36th Parliament, 1st Session

l242a - Tue 7 Oct 1997 / Mar 7 Oct 1997









































The House met at 1330.




Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): As we all know, October has been designated as Community Support Month by the Ontario Community Support Association. October is a time for reflection, especially on the momentous contribution of the volunteers and staff who look after the livelihood of our elderly, disabled and those with special needs.

This week in particular has been designated Meals on Wheels Week. A simple definition of the Meals on Wheels program is that it provides meals to housebound individuals who are unable to provide meals for themselves. They are the volunteers who give unselfishly of their time and energy to deliver the meals, including on weekends.

We would be remiss if we did not also praise the organizations in our community offering such a service. Let us not forget a most important aspect of this service, one that goes beyond filling the nutritious needs: the social component. To the housebound senior or disabled individual it means there is someone who cares enough who will be arriving with a meal.

Meals on Wheels means seniors can avoid more costly stays in hospitals and long-term facilities. It enables earlier discharge from or delaying admission to these facilities. Throughout Meals on Wheels Week, let us all in our own way be thankful to everyone involved for supporting the elderly, the disabled and those with special needs.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This afternoon I want to very briefly tell you, and perhaps more so the people from down Windsor way, that one of their favourite daughters, Arlene Rousseau, who has been hospitalized now for a considerable length of time, has been with great courage and tenacity -- a courage and tenacity she has displayed in every other aspect of her life -- fighting the illnesses that have plagued her.

People in Windsor and across this province whose lives have been touched by Arlene as a social activist, yes, as a very partisan New Democrat who has never been afraid to take on giants, who has always been there supporting other people, say to Arlene that we wish her a full recovery. We very much want to see Arlene Rousseau back in good health, back active in her community, back, yes, taking on the titans in her typically iconoclastic way, as cheerful and friendly and giving and generous a person as one could ever find, but also as tough a fighter as any partisan would ever encounter in politics, be it on the municipal scene, on the provincial scene or herself as an activist federally in the New Democratic Party as well.

I say to Arlene, on behalf of all of those people who have worked with her and hope to continue to work with her, a full and speedy recovery.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): In my riding of Simcoe East there is some discussion regarding the use of abandoned railway lines between Barrie and Orillia, including the land within the city of Orillia. In some areas the abandoned railway land is adjacent to large parcels of developing property, and there may be consideration by developers and/or municipalities to fold this land into a development package. I, personally, feel the best use of this greenbelt area is public use. It is very important for the people of this province to preserve this land in partnership with the municipalities, conservation authorities and other public and private organizations for public use, including recreation, health, fitness and conservation. The city of Toronto is turning over the CN vacant land to mega-developers for high-rise condos. Let's not make the same mistake in rural Ontario.

Currently in my riding, the township of Tiny has kept the abandoned CN railway track as a public recreation trail for safe hiking, biking and horseback riding. In Hastings county, the 155 kilometres of land between Glen Ross and Lake St Peter are a multi-use corridor for recreation and tourism purposes. In western Ontario, the land links Elora, Fergus, Hillsburgh and Erin with the forks of the Credit, again for recreation and tourism uses.

Since the die has been successfully cast in other regions of the province, I would ask the government and the municipalities to protect the abandoned railway rights-of-way between Barrie, Orillia, Midland and Penetanguishene as a greenbelt corridor for year-round public enjoyment.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm very happy today to be here to present over 650 letters on behalf of teachers from my riding and certainly the schools across Windsor and Essex county. If I may read this letter to the Honourable John Snobelen:

"Dear Mr Snobelen:

"I am a teacher in the Windsor-Essex county area and I have no desire to go on strike. However, I believe through legislation, you will destroy not only the rights of our teaching profession but also the quality of our education system in Ontario.

"Please reconsider your government's actions before you further damage the learning environment of my students."

This is signed by Mrs W. Roshfeld from Holy Names school.

I would also like to note that Alena DiFazio, Jackie Jamail-Lopez and Henry John Harwood from Holy Names have written to us with the same message to the minister. We have a number of schools: St Josephs High School, Luigi DiFazio. There's a letter from Charles Church talking very briefly about:

"I'm a teacher in Windsor and I do not wish to end up on strike. However, if your government insists on tabling your announced reforms to the education system in Ontario, you leave me little choice but to hit the bricks.

"I'm at a loss why you believe that eliminating permanent contracts and turning us into indentured servants will make better education in this province."

Let's remember that this is about cuts to education, and we must support the teachers in Windsor and Essex county.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Yesterday, in the afternoon, there were hundreds and hundreds of students who left their schools and came here to the front lawn to protest in support of their teachers. The numbers of students now reach over the thousands who have walked out, hit the streets themselves and said, "We support our teachers on this." Last night we saw over 20,000 teachers gather at Maple Leaf Gardens.

The level of anxiety and impending crisis is as high as I have ever seen it in this province. I want to implore the government, the Premier and the Minister of Education to please step in and cool the temperature down, because I worry about the 2.1 million students out there who are going to be affected by this. We have got teachers and students and parents and communities very worried. It is the government's responsibility now to step back and to take the rhetoric down.

The minister continues to incite this situation when he calls teachers' demonstrating "of no import." Please, Mr Minister, it is your responsibility. You may want change, but it doesn't have to be this way. Put the bill aside, get the funding formula out, work with people to show how education reform will improve education and not just cut it, and maybe you can restore some credibility and some calm and ensure our kids get their education.


Mr Gary L. Leadston (Kitchener-Wilmot): I'm rising in the House today to remind everyone that October 10 through 18 is the annual Oktoberfest celebration in Kitchener-Waterloo.

In 29 years, K-W Oktoberfest has developed its own traditions, becoming the largest Bavarian festival in North America, with the greatest Thanksgiving Day parade in Canada. Thousands of visitors celebrate annually in 21 festhallen or by attending one or more of their 45 family and cultural events.

Through the celebration of the spirit of gemütlichkeit, the local economy is stimulated and over 70 charities and not-for-profit organizations benefit financially. Willkommen to all members of the House and to the people of Ontario to visit Kitchener and Waterloo and enjoy the celebration.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Many people in Ontario were favourably impressed when, during the leaders' debate in May 1995 in the provincial election campaign, Conservative leader Mike Harris stated, in reply to a question from one of the panellists in the news media, "Certainly I can guarantee you it is not my plan to close hospitals." No mention was made of drastically changing the role of or closing any Niagara region hospitals. No indication was given that the doors of any St Catharines hospital would be closed as a result of any policy contained in the so-called Common Sense Revolution of the Ontario Conservative Party. The Premier was firm and blunt when he promised that it was not his plan to close hospitals.

At the launch of the 50th anniversary of the Hotel Dieu Hospital in St Catharines last Friday, a letter from Premier Harris was read that contained the following sentence: "Please accept my best wishes for this year's celebration and for the many more years to come." With the axe hanging over the head of the Hotel Dieu Hospital as a result of the Niagara Hospital Restructuring Committee report, based upon enormous projected cuts in hospital operating budgets by the Harris government, I will take the word of Premier Harris that he will guarantee he has no plans to close hospitals and that he sees Hotel Dieu continuing to exist for many more years to come.

I'll be kind enough as well to interpret that guarantee and those wishes to extend to the St Catharines General Hospital and the Shaver Hospital as well.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Francophone education in northern Ontario took a giant leap forward on Saturday when Collège Boréal in Sudbury had a successful opening gala. The member for Sudbury East and I were pleased to see the final product of an objective we had while in government. At the opening, a great many people came up to me and told me, "If it hadn't been for the NDP government's commitment to francophone education and training, Collège Boréal would never have happened." The francophone community of northeastern Ontario realizes one of their goals: post-secondary education in their northern communities, in their own language.

I want to congratulate the people who formed the collective so many years ago and never lost sight of their goal. Their dedication and hard work has paid off. The new facilities and other campuses across northern Ontario are a direct result of their efforts.

I look forward to Collège Boréal building a proud tradition of excellence in education and producing a long line of top-notch graduates. I have long maintained that when any part of our community suffers in its level of education and training, we all pay the price. I hope the Minister of Education is listening.

Collège Boréal is a positive move towards equalizing opportunities for francophones in the north. It is a tremendous leap forward for the north as a whole. Félicitations à nos amis au Collège Boréal.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): In recent days I've had an opportunity to speak with staff at Minto-Clifford public school and Centre Wellington District High School regarding the provincial government's plans for education reform, and last Thursday I had a chance to meet with representatives of the high school teachers' federation in Wellington. I believe that the vast majority of teachers are devoted to their students and strive for excellence in education. The advice of our teachers is crucial to the government as they contemplate changes to the education system.

Bill 160 is a proposal; it is not yet law. Through consultation, suggestions will be considered and changes are very likely to occur. The minister sincerely wants to improve the education system, but he needs the help of all of our partners in education. The teachers' position at present is different from the province's position on Bill 160. That is a given. But this gap will not be bridged by engaging in extreme rhetoric. We will only solve our differences through calm, reasoned discussion. I'm very pleased that the Minister of Education has offered to meet with the teachers' federation and I'm pleased that they've accepted his invitation. We all lose if the teachers walk out, but most of all this action would hurt students.

I believe that some of us need to be reminded that this action would be illegal. No member of the Legislature can condone or endorse it. I know that some teachers question the need for the proposed changes to education. However, the provincial government still has a $6.6-billion deficit and a debt that's growing. The government has a mandate to balance the budget and there's a public consensus that we must stop adding to our provincial debt.

As MPP for Wellington, I want to encourage the government and our teachers to work --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Last night, you will know, something probably unprecedented in the history of this province took place. Over 20,000 teachers appeared on the front lawn of this building here at Queen's Park. I know you are making desperate efforts to marginalize our teachers and to make the argument that somehow these people are entirely self-interested. I can tell you without any hesitation whatsoever that our teachers are out there in defence of public education. That's what this is all about.

They understand implicitly, because they are there on the front lines, that your cuts have already hurt students. They know that firing thousands of teachers is not going to improve education in Ontario and they know that taking another $1 billion out of our schools is not going to improve education.

My question is this: Have you learned your lesson? Will you now agree not to take a further penny out of education in Ontario?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): If the Leader of the Opposition was surprised by the ability of teachers' unions in Ontario to stage a rally, I can tell you that you are the only one in the province who is surprised. Certainly this is not without precedent. If the Leader of the Opposition will look back in time he will find there have been similar protests against virtually every government in Ontario and against provincial governments of every political stripe across Canada as they've gone through the changes Ontario is now in the face of, on how to improve our education system so we can make sure we're offering the best to our students. So it's not surprising.

We hope the talks we have scheduled now with the heads of the teachers' unions for tomorrow will be fruitful. It will be an opportunity to sit down and discuss the issues in front of us, how to improve student achievement in Ontario, in a very civilized way, in a way where we can get to the issues and talk about them fruitfully.

Mr McGuinty: Last night I told Ontario teachers something they are dying to hear from you. I told them that in Ontario we value teaching, that in Ontario we value our teachers, and that in Ontario we understand one of the single most important responsibilities our government and our teachers have got to share is to teach our young.

That's what I told them and that's what you should be telling them. Do you know what you're telling them instead? You're telling them you can't trust them. Your own Premier said, "We can't trust Ontario teachers to deliver quality education." He actually said that. Teaching our kids is one of the most important things we can do and Bill 160 stands against that. Minister, once again, will you pull us back from the brink? Tell us this bill is not about taking thousands of teachers out of our schools.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition, instead of having to go to the exercise of having speechwriters write his material, would just look up in Hansard the many, many times I have stood in this House and said repeatedly that the backbone of our education system is our teachers, that they are among the most highly qualified teachers anywhere in the world.

I have said on many occasions over the course of the last two months that I respect the honesty, the dignity, the integrity and the ethics of the teachers in Ontario, and that's why I believe they don't want to participate in any illegal action, particularly not honouring their contracts or their obligations to students. The Leader of the Opposition has not shown that faith in teachers. He has said the opposite.

Mr McGuinty: The minister is suddenly singing a different tune. He now tells us that Ontario teachers are indeed responsible and that they are good and that they are doing what it takes in the classroom. I can tell you they really feel that responsibility. In particular, they feel their responsibility to protect public education and that's why they were there last night, 24,000 strong, because they understand what Bill 160 is all about. It's about taking teachers out of our teachers out of our schools, it's about taking another $1 billion out of our classrooms. We're going to be into Thanksgiving pretty soon. Maybe it's time you took this turkey off the table.

Tonight thousands more teachers across the province will be meeting in protest of Bill 160. Minister, surely you will have learned your lesson by this point in time. Can you take us back from the brink? Would you withdraw Bill 160? If you can't do that, at least let's put it on the shelf so we can avoid a province-wide strike.


Hon Mr Snobelen: Having had the bill in the House for some time now, a couple of weeks, the Leader of the Opposition has now made his substantive contribution to how we should improve education in Ontario. He has also stated I think very clearly the view of his party on student performance and improving student performance in the province, and that is: "Put it off. Don't improve it. Leave it mediocre. Don't help our students." That's your approach, sir. That's not our approach.

We will take on the tough questions. We are looking forward to substantive discussions with teachers' unions so we can resolve the issue of growing class size, of growing education property taxes and of a decline in the quality of education in Ontario. We will spend the time, we will expend the energy and we will not try to avoid the tough questions as you have, sir.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): In the absence of the Minister of Health, I'll go to the Deputy Premier. Over a month ago I raised a concern in this House about emergency departments closing their doors to ambulances in the Metro Toronto area, and they were doing that because they were too busy; they simply couldn't handle the load. I raised that with the Minister of Health and he simply dismissed my concerns out of hand.

Yesterday at noon we learned that 16 of 21 area hospitals were turning away patients because they were filled to capacity right here in Toronto. That has, to my knowledge, never happened before in Ontario, never. What you have done to date is you have cut about $1 billion from Ontario hospital budgets, so I'm going to put the question to you this time: Do you still maintain that your cuts aren't affecting patient care?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): First of all, we are spending more money than ever before on health care in Ontario, some $18.5 billion. I know that the member from Thunder Bay, when she was the leader of your party, promised to spend $17 billion a year. We're spending $1.5 billion more than your party would have, had you been elected in June 1995.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Oriole, come to order, please. I want to be able to hear the minister's response and I can't.

Hon Mr Eves: Second of all, any suggestion that emergency services are being reduced or negatively affected by restructuring is false. No facilities have closed in Metropolitan Toronto; none whatsoever, I say to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr McGuinty: The minister maintains that somehow he's bringing about improvement in health care. You've taken nearly $1 billion out of Ontario hospital budgets. Let's talk about some of the details of what happened yesterday right here in Metro Toronto: Eight of those 20 emergency wards were turning away all calls, even the most critical, life-threatening calls. Eight out of 20 emergency wards in Metropolitan Toronto said, "Don't send us anybody, no matter how critical the case." That's happening in your Ontario.

Furthermore, there wasn't a single emergency room accepting patients in all of Scarborough; not a single one. Remember, this is what is happening. This is what is happening right now. This is the status quo. You know what you've introduced into this? You've said: "We'll cut six more emergency departments. We'll shut down six hospitals." What you're doing in the face of a tremendous effort on the part of emergency departments to cope with the load is you're saying, "We're going to get rid of six of you." Where are all those emergency patients going to go when you cut the next six emergency departments?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member might want to apprise the public, when he's up here grandstanding today, that every single hospital in the Metropolitan Toronto region indicated that it would accept any life-threatening case yesterday. I didn't hear that in the preamble to his question. That wouldn't suit his political purpose.

Hospitals going on redirect consideration or critical care bypass is absolutely nothing new, I say to the leader of the official opposition. He should know because Elinor Caplan put this system in place when she was the Minister of Health in the Liberal David Peterson government, and it's there for a proper purpose. It was properly done by David Peterson and Elinor Caplan. The system is there to accommodate certain situations. It works and it functions well, and it did yesterday, and not one single critical care patient was turned away yesterday. You leaving any other impression simply is not correct, sir.

Mr McGuinty: Maybe I should quote a story for the purposes of the minister so he better understands what I'm talking about here. The Toronto Star says, "Eight hospital emergency wards were so busy they refused to accept patients arriving in ambulances for a half-hour period, no matter how serious the patient's condition -- a rare situation called `critical care bypass.'" I'm not talking about redirect consideration here, I'm talking about critical care bypass. Perhaps the minister will be given an opportunity shortly to answer me.

Minister, what we're talking about here is a number of --

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Just what are we talking about?


The Speaker: Members for Nepean, Lambton.

Mr McGuinty: Minister, eight emergency wards were put on critical care bypass. That means no matter how sick you are, no matter how dangerous your condition, they can't receive you because they're too busy. That's what that means.

The Speaker: Questions?

Mr McGuinty: This has, to my knowledge, never, ever happened before in Metropolitan Toronto, and it's happening in Windsor too. You may feel this is satisfactory for health care in Ontario, but I don't. Why not postpone your hospital closures and why not restore your cuts until you can guarantee --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Eves: I reiterate to the leader of the official opposition, no restructuring has taken place yet, no emergency departments have closed down. He would know that the Health Services Restructuring Commission report -- and I'm sure he wanted to get this out in the public -- recommends, and it will be done, that six emergency departments will be expanded upon and improved when restructuring takes place. He also knows, or should know, that redirect consideration --


The Speaker: I'm going to tell the members for Windsor-Sandwich and for Oakwood, I'm warning you now, don't heckle any more. I want to hear the minister's response.

Hon Mr Eves: Redirect consideration or critical care bypass was implemented as a safety valve by your government because they thought it was needed, and they were correct. It is needed from time to time. It is indeed a rare occasion on which these things occur.

The Speaker: Answer, please.

Hon Mr Eves: But I say to the honourable member, we are spending $18.5 billion in the health care system. He said, on September 22, 1996, "I am convinced that there's" --

The Speaker: Thank you.


The Speaker: Minister of Finance, can you please come to order. I'll warn the member. Thank you.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. From the minister and from members of his party over the last weeks, we have heard repeatedly that the opposition to Bill 160 doesn't come from rank-and-file teachers across the province but only from "union bosses" and "activists" -- the terms they have used. Obviously the rally and demonstration last night has put paid to that notion.

Everyone in the province except, apparently, the Minister of Education and Training and his government knows that we face a very critical situation, where Ontario teachers have been pushed to the brink of a province-wide strike, disrupting the education of students across the province. Some 24,000 teachers rallied in Toronto last night. They made it clear: The minister has created this situation; now he has to fix it.

I'm asking the minister what he is going to do to avert a disruption to the education of the students in this province. Does he have a plan to avert this crisis now that he has created it?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Let's be clear about who created what in the province. You left our students with a school system that produced mediocre results. You left our students with a debt of $41,000 each, a debt that diminishes their future and their future prospects, an education system that diminished their future and their future prospects and the prospects of this province. That's your legacy to the students of Ontario.

We have been working very hard over the last two years in building a better quality of education for our students. We have been addressing the tough questions. We have been asking: Why aren't our students performing better than other students in Canada? Are our dollars directed in a way that makes a difference with our students? Are we measuring the quality issues we should be measuring, and measuring them carefully? We are addressing those questions one by one, as we build a better foundation for our students. That's what this is all about. We won't rest until the students in Ontario have the best performance of any students in Canada.

Mr Wildman: This from a minister who says it's time to cool the rhetoric; this from a minister who, at the same time, tells teachers they've got to grow up; this from a minister who refuses to accept that teachers, parents and students have legitimate complaints about his actions and the legislation he is putting forward on behalf of the government. He suggests that the thousands of teachers who are rallying this week across Ontario and considering that they may have to take strike action are somehow dishonourable if they do that. This from a minister who last week said, "I believe our system has failed teachers." I'm asking the minister, is he prepared to begin serious and sincere negotiations tomorrow when he meets with the representatives of the teachers' federations, or are we just going to hear more slogans from the Common Sense Revolution?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm glad that we'll have the opportunity tomorrow to begin a substantive conversation with the teachers' unions on issues that we think are important to the students of the province. That includes an ability to end the growth in class size in the province -- we're very concerned about that; to address the time that teachers spend in class with their students, particularly in the high school panel; to look at the time that students have to spend on task in Ontario. We know that in Alberta there are about 1,000 hours for a student in high school; in Ontario there are about 850 hours. We think we're selling our students short in time on task. We want to talk to them about how they can be backed up by experts in the classroom so our students have the opportunity to learn from the very best experts in the field under the supervision of certified teachers.

Those are issues for the students for the future of Ontario, and we believe they must be addressed and that we must have an adult conversation about those issues. That will begin tomorrow.

Mr Wildman: I guess the minister just told teachers again that they have to grow up.

The minister says that the system has failed teachers. In our view, the minister has failed to meet his responsibility to provide a sound, equitable and quality education system for the students in this province. The minister seems ready to let thousands of teachers walk out in protest over his power grab in Bill 160. I'm asking the minister to cool down the situation, to amend Bill 160, to leave teachers' working conditions and students' learning conditions to the collective bargaining process rather than centralizing it in his own hands. I'm asking the minister to commit today that any and all savings from school board restructuring will be reinvested in the education system to benefit our students. Will the minister make those commitments on the eve of his meeting with the teachers?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member for Algoma should know that what you left our students was a mediocre system. We have improved that, with better curriculum, expectations on a grade-by-grade basis, a province-wide report card, an outside agency measuring the student performance in the province, because we think it's that important. We've had a number of improvements to our education system over the last two years. We'll continue to have those improvements.

But at the end of the day, I want to assure the member for Algoma that when we meet tomorrow what will be on the table is this government's commitment to having a better education system for our students, this government's commitment to making the changes that other provinces have already made, so we can get ahead of the education train instead of being where you left us, sir, the caboose on the education train in Canada. We will make those changes.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have another question for the Minister of Education and Training, since the last answer was so enlightening.

The teachers' rally last night really shows how out of touch the minister is with what's happening among teachers in this province. There are solutions for the crisis looming for our students. The minister claims he didn't cut classroom education: He only took $800 million from school boards, and he knows they had no option but to pass those cuts on to students and classrooms. If the minister were to ask parents and students across Ontario if the cuts he made have affected their classrooms, he'd hear a resounding yes.

There's one solution. The minister should promise today that there will be no more cuts to the education budget under his government. Will the minister make that commitment?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I guess it's time to correct the record. The member for Algoma has made some suggestions that I don't believe can be backed up by fact. I think if he looks carefully, he'll find the spending year over year in the province of Ontario has gone up in education although the enrolment has gone down.

We did present the boards with a challenge to find savings in administration and in the bureaucracy of education, to find those savings. We did present them with that challenge. Their response was to increase property taxes. Their response was to increase the amount of money spent in education while enrolment went down.

We have to have a better funding system for our students. We've taken that on. We have a blank page, and our question is this: What does it take to provide a first-quality education for every student in the province? We will meet that figure and we will do that with the interests of our students first and foremost in our minds.

Mr Wildman: After the minister took $800 million out of the classrooms of this province, he then brought in Bill 104, which gutted the power of school boards and local control over education in communities. He gave trustees the responsibility of representing vastly larger areas and many more students, and yet he put a limit on what they could do. The minister has taken away the power of school boards to raise revenues but left them in charge of negotiating salaries and benefits for teachers and education workers and for meeting the needs of their students and their communities, without any power to make decisions.

Surely the minister can at least make the promise today that any and all savings taken out of school board restructuring will be reinvested in the education of our students and our schools. I'm pleading with the minister to make that commitment to the students, the parents and the teachers of the province.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm pleased to tell the member for Algoma that time and time again I have stood in this chamber and said that we will meet whatever the figure is to provide a first-quality education to every student in the province. We mean that. That is why we're going through the hard work of a zero-based budget, looking at what our students need, making sure we can adjust it across the province for changing needs for different students, making sure we get the funding right, because we owe that to our students, and we will do that.


Perhaps the member for Algoma has missed quotes from people who have looked at the system. Let me read a quote to you. "We spend per capita more on education than most other places in the world. I think it's a question of focus and a question of how we can get the system to do its job." I agree with that quote -- Bob Rae, the Ottawa Citizen, February 6, 1992.

Mr Wildman: The comments the minister is quoting and is making here today show how out of touch he is with those teachers who packed Maple Leaf Gardens last night, Carlton Street and the lawn out in front of the Legislature. The minister thinks that by saying he won't remove the teachers' right to strike or their representation by their federations, he has satisfied their concerns about Bill 160. But the minister has left in the bill two of the things that are closest to teachers' hearts: their professionalism and their right to collectively bargain their working conditions and their students' learning conditions. The minister uses rhetoric about teachers' professionalism, saying they won't go on strike because of it, but then he uses regulatory powers to remove that professionalism from them and to put non-professionals in the classroom to teach students.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Your question?

Mr Wildman: There's a solution to this crisis. The minister should drop the list of non-negotiables and go to the meeting tomorrow with the representatives of the teachers in a truly open and honest --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Snobelen: I disagree with the member for Algoma. I know he won't be surprised. I believe that the thing closest to the hearts of the teachers of Ontario is the future of their students. The only thing that is non-negotiable in going into our talks tomorrow is the future of the students in the province of Ontario. That's the only thing that's not negotiable.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question again to the Deputy Premier. I want to talk to you about your hospital destruction commission and the way it continues to threaten rural hospitals. Earlier this year, your Minister of Health said that the rural hospitals needed a different approach than large urban areas; that new benchmarks would be found to deal with those rural hospitals. There was a sudden awakening at the last minute to try to put that in place.

But now we find that the Lambton report, which occasioned all of this, has come out, and guess what? The commission didn't use any rural benchmarks; they used the same old benchmarks they used everywhere else. They've cut the beds 40% in that area. We need to know --

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): You've got your facts all wrong. Read the report.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Lambton, come to order, please. Members for Etobicoke-Humber and Grey-Owen Sound, please come to order.

Mr Kennedy: No doubt, Deputy Premier, the member for Lambton would be very interested to know that at the very same time the commission was releasing its report, the committee setting the benchmarks for rural hospitals was still meeting at the OHA, so there's no way they're using those things.

The people in Grimsby, Petrolia, Walkerton, Port Colborne and Fort Erie want to know: Have you misled them, or is there really a rural health policy, and will it take precedence over what we saw happen last week?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The honourable member knows quite well that there is indeed a rural health care policy and the Health Services Restructuring Commission is obliged to take that into account when they're making decisions about these issues.

Mr Kennedy: Deputy Premier, that cannot be very much consolation to the people of Petrolia, who don't know now that 22 beds is all they're going to have at maximum, and that has been set by the same old benchmarks. I'll tell you what the people of Petrolia want. They want what has come to be known as the Burk's Falls standard. They want that policy, which allows local people to say they want a hospital and get to keep one.

Minister, I'll put it to you again: The head of the commission says the new policy is just something he'll take under advisement but he's going to go and visit every single rural community. The commission is going to go there. At the same time, the ministry is working with the hospitals, setting up committees, it has mediators and it hasn't even finished the benchmarks yet. Which is it going to be? Is this government finally going to take charge of health care policy or was this all a public relations sham, and you're actually going to let those hospitals shut down without a proper process that takes their special needs into account?

Hon Mr Eves: I am advised that the Health Care Restructuring Commission has deferred its decision on the Petrolia hospital until the Lambton District Health Council has completed its application of the rural health care framework for Lambton county. This isn't the first time that this same honourable member has exaggerated the facts, to put it kindly, coming into this House with respect to health care structuring.

You might be interested to know what the CEO of Humber River Regional Hospital said to the honourable member in a letter of September 12, "You seem most interested in generating fear within the community around safety and quality of care provided to individuals regardless of whether or not the facts support this conclusion." You've done it here again today. You are not credible. You are not believable.


The Speaker: Member for Durham East -- everybody is out of order for heckling, but you are also out of order for not being in your seat. In fact, I'm not even sure where you sit any more, to be quite honest with you. New question, third party. Member for London Centre.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the junior minister responsible for seniors and long-term care. It concerns the crisis your government is creating with the provision of home care services. Underneath the looming financial crisis that faces the Red Cross is the your government's vision of competition in the provision of community-based long-term-care services and the havoc it is creating with the stability and quality of those services.

The competitive marketplace model you're insisting on imposing in this area is systematically driving down wages of the workers and the hours of service available to the people who depend on those workers. Your ministry's own guidelines for the bidding process that service providers now must follow indicate quite clearly that in order to compete, providers have to cut down wages or the number of service hours or even both.

Minister, this is the real problem facing the Red Cross. We sent a letter to the Minister of Health asking him to meet with us, the Red Cross and employee representatives in order to straighten the mess out. He hasn't responded. He's not here again today. Will you meet with us to discuss this issue?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Briefly, I just want to be clear: The title is Minister without Portfolio responsible for Seniors Issues. I would ask that you address him in that fashion.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): First of all I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I want to assure the member that her characterization of the substantive infrastructure of home care in this province is not as she would have this House believe. The truth is that there were several problems associated with home care in this province. It was underfunded by the previous government. There was not consistent assessment of seniors, whether they were living in your riding in London or in your colleague's riding of Hamilton.

The truth is that we have an accountable system. We flowed additional dollars to expand health care services. Frankly, whether or not people compete to provide higher quality at a good price is not the issue in this province. The issue is that this government has increased growth dollars for home care in this province by about $170 million, not only in the home care panel but also forming part of community-based supports, and her own community of London has benefited from that.


Mrs Boyd: Minister, you obviously don't get it. Driving down the wages of workers and lowering the standards of care are not going to build healthy communities. Moreover, you still have a very serious problem with hard-to-serve communities. Your competitive model provides for a transition period for current providers so that they have a protected share of the market. You call it a market. We call it health care.

The transition package provides for a minimum wage which is below current Red Cross wage rates. Leave out the whole pay equity problem and you still have a looming crisis for the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is the sole provider for home care in 45 hard-to-serve areas and, given the size of their operation, they can operate in some communities in the red only because they have the size to carry that operation in other communities.

The Speaker: Question?

Mrs Boyd: The Red Cross has higher wage costs and a decent benefit package and your competitive model is trying to drive providers who provide decent wages and competitive benefit packages out of business. When will you respond --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Mr Jackson: The features of home care in Ontario are designed for the patient and the client first. Their services are required as the first component part of how we develop our health care system.

Second, I remind the member opposite, a former cabinet minister in the government who waited for five years and never did implement long-term care, that under your plan you were going to close down the Red Cross and turn that into a civil service position and you weren't going to protect those workers.

The government of Mike Harris has taken the thousands of workers in this province and it has said to them and agencies like VON, Red Cross, visiting homemakers and St Elizabeth -- do you know where the word "market" came up? We said to those workers: "Your jobs are protected in this province. Your pay is protected in this province. Your market share" -- that you referred to -- "is protected in this province." It's only by bringing 170 million new dollars into home care that we've been able to deliver on that election promise, something you didn't do in five years.

Mrs Boyd: That is not true. You cut off pay equity.

The Speaker: Member for London Centre, you must withdraw that heckle, that comment I heard, the fact that what he was suggesting wasn't true.

Mrs Boyd: Mr Speaker --

The Speaker: No, just withdraw or not. I heard you say it.

Mrs Boyd: I withdraw.

The Speaker: Thank you. New question. Member for Quinte.


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. My constituents quite often ask me about the state of the provincial highways, roads that have been left too long with improper repair, making driving not only uncomfortable and inconvenient but sometimes downright dangerous. As we are nearing the end of the construction season, I think it would be appropriate to tell us how much has been done this year to improve the state of the highways in Ontario.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): My colleague is absolutely correct about the condition of some of our highways. Previous governments have allowed the deterioration of some of our roads by not spending the dollars that were required. I am pleased to tell the member for Quinte that this year our construction budget is $562 million. We are again spending over $300 million on rehabilitation projects to protect the $30-billion investment we have, something previous governments had forgotten all about. That's a lot more money than the previous governments have ever spent, and at the same time we are still going ahead with a few key expansion projects such as Highway 416. Finally the nation's capital is going to have a four-lane highway from the 401.

Mr Rollins: Dollar figures are well and good, but I would like to know how much road work we actually did this year, how many highways we repaired and how many bridges we fixed.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Quinte.

Mr Rollins: I'll start over again. The dollar figures we know to be expressed quite nicely, but I would like to know exactly how many roads we have fixed and how many bridges we have spent time on. Could you give us that information for this summer?

Hon Mr Palladini: This year the ministry will have completed the rehabilitation of approximately 4,800 kilometres of highway -- to put that in perspective, that's just about the length of Canada -- the rehabilitation or replacement of 167 bridges, as the member pointed out, and 120 projects to improve safety on our highways.

I think all members would be interested to know that the ministry is continually looking to reduce overheads so more of our dollars go into the roads, with any savings being reinvested in our highways and bridges. For example, the ministry usually spends between 70% and 74% of the highway capital budget on construction. The figure this year is going to be over 80%.

We will protect our highway infrastructure with the funding support that's required because we know how important it is to Ontario's economy not only from that point but also from a safety standpoint, something that previous governments neglected to do.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance and it has to do with the impact on property taxes of Mike Harris's plan to dump costs on to municipalities.

We know from the figures you released that the plan is to add about $660 million of costs to municipalities when you take into account that you are discontinuing next year the municipal support grant program. Mike Harris said on August 6 that across the province property tax cuts should average 5% to 10%. So the government is planning to add, on an ongoing basis, about $660 million to the cost for municipalities, but Mike Harris said they should reduce property taxes, on average, 5% to 10%. Can you explain for the people of Ontario how the property taxes will be cut by 5% to 10% when you're adding $660 million of costs?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The Premier also said that if municipalities can find 2.7% efficiencies in their operations -- and they certainly should be able to do that; I haven't talked to a municipal leader who says he or she can't do that -- it will be a break-even proposition. If they can do that for three consecutive years, for sure they can find a 5% to 10% savings in their taxes.

Mr Phillips: Actually, that does not take into account at all the $660 million you're adding in costs.

The Premier himself engaged David Crombie and the Who Does What panel, 15 of the most trusted people Mike Harris could find, to look at this issue. They said, "We strongly oppose putting social housing, social assistance and child care on to the property tax." In fact, they said they were unanimous against that. The reason is that if we run into an economic downturn, property taxes are not the place where social housing and social assistance should be funded. That's what Dave Crombie said; that's what the panel said.

I assume the government has modelled this, has looked at it, has studied it, and understands the increased cost that will be put on property taxes when we run into an economic downturn. The question is, will you agree to release those impact studies on what impact this will have on property taxes when we run into an economic downturn? I think the people of Ontario want to know what the impact will be on property taxes and the terrific increase we could face on property taxes in the future with an economic downturn.


Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member is aware that the government presented its Who Does What plan to municipalities. AMO and also representatives of ROMA, FONOM and large urban municipalities came back to the government with their proposal for delineation of responsibilities. We accepted.

He will also know that in accepting their proposal, the social assistance cost was reduced from 50% to 20% for municipalities. Most municipalities are already paying 20%, and have been, depending on the particular municipality in which you happen to reside. The municipalities came to us with this proposal. They thought it was a fair proposal. We accepted it.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the minister responsible for women's issues. We learned today that the government has decided not to appeal the decision restoring proxy pay equity to 100,000 of the lowest-paid women in the broader public sector. Finally, you accepted the judge's ruling that Bill 26 was unconstitutional when it tried to take this money away. This is truly good news, but only if the government now lives up to its responsibility to provide pay equity funding to the women's shelters, nursing homes, home care providers, child care centres and other agencies that are the employers of these women.

Minister, it will be a cruel hoax indeed if you download the costs of your foolish Bill 26 decision on to the agencies, forcing them to reduce services and eliminate jobs because of your government's incompetence. Will you commit today to full provincial funding for proxy pay equity?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): In response to the member's question, we did decide not to appeal the O'Leary decision on proxy pay equity and the court's decision about the proxy pay equity obligations of the broader public sector employers.

In response to your specific question about how we're going to deal with the other agencies that may be coping with this challenge, we now know that we have already committed up to $500 million in funding towards pay equity in the broader public sector. I am aware and will be made more aware of any implications that may take place as a result of this ruling today. I will be discussing this with my colleagues, and I cannot answer your question directly at this time.

Ms Churley: Minister, you don't get it still, do you? You're not listening to the people of Ontario, because I can tell you they want you to stop financing your tax cuts on the backs of the women of this province. We have had enough. We're talking about fair pay for women and we're talking about the vital health care and community services that we need now and for the future.

Let me remind you what the judge's ruling said on this issue. He said that to implement his decision without full provincial funding would send large numbers of the employers of these women into bankruptcy. That would be terrible for the women of Ontario and destructive for the kind of healthy communities we need to be building in our province. What part of the judge's ruling do you not understand?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Because I haven't had an opportunity to talk to the finance minister, I would like to refer this question to the Minister of Finance, who will be able to answer the question.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I can say quite directly to the honourable member, the government has decided not to appeal the decision. We will make sure the broader public sector employers not only obey the decision but have the ability to live up to and fund the decision.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question today is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who has the responsibility for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

In speaking with many of my constituents in Scarborough Centre, they have expressed support for the pilot Sunday opening project that the LCBO had during the month of August this year. One of the reasons they want to shop on Sundays at the LCBO is that they enjoy the fine quality of Ontario's wines and they like to have that with their dinner on Sunday.

What can the minister tell my constituents in the riding of Scarborough Centre about the results of this project and the reaction he has received about the project across Ontario and what his intentions are for Sunday shopping in Scarborough Centre and the rest of Ontario?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I thank the member for Scarborough Centre for the question. As I understand it, if you want to see the question and the answer, you can view it on his Web site at www.hellonewman.com.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I think the opposition parties want to hear that again. That's www.hellonewman.com.

First of all, it was in response to the consumer that we looked at a pilot project in August for the five Sundays. A lot of the demand was coming from border cities or from tourist areas that wanted to see money kept in Ontario. This is driven by consumer demand -- we've looked at this in December over the last two years -- and so far there's been a fairly positive response.

Looking at some of the response in the media, for example, I think the only negative thing I saw was that one lady was interviewed in the LCBO store on a Sunday. She said she didn't like it, so they asked, "What are you doing here?" She said, "I needed a bottle of wine for my barbecue today and it was convenient for me." I tell you, we're looking for the reaction from the consumer, to respond to them.

I must say as well that we looked at the cross-border shopping issue. The money has stayed in Ontario, which is good for our economy, but we've also noticed an increase in some of the American spending in Ontario because we have greater varieties and a greater range available here. Of course, that's not to disregard the effect it has on reducing the black market and reducing the bootlegging and illegal responses. That's what we see so far.

Mr Newman: I want to thank the minister for his answer and mentioning my Web site, www.hellonewman.com.

Traditionally, Ontario has been slow in terms of opening its LCBO stores on Sundays. Many of my constituents have noticed, as they've travelled across the province, distilleries, breweries and wineries that sell their projects on Sundays. They wonder why the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is not open.

Other jurisdictions that border Ontario that have their liquor stores open on Sundays. We'd like to know if the minister can explain why the LCBO is not open on Sundays while other stores in Ontario and in those other jurisdictions are.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member mentioned the fact that sale of alcoholic beverages is not new in Ontario right now. In fact, currently the micro-breweries, the wineries and also distilleries and wine stores are open on Sundays to sell. In fact, there are 289 of these open, places such as the Amsterdam Brewing Co, for example, which, by the way, is launching two new lines today because of the confidence they have in the Ontario economy, which is creating more jobs.

This is not a new experience in Canada either. New Brunswick and Quebec currently have Sunday sales, as do many of the states which border upon Ontario. The concern we have is to make sure we keep that money in Ontario and make sure the jobs stay in Ontario. Once again this is not an idea we came up with on our own; this idea was also proposed by the OLBEU employees through their solutions. There's been a fair amount of acceptance so far but we haven't completed the studies yet.



Mr David Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Adult day school programs like the one in my riding at Georges Vanier Secondary School have an 83% success rate in ensuring that young adults move from school to further education or to a job.

Your cuts to date have forced young adults into continuing education programs. These do not offer the prior learning assessment, full-time attention and learning facilities that have meant success rather than failure. What young adults need to know is why you won't commit to adequately funding a proven program, giving adult day schools the funding they need to continue. You will be making these decisions with your funding formula and its recommendations. You will be telling boards how to spend their dollars with your changes in Bill 160.

Minister, stand in your place today and guarantee that your changes will mean full funding for adult day school, and if you won't, what are you going to do to offer students who need this type of education to get off welfare, to get a job, to support both themselves and their families?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I'm pleased the member today has recognized that in the allocation model, the funding which will meet the needs of our students across the province, there is a separate section in the funding to meet the needs of adult students. We recognize that those needs are different than the needs of adolescents, that the responsibility is different to adults than it is to adolescents. Of course that's well established and well documented, and we will meet those needs.

Mr Caplan: It's unbelievable. This minister has no answer. Through his own funding proposals, through his downgrading of adult education, he has effectively removed access to adult education day school in this province. It is shameful. It's absolutely shameful.

Minister, your funding formula and your adult education component of that is a total mystery, not only to yourself but to this House, because you won't unveil the proposals. I have to ask you again, with your elimination of adult day school programs, what programs will you offer young adults?

We have proven education and training programs to get people off welfare, to get a job and to support both themselves and their families. Don't offer them testing. Offer them what they need, a program with an 83% proven success rate. Your changes have brought about this crisis in adult education. Guarantee that you will restore the funding today. Will you commit to that, Minister?

Hon Mr Snobelen: The member opposite should know that this government certainly values adult education. That's why we have a separate component of the allocation model to be dedicated to adult education. The member opposite should know we are doing this on a zero-based formula, so that we look at what are those needs and what does it take to meet those needs, as we are doing with adolescent students.

The member opposite surely does not think adults should be put in a system of education, or at least thrown into a system of education, that was designed for adolescents. He must recognize, I suspect, that those are different needs temporally, different needs in terms of the class number and size and method of delivery. Surely the member opposite would recognize that and recognize that we must address those issues separately from adolescent education. In the past governments have lumped the two together. We've taken them as separate issues, separate sets of needs, separate costs. That's the approach we're talking.


Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Deputy Premier. Yesterday your response to the member from Windsor about profits from the Windsor Casino can only be characterized as an attempt to backtrack from the commitment the Premier made during the election of 1995 to provide a 10% cut of casino profits to our community.

Minister, you didn't get a chance to finish your answer yesterday and I was hoping you were going to make an announcement. I want to give you an opportunity to complete your response today and ask whether you'll announce when our community can expect an answer as to whether you intend to honour that commitment Mike Harris made of a 10% share of the profits from the Windsor Casino.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Far be it from me to get into a dispute and one-upmanship, so to speak, between the member for Windsor-Walkerville and the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): There's no contest, Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: There's no contest. That's coming from another Windsor member, I might add.

I'm sure that the member, if anybody, should be aware of the Bill 8 hearings in the city of Windsor at the time that the entire issue of a casino in the city of Windsor was being discussed. He would be aware that I introduced an amendment to Bill 8 saying that municipalities should be entitled to receive up to 10% of the proceeds from a casino. His party voted against that. In fact, you may have even been one of the members on the committee who voted against it; I'll have to check the record. We wouldn't want to be speaking out of both sides of our mouths, voting against it in committee on Bill 8 and now wanting it.

However, that being set aside, the mayor of Windsor gave some fairly innovative proposals, as I said to the member for Windsor-Walkerville yesterday, to the government. The government is seriously considering those.

Mr Lessard: We know what your position was during the hearings on Bill 8, and you know what our position was. But this was a commitment that was made by Mike Harris during the election of 1995. It wasn't an NDP commitment; it was Mike Harris's commitment. The people in the city of Windsor want to know whether you have any intention of honouring that commitment.

Hon Mr Eves: We are going to do what we can do to respond to the request of the mayor of the city of Windsor. As I said to him quite directly, he has come up with several innovative ways in which he thinks the city of Windsor could be helped, and we are trying to help the city of Windsor. You might have helped them by voting for my amendment when the bill was before the committee in Windsor.



Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition regarding Bill 160. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas education is our future; and

"Whereas students and teachers will not allow their futures to be sacrificed for tax cuts; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers will not allow the government to bankrupt Ontario's education system; and

"Whereas we cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers want reinvestment in education rather than reduction in funding; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers won't back down" -- they won't back down;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw Bill 160 immediately; and

"Further, be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario instruct the Minister of Education and Training to do his homework and be a cooperative learner rather than imposing his solutions which won't work for the students, parents and teachers of Ontario."

I affix my signature and agree wholeheartedly.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a petition signed by another 578 people. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas over half the people in Ontario are women;

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

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

"Women's College Hospital is the only hospital in Ontario with a primary mandate giving priority to teaching, research and care dedicated to women;

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

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

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the comprehensive model of women's health pioneered by Women's College Hospital through ensuring self-governance of the one hospital in Ontario dedicated to women's health."

Since I agree wholeheartedly with this petition, I will sign it.


Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): On behalf of the citizens of Brampton from Kennedy Road Tabernacle to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

I'm happy to affix my signature as well.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition from hundreds of teachers in the ridings of Windsor-Walkerville and Windsor-Riverside. It reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and Mr John Snobelen:

"I am a teacher in Windsor and I do not want to go on strike. However, if through legislation you destroy not only the teaching profession but also the quality of publicly funded education, I will join my colleagues in a province-wide strike.

"Please reconsider your government's actions before you further damage the learning environment of the students entrusted to me."

I'm proud to join the hundreds of teachers from Windsor, Tecumseh and St Clair Beach in signing this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a further petition regarding the need for a public inquiry into the Plastimet fire in Hamilton. It reads as follows.

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

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

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

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

I proudly add my name to those of my constituents.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I have a petition that was presented to me by Ms Wendy Mullin of Collingwood, Ontario. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and reads as follows:

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

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

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

There are some 400 signatures on this petition and I am pleased to affix my name to it.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario health system is overburdened and unnecessary spending must be cut; and

"Whereas pregnancy is not a disease, injury or illness and abortions are not therapeutic procedures; and

"Whereas the vast majority of abortions are done for reasons of convenience or finance; and

"Whereas the province has the exclusive authority to determine what services will be insured; and

"Whereas the Canada Health Act does not require funding for elective procedures; and

"Whereas there is mounting evidence that abortion is in fact hazardous to women's health; and

"Whereas Ontario taxpayers funded over 45,000 abortions in 1993 at an estimated cost of $25 million;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to cease from providing any taxpayers' dollars for the performance of abortions."


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the Service Employees International Union Local 183 in Belleville. It reads as follows:

"Whereas over 80,000 men and women live in nursing homes and homes for the aged in Ontario; and

"Whereas many of these residents have made enormous contributions to our society over the years and yet today, due to inadequate funding, our older citizens, our parents, relatives and friends, are being warehoused; and

"Whereas caregivers in these facilities are run off their feet trying to do the jobs they were hired to do, but day after day they go home feeling stressed and guilty because they are not able to provide the kind of emotional and physical care they feel the residents deserve; and

"Whereas as more and more hospitals are being closed, nursing homes and homes for the aged are being asked to care for sicker, older and more mentally fragile residents without the corresponding increase in resources needed to provide good care.

"Therefore we, the undersigned residents of Ontario, demand that the Legislature of Ontario stop the underfunding of nursing homes and homes for the aged; immediately establish and adequately fund a minimum standard of 2.25 hours of nursing and personal care for each resident, each day, in homes for the aged and nursing homes; ensure that long-term care remain the responsibility of the province -- any downloading to the municipalities will result in uneven standards across the province; ensure that long-term care remain in public hands and that it not be sold to private, for-profit nursing homes; and ensure dignity, rights and respect for all residents and workers in nursing homes and homes for the aged."

I add my name to these petitioners.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I am pleased to bring forward a petition signed by about 800 people from around the Niagara Peninsula -- St Catharines, Thorold, Welland, Niagara Falls -- sponsored by the Lincoln County Humane Society of St Catharines. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas ownership of a domestic animal or pet is a responsibility, not a right; and

"Whereas owners have a responsibility to treat their domestic animal with care and utmost concern for their wellbeing; and

"Whereas cruelty to animals should be punished/

sanctioned with fines, penalties and/or bans on animal ownership; and

"Whereas inspectors of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals should not be obstructed from carrying out their duties to investigate abuse or neglect;

"We, the undersigned, support the amendments to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act."

I affix my signature in support.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition sent to me by Lisa Durocher and Marg Pare, registered nurses with the Ontario Nurses' Association, Local 101, Leamington, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Progressive Conservative government has failed to address the root causes of waste, duplication and unnecessary administration in our health care system; and

"Whereas the provincial government has introduced Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act, that makes it easier for employers to reduce the number of front-line staff and to lower their salaries and benefits, and thus causing further deterioration of quality patient care; and

"Whereas Bill 136 also erodes the democratic process by tampering with collective agreements and potentially interfering with workers' choice of bargaining agents;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act, and to restructure the health care system in a safe, coordinated and rational way."

In support of this petition, I affix my signature.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows:

"Whereas over half the people in Ontario are women;

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

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

"Women's College Hospital is the only hospital in Ontario with a primary mandate giving priority to teaching, research and care dedicated to women;

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

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

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to preserve the comprehensive model of women's health pioneered by Women's College Hospital through ensuring self-governance of the one hospital in Ontario dedicated to women's health."

This is signed by 543 people and I'm proud to affix my signature.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I'm pleased to rise to present a petition presented to me by the faith community in my riding, namely from the town of Aurora. It comes to us from the Aurora Cornerstone Ministries, the Aurora Fellowship Baptist Church, the First Baptist Church and Wesley United Church, and it reads as follows:

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

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

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


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and deals with Bill 160.

"Whereas education is our future; and

"Whereas students and teachers will not allow their futures to be sacrificed for tax cuts; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers will not allow the government to bankrupt Ontario's education system; and

"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers want reinvestment in education rather than reduction in funding; and

"Whereas students, parents and teachers won't back down;

"Therefore be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to withdraw Bill 160 immediately; and

"Further be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario instruct the Minister of Education and Training to do his homework and be a cooperative learner rather than imposing his solution, which won't work for the students, the parents or the teachers of Ontario."

Of course I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition regarding the WCB.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas this government's contribution to prevention services made through the WCB has been reduced from $62 million to $47 million, with no explanation as to where this money has gone; and

"Whereas the prevention services that the Ministry of Labour once provided are being offloaded to the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and other safety associations, thereby increasing the demand for the prevention services provided by the centre; and

"Whereas the government has gutted the certification training standards for health and safety committee members and is replacing them with minimalist performance standards which, in combination with funding cuts, have resulted in a 40% reduction in the staff of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre is facing further cuts of $2.3 million to finance the establishment of several new employer safety associations, thereby duplicating administrative costs and services;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to stop the gutting of the funding of prevention services provided by the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that the moneys taken from the health and safety prevention services of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and other safety associations be returned to them."

I add my name to theirs.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition submitted by Jeannine and François Galipeau which reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the volume of traffic travelling along the Queensway between Highway 416 and Moodie Drive has grown steadily in recent years due to population and industrial growth of Kanata, the addition of a third lane to Moodie Drive, the recent expansions at both Nortel and Newbridge, the evolution of the Corel Centre into the home of the Ottawa Senators and Ottawa's premier entertainment arena, and the opening of Highway 416 as the primary route connecting Ottawa to Highway 401; and

"Whereas this increased volume of traffic is producing levels of noise which are disturbing local residents, both during the day and the night;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to continue to develop the roadways along this section of the Queensway in order to accommodate the increased volume of traffic, but to couple this development with measures including the extension of a berm along the north side of the Queensway in the Crystal Beach area to mitigate the negative aspects caused by this traffic."

Because I'm in complete agreement, I've affixed my own signature thereto.



Mr Maves, on behalf of Mrs Witmer, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 136, An Act to provide for the expeditious resolution of disputes during collective bargaining in certain sectors and to facilitate collective bargaining following restructuring in the public sector and to make certain amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Pay Equity Act / Projet de loi 136, Loi prévoyant le règlement rapide des différends lors des négociations collectives dans certains secteurs, facilitant les négociations collectives à la suite de la restructuration dans le secteur public et apportant certaines modifications à la Loi sur les normes d'emploi et à la Loi sur l'équité salariale.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I understand that all three House leaders have an agreement that the time will be split evenly among caucuses, if that is necessary.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): My concern is that this is time allocated. The vote is going to be at 5:45. If one of the parties doesn't use all their time, then you've got trouble, because the vote is at 5:45 and there would be a hiatus. I guess we'll just have to --


The Speaker: Hang on a sec. Obviously, if one of the parties doesn't use up their time, at that time I'm going to have to seek direction from all three caucuses. We'll assume it's split from now until 5:45.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I'm pleased to comment today on Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act. Bill 136 has undergone extensive and intense consultations and detailed examination during public hearings by the standing committee on resources development.

I believe today we have a bill that addresses the concerns of all the stakeholders and meets the government's objectives in ensuring a smooth transition as municipalities, school boards and hospitals restructure to provide better and more efficient public services at a lower cost to taxpayers.

When our government introduced Bill 136, we had specific objectives in mind.

First, we wanted to make sure that all employees, both unionized and non-unionized, were dealt with fairly in such matters as seniority and union representation during amalgamations and mergers in the municipal, school board and hospital sectors.

Second, we had to ensure a smooth transition during the restructurings and minimize the disruption of important and necessary public services.

Third, we needed to provide employers and employees with the tools and processes they need to deal with labour relations issues in a fair and expeditious manner.

Fourth, we wanted to address long-standing problems in the interest arbitration system in the police, fire and hospital sectors, where strikes are not permitted.

Fifth, we had to ensure that all our reforms would continue to encourage effective collective bargaining and locally negotiated solutions.

With Bill 136, we have succeeded in meeting our objectives. It's no surprise to anyone that the labour movement had several concerns with the initial form of the bill and specifically asked us to amend it in three ways. The first way they asked us to amend it was to remove some of the bill's new restrictions on some employees' right to strike. The second reform they asked for was to replace the Labour Relations Transition Commission with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The third change they asked for was that we replace the Dispute Resolution Commission with a first-contract arbitration regime that was initially brought in by the Liberal-NDP government in 1986 and to restore a modified arbitration system for the non-right-to-strike sectors.

We listened to them and we did all three of these. We made all three of these changes, and we did so without losing sight of the bill's original objectives.

With the passage of this bill, employers, employees and unions in the broader public sector will have in place processes they need to resolve complex labour relations issues that are expected during the restructurings, while protecting the rights of all employees, unionized and non-unionized.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board will have new temporary powers to deal expeditiously and fairly with transitional issues, such as the makeup of bargaining units, which bargaining agent would represent the employees in the new workplace, seniority and first-contract negotiations. Over the years, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has earned the trust and respect of both employers and unions. By assigning these temporary powers to the board, we have removed the uncertainty that all the parties had in regard to the resolution of labour issues during the restructuring of our public services.

Bill 136 will also amend the existing arbitration systems set out in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, the Police Services Act, the Public Service Act and the Hospital Labour Dispute Arbitration Act, which deal with collective bargaining in the police, fire and hospital sectors, where strikes are not permitted.

Almost half of all employees in the broader public sector currently do not have the right to strike. This includes some 25,000 police officers in local forces and the Ontario Provincial Police, nearly 10,000 full-time firefighters and 192,000 workers in hospitals and nursing homes.

For years there have been criticisms over the existing system, criticisms that Bill 136 will address. Delays were commonplace. In the hospital sector, for one, it was averaging almost two years to finalize a collective agreement. We heard testimony during the public hearings that, after 11 years in one case, hospital mergers still had not been settled. In another case it was four years and still counting. Bill 136 will help ensure we don't have the slow, legalistic and costly nature of the current interest arbitration system. Bill 136 will also help overcome the problem of widespread reliance on arbitration to resolve collective bargaining disputes, and the fact that arbitrators frequently didn't take the taxpayers' ability to pay into account when making an award.


With Bill 136 expedited arbitration procedures and other processes which encourage negotiated settlements will be introduced in order to deal with the extensive time delays in the current system. These procedures will include mediation, mediation arbitration and final offer selection. There will be new expedited time lines to ensure prompt resolution of collective agreements. Employees and employers will not have to wait for up to two years, as currently may happen, to find out what kind of contract they have been working under. Most important, there will be criteria in place to ensure accountability to taxpayers.

We believe Bill 136 is a win-win-win situation for all the people of Ontario. The bill ensures that the transition to improved, rationalized public services delivery will be smooth, with minimal disruption of services. Employers will have the tools they need to manage change as restructuring occurs. All employees, unionized and non-unionized, will be treated fairly and will be able to exercise their democratic rights in the workplace.

Unlike the previous government's social contract, which overrode collective bargaining, under Bill 136 collective bargaining will remain the primary tool to resolve labour relations issues. Most importantly, the people of Ontario, the taxpayers of Ontario will benefit from the improved delivery of the public services they need at an affordable price. That is why I am pleased to support Bill 136.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Durham -- is the time split? Rotation? Member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm pleased to have the opportunity --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): No, this isn't right.

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It had been my suggestion to the opposition parties that we would take a limited period of time for the government's debate on this issue. Then the remaining time, which would be more than two thirds of the total time, would be divided equally between the two opposition parties.

We're still agreeable to that, but in light of the discussion and the questions which were addressed to the Speaker, it would suggest there was some kind of tactic being used here -- so long as we understand there's an agreement that we take a smaller amount of time and then the time is equally -- perhaps you would like to seek unanimous consent on that.

The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreeable? Agreed?

Mr Christopherson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Just further to that, I think what caused the confusion was going into rotation. We have no problem with what the government whip has suggested, but just to put a fine point to it, you would use up all the time on whatever number of speakers you have. Then when that time is concluded, it would be split between the two oppositions and then we'd bounce back and forth. You'd use it up and then we'd use it up. That's my understanding of what we agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker: If I understood you well, you will use your full time, correct? No?

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): They use whatever time they can.

The Deputy Speaker: Whatever time you have. Then on this side, you'll stretch your time. Agreeable?

Mr Christopherson: At 5:45 we vote; it's now almost 3:15. The government's had one speaker; I understand they have one more. Then whatever time is left between the conclusion of their second speaker and 5:45 will be split 50-50 between the two opposition parties.

The Deputy Speaker: Fine. Member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I see I'm not the only one having trouble with the rules today in the House.

It's my pleasure to join the third reading debate on Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act, 1997. I had the opportunity to sit on the resources development committee that had public hearings that were held here at Queen's Park but listened to people right across the province of Ontario, because it was an opportunity to use videoconferencing to listen to people. We heard people from as far away as Owen Sound, Thunder Bay, right across Ontario --


Mr Newman: Kincardine -- all sorts of wonderful places in Ontario, to get input on Bill 136.

I think that special note ought to go to the member for Guelph, the Chair of the resources development committee, Brenda Elliott, who did an outstanding job of chairing those hearings. I think it's important to note that even the member for Hamilton Centre appreciated the fine job you did and how you were fair in listening to the many people who came forward, who were not only in favour of Bill 136 but those who were opposed to Bill 136. I think you ought to be commended for that.

Likewise, Jerry Ouellette, the MPP for Oshawa, who is the Vice-Chair of the resources development committee, deserves a big round of applause for his fine work in that, as does the parliamentary assistant, the member for Niagara Falls, Bart Maves, who did an excellent job of bringing that bill through the resources development committee. The bill is all about dealing with change, change during restructuring of hospitals, municipalities and the school boards. Bill 136 was all about bringing the tools forward that people needed to manage that change.

Of all the presentations that were made to the resources development committee, one of the ones that stood out in my mind was the presentation from the Ontario Hospital Association, which used some examples which helped me a great deal in understanding this bill and the consequences of not having a bill like Bill 136 in place.

They used an example of the merger of the Hamilton Civic Hospital and the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital in November 1996. During this merger, the Canadian Union of Public Employees made clear its position that through any of the jobs that were going to be available, their union members ought to have first right at those jobs. I think what was missing in that was the fact that people who weren't members of the union were going to be bypassed for those jobs.

A second example they used which hit home here in Toronto was the merger of the Toronto General Hospital and the Toronto Western Hospital in 1986, over 11 years ago. Imagine, 11 years ago, and in all that time there are still problems in dealing with the unions that deal with carpenters, for example. There are two separate groups, one at Toronto Western and one at Toronto General. What they said during the Bill 136 hearings was that if there was a carpenter needed at Toronto Western, they couldn't bring a carpenter from the Toronto General site 11 years later. That's a shame and that takes money away from front-line patient care. That's something I just cannot stand for, and I know that members on the government side think that's just a waste of money when there are capable people sitting at another site of the same entity not being able to help in that case. We think that's just a waste of money.

We also in Bill 136 listened to what the union leadership had to say. They said clearly to us, "Don't take away the right to strike," and we listened. We didn't take away that right to strike. I think the Minister of Labour ought to be commended for the fine job she did in listening and dialoguing with various groups, the parties that were affected by Bill 136. We did not take away the right to strike.

People also told us right across the province -- they said it in my riding of Scarborough Centre -- "Please do away with the Dispute Resolution Commission," so we did. The powers that would have been entrusted to the Dispute Resolution Commission were given to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, as were the powers of the Labour Relations Transition Commission. Those powers were given to the Ontario Labour Relations Board.


These were issues right across the province, whether it be here at Queen's Park during the public hearings or in our own ridings or via videoconferencing when we heard people from across the province speak. They wanted those powers given to the Ontario Labour Relations Board and we listened because we wanted to see a smooth and orderly transition with minimal disruption in public service. We all have a responsibility to our constituents to ensure that happens during this restructuring.

Several other parts of Bill 136 dealt with union representation in terms of who would represent the 450,000 workers who are represented by over 3,300 different bargaining units across the province. Bill 136 originally established very specific numeric thresholds which the Labour Relations Transition Commission would have used to decide bargaining agent issues resulting from restructuring where the trade unions were unable to resolve these issues themselves. Under the changes in Bill 136, if the trade unions are unable to agree themselves on who the bargaining agents should be, the threshold originally set out in Bill 136 will be replaced with a requirement that the Ontario Labour Relations Board conduct secret ballot votes when decisions are required in all of these particular decisions.

I think that's very democratic and I think it's something everyone in this Legislature would be in favour of. I'm not sure if they are, but I know we on the government side are in favour of secret votes.

An additional change to the way in which Bill 136 will determine which union will represent employees is the requirement that where restructuring includes former Ontario public service employees who are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union or other union or association, OPSEU or the other union or association name will appear on the ballot when a vote is conducted on representation issues. Consultations with employee representatives have also resulted in changes to Bill 136 which, where appropriate, will allow employers and unions to retain specialized bargaining units for professional staff such as nurses. That's something I think is very important in this bill.

We also heard from police officers, from firefighters, from the Ontario Nurses' Association and other hospital workers. They were letting us know what their views were on Bill 136, and although the Labour Relations Transition Commission functions and responsibilities are being transferred to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, I think it's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of transitional provisions in the bill will remain, such as the determination of effective and rationalized bargaining unit structures appropriate for the new employers' operations. We think that's fair for the people of Ontario.

The determination of successful bargaining agents by secret ballot, which I mentioned before, and the elimination of provisions which would have allowed a union with a substantial majority of members in the bargaining unit to be designated the agent for the whole unit without a vote -- imagine having representation without a vote. What Bill 136 does is allow for that secret ballot. I think that's key.

The seniority rules that ensure non-union employees are protected in the amalgamation process: We have had many examples in all the sectors, in the hospital sector, in the municipal sector and in the school board sector, where some employees may not be unionized and they'll be merging with other employees who are unionized. It's only fair that the seniority rules be in effect for those non-unionized workers.

The concept of composite or staple collective agreements remains to bring stability during negotiation of the first post-amalgamation agreement where necessary. Employers and unions involved in amalgamations are provided with the opportunity to reopen their collective agreements and bargain new first post-amalgamation contracts. I believe that is fair, and that has come from listening to the people of Ontario. From the Minister of Labour, through the parliamentary assistant as well, and through the committee process we heard that these are items that are wanted. In fact, if we look at the public galleries today, here we are in third reading of Bill 136, we have listened, and from what I can see the galleries before me are not filled with people opposing Bill 136, so it's indeed encouraging to know we have a bill that works here.

Bill 136 also deals with the interest arbitration reforms in the police, fire and hospital sectors where the right to strike and lockout currently does not exist. Some have said that the problems with the current interest arbitration system include the widespread reliance on arbitration to resolve collective bargaining disputes rather than on negotiation of settlements by the parties themselves, and also the very slow, legalistic and costly nature of the current interest arbitration system, where settlements are often not arbitrated until months after the previous collective agreement has expired and where interest arbitration awards often do not reflect the economic and fiscal reality of public sector employers.

You may ask, how does Bill 136 change this, how does it fix the problem? It's with the Bill 136 changes to the Fire Prevention and Protection Act, the Police Services Act, the Hospital Labour Dispute Arbitration Act and the Public Service Act to create expedited time lines to ensure the quick and timely resolution of disputes in the police, fire and hospital sectors.

The bill also fixes these problems by continuing, with the changes in Bill 136, to provide arbitrators with a much wider range of tools to deal with collective bargaining disputes in the police, fire and hospital sectors. These tools include mediation, arbitration and final offer selection during the arbitration process. Bill 136 also fixes the problem by continuing to require arbitrators to consider various criteria such as the public sector employer's ability to pay, because after all it's the taxpayers of Ontario who pay for this, and the extent to which services would have been reduced if funding and taxation levels were to have remained unchanged.

We also dealt in the bill with the removal of the Dispute Resolution Commission. When the minister spoke before the committee, she said that with the elimination of the Dispute Resolution Commission, the employers and unions would now have access to section 43 of the first-contract provisions of the Labour Relations Act. I quote her:

"Section 43 of the Labour Relations Act was enacted in 1986 at the request of the unions, and it was part of the Peterson-Rae accord. Under this section of the Labour Relations Act, if after negotiations the employer and union have been unable to reach a new first collective agreement, either party may apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board."

Also during the hearings, we spoke about adequate funding in health care. I spoke at length about the reinvestments in health care in this province, and I will speak again about the reinvestments in health care, because it deals with adequate funding of the system.

If I was to go on to mention each and every reinvestment in health care that this government has brought forward since June 1995, we would be here until well past midnight, and I wouldn't be able to finish, but I'll be very selective and mention a few of the reinvestments.

These are reinvestments right across the province. For example, in Sudbury, $70.2 million was given to the Sudbury area for its health care services restructuring; capital for the Timmins Children's Treatment Centre, $1.4 million; capital reinvestment in northwestern Ontario, $21.1 million for the towns of Dryden, Emo, Marathon, Rainy River and the Red Lake project.

We never hear the opposition mentioning those reinvestments. Those are all in opposition ridings and I don't hear them talking in the House about those reinvestments, reinvestments that have included places like London, Ontario, where the health services were expanded by the addition of $133 million in capital for hospital restructuring; the capital reinvestment in the Grey-Owen Lodge in Markdale, $3.35 million for a 66-bed facility in September of this year; capital for the Greenwood Court Nursing Home in Stratford, $750,000.


Mr Bradley: Is this on topic?

Mr Newman: It is on topic because we're talking about adequate funding of the health care system.

On that note, we are spending, as the Deputy Premier mentioned again today, $18.5 billion on health care in this province. The Common Sense Revolution originally said $17.4 billion. If we look at the Liberal red book, they promised $17 billion. So we're spending $1.5 billion more on health care in this province, which is adequate, in spite of the federal government's cuts to health care, I might add.

Some more reinvestments: capital for the Burlington nursing homes, $2.1 million to expand two homes, and that was in September of this year; capital for the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto, $18.9 million for the 372-bed centre and a 100-bed centre for cognitive disorders; reinvestment in hospital services in Barrie, $7.5 million. The residents of long-term-care facilities are going to receive more care. Why? Because we've reinvested $100 million annually: $70 million for nursing, $20 million for dietary, housekeeping and maintenance, and $10 million for programming. It's important to note that this will create 2,250 new jobs in the health care sector in this province.

A reinvestment in cancer care and the creation of Cancer Care Ontario, $16.5 million for new drugs and for children and women with cancer, and that was in April of this year; the neurotrauma initiative, $25 million over the next five years, and that was in dealing with the Rick Hansen Man in Motion tour; the preschool speech-language therapy program, $20 million to double the number of children served, and that was done in April of this year; the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program, something I think we can all support in this House, $10 million; the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program, an ongoing commitment of $4.6 million; the Invest in Kids grant, $10 million for abuse prevention and early intervention programs; capital funding for Villa Marconi in Ottawa, $2.4 million, again in April of this year; the eating disorders reinvestment, $1.5 million to benefit 2,000 people and that was part of the $83-million hospital health care renewal; the capital to renovate and redevelop Guelph hospitals which I know the members from Wellington and Guelph will be quite pleased to see, $67.7 million reinvested into health care in their communities.

There was a reinvestment I had the opportunity to make myself in Moosonee for the James Bay General Hospital. I know the member for Cochrane North appreciated that reinvestment in his riding. He's shaking his head yes because he knows we're reinvesting health care dollars right back into the system and every single riding in this province is benefiting. They're all benefiting from the health care restructuring that's going on as part of this government.

The hospital reinvestments for health care renewal, $83 million in total: $35 million for cardiac care, $18 million for mental health, $11 million for dialysis and kidney transplants, $8 million for cancer, $5 million for transplants, $3 million for trauma services, $3 million for hip and knee replacements.

Capital reinvestment in long-term care and community health: $29.1 million for Metro Toronto and York region, including $11.4 million and 160 new beds for long-term care and $17.7 million for four CHCs. That was in March of this year.

The long-term-care reinvestment: $170 million and that would provide services for 80,000 people in this province and creates 4,400 front-line jobs, including $21.5 million here in Toronto.

The reinvestment in community services in Thunder Bay -- we hear Thunder Bay mentioned a great deal in the House in terms of health care. I think it's important to know that $7.67 million was reinvested back into community services in Thunder Bay and that includes $2.4 million for home care, $2.3 million for transitional care, $1.4 million for a new building for the CMHA, $1.2 million for mental health services for adolescents and repatriating two local residents receiving treatment for acquired brain injuries in the United States, for bringing patients back home, and that's important to families.

The reinvestment for hospitals in high-growth areas for 1997, $18 million plus $25 million renewed for the GTA, and northern Ontario hospital, $14 million. The Georgetown and District Memorial Hospital long-term-care services capital, $1.95 million, almost $2 million for 57 new beds in that community. The Dufferin-Caledon-Shelburne chronic care capital initiative, $1 million for renovations of 26 beds.

We're seeing that there's adequate funding in the system, that all the reinvestments are coming back right into the community and driving out the waste and duplication, and this is very important.

We also had in 1996, again in Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay hospital and health services renewal, $59.4 million, and it includes new space for the regional hospital, the Port Arthur site, St Joseph's General Hospital, a new forensic psychiatric unit and $1 million for an MRI; the breast cancer screening, a $24.3 million reinvestment and that's very important.

I was able to do the announcement in Bracebridge along with the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay this summer and the people in that community appreciated that reinvestment and we're quite pleased to see that the government is driving the waste and duplication right out of the system.

Funding was confirmed for the Windsor Cancer Centre -- again we hear Windsor mentioned in this House many times -- $18.9 million. You'd think when you listen to opposition members here in the House -- I see the member for Windsor-Walkerville is applauding to see that these reinvestments are happening.

There was funding for the Huron Lodge construction in Elliot Lake, $3.2 million; the hepatitis B immunization for teens, a one-year expansion was announced last year. The expanded diabetes care, a reinvestment of $5.8 million; cardiac stents, $2 million for one-time funding. That was done in September 1996.

We introduced community-sponsored contracts, $6.7 million for 21 northern communities. I know they've worked quite well. In my travels in northern Ontario I've talked to people and they're quite pleased by this. The community investment fund, $23.5 million for mental health and that included $2.9 million for Metro and Peel and $1.8 million for Hamilton, Halton and Brant.

Another reinvestment was the magnetic resonance imaging machines, the MRIs, that have been going in across this province. When all of the MRIs this government has announced are put into place, we'll have more MRIs than the rest of Canada combined. I had the pleasure of opening the MRI in Newmarket recently and to see where three hospitals, York County, York Central and Markham-Stouffville, all worked together to have the MRI in one site and they share that one, single machine.

Also one Saturday morning I had the opportunity to fly to Timmins to open the MRI in Timmins and to see the positive impact the MRI in Timmins will have for that community and the people in northeastern Ontario; no more flights to Toronto for an MRI for the people of northeastern Ontario. It's positive for the people of Moosonee, the people of Timmins, all the people of northeastern Ontario. These are positive moves, that people don't have to take time away from jobs. They're able to go to Timmins, to their part of the province, to get that care. That's something that's very important.

More funding to treat problem gamblers, $1.1 million allocated annually in the 1996 budget; funding for high-growth area hospitals for 1996, $25 million; the Windsor restructuring, $48.2 million announced in March 1996; the Chapleau capital renovations and long-term-care facility, $4.82 million for the people of Chapleau.

As I'm going on about the reinvestments, they're right across the province. Everyone is seeing the positive changes in health care.

The eating disorders program, $126,550 reinvested in February 1996. There were expanded emergency services announced in 1995, $4.4 million. There was the cardiac surgery reinvestment of up to $16 million announced in December 1995 and the $2.5 million one-time funding announcement. There was the two-dose measles immunization program, $4.5 million announced in December 1995. We've introduced a $70-per-hour sessional fee. That's $13 million for emergency room services in small, rural hospitals.


Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): That sure helps our community.

Mr Newman: The member for Brant-Haldimand says that it helps his community. It's funny, as I sit here and go through all the reinvestment, and it's all tied to adequate funding, that members of the opposition are listening and they realize that these reinvestments are happening right in their own communities. Usually when I'm up here speaking they're heckling, they don't want to listen, but they know that these are real dollars that have been reinvested in their community.

The expansion of the Trillium drug program, $45 million.

The expanded kidney dialysis services province-wide, $25 million. I know that in my community of Scarborough we now have a regional dialysis centre at Scarborough General Hospital. The member for Scarborough East, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, the members for Scarborough West, Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough North and myself, as the member for Scarborough Centre, know the benefit that means to our community. It means that people no longer have to drive from Scarborough to downtown Toronto. I might add that with more people who have jobs, the traffic is more and more becoming a role, and it's important that people receive that care right in their own community. They know that they can go to Scarborough General Hospital, get the dialysis they need and be able to go back to their jobs or back to their families and not have to worry about driving downtown with the increased number of vehicles that are on the roads. I might add they are new vehicles, because more people, because they're working, are buying new vehicles.

Those are just some of the reinvestments. I didn't touch on all of them but I just touched on a few of them. There are more. In fact, if you look at the reinvestments --

Mr Bradley: Routine expenditures. Happens all the time.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for St Catharines.

Mr Newman: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Again, $1 million for funding for long-term care facilities; $170 million for long-term community based services; $43 million for hospital growth; $14 million for northern hospital growth; $25 million for hospital growth in 1996; $18 million for cardiac surgery and stents; $25 million for expanded kidney dialysis service; $5.8 million for diabetes expansion; $133 million for London restructuring; $70.2 million for Sudbury restructuring; $59.4 million for the Thunder Bay restructuring; $7.67 million for Thunder Bay community services; $48.2 million for Windsor restructuring; $18.9 million for Windsor cancer care; $13 million for emergency physician sessional fees.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It sounds like each and every dollar is all invested back into the health care system.

Mr Newman: The member for Scarborough East says it sounds like each and every dollar has been reinvested back into the health care system. I say yes. In fact, I say every single penny has been reinvested back into the health care system.

Some $6.7 million for northern community contracts; $45 million for Trillium drug program expansion; $23.5 million for the community investment fund; $12 million for acquired brain injury repatriation; $4.4 million for defibrillation and symptom relief; $15.5 million for OPALS paramedic training; $2 million for viral load testing; $24.3 million for breast screening; $6.2 million for Taxol for breast cancer; $20 million for speech-language therapy; $10 million for the healthy babies program; $4.6 million for Better Beginnings, Better Futures; $10 million for Invest in Kids; $20 milliion for pneumococcal vaccination for seniors; $4.5 million for measles immunization; $126,000 for the eating disorders program.

There's $1 million again for problem gambling; $45.4 million to recruit doctors for underserviced areas; $1.85 million for a northern and rural research unit; $150,000 for the northern teaching program relocation; $194,000 for Timmins psychiatrists; $150,000 for a northeastern community development officer; $122,000 for the rural medicine program; $2.75 million for the nursing database and outcomes research unit; $1 million for chronic care capital; $15.05 million for long-term-care capital; $2.5 million for additional cardiac services; $83 million for the renewal of hospital services; $29.1 million for capital for long-term care and community hospitals in Metro and York; $67.7 million capital for redeveloping hospitals in the Guelph area; $2.4 million capital for Villa Marconi in Ottawa; $21.1 million capital for northwestern Ontario.

Mr Duncan: You said that already.

Mr Newman: I'm just re-emphasizing, I say to the member for Windsor-Walkerville, the reinvestments. I go on and on: capital for the Baycrest Geriatric Centre, $18.9 million. But when you total up these amounts, over $1.3 billion was reinvested that was found in waste and duplication within the system, reinvested right back into the system so that patients in every one of our ridings can benefit from that care.

We're seeing that we do have an adequate amount of funding in the system for health care. It's all tied to Bill 136, because Bill 136 is about restructuring in the municipalities, in the hospital sector. I think in listening to people on Bill 136, as the parliamentary assistant did, the minister, all members of the government caucus who went out and listened to our constituents, listened to the union locals in their area, we found that in the end everyone wants a smooth and orderly transition through the amalgamations and mergers, and Bill 136 does this.

We don't want to see any repeats of the fiasco that's there at the Toronto Hospital today after the restructuring of 11 years ago. Imagine the problems that would exist if we didn't have a bill like Bill 136 in place to manage the change. How many times more would that be multiplied across this province and how many more dollars would get away from front-line patient services and just be caught up in waste and duplication? That's not something that I stand for. I personally stand for ensuring that all those reinvested dollars go right back into the system. That's why, when we vote on Bill 136, I will be supporting that bill.

Mr Duncan: I'm pleased to join the debate on Bill 136 today on behalf of my party and our caucus. I watched with great interest the statement made by the member for Scarborough Centre and listened attentively as he spoke about the issues of the day. I found it quite remarkable coming from that government -- I remember a government that said, "We won't use taxpayers' moneys to buy their votes." We're seeing a much different government. We're seeing a government that's hearing the noise out there, and I think the reason he didn't spend much time on Bill 136 is because it represents for the government perhaps one of its largest embarrassments, one of its largest retreats, one of the best examples of how to govern wrong, how not to provide for proper public policy, how not to debate the issues of the day.

Let's remember the time frames: June 3 the bill is introduced, a bill that takes away the right to free collective bargaining of public employees, a bill as draconian as any we have seen from this government, though there are a lot of them that one could only term draconian.

They talked tough. This all came from amalgamation; this all came from downloading which will raise property taxes across this province. They talked tough all summer and then the heat got turned on and they backed down. They said, "Ignore everything we said in June." I don't know how we could actually even proceed with this bill. The 150 amendments changed the complexion of the bill, and even in spite of all those amendments it is still a fatally flawed bill, a bill that we are proud to vote against.

I want to take a few minutes to explain why and to explain to people why we think the bill should not be passed. I want to talk for a couple of moments about the labour relations climate in Ontario.

This government has deliberately set on a course to provoke organized labour. This is a government that does not believe in the fundamental principles of free collective bargaining. This is a government that I believe some day will try to take away something as basic as the Rand formula.


Let's be clear that those of us on this side of the House will oppose it at every step of the way. What do we have as a result of two years of this policy, this type of intimidation, this type of not recognizing the realities of collective bargaining, the reality that working people need a voice, not only in this Legislature but in their workplaces and in their communities? What do we have? We have an unstable labour market. We have a labour market that doesn't function the way it ought to. What we saw in September of this year on Bill 136 was a full retreat by the government, a retreat that was criticized by some of their own friends.

The member from Scarborough talked about amalgamations and the importance of dealing with things. I couldn't agree more. However, I do want to set the record straight on a few matters. He talked about the so-called reinvestments they're making in health care. I can't speak with respect to a lot of the ones he dealt with, but I can address the ones he dealt with in my community.

He dealt with the cancer centre. He talked about $18.6 million. What he neglected to say was that was promised and budgeted for two and a half years ago -- no new money. Go to your press clippings. It was announced by the previous government, and then this government quite properly, when it came to office, wanted to review the announcement. Then they reannounced it. So it's not new money; it's not money coming from the closing of our hospitals. It's money that was already there. It's being repackaged to try and buy votes, but it's too late to buy votes. The jury's in on this government, and they're hearing the footsteps. That's why they're playing the old pork barrel games. That's why they're trying to convince people that they're spending and investing.

The member spoke of our hospital situation, the $42 million in capital that has been committed to Windsor's restructuring initiatives. If it wasn't so serious, one could laugh at including that in such a list. The member just conveniently forgot to tell the House that our local restructuring commission recommended a capital investment of $109 million in order to accommodate the closure of our two hospitals and leave us with two centres of excellence. I'll remind members that we have already gone through that process. We have closed two hospitals, for all intents and purposes. The member forgot to mention that little fact. The member forgot to mention the fact that the $42 million was announced before the cuts that you've made in health care everywhere else.

I say to those members on the government back benches who applaud and clap and do what they're told, start speaking for your communities. Don't let the government take these things and twist them around so they can be used to buy people's votes because, my friends opposite, people won't be taken in by that. Last week we had the heads of our emergency room in one of our hospitals quit. Why? Because you haven't fulfilled your commitment. There hasn't been one dollar flow. So as of December 31 in our emergency rooms, the government that's reinvesting, creating quality health care -- the money hasn't come. It's not there, and the money promised was promised in previous budgets.

I say to the government members, stand up for your communities. Don't listen to that drivel, that repackaging of money that's being spent elsewhere. I suspect the conscientious members on the government side know that. They're getting the calls, just as we are, from their communities and from our own. They understand that message. They will continue to try to repackage these things, but as long as health care is in the state it's in in this province, nobody will believe you, especially when you distort the facts.

When you suggest that somehow there is a new $18 million for a cancer centre in Windsor, you're blowing smoke. It was announced two years ago and budgeted for two years ago -- no new money. By the way, ground hasn't been broken. So don't play those games and don't try to convince the people that you're doing something for them when you know you're not. Fundamentally, they'll see through that.

They'll see through any attempt to try and camouflage what your message is. Your message is to shut down working people. Your message is to close hospitals. Your message is to harm education. Why? So you can give a tax break to your wealthy friends, $5 billion in forgone revenue. Why? Because you bit off more than you could chew, just like you did in this bill.

We're voting against it. We spoke against it in its first incarnation and we're going to vote and speak against this bill today. Why? The first reason, as I said, is the labour climate in this province today. There are always going to be difficult negotiations between governments and their employees and their employees' representatives. There will be difficult negotiations in the private sector. But fundamentally in this province we have a history of respecting that organized workers should have a voice at the table, that employers should have a voice at the table and that together we can resolve difficulties.

I was pleased to see the 150 amendments tabled by the government, even though they still haven't dealt with the question of the employee wage protection program. Ultimately, this bill does away with that and harms pay equity. But what upsets me is, what took them so long? Why did we have to wait until September 29 for them to back down? They could have avoided all this. They could have avoided the fear, the unnecessary confrontation.

I believe they didn't because they, in their minds, believe that labour is an enemy, that organized labour is not well regarded. What they found out, what they've discovered this summer -- it's like a conversion on the road to Damascus -- is that public opinion simply doesn't agree with them. Oh, yes, we may not agree on every issue with organized labour. We may not like a position on particular contract negotiations, but fundamentally the people of this province know and understand that our quality of life, the basic wage and benefit protections that we have and many of the statutory protections we have are the result of organized labour, of working men and women bargaining freely to improve our standard of living, our quality of life in this great province.

When the Premier told us that he had accepted the compromises proposed by our nurses, our police officers, firemen and other public sector workers, I had to chuckle, because he wouldn't meet with them face to face. He had to come in here and give a relatively stinging statement in the Legislature trying to camouflage full retreat.

I think we've seen the best example yet of what happens when governments try to go too far, too fast. Those are words the government members know. They know that. The backbenchers know that. They're hearing the same message. It's in our phone calls at the constituency offices, it's in the surveys that are done by polling organizations. Even among the people who support the government, many of them say they're going too far, too fast.

What do we have here today? A perfect example. You brought in your downloading in January, your mega-week announcements, what I call the mega property tax increases, the shifts of power and balance between the municipalities of this province and the province itself; brought forward and introduced with no consultation with the affected parties, brought forward ignoring the recommendations of the government's own task force, brought forward without legislation, brought forward without involving your own public servants in discussing how you're going to implement all of these remarkable changes, all of these changes that are going to raise property taxes on every homeowner in this province. Why? So you could give your rich friends a big income tax cut; so you could give it to all of your friends.


I guess we really shouldn't have been surprised when the government retreated on 136, because on so many other parts of the mega-week announcements they retreated as well. What we had in January was far different from what we have today, and I'll predict right here and now that it will be far different than ultimately what will happen and what will evolve in this province. The government will spend the last year and a half of its mandate attempting to clean up the mess they've created between municipalities and the province.

Bill 136 was conceived, was the result of the government's desire to amalgamate municipalities and find efficiencies. We in the official opposition believe that when you deal with these amalgamations, when you deal with trying to improve efficiencies, working people, through their duly elected representatives, ought to be able to participate. Through negotiations, they ought to be able to bargain freely. We believe right to our core that those free negotiations would have resulted in a process and an end result that would have been better than that which we started with. Now the government seems to have acknowledged that.

The working men and women of this province care every bit as much as anyone else about the wellbeing of our province and its communities. Whether they are CAW members, CUPE members or OPSEU members, they are not an enemy. They are a partner and ought to be considered a partner. The big, bad, tough government that was going to take away their rights to bargain -- well, you backed down. You all backed down. You couldn't sustain it. People began to see through you, and that's what this bill is about.

I want to take one moment to talk about the process surrounding this bill a little bit more. There was absolutely no consultation with any of the affected parties prior to the introduction of the bill in June. There were no face-to-face discussions with the unions representing the workers until September. Then the government announced its plans to gut the legislation and they provided no details -- no amendments, no nothing.

Then we had only four days of public hearings on this particular bill. There were no hearings outside of Toronto. We did videoconferencing, which was thrown together at the last minute. It wasn't well thought out. The hearings ended on Friday at 5 o'clock. We had to have our amendments in by Monday at 10. Then we got 250 pages of amendments at 10 o'clock and had to vote on them by 3:30. What a joke. What an absolute joke.

When I hear government members talk about their desire to listen to people, to get input, it's a sham, a complete sham. The committee hearings were a waste of time, as they have been on so many other occasions. The government members dutifully come in, dutifully do what they're told, not even having read the amendments.

This bill is a perfect example of what happens when you abuse, when you take advantage of the processes that we have evolved in this Legislature, in the Parliament of our country and indeed in the parliaments in the Commonwealth around the world. You get bad legislation. You get legislation that you have to retreat on. You get legislation that simply won't work.

We in the official opposition will vote against the bill because we think public policy ought to be conducted differently. We think it can be done better. We think working people have a role, have a responsibility in our communities to be part of it.

I think of the firefighters in my city, Windsor, who are in their stations tonight on duty, good men and women all, committed to their community. They give back to their community. I think of the Windsor Police Association. These are the people this bill dealt with. You wanted to take away firefighters' ability to negotiate. You wanted to take away the rights our police officers have to negotiate with municipalities, even in a process where there's arbitration. That's what you wanted to do. I can tell you, the firefighters and police in my home community saw through you when this bill was introduced. They were fast off the mark. And they were the same in your communities.

I think of our firefighters at home and the great work they do, and the police, and this government centres them out. This government says: "Your rights are gone. We don't believe you should have those rights. Efficiency is more important." Well, having served on municipal council, I can tell you, the firefighters in Windsor and the police in Windsor have always worked with our community to ensure we have not only the best firefighting and police services but that those services are provided in a cost-effective and efficient manner, recognizing the important obligations they have to protect our communities, to put out fires and to save people.

Then you wanted to go after the public sector workers, the big, bad civil servants, the bureaucrats. I can tell you again that those public servants -- and I use the words "public servants" because that's what they are. They serve us well and they serve our communities well. Those public servants in Windsor, in St Clair Beach, in Tecumseh, throughout Essex county and indeed throughout this province contribute enormously to their workplace and to their communities, and you wanted to take their rights away. You wanted to say to them, "You don't have a place."

In Windsor we're in the middle of our United Way campaign. For 26 years, we have had the highest per capita giving of any community in this country, and labour has led the way on that. It's labour in our city that mans the soup kitchens, staffs all kinds of volunteer organizations, organizes minor sports. These people that you've attacked are your neighbours. They give back to our communities.

Any government will from time to time have difficult negotiations around contract issues, will have to differ with those organizations. Sometimes those confrontations can be very unpleasant. But fundamentally we have to recognize their significant contribution, not only to governance but to our communities. You wanted to take away their rights. You weren't bashing unions, you were bashing people. You were bashing the clerks at city hall. You were bashing the firefighters. You were bashing the police. Why? Because you got yourself in too deep. You didn't plan your download. You ignored the advice that was given to you and instead, having been cornered, you proceeded with what can only be considered tomfoolery, and you so much as admitted that when you withdrew, for all intents and purposes, the bill.


Thank goodness you did that. There have been too many occasions when you haven't withdrawn the bills, when you haven't done what you should have done. You should have had that $42 million in capital flow to Windsor before you closed the emergency rooms, not after, like the experts told you. But no, you couldn't, because you've made these crazy commitments that you're not going to keep ultimately. You've betrayed the very people who make our communities work and you've demonstrated absolutely no regard for their concerns or issues.

We have seen a remarkable backing down by this government on this piece of legislation. We've seen a full retreat. We see a government that understands and recognizes that it has gone too far, but you offended the police in your community, the firefighters, the public servants, in addition to the teachers.

What about the teachers, Bill 160? We talk about a labour relations climate. I have here today hundreds of letters that I just received this afternoon about labour relations once again. I know what you're thinking: "We'll get into a fight with those teachers and we'll win that one." You're wrong. You won't win it. You'll lose it, just like you lost on Bill 136, just like you're going to lose in two years.

Hundreds of letters -- this one from C. Renaud, the principal at St Angela school. What do they say?

"I'm a teacher in Windsor and I don't want to go on strike. However, if through legislation you destroy not only the teaching professional but also the quality of publicly funded education, I will join my colleagues in a province-wide strike.

"Please reconsider your government's actions before you further damage the learning environment of the students entrusted to me."

Margaret Ferris at St Angela school; Daniel Fix at St Angela school; Stéphane Mitchell.

I've got letters from parents as well, and from students. Don't think the parents are going to back you in this. They won't. They're not going to be fooled any more on your education initiatives than they were by the nonsense the member from Scarborough tried to pass off as reinvestments in health care. Why? Because we go into our kids' schools in the morning. We see classrooms with 40 kids in them. We see classrooms that don't have computers. We see schools that aren't properly cleaned due to lack of funding, funding that you cut, funding that you'll be held accountable for. The people of this province will remember it as well as they'll remember your foolishness on Bill 136 and what you've done to the policemen, the firefighters, the public servants in our community.

I'm proud to vote against this bill. I'm proud to vote against that government, and in two years the rest of the province will cast judgement on your failed revolution, a revolution that's done nothing but harm to the people of this province.

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a few comments I'd like to make too about this legislation, Bill 136. The bill may threaten the rights of public sector employees across the province. It serves as an attack on the rights of municipal, hospital and school board employees.

Minister, there's been a large, loud public outcry. As I mentioned in this Legislature before, the city of Cornwall and the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry estimated their financial costs of the downloading by this government. The city of Cornwall and the united counties are predicting $18.85 million and $18.9 million respectively, and I don't know in an area of high unemployment where these dollars are going to come from to carry on the operations of those municipalities.

Minister, you're proceeding much too quickly across the province. We have to slow down and listen to the people. There's been a public outcry. Please slow down. Many Cornwall and area public sector workers and co-workers across the province join me in opposition to this bill. Cornwall and the communities across it are losing confidence in the government. They are not keeping their deadlines. They make promises when they're going to get information out to municipal councils and it's not happened.

The hospitals are worrying about the services, reducing services, and about many issues. I know that it had been mentioned a little bit earlier in the Legislature here today by the member for Scarborough Centre. I don't know whether he was trying to rub salt in the wound or not, but in my area, where we were promised dialysis on April 24, 1996, it has not happened yet. They can't get in contact with the minister's office to set up the meetings to understand where he is going. I wish he'd be a little bit more careful when he makes statements like that in the Legislature, because we're not all being used the same across Ontario.

I would hope the minister would step back and look at this bill. I know there have been several amendments, but I'm sure that the concerns are not all addressed.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to read a letter.

"As a constituent in your riding, I have had an opportunity to read Bill 136.... The legislation is unjustified and unfair.

"As a professional firefighter, I have taken an oath to uphold my association's constitution. Particularly, that portion which prohibits me from striking because as a firefighter I am required to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the community.

"Upon taking this oath, I believed that my bargaining rights and collective agreement would be protected by the current arbitration process, a process which is fair and unbiased.

"We need your support to maintain a fair and independent arbitration process for firefighters in Ontario."

It's signed by a senior fire prevention officer from the municipality that I represent.

I also have letters and resolutions from the city of Cornwall addressed to the Honourable Mrs Witmer. "The council of the corporation of the city of Cornwall, at its regular meeting on September 8, 1997, strongly endorsed a resolution in opposition to Bill 136. A copy of this motion is enclosed for your review." It's also moved, seconded and passed by the city of Cornwall.

We also get letters to the editor where they're complaining about Bill 136, how it will be unfair to the areas where they work.

The city of Cornwall has asked again and again to withdraw this Bill 136 and go back to the bargaining table and try to solve these problems peacefully and listen to the residents of Ontario.

Mr Bradley: I wish I could say I welcome the opportunity to speak on Bill 136 on third reading, but unfortunately I wish the bill were not before this House even though the status of the bill and the content of the bill are substantially different from what they were when it started out.

Bill 136, members of the House will remember, was the bill introduced with a lot of fanfare by the government because it was going to put, as the Premier would call them, the union bosses in their places and was going to pander to that group of individuals in our society who do not like those who work in the public service. I'm very pleased to say that this is a very distinct minority of the people in the province, those who wish to bash anyone who might be working in the public service, but it does play well in some quarters. As a result, some of the more vociferous members of the government obviously wanted to push forward with this legislation which they believed would, as they would want, put the unions and the union bosses, as Premier Harris always refers to them, in their places.


It backfired. Quite obviously, what happened is the same thing that's happening with teachers in the province. That is, the government is making militant people out of people who are not militants. If you talk to people in the public service, the average employee in the public service is not a militant person. That individual is not used to striking or taking other job action. It is rather rare to see strikes in the public service in our province -- indeed, nationally as well -- although there have been from time to time those strikes.

What the government found out was that the average person -- I remember attending a meeting in Thorold of OPSEU workers. OPSEU had organized the school secretaries, for instance, in Niagara South. Now, if you looked at this group, this wasn't a militant group of people. These are people who want to go in and do their work and provide a valuable service within the school system. Yet they were moved to militancy that particular night at the plumbers hall in Thorold. They were people who were afraid at the time, afraid quite obviously that the government was going to proceed with Bill 136.

Across the province this crescendo began to build. It began to reverberate even in the back rooms of the government where all the decisions are made, in the Premier's office where the backroom boys get together with the Premier and suggest what should be done regardless of what the elected members of the Legislature believe. So they gathered there and found out that indeed there was a lot of support for the people in the public service.

So the Premier got up in quite a performance in this House. This was on September 18. I have the Hansard. It's a good thing I have the Hansard because the average person in Ontario, members of this House should know, can no longer have a subscription to the transcripts of the House; in other words, the Hansard. All the proceedings of the Ontario Legislature are contained within a printed Hansard. Since the very beginning, I believe, we've had this service available. For years and years and years, if a person had an interest in what happens in the Ontario Legislature -- and everyone should because it affects everyone in our province -- they could simply apply for a subscription, pay a certain amount of money and they could have a subscription to Hansard.

The Harris government has ended that. Now you have to own a computer and you have to have a certain network. You have to be, I believe, on the Internet. You have to have the access to it. The average person does not have that in their house. The rich people do. They have computers in the house and they're on the Internet and they have all of the software to go with it and all the hardware to go with it. That's how you get Hansard today.

Mr Preston: I've got a life instead.

Mr Bradley: I know that if my friend Mr Preston were not in this House, he would want a subscription to Hansard so he could be able to know what was happening in this House. Mike Harris and his fellow colleagues -- but, to be fair, I don't blame the other members of the caucus -- the Mike Harris group in the Premier's office said, "No longer shall people in this province be able to get a copy of this."

But I have a copy of it so I thought I would quote from the Premier. He got up on September 18 with all the bravado one expects from the Premier, all the bluster going. He was denouncing what he called the "union bosses." Let me just quote a few of the words the Premier used, because they were pretty strong words. He said, "I rise today to respond to some of the rhetoric I've heard in the past 24 hours from the union bosses." That sets the stage. Everyone's applauding. Many of the right-wing government members are applauding. They thought: "Here comes Mike. He's going to stand up to those union bosses."

He goes on to say, "This is very strong rhetoric and not, in my opinion, constructive or productive." He's talking about the union leadership. "While I do not agree with these tactics," says Mike Harris, "I understand that Mr Manners and Mr Ryan must get elected and that they believe they must engage in this type of rhetoric to appeal to their constituency." I think they might well want to apply that to the Premier, who is the person engaging in the rhetoric.

I want to be honest with members of the House. I thought the decision that was coming from the Premier was going to be this tough decision. "No backing down on Bill 136. We'll put those union bosses in their places," Mike Harris was saying. When he got finished with his statement, I thought, "Well, you know, we're going to have a major confrontation in this province."

Then I heard from the Minister of Labour. She got up right beside him and totally capitulated to the unions in the province, much to the chagrin of the right wing of the Tory caucus. There must have been a cardiac doctor on call because of the shock that would be felt in the government caucus at the Minister of Labour in full retreat, waving the white flag, sounding the bugles of retreat. You could hear the bugles sounding in the House as the government was retreating. If you want to bring it into the modern age, you could hear that beeping sound as the truck was backing up. They were in full retreat. Those backup lights were on as the government was in full retreat.

I couldn't believe it, I honestly couldn't believe it. Why? Because I'd heard Mike Harris just before that with all of his bravado. I've referred to him before as Phineas T. Bluster. Some members of the House, such as my friend Mr Brown from Scarborough, will remember Phineas T. Bluster in the television show Howdy Doody. Howdy Doody was a very pleasant individual. Phineas T. Bluster was always blustering. He was a cranky person. He was an angry person. But when it came right down to it, you know he didn't follow through.

We had a full retreat, or almost a full retreat, on Bill 136. The government brought in one of its -- they call them "time allocation motions." They're really motions which choke off the debate. They choke off the debate because just as the Premier doesn't want people in the province to get Hansard easily, he doesn't want them to be able to hear a full and frank debate on the issues of the day. So what we had was a so-called time allocation motion that came forward.

I know there are members of the government caucus who believe the government is moving too quickly, too drastically and not looking at the consequences of its actions. I don't want to embarrass them, though I have them here. I would never embarrass my friends in the government caucus. I would never want to do that.

One of the members, though, from York East -- I know he would want me to quote this -- was quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying: "I've heard people suggest the pace is quick and I agree with them." Morley Kells, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, said: "Once the government gets stuck with the high-speed label, it will be hard to peel off. I believe we should soften some of our approaches. We seem to do too much too quick."

Tony Skarica went on to say: "We are on a downward slide. We don't listen to the people who basically brought us to where we are, our core constituency. The police and firefighters and so forth are all every angry at us." These are Conservative members saying this. These are not Liberals, these are not New Democrats, these are Conservative members.

I don't happen to agree with the government agenda in many places, but even those who do agree -- I have some friends who do agree. The member for Niagara Falls probably agrees. I have them agreeing, but they believe the government's moving too quickly and too drastically and not accepting the consequences of their actions.

That's a problem for the government. They're trying to slow down now. As I say, there was a sudden stop. They screeched to a stop and went into reverse, reversed engines. There was another old television show, called The Silent Service. It was about submarines and they would say, "Reverse engines." The government reversed its engines.


It also passed the time allocation motion. Under the new provisions of the Legislature, under the new rules written by Mike Harris's people in his back room and those who want to please Mike Harris, they brought in these new rules.

When the government brought in new rules which were going to allow the government to grease the skids for its legislation, to ram everything through in record time, to have as little debate as possible, to eliminate any of the so-called bargaining chips the opposition might have to try to get more hearings, for instance, I thought when they imposed these new rules with the iron fist of the 82-member majority, that somehow they wouldn't have to use time allocation motions, but they did. They had to use those time allocation motions, and so on this they had a crazy time allocation motion which allowed very little time for debate on amendments.

We know that in this bill the pay equity situation is not yet resolved and the employee wage protection program has been abandoned. I know there are some people on the other side who didn't like that program, but there are a lot of people out there who had nowhere to turn. Do you know why they had nowhere to turn? Because you have cut back so much in the staff of the Ministry of Labour to deal with these issues where you have employers closing down and heading out of town and not paying the workers, leaving these workers behind. That program at least allowed for some compensation of those individuals, and the government has abandoned that program.

Now people phone the labour office in the St Catharines-Thorold area and they are told, "In eight months we'll be able to deal with your problem." Can you imagine waiting eight months to have a problem even dealt with, let alone resolved? Is that because the people in the labour office are mean-spirited? The answer is no. It is that they have too few employees in that office to be able to resolve these matters. Now you're leaving the poor workers out in the cold. These are not wealthy people who have bank accounts with millions upon millions of dollars; these are often people who live week to week, and they are in a very difficult situation.

I see the government tabled 150 amendments for the bill, basically to recognize that it was going to lose on this one. This was the retreat, and that was fine. Listen, I want to commend the government. You know how you think those of us in opposition never commend the government? I want to commend the government for capitulating to what it calls the union bosses. Mike Harris has done a good job in that case. He can quote me as saying that I agreed with him when he did his full capitulation to the trade union movement, because they were right and he was wrong, and so I agree with him on that.

But it took the government a long time to come up with its 150 amendments. If in the first place the government had negotiated in good faith, had sat down in good faith and discussed some changes when the transition took place in various sectors, I think they would have found a positive response. Instead they tried to impose it and that did not work. The bullying doesn't always work. It does sometimes; it doesn't always work.

The government waited until September 29 to formally back down from its strong-fisted legislation, and when the Premier told us he had accepted the compromises by Ontario's nurses, police officers, firefighters and other public sector workers, he didn't do it face to face with those people, as we know; he did it in a stinging statement in the Legislature. Can we expect the government to act the same way on Bill 160? Time will tell.

There was no meaningful consultation before June when Bill 136 was developed, no face-to-face discussions with workers until in September they announced a plan in the House to gut the legislation. There were no details of that. There were only four days of public hearings for people to make presentations and no hearings held outside Metropolitan Toronto.

There are some of us who recognize, though we love Metropolitan Toronto, that the world doesn't stop and start at the borders of Metropolitan Toronto, that there are people in Markham and Woodbridge and St Catharines and Hamilton and Ottawa and Kenora and all over the province who have an interest in what goes on here.

Did the government travel to those centres? No. It was afraid of the people in those centres, afraid to confront the individuals who were going to make presentations. What did they do? They had videoconferencing. With videoconferencing you don't have the people in the same room. They are far away and you can insult them if you want to on the other side and there's no way they can retort. Some people called that -- I wouldn't do this -- cowardice. I didn't think it was for a while, but I'm beginning to think they were right when they said that.

The hearings ended on Friday at 5 pm. Everybody had to have amendments in by Monday at 10 am. We got 250 pages of amendments at 10 am and had to vote on them by 3:30. That doesn't mean that the government is serious. That's process, and I know people outside of this place aren't as occupied with process as we are, but it doesn't mean that democracy functions well when you proceed in that fashion.

I hope the government listens in its discussions tomorrow with representatives of the teachers of this province. Just as I said I didn't think the other public sector workers were militants standing there waving their fists and wanting to go out on a province-wide strike, teachers don't want to either, but when you back people into a corner, when you take people on and you publicly denounce them and use it in a political way to get others to dislike one group in society, what do you expect?

I don't know whether you can win this battle -- my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville says not and I suspect he's right -- but even if you did, would it be worth it? Would it be worth the damage you do to people who work in the public sector, in this case the education sector? Yes, among some of your really right-wing friends you could say, "We showed them, didn't we?" but the best way to resolve these matters is the way successive governments such as Premier Robarts's and Premier Davis's would have solved them, and that is by bringing the people into a room and discussing things with them -- not imposing things, not denouncing them with rhetoric, not trying to get others in society to dislike them so that the government would be on the side of right and those individuals on the side of wrong, but rather to sit down and have a meaningful discussion and try to develop a consensus.

I think that would be good for the province, and I think it would be good for the government, and most of all -- this is most important -- it would be good for the students in our system, and their parents and the teachers who work in that system. I hope that's what the government will do, because to this point I haven't seen that happen.

I have talked to people out there who I know are not militant. I have talked to people out there who normally wouldn't consider going out on strike unless for very definite and strong reasons, and they are saying to me they're being pushed to the edge of the precipice. I won't call it a retreat in this case, because it's a serious point we're at now. I hope the government looks carefully at its plan of action and that the government will try to find an accommodation with those who deliver educational services in the front line in our province, because they are the people who know the new challenges facing them.

The education system has changed since the 1950s. There are many people who would like to go back to the 1950s, and let me tell you there were some redeeming things about the 1950s in many ways, but that's not what it is today. Those are not the circumstances we face. We have far different students entering the system today than we had in those days. Today I hear people talk about the failure rate. What they fail to consider is that back in the 1950s and the early part of the 1960s, we had what was called grade 10 terminal, an awful-sounding name, but you were out the door, you couldn't go any further, and today more and more students are completing a high school education.

These are not always people who have a lot of academic ability. They may come from disadvantaged homes, but we are trying to provide an education for those individuals, so you can't expect that the scores are all of a sudden going to be very high, when you've got a greater number of people who find education to be a challenge staying in the system and trying to cope and trying to be successful.


The hospital workers: I was pleased to have the Premier's letter arrive in the riding last Friday when I went to a press conference at Hotel Dieu Hospital, where they were announcing their 50th anniversary celebration. What you should know is that the local hospital closing commission -- sorry, the local hospital restructuring commission -- which has announced that there are five hospitals to be closed in the Niagara region, announced that Hotel Dieu would be one of the ones to close if their recommendations were accepted.

The Premier was there, large as life, in the form of his letter. Let me read what his letter had to say: "Please accept my best wishes for this year's celebrations and for the many more years to come." I'm going to hold the Premier to that, just as I'm going to hold him to his promise when he said in May 1995, in answer to Robert Fisher during the leadership debate during the provincial election, "I can guarantee you, Robert, it is not my plan to close hospitals." That was in response to a question which said, "With all the changes to health care you're going to bring about, Mike Harris, will hospitals close as a result?" The Premier said, "It is not my plan to close hospitals."

That's a surprise to the people who are supporting the five hospitals that are slated to close or be radically altered in the Niagara Peninsula. I'm going to remind people of that promise, and I hope the Premier keeps it. If they don't close any hospitals in Niagara, then the Premier's promise will have been kept. That's why I was encouraged when it said "for many more years to come" in the Premier's letter. I know that wouldn't just be a standard letter that the Premier puts out to any organization. I know he really meant it and I intend to hold him to that promise, just as I intend to hold the Minister of Transportation to the promise that St Catharines will continue to have the headquarters, the central office, of the Ministry of Transportation.

There's a feeling out there, with some justification, that slowly they're bleeding the employees away and back to Toronto. It's treated more as a regional office today than a central office. There's a fear out there about that. I don't want to fan the flames of fear.

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): That's unfounded.

Mr Bradley: The minister says it's unfounded. Just as I'm sure the Premier would be good in his word about not closing any hospitals in Ontario, I know the minister's word would be just as good as the Premier's word, and I'll give it the same degree of credence I will give the Premier's word.

The municipal cutbacks: I even have Conservatives locally who are beside themselves over the cutbacks coming to municipalities, because they recognize that when the Harris government downloads responsibility and financial obligations to municipalities, they have a combination of three choices: They can cut services, and heaven knows they've already had to cut services over the years -- they can cut services further; or they can raise taxes and try to maintain some semblance of service; or they can add user fees.

We know that user fees do not take into account an individual's ability to pay. The children of people of modest and low income will not have the same opportunities if their children have to pay these huge user fees, which will not as adversely impact upon those who have some degree of wealth in our communities. Many of the elected municipal representatives are going to be very concerned when they see those tax bills come out. I know my friend from Carleton would agree with me, because he knows of the struggles that the people of modest and lower income in his community have.

I want him to take that message to his fellow colleagues, just as I want him to take the message about the recent appointments to the Niagara Escarpment Commission. If Norm Sterling were the minister, I can tell you that Mr Seabrook from the Grey county area would not have been appointed. Mr Seabrook may be nice man, but he has opposed the Niagara Escarpment Commission for a long time. I see others being appointed who don't really have much faith in the role the commission would play.

I felt, fine, as long as Norm Sterling was in charge as Minister of Environment and Energy I didn't have a fear, because I knew he wouldn't allow those kinds of appointments. But his friend Mike Harris, just after he denounced him over auto emissions, yanked him out of that responsibility and gave it to the Minister of Natural Resources, and now all the people who want to develop lands under the jurisdiction of the Niagara Escarpment Commission are rubbing their hands and saying: "At last. We got rid of Sterling. He's pushed aside. Now we can develop those lands the way we want to develop them."

I know seniors out there concerned about the fact that this government is getting rid of rent control are perturbed not only at that but what their future might be if they have to go into a hospital, because today in hospitals you cannot get the same service you once did. The employees are eager to give that service; they're working hard, they're well overworked, but the budgets have been drastically cut.

When I hear the government list all the announcements it's making about reinvestments, those are routine investments. They've always been made in the health care system. What isn't routine and what isn't new is the fact that the government has cut millions upon millions of dollars from the health care system. What are they going to do? They're going to put video lottery terminals in every bar and every restaurant, in every town and every community and every village of this province to get money to pay for that lost money, for the tax cut for the rich.

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate. Like my colleagues in the Liberal opposition party, I think there ought to be no doubt that this is not a case of the government listening and caring and responding to the concerns they've heard out there.

One of the members, either the parliamentary assistant or the member for Scarborough Centre, who led off for the government, said: "The labour movement had these concerns, so we changed it. Then they had these concerns, so we changed it. Then they had a few more concerns, so of course we changed those." What a joke, really. I know that phrase has been used. It is the only way to truly characterize the feeble defence of the government members trying to rationalize, explain and at the end of the day apologize to their supporters for what was clearly a cave-in.

It really was a question of this government recognizing through their polling -- because we know they do massive polling -- that they had finally picked a fight they were going to lose. We said it would take time. Anyone who wants to search the Hansards can see that we said, "It'll take some time for people to truly catch on to this agenda."

It's easy for us here to see it because we deal with it every day. We know what this group is all about. We can interpret, because of our experience, how quick the realities of what they're announcing will be and how that will play out in our communities. So we said, "We see it and we know people aren't believing us right now," because our job is to be the opposition, so to a large degree we get sort of written off, but we said over time, as the evidence shows itself, people will begin to understand clearly that this is a government that takes care of the very privileged few. To the rest of us in the majority: "Tough."

As long as this government can fathom bumper-sticker slogans for any election, including the next one, that lets them get whatever percentage it takes for them to win a majority government, that's the last time anything outside the privileged few ever gets heard from again. Certainly, it's the last time they're ever listened to again.

For those who doubt that, I would offer up what I think is -- I may get this sucker framed. I think this is beautiful. This went out the day after the government's full retreat, where they finally recognized that: "Yes, it's not just labour. We weren't able to isolate them. Communities were supporting them." All workers in all communities -- public, private, union and non-union -- were recognizing that this was their fight for their communities. Their neighbours, their families, their friends were under attack, and they had to respond. As anyone watching has learned from this government, if you weren't hit the first month and you weren't hit in the first six months or the first year or even the second year, you now know that if you weren't one of those hit in that period of time, it's only because your time is coming. Ask those who got hit in the second year but not the first and maybe didn't say anything and speak out.


The polling showed them that that's what was happening. People were becoming aware of what this truly meant and they were prepared to support the public sector workers and their families and the communities those families live in in their struggle against this bully government.

The day after, across Canada NewsWire comes a news release from Ontarians for Responsible Government. They're big fans of this government. Unless I'm mistaken, I think they're the ones that sponsor those interesting billboards not too far from here. I think that's the same group. Very interested in politics they are, have a clear point of view. I can't think of anything I agree with them about, but they feel the same way about what I think. That's fine. That's how democracy works. But that is who this news release is from. What does it say? This is after they heard the announcement from the government and realized everything they were doing in terms of recognizing the victory of not just unions but of working people in communities. What did they say the day after?

"Ontarians for Responsible Government is demanding that Labour Minister Elizabeth Witmer resign. `After today's astonishing and inexplicable reversal on Bill 136, Witmer has no choice but to resign,' says ORG president Colin T. Brown. `She's lost her credibility.'

"Brown was reacting to the news that Witmer was offering huge concessions to union bosses regarding Bill 136. `If Premier Harris's handlers and spin doctors think this nauseating and cowardly policy retreat will help them in the polls, they are sadly mistaken,' says Brown. `It won't win them the support of Liberals or NDPers. It will drive away Conservatives.'

"Brown also says today's Tory surrender won't bring about peace with the union bosses. `Appeasement never works,' says Brown. `The union bosses learned today that they can win with threats, blackmail and bullying'" -- end quote, end news release.

I just think it's absolutely special that we have a news release from Ontarians for Responsible Government calling on Elizabeth Witmer to resign because of -- how did they word it? A wonderful turn of phrase: "nauseating and cowardly policy retreat."

Sometimes we give them too much credit. For a lot of the things that turn out in their favour, we sometimes have a tendency to overanalyse and say, "They really do know how to manage these things and their spin doctoring is excellent." Obviously, that's not what happened. Otherwise, I suspect that all those entities that would need to be on side politically weren't, because they couldn't be. They didn't agree with what the government was doing because what the government was doing was bowing to the fact that they couldn't win the fight.

That's what you've done on virtually every other occasion. You've taken on the most vulnerable or those you perceive to be vulnerable. You've taken on everybody that you think you could win a fight with, based on your polling and what you're prepared to message through spin doctoring. By and large, unfortunately for the majority of people in this province, middle-class people included big-time, and our communities and our health care system and our education system, unfortunately for all those entities, you have succeeded in bullying and pushing your way around by and large, with a few exceptions.

This was the first time you lost. As I said in my opening remarks, I believe it's because more and more people are aware of what you're doing and why you're doing it. You don't have the best interest of the majority of Ontarians at heart or you wouldn't do the things that make our communities, part of the largest province in a nation that three or four times now has been declared the best place in the world to live -- there's a reason for that. There's a reason that we were declared the best place to live. It's because of the quality of life of our communities, and our communities are not those few little pockets of people who are lucky enough to have a huge amount of money and therefore can buy privately anything they need.

If the average middle-class working person needs health care, the only way they're going to get a decent health care system is if all the people in the province pool their resources and make sure we have the hospitals and the system and the experts and the medicine necessary to give us the kind of health care system we deserve. If you've got enough money in the bank, you don't need to rely on that. You can go anywhere. You can just nip down to the States, where they've got all kinds of private health care. Mind you, it's excellent. There's no question it's an excellent health care system but you've got to have the scratch, and if you've got the scratch you can access it. But for those who don't, they need the collective ability of all of us participating to ensure that that health care system is there.

Tommy Douglas believed that as an idea, because of his own experience and his own childhood, and he believed it all the way through his adult life, through the time that he was a minister in the church up to the point he became Premier of Saskatchewan. After he balanced the budget and took care of the finances, towards the end of his 16 years as Premier, he introduced that first universal health care system. Then, because of the pressure that the CCF and the NDP brought to bear on federal governments, we saw the national health care system. That's how we got it. In Ontario it's under attack. We stand to lose that, in large part so you can find the $5 billion and $6 billion a year necessary to pay for your disgusting tax cut.

This is clearly a victory for labour. Even your own friends and supporters, through what they have said publicly, prove the point, as does the fact that you virtually gutted the whole bill. What you put in place originally and stood so proudly defending, including my colleague from Hamilton West, who was so proud to stand up the day before you did your retreat and offer her unquestioning, unvarnished support for Bill 136 as it stood -- and I'll come back to that in a few minutes -- up until then, you were going after the labour movement, you were going after working people.

It matters that we understand exactly what the government was intending if we want to comprehend where they are and why they're there now. I will be breaking my comments into three main parts: (1) the intent of the original Bill 136, (2) the process that was used throughout all of this, and (3) the continuing damage that the current Bill 136, in its final form, will do and who it will hurt.

First of all, make no mistake: The government's intent was clear. They decided how they were going to respond to the employer pressure on them to solve their problems. I'd be the last one to say that they didn't have legitimate concerns, just like employees and their union representatives had legitimate concerns. The problem with all of this and this whole Bill 136 is that only the employer side of the equation was listened to. That's why it was so patently unfair. When the government says, "We made all these changes because we're the kind of government that listens; that's what we do," the fact is that if that were true, why would a government put this whole province through the process they did, creating another crisis, lighting the fuse with a time allocation motion the day before they retreated, which is the most bizarre political act I've seen in my seven years here? You're about to retreat, and the day before you do that, you go and antagonize the enemy as strongly as you can and be as provocative as you can be. The day before the minister was to stand up and say, "I give; I can't take on every community and every working person in this province and therefore, on behalf of the government, I announce that we quit, we give, we surrender," the day before that she stood up and did a time allocation motion with the original Bill 136 in front of us and said, "I'm going to ram this sucker through in a few days."


"Bizarre" is the only way to describe what kind of political thinking was going on that led to that happening. Maybe at some point in history I'll fully understand what took place, but in terms of the government's thinking on this, that remains to be seen.

The government was clearly not wanting to listen to anyone other than their employer pals, otherwise they would have met with the labour leaders before they tabled the bill. That is not a revolutionary or draconian idea. If it were a government, which it isn't, that wanted to listen and wanted to go through the process of give and take, recognizing that there are balancing issues necessary when you're dealing with labour relations -- that's the whole point of it, to enshrine in law fairness and balance -- if they truly believed that, I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize you would pick up the phone before you tabled the bill, before you wrote the bill. You would pick up the phone, meet with some of the labour leaders of the working people who are affected and you would start to measure what your own thinking was when you initiated the process and what the two sides are saying and where they're going to be politically and substantively if you go down certain directions. Then you would sit back and say, "Okay, we've got some ideas here." You may or may not have more meetings, but at least you would be engaged in a process that recognized that you wanted to listen to both sides.

Therein lies the flaw in your argument that you made these changes because you were listening. That's my point. You are using the argument that you made all these changes because you're so concerned and you were listening, and I'm saying that the facts do not bear that out. The reality is, had you really wanted to listen, you would have met with Gord Wilson of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Leah Casselman of OPSEU, Sid Ryan of CUPE and other representatives before you put pen to paper, and you would have done the same thing on the employer side. I'm not advocating a reversal of your unfairness; I'm saying that if you want to listen and you want to consider what people have to say, that's how you go about it. It sure looks to us as though all you did was talk to one side, and that one side's message is pretty clear.

When we had your version of hearings, which I'll speak about in a moment, one of the presentations was from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Again, these are people who have a very distinct point of view. They're entitled to have it. It is a credible point of view from their perspective. But like the Ontario Federation of Labour, their primary concern is to represent their members -- nothing wrong with that. That's how a pluralistic society works. Even with all its faults -- and there are those who can make much better arguments than I about the problems with it -- that's the one we have and that's the one that has served us well so far.

I have no problem with what they do. I have a problem with the fact that this government only listens to this point of view and refuses to acknowledge and listen to a different point of view, that of the families and the working people who are affected by your legislation. They are entitled to be heard. You have no right to deny them.

What do they say at the hearings? "The business community is critically interested in ensuring that government services are provided and implemented in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Disruption to municipal services, education, and hospital services can have a significant impact on the economic wellbeing of the province and on the ability of our membership to conduct business effectively."

It also has a major impact on the people who are out on strike; in fact, far more so than municipal councils themselves, because they still exist. The elected people are still there and their cheques are coming. For most business people, their business continues to operate, thanks to your scab legislation which allows those striking workers to be outside while scabs are brought in and take their jobs away. You never give any emphasis to that. You always see it as just a disruption to service and its effect on business. Yes, that's true; that does happen. There is a disruption and it is an inconvenience, but people don't do that lightly. That's what you refuse to listen to, the fact that people only do that when their backs are to the wall.

Sound familiar? That's what is going on with the people at Copps Coliseum in the downtown of Hamilton right now in the heart of my riding. Same thing. You got their backs up against the wall.

People do not vote to go on strike lightly. Anybody who has spent any time in the working world would know that, particularly anybody who has been on or led strikes for any period of time, and you watch what happens to some people and how difficult it is. There's never any certainty when you go out. You never know when you're coming back.

My concern with the chamber of commerce presentation is that there is no recognition of that. Again, they don't have to; they're not elected to represent those people. But obviously the government bought 100% into this view, that the inconvenience and the disruption were greater than obviously the pressure and the hit and the takeaway on those working people, who felt they had no other choice but to vote to withhold their labour because there wasn't a fair reflection of what they are worth on the negotiating table. The chamber of commerce does not have an obligation to reflect that point of view; the government of Ontario does. Particularly when you're rewriting key parts of labour legislation, you have an obligation to consider that point of view.

They go on to say in their presentation: "As is evidenced by the public sector unions' general reaction to the proposed amalgamation of these entities, unions will naturally resist any changes which have the potential of reducing existing terms and conditions of employment." Damn right.

"This means that during negotiations for the resultant collective agreement of the amalgamated enterprise, the unions will attempt to ensure that the best terms and conditions of employment in any of the units prevail in the amalgamated entity. This interest has the potential of increasing the costs of employment over those costs which prevailed in the prior institutions."

Okay. Again, obviously the government bought into that line totally. What I read into that is, then it's okay for everybody in this new, amalgamated entity to take the lowest dollar and lowest benefit of any of the merging entities. That's what I get from that, because it says there is this big threat of the increase of costs and the unions are going to fight to preserve the best they can for their members and they're going to fight for the best wages of all those that are being combined and the best benefits.

Yes. That's what they are there for; that's what they need to do. People don't need unions to negotiate their standard of living down. They join unions to raise their standard of living because of, again -- guess what? -- the strength of the collective, of people who don't have individual power and influence and strength joining together to create an offsetting balance of those who do. That's not some kind of wild lefty kind of thinking, in my opinion. I think that's just a reflection of what has made Ontario great, what has made Canada great, and it's also something that you are totally blind to, totally.


For some of you, especially the Reformers over there, you may think, "Oh, yeah, from a business point of view the only thing that ought to happen is that whatever the lowest wage is, the lowest benefit, that's what they all ought to get." That's fine for you or fine for those who think that way, because most of them who do are living quite well, thank you very much. They aren't the ones who have to see a 10%, 20% or 30% reduction in their standard of living. They aren't the ones who have to go back and tell their kids: "No, we can't go on that vacation this year because Daddy had to take a pay cut because of Mike Harris's new legislation, and oh, by the way, there won't be any new clothes for school. You're going to have to wait for them at Christmastime, because they're going to become your Christmas present." No thought of that, but that's the reality for the people who are affected by this, and it's common with this government. Everything you do is a race to the bottom. Who pays the least? What pays the least? What is the lowest benefit available that we can point to and then say, "There, they're only getting that, so you clearly must be overpaid and underworked; you must be."

The chamber goes on to say, "Obviously, this is likely to be resisted by the amalgamated entity and could, therefore, create the potential of significant work disruption in those areas of the public service that have the right to strike." Again it's that point of view that sees working people and their elected representatives as evil, because the fact of the matter is, as Judy Darcy, the national president of CUPE has said, there is not on record anywhere in Canada a strike by public sector workers solely because of amalgamation or mergers. There's no evidence. You can create this myth, as they do, if you see the world that way. I can understand it, but Ontarians do not have the luxury of their government thinking that way. That's why we've got this agenda of yours: You do see it this way.

So what's the fact? The fact is that there hasn't been one. Does that guarantee there would never be another one? No, it does not guarantee that, but it does put a lie to the argument that because of the nature of unions and what motivates them, there will definitely be all these strikes. We know that's not the case, and I thank Judy very much for bringing that forward.

The last reference I have on the chamber of commerce presentation is their paragraph: "We are, therefore, very concerned with the government's expressed intention to allow those municipal workers and education workers who presently enjoy the right to strike to retain that right in this transition phase. However, the union's expressed intention to deal with this right in a responsible manner will be demonstrated by their conduct throughout this ongoing process."

What about the employer's responsibility? It takes two to tango. It takes two to negotiate. Strikes don't happen because of one side. It takes both parties to cause a strike, just like it takes both parties to reach an agreement. Again, this point of view, legitimate in its own right, cannot be adopted by a government -- or shouldn't have been, because obviously you did -- because, again, it leaves the impression that it's only the workers who cause strikes and that they're the ones who have to show their responsibility.

The whole point of labour legislation and the laws that govern the relations between employers and employees is fairness and balance. This government says those words all the time, but we know what they really think about it. I've said it so often, but I will continue to do so. We know how this government feels about the word "fair." You took the word "fair" out of your brand-new Ontario Labour Relations Act, and you took the word "fair" out of the Workers' Compensation Act. What does that say about your thoughts as they relate to fairness and balance? Also, the original intent of the bill was to take away not only the right to strike but the fair and balanced arbitration system that exists currently.

The Ontario Hospital Association presentation was interesting, and I want to read a few parts of this. "Hospitals are in a period of intense and rapid restructuring, accompanied by massive budget reductions. To date, the Health Services Restructuring Commission has directed 25 hospitals across the province to close. Communities in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Sarnia, Pembroke, London, Ottawa and Toronto have received final decisions from the commission. In Metropolitan Toronto alone, 11 of 44 hospitals are slated for closure. At the same time, these hospitals and others have had their base operating budgets reduced by 5% in 1996-97 and 6% in 1997-98."

There's the context, and in my opinion there's the real worry about what's going to happen in terms of restructuring, what you're doing to the budgets of hospitals that are remaining after your Health Services Restructuring Commission comes in and razes a number of them. You still have yet to announce the money you're reinvesting back into communities so that we can have community care to give us a holistic approach to health care in our communities. That was the whole point of it. The commitment that you will reinvest every dollar saved in your restructuring has not been met, and we await that decision, we await that announcement. Until then, this is what you're going to hear from the Ontario Hospital Association, as well as -- I think it was last week -- their announcement regarding their very strong concerns about how fast you're moving in this regard. We've heard that before, haven't we?

The member for Scarborough Centre, while I'm on this, likes to talk, both in committee and here, about the fact that there are a number of examples of mergers where it has taken a number of years to resolve certain disputes. He pointed to one in my own community of Hamilton, talking about the merger of the Civic and Chedoke-McMaster and the fact that CUPE had made it clear that it wanted its members to have first priority on any jobs available over non-union members. Every time he has done that, and today included, he always leaves the impression that this is somehow an evil thing.

Mr Preston: It is.

Mr Christopherson: See? You get one of the backbenchers saying, "It is." The fact of the matter is --


Mr Christopherson: If you'd stop yapping and listen, I'll give you my point of view, and then you can yap.

Mr Preston: I'm not interested in that point of view.

Mr Christopherson: No, you're not interested in my point of view, I agree, or anybody else's, for that matter, unless it's one of your pals.

Here's how the system should work. The system is that as a union you have an obligation to represent the best interests of your members. You as an MPP have an obligation to represent the best interests of your constituents. Sometimes in the overall scheme of things that's not necessarily what's in the best interests of the province, but that's not your job; you're not the Premier and you're not a minister. You're responsible, as a backbench government member, to represent your constituents' best interests. It's somebody else's job -- in your case, it's the cabinet's job to make sure that what they do is fair and balanced for everyone in the province.

So when CUPE does exactly what you're supposed to do here, they're evil and wrong. The Ontario Hospital Association represents the interests of hospitals. That's their job. There's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is that you want to change the process that resolves this to one that's unfair, because what ought to happen is, in a case like this, if you cannot resolve it, then obviously there needs to be a third party. The third party the unions were recommending in terms of resolving these kinds of disputes is not to take away the right of CUPE to represent their members, but to make sure there was an arbitration and a dispute settlement process that was fair and balanced, and CUPE may or may not win at the end of the day on that argument.

If those other workers were represented by another union, there would be two unions representing two points of view, each representing their own members. Doesn't that sound like pluralism again? The whole point of the process is everybody gets their say and at the point of decision-making there's an impartial, independent, as fair as we can humanly make it system. That's how our justice system operates. That's supposed to be how pluralism and a democratic Ontario operate.


The flaw in this scenario is not CUPE doing its job; the flaw in this scenario is that the changes you were going to make in the original Bill 136 would have taken out the fairness and the independence and the balance of the decision-making at the point where a final resolution to this would be made. That's why people were so riled up under Bill 136 in terms of the arbitration process.

Is that just my opinion? No. Ron Ellis, who was the former chair of WCAT until his untimely demise from that position -- and this is not even talking about 136; this is just the other appointments you're making, this is under the current system that has worked relatively well, and we'll talk about that before we leave. Bill 136 would have decimated fairness.

Here are a couple of quotes from his speech to the Canadian Bar Association -- Ontario, workers' compensation section, on September 24 of this year, barely a week ago. How did he end his speech? He said:

"It is my submission that the government's use of the reappointments power to screen adjudicators against unknown criteria puts adjudicators and agencies in conflict with the principles of natural justice; that the undermining of the chair's role in the appointments process is wrongheaded and fraught with peril for the future viability of agencies."

He goes on to say, "In my submission, it is time for the Ontario bar -- management and employer-side lawyers as well as worker and union-side lawyers, and indeed all lawyers -- to recognize that it is necessary that the bar's unified voice in favour of a fundamental structural reform of the appointments process compatible with the survival of a credible administrative justice system, now be heard. What is required, in my view, at this moment" -- just to complete the evening with one more quixotic submission, just to show his sense of humour -- "is a royal commission on the appointments process in the administrative justice system."

That's before 136, an expression of concern. I'll tell you, I'm not aware of anyone who questions Mr Ellis's credibility or sincerity or experience. I'll tell you something else: It was also very courageous of him to speak out, because I suspect that's the last time he would even have a shot at any kind of appointment from anything like this government. He did it because he cares about the system.

That's what you're doing to the system of the other appointments that are made through orders in council, never mind what you were going to do with 136. What were you going to do with Bill 136? You were going to set up a system that the arbitrators who would resolve disputes during any mergers or amalgamations would be hand-picked by Mike Harris, and just to nail it down tight, you can't take their decisions to court.

The system right now in the Ontario Labour Relations Act requires that arbitrators be chosen and agreed upon by both sides of the equation, employers' representatives and employees' representatives. They both agree on who will be on this list of arbitrators.

It's not perfect, it has flaws, but both parties are prepared to live with it. That's a major achievement. You've got these inherently opposing views that are going to come to clashes -- you can't avoid it; mergers or no mergers, there will always be that clash -- agreeing, particularly where there is no right to strike -- which you also did to everybody else in the public sector under 136, took away their right to strike, because the second this dispute got referred to your new Dispute Resolution Commission, guess what? They lost their right to strike. Goodbye, free collective bargaining.

The arbitration system was so badly abused by what you were suggesting, because those fair arbitrators that both sides could live with were removed and everything went to the Premier's hand-picked arbitrators. They not only could deal with some of the outstanding issues on the table; they could do anything they wanted to that entire collective agreement -- anything.

I don't know about any of my colleagues, but I sure wouldn't want Mike Harris's golf buddies writing my collective agreement. That's in effect what we had. You knew what the implications were for the labour movement. You didn't talk to the labour movement ahead of time because you were planning to ram 136 through, and the only reason you didn't was because your realized through your polling that you couldn't win that fight, because people finally caught on and rallied around what they were going to lose in their communities.

I want to spend just a second, as I said I would, coming back to my neighbour in Hamilton West, who got up -- I don't know how she got suckered into this one. She was obviously comfortable with the political positioning, but to get suckered in the night before to give a rah-rah speech on time allocation and on Bill 136 as it originally existed, when the very next day the government was about to run up the white flag -- man, oh man, I'd still be steaming, I've got to tell you. If somebody ever did that to me, I'd have gone crazy.

Mr Duncan: Talk about hanging out to dry.

Mr Christopherson: Hanging out to dry big-time. She was so proud of herself. Listen. Here are some quotes. This is what she had to say the night before she realized she was going to be dangled out the window by her ankle:

"I'm pleased to rise in support of the Minister of Labour and the bill that she has brought forward, Bill 136, the Public Sector Transition Stability Act." "Thank you very much. I'm politically dead."

Mr Bradley: Who said that?

Mr Christopherson: That would have been Lillian Ross, the current member for Hamilton West.

Mr Bradley: Is she calling for a public inquiry?

Mr Christopherson: She doesn't want a public inquiry either into the Plastimet fire, no. She has very strange politics for a Hamiltonian, in fact so strange that she talked about the kind of support there is, not even realizing -- the thing is going to be blown up the next day. She's standing up there talking about how proud she is to support Bill 136, and then doesn't realize or doesn't factor in that her own city council voted against Bill 136 and called on the government to call it back. The labour movement had done the same thing through the labour council. So had the city council, and we know there are Tories on there. Anybody who knows Hamilton politics will know for sure there are Tories on there whom Ms Ross would have had some occasion to dialogue with.

They took the position that you shouldn't do it. The member for Hamilton West stands in her place and not only talks about how pleased she is, but says: "I think that when you talk about there being no support for this bill, indeed there is some support. I have a couple of supporting letters. One is from the county of Bruce." There's somebody whose own community said no, and she reaches out to some other community to show there is support for this thing.

Mr Wildman: The Premier didn't support it.

Mr Christopherson: That's right. My House leader says the poor member didn't even realize her own Premier didn't support it. Obviously, at the end of the day they didn't, because they retreated on the whole thing -- a sad, sad state of affairs for the member for Hamilton West. I can't wait for the debates in the next provincial election.


Let's talk just a little bit -- I don't have a lot of time left, and I know how much that will upset the government members; I can hear them groaning already -- about the process. My colleagues in the official opposition have made some reference to time frames, and I'll try not to be too repetitive.

One of the things that has to be mentioned again, if it has been mentioned already -- if not, it needs to come out -- is that on June 4, the day after the labour minister introduced Bill 136 in its original form, she said the following: "Yes, I commit to you that there will be full public hearings. We will travel the province...."

What happened? We know that the member for Scarborough Centre is oh so proud of the process that was used. He said, "We did teleconferencing," like somehow that was the same thing.

Mr Gilchrist: Videoconferencing.

Mr Christopherson: Videoconferencing. Thank you.

He said, "We did Kincardine, we did Thunder Bay, we did Ottawa and all across the province." No. We did Kincardine, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and nothing else across the province. That was it. In fact -- get this -- we had a delegation from Hamilton that drove to Kincardine to fill the same time slot they would have had if they had driven to Toronto, except it took them three times as long to get there and three times as long to get back. That is not to say that videoconferencing might not have a role in the future. But it was very lame, very thin, and it bordered on insulting the intelligence of the people of this province to think that a slap-dash videoconferencing process was the same as travelling around the province and giving people their right to be heard on this bill.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think you were afraid. You went out on other labour legislation like Bill 49 and you got creamed. You took Bill 99 -- that's the attack on injured workers, the WCB legislation -- and you made that only six days across the province, in the dead of summer. We got in an extra community, because we did two in one day. You got slaughtered in those communities too.

When you saw what was building on 136, those of us who have been around for a while know what happened: There was a backbench revolt. Everybody in that caucus who might have been earmarked to go on that committee said: "There's no way you're going to get me on that committee. If we all stick together, we can withhold this. If it's only a few of us, we're going to be in trouble, but let's stick together. We can withstand the pressure and tell them we're not going out there and defend this crazy piece of legislation." There you go: Power to the backbenchers. How did you do it? Collectivity again. Every time you don't have power, you find others who don't have power, add it up, and then you can take on those who do. What does that sound like? Sound like democracy? I think so.

I think it also speaks to why unions have been so effective in the past and need to be in the future, especially in the face of this kind of government and your kind of power and abuse of it and the extent to which you are prepared to use it.

The other thing I want to mention on process -- again, there's been some talk already. My colleagues have talked about the insult of having amendments in by 10 o'clock on a Monday morning and at 3:30 that afternoon we started to vote. That is such a joke, that whole process. When I was on Hamilton city council, you couldn't get approval to get a stop sign up in your ward as quickly as you rammed through a major piece of labour legislation. We had to have the amendments given in by 10 o'clock, and we had them by, what, close to 11, and at 3:30, with 200 pages of amendments, we were starting to vote. An absolute insult. I know what would have happened with the veterans in the government cabinet, who were over here not that long ago, had we ever attempted to do that.

The last point on process is my question to the Minister of Labour in the time between when she announced her full retreat and when we actually got the amendments; in fact, I think it was the day we got the amendments. I asked her about subsections 15(6) and (7) of schedule B. I said, "There seems to be a problem," which there was. The minister's answer to me was, "If you would give me an opportunity to find it."

Nobody else was allowed an opportunity to reflect on her amendments ahead of time, before they had to come to the committee. None of us was given any time to reflect on them or get legal opinions before we were forced to vote on them as lawmakers. But the minister wanted an opportunity when she was put on the spot. I raise that because it just points out the absolute unfairness and the idiocy of suggesting you could do something in that short a time. She couldn't respond in that short a time. Why should everybody else who's affected by this bill have been forced to follow the same kind of unfair process? No justification for that at all.

I want to move, in the final minutes I have, to what's left in Bill 136. One of the government members suggested that because the galleries aren't full and there's no major rioting outside, obviously everybody's happy with it. Wrong again. The fact of the matter is that the people affected by this realize they've squeezed everything they're going to out of you and there's absolutely no way one of you is suddenly going to rise and change this process. Within the half-hour you're going to vote on this thing, and that's third reading, and then all it takes is the rubber stamp of the Lieutenant Governor and it's the law. They know that.

What's left in this bill is still damaging and ugly. You still leave in requirements for arbitrators to consider ability to pay and best practices. I know you love that stuff and I also realize that at first blush it does sound like it makes sense. Ability to pay: That makes sense, so why shouldn't an arbitrator consider ability to pay? The fact is, whether you're in the public sector or the private sector, I don't know anybody who's ever negotiated with an employer where the employer says at the opening negotiations: "By the way, we've got lots of money we want to give you. We've got so much money that we can't wait to get this contract concluded so we can shovel some of it your way, because you work so hard. So please, give us all your proposals. In fact, we saw some of them. We think you need more, because we've got so much money."

That's not what happens. No employer has an ability to pay, just like everybody in jail is innocent. The premise with the employer is that they can't afford to pay it. Of course that's the premise. They'd be stupid to start anywhere else, whether it's true or not. But we have to realize that what's different about the public sector is that public sector employers, particularly municipalities or entities like them -- we're the same; the provincial government and other entities such as us. The difference between those employers and others is that they decide on their own ability to pay.

In the private sector, a lot of it does depend on how well they're doing out in the marketplace: Is their service or their good selling? Is there growing demand for it? All those factors come into it. When you're a municipality, you decide how much revenue you've got by a vote. It's your own decision. Should you decide to make sure you don't have the ability to pay, you can do that. The government knows that. That's the difficulty. Again, it's not the fairminded councillors and aldermen who people worry about; it's the hard, far-right wing, who see the world the way I mentioned earlier, in terms of ignoring the other side of our reality in this province. That's what the fear is, because this allows them to set up a situation where the ability to pay is not naturally reflected.


The other is best practices. Again, why wouldn't you go with the best practices? It makes some sense. Again, the people who have negotiated with employers, especially the public sector, know that often times those are code words for, "Who pays less wages and who pays less benefits?" You can argue that obviously it's a better practice because you spend less money. So "best practice" are really just code words for the lowest pay going. If they can point to someone else who pays less, then that's a better practice and that has to be considered by the arbitrator. That's still in here. It wasn't before. Bill 136 brings that in.

Again, I would remind people who are watching that if you've got a decent paying job and want to keep it, you'd better make sure there are enough other people around you who have a decent paying job or you're going to find yourself on the other end of best practices. If you are below what people are getting who have collective agreements, the only chance you're ever going to have for someone to stand up and fight for a better minimum wage or give you a bigger share of what you're entitled to is either through your own union or making sure that other unions are bringing the wage up so that if by no other reason than embarrassment, your wages are brought up.

There's a need for everybody to care about the price of labour in the province of Ontario. The value of labour is important to anybody who works for a living. If you're a manager and you think that somehow doesn't include you, think again, and look at your community around you and ask yourself whether this agenda is helping or hurting your lifestyle.

The last two points that I want to raise: pay equity. Today the government, by virtue of not appealing the decision, has acknowledged that the courts were right when they said -- this is with regard to your Bill 26, the omnibus bully bill -- "It discriminates against proxy sector women by denying them the opportunity of quantifying and correcting the systemic, gender-based wage inequity from which they suffer, a benefit the act grants to other women working in the broader public sector."

The courts also went on to say that your Bill 26 is "unconstitutional and of no force and effect." They also went on to say that clearly you passed Bill 26, with schedule J, which was the heading on that clause, "essentially for fiscal reasons." The courts said, "essentially for fiscal reasons," and therefore you didn't have the right to override the constitutional protection that pay equity had. They denied the government's claim and they overruled that part and today you've admitted to it. Now we want to see you honour the other part of what they said, which is, "Cough up the money." You owe the money.

But you still left in place the fact that there are women now receiving wages that have a pay equity portion to them where they could lose that lawful right because Bill 136 says you don't have to keep the rates that are in effect with a seller if you're the buyer of a new service, or in the case of a merger. There's still a major takeaway that you should be ashamed of in Bill 136 with regard to pay equity.

In terms of the employee wage protection plan, I regret I've left it so late but I have spoken on it at great length many times. This is probably the sickest piece of the whole thing if I had to actually choose. This is a protection for workers who have lost their job and are owed wages and benefits that they worked for. They already worked for them. They're owed that money, but because of the current federal law, which the federal Liberals have to take responsibility for, they end up at the end of the line and rarely get their money.

We brought in a plan that said if that's the case, we'll pay you your money, because a worker can't survive nearly as long without that money as a bank or a finance company can in terms of them getting their share of that bankruptcy or closure, and then we'll use the full force of the government to go after that employer to recoup the money. This government's argument for getting rid of it is: "It's funded by taxpayer money. It shouldn't be funded. Why should taxpayers pay for this?"

They don't answer the question, "Why do taxpayers pay for the police and the court system when banks are robbed?" That's not the taxpayers' money either; it's the banks' money. When police forces spend a lot of time in uncovering credit card fraud, all of the police work, all of the court system paid for by all the taxpayers, it's not their credit card money. If there's a rape victim, do you charge her for the police and the court system to prosecute the person who raped her? If you're a victim of violent crime, you can claim money from a compensation fund, all paid for from taxpayer money.

But under Mike Harris's Ontario, if you're a worker who's unfortunate enough to work somewhere that's gone bankrupt or moved or refuses to pay you, you're out of luck. They killed the one plan that you had. You've left that in Bill 136, and I think that is the sickest, most depraved aspect and clearly shows what you're all about. It is so sick that you would do that to people who by and large earn minimum wage.

The Speaker: Pursuant to an order of the House dated September 17, 1997, I am now required to put the question. Mr Maves has moved third reading of Bill 136. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

The division bells rang from 1747 to 1752.

The Speaker: All those in favour please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Danford, Harry

DeFaria, Carl

Doyle, Ed

Elliott, Brenda

Eves, Ernie L.

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Palladini, Al

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Conway, Sean G.

Cordiano, Joseph

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hoy, Pat

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Lankin, Frances

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Martel, Shelley

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Pouliot, Gilles,

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Sergio, Mario

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 62; the nays are 34.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

It now being nearly 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till half past 6.

The House recessed from 1755 to 1832.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.