots in the government are eager to slam shut the door on debate as often as they can, so I'm predicting they're going to bring in drastic and draconian rule changes which will make the previous changes made by another person in another government look like moderate changes. That will not be good for democracy.

The member for Beaches-Woodbine and I were in a meeting with the government House leader this morning and both of us said it is totally unacceptable that six days of hearings would be allowed on this mammoth and major piece of legislation. If you want to have appropriate input you've got to go to many centres in Ontario. You've got to hear from the workers and the employers and anybody else who has an interest in this legislation, because we don't think the legislation as written is appropriate and going to be beneficial to workers in this province. I encourage the government to provide more time. I encourage the government to abandon this particular motion to allow further debate in this House, but as important, to allow far more time for consideration of the views of the public.

Again, the member for Beaches-Woodbine was well prepared this morning at the House leaders' meeting. She said when the Liberal government was in power and brought in changes to the Workers' Compensation Act, they provided several weeks, I think, of hearings and consideration. She said that and the government was caught, obviously, without this information. She was appropriately saying that the same kind of consideration should be given now that we have this kind of bill before us; that as the David Peterson Liberal government was generous in the amount of time that it provided, it was up to the government today --

Ms Lankin: I also talked to you about Bill 40.

Mr Bradley: And as she points out, the amount of time there was for consultation with Bill 40 by the NDP government.

And so -- I think I'm going to lose my voice --


Mr Bradley: I noticed a round of applause began as I said I might lose my voice this afternoon.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): But your backup is right here.

Mr Bradley: But my backup from Windsor-Sandwich is all set to go, I'm told, although she's going to talk to the member for Cochrane South for a moment to see whether there is a reasonable arrangement in speaking.

I think what the government is doing this afternoon is unnecessary. It's not in the interests of the workers in this province. It's not in the interests of the democratic process. I'm sure in their heart of hearts there must be members on the government benches who disagree with the decision of the advisers to the Premier.

I was watching a program on TVO, I think it was last night, where they were talking about advisers to Premiers. They really demonstrated, they really showed who advises the Premier in this case and who has all the power. I think Guy Giorno would speak to the Premier and Tom Long many more times than virtually any member of the government caucus. That's unfortunate. You should tell Guy to find himself a riding. Of course, then he would lose power, because he'd be an elected member and they'd find a new adviser who had been down to the United States to talk to the Republican Party to determine what is good for Mississippi, Alabama and all those so-called progressive states in the United States.

I'm going to disappoint members of the House by cutting short my remarks this afternoon, as I have agreed that some other members should have the opportunity to provide their views to members of the House. I'll be listening with a good deal of interest and anticipation to those who will be speaking subsequent to my remarks.

Mr Bisson: Unfortunately, because of this closure motion the government is bringing forward, we have left for our caucus an hour and eight minutes to debate at second reading what is going to be one of the most fundamental changes to the workers' compensation system in many years. Let me, in the 10 or 15 minutes I have, try to go through quickly the issues that are most important to my constituency. I'll leave some of the other issues for the rest of my caucus members.

I come from a riding where there are many miners who have been diseased because of exposure underground. One of the issues we have been very involved with in my riding is trying to make sure that those workers who have been diseased from working underground -- people who have gotten silicosis, lung cancer, cancers of the trachea and the stomach and other areas -- are fairly treated by the Workers' Compensation Board and that their particular disease, the catastrophic event they have to live with, is recognized by the Workers' Compensation Board and they get some form of compensation.

In many cases these people die. We're talking about people's lives, and making sure the Workers' Compensation Board adequately recognizes that the death was caused as a result of exposure underground. We've managed, over the last number of years in our community, through work done by the Steelworkers, myself and the victims of the mining environment -- I'm talking of widows of people who have died because of working underground -- to get the Workers' Compensation Board to recognize that the disease was as a result of their exposure working underground.

How did we do that? We did that two ways. One of them was that we stacked the bodies up before the board. I was a member of a project team that for a number of years walked through the cemeteries of the cities of Timmins, Kirkland Lake and Whitney, picked up the names off the tombstones and then matched them to a database we had created of people we suspected had some sort of lung impairment from working underground. Nine times out of 10 when we got a match and were able to find people, we were able to prove, in most cases, that the death was a result of what had happened to them underground.

What we did with that information was not only to put it before the Workers' Compensation Board, but we were able to get it recognized as an industrial disease. Today if you look in the Workers' Compensation Act, in the policy manual is something that's called the gold miners' policy. That's as a result of people in my community -- like the Steelworkers, the victims of the mining environment, the widows themselves, some of the survivors and myself -- who worked very hard to get the board to recognize that.

How did we do it? We did it by going before the board and making the case, and ultimately going to what we call, in the jargon of workers' compensation, WCAT. We went before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Why? Because the board did not recognize that these diseases were as a result of working underground. The board allowed us to go there, to present all the information we had, present all the stats we had; we piled up the bodies and in the end the board said, "There is a relationship." Because of that, literally hundreds of widows in my area got compensation as a result of their husbands having died from working underground.

This government is going to close the door to other hundreds and thousands of victims of working in industry across this province. Why? Because they have an ideological belief that workers don't have the right, if the policy manual doesn't say it, to a fair hearing from the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal.

You're shutting the door. I say to you, shame. I say to a government that does that, you are a callous bunch for not giving workers adequate recourse for what is a very tragic condition underground. What you're doing in this act, among a number of things, is closing the door to WCAT. You're saying that in the future the only thing WCAT, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, can deal with is what is in the policy, and if it ain't in the policy, it doesn't exist.

I'll tell you, we have cemeteries full of people who died and we got justice for them because we were able to get to WCAT and prove what happened to these miners. You're closing the door. In the name of the victims and in the name of the widows and the families, I say to this Conservative-Reform government, shame on you.

The second piece of this tragedy is what you're doing to the Occupational Disease Panel. We have had in this province, luckily, some of the best minds come together at the ODP, who looked at all these issues of what happens when people in the workplace are exposed to various chemicals, not only in mining, but in all kinds of industries.

It has been recognized that Ontario is the leader when it comes to this field. Why? Because we within the NDP, the labour movement and, yes, the former Conservative and Liberal and Bob Rae governments allowed the ODP to evolve to where it's at right now, so that when workers come forward and say, "There seems to be a relationship between this disease the worker got and where the worker worked; there seems to be some sort of correlation," the Occupational Disease Panel then had the ability, because of the legislation, to say, "Let's investigate this, if there seems to be some cause."

The ODP went out and hired the best scientists, did the reports that needed to be done and eventually gave a recommendation to the Workers' Compensation Board. Then they recognized that as part of the devolving development of policy when it comes to how we deal with diseases underground.

What are they doing? They're shutting that door. They're saying that at the end of all this the ODP won't exist. I say to you, shame. I say to the members across the way, you have a lot of gall, by effectively shutting down WCAT, to close the door for people when the policy doesn't fit the injury or the disease. You're shutting the door by shutting off the ODP, in the name of following some ideological principle that somehow these things don't exist, and if they do it's the worker's fault and they shouldn't be compensated.

You are dead wrong on this one, and I'll tell you, you will be gone as a government. I will do everything in my power as a New Democratic member, when we are re-elected as a government, to come back and revisit these issues so that we're able to make the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal work as it was: an avenue for workers when the policy doesn't exist, so they can get justice.


Mr Bisson: Don't you start heckling me, sir. This is a serious issue and you have a lot of gall. At this point, I'd be sitting on the other side of the House with my head down, not sitting there with some flippant comment as if this doesn't exist. These are people we're talking about. These are people who have died because of having worked in industry, people who have been compensated because of what happened to them in the industry. You're closing the door on them. Shame on you.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Shame on you. Leave the politics out of it.


Mr Bisson: "Leave the politics out of it," sir? Give me a break. What do you think you guys are doing?

I say to this government, if they have any civility, that when we're going through this process of committee, we should at least revisit the issue of WCAT and the issue of ODP, with an aim of making sure that workers have justice. It is not only the workers in the city of Timmins or the town of Kirkland Lake and the mining communities of Sudbury or Elliot Lake who are affected by this; there are workers in your community. There are workers in all kinds of industries, from paint factories to chemical factories, to firemen and a number of other different professions, who come into contact with chemicals, who in the end, with that toxic cocktail as they call it within industry, end up either diseased or dying because of that particular exposure. I say to you: Shame. You are not going in the right direction; you're going directly the wrong way.

I want to say one other thing in the few minutes I have. Really interesting was a letter that came across my desk after the election in June 1995. By about the beginning of July, I got a copy of a letter that was sent to the now Minister of Northern Development and Mines from the Ontario Mining Association, signed by Pat Reid, the spokesperson for that organization. I don't have the letter with me now, but it basically said: "Here, Mike Harris, our government, our friends, to whom we gave lots of money in our fund-raising to get you guys elected, is what we want to have happen when it comes to the issue of WCB. We have elected our government and now we want you guys to pay up."

What did they ask for? They wanted the Occupational Disease Panel gone. Is it a coincidence that it's gone? They wanted WCAT shut off. WCAT is being shut off. Is that a coincidence? No. This is yet another example of where this government is saying exactly where they're coming from, and that is, "This Mike Harris-Reform government supports only the interests of big business." They have no concern whatsoever when it comes to the small business entrepreneur or the workers of this province, who are the backbone of this economy. You listened to only one group of people, and for that I say you are wrong and I say shame.

The other point I have to make is that we are only going to have a mere 10 days total for committee hearings on this bill, four days while we are in session and six days when we're out on the road some time in July. That is the mere amount of time this government is giving workers in this province and victims of the mining environment to have their say. If you have any respect for the democratic process, on this bill you have to give adequate time so that people can have their say, because one of the things that is quickly becoming apparent is that this government is not listening to the people of Ontario and is acting in a dictatorial manner.

I will make sure that I go back to my community and other people I deal with across the province when it comes to this issue to make sure they use what little time we have to stack up the bodies before the legislative committee, to understand what it is you guys are doing.

I want the government to reconsider those two components I have raised. There are other issues I wish you could reconsider, but unfortunately there is not enough time in this debate, because this government is using a closure motion. I'll leave it to members of my caucus to raise those other issues.

I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity of having spoken, and I say to this government, reconsider what you've done.

Mrs Pupatello: I'm very pleased to speak to this motion, which is a time allocation motion on Bill 99. I always find time allocation motions interesting, because they are the government's way of limiting debate on things that are of great interest to Ontario residents, in particular today.

The members opposite were wondering what kind of pamphlet I was leafing through. Given that we are trying to restrict debate, I have decided that my time debating time allocation motions is better spent asking the government why you would have us restrict debate on issues that are very significant.

I'd like to review the post-Martin printing of the Common Sense Revolution, because we're talking about a promise regarding WCB reform that the government made during the election campaign. What else did they promise to do and what in fact have they been doing? I thought we would start and quickly run through the campaign document of a Reform, right-wing government. We've seen the proliferation of the right, of late in particular, through the PCs, the Conservatives, the Reformers, and I would like the people at home to understand that when we're discussing a right-wing government, regardless of what level of government or parties you find them in, you'll now see the real face of the right wing. They want to assuage you with appropriate words and make you feel very comfortable, but the reality of a right-wing government is a very dangerous thing.

I want to specifically mention to the people at home that the thing I find most offensive is Mike Harris saying he's doing the things he said he was going to do. As a matter of fact, as we leaf through their very document, we see that is not the case. This document was printed after the Paul Martin federal budget had been delivered, and they decided that they would publish their revised projections. They looked at the promises they had made in their document and said, "These are the promises we stand on" -- after the Paul Martin budget.

As we all know, the federal government moved all their transfer payments into one block, gave that block transfer to the provinces and the provinces were to decide where they would choose to make cuts. All the members opposite were thrilled at the budget control that was expressed by the federal Liberals over the last term of their government. Everyone was thrilled. As a matter of fact, the Premier said, "Oh, the feds haven't cut nearly enough." But the federal Liberals' Paul Martin, in his budget, took that grant that he sends to every one of the 10 provinces, blocked it, said, "Here is your grant," and didn't specify what the provinces were to do. It was up to the provinces themselves to decide what their priorities would be and where they would choose to cut.

We in Ontario have lived with the decisions of the Mike Harris government on where they have chosen to cut. Pure and simple, they have cut health care. Pure and simple, they have cut education. That is a direct result of the right-wing, Reform government here in Ontario, and I caution everyone at home to use very sound, prudent judgement when reviewing the agenda of a right-wing party. In fact, what they say is not what they mean, nor is it what they do.

We in Windsor and Essex county live with the realities of the cuts of the Mike Harris government. The emergency services on the west side of Windsor are gone, and in their place we have posters across windows, having to be printed in seven different languages to meet all the various ethnic communities that emergency service catered to. Instead, you can find in Arabic, French, Italian, Vietnamese, all of those languages, a poster that says, "Go find your services elsewhere." That's what they said. That is the true face of the right-wing party that is in government here in Ontario. Make no mistake, that is a direct result of Mike Harris's cuts to hospitals across the board.

What we see here starts with this great new plan of creating 725,000 jobs. We are getting to the mid-term of the Mike Harris government. We've had two years of Mike Harris in Ontario. We are nowhere near the job creation projections they set in their document. As a matter of fact, today we have fewer people employed in Ontario than we had under a Liberal government. That is a fact. We have more people in Ontario and the government has not responded to that. We simply aren't anywhere near that promise.

They also promised that they would cut the provincial income tax rate by 30%. That was a promise. During the campaign the candidates would condense that promise into, "We're going to cut your income tax by 30%." That's exactly what they would do, and it would leave the impression with the public that if they paid $10,000 annually in taxes, suddenly they were going to pay only $6,000-and-some in taxes; and nobody would change their idea, because the reality is always in the fine print, especially with a right-wing government, a right-wing party that wants to throw out the simple line. The result is that the 30% promise is to the tax rate, which is only applicable to the provincial portion of the total taxes you pay. It's a rate cut, not a cut in the overall taxes you pay. So the people, quite frankly, were really fooled into believing there would be some huge kind of cut.

I mentioned this morning that if we look at how much we personally saved in the tax cut, with the coffee prices that have been going up through the roof over the last six months, the increase that we pay in buying a coffee has now used up the tax break that you gave us. I just want to thank you for spurring the economy, folks. It really hasn't had the impact that anyone believed it would have, and everyone has said, "I don't know where my tax cut is, because so far they promised they were going to deliver half of it" -- half of what was unclear -- "in one year."


Ernie Eves begged the Premier: "Don't do it. Don't do it, because we can't afford it." Well, over two years now, they've decided -- they're going to lengthen that promise. We know the effect now of that tax cut. It has significantly reduced the revenue to the province of Ontario. Yesterday, Standard and Poor's made their report on the credit rating for Ontario. What have they given Mike Harris as a credit rating? AA-. That is what Bob Rae had in his years as Premier of Ontario. Now we can equate the fiscal control of Ontario: Mike Harris equals Bob Rae. We'll let the people decide on that.

We have to acknowledge as well that in those years we were certainly facing very different economic times.

Ms Lankin: Thank you.

Mrs Pupatello: You're welcome. The reality is that it should be easier for Mike Harris, because we're supposed to be in an economic boom. Well, if we're in an economic boom, why did Standard and Poor's leave the credit rating at a mere AA- You should be boosting that. We know the effect that a rating like that has. It has a very significant effect on the interest rates that you pay on the loans the government has out.

This document went on to promise reducing non-priority government spending by 20%. I think we should look at the Ministry of Environment as the example. Fully half of the Ministry of Environment is gone.

What does that mean to a community like Windsor? We didn't have a large environment office. The office is gone. One of the best employees in Ontario, Jim Drummond, who worked for years as a member of the civil service, is gone. He was very well relied on, not just by citizens but by the private sector. He came in and did consultations; he was well used. People had a great respect for his opinion and he was there specifically to protect the environment. The rumours now are that at some time, if it hasn't already started, they will not even be able to take any complaints over the telephone, that they won't even have an intake of complaints by citizens because they can't do anything with them anyway.

I feel very bad for the personnel there who are left to work with that, because they know they should be doing major investigations in a number of areas, but half of the ministry is gone. Apparently this government considers it non-priority. But even if that were the case, what they promised were 20% cuts. They broke that promise and went far beyond that.

The plan guarantees full funding for health care. The Conservative Party does its own polling on what people think of this government's handling of health care, and your own polling tells you that nobody believes that. If I stand here today and say, "We don't believe you've maintained health funding appropriately," you won't believe it, but you're going to believe your own focus groups, because that's exactly what they told you. They don't trust you with health care, nor should they trust any right-wing government or party that purports to protect health care. We saw the Alberta model and Ralph Klein. Where did he fail? Health care. Where are we failing in Ontario? Health care, pure and simple.

They said that they were going to subject this plan to an independent analysis by one of Canada's economic experts. We know that once this government was elected, we went back and saw that there weren't really very many economists who even believed that tax cuts would create the kind of economic stimulus to get people spending their money, and in fact to date it has not happened.

The difficulty we have with such massive layoffs across the government sector is that when you look at a province like Ontario, Ottawa happens to be in Ontario as well, so we have a greater percentage of civil servants working in our province than in any other province. Fully 25% of the workforce in Ontario belongs to the public sector. When the public sector is under siege like this, these people are not going to run out and buy their new car or invest in a new home, a larger home. These were all promises that Mike Harris gave us. He said, "With that tax cut, they're going to run out and buy new fridges and stoves." Well, that is not the case. When 25% of the workforce feel they are under siege, when they are looking around the corner and behind their back to see if they are next, these are not the people who are going to boost consumer spending. There isn't that kind of confidence in the market.

They talked about eliminating red tape and reducing the regulatory burden. All we can say about that promise is that "red tape" is synonymous with -- required controls in the environment is a perfect example. We travelled with some of the bills that were supposedly these red-tape bills. You've eliminated basic environmental controls, which gives us today some significant worries in very basic areas like water and water quality, basic areas like whether or not a rock quarry can be expanded, and you purport to just hand over all of these regulatory controls to the industry itself. Most of the people in industry are not the bad apples; they are very caring companies. But we are always concerned about the bad apples, and your supposed cutting of red tape goes nowhere towards stopping the bad apples from getting away with damaging the environment.

Another promise that was made was freezing Ontario Hydro rates for the next five years. What that means to most people is that when you look at your bill, your bill will not change for the next five years. That's what it means to me; that's how it is interpreted. In fact, that's what it means.

When the Minister of Environment and Energy brought that into the House in his statement, all of a sudden that became freezing the average rate over the next five years. Most people who aren't involved with Ontario Hydro aren't going to understand the difference, but the difference is significant. What it means is, your hydro rates are going to change over the next five years. That is again another broken promise.

They also said they were going to cut the size of government, provide the people of Ontario with better for less. They say: "Performance standards will be set.... The best people, in or out of the public service, will be hired to provide those services."

Let me just give you a couple of examples of what a broken promise this is. If there is one document that is prepared by the province of Ontario that should be as close to perfection as possible, I would say that is the Ontario budget. There was such a scramble to get that thing ready at the last minute -- and there were significant changes at the last moment. You really wondered who was in charge.

The effect in the end was that they decided to contract out the French translation of that budget, and when they did that, they made such significant errors in the French translation of the Ontario budget, the one that was just presented, that they actually used different names and different numbers and the budget papers were inaccurate. Again, the public is pretty sympathetic about errors now and then, but the Ontario budget is the one document that should be the closest to perfection.

Frankly, I'm surprised that Ernie Eves, the Minister of Finance, would have allowed that kind of thing to happen. We wondered why that happened. They did not go to the people within their ministry, within the translation services who are used to doing budget documents, which is a very, very specific and highly skilled area of translation. No, no. They just farmed that out, and look at the consequences. Did that cost the taxpayer any more money? Was the Minister of Finance going to allow inaccurate numbers?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): No, never.

Mrs Pupatello: No, they weren't. The Management Board chair even acknowledges that. So what did they do? They reprinted the whole lot. They reprinted thousands of those budget documents in French at a significant cost, thousands, to the taxpayer. Another broken promise.

Let me give another example that the public really should be aware of when it comes to privatization and doing better for less. This government has decided to privatize the enumeration of people who will be voting in the municipal election. So what all of us received at home not too long ago was that form you've got to fill out and give quite a bit of personal information on. Then you fold it all up and you pop it in the envelope and it says it's going to the Ministry of Finance.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): Who is it really going to?

Mrs Pupatello: The member for Essex South asks who it's really going to. As a matter of fact, it's not going to the Ministry of Finance at all, because at the bottom of that envelope is a bar code, and that bar code diverts that envelope --

Interjection: I wonder where.

Mrs Pupatello: You wonder where? I'll bet Mr Hudak doesn't know where it's going. It's going to the American Express company here in Canada, privatized. A private company, American Express, now has all the private data of all the residents who are registering to vote.

I don't know if I should feel comfortable with that. One of the largest marketing companies the world over has been given a contract to handle our voting information. How should we feel about this? I had a call from a constituent, and his question was interesting. He said, "I just want to know, if I don't fill out the form, will I still be allowed to vote?"

If you read through all of the verbiage that was poured out through that ministry on what happens if you don't fill out a form, all it says is that they'll keep sending you another form. They never really answered the question. If you don't send your private voting information to American Express, we don't know if you will or will not be allowed to vote, which I believe is a democratic right.

More broken promises of the campaign. It talks about there being only one taxpayer, and what I find most interesting and ironic about it is that Mike Harris always set himself up to be the big Taxfighter. He was supposed to be the guy who was going to protect our taxes. He said specifically, "We will work closely with municipalities to ensure that any actions we take will not result in increases to local property taxes."

I don't know how many of us in this room believe that our property taxes are not going to go up now, because we have just experienced the greatest dump of services from Ontario on to every city and town in Ontario. Cities and towns will only have a couple of choices: They are going to eliminate the service altogether or, depending on what it is, they're going to say, "Hey, we've got to provide this." Then they've got to find a way to provide the service and of course pay for it. But you're saying they're not supposed to have an increased property tax.

Let's look at it. They went through mountains of work, and they ended up dumping billions of dollars on to cities and towns. One that is particularly harmful, in my view, for the urban centres is the social housing. Instead of saying in their document that they were going to fix the area of social housing, they decided to just dump it. May I tell you again it's a perfect example of what the words say when you're dealing with a right-wing, Conservative-Reform party. That may be what they say, but that in fact is not what they do. Any opportunity at all the public has to view parties and the selection of who they're going to vote for, I encourage you to use Mike Harris as the example: right-wing, Reform. They say one thing and they do another.

They have another area they talked about, law enforcement. I think it's particularly timely in terms of what Mr Runciman, the Solicitor General, said today. He talked about being tough on crime. I'd like to tell you that in the history of Ontario so far, as ironic as it sounds, we have never seen a government more soft on crime than the right-wing, Conservative-Reform government we have in Ontario today. I'll give you very specific examples.

They are now talking about, instead of not cutting, which is what they say specifically -- this is the promise: "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." We know that both the Solicitor General's ministry and the Attorney General's ministry have been cut. We've experienced that in Windsor; the family support plan office in Windsor closed altogether. "Law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed." Of course, we know that's a broken promise.

What we got instead is the discussion now that we want the criminals to just get up and apologize to the victims. They're just going to have to apologize to them and see if they can get any restitution. If the criminals can afford to pay for what they broke or what they stole, that's good enough. I'll tell you what's driving this government to do that. They can't afford, won't afford, have cut funding to the justice system to move these people through the courts so they'll do their due time. Right-wing, Reform, supposedly tough on crime, so far the softest on crime in the history of Ontario.

This government has just gone through all of this bluster about making the roads safe and they're really going to crack down, and the truck safety issue has been in the news. In my riding, Huron Line is the largest road; it runs right up the middle of my riding. We have had an issue with trucks on Huron Line. As a matter of fact, last year we were able to do a ribbon-cutting and we brought in warning lights at Huron Line and Cousineau Road. What we said was that we wanted to at least attempt to stop the trucks and other vehicles from running the reds so it would be safer for the residents who live along Cousineau Road.

We would start and see if we had an impact putting flashing lights on only one side of Huron Line. Then, if we saw there was going to be some impact, we wanted to put the flashing lights going the other way on Huron Line as well, because the best thing to do is ensure that the truckers and the vehicles see the lights change, because it's quite a long stretch.

Here's what I got back from the Ministry of Transportation: again, tough on law enforcement, tough on crime, wants to crack down on road safety. That is such a bunch of right-wing drivel, because the reality is, when push comes to shove and you want them to actually put the pedal to the metal and make it happen, they're like a bunch of wusses. They just aren't performing at all.

I asked the Minister of Transportation: "How could you deny flashing lights on Huron Line at Cousineau when you know there is a significant residential development in that area? How could you deny warning flashing lights at the intersection of Cousineau Road and Huron Line when you know there are school buses that cross that intersection on a regular basis?"

We have a total cost, including installation, of some $20,000 that could save lives. We have had deaths at that corner so far. Minister, you are aware of the deaths we've had so far. We sent you the pictures. The family of the son who passed away came to the ribbon-cutting on the one side. He is the gentleman who has been running petitions throughout Heritage Estates asking the ministry to come down hard, offer us more protection, and you had the gall on May 21 to write me a letter and say, "We're sorry, we think you've done enough." "I'm sorry. We appreciate your concern for safety and value the input of highway users."

What good is that going to do the people who live on Cousineau Road? I am not looking for sympathy; I am looking for another flashing light at Cousineau Road.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order. I'd just like to remind those speaking today that we are debating the resolution in the name of Mr Johnson. Please continue.

Mrs Pupatello: Thank you, Speaker. It's really a pleasure to get back to it, because if we look at the document again, there are just a legion of broken promises under the right-wing, Conservative-Reform government of Ontario. We made up a chart. This is called the Chart of Broken Promises.

The Acting Speaker: Order. I didn't want to see the prop; if you can just refer to it. We are debating the time allocation motion. We're not discussing that other you're holding up either.

Mrs Pupatello: We are speaking specifically about the broken promise of Bill 99 in WCB reform. In fact, today is a time allocation motion, the government's attempt to shut down debate on a significant move, a change that they said they were going to do with WCB during the election. They said they were going to cut 5% off the premiums to employers. They were getting the appearance of being really good to employers. "Oh, they're good for business." You know, "We're the business-minded gang."

When Mike Harris came to Windsor during the election -- well, he didn't really come to Windsor; he came to the curb of the airport. He didn't even hit the pavement of the driveway of the airport. He just stood on the curb, and the media had to come to him. When he came there, he didn't tell people in Windsor that when he was going to cut the premiums by 5% to businesses, he was going to find that money by cutting the benefits to the workers who are injured.

There's not a good employer in Windsor who believes that injured workers should bear the brunt of having to find savings in workers' comp. No one believes that workers go out and purposely injure themselves and that they should personally pay the price for a promise to help make business better.


Mike Harris was only standing on the curb, and again I say the right-wing leader of the day didn't come to Windsor. He only stood on the curb at the airport. As a matter of fact, the propellers hadn't even stopped. They didn't even shut down the airplane. He just jumped out, ran to the curb, said his little spiel about tax cuts, which we find today is all a broken promise, and he didn't tell the people that he was going to take workers away. He didn't say he was going to ruin their lifestyle by cutting benefits to injured workers.

He made a promise of 10% of casino profits to Windsor. We have nothing near 10% of profits to the casino in Windsor.

He also talked about referenda, which is another promise he made. He promised to listen to the people. He said he wanted more power to the people. We remember that whole referendum debate, don't we, gentlemen? Yes, we've been discussing that at committee, as a matter of fact. All I keep going back to is when the entire six municipalities in the Toronto area held an across-the-board referendum to determine whether they wanted to be a megacity, and on average the results came back 85% against a unified city, Mike Harris put his great big foot smack on top of that and said, "No, you're going to be a megacity anyway." That is the same Mike Harris, this right-wing leader, who promised to do one thing and in fact did another.

He talked about no new user fees. We remember that very well. As a matter of fact, he used to sing it. He didn't just say it, he used to sing, "No new user fees." I want to ask the people who were in the House today if they heard me read the letter from Marion McAuliffe. Marion McAuliffe only has one question for Mike Harris: "How many months in a year?" You've charged $100 in user fees for drug services through the Ontario drug benefit plan and that was supposed to be for a year. Well, seven months later she was charged another $100. She wants to know how many months in the year.

You can't promise one thing and do another. It's no wonder politicians have such a terrible reputation. You've got the public's head spinning around like that woman in the movie The Exorcist. They can't keep it straight.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): That was a terrible movie.

Mrs Pupatello: It was a terrible movie.

I just have a great deal of difficulty, because he said very clearly, "No new user fees." Well, we've been doing a count. How many new user fees so far in the count we've had? It's 1,008. We're only at midterm, so you can expect that number is going to go higher, but 1,008 is the level so far of new user fees, this in the face of the promise by Mike Harris, "Under this plan, there will be no new user fees."

Mr Marchese: Gee, Mike said that.

Mrs Pupatello: He said a whole bunch of stuff. To the agricultural community he said, "No cuts for agriculture." Honey, this is laughable, because moments later he cut $45 million out of their budget.

Then he said very specifically to seniors and the disabled, "Aid for seniors and the disabled will not be cut."

Mr Marchese: Ha.

Mrs Pupatello: That's all we can say: "Ha."

Particularly aging parents who have disabled adult children at home and who are trying to access the special services at home program know that pot of money is being spread over so many more families now. When you ask the Walters family in my riding if their hours have been cut, they say yes. That constitutes aid for the disabled, but they've been cut. The Walters family doesn't believe that Mike Harris -- this in fact is a broken promise. That's all we can say.

He said, "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." I find the whole area of education quite fascinating because, as a matter of fact, when he talked about education he said --

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I ask you if in your opinion the member is speaking to the topic at hand.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I've been listening very carefully to the member for Windsor-Sandwich and I've yet to hear those connections that will bring her within the resolution we're debating today.

Mrs Pupatello: Today we're talking about broken promises. Workers' comp reform, that's what the government promised the people of Ontario. Today we're debating a closure motion, time allocation, another broken promise by Mike Harris. He had in really big letters, "public involvement." That was on his document when he campaigned, "public involvement," so we've got to assume that the promise to do with workers' comp -- he'd also listen to public involvement. There is not an injured worker in Ontario who would have suggested that he go this route with the changes he's making to workers' comp. As a matter of fact, there is not an injured worker out there who would have said, "Cut me by 5%." The broken promise in the Common Sense Revolution is that they were going to take 5% off the premiums for employers; they didn't say they were going to take it from the workers.

There isn't a good employer out there who believes that employees should be suffering because this particular government can't manage their financial affairs like they said they could. If they could manage their financial affairs, frankly we wouldn't be in this mess. We have the largest debt ever. I thought you guys were fixing that up. If you were fixing it up, why is it going up?

Second, your famous phrase is to blame the feds. How can you blame the feds? They give you a whole block transfer and you decide to give a tax cut. We've got to be rational about how we're thinking here. We want things to flow when you're telling us something. You can't say one thing and then go and do another, but you've done that in a very significant way.

When we talk about workers' comp and workers' comp reform, we've got to think about injured workers and what's in it for them. We've got to think about the kind of retraining and schooling and education that's involved for injured workers, or frankly for anybody.

Here's a government that said education in the classroom wasn't going to be cut. Then they said, "All this money they're wasting in education is being wasted outside the classroom." I remember a young fellow, actually he was a young PC member in Windsor, and I asked him one simple question: "Do you need water or hydro, lights, to operate the classroom?" He said, "Why are you asking me such a silly question?" I said, "Because the formula the government is using to classify what is not considered classroom education funding is the cost to the school for lights." They're also not counting the cost of psychologists for children who need them. They're not including guidance counsellors or librarians, which have always been used by every classroom, at least the ones I went to, and the ones I visit now have not changed all that markedly. They're still there.

All we can say is that ministry after ministry, page after page, this government has broken its promise. What drives the broken promises is very simple: We have a right-wing, Conservative-Reform government in power. Here's a government that says one thing and does the other.

Here's a government that says they want to find some integrity in politicians. I say when you want to do that, you've got to start at the top. The leader himself has to show the way. The leader cannot be on record saying, "It is not my plan to close hospitals," and in the area of Metro Toronto alone we're facing 10 hospital closures. In fact, for the member for Kitchener to see St Mary's closing, that is nothing like what he campaigned on in the last election. The Conservative candidate in my riding was saying he'd never close emergency services on the west side. He knew they were desperately needed. He wasn't campaigning on that either. They're getting exactly the opposite of what the leader of the right-wing Conservative-Reform Party said they would get. That is the danger.

He said, "No cuts for northern development; no cuts to the north." My God, he introduced one of the largest taxes in the north ever: They're paying the whole shot for their licence fees. There's no acknowledgement of the extra costs and burdens of being in the north, even for economic development.

We talk about leadership. He said himself in a news release: "Leadership by example. Savings will start at the top." Well, they didn't just start at the top, they were reversed at the top, because now that the Premier has spent some $700,000 for new digs at the Premier's office, they keep giving the excuse, "That's actually going to save us money because we're moving all these new offices in." No. What we got for $700,000 -- we saw the breakdown -- we have new carpeting. You've spent some $70,000 on curtains and wood finishing. I think that's all very nice, but you cannot do that in the face of WCB reform and Bill 99, which has a dramatic impact on those who cannot afford it.

I would submit that the Premier didn't have to have new carpet at time like this. You're the Taxfighter. You're the guy who said you weren't going to do that kind of thing. You wonder why politicians have such a terrible, terrible reputation.

One of the most startling -- nowhere in the document that this government campaigned on did they talk about eliminating rent control. This government is now embarking on eliminating rent control, a completely opposite direction to what they campaigned on.


I would feel that all of those in the urban ridings in particular, where we are looking for the kind of protection those who live in rental units always had, looking for rent control -- in fact it was Bill Davis, the true Conservative, who introduced them in the first place. Now we have a mock-Conservative government, which is in fact a Reform government, eliminating rent controls. I've got some significant problems with that. That is a complete reversal. It is a completely broken promise.

I thought that at the end of all of that we would talk again about the broken promise of the day. Today the broken promise is that you wouldn't introduce a user fee for drugs for seniors. But the right-wing government did exactly that.

The right-wing government did what they shouldn't have done to the seniors all over, which has them calling my office and saying, "How many months in a year?"

I say, "Twelve."

"If there are 12 months in a year, why was I charged $100, which was supposed to be an annual fee, and I've just received another bill for $100 before the year is up? Not just a little bit; it's shy by months." They're furious.

I look at this really sincere letter that I received on April 9 from Marion McAuliffe, very typical of the seniors' attitudes, not just here but in the riding of Windsor-Riverside. Right on Lesperance Road, I'm knocking on the door. We're anxiously awaiting the by-election there and I talk to Mr Manzone on Lesperance Road, and he said, "How many months in the year?" I was surprised. It's an issue right across the board.

If the government doesn't recognize that you cannot cheat people and think you can get away with it, you will pay the price. I would caution all of us who have an opportunity in the very near future to make a selection: Are you going to select the right-wing government that tells you one thing and does exactly the opposite? I suggest that you take a very close look at Mike Harris: a litany of broken promises that the public simply will not put up with. Thank you.

Ms Lankin: Speaker, on a point of order: Would you ascertain whether or not there is a quorum?

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

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

Mr Marchese: I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to this closure bill that effectively restricts the time we have to speak to a very important bill. They are restricting our ability to raise the issues, and I know why. They don't want the public to hear what the opposition has to say because if they do, it gives the public that's watching an opportunity to realize that what they are presenting here today through Bill 99 -- mind you, it's a closure motion -- has nothing to do with respecting injured workers or helping them out.

What's happening to workers generally across Canada -- to the employed, the unemployed and the injured workers -- is tragic. We have M. Chrétien, the Prime Minister at the federal level, who's cutting more ferociously and effectively than the former Prime Minister, Mulroney, the man everybody loves to hate. Prime Minister Chrétien comes and he cuts so very effectively but he does it with a smile. He says: "We're not like the Tories in Ontario. We're good guys." But he cuts his deficit. Let me rephrase that: 40% of his deficit reduction is due to the cuts made to the unemployed; 40% of all the cuts is due to hurting the unemployed. It's a phenomenal figure. It means that much of what we see by way of a reduction of that deficit is happening at the expense of those who have no work, and Chrétien smiles as he does that and says, "We're better than the Conservative Party in Ontario." How could he justify that? The rest of the strangulation on the deficit has to do with cutting $7 billion or $8 billion of transfer payments to Ontario. That's how he achieves much of his deficit reduction.

I point this out to say, with all due respect to the Liberals who spoke here earlier, that it's not just the Tories here in Ontario who are Reform-minded; the Liberals at the federal level are to the same measure, if not worse. Then I come back to Mme Witmer. Do you recall May 1 when I spoke in this regard? I talked about the mellifluous voice of Mme Witmer as she speaks to Bill 99. She did it again today. It's a steady voice, it's soft, it's comforting and it leaves those who are about to be inflicted with a great deal of pain feeling that somehow they should feel good about it because there's something in it for them. She did it again today. I heard her. I took four pages of notes as she spoke. She did it with that wonderful, antiseptic calm of hers that troubles me, usually, and it should trouble the people watching.

Again, I direct my comments to the public, not to the members opposite, because these are the people who need to know the agenda of this government. Mme Witmer today spoke for approximately 15 minutes or so, possibly 20, because I've got four pages of notes, and she said nothing. She essentially said nothing. I'm not sure it was instructive to anybody listening, and the reason it wouldn't be instructive is because she had nothing to say.

The first page of notes talks about the fact that reform started since 1984, then there was Bill 15 and continued reform. In 1995 they consulted with stakeholders. "Stakeholders" usually means their business friends. Then she said, "...we were determined to secure benefits for injured workers into the future," making you feel like injured workers have got a stake in this, that they're going to benefit from this somehow -- "we need to have financial stability." Then she said the focus has changed. It's no longer on compensation. The focus is now on prevention. So I was desperately waiting for this fine minister, whose mellow voice was pleasing the whole crowd at least here and everyone else watching, to say what she meant by "prevention" because we needed to know. Tories there on the back bench need to know as well, because I don't think they know. How could they know? We don't know because there is nothing in here that speaks to issues of prevention. I waited for her to continue with other remarks she made in the 15, 20 minutes and there was nothing on prevention. All she said was that we need to "complete the overhaul," almost making the word "overhaul" seem positive. But there is nothing in this overhaul that benefits injured workers.

You've got to look at the credibility of this government, but particularly this minister, because as I indicated, she has a way of making things seem credible. But if you look at the history of what you fine, honourable members have done, there's nothing honourable whatsoever at least with respect to workers, and injured workers in particular.

I want to enumerate a list of things you have done to show that you and your minister have no credibility on this issue whatsoever. You have gutted the office of the worker adviser, who was there to assist injured workers when the unions do not have the resources to be able to help injured workers. Those other 65% of workers who have no union have nowhere to go except someone like the office of the worker adviser, and you've gutted that office.


You then gutted training to health and safety in the province; you then made a 25% cut in the health and safety division. You have laid off workers from the Workers' Health and Safety Centre. You are eliminating chronic mental stress. You have killed the royal commission on the WCB. You've abolished the Occupational Disease Panel, that very credible, independent group of people who did work on occupational disease and had respect internationally from a lot of people.

The Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal is being restricted and limited in its ability to do its work. They are prescribing what the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal can and cannot do. Then la ministre, Mme Witmer, stands and says: "We're working on prevention. That's the focus of this government's agenda."

I just read a whole list to you to indicate that there is nothing here that deals with prevention. The list of things I mentioned hurt this government's desire to do prevention, because all of the things she has cut in effect are contrary to the stated purposes of this government. So you've got to wonder about what this government says versus what it's really doing.

Speaker, I am noticing that there appears to be no quorum in the House. Could you check for a quorum, please?

The Acting Speaker: Would you check for a quorum, please.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Other than talking about the fact that they need to do a serious overhaul, other than the fact that they talk about modernizing the act, other than the fact that they need reforms of the system -- they need to restructure five agencies, they say, as they relate to the Workers' Compensation Board -- other than using words that appear to be saying something, there is no substance in Bill 99 that supports injured workers.

So I look at the title of this bill again and read it out for the record: "An Act to secure the financial stability of the compensation system for injured workers, to promote the prevention of injury and disease in Ontario workplaces and to revise the Workers' Compensation Act and make related amendments to the act."

It talks about securing the financial stability of the compensation system and it talks about prevention. I challenge any of these members who are present, and those who are not, to show me how they're making the system stable and how they're dealing with prevention when I don't see it here today or in the act. I just don't see it.

But to the issue of financial stability in terms of dealing with the underfunded liability, I look at what they have done, and what they have done is to cut the employer assessment by 5%. What that does is to achieve savings, which is largely a gift to the employers, of $6 billion. You have the minister today, Mme Witmer, come and talk about the fact that we need to deal with our financial system and need to make it stable and need to deal with the underfunded liability, and lo and behold, she cuts the employer assessment by 5%. She says we've got a problem with the underfunded liability and then she gives a gift away to the employers of $6 billion.

How does she do that when she said today in the House that we've got to get hold of the underfunded liability? How can she on the one hand say we've got a problem and on the other hand immediately give the employers $6 billion by cutting their assessment by 5%? Speaker, do you see what I'm telling you? Nod if you feel you're in agreement or disagreement so I can carry on. The Speaker wants to remain neutral. I understand. You get my point, though, Speaker, at least.

Then they say that in order to get the underfunded liability in check, what we have to do is to reduce the benefits that otherwise injured workers would be getting, so they are cutting benefits to 85% of the net average earnings from the current 90%. Speaker, I'm hoping that you're following this because it's important. On the one hand they give a break to the employers, and on the other hand, to make it up, they're going after the injured workers, because that 5% cut that the injured worker would have gotten from the original 90% of net means a cost of $15 billion that needs to be absorbed by injured workers in order to deal with the underfunded liability.

Do you see the disparity in this? They're going after people who have lost their ability to work in order to deal with the underfunded liability. They're not going after the employer, who has the money that continues to provide work to people. They're going after the injured workers who have lost their means to be able to provide for themselves individually and for their families. I find that a terribly unjust thing to do, and someone has to speak on the issues of justice.

The members opposite often say that we don't have a monopoly on issues of justice. I tell you, some of us don't want to have a monopoly on these kinds of issues. We don't want to have to own issues that are connected, in this particular case, to injured workers. We would like the government to own in part issues of justice so the NDP does not have to be the only party that fights for those who are most vulnerable, and injured workers become very vulnerable by the very nature of the disability they acquire in the course of their employment. They need a party that fights for them, and I tell you it is not this Reform party here and it's not M. Chrétien at the federal level, which is attacking the unemployed, where not only do we have unemployment at levels not ever seen, but we have M. Chrétien, the Prime Minister, cutting the benefits of those who are unemployed.

We need to deal with issues of credibility. Those who are watching this parliamentary process need to listen very carefully to what these ministers tell us when they introduce bills, because what you will not get from the ministers is the detail that allows you to understand what this government is doing. That is why I gave a list of the things this government has already done, to give you an indication that it is not on the side of injured workers, that the focus indeed has changed. It has changed in two ways: not on prevention, as this government is saying, but rather cutting the benefits of injured workers and making it tougher for these people to survive an injury not only by having less money in their pockets but also by having to deal with a new system that doesn't respect them, where the planks are removed and the supports they once had are no longer there.


What they get from this government are titles of bills that are very deceptive in terms of what they say but are very clear in terms of their content. They're changing titles from "accident fund" to "insurance fund." I remind you, this is an accident fund; it is not an insurance fund. This fund is connected to injury in the workplace sustained in the course of employment and it becomes an accident fund, not an insurance fund.

They removed from their purpose clause the words "fair compensation," to simply "compensation." Why would any government want to remove the word "fair"? Surely you would think this government would want to keep the word "fair," if nothing else. To remove it -- under what justification? There is none. But it gives you a feeling of the modus operandi of this government. It tells you which side they're on, that we support injured workers and that the government over there does not.

When it changes the name of the Workers' Compensation Board to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, it tells you the modus operandi is changing. It gives you a sense of the new operation of this government that is not working for people, and that it's working in the best interests of the most powerful interest group in this country. Those are the employers, who by and large do well in our economy in this country. They do so at the expense of those who become unfortunate, in this case because of an injury they sustain in the workplace.

I have nothing very kind to say about this government. I have very little love for this government, because all the actions of this government are in the direction of hurting workers in general, and in particular with Bill 99 they hurt injured workers.

I want to urge those who are watching, if you agree with what we're doing, to write to Minister Witmer a letter marked "personal and confidential" so she gets that letter in her hands, and tell her that you are unhappy with this government's direction. If you, as an injured person, are in an area outside Toronto, wherever you are, speak to those Conservative members who represent you and tell them your displeasure. Communicate to them that you are unhappy with what they are doing to you and to your families because you've lost the earning power and no longer are able to provide. Visit them, talk to them, write letters to the Premier, because that is one way -- not the only way, but one of the ways you have as a tool -- to communicate your anger and displeasure with this government.

If you sit at home and do nothing, you are telling Mike Harris and all the other Harrisites out there that you agree with their agenda. You need to be vocal at meetings. You need to visit these members and look them in the eyes as they tell you what there is in this bill that focuses on prevention. Ask them to show you where there is prevention in place, because there is none, other than the cuts that you're about to endure by this government.

That is the least you can do, and I tell you, it will have a cumulative effect. It will have a very political effect on you and on those politicians, because in many cases politicians never get to see more than a couple of people in their offices with respect to a particular bill. So if 10 or 15 of you go into these offices of these honorables, les misérables across from me, I tell you, you will have an effect. There is a political effect, a politicization process, that needs to happen for us be able to hold back the agenda of this Tory government.

Speaker, I thank you for your attention. I know my other colleagues want to speak to this. I urge everybody watching to make sure they fight this government as they do this.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm glad to have a chance to speak to this motion today, albeit briefly, and to basically continue from where my colleague from Fort York left off.

I want to start specifically from the motion, because while of course the broader issue of workers' compensation is in front of us and Bill 99 is what this time allocation motion deals with, what we are dealing with today is the ending of debate by this government on second reading, which in and of itself is not a bad thing if we're going to proceed with this bill. I say the latter because I think at the end of the day it's not as significant how long we get to hear each other, but on issues like this it's crucial for me not just how long but how well we listen to people who are affected by major changes such as the one in front of us today on workers' compensation.

What I find particularly offensive about the motion that's in front of us is that, for a major change that's envisioned in this bill, a major restructuring of the whole workers' compensation system, this government is going about doing this in a way that is showing very little respect for injured workers, in a way that says, "We're going to deal with this bill in committee over the summer recess, starting in a couple of weeks, with the resources committee spending a couple of half days and then six days of hearings during the summer" -- six days of hearings during the summer on a bill that's not only 106 pages long but, more significantly, alters in a substantial way the structure of workers' compensation in this province in a way that puts more tools in the hands of the system, in the hands of the board, to take away those very few benefits that injured workers have struggled and fought for over the years.

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the minister herself today put it as she did when she said the focus will not be on compensation. To be fair to the minister -- I don't want to take her out of context -- she went on and talked about helping people get back to work and rehabilitation. I don't think any of us would disagree with the need for the system to do a much better job on that, but for the minister to say the system will no longer have a focus on compensation is to say to all those injured workers out there that we don't care about their injuries and we don't care about the limbs that many of them have given, the pain they have suffered, the injuries they have suffered, not just physically but emotionally.

Now we're going to make it even harder, as this government is doing, for them to be even fairly compensated for the injuries they have sustained. When the minister of the day stands up and says the focus will no longer be on compensation, it sets out for me in the most succinct way what this government is all about with this bill. What they are saying to those injured workers, whether they are recently injured or, as many in my riding are, older injured workers, is don't look to this government and certainly don't look to the new workers' compensation system once this bill is passed for any sense of justice.

At the end of the day, perhaps it doesn't even matter how many days we spend debating this, whether it's six days in committee or 16 days or 60 days in committee, if the government has really already made up its mind. But I think they could at least have had the decency to show that there was some openness on their part to listen to some extent to the stories that injured workers want to put in front of them. They will still do that. I know they will do that. I know they will continue to do that, as they have been doing in the two years that this Tory government has been in power, as they will do again this Sunday, June 1, when they will again have their annual day of demonstration in support of injured workers, I believe right here on the front steps of the Legislature, and as they will continue to do. As they will come in front of the committee over the summer recess they may not get the time they want but their message will be clear. Their message will be that it isn't fair that they continue to pay the price for years and years of mistreatment.


We can sit here and stand here and blame each other in terms of previous governments and who has done what and who has done enough and who has not done enough, but the reality today is that injured workers still by and large are having to pay not only for the sufferings they go through as a result of the initial injury on the job, but many of them are still, years after that initial injury, fighting the system to receive adequate compensation for the injuries they sustained.

When the minister of the day, the minister responsible for the system, says "The focus will not be on compensation," then I have to say to you, as a member who represents many injured workers, that is the most callous attitude any minister and any member of this assembly could take towards injured workers.

I particularly say that and feel that is so unjust when I look at what this government is doing with this bill, because it's not just tinkering with the system. It's again taking the approach that they have taken on other major issues of creating a crisis, inventing a crisis, as the Minister of Education talked about, and then going ahead and bringing in the sledgehammer approach and not reforming the system but eradicating any sense of justice for injured workers.

If there was really a crisis with respect to the unfunded liability, which the government is using as one of the primary reasons for proceeding with this legislation, then they would not be able to justify putting $6 billion back into the hands of employers, as they are taking $15 billion from injured workers through the cuts to their benefits that this bill will see.

That is really what it comes down to. It comes down to the same old pull and push of the balance that this government so much wants to do, again in saying to those who are among the most needy in this province that they're a group of people for whom this government particularly does not care and that they are going to continue to side with those who already have a good chunk of the power and a good chunk of the wealth in this province, and they're going to make sure that those people are even better off.

I have to say when it come to workers who have been injured on the job, I find that our actions as a society towards them is one of the most telling signs about our common beliefs. One of the problems I have inherently with this legislation -- there are lots of pieces of it, but I think it's that basic philosophy that this government is taking that rather than saying, "Injured workers have already suffered enough and what we need to do, yes, if we can, we will improve the rehabilitation efforts, we will improve our efforts to try and get them back on the job, but while they are injured we will continue to support them, and particularly those who have been injured and are now into their years such that it is unrealistic to expect that they will ever re-enter the workforce" -- and there are thousands of them across the province. For those individuals across this province we still have not done anywhere near enough, and this bill will take away some of the small gains that we've managed over the years to get for those individuals.

I was a minister in the last government and one of the difficult decisions for us at the time when we came around to this issue of workers' compensation reform was when we changed the indexing formula, the Friedland formula. But at least we were able to show at the time that in doing that we were also putting into the hands of some of the poorest injured workers some $200 a month that went to those injured workers who had been injured many years ago and whose benefits therefore were calculated on earnings of years past and were way out of whack with respect to the earnings they should be getting today if they were back on the job. So we provided that little catch-up, we provided that little additional benefit, which for many of them made a very big difference.

I know that this bill isn't taking that away, but the other changes in the bill are, because it's taking away the 100% inflation protection that we also provided to those individuals. The other reductions that are in here also mean that people will be receiving less if they continue to have problems in appealing their benefits. Now we are hearing that many of those people who did receive that $200-a-month increase are being reassessed in terms of the percentage of the pension they have been receiving. As they go through the system again and try to appeal and re-appeal once again, they're going to find a system that's more insensitive and less likely to respond positively to their needs, to their concerns and to their condition.

It's that whole approach that I know the committee will hear about, even in the limited time of hearings during the summer. I just want to hold out some little shred of hope that at the end of the day the minister and the government will still have some room left to listen and to make changes to this draconian piece of legislation that's in front of us.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Further debate? The member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Before I start, would you ascertain whether there is a quorum present.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak this afternoon, because as we can see, we're in the dying moments of any opportunity for a member to have input into the second reading stage of this bill. I am quite distressed by the government's action today in bringing forward a closure motion on the Workers' Compensation Act reform that they have before this House. I'm particularly distressed by their lack of interest in hearing from members of the public, both employers and injured workers and representatives of workers.


Ms Lankin: I don't know if the member had anything further to add. My point is that the time allocation that's before the House does not provide for ample opportunity or sufficient opportunity for public hearings and public participation in this very important bill.

I know there are times when people watching must wonder, "Don't we hear this a lot?" and in fact, with this government, it's very true, we do. We went through the whole process of Bill 26, the omnibus legislation, where the government acted in the most anti-democratic way. It was referred to as the bully bill, you might remember that, where they lumped together all these pieces of legislation, brought it in and rammed it through. We had to go through extraordinary efforts in the House, the opposition working together -- you might remember there was an all-night sit-in at that time, essentially civil disobedience within the Legislature itself -- to force them to have public hearings on that.

You might remember recently with respect to other pieces of legislation where they have again short-circuited the kind of public hearings that are required, the opportunity for people to participate. We saw during the education bill, Bill 104, and the megacity bill, Bill 103, where there were hundreds and hundreds of people who did not have the opportunity to present. They requested a spot for the hearings and did not have the opportunity.

We will see the same thing again here, because the time allocation motion or the closure motion that the government has brought before us today -- we've had three full days of debate on the workers' compensation bill here in this Legislature. What happens, for the people watching, a bill is called as the order of the day, usually some time after 3 o'clock or 3:30, something in that range of time, and we debate it through until 6 o'clock when the House is adjourned. So there's two and a half hours or so. We have had three full days of debate on this. Only a handful of the members of the Legislature have been able to participate in debate on second reading so far and they are stopping that process.

I find that shocking, but more shocking are the limits they have placed on participation by the public. This motion that's before us today only allows for 10 hours of hearings here in Toronto and six days during the intersession -- during the time in the summer when the House is not sitting, which is when committees are allowed to travel -- 10 hours while the House is sitting here in Toronto and six days during the intersession.

Let me provide you with a comparison. I did that this morning at the House leaders' meeting. I tried to convince the government House leader that this was wrongheaded and that this was not sufficient time for proper consultation with the public.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: We don't seem to have any members of the official opposition party here, only one member --

The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, that's not a point of order, and also you're in time allocation. I think you should understand that. When in time allocation and there's only an amount of time for the opposition, I think it's certainly discourteous to interrupt when you know full well you don't have a point of order.

Ms Lankin: I could point out at this point in time that yet again the government doesn't have a quorum, but I'm going to continue speaking to this bill because I want people to understand the limits that are being placed on public participation in this important piece of legislation.

I want to give you two comparisons. I want to point out that the last time the Workers' Compensation Bill was amended in a major reform was during the time of the Liberal government. I have to tell you that although it was major reform, it was minor in comparison to the complete rewrite of the bill that we see here before us today.

I don't think any of the government members would deny the point I'm making, that this is a major overhaul of the workers' compensation system. They say that themselves. The minister has said that. We may disagree on the content and the direction of that overhaul, but I think we all agree that this is major restructuring, a major overhaul, a complete rewrite of the act, a 106-page bill, 106 pages to the bill which is amending an already existing statute, an already existing law in this province.

In those Liberal years -- and I know our party pressed for public hearings at that point in time; we wanted to have what was then reform of WCB out across the province -- there were something like 11 days of hearings in Toronto and 11 days of hearings travelling out across the province, followed by 15 days of clause-by-clause analysis and dealing with amendments. Did you hear that? Eleven days in Toronto, 11 days on the road, 15 days of clause-by-clause dealing with amendments for something that was much less onerous, I was going to say, but that would impart my values with respect to what I think of the content of this. It was not as substantial a reform. Let me put it that way.

Look at the amount of time that was dedicated to consulting with the public and for members of the Legislature to hear from all parties that were concerned and then take the time to deal with amendments and debate amendments and do it clause-by-clause. Compare that -- 11 days in Toronto, 11 days on the road, 15 days dealing with amendments -- to 10 hours in Toronto and six days travelling.

Let me give you another comparison. During the time of the previous government, of which I was a member, there were major changes to the Labour Relations Act -- the government will know it referred to Bill 40 -- which they have since repealed. Those were significant changes. Again it wasn't a complete rewrite of the legislation. It was very targeted in terms of the changes that were made, but I admit those were substantial changes in terms of their content, not in terms of volume. At that point in time we had something like 11 days of hearings in Toronto, eight days travelling around the province and I think another two weeks of clause-by-clause analysis.

What have we got here? The government has provided for 10 hours in Toronto, six days during the summer which I imagine will become six days on the road -- the committee has decided -- and four days of clause-by-clause. Again, this is not taking seriously the job that legislators have to do in looking at a tremendously important piece of legislation with a huge impact, the ramification of which will affect the life of every injured worker and the family member of every injured worker in this province, that has an impact on employers with respect to the level of premiums they must pay and has an impact beyond even the borders of Ontario with respect to some of the changes that are being made, like the elimination of the Occupational Disease Panel.

I had an opportunity to speak to this bill on second reading and I tried to point out to the government in a very serious way a couple of areas that I hoped they would take a real second look at. I pointed out some of the significant concerns with the way in which they want to interfere with the role of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal.

For some of the members who may not have been here at that time, let me point out to you that I had received an order-in-council appointment to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal back in about 1986. It's a tripartite tribunal. I sat as a member of that tribunal for a couple of years, a full-time member representative of workers. There are members representative of employers, members representative of workers and independent vice-chairs. I sat on a number of original cases that began to set very important precedents in the world of workers' compensation law. I saw the importance of having that independent administrative law tribunal there as a review of the work and the decisions that have been taken by the Workers' Compensation Board.

Before that it used to be that the only area an employer or worker could appeal the decision of the board -- and there are often disputes with the decisions of the board from both sides. It's not always simply the workers who are appealing. Many times it's the employers who are appealing. No one felt they were getting a fair shake, because the people who were reviewing the decisions of the board were the board. It was all contained within the Workers' Compensation Board. There was a hue and cry for reform for a number of years wanting the establishment of an independent level of appeal.

Surely you must agree with that, whether it's a court system or an administrative law system: an independent level of appeal, some sense of justice, some sense of due process. That's what the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal has provided in this province. Now the changes you are proposing in this piece of legislation will fetter the independence of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. You are going to limit their decisions to areas prescribed by policy of the board.

You've rewritten the legislation, you're changing the orientation of the board, you're appointing the people you want to it, they're setting the policy, and you're saying the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal can make no decision outside of that policy framework even if it believes it is in keeping with the intent of the law. They are an administrative law tribunal. Their job is to review the application of legislation and the decisions made by a bureaucratic institution, like the Workers' Compensation Board, and to review whether or not those decisions are in keeping with the intent of the legislation as passed by the members of this Legislature. You are fettering that independent review.

I believe strongly that this is very wrongheaded. I believe that you leave the parties who have the most at stake in the workers' compensation system without a satisfactory route of independent appeal and adjudication of any dispute they may have with respect to decisions that have been taken by the board.

I also pointed out how disastrous I thought it was that you were moving to eliminate the Occupational Disease Panel. I don't understand the reason for this. I urge government members to please do a little bit of work and read up on the Occupational Disease Panel. I bet there is hardly a member in this Legislature right now, on the government side, who could tell me why their government is choosing to do away with the Occupational Disease Panel. I would love to hear an answer. There are a lot of empty stares over there, because I don't think they know why. There can be no justification other than giving in to the lobby of a very small number of employer associations.


It's not the broader employer community that wants this done away with. Most employers do not want to have workplaces in which the process involved in whatever manufacturing or work is in their workplace is dangerous to the health of their workforce or could create disease. Most employers don't want that. But there is a handful of employer lobbyists who have somehow gotten the ear of this government -- whether it be the Premier or the minister, I don't know -- who want to do away with the Occupational Disease Panel. The Occupational Disease Standards Panel is a group that has done work that is ground-breaking and it is world-renowned. Your government has received letters from all around the world begging you not to go forward with the elimination of this.

I see the member shake his head. I don't know why you're shaking your head. This group has done -- has commissioned, I should say, because they don't themselves do this -- but has commissioned some sterling research which has shown the connection between certain workplace processes and certain diseases. Surely you want to know if what's going on in a workplace actually causes a disease.

This is different than talking about accidents. We want to prevent accidents, obviously. But we also want to prevent workplaces or work processes from contributing to disease. Let me just say very briefly to the member: Think of some examples, and there are lots in our history, think of coal miners who died for years from black lung and it took a long time before people acknowledged the connection. Think of asbestosis. I can remember when workers were dying from exposure to asbestos and the connection was denied by their employers. I can think of a number of examples of that. I remember someone saying, "You know, we don't need to have a body count any more to put in place the right protections for workers." I can't believe you are proceeding with the elimination of this. Do you know what it means? It means more workers will die needlessly.

I just ask the government to please think about that, to please reflect on that. It's hard for me to believe that you seriously want to have input or that you're open to the possibility of change in this bill, given the limited time for hearings that you've put forward. It is essential that you listen to the representatives who come forward because some of the measures in your bill will lead us back to a time in this province when it took body counts of workers for dangerous or hazardous substances to be recognized or acknowledged, for workers to be given the appropriate protection. I don't understand it.

The minister says that what she's trying to do is change the focus from compensation to prevention. Well, all of us want to work together on prevention. You have no argument from me on the importance of prevention of workplace accidents. Anything that we can do cooperatively together to achieve that we should all put our energies into.

I want to remind the government that in fact this is a compensation system. It's not a workplace safety and insurance board. It is workers' compensation. It was over 80 years ago that workers made the historic tradeoff. They gave up their right to sue. If you're out driving the street and not working and you have an accident, you might have cause for a lawsuit. You might be able to pursue a lawsuit. You know much of that goes on in our courts today.

If you have an accident in your workplace and you're covered under workers' compensation, you can't sue, even though there may have been negligence on the part of somebody -- it might be on the part of the employer. If you walk down someone's steps and their steps aren't in good repair in a private home and you hurt yourself and they've been negligent, you can sue them. In a workplace, workers can't sue their employers. Why? Because they traded off the right to sue for the guarantee of a compensation system that would replace their wages, that would help them through a period of rehabilitation and to return to the workplace.

I'm not very admiring of this argument that we're moving away from its being compensation. That's what it should be. That's what workers gave up the right to sue for. If workers and injured workers are not going to be served well by the system, they should think about demanding the right to sue back, because I believe that's the only way they might get justice in the future.

I want to close by saying that all too often in this Parliament we see a government that is hell-bent for leather. They're going to proceed with whatever is on their agenda no matter what the impact, no matter what the ramifications, no matter what the desire for public participation. We see that again today. We see a government that is closing off debate before a significant number of members have had an opportunity to participate. We see a government that is limiting the access of the public. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who have already indicated they want to present to a standing committee on this piece of legislation. They have limited the public participation, by this motion we are facing in the House here today, to 10 hours in Toronto and six days over the course of the summer. You won't hear a tenth of the people who want to participate in this.

I suppose, as the member for Dovercourt said, maybe it doesn't matter, because maybe you don't want to hear, maybe you don't want to listen. I implored government members when I spoke before to look at this issue of the interference and fettering of the independence of WCAT, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, to look at this issue of the elimination of the Occupational Disease Panel and to please look at the treatment of older injured workers under the bill.

The minister talks about the changes made under the previous government around the Friedland formula. One of the things that was accomplished when those changes were made was to take some of the money that would have otherwise gone to that inflation protection and redirect it to a supplement to older injured workers who had been injured when the legislation in place in years gone by did not provide a decent level of benefits. Those older workers and their families were living in abject poverty. We increased their monthly supplement to try to bring them up out of poverty.

The other thing we did was, even when we changed the inflation protection and brought in the Friedland formula, which I'll remind you was negotiated with and agreed to by the employer community and the trade union movement working together on this, we provided 100% inflation to those older injured workers, because even though we had provided a supplement to them, they were still being so pitifully paid in comparison to what they would receive had they had their injuries more recently, under the legislation as it had been amended over the years.

This legislation before us today is taking away that protection. You're not only abandoning the Friedland formula, which is 75% inflation protection, and taking it down to 50% for all workers, you're taking away that 100% inflation protection for those older injured workers. I beg you to reconsider that. These are a handful of people in Ontario. This is not a huge cost to the unfunded liability, not that you seriously care about the unfunded liability at all; otherwise, you wouldn't have done this $6-billion giveaway in rate reductions to employers, the WCB premium cut you made to the tune of $6 billion. It's just a handout at a time when you're bemoaning the existence of this serious crisis of the unfunded liability.

The reality is that the changes the previous government made, of which I was a member, brought the crisis of the unfunded liability under control. That was headed down. There was a plan for reduction. We know we were all headed in the right direction. You, instead, are giving this giveaway, and you're making injured workers pay for it.

Let me just say again, while there is much more that I abhor within this bill, there are three areas I ask you seriously to consider: not fettering the independence of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal; not eliminating the Occupational Disease Panel; and not taking this extraordinary step that will be so harmful to older injured workers and their families, who are already living at poverty levels. There's a handful of them. I hate to say it, they're not going to live forever. This is not going to cost you or the system any great amount of money to maintain those families with some sense of dignity through their remaining years.

Once again, we see a government that is ramming through legislation and is not going to give people time to participate. It makes us question whether there is any serious intent on the government's part to listen to the suggestions I've just made or all the other suggestions that you will hear when we do have public hearings.

I really think it has become almost a mockery of the democratic process when we see bill after bill after bill being time-allocated with insufficient public hearings and then the government moving and passing its own amendments and ignoring amendments from anyone else. It's almost a mockery. You wonder why we sit through these kinds of debates if you're not going to listen anyway.

The reason I feel compelled to participate in these kinds of debates is because I want the people in my riding and the people from the public to know and understand the nature of the changes the government is making. I want those older injured workers, when they lose the protection of that very meagre amount of money they and their families are living on now, to know that it is the Mike Harris government that sees fit to do that, despite others raising their voices in objection.

We will continue to raise our voices in objection. We will continue to work with people and encourage them to participate in the democratic debate, even if the government appears not to be interested in listening to people's participation, even if the government intends to continue to ram through legislation, as we see will be the result of this bill, which I'm sure the government will pass.

Although time is up, I did enjoy being able to participate in this.

The Speaker: Mrs Witmer has moved government motion number 20. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.

It now being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock Monday.

The House adjourned at 1802.