36th Parliament, 1st Session

l217 - Thu 21 Aug 1997 / Jeu 21 Aoû 1997

























































The House met at 1102.




Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I move that in the opinion of this House, Ontario's coat of arms, like those of the majority of Canada's provinces, should feature the royal crown and other suitable heraldic devices, thus completing this official representation of our system of government.

Therefore, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario requests that Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor in Council petition the Canadian Heraldic Authority to augment Ontario's coat of arms with the embellishments to which it is entitled.

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

Mr Jordan: It is a great privilege for me to stand in the House today to discuss my private member's resolution to augment Ontario's coat of arms.

It has been said that symbols speak. All cultures and nations throughout history have had and continue to have their special symbols by which people remind themselves of their personal and group identities.

Coats of arms were originally jackets with symbolic designs on them that indicated to others the authority in which name the person wearing it was acting. It also indicated national, cultural and religious significance and meaning. Such jackets were often worn by soldiers going into battle to allow one side to determine who belonged to the enemy side. From the idea of a heraldic jacket comes the familiar term "Union Jack," since that design was also worn in like manner.

This is what the coat of arms of Ontario represents today. It is a symbol of authority or, to be precise, it is the arms of the Queen in and for the province of Ontario. It represents the crown as the source of authority within our system of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.

The arms of Ontario have undergone significant amendment before and after Confederation in 1867. If we look immediately behind the Speaker's chair in this chamber we see a representation of the coat of arms of Great Britain. The arms of Great Britain, which were once universal in all colonies and countries that were once part of the British Empire, continue to figure prominently in the Great Seal of Ontario as well. But those arms do not represent Britain in the first instance. They represent rather the authority of the crown as the source of the rule of law, the guarantor of the protection of the rights of citizens and the fount of all honour.

In 1867, the province of Ontario was created as a part of the Dominion of Canada, along with the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The shield of Ontario, consisting of three gold maple leaves on a field of green, surmounted by the cross of St George, was granted by Queen Victoria on May 26, 1868. On February 27, 1909, King Edward VII augmented the shield with a green and gold crest with a black bear above the shield and supporters in the form of a moose and a deer.

The loyalist motto was also granted at that time. In Latin, the motto reads: "Loyal In The Beginning, So Remaining." The arms of Ontario are also the only arms in Canada to be stylized, which means the arms are not open to individual interpretation by artists.

Although never officially codified, the meanings of the heraldic emblems have been interpreted variously. The black bear and the supporters, moose and deer, can represent our first nations and the richness and beauty of Ontario's natural environment. The three maple leaves can represent the French, English and multicultural communities of Ontario and their ongoing contributions to our society, like those of the first nations peoples. The cross on white represents the binational source of our parliamentary democratic traditions and constitutional monarchy.

Red and white are the historic colours of England and France and these colours were used interchangeably by both countries over the last 1,000 years. In the first instance, the St George's banner represents the parliamentary tradition of Britain as first established by Simon de Montfort who, in the 13th century, helped establish the first Parliament in England, along with the formation and signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede.

As an interesting aside, when we as members of this chamber bow towards the Speaker's chair, we are not in fact bowing to anything that is here in this House. The first Parliament in England was conducted at Westminster in a church. The altar was removed to make room for the Speaker's chair. When members of the early House left or entered the chamber they bowed to the consecrated spot on which the Speaker's chair stood. To this day, we in all parliaments of the Commonwealth show our historic unity with that first Parliament at Westminster by bowing in the same manner.


Unlike the Canadian coat of arms, however, the Ontario coat of arms does not have a crown. As a matter of fact, it has only been in the last 20 years or so that crowns have been added to provincial coats of arms in Canada. The exception to the rule is the province of Quebec, which in 1939 had its shield augmented with a crown to signify the special protection that Quebec cultural, religious and political rights enjoy under the authority of the crown. It is important to note that the people of Quebec have always referred to their royal past to establish and maintain their cultural identity.

Since the 1980s the co-sovereignty of the province has in fact been recognized, so the provinces have successfully applied for the augmentations to which they are entitled.

We all remember the great example that was set in this regard by a former Speaker of this assembly, David Warner. In addition to his House duties, that Speaker was very committed to the parliamentary process and to Commonwealth activities. It was under him that the coat of arms for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was granted in this House in 1992 to honour the 100th anniversary of this building and the 200th anniversary of the opening of the first Ontario Parliament by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe.

I submit before all members of this House that the time has come for Ontario to join the other provinces in augmenting its coat of arms to represent our province's co-sovereignty within Confederation, as well as to celebrate our 130th anniversary as a province that was founded by French royalists and the United Empire Loyalists. The augmentation of the coat of arms of Ontario, like the granting of arms for this Legislative Assembly, would be an appropriate way to celebrate our great provincial heritage and the landmark anniversaries that we observe this year. Finally, it would underscore our co-sovereignty as a province and multicultural society.

At this time, special mention should be given to Alex Roman, a loyal and devoted monarchist. Alex has been invaluable in the assistance he has given this resolution. His hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed. I would like to ask Alex, Mr Arthur Bousfield, vice-chair of the Monarchist League, and Mr Garry Toffoli, the Ontario chairman of the Monarchist League, to please stand. They are with us, and with them are my staff members Pat deCouto and Matthew MaGuire, who also worked very hard to put this together.

I also want to thank all my honourable colleagues in the House for this opportunity to present my resolution, and I would ask for your enthusiastic support for it. Thank you. God save the Queen.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'm very pleased to join this debate, but before doing so, I must say that I am somewhat surprised by the kinds of motions that government members particularly have brought forward during private members' business. I realize it's an opportunity for us to bring forward whatever item is of particular urgency to that particular member, and I realize the importance of this particular resolution.

But look at everything that's going on in this province over the last couple of years and the tremendous havoc out there as far as the public services are concerned. Look at the fact that hospitals are in great chaos because the government is about to close 20 or 30 hospitals throughout this province, and the tremendous concern that the people of Ontario have about their health care and about the alternative care and the community care facilities and services that need to be out there. Look at what's happening to the education system as well, where we're throwing out the governance structure for the educational system in Ontario that predates Confederation, that predates municipal government. School boards have been in Ontario since 1837 and form an integral part of this province, but we are basically doing away with that system because we're not giving school boards any power whatsoever under the new proposed act; the power to tax has been done away with and the boards have become such large, humongous boards that you probably won't find people who want to serve on them because of the travel that will be required. Look at what's happening to the municipal infrastructure in this province, where municipality after municipality is saying, "If we have the current downloading provisions from the province handed on down to us, then the municipal taxpayers will have to just pay more and more so we can all somehow afford Mike Harris's provincial tax cut." When you look at all that, you wonder why a resolution like this is before us.

I'm going to support this particular resolution -- let me say that -- because I believe it is important. I am a great believer in history and in the heritage of this province and from where we started and from whence we've come. I think our symbols ought to reflect that. In terms of the symbolism of endorsing the notion of a crown on our coat of arms, I totally believe in it and will be supporting.

It also gives us an opportunity to think of the tremendous contribution that the United Empire Loyalists have made to this province. I know most people out there think the United Empire Loyalists were all strictly from Anglo-Saxon stock. This gives us an opportunity to indicate to people that many of the United Empire Loyalists were ex-slaves, and many were immigrants from different countries who had come to the United States but wanted to remain loyal to the crown and settled particularly in eastern Ontario and in the riding the member from Lanark represents and in my own riding of Kingston and The Islands. The United Empire Loyalists have made a tremendous contribution to that part of Ontario and indeed to the entire province. Many of our early leaders of all political persuasions, and not only in the political field but also in the field of industry and the field of education and in every other aspect of our daily life, came from United Empire Loyalist stock or were United Empire Loyalists who came to this province more than 200 years ago.

I intend to support this particular resolution. I have the highest respect for the member for Lanark-Renfrew. I realize he's one of the senior members of this House and he has much wisdom in the number of years he has spent in public life, not only in this particular forum but also in other forums. I urge him to speak to his cabinet colleagues -- he's got much greater influence there than I have as a member of the opposition -- and ask them to review some of these matters they're bringing forward in education and in the health care field. Let us make sure this province remains a province of opportunity, educational opportunity, and a province where people are dealt with equally and fairly when it comes to our health care system. That's the underlying aspect of this province. That's the way it has always been under governments in the past.

When you think of the governments of Bill Davis and John Robarts and the Conservative dynasty of 42 years, regardless of what else may be said, most people felt they always governed with a sense of fairness. I think we're losing that in this province right now. Some people think the changes are going too fast, and some people think that particularly those who are vulnerable in our society are not being adequately protected. I certainly happen to believe that. If you're vulnerable, then the notion that the government will somehow protect your rights and interests is rapidly disappearing with the current government. So I ask the member to talk to your cabinet colleagues about that, and let's temper some of those changes that you're bringing in this province, and indeed reverse them. But I will be supporting this resolution. I think it's very important that we respect the heritage and culture, all of what made Ontario what it is today. Certainly the United Empire Loyalists and the crown have played an extremely large part in that.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): With the amount of effort and work that has gone into bringing forward a resolution of this kind, I'd like to congratulate the member on his efforts in making changes to the coat of arms. In some of the background material we see that other provinces, with the exception of three, have over the years made changes to their coat of arms and have a crown on the coat of arms.

I'm just wondering about the actual cost of making this change. At a time when we see in the last two years a reduction in every service that the people of Ontario have been receiving, should we be spending the millions of dollars it's going to take to make that change at this particular point in time?

I'm in favour of protecting all of our natural heritage that we have out there, including the wildlife, the fish, the spawning beds for the fish and all of this to make sure this environment is there for my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren. These are the areas that we should be spending the dollars on. We should be spending dollars to make sure we have a proper health care system, a good education system, that the municipalities are not going to have to increase property taxes as a result of cutbacks that have taken place over the last couple of years.

Myself and my colleagues have no problem with this particular resolution, but it touches at the heart of the actual dollars. I have no problem with putting this to a committee and working with the member for Lanark-Renfrew, Mr Jordan, on coming up with something. He's given us all kinds of information and mock-up emblems on how the coat of arms would look with a crown on it, and he should be congratulated on that.

But at a time, as I said before, when we're going through a revolution that started two years ago and that revolution is taking its toll throughout this province, I would have thought the private members in the Conservative caucus would be bringing forward resolutions and motions to let the Conservative caucus and Conservative cabinet ministers know the anger and frustration that is out there in this province, the anger and frustration against this government, especially the Premier, that they would be bringing forth resolutions and motions to slow this down. I understand that there are all kinds of cartoons being produced by daily newspapers that reflect the general population that it's moving too fast and in the wrong direction in a lot of cases.

As I said before, municipalities, health care, education, a lot of these other services, services for the seniors -- instead of raising taxes on seniors, raising taxes on property owners, raising taxes for everybody else out there to give a 30% tax break to the wealthiest people in this province, these are the items that the people in this province and the people that I represent, my constituents, want me to talk about and that I'm sure they want the Conservative members to talk about.

We're at the point now where this government is so much off the track that they had to call a special emergency sitting of the Legislature to make sure they can ram through more legislation so they can go ahead with municipal elections, they can go ahead with school board elections, because without the sitting that started last Monday, this province would be completely falling apart.

They've been unable to implement the legislation that they wanted to in the two-year period so that they would prepare themselves for the municipal elections that are normally held in November. Some of them now are probably going to have to be postponed until 1999 because the legislation is not completed. We see that this government could be brought back on track if the backbenchers and the cabinet ministers would listen to the general population out there.

As I said at the beginning, I have no problem in supporting this particular resolution on revising and updating the coat of arms, but there are a lot of other important issues out there: women and children in this province, the seniors who want to hear from the Conservative government on how they're going to be treated and dealt with in the future --

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My understanding is that the member should be speaking to the resolution. He's talking on everything but the resolution.

The Deputy Speaker: I agree.

Mr Len Wood: Thank you, and thank you for the interjection. The coat of arms is very important. As our lead speaker said, there's an emblem behind the Speaker. The coat of arms stands for a lot out there in this province. But there are a lot of other issues that should be dealt with, and I'm sure there are going to be some other speakers who are going to touch on them as we go through this one-hour debate on changing the coat of arms by putting a crown on it, as some of the other provinces have done.

But I must go back to some of the other issues that are out there that are very scary and very damaging to a lot of the people in this province who would like to see other issues debated, whether it be in private members' hour or whether it be during question period or whether it be during committee public hearings, rather than dealing with an issue such as this at this point in time.

I will leave some of my time to my colleague, and if he has some time, we'll give it to the other party. But as I said at the beginning, I will be supporting this particular resolution and hopefully all members in this Legislature will be supporting it.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I'm pleased to stand in the House today in support of the resolution brought forward by my colleague the honourable member for Lanark-Renfrew. I congratulate my colleague for what I believe is a long-overdue completion of the Ontario coat of arms. This is especially true when we see that most of the provinces in the Dominion of Canada have augmented their arms. As the member for Lanark-Renfrew has said, their co-sovereignty with the federal government is in place.

I echo my colleague's view. This being the 500th anniversary of the arrival of John Cabot bearing the royal standard of the crown and the 130th anniversary of Ontario in Confederation, there is no better moment in our history to fully complete our provincial coat of arms.

The enduring role of the crown in our past, present and future is one that should definitely be celebrated. As the member for Simcoe East, I am proud to represent a riding named for the first Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, John Graves Simcoe. Simcoe was responsible for directly implementing the great legacy of the rule of law and administration under the authority of the crown.

That legacy included the outlawing of slavery in Upper Canada. We were 50 years ahead of Britain and 75 years ahead of the United States.

That legacy included the passage of the Constitution Act, which defined and protected the cultural, political and religious rights of Lower Canada and Quebec.

That legacy included the parliamentary system of government that has guided Ontario's development into one of the world's most progressive societies, where multicultural diversity is celebrated and shared by all citizens: this thanks to the open, international cultural focus that the crown and the Commonwealth have afforded us.

Simcoe was indeed one of the great founding fathers of our province. He is more than deserving of a day in his honour, and I know that my colleague the member for Scarborough East is working on his private member's bill to declare Simcoe Day on the first Monday of August. I know all members of this House will want to support him in that important endeavour.

A completed coat of arms for Ontario will celebrate other important themes in our province's history often overlooked or forgotten. The town of Penetanguishene in my riding is a fine example. "Penetanguishene" means "the land of the shifting sands." As one drives into the picturesque town, one sees two angels with trumpets on either side of the road. They represent the guardian angels of the province of Ontario and of the province of Quebec. The trumpeting angelic couriers stand at the entrance of a town that has probably seen more Canadian history than any other Canadian town or city west of Quebec.


Penetanguishene was founded by none other than Samuel de Champlain, whose ship entered Penetang Bay in 1650 and who claimed the land for the French crown. The spot where he is said to have landed is marked by a white cross which is lit up at night. Less than several hundred yards away is the site of the historic Huron village of Toanchay, home to French missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Nicolas Viel. Beginning on September 26, 1626, they wrote the first French-Huron dictionary.

In Penetanguishene, Simcoe built his famous naval and military establishments. It was there French, English, Scottish and first nations recruits volunteered to defend Canada against the American invader.

The legacy of Penetanguishene is a legacy of the crown and of our history. This resolution will, if passed, celebrate Ontario's history and future for all time. I hope the augmentations will include the badges of the United Empire Loyalists and of the Royal French, which speaks to the issue of Canadian unity both in the past and today.

In terms of cost for the augmented coat of arms, it is nominal: from $2,000 to $5,000, which pays for the administrative costs. As with the arms of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, once the certificate with the full coat of arms is issued, the use of the arms will be implemented slowly over time at the discretion of the government.

For example, the Legislative Assembly coat of arms has yet to be represented widely. Here in the Legislative Building there is a framed copy in the lobby. The door of the Speaker's office also displays the meaningful symbol and it is used throughout the offices of the Legislative Assembly, including the interparliamentary and public relations branch.

Should this resolution pass, no one will start ripping down existing Ontario coats of arms from buildings and walls. I draw your attention, as the member has already done, to the coat of arms behind the Speaker's chair, which is of Britain. No one could ever suggest that it be discarded in favour of the modern arms of Ontario today.

Our heritage is one that should be celebrated and honoured. The completion of the Ontario coat of arms would create an enduring monument and reminder to future generations of Ontarians. It will remind us of our early heroes and those who work today in the spirit of the motto of the Order of Canada, "Desiring a better country."

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I would like to, first of all, welcome our guests to the chamber and recognize their interest in the resolution that we are debating here today. I would also like to commend the member for Lanark-Renfrew, as I know he has put much thought into the proposal and we've received a great amount of information. Unfortunately, I can say that I won't be supporting this resolution. As the previous speaker from Cochrane North has indicated already, there are many more issues and real concerns to my constituents.

I would suggest that if you went to any number of my constituents, you would find that this is not a real concern to them. I think the first thing they would say, if I were to go and say to them that we're looking at a change in the coat of arms, is: "Okay. What's that going to cost? Is that going to mean a cost to my son or daughter who has returned to university where they're facing increased tuition fees, where they've been out of work for most of the summer, have not been able to retain a summer job, and now we're talking about a cost going into the change of the coat of arms?"

As well, if I went to my municipalities, they would say: "Oh, there's nothing wrong with the coat of arms. We've all been very proud of that over the years. When we're faced with dumping, unloading of costs, now we're having the government here saying, `We're going to put additional costs into the change of the coat of arms.'"

It's not a real issue among any of my constituents and it has never, ever, as long as I've been here, and I've been here longer than the member for Lanark-Renfrew, been brought to my attention from either a constituent or any member or anyone in the province for that matter.

I think what we have to look at, and again with much respect to the member, are the real issues, the real concerns that are facing the people of this province today. When we talk about closing hospitals, we have a Premier who indicated during the 1995 campaign that it was not in his plan to close hospitals. We have that on tape. We have him making that very specific statement. You would think that the member from Lanark-Renfrew would come in here and want to talk about an issue like that, an issue that would probably be as important to his constituents as it is to mine.

Education in the province of Ontario is another very important issue that I hear about on a regular basis. Rather than talking about a change to the coat of arms, I would think that's another issue the member would want want to take a look at, an issue that I hear about on a daily basis. As I indicated earlier, I have yet to hear from one constituent about the provincial coat of arms. It's not in the cards at this very juncture in the province's history.

When we talk to constituents such as nurses, such as policemen out there, such as people working in the tourist industry, they're not concerned about the coat of arms. Again, I think we have some very important issues, some very real concerns. It would have been my hope today that this member would have joined some of the other members in his caucus, such as Mr Murdoch, Mr Skarica, Mr Carr, Mr Kells, who are coming out and stating publicly what their real concerns are, what they're hearing from their constituents as they move throughout their constituency.

I would say that in bringing forth such a resolution today, when we have all these issues on the table, that some of the members are out of touch with what every day Ontarians are saying to them as members representing their ridings; the member has got to be out of touch with many of their concerns that we hear on a regular basis. We know every Thursday we have private members' resolutions come forth to this Legislature and it's a very important time. I agree that these are private members' issues that we are hearing about in our constituencies. I challenge not only this member but other members who will be bringing forth those resolutions in the future to really talk about what they're hearing in their constituencies, what they are hearing from their constituents.

It's kind of interesting that just recently we are starting to hear about some of these issues. We're finding out that it's the Tory backbenchers, the Tory MPPs, who are becoming worried now. Remember, we're almost halfway through the mandate and all of a sudden they're starting to say, "Holy cow, we've got people out there who don't agree with our policies and I have to get re-elected," and they're suggesting these are issues that are being put forth to them. The coat of arms is not one of them. I must say, that's not one of them.

When I go back to it, I think the constituents out there are more concerned as to what it's going to cost the taxpayer. "What is this going to cost? Does this mean my son or daughter will not have a summer job next year?" in one of these many beautiful programs we heard about yesterday. Then we're finding out more and more that some of them not only did not exist to the extent the ministers were telling us, but all of a sudden we're told about a coat of arms change here today in the Legislature.

I ask the member in his closing remarks to try to convince me that this is not going to be a great cost to the taxpayer. I don't think he can do that. I really don't think he can do that when we talk about this actual change and what it will do here in the province of Ontario. Again, with this government coming along with its many incoherent policies, I would have thought that the member for Lanark-Renfrew would have actually stood up today and talked a little bit more about important issues: issues important not only to his constituents but to my constituents as well.

All one has to do is actually take a look at the present coat of arms today. If you take a look at it, you see a moose, an elk, a bear. There are three animals on there that are very important to my constituents, whether it be a licence to hunt moose, the elk population, the spring bear hunt. Those are important issues represented in what I feel is a coat of arms that represents this province as we sit here today and take a look at it. One just has to take a look at the present coat of arms.

I really think that this member and other members, when it comes to private members' resolutions, Mr Galt being one of them, could maybe take a look at what they are hearing from constituents in their riding and think a little bit more about what they might want to present in this House during this very important time.


I think of people like a constituent of mine. Now, she hasn't received anything on the coat of arms, and I have to be fair here. I know she hasn't received anything on what the member for Lanark-Renfrew has been promoting, but she did receive a very interesting paper: Promises Made, Promises Kept, a two-year major milestone on the Harris government, sent to her by Mike Harris. It was sent to her after she had just lost her job because Mike Harris had cancelled her program. Yet Mike Harris has the gall to send this out to my constituent. Again, I can't say that she received anything from the member for Lanark-Renfrew regarding the coat of arms, but she was very upset to receive this after Mike Harris had laid her off, cut her program, cut her funding, and then had the audacity to send her out this. Promises Kept: jobs, all kinds of stuff in there, after cutting her program, laying her off and laying her fellow workers off, trying to promote to her. She has indicated to me that she has written back to the Premier saying that he had a lot of nerve in doing this. Again, I go back to the coat of arms. I must admit, I don't think she has received anything on this, but I tell you, Jacqueline Rush, who was a training consultant with skills development, would not be interested in this at this time.

Again, on principle, I cannot support this resolution in this, a very important time in our province.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am pleased to join in the debate on this resolution. Let me say at the outset that it is my intention to support the resolution.


Mr Christopherson: It's not very often I get applauded by the government and I don't know if I like it.

Let me say that one of the reasons I want to support this is indeed very personal. While my last name is Danish and I'm very proud of that, the birth name of my mother was Clapham, and there's a great tradition of British history on that side of my family. According to my mother -- and I don't imagine anyone in this place or anywhere else is going to refute the authority of my mother or anyone else's mother -- we can trace it back and there are United Empire Loyalists in the family. There are even landmarks in England that are named after the family, and it's always nice to stand up and be proud of our heritage and our background.

For all those reasons, in addition to the fact that in my riding of Hamilton Centre a large proportion of the population also has roots back to England and all of Britain, I think it's appropriate on a personal basis as well as being the elected member for that area to reflect support for this resolution, and I'm very pleased and very proud to do so.

Having said that, let me point out a couple of things. One, I note that in the background material that the sponsoring member sent out it says, "The remainder of the coat of arms is open to a definition that reflects Ontario's historical and contemporary realities." Again, to use my own riding as an example, if we look at the contemporary realities, the dynamic and the makeup of my community is changing dramatically. There are an awful lot of people whose origins are not British. The member attempts to recognize that by acknowledging it, I believe, with three leaves, one of them being English, one French and one multicultural.

In light of the fact that there is a reference to contemporary realities, I would have hoped and would have preferred that some more time could have been spent to perhaps enhance that reality more. I don't have a quick and easy answer for that, but I think it would be appropriate as our country changes and as our province changes, and certainly all of North America is changing. That diversity is as much a part of our strength as our history. I think to enhance that, in addition to the change with the crown, would not have offended anyone who likes to see the enhancement with the crown and certainly would give a much greater connection for people whose origins are not British. I know that the Brits in my riding are as proud of their neighbours who are from other countries as are those new Canadians who have come to our province and come to our community and share the benefit and the beauty of living in Hamilton. So if there's any opportunity to do that or if the member could comment on that, I'd like to hear it because I know there are a lot of my constituents who would like to know that this Legislature is as interested in the contemporary realities as we are our historical roots.

Let me also say that in all honesty I cannot recall, and if anybody wanted me to, I'd be prepared to check with my staff, receiving a single phone call in the seven years that I have been in this place asking for a change to the coat of arms. That doesn't mean it's not important -- obviously, it is -- but I sure get a lot of calls about a number of other matters.

I raise that because what came to my mind -- and I would think it's not true, knowing the member as I do, and he's been here longer than I have -- is that it almost seems like a convenient diversion, that with all the other issues we do get phone calls about and all the concerns that are out there, it's rather convenient that this hour of the Legislature can be spent talking about something that really is quite motherhood. It's not very controversial. It's not really going to affect anyone's life. Certainly, it's not going to mitigate the damage this government's agenda has done to the lives of the people I represent. I think it would have been more relevant had we seen members, in this case the member for Lanark-Renfrew, bring something that was more contemporary in terms of the quality of life of my constituents, which is falling dramatically as a result of changes this government is bringing about.

Certainly when I talk to people who are at or below the poverty line, the coat of arms is not exactly the first issue that springs from their lips as I ask them about contemporary realities. I would have been happier to be standing here talking about a private member's resolution or bill that would have enhanced their lives or, at the very least, mitigated some of the hurt and pain and loss of quality of life that is taking place in my riding.

In closing, let me return to the fact that however strongly I may feel about some of my concerns, it's the member's right to bring forward what he considers to be a priority. I respect that and will be here to participate in the vote and would recognize our guests here, to whom obviously this is very important. They deserve the attention and respect of this House in that their member brought this forward.

I will indeed be standing up and voting in favour to reflect what I think is an important part of our heritage, but would again ask the member, if he can't change what he's proposing at this time, I would very much appreciate hearing him comment on the contemporary realities of people whose origins are not British. I am just concerned that one of the three maple leaves is maybe just not enough to recognize the importance of the diversity and the strength that it gives us.

With that I will close my remarks and look forward to the rest of the debate.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I am privileged to rise today on behalf of the people of Wellington and join in today's debate on the resolution sponsored by my good friend the member for Lanark-Renfrew regarding the augmentation of Ontario's coat of arms.

I too wish to congratulate my friend for the outstanding work he does every day on behalf of the people of Lanark-Renfrew and for bringing this resolution forward at this time. I hope it sees speedy passage in the House this morning.

Of course, you might expect someone who represents a riding named for the famous Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, to be in favour of this resolution, as I am, involving as it does the completion of the Ontario coat of arms with a crown and trilliums.


It's important to note that the adoption of our official flower grew out of a movement during the First World War to choose a national Canadian floral emblem appropriate for planting on the graves of Canadian servicemen overseas who had given their lives defending the ideals of our nation. The trillium was proposed by the Ottawa Horticultural Society for just such a purpose, but no national flower was ever chosen. It was finally adopted by the province of Ontario in 1937. As one writer of the day put it, "The three sepals and the leaves of the trillium represent the founding fathers of our nation, the aboriginal peoples, the French and the British."

So closely identified with Ontario has it become that the provincial crown of Ontario is now sometimes called the "trillium crown" to signify and express the notion of the co-sovereignty of Ontario with the federal government in Confederation.

One could ostensibly argue for the inclusion of other provincial symbols at the base of the shield of Ontario, as has been done in the rendering of the arms of other provinces such as New Brunswick and Manitoba. The amethyst, the white pine and even perhaps the common loon could be included, if it is the will of the House. The stylized version of the current coat of arms of Ontario would need to be revised and returned to its earlier naturalistic expression, as obtains in all other provincial arms, to achieve a more realistic effect in accordance with the rules of heraldry.

The people of Ontario, it can be said without exaggeration, are a community that is deeply aware and appreciative of its roots. This is why I believe the passage of today's resolution will be greeted very positively by Ontarians across the province, irrespective of their background or political affiliation.

What I'm simply suggesting is that the role of the crown and of our historic traditions is very important in general to all Ontarians, irrespective of their cultural backgrounds. It is a heritage we are all fortunate to share. Those institutions and traditions are a crucial factor in Ontario's ongoing development. We cannot deny our past, nor ever should we; and we can celebrate the best of it and teach others about it, especially in our schools. Civics is an important subject for citizens of all nations to learn, and it has sometimes been said that we in Canada have tended to neglect it.

Our symbols, many of which will be represented on a completed provincial coat of arms, are all an important part of the culture held in common by all Ontarians. They cut across what differentiates us as individuals and groups without cancelling out the characteristic cultural diversity of our society. That is why I say again that I support very strongly this resolution to augment the provincial coat of arms of Ontario, and I call on all members of the House to make their support unanimous.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): I too am very honoured to be able to stand here and congratulate the member for Lanark-Renfrew for bringing forward this resolution. If I may be so bold as to offer the suggestion, this is just another example of the hard work and dedication that member brings to this chamber. As a newly elected member myself two years ago, I must say that the member for Lanark-Renfrew is very much a role model for the rest of us in terms of his dedication.

I was somewhat troubled by the member for Kenora's comments, because the very first thing we do, before we can even claim the title of parliamentarian, is to swear an oath to the crown. To suggest that therefore symbolism is not critically important to reflect that authority in the coat of arms of this province is quite unusual and quite untoward. To suggest that private members' hour is somehow not an appropriate forum to discuss issues like this is very unbecoming, and the member should know better. Private members' hour is precisely to be used for an issue such as this.

Mr Miclash: Talk to my constituents. Talk to Jacqueline Rush after her program was cancelled. Talk to Jacqueline Rush; ask her about the coat of arms. Listen to what Jacqueline Rush has to say about the coat of arms.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Kenora, you don't have the floor.

Mr Gilchrist: I know the member opposite was accorded the respect of people listening to his comments. I would hope he would offer the same respect to the members on this side.

The bottom line, though, is that private members' hour is an important opportunity for members on both sides of the House to bring forward initiatives that aren't of the import of, say, some of the labour initiatives and education and health care. The backbenchers are not in a position to change that. What we are in a position to do is to reflect the values and the priorities of the people in our ridings, and the member for Lanark-Renfrew does that in spades when he brings forward this resolution.

The crown is the symbol of authority in our system of government, both in our parliamentary democracy and in the constitutional monarchy. The other augmentations proposed by the member will reflect the historical realities of this province and, as our colleague from Hamilton Centre just offered a few minutes ago, also incorporate a number of contemporary aspects of Ontario society as well.

The absence of a crown is a terrible oversight. Indeed, that Ontario has lagged behind other provinces is a fact that is to the credit of this member to have noticed and to have reflected in this resolution.

It's particularly fitting in this year, the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Giovanni Caboto, or John Cabot, as he's known in England, and the establishment of royal authority, the authority of the crown in Canada, that the member would be bringing forward this resolution and hopefully seeing it reflected in action by the Legislative Assembly.

The symbol of our crown is important. The coat of arms is important. I think this resolution goes a long way to incorporating in that coat of arms the very basis, the very underpinnings of all that we stand for in this chamber on both sides of the House. I would call on all members to put aside their political and partisan differences and reflect that reality by supporting the honourable member's resolution here today.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I thank the member for Scarborough East for sharing the time. It's a pleasure to stand in support of ballot item 89 and the member for Lanark-Renfrew, Mr Jordan. I have the greatest respect for him and his dedication to the very theme we're discussing today. I just wanted to bring together a few little elements of the importance of this private member's resolution.

My riding of Durham East has a long tradition of being united behind many traditions of the country and its formation, for many years. The symbols we possess today as a country, as a province and as communities, and indeed as families, are very important. They're stressed or recognized by our flags, our colours and, as mentioned by one of the previous speakers, our flowers and animals. For us the flower is of course the trillium, recognized in 1937 as the symbol.

This is all about bringing forward the traditions that embrace and embellish not only this Legislature but indeed Canada, democracy and the Commonwealth and the special relationship we have with the crown sovereign of our country, the reigning Queen. I think it's very fitting and appropriate that we bring together the symbols and traditions, and I think Mr Jordan has done a remarkable job of researching those traditions and symbols and recognizing them by augmenting and completing our wonderful and beautiful coat of arms.

I'm wearing on my lapel, as most members do, the flag of Ontario, a stylized version, but it also has the coat of arms. I'd be pleased to wear the crown as the completion of our symbols of the province of Ontario. I'd urge every member to support Mr Jordan's resolution today.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? There are 12 seconds left. If not, I recognize Mr Jordan for two minutes.

Mr Jordan: It's indeed a pleasure to have this opportunity to respond to some of the members who have shown an interest, first of all by coming here this morning and by taking time to provide their thoughts on this resolution.

As to the member for Kingston and The Islands, I was moved, if you will, by his concern about cost. That should not be a concern, because nothing will be changed until the present crests and correspondence and so on that we're using have to be replaced. That would not be changed; it's not affected. What you're telling me is that perhaps you didn't read all the research we sent. Lots of times, members don't have time to read that.

But I want to thank them very much that they do support it and see the value in it. When we go out on Remembrance Day in November, we don't go out to promote a conflict; we go out to honour those who gave us what we have. That is the thought behind bringing the crown to the crest of Ontario. In so doing, as the premiers come together shortly, we will then be co-sovereign with the federal government; we are, but it will be brought to light that we have certain sovereign rights within the sovereign nation. As was pointed out, Quebec since 1939 has had the crown on theirs to recognize its special status relative to language, religion and common law. Going into the premiers' conference alone, I think it's valuable that we have brought this to the House.

I thank all my colleagues for their support.

The Deputy Speaker: The time provided for private members' public business has expired.

We will deal with ballot item number 89 standing in the name of Mr Jordan. If any members are opposed to a vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Jordan has moved private member's resolution number 64. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

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

The House recessed from 1202 to 1330.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): Mr Speaker, you will remember that yesterday we heard from various ministers about job programs they had created. They were congratulating themselves on the great number of programs they had created.

I had brought to my attention another piece of propaganda sent out by Mike Harris with a letter on June 19. It's Promises Made, Promises Kept: Two-year Major Milestones of the Harris Government. There is one constituent in my riding who was not impressed to receive this, Ms Jacqueline Rush, who was a former training consultant of the Ontario skills development office. She gets this beautiful handout about how the Harris government has created this number of jobs. She was laid off by the Harris government before receiving this package in the mail.

She took the June 19 letter and wrote to Mr Harris: "Thank you very much for all this information. You just overlooked the fact that you cut the funding to my program and laid me off at the beginning of May." She goes on to thank the Premier.

I would like to know what the Premier spent on sending out this propaganda to constituents across Ontario, how many he sent out, how many of these people found themselves in the same spot as Jacqueline Rush when they received it, not only to have been laid off but to have lost their program. I want the Premier to table those numbers and the amount this propaganda cost the Ontario taxpayers.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): When this Legislature was discussing Bill 104, the Fewer School Boards Act, one of the concerns that was raised by both opposition parties was the issue of how the rules and their change would affect the willingness of citizens to dedicate the time and energy that's needed to have citizen control of school policy.

Indeed, we read this morning in the London Free Press -- the heading is, "School Reforms Scaring Off Some Would-be Trustees." Out of 99 incumbent trustees in the reformed school boards in London, Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford counties, only two have declared themselves willing to run under the rules. Why? Let me quote one of the current incumbents, who said: "It's just not worth it. All these changes drove me up the wall, but it was the disrespect the government has shown for trustees, educators and the whole system that really got to me. To be so devalued by the education ministry is like a slap in the face. It's demeaning, degrading and upsetting."

It is very important for the citizens of this province to have as their representatives on school boards people who are dedicated to the issue of education, and this government, with the changes it has made, is undermining that democratic process.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): I rise today to offer congratulations to the Swansea Horticultural Society on their first-place finish in the cottage garden category at this year's Canadian National Exhibition garden contest.

In the four-year history of the Ontario Horticultural Association contest, the Swansea Horticultural Society has entered the past three years, placing second in 1995, third in 1996, and first place this year. Dave Money, the coordinator of the contest, stated that the judges felt the garden was more than deserving of its first-place finish.

The display was made up of black oak savannah native plants, which are on loan from the city of Toronto's High Park greenhouse, and trees from the city tree nursery. These plants and trees will be returned to the city to be planted after the close of the CNE in September.

The objective of the display is to educate people to the attractiveness of our native plants and grasses.

The Swansea Horticultural Society, located in the heart of my riding of High Park-Swansea, and just a few blocks away from historic High Park, will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Formed in 1937 by gardeners in the great village of Swansea, it has survived and continues its traditions of planting and maintaining native plants at the Swansea Town Hall Community Centre.

My congratulations to Bill Roberts, president of the Swansea Horticultural Society, for planning and designing the basic elements of the display, and to Eugene Gallagher, who designed the water elements. Congratulations also to the other members of the team, Susan Drac, Olga Waszek, Maria Boylan, Marjorie McMullin, Courtney Jackson and Alec Gallagher.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Yesterday the government brought in rule changes to this Legislature. This set of measures is the most galling in that it attempts to undermine not just the opposition members but members of the public, who have a legitimate right to know what's going on with legislation.

What I've realized is that this government is doing that with just about every measure it takes. Its modus operandi is to ensure that no one can keep up with its agenda; to pass as much legislation as it can, bad legislation that it's attempting to hide from the public in an effort to move forward with another part of their agenda, which would then see them get through the next election with accolades from people right across this province.

You're not going to get away with it. These rule changes are part of that political imperative to ensure that the government can act with haste when it deals with the bad part of its agenda, its political agenda. We're not going to allow you to get away with that and the public isn't going to allow you to get with that, because it's anti-democratic. Quite honestly, people will catch up to you.

Isn't it ironic that your own backbenchers are saying you're going too fast, that this isn't going slow enough for people to be consulted. In fact, consultation is the cornerstone of our democracy.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Yesterday the Solicitor General released the fire marshal's report on the Plastimet fire in my home town, Hamilton. In fact, that fire was right in my riding and it affects the constituents I'm elected to represent here.

As far as the report goes, it's fine, but who knows if it goes far enough? We don't yet have all the facts and information on the table. But in that report, the fire marshal says early on, "Consequences may include immediate and long-term health outcomes for the general public and emergency responders." That's a serious statement, a serious indictment of this government's lack of response to those health concerns.

The Public Inquiries Act states as part of the requirement to hold a public inquiry that there be "a matter of public concern." I can't imagine a statement coming from an official as important as the fire marshal being more a matter of public concern than one that says there may be long-term health effects on the residents and the people who fought that fire.

You want to talk about public concern? Look at the headlines in the Hamilton Spectator that blaze across our porches every day: "116 Hospital Staff Ill After Fire." "Fire's Legacy Damning: 38% in Area Reported Being Sick." "Plastimet Fallout Threatens Water." There's no excuse at all for this government not to call a public inquiry, unless there's something they're afraid of.


Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): On Friday, August 8, I was honoured to take part in a ceremony at the Henley Regatta site in St Catharines. The event was held to dedicate seven shells, all doubles, to the Canadian rowing team.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank John and Norris Walker of Walker Industries for donating those shells. Their voluntarism and spirit of giving is so important to so many people and programs in the Niagara region.

All seven shells were dedicated to individual who worked tirelessly to ensure that the 1999 World Rowing Championships came to Ontario and the city of St Catharines. One, I discovered a day before the ceremony, was dedicated in my name, a very humbling experience, particularly knowing how the sport of rowing teaches our young people about team building, self-discipline and working together for the benefit of the team, a good example for all our communities, our province and our country.

Thanks also to the Premier and to the government for approving up to $1.5 million towards the cleanup of the Henley course, which, when combined with the contribution of other partners, all three levels of government and the community, was a prerequisite to winning the bid to hold the World Rowing Championships.

I, along with all Ontarians, look forward to welcoming the world to the city of St Catharines in 1999.



Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Time and time again I have raised the issue of the extreme injustice this government is committing against those in our province who live in island communities.

This government's decision to download to municipalities responsibility for operating and financing ferry services that link those islands to the mainland will have a devastating financial impact.

For example, taking on the responsibility will cost $5.8 million for the Howe and Wolfe islands ferries and $1.4 million for the Amherst Island ferry, a 400% to 800% tax increase. That decision alone leaves the islands facing eightfold property tax increases.

Now we have the estimated cost of police services, and just when the islanders thought things couldn't get worse, they did. Wolfe Island, for example, is told it's going to have to pay $154,000 for police services, which amounts to $197 per household. That seems a little steep considering that municipal officials estimate that on average, police visit the island about twice a month. That is about $6,000 per visit.

The islanders want to pay their fair share, but surely this is not fair. This is robbery. In the case of Howe Island, they're asked to pay $60,000 for police services. They have a total budget of $300,000. The police go there about once or twice a year, at a rate of about $20,000 a visit.

Mr Solicitor General, do the right thing.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Tonight at midnight the new rules take effect and the Harris government chalks up one more successful blow against democracy. These new rules mean the government can now ram through its destructive agenda at breakneck speed, passing bills before anybody has had a chance to really look at them. Our ability to debate legislation in this House has been seriously eroded. There will be far less debate and far less public scrutiny. That's not what democracy is about.

Where is the chorus of Ontarians crying out for faster legislation? I haven't heard it. Even that ever-diminishing group of Ontarians who generally support your agenda say you are going too fast, "Too much, too soon; slow it down and get it right." Even some of your backbenchers are telling you to slow down.

It's a slap in the face of some of your own caucus, to the opposition, to the media who monitor the goings-on here, but mostly it's a slap in the face of the people of Ontario who elected your government. Once again Mike Harris is not listening to what the people are telling him.

In conclusion, I want to read from a letter from a constituent, Mr Patrick Galvin, who lives in my riding. He says:

"We must always bear in mind that the privileges and rights of Parliament are ultimately the rights of the people. Let us never forget to be vigilant in defending these rights, because if we do not in the future, we may not have these rights and privileges to use."


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): This afternoon I have the pleasure of informing the members about an event to be held this weekend for the first time in Cobourg, Ontario. This event is a very special one as it is the third national Masters Fastball Tournament, to be held in this beautiful town.

Opening ceremonies to kick off the event will be held this evening, which include 14 masters teams from across Canada. The masters division is comprised of players who are age 37 and older, with pitchers required to be a minimum of 40. When I become of age, I hope to join.

The tournament is to be held in Cobourg at the Legion Fields Sports Complex, which has been hailed by many to be the best softball facility in Canada.

I extend my congratulations to the town of Cobourg, particularly Mr Bob Spooner, deputy reeve, and Mr Harry Jescke, manager of the Legion Fields Sports Complex, for working with the Canadian Amateur Softball Association to organize this exciting national event on such short notice. With only five months of preparation, where the average notice has been one to two years, there's been an extraordinary effort put forth by all those involved, including facilities staff, baseball players' spouses and many volunteers. With such commitment and top-notch competitors, this weekend is sure to be an unqualified success.

Attending this premier national tournament is definitely an excellent reason to plan for a visit to Cobourg this weekend, and we certainly extend very best wishes for great weather for the upcoming weekend.



Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): We are committed in this government to improving the lives of children in this province, so I'm pleased today to inform the House that there are going to be two independent reviews of the child protection system in Ontario. These reviews are the next in a series of steps that we are taking to reform the child protection system.

An independent review will be undertaken of a random sampling of child abuse and neglect cases in all 55 children's aid societies in the province. In addition, an external review will be conducted by an independent consultant on how the ministry is meeting its responsibilities under the Child and Family Services Act.

We know there are problems with the child protection system; we know from the coroners' inquests, the Ontario Child Mortality Task Force, the front-line workers, the children's aid societies. These two reviews, these two additional steps, are going to give us the specific data we need to help correct those problems.

While a process exists to monitor how each children's aid society meets with ministry standards, this review is a significant departure from the past. It marks the first time that the review will be conducted by independent experts as well as staff, and also the review will include child neglect cases as well as child abuse cases.

The review of the children's aid societies will examine the case files for compliance with ministry standards and make recommendations for improvement. If necessary, each society will be required by the ministry to take corrective action. These findings will be used to develop steps that can be taken province-wide to improve the child protection system in Ontario.

The external review that's being conducted by an independent consultant on the ministry is going to look at how we can improve how the ministry manages and monitors the child protection system. This review is going to result in recommendations to improve the ministry's policies and our organizational responsibilities. Both reviews will be completed by the end of the year.

We have welcomed the comprehensive and constructive recommendations made by the Ontario Child Mortality Task Force and the inquests that have been held over the last several months. We are taking a step-by-step approach to improve the child protection system by implementing those recommendations pertaining to the ministry.

The steps already taken include $45 million allocated for more intervention and prevention programs; an additional $15 million from the government's spring budget to help protect vulnerable children; a mandatory risk assessment system for use by the children's aid societies across the province; a computer database to link all children's aid societies across Ontario; and additional resources for training.

We are also going to establish a panel of experts to examine the child protection issues in the legislation, the Child and Family Services Act. We will also work with professional organizations to raise their awareness about the requirement for them to report child abuse and neglect.

I want to make sure that the ministry is doing what it can to protect children in this province. These initiatives and the others we will take will help reform the system to do this. I invite my colleagues from across the floor, along with the others who have been involved in child protection, to continue working together with us to improve the lives of children in this province.

In closing, I'd like to add that I had the opportunity to meet with the board members of the children's aid association yesterday, and I must say I was pleased with their commitment and cooperation. That relationship between them and their agencies and the ministry is helping the system improve, and I look forward to continuing that relationship in the future as we take additional steps.


Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Today the government will be tabling amendments to Bill 99, the Workers' Compensation Reform Act.

The standing committee on resources development recently concluded 10 days of public hearings in Toronto, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Windsor, London, Cambridge, Burlington and Kingston. During that time, more than 140 groups and individuals appeared before the committee and about 150 submissions were received.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who participated in the deliberations and I also want to thank the many groups and individuals who took the time to provide their input. The government listened to the very useful advice provided by injured workers and their spouses, employees, employers and medical experts during these hearings across Ontario.


In response we are proposing changes that reflect the most current knowledge and practices in injury prevention and workplace compensation.

First, our proposed changes will ensure that research is immediately targeted towards the pressing issue of chronic pain while compensation for injured workers suffering from chronic pain will continue.

Second, we are introducing amendments that will introduce a limited policy audit function for the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. Under certain circumstances this will permit WCAT to refer policy issues back to the Workers' Compensation Board for review within 60 days. WCAT will continue to be bound by WCB policy.

Third, we are introducing changes to clarify return to work and labour market re-entry provisions of Bill 99 in order to ensure that injured workers are returned to work in a safe and timely manner.

In a moment, my colleague the minister responsible for seniors issues, and formerly the minister responsible for workers' compensation, will provide details with regard to an additional amendment which will significantly impact the benefits of seniors.

Bill 99 represents the final step in the complete overhaul of the workers' compensation system. When it is fully implemented, it will strengthen the board's pivotal role in preventing injury and illnesses in our workplaces.

This legislation will fulfil one of this government's key commitments and contribute to a climate of economic growth and job creation. It will also lead to a significant reduction in the human, social and economic costs of workplace injury and illness. It will result in a fully funded system that is sensitive to the needs of injured workers and sustainable by the employers who fund the system and create the jobs.

We are looking forward to presenting this bill to the Legislature this fall for third reading and implementing the new act effective January 1, 1998.


Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): It gives me great pleasure to join my colleague the Minister of Labour in proposing an initiative worth over $135 million to some of the most vulnerable members of Ontario society.

Members will be aware that lifetime workers' compensation pensions are paid to the widows and widowers of persons killed in workplace accidents in our province. However, widows and widowers remarried prior to 1985 had their pensions cut off upon remarriage. They received a lump sum payout equivalent to two years' benefits and nothing else.

The act was amended in 1985 to protect the benefits of widows and widowers who remarried after the April 1, 1985, date. However, the 1985 amendments failed to remove the unfair penalty imposed on widows and widowers who had already remarried. This government is committed to a workers' compensation that operates on principles of fairness and protection of the most vulnerable. The arbitrary 1985 cutoff rule meets neither test.

This afternoon the government will be tabling a further amendment to Bill 99, one that would restore the benefits lost by widows and widowers who remarried prior to 1985.

This amendment, if approved by the committee and ultimately by this Legislature, will allow widows and widowers to have their lost benefits reinstated retroactively to 1985. The Workers' Compensation Board estimates that this amendment would provide widows and widowers: $95 million in lost benefits; in addition, $40 million in future benefits.

Allow me to recognize the special contributions of injured workers support groups, and in particular Ms Muriel Poster of Thunder Bay. Ms Poster raised the issue of survivor benefits during my consultations last year and again during the Bill 99 committee hearing process.

Others who have continued to press the issue of survivor benefits include Morag Connelly of the Oakville section of the Injured Workers Support Group and groups like Senior Link who represent and work with seniors in need, who are in the House with us this afternoon.

In speaking with Lillian Morgenthau of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons this afternoon, she said: "Widows and widowers are the most vulnerable group in our society. We applaud the government for listening and correcting this injustice."

Members will also want to recognize the personal support and leadership in this initiative that has been shown by the chair of the WCB, Glen Wright, and my colleague the Minister of Labour and her parliamentary assistant, Bart Maves. I urge all members to support this important amendment to Bill 99 and to join in redressing unfair treatment of widows and widowers that has continued for far too long in the province of Ontario.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I want to respond to the statement made by the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister today made a great show and tells us that in her heart of hearts, she is deeply concerned about Ontario's children.

I have more than a few questions to put to her today on behalf of Ontario's children. As the minister ultimately responsible for the welfare of children in this province, here are some of the questions: Where were you when your government decided to cut welfare rates by 22%? Where were you when 500,000 Ontario children were affected in a very direct way by those cuts? Where were you when they decided to get rid of junior kindergarten in the province so that now this September we will have 60,000 Ontario children deprived of junior kindergarten? JK, as the minister well knows, is, among many other things, an opportunity for kids to be brought into the system, for teachers to get a look at them, to assess them, to find out if there are any problems and to begin to address those problems.

Minister, when you were at the cabinet table and the Premier said, "We need $5.5 billion to pay for our tax cut," why didn't you say, "You can get it from other ministries, but you're not going to get it from Ontario's kids and you're not going to get it from Ontario's children's aid societies"?

Children's aid societies have responded in the only way they could. They let go 340 case workers. You are now purporting to do a review to tell you what the problems are. We already know, by and large, what those problems are. We had the report of the Ontario Child Mortality Task Force, the final report that came out in July of this year, and it stated in part: "The review of workloads throughout children's aid societies indicates that the system is operating beyond its capacity. Sufficient time and support must be made available for effective interventions to be designed and delivered."

They are saying that they are understaffed, that they are overworked and that they are underfunded. What you have done is you have contributed to that problem in a very real way by cutting $17 million from Ontario's children's aid societies. What I'm asking you on behalf of Ontario's kids is, when are you going to start to do your job? When are you going to stand up for them? When are you going to tell other people at the cabinet table that in the grand scheme of things, if we can't get it right with the kids, we're screwing up our future and that it's your responsibility and if they won't allow you to bring forward those kinds of initiatives on behalf of Ontario's kids, that you're not going to stand for it, that you're going to go public because you feel you have a solemn responsibility and obligation to Ontario children?

Minister, you will know that I have put together a task force, together with my caucus, and we are travelling the province and we are picking up the last few titbits of information that are necessary before we move forward on this issue. I will be bringing those to this Legislature. They will be solid and substantive, and I will be expecting you to act on behalf of Ontario's children.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I would like to address the comments to the Minister of Labour and the minister responsible for seniors. First of all, it is interesting to follow the parade of announcements to show a kinder, gentler face. The indications, by what you have said today, indicate somewhat of an improvement. I hope these aren't the only three amendments that the government plans to put forward. We expect there will be hundreds because the bill is a large one, 102 pages, plus many things to deal with.

If, as the minister says, you have truly, truly listened, you would have heard the message loud and clear that the issue of chronic pain that you talk about -- you're just saying you are going to do research on it -- conclusively, beyond the normal healing time, is a major, major problem and leads to unfairness.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): On the issue of dealing with seniors or people who have lost their spouses, you say you're restoring the benefits fully, which to me would mean it would go back to 90% of the benefits, which was in the original bill; and that you would also deal with the deindexing formula, which as you know in Bill 99 is cut again from what it is in the present existing bill, so that would return to three quarters of what the factor is. If you're serious about this, I hope you will have listened to Muriel Poster and her concerns that the restoration be just and fair. It is not just for her but also for many others around the province. I know you know that there would perhaps be a pending legal action, as there was in British Columbia recently in which the widows of deceased workers won their case. I look forward to the amendments and to look at the specifics, and I hope you come forward with many more.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): In response to the Minister of Community and Social Services, whenever you make a statement that takes a step forward for children, you know I will be there supporting you. But I've got to tell you, today I'm reminded of someone who is running frantically to and fro trying to plug the leaks when it was your own gang of friends who set off the explosives that created the cracks in the first place.

I don't think your government gets it. I don't think you understand some of the measures you've put in place and the consequences for children in this province. That has left you and your ministry, with the children's aid society, desperately trying to meet a growing demand, which is impossible when you've had resources taken away from you. Let me just remind you that your first step in terms of cutting social assistance touched the lives of half a million children in this province and their families and created much greater stress on those families.

Take a look at the way in which, unfortunately, your government moved ahead at breakneck speed and bungled your reforms to the family support plan and how that left families without payments and in crisis, under more stress. Take a look at what's happening here in Metro, the fastest-growing population. In our shelters right now are children under the age of five, homeless. Think of this. At a time when we're hearing stories about refugees coming from Czechoslovakia and there's not enough room in the shelters, it's because we have 1,800 homeless families in those shelters right now. The result of that and many of the other things your ministry has done has put such stress on families. It has created a greater population at risk.

I spoke with an executive director of the children's aid society recently who told me that they used to identify reasons for the families they were dealing with in categories, like that there might have been alcohol abuse or substance abuse, or there may have been physical abuse in the family or a history of it. The greatest reason now is inability to cope, families with the inability to cope. That's directly as a result of some of the actions of your government.

Minister, these are tools, and tools are good and important, but if you don't have the workers to pick up the tools and use them, the work can't get done. You have created an increase in demand for children's aid services in this province as a result of your action. In the last year it has gone up by 10%. We have lost 340 workers from the system. You have cut the front-line money. It's breaking. It's bursting at the seams. The system can't cope. You have got step in and change that, because more kids are at risk and government has less ability to deal with it.

This is a crisis. You can't keep putting Band-Aids on it. You say you want to work with us. I have offered select committees. I have offered all sorts of ways of working with you. You haven't taken me up on it. Get serious. Let's put children first in reality, not just in rhetoric.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to respond to the comments of the Minister of Labour and minister without portfolio. I first of all acknowledge how ironic that it's the Bonnie and Clyde of WCB destruction who stood in their places today to talk about fairness; in their comments they speak of fairness. Hell, this government took the word "fair" out of WCB, the same as you did with the Ontario Labour Relations Act. You don't know anything about fairness; you just know about taking care of your pals.

This statement today goes on to talk about how you care about the most vulnerable. Bull. What happened was that you had so many people at those public hearings that you had to respond to at least a couple of issues. This is a victory for those injured workers who came out in the dead of summer to fight you and publicly proclaim their opposition to what you're doing. It's got nothing to do with what you think about the most vulnerable.

Let's take a look at what you're not doing. You're not changing the fact that 5% of the net income of injured workers is taken away. You're not doing anything about the fact that $6 billion of that money is going to your corporate pals as a refund, as a gift. You're still taking away 50% of the contribution of money into the injured workers' pension plan, and you say you care about the most vulnerable.

You're still eliminating the Occupational Disease Panel. You say in here that what you're doing will contribute to a reduction in the human, social and economic costs of workplace. Bull. What it's going to do is reduce the number of reported injuries, because fewer people will qualify, fewer people will be allowed to meet the time limits, more people will be intimidated in terms of putting in claims. That's what this is all about. You're going to make the stats look good while the injured workers sit out there on the social scrap heap and suffer. Then you stand in here and have the audacity to say that you care.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, you announced with great fanfare today that you are about to do something which you believe to be in the interests of Ontario's children. I want to come back to this issue of $17 million which I have raised countless times in this Legislature. You can't get off the hook on this one.

The $17 million resulted in the loss of 340 case workers in our children's aid societies. The Ontario Child Mortality Task Force says we have a number of problems, and one of those certainly is the fact that we are understaffed when it comes to having enough people on the front line who can go into homes, make assessments and do whatever is necessary to protect children. There was all kinds of evidence at coroners' inquests themselves which related how some of the problems connected there were related to the fact that CAS is understaffed.

Do you not feel that the appropriate measure to take immediately is to restore that funding of $17 million?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I appreciate the question from the honourable member. If all we were doing to respond to the 122 recommendations that have come forward from those very thorough task forces was the two things we announced today, I could understand his concerns and his frustration. But that is not all we are doing. There are a whole series of things that we are doing because there are a whole series of recommendations that have been made, not only to us but to the children's aid societies. We know we have to make these changes, and I make no apologies for taking a step-by-step approach. We want to make sure that what is happening will actually assist and we want to make sure that the workers are there, they've got the tools they need.

As for the money that he keeps harping on, throwing money at the system has been the way everyone has always solved the problem. If it's money he wants to talk about, and he keeps talking about $17 million, well, I would like to throw back to him the $60 million that we have invested and put forward for intervention and prevention and to assist in responding to those recommendations.

Mr McGuinty: The minister just doesn't get it. There is no substitute for having people, caring workers, on the front lines in Ontario who can go in, find out where the problems are and take the corrective action, whatever that might be. There is simply no substitute for that.

We have countless kinds of evidence before us now that we are underfunded. Our care workers are working too long and they're not being able to get all the work done. You've got to address that fact in the most immediate way, and the only way to do that is to restore that funding. How you could have allowed the Premier to take $17 million away from our children's aid societies is beyond me. But you can stand up right now and you can correct that and say, "I commit immediately to restoring that $17 million." Will you do that, Minister?

Hon Mrs Ecker: There are many people on the front lines in this child welfare system. What they don't need is another great, grand task force like our honourable member has. He says, "We have the recommendations." He says, "We know what needs to be done." If that is the case, then why is he out conducting this great, grand task force that he has going?


We have recommendations; we know what needs to be done. Today we announced two more steps in responding to that because we recognize that system has to be fixed to better protect those children.

The other thing we think is very important -- and again if he has listened to what has happened with the recommendation and what the experts are saying -- is that one of the ways we have to relieve the pressure on those children's aid societies and those workers who are doing those jobs is to do more for intervention and prevention so families don't end up at children's aid, so kids don't end up falling through the cracks.

Mr McGuinty: Fifty-six Ontario children were murdered in the last two years. The majority of those kids were under the age of three. The inquests have pointed to the fact time and time again that we aren't doing enough in this province to care for our kids, and they point time and time again to the fact that there are simply not enough people on the front lines to make the necessary inquiries and to take the necessary steps to ensure that we're protecting our kids.

You can dance around this as long as you want, but at the end of the day, after you have four months of review and where we now know that about 20 kids a day are the subject of abuse in Ontario -- at least 20 kids a day -- you can count the numbers for yourself and tell me how many children will have been abused or will have been the subject of neglect while you fiddle.

Minister, once again, $17 million: Will you return that to its rightful owners, the CAS in this province so they can do the work on behalf of Ontario kids?

Hon Mrs Ecker: We are putting $60 million into helping improve our child welfare and our intervention and prevention programs out there. Yes, resources are part of the response. That's why we have put that money forward, but so is training, so are better data, so is a better risk-assessment tool. Those also are the recommendations that have been put forward to this government; so also is improving the standards, improving the ministry's response to how children's aid societies work. We have been quite prepared to take those steps. I continue to be prepared to take those steps, and I congratulate the children's aid societies for the work they are doing, not only out there on the front lines but with this ministry and with this government, to fix the system. That's what we should be doing, fixing the system. That's what we are doing.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. You will know that some time ago now we had a very serious fire in the Hamilton area. Thousands of people were living in the immediate vicinity. The fire took place some few short blocks away from homes. You will know that we have been pressing for an inquiry in this matter and we believe it's important to get to the bottom of this issue, to find out a number of things related to the cause of the fire, the role your ministry played or did not play and the outcome to the people who have been affected by the fire.

I want to begin by asking you a very simple question: Why did it take 11 hours, 11 full hours, for that piece of equipment, which I understand is the only one we have in the province which properly analyses the air and helps us assess whether or not neighbours in the immediate vicinity ought to be evacuated, to get from wherever it was in this province -- and this falls under the responsibility of your ministry, clearly -- to the site to make an assessment as to whether or not the people living in the immediate vicinity ought to be evacuated?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I think the Leader of the Opposition should know that the response to a fire is done in terms of the stages of the seriousness and the recognition of the seriousness of that fire. My officials were on the site about an hour after the fire started. At that point in time they started to advise the fire chief and the medical officer of health of the contents of the plant and give them advice as to what the firefighters could expect in terms of the smoke and inhalation problems they might have.

About two hours past that, the emergency 2 vehicle was put in place and was onsite and started to take samples of the air. They produced those samples by about 11:30. At about 11:50, 10 minutes before midnight my officials decided to call the TAGA truck, which was in Toronto at that time. They had to get together the staff, they had to calibrate it. They were onsite at 5:30, five and a half hours after they were called.

Mr McGuinty: The bottom line here is that it took 11 hours for a piece of equipment that your officials believed was essential to make an assessment of the environmental risk and the risk to the health of the people living nearby to get to the site.

I do not believe that is acceptable, and that is one of the reasons why we are calling for a public inquiry. I think we owe it to the firefighters who were called upon, at risk, to fight this fire, who are demanding a public inquiry, that we have such an inquiry. I think we owe it to the people of the city of Hamilton, whose municipal council has by way of a resolution asked for an inquiry. I think we ought to have that inquiry. There are a number of community groups the minister would be well aware of who are also asking for an inquiry.

We have to find out the answer to a number of questions, including, why did it take so long to get that piece of equipment to the site? How many other sites would there be potentially in this province now which would place other communities at risk? Minister, once again, will you have the inquiry?

Hon Mr Sterling: As I indicated, the emergency response does not require that this particular piece of equipment be in place at any fire across Ontario. There are two such TAGA trucks, which cost over $1 million apiece, that are manned by very skilled technicians and are located at different places in the province and have different functions when they're not called in an emergency situation.

There was a decision at 10 to 12 to call this truck into place. At that time of the night, of course, many of the people who would operate this truck, very skilled people, were all over the place and it was necessary to collect them. They started to collect them about 1 o'clock in the morning and they were there at 5:30. I don't think that's unreasonable. I don't think that leads to a call for an inquiry.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): Minister, you must be the only person in this province who believes that your ministry's response to the fire was adequate. Maybe you should ask the over 100 firefighters who suffered health effects as a result of the fire if they believe it was adequate. Maybe you should ask the 116 staff at Hamilton Civic Hospital who suffered health effects. Maybe you should ask the 38% of the residents who reported health effects from the fire if your response was adequate. Frankly, it was inadequate.

You don't have all the answers, we don't expect you to have all the answers, but that is why we are asking for a public inquiry. You owe it. You yourself said: "I have nothing to fear from a public inquiry. I have nothing to fear from how my ministry responded." Those were your words, Minister.

Very clearly you have a responsibility to live up to that commitment. That report yesterday was damning because it talked about the long-term and short-term health effects to the residents of Hamilton, to the firefighters and emergency. You owe it to those folks. Will you stand in your place today and recommend to the Solicitor General that he immediately call a public inquiry into the Ministry of Environment's response to the fire?

Hon Mr Sterling: I've said in the past that I'm not frightened of an inquiry. I believe that my officials acted promptly. Some of them worked for 26, 28 hours straight. The Ministry of Environment labs worked night and day to get the results back speedily.

The report is to the Solicitor General. It would be within the Solicitor General's ambit to make that kind of decision, so I now refer this question to him.

The Speaker: New question, third party.

Mr Christopherson: I want to continue with the issue of the Plastimet fire in the north end of my riding in downtown Hamilton.

Minister, you will know that the report that came from the fire marshal's office yesterday says, "Consequences may include immediate and long-term health outcomes for the general public and emergency responders."

You've already heard from my Hamilton colleague that there are 116 hospital staff, there are over 250 firefighters. We know there are concerns about toxins being leached into the water. These are environmental issues which stand the serious possibility, according to the fire marshal, of having adverse health effects on the citizens in my community

Minister, I want you to stand in your place, if you're so cocksure there's nothing to worry about, and give an ironclad guarantee to every one of the residents in my community that there's absolutely no chance of any long-term health effects as a result of that environmental disaster.


Hon Mr Sterling: The function of the Ministry of Environment is to provide information -- scientific, technical information -- to your medical officer of health. The medical officer of health makes the decision whether there are short-term or long-term medical effects with regard to the surrounding population, which is her primary concern, and she made her decision on whether to evacuate or not to evacuate on the basis of that information.

You might speak to the medical officer of health with regard to her interpretation of the data. Her interpretation of the data which we provided was that there were not long-term health effects to the people of Hamilton as a result of this fire. That was --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mr Christopherson: Minister, you're not listening and you're also abdicating your responsibility. The people in my community, all the people I've mentioned, are looking to you and your colleagues in cabinet to do the right thing, and it's frustrating as hell from the viewpoint of Hamilton to see you stand here and stonewall day after day and abdicate your responsibilities.

The Public Inquiries Act threshold states "declared to be a matter of public concern." Last week there was a report that a survey done showed 85% of the respondents, who were not associated with any environmental group, were sceptical about environmental results coming out of your ministry officials. Further to that, 500 people who came out to a public meeting came away more angry than when they came in, because they didn't get the answers they want.

Minister, I call on you to do the right thing. I join with my colleague; this is not a partisan issue. Will you recommend to cabinet that there be a public inquiry? Because if you don't do it today you're ultimately going to do it.

Hon Mr Sterling: We were concerned, of course, with the health effects on the people of Ontario. As the member knows, I visited the site the day after the fire started and talked to my people on the site, and to the fire chief and the medical officer of health. We were concerned always with the information flow and that's why we provided information at the meeting the member refers to. We have also set up a public information trailer, along with the medical officer of health, right in the area, so that citizens can in fact get real information, not from politicians but from scientists and technologists who know what they're talking about.

The environmental results which my ministry was producing -- they took over some 3,000 tests in order to assure the citizens that they could make certain these were correct and true.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Sterling: My ministry took the unprecedented step, through Lillian Ross, to give the community $40,000 --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Minister, frankly, I'm stunned that you continue to take this fire so lightly. Do you remember the Hagersville fire, the tire fire that happened when the Liberals were in power? Well, that fire was small potatoes compared to this fire.

PVC is a dangerous toxic substance. It is unlike any other plastic because when it burns it gives off dioxins and furans which are dangerous to human health. There is no question about that, there is no doubt about it. The serious possibility of long-term health effects is a proven fact. The fire wasn't even treated as a dangerous chemical fire at the beginning.

There are some very serious problems here. We want to make sure it doesn't happen again and you're not taking this seriously. We need an inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened, to look at the long-term health effects on the people of Hamilton. Minister, will you commit to that today?

Hon Mr Sterling: I know that environmental issues and the outflows from disasters like this are very, very serious, and the community of course has many, many questions. I believe that as a responsible Minister of Environment I should believe my scientists, I should believe my technicians, particularly when they have gone to the ends of the earth to provide these results in a timely manner, who have done excellent work. They are, in my view, beyond criticism in terms of what they have done in terms of the work they have provided. They have provided that evidence to the medical officer of health, who makes the decision as to what or what is not a long-term health effect.


The Speaker: Order. I've cautioned the member for Hamilton East on a number of occasions. You have to come to order; I won't caution you again. Minister.

Hon Mr Sterling: I consider this a serious matter. We have in fact done everything. Nobody has brought any hard evidence to me that there is a problem with the scientific data, that there is a problem with the response times, that there is a problem with anything with regard to that. The medical officer of health has made a statement that there is not a long-term health problem with this. I must accept her professional advice.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Starting this Sunday the Association of Municipalities of Ontario will be meeting here in Toronto. Municipal councillors from across Ontario, including members of the government party, are getting more and more frustrated with the government's attempt to download more than $1.2 billion in new costs on to their property taxpayers. What really sticks in their craw is the assertion by this minister that the deal is so good the municipalities should be able to cut their taxes.

Minister, you will be speaking to the conference of the municipalities. Will you use the opportunity to admit you were wrong and that your plan will mean tax hikes and service cuts to municipal ratepayers across the province?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the member of the third party, yes, I will be speaking to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario on Monday, and I will assure them that the trade of service delivery between the municipalities and the province of Ontario should not result in a tax increase to municipalities across the province.

There are obviously some municipalities that are going to fare better than others in this tradeoff, and we recognize that. That's why we've set up a municipal restructuring fund of $570 million to assist those municipalities through a transition period, probably between now and the year 2000, to balance their budgets. We recognize that. We recognized that right from the start and we've said that repeatedly, that we know that some municipalities in the province are going to require assistance and we're going to be there to provide that assistance. That's what I'll be telling the Association of Municipalities of Ontario on Monday.

Mr Wildman: That so-called contingency fund has been spent by every minister in this government when they've talked to municipal leaders across the province.

The government argues that the download is revenue-neutral, but when the minister speaks about this he has left out the biggest download of them all: the elimination of the $660-million municipal support grant. Minister, will you admit that the elimination of this $660-million unconditional grant will mean that municipal taxpayers will face either significant tax hikes, despite your contingency fund, or service cuts?


Hon Mr Leach: I have much more faith in the municipalities than that. We told the municipalities in 1995 that the days of high spending and tax increases were over, that this government was going to get its financial house in order and that we needed their assistance to do it. The municipal block grant used to be about $1.5 million. We told them in 1995 that would be reduced to $900 million. We told them in 1996 it was reduced to $667 million. I told them very clearly at the convention last year that grant would be eliminated this year. They're all aware of that. All of them -- very responsible municipal politicians -- should have, if they have not, taken that into consideration when they were preparing their 1998 budget.

We were very up front with the municipalities. We told them exactly what we were going to do. All the municipalities at the AMO conventions over the last two years told us they recognized we had to get the financial shape of the --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary.

Mr Wildman: This minister has finally admitted that the download is not revenue-neutral. He says he told them about it, but he doesn't count it in his figures when he calculates that it's revenue-neutral.

In my area, Algoma district, your download, not counting the download of provincial highways to municipalities, works out to an estimated increase of $1,000 per household across Algoma district. All across the north it's the same, despite the fact your colleague the Minister of Northern Development and Mines has told representatives of the small municipalities he doesn't have time to meet with them at the AMO conference. It's across the whole north. Everywhere people are going to pay more, between $700 and $1,200 per household, because of your government's download. Tell these people it's revenue-neutral. Tell them they won't have to raise taxes.

Will you back up your promise that it's revenue-neutral with cash? Will you commit to $1.2 billion in annual grants --

The Speaker: Thank you.


The Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order, please.

Hon Mr Leach: I wish the member opposite would listen, because I said right at the very beginning that we recognize there are some municipalities that are going to have a shortfall in the short term. That is why we have set up $570 million in a municipal restructuring fund to assist those municipalities -- there may be some municipalities in the member's riding, and there quite probably are -- and we would be there to provide that assistance to them.

I have a whole lot more faith in the municipalities to deal with this. We told them in 1995 that we were cutting a substantial amount of the municipal block grant. The municipalities responded with no tax increase. They responded in 1996 with no tax increase. The candidate running for mayor of Toronto has indicated he has examined the effect on the new city of Toronto and is confident there will be no tax increase. The member from Ottawa who is running for regional chair says he's examined the effects of the separation of services and is confident there will be no tax increase. Most municipalities can deal with that --

The Speaker: New question, official opposition.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, the minister who's responsible for promoting tourism in this province and who is well connected to the corporate captains of Ontario.

As thousands of tourists visit Ontario this week, they will be confronted with the same circumstances facing all motorists in our province: gas price gouging by the major oil companies. When I have asked you to intervene on behalf of consumers in this province in the past, you have jumped to the defence of the oil giants who are today demanding as high as 65.9 cents a litre in parts of southern Ontario, and more in the north. Are you going to continue to apologize for the big oil bosses who are ripping off both tourists and Ontario residents or are you finally going to call them on the carpet and demand they cease gouging motorists in this province?


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): The guys in the limos don't have to pay extra gas money.


The Speaker: Member for Parkdale, order. Government members, come to order, please.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to thank the member for his question. I thought the graphics were very nice, although I think they broke the rules.

As a government, we share the same concerns you have about high gasoline prices. It's not a new problem; in fact it's a recurring problem. I might say, as I've said before, I think you should take this matter up with your Ottawa counterparts.

I know my colleague Mr Norm Sterling, the Minister of Environment and Energy, is monitoring these prices, and his ministry is working with the federal government to protect consumers from any sort of collusion.

In terms of Ontario's competitiveness, I should say that our gasoline prices remain significantly lower than those in the countries of Ontario's overseas tourist markets.


Hon Mr Saunderson: You can read the answer in Hansard if you don't want to listen. I would like to emphasize again that our prices are competitive with our major tourist countries around the world.

Mr Bradley: I was hoping that the minister, who has considerable business experience and connections with the business community, would be able to call these corporate giants on the carpet and tell them you disapprove.

But there's a longer-term problem. Independent gasoline retailers in this province bring at least some semblance of competition to the market, but, as is the case with consumers, are victims of the pricing policies of major oil companies. Other provincial jurisdictions in the country and state jurisdictions in the United States have taken action to prevent predatory pricing practices by the oil giants, practices which drive independent retailers out of business and eliminate any competition for the powerful oil companies.

Are you now prepared to introduce legislation to define predatory pricing as an offence under Ontario law; that is, a bill to prevent the major oil companies from undercutting, from selling at one price to independent operators and then charging less than that price in their own stations and thereby putting the independents out of business? That's within your jurisdiction. That's within your realm. Are you prepared to announce in the House today that you're prepared to introduce such legislation?

Hon Mr Saunderson: In response to the supplementary question, I think from the tone of the question I should refer it to my colleague Mr Tsubouchi.


Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): First of all, I want to add to what my colleague has said, that ensuring fair competition is the responsibility of the federal government. Mr Bradley may laugh at this, but certainly when you look at the past Hansard reports, it's quite similar to --


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Mr Speaker, thank you very much.

There were past indications when Mr Kwinter was in this seat and when Mr Laughren was the Treasurer that they attempted to come to grips with this answer. By and large, this is a federal matter. My colleague and predecessor in this portfolio wrote to Mr Manley, in his capacity as Minister of Industry, indicating his concern. What have we done? I have had the opportunity to meet with the independent gas brokers and sat down and tried to have a discussion on this issue. This particular matter will likely be coming up in the interprovincial ministers' conference next month. It certainly was put on the table by some of the Atlantic provinces. Therefore, we'll be having a discussion on this at the conference coming up to find some sort of harmonized idea to deal with the federal government on this. Once again, this is a federal issue.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I would like to return to the announcement you made today, actually to some of the answers you've given to previous questions.

I could spend time debating with you the reality of some of the things you have said about where you have shifted your spending, but I want to put that aside. Let me just respond to your words. You said that you really believe in prevention, putting money in up front and trying to prevent the problem, that that's a really important and significant investment for you. I would dispute how that's being done, but I agree with those words. I think that's important. But I have to say to you that right now at the other end, at the end where we're intervening and working with children, there is plenty of evidence, and the task force report states it as well, that the growth in caseload, 10% in the last year alone, and the fewer workers, means that the system is operating beyond its capacity right now.

I'm not asking you to throw money at things, but I am asking you to acknowledge a problem. Would you agree that caseload is a problem right now for CAS workers?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I understand that the task force has certainly talked about caseloads. One of the things we are looking at in the funding and in the reviews of how the ministry is responding and how the children's aid societies are responding across the province is how to improve the ability of those front-line workers to handle the caseload. Are there things we can do through the database, are there things we can do through the training that will help them? There are many steps we will be taking as we get that feedback from the experts as they give us the recommendations.

Ms Lankin: I want to quote a couple of things to you. First of all, from the task force report: "The review of workloads throughout children's aid societies indicates that the system is operating beyond its capacity."

If you had been listening at another point in time over a year ago, almost two years ago, the Association of Children's Aid Societies told the standing committee on social development here, when we were looking at children's issues, that almost half the children's aid societies would be under severe stress once the full impact was felt of the government cutbacks implemented in 1996. They had serious concerns about the societies' ability to function effectively and legally.

I hope all the new tools, the computer system, the risk assessment system -- I hope all those things mean that in the future caseloads can be managed better. Right now, there is 10% more demand this year than last year, there are 340 fewer workers, and more kids at risk. In all the steps you're taking I'll support you, but only if you address the most fundamental of needs: We need enough case workers to make sure that kids are not at risk.

Hon Mrs Ecker: I appreciate the comments of the honourable member. Certainly we are looking at the entire system. Certainly caseload and staff members -- how many are there, what they're doing, how they do it and how they are supported -- has to be part of this review. We recognize that those front-line workers out there, who are giving of themselves in ways that I think very few of us fully appreciate until you have the opportunity to meet and talk with them, need more support. That's why we're taking the steps we're taking.

Do we need to do more than what has been announced to date? Absolutely. I agree, and that's why we will.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In my riding of York-Mackenzie and across the province, MPPs are hearing complaints about the questionable business practices of some natural gas brokers. These complaints are coming from consumers --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): That must be federal.

Mr Klees: Well, they're coming from consumers as well as a number of companies that are legitimately carrying on business as natural gas brokers.

While the option to choose where to purchase your natural gas is a legitimate option for consumers in Ontario, it seems that a number of salespeople are appearing at the door and representing themselves as representatives of their local utility, Consumers' Gas or Union Gas. Minister, I think it's important that consumers know what the minister is doing to ensure that they're protected against these kinds of sales practices.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I thank the member for York-Mackenzie for the question. Yes, I am concerned about the number of complaints the ministry is receiving with respect to this. In fact not only that, but I'm sure many of us here have personally experienced how annoying it is to have someone come to your door, not explain who they are, what the product they're selling is or the terms of whatever the contract is. The complaints have revolved around poor disclosure of details and misleading statements and failure to really explain the conditions of any types of proposed rebates.

I have written to the chair of the direct purchase industry committee. I've outlined my concerns to him and also indicated to him that we will ensure compliance with the Business Practices Act. Consumers should be aware that this type of practice is covered under the Business Practices Act, which prohibits unfair business practices, including false, misleading and deceptive representations to consumers.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: Clearly, if the industry itself will not take the measures to protect consumers and inform them, we will.

Mr Klees: Minister, I'm glad to hear you're taking that initiative. I think it is important for the people of this province to recognize that there is a legitimate forum within which they can choose alternative suppliers. It's important that they also know that the government is going to take whatever initiatives it needs to take if in fact the industry is not going to do that. Is there anything that individual consumers can do to protect themselves?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: There are a number of measures that the consumer can take. Certainly they should remember that the savings apply only to the gas supply charge, which is about one third of the total gas bill, and the savings will fluctuate with changes in the market prices of gas. It's important for them to know whom they're dealing with. The agents who are going are representing independent businesses and are not associated with the government and certainly not with the major gas utilities. It's very important for them to inform themselves and to read the fine print before signing things.

I can tell the consumer this: We fully expect that the industry itself will take some measures to address these complaints, because it is in their best interests to do so. But if they do not, our government will take swift measures to make sure we clean up this confusion for consumers and make sure we protect consumers across the province.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and it has to do with activities out of your office regarding fund-raising. You may or may not be familiar with it, but it has come to our attention that fund-raising activities on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party are being, I gather, run out of your office. Faxes are being sent out of your office for fund-raising activities. There is an event on tonight involving a $200-per-person fee to go to the event and the response number is the minister's office. I wonder if you've had an opportunity to review that and if you are now prepared to stand to acknowledge that this was inappropriate and to take the appropriate steps.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank the honourable member for Scarborough-Agincourt for his question. I was made aware of that this morning. It was a situation that certainly was not tolerable. The young man has admitted that he made a mistake. He has tendered his resignation and I have accepted it. I have instructed my staff to review any costs that may be involved in phoning or faxing and those will be reimbursed. The young man did make a mistake, and I apologize for that. He has apologized, but he has also tendered his resignation and it has been accepted.


Mr Phillips: It raises the issue of the standards the Premier sets for the cabinet, the instructions that you've been given by the Premier on what things are and are not appropriate in the minister's office, and what steps are taken as new staff people are brought on to your staff.

My question is this: Are you prepared to release publicly the instructions that the Premier gave you and the other ministers on such activities and to indicate to us, as staff come on to ministers' staff, are they briefed on these procedures? And are you prepared to tell the House how in the world it could be that well over two years into Mike Harris's regime things like this are still occurring in ministers' offices?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: This young man came as a summer student. He's a university student. He worked in our office for two months and he worked on right-to-farm legislation and a number of other things. I have reiterated the rules, the dos and don'ts of the minister's office.

You know, the Liberals are not completely clean on this, because fraudulent faxes were sent from Liberal headquarters here at Queen's Park in June 1994. By using the Bell Canada call trace service it was found that the fax originated from the Liberal caucus community outreach at Queen's Park. The Liberals apologized. It was their fax machine, it was their student and they said their student was reprimanded. So we're not all aboveboard on this. It's a situation where we asked the young man to tender his resignation, and he has.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, member for Algoma.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): It's a novel defence, that we're all guilty.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. This morning the minister told the Ontario Teachers' Federation annual meeting that he intended to introduce a fair funding system for schools in Ontario.

We know from a leak to the newspaper yesterday that the government intends to review the fairness of repealing school board taxing rights in five years' time. According to the newspaper, a standing committee of the Legislature will have to answer whether or not the fairness of the funding model is appropriate, whether it is indeed fair. Could the minister explain to the House today what are his criteria for fairness in funding schools in Ontario?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for Algoma for the question. Yes, this government announced some time ago our intention to get rid of the general legislative grant program that has been funding education in Ontario for some time, a system that various outside consultants have looked at over the course of I guess a couple of decades now and decided was flawed because it produced second-class students in Ontario by virtue of the amount of funding they had.

It's our intention to bring together an allocation model that will meet the needs of individual students right across the province, and we recognize that those might be different needs between urban schools and rural schools, northern schools and southern schools. We have in place now expert panels that are working on parts of that allocation model, working with experts in the teaching field, working with experts in the building field and deciding on what the benchmarks should be for that formula.

I believe at the end of the day this government, now and five years from now, will be committed to a funding system that's fair by virtue of giving every student in Ontario an opportunity for a quality education. That's what our objective is.

Mr Wildman: In our view, the outstanding measure of fairness in education is the success and the health and safety of children in our schools. Apparently, the minister's business panel is working on developing a new funding formula, looking at one based on $5.50 per square foot for the costs of heating, lighting, custodial care and maintenance of our schools.

The Legislative Assembly staff have informed us that it costs $10 per square foot for basic services for this precinct. This doesn't include painting, repairs or other maintenance. The Toronto Real Estate Board tells us that the average cost of business accommodation in downtown Toronto, the financial core, is $23.14 per square foot. Is $5.50 per square foot for the things that ensure the safety and the health of our students a fair figure?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Again I thank the member for Algoma for the question. The member beside me just noted that you would expect that the costs in this precinct would be lower because the heating bills would be reduced due to the amount of hot air generated in this chamber on a daily basis.

Mr Wildman: Keep it up. Keep it up.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I didn't suggest on either side, member for Algoma.

I know the member for Algoma has recognized that we do have experts in the building trades, people who operate buildings, people who've operated school buildings, who are looking now at what the benchmarks for cost should be. I believe the people of Ontario are satisfied that it is time to look at these various components of funding education and make sure we're getting the best value so that we can concentrate our dollars, concentrate our efforts in the classroom where we can make a difference with our students so that we can finally lift student achievement in Ontario to what our goal is, and that is to have the children of this province obtain the best test scores anywhere in Canada. We won't stop till that's done.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): My question is to --


Mr Pettit: I acknowledge the approval of the opposition parties. Thank you very much.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Mr Pettit: I'd like to acknowledge the approval of the two opposition parties.

My question today is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. It's in the largest cities of this province that we see the biggest problems with welfare fraud, and every dollar that is taken fraudulently means less help for those who really need it. This is unfair and can't continue. Please tell us what your ministry is doing to stop this.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, through you to the honourable member for his question. I know he's been quite persistent.

The estimates of fraud have gone everywhere from 3% to 10%. The Provincial Auditor had made an estimate that it might well be worth $100 million in the system. We don't think that should be tolerated, and that's why we've done things like introduced a fraud hotline in the last year; tightened eligibility for teenagers so that they can't walk out and get a welfare cheque; why we're doing computer data matching with other programs, government agencies, so that we can catch people who are, as they say, double-dipping.

Our legislation is going to help us do more along these lines. We'll have tougher rules for those who try to abuse the system. We'll be able to use new technologies like finger scanning and our investigation officers will have additional authority. We want to make sure that to the extent possible we fight fraud and abuse wherever we can find them.

Mr Pettit: I know my region of Hamilton-Wentworth has been working diligently towards ensuring that no incidents of welfare fraud take place. This is good news to the constituents in my riding high atop Hamilton Mountain. Can you please tell us exactly how your ministry's measures have affected the region's ability to deal with this problem?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I've been quite impressed with the efforts that Hamilton-Wentworth has taken, through the cooperation of municipal staff, ministry staff and the police. They did sort of an ad hoc blitz which resulted in 54 arrests, with estimated savings of about $1 million. There's a joint police-social services management group that is helping them deal with cases of suspected fraud. I'm going to be down there next week to meet with them to see how they've made it work, because I would like to extend such cooperative arrangements and procedures across the province, if we can, to more successfully fight fraud.



Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture. The minister will know that Renfrew county has been devastated this summer by some of the worst drought conditions we've faced in over 60 years. Last week his officials came to the county to meet with the farm leadership and to hear pleas for emergency assistance to cope with this serious drought situation. What can the minister tell the farmers of Renfrew county today as to the kind of emergency assistance he and his government are prepared to provide to those drought-stricken farmers?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank the honourable member for his question. Yes, I'm quite aware of the severe drought that is occurring in Renfrew county. I am in constant contact with the ag rep in Renfrew. Some senior officials of the ministry went last week. We are looking at all possibilities. We're setting up a meeting with the banking institution, with the Farm Credit Corp, to make sure they understand. I'm also attempting to contact the federal Minister of Agriculture, who comes from Ontario and who is quite understanding of the situation as well. We are providing some early payments for those who have crop insurance so that they can indeed use the moneys from their insurance proceeds to purchase particularly the forage they will be needing.

Mr Conway: The forage plan under the crop insurance program simply does not work in our part of the province. The minister knows that. The Crop Insurance Commission has been told that. As we speak, farmers in Renfrew county are breaking up their herds. They're faced with feed costs three and four times the normal amount.

What I need to know from the minister is, beyond early payouts through the crop insurance plan, what specific emergency relief is the Ontario government prepared to provide to farmers in Renfrew county who, if they don't get some emergency relief the like of what previous Ontario governments have provided in my time here, are not going to be in business in six to 12 months' time to talk to you, me or some far-distant expert?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: That's why we have had the meetings. That's why we will be meeting with the bankers. That's why I desperately want to discuss this with my federal colleague the Honourable Lyle Vanclief, who also understand the problem, because crop insurance is a tripartite project: farmers, federal government and provincial government. We have to remember that the forage program -- and I agree with you. When you were the government, it didn't work very well, and you forced people into buying it. They bought it for one year after they received some support from the government. It did not work. We're still looking at making it work better. It's under AgriCorp, by farmers, and they will be looking at it.

I simply tell the honourable member for Renfrew North that I understand very well the problems those families are facing. I, as a farmer, have faced those problems in the past, and we will do whatever we can.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Minister, as a result of your government's downloading policies, northern Ontario will be most severely impacted. Our figures estimate that some $292 million will be the approximate shortfall. In fact, in the district of Thunder Bay residents can expect to pay anywhere between $700 and $800 more. Across northern Ontario the tax increases will be of a magnitude of some 20%. I wish to ask the minister, what contingency plan do you have to make up for the shortfall and for the imminent, impending increases, and what are the criteria to access that pool of money to make up the difference?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the member of the third party: As I told his colleague some few minutes ago, we will be meeting with many of the municipalities, with AMO, on Monday, and we will be discussing strategies to distribute the municipal restructuring fund, the fund that has been set up to ensure that any municipality that has a shortfall as a result of transfers will not have to raise property taxes, because I think every taxpayer in Ontario recognizes that this is not a government that raises taxes; this is a government that cuts taxes. We also recognize that there is only one taxpayer and we are not going to do anything that causes taxes to rise in one area as a result of tax decreases in another. That's not our program and we're going to ensure that municipalities remain revenue-neutral as a result of the trades of the Who Does What program.

Mr Pouliot: You're short of guaranteeing that there shall be no tax increases.

By way of supplementary, yesterday I received correspondence signed by your distinguished colleague the Minister of Finance, refusing to meet with Mayor Don McKay. Mayor McKay has responsibility, has tenure with the largest municipality, Marathon, in the riding of Lake Nipigon.

I want to talk briefly about Marathon by way of a question to illustrate the unique situation -- so far it hasn't been addressed by any ministry. Marathon has a tax base -- when we couple general purpose and education, 75% of the cost is taken on by mining and pulp and paper. It leaves 25% at the residential level. When you factor in the pooling of education costs, it leaves them at the residential level very little room to manoeuvre, so they are disproportionately impacted, and they will come and knock on your door because this is most legitimate. They will pay, pay and pay again.

Four months before implementation, what do you tell Mayor McKay? What do you tell the residential taxpayers in Terrace Bay, in Marathon --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: I'd like to point out to the member of the third party that we recognize there are going to be some municipalities in this province which are going to have unique circumstances and we're quite prepared to deal with those unique circumstances. That's precisely the reason we set up two implementation teams, one for municipal services and one for social services, implementation teams made up of members of municipalities right across the province, people who have expertise on how to deal with some of the unique problems that we recognize are going to be facing some municipalities.

We've set up special funds to help those municipalities. We've set up expert panels to work with those municipalities and myself, and many of my colleagues are also going to be at the meeting of municipalities that will be held in Toronto next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to discuss and provide advice on how municipalities can ensure their taxpayers do not face a tax increase in 1998.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a petition to stop the Harris government's plan to kill debate in the Legislature and I wish to read it.

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

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

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

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

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

I concur with the content of the petition and I will affix my signature to it.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas over half the people in Ontario are women;

"Only about 5% of the money spent on medical research goes to research in women's health;

"Women have special medical needs since their bodies are not the same as men's;

"Women's College is the only hospital in Ontario with a primary mandate giving priority to research and treatment dedicated to women's health needs;

"The World Health Organization has named Women's College Hospital as the sole collaborating centre for women's health for both North and South America;

"Without Women's College Hospital the women of Ontario and of the world will lose a health resource that will not be duplicated elsewhere;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure the continuance, independence, woman-centre focus and accessible downtown location of the one hospital most crucial to the future of women's health."

I am proud to affix my signature.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): For a couple of days now I've been trying to present this petition and I thank you for recognizing me. I have a letter here from one of my constituents, a Mrs Carlo Haluka, who has been fighting for this program the best of anyone I've seen.

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to ban going topless in public places."

I'm pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a further petition addressed to the Ontario Legislature, the Ontario Municipal Board and the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

"Re: Amendments to the city of Vaughan official plan and zoning bylaws to permit a cemetery, columbarium, crematorium and chapel on a 1.769-hectare site at the northeast corner of Jane Street and Steeles Avenue West in the city of Vaughan:

"We, the undersigned, object strongly to the cemetery, columbarium and crematorium that the city of Vaughan has approved so close to our residential community at the abovenoted location in the city of Vaughan. All of us live in the city of North York but in very close proximity to this proposed use. We object to having a large-scale death industry including a cemetery and the burning of human bodies as a daily event, literally on our own doorsteps.

"We are appalled that a conservation authority and the city of Vaughan municipality would do this to us and we ask for your help to stop it. We ask the Minister of Environment to intervene and stop it now. The health of a thousand residents will be at risk. We urge you not to grant approval for this project."

I concur and I will affix my signature to the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly here in Queen's Park, addressed specifically to the Honourable Minister of Environment and Energy, Norm Sterling.

"Whereas the fire at a PVC plastic vinyl plant located in the middle of one of Hamilton's residential areas burned for three days; and

"Whereas the city of Hamilton declared a state of emergency and called for a limited voluntary evacuation of several blocks around the site; and

"Whereas the burning of PVC results in the formation and release of toxic substances such as dioxins and furans as well as large quantities of heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold a full public inquiry on the Hamilton Plastimet fire; and further

"We, the undersigned, request that the Ministry of Environment and the government of Ontario take responsibility for the immediate cleanup of the fire site."

I appreciate the support of these citizens and add my name to theirs.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition signed by residents in the riding of Niagara South from Wainfleet and Port Colborne mostly, and it reads as follows:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas black bear populations in Ontario are healthy with between 75,000 and 100,000 animals and their numbers are stable or increasing in many areas of the province; and

"Whereas black bear hunting is enjoyed by over 20,000 hunters annually in Ontario and black bears are a well-managed renewable resource; and

"Whereas hunting regulations are based on sustained yield principles and all forms of hunting are needed to optimize the socioeconomic benefits associated with hunting; and

"Whereas the value of the spring bear hunt to tourist operators in northern Ontario is $30 million annually, generating about 500 person-years of employment; and

"Whereas animal rights activists have launched a campaign of misinformation and emotional rhetoric to ban bear hunting and end our hunting heritage in Ontario, ignoring the enormous impact this would have on the people of Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government protect our hunting heritage and continue to support all current forms of black bear hunting."

Being in agreement with this petition, I put my signature on it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by approximately 90 residents of Ontario. It reads:

"We, the undersigned concerned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that the public has the right to be informed about proposed bills and that there be enough time for public hearings about proposed bills.

"We believe the opposition MPPs should have adequate time to study bills proposed to have a chance to suggest amendments. We therefore do not support the proposed ruling of the Ontario Conservatives that they pass a bill in only two weeks after introducing it and introduce two bills in the same two-week period.

"We feel this proposed change to the rules of the House is unwarranted and unfair to the people of Ontario."

I support the petition, even though the rules were forced through yesterday.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): On behalf of my constituents of Durham East, for example, Stan and Ruth Weynich, I present this petition:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code and reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to ban going topless in public places."

I am pleased to sign my name to this petition.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition here of great urgency particularly with respect to the health restructuring that's currently taking place. It deals with the Wellesley Central Hospital Staying Alive campaign. It states:

"We, the undersigned, are opposed to the decision of closing Wellesley Central Hospital. We see this as cutting services, which will negatively affect the overall health of our community.

"We are deeply concerned about our future health care for treatment of acute illnesses and for emergency care.

"We support the alliance between Wellesley Central Hospital and Women's College Hospital as the only solution."

It's signed by some 25 people and I've affixed my signature.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:

"Whereas over half the people in Ontario are women; and

"Only 5% of the money spent on medical research goes to researching women's health; and

"Women have special medical needs since their bodies are not the same as men's; and

"Women's College is the only hospital in Ontario with a primary mandate giving priority to research and treatment dedicated to women's health needs; and

"The World Health Organization has named Women's College Hospital as the sole collaborating centre for women's health for both North and South America; and

"Without Women's College Hospital, the women of Ontario and of the world will lose a health resource that will not be duplicated elsewhere;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure the continuance, independence, women-centred focus and accessible downtown location of the one hospital most crucial to the future of women's health."

This petition has been signed by 53 residents of Toronto. I agree with the petitioners and I have affixed my signature to it.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): We're going for the triple today. I am pleased to present another petition here from a Mr Ray Shaw who lives in Enniskillen, Ontario. He's written a very long letter along with it, and I thank him for that letter.

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas black bear populations in Ontario are healthy with between 75,000 and 100,000 animals and their numbers are stable or increasing in many areas of the province" -- and we've heard of some of the outbreaks this summer in our provincial parks -- "and

"Whereas black bear hunting is enjoyed by over 20,000 hunters annually in Ontario and black bears are a well-managed, renewable resource; and

"Whereas black bear hunting replaces natural mortality and reduces cannibalism among bears; and

"Whereas hunting regulations are based on sustained yield principles and all forms of hunting are needed to optimize the socioeconomic benefits associated with hunting; and

"Whereas the value of the spring bear hunt to tourism in Ontario represents some $30 million annually, generating about 500 person-years of employment; and

"Whereas animal rights activists have launched a campaign of misinformation and emotional rhetoric to ban bear hunting and end our hunting heritage in Ontario, ignoring the enormous impact this would have on the people of Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government protect our hunting heritage and continue to support all current forms of black bear hunting in this province."

I am pleased to read this into the record and sign my name.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): As you know, the Mike Harris government has ordered the closure of 11 hospitals here in Metro, and I've got one petition here to support the Wellesley Central Hospital Staying Alive campaign.

"We, the undersigned, are opposed to the decision of closing Wellesley Central Hospital. We see this as cutting services, which will negatively affect the overall health of our community.

"We are deeply concerned about our future health care for treatment of acute illness and for emergency care.

"We support the alliance between Wellesley Central Hospital and Women's College Hospital as the only solution."

I support Wellesley's attempts to stay alive despite the Mike Harris campaign to cut them, and I'll sign this petition.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by 30 residents of this province. It states:

"Whereas standing order 36 states rules for presentation of petitions;

"Whereas the Office of the Clerk was contacted for a free copy of four pages of rules;

"We, the concerned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that:

"We want our petitions to have more recognition than being either filed with the Clerk of the House or mentioned in the House with a brief statement summarizing the contents and the number of signatures on the petitions.

"We want the text of petitions to be allowed to be read in the House," which is what I'm doing.

"We want debate about petitions to be allowed in the House.

"We want the 15 minutes per day maximum time limit dedicated to petitions to be dropped and attention to petitions to be allowed to take all sessional day if necessary.

"In summary, we find it unacceptable that our combined voice in the form of petitions is given such disrespectful treatment."


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): This may constitute a record; however, we will continue. I am pleased to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to ban going topless in public places."

I am pleased to affix my name to this petition for the last time today.



Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and move its adoption.

Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

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

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

Shall Bill 132 be ordered for third reading? Agreed? Agreed.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I don't believe we have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, could you check and 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: We will move to introduction of bills.



Mr Jim Brown moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr87, An act respecting the Korean Canadian Cultural Association of Metropolitan Toronto.

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


Mrs Ecker moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 152, An Act to improve Services, increase Efficiency and benefit Taxpayers by eliminating Duplication and reallocating Responsibilities between Provincial and Municipal Governments in various areas and to implement other aspects of the Government's "Who Does What" Agenda / Projet de loi 152, Loi visant à améliorer les services, à accroître l'efficience et à procurer des avantages aux contribuables en éliminant le double emploi et en redistribuant les responsabilités entre le gouvernement provincial et les municipalités dans divers secteurs et visant à mettre en oeuvre d'autres aspects du programme «Qui fait quoi» du gouvernement.

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

The Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): Not at this time.



Mr Leach moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 148, An Act to deal with matters relating to the establishment of the new City of Toronto / Projet de loi 148, Loi traitant de questions se rapportant à la constitution de la nouvelle cité de Toronto.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): Today I'm bringing forward for second reading a bill which would ensure that the day-to-day services people use and expect will still be in place when the new city of Toronto comes into being on January 1, 1998.

As my colleagues will recall, we are creating one strong unified city in order to promote improved economic development in the area, to reduce waste and duplication, to save taxpayers money and to provide better accountability.

The City of Toronto Act, 1997, which became law in April, provided the framework for the new city structure, and when it was drafted it was with the understanding that a second piece of legislation would be required to deal with administrative, technical and specific transitional matters around the move to one city.

One of the primary functions of the second bill is to ensure that certain agencies and boards, including the Toronto Transit Commission, Exhibition Place and the Metro zoo, can continue to operate after January 1 as they always have. This is no less than those in the new city would deserve and expect.

Second, this bill would ensure that all services currently available to residents in Metro continue uninterrupted. The new city would be legally authorized, as its predecessors were under the Metro Toronto act, to provide ambulance services, operate the Toronto Island ferry, regulate street vending, police the Toronto harbour, operate homes for the aged, plan and act in emergencies. They could enter into water supply and sewage treatment agreements with other municipalities, operate conservation authority lands, operate a licensing commission and so on. These would not be new powers for the new city. They would simply be a continuation of powers currently afforded to Metro council, powers which will allow the new city to carry out its routine responsibilities as residents expect.

A third aspect of this bill deals with protecting pensions and benefits of municipal and local board employees and retirees. There is no question that these very important obligations should continue to be honoured by the new city, and this would occur under our proposed bill.

The city of Toronto's second bill would also deal with specific transitional issues. For example, it would allow official plans of former municipalities to continue until such time as the new council wishes to adopt a new official plan.

The bill confirms that there would be one public health board, one library board, one historical board and one parking authority to ensure a cohesive structure is in place in the unified city.


Last but not least, our bill would allow the new city council to develop an area rating scheme which would help sort out any financial imbalances or service level disparities in the various municipalities over time. The new council could, for example, examine a former municipality's total financial picture and make adjustments to tax rates which would reflect their findings. In other words, if a former municipality had substantial reserve funds and very little debt and liabilities, the council could lower tax rates in the area of the former municipality and could do so over an eight-year period. That seems only fair to me, as I'm sure it does to everyone.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Only one applauding.

Hon Mr Leach: Obviously the member for St Catharines is opposed to that for some reason.

In bringing forward this bill for second reading, we are moving one step closer to better government.


Hon Mr Leach: Also showing a sign indicating his IQ.

The evidence supporting the benefits of one strong city and one mayor and 56 councils is considerable. A unified Toronto will capture the imagination of business investors worldwide, and that means we will stand a better chance of attracting investment and strengthening the local and greater area economy. One strong council and one mayor will replace seven competing voices.

The new city structure will mean better political accountability. Taxpayers won't have to deal with different levels of government. There will also be community councils bringing together councillors from adjoining wards to work on issues that affect neighbourhoods in the same area. As you know, the transition team is involved in public consultations to determine the potential role of community councils.

One unified city will also result in an end of waste and duplication. The new city structure will permit the establishment of one fire department to replace six, one roads department and not seven, and will mean a cohesive amalgamation of many services.

Finally, one strong city will help create a solid greater Toronto area core. A unified Toronto will have the population, political representation and clout to ensure that the greater Toronto area and Ontario continue to be the economic engine of the country.

In conclusion, let me say that this bill is necessary from a technical and administrative point of view for the new city to be completely operational on January 1, 1998. It will ensure that the new city council has the authority to continue to carry out routine responsibilities when the new city comes into being. It will also reassure residents that the transition to their new city is well under way and that a more efficient, effective and less costly government structure will result.

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

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): It's very interesting to listen to the minister this afternoon. It seems to me that he really hasn't added anything to the megacity bill that was introduced some time ago. Certainly from the speech he just gave, you wouldn't think there was anything in this bill at all that hasn't already been passed.

I can only come to the conclusion, without having had an opportunity to review the bill in detail, that what he's trying to do now is to make up for all those mistakes that were made in the original megacity bill that he tried to ram through the Legislature as quickly as possible, that was brought in almost in the darkness of the night.

It's beyond me why we're revisiting this whole issue again. I suppose it's mainly there so that the citizens of Toronto, the citizens of the six cities here right now, can be agitated once again by the total incompetence of this particular government.

Minister, I think it would be very honourable for you to stand in your place and admit today that you made a mega-mistake when you brought in your first megacity bill some four or five months ago, that you really didn't know what you were doing and that you now have to clean up the mess by bringing in all sorts of amendments to that bill because it wasn't drafted correctly in the first place. That's the real reason we're going through this all again.

There may very well be additional things in the bill that you should have thought of when you brought in the first megacity bill but didn't at that point in time. One of the reasons this House has to sit so often, the people of Ontario should know, is because this government is making so many mistakes on an ongoing basis that it has to bring in more and more legislation to clean up the legislative mistakes they made in the first place.

We look forward to debating this bill once again and showing that you're totally wrong and incorrect in bringing this forward at this time.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I rise just to make a few comments about the introduction of this bill and basically to dispel some of the misinformation we've just heard from the member for Kingston and The Islands. The fact is that we intended, before we even brought in the first Toronto bill, to bring in a second bill.

I want to go back to the fact that I remember that this same member across the floor, when we brought in Bill 26, which had multiple aspects to it, objected to it and said, "This is not right that you have so much in one single bill." One of the basic problems the Liberals always have is that they want to have it every which way.

The fact is, when you have good government, you have to make sure that everything that you do is reasoned. Sometimes you don't have all the pieces together at any one time, and you have to make sure you get all those pieces together prior to moving forward. That's exactly what we're doing with the second Toronto bill, which is interlocking with the first but is a separate piece of legislation which will achieve the goals we have set out; that is, that the municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto can be integrated into one municipality, which will lead to savings which the hard-pressed property taxpayers desperately need.

We identified that 72% of all the expenditures by municipalities within the metropolitan area was done by Metropolitan Toronto. The opposition objected and fought against the consolidation of a city which was essentially already operating as one but we still had all the trappings of seven administrations. We had separate parks departments, separate lib -- legal departments.


Mr Turnbull: Yes, liberal departments. They were liberal in their spending.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Further questions or comments? None? Minister, you may respond.


Hon Mr Leach: I'd just like to point out to the member for Kingston and The Islands that when Bill 103 was introduced we pointed out very clearly that it provided the framework for the creation of the new, single, unified city and that we would be coming back with a second bill outlining the administrative and technical details required to make the new city work well. That's exactly what this bill will do.

It provides the mechanisms to ensure that agencies, boards and commissions can continue to function. The Toronto Transit Commission, the Metro zoo, Exhibition Place, the Hummingbird Centre, all those boards and commission and establishments need legislation in place to ensure that they can continue to provide the fine services that they provide to the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto.

This bill is an administrative and technical bill. It's one that is absolutely necessary. I'm sure it will have the support of all parties of the House to make sure that when the new city of Toronto comes into place on January 1, 1998, all of its citizens are protected with the services they now have, with all the emergency services that are there to protect them. I know that the members of the Liberal Party and the members of the New Democratic Party will be glad to support a bill that ensures that the citizens of this great community are well protected.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): Madam Speaker, I'd like to ask permission to share my time with the member for Oakwood.

The Acting Speaker: Is there consent for the member to share his time with the member for Oakwood? Agreed.

Mr Kennedy: It is, of course, with mixed feelings that I have to respond to this son of megacity bill. There shouldn't be any misleading on the part of members opposite, any thought that the quiet in this House today represents --

Mr Turnbull: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The language being used is totally unacceptable, the suggestion that there's some misleading being done by members opposite.

The Acting Speaker: I understand that the word was used. My understanding is that the member for York South was not accusing the government members, but if the member was, I may have misheard, and I would ask him to withdraw it. If he did not, then maybe he can explain. Go ahead, member for York South.

Mr Kennedy: It is important the members opposite not be misled that the quiet in the House today represents anything that has changed fundamentally in these cities, which are still Metropolitan Toronto, Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, York, Toronto and East York; that these cities have changed one iota in their view of the bully tactics this government has used to bring about this son of megacity bill.

We know that if this is the son of megacity, then the illegitimate son of megacity just passed, the rule changes that this government also saw fit to bring about because they couldn't have their way, as their ministers stamped their feet because they couldn't go fast enough. They couldn't go fast enough to wreck the things that make this province the great province it has been until the advent of this singleminded Harris government, this tax-cut-preoccupied government, this government that cannot find room in it and in its major cities for some level of diversity and certainly for some level of dissent.

We see today the product of the rushed nature of the Comic Book Revolution, the whole idea of how this government is perpetrating on the rest of the province a rearrangement of the largest city we have, a city that has received justified accolades. It's not a perfect one but rather one that was evolving on its own, able to deal with all manner of diversity, able to bring together a huge number of people in a way that boded well for the civilized nature of the society we aspire to.

All that is brought into question by this bill which purports to do some more rearranging of the deckchairs, and in reality what we have is still an empty shell. The original bill spoke not at all about the future of a megacity; it spoke instead about transition teams and boards which took over control and all kinds of things that until now have been foreign to this province.

We know that most people in this city, while they may not be in the galleries today -- many of them have been barred from this place, consistent with the outlook of this government to hamper and handcuff dissent. The ones who came yesterday to assemble for a hospital were told that under the new rules they can't attend in the galleries, even when they come in peaceful assembly in this province. And people came in peaceful assembly. Ten thousand of them marched in the streets.

People met, and still meet, week after week, hoping to sustain some of the value of this city in the face of this attack, and this bill is an attack, and has the effrontery to use the name "Toronto," which has taken on a certain kind of value for the people who helped to fashion that, and it has the effrontery to erase the identities of the other parts of this metropolitan area.

We certainly have to reflect as we look at the last pieces of this government's extremely clumsy agenda in the largest area of the province. We recognize that it's not only clumsy and awkward and driven by the tax cut as it seeks to download millions and millions of dollars on to the taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto, but it also represents a certain quality about this government. Its ability to cite a certain kind of promise, whether it's, "We will not close hospitals," as Mike Harris said on May 18 -- but Mike Harris also said, "There's no cost for a municipality to maintain its name and identity."

This is what the taxpayers heard, this is what the residents of Scarborough heard, this is what the residents of York Mills heard ahead of the election. They said, "We'll maintain your identity." This is what the Progressive Conservatives said and many of them, including the current minister proposing this second bill, said ahead of time they would sustain the name and identity.

"Why destroy our roots and pride," said our current Premier. "I disagree with restructuring because it believes that bigger is better. Services always cost more in larger communities" is what Mike Harris said, and by God, on that score he's absolutely right. We're headed for higher costs. We're headed for all kinds of tax increases, because of course the real motivation for this clumsy and awkward arrangement, this knocking down of walls without any sense of direction ,is to find room for the biggest tax download that has ever taken place in this province, for dumping services that didn't have any relationship to the value of one's property, that break all the rules when it comes to essential fairness in terms of taxation.

The residents of St George-St David and of High Park-Swansea are going to find that in their property tax, as a companion of the megacity, they're now paying for public and non-profit housing, paying for housing stock that needs not small renovations but huge rebuilding to sustain it, to sustain the level of affordability and that civilized life which this government has now grasped with both hands in an effort to snuff out some of those qualities in this metropolitan area.

We see where ambulance services will have to compete with potholes in the roads, where we'll have to pay for our own transit, where municipal support grants will be erased. We see that the public housing download in particular means $365 million dumped on to property taxpayers, coming as a present from the 15 members that the Progressive Conservatives have purportedly representing this area still known as Metropolitan Toronto, still known as Scarborough and East York and York and Toronto.

I can tell you even in the neighbourhood of Mount Dennis, where I believe the minister opposite spent part of his early life, where his mother still lives, they will remember that part of their identity has been taken away, part of their ability to operate in this city, their ability to function as members of a complex system but still have a way of connecting. The city of York is where the Mount Dennis Ratepayers' Association has had its impact, and that has been taken away. They've been left with the vagaries of a community council, the maybe of being able to talk to their representatives, of driving downtown, not taking the subway because that was also cancelled by this particular government.

All across the city are people who know how fragile the civilized society that we have in this metropolitan area is and how important it is that we have structures flexible enough to deal with that, to be able to provide a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. There were marchers from Mount Dennis on the Legislature, in the 10,000 peaceful protesters that didn't have just the usual suspects, that had many of the people who voted Conservative in the last election and many of the people who are going to remember the next time around that this megacity bill, not advertised in the Comic Book Revolution, is just a clumsy attempt by this government to try and provide a smokescreen for its downloading, for its dumping on one of the most successful urban areas anywhere in North America.

We recognize too the model that we're being patterned on. In their desperation, the government is turning to the only other areas in North America that have more than two million people under a single government: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. Those are the kinds of places that Mike Harris would bring us to with this son of megacity bill. These are the kinds of living conditions that they would see imported.

It'll fit in well with the Americanization of health care, which is what is on the boards with the closing of hospitals, with the rendering of budgets, 12% cuts. Every member opposite has sat silent while in their neighbourhoods the drip, drip, drip of health services ebbing away, being taken away by this government trying to fund a tax cut, putting a tax cut ahead of a liveable city, ahead of basic services like health care.

That's what this government has done and continues to do today in this Legislature with this bill as they rub salt in the wound of Metropolitan Toronto, which voted 76%; 76% of the people who came out to vote. Many of the people sitting here were elected municipally with probably less vote. In Mount Dennis they voted 76%, and that was a higher turnout than they had for the municipal election.


Especially in terms of the value of this city, those people represent the opinion, and they represent the memory that will sustain around the city of Toronto, the city of York, around Scarborough, around North York. Those are the kinds of things people are going to remember when it comes time to render a real decision on this bill. We recognize that we've had our rights circumscribed, that this government not only sees itself fit to use its majority in any bully way it can, but it takes away the ability of the members opposite to act. It did that with the rule changes this week that will offer half the number of question periods as they move the bills through twice as fast. This is a companion characteristic.

The downloading bill has in it all the characteristics anyone needs to know about this government. On the one hand, the government would tell us that it's good for you. In reality, it costs you money, it takes away some of the values you believe in and it harms people as we do it.

We're going to be invited over the next number of months to invite the municipalities to do what this government was too afraid to do. As part of its cost-cutting exercise, it's simply dumping on municipalities in such a fashion. Particularly here, under the disguise of the megacity, it hopes that by dumping on them, by having the confusion of the megacity, they'll exact cuts on vulnerable people, on people who need housing, on people who live in hostels, on people who need assistance through other municipal programs and general welfare. They're going to be, instead, hurt to pay for the tax cut that is the single driving objective this government has.

The epitaph, unfortunately, for this government will be a profound amount of change that was done, not out of the public interest but out of the singular interest of advancing an ideology that would deliver tax cuts to people who are better off, that would destroy government without even looking at the intrinsic value.

We know that experts anywhere in the world would attest to the fact -- Wendell Cox, all kinds of people, the only objective studies, and in fact even the author of the one shoddy report we saw from this government, as a pretext for what they're doing, would say there is no evidence this is going to save money. But any other expert would go much further and say that in fact -- as Mike Harris did before he was elected, before he needed this, before he needed to downgrade the quality of life in Metropolitan Toronto, before that became an imperative for him, before that was something he had to do. He said: "No, we'll keep identities. We'll keep reasonably sized communities." But this government has forgotten what communities are.

This may be a unique opportunity to be able to quote Terence Corcoran, to be able to do that approvingly, to talk, as he does, about the urban mega-project of Mike Harris, to say how this is part of a trend, part of an attitude on the part of this government, a government that does not appear to have any genuine reform policies, according to Terence Corcoran of the Globe and Mail, but instead has seized upon the old, old idea that somehow bigger is better.

Where, outside of the Soviet Politburo, have we seen so many tendencies to make things bigger, to assign responsibility that belongs to the people who occupy those seats, who draw down the salaries, who have been elected in places like Willowdale and Scarborough East and Scarborough Centre?

They're supposed to take the job, the responsibility. Right there, in York Mills, that member should be taking the responsibility of saying what should be happening. Instead we have unelected commissions and we have megacities and we have mega-school boards and we have mega-hospitals. We have a government with no grip on what actually delivering government services that can be effective will actually mean.

We've seen what's happened in every population above a million that's been aggrandized like this, pulled together: The cost of services per capita goes up. We find these Reform-Conservatives in the unique position of having given us a number of hand grenades that will go off at appropriate times in the future. Not only have they taken away some of the ability to retain a high quality of civic life in this area; they've also given us these exploding costs we'll have in the future, because this is not alone on the Conservative agenda for Metropolitan Toronto.

This is part of the attack on hospitals that takes away the best hospital we have for women in the province, located in a very accessible area, that is giving what unfortunately the government will not comprehend. I toured it the day before yesterday. It is not a dingy hospital. The Premier has no right to put down Women's College Hospital in that substantive and dismissive way. Some of those Metro members, the representatives of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Etobicoke-Humber, Don Mills, from High Park-Swansea, should have been standing up on behalf of Women's College Hospital, standing up on behalf of the taxpayers in their areas. Instead we have an abandonment. We have an abandonment of Toronto just as surely as if those 15 Conservative members had resigned their seats.

We see nothing on the current agenda that is for the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto. We see their level of government stripped away. We see higher costs put in. We see market value assessment. In each of your neighbourhoods you're bringing in higher taxes because of that. You put a download with social housing. You're making them pay for costs that are going to vary according to the economy, having nothing to do with their ability to pay. You're doing that. You are doing that to Metropolitan Toronto, to the neighbourhoods you canvassed during the election and told you would keep their identity. We see some of the bankruptcy of the comic book revolution when it can't provide even to its own members a level of dissent. We can't have in this government, even in their own caucus rooms, apparently, the ability to believe they're speaking up for us.

We need only hear the comments of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore on the radio last night when he said, "We're in trouble." Unfortunately, there are only a few members opposite who understand that basic precept. He said, "We're in trouble because people believe we don't care." He knows that, but sadly, very few opposite know that.

Perhaps it's because of what the member for Wentworth North said about this government, that what we're really dealing with here are not individual members, not people we elected to represent Metropolitan Toronto who walk its streets and know what people have to go through every day and know the effort that's made here to keep a place that recognizes diversity, that is a success economically and aspires to be one socially; instead, "`We have a government that's controlled by the Premier's office,' says the member for Wentworth North. `It's controlled in conjunction with a bunch of kids who I say have a college or university degree in one hand and Machiavelli's Prince on the other and not a whole lot in between.' He added, `These are people who, for ideological reasons, are coming up with this policy."

That's what the dissident members of caucus have said, but we wouldn't know that here in Metropolitan Toronto because there are so few, because we haven't heard that voice, because we haven't seen it applied to the megacity. Instead of being able to govern, we have a government that's on remote control. The buttons are in the Premier's office and the circuitry has been taken out of everyone else's. We look at the lack of vision, the lack of fundamental understanding of what kind of place we need to have in terms of Metropolitan Toronto, and we see that lack of comprehension that this is a group of people forming a government, willing to jeopardize our ability to remain responsive, to keep certain values people have of civility, of being able to react to one another.

When we first organized food drives in Metropolitan Toronto, people said: "Forget about it. People won't respond to that. They won't donate food. They don't do that kind of thing. This is a big city." In fact, it's more than that. It has the capacity -- we'll struggle, I'm sure, to try and retain it, but it's had the capacity -- to act like a small town, to act like a place where people don't feel isolated and lost but feel like they belong. That's brought about by the flexibility and the accommodation which this bill and the one that went before it would like to suck right out of what is here in Metropolitan Toronto.

It's unfortunate, and it's unfortunate even more because the members opposite don't get it. They don't understand how to be able to provide us with that. We know that the many questions this bill leaves unanswered will continue to be unanswered. There simply are not the people in that caucus presenting to us their view in terms of how we're going to be able to take that city that did work, that is recognized around the world, still winning assessments year after year as the most livable place -- how when they take away some of those essential ingredients, we're going to be able to sustain a good quality of living.


The good news for you is, as guilty as you must feel about your abdication of responsibility, there will be others who will be working hard to not let you get away with wrecking Metropolitan Toronto.

We were there December 17. We declared our policy. We were against this bill before the download, before it became apparent what kind of Trojan horse this was. We knew in our support of the referendum that we had to have at least the opportunity to vote, to have expression before this bill was heard. This government wasn't even willing to provide that. This government wasn't even going to let the people of the cities that still exist as legal entities, where they pay their taxes, where they were supposed to have some control over their futures, vote. Instead they were going to pass this bill. With our efforts and the efforts of the other members of the opposition, we were able to make the government concede that much.

This government was also put through a slightly painful, according to the kind of heckling that happened from the members opposite, passage of this bill as it went through a certain level of necessary scrutiny and delay. This took an extraordinary measure on the part of the opposition, but a justifiable measure.

As you walk around Metropolitan Toronto you don't see people saying that was time wasted. You still see people saying, "Why are they moving so fast and what are they doing to the place where I live?" Unfortunately, this bill provides us with only some of the answers and much of the apprehension about where we're going. The people know that these closed-door operations, the kinds of things the government can only get away with when they operate behind those closed doors, are not going to be the way they're going to let us define the future.

You propose a city that is corporate in structure, that has no responsiveness to people, that is not going to be able to allow people to sustain an identity as they work and contribute and in some cases struggle to get by. You're going to take some of that away from them. What you leave them instead is a larger thing; again, a reference to Terence Corcoran, who sees in your government not a government that espouses Reform principles, but a government bankrupt of ideas, unable to do anything but mimic perhaps things that were left over in the closet of the bureaucracy.

Instead what we have is an ability here for people who are supposed to know around the things of community, the things that used to be associated with Conservatives -- we don't really have Conservatives in the old sense, I guess. We have instead people who invent new principles, principles where there is no such thing as accountability. "We don't want to be accountable on the megacity," they say as they rush the bill through, as they subject today's discussion to a motion of closure --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): You weren't around in 1989.

Mr Kennedy: -- as they say to the people in Metropolitan Toronto, "We don't want to hear from you, and when we do, we won't pay attention."

I hear some heckling coming from the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, and we know that they remember there. We know how they voted there, and we know how they're going to vote again. We know that memory will be there as we try and deal with the mega-tendencies of this government visited upon some of the most fragile structures that exist: the very multicultural neighbourhoods, the poverty, the things that need to be handled in a way that allows not a contempt for democracy, but a respect for individuals.

Somehow these Conservatives have lost their way. They don't respect individuals any more. They only respect a monolithic form of government, a decision-making that is completely undemocratic, as I mentioned before, right down into the caucus. We learn instead that this is a government able to put together and to sustain support for this shell, this downgrading of the largest metropolitan area, and to do it in a way that's actually -- the insult and indignity is so profound. We lose the cities that work, it's taken away, it's replaced with a half or a quarter of an idea from the whiz kids in the Premier's office, and we're going to have to pay through the nose for the privilege.

People will recognize that. They'll know where that download is coming from. They'll know where that increase in property taxes is going, and people won't be fooled in the municipal elections when they have to come to terms with what it's going to take to adjust to the choices this government would try and foist on them. Some people have erroneously said, "Here's a government that has a little bit of courage." It takes no courage to pass on tough decisions to other people, to hide behind the skirts of transition committees, to hide behind hospital and health restructuring committees. It takes no courage at all. It's sad that we find none.

We look to the 15 members of Metro for some articulation of what it's like to have a place that can work, a city that works, a city that Jane Jacobs chose to live in, a city that people all across North America admire for its ability to sustain that livability. Instead, we don't get anything. We hear a deafening silence.

We have had in this city a welling up that is not going to dissipate. This is not one that your political slide-rule is going to take care of. All your polling and all your adjusting and so on are not going to make this one go away. People have reserved a place in their collective memory for the backhanded way you have treated them through the course of this particular discussion, if I could dignify it as that. People will know that Bill 142, the megacity bill originally, the entire exercise is one of a government flagrantly out of control and ultimately out of touch. When people come to deliberate on this bill, they will indeed recognize the deficiency of the government and its paucity of ideas, not only the fixation on the tax cut, on taking services away from people, services needed in a metropolitan area like this, services which have been hard fought for and paid for by the people who live in those areas.

As we look at a provincial property tax taking away some of the educational tax and using it as the province sees fit, as we see the province trying to justify a download that we see admitted today is going to cost the province at least $660 million, and as we see the idea of a city put forward only as something that is bigger and better, people will know instead that they have lost something. They will not necessarily concede the whole idea behind the opposition to the megacity that you've encountered and that will continue to sit there under the surface.

Unfortunately, as I've said in this place before, there is an attitude among the members opposite that suggests that instead of recognizing that they are only renting this place, they own it. That's simply not acceptable. When it comes to the people of the city of Toronto, they will want from you a level of accountability. When you rejected them and rejected their referendum, you said to them: "You can't have the cities you grew up in, that you had as the vehicles to provide your basic services in your neighbourhoods. You can't even have a say." Even though 95% of the people who came and gave some of the most eloquent presentations we've heard in committee in years, according to people who have sat in this place for a long time, even though they did those things, there was no listening by either the minister or the member for Scarborough West. There was no listening. There was instead an arrogance that has come to be the trademark of this government.

Cities will not be fashioned out of arrogance. It is only this government, now having spent these two years in this place, that somehow believes it is only the day after the election. They believe they've got a mandate from the people for everything they can dream up in the Premier's office. They believe that somehow they're able to get away from all the normal, civilized rules of behaviour and accountability, of responsibility.

Sadly, that's true today. That's what we have in front of us with this further bill, this bill that would try to fill in some of the massive gaps that were left in the original megacity bill, some of the emptiness, things that simply aren't there. If you look at the original bill, you see only four or five pages, six pages, telling us what the megacity will look like. Instead, it has been left up to an appointed transition team to fill in those gaps, again taking it out of the control of the elected representatives.

That's what we have instead: a huge question mark about its shape but a very clear definition about its problems. We know about the liabilities that are inherent in this bill. We know what it will do in terms of taking rights away from people. We know what it represents in terms of a precedent for municipalities all across the province.

Mr Bradley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't think there's a quorum in the House. Would you look, please?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gary L. Leadston): Is there a quorum present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for York South.


Mr Kennedy: The mega-tendencies of this government's profoundly anti-democratic outlook are, sadly, bad enough, and it's what has inspired the people of Metropolitan Toronto to express themselves in unprecedented ways throughout the course of the discussion, such as it is, the truncated discussion, as these bills have been rushed through the Legislature, as people have been hustled out of this House, from the audience, from the galleries, as people have been restricted in their ability to come here, as people have been treated, metaphorically at least, as if this wasn't a democratic society.

People recognize that this is not just about this government, that the character of a city will not be set simply by what the people here in this House, even on this side, would wish it to be, and certainly not by this government majority who believe Queen's Park is the centre of the universe, who have lost touch with their electorate, who won't speak to the people who have objections, who won't listen to the people when they get to express themselves.

In the absence of that, people are looking at this next bill which has been called administrative, and they'll wonder. They have been promised that there will be consolidation, and yet we find in this bill the ability for some cities to set different tax rates. We see that they can apply their surpluses in different ways, and so perhaps Etobicoke will have higher taxes than North York. Is that what we'll have? Were the members from Etobicoke speaking up on behalf of that? Is that the kind of thing we'll have? Instead of being able to look at the way these services would remain intact, we find the government trying, far too late, pander to some of the expressions people have.

What people don't want is just differential short-term taxes. What people want is an expression of the city they live in, and for at least the time that remains after this bill comes into effect January 1, people will still refer to themselves as citizens of Etobicoke. They'll talk about that. They'll talk to you about that in the next election. They'll talk to you about living in Scarborough, being members of North York, of the city of York, of East York, and they'll tell you how they feel about this bill.

You're able to hide here. This is a wonderful place to be out of touch. If you want to get away from the people who elected you, this is the place to do it. People have stood back, even from other parts of the country, in amazement at how this whole exercise has been bungled and clumsily mishandled. I have marvelled at the ability of the members of this caucus not to be able to speak up on behalf of the place they live, not to be able to say that we won't want to break something until we know we're going to get something better, until we know there is something wrong with what we're breaking, and that's exactly what we have in the case of the megacity.

Instead we've been handed this oversized city that now is inviting all kinds of negative responses. You talk to the people in Pickering about how they feel about paying for welfare in Metropolitan Toronto around what this government is proposing to do. Had they instead looked at a larger government framework that gave them a say -- all they needed to do was give them a say in terms of the types of things that were happening.

Where is the ability of this government to deal with even that fundamental level of democracy? Not able to connect the taxes that people are going to be paying with the services they're going to be able to have. We see this patching going on, one after another, as this government tries to stitch together any comprehensible, any recognizable form of acceptable government. We see instead Hazel McCallion opposing the kinds of things this government is doing, and doing that partly because they've been provoked by this sloppy bill, by this sloppy arrangement that doesn't really come to terms with what it is this government needed to do.

If there was a problem, the problem was a differing rate of taxes that exists within Metropolitan Toronto and without, and that's simply not going to be addressed in the way it should have been done. It should have been done fairly and instead it has to be foisted on some of the other municipalities.


Mr Kennedy: We see some boisterousness among some of the caucus members here. We wish they'd exhibit some of that in caucus to the Premier so that some of this folly, this megacity folly, would perhaps not have been foisted on the people.

But we're reminded again by the member for Wentworth North that that's not how this government operates. That's not what we see. Instead we see disdain, a disdain that extends to hospitals, to health care, to every serious matter in this province on which this government has opened up files -- shutting down hospitals without a "by your leave."

Let me tell you briefly what happens in this new megacity in terms of part of the attack this Tory government has made. We had last week a five-year-old boy admitted to emergency at Northwestern hospital. Northwestern has been gutted of its paediatric services; they've taken away obstetrics, they've taken away gynaecology. This five-year-old boy with a tonsillectomy had to be put on a ward for geriatric patients, where there are infections, where it was hazardous. A grievance has been filed to say this isn't right.

That happened here in Toronto a few days ago. It's part of the future this government has in mind for us, unfortunately. We see a government that has in mind for us the fate of a number of women who were waiting to give birth in Humber Memorial Hospital, 10 or 11 of them waiting for six delivery suites because this government wants to close Northwestern General Hospital by November 3, wants to rush and shove. It doesn't matter that they've been told, that the staff has complained. I met with 25 doctors with concerns about what this government is doing in terms of that hospital who way it can't be done safely. They're closing emergencies.

This is the megacity they would have us live in. This is a negacitiy stripped down, stripped of some of its basic elements of civility. It's here, ladies and gentlemen, that the hospitals are being closed. It's out there, in some of the rural and northern areas, that we saw a policy, a policy that they'll find out has political trickery all over it, but at least it slows down some of the closures of those institutions in some of those places. That political trickery at least is some concession that might allow those hospitals to stay open until the next election and until the people there can really tell this government what they think of them trifling with their basics, with their fundamentals, the place they live, the basic right they have to vote, to control at least some of the outcomes that affect them in their everyday lives.

Only this government, with its profound arrogance, could excite from people this kind of response around the things that most people would accept are straightforward, that have to do with sewers and roads and the basic services. People understand now that the megacity bill is the bill that best shows this government's character, or rather this government's lack of character, this government's inability to do what is the most fundamental of political traits: to admit it when you're wrong and to act on that.

This government has not that capacity. It can't do it in terms of hospitals. It sadly has proven here today that it won't do it in respect of Metropolitan Toronto. But it is absolutely certain that the current citizens of the city of Toronto, the city of North York, the city of York, the city of Scarborough and the city of Etobicoke will all remember. They will know that this is a government that doesn't fundamentally respect the people who live here.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I just want to thank the member for York South, my colleague, for his very thoughtful and incisive comments. I think he was trying to explain how this bill is connected --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker, with apologies to my colleague from Oakwood: I just want to raise a point with regard to the Services Improvement Act, which was introduced by the Minister of Community and Social Services today without any ministerial statement and without any notice on a Thursday afternoon, trying to sneak a bill through prior to the AMO convention this fall.


This bill is an omnibus bill. This government has not learned a thing from its experience on Bill 26. This so-called Services Improvement Act would amend 10 different bills. This is the download bill, the download omnibus bill. The government is repeating the same errors it made before. This bill amends the Independent Health Facilities Act, the health protection act, the Ambulance Act, the social housing act, the Toronto Transit authority act, the Day Nurseries Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act and the Building Code Act.

The reason I'm raising this is to ask the Speaker to consider this bill and to determine whether it is in order, because it amends so many unrelated pieces of legislation. It amends things, as I said, like the Building Code Act, the Social Housing Act and the Toronto Transit Authority Act, while at the same time amending a number of health-related acts and also the Provincial Offences Act.

I submit to you that this a repeat of the mistakes made on Bill 26. This is Bill 26 all over again. The government, now that it has its rule changes through, is demonstrating the same kind of arrogance it has in the past.

I raise this matter with you in a very serious way. I don't want to take away from the time of my friend from Oakwood, but I want to specifically request the Speaker to consider whether the Services Improvement Act, the bill that was introduced today without announcement, without any information to either this House or the media, is in order.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, just to respond to that last point, all the appropriate notice of course was given with regard to this particular bill.

If the argument is that this is an omnibus bill, I would say that omnibus bills have been and are procedurally correct.


The Acting Speaker: Order.

Hon David Johnson: It's a little hard, over the caterwauling from opposite.

Interjection: What does "caterwauling" mean?

Hon David Johnson: Listen for a minute and you'll find out what caterwauling means.

There are criteria with which omnibus legislation must conform, and this is from page 192, 6th edition of Beauchesne:

"Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill."

That's what we have to consider.

There have been many Speakers' rulings and precedents and tradition which all support the practice of using one bill to demand one decision on a number of different, although related -- I say again, related -- subjects. Speakers in the past have been very clear that they cannot dictate what is in a bill nor can they intervene to divide a bill. No Speaker to date has found in himself or herself the power to split a bill or to rule the contents of a bill out of order.

Speaker Jeanne Sauvé of the House of Commons stated on March 2, 1982: "It may be that the House should accept rules or guidelines as to the form and content of omnibus bills, but in that case the House, and not the Speaker, must make those rules."

It's interesting that the House leader of the third party, a gentleman I respect quite a bit, although we differ considerably on this particular issue -- considering that when the third party was in government, from 1990 to 1995, introduced five omnibus bills --

The Acting Speaker: Would the House leader address his point to the point of order, please.

Hon David Johnson: -- five omnibus bills in 1993 to 1994. For example, Bill 143, An Act to amend certain Acts related to The Regional Municipality --

The Acting Speaker: Could you address your points to the point of order, please.

Hon David Johnson: I'm talking about past rulings and past omnibus bills, in this case the previous government's Bill 143, An Act to amend certain Acts related to the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton and to amend the Education Act in respect of French-Language School Boards, 1994.

This bill was inconsistent with conventional omnibus format because it introduced two very different matters that had nothing in common apart from affecting the same geographical area. None the less, in that particular ruling, the Acting Speaker, who is now the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Villeneuve, found the bill to be in order and indicated that the Chair should not dictate to any cabinet member what should or should not be in an omnibus bill. It was in order.

Again, Bill 175, an act to amend the statutes of Ontario, from the previous government, from the NDP government, and on and on it goes. Bill 175 amended 139 statutes, 14 different ministries. Our member for Dufferin-Peel at that point objected to the bill --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Teeny-weeny statutory provisions, not changing the whole scope of what municipalities do.

Hon David Johnson: -- but that bill was ruled in order and indeed the then Attorney General Marion Boyd, who is with us today --

Mrs Boyd: It's not appropriate to comment on who's here and who isn't.

Hon David Johnson: Sorry, you're right. I apologize. I'll just say the then Attorney General, in whose name the bill stood, argued that, "The act amends a number of statutes to increase" -- you may be interested in this, Mr Speaker -- "the efficiency of the government and to improve the services that the government provides to the people of Ontario," which is exactly the intent of this particular bill. Again that was ruled in order. Deputy Speaker Morin ruled again that it was not the responsibility of the Speaker to take upon himself to split the proposed legislation.

Bill 26 has been alluded to here today, and Speaker McLean ruled on December 5, 1995: "Bill 26 may be complex, a very broad piece of legislation. However, omnibus legislation is accepted in parliamentary jurisdictions in this country and it is something to which this assembly is no stranger." There is ruling after ruling in this regard.

This particular bill, the bill that has been raised here today, is introduced by the long title, An Act to improve Services, increase Efficiency and benefit Taxpayers by eliminating Duplication and reallocating Responsibilities between Provincial and Municipal Governments in various areas and to implement other aspects of the Government's "Who Does What" agenda.

This bill clearly meets all the tests of an omnibus bill. The title covers all of the aspects of the bill, it covers all of the ministries. The bill has a theme of relevancy; that theme of relevancy across all aspects of the bill is the realigning of the provincial-municipal relationship, the delivery of more efficient and effective services to the taxpayers. So I would submit to you, Mr Speaker, that indeed this bill is in order.

Mr Bradley: It's quite obvious from the fact that the minister is prepared for this argument this afternoon that the government feels guilty about introducing this kind of bill, for a very good reason. The minister makes the point that somehow if he has an all-encompassing title to a bill, all the contents of that bill then are justified. Surely then one could simply dream up a title which would say "Changes to benefit the Province of Ontario," and amend 200 different statutes of the Legislature. The argument that somehow the title entitles this government to put everything together of this kind in one bill is not a valid argument.


In addition to that, if you examine the various aspects of this bill in the compendium which was provided to the opposition critics, you would note for certain that these are distinctly different provisions which should be contained in individual bills. Not only has the government changed the rules of the House so it can rush its legislation through much more quickly, but now it's taking 11 different bills into one bill and wanting to shove it through under the new rules of the Legislature. Therefore, I think it is clear that the government is in violation of the rules of this House and that the government is making the same mistake it made when it brought in Bill 26, an all-encompassing bill which blew up in the face of the government some several months ago.

The Acting Speaker: I'd like to thank the member for St Catharines and the government House leader and particularly Mr Wildman from Algoma for bringing this matter to my attention. Since the bill was just introduced today, I require some time to reflect on that and review it. We do have an excellent research department within the Legislature. I'll therefore reserve my judgement and my ruling and report to the House at my most early convenience.

Mr Colle: I think it's very appropriate and almost typical of the way this government operates that this downloading bill is introduced on Thursday afternoon when they had hoped that nobody would be watching. It's essentially another Bill 26. What they're doing with this bill they're introducing as we're about to discuss megacity 2 is the fact that this government still thinks they can get away with doing whatever they feel like doing, and that is why a lot of people are so upset at this government, and this government and its members still don't get it.

The people want to be listened to. You may disagree with people, you may think that people are wrong, but they have a right as taxpayers to be listened to. Even Judge Borins, in discussing the megacity challenge said, a quote in the Globe and Mail:

"The evidence suggested that the measure simply appeared on the government's legislative agenda with little or no public notice and without any attempt to enter into any meaningful consultation with those people who would be most affected by it, the more than two million inhabitants of Metro Toronto. Such, however, is the prerogative of the government."

The government is saying, "We can do it and we're going to do it." That's what they did with megacity Bill 103. That's what they're doing with the son of megacity, 148, which is in essence the same bill. Those of us on this side cannot accept 148 because, in essence, it was brought to this House and to the people of Metropolitan Toronto without their consent; therefore, you cannot say, "Accept these administrative changes" when the bill was brought to the people without any kind of appreciation that the people of Ontario or the people of Metropolitan Toronto would want to have input on it, that they would be listened to.

Here we go talking about why people are most upset about Bill 148, Bill 103, when five minutes ago the interjection by the member for Algoma talked about the repetition of that same pattern by this government, the pattern that even members of your own caucus have stood up bravely against. A few brave members have had the guts to stand up and say: "This is dictatorship. This is not democratic." I don't have to name the members. They're in enough trouble. They have done that because that is why people have fundamentally opposed megacity, 148 and 103, and they oppose the downloading bill that has been introduced today. The people of Ontario expect one small thing: to be listened to in a fair way.

Sure, the government may decide to proceed anyway, but they expect a fair hearing. They expect the government to give and take a little bit and not to do things no matter what people say. That is the misdirection of this whole approach that this government takes not only towards local government but towards everything they do.

This is a government that claims to be neo-conservative, claims to be small government. But my colleague for York South quoted Terence Corcoran, a right-wing financial writer for the Globe and Mail, who said that this government basically believes in big government, believes in government that's interventionist, believes in control. This is a government of control. This is not a small-c conservative government. This is more like a government that comes from the 1930s in the Soviet Union under Stalin, which believes in highly centralized control.

Look at what they've done with the school boards. We had locally controlled school boards. Sure, they weren't perfect, but they were locally controlled. Now in Metropolitan Toronto, for instance, you have a school board of over 300,000 students that's controlled out of Queen's Park. What say will the ordinary taxpayer have in that kind of mega-school board? What say will the student who has a learning disability have in that kind of large school board? This is not small government, when you have entities of 300,000.

What this government has done in a very short period of time is create two of the largest governments in Canada. It has created the megacity, which is going to be the sixth-largest government in Canada, larger than the maritime provinces, larger than Saskatchewan or Manitoba. It's created this government of 2.3 million people, a huge government the size of the province of Alberta. That's not small government; that's in-your-face big government.

Bill 148 reinforces that big-government approach. Bill 148 is about centralizing control, control that they hope will not allow the public to have its give and take.

Look at the other thing they've created: the fifth-largest government in Canada. They now call it a "services board," but we know that is another government. Sure, people say, "You've got to have this." But they won't admit that they have just created again a government of over four million people, which a lot of people are worried about. They're worried about it, not so much because the government may be good or bad, but they say: "Can we have a say in this government? Will you listen to us, whether we live in Oshawa or in East York? Will you listen to us?" That is why they're very apprehensive about bills like Bill 148, Bill 103 and the downloading bill introduced today.

People are very afraid of this government. This is a government that instils fear in the hearts of people of all political stripes. You don't have to be a Liberal or a New Democrat; there are Conservatives who are afraid about this government's big-government attitudes that don't have room for little people, that this is a government that now is going to arbitrarily establish massive governments, massive hospitals, massive school boards all across Ontario.

Maybe, in some cases, a larger government or a larger hospital may be beneficial, but the question is, did the people of that community, the people who donated to that hospital being created with their donation, with their voluntarism, have a say in whether the hospital would be open or closed? Did they have a say in whether city hall or their town hall would be open or closed? This government has not given people a say. It has set up these arbitrary commissions and made decisions.

The hospital restructuring commission: Who has ever seen these people? I saw Mr Sinclair one time in a cameo appearance on TV. He has disappeared, gone back into the bunker somewhere. I wanted Mr Sinclair or whoever -- Mr Meyboom, who was appointed to put a megacity into Chatham-Kent. Where are these people? Where do they hide? They should be accountable. It should be MPPs, it should be the city councillors or town councillors, the reeves who are accountable, not these secret agents that this government likes to rely upon.


The secrecy and the lack of appreciation of give and take is what makes a lot of small-c conservatives or Liberals or New Democrats very uneasy about this government. And they continue to do this; they never learn. The courts warned the government about its attitude in terms of not listening to people. You had Judge Brennan, about Bill 103, warn this government about what it did in terms of imposing trusteeship on Toronto. You had Judge Borins saying that it's technically legal, what they did with Bill 103, but he couldn't believe the chutzpah of this government actually doing what they did to 2.3 million citizens of Metropolitan Toronto.

This government finds out through its back-room whiz kids what is doable legally. It gets its outside legal firms to do the research to see, "What can we get away with legally?" You heard the House leader saying it again today: "We've done this research. We've gone back to 1982, and these references make what we do legally, technically correct."

But democratic government is not just about what's technically correct and what you can get away with. Democratic government is about imperfection. It's about debate. You might disagree, but at least you get in there and debate; you have that give and take, that listening that takes place. Listening doesn't mean just going through the motions. Listening means you make changes based on what the people want.

With all the people saying day after day after day that they don't want their hospital closed, don't want Women's College Hospital closed, don't want Wellesley closed -- we're losing 11 hospitals here in Metro. Who is going to listen? Where is this person, Sinclair, and his back-room people who are making these decisions? How can the public go and explain to them how important their hospital is?

Who do the people go to if they don't like their city being made into a giant city? Who will listen to them? You know what they have to do? They have to go to court. Here's what we've come to. If you've got a problem with your hospital closure, your city being amalgamated, you've got to go to court, because people know now this government is one that doesn't listen.

This government and the Premier, Mike Harris, pride themselves on not listening. They have this attitude: "The protesters were there, they raised all these points. Big deal. We're going to stick to it no matter what." They pride themselves on not making any substantive changes to their agenda. You can get away with it to a certain extent, but I think the chickens are coming home to roost, as they say.

All over Ontario, not just in Metropolitan Toronto, people are beginning to realize that this government doesn't listen not only to Liberals or New Democrats; they also don't listen to their own friends who are small-c conservative. They listen to their big friends with their big tax cut but they don't listen to ordinary people.

If you look at this bill here, 148, you will see that there are massive changes taking place, massive changes which for the most part are not even being done through the auspices of this bill. Actually, most of the changes we're seeing to Metropolitan Toronto right now are being done through an unelected transition team. The minister hand-picked six people to create this new government of Metropolitan Toronto, the megacity government. They are going to hire the chief executive officer, they're going to hire the police chief, the fire chief. They're going to do this. They're appointed.

You can imagine the outrage of people saying: "Hey, wait a minute. Elected councillors have that right, don't they? Why should these appointed people now set up this government and tell us what we've got to do?"

That's who has the power. The real nuts and bolts of this new government in Toronto that they've formed against people's will is being created by this unelected transition team, which is making decisions as we sit here about the future of their city.

You can make deputations, supposedly, before this transition team, but we know that this transition team has been hand-picked by the minister. They're the minister's friends. Who are they going to listen to? The deputants who have a different point of view, or are they going to listen to the minister? They're obviously there to do the minister's bidding. That is what upsets people. There's a budget being set at Metropolitan Toronto right now and they've been told everything's going to be cut by 15%. The budget is being set by the transition team. It's not being set by the elected council. This is going to be the essential program and the program parameters for the new government: unelected people deciding which services, unelected people deciding what's going to be cut, unelected people deciding in which shape this new government is going to develop.

This is what is still being perpetrated under Bill 103, and for the minister to come along and say, "You're now going to accept 148" -- the minister knows full well that the people who oppose 103 opposed it because they felt that the public had the right to decide the shape of their own government. The public said that you, as a government at Queen's Park, technically can force this upon us, as Judge Borins said, but you have no right to do it in the way you do in light of the democratic traditions of Ontario and the democratic traditions of our cities and our communities.

That is what Bill 148 is continuing to perpetrate, this attitude that big government here at Queen's Park knows best. They will do what they have to do, they will do it anyway, and they will essentially get away with it because their whiz kid lawyer friends in the back room have said they can get away with it. That is who is running this province, these invisible people who are not accountable. That is what the essence of unaccountability is in 148 and with 103.

If you look at 148, there are some interesting questions raised. The people of Metropolitan Toronto, who are now faced with this new government that they never asked for, are saying: "We thought with this new government there was going to be an equality of service and an equality of taxes. Now we know, with this bill, that there are going to be variable mill rates." It's still possible, despite all the rhetoric, that you're going to have different tax rates for different parts of Metropolitan Toronto. You're going to have different service levels.

One of the reasons people were told to accept this bill is that they said, "We're going to make everything equal." Things aren't going to be equal, because Bill 148 says there are going to be different taxes for different parts of the megacity and different levels of service.

I know in my own community people are saying, "We are going to need a community centre." We don't have, for instance, in the city of York -- Mr Speaker, I know there is in your community, but we don't have a community centre in the whole city of York. With 135,000 people, we don't have a full-fledged community centre. We still have 40% of our sewers that aren't separated. They're saying, "With this bill and this megacity coming along, we expect to get community centres, we expect to get our sewers separated and we don't expect to pay the high taxes we're paying right now."


But if you look at the technicalities of Bill 148, it tells you that whether it be the city of York or East York or Scarborough, you're still going to have the potential of a disparity in the level of service and you're also going to have different tax rates. It's going to be very interesting for the new mega-councillors to try and explain that to their citizens. "Yes, we've got this new unified megacity but we've still got different tax rates."

People are going to ask: "Why did you do this? We're going to have this new megacity that's united but we're still going to have different services." People are going to say: "Hey, wait a minute. You told us this was all worth it because we're going to have this equality across the six cities." Bill 148 reaffirms that you've still got six, or maybe even more than that because they're talking now about maybe setting up eight or 10 community councils. Who knows how many different levels of service you're going to have? There isn't going to be parity. There isn't going to be equality. There's still going to be a lot of disparity. Then if people in parts of York say, "Hey, we want more money spent for a better community centre," I wonder whether the money's going to be there, because the hook is, if they do get improved services, will their taxes go up? They were told the megacity will not increase taxes, that the megacity will improve services and lower taxes because now you're part of a bigger pie.

Those are some of the interesting questions.

In terms of the fire department, they talk about one fire department. There's a lot of logic to having one fire department, but don't try and sell it to people by saying, "Oh, we're just going to have one chief instead of six chiefs," because we know, according to American experience in Chicago, New York and LA, that what they do is they have one mega-chief and six subchiefs who end up getting paid as much or more than the original six chiefs. Firefighting is done by districts. You can't have it one big blob. You have to split it up. So you're not going to get rid of the six chiefs. You're going to have seven chiefs and the mega-chief is going to have so many more people under him or her that you're probably going to be paying more for that.

Sure, it may make sense to have one fire department, but don't tell us that you're not going to have the six deputy chiefs or subchiefs or vice-chiefs or junior chiefs. They're going to call them something, but they're still going to be there. The mega-chief will be there and he or she will probably have a big fat salary.

In terms of the other departments, if you look at parks and recreation, the question will be, will there be parity of parks and recreational services throughout this megacity? Will this bill allow that? The answer is no, because it depends on what taxes you're going to be paying in the varying areas, in the old cities. You may not get the same recreational services because you may pay more taxes for those recreational services. So there isn't a formula here for instant equity.

All this bill does is go through consolidating some of the things Bill 103 proposed and some of the things it left out. For instance, in 103 there was no reference basically to the future of the TTC. They sort of left the TTC hanging out there. What they've done with 148 is said that the TTC is going to remain as an independent entity that's going to have its own ability to control transit and have a monopoly on transit in the new megacity. They left that out completely. I think it was probably an accidental omission in 103. They've corrected that mistake in 103 and they've come up with a covering bill, which is Bill 148.

One of the things that's interesting too is that during the 103 hearings, we were told over and over again: "Oh, the hiring of the new civil servants for the megacity will be just temporary. They'll be six-month contracts or they'll be temporary contracts." Yet the transition team appointed by the minister is now advertising across Canada for these top civil servants. Do you think they're telling these civil servants they're going to hire for $150,000 or $200,000 that it's going to be a six-month contract? These people are being told no doubt that they're going to be hired permanently. So whoever agrees or disagrees with these civil servants, the unelected transition team, basically handpicked by the minister and the provincial government, will decide who these top civil servants will be.

We were told in the 103 hearings: "Oh, no, don't worry about that. The new city council will have sway over that. These are temporary things." You can just imagine trying to recruit a top civil servant to be the top CAO of this new city council saying, "Oh, we're just going to hire you for six months." You can rest assured that they'll be stuck with his contract or buyout, or her contract or buyout, and they'll not have much choice in keeping that person on. When they try to get rid of them, you can imagine what they're going to go through.

I think you have been in local government, Mr Speaker. You know the problems of letting go or changing top civil servants, how difficult that is. They just don't want to leave without a big fat severance package. That's what's going to happen because the transition team is hiring these top civil servants. This is something that's not in Bill 148, but is in the extended powers of the minister through his friends on the transition team who are basically organizing this new city to their likeness or to his likeness. That's what's going on. Outside of this bill or any other bill it's just unlimited powers granted to this unelected group that is essentially orgnaizing the future for 2.5 million or 2.3 million people.

No matter where we turn we can see that the essence of change is something a lot of people could accept because we are in a period of change and transition, but over and over again this government keeps rubbing it in people's faces. It keeps telling people: "Yes, we are going to do this. We'll have this token attempt to listen to you, but we're going to do this thing whether you like it or not."

The other thing is that people in this new city are going to look at their tax bill and they're going to say: "We've got a new city. We've got new departments. We've got a new tax system." As you know -- I don't know whether in your municipality you're going to get it too -- we're getting market value assessment here in Metro. A lot of people are wondering what services they're going to get, what their tax bill is going to be, who's going to set their tax rate, and then they're going to say, "How is this going to be affected by market value assessment?"

The other complication that isn't in this bill which is something that leaves a lot of uncertainty is in terms of who's going to pay what in the different areas of the city. Will the residential taxpayers be asked to pay more than the apartment taxpayers in the mutliresidential or the commercial? That is going to be left up to the next council to decide. They're going to be deciding on who to hit. Are they going to hit the individual homeowner? Are they going to cut his or her services to the homeowners to basically lower the taxes for the apartment tenants, or will they have to hit both the tenants and the homeowners to cut the hit on the commercial taxpayers?

This has all been essentially downloaded upon the people of Metropolitan Toronto. People in Metropolitan Toronto will not know where the cut in service or the increase or the change in taxes comes from. They're going to be totally confused because there are so many things happening at once.

If you go back to the original premise of this bill, the original premise was, "We're going to make some changes and we're going to make things better," but we know why they undertook these changes. This government was hell bent on essentially taking money out of Metropolitan Toronto's rich tax base so they can make up for their tax cut.

That's what the whole rationale of this Bill 103 and Bill 148 was all about. They wanted to get rid of what they felt was a premium school system here in Metropolitan Toronto that had too much money supposedly, to get rid of the money the local governments collected here in Metro so the province could come in and take money for itself. That's what perpetrated this whole mega-madness from day one. What this government was trying to do was essentially camouflage. I've said it before, it was a Trojan Horse for this extraction of money out of Metropolitan Toronto so the schools wouldn't have as much money and the taxpayers and the residents wouldn't have the services at their disposal.

That is what is so upsetting, and the people in Toronto aren't fooled. They know that was the original motive for doing what they did. I guess the ironic thing in this attempt to extract this money from Metropolitan Toronto is that, to their surprise, they were forced now to dump some of this on to the 905.


Now we find the 905 caught up in the downloading dilemma of the Harris government. Originally they thought they could hit Metropolitan Toronto itself and 905 wouldn't have to be touched. The reality has now come home to roost. This downloading exercise, which motivated 103 and 148, is going to come home to roost right across the GTA. All of us will be forced to bear the burden of the downloading, the offloading, of provincial responsibilities. You know what they are, Speaker. We know that social housing is going to be downloaded to the municipalities on their property tax. We know that ambulance services are going to be downloaded. We know that public transit is going to be downloaded. We know that welfare is going to be downloaded.

That has backfired on the Harris government because they thought originally they could just contain it to the 2.3 million people in Toronto. Now I think if you look across the 905 area, which surrounds Toronto's 416 area, people are saying, "Hey, this was supposed to just be a Toronto thing." But they've demonstrated that you cannot get away with just hitting Toronto, because they would have bankrupted Toronto if they had done what they intended to do from four months ago when we told them downloading is going to kill and destroy Toronto. At that time they said: "Oh, no, it's a wash, 10% tax cuts. This downloading won't hurt anybody. Toronto will be fine." We told them $600 million was going to be hit upon Toronto, and they said, "No, no, it's okay," but they've finally come halfway to their senses in realizing Toronto wouldn't have survived that downloading hit. They had to make a big retreat on that.

The tragedy, though, is that the downloading concept still remains, so even though the pain is now spread throughout the 905, throughout the GTA, the basic principle which these bills reinforce of offloading income maintenance programs on to property taxes is what is fundamentally flawed and what is most dangerous about this approach.

If the provincial government had forgone a portion of its tax cut to the rich, who benefit most, they could have softened the downloading. But they had to do the downloading in order to get away with that giveaway in the tax cut. That's why they had to do the downloading, because they couldn't have social housing on their books, they couldn't have welfare on their books or public transit on their books, or they wouldn't have therefore looked good in the eyes of the public in terms of managing their financial budgetary picture.

The only way out for this government, and we're going to be caught in it, and I think the rest of the province is going to be caught in it -- I've stuck to the 905, the GTA area, on this bill, but the whole province subsequently -- is proof that they're going to be caught in the same exercise of the shell game of the tax cut, where what were provincial responsibilities are now local responsibilities. That is the unbelievable challenge that the people of Metropolitan Toronto are faced with. They're going to have to somehow juggle --


The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): Could I ask the member for Scarborough East to please either take his seat or take his conversation outside the chamber. I'm having a hard time hearing the member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: The member for Scarborough East doesn't like to listen. I know he likes to talk a lot, but that is maybe symptomatic of why things have gone wrong with this bill.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Say something original and maybe we will.

Mr Colle: This is where the problem is. The member for Scarborough East is typical of this authoritarian, autocratic approach to governance, where they're always right and "We will not pay attention to you." But I know the people out there are starting to pay attention to this government. They realize now what this government is all about. They're a government that is hell-bent on doing what they feel will please a very small segment of society and they're a government hell-bent on trying to spend more time on damage control than on actually trying to help people.

If you look at this change that's taking place to Metropolitan Toronto, if you take a look at all these massive changes that nobody asked for -- what was the emergency? Why the emergency? All over the world people have been saying for the last 20 years: "You have one of the best, livable, clean, safe, open, friendly cities in the world to live in that's got prosperity, that's got good health care, good communities. Why would you all of a sudden turn everything up on its ear?" This is what people have been asking and you wonder whether this government ever lived in a city, that they would want to destroy it and turn it upside down and risk so much.

This reckless approach, this approach that they know best, that they don't have to listen, that they could only do what they want if they listen to a few select friends, basically goes in the face of the reality of Metropolitan Toronto and its six communities where, despite their challenges with all the newcomers who come here, despite their challenges of the elderly, the poor, they have done a fantastic job, considering the challenges Metropolitan Toronto has faced over the last number of years.

They've done a great job, and sure there have been problems. Nobody will deny that taxes are sometimes too high. Nobody will deny that services are not what you want at times. Nobody will deny there's sometimes too much traffic. But overall the people of Etobicoke and the people of North York and the people of East York have been quite content to live in this metropolitan area. They never asked for a bulldozing of their way of life. They never asked for a closing of 11 hospitals. They never asked for a totally different approach to government financing which puts more emphasis on the property taxpayer and less on the income tax. They never asked for these dramatic, draconian changes.

This level of change, as I said, only goes back to Stalinist Russia, when they did this kind of dramatic change. There has been no Conservative or Liberal or New Democratic government in Ontario that has done such massive change to a province. They've never done it. You ask the people, "Is the change for good?" and you'll see there are a lot of victims of this bulldozing who sometimes don't get heard and sometimes are not high profile.

There are a lot of seniors who are very worried about their hospital, their local services. There are a lot of poor, some on welfare, some working poor, who wonder where their next piece of bread is going to come from. They worry about these things. I know the members over there don't listen or hear these people, but they come to my office on a daily basis. They come and cry because they have no place to live because all the social housing has been shut down. You have grown men, 65 years of age, crying because they're on the streets and they're too ashamed to tell their family. That is what this upheaval is doing.

People don't know what they're going to change next. Every time they pick up the paper this government is undergoing more change, more upheaval, more turning upside down of our province, of our cities. People say: "Would you get out of my face for a minute and let me breathe? We didn't elect you to shove all these things down our throats. We elected you to govern. We didn't elect you to rule or to transform this into some kind of gulag or whatever they're trying to do here." They want change but they don't want it rammed down their throats. They want to be listened to. They want meaningful input where they can also have a bit of say in shaping their city, their hospitals, their housing. But right now the majority of people feel it's just one massive bulldozing after another.

They say, "These guys can't even stop for the summer. They've got to come back," and today we've been here three or four days and they introduce this downloading omnibus bill. We went through Bill 26. They put the province through hell with 26, which they said was just a small series of bills.


We have a repeat of this again today. This government and the leaders of this government do not learn. They keep on trying to do things as they did with Bills 26 and 103. They will not change because they feel they're getting away with it.

I don't think all these changes are going to be opposed, but what's happening now is that people are saying, "Enough is enough, I don't trust whatever this government is doing." It seems to have a plan that is foreign to what ordinary people perceive as being reasonable. They're being extremist. This is extreme upheaval: closing 11 hospitals, mega-school boards, megacities, all at once.

You can imagine if they did one of those things, like the housing alone, the impact that has on people. Rent control: There are people all over Metropolitan Toronto worried about that and the impact on their neighbourhoods and city, because one of the things that has made this city a wonderful place to live is that no matter where you go in Etobicoke or Toronto or North York, you'll find some very affordable housing right in very well-to-do areas. You've had a good mix. In the downtown core, in north Toronto, wherever you go, there are very good affordable apartments.

What has happened in the middle of all these changes of downloading with megacity is that this government is all of a sudden taking people, literally, and saying, "Hey, we may have to move you out of the apartment you've lived in for 20 years." That's the threat they're putting over people because they're changing the way people live through the rent control decontrol.

How are people going to feel comfortable with all these changes? It's very difficult, especially if you tell the seniors. They're the ones most concerned. Seniors are most concerned about these bills because bill after bill seems to be an attack on their stability and comfort. Sure, seniors will say, "I need some improvements," but they're really wondering what is going to happen tomorrow or a month from now.

All these changes and proposals we see in Bill 148, if you look at them, seem pretty innocuous. But in terms of how they affect people, there are going to be some very dramatic changes. It's going to take a lot of work, good fortune and dedication to make sure that somehow the 2.3 million people in Metropolitan Toronto survive this.

The ironic part of it is, if you look back a year or two ago, things weren't that bad. The best judges of that were people who visited Toronto who would tell you over and over again: "Your city is a city that should be copied. Your city is one that works. Your city is one that I would want to move to." These were the comments made by professional city planners; they were made by tourists; they were made by family members who visited from other countries. They would continually talk about Toronto being a city they would want to move to, a city they would like to copy.

Sure, in 1989 the recession hit and we had a very difficult five or six years. To say, "Well, we had to turn the whole place upside down because of the recession," is not right or fair, because that was something that was out of everybody's control, no matter what level of government. The recession was something basically that, as you know, everybody had to live with and could do very little about.

To use that as the excuse to bulldoze everything is not acceptable, because this city has worked, it has provided employment for people from all over the world, it has provided culture for people from all over the world, it has provided housing for people from all over the world. And people from all over Ontario, people from all over Canada have come to Toronto, have been welcome here. That has been Toronto's success; that has been Etobicoke's success; it has been the success of all six municipalities. That is what makes them such valuable places. They're valuable because the people make them valuable. Governments don't make them valuable.

This is a government that believes it can make things valuable or make them optimally, let's say, financially viable -- they think they can do that by legislation all the time. They think they can pass bills and make things wonderful. It's not governments and it's not bills that make cities wonderful; it's not backroom whiz kids, it's not high-priced lawyers who make cities wonderful; it's the people who live in neighbourhoods, who contribute by volunteering, who volunteer at the local school, who participate and support their local stores, who attend local concerts, who make sure their parks are clean. These are the people who have made Toronto successful. These are the people who have felt ignored.

This government through its Bills 103 and 148 is a government that has basically told those people, who especially 10 or 20 years ago, when a lot of us had the decision to make, "Do we stay in Metropolitan Toronto or do we leave?" -- these are the people who stayed in their neighbourhoods. They stayed in the Annex. They stayed in Cabbagetown. They stayed in Swansea. They stayed in my Oakwood area. They said: "We're going to stay here and make things work. We're not going to leave. We're not going to escape. We're not going to go to find some Nirvana out in Bobcaygeon or somewhere." They said, "We're going to stay here, roll up our sleeves, make sure our schools work, make sure our parks are clean and make our community better." Those are the people who built this city.

If you look in my own area, and I ask you to go through it, there were all kinds of run-down houses 10 or 15 years ago; they were dilapidated. Without any government help, individuals have built new houses out of the old houses with bricks. There are beautiful new homes standing where old run-down ones were. They bought those houses, they put up their own money, in many cases they built these houses themselves on the weekends. They're popping up all over these streets where at one time there were a lot of run-down houses.

They've done that in downtown Toronto, down on College Street. They've done it in the west end. They've done it in Cabbagetown, where people said, "Hey, listen, we're going to stay here, and we're going to build and rebuild, renovate, improve our homes." They all did that. They did it without the government. That's what made downtown Toronto, that's what made the Beach in the east end viable. People stayed, put their own money, their own love into their homes and neighbourhoods. It wasn't the government that did it; they did it.

These are the same people who say, "Now you come along and say Bill 148 is going to make it perfect, and you're going to do it whether we like it or not." They say: "Wait a minute. We are adults. We're taxpayers. We have the right to vote. You can't do these things without consulting." But this government, as you know, concocted all this stuff in some back room. We still don't know which back room, but we know this was thrust upon us. All these plans, or all these schemes, I should say, were concocted where I don't know, but they were concocted, and basically they've turned a province, a city upside down.

The question is, to what end have they done all this? To what end are they closing hospitals? To what end are they shutting down city halls? To what end are they shutting down schools? To what end? What is their ultimate goal? Where are they going? Are they just saying that closing these places down is an end in itself? I'm beginning to think that's what it's all about, that there is no vision. The essence of what they're about, these backroom people who are manipulating this government is they seem to have one goal, and that is basically to make things larger, more distant, and to ensure that small groups of people or individuals don't have any say in it.

That's what they seem to relish. That is what, I'm sad to say, seems still to be the direction of this government. No matter how many times they get rapped on the knuckles by courts and by the electorate, by ordinary citizens, they still continue on their merry old way of doing what they want to do, not what people are asking them to do.


People asked for some change, moderate change. They didn't ask for this revolution. They didn't ask for their homes, their hospitals, their schools to be bulldozed. That is what is happening in everything they seem to be doing. People are saying: "Give us time to catch our breath. Give us time so we can maybe shape this thing ourselves." That's what they're asking.

But this government doesn't seem to have any desire to slow down. As you know, they've changed the rules here in this House. This is the last day we will be able to debate in a meaningful way. As of midnight tonight, our ability to inform people about what's in these bills and our ability to debate is going to be curtailed dramatically.

They're going to go even faster. Their going 100 miles an hour isn't fast enough; they're going to go 200 miles an hour. That is what they're all about. They don't want to slow down to listen to people. They now want to ensure there is even less debate, less questioning, less opinion by the electorate. That is what is very scary about Bill 148 and what it means to Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I want to congratulate the member for Oakwood on a very passionate speech in defence of the way of life that his constituents enjoy, and more importantly, about the manner in which this government has moved. It's clear this government is not listening. You only listen to your friends. We only need to look at the limited amount of time that's being given in this House with the new rules, but also out in committee where we travelled around the province. The whole opportunity traditionally has been given through committee hearings to allow people to have their say.

You just did that with the WCB, limiting it to six days. With Bill 7, when you changed the Ontario Labour Relations Act, you didn't even have one minute of public hearings. You just rammed things through.

You've got so many changes going on, it's no wonder that the people of Toronto and the surrounding areas are concerned. There is hardly a facet of this province left that you haven't tipped upside-down. Some of you will feel really good about that and say: "See? We're fixing it." Well, no. The point is that you're not listening to people. You are changing it, but you're not necessarily making it better. You cannot have thought through all the implications of what you're doing. We've seen that often enough. We see it in the number of amendments that have to be made. When finally people do get a chance to speak, we hear about what the implications are.

But you haven't thought of those things. How many times have you had to change direction? In my own community of Hamilton-Wentworth, in terms of governmental restructuring, you flip-flopped all over the place. Every time you announced, "Oh, we've got the solution," it was only to find out that somebody said, "Have you thought of this, and this and this?" Then you went back and scratched your heads and said, "We've got a new idea." At the end of the day, you ended up doing nothing. You missed the one opportunity we had to properly restructure things.

In closing, I again compliment my colleague in the Liberal Party, the member for Oakwood, on an excellent speech that I think is very relevant.

Mr Gilchrist: I appreciate the opportunity to say something briefly in response to the member for Oakwood, who once again made a passionate but completely bereft of substance comment about another bill.

The bottom line is that the rhetoric has reached proportions that are absolutely astronomical. A member opposite who would suggest that we are ramming through bills, that we're not listening, that we're not consulting with people, is flying in the face of the facts. Last year we passed only 10 bills. The NDP in 1994 passed 31 bills. But in 1989, your government passed 93 bills.

You want to talk about consultation. Last year, our government held 720 hours of committee hearings. The NDP's maximum, in 1994, was 689 hours. Your government never consulted more than 529 hours in a year, 200 hours less. And you dare to stand there and say we're not listening to the people, knowing full well that the bill that's before another committee in this House has just seen 100 amendments introduced by the government based purely and simply on the consultations we made with people all across this province on how we can make the landlord and tenant relationship even better.

That's what we've done. That's the reality in this province. For this member opposite to stand before us as someone who first got into politics calling for the amalgamation of the cities of Toronto and now is the chief spokesman against it, and who stands here today saying that his bill will not make Toronto work better at the same as he is the co-manager of Mel Lastman's election campaign, is the height of duplicity. It is obviously going to work, or you wouldn't be part of that campaign, sir, I submit. Either that or there's a word that starts with "h" that we're not allowed to use in this chamber.

The bottom line is that this bill provides the technical mechanisms to make sure that the framework we brought forward in Bill 103 is now translated into an effective, efficient, productive municipality that will make Toronto even better. The greatest city in the world will become greater yet.

Mr Gerretsen: We'll let the people of Ontario judge for themselves the arrogance of this government, because we certainly can in this House on almost a daily basis.

You know what's very interesting? The member for Oakwood talked about the rule changes that go into effect as of midnight tonight. I think this is very relevant, and it's something the people of Ontario should take note of and should really do something about. They should talk to their government members about this.

Let me give you an example of how the new rule changes are going to change the way in which business is done in this House. In this House an omnibus bill -- which was just introduced, by the way, without any discussion from a cabinet minister at all. This is a bill that deals with the Ambulance Act, with the building code, with the Day Nurseries Act, with health protection, with Toronto Transit Commission, with social housing funding. That's all going to be dealt with, and people will have an opportunity to speak, after the first seven hours of debate, for about 10 minutes on a major piece of legislation like this. That just is not acceptable.

First of all, of course this kind of legislation shouldn't be allowed to be introduced, which deals with about 10 different acts at the same time in a very substantive way. These are not minor, little amendments. These are major amendments in terms of who is going to pay for what. Of course we know that basically the municipalities are going to pay for all the different items mentioned in this bill.

But for the government to come in here, introduce this piece of legislation without a comment from the minister who introduces it, and then expect the members of the opposition to talk about this, after the first seven hours of debate, for 10 minutes per member is shameful. It shows the arrogance of this government and it shows the kind of attitude that this government has shown over the last two years.

I hope the people of Ontario will get upset about this. This bill that has just been introduced today is almost as bad as Bill 26. I'm sure the people of Ontario thought it couldn't get any worse, but it just did.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I too am pleased to comment on the remarks of the member for Oakwood. I believe he has set out the concerns of a number of people in his constituency and I would say in my constituency, being part of Metropolitan Toronto, at the way in which change is being forced through by this government and the speed of change. I think the megacity legislation was an example of that. The bill before us now is the transition bill that comes under that, dealing with a lot of the details of how you transfer from multiple municipalities to a single municipality.

The tone and the content of the member for Oakwood's delivery I think touches a real chord in how people feel about this, that all of this has happened so quickly, was so overwhelming. While the member for Scarborough East can cite in a very arrogant and pious way the number of people who were heard, there were thousands of people who didn't get heard and thousands and thousands who voted no, as you know, in a referendum, whose voices were never heard, because while the democratic will was expressed -- no to megacity -- the government proceeded.

I understand why the member for Oakwood chose to focus his remarks on the speed, the haste and the mistakes therefore that the government has made, the unintended consequences that we're going to be dealing with for a long time, not just in this area but in a number of areas, and the fact that the government just isn't listening. They've stopped listening to the people who are the electorate of the province. They say they have a plan, they say they have a mandate and they're going to proceed, but people out there want to have an influence on that, and the government has stopped listening. That is sad, because you have the right to govern but it is only a right with responsibility. Your responsibility is to listen, and you're not doing that.


The Acting Speaker: Response from the member for Oakwood.

Mr Colle: I want to thank my colleagues from Hamilton-Centre, Scarborough East -- although I disagree with his comments, he has the right to say them -- and certainly my colleague from Kingston and The Islands and my colleague from the city of Toronto and the Beaches for her comments.

In terms of what this bill means by itself, I think for the ordinary citizen they're not quite sure. But what the ordinary citizen is saying and what I've said is that this government will do whatever it can get away with. You couldn't have more proof of that than what has happened here today in this House. The government has introduced this downloading bill without any kind of notice, this downloading omnibus bill, and at the same time at midnight tonight they are going to dramatically change the rules of this House so that the opposition will not be able to let the public know what's going on in this House. That's basically what they've done.

For members of the Conservative Party to stand up and say, "We're listening and we had all these hours," I say the proof is in what you're doing today. That is where the proof is. You're going to change the rules to have things more your own way, to ram bills through at twice the speed you've been doing already, with even less consultation. That is what has been wrong with the whole megacity thing, because they just don't get it.

People would accept change. What the people of Toronto will never accept is being told what to do and ordered what to do. The people of Toronto will survive this government and these bills. We will make sure we survive them because we have so many good people here in this city. No matter what damage the government has done, I have faith that we'll be able to undo the damage when they get rid of them.

Ms Lankin: On a point of order, Madam Chair: I am about to take the floor and be recognized by you to speak to this Bill 148. I suspect that at that point in time the clock will show 90 minutes as the time I have available, being the first speaker from my caucus. As you know, the government has rammed through rule changes which will indicate that as of Monday, the leadoff speeches will only be 60 minutes.

Madam Chair, it is my contention, and I believe this is supportable, given that I will be commencing a speech today which will have 90 minutes on the clock, that when we return to this bill I should have whatever time remaining on the clock at 6 of the clock tonight to continue, and that the time would not be changed in accordance with the new rules. I seek your clarification on that.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, the Clerk's office obviously has been busy looking at the transition from one set of rules to another and were aware, given the circumstances of this afternoon, that this issue would likely be raised. They have consulted and have provided me with the following advice:

"The commencement clause contained in the motion to amend the standing orders, passed yesterday, provides that the amended standing orders shall apply to all proceedings in the House and the committees, including those commenced before the coming into force of the amended standing orders. As a result, the next time the order is called for resuming the adjourned debate on this bill, members' speeches will be governed by the revised time limits, despite the fact that this proceeding, second reading debate, commenced before those revisions took effect. It is my view that speeches already commenced within an adjourned proceeding are to be honoured in the amount of time originally allowed to each speaker at the outset of these speeches. Since, in addition to this debate, there are currently only four other adjourned debates on the order paper with outstanding time remaining, I believe this approach will assist the House in the transition to the new standing orders in a fair manner and without complications in this regard."

Member for Beaches-Woodbine, further debate?

Ms Lankin: Yes, continuing debate. Thank you, Madam Chair, and I thank the clerks. I am sure they are very busy scurrying through looking at a lot of issues with respect to these new rules that have been rammed through, and I appreciate your ruling with respect to that.

We are today debating Bill 148. This bill is called An Act to deal with matters relating to the establishment of the new City of Toronto. The new city of Toronto, of course, is the megacity. We've had that debate; that bill has passed. I mourn that fact significantly, but obviously with that legislation in place a certain number of transition measures must be addressed in a subsequent piece of legislation, and that's what we have before us today.

You've heard many other members speak about the way in which this government is moving, though, at breakneck speed and the unfortunate unintended consequences that happen when governments do that. I want to give the public a sense of the breadth of this bill, because by its title it doesn't really explain much to you. It's an act to deal with matters relating to the establishment of the new city. Where is the city hall going to be? There are some things like that which you might think are relatively minor, but think of the fact that you have a number of municipalities being amalgamated: their city councils being done away with, their planning boards being done away with, their library boards being done away with, their public health boards being done away with, their fire departments -- I could go on and on. Obviously there is a lot of complexity to this.

I say to the member for Scarborough East, you can read your papers and you can chirp in all you want. I'm attempting to address in a very serious manner the fact that there is complexity to a transition from a number of municipalities to one, particularly the size of the new megacity, the new city of Toronto. In that complexity, I suggest to you that if you don't take the time to listen to people with respect to the details contained in this bill, you will find yourselves making some mistakes. Governments do need to have the check of the people out there who are involved in the delivery of services or in the operation of certain aspects that are contained within any bill to know whether or not they got it right. Because it doesn't matter the political stripe of the government; you rely very heavily on the work that is done within the ministries that is provided to you, and very good people who do that work, but mistakes do happen.

The unintended consequences of certain actions require a system in which there is debate, in which there is exposure, in which there is an understanding in depth of what is being proposed in terms of changes and there is a mechanism, obviously, through amendments to correct that before it's implemented.

If you don't give the process a sufficient time and effort, and if you don't clearly listen to people, which I would say the government has gotten into a bit of a habit of -- perhaps I can understand in terms of psychology. If you're criticized so much all the time, you start not to listen. But it is dangerous, particularly when you're dealing with a bill of such technical complexity.

I want to give people a sense and understanding of how broad this bill is in terms of the issues that are being dealt with. I'm just going to go through the contents in part I of the bill. It deals with definitions. That's pretty normal. Up front in a bill it sets out the definitions of some of the terms you would find contained in the bill. Then it talks about delegation of powers that the council has. Then there's a whole section that has 10 different parts to it, quite lengthy and complex, that deals with pensions and benefits. So here's the first area.

Think about amalgamating a number of municipalities. There are employees of those municipalities, people who have salaries, who have benefit plans in terms of their long-term life insurance or their supplementary health insurance or dental benefit plans or whatever, and who have pensions. In some cases there are some similarities in municipalities. In pensions, for example, most of them belong to the Ontario municipal employees, OMERS, retirement plan. With respect to benefits, however, there are a lot of differences. So these employees all have to be merged together.

We know we'll be dealing next week with Bill 136 about how the government is going to bring down its heavy hammer on the heads of workers in order to force this amalgamation of their contracts and give outside people who have no background or experience in labour relations and dispute resolution in the public sector the ability to cherry-pick among contracts and to impose certain conditions and to take away long-and-hard-fought-for and hard-won improvements in working conditions or things like job security. We'll be debating that next week.


You can see that under the pensions and benefits area, we have to talk about how the plans that exist now are continued; how they can be amended in terms of who has the power to amend the bylaws of these pensions once they are amalgamated; the local boards, who now becomes the board of the pension and how the local boards relate to the central board; the pension contributions, the rates of that; the corporate status of the plan and the fund; the right to transfer between plans; the right to elect, how you preserve that right to elect options within the plans; plans other than OMERS, because there are some municipal employees -- a smaller number when you look province-wide, but here in Metro, there are some who are in plans that are different from OMERS, separate pension plans; the contribution to pensions of craft tradespersons, because craft councils have their own different setup. There's the Toronto fire department's superannuation and benefit fund, which is separate from OMERS, the supplementary pensions, council members' pensions. It's a whole section on this, very complex.

If you are an elected member or an employee of a city in the current municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, soon to be the new megacity City of Toronto, you need to know what's in this bill in terms of how it affects the pensions, your pension plan and your benefit plan, how it will be amalgamated, what rights you will retain and what rights you may be losing. You need to know about this. You need to have time to understand it, to perhaps get some advice, and if you have a concern, to be able to come forward to the government, to the committee, and to make representation on that.

Part II of the bill deals with water and sewage works. It has five or six sections to it and it deals with existing agreements of sewage and land drainage and how those are continued or not continued or amended in the future. It deals with contract supply of water to other municipalities, where one municipality has a water source and sells its services to another municipality. It deals with allowing municipalities to set the rates, the fees, to allow people to discharge into the sewage system, and how that will vary when you have councils that have very different approaches based on whether or not they were a council that was less environmentally concerned and more development concerned. There are very significant differentials that could have been in place with respect to those rates. It deals with how that gets merged.

Where do the people have an opportunity to have input into that, to suggest that perhaps that shouldn't be, in a transition period, the responsibility of a new council? Maybe the differentials should be maintained or an environmental best practice be maintained, that in other municipalities the council only has the ability in the amalgamation to bring the other bylaws or the other rate charges up to the environmental best practice.

I suppose in debate of this bill we could have that discussion, so I say to you, if you are an environmentalist, if you are a person concerned about development and accessibility of water and sewage treatment and how that is going to be paid for, how we're going to charge an environmental levy for discharge into the system, then you should be concerned about this bill. You should get this bill, understand what those implications are, understand what powers the new council will or won't have, and you should make representation to this committee if you feel this needs to be amended.

Part III deals with highways, controlled access roads, allowing the new megacity to designate roads that are controlled access. It allows them now to set the bylaws with respect to street vending. That's an interesting one, because communities and neighbourhoods have very different standards with respect to that. I know, living in the Beaches, an area that attracts a lot of people into our community, we don't have a lot of street vending, because we have a very well-developed boutique shopping, specialty shopping business sector that has over the years sought to improve itself to serve the tourist who comes into this very special area of our city. However, if you think about downtown waterfront areas near the SkyDome, for example, near Ontario Place, a number of areas down there, you will see that there are many more street vendors, because there is a large volume of people walking back and forth and not as much in terms of restaurant or storefront operations. So different neighbourhoods have developed different approaches to this.

You might say, "Okay, that won't change," but let me suggest to you that it's not just different neighbourhoods. Different cities have different approaches. The borough of East York is an area that is quite different -- although I actually live just blocks from the boundary between the city of Toronto and the borough of East York, it is very different, significantly different from the area in which I live with respect to issues like the use of street vendors. The new megacity is going to make those bylaws. Well, what about the approach that already existed in that neighbourhood? Is there a way to preserve that? If you are concerned about that, you should be reading this and making presentations with respect to this so that you understand how this bill is going to affect your own community.

Part IV is transportation. This is where there are definitions of the TTC. Well, isn't this interesting? Think about this. The TTC was already Metro, right? It's not changing in terms of who has jurisdiction. Within a week or so we're going to be talking about the omnibus legislation that was tabled today in this House with respect to the government's downloading and what that means in terms of a change in the operation of TTC and GO Transit and all of that, but the megacity legislation per se didn't change the operation of the Toronto Transit Commission.

However, in the transition there are some things that are quite technical and that nobody would have an objection to, like redefining the board. The board is now sort of the board of the city of Toronto transit commission rather than the Metropolitan Toronto transit commission. There are some things like that that are pretty straightforward.

But it does deal with the issues of assets and liabilities of the TTC, of the pension fund society, of the sick benefit plan; with general functions of the TTC; with city contributions, capital and operating costs, which is a big one in terms of that relationship. As I said, that will be affected also by the downloading legislation, but that's separate.


Ms Lankin: I'm not sure why the minister is chirping away here. All I'm doing is explaining what's in the bill.


Ms Lankin: And there goes the member for Scarborough East again. Go back to your papers or contribute something meaningful.

The Toronto Islands ferry, bus services, street railway company, all of that.

If you are an employee of the TTC, as I said earlier, or if you are an employee of a municipality or whatever, you may want to understand whether any of the changes under the pensions and benefits will affect you. If you're an employee of a municipality, there likely will be changes; the TTC perhaps not, because they have been separate in the past. But this is an area that you will want to examine just to understand how the bill affects you, and you'll want to come forward if you think there are concerns and make presentations.

Let me go on. Part V, police, is a very short section. It actually deals with the composition of the board. I think there is a technical provision in there where it says there is some deeming to go on here. It deems that the polices services board has made application under the Police Services Act for a change in composition of the board, and the Lieutenant Governor in Council is deemed to have approved it. It doesn't explain exactly what that means. I suspect it's to allow the new council to set up their own police services board and its composition and perhaps the number, and to leave the power with the new council. It's not very clear in the legislation that this would be the effect. That's something on which I hope at some point we might have an opportunity for questions and answers, to get a response on whether that is in fact what that section means.


Part VI, Land use planning: This one I actually like. This is very important. It continues existing official plans, so the official plans for the city of Toronto, the city of Etobicoke, Scarborough etc continue until such time as they are amended by the new megacity council. That's important, because again the various cities have taken very different approaches to land use. I am going to be fascinated to watch how we will bring about some symmetry to this -- not symmetry. In fact, I want the exact opposite. I want the eventual official plan to recognize the differences in approaches, because the downtown inner core is very different from how some of Scarborough has developed or how North York has developed.

Mr Gilchrist: I expect the council will soon figure that out.

Ms Lankin: Again, the member for Scarborough East chirps away. Do you not think it's important to allow people out there to know what's in the bill? Your minister hasn't gone through it. This is the first opportunity for people to understand.

Mr Gilchrist: It's on the Internet.

Ms Lankin: He says it's on the Internet. Do you know what? There are some constituents in my riding who don't have access to the Internet. And do you know what? They watch the legislative channel to hear MPPs debate bills and to talk about what's in a bill. You just spent 10 minutes talking about someone and complaining that they weren't talking about the bill. You were chirping away for 10 minutes, and chirping is what you do regularly in this House. I'm talking about what's in the bill, so maybe you could sit there, go back to your business and just allow us to go on and have a discussion here.

Let me go on in terms of what else is in this bill. The health and welfare section --


The Acting Speaker: Member for Scarborough East, the member for Beaches-Woodbine has the floor.

Ms Lankin: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Part VII of the bill, health and welfare: This is with respect to boards of health and it has a lot to do with dissolution of existing boards, the creation of new boards and a change in the way in which public health is administered. It deals with how those boards have governance over things like public hospitals, their relationship with that; homes for the aged, grants to homes for the aged for elder care; vesting and distribution of trust funds with respect to these homes; payments re the county of York home -- this is a particular agreement that's in place where the county of York, which is outside the new megacity, the Metro area, but has residents from this area -- there is a reciprocal or a payment agreement, so it talks about that; special welfare assistance; a number of things such as the Regent Park South nursery school. There are some anomalies under health and welfare that have to be continued or dealt with here.

One of the things I think we need to be very concerned about is later on in the bill there's a section dealing with members of municipal bodies. In that section we have the power to dissolve a number of existing municipal bodies. I'm just trying to find the reference to that section. Let me give you an example: the library boards, the historical boards, various planning bodies, and boards of health, as I mentioned.

I'm concerned about boards of health. We've had much debate in this House around things like Wellesley Hospital and the importance of having an urban health care plan and understanding the very different needs, urban health care needs, when you have high-density and in particular low-income areas, the impact of that on people's health, the particular kinds of treatments that are needed, particularly the kinds of resources that are needed. A number of years ago I was chair of the eastern health area of the Toronto board of health. The old city of Toronto had divided the city up into a number of regions and had local community people involved on area health boards which then the chair of fed into being part of the overall board of health, and there were reports back and forth. It was a very effective way to ensure that neighbourhoods were being addressed.

Not all boards of health within Metropolitan Toronto, the municipalities, operate on that basis. But not all of them have the same kind of high-density, low-income, inner-city urban needs that the city of Toronto board of health did. There are some other areas -- I'm not disputing that -- in the Metropolitan Toronto area, but the thing is that they've developed very different ways, and I'm proud of the work that the board of health of the city of Toronto has done.

I'm also proud of some of the incredible work that has been done in the borough of East York. For example, their medical officer of health and the public health unit there have embarked upon a heart healthy campaign. It's a huge campaign. It's designed to reach out to the people who live in that area in a very effective way. One of the reasons for that is the extraordinarily high population of senior citizens who live in that area. Their programs have been designed to meet the local health needs of the people. It's based on population health needs.

What happens to that kind of sensitivity to the local issues with an amalgamation? Why does the government feel it is necessary to dissolve public health boards and to amalgamate them? Why couldn't we, like we had the community councils, after a great furore in the megacity debate, a long furore -- not a long debate, a long furore -- in these chambers, the government finally moved an amendment to their bill to create community councils based on the boundaries of the old municipalities. They said this was their attempt to deal with the concerns that had been raised about the local constituency concerns and the culture and differences in the different cities. I think it doesn't replace local governance in the way we had it at all, but it was an attempt on the part of government to deal with that concern.

I think actually local health boards should have been treated similarly. Why could they not have been left under the purview of the councils? Why could they not have had some sense of the delivery programs that have been developed, which are very specific from region to region, municipality to municipality within Metro? Why could those not have been left in place?

This bill essentially says they won't be. If you're concerned about the delivery of public health in your municipality as it stands now, if you think there perhaps need to be some changes to how the government has proposed to dissolve those boards, then you'll want to get a copy of this. You'll want to read it and understand the implications. You'll want to have some time to talk to people in the public health field to see if they think they can work through this, if it can be accomplished in a way different than having to dissolve the boards, or even with the boards dissolved, can we still fund regional offices, is there a way to accomplish the goal without changing the government's proposal? Those sorts of things you'll want to have time to do and come forward and to make presentations before the committee. I don't know all the answers to that yet. I have some significant concerns in that area.

Part VIII deals with parks and recreation, bylaws around the sale of liquor in certain parks. Let me tell you, I've got one of them, a city park down along the waterfront. This is in the Beaches area. There is sale of liquor there. There's a boardwalk café some of you may know. There's a very nice restaurant. Let me pitch for that part of the city. There are also some outlets, vending -- there's only one person who has a contract or whatever to vend in that whole park and a long interesting story as to how that came about. But this section deals with that.

I know that has been an issue of huge debate within my community and with other communities about whether or not there should be any commercial sales within a public park, a city park. If you've got concerns about that or you think that issue should be addressed or not continued or the provincial government should set some uniform standards on this, you'll want to come and make representation under this section of the act.

There are a few different things here that are, again, very technical and understandable, such as the agreement with the Guild Inn -- people may not know that Metro has a relationship in terms of the ownership of the Guild Inn -- and Exhibition Place, a relationship there. Although it is interesting, this does continue the board but it also talks about former employees of the association of the Exhibition Stadium Corp. If you're a former employee, you may want to address that.

The Chair is indicating to me that it's almost 6 of the clock. I want to indicate that I've got to part VIII, this is just from the index, in detailing the sorts of things that this bill deals with. There are 18 sections. I'll have plenty of time when we resume debate on this to go through the rest of it.

The bottom line that I want to stress, just in closing this debate for today, is that this bill is likely, given indications we've had from the government House leader, to be forced through quick reading and time allocation over the next week and then out to committee within a week or two. If any of the areas that I've touched on so far are areas that are of concern to you, that you want to have input into, you need the bill now, you need to get your name in to come to committee, you need the time to be able to reflect and understand what changes or concerns you have and bring that forth to us here so that debate can take place in committee.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): I have the weekly business statement.

Pursuant to standing 55, I wish to indicate the business for the week of August 25, 1997.

On Monday, August 25, during the afternoon sitting, the House will begin second reading of Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act.

On Tuesday, August 26, we hope to resume debate on second reading of Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act, and resume second reading debate on Bill 148, the City of Toronto Act, 1997 (No. 2).

On Wednesday, August 27, the House hopes to resume debate on second reading of Bill 148, the City of Toronto Act, 1997 (No. 2), and resume second reading debate on Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act.

Finally, on Thursday, August 28, we would like to resume second reading of Bill 142, the Social Assistance Reform Act.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs Marion Boyd): It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until Monday, August 25, at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1800.