36th Parliament, 1st Session

L207b - Wed 18 Jun 1997 / Mer 18 Jun 1997



Report continued from volume A.



Continuation of debate on the motion for concurrence in supply.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the concurrences of a variety of ministries. The agreement has been between the parties that we'll be able to look at all the ministries at once, which I think makes sense for all the members. I'll be dealing specifically with education, health, agriculture, transportation, natural resources. Those will be the ones which I will isolate, as well as dealing with some peripheral matters related to the concurrences.

I want to say, first of all, that because of the rules we have in the Legislature at the present time, we are able to deal with concurrences for an allocation of six hours. What this allows for each of the members is an opportunity to look at each of the ministries here and raise issues that we normally cannot raise during question period, or it's more difficult to do so in statements.

My friend from St Catharines-Brock and I have been meeting with people in transportation who work in the transportation building in St Catharines, the headquarters, to discuss with them their legitimate concerns that, having made the decision to move to St Catharines or nearby to St Catharines in terms of their employment positions and having in some cases inconvenienced themselves or made decisions which have had great ramifications on their own families, they now find they are perhaps not going to be able to retain those jobs.

They are justifiably concerned that the government may be privatizing too much of the Ministry of Transportation. This isn't to say that the government cannot look at all avenues of action but they are concerned that in their particular instance, having made a commitment to move to the headquarters at St Catharines, their jobs might disappear.

There are even people who believe -- I'm not so pessimistic in this regard -- that building will close as far as being a transportation building is concerned some day. Indeed if we see a continued diminishing of the number of people employed by the Ministry of Transportation, that might well happen. That's why the member for St Catharines-Brock and I directed a letter to the Minister of Transportation conveying that particular view, that these people had made a considerable sacrifice, had made a major decision to move to St Catharines, and for their sake and, as important to us as a community, for the sake our community, we hoped those jobs would be retained in St Catharines, because one of the factors in helping to renew our downtown area in St Catharines has been the location of the Ministry of Transportation building there and the financial spinoffs that are part of it.

That's what concurrence is, what this kind of debate which is provided for, I note, in the present rules that we are governed by allows us to do. In the rule changes, that would not be the case. There would be a further restriction on the time to canvass these important issues.

Another I have is in the Ministry of Transportation, which is something that I didn't know. During the folk arts festival, I encountered an employee of the Ministry of Transportation who told me that when we're talking about all of the truck safety matters, although the police can access the information when they get licence numbers on bad truckers from the United States, although the police can access who those people are in an attempt to lay charges or to communicate with them, the Ministry of Transportation employees who are doing inspections don't have the same right. I hope that when the bill comes forward for final consideration after it's been through committee, that provision has been put in, because that would be very helpful for our people who now have to simply allow those people to get away with some of their violations once they've left the province.

Those are two matters, as I say, that we can raise in concurrences.

I want to deal as well with health, which is a very important area of interest to people in my area of the province, which is the Niagara Peninsula. They are particularly concerned with the potential closing of hospitals. I think of the Port Colborne Hospital, which people in the area are very concerned about and have come out in great numbers to express that concern. I think of West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Fort Erie, I think of the Niagara-on-the-Lake hospital, I think of the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby and the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines.

The reason I mention each of those hospitals is that under a report from the local commission on restructuring of hospitals, a committee which was established by the Niagara District Health Council, each one of those has been targeted to close as an active treatment hospital.

I have heard Dr David Foot of the University of Toronto, who deals in demographics and is a statistician as well, speak at Brock University. One night, by the way, they had a sellout of business people in the community, a total sellout of the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre when he spoke. One of the items he emphasized, and he emphasizes this in his book Boom, Bust and Echo, is that where you have a large portion of elderly people -- and we in the Niagara Peninsula have per capita the largest number of people over the age of 55 of any community that size in Canada -- you should be not closing hospitals. You should be very cautious about moving rapidly to close hospitals.

If I may tie into this, which I'm going to try to do throughout my address this afternoon, why the rule changes make a difference, it is because we wouldn't have the same opportunity to deal with these matters if we have less time for the government to push through its legislation.

We will all remember Bill 26. Bill 26 was that famous omnibus -- some people call it ominous -- massive budget bill which gave unprecedented and huge powers to unelected people who advise the government, the political advisers, to the senior civil service and to a narrow number of senior cabinet ministers at the expense of other elected members of this assembly. You will recall that that bill established the hospital restructuring commission of Ontario or, as I call it, the hospital closing commission, because that's essentially what it is doing: closing hospitals.

So each of the members here who would like to perhaps debate in the Legislature a bill to deal with the future of hospitals -- we would all like to be able to debate that in the House. I would like to be able to and I'm sure my colleagues from the Niagara region would like to get up and speak about the potential closing of hospitals, that something would have to be included in a bill that would pass the Legislature. But we won't have that power because the hospital restructuring commission of Ontario will look at the local report that's produced, will produce its own report, and we could see at least five, and perhaps more, active treatment hospitals closed in the Niagara area despite the fact, in the information that I have seen, that we will need all of those hospitals and the beds included in those hospitals and the special services provided.

At Hotel Dieu in St Catharines we have the oncology unit which deals with cancer patients. We have as well the renal dialysis, kidney dialysis, unit which has far more people who would like to get into it than there's really capacity for, so at this time at least some have to go to Stoney Creek. We hope that can be rectified. It has an excellent palliative care unit. It has a unit and a program that deals with children with special needs, autistic children. It has a diabetes centre adjacent to it. So you can see that this hospital plays an important role for everybody in the Niagara region, and yet that hospital, according to the report put forward, is destined to close.

I would like to see us have rules in this House which allow us to debate these matters. When I see the government wanting to change the rules to restrict debate, I see that these kinds of moves will move through more quickly. They should at the very least have a proper debate.

I believe that none of those hospitals should close. Should there be some changes in them? Perhaps, and the local people in those hospitals might tell you what they should be. But should they be closed, should they be substantially scaled down? My answer to that is no. What is lacking now is the appropriate funding in those hospitals. Ask anybody who's been in a hospital or had a family member or friend in the hospital 10 years ago and then today, "Is the service the same?" It is not. It is far less in the way of service, not because the people who work in the hospitals want to provide less service; there are simply fewer nurses, fewer orderlies, fewer support staff available to deal with the needs of the hospital. As a result, they tell me now if you go into the hospital, you better have a good friend or a member of the family there to stay with you to look after you because there isn't the staff available.

I happen to think there is a need, as I know my friend from Grey-Owen Sound would, for those nurses and for the other staff members. I believe the people in my part of the province are prepared to invest their tax dollars in that kind of health care, in quality health care. If you ask them, "Would you rather have the tax cut or would you rather have your hospitals appropriately funded?" they'll say, "Gee, I would like a tax cut, but if I had to make the choice, I would prefer to have good hospital care." That's what I'm getting from most people -- not everyone, but most people.

I hope our government in Ontario will look carefully and assess what it is doing to hospitals in our province and that it will provide the appropriate funding for health care.

There are many health care issues. There's a mental health care issue out there which is exceedingly important. Many of the people you see wandering the streets of Toronto and other communities today are former psychiatric patients. In some cases, unfortunately, they are not being welcomed back at their homes because the people at home do not feel they can cope with their special needs. In some cases, they have absolutely nowhere to go and so they are left wandering the streets. Surely we have an obligation to these people. They have a disease. It is not as though they want to be that way. They have an affliction or a disease. I think we have to meet those needs, and I hope the Ministry of Health will do so.

I look at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as a ministry that's under consideration today. I want to say that I think agriculture is a very important industry. The member for Huron last Thursday morning, I believe it was, brought forward a resolution in this House dealing with her concerns -- very legitimate -- about agriculture in this province and the need for an emphasis on agriculture by government and by the private sector. Many people who are from the farm communities point out appropriately that they provide thousands upon thousands of jobs and generate economic benefit for this province far beyond that for which they are given credit. It is because they are spread across the province that we tend to look at it with less importance than if it were concentrated in one area. I hope we are going to be out there to preserve the agricultural land that we have today.


In the Niagara Peninsula, there are a number of people proposing new developments that would eat up that valuable agricultural land. It's valuable for two reasons: one, because of the fairly unique soil conditions which exist and, second and just as important, the fairly unique climatic conditions which exist. For instance, between the top of the escarpment and the bottom of the escarpment, on average, there are 27 more growing days for food. That is why we are able to grow tender fruit in the Niagara Peninsula.

Members are aware that some of our wines which come from grapes in our area have been winning international awards. This very week there was an announcement out that in France, at one of the major ceremonies, one of the major wine-tasting events, Ontario wines were successful in winning some significant awards. That emphasizes the importance of that agricultural land.

I hope that local municipalities and the provincial government are both wise enough to preserve that land and not turn it over for a quick buck for developments that sound good but aren't always good in the long run, because I think that agricultural land can continue to produce jobs and economic activity for many, many years, which is of benefit to everybody in this province and allows us to meet our own needs in terms of the production of food.

I know that sometimes certain developers try to bypass local municipal councils and go directly to the provincial government to get permission to develop land. There is plenty of land in the province which is not of agricultural benefit and is available for development. I hope this government does not turn the keys over to the major developers who want to take good agricultural land and convert it to other purposes.

We have to, of course, support our farming community. You can't simply say to the farmers, "We want you to stay on the land, but we're not prepared to give you any kind of support," which is why I am prepared to see our government look at programs which can be of support to farmers in all parts of the province.

I look as well at natural resources and note that we have now seen some appointments to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and I see the hand of Bill Murdoch in some of these appointments. My friend Mr Murdoch is a person who has been long known for his views on the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Niagara Escarpment plan. I see a Mr Norman Seabrook, who has been appointed by the new guardian of the Niagara Escarpment, the Minister of Natural Resources. I can't help but believe that somehow Bill Murdoch, my friend from Grey-Owen Sound, had something to do with this appointment. Mr Seabrook, I understand, could not be defined as a preservationist when it comes to the lands of the Niagara Escarpment, nor would he be classified as a fan of the Niagara Escarpment Commission. So I want to say that my worst fears have been realized, that we are now having on the commission individuals whose first desire is not to protect the Niagara Escarpment plan and the Niagara Escarpment lands.

My friend from Grey-Owen Sound smiles widely as I say that in the House this afternoon and no doubt will utilize this Hansard to his benefit, but I want to say that it causes great angst in our part of the province. I believe the people who should have been appointed to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, and would have been if Norm Sterling, the Minister of Environment and Energy, were in charge of it, are people who are going to protect the escarpment lands. Instead, we have turned it over to the Minister of Natural Resources, and that is of great concern.

I have a note coming in which may be of some importance. I cannot read this note. It has come from the other side, and it is of great significance. You know how when the Premier doesn't have an answer, one of the whiz kids sends a note in? This isn't from one of the whiz kids, I can tell you that. It's actually from my good friend the Solicitor General, who is in the House today. Unfortunately, I'm not able to speak on any areas of his jurisdiction, because I would be varying from the rules of the House and I certainly wouldn't want to do that.

The Minister of Education I notice is here as well. I am very concerned that school secretaries, caretakers, educational assistants and other non-instructional employees are going to have their jobs in jeopardy as there is a race to save money locally by privatizing and outsourcing these jobs. Anyone who is at all familiar with the education system knows that the school secretary, the head caretaker, the educational assistants, technicians and others are all part of the team, are all part of a group that is trying to deliver education services. I know the member for Burlington South, who is in the House and was a very credible education critic when he was in opposition, in his heart of hearts would probably agree with me because he would understand this, but I won't give him any angst about this by quoting him from the past and so on.

I see many members in the House. I don't think I need a quorum call, because my mind sees many members out there. I see a note that asks, do I want a quorum call? I know that those who are not in the House now are watching carefully on their monitors in their offices.

Interjection: They're at the trough, Jim.

Mr Bradley: I'm told they're at the trough, but I can't believe that could possibly be the case.

So I worry about that. I worry about how quickly the new curriculum is going to be implemented. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a new curriculum. I think teachers, parents and others who are involved will say there is a need for a new curriculum; at least we always want to be looking at updating it. But to say that you're going to implement it in the fall, announcing it in late June, will not make for good implementation.

My complaint about this government, if it's a general one, is that it moves too rapidly and too recklessly and too drastically and doesn't take into account the ramifications of its actions.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): And those are the nice things you're saying.

Mr Bradley: And those are the nice things I'm saying, as the member for Burlington South says.

Even when I disagree, I think if you're going to do it, you should take your time and do it right. You have a five-year mandate to do it. There is lots of time left. You are only just past your second year of the mandate. Take your time and do it right instead of doing it quickly.

That's why we in the opposition are very concerned about the rules of the House, because we think that the rules as proposed by the government, by the Premier and his staff, will allow the government to move far more rapidly than previously and will not allow for the appropriate amount of consideration of all the policies and programs and legislation that come before this House. If you take your time and do it right, if you give the people their day in court, if you consult widely and then you implement a bill, you will find it's a much better bill and a much better piece of legislation than it would have been had you decided that somehow you must rush something through. That's what I say about the curriculum.

I see now that the College of Teachers is being filled with a number of people. Some of them appear to be people who have nothing to do with education but have been prominent in Conservative circles over the years. That's one commission on which I think you should put people who are knowledgeable about education rather than someone else. There are some boards or commissions where you don't need a specific knowledge of that area, just general good common sense, I guess you would say, but I suggest to you that the commission I am making reference to, the College of Teachers, should have people who are knowledgeable in that field and not simply those who have done favours for the Conservative Party over the years.


We have a new piece of legislation, Bill 136, which has not been called by the government for consideration on second reading. I understand that will probably be in the August session. That again is one that starts to abrogate the rights of individuals in terms of their ability to deal in collective bargaining. The best kinds of agreements are reached in what I call free and unfettered collective bargaining, where both sides sit down at the table, there's some give and take, there's a realistic look at the circumstances out there and an agreement is reached. The atmosphere of the employees related to their employers is far better when that happens. But this government has put before this House a bill that I know school secretaries, caretakers, non-instructional assistants, people in the police forces, fire departments and civic employees are all going to be concerned about and should be concerned about.

I want to say as well that when we're dealing with matters of this kind, it's interesting to note how people react to them. The government now has a number of dissidents within its caucus. I refer to the person I referred to previously, Bill Murdoch, who has from time to time expressed openly his concern about the direction in which the government is moving. Gary Carr, the member for Oakville South, is another, and Toni Skarica, the member for Wentworth North. Morley Kells has written some interesting pieces in the Toronto Star. There will be others perhaps behind closed doors who are expressing their concerns. I encourage them to do so, not simply because it's in the interests of the opposition -- that's a factor, without a doubt -- but because I think it's in the interests of good government to have people from all sides challenging those who are in authority, those who have the power.

I lament, as I have on many occasions, what is happening with governments around the world, and certainly this government fits that description. They are concentrating more power in the hands of unelected advisers to the Premier than in the members of the legislative body, a body which is elected and therefore can be fired by the people of this province if it is not doing the appropriate job. When I look at the rule changes that are proposed, I see a significant diminishing of the role of this Legislature. It will be more efficient, without a doubt, it will work more like a business, no doubt, but it will not provide as good government.

There is a difference between business and government, and there should be. I don't expect, Mr Speaker, as you wouldn't, the business person to run her or his business the same way we run a legislative body, because decisions are required more rapidly in business, because it does things in a different way, because it is private money which is involved.

In the legislative body, we are governing for all the people of this province. That's why it's important that we not relegate question period, for instance, way into the afternoon. On some days it might not even exist. If there were enough matters that took place before the seventh spot, which is question period, we could not have a question period at all, because at 4 o'clock the government will start its business, no matter what. That's another new rule that would be there.

All of us who want to put questions on the order paper -- and that's something each one of us can do, to put a question on the order paper to get some information that maybe a minister hasn't been forthcoming with, maybe some information that's useful to our riding or our area of interest. That's going to be severely restricted under these new rules, and the time for reply is severely restricted. So the general direction in which these rules are moving is to allow the government to move far more rapidly, far more drastically and without as much scrutiny as we would like to see.

That is why this afternoon in this assembly you saw the official opposition take matters into its hands, I think in a very orderly fashion, by bringing the rules of the House across to the Premier of this province, to say: "Mr Premier, these rules are in your hands. If you change them in the way you are suggesting, if you change them in the way the motion you have before this Legislature states, then virtually all power will reside in the Premier and those who advise him." That's why, symbolically, we walked one by one as the Liberal caucus across the floor and placed those rules there and proceeded out the door for the remainder of question period. Why question period? Why not another time? Well, question period is one of the areas most adversely impacted.

This is not action you take lightly. This is extraordinary action. It was not riotous, it was not rambunctious, but it was extraordinary. The reason we took that action was to focus attention on the issue. It was interesting that previously the leader of the NDP, the leader of the Liberal Party and others, myself included, had asked questions about rule changes in this House. There was virtually no coverage of that in the popular news media. When we had a special occasion in this House, an extraordinary action on the part of the official opposition, then there was plenty of media attention outside. It's a dry subject by its very nature and people out there don't think they are directly affected, but anyone who could be impacted by any legislation in this province should know that the rules under which we work are the most important thing they have to protect them, the most important bulwark against a government moving far too quickly and far too drastically.

A government that is elected, particularly one which has an overwhelming majority, such as the present administration, ultimately has the right to pass that legislation. That's not something with which I would quarrel, because that is the decision of the electorate. But I think the electorate also wants members of this assembly to ensure that there is due consideration of those bills, of that legislation, of those policies. The only way that can be done is to slow the government down and, on rare occasions, perhaps for a very short period of time, to bring the government to a stop, so it can reconsider, so it can do things right instead of doing things quickly, and I think we provide a service to the people of this province when we do so.

I know I have about 58 seconds left at this time and I want to say as I wind down that another area I hope the government will consider more carefully is that of casino gambling and video lottery terminals. I noticed today the government was talking about some kind of referendum across the province before we see more casinos. I'm going to tell you, the charity casinos, although they help charities from time to time, have a lot of detrimental parts to them and many communities have said, "Please don't put them in our community." I know there are some members of the government caucus and certainly the opposition who are very concerned about the placement of electronic slot machines, video lottery terminals, in bars and restaurants across this province.

I welcome the opportunity to canvass some of these issues. Under the present rules, I'm able to do so. Under the new rules, we would be restricted from doing what we have been doing this afternoon.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Further debate?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I appreciate the opportunity to put a few thoughts on the record here this afternoon on this occasion as we debate major changes to the way we operate in this province and to some of the traditions that we've held near and dear to the good functioning of a jurisdiction such as the province of Ontario in a country so modern and civilized as Canada.

This afternoon we're discussing the issue of supply, which gives members a chance to wheel a bit on a number of ministries and a number of issues. I will pick but a couple to talk about and expand some thought on here this evening so that folks out there might know of my position on various issues that confront us as a government in this the 20th century, as we head towards the millennium and as we struggle to make sense out of an economy that is changing faster than some of us can think sometimes, in a world that grows smaller by the day because of the new technologies we have at our disposal, because of the new ways we have of communicating and travelling, not at all like the world that some of us inherited and most of our parents inherited.

Today I want to express my disappointment, my dismay, my general lack of enthusiasm for some of what this government is doing in the name of governing in this province. I want to say, as my leader has said so often on the issue of democracy, this government feels very simply that when an election happens and the people of a jurisdiction go to the polls and one party wins, that's it; the party that wins has a free rein to do whatever it wants for the four or five years of its term.


We are seeing an example of that in Ontario today, where this government, led by Premier Mike Harris, being elected to take the reins of power in Ontario in 1995, decided that it was going to implement its agenda, its Common Sense Revolution, its right-wing foray into the common good of this province come hell or high water, regardless of the opposition or anybody else who might have a good idea. To that end, nothing is beyond sacrifice. Democracy for a government of that ilk begins and ends on election day. In between, it's just a question of how much you can get for yourself, how much power you can take to yourself, how much change you can make to the ideological bent of your particular group of followers, and no thought at all for the carnage that creates.

I want to talk for a few minutes at the outset about the ministry I am a critic for -- that's the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism -- and the lack of real attention the present minister is paying to that very important piece of work that must go on, that government has a tremendous responsibility to take some leadership on in this province and the very cold, calculated reliance that simply the marketplace will take care of business, that we will buy into what's happening out there by way of the global economy, that we will buy into what's happening out there by way of what money can make happen and not pay any attention at all to the question of how that plays out in the lives of the ordinary citizen, how that lends itself to viable and vital and alive communities of people looking after each other, making sure we all have the wherewithal to live fruitful and productive lives, making sure there is available to every citizen in a jurisdiction that's governed the wherewithal to get an education, to make a living, to have health care when it's needed, to look after our elderly and to make sure everybody in that jurisdiction has an opportunity to offer the gifts they have, that they are, to the production of the goods of that society and to benefit from that.

I think it's despicable, to say the least, that the minister in charge of economic development and trade in this province seems to spend more time outside the province than he does inside the province and that he doesn't seem to have any real understanding of the impact --


Mr Martin: There's music playing.

Mr Bradley: The national anthem.

Mr Martin: The national anthem is playing.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It's only fitting.

Mr Martin: It's only fitting in this time when anything national seems to be under attack in this province. Anything good and wonderful that particular piece of music draws out of us is seemingly fragile and weak in front of the agenda of this particular government at this point in time.

I was saying, before I got distracted somewhat by the music that floated in here as the door was open, that the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade is probably, for me, because I'm focused on that more than any other, the epitome of the inaction of this government in the area of making sure we have an economy that works for everybody, that we have an economy that works for communities, that we have an economy that is built on and works for people.

Nobody will deny that in Ontario today, in Canada today, we are doing quite well actually, and some of our larger corporations, financial institutions, are making very good profits. As a matter of fact, as you read the annual statements that come out of a lot of these corporations, we find and we see that some of them are making historically record high profits.

The question that people like myself and others who care about community, who care about people and who care about the creation and the maintenance of jobs are asking is, is that good fortune, that good result of effort by a few people, playing itself out so that more and more of the citizens of Ontario are better off as time unfolds?

We find a bit of a juxtaposition here. We have on one hand an economy that if you read the financial pages of our national newspapers is doing quite well, and the signs and predictions are that it will continue to do quite well and perhaps even do better, while on the other hand we have communities that are struggling, communities that are being asked more and more to do more and more by this government, but with less and less, because the fruits of the economic system that we are evolving into are not being distributed in a way that allows for communities to take care of the needs of their citizens.

So we have communities in distress, communities that are competing with each other for scarce opportunities to have new businesses locate in their jurisdictions. We have communities that are concerned about jobs for their people.

In my own community of Sault Ste Marie, one of the issues in the federal election that just passed was youth employment. We have some wonderfully gifted, talented, highly motivated young people coming out of Sault Ste Marie, working their way through the school system. Then at the end of the day, when they have their education and they're at the beginning of their productive life in terms of the economy, they can't find a job in their home town, in their home city. They have to go someplace else to find one.

Even in going someplace else, they find sometimes that's a difficult proposition. Not so long ago, two, three, five years ago, one could expect that if you worked hard, got a good education and applied oneself, in not too short an order you could find something that you could plug into and use your gift and your skill, and work your way up a ladder that was predictable, have some stability in your life, think about the possibility of perhaps one day getting married and having a family, establishing yourself in a community like Manitouwadge or Marathon or Elliot Lake or Sault Ste Marie, buy a home, invest in some property, become a taxpayer, maybe even after getting established in one's career and getting on with the beginnings of a family and owning your own home, considering the possibility of getting involved in the life of the community in a more significant and meaningful way.

That's not happening today. Our young people are concerned, our young people are worried, because the economy doesn't seem to be working for them. All they can see around them, all they can see their friends and colleagues doing and having are part-time jobs, jobs at a very low wage level, jobs with little or no benefit packages, not to speak of a pension plan of any sort, and they despair of ever being able to do that which we all took for granted, which this government accused previous governments of not being concerned about.

I have to tell you, as I look around me today and as I sit and talk with young people about what they see as their future and as I worry personally myself about the future for my own four children, I have to say that under this government the scene, the future, the picture they have to look at and that I have to look at for them seems less and less clear and more and more dark and worrisome.

What do we do? We have a government that seemingly doesn't care, or if it does care, at least isn't willing to take the leadership required, isn't willing to grab the responsibility it was given on June 8, 1995, to develop an economy or even to take advantage of an economy that is steaming along, to make sure the fruits of that economy are spread in a way that speaks of opportunity for all and an equitable distribution of that opportunity to everybody concerned. That's unfortunate.


People out there often talk about the years 1990-95 when Bob Rae was the Premier and the NDP was the government and the challenges we faced. We're often accused of being irresponsible in many ways. I have to tell you, in those days, particularly in my own circumstance and in my community, there was a lot more sunshine, a lot more opportunity, a lot more hope than there is today, because at least in those days the people of Ontario knew they had a government that cared, knew they had a government that understood the need to make sure that whatever wealth was generated in this province by the economy was distributed in a way that saw everybody having some opportunity to take advantage of it, to better themselves or to participate in some constructive way or to be part of creating something new.

That's not the case today. That isn't what's happening in Ontario today. I talked to some of the people involved in the very important and onetime vital area of community economic development. They tell me they don't know where to turn in the climate we have today in the province. Where at one point they felt they were a partner in a larger scheme that included the provincial government in a very significant way, that seems to be dissipating. The sand seems to be shifting. There doesn't seem to be any real foundation any more for any long-term planning or development when it comes to economic development and the import that has for so many communities that are concerned about it across this province.

There are some wonderful people in the province, some very gifted and talented people, who really want to be part of the development of an economy that's about people and jobs for people, that's about stability and long-term growth, that's about the common good, the common aspirations of everybody who calls this province home and chooses to live and work and play and carry on their life functions here. I have to say to the folks out there, from my two years -- it was two years last June 8 -- of sitting in this place watching this government operate in my position as critic for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, none of that is happening.

As I said, we have an economy that for all intents and purposes is doing well, is plugged into the global reality -- Brian Mulroney made sure that happened -- but it's not concerned about the people it's supposed to serve, so people are suffering.

We don't have to look very far to see some of the victims of the decisions very clearly made by a government that doesn't care much about people, that is more concerned about the wellbeing of the corporate sector, of the well-off, of the well-heeled as opposed to those of us who see ourselves as middle-class Canadians, as working-class people who get up every morning and look forward to putting in a good eight or 10 or 12 hours of effort, to being paid for that and through that paying our taxes, paying the mortgage on the house, putting food on the table for our children, educating our children and participating in the lives of our communities.

We don't have to look very far to see who the victims and the targets of this government are, to see who this government sees in its plan as dispensable in this province. There is a goodly number of people who are dispensable, who have become victims, who have been thrown on the garbage pile of life by this government.

I never fail to mention, when I get on my feet in this place, that fateful day in July 1995 when I woke up to listen to the announcement on the radio that this government, just given the powers of office for two months, had decided to take 22% of the income away from the poorest and the most vulnerable of people in this province -- no thought of the impact, no thought of how they would cope, no thought of talking to people and figuring out how we might put in place supports that would help those people as they lost almost a third of their income, no thought to the fact that there were no jobs out there for these people to go to.

The ideology of the folks across the way is that there are jobs out there for folks on welfare in this province, that if they'd only get off their duffs and get out there and put a little effort in they will find work. We know, those of us who have been paying attention, that in this country and in this province the unemployment rate across this province has been anywhere from 9% to 11%, depending on the way the wind is blowing, for the last number of years. This government unilaterally and in a very decisive and narrow way decided that a price had to be paid for the cost of being government in this province by those who are most vulnerable and most at risk among us -- and such a price: 21%.

If you woke up one day and your employer had decided to cut almost a third of your income, with not even the courtesy to make a personal phone call but you had to read about it in the paper or heard it on the radio first thing, imagine how you would feel and how you would adapt and how you would adjust, given that you know, because you've beat the pavement for the last two or three years or two or three months looking for work, that there was no work out there. But you still had to put food on the table for your children and you still had to pay the rent or the mortgage and you still had to pay for the clothing your children need to go to school and survive the winters we have in this province.

They were just the first group that were the target of this government as it went about its mean-spirited way in downsizing government, in taking government out of, as you say, the lives of people in this province, a government that is needed in the lives of so many who can't cope on their own.

That was just the first foray. Not long after that, you began to cut services. In my community alone you took away from hundreds of people the work they'd done for years. These weren't just people who one day decided to do this and another day decided to do that and another day decided to do something else. These are people who had prepared themselves for a career in serving people, whether it was as teachers or as social workers or in the health care field. They spent literally years of their lives preparing themselves to the best they could be, taking courses in the evening, taking courses on weekends, taking courses during the summertime so they could learn the best there was out there to offer to those people they served in their jobs. They took great pride in the work they did.

They were hurt deeply by the lack of support and confidence and understanding of the very important service they provided to the communities all of us represent and live in and love in this province. This government just went about in its day-to-day, blasé way: Cut here, cut there, cut someplace else.

We've asked in this place for an impact study: When does this become counterproductive? By cutting so much out of the income of the very lowest-paid among us, by cutting the services they rely on and, in doing that, taking away the jobs people participate in for their livelihood, when does this all become counterproductive? Where's the impact study? What is this going to produce in the end? Where are these people who used to be social workers and health care providers and teachers going to get new jobs? Put them together with the people you've kicked off the social service rolls, with the already unemployed out there looking for work who are on EI, and where do these people find work?


If they can't find work in the field they've chosen to prepare themselves for, that they've educated themselves in, how do they and where do they get the education they require to adjust to the new realities or the new challenges or the new opportunities that you say are out there -- which we sometimes have a hard time identifying -- when one of the things you did soon after you cut the income of the lowest among us and cut the jobs of primarily social workers was to take direct aim at the education system?

You cut literally millions of dollars out of the budgets of community colleges, of universities and out of the school systems, the elementary and secondary school systems across this province, systems that were put in place to prepare people for the workaday world, systems that were put in place so people who found themselves so radically out of work, caused by your government, could be retrained to take advantage of new opportunities. You've cut that to the bone.

In my own community of Sault Ste Marie, you've cut literally millions of dollars out of the budget of Sault College, so it's had to drop 10 of its full-time course offerings, probably 10 to 15 all told, if it was put together in a way that expressed the reality. Students in our area who want to take the courses Sault College used to offer last year will now have to either take other courses that would be their second or third choice, because a lot of students today, as you know, just cannot pick up and leave. They have families. They are students who have worked for a time and now want to change careers or, because of what you're doing as a government, are being forced into changing careers. They can't just, like teenagers and students of a few years ago who were in their twenties -- you know, we moved around the province and took courses here and there, wherever we could find them. Students can't do that any more. The money isn't there to afford them that luxury.

The institution that when it was first established in our area was a beacon of hope, an exciting opportunity, something those of us who worked in it or took advantage of it saw as a fundamental piece of being a vital and viable community, is now under attack. I suggest it is under such duress that who knows whether it and so many other very valuable community colleges across this province will survive?

That's not to mention the impact this has on some of the smaller communities around Sault Ste Marie. I worked for Sault College back in the early 1970s when it came into places like Wawa and White River and Hornepayne and Dubreuilville and Blind River and Elliot Lake and the north shore of Lake Huron and provided opportunities for people they never had before to take courses that upgraded them in how to run organizations, how to participate in local government, how to be better prepared to take care of the health needs of their family members by way of first-aid programs. Many people had their mental health improved because of some of the recreational type of programs they took which showed them how to make better use of time they had at their disposal, so they didn't become such a drain so often on the health care system.

That's just one small example of the impact of the decisions of this government to have government become smaller and less influential and less involved in the lives of the communities and people in this province; just a small example of the fallout of the people targeted, of the victims of a government that is so caught into an economic system, that does not concern itself at all about the redistribution of the wealth that is generated, that does not it concern itself at all about anything other than the profits of the corporations, and that does not concern itself at all about anything except that we somehow are in sync with the new global reality where the economy is concerned.

An economy, as I said before, has to be first and foremost about and for people. If it's not doing that, the community of people it serves begins to fray at the edges, and eventually that falling apart moves closer and closer to the heart of the system. If we continue down this road, if we continue to support and be led by this government that seems to be on this very narrow track for a further length of time than is absolutely necessary, I suggest that's exactly what's going to happen.

One could talk for hours and go through each of the government ministries we're talking about tonight by way of this concurrence in supply motion. I hit on two that I feel are fundamental and central to the good governing of this province, of any jurisdiction that calls itself an advanced and civilized society today.

I talked about the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the lack of leadership being shown, the lack of responsibility the minister in particular is showing in not putting in place new programs that will help communities take advantage of the new economy that's evolving, some of the good news that's at one end of this dichotomy we seem to have in front of us today. I talked a bit about the fact that this minister and this government find themselves so focused on the global economic reality that they have forgotten about the people they were elected to serve.

If you continue down that road and you forget about the people you're serving and continue to hack away at the Ministry of Education and Training and continue to show a lack of leadership and responsibility in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the people of this province will do as they've done to other governments over the years who didn't pay attention, who didn't do what was, in their view, in their best interests, you will be looking for at work. You will be the next group of people to be the target of what your government is doing. You will find yourself out there looking for some way to participate in the economy of this province.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It's certainly a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on this motion of concurrence.

This government has set a new standard in Ontario's history for fiscal responsibility, and it has taken decisive and innovative action to address our long-standing financial problems. This evening, I will be taking some time to review some of those accomplishments and to examine just how we measure up to other jurisdictions in North America when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

I can't overstress how extremely important it is that we be fiscally responsible, whether it be in our families and our family incomes and budgets, whether it be in our small business or large business, or whether it be in operating a government here in Ontario or in Canada. Unfortunately, in many of the developed countries of the world in the last few decades we've lost track of the importance of fiscal responsibility, and today we're paying the cost of that through debt and deficit and the interest to service that debt.

It is no secret that for years previous governments racked up enormous debts in Ontario. It took a while, but those debts and the tax-and-spend-and-borrow policies eventually did take their toll. When we took office in 1995, we found a province shouldering almost $100 billion in accumulated debt, we found a province spending $8 billion a year in interest payments alone and we found a province where investment and job growth had literally flown the coop. In fact growth, personal initiative and entrepreneurship had been stifled -- stifled by one of the highest tax burdens on the continent. But what a difference just two years can make.


The Fraser Institute performance index ranks provinces and states according to their taxation and spending policies. Governments that earn high grades do so by cutting spending and also cutting taxes, and I'm delighted to be able to report to the House this evening that for 1996, Ontario ranked second, just behind New York state, for a midterm government performance. By midterm, I mean governments that came into power after fiscal year 1993-94.

In fact, the government of Ontario collected $1,743 less in revenue from the average family of four in fiscal 1996-97 than it did through 1995-96. If we were a corporation, that indeed would not be good news, but since we're a government committed to restoring hope and prosperity through lower taxes, it is indeed very good news. I'm also pleased to note that Alberta ranked number one in the established or long-term government performance, and that's another Canadian success story.

Fiscal conservatism is on the rise in both Canada and throughout the US. That makes these standings even more impressive. By 1995, 21 states had moved to cut taxes. This is indeed good news. However, to add to this, growth of government in the US had also stopped. Last year the tax cuts continued, with 27 governors recommending lower taxes in their budgets. Along with these tax cuts, no state has recently enacted a major tax increase and almost all have passed balanced budget laws.

We compete with these various states, and it's certainly interesting to hear Bob Rae in a recent speech make the comment on just how we end up competing with those various states. I quote from one of his speeches:

"The comparisons that we make between Oshawa and Newmarket are irrelevant. The comparison between Oshawa and a jurisdiction in Tennessee or in New Mexico or Mexico or anywhere else, that's the comparison that matters and that's the test that will be applied."

Fortunately, in Canada the story is much the same. In fact, all provincial governments have embraced the wisdom of balanced budgets, including those provinces with Liberal or NDP governments. Even former Premier Bob Rae has apparently seen the light just a little bit too late, but we'll talk more about that in a few minutes.

While Ontario is still the only province that has cut taxes significantly, tax freedom day is coming a little earlier in a number of provinces right across this country. Tax freedom day is an interesting concept, one this government takes very seriously, which puts in perspective very easily just how many taxes are being taken from the average citizen in this country. It identifies the day in the year that Canadians stop working to support the government and start working to support themselves, start working to stimulate the economy. The dollars they earn after that date have a ripple effect on the economy, the opposite of where taxes are an anchor to drag them back.

Tax freedom day represents the enormous cumulative tax burden borne by Canadians across this land and it adds up very clearly what we pay for each level of government. The list is frightening. Canadians pay taxes on their income, taxes on their purchases. We pay gasoline taxes, excise taxes, property taxes and import duties. Then there's social security taxes, pension taxes and medical insurance taxes. Of course, that list seems to go on forever, and indeed with the taxes that we pay in this province it really does.

Of these, Ontario's tax burden was traditionally the highest. Total taxes for a family earning $60,000 in the mid-1990s were more than $29,000, almost half their total income. Until 1995, at least here in Ontario, governments could never seem to get enough taxes.

Using the benchmarks established to identify tax freedom day, it's easy to see the steady rise in our tax burden. Back in 1961, tax freedom day in Canada was May 3. So from May 4 on, almost eight months, you got to earn some money to put in your own pocket. By 1974 tax freedom day had advanced to June 8 and by 1996 it had advanced to June 25 for Canada as a country.

I'm sure it would be interesting for the members of this House to realize that here in Ontario, from 1981 to 1985, it actually moved from May 28 to May 25. This was a saving of some three days that people were then able to earn and put in their pockets and that was during a PC government. But then from 1985 to 1995, Ontario's tax freedom day was delayed by over a month, going from May 25 in 1985 to June 26 in 1995. I'm sure I don't have to point out that coincidentally that is the same period of time the tax-and-spend Liberals and the NDP held power in this province.

Now if you break that down from 1985 to 1990, it actually moved from May 25 to June 21. That was an increase of some 27 days that the provincial Liberals were able to move the tax freedom day here in Ontario. If you move along between 1990 and 1995, it moved from June 21 to June 26. That's an increase of some five days. Now I stand here and ask which is worse, the increase in taxation the Liberals laid on us or what the NDP did to us by just escalating the debt to such an extreme extent?

I heard earlier the member for Lake Nipigon criticizing the borrowing of this government to make up for the deficit.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): Of all people to be talking. He sucked every ounce of milk out of the provincial trough.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, order, order.

Mr Galt: At the same time, he also criticized the tax cut. But you have to come up with some sort of balance. You can't criticize --

Mr Conway: How many of those pay raises did you send back to the department of agriculture?

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North.

Mr Conway: You've got your nerve.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North. The member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It's obvious that the truth is kind of getting to the opposition.

I also heard the member for Sault Ste Marie say that they were being accused of being irresponsible. I can understand why he would be sensitive to that, because they've often been accused of being irresponsible and rightly so. He talked about a civilized society. I can't think of a more civilized society than to leave a few tax dollars in people's pockets.

In 1996, that date of June 26 remained the same in Ontario because the effect of tax cuts had not kicked in. So when the tax freedom day is --


The Deputy Speaker: Order, order, order.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This is what evening sessions will be like.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma.

Mr Conway: He had all kinds of time on company time to complain about Elmer Buchanan.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North, we're just waiting for you. The member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: It's a shame, Mr Speaker. When the truth comes out, the opposition has some real trouble handling it. Anyway, that just happens to be the way it is.

My colleagues across the floor are fond of repeating their mantra that tax cuts only benefit our rich friends. I don't know about anyone else, but let me assure you that any rich friends I happen to have went out of business during the late 1980s and the early 1990s, when the taxes were going up and you just kept right on --



Mr Wildman: And you kept calling because you were at the public trough.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): The doctor could have said no.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. It was so peaceful for a while. It was so peaceful. The members for Kingston and The Islands, Lake Nipigon, Sudbury East.


The Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North.

Mr Galt: The fact is that tax cuts benefit the low- and middle-income earners the most. They're restoring hope and opportunity to great numbers of people who had all but given up hope in Ontario. Is there anything more bizarre in this province today than to listen to some politicians ridicule the importance of a tax cut? Tax cuts aren't worth it, they say, because they only put a few dollars per week back into people's pockets. They aren't worth it, they say, for all of the suffering, and of course they say it isn't worth it because they only benefit the rich. Wrong, wrong, wrong, on all three accounts.

The tax cuts we are delivering are an essential ingredient in putting Ontario's fiscal house back in order. They represent a commitment to take less to begin with and to spend what is taken more prudently. I can assure the opposition that there is no such thing as government dollars; there are only taxpayers' dollars.

I really sincerely thank both parties in opposition for advertising our tax cuts, because without their advertising about the tax cuts, I don't think they'd have ever been nearly as successful.

Tax cuts are a way to put government free spenders on an enforced diet but, most of all, tax cuts are a way to restore business and consumer confidence in an economy that was indeed badly shaken. The power of tax cuts is absolutely phenomenal, and it's obvious here this evening that it's really upsetting to the opposition to see just how successful they've been. We have all kinds of evidence to indicate just how successful they have been.

In March and April, Ontario's economy created some 60,000 new jobs. That works out to just about 1,000 jobs for every day of the week during those two months. We then moved into May, when there were some 60,000 jobs created across Canada, 40,000 here in Ontario, a province that's a third of the size of Canada creating two thirds of the jobs. There's got to be something right going on in this province for that many jobs to be created. What's more, the Ontario help wanted index grew some 18% over last year. We haven't seen that kind of increase in a dog's age, and I can tell you, when that happened last time, some 200,000 new jobs were created.

Housing starts are also up significantly, particularly in Toronto and the GTA. Labour income is up. Car sales are up. Department store sales are up. Exports are up, not to mention the gross domestic product.

In my home riding of Northumberland, the news is also very positive.


The Deputy Speaker: There are too many discussions going on. The member for Northumberland has the floor.

Mr Galt: According to Manpower Temporary Services, which conducts a quarterly employment outlook survey, 26% of employers surveyed said they intend to hire new employees in the next three months, while only 10% expected a decrease in employment.

Housing starts were also up. In Cobourg, year-over-year construction permits increased almost $3 million over last year. In April, year-to-date construction permits had almost tripled, from $2.3 million in 1996 to almost $6 million in April 1997. That indeed is a strong sign that consumers are back in the driver's seat, where consumers rightfully should be.

I know that my colleagues opposite will say it's the low interest rates that are helping to fuel this recovery. While I agree low interest rates certainly help, let us point out that people aren't totally naïve. They know that interest rates can jump at any time; as a matter of fact, they move on a weekly basis. You know that as well as I do. But I can also tell you that a tax cut is seen as a permanent saving and people recognize it, and that's why we're on the recovery in this province. What's more, in light of the high levels of taxation we've seen in this province, I'd say they're crucial to renewed growth.

That brings me to the comments -- and I'm sure members of the third party would be interested -- Mr Rae made to the municipal associations just a few weeks ago. When I first heard that Mr Rae approved of some of our policies, I wasn't sure whether I should be pleased or alarmed at this prospect. But when I read the transcripts of his remarks, I became much more comfortable with the notion and with his ideas. In fact, what Mr Rae said made perfect sense. He pointed out that we have to stop thinking in terms of competing within Ontario and Canada and we have to start thinking about competing with Ohio and Michigan and overseas. I just couldn't agree more.

I also found extremely interesting Mr Rae's comment that "there are limits to what the government can spend, there are limits to what the government can borrow and there are limits to what the government can tax." Hallelujah. There's none more righteous than this fiscal sinner who has finally seen the light, and those indeed are very righteous words.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Never worked a day in his life.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Galt: I'm quoting from Bob Rae's book:

"Ontario was not seen as hungry enough for new business and new investment. Bureaucracy was too big and inefficient. We were lousy marketers. American states were much better at being aggressive and attracting new jobs. We were overtaxed and overregulated.... These were not things that New Democrats liked to admit to ourselves, though they were increasingly obvious to most people."

Page 224, if you would like to read it.

As I look at this, "Ontario was not seen as hungry enough for new business and new investment" -- not surprising. "Bureaucracy was too big and inefficient." There was a 20,000 increase while you were in office. "We were lousy marketers." Obvious. "American states were much better at being aggressive and attracting new jobs." With the kind of red tape you brought in, not surprising.

Mr Laughren: So where did you work? Tell us about the private sector.

Mr Galt: I can. For eight years I practised in Seaforth and in Napanee, if you'd like to know where I practised. I was raised on a farm, and I can tell you what hard work is all about. Can you tell me what you've worked at, other than being --


Mr Pouliot: You must have had a summer job at one time. You should stick to your script; you will get confused.

Mr Laughren: It's time you got a job. You've got to get a real job.

The Deputy Speaker: Order. Member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Galt: I know the members opposite will be anxious, of course, to defend their former leader. I'm not surprised at all and I wouldn't deny them that opportunity and that privilege. So maybe I'll just wrap up by saying that we came to Queen's Park with a mission, and we're here with some very clear instructions from the electorate. We knew something had to be fixed, with the problems we inherited coming to office: the problems of big government, big deficit, big debt and even bigger taxes. For too long Ontario governments financed their deficits by increasing job-killing taxes rather than bringing spending under control.

We are now controlling that spending, we are now reducing those taxes and we're now addressing the overtaxation of the past. What's more, our plan to reinvest in priority programs and boost job growth is working. Reducing the size and cost of government is having the desired effect, and we are getting our fiscal house in order, even though the opposition like to criticize what we're doing.

This sound management is refuelling renewed optimism in Ontario. We have had impressive job gains, a jump in housing starts and a return of consumer confidence and investors. Yes, we prescribed some tough medicine for a patient that's been in terrible shape, and we're getting the patient of Ontario back on its feet. I can tell you that medicine is indeed working.


Mr Galt: Even though you haven't had an honest job throughout your life, don't criticize others.

Independent forecasts predict continued strong growth for the foreseeable future, and that is indeed something to celebrate. As a wise man once said, "Problems are nothing more than opportunities dressed up in working clothes." I believe we have taken the substantial financial problems facing this province and we have turned them around. I'm proud to be a member of this government, committed as ever to the Common Sense Revolution and doing what is right for the province.


Mr Gerretsen: There is one issue I like talking about more than any other issue, and that's the tax cut. Let's just put it straight on the record. Nobody wouldn't like a tax cut. The problem is that we can't afford the tax cut right now.

Let me go over some of the figures again for the members of the back bench. They obviously forget that when they took over, they took over a $100-billion debt. Let's again state for the record that $40 billion of that $100-billion debt was incurred by the Conservatives prior to 1985, $10 billion of it was incurred between 1985 and 1990 when the Liberals were in power, and another $45 billion to $50 billion was incurred while the NDP was in power. Those are the facts. Look at the government's own information: a $100-billion debt.

According to the government's own budget document, what is going to happen to the public debt in this province over the next four to five years? It's going to increase from $100 billion, where it was when they took over, to $120 billion in another two to three years. You are going to add $20 billion to the public debt of this province, which just happens to equate to the amount of the tax cut over those five years. It's in your own document.

Let's take a look at how much interest we're paying on the public debt right now. It's $9.1 billion. Even with the lowering of interest rates that we're all enjoying in this province, it's still $9.1 billion per year, up from the $7.1 billion when you took over. By your actions, by your tax cut, you have added another $2 billion to the public interest payment of the province. That's what's happened, and I think the people of Ontario should clearly understand that.

For a party that likes to promote itself as the business party, as far as the average Ontarian is concerned, you are taking some very anti-business approaches. I know of no company that would issue itself a dividend while it's still running in the red on a year-to-year basis, and you're doing it.

Mr Galt: That's a dividend, cutting taxes?

Mr Gerretsen: That's right. You are giving the people of Ontario a dividend, but you're in the red every year. It clearly indicates that.

What does it mean to the average Ontarian? I happen to have a study here that was done by KPMG. This isn't our propaganda, this is a highly respected consulting firm, Peat Marwick, and what do they say? They say that this coming year, a person who has a taxable income of $25,000 can expect to receive a tax cut of $295 for the year, which works out to about $5 a week; a person who has a taxable income of $50,000 is going to get a tax cut of about $890; but a person who makes $100,000 is going to get a tax cut of slightly less than $2,500 per year. Those figures indicate that the people who are going to benefit most from the tax cut are clearly the people who are better off in this province. Why don't you put that straight up front in your propaganda so you don't have the people who make $25,000 or $30,000 believing they are going to get a huge tax cut when we're talking about $5 to $6 a week?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): John, what about the Fair Share health levy? Tell them about that.

Mr Gerretsen: You'll have your time, Minister. After the NDP has their turn, we'll be more than pleased to listen to your analysis of this. I'm using your own documents to indicate that you are still adding to the public debt of this province and that you are also, as a result of your actions, adding to the public interest payment some $2 billion on an annual basis over the last two years alone. That's even in a period when the interest rates are at an all-time low.

Let's talk about some of the other deficits you are incurring in this province. The deficit we like to talk about on this side of the House is the so-called human deficit your actions are imposing on the residents of the province.

Let's take a look at some of the hospitals scheduled to close over the next year or so. In Thunder Bay we have three hospitals; in Sudbury we have two hospitals; in Ottawa we have four hospitals. I guess the Montfort Hospital may be saved or it may reappear in a different manner than it is right now, but as of the publication of this document, it was certainly included on the hit list. In Pembroke, the Pembroke Civic Hospital is scheduled to close. In London two hospitals scheduled to close, the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital and the London Psychiatric Hospital. In Metro Toronto, about 10 hospitals scheduled to close. That's what your tax cut is doing.

The people of Ontario want proper health care, they want accessible health care, and from everything we've heard, everything I've heard in my own riding and throughout the province, they certainly don't expect the hospitals in their own communities to close, hospitals which in many cases have been there for many years, that have been built as a result of the tremendous efforts of volunteers from those communities who have literally spent generations trying to get the best kind of health care they possibly could in individual communities. What are you doing? So you can afford your tax cut, you are closing these institutions one by one throughout the entire province.

But it's not only the institutions being closed. One of the other effects your cuts are having is that something like 12,300 health care workers who are providing good-quality patient care to Ontarians will be laid off, and we expect about another 15,000 will lose their jobs directly as a result of hospital restructuring.

Of course we haven't even talked about the user fees you have imposed throughout this entire province, user fees on prescription drugs for seniors, persons with disabilities and the poor. Those are some of the effects your tax cuts are having.

Let's talk about some other areas. How about education? What is happening to education as a result of your tax cut? Some $145 million already has been cut to junior kindergarten and $150 million in cuts to adult education. You may recall that two or three days ago people involved in adult education programs here in the city of Toronto surrounded this building, asking to meet with the minister so they could explain their own individual positions, what the lack of funding to adult education is doing to their own individual lives.


As a party that believes that everyone should contribute to the prosperity of this province and that people should lead as full a life as possible, one would think you would be helping these people to get the right kind of educational skills and life skills to get proper jobs and get off the welfare system they're currently involved with. One would think you would be the party that would fund those programs, would help these people get the necessary life skills and educational requirements to get the jobs that are out there, but you've done exactly the opposite. You are punishing these people by your cuts to the adult education programs. The minister is shaking his head no, but he knows I'm right.

Yes, $39 million has been cut in school bus transportation alone, $163 million in cuts to classroom education and another $167 million in cuts to school construction and maintenance. These are the kinds of effects your tax cuts have had on the people of Ontario.

So far, 25 school boards in this province have had to cancel junior kindergarten classes and 23 boards have had to reduce special education programs. Seven boards -- we heard about this within the last month or two -- have had to cut their library resources. It's kind of interesting that whereas the rest of North America seems to be going in the opposite direction as far as education funding and excellence in education are concerned, what's happening here in Ontario? We have dropped from being the 29th to being the 46th in actual annual expenditure on a per-pupil basis in the American states and in the Canadian provinces. We are 46th out of 60 jurisdictions.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: -- spending money.

Mr Gerretsen: No, I'm not talking about spending money. I'm talking about not giving a tax cut until these programs are properly maintained and until the people of Ontario have the kind of hospital care, the kind of medical care they deserve and have become accustomed to.

Let's look at the other end of the scale. What has happened to tuition fees, for example? Let's take a look at the tuition fees, what the students in this province now have to come up with as a result of the tax cut and the cuts to education funding. It's very interesting that whereas the average student paid $2,200 for tuition fees about two years ago, in the year 1997-98, they can expect to pay almost $3,400, an increase of $1,000, or over 40%, in a matter of two to three years.

This is at the same time that we know students who graduate from university programs cannot get a job. We currently have the highest level of youth unemployment, more so than any other sector in this country, at almost 20%.

Let's take a look at some other deficits. Let's talk about the deficit to children. We got our statistics from the food bank here in Toronto. It's very interesting that in 1995 some 42,000 children -- which in and of itself is a staggering number when you think about it -- in this greater Toronto area were dependent upon the food banks that operate in the Toronto area. What's the figure this year? It's almost double that: 70,000 children are dependent upon food banks.

If that's something you're proud of, you're totally wrong. Implicitly, you're saying that when you don't put enough money in the social programs, in the educational programs, in the welfare programs and in the health care programs, but would rather pay that money back in a tax cut that we, as Ontarians, with the kind of society we have, can ill afford.

Let's look at another statistic: children in poverty in Ontario. Let's see what's happened there.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You were against the breakfast program.

Mr Gerretsen: We were against the breakfast program? With all due respect to the minister, it's a well-known fact that the member for Windsor-Sandwich, Ms Pupatello, was after the Premier for well over a year to live up to the commitment he made in the 1995 election to start the breakfast program for children. When he refused to do so, she started it and shamed you people into it. You know and I know it that that's exactly what happened.

In any event, children in poverty in Ontario are 19% of the total Ontario population. I don't think that is a statistic that any of us in this House can be proud of. Whatever can be done in services to children and to the parents who obviously live with the children, to help to get these people out of poverty, we should be encouraging, not discouraging, the way you appear to be doing.

When you look at the whole funding envelope for children in general, there are some great inconsistencies. For example, an issue that's been raised a number of times in this House is the funding for children's aid societies. We've all experienced the horrible stories over the last month or so of children being abused, of two or three children even dying in the province, in situations where perhaps -- it's not a certainty, but perhaps -- they could have been helped if there had been adequate funding for children's aid societies in this province.

In your budget documents and in your estimates that we're discussing here tonight, you have deducted $17 million from the children's aid societies of this province, less than what you allocated to them last year. If you really think that cutting that kind of amount from the budgets of the children's aid societies is not having an effect on their ability to look after children in need, if you really think so, you're dead wrong, totally and absolutely wrong. That's having an effect.

When you look at children in poverty, statistics clearly show that children who live in those kinds of conditions are seven times more likely to be abused or to become dependent on alcohol or drugs.

I've already talked to you about the deficit in the employment situation for the youth in this province. In the first quarter of 1996, 16%, a totally unacceptable number, of youths in Ontario were unemployed; 16%, almost one in six youngsters, were looking for work and couldn't find a job. That was in 1996, in the first quarter. What is it today? It's closer to 19%. We're not winning that battle, we're losing that battle, and we're losing that battle because not only are you refusing to do anything about it, you're actually funding those programs less than you did before.

As I mentioned before, the cost of the tax cut itself -- it only costs $1 billion. I say "only" $1 billion; that's a lot of money that could have been spent in these areas I've talked about. It costs the taxpayers of this province $1 billion in the year 1996-97, but by the year 2000 it will cost the taxpayers $6 billion.

If you had been consistent, at least you would have said: "We're not going to give a tax cut. Let's make sure that the public debt of this province isn't going to rise any more. Let's make sure that the annual deficit is eliminated and let's start paying some of that money back."

The other very interesting figure is the fact that almost 20% of all the money being taken in by the province on an annual basis is being paid out in interest payments to individuals and to corporations: $9.1 billion, a $2-billion increase over just two years ago.

Those are some of the deficits that we like to talk about on this side of the House: health care, education, the deficit to children, the real deficits to the people of Ontario.

The other side of the issue is this: Yes, some people are getting a tax cut, as I've already indicated, some people are getting a few more dollars in their pocket, but how are they going to spend it? I can almost guarantee you that if any of them own a house, they're going to be spending it on more property taxes.


We all know the charade that we went through here when you very graciously took off the $5.4 billion in education costs from the property tax bill. You hailed it as something that was very grand and everybody liked it until the people realized that, yes, you were taking $5.4 billion off, but you were putting $6.4 billion on to the property tax bill on the other side for an increase of $1 billion of costs that would now have to be picked up by the property taxpayers in the province. We all remember the great hullabaloo that arose over that. Your Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Premier got together with AMO and the other municipal leaders and all of a sudden a new agreement was reached whereby basically only half of the residential education costs would be taken off the property tax roll and in effect there would be a smaller transfer of services and the dollar amounts associated therewith to the local municipalities.

But you know, it's very interesting that when those figures were added up, $3.2 billion was taken off the property tax roll, and what was added on was $3.8 billion. Are the municipalities happier than they were when $1 billion was going to be added on to the property tax roll? Of course they're happier, since now only $600 million is going to be added on. But would they prefer to have nothing added on from the provincial side of things? Obviously, because the bottom line to the property taxpayer, the single home taxpayer who may be watching out there tonight, is that they are going to be paying more property taxes as a result of the transfers that you have dumped on to local municipalities, some $600 million more.

I know what your game plan is and is what your hope is. You are hoping that there will be so much pressure on the local councils when they see what they are going to have to pay for next year that they're not paying this year that they in effect will do your dirty work. They will say, "We can't possibly burden our taxpayers with a 5%, 10% or 20% increase and we'd better do something about it."

They've got two choices. One choice is to pass it on to the local property taxpayer, in which case they're going to be blamed for the 5%, 10% or 20% increase. The other choice is that they're going to reduce services. Those are the only two choices out there. They're going to either reduce services or pass on those increases. I'm sure the people out there and the backbenchers as well may be interested in knowing in what areas these transfers are actually taking place.

Municipalities are going to have to pick up $853 million more of the cost of social services than they currently are.

Another big one that's out there is social housing. I always find this a very interesting one because at one time I was chairman of the Ontario Housing Corp, some three or four years ago, and I know that most of the contracts that exist between the non-profit groups and the co-op groups are directly between those groups and the province. In most cases the municipalities have absolutely nothing to do with these units other than the fact that they may have approved them at one point in time from a planning viewpoint and from a construction viewpoint.

In effect, you are saying to these municipalities, "Whatever the subsidy dollars that we currently pay on these contracts that have been signed between the groups and the province" -- you're handing those contracts over to the municipalities and you're basically saying, "They are now your costs." Quite frankly, I think that's one of the most unfair things I've ever seen. The municipalities had absolutely no say over what these contracts were all about, and now unilaterally you are going to turn those contracts over to them, which in many cases probably still have anywhere from 15 to 20 or 25 years to run. It will be very interesting to see how that one's going to work out.

I understand that for next year, in effect, what will happen is that each one of the municipalities will simply get a bill from the province. That will say, "There are so many non-profit units in your municipality," or so many social housing units or so many co-op units. "We have determined that our costs for these units are X number of dollars per year," where we have subsidy dollars. You've got X number of units times whatever the cost per unit is. "Here's your bill for $2 million or $3 million or $4 million or $5 million, and now you'd better pay us."

I guess in the year after that those contracts are going to be transferred and the municipalities are going to be looking after them in their entirety. I will tell you that you haven't heard the last of that from your local councillors in the constituencies that each one of you represents.

The other area that I always find very interesting is this whole farm tax, another rebate program. Those farm tax programs -- and the Minister of Agriculture is here. He well knows that those are paid to farmers, who are basically in rural municipalities. In effect, what you're doing is transferring that $170-million program to, in most cases, the most rural municipalities in the province, which will now have to pick up those costs. They are probably in the worst financial position to actually deal with those kinds of issues or with the money requirements that these kinds of programs require. I'm sure you'll be hearing from a lot of local councils once they realize what the bill for that is going to be next year.

The other one is public health. This is the one that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. In public health, you're transferring $225 million. It's interesting that most public health programs are funded by the province right now and that municipalities are either not involved directly or in a very minimal way. You are saying that from now on the local municipalities will fund the health units of this province.

As we all know, particularly in the rural areas or the small urban areas, a health unit is comprised of members from many different municipalities. Nobody has told these health units yet how that money is going to be allocated between municipalities. Indeed, nobody has told the municipalities how much they are going to be responsible for next year, and of course the public health units are in quite a disarray since they would much rather deal with one payor -- namely, the province of Ontario -- than with the 20, 30 or 40 different municipalities that may be making up a particular unit. I'm sure there will be much said about that as well.

The other program, of course, that you eliminated not just this year, but the final effect is going to be felt at the local level, is the municipal support program. At one time the province of Ontario used to pay up to --

Mr Laughren: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Yes, member for Nickel Belt.

Mr Laughren: Sorry to disturb you. I do think it's time that we checked for a quorum in this House. It would also give a chance to the member for Kingston and The Islands to regroup.

The Speaker: Is a quorum present?

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

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

Mr Gerretsen: As I was saying, now that the government members have re-entered the House, and hopefully they will listen to what I and others will have to say over the next little while, the elimination of the municipal support program in and of itself is depriving municipalities of $667 million. These were the kind of programs that many municipalities, particularly the smaller municipalities that don't have adequate tax bases themselves, relied on in order to run their various operations.


The other one, and I know the member for Renfrew North has very eloquently talked about this in the past, is the transfer of ambulance costs to the local municipalities. Some $200 million is proposed to be picked up by the local municipalities for the first time ever. Most of them have never had any involvement with this before and they're now going to be required to pick up that cost.

As has already been pointed out by the member for Renfrew North in the past, what are you going to do in rural municipalities, for example, in which you have an awful lot of crown-owned land? Who's going to pick up the cost? Is it going to be charged back to the municipality that the person needing the service is from, or how exactly are those costs going to be allocated among the municipalities?


Mr Gerretsen: The members over there are saying, "We don't care," or something to that effect. You didn't?

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): They'll handle it.

Mr Gerretsen: Oh, they'll handle it, will they? In a small municipality that has a tax base of maybe $20,000 or $30,000 per year -- and there are those municipalities around; Mr Danford certainly knows a lot of them -- two or three of these ambulance movements are going to cost an awful lot of money, the kind of costs these smaller municipalities simply have not been exposed to or involved with before.

The final one I want to talk about, one very close to my heart, is the fact that the province will no longer pay the subsidy --


The Speaker: Members, I appreciate the fact that there's a quorum now, but we still need some order and decorum. If you're going to have discussions, I understand that, but they've got to come down a little bit. Member for Grey-Owen Sound, I'd appreciate it if you'd come to order as well and stop scratching your head.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, because there is an issue I want to talk about and have talked about before in this House: the ferry subsidy program that the province is totally getting out of.

As you know, I've got three islands in my riding that have relied for the last 30 or 40 years upon provincial involvement in making sure these people can get off and on the islands to their various places of work etc. The costs for operating those ferries are going to be entirely placed on the local municipalities. Guess what? In most of those cases, the municipality would have to increase their taxes seven, eight, nine, 10 times to be able to afford to operate them. There just isn't the tax base there to do that.

So far, these islanders -- they are part of Ontario; there is a collective responsibility to those people -- are being totally ignored by the province. The province is basically saying to them, through the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Transportation, "I'm sorry, but as of January 1, 1998, they're your responsibility."

That is extremely callous. It will be the first time the province says to residents of this province, who have lived in their own local municipalities for the last 100 to 150 years, for generations: "We can no longer afford to look after you in any way, shape or form. We are no longer willing to pay the costs for you to live where you are." That's extremely callous.

With that, I will gladly yield the rest of my time.

The Speaker: That's because there is no more time.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Darn. We want more, More, more.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Unanimous consent.

Mr Gerretsen: Is there unanimous consent?

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): No.

The Speaker: Order. I think they're actually changing the rules right now, as we speak. The time thing is coming under discussion.

Further debate?

Mr Laughren: I wanted to engage in this debate this evening for a number of reasons. One was that I've been inspired by a couple of the speeches others have made, some in a very positive way and others not so positively. I must say I'm looking at the member for Kitchener as I say that.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: He's a positive guy. You be quite positive.

Mr Laughren: I do want to be positive, and I always try not to be personal in this assembly. The speech from the member for Kitchener this afternoon was striking in a couple of ways. One was that it seemed to be just a tad self-congratulatory. I found that surprising, because usually members --

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It is hard to be humble in here.

Mr Laughren: Maybe the Minister of Agriculture hits the nail on the head when he says it's hard to be humble when you're a Tory. I think he said that. I understand that problem, having watched Tories for some time.

The other thing, aside from being self-congratulatory, was that the member for Kitchener spoke for perhaps half an hour, was it?


Mr Laughren: I don't know either. It seemed longer than that, but I'm sure to the member for Kitchener it seemed a lot less than that.

Mr Gerretsen: It seemed like an eternity.

Mr Laughren: Yes, an eternity, but not once during that half-hour speech did he mention the term "family values" or "family issues." If I were a member of the Tory caucus and one of the leading luminaries of the rump made a speech and didn't talk about family issues or family values, I would be very unhappy. I would be saying to the Premier, "We know you're contemplating a cabinet shuffle and some promotion of some of the luminaries from the back benches into cabinet, but if this member can speak for half an hour and not once mention family issues or family values, I don't think he deserves to be promoted to cabinet."

That may sound harsh, and I don't like to be personal, but for those two reasons: that he was a tad too self-congratulatory for my liking -- oh, Jim Brown is here, the family issues member himself is here. I must say I didn't realize that, because you're not in your proper seat, sir. Nevertheless, I appreciate your presence, and I don't think it matters where you sit. When it comes to family issues, you are a cut above the rest and it doesn't matter where you sit. What I do wonder, though, is how you tolerate the fact that the member for Kitchener made a half-hour speech and never mentioned family issues once. I think you need to have a heart-to-heart with the member for Kitchener. I tolerated the self-congratulatory tenor of his speech, but the fact that he didn't mention family issues bothered me a great deal.

I want to talk about a number of issues, none of which compares in importance to family issues, but nevertheless a couple of other issues.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Talk about Dr Galt.

Mr Laughren: The member for Sudbury East talks about the member for Northumberland, who made a speech this evening on these concurrences. I was somewhat taken aback. I've had my problems with Mr Galt, and I'll tell you why I've had a problem with Mr Galt. He will not be happy with these comments, but I think it needs to be laid out.

I served on the resources development committee and we were dealing with the privatization of water. I went to a subcommittee meeting to determine where the committee would go to have meetings. At that meeting, the clerk of the committee came in and said, "We don't think we can justify going to Thunder Bay and to Ottawa, because only two or three people have indicated an interest in appearing before the committee, and to fly the entire committee, plus the research, plus the translation services and the clerk to these communities seems a bit much, a bit excessive." I said, "I've got no problem with that," and we invited written submissions to the committee.

Then, when somebody appeared before the committee later, I believe it was here in Toronto, and complained about the fact that the committee had not gone to Thunder Bay or Ottawa, the member for Northumberland, who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment, said: "You'd better talk to the opposition. They're the ones who agreed to this."

There's a code of conduct around this place where we try to make the system work. We have our partisan moments; I understand that, and I'm as much a part of that as anybody. But it seems to me that when we're trying to make the system work in a responsible way, we honour that and we don't exploit that. I was taken aback and surprised and disappointed when that happened.


I've got a bit of a problem with the member for Northumberland, so when he gets up and speaks about all the evils of the previous governments and the virtues of the present government, I listen to him a little more closely and see if maybe there are some errors in his arguments or gaps in his logic. For someone who has spent I think most of his life in the public sector as a veterinarian with the Ministry of Agriculture, I believe, to be extolling the virtues of the marketplace as he has I find just a bit thick. I don't want to get into personal things, but that bothers me, because you cannot have it both ways in this chamber. As they say, if you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk. I think that's where the member for Northumberland needs to assess his position on these matters.

Moving away from that, I wanted to talk about a couple of ministries on the list for concurrences here, in keeping with the rules of the assembly. One of them has to do with the Ministry of Natural Resources. In this chamber we've raised from time to time the issue of firefighting in northern Ontario. I asked a question, as a matter of fact, earlier this week about the closure of a fire base in a small community in my own constituency called Gogama. The minister responded, as he should have, and indicated that he would send some people into the community to explain to the local residents why he'd done what he did. I appreciated that. I had no real problems with the Minister of Natural Resources' answer.

But he did at one point make some comment about which bases had been closed, so I went back and dug out some material about which fire bases had been closed and which ones had been kept open. This comes from the Ministry of Natural Resources. When I go through the list, the following fire bases have been closed, and it's all indicated on this sheet from the Ministry of Natural Resources: Hornepayne, and the MPP for that area is Wildman; Ignace, and the MPP is Hampton; Isaac Lake, and the MPP is Bill Murdoch; Kapuskasing, and the MPP is Len Wood; Kirkland Lake, and the MPP is Dave Ramsay; Manitouwadge, and the MPP is Pouliot; Nipigon, and the MPP is Pouliot; Nym Lake, and the MPP is Hampton; Plevna, and the MPP is Vankoughnet; Temagami, and the MPP is Ramsay; Tweed, and the MPP is Danford; Whitney, and the MPP is Conway. Those were all closed.

There are two on this list that were kept open. They were the following: Grundy Lake, MPP Ernie Eves; and Haliburton, MPP Chris Hodgson.

That's the entire list I have in front of me. If there are any errors in it, then I'd ask the Ministry of Natural Resources to forward that information to me.

All I'm asking is, is it a coincidence that all the closures were in the ridings of opposition members and some backbench Tory members -- not many, but some -- and that the only two kept open were in the ridings of the minister himself and the Minister of Finance? Is that a coincidence, I ask you? And you wonder why there's cynicism out there in the province about the way politicians in power behave. I'm not saying that when my government was in office we reduced the level of cynicism any more than you have. All I'm saying is that on this particular issue, I'd like to hear from you why you think I'm somewhat sceptical about the logic behind the fire base closures.

In Gogama, for example, not just because it's in my constituency but because I know it best and the people have come to me, we have a small community of about 400 people. It's in the centre of a major wood basket, as we call it up there. Timmins is about 65 or 75 miles to the north, Sudbury is a little farther than that to the south, and there are no other large communities and no other fire bases. This year and part of last year as well, that community sits there while their permanent firefighters are stationed in Timmins. They live in Gogama, because that's their home, and Timmins, which is about 75 miles away, is where their particular base is located.

But guess what happens? Every morning the people from Gogama, the firefighters who live there, get in their own personal vehicles, drive to Timmins, pick up the firefighting vehicles and equipment, bring them back to Gogama to be on standby, and then at night drive the equipment back to Timmins, get in their own personal automobiles, drive back to Gogama, and the next morning the whole process starts all over again: They drive to Timmins, pick up the equipment and drive back to Gogama. It is nonsense, absolute nonsense.

Both last year and this year, the Ministry of Natural Resources seems to understand that this is a problem, that Gogama is a critical area.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Have you written a letter to the minister?

Mr Laughren: We've written letters, we've raised it in the Legislature, the local people have made presentations. As a matter of fact, I think the minister is starting to understand that there's a problem there, although he didn't quite indicate that to me, but he did indicate he was prepared to send somebody into that community to talk to them about the strategy. I suggested he go there because -- and it's got nothing to do with it being fire season -- he would get a very warm reception if he want to the community of Gogama and explained what it is that he's doing.

Mr Murdoch: Would you go with him?

Mr Laughren: I'll be there, believe me. I'd love to be there to hear these explanations. As a matter of fact, the member for Grey-Owen Sound would be very welcome to attend.

Mr Conway: It's just too bad that he isn't still the minister's parliamentary assistant.

Mr Laughren: If he were the parliamentary assistant, I don't think we'd have this problem. The member for Grey-Owen Sound was really good at putting out fires, so to speak. When there was a problem in the ministry, the member for Grey-Owen Sound was there. It seems to me that if he were still the parliamentary assistant --


Mr Laughren: There are those of you who say, "If Mr Murdoch was so good as a parliamentary assistant, why isn't he still there?"

Mr Wettlaufer: Nobody said that.

Mr Laughren: I think that's a pertinent question. I think the answer is best repeated from the mouth of the parliamentary assistant himself. This comes from Bill Murdoch, MPP, Grey-Owen Sound, his own words. I could not make this up. I don't have the soul of a poet the way Mr Murdoch does. He said, "You have to be nicey-nicey and kiss ass if you want to get ahead." I couldn't make that up, but that's what the member for Grey-Owen Sound said. I wish he were still there.

The Speaker: Order. I would just caution the member for Nickel Belt that language is always a careful thing in here, and "nicey-nicey" could be out of order.

Mr Laughren: It's so gratifying to know that the Speaker is listening. I appreciate that, Mr Speaker.

All I am saying is that you haven't got it right yet. On firefighting, it was one thing to close the towers, where people sat in there all summer --

Ms Martel: Stop there.

Mr Laughren: Anyway, there were problems with young men sitting in those towers all summer with nobody to talk to.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: You get that lonely feeling.

Mr Laughren: Yes, it was a very lonely existence.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Some of them put out fires where there was no fire.


Mr Laughren: I really must move on because Mr Brown is here and I wouldn't want to be taken to task for making light of family issues or family values.

I would like to conclude that part of my remarks though by saying that it is a serious problem in a community like Gogama. They're very vulnerable. I can't remember the numbers now, but at one point there were something like five firefighting groups from Ontario and dozens of them from out of province.

I know what the minister's view is: You allow the province to operate with a minimum number of firefighters and then draw on other jurisdictions as the need arises. That sounds pretty good on the surface, but the problem is going to arise when you end up with a problem in two or three jurisdictions at the same time, which is not unheard of in the firefighting season.

I would simply say that it remains a problem. I hope the Minister of Natural Resources will take this seriously. If, for example, the people from Gogama were out fighting a fire somewhere else and a fire broke out in that area, there would be a problem in that community. I was in the northern part of my own constituency in that area last week and had to have a police escort to drive through a forest fire because they'd evacuated all the cottages and they had to make sure nobody went into those cottages and caused any problems. So it still is a problem up there and it's going to continue to be a problem. It's one thing to try and be efficient, but sometimes you go too far.

I remember a corporate executive at Falconbridge one time after they'd announced these huge layoffs. I said to him, "How do you know when you've gone too far with the layoffs?" He said to me: "Oh, you go too far. You deliberately go too far and then you build it back to where it should be. Otherwise you'll never know if you've gone far enough." I can't help but think that's the way the Minister of Natural Resources is viewing this. He's cutting back dramatically on firefighting crews and figuring that, "Well, you know, as problems arise, we'll fix it then." That's hard to do when you've got forest fires and the speed at which they move. I would simply say that I think the Ministry of Natural Resources needs to take a serious look at this.

I wanted to spend a moment on education, because one of the most publicized declarations of the Harris government has been that any cuts in education would not affect the classroom and that it would simply cut down on bureaucracy. Part of the symbolism of that, it seems to me, was the reduction of school boards and so forth, even though most of us know that's not where the real bucks are. The real bucks are in teachers and the classrooms themselves. That's where the real dollars are.

Mr Conway: That's about as far as you can go with Silipo sitting beside you.

Mr Laughren: I'd better not go any further, that's right, with the former Minister of Education beside me. There are two former ministers of education in the House this evening.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: That's not what Sweeney said.

Mr Conway: The Chairman of the Toronto Board, I did not claim --

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'll defend that too.

Mr Laughren: That's true, yes.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Mr Sweeney didn't agree.

Mr Silipo: He does and he's wrong.

Mr Laughren: As a matter of fact, I might even disagree with my colleague here. I don't have a problem with the reduction in the number of school boards. I'm quite open about that and I've always said that. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the pretence of the Minister of Education that he can take, what is it, $1 billion out -- it's already about half of that, and there's another big chunk to come out -- and that will not affect the classroom. I think that's wishful fissing -- wishful thinking.

Mr Conway: What was that?

Mr Laughren: I don't know what that was.

You cannot do that. You can't do it to that extent. You could reduce all the school boards, you could eliminate the school boards, and you won't save that kind of money. That's not where the dollars are spent.

I do believe we're headed for some tough times in education and that we need to be very mindful of that. It's become almost trite to say that the future of this province lies in our young people and that we must educate them because, believe me, out there around the world it's incredibly competitive, and that comes through the educational system.

I wanted to speak for a moment about northern Ontario, where the school boards have been joined together and some small boards are feeling really, really hard done by, and I think rightly so. There were boards that were known as isolate boards and they've been now lumped together with other boards. In an area which I represent or the member for Algoma represents, there are places like Chapleau, Hornepayne, White River, Michipicoten, Blind River, the Sault and Manitouwadge which are all being lumped together into one school board. The problem is that there are some of those communities that are small -- I'll give you an example in my own constituency.

If this unfolds the way the minister seems to want it to, Chapleau will have zero trustees when the new board is formed. They will not have any trustees at all. This was a community that had its own school board. To say now, "You're part of a larger board," is one thing, but to say, "You're part of a larger board with no representation on it whatsoever," that's another matter entirely.

I think the minister has to think about that. He either has to change the boundaries or lump some of the isolate boards together, separate from the Sault board in this case, or he has to say that we're going to allow these small boards to have representation on the new larger board. I think that's only fair, because you're really taking representation away from people completely who have had their own board, and I think that's fundamentally wrong.

The minister knows this, by the way. He's very much aware that that's a problem in the north. We'll see, because I get this uneasy feeling that -- that was a song by the Eagles. Anyway, I get this very uneasy feeling that the minister wants to do one thing and the bureaucracy wants to do another thing.

Mr Conway: What else is new?

Mr Laughren: "What else is new?" says the former Minister of Education. That's absolutely true. I think the Ministry of Education is not plugged into the small-p politics of the local community. They're not plugged into that at all. They've got a model and they want the ministry to adhere to that model. The minister understands better from listening to MPPs and others that there's a problem here, and I think he would like to fix it. It's going to be fascinating in the next week -- because I think it has to happen in the next week or so or it won't happen -- whether or not the minister is able to carry the day. I hope very much he does, and if he does I will applaud him for it because I think that's the right move to make.

As I said, I'm not coming at this from a position of no change. I happen to agree with the need to reduce the number of school boards. That's not my problem. My problem is to make sure that when it's done, it's done in a proper way, in such a way that the people in that local community don't feel it's completely disfranchised, which is what's happening to them under the present system, and that's wrong. I really believe that's wrong.

It's not dollars. I mean, what's it going to cost to give Chapleau one trustee on this larger board or to allow the smaller isolate boards to go together as one board? It's not a case of money at all. It's a case of whether or not the ministry has got its cookie cutter out and says: "That's it. We're not going to alter the borders on that cookie cutter." I think that's wrong.

I know I'm quickly running out of time. I did want to speak briefly on health care, because the government has made much to-do about spending more money in health care, not less. If this is true, you people have a communications problem. If not a problem, you've got a communications challenge. Perhaps I could put it more positively. You have to decide --

Mr Wettlaufer: Because you guys all spent it.

The Speaker: This is not a dialogue.

Mr Laughren: Thank you, Mr Speaker. For the member for Kitchener to be concerned about health care when he didn't mention family issues or family values in his speech I find passing strange.

I would simply say that the government has got a challenge in communicating its plans on health care, because not only is the population increasing but the population is aging. To simply say, "We're putting as much money in," or even more money in, doesn't deal with the problem; it doesn't deal with the problem at all. Not only that, you've got high technology in health care that's increasing the costs. You've got the increased population, the aging population and the increased costs of drugs and technology. If you put $400 million in, that doesn't mean you've got the equivalent level of health care that you had before, because of those problems.


I know it's a problem, because I can remember being in government and fretting over the increases in health care costs. As a matter of fact, we as a government ratcheted down the increase in health care costs from something like 11% a year to about 1% a year in increases. That was very, very tough, but we did that. The Ontario drug benefit program was increasing at 19% a year, and that's unacceptable. The system cannot sustain that. I'm saying that in terms of health care and in terms of the drug benefit program.

Mr Murdoch: You're starting to sound like a Conservative.

Mr Laughren: Well, we did ratchet down those programs, so I understand the problem. All I'm saying to the government members is that you've got a real challenge here. If you think you can kid the people in this province that you're putting more money into health care while the level of service is deteriorating, you've got a real task ahead of you, I want to tell you, because it's raised in the Legislature virtually every day, about waiting lists and about people dying and so forth. That's very, very tough.

Part of the problem is that you're closing hospitals and restructuring the hospital system, with which I agree in many ways, but you're not getting the community-based system in place while you do that or before you do that. That you're not doing, because you're trying to save money in the system, not simply restructure it. If you were trying to restructure it, you'd be doing the two in tandem. You'd be restructuring the hospital system while you built up the community-based long-term-care system. But that's not what you're doing. You're simply restructuring the hospital system and hanging the other part of the equation out to dry. That's why you're going to get into trouble and that's why the problems are raised in this Legislature day after day after day, because you're trying to have it both ways.

My own community is a good example, where you're closing two out of the three hospitals. My other two colleagues, the members for Sudbury East and Sudbury, I don't think are as enthusiastic as I about the need for hospital restructuring. But I happen to agree --

Mr Conway: Seniority has its advantages.

Mr Laughren: No, I'm not saying that. I think they have a right to their views and I'm not saying that I'm right or they're wrong. I personally think that's not a bad thing to do, but you've got to put in place the other half of the equation, community-based long-term care.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: And it's happening.

Mr Laughren: It's not happening. I live there. I can see what's happening and what's not happening, and it's simply not happening. I simply say that there's a challenge there for the government, and we'll see what happens, because the public will not tolerate a deterioration in our health care system. They will not tolerate it. You will pay a political price if you do that. That may not bother you, but I'm telling you that you will pay a price for that.

Mr Speaker, I know my time is about up, but I've enjoyed this exchange with members of the government party this evening and your attention to the remarks that have been made on all sides. I simply say that my only disappointment in this whole debate today has been the member for Kitchener. The fact, as I've said before, that he could speak for half an hour and not mention family values or family issues is a matter of great disappointment to me. I'm not important in this equation, but I can only imagine what his constituents are thinking.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure this evening to rise and participate in the debate on concurrence. The fundamental starting point for me has always been, where do we start? You have to look at where you came from. In fact, I think the most quoted line was the $1 million an hour that we were spending in servicing the debt, which the previous speaker from Nickel Belt maybe considered to be one of the causes of the dilemma of this very debate. A $100-billion debt, I guess you could fundamentally boil it down to being a family values issue, because we're leaving nothing for the future, we're leaving nothing for our children, our young people. The hope and opportunity had virtually disappeared.

Our government set about -- and we were elected, I might add, on a very fundamental foundation of fiscal prudence and wisdom, for which our finance minister, Ernie Eves, is certainly respected throughout the province, if not indeed the country. Most recently, his previous budget was a budget aimed at reducing spending and also reducing the amount of tax. That's exactly the premise of this government: to reduce spending on one side and to reduce taxation on the other side. They go hand in hand. We have to give the people of Ontario back the money that is rightfully theirs.

On May 6 it was just more good news. On May 6 our Minister of Finance introduced a budget which brought back hope and opportunity and prosperity to Ontario, to each and every citizen. I might say that under the leadership of Mike Harris our plan allows Ontarians to keep more of their hard-earned money while making priority investments in areas like health care, education and safe communities.

I'm going to try to go through and represent --


The Speaker: Member for Durham East, I just want to ask the members to come to order. I think it's important we give everyone the opportunity to speak and be heard.


The Speaker: Member for Kitchener, you're not being helpful.

Mr O'Toole: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate your interjections that allow me the opportunity to speak to the people who may be watching today and certainly the members in the House here this evening. This extended time for debate is very important for we backbenchers to have the chance to talk about the issues we're hearing about from the people in our ridings.

My riding of Durham East is a heavily industrial area; it's also an agricultural area. But if I look at the starting point, and I said we were spending $1 million each and every hour, and after a couple of budgets I'm reading that we're creating 1,000 jobs a day, who could argue? I think the plan is working. I think the fundamentals are very sound in economic principles.

I'm going to read some very good news things here. I think the opposition should listen. These are by renowned economists and bankers in Ontario and indeed Canada. They project the GDP growth, the gross domestic product growth, to 3.3% in 1997 and 3.6% in 1998. So indeed we have positive lines of growth in our economy. The underlying factor in growth in the economy is jobs. When you grow the economy, grow the output, obviously it creates employment, and employment is the fundamental behind all of this. Everyone has the right to a job. We're trying to create the climate for jobs. Government doesn't create jobs.

The real GDP growth is forecast at 3.3%, higher than the 3.2% projected. So all of our forecast predictions have been very modest, very fiscally sound and understated, if anything. In fact, when you read the final numbers this year, the deficit indeed was lower than the original forecast amount.

All of this, when you look at it in the context of how does Ontario, with its 11 million hardworking people, affect Canada, you've got to recognize that with 11 million people it represents about one third of the total population of this great country. With that kind of population, when you look at the jobs growth in Ontario and indeed Canada, the finance minister from the federal government has projected growth of some 700,000 new jobs. Of that, Ontarians have been getting more than their fair share; they've been getting two thirds of those net new jobs.

Our original commitment of 725,000 new jobs has to have the sound fundamentals of the economics in place to create the climate for growth for jobs and opportunity for our young people and in fact our existing workforce.


I'm going to try to go through it and just point out to members that the press, not all of which is always friendly, is always reporting what they see and what they observe without regard to the political party. Reading from the Toronto Star of yesterday, it says at the top, "Biz Rides Crest of Wave" -- the crest of the wave. That means that Ontario's economy is producing $354.8 billion worth of goods and services by the end of 1998 --

Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I notice that the government has failed again in its responsibility to ensure a quorum. Would you please conduct a quorum count?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you please check to see if there's a quorum present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Durham East.

Mr O'Toole: I know that many of the members have returned just to hear some of the enlightened comments my colleagues are liable to interject from time to time.

I'm trying to bring into focus the importance of the economics of our budget process and the fundamentals for creating jobs and hope and opportunity in Ontario. It's that confident climate that each one of us on both sides of the House is responsible for communicating to our population that indeed it is a great place to live, to work, to invest and to play.

Looking at it, I can say our plan is working. Why can I say it's working? I repeat, we're creating 1,000 jobs a day. Just think of it. I personally have five children, and a couple of them are looking for summer jobs. The jobs are there. I keep telling them that getting a job today is a job in itself. The government's job is not to create the job; it is to create the climate for investment, and the investment will create a job that is sustainable without government spending.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business had a statement on May 6 from Judith Andrew: "The proof is in the pudding. It's already starting to work. You are seeing more money rolling into the provincial coffers than ever. To have the growth in the economy, you have to have policies that are working." It's clear that small independent businesses, represented by the federation, are confident that our policies are the right policies to create jobs, hope and opportunity.

There were a couple of relevant comments made, and I'm going to refer to this important little booklet. Any person in Ontario can contact your MPP and you will be able to get a copy of this important, small, very readable document that outlines the fundamentals of our present budget, and indeed it targets where we intend to be by 1999-2000: with a balanced budget. That's a promise made; it will be a promise kept. You can count on our leader. We're doing exactly what we promised. There's no surprise.

The plan is working. We're willing to adjust the plan by listening and responding to the economy and applying the right factors to make the economy work for the people of Ontario, not to put up barriers to growth and opportunity but to create that growth and opportunity by eliminating the red tape and the barriers to growth.

One of the main factors I want to focus on, that the member for Nickel Belt mentioned, is health care. Our minister, Jim Wilson, is widely respected for having a very solid grasp of the fundamentals in the restructuring that is necessary in health care. The member for Beaches-Woodbine, a previous Minister of Health, said very clearly that restructuring in health care is necessary. That's what we are doing. We have the Health Services Restructuring Commission, led by Duncan Sinclair, at arm's length to the province. There were some 9,000 empty beds in Ontario. The two previous governments, both the Liberal and the NDP, were responsible for the policies that closed beds, in fact closed complete floors in some hospitals. What we are doing is reconsolidating, with the assistance of a very professional board under Duncan Sinclair. Dr Sinclair has come forward to provide some guidelines and some recommendations to our minister for the restructuring of health care.

But in my riding, just a couple of weeks ago, we announced the opening of the MRI at the Oshawa General Hospital. A week or so later, we announced some $8.1 million for long-term care. Just recently put in place in Durham region, effective June 1, was the community care access centre. That volunteer board has worked very hard to make the transition from the duplication and overbureaucratic process of delivering long-term care to getting people the care they need in their homes.

If you look at health care as one issue, it's the biggest ministry. We were spending, when we came into government, $17.4 billion. What has the government committed to spend on health care? I'm going to ask the member for Nickel Belt if he is paying attention. What are we committed to in this budget? Is it more than $17.4 billion? Is it, in your view, a wise thing to examine the priorities and to restructure the delivery of health care? That being said, we're spending $18.5 billion on health care, so we're not spending less on health care.

For people listening, I know there is a great deal of unease and uncertainty. We have dealt with the doctor group and we have an agreement with the OMA. It's the first time in many years that we have had a working agreement with the Ontario Medical Association. Our doctors are the keystone to the delivery of health care. We have to have stability and a climate for negotiation and debate. We've done that. Our minister has put in place a working understanding with the doctors, but indeed they're going to look at the fee-for-service schedule, certainly they are.

With technology changes in health care, for example, someone who was getting a cataract operation some years ago may have been in the hospital for a week; now it's a laser treatment and it's a much different process. Internal medicine used to be open-cavity surgery; now we have in place laparoscopic surgery. With new technology, much of the internal medicine is handled on an outpatient basis. That frees up hospital beds, but what do they need? The patient needs a solid, well-developed, well-defined home care plan.

The community care access centre for Durham region -- in fact, there are 43 community care access centres across the province -- is a one-stop shop for the patient, the family and the support group for that family to call and get, with the advice of the doctors and the other care providers, the care they need in their home. The medical evidence is very clear that patients recover much quicker with the diet and accommodations in their own homes, provided the supports are there.

I think I had agreement from the member for Nickel Belt that health care has to be restructured. We're putting the money in place. We're putting the services in place closer to home, the right service in the right place for the patient. That's the most important thing: patient-focused health care.

I'll just wrap up on health care. I've been to many meetings with the Ontario Nursing Association. I have attended some of their town hall meetings and I have met with them in my constituency office, as I know many members have. The integrated health care plan is a very important part of this. All the partners, the nurses, the doctors and the other health care providers must work together to make the most efficient use of hardworking taxpayers' dollars. Don't forget this is the largest ministry. We're committing more money. If you look at the restructuring, we're committing both capital dollars, that is, for restructuring in Sudbury, Windsor and other parts of the province; we're putting in place the capital dollars for the modernized facilities, the technology. And we've got agreement with the doctors. It's my understanding, my belief and my commitment that health care will be there for the people. It just needs the doctors and all the health care workers to work together. They're scarce dollars and they must be spent prudently.


When I think about the budget, one of the main factors is that about 90% of all the employers in Ontario are small businesses, that is, with under 20 employees. They need a less bureaucratic, more of a one-window approach, and our Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Mr Tsubouchi, has done a fine job to put in place the business registration aspect. We have one in Durham, where the small business operator can go in and register the business for tax and other kinds of requirements, for licensing, one place to shop, closer to home. We're doing it in Durham. I'm sure we're doing it across the rest of the province, a very important part.

But there was another important initiative in the budget I'd like to refer to, that I'm rather proud of. A small group, Joe Spina, myself, Rob Sampson, Jim Brown and a number of members, worked with the Minister of Finance and the deputy minister, Michael Gourley, to put in place access to capital. If you get calls in your constituency office like I do, small business people, entrepreneurs, people who may have lost their jobs through restructuring in the economy, need working capital. What was happening was that many of the banks took as much time to develop and analyse a business plan for a $1-million loan as they did for a $50,000 loan.

The access to capital plan does a couple of things. First of all, it sets up the community pool of access to funds. The working ventures funds, the labour-sponsored investment funds, were a rather restrictive group of funds, perhaps weren't investing in small business as aggressively as they should have. They've been encouraged to expand that sector of pools of access to capital.

Also, the banks are taxed on the profits made from loans. Now they're able to earn back some of the tax on that profit from their loan department by lending to small business. Those are businesses with loans under $500,000, indeed under $50,000. It's important that the banks are there, are open for business and are taking care of the needs of small business.

As I said, 93% of all employers are small business. Every economist, whether it's David Foot in Boom, Bust and Echo, are all saying that home-based businesses, the small, customer-focused, niche market kinds of business, are the growth industry of the future. This government, our minister and our Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism are putting in place a new infrastructure, an infrastructure that recognizes the importance of small business.

There are other aspects in our access to small business. The employer health tax was mentioned during the election. That aggressive tax on a job -- put in place, I might add, by the Liberal government when they were in power -- has been replaced. Any payroll under $400,000 eventually will not pay -- it's being phased in -- any employer health tax. That's a tax on jobs. I could immediately turn this conversation into some dialogue that I'm sure is occurring at a higher level between our Minister of Finance and Paul Martin at the federal level. When you look at the tax on jobs, at things like premiums on workers' compensation, that's really a tax on jobs. We must be fair, we must be competitive with the other provinces of this great country.

Also, the Canada pension plan has had a 70% increase in premiums. That's a tax on jobs. Why would an employer create a job when, first of all, he assumes part of the $11-billion deficit of the WCB? That's $4,000 per employee. You sign an employee in and you assume a liability of $4,000. That's just one thing. Then you have the employer health tax, then you have the commitment to CPP, then you have the UI fund, or the EI fund, I guess it's called now. The EI fund is creating a huge surplus. That huge surplus at the federal government level is coming into general revenue, and that general revenue is coming from employers who pay into the fund. That fund is creating a surplus that goes into general revenue and is helping the federal government pay down part of the deficit. Who's really paying it? The employer and the employee, working people. It's just another tax.

Our minister has made it very clear that we want to reduce the EI premiums, we want to offset the increased premiums in the CPP fund long before we ever talk about the whole harmonization issue. The GST-PST harmonization, in my view, is not on. Why? Because it really is a net tax grab, and this province isn't about taxes. Our minister is for less taxes.

I think most members have heard the argument about the tax break for the rich. Indeed there is going to be a tax break, but about 90% of the tax break actually is applied to about 90% of the middle-income working group. Everyone can cite the exceptions at the end of the spectrum, the people making huge sums. Perhaps they don't make it forever, but they make $500,000 or more per year. Of course they'll get a larger tax break because they pay more tax, but if you are in the working income group, you will get in excess of a 30% tax break when fully implemented.

That money -- some call it the trickle-down effect, trickle-down economics. That's not true. The theory, well developed in other jurisdictions, is that your revenue, that is, the amount of income the government receives, actually increases by reducing tax. Just imagine it. I want you to dwell on that for a moment. In many jurisdictions throughout the free world, we've taxed people so hard that we've driven about 20% of the economy underground.

By reducing tax and making legitimate businesses address the fairness in taxation, by paying less tax you're putting in more revenue. It'll create jobs, and with more jobs there are more people earning income, and more income is more revenue for the province. Indeed, the net outfall of all this is that there's more income for the federal government as well.

We're reducing the personal income tax at the provincial level by 30%. That's a commitment. We're doing it, and that'll put money in your pocket to spend, disposable income that you don't have today. The government has it. Ask yourself the question, how wisely have they been spending it? Look at the last 10 years of spending. In the last 10 years spending has increased dramatically. The debt has doubled. We've got questionable levels of service, very little accountability, and at the end of the day we've increased spending to in excess of a $12-billion deficit every single year. We're reducing government spending, reducing taxation, increasing revenue. Our plan is on target. We're going to have a balanced budget by the year 2000-01. You can count on it.

It's not just a vain promise. I don't have the time to fully develop the concise arguments necessary in the fundamentals: working with small business, working to reduce the regulations and red tape, and putting in place a government that has a view of optimism and working with small business, working with all business to have fairness and equity. Hard work should be rewarded. There's nothing wrong with the word "profit." All Canadians should be able to keep the money they work for and earn.

I believe we're a very generous society as well. I can assure you, in my riding of Durham East, when it comes to things like the United Way or fund-raising for community projects -- just recently I was at the Memorial Library in Port Perry in Scugog township. Local people, a small Rotary Club and a small trust fund, raised $19,000 to commission an Internet site, which was a wonderful success. The students there who wouldn't have a computer and an Internet location at home are now able to have that whole access to the World Wide Web and the globalized world we're living in.

Mike Harris and our government didn't invent the globalized world. All we did was recognize it. We have to recognize who we're in competition with. We're doing that in education. Our Minister of Education, Mr Snobelen, has announced a new funding model which is being consulted and developed now by all the people in Ontario. If you need a booklet, call my office and you'll get one of the booklets.


I'm looking at the funding for each student in the classroom. We're putting the funding with the student and having a classroom focus for spending. The teacher and the student are the essential ingredients of a sound educational system. We've grown to a point where there are suggestions that there are too many boards, too many big board offices, too many conventions and too much money being spent outside the classroom. Not for a moment do I blame the teachers -- not for a moment.

I believe our new curriculum, which the minister has developed in consultation with educators, is a solid example of setting high standards, providing the supports, providing the resources so our children will be competitive in a globalized world. I think it's commendable. I've heard from parents. Indeed, I heard from teachers just this evening. I called one of the teachers who is very satisfied that the curriculum is indeed a challenge.

Our teachers are professional people and all this criticism -- of course, any change is going to cause some aggravation and anxiety, and I expect the opposition members to be in opposition to everything we say. That's their role. I'm not sure I'd want that role, but we listen.

I believe our educational system is responsive to the needs of the students first, the needs of the teachers second and the needs of the parents together. The councils in our schools need to be supported. The province addressed education funding, in my view, by saying: "We want equity. We want all children in Ontario, whether in Timmins or Toronto, or Gananoque or Durham, to have the same access to a solid, high-quality education, so we're going to provide those resources."

I can tell you, in my runup to the whole discussion on education, it was clear that some areas were spending in excess of $8,000 per student and in my area one of our boards was spending less than $6,000 per student. Those same children are going to be at the employer's window, looking for a job. They need to have equity in education. This government said -- and it was mentioned by the Fair Tax Commission, it was mentioned by the Royal Commission on Learning -- that the province should fund education. We've done it. We've delivered on our promises. That's a very important commitment and I believe it will work. Of course we have to work together. We have to work as partners with the educators, the parents and the students to make the system work.

I believe as opposition goes it's a tough role. I respect Mr Laughren and the tough times you've had, but we're trying to create a climate for growth and opportunity.

I don't want to turn any negative blow on this, but I have a book here which I read as a reference point for what you shouldn't do.

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): Is that the pink book?

Mr O'Toole: Watch your television. You may have to adjust your colour.

This isn't humorous. I'm quoting directly from the document which was a platform. The very first thing that pops out at me, and I'm just reading it at random, is, "We will provide a tax cut of 5%." They didn't put it down in real money. They also said they would balance the budget in four years.

Now wait a minute here: 5% of $55 billion, you've got to figure that one out. Then you've got to add on that they're going to reduce the deficit. That's another $12 billion. So they're talking $20 billion. That amounts to reducing the amount of government spending. Where were they going to reduce the spending? Ask yourselves. The two main ministries are education and health care. Then they say in the same breath that they aren't going to cut health care and they aren't going to cut education. Of course, when you have a book like this, I'm not sure anybody knew what they were going to do, including them.

Our plan is working. If I were to pick up some of the many newspaper articles here -- I'd encourage you to read the paper carefully every day. The economic news is there. I was just reading about the member for Nepean and 5,000 new jobs at Northern Telecom. That's just one example of a high-tech industry that sees the right climate for investment and growth. In my view -- I confront anyone in this House tonight -- this plan is working. The promises made will be the promises kept. You can count on it that by the year 2000 you will have more spending money in your pocket, there won't be a $12-billion deficit and the kids in our family values coalition, as Mr Laughren said, will have a brighter future.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): It's always such a pleasure to get up and speak after the fiction is finished and we can get back to some real-life Ontario.

Naturally I wish to speak to the budget and the post-budget effects on Ontario, not just this year's but last year's too. With some fanfare the minister announced all of these wonderful goodies in the package for Ontarians, and just as reported in the press, he managed to give just a little bit of something to everybody, but upon close inspection what we realized was that it was a lot of the same old machinations that we had over the budget last year. As a matter of fact, when we went to check our books and the government's books, the government didn't spend the money they said they'd spend last year.

The area of children's services is probably the best example and one that I might like to focus on today, because I think if a government has any responsibility to anyone in a regular and consistent manner in this province, it's to the children of Ontario.

I have to say too that I'm always amused actually at the members who come in at this late hour to speak and the things they say and feel we just simply won't know about. Here's a gentleman from Durham who gets up and talks about all the benefits of the economy and the boom where he comes from. I find it interesting that he doesn't mention the kinds of calls that I know his constituency office receives in relation to children and in particular children with disabilities.

I spent some time myself in the Durham region. In fact, I attended a town hall with the Durham Family Network. How very interesting at that meeting to see no local MPP representing the Durham area who had the nerve to show up and explain to parents why in your Common Sense Revolution you promised that you would not cut aid to the disabled. Here we have the most vulnerable children in Ontario, those children with disabilities, and you don't have the nerve to show up at a town hall in your own backyard and explain to these parents why two years ago they were getting a certain number of hours of special services at home and this year, after your magical promises in your revolution, you are making these families suffer even more because what they have is fewer services at home.

Many of these children who are disabled have parents who are elderly and becoming more elderly as years go by, and their needs increase. When they look to their community and they look to their governments for some support, in particular for families like these that are the most vulnerable, they find that they can't turn to this government, even though in this Common Sense Revolution, wending its way through Ontario, that's what you promised.

I'd like to talk about the promises Mike Harris made to Ontario and to my Windsor community as he left his airplane motor still running on the tarmac while he skirted over just to the curb of the airport during that campaign. The people in Essex county remember that the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party didn't have the nerve to come through our ridings during that election. He left the airplane running, for heaven's sake, and probably dodged the propeller to get over to the curb so he could stand on the curb and say the most ridiculous things.

On behalf of the people of Essex county, to the Premier of Ontario, I invite you to come back to Essex county today. Let me tell you, that red carpet will be rolled out for you for sure and I personally will welcome you to my riding. I'd like to take you down the streets of the Windsor Western Hospital neighbourhood. The bulk of the people who live around the residential area of the Windsor Western Hospital also happen to work at the hospital. The hospital system in Windsor and Essex county has suffered significant blows in terms of layoffs, in particular nursing staff.


The Speaker: Members, could you please come to order?

Mr Murdoch: Well --

The Speaker: Member for Grey-Owen Sound, there's no "well." Could you just please come to order? Thank you. Member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Pupatello: Thank you. I understand they'd be a little bit embarrassed by the behaviour of their Premier during the last election. He said some of the most ridiculous things, quite frankly, and I think it will come home to roost, and in fact has already started. You can't go out there with these populist themes and just say all of these things that you never have any intention of committing to when you become government. It's so easy to sit in the opposition like you did for 10 years and say all the most ridiculous things, then prepare your election platform document and go and make commitments to everybody and anybody. The very people you are hurting most likely voted for you because you weren't being completely up front with them in terms of what exactly you were going to do with them.


A perfect example is the area of welfare. Here are some very vulnerable individuals in our community, people who are desperately looking for work. Historically, in the Windsor area, we found with people who receive welfare benefits that as the economy booms, the welfare rates drop. If any of the MPPs in this House would go to their own delivery agents of the welfare system, they would find that same fabulous phenomenon. When there are jobs available, the welfare rates drop. It's that simple. But no, this government has to give people the extra little boot right off the system so that, in effect, at the end you cost the same taxpayers more money.

There are four significant criteria that people meet when they go on to the welfare system. The public probably doesn't realize it is as stringent as it is and as difficult as it is. You need to be looking for work, so everyone who goes to apply needs to be looking for work. You need to be employed perhaps on a part-time basis, but not receiving enough funding that can sustain you and/or your family. You have to be enrolled in some kind of education or training program. The fourth, which is the only one you added in this magical Ontario Works program announced with all this fanfare but no real information, is that you are now making them go into community service.

You go out there and you don't tell people what you're really doing. You actually make the most vulnerable people believe you're giving them some hope for a job, and the reality in communities these days is that life is not that simple. You can't just send them out there to volunteer at some local charity and think that will magically lead to a job.

The economy and a boom will lead to jobs. The very things that people need in education and training are the keys to giving people a real hand up. That was your rhetoric that you guaranteed the people of Ontario and you have not delivered on it. What you did was to cut adult education programs right across the board. The very things to get these people into meaningful jobs are education and training, and you cut those programs. It makes absolutely no sense to have done that and yet that's what you've done.

I feel very badly for the people. I have a volunteer, a retiree, a former businesswoman, who comes into my office and does volunteer work out of my constituency doing counselling for jobs. The very first thing I noticed in my office was that we have a number of people in Windsor-Sandwich who are looking for work and invariably the issues come down to their training. In Ontario we have a significant problem, not with the majority of the workforce but with the unskilled workforce, that you must recognize, and you must tailor your government programs to help people who are unskilled.

In my community they tend to be middle-aged immigrant people who, when they came to our area, didn't have the benefit of the English-as-a-second-language program. They have had plant shutdowns. People haven't been able to find themselves another job like the one they left, and now they find themselves with no skills. They've been in a plant for the last 20 or 25 years. Many of them are of a variety of ethnic backgrounds. These are the people you are now classifying, as you have since your election date, as those lazy people feeding off the system. I have known some of these people for a long time, and I'll tell you what they need is a real hand up and real education and training programs to give them those opportunities. I find the legislation you introduced last week absolutely punitive. You simply were not up front with the public to tell them what the real story was and what you should be doing as a government to help people.

I notice too that our member from Durham didn't make any notes about what was reported in the Port Perry press when he was just in Port Perry for the opening of something or other: "O'Toole hints he has already had enough." He says, "O'Toole is frustrated over poor response," and he's finding that in fact the people in his riding are not all that supportive, as he would profess that they would be here tonight in the chamber.

We've noticed a whole number of things recently, some of the very difficult things in the area of education --

Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm sorry to interrupt the member for Windsor-Sandwich, but I think her speech is so important that there should be a quorum here for it.

The Speaker: Is a quorum present?

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

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Sandwich.

Mrs Pupatello: I'd like to ask the member for Durham, who's so proud of the behaviour of his government, did he know that when he ran for office he was going to have phone installation and construction costs and all these wonderful things added to the Premier's office? Did he know you were going to spend millions of dollars of taxpayers' money refurbishing all of the carpet in the Premier's office? Did he say he was going to spend $77,000 on new carpet for the Premier?

Premier, let's make a comparison; $77,000 of new carpeting in the Premier's office here in the Whitney Block likely would have helped four to five families in the riding of Durham East, families who have children with disabilities, families who need special services at home.

I see the member for Durham has decided to sit behind me because he thinks this is so funny. Let me tell you that the families who are not getting these services, whose children are disabled, whom you promised you would not hurt with your policies, are the people I hope are watching the member for Durham East while he goes on in his buffoonery in talking about these things. What we know is that there have been really hurtful, damaging things done to the people in Ontario because of the Ontario government policy, whether that's because of workfare that's going to come through that does not provide child care --


Mrs Pupatello: The dupe behind me I think is going to be seen for what he really is shortly. In any event, there --

The Speaker: I caution you.

Mrs Pupatello: Thanks, Speaker. We talked about Ontario Works a moment earlier. You didn't allow for child care in this concept of Ontario Works. In fact, even in last year's budget when you put $40 million for child care, you knew in Metro Toronto you had a waiting list of 8,500 people who are looking to put their children in some kind of child care so that they can go out and look for a job, and you didn't even spend the money you put in the budget last year. So now you've got the gall to come out with a budget again and tell us you're giving child tax credits for child care. You didn't even do what you said you would do last year and you've got the nerve to stand up and say, "We're doing what we said we were going to do."

Did you tell the Ontario people you were adding user fees every time you turn around, that our count at last date is over 1,000 new user fees in Ontario compliments of Premier Mike Harris? Is that what he said when he came to the curb at the airport while he left his airplane running because he didn't have the nerve to walk down the streets of the riding of Windsor-Sandwich with the candidate from the PC Party during the election? I invite the Premier to come back to Windsor-Sandwich today.

Moreover, come back to Windsor-Riverside which has been without an MPP for months already. We've been waiting for a by-election call. Our candidate Gary McNamara is already canvassing the doors. Do you know what he's found out? He's found out that being a Liberal member in this House is a very effective opposition to the bully bulldozer approach of Premier Mike Harris and I hope the people of Windsor-Riverside are going to acknowledge that. As soon as he's got the gall to call a by-election in Windsor-Riverside, we can get busy again and convince the people that here's what it took.

It took the Liberal Party to reinstate those drug user fees that this government put on seniors. Mr Manzone on Lesperance Road, lest we forget, was the first man to say to me very clearly from Windsor-Riverside: "How many months in a year? Does anybody up there know how to count?" Because you stole money from those seniors in Ontario and it took the Liberal caucus to get that reinstated.

When you've got the gall or the nerve to call a by-election in Ontario, specifically in Windsor-Riverside, we plan to invite Premier Mike Harris out. Come walk down the streets of Essex county so we can tell you how we really feel about your government.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I'm disappointed that I have but a minute and 43 seconds. I suppose this is how all of us are going to feel once the jackboots hit the floor and debate --


The Speaker: I would ask the member for Welland-Thorold to withdraw.

Mr Kormos: Withdraw. This is what it's going to be like once the second shoe drops and debate in this place is shut down in its entirety so that members who dare -- and I predict that it will only be government backbenchers who dare stand up and speak, unless they've had dispatch orders and written remarks prepared for them.

Mr Pouliot: Boot camp.

Mr Kormos: The alternatives are clear. The alternatives will be boot camp or simply booted out. The lessons have been taught by the member for up around Grey-Owen Sound area. He got the boot. We recall what he had to say about this government. The member for somewhere around Oakville got the boot. We know what he had to say. My friend the member for Wentworth North, Mr Skarica, got the boot. Why? Because they had the courage to speak their minds. They had the courage to try to confront their government and to try to reveal their government for being -- well, it's a dictatorship. That's what Toni Skarica said. It's a dictatorship.

The Speaker: Thank you, Mr Kormos. Your time is up.

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Education and Training. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

I have just received in my hand a note:

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Education and Training be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997." From the chief government whip.

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Health. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

I've received in my hand a note:

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Health be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997." Chief government whip.

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Transportation. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Transportation be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997. Thank you for your assistance in this matter."


The Speaker: It will be deferred.

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

Nothing up my sleeve. Presto.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

Mr Bradley: Mr Speaker, on a point of order --

The Speaker: Yes, he can be in the wrong seat.

Mr Bradley: Is that right?

The Speaker: Yes.

Mr Bradley: So if we had somebody in a seat right here --

The Speaker: You could. You do have somebody in a seat right there.


The Speaker: Sometimes you just can't resist.

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Natural Resources. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Natural Resources be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

Mr Johnson has moved concurrence in supply for the Office of Francophone Affairs. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I would like to request the vote on concurrence in supply for the Office of Francophone Affairs be deferred until immediately after question period on June 19, 1997."

That's all? We were just into a roll here.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 129, An Act to stimulate job growth, to reduce taxes and to implement other measures contained in the 1997 Budget / Projet de loi 129, Loi visant à stimuler la croissance de l'emploi, à réduire les impôts et à mettre en oeuvre d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1997.

M. Gilles Pouliot (Lac Nipigon): Plus tôt, vous vous souviendrez bien sûr, que l'occasion était donnée aux membres de l'Assemblée législative de parler sur le dernier budget. Même M. Conway a profité de cette occasion pour se prononcer un discours d'une éloquence tout à fait particulière.

It was earlier on that we had the chance under estimates/supply to say a few words about the 1997 Ontario budget and the very painful legacy that this document will have on the people of Ontario, and more specifically, those who are marginalized, those who can least defend themselves, those who are vulnerable. The erosion of the middle class is very evident in the document. It's an encouragement for most people not to get richer, not to go forward but to go backward, for the prejudice, the bias is for those who are already very rich.

Bill 129, on the other hand, is composed of two elements. On the one side, you have some housekeeping which emanates after every budget. Our party, our caucus certainly has no intention of delaying the good work of the House and we will ensure our cooperation with the government in terms of those on Bill 129.


However, let me deal with part I, the Income Tax Act: The personal income tax rate is being reduced to 48% of basic federal for 1997 and being further reduced to 45% of basic federal tax for the 1998 and subsequent taxation years. Earlier on this afternoon I had the opportunity to share with you the opinion of the bond rating agencies: that of Standard and Poor's, based in New York, the Canadian Bond Rating Service, operating out of Montreal, and Dominion Bond Rating Service of Toronto. Those are the people who have spent the past several weeks poring over the books. They've made it their business to scrutinize, to conduct due diligence on the books of large borrowers, and you will attest that the province of Ontario continues to be plagued by decisions to borrow even more.

The decision stems that you can't have it eight different ways. In our personal lives, good advice is to pay your debts. If you have a deficit with credit cards, you do everything to accelerate payments. Then after, you will reap some of the rewards. But the government has not done this. The government has systematically and deliberately, with those tax cuts, made it very difficult to increase the amount of money coming in under the PIT, the provincial income tax, which is, grosso modo, some one third of government revenue.

So the government has gone on a bender, on one big-time party. They've gone to borrow more. Ontarians can no longer shoulder or suffice the debts, so we have to go abroad. When you go abroad, it makes you more vulnerable. You pay the price, for you must compete. So we're in Japanese yen, we're in Deutschmarks, we're in sterling, les francs français, les francs suisses; name it, we're right at the marketplace with cap in hand.

It does not have to be this way, not at all. We have a recovery which is not accompanied by an increase in jobs. We have a recovery which is not accompanied by increased revenues. In fact it is forecast, predicted, that this year, in 1997, in spite of this robust recovery, the government will take in less money than it did the year before, 1996. The simple reason is that there are fewer dollars; there's a tax cut.

The tax cut in a more prosperous climate after the budget has been balanced, after the debt is starting to be attacked, would paint us another opportunity, a more positive one, a better story indeed. But no, the government has chosen to reward those who are making a big salary, because if you don't make a big buck, you find out that on the one hand the few dollars that you save from the tax cut you'll pick up at the property tax levy, because they're downloading to the municipalities.

Starting on January 1, your township, where you reside, will take on added responsibilities, and they won't fork over the dollars. They will have to pay for that. They'll have to find the extra money. So the small tax cut will take on insignificant proportion. You will hardly notice it. But when you pay piecemeal for services that you never paid for before, the likelihood that more money will come out of your pocket for the same services is real. In fact, we could be in negative territory because la payola, the insatiable appetite of those who make enormous salaries surpassing, exceeding, a quarter of a million dollars a year -- those are the people who will benefit the most.

Can you imagine if you hit it lucky? Good fortunes don't pass you by but they stick to you. Is it morally acceptable to have -- and I want to wish them well, but I must give you names. They are good people, they have a conscience, but look at the reality of a Frank Stronach. Mr Stronach made well over $35 million last year with bonuses and with options and with salary. That's $35 million in one year. I see you shaking your head. One person, one year: $35 million. That person will save well over $1 million. That's just the saving on the last two instalments. At the same time, you will hear the deafening sound of a padlock on hospitals.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My apologies to Mr Pouliot, but it's incredibly important that there be quorum here, sir, in view of what he has to say to us, and there isn't one.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Would you please check to see if there is a quorum.

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Pouliot: I realize that with respect to government members it is, after all, their responsibility to ensure that we have 20 members present.

The Acting Speaker: We are debating Bill 129.

Mr Pouliot: I'm very much aware that it's 9:30 in the evening and I know that some of the very plush establishments --

The Acting Speaker: Order. We're on Bill 129.

Mr Pouliot: Yes, Bill 129, that was dreamed and concocted probably at the Toronto Club or one of those plush establishments that the democratic class does not have access to. I'm on Bill 129, Mr Speaker. Monsieur le Président, permettez-moi.


Allow me a slight departure from form. I wish to thank the people -- they're here this evening, they've given up yet one more evening and I know many weekends -- with the Ministry of Finance. At every opportunity we are extended as critics the courtesy of extensive briefing. They go well beyond the call of duty to make sure in a non-partisan fashion that the legislation about to be presented is shared equally with the parties of the opposition. I, for one, very much appreciate it and it must be said.

Alas, I cannot in conscience convey the same compliment, the same sentiment to the politicos, to the political masters, the gouvernement du jour, the government of the day. When I see through the legislation that is in front of us that meshing, the web that portrays the Common Sense Revolution being propelled forward, crushing the aspirations, the life of some people, this cannot go under silence. There are Ontarians -- women, men, children, seniors -- who are hurting and shouldn't be hurting.

The government has a responsibility to do what is morally right. Ask yourself, sir: Does it make any sense for someone who makes $38 million a year -- I know it's extreme, but it's a true story -- to pocket one more million dollars in a tax allowance while at the same time hospitals will be closing? To me, it doesn't make all that much sense.

I hear some of the government members say: "What about my children? What kind of future will my children have?" Well, your children, Madame, Monsieur, will be doing very fine. They're privileged by virtue of the family doing quite well. If you're working here, you're doing quite well, thank you. I wish that when we say "children" we would say "other children who are not doing too well."

This country is magnificent. The United Nations has just again, for the fourth consecutive year, proclaimed that Canada is the best country in the world to live in, but it issued some reservations. It said that child poverty was a problem. It also mentioned and warned about the effect, about the tragedy of youth unemployment. The sad reality is that in Ontario, if you are between the ages of 16 and 24, you have one chance in five of not being able to find work.

I don't see anything in the budget that focuses on youth unemployment, that is specifically developed, addressed to our young women, our young men in Ontario between the ages of 16 and 24. Oh, there's a roll of the dice, a game of chance that if we create the climate manna from heaven will come down, will descend, and somehow you'll find a job; you'll be able to flip at the service place, à la McDonald's. You'll get a job maybe at the minimum wage level. I know some members opposite, because I've read their comments in the press and the media, believe that the minimum wage is too high, that it saps the competition -- I mean too high for them. They ought to try living on it if they feel it's too high.

People can choose to disregard their own making. There is hardly one ministry that hasn't been gutted. The Ministry of Environment is a mere shell of what it used to be. The polluters got season's tickets, front row centre. They've given them the key to the marketplace. There's hardly anyone working there any more. They're supposed to monitor themselves, and while many will, some will not. In many cases you have to come down fairly hard on those people.

The document -- and I know I am going beyond the reasons for the amendments, but the amendments that are being presented are rather facile, of a facile nature. There is nothing too complex about them. They make it possible to go through the process. In this case, the devil is not in the detail. The culprit is in this document. This is a living document. I can assure you it calls for difficult reading again. People are saying, "Stop borrowing." You have a choice. Either you hit the tax cut -- it's $5.4 billion that you'll have to find someplace; no free lunch, no secrets. Where will you find it? Pray for an ongoing recovery. You're about to mug the teachers. They're next in line. The jig's up. The number came up. There's a billion dollars coming out of the teachers. You know that.

If you're a member of the medical profession -- ie, if you're a doctor -- then the members will say you belong to the best union. The doctors, you see, did get some compensation. It's going to cost the province about $500 million more. I know they provide the most essential of services, but talk to me about the people who need it most.

It goes on and on and on, a missed opportunity. Times are pretty good. This recovery is export-driven. Consumers are starting to spend more. On the other hand, some of the excesses of the 1980s are still with us. Consumer debt is at a record high and that's not all that encouraging. The plastic has been going full-time and people have to pay.

You have fewer savings, therefore. We're at an all-time low. Fewer than 25% of the people are maximizing their RRSP opportunities. The average retirement savings plan in Ontario, unfortunately, as elsewhere in Canada, is around $30,000 to $31,000. More people than ever have had to go to the RRSP pool of money to take out a few dollars so they can manage and round out the month -- this in a period of prosperity? No boom, bust, echo.

Demographics are two thirds of everything indeed, and if you believe this you should be able to present a super proposal and a timetable that give you a direction of where you will spend your service money. Sixty-five per cent of health money is spent on people who are 65 or over. It's a given that individually we shall consume more health money in the last two years of our lives than we did all the previous years, and with the demographics -- and it's galloping, it's coming; it's all of us -- you will have some added responsibilities and they will have to be addressed.

I see my friend and colleague the minister responsible for seniors. He knows that each and every month in Ontario thousands of people are added not only to the drug program but to supplementary programs. Most of his budgets are open-ended. You have to pay. It's going to cost more. Even if you amend whatever formulary, it's going to cost more.

We have five members; fully one third of our caucus is present, Mr Speaker. There's so much to digest, so much that one could say. Can I suggest to you that I move adjournment of the debate, Mr Speaker?

The Acting Speaker: Mr Pouliot has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the wish of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members. There will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 2142 to 2212.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Ruprecht has moved adjournment of the debate.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Who?

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry. Mr Pouliot has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are seven; the nays are 35.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

My apologies to the member for Parkdale. Further debate?

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'm pleased to continue debate on Bill 129. As you'll recall, this bill implements key measures of our plan to set Ontario on a course towards hope, opportunity and prosperity. The Minister of Finance introduced a budget on May 6 with several key goals: to remove the burden of debt from our children's shoulders, to let hardworking Ontarians keep more of their money, and to focus on priority services like health care, classroom education and community safety, and also to create a climate of sustainable economic growth and jobs.

Bill 129 delivers on these goals. It delivers on our government's promise to cut taxes, it delivers on our government's commitments to invest in research and development, it delivers on our government's commitment to make Ontario communities safer for our children.

Bill 129 implements the next steps on our personal income tax by reducing the Ontario personal income tax rate from 49% to 48% of basic federal tax for 1997, and to 45% of basic federal tax for 1998. We are delivering on the 30% tax cut. This government is committed to creating an environment that will attract investment to our province and thereby create jobs for Ontarians.

Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Referring specifically to standing order 23(d) which reflects long-standing tradition -- I'm sure the member for Nepean would be familiar with it -- and which prohibits people from reading speeches, the member clearly was reading his speech. That's contrary to the standing order. The standing orders require you to call the member to order if indeed he conducts himself in this unparliamentary manner.

The Acting Speaker: I want to address my comments to the member for Welland-Thorold. Indeed that is a point of order. But the standing order says "at length." I think it is quite common to refer to written material for short periods of time. I'll try to keep a count of that.

Mr Grimmett: I want to continue with my discussion about Bill 129. Bill 129 implements the sales tax exemption for machinery, equipment and processing materials used for both manufacturing and in research and development. Bill 129 extends the sales tax exemption to include equipment used for research and investigation purchased by non-profit medical research institutions.

Most importantly, Bill 129 deals with the litany of debt that was created by the previous government. It was certainly heartwarming to me to listen to the comments of the member for Lake Nipigon, who went on and on to caution our government about the perils of debt. I can recall September 6, 1990, a day that will go down in infamy in Ontario history. It was the day the NDP achieved power in Ontario. I can well remember the shudders that went up and down my spine. Certainly over the period of time the NDP were in government, many of the concerns I had at that time, in September 1990, were realized when they brought in deficit after deficit.

For the member for Lake Nipigon to raise concerns about debt indicated to me that the third party has gone through a metamorphosis. They now are starting to realize that one has to be concerned about debt when you're in government. It certainly is good advice that the member for Lake Nipigon brought us in cautioning us on the perils of debt. I think the people of Ontario recognize that this government is very concerned about the perils of debt. That is one of the main planks in this bill.

To continue the support that we have given the construction industry, Bill 129 also extends the land transfer tax rebate for first-time home buyers of new homes. This has proven to be successful. There's been a dramatic upturn in the sale of new homes, and in the construction industry on first-time homes. Over $16 million in land transfer tax has been refunded.

We're also doubling the fines for selling or supplying liquor to a minor or allowing a minor to consume liquor on a licensed premise, and doubling the fine for selling or supplying tobacco to a minor.

It's important for the people of Ontario to recognize that the kinds of provisions we're bringing in in Bill 129 have led to real growth in Ontario.


In the most recent forecast made by the Royal Bank of Canada, they've indicated that they expect the Ontario economy to grow in excess of all other provinces in Canada except Alberta. The Royal Bank of Canada, which hasn't necessarily been the strongest supporter of our government over the time we've been in power, has indicated that they expect real gross domestic product will grow in Ontario by 3.3% in 1997 and 3.6% in 1998. They're predicting stronger economic growth in Ontario in 1997 and 1998, led by the manufacturing and residential construction parts of the economy. That is because of low interest rates, lower taxes and strong pent-up consumer demand.

The forecast of the Royal Bank of Canada says, "In Ontario, economic growth should be led by the goods-producing sector, especially residential construction and manufacturing, resulting in stronger consumer spending, while exports and private investments should remain strong."

The Conference Board of Canada has said: "This year's economic growth leaders will be Ontario and Alberta. Strong consumer spending and continued gains in export-oriented industries will propel economic activity in Ontario."

Scotiabank has said, "Ontario's economy is shifting into higher gear as residential construction and business investment add to the impetus from exports."

I don't need to remind most of the government members, but some of the other members need to be reminded that Ontario employment rose by 40,600 net new jobs in May, bringing the job gain over the last three months to 101,000 new jobs, triggering a drop in the provincial unemployment rate to 8.5% in May. Ontario retail sales have increased in four of the past five months, rising 0.8% in March following a 2.1% gain in February. Over the first five months of 1997, housing starts in Ontario are up 48.1% from a year ago.

The good news continues. The Ontario help-wanted index, a leading indicator of economic activity, is up again in May, up 2.8% in May. Auto sales, a very important indicator of the health of the economy: up 31% in unit terms and up 37% in April compared to the same period a year ago. The 1997 Ontario and Toronto housing markets are robust.

Canadian business confidence is at a record level in 1997. The conference board reported that business confidence rose 4.6% in 1997: In 1997's first quarter, 50.6% of businesses cited Ontario as the most desirable province in Canada for investment.

According to Statistics Canada's recent investment intentions survey, Ontario business plans to raise plant and equipment spending by 4.5% in 1997, following a rise of 10.2% in 1996. Non-residential building permits are up strongly in the month of April. Ontario manufacturing shipments are up strongly in the first quarter of 1997. Ontario exports are up in the first quarter of 1997. Ontario wholesale trade continues its upward trend.

All these indicators are continued good news for the province, the kind of changes Bill 129 is bringing in. I could go on to indicate that Bill 129 also deals with safety in Ontario communities. What we want to do is make sure that Ontario's communities continue to be safe. We want to crack down on the kind of crime that people in Ontario are looking for us to cut down on.

Ontario farmers are very important to the Ontario economy. In Bill 129 we're trying to extend the sales tax rebate to farmers for materials used in farm structures. I've had the opportunity to speak to farmers in my riding. As you know, Muskoka-Georgian Bay is a leading agricultural area in Ontario. We have quite a few farms, especially in the Simcoe county part of my riding, and the sales tax rebate is something they've certainly welcomed. I can see they are continuing to invest in their structures on their farms, and they find that the tax rebate has benefited them a great deal and allowed them to invest further in their farm and other areas as well. This can reduce their costs when they're building or improving their farm facilities.

There are other provisions in the budget bill which will have a positive impact in my riding. The land transfer tax that used to apply at a higher rate to non-resident purchasers of agricultural and recreational property has now been dropped. That's going to have a very significant impact in my part of the province, where purchases by non-residents are quite a significant source of economic activity. The people in the real estate business in my riding are very happy to see that our government has seen it's not necessary to continue to tax non-resident purchasers of that kind of property at the higher rate, which used to be 20% of the purchase price.

The provision in Bill 129 that doubles the fine for selling or supplying liquor to a minor is something that I think is needed. In talking to school principals and the parents of students in the local high schools, there's great concern about the consumption of liquor by minors. Bill 129 also doubles the fines for selling or supplying tobacco to a minor: a very big problem in our schools in Ontario, something we need to crack down on. We really have to find a way to deal with the kinds of problems that exist in schools today. The provision regarding the sale of tobacco is a particularly important one, and it will allow the law enforcement officials to impose a heavy penalty on those people who are in the business of selling tobacco to minors.

Another matter that we have to deal with in Bill 129 is of great interest to people in my riding and throughout the province, and that is the tax cut and the impact the tax cut is having. The tax cut is having a very positive impact in my riding, and you can see it by the job growth statistics in the province. These job growth statistics are very similar in my part of the province, where the amount of employment created over recent months has been very encouraging. I know from talking to local businesses that there is a very good feeling that this is going to be a strong growth year in Muskoka-Georgian Bay. The confidence of the retail people in my riding is very high. I hear very few indications that the tax cut has had anything but a positive impact in my riding.

When it comes to labour income, it's very good news to report that labour income in Ontario rose 1.5% in the first quarter of 1997, following a 1.8% advance in 1996. For a long period in Ontario, there was very little growth in the level of employment income in Ontario, but now as we pull out of the recession, you're seeing quite an increase, particularly in the private sector, in wage rates.

We have some quotes here from the local press.

The Ottawa Sun: "The Ottawa area was responsible for two thirds of research and development in Canada." So the budget has to be good news.

The London Free Press: "Some of the tax measures will make us more competitive, especially when we're competing with places south of the border for new development."

Suzanne Fortier, vice-principal of research at Queen's University: "A new research and development fund recently announced by the provincial government will help Queen's to attract and retain world-class researchers and is a sound investment in Ontario's future."

These quotes have to do with the considerable encouragement in Bill 129 of further research and development in Ontario. Through the creation of a research and development challenge fund, the government is providing us with some of the tools needed to further strengthen the vibrant research environment that has been built in Ontario universities. This promotes research in all its manifestations, from the basic discovery phase to development, technology transfer and commercialization.


The new research and development tax incentives will help us in our effort to exploit the results of research for the benefit of society. The University of Toronto is affiliated with the research and development institute in Midland in my riding, and the institute is certainly looking at exploiting these advantageous changes in Bill 129 which provide useful, new opportunities for the university sector and the research and development sector to get tax credits and to further develop opportunities for job development.

Here's a quote from Robert Prichard, a well-known supporter of our government, president of the University of Toronto: "The Ontario budget's recognition of the vital role of research and development in building future prosperity for the province is very encouraging. The budget represents an important first step that puts strengthening research and development among the province's critical priorities and recognizes the role of Ontario's universities in ensuring a strong economic future." It's nice to see Mr Prichard making some positive comments about our government.

Interjection: That's where you went to school, isn't it, Bill? That's your alma mater.

Mr Grimmett: That's one of my alma maters, that's right. He's a former professor of mine in law school.

In Bill 129 we have changes to the capital tax and retail sales tax to remove barriers to research and development. These are all very positive steps that have been requested by people in the research and development sector and I'm sure they're going to be pleased when they're able to take advantage of the changes.

There has been very significant development in Ontario in recent years with the moving picture industry. The evidence of that is actually very close by when you walk in the vicinity of Queen's Park and you see the number of movie crews that are up and running and working on films. There are changes to the capital tax and retail sales tax, and also we have a new 15% computer animation and special effects tax credit to further stimulate that kind of activity in Ontario. We really have a developing expertise in Ontario in the movie industry. I know from the people I've spoken to in that industry that they come to Ontario not just because of the lower tax rates and the tax credits they get here but because of the developing expertise we have, especially right here in Toronto.

Tax changes to encourage new technology: We're removing the tax on technology transfers. All these changes are very positive ones for the research and development part of the economy. They're the kind of changes we need to bring about to stimulate job growth and the kind of activity we haven't seen in Ontario for the last 10 years.

Those are my comments. I was pleased to particulate in the debate on Bill 129.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I'm interested in some of the comments the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay made. He spoke of "a litany of debt." I think those are the words he used.

Let me tell the member across, if your 1997 budget plan is on course, at the year 2001 the total debt will be roughly $120 billion. The Liberals will be responsible for $6 billion of that. The NDP will be responsible --

Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): That's outrageous.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): You're right it's outrageous, absolutely outrageous, because the NDP will be responsible for $62 billion of that debt, and do you know what the government, the Conservative Party, will be responsible for? Fifty-two billion dollars of that debt. That's outrageous. I agree with you. I can't believe it. The great fiscal conservatives, of a total debt of $120 billion in the year 2001, will be responsible for $52 billion.

Do you know what? During the life of this government -- and it isn't going to last all that long -- they will have increased that debt roughly $17 billion to $19 billion, and every penny of it will be borrowed money. Coincidentally, that just about equals the tax cut.

Can you believe it? Mike Harris stood up here one day and said: "The province of Ontario is bankrupt, but do you know what I'm going to do, shareholders? I'm going to go out and borrow $19 billion and give you a dividend." That also is outrageous. "At the same time, I'm going to take $1.3 billion out of hospitals and I'm going to take $100 billion out of education." That also is outrageous.

Tonight I want to speak a little bit about debt. The Ontario budget says an awful lot about debt and deficit. I've told you what that outrageous debt is going to be over the next few years, that is going to have been borrowed by this government, every single penny of it. But to accumulate that debt you have to incur deficits. We can go through the budget and we can tell you what the deficit is going to be each year of this budget. It's right here in your own budget: in 1997-98 a $6.6-billion deficit; in 1998-99 a $4.8-billion deficit -- all of this borrowed money, of course; if you're running a deficit you don't have the cash; in 1999 -- I guess they're still going to run their mandate till 1999; they have the right to do so -- a $2.6-billion deficit.

I want to talk to you about the human deficit. It's the one you can't apply dollars to. Do you know how they're going to create this human deficit? They're going to do it on the backs of the people of Ontario, and they're going to do it because they want to give a tax cut to their rich friends. They don't have to give this tax cut, because, as the Premier said earlier, the province is bankrupt. They don't have to give a dividend to anybody because a bankrupt company wouldn't give a dividend to anybody. But they're going to do it anyway. What does it result in? It results in a human deficit.

Mike Harris has made his choice. I'm going to ask the citizens of the province of Ontario, how about you? What would you choose, a tax cut or quality health care? Think about it. What would you choose, a tax cut or better schools? Think about it. A tax cut or reducing the deficit? A tax cut or new jobs? A tax cut or fighting child poverty?

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): Get them both.

Mr Crozier: He's spouting off in a facetious way. But I tell you, by borrowing $5 billion for a tax cut, you're not going to do all those things without hurting somebody. I know how I would choose. I know how my leader would choose. I know how Dalton McGuinty would choose. He'd say, "I would choose people over a tax cut."

Mr Hudak: So you like taxes.


Mr Crozier: Well, you like tax cuts and you like borrowing every bit to do it. You like spending half a million dollars on your boss's office. Is that okay? That's outrageous.

But let me go on about health care, our health care deficit. Robert Fisher on Global TV asked the then leader of the third party, "Can you guarantee us tonight that your pledge to protect health care will mean that you will not close hospitals?" In a televised debate on May 18, 1995, the now Premier of this province said, "Certainly I can guarantee you, Robert, it's not my plan to close hospitals." Those were carefully chosen words, but it certainly is his plan today.

We can talk about hospital closures to date in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Ottawa, Pembroke, London and Metro Toronto. The only new money in health care we're going to find in this budget is for nurses' severances and for closing hospitals. Today's budget, this budget right here, the 1997 Ontario budget, confirms Mike Harris's plan to cut $507 million from Ontario hospitals, and we think that's going to be done at the expense of patient care. Mike Harris's overall plan is to cut $1.3 billion from hospitals. If you don't think there will be a human deficit in those figures, as I said last night in comments on another speech, the sky in your world has got a different colour than the sky in mine and it's not blue.

Our learning deficit: A wise man said, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." If we cut education spending when we should be investing, we shortchange our children, our province and our country. Today's budget, the 1997 Conservative budget, cuts $124 million from education. Massive spending cuts have already been included in the Tory plans and executed in the Tory plans and have crippled educational programs: $145-million cuts to junior kindergarten, $150-million cuts to adult education -- and we had 1,000 people surrounding this Legislature last week concerned about the cuts to adult education -- $39-billion cuts to school buses, $163 million in cuts to classroom spending and $167 million in cuts to school construction and maintenance.

Mike Harris's education reform has forced 25 school boards to cancel junior kindergarten classes in Ontario, and if you think education's expensive today, try ignorance. Twenty-three boards have had to reduce special education programs, 44 boards have had to reduce transportation services, 42 boards have cut custodial and maintenance programs and seven boards have had to cut library resources.

My colleague earlier today in his speech spoke about the cost of post-secondary education, how the baby-boomers -- let me look around. Yeah, there are a couple of baby-boomers tonight. A few more of them are as old as I am so they're not exactly --

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I'm one of them.

Mr Crozier: Who said that? Ed, if you're a baby-boomer, I'm not even out of diapers yet. No, there are a few baby-boomers in here tonight. They can say that there should be increases in the costs for education because their education they got rather cheaply, very cheaply. But that doesn't matter today. Jack up the cost of tuition fees. But where are they going to go to get the jobs? Where are the graduates from the universities getting the jobs today? I think that should be as much of a concern as tuition fees.

Think about it. This isn't just a deficit in the form of dollars. This isn't a $6.6-billion deficit this year. What we have to think about is our children's deficit. If we can't put our children first, then we're a lost society. We could invest in our children because economists tell us that we will achieve savings in the long run. But we do it because we value our children. That's what my leader, Dalton McGuinty, says.

One in five children in Ontario live at or below the poverty line. That's outrageous. Four hundred and eighty-seven thousand children in Ontario depend on welfare. That's outrageous. In the greater Toronto area alone, 71,000 children depend on food banks to survive. Almost half of all the people using food banks in Toronto are children and, so far, 30,000 kids have been denied kindergarten.

Tory bungling of the family support plan -- and we've gone over this and over it again and we've heard the Attorney General give us all kinds of excuses -- no action, just excuses -- but the Tory bungling of the family support plan has put the welfare of thousands of children at risk because of delayed and lost child support payments.

Lastly, Teacher, or rather Speaker --

Mrs Johns: Teacher?

Mr Crozier: Well, I could learn something from the Speaker and so could all of you. By spending $1 a day on children in need, it's a proven statistic that we will save $7 later in health, welfare and justice costs. Our children's deficit, in the words of the honourable member across at the beginning of this debate, is outrageous. I agree. Only one in six children in need of psychiatric care is receiving treatment.

Think of this: Mike Harris's $17-million cut to children's aid societies has restricted vital services to Ontario's most vulnerable citizens. Some 83% of children served by children's aid societies live in poverty. Think of it.

Our employment deficit: It seems to me that somewhere in the 1995 campaign I heard the figure of something in excess of 700,000 jobs that were promised by the now Premier of the province. Mike Harris, along with many of us, agrees that governments don't create jobs. Business creates jobs. Dalton McGuinty has said, in our document entitled The Human Deficit, that yes, indeed, businesses do create jobs.

In today's global marketplace, business brings jobs to stable and prosperous jurisdictions with a solid economic infrastructure. But that solid economic infrastructure includes good schools, a highly skilled workforce that results from good schools, strong research facilities and a strategy for building for the future. You don't build the future by taking blocks out of the foundation.

When Mike Harris came to power, the unemployment rate was about 8.7%. It has since climbed to 9%. Half a million Ontarians remain out of work. Someone might say the difference between 8.7% and 9% is not a lot. Well, if you're in that additional 0.3% who don't have a job, it means an awful lot.


Mike Harris has promised us 145,000 jobs a year in the Common Sense Revolution. The government's own numbers in the budget show that more than two and a half years into your mandate, the job creation performance will be a discouraging 165,000 jobs behind this target. Those aren't easy to make up. It's a bit like a race. If you keep pace, that seems not too bad. If you start to drop behind, that distance becomes more and more and more difficult to make up. Frankly, we're lagging behind in that job creation objective.

Many employers can't find the highly trained staff they need, and yet this government is taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of education. Somehow that doesn't make sense. Again, to use the words of my colleague that she called across at the outset of this debate, that's outrageous. Young people --

Mrs Johns: You're outrageous.

Mr Crozier: She says I'm outrageous. Get up and talk about it. Your turn will come. You get up and refute some of the figures that are in your own budget, your own job figures. Put your jobs where your mouth is. Young people continue to lose jobs at an alarming rate, and we've talked a lot about youth employment. Youth unemployment for the first three months of 1997 was 18.5%, up almost 2% from the previous year.

I want to talk about the real cost of the Harris tax cut. Again in the words of my leader, Dalton McGuinty, "This is a government that is in such a mad rush to give away a tax cut that they've forgotten about the future."

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): He's mentioned his name about 10 times now.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Boost those poll numbers.

Mr Crozier: Mike Harris will cost the Ontario government, I remind you -- I missed that. As I mentioned earlier, his tax cut will cost the Ontario government, the citizens of the province of Ontario, $5.5 billion a year, money that could have gone on health care, education, children's services, and yes, even deficit reduction.

He had a choice. I don't think any of us here in the income bracket that we're in, and many in the province of Ontario who have income brackets much higher than ours, would argue that taxes are too low. Most will say that taxes are too high and that we've hit the wall. But the way to reduce the deficit and continue to have an Ontario that we want to live in, a place where we can have our children grow in good care, isn't the Ontario that needs a tax cut. We've been paying those taxes.

Mr Kormos: Full employment.

Mr Crozier: Full employment is mentioned by the member from Welland. Absolutely. Full employment creates more money. But we don't need a tax cut when we could have worked on the deficit, spent smarter in health care, which the minister is telling us he's trying to do, spent smarter in education. Some $500 million, though, of that Tory tax cut goes to individuals with incomes over $250,000. Give me a break. Even if we've hit the tax wall, if you earn a quarter of a million dollars a year in this province and can't afford to pay the taxes that we've been paying for a little while longer until we get our finances in order, you've got a problem. A hell of a lot of people, by far the majority of people in the province, live on a lot less than $250,000 a year.

I think the government's tax cuts are too deep, they're going too fast, and these tax cuts have created a human deficit. I just want to summarize.

To help pay for this tax cut, Mike Harris has downloaded $1.3 billion in new costs to Ontario's municipalities, resulting, we feel -- and I'm a past mayor, a past municipal official. I'm willing to wait and see if we aren't right that this downloading will result in massive property tax increases in municipalities across Ontario.

He's increased tuition fees by 30% and at the same time has cut $400 million from school boards, which again is forcing property tax increases and school board user fees. The $5.5-billion tax cut has already made it more difficult to fight Ontario's fiscal deficit, because you've reduced your revenues. It's right here in Mike Harris's budget. Revenue in 1997-98 is going to be roughly almost $1 billion less than the year before. Every penny of this tax cut is borrowed money, and I told you what the accumulated deficit is going to be.

On budget cuts, here's what Mike Harris promised in a CBLT interview on May 30, 1995: "But I say to people, if it isn't in the plan," that being the Common Sense Revolution, "it isn't cut. So don't believe those people who are trying to tell you otherwise." Well, it wasn't in the plan, but there were $3 billion in cuts that weren't identified in that plan so far.

On education, Mike Harris says in the Common Sense Revolution, "Classroom funding for education will be guaranteed." Here's what we have, what Mike Harris did: Provincial cuts have forced 25 school boards to cancel their junior kindergarten, 23 boards have reduced special education programs, and so on as I mentioned earlier.

Hospital closures: Again the Premier said to Robert Fisher, "Certainly I can guarantee you that it's not my plan to close hospitals." To date, 22 hospitals have been slated for closure. Many more could be closed before the next election.

What did Mike Harris say about jobs? What did he promise about jobs? Well, 725,000 new jobs, it says in the Common Sense Revolution. Right now, two years into their plan, they're 165,000 behind that target.

What did Mike Harris promise when it comes to law enforcement? "Funding for law enforcement and justice will be guaranteed," and, "Again, any savings we find in our justice system through greater efficiencies will be reinvested to ensure public safety in our streets and in our homes." The Solicitor General's budget has been slashed by $41.2 million. The Attorney General's budget has been slashed by $176 million. These include $17.1 million in cuts to the OPP, $8.2 million in cuts to policing services, $38 million in cuts to justice services, $11.8 million in cuts to court administration and $8.3 million in cuts to legal services to the crown. That's where Mike Harris said that funding will be guaranteed.

I want to talk for the last few minutes about something that wasn't in the Common Sense Revolution. It won't affect the deficit, but it will need some funding. But the government's going to make money on this.


For the last month I've been pleading, mainly to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, for funding to be made available through the Shoreline Property Assistance Act. It requires some cash, but the government's actually going to make money on this because it can charge interest. There has been anywhere between $2 million and $5 million in damage on the north shore of Lake Erie, which includes part of the county of Kent, Essex county's north shore of Lake Erie shoreline, as well as south of Lake St Clair.

I want to use the last two minutes to make a plea to this government on an issue that can make them a few dollars. Under the shoreline protection act, all these people want is to have some funding provided so that they can repair damage from high water levels and storms. What does the minister say after more than a month? "Thank you for your letter of April 25," and this one's dated May 29. God knows, we could have had any other number of storms or damage in the meantime. He says, "The Shoreline Property Assistance Act is not presently active." I don't know what that really means. If you go to the Revised Statutes of Ontario, it's still a valid statute; the Shoreline Property Assistance Act is right there. But he says it's not actually active. No wonder it isn't active. There weren't many storms, I guess, that required the money.

All we're asking that he do is go to the Treasurer, go to the Minister of Finance and say: "Finance Minister, I've got something I need that isn't going to affect your budget one iota. In fact, it's going to make you a couple of bucks." Because the people who have storm damage along the shores of Lake Erie and Lake St Clair can't borrow money from banks. Probably part of the reason is they're lending all their money to the government, for crying out loud -- they need $5 billion; these folks just need a few million dollars, a little bit of assistance that they're willing to pay for.

I put that in because it's something that really won't have a big affect on the total spending of this government, which is going to be in the area of $54 billion, so when it comes to Essex and Kent counties, just lend us a couple of million, would you?

Beyond that, I ask my colleagues on this side of the floor, I ask the government: When you think of the deficit, when you crow about how you're going to reduce the deficit over the next couple or three years, just don't think about it in dollars, because, yes, that's outrageous if you simply think about it in terms of dollars. When you think about the deficit over the next few years, think of the human deficit.

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

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Although I appreciated some comments from the member for Essex South -- not many, but some -- I think the member should go back to and take our new curriculum in math. When we took over as a government, we had $11.8 billion we were spending more than we were taking in. As we reduce that over the years, of course you're going to increase the debt. You don't need to be a rocketship scientist to figure that one out.

What credibility does the member have, him and his party? With the NDP, in the last, lost 10 years, they increased taxes 65 times. Spend, spend, spend. Then what did they say in the red book during the election in 1995? What were they going to do? What did they say? That raising taxes also kills jobs. They were going to cut taxes by 5% during their first term. They were going to repeal the 5% tax on auto insurance. They were going to give first home buyers a land transfer tax rebate. They were going to reinstate tax rebates for money spent by property owners on forest management. They were going to give small businesses tax credits and on and on.

Now what he stands up and says is, "We're against your government because you're going to give a tax credit or tax decreases and you're cutting spending. We don't agree with you at all on that." They're living up to their motto, like they always have, flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop. Where are you really?

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I just want to congratulate my colleague from Essex South. He brought a perspective that I thought was interesting.

My friend Froese here has just reminded me of something. On this question of the deficit, as I've said many times before, there is a lot of blame to go around. I was one of those who accepted the summons to office in 1985. The government we replaced, a government led by Frank Miller, ably supported by Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, gave us a spending plan in 1985 that had roughly a $3 billion deficit on a $30 billion spending plan.

When I came here in 1975, a very able Conservative finance minister named Darcy McKeough presented to this Legislature a budget, 22 years ago, with a deficit of about $1.8 billion on an expenditure plan of, I think, about $13 billion. Is there blame to go around?


Mr Conway: Absolutely, I say to my abstemious friend the member for Huron. Let's just cut the crap about the 10 lost years because the Miller --


Mr Conway: I think the point that's been made here is a good one tonight. Of course there was deficit piled up particularly between 1990 and 1995, for a lot of reasons. I'm just telling you that in 1985 a Miller-Davis-Eves government gave to the incoming Liberals a spending plan that showed a $3 billion deficit on a $30 billion, $32 billion spending plan. Let she without sin cast the first --


The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Further questions or comments.

Mr Kormos: I'm pleased to comment on the remarks from the member for Essex South. I was impressed by his recitation of the real deficit that's being generated by this government, in addition to the additional 22 billion bucks these guys are borrowing, adding to our provincial debt, to help, merely help, finance their tax break for the very rich, two thirds of which is going to go to the top 10% of income earners. Not a penny of that tax break will be responsible for the creation of but one job.

I find it remarkable that the member for St Catharines-Brock could continue to embrace this Reagan-Thatcher philosophy when in Niagara region, among his riding, as well as Niagara centre, Welland-Thorold, Niagara Falls, Erie-Lincoln et al, unemployment has grown to 10.9%. That, my friends, is a conservative figure, because unemployment among people under 25 in Niagara region is twice that. That's two years after this government came to power -- more jobless in this province than there were two years ago, to this day.

This tax break is all about paying off this government's, Mike Harris's and the Tories' rich buddies, the Frank Stronachs of Ontario etc. It's all about that and nothing about job creation. Every relevant, meaningful, economic theory illustrates clearly that the sort of tax cuts for the very wealthiest that this government is committed to and remains committed to, notwithstanding the damage they create to public institutions, to public education, to health care, to families, to small communities and to young working people, who dearly want to work but are being denied work because of this government's policies -- their denial of the reality of their impact on our public institutions is shameful.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Further questions or comments.


Mr Hudak: If you look at the figures from Niagara, the facts of the matter are that there are more people working today in the Niagara Peninsula than there were when this government took over. In fact a newspaper article Mr Kormos may have read recently in the Welland Tribune, a fine newspaper in the area, said there were 5,000 more jobs created, part of the 41,000 new jobs I think in May, in the Niagara area, and there have been 5,000 additionally who have joined the workforce, which is remarkable. People that had given up totally on finding a job under the NDP now are coming back in the workforce. People are moving into Ontario looking for a job.

It used to be, under the government of Mr Kormos and Mr Rae, that people came to Ontario only to get on to welfare. If they wanted a job, they would leave the province. But now we see the change. People are coming into the workforce looking for jobs, moving to Ontario because they see hope and opportunity again.

As to the comments of the member for Essex South, who seems in his philosophy to believe that there are choices between a tax cut and a deficit, in fact we've cut taxes, the deficit is going down towards a balanced budget for 2001; in fact we're ahead of our figures. Tax cut versus revenue: We've cut taxes and revenue has increased. Tax cut or jobs: Heck, we have a tax cut and we've seen jobs in the last few months that are growing to a tune of 1,000 jobs a day.

The Liberal member misses the point, that tax cuts create jobs, which means more revenue, which means more money coming in for programs like health care, more money you can spend on health care, and a better education system with a tougher curriculum so students learn things quicker and harder and better with testing and a better role for parents.

Mr Kormos: No teachers. Contracted out.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold, come to order.

Mr Hudak: Then when they graduate from an improved education system in Ontario, the jobs will be there because of the actions of this government. So when the member says tax cuts versus deficit, revenue and jobs, we're having them all: more jobs, more revenue, a lower deficit with the tax cut.

Mr Crozier: To the member for St Catharines-Brock who suggested I take the new math curriculum, we'll see if it's in place by September 1. But you've thrown the gauntlet to me; I'll throw it back to you. I'll put my math up against yours any day of the week, and it'll all come out the same. It will come out that of the total debt at the end of your term in office, your government will be responsible for 43% of it: $52 billion.

Mr Froese: Don't you know what compound is?

Mr Crozier: It doesn't take a rocket scientist. You said it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to develop a budget like this with the deficit that it has in it.

The member for Niagara South says I missed the point. I think you missed the point. You talk about money; I talk about people. You talk about a deficit of $5 billion; I talk about a human deficit. You talk about cutting people on welfare; I talk about a government that spends half a million dollars on the Premier's office.

Mr Hudak: You do.

Mr Crozier: You miss the point. It's outrageous.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): It's a pleasure to speak to this budget bill tonight. I have to tell you I do have a beef with this tax cut, and that's what I'm going to speak to tonight. But I have to tell you there is a cesspool of arrogance that oozes forth from those Tory benches opposite. In case they don't understand the word "cesspool," it's a septic tank of arrogance that oozes forth from the other side on a daily basis. You can feel it. I feel it here, and I'm sure those watching feel it as well, on a daily basis.

But I want to direct all of my attention or most of my attention to the tax cut and the implications of that tax cut on all of Ontario. This government is very proud of their income tax cut, very proud. It is a signature piece and it is a highlight certainly of their budget. All of us really have come to understand that this tax cut, 60% of which goes to the highest and most privileged people in this province, will not benefit Ontario, except those wealthy Ontarians: 60%.

We've got to borrow $22 billion to be able to support their rich friends on the other side. Imagine five bank presidents who earn $1.5 million, $1.6 million, $1.7 million. That's a lot of bucks. At the end of their tax cut, these people are going to earn more or less $120,000. Think of that, Speaker, because I'm sure in your riding, you may have a banker or two, it's possible, but you've got a whole lot of poor people in your riding, and I'm sure that you've met many who continue to ask you, "Speaker," or in your case "MPP for Riverdale" --

Mr Kormos: One moment, please. Speaker, there's no quorum.

Mr Marchese: Again? It happens all the time in this place.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York.

Mr Marchese: Imagine that. I'm sure you meet a lot of people in your riding, Madam Speaker, who come to you and say, "When is this income tax cut coming?" They ask you because at the end of that paycheque for the last year or year and half, two years now, they are not seeing the fruits of this income tax cut. Why? Because if they're only earning $20,000, $25,000, $30,000, there's nothing to be seen. But bankers, these rich pals of theirs, the ones who believe that we should be cutting social programs, the same types as these Tories on this side, they gain a great deal of money and they like the tax cut.

They have all the basic necessities that they need and they're not about to go and buy things that poor people, working people, low-income people would otherwise buy if they got the money. These banker friends of theirs don't need any of these necessities; they already have them. In fact, too many. It's true, Mr Young, too many. Why continue to give money to those who already have? Why redistribute the wealth even more to those who have? Why would you do that? Why would these Tories do that? Except that it fits into the ideology of these people over here.

We have galloping unemployment and they brag about all the jobs they're creating, galloping unemployment not just here in this province but across Canada, and they brag about the great things that this budget does and continues to do. Yet unemployment continues to remain high. How do they justify that? How do they justify an unemployment rate that is unacceptable to most humans -- humans I say -- except these people on the other side.

We have unacceptable levels of unemployment among our young people, and these people brag about the number of jobs that they're creating. Well, it's not doing it. Their income tax cut is not doing it, and I'm going to read here, very shortly, from an economist, Arthur Donner --

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): I do not believe a quorum is present.

The Acting Speaker: You're calling a quorum? Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York.


Mr Marchese: I appreciate the assistance from the member for Cambridge in this regard because I know the member for Cambridge was listening very attentively. I could tell. I am going to quote to him something from one of the economists I have read in one of the articles the Star prints out called the Atkinson Letter. One of these economists is being interviewed. I know the member for Cambridge is about to listen to this before he leaves. This is what he said about this topic, member for Cambridge:

"I would say that to some degree all government instruments are blunt instruments. But I believe the tax-cutting solutions being proposed and implemented today are basically ideologically driven." That's what this economist says. "They are not really designed to create jobs although they are sold that way to the public. The tax cuts are ultimately for the purpose of eroding the role of government and the expectations people have of government."

It goes on, and I know the member for Cambridge is not interested in this kind of stuff. That's why he left. But for the rest who are still here, this is what he goes on to say: "From what I've been reading in the papers lately --

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I think the honourable member knows that his comments about the member not being here are out of order.

Mr Marchese: They're not out of order. Sit down, Frank.


The Acting Speaker: Calm down, calm down. I must admit I must not have been listening at that precise moment. I didn't hear the member for Fort York say that, but the member for York-Mackenzie is quite correct and I think the member knows he should not refer to members being absent from the House.

Mr Marchese: I should not refer to members what, sorry? I didn't hear.

The Acting Speaker: I think the member for Fort York is aware that the rules are very clear about that. You do not refer to members when they are absent from the House.

Mr Marchese: He was leaving. As I was speaking, he was leaving this chamber and that's the comment I made.

Mr Kormos: Which was rude.

Mr Doyle: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I would like to know how the member knew he was leaving.

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat, please, member for Fort York. Thank you.

Mr Marchese: If it is not acceptable to speak about members who are now no longer here, that's fine. I was just referring to a member who was on his way out and that's what I was saying.

So the economist, Mr Donner --

The Acting Speaker: I just want to be really clear: I don't think you understood what I said before. You referred again to the member leaving the chamber. As you know, under the rules you should not do that.


Mr Marchese: I want to continue with my remarks, so I will repeat what this economist said.

"These tax cuts are not really designed to create jobs. Although they are sold that way to the public" -- and I have to tell you this government does exactly that through its propaganda on a regular basis. They continue to sell this tax cut to the public as a job creation idea. That's what you guys do every day that you have an opportunity to raise this issue.

This economist is quite clear: They do not create jobs, and he argues they're not designed for that purpose either. They're ultimately for the purpose of eroding the role of government and the expectations people have of government. That too fits into the ideology of this government. They are reducing the role of government. It is the intent of everything this government does to diminish its functions, to diminish its role, and they do it continually with every bill they present in this House.

I know that some of you love to quote economists as well, and it's important to listen to this particular view. He continues:

"From what I have been reading in the papers lately, many ordinary citizens are not really sure they want a tax cut if the tradeoff is that their son or daughter will not be able to afford university or the local hospital will close and their aging parent will have to travel farther in an emergency. Actually, I would support an income tax cut as long as it wasn't accompanied by a matching government spending cut.

"If you look at what the Kennedy administration's income tax cut in 1961 did for the American economy, you will see that it can work. But that tax cut didn't have corresponding spending cuts. In this sort of fiscal environment, we're not going to see any increases in government spending so we need tax cuts to spur consumer spending. But they shouldn't be an excuse to cut government." That's what these people do.

He's asked questions by the Atkinson Letter folks which are: "So you would support a tax cut as long as government spending remained at the same level? But should the tax cuts be across the board? Everyone gets a break?" Mr Donner, the economist, answers: "No, I would target middle- and lower-income people. Studies show that these groups of people are saving at record low levels, about 3%, and would tend to spend an extra income and their spending would create jobs."

You see, it's quite clear. If you give a tax cut to the middle class and those below, they would be spending; but if you give a tax cut, two third of which goes to your rich pals, privileged Canadians with a whole lot of bucks in their pockets, it's not going to help with jobs.

Mr Klees: How many bucks have you got in your pocket?

Mr Marchese: The member for York-Mackenzie has more bucks in his pocket than I do in mine. I know that. Everybody knows that. You've got more bucks in your pocket than I will have in a lifetime. So do the friends you are supporting through this income tax cut.

But this is quite clear. This economist is telling you, telling us, those who are watching this program at this ungodly hour, that these income tax cuts are not designed to create jobs. They're an ideological tool. It helps your friends. It reduces the level of government and reduces the expectations people have of government and it's a fact. We believe on this side that it is a fact and that you're just playing a game, my friends, and you play that game so very, very well.

The propaganda machine you people have and the bucks you're using that are at your disposal, at the state's disposal, at the government's disposal, our money, the people's money to propagandize about how great this is for jobs, it's all trickery. It dissembles, it's deceitful and it doesn't help one single person to borrow $22 billion at the expense of so much.

Mr Klees: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I hate to interrupt the eloquence, but I think the honourable member's reference to deceitfulness on the part of this government is out of order and I would ask that he withdraw that, please.

The Acting Speaker: Member for York-Mackenzie, I've been listening carefully and I did not hear that word used. If the member did use that word, I would then ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Marchese: I will withdraw that, Madam Speaker.

Mr Klees: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I am absolutely overwhelmed by the honesty of the honourable member and I want to express my admiration for him.


The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. I'm sure he appreciates it, however.

Mr Marchese: I do appreciate the admiration, no doubt about that. I am happy to have fans on the other side. There's no doubt that I appreciate it.

But $22 billion to achieve what goal? At what expense? And what consequences fall from this tax cut? That's the point we're arguing here. At what social expense to do this? In my view it is a highly irresponsible act by any government, but particularly this one, that is implementing it.

Just look at the various things they've had to do in order to satisfy the greed of that particular income tax cut because you've got to feed it. How do you people feed that income tax cut? You feed it by cutting in other areas. Where have you started doing that?

Just the other day we were looking at the figures in the wage protection act, something the New Democratic Party brought into this province to support workers who through no fault of their own are laid off when a company decides for whatever reason that it is no longer in existence here in this province. They want to take off somewhere; they go broke. You know who the greedy people are in line for that kind of money? It's the banks. The banks are the first in line to collect whatever money is remaining. You know who is at the end of the line? It's the workers who worked in that particular place.

It's not just that worker who is affected by that loss, it's the family that is affected by it, it's the children of that particular family who are affected by it, the very children these people talk about, that they care about.

I know some of these people over here don't really care much about these children, because you've got to look at the actions. So $200 million went to working people as a result of that wage protection act, $200 million that this government says is too rich: "We can't afford it. It's okay for the banks to be first in line, but it's not okay for workers, because we can't afford it." Imagine people who, through no fault of their own, are out on the streets --

Mr Kormos: Victims.

Mr Marchese: -- victims of an employer who decides for whatever reason that they're gone. This government is proud. That's why I referred to the cesspool of arrogance on the other side, because it is. The septic tank is in this place. It's true, $200 million from the wage protection fund is gone.

Look at the seniors, what they've done there. I call this a user fee. These guys call them copayments, as if to somehow suggest euphemistically that it's not a user fee. But they've gone to the seniors. They put a $100 fee for those earning $16,000, a combined income of two people. It's not a whole lot. My mother makes ten thousand measly dollars, but if you earn $16,000, these guys over here charge you a $100 fee and then for every prescription the pharmacy charges $6.50. For those not earning $16,000, earning $10,000, like my mother, they've got to pay a prescription fee every time they go and fill that prescription.

They're proud as they whack vulnerable people, in this particular case seniors. Are you proud to beat up on seniors? Are you proud to say you're bringing down the deficit as you allow seniors to incur new costs, seniors who have gone through the working world, have done their part, and then you take from them at a time when they need your support? You laugh and you're smug and you're proud that you're bringing down the deficit.

Look at the family support plan. The member for Welland-Thorold knows about that plan; he was there. He and another colleague from Sudbury East were there; they caught it on camera. The Frankenstein of this new system says: "It's okay. No, it's fixed. There's no problem here." The Frankenstein of the new system, who broke it, says, "There's no problem here." But they ruined a whole lot of people.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): Who would that be?

Mr Marchese: The Attorney General, your buddy. Madam Speaker, you would understand, because you had a lot of letters in your riding too from people who depended on that money to flow through, as it did under our government. But the Frankensteins over there decided to change the plan. This is the cost of the income tax cut.

There is a litany of hurts against people who are very vulnerable: the seniors we mentioned, people who lose their jobs because the company goes broke; then we go to the family plan, people who were expecting that money to be able to survive. It wasn't there any more because the Attorney General decided to lay off a whole lot of offices and a whole lot of people as a result of that incompetence, which is reflected clearly in the incompetence of the government generally, because they're cutting all over the place. Some of these things are not working any more effectively, so they have to continue to propagandize by saying: "Everything is okay. Everything is working fine." It's not working fine.

Look at what the Minister of Labour is doing to injured workers. There's a litany of assaults and the tax against vulnerable people here. The government says, "In the workers' compensation plan we've got an unfunded liability that's too high," so what does the minister do? I'll tell you. She says: "You employers, you fine people, you've been paying too much, so we're going to give you another break. We're going to give you a $6-billion break." Whom are we going to whack? Whom are we going to beat up to make that $6-billion cut we give to the employers? We beat up on the injured workers who, through no fault of their own, men and women, get injured on the job, people who work hard in those factories, in construction, home workers, on the farms, wherever they are, who work hard for a living. This government has decided to cut their benefits from 95% of net to 85% of net, and they're proud.

They beat up on people, they whack them over the head with a serious cane and then they say, "We're reducing the deficit." Who are we doing this for? For our kids. They're doing this for our kids. They take $22 billion, borrow to finance a tax cut that goes 60% to their rich buddies, and beat up on so many friends.

My friend from Huron shakes her head in disagreement. We know that Mr Murdoch from Grey-Owen Sound disagrees with this assessment. He says he's heard it all before. He may have heard it all before, but the public needs to hear it over and over again, and we speak not to you people who are here, because you people don't listen. We speak, when we make our speeches here, not to you, but through you to the public that's watching. It's not for you that this speech is made. We know you fine "honorables" over there don't have any sense of what it means to be an injured worker, because you've got the bucks in your pocket and you're passing the big bucks to your friends.

You don't know what it means to be an injured worker and to receive 85% of net instead of 90%. You don't know what it means for a company to go bankrupt and to be the last person in line to receive any dough because the banks are at the front of the line, your friends. You don't know what it's like to be part of a family plan that was working, and you decided through your Frankenstein minister to change the plan. You don't know what it's like. We're not talking to you; we're talking to the people who are watching these debates.

They increased tuition fees. My daughter was in first year university, paying close to $4,000. When you add on the tuition fees, including the expenses --

Mr Conway: You have a daughter?


Mr Marchese: Is there some doubt? She's 21 years old, at U of T -- close to $4,000. Do you know what that means, $4,000? These people proudly talk about getting a handle on the deficit. At whose expense? At the expense of young people and families who cannot afford to pay that kind of tuition fee. They gloat. That's why I call it a cesspool of arrogance when I speak of this -- oozing out of these areas, oozing out of these members. Tuition fees at galloping rates, galloping every year, and these people on the other side are proud. At whose expense? This income tax cut, at whose expense?

They talk about education, as if they haven't hurt them enough. I tell you, Speaker, and the people watching, the education cuts are yet to come. But these guys talk about, "Finally, we've got a curriculum that's going to be tough." Tough, my foot. There's nothing there. It's trickery, that's what it is. All it means is that guys can go around, with their minister of course, claiming that all of a sudden they've found the answer: They're going to be tough, and finally kids will be able to read.

But if you look at the comparison of the document we produced versus the document these people produced, probably written by one of the PR people at the back there, some of these young people, it's all a propaganda machine. There's no content in that. What there is in that document --


Mr Marchese: I say to the member for Niagara South, who is challenging me in this regard, read that document and then come to me in your two-minute rebuttal at some point or in some other speech and show me how you believe the content varies from the bill we had before. Show me that, rather than the propaganda that you and the member for Huron and the others speak about.

Mr Kormos: Spew.

Mr Marchese: Spew about; not speak about but spew about.

We have in my riding the Niagara community health centre. Under our government, we were lucky to be able to bring three or four community centres under one roof, the Alexandra Park community health centre and the Niagara one and others, because these people are dealing with community health. These are the groups that deal with the most vulnerable people: poor people, homeless, people who don't have a place to go. Do you know what this government did? It cut their budget by 10%.

Look at the health cuts in general. Speaker, I know you must have been in a hospital in the last year or so. We know countless people who have been in hospitals these days who are unable to find the kind of treatment they were used to getting from the workers in that place, the nurses. The nurses are disappearing. They're disappearing, because you people are firing them, you people are letting them go. As you amalgamate these hospitals, as you close these hospitals, up to 10,000 of these nurses are disappearing. As they disappear, the quality of life disappears in those hospitals and in Ontario.

This income tax cut is devastating our social structures in Ontario, is devastating to our humanity. We are losing the face of our humanity. With that single act, that income tax cut, $22 billion you've got to pay, you are tearing asunder the social structures of Ontario. What you people are doing is irretrievable. I tell the people who are watching, what these people are doing we cannot repair, no matter who gets into power. That's why you, as you're watching, need to meet with these people and fight with these people, argue with them, because there is always time to change the direction of this destruction.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Hudak: I'm pleased to rise. I'm surprised the member opposite was defending The Common Curriculum, the document lambasted by parents all across Ontario since you brought it out, the warm, fuzzy document that talked about outcomes instead of measurable standards and said that maybe some time in grade 3 students should know what a verb looks like -- I don't know if they can use it; they should understand what math is, they should have some concept of what adding is, but can they multiply, can they divide? It made them feel good. The drive was esteem: to make sure the students felt good about themselves.

That's all well and good, but when they got out of school after going through your curriculum, not really knowing as much as they should, would they feel good when they went to look for a job and couldn't find a job because they didn't have the skills, because of your Common Curriculum? They'd feel real good sitting at home watching television, looking out the window, wondering what happened to their misspent youth because they didn't have good standards through school.

When our students graduate, they will have a standard they can follow with the parents so they can see what a student should learn through each grade. He asked me for some examples. Now, believe it or not, we are going to ask students in Ontario to know how to write in complete sentences with punctuation by the end of grade 1. What a revolution. What a remarkable concept. You didn't even give any specifications of what you wanted in grade 1; we're asking students to write in sentences with punctuation by grade 1. It used to be that students in grade 8 would have to convert fractions into decimals. Now we're saying that students in grade 6 should be able to perform that simple mathematical task.

The Common Curriculum was a joke. The joke went something like this: A lumberjack went into a forest and cut down 10 trees an hour for 12 hours and he got paid 10 bucks an hour. It used to be, "What's the answer to that?" The Common Curriculum said: "If the lumberjack goes in, 10 hours, 12 trees an hour, how do the birds and the squirrels feel about that?" That's what The Common Curriculum was all about. We're changing that.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I enjoyed very much the speech of the previous member who spoke on behalf of the New Democratic Party. I always thought that all the experts on education we have on the other side who give their speeches at the Rotary Club and tell the people the way education should be should be required to spend about two months in a classroom in an inner-city school and see the challenges they must face and then see whether they have the same opinion as before they went in. I suspect it might be just a little different view. It's probably the same with any job, if you have to do that.

I'm glad the member mentioned in his speech the consequences of the tax cut. He has obviously made comment on the fact that some of the bond rating agencies have said that to meet its budgetary requirements this government is going to have to cut even deeper if it's going to proceed with its tax cut. Where have you heard that before? You've heard that from this side of the House. You've heard that from independent, outside people. Economists, even those of a small-c conservative nature, have said to you, "If you decide you're going to cut taxes and cut government expenditures at the same time, it will have a contractionary effect, not an expansionary effect." Second, they said it will delay the date at which you reach a balanced budget. That means you're going to accumulate more debt.

I know debt has already been accumulated, but if balancing the budget is very important, surely you wouldn't want to take longer to do so, therefore building up more accumulated debt. You will have accumulated $20 billion more in accumulated debt over the period of your mandate; not all your fault, but you would have responsibility for some of it, because you decided to embark upon a tax cut before you balanced the budget.

Mr Kormos: The problem here is that this government has some sort of fantasy, some sort of obsession with what they think of as the good old days. The good old days, when only the children of rich families could dare think of going to post-secondary education; the good old days they're trying to emulate with their tuition fee increases and this remarkable deal with the University of Western Ontario. They just struck a deal with this government to permit them to charge full-fee, American-style tuitions, tuitions of $18,000 a year for the two-year MBA program at the University of Western Ontario, tuition alone of $18,000 a year. That, in the mind of this government -- which is something of an oxymoron in itself -- is the good old days, when only the wealthiest could attend post-secondary school.

There's the prospect of creating a two-tier health care system, where people like seniors, be it Mrs Marchese or people like Stella Motolanez down on Riverside Drive in Welland, are whacked with user fees, notwithstanding that they're struggling on modest pensioners' incomes. This government likes to say it hasn't created new taxes. It's created one heck of a lot of new user fees, and user fees are taxes. Taxes might as well be user fees.

This government has downloaded thousands and then millions of dollars on to the backs of property taxpayers; large numbers of them seniors on fixed incomes, incomes that are diminishing regularly as a result of the policies of this government; large numbers of them young families headed by, yes, those young adults under 25 for whom unemployment is double the level that it is for the general population in this province. Unemployment in the Niagara region alone is 10.9% and, as I say, double that when you talk about people under 25.

It's little solace for the unemployed to hear about a few part-time, low-wage, temporary jobs that this government has nothing to do with when this government's policies persist in creating a downward spiral of growing poverty and despair for women and men, their parents and their kids across this province.


Mr Klees: Unfortunately, we in this place can't change the channel the way the people at home can, so we're forced to listen to this. It's not surprising that the members here continue with the rhetoric about how the initiatives of this government aren't working.

The reality is that it's the people in this province who overwhelmingly support what we are doing. I can speak from personal experience. People in my riding, people I'm in touch with on a daily basis, tell us that it is working, that the tax cuts are encouraging economic activity. The people in my riding are telling me that a government that finally has the courage to do the things that other governments have not had the courage to do in the past are giving them an incentive once again to invest in their businesses, which in turn creates real jobs.

That is what this budget was all about. It's about handing the province back to the people of Ontario. It means that once again there is confidence in the marketplace. When you take a look at the reality of our society, it means that once again people have hope. They have hope because they can see that they have a government in this province that is doing the things that make economic sense. Houses are being sold, jobs are being created, manufacturing is on the increase. I can tell you this has everything to do with a government that has introduced a budget that makes good common sense for the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Fort York has two minutes to respond.

Mr Marchese: I thank all my friends who have spoken in support of the comments I have made.

Mr Kormos: I'm not sure all of them were your friends.

Mr Marchese: The ones who spoke in support, obviously; the others weren't my friends, clearly.


Mr Marchese: I know you're my friend too, Frank. I accept this. It's all right.

To the member for Niagara South, not to be too unkind to him, because it's unfair to be too impolite, he doesn't know what he's talking about. The member for St Catharines, as a former teacher, understands. That's why he made the comments he did. When the member for Niagara South talks about the feel-good curriculum, that's the feel-good curriculum you people are imposing now on all children. That's the propaganda you people are imposing on all of Ontario. It's nothing short of propaganda.

Our Common Curriculum was something that most people supported, except you conservative types, and there are a number of them: the phonics group, the ones who want to get tough with kids, testing them. We were instituting testing. We began that, so we don't disagree, and that was part of The Common Curriculum. It was all part of it. But your member for Niagara South called it a feel-good curriculum. It's not true, it is simply not true. I'll say no more to that except that I don't think he's up to date on these matters.

As it relates to the income tax cut, again I'll refer you to the economist, Mr Donner, who says: "I believe the tax cutting solutions being proposed and implemented today are basically ideologically driven. They are not designed to create jobs, although they are sold that way to the public. The tax cuts are ultimately for the purpose of eroding the role of government and the expectations people have of government," and that's what this government is all about. We speak to the hope that those who are watching are going to continue fighting the policies of this ideological government.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It is my pleasure to address in the public interest what really should be called the Tory Incompetence Act. After this second attempt at a budget, we have exposed the fact that not only was this government put in place with a Comic Book Revolution, with 21 pages and pictures, but when it comes to doing the tough job of actually trying to figure out how to do things, this government has come up flawed time after time.

Mr Murdoch: Lucky we had the pictures, eh? That way you can understand it.

Mr Kennedy: I hear my honourable colleague from Huron-Bruce talking about --

Mr Murdoch: Grey-Owen Sound; get it right.

Mr Kennedy: His hospitals have been cut, this year and last, 12% and are prepared to be cut even more because of the irrelevant tax cut this government would rather deliver.

Across sit a number of members of a government that would rather impose a tax on seniors' drugs, in fact enjoy doing that so much they imposed the same tax twice in an eight-and-a-half-month period; hit seniors all across the province. It took 71 days. Not one of those members rose in this House in defence of seniors, not one, to tell this government it did wrong. Finally, under the encouragement of our caucus and seniors all across the province, this government caved in. Even they, even this government that knows no shame, couldn't help but not punish seniors a second time. God knows, they've punished them enough.

Increased long-term-care fees in hospitals, something else this government feels good about, made it easy to charge frail seniors waiting for long-term-care facilities, laying in hospital beds. They're now being charged $40 a day, thanks to the changes made by this government that just can't shoot straight.

That is the same government that tells us today they're going to increase fines for liquor offences. Why are they going to do that? Because they think it's going to make up for the liquor inspectors who are going to have to be inspecting gambling facilities all across the province in their new liquor and gambling corporation. Courtesy of this spineless government, unable to come to terms with the fiscal realities on their own and trying to raise three times as much revenue from gambling, we're going to have video gambling machines in every bar and every restaurant across the province. The same inspectors who can't now keep minors out of bars are going to be used to keep minors from gambling. We see rife in this bill, in part III, the hypocrisy of a government that would stoop to depend on gambling revenue because they can't manage the government.

We see that video gambling machines are the unique innovation of this government. In the United States 43 states won't take them, British Columbia won't take them, but they're good enough for Mike Harris, because Mike Harris doesn't have the gumption to put together a properly run government.

What do we see here today? We see a government that prides itself on running things. It's got in this bill that all the trust companies in the province go out of business if it doesn't get passed. We have a government that has put off, as it so often has, its important initiatives and tries to foist that on to the pleasure of the opposition. As you found out today, those bully tactics have a limit. You guys don't own this place; you're just renting, and the lease is running out.

Also contained in this bill is a change in the Securities Act. Finally they stop soaking --


The Acting Speaker: Order. It being almost 12 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 am.

The House adjourned at 2400.