36th Parliament, 1st Session

L200 - Thu 5 Jun 1997 / Jeu 5 Jun 1997























































The House met at 1002.




Mrs Ross moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 132, An Act to adopt an official tartan for Ontario / Projet de loi 132, Loi visant à adopter un tartan officiel pour l'Ontario.

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

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Mr Speaker, before I begin I wonder if I could ask for unanimous consent for the members to wear the swatches that are placed on their desks.

The Deputy Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mrs Ross: It is with great pleasure that I open the debate in this House on my private member's bill. If passed, this proposed bill will establish an official tartan design or pattern as one of Ontario's provincial symbols, similar to the trillium or the amethyst.

I know members would agree with me that symbols are important in both our public as well as our private lives. Symbols represent our identity and how we understand each other and each other's values, now and in history. As such they are not simply reminders of the past; they are dynamic ideas that can inspire our imaginations with pride and guide us in how we continue to face the challenges of the present and the future.

Some may ask: Why a tartan as a symbol for Ontario? How may a tartan, an expression of Scottish culture, be a representative symbol for all Ontarians, given the reality of our multicultural society?

The answer to these questions is that an official tartan pays tribute to the many and varied contributions of Canadians of Scottish ancestry to Ontario and to Canada. Given the dynamic nature of the tartan itself, it can also form part of a meaningful heritage to those of us, myself included, who are not of Scottish ancestry.

Tartans are an ancient form of dress used by the Scottish highlanders. Consisting of a repeated chequered pattern of threads, it was and is worn by members of Scottish clans for purposes of identification with both the clan and the clan's territory. Tartans were first recorded in history by Julius Caesar in France, where he first observed Celtic tribes.

The tartan kilt, a pun or a play on the word "Celt," while looking like a type of skirt, is actually a descendant of the earlier battle garb that was worn by Roman soldiers. The tartan can also be worn in the form of a dress; a sash, similar to what I'm wearing; a scarf or tie, the tie being at one time simply a large bandage that crusaders wore around their necks to be prepared for any eventuality of being wounded.

There are different types of tartans that are used for different purposes. Dull-coloured hunting tartans were developed by clans to make them look less conspicuous while they were out hunting. Mourning tartans are worn at funerals and for all sad occasions. Apart from the familiar clan tartans, there are district tartans, which identify a person's residence in a certain district, whether the person belongs to the dominant clan or not.

There are many precedents in Scottish history and culture that show how people who are not related to clans by blood or ancestry can be identified with either clan or territory and may as a result wear the tartans associated with them quite meaningfully.

Smaller clans which did not have their own tartans often sought refuge and protection under greater clans and so were adopted by them. Scots who came from the lowlands or who were otherwise not entitled to a tartan of their own could always wear one of the universal tartans, including the Black Watch, the Jacobite or the Caledonia tartans.

It is perfectly legitimate for a subject of the Queen, for example, to wear the Royal Stewart tartan, regardless of his or her cultural background. Since this is the Queen's own tartan, the wearing of such is a demonstration of loyalty to the crown or to the royal Stewart line. As a matter of fact, my colleague Mr Al McLean is wearing the Stewart tartan today and I'm sure he'll address that when he speaks.

The Ontario tartan is a district tartan, as I have mentioned. It represents not the cultural or other ancestry of a people but the district or territory itself and those who reside within it, regardless of their background.

Since the Ontario tartan reflects territorial loyalties, it is as legitimate for an Ontarian of Scottish background to wear that tartan as it would be for an Ontarian of French, Polish, Hungarian or Italian background to wear it as well.

The Ontario tartan pays tribute to Canada's Scottish heritage and the impact of Scottish culture on our history and development as a nation. In fact, the tartan has always been numbered among Canada's official symbols, beginning with Nova Scotia, which received its armorial bearings from King Charles I. Canada's coats of arms have always contained Scottish symbols, like the unicorn, the thistle and others.

The tartan is therefore a historic, 350-year-old Canadian symbol that belongs, by right, to the common heritage of all citizens of Canada.

With the exception of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, all other provinces and territories of Canada have official tartans, including a number of municipalities and organizations. The nature of the tartan is such that a number of states in the US have adopted their own tartans and in fact an official tartan was developed especially for the bicentennial of the American Revolution.

The direct impact of Scottish culture on Canada has been and continues to be significant. Sir John A. Macdonald and other fathers of Canadian Confederation, who laid down the legal and legislative bases of the new nation of Canada, were Scots.

The University of Toronto was begun as King's College by Scots educators and community leaders. The Ontario Agricultural College was begun by a Scot named Fergus, who now has a town named after him. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was another famous Scot, as was Sir Allan MacNab who lived in Hamilton's famous Dundurn Castle.

In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find even one aspect of our history, culture, laws and government, indeed our way of life, that was not positively impacted by the Scots. This is a heritage of which all Ontarians of all cultural backgrounds can be justifiably proud.


It was this heritage which led to the development of Canada's modern multicultural society, defined by the values of tolerance, understanding and mutual appreciation for our cultural distinctiveness. It was this heritage that laid the foundations for our province's growth and stability, foundations upon which we all are privileged to continue to build. In paying tribute to our Scottish heritage, we are thereby also paying tribute to all others who likewise have made and continue to make significant contributions to the life of our province.

Just as we are all the beneficiaries of the economic, educational and political contributions of Canadians of Scottish ancestry, so, with Bill 132, will we be able to celebrate the fact that that ancestry is part of our cultural identity as are other citizen cultures of Ontario.

The structure of the proposed Ontario tartan, as you will see by the sash that I'm wearing, is based loosely on the Macdonald of Clanranald tartan, the tartan of Sir John Sandfield Macdonald, the first Premier of the province. The subtle shades of green represent our province's forests and fields, while the red is symbolic of our first nations. The blue represents the waters of Ontario and the white line represents the sky above the province.

The tartan was designed by Mr James MacNeil of Toronto in conjunction with the chair of Scottish studies at the University of Guelph, and Mr MacNeil is in the gallery with us today. I thank him very much for helping me on this.

As a Canadian of Polish and Hungarian ancestry, I am proud to be Scottish by marriage. The clan of Ross is a deeply historic one in Scotland and was governed at one time by the famous King of Scots, Macbeth. It was William Ross who led the Ross clan at the battle of Bannockburn and helped procure Scotland's independence.

The fact that one need not be Scottish to meaningfully wear a tartan, that the tartan in fact belongs to all the people, regardless of their background, who live in a territory is for me the most significant aspect of this symbol. It honours the contribution of one great community in Canada but allows all others to adopt it as their own.

In closing, I ask all members of the House to support this legislation. It is time, I believe, for Ontario to join most of the other provinces and territories in declaring an official district tartan in recognition of our vibrant Scottish heritage and as a vehicle of cultural sharing, understanding and participation by all Ontarians.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): As I sat here listening to Mrs Ross, I just wondered how many of the prominent Ontarians that she referred to -- and of course the Scots are known for their frugality. As you know, I'm of Dutch birth and descent and we share an awful lot of that in common with the Scots -- but I'm just wondering how many of these prominent Ontarians that she talked about would have agreed with the whole notion of giving people a tax cut when at the same time the province is still running a deficit. I am quite sure they would not agree with that.

Having said that, I've got to congratulate her on bringing this forward, because I think this is a good idea. As you know, I represent the riding of Kingston and The Islands, and of course we are very proud in Kingston and The Islands of having Sir John A. Macdonald as the first Prime Minister of Canada, as a member of both this Legislature and the Parliament of Canada for a number of years. Indeed, on June 6 every year, which happens to be tomorrow, we commemorate the anniversary of his death, when we all gather around his gravesite in the Cataraqui cemetery and once again relive some of the splendours that Sir John A. was involved in. We will all be there tomorrow at the 106th anniversary of his death, since he died in 1891.

Of course there are many other prominent Ontarians who weren't of the Conservative mould who also are of Scottish descent. One would just have to think of Sir Oliver Mowat, both of whose parents were Scottish. He, I believe, was the longest-serving Premier of this province, for some 24 years. He also happened to represent the Kingston area in the provincial Legislature, and we are extremely proud of the heritage that he brings to our area as well and to the province of Ontario.

Of course the person who comes to mind immediately when we think of Scottish heritage is Mitch Hepburn. His father was Scottish and his mother was Irish. It always reminds me of the anecdote that he used to tell. He showed up one day during a political campaign at a gathering on a farm and there were hundreds of people there. When it was his turn to speak he was asked to address the crowd. I guess he wasn't a very tall man and he wanted to make sure he could be seen by everybody. The only thing that was available was a manure-spreader. He jumped on top of the manure-spreader, looked at all of the people in the gathering and said, "You know, it was very nice for once to be able to stand on the Tory platform." That's the sense of humour I'm afraid quite often is lacking nowadays.

Of course, there's one other thing I want to say about the Scottish heritage that we are extremely proud of in my riding of Kingston and The Islands, and that's Queen's University, one of the oldest universities in Canada. I think it's one of the renowned universities in Canada as well. It was founded by the Scottish back in 1841 and it has been going for 150 years.

As a matter of fact, this coming Monday, June 9, there will be a gathering of all of the people who have graduated from Queen's University who have anything to do at Queen's Park, whether they're elected members or whether they're staff people or whether they work for the various ministries. We certainly invite them to the reception that will be attended by both the chancellor of Queen's University, Peter Lougheed, and the principal of Queen's University, Bill Leggett, down in the dining room at about 5 o'clock.

Congratulations, Mrs Ross. I am more than pleased to support this particular motion.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I am very pleased to be able to represent my party this morning and to congratulate Mrs Ross on bringing forward this bill. Bill 132 is only surprising, in my view, because it hasn't existed in Ontario earlier. It is indeed an important occasion for us all to celebrate the design of this wonderful tartan and the fact that we are discussing in this Legislature the importance of this kind of symbol in joining us together.

I am of Scottish heritage. My father's family, named Watt, came from Huntly in Scotland in 1837 to Glengarry county, where the farm still belongs to the family. It's one of those amazing things of heritage that even though that's so far back, everyone still talks of Scotland as home, even though many haven't visited. I have and my father did, but it is a very interesting tie that Scottish people in Canada have to what they regard as their homeland.

The wearing of the tartan is one of the ways in which people express that loyalty and that sense of pride and that sense of history, that sense of being rooted in a culture, in a people that has struggled hard always against inhospitable climate and very difficult land conditions to make a living, to raise families and to build communities.

When I was growing up our Scottish heritage was always present to us because my father loved the sound of bagpipes. He had played a snare drum in his high school and at Queen's University in the pipe band and it was part of his blood. It became part of ours too because one of my memories is that my father would march up and down the living room with the latest baby on his chest, gently burping the baby to the sound of the pipes. So, when I hear the pipes, it has a very immediate effect on me, in a very visceral way, I should say.

Where we grew up, our holidays always had to be organized so that we could attend the Glengarry games at Maxville. In those days, of course, there was no Highway 401, so you took the long trip down Highway 2 on the way to Lancaster where our family was. Through town after town, we would see signs of the Scottish people who had come before and all along the St Lawrence had built settlement after settlement. I think it becomes important for us to share that cultural experience.

When I was Minister of Education some years ago I was invited to the Charlottenburgh high school and I'd like to share with you that Charlottenburgh in Glengarry has a tradition that is of long standing. This was the high school that my father and his brothers and sisters and all my cousins attended. In Charlottenburgh high school they have all the tartans of all the clans of all the students in that school around the walls.


In recent years, as we have become more and more aware of the necessity of being inclusive of other cultures, symbols of the many other cultures of the students have joined those tartans. So when the member for Hamilton West talks about this as being not something that is parochial or celebrates only one culture, she's right, because it fits very well with other cultures. I would really encourage people to see that, because I think there are 23 other cultures represented by symbols that are important to them that have joined the clan tartans around the walls in the auditorium in the Charlottenburgh high school.

One of the things that is important about this notion of putting a district tartan for Ontario is this issue that others then have a right to wear it. Scots tend to be quite jealous about their tartans. As Watts, we are members of the Buchanan clan. Those of you who know your tartans know that the Buchanan tartan is very strongly yellow and red and orange, very bright and very noticeable, not at all what you would wear to hunt, for sure.

When I married, I married a Boyd, who of course is a member of the Stuart clan, and then there was an array of tartans that were available, from the brightness of the Royal Stewart to the Hunting Stewart to the Dress Stewart, all of those possible and indeed enjoyed by all of us. In my husband's family, one of his cousins never appears in public without his Stewart tie. It's sort of his trademark. So it is an enjoyable way of celebrating every day the kind of heritage that we have enjoyed in terms of being Scottish people.

When we think about the kinds of traditions we have, it helps us to remember the history out of which they arose. Indeed, the wearing of the tartan goes back to Roman times at least. Of course, if you talk to people who have done studies of the Picts and the Scots and the settlement of Britain and Scotland, Ireland and Wales, they talk about the various ways in which the brooch that attaches the tartan has significance. The whole way in which it's worn has a difference, depending on what your function is at that particular time.

Just outside the cabinet room on this floor is a picture that, while it may have dubious artistic merit, certainly is a cultural reminder of the Scots who farmed this country. It shows a picture of a man in a kilt plowing the land, breaking the land early. It is a symbol right there for all of us as we walk by to remember that the kilt is not just a uniform, it's not just for bands, it's not just for dress occasions or for special occasions. The kilt was worn and continues by some people to be worn as an everyday form of dress, providing for those who are fond of wearing it a sense of freedom, warmth but ventilation. Certainly when you see people who wear the kilt on a normal day-to-day basis, they do so with a sense of comfort and a sense of pride that is indeed pleasurable to watch.

Maybe it's because I come from the Buchanan clan and married into the Stuart clan that I find the design somewhat dark. It could be, but I don't think so. This is a non-partisan occasion, but it certainly has a lot of blue and green in it, which suits this government very well. We've all just come through a period of time when seas of blue and green were very visible, so I think it is rather fitting that the government of the day would choose to bring forward a tartan of this sort.

All teasing aside, the meaningfulness of the different threads and the way they are woven together and the way in which they join the symbolic meaning of the various colours is very important in tartans. We always had handy in our house Clans and Tartans of Scotland, a little handbook, and it was always a contest to try to identify the clan that was being represented by a particular tartan. We used to laugh, frankly, about district tartans, because they always confuse you, because they aren't clan-related; they are meant to be something that is symbolic of belonging to a broader community.

It is very important for people to understand that the creation of a district tartan, which all the citizens of Ontario can enjoy wearing, is something that will preserve the sense of Scottish culture but will also be much more inclusive than it is at present.

Because the British Empire spread far and wide across the world, it is not unusual in former colonies to see people who do not in their physical appearance resemble Scottish people wearing the kilt in bands and in marching order, showing that the heritage has been adopted right across the world. It is exciting to think that when we have special occasions in Ontario, it will be possible for us to have that kind of inclusive way of showing that Scottish culture is shared, perhaps not by blood but by choice, by people all over Ontario.

The home of my heart is Bruce county. Bruce county has a district tartan and they're very proud of their district tartan. My cottage is close to Kincardine, and those of you who know Kincardine may know that everything stops on Saturday night throughout the summer while the Kincardine pipe band marches up the street and then down the street, followed by all the citizens and certainly all the children. Then there's a pipe concert in the park.

Before there was a bypass for Kincardine, all the traffic on Highway 21 had to stop during that period of time, between 7 and 8 on a Saturday night in the summer. That was just taken for granted. People had to plan their trips so they wouldn't hit Kincardine when the pipe band was playing because it didn't matter how important it was, you simply didn't go through the town when the pipe band was playing.

What we see in that part of the country is a great pride among people from a varied heritage in that particular celebration. It is really quite a sight, and one I invite people to see. I see the member for Bruce isn't here today, and I'm sure she's sorry she's missing this discussion. If she were here, I would not have mentioned this, because she would have had an opportunity to talk about her town of Kincardine and how proud they are of their Scottish heritage and the wearing of the tartan.


Because the Kincardine Pipe Band is a regular band, they have chosen a tartan that they wear as a band, but in the summer one of the things they do is that anyone who is in the district who plays is invited to join the band. On Saturday nights you often see, of course, the members of the band with the band's tartan on, but you also see people with many different tartans. It's very interesting. People always ask the visitors what tartan they're wearing and why they're wearing it and a little bit about history. It really is very much a part, for those of us who are part of Scottish culture, to enjoy that kind of thing. It is good to see those traditions continued, and continued in the more inclusive way that you're suggesting in this bill.

I was very pleased that you'd clearly been coached, even though you're not of Scottish heritage yourself, to be very careful to talk about Scots and the Scottish as opposed to Scotch, because some people get confused. I can remember my father all his life reminding people that Scotch is a drink and a Scot is a person. You didn't fall into that trap, but it is one that you could easily fall into.

I'm very supportive of this. You have designed a beautiful tartan. I think it's one that all Ontarians can be proud of. I certainly hope we will pass this bill for first reading today and that you will have no difficulty persuading your House leader to bring it forward for second reading before the end of the term. I think it would be a very good thing for this to go through, and I certainly hope that all of us in this Legislature will be supportive.

In closing, I want to say to my colleague across the way, Mr McLean, that I was sorry we missed April 6, Tartan Day, this year. It kind of passed in a blur because we were all here for 24 hours a day and we missed the date. He's having an opportunity to wear his tartan jacket today and to celebrate his heritage today.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): It is a privilege to rise in support of private member's Bill 132, which is brought forward by my colleague the member for Hamilton West, Mrs Ross. It also gives me the opportunity to wear my Royal Stewart Scottish jacket, which my wife made for me. I'm proud to show it off because of the number of hours of work that went into making it. Not only that, but the McLean tartan is very close to the Royal Stewart tartan, so it is a bright colour also.

As a Scottish Canadian and a member of the Clan McLean, I want to congratulate you and thank you for bringing this bill forward, a bill that honours our province's Scottish history and the memory of so many Scots who helped settle Ontario and make it the great place it is today.

I know my colleague and fellow Scotsman the member for Grey-Owen Sound, Bill Murdoch, would have been pleased to stand and speak in support of this bill if he were able to be here today. Many of us remember when Bill Murdoch introduced a private member's bill in 1991 to officially recognize April 6 as Tartan Day in Ontario, as it already is in Nova Scotia, or "New Scotland" in English. His bill passed with unanimous consent in this House, distinguishing April 6 as a day of historical significance to the Scottish community.

The tartan, as we have already heard from the member for Hamilton West, can represent a district in which one resides, and this is certainly the most ancient use of the tartan. The other familiar type is that of the clan tartan, such as that of McLean, to which I belong and whose tartan I am proud to wear. For me, as a Canadian of Scots background, the McLean tartan is a source of pride in what my ancestors accomplished both in Scotland and in Canada. Like its bright colours, the McLean tartan knits all McLeans together. That is what the tartan has always done for the Scots clans and districts. I support this bill because I believe that an Ontario tartan can help knit together Ontarians of many different backgrounds as a symbol shared in common by all.

Like so many Canadians, I too trace my ancestry far away from the shores of Canada. The McLeans came to Canada in 1832 and settled in Oro township, county of Simcoe. My tartan is a constant reminder to me of that fact.

Having held extensive lands in the western islands of Scotland, the McLeans fought many victorious battles. Fiercely loyal to their clan chief, seven McLean brothers once died during one battle, one after another, in defence of Hector McLean. As each one fell, he shouted, "Another for Hector." This became the war cry of the McLeans. In 1910, Sir Fitzroy McLean repurchased Duarte Castle, the ancient home of the McLean clan.

In 1804, in the pre-Confederation province of Upper Canada, one Allan McLean was elected as the representative for the county of Frontenac. He was re-elected three subsequent times, and in 1812 was elected to the Speaker's chair. Mr McLean was also among 16 lawyers appointed by Lieutenant Governor Simcoe with the purpose of establishing a core of accredited legal practitioners for Upper Canada.

At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Speaker McLean joined the provincial militia and served for the duration of the hostilities. In 1812 he was given the rank of lieutenant colonel of the first regiment of the Frontenac militia.

Upon his return to the Speaker's chair, McLean was put in charge of a Legislative Assembly that dealt with such matters as the establishment of a legislative library, the regulation of common or public schools, Upper Canada's commercial relationship with the United States, the commission responsible for roads, and the relationship between Upper and Lower Canada, or what are now Ontario and Quebec.

What strikes me about Speaker Allan McLean is how so many of the issues that occupied the business of the Legislative Assembly of the day, including the relationship between English and French Canada, continue to do so today in Ontario's Parliament.

I am proud that a McLean was here in Ontario in the latter part of the 18th century to establish our province's foundations side by side with Lieutenant Governor Simcoe. And I'm proud that I am able to follow in the footsteps of a McLean in this Legislative Assembly and work on behalf of the people who elected me, just as he did. The Ontario tartan will serve to remind me of the great contribution of a McLean to the legislative tradition that continues here at Queen's Park.

I want to remind you all that once a year in Orillia we have the Scottish Festival. That is on July 20. There's a parade, and bagpipes from all over the county and other places in the province will be there, and they will have the drum major. It is a fascinating day to listen to the pipes and drums.

I want to thank the member for Hamilton West for bringing this resolution forward, and I hope we will also have unanimous consent on this bill.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): You may wonder why someone who is obviously of Italian descent would rise and not only compliment the member for Hamilton West for bringing this matter to the attention of the Legislature but indeed support the bill.

I do so for a number of reasons. The first and foremost is that half of my family is in fact steeped in Scottish history. The Carmichaels have a long-standing tradition. They trace their name back to Mary Carmichael, a handmaiden to Mary, Queen of Scots. That's how far back the name goes. The current lord of the manor of the Carmichael clan still presides over the clan, which is now dispersed all over the world, in a town called Carmichael by Biggar in the south of Scotland. So it is with some pride that I rise to commend the member.

The first Carmichaels in Ontario traced their roots to about 150 years ago with a Duncan Carmichael, who came to settle in Ontario. You will find Carmichaels everywhere, from the Bruce Peninsula, which I, like one of the former speakers, have a strong fondness for, to other parts of the province.

I also speak as a former chair of the governing council of the University of Toronto, an institution which, as you know, was founded by some outstanding Scots, educators and community leaders who felt it was important to have an institute of higher learning in the new land. What they were able to initiate has become one of the premier institutions of this country. Indeed, the excellence of its students is recognized worldwide. I think that too is acknowledged in this bill, and I'm proud to do so.

As a person of Italian heritage, let me say, wearing my other hat for a moment, that we share a great deal in common with the Scots. There certainly has been a love affair between Italy and Scotland in literature and in history. I will remind you briefly of Sir Walter Scott and the wonderful things he had to say about Italy and the much time he spent there. We on the other hand in Italy, according to tradition, invented the bagpipes, probably something very few people know. It was the shepherds in the mountainous areas of Italy, the Apennines, which form the backbone of Italy, that used a miniature version of the bagpipe called the cornamusa to marshal the sheep. I guess it was around the time of the Romans that the instrument was exported to Scotland, and there of course it made a big hit. I don't think it has ever had quite the attachment for Italians that it has had for Scots.

We take no credit for haggis, and proudly so, but we do respect the tradition that goes with it.

I will say that the most recent exploits of the Scots are something that we should all be proud of, the recent experiments in cloning; the kinds of opportunities that will provide are staggering. I only worry that we may have a situation where the Scots will take over the world and force the bagpipes and haggis on all of us through a cloning exercise, but I expect they would be judicious, as always, and that will not happen.


We of Italian origin of course laid claim to Canada before the Scots did. June 24 of this year marks the 500th anniversary of the landing of the Matthew, skippered by Giovanni Caboto, a citizen of Venice. That is certainly the definitive date here in Canada for discovering Canada. I suspect he probably had a Scot or two on board, but I'll leave that to other members to discover.

This issue has been outstanding for some time, and I think it is time we deal with it. In fact, it was a previous Liberal government that dealt with it the last time, back in 1988, and the decision was to just do nothing. We are one of three provinces, as has been pointed out, that does not have an official tartan. That seems strangely curious, because if you look at the tartan we have -- I have here something from the protocol handbook that has been prepared by the government of Canada, which says quite clearly that the tartan has been in use for over 100 years, although not officially, and it is based on our coat of arms. The yellow is for the three maple leaves which appear on the green background of the coat of arms; the red is for the cross of St George; the black is for the bear which appears at the top of the shield; and the brown is the colour combination created by the moose on the left and the deer on the right of the shield.

That seems to me fairly self-evident. We have a tartan that represents our shield. We have a tradition in this country of tartans, and it would seem to me a moot point that after so long we simply make it official.

There's only one thing I would say to the member, that if this Legislature does pass Bill 132, and I certainly hope that will be the result, we then take the next step. Simply passing it in this Legislature does not make it official. It has to be recognized by Scotland, by the King's Lyon college, I believe, which is equivalent to giving an imprimatur to the coat of arms and therefore making it truly official.

I'm happy to support this bill and I commend the member for bringing it to our attention.

Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph) : I am proud to rise this morning and join the debate on private member's Bill 132, An Act to adopt an official tartan for Ontario, and to commend my colleague Mrs Ross, the member for Hamilton West, for bringing this tribute to Ontario's Scottish heritage forward.

As a Canadian of Scottish, Irish and English ancestry, the tradition of this tartan is one that reminds me of personal, of community and of national history and identity, some of which I would be happy to share with my colleagues this morning.

For instance, the Elliotts: The Elliotts are a border clan and take their name from the village of Elliott in the shire of Forfar. Some Elliotts have had interesting stories. For instance, one branch of the Elliott family, the Elliotts of Stobs, originated in the 16th century, and in 1666 one Gilbert Elliott of Stobs was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by King Charles II. In 1718, George Elliott, a son of the third baronet, became governor of Gibraltar, and according to the history books, in 1779 Governor Elliott defended the Rock against more than 100,000 attackers over a period of nine weeks and was credited by historians with one of the greatest achievements in British military history.

In the 17th century Gilbert Elliott worked for religious freedom and for his efforts he was condemned for high treason in 1685. Fortunately he was pardoned and then, interestingly enough, was made a lord after that. Does this matter to Ontario at all? In fact, the interesting thing is that his pioneering work was instrumental in the later movements for religious freedom in England. It greatly influenced the thinking of one John Graves Simcoe who, when he became our Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, would be the man to outlaw slavery and give equal land and settlement rights to the clergy for both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Today I wear not the Elliott tartan but the official city of Guelph tartan. This actually resembles quite closely the proposed Ontario tartan. Many of the colours are similar: red, green, blue. We have gold instead of white and we have more black. The colours in the city of Guelph tartan actually appear in our city official arms and crests. In fact, the design and the thread count for the city of Guelph tartan came from the MacRae hunting tartan. Of course, most of us will know that Colonel John McCrae, who is honoured through this tartan, was a soldier, a poet, a physician, a native son of Guelph, and of course, famous for having written In Flanders Fields, the poem that we all know and particularly remember at Remembrance Day.

MacRae was a Scottish family from which many famous clergymen are also descended. Duncan MacRae, living in the 16th century, compiled many Gaelic poems and so contributed to the development of Scottish studies. I am delighted that this tradition is continued today in the city of Guelph through the Scottish studies program at the University of Guelph. Mrs Ross recognized Mr Jim MacNeil in the audience today, who was instrumental in helping develop the tartan plan. In that regard, this will be unique among Canadian tartans.

Guelph's agricultural college, for which we are famous throughout the world, was also founded by a Scot, Mr Fergus. Of course, the town of Fergus is named after him and is now home of the famous Fergus Highland Games.

Scots were academic leaders in Britain and continued to be so when they came to Canada. The University of Toronto started out as King's College, also founded by Scots.

The city of Guelph is very proud of having been founded by Scots settlers. We have in our city a very famous landmark called the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception or, fondly, the Church of our Lady. It is our city landmark and is an outstanding example of church architecture. What most Guelphites do not know is that this cathedral stands on land that was donated free by a Scots Presbyterian to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guelph, also a Scot. This is an example of the inclusiveness and tolerance of Scottish culture, a heritage that all Canadians are proud to call their own. It is one that is reflected in our modern, multicultural society, where our religious and cultural differences are shared, understood and celebrated.

The Scots are heirs to the Celtic tradition, a tradition that at one time in history actually covered more than half of Europe. Celtic studies, such as at the University of Toronto, are reviving now the ancient wisdom of Celts and their mystical approach to life and nature. We all are familiar with the rise and interest in Celtic music; we're even noticing it in our films today.

This Celtic tradition is in fact the origin of the district tartan and reflects the geographical area and its natural beauty. Of course, the proposed Ontario tartan also reflects Ontario's geography as well as its history and the representation of our first nations people and of our first Premier, John Sandfield Macdonald.

In my view, the Ontario tartan will serve to remind all Ontarians of the beauty that is Ontario and of our common responsibility to protect it for the benefit of future generations. I am very proud to support this private member's bill, and I do so because I believe it will enhance our multicultural society by encouraging us to appreciate our heritage.

At citizenship court in Guelph two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of welcoming 75 people to Guelph from 27 different countries.

When we share our cultural differences we are united. Our communities are grounded on this principle. The tartan is an example and a celebration of cultural uniqueness. It recognizes the contributions of the Scots who have worn it in the past and will benefit all of us to choose to proudly wear it in the future.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I am pleased to have the opportunity today to participate in this debate and inform the member I'm proud to support the bill. As an Ontarian who was born and raised in Sarnia -- my family apparently came to Canada around 1840 somewhere. We're mongrels. As much as we can figure, we're Scots who arrived here by way of northern Ireland.

My earliest memory -- I guess it's not a memory. I was baptized by Dr MacGillivray in St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in downtown Sarnia. Dr MacGillivray, who was quite famous throughout Presbyterian life at the time, was once a moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Right beside St Andrew's there was a small stone building that was built by Alexander Mackenzie, who we would all know was the second Prime Minister of Canada. I can remember quite clearly my memories of this relatively small stone building he had built. Actually going to Lakeview Cemetery in Sarnia, where he lies today is one of the little landmarks up in the northwest corner. As someone who, as I said, is a mongrel, I'm pleased to be married to a Ferguson, whose lines are much more clear.

One of the things we don't really understand is that Scots came to Canada through a long period of time. There's no one point of which you could say, "This was the Scottish immigration." They came over a long period of time and were a significant part of the Ontario political and business scene, out of all proportion to their numbers. They were the leaders of commerce. By 1870, although they represented only about 16% of the province, they represented, either direct Scottish immigration or sons -- and daughters, I suspect -- of Scottish people, half of the entrepreneurial business class of Canada.

To be a little provocative today, I might quote -- and this is provocative I think in the Scottish community -- this book by John Kenneth Galbraith, something you might not expect from John Kenneth Galbraith, a book called The Scotch. I just want to read a little bit of it. It says:

"When the Scotch settled by the lake in the early 19th century in what was then called Upper Canada, they found the political life of the colony a comfortable monopoly of the privileged. At the apex was the Lieutenant Governor, an appointee of the crown, and almost invariably a retired general (or sometimes lesser officer) of Wellington's armies. Surrounding him and advising him were Anglican bishops, businessmen and minor members of the aristocracy who had `come out' from England to make good and were starting in at the top. There have been, one imagines, more wicked oligarchies than the Family Compact as it was called. But, undeniably, it ruled in its own behalf. Its members took all the posts of privilege and profit under the crown. Trade favoured its merchants. Most important, land grants went to its members, or to the Church as the real estate holding company for the Compact, or to those who were in a position to pay the people who granted the land. One of the rewards of an utterly secure social position has always been the ability to take bribes from lesser folk without loss of dignity or sense of demeanment. The Scotch ranged themselves in political opposition to the Family Compact. Those by the lake needed very little education on the subject for they had been forced to obtain the land from one of its more prominent members, the eccentric, profane and bibulous Colonel Talbot."

The history of Scots in Ontario was one that gave rise to the birth of the Liberal Party of Ontario. The Liberal Party of Ontario came from a Scottish heritage. Those are the Liberals of Ontario's roots. As a matter of fact, the first five Premiers of this province were Liberals and three of those were Scots, one named Ross, by the way.

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): This is a bill which is long overdue, an official Ontario tartan which recognizes the great contribution of our province's Scottish heritage.

Having the honour to represent Cambridge, our community's foundation was established by Scottish immigrants from Dumfries settling in Shades Mill, which subsequently became Galt and later, along with Preston and Hespeler, Cambridge. The descendants of the Scottish immigrants of the early 19th century remain an important part of our rapidly expanding community. Cambridge's founding father, William Dickson, made a wise choice in the location of Shades Mill on the heritage Grand River.

We celebrate our community's Scottish heritage by the annual Cambridge Highland Games, held this year on Saturday, July 19. It is renowned as the most prestigious highland games in North America.

Cambridge is also the home of the Highland Fusiliers, formerly the Highland Light Infantry. Our regiment defended our country in two world wars and Korea and proudly wears the Mackenzie tartan.

I compliment the member for Hamilton West, a member of the Ross clan, named for the first Earl of Ross, established in 1226. I commend Mrs Ross for her choice of a modified Macdonald tartan, honouring Ontario's first Premier.

Tartans date from the third century AD, the clan tartans from the 17th century. The author Martin Martin wrote in 1703: "Each isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plaids, as to the stripes and breadth and colours. This humour is as different through the mainland of the Highlands in so far that they who have seen those places, are able, at the first view of a man's plaid, to guess the place of his residence."

There are several definitions of clans. Some refer only to Highland tribes. Others regard it as a synonym for family, or in fact any group of people acting with a common interest. The latter certainly describes Ontario and its citizens.

I am honoured to support Ontario's first official tartan.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Hamilton West, you have two minutes.

Mrs Ross: It's interesting. When you bring forward a bill you're never quite sure where the debate's going to take you, and the direction we end up in always amazes me.

I want to thank the member for Kingston and The Islands, who was right: Mitch Hepburn did say, "This is the first time in my life that I've spoken from a Tory platform," when he was referring to the load of manure he was standing on. But the response at the time was, "Throw 'er into high gear, Mitch, she's never had a bigger load on."

I want to thank the member for London Centre very much. She spoke very well to the unique characteristics of the Scots and the fact that they are truly possessive and very jealous of some of their -- haggis is one, for example, and the bagpipes. When my husband and I are anywhere near bagpipes, you can bet your bottom dollar we're going to be there till they're finished playing, because there's nothing like the sound of bagpipes to a Scot.

The member for Simcoe East mentioned quite rightly that the member for Grey-Owen Sound brought forward April 6 as Tartan Day. I commend him for doing that and I know he would have wanted to be here today.

The member for Downsview mentioned a different tartan that has been around but has never really been accepted by the police or the fire services, those people who notably wear tartans. This is in fact the official tartan.

The member for Guelph, the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and the member for Cambridge, I thank you very much for your comments.

This is a true Celtic symbol, and I think we should all be very proud to wear this tartan. I hope we'll have quick passage through third reading.



Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I move private member's notice of motion number 56:

That in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario requests the Solicitor General consult with municipal and police stakeholders to develop standards to ensure that residents of rural areas of the province of Ontario receive adequate and effective police service to protect their communities.

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

Mr Hardeman: I'm pleased to put forward this motion today, as setting the standards will go a long way to allay the concerns of my residents in Oxford county as they relate to the changes being made in law enforcement.

I personally have some mixed feelings in putting forward this resolution. I've been a strong proponent for many years of local autonomy, that decisions that affect the local basic services should be the responsibility of local government, but at the same time, I think people across the entire province are entitled to adequate and effective policing. Crime doesn't stop at municipal borders, nor should the protection from or the stopping of that crime and the apprehension of the criminals be different in different areas of the province.

As former Solicitor General Allan Pilkey said on April 22, 1992, "It's a basic right of people in this province of ours to be guaranteed public safety." He went on to say, "It is the responsibility of this government to ensure that this very right is in fact protected."

Our government has been doing that over the past couple of years. The Solicitor General has made a number of changes in police services, including the governance, the provision of services and the funding of those services. The governance and funding issues have been debated for many years, with no resolution. Through the Who Does What exercises we were able to realign the services and provide the ability for municipalities to become completely responsible for the provision of municipal policing, or in fact all policing.

Through Bill 105 the province has changed the makeup of police services boards, putting them under municipal jurisdiction. The policing has already been provided by our urban municipalities; the changes made in Bill 105 relate more to their control over the money they've been spending in the past. But the other major change is to rural policing in Ontario, which has in the past been provided by the OPP and put on the provincial tax rolls, provided by the income tax of the province. Bill 105 deals with these inequities.

It also allows the municipalities to provide police services in the most appropriate manner for their purposes. Rural municipalities which have been getting OPP protection will have the option of contracting with the Ontario Provincial Police, with other municipal police forces in their area, or they can set up their own police force or jointly with other municipalities. This is where I see the need for provincial standards.

As the municipalities put out for pricing for the OPP protection they wish to contract for, the OPP will put forward a price based on the present expenditure and the present level of service the OPP has been providing. That will be deemed to be the appropriate level of service, which in the past has been set by the province.

When the municipalities receive such a quote, they may deem it inappropriate or, the price being too high, under the bill they may look at other options -- to contract out to other municipalities or to set up their own police force -- but they will have no standard on which to base their decision. If another police force puts forward a tender, there will be no way to measure the adequacy of policing as it relates to the two contracts, so I feel they will be making a decision based strictly on price, not on the adequacy of service. Bill 105 includes a provision for all municipalities to provide "adequate" policing, but there is no definition of what would be considered adequate.

It may be quite easy to suggest that the adequacy is what they are presently getting, but I think there would be many definitions of what would be considered adequate in different municipalities.

I've received a number of items of correspondence from constituents in my riding who believe that the present OPP protection is not adequate. This discussion or this complaint has not just started recently; it has been going on for some time. As I was putting forward this resolution, I went through a number of Hansards, and there have been a number of discussions over the years. Particularly in 1992, I read from the former Solicitor General's comments as to the government being criticized for not providing adequate OPP protection, yet the law was that that is what we were doing.

I think it's very difficult to define adequacy, and I believe with this resolution we will provide the opportunity to actually define the level of service and the type of service that must be provided across the province.

I also think it's very important in the resolution that it is not done through the mandate of the provincial government, that they just force these standards upon municipalities. I think it's very important that the ministry consult with municipalities, with the police stakeholders and with the public as to what would be deemed to be adequate.

I would point out that I have a letter that was sent to me a number of months ago. It was drafted by a local committee on community policing, and it was sent to point out what they deemed to be the inadequacy of policing as it presently stands and their wish that the government would do something about that. I would just like to highlight a few of the items that are in this letter.

The first item is: "I would like to remind you that one election promise of Premier Harris was preservation of law and order.... The most important issue and the one which needs immediate attention is the preservation of law and order, to re-establish civility in our lives. Those living in rural areas are seeing less and less patrol cars and police officers. It is time for local and rural community policing" to be established.

It's a rather long letter. They go on and talk about the individual items we should be doing. They list some 17 different items. I don't propose to go through them all, but I think there are one or two that are rather important as they relate to this issue.

Two I would point out are: "Victims of break-ins and vandalism are repeatedly victimized, through lack of local patrols.... Most parents and the majority of the general public need to have restored to their lives a feeling of control, security and civility. They need to be listened to, heard and responded to by governments of all levels. The time has come to stop relying on the opinions of the so-called experts."

I would just like to read the last paragraph at the bottom of the letter. It says: "I await hearing about the discussions on these concerns listed and am hopeful that all members of Parliament will see the need for change has come. There are many frustrated victims of crime who out of frustration don't come forward to the police to submit a report due to the feeling nothing will be done about it. Criminals and the general public need to see the police in action, to feel that there is action and that something will be done."

I think it's rather important as I read this letter -- it is signed by a concerned citizen who also happens to be a municipal mayor. I think they too realize that the issue of protection and law enforcement is a very important issue and they think the government should move forward on that.

As I said when I started my presentation, I think it's very important that the Solicitor General look at the setting of provincial standards, as we look at all the other good changes he's making in this area, to make sure that the level of policing will be available to all citizens of the province, that it will not be restricted to certain areas.

Finally, I want to point out that this resolution in no way implies that the present level of municipal policing, which of course is 80% of the policing in the province, is of a substandard nature. This is being put forward strictly to make sure that as we go to municipal policing in all of rural and northern Ontario, the citizens of the province may count on the type of policing they've come to expect, or had hoped would be improved upon and not be reduced to the level some members of our municipal community may want to go to.

With that, I look forward to the support of all the members of the Legislature to put this forward to the ministry.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I find this resolution absolutely extraordinary. Here we have a parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Municipal Affairs asking this House to support a resolution that requests that the Solicitor General deal with municipal and police stakeholders to develop an overall policy.

It is unbelievable, first of all, that he would bring it here because surely to goodness this is what the Solicitor General, who's involved with policing in this province, should be doing right from the very beginning. What the heck is going on here? We have a member of the government in effect admitting that obviously those consultations aren't taking place right now or they're not taking place in an adequate manner. This is precisely what's going to happen, not only in the policing area but in many other areas as a result of the downloading this government has done to the municipal tax base.

Let's just remind the people of Ontario that as a result, and as part of the downloading package, $180 million that used to be paid by the province for community policing will now be paid by the local taxpayers. You can't have it both ways. You cannot expect the province to have control over all policing standards and at the same time have the cost of all policing now being paid for by the local taxpayers, particularly in those small rural municipalities that don't have the kind of tax base that can afford this kind of thing. They are now going to get a tax bill on an annual basis for the first time ever, starting January 1, 1998, demanding they pay X number of dollars for the kind of policing, OPP policing, that presumably they're going to get. Nobody seems to know how they're going to adjudicate as to who pays what in these rural areas. It's left up in the air and a lot of the local councils are extremely concerned about it.

I will not be supporting this resolution because I assume this kind of negotiation and consultation is already taking place between the Solicitor General and the policing authorities and the municipal stakeholders in this province. If it isn't, then I say to this government, get on with the job.

The provincial government ultimately is responsible for the good maintenance of law and order in this province. Let's not forget that although all governments over the last 20 or 30 years have talked about all these wonderful partnerships they have with local municipalities, municipalities legally and from a practical viewpoint are still creatures of the province. In other words, it's up to the province to determine what kind of services and level of services can be delivered at the local level.

I'm simply saying to you, Parliamentary Assistant, that I hope the impact of this resolution is already happening on an ongoing basis because the residents of Ontario are ill-served if it's not already happening.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I'm going to think about this in the next half-hour to determine whether I'm going to support the resolution because I'm so puzzled by it, quite frankly.

I agree in one sense with the member for Oxford, though. I don't trust his government either. I agree with you that with what's going on there may have to be standards for policing in rural communities. It may come to that. It's strange we've never had to do so up until now and you have to wonder what's triggering this concern among the government members, since it was never necessary before. To that extent, I agree with the member for Kingston and The Islands that there's something strange happening here. Does the member for Oxford fear that the Solicitor General and the Minister of Finance are not going to provide the level of funding to municipalities that will allow them to provide an adequate level of police services?

It's my understanding that there are some inconsistencies out there now in policing, with the OPP providing it, in some cases at no charge, in other cases with a charge and so forth. I understand the inconsistency of what's out there in the province now. I can remember struggling with that issue when we were in government as well, so I do understand the problem.

But I don't think most people feel that the level of policing is substandard at this point. Nobody ever has enough cruisers on the streets, or the police on the street that they'd like to see, but at the same time we'll never get to that degree because of the cost of doing so.

The member says that a municipality, if it's now receiving services by the OPP -- I don't want to misquote him; I think this is what he's saying -- can either pay for that service or make an arrangement to have their own police service or contract with another municipality, presumably a neighbouring municipality.

It's my understanding the Solicitor General's not allowing that. My information is that if a municipality tries to make an arrangement with a nearby municipality, an adjacent municipality, they're being told no, and I don't understand that. If I'm wrong I stand to be corrected, but that was what I and some others of my colleagues were led to believe, that this wasn't being allowed. I don't understand that at all. Perhaps the member for Oxford, if he has time in his wrapup, could shed some light on that because I'm concerned about it.

If you simply say that there must be a certain standard of police services, but you engage in downloading to the extent that municipalities have enormous difficulty -- there are lots of municipalities with very low levels of assessment -- if a municipality cannot provide the standard you think is appropriate and which may be appropriate, I might add, but they can't afford to do it without enormous tax increases at the local level, what moral authority do you have to set a standard? About the same level of moral authority the federal Liberal government has to impose health care standards on provinces if it's not providing the funding to do so.

That's what is bothering me about what your resolution is trying to do. I think it's a well-motivated resolution, I'm not questioning that, and I applaud the member for Oxford for bringing it forward, but I'm concerned about what this could lead to. It could lead to you people saying, the Harris government saying: "We're going to stick it to you in the form of downloading, but you've got to have standards that we will set. You'll have no say in those standards and you'll have no say in any money that comes from the province either, because it won't be coming at all."

You cannot have it both ways. You can't download to the degree you are and then think you have any moral authority to set standards at the municipal level. That's not appropriate. It's not fair to the municipalities and I don't think you can get away with that; I don't think you should get away with that.

I want to leave some time for my colleagues to speak on this. As I said at the beginning, I want to listen to this debate for a while and see whether I personally -- not that that will cause you a great deal of angst, I know -- will support this resolution.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): It's my pleasure to rise today on behalf of the Ministry of the Solicitor General to indicate our support for this resolution and to recommend it to the House. I don't want to repeat the excellent arguments made in favour of this resolution by the member for Oxford, but I do want to draw to the attention of the House that there's a reasonable consensus from many sources throughout the province that we should move in the direction he recommends, and I might indicate that the ministry is indeed moving in that direction.

NDP Solicitor General David Christopherson, Ottawa Citizen, December 1993:

"It is our intention to implement equitable police financing, which means all Ontarians...pay their fair share of policing, and right now, we don't have that.... We'd like to obviously do it as quickly as possible, because we'd like to institute fairness [and] clearly the province needs the revenue."

The 1994 Provincial Auditor's report recommendations:

"The Ministry," of the Solicitor General, "in conjunction with the OPP, should:

"More actively pursue eliminating inequities in the financing of municipal police services;

"Collect all payments due but still in arrears; and

"Ensure that all municipalities are consistently charged on the basis of full cost recovery."

The NDP government's response to 1994 auditor's report:

"The ministry is committed to the principle that everyone should pay their fair share of policing costs."

"The ministry has also identified the need to address the issue of municipal contracts being in arrears more effectively."

"Older municipal contracts that are not at full cost recovery will be addressed either in the context of equitable financing or a renegotiation."

A London Free Press editorial, November 14, 1996:

"The unfairness of small and rural communities getting policing at 100% provincial cost, through the OPP, has long been a bone of contention in Ontario. The [Crombie] panel recommends that smaller communities start paying municipal money towards policing, just as their larger counterparts do. That's only fair."

We've heard a couple of comments about standards. The Who Does What changes are of course a wash overall and a fund is available to help municipalities that have problems. I would like to make it quite clear to the House that it is our intention to ensure there is adequate policing throughout the province. That is the responsibility of the province and we are going to make sure that happens.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'm going to echo many of the sentiments that my colleague from Kingston and The Islands gave just a few minutes past. It is a very curious resolution that causes me some grave concern. I, like my colleague from Kingston and The Islands, would have expected that with the downloading of the full cost of police services to our rural municipalities -- I live in a rural municipality and was the clerk-treasurer of that municipality for 10 years. I'm very concerned about this downloading to the rural municipalities and the ability of the OPP to provide pertinent and appropriate policing with the revenues they're going to generate from this per household levy to our rural municipalities.

In northern Ontario, where we look towards the OPP to basically provide all our police service, when major incidents happen, with the highly technical detective work and the search teams, for instance, there's a lot of money there that I believe should be borne by the province as a whole and not just by our particular area.

For instance, we'll have many hunters and anglers come up from southern Ontario or from the United States. Incidents occur and major search-and-rescue operations have to be initiated. Is it fair that our small group of townships that are served by the Haileybury detachment of the OPP have to finance all that? There's a very big concern there about what the per capita or per household charge is going to be to our homes and to our farms. That's another point I want to make in a minute, about the other downloading of the farm tax rebate that I think is going to complicate this.

It's very important that our municipal officials not only be consulted, but that through Bill 105, which dictates this downloading of costs to our rural municipalities, they are on a police services board and that there be adequate representation from our municipalities, as people have had in towns that have provided their own police services in the past. It's important that there be representatives from all the rural municipalities on police services boards so that not only is there an initial consultation with municipal and police stakeholders to develop the standards, but there's ongoing monitoring of how the police are servicing our rural communities.

What really concerns me is that we do not, in the government's zeal to cut costs, underfinance our police services in Ontario. This is a concern of every citizen of this province, that our police and justice system have the resources required and necessary to do the job. Rural Ontario, while we all still love to view it with the pastoral images of the past, unfortunately has probably moved into the 21st century with everyone else in this province, and our crime rate is growing in rural Ontario as it is everywhere else. That's sad, because most of us used to keep our houses unlocked until a few years ago. Many of us no longer do that.

We have high crime rates also in rural Ontario, and there's no reason to try to hide that fact or pretend it isn't so. So our policing services are even more important today than they have ever been in rural Ontario. We need to make sure that the resources are adequate and that the policing standards are adequate for our area. It's very important that there be that partnership with our rural municipalities in some formalized way so that our local detachments know there's a body to be working with, like a police services board, and that on a monthly basis there can be a formalized way of communicating what the needs are for our communities. That's very important.

It's interesting that this particular downloading of police costs happens to our rural municipalities at the very same time as another substantive download to our rural municipalities, and that is that now municipalities are going to have to pay for the provincial government's share of the farm tax rebate. That means that many rural municipalities that substantively rely on the farm and farm land assessment for their revenues are now seeing a shortfall of 75% of those revenues. Of course, what the municipal councillors are going to have to do to make them up is raise the mill rate across the board on all classes of property. Therefore, the farmers' residences and all the other homes in the rural communities are going to have to pay much more local tax to make up for the 75% cut that has been given to the municipalities from the provincial government.

Rural households and families are going to be hit with two big double whammies at the same time -- actually three: The downloading of the farm tax rebate is going to substantially raise taxes on their home; the new per capita cost to provide policing in their community is going to be coming to hit; and then of course with all the new downloading responsibilities of these municipalities now, still paying for the health unit, the ambulance service and others, there are three major areas of cost that are going to have to be covered now by our rural homeowners.

We're going to see, starting next year and the year after, a tremendous increase in property taxation, especially in rural townships. So I certainly understand why the member, being from the government side, is probably pretty concerned about this, because the municipal officials, all the reeves and councillors and township administrators out there, are going to be very upset with the bills coming in if they don't have a say in how the police enforce the law in their community. It's going to be very, very important.

I'd say to the member that while I agree with the member for Kingston and The Islands that really this shouldn't be necessary, I can understand why you're concerned about this. I'd be concerned too, if I was on the government side, that we're downloading all this cost but I don't see a mechanism to make sure our community leaders are assured that the OPP are going to give adequate service or that they have the resources to give adequate service. That's going to be a big problem. You've identified a problem here, and I hope your resolution goes a bit of the way to try to solve it.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): In the few minutes I have to make comment, first of all, I received a letter from the member for Oxford asking for support of this resolution, and I'm curious as to why I should be supporting this resolution when you're talking about standardizing police services throughout the province.

In the area that I come from in northern Ontario there was an agreement, an understanding that was made by the former Conservative government back in the 1970s, that if the municipalities wanted to eliminate their municipal police forces, which happened in Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Hearst and then a few years ago at Kapuskasing, they would be supplied with OPP services.

Now they're in the process of looking at the downloading that is happening, not only are they going to be charged for the cost of policing but all the other services that the Who Does What panel is dumping on to municipalities, and they're concerned about how much they're going to have to increase their property taxes so that the Conservative government can give their 30% tax break. Reduce the cost of the provincial government under the Conservatives and the property taxes are going to have to go up to pay for that. Everybody understands exactly what is happening.

As far as standardizing is concerned, I'm sure that there are a lot of communities -- the municipal leaders or the unorganized areas -- that don't want necessarily the same type of policing that might happen in a community of 15,000 or 20,000 people. They have a population of 1,000 or 2,000, and if they see a cruiser around once in a while, they're happy with that type of service.

On the other hand, from what I can understand, the town of Hearst even by setting its own standards is going to have pay around $220 per household, starting on January 1. In other communities it's $200; in some it's $250. If the Solicitor General through this private member's resolution is saying that he's going to set the standards for all of the communities whether they be rural, unorganized or whatever in northern Ontario or rural southern Ontario, he's going to be also saying how much the municipalities are going to have to raise taxes or a head tax on the unorganized areas that have been receiving OPP services for the last number of years.

The way I look at the resolution, when you're setting standards and saying you want an adequate and effective policing in rural and northern Ontario, the local people should have a say on what services they're delivering and what they have been satisfied with over the last 20 years. As I say, a lot of them abandoned and got rid of their municipal police forces with the understanding that that would never come back again.

I understand that some municipalities that are close to larger municipalities that have their own municipal police force are being discouraged from working out agreements with those municipalities. They're saying, "No, you should be going to the OPP and buying these services rather than working out a cheaper deal with the larger municipalities."

Some municipal leaders are saying to me, "What does this mean with Bill 108 as far as sharing the costs of revenue coming in from court cases, fines and whatever are concerned? Is that going to mean that some municipalities are going to have to have a quota system, get out there and whip their OPP officers or their police force to say, `We need more revenue. Bring in more revenue because that way we don't have to raise the taxes as much'"? With the Solicitor General -- if this resolution was to pass -- setting the standards, he would be the one that would be forcing the municipalities to increase their property taxes and in turn just give the money away that's coming in as a 30% tax break to the wealthiest people.

While we're looking at private members' resolutions I'm a little bit wary: Is this actually a private member's resolution that is here, or is it a Mike Harris resolution that is to rake in extra revenue and force up property taxes so that we can give a bigger tax break to the wealthy people? I'm very uneasy as to who is writing that resolution. We see that the rules of the House are being changed and we see a private member saying, "I wrote up those rules," yet we find out now that it was coming directly from the government House leader and the Premier.

With that, I still haven't made up my mind whether I'm going to support this resolution. It's highly unlikely, but I will leave some time for my other colleague who wants to speak on this.

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak briefly this morning on this issue as well and, as could be expected, to support my colleague from Oxford in his effort to seek approval of this particular resolution.

I always find it remarkable the extent to which the member from Kingston and The islands goes to enforce his commitment to the status quo and his reluctance to change. I guess from an NDP perspective there's a viewpoint of apprehension this morning, but I know, with the former Solicitor General here today, that there was, in my mind at least, an indication, and I don't wish to imply motive or put words in his mouth, but I think there was a genuine understanding that there had to be a need to address how police financing was arrived at in this province, and one that needs to be addressed as we move into the future.

It certainly is an important and critical issue to rural residents, particularly residents in rural and northern Ontario, given the issues that will stem from the discussions surrounding the Who Does What debate and certainly the intentions to move to a municipally funded police system. I think it's critically important as well, not only to those who are delivering the services but to those people who are involved in the administration of those services, to find and have the opportunity to speak their mind in terms of what issues of concern are presenting themselves to them.

As well, I think it's critically important to the public at large because they are the ones -- and I think this is an issue that certainly extends beyond this government's assuming office, in terms of my experience as someone who has grown up in a rural area, someone who is familiar with the challenges confronting rural policing. That issue is at the forefront in the minds of many rural residents in terms of where we go and the expectation and delivery of service we can anticipate in the future.

It is appropriate to reflect upon Sir Robert Peel, who was the founder of the first modern police force in London, England, in 1829. He left us with the following thought: "The police are the public and the public are the police." I think that provides a very sound framework from which we can move forward to discuss this issue as it applies to establishing a municipally funded police system. As well, it provides us a framework that addresses the type of changed environment we are in. This whole issue, in my mind, this resolution being advanced by my friend and colleague from Oxford is certainly an important first step to addressing a number of issues applicable to policing in general.

This first step must, in my mind, be accompanied by issues such as structure and organization, police function, governance and the ability to measure the adequacy of police services in this province. I think it's important to remember as well that about 83% of Ontario's population are policed by municipal or regional forces, about 2% of our population are currently served under contract with the Ontario Provincial Police force and about 15%, or about 576 municipalities in this province, are provided with police services at no cost to the municipality.

This is really the group or sector that the member's resolution is being sensitive to. I think it's important that we look at that, but not necessarily in isolation of policing issues in general. In fact, I am very confident that the Solicitor General himself has a sound understanding of the changed environment that we're in, the expectations that we're having of municipal partners with respect to this particular issue.

I know and am certainly pleased about the time he has given to county officials from both Middlesex and Elgin counties, the opportunity for them to sit down with the Solicitor General and provide an overview of their thoughts, concerns and opportunities with respect to assuming and being involved in a municipally funded police system. That dialogue and consultation is very beneficial in terms of where we want to go and in ensuring that we have some positive conclusions around this issue.

As I mentioned earlier, as someone who has been raised in a rural community and represents a predominantly rural riding, this issue certainly is at the forefront for many constituents in Middlesex and in other rural areas. I think at times, as the member for Oxford has emphasized, there is a degree of uncertainty that presently exists with respect to the type of service people can expect.

There is a degree of apprehension to the extent that in many cases crimes are simply going unreported because there is concern that the nature of those crimes won't be investigated in a timely manner. There is a degree of discomfort there at present. It's something that certainly needs to be addressed and can be addressed in the context of revisiting how services are financed and the other functions that I alluded to earlier.

In January 1996 I had the opportunity to host a public forum in my own riding on issues surrounding rural policing matters. Some 300 people attended that particular meeting, and I think it was evident at that time that there was concern. There was certainly a desire to see new opportunities pursued with respect to how we're financing police services and where we want to go in the future.


That meeting certainly provided a basis for me to gather a sound understanding of those concerns locally, and I have taken full opportunity of advancing those concerns to the Solicitor General. As I said, I am fully confident that the Solicitor General understands the nature and concerns of residents, as well as those individuals who are administering police services in the province.

As well, I've taken the opportunity to participate in a ride-along program with OPP officers. I think it's important to have an understanding of the very issues they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis: the distance, the challenges they face with respect to responding to incidents. That's provided me with a sound background in terms of some of the issues that need to be addressed as we move into this discussion.

As well, it's important to realize that the Solicitor General has moved to examine and review police services in Ontario. The discussion paper that was released in May of last year provides a strong framework from which we can work to address the issues that the member for Oxford has raised. Certainly I think this type of framework provides an action plan that facilitates dialogue. It facilitates meetings between county representatives, as I've alluded to. It provides a framework for local public meetings, and I think it certainly provides strength to the resolution proposed by my friend and colleague from Oxford.

In conclusion, I would simply say that I'm obviously supportive of this resolution. It's very near and dear to the hearts of many of my constituents in Middlesex. I'm supportive of my colleague's goals to seek fair and proper provincial standards and an appropriate standard or level of protection so that all residents receive an adequate level of protection in the province. I think that's what, by and large, many residents are looking for. They want to understand the ground rules. They want to understand what they can expect from police services in this province.

In conclusion, I'd simply say that I think the resolution is indicative of the expectations of municipal leaders to provide that framework, to provide an element of fairness. It meets the expectations of law enforcement officials. But most importantly, the resolution goes a long way to providing adequate direction so that the residents, rural and northern residents and particularly residents in Middlesex county, have a clear understanding that the issues that are of concern to them are being appropriately addressed by the Solicitor General.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): An interesting resolution, to say the least. The member opposite is trying to bring in a resolution that would indeed put the province in a fairly interesting position. As has been mentioned before, simply put, the provincial government is cutting transfer dollars to municipal governments, which is going to affect policing.

I know in the city of Timmins the police services commission and the council have to deal with how you operate a municipal police force with fewer dollars. One of the things they're actually looking at is merging the Timmins city police in with the Ontario Provincial Police. At the same time, the Ontario Provincial Police have been having some difficult times over the last number of years. In fact, if you go to communities like, I would imagine, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Matheson, many of the communities that are serviced by the Ontario Provincial Police, you've been seeing less and less of an OPP presence in those communities because of budget cuts and a whole bunch of other issues as far as how the OPP have been affected by what's been going on over the past number of years.

What the government member is asking here is that we put in place some sort of mechanism to make sure there are standards that are followed when it comes to community policing. I think specifically what he's getting at is that he's trying, in the case of rural Ontario, to make sure we have adequate policing. I'd say to the member across the way, one of the first things you've got to do if you want to make sure there's adequate policing is to support police budgets.

Let's cut to the chase here. The government has an agenda, and that agenda is to cut expenses in Ontario by some $9 billion over the life of their government. You can't do that without affecting essential services. If you take a look at what's happened in fire services and you look at what's happening in police services, those particular services are being affected by the budget cuts. The member can't have it both ways. You can't on the one hand stand on a ticket of the Common Sense Revolution and of Mike Harris and the Conservative government saying that you want to have all these cuts and in that same document say you're not going to affect essential services and on the other hand, once you're in government, ask for these kinds of resolutions, because it is by way of your cuts and by way of the policies of this government that community policing is being affected.

The only thing I'll say in conclusion -- I've only got a couple of minutes and I just want to take the chance to make this point: Government has a role and a responsibility in the communities across Ontario, and one of the things this government doesn't seem to understand is how important a role government should play. They're trying to make people believe that government is a bad and an evil thing and that if we remove government entirely, we'll all be the better for it. Well, that's what government is all about. Government is about providing policing to our communities. It's about making sure we have fire services in case of fire emergencies, making sure our roads are properly maintained, and in some cases, where traffic warrants, increasing roads. It's about making sure we have health care, all those services the public depend on.

When you have a government such as this one that does not believe in government, campaigns against it and says to people, "Government is an evil, terrible thing, and we need to get out of the lives of people," this is the cost you pay once you start implementing that agenda. The services that are affected aren't some airy-fairy services that people never hear about and never think they're going to get affected by; they are services like the police.

It's about making our communities safe. If you don't have the dollars to support municipal police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police, and coupled with that you have economic terrorism going on in the province by some of your policies, you will start having people living in communities feeling less safe as time goes on. If on the one hand you don't have proper policies to support people economically and on the other hand you don't support the police adequately, the security in our communities is going to deteriorate.

I think this is a sign of things to come. The parliamentary assistant recognizes that the policies of his government are going to affect community safety and he's asking that some sort of standards be put in place so that when all of these cuts come to bear on municipalities, municipalities take on more and more of the responsibility of the provincial government. I say to the parliamentary assistant, you can't have it both ways. I haven't got a problem with your resolution and what you're trying to do, but I want you to understand that the reason you're having to bring this resolution forward, in my opinion, is the cuts that are happening with your government. You, sir, don't trust your own government. I think that says a lot about this government.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I'm pleased to stand today in support of this resolution by Mr Hardeman, my neighbour in the adjoining county of Oxford. I'm aware of some of the policing problems in Oxford and another neighbouring county, Elgin, as well as my area of Haldimand-Norfolk. I also represent the town of Tillsonburg, which is in Oxford county.

This resolution "requests the Solicitor General consult with municipal and police stakeholders to develop standards to ensure that residents of rural areas of the province of Ontario receive adequate and effective police service to protect their communities."

The choice of a structure of policing in a particular community is a local decision. It's made based on the public safety needs of the community being served. I feel this resolution is timely for those people in my area, the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk. Right now this area is undergoing a review of police services in order to determine if services should be delivered region-wide by the Haldimand-Norfolk region or by the OPP. Currently urban areas are covered by the regional police, headquartered in Townsend. OPP services are provided for rural areas based out of two detachments in Cayuga and Simcoe.

While the debate is over service and which service will provide the lowest-cost policing, uppermost in people's minds is the quality of service, especially emergency services they may receive, to achieve the best protection. Indeed, emergency service, whether it's fire, ambulance or police, is on the minds of rural residents, as the perception of those in rural areas is that sometimes we feel we may not be receiving the same level of service that our city and urban counterparts may be benefiting from.

There are inequities in funding and service which currently exist across the province. There is an inherent unfairness in that many communities receive services through the provincially funded OPP while at the same time other communities are serviced through municipally operated services funded through property tax. It is of course reasonable that all municipalities pay for the cost of policing, and again, in their own community, through their municipal property taxes. At this time, 576 municipalities do not pay directly for their local policing, while their neighbours are paying their fair share.


With respect to this resolution, I feel it goes hand in glove with the direction which has been taken by the Solicitor General and this government. On December 21, 1995, the Solicitor General announced a comprehensive review of police services which focused on how police services are structured, financed and governed.

What's to prevent reductions of police budgets and reducing police service delivery if municipalities are given control of the budget? First of all, local taxpayers decide; they inform their municipal council how much policing is enough. Second, the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services will ensure both adequate and effective police services are provided. The commission can determine budget disputes between police service boards and councils after a hearing.

In addition, the Solicitor General will develop regulations for adequacy standards. To ensure all Ontarians have adequate policing, five core functions have been identified: crime prevention, law enforcement, emergency response, assistance to victims and maintenance of public order.

This resolution, in my mind, clearly identifies the need for standards and regulation which this government will implement. It is our duty as legislators to provide regulation for standard of service which can be applied province-wide. It's what our constituents expect of us. This resolution addresses that point accurately and I will say eloquently. I'm honoured to have my name stand in support of this resolution.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): This resolution has already been termed curious and is one that we have a lot of concern about in terms of what Mike Harris is actually trying to do when we talk about the downloading on municipalities, and now we have a private member coming forth talking about standards. First of all, we find out there's going to be downloading, but now they're talking about standards that go along with the downloading to municipalities that's going to occur. It's something to be concerned about.

In rural northern Ontario we have many unorganized territories but we also have many communities that are unique in terms of their policing needs. One community will differ from another in very many ways. Some communities will have an influx of people from the north into their communities at various times. Other communities throughout the north will have an influx of tourists. At that point they of course need more policing, more services. Taking any kind of power away from those local police boards, the boards that see the uniqueness of their particular community, is a little bit disturbing and something I'm truly concerned about.

The member for Renfrew North asked the Solicitor General not too long ago about policing in areas such as provincial parks and who will pay the bill, who will pay for those policing needs and for any emergencies that might occur in those large areas of the province. He really didn't get a definite answer, but I think through this resolution we're beginning to see that this government is going to develop the standards but put the bill down to what Mike Harris always referred to as being only the one taxpayer, that of course being the taxpayer in the municipalities, who is going to be responsible through this resolution for coming up with the particular standards that are outlined here to ensure that residents receive adequate policing.

I go back to that user fee. Mike Harris at one time, in the Common Sense Revolution, said, "No new user fees." What we're seeing here is in essence a user fee coming through the back door and a very curious resolution as to where it is going, what it is going to do in terms of the needs of that local taxpayer.

Some of the other members have referred to it already as being a way that this government is going to finance that 30% income tax reduction. They can say at the end of it all, "We did what we were supposed to do; don't worry about your tax bill," which has been raised some percentage at the local level because you have to cover costs such as this that have been downloaded on the municipalities.

I go back to the original point in terms of the uniqueness of not only the unorganized territories throughout northern Ontario but the uniqueness of individual municipalities. I've given examples of those that face different circumstances at different times of the year, whether it be an influx of a large percentage population because of the tourist season, whether it be an influx at certain times of the year because of transient traffic coming in from the north. They know their needs and they know what they are going to need in terms of services during those particular times of the year. I think it's the local police board that is going to have to determine the standards that are asked of them by the local population and asked of them for those very unique and special circumstances that they face throughout the entire year.

I'm going to have trouble supporting this resolution. I will not be supporting it for those very facts that I've stated.

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

Mr Hardeman: Thank you to all the members who spoke to the motion. I appreciate those who spoke in support of the motion and recognize that the intent of the motion was to provide the consultative process with which the Solicitor General could approach the issue of providing adequate policing throughout the province.

It's very important to recognize, as the members across the aisle were suggesting, that the needs in northern Ontario as they relate to adequacy may be different than the needs in southwestern Ontario or in the urban centres. I appreciate their concern but I would point out that I think the process of consultation with the parties involved is the only way to reach those standards that the residents of the province have a right to expect.

I appreciate the comments from the last speaker as they relate to the government recognizing that there is only one taxpayer. The issue becomes more and more important that we provide the best possible service to that taxpayer that we can for the dollars that are available. I would point out that presently, as was mentioned by the member for Middlesex, 82% of provincial residents pay for policing out of their property tax and it was fair that the whole province does that.

I think this provides the opportunity, as we look at the realignment of all the provincial and municipal services, to come to an equitable delivery of those services, that we now look at the policing issues and put them in as part of that package. I think this is the appropriate time to come to that fairness that not only this government but previous governments have pointed out in this Legislature was needed.

I thank them for the suggestions and I look forward to their support to the resolution.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 81 standing in the name of Mrs Ross. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mrs Ross has moved second reading of Bill 132. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Pursuant to standing order 94(k), the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): Mr Speaker, can I ask that it be referred to the Legislative Assembly committee?

The Deputy Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We'll now deal with ballot item number 82 standing in the name of Mr Hardeman. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Hardeman has moved private member's notice of motion number 56. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

All matters relating to private members' public business having been completed, I do now leave the chair. The House will resume at 1:30 of the clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1159 to 1333.



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I rise today to congratulate the Minister of Health on a partial return to sanity. In this respect, the minister four weeks ago took the only program there was to help displaced hospital workers -- this minister at an earlier date claimed not even to know of a single nurse who had been laid off under his administration, but thousands have been -- and cancelled it summarily. He left hundreds of people who had been given separation agreements from hospitals and so on in the lurch. He said at that time that something else would happen for them, that the hospitals could handle it.

As per many of the initiatives this government has tried in the field of health care, it simply didn't work. Just like the doctor deal, the minister has now had to reverse himself. The HSTAP program has at least partially been left to continue to make up for the mistake the minister has made. The minister has seen part of the error of his ways and has been willing to recant.

We congratulate him for reinstating at least part of the HSTAP program. While this will help 500 workers who were left high and dry by the minister's actions, it doesn't help hundreds more who had yet to apply for the program, and people in public health fields and other fields who have been subject to the downsizing initiated by this government.

The next time the minister puts his programs under examination, we would wish for him not to just shoot first and ask questions later, but to listen to the people, particularly the people in the health system, before he pulls out his gun.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Some would see the community of Ontario as the sum total of all the year-end financial reports of corporations, organizations and businesses. Others, however, see it as much more than that. Ontario is a conglomerate of communities and neighbourhoods of people, wonderful neighbourhoods and wonderful people striving to be the best they can be.

In those communities from time to time, among the literally thousands who give leadership and volunteer their time and energy, we centre out a particularly outstanding person. In Sault Ste Marie next week -- Tuesday, June 10, to be exact -- my community will be honouring, with a special benefit dinner, the contribution of Doris Silk.

To quote from a letter from the Lung Association, for which Doris works:

"Doris Silk is the epitome of a volunteer. If it needs doing, she does it; if she thinks you might need her, she calls. Doris really cares for her community and has given countless hours of her time for many great causes.... Her care and concern for her community is admirable and she sets a wonderful example for others to follow."

The first time I met Doris was on the bus on People's Road. How prophetic that was and in keeping with the theme that knits her life together.

Today, with the thousands of people in Sault Ste Marie who have benefitted from the efforts of Doris Silk, I say, Doris, thank you very much.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): On June 6, 1944, the greatest armada ever assembled sailed from Britain to France to begin the liberation of Europe from the Third Reich. More than 30,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen, including many fine young men from Ontario, were directly involved in the largest single invasion of the Second World War, D-Day. Too many never returned.

On Christmas Day 1941, Hong Kong fell to the imperial forces of Japan. Most of the brave young Canadians stationed there were captured and sent to concentration camps. These prisoners of war were subjected to the most horrific conditions, including slave labour, starvation and torture. Many perished. Those who survived will never forget the unspeakable acts of cruelty inflicted upon them.

This Sunday, June 8, 1997, many of the dwindling number of war veterans in my riding of Simcoe Centre will gather at the cenotaph in Barrie to mark the 53rd anniversary of D-Day. They will also honour the veterans of the fall of Hong Kong. I will join them and pause to reflect on their great sacrifice, a sacrifice that helped preserve the freedom and democracy we all enjoy today.

I ask all members to pause now in a moment of silence to remember and honour those brave souls who sacrificed so much and asked so little in return.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): My statement is addressed to the minister responsible for seniors' issues. I am holding up the seniors' information package which was provided by the former office for seniors' issues. The fact sheets included in this package proved an invaluable source of information and helped the seniors in our province keep up to date on the wide range of programs and services available to them.

This package was last updated in 1995. You have now been holding the position of responsibility for seniors for the last nine months. Minister, I'm asking you to update this seniors' information package so that seniors can be helped to be well informed about the programs and services available to them.

Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): It's the least he can do.

Mr Sergio: Absolutely the least he can do.

Failing to do that, you are not being responsive to the needs of the growing older population and you're not ensuring that seniors' interests are well served. Seniors need and ask to be kept informed. Many are poor and don't know where to get help. Seniors want to be independent and not to have to rely on others for information on services.

Minister, the seniors of Ontario are your only interest group, your only constituent group. Do the right thing, update the package and provide the necessary information and the correct information for seniors to rely on.



Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Yesterday the Minister of the Environment announced what he called a "student-led air quality initiative" that will get students involved in monitoring air quality. Now let me be absolutely clear: I'm entirely in favour of environmental education and believe it should be an integral part of the education curriculum. What concerns me is that this minister is using students as a smokescreen for Mike Harris' cutting and slashing of the environmental protection Ontarians have come to expect.

The minister went on to say that he hoped this initiative would "help the public better understand air quality issues." Frankly, that's insulting. The public understands full well that every summer a cloud of brown smog will hang in the air over much of Ontario. They know this is bad for their family's health and they're very aware that your cuts to monitoring and enforcement staff in your ministry aren't going to help that one bit. We continue to wait for vehicle emissions testing, which I, Pollution Probe and others have been calling on for quite some time now.

Yes, let's get young people involved in environmental issues, but let's be equally sure that government holds up its end of the bargain and exercises its responsibility to protect Ontario families from deadly air pollution which, as the minister himself said, takes 1,800 lives annually in our province.


Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): A constituent in my riding of Durham-York has been elected president of Resorts Ontario, which represents 220 resorts in southern Ontario and the near north. Hugh Sibbald the 37-year-old vice-president of the Briars Resort in Jacksons Point, takes over for a two-year term at the helm of Resorts Ontario. He follows in the footsteps of his father, John Sibbald, who served in the post in 1966 and is the association's current honorary president.

Hugh Sibbald and the Orillia-based Resorts Ontario are dedicated to the tourism industry. Tourism is one of the largest industries in Ontario. Tourism generates more than $12 billion in revenue annually. Tourism attracts more than three million visitors. Tourism is also the largest employer of young people in this province.

Hugh Sibbald recognizes the numerous challenges he faces during his two years as president of Resorts Ontario. They include educating Americans about what Ontario has to offer and the exceptional value of their tourism dollar; bringing all the disparate groups associated with tourism together; and making the public aware of how important tourism is to the Ontario economy.

I want to congratulate Hugh Sibbald and Resorts Ontario. The tourism industry is made up of many pieces of an intricate puzzle. Each interlocks to create an attractive package to visitors.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): People in Ontario thought they had seen everything that could be done by this Minister of the Environment in his dismantling of the ministry over the past year. What a shock is the speech that the minister gave this morning at the Delta Chelsea hotel in Toronto. The great brainwave in 1997 in Ontario is that the minister is now considering implementing something called -- and you won't believe this -- an emission trading pilot project in Ontario.

What that means is that companies now will be given so many points to pollute. You get up to 100 points to pollute the environment. Once you've exceeded your 100 points of pollution, instead of getting fined or instead of the ministry cracking down, you can buy more points from a neighbouring company that, as a good corporate citizen, doesn't pollute. Therefore, you keep polluting and you simply trade points.

It's an American system that frankly has failed. It is a system that is in place because there's no enforcement, there are no standards. It's equivalent to saying that once you've used up your 15 demerit points for bad driving, all you do is buy five or 10 points from a friend of yours who is a good driver and then you keep driving recklessly, speeding, going through stoplights, through stop signs. It is the exact same thing this minister is proposing. It is totally outrageous. It is bizarre.

I am not sure where Mr Sterling's coming off on this. He is now going to have 60 days to react. I ask the Premier, I ask the Minister to reconsider this stupid, outrageous idea. You don't trade emission points; you go after polluters. You don't simply allow them to buy --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Statements. Member for Hamilton Centre.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Yesterday, the government's Health Services Restructuring Commission landed in the community of Hamilton-Wentworth and sent a shiver down the collective spine of everyone in the community as we face the possibility of losing one or two of our acute care hospitals.

With regard to this, I'd like to make three points today:

First, there's absolutely no need for this commission to roll into Hamilton and shut down a hospital. We have a local plan, developed locally with the input of everyone in the medical community and in the social services community, that allows us to keep our acute care hospitals as well as meet the fiscal demands and pressures this government has forced upon them.

Second, the government continues to say: "It's the commission that's shutting down these hospitals, not us. It's the commission." The people in Hamilton-Wentworth know clearly this commission was created under Bill 26, the omnibus bill. That's the government's bill. They appointed these commissioners, they're accountable and the four local Tories in Hamilton-Wentworth, the four Tory MPPs, are accountable for the decisions of this commission just as much as that health minister and we're going to hold them accountable.

Third, I want to read into the record a quote from an interview with the Hamilton Spectator editorial board from Mark Rochon who is the executive director of the Health Services Restructuring Commission: "Hospital restructuring without reinvestment will be in significant difficulty. Without reinvestment you don't have restructuring -- you've just flattened the system."


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending the annual provincial mine rescue competition held this time in Windsor, Ontario, and of hosting the mine rescue competition awards banquet on behalf of the Minister of Labour, the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer.

This was a two-day event where 26 mine rescue teams and 28 equipment technicians made up from Ontario's 1,000 mine rescue volunteers participated. The competition involved real-life scenarios including smoke-filled rooms, simulated injuries and an eight-foot wall of fire.

The day was intense and showed just how vital the training and emergency preparedness are in dealing with mine disasters. We all owe a debt of gratitude to these miners who volunteer and put their own lives on the line to save mine workers and to ensure the continued safe operation of mines in Ontario.

Today I would like to recognize the special efforts of the provincial champions from Onaping Falconbridge Inc -- Fraser Strathcona. Team members were the affable team captain Val Buttazzoni, Brad Bastien, Norman Menaurd, Michel Aubin, Jim Lundrigan, Robert Jackson, Gaston Brosseau and Charlie Burton.

Once again, congratulations to all of those brave mine rescue personnel who participated in last weekend's competition and to all the other mine rescue volunteers in Ontario. I extend to you the respect and gratitude of all Ontarians for the contribution you have made to workplace safety. Keep up the good work.



Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): This morning I met with people with disabilities and their organizations to share with them our plans to create a new income support program for people with disabilities. The Ontario disability support program will move people with disabilities off the welfare system and provide them with greater opportunities for independence.

Ontario presently provides the highest level of disability support among Canadian provinces. People who are eligible would have their benefits protected under the new program.

In the Common Sense Revolution we said we would create a new and separate income support program for people with disabilities. We heard from people with disabilities that the current system doesn't meet their needs. We've listened to their concerns and we intend to implement their suggestions.

If the legislation is passed, the Ontario disability support program will provide an income support program designed to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. It will ensure that benefits will be protected if a job attempt fails. It will remove the requirements for people to endure unnecessary eligibility testing every one or two years. It will allow people with disabilities to keep more of their liquid assets and compensation awards and provide a higher limit on life insurance policies. It will also enable people to benefit more from gifts and inheritances so that families can provide a more secure future for their sons and daughters.

During our consultations with this community it was made very clear that many people with disabilities can and do want to work. They also told us they don't like labels. They want eligibility criteria that do not limit their opportunities by labelling them as permanently unemployable. The government intends to support them to secure jobs and to reach their potential.

The proposed system is designed with a number of features that would help people with disabilities take advantage of employment opportunities. For example, it would allow them to accept work without worrying about not having their benefits reinstated quickly if they cannot continue with the job.

The proposed program responds to the concerns of people with disabilities and represents significant improvements to income and employment supports. With the Ontario disability support program, our government is taking a leadership role in meeting the needs of people with disabilities.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I too was at this supposed announcement at Goodwill Industries this morning. It was certainly apparent that a number of people in the community of those with disabilities are looking forward to legislation.

When we asked yesterday in the House what was coming today, we were told, "There's no legislation coming," but what we had was more fanfare. We had a great big fanfare of an announcement to tell us, "No legislation is coming." I guess that was the announcement.

Instead, what we've got is a change. We don't know what the change is. We have individuals with disabilities who are waiting and who asked you via the media this morning, "How are the criteria going to change?" Minister, you refused to answer the question. The media asked you today: "How will it change? Will there be fewer people on the system once your legislation is passed or will there be more?" Again you refused to answer the question. So we can't help but think that today's fanfare at Goodwill Industries was exactly that: a smoke-and-mirrors operation intended to lull us into believing you're doing something more for the disabled community.

You've reflected on the Common Sense Revolution. May I remind the minister that you said to the disabled community that they would not be cut, that aid to the disabled would not be cut. In your first year as government you cut aid to the disabled. You also said in the Common Sense Revolution, "No new user fees." Minister, every individual, almost without exception, who is disabled often is also on some form of medication. These individuals have been paying user fees since your government took office, and that is a promise that you broke in your own Common Sense Revolution.

You didn't want to highlight for the House today the fact that you are planning to privatize the delivery of these employment supports for individuals with disabilities. In fact, in papers you presented this morning you said, "The proposed employment support system will be delivered by local service coordinators who will be selected through a competitive process based on their ability," etc.

Why didn't you mention today that you are going to subject individuals with disabilities to, and put all those support mechanisms through, a privatization scheme, so that the insurance industry, which today likely the only industry that might be able to qualify and compete to offer these services -- I don't know how comfortable the disabled community would feel working with people who are out to make a buck, because that is the bottom line when you talk about privatization.

We have to come back to the definition of "disabled." The minister very much avoided that question today and it's the one we've been asking from the beginning: How is the definition going to change? She said in papers released today that the new definition will cover "substantial as well as severe." That begs the question, what about those who are partially disabled? What about those who are struggling and would be considered marginally employable given a level of employment support?

If those individuals who are not substantially disabled can't jump over the bar in order to get in your system, they won't have any means to access the employment supports. You can show that those people who are disabled enough to qualify for benefits are the sole group that will be able to access the employment supports you introduced today. Those people who aren't disabled enough will never get over the bar you are raising in your new definition, so they cannot access those employment supports.

Minister, you talked today about finding savings of some $34 million, and that with those moneys you've found, you're going to reinvest in this system. My colleagues on this side understand what reinvestment means when you say it: It's not to be believed. You have a terrible history of reinvestment so far. In fact, you are not doing it, so it is not to be believed that $34 million will be found from your system. In fact, you will spend that money in only one way. You'll have fewer people on the system because your criteria will become so stringent that many individuals will never get over the bar you have raised to be classified as disabled and get into a program that would then be very worthwhile for these individuals.

Let us go back to the Common Sense Revolution. Mike Harris promised, "No new user fees." The community of disabled people has been paying user fees since your government took office. Minister, your Premier, Mike Harris, said, "No cuts to the disabled." Minister, in your first year of government you did cut aid to the disabled, so the minister has absolutely no credibility.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I believe very much in giving credit where credit is due. I think the announcement you have made today leads us down a path which has the potential of becoming one of the most significantly positive programs for persons with disabilities in Ontario.

I say that with some caution, of course, because at this point in time we've seen the description of what you intend to do, and as you realize, we've not seen the detail. We don't have the legislation in front of us. There are areas with which we have some grave concerns, and I think persons in the disability community also have concerns, to see how it comes out. But at this point, the direction of establishing a separate income support program for persons with disabilities is very positive. Upon the work done under the previous government in reviewing income support programs, this was one of the major initiatives our government felt was important, along with the establishment of a separate child benefit, which I don't see coming from your government, but that's something we can discuss on another day.

The intent, I think, is good. The kind of flexibility you're looking at building in that allows people who are marginally employable to move in and out of the support program where necessary without requalifying is also important. The kind of pre-employment and employment supports you're suggesting of course are absolutely necessary to make a program like this work.

Let me raise with you some areas of concern we will be watching very closely, though. I have to say, based on the track record of your government, there's a lot of suspicion. It's very surprising to us to see something we think we can agree with coming from your government, given all your actions in so many other areas.

Primarily, the eligibility criteria: It's very positive that you're grandparenting those who are already on the program, but in terms of those who have yet to come to this support program or have their eligibility considered, we worry about the definitions you will put in place. We worry about those people who have multiple health problems, a multiple number of disabilities, and perhaps literacy problems and others which in the past have made it very difficult for them to have a permanent relationship with the workforce. We fear that your eligibility criteria will preclude people like that from getting the supports and help they need and also make them subject to the kinds of sanctions that are in your workfare program in this province.

We also worry about your commitment to reinvestment. As you go about privatizing vocational rehabilitation services, you say those moneys will grow from the current $18 million to $35 million, but there's no mention of moneys we already see in the program, like the $27 million that's currently spent on supported employment and sheltered workshops, rehab services that are already provided by community agencies. In other areas, and I'll remind you of our debate around child care, we see you making grand promises about moneys you intend to spend and moneys that will be coming in the future, which disappear as subsequent budgets come down.

We see the smoke and mirrors and the shell game going on with different parts of budgets, so we really worry about your government's commitment to reinvestment, and to the parts of the budget you haven't mentioned that will be continued or will continue to grow, and whether or not they become part of a shell game simply to prop up your numbers on reinvestment.

There is much in here that has potential, Minister, on which we would like to work with you when we see your legislation, which we would like to see supporting those members of the disabled community who want to continue to have a relationship with the workplace and who want to continue to live a life independent and with dignity.


We think we can work together to support that, but it will really depend on your commitment to the kind of eligibility criteria and funding that are required and to the spirit of working in partnership with those people and helping people, as opposed to penalizing them, which we see under your workfare scheme and your approach to cutting benefits for social assistance recipients.

If this is a major turn in the direction of the government, if this is a change in your approach to dealing with the people of Ontario, to recognizing real need and trying to meet those needs, you will have the support of the New Democratic Party. If this is yet again another sham like we have seen with your promises not to cut hospitals, your promises to give people a hand up instead of a handout, promises in many other areas that you have broken, then you will see us fighting you tooth and nail.

We hope this is a turning point. We hope this is a positive step. We hope we will see very quickly your Premier live up to his promises to introduce an Ontarians with Disabilities Act, to address other issues of major concern to this very important community. If that is the case, you'll have our support. If not, we'll be there to remind you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members will be aware that there appears in today's Orders and Notices a notice of an opposition day standing in the name of Mr Sergio. 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 Orders and Notices.


Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I ask for unanimous consent to honour the presence of eight survivors of the Holocaust who came to the Legislature today to be honoured by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Ms Mushinski: I rise today on behalf of the government of Ontario and the people of this province to say a simple and heartfelt thank you. Milton Berger, Claire Silverman, Luba Smuschkowitz, Abie Bielak, Arnold Friedman, Jane Zeligman, Joe Kichler and Jean Kichler were honoured earlier this morning for their brave contribution to the struggle against hate and intolerance.

Each of these men and women suffered greatly as a result of discrimination and hate on a scale seldom seen. These eight individuals survived the horrors of the Holocaust, but it is for their work in reminding successive generations of the fate met by six million of their friends and loved ones that we honour them today.

I'm honoured to have this opportunity to join my colleagues in this House in recognizing the efforts of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem. On this solemn occasion, we have the opportunity to support their important work. We have an opportunity to help spread the message of tolerance and to renew our commitment to stamp out hatred and discrimination wherever it is found.

As my colleague the member for York Mills has said so eloquently in this House, this is the time for us to renew our common resolve and commitment to ensure that we never revisit the horrors of the Holocaust. After all, that is the message of Yad Vashem. We are all entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that future generations never forget.

I implore my fellow members with the powerful words of one writer: "We must learn from the lessons of the past. We must not remember today the hatreds of yesterday."

This province is made up of people from a multitude of backgrounds and beliefs, and we are in a unique position to benefit from the knowledge and convictions of the eight men and women being honoured here today. Their brave example reminds us that hate has no place in a civil society and that government has an obligation to support and enforce that conviction.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): Today, we join with the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem in honouring eight Jewish Holocaust survivors who lived through the unparalleled violence suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany.

Each year we commemorate Yom Hashoa, the day of remembrance of the Holocaust martyrs and heros, and remember the six million victims.

The number six million is so large and the enormity of the horror so great that it's difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the atrocities perpetrated in the name of a new order. But it's not difficult to identify with it when you put it down to individual terms and when you consider that of these six million who perished, approximately 1.5 million were children. Imagine, hundreds of thousands of children who never reached maturity and were not granted the privilege of living their lives, of dreaming, of loving, of playing and laughing. Their only crime: They were Jewish.

I was struck by the significance of this heinous period when at the Yad Vashem presentation this morning three beautiful children -- twins Lauren and Zoe, aged 7, and Ryan, aged 9 -- asked to pose with the Premier for a photograph. The three Kichler children were excited and laughing and exuded a confidence in their life and their future.

Their grandfather, Joe Kichler, was one of the honorees this morning. He had been an inmate in the Auschwitz concentration camp and was on Schindler's List and participated in the death march into Czechoslovakia. At that time and at that place, Zoe and Ryan and Lauren may not have survived.

Yet there are those revisionist proponents proclaiming that the Holocaust never happened. There's evidence of growing anti-Semitism -- cemetery desecrations and synagogue defacings -- all of it happening in an environment of supposed enlightenment, human rights and man's humanity to man. We owe it to the six million victims and to the ever-dwindling survivors of the Holocaust to be alert to all these threats, not only to those of the Jewish faith, but to all the members of our society.

We must always remember so that the world will never forget.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise to join my colleagues in first of all paying tribute to the eight survivors of the Holocaust who are with us today, and through them to all the survivors of this horrible tragedy, and in saying, as my colleagues have said, that it is crucial we continue to show that as a society and as a civilization we will never forget the tragedy that was the Holocaust. In remembering, we are best positioned to ensure that such events never occur again.

It is crucial that we do that and that we show that leadership as the politicians of the highest office in this province, because by setting that direction and showing that leadership, it will ensure that the actions I know are going on throughout our society -- and particularly, I want to note, with our young people and among our young people in our schools. It will ensure they understand the horror that was the Holocaust, the fact that over six million people were killed simply because they were Jews.

That is something we all need to understand and, as I say, particularly our young people need to understand, in order to comprehend the thinking that could lead to such an action. It is in applauding the work that continues to go on by these eight individuals and all the others they represent here today that we join with all peoples in this province in condemning the Holocaust and in saying absolutely that we need to do our part to ensure we never forget.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): With us in the Speaker's gallery are the eight survivors of the Holocaust. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce them in the Legislature today. Pardon me if the pronunciations are less than perfect: Milton Berger, Claire Silverman, Luba Smuschkowitz, Abie Bielak, Arnold Friedman, Jane Zeligman, Joe Kichler and Jean Kichler. Welcome.




Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I have a question for the Premier. This weekend marks your government's second anniversary and your record proves that your Common Sense Revolution is nothing but a hoax.

You said classroom funding would be guaranteed. Now you're setting out to destroy the public education system. You said you wouldn't close hospitals. Now you're closing 22, with more to come. You said no cuts to the environment. You took $121 million from that ministry, a 42% decline in its budget.

You promised hundreds of thousands of new jobs. You are nowhere near your targets. Seniors are hurting, students are hurting, youth are hurting. You tried to make all of these people believe that you had the answers.

Premier, how can you possibly expect any of these people to believe you today?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think, by any objective measure, we have accomplished more in undoing the damage of your government and the NDP government over the last lost-decade period in this province than anyone thought achievable or possible.

We have moved quickly to undo that damage. We have turned a climate that was very negative. We were perceived inside and outside of Ontario as not a good place to invest or do business and we were paying the price for that. I can tell you that now the business community inside Ontario, across Canada and around the world are more and more saying Ontario is not only becoming a better place to invest in, to create jobs in, to live in and to work in, but is actually moving in a path that will be even better in 1997, better in 1998, better in 1999. They do not credit the lost decade of the NDP and the Liberal disastrous administration. They credit the Common Sense Revolution.

Mr Cordiano: The people of this province are beginning to see the real Mike Harris. They see you for what you really are, Mr Premier: insensitive, cold-hearted and now you're even arrogant. You're destroying public education, you're destroying public health and you're dismissing people in need. That's what the real story is.

You said no cuts to seniors or the disabled. You slapped on $225 million in new user fees. You said no cuts to the north. You've cut highway maintenance, you've cut community support, you've cut mining initiatives.

Premier, you made a solemn promise to the people of this province that you would resign if you didn't keep your promises. But here you are sitting in your seat today. Does your word today count for anything any more?

Hon Mr Harris: I have been criticized by some for moving too quickly. I've been criticized by others for doing what I said I would do. I think you will find most objective observers would say that no political leader in Ontario has consistently done what they said they were going to do more than this administration has done.

This has led, for example, to former NDP member Gary Malkowski today -- you talked about the disabled -- saying: "Thank you, Mr Harris. Thank you, Ontario PC government. This is the happiest day of my life. On behalf of disabled people in the province of Ontario, thank you for living up to the commitment. Thank you for having the courage to help the disabled people as they have not been helped in the previous 12 years." That's the kind of recognition we are getting.

Mr Cordiano: The Premier is deluding himself. He thinks he's telling people the truth, and in fact nothing could be further from the truth. He said he would not close hospitals and what do you have today? You have a Premier who's cutting hospitals in every community across this province.

Even your restructuring commission can't get its numbers right. You're cutting classrooms. You're cutting nurses. You're cutting the environment. You're stealing money from seniors and the disabled. You're doing everything to undermine public service in this province, Premier. You guaranteed funding for law enforcement. Then you cut police services; you cut the OPP; you cut court budgets. Premier, do you have any conscience left at all for the people of this province whom you're hurting most?

Hon Mr Harris: Let me make it clear that nobody pretended to undo the massive overspending that led to a $100-billion debt, the $11-billion deficit. We never said it would be easy. We said it would be difficult. We said that the total debt would in fact go up while we were getting it under control.

Quite frankly, I think you will find that in any objective measure of downsizing the public sector, as we said we would do, of making sure that in spending reductions we're cutting out the fat, not the services, not the programs, in the various ministries, we are accomplishing these objectives. I think most would say either today or in the future when the vision of a seamless health care delivery -- modern, efficient, new equipment, new technology -- is delivered on, an education system that rewards excellence, not how much money you spend in it, and a system of compassion for the needy that directs those dollars right to those --

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


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Your government this week brought in legislation that simply rolls over the rights of 700,000 people, and you did it with no consultation of any kind. Custodians and secretaries and others who work at our schools got caught in this move, and you're going to bring in your own attack on teachers next.

It is clear that no one is prepared to accept this kind of gutting of their rights, and I can tell you that no one who cares about public education is prepared to let you gut our school system. Minister, are you ready to declare war on absolutely everyone and create absolute chaos in this province just to ram through your agenda?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): In answer to the member opposite, no. In fact, I'm willing to work with everyone in the school sector to have a system of education in Ontario that delivers the best in terms of student achievement of any province in Canada. That's what we are doing and that's why we're making the changes that we're making.

Mrs McLeod: If this government was prepared to work with people, it wouldn't have to go down this road. If your government wasn't so determined to close hospitals, you wouldn't have to be attacking health care workers. If you weren't trying to take control of education so that you can gut the funding, you wouldn't be forcing through unworkable amalgamations and attacking custodians, secretaries, teachers and trustees. You really don't seem to care who gets hurt as you charge ahead. You certainly don't seem to care about public education. I believe you are deliberately setting up public education for failure and then you can step in with privatization to solve the problems you have created.

Minister, if you do care at all about education, will you lift the siege? Will you sit down and actually talk to the people who care about it and make it work so that we can avoid the chaos ahead?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member opposite talks about a setup for failure. Let me tell you about a setup for failure. A setup for failure might have been your government, which allowed a funding system that treated some of our students in Ontario as second-class citizens to go forward. That might have been a setup for failure. A government that failed to meet the curriculum needs of our students by having rigorous standards, by assessing them on a regular basis: That was a setup for failure. As a matter of fact, all of your policies and the policies of the previous government are the reasons why we have been failing our students, failing to meet their needs, failing to have them and their abilities go to the head of the class, and why our students are mired in the middle of the road in terms of the results from pan-Canadian international tests.

That is not good enough for this government, it's not good enough for the people of Ontario, and most particularly it's not good enough for the students of Ontario. That is why we're making these changes.


Mrs McLeod: Let's talk about what we know for a fact about what this minister has done. We know this minister has done nothing that actually benefits the needs of students, as much as he talks about that. We know this minister does care about finding a way to take $1 billion out of education. We know this minister has already cut $533 million and he has gutted junior kindergarten and adult education. We know that he has destroyed local decision-making in education and that he is now ready to declare war on education workers and on teachers. All of this hurts kids. None of it helps students.

Minister, you have said that change is about turning caterpillars into butterflies, and you said that if convincing the caterpillars to change doesn't work, you sometimes just have to run over them. You're clearly running over a lot of caterpillars, Minister: trustees, teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents and, in the end, students. How does it help students when you force through your changes and run over the people who make the system work?

Hon Mr Snobelen: As I expressed to the member opposite in her first question, we are very willing and want to work together with people in the education system in Ontario no matter what role they play. We have made changes to the governance of education, to lower the cost of bureaucracy and the cost of the politicians, some 1,900 politicians involved in education in the province of Ontario. We want to reduce the expenditure there.

We want to have a funding system so that we can meet the needs of every student in Ontario, so we don't have second-class students. We want to make sure that our curriculum is demanding so that our students are the best in Canada, not in the middle of the road. Those are the changes. Those are reasons for those changes. We are moving forward as quickly as we possibly can to have a school system that finally matches the abilities of our students, doesn't hold them back and doesn't hold them down.

Our only regret is these changes weren't brought in 10 years ago under your government, why it had to wait until now, why we failed those 10 years of students instead of being able to provide them with these services and with a program designed for them. I'm proud of our changes and they're for the students of Ontario.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Premier concerning a conflict of interest in the conduct of a minister's political staff. We understand that a company called Revenue Properties is bidding for a charity casino. We called Revenue Properties and were told that a Mr Paul Burns is working as a consultant to the company through Hill and Knowlton.

What is interesting here is that Mr Paul Burns used to work in the office of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations as a political staffer. That's the ministry that is designing and engineering the whole charity casino program. He resigned from that office five days before the request for proposals on charity casinos went out. Now he's working as an adviser to one of the companies who wants to bid.

Premier, don't you think this is improper? Don't you think it's improper that somebody takes part in the design --

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

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, and the minister can explain why.

The Speaker: Premier, you can't answer the question and then refer it. You know you have to answer the question now. Supplementary.


Mr Speaker: Member for Renfrew North, that is out of order. I would ask that you withdraw.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I would want to withdraw of course, Mr Speaker.

Mr Hampton: Premier, I'm alarmed by your attitude in these situations. We had your government House leader back in April come into the Legislature and say the government intended to pass legislation to safeguard the public interest, to ensure that people who work within the civil service or in ministers' offices on privatization schemes or on schemes such as the charity casinos would not then be able to leave the civil service or leave a political staff and go over to work for companies that they have been negotiating with and profit then from the government's activities. But that seems to be exactly what you're allowing here.

Someone who worked in the minister's office, who probably had intimate knowledge of the whole charity casino scheme, then leaves and now goes over to advise the private sector and he in effect makes money off your government's policies. The public interest loses, the private interest profits.

Do you support that? Can you possibly support that? I think it should be referred to the Integrity Commissioner today.

Hon Mr Harris: I know the minister would be pleased to respond.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): The leader of the third party is raising a good point. Mr Burns did leave our office prior to the release of the RFP, and I understand that Mr Burns had consulted the Integrity Commissioner at that point. He discussed his departure with the Integrity Commissioner, who advised him that he had no concerns as long as Mr Burns had left prior to the release of the RFP.

This whole process with the RFPs has always been intended to be a transparent and arm's-length process. Clearly our office is not involved with the specifics of the acceptance of the RFPs. Certainly we have no involvement with the selection. That's because it's supposed to be a transparent process.

There are some very important, very stringent provisions right in the RFP which I direct you to on page 19, which indicate that any proponent or any representative who makes any attempt to contact any of the following persons directly or indirectly with respect to the RFP will lead to disqualification, and there's a list.

Mr Hampton: I think we're seeing this government's standards. I think we're seeing that. It will be okay for someone to work on a privatization strategy, it will be okay for someone to work on a charity casino strategy, and then just before the critical moment it will be okay, under this government's standards, for that person to go over to the private sector and advise a private sector company as to how they may profit, how they may benefit from this government's policies. It is okay, according to this government's standards, that the public interest suffer and the private interest profit as a result of this government's policies.

This has happened in Great Britain. That's the tragedy here. In Great Britain under the Thatcher government, privatizations went on. Government officials then joined the private sector and made hundreds of millions of dollars at public expense. Your own House leader admits this is wrong. Your own House leader admits that you need to bring in legislation to protect the public interest. When are you going to do that? When are you going to put the public interest in front of the interests of your private friends?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I assume the leader of the third party was not expecting the answer we gave, in that he was suggesting we consult the Integrity Commissioner. These are not our standards as government; this is the standard of the Integrity Commissioner. As I said before, and I direct the leader of the third party to this again, Mr Burns consulted the Integrity Commissioner prior to taking any actions. You were suggesting we consult with him. That was already done.

Clearly there are severe penalties for any type of violation of these very stringent rules, including a clear disqualification of any proponent who attempts to speak about the RFP to any of these listed members. Surely if the criteria compromised the potential bidder, there really is no advantage here. But I draw once again attention to the fact that the leader of the third party suggested that the Integrity Commissioner be consulted. That was done. He said there was nothing wrong with the process.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My next question is for the Minister of Labour, but I would say to the government that you've got a real problem here if people are going to be allowed to profit through their experience in the government by advising private sector companies.

To the Minister of Labour, on Tuesday you introduced a bill that not only declares war on the public sector labour movement but will also take $25 million out of the pockets of some of the most vulnerable people in Ontario. I'm talking about the fact that you are doing away with the only program that helps workers who have lost their jobs, the wage protection program. You're doing away with the wage protection program, the only program that paid vacation pay and pay that was due to workers who have lost their jobs because the company has gone bankrupt or has moved to another location.

Minister, why are you picking on some of the most vulnerable workers in Ontario?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As you know, we were the only province in all of Canada to have the EWPP. We have determined that it is more appropriate that the employer debt should not be funded by the taxpayers. We have been attempting to work with ministers of labour from across Canada to encourage them to support us in asking the federal government to change the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, because we feel that unpaid wages and vacation pay should be first in line when there's a bankruptcy in front of the banks. I would encourage you to ask your colleagues in governments elsewhere to support us.

Mr Hampton: Maybe you can explain this to me. In 1995, when Epton Industries, in your home community, went bankrupt, when workers demanded a public inquiry, you were full of praise for the employee wage protection program. You thought it was great. You called it the best in Canada. You said that it was necessary to protect the wages workers were due when their company closes down, goes bankrupt, without paying their wages. Can you tell me what has changed between 1995, when it was the best program in Canada and you highly recommended it, and now?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you know, this program has not lived up to your expectations. When you introduced the program, you anticipated that the money that would be flowing out from the government would be recovered from employers. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Although we have paid out a substantial amount of money, we have been able to recover only --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Stiff the workers.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Hamilton Centre, I'm warning you to come to order.


The Speaker: Member for Cochrane North, I warn you to come to order as well.

Hon Mrs Witmer: We have been able to collect only about 10% of the money that was owed by employers. Unfortunately, we have determined that it should be the employers that are paying the wages and vacation pay owed. I would just say again to you, work with us to convince the federal government to change the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Mr Hampton: If that's your argument, then the way you would have proceeded is like this: You would have begun a public process to convince the federal government, and you would have wound down the wage protection program only after you had begun that process and it had started to show some possibilities of success.

This is plain and simple, and it's very clear. Your government has tax gifts for the likes of the chair of the Bank of Montreal, whose income is $3.9 million a year; you have tax gifts for him. You have tax gifts for every other corporate executive on Bay Street. But when it comes to workers who have lost their jobs because the company has gone bankrupt or closed their doors or moved out of the jurisdiction and has left unpaid wage bills behind, you have nothing. You're prepared to pick on some of the most vulnerable people in Ontario at the same time that you give your largess to your corporate friends on Bay Street. That's what's happening here. This is wrong. What are you going to do about it to fix it?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As you know, we were the only province in all of Canada to have such a program. In fact, it was not supported by NDP governments in either Saskatchewan or British Columbia. We have been working with them for the last year to ensure that the federal government is persuaded to change the act and make sure the employees have the first priority as to wages and vacation pay owed.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a question to the Premier. We have reached the second-year anniversary of your election, and we think it's time to review your fiscal performance.

Today Dominion Bond Rating Service issued a report card on the handling of the finances. They have refused to upgrade the province's credit rating. We still have the same credit rating as Bob Rae, two below the highest rating available for a province, and last week Standard and Poor's also refused to upgrade your credit rating.

Premier, when Bob Rae was given the same rating, you accused him of mismanaging the finances of the province. In light of these ratings, can the people of Ontario conclude that you too are mismanaging the finances of the province?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I know the Minister of Finance is anxious to answer this question.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): What the honourable member doesn't point out in the Dominion Bond Rating Service announcement today is:

"The ratings reflect the province's strong commitment to achieving its deficit targets, reduction of program spending to a more sustainable level, and a well-diversified economy that is now beginning to grow at a stronger pace. Other factors supportive of the rating include: (1) an improving business climate, (2) the third-lowest debt-to-GDP ratio...of the provinces..., (3) access to a variety of capital markets, (4) minimal exposure to foreign exchange risk on the province's debt.... The province is currently on track to meet its balanced budget objective by the year 2000-01."

Why didn't you add all those quotes when you asked your question?

Mr Kwinter: I'd like to ask the minister, why didn't you conclude the remarks that were made by the Dominion Bond Rating Service? Let me tell you what they said: "...implementation of the 30% personal income tax rate reduction increases the province's reliance on continuing strong economic growth...."

If there's a downturn in the economy, your plan is at risk. It also says: "...restructuring changes to health care, education, and municipal government responsibilities beginning in 1998" -- your mega-dumping scheme, are putting Ontario's finances at risk.

Now two independent, highly respected credit agencies have said that your financial plan for Ontario is not worthy of a credit rating higher than that of Bob Rae. Will you listen to Standard and Poor's and the Dominion Bond Rating Service, reconsider your tax cut and ensure that the mega-dumping does not further erode Ontario's credit rating?

Hon Mr Eves: I am concerned about the market rate at which the Ontario government can borrow money. If I might add, today Ontario is borrowing money at 16 basis points above similar Canada 10-year bonds.

When you were in government and had your AAA credit rating in 1990, you were borrowing at 54 basis points over government of Canada 10-year bonds. In 1989, when you had a AAA credit rating, you were borrowing at 50 basis points above Canada 10-year bonds. That's what the market thought of your government. That's what they thought of your ability to manage the finances of this province.

We're at the lowest level the province has ever been in its entire history. I go by what we can borrow money at, what the people internationally think of us, and they obviously think a lot more of us than they did of you and your government.



Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. I was dismayed to learn, and I hope that you will feel likewise, that Toronto could lose one of its biggest cultural events and tourism draws because the Metro police are saying they won't provide officers for the annual Caribana parade route.

I'm sure you know that last year Caribana drew over a million people to the Toronto area and generated business and tax dollars for both the city and the province. Obviously, if the Caribana parade were not to proceed, that would be a tremendous loss.

I would like to ask you to do something which won't cost you a dime but might in fact save the parade: Bring together the organizers of the Caribana event with the Metro police to try to resolve the impasse that seems to have been reached. Will you do that, Minister?

Hon Marilyn Mushinski (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation): Let me start off by saying that in the summer of 1995, my ministry advised all organizations, including the Caribbean Cultural Committee, that the government of Ontario would no longer provide funding for festivals.

In order to assist the Caribbean Cultural Committee with the transition towards greater sustainability, we approved $67,500 for long-term marketing initiatives. That was in keeping with the Metro chairman's task force report on the future of Caribana, which apparently the CCC chose largely to ignore.

I would suggest that if they wish to continue discussions with Metro, which did come up with a business plan to assist them to become more self-sufficient, they should do that.

Mr Silipo: I know that English is my second language, but I think I was very clear in what I asked the minister, and it wasn't to provide more money. I think you should provide more money but I'm not asking you that today. I'm asking you to do something, and I will repeat, that won't cost you a dime, which is to bring the parties together -- the police, the organizers of the event and anybody else who needs to be brought together -- to exercise some leadership to ensure that Metro and the province do not lose this great event, an event that is a source of pride not just for the black community but for the whole Metropolitan Toronto community and a great source of revenue to our tax coffers.

Minister, once again, will you bring the parties together to try to resolve the impasse that seems to have developed which may jeopardize the holding of this year's Caribana event?

Hon Ms Mushinski: It's my understanding that the parties have agreed to come together. It is my understanding further that they may even be meeting at this moment, as we speak.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): The area I represent has two very large universities, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, along with Conestoga College and many secondary institutions.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I need to know whom your question is to.

Mr Leadston: My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

For the young people in my area, but more important, for the men and women in universities, community colleges and secondary schools in Ontario, a great concern is summer employment. Could the honourable minister share with us what initiatives employers will be taking this summer to provide jobs for our young people?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): First of all, I'm very pleased to inform the House that we are seeing the most favourable summer job forecast in five years. I think that's a very important point.

Recent studies which surveyed employers in 23 Ontario locations found the following: Close to 85% of those locations surveyed are planning to increase hiring in June, July and August this year, and more than 60,000 net new jobs have been created in the past two months, as the Minister of Finance told us yesterday. I am confident there will be many more jobs created for students this summer. It's the unanimous view of private sector forecasters that this positive trend is going to continue into 1997 and 1998. That is good news for our young people.

Mr Leadston: Are there any other initiatives that we as members within our ridings or as representatives of government can take to assist young people in finding employment this summer?

Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary question, already our ministry has announced 3,000 summer jobs available for students. That is very good news for students. These jobs are going to be found all over the province.

Our government's job creation policy is to keep on working to cut deficits, cut taxes and also eliminate barriers to investment in this province. The recent budget provides an extra $6 million to support summer jobs for students. As a result of this, all of the foregoing, 40,000 students will get job experience this year, and that will provide them with good income for this summer.

This is only a beginning. Our government plans to maintain the good momentum in job creation that we have established.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): My question today is to the Solicitor General. I want to ask a question with regard to Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre and the events that took place last year during the strike. A number of people who worked at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre have been fired, as a result of charges, by the Ministry of the Solicitor General. I wonder if I could ask the Solicitor General: The people who were fired, sir, are they guilty?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think the member knows that I can't comment with respect to the guilt or innocence of any individual who is facing police charges. Their matters will be dealt with in due course through the courts and I'm not going to comment beyond that.

Mr North: I thank the minister for the comment. It's interesting. I have a copy of a letter of separation, I guess you would call it, to one of the people who worked at Elgin-Middlesex, and one of the paragraphs says:

"As indicated in the allegations provided to you, information obtained by ministry investigators indicates that excessive and uncontrolled force was used during the admission process and related events. In the absence of any evidence to refute these allegations, I find based on the balance of probabilities that the information presented to me to be substantiated."

What I want to ask you is this -- and this letter is signed by a gentleman named Mr Palmer, carbon copied to Mr McKerrell, your acting assistant deputy minister at this time. If you can't say whether or not they are guilty, and the gentleman sitting next to you, I assume, would say they are innocent until proven guilty, would you be kind enough to reinstate these people to their positions, on suspension with pay, until such time as they are actually convicted of a crime?

Hon Mr Runciman: I respect the member's concern for some of his constituents, but I think he's mixing apples and oranges. Initially his question dealt with police charges, which will be before the courts. The second issue, with respect to disciplinary action, was related to an internal investigation and the findings of that internal investigation justified, in the view of ministry personnel, that disciplinary action was warranted. The two cases are quite different. The disciplinary action was based on an internal investigation.

Mr North: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As a point of clarification, I guess --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): It can only be a point of order.

Mr North: I guess it's a point of order, Mr Speaker: The minister suggests that I'm trying to mix apples and oranges here. In fact I'm not trying to mix apples and oranges; I'm quoting from stationery from his ministry.

The Speaker: I appreciate that. That's probably not a point of clarification either. It's a point of debate and right now that's not a point of order.

Mr North: I'm not trying to debate.

The Speaker: I understand that, but maybe at a later date or in a further question period you would express those opinions. It's not a point of order. New question.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Maybe I could ask the Solicitor General and maybe he could answer this question. He's the top cop in the province. As you know, Solicitor General, the Caribana festival is a showcase parade that's in danger of being cancelled due to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force indicating they will not offer security support, as they do for every other parade in the city.

Caribana has been giving great cultural enrichment to this country for over 30 years. As well, it has provided hundreds of jobs to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors, making it the largest one-day festival of its kind in North America. According to Decima Research, the estimated revenue exceeds $200 million in the Metro Toronto area, with no other annual event drawing more visitors to Toronto hotels, restaurants and attractions. Over 750,000 people attend this celebration.

Is the minister aware of the situation, and if so, what are the minister's plans to ensure this successful festival is not placed in jeopardy due to the withdrawal of police support?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I'm not sure this is a question I should be responding to, but I will deal with the policing side of it.

I do not get involved with that sort of issue with respect to a decision made by a local force. The Caribana folks have an opportunity, as I understand they will be doing, of approaching the police services board and Metro council to ask for reconsideration and perhaps some better understanding with respect to the economic benefits, as you pointed out, so that the necessary accommodations can be reached to ensure the carnival and the parade proceed. Certainly I'm a strong supporter and the members of the government are strong supporters and we would like to see it proceed.

But I gather from press reports there are also some concerns with respect to a security report being available and meeting time lines with respect to having a security report provided to Metro police. If indeed the press reports are accurate, that has not occurred.

Mr Curling: I am surprised that you are only going by the press reports. You know that as of June 6 they were supposed to present their plan. June 6 is not here yet, Minister, and they are being cancelled before the plan has been provided.

Could you then report to the House on Monday as to the status of where the police are with this? Notwithstanding that, if they have not found a settlement, I am prepared to work along with you, the Caribana people and the police so we can have a resolution to this.

I pointed out the economic aspect of it so that you would understand what we are about to lose. It doesn't seem that the Minister of Citizenship understands that. I know Mr Saunderson, the Minister of Tourism, is understanding of that. Would you three get together and realize how important this is? If not, then Monday I am prepared to work with you and the police and the Caribana people to resolve this matter.

Hon Mr Runciman: I will review the appropriateness of the request.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. Earlier this week, the people of the city of Timmins, and I would say of all northeastern Ontario, learned through the Timmins Daily Press what we have understood for some time now was possibly to happen: that your government's cuts to the ONTC may result in the loss of service of the Ontario Northland train from Cochrane to the city of Toronto.

My question is simply this: Can you assure us and assure the people of northeastern Ontario that you will not allow the Northlander to stop services in northeastern Ontario?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank the member of the third party for the question. It's a good question. The ONTC has been looking at its own operations for some time, as he is well aware. It's governed by a board of directors who have been looking at all aspects of their operation, and they'll be issuing a report that the government will look at. I am sure they are taking that into consideration. I'd also like to remind him that that rail passenger service is heavily subsidized by both the provincial government and the federal government.

Mr Bisson: That's the point, Minister. The train runs because there's a subsidy from the province of Ontario. We know that you've cut that subsidy by $10 million, putting in jeopardy the service to communities from Cochrane to North Bay that rely on the train to get out of those communities into southern Ontario.

A year ago you shut down the only airline they had. Now you're just about to shut down the only rail service they have. At what point are you going to stand up for the people of northeastern Ontario and make sure there is some method of transportation for the people in those communities to come into Toronto or into southern Ontario?

I ask you again: Minister, will you stand up for the people of northeastern Ontario and assure us today that you will not allow the Northlander to stop services in northeastern Ontario?

Hon Mr Hodgson: If the member would check his facts, there has been no cut to the subsidy for the particular rail service he talks about.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Don't say that in this House. You cut that subsidy by $10 million.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Sudbury East.

New question.


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. A week ago I went to Scarborough's Volunteer Recognition Night. Volunteerism is alive and well in Scarborough. This well-attended event is in its 41st year.

Scarborough Mayor Frank Faubert, in his speech to volunteers, said that he was saddened by this, the last Scarborough Volunteer Recognition Night. He said that amalgamation will destroy such events. Minister, I don't believe people will stop volunteering just because the structure of municipal government is changing. How can we ensure that programs like this continue?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): That's probably the best question I've heard in the House today and I would like to thank my colleague from Scarborough for it. I think the only reason the mayor might be saddened is that he won't be there next year; there's a good chance of that.

I see absolutely no reason whatsoever why volunteers would not continue to be recognized and appreciated in the new unified city of Toronto. I'm sure the community councils and the neighbourhood committees will want to take an active interest in voluntarism. Most municipalities recognize their volunteers for the time and effort they put into very important projects, and I'm sure the new unified city of Toronto will continue to do so.

Mr Jim Brown: As you are well aware, volunteers are essential to any community. There are those naysayers who claim that volunteers will disappear next year --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I appreciate the differences of opinion on this, but it's important that we hear the question.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I want to hear it.

The Speaker: Well, I'm pleased about that. Let's hear it.

Mr Jim Brown: There are those naysayers who claim that volunteers will disappear next year as Scarborough becomes part of the unified Toronto. One Scarborough city councillor said amalgamation would cost kids; he stated that in a larger municipality fewer people would volunteer to ensure that programs and sports teams we presently enjoy would continue.

It is volunteers who make community life worthwhile. How can we ensure that people will still volunteer and that voluntarism will continue to flourish in a united Toronto?

Hon Mr Leach: Many of the naysayers my colleague the member for Scarborough West speaks of are right across the hall from us.

I can assure you that when the deputants came to the committees on the new unified city many of them stated that they would desire and intended to become involved to ensure that voluntarism remained a very high priority in the new unified city of Toronto. They absolutely guaranteed this government that they would do it. I have absolutely no doubt that the residents of all parts of Toronto, whether it's Etobicoke or Scarborough or the existing city of Toronto, will continue to stay involved in the very important volunteer work they do.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a real question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Some of your own Tory backbench MPPs are telling many municipal councils, including the councillors in Ottawa-Carleton, not to worry about the municipal forum because the government plans to delay municipal elections this year by a year. Would you come clean --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Do you know what, folks? I can't tell you how to answer and I can't tell them how to ask. It matters not. They can ask questions any way they please.


The Speaker: Member for Ottawa-Rideau, I can stop people from heckling. Please come to order.

Mr Gerretsen: Minister, will you come clean and make it clear today and guarantee that elections for municipal councils, regional councils, whether in unstructured areas or restructured areas, and school boards will be held this November clear across the province, including Ottawa-Carleton, including Hamilton-Wentworth and including Metro Toronto, and that the councils and boards that will be elected will serve their full three-year term? Will you guarantee that today?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I have to tell the member opposite that that's not quite as good a question as I had from my colleague in Scarborough, but it's a pretty good question. Yes, I would be more than pleased to advise the members opposite that elections will be held in November for municipalities across Ontario.

The city of Ottawa in particular has started a process. The 11 mayors in the region have agreed to a process that is under way at the present time. What happens in the city of Ottawa will depend on the outcome of that locally driven process that's under way at the present time. They selected a citizens' committee to look at possible restructuring, and we want to see what the results of that restructuring are and what those recommendations are before we make any decisions.


Mr Gerretsen: Answers like that don't help the situation because, on the one hand, you're saying yes, elections will be held clear across the province, but on the other hand, you're saying it depends on what happens in Ottawa-Carleton. This is really the problem in a lot of those municipalities because they don't know whether to believe what you say one day or the next day.

Anyway, can you give me an unequivocal answer to this question? I understand that Gardner Church has done a report for you with respect to the Ottawa-Carleton restructuring. Will you make that report public and has that report been submitted to you?

Hon Mr Leach: I can absolutely assure the member opposite that there is no restructuring report on the city of Ottawa by Gardner Church that I'm aware of. Mr Church was sent up to Ottawa to facilitate a meeting between the various municipalities. He did that; he got the communities together. The communities have now agreed on a local process on how to look at restructuring. They've selected a citizens' committee chosen by the region and chosen by the 11 municipalities.

I encourage Ottawa to get on with that restructuring plan, and we'll be pleased to deal with the recommendations when the municipalities bring them forward to us.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question to the Minister of Labour. You will know that on Monday night at midnight picket lines went up at all Inco operations in Sudbury. We now have 4,700 workers in our community who are on strike. The direct Inco payroll to these employees per week is in the order of $5 million. Over and above that is the money that goes to contractors and businesses which supply goods and services to Inco, and that is estimated to be about one third of the $5-million payroll which goes to Inco employees.

On Tuesday the union contacted the mediation officer and the company to get negotiations under way again, but so far the company has refused to reply. I'm calling on you today to contact the company and urge Inco to get back to the bargaining table to end this dispute. Are you prepared to call Inco and do that today, Minister?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): As the member opposite well knows, the mediation attempts have thus far failed, but our mediation officer does stand ready to assist both of those parties and that mediation will take place through the normal process when both parties are prepared to seriously begin bargaining again.

Ms Martel: I'm not sure if you understand the seriousness of the situation. We have 4,700 people on strike in our community at the present time. We have hundreds and hundreds more who are facing a loss of income because they supply goods and services to Inco and Inco is on strike. Inco, on the other hand, made some C$500 million in profits last year. Last fall this same company provided a $500,000 wage increase to both its president and the CEO, yet at the table the company was not prepared to put a cent on the table for an across-the-board wage increase to the workers.

This strike represents a serious financial loss to many, many families in our community. The union is prepared to negotiate. The company refuses to reply. Are you prepared to call the company and urge them to get back to the table so that we can find a positive resolution to this situation?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As the member opposite knows, the Ministry of Labour is always prepared and ready to assist with mediation. In fact, we have been more involved with Inco this time than at any time in the past. This is the first time in 15 years that they have called upon our mediation office. We stand ready to assist and we will be there at the appropriate time to give the necessary assistance.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Some of my constituents have inquired whether people receiving disability benefits currently would lose those benefits under proposals coming from the ministry. I'd like to ask the ministry, are their concerns valid or have they been overblown in the media?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Thank you very much for that excellent question. I can understand the concern that was raised when a particular group this week went out and said that some 140,000 individuals were going to be arbitrarily cut off the system, which is not the case. As you have stated, people who are currently eligible for the program, people with disabilities who are on FBA, will be transferred to the new program when it's up and running.

Mr Hudak: Another question from constituents in my office this past Friday dealt with how people with disabilities are treated when they go into the workforce. Let's say, for example, they leave disability to get a job and the job doesn't work out, to get back on disability sometimes takes months of waiting before they can be reassessed and put back on disability if appropriate.

My question to the minister is, how can she answer that question for my constituents in terms of how she will address this problem, this red tape, in the future?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Another excellent question. The way we are going to be responding to that is by removing that red tape so those individuals with disabilities who have the opportunity to try a job to see if they have the physical stamina for it, for example, if someone's recuperating from a particular condition, if that job attempt does fail, there will be rapid reinstatement so they will go back on to the income support program with no disruption to their benefits.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Premier. This morning your Minister of Environment gave a speech at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. In his speech he suggested that the province is looking at something called an emissions trading project. What this means, and it happens in the United States, is that companies will be given points for emission standards. As you go over those standards and those limits, you lose points. When you've totally exhausted your points, which means you've polluted the air badly, you then can buy more points from another company and continue to pollute the air and basically continue to do what you're doing.

This is happening because you have given up regulatory controls. This is happening because you have given up on trying to protect the environment. This system is one that allows the companies to simply monitor themselves, and once they break the law enough times they can just borrow some more points to keep breaking the law.

Premier, do you believe this is the appropriate way for environmental protection in Ontario? Should we allow companies to simply continue to buy a licence to pollute as they do in the United States?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The minister could probably explain in far better detail than I, but I am assured that the pilot project he announced is supported by a great number of people and is in place in other jurisdictions to continually ratchet down the emissions. We are following on the lead of governments that have continually moved tougher and tougher, and we even tougher again.

I would like you to know that the other condition of the pilot project is that nothing in any letter of understanding in the attempt to try the pilot project will allow any participating industry to skirt Ontario's environmental laws, so it must be within all the environmental laws of the province of Ontario.

Mr Agostino: It's obvious you don't get it. What the minister is proposing -- and this would be equal in transportation -- is this: You start with 15 points when you get your licence. Once you drive recklessly, you speed, you break the law, you go through stoplights and you lose your 15 points, you go to your neighbour, who's a good driver, and you buy five or 10 of those points and continue driving, actually speeding and going through stoplights. That's exactly what the minister is proposing we do here with emission standards in Ontario, and that is totally unacceptable.

In the minister's own speech, he acknowledges the fact that it is known as a licence to pollute. That's all you are doing; you're allowing people to buy a licence to pollute the air in Ontario. Instead of going after the bad corporate citizens and the bad polluters, you're allowing them to buy more licence and more ability to pollute from the good corporate citizens who don't use up those points. I hope you understand that clearly.

Will you stand up today and assure the House that you're not going to get into a situation in Ontario where we're simply allowing people to purchase the ability to pollute even more than they are today?

Hon Mr Harris: I want to be very clear, and the minister was very clear today. He said this is not a licence to pollute and it is not a licence to skirt all existing environmental laws in proceeding with this pilot project.

I might say to the member from Hamilton that the current Minister of Environment has embarked upon a number of initiatives on pollution emissions, constantly trying to toughen up regulations, just recently in your area. In fact, the Hamilton Spectator said: "Sterling's move is a good one. He has launched a worthwhile initiative. Oddly, the move has been criticized by opposition Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino." The Hamilton Spectator goes on and says, "He should cut his irresponsible partisanship and work with Sterling for positive solutions." That's what Hamilton thinks of you.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to Bill 136. This is a point of order of which I gave you notice that I would be tabling today in the House.

Bill 136, as you know, is the Public Sector Transition Stability Act; that's the short name of the act. The case that I want to put to you is that this bill should in fact be ruled out of order by the Chair because it is in effect an omnibus bill which exceeds the limits that convention and parliamentary practice have placed on omnibus legislation.

This legislation was introduced on Tuesday for first reading. I would have brought it to your attention at that time but, as you know, there is no requirement in this Legislature for copies of the bill to be provided in advance to opposition parties, so we did not receive a copy of that until it was tabled. As I reviewed it yesterday, I became aware of this issue and informed you I would be bringing it forward to the Legislature today. I would also point out that the bill has still as of this time not been printed and circulated to all members of the Legislature.

In making my arguments today, you may recognize some of the precedents that are being cited. These arguments have been brought forward before in this Legislature, in particular with respect to Bill 26, the omnibus legislation.

At that point in time, the Speaker of the day, Speaker McLean, ruled that there was no precedent that he knew of which empowered him to split legislation. In the point I am making to you today, I'm requesting not that you split legislation but that you recognize that the cumulative effect and ever-enlarging scope of omnibus bills provide you with an opportunity to intervene to protect the interests of all members of the assembly; not to split the legislation, as I said, but in effect to rule the legislation out of order and compel the government to introduce new legislation should it choose to do so.

Let me briefly cite our objections to the wide-ranging omnibus bill.

We do not object to legislation which amends many statutes. In fact, we can see a number of examples of that in this particular Parliament, bills the government has brought forward which seek to amend many statutes. We may have objected to the content of those bills but not to the process that was involved or to the fact that the government had the right to introduce this type of legislation. We do, however, believe it is a problem when omnibus legislation contains very significant legislative initiatives which are not compatible with the theme of the legislation, and that is the case I want to make today.

Beauchesne has this to say about omnibus legislation: "Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines covering the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill."

In this case, the purpose of the legislation that is before us in Bill 136 is clearly to change the nature of employer-employee relations in the broader public sector. These are changes to collective bargaining in the public sector and they require amendment of a number of different acts which are relevant to the theme of the legislation, those acts involving firefighters, police officers, hospital employees and others.

Within this bill there is inclusion of a provision which would eliminate the employee wage protection fund. I would point out to you that the employee wage protection fund has nothing to do with any employer or employee in the public sector or the broader public sector. The main theme of the bill is to seek to change the relationships and structures of collective bargaining to facilitate, as the government would argue, a period of transition in the broader public sector due to restructuring and to facilitate collective bargaining during that period. The wage protection fund has absolutely nothing to do with that. There is no relationship in theme or relevancy of theme. It in fact deals with an entirely different sector of the economy, both in terms of the employers and the employees involved.

I would point out to you that the long name of the act does in fact make reference to this section.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Can I have some order here, please. If you have any discussions, if you could take them into the lobbies, I'd appreciate it. I have difficulty hearing the point of order, and it's important that I hear it.

Ms Lankin: The long name of the act does seek to include this provision. I'll read you the title: "Bill 136, An Act to provide for the expeditious resolution of disputes during collective bargaining in certain sectors and to facilitate collective bargaining following restructuring in the public sector," and then added on to that, "and to make certain amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Pay Equity Act."

By that standard, if the name of the bill is all that is required to tie things together in terms of the theme and relevancy, you could have a bill "to restructure the public sector and do other stuff in the province of Ontario."

It is clear that the bill before us has included in it, with the provision of the wage protection plan, a legislative initiative which on its own stands independent and apart from and completely irrelevant to the provisions of the main thrust of the bill, which get the most attention in the title as well as in the bill itself, which is "to provide for the expeditious resolution of disputes during collective bargaining...facilitate collective bargaining following restructuring in the public sector."

I would point out to you that omnibus legislation in and of itself is problematic. First, it means that members of the assembly must exercise their vote in a way which may offend their own principles. Members of the assembly and their constituents may feel one way and very strongly in favour of the general theme --

The Speaker: Look, folks, if you want to have a discussion, you're going to have to leave the chamber. I can't hear the point of order. It's just that simple. Go to the lobbies.

Ms Lankin: The point I was making is that members of the assembly and their constituents may feel very strongly in favour, for example, of the general theme of the legislation but very much opposed to another major initiative which may be contained in the legislation, totally unrelated, as I argue in this case before us.

Second, it means that members of the assembly cannot give adequate consideration to matters that are included in broader legislation. Of course, all the rules that we know which set out times of debate in this assembly -- time limits on speeches or the process for time allocation motions, for example -- apply to a single bill irrespective of its scope, its size or its complexity. We would think that must be reason to look at, where in fact you have two significant bills, unrelated, combined together, that there is an argument that the rights of individual members are being abridged.

Third, it means that substantial government initiatives do not receive the attention they deserve in terms of public participation. Bill 136 -- the point that I am raising with you which I believe is offensive in terms of legislative process and precedent -- seeks to eliminate the employee wage protection fund. That fund was created by separate legislation in 1991 through a bill that was exclusively written for that purpose, to create the wage protection fund. That bill was debated at second reading for four days solely on the issue of the creation of the wage protection fund. It was considered by the standing committee on resources development for eight days, solely dealing with the establishment of the wage protection fund. How much opportunity will there be for debate and public input on its elimination when it is tagged on to and inserted in a bill that deals with much broader, complex and very controversial issues with respect to the restructuring of the entire broader public sector and the collective bargaining relationships that exist within the broader public sector?

Lastly, I want to refer to what parliamentary precedent exists to support a decision to rule this legislation out of order. There is clear precedent which does allow you to split motions. I realize that's different than legislation. This was done in the British House of Commons in 1917, June 6, and in the Canadian House of Commons in 1964, June 15. In both cases, the Speaker ruled that it was unfair to members to compel them to vote on a motion which contained two separate and unrelated matters.

I think the essence of that ruling is important for you to review, because while it deals with motions, and I accede to that point, the argument that members should not be compelled to vote on two separate and entirely unrelated matters forced together for the convenience of government timetabling I think is one that should be taken into consideration as you look to rule on this.


Second, on January 26, 1971, this matter was raised in the House of Commons in relation to Bill C-201, dealing with the reorganization of the government of Canada. It was a large and complex bill, but there was a sense that it all dealt with at least one theme: the reorganization of the government of Canada. At that time, Speaker Lamoureux regretted the fact that he could neither split the bill nor rule it out of order, but this is what he said at that point:

"However, where do we stop? When another omnibus bill is proposed to the House, it should be scrutinized at first reading stage, when honourable members will be given the opportunity of expressing their view and the Chair can express its view either that the bill goes too far or that it is acceptable or unacceptable from a procedural standpoint."

Speaker Lamoureux seems to be inviting at some point in time a Speaker in this Dominion to take the position that a government has gone too far in terms of combining unrelated aspects within one bill and forcing the members of the Legislative Assembly to deal with that, all the rules guiding speeches, time limits etc dealing with legislation, to deal with two entirely separate issues.

Mr Speaker, I'm asking you to follow up on Speaker Lamoureux's suggestion and to express your view about whether this bill goes too far or whether it is acceptable from a procedural standpoint. We recognize that this is a matter you might well need to take under consideration. We have brought it to your attention at the first possible opportunity, having received a copy of the bill on Tuesday afternoon, having reviewed it yesterday and notified you we would be bringing the point of order forward today. We seek to get a ruling before the government calls this bill for second reading so that we could have a ruling from you in a timely fashion.

We ask for a ruling that would suggest that this bill is out of order and that the government, if it seeks to pursue both of these legislative initiatives, would need to reintroduce legislation which splits this bill or their choice in terms of whether they wish to proceed with one part or another. That is the remedy we seek from you.


The Speaker: I'm going to go to the House leader next, member for Algoma. If the House leader would also help me, your orders of the day are to be announced. I'm only asking you that because of the request from --


The Speaker: It won't be today? Okay, thank you. Government House leader.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): In terms of the orders of the day --

The Speaker: That's okay. I just wanted to know if you were calling this bill which has to do with the concern of the member.

Hon David Johnson: No, that's certainly not the intent. The opposition parties have been asking that we get to the bill pertaining to road safety, and we certainly intend to --

The Speaker: I don't want to get into that. I just wanted that for this particular reason. Go ahead, government House leader.

Hon David Johnson: Just briefly, because I don't intend to go on, it's interesting to have a dissertation about omnibus bills etc, but this bill is clearly in order. It deals with matters which are totally under the purview of the Ministry of Labour.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): There are all sorts of things that --

Hon David Johnson: Sure there are. The Employment Standards Act involves the Ministry of Labour, and the Pay Equity Act. They are all matters that relate to labour: the setting up of the transition commission, the Dispute Resolution Commission.

Mr Speaker, we weren't aware that this was being raised today, but I can recall and I suspect you can recall a few years ago when the former government routinely had any number of bills being impacted by a piece of legislation. I think I can remember some 15 different pieces of legislation or bills or acts, I guess, being affected by one piece of legislation. There's no question about it, that has happened.

All these matters are matters that would generally come under the purview and jurisdiction of the Minister of Labour. There are any number of precedents for this and we'd be happy to pass them along to you if indeed this requires some time to consider the ruling. I would submit to you that this certainly is in order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I don't intend to prolong this, because we wish to move to orders of the day, but I do want to make a couple of very short comments.

First, the assertions of the government House leader are somewhat bizarre. He seems to be saying that since both of these very separate issues come under the purview of the Ministry of Labour, it should be in order to put them into one bill. There are a lot of other things, like employment standards, occupational health and safety, workers' compensation, all sorts of things that come under the purview of the Ministry of Labour. That doesn't mean they have the same principle and relate to the issue at hand that is being dealt with by a particular piece of legislation. To combine a lot of things that relate to the Ministry of Labour in one bill is in fact to construct an omnibus bill.

The suggestion also that previous governments have had pieces of legislation that amend many other pieces of legislation is to miss the point. We are not objecting in this point of order to the fact that this piece of legislation may relate to a number of other statutes. We recognize that a piece of legislation dealing with restructuring could, and should perhaps, deal with a number of statutes. What we are objecting to is that the bill includes not just restructuring of the public sector and the statutes related to that, but also the worker protection in bankruptcy, which does not in our view relate to the principle of the bill, which relates to restructuring.

I just would add one other thing. We are working here within the rules and traditions of the British parliamentary system. This is not a congressional system. All of us who have studied this will recognize that in the American system it is quite appropriate to add all sorts of things into legislation --

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Riders.

Mr Wildman: -- riders and amendments that have nothing to do with the principle of a particular piece of legislation, and it's quite acceptable in the American Congress to do that. It is not in the British parliamentary system.

As my friend from Beaches-Woodbine indicated, if it is acceptable, and the way you cover it is by the title of the bill, then the government could simply introduce a bill saying in this case, "A bill to deal with all matters that come under the purview of the Ministry of Labour," and that would be acceptable. Obviously it would not.

We are saying here that these two pieces of legislation are distinct and they should be dealt with as distinct bills. If the government wishes to proceed on both, the government should bring in distinct bills. Putting them together is out of order.

The government should not be putting the members of the assembly in the invidious position of perhaps being in favour of the restructuring measures but opposed to the repeal of the worker protection and having to vote one way on both, because they are combined, rather than being able to vote on them separately.

Ms Lankin: The government House leader indicated that there were in the past pieces of legislation which had an impact on a number of statutes. My colleague has refuted that argument and pointed out that that's not central to the point.

I would say, however, that whatever may have happened in the Legislative Assembly before, if it had not been brought to the attention of the Speaker and had not been pushed as an issue and ruled on, it is of minimal value in helping you determine the case before us. I would ask you to look to the rulings that have been made around this and to where we may go in the future, but also argue that the development of omnibus legislation and the use of it in this Legislature is a relatively new thing.

Last, the government House leader argued that there was a relationship in these bills. I would ask you to review Hansard. Today in this Legislature in question period a question was asked by my leader of the Minister of Labour with respect to the wage protection plan. In fact, if you look you will see that nowhere in her response does she talk about restructuring the public sector, of collective bargaining relationships. She simply talks about the fact that the government had been unable to collect funds from employers to recompense the government for the money that had been put out to the private sector employees and that the government should be looking to get the federal government to change the federal Bankruptcy Act. So I think by her own answer she indicates that there is no relationship.

The last point I would make is that the government has indicated it would be prepared to provide you with precedents. We have put our arguments here today on the record, and I would ask that if the government provides any information outside this assembly, it be provided to all parties and there be an opportunity for us to comment on it.

The Speaker: If the government provides me with the submissions, I will only presume the government supplies those submissions to the opposition. If they don't, they should. I will take this into consideration and report back as soon as is humanly possible.




Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I believe that there is unanimous consent, if unanimous consent is required, with regard to the motion that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 85.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition addressed to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas on July 15, 1996, the government of Ontario forced seniors with incomes over $16,018 to pay an annual fee of $100 on prescription drugs;

"Whereas this user fee imposed significant financial hardships on vulnerable seniors;

"Whereas on April 1, 1997, the government of Ontario unfairly and knowingly forced Ontario seniors to pay that $100 deductible again;

"Whereas the time between July 15, 1996, and April 1, 1997, is only eight and a half months and not one year;

"Whereas the Ontario government has wrongly taken an additional $30 million out of the pockets of seniors for prescription drugs;

"Whereas Ontario seniors feel cheated by the government of Ontario and this $30 million ripoff shows a tremendous disrespect for Ontario seniors;

"Therefore be it resolved that the government of Ontario credit the Ontario seniors for the three and a half months overpayment they were forced to pay on prescription drugs by making the effective date for the 1998 $100 deductible July 15, 1998, instead of April 1, 1998."

I concur with the petitioners and I affix my signature to it.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario which has 37 signatures. It deals with a provincial referendum on the expansion of casinos and the installation of electronic gambling devices. I affix my signature.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition here all the way from Sault Ste Marie.

"A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants and allows for security and stability in their homes and communities; and

"Whereas lifting rent control in Ontario would leave tenants with uncontrollable rent increases and financial instability; and

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favouring easier and faster eviction by landlords;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to save rent control."

I affix my signature in total agreement with this.


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

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

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

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

I have affixed my signature to it.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition here that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Conservative Party has broken its promise that it would not close hospitals in Ontario; and

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

"Whereas the Reform-Conservative party promised there would no cuts to education and then proceeded to impose cuts which caused the cancellation of junior kindergarten, the cancellation of special education programs and created larger classroom sizes; and

"Whereas the Reform-Conservative party stated 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 Reform-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 $100 million;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Reform-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 gladly sign the petition as well.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition here to save Northwestern General Hospital.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am pleased to affix my signature to this petition.



Mr Crozier moved first reading of Bill Pr82, An Act respecting the Ontario Association of Not-For-Profit Credit Counselling Services.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.


Mr Tascona moved first reading of Bill Pr83, An Act respecting the Municipal Law Enforcement Officers' Association (Ontario) Inc.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? It is carried.



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

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 2, 1997, I am now required to put the question. Mr Leach has moved second reading of Bill 96. Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1541 to 1546.

The Acting Speaker: Will the members please take their seats.

Those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized.


Baird, John R.

Hastings, John

Runciman, Robert W.

Barrett, Toby

Hodgson, Chris

Sampson, Rob

Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Saunderson, William

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Shea, Derwyn

Carr, Gary

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Carroll, Jack

Kells, Morley

Smith, Bruce

Cunningham, Dianne

Klees, Frank

Snobelen, John

Danford, Harry

Leach, Al

Spina, Joseph

DeFaria, Carl

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Ecker, Janet

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tascona, Joseph N.

Elliott, Brenda

Maves, Bart

Tilson, David

Eves, Ernie L.

Munro, Julia

Tsubouchi, David H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Newman, Dan

Turnbull, David

Grimmett, Bill

O'Toole, John

Villeneuve, Noble

Guzzo, Garry J.

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Hardeman, Ernie

Palladini, Al

Witmer, Elizabeth

Harnick, Charles

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Harris, Michael D.

Rollins, E.J. Douglas


The Acting Speaker: Those opposed please rise one at a time and be recognized.


Bisson, Gilles

Duncan, Dwight

Martin, Tony

Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

Miclash, Frank

Bradley, James J.

Kennedy, Gerard

North, Peter

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kormos, Peter

Ruprecht, Tony

Christopherson, David

Kwinter, Monte

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Lankin, Frances

Wildman, Bud

Crozier, Bruce

Laughren, Floyd

Wood, Len

Curling, Alvin

Martel, Shelley


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 53; the nays are 26.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to an order of the House dated June 2, 1997, this bill is referred to the standing committee on general government.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of 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 / Projet de loi 99, Loi assurant la stabilité financière du régime d'indemnisation des travailleurs blessés, favorisant la prévention des lésions et des maladies dans les lieux de travail en Ontario et révisant la Loi sur les accidents du travail et apportant des modifications connexes à d'autres lois.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I believe that in terms of the vote we have unanimous consent for no bell and for the same vote, recorded, on this one.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is there unanimous consent? It is agreed. It is understood, then, that the doors will remain locked.

Pursuant to an order of the House dated May 29, 1997, I'm required to now put the question.

Mrs Witmer has moved second reading of Bill 99. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members.

Interjections: Same vote.

The Acting Speaker: The same vote as the last one? Is it agreed?

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Recorded.

The Acting Speaker: Recorded.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 53; the nays are 26.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated May 29, 1997, this bill is referred to the standing committee on resources development.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 57, An Act to improve the Efficiency of the Environmental Approvals Process and Certain Other Matters / Projet de loi 57, Loi visant à améliorer l'efficience du processus d'autorisation environnementale et concernant certaines autres questions.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, again I believe we have unanimous consent for no bells and the same vote, recorded.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 3, 1997, I am now required to put the question.

Mr Sterling has moved third reading of Bill 57. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Same vote, recorded.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 53; the nays are 26.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Palladini moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 138, An Act to promote road safety by increasing periods of suspension for Criminal Code convictions, impounding vehicles of suspended drivers, requiring treatment for impaired drivers, raising fines for driving while suspended, impounding critically defective commercial vehicles, creating an absolute liability offence for wheel separations, raising fines for passing stopped school buses, streamlining accident reporting requirements and amending other road safety programs / Projet de loi 138, Loi visant à favoriser la sécurité routière en augmentant les périodes de suspension pour les déclarations de culpabilité découlant du Code criminel, en mettant en fourrière les véhicules de conducteurs faisant l'objet d'une suspension, en exigeant le traitement des conducteurs en état d'ébriété, en augmentant les amendes pour conduite pendant que son permis est suspendu, en mettant en fourrière les véhicules utilitaires comportant des défauts critiques, en créant une infraction entraînant la responsabilité absolue en cas de détachement des roues, en augmentant les amendes pour dépassement d'un autobus scolaire arrêté, en simplifiant les exigences relatives à la déclaration des accidents et en modifiant d'autres programmes de sécurité routière.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Members, if you're making your way from the chamber, please do it as quietly and as quickly as possible.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I believe we have unanimous consent that I will be speaking briefly and then the opposition will split the balance of the time left.

The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? It is agreed.

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to once again thank the opposition members for their support for this bill in recognizing the benefits for all Ontarians of a speedy passing at second reading and on to committee hearings. A special thanks to my critic colleagues, Mr Duncan and Mr Bisson, for their support of this bill as well.

I have a lot of ground to cover on this bill, so let me get to the heart of what this bill is really all about, and that's targeting some of the worst offenders on our roads: suspended drivers, drinking drivers, unsafe trucks and drivers who pass stopped buses.

This is more than a start. The start came approximately 18 months ago, with Ontario's road safety plan. We knew there were some issues that had to be addressed, and the road safety plan identified those issues. In fact, the plan went one step farther. It came up with some very real solutions to some very real problems.

This is our third bill in a year. What makes this bill so unique in my eyes is that we have a buy-in not only from the opposition but from the public. We have endorsement from associations and people in general telling us that this is a good day for Ontario. That tells me that everyone agrees we all want -- yes, even demand -- safer roads. Best of all, this bill is directed only at those who put others at risk.

We know that drinking and driving do not mix. In 1995, of the 999 fatalities on our roads, alcohol was involved in 352 of these casualties. That's roughly 33%. Sadly, our statistics also show that almost 70% of drinking drivers are repeat offenders. This is not acceptable.

The government already supports community-based RIDE programs. About a year ago I stood here to introduce the administrative driver's licence suspension program. ADLS got its official launch in December of last year and has done what it set out to do: to get drinking drivers off the roads immediately and to keep them off the roads for 90 days. In its first weekend of operation, more than 300 drivers lost their licence immediately for 90 days. In the first six months of operation, over 10,000 people have lost their driver's licence for 90 days. That means they lose their driving privileges for 90 days and can't put anyone at risk.

Ideally, drivers would be responsible. They shouldn't have to be told the first time, let alone a second time, that drinking and driving just don't mix. That's why we are increasing suspension periods for repeat offenders. Second-time offenders will lose their driver's licence for three years, up from two. Third-time offenders will receive a lifetime suspension, with a possible reduction only after a 10-year period on the condition that they successfully complete a remedial program and have ignition interlock installed before their reinstatement. This device is used in Alberta. Just to give you an idea as to how this works, every time a driver gets into the vehicle, he or she must blow into that device. If the driver blows over the preset blood alcohol level, the car just won't start.

A fourth-time offender cannot and will not ever, ever get a driver's licence in this province again. Drinking-and-driving convictions will stay on a driver's record for a minimum of 10 years, up from the current five.

These are by far the toughest laws in North America. Ontario will become the ninth province to introduce a remedial measures program. In future, first-time offenders will be required to attend a mandatory education program. A person convicted of a second offence must undergo an assessment program and attend either an education and/or treatment program.


We went to the other provinces and asked them what worked for them and gave them significant results. They told us that since introducing remedial measures, there has been a 7% to 9% decrease in alcohol-related crashes and repeat offences. And it's the offender who happens to pick up the tab for these programs, not Ontario taxpayers.

I said up front that this bill addresses some of the worst offenders on our roads. In this case, it's the person who is caught driving while under suspension. In future, before anyone lends out their car to a relative or a friend, they had better make sure that person driving their car has a valid Ontario driver's licence. The same holds true for rental companies. Anyone caught driving while under a Criminal Code suspension will have the vehicle they are driving impounded roadside for 45 days. Vehicle owners better take note. The second time around, an owner's vehicle will be impounded for 90 days, plus it will be up to the vehicle owner to come up with the money for the towing and impounding charges.

Again, Ontario went to the other provinces and asked them what has worked and been effective in getting this group off the roads. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have told us impoundment does work.

There's still more. These same people who are caught driving while under a Criminal Code suspension will face fines that range from $5,000 to $50,000. To put it simply, this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. People who get caught will receive no sympathy.

Before I move on, let me say we have done more for road safety in the past 18 months than anyone has done in the past 10 years.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Al, will you stop this stuff? Come on.

Hon Mr Palladini: I was here last spring with legislation on truck safety, I was here last fall with even more, and I've worked through Target '97, a joint industry-government group, to not only identify --

Mr Bisson: Point of order.

Hon Mr Palladini: Oh, Gilles, please.

Mr Bisson: Speaker, the Minister makes comments that are not factual, talking about who did what when it comes to road safety. The point I make is simply this: The minister is asking for the cooperation of the opposition parties. The least he can do is try to be cooperative himself and not play partisan politics with this issue.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. Minister.

Hon Mr Palladini: Then I do understand, because I have applauded the opposition for recognizing the importance of this bill, but the facts do speak for themselves and this is not a personal, partisan shot. The facts are there. I don't mean to rile the member from Cochrane. I really don't mean to rile you up.

I was here last spring with legislation on truck safety, I was here last fall with even more, and I've worked through Target '97, a joint industry-government group, the first time ever that the government and industry and stakeholders worked together for better safety on Ontario roads. I'm very proud of that fact. We had input from shippers, insurance companies and also our enforcement staff with OPP.

This is National Transportation Week. We are in the final hours of Road Check, a three-day, North-America-wide truck inspection blitz. Last year our enforcement crew conducted the highest number of truck inspections of any group in North America. The industry has had its wake-up call, and as tough as our last two bills have been on unsafe drivers and vehicles in the trucking industry, we've gotten even tougher.

Ontario is taking the lead in Canada in combating unsafe trucks. Trucks that have been pulled off the road for one or more critical defects will find themselves housed at a truck impounding yard for 15 days. If that same vehicle gets caught a second time within a two-year period, it will sit in the impoundment yard for an additional 30 days. A company that still does not get the message and puts the same vehicle out on the road for a third time had better be prepared to do more time in the impoundment yard, only this time the truck will stay in the yard for 60 days.

I don't want to see yards filled with trucks. That's the last thing that I want. On the contrary, I hope that the impoundment yard stays empty, for that would mean trucking companies are doing regular maintenance checks on their fleet and that is what it is the intent of this bill to create.

It doesn't matter where these trucks come from. This impoundment applies to all unsafe trucks and buses, regardless of where they are from.

It's important to note who will pick up the tab for the impoundment. That will fall on the shoulders of the vehicle owner, and it will be up to the carrier to transfer their load to a safe vehicle. The owner will face fines that can run as high as $20,000. Owners and carriers can appeal the impoundment order to the Licence Suspension Appeal Board, but strict conditions will apply.

We continue to proceed with legislation that will make wheel separation an absolute liability offence under the Highway Traffic Act. We have kept this bill intact and we're going forward with it word for word. By "absolute liability," we mean that if a wheel comes off while a truck or bus is travelling down a highway, that's all an enforcement officer will need to lay charges against the commercial vehicle owner and/or truck or bus company.

The fines cannot be dismissed as merely the cost of doing business. They start at $2,000 and they go as high as $50,000 -- the highest, I might add, under the Highway Traffic Act.

This legislation affects trucks weighing more than 4,500 kilograms and buses that are designed for carrying 10 or more passengers. It includes dump trucks, school buses, city buses and intercity motor coaches, just to name a few.

Our approach to truck safety has always been one of consultation, education, enforcement and improved technology. And so that there is no doubt about it, this is directed at the unsafe operators, the ones no one wants to share the road with, especially the majority of truckers who drive safe rigs.

This legislation also targets drivers who continue putting our children's safety at risk. The laws for school bus safety are clear and straightforward. When the overhead red lights start flashing and the stop arm comes out, traffic must stop in both directions. Yet in 1995, 776 drivers were convicted of failing to stop for a school bus.

Passing a stopped school bus is already one of the most serious offences under the Highway Traffic Act, but to ensure the safety of our children, we're going to make it even more serious by doubling the existing fines. First-time offenders will now be fined $400 to $2,000, and repeat offenders will be fined $1,000 to $4,000.

We are also working together with the Ministry of Education to develop a comprehensive school bus safety information package that will be used to educate the public on the importance of school bus safety. One child lost because someone passed a school bus when they shouldn't is one life too many.

We admit that there is still much more work to be done, but we are well on our way to introducing and implementing measures that will get unsafe drivers and trucks off Ontario roads.

Once again, I want to thank the opposition for their continued support.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Let me begin by reaffirming the official opposition's intent to support the bill, and to begin to discuss in broad terms the bill itself and some issues that aren't addressed in the bill that I think the minister intends to address by regulation, which we'd like to see an opportunity to discuss at greater length and have some public input into.

First of all, the range of the bill, the initiative around drunk driving: We applaud the government on that initiative. We support that. We have been calling for it as well for some time. On the nature of the process -- the first offender getting education programs, the repeat offender assessment education treatment -- I can tell the minister, as someone who used to administer the largest alcohol and drug recovery program in the country, education and treatment are oftentimes very important. If you catch those people early on, you can hopefully prevent serious mishaps from occurring in the future.

It wasn't long ago in this province when it wasn't uncommon for drunk drivers who killed somebody to get 90 days. Those days are not that long ago. We have gradually, over the course of the last 10 to 15 years, increased the penalties and increased the nature of punishment in view of society's increasing abhorrence of drunk driving.

We concur with the suspension periods and are prepared to support them, and the longer search length, which is something that doesn't get talked about a lot in the media, but we think that too is a positive step forward.

I want to talk about the bus safety aspect. My colleague Pat Hoy, the member for Essex-Kent, could not be here today -- he had commitments in his constituency -- but I think he deserves a great deal of credit for bringing this issue to the forefront, putting it on the public agenda, getting this Legislature to adopt a private member's bill and keeping the government's toes to the fire. As much as we want to stay away from partisan attacks, I think it's fair to say that in this case, had it not been for the efforts of Mr Hoy and his bill, and I must say the Marcuzzi family who suffered such a tragedy some months ago, this bill may not have come forward, certainly not in as timely a fashion as it has.

I should say to the minister that his bill does not go as far as my colleague's bill does. There are issues we will debate in committee and we will likely put amendments to the bill in those sections and see what the government's view is and why they have not gone that far. We believe our private member's bill, Mr Hoy's bill, would have been a better bill.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Would you please ask the clerk to check for a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would you check and see if there's a quorum present.

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: The Chair recognizes the member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Duncan: The official opposition's bill on bus safety forced the government to act, and we're glad they've acted. We will take this bill into committee; I believe next week is the agreement. We will spend time discussing it. We will put amendments to make the bill tougher than the government proposes right now, but we are prepared at this point to support that portion of the government's bill.

There is always a difficult balancing act that a Minister of Transportation has to play in terms of the various pressures he or she has put on them. There are oftentimes conflicting interests between trucking companies and road users. Trucking companies have a number of pressures on them in the modern economy: They are dealing in a just-in-time inventory system, we see a deterioration of our road system in Ontario, and we see a need to be competitive with our neighbours in terms of getting goods back and forth between points.

We think the part of road safety the government has to address in a broader context is the condition of our highways in general, overall. Many people across this province have expressed to me their concerns about the condition of our highways. Indeed, recently one of our northern highways was ranked as one of the worst in the country. Highway 69 leading into Sudbury has long been cited as an example of a highway that needs updating. The condition of Highway 401 when you get down southwest of London, between London and the great city of Windsor, my home, has deteriorated seriously.

Our highways are an important component of our infrastructure. We remember the 1950s and 1960s, when new roads were being built to accommodate industrial growth and economic growth, and we look forward to debating further the capital expenditures the ministry will put into roads and other infrastructure to ensure that our economy can remain competitive in the transportation industry.

We were somewhat dismayed, to come back to Bill 125 and the government's truck safety legislation. The minister introduced the bill in good faith, I believe, on February 24. We offered to support it. There were a number of days between the day it was introduced and the day that the filibuster started that this bill could have been dealt with. The minister spoke passionately about his desire to move forward with that bill, and it's regrettable that he didn't move forward with it at the time. We're glad to see those provisions back in this bill and we are happy to lend our support to getting this bill through the House as quickly as possible.

I say to the minister, however, that he is no doubt aware of the debate around the terminology of "absolute liability." We have asked him for the government's legal opinions and they have not been able to provide us with those, under the guise that it's information for cabinet only and could affect the government's ability to prosecute in the future with whatever strategy the government has. But we have conflicting views and we too have been torn by the advice we've had about how that clause can stick and how strong it will be. I would be interested to hear from the minister, even if it's not in a public forum, if he would be prepared to share privately with us their views on the "absolute liability" provision. Quite frankly, I will say this to the minister, and we've said it before: The legal opinions we've seen have been all over the board and aren't, overall, encouraging in terms of our ability to make that particular clause stick.

It's unfortunate that the minister did not deal with Bill 125 back in February. The minister, whom I believe to be a man of integrity and when he says something he means it, was left in an unfortunate circumstance a couple of weeks ago by the Premier, in my view, and I think we have this bill today because of the pressure the opposition brought to bear on it. We all wanted this legislation done much sooner and we welcome it.

I will be sharing my time today with my colleague from Oakwood, who in the past has done work with the minister and the government in terms of road safety. But I would like to spend some of my time on what is not in this particular bill.

As the minister knows, there were 72 recommendations coming out of Target '97, many of which must be dealt with by regulation. When meeting with ministry officials earlier in the day, they told us and outlined for us what their intention is with respect to a number of the issues that cannot or do not have to be dealt with in legislation, and my colleague in the third party asked for an outline of what has been achieved and what hasn't been done.

The minister will find on the order paper a number of questions in the next couple of days with respect not only to those initiatives in Target '97 that aren't done or contemplated here, but also a number of the recommendations that were contained in the Worona inquiry. We have asked in past meetings for those and have not been provided with them, we've asked in the House and have not been provided with them, so we've chosen to put an order paper question and will be raising those issues in the course of committee hearings.

I believe the Ministry of Transportation estimates will be coming to the estimates committee. We intend to spend some time on those initiatives there as well and look forward to the government defining for us precisely at what point each of the recommendations I've spoken of being implemented have in fact been implemented.


Regulation: It's hard to tell people in the public and it's hard to explain sometimes the difference between a statute, a law and a regulation. A regulation is a process that is inherently done behind closed doors and is only done or consulted about with whoever the government chooses to consult. That was one of the criticisms we had with the Target '97 process in general. In the private member's bill I introduced, we provided for a monitoring committee of interested citizens and community to serve as an advisory committee to the ministry, to be updated on the progress of implementation not only of this particular bill but also of regulations that would be forthcoming.

We recognize that the minister in many instances has the legislative authority contained in Target '97. It would be in the minister's interest, it would be in the government's interest and it would certainly be in the interest of road safety if there was a mechanism by which a community group could have some input or at least be kept up to date with respect to progress the ministry is making in implementing the changes that are contemplated.

In effect, what we're saying is it's not enough for the government to choose who should be part of these consultations, but rather those consultations ought to be done in a more public fashion and there ought to be opportunity to review the ministry's progress in implementing new regulations and new legislation.

We have been told, for instance, by people in the trucking industry and by some of the minister's own inspectors that the trained wheel installers' regulations are not being enforced at this point in time. We are told about a number of other less significant changes that were brought about earlier and have been discussed at length that are not being implemented. This causes concern not only for the motoring public but also for those who have an interest in these issues beyond the trucking industry.

There are many groups out there -- the insurance industry, the Canadian Automobile Association, community groups and others -- that do have an interest. I have been surprised in the course of the last couple of months at the number of small groups in communities across the province -- some in my own area; I was in the north last week and met with groups that have a real interest in road safety in general and particularly highway and truck safety.

Those organizations have felt somewhat excluded from the process. I believe this minister is the type of minister who would probably welcome that kind of input, so we will put an amendment to the bill that would provide for a committee to review the implementation of not only this bill but the regulation the government intends to bring about.

It is our hope that when the draft regulation is complete, the minister will table it in the House, which is over and above his statutory obligation, but we hope it will be placed so there is ample opportunity for the public to see it prior to its being gazetted. Given the nature of what has happened on our roads and the minister's own commitment to road safety, in our view this would enhance the government's strategy to improve the safety of roads in Ontario.

The truck safety bill is one component of the entire bill, and the official opposition supports all the main clauses in it. I felt the minister reviewed them adequately and described what the government's intentions are. It's important to bear in mind as this proceeds that we be alert to other changing conditions and we study the results of the Road Check '97, for instance, and the other safety initiatives that the government has undertaken.

There are a number of issues the minister does need to address. There are issues, for instance, about the Avion system that the minister's own officials have told us is not working the way the minister expects it to, and I think there's room for improvement.

I raised in the House a couple of weeks ago the issue about the OPP having access to the ministry's computer data. I applaud the minister; I'm given to understand that the day that question was responded to by the minister, the OPP were able to get access to the computers.

Those are the kinds of things that ministers who are busy with legislation, busy in this House and busy having press conferences sometimes don't have the time to follow up on carefully. We hear from the minister's inspectors, we hear from others all the time about some of the shortcomings not in the word of the law or the regulation, but the enforcement of the law and the enforcement of the regulation.

The minister is no doubt aware that within his own ministry a number of his inspectors are concerned about their role and about their place in the delivery of enforcement of the Highway Traffic Act, how that fits in relative to the Ontario Provincial Police and who has appropriate jurisdiction. These issues, while they again are not the sorts of issues that burn the front pages in our headlines, will be important if the minister, as I believe the minister does, ultimately wants to have less deaths on our highways, a general consensus that there are more safe highways. But these sorts of things can get in the way of good law or good public policy, and we believe this is both.

We believe this bill and the regulations that will accompany it, once we've seen them and we can agree, are good public policy. However, as the minister well knows and as anybody who has served at the municipal or provincial or even federal level knows, enforcement is often the most difficult aspect and it is often the thing that challenges not only the public servants but the political leadership. I can tell the minister today that as much as we are pleased to deal with this bill and as much as we look forward to the regulations that will be forthcoming surrounding the bill, we will be vigilant on enforcement, because all the good intentions in the world as expressed in law won't work if the government doesn't commit the resources, both human and otherwise, to ensure the laws that are on our books can be enforced. That is the key.

We believe, particularly in the drunk driving sections, that the minister has addressed in a very clear and definitive way how to improve road safety. I don't think too many people can debate that. We're looking forward to analysing the timing of implementation of the law, the implementation of the regulations, and ultimately we're looking forward to seeing what the minister does to ensure proper enforcement of and compliance with the law. As I say, we will bring one amendment to the bill that calls for a monitoring committee of the public to be set up so that they can be informed of what changes and how the government has gone about implementing its changes right from the regulation through to the enforcement.

This particular bill has been long overdue. I applaud those organizations that participated in Target '97 and I applaud all those in the province who have taken a special interest in this issue, the issue of road safety. There is no doubt that the millions of Ontario motorists and others who use our highways can, in my view, feel safer because of this legislation, and I am proud that the official opposition had something to do with forcing the government to bring it forward when it did.

In our view, to wait until the fall would have been a mistake, particularly given that the minister has had the Target '97 recommendations for some time and particularly given that the minister has already -- and we acknowledge it done -- passed other safety measures which improve roads in Ontario. So we are glad to have this bill today and we as the official opposition are glad to be able to assist in giving it speedy passage by the end of this month so that Ontario motorists know that their legislators in all parties feel equally strongly and passionately about the need for road safety, and that where we can act with prudence and with good public policy, we can cooperate and can help make the whole situation better for everybody.

I will be concluding my remarks by talking about several other issues that are related to truck safety. One of them of course is Highway 407 and its imminent opening. The minister has attempted to address some safety concerns he was alerted to by a committee he appointed. I'm given to understand that what the committee found was that it wasn't simply the 407 -- the 407 met Ontario standards -- but it was necessary to update Ontario's standards with respect to highway construction and highway safety.

We look forward, once 407 is open, to finding out what we can do to all of our highways to improve the condition and design of future roads, because we think this government, probably before the end of this mandate, and certainly the next government that we form in 1999, will be confronted with the need to look at an infrastructure reinvestment in our highways. Our highway system is integral to economic development and growth, and we feel that is an area all of us share in terms of wanting to improve the overall economic climate in this province. We'll be talking more about those issues, because road conditions reflect safety issues.


I have heard from truckers all across this province that no matter how hard they try to keep up their rigs, if they hit a huge pothole, be it on the 401 or on a secondary road, it's going to cause problems. It could loosen the wheel. There are all kinds of issues around that: narrowness of roadways, changing vehicle styles, weights and axles on trucks. All of these issues are important components of truck safety and road safety in general and need to be addressed in a systematic fashion and need to be reviewed. Again, they need to be reviewed not just by the government and certain special interests, but also by the general public and by other interests, including the insurance industry, the CAA and the general public. So we contemplate an amendment to that effect and hope the minister will give some consideration to it.

I'd also like to alert the minister, as I did his staff and officials this morning, that there was an unfortunate tragedy in my community last week where a young man was killed who had purchased a motorcycle and did not have proper licensing to drive the motorcycle. He was killed immediately after picking up the bike. One of the things that's been suggested by the company that sold that bike to him was that these companies be required, when somebody buys a bike, to produce a valid operator's licence. I will be asking the minister to give consideration to that. I recognize that a minister can't simply wave his hand and change something, but we will be bringing a private member's bill to that effect and hopefully the minister will consider that. The family has asked for that. It's a terrible tragedy that may not have been averted, but possibly could have been in this case.

I will take my last five minutes to say to the minister, this is good public policy. We are glad that through Mr Hoy's private member's bill and through our private member's bill on truck safety, we were able to keep the fire under your feet and get this bill brought forward. It's regrettable that Bill 125 was introduced and then not dealt with. I think it speaks to the perils of public life: You shouldn't introduce something until you're ready or prepared to proceed.

But we say the job has only begun. The question of enforcement will be front and centre not only for the government but for the opposition. I can tell the minister that we hope the enforcement initiatives that will be necessary to put into effect this legislation and the regulations that will follow this legislation and the commitment to enforcement will be there. The official opposition, the Ontario Liberal Party, will be watching carefully. We will continue to meet with the ministry's safety people. We will continue to meet with the OPP. We will continue to meet with groups and organizations that have a concern.

I would be remiss if I didn't at this time applaud the trucking industry. Many truckers called me when this whole initiative was happening and said they were somewhat concerned because they felt they indeed were good operators and tried their best to keep their rigs clean and in good order and working well. My experience has been that certainly the vast majority of truckers who operate out of this province do that, and it's unfortunate that a few bad actors have that kind of impact on the whole economy. But we applaud this bill.

The minister has spoken about the need for national standards, because the minister knows full well and we know full well that many of the worst rigs on our roads today are not home-based in Ontario. They come from outside of the province. We look forward to helping bring about a change in the national standards. It's our view that we have to address this problem not only in Ontario, but across the border in Quebec, across the border in the United States, where many of the trucks that we've found to have the biggest problems come from or emanate from. We recognize that there is a need to deal with those issues as well, and we will be bringing forward proposals again, as we did on this bill, to help spur that along.

We think there can probably be consensus on a number of issues related to that. I look forward to the minister's continuing commitment to evolving our road safety legislation and regulations to ensure that because we've made some progress today, we don't become blinded to the reality that there are still changes to happen.

In conclusion, we support the bill. We will propose several amendments to the bill which are reflected in our original private members' bills, both my bill and Mr Hoy's bill. We look forward to committee hearings. I know there are a number of people who look forward to having the opportunity to have a small say in this, I'm sure in some instances to applaud the government. We also look forward to having the opportunity to review the draft regulation, once it's ready, that will give effect to a number of the recommendations that came out of Target '97. It's our hope that the government will commit the resources, number one, to highway rehabilitation, an infrastructure program, if you will, and number two, certainly in the shorter term, to proper enforcement of these laws.

We in this House and those who have served in government at any level and those who live around highways and elsewhere know that if we don't enforce the laws we have, then they're not worth the paper they're written on. That will be a challenge for the government in the coming weeks and months as they grapple with this, as they try to implement the package of amendments we have helped them to design. We look forward to continuing the debate around public safety on our roads and we look forward to having input into the draft regulation. We hope the regulation deals with the balance of recommendations out of Target '97 and the balance of recommendations that came out of the Worona inquest, because there were many recommendations in there that were very positive developments, in our view, and the type of recommendations that can also be implemented without great cost to the government and without great cost or economic inefficiency to the economy in general.

We look forward to finishing second reading debate today, we look forward to getting to public hearings next week and, most importantly, we look forward to this bill being passed by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I want to speak on behalf of all of my colleagues in the official opposition: We are most proud of Mr Hoy's bill on bus safety and we look forward to working with the minister and ensuring that once this bill becomes law and once the regulation is published, the enforcement mechanisms will be there and, most of all, we look forward to safer roads in Ontario.

Mr Bisson: I rise today as the transportation critic on behalf of the NDP caucus to speak to this bill. I want to say up front that we support the general direction, the issues this bill is dealing with, but a little later on I want to talk about what this bill is not dealing with, which concerns me somewhat.

If you remember correctly, when the Minister of Transportation talked about Bill 125 and the wheel separation or flying truck wheel legislation, as we call it, he kept on referring to comprehensive truck policy legislation that would be coming forward to this House. Although this bill does deal with some of those issues, I would say it stops far short of being comprehensive legislation.

I was expecting to see a number of the recommendations from the Target '97 report brought forward into legislation. I understand a lot of that can be done by way of regulation but there's no mention about any kind of timing of how we're going to deal with some of the recommendations of Target '97 and there's no mention in this bill about some of the legislative things that need to happen to make those recommendations work.

But let's speak to the issue at hand. What does the bill do? It does a number of things. There are nine different parts of this bill. I guess, if we put it in the crassest of political terms, the first two deal with truck safety and the rest of them deal with issues of licence suspension and drunk drivers.

Do we need to deal with the issue of drunk driving? Of course. It's a huge problem in our society and I'm glad to see the minister is moving forward and building on work that was previously done not only by his government but by our government and in fact by the David Peterson government before that. Let's deal with that issue first.

One of the things he's doing with this bill is moving to a system where you're going to suspend people's licences once they get caught for drunk driving and every time they get caught there's going to be a longer suspension. On the first conviction, you'll lose your licence for one year, which I think is reasonable. A second conviction will be three years. Where the debate comes in is on the question of the third conviction, which is a lifetime suspension or, if the person can show the Ministry of Transportation that they meet certain criteria -- that is, that they've not drunk for a number of years, have been under the care of some program to make sure they've licked their problem with alcohol -- there would be other ways to get the person's licence back.


I want to use a number. I asked today, at a briefing we had with the Ministry of Transportation, how many drivers in Ontario got caught this year for the third time. I'll give people three guesses. The number is downright scary. It's not 1,000, it's not 2,000, it's not 3,000; 4,000 people per year are caught on their third offence of drinking and driving. That's really alarming. I'm the transportation critic, and I always knew it was somewhat high, but the number of 4,000 really demonstrates the seriousness of this issue. Lives are at risk on our highways because people are being irresponsible with their privilege of driving and taking their cars out under the influence of alcohol.

I applaud the minister. In this case, the minister is saying that is not acceptable in our society. If you're going to drive, it is not a right, it's a privilege, and if it's a privilege, that means you have to take responsibility. If you abuse that responsibility, there is a consequence. There are not only higher fines, which we have dealt with in this House before, but there is also the issue of licence suspension. In the event that you do it a number of times -- in this case, three times -- you will lose your licence for life. That's a pretty severe penalty. I think it sends a fairly straight message to the public that drinking and driving are not accepted in our society and that if you're going to drink and drive, you shouldn't have the right to drive at all. You might be having fun behind the wheel, but you're putting in jeopardy the life of somebody on the highway or a pedestrian who may get run over because of your irresponsibility of driving while under the influence of alcohol.

For that I give the minister some credit. This is long overdue, something that needed to be dealt with, and it's certainly a step in the right direction. I won't argue that it's too much, that it's not enough, that it's too late. I won't make any of those arguments. It's done, it's a step in the right direction, and I give you full credit for that, Minister.

The other thing it does is that it changes the statutes. In the past, you were able to go back in people's driving records only three years, I think; I'm just going on memory of what I read in the statutes. In this case we're saying that if you get caught drinking and driving, the minister or the OPP will have the ability to go back into your driving record for 10 years. If you've been caught once within those 10 years, you would fall under this particular bill.

That's a good thing, because we can't look at this as being a problem that's been going on for just three years. If people are drinking and driving repeatedly, they've probably done this for quite a few years. We need to give the Ontario Provincial Police and municipal police forces the ability to go back in somebody's driving record for a long enough time to find out if there have indeed been other occurrences. I think that's a step in the right direction.

Another thing the House will be dealing with in this bill is the issue of increased fines for people who had their licence suspended either under a non-Criminal Code-related offence or a Criminal Code-related offence. Just so people understand what we're talking about in plain English, a Criminal Code-related suspension is like drinking and driving. Not only will you lose your licence, but you will pay a higher fine, and I think that's fine. I come back to the first point: Driving is not a right, it's a privilege, and you need to deal with it that way and you need to take responsibility.

Where people have lost their licence for a non-Criminal Code-related suspension -- for example, that you haven't paid your fines, haven't paid your parking tickets, those kinds of things -- and your licence has been suspended, there will be increased fines. Again that's a step in the right direction and I give the minister credit for that yet again. We're in the habit, with this bill, of saying some nice things; I'll get to the bad ones later. I don't want you, Minister, to think you're doing everything right, because that is certainly not the case.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): He's smiling like the Cheshire cat over there.

Mr Bisson: Exactly.

What we're trying to do here is deal with a long-standing problem, which is that there are people who feel they can get away with not paying their fines. The minister is saying that clearly is not acceptable, and if you do so, not only will you have to pay your fine but you will have to pay an increased fine for having driven while under suspension for a non-Criminal Code suspension. Again I give the minister some credit. That's a particularly good and useful step forward.

Another issue is the whole question of impounding vehicles. If somebody has their licence suspended, the crown will have the ability, or the police in this case, to impound the vehicle.

I raise one caveat, Minister, and I raised this with your political staff this morning and with the ministry staff. I hope we clarify this. I want to read from the minister's own briefing note, where it says that all vehicles subject to roadside impoundment, regardless of whether the driver owns the vehicle or not, will be impounded; for example, a rental car, if I lend my car to my neighbour, those kinds of situations. Here are the grounds to appeal so that you don't have your car impounded. If the vehicle was stolen, clearly you shouldn't keep somebody responsible on the basis that my vehicle was stolen and the person who stole it was driving while under suspension.

I'm not going to go through all the points. The point I want to get at here is the ministry was not able to clarify for me, in any kind of way that I'd feel comfortable, about situations where the neighbour comes and says: "Gilles, can I borrow your truck? I've got to bring some garbage to the dump." As far as I know, the person probably has their licence because I see them driving their car. How do I know they don't have a licence?

Hon Mr Palladini: You ask him.

Mr Bisson: I was coming to that. The minister said, "You ask him." Not in all cases would we ask.

Mr Wildman: I'd certainly ask Al.

Mr Bisson: Listen, Minister, if you tried to borrow my car, not only would I ask you for your licence, I'd ask for your Rolodex watch just to make sure you can cover the gas.


Mr Bisson: The Rolex watch, excuse me, because I'd have to assure myself you can pay for the gas. I can tell you, if ever I push you out of my car -- never mind. I won't go down that --


Mr Bisson: I was going to make a comparison to the fellow who was flying in a helicopter; it was over Bre-X. I won't get into that one; it's not in good taste.

Anyway, the point I want to make to the minister is, I understand it is my responsibility as the owner of the vehicle to say, "Do you have a driver's licence?" but there are cases where people have forged licences. I've seen that in my constituency office where people were driving under suspension and they had forged a licence and then they got in trouble for that, and I ended up dealing with that constituent over such a matter because there were problems with the insurance for having lent the car.

All I'm saying is I don't want the rules so stringent that I have to know exactly when a real driver's licence is actually in order, because some of the forgeries are actually pretty good. Sometimes you won't even know it if it's a person you know but haven't known for a number of years, maybe operating under a different name. All I'm saying is let's not make the law so tight that it doesn't allow for those special circumstances to be dealt with; forged licences and such, that's what I'm talking about. There are people who drive while under suspension and one of the ways they get around it is they have a forged licence. How would I know, if it looks legit? I just don't want to be penalized if that kind of situation was to arise and that person was to have my vehicle and get it impounded and I took the time to look at the licence and the licence was a fraudulent one.

The other issue the legislation deals with is school bus safety. I'll be political here on this point: He's basically enacting Pat Hoy's bill. The member for Essex-Kent put forward a bill in this House at private members' hour that deals with increasing fines for people who decide to pass school buses when the lights are flashing. I always thought that in this House we had a certain amount of civility, that if a private member comes forward with a bill and it's a bill that could be supported by the House on all sides, we give the member the opportunity and the credit for the work that's been done. In this particular case the minister, for whatever reason, would not call forward the member for Essex-Kent's bill to the committee to be dealt with. I always felt the reason he never did that was because he himself wanted to take the credit for something which I think was a good issue.

I say to the Minister of Transportation, you have the right as the minister to call whatever legislation or draft whatever legislation you want, but I think as an honourable member you also have the responsibility to be somewhat fair-minded when it comes to dealing with private members in this House. Clearly the member for Essex-Kent had put forward what I think was a good bill, a bill that was well thought out and one that tried to address some issues. I think we, and especially the minister because he's responsible in the end, should have given the member for Essex-Kent the ability to have his private member's bill passed in this House.

Instead, the minister decides: "Never mind. I'm not going to call the member for Essex-Kent's bill. I'm going to put in my own and I'll take the credit for it." I'm sorry; that doesn't go over with me and I think it probably doesn't go over very well with a lot of people in the public because we're supposed to be honourable members in this House.


Mr Bisson: I think the point is that they should have had a joint press release or a joint conference of some type, announcing the bill together if it was going to be a government bill, or at the very least let his bill stand. I don't think that was fair to the member for Essex-Kent. The point I want to make is that not only is this underhanded, in my view, I think it undermines the ability of members to get things done in this House at private members' hour.


We're all elected in our constituencies to come to this place and to represent our ridings. As well as representing our ridings, we're supposed to represent larger constituencies within the province. If I'm the transportation critic, I'm also responsible for advocating on behalf of those people who have an interest in transportation. In this particular case, the member for Essex-Kent brought forward a sound bill, and the minister usurping away the ability of the member to have his bill passed by doing it himself I think sends a funny message: "What's the point of bringing forward private members' bills?" I think we should allow members to have credit where credit is due.

I say in seriousness that when we were the government, a number of private bills came forward from your own party, the then third party, and never did our government try to do that. I remember one case in particular. Dianne Cunningham, the member for London Centre, I think it is --

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

Mr Bisson: I'm sorry about that. The member for London North brought forward a bill having to do with bicycle helmets, and we as a government could have done the same kind of thing, because in the end that was a good bill and it served the purpose. We didn't say, "We're going to let this bill die on the order paper and we'll bring it back ourselves." I think a government has to respond and recognize that when an individual member has a good bill, we should allow it to go through the private members' process so that the bill is actually enacted. If we don't respect that as members, I think we're making a sham of the process of private members' hour, and I think private members' hour is an important function of this Legislature.

The other part of this bill is the whole issue of school bus safety.

Another thing: There's some clarification of the motor vehicle collision reporting requirements. It's a minor part of the bill that says if you've seen an accident, you have the responsibility to report it, and if you don't, you get fined. I think that is a step in the right direction, because what he's trying to do here is to make sure that if people see accidents, they report those accidents so we can deal with the investigation in a sound manner.

Now we go on to truck safety, and this is what this bill is supposed to be about. If you'll notice, out of the items I've dealt with, only two, and I haven't gone to them yet, deal with truck safety. That's the point I started with at the beginning of this debate.

The minister, with great fanfare, over a period of months kept on talking about how he was going to be tough and how he was going to deal with the issue of flying truck wheels. Then the minister came into this House back in January and introduced a bill knowing full well that the bill would never be called forward. He tabled Bill 125 without the express permission of his own House leader. When he brought the bill in, he said, "I want speedy passage of this bill; let's get it through the House real quick," and then promptly took holidays and left this place. He was very good at doing press conferences and photo ops and very good at trying to respond politically to something that is a serious issue out in our community, namely, the separation of truck wheels, wheels flying off huge trucks. Then he played this game of cat and mouse for the next two months, trying to blame the opposition for stopping the legislation from coming through.

I want to say for the record that the House leader for the NDP, Bud Wildman, and the House leader for the Liberal Party repeatedly raised that issue with the government House leader, trying to get that bill called forward, and the government would not call it forward. I stood in this House on at least six occasions that I can remember asking for unanimous consent to deal with that bill then and there, at the moment, second and third reading on the same day if the government was serious about calling it. Never did they call it. They never allowed unanimous consent to happen. Here we are today and the government comes back and introduces Bill 125, which is supposed to be comprehensive truck safety legislation, and it's not that.

The point I make here is that the minister never had any intention of passing that legislation last winter. What he did was introduce the legislation to try to respond to what was a political outcry out there from the families and victims of incidents of flying truck wheels. He tried to escape the political consequences of not doing anything. The government at the time was busy dealing with what they considered to be more important legislation, such as merging the cities of Toronto, Scarborough and others into one megacity, such as merging all the school boards in Ontario, dealing with all the effects of their mega-week. They were busy cutting and slashing and the government didn't have time to deal with the issue of truck safety. That's what it was all about.

When we pressured the government and we kept on asking -- myself as the NDP transportation critic -- for unanimous consent to pass this bill, it put some pressure on the government to try to find some way out of it, what did we get? We got yet again what I think is a bit of a political response to a serious issue out in the motoring public's mind: The government basically has come back with two parts of the truck safety issue.

The reality is that the problem of truck safety is much more complex than just what this bill can deal with. All you're doing in this bill, when it comes to truck safety, is re-enacting Bill 125. The second point you're dealing with is the issue of vehicle impoundment when it comes to somebody found with an infraction. Those are but two issues. There are a whole bunch of other issues that have to be dealt with if we're going to make our highways safe and if we're going to assure ourselves that trucks on our highways and the trucking industry are made more safe. This ain't going to do it.

The reality is that it's a step in the right direction, however, and we'll vote in support of it because it's at least a measure that something is moving forward, and for that we give the minister some credit, but it stops short. It doesn't deal with the issue of truck safety.

If you're going to try to make our highways safe -- let's back up even before that. What's the basic problem we're having out there? We have more and more trucks on Ontario highways. Why? Because we have a deregulated trucking industry now and we have less reliance on freight train services. Most of it is now going on the highways. With an increase in trucks on the highways, we have a higher incidence of accidents involving trucks.

The other thing we have going on within the industry is the whole economic side of what's contributing to this problem. What's happening is that we have cut-rate operators, normally smaller ones -- not always -- who are trying to undercut the cost of being able to transport freight from point A to be point B and driving the price of shipping down. For the shipper, that's a great thing. Persons who are trying to ship components of some type from point A to point B are the winners because they get it done cheaper, but what ends up happening is that the economics make it very difficult for truck companies to do the kinds of things they have to do to make their trucks safe.

If you talk to reputable operators out there like Manitoulin and Northwind and other companies trying to do their jobs, they're spending in some cases millions of dollars in trying to make their trucks safe and are having to compete with cut-rate operators who are not doing the same kind of work, who are taking chances and going out on highways with unsafe trucks, are at times forcing the drivers to drive trucks that are unsafe. Also, they can cut a price to get the contract at the lowest possible price.

If you're ever going to deal with truck safety, you've got to deal with that issue. It's all economics, and you on the government side probably know that better than anybody, at least you say you do. But you can't deal with truck safety, in my view, by just trying to slap higher fines on people. All that's akin to is trying to close the barn door when the horse has bolted out. If you're going to deal with it, you've got to deal with the problem at the very beginning.

I'm not a big advocate of fines. We're going to support the legislation, as I say, because it is going to do something, but I personally am not an advocate of larger fines. I'm not convinced that the idea that somebody is going to get a higher fine is going to make them make their truck safer. They're still going to take a chance and go down the highway with trucks that are unsafe in some cases. Why? Because of the economics.

I talk to trucking operators in my community, in Timmins, Iroquois Falls or Matheson, and they're having a hard time trying to make a buck. That's the issue. When you can't make a buck, what do you do? You cut corners as best you can. The owner-operators of the trucks or companies don't want to put the motoring public at risk, but that's the effect because they're having to compete against other operators who are cutting prices to get contracts.

I don't argue that we regulate the fee structures of the trucking industry. I think we've gone past that point, but I think we have to come at this from a comprehensive position. We have to say that if we're going to make our highways safe and if we're going to make sure that the industry, namely the trucking industry, is as safe as is humanly possible, we all have a stake in making that happen. Government has a stake, because we can regulate to a certain extent a number of the issues. The trucking industry itself has a responsibility, the drivers have a responsibility, the mechanics who inspect and fix the trucks have a responsibility and the shippers have a responsibility. Unless we come at it from the perspective of trying to make sure that everybody -- that we change the culture in the trucking industry so that everybody takes responsibility, I don't think we're going to be able to solve this problem.

Really think about it, Minister. You own a trucking company and you're having a tough month or a tough year. It's like: "If I don't get this contract shipping these goods, I'm not going to have the cash flow to keep my company going, so I'll cut my prices somewhat and I'll do the best I can on the maintenance in order to try and make a buck. Maybe things will be better down the road and I'll be able to do the things I've got to do. I'll take a chance that maybe I'll get that fine. Maybe I'll get off or maybe it won't stand up in court." That's the problem with this kind of stuff.


What you're better off to do is set the economics straight for the industry at the beginning. Again, I'm not arguing that we regulate the costs, how much they should charge their customers, but I think we need to make sure we weed out by economic and regulatory means those operators who are the problems in the industry. How do you, if you're Northwind Transport or Manitoulin or whoever it might be, compete with somebody who owns a couple of trucks, or in some cases even more than a couple of trucks, because some of these guys have as many as 50 trucks?


Mr Bisson: I'm not saying it won't help at all. That's not the point I'm making, Minister. I'm saying, imagine you're the large shipping company, you're the trucking company, and you're having to compete head to head on a route from Windsor to Oshawa, transporting automotive parts, with some guy who has 50 trucks and says, "I'm going to slash the price because I'm trying to get in on this particular market." There are only so many places you can cut costs. You know as well as I do what ends up happening. Maintenance is one of those costs that end up getting cut.

All I'm saying is we need to come at this from a different perspective. I would argue we have to change first of all the attitude within and outside the trucking industry when it comes to trucking. I think that's one of the things we have to do, and I'll speak about that in a little bit more detail.

The other thing that I think is equally important is that these trucks are not big cars. That's the problem with what we're doing here: We're looking at 18-wheel trucks that weigh over 110,000 tonnes loaded and we're saying we're going to treat them just like they were big cars. They're not big cars; they are shipping vehicles. We need to be able to set up the conditions in such a way, both by way of regulation and of law, as to make sure the responsibilities must be taken by all the stakeholders within the industry -- not just the owners, not just the operators, but all people involved in trucking.

How do you do that? I think it's a comprehensive approach that's needed. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I think if we were to take our time and try to do this job right, we'd be able to get to a lot of these problems. One of the things we can do at the very beginning is say to the people who use trucks to ship goods, "We want you shipping on reputable operators." If you have an unreputable operator who's out there doing something wrong and gets fined, maybe you should make the shipper, as part of the responsibility, pay that fine. Maybe that's what you have to do.

Hon Mr Palladini: I'm looking at that.

Mr Bisson: The minister says he's looking at that. Why is it not in this legislation? Why don't we take that approach? A big part of the problem is the people who use the trucks. You can't just penalize the truck operators and the truck owners.

In my view, you have to go at the people who use them and say: "Listen, if you're going to use reputable operators who do their job well and do it effectively, efficiently and safely, you're going to be fine, but if you want to take your chance and roll the dice, as Brian Mulroney used to say, and use a cut-rate operator and that cut-rate operator gets into an accident that causes injury or death, you're going to be partly responsible." Maybe that's what you have to do. I don't think you can leave the shipper completely out of the picture.

The other thing we can do is take a look at the whole issue of the trucking companies themselves and the people who inspect trucks, making sure that is done properly. You know as well as I do that if you really want to in Ontario you can go to a person who has an inspection garage, who has a class A mechanic's licence, who is in the business of inspecting trucks, and if you get a shady one, you can get what's called a lick-and-stick, where you give the mechanic a number of dollars and they give you a sticker that you can throw on your trailer or truck to say that it has been inspected, when it has not been inspected.

We need to get at that problem. That's how a lot of these illegal trucks, in my view, end up on the road. What's happening is that the owner or the operator -- the owner in this particular case -- says: "It's going to cost me too much money to get this thing up to standard. I've got cut-rate prices because I'm undercutting one of the majors. I`m going to get myself one of these lick-and-sticks, as they call them in the industry, for $300, $400, $500, and I'll be down driving on the road. If I get caught it's part of the cost of doing business. Maybe I won't." I think that's one of the things we need to do: We need to properly regulate who is able to do work on trucks, who can inspect trucks, and to make sure that they're doing their job properly.

I think it's an internal responsibility system. Again I'd say that a lot of the major operators out there, the bigger ones and even some of the smaller ones -- I remember Mr Metsala in Timmins who had a trucking company. He took great care in making sure that his three trucks were always in great shape. But what I'm saying is that we need to make sure that the mechanics who are working on trucks are certified and we have to make sure that the work that they're doing is up to standard and proper inspections are being done.

The other thing we need to do is possibly look at increasing the frequency of inspections for trucks. Part of the problem now is by law we only have to inspect them once per year. Is that enough? I say no. The minute that you drive the truck down the highway the wear and tear starts. I think the amount of miles that are put on these trucks and the speed and the condition of the highways that we have add to these trucks going out of shape and eventually, within a fairly short period of time after they've been inspected for that yearly inspection, there might be something wrong with them. Maybe what we need to do is increase the inspections.

I was talking to -- I forget the gentleman's name -- the president of one of the trucking companies in Oshawa. He said it's only good business for them to inspect their trucks on a more frequent basis, because if they're able to catch a problem up front early on it saves them money in maintenance costs or in costs of reparation for the vehicles. So I don't think it would be a great onerous cost to the trucking industry. In fact it probably would help them. It would help them weed out some of those disreputable truck operators who are out there undercutting the prices and making it difficult for the reputable operators. I think that's one of the things you can do.

The other thing we can be looking at is the issue of the drivers themselves, making sure that drivers are properly trained. For the most part, most of our drivers are pretty reputable people. But we have some schools out there that are putting drivers out, in my view, talking to the people in the industry, talking to the truckers, that they're pretty fearful of. You get, as they call them in the industry, some jockey behind the wheel who's only just now got his licence and the person's doing long-haul somewhere.

Maybe we need to look at a couple of issues. Maybe we need to look at how we license drivers in the first place. Maybe we should say, "Let's recognize that driving is a profession." It's not as simple as getting behind the wheel and stepping on the gas and going down the highway. There are all kinds of things you need to know to be a good driver. You have to understand your vehicle, and our vehicles are much more complex today than they were 20 years ago. You have to understand the rules of the road. You have to understand how to react under certain conditions with your vehicle. What do you do if you're on ice with a 110,000-pound vehicle? What do you do if you're out in the rain and this condition happens? You also have to know some basic mechanics to be able to properly inspect your truck.

Maybe one of the things we should be moving to is a mandatory licensed program of some type by which we license our drivers, and then when we do give them their licences, maybe we should move to a graduated driver's licence system for truck drivers, such as we did with the driver of a car. It's ludicrous -- think about it -- that in Ontario it takes longer to get your driver's licence to drive the family car than it does to drive a truck.

Maybe we should be looking at extending the graduated driver's licence system that our government, the NDP government, had put in place for private cars and people with normal class-G licences to trucks, so that when they do come out of their driving school that has been properly done, they don't graduate all of a sudden to long-haul. Maybe at first they've got to drive with another driver, and after a while they're only allowed to drive on the shorter hauls and eventually graduate to being able to drive the longer hauls.

We need to make sure that the drivers are properly trained when it comes to inspection. Not in all cases do the drivers know what to look for. Most do, the guys or the women who have been around for a while, but we need to make sure that they understand how to do a proper inspection of their vehicle.

One of the other things that we've got to do, in my view, and I know this would be controversial from the government's perspective, but we've got to give truck drivers the right to refuse unsafe work. The logic of this stuff boggles the mind. If you work in an underground environment, if you work in a mine, if you work in a car factory, if you work in a retail store somewhere, you can refuse unsafe work and you have the protection of the Occupational Health and Safety Act to make sure that your employer doesn't have any reprisals against you for refusing unsafe work. But in the trucking industry we don't consider the truck the workplace, so the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not apply to trucks. Hence, truck drivers can't refuse unsafe work.


Never mind myself. How many times have you as members been out there talking to people in the trucking industry where a trucker will come up to you and say, "Listen, I don't want to drive that unsafe truck, but my employer says if I don't do it I'm going to be kicking stones down the road, I'm going to lose my job; all I know is that I've got to pay the bills at the end of the month, I've got a mortgage, I've got a family to support, I've got a kid in college, my daughter needs braces," or whatever it might be? They can't afford it. It's the economics of what happens to working people.

One of the things we need to do is give the truck drivers the same rights as every other worker in the province of Ontario, to say that if there is an unsafe truck you can refuse to drive it and that the employer cannot threaten you in any kind of way, shape or form to prevent you refusing to work.

I think if you did that it would clean up a lot of the industry, because in talking to most drivers out there, I know they see themselves as what they are, professional truck drivers. They're tired of always being the ones blamed every time something happens. In many cases, it's because they've been forced or put into a position they really don't want to be in.

I think we should take a look at redefining the Occupational Health and Safety Act in such a way that gives the truck driver the ability to refuse work. All we'd have to do there is to say the truck is considered a workplace, and that would be it. That little amendment in this bill would not solve the problem but would certainly go a long way to being able to deal with this particular issue.

But again, for whatever reason, the Minister of Transportation doesn't include this kind of stuff in his legislation. Instead what does he do? He comes back with the

penalties if you do something wrong. I think we need to look at more than just the penalties; we need to look at the problem.

It just amazes me because this government says: "We're the commonsense government. We're the Common Sense Revolution. We do everything that's common sense." There's no common sense in what we're doing here. I'll bet every government member out there, right now that if it was the Bob Rae NDP government that came forward with these two items, you would be out there chastising us from pillar to post. You would be sitting there saying: "Oh, the NDP government, look at that, all they want to do is fine people. They don't want to deal with the issue." But the minute you get into government what do you do? This is the stuff you do.

I'm saying it might deal with some of the problem but it only scrapes the surface. We need to look at the problem. We need to get at the root of it. One of the things we have to do is try to change the culture within the trucking industry.

I'll give you a good example. Some years ago it was recognized in Ontario that there were a lot of unsafe situations when it came to industrial chemicals within the workplace. There was improper labelling of chemicals in the workplace. There was improper training about how to deal with chemicals as far as transportation and moving them around was concerned. There wasn't sufficient explanation of how to deal with it if you got exposed to some chemical in a mill or a factory somewhere. Do you shower under water? Do you need a special kind of foam? Do you drink milk if you swallowed it? All of those kinds of things.

What happened was, as a lot of people were getting hurt and killed in workplaces because of what was happening around the lack of knowledge about how to deal with chemicals within the workplace, along came a program called WHMIS. What WHMIS did was take the approach of saying: "Let's not fine the employer for having not told an employee about how to properly deal with the equipment or deal with the chemical. Let's make sure that we explain to people what it is they're handling, make sure that workers are properly trained in understanding hazardous chemicals and materials. Let's make sure that the employer takes the responsibility and understands and is trained about how to deal with it. Let's make sure that the ministry is properly able to respond to issues within the workplace."

Over a period of about three or four years there was extensive training done, from about 1986-87 on, where we started doing what we called WHMIS training within the workplace. If you look at the records now, the stats speak for themselves. You have today far less incidence of workers and people within industry being hurt or killed because of being exposed to some chemical. Why? Because we took the time to train people, we took the time to say everybody has a responsibility. It's not just the employer, but the employee as well and others. It's the shipper of the goods. It's the seller of the goods. It's the company that's using it. It's the workers. All of us have a responsibility.

I think that's a better way to go. We need to make sure that we all take responsibility, and maybe within the trucking industry what we need to do is do a similar kind of thing where we try to change that attitude within the industry itself.

I would just say another thing to the trucking industry. It always amazes me how sometimes certain industries don't take the time to try to toot their own horn, to present things in the proper light.

I come from a mining community, the city of Timmins, and you'll wonder why I'm saying this, but it'll become clear. For years you'd go to school, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and if you didn't do well the teachers would say to you, "You're going to end up working in the mines just like your dad." They were trying to make out that mining was a bad thing, and the industry did nothing about that. They didn't do anything to try to enhance the image of working in the mines. I say, what's wrong with working in the mines? It's a great living. It's a highly technical skill, a highly interesting job that's extremely well paying. It's gotten a lot safer over the years. There's nothing wrong with it. But when did people start seeing it like that? When the industry started saying: "Hang on a second. We're giving ourselves a bad rep because we're not out there promoting ourselves and telling people what we do and how well we do it."

I think the trucking industry and truck drivers need to come together to explain to the motoring public what the trucking industry is all about, explain its worth to our economy, explain what they do well and also admit what they don't do well and try to move forward in addressing some of those issues, so that we're working at this problem not just trying to penalize the trucking industry but trying to deal with it as a community of interest, which in this case is the motoring public. I think this bill really stops short of dealing with the issue overall.

Madam Speaker, I believe there's not a quorum present.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is present, Speaker.

Mr Bisson: I could have sworn there weren't 20 members here.


Mr Bisson: It's nice to see that members of the government side are listening. I've always noticed that. I don't know if I should take it as flattering or the other way around, but I notice that members of the government listen intently when I speak on bills, and for that I thank you. It shows that the people of Cochrane South are getting their money's worth when my paycheque is paid.

The other couple of issues I'd like to raise in the time that's left are the stuff that I think the bill doesn't deal with.

Let me back up. There's just one other thing before I get off what I was saying. The minister started a consultation process about a year or a little more than a year ago. He brought together the Ministry of Transportation folks with the people in the Ontario Trucking Association, the trucking industry, and he formed this thing called Target '97. The industry and the Ministry of Transportation did some good work in coming together and looking at the issues that are causing unsafe trucks and accidents on our roads and what we can do from a comprehensive standpoint to deal with this.

The committee came back and made a number of recommendations, some 79 of them, that the government can deal with. I have two things to say. First of all, where are the 79 things recommended under Target '97? All I see here when I count them is one, two: Two things are being dealt with from the recommendations of Target '97. Why did the government go through this long, expensive consultation process if they didn't have the intention of following through on the recommendations of Target '97?

I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in the industry and a lot of people within the Ministry of Transportation who are not entirely happy with what's in Target '97 but certainly saw it as addressing a number of the key issues to make trucks safer on our highways. Where are they? What I'm told today is, "Don't worry, we're going to deal with this by way of regulation." Well, excuse me, by way of regulation? Do you know what that means? It means the government is going to present this bill, which they've done today, that we're going to give it passage within the next week or two, and then the government's going to say: "We're off the hook. We don't have to deal with anything else. We passed this bill."

I'm sorry. The problem is not going to go away. Quite frankly, I don't trust this government to deal with this stuff by way of regulation, because this government does not have a very good track record. Why would this stuff be done behind closed doors? For people who are watching back home to understand, there are two ways the government can deal with an issue: You can pass a law, as we're doing now, which means there is public debate, there's public accountability, you the public are able to come before a committee to speak to the bill, to make recommendations or criticize or say that this is good work. Then there is that accountability process which makes the bill a little bit better. Then we finally pass what in the end is a better bill. Why? Because the public is involved.


This government is saying the 79 recommendations under Target '97 will be passed by way of regulation. What's the difference in doing it through regulation? It means it's done by the cabinet. It's done behind closed doors. The public doesn't have access to the cabinet room. Only the cabinet minister does. Parliamentary assistants and government backbench members or opposition members can't get to the cabinet room, so why do it there? We should have some sort of public process so that those people involved in the industry and the public have an opportunity to take a look at it. In fact, if you look at the whole process of Target '97, it was as fairly exclusive group that dealt with it.

I have a list of people who presented to the Target '97 group. I look at this list of some 20 organizations and individuals. Do I see the public here? Is there anybody from the public on this list? No. Where was CRASH? That's one of the only groups advocating out there on behalf of the motoring public to make our highways safer by increasing truck safety. They weren't invited. In fact, I asked the question in the House one day and the minister responded something along the lines of, "They don't have anything constructive to say."

I'm sorry, Minister, nobody gave you the power to hide behind cabinet doors to do all this stuff. You have a responsibility to the public. It means you've got to deal with organizations like CRASH and you've got to deal with other organizations or individuals who have something to say. It only makes the process better.

I say to the government, your process of Target '97 did create, however, because industry was there with the ministry, some good, positive recommendations. I think it was inherently flawed because you did not have the public as part of the process. You can't do this stuff in isolation. I believe what's happening with this bill is that the government is saying: "We have a political problem. The public has caught on that there are mega-problems within the trucking industry" for the reasons I said a little while ago. "We, the government of Mike Harris, and I, the Minister of Transportation, Al Palladini, have to be seen as doing something to address the problem."

So what did they do? They announced a committee, Target '97. They went out behind closed doors. We can't even get the minutes of the meetings they had from discussing the issues; they're saying they're not available to the public. Then they made a bunch of recommendations. Great fanfare. Actually, the minister was a little bit surprised by the recommendations, but we won't talk about that because I don't want you getting into trouble with the OTA here. Basically, the recommendations were brought forward. I notice you're smiling there. I'd be smiling too if I were you.

Hon Mr Palladini: I don't think David Bradley is smiling.

Mr Bisson: Maybe not.

The point I'm getting at is that Target '97 came forward. It was done behind closed doors. The public didn't have an opportunity to make any kind of representation to that committee, to be part of the committee, to be part of the process to make it stronger. Instead, you made a great fanfare, announced the recommendations of Target '97 and then, because of public pressure you brought in Bill 125 but wouldn't call the bill forward because you knew the government House leader didn't give you the support you needed to pass the bill because your government was busy dealing with other more important issues such as mega-week.

I remember I asked the questions of the minister a couple of weeks ago and he said: "Oh, don't worry. I'm coming forward with comprehensive truck safety policy. We're going to deal with all of those issues." I'm sorry, the only thing you're dealing with when it comes to truck safety is Bill 125. You're dealing with the absolute liability offences for wheel separations -- as I call them, flying truck wheels -- and you're dealing with the issue of commercial vehicle impoundment. That's all you're dealing with in this legislation.

I am not saying they're not good issues and that they're not a step in the right direction. But Minister, you fall short. You fall so short it's unbelievable when it comes to what you called comprehensive truck safety policy. In fact, the bill is not called "comprehensive truck safety policies"; it's called the "road safety package." I think after this point we're going to go through the committee process, we're going to have some debate on this particular bill, we're going to get it passed, then the minister is going to go away and hope the problem goes away because he doesn't want to get in a fight with the trucking association.

Hon Mr Palladini: Not a chance.

Mr Bisson: Minister, your record is not spot on. Bring that stuff forward. Don't do it by way of regulation. What I'm suggesting to you is that instead of doing things behind closed doors, why don't you bring the stuff out from behind closed doors? Allow the public and groups like CRASH and others to be there, to comment, to be part of the process so we can look at finding a comprehensive response to what is a very complex problem. To say we're going to make this problem go away just because of a couple of parts in a bill that deal with fines really falls short of what needs to be done.

Some of the stuff we could take a look at if we went that way: We could look at the issue of hours of work, how many hours a truck driver is allowed to drive on our highways. In Ontario we allow our drivers to drive longer, harder and farther than any other jurisdiction in North America. In the United States the maximum number of consecutive hours an American truck driver can drive is 10; in Ontario it's 13. Why don't we look at hours of work as one issue we can deal with?

Do you think it's safe, Minister, that somebody is behind the wheel of a huge vehicle such as a 110,000-tonne rig for 13 hours? You know as well as I do that the trip logs are played with. The driver is supposed to log when he has driven, what time he got into the truck and where he has been. You know as well as I do that that's played with and that drivers end up driving for longer than 13 hours. We need to deal with that. We can't just penalize the drivers, because they're doing it because of the scale of pay they're getting. We've got to deal with those issues.

First of all, it's not right from an industrial relations standpoint, in terms of what's fair to the driver, to put the drivers in those kinds of situations. Drivers should be paid an adequate wage to drive a truck and do it in a safe manner. With the kilometrage rates they're getting now, they're more or less forced to drive longer hours and drive a lot farther and a lot faster than they would really like to.

I was at Malette waferboard about a month ago. I was talking to one truck driver who was just leaving with his rig, and that's the comment the guy was making. He was saying, "The only way I can make a buck is that I've got to drive for the next 16 hours." I think we're really skirting around the bush when it comes to this particular issue.

We need to take a look at all those issues and bring them together and try to work with the industry, the motoring public, the groups and associations that represent the motoring public and the trucking industry, and the ministry so we can look at what needs to be done, and then we say: "We all take responsibility. Everybody has a role to play when it comes to dealing with this particular issue."

I say to the minister that this is a step in the right direction; I don't dispute that. Our caucus will support you on this legislation. I'm hoping you're going to reconsider the approach you've taken up to now and that you come back with a good, comprehensive policy or legislation to deal with this.

I just want to say by way of this debate that my caucus sponsored what is called a committee standing order 125, which would have dealt with looking at these issues from a broader perspective. We were supposed to start our public hearings on Monday, where the public and other people from the trucking associations etc would have had an opportunity to come forward and comment on how we can make the industry safer, to deal with all these issues.

In the spirit of cooperation with the government, I've decided to pull back that 125. We're doing that because we're saying: "Let's give the minister some credit. He has come forward with something that is a positive step." We're saying to the minister, "We'll pull back our committee hearings, and instead we'll deal with these issues when this bill goes to committee over the next couple of weeks." Let's try it over there, but let's open our ears, let's listen to what people are saying, let's learn from the committee process, when people come before us, what we can be doing and set up some sort of process afterwards so we can deal with this in a comprehensive manner.

You know, Minister, that this problem cannot be solved by one single piece of legislation; it's much more complex than that. We need somehow to find a way to cut out partisan politics and deal with this as what it is: a safety issue. When it comes to safety issues, we need to keep straight who in the end we're representing. We shouldn't be representing our political parties; we should be representing the motoring public and the people within the industry.

We need to make sure for people that we have an industry that is as safe as it can be, at the same time ensuring that they can make a proper dollar so they can afford to do the kind of maintenance that needs to be done on their vehicles. We need to ensure that the truck drivers are properly trained; that they have the right to refuse unsafe work if there's an unsafe truck; that they're properly paid to do their job and we don't make them drive the long hours we sometimes force them do.


With those comments, I would like to thank the minister, on behalf of the NDP caucus and my leader, Howard Hampton, for the legislation that is coming forward. We look forward to working with the minister at the committee level to bring forward some positive suggestions on how we can either enhance this legislation or look at a future process through which we are able to deal with some of the broader issues.

I plan in the next while, after those committee hearings, to give you my own report on the work we've been doing in our caucus with trucking companies, with the drivers, with unions, with various people involved in trucking companies. Some, I think, are positive recommendations that can be done to deal with that. The report is called Target Safety. I look forward to sitting down with the minister and presenting him with that information at a future date so that all of us, on all sides of the House, can get together to try to address what is a very important issue in Ontario, the issue of truck safety.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I want to congratulate the minister for bringing forward this road safety package which deals with not only truck safety but the problem of drinking and driving and other safety-related issues. I know he's gone through a tough time over the last couple of years. It hasn't been easy. There have been a lot of demands, a lot of scrutiny, a lot of public awareness about the importance of having safe trucks, and a safety initiative that deals especially with truck tires on our highways.

As I said, he hasn't shrunk from the challenge; he has faced it head-on. I know I've disagreed with him on how he's faced it at times and so forth, but I certainly knew it was his intention to deal with the issue, as the bottom line says, to make our roads safe. He did everything possible to try to reduce the incidence of unsafe trucks on our highways.

As I said, it hasn't been easy for him. I do give him a pat on the back for that, a sincere pat on the back, because it's been very challenging. I know his ministry has been working very hard at it on all fronts. There have been a lot of human resources put on it. It's something that he should look upon as an accomplishment, but I think he realizes himself that there is still work to do. I heard him on the radio this morning talking about other initiatives that have to be followed through on.

The opposition, as well as being critical, has been very much supportive of anything that dealt with this challenge of making our roads safer. The opposition has played a positive role in this. I certainly commend the member from the third party, the member for Cochrane South, who reminded the minister that our own member for Essex-Kent, Pat Hoy, through a private member's bill, brought a lot of attention to bear on school bus safety. The member for Cochrane South went out of his way to commend Pat Hoy for his efforts in bringing that to the front.

Maybe the only criticism I'll make of the minister is that he should have perhaps gone above party politics and supported the bill Pat Hoy brought forward. I think that would have been the right thing to do, but I guess politically he couldn't do it. But at least he mentioned that Pat Hoy was instrumental in pushing the agenda on safety for our children on school buses.

I certainly want to commend our transportation critic, Dwight Duncan from Windsor-Walkerville, who also held the minister's feet to the fire. As you know, a couple of weeks ago we heard the Premier complaining that they couldn't bring forth the truck safety legislation because the opposition had been filibustering and they didn't have time. I think everybody, certainly inside this House and outside, knew that was a phony excuse, that something had happened within the Premier's office or the House leader's office whereby they didn't want to bring this bill forward, whereby they couldn't follow through with this bill. That's why the bill was not brought forward. The opposition was willing and able to debate it on a day's notice. We've got to give credit to the member for Windsor-Walkerville, who put forth his own private member's bill to further the cause of the minister bringing forth this bill as we have it today.

I think this is an example of where an opposition that is vigilant, that is involved in an issue can help bring forward good legislation. This is good legislation. It is something that is needed, it's something that I think the public supports and it's something that all of us on the official opposition side support. As the member for Windsor-Walkerville said, there are some aspects of it on which we're going to bring forward a couple of amendments in committee. Those are positive suggestions. Hopefully the minister and his staff will pay attention to that, to a couple of the suggestions.

I hope they also listen to the suggestion and the concern that Pat Hoy has in regard to that limit on the dollar amount of fines. He was very concerned that the $400 limit may not involve the police. The police had some difficulty perhaps trying to pursue a higher fine. I hope Pat Hoy gets a chance to explain that in committee and that the minister listens.

On the process side, I think it's a good example of where the opposition has done the minister a favour, in that if it wasn't for the opposition we wouldn't have had the speedy, expeditious bringing forth of this bill. It has brought it forward now, at the beginning of the summer months, the most heavily travelled months on our highways. It really benefits not only the minister, it benefits the travelling public and the motoring public across Ontario, that it's brought forward speedily. People are very quick and you can't blame them for criticizing the way this Legislative Assembly works, but this is an example of how it can work with significant input from the opposition benches.

There's a sincerity here. I listened to the comments of the member for Cochrane South. He put forward a lot of good ideas, sincere ideas, on what he thought could be added as we continue on, making this a more comprehensive package, putting more pieces together in this package. He reminded me of the fact that real truck safety has to do with more than just truck drivers or operators or even the companies; it's a total involvement by all partners who deal with road safety -- the Ministry of Transportation, the OPP, the public and all the agencies and interest groups that get involved with highway safety.

Maybe for too long we've looked at road safety as a static 1970s, 1960s type of thing whereby things were moving incrementally. In the last seven or eight years we've seen quite a visible shift in what is happening on our roads. I don't mean that as a pun. I think we've seen a vast increase in the number of truck operators, the shift from rail to trucking. We've seen our highways visibly, and any of us who travel the highways see what the difference has been about.

That challenge of making our roads safe has been expedited because of the changing economic conditions. The travelling dynamics have changed. The economic dynamics: We talked about the just-in-time delivery system, where the warehousing doesn't take place as it used to back in the 1960s and 1970s, because of the cost. The just-in-time delivery system is an essential part of every business plan that industrial manufacturers have to have to be competitive. They have to get their goods delivered to their factory, to their industrial site when they need them. They can't afford to be holding goods in abeyance in some warehouse situation. That dynamic has really caused an immense amount of pressure on our highways, on the operators, on the trucking companies, and that manifests itself in some of the accidents that we see on our highways.


There is this enormous competitive pressure and I think the minister has been trying to respond to that. That's why the minister knows it's not one piece of legislation that's going to do it; it's not two or three. It's really an ongoing commitment to this comprehensive approach to road safety.

I'm glad, in terms of this bill, that there is also attention paid to the drinking and driving dilemma. I think the minister has dealt with this in a tough but fair fashion. It is just not acceptable any more to have people endanger the lives of innocent bystanders, innocent motorists with their drinking and driving, and I think the penalties and the measures taken are going to help. They're not going to solve it completely because, as we know, every time a law is passed, there is some other nuance which makes it difficult to implement.

Some of the statistics are quite shocking and the public should be aware of them. Drinking drivers are responsible for one third of the fatalities on Ontario highways. Besides the human cost, it costs $2 billion every year to provide medical services for people who are victimized by drinking drivers. There's enormous cost in human life, in injury and in financial costs as a result of drinking drivers. Another frightening point is that one of these deaths occurs every 24 hours.

It's an ongoing, abhorrent activity that takes place. We are at least, by supporting this legislation, going to try and do something to bring that under control and to make a very public statement that it is not acceptable for this to continue. It has to be stopped. We can't tolerate this drinking and driving.

I also am glad that the minister has included some educational programs, some counselling programs along with the punitive approach. They have to be done because I think whether it be in drinking and driving or safe driving and safety on our highways, one interesting component that doesn't get enough investment is the educational component.

I know most of you who travel the highways or the streets in our main cities and our small cities agree that drivers are tending to be more and more aggressive. I think the safety conditions of our highways reflect that higher level of aggression which is on our highways, whether it be the result of this competitive pressure, the workplace stress -- who knows? But I think on every street in a town or city or on the 401 or the 427 or Highway 69, the worst highway in Ontario, people are driving more aggressively, and when they drive aggressively they don't drive as safely. That heightens the level of anxiety and it heightens the chance of there being more accidents.

That type of anxiety and aggression on our highways should also be dealt with in educational programs. I know it's done to a certain extent. We see the ads every now and then, we see the RIDE programs. But I think there has be a comprehensive investment in educating the public on safe, courteous, reasonable driving habits because it's something that is not done as a matter of course any more.

If you travel the 401, it's almost startling when you see someone travelling the speed limit, for instance: "What's wrong with that person? It must be someone who is just out for a Sunday drive." Everybody drives over the speed limit. It's part of this aggressive hell-bent-for-leather approach to driving, which I think can only be remedied by a comprehensive educational investment process whereby we tell people that, if you save that five minutes, what does it really get you if you get into an accident or if you hurt someone? There are just too many people driving too fast.

On our city streets it's incredible the attitude that motorists have. The running of red lights is almost commonplace. At any major intersection in Metro, motorists habitually run red lights. You talk to the police officers in Metropolitan Toronto, and they say they cannot believe the regular pattern of people running red lights. The police officers have no ability to stop them because they are short-staffed. As you know, the police have even asked for lights, they've asked for cameras at high-collision intersections, to at least dissuade people from running red lights. That's one of the things I have asked the minister in the past. I've said, "Take a look at a red light camera at a high-collision intersection." We had a severe fatality at Dufferin and St Clair last summer, where a motorist ran through a red light and got a $300 fine. Killed one person, injured about five others; ran a red light and got away with $300.

There has to be a program in place which dissuades people from driving aggressively and habitually disobeying red lights, speed limits and basic rules of the road. It is epidemic, and that is what the minister, in part, is faced with on trying to make our highways safer. That is why his role or his challenge has been so great. It's not just a mechanical thing, it's not just a training of wheel installers; it's an attitudinal problem that has developed, and not just in Ontario.

There is this attitudinal shift whereby our highways are like speedways. Roads are basically speedways and God help anyone who is in your way. I think that can only be remedied if the minister continues to go on investing in regulating, monitoring and educating the motorists, educating truck drivers, educating the owners of the companies, the operators, letting them know that safety is to be complimented, safety is to be rewarded.

I know, I've talked to truck drivers myself, who are well intentioned, trying to make a living, and what they're saying is, "I sometimes have to be very careful if I approach the trucking company that I work for, if I continue to complain about the state of my rig." That shouldn't have to take place. I think the good trucking companies, the good operators, do want that input from their drivers, but there are too many who are basically intimidating drivers, saying, "Listen, you either take that truck out or forget the job." No one can say no to a job these days, especially the trucking industries. There are thousands of truckers who are out of work who are dying for any piece of work.

There has also got to be some kind of reward or some kind of mindset change within the trucking industry, where there's a systematic investment in safety teams, investment in safety committees, whereby the operators don't have this hanging over their heads about safety being sidetracked by the economic interests of the day.

That sort of mindset change will make the minister's ultimate goal a lot more achievable, because this bill, as good as it is -- and I think it's certainly going in the right direction -- is not going to get rid of flying truck tires. We're still going to have them. We're still going to have rigs on our roads without their brakes in proper working order, with bald tires; that still is going to happen. That is why the minister must continue to take very fundamental steps in terms of shifting the mindset of people in the business, the motoring public and our government's attitude.


For example, here's one of the things people constantly complain to me about. They say: "Everywhere you look on our city streets, there are people being paid by the government to hand out tickets. Everywhere you turn around, there's some person giving someone a ticket, yet at the intersection where people are running through red lights, you can't find a cop." They're saying: "Why are we paying all these green hornets, yellow hornets, blue hornets, parking enforcement officers, giving out tickets to some person parked on a side street going in to buy a loaf of bread, when meanwhile there are people running red lights and you can't get enough officers on the street corners to enforce that kind of basic safety?"

That comes to the whole issue of a government's priorities. It's not a provincial government priority by itself; it has to go right down to municipal priorities also, saying that maybe safety officers are more important than ticketing officers. Maybe you should have more police officers who are checking for people running red lights or checking for people driving dangerously or driving drunk, more than you need to hire all these people ticketing parked cars all over the city.

Maybe that is something the minister can have a discussion about, because I know his responsibility goes beyond the main thoroughfares. He's the lead person in setting the right attitude towards motor safety, motor vehicle inspections, policing of our highways. He can really set the tone. My suggestion is that you have discussions with local police officers, the police services boards, about regional governments and municipal governments investing in safety rather than parking tickets.

In terms of the role of government, as you know, when this minister first came to the Legislature, I think he was persuaded by the backroom whiz kids that government should take a back seat and should not regulate, should not get involved in such an issue, that essentially the marketplace would take care of itself, that the market forces would take care of road safety.

I think the minister has come to realize that doesn't work. There are certain things government has to do. Government must intervene to make our roads safer. That's why this bill is something the NDP and the Liberals would do for sure. We believe in government intervention when it's needed. The Reform types feel, "Oh, no, government can't intervene there," but government has to regulate the trucking industry. Government has to ensure that wheel installers are trained. Government has to impose fines. Government has to invest in highways. Government has to invest in safety, and you have to have OPP officers on those highways.

I think that's why this minister over the last couple of years has put forth more and more legislation, because he knows government cannot have a laissez-faire attitude towards safety. It doesn't work. The marketplace will end up causing all kinds of disruptions and accidents on our highways, because the marketplace doesn't care about safety.

What the marketplace cares about first of all, as you know, is the bottom line. If safety happens to be part of that, fine. That's why this government had to intervene in road safety, in the trucking business. As much as the trucking industry wants to be left alone, the public has been very clear and the opposition has been very clear that the trucking industry has to be watched, has to be regulated, that the trucking industry cannot be left to its own devices.

I think even the trucking industry now realizes it has to cooperate with government in terms of making its trucks safer and our roads safer, because those roads do not belong to the trucking companies; those roads do not belong to that motorist. Those roads belong to all Ontarians. Therefore they must be made safe for all Ontarians. There's no special interest group that owns those roads, and that's why it's paramount that safety has to be inclusive of all Ontarians.

It doesn't matter whether you're driving a Lincoln Continental, a pickup truck or an 18-wheeler, or you're on a motorcycle. Those roads have to be made safe for everyone. That is what has to happen in terms of this attitudinal change in saying that we cannot just leave safety up to the private sector, because the private sector will not put safety first unless government holds their feet to the fire.

That's what this bill starts to do more of and what this bill essentially has to give out as a message to everyone, whether it be with the drunk driving restrictions and the fines etc and also in terms of taking safety seriously. We must not for a moment think that a person who owns a truck owns that road. We must ensure that they are aware of the fact that the little vehicle has as much right on the road as the commercial vehicle and that the safety of that vehicle is paramount in importance.

I remember I happened to be on the highway the day when just outside of Oshawa that flying truck tire came across and took off the top of that car and killed a woman, unfortunately, on the way eastward from Toronto. I thought it was so ironic that there I was, a member of the Legislature who is involved in transportation as a critic. I think that was almost an ominous message for me, to say that if I have the ability as a member of this Legislature to do something about making our roads safer, it is my obligation and duty to do that.

At least I am not as helpless as a lot of people on our roads are. At least I can talk to the minister. I can do what Pat Hoy did, present a private member's bill, or what Dwight Duncan from Windsor-Walkerville did, present his private member's bill. We can do something. Thankfully we, as members of this Legislature, can make a contribution to road safety.

I know a lot of people think this bill will be only a part of the solution and won't really do anything. I think it will. I'm a bit more optimistic now. I wasn't optimistic a year ago. I thought that perhaps they were trying to do a lot of window dressing around truck safety. There were a lot of photo ops, there were a lot of press conferences. People said, "A lot of smoke but where's the meat?" I think that now we're getting to the meat, that this is starting to be substantive.

That's why I said from the beginning that I've told the minister that he is now on the right truck, he has turned the corner. I think this bill is a demonstration of his commitment, and we in the opposition are going to make sure that he continues to put this as a priority. Even though sometimes the Premier may have different ideas about the agenda, we are saying we want to push this safety agenda as much as possible, because there are just too many people who -- if you're on the highway, everybody tells me, every time a truck comes beside them they take a very concerned look towards the wheels. It's almost automatic now when you're on the highway. You say, "I hope that truck's okay." I hope that by the time this minister is through, people stop looking towards trucks in fear, that we go back to thinking: "Hey, that truck is inspected. That truck has got a well-trained operator. That company has probably got all its ducks in order. That is not something I'm going to be afraid of any more."

But right now I think the majority of Ontario motorists, when they're on our highways, are very concerned when they see a big truck coming by. This bill is a step towards ensuring that's no longer the case, but the minister must continue with a major initiative in educating drivers, an education that is meaningful. It just can't be your random television ads. It can't be your random radio ad at Christmastime. We need a comprehensive education program in the responsibilities of driving, especially for young people.

There are too many young people who don't look at driving as a serious privilege and responsibility. They look upon it almost as something they do for recreation. I think one of the things this minister might be able to do is to encourage the Minister of Education, whom I see there with his back to me, to work in partnership. I know the Minister of Transportation is interested in safety and I hope he can get the Minister of Education to take that same concern and put some money into educating and into promoting safety in our schools. Start right from grade 1; go from bicycle safety right up to driving education.

That's one of the things I'm saying in closing: Have a heart-to-heart talk with the Minister of Education. Get together and put some money into changing people's attitudes. You're not going to do it perhaps with the older generation, but start with young children. Explain that road safety, driving safety is something that helps and protects everyone. We all have to drive, we all have to make a living, so if we've got an attitude that I think is protective, we're all going to benefit.

We're going to support this bill. As I said, you're going in the right direction. You've turned the corner. I wish you good luck in continuing to do this as you go forward.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? Seeing none, does the minister wish to respond?

Hon Mr Palladini: I want to reiterate my thanks to the opposition for supporting this bill. I have thoroughly enjoyed the comments and input of all the members. I'm a lot more knowledgeable after this particular debate today than I was prior.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Palladini has moved second reading of Bill 138.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Mr Palladini: Madam Speaker, to the standing committee on social development.

The Acting Speaker: The bill will be referred to the standing committee on social development.

It now being almost 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1802.