36th Parliament, 1st Session

L203 - Wed 11 Jun 1997 / Mer 11 Jun 1997


















































The House met at 1332.




James Mr J. Bradley (St Catharines): One of St Catharines's most beloved citizens passed away today after a courageous battle with cancer. Mayor Joe McCaffery, as he is still affectionately known, served the people of St Catharines with dedication, commitment and enthusiasm on city council from 1980 to 1994, when he retired undefeated after three terms as mayor.

No problem was too small, no individual too insignificant to merit the attention of Mayor Joe. If ever the label of "grass-roots politician" suited a person, it fit perfectly for Joe McCaffery. There was nothing phoney about Joe; what you saw was what you got, and it was 100% genuine.

Joe was born in Western Hill and proud of it. He never forgot his friends and supporters when he reached the top of the municipal ladder. He went out of his way to make the humble feel important and had no aspirations to run with the powerful and influential crowd.

No one, but no one, was a bigger booster of St Catharines than Joe McCaffery. His famous references to St Catharines as the capital of everything from rowing to recycling drew roars of approval from any audience, and his friendly, down-to-earth approach melted even the hardest heart and broke the ice in even the most formal setting.

Joe was an Irishman through and through, from his trademark green tie to the green that adorned anything he wore, including the mayor's chain of office.

Joe McCaffery was a great athlete, a fine civic leader, a loyal husband and father, and a remarkable character.

I have lost a good friend. All of St Catharines has lost a good friend. We will miss you, Joe, but we won't forget you.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Last week I rose in this House to honour a citizen in my community who gave of herself in ways that called for recognition in a very special benefit dinner that was held this week, in the person of Doris Silk.

Today I rise to pay homage to another member of our community who has been recognized in his own right, by the organization Community Living Algoma in particular. David Reedy, a member of the board of directors of Community Living Algoma, was honoured with the James Montgomerie Honour Award in recognition of his active work on behalf of those with developmental or intellectual disabilities in my community. It's the first time somebody from Sault Ste Marie has been honoured in this way.

"Reedy," it says here, "a strong voice for the disabled in our community, first joined Community Living Algoma in 1993, and has served on the board of directors since 1994. In addition to his work with Community Living Algoma, David is a member of the Sault Ste Marie chapter of People First, as well as participating in the Rotary Club and Easter Seal Society fund-raisers. Provincially, he is involved with the People First organization."

My personal experience with David is one of a person keenly interested in the public life of Sault Ste Marie and of this province. David is one to phone me at all times of the day and night when something catches his fancy or he sees something on television, to let me know how he feels and to ask my opinion. Today we say thanks to David.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I have the honour today of paying tribute to a man from my riding who made a difference in the lives of others in his community and across the province. Fred Fletcher, who died recently, lived in our area for most of his 84 years. He was very involved in enhancing both the profession in which he worked and the community in which he lived.

Born in Tilbury East township in 1913, Mr Fletcher and his family moved to Chatham in the early 1920s. When the Second World War began, Mr Fletcher enlisted in the navy and served on corvettes. Upon leaving the navy, he joined the Kent and Essex Mutual Fire Insurance Co and eventually became manager of the Chatham branch, retiring in 1978.

Mr Fletcher was very prominent in the insurance industry. He was the founding chairman of the farm mutual reinsurance plan, the first Canadian reinsurance company owned by farm mutuals across Ontario. He was also a founding trustee of the farm mutual guarantee fund, a mechanism through which every farm mutual in Ontario will come to the aid of the policyholders of another company. These two plans are considered the cornerstones of the farm mutual industry. His insight, which led to their establishment, has long been recognized by his peers.

Mr Fletcher was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, serving as treasurer on the board of trustees for years, and he volunteered his time for various church events and faithfully attended services.

I am sure all members join me in offering condolences to his wife, Dora, and his daughter, Joan, his family and his many friends.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): We have a pretty famous corner in my riding. It has been dubbed Killer Corner. The interesting thing about this corner is that we have written and spoken to the minister himself about this intersection for two years now.

Last year we put up flashing lights on one side at Huron Line and Cousineau Road, warning of the impending red light. It's a significant truck route. It leads to the Ambassador Bridge at one end and the 401 at the other. Families have lost people because of this corner. That's why it's called Killer Corner.

We're asking the ministry now to give us a flashing warning light on the other side of the road, given that traffic goes both ways. We don't think it's a huge request. We understand that there are significant, pressing issues facing government today in Ontario. We are looking at a cost of $20,000, including installation, for flashing warning lights of an impending red light at this corner that impacts families.

There are families who have lost loved ones over the years, and there are school buses that cross with young children, because on either side there are residential areas. We don't think it's a huge request, understanding that there are other pressing areas of government, but we do expect to have a good response from the ministry.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I rise today to join with the members for Fort York and Mississauga East who spoke of the importance of recognizing Portugal Day, which is June 10.

Of the 500,000 Portuguese people in Canada, 72% are here in Ontario, and of that, 20,000 are in my community of Hamilton. The Portuguese people have provided incredible input into our community and have been an important part of our culture. In Hamilton we have one of the most diverse communities in all of Canada, and certainly the Portuguese people have played a key leadership role.

The Luso-Canadian Council of Hamilton sponsors Lusofest every year, which is our opportunity to celebrate, through banquets, public displays, dance and song, all of the heritage that the Portuguese people have brought to our community.

In addition, the council sponsors the Lusofest university and college scholarships, where every year they award these scholarships to three of their high school students to promote their education, but also to remind them that it's important to bring their heritage to the fore in our community.

I think the Portuguese people in particular are doing an excellent job in our community of instilling that sense of pride and heritage in the young people so they never forget and always remember: "Be proud to be from Portugal. Be proud to live in Canada." Viva la Portugal.



Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): Tomorrow, June 12, marks the 99th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the Philippines from Spain.

It was General Emilio Aguinaldo who led the uprising against Spanish colonial rule over the Philippines in the late 19th century that resulted in victory and freedom for his people. Aguinaldo declared June 12 as Philippines Independence Day, but later the American date of July 4 was substituted.

On May 12, 1962, then Philippines President Diosdado Macapagal declared June 12 as the official independence day from then on: "A nation is born into freedom on the day when such a people, moulded into a nation by a process of cultural evolution and a sense of oneness born of common struggle and suffering, announces to the world that it asserts its natural right to liberty and is ready to defend it with blood, life and honour."

Over the weekend I attended a celebration held at the Scarborough Civic Centre by the Federation of Filipino Canadians. I met with federation president Monina Lim-Serrano and many other prominent members of Toronto's Filipino community. This well-attended event exhibited a wide array of Filipino song, dance and culture. I look forward to attending their independence day celebration next year and am honoured to have the opportunity to recognize this important event before the Legislature.

On behalf of the government of Ontario, I would like to extend my sincerest best wishes and congratulations to all Ontarians of Filipino ancestry on this important date. Mabuhay ang Filipinas.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I rise today to once again speak about the plight of the flood victims of Essex county. Property damage is now in the millions. Breakwalls are failing and are in a state of disrepair. The situation is critical. We are one major storm away from even more damage.

All of this could be rectified today if the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing would reinstate funding to the Shoreline Property Assistance Act. The minister has told me on several occasions that his officials are meeting and exploring their options. To me this is simply political language for the fact that the minister really doesn't care about the people in Essex and Kent counties. Well, Minister, I do, and I won't stop badgering you about this issue until you do something to provide assistance to the people who have serious breakwall and flood damage.

We're not talking about a handout. It's not a grant, it's a loan, a loan the government will even make some money on. We don't need special legislation. The act is already on the books. With the stroke of a pen, the minister could reinstate funding to the loan program and get the repairs and preventive measures under way.

There is no longer an excuse for inaction by this minister. It's time to clean up the mess on the shorelines of Essex and Kent counties.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The illegal billing of patients for services covered by OHIP seems to have increased across the province, at least by some doctors. Our office has received several reports of doctors charging user fees, block payments, for services which are already being paid for by OHIP.

One example: I refer to a letter that was sent to a patient which says, "If it is decided that surgery is required to address your complaint, you will be required to pay a surgical administrative fee of $50 for the procedure." This is purportedly so that the doctor can be paid in connection with the surgery, like arranging hospital beds, operation room time, arranging surgical assistance, consultations, blood work etc. I tell you, Speaker, and you know, that this is thoroughly illegal. We've reported the cases we've been made aware of to the College of Physicians and Surgeons. However, this phenomenon is so pandemic that placing the onus on patients to make a complaint is simply not enough.

Patients who are sick and elderly are afraid to complain in case their surgery is cancelled. Orthopaedic patients who have been waiting many months for surgery are afraid of further delays. There have to be clear and strict sanctions against such illegal billing of our most vulnerable, and penalties levied against physicians who persist in this heinous practice. I call upon the Ministry of Health to be proactive in this matter, not simply sit idle while patients are being gouged.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): It is my pleasure to rise in the House today to congratulate Loyalist College for continuing to maintain a high level of academic excellence. Not only has Loyalist College been recognized as one of the top facilities in the province, but a recent survey indicated the education received at Loyalist is resulting in meaningful employment opportunities for graduates.

Eighty-nine per cent of the 1996 graduating class recently surveyed found employment within the first six months of graduation. The average annual starting salary for a graduate was close to $23,000. This means that recent graduates are quickly able to become contributing members of society. Not only are Loyalist graduates finding employment, but in a recent survey of those who employ Loyalist graduates, 99% of the respondents indicated they would hire another Loyalist graduate.

These kinds of results speak volumes for the type of education Loyalist is providing for its students. Students are able to find meaningful employment. Graduates are earning excellent reputations for themselves within the community. As college president Doug Auld said, "These results demonstrate a high degree of accountability to both the employers, graduates and taxpayers of Ontario." I would like to congratulate President Doug Auld and the entire college on these impressive achievements.



Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I rise today on behalf of the government to honour the first Annual Day of Commemoration for Victims of Crime.

This government continues to be whole-heartedly committed to correcting an imbalance that was developed in our justice system where the rights of the accused are put in the spotlight and the needs of victims stay in the shadows. We will not tolerate a system that allows victims of crime to suffer twice: first at the hands of the criminal, and second at the hands of a legal system that does not respect, understand or respond to their needs.

In this government's first year we took immediate steps to introduce a Victims' Bill of Rights which was proclaimed into law one year ago. This legislation, among the most comprehensive in Canada, brings about long-overdue changes to the way victims of crime are treated.

Among its various provisions, the bill of rights enshrines the victims' justice fund to ensure that money collected from fines imposed by the courts on offenders will be used strictly for services to victims. The government allocated more than $10.2 million from the fund to strengthen victims' services across Ontario over the first two years, and will continue to invest additional funds for victims' services in the future.

We have dedicated funds to double the number of services available to victims of crime as their cases proceed through the courts, and to enhance the services provided in existing sites. Victims in 26 communities will now have the support of the victim/witness assistance program. These programs help people through the court process so they won't be traumatized again. In 1996-97 more than 11,000 victims of crime received these services.

These programs focus on the most vulnerable. More than 80% of the people receiving this support are victims of wife assault, sexual assault or child abuse, while families of homicide victims and families of people killed by impaired drivers make up the remaining individuals who received these services.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services will also be expanding programs which provide immediate on-site services to victims of crime. The victim crisis assistance and referral service will expand to 20 locations with the addition of eight new sights across the province. This further guarantees that services will be available when needed to victims in their own communities.

The government also introduced an information line that will allow victims to get information on the release dates of an offender as well as general information on the criminal justice process at any time. Our government took the steps of establishing domestic violence court projects at Toronto's old city hall and in North York. Launched in cooperation with judges, police, crown attorneys and the victim/witness assistance program, these court projects are designed to do a better job of supporting victims and holding abusers accountable for their crimes.


We are looking for solutions to the problem of domestic violence by trying different approaches. In North York, the focus is on breaking the cycle of violence. In assault cases that do not involve serious injury or use of a weapon, first-time offenders undergo intensive batterers' counselling. The downtown Toronto court focuses on prosecution, employing improved investigation techniques such as the use of 911 tapes to obtain better evidence and improve the chances of obtaining a conviction. Both projects are supported by increased victims' services and are gaining recognition as creative responses to the crime of domestic assault. We are looking to further expand these innovative projects.

I would like to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of my colleague the minister responsible for women's issues. This minister has shown leadership in coordinating nine ministries in their plans to reduce violence against women. In the last budget, the Ontario women's directorate received an additional $27 million to deal specifically with violence prevention issues. I know she will have a number of announcements to make in this particular area in the next few weeks.

I take great pride in that Ontario's Victims' Bill of Rights is among the most comprehensive in Canada. However, victims' issues are truly national issues that demand national guidelines that would set standards across the country. I call on the federal government to provide leadership and develop a Canadian victims' bill of rights.

To address the concerns of victims, the federal government must also take action in other areas. Section 745 of the Criminal Code should be repealed outright, because families of murder victims should never be forced to endure the pain of going through a parole application by a convicted killer.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Cam Jackson for his direction in the battle to improve the plight of victims. His work while in opposition has been a valuable foundation for our efforts as a government.

This government will not stop here. We will continue to expand victims' services, to seek policy solutions and to make the real changes necessary to ensure the rights of victims are protected in Ontario's justice system.

Today, Ontario's Annual Day of Commemoration for Victims of Crime, I ask all members of the House to join in reaffirming the commitment to rebalance the scales of justice through further action to meet the needs and respect the rights of victims of crime.

Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): It's with a great sense of sobriety that I rise to respond to the Attorney General's statement this morning. It's important for all us to acknowledge the suffering of victims of crime in our community, but more important, I think it's important for all of us to commit even more fully to pledging that they will not suffer further at the hands of a justice system which is often insensitive to their needs.

At the press conference this morning, the government released yet another 1-800 number for victims of crime. Let me tell the Attorney General that victims of crime do not need another 1-800 hotline to nowhere. What they need is for us to stop talking and to start doing.

Despite what the government may have said and what it wants us to believe, there's much to be concerned about. There is, for instance, the very large cut that has been made to the Ministry of the Attorney General, which has made the delivery of the system of justice in this province much more difficult. Nowhere is this truer than in the courts. We have fewer crown attorneys to deal with ever more complex cases. We have persistent case backlogs plaguing our courthouses across the province. The Attorney General pops up now and then to announce a new blitz, and yet they don't seem to have worked. What we need is leadership every day of the year to address the very serious problem of backlogs.

It should not take unprecedented interventions by the chief justices of this province before the Attorney General will notice that court backlogs are a major problem for victims. We've had examples of cases of theft, holdups, sexual assaults, all dismissed because it took too long to get them to prosecution. No assurances have been given by this government of how to solve this problem. Delays threaten more than 50% of criminal trials in Ontario with the same fate. Is it any wonder that Chief Justice McMurtry, himself once an Attorney General and a member of a previous Conservative government, has said, "Lip-service is paid within the ranks of the government to the importance of the justice system"? A very damning comment indeed. I and all Ontarians hope that today is not more lip-service.

I remind the Attorney General that victims have a right to justice and that justice delayed is justice denied. Victims also want information, and information denied is justice denied. My private member's bill dedicated to victims' rights sought to ensure that victims would be kept informed by crown attorneys of every step of the proceedings in criminal cases.

In particular, I have spoken many times in this House about the need for clear guidelines for plea bargains so that prosecutors will not make the kind of deal with the devil that we saw in the Karla Homolka case. Some 300,000 people signed a petition agreeing with me, and yet nothing was done. Over and over again, the Attorney General has promised such guidelines would come. He must surely be embarrassed that despite such statements ever since March 1996, and we're talking now of well over a year, his government has done nothing.

In February of this year I raised another case, that of Karen Vanscoy, whose daughter was shot to death. Again, a plea-bargain deal was entered into without adequate consultation with the family, and an offender who should have been charged with second-degree murder got away with a light sentence of manslaughter. It's a sobering thought that the Attorney General and his ministry have learned nothing.

I say to the minister that his success or failure as Attorney General will depend substantially upon his ability to give victims of crime the humane face of our justice system instead of the bewildering maze and delays they now have to encounter. As we reflect upon victims of crime, let us hope that your efforts in the future will be better than your record in the past.

Let me conclude with the words of the Attorney General himself in this House in November 1995: "This government will not accept a system that allows victims of crime to suffer twice: first at the hands of the criminal and, second, under a justice system that does not respond to and respect victims' needs." I challenge the Attorney General and his government to give meaning to those words.

We respect this day, we respect that it has been set aside for victims, but we urge the government once again to stop talking and start acting.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): First, on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus, let me make it clear that we will continue to support in the future, as we have in the past, any and all efforts to improve justice for victims. However, having said that, I find the words of the Attorney General today particularly disappointing and frustrating, as I'm sure do the Vanscoy family in St Catharines, whose daughter was murdered with a stolen handgun, and where, notwithstanding the interventions of Jim Bradley, MPP for St Catharines, and myself by way of questions to the Attorney General in this House, the charge of murder was plea-bargained away with respect to both a lesser offence and a reduced penalty.

The words are of little comfort to Linda Evans from Welland who narrowly, only by the grace of God, escaped death after being stabbed over 30 times and who was ignored in the process of plea-bargaining away the charge of attempted murder against her attacker with an agreed-upon sentence. It's of little comfort to the Taylor family of St Catharines whose case Jim Bradley has pleaded in this Legislature and who remain frustrated by there being no recognition of their rights, notwithstanding Mr Harnick's Victims' Bill of Rights. It's of little comfort to the thousands of petitioners who, in response to the tragic murder of Theresa Vince in Chatham, have petitioned this government to establish a joint provincial-municipal committee to examine sexual harassment.

This Attorney General is Harnicking us again when he speaks of justice for victims yet advocates increasing numbers and levels of diversion programs for increasingly serious crimes as a response to his underfunding and abandonment of our criminal justice system. Crown attorneys are fewer and fewer in number, increasingly contract crown attorneys, coping with larger and larger caseloads. The pressure on crown attorneys to plea-bargain by this government has increased phenomenally. Crown attorneys face quota systems for guilty pleas, which inevitably leads to the reduction of charges and agreement for sentences well below the appropriate range for offenders.

This Attorney General, speaking of the Victims' Bill of Rights, speaks as he has throughout his career. When you contrast his statement today with the increasing defunding of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, one of the vehicles through which and by which innocent victims can receive compensation for the incredible duress they undergo, I'm afraid this government talks a big game when it comes to justice for victims, will do a great press conference, but simply doesn't deliver. The people out there know it full well and all too painfully.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): As my colleague said, I will be supporting this. I think it's a good step forward. However, in particular in response to the minister's comments about the minister responsible for women's issues -- he says she's shown leadership -- I want to remind people that the minister responsible for women's issues has done just the opposite.

I'd like to take this opportunity to ask the minister responsible for women's issues to today announce that second-stage housing will be put back in place and second-stage housing opened. When we talk about women who are victims of violence and their children, when they escape from those abusive situations we all know and studies show that one of the key, most important aspects for their recovery and their ability to get back into the flow of life is that they often need proper counselling for themselves and their kids, and they need a safe place. I'm not talking about first-stage emergency housing but transition housing. That is gone, and that is a crime.

I also want to remind the minister today that we still have not had a response from her, which I believe she promised to have given by now, on the infamous McGuire report, which suggested, we will all remember, that women only be allowed to stay in emergency shelters for 24 to 48 hours and then have neighbours call if they see any problems after they go back home. We have still not heard from this minister or from this government their response to that report. I ask the minister to take a good close look at all the cuts they've already made and the pittance --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): There are a couple of groups in our gallery today. I would like to introduce Colonel Robert Hardie, the former chief aide-de-camp to a number of Lieutenant Governors. Welcome.

I would also like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today members of the parliamentary delegation from the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, comprising Mr Roger Fitzgerald, Mr Anthony Sparrow and Mr Rick Woodford. Please join me in welcoming our guests as well.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a question for the Premier. Over the last couple of months I have raised some issues with your Minister of Health and with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario with respect to the question of doctors billing for services that are covered under the OHIP fee schedule, such as a case involving a senior citizen who was forced to pay a $50 fee to book an operating room. The College of Physicians and Surgeons has acknowledged that they are aware that a number of physicians, particularly specialists and surgical subspecialists, have been charging separately for various components of the insured service they're providing to patients as though these components were uninsured services.

Premier, these extra costs affect the poor, the elderly and those who are least able to cope with them. What does your government intend to do about this situation?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): To immediately ask the Minister of Health to respond.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): As the honourable member is aware, both the Ontario Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons are doing their utmost right now to make sure that doctors know where the line is and that they understand what is included in the payments they receive from OHIP; and that if they're already paid for a service and it's a medically insured service, the Canada Health Act does not allow extra-billing, nor do the laws of this province.

I would say to the honourable member that we have a very good system in place. Every complaint is followed up by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is the quasi-judicial board, and its Medical Review Committee. I encourage all members, as the honourable member has done the right thing, to bring those cases directly to the attention of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, who will investigate the cases and provide appropriate remedies.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): That's the kind of answer we're getting used to hearing from the virtual Minister of Health. He keeps bobbing off in every which direction. We have people like Mr Judd, who now has to pay $10 every time he gets a prescription renewed over the phone. He's disabled. Every time his child, who is disabled, has to not go to school, he has to pay another $10 for a school note. Those are fees which have been entrenched. Now we have seniors who can't go to surgeons, who are getting charged $50 and $75 block fees for services that are supposed to be covered by OHIP even though they say right on the paper that these are services not covered.

You need to take responsibility because the physicians are telling us this is coming from your climate that you've created for doctors, that you've created the need, the necessity for them to go and hive off different types of services and then charge the public for them. You're bringing us down the road to two-tier health. Tell us now that you're prepared to act to make sure this practice doesn't become more widespread and that the college has everything it needs to deal with this.

Hon Mr Wilson: The college does have everything it needs to deal with it. I don't think the honourable member is suggesting we should in any way interfere with the regulation model that's been set up, which is being studied around the world and adopted by governments of all stripes -- and kudos to the NDP government for bringing in the self-governing model which works very effectively.

Each and every one of these cases is taken very seriously by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which is made up of laypeople and physicians.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You take them seriously --

Hon Mr Wilson: I take the cases extremely seriously, and it is the appropriate course of action, as under the law, to refer those cases out of the hands of the politicians and into the hands of the investigators. That's what's done, and I encourage members to continue to be diligent and to act on behalf of their constituents, as the honourable member from Windsor has done.

Mr Duncan: It's very interesting, because obviously you and the college are not communicating. I'd like to read you a letter I received from the college which says, "The college is currently referring any such matters that come to its attention to the provider services branch of the Ministry of Health." So we have the Minister of Health on the one hand who is saying that the college is doing it; we have the college on the other hand that's saying the minister should be doing it. The problem is that we've got people like Mr Carter, my constituent, who had to pay $50 and, irony of ironies, ultimately it was the Workers' Compensation Board that picked up the cost.

When will you take responsibility to ensure that we continue to have free, accessible public health in this province? Quit passing it off to the college and start dealing with it, and at least get your story straight so that the people of the province, the poor, the elderly, those who can least afford to pay it, have access to a full range of services right across Ontario.

Hon Mr Wilson: The letter the honourable member is referring to is contained in the recent edition of Dialogue magazine, which goes out to all physicians in the province. It is a letter of the former registrar of the college, Dr Dickson. If he would read the whole letter in, he would give the whole picture to the province.

The college deals the disciplinary matters and quasi-judicial processes involved. The reason they refer back to us is that we reimburse patients once the college has made a determination, so we send a cheque to the patients. If they've been ripped off by $50 or something, then they're reimbursed. Then, if that doesn't alleviate the situation, the college also institutes disciplinary action if they deem it appropriate once due process has been followed through the Medical Review Committee and other procedures that the college follows. I think it's a very good system. The college acts like a court of law and also acts as the disciplinary body. I don't think he's suggesting that politicians should become the court of law and the disciplinary body.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Environment. Yesterday, when discussing the issue of the massive dumping into Lake Ontario by Ontario Hydro of 1.8 million pounds of copper and 800,000 pounds of zinc, you went on to dismiss this, basically trivializing it. Afterwards you compared, in media reports, the amount that is found in water to taking a vitamin pill. You have said it takes 150 litres of water with zinc and copper in it to make up what is really one vitamin pill. You have dismissed the concern. You said the water is safe, that this has absolutely no impact on water and no impact on our environment.

Minister, I hope you stand by your word. I would ask you and challenge you to stand by what you said. This is a container of water from Lake Ontario. I dare you: Will you drink from this water today to prove that what you have said is correct?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I indicated yesterday that this is a very serious matter, that we are looking into it in accordance with the law and the processes that are put forward with regard to the Environmental Bill of Rights and that we will get to the bottom of it. But that will take some time as it's a very complex and complicated matter, and we intend to do it in the proper fashion, in a fashion that is consistent.

With regard to the trivialization of this, I responded to a question by a reporter who wanted to compare the effluent with what might be contained in a vitamin tablet which can be purchased at any pharmacy, so I responded --

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): You fell for it.

Hon Mr Sterling: No, I responded to the question. It was not raised by me; it was raised by a reporter and I responded to it. It had nothing to do with trivializing the issue.

Mr Agostino: From your answer in the House yesterday, where you compared this massive dumping into Lake Ontario to copper pipes in a home, when you said first 150 and then your spokesperson said, "Oh, it's only 120 litres of water that will equal one multivitamin pill," it's very clear that you do not believe it has detrimental health effects.

We received information this morning from Cornell University, Michigan State University, University of Oregon and the University of California at Davis. In all these cases the information received is that copper, similar to mercury and lead, is bioaccumulative. It means that over a period of time the human body will suffer. It means scientists we spoke to at these universities clearly agree that a long-term impact of these chemicals in the human body causes health effects such as nausea, shock, weak heart rates, brain damage and in some cases death. It's very clear there's a danger here.

Minister, will you today do the right and honourable thing and authorize a third-party independent review of the coverup that has gone on at Ontario Hydro in the dumping of this into Lake Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: I want to make it absolutely clear that copper in the concentrations we are talking about here are not bioaccumulative. That has been confirmed by scientists at the Ministry of Environment, and to say anything other than that is really just misrepresenting the true facts of the situation. We are not talking about mercury here, we are not talking about lead here; I understand, from the questions and the thrust of the questions here, we've been talking about copper and zinc.

We are going through the proper processes to determine whether or not there are grounds for an investigation as per the Environmental Bill of Rights. We intend to follow the process. We are concerned about the dumping of these particular minerals in Lake Ontario and intend to get to the bottom of it.

Mr Agostino: It's very clear that this minister has no plans whatsoever to launch an independent third-party investigation into the coverup that has occurred at Ontario Hydro. That is wrong. That is unacceptable to the people of Ontario. Minister, you don't seem to understand there's a problem here. There's a problem with a corporation that reports to you as minister. You are responsible for Ontario Hydro. This corporation over the years has been involved in a massive coverup, in illegal dumping into our lakes in this province.

It's unacceptable for them to investigate themselves. Would you allow a private company that has spilled tonnes of chemicals into Lake Ontario to go ahead and investigate themselves and report to you at a later date? Absolutely not. It is unacceptable, Minister. You have a responsibility here and you simply have a conflict. You have to ensure that there's an arm's-length mechanism here to review what has happened. Otherwise, the message to corporations in Ontario is that it's okay, Ontario Hydro can do it. The minister will just nod and wink and turn a blind eye to it.

Minister, if you don't agree to an independent third-party review, then you are part of this coverup that has occurred at Ontario Hydro. I ask you again, restore the confidence in your ministry, do the honourable thing and please today launch an independent third-party review.

Hon Mr Sterling: The process that is outlined under the Environmental Bill of Rights requires that the Ministry of Environment act on its own through my officials, through some of the directors and the assistant directors who are responsible for these matters. They make the decision on the basis of the information they have before them as to whether an investigation should go forward.

It is clearly outlined in the Environmental Bill of Rights that when this is brought to the attention of the Environmental Commissioner and then to the ministry there is a time frame for that to happen. We will fully comply with those provisions, go through the process, make those decisions in accordance with the facts presented to us and launch an investigation if the facts prove that to be that case and the directors make that decision.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Premier. Last August your government closed eight offices of the family support plan and laid off 290 experienced staff. As a result, thousands and thousands of women and children who used to receive regular support payments did not receive these and suffered serious financial loss as a consequence.

Day after day last fall in this House we raised case after case of women and children who were suffering and we told this government that this situation was a crisis. Every time we raised a question and a case, your Attorney General said there wasn't a problem, told us things were getting better, tried to blame other governments, employers, payors and everyone else he could find with respect to the matter.

But yesterday the Ombudsman said in her report the following, and I quote, "The manner in which the transition was carried out by the family support plan caused hardship for individuals whom the plan was designed to benefit." Premier, are you finally prepared to admit that your government was wrong when you decided to finance your phoney tax cut off the backs of these women and children?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Of course the tax cut has given us more jobs and revenue, so we would have more dollars to provide services to the people of Ontario. This is now being widely acknowledged throughout the province. So the premise, I guess, of the motive of the question is absolutely ludicrous.

Second, I think we have indicated all along that while the plan was an absolute unmitigated disaster that we inherited and the plan we are putting in place is in fact already better but still not perfect and will be even better in the future, we wished that the transition from disaster that we inherited from you to a better plan could have been done more smoothly. I think so does the Ombudsman and so do we.


Ms Martel: Premier, I know where the Attorney General gets his lesson from. You are just as bad as he is in trying to blame everyone else for what happened at the family support plan. The fact of the matter is, Mr Premier, your Attorney General decided to cut the budget of the family support plan by 35% over two years as part of the savings he was trying to find for your tax cut. That's the reality. You can't blame that on anyone else.

The report that was put forward by the Ombudsman yesterday was damning in its indictment of your government and how this transition was handled. She made it perfectly clear that thousands and thousands of women and children and families were victimized by your government because of the bungling of the transition on the part of your Attorney General. There was no excuse for what happened. He knew this would be the consequence and the result for thousands and thousands of families, yet your Attorney General proceeded anyway to victimize these people further.

When, Premier, are you going to accept some responsibility for the victimization of women and children who depend on support payments --

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

Hon Mr Harris: As soon as we took office we accepted responsibility for fixing one of the worst-run programs in the history of this government. We brought in legislative changes; we brought in a number of amendments; we brought in probably the toughest policy that exists in Canada to try and provide support for those who are owed funds as a result of what is regrettably lack of support from one spouse or the other to children.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Harris: We have indicated that the transition to the centralized, far more efficient and what will be a far more effective program took longer and didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked. But the fundamental principle that the program was a disgrace --

The Speaker: Thank you, Premier. Final supplementary.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Premier, I don't think you understand what your government's attack on the family support plan did to women and their kids. Eviction notices were served; mortgages were foreclosed on; utility bills went unpaid and water and gas and electricity were turned off; phone bills went unpaid; and people had to line up at barren food banks for food because the moneys that were being paid by their supporting spouses weren't being delivered to them.

You hurt women and kids, and the Ombudsman's report is very clear that it was your dismantling of eight regional offices, your termination of almost 300 staff, your defunding of the family support plan by 35% that caused that victimization and hardship. When will somebody in your government finally accept their ministerial responsibility and go beyond merely saying, "I'm sorry," to accept responsibility for the victimization of these women and kids and resign?

Hon Mr Harris: I suppose when we took office we could have left the failed program in place and pointed the finger at you for the term of our mandate, but we opted instead to take a disgraceful disaster of a program -- well-intentioned, we acknowledge -- and try and correct it.

We brought in opting out for those who agree, something that both sides had lobbied for. We brought in driver's licence suspension, we brought in credit bureau reporting and we undertook to take a program and had the courage to go in and say: "This has failed. It's not working. Everybody knows it's not working. It will be difficult, but it is something we must tackle and try and make better in the long term."

Let me agree with those in the program, with those in opposition and with the Ombudsman that we all wished we could have fixed the disgrace more quickly, but we are determined to have a better program in the end.


The Speaker: I want to warn the members for Riverdale, London Centre, Sudbury East and Welland-Thorold to come to order, please. It's a warning. I'm not going to warn you again.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday the report of the Ombudsman contained within it scathing evidence regarding your government's incompetence in implementing your own agenda. In reporting on the problems which your Attorney General caused in the family support plan, the Ombudsman confirms our concern that real people are being badly hurt by incompetent implementation of massive change, and she warned that similar chaos could result in other areas of radical change, in hospital restructuring, for example.

The Attorney General said yesterday, "One of those significant recommendations for me was to convey to my colleagues some of the problems we had." Minister, can you tell us today what advice the Attorney General has given you that you can apply to hospital restructuring?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The Attorney General and I chat regularly. I read the Ombudsman's report, and I didn't see anything wrong with the Ministry of Health in it, so I don't understand your question.

Mrs Boyd: It's quite clear you don't understand the concern people all over this province have about the incompetence of your government in managing massive change. That's the issue.

In Thunder Bay, for example, your restructuring commission has already delivered its decisions. The Thunder Bay Regional Hospital has bed targets it must meet. In Thunder Bay you've reduced the transfer to the hospitals, and in Thunder Bay you announced restructuring money and home care money. Why, then, is there a critical bed shortage?

As reported in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on Saturday, there are people waiting in emergency rooms for as long as two days because all the acute care beds are full. As a result, waiting lists for surgery are growing and the hospital cannot open any more beds because they're bound by the restructuring commission orders. This is the same kind of problem that the Ombudsman warned would happen in areas like hospital restructuring.

Minister, can you explain to us why the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital has been forced to close beds, putting patients in danger, when the alternatives are not yet in place?

Hon Mr Wilson: In the same article, the administrator points out that patient care has not been adversely affected. They're going through transition there. The government has put forward $59 million, unprecedented amounts, to go through that restructuring. The fact is that the article points out that when the 54 transitional beds are put in place at St Joe's, the problem will be relieved. Right now the hospital corporation is exercising flexibility to make sure people have beds. That is to be, quite fairly, expected in any transitional period.

A plan is in place, and the experts are just defining the final definition of what "transitional beds" are. That's an exciting thing for northern Ontario, to have transitional beds, which means that rather than sending people home early, as under your two governments, people will now be able to stay in a lower-cost bed --

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

Hon Mr Wilson: -- not as expensive as an acute care hospital bed but a higher-cost bed than a nursing home bed. That's a new area of health care in Ontario's --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

Mrs Boyd: That may excite you and it may excite the administrators at the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, but I can tell you that the feelings of the patients lying in those emergency rooms and their families are quite different. They're not excited; they're fearful. Yes, all of us can see that this vision may eventually give better care. What about the people who are suffering in the meantime?

You are standing in your place and making the same kinds of excuses the Attorney General made about women and kids who are going hungry because of his incompetence. Don't fall into the same trap. You know very well that the CAC is not yet operational. You know very well that the $2.4 million you've announced for home care hasn't materialized. You know that the transitional beds aren't ready because the capital plan has lagged way behind. Those people who are occupying those beds have nowhere to go because those transitional beds aren't in place. When are you going to accept your responsibility to be out making sure that people are not suffering now because of your vision of a distant future?

Hon Mr Wilson: The government's responsibility was to provide the dollars and the leadership. Back in March, on March 3 to be exact, I announced $7.67 million of new money for health care in Thunder Bay to increase community services. There is not one reason today, except for a shortage of professionals, that community services there haven't increased dramatically. The money is there. We pay those invoices every 30 days, depending on the service they provide, and they have a licence now to provide hundreds more hours of nursing in the community than they had when you were in office or when the Liberals were in office.

Also I would point to the fact that there is a plan in place, transitional beds will come on line, and the hospitals should be commended for doing --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): When?

Hon Mr Wilson: Well, by December 2 they expect to have the beds in place. The beds have to be built. St. Joe's, which hasn't undergone renovations in years, is going to undergo renovations and is going to be an absolutely world-class health care system in Thunder Bay. The local community should be congratulated for making the transition --

The Speaker: Thank you Minister. New question.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): My question is to the Minister of Education. Over 1,000 adult education students are circling the Legislature right now. They're joining hands as a link for their continued education, which is being threatened by your education policy that discriminates against students over 21 years of age. Their circle symbolizes the unity of adult education students as they fight to maintain current funding levels for all high school students regardless of age.

One of the students who came out today and spoke outside is Elaine Lloyd-Robinson. She spoke for all the students when she said how much completing her secondary education meant to her, how it will open doors for her and how it will help her break into the job market with skills she learned at the Scarborough Centre for Alternative Studies. Elaine spoke on behalf of all the adult students, including Kim Briggs-Hartneal and Emma Gordon-Reynolds from Scarborough and Terrie Leah-Toner from East York, who attended today.

Elaine and over 1,000 students are here today, Minister, trying again to get your attention, and they're saying, don't cut their day school education. Will you listen to them?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Scarborough North for the question. It's an opportunity to make sure people understand that the province continues to provide funding for adult education right across the province and that adult education programs continue to be offered by schools right across the province and we have no intention of changing that.

In fact we proposed a special section for funding for adult education in our new allocation model particularly to meet the needs of adult students. We understand that training and education programs for adults are important, not just for the individuals, but for the future of this province. We believe there is no one system of providing that training and that education for adults that will perfectly meet the individual circumstances of all those different people.

That's why we have continued to support a variety of programs, including those in school, but also the Independent Learning Centre, which allows adult students to learn on their own course, the college upgrading courses provided across the province, a whole variety of training programs, and why I and my colleagues are proud of --

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

Mr Curling: If you take your head out of the book, you will realize you've cut the funding for them, Minister. Once again, you're taking money out of the classroom to fund your tax cut, and you know it, at the cost of adult students who will not have the essential training they need to find jobs.

These programs are jeopardizing their opportunity to do something about what they want to do. You committed in your pre-election platform, if you recall, and I quote: "Not enough is being invested in students directly. Classroom-based budgeting will help ensure that this essential service is protected and indeed that excellence in education and training is enhanced."

You have cut that, and they have told you over and over. You've shifted around and danced around, and the bottom line is that you have cut funding from adult education and are treating these people as second-class citizens. Take your head out of the book and deal with the issue at hand. Will you listen to that, Minister, and do something about it?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member for Scarborough North can try to paint this any way he wants, but the truth and the fact remain that this province is committed to adult education and training programs and we continue to fund those programs across the province. As a matter of fact, this government, my colleagues and I, do not believe that those education and training programs should be supplied through any one delivery system. Adults should have a variety of options that meet their circumstances.

We particularly believe that adults should not have to conform to programs that were designed for adolescents. We believe that the needs of adults are individual, that they're unique and that we must continue to improve our training and education system to meet those individual needs.

I remind the member for Scarborough North that in my own family, my father participated in those programs for adult education. My father was called to the bar late in life and I at least among my colleagues understand the need for adult education and have some compassion for the people who are in that system.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): My question is for the Chair of Management Board, who is the minister responsible for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Your government has already been publicly chastised for its incompetence in managing and protecting confidential government files. After all this, can you explain to us why confidential government records continue to be left to languish in the hallways of office towers, left there unattended, unsealed, unsecured and accessible to any passerby?

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): If the member opposite has any particular information, any particular location of any particular confidential information, I would be pleased to receive that information and to look into it and to get him an answer.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): After receiving a call from a concerned citizen of the public, my colleague from Welland-Thorold and I visited a downtown Toronto office tower this morning where we found stacks of boxes lining the hallways which contained confidential government and personnel documents with SIN numbers. We understand that the boxes have been left there unattended, unsecured, unsealed, for over two months now. If you want to get a full briefing, you can come to our press conference at 3:30 and see a copy of the video.

I say to the minister that it is clear from the second incident that the government has failed to learn any lesson as a consequence of the bungling of the family support plan transition. In fact, the government continues to slash and burn government services, forgetting that government itself has some responsibilities; in this case, the responsibility to protect personnel and government records and files. Your cuts are having a serious impact on how government operates.

The Speaker: Question please.

Ms Martel: Are you prepared to admit today that your cuts have been so deep that your government is incapable now of carrying out its responsibilities, like protecting --

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Sudbury East.

Hon David Johnson: Far from the truth. This government, in a systematic, businesslike way, through business plans -- for the first time ever in the history of the province we have introduced business plans to restructure the government in a systematic way, to tackle the expenditures that have been rung up by the previous two governments. As a result, we now have reduced the deficit considerably. We are on track to eliminating the deficit. We are on track to start paying down that debt by the end of this term of government. This is what the people of Ontario have been asking for for years and years.

I am unaware of any particular confidential information that is getting out into hands, that is being misused. If the members opposite have a specific address, specific information, again, let me know about it and I'll be delighted to look into it.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My question is for the minister responsible for seniors. As you know, this spring seniors in my riding of Simcoe East expressed to me their concern about the annual deductible for the Ontario drug benefit plan. Despite a sincere effort at communicating the dates of the annual benefit coverage, the information remained unclear and confusing to many seniors. I know they were pleased to hear yesterday of the government's decision to extend the benefit year for coverage under the plan. Could the minister inform the House how our seniors' input affected this decision and explain why the new date of August 1, 1999, was chosen?

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I want to thank my colleague from Simcoe East for raising the concerns, as he does frequently, on behalf of the seniors in his riding.

Over the course of the last eight months, our government has undertaken a round table of discussions with seniors' organizations all across the province. In fact, on April 8 six organizations met directly with the Treasurer to discuss issues in preparation for our budget, of which the drug plan was one.

Seniors' groups clearly indicated their two primary concerns: First, knowing we had the lowest copayments in Canada, they didn't want them increased; and second, after years of having drugs held off the market in this province, they wanted to thank the government for increasing the number of drugs to 465 new drugs in the last two years, making Ontario the most comprehensive drug benefit plan in North America at the lowest cost.

I remind members that 1.5 million Ontario residents pay $2 for their drugs in this province, the lowest anywhere in North America.


Mr McLean: Since there has been so much confusion regarding the original benefit year, I'm wondering if the minister could take the opportunity to clarify for the House the implications for constituents who may be celebrating their 65th birthday soon and will be entering the insurance plan for the first time. Explain to me how they will do that.

Hon Mr Jackson: I want to make it clear that the government communicated a year and a half ago that the anniversary date was April 1. We can clearly demonstrate that we told the media, we talked to every member of this House in communications, we talked to every pharmacist in this province. But we're the first to admit that we could have done a better job communicating that to seniors and we appreciate that seniors have provided us with that input.

The date of August 1, 1998, has been chosen because it will give full coverage for seniors in this province for 16 full months. We believe that is fair and reasonable with respect to the support for this program.

As it relates to seniors who are turning 65, we have offered this additional benefit to seniors. If a senior turns 65 in February, for example, they will be prorated and therefore they would only pay $50 for their insurance deductible and not the full $100.

I remind members opposite that these --

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

Hon Mr Jackson: I'm working on that, Mr Speaker.

With the lowest-cost drug plan in Canada, we're very pleased that we have been able to respond to the seniors of Ontario, but be mindful that August 1, 1998, is the next anniversary.

The Speaker: Minister, I know you've been working on it, but you get a minute and 10. You've been working on that answer for a couple of days, actually.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the minister responsible for women's issues. Minister, you've had a controversial and disturbing report sitting on your desk now since December 17. The report has become known as the McGuire report. It's the one that recommends, among many other things, that women be forced to leave emergency shelters within 48 hours.

The recommendations in this report have caused a great deal of anxiety, and that anxiety has been heightened by the fact that you have so far refused to distance yourself from the report and because you have delayed so long in responding to it. You promised a response fully two months ago.

Minister, will you tell women today that you have indeed torn up the McGuire report and will you assure them that any changes in programs and funding that you are making are not in the direction of the proposals of that report?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I would like to advise my colleague and critic that we have been working very hard on the responses to the McGuire report, to come to better solutions in responding to the needs of families across this province.

We are extremely excited about making a major response, including some 27 million new dollars to be spent over four years to deal with issues that affect the quality of women's lives around violence. We are absolutely committed to ending violence in Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: Minister, you're the one who commissioned the report. It is an alarming report. It needs to be torn up. I guess the fact that you have not distanced yourself from it yet again today makes us very concerned that the real goal of the McGuire report and your real goal, the goal of your government in commissioning it, was to find efficiencies in the programs that deal with violence against women; that the real goal is to find ways of cutting dollars. That's why that report recommends that you shift dollars away from programs that provide protection for women to what you call prevention and it is why you yourself have misrepresented the importance of shelters in providing protection.

You said recently that you've eliminated administrative waste that drains our resources. You've cut funding for shelters, you've cut funding for counselling and second-stage housing, you've proposed shifting resources away from more places that offer protection to women who need support and protection. I ask you whether or not that is your idea of administrative waste and if that's where we're going to see more cuts in the future.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Before she answers the question, I want to say that you must withdraw the fact that you charge the minister with misrepresenting. That's not parliamentary.

Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, I will certainly indicate that the minister has made it clear that she sees a different role for shelters than those that shelters --

The Speaker: You don't have to clarify; you just have to withdraw.

Mrs McLeod: I'll withdraw the word "misrepresent."

Hon Mrs Cunningham: On the last note with regard to shelters, shelters have been the foundation and the core and the very beginning of extremely important services to protect women who have been the victims of violence, and they will remain so. They actually have been working with us to enhance the role of all agencies across Ontario.

It really is very tiresome to get this kind of information from two governments that did nothing to make sure that programs worked, did nothing to know whether there was waste and duplication, did not focus on the wide range of services across nine ministries and 30 programs that we are doing. We continue to get good advice and good information.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): You shouldn't make things up to get off the hook.

The Speaker: That's unparliamentary. You can't charge a minister with making things up.

Ms Churley: I withdraw that I charged the minister with making things up. I withdraw it.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: People who are tremendously involved in finding solutions and helping us come back with a major response for programs and prevention of violence against women --

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: -- would not make those kind of accusations. We do not have that kind of commitment from that member.

I will go on to say that just in today's --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. The minister talks a lot about equity in funding in the education system, but he will know that he has left out of that a large number of students, thousands of students in this province, about a thousand of whom have circled the building here today.

The cutbacks the minister has made in transfer payments to boards and in adult education have led to the decimation of adult education programs in the province. Now that the province is taking over control of education funding, 12,000 students attending adult education day schools risk the loss of their schools and their courses, their education. Will the minister reconsider his position and extend equitable funding to adult day school programs in this province?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): To the member for Algoma, I believe that if you look at what's going on in Ontario now, if you have a look at what's happening in terms of training for adults, of education for adults, you'll see a dramatic improvement in the services available for adults now versus two years ago. Included in that is that for the first time Ontario has a full GED program available for adult learners. It recognizes the fact that people learn in classrooms but they also learn in life. This is a program that recognizes the learning that adults may have had in their business or other circumstances and allows them to get a high school equivalency. This GED program is available in nine other provinces and 50 states but was not available in Ontario until we took office. It now is available to adult learners right across the province. I and my colleagues are proud of that.

Mr Wildman: The minister's response doesn't take into account the dramatic drop in the registration of adults in adult education programs in the province. The fact is that this government says it wants people who are not now able to be productive and contribute to society, to provide for themselves and their families, to get the skills they require. Many of those students don't just require a course; they require supports that are only available in a day school program, that are not available in the continuing education program. How does the minister expect these students to get the kinds of supports they require in a continuing education program, and if he does think they can do that, can he explain to us now how it's going to be provided?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I find it hard to imagine that the member for Algoma doesn't understand that there's a difference between the services and supports and programs that are appropriate for adolescents, and the programs and supports that are necessary for adults who would like to get the accreditation. It's a very different set of circumstances.

Just to point out to the member opposite, not only are the continuing education programs available for adults through our school system, and they continue to be available for adults through our school system, we also have the Independent Learning Centre, which provides individually tailored, learn-at-home programs for adults right across the province. We have college upgrading courses available in our community colleges across the province. We have a whole host and variety of training programs and we are now looking at making improvements to those training programs and the GED program, the high school equivalency program I just mentioned. There is a vast array of programs available for adults so they can become more productive members of our society and can get that individual satisfaction from completing their education.



Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It concerns the number of people both from inside the riding of Etobicoke-Rexdale and from without who are thinking of running in the upcoming elections in the new unified city of Toronto.

What they would like to know is how the municipal affairs ministry will deal with the question of political contributions or tax credits, because Metropolitan Toronto in the past, for candidates for those positions, has offered tax credits to donors, and I believe the same for the city of Toronto, yet other parts of Metropolitan Toronto such as Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough have not. The same with the Hydro commissions.

What these folks would like to know is, how will the ministry handle this situation so we'll have a balanced and even playing field for all potential and registered candidates in the upcoming election.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I would like to thank the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for the question. This is an issue that is of interest to his constituents and, as a matter of fact, of interest to people right across Ontario.

We have been asked by numerous people from around the province to establish a rebate system for citizens contributing to municipal election campaigns very similar to what we have for provincial and federal campaigns. As a result, on May 12 of this year we filed a regulation which will allow a rebating system for municipal candidates as long as all the proper procedures are followed. We know this process will assist and benefit citizens from across Ontario who want to contribute to municipal campaigns.

Mr Hastings: In other words, then, the application of the new arrangement will affect all candidates who are registered in the upcoming election, not only for the new unified city of Toronto but right across the province, and they will not have to create their own separate individual bylaw respective of each municipality.

Hon Mr Leach: The rebate system we propose is very similar to what now exists in the province and with the federal government. If a contribution is $100 or less, the rebate is 75% of the contribution, and if a contribution is more than $100 but not more than $400, the rebate is 75% plus 50% of the difference between the contribution and $100. To provide a practical example, if an individual contributes $300 to a campaign, their rebate would be $175. However, it is very important to remind the House that there are financial forms and receipts that all campaigns will have to fill out to make sure the rebates can be given back to the parties.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the Minister of Labour. Construction workers and contractors in Hawkesbury, Cornwall, Maxville, Ottawa, Pembroke, Windsor and all across Ontario are still losing their jobs because of your government's inability to resolve the labour mobility issue with Quebec.

It is obvious that we have many cases to prove it. The new agreement with Quebec does nothing for our construction workers. Last week a construction site in Montreal was completely shut down because, of the 50 workers, four were from Ontario. On the Perley Bridge in Hawkesbury, only 5% of the workforce on the site are from Ontario and the rest are from Quebec. My question is, do Ontario workers have to do like Quebeckers and shut down the Perley Bridge site, or will your government take action to secure jobs for Ontarians?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Contrary to the information you are presenting, there is certainly some gain taking place and our people are having access to Quebec, which they have never, ever had before. Obviously, there are people on both sides of the border who still continue to become upset and there will continue to be some disputes, but I would indicate to you that we have made progress beyond what has happened anywhere else in Canada. We negotiated an agreement and obviously it's going to take some time before we have complete free and equal access to both sides.

Mr Lalonde: On May 7 in this House the member for Nepean said that constituents in his riding were concerned about the monitoring of this agreement. Your answer to the member was, "The agreement is there and is working." Last Thursday my office received a phone call from Alexanian Carpet in the riding of Nepean that vans are being stopped and that unless the workers hold a Quebec permit, the van and the contents are being confiscated.

Ontario workers and contractors are reluctant to go to Quebec because they are victims of harassment. Their cars and trucks are being vandalized and their tires are being slashed. Are you prepared to take necessary procedures to ensure that Ontario workers are treated fairly, that there will be no more harassment and vandalism. After all, are we not all Canadians?

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's extremely important that we distinguish the situations you're presenting to us as being distinct from the negotiation of the agreement. For example, the incidents of vandalism that you refer to are obviously issues that need to be dealt with by the law authorities. It's not something we can do anything about within the agreement. I would hope that when these incidents do occur, those individuals who are responsible for law and order would take the appropriate means and deal with those issues appropriately. They are beyond what we are capable of doing in the agreement.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. A vital health care project is in danger of being lost. Savard's (Women's Street Survivor Project) is a shelter for homeless women with chronic and severe mental illness. It provides not just shelter, but medical attention and supervision for these women.

In spite of your announcements of money for community-based services, your ministry will not support this shelter and it is in danger of closing. Apparently, your ministry can't figure out whether this project belongs in the long-term-care system or the mental health system. The situation is inexcusable because this is exactly the kind of project we need to cope with both the closure of mental health beds and the reduction in emergency wards and acute-care beds in this province.

Minister, are you going to get your act together and ensure that services like this one are available when you bounce hundreds of patients out of your psychiatric hospitals?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The question, at the very least, is cruel and unwarranted. You closed psychiatric beds without putting the community services in place. That trend continued up until we came to office two years ago. We've put a moratorium on the closure of psychiatric beds until those community services are in place. No other government had the courage to do that. Secondly, we have put millions of dollars into exactly these types of community-based services, including crisis response and a whole range of services.

I will take from the honourable member the specific case and I will endeavour to get back to her, but to say that people are being put out in the street because of anything this government did is to not give credit where credit is due, and that is that we have been increasing community services and not allowing for the closure of mental health beds.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary, the member for Fort York.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): The number of women using the shelter system has increased dramatically. It's getting worse, partly because there is a lack of affordable land or appropriate housing. Everyone knows that. My colleague said Savard's is a unique environment, providing a safe haven for women who have long histories of homelessness combined with serious medical problems, and mental health problems to boot.

This is an innovative project and it's in jeopardy of closing. Are you, along with the minister of the women's directorate and the Minister of Housing, going to let Savard's down, or are the three of you going to show leadership and find a way to make sure that Savard's is there to provide housing for those who are suffering a great deal?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're currently reviewing the situation that the honourable member describes. We're working with other ministries and Metro social services to determine whether this particular facility is one that should survive and continue to provide services or whether another plan is needed. Clearly we have increasingly more and more homeless people, clearly many of those people suffer mental illness and clearly we have to do more.

I will take the honourable member's submission into account when we make this decision, but I do sincerely want him to know that we're working very hard with a number of agencies to ensure that those community services, particularly services to homeless women, are increased in this province.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): My question is for the Minister of Labour. Minister, as you know, I represent a riding high atop Hamilton Mountain that is made up of a significant percentage of blue-collar workers, all of whom have a vested interest in occupational health and safety, as do their white-collar colleagues and neighbours. They are, as I am, well aware of your ongoing review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It's my understanding that the regional consultations have been completed. That being the case, could you please update us on the status of this review?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): I'm pleased to report that yes, the regional consultations have finished. We did go to Hamilton, we went to Niagara Falls, Windsor, Barrie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Ottawa, and we met with unions, employees, employers and health and safety professionals. We are this week completing our consultations with some of our key stakeholders in Toronto, and this summer it is our hope that we can review the information that has been presented to us and collect all the feedback.

Mr Pettit: That's very encouraging news, but could you outline for the members of the House and also my constituents on Hamilton Mountain when we could anticipate hearing about the results of the review?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As the member knows, health and safety is certainly a priority for our government. Our objective is to ensure that we have among the safest workplaces in the world. In fact, we have recently set a target of a 30% reduction in lost-time injuries in this province by the year 2000. It is important that we draft legislation that will respond to the concerns that have been identified, and we hope that in the fall we will have something ready for the members of this House.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Minister, you would like to be viewed by the public as a road safety guy, the guy who is going to make our roads safe. Frankly, it's all wet, because none of that is coming true.

We have a very specific request for you that we have put in writing, that we have met individually about. We have talked to you about this for months. We're asking you for a flashing warning light on Huron Line and Cousineau Road so that people in my riding who are near this very large thoroughfare with all of this truck traffic can feel safe when they're crossing the intersection.

We have school buses carrying children, our precious cargo, every day going through this intersection and we are simply asking you for a second flashing warning light at that corner. The people in my riding will be very interested in your response today because you're the guy who says you're all about road safety.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): Certainly I would like to thank the member for the endorsement as this government is committed to safety. But as far as the flashing red light the member mentioned is concerned, we have installed one of these lights in her particular region. We've also done various lights throughout the province in other areas.

One of the things we have said is that we'd like an opportunity to see if these flashing lights are indeed going to work before we start investing in more of these flashing lights and then finding out that they aren't really going to make a difference in the traffic, so why spend money. Possibly we have to put in a full-blown light rather than just a flashing light.

I want to tell the honourable member that we are committed to safety and we are going to do what it takes to make sure that our roads are in fact safe.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition concerns smaller class sizes and Bill 110. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the private member's bill introduced by Rick Bartolucci, MPP for Sudbury, which promotes smaller class sizes, passed second reading; and

"Whereas this bill, known as Bill 110, was referred to the social development committee; and

"Whereas we, the stakeholders in education, want the government committee to hear what we have to say about smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas we want to hear what the government committee has to say regarding smaller class sizes; and

"Whereas all people in Ontario have a right to speak to the social development committee about smaller class sizes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to support the recommendation that the social development committee travel across Ontario to find out what the students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of Ontario are saying about smaller class sizes and Bill 110, the smaller class sizes act."

Of course I affix my signature to the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by hundreds of members of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Locals 175 and 633, and this was forwarded to me by Herb MacDonald, who is the benefits coordinator for those locals. The petition reads as follows:

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system including reducing benefits; excluding claims for repetitive strain injuries, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress, harassment and most occupational diseases; eliminating pension supplements; handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury; privatizing WCB to large insurance companies; integrating sick benefits into WCB; eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT; including eliminating worker representation on the board and eliminating the bipartite WCB board of directors.

"We, the undersigned, therefore demand a safe workplace, compensation if we are injured, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, an independent appeals structure with worker representation, access to the office of the worker adviser, that the WCAT be left intact and that the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

I affix my own signature in full agreement with the petition.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition, signed by union members all across Ontario, forwarded to me by the Ontario Federation of Labour.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc (OHCOW) provides high-quality professional medical, hygiene and ergonomic services to employers, workers, joint health and safety committees and their communities;

"Whereas the professional services that the Ministry of Labour once provided are being offloaded to organizations such as the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, increasing the demand for the services provided by OHCOW;

"Whereas the professional and technical expertise and advice provided by OHCOW have made a significant contribution to improvements to workplace health and safety as well as the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to call upon the government to maintain the funding of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and oppose any attempt to alter the governance structure or erode the professional and technical services of OHCOW.

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that OHCOW be provided with the necessary funds to allow expansion into other Ontario communities in order to provide the professional and technical services needed to reduce occupational injuries, illnesses and death."

I add my name to theirs.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition here which I'm submitting on behalf of the member for Simcoe West signed by approximately 363 residents of his riding. It concerns Women's College Hospital. The petition is opposed to the changes that are being contemplated by the restructuring commission.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I received the following petition from a number of people who are addressing it to the government of Ontario.

"Whereas the people of Ontario want rigorous discussion on legislation dealing with public policy issues like health care, education and care for seniors; and

"Whereas many people in Ontario believe that the Mike Harris government is moving too quickly and recklessly, creating havoc with the provision of quality health care, quality education, and adversely affecting seniors; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government now wishes to change the rules of the Ontario Legislature, which would allow the government to ram legislation through more quickly and have less accountability to the public and the media through exercises such as question period; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, when they were in opposition, defended the rights of the opposition and used the rules to their full advantage when they believed it was necessary to slow down the passage of controversial legislation; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government now wishes to reduce the amount of time that MPPs will have to debate the important issues of the day; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government, through its proposed rule changes, is attempting to diminish the role of elected members of the Legislative Assembly who are accountable to the people who elect them, and instead concentrate power in the Premier's office in the hands of people who are not elected officials;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Mike Harris to abandon these proposed draconian rule changes and restore rules which promote rigorous debate on contentious issues and hold the government accountable to the people of Ontario."

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


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions signed by members of the Bricklayers' and Masons' Union Number 1 from my home community of Hamilton-Wentworth. The petition reads as follows:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre has provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre has made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and in the reduction of injuries, illnesses and death caused by work;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Further we, the undersigned, demand that the education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas child care is an essential service to the working parents of Ontario;

"Whereas early childhood education is an important aspect of child development;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to:

"Maintain wage grants for professionals and providers in licensed child care at existing levels; and

"Maintain present ratios for children under the age of five; and

"Conduct public consultation across the province before the implementation of the child care review."


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition ici à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que des accidents surviennent sur une base régulière et qu'un rapport de la Police provinciale de l'Ontario de Rockland démontre que 23 accidents sérieux sont survenus au cours des huit derniers mois sur la route 17 entre Rockland et Orléans ;

«Attendu qu'une étude démontre que pas moins de 18 000 voitures circulent chaque jour sur cette portion de 20 kilomètres de la route 17 ;

«Attendu que la conception d'ébauches est complétée, des audiences publiques ont eu lieu et des parcelles de terrain ont été achetées ;

«Nous, soussignés, adressons à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario la pétition suivante :

«Nous demandons au ministre des Transports, Al Palladini, de remettre sur la liste des priorités le projet d'élargissement de la route 17 entre le chemin Trim et Clarence Point et nous demandons au gouvernement de mettre de côté les fonds nécessaires pour l'exécution de ce projet avant de remettre aux municipalités la responsabilité de la route 17.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by Cathy Maxwell of the early childhood education department of the Fennell campus of Mohawk College. The petition reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I agree with the content, I sign this petition in support.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition from some residents of the riding of Niagara South which reads as follows:

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

"Whereas Ontarians feel that health services are suffering; and

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

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



Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the people of Ontario want rigorous discussion on legislation dealing with public policy issues like health care, education and care for seniors; and

"Whereas many people in Ontario believe that the Mike Harris government is moving too quickly and recklessly, creating havoc with the provision of quality health care, quality education, and adversely affecting seniors; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government now wishes to change the rules for the Ontario Legislature, which would allow the government to ram legislation through more quickly and have less accountability to the public and the media through exercises such as question period; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, when they were in opposition, defended the rights of the opposition and used the rules to their full advantage when they believed it was necessary to slow down the passage of controversial legislation; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government now wishes to reduce the amount of time that MPPs will have to debate the important issues of the day; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government, through its proposed rule changes, is attempting to diminish the role of elected members of the Legislative Assembly who are accountable to the people who elect them, and instead concentrate power in the Premier's office in the hands of people who are not elected;

"We, the undersigned, call upon Mike Harris to abandon these proposed draconian rule changes and retain rules which promote rigorous debate on contentious issues and hold the government accountable to the people of Ontario."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by Julie Nielson, the WCB specialist from the building trades WCB services. The petition reads as follows:

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose your government's plan to dismantle the workers' compensation system, including reducing benefits; excluding claims for back injuries, carpal tunnel, muscle injuries, strains, sprains, stress and most occupational diseases; eliminating pension supplements; handing over control of our claims to our employers for the first four to six weeks after injury; privatizing WCB to large insurance companies; eliminating worker representation; eliminating or restricting the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, WCAT; deducting Canada pension plan disability benefits and union pensions dollar for dollar from WCB benefits;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, demand compensation if we are injured, a safe workplace, no reduction in benefits, improved re-employment and vocational rehabilitation, that WCAT be left intact and the WCB bipartite board of directors be reinstated."

I proudly add my name to theirs.



Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on regulations and private bills and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill Pr64, An Act respecting the National Ballet of Canada.

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

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

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.



Mr Christopherson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr51, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.

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


Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Madam Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to proceed with second and third reading of Bill 135, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act and to make consequential amendments.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Is that agreed? Agreed.


Mr Leach moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 135, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Act and to make consequential amendments / Projet de loi 135, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la municipalité régionale de Waterloo et apportant des modifications corrélatives.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I introduced this package of amendments on June 2 to respond to a local solution for a municipal restructuring that all municipalities in the area have agreed to. We are implementing a local request with this legislation.

This bill will reduce the size of regional council to 22 members from 26. This legislation will also allow for the direct election of the regional chair. These measures will result in fewer politicians and improved accountability for the municipal government in the Waterloo region.

In six of the seven municipalities which make up the region, excluding Kitchener, members of the regional council will be elected by voters to sit on both the regional and local councils in the 1997 municipal elections. In Kitchener, this form of double direct election will not take place until the year 2000, as council has not yet completed its discussions on the election of its representatives to the regional council. Kitchener regional councillors will continue to be chosen by the Kitchener city council in 1997.

As you know, municipal restructuring is a cornerstone of the government's overall agenda and I am very pleased to be able to further the process in this very important region of Ontario. The new restructuring process we have set in motion across this province will result in stronger municipalities that are fiscally better to position for the future.

We will continue to shrink government, and that's because all citizens of Ontario are shouldering too large a tax load. The taxpayers wants a smaller, more efficient public sector and they want less government.

Waterloo region has understood what some others have not: that it's important to put new structures in place now.

I would like to acknowledge the involvement and support of the government caucus members from the Waterloo region, including the Honourable Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour, and the municipal representatives in the area, including the regional chairman. They all agree that it is important for this bill to be in place for this November's municipal elections. They agree there is a need to streamline the representational system, improve accountability and reduce the size of government.


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

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Let me at the outset say that we agree with this particular amendment. I know it's something the regional municipality of Kitchener-Waterloo has been looking for for some time. As a matter of fact, we were prepared to move on this a month or so ago and for some inexplicable reason it wasn't dealt with at that point in time. But we certainly feel it ought to be dealt with so that the people in the region of Waterloo and all the municipalities that form part of the region know exactly what the electoral process is going to be this coming fall. It's unfortunate that not all the citizens in some of the other areas that are looked at for restructuring will have that same luxury.

As we saw yesterday, there was a private member's bill introduced, for example, for Ottawa-Carleton that calls for a report to be presented by October 1. Nobody seems to know, whatever that report may say, whether it's going to be a one-tier region, whether it's going to be a number of municipalities restructured as they are in that particular area, what form it will take as far as the election in November of this year is concerned. It leaves those people who want to run for office up in the air as to exactly what they're running for, but it also leaves the general public up in the air as to exactly what kind of formal structure they will have come election time. It seems to me people have the right to know what kinds of councils with what kind of governance structure they're going to have at least three or four months before the municipal elections this year.

There were a couple of interesting comments the minister made. First of all he talks about the notion of reducing the number of municipalities we have in Ontario from over 800 to somewhere around 650, that that's a cornerstone of this government's agenda.

I have maintained all along that a bigger government isn't necessarily a better or cheaper government, and that seems to be the modus operandi this government is operating under, that as long as we get rid of all sorts of local governments and get rid of more and more politicians, local politicians, then somehow we'll all be better off. I don't think that's necessarily so at all. There may very well be situations where as a result of locally driven solutions municipalities decide to merge, amalgamate or restructure, and I'm totally in favour of that. But to go at it in a way whereby the blame for all the problems that municipalities, according to the government, have is somehow due to the number of local municipal politicians we have right now, that that is the main problem of local government, I totally reject that.

For example, when we look at Chatham-Kent and the restructuring proposal that was put into place there, which will take it from 141 municipal politicians in that area to 18, I say to myself, without knowing all that much about it other than the briefings I've had and what I've read in the paper and the contacts I've had in that area, that 141 local politicians may very well be too many, but I certainly think that going to 18 to look after that same area -- you're still going to have the same land mass, you're still going to have the same municipal problems, you're still going to have the same service levels etc presumably that were there before -- is simply going too far.

What you're really talking about, when you go down from 141 politicians to 18 politicians -- or you can pick whatever number you want -- what you're saying is that the local politicians simply will not have the same ability to react to the kinds of problems his or her neighbours or constituents may have in the same way they currently do. One thing that undoubtedly is going to happen is that the contact between the local politician and the constituent in those particular wards or areas or ridings is going to diminish tremendously the more local politicians you take out of the process.

I'm very concerned about that because I firmly believe that one of the reasons local government has worked extremely well in Ontario over the last 100 to 150 years is that in most situations there is the immediate contact between local politicians and the people they represent. What we're talking about with all these amalgamations is, number one, less democracy. The kind of input the local citizen wants in this local decision-making process will simply not be the same if the politicians he or she wants to have contact with are going to be further and further removed from the process and are going to represent larger areas with many more people than they presently do.

The basis of this seems to be that the government somehow wants the people of Ontario to believe that politicians are the people who cost money in the system. Although that may be something a lot of people can nod their heads at and say, "Yes, I think that's so," in reality that's not the situation. When you look at the fact that the average municipal politician in this province probably makes somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 per year and does it on a part-time basis, certainly they are not the cost of running local municipalities. In most cases it's well below 0.001%. This whole notion that if we somehow got rid of local politicians we'd all be better off is something I totally reject.

The other thing that's part and parcel of this is the whole downloading of services on to local municipalities. I don't want to go over the whole situation again, but we all know that as a result of the suggested downloading changes the government made earlier this year, in effect an extra $1 billion was being downloaded on to the local property taxpayer. Let's never forget that. Yes, they were going to take over $5 billion worth of educational costs from the local property tax base, but about $6.4 billion was going to be added on.

Then, as a result of meetings that took place with AMO and other representatives and as a result of the human outcry that took place in the province, the government went back on some of the original proposals it had made. Where it wanted to download health services, social services, social housing costs, ambulance costs etc on to the local taxpayer, it sort of halved it.

The bottom line is, according to our calculations and according to AMO's calculations as well, that about $600 million more in costs are still being downloaded on to local municipalities by the province than is currently the case. So local property taxpayers are going to pay more if they want the same services.

The real pressure is going to be on those local municipal councils -- who obviously do not want to pass on a 10% or 20% property tax increase to their local ratepayers, which is totally understandable -- to cut out various services or increase property taxes next year. They're not going to want to increase the amount of taxation, so they're going to cut services. That is the bottom line in the whole thing.

The people of Ontario have to understand that social housing costs in this province, which amount to about $900 million, will be completely downloaded on to local municipalities. The real tragedy of this is that in many cases these costs have been incurred as a result of agreements for non-profit housing, co-op housing and other social housing where contracts were signed directly between the province and local organizations, local non-profit housing providers, where the municipality had absolutely no input. Yet those annual subsidy costs are now going to be passed down on to the local property taxpayer. That's just one major area.

Another area is the whole notion that health units are now going to be paid for completely out of local taxes. I know there's a tremendous concern within the health unit community as to exactly how that cost is going to be allocated among the many constituent municipalities that make up a health unit district or a health unit area. Nobody seems to know. The ministry doesn't seem to know; certainly the local health units don't seem to know.

New costs are going to be downloaded on to local communities as well. Ambulance services that have never, ever been part of the local municipal costs --


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): A point of order, Speaker: There is absolutely no quorum in this House and I think you should check for that.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Marchese: Sorry about that, John.

Mr Gerretsen: No, that's quite all right. It's certainly too bad that on such an important bill as this, which the Minister of Labour would certainly attest to, as she is a representative from this area -- you would expect government members to be interested in this highly important matter of how we're going to restructure the region of Waterloo and you would expect them to be listening to some of this debate because they're very much interested in this bill.

You've got to remember that we were prepared to pass this bill a month ago so that the people and the politicians of Waterloo could get ready for the election in November. I've no idea why the government held it up, but they held it up for whatever reason, and then not to have a quorum in the House to actually debate the merits of this bill is somewhat unfortunate.

Let me conclude, and I am going to conclude. I'm not going to prolong this any more than we ought to talk about this. I think I'm quoting the minister correctly. He says, "Local taxpayers are paying too large a tax load currently, and one of the reasons we're into restructuring is so that they'll be paying less." He's saying it's right.

I ask him, why have you then downloaded so many other municipal services on to the local property tax base? You took education off, yes; that's $5.4 billion. But you originally tried to unload $6.4 billion on the local property taxpayer. Then you had these meetings with AMO, and I'm sure you and your parliamentary assistants were sweating quite a bit because AMO, which I think you and I will agree is an independent organization and doesn't adhere to any one political party, came up with figure after figure for each and every municipality that clearly showed that your plan was going to cost the local taxpayer more and more money.

In the city of Kingston it was going to be an extra $28 million and I believe in Waterloo it was going to be $32 million. It was going to be $105 million in one of the regions right in the Metro area. They caught you. Here you're saying you want to unburden the local taxpayer from too large a tax load they're currently paying, yet at the same time you were downloading $1 billion on to them, which would have meant an increase of about 10% to 20% in property taxes across the province.

You met with the municipal leaders and they said to you: "Minister, you can't do this. In 99% of the municipalities in Ontario the local taxpayers are going to be paying more and more money as a result of this. We have to come up with something else." You came up with something else and they were very happy, because now the downloading is no longer $1 billion but something like $665 million.

You know it and I know it, and I'm afraid that next year the property taxpayers around the province will know it as well, because the burden you have placed on local municipal councils is to do one of two things: They can either decrease services -- and I'm convinced in my own mind that's one of the things you're after -- or they can increase taxes.

Nobody likes to increase taxes. What's going to happen in all likelihood is that there's going to be a small property tax increase but there's going to be a large decrease in the kinds of services local municipalities are currently able to give to their local taxpayers.

We can argue about this all we want. We can start blaming the province or the local communities, and you can say this and I can say that, but the bottom line is this: Is the taxpayer better off in the long run in terms of the kinds of services they demand from their municipalities, and are they going to be paying more or less than they're currently paying? That's the bottom line. That's the only thing that really matters. Nothing else matters. They're not concerned about whether it's your fault or the municipality's fault or what have you. They want the services, and they want to pay as few property tax dollars as possible. That's what this is really all about.

I hope the people of Ontario will remember that this is the government that has downloaded an extra $600 million in costs on them; that this is the government that in effect is taking away much of the democratic voice they have in each of the local municipalities, whether they be municipal councillors who in many cases are no farther away than the next concession road right now or within the immediate neighbourhood these people happen to live in or whether we're talking about school boards.

Let's face it, what the whole amalgamation process in the school board area is really all about is to have fewer and fewer school trustees. Some people may say, "Well, that's a good idea," until they actually want to speak to somebody and try to influence a decision at the local council or school board. The school boards are going to be larger and larger. Then they might say, "My gosh, that councillor who used to be down the next concession line," or used to live three or four blocks over, may be miles away now, and, "Why can't I ever get hold of the person?" That person is going to be busier and busier.

As I mentioned before, in a place like Chatham-Kent, if you get rid of 90% of your elected local politicians, when you go from 141 local politicians in total down to 18, you are simply not going to get the same kind of service, you're not going to get the same kind of response and you're not going to have the ability to speak to your local representatives in the same way you do now.

By doing that, we're losing an awful lot, because the other result that's going to happen is that the few politicians that are going to be left at the local level are going to become more and more professional. They are not going to be part-time people. Many of these people are part-timers right now; they have a foot in the community and also in the political process, which I think is a good thing. They're going to be full-time politicians who will do almost anything to hang on to their job around election time. I don't think the system as a whole is better for it.

With that, I will simply say that we will be supporting this bill. We understand it has the support not only of the region but of all the area municipalities. I'm very pleased that in actual fact these people will know about four or five months in advance what system of government will be in place for them come election time. I really wish the people in Ottawa-Carleton would know that, because they still don't have a clue about whether they will be electing a one-tier government this November, whether they will be electing people to four or five different municipal councils or whether there will be both local councils and a regional council. Certainly the reporting date of October 1 that has been suggested for the committee to report is way too late to actually have a meaningful impact on the local elections that are going to take place there in November of this year.

With that I will simply conclude my remarks and indicate that I will support this bill, but we will be talking again about the property taxpayers in this province next year, and I guarantee you -- you may think you are a very popular individual right now -- that once the property taxpayers start paying 10% or 20% more than what they are paying now or have fewer services next year, you won't be such a popular individual.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Marchese: I support the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act --

The Acting Speaker: Do you understand this is questions and comments or are you making your speech now?

Mr Marchese: I beg your pardon, Madam Speaker. I thought we weren't going to do that.

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat for a moment. Are there any questions or comments? No. Okay, further debate.

Mr Marchese: I was quite happy to allow the government members an opportunity to speak because they don't get much of a chance to do that in government. I'd be quite willing to sit down if they want to speak.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): There's a lot of it in caucus.

Mr Marchese: There's a lot of discussion in caucus.

Interjection: And in committee.

Mr Marchese: And in committee. I'm happy to hear Minister Jackson say a lot of talking goes on in caucus. We never get to hear about it because they never get to speak here in the House, but rest assured they're talking in caucus. I'm happy to hear that.

I support the changes that are being introduced through this act, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act, and I'm happy to hear that my good friend M. Leach, the minister, thanked Mme Witmer, the Minister of Labour, for her involvement. They must have worked very closely together because there appeared to be a great deal of cooperation between the ministers and with the regional municipality of Waterloo. He thanked Mme Witmer, the Minister of Labour, for her involvement. This is Mme Witmer, that very nice, calm, serene, tranquil person who wouldn't hurt a fly -- except maybe injured workers. But I'm happy to say that they've been working together in this regard, unlike Chatham-Kent.

You know what happened in Chatham-Kent. The minister hired some guy called Dr Meyboom, whom I call Dr Doom because of what he decided to do to Chatham-Kent. Dr Meyboom disregarded much of what people in Kent county in particular had to tell him. Many deputations were heard by Dr Doom, but in the end, Minister, it's true, he completed disregarded it. I was there in Kent county, and the people who were there -- councillors no less, not just regular people out there, councillors who came to make a deputation in front of Dr Meyboom -- told him what they thought should happen and they were completely shut out. They weren't listened to. I know Minister Leach, in answer to my questions to him, twice said: "That's not true. The guy is a respected man. Everybody loves what he did." But it's not true.

Hon Mr Leach: It is true.

Mr Marchese: It isn't, Minister Leach. I was there, and there have been a number of articles attacking the minister and Dr Meyboom on how that process evolved, which in my view and their view was a very autocratic process. That is why I say they are leaving a stench of autocratic behaviour across Ontario, because of these kinds of things they are doing. In Metropolitan Toronto, they completely disregarded 76% of the people who voted who said no to the megacity. That's autocracy in my view.

Dr Meyboom, the henchman hired by the minister, disregarded everything the people of Chatham-Kent had to say. That is autocracy in my view. It is anti-democratic. It is not respecting the wishes of people, not just in Metro but in Chatham-Kent.

The minister stands up and says that's not true, but I'll tell you, his own member in that Kent county region is going to be one unhappy fellow. He is not attending their meetings, I'm told. I think he's scared. I would be too. I would be scared to go to those people who have been shunned, shut out by Dr Meyboom and the minister. The minister is saying, "Everybody's happy," and they're saying, "But that's not true." They're shut out.

It is autocracy, anti-democratic. It is not listening to the voice of the people, which is something this Reform Party claims to listen to but does not. I'll tell you the people they're listening to. They're listening to Mme Witmer --

The Acting Speaker: May I remind the member --

Mr Marchese: -- the Minister of Labour, yes --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Marchese: -- who is a very tranquil minister but obviously very influential with Mr Leach. They obviously talked together about how --

The Acting Speaker: The Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Mr Marchese: The Minister of Municipal Affairs. They obviously talked about how to solve it in the region of Waterloo in an amicable way. Witness the fact that in Kitchener they don't have to adopt the arrangement that everybody else does until the year 2000. Do you see how accommodating M. Leach was to the region of Waterloo? M. Leach, the Minister of Housing.

The Acting Speaker: I know the member forgets, but if I could remind him to refer to members by their riding or, in the case of ministers, their ministry.

Mr Marchese: I thank you, Speaker, for the reminder. I need to be reminded from time to time.

Do you see the people the Minister of Municipal Affairs is listening to? He listens to the Minister of Labour, Mme Witmer. He listens to her; he listens to Dr Meyboom, that well-paid hired gun, paid by the minister to disregard the voices of the people. He listens to them. But in Chatham-Kent, where people were crying against this legacy of autocracy that this government is leaving, they didn't listen; and they didn't listen in Metro.

What can you deduce from all of that? I leave that to all of you. I leave that to the people of Chatham-Kent to assess: the treatment you are getting versus the kinder and more gentle treatment they're getting in the region of Waterloo. People need to see that there are differences in terms of how they're being treated, and that's what we're here to point out.

When the regional municipality of Waterloo called us and said they had some amendments they would like to introduce and asked would we support them, we said yes. But those amendments would have to be worked out through our House leaders. I gave no commitment to do it in any other way except that I knew our House leader wanted and needed to be involved. You know what happened? In one of the committees that I was a member of, while we were discussing the Development Charges Act, at the very end of those amendments to the Development Charges Act, the parliamentary assistant, who happens not to be here at the moment, introduced these very changes we're dealing with here today. I was shocked when I discovered, in complete surprise, that the parliamentary assistant was introducing them at the end of the Development Charges Act, without notice, without discussion.

When I was alerted to that problem I said to the parliamentary assistant: "Did you talk to the House leaders? Do you have agreement? He said yes, but I urged him to check it because I didn't think there was any agreement. When he came back after we broke, and we dealt with this at the following meeting, we clearly knew there was no agreement.

What I disliked about that was the serpentine way of dealing with the issue. It was underhanded, in my view. It was not a decent way, a decent process to deal with something that all of us clearly today are speaking to and are in agreement with.

For me, when you want to make changes to something that there is some agreement on, you've got to deal with it with the right process. But it speaks to the modus vivendi of this government in terms of how they try to push through their issues: autocratically, often with incompetence and every now and then in their serpentine way of trying to sneak this thing through. But it's here today, after we have had discussion through our House leaders to have this bill introduced in this way.


Minister Leach says he's happy to introduce this, that politicians are going to be eliminated, he's happy about that, and that of course as a result of that there are going to be tremendous savings and all of you fine taxpayers out there can thank Minister Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mme Witmer and all the other ministers for all the great savings you're going to have.

I tell you, those of you who are watching, to become vigilant, to be vigilant around these issues, because they claim that there are going to be savings as a result of all these amalgamations. We have argued through the evidence we have seen from all the experts that there are no savings. In fact, as you centralize power and as you amalgamate the various municipalities in creating a big bureaucracy of that kind, you will be increasing costs not saving them. So what do I tell you taxpayers? Keep an eye on this.

If this government doesn't call an early election and we have a couple of years to see how this unfolds, you will be able to determine for yourselves without much study or experts whether the minister, M. Leach, is right or whether he's wrong. Based on the research we have to date, my view is that they are dead wrong. There are no savings to be had. You taxpayers are not going to have money in your pockets; in fact you will have less money in your pockets and more to spend to deal with the policy changes that are being introduced by these fine fellows across from me.

You can expect a heftier tax load as they download more and more to municipalities and consequentially to the homeowners and the tenants who pay for the downloading of a whole new set of things that this government wants to shed, abrogate itself from, so that you municipalities and you people in the municipalities as homeowners and tenants are going to have to pick up the cost.

That is the legacy this government is leaving you, and some of you believe that somehow this government is going to save you some money. I know many of you believe it, because they continue to repeat the fact that as we get rid of these governments and as we get rid of these local levels and all these municipal politicians, somehow miraculously there are going to be a whole lot of savings. I know some of you watching this channel today believe them. I ask you to stay tuned, follow it very carefully, because there are not going to be any savings. Speaker, you know, now that you're in the chair, there are not going to be any savings. There are going to be a whole lot of tax increases that you're going to have to explain to your taxpayers, because that's what you like to refer to your electorate as.

The changes proposed today are reasonable. These are changes that obviously the region had an opportunity to discuss among themselves. When changes happen as a result of that discussion and dialogue -- voluntary, not forced -- they tend to come up with better solutions as opposed to what's going to happen in Chatham-Kent where it was a forced amalgamation and not voluntary.

In this case the region says: "We want two things. We want to be able to have direct elections at the region as we do the council." That's okay. That's what we call the double direct system for electing its council members, and in this case they're saying mayors automatically will get a regional seat. That's fine. These are not changes I could disagree with because they grow out of the community. When democracy is at work we have better solutions.

Their suggestion of reducing the number of politicians, if accepted by the people of the area, I support, and the double direct system for electing its council members is something I support as well.

I remind the people watching that in the case of Chatham-Kent and Metro, and I suspect a whole lot of other communities, you will not get direct democracy to deal with your problems. The people of the regional municipality of Waterloo are in a much happier situation today, because consultation has been permitted to happen. That's what you need to fight for. That's what you need to remind M. Leach, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that you want democracy to work in your communities and that anything short of that is autocracy and anti-democratic, as we have witnessed in Metro and Chatham-Kent.

The member from that region is here now today. I'm glad he's here, because I tell you, the people in your region are not happy and at some point you're going to have to become accountable to them. Usually it's at election time, but many of the members want you to be accountable in between elections. That's why they often call meetings and they invite you. I urge you, Mr Carroll -- not you, Mr Johnson -- to go to those meetings when called, because if nothing else it's good to be brave and face the populace, face the crowds, face those who disagree with you.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): How many people were at the meeting?

Mr Marchese: There were a lot of people at the meeting, Mr Carroll. There were over 25 people, including all the media people who were there.

Mr Carroll: Out of 109,000.

Mr Marchese: Yes, but you can take comfort in the fact that Dr Doom is in agreement with you and that the two of you were in cahoots with each other. Take comfort from that. But I don't and I know the people of that region don't take comfort from that kind of autocracy.

As the New Democratic Party, we're supporting these changes. We think because there has been involvement by the communities it's a good thing and we support the amendments introduced today by the regional municipality of Waterloo.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary L. Leadston): Questions and comments? Further debate? Minister, do you wish to conclude the debate?

Hon Mr Leach: Yes. Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to move third reading of Bill 135.

The Acting Speaker: Minister, this is your wrapup for second reading, if you wish to use that time.

Hon Mr Leach: I believe the comments that have been made by the two opposition parties were sufficient to confuse the audience today as to what this bill is really about. This is a bill to create direct elections of the regional chair in Kitchener-Waterloo and to reduce the number of councillors from 26 to 22, a very simple bill that probably didn't require the rhetoric that took place across the hall about other parts of Ontario like Chatham-Kent and Metropolitan Toronto.

I believe there has been sufficient debate on this bill and I move second reading.

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

Hon Mr Leach: I believe we have unanimous consent for third reading of Bill 135, and I believe we have unanimous consent for no debate on third reading, Mr Speaker, and I move third reading.

The Acting Speaker: Is it agreed that there be no debate? It's agreed.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I move that pursuant to standing order 6(b)(i), the House shall continue to meet from 6 pm to 12 midnight on June 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and 26, 1997, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.

Mr Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to split the time in three on this.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary L. Leadston): Is it agreed that the time allocations would be split equally? Agreed.

Hon David Johnson: This is a traditional motion, and the standing order provides for extended hours during the last eight days of the parliamentary calendar to allow for the business to be cleared up, as they say, before the end of the session.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Is there a provision for overtime pay?

Hon David Johnson: My colleague opposite asks if there's overtime pay. How many years have you been here now? Well over 20 years?

Mr Wildman: About 23.

Hon David Johnson: Having been here for some 23 years, he knows better than any of us here there's no overtime pay. There's just the joy and privilege of serving in this House and going about the business for the people of Ontario, which we're all delighted and proud to do.

The members of this House are very hardworking members. Every once in a while there's the tendency, particularly when one is quizzed by the media about the number of days that are worked in this House, the number of hours worked in this House, that sort of thing, because the calendar is I guess from March to the end of June and from September to the end of December, to say that there's a lot of time off. But I will say that members on all sides of the House work hard not only in this House but back in their constituencies and with their various responsibilities on committees, travelling committees, committees here in Toronto. There's a great deal of effort put into the legislative process in many different ways and certainly the members are hardworking.

I would like to express my hope that we'll complete this debate as we've agreed upon today, because it is important to have those extra hours to be able to debate the many pieces of legislation. We have before us over 25 pieces of legislation at this moment, plus other important matters such as the concurrences, the Supply Act, the requirement to set a schedule for the summer. There are not only many pieces of legislation but motions that need to be dealt with. Indeed there are private members' bills --

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Hear, hear.

Hon David Johnson: -- my friend from Scarborough East being one of those who has a very important piece of legislation, and he's reminded me from time to time that it's now the opportune moment for that piece of legislation to be introduced.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The member for Essex-Kent.

Hon David Johnson: Indeed, the member for Essex-Kent. All parties certainly have private members' bills. That's absolutely right.

Mr Bradley: And the member for Fort William.

Hon David Johnson: No question about it, and it would be in keeping with tradition that we try to accommodate private members' bills as well as government legislation in the motion. So we need those extra hours and that's what this debate is about.

Some of my colleagues, indeed my colleague from Nepean in particular, have asked, "Should this debate be necessary?" Given that there are very few occasions historically when the House doesn't sit at least for some period of time in the evenings, through all three parties in government, should this be an automatic trigger, that these days automatically go to midnight? I see my colleague from St Catharines biting his lower lip, but we'll get an opportunity to debate that at some time in the future as we look at the standing orders. I'd be interested in the thoughts of the members of this House. Maybe this should be an automatic requirement, let's say, or an automatic situation that during the last two weeks of the session, those eight days, the midnight sessions be in place. We'll all have an opportunity to speak to that and we'll see.

Some of the pieces of legislation, I might say, that we are attempting to implement to make life better in Ontario -- I was surprised, from the very fine work of Frank Sheehan and the red tape task force, that we still have eight bills from I think last spring which have not yet had third reading.

Mr Bradley: Let's get those through.

Hon David Johnson: The member for St Catharines said, "Let's get those through." I'm glad to hear that. Maybe the House leader for the NDP will say the same thing and we'll be able to accomplish getting those red tape bills through in the last two weeks of this session; cut the red tape, cut the red tape from the Ministry of the Attorney General, as one good example --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You're dismantling the whole system.

Hon David Johnson: I'm sure my colleague from Kingston and The Islands would say that the Attorney General making more efficient use of hearings, and the Assessment Review Board and the public guardian's and public trustee's office, improving accessibility in those offices, promoting better customer service --

Mr Gerretsen: Unfortunately there's more to these bills than titles. The titles are great but they don't match the --

Mr Bradley: If only the bill were the same as the title.

Hon David Johnson: Well, I'll tell you all of these bills are attempting not only to cut red tape to allow businesses, boards and commissions to work better, but to improve the service to the people of Ontario, because that's what the bottom line is about. If we don't improve the service to the people of Ontario, then why are we here?

The Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has legislation to reduce a number of redundant procedures and regulations. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has Bill 68. This bill apparently repeals the Canada Company's Lands Act, 1922.

Mr Bradley: Good. Let's do that one.

Hon David Johnson: Let's do them all. Let's do this one, but let's do them all. That one, for example, removes the complex and lengthy process a landowner must go through to obtain a clear title, and I'm sure we would all agree with that. We want people not to be bound up in that red tape.

What else have we got here? We've got Bill 98, which has had second reading. The people of Ontario, those who are hoping to buy a home in the future but have very limited means -- we know that development charges are a significant proportion of the cost of new housing in some areas. I'm sure we would all concur that to the degree we could take action in this House to reduce the cost of housing for the younger generations coming on, the younger generations that in future will want to buy an affordable house and an affordable property, we should do that. That's exactly what Bill 98 does. It encourages more affordable housing in Ontario. At the same time it recognizes the need of municipal governments to provide services, and those governments have to have a source of revenue to put in sewers and roads and that sort of thing.

There's a piece of legislation I'd like to see us deal with in the last couple of weeks: Bill 102, the Community Safety Act. "It would require," and this is from the Solicitor General, "that anybody applying for a change of name must disclose to the registrar general particulars of any outstanding law enforcement orders or pending criminal charges against them." The concern here is that certain individuals apparently have attempted to avoid the law in the past through a name change, I gather. This piece of legislation would deal with that issue.


Mr Bradley: Let's bring it in and pass it.

Hon David Johnson: I agree. Let's bring it in, let's get it going because safety in our community is a very important issue. This is what we said during the last election and, I believe, has been our track record.

In terms of services, the provision of health services to the people of Ontario is number one, but education and the justice system in Ontario are very important services to the people of Ontario that I know members of all parties would be happy to support.

The Provincial Offences Act: I would say we have agreement on how to deal with it. Unfortunately, it got a little off the rail and got involved in the committee of the whole somehow. I haven't quite figured out how that happened yet. That's another bill we need to deal with over the next two weeks, because municipalities are involved there again, and there's a revenue stream out of the Provincial Offences Act which will go to those municipalities as a result of their efforts in being involved with administration and prosecutorial responsibilities for certain offences. In other words, they will take the responsibility, as they have for parking tickets, because they can manage this on a local basis more effectively and efficiently, but they will also get the revenues and it's important that the two go hand in glove. We'll again as a result, I believe, have a better service for the people of Ontario.

We have more red tape bills again and I congratulate the red tape task force on its efforts. We have Bill 127, involving nurse practitioners, which I'd like to deal with over the next two weeks during this midnight sitting period. We are so -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- lucky and fortunate to have dedicated nursing staff in our hospitals and our public health units right across this province to give an excellent level of health care to the people. The bill provides a framework to allow nurse practitioners to provide an expanded range of front-line patient services to the people of Ontario which will improve access to primary care particularly in the rural areas, I would say. Again this is something I hope we can all get together and deal with.

Here's one we're particularly pleased about, Bill 129, and we may get an opportunity to deal with this one tomorrow. It's a possibility. I'll just put everybody on alert now that --

Mr Bradley: This is the one with the hostage in it.

Hon David Johnson: -- this is the one, since I've been asked, that allows the people of Ontario to have their income tax reduced from 49% to 48% of the basic federal tax this year, and to 45% of the basic federal tax for 1998.


Hon David Johnson: I see cheering on both sides of the House. I might say that as a result of people being able to keep more of their own money and deal with their money in the way they see fit, we are seeing tremendous job growth in Ontario. Has anybody mentioned in this House that in the last three months we've had 100,000 new jobs created in Ontario? I just mentioned that because I hadn't heard a question on that over the last few days, and I wasn't sure if it had been brought to the attention of the opposition parties. We can have a little fun with that maybe, but in addition to that, the bill also doubles the maximum fine for selling or supplying liquor to persons who are under the age of 19.

Mr Bradley: I'm for that.


Hon David Johnson: Now I'm hearing general agreement all the way around. It amends the Tobacco Control Act to double the maximum fines for selling or supplying tobacco to a person who is less than 19 years of age. It also deals with loan and trust companies.

On my list I had the Regional Municipality of Waterloo Amendment Act, but it's already done, so there you are: We're making wonderful progress.

I also have another one on my list. It's just wonderful to see this spirit of cooperation. Now, if we can get all these bills -- bear in mind that there are over two dozen of them, but I think if we are creative, in the last two weeks we could deal with them all.

The Comprehensive Road Safety Act: This is one we've been privileged to deal with on second reading. It's out in committee now, with the cooperation of all members of the House. The committee is dealing with it, I believe, in three days of public hearings. There's a day of clause-by-clause, which expires in about two weeks' time; as a matter of fact, two weeks yesterday, I believe. I hope this would be back in the House two weeks from today and that we could give third reading to this. As we know, it deals with drinking drivers, putting in more backbone in terms of the drinking and driving issue, wheels coming off trucks and causing safety problems, the school bus safety issue.

Mr Wildman: Those were not wheels falling off the government agenda?

Hon David Johnson: The government agenda is doing quite nicely, thank you. We are right on track on the deficit. In the overall scheme of things, we're right on track. I will say that in terms of the number of bills that need consideration in this House -- well, we'll talk about that another day.

Bill 139: I'm pleased my colleague from Victoria-Haliburton has introduced the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. I hadn't really had an opportunity to see what it accomplishes, but I'm very pleased to see --

Interjection: Neither has he.

Hon David Johnson: He's fully aware of it. I know we're all becoming more aware. It does make tougher enforcement provisions, providing greater protection for a wider range of species and generally improves the management of fish and wildlife resources. For example, the limitation period on prosecutions in this area will be increased from six months to two years. The bill prohibits the possession of wildlife and fish that were illegally taken from another jurisdiction. The bill further protects the black bear population, and the bill provides penalties for commercial offences respecting fish and wildlife resources up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years. These are matters that need to be taken quite seriously. This is just a sampling of some of the legislation that is required to be dealt with over the next couple of weeks and why we need the extra time involved.

With that, I'll bring my remarks to a close, and I believe there will be other members of the government who will wish to speak to this matter.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I rise to support government notice of motion number 23 standing in the name of the government House leader, Mr Johnson, who has just spoken.

I want to make some remarks this afternoon in supporting the motion, although I observe, as he takes his leave, that the government House leader seemed, in passing, to suggest or at least imply that later today or tomorrow we might be seeing a package of proposals around rule changes. I myself have no difficulty with night sittings, I say to the government House leader. I've been around here a long time. I remember why we stopped having night sittings. I'm sure those problems will not recur, and if he can give me some satisfaction they won't recur, I will be the first to expedite his desire to have night sittings.

It's interesting to hear some of the newer intake proceed in this manner, as though there was not a good reason for ceasing and desisting night sittings. Would that the Minister of Community and Social Services was here today so she could perhaps share some of her memories of a former employer who was a particularly entertaining member of the night sitting regime that we used to have. I'm happy to support the motion. I'm happy to have Parliament work. I'm happy to be here morning, noon and night, if that's what it takes, because I think there is an important role for the Legislature to play in providing oversight, in holding the government accountable, not just this government but any government, for what it does or for what it doesn't do.

I must say I was also pleased to hear the government House leader say that from his vantage point he feels that the Legislative Assembly has some kind of a role to play, because that is at variance with the very careful and studied rhetoric the Harris Tories have employed over the last two and a half to three years. Never have I seen such a constant disparagement of the political class and of the parliamentary place as I've seen from the Harris Tories over the last three or four years. It has happened inside the place. It has happened outside the precinct. It has happened not only with respect to provincial politicians, but the government has had only more enthusiasm when it's been disparaging the municipal politicians.

I have been quite struck by how the party of Les Frost and John Robarts has, in this new incarnation, gone out of its way to abuse the school trustees and the local politicians. It has struck me, quite frankly, as remarkable that the Minister of Labour, a very capable woman whom I have known in her previous life as a school trustee, would actually, together with her colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, sit quietly and allow the current Minister of Education to say publicly the kinds of things that he has said about people like Liz Witmer and Dianne Cunningham in their previous lives as school trustees. I find it absolutely astonishing that people as capable as Liz Witmer and Dianne Cunningham are willing to be as disparaged in public by one of their own colleagues as they have been over the last number of months. Perhaps when she takes over the responsibility of the department of education later this year, she will have an opportunity to speak more directly to that.

It does concern me that we seem to be proceeding in a way around this place that less and less time is spent really doing the public business. There's a debate we'll probably have about rule changes. I don't really have much time or energy for that stuff any more. When I see good, smart people like O'Toole getting up as he did yesterday -- and he's a smart member of this assembly -- feeling it necessary to offer up that kind of a question, I say to myself, "What is the point?" There doesn't seem to be any self-respect left. I don't mean to pick on the member for Durham East, because we've all had backbenchers who have done it. I just use him as the most current example.

There was a time when there was some honour and respect associated with being a member of the assembly, where you came here as a government member or as a member in the opposition not just to support the cause, not just to support one's party, not just to speak to riding issues, but in some more general way to speak to a public interest. The notion that the Legislature has some independent life and responsibility apart from the executive council is a notion that has basically gone. If you're a government member, it seems now all you care about is: "How do I get preferment? How do I get to the cabinet table?" I understand that. I understand that's a very powerful impulse. For opposition members, quite frankly, there is the increasing tendency to simply do the parish work.

We have collectively made this place less of a place than it used to be. So when we talk about rule changes I, for one, am not going to worry too much any more because I don't really see that the Parliament I came to 22 years ago has the kind of self-respect it has to have to do its work and to do its business. I don't blame anyone in particular. I think we've all got a responsibility. But I find it interesting that the notion that the Parliament, as Parliament, has an important independent responsibility is foreign to more and more people.

Having said that, I want to comment on some of the observations that the government House leader has made about public business. One of the reasons I'm pleased to support the motion is that there are a number of public issues my constituents want addressed and want there to be time for, a better public debate than we've had to date. They want, for example, more time focused on the implementation of the Harris government's health care agenda. The hospital restructuring in eastern Ontario is a shambles, getting worse by the moment.

I accept, as I have said repeatedly, that a restructuring is overdue and I'm not here to argue against the rising of the sun on the eastern horizon. But you know we have in Pembroke an admission this week from the hospital restructuring commission that the time lines they imposed a few months ago are totally unrealistic. We have in my community of Pembroke taken some of the deepest, harshest cuts in the hospital sector to date.

Next door in Ottawa we have a situation where independent analysts have gone into the national capital and said that the government's restructuring commission has overstated savings by as much as 80% in the national capital area. That's not some caterwauling oppositionist, that's not some special interest grinding an axe; that is a pair of independent analysts going in and looking at the work that has been done in the national capital area by the government's restructuring commission and stating that the government's own estimates, as presented by the restructuring commission, are overstating savings by 80%. My colleague from Vanier is better able than I to speak to those particulars.

We've been treated in recent weeks to the spectacle of the Deputy Minister of Health writing a letter to the commission saying, "You've miscalculated substantially the impact of closing the psych hospital in Brockville and I, as Deputy Minister of Health, implore you to reconsider what you've done about the Brockville community and what it's going to be left with under the original plan of closing the entire Brockville site."

Can you imagine, as a citizen of Brockville or Leeds county, reading in the local Recorder and Times in Brockville that no less a person than the Deputy Minister of Health is writing to the commission saying, "I think you've made a serious mistake in this respect"? If you're a farmer up in the Athens area or a retail clerk in Brockville and you read that in the paper, what confidence does that give you about the efficacy and about the accuracy of what this commission has proposed?


In my community of Pembroke, the commission came in in December of last year and offered up a plan it said would save $14.7 million worth of costs in the hospital sector in a small county town, Pembroke. The savings, they said, would on an annual basis be in the order of $14.5 million. They came back, the commission, just three months later and said: "We were wrong. We overestimated the savings by a factor of 35%." Now they've come back again and said: "We were wrong again about the time lines. This is too short. You can't shut down the emergency department at the Pembroke Civic Hospital at the end of June. We're going to give you an extension." People are crying out about the pain that's being felt about a plan that does not appear to be very well thought out.

Can there be change? Yes. Ought there be change? Absolutely. But I'm telling this House that there is a very real credibility problem in places like Pembroke and Ottawa and Brockville with what this commission has done. The government has created in Pembroke and Cornwall a very serious issue around the governance of the remaining hospitals, inviting in my community of Pembroke a serious sectarian issue that has been widely reported, and the Minister of Health stands there like Pontius Pilate, washing his hands and saying: "I have no responsibility. Let the sectarian fires burn. I don't have anything to say."

I just have to say to this House, without prejudice to either Catholic hospitals or civic hospitals, that is not good enough. Communities like Pembroke and Cornwall deserve a clearer policy on governance than this minister and this government have provided. The tragedy is that a lot of the progress that the government has won in this respect about restructuring is seriously threatened and undermined because the government has not itself developed a policy that is fair and balanced.

In my community we have been very well served. In Pembroke over a century we have been very well served, not just by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who have run a very fine hospital -- have and still do -- at their site, the Pembroke General, but we have been very well served for a century by the people who have run the Pembroke Civic Hospital, who have been told by this government and this government's commission, "Thanks and goodbye."

The decision in Pembroke with respect to governance is unreasonable, it is unfair and it is unbalanced. It is creating no little bit of turmoil in the community, a community that is clearly ready to accept significant change in the delivery and in the organization of institutional health care services. It's bad enough that the commission has not listened to what Catholic and non-Catholic alike have said to it; but that the minister does not seem to understand that he has a responsibility in the public interest to address this is positively breathtaking.

Do I want to sit morning, noon and night? I say to the government House leader, you're bloody right I'm willing to sit here, but I want to see some clarity around these issues that -- oh yes, I have your assurance, like a good Sunday school teacher, that I will get it, but this session is a year old and I'm getting a little tired of waiting.

I hear the government House leader standing up and saying, "We've got to sit because I want to talk about our tax-cutting proposals." I want to come some night and talk about that. I think that the observations of Standard and Poor's last week or two weeks ago and of the Dominion Bond Rating Service on that subject are very timely and ought to be debated.

If I want to come here in a personal way, I could come and say what Mike Harris's tax cut is doing for me. I'm a winner. Boy, if I want to be just a selfish, greedy, self-centred yuppie, I should come here and sing a Te Deum of praise for the money you're putting in my pocket. But I am struck by what Standard and Poor's and what the Dominion Bond Rating Service have said. They have said, "We will not, two years into the mandate of this government, give an improved credit rating over that which Mr Rae had because we think this fiscal plan is inadequate in a couple of very real respects." They have said to you repeatedly that a tax cut of this magnitude while you're trying to sustain core programs like health care and education and work down the deficit is dangerous. I agree with them.

There is nobody around who is not going to want to see a tax cut, but Ontarians are prudent, sensible people. They have stated clearly and repeatedly that they want the fiscal house put in order and they want core programs, particularly health care, education, services for the elderly and children, maintained, and yes, when that is done -- it's not an easy task and I share the government's frustration with some of what they inherited. I remember a bit of that myself, going into a cabinet 12 years ago, I think it was, and inheriting a deficit line, in the good old days, of $3 billion in fiscal 1984-85. Hard to believe, I say to my friends opposite: in 1985 a fiscal plan that, when the Peterson government took office, showed an in-year deficit in the order of $3 billion.

I say to my friend the member for Chatham-Kent that it was even more remarkable when I came here in 1975, under the able stewardship of Darcy McKeough, that I saw my first provincial budget that called for a $1.8 billion deficit on about a $13-billion spending plan. That was 22 years ago. I've said ad nauseam, is there lots of blame to share for this mountain of debt and deficit? You bet. I'll accept mine, but it does not attach to one side alone.

Back to my other point: Standard and Poor's and Dominion Bond Rating Service have said your fiscal plan is seriously flawed because it does not adequately take into account the cost of your tax cut, and they point out -- I think this is especially timely in light of this past spring's provincial budget -- that they have observed the increased costs of municipal and hospital restructuring. Last year's budget, the provincial budget in Ontario in May 1996, estimated municipal and hospital restructuring to cost about $900 million. I noticed in this year's budget that that cost has risen to $2.3 billion, nearly a threefold increase. That's what Standard and Poor's is looking at and that's what the Dominion Bond Rating Service is also looking at.

Do we like a tax cut? Of course. Who is going to spit at Santa Claus? But what does prudent, commonsensical fiscal policy require?

I was struck today when I was reading the New York Times by a front page article, and a very interesting article: "Memo to Congress: Cutting Taxes a Luxury Now with Consequences Later." Tax cutting is the flavour of the month down in Washington. It is interesting to see what independent observers -- I'm just going to read one paragraph from this story in the New York Times today:

"The House ways and means committee will take the first step on Wednesday towards parcelling out tax reductions to families and investors. Many of the new tax breaks under consideration, including a lower capital gains tax rate, are being structured so that the revenue loss will be small in the next few years, but will mushroom early in the next century when some future Congress can worry about the problem."

How typical. Back to Standard and Poor's. If there's a criticism of the Peterson government, and there are many, it is an absolutely fair thing to say that we spent at a level that could only be sustained by very high levels of economic growth and activity, and I accept the blame and the shame that goes with that. I want to say to this government, which prides itself on fiscal management, how is it that you are not playing the same game that's going on in Washington today, about which today's New York Times makes proper complaint? Or, more important, how is it that Standard and Poor's is not correct when it says your fiscal plan is seriously flawed in those respects that I mentioned earlier?


I want to take a moment on another subject. I do share the enthusiasm of all members for the improved economic circumstances. I come from the Ottawa region. I am not going to be as effusive as the member for Nepean, who could hardly contain himself the other day with his joy about the Nortel announcement. There is great good feeling throughout the Ottawa region about the decision of Nortel to choose the Ottawa area for an expansion.

As members heard earlier this week, 5,000 new positions are going to be created in the next four years in the Ottawa-Carleton area, and that's great good news. They're high-tech jobs, high-skilled, high-salaried, a multiplier effect that's very considerable. The chief executive officer of Nortel, John Roth, said the other day that they chose Ottawa over other locations, including many in the United States, because in the end it was a quality-of-life issue. I hope people understand what that means. That means that many of the public investments we have made, made a difference.

Dare I say it? Is there a more lush government landscape, is there a more fertile field that has been sprinkled with more public revenues than Ottawa-Carleton, I ask my friend the judge from Rideau? Probably not. There's not a farmer in Alberta who wouldn't agree with me. Much complaint has been made about that: "Too much money spent up there in old" --

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Thank Andy Haydon.

Mr Conway: But listen, those public investments, according to Nortel, made an important, critical difference. I share the joy, because it's going to be a positive impact for many of my constituents in communities like the lower Ottawa Valley.

However, I want to make this point: I watched an interview on CBC television the other night in Ottawa with Mr Roth, the CEO of Nortel. When asked about some of his concerns about a very substantial expansion in the Ottawa area, he said very clearly that one of his concerns is the state of the college and university sector in this province.

I want to say to the government, having spent some time visiting Carleton University the other day, that Carleton is a main supplier of the engineering and science folks to Nortel, and it is a concern of the Nortel people that we are not funding our college and university sector to an adequate degree. They are increasingly worried about not only funding issues but instructional issues and other aspects.

I simply raise today that there is good news out of the Nortel announcement, but there is also some very real warning for those of us who have some responsibilities, particularly in areas like post-secondary education.

I want to make a final observation today before my friend Bradley engages the debate; I'm supposed to leave him a bit of time. The unemployment rate is coming down, and that's good news. The adjusted rate is 8.5% for last month. We all share in that good news, but 8.5% is still a very high rate of unemployment. But this is not the whole picture. Many of you, unlike myself, are parents of young adults. One of the great challenges we face today as a community is this very serious, stubborn problem of youth unemployment.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, together with the Canadian Youth Foundation, has in recent weeks tabled a report about youth unemployment in Ontario and in Canada. I want to take a few moments to address what I think is fast becoming a very serious problem that, if not addressed by the community at large, is going to undermine much of the economic recovery and, quite frankly, threatens the social stability of this province and country of ours.

The report just done by the Canadian Youth Foundation tells us that one in five jobs held by young people in Canada has disappeared in the last seven years. That's an incredible statistic. One in five jobs held by young people before the last recession has disappeared. All of those jobs have been full-time jobs.

"Youth unemployment and underemployment are the most important social issues facing Canada today," says the president of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Al Flood. His report goes on to talk about chronic unemployment rates of 17%. Quoting now from the study, "Every work-related indicator points to deteriorating and increasingly precarious employment situations for youth in the 1990s."

The jobless rate for those with only a high school education is now at 23%; for those with a high school diploma, it's 15%; and for those with a community college diploma, it's 12%. Let me repeat that. The jobless rate in Canada today for people with some high school education is 23%.

I want to say to this House, it is not good enough for those of us, particularly people in my age category who were able to grow up in a post-war Ontario, and thanks to the sacrifices our parents made and the taxes they were prepared to pay, provided for people like myself and Bud Wildman basically free college education, and at the end of it -- the member for Scarborough East looks quite --

Mr Gilchrist: In real dollars it's the same today.

Mr Conway: That is not true. That is simply not true. When I graduated from Queen's University in 1975, I'm going to tell you, the tuition in constant dollars was lower than it is today. Not only was it lower than it is today, but there were two or three jobs waiting for every one of us who graduated. For my generation to stand up today and say to 18- and 20-year-olds, "I think your tuition should be two and three times what mine was," is the absolute end of insult. That is unconscionable. I accept there is an argument that could be made, but it ought not to be made by people who are 40 and 45 and 50 in Ontario today, given what our parents did for us.

I want to make the point again, as I conclude my remarks today, that the Canadian Youth Foundation and business leaders like Al Flood are right to say that the single most serious social and economic problem facing Canada today is the ongoing scourge of youth unemployment rates that are averaging 17%, and for people with just part high school --


Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, will you please restrain the redoubtable member from Rexdale whose mutterings add nothing to a serious point that I think most members of this House would want to agree with.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Illogical, inverted logic.

The Acting Speaker: Order.

Mr Conway: There must be a tavern some place that requires a very active publican to go and do business.

I want to say in conclusion that the Canadian Youth Foundation and the president of the CIBC are right when they tell us that we all have a responsibility, not just government.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe the remarks that were made by the member impugn the motives and the character of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Gerretsen: He's right.

Mr Spina: They're all impugning the character of the member, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: I don't believe that's a point of order.

Mr Spina: A point of privilege then. You're impugning character.

The Acting Speaker: Can you stop the clock. You're not making my brief opportunity as Speaker easier.

Mr Conway: I'll make your job easy. If I've offended the member, I retract entirely, but I find it difficult to speak to a serious point when I've got that kind of intervention.

I'm trying to make, I think, an ecumenical point, particularly for those of you with kids. When I go home and talk to my friends who've got 17-, 18-, 19-year-old kids, the one overwhelming question is their employment future. When they hear from government that the only thing we have to say is, "Hike the tuition and let the private sector do the job," they don't find that a totally satisfying answer.

I agree with Mr Flood and others: The corporate and private sector has got to do more, and we've got to use the bully pulpit of government to make the private sector do more. But we have responsibilities as well in government and I don't think we've discharged those, because as I said earlier, if we want real, sustained economic growth, and maybe more importantly, if we want genuine social security for the 21st century, we had better do a better job of dealing with this current unemployment rate for young people, because 17% is going to undermine social security and seriously impair any real economic growth.


Mr Wildman: I rise to participate in this debate on behalf of our party because I want to make a number of points related to the agenda before us, the reason for the extended sittings as put forward by the government House leader, and some of the issues that I believe we as a Legislature should and must respond to.

I want to congratulate my friend from Renfrew North on the comments he just finished making. I find the reaction from the members across the aisle a little bit puzzling, because we face in Canada today, not just in Ontario, a very serious problem of youth unemployment and, even more so, of youth underemployment. Frankly, this is something that should be central to our agenda as representatives of the people of this province. Unfortunately, we have not dealt with this very much in this House and I don't see on the government's agenda, as outlined by the government House leader, much to do with this.

The fact is this: Very few young people today -- I'll use an example of one person I know quite well, a young woman who is a graduate nurse who is working at two jobs. She has two jobs. She's lucky. They are both part-time jobs, because almost no agencies today hire nurses full-time. They can only get part-time positions unless they go to Texas or some other jurisdiction like that. The reason they don't hire them full-time, apparently, is because they don't want to pay benefits. So people are underemployed. This is a serious problem. It's a problem we have to face.

If you have high unemployment figures, as referred to by the member for Renfrew North in quoting the bank president, and you have a bank president expressing concern about the possible economic and social ramifications of long-term, growing youth unemployment or underemployment, it's a problem we should turn our minds to.

To have the response across the way pooh-pooh the issue or say that somehow the member is being overdramatic I think demonstrates a real problem. Unfortunately, when one looks around this chamber, one does not see anyone -- or very few; I shouldn't say anyone -- one sees very few who represent that generation, who face very serious challenges that I did not face when I was their age.

As the member for Renfrew North said, when I graduated there were jobs all over the place. My second interview, I had my full-time position; first job, two interviews. The interview was like a travelogue. He looked at my résumé, he looked at my transcript and he spent the rest of the interview telling me what a great place Sault Ste Marie was and how I should come there to work.

Mr Spina: Yes, but you were from Echo Bay; that was a step up.

Mr Wildman: No, I was from the Ottawa area at that time. As a matter of fact, I'm very happy, obviously, that I went there. I got the job, I spent time working at that job and eventually got elected and came to this House to represent the people of the area.

The point is, young people don't face that kind of situation today. There isn't anything like that today. There are a few -- a few -- high-tech positions where graduates get picked up quickly and get positions, but in most cases young people face very serious debt loads because of student loans, debt loads that were unthinkable when I was a student. They're starting off in life as if they had a mortgage, though they don't yet own a house, and they can't get full-time jobs and they have collection agencies phoning them saying, "Make your payments on your student loan, as long as you've been six months out of school."

That's what we face, and I don't see anything on the agenda the government House leader has put before us that does one thing to address those serious problems that young people face. And it's not just a problem for young people; it's a problem for a whole generation and for our whole society, because if a generation feels shut out over a long period of time, that will produce serious social problems that will affect every one of us in our society.

I want to make a couple of comments about what the government House leader had to say. He read out a long list of bills and other motions that he felt needed to be dealt with by the end of June as a reason for extending sessional days to midnight. He mentioned the Waterloo bill. Well, let's talk about what's happened in this House today and over the last few days.

When there is good, necessary legislation put forward in a reasonable fashion by the government, this assembly has demonstrated that it can deal with it and deal with it efficiently and properly and get it through. The bill on governance of the Waterloo region was one that was supported by the local community, it was reasonable, all the members of the House, in looking at the legislation, understood that we were responding to a desire from the local community, and we were able to facilitate quick passage in this House. I would point out that that kind of quick passage and cooperation can be established because of a desire on the part of all members of the House to deal with issues that are important to the community. It doesn't require changes in the standing orders to get reasonable pieces of legislation through this House in an expeditious manner, and that has been demonstrated today and over the last number of days in this House.

The government House leader went through a long list, and I think I have the list before me. I tried to pay close attention to what he had to say. I can see that a number of the bills he has put forward can be dealt with by this House in a way that will meet the needs of the community and I think meet the desire of the government to deal with pressing matters in a way that will respond to the needs of the people of Ontario.

For instance, the government wants to have Bill 102, the Community Safety Act, passed. There are certain issues that should be addressed in dealing with that. It deals with the need to protect people and provide security, but at the same time it also deals with the rights of individuals, and those are rights that have to be dealt with and discussed so we can determine that we are dealing in a way that is fair and proper in a democratic society. It seems to us that we can deal with those matters well; we can hear from those knowledgeable experts in the field and from the public and we can get that through.

I think the government House leader mentioned Bill 108. We have an agreement, by the way, that it can be passed in one day at third reading. There is a bit of a glitch on Bill 108, because somehow it ended up in committee of the whole House for consideration. I know that the government House leader does not really want it to be at committee of the whole House because he doesn't think there are any amendments necessary and it's gone through standing committee.

We have raised a very important issue that was first addressed by my friend from Cochrane South when he pointed out that in downloading the dealing with these offences to the municipalities, the government had missed the point that the rights of francophones might not properly be protected in that situation since Bill 8, the bill that in this province protects the rights of francophones, does not apply to municipalities, despite the fact that the city of Sault Ste Marie in my own area a few years ago passed a bylaw saying they didn't want it to apply to them. It's unnecessary for that bylaw to have ever been passed because it doesn't apply to them and everyone should know it doesn't apply to them.


Because Bill 8 does not apply to municipalities, if municipalities are enforcing and carrying out provincial offences legislation, the administration of those offences, we have to ensure that in that particular case the rights of francophones are protected. There is an issue around this. In Manitoba a few years ago there was a parking ticket issued to a person who was French-speaking, and that individual objected to receiving a parking ticket that was only in English. That matter was taken to the courts and it eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court in that case, referring to the Manitoba Act, which is an act establishing the province of Manitoba, which protects the rights of francophones and is protected under the Constitution of Canada, said that no, this was not right, it was not proper.

In Ontario there is no similar act to protect the rights of francophones. There is no act in Ontario like the Manitoba Act that applies in that jurisdiction. All we have to protect the rights of francophones in this province to services in their own language is Bill 8, and Bill 8 does not apply to municipalities. It only applies to the provincial government and to provincial agencies. That's why we think an amendment should be put in committee of the whole to ensure that the rights of francophones are protected.

We've indicated to the government House leader that we don't intend to prolong debate on that. We want to put the amendment. Unfortunately, the government members in the standing committee voted against a similar amendment in committee. We hope they've had time to reconsider and that the government will say that yes, it makes sense that the rights of francophones should be protected and that we should have an amendment to the Provincial Offences Act and so we should have the amendment passed. We want to give the opportunity to the members of the Assembly from all three parties to vote in favour of such an amendment.

We would like to see the government bring forward an amendment. It doesn't have to be a long debate. It could take us at most about an hour or two, and we've indicated that we'd be quite pleased to have committee of the whole debate and third reading debate on the same day, so it wouldn't prolong the process at all. It would just ensure that a very important linguistic minority in this province has its rights protected in a country which recognizes the bilingual nature of Canada.

Bill 127, the nurse practitioners bill: This is a very good bill. This is a bill, I've already indicated to the government House leader, that we support and I think it's supported on all sides of the House. As the government House leader said, this an important bill for health care in the province, particularly in small communities in rural and northern parts of the province where we may have a shortage of health care professionals and where nurse practitioners can carry out many of the tasks that in other cases might normally be done only by physicians. This is an alternative approach to health care.

We're quite prepared to have a very short debate. This issue has been around for a long time. Consideration of the legislation has been before the House before. We don't need to have any committee; we don't need any committee on Bill 127. It's favoured by the profession. It's favoured by most of the community in Ontario. Let's proceed. Let's get it through. Let's do it quickly. There has been no stalling on this legislation at all by anyone, so let's do it.

Bill 138 is another case in point. The government stalled this; they stalled it from February on. The minister initially put in what was called Bill 125, which dealt with flying truck wheels, and he didn't tell his House leader about it. I can remember the House leaders' meeting just after the minister had announced he was going to introduce the bill. Frankly, the government House leader was taken by surprise. I said, "When are you going to deal with this bill the Minister of Transportation is bringing forward on flying truck wheels?" and the government House leader was, to say the least, a little taken aback. He didn't know.

The minister went out saying, "We're going to proceed and we want to do it in a hurry," so both opposition parties encouraged him and said: "Yes, fine. We're prepared to deal with it. This is an important problem. It's one that must be dealt with. There have been too many accidents where people have been killed or injured. We've got to deal with it." Then the government came up and said: "No, no. We need a comprehensive road safety bill." We don't disagree with that. There are a lot of issues related to road safety in the province that should be dealt with, not just the flying truck wheels.

The member for Essex-Kent, for instance, had a bill related to school bus safety. There have been a lot of issues. The member for Mississauga South and other members have raised issues about drunk driving in the province. There are lots of issues about road safety that should be dealt with. But it wasn't the opposition that in any way prevented the government from moving on this piece of legislation; it was the government itself.

The minister and others on the treasury benches have from time to time said, "There was a filibuster in this House around the governance of Metropolitan Toronto bill which prevented us from bringing forward Bill 125." What a lot of bunk. If the government had wanted to go forward on Bill 125, they just had to call it and we would have dealt with it, but instead they insisted on continuing to deal with the Metropolitan Toronto legislation. If they had wanted to do Bill 125, they could have, but they didn't, because they realized that Bill 125 itself was apparently too quickly thought out, ill thought out. It wasn't comprehensive enough; it didn't deal with the issue of road safety in a comprehensive enough way.

Now we have Bill 138 before us. It has gone to committee. We have facilitated the quick passage at second reading. There is only a short period of committee hearings and it will be back in the House by the end of the month, and we will be able to pass it. That is an indication of what we're able to do in this assembly when there is an important piece of legislation that responds to the needs of the community and there is cooperation among the parties. We do not need rule changes. We do not need changes in the standing orders to facilitate this kind of cooperation in passage of legislation that is important to the people of Ontario.

The government House leader also said he wanted to move forward on Bill 139, the Game and Fish Act changes. He wants second reading of that bill. Let's be fair on this one. The minister only introduced it at first reading a couple of days ago. It's a very extensive bill. It deals with a lot of different species and enforcement and protection. We have to caucus it. We have to determine how we're going to deal with it. I don't see that it's going to be controversial. I think most members, again, will be able to respond and accept the proposed changes as being important and useful in this province for all of us who are interested in conservation.


There is a problem, a serious problem, I believe, that isn't directly in the legislation but relates to its implementation. There are a number of changes with regard to enforcement in the legislation, and that of course requires enforcement people to implement. The Ministry of Natural Resources has been decimated with cuts. It's at a point now where there isn't enough staff for the ministry to be able to do the job. That is well known across northern Ontario. Unfortunately it's too well known. That has led to the possibility of the minority of people who do not care about conservation and want to flout our game and fish regulations to poach.

I think what this government has done to the Ministry of Natural Resources is tragic. It's terrible, what it will mean for the future of our forestry resources, our fish and wildlife in this province. The Ministry of Natural Resources is just a shell of what it used to be. The staff there are overwhelmed. There aren't enough people and they can't do the job. While we may in fact support the changes under Bill 139, the new Game and Fish Act, we are very worried about whether or not it's going to mean anything to pass good regulations if they can't be enforced because there isn't enough staff.

The government House leader also pointed to Bill 129, budget bill number one, which has not yet been called by the government for second reading for some reason. He said it needs to be passed by the summer because it has some provisions that deal with trust companies, and that if the provisions aren't passed by the end of June, these trust companies may not be able to continue operating. The bill has a number of other provisions too, of course, but if it is that important and time-sensitive, why is it that we're almost at the end of June and the government has not yet called the bill? I don't understand it. In this case, if there is a problem, the government is the author of its own misfortune. My friend from St Catharines calls the section on trust companies a "hostage" part of the bill. It's a way of getting controversial legislation through by putting one provision in it that everybody knows must be passed quickly, so we pass the bill quickly and we don't deal with the other controversial measures, such as tax cuts, at a time when the government is concerned about the deficit.

I think there are a number of bills here that can be passed quickly and dealt with -- I've pointed them out -- in a spirit of cooperation because they're important to the people of Ontario. There are others here that are somewhat controversial and will take more time.

I want to deal with one serious problem that I've seen in this place over the last few years. I want to be fair and point out that this hasn't just been a problem under this government. It's been a problem under every government I've seen over the 22 1/2 years I've had the privilege of serving the people of Algoma in this place. Governments always tend to bring in a big agenda and move very slowly in the first part of the session. Then at the end of the session they always want to have everything passed in a big rush. It doesn't seem to matter what the size of their majority is. As a matter of fact, it seems to a worse problem when it's a large majority. They can't manage the agenda of the House in a very efficient way. They always then try to blame the opposition and say, "It's the opposition's fault," no matter how small the opposition. No matter how few members there are in the opposition, the large majority says, "You know, we have all these things we have to get done and it's those members of the opposition who are holding everything up." I think this is more of a problem with this government than with other governments, but it's been a problem with all of them.

The problem I see that this government has is that they do not understand or appreciate the importance of this assembly. They seem to have the view that democracy simply works on the basis that every four years or so there's an election and the people decide who among the various parties should govern the province, and that is democracy. Then, after the election is over, the government should just be allowed to govern and get its agenda through and then four years later go back to the electorate, put its record on the line, run against the other parties and see if they can get re-elected.

That forgets the importance of the assembly. There's no question that governments are elected and are given a mandate to carry through on the commitments they've made. But the assembly is made up of representatives of all the people of the province, and it is the responsibility of those representatives to scrutinize what the government is doing and to hold the government accountable. It is a particular role of the opposition in the assembly to ensure that the government is criticized and, when bad pieces of legislation are presented, to stop them if they can and to hold them up and amend them where necessary.

The problem with this government is that they see that as a nuisance. They don't want to have the opposition hold them up or slow them down; they just want everything to go through really quickly. There's a problem with that, because sometimes the most well-intentioned pieces of legislation, if they are passed quickly, can include within them serious problems that bring about effects that nobody anticipated and nobody wants. That's why it's important for the members of the assembly to scrutinize what the government is doing, to criticize what the government is doing, to move amendments, to slow them down when they think they're wrong and to try to get them to rethink their position. That's what democracy is about.

Winston Churchill once said, "The problem with democracy is that it's very inefficient," it's very messy. But he also said, "But it's the best system there is," and he was right. Sure, it's not as efficient. In a dictatorship, the dictator says, "This is the way it's going to be," and it happens -- very efficient; you can do things very, very quickly. But we've seen the results of that kind of government too often in the world, and none of us in this assembly would desire that.

Sure, it takes longer when you have to debate and persuade. It takes longer when you actually ask the public what they think. When you inform them of what's going on, ask them their opinions, give them opportunities to come before committees, criticize and say, "This is what's good and this is what's bad," sure, that takes longer. Sometimes it's not very pleasant to hear their criticisms. Sometimes they are very vehement in their opposition to what the government believes should be done. This is not always pleasant. But it's democracy.

We can move forward with legislation that is important to the community in a spirit of goodwill and give-and-take in this assembly. But let me say clearly, if the government decides that speed and expediency are more important than ensuring proper debate, the government will rue the day and so will all the people of Ontario.


We are in a system of government that actually establishes the role of an opposition. In most parts of the world, this is considered very odd, that a government would actually allow and encourage politicians who disagree with it to participate in the process and to criticize the government on a daily basis. In many, many cultures around the world, this is unheard of. It does slow things down. It does, in some cases, make for what appears on the face of it to be inefficiencies. But in the long run we all benefit from it.

The government House leader has put forward a number of pieces of legislation that can be passed in this House and should be passed. The government House leader has also put forward a number of pieces of legislation that can and must be criticized and must be looked at very carefully, that will generate a great deal of debate both in this assembly and outside it.

There are also other matters that have to be brought before this House: concurrences, the Supply Act, the House calendar. They can be dealt with and should be dealt with. The government House leader just needs to call them, we'll debate them.

We call this place a provincial Parliament. We all know what the root of that word "Parliament" is: parler, to talk. That's what this place is about. It's not just a Legislature, coming from the Latin word for law. We pass laws here but we also talk a great deal. Some might say talk is cheap. I would say talk is very, very important in our system of democracy. Debate is what this place is for. It is one of the great strengths of our system of government.

We've demonstrated today that when the government has measures that it wants to bring forward that are important to the province, they can be debated and can be dealt with in an efficient, expeditious manner. When the government brings forward controversial pieces of legislation, then the government must be prepared to debate them, and to persuade, and to inform, and to listen to what the opposition has to say and what the people have to say.

If this government is not prepared to do that and is determined to facilitate changes that will make it very difficult for the opposition to carry out its responsibilities under our parliamentary system, that will make it easy for the government to ram through pieces of legislation that are controversial without real debate, without real input from the public, and without having to listen to criticism and respond to it, then this government is going to have a real fight on its hands, not just in the assembly, but I think outside this place as well.

I've spent a lot of years here; I hope to spend a lot more, representing the people of my area. I've seen governments get frustrated and exasperated, governments of all stripes. But don't act in a rash manner that will change the process in a way that will harm the very system of government that we all hold dear. There are some quirky things about this place, but overall the system works. It works for the people of the province. I'm pleased to have been a part of that and to continue to be a part of it.

If the government would respond in the way it did to Waterloo's request for change in every instance, the government wouldn't have much difficulty getting legislation through this place. Frankly, the Waterloo bill could have passed long before this except the government didn't call it. We indicated as soon as it came forward that we'd pass it in one day.

Whatever the reasons for delay, be careful in any changes you propose.

Mr Gilchrist: It's indeed my pleasure to add a few comments to the debate here today on this important government motion, a motion which, to those who were listening much earlier this afternoon when the House leader outlined the intent, allows us the opportunity to in effect double the amount of time we spend in this chamber to debate the important issues that my colleague opposite just a moment ago expressed his interest in being involved in in a constructive way, and ensuring that the important problems we all face -- and I'm sure the member opposite would agree with me in this statement, that there are problems in this province and that it's important for us to tackle those sooner rather than later.

We were elected with a mandate to do certain things. I believe a case can be made that we have honoured those commitments. The fact is, though, that time and the tides do not stand still. There have been new problems that have come to light, and clearly there are new legislative initiatives that are always required.

We have on the order paper right now 12 bills that have proceeded and are ready for third reading. We have another something like 79 bills ready to go for second reading. We have a number of other government bills that have been introduced and have not yet been debated in this House. Clearly there is a need for us to be processing these pieces of legislation in a timely fashion. I'm sure if the members' cooperation extends through these next two weeks, we'll see the ability to waive the normal rules that you can only process one bill each day and hopefully we'll be able to tackle things such as the red tape bills.

Those red tape bills alone, the first eight we introduced, seek to eliminate 1,500 fees and regulations. As the House leader alluded, some of these date back over 75 years. Talk about anachronistic, talk about redundant and out of date. The fact of the matter is, as part of our commitment to freeing the province, its taxpayers and its businesses, from the bureaucratic shackles that restrained business in this economy from 1985 till 1995, it's clearly incumbent upon us to have done the review we have done and now to proceed to the final step, which will be the elimination of these onerous and unnecessary regulations.

My colleague from Algoma mentioned a case in point, the changes we've brought to the Ministry of Natural Resources. It's true that ministry has seen a reduction in its workload. What may not be readily apparent to people who don't have a day-to-day involvement with that ministry is that as part of our business review we identified that 40,000 of the 45,000 permits MNR issues every year are absolutely superfluous. They're redundant, they're an absolute waste of time for both the clerk who processes them and the person coming to make an application.

I'll give you a case in point. Historically, if you owned a cottage on crown land, every year when you wanted to put your dock in in the spring you had to come to us to get a permit, and you'd pay your fee. We always approved it. Everybody got their permit. The fee that was charged didn't come close to the cost to the government of processing that application. In the first place, there's no sense having a licence if everybody gets it. Secondly, it makes no sense to the already overburdened taxpayers in this province to be losing money in the guise of non-regulation. As part of that review, clearly by identifying this sort of unnecessary paperwork, the reality is that the MNR could reduce its staff.

But it's also interesting to note -- and I see just in the clipping service today -- that the MNR has to augment the existing firefighting crews. Over and above the 77 firefighting crews that already existed in the north, we have now gone to the private sector for backup firefighters and we have identified another 120 auxiliary firefighters who are available -- they are on call at a moment's notice all throughout the north -- to guarantee a timely and yet cost-effective ability to respond to fires.


I'm sure the members opposite would agree with us that to have staff in any ministry sitting around with nothing to do is not in the best interests of the taxpayers, and in the case of something like fires, where obviously no one in this province wants to see them occur, and when they do occur we want to see them put out as fast as possible, it is appropriate for us to have a rapid response capability.

We think maintaining the existing 77 crews demonstrates that we aren't in any way undermining our commitment to fire safety in the north, but now we've gone one step better, and no one on the other side asked us to do this. It's in recognition of the fact that over and above whatever ability we have had to service the fires in the north, we need to go one better, and we have done that with 120 more firefighters, just one minor step in one ministry but part of a far broader agenda.

Members opposite realize, while much has been said by our colleague from Renfrew-Thesaurus earlier this afternoon, that there are still challenges in areas such as youth unemployment. The reality is that there too there is an opportunity for the members opposite to join with us in furthering our proposals for greater training, for greater skills development, for a greater ability for the universities and colleges and high schools to identify the areas of opportunity for youth, not after they have graduated, not for some remedial course, not a second or third degree because the first time they didn't hit the nail on the head. We all, the government and the schools and the parents and the students, share a responsibility to do the research and determine what the jobs are, not just today, but five, 10, 20, 50 years out.

It was somewhat ironic. The member indicated that he graduated from my alma mater one year after I did, and he had a job. He had a choice of jobs in fact when he graduated. That was certainly indicative of the times in the early 1970s. Just last week I received a letter from the principal of the same university, and the principal of Queen's indicated that 91% of the graduating class of the first MBA program to go through the new regime had a job before they graduated, and at salaries ranging from $60,000 to $120,000 a year.

For a 25- or 26-year-old graduating with their master's degree, that's not a bad starting salary. I don't think anyone in this House, in this province would suggest that, even at the low end of that scale, those individuals have not set themselves up, thanks to the education system in the province of Ontario, for a tremendous future. We, in turn, will benefit from the skills they acquire, will benefit from their ability to contribute to the growth and development in this province.

It's certainly important to recognize that we have a long way to go, but in the very statistics the member opposite quoted, those who only have some high school -- not those who graduated from high school, some who only had a year or two of high school -- there's 23% unemployment, but for those who had even gone through community colleges, it's closer to 12%. Again, where is the responsibility for the students and the parents and yes, the government to ensure that facility is there, the dollars are there to make sure every student in Ontario has an opportunity to get that college education, because as we all know, in an increasingly technologically driven world, there are no $60,000-a-year hamburger-flipping jobs. Those jobs and that paycheque will be found in tool and die mechanic jobs and by those who become class A mechanics.

Mr Bradley: At Canadian Tire?

Mr Gilchrist: Yes, at Canadian Tire or at any other equally fine facility across the province. The reality is that there is great honour in doing those jobs, no less so than becoming an engineer, an MD or a dentist. It's incumbent upon all of us to break that stigma, to encourage people to go out and seek jobs where Ontario has a crying demand today. Just last Friday, Nortel in Ottawa indicated that they were going to be hiring 5,000 more people -- one announcement, one company, 5,000 more employees. You can rest assured these are not going to be minimum wage jobs. You can rest assured they will not be looking for people who only have grade 9 or 10. You can rest assured they probably will have trouble finding enough graduates to meet the demands of such a high-tech industry as they have.

The same is true here in Toronto, where any number of pharmaceutical companies are undergoing expansions. One in particular that I happened to visit a couple of weeks ago tells me they have an immediate demand for 600 employees, but these are bachelor of science, master of science and PhD in pharmacology. Quite frankly, there aren't enough graduates.

Small wonder we have constrained the growth in this province for the last number of years when we couldn't even meet the demand that did come to our shores, and that was in the context of an overtaxed, overregulated, governmentally depressed environment. Those who fought their way through that morass, who fought their way through that swamp, still faced the challenge of not being able to find enough qualified individuals to fill their workforce. We all share the responsibility of making sure that is a thing of the past.

One of the members opposite commented about the challenges in areas such as health care. There's another opportunity for us to employ higher-tech approaches to the practice of medicine. Our government has bought I believe 23 magnetic resonance imaging machines so far. These $5-million diagnostic machines all require a far higher degree of skill among those who are operating them. The bottom line is that we have to make sure that as these new tools are available to us we have the people trained to operate them in order to exploit their full potential and to make sure the patients in Ontario have access to a health care system that is second to none.

As the members opposite know full well, we were elected with a commitment to spend $17.4 billion on health. I'm very proud that two budgets later, with two successive increases in their budget, we are now spending $18.5 billion in health, a far cry from a certain other party which committed to spending $17 billion. The bottom line is I haven't heard them identify in the debate today or previously what part of health care they would cut by $1.5 billion to meet their promise to the taxpayers.

We have the opportunity in these next two weeks to debate these important issues and many more. Earlier today we had a bill -- and I expressed my gratitude to the members opposite for their assistance in ensuring that the city of Waterloo bill passed quickly. That downsized their council by four members, increased the access to the electors, created a direct democracy with the ability to elect directly a chairperson. I'm grateful that they assisted in that restructuring proposal.

As the Speaker is probably aware, that's I believe the 69th proposal that has gone through successfully, that has resulted in close to 140 municipalities voluntarily being reduced, downsizing the number of politicians by almost 600. In fact, by the time all the proposals are processed we expect almost 1,000 fewer municipal politicians.

Clearly the case can be made that we can do better with less. We are doing it here at Queen's Park, all the members. All the members' budgets were trimmed in the first year. Our spending by party, our spending by member, our spending in the whole Legislature was trimmed dramatically, far more than we've asked any municipality to reduce their own budget. It's important that we recognize, as we recognize the fact that the taxpayers only have one pocket from whence tax dollars flow, that the municipalities have a role to play in the belt-tightening we have to do in this very short time period before we reach the balanced budget to which we committed, before we reach the point at which we can reappraise all the issues before us and we can make sure --

Mr Gerretsen: Yes, and increase the debt by another $20 billion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Richard Patten): The member for Kingston and The Islands, order, please.

Mr Gilchrist: -- most important, that we can make a dent in the debt that has built up in the last decade in particular, that we can downsize that burden that right now is costing the taxpayers of Ontario more money to service than what is spent on education. It's costing one half of what is spent on health care. I think it's obvious to every Ontarian the opportunities that would exist if we had those dollars to spend on real programs, not on debt service for past excesses.


Clearly we've had some important initiatives come through this session. It has already been a record-setting spring in terms of the number of days we've sat. It is certainly record-setting in the number of hours we've sat, thanks to our 24-hour-a-day session a little earlier. This motion allows us the opportunity to cap off that productive spring session with double sitting days, in effect, for the next two weeks.

We have a number of other bills before us. We still have a number of challenges. It's very important that we tackle some of these private members' bills. Yes, I'm very pleased to say that I have two private member's bills, but there are also bills from members opposite in the Liberal Party and the NDP that I personally have no problem supporting. I'm as frustrated as they are that we have not had the opportunity.

As the House leaders for the other two parties know full well, they are as much in control of the agenda in this House as our House leader and they know the number of days they can commit to a specific piece of legislation. It will take their cooperation to ensure that the bills from all sides of this House -- and I would expect it to be from all sides of this House. It is up to them to ensure that in these next two weeks we have the ability to make sure the bills that were prepared by their members, in their fervent belief that they have something to contribute to the improvement of Ontario, that they have something to contribute to rectifying the problems we all inherited on June 8, 1995 -- I call upon them to assist our House leader in making sure we put together an agenda over the next two weeks that deals with as many of these bills as possible.

The bottom line, and I'm sure this is a goal shared by all of our colleagues opposite as well as all of my colleagues on this side of the House, is that it is incumbent upon all of us to work tirelessly, even if it means until midnight, to make sure that Ontario has every opportunity, that we have all the tools at our disposal to once again guarantee that Ontario takes its rightful place as the engine pulling the rest of Confederation.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, and I add my support for this motion today.

Mr Bradley: I'm happy to support the motion. We indicated earlier we would be supporting this motion, which we believe is necessary at this time of year, just as it's necessary close to Christmas, to clear up the agenda of the government where there is some agreement that bills shall pass. Some of the bills are bills with which we in the opposition will vehemently disagree, but there has been considerable debate on some of that legislation and we're at third reading on some of it. It seems reasonable to me that having debated it, having placed the case before the public, now the time will be coming for voting on some of this legislation. We're delighted to have the House sit for extended hours so we're able to do so.

This is the way the House has worked amicably before. The House leaders sit down from time to time to discuss the agenda. We often wonder why the government doesn't bring certain legislation forward. I'm sure some of my friends in the government caucus wonder why certain bills are brought forward and other bills aren't brought forward at certain times, because we think some of those bills could pass rather quickly.

When I suggested this afternoon, along with Bud Wildman, the member for Algoma and the House leader for the NDP, that we deal with both this motion and the Waterloo bill this afternoon, there was a little bit of surprise, but it seemed sensible to do that. There's complete agreement on that bill, so why would you hold it up? The government wasn't going to call it, but we said: "Call it. Let's deal with that kind of legislation where all of us agree." There was a relatively short debate and we dealt with it rather expeditiously because there was a consensus and agreement. We have no suggestion that would not be productive in this regard. All of our suggestions are quite productive.

Because we're allowed to do so in a wide-ranging debate, with the indulgence of the House, I simply want to extend a little more of my comments on the passing of our former mayor, Joe McCaffrey, in St Catharines. I had an opportunity this afternoon during statements to pay tribute to Mr McCaffrey.

Many of you may have met him somewhere along the way. He was a genuine character, a very much beloved individual in St Catharines, a real Irishman who wore green all the time. He had a green tie, green suits and green everything from time to time. He even had the chain of office of the mayor of St Catharines changed from a dark red to green to reflect his Irish ancestry.

Joe McCaffery passed away today after a lengthy battle with cancer, but had made an outstanding contribution to St Catharines in many ways.

I know some of the ministers along the way, or opposition members they might have been at that time, would have met Joe and seen his unbridled enthusiasm for St Catharines. He would get up at the beginning of a speech, when he was bringing greetings, and list what St Catharines was the capital of. He would start off by saying it was the rowing capital of the world, and he'd say it's the recycling capital of the universe and the garden city of Canada. He had a number of promotional comments he would make about the city of St Catharines.

He was kind enough, in the last provincial election, though I think people of all political parties --

The Acting Speaker: Member for St Catharines, we'd be happy to send your remarks related to the mayor to the family. But might I ask you if you'd address the issue at hand. It's the motion put forward by the government House leader.

Mr Bradley: I know that Mayor McCaffery would want me, were he with us today, to say that this is a reasonable motion. He would want me to say as well that he was a very grass-roots politician, so he would understand this very well. He was a person, and this is something we all admire in political representatives, who never forgot the people who put him there, never wanted to run with what you would call the in crowd or the rich and the wonderful, whatever that crowd happens to be -- the "jet set" is I guess the term we'd use. He was a very down-to-earth person, just as we need in this assembly from time to time: someone who could break the ice, someone who could inject humour just at the right time. That was our Mayor Joe McCaffery.

Mr Speaker, I know you and all the members of the House would want, as an extended family, to extend to his wife and his immediate family and to all his friends and to the people of St Catharines our greatest sympathy, our heartfelt sympathy. We will certainly miss Joe McCaffery, but none of us in the city of St Catharines and nobody who ever met him will ever forget Joe McCaffery.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? I believe that by mutual consent we put the question today.

The government House leader has moved government notice of motion number 23. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

It being 6 of the clock, the House will adjourn until tomorrow morning at 10 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1758.