36th Parliament, 1st Session

L221 - Thu 28 Aug 1997 / Jeu 28 Aoû 1997

















































The House met at 1001.




Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I move that in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario should ensure that the government of Ontario send to Ontario health insurance plan account holders a statement summarizing the monthly activity in their respective account each month there is account activity, and the statements indicate the expense of the provided health care service, the amount covered by the Ontario health insurance plan and the name of the health care worker who provided the service.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i), the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Ford: I'm pleased to stand in this chamber today to advocate for changes in the way billings are managed in the Ontario health insurance plan. I'm also pleased because this is an opportunity for all members in this chamber to make a positive contribution towards our health care system.

As members of this Legislature, we all have issues which are most important to us for a variety of reasons. The resolution I present before us today is one which affects everyone in Ontario and is an opportunity to improve one of the finest health care systems in the world.

This government wants Ontario's health care system to continue to have a positive international reputation. In fact, the financial allocation for health care in the recent provincial budget is the highest in Ontario's history. This obviously sends a clear message that this government is fully committed to making sure all patients receive the best care possible.

But I ask myself, what can I do to make our health care system in Ontario more accountable to the taxpayers of this province and preserve it for future generations?

Having served on a hospital board for a significant period, I'm quite familiar with the working environment of the health care community. This environment is one that contains a lot of dedicated professionals concerned about the wellbeing of others. Their time and determination to find solutions to health care concerns is appreciated by thousands of people every day. It is to these dedicated professionals and the people of Ontario to whom I dedicate this resolution.

To begin my remarks, I thought I would start off with a review of how recent governments have attempted to grasp control of accountability within OHIP, only to let it slip out of their fingers.

In 1986, with good intentions, the Liberal government approved the replacement of the Ontario health insurance plan family-based registration system with an individual-based registration system. However, only one year later, the 1987 auditor's report found that there were 24.7 million OHIP subscribers in the province, almost triple the province's population of nine million, and that the computer system was outmoded.

In January 1990, final approval was given for the universal registration project at an estimated cost of $31.5 million and it began a few months later by having plastic health cards issued. Not surprisingly, cost increases in the registration project developed and when the NDP came into government, they approved an additional $6 million to cover costs.

After reviewing the matter again, the Provincial Auditor produced another report in 1992 which stated, "In the ministry's bid to get the new system in place as quickly as possible, they intentionally limited eligibility and accuracy verification."

There was already confusion in the NDP government because, as of January 1993, there were 12.2 million health cards provided, while 1.4 million of them were ineligible.

A year later, the NDP announced a new photo system at a cost of $90 million for three years and a $19-million annual cost every year thereafter. However, ministry sources put the price of the registration project at $189 million with annual costs of $25.5 million in subsequent years.

The public's blood continued to boil as their frustration grew and millions of dollars in taxpayers' money continued to be tossed away. They had every reason to be upset. The matter of OHIP accountability was obviously being mismanaged.

At election time in 1990, the Liberals wanted their health card system in place quickly as an electioneering tool and were willing to sacrifice the necessary anti-fraud and verification procedures to do it. In the haste to be seen to be taking action on the problem during the 1990 campaign, the Liberals decided to use the existing imperfect database to issue new health cards rather than reinvesting the time and money to improve the database.

Even during the 1995 provincial election, the Liberals promised to design a health card system that eliminated fraud and abuse, but provided no specifics on how it would be done. At that same time, the NDP maintained their health card system would solve fraud and abuse problems, while security experts said it alone would not be enough to eliminate fraud.

After health card mismanagement by two governments, the time of insensibility has come to an end. It's time to be aggressive about rooting out health card fraud so that the money saved can be reinvested towards front-line services for patients.

I know the Minister of Health is committed to seeing results on this very problem. Already there's evidence of that. In fact, since the people of Ontario elected us, the minister has instituted measures to obtain the results the public deserves.

Within six months of taking office, the ministry's computer network was upgraded to weed out and cancel duplicate health cards. The government created a 1-800 fraud line to report any instances of health care fraud. Health card verification technology has been further utilized and close to 700,000 health cards are verified each month. A former commissioner with the RCMP was hired by the ministry to assist in eliminating fraud in the health care system.

The benefits from these initiatives will allow us to reinvest savings towards front-line services. For this reason, I have presented a resolution which compliments the minister's efforts and will allow taxpayers to play a part in the effort to make our health care system even stronger.

Voting against this regulation will restrict front-line services from receiving additional funding that would otherwise have been lost to fraud. Essentially, it's like putting a brick wall in front of an ailing person.

I know all members of this chamber want everyone in Ontario to have a healthy future. For this reason, I encourage all of you to vote in favour of this resolution.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I commend the member for Etobicoke-Humber on bringing this resolution forward for debate this morning. But let's go back to take a look at what is actually happening today in health care and the mess that has been created over the past two short years by this government, in terms of health care. There are many aspects of health care that I would think the member might have wanted to speak on today, might have wanted to bring to the attention of the health minister, his cabinet colleagues and his colleagues in the government caucus.

We have to remember that health care in our province is probably one of our proudest achievements, something governments in the past have worked on to develop, to make it that, a very proud achievement of government. But now we have a resolution coming forward based on mistrust. He's basing the resolution on the mistrust of not only the patients but the health care workers, the medical professionals that we depend on every day. It is not, by any means, common sense or revolutionary when we come forward with a resolution based on mistrust of those people out there on the front lines, of the patients who use what, again, I consider one of the greatest achievements in this province, our health care system. For those people who are working in it, I feel the member has actually said that we now mistrust that profession.

When we talk about the health care system in Ontario, I just said that in the past two years we've seen it deteriorate to a point where it is scary for some of the people that have to make use of it. I think of a woman here in Toronto who had to deliver her baby behind a counter. We're not talking about some Third World country; we're talking about right here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

To go back to the member's resolution, why isn't he talking about some of these deficiencies, some of the things that are happening, the insecurities, the worries patients have?

My constituents have to travel to receive much of their health care, whether it be into another province, into Winnipeg, or whether it be some five or six hours to Thunder Bay. A lot of that travel is done in very adverse weather conditions. I thought the member would be speaking a little more about how we can get health care to patients where they need it, when they need it.

I think we have an obligation to make sure that the health care system does work. As I've indicated, it's one of our greatest assets, something that members on all sides of the House are very proud of in terms of achievement. But I don't feel that coming at the health care system and those who use it in this way is going to be beneficial to many. Changes need to be made, but change has come about, and we can't really go ahead with changes if they're going to be destructive. I feel this resolution is being destructive in that it puts much mistrust into our system.

When we listen carefully to the resolution put forward this morning, we hear the voice of the government's real leader. This is actually a resolution that I would have expected from somebody like Preston Manning of the Reform Party. If you take a close look at the wording, it very much sounds like Preston Manning speaking to us here this morning, a resolution based on mistrust of not only the people who receive it but the health care givers.

I think of our health care system as being one of the greatest national treasures we have. It's a defining element of our society, one we must certainly protect. What the member is doing here is putting much mistrust into that system. Because of that system we have a quality of life here in Ontario which is the best in the world, again something that we on all sides should be very proud of, the medicare we've developed here in Ontario and Canada.

Even though we have to take a look at moving ahead in some areas, there are many other areas this member could have looked at in terms of ensuring a good health care system in our province. He might have wanted to look at some of the crises being created by his Minister of Health at the present time, the unnecessary crises being created, to look at how we could maybe have averted or brought solutions to some of those.

A system to bill patients, to show them their billings, when we have line-ups in emergency rooms is not something I would have considered a priority of any member in this House. Some of my constituents face many crises in terms of the health care system, whether it has been travelling outside of the region, whether it has been the ability to gain access to front-line health care when they actually need it in our local institution. These are things my constituents face every day. Seeing their bills at the end of the month is really not a priority to them at this time.

As I have indicated, the member's resolution is worth review, but I think he should have taken a little closer look at how we could have cleaned up some of the mess that has been created in our health care system today.

Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I commend the member Mr Ford for bringing in this resolution. I assume he brings it in in the form of a resolution as opposed to a private member's bill because of the rules surrounding private members' bills, in that they're not allowed to spend government money. This resolution of course would cost money. Unless I missed it, and I tried to listen to Mr Ford, I didn't hear him tell us how much it would cost to implement this system.

I see nothing wrong in principle with this system. As a matter of fact, I can recall, in another life, recommending to another health minister that we do something like this to try and make people understand how much they themselves were costing the system -- not that that would mean it was illegitimate but that there would be a sense of accountability, that people themselves would say, "I cost the system so much this month," and I think some people would be very surprised. Also, of course, it would put an element of accountability back on the person delivering the service, such as the doctor. I thought it was not a bad thing to have that happen.

But the response I got from health ministers was that, no, it's too complicated and, second, that the medical profession would go berserk if you imposed this upon them, because they would have to be part of this exercise -- presumably it wouldn't be done without their cooperation and without their agreement -- and they would never agree to that. I don't know that for sure, but I must say that I personally don't think it's such a bad thing to have this degree of accountability in the system, but we've got to get the doctors on side.

It would be very simple, it seems to me, for each doctor at the end of the month, or quarterly, if you wish --I don't really care -- to send to their patients what services they had provided. That would be a very simple form of auditing if the Ontario government wanted to audit that. They could at any point do a random audit to determine whether what had been delivered was what the doctor had billed OHIP for. I'm not imputing motives here to the doctors, but it seems to me that it's a caution that the system needs. Right now, there are very few checks and balances on how the doctors bill the system, and I think this would not be an entirely bad thing.


I must say, though, I was a bit taken aback by the very partisan nature of the member's remarks when he's trying to get support for a private member's resolution. I remember that the Liberals had trouble with the health card and we had trouble with the health card. When we were developing a new card, I was always taken aback by how expensive these cards were, because we were trying to develop a smart card that would have all sorts of information encoded in it. I'm not quarrelling with Mr Ford's numbers. I've forgotten some of them specifically, but I think he's done his research well in that those probably are the correct numbers, of $129 million to set it up, I think he said, and then $25 million per annum to keep it going. Those are very high numbers.

I can remember the present Minister of Health, Mr Jim Wilson, who was then the health critic for the third party, the PCs, the Tories, on his feet ranting and raving as only Jim Wilson can rant and rave, and he ranted and raved in opposition much more dramatically and with much more flair than he ever has done in government. I miss that part of Jim Wilson, but nevertheless I think his health is probably better because of it. He was on his feet in this Legislature claiming that the existing health cards, because of the element of fraud, were costing the taxpayers of this province something like $700 million a year. It was as high as that. Guess what? Here we are in the third year of the Tories' mandate and we've got the same cards. Isn't that irresponsible on the part of the health minister, to say one day that the system is costing fraud of up to $700 million a year and then not do anything about it for over two years? I don't know where his head is at. Well, I'm afraid to guess.

Mr Ford: What about the 1-800 number?

Mr Laughren: You can say that setting up a 1-800 number and hiring a retired Mountie is going to solve the problem. Well, excuse me. I've seen the Mounties in operation and I'm not impressed.


Mr Laughren: I'm not impressed by the RCMP. I don't care what the member opposite says, I've seen them in operation for too long. If you think that hiring an out-to-pasture RCMP officer and setting up a 1-800 number is going to solve $700 million worth of fraud -- the minister said that the problem was not that; the problem was the cards. That's what he said. He said the problem was the cards. Where are the new smart cards? I don't see them anywhere.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): The fingerprints are coming.

Mr Laughren: Yes, they'll fingerprint everybody in the province and that'll solve the problem.

I must say that I come to this debate not closed-minded about it, because I think there does need to be more accountability in the system, but I think it's also important to hold the present Minister of Health accountable for what he said when he was in opposition and what he has not done now that he's in government. That's what's lacking in this debate at this point.

I think Mr Ford's intentions are correct, but I don't think the equation is complete without him telling us how much this is going to cost, because that's the argument you'll get. If you go to the Minister of Health or the Minister of Finance and say, "This is what we want to do," they will come back at you very quickly and tell you how much it costs, and perhaps they'll use the argument as well that "No, no, this would upset the medical profession."

It seems to me you've given the medical profession enough of a raise that they should swallow hard and accept something like this. That's what they should do. Now's the time to go after them. They should be happy. They should be falling down on their knees in gratitude for the way you've treated them, so maybe this is the time to say to them, "Now it's time for you to deliver some more accountability in the system." It shouldn't be only the long-suffering taxpayer who provides accountability and pays for it. That should be part of the cost of operating a medical office.

Why shouldn't it be? If I go and get my car fixed and I don't have to pay the mechanic that day, you can be sure that at the end of the month I'll get a bill from him telling me what it is I owe him and what service he provided for that money. When I go to my doctor I give him my health card and that's the end of it. I happen to believe that the doctors with whom I deal have been very honest and very professional, but who knows? I don't know what bills are sent in to OHIP and nobody else does either. All I know is that OHIP pays them.

I remember a number of years ago going into the OHIP office in Sudbury, when there used to be an OHIP office there, and saying, "How do you know if a doctor is overbilling the system?" This was 20 years ago. They said to me, "We have a system that if they bill more than $10,000 a month we do a quickie audit." That's 20 years ago; that would be the equivalent of $30,000 or $40,000 a month now, I presume. That's not very much of an audit on the system. I think it's time something is done. I think it's time the medical profession comes to grips with this, because I think they at least owe the system that much.

I think I will support this resolution. I want to do a little more thinking about it in the next hour, but I think I will support this resolution because it does bring some accountability into the system. I regret the tone of some of the words of Mr Ford, but I don't question at all his motivation or the reason he has brought this forward. I thought he took some cheap shots in his remarks that were unnecessary, but I've been known to do the same thing so I should hardly pass judgement on Mr Ford.

As I say, the jury's still out with me, but I've got an opportunity now to listen to some of the comments from the other members. I will decide at 12 o'clock whether I'm going to support Mr Ford's resolution.

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I'll keep my remarks very short, very brief, not because of any lack of interest in this resolution but because it's so straightforward. I don't think it takes any philosophy to figure out that this resolution makes sense. This resolution, if adopted as a policy, would serve as both an educational tool and an additional safeguard against health fraud.

First, it would give all Ontarians a better idea of how their tax dollars are being spent. In that sense I consider this resolution to be a matter of freedom of information as well. I don't buy the criticism that's just been expressed that providing an expense statement is a scheme to put pressure on sick people not to visit their doctor or pressure on the system itself. Perhaps this would prevent an otherwise healthy person who has a stuffy nose from visiting the hospital emergency some Sunday afternoon or Sunday morning -- I have no problem with that -- but if someone truly needs to see the doctor, I doubt they change their mind because of any guilt regarding how much it costs the system.

Although many Ontarians have visits to the dentist covered by benefit packages -- I have one, and I get the expense statements; they are made for me and all the patients -- to my knowledge this has not prevented anyone from making a dental appointment. It certainly did not do that to me. Nor would a similar statement of account of health care have any effect whatsoever.

Everybody already knows that health care is not free. We all pay for it through our taxes and it is there for us to use. However, by making it widely known what the exact costs of health services are, expense statements would lead to more informed public debate when it comes to health care. More important to me, it would be empowering every individual to effectively stand guard against health care fraud. It would also cast aside any suspicions individuals may have regarding health providers. We have all read or heard about the small number of health care providers who have billed inaccurately for services performed. Unfortunately, even one bad apple can unfairly cast a negative perception on an entire profession. But by showing patients what their health provider has billed OHIP in black and white, we can remove all doubts and ensure that the good reputation that our health providers deserve continues untarnished.

I want to commend my friend Mr Ford for introducing a long-overdue idea for debate. This resolution is a simple resolution. It's not an earth-shaking resolution. It's a commonsense resolution. It certainly has my support and I hope both sides of this assembly will vote for it.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I'm very happy to speak on this resolution. This is a matter that has been around for some time and we've had discussions about this on previous occasions.

I can recall that when I was the chairman of the public accounts committee and we dealt with health care fraud in the early 1990s, that question was uppermost in people's minds. There was a great deal of discussion around having a proper information system. To accomplish that we needed an integrated health care system, one that was able to tie someone receiving health care in a hospital to what doctors were doing in their local offices, to what community health clinics were doing etc. The model just wasn't there for an information system to be effective.

What you really need to accomplish what you're suggesting -- and by the way, to be able to report all of these expenses in a monthly statement -- is a system that, in addition to having that statement, will integrate the health care that is provided right around the province. We're not quite there yet. When we introduced the health cards as the government, in the next step we were going to follow that up with an education program, and in addition to that provide an information management system.

To this day, the Ministry of Health has not come up with that type of system. As a result, you have a hodge-podge, sort of a helter-skelter approach to understanding what in fact is occurring in the health care system. You need that information system to be able to manage health care in a more comprehensive fashion so we can determine where resources should go in the future. That is lacking.

I think the member would also like to reflect on what his government is doing with respect to that. I don't believe for an instance that this government's priorities are in the right order. They have focused on -- what? -- closing hospitals. Closing hospitals to effect the kind of change we've been talking about? I don't think so. I think the priority on the part of this government should have been to manage a system that would be comprehensive, a system that would be integrated, that would allow us to manage the health care system by dedicating resources, allocating them in a proper fashion.

You need health practitioners to be involved in that. You need not just doctors, but all the health practitioners to be involved in that kind of integrated system. You need to look at the health care system in a more comprehensive way so that you have the ability then to manage the system through the information that's gathered. If you lack that information, then obviously you're not able to hold, not only the system accountable in a financial sense but accountable in terms of its effectiveness, so that proper planning can take place, so that we can plan for future allocations, future needs in the system.

The current sitting Chair also put forward some proposals at the time with respect to health cards which would have enhanced the ability of the cards to screen out fraudulent cases that were brought forward, to screen out abuse. I can recall the recommendations that the member who is sitting in the chair currently, the member for Carleton East, was making in those days, which would have made the cards far more effective as a device for screening abuse and fraud.

Again, that's part of the story. I think what this fails to recognize is that we don't have an integrated information system. We don't have a health care system. We have a series of services that are available. You would go see your family physician; you might go see a specialist; you might go to the hospital; you might go to a clinic. All of these separate venues, separate ways of accessing the system, are not tied together so that we can in fact understand what's going on.

Before we move in this direction, it would be very useful to get a full debate on what's going on in health care today, what this government is doing by way of priority to dismantle the system. It's not making the system more comprehensive; it's not integrating the services that are being provided; it's not doing any of that. What it's doing is taking away services by closing hospitals, by ensuring that there is chaos in the system and that there are gaps in services through this transitional period.

Even though we don't support the closure of hospitals, you still haven't got a way to deal with the transitional period in an effective fashion. We're seeing example after example each and every day of people being shuttled around from one hospital to another. We heard about women who were having babies in hallways because there aren't enough facilities. We heard about another situation where a man died in a hallway in a Peterborough hospital.

This is the state of health care in Ontario, and therefore we should be recognizing that the priority has to be to make sure the system is working effectively and providing the services that are necessary.


Mr Cordiano: Otherwise, I say to the backbenchers, if you're listening, you're going to pay the political price come 1999.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Niagara Falls, you're not in your seat.

Go ahead, you still have two minutes.

Mr Cordiano: My colleague was going to speak.

The Deputy Speaker: I'll have to recognize the member for Sault Ste Marie first. We'll go in rotation.

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Are we going to stop the time, Speaker?

The Deputy Speaker: Whatever time is left, you'll get it. Now I will recognize the member for Sault Ste Marie. No?

Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We lost 30 seconds on that.

The Deputy Speaker: We'll make sure that you get it. Further debate?

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I stand today in support of the resolution before the House from the member for Etobicoke-Humber. He's put a lot of thought into this because he knows how precious each dollar of health care spending is, and he knows people want to make sure it's going to the right place, for priority services for the people of Ontario, who give up some hard-earned tax dollars and want to know they're getting the best system possible for their tax dollars. That fits in exactly with what the Ministry of Health is doing with its changes, to make sure the patient gets the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

Mr Ford's resolution hits on two important fronts. First of all, it educates the taxpayer and the recipient of Canada's finest health care system about how much it costs for a particular service and, more importantly, it brings some accountability to the system so they know that dollars are actually going to the services that are brought forward to OHIP and they know the services are delivered in the best manner possible, to make sure the patients are getting the best care possible out there.

There are a number of methods I want to bring to the House's attention, and the public watching today, in terms of what the ministry has done so far and continues to do to provide education on how health care works in Ontario and, importantly too, to make sure that accountability exists, that dollars are going to the right place for the best possible system of health care in Canada and North America, and in fact with the goal of being the best health care system in the world.

If an individual wants to know how much a particular service cost, or the service they had in a particular year or a time or a place, it's rather simple to do. They can easily go through the information and privacy office and make that request, which will tell them the cost of the services they received, what's been billed to OHIP under their name. In addition, following Mr Ford's suggestions, we do mail out about 170,000 verification notices each year. The way that works is that verification notice is sent out randomly across the province and it will list a particular individual, the services that individual had, the provider of that service and the approximate cost to the taxpayer of that service. We ask that individual to say, "Yes, Tim Hudak had this particular service on this date," to verify that it was the provider who did that service, to make sure that billing through OHIP is done completely accurately and to get rid of any inaccurate billings through the OHIP system.


In fact, Ontarians care so much about how their tax dollars are spent, especially on health care, that we have an over 70% reporting rate on the verification to say, "Yes, this is a service I had," or if not, then it goes back through OHIP to distinguish what happened and to correct any inaccuracies and also to act as a deterrent, to make sure each OHIP billing, those precious health care dollars, are services delivered to the hardworking people of Ontario. It's an excellent system.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): That's good.

Mr Hudak: The member for Niagara Falls likes that system. I'm pleased to tell the member and the rest of the House that it's the goal of the ministry to double what we're doing in that area in the near future, so even more notices to verify that health care dollars are being spent at the right place, at the right time.

Furthermore, there's been some talk, starting with the member for Etobicoke-Humber, about the number of OHIP cards that were sent out by the Peterson Liberal government, a crime in term of taxpayers' money wasted by improper cards being issued to everybody, let alone Ontario residents, but going to Americans who don't pay taxes in Ontario into the system. There were cases I remember back in the Peterson government, and the member for Niagara Falls may remember this too, in terms of animals getting OHIP cards. Minister Wilson did, in opposition, speak very strongly about that, saying that health care dollars cannot be going to somebody's pony or somebody's dog. Since being in office, the minister has moved very swiftly to make sure the OHIP cards charging our system go to Ontario taxpayers and no one else -- no dogs, no horses, no people from out-of-country -- to make sure those dollars go to Ontario residents.

I'll give you some examples. Since taking office in 1995, 1.7 million people receiving new or replacement health cards have gone through very strict eligibility tests. The records are updated constantly as a result of agreements with the registrar general and Immigration Canada. We've engaged in reciprocal interprovincial agreements that notify the ministry when residents relocate to provinces outside Ontario. They would no longer be eligible to receive benefits or make claims in Ontario if they live in other provinces or countries.

We are working with the RCMP and I think they do an excellent job. I disagree strongly with the member for Nickel Belt. I've worked with the RCMP, and in my experience in having worked on the border at Canada Customs with the RCMP, I would give glowing praise to the hardworking members of the RCMP, the work they've done in Niagara. We work with them and Immigration Canada to retrieve invalid health cards.

The three measures I mentioned above have resulted, the member for Etobicoke-Humber will be glad to see, in 14,000 corrections per month to our health care records, making up for those Liberal OHIP cards that were sent out in the late 1980s -- I forget what he said; some 20 million I think was the number he quoted -- 14,000 corrections per month making up for that mistake by the previous Peterson-McGuinty government. There were way too many cards, like I said, going to all kinds of people and animals and creatures that don't pay taxes into the system.

We've also increased the number of voice-activated health card verification units in the province, to call and make sure that card belongs to whom it says it does, by over 1,300 of these machines, and 18,000 health professionals throughout Ontario now verify patients' health numbers by phone. There are now more than 2,500 Visa-type swipe units in doctors' offices, in hospitals, in labs and pharmacies to verify the accuracy of these cards. In my riding of Niagara South I've received several comments from health care professionals who say that's a great idea. At some time, being along the border, we had some people from other countries coming in with fraudulent OHIP cards and charging those dollars to the Ontario taxpayer. I certainly praise the actions of this government and the Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, in expanding that number of swipe units to verify that these cards belong to whom they say they belong and they are Ontario taxpayers and Ontario residents. That number has gone up significantly.

Let me say too that we have created a 1-800 fraud line to report to the government instances of health care fraud that are followed up very closely. For those members and those watching who may not know the number, it's 1-800-268-1154. I'd urge all members here today who are paying rapt attention to my speech, my remarks on this issue, to write that down, I would suggest, because your constituents may be calling, having heard my remarks. I say to my fellow parliamentary assistant, the member for Scarborough Centre, 1-800-268-1154. The member for Niagara Falls already has it memorized.

I think the member across, for Kenora, in his remarks didn't have any regard for getting accountancy into the system. He talked about any kinds of verifications or methods to make sure health care dollars are going to the right place as somehow developing mistrust in the system. I guess that's the same kind of attitude that caused the Peterson-McGuinty Liberals to send out whatever it was, 20-some million health cards, because they wanted to get those red and white cards out there before an election or something like that. They didn't really care whom it was going to and treated taxpayers' dollars and health care dollars without the due concern they deserve.

You can see that the attitude that you should just throw the money at the situation and not try to direct health care dollars to priority areas still exists in the Liberal Party today when you hear the remarks from the member for Kenora, who doesn't seem at all to apologize for the dreadful waste of taxpayers' dollars that we're still making up for in Ontario today.

Every dollar saved goes into priority care services like kidney dialysis, more money into cancer care, more money into treating heart disease. In fact, the member talked about what he viewed as an important area: emergency rooms in rural and northern communities. Certainly without the actions of this minister and this government to keep open approximately 70 emergency rooms across the province that would have closed if this government had not acted, residents in those 70 communities would have gone without emergency services. But we know the priorities in the province, invested the money in those emergency rooms and kept open approximately 70 rural and northern emergency units. With the recent release of the rural and northern health care framework, the ministry has recognized, and is reinforcing the importance of, receiving health care close to home, with 24-hour access to emergency services in those communities so that they can get the care at the right place, at the right time.

At the same time Norman Inkster, an esteemed member of the RCMP and currently working with KPMG Investigation and Security Inc, has been given the ability to do a special investigation into OHIP and other types of health care fraud to make recommendations to the minister for improvement. We expect Mr Inkster's report in the coming months.

You can see clearly the difference here between the Conservatives and the Liberals. Mr Ford, the member for Etobicoke-Humber, very strongly wants to see health care dollars going to the right place at the right time. He wants to see some accountability. Compare that to the party across the floor, now in official opposition, that sent out millions of health care cards helter-skelter across the province. I don't even know, the member for Kenora, if they're going to support this resolution to bring accountability to and reinforce accountability in the system to make sure the health care dollars go to the right place at the right time. Mr Speaker, those are my remarks.

Mr Bartolucci: I am pleased to offer a few comments in the little time I have. I'd like to thank the member for Etobicoke-Humber for bringing this resolution before the House because I think he's acting in very good faith. I don't think there is anyone, regardless of what political stripe we are, who doesn't think the system needs some refining.

The concern I have, and I guess it's demonstrated best by Mr Ford's introductory remarks, what concerns me the most, is the way we continue to shut out the stakeholders in Ontario.

When I first read this resolution at the beginning of the week I said: "Gee, it makes a whole lot of sense. I wonder how much real consultation he did?" I find, during his introductory remarks, that we go back to beating up the stakeholders, beating up the people of Ontario. I think Mr Ford's resolution has some merit, but I honestly believe that the Minister of Health should be taking some direction and moving in a way that will meaningfully save money for the people of Ontario. Certainly, although the resolution is worded nicely, I think it's cumbersome. I find it almost impossible to enforce and manage without spending millions and millions of dollars.


If the Mike Harris government really wanted to change the face of health care, other than closing hospitals, or another way, a meaningful way, a way that the people of Ontario could buy into, it might want to invest some money in education and in wellness. This government is doing a miserable job of investing in the education and the wellness of the people of Ontario. This resolution does nothing for that. This resolution simply uses the big stick, the Tory big stick. It's too bad, because although there would be some merit in the Ministry of Health exploring the possibility, it would have to be managed by something that's less confrontational than this resolution indicates. That's why I won't be supporting it.

Ms Churley: I would like to take this opportunity to respond to ballot item 91, the private member's resolution by Mr Ford. I think I'm going to support it. There are a number of reasons why I'm going to support it, one being that I want to help the government members embarrass the Minister of Health. We know very well that the Minister of Health is not going to let this go through, as I am sure Mr Ford knows.

The Minister of Health, since he got into office after, as my colleague from --

Mr Laughren: Nickel Belt.

Ms Churley: Nickel Belt, thank you. How could I forget, especially as I sit in the chair and know all the members' seats very well?

The member for Nickel Belt said earlier that the present Minister of Health used to sit right over here, and I used to sit over there in the government benches as a cabinet minister and watch the present Minister of Health get absolutely red in the face in rage about the things our government was doing or not doing in health care. He would go on and on. His big issue was fraud in the health care system. He continually and repeatedly ranted and raved about that.

What has he done since he got into government? A 1-800 number, as my friend from Nickel Belt has already said. We've got a 1-800 number and a retired Mountie running some I think small and ineffective -- it's just a PR method, actually. I'm not going to be as hard on the RCMP as my friend from Nickel Belt is, because I have a brother in the RCMP and I'm very proud of his work.

Mr Laughren: He's not out to pasture.

Ms Churley: He's not out to pasture yet, but probably he soon will be.

Seriously, I believe it was incumbent on this Minister of Health to look at doing this sort of thing. I know it's not going to pass, because we're talking about I'm sure huge levels of bureaucracy and millions and millions of dollars to run such a system. We have to get real here. We know what the Minister of Health is going to do. He's not going to support this.

I had an all-party resolution passed here which actually concerns the Minister of Health and the Minister of Environment which members from the Conservative Party supported: the phase-out of carcinogens or suspected carcinogens which cause cancer, which is a preventive form of medicine that would save untold agony and the health care system millions of dollars down the road. The Minister of Health won't even meet with me to talk about it. So we know where this is going. I think it's a good message to send to people, however, that there is concern about the lack of accountability in the health care system.

I've always been concerned about governments that go big time after poor people to deal with fraud. That's the way it's been with this government: "Let's root out the evil; let's root out the fraud in the welfare system," for instance. I have no objection to that. When we were in government we certainly looked for fraud in that system as well. Study after study shows that fraud within the welfare system is actually very low, yet we go after it with a sledgehammer, this government in particular. Yet when we talk about the amount of money that is spent in the health care system, what has the minister done but come forward with this bogus little operation that really is not going to make very much difference, if any at all?

I don't support fraud in any public system. We need to spend money and put resources into weeding out fraud, and because there's such a lack of accountability within the health care system, the medicare system, it's important that we spend more resources and that the Minister of Health get behind this. I don't think this is going to work for a variety of reasons. The minister cannot agree, and I guess I would understand that, to spending that amount of money. But I think the minister should sit down with Mr Ford, who has obviously done some research here, and see if some system can be worked out that wouldn't be so expensive and cumbersome so that there is more accountability in the health care system. I don't think it's realistic to think that every doctor in this province is going to send out an account to all of his or her patients every month, but notwithstanding whether this resolution passes, the minister is not going to let it go anywhere anyway.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Humber, you have two minutes.

Mr Ford: Listening to the opposition across the floor, I understand some of the principles they're talking about, but I put my question to everybody here in the House. They say there's not that much fraud in a lot of things. In our banking system, for instance, there is not that number of bank robberies for the amount of business they do. If you were a civilian walking along the street and you saw a bank being held up, I will ask you the same thing: Would you as a citizen call the police or just ignore it?

One of our fellow members talked about the issues. The issues is this: We are here as members of the Parliament in this House to represent the public. That is our duty, to represent the public, not to represent our own self-interests. That is why they hired us, to represent them at the best service and at the most economical cost to them.

Sometimes, as members of this House, we have a little lapse of memory: The days we were running for office, the happy day we were elected to office and the days we serve our constituents. To me, that's what I'm doing here. I'm trying to find ways and means of serving our constituents, regardless of what stripe, what colour or what political background, so that we can service them.

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



Mr Danford moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 150, An Act proclaiming United Empire Loyalists' Day / Projet de loi 150, Loi proclamant le jour des Loyalistes de l'Empire-Uni.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i), you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): It is indeed a pleasure for me to move second reading of Bill 150, An Act proclaiming United Empire Loyalists' Day.

I would like to begin by thanking Bernice Flett of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada for her help in drafting this bill. Bernice is in the gallery today, along with so many other members of her association. Other guests as well are members of the Monarchist League of Canada; members of the Ontario Black History Society; representatives of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte; and representatives of the Queen's York Rangers, a militia regiment led by Ontario's first Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Graves Simcoe. I would also like to thank the members of the King's Royal Regiment of New York for escorting me to the chamber this morning.

The Loyalist heritage is an important part of Ontario's history. As I am sure members will know, the original Loyalists were groups of American citizens who left America after the United States gained their independence, and they came for many reasons. Some were soldiers who settled here; some were persecuted for remaining loyal to the crown; yet others came because they were unable to fight because of their religious beliefs.

Loyalists were forced to leave the United States because of their wish to remain loyal to the crown. It was common practice to be persecuted for remaining loyal before and after the War of Independence. Loyalists at times were tarred and feathered and had other acts committed against them, not just by mobs, mind you, but by unjust laws as well. In 1776, the Provincial Congress of New York went so far as to order the purchase of all the pitch and tar necessary for the public's use and safety. Mr Speaker, I suggest to you that they did not do this to start a public roofing project.

After the Declaration of Independence in 1776, loyalty to the crown became grounds for treason. Failure to take an oath of loyalty to the state in which you lived meant possible imprisonment, confiscation of property, banishment and, yes, even death. If you did not take the oath, you became an outlaw. If you were a lawyer, doctor or other professional you could not practise. You could not be an executor of an estate, or if your neighbour owed you money, you had no redress.

The Continental Congress, in a move to bolster their treasury, recommended to the states that they appropriate the property of residents who had forfeited "the right to protection of the revolutionary government." It was recommended that states invest the proceeds of the land sales in continental loan certificates. In other words, proceeds from the sale of confiscated lands were to fund the war effort against the crown. As Loyalists began leaving the 13 colonies during the revolutionary war, large sums of money from the sale of confiscated Loyalist properties began to find their way into state treasuries. Loyalists felt they had no choice but to leave the country.

The Loyalists were Canada's first multicultural immigration. They were not just British Tories who benefited from the patronage of the crown. French Protestants, German pacifists, African-Americans, they were all part of the Loyalist migration. As a matter of fact, one of the largest groups of Loyalists was the Iroquois Confederacy, led by Joseph Brant who came to Ontario from New York state. As a reward for remaining loyal to the crown, they were given a tract of land six miles wide on either side of the Grand River and they were given land at Akwesasne near present-day Cornwall.

Many of the German and French Loyalists, who had decided to honour their oaths of loyalty to the crown or were unable to fight due to their religious beliefs, established agricultural settlements around Niagara where they supplied the British garrison there with food. These Loyalists soon moved to the area around Brantford named for the celebrated first nations chief.

By way of statistics, the Loyalist migration to Ontario began shortly after the US War of Independence and really took off after 1783. By 1788 the population of the region had passed 10,000. As a result of the Loyalist migration, one thing was certain: that changes had to be made in the way the colony was governed.

The Quebec Act of 1774 was the legislative authority that provided for the administration of what was then the province of Quebec. This was satisfactory to a majority of the population of the lower St Lawrence but not for the Loyalist settlers. The court system and land tenure system were not known to many of the new settlers and they found them very difficult to understand.

It became clear that the government needed to establish a Legislature, but it believed that divisions between the established Canadiens and the new settlers, as well as the unwieldy size and shape of the existing colony, made one Legislature impractical.

As a result of these concerns, the British government decided to introduce the Constitutional Act, which divided the province of Quebec into predominantly francophone Lower Canada and predominantly anglophone Upper Canada. It was this act that set up elected legislatures in the new provinces, and in Upper Canada it established a system of courts and land tenure modelled after Britain. The Constitutional Act received royal assent on June 19, 1791.

The Constitutional Act also provided the protection of the crown for the French language and culture in Lower Canada. It should be remembered that at this time in Britain, English Catholics could not own land, vote or hold office. As a matter of fact, it was not until 1871 that English Catholics were allowed to attend university. Yet by the Constitutional Act, Catholics were granted full participation rights in Canada. This was a very significant development in the history of our nation.

New freedoms were found in Canada at the time of the Loyalists that were not to be found in either Britain or the United States. On July 9, 1793, the Legislature of Upper Canada passed an act that put an end to slavery. This was 50 years before the same thing happened in Britain and 70 years before the famous emancipation proclamation in the United States.

The Loyalists settled much of what is now Ontario. Their impact is seen in many of our towns, universities, colleges and other institutions that bear many Loyalist names. As a matter of fact, the first Premier of Ontario, John Sandfield MacDonald, was Loyalist.

In eastern Ontario in particular, the Loyalist influence is very pronounced. In 1784, the Loyalists landed at Adolphustown in Lennox and Addington county. This was the last landing of significant size of Loyalists in Upper Canada. The counties and townships of eastern Ontario were all settled by Loyalists.

The Loyalist influence is seen all around us today. As a result of this, I believe that the Loyalist tradition belongs to all Ontarians, whether their ancestors were Loyalists or not. The Loyalists worked on behalf of all subjects of the crown and citizens of Canada and not simply for those belonging to a Loyalist club.

The Loyalist heritage led to the development of Canada, with its bilingual, multicultural and regional traditions under the unifying context of a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. This is the tradition that sets Canada apart from other nations. We should be proud of it and celebrate it.

To be a Loyalist means more than just the ties of historic ancestry. Loyalists earned their place in Canadian history through their self-sacrificing dedication to their new country.

Distinguished Ontarians like Hal Jackman, Galen Weston and former Ontario Treasurer Robert Nixon are descended from the Loyalists, as is Brian Orser, the skater. The Right Honourable Ellen Fairclough is a Loyalist. So was former Governor General Roland Michener. Chief Joseph Deseronto of the Tyendinagas was a Loyalist. Egerton Ryerson, the founder of our public education system in Ontario, was also a Loyalist. Pauline Johnson, the Mohawk poet, was a Loyalist. First World War air ace Billy Bishop was a Loyalist, and countless other Loyalists and their descendants have given much to this province and indeed to this country.

The Loyalists complement the multicultural character of modern Ontario society. Catholic highlanders, Scottish Presbyterians, German Calvinists and Lutherans, the Dutch, all came in the Loyalist migration. A substantial number of black ex-slaves had fought for the British crown and had been freed. This group settled not only in Ontario but Nova Scotia and other British colonies in the Caribbean. These peoples have all left an indelible mark on Ontario society. This is something that we would celebrate on United Empire Loyalists' Day.

The very motto of this province, "Loyal in the beginning, so remaining," which is inscribed on our coat of arms, speaks to the contribution of the Loyalists. It was itself developed by Loyalists as a constant reminder of their role in our province's development.

In closing, I would like to ask all the members to again recognize the historic importance of the Loyalists by supporting this bill. Ontario would not be the same without the Loyalist tradition. By recognising June 19 as United Empire Loyalists' Day, we will be celebrating the Loyalist contribution, not just to Ontario but indeed to Canada. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and God save the Queen.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): We in the Liberal Party will of course be supporting this private member's bill. One of the things we in Canada and in Ontario sometimes are not particularly good at is recognizing our historical roots. I would like to congratulate the representatives of the group in the gallery for filling the important function of providing us with reminders on a daily basis of how this province came to be, how our history came to be. Some members would know that my educational background is in history, particularly in Canadian and Ontario and Quebec history, and I find that what these folks do is terribly important.

I also appreciate what the member has done by bringing this important bill before the Legislature, because it reminds us of our roots and the important contributions made through the years by people here in Ontario and in Canada. Sometimes, if we had a better understanding of where we've been, we could see the future much more clearly.

In speaking to this bill, I think you have to talk about revolution. I think you have to understand what happened in the present United States of America. It's significant, for example, that when we refer to it we refer to it here in Canada as the American Revolution. If you were on the other side of the border, you would refer to it as the War of Independence. That in itself speaks volumes, just the way we refer to the particular historical event.

The history of the American Revolution, at least in part, is one that comes from taxation. The American colonists, if you would believe the War of Independence kind of rhetoric, didn't want taxation without representation. They wanted to be able to make their decisions locally, so to speak, not by a far-off government, a King and Parliament that were an ocean away. That's what they would tell you. If you spoke to the British Parliament or the King at the time, he would say, "We are providing garrisons of British soldiers to protect you, and that is the reason we want you to pay for some of the cost of providing protection in these new colonies in North America."

When Quebec fell to the British -- we're all aware of that -- and the subsequent treaty then awarded Quebec to the British, North America changed significantly. The need for a British garrison to protect British colonies from a French colony was diminished. British policy became one of assimilation at that point in time. British policy at that time became, "We should assimilate Quebec and we should try to force immigration in North America towards Quebec so that we can achieve those goals."

To that end, you'll remember, they passed an act which prohibited American colonists from going west. They could not go beyond the mountains. The reason for that was to force North American immigration and settlement north into Quebec to have a British presence in a largely -- well, totally at that point -- French-speaking area. That of course caused great consternation in the American colonies or what is now the United States of America.

With the elimination of the need for paying for protection, there was also great concern about the taxation, so we had a revolution, and it was a revolution. Like all revolutions, there were victims, a great number of victims. Our province of Ontario is born largely out of the victims of that particular revolution.

Perhaps now we'll go to a little bit more history. American colonists of varied ethnic backgrounds who supported the British cause during the American Revolution came to Canada. In 1789 Lord Dorchester, the Ggovernor-in-Chief of British North America, proclaimed that Loyalists and their children should be allowed to append UE to their names, alluding to their great principle, the unity of the empire; hence the name United Empire Loyalists. The term applied initially in the Canadian colonies alone. It was officially recognized in the Maritimes only in the 20th century. Of course, the Maritimes were not part of Canada at that point.

In determining who was eligible for war losses, Britain used a fairly precise definition. Loyalists were those born or living in the American colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution who rendered substantial services to the royal cause during the war and who left the US by the end of the war or soon after. Those who left substantially later, mainly to gain land and to escape growing intolerance of minorities, are often called "late" Loyalists.

The Loyalists supported Britain for highly diverse reasons. Many evinced a personal loyalty to the crown or a fear that the revolution could bring chaos to America. Many agreed with the rebels that America had suffered wrongs at the hands of Britain but believed the solution could be worked out within the empire. Others, seeing themselves as weak or threatened within American society and in need of an outside defender, included linguistic and religious minorities, recent immigrants not fully integrated into the American society, blacks and Indians.

Sympathy for the crown was a dangerous sentiment. Those who defied the revolutionary forces could find themselves without civil rights, subject to mob violence or flung into prison. All the states finally taxed or confiscated Loyalist property. During the revolution over 19,000 Loyalists served Britain in specially created provincial corps, accompanied by several thousand Indians. Others spent the war in such strongholds as New York City or in refugee camps in Quebec. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people eventually fled, half of them to Canada.

The vast majority were neither well-to-do nor particularly high in social rank; most were farmers. Ethnically they were quite mixed and many were recent immigrants. White Loyalists brought sizeable contingents of slaves with them. Free blacks and escaped slaves who had fought in the Loyalist corps and as many as 2,000 Indian allies, mostly Six Nations Iroquois from New York, settled in Canada. The main waves of Loyalists came to what is now Canada in 1783 and 1784. The Maritimes became home for upwards of 30,000; Ontario became home for about 7,500; about 2,000 moved to present-day Quebec and settled in the Gaspé; 7,500 here in Ontario, as I said, along the St Lawrence and Bay of Quinte, also substantial settlements in the Niagara Peninsula and near where I was born and raised, in the Sarnia area, with subsidiary and later settlements along the Thames River; and of course the Grand River was the main focus of the Loyalist Iroquois settlement.

The Loyalist influx gave the region its first substantial population and led to the creation of a separate province, Upper Canada, later Canada West, later Ontario. Loyalists were very instrumental in establishing educational, religious, social and governmental institutions. Though greatly outnumbered by later immigrants, Loyalists and their descendants, such as Egerton Ryerson, exerted a strong and lasting influence.

Modern Canada and this province have inherited much from the Loyalists, including a certain conservatism, a preference for evolution rather than revolution in matters of government, and of course the strong tendency towards a pluralistic and heterogeneous society.


It's hard to understand how this group has not been honoured with a day long before today, because substantially they were and still are leaders of this province and have put a stamp on this country that I think most of us who favour a pluralistic and heterogeneous and evolutionary society would appreciate.

I have here some letters in support of this. I'm bringing these to the House today on behalf of Mr Cleary, the member for Cornwall. He has received letters from quite a number of people in the Cornwall area who are very supportive of this. Of course, Cornwall has a sizeable Loyalist population. I'm just going to read one that I think would be representative of them all:

"I wish to put my support towards Bill 150 of Mr Danford, MPP for Hastings-Peterborough, for the introduction of United Empire Loyalists' Day to be 19 June.... This would be an honour to all the founding fathers of Cornwall and area, which they settled after the American War of Independence.

"This group of people were the first truly non-racial group to settle Canada. They include not only Europeans, but African slaves as well, to be free men regardless of religion, race or creed. I have three great-grandfathers who fought with Sir John Johnson's King's Royal Regiment of New York and settled the area, Philip and Peter, for whom Eamers' Corners is named, and Michael Gallinger.

"Please support this bill, as it does show a sense of pride for our local history and the history of this province."

It's signed Michael Eamer, UE.

I have quite a number of these. I recognize the support across this province for this particular bill, which I believe is overdue, and I'm very pleased that Mr Danford has brought this before the House. It is widespread. I congratulate him. I hope this adds to a sense of Ontario's history, that our children and grandchildren will more fully understand and appreciate where a province came from, the evolution it has gone through, and that we will all have a better future, a brighter future, because of this proclamation of a particular day.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I too will be supporting this piece of work brought before us in the House today by the member for Hastings-Peterborough, perhaps for different reasons than others, because I won't stand here for a second and pretend that I know a lot about the United Empire Loyalists; however, I appreciate the contribution they have made to the fabric we call Ontario today.

I think it behooves us all, enriches us all, when we recognize that contribution in the way suggested by the member. It's always valuable to recognize the threads that run through the fabric that makes up Ontario, to recognize the contribution made by those who have participated in the history of the development of the wonderful province we all call home, for those who serve in this place here today and on behalf of the constituents we represent. Indeed this province and this country have a very rich heritage, however young that may be. We're not a country with the kind of history that some of the countries that border on us have. We have a young history that was cobbled together by numerous groups of people coming here for various reasons, some because of persecution, some to find a new land to have a family, develop a business or an interest and make it home.

I myself came to this country as an immigrant from Ireland. We arrived here in 1960, seven kids, my mother and father, to make a home in Wawa. Our family has become part of the rich heritage of that particular community. When that is recognized, as it was, for example, at a homecoming during the long weekend in August by those who organized that event, as were so many of the other very important families who made up that community over the years, I felt good. I felt a sense of ownership and I felt I wanted to do something to make that community even better. I think that will be the end result of the approval of this bill today and the work of the member for Hastings-Peterborough.

I think it's also important that we remember where we come from. As so many others more eloquent than I have said over the years, if you don't remember where you come from, there is always the possibility of repeating some of the mistakes we have made. I don't think that is in our best interests.

I was educated here this morning. I listened to the presentations by previous speakers, and they taught me a little about why it is that the United Empire Loyalists came to this country originally and the struggle they went through. I think it will stimulate others who have come to take a look at their history, and because of that, all of us as a community of people in the end will be better served.

I know from some of the reading I've done some of the challenges the Irish faced when they came to this country. There was a time when in Ontario to be Irish Catholic was not something you wore on your forehead, was not something you presented in trying to get a job in some of the larger industries in places like Toronto. But we've overcome that. As a community of people bigger than that, as a community of people educated and looking towards a future that included more of us in positive ways, we got beyond that. In my own community of Sault Ste Marie, for a long time, to be Italian, to have an Italian name, meant you got in line behind those who had a name that was of British ancestry and you didn't get the good jobs, if you got a job at all. I think it behooves us all to remember that that was our history so we don't repeat it again.

In recognizing a group such as the United Empire Loyalists, with the history they bring with them and the difficulties they overcame and the way they have contributed to the fabric of Ontario, we present to others an opportunity to think about their particular experience. When we put all that together, the rich heritage, remembering where we come from, the struggles we individually and collectively have worked our way through, we become a better country, we become a better province, we become a better community of people, a community of people better able, in a world that gets smaller and smaller, to reach out in more inclusive ways to other peoples, if not by way of our education then by way of our travel and ability to communicate today, and that makes us a better community.

As a matter of fact, Canada, because of its history and because of its openness to other cultures and religions and languages, presents a wonderful opportunity to show the world how people of different histories and traditions can work together in a positive way to build a better future and a better home for our children and our children's children to come and for other people who perhaps are persecuted in other places in the world today.

We don't have to look very far. The issue in the newspapers over the last week or two is the issue of the Gypsies from the Czech Republic. Initially, some may have a very negative and judgemental response to that, but it behooves us for a minute to think back on the response to the arrival of our forefathers to this country or some other jurisdiction in the world where we chose to move to start a new life because where we came from was not supportive of the best that was in us, whether it be our faith, our language or our culture.


To remember a group such as the United Empire Loyalists, who have contributed in such a positive way to the building up of what our wonderful province and country is today, I think is to call on all of us who claim Ontario as home to be ever more vigilant as we look around the world today at peoples who are persecuted, who are looking for a place to call home, so that they might build a future for their children in Canada, a country of vast proportion.

I come from Sault Ste Marie. I often drive home and I see the miles and miles and miles of territory that we have, that we own collectively, that is still to be developed in the best interests of ourselves and of the world, so I think it behooves us as we remember to be open to the possibilities that are there for the future.

I will be supporting this bill today, brought forward by the member for Hastings-Peterborough for all of those very important reasons, and I would ask members of the House to listen to others who will present today and to be enlightened, as I have, by the members who have spoken so far so that you might find it perhaps in your wisdom to support it as well.

Mr John L. Parker (York East): I'm very pleased to have the opportunity this morning to rise in support of the bill brought forward by my colleague from Hastings-Peterborough, a bill that seeks to recognize the Constitutional Act of June 1791 by making it a recognized holiday in the province of Ontario.

In so doing, we're recognizing a very important milestone in the history, not only of this province but of this entire country and our society. It's important in a number of respects, and I want to acknowledge the point that was just made by my colleague from Sault Ste Marie, who noted that the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists into Canada was part of a tradition that lives on.

We must remember that the Loyalists who came to Canada, by very definition, were immigrants to this country. They were newcomers.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): They were refugees.

Mr Parker: They were refugees; they were war refugees; they were DPs. They were people who were forced to leave their homelands to come to a new land. More than that, they were pioneers. It's often forgotten that at the time of the War of Independence, the United States was a mature, well-developed nation. It had a history that was already about 200 years old. These were not people who were leaving one log cabin to move to another log cabin; these were people who were leaving established societies, friends, homes, jobs to come to a brand-new land where they had to carve a living out of the wilderness.

Loyalists after the War of Independence moved in many directions. Some moved to the West Indies. Some moved to the eastern townships of what is now the province of Quebec. Governor Haldimand, who was the Governor of the colony of Quebec at that time, was responsible for placing the Loyalists in various settlements. Remember that what we now call Quebec and Ontario at that time bore the name alternately Canada or Quebec. He was responsible for the entire province of Quebec, which included present-day Ontario, and he directed the settlement of the United Empire Loyalists into essentially four identifiable areas.

Apart from the eastern townships, within what is now Ontario the Loyalists were settled in the areas of the upper St Lawrence, the Quinte area, the Niagara peninsula and the Grand River, and the Loyalist traditions in those areas live on and, as has been pointed out, the names, the traditions, the history that began in those days is still visible in the names and in the communities in those areas.

I want to take this opportunity in the time available to me to comment at some brief length on the subject of one group of Loyalists who arrived in present-day Ontario at that time and to focus on their highly exceptional, colourful and outstanding leader, Joseph Brant. I am speaking, of course, of the Mohawks.

Joseph Brant was a Mohawk, born in Ohio, moved in the highest circles. He was not in the wilderness. He was a great political and social leader of his day, highly educated, world travelled. He had lived in London for a period of time, was received by King George III, included among his friends James Boswell, one of the leading figures of all of history not just of that time. This was the world Joseph Brant knew and lived in.

Joseph Brant came back to his homeland in New York state and was a major influence in leading the Iroquois Nation in support of the crown in resistance to the revolutionaries who were seeking independence in the War of Independence. He united the Mohawks with many of the Seneca and others of the Six Nations.

Remember, the Six Nations at that time were not a fully unified group. They found their loyalties pulled in different directions. There were some leaders who took some of the Iroquois people into an alliance with the American revolutionaries. Joseph Brant was a leading figure in bringing many of the Iroquois people into alliance and loyalty with the British crown. He fought bravely and his troops fought very effectively on behalf of the crown in the War of Independence, and many victories in that war on behalf of the Loyalist forces were attributed to the contribution made by Joseph Brant and by the soldiers under his command.

There's a bit of a romantic myth that the Six Nations reserve on the Grand River today was granted to Joseph Brant and the Mohawks as an act of generosity and spontaneous gratitude by the crown, out of gratitude for the good work the Mohawks had delivered to the crown during the war and for the effectiveness of Joseph Brant's leadership. That is not untrue, but I think it's important we notice that it was also the result of some good, solid hard bargaining by Joseph Brant.

In the treaty that ended the War of Independence, there were various compensations that were arrived at and established at the treaty table between the newly established United States of America and the British government. One of the groups that was forgotten at that table, quite frankly, was Joseph Brant and the Mohawks. Joseph Brant wasn't about to put up with that. Joseph Brant went to Governor Haldimand at the time, who was the Governor of the colony of Canada, the colony of Quebec, and he demanded on behalf of his people that the British crown grant him compensation for what they had lost in what became the state of New York.

The literature isn't altogether clear on why the Grand River site was chosen. Remember, there was also John Deserontyon, another Mohawk leader, a leader of a slightly smaller group, the Upper Mohawks, who was granted a settlement in what is now called Deseronto. The literature would suggest that there was some thought of putting the Upper Mohawks, the Joseph Brant Mohawks, in the same area with Deserontyon. It's suggested that maybe Joseph Brant didn't want to be associated with that group and wanted an independent group. It's also suggested that Haldimand wanted to keep them separate, recognizing what a strong force they would be if the two groups were assembled together.


In the end, Haldimand and Brant arrived at an agreement and the Haldimand proclamation of 1784 was granted. I'll just read that to you now:

"Whereas His Majesty having been pleased to direct that in consideration of the early attachment to his cause manifested by the Mohawk Indians, and of the loss of their settlement they thereby sustained...I do hereby in His Majesty's name authorize and permit the said Mohawk Nation, and such other of the Six Nation Indians as wish to settle in that quarter to take possession of and settle upon the banks of the river commonly called Ours or Grand River, running into Lake Erie, allotting to them for that purpose six miles deep from each side of the river beginning at Lake Erie, and extending in that proportion to the head of the said river, which them and their posterity are to enjoy forever."

There's much more I can speak on the subject. I look forward to another opportunity to add on the subject. I see my time is now up and I'm glad to release my time to others.

Mr Wildman: I rise to support the passage of this bill brought forward by the member for Hastings-Peterborough. It's given us an opportunity that we don't have very often in this assembly to reflect on the history of this province and the importance of various groups in the development of this province.

I personally have been thinking about my own family's background. I'm a sixth generation Canadian. My family's roots were on both sides of the Ottawa River in the Ottawa Valley, around Shawville, Quebec, and Renfrew county, Carleton county and Lanark county on this side of the river. I'm proud to say that my own heritage is English, Scots, Irish, Mohawk, and many of the ancestors I have were United Empire Loyalists.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to think about this and to reflect on that in listening to some of my colleagues because this is one of the many waves of refugees that we in North America are descended from. The initial waves of refugees to the shores of North America from Europe often were trying to escape religious persecution. Some were trying to escape economic deprivation. Many of the Scots and Irish obviously came to North America subsequently when their lands were confiscated by the nobles, who were enclosing the lands to raise sheep and thereby displaced people. These refugees, United Empire Loyalists, were trying to escape political and economic persecution related to the fact that they remained loyal to the crown, in opposition to the revolutionaries who were arguing that they should not have to pay taxes without representation. They argued that they were not properly represented.

I find it somewhat ironic, and my friend from Hastings-Peterborough might agree that it is somewhat ironic, that a revolutionary government of which he is a member is bringing forward this resolution celebrating those who opposed revolution; or the government that is amalgamating school boards in the province today and thus in many parts of the north, where we will have enormous geographic areas, depriving people of representation on those boards that will be taxing them; that we are here celebrating that this morning.

I appreciated the comments of the member for York East about Joseph Brant and the Mohawks, the Iroquois Nation, the Six Nations, who supported the British and were allies of the British. I think it's important for us to recognize that in giving them their lands, in some cases the British were depriving the Ojibway Nation of lands. The Mohawks were immigrants to Canada in that sense. They had a history, of course, of war on the Huron, who were allies of the French previously. As allies first of the Dutch and then of the British, they had made incursions into what was Ontario and Quebec previously.

I think it's important for us, who are mostly of European descent, to recognize that the aboriginal nations of Canada were not conquered people. They were never conquered, either by the French or the English. They were in fact allies who had signed treaties with the crown. They were allies of the King. They saw themselves, and they were, in persons like Joseph Brant, equals who were supporting the crown because it was in their interests, they believed, to maintain the relationship they had developed with the crown.

When I hear some members -- and I have heard some members -- say, "Why do the aboriginal people think these treaties are so important? why do they think the rights that were recognized in those treaties should be preserved?" they forget that those treaties were not signed between a conqueror and a defeated nation, but between two nations that decided to cooperate with each other in both of their interests against a common enemy.

We owe a debt to those people. That was again demonstrated in the War of 1812. We have welcomed refugees and the aboriginal people have welcomed refugees, wave after wave after wave, in Canada. We should be celebrating that past, and for that reason I support this bill.

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I join in complimenting my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough for bringing forward this quite appropriate bill for consideration by the House, acknowledging the contribution of United Empire Loyalists to Ontario, the old Upper Canada, and to Canada's heritage. This is a very important group of mixed background, which has been noted. Many people view the United Empire Loyalists as British Tories and limit their view of the group to that group, but as my colleagues have pointed out, there were pacifists, Germans, French Protestants, German Calvinists, German Lutherans, Catholic Highlanders, Scottish Presbyterians and First Canadians also as part of that group, which is a more accurate description of that part of Ontario history, the history of Upper Canada.

I support the bill, of course, because I believe, as other members do, in the importance of recognizing, first of all, that we are all Canadians, but second, that we have a rich and diverse heritage not only in Canada but also in the early history of Upper Canada.

My own family emigrated from Ireland in the 1830s to St John, New Brunswick. My wife's family, on the other hand, is a United Empire Loyalist family from the Brockville area of Ontario in the county of Leeds. Those are the Elliott and Phillips families, many of whom still reside along the shores of the St Lawrence in central and eastern Ontario. The diligence and dedication of the United Empire Loyalists is clear when one looks at the architecture of eastern Ontario and the vitality of the communities of eastern Ontario, particularly along the St Lawrence.

I also want to comment briefly on the contribution of the United Empire Loyalists, among others, but in particular the United Empire Loyalists, to the development of our parliamentary tradition in Upper Canada; our system of land registration, which has been crucially important to the economic development and success of what is present-day Ontario; and also our system of justice, incorporating the Equity Courts, the Chancery Courts of the United Kingdom and also the great tradition of British common law. Two of our most important and seminal statutes came from that time, namely, the Quebec Act of 1774, followed by the Constitutional Act of 1791 establishing this elected assembly.

I join with my colleagues in support of this bill and I compliment the member for Hastings-Peterborough for bringing it forward.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I'm very pleased to stand in support of my comrade and friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough on this excellent idea through private members' bills today.

They say everybody is Irish on St Patrick's Day, so why not give everybody a chance to be an Empire Loyalist on Empire Loyalist Day on June 19 from here on in?

Although I cannot make a claim to Loyalist ancestry myself, I fully support this bill which recognizes a special place in Ontario's history that these immigrants represent in the social and economic development of our young colony.

The Niagara area, which is home for me, born and raised in Niagara, is also particularly rich in Loyalist tradition, thanks to Colonel John Butler and his Rangers and many of his Mohawk and Seneca allies under the great Joseph Brant, whom we've heard mentioned many times today. This band of about 1,200 Loyalists fought valiantly out of their base in Fort Niagara in present-day Lewiston, New York, against the forces of republicanism and rebellion in the States.

After the American Revolution, Butler and his allies crossed the Niagara River and settled in many communities throughout the peninsula. They were joined by hundreds of Loyalists of all descents, especially from the New York and Pennsylvania areas.

Reading through the history, you see that life was not easy at all for the early Loyalist immigrants. Some spent years in temporary quarters before moving on to build homes and farms in the wilderness. The year 1789 was known as the hungry year, as the previous year's crops were ruined by extreme heat. Overhunting had depleted game in Niagara's forests, yet the Loyalists survived, and at this time eight townships had been established in the northern part of the Niagara Peninsula.

Newark, now known as Niagara-on-the-Lake, became one of the young colony's first metropolises. The history of this very House in fact dates back to Newark, the first seat of government in Upper Canada. Had Newark not been so close to the border, facing the constant threat of American invasion in those days, it may have been the city that Toronto is today and we'd be cheering for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Maple Leafs instead of a Toronto team.

Shortly thereafter, many more townships were settled throughout Niagara, including those communities like Port Colborne, Fort Erie, and Wainfleet in my riding of Niagara South, with a great number of Pennsylvania Quaker and Mennonite families in that area.

These Loyalists went on to achieve many great things shortly thereafter. They defended the vulnerable Niagara Frontier in the War of 1812 against daunting odds. William Hamilton Merritt, one Loyalist descendant who fought the American invaders, later went on to build the Welland Canal as well as various railroads and bridges throughout the Niagara Peninsula and Upper Canada.

About 40,000 Niagarans today can trace their roots back to Loyalist beginnings. Surnames well known in Niagara like Brown, Sherk, Overholt, Huffman, Wintemute, Winger and, yes, even Harris, are commonly recognized Loyalist monikers in our part of the province.

The Loyalists were instrumental in building Niagara and in building Ontario's cultural, legal and constitutional institutions. I commend the member for Hastings-Peterborough for his efforts in promoting the province's history and the heritage of its people.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Danford, you have two more minutes.

Mr Danford: First of all, I want to thank my colleagues for their support this morning that's been shown in this House, certainly the members for Durham Centre, Niagara South, York East and also the members for Algoma-Manitoulin, Sault Ste Marie and Algoma. Their comments were well received and we appreciate that sort of support that recognizes the importance of this bill to the history of the province of Ontario.

As citizens, we are all constantly striving to improve our future, but we always need to remember our roots and our past because truly the lessons of the past are an asset for the decisions of the future, and we always have to keep that in mind.

The Loyalist movement and those people who migrated to this part of Canada set the example for us. Their hard work, their pride, their dedication and the strong principles they brought with them, through very difficult times which many of the members here have already related to and mentioned, set the basis for the province we have here today. Certainly, all the generations that followed, and I think that includes everyone present in this House today and whoever happens to be watching, have been the benefactors of those things that were brought here and how we were established.

The member for Algoma-Manitoulin in one of his remarks recognized the time that has passed, over 200 years, and the fact that we have not recognized this important occasion, and I agree. I thank the member for bringing that point forth and I think it is time.

The Deputy Speaker: Because the standing orders require that votes on private members' public business not be taken before 12 noon, I will suspend the proceedings until noon, pursuant to standing order 95(e), at which time I will put the questions on the ballot items debated this morning.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): Mr Speaker, may I request unanimous consent that we proceed with the vote now?

The Deputy Speaker: This is one of the few occasions where I cannot accept unanimous consent because not all the members are here, and for me to call them I would have to ring the bell and have unanimous consent. The House will recess for four minutes.

The House recessed from 1156 to 1200.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We'll deal first with ballot item 91. Mr Ford has moved private member's notice of motion number 65. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Take your seats.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 92.

Mr Danford has moved second reading of Bill 150, An Act proclaiming United Empire Loyalists' Day. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Pursuant to standing order 96(k), the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.

Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): Could I make a request, Mr Speaker? I would like this referred to the Legislative Assembly committee if the House chooses.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour? Carried.

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

The division bells rang from 1202 to 1206.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Ford has moved private member's notice of motion number 65. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing.


Arnott, Ted

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Michael A.

Churley, Marilyn

Danford, Harry

Flaherty, Jim

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jordan, W. Leo

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Laughren, Floyd

Leadston, Gary L.

Martin, Tony

Maves, Bart

Miclash, Frank

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Phillips, Gerry

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Spina, Joseph

Stewart, R. Gary

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please rise and remain standing.

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 37; the nays are zero.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Before we adjourn, I would like to congratulate the ladies and gentlemen who took the time to dress in those beautiful costumes and spend the time here with us this morning. Thank you very much.

All matters related to private members' business having been debated, I will now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1209 to 1330.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): On behalf of Mr McGuinty and my colleagues in our caucus, I rise today to congratulate Canadians of Ukrainian descent on celebrating their independence day.

The courageous determination of Ukrainians to regain their freedom is a source of inspiration to all mankind. Having tasted liberty in 1918, neither the weapons of starvation nor prison walls could extinguish the torch of freedom and hope that has been resolutely passed on from one heroic generation to another.

I'm convinced the rich heritage and proud tradition of Ukrainians will endure forever. Those Ukrainians who have come to Canada in search of freedom and opportunity since 1891 have made important contributions to the development of our province and country and to the enrichment of our culture. With the ethic of hard work and study, they have taken their rightful role as leaders in the professions, business, education, sport and government. We admire the unbreakable spirit of optimism and hope of our Ukrainian friends. In spite of past tragic events, they've become symbols to all freedom-loving peoples as torch bearers of democracy, torch bearers of people who justly want only to determine their own future and structure their own destiny.

To President Kuchma and Consul General in Toronto, and indeed to all Canadians of Ukrainian descent, we want to congratulate them on their independence day.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Over the last number of days, members have been expressing on behalf of their constituents, as I did yesterday, their consternation over the significant increase in the price of gasoline over the last number of days.

Yesterday my colleague from Sault Ste Marie suggested that the provincial government press upon the federal government their responsibility to investigate these increases in gasoline prices and to take measures against them. I pointed out that this government had reimposed the vehicle registration fee for northern Ontario drivers at a time when gasoline prices are much higher than when the previous government removed that fee as a way of trying to compensate for the additional cost in northern Ontario.

I note that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is today making a statement in which he says he is calling upon the federal minister to take action. He says, "To date, the federal government continues to demonstrate a lack of interest in taking action that will protect Ontario and Canadian consumers against undesirable market practices being conducted by petroleum companies related to gasoline pricing." I would say that as long as this government maintains the vehicle registration fee in northern Ontario, they are demonstrating the same lack of interest for consumers in northern Ontario.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I was proud to attend the launch yesterday of an education and fund-raising campaign cosponsored by the Ontario Brain Injury Association, Bauer Canada and minor hockey.

The event was initiated at the urging of Carl Lindros, father to Eric and Brett Lindros, both stars of the National Hockey League. As many in the House know, young Brett was forced to announce his retirement from the National Hockey League in May 1996 at the young age of 20 because he had suffered a number of concussions and did not allow his brain time to recover between injuries.

Bauer Canada commissioned artist John Newby to produce a limited-edition print to be used as a fund-raiser for OBIA and minor hockey; 888 signed prints are available for purchase by minor hockey associations. The funds raised will allow the Ontario Brain Injury Association to educate minor hockey league coaches and parents about the dangers of receiving a concussion and the importance of allowing the brain to recover before returning to play. The education program will also focus on the necessity of wearing properly fitted equipment. For those interested in purchasing a print, please contact Larry Nelles at 905-641-8877.

Our government has committed to providing those with brain injuries services close to home here in Ontario. Brain injury is the leading cause of death for Canadian males under 40 and the fourth leading cause of death young females. As Dr Barry Willer, the executive director for OBIA, stated yesterday, the only cure is prevention.

I would like to congratulate all those involved in this very important cause.


M. Patten (Ottawa-Centre): J'aimerais informer les membres de l'Assemblée que Ottawa-Hull a été choisie pour être hôte de la communauté francophone du monde et le site des Jeux de la francophonie de l'an 2001.

Avec le solide soutien du gouvernement fédéral et des gouvernements municipaux de la région et le travail dévoué des organisateurs et bénévoles de la région, Ottawa-Hull a été capable de remporter cette compétition contre Beyrouth, qui était fort bien organisée et qui avait l'appui de la France. Cet événement international d'importance comporte des compétitions athlétiques, et culturelles aussi.

These World Francophone Games are expected to attract 3,500 athletes and artisans to the region. Ottawa-Hull will be centre stage to the world during this time. The World Francophone Games will take advantage of the region's many venues, such as the Terry Fox Sports Facility, Lansdowne Park, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery, with the games likely to be headquartered at the University of Ottawa.

Increased tourism and activities related to organizing and marketing the games will generate between $20 million and $30 million for the local economy. More important than the financial reward is the cooperation between Ottawa and Hull, which worked together to secure these games. It's a fine example of Canadian unity at work.

I'm confident that Ottawa-Hull will host an event that will be the envy of the world, and I want to congratulate all my fellow people in the region who have made this possible.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Today I'm going to tell the House about my correspondence with Kim Charlebois, who is the coordinator of the sexual assault centre for Quinte and district.

The House might like to know that this centre is the only sexual assault centre in the province of Ontario not funded by the Ministry of the Solicitor General. They have been trying to get funding for some time. Under our government they were given a grant of, I think, approximately $50,000 a year for project money. Even that has now been cancelled by the present government, so they're not getting one dime either for annualized funding or for project funding -- nothing.

I want to point out to the government that this is unfair. For a government that says it cares about violence-against-women issues, this is another indication that it doesn't.

I want to point out to you what this centre does. They operate a 24-hour sexual assault crisis line that receives no funding; it is operated completely by trained volunteers. They receive approximately 1,600 calls per year on the line. They accompany police to court. They work with male and female survivors, and there's been about a 500% increase in calls from men over the past two years. So this is a very important sexual assault centre. I urge the Solicitor General to get on with it and fund this centre.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Not only do Ukrainian Canadians celebrate a free Ukraine, but as part of that celebration on Saturday, August 23, I was privileged to participate in the first annual Ukrainian festival and parade that was held in my riding of High Park-Swansea.

The parade was sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and marked the sixth anniversary of Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union after 60 years of Communist rule. The parade, which started at High Park, wound along Bloor Street until it reached Jane Street. Over 6,000 people viewed the parade at various points along its route.

The parade was led by the Governor General's Horse Guards, and some of the participants included the Baturyn Marching Band, the Ukrainian Youth Association, Toronto City War Vets, the Bloor West Village BIA, Future Bakery, the Ukrainian Canadian School Band, Coffee Time, Ukrainian Sports Club, (Contact) Kontakt, the Ukrainian TV program, as well as Plast Youth Camp and the Derma Dance Co, and of course yours truly.

At the conclusion of the parade, a festival was held at the corner of Bloor and Jane streets. There were Ukrainian crafts along with bands, dancers and singers who were on hand to entertain the crowds that spent the day in Bloor West Village. As well, many of the local merchants were serving many of the fine traditional Ukrainian foods.

The Ukrainian community has a strong tradition in West Toronto, and I must say it was a pleasure to see so many members out and about and welcome them back into our community.



Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): We have seen the cool reception reserved to Premier Mike Harris and Municipal Affairs Minister Al Leach at the AMO convention. I know that most of the elected officials from my riding are very sceptical about the downloading of services and about the fact that the Harris government insists it will be revenue-neutral, that municipalities will not only be able to reduce taxes but will also be able to offer better services. This is nonsense.

I have prepared a chart with all the municipal responsibilities for Prescott and Russell and I came up with a shortfall of $20 million. Some Tories might say this is typical of opposition, but the united counties of Prescott and Russell did their own study, and they also came up with a shortfall of more than $20 million.

It is false to say these services will be downloaded on to municipalities without reduction of service quality and without tax increases. It is more and more obvious that the Harris government wants to put the blame on municipal politicians for these service reductions and tax increases, but as we have seen this week at the AMO convention, municipal leaders are well aware of that strategy and they will not let this happen without a fight.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Over 12,000 Canadians have been infected with hepatitis C through the blood system, and despite ongoing efforts to persuade ministers of health at the federal and provincial levels of the need for compensation, no action has yet been taken.

A Tory letter to haemophilia Ontario, dated February 25, 1997, stated:

"Health ministers across Canada decided...that they would not extend a compensation package for those individuals who contracted the hepatitis C virus from tainted blood. The reason was that there was a major difficulty in compensating all individuals who were infected by a medical mishap."

As the testimony at the Krever commission clearly showed, tainted blood resulted not from a mishap but from decisions made by various agencies, corporations and levels of government over a number of years not to use available tests to screen out infected blood.

The Minister of Health, in opposition, urged our government to compensate haemophiliacs who were infected by tainted blood. Today I ask the minister to have the integrity and courage with respect to hepatitis C infected haemophiliacs, first, to insist that the compensation issue be at the table at the next ministers' meeting; second, to strongly advocate for compensation; and third, to commit to using provincial dollars to compensate victims of tainted blood if no federal-provincial agreement is reached. These people are dying. The time to act is now.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): We all have a responsibility to seek the end of the problem of violence against women, which seriously affects the lives of thousands of women and children, including many in my riding of Chatham-Kent.

Violence against women is a crime which subjects its victims to numerous abuses, both mental and physical. Suffering injury and disrupted lives, these victims must live with the intimidation, painful images and deep scars of the abuse they have experienced. Violence against women is a very real part of our communities, and whether we recognize it or not, it touches all our lives.

In response to this persistent problem, the minister responsible for women's issues, the Honourable Dianne Cunningham, recently announced a strategic framework for the prevention of violence against women.

This program addresses such violence as it permeates our society in all its forms, in the home, in the workplace, in institutional settings and in the broader community. The program strategies include providing protective havens for abused women and focusing on the support of victims, while at the same time taking aggressive action against perpetrators through improvements to the justice system.

I am optimistic and highly supportive of this new program and the protection, support and hope it provides for victimized women and their families.

Violence against women is a crime which can be prevented through government support, tough laws, education and, most importantly, community care.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg leave to inform the House that yesterday the Clerk received the 42nd report of the standing committee on government agencies. Pursuant to standing order 105(g)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.



Mr Turnbull moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr88, An act respecting Lansing Co-operative Nursery School.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): This government is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring that the people of Ontario have a safe drinking water supply.

As my colleagues are aware, the Who Does What exercise clarified the responsibilities of provincial and municipal levels of government in the delivery of water and sewage services.

Municipalities have always been responsible for providing water and sewage treatment services to their communities, and three quarters of the operations providing these services already own their own facilities in their own names. In recognition of this, the government will be transferring the title, which those municipalities are beneficial owners of anyway, of the remaining one quarter sewage plants to these municipalities.

The province recognizes that we have the very important responsibility of setting proper standards and ensuring that they are met. We also recognize that there will be special cases where municipalities will need help.

That is why today I'm pleased to share with the House the details of the provincial water protection fund announced by my colleague the finance minister in the May 6 budget. We are making $200 million available over three years to help municipalities in the event of specific health and environmental problems. Funds will be available to those communities that require financial assistance to solve specific environmental and public health problems. With this new fund, we are making sure that cost-effective solutions to problems are found and that we make the best possible use of existing facilities and joint servicing arrangements.

We have very high water and sewage standards in this province. Virtually all of Ontario's municipalities currently meet the province's drinking water standards. Our infrastructure is among the best in the world. The funding I have announced today will help ensure that water and sewage treatment facilities in Ontario maintain those high standards.

The provincial water protection fund is further evidence that this government is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring that all Ontarians are able to drink safe, clean water.



Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Today I am tabling a resolution in the House in connection with gasoline pricing practices by large petroleum companies. I hope to receive all-party support in order that I may be able to present a unanimous expression of the Ontario Legislature at the provincial consumer ministers' meeting in Regina on September 10 and 11.

I've previously expressed my concern, and anger, quite frankly, as have most Ontarians, as have my colleagues across the House, as have ordinary Ontarians, people like my uncle and aunt, John and Kathy Takahashi, who happen to be in the gallery today -- I slipped that one in. Ontarians are angry at the outrageous price increases that the big petroleum companies are foisting today upon the consumers of Ontario.

The issue of ensuring fair competition in the gasoline marketplace is an issue that crosses provincial boundaries and is the responsibility of the federal government under the Competition Act. However, to date, and as recently as yesterday, the federal government continues to show a demonstrated lack of interest in taking action that will protect Ontarians and in fact all Canadians against the undesirable market practices being conducted by the petroleum companies relating to gasoline pricing.

Notwithstanding the reluctance of the federal government to assume its rightful responsibility for the issue, I have already written to Ontario's gas refiners demanding that steps be taken to resolve this issue.

I've also met with the Independent Retail Gasoline Marketers Association and other independent gasoline retailers, along with the member for Halton North, to discuss issues such as retail margins. As well, I've written to the Honourable John Manley, the federal minister responsible, to express my concern and to call upon Ottawa to exercise the powers under the Competition Act to eliminate anti-competitive practices in the retail gasoline marketplace across this nation.

Today I'm calling on Mr Manley and the federal government to immediately address the pricing increases and practices within the gasoline industry and to appoint a special investigator to review this situation and to make recommendations to ensure that Canadian consumers benefit from competitive gasoline pricing.

I am seeking expressions of support from both opposition parties today and all members of the House for the resolution. This will enable me to have the full backing of the Ontario Legislature in presenting Ontario's position to the federal-provincial ministers' meeting in Regina. I look forward to the support of the House for this action.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): For a brief moment earlier today, before I heard the statement, I would have thought that this government and this minister finally had the courage and the commitment to call an inquiry into the Hamilton Plastimet fire. But what we have seen is simply another public relations announcement by a desperate minister, by a minister who is on the ropes, by a minister who has abandoned all commitment to the environment. Instead of receiving an announcement that the people of Hamilton have been waiting for, what we have is a recycled announcement of a May 6 budget announcement made by the finance minister.

What I find most disturbing about this is the first line: "This government is committed to protecting the environment." This is the same government that has cut one third of the funding out of the Ministry of Environment. This is the same government that has cut 40% of the budget out of the Ministry of Environment. This is the same government that has allowed prosecutions and charges to drop by 50% in the last two years because they have turned a blind eye to polluters across Ontario.

What we see today is a lack of recognition that what this government has done, with the bill that the minister refers to today, is open the door for the privatization of water and sewer services. When this government turned over the remaining 25% of the services to the municipalities, both opposition parties and every single group that came in front of the committee said to the government, "Put a clause in your legislation that stops municipalities from privatizing water and sewers."

What did this government do? It ignored it. It listened to its corporate friends. They can't wait till they get their greedy paws on water and sewer services and then have the ability to set water rates and hold consumers hostage. This is what it's all about.

This announcement does absolutely nothing to protect consumers from giving the private sector the authority to set water and sewer rates. Water and sewer rates do not belong in the hands of the private sector; they belong in the hands of government. The bill that you have set has opened that door. The bill that you put through the Legislature simply turns it over; any municipality across Ontario today can turn over, not the operation -- the operation is one part of the agenda. The operation of the services in some municipalities makes sense. It is the ability to set water rates. Today there isn't one municipality in Ontario that has turned that over. With this bill and with the downloading you have opened the door. You're going to see the British experience repeated here in Ontario as soon as you allow the private sector to control water and sewer rates. You have done nothing to protect that, and consumers are not going to forget what you have done to them.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): We see the Harris government springing into action today on gas prices. It was a year ago May when we raised it, and of course the Minister of Economic Development said: "No, no, don't worry. Prices are about the same here as they are in France and Switzerland. What are you all worried about? Furthermore, we must let the market have its way." Mr Tsubouchi, your problem's not with the opposition; it's persuading your cabinet colleagues that there's a problem. We care about the price here in Ontario, not France or Switzerland, where he may travel, but here in Ontario.

We see some tough action by the government. They're going to pass a resolution and they're going to write a letter. You want action? You get Mike Harris right in behind it. He'll write letters and pass resolutions.

I would say to the government, first talk to the minister, Mr Saunderson. Tell him it is a problem. Tell him that the marketplace isn't working. That's your first problem. Second, do something. We can pass, here in this Legislature, legislation around what's called predatory pricing. We asked you to do that a year ago, we asked you to do that last week, and we're asking you to do that again. What's happening is that the large oil companies are putting the small independent operators out of business, and we can do something about that. But no, we're going to send a resolution down to Ottawa, pass the buck.

I would say to the minister and to Mike Harris, let's get a little backbone. Spend some time writing some legislation here that we can deal with, bring it before the Legislature and let us deal with it. Second, call Mr Saunderson in and tell him he's offside, he's wrong.

The government has now changed its tack because they realize the public are sick and tired of the lack of action by this government.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a response to the Minister of Environment and Energy. I also thought the minister might be announcing today that he's calling for an independent investigation into the fire in Hamilton. But no. What did we see last night on TV but Mr Hardy Wong, the regional director, trying to explain what happened in Hamilton. Where's the minister? He's afraid to speak out on this issue. He's removed himself, ducking the issue completely.

Today what do we hear? We've got the minister up playing the old shell game. He's reannouncing an announcement that was made a little while ago. It must be because AMO is in town and they're upset about the fact that they have to pay for all this somehow. This was announced a while ago. There's nothing new here today. What's shameful about it is that the minister has already cut millions and millions of dollars out of various programs and today is reannouncing a little bit, a small portion of that, back into the system.

They cut the municipal assistance program, the CURB program; that's the agricultural runoff program. Under OCWA they cut the grants and cut all the water conservation programs. Staff and resources have been cut to the bone. What's worst of all is that this minister has opened the door to have our precious resource, water in this province, privatized.

The minister should be ashamed of himself today. He's got nothing new to say. We were looking forward to some kind of announcement on either Hydro or the Hamilton fire, the two really big issues out there, and not a word about it. What does he do instead but stand up and reannounce old news, something we already knew.

Minister, what we want to hear from you today is an announcement about the Hamilton fire. We want to see you take responsibility. We want you to look into whether the cuts in staff and resources, as I firmly believe, had an impact and an effect on what happened at that fire. We want an investigation into what happened at that Hamilton fire. Your own studies show -- they even exceeded Greenpeace studies on the site. It's a site I was able to walk into because it wasn't constrained. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We want to see the minister finally stand up and do his job and take responsibility for the health of the people of this province.



Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): We on this side are always thankful for any little recognition by this government that their friends and supporters in the private sector are damaging the ability of consumers to buy and to make a living. We will of course be supporting this resolution, given that yesterday we asked the government to do that in response to a statement made by our colleague John Solomon in Ottawa.

But we find it all passing strange. It rings hollow and feels somewhat hypocritical that in dealing with the petroleum industry, the giant that is making record profits these days, this government would choose to use a fly-swatter, while in dealing with the workers of the province and the public service and the poor people out there, they're continually using a sledgehammer. We would hope for more than a resolution; we would hope for more than a letter to the federal minister. We hope you do something of some substance. As the member from the Liberal Party said, take the bull by the horns and use the legislation we have at our disposal.

I would ask you in closing, due to the tremendous effect and impact this is having across this province, particularly in northern Ontario, and that you're coming at this at such a late date, that you might consider the suggestion made by my colleague from Algoma yesterday. There's a piece of your budget coming into effect on September 1 that's going to change an initiative that we as government put in place to support northern Ontario and its economy and the workers and consumers out there who have to drive to work every day, who have no alternative but to take their motorcar to drive goods to market and attempt to attract tourism into northern Ontario. We took away the registration fee for motor vehicle registration.

If this minister really means to take action, if he really wants to do something of substance, he would talk to the finance minister and to his Premier and ask him to step in and stop the imposition of this new tax on the people of northern Ontario and give them relief. In Wawa today the cost of a litre of gasoline is 72.9 cents. That's a shame. That's under your watch. That's why you stand back and watch this industry take a sledgehammer to the people of the province.



Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): In the absence of the Solicitor General, I address my question to the Chair of Management Board.

Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Government House Leader): The Solicitor General is expected here in a matter of minutes. There he is; he's right there.

Mr Ramsay: I have a question for the Solicitor General today that I'm sure he's expecting. I'd like to ask you about your project Camp Turnaround that I guess is more like Camp Breakout as of last night.

With the zeal you have to privatize your jails, you very quickly signed a $2.4-million contract, a yearly contract, with a private company that now seems unprepared to provide adequate security for dangerous young offenders here in Ontario. The 32-bed facility has been running at less than half-capacity since its opening a month ago. We also find that police were called yesterday before the break-in to quell an assault on a guard and two charges were laid after that fact.

Why didn't you ensure, as with all our government facilities, that the proper backup and procedures were in place before you opened this facility?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): There was a security check done in the facility prior to its opening a number of weeks ago. We are conducting a security check following the events of last evening. I want to assure the members opposite that we will make every effort to ensure that the best possible security is provided at that site. That's our intent and we will follow through on that.

Mr Ramsay: The security systems that were in place failed. That's not good enough. This is more like Camp Getaway for these young offenders. It's my understanding now that ministry guards from Metro West and from Vanier have been dispatched to provide perimeter security at this boot camp, so to me this presents a very interesting picture.

Picture this, Minister: We now have this almost empty, $2.4-million boot camp fully staffed with government guards on the outside protecting the perimeter of this. What we have is the guards guarding the guards right now, and this is costing taxpayers money. How much extra is this security going to cost taxpayers, and what is the real cost of guarding these young offenders today?

Hon Mr Runciman: Our commitment is to public safety, and there are questions surrounding security at the site following the events of last evening. Until the security review is completed, until we feel confident and ministry officials feel confident, we are going to ensure there are adequate people on the site to not in any way, shape or form jeopardize public safety.

Mr Ramsay: Yesterday, before the assault and the breakout, I was speaking to child advocate Judy Finlay about the situation at the boot camp. I was following up on complaints that have been made about the inappropriate transfers of young offenders, being taken away from their schooling and their programming at their regular facilities and being brought to this boot camp to try to fill its beds. She has ordered some of those young offenders to be returned to those facilities because your protocols for transfer were not in place, and yet you went ahead and opened this facility.

This camp sounds more like Camp Run-Amuck, because everything you've tried to do there has failed. Minister, people in the area are afraid for their safety and security, and rightfully so after last night's breakout. With all the problems of this privatized facility, with the extra costs to the taxpayers and the threat to safety, will you give this House a commitment today to shut this facility down?

Hon Mr Runciman: It's interesting to see the approach of the member opposite, given September 1989. It's just one example, and I have a litany of examples with respect to this: Monteith, 22 young offenders who were transferred, 13 escaped since September 1989. A hostage-taking of two correctional officers and now --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Runciman: The reality is that Ontarians want different approaches in terms of dealing with youth crime and young offenders. The two previous governments did nothing, and as a result of that, 80% --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): This is your baby.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): It's not our boot camp.


The Speaker: I caution the member for Hamilton Centre. Come to order. The member for Sault Ste Marie. The member for Sault Ste Marie, I'm not having a debate with you. Come to order. Thank you. And the leader of the third party.

Hon Mr Runciman: That reaction exemplifies the same non-serious approach those two parties took to young offender crime in this province during their tenure in government. The reality was that under their tenure, 80% of the people in our adult correction system in this province were graduates of the youth justice system. Over 60% in our youth justice system were repeat offenders. Ontarians were sick and tired of the Young Offenders Act, of the youth justice system and of those two governments. Their lackadaisical approach to youth crime is one of the major reasons they're sitting on that side of the House today.



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Environment. For a month and a half, myself; the member for Hamilton Centre, David Christopherson; community groups; firefighters; public workers; and city council have asked for a public inquiry into the Plastimet fire.

Yesterday your own report, a report issued and commissioned by your ministry, showed some shocking results. It has shown that dioxin levels on the site are 66 times higher than the acceptable standard. It has shown that lead is 59 times higher than the acceptable level. Let me read from your report. It says: "Lead is a toxic metal with various harmful effects particularly on the nervous system and haematological processes. The most sensitive are young children." That's from your own report.

Minister, you, the Minister of Health and the Premier cannot guarantee the safety and health of that community. Will you today have the courage to do what was right three weeks ago and call a public inquiry into the Plastimet fire?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): I have said to the member before that I am very concerned about the toxic levels of materials on the site. I have never denied, I have always been open with regard to that. I have had my officials be open with the community. My officials have concentrated their efforts on the community rather than on the site until this point in time, because we are now in the throes of cleaning up this site. We are going to assure the people of Hamilton, once and for all, that this particular site is dealt with so that there will not be a danger to the community in the future.

This site has had, I assume, these toxic levels for a long period of time. They did not occur during this fire; some of them did, but a lot of them occurred before this time. They were there, as I understand it, for a long period of time. We are concerned about it, but our primary focus here is to clean up the site.

Mr Agostino: Your premise is wrong, because if you stand here today and acknowledge that you were aware of high levels of lead and dioxin on the site prior to the fire, and if your ministry was aware, then let me suggest to you, Minister, you were negligent in not acting and having that removed before the fire occurred. You can't have it both ways. If you knew about it, you had a responsibility to take care of it, and you failed miserably. I'm not sure what you're afraid of. You can run but you can't hide from this.

The problem is that you have a conflict here. You are afraid, if you admit error, then you will be liable. I have a suggestion for you. Will you, today, appoint the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, an independent body that reports to the Legislature, to carry out a public inquiry into the Plastimet fire, to take it out of the political process, take it out of any other jurisdiction -- it's going to be expensive -- but simply appoint an office that reports to this Legislature? Will you today agree to appoint the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to call an inquiry into the Hamilton fire?

Hon Mr Sterling: That is not her function. We are providing all the information to all the parties who are asking questions.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): You tell us how it happened.

Hon Mr Sterling: I say to all members from Hamilton, ask me the questions. We will answer those questions. I believe an inquiry is necessary when answers are not forthcoming. We will answer the questions. We have been open. We want the public of Hamilton, whom we care about, to know the facts. That's why we have an information trailer there. That's why I have my officials down there -- the scientists, the technologists -- telling the people the facts, not politicians raving about what might or might not be the case. We are not fearmongering; we are providing the people with the facts.

Mr Agostino: Let me suggest to the minister that what you are doing is absolutely nothing. Nobody believes you, nobody trusts you and nobody trusts the work that has come out of your office with regard to this. It is not the front-line staff in Hamilton. They do a good job, but you have taken away their tools to do the job. I'm not sure what else you need. We want to know how it happened, why the fire occurred, why the evacuation order wasn't given earlier, why it took two weeks for your ministry to order that the site be secured. There are those and hundreds of other questions.

You cannot stand in your place today and guarantee to the firefighters, to the residents of Hamilton, to the people affected that there will not be any serious or long-term health effects. You can't stand there and do that, so short of guaranteeing that to the people of Hamilton, I believe you have a responsibility to address what went wrong, to address the adequacy of your response, to address the reliability of the information you gave that decisions were made on, to address the fact that it took so long for action on securing the site. There are many, many questions you haven't answered. You said you were going to do an internal investigation. We have seen nothing yet.

Again, will you today, as minister, direct the Legislature and give the Legislature the authority to go ahead and ask the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario to call a public inquiry?

Hon Mr Sterling: I think the member is clear about the Environmental Bill of Rights and what the function of the Environmental Commissioner is. He can operate within the confines of that act, as any other citizen can.

I must say that earlier this week when Greenpeace released their results with regard to this site, which I acknowledged were probably accurate, that there were concerns about the toxic levels on this site -- it depends on the location of those particular samples -- it was quite astounding to find out that a resident whom they had brought forward to speak against the ministry about not providing information actually turned around, went off script and said she was satisfied. Ann Gallagher, who lives right near the site, said she was satisfied with the ministry and how open they were and how much information they were providing.

Mr Agostino: Why don't you go down yourself and talk to them?

Mr Christopherson: You meet with Ann Gallagher.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I want to warn the members for Hamilton East and Hamilton Centre to come to order. I'm not warning you again.

Hon Mr Sterling: I am concerned over the health of these individuals. As some of the journalists are saying in the Spectator, Mr Agostino, the member, should not be playing politics with the people of Hamilton.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Environment, and I would say to him that he should be doing something to protect the public in terms of the Hamilton fire.

But my question is about Hydro. Minister, we learned today that the shutdown and overhaul cost of Hydro's nuclear plants has gone up by $1.5 billion in two weeks. This has to be some sort of world record for cost escalation in two weeks. Unfortunately, it's typical of your government. You change the numbers on municipal downloading week by week; you change the numbers on hospital closings city by city depending on where you're at. We're tempted to ask, does anybody over there know what you're doing? Does anybody keep track of the important details and the impacts on people?

In this case, Minister, what happened? How did your Mr Farlinger, your Hydro chairman, allow the costs to escalate by $1.5 billion in two weeks?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Environment and Energy): This is a plan which is being put forward by Ontario Hydro. The government has asked Ontario Hydro to justify the figures they are presenting. I suspect that they will be able to justify those at some time.

As the member knows, we have said that a legislative committee will have the opportunity to look at the safety report, which causes me great concern, as well as at the strategic plan, to ask those very questions. We are asking them of Ontario Hydro and we expect the Ontario Legislature's members will also ask those questions.

Mr Hampton: We'll address your issue with the parliamentary committee in a minute.

You stood in this House two weeks ago and you tried to say to all of the people across Ontario that your Mr Farlinger was absolutely in charge at Hydro, had all of the answers at Hydro, and you said that this will be the cost. Now, two weeks later, it comes out and it's $1.5 billion more -- $1.5 billion in two weeks.

You also said something else two weeks ago that I think is totally lacking in credibility. It shows that you don't have your numbers right. You said that this is not going to impact on people's electrical rates across the province.

Let me ask you again: With this further $1.5 billion, this small detail that you missed, the further $1.5 billion in costs, are you still saying that people's hydro and electricity rates won't be affected?

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe the difference relates to a different set of assumptions in terms of making the calculations. But having said that, I believe my statement two weeks ago and my position since the strategic plan has been put forward is that Ontario Hydro assured us, the government, that rates would not increase as a result of their strategic plan, their strategic recovery plan to ensure the safety of the nuclear reactors. That is what I have said. Mr Farlinger and Ontario Hydro will be showing this government how in fact that will take place. That's what his position is and that's what we accepted: the conditions of the strategic plan, the basis of it.

Mr Hampton: This is interesting. Week one, you make assumption A. Week 3, you make assumption B. What's the difference for the people of Ontario? It's $1.5 billion. This government says, "We're just working it out." That's the problem with this government. It doesn't matter if we're talking about hospital closures, municipal downloading; you people shoot first and worry about the casualties later. Nobody over there is keeping track of what's happening to real people in real communities, and that's the problem.

You mention your legislative committee. I'll put it to you very clearly. In view of the way that you people treat legislative committees -- you shut them down when you want to shut them down, you shut people out when you want to shut them out, you close people off, you tell people they don't have any credibility; mayor after mayor came to the megacity committee and your backbenchers ridiculed them because they didn't recite your line -- your legislative committee isn't worth anything.

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

Mr Hampton: We want an independent commission where the numbers won't change every week. Give us an independent commission. Restore some credibility for the people of Ontario.

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe the MPPs in this Legislature should have a say about Ontario Hydro, the direction it takes in the future. I don't believe that people who are appointed, who are not elected to this Legislature, who are not responsible to the people, not responsible for the future of these people, have the same right to deal with this particular matter.

I was asked by members opposite to have a legislative committee. We agreed with that. We thought it was good to have an open process among MPPs so they will have their opportunity to exam the plan, to make suggestions on the plan. I believe a legislative committee can do just as good a job as an inquiry, if not better. These people are elected. That's what I want: to hear back from the people through their elected representatives. We will have a legislative committee as promised. That is my answer.

The Speaker: New question, the third party, the leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: To the Solicitor General -- I would say to the Minister of Environment, nobody has any trust in your legislative committee. Appoint an independent commission and let's get to the bottom of this.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Dufferin-Peel, I don't tell anyone how to ask their questions and I don't tell you how to answer them. They can ask anybody any question they want. If they want to talk about whatever they want to talk about, it's up to them. The same goes for the ministers. There's no rule that says they have to answer it in any specific fashion. So if the leader of the third party wants to ask a question to the Solicitor General and spend some time talking about environment, it's not up to me to bring him to order; just as when the minister wants to respond to a question differently than the questioner would like to hear it, it's not up to me to bring him to order.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): To the Solicitor General: We understand that two young offenders escaped from your boot camp last night. We understand now that they have been located, but this raises serious concerns about your incompetence in your pet project. You were in such a hurry to open this facility that you didn't take care of the details. You didn't check out how good or how thoughtful or how prepared your private American company was for the opening. In fact, you were in such a hurry that we understand you recruited young offenders for this facility who were higher risk than you originally outlined to the public.

My question, Minister, is this: In view of the fact that you rushed ahead again, you didn't look after the details, will you agree to slow this process down and look at the important details, like protecting the security of the public?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): It's interesting to hear the leader of the third party singing a tune about safety of the public. That certainly wasn't their track record during their five years in office. It was at the bottom of their priority list.

I want to say that we are not going to back away from this process. If you take a look at the previous 10 years, at the rate of individuals graduating from the youth justice system into the adult system and at the rate of repeat offenders -- over 60% in our youth justice system -- clearly the system was failing us. The people of this province were fed up, sick and tired with the status quo. They wanted to see new approaches, and we are taking one to try and deal effectively with young offenders and youth crime in this province, a job they failed to do.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): This is a brand-new prison. This is supposed to solve problems.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. I caution the members for London Centre and Riverdale to come to order.


Mr Hampton: This is so typical of this government. When they do misplay something, when they admit they moved too quickly and they made a mistake, instead of accepting responsibility, instead of solving the problem, they look for somebody to blame. You're not worthy of being a government. You don't accept the responsibility of government.

Let me just take a further example. We've done some investigation of this private American company that is running your boot camp. Their contract with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice was rescinded after a riot broke out at a facility they were managing there. Now we have this situation at Barrie.

Minister, accept some responsibility. Will you admit that once again your government has been reckless? You simply bulldozed ahead; you don't care about the casualties. Will you slow down the process and start taking some responsibility?

Hon Mr Runciman: It's interesting to see where the third party gets their research. That story was in Eye magazine. I don't know if they're on contract to the NDP caucus or not. But if they'd done a little research, they would have found out that the principals involved in the company operating the strict discipline facility had left that particular site at the time this incident occurred.

Once again their facts are wrong. If I have to reiterate, the people of this province want to see a strict discipline approach to young offenders, they want to see youth crime curbed, they want to see young offenders dealt with in an effective way, and by God, we're trying to do it.

Mr Hampton: I think we just saw an example of this government's impression of accountability: Just don't be too close to it when it all blows up. The minister thinks it's okay that the principals who operated the company got far enough away when the riot happened in Florida. That's this government's impression. That's this government's definition of accountability.

You are responsible to the public. You botched this operation. The young offenders who escaped took a van. Where did they find the keys to the van? In the van itself. This is supposed to be a security situation. You're supposed to be looking after the security of the public in Ontario.

Will you admit that once again your government is bulldozing ahead? You're not looking after the interests of the people of Ontario. You don't care where the casualties are. This is the result. Will you slow down and start paying attention to the important details, the impacts on real people, real communities in Ontario? Will you do that?

Hon Mr Runciman: It would be amusing if it wasn't so upsetting, given the nature of this topic, to reflect on the third party with respect to their views on these subjects now versus when they were in government. This member is gauging our success based on one situation, two escapes. I want to put on the record some statistics the members opposite may not be too comfortable with.

In 1991, when the NDP was in power, 48 escapes; in 1991-92, 44 escapes; in 1992-93, 41 escapes. Last year, under a Conservative government, 17 -- count them. If we're judging competence, if we're judging accountability, that whole sorry gang should resign.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. It would seem that from time you hired your anti-teacher friend, Mr Paroian, to put teachers in the worst possible light, you have taken pleasure in teacher-bashing. Mr Paroian, you'll remember, completely misrepresented the hours that teachers work and their pay per hour, and you let that misimpression sit out there publicly.

Last week, you were quick to make sure that people knew that not many teachers had taken your hastily put together summer seminars. You didn't bother to point out that you couldn't accommodate more than a handful of the teachers who wanted to go. I suggest that this is typical of what happens when you push through your agenda so you can make a political statement and get your advertising campaign under way, but you haven't actually thought about how the whole thing will work. You clearly saw this as another chance to put teachers in a bad public light, to set them up for what you're planning to do to them next.

Minister, apologies after the damage is done are not very satisfying, but do you acknowledge that teachers are not to blame for the problem you have created?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Let me say what I said earlier this week and say again, because I'm pleased to say this for the public record; that is, that Ontario has some of the most qualified teachers in the world, and I believe that there will be no difficulty at all, given the quality and the professionalism of our teachers, in adopting better standards of achievement for our students in grades 1 to 8, which is the whole point of our curriculum.

The member for Fort William is either ill-informed or hasn't done enough research on my comments, because that's exactly what I've said all week. I've praised the teachers repeatedly this week because I believe they're the key component in making this work.

I don't mind when the member for Fort William twists my words, because that's part of politics. But I object when she takes a potshot at someone like Mr Paroian, who, for a dollar, took a lot of his time and made a report to this government. You can dislike the report, but I'm offended when you take on the individual who did that in public service. I think you should stand on your feet right now and apologize to Mr Paroian for your comments.

Mrs McLeod: I'd be happy to bring in Mr Paroian's report and read the misrepresentation directly into the record so the minister can no longer misrepresent that.

I want to agree with the minister on one point, which is a very unusual situation. I too thank God that we have professional teachers who will go into the classrooms in September, close the door and teach kids in spite of the chaos that this minister has created.

The real problem you have created is not for the teachers, and I acknowledge that and they acknowledge that. The real problem you have created is for the kids. It is a fact that you rushed through your curriculum before teachers could be prepared for it. They didn't even have the materials at the end of the school year. It is also fact that elementary school students are coming back to school on Tuesday. They are facing a new curriculum and they have no textbooks and no workbooks to work with. You were in such a hurry to talk about what you were going to make kids learn, but you didn't think it was important to make sure they would have books to learn from.

Why would you not take the time to introduce your curriculum more slowly so that teachers could be properly trained and students would have material to work with?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Once again the member for Fort William has probably inadvertently misrepresented what will happen in the classrooms this fall.

We have heard from teachers right across Ontario who welcomed the clearer standards, the plain English of this curriculum, of the phase-in of this curriculum, changes to languages and maths this year, the other subject mattes of the course of this year. We have done training sessions for boards to make sure they're ready to support teachers in this role.

This curriculum change is being phased in in answer to the requests of teachers. Finally we have a curriculum that will allow them to understand, parents to understand and students to understand what is expected of them on a year-by-year basis. It will be successfully introduced starting next week right across Ontario. It's a welcome change not only to parents and students but also to teachers. The member for Fort William needs to get out and talk to some teachers and find out how receptive they are to this curriculum change.



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is for the Minister of Health. Perhaps you're aware of the recently released report from the SEIU and CUPE dignity campaign. The report details the response of nurses and nurses' aides to questions regarding quality of care in long-term-care facilities. Minister, 94% of the respondents report a significant decline in the quality of care since you removed the minimum standard of 2.25 hours per day of nursing care per resident.

At the same time the care is deteriorating in nursing homes because of your decisions, you're increasing their load because of the closure of chronic care beds. More of our seniors are in nursing homes. They arrive there sicker, with greater requirements, and they're not getting the care they deserve. If you read this report, it will make your heart ache. The situation is deplorable and is getting worse every day all across Ontario. The situation is urgent. I ask you, what are you going to do today?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I'm very much aware of the report. I read it because I value the opinions of the front-line workers in our almost 500 long-term-care facilities.

First of all, the 2.25 hours, which was a slough to the unions given by the previous government, was never enforced. Many of our homes never had it, and it never applied to the almost 200 homes that are called homes for the aged and run by our counties and upper-tier municipalities. So that is a red herring. Anyone in the industry knows it; you can continue to use it.

This government moved to levels-of-care funding so that if a particular resident needs more than 2.25 hours of care, he or she will receive that. We can clearly say today that having moved to levels-of-care funding, people are getting the type of care they need rather than the cookie-cutter approach that had something to do with your social contract and your dealings with unions and not patient care. We are focusing on patients. Patients are getting the level of care.

Second, the report was done prior to our unprecedented new $100-million reinvestment just made recently which significantly --

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

Mrs Boyd: Are you saying we can have no confidence that every single patient in a long-term-care facility will have a minimum level of care? I think that's disgraceful and the people of Ontario will think that's disgraceful. You dropped the minimum standard. You are increasing the demands on the institutions and on the staff. Right now, before a single chronic care hospital is closed in the province, there are 16,000 seniors on waiting lists for placements in facilities. Your $100 million is less than a drop in the bucket.

What's even worse, Minister, and I think you know this, because you've put no limits on how those dollars are going to be used, you have no assurance that those dollars are actually going into patient care. On the contrary, because there are no rules, we know that long-term-care facilities are putting this money into paying down debts, covering workers' compensation penalties, covering sick costs, buying equipment. It is not necessarily going to improve patient care. What are you going to do to improve this situation?

Hon Mr Wilson: We've increased the level of care by moving to levels-of-care funding. Now, with the new rules, nurses from an institution down the street or in another town come in and assess every resident, and they are funded according to the level of care they need, not some cookie-cutter approach that has nothing to do with patient care.

Second, we put in 100 million new dollars with strings attached using your Bill 101 --

Mrs Boyd: No strings attached.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Absolutely none; no strings attached.

Hon Mr Wilson: You must be reading Ms Martel's weekly column in a Sudbury paper, where she has it totally wrong.

Please read my letter to the editor which was faxed yesterday, which reminds you and your colleagues of Bill 101, which brought levels-of-care funding. But rather than put a new $100 million in, you did a thing with the unions that had nothing to do with patient care. We have fully implemented your Bill 101 --

The Speaker: New question.

Hon Mr Wilson: -- which says $70 million of the $100 million must go to new hires, to new nursing and personal care hours, and the other breakdown: $10 million is to go for programming -- that's social activities, physiotherapy -- and $20 million to --

The Speaker: New question.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Over the past 10 years, government services have become costly to deliver and administer, not to mention very complex for the taxpayers of this province to understand. Our government is addressing those concerns.

Last winter the government introduced its Who Does What legislation to redefine what level of government could best deliver services to the local taxpayer. On May 1, 1997, after positive and constructive discussion with AMO, our government announced a new provincial-municipal partnership. One important component of that Who Does What announcement was the creation of a community reinvestment fund and a transition assistance fund.

Minister, municipalities in my riding would like to know when your ministry will complete the criteria for municipalities to access these funds and when they can expect to see those dollars.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'd like to thank the member for Peterborough for the very timely question. As the members know, we announced the upper-tier numbers and the effects of the transfers on August 6. We met with AMO earlier this week, and as part of that meeting there was a meeting of the two implementation teams, one for municipal affairs and one for social services. The two implementation teams are determining now the criteria for the distribution of the funds. They're also reviewing the criteria of how the numbers were developed.

I'm advised by the co-chairs of the committees that met yesterday that the meetings went extremely well. There's a lot of optimism. The Premier assured AMO that the transfer of services would be revenue-neutral. We're working on that now and the numbers should be out and should be ready probably before the end of September if all goes well.

Mr Stewart: As you can well appreciate, municipalities are working hard at restructuring and working hard on planning the types of services to be delivered next year. Can you assure me today that municipalities in my riding and in many other ridings will have enough lead time to access these transition funds in time for the January 1, 1998, implementation date?

Hon Mr Leach: Again I'd like to thank the member for Peterborough for the very excellent and very timely question, one that I know most members of this House are interested in.

Yes, I think I can assure the member that the information the municipalities will require will be available for them in time to prepare their 1998 budgets. One of the most important issues that has to be decided at this time is how the education costs are determined, and that's the one thing we've asked the municipal implementation team to deal with. Once the municipal implementation team has dealt with that very important issue, it should be relatively easy to develop the rest of the information that's required to allow municipalities to prepare their budgets.

I am quite confident that the member for Peterborough can advise the constituents in his municipalities that that information will be available in time for them to prepare their 1998 budgets.



Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It revolves around gas prices, which have certainly been on the front burner.

I want to address this as to what you can do and what we can do here in the province, not as an issue you would slough off to the federal government.

Just recently the provincial government in Newfoundland appointed a consumer advocate to take a look at gas prices in Newfoundland. That person will examine the prices in that province. When we take a look at gas prices in northern Ontario -- Dryden at 65.7 cents, Red Lake at 72.8, Fort Frances at 65.9, Ignace at 67.9 -- we see a very large discrepancy in gas prices. Minister, will you commit today to do the same here in Ontario as they've done in Newfoundland?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'll tell you what I will commit to today. I'll commit to carrying this unanimous, I believe, belief in this House that the gas prices are outrageous right now in Ontario. We require your support, to the honourable member. We'll be taking this to the provincial ministers' conference.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: This is important. I can give you a million quotes from when your government was in power and from when their government was in power in terms of how you guys did nothing. But we're going to take some steps to get the provincial ministers together to make sure that Mr Manley, your cousin in federal politics, understands what his role is. Mr Manley doesn't believe he has any responsibility. However, it's interesting what he said today and what he said in 1994 and 1995.

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

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: In 1994, Mr Manley said, "The bureau of competition policy will continue to actively monitor industry developments to keep the marketplace competitive and will enforce all relevant provisions of the Competition Act." Clearly he knows it's his responsibility --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

Mr Miclash: Let me go on. Today I spoke to the people in Sandy Lake. They're paying $1.29 a litre for gasoline in Sandy Lake.

Minister, I have given you an opportunity to say you will appoint an advocate to take a look at the gas prices as they compare in southern Ontario to northern Ontario. Rather than saying it's someone else's fault, why don't you face up to the fact that we can do something here in Ontario and appoint an advocate? Again I call upon you. Will you appoint a consumer advocate to take a look at gas pricing across the province of Ontario?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: It's interesting how in government people seem to have very short memories. Clearly, when you people were in power you chose to do absolutely nothing.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Come on, David. Set up the commission. It's easy

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I heard one of the opposition members say, "It's easy." It was so easy that in five years you guys didn't do it. That's real easy.

I'll tell you something. Mr McTeague, MP from Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge, was kind enough to share with me his thoughts on this with respect to his government. He said: "Again I'm compelled to inform you" -- this is addressed to Mr Manley -- "in no uncertain terms that my constituents are fed up with seeing significant gas price increases based on what the major oil companies feel they can get away with." Then he says, "It's becoming quite clear it's time for our government" -- his government meaning the federal Liberal government -- "to be that voice and take action. That's why I'm asking again for a full inquiry into the oil industry to examine the root causes." We agree with that. We'll be taking that to the provincial ministers' conference.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Minister of Health.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I saw the door open, and here he is. Go ahead, member for Sudbury East.

Ms Martel: I have a question regarding your funding for long-term-care facilities, Minister. On June 30 you promised, "We are putting the residents' needs first by increasing the amount of nursing care they receive and adding new funding for care for other professionals such as physiotherapists."

In July, Extendicare York in Sudbury received $793,000 as part of your funding. Imagine the surprise of the residents and staff when the administrator advised that of the $793,000 received, only $64,700 would be spent on staff to provide more care. This is a facility where at least six part-time CUPE health care workers are still on layoff from 1996; 26 part-time and 17 full-time health care workers are still on reduced hours since March 1997. The residents at Extendicare York aren't going to see any new increased care. They're not even getting back to the levels they had before March 1997.

The Speaker: Question, please.

Ms Martel: Can you explain to the residents how their needs are being put first when the gap between --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): The specifics for that particular home, Extendicare York: It did receive about $500,000 of the $100 million, and $230,000 has been spent on hiring new full-time care workers. We checked this as a result of your call; we checked it and doublechecked it this morning. Some $30,000 has been spent on hiring part-time care workers, four of them -- that's four full-time, four part-time -- and $75,000 has been spent ensuring that staffing levels remain constant when employees call in sick. Apparently that was a particular problem up there that you've complained about in the past. Now they're able to correct it with 75,000 new dollars.

Some of the $500,000 -- to be precise, $140,000 -- was spent on WCB premiums that provide full coverage for the workers, something that your party traditionally used to agree with. An additional $20,000 was spent on new equipment that's designed to reduce the number of work-related injures; for example, lifting equipment.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Wilson: This reinvestment is designed to cut down on workers' injuries, so I don't know how you can be opposed to that.

That is what they are spending their money on. That is what we're sending the cheques for.

Ms Martel: The facility received $793,000. That comes from information I got from your long-term-care division in Sudbury. I got it for that facility and for the other three. That's where the amount comes from. The information with respect to $64,000 comes from a meeting that was held with the union and the administrator, and I will send you a copy of that, Minister.

The fact of the matter is, of the $793,000 that they had received at the beginning of July, only $64,000 will go on to staff. The reason for that is that in making your announcement, you did not put one condition, one rule, one policy in place to ensure that the money would directly go to more staff for more resident care. This administrator, like administrators in the 494 other facilities, will be able to use money to pay for WCB penalties, will be able to use money to recoup sick leave because so many staff are being hurt because they're understaffed.

The Speaker: Question, please.

Ms Martel: It will be used on supplies and will be used, as in this case, on profit, because of the profit envelope for profit centres. These residents will not see increased care.

What guarantee are you going to give them that you're going to put a condition in place --

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'll once again check with the same office that the honourable member claims to have checked with and we checked with this morning. We'll just doublecheck it. But the law is clear. I invite you to go to the library and get a copy of your law, Bill 101.

Under Bill 101, 70% of this money -- because we fully enacted the bill, which you left in abeyance, by the way, untouched until we got to office -- is to go to increased staffing, more hours of care; 20% is going to accommodation, to improve the buildings, because we know some of our buildings are below standard in the province, and that will be bring them up significantly, and dietary services, and 10% is for programming, social activities and physiotherapy.

That's where the money is to go under the law. If the honourable member has evidence that the law is being broken, we will fully investigate that. I take her comments at face value because she's an honourable member and I endeavoured to check right down to the penny exactly how this particular home is spending its money. I've done that. I will triplecheck the facts.



Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As all members of the House will know, Ontario wines are among the best in the world. Many of them are made right in my area of Niagara.

Recently, Minister, you were in the area to make an announcement that our wineries would be able to bottle 100% imported wine. This was good news. Wineries in other provinces have been able to do this for quite some time. My question to you is, how will this affect production of Ontario wines and the excellent reputation Ontario wines have achieved?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I thank the member for Niagara Falls for that question. He clearly knows, as do other members from the Niagara area, of the fine reputation Ontario wines have. In fact, over the course of the last several years they have won various gold medals, from Vinexpo, VinItaly, from the International Wine and Spirits Competition in England. There is a very bright future for wines in Ontario.

The bottling of foreign wines is really a complementary activity to the wine industry. As you probably know, this is a temporary measure, because under the internal trade agreement, on January 1, 2000, other provinces that bottle 100% foreign wine will have access to Ontario markets. This gives our wineries the opportunity to compete before the market is fully open. It makes some sense, considering that the wineries in Ontario create jobs in Ontario, and it boosts the ancillary industries that provide us with the glass, the packaging. It's good news for the Niagara region. I think all members agree that boosting and helping our wine industry is a good thing.

Mr Maves: As the minister knows, the quality of grapes in Ontario, especially in the Niagara region, has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. I wonder what impact this will have on Ontario grape growers.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'm happy to report that when we embarked upon this initiative, the very first meeting we had was attended by the Ontario Wine Council but also by the Ontario grape growers. This was very important for us, to make sure they maintain the support for the grape-growing industry in Ontario.

I must tell you that Mr Neufeld, the chair of the Ontario Grape Growers' Marketing Board, was enthusiastic about the event. He attended the event in Niagara and said: "It will bring in extra cash, make use of equipment which is often standing idle. It should also create spinoffs for other industries, such as producers of glass, labels and boxes, and help to create jobs." He also said that anything that strengthens the wine industry is good for the grape growers.

This is an opportunity for Ontario wineries to actually make some inroads into the imported wine area, to maintain and of course enhance our share of the domestic market. As I said before, the initiative will create jobs, protect jobs certainly, but enhance the industry in the Niagara region. It's good news.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.You spoke before AMO this week. We have had an ongoing discussion about the costs associated with downloading social housing to municipalities. We believe that in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars associated with the operating cost there will be even further cost increases downloaded to municipalities with respect to the state of capital repairs to municipal housing.

Can you provide the House today and municipalities across this province with your estimate of the capital costs associated with bringing public housing projects to up to date, particularly in Toronto, just in terms of the building code and the fire code?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The government has set up a group, a review team, to go out and review social housing and come up with that estimate of required costs.

I can tell the member that we have set out $215 million in the budget this year to start those repairs. There is an additional $100 million available from the federal government and the province to keep up ongoing repairs.

There isn't any doubt that the state of repair of our social housing in the province of Ontario is dismal. For the last 10 years it has been allowed to deteriorate and rot away while the two previous governments did absolutely nothing about it. We're putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the repair of social housing. We'll continue those social housing repairs until they actually become liveable for those people who have to live in them.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and deals with gas prices.

"Whereas we, the consumers, feel gas prices are too high throughout Ontario;

"Whereas we, the consumers, support the Ontario Liberal caucus's attempt to have the Mike Harris government introduce predatory gas pricing legislation;

"Whereas we, the consumers, want the Mike Harris government to act so that the consumer can get a break at the pumps rather than going broke at them;

"Whereas we, the consumers, are fuming at being hosed at the pumps and want Mike Harris to gauge our anger;

"Whereas we, the consumers, want Mike Harris to know we want to be able to go to the pumps and fill our gas tanks without emptying our pockets;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to introduce predatory gas pricing legislation in order to control the amount of money we, the consumers, are forced to pay at the gas pumps, or to appoint a commission to investigate these prices, or to appoint a consumer advocate to ensure that pricing is fair."

Of course, I affix my signature to this petition.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I'm submitting a petition today that was sent to me by Linda Beatty, who is a member of CUPE 994, a caretaker for the City of York Board of Education. She has collected 690 signatures on this petition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"Whereas outsourcing of non-instructional jobs such as school secretaries, clerical, caretaker-maintenance, audio-visual technicians, computer technicians, educational assistants and cleaners, will result in chaos and poor service and limited savings, if any;

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

"Whereas, in Bill 136, non-instructional staff are being denied the same rights to bargain for decent working conditions;

"Therefore, we would request that Bill 136 be withdrawn and any future legislation include input from employee groups."

I'm in full agreement and have affixed my signature to these petitions.


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north, fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax."

I support this petition and therefore I will sign it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by 123 residents of Ontario. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas many questions concerning the events preceding, during and after the fatal shooting of Anthony Dudley George on September 6, 1995, at Ipperwash Provincial Park, where over 200 armed officers were sent to control 25 unarmed men and women have not been answered:

"Whereas the officers involved in the beating of Bernard George were not held responsible for their actions;

"Whereas the Ontario Provincial Police refused to cooperate with the Special Investigations Unit in recording the details that night;

"Whereas the influence and communications of Lambton MPP Marcel Beaubien with the government have been verified through transcripts presented in the Legislature;

"Whereas the trust of the portfolio of native affairs held by Attorney General Charles Harnick is compromised by his continual refusal for a full public inquiry into the events at Ipperwash;

"Whereas the promised return of Camp Ipperwash to the Stony Point Nation by the federal Ministry of Defence and the serious negotiations of land claims by both the provincial and federal governments could have avoided a conflict;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for a full public inquiry to be held into the events surrounding the fatal shooting of Dudley George on September 6, 1995, to eliminate all misconceptions held by and about the government, the OPP and the Stony Point people."

I have signed the petition.



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax does not recognize the uniqueness of the north; and

"Whereas Mike Harris should know that gas prices are higher in northern Ontario; and

"Whereas the new Mike Harris northern vehicle registration tax is blatantly unfair to the north; and

"Whereas we have no voice for the north, fighting for northerners around the cabinet table;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to revoke the new tax imposed on the north and convince the Tory government to understand that northern Ontario residents do not want the new Mike Harris vehicle registration tax which takes effect on September 1."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition which reads:

"We, the undersigned, residents of Ontario, draw your attention to the following:

"That over 70% of persons with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C through the use of blood-derived treatment products. With hepatitis C as with HIV, the same institutional players of the blood system failed to respond to the identified risk of transmission, failed to properly notify people of the potential risk of exposure, failed to implement safety measures to lessen the risk of transmission, that is, the failure of the Red Cross to implement surrogate testing for hepatitis C for over four years, and now continue to deny any responsibility for these failures.

"That the representatives of Hemophilia Ontario and its hepatitis C task force have been advocating for financial compensation to those individuals who have been infected with hepatitis C through the Canadian blood system. The provincial Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, has three times cancelled meetings with Hemophilia Ontario, and the provincial and territorial ministers of health have publicly stated that they intend to keep the issue of hepatitis C compensation off their agenda in future meetings; and

"Further, that the only prescribed treatment for hepatitis C in Ontario is alpha interferon, which has a less than 25% success rate in clearing the virus among people who have had one exposure to the virus. Many haemophiliacs were repeatedly exposed to the hepatitis C virus through the use of blood-derived treatment products. The response to interferon therapy in haemophiliacs with chronic HCV infection is poor and appears inferior to that of other groups of infected patients. In view of the generally poor response to interferon therapy in haemophiliacs, treatment with interferon is inappropriate in the majority of individuals, according to an article in Blood magazine, volume 87, number 5, March 1996.

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon you to meet with representatives of Hemophilia Ontario's hepatitis C task force now to discuss issues related to compensation."

I have many, many of these petitions. They are, unfortunately, not correctly addressed and I will be passing them on as I get them to the Minister of Health.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 142, An Act to revise the law related to Social Assistance by enacting the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, by repealing the Family Benefits Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act and by amending several other Statutes / Projet de loi 142, Loi révisant la loi relative à l'aide sociale en édictant la Loi sur le programme Ontario au travail et la Loi sur le Programme ontarien de soutien aux personnes handicapées, en abrogeant la Loi sur les prestations familiales, la Loi sur les services de réadaptation professionnelle et la Loi sur l'aide sociale générale et en modifiant plusieurs autres lois.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): When we finished the discussion of this the last time around, I had indicated that one of the biggest concerns that we have and that those who work with people on social assistance have is the impossibility of really gauging what is meant by this bill.

This bill again and again relies on what in the legislation is called "prescribed measures," "prescribed guidelines," "prescribed limits," and the reality is that virtually everything is left up to regulation, and that creates real anxiety among those whose very lives depend upon the provisions of this new act. I think there is a willingness, in fact I know there is a willingness, on the part of many people in Ontario to want to believe that what the minister has created in this act is going to be a better system.

I do not think there are many recipients or many agencies who deal with social assistance all the time who would not agree that there needed to be some change and in particular there needed to be some change that would clearly identify the rights of those who are disabled and provide them with greater security.

I think when we talk about an act and we raise issues that concern us, it's important to understand that those issues are being raised because there are real questions and real fears and because the act in and of itself does not answer many of the questions that have arisen.

I said when I began my speech that I wanted to actually read into the record the sections of the bill that pertain to regulation-making because I think it will be evident immediately to anyone listening that everything in this bill is left up in the air and that basically by this bill the government has perpetuated the ability of the Lieutenant Governor in Council in some cases, the minister in other cases, the administrator or director of the program in other cases, to make arbitrary decisions that affect the lives of individuals.

Let me start with schedule A of the bill. I think it's important for people to know that the actual bill itself, as is common with this government, is only two pages long. Basically, it repeals the bills that are going to be repealed and talks about schedules A, B, C, D and E and then each individual piece is part of a schedule, which I think is rather interesting in and of itself.

But in schedule A, section 74, the regulation section, let me just read it because I think it proves our case:

"The Lieutenant Governor in Council" -- and for those who aren't aware of the language, that means the cabinet of the day -- "may make regulations,

"1. prescribing the persons to be included in a benefit unit;"

This means that the regulations will say who comprises a benefit unit. Whether it includes dependent children, whether it includes every member of the family who's living together or not, the regulations will prescribe that.

"2. respecting the determination of budgetary requirements, income and assets and the maximum value of assets permitted;"

People need to know that at the drop of a hat, with no warning, the cabinet of the day can change the budgetary requirements, what is considered to be the basic life-sustaining requirements of individuals on social assistance, their "income and assets and the maximum value of assets permitted."

"3. respecting the determination of the amount of assistance to be provided and the time and manner of providing it, including who is eligible to receive the assistance and how to determine what portion of assistance is provided with respect to each person;"

That means, in passing this bill, we have no idea what the parameters are of what will be deemed to be by a cabinet of the day the appropriate level of income and to whom it is to go.


"4. respecting the employment assistance and the standards delivery agents must meet in providing employment assistance;"

This is extremely important because of course the whole supposed raison d'être of this bill is to get people back to work, to give them assistance to get back into the workforce. But we don't know what the standards are going to be or what the guidelines are going to be. We don't know what the level of support is going to be, and certainly the record of this government in putting workfare into place has been abysmal to this point.

"5. respecting standards and conditions of community participation activities;"

This is particularly worrying because while I think most people would agree that it is beneficial for people who are dependent upon social assistance to become more active in their communities, to be part of that community, to feel more hooked in, to get some of the supports from the community, we also know that it is very difficult at this point to get community agencies to feel comfortable about this program because they don't know what the standards and conditions are going to be regarding community participation activities and they don't know how they are going to be required to administer these.

"6. respecting income assistance and determining who may be eligible for income assistance;"

Same problem -- all up in the air: Who's going to be eligible? That of course is the real concern that people have, that the eligibility requirements are going to be tightened and tightened and tightened to the point where many people will live in need and will in fact fall into an irreversible cycle of poverty.

"7. respecting the items, services and payments that may be included as benefits and determining who may be eligible for benefits;

"8. respecting emergency assistance and determining who may be eligible for emergency assistance;

"9. respecting the conditions of eligibility for assistance including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

"(i) additional conditions relating to eligibility for assistance," -- that's a worrying one because if there are general eligibility ones, this enables them to add at the drop of a hat additional eligibility conditions and not necessarily to do that to the whole class of recipients;

"(ii) information to be provided, including the time and manner of providing that information, verification of that information and home visits,

"(iii) changes in circumstances,

"(iv) the disposition of property,

"(v) the obligation to satisfy participation requirements related to employment measures and community participation,

"(vi) the obligation to obtain compensation or to realize a financial resource,"

Do we understand that this means that people may be forced to sell assets that, if realized at a time that we don't know, may in fact disadvantage them? "The obligation to obtain compensation." Will people be forced to enter into litigation with the insurance company of the person whose car has disabled them in the first place without any kind of assistance? We don't know.

"(vii) requirements to reimburse delivery agents and to give assignments to delivery agents,"

That is rather bothersome and you will find out later on why it's so bothersome because it prescribes the way in which people may have to repay the assistance that they received when they subsequently manage to get a job, and we'll talk about why that may be a real concern.

"(viii) a person's status in the country."

Given the furore that is arising over the whole issue of the new immigrants from Czechoslovakia, when we hear about this person's status in the country, any cabinet -- we aren't just talking about this cabinet; this means any cabinet of the day -- can make requirements around the status of persons in the country; in other words, make eligibility very, very much dependent on the status in the country. We know there are many people who wait many, many months to receive the attention of the immigration department, and it is not in any of our best interests to see those people without some income during that period of time.

"10. respecting the termination of residence in Ontario;"

There had been a provision, as you know, that people were supposed to have some sense of universal portability of benefits. What we know respecting the determination of residency is that this allows the possibility for people to determine whether someone is resident in Ontario if they, for example, were outside of the province for a very limited period of time. We don't know what it means. We're not sure, and we would like to know.

"11. prescribing classes of persons who are not eligible for assistance;"

That's an interesting one. It has always been a worry when that kind of language is there in terms of regulation, because the classes of people who are not eligible, never eligible, never able to apply, could change as a result of a cabinet decree.

"12. respecting the provision and delivery of emergency hostel services, including funding, authority of delivery agents to contract with third parties to provide those services, the minimum standards and conditions to be included in such agreements and maximum daily amounts to be cost shared;"

Of course there needs to be regulation of hostels. One of the things that is upsetting many people in the province so much is that this government, through its rent control decontrol legislation, is removing the protection that people in hostels had under the Landlord and Tenant Act. So this is a very important section.

I repeat that it is similar to the kinds of powers of regulation that were in the current legislation. I repeat that the problem with these is that reform of the social assistance system ought to have been built on a much more transparent, much more reliable system than a system that allows these standards and regulations to be changed at whim, from day to day, by the government in power.

"13. respecting the determination of financial need for the purposes of section 10;"

Normally this is always a power that is there, because from time to time things change, but it certainly is a worry when we have a large body of neo-conservative literature that challenges the accepted levels of need for basic survival in this country in a very substantial way. I refer of course to some of the materials coming out of the Fraser Institute, Mr David Frum's articles and a number of other neo-con writers who challenge the accepted poverty levels, the accepted standards around what it means to be a poor person, what basic need is.

"14. respecting the powers of an administrator with respect to liens, and the process for securing and discharging a lien."

One of the elements in this is that of those people in need who have been deemed to be eligible for assistance, one of the provisions of this act would allow the administrator to put a lien on their home. Many people don't understand that there are those who fall into poverty after they have managed to purchase that primary home. Any other property has always been subject to the asset requirements of social assistance. But this bill gives the opportunity to the administrator to put a lien on someone's home if they are unfortunate enough to fall into a situation where they are required to rely upon social assistance. If they become able to be productive again, if they have to move to follow a job, the lien can be called in and they will lose some of their equity in that property.


There is a real concern about what the long-term implications of that process might be, because we all know of many cases where it is cheaper for the government to keep people in their own home because the cost is lower than it is to rent a property in a similar place, particularly if, as we all hope, this kind of process is a temporary poverty issue, not a long-term issue; although I might say that the same power is there in terms of a home owned by a disabled person. I'll talk more about that later.

"15. respecting applications for basic financial assistance and the information to be included in an application;"

In other words, regulation can determine what can be asked of an applicant, what amount of information is there.

"16. requiring applications and other documents to be prepared in a form and manner approved by the director;

"17. respecting the consequences of failing to satisfy a condition of eligibility including fixing periods of ineligibility;"

What's anticipated by this is that if someone were to become ineligible for some reason -- say perhaps they didn't provide, in exactly the time required, the information that was requested -- they could be disallowed for any period of time. There's no fix in the legislation on that; it's all up to regulation.

Those of us who run constituency offices know that with the tightening down of the family benefits plan in the last few months, the requirement is that people have their information in the hands of the family benefits administrator by the 7th of the month. What we are finding is that people immediately get letters that tell them they are going to be ineligible even though the local offices agree that they get so much information in that they can't process it within the period of time.

This is a worry, because if, based on an inability to manage information -- and we know that's a big problem for this government. We saw the problem in the family support plan around trying to deal with the basic flow of information that comes in every month. You have to worry about this fixing of periods of ineligibility and doing that by regulation.

I think people understand that governments need ways to control what they perceive to be a problem, but when it is so open-ended, particularly when we are talking about a system that is there to meet the basic requirements of life, it's a worry that we don't know what this government intends or what any subsequent government could intend in terms of periods of ineligibility.

"18. respecting reinstating basic financial assistance or returning it to its former level and the procedures which apply;"

One of the biggest complaints about the welfare system in this province has always been that these kinds of regulations, the procedures that apply when someone is reapplying for eligibility, when someone wants to get back on, are seldom printed. In fact, one of the biggest problems is that it's almost a mystery to the people administering it.

What would be much more impressive here would be if there were a requirement for those kinds of regulations to be immediately available to someone who requests. They may well be available to workers, but when individuals ask for copies of regulations, it's very hard to get hold of them. One of the basic criticisms the Thomson report heard, that all of the reform folks have heard, is that having that basic information available, making sure it doesn't change rapidly from month, having it set down in a firm way, would be appropriate.

"19. prescribing the procedures to be followed in determining the need for and appointing a person to act for a recipient under section 17 and providing measures with respect to the person's accountability and reporting requirements;"

This is a very serious section. There is a provision in this bill that notwithstanding the Substitute Decisions Act, which has received a great deal of attention, notwithstanding the ability of people to try and have some control over their own lives, to be as independent as possible -- I think we hear the minister talk about that from time to time -- this bill would allow the director or the administrator to name someone to look after the money that comes from social assistance to someone simply because that person may deem the person to be incapable of looking after the money. This regulation, regulation 19 under schedule A, section 74, will determine how that happens. We don't even know what the guidelines are going to be or what the process will be, what the appeal process would be for this, because the regulations are going to determine that from time to time.

"20. providing rules for the payment of a portion of basic financial assistance for the purposes of section 18 directly to a third party;"

Here, of course, is where the minister made her promise to landlords that she would make it possible in all elements of the social assistance program for rent to be paid directly to landlords. That's what this is about, and it tells us that this is going to be subject to rules that are made by regulation. We don't know what those requirements are in the bill. That will all be up to regulations.

"21. respecting the reconciliation of overpayments among delivery agents where overpayments are owed to one delivery agent and recovered by another and respecting overpayments recovered by reason of subsection 19(3);"

This anticipates, of course, the issue that we know is very sensitive to municipalities around how they can deal with a government when they are the delivery agent for all of these things, what happens when there is a combination of delivery agents, and that is certainly quite a possibility in terms of one municipality to another and the transition phases.

"22. respecting the information to be included in a notice of decision regarding an overpayment, the calculation and recovery of overpayments and the maximum amounts which may be deducted from basic financial assistance when recovering an overpayment;"

This is extremely important, because one of the issues in this bill is that the delivery agent may, but is not required to, as I read the act, provide the information around overpayment. This particular regulation is talking about how all this comes about, how it's calculated, but the act itself does not provide that the person receiving the overpayment is made aware of that necessarily. The delivery agent may, but is not required to.

"23. prescribing debts for the purposes of subsection 23(2) and the priority of recovery of those debts;"

This is a worry, because it anticipates that the government would put itself first in the line of creditors. That's what's implied here, that where there is a recovery of debts -- and under this act, of course, there is a provision that if someone receives social assistance and subsequently gets work, they may be required to pay a portion or all of the assistance that they received under this act. This is quite a switch when we think about basic subsistence levels.

"24. prescribing additional matters that may be appealed under this act;"

There are very few things under this act that can be appealed. One of the biggest concerns that people have is that the appeal mechanism has certainly been greatly changed and there are very, very few elements that can be appealed. This will actually allow additional elements to be appealed, but we don't know what those might be or whether they would be allowed.

"25. respecting the requirement for and procedures to be followed in conducting an internal review;"

It's good that there are going to be internal reviews. One assumes those are internal reviews of the process of the delivery agent or the process of the government in making its transfer payments, but it would be nice to know what the standards are going to be now.


"26. prescribing the time within which an internal review may be requested and, if requested, to be completed;

"27. prescribing the time within which an appeal to the tribunal may be filed;"

Is it going to be like so many of the other acts that this government has put forward, where the time frames are so short that people do not have an opportunity to inform themselves, to avail themselves of assistance and to meet those deadlines? I talk about the rent control legislation where again and again delegations told us: "Those time limits are too short. They do not allow the kind of time to tenants to be able to appeal a decision, to be able to have the forms sent.

"29. respecting the requirement to record evidence whether by transcript or notes of members taken at a hearing;" This is kind of important because --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I wish we could get that from the Premier on Ipperwash.

Mrs Boyd: Exactly. It would be nice if we could get it from the Premier on Ipperwash.

This means that the cabinet will decide what due process is in terms of the recording of notes at a hearing. I don't think that's appropriate. I think this act should spell out that it is the right of someone to have notes or to have a transcript taken in a way that then they can look at it and have access to it so that they can know what was actually said.

"30. respecting the record of proceedings for the purposes of proceedings before a court;"

The same issue. If people are not able to get the information, if there is no record, how on earth are you to have due process?

"31. prescribing the classes of appeals to which delivery agents must give notice to the director;

"32. respecting the determination of interim assistance for the purposes of section 30;"

This is a big issue, because where there are long waits in order to get a determination of the appropriate eligibility or the appropriate level of assistance, often interim assistance is granted because this is subsistence assistance. The whole purpose behind it is to make sure that people aren't starving in the streets. This allows the determination of interim assistance.

"33. prescribing the period within which a new appeal is not permitted for the purposes of subsection 34(2);"

Here we are again. This is going to be prescribed by regulation. It isn't in the act. From time to time it can be changed, and from time to time we know that regulations are not always communicated to those to whom they apply. We are in for, I would suspect, some real difficulties around flow of information.

"34. respecting the powers and duties of a delivery agent for the purposes of this act;"

This is extremely important because in negotiating a download of responsibilities for the family benefits plan on to the municipalities and the municipalities taking on the delivery of these programs, it is essential to know what those standards are going to be, what the standards and guidelines, what the powers and duties of a delivery agent are. How can we discuss and pass a bill when we're buying a pig in a poke? We don't know what the agreements between the government and the delivery agents are going to be. We don't know what those standards of delivery are going to be and we don't even know at this point in time whether even the most basic flow of information is going to be required in terms of this act.

"35. respecting the costs incurred under this act to which cost-sharing should apply and providing for how they are to be shared, including the apportioning of those costs among Ontario municipalities and persons living in territory without municipal organization, and prescribing the municipalities to which cost-sharing applies;"

If I were a municipal politician, I'd be saying: "This is not going to be set out anywhere except in regulation? The government makes regulation by itself, not necessarily with consultation with me, and the regulation could be changed around the cost-sharing of this program?" I think there are a lot of municipalities that are expressing great concern about the download of responsibility and what it's going to cost them to administer the new responsibilities that are being handed to them by the province. If I were a municipal politician I'd be saying, "I want the cost-sharing set down in the legislation, the 80-20 cost-sharing that's been promised, not in a regulation."

"36. respecting the determination of cost estimates and actual costs and the reconciliation of them and respecting reserves for working funds;"

Municipalities, sit up and take notice, because all of this is going to be part of regulation.

"37. respecting the determination of the amounts Ontario shall pay to delivery agents and delivery agents shall pay to Ontario and the methods of determining those amounts, providing for the manner in which and the intervals at which payments shall be made, for the suspension or withholding of amounts payable by Ontario or part of them and for making deductions from them;"

We've already heard how sensitive municipalities are about the way this government has been treating them. I'd be worried if I were them that this was going to be left up to regulation and can be changed any time.

"38. respecting the apportionment among municipalities in a geographic area of their share of the delivery agent's costs incurred under this act and, for the purpose, prescribing the municipalities that must share in that apportionment and the manner in which that share shall be recovered;"

This isn't going to be done by negotiation with the municipalities. This is going to be done by regulation by the cabinet.

"39. providing for the recovery by Ontario from a delivery agent of any amounts paid by Ontario under this act for which the delivery agent is liable or for the recovery by Ontario or a delivery agent from a recipient of assistance or from his or her estate of amounts paid by Ontario or the delivery agent under this act, and prescribing the circumstances and manner in which any such recovery may be made;"

The anticipation here is that the cabinet of the day will make a determination about this issue of cost recovery, both from delivery agents and from recipients.

"40. prescribing additional powers and duties of administrators and the director and providing for the manner in which administrators shall exercise their powers and duties;"

The biggest complaint about this act is that the director and the administrators have far too much power already under this act, and power that cannot be appealed. But this provision allows the prescribing of additional powers.

"41. respecting agreements between the director and delivery agents and between delivery agents and third parties;"

Third parties? What third parties? Is this going to allow municipalities to contract out the delivery of their services once they have an agreement with the ministry? Is this going to allow the delivery agents to give third parties the ability to administer this act and share the information? It certainly is anticipated in the act, if you read it, because of the way the information-sharing portions of the bill go on.

"42. prescribing the powers and duties of eligibility review officers and family support workers and providing for the manner in which they shall exercise their powers and duties;"

Given the extraordinary powers that these people have under this new act, it would be a comfort to have some idea at least of what those powers and duties are going to be, and also how they're going to work.

One of the real concerns about downloading the responsibility to every area is that there will be an inequitable provision of support to recipients across the province. We already know that under the general welfare assistance the way in which municipalities treat welfare recipients varies remarkably from one municipality to another. One of the biggest concerns about the province allowing all these multiple delivery systems for these kinds of assistance is that the inequity, that unevenness, has an opportunity to really abound, so it is really important that we have some idea of how strong these standards are going to be and of how they are going to be administered, how they are going to be evaluated, how we can be sure that where delivery agents do not respect the rights of recipients in the appropriate way, do not deliver in the way that's envisioned by the guidelines of the government, what the mechanism is for dealing with that.


Paragraph 43 talks about the "rules of application to members of bands living on reserves...including the provision, delivery, administration of funding of assistance and prescribing the reserves or geographic areas to which those rules apply.

"44. respecting the giving of notice for the purposes of this act;"

As I said before, there are many areas where it is not necessary for a recipient to get a notice where one would expect they would be notified.

Mr Wildman: In other words, they'd just be surprised.

Mrs Boyd: They'd get a surprise in the mail, that's right, or get a surprise when the cheque comes, because they don't even know it's going to be smaller.

"45. respecting the subrogation rights under section 70;

"46. prescribing the powers and duties to which the penalty in section 76 may apply and the rules for determining the penalty to be imposed for each power or duty and the manner in which that penalty is to be recovered;

"47. defining any word or expression used in this act that has not been defined in this act;"

There's an interesting one, particularly given the languaging that this government does, as Mr Snobelen would say, where words mean very different things than in normal usage. One wonders about that provision.

"48. prescribing any matter referred to in this act as prescribed;"

I went through and I started marking off the number of times it said "the prescribed action by the prescribed person in the prescribed way." The act itself doesn't tell us how this whole system is going to work. We have to wait until the regulations are made, and we have to remember that regulations can be changed at the drop of a hat, at the whim of the government in power.

That's what the cabinet can do. That's a lot of power. But listen to what the minister, without even talking to cabinet colleagues, can do, the powers that the minister has:

"The minister may make regulations,

"1. prescribing standards a delivery agent is to meet in carrying out its functions and the procedures and practices to be followed by the delivery agent;"

In other words, the minister gets to decide, from time to time, how this whole delivery of the system is going to be working. The minister gets to designate geographic areas and delivery agents for those geographic areas for the purposes of this act. To be quite frank, I thought that power was given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council earlier on, but apparently the minister can decide that. Again, if I were a municipality in these times of download, I would be worried that the minister can do that without reference to even her cabinet colleagues.

"3. prescribing policy statements which shall be applied in the interpretation and application of this act and the regulations;"

Earlier in the act it's very clear the policy information that is there, that the appeal tribunal can only make decisions according to the policy set by the ministry, not the principles of natural justice, not able to look at the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- that's not within their powers -- only the policy statements, the policy of the minister.

"4. providing for the collection, retention, use, disclosure and safeguarding of privacy of personal information referred to in subsection (3)."

The minister makes all the rules around the sharing of information under this act, and every member of this place is aware that the kind of information that is being collected in this act is extremely sensitive, that there are very real worries about the way in which information is going to be shared and, frankly, I don't think it's very smart to put a minister responsible for making the regulations around how that's going to happen, because if there's a snafu, then that minister wears the problem.

Then, of course, here is the crux of it: The minister, not even the cabinet, but the minister gets to make a regulation under paragraph 9 of subsection (1), which may include a requirement that a person:

"(a) provide evidence permitting identification of the person by means of photographic images or encrypted biometric information; and

"(b) provide personal information about a third party that is relevant to determining the person's eligibility."

I'd like to be really clear here. This means the minister of the day is going to be responsible for this very sensitive, very controversial collection of personal information, and the minister is going to make a regulation around those requirements. The minister is also going to make a regulation under paragraph 7 of subsection (1) that may provide that some classes of benefits are mandatory and must be provided to people who are eligible and other classes of benefits are discretionary. The minister, all by herself, not prescribed, and that is a serious issue because there is no process that is involved in that, and it can change very, very rapidly.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I know this is a very complicated and important piece of legislation and I would hope that members of the House would be present to hear the debate, so I would like you to ask if there is a quorum present.

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.

The Acting Speaker: The member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I really find it passing strange that with a piece of legislation that this minister has clearly said is one of the pieces this government is most proud of, someone who is actually dealing with the legislation and going through what the real areas of concern are can't even get a quorum from government members.


The minister on her own, with no reference to cabinet, can make a decision about what classes of benefits are mandatory and what must be provided to those who are eligible and what are discretionary. That is a very serious issue, because what is required is an element of certainty in terms of a basic support plan. It's really important that people have an idea in the legislation, so that at least it requires some discussion before we change what is discretionary and what is mandatory, not leave it up to a minister, any minister.

Subsection (6) provides for the ability of the minister to determine periods of ineligibility for assistance with respect to failure to comply with or meet different conditions of eligibility and with respect to repeated failures to comply. Again, it seemed to me that that was given to the Lieutenant Governor in Council, but this is specific under paragraph 17 of subsection (1). So it appears that under that subsection and that paragraph the minister has particular abilities to make regulation. Similarly, under (6) the minister "may provide for a period of ineligibility as a result of a person's conviction of an offence or crime in relation to the receipt of social assistance."

If the issue here is to try and provide deterrents for fraud, and certainly this government has made a very big deal out of the necessity to prevent fraud, surely the range of periods of ineligibility should be right in the act so people know that you're serious about this, not left up to regulation. One of the issues we faced again and again in talking about social assistance reform was this issue about how the rules change from day to day. How can you be sure what is what? The confusion around what is the right thing to do, what is the wrong thing to do, is exactly what has been pinpointed again and again by advocates, because the rules can change. When the minister makes the rules, as opposed to even the Lieutenant Governor in Council when they're gazetted, it is even more serious; it's a movable feast.

The minister makes provision for regulations under paragraph 43 of subsection (1) in terms of first nation regulations, and "A provision in a regulation made under paragraph 43, subsection (1) prevails over a provision in this act if the regulation so provides." Does that mean that for native people this act means a totally different thing than it does for the rest of the citizens of this province? It certainly sounds like it to me.

The minister, for purposes of this act and the regulations, has the ability to make a regulation to "give an entity designated as a delivery agent powers for the purposes of this act and, if it does so, that regulation prevails over provisions in or under any other act that might limit those powers." In other words, the minister has the ability to make a regulation, and that regulation prevails over any other act or any other regulation. It sounds pretty arbitrary to me.

The minister may make a regulation under this section that "may be general or particular in its application." In other words, it's quite possible for a minister to make a regulation that wouldn't apply to everyone or wouldn't apply in every similar circumstance but could apply just to a particular circumstance -- again an element of arbitrariness.

"Retroactive effect

"(11) A regulation made under this section is, if it so provides, effective with respect to a period before it is filed."

In other words, the minister, having been informed about a situation that she doesn't like, can change the rule and in the rule make it retroactive to apply to something that wasn't an offence or wasn't in place before. What kind of due process is that?

Despite that section on retroactivity, it says that "no provision in a regulation that imposes a penalty or sanction or decreases assistance may be retroactive." That's a relief. That means the individual recipient can't be disadvantaged by that, but what about the delivery agents? What about this issue around the minister being able to determine what the area is and what happens in terms of retroactivity? I don't know, and we won't find out.

Those are the regulating powers. It's very serious that this is under the general social assistance provisions. But one of the things this minister is saying is that this act is different because it's going to create a very special circumstance for the disabled, is going to improve the lot of the disabled, is going to make sure that those who are already experiencing real difficulty in our society, who are really disadvantaged because of the barriers their particular disability presents in terms of their ability to live successfully and independently in the community, to be a contributing member of the community -- those regulations apply similarly to the disabled.

The whole issue about the lien on the house: The minister made a big deal about how parents of disabled children will be able to be sure that their child is more secure. Certainly there's an improvement in the level of assets, or a promise of an improvement in the level of assets, that can be willed to a child in terms of trust funds, in terms of the ability for parents to assist with assistive devices or to assist in terms of quality of life. Yes, there is in this act some provision for that, and that has been asked for for a long time by the disabled themselves, by their parents, by their advocates. That is good.

But the provision is still here, in the Ontario disability support program, for liens to be against a home for a payback of benefits when someone is able to reimburse the system, for a requirement for assignment of other benefits. That creates uncertainty around what it really means in terms of being an adequate provision for the disabled.

Probably the most serious issue, from my perspective as the parent of a disabled child, is that the entire schedule B, the entire thing, when it talks about employment supports -- remember, this is a very important part of this whole section in terms of making things better for those with disabilities, that there are going to be employment supports; the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act is being revoked and there are going to be employment supports for the disabled.

What do we find? We're not seeing employment supports for the disabled for anything but competitive employment. Yes, there are disabled people who are able to engage in competitive employment, sometimes full-time for most of their career lives, and yes, they need these supports to assist them. But the vast majority of disabled people, either at some point in their time or forever, are unable to compete in what is normally defined as competitive employment. They need ongoing supports to compete in employment.

We know that's true. Any of you who have talked to community living associations, any of you who have talked to those who work with acquired brain injury people, they will tell you that people are able to work, are able to contribute a bit to their own support. But the likelihood of their being able to work in competitive employment, being able to be as productive as someone without a disability, is very questionable.


One of the reasons there has been so much concern around the vocational rehabilitation program as it exists today -- and the minister is right that it has not necessarily been a particularly successful program -- has been that it wasn't necessarily focused on the way to help people work to the extent of their ability within the community.

We know in many of our communities there have been great controversies over whether the kinds of projects in sheltered workshops, for example, are really helping people gain the skills that can take them to the next stage of employment or whether people are being exploited, because when they become good at a particular bit of work, they're kept there because they're more productive than some of the folks who need the experience. We know there has been a lot of concern about that.

This act is talking about competitive employment. It says it again and again. It says nothing about supportive employment, it says "competitive" employment. I would say to the members opposite that I don't think that's your intention. I think you need to be really careful around this. We all have examples in our constituencies of people who can participate in employment but not necessarily compete with others who don't have those disabilities. We need to be aware that if we're changing this whole program, we may be making it impossible for those people to be as productive as they are even today, and that would be a real concern.

We have a program in London called the leads program, which is a supportive employment program where people are given job coaching. One of the experiences there is that when you find someone a job, you find an employer who is willing to have that person on the job and you job-coach that person, in many cases they will be able to become adequately productive to maintain that job for a while, but they may need a little refresher course as time goes on in terms of that job coaching.

Will this provide for that? Advocates for the disabled are afraid it does not. They are afraid this is going to be like a one-shot deal. One of the realities for disabled people is that very often their abilities fluctuate with the state of their health, with the state of stress upon them, with many other aspects of life that may make them more able to work at one point than they are at others.

It is a great comfort to someone like me, whose child has multiple sclerosis, to have a program in place that recognizes the cyclical nature of that disease and other diseases. We know there are times in a person's life when they're able to work, sometimes even work competitively, and other times in their life when they become unable to work and their income may end very abruptly. The same is true for people, for example, who have hepatitis C or who have AIDS or even those who have some kinds of work-related injuries, some who have acquired brain injuries.

Those fluctuations are anticipated to be looked after in this bill, and that's good in terms of basic income support. That's the best part of this bill for those of us who worry about that cyclical nature, worry about the constant having to go and get reassessed, not necessarily by somebody who is an expert in the field. The ability to become registered, to have a very clear assurance that should you have no income, you have a recourse that's very quick and that you're not going to go through a period of extended stress right when you're not well enough to deal with it, that is a very good part of this bill. But it is not clear to those of us who are familiar with that kind of cyclical situation whether, as people go through those cycles, they're always going to be able to access assistance to competitive employment as they come in and out of those cycles and what that would mean.

How does that actually work? Is it assistive devices in terms of the workplace? Does it assist the employer to adjust the workplace? Does it include transportation? Does it include the provision for people to be able to take medications at work? That is something that often gets forgotten. Is it something that will enable people to have a flexible work time rather than be forced into a schedule that doesn't enable them to be competitive? Those are all questions that are here. I'd like to hear a bit of information from the government. I know when we go out to hearings you will be getting a lot of questions about what that means in terms of employment supports.

If it simply means a very small range of supports, as it often has done in the past under vocational rehabilitation, you won't have resolved the problems for a lot of people. Particularly with the difficulties the disabled are finding around transportation, with the cutbacks in the transportation that is available to them, the issue around transportation is particularly important to them.

I find it difficult to think that, given the way this government talks about social assistance recipients and the suspicion with which they are regarded and the assumption that everyone who is on the system is prepared at every moment to defraud the system, the same regulations about identification for those who are disabled apply as apply to those who are supposedly on short-term assistance, for a short period of time. That is a very difficult thing for people to swallow as part of something that is being touted to help people not to feel dependent and not to feel as though they are being stigmatized for needing assistance to live within our communities.

It is also very distressing for people to have the provisions in this act that I mentioned before, that at any given time someone administering the system could determine that they're unable to look after their own money.

Those of you who have sat on the justice committee around the Substitute Decisions Act, who have been through that whole issue around health care consent, know how important it is to disabled people to be seen to be able to make their own decisions to the extent possible. We have provisions in the statutes of Ontario when people are judged to be incapable by those who are able to make that determination. If someone is judged under the Substitute Decisions Act to be incapable of making financial decisions, there is a process. The public guardian and trustee has the ability to look after that person if there is nobody in their immediate family or nobody they've named to be able to look after their affairs.

For people who struggle with mental disability, with physical disability, who struggle with cognitive disability, one of the most important elements of independence, one of the most important parts of being a part of the community is to gradually gain the experience and the ability to make those decisions. For those who have never had an impairment that would cloud their judgement, whose bodies may not be able to do all the things you or I could do, to have the prospect that someone else could decide that they're incapable of managing their money is very offensive indeed.

I would suggest to you that this whole area needs to be rethought. There is no due process here. I know many fine people who administer social assistance now, but I would not want them to make a determination around whether I or someone I loved was capable of looking after their money. The very hallmark of independence is for people to have that ability unless they are deemed to be incapable by someone who can actually make that determination based on some form of expertise.


I certainly don't think the municipalities anticipate that the administrator of their social programs is going to be somebody who has the kind of qualifications to determine incapacity as it's suggested in all of our other provisions. Why would you leave the door open to the kind of abuses that could happen under this system, abuses not only of the determination of incapacity but of who is going to look after that person's money?

For those of you who have read the report of Ernie Lightman talking about the hostel system, talking about what happens to homeless people who have to rely on the hostel system where their cheque is handed over to the hostels and the hostels, frankly, hold them hostage in some cases -- not all, because there are some fine places -- he detailed great evidence of abuses under that system.

This provision of enabling an administrator of a program to determine that a person is incapable and then assigning someone to look after their money is a prescription for exploitation like no other I have ever seen. When people have disabilities, they are often very, very vulnerable to exploitation. The reason we have advocates for those who are cognitively impaired in many agencies across the province, a system of people who advocate on their behalf, is because of the way in which people regularly take advantage of those people. There are reasons why we have provisions to try and protect people from those who would be predatory.

I have an example: one of my constituents, a person who is looked after by the public guardian and trustee, a person who has been deemed to be incapable by all the regular processes that we have under our statutes. Even with the public guardian and trustee looking after his affairs, he had a landlord who told him that he would lose his housing if he didn't pay first and last months' rent. Of course, the public guardian and trustee had already paid first and last months' rent, paid the landlord every month. This poor soul, out of the allowance he was allowed every week, was paying a huge amount of money to that landlord out of fear that he would be evicted, and doing it because he didn't know that the person didn't have a right to that. We got that straightened out and he now understands exactly how that works.

But under this, because this person has very serious problems, if a social service administrator were to determine by themselves that this person couldn't look after the money and the person wasn't under the public guardian and trustee and the money was paid to the landlord and the landlord was handing out the allowance, you know that the situation would have been much worse. This opens the door to that. I urge you very strenuously not to allow those provisions to stand in this act.

One of the principles behind the whole idea of providing programs of social assistance is to try and make sure that we can provide for the basic rights of every individual. We do that not just out of the goodness of our hearts, although I'm sure some people see that as the overriding reason. We also do it to keep order in our society. We know, from the experience of other nations, some not so far away, that if you leave people without any way of living at even a subsistence level, you put them in the position of having absolutely no tie to the community, and therefore no sense of responsibility around following the rules of the community.

Social assistance didn't come into place with the changes in the Poor Law in Britain because everybody who made those changes was a "bleeding heart," I believe some of the neo-cons would call it. It came into place because it made social sense. It kept our communities safer. It cut down on the kind of subsistence crime that happens when people do not have even a basic way of maintaining themselves, of maintaining life.

I happen to be one of the bleeding hearts. I happen to think that in our society we ought to have a value for all of our fellow citizens and that one of those values should be that we don't believe people should be homeless, that we don't believe people should be starving, that we believe those who are unfortunate are not to blame for their own misfortune and that part of our job as a community is to reach out in a caring way to those folks.

That doesn't mean you don't reach out in a way that helps that person to become more independent. I think that's very important and that's a value I would clearly share. But even if I were the most cynical person in the world, even if I really did think that those who are very poor are to be blamed for being poor, that those who are disabled are somehow to be blamed for their inability to be independent, even if I were that kind of person, I would want a system of social assistance for my own safety, because when you make people desperate, they act desperately.

Let's not in any way misunderstand the importance to the social fabric, to the maintaining of a decent and safe community, of having a system of social assistance that prevents people from being homeless, from being so hungry that they will do anything to get the next bite. Let's be very clear about our own self-interest as communities in ensuring that we have a decent program.

Let's be very clear that when we are making the kind of massive changes this act is putting in place, one of the ways we can protect our communities best is by making the rules very transparent so that we all know. One of the hot buttons that Conservatives played in the last election and kept pushing in the last election was this notion that most people on social assistance don't deserve the help, that somehow they're leeches on our communities and their misfortune is their own fault. Very successful for you for a while. Very successful.

Everybody who knows about the hotlines that were set up to report welfare fraud knows that for most of the calls that came in, the people answering the hotline had to explain to the people calling in saying someone was cheating the system that: "No, that's not true. That is the way the system is. This person is not cheating the system."


The general population does not understand the complication of the regulations. One of the things that really distresses me is that this is the chance, the chance that was pointed out in all of the social assistance reform to make this transparent not just to recipients, but to all of us. Who is eligible? Should it be left up to regulation? Should the minister, even if it is left up to regulation, suddenly be able to change that regulation in particular or general cases? I don't think so. I don't think that's smart. I think what is smart is trying to work with providers of services, recipients of services, with the municipalities that are going to be administering this, with advocates and legal counsel who work with folks to actually set down exactly who is eligible, under what circumstances, what they need to do to prove that eligibility and how those decisions are carried out.

To have everything in this bill so up in the air, so subject to regulation, so arbitrary, is not only a problem for someone who might be a recipient but is a problem for all of us. When someone comes to us in our constituency office complaining about a problem around social assistance, we won't have the answers. We won't know what the rules are. We won't know in fact whether this person is being unfairly treated. What is more, it simply gives the rise to this ongoing "them and us" kind of situation where assumptions about what is appropriate, what is legal, can be very far from the reality of what is appropriate and legal.

One of the issues you will hear a lot about as we go around the province -- and I would like to emphasize how absolutely essential it is that we go around this province and have a lot of input into this from our municipalities, from our so-called municipal partners, from those who are recipients, from those who are advocates, from those who are taxpayers, is to air very thoroughly this whole change in the system. It could be a very positive experience in terms of creating a much more responsible community: responsible recipients, responsible taxpayers and responsible delivery agents.

If, as the minister suggested, this is a very important, key piece of legislation for your government, you want it to be the best it can be. It is going to be extremely important for you to listen to those who have experience with the system: those who have delivered services, those who have received services, those who are policymakers and certainly those who are taxpayers. It's going to be really important to give a lot of opportunity for consultation.

I sincerely hope that you will hear a lot of suggestions about how to make this legislation better than it is: how to make it clearer, how to make it more transparent, how to make it possible for people to be part of the system in whichever part they happen to have a role and know what the system is all about.

When you make massive change like this, it takes a long time for people to pull away from some of the old assumptions, some of the old ways that things happen, and having very thorough committee meetings, having an ability to have a dialogue about what is intended, what is here, what could improve it is extremely important.

You know, and you will hear from a lot of our members, why we disagree with the mandatory workfare provisions in here. We believe from our experience that the vast majority of people who are recipients of social assistance would give their eye teeth to be able to earn a living to maintain themselves and their families. We believe very strongly that when you provide programs on a voluntary basis to people, they flock to them. We know that because we provided some of those programs. We provided programs that were consistently oversubscribed by people who were just dying to get back to work, wanting to contribute, wanting to be taxpayers, quite frankly. We could never accommodate all the people who voluntarily wanted to participate in those programs.

You have decided to make them mandatory, and what are you finding? You can't provide it either. We know the figures from the various areas. You are not able to provide anywhere near what you were supposed to be able to provide by this time of the year. You know that the figures show very clearly that the delivery of mandatory workfare is far from the predictions you made. Part of the reason is that you have to build acceptance of those communities that are going to be providing that work, and because you've insisted on making it mandatory, many of the community participant agents that you anticipated would come on board are reluctant, not because they don't want the assistance of people, but because they fundamentally disagree with having that participation mandatory rather than voluntary.

Having run a community agency, I can tell you that the number of people who want to volunteer in most community agencies is often far, far greater than can ever be managed in terms of the learning process, in terms of the supervision process. I really believe that many people who are on social assistance want to participate in programs. You don't have to make it mandatory, you don't have to lay up a situation where you make penalties, because if you're providing those situations, the carrot of having that independence is quite sufficient.

You know we disagree with the mandatory nature, not with the intention, not with the acceptance within the community of people but with the element of mandatory. We don't think it's necessary and we think it will eventually destroy the program you've put in place.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Thank you. Questions and comments?

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I'd like to compliment the member for London Centre for, as usual, her in-depth analysis of the bill. I also compliment her for her compassion because I know she feels very seriously about these issues. But I really struggle with her sky-is-falling attitude towards it. She has gone through the bill piece by piece and picked out every conceivable terribly bad misinterpretation she could possibly imagine, and in some cases she's made some serious misinterpretations. Let me talk about a couple of examples.

She implied our intention is that if somebody would move off social assistance and get a job, we would expect them to repay the benefits they had gained while they were on social assistance. That is absolutely not the case. It is not our intention and nowhere does the act indicate that is our intention.

She also talked about our desire to have all rent moneys paid directly to the landlord on behalf of people who are on social assistance. Again that is absolutely not our intention. But I'm sure she would accept the fact that if a person who is receiving social assistance benefits has a history of not being able to pay their rent or of not being able to pay their utilities, the landlord has the right to receive the rent, and if the recipient of the benefits was incapable of responsibly paying the rent, that somebody should step in and intercede.

Those are just a couple of examples of her interpretation of what we're saying being absolutely, totally at odds with what the bill says and what our intention is. While I again compliment her for having studied it and tried to understand what is in it, I wish she could somehow have a more positive attitude about our compassion and our intentions.

The Acting Speaker: Further questions or comments? Member for London Centre, you can sum up.

Mrs Boyd: Thank you, Madam Speaker. When you make legislation, you make it in such a way that it can be applied by any subsequent government. I wasn't calling into account just your compassion. I'm saying it's not right for any subsequent government to be able to make regulations. This should be laid out in a way that requires us to make changes through the legislative process, not in cabinet, not in the minister's office. I would say to you that when I talk about the necessity for transparency and clarity, it's with the clear knowledge that you will not always be government, we will not always be government, they will not always be government, and that a piece of legislation that we all expect will survive for a number of years should not be so dependent on the whim of the government of the day. I've said that again and again.


The examples I used were examples out of committee hearings with your own party. There is no indication of when an administrator -- listen to section 17:

"(1) An administrator may appoint a person to act for a recipient if there is no guardian of property or trustee for the recipient and the administrator is satisfied that,

"(a) the recipient is using or is likely to use his or her assistance in a way that is not for the benefit of a member of the benefit unit."

How that's determined is up to the minister. Where's the due process in that? What I'm saying is, why don't we say what we're saying? If someone fails to pay their rent for three months in a row and they're in receipt of assistance, they are deemed not to be using that money in the right way and then a certain number of things may follow, not that an administrator can make that determination.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Carroll: It's my pleasure to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill 142. My comments today will deal almost exclusively with the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, that part of Bill 142.

As the minister outlined earlier, a new legislative framework to provide income support and employment support for people with disabilities is required. People with disabilities do not belong in the welfare system. They require a different type of support than Ontario Works recipients. We recognized this in the Common Sense Revolution and we promised to create a new income support program. Consistent with people's expectations of this government, we are delivering on that commitment.

Moreover, people with disabilities have advised us that support programs must focus on their specific needs. They have told us they're tired of governments studying their needs instead of addressing them. They have told us that barriers to employment left in place by a succession of governments must be removed. The proposed act is designed to establish a program that answers these needs.

We have consulted extensively with people with disabilities and we've relied on their advice to help develop this program. While this new proposed plan must effectively serve people with disabilities who require assistance, it must also be accountable to the taxpayers of Ontario. It must provide both income supports and employment supports to those who are eligible and it must recognize that all of us -- government, communities, families and individuals -- share the responsibility for providing these supports.

The act has five parts. Part I addresses income supports and eligibility. It contains the proposed rules for governing the application process, who qualifies and who does not, who receives financial support, how it is to be paid, and the terms and conditions and procedures for recovery of overpayments, should they occur.

Part II deals with the effective date of income support decisions, internal reviews and appeals. An internal review process will be the first recourse for any disputes. Appeals will be heard by the proposed new Social Benefits Tribunal.

Part III defines eligibility for employment supports. This will be a new system, replacing the current vocational rehabilitation services program. Ministry-approved service coordinators will deliver these supports.

Part IV of the act is administrative, establishing that the ministry will continue to deliver income support to persons with disabilities and defining the authority of the director in the program. It also provides the legislative authority for the ministry to contract with service coordinators to deliver the employment supports that are essential to the program. Part IV also indicates the government's intent that the costs associated with the new program will be shared between the province and the municipalities.

Part V is a general part granting powers to take affidavits, establish regulations and make agreements with other jurisdictions. This section establishes rules respecting confidentiality of information and privacy. It also contains provision for assistance, according to regulations, for persons who incur extraordinary costs providing care to a child with a severe disability.

Ontario Works is a program of temporary assistance to move people into or back into the workforce. Its objective is the shortest route to a paying job. It requires people to participate in mandatory activities to achieve that goal.

Mrs Boyd: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Speaking of mandatory participation, I don't believe we have a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Is there a quorum?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Chatham-Kent.

Mr Carroll: It would be a shame if anybody missed all this information.

I was saying before I was interrupted that while the Ontario Works program has a requirement for mandatory work participation, the Ontario disability support program, on the other hand, has no mandatory requirement for employment-related activities as a condition of income support. Supports to employment, however, will be available to those who want to work, but participation will be completely voluntary.

The Ontario Disability Support Program Act is based on the recognition that Ontarians with disabilities have unique and different needs that are often long-term and either ongoing or intermittent. The new program creates a clearer definition of "disability," one that eliminates the term "permanently unemployable" and the stigma associated with it. People with disabilities have told us very clearly that they resent that label.

The fact is that many people with disabilities desire work and are able to work, either regularly or intermittently. What they need is secure income support and employment support, employment support that includes flexibility, incentives and ready access. Disabilities are different. People are different. The new program recognizes these differences. We intend to shift the focus from disabilities to abilities, because the latter exist in large quantities. The old system focused on what a person could not do. The new system is built around what a person can do.

The new disability criteria will focus on substantial physical or mental impairments that are continuous or recurrent and expected to last at least a year or more. Under the proposed legislation, people will be eligible for support if the direct and cumulative effect of their disability results in a substantial restriction in the activities of daily living. The activities of daily living that will be considered include personal care, functioning in the community and functioning in the workplace. We believe these criteria will provide a much more practical and workable definition than the current one.

It's important to note at this time, as the minister made clear in her announcement of the new program on June 5, that people who are currently eligible for disability benefits under the family benefits program will have those benefits protected. This will occur when the new legislation comes into force and there will be no retesting of their disability.


While eligibility rules are important, the way they are interpreted and implemented is critical in determining whether a program like this is fair and reasonable. The government is proposing a number of important improvements in this area. Under the new system, the forms will contain the right questions. They will be filled out by professionals who understand disabilities. They will be clear and consistent with all relevant aspects of the program. The workers who are responsible for applying the disability criteria will be given the training and tools that are essential for a fair assessment of each disability.

In the current family benefits program, some people with disabilities face periodic reassessment even though there is only a very remote chance that their condition has improved. People with disabilities have told us this practice does not make sense; it wastes resources and is demeaning in cases where the disability is serious and permanent. The new program will end this practice. Once people are proven to have a disability, they will only be retested if and when the disability is expected to improve. Those with a permanent serious disability will not be retested.

This act also introduces much more flexible and generous eligibility rules relating to assets and financial supports provided by families of people with disabilities. All of these changes are aimed at recognizing the unique costs faced by the people with disabilities and are intended to support their independence. As the minister noted earlier, these changes recognize that family members and others have an interest in improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities.

The 25% copayment for the Ministry of Health's assistive devices program will be abolished for clients of the Ontario disability support program and of the handicapped children's benefit. The Ontario disability support program has a limit on cashable assets and that will be increased from the current limit of $3,000 to $5,000 for a single person and from $5,000 to $7,500 for a couple. An additional $500 will continue to be added to the limit for each additional dependant.

People with disabilities will in future be able to retain up to $100,000 in compensation awards received for injuries, for pain and suffering or resulting from being a victim of crime or abuse. The current limit for such awards is only $25,000.

There will be an ability to retain life insurance up to a cash surrender value of $100,000 to cover the costs of advanced stages of serious illnesses. The new program will make it easier for families and others to help people with disabilities with the costs of assistive devices, health items, support services, home accommodations, and education at any time.

Families and others will be able to provide an additional $4,000 annually towards any other costs through a gift or inheritance. For the first time, families will be able to contribute financially to improve the quality of life in the community, including shelter.

The amount that families and others can leave in an inheritance for people in the program without penalty will be increased from $65,000 to $100,000. To enable families to build up a trust for a family member with disabilities, interest on trust capital can be retained in the trust until the capital reaches $100,000. After that level has been reached, the interest can be used to cover allowable expenses. These improvements to inheritance rules will also apply to discretionary trusts.

A better system of income support is only part of the answer. People with disabilities have told us that they also need and want employment supports. They want the barriers that prevent them from gaining employment removed. The current vocational rehabilitation services program is not meeting these needs. It's often patronizing and certainly outdated in its approach. The new system of employment supports is based on what people with disabilities have told us they need. It will focus directly on jobs and provide quick access to services, it will get rid of long and repetitive assessments and it will provide technological aids that people can take with them from one job to the next.

The new program also makes another improvement in the treatment of people with disabilities who are making the transition to employment. It takes the risk out of trying to work. People with disabilities have pointed out to us that the current system actually contains a powerful disincentive to work. If the job doesn't work out, the person with disabilities must reapply for benefits and typically face a long waiting period before their disability benefits are restored. This disincentive does nothing to support self-sufficiency and independence. In fact, it is entirely counterproductive and unfair.

The new program would quickly reinstate income support if the job does not work out. Taken together, the changes in vision by the Ontario Disability Support Program Act would give people with disabilities what they have been asking for. It replaces an outdated and limited welfare approach with secure income support. Instead of focusing on endless assessments and measurements of disabilities, it emphasizes abilities and results. It replaces poorly defined eligibility rules with clear and reasonable criteria. Instead of labelling people as permanently unemployable, it recognizes that many people with disabilities can work and want to work and provides employment supports and incentives towards achieving that objective. It will enable people with disabilities to benefit more from gifts and inheritance by allowing families to contribute to a more secure future for their adult children.

With these changes, this government is keeping its commitment to create a separate support system for people with disabilities that is compassionate, comprehensive and effective.

The minister and I have each made reference to the principles that lie behind the Ontario disability support program, the regulations to be developed under them and the programs that will result. As the Legislature commences its consideration of this proposed new program, it is our hope that members keep these principles before them as they consider the legislative details.

In the last election campaign, our government's platform was entitle the Common Sense Revolution. It was a pledge to bring common sense back to the making and managing of public policy, public programs and public resources. The fact that it constituted a revolution was more than anything else a judgment on how desperately overdue a commonsense approach was. This proposed disability support program was designed using that yardstick. Any suggested refinements to it and to the regulations that will follow will be carefully considered with those same criteria. Throughout the debate, we look forward to all members assessing the program and any changes from any quarter with these commonsense criteria: Is it fair to all the people the program is designed to serve? Is it fair to the taxpayers? Is there accountability? Are there consistent standards balanced by flexibility? Does it provide productive results?

Given that this bill is based on what people with disabilities told us they wanted, I have no doubt that if passed by this House the new Ontario disability support program will give people with disabilities better control over their lives, will give them more personal control and choice over supports to employment and will focus on what people can and want to do, and it will provide better opportunities for independence.

For all these reasons, I have no hesitation in recommending this bill to the favourable consideration of all members.


The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Boyd: Indeed the member from Chatham, as is his job as a government member, has pointed out all the most positive aspects of that particular section. That's his job. My job is to point out to him where some of those things are not quite as clear-cut as he would like to say.

He talked about section 4, which talks about eligibility. Indeed the broad grounds of eligibility he talked about are there in section 4, except that subsection (3) of that says, "A determination under this section shall be made by a person appointed by the director." So that determination is going to be made.

Under the regulation-making part, under subsection 54(1):

"The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations,

"1. prescribing the persons to be included in a benefit unit;...

"9. respecting the conditions of eligibility for income support including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

"(i) additional conditions relating to eligibility for income support."

In other words, what is in the bill, which sounds like a wonderful outline, indeed very close to what disabled groups have been asking for in terms of eligibility for ongoing income support, this government and any subsequent government has the right, under regulation-making power, to add conditions to that eligibility. That's what people are worried about.

The regulation-making power allows a lien against property, allows for the ministry to require assignment of income, assignment of any other things. So it is not quite as clear-cut as you would think, because so much, again, relies on regulation, and that's where the worry is. We want it included in a clear-cut way within the legislation itself, not left up to the whim of your government, our government, their government, any other government. Regulations get changed immediately without discussion.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to respond to the member for Chatham-Kent's remarks. I want to compliment the member on being very hardworking and dedicated to helping the minister and to listening to input on this important piece of legislation, Bill 142.

I want to set the record straight that the constituents of my riding of Durham East have made it very clear that they support a return-to-work process for people as long as it's fair. This is for able-bodied people to return to work, and I believe the Ontario Works program is something the voters of Ontario want. It was in our election platform and it's something we're going to work towards providing.

When it comes to the whole issue of welfare, I think there are all kinds of signals on social assistance.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): That's not what the member talked about.

Mr O'Toole: It was.

The Acting Speaker: Order, please.

Mr O'Toole: The member had a couple of points which I think should be made to assist him in a supplementary.

The third party actually is acting like the official opposition here. When Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal candidate, was running for the leadership, he was asked a question by a panellist, Matt Maychak, as to whether he would raise taxes. Mr Kennedy's response was, "If that's what it takes to restore the welfare rates to previous levels." Kennedy is on record that raising welfare rates through increased taxes is their plan. I'm reading from the Toronto Star, May 19, 1996.

Ms Lankin: He talked about the disability program.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order.

Mr O'Toole: In the few remaining seconds I have left, I think all parties want to see that able-bodied participants have the right to work and that they need to have the opportunity to go back to work, yet people with disabilities shouldn't be stigmatized, and I think that's what our minister has tried to do.

I encourage the member for Chatham-Kent to conclude and I'm sure the remarks will be on the record.

Ms Lankin: I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the member for Chatham-Kent. I will have an opportunity to address the bill a little bit later this afternoon, but in particular, I'm glad he took the time to focus on the disability support program, which is a very important part of this overall bill. When I am speaking this afternoon, I will also address that. I have a great many problems with the other section of the bill, but in general terms I'm very supportive of the measures that are being taken under the Ontario disability support program.

Like the member for London Centre, I have concerns in certain areas. We've been speaking extensively with people in the disability community and there are areas that need improvement, and I think we will be able to address that in debate and hopefully in committee and through amendments.

The overall thrust of this, which is to set up a separate income support program, one that recognizes the need for flexibility for persons with disabilities to be able to move into the system and out of the system as work opportunities become available, one that increases the limits with respect to cashable assets and trust funds and other sorts of things and really allows for a sense of independence is absolutely headed in the right direction.

There are significant problems with the definition and the ability in regulations to change that, there are problems with the ability to apply liens, and I think there are problems with some of the sections around informal trustees and the ease with which someone could be declared to be incapable of taking care of their own affairs. So there are areas that I think we should address.

I also think that the thrust on competitive employment is shortsighted and doesn't fully understand the needs of all the disabled community. There's a large part of the disabled community that will be able to benefit from that; there are others who can't.

Within that purview, I want to say to the member that I agree largely with his remarks. I think the problems that are here we can fix together.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I know in questions and comments that we are supposed to comment on the guest speaker, as it were, but I can't help but make the comment that the member for Beaches-Woodbine has shown what frankly she has often shown in this House: that she does have the class and the dignity to commend the government when there is room, in her opinion, to do that. It is refreshing when that happens because it happens in all honesty. When she was saying that she appreciates most of the aspects of the bill, especially dealing with the changes for people with disabilities, the member for London Centre was nodding her head at the same time.

As a member who has been in this House a long time with both these members, I personally appreciate it, as a member of the government, when they stand in this House and compliment the government for the legislation that is before us this afternoon, even to the extent of saying that some of the areas they have concerns about possibly or probably -- I don't want to paraphrase incorrectly -- can be addressed.

That's what positive representation is about in this chamber no matter which side of the chamber we sit in. I think whoever the government of the day is, when we can make decisions jointly and improve government legislation from time to time, again no matter who the government is, that is the most positive process of Parliament, and I'm very pleased to be part of it this afternoon.

Mr Carroll: I'd like to thank the members for London Centre, Durham East, Beaches-Woodbine and Mississauga South for their compliments. I thought for a minute there that the member for Beaches-Woodbine was going to give us unqualified support, but I do appreciate her positive comments because I think this particular area, and probably many areas, is one where it's important that we all work together to get it right. I've had an opportunity to work with the member for Beaches-Woodbine before in committees and I'm sure we will meet again as we discuss this bill further.

I do want to clear up the thing about liens. There has been some conversation about them. The primary residence of anybody who is on the Ontario disability support program, the proposed new plan, will not be subject to any liens. Where we're talking about a lien is if there is an investment beyond that in a second property or whatever that we currently expect to be sold. If it is not sold, then the ability will exist for a lien to be attached to it. I want everybody to understand that we have absolutely no intention of attaching any liens to the primary residence of a person who is on the Ontario disability support plan. That would not be fair, we don't believe it's fair and we don't intend to do that. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that.


Ms Lankin: Hopefully you'll be comfortable in supporting amendments and --

Mr Carroll: I guess maybe it's subject to interpretation.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate. It's been kind of a love-in here, these last few comments from the ladies in the assembly, and I must say I sincerely appreciate that.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'm pleased to join the debate on Bill 142. I'll start with an aspect of the bill that hasn't been discussed too much here this afternoon, and that is what I think is a fundamental mistake the government is making in putting an increasing portion of our social services on property tax. I think that's a fundamental mistake, and that's what this bill does, as you know. It adds dramatically to the portion covered from property tax.

I keep reminding myself that the government appointed a handpicked group to look at how services should be distributed between the province and the municipalities and how they should be funded. When that group got word that the government was planning to load 100% of social housing on to property tax and a substantial portion of social assistance on to property tax, these were their words: "The panel strongly opposes such a move. We are unanimous in the view that if there's a choice between placing education or health and welfare on the property tax, it's clearly preferable to continue to rely on the property tax for the funding of education."

I and my party have a fundamental disagreement with the government on the direction it's heading here. As a matter of fact, I heard the Minister of Municipal Affairs on a radio show the other day acknowledging -- I'm paraphrasing here but I think I'm correct. He said he believes that income redistribution programs should not be on property tax but should be handled by income tax. In other words, income redistribution, such as our social assistance program, should not be on property tax. The interviewer was astute enough to say: "Wait a minute. If you believe that, you're doing the opposite. You're taking social assistance programs off being supported by income tax and you're putting it on to property tax." The minister himself acknowledges that it's a mistake. I think perhaps the worst mistake you're making is in putting 100% of social housing on property tax.

I say to the property taxpayers in Ontario, this is a mistake. It is a big mistake and a fundamental mistake, putting our sensitive social programs on to property tax. I will say without any question that the government in 1998 has decided to cut $666 million of support it is providing in 1997. It's gone, 100% gone in 1998. You are adding $666 million right on to the property taxes.

I raise that because this bill puts an enormous additional cost on to property tax. The minister himself says income redistribution programs should not be on property taxes. I would say part of the plan here is that 100% of social housing -- and I remind you that over half of social housing is seniors' housing. That is whom we are putting at risk here.

Mrs Marland: I think you're on the wrong bill.

Mr Phillips: The member says I'm on the wrong bill, but I'm not because this is part of the government's plan to put on to property taxes a substantial extra cost.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): That is not a fact.

Mr Phillips: The member says -- and I like this, because the public should listen -- that's not a fact. The minister the other day said, "Yes, we've cut $666 million out of" --


Mr Phillips: He said that. He said, "But we told them we were going to do it so that makes it okay."

I would say that's problem number one with this bill. The Who Does What Panel selected by Premier Harris said they strongly oppose this, and they are unanimous in the view. That's quite an accomplishment. I think there were 14 people on that committee, all handpicked by Premier Harris.

The second thing I would say is that we are asking our municipalities to take over responsibility for this at the very time when the government has imposed chaos on them, in this respect: First, there will be the most massive change in property tax we've ever seen in Ontario next February-March. I guarantee you it is going to be a mess. Small businesses are going to see their taxes go up substantially. There are going to be, obviously, a lot of properties whose taxes go up; property taxes go down on other properties. The point is, that's the first thing that is going to happen within municipalities: a very chaotic situation on property taxes.

Second, the government has said, "We are going to load on to you a whole bunch of new services." I laugh when the Premier says, "They asked for this; we gave them what they asked for." I'll tell you, the municipalities said, "Don't give us social housing."

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: With the greatest of respect to the member who has the floor -- and I know you're listening very carefully -- I'm wondering if in your opinion he is speaking to the bill that is before us at this time.

The Acting Speaker: I am listening carefully to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. I would like to hear him speak a little bit more closely to the content of the bill we're on today. I'm sure you're getting there.

Mr Phillips: I actually believe I was there in that a prominent part of this bill is to shift on to municipalities an enormous extra cost. In fact the government itself says that the extra cost for municipalities will be $853 million. That's brand-new costs as a result of this bill. I'm pointing out that this bill --


Mr Phillips: The member may say, "What bill number?" Schedule A. You are establishing the mechanism for the special benefits tribunal; giving the minister "the power to designate geographic areas in Ontario and to designate a municipality or district social services administration board...to administer and provide administration...." The program is the $853-million program. They are directly related. I'm dealing with Bill 142, An Act to revise the law related to Social Assistance. It clearly is the act that will result in $853 million of new costs on the municipalities.


Through this bill, you are asking municipalities to administer this program, a major part of it, at the same time as the government has decided that property tax changes will come in next February, March and April. You are asking municipalities to take funding for social housing. Here are all the new things they are going to be asked to take on. They are being asked, at the same time, to work with a new labour bill, when many municipalities have said, "This is going to cause a major disruption in our municipalities" -- Bill 136. I might add that at the same time this is going on, the province has said that it is going to take over responsibility for funding school boards. The reason I raise this is that we cannot ignore that for this program to work, municipalities are going to have to devote enormous resources and energy and time and priorities. But it is typical I think of the government that at a time when you want them to be doing creative work in this area, most of them are going to be saddled with huge challenges on the property tax bill -- and I think it's fair to raise that within the context of this -- with huge challenges on social housing --

Mr Preston: That's not accurate.

Mr Phillips: The member over there says it's not accurate. I just say to him, I will challenge anyone to call in the municipalities to a legislative committee here and we will go over the numbers, and they'll tell you, as I might add the Premier said the other day, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that "Yes, we're going to give them $666 million less next year." But we told them about that before. So the municipalities in this province are going to get $666 million less. The reason I raise this is, that is around 5% of their budget. I was interested to hear the government say not only that but that they expected municipalities to be able to reduce taxes in addition to that: "Across the province, property tax cuts should average 5% to 10%."

I just say to the Legislature, when you are cutting $666 million of support to them, you are asking them to take on all these new responsibilities. -- and this bill adds substantial new responsibilities to municipalities -- and you're asking them to take on the cost of social housing and to deal with what will be, there's no question about it, a chaotic environment around property taxes a year from now, or actually probably eight months from now. You are setting the stage for failure. I used to be in business. I have never seen any business try and run like this, where they are creating as much confusion and chaos as this government is.

I'd also say that one of the challenges in making this work is going to be on jobs. When Mike Harris became Premier, there were 499,000 people out of work in the province. We now are 25 months into the revolution; there are 486,000 people out of work in the province of Ontario. Yes, it has gone down. It has gone down by 13,000 people, but there are still almost 500,000 people out of work in the province and Mike Harris promised that by now we'd see 300,000 new jobs created.

Mr Preston: We're behind schedule.

Mr Phillips: We're behind schedule; the member has acknowledged that, 115,000 behind schedule. So I say, let's be cautious when we make comments about individuals who are on social assistance and cautious about saying things like, "Why don't they simply go out and get a job?" The fact is that in Ontario there are still roughly 500,000 people out of work, well over two years into the great revolution. There are still almost as many people out of work as when Mike Harris became Premier.

I might add that it's particularly tragic among our young people, and I've been saying that for some time. I remember a debate I had with the Premier, and he said: "Oh, your figures are all wrong. It's not a problem. Things are fine." Finally he has been forced to acknowledge that the employment problem among our young people is particularly acute, and I raise that because the objective of this program is to assist people to get the skills to move back into the labour force. I would just say we've never had an unemployment rate among young people in the province of Ontario as high as it is right now. It is the young people who are bearing the brunt of the revolution. They're not getting the 30% tax cut that the best off in the province are. I think it's fair to remind ourselves that the reason the government has cut support to municipalities, $666 million, is because it has got to fund its tax cut. But that doesn't go to our young people.

We saw earlier this week tuition fees going up 10% to our young people, dramatically more in some areas. So our young people are the ones that are bearing the brunt of the effects of the revolution, young people who can't get jobs. As I say, you can see the unemployment rate from January to July, the first seven months of 1997, is up dramatically over the same period a year ago: 18.3% this year, 15.9% last year. We've actually lost 24,000 jobs among our young people.

The reason I raise that is that you often hear the comment from people, "Well, those individuals on social assistance simply need to get out and find themselves a job." It's not that easy, as I think most people in the Legislature know. All of us have, in our offices, individuals who would love to find a job but just simply can't.

I wanted to raise the job issue because in the last few months, while there has been job creation in the province, the government still, after 25 months, has achieved about 55% of its target of 300,000 jobs, and it's particularly acute among our young people.

If the success of the Ontario Works program is dependent on the government delivering on its promise of 725,000 jobs, I will tell you right now, the government is way behind its target, and I might add that when the government ran the election, it was very specific. It wasn't, "We hope this plan will create jobs." It was, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years." I just say right now, you're way behind the target, and particularly among our young people -- way behind the target.

The fundamental, though, that has to be challenged here is whether it is right to put on to property tax these sensitive social services. Our party says no. Al Leach, if you get a transcript of the radio interview I heard, agrees it's wrong. He said that, in his mind, income redistribution programs, and this is an income redistribution program, should not be on property tax. It should be on income tax. I'm repeating myself, but the interviewer wisely said, "But you're doing the opposite." He said, "Well, yeah, but it takes a while for us to get there." Well, it takes a lot longer to get somewhere if you're heading in the wrong direction, and you're heading in the wrong direction. I could understand saying, "Well, it takes a while to get there," but you turned and went the other way.

The reason I raise this is, we are inviting, for people who will be affected by this law, an environment where, as we face difficult economic times, and we will, the province inevitably will because we go through cycles, you can just see at the councils the enormous emotional problem we'll have when seniors who rely now 100% on property taxes for their housing are at the council meetings, when individuals who rely on social assistance are at the council meetings, and when property taxpayers, many of whom would be facing difficult times, are at those meetings, you've got this intolerable conflict.


We have a problem with the fundamental premise of the bill of saying, "Let's move an increasing share on to property tax." We think the government would have been far wiser to listen to the advice of its own group headed up by David Crombie, who said: "It's wrong. We strongly oppose this and we urge the government to reconsider."

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mrs Boyd: It's always a pleasure to comment on the remarks of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. One of the things that he consistently does is talk about a bill that's in front of the Legislature in the context of what it means with respect to whatever else the government is doing.

There were several members who were saying he hasn't talked about the bill. In fact, he did talk about the bill, because a good part of the bill is talking about this partnership between delivery agents. The delivery agents are going to be the municipalities, and the entire thrust of what he is talking about in his speech is what it means when you download the responsibility for delivering this kind of program on to the municipality while at the same time the other kinds of downloads are happening and while at the same time within the program of the government we are seeing many, many additional costs also being assigned to the municipalities. He is quite right to be apprehensive about how well this program will work, being delivered by municipalities under the kinds of conditions that municipalities are facing with all the new programs for which they're going to be fiscally responsible but also administratively responsible.

His point is well taken. It is an aspect of this bill that needs to be taken into account. It is indeed included in the bill that these funding arrangements and these administrative arrangements are being given permission in this bill. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, who is experienced at being able to analyse what the fiscal consequences of government actions may be, is quite right to point out his apprehension about the fiscal responsibility in this bill.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): It's interesting to listen again to the refrain of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, especially about the portion of Bill 142 where he alleges administrative chaos when it comes to the reform of assessment and the realignment of responsibilities between the senior and local levels of government. May I remind him that it was his party that brought in the land speculation tax along with a whole pile of other taxes during the 1980s.

Another reminder needs to put on the record. If we do not make some of the fundamental reforms in assessment that are required, it would seem to me that the party across the way, the official opposition, has become a champion of unfairness and discrimination when it comes to assessment reform. It seems to be perfectly acceptable to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt to have the existing status quo of built-in tax inequities that we have in Metropolitan Toronto and that this government is finally addressing. Granted there are going to be some major shifts, and I already see them in my own area, but to stand across the way and accept the old status quo is completely unacceptable. Finally we have a government that has come to grips with all the accumulation of inaction on the part of the forces across the way, particularly the Liberal Party, when it comes to this point.

Finally, I'd like to address the issue of jobs. When we look at the record of the Common Sense Revolution and the point that he continues to make over 25 months, somehow or other it has not penetrated his particular brain waves that government does not create jobs except in a very direct way for the jobs they hire such as in local government. So this member is completely out of place when it comes to that.

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I listened to the comments of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt very attentively and I find that indeed he threw a challenge to the members of the government who are here today. I know the minister is here and he also listened to some sections attentively.

He is simply saying, is it true what was said on the radio program? Has the minister indeed said, "Should income redistribution programs not be shifted on to the property tax base?" -- and I know the minister right now is mumbling something under his breath, and all the members on the government side have listened very carefully to the comments made by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt -- and if it is true that that was the case, is the minister willing to stand in his place today and say: "Hold on, we'll go slow on this. We made a mistake"? If he says he's made a mistake, then maybe, just maybe, there should be a withdrawal of this bill so that the minister can make his comments fairly, succinctly and clearly to the public of Ontario.

The minister is here today. He's got a chance to speak. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt has his next two minutes now to wrap up the discussion, and certainly the members who right now are sitting in the back bench of this government have a chance not only to mumble under their breath whether income redistribution programs should not be shifted on to the property tax base, they have a chance also to address themselves. But what I hear suddenly is that the members of the government side are getting up and are not addressing that major point. We have the radio clip --

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

Mr Wildman: As the member said, we have the radio clips.

I want to congratulate my friend from Scarborough-Agincourt for his presentation which, as always, was thoughtful and analytical and quite evenhanded in putting it forward. He concentrated on two areas, as I was listening to him. One was the downloading on to the municipalities and what effects this is going to have in terms of their ability to deliver programs without significant increases in costs and property taxes or cuts in services.

The other area that he concentrated on was jobs and what effect this has in terms of employment. He pointed out quite correctly that the Premier, when he was running for election prior to 1995, promised jobs. He said there were going to be 725,000 new jobs created in Ontario by the next election; that is, over four to five years, there would be 725,000 new jobs.

Now we have government backbenchers getting up and saying, "Wait a minute now, the opposition is being unfair when they say that because they should understand that governments don't create jobs." Well, when the voters went to the polls last time around, they had a leader of the Conservative Party saying he was going to create jobs, and he hasn't been up to schedule. We had other backbenchers saying, "Well, there's going to be a real drive in the last stretch," that they're really going to pick it up in the last stretch. So we have a division of opinion within the Conservative caucus. Some say they don't create jobs, it's none of their business to create jobs. Others say, "Oh yes, we're going to really speed it up on the job creation market towards the end of the session."

The fact is this legislation doesn't create any employment. It just means more poverty for people in the province.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate the comments of the members for London Centre, Etobicoke-Rexdale, Parkdale and Algoma.

I couldn't understand the anger of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale because it wasn't me that said, "This plan will create more than 725,000 new jobs over the next five years." It was Mike Harris. I don't know whether the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale's memory is failing him, but he ran on that. The document was clear: It will create them, not, "We hope the economy will," but this plan was going to do it. I just say to the government members that you're way behind on the targets, particularly among our young people.


I will just go on to reinforce what the member for London Centre talked about, and that is, let's recognize the environment within which this will fall in 1998. Our municipalities are going through a very chaotic period of time. I love it when what the Conservatives always say, "We run things like a business." That has become a joke. We have the only toll road in North America that has no tolls. Today we heard about the only prison with no prisoners. Now we find, running it like a business, that the government is imposing chaos.

You are dooming yourself to failure by imposing this the way it is on municipalities at a time when they are, first, having difficulty coping with the degree of change, and last, I would say that surely you accept that you are making a mistake. As Minister Leach said, these programs shouldn't be on property tax. They should be on income taxes.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Lankin: I'm delighted to have an opportunity to speak to this bill.

I would like to begin with an observation about how bills are brought forward in the House. You've often heard members in the opposition complain about omnibus legislation or combined legislation or legislation that composes a number of very different areas together in one bill. I would like to put to you that Bill 142 is a very good example of that, if I may. The long title of the bill is An Act to revise the law related to Social Assistance by enacting -- and now we get to the two parts -- the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act -- and then it goes on and repeals sections of other acts and there are consequential amendments to other acts.

The Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act are two very different pieces of legislation. I will find myself in quite a quandary when it comes to dealing with this bill in committee and/or through votes, because I can tell you I am vehemently opposed to some of the elements contained in the Ontario Works Act. I personally just think it's very wrongheaded and I don't think it's going to solve the problem the government would like to solve.

On the other hand, I'm generally supportive of the Ontario Disability Support Program Act. There are areas where I would like to work with the government to see amendments, because I think that there are some particular concerns that can be addressed and they are fixable, but these are two different pieces of legislation.

I'm not going to take a long time on this point. I only draw it to the government members' attention because you often treat our criticism of this with disdain and you think it's just whining on the opposition benches. I think here is a very good example where I have profound differences with the government with respect to one act and significant support for the government with respect to the other. When it comes to a vote -- I guess under the new rules I could abstain -- I will find myself having to vote against it because of the Ontario Works Act and how profoundly opposed I am to that, yet I am in support of a vast portion of the other bill.

I wish the government would give consideration to splitting these two bills so they could be dealt with in an appropriate fashion. Also at committee, when people come forward to make presentations, it's going to be a real mishmash. I think the committee will have a hard time dealing with it. Enough said on that topic. It's just a point that I wanted to make.

If I could respond to a comment the member for Chatham-Kent made earlier when he was wrapping up after questions and responses, he said he almost thought the member for Beaches-Woodbine was going to give unqualified support. It won't have been recorded in Hansard, but I called out across the floor to him, Madam Chair, which I know is out of order, and said, "If you deserved unqualified support, you'd have it from me," and that is the truth.

I don't want anyone to misconstrue my comments tonight when I speak to the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, because I am going to keep my comments to that section of the bill. It's where I think I can contribute and try and make some improvements. When I speak in favour of this, I do not want any member of the government benches to stand up at another point in time and say, "The member for Beaches-Woodbine supports Bill 142." I support one half, one act. You have two acts here. I support one act under Bill 142.

I'm saying this in particular to some of the members who are here tonight because I've heard over the last couple of nights in debate, particularly around the City of Toronto Act, Bill 148, the member for Scarborough Centre say on a number of occasions that the member for Riverdale in this House, one of my colleagues on this side of the House, Madam Chair, you, had said it was a simple bill.

Mr Wildman: A member with whom she is very familiar.

Ms Lankin: A member with whom I am very familiar. He quoted you a number of times, saying that you said it was a simple bill. He never completed the sentence, in which you said it was a simple bill which could have -- I'm paraphrasing -- disastrous consequences on the communities of Metropolitan Toronto. That is not fair debate, my friend. I'm hoping that people will listen to the comments I make in support and the concerns I raise.

I have said in general that I am completely supportive of the thrust of what the government has announced this bill is about. The minister in her announcement, and the member for Chatham-Kent this afternoon in his recital of the government's position on this bill, set out some things which I think are headed in the right direction and are very positive for members of the disabled community. In fact, when the minister made her announcement in the House that this bill was coming, I think my words were that this has the potential of being one of the most positive and --

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): On a point of order, Madam Speaker --

Ms Lankin: You can't correct someone else's record, Dan.

Mr Newman: I just wanted to point out to you, Speaker, that the member for Beaches-Woodbine said I'd made some comments and I might want to bring to her attention --

The Acting Speaker: I'm sorry, but you can't do that in a point of order. You can't correct the record. You will have an opportunity --

Mr Newman: -- that she said this bill will have some consequences.

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat, please. You cannot correct a record in the middle of debate. You will have an opportunity in questions and comments. The member for Beaches-Woodbine.

Ms Lankin: I'll help the member. He tried to put on the record from Hansard the comments of the member for Riverdale in which she said, "It is a simple bill," but that it may have consequences. That's the point. The last two days in this House he's been standing up suggesting that the member for Riverdale simply said, "It's a simple bill." What I'm saying is, be full in your quotes. If you are attributing something to another member across the floor and attempting to twist the reality to suggest that the member is somehow supportive of what the government is doing, when she clearly wasn't on that bill, that is not fair debate, my friend.

Mr Wildman: It could be a simple bill and simply be wrong.

Ms Lankin: A simple bill which is simply wrong.

I want to speak about the bill that is before us, however, and the section of it dealing with members of the disabled community. I think at the time the minister made her announcement I said I thought it had the potential of being one of the most positive programs or developments for persons with disabilities in Ontario that we'd seen for a long time. I repeat that. But I have to caution the government members that much of what we heard from the member for Chatham-Kent tonight, while I agree with the thrust of what he's saying and I hope that's what we accomplish, is not what is actually in the legislation. So if we can go through this, maybe there are some areas where we can strengthen the wording of the legislation to actually achieve what you have indicated is the intent of the government, and where we can do that together, I would say hallelujah and congratulations to us all, because we're making an important contribution to persons with disabilities in our community.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I don't think there's a quorum here.

The Acting Speaker: Clerk, is there a quorum?

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is not present.

The Acting Speaker: Call in the members.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine.


Ms Lankin: I keep feeling every time I get a flow going here somehow or other it gets interrupted. I'm not sure where I was. I think what I was trying to point out, and I am particularly addressing my comments to the member for Chatham-Kent because I hope we will be able to work together on this, is that much of what he indicated in his speech was the intent of the government is not contained within the legislation.

I will make some very specific comments about the areas in which I have concerns. With a shorter speaking time and a complex bill, it is hard to get a lot of this on the record, specifically with respect to the definition of "disability." I appreciate the improvement in the definition over what the minister had originally contemplated. The wording now says the person is considered disabled if "the person has a substantial physical or mental impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more." Then it goes on to talk about the direct and cumulative effect of impairment on a person's ability to attend to personal care and daily living activities, and it talks about the duration of the impairment and the restriction in a person's activity of daily life.

The other thing the members must be very cognizant of, however -- I believe this section should be deleted from the legislation -- under subsection 54(1), the regulation-making powers of the legislation, subparagraph (i) of paragraph 9: "The Lieutenant Governor in Council," which essentially is the cabinet -- the cabinet makes the --


Ms Lankin: I'm not sure what we have going on here.

Mr Curling: I'm trying to check if there's a quorum.

Ms Lankin: You're trying to check if there's a quorum. I think there's a quorum and I'll continue with my comments.


The Acting Speaker: Order, please. The member for Scarborough North, come to order.

Ms Lankin: I'd like to talk to the members on the government bench in debating a bill which I think is important and serious, which I primarily support and in which I think there are problems, and I'm urging you to give consideration to particular amendments. Specifically, I've laid out what the definition of "eligibility" is. The definition in and of itself is one that I think is very supportable. There may be some problems in terms of how it is implemented, and we will have to deal with that at the time.

Under subparagraph (i) of paragraph 9 of subsection 54(1), it allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council -- and I was making the point that that's essentially cabinet -- to prescribe regulations "respecting the conditions of eligibility for income support...without limiting the generality of the foregoing additional conditions relating to eligibility for income support."

There are very serious concerns. I don't know if you remember when the ministry first came out with its draft definition. The disabled community was outraged. All credit to the minister and the ministry in that there was a change. The wording that's here now is much more acceptable; it's much fairer.

But under regulations you can have "additional conditions relating to eligibility for income support" -- why is that necessary under regulations? That leaves it much too open, and this group of people, as we know, is much too vulnerable to have this kind of insecurity. I would suggest maybe that's an area we could consider deleting, or at least I'd like to understand why the government feels it's necessary to have that in there.

The other thing, and I think you might respond very negatively to me when I put this forward initially because I can imagine what might be in your minds; Under the definition of eligibility for disability an exception has been set out in subsection (2): "A person is not a person with a disability if the person's impairment is caused by the presence in the person's body of alcohol, a drug or some other chemically active substance that the person has ingested unless the alcohol, drug or other substance has been authorized by prescription as provided for in the regulations.'

I think the intent here is that someone said, "We don't want to treat people better under a program which is designed for legitimately disabled people if they're just a druggie," or something like that. But there are people, and I know this from the time when I was in the health ministry. I also had responsibility for the anti-drug strategy, and there are people who are truly disabled by their addiction and who require medical support and help. I'll give you an example.

It was quite controversial at the time, but we were doing something I think in breaking ground in Ontario in responding to the need to try and help heroin addicts get off heroin. We launched into the provision of methadone treatment. It was very controversial, but it actually has a proven track record of helping people reclaim their lives and be able to go back to a productive life.

I suppose my concerns might be able to be addressed if somehow or other maybe someone gets a medical certificate that indicates this is what they're ingesting and somehow there's a regulation that allows for that drug, but I don't see it actually working very well.

I think that there is a real danger here that what might be an understandable, punitive approach for someone who has taken steps which have put themselves in a position of being disabled through intoxication of drugs, alcohol or whatever, but that someone who has a really disabling addiction and is trying to work back from that may not be able to get the income support they require during that period of time. So that's an area that I would like us to look at and examine if there is a way of addressing that.

The member for Chatham-Kent indicated that I should not be worried in the concern I raised about liens because it was not the government's intention to place liens on any primary property and that it would only be additional property assets or whatever. I indicated that was not in the legislation and he said it's a matter of interpretation.

I point out to you that under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act -- section 7 is the section dealing with lien on property -- it says, "The director shall in prescribed circumstances, as a condition of eligibility, require a recipient or a dependant who owns or has an interest in property to consent to the ministry having a lien against the property, in accordance with the regulations."

Then if you look to section 54, which I pointed out is the regulation-making section, under paragraph 54(1)12, the Lieutenant Governor in Council, which is the cabinet, has the power to set out regulations "respecting the powers of the director with respect to a lien and the process for securing and discharging a lien."

I would say to the member for Chatham-Kent that there is nowhere in the legislation where what you told us in this House is set out. It's not set out that a lien could only be put on a primary property. It may be that that's the government's intent and it may be that you've seen the regulations that the rest of us haven't, or at least that the ministry has communicated to you that that's what they intend to have in regulations, but this is --

Mr Wildman: Published them.

Ms Lankin: The member for Algoma indicates it would be helpful if the regulations were published so we could debate them in accordance with or at the same time as the legislation, and I agree with that, but more to the point with respect to the disabled community and with respect to a bill whose thrust is to try and ensure independence, control over their own lives, an ability to have the income support and the employment supports to move out into employment, where possible, to receive the income support when needed, all of which I support, I would think if it truly is your intention, you would give the disabled community the assurance that that's what it is and not leave that in regulations. It's easy enough. Under section 7, that could be spelled out in the bill.

I've looked through this three times and I cannot find any reference to what you've said. It's possible that I've missed that and maybe you can show me if I've missed that, but I think this has been left to regulations and it's an area that we should probably address.

There are many areas I would like to talk about. Here's one that I think is really important. Under section 12 of the legislation, "The director may appoint a person to act for a recipient if there is no guardian of property or trustee for that recipient and the director is satisfied that,

"(a) the recipient is using or likely to use his or her income support in a way that is not for the benefit of..." that recipient,

"(b) the recipient is incapacitated or is incapable of handling his or her affairs."

I am shocked at this because there is nothing in here which specifies how the director will come to that determination. And it goes further, to allow that when the director has come to that determination, they could give the benefits to a third person or a person who is acting as a recipient.

We have a whole process in terms of the Substitute Decisions Act and a whole process that people have to go through in order to be determined to be incapable and a whole process of appeal for those people. It's been set out in legislation to guarantee rights for vulnerable persons and disabled persons, yet in this legislation we simply say the director can make this decision.

This is very serious. It has to be tied to some other process like the Substitute Decisions Act, some other legal process for determination of incapacity. You cannot have a director or a bureaucrat simply making this decision and providing benefits to someone else in a very patronizing way.

The member for Chatham-Kent, when he was talking about vocational rehab, said it was very patronizing and said, "We want to move away from that for the disabled community." Then you can't support a provision as patronizing as this which allows a single bureaucrat within the bureaucracy to determine the incapacity of an individual and give their benefits to a third-party recipient on their behalf. I'm saying to the member for Chatham-Kent, you must look at how you tie section 12 to the Substitute Decisions Act and other legal forms of determination of incapacity.

There is much that I would like to say about this but I have 30 seconds left, with the new rules which restrict time. When you have a serious bill with a lot to talk about, you can see that it doesn't allow members to have a full discussion.

If this bill were separated from the Ontario Works bill, I would vote in favour of this and I would work very hard with you to amend some sections that I think are problematic. This bill is headed in the right direction. If you can work together with members of the opposition, I think together we can do something positive for persons with disabilities in Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Because it's almost 6 o'clock, we'll be doing questions and comments when this bill next comes before the House.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Minister without portfolio, I believe you have the business for next week.

Hon Rob Sampson (Minister without Portfolio [Privatization]): Yes, I have the weekly business statement.

Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of September 1, 1997.

On Tuesday, September 2, afternoon sitting, beginning second reading of Bill 152, Services Improvement Act, and in the evening sitting, between 6:30 and 9:30, continuing second reading of Bill 142, Social Assistance Reform Act.

On Wednesday, September 3, afternoon sitting, beginning second reading of Bill 149, Fair Municipal Finance Act (No. 2), and in the evening sitting, continuing second reading of Bill 152, Services Improvement Act.

That gets us to Thursday, September 4. The morning sitting is of course private members' public business, ballot items 93 and 94, and in the afternoon sitting, continuing second reading of Bill 149, Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997 (No. 2).

The Acting Speaker: It now being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Tuesday.

The House adjourned at 1803.