36th Parliament, 1st Session

L246 - Tue 18 Nov 1997 / Mar 18 Nov 1997







































The House met at 1331.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Can you remove the ribbon, please.

Mr David Caplan (Oriole): Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to wear the ribbon.

The Speaker: The member for Oriole is seeking unanimous consent to wear the green ribbon. Agreed? I heard a no.



Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): In all the discussions we've had about Bill 160 and the teachers' protest, it is important to remember that Bill 160 will have some very real impacts on real schools and real communities. By virtue of this government taking over the collection of education property taxes across Ontario, education taxes levied locally for local purposes in Niagara, Halton, Peel, Markham, Ottawa, all the major urban and suburban centres, will be redistributed according to a province-wide formula.

As a result, speaking for my own community in the city of Ottawa, I can tell you that the Ottawa Board of Education is expected to lose some $50 million out of its $260-million budget. That is nearly one quarter of its budget. It is estimated that this loss will have to be accommodated by up to 15 school closures, primarily elementary schools, and the possible loss of such programs as vocational schools and middle or late French immersion.

These are programs that are important to the future of our children in Ottawa. These are the real impacts of Bill 160 that will come about in Ottawa-Carleton as a result of this government's power grab and money grab and, I suspect, in many of the urban and suburban school boards across Ontario. It is wrong. It will be a tremendous step backwards in terms of the quality of education these communities have struggled so hard to put into place with their own money.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I am pleased today to rise on behalf of the Ontario Nurses' Association, which this morning marched a thousand strong on Queen's Park to deliver to the Premier their vision of health care, which they call the Saving Medicare Plan.

It's really important for us to understand that with the cuts that have happened to hospital funding, the cuts that have happened in many areas of health care and the lack of response on the part of the federal government to put those dollars back into communities, everyone who is working in the health care field is trying to tell this government what the results are.

ONA says that 70.6% of the people who responded to their questionnaire report they have difficulty obtaining needed care; 86.3% report noticing a decline in the quality of health care; 89.3% have noticed fewer and fewer professional care providers in hospitals, nursing homes and community agencies; 41.1% have reported having to look after or pay for the care of an acutely ill relative; and 63.5% have to go to many different places to receive needed care. The professionals in the field of health care, particularly the nurses, have a plan.

Last night in Kitchener-Waterloo the new Minister of Health said that the health ministry lacked vision in the past and that she is going to change that. Well, this government has taken the dollars out of health care and has ordered hospitals closed without vision. We've been trying to tell them that for months.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have attended meetings and talked to constituents in Simcoe East who are involved and care about Ontario's education system, as have Joe Tascona and Bill Grimmett.

Some sections of Bill 160 caused me concern when I listened to the interpretation of teachers and supporters. It appeared to give the minister enormous power over our education system. I took the opportunity to consult with a lawyer in Orillia for an explanation of these sections and was assured these areas referred mainly to financial responsibilities. In fact, they are basically unchanged from the current education bill of 1990. In the amendments now before the committee, our courts will have final power over any act as outlined in the Constitution.

I have read and studied this bill extensively and find it offensive that students and parents are being fed misinformation. I have grandchildren in the education system, as do many other Ontarians, and as one constituent from Orillia said in her letter this week, "My children deserve quality education, my children deserve attention."

While receiving letters against Bill 160, I am also receiving many letters and phone calls from students and parents who support the education improvement changes that Bill 160 will bring to Ontario's education system.

We need student testing. We need a core curriculum. We need parent councils. We need --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Stop the clock, please. Order. I think it's important that members' statements be heard.

Mr McLean: We need principal and vice-principal involvement. We need to give the students more time with their teachers. We need to cap class sizes. We need to give our students every opportunity to learn to be the best in the world.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): Today the Legislature was given a telling reminder that what we're seeing with Bill 160 is just part of a destructive pattern this government has been engaged in for some time. We had a visit from the members of the Ontario Nurses' Association. They filed their plan for saving medicare with the Premier, a plan made necessary by this government. They did that to help fix the harm that has already been accomplished in the health care system by this government.

Let's just look at the parallels between what has been done and what this government intends to do.

The power-grabbing legislation: In Bill 26 they took the power and in 160 they want to do the same.

Making decisions with secret commissions behind closed doors: They did that to hospitals.

Wholesale cuts to programs: They took $800 million away from hospitals.

Firing dedicated public employees: They did that to nurses and they now want to do it to teachers.

If you add this up, it's a decline in the quality of care. Some 86% of the people surveyed by the nurses say that the quality of care has gone down.

The question for the back bench of this government and for the public of this province is, why would we want to do to the education system of this province and to the children of this province what Harris has already done to the health care system?

Shame on this government if it can't recognize the damage it has already done, using the exact same pattern. It wants to repeat that with Bill 160 on the education system.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am pleased to take this opportunity to express the fact that my leader, right now as we speak, along with my colleague Tony Martin from Sault Ste Marie, are now at the Mowat Block joining Dwyer Sullivan in a show of solidarity from our caucus, as Howard Hampton leads our caucus in continuing the fight against Bill 160. The teachers have done their bit. They went out there and showed great courage and a great amount of principle and a great deal of concern for the children, which sure is a hell of a lot more than this government is showing with their bill.

The fact of the matter is, Speaker, that notwithstanding your ruling, which you have the right to make, wherever we can and however we can we will continue to fly the colour of the apple-green in support of the protest against Bill 160. We saw teachers here yesterday along with parents, after work, in the cold, by the hundreds, by the thousands, surrounding this place.

There are schools and public buildings all across Ontario that are flying the apple-green ribbons in a show of protest against this government. Even Peter Kormos is wearing a tie. That's how much this matters. That's how important it is. In the closing seconds I want to urge everybody who cares, every citizen: Fly the colour. Show you care. Take them on.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): In October in Bradford West Gwillimbury I had the opportunity to help unveil a plaque in honour of Major Samuel Johannes Holland.

In 1764 Captain Holland became the surveyor general of the northern district of North America, with instructions to survey all British possessions north of the Potomac River. In 1790 the British government's decision to make land grants to loyalists after the American revolution made it necessary for Major Holland to accelerate the survey of the vast tracks of land destined to become Ontario.

His surveying of this region enabled a log road to be built after his death. This log road grew to be Yonge Street, which became an artery connecting not only towns and cities of my riding, but of many communities of Ontario.

Holland's cartographic skills and his systems of rapid surveys that he used in mapping the wilderness helped Ontario as well as Simcoe county to be settled in an effective and imaginative fashion.

At this time I would like to thank all the volunteers whose work led to the commemorative plaque that now honours a man whose dedication and skills assisted in the growth of Canada from the Atlantic provinces to Upper Canada. His foresight and considerable technical skills ensured a strong tradition of cartography in Canada.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I would like to read to the House a number of statements about Bill 160. I quote, "I have a big problem giving all the power of education not just to this Premier but to any Premier that may follow." Who said that, the head of a teachers' federation? No. Teachers? No. Opposition? No. Trevor Pettit, the member for Hamilton Mountain.

Let me give you another quote, "I feel misled over a number of things." Again, was it a teachers' federation? No. Teachers? No. Students? No. Who said it? Trevor Pettit, member for Hamilton Mountain.

It gets better. Let me quote again, "I have a problem giving any one person, whether it be Premier Harris or anyone else, control over the whole system." Again, not a teachers' federation, not teachers, not the member across the floor who's heckling, but who said this? Toni Skarica.

Very clearly, all is not well in the Tory caucus. As much as the Premier and his whiz kids and all the hacks want to come down and hammer your backbenchers, you are losing control of this agenda; you are losing this fight. You haven't been listening to the teachers. You have ignored parents. You have ignored students. You have ignored the opposition. You now have a caucus revolt.

Let me tell you, the smug backbenchers that are standing there smiling and heckling: You are going to be challenged for nominations by teachers across this province. They are not going to give you a chance to come back to Queen's Park. They will beat you on your turf, in your backyard. You are going to pay one hell of a political price for what you've done to teachers and to students. I tell the wimps across the floor: Face the teachers --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Member for Riverdale.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I want to congratulate John Silva, Steve Moore, William Payne and Dwyer Sullivan, who have all gone to Minister Johnson's office to protest Bill 160, taking risk with their own health and sitting there because the minister refuses to listen to the hundreds of thousands of teachers and parents and others across this province who support public education. They have done a good deed for all of us in this province and we want to thank them.

Indeed our leader, Howard Hampton, and the member for Sault Ste Marie, Tony Martin, are over there right now speaking with Mr Sullivan to ask about what other things we can be doing to stop this bill, and to also bring Mr Sullivan some food, because as you know he's been deprived of food and other supports while he's been there.

I have thousands of petitions here, as do all my colleagues. There are hundreds and thousands of petitions across this province.

When I continue to hear this Premier -- Premier Harris -- in his despicable, disgusting ads, which cross a very fine line in this province in fairness in our democracy, blame it on the union bosses and the union leaders, I want to make it clear that the hundreds of thousands of people in this province have a mind of their own and that's whom we're listening to.


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough-Ellesmere): I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about a very important issue. This is, as you know, Wife Assault Prevention Month, a commemoration launched by my colleague the minister responsible for women's issues on November 4 at the Barbra Schlifer clinic in downtown Toronto.

As we all know, wife assault is a crime. As political leaders, as citizens of this province, as human beings, we must all act to end the violent assault of women in their own homes by their own partners. Our government is committed to that goal, and promotes community-based services and solutions through nine ministries and more than 30 programs dedicated to violence prevention. Those services, for the thousands of women and children who need help, are very much community efforts.

I was pleased that as part of her activities for Wife Assault Prevention Month, the minister was able to join me on a visit to the Scarborough Women's Centre. Together we talked with front-line workers and the women who are breaking free of the cycle of domestic violence. They told us that support from their community and from the government are essential if they are to rebuild their lives.

I know all members of the House will join me in honouring these women -- these survivors. I urge each of us to accept a personal responsibility to end violence against women and their children.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I seek unanimous consent to put a motion to appoint the Integrity Commissioner under our integrity act.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that an humble address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:

"We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, now assembled, request the appointment of Mr Justice Robert C. Rutherford, as Integrity Commissioner, as provided in section 23 of the Members' Integrity Act, 1994, SO 1994, chapter 38, to hold office under the terms and conditions of said act commencing December 1, 1997."


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): There are times in the House, though they are few these days, where there is unanimous agreement on an initiative that is brought forward by the government. This is one where there is agreement. We are pleased to see the appointment of Mr Justice Robert Rutherford as the Integrity Commissioner in the province of Ontario. He brings to this position an outstanding public service record, an excellent reputation on the bench, and we believe he will fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the Integrity Commissioner in the manner in which all members of this Legislature and the people of Ontario would want to see those duties carried out.

It is indeed an extremely important position. The public perception of those in public office isn't always what we would like it to be. The establishment of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner and the rules and responsibilities under which he operates are extremely important to the people of this province because he looks at the integrity of the members in terms of the holdings they have, in terms of their actions as members of the Legislature and any conflicts which may arise as a result of personal and private actions and investments and so on, compared to carrying out the responsibilities of public office.

We are in full support of Mr Justice Rutherford assuming this position. We wish him well in this position and we offer our full cooperation.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On behalf of our caucus I want to briefly state that we also are in support of the appointment of Mr Justice Robert Rutherford to the post of Integrity Commissioner and that we support the motion brought forward by the government House leader.

There has been considerable discussion about the role of the Integrity Commissioner, particularly as it relates to some of the initiatives this government has said it wishes to move forward with. The suggestion has been made, and we agree, that if there is to be any major contracting out or privatization of government agencies, facilities or services, there must be some process in place for ensuring that senior members of the civil service who might leave their employ here can ensure that there are proper protections to prevent conflicts of interest. We support the suggestion that these changes will proceed and Mr Justice Rutherford will play this role.

As we understand it, Mr Justice Rutherford is a very well respected jurist. He has served long on the bench, with great integrity, and has tremendous respect from his colleagues and the members of the legal profession as well as widely held respect in the community. Mr Justice Rutherford served on the Somalia inquiry and is well known for his abilities and his understanding of the complexities and delicacies of some of the issues with which he will be dealing.

For those reasons we join with the Liberal Party and the Conservative government in supporting the nomination and appointment of Mr Justice Rutherford to this very senior and important post, which is of particular importance to all members of the assembly as we ensure that there is proper integrity in all activities around this place.

Hon Mr Sterling: I want to thank the opposition parties for consulting with us and reaching an all-party consensus on the appointment of Mr Justice Rutherford as our new Integrity Commissioner. As you know, he will be our second Integrity Commissioner in this province. Our first Integrity Commissioner, the Honourable Judge Greg Evans, is retiring. On behalf of the Legislature I would like to express to him our thanks for his diligent duty and the tremendous service he paid to this Legislative Assembly and the people of Ontario.

It has been mentioned that Mr Justice Rutherford was a member of the bar of Ontario, he was a justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario and member of the High Court of Justice for Ontario since June 1976.

I also add that he served as a tank commander with the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps during the Second World War. As I go through the next few weeks, I may be calling Justice Rutherford for advice with regard to getting business through this House.

The Legislature will be looking to his leadership not only with regard to the duties performed by the former Integrity Commissioner, but we would expect that his role will be enhanced in the future to deal with such matters as the House leader for the third party has mentioned and additional duties with regard to the behaviour of not only the members of the Legislature but also the staffs of those members.

We welcome him, we will work with him and we will ensure that he will be able to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and continue to serve the people of Ontario in the highest possible regard.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to take the opportunity to introduce the Honourable Robert C. Rutherford in the Speaker's gallery. Welcome and congratulations.

Shall the motion carry? Carried.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask for unanimous consent for an all-party statement on Wife Assault Prevention Month, which is the month of November. So far the government has done nothing on this issue. Yesterday they said they would do it today.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to point out that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, during her member's statement, made a statement on this. The minister made a statement on this. I might also add that the tradition of this House has been for these kinds of statements to be very supportive, as we are, of this particular event. However, there has been an understanding and a tradition in this House that we would not stoop to petty partisan politics when making these statements.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Oh, you say it's petty; petty, when women are out there and not getting the help they need. You call that petty?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Beaches-Woodbine, come to order, please.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Yesterday you said it was for today. You've got no integrity at all.

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre. Government House leader.

Hon Mr Sterling: The tradition of this House has been that there would be general support of the Legislative Assembly by all three parties on unanimous consent. I asked the third party if they would hold to this tradition. They have said they will not hold to that tradition. Therefore, I would deny consent on this.

The Speaker: If you'd take your seats, I'd appreciate it. I have a request for unanimous consent. I want to put the unanimous consent to see if it's going to carry or not. If it does carry, then I'll hear your points of privilege. Really, unanimous consent is unanimous consent; it's either going to carry or not. There aren't a whole bunch of points of privilege beyond that. Let me put the unanimous consent first and see.

The member for Riverdale is seeking unanimous consent. Agreed? No, it did not carry.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise as the critic for women's issues for our caucus. It was certainly clear to me yesterday, at least I believed it was made clear --

The Speaker: Member for Fort William, I appreciate what you're saying, but as I said earlier, this is not for this place to be debating; this is for the House leaders to discuss, but you know what? I'm not able to tie anybody to anything they said yesterday with respect to unanimous consent. I will give you a brief comment, but it isn't in order, with great respect.


Mrs McLeod: If you will hear me out for a moment please, I think the government House leader today put a totally different complexion on this. There was a general understanding, at least it was my understanding -- I came prepared today for what I expected was a government proposal that I understood both the Premier and the minister had agreed to -- that we'd be speaking to this today.

The government House leader today has suggested that we would not be having unanimous consent to speak on this issue because we were not following what he described as a tradition of this House.

The Speaker: Member for Fort William, it isn't a point of order. With great respect, it's not a point of order. The member for Riverdale rightfully stood in her place on a point of order and asked for unanimous consent. The government House leader rose in his place and spoke what he felt was his response to the request. I put the unanimous consent; it didn't carry. I appreciate what you're saying, but there's nothing out of order at this point for me to even rule on.

Mrs McLeod: -- anybody on this side of the House is prepared to raise a point of order.

The Speaker: I didn't hear completely what you said, but you know what? Unanimous consent is quite simple. If any member decides not to give consent, there's no unanimous consent.

Member for Riverdale, briefly.

Ms Churley: Actually, a point of order, and I think this is a legitimate point of order: When the government House leader spoke, he said that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere made a statement about Wife Assault Prevention Month in the 90-second statement that all members had, and he seemed to be implying that was the government's way of --

The Speaker: Member for Riverdale, I appreciate what you're saying, but there's nothing out of order right now. You're standing on a point of order. There's nothing out of order. I appreciate the point you're trying to make, but the point is this: I sought unanimous consent, which you requested me to do; I didn't get it, so there's nothing out of order.

Ms Lankin: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I understand your ruling and I'm not questioning your ruling. You put a question to the House and there was not unanimous consent.

I want to indicate, however, that in response to the member's request for unanimous consent, you didn't simply put the question. In fact, the government House leader stood and made a statement with respect to this issue, in particular commenting and reflecting on comments made earlier as the government's position and referring to anything that we might be saying as petty, partisan politics. He in fact has made a statement, and I believe at this point in time he imputed motive as well with respect to what we may say. I think at this point in time it is only fair, given that he has made a statement, that the two opposition parties be given an opportunity to respond on this very important issue.

The Speaker: Member for Beaches-Woodbine, if I can respond to what you just said, and I want to give you this point of order, with great respect, the member for Riverdale started this out not by simply requesting unanimous consent. She made comment with respect to the kind of unanimous consent she was requesting and made comment on the government's position with her request for unanimous consent. That started the ball rolling. It's very difficult for me to cut off one member who is seeking that when the opposite side wants to make the same kind of point with respect to unanimous consent.

I appreciate your point of order, but it wasn't simply standing in her place and seeking unanimous consent; there was political content there. I did my best to cut it off. It's very difficult once that process begins. Once I seek unanimous consent, it's over and there's nothing any longer that's out of order. I appreciate the point you're making, but there's nothing out of order any longer.

Mr Bradley: On a point of order --

The Speaker: Okay, but I'm trying to point out to the members for St Catharines and Riverdale there's nothing out of order on this issue. There's no point in standing up any longer on a point of order. There is nothing --

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): There's another point of order.

The Speaker: Then I will hear finally the member for Riverdale's point of privilege.

Ms Churley: Mr Speaker, I have a point of privilege. I would then ask you to ask the government House leader to withdraw his comment suggesting, imputing motive, that I was going to stand up and make petty, partisan points. I want an apology.

The Speaker: I heard what you said, and I know that you're fully aware that any member may withdraw any comments they make. What he said wasn't out of order; it may have been politically exciting, it may have caused this House some disruption, but it wasn't out of order. I can't ask him to withdraw. If he would like to withdraw, he may withdraw, but there wasn't anything unparliamentary about it.

Mr Bradley: On a point of privilege, Speaker: Yesterday I thought that when the House leader gave an undertaking he said we were going to deal with this matter today. That's why everybody's prepared for this. At the House leaders' meeting I thought there was an agreement that we would deal with it today.

The Speaker: I've got to tell you, member for St Catharines, it's not up to me to start interpreting House leaders' agreements. I can't do it.


The Speaker: Can I ask the member for Oriole to take that box down, please. Thank you.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell):I ask the indulgence of the House.

Yesterday, the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) and the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley) raised a matter of privilege relating to advertisements sponsored by the government that address issues concerning Bill 160 and the recent province-wide work stoppage by teachers.

Both members asserted that the advertisements convey their messages in highly partisan terms, to the extent that the ad campaign amounts to an unfair and abusive use of public funds, funds that are not available to all sides in this House.

Because of the alleged advantage taken of this uneven distribution of opportunity, it was asserted by the members that their privileges had been breached.

The members for Cochrane South, Fort William, Scarborough-Agincourt and the government House leader also made submissions. I have carefully reviewed those comments and the materials that were provided to me.

I want to say that this point of privilege revolves around an issue that is not new to this chamber. Government advertising has increasingly been a source of concern and complaint for members ever since it has been embraced by governments of the day as a method of communicating with the general public. Indeed, the members who spoke to this point have all been members of governments that have themselves been subject to the very complaint that underlies this very point of privilege.

Privilege, as set out in our standing orders and in the parliamentary texts, is a very special thing. Its essence is that each of us has the right to be here, in this chamber; to speak to and vote on the issues of the day; to be free from intimidation or obstruction in doing our parliamentary work; for the assembly to be free from contempt, and to have those privileges protected.

As your Speaker, I must determine, if asked to do so, if any member's entitlement to these very extraordinary parliamentary benefits has been threatened, or if the proceedings of the Legislature have been reflected upon or presumed in a manner that amounts to a contempt of the House.

This is a very imposing duty, but it is also a very imposing test.

The test for a successful case of privilege must surely be: "How does the event or activity aggrieved of prevent either the member, or Parliament itself, from performing its functions? Or, does this activity call the assembly and its honour and integrity into disrepute?"

In the case at hand, does the ad campaign complained about impede any of us, as MPPs, in our functions? Does the campaign call the role of the Legislature into question, or criticize it, or anticipate it?

In my view it does none of these things. The ads may represent an aggressive challenge to opposing views put forward by others, but I do not believe they caused any of us to come here without the uncontested ability to continue the debate on this issue, nor can it be argued that the respect due to this House is diminished by the wording of the ads. Therefore I find that a prima facie case of privilege has not been made out.

Before concluding, I wish to make an observation.

On previous occasions, I have expressed concern about the nature, tone and propriety of advertisements or similar distributions made by this government. I continue to hold these reservations and strongly encourage this and any future government to consider the power and influence that you wield when you send these messages to the broad public.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I ask for the indulgence of the House to allow me to make a brief statement respecting the public galleries.

Members of the public have an opportunity to observe first hand the legislative process by attending the public galleries. This attendance though is contingent upon compliance with the rules as clearly outlined on the gallery passes. For example, one such rule states: "Demonstrations are not permitted in the building including the galleries. This includes the display of signs, banners, buttons or other activities." Another says, "Visitors must refrain from applause or making any interruption or disturbance." There is no ambiguity about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. The gallery is not a place for demonstrations or protest.

As stated in my earlier ruling, the essence of parliamentary privilege is that members must be free from intimidation or obstruction in doing our parliamentary work, and members have the right, and I want to emphasize that, to have these privileges protected, on both sides of the House. When the public in the galleries cause disruptions, they impede the progress of business in this House and in extreme cases offend the privileges of members. It is my role to protect those privileges and it falls to me to remedy these situations when they occur.

Public causing disruptions from the galleries will be asked to leave. In the case of an individual standing and yelling out, he or she is asked to leave and the gallery is cautioned. However, when it appears that such individual outbursts are part of a larger demonstration, I am sure members can appreciate that there is a limit to the number of cautions that can be reasonably given before the entire gallery must be cleared.

Demonstrations are certainly part of the democratic process of this province, and I have encouraged and accommodated these demonstrations outside the building, on the front lawn of this Legislature. I have done so. But inside this place, protest and demonstration are completely unacceptable. This chamber is a forum for considered debate, and the public gallery the place from which to observe that debate.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: We of course accept and respect your rulings, recognizing that they're based upon the rules of this House and the jurisdiction you have. Whether we agree with the content is another matter. We certainly respect your ruling in this regard. However, you have drawn to the attention of members of the House --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is this a point of privilege?

Mr Bradley: A point of privilege.

The Speaker: And it springs from?

Mr Bradley: It springs from the previous ruling.

The Speaker: Because I'm supposed to receive it in writing an hour before the House --

Mr Bradley: It's just a point of order, then.

The Speaker: Okay, a point of order.

Mr Bradley: If you want that, it'll be a point of order that I'm raising. I simply am looking at what you have said as Speaker; not pointing at any specific government, you have pointed out that there is a problem. But, Mr Speaker, I think even the most neutral persons, even some who agree with policies of this government, must recognize that in this last set of ads, of which I have the transcript, the government has crossed the line.

In my 20 years in this Legislature I have never seen ads of this nature. I believe this House must take action and I hope you will provide us with more guidance on how we can take action to put an end to these vitriolic attack ads against people who have paid for these ads themselves.

The Speaker: It's not up to the Speaker to suggest a mode for resolving this issue, if there is an issue to be resolved. Again, it's up to the House leaders in this House if they believe it needs to be addressed.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Speaker, I would like to raise a point in regard to the comments you've just made in response to my friend from St Catharines on your first ruling. I also have a matter to raise with regard to the second ruling, for clarification.

In regard to the first ruling on government advertising, you have clearly made your ruling but you've also expressed once again personal reservations and concern about the tone of government advertising and the use of taxpayers' money.

This is, as you've said, not the first time such an opinion has been expressed by the Speaker about advertising by the government. It would seem to me reasonable, and I hope all members of the House would agree, that this is a matter grave enough and serious enough that it should be considered by the House. I ask unanimous consent that the matter of government advertising of this sort, attack ads of this sort, be referred to the Legislative Assembly committee for consideration.

The Speaker: The member for Algoma is seeking unanimous consent to refer that matter to a committee of the House. Agreed? No. I heard a no.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, with regard to your ruling about the galleries and attendance in the galleries and the clear rules against demonstrations from the gallery, I want to ask for some clarification in relation to the exchange that took place here in the assembly yesterday in which you, after some considerable controversy, made it clear what your position was and cleared the galleries.

I am looking at Hansard of November 17, Speaker, and on page 13009 you stated: "I say to all members, if you've been here at any time, I allow for three times" -- that is, three interventions and warnings. "Once, I've warned them," and then referring to the immediate situation, " -- I did warn them after the second, that another time and I would clear the galleries. If you want to check Hansard, you can."

As a result of your direction, I did check Hansard. Further on you repeat, "Three times I warned them I'd clear the galleries." Then on page 13010 you again say, "And it was the third interruption." Then you repeat what your ruling is: "I've lived by the rule. I gave three warnings. I cleared the gallery. That's as simple as it gets."

You were referring to the decision to clear the galleries where you said previously: "This is the third one. Can you clear the galleries, please? Clear the galleries."

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Algoma --

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I would just like to refer to one other matter and then I will sit down.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Wildman: I have searched through the Hansard. The only other reference I can find is on page 13005, where you say: "Order. I caution the gallery that it's not in order to speak or applaud. Please don't do that." You did not warn them at that time there could be an ejection from the galleries, and in the intervening pages, from 13005 to 13009, there is no reference by you or anyone else.

The Speaker: I appreciate that. I've got to tell you that I know there were three interruptions from the gallery. If I didn't get on the record one of those times about cautioning the gallery, then I didn't get on the record. I did caution the gallery twice.

If Hansard didn't get the second time, I don't know what to say. I checked with the table clerks and others. I did caution them and it was three interruptions. Even at that point, if I made the mistake, and I'm not saying that I couldn't have -- I would apologize to the members of the House if I made a mistake.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): That won't bring them back.

The Speaker: Member for Lake Nipigon.

I think I've been fairly clear in this ruling. I'm not clearing the House just for any reason at all. I do take great pains to try and maintain decorum and order. I would say to the member for Algoma, in future I will try to keep track of the three warnings, but if it's complete bedlam I'm not going to give three warnings. Let me be clear: one warning, maybe none. It depends on the fluidity of this place.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: There are no more points of order on that. If you want a point of order on something else, that's fine. That ruling has been made. It's now gone and now you're at the point, I believe, of challenging whatever ruling has been made. Thank you.

Member for Dovercourt, you have a point of order on this.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Yes, I do, Speaker. I have a point of order to say that because I was involved in a bit of a confrontation, to use that phrase, with you on this yesterday, I hope you can appreciate that the reason, certainly in part, for that happening on my part was because we did not see from our perspective the kind of altercation developing that you have described and we did not see the warnings that you say you have given.

As my colleague from Algoma has just pointed out, Hansard itself does not reflect those warnings. I would just ask that you take that into consideration as you deal with what is obviously a difficult job of --

The Speaker: And do you know what, member for Dovercourt? I will do it as impartially and fairly as I possibly can, and I think on balance I am as impartial and fair a Speaker on rulings as you're going to get. Thank you.

I'm ready for oral questions unless yours is a point of --

M. Bisson : Un point d'ordre.

The Speaker: What? A point of order. I'm sorry, go ahead.

M. Bisson : Merci, Monsieur le Président. C'est en français. J'ai demandé un point d'ordre. Je demanderais le consentement unanime aujourd'hui faisant affaire avec l'anniversaire du passage de la Loi 8, pour un commentaire de la part de chacun des partis dans cet événement.

The Speaker: Unanimous consent? All agreed? No. I heard a no. It's time for oral questions.




Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the government House leader. Ontarians opposed to Bill 160 were pleased to see that yesterday Premier Harris indicated that there would be -- the headline said, "Free Vote for Tory MPPs" on Bill 160. Just so all of Ontario is aware of this decision, will the government House leader confirm that Premier Harris plans to allow a free vote in the Conservative caucus on Bill 160?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): As far as my knowledge goes on it, there has been no decision as to how members should conduct themselves with regard to that. In all of our votes, each member of the Legislature is entitled to vote one way or the other. In each particular situation, the caucus must decide, as a body, what the consequences of that might be. That has not been determined.

Mr Phillips: I'd just like to quote the Premier from yesterday. He's saying: "We're not ordering our caucus to vote against their conscience. Every member of our caucus is free to express an opinion or dissent." In other words, the Premier was saying yesterday that it is his intention to have a free vote. What Ontario wants to be assured of is that it will in fact be a free vote. They are aware in articles like this -- "The Harris Kremlin" -- that Mike Harris can apply his bully tactics behind closed doors if he wants to put the boots to caucus members who want to dissent.

On behalf of the people of Ontario, I want from the government House leader today an undertaking that it will be what Premier Harris promised yesterday, and that is a free vote for the members, and I want the assurance of the government House leader that there will be no threat of recriminations against those Conservative caucus members who choose to vote their conscience and vote against Bill 160.

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe I answered the same question in my initial response, that is, that our members are always free to vote whichever way they might want to. Any kind of recrimination in our parliamentary system is decided by any caucus with regard to the ability of a member to stay in that caucus or not stay in that caucus. In most cases, when a member decides to vote against a particular measure, they usually inform their caucus colleagues that they're going to do that, and the caucus accepts that.

Mr Phillips: I hope the public is listening carefully to this. Yesterday Mike Harris assured those who are strongly opposed to Bill 160 -- and believe me, there are hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who have a strong, desperate disagreement with you on this bill --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Clear that gallery.


The Speaker: This House stands recessed for 15 minutes.

The House recessed from 1426 to 1441.

The Speaker: Final supplementary, member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I think you can appreciate how angry people in this province are at Mike Harris. First he says this isn't about cutting $700 million out of education, then we found out that was a fabrication and he planned to cut $700 million. Then he said, "We're going to include principals and vice-principals in the federation, because that's in the best interests of education." Then when he gets mad, he cuts them out of that. He goes over to Europe and says what a fabulous education system we've got in Ontario, and then he comes back here and spends taxpayers' money attacking the teachers and saying what a crummy system we've got.

We found yesterday he said one thing: "Free Vote for Tory MPPs." Are you saying today that Mike Harris was simply fabricating that and you have no intention of giving the Tory members a free vote on Bill 160? Is that what you're saying?

Hon Mr Sterling: The member knows that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, as the Premier said, that our MPPs all have an opportunity to review the issues of Bill 160. I can tell you that the members of our Legislature are 100% behind Bill 160. They believe it is a bill that will improve the quality of education in this province.


The Speaker: Order.

Hon Mr Sterling: As I was saying, the members of our caucus are extremely supportive of Bill 160. They believe it is a huge improvement to our education system. Ever since Mike Harris became the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party on May 2, 1990, every vote of this caucus has been a free vote, and it will continue to be so.

The Speaker: New question, official opposition; member for Fort William.

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): I guess we're going to need a fairness-for-Tory-backbench-members law.

My question is for the Minister of Education. You were asked by the media today about your new amendments to Bill 160, the one that attacks principals and vice-principals. Specifically, you were asked whether under your amendment a principal could still teach. You said you didn't know. Well, you should know, because it's your amendment. For the record, under your amendment they can teach.

If you didn't know that, maybe you don't know what else you have done with your amendments. You are stripping away any rights that principals and vice-principals have. You are forcing principals and vice-principals to choose by April 1 whether they will return to the classroom or whether they will risk losing all those rights if they do not. You are effectively destroying our educational leadership. You are doing it because principals and vice-principals dared to oppose your agenda.

Minister, I ask you again today, will you withdraw this punitive, dangerous amendment?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): In terms of improving the education system, it's going to require everybody to be involved: the teachers and certainly the principals and vice-principals.

I look forward to working with the principals and vice-principals because they are in a leadership role in our communities and in our schools. I highly value that leadership role and the role that principals and vice-principals have played.

But the fact remains that the principals and vice-principals today are in a conflict situation. They are a member of the union on the one hand, where they have obligations to the other members of the union; on the other hand, they are in a key management position, in a position to have to do appraisals and do all the management responsibilities pertaining to the teachers under their jurisdiction. This is a terrible conflict situation. You don't find this in other jurisdictions of this nature, and it's one we intend to clarify.

Mrs McLeod: Your House leader has just suggested that your colleagues are 100% behind your Bill 160, but in fact your own colleagues believe that what you are doing here is wrong and is dangerous, and it's not just your backbench members, it's your cabinet colleagues, your health minister --

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: My duties here have been impugned by the opposition.


The Speaker: I've got to be able to hear the point of privilege.


Mr Preston: You can have one next door -- always yapping and never saying anything.

The Speaker: Although I'm in a point of privilege, I ask you to withdraw that comment, please.

Mr Preston: I'll withdraw it.

My point of privilege is that my actions have been impugned by the other side. There is nobody in here big enough to tell this old bull how to vote -- nobody.



The Speaker: Order. If you would take your seat, please. I think I got the drift of your point of privilege. It's not a point of privilege. It may be a point of information or you may want to bring it up in a question or a period of time in a speech, but I don't think it's a point of privilege.


Mr Preston: They're impugning my motives.


The Speaker: It's not a point of privilege. I've ruled.

Mrs McLeod: The member for Brant-Haldimand may be 100% behind Bill 160, but the health minister is not. Minister, your health minister, who is herself a former school board chair, someone who knows about education, somebody who cares about education, has said that one of her issues of real concern is your attack on principals and vice-principals. She said just last Friday that she hopes you would look at whatever opportunities there are for a compromise. Minister, compromise means sitting down and talking to the people who are affected by your law. You have talked to no one about any of this.

Will you suspend any further consideration of Bill 160 so that you can sit down and talk about the very real concerns that Elizabeth Witmer has about your bill?

Hon David Johnson: I'll assure the member opposite that I fully intend to sit down, and the staff of the Ministry of Education as well to sit down, and talk with the principals and vice-principals to establish their working conditions and their employment conditions, for example. Their employment conditions will be protected, as you know, up until September 1. They have the ability up until April to make their decision and the terms and conditions will be protected until September.

But we need to sit down with them, and there is a regulation to allow us to be of assistance in that regard, to ensure the principals and the vice-principals have the proper terms and conditions after that period of time so they can rightfully take the leadership role in the schools that they have exhibited in the past.

Mrs McLeod: You really don't understand what you're doing here, do you? You've made enemies of every teacher in this province and you think you're going to bring in education reform. You make a punitive, vindictive attack on principals and vice-principals who dare to challenge you, and then you say you will sit down and talk to them about their working conditions. You will have destroyed their ability to provide leadership in our schools long before September 1 comes.

Minister, you've got to understand the kind of concerns your own colleague has expressed, Elizabeth Witmer, your health minister, who says she vows to provide aid on Bill 160, that she will talk to you and try and convince you of the concerns of her constituents. The question is, will you listen? Will you act on them?

She is expressing the kinds of concerns that she's hearing from her constituents and that we're all hearing from parents and teachers and students, like the people who are up in this gallery today, people right across this province who believe your bill is wrong, your agenda is wrong, your cuts to education are wrong.

Are you so determined to force through your agenda, to force through your cuts, to force through Bill 160, despite all the concerns from everyone, including your own colleagues?

Hon David Johnson: We do get selective quotes from time to time in this House. Perhaps I should read what the article actually said. It said, "Elizabeth Witmer, Waterloo MPP and Ontario's health minister, says she supports the controversial education reform bill set to receive final reading next week." She supports the bill is what it says here precisely. "Witmer said all the steps being taken by the government, including standardized report cards, province-wide curriculum, will build on the strengths of the education system."


The Speaker: Minister?

Hon David Johnson: Clearly what the minister is saying is that the reforms we've already made, such as the report card, such as the curriculum changes, such as what's being built on here by Bill 160, are initiatives she supports. That's what this is all about. This is about a broad program to improve the quality in our education system through the report card, through Bill 160, through secondary school reform. I can tell you there is excellent support in this government for those improvements.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Minister of Education, and it concerns the broad program. Your government promised the funding formula for education by the end of October. The end of October is now well past and we have not seen the funding formula for schools. I think I know why. I've got a letter here that was sent to you two weeks ago. It's a confidential letter from a number of education finance officials, the people who look after education finances for school boards. This is what they say in their letter:

"We submit that adequate and appropriate funding models must be developed from the bottom up." But then they say, "The focus of recent studies" -- ie by your government -- "has been the allocation of reductions from the funding base using a top-down philosophy."

They don't think your funding formula is going to work. Why won't you show it to the public so they can decide how much you're cutting from education?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): The funding formula is being developed. As you can appreciate, the funding formula is a complicated formula involving boards of different size, boards as large as Metropolitan Toronto's, and authorities with one school. There is a need to look at the different situations that occur in all boards across Ontario to ensure the funding formula is fair and equitable. That's exactly what we're doing at the present time. I expect the funding formula will be released later this year.

Mr Hampton: Here we have a government trying to force through their education bill, trying to tell everybody that they know what's best, and these are education officials, finance people who work for boards of education, who are writing to the Minister of Education, and they're saying to him very clearly, "We submit that the top-down cuts approach that your government is using will not work and will not produce the desired outcome." These are education finance experts who work for boards of education. They're saying your whole strategy of trying to cut, trying to sit at the top and then trying to cut at the bottom, ie in the classrooms, will not work.

I put the question to you again: They believe your funding formula is all wrong. They believe your funding formula is all about cuts. Why won't you show your funding formula to the people of Ontario so they can decide for themselves how adequately you're going to fund education?

Interjection: Patience.

Hon David Johnson: Yes, patience is required. There has been a process of consultation. There has been a funding formula that has been put out for consideration. All of these factors are being taken into account. This is something that requires a great deal of care in terms of developing a formula that reflects all the realities that have been gathered through the consultation process, through the expert panel process, which has had a look at the funding formula. These are matters that are being dealt with in the Ministry of Education. Why would we put out a formula that's not ready? Why would we put out a formula that hasn't reflected all of those realities yet? I can assure you that when it's ready, when it's fair, when it's equitable, it will be released at the earliest opportunity.


Mr Hampton: Nowhere in this private and confidential letter does it say the funding formula is not ready. The point they make is that the funding formulas they've seen from your government are only going to accomplish cuts at the bottom, cuts that will be ordered from the top -- in other words, by you and your right-wing political know-it-alls over there -- and cuts that will affect children in the classroom. They don't talk anywhere about the funding formula not being ready; they talk about how inadequate it is, they talk about how inappropriate it is, they talk about how much damage it's going to do.

I put the question to you again, Minister. It's not a question of the funding formula not being ready -- they say it's ready. The problem is it won't work. The problem is it's all about cuts. When are you going to show the people of Ontario what you're really doing to education -- cutting it?

Hon David Johnson: The member of the third party will know that, as input into this model, there were several months of consultation, that there was an expert panel putting input into the process. The ministry has received that information. The ministry is assimilating that information. The model involves a basic foundation grant, pupil by pupil. It involves money in terms of an accommodation grant to recognize the facility needs. It involves special purpose grants involving language, geography; learning opportunities grant; adult education grant; special needs grant. It will focus the moneys to quality and into the classroom. These are the objectives of the new funding formula.

Once that funding formula has been determined, with the results of all the consultations and the expert panel, then it will be released, and that will be by the end of this year.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Again, to the Minister of Education, because the Minister of Education just keeps digging himself in deeper. I'll quote from the letter again so there's no mistake: "The focus of recent studies has been the allocation of reductions from the funding base using a top-down philosophy with little or no current expenditure data or related information." Then they go on to say that you cannot get an adequate funding formula unless you're prepared to look at the needs and you're prepared to state some principles.

The only thing we've heard from your government is that preparation time doesn't count, library doesn't count, guidance, psychologists, speech pathologists, custodians, maintenance workers, principals, vice-principals, busing and transportation and adult education don't count, and junior kindergarten is an option. Tell us, if all those things don't count according to your government, what does count in the funding base? What does count in our children's education?

Hon David Johnson: If the member is willing to listen, I'll tell him what does count. What does count in the formula is quality. What does count in the formula is directing the resources into the classroom. What does count is ensuring that special education, children at risk, are taken into account. What does count is that we recognize that across the province of Ontario there are different needs, different needs in different jurisdictions, in rural and urban areas. All these factors are being taken into account, and until the final formula is put out, then we have to wait, we have to be patient to see. The final formula will reflect all of those realities to ensure that it's as fair as possible to every board in Ontario.

Mr Hampton: I'm going to repeat this because the minister just doesn't seem to get it. They say that you need sound empirical data about what's happening in the classroom, together with a statement of fundamental, basic principles defining quality, needs and priorities. They say that is exactly what is lacking.

Despite your rhetoric, despite the fact that you come in here every day and smile, these are education finance experts. Many of them have spent 20 years working in education finance. They've advised successive governments on education finance. They say when they look at your funding formula, it's all about someone like you sitting at the top telling people at the bottom how much is going to be cut from classrooms, how much is going to be cut from junior kindergarten, how much is going to be cut from adult education, how much is going to be cut from special education.

We've got your road map. I just listed all the things that your government says don't count.

The Speaker: Question.

Mr Hampton: Minister, when are you going to listen to these officials who are trying to help you? When are you going to come clean with the public? Show us the funding formula.

Hon David Johnson: I'm more than happy to listen to those officials and to anybody else who has advice to offer me as we work out this process. With all the bluster that's taking place over here on the other side of the House, it's interesting to note that in the secondary and elementary system today, there are over $14 billion of expenditures, more than ever in the history of Ontario. More funds than ever are being directed into our elementary schools and high schools. Also, during the term of the NDP, the expenditure control plan, the social contract, $571 million was reduced from our schools in Ontario.

Mr Hampton: I want to quote from this letter again because these are, after all, people who have experience in the field. They've worked in education finance for some time. This is what they say. This is the last paragraph of their letter. They say: "We are deeply concerned. It is out of this concern that we offer our professional expertise."

That's how vitally concerned these people are.

Your government promised the funding formula last spring. Then you didn't produce it. Then you said that the funding formula would be available by the end of October. The end of October is well past.

They're saying in this letter that the funding formula they have seen from your government is totally inadequate, totally inappropriate. It's all about cuts, cuts imposed from the top on children who are in classrooms at the bottom. When are you going to come clean with the people of Ontario? Show us your funding formula. Show us what these people so urgently are writing to you about. Show the people what you're trying to hide from them.

Hon David Johnson: For the fourth or fifth time I will say that we are working on this formula. Once the formula is fair and equitable across the province of Ontario, it will be released. Up until that point, it's all speculation.

There have been months of consultation. There has been an expert panel. All that's been helpful. Any other suggestions that this group may have will be helpful. The stable funding for the school boards is protected until September of next year. Over the next couple of months this formula will be considered with all of the input we've had and then we will show the formula when the formula is ready. It will be out there in plenty of time for the school boards to understand it and to be able to plan for the 1998-99 school year.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is to the Minister of Education. Last weekend your government launched what can only be characterized as the most vitriolic and vicious attack on a group of people in our province that I have witnessed by a government in some 20 years. That attack was paid for by all taxpayers in Ontario, including the people that your government is attacking. In these ads that are paid for by all the taxpayers of this province, and not by the Conservative Party, the Harris government tried to place teachers, the front-line deliverers of education services in this province, in the most unfavourable light and made accusations which are completely without any basis in fact. Minister, are you now prepared to withdraw these ads, to sit down with the people who are delivering education services on the front line and abandon this vitriolic, vicious campaign which reminds us of the worst aspects of American politics?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): First of all, I want to say that this government values very highly the role of the teachers and the value they add to our education system. What this program --


Hon Mr Johnson: I think we have to understand the difference between the teachers and the unions. This government values very highly the role of the teachers. This government has never attacked the teachers.

The ads point out that class sizes, unfortunately, have increased as a result of negotiations. That's a fact. That happened in the case of Waterloo county, for example. It's a fact that high school teachers, for example, because of the arrangements that have been negotiated there, spend three hours and 45 minutes in the classroom. These are matters that really need to be brought to the attention of the general public, and the government has an obligation, through communications, to convey that sort of information.

Mr Bradley: An article in the Southam News services states the following: "Education Minister Dave Johnson, who has been the government's prominent public face during the strike affecting 2.1 million students, is receiving many of his marching orders from the so-called whiz kids in the Premier's office, Southam News has learned."

Minister, I don't happen to believe, knowing you as I have for as many years as I have, that you really support this kind of vicious attack on one segment of our society, using the taxpayers of Ontario to pay for this attack. When are you going to insist with the Premier that you and other elected members of the government caucus override that group of right-wing, vitriolic, ideological whiz kids who run this government now, and why don't you take charge and ensure that we don't see this kind of attack on people in our society by a government paid for by all taxpayers in this province?

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite is basing his question on a lot of assumptions. I can tell you that the Ministry of Education is committed to reform in the education system. The Ministry of Education is committed to communicating with the people of Ontario the kind of reforms that are taking place. The Ministry of Education needs to communicate with the people of Ontario the kind of roadblocks that are being faced at the present time.

This is a matter that's of interest not only obviously to the teachers and the members of this House; this is a matter that is of interest to all the people of Ontario. They have a stake in this, and we need to communicate effectively to everyone.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): The Minister of Education and Training, in his response earlier, said that we should distinguish between the unions and the teachers. We have two representatives here today: One is the distinguished leader of OSSTF, Mr Earl Manners, and in the gallery up here we have Mr Dwyer Sullivan, who is a representative, a grass-roots teacher who occupied the minister's office. That's the kind of people we have here today, and there's no distinction between the --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Sit down, please.

Mr Wildman: My question is with regard --


The Speaker: Order. Question?

Mr Wildman: A question to the Minister of Education and Training in regard to the leaked 1997-98 performance contract for Veronica Lacey, the deputy minister.

The Speaker: You only have 10 seconds left to ask the question.

Mr Wildman: The contract says that the government intends to withdraw --


The Speaker: I think I understand the humour of it, but the length of time just widens, so it kind of defeats the purpose.

Mr Wildman: Will the minister commit today that despite what it says in this contract, there will be no cuts to apprenticeship funding in Ontario?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I will commit, in terms of apprenticeship funding, in terms of any component of the education budget, that I will ensure that the money is there to have the quality program that our students need in Ontario. If that's more money than we spend today, then so be it; if it's less money than we spend today, so be it.

Mr Wildman: In the performance contract it says that Ms Lacey is responsible for taking $10 million out of apprenticeship, which combined with the federal cuts works out to a 40% cut.

We also have another document that was leaked some time ago, a confidential document, "New Directions for Ontario's Apprenticeship System," and it sets out the specific plans for cuts by your ministry in apprenticeship. You want to eliminate any protections in minimum age and minimum wage for apprentices and you want to make apprentices pay tuition.

The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council passed an emergency resolution saying your plans would have "disastrous effects on apprenticeship programs."

Minister, will you promise the youth of Ontario that you won't make the same mistakes with their future that your government has made with its massive cuts to classroom education? Will you commit to protect apprenticeship training programs and to increase, not cut, the funding for apprenticeship in this province?

Hon David Johnson: If there's one thing I've heard over the years in terms of the education system, it's that the apprenticeship program has not served the people of Ontario well; the young people or people frankly at any stage of life.

What I will promise the member opposite is that we will have an apprenticeship system in the province that's more streamlined, more flexible and modernized, that serves the needs of our young people and those people who need the apprenticeship program in Ontario. We are going through that sort of reform today. It's being investigated and reviewed. I can promise you that there will be a better system to serve the future of our province.



Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): My question is for the Minister of the Environment. As you know, I come from a heavy industrial community. Last week there was a report released by the Commission for Environmental Co-operation. It was addressing the issue of smog and air pollution problems that exist not only in my riding but affect the rest of Ontario as well. I would ask you if you could tell us some of the details the report addressed.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I know the member for Sarnia is very concerned about air quality issues, as he lives on a border of the United States and as a result of that his citizens receive many of their air quality problems from across our provincial and international boundaries.

Last week the Commission for Environmental Co-operation, an organization which includes Canada, Mexico and the United States, released a report which confirms what this province has been saying for some period of time, and that is with regard to transborder air pollution. The report shows that the air-borne pollutants from the American Midwest and Ohio River Valley are significant contributors to air quality problems here in our province.

Among their findings is included that smog is a summertime problem primarily; that air masses are moving across our borders significantly; that transboundary air flows include several pollutants; and that it's not a localized problem.

We are working on this problem.

Mr Boushy: Minister, I can appreciate all the work put into the report by the CEC that confirms people's suspicions about the origins of our air pollution. What is this government doing to combat air pollution and improve air quality in Ontario?

Hon Mr Sterling: I think it's important that this province show leadership with regard to taking measures to improve our air quality so we can go across to our neighbours and say: "We've done something. We want you to do more as well."

One of those significant campaigns we have put forward and one of the significant steps we have taken is our Drive Clean program, which is going to reduce smog from cars, trucks and buses in urban centres of southern Ontario. This is a very ambitious, huge program that's going to affect some 4.7 million cars and vehicles in this province in the very near future.

We have also made a significant number of other air quality improvements to this province.

This government will continue to take an aggressive stance to fight air pollution in this province, but we know that part of the problem comes from across the United States. We will continue to encourage those governments and the Canadian government to take a strong stance with regard to this matter.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Education. Whether you like it or not, the agents of change for your revolutionary reforms to education are going to be the 126,000 teachers that you and your government have vilified, degraded, beat up and bullied over the course of the last two and a half years but especially over the course of the last month.

Your response to the member for St Catharines only reinforces what the people of Ontario think: You dislike, you degrade, you disrespect and you don't trust the teachers of Ontario. That's what you're telling the people of Ontario as they listen to your ads.

Minister, how do you propose to get these agents of change, my fellow teachers, to institute these changes when you and your government have such a negative view of them?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I want to reiterate what I said here previously, a couple of things: One is that there is no question we need the teachers, the principals, the vice-principals, the directors, the boards, everybody involved in the education system; and second, I have nothing but the highest respect for the teachers, the principals, everyone involved with the education system.

The reality is that there needs to be reform in the education system. Asking for reform in the education system doesn't cast any aspersions on those who are involved in the system itself today. The teachers are performing as well as they can. They are performing admirably under a system that needs to be reformed, and that's what the education system reform is all about.

I am more than happy to sit down and will be seeking avenues to sit down. For example, early childhood education is an issue where we need to sit down, we need to explore. We need reinvestments. There'll be any number of opportunities, for the curriculum review, to sit down with the teachers. I'm looking forward to doing that.

Mr Bartolucci: Minister, get real for a second. When you say that teachers are wasting money in education, you're sending out a negative message. When you're telling the people of Ontario that teachers are lowering standards and are accepting lower standards, you are sending out a negative message. When you are telling the people of Ontario that teachers want larger class sizes, that they want higher taxes, that they want less instructional time, you're sending out negative messages about the teachers of Ontario. Minister, will you commit today to putting on an advertising campaign that enhances in a positive way what the teachers of Ontario are all about? Will you commit to that today?

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite should get his facts straight in the sense that through union negotiations, class sizes have gone up; through union negotiations, we've had various restrictions on the instructional time and we've had higher property taxes.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): -- that the teachers want larger class sizes? Get a life.

The Speaker: You know what? I'm not arguing with you. It may be and it may not, but you're out of order. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: The reality is, within the system our teachers have been performing admirably. They need to be supported. I want to work with them. I want to work with them on curriculum reform. I want to work with them on many other topics. As I mentioned earlier, early childhood education, for example, is a topic. We need to get together, work together. I anticipate doing that and I'll be making initiatives in that regard.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : Ma question est au ministre d'Éducation. Vous dites que le but de la Loi 160 est supposément de donner aux parents de la province un peu plus d'appui et un peu plus de pouvoir quand ça vient au système d'éducation. J'ai ici une lettre signée par Lynne Dénommé, qui est membre du conseil des parents de l'école Saint-Gérard, datée le 13 novembre, au directeur de cette école. Je vais vous lire une partie et ça dit :

"Suite à une consultation auprès des membres, c'est avec regret que nous vous informons qu'il nous est impossible de continuer à siéger au conseil d'école suite à la législation, éventuellement la Loi 160, imposée par votre gouvernement provincial."

Si vous avez perdu la confiance des parents, comment êtes-vous capable d'aller en avant avec cette loi ?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Am I saying here today that there aren't some board members or some members of our community that are in opposition to Bill 160? Obviously not. Obviously there are people who do not support Bill 160. But the reality is that through Bill 160, through the establishment of school councils, parents will have more input into the system, parents will have more authority within the system. That, I believe, will improve the accountability of our system and will improve the quality of our education system. I think you'll find that in terms of parents and the education system, they can look forward to improvement as a result of Bill 160.

M. Bisson : Monsieur le Ministre, vous avez perdu la confiance des étudiants, vous avez perdu la confiance des parents, vous avez perdu la confiance des enseignants et vous avez perdu la confiance du public en général, où 60 % du public disent que vous allez dans la méchante direction avec la Loi 160. Combien de personnes dans la province de l'Ontario ont besoin de s'opposer à vous avant que vous n'écoutiez la population, le monde que vous êtes supposé de représenter ? De combien de personnes a-t-on besoin ?

Hon David Johnson: I have every confidence that the people of Ontario want to see reform in the education system. They want to see a higher level of quality. They want to see greater efficiencies within the education system. They want to be assured that average class sizes will not go up. That's exactly what Bill 160 does. They want to see that our students have the same number of instructional days as students in other provinces. That's exactly what Bill 160 does. They want to see that our students have qualified people to assist in complementing teachers within the system. That's exactly what Bill 160 does. They want to see parents having a role through councils within their own schools. That's exactly what Bill 160 does.

I believe that when the facts are known, when people see precisely what is in Bill 160, they will say: "Right on. That's the kind of reform we've needed for years in the province of Ontario."



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

Interjection: Welcome back.

The Speaker: Welcome back.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Thank you, Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. I was pleased to hear that you recently launched the government's $30-million rural job strategy fund. This is further proof of our government's commitment to creating a climate for private sector job growth and investment not only in rural Ontario but also in my riding of Norfolk. Minister, can you assure the House that we aren't merely throwing money around like previous governments?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I can assure my colleague that we are not going to throw around money the way other governments have.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): This is embarrassing.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It should be embarrassing to the Liberals, yes. To the member for Kingston and The Islands, it should be embarrassing to you; you're absolutely right.

The rural job strategy fund is a long-term economic development to benefit rural Ontario. Over the past 10 years, rural Ontario has been to some degree forgotten by previous governments. This government is investing $30 million to create that climate. This past July the parliamentary assistant the member for Bruce travelled the province to listen to rural people, farmers, entrepreneurs, and they told us what they wanted in rural job creation.

Mr Barrett: Rural job creation is the key. As someone who grew up in the country, I can assure you that one problem we all identify with is the lack of opportunity for people in rural areas. Many of our high school and university graduates wish to work in the area and they can't. This program is very promising and will give our graduates the option to return home. Can you inform members of the House what else the rural job strategy initiative will achieve?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The fund is designed to encourage investment in rural Ontario. It was based on input, a lot of information that we received, to obtain economic growth and job creation throughout all of rural Ontario. We're looking for permanent jobs. We're looking for partnerships where the investors will be providing the initial money. The government will indeed be supporting that with an equal amount. So it's not a situation where the government is leading; it's a situation where our entrepreneurs in rural Ontario will be leading by forming partnerships in order to provide those very, very needed jobs in rural Ontario.

We are losing some of our good young students from rural Ontario. They're coming into the urban parts of this province to find employment. This is oriented towards keeping our good young people where they were born, where they were raised, where they were educated, in rural Ontario, so the brain drain doesn't go to our urban areas.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. You and your government have claimed that you want to take control over class size because you are concerned about increasing class size. You clearly want people to believe that you are going to be lowering class size. Through the amendments that were passed last night in committee, your amendments, you are about to enshrine in law the status quo for class size. Parents in this province know that the status quo means that their students very often are in classes of 36, 38, 40. Can you assure parents across this province that their students will no longer be in classes of 38 or 40?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I know parents are very concerned about that, and I share their concern. We have taken the first step towards tackling this situation, because over recent years, dating back to 1992, I guess, at the elementary level, the average class size has been going up and up every year. We have examples recently of union contracts which have actually increased the class size. This will stop the growth of the class size. That's the first step. It's an excellent first step. It will actually mean that in some boards the class size will have to come down to this level, so in some boards it will come down.

It's certainly the long-term objective of this government that not only should we stop the growth of the class size, which this bill does, but indeed that the class sizes come down.

Mrs McLeod: You have absolutely no idea how your law is going to work or how it's going to affect class size at all. You have put the status quo into law -- average class sizes. It doesn't mean there aren't going to be classes of 38 or 40. The reason we have classes of 38 and 40 now is that boards are struggling to keep class sizes in the lower grades and special education classes smaller. The only reason they can even hold class sizes to that level now is because they have had to gut special education classes and cancel junior kindergarten classes.

You are going to make things worse by taking $700 million more out of education. There is no way there will be smaller class sizes when you take $700 million out of education. Tell me, Minister, how can you have lower class sizes and take $700 million more out of the education system.

Hon David Johnson: I have indicated clearly on several occasions that what will be spent on education on a year-by-year basis will be determined through the estimates process to ensure quality education. This step, which is reviewed every three years -- so this will be reviewed after three years -- halts the growth of the average class size within Ontario.

I share the concern of parents who have students in classrooms with 30, 35 or more. This shouldn't be happening. The class sizes should not be growing in Ontario. We have taken the first step to halt it. It will be reviewed after three years. There will be a fair funding model out to ensure that boards have moneys to implement those class sizes, and those boards which have average class sizes beyond those stated in the bill will have to bring those class sizes down to the average.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to ask for unanimous consent to allow all-party statements, November being Wife Assault Prevention Month.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Riverdale is seeking unanimous consent for a statement on November being Wife Assault Prevention Month. Agreed? I heard a no.




Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of my constituents in Renfrew county and the southern part of the district of Nipissing, which petition reads:

"Whereas the Renfrew County District Health Council and its hospital steering committee has recommended a 100% reduction in the number of chronic care beds at St Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry's Bay; and

"Whereas St Francis Memorial Hospital's catchment area includes communities in Nipissing district and Hastings county; and

"Whereas the Renfrew County District Health Council did not allow for meaningful consultation and public input into their decision; and

"Whereas the long-term care facility and community-based programs are already stretched to capacity; and

"Whereas the unique geography of our communities in west Renfrew and south Nipissing must be taken into consideration in determining equitable access to quality health care services; and

"Whereas it has been determined by public groups, including the Ontario Hospital Association, that the scope and speed of restructuring health care in Ontario is putting patients at jeopardy;

"We, the undersigned citizens of communities served by St Francis Memorial Hospital, do hereby petition the Renfrew County District Health Council and its steering committee to withdraw its recommendation to eliminate the hospital's chronic care beds and to commit to genuine public consultation with regard to any changes in the delivery of health care service to this area."

I proudly sign my name to this petition and support it on behalf of my constituents, ably represented here today by Reeve Ethel LaValley and some of the nurses from St Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry's Bay.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The chair recognizes the member for Riverdale.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): For the record, the minister responsible for women's issues was the one who said no to making statements on Wife Assault Prevention Month.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have thousands and thousands of names on a petition on Bill 160. It reads:

"To Premier Mike Harris, Minister Dave Johnson, and members of the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Harris government is proposing detrimental changes to education services in Ontario;

"Whereas inclusive and open consultation on education has not taken place;

"Whereas students and teachers will not allow the government to cut funds for education to fund tax cuts;

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

"Therefore, we the undersigned, petition the Ontario Legislature as follows:

"That the government of Ontario reconsider its direction on education policy and that they halt any further changes to the education system until a thorough and inclusive review has taken place, and withdraw and review Bill 160."

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): I received these petitions Sunday from tobacco farmers and business people concerned about freedom of choice.

"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario the following:

"Whereas freedom of choice regarding tobacco smoking in a privately owned business as previously allowed is being unfairly curtailed by the strict and unnecessary enforcement of the regulatory tobacco act as passed by the previous provincial government in the counties of Brant, Elgin, Oxford and the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, request the province of Ontario to amend or revise the regulatory tobacco act in the following ways:

"That within the tobacco-producing counties of Brant, Elgin, Oxford and the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant the policing of the regulated no-smoking protocol be left up to the municipalities to enforce as they see fit; and

"That this also apply to any municipality, county or riding within Ontario where tobacco production or processing is an economic factor;

"That privately owned businesses that produce or process tobacco and/or whose business services or supplies the tobacco industry and reside within the designated regions be exempt from the posting of the regulated no-smoking signs and be allowed proprietary discretion on tobacco use within their establishments;

"That the use of legal tobacco products as used by adults be allowed in businesses that produce or process tobacco and/or whose business services or supplies the tobacco industry within the designated regions without the fear of penalty or fines to their clients or staff."

I hereby affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): This petition was given to me by a group that wanted me to wear the green ribbon today, but as you know, the Speaker's ruling yesterday would not allow me to do that. The petition reads:

To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas education is our future; and

"Whereas students, parents 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, support our MPP, Frank Miclash, in his efforts to withdraw Bill 160 immediately."

I've attached my name to that petition as well.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario signed by no fewer than 700 people in the great riding of Lake Nipigon. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province and we have lost confidence in this government;

"We, the undersigned electorate of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith."

I too believe that they should resign, put Bill 160 for public education to the test and call an election.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Before I proceed, would you please put that box on the floor.

Further petitions?

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition that's been forwarded to me by approximately 204 constituents in my riding. In accordance with the standing orders, I'll summarize the petition by saying that it is in opposition to Bill 160 and I'll file it today.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): This petition is similar to the large one that I presented to the minister yesterday.

To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas education builds the future for our children and society; and

"Whereas parents, students, educators and taxpayers will not allow their futures to be sacrificed for tax cuts; and

"Whereas parents, students, educators and taxpayers recognize that Bill 160 is about power and money, not quality education; and

"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards and bankrupting Ontario's education system; and

"Whereas students, parents and educators want a funding model that quantifies a reinvestment in education rather than a reduction in funding; and

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

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has trampled democracy with Bill 160 and has refused to even listen to the citizens it serves;

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

I affix my signature to this.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have hundreds of letters and faxes and petitions that have been presented to me by Mary Walford and Joanne Kenny, concerned parents who have led the charge to generate these pieces of correspondence. I present them to the Legislature. They're addressed to the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker and area Tory MPPs. A sample of the letters reads as follows.

This one happens to be addressed to the Lieutenant Governor:

"I would really appreciate if you would support our efforts to help the government hear the voices of the people of Ontario prior to the passing of Bill 160. As the Lieutenant Governor, you have the power to allow our voices to be heard by slowing down the passing of Bill 160.

"There are three pieces to this puzzle. We are the largest piece, the missing piece that fits.

"The Ministry of Education and Training and the Ontario Teachers' Federation have stated all along that they have the best interests of our children in mind. Who better than the parents of Ontario to ensure that the children are the focus of the education system? We are talking about our children, their future. It is the right of every child in Ontario to have access to quality education, regardless of their socioeconomic place in our society and their diverse ethnic cultural backgrounds. The schools, students and their families and the communities must have a voice within the Ministry of Education and Training.

"I thank you for giving me the opportunity to voice my concerns regarding Bill 160."

It is with great honour that I add my name to those of these Ontario citizens.



Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): I have a petition signed by some 900 residents in Oxford. It's 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."


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is a petition against Bill 160 on behalf of the people of Windsor.

"Bill 160 does nothing to improve or guarantee quality in Ontario education. It is an unnecessary and vaguely worded piece of legislation. This government has no business controlling issues that are best decided locally.

"Bill 160 is not just about teachers' prep time and class size; it's about giving the government absolute control over education, including the ability to change anything in education without debate. There is no guarantee that centralized control over education by the government will allow our schools to keep programs such as special education and extended arts. There will be no democratic process to follow if we are unhappy with decisions made.

"We, the undersigned, being taxpayers, parents and concerned community members, believe that there are other ways of controlling costs in education without the government distributing our education tax as they see fit. We must be consulted. We want Bill 160 scrapped or amended so that control over education matters stays in the local communities with the people who know best what our students need. We want to continue to have the ability to exercise our democratic rights."

I affix my signature to this petition.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I wear this green tie today in support of the green ribbon campaign and join with the many parents who continue to write to us and send petitions such as this one against Bill 160. This one reads:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to overtly deceive the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province, and we have lost confidence in the government;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith."

I've affixed my signature in support of this petition.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas Canadian and Allied veterans are recognized the world over for the effort they gave in fighting to preserve our free and democratic way of life; and

"Whereas the people of Ontario are forever grateful to the many dedicated men and women who bravely and unselfishly risked their lives for Canada; and

"Whereas too many Canadian children are unaware of the extraordinary courage and profound sacrifice Canada's veterans displayed in securing the safe and prosperous country we live in; and

"Whereas dedicating Highway 416 in memory of Canada's veterans would be an appropriate gesture of respect, reminding everyone of the contribution veterans have made to our society in preserving an important part of Canada's history;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to name Highway 416 the Veterans' Memorial Parkway."

I have affixed my own signature thereto, and I know the members for Lanark-Renfrew and Norfolk will want to join me.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I am proud to present petitions that have been signed by literally thousands of my constituents.

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to overtly deceive the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province, and we have lost confidence in the government;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith."

I am proud to affix my signature to these petitions.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition signed by hundreds of parents and teachers representing the Burkholder middle school in Hamilton. That's grades 6, 7 and 8. The students are aged 11, 12 and 13, including Stephanie MacKay, who played a role in providing this to my office. Their teacher is Rosemary Almas and the principal is Mr Forbeck. I thank them for their efforts. The petition reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Premier Mike Harris and the Minister of Education" -- then the Honourable John Snobelen -- "to withdraw the legislation to lengthen the school year and school day; and

"Whereas the Minister of Education has introduced the lengthening of the school year and it would be harmful to our teachers who take courses during the summer to make themselves better teachers; and

"Whereas through this legislation the summer vacation will be shortened, which will not allow some students to seek summer employment and holidays with members of their extended families; and

"Whereas students will be forced to concentrate on work through 30 degrees Celsius weather; and

"Whereas the majority of the schools in our city are not equipped with air-conditioning and many students will end up with heat stroke, asthma attacks, allergies and many other illnesses; and

"Whereas with the longer days there will still be homework assigned and those students involved in extracurricular activities will be penalized by having a lot less time to do homework; and

"Whereas the economy will suffer because there will be no kids to go to camps and tourist attractions;

"Therefore we, the teachers, students and parents of the province of Ontario, demand that the government and the Minister of Education withdraw this legislation."

I agree with them and support their petition.



Mr Leach moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 96, An Act to Consolidate and Revise the Law with respect to Residential Tenancies / Projet de loi 96, Loi codifiant et révisant le droit de la location à usage d'habitation.

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I would first like to point out that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kitchener and also the member for Hamilton West.

Today I am moving third reading of the Tenant Protection Act. This is a bill designed to improve the climate surrounding Ontario's rental housing industry; a bill that protects tenants while encouraging landlords and developers to do more to maintain and build rental units; a bill that streamlines the system.

Bill 96 will do these things. It will do them while keeping tenants safe from unfair rent hikes and arbitrary evictions, and it will do them by establishing a new user-friendly Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to resolve landlord-tenant issues faster and more efficiently.

This legislation is the final product of a long, careful process that the government began back in June 1996 when we released a discussion paper suggesting a new direction for tenant protection legislation.

Ontario has had rent control since 1975, and there's no doubt that the initial intentions were very good, but since then each party has brought in legislation designed to improve the system but in reality has simply succeeded in making it too complex and too unworkable. While it keeps rents under control, it fails in many, many other ways; maintenance, for example.

Estimates of repairs needed to Ontario's rental housing stock run as high as $10 billion. Landlords are so restricted by government regulation they do as little maintenance as possible because they can't recover their costs, and tenants suffer. Broken locks go unfixed; elevators can go unrepaired; pipes leak; tenants have to live in increasingly rundown buildings. This is under the current system.

Then there is new supply. Under the current regulations, development will not build new apartments because it's a very poor business investment. This means tenants have access to a limited supply of old buildings that are only getting older and have little choice of where to live.

We needed to change that system. That need was confirmed in private studies such as the Lampert report conducted in 1995. It was also confirmed in meetings with landlords and tenants and when our discussion paper was the topic of hearings held in nine cities across Ontario.

We studied what the experts had to say. We talked with landlords, we talked with tenants and all other interested groups. We listened carefully to what the committee heard. All of those details were considered during the drafting of the legislation we introduced last fall.

Bill 96 received second reading in May, and this past summer there was another round of committee hearings around Ontario, and again we listened carefully before announcing any amendments.


So you can see that the legislation now in front of the House is a product of a great deal of input from a great many people. We believe we have learned what will work and we have learned what won't work. We believe that we have put before us a bill that is fair, that is well balanced, one that works better for tenants, one that works better for landlords and works better for the Ontario taxpayer.

When writing the legislation, one of our primary concerns was ensuring that tenants would be protected from unfair rent increases. Tenants will still be protected by the rent control guideline exactly as it stands now in the current legislation, which has been set at 3% for 1998.

What has changed is that under the proposed new Tenant Protection Act, when an apartment becomes empty, rent controls come off and the landlord would be free to negotiate a new rent with a new tenant. When the new tenant moves in, rent controls would go back on and the new tenant would have all the protections that all other tenants enjoy. In essence, we would be moving from a system that protects the apartment to a system that protects the person.

I would like to state here that there's absolutely no evidence anywhere to support claims that rents would skyrocket under this new system. As a matter of fact, right now about 50% of the rental units in Ontario are rented below what the landlord could legally charge. This means that already many rents are determined by what the market can bear, not what rent control determines. Remember that landlords are in business; they compete with other landlords for tenants. They would have to have well-maintained buildings and a competitive price or their units would stay empty, and they certainly don't want that.

We believe that this fundamental change strikes a balance. It protects tenants while addressing the legitimate need of landlords to gain a reasonable return on their investment. It gives landlords more freedom to maintain their buildings. That also benefits tenants. It should help create a better climate for investment in the construction of rental buildings, again benefiting the tenant.

The balance we were seeking in the new Tenant Protection Act is also illustrated by the package of amendments we introduced following this summer's committee hearings. Many were technical amendments, and I'm not going to go into those, but let me touch on a few that once again show the balance we have striven for in this bill.

Tenants asked for automatic rent reductions when municipal taxes were reduced. That has been agreed to. Now if a landlord benefits from a tax decrease, the tenants will benefit as well.

Tenants asked for mandatory rent receipts. Under the proposed Tenant Protection Act, they'll get them. We believe it's a necessary step towards avoiding future disputes between landlords and tenants. It also means extra protection for people who pay their rent in cash; that's the particularly vulnerable low-income tenant who lacks the financial means or the credit identification to maintain a bank account.

Landlords sought, and got, both a fast-track eviction process and the ability to pass through new charges for security services. But while the landlords asked for these changes, tenants also benefit from those changes. They too want their homes to be safe and secure, and they too stand to gain from a system that will see dangerous neighbours leave sooner rather than later.

The fast-track eviction process will only apply where there are safety issues. Let me give you a real, true-life example. A man we're going to call Joe was a resident of a group home operated by a church organization for recovering alcoholics. Despite repeated warnings, Joe continued to drink alcohol on the premises. Things took an ugly turn one evening. Joe went into a drunken rage, threatening the other tenants and attacking one of them viciously. This incident traumatized the other residents in the home, many of whom were just in the process of putting their lives back together. The operator was forced to move other tenants out of the facility while the lengthy, extremely lengthy, eviction process moved along.

In this case, vulnerable tenants were victimized twice. First they had to endure Joe's erratic behaviour; and second, they were forced to relocate because of this one tenant's actions.

There have been many other situations where tenants have used their apartments as crack houses or have set fires in rental buildings. There have been incidents where tenants in apartments have been abusive and violent against other tenants or small landlords and destructive to property. These incidents don't happen every day, but when they do, faster evictions are needed to protect both the landlord's property and the other residents in the building.

Within this process, I should emphasize that tenants will still have due process. The time frames for giving eviction notices may have been shortened, but the hearing processes will still be held just as they are now. Under the Tenant Protection Act, those hearings will be conducted by the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, the quasi-judicial agency that will be at the heart of the government's simpler, faster and fairer approach to resolving landlord-tenant issues. This less formal approach will lift the burden currently placed on Ontario's crowded courts and offer Ontario's tenants and landlords a one-window opportunity to resolve problems.

At the present time, there are no clear guidelines and legislation, and that has caused much confusion. For example, 80% of rental buildings contain four units or less, and many mom-and-pop landlords certainly need payments to meet their own mortgage commitments. The new Tenant Protection Act would clarify for both landlords and tenants what information would be acceptable for the landlord to ask. What I'm referring to here is the right for landlords to request income information from prospective tenants. This is a business, as I've said, and in any business, whether it's a bank or a landlord, they have a right to ensure that a new tenant has the ability to pay the rent.

Finally, in the event that this legislation is passed, it would be our intention to wait several months after third reading to proclaim the Tenant Protection Act. Those months would be well spent. It would be our intention to spend that time appointing a chair and other members to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal. We would select the best decision-makers possible, based on skills and experience, and we would staff and fully equip the tribunal.

We would also use that time, again subject to the passage of the legislation, for public education efforts required to inform landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations under the act and how to use the new tribunal. We want to make sure we get it right for tenants; we want to make sure we get it right for the landlords of this province.

I'll close my remarks by thanking the many individuals who invested time and energy in the process that brought us to this point. I would like one final time to reiterate our four main goals. In proposing this new tenant protection legislation we wanted (1) to protect tenants from unfair rent increases and arbitrary evictions; (2) to improve maintenance and get tough on landlords who fail to take care of their buildings; (3) to create a climate where people will invest in new rental housing -- this in turn would give tenants more and better choices of where to live; and (4) to streamline administration and cut red tape to create a faster, fairer, less costly system of rent control.

As you are well aware, this law will combine six existing pieces of legislation and will substantially amend two other statutes. We believe this proposed Tenant Protection Act achieves all of those goals. We believe we have put forward legislation that will truly benefit the tenant, the property owner and the Ontario taxpayer.


The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate? He's not sharing his time?

Hon Mr Leach: Yes, Chair, I did.

The Deputy Speaker: I wasn't in the chair, so can I clarify again, please.

Hon Mr Leach: I announced that I would be sharing my time with the member for Kitchener and the member for Hamilton West.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Speaker, on a point of order: There's no quorum in the House and there should be, because people should hear this member speak.

The Deputy Speaker: Could you check and see if there is a quorum.

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

The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Kitchener.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): I'm pleased to participate in the debate on Bill 96, the Tenant Protection Act, and I speak in favour of it. We toured around the province in public hearings this summer for a couple of weeks, and of course a year ago this past summer we also toured around the province for two weeks leading up to the introduction of this bill. We asked for a number of suggestions from tenants' advocates, we received a number and we have made amendments.

Tenants' advocates have suggested imposing absolute ultrastrict rent controls that will ensure property owners can't get a dime; and vice versa, the landlords' groups that we heard from suggested that we get rid of rent controls entirely. What we tried to do was to reach a happy medium. In discussing with tenants' groups since the introduction of this bill, since the public hearings -- I have met with a couple different groups back home in my riding in Kitchener, and my executive assistant has represented me as well at meetings -- I think what we have done is succeeded in reaching that happy medium. The tenants' groups, after we explain to them what we have attempted to do, agree. They have some reservations, they have some concerns, and that's okay.

What we have tried to do is take into consideration the viewpoints of the many diverse groups. The delegations that we heard from included tenants' associations, landlords' associations, seniors' groups, churches, legal clinics, development companies, students' groups, various types of construction and development companies, municipalities, social planning councils and other various groups. Some of them were diametrically opposed, as you can appreciate, so what we wanted to do was fix a system that we felt wasn't working.

Did everybody agree that the system needed fixing? No, not everybody did, but I'd like to bring out some quotations. The Liberal red book, for instance, said, "Within our first year in office, [we will] simplify the existing system and streamline it to provide better service to tenants and landlords." In addition, the Liberal red book said, "A Liberal government will undo the impact of Bill 120," which was the old rent control legislation, "in order to meet the special needs of those who live and work in retirement homes."

Alvin Curling, the member for Scarborough North, went so far as to say: "Let's not go about insulting investors and landlords. Let's not feel that tenants are the only ones to be protected in this process, but all." He went on to say: "Bill 121," the NDP rent control bill, "does not in any way protect tenants and landlords. It hurts both landlords and tenants."

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Who said that?

Mr Wettlaufer: Alvin Curling, the member for Scarborough North. "It does not provide funds," he said, "that are needed to complete the necessary repairs on the province's aging rental housing."

Here's another very notable quotation from a very noteworthy individual. He said: "Many people assume that rent control is there to protect the lower-income tenants in the units that they rent. In fact, it's upper-income tenants who get the most benefits." The man who said that was John Sewell, and he said that on Studio 2, TVO.

Mr Baird: Who said that?

Mr Wettlaufer: John Sewell.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): John who?

Mr Wettlaufer: John Sewell.

Interjection: A paid union organizer.

Mr Wettlaufer: A paid union organizer, right.

I think it's important to keep in mind here that $10 billion of repairs are needed to existing rental housing. We have seen that balconies need repairs, garages need repairs, plumbing needs to be repaired, roofs need to be repaired. Essentially what this boils down to is that the previous rent control system did not allow a landlord who had to carry out the repairs to recover his costs. That was one of the things we had to address, and we have addressed it.

We have heard from a number of landlords in our areas that the majority of them are immigrants who have come here since the Second World War.

Mr Marchese: Are these the people who own a house or two or the big apartments?

Mr Wettlaufer: Some of them do own a house or two. Some of them own just a sixplex or a fourplex or a duplex. This unit represents their life savings, and they have not been able to carry out the repairs. They have come to us and said, "We must have some relief."

Mr Marchese: They came to you? I don't believe it.

Mr Wettlaufer: Yes, they came to me. I have a number in my riding -- Italians, Poles, Greeks, Jews and Germans -- and they needed relief.

The former government's housing policy resulted in Ontario growing into one of the largest landlords in the free world. The government was competing with the people we expected to provide reasonable rental housing. These were the people who were paying taxes. These were the people who were providing jobs. But no, the government had to go into competition with them.

Mr Marchese: Oh yeah. Get the government out of the housing business. Stop building non-profit housing.

Mr Wettlaufer: That's right. Now you understand.

I'd like to read from the New York Times of June 13, 1997. This was an article written by Henry Pellakowski, and it was what was evident in Massachusetts:

"Those who envision catastrophe if New York's rent regulations are undone can look to Massachusetts.... A rent control phase-out there is bringing more benefits and less disruption than many expected.... Deregulation has affected the poor less than anticipated, construction and renovation of rental housing are up even for a boom time and higher property values are translating into more property tax revenue....

"Officials were surprised to find that the poor were not the main group benefiting from rent control. When the Massachusetts Legislature sought to ease the transition by offering short-term extensions for needier tenants, remarkably few households applied and even fewer qualified." Only 7% qualified. "Rent-controlled tenants were less likely to be in families with children. About half of them had higher-status white-collar jobs, and only 10% were elderly."

That is what we are going to find here. I know that the members of the previous government, the members of the now third party, would like to see the same situation that they have in Germany perhaps, where third and fourth and fifth and sixth generations live in the same rented house at grossly inadequate rents. But that's not fair to either tenants or landlords. We have to have a system whereby the rental housing is maintained at a rate that is safe for the tenant and can give the landlord at least a reasonable return on his or her investment.

That is what this bill attempts to do. It will succeed. I am happy to support the bill.


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to rise today in support of the Tenant Protection Act. In June 1996, the government issued a discussion paper on rental housing issues. During that time over 400 presentations were made as the committee travelled across the province. Once the bill was finally drafted and published, further consultations took place through the committee process, again as they travelled across the province.

This bill tries to provide a balance between the needs and concerns of tenants and the needs and concerns of landlords. No bill, at least to my understanding, ever satisfies the needs of any specific group of individuals. There are always two sides to every issue. As we've heard the Liberal member from Scarborough North say, "Let's not feel that tenants are the only ones to be protected in this process, but all." That's what this bill tries to do. It tries to protect the needs and the concerns of the tenants as well as the needs and concerns of the landlords.

I'd like to touch on a few of the concerns we've heard about tenant protection from tenants. One of the biggest concerns that tenants fear is that as soon as this legislation is passed, their rents are automatically going to rise astronomically. That's not true. As a matter of fact, that's more fear on the part of tenants than reality.

I remember at one of the public hearings I was at, I asked one of the landlords specifically in my riding what would happen if rent controls were lifted, because one of his tenants had called me. His response was, "Absolutely nothing," there would be no change.

The reality is that right now rent control isn't working. Many or most of the apartments being rented today are rented for much less than the rent control guidelines allow. However, because tenants were concerned, we ensured that they would be protected by making sure that rent control guidelines would remain in place as long as they stayed in their apartments. Once they left their apartment and the apartment was vacant, then the landlord had the opportunity to charge fair market rent. We felt that was only fair, because we're providing a balance by protecting the tenant but at the same time allowing the landlord an opportunity to charge fair market rent.

Some tenants also expressed concern over being harassed by landlords in order to get them to move out, so the bill proposes three important changes to prevent landlords from harassing tenants. It doubles the penalty for harassment from $25,000 to $50,000 for corporations; the enforcement unit, which investigates complaints from tenants, will be strengthened; and it also allows a tenant to make an application to the new Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal for a rebate if they are harassed. Individual landlords would have fines up to $10,000 imposed on them.

One of the concerns we heard was about maintenance. Buildings were old and not being kept up. Maintenance is poor. Some rental buildings in the province have hundreds of outstanding work orders against them for maintenance. The bill gives property standards officers the power to issue work orders immediately to a landlord in cases where there is a violation of a property standard. The maximum fine for a landlord who fails to comply with a work order is increased to $100,000.

The ability of landlords to be able to charge market rent on vacant apartments provides an incentive to landlords to maintain their buildings. It makes sense that if they have a clean, well-maintained building, it will rent much easier than if it were not. That's what landlords want to be able to do: They want to rent out their apartments.

Many of the concerns we heard involved the fear that landlords would be allowed to convert their units to condominiums and this would adversely affect affordable supply. In fact this bill ensures that lifetime security of tenure would be given to any tenant whose rental building is converted to a condominium.

During the public hearings we also heard from both landlords and tenants that the present court system takes too long and is too complicated to understand. It can sometimes take months to have a case heard and an issue resolved. The new Tenant Protection Act proposes a more user-friendly system that will focus on mediation and alternative dispute resolution. The new streamlined system will provide better, faster decisions that are in the best interests of tenants and landlords. I suggest to you that's what tenants want: They want their issues resolved quickly. That's what this act will do.

If tenants feel that they have been charged unfairly for inadequate maintenance or are receiving reduced services, they will be able to apply for a rent refund. That's something that tenants have asked that they be allowed to do as well.

I know there are lots of other speakers who want to talk on this so I just want to say that this bill provides a balance for the tenants and for the landlords, and I think it's fair for both of them. We've heard a lot of concern that removing rent control isn't going to increase rental stock. No, that's absolutely right; it won't. But good economic policy, including lower taxes and reduced red tape, as well as fair legislation that looks at both sides of the issue will provide new rental housing, and I'm sure that will happen.

The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I'll begin by thanking the minister and his colleagues in the government party and say very briefly that we disagree with much of what they stated. Indeed, the evidence that was presented at committee doesn't agree with what they stated.

The government has said repeatedly that one of its principal objectives is to create more affordable housing in Ontario. It's the view of the official opposition that this bill will not do that, that this bill will in fact lead to less affordable housing.

We said in committee that we support notionally the idea of improving the administration of rent law in this province, improving the administration of how we conduct rental affairs in this province, but the reality is this bill doesn't deliver on that front. This bill doesn't deliver on a whole range of fronts, which I will address in more detail during my own remarks.

I want to say to the members of the government, this bill is not about creating more affordable housing; it's about getting rid of affordable housing. It's about creating a complete market economy where again the poor and most vulnerable will be the most exposed. In that sense, the government at least is consistent in what it's doing on the whole housing front, including a range of other changes it has made outside the legislative changes contemplated in Bill 96.

Despite the rhetoric, the official opposition says that this bill does not create affordable housing, it does not protect tenants, it does not protect our communities. This bill will be taken back in two years' time and meaningful rent control will be restored in the province of Ontario.

Mr Marchese: Speaker, I appreciate the compliment you sent to me with respect to the tie that I'm wearing. I could tell that from there you can see the quality of the tie. I appreciate that.

Three members, the minister and two other people, one from Kitchener and the other one from Hamilton West, spoke about this bill as being balanced and as being fair. I was quite clear, having heard 70% of the deputants who came in front of the committee, that tenants said and argued that there is no fairness to this bill, there is no balance in this bill at all.

You've heard the three previous speakers say that tenants also said and say they want balance. No. The tenants that I listened to, who came to the deputations on this bill and who came to depute on the previous package that was not a bill but a different kind of package that was part of the consultations, said, "There is nothing in this bill that's for us." You have these people continuing to say, as they do, that they have consulted tenants, that they have listened to tenants, and they are responding to tenants. Well, I tell you, if they responded to tenants, they would leave the previous bill in existence because they've said that is the bill that protects their interests, not the bill that is before us.

The balance that they speak of is the one that tips the balance for the landlords. That's the kind of balance that these people are looking for. It has nothing to do with striking a balance that protects tenants. I'll have an opportunity to speak to many of the issues that are in this bill, that will show clearly to tenants and others that this is not a bill for tenants, but a bill for landlords.


Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): I listened to the comments of the minister here in third reading of his bill and I have to say that his attempt to portray this bill as a balancing act between the competing interests of landlords and tenants and that this bill would therefore lead to the provision of more affordable housing simply is denied, contradicted and in fact rejected by almost all of those who came during the discussion paper hearings more than a year ago, and then through the public hearings that we had during second reading of this bill. The point I'm making here is that the minister, in trying to tell us all that this is indeed a panacea for all those ills -- it is simply a line that is not being accepted by those people who have to live in the very real world that we have to deal with.

We are dealing with a major change to what's going to happen to the shelter of a large number of people across Ontario. In Ottawa-Carleton nearly half the population lives in rental housing. These changes do not improve their situation, not at all. As a matter of fact, members opposite should know that the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton has published a series of staff reports indicating that there is a crisis in rental housing in Ottawa-Carleton and that the problem is not the issue of land supply or the supply of the housing. The problem is the affordability of rental housing. I would be more than happy to go into detail in this when I have my opportunity to speak to this issue.

The fact remains that this bill, through its ability to decontrol rents on individual units over time, is a step backwards in terms of rent control. It's with regret that I hear the members opposite, the government side, claim otherwise.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Questions and comments? The member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: Thank you, Madame Deputy Speaker. I haven't had the opportunity to congratulate you on your election as Deputy Speaker in this place. I'd like to congratulate you. We have every confidence you'll continue to do an outstanding job in that capacity.

I also wanted to congratulate my colleagues the member for Hamilton West, the member for Kitchener and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for their remarks.

I did want to put on the record something I did. There was a consultation process undertaken by a local group concerned about this issue in Ottawa-Carleton, and a rather large advertisement was put in the Ottawa Citizen encouraging the good people of Ottawa-Carleton to call myself or the member for Ottawa-Rideau with our views and opinions on this piece of legislation. I would put forward that this is one factor of a good number to consider in the discussions surrounding this bill.

My colleagues, the members for Hamilton West and Kitchener and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, will be very interested to know the results of that consultation, where people were invited to call in to my office. I got 15 calls; seven of them were solidly against the bill and in fact there were eight separate calls in support of the bill. So there was a very small majority from that invited consultation with an objective amount of information put by a local housing group in the Ottawa Citizen. Thank you very much, Madame Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Hamilton West, you're going to sum up for your party.

Mrs Ross: I just wanted to address a couple of the comments that were made that this bill doesn't create more affordable housing. As I stated earlier, this bill in itself does not create more affordable housing; that's exactly correct. But this bill, in conjunction with good economic policy, with reducing taxes, with eliminating red tape, will create new housing.

As a matter of fact, during the hearings the government was pleased to hear that Minto Developments of Ottawa is planning to reinvest $31 million into rental stock, partly as a result of Bill 96. I think that's good news for Ottawa and good news for Ontario.

In fact this bill does protect tenants and it does protect landlords. It provides tenants with the opportunity to ensure that their rents will not rise astronomically as they stay in their rental apartments. They will rise only by the guidelines, which is as they are now under rent control. It also allows the landlord the opportunity, once a tenant moves out, to charge fair market rent for vacant apartments.

So I think this bill does look at both sides of the issue. It tries to ensure that tenants are protected, but it also tries to allow the landlord the opportunity to charge fair market rent, but ensures that he maintain his building. I think that's only fair, so I very much support the bill.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Duncan: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I too want to congratulate you and wish you well. I know you have done a great job in an impartial fashion and I am sure that you will continue in that way.

My understanding is there is agreement that both opposition parties will share the remaining time and we will alternate back and forth. I will be sharing the official opposition's time with five of my colleagues: the members for Ottawa West, Scarborough North, Oriole, Parkdale and York South.

In the time that I have available to me, I want to speak first about a little bit of a history around Bill 96. I also want to address what we in the official opposition believe is wrong with this bill. I want to talk for a moment or two as well about who's going to be hurt by the bill, and then I want to talk about the bill in the context of the government's entire housing agenda as well as in the context of the government's entire economic agenda.

As I was going through some papers the other night in my office in preparation for this, I pulled out a Conservative campaign document that was distributed in the York South by-election that said, "Rent control will continue." It talked about tenants speaking out and how these reforms will help tenants. I thought it ironic that the government would say one thing and do quite another. I guess in light of what they've done in other areas, particularly this week as we discuss education reform, what this government says it is doing and what it actually does aren't necessarily one and the same thing.

Members opposite and the public will know that the government began this process with a series of hearings in the summer of 1996. Those were supposed to be hearings that elicited public opinion and sought the views of people across Ontario. As I recollect, more than 270 groups appeared and in fact while they were there they denounced those hearings because they knew what they were: They were a sham; they were a false start. They knew that the government in fact had no intention of listening to what tenants, seniors, municipal politicians had to say, and the government didn't listen. The government proceeded on.

Bill 96 was introduced almost a year ago. What did they do? They ignored the public hearings that had been held the summer before. They proceeded ahead with their own agenda, completely ignoring all the advice and all the input they had. Indeed, even landlord organizations said during the hearings that their advice had not been heeded.

We have to look at this in light of a whole range of things that the government has done in this bill, not only with respect to the substance of the bill but with respect to the process. We already have said that those hearings in the summer of 1996 were a farce, a sham. They meant nothing.


Then, you'll remember when we did second reading of this bill -- it was on federal election day, when nobody was listening. It turned out it wasn't a bad day at all in Ontario. It wasn't a bad day at all. A red tide swept across this province, mercifully. Mercifully, it'll happen again in two years, because the people of this province know that you can balance a budget, that you can be fiscally responsible and that you don't have to close hospitals and you don't have to close hospitals and you don't have to close schools, and you don't have to have teachers' strikes, and you don't have to antagonize the entire population.

In fact, people in this province, whether they be in Windsor or Ottawa, whether they be in the north or the south, want to work to find a balanced budget. But they don't want to do it on the backs of the poor; they don't want to do it with closed hospitals; they don't want to do it with an education system that's left in a shambles. They want to talk about meaningful reform, as we in this party do, and they certainly don't want the band of revolutionaries to disband the heart and soul of meaningful tenant protection in this province.

Yes, you tried to sneak that bill through second reading on federal election day and we saw a red tide sweep across this province that night. I predict today that we will see the same red tide sweep you right out of office, and everything you've done to undermine public education, to undermine our health care, and to take away protection of tenants and the poor in this province. You can sneak what you want through and you can play those games and you can pretend they're not happening, but the people of this province have your number. They have the score and they won't let you get away with it any longer.

We went across the province this summer and we did hearings. Again, every group that appeared before them denounced them, saying the government had no intention of listening. This government is not balanced at all. This government talks in propaganda; it doesn't talk in fact, it doesn't talk in reality. Rent control will continue: That's what you said in your campaign brochures. What your minister said in this House and said publicly is that you're getting rid of rent control. The Premier said you weren't cutting health care, and what did you do? You closed hospitals -- not one hospital would be closed in this great province, and what did you do? Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Ottawa, Toronto; you're closing hospital after hospital.

You said that Bill 160 wasn't about cutting money out of education, taking it from the hides of our children. That's what you said. Then your Premier stood up, and what did he do? "We're trying to find $667 million." Caught at it. Your propaganda hasn't worked. All of you are nervous and that's why you had that testy caucus meeting, because you know the reality. It must have been very, very unpleasant in there. It must have been extremely unpleasant hearing from people right across your province saying you're doing a bad job and to clean up your act.

We tried to at least amend this bill, to make it acceptable, to make it meaningful. We put forward amendments that would stop vacancy decontrol. We put forward amendments to stop discrimination based on source of income. You will remember Keith Norton, the chair this government appointed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. What did he tell you? He told you not to do this, real simple, real clear. Your appointment, a Tory cabinet minister, and what did you do? You ignored him and you rolled ahead with it anyway. We put forward an amendment to stop that. The government ignored it. We put forward an amendment to preserve the rent freeze work orders. Those are the so-called OPRIs. What did you? You rejected it.

Let's talk about process again. Here we are on third reading, and what are we under? We're under a time allocation motion, again time allocation because this government doesn't want to have a meaningful debate. Every time you get into a meaningful debate you lose because you don't have a case.

The final chapter is not yet written on Bill 96, because in two years' time when we form a government we're going to repeal it and we're going to bring back meaningful rent control in Ontario once again.

Hon David Turnbull (Minister without Portfolio): You don't know what you are talking about.

Mr Duncan: The government whip. My congratulations to the government whip on his elevation. He laughs smugly and is smiling. God, I wouldn't want to be getting his faxes or his e-mails. They shut down their e-mail and their faxes, there were so many of them coming in fast and furiously. Your constituents were calling us saying, "Can you please bring these messages to my Tory member, who won't listen to me?" Many of these people voted for you and they're not going to make that mistake again, I'll tell you. Once bitten, twice shy. They've learned their lesson. You can put the fire walls up on your e-mail, you can shut down your fax machines, but let me tell you, you won't shut down the will of the people of Ontario in 1999, when they drive you from office for your callous and arrogant behaviour on education and health care. You can't put up a fire wall big enough to stop what's coming your way in another two years.

Let's talk about vacancy decontrol. The minister didn't spend much time in his little propaganda diatribe talking about what vacancy decontrol is. Vacancy decontrol will lead to landlord intimidation.


Mr Duncan: It will. You've acknowledged that in your own bill. You've put up all kinds of new so-called protections to protect people against what you know they are going to face, so don't go, "No, no, no." If that's the case, why did you put all that in there? You're going to see intimidation like you've never seen it before, my friends, and you should be nervous about that because it will be your constituents.

Maybe in the rural areas it's not an issue and maybe you can just brush off those people in Toronto and Ottawa and Windsor. Maybe you can ignore their needs and concerns, maybe you can continue to step on the poor and those who are least able to protect themselves: people who don't own hundreds of acres of land, people who don't have a net worth of millions of dollars, people who need a government to protect them and a government that recognizes that there's a legitimate role for government to play in regulating a marketplace, particularly one that is as important as housing.

We regulate the price of cable television, we regulate telephone costs, we regulate the price of water, we regulate the price of electricity, something that in comparative terms is a much smaller impact on people's budgets, yet this government wants to leave those people exposed to no protection. Vacancy decontrol is all about intimidation.

The government says it isn't really getting rid of rent control, but the simple math is this: Every year 25% of units become vacant, so within four years we'll effectively have no rent control. When they tell you they're not killing rent control, they're killing rent control, just like they're killing health care and just like they're killing education in this province.

They don't have a vision, they don't have a sense, they don't have an understanding of what the people of this province need to sustain the quality of life we have enjoyed, the quality of life that consistently rates our country the best place in the world to live. By extension, since this is the best province in the best country, this must be the best place in the world to live, yet you want to tear all that apart. You want to take it down, to hurt it and to put people who are most vulnerable at risk, and to protect your own friends. You don't have enough friends left to sustain your government, and when the time comes you'll see that red tide sweep across this province.

Who will be hurt by the bill? Seniors, students who have to move, the poor. As I said at the beginning, this bill is only one component of the government's overall agenda. Let's review what the government has talked about in its agenda. One of the first acts they took -- they say they want to create affordable housing -- was to cancel all funding for new non-profit housing in this province, $5 billion worth over four years. Then they announced their intention to download responsibility for social housing to municipalities, neutering yourselves, not leaving social housing on the tax base that it ought to be left with. The property tax base cannot sustain it. It will not sustain it. This is the government that is causing the highest property tax increases this province will ever see. Take affordable housing out of the equation and it might work, but it won't work, because you don't understand. Let me correct that: They do understand. It means the end of meaningful public housing policy in this province.


Another first step they're proud of: They cut welfare allowances by 22%, deliberately undermining the ability of the most poor and vulnerable to afford their rent. Right here in this city the use of food banks is way up. In my community it's way up. Why? Because people want to pay their rent. Unlike the mean stereotypes this government paints, these people don't want to be on welfare. They want a job. You're missing the point. You haven't created the jobs you said you would. You gave your tax cut, you cut welfare, you closed hospitals, you're ruining our education system, but you haven't created enough jobs. There won't be enough jobs to save you in two years, because you've broken your commitments. You're not delivering. You're delivering for a very few people who will not understand what it means to live in rent-geared-to-income housing, and you don't care. You want to cut, cut, cut.

This government, through its actions, is quickly turning the issue of affordable housing from a problem into a crisis. They wanted a crisis in education; they created one. They got it. Boy, did they get it. It's like a boomerang that came back and hit them.

They want to create a crisis here. They don't want the responsibility. Their view is that government has no responsibility.

I sadly read that eviction and hostel use here in Toronto and in Windsor, London, Ottawa, both by single individuals and families, are at record highs. There are currently over 40,000 people on waiting lists for public housing in Ontario.

You've gutted our health care system. You're destroying our education system. Through Bill 96 you're taking away protection from the most poor and vulnerable. You have no vision of the future of this province or what we need to sustain the quality of life we have enjoyed to date. You ought to be ashamed. Two years from now you'll get the lesson. No fire wall is strong enough. No fax can be turned off long enough. You'll learn the lesson. This province will turn you out fast. We'll repeal this bill and we'll move forward with meaningful rent control in Ontario for the new millennium.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I just want to clarify what the member for Windsor-Walkerville was asking for, and that is to divide the time evenly between Liberals and the third party. I would ask for unanimous consent that that actually happens.

The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Hon Mr Turnbull: As long as we can have some response time, because we have taken less than the allotted time, we're in agreement.

The Deputy Speaker: I've been informed by the table clerk that if we divide the time equally that way, there is no room within the rules for questions and comments. So do I have unanimous consent? No. I heard a no.

Hon Mr Turnbull: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: The whole point of what I was raising was that so long as we had an opportunity for the two-minute responses, we have no objection to them dividing the time, but I was given to understand by you that we cannot do it in that way. We need questions and answers.

The Deputy Speaker: I'm informed I can't do that. We do not have unanimous consent to do this, then.

Further debate?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): It is the same attitude that this government has done. It has cut the time from the official opposition and the opposition members to comment in the way they would like to see on Bill 96, which is an awful, awful bill that you are pushing here. It's a sham. Bill 96, as we know, will not protect tenants. It is not a rent control bill; it's a bill that will put tenants in a terrible position.

In my short time, let me just state emphatically again what many people have known, but let them know very clearly what this government has done. The first thing they did in their Common Sense Revolution, in their war, was to declare war on the poor. That's the first thing they did. They decided to declare war on the poor and they called it a commonsense war, a war that will look at the poor and the most vulnerable in our society and blame them for any kind of inflation, for any kind of spending that governments have done. They said, "They are the cause."

As we know, the first thing they did when the walked in was to look at those people on welfare and cut them by 22%. They chased them out of their homes, gave them inadequate funds to pay for their rent and then -- the audacity -- one of the ministers stated in the House here, "If you can't afford it, go and buy tuna." They said, "Tuna is expensive." He said, "No, go and buy dented tuna," even telling them the menu going into their bellies, saying: "Listen, stop eating. If you can't, go and buy dented tuna." This is the audacity, the attitude of this Tory government, the bullyness of this government, the arrogance of this government to tell the poor: "Starve if you want. After I've cut 22% of your welfare, go out and starve." That's what they did.

The next thing they did was to cut those who were having difficulty getting jobs and access with employment equity. They said, "No, you don't need any access." They want to make sure that those of their friends at the top end will be protected and won't fall off the table. Is this the kind of protection they were talking about, this rent control bill, when they went around the province and my leader, Dalton McGuinty, told them that we will repeal this bill and put a proper tenant rent control bill in that will protect both tenants and landlords?

I want to thank the member for Kitchener, who stated quite eloquently, quite articulately, the position I have taken on rent control. We feel the legislation should protect tenants and also be very fair to landlords, but what you have done, of course, is to kick tenants in the teeth. What you have done, of course, is to destroy and make the market all ready for your friends in the private sector, to say that there should be no more social housing, and you have gone as far as cancelling some of the social housing put in place by previous governments so you can make sure there is a greater need to force people to buy very expensive homes, which they can't, while in the meantime you've cut away their income.

This is the kind of government that has declared war on the poor. This is the kind of government that has seen homelessness increase and who now are coming in to ask, where should they go? I would invite many of those members there, the member for Kitchener too, to go out into the cities and find, in the cold time now, how many people will die on the street because they have no place to go. What has caused that? You have kicked them out. You have not provided any more social housing. You have even deprived them of money, those most vulnerable in society who can't afford to pay rent, and you've said, "Go and negotiate with the landlord."

The landlords themselves, who are trying to get a fair rental policy in place, will not get it under your regime, will not at all, because the price will be much higher. The students, who have seen a higher tuition fee under this government, will also find a higher fee when they have to pay rent when they go out to school. This government has attacked the most vulnerable in society, has declared war on the poor.

Even Reform will take you over, as they are doing in Ottawa today. The fact is that you're just as bad as the Reformers, or even worse.

I strongly object to Bill 96. My leader, Dalton McGuinty, and Dwight Duncan from Windsor will make sure that we don't have this kind of atrocity when we take power in the next two years.


Mr Cullen: As I stand and speak on this issue, I have to remind my colleagues opposite that the most recent by-election we've had here in this Legislature was this summer in Ottawa West, in Oriole and of course in Windsor-Riverside, and rent control, needless to say, was a very major issue. About 60% of the residents in my riding live in rental housing and it was a major issue.

People understand full well, from initially when the discussion paper went out over a year ago and then through the introduction of this bill, what exactly is happening here. What exactly is happening here is the slow death of rent control. This bill ends rent control. It takes away protections from tenants. It is with sadness that I have to stand here on third reading of this bill and preside over the demise of rent control as we know it here in Ontario.

With vacancy decontrol over time -- because people move all the time. They move because they have children and need a larger place, or they move because there has been a family breakup or a separation and they need a smaller place, or someone dies in the family, but they have to move. Each and every time they move, they leave the security of their apartment and they're out in the marketplace. The marketplace, as we know, cares not for the economic circumstances of the people who need the most fundamental of requirements, which is shelter. The marketplace wants to know, how much can you pay for your rent?

I was here in Toronto back in 1975 and 1977, when indeed people were looking at 40%, 50%, 60% increases in rent. The government of the day, which was a Conservative government, brought in a form of rent control. I can say to you now, looking so many years hence, that we have a system in place that protects the rights of tenants, that provides an opportunity for landlords to gain a return on their investment. What they are able to charge renters in terms of capital requirements stays on forever. Never mind that the capital requirement, that money, has been spent on that upgrade and has been paid for; that tenant will continue to pay the rent on that thing forever and a day.

What I'm saying is that we're looking at legislation that not only takes away rent control in terms of vacancy decontrol but will make it harder for maintenance and repairs to be done, will encourage and make easier more demolitions and condominium conversions. These are all backward steps at a time when throughout this province we know there is a crisis in affordable housing.

I referred earlier to the studies that have been produced by the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton that identified quite clearly that the issue is not supply, it is affordability. When you see how many people are paying more than 30% of their income in terms of basic rent, you will see that those numbers are increasing and increasing. Even those who are paying more than half are increasing in our community.

We know we have an affordability problem, yet this is a government that has backed right out of the whole notion of trying to provide affordable housing. This is a government that's going to decontrol or deregulate the ability to maintain affordable housing for a significant number, I think it's 46% across Ontario or thereabouts, in terms of rental housing. It's wrong. This bill is wrong. I'll be pleased to be part of the government that repeals this in 1999.

Mr David Caplan (Oriole): It's clear that Bill 96, the so-called Tenant Protection Act, is simply an assault upon tenants, just like Bill 160 is an assault on students, parents and teachers in this province. It is a mindset this government has that anybody out there is fair game, and it's just an uncaring attitude.

I want to speak for two groups in this debate: first the residents of Oriole, 48% of whom are tenants; and also for the youth of this province who have expressed concerns through the committee hearing process and to myself as I've been meeting with them as I've been travelling throughout the province.

Bill 96, as I said, offers no protection for tenants and they want it withdrawn in favour of real rent controls and real tenant protections. The concerns were many. Landlords will certainly be able to raise rents without restriction when a unit becomes vacant. The real fear among tenants is that they will be open to intimidation by landlords to move because they will be prisoners in substandard apartments and they will not be able to find affordable rental accommodation elsewhere. Even your own minister agrees with this. He's set up an anti-harassment unit because he knows what will happen as a result of your Bill 96.

I share the concerns of Ontario human rights commissioner Keith Norton -- I believe a former Conservative cabinet minister and now head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission -- when he says that Bill 96 sets aside provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code which protect tenants from discrimination by landlords.

The tenants in Oriole have expressed serious concerns that under this new proposed law landlords will be able to enter apartments without notice to show the premises. Tenants are also concerned that the bill removes almost all protections that they had from their homes being turned into condominiums or being demolished at a landlord's whim.

Finally, and most importantly, tenants in Oriole are concerned that their rents will skyrocket because of new allowable increases for extraordinary operating costs, such as property taxes, hydro increases. No tenant can be sure what their rent increases will be from year to year.

The other group whose concerns I would like to address are the youth of this province. I would like to quote the Ontario wing of the Canadian Federation of Students. They summed up their concerns at the committee hearing as follows: "This bill heavily favours landlords and does little to protect tenant rights and, more importantly, affordable housing. Students will be greatly impacted by any increases in rents. The effects have great spinoff effects for the accessibility for post-secondary education and for the students."

Other youth organizations had some comments during the committee process. Touchstone Youth Centre brought its concerns about the amendments to the Human Rights Code to the committee. They wanted to stress that this law will affect youth who are already in crisis. They said, "Given how many youth have already been turned away from support services shamefully by this government, such as emergency shelters, I am here to put a compassionate request that you take into consideration the youth of our province who do not have access to references, to first and last month's rent, to the use of credit cards, and who are renting for the first time."

I would also like to point out a statement at the committee hearings by Justice for Children and Youth. They said: "In practice, many landlords exploit the already economically disadvantaged position of welfare recipients by asking for income information as a requirement for applying for tenancy. Recipients suffer systemic disadvantage as a result of this discrimination when it, in turn, drives them to substandard and even dangerous dwellings. Thus, inadequate housing is the only affordable option for people who have been refused better, cleaner tenancy elsewhere. This prevents them from acquiring a good tenant history and traps them in a specialized market niche of inadequate housing."

I was pleased to stand with our leader Dalton McGuinty when he said that he would repeal Bill 96. It will happen in two years when this government is defeated.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Thank you very much for being able to participate in this debate. As all of us realize, of course, the public hearings started on this bill in 1996. Over 270 deputants came. The only problem is that the vast majority of these deputants were ignored. I know the Conservative government had a very tough time because the goal, as the member for Hamilton West indicated, was to be fair. Well, if this is fairness, then I don't know. Reading the piece on rent control that was given out at some of the by-elections -- it reads quite clearly -- it says that Mike Harris indicates to all the tenants in these by-elections, "We are working with you." Two hundred and seventy people attended the public hearings and, "We're working with you." So far, so good. "This," Mike Harris says, "is an important part of our plan to renew prosperity for Ontario."

This is a plan to renew prosperity? Is this Bill 96 a plan to renew prosperity for Ontario? Yet what do we see out there right now? Do we, for instance, have an increase in public housing, where the homeless can have fair shelter and a place to stay? Do we have an increase? The answer has to be an absolute no. There is no increase.

I want to personally congratulate Minto, because the member for Hamilton West is saying Minto will be increasing and developing some units. Good for them. You know what you're going to do in the end when Minto starts building? You are going to raise taxes. As soon as they start developing these places, you're going to increase taxes. With a downloading process, you will be unable to stop the roller-coaster and the push to increase taxes. Is that the plan Mike Harris says is going to bring prosperity to Toronto? Is this going to bring prosperity to Ontario? Is this the plan?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): That's the Liberal approach. You know that, Tony. Liberals do that.

Mr Baird: I'm glad Mel Lastman disagrees.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order, member for Nepean, minister.

Mr Ruprecht: I know the minister is saying that this is the plan that is going to increase prosperity. If this is the plan, then I want to ask the minister right now, how come there are so many homeless people on the street? Are they participating in the prosperity you're going to create for Ontario? What's your answer to that? The answer has to be an overwhelming no.

In terms of being fair, with this specific Bill 96, to be fair you have to be inclusive. You have to include all the Ontario residents and not only those who can afford it. The subject of this bill has to be affordability. Is it affordable housing we're going to be creating for the rest of Ontarians, for those right now on the street? The answer has to be again no.

If this is the plan, then let's hear what the tenants say now. They say, "Whether it's smoke detectors or the front doors, nothing ever gets fixed," "I can't find an affordable apartment," and finally, "I don't even feel safe in my own unit." If this is the new plan of the government to create affordable housing, I know this Bill 96 will fail. It is bound to fail simply because you cannot address the main issue that all of Ontarians are waiting for today, and that is, create affordable housing.

When the tax increases are coming in and the rents are going up, what are your residents going to say to you? Are they going to hold you accountable? What are they going to do? Are they going to turf you out? I would submit that affordable housing is not being created.

Let's hear what your own former member and Minister of Health is saying to Bill 96. If you're not able to listen to the 270 deputants who have come before the committee, the deputants who told you the best advice, if you are not able to hear them, at least provide the courtesy to listen and open your ears to your own former member and Minister of Health, Mr Keith Norton. What does he say about Bill 96? My friends, he condemns the bill, because he says that Bill 96 will set aside provisions of the Human Rights Code. How do you like those bananas? Have you considered that Keith Norton is saying that this bill will set aside provisions of the Human Rights Code? Have you considered the consequences of that? I would submit this government has not.

The conclusion then is, if your people are putting out the Mike Harris plan on rent controls, if you're putting out a new plan that will create prosperity for Ontario, you cannot succeed with Bill 96. Read this bill. It cannot create prosperity, and it will not create affordable housing for Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): What this process here today shows more than any other is how our new rules have affected the debate in this House. Usually a leadoff speaker gets an hour, and after that speakers get up to 20 minutes. As a result of the time allocation that was passed earlier, this bill has to be debated in one day, which basically means in about two to two-and-a-half hours. The government took some 40 minutes to debate this earlier, and it now leaves the opposition in effect with less time collectively than what the government has taken on this bill. I think this is totally unfair.

This is our opportunity, after the public consultation that has taken place, after the bill went to committee etc, to comment upon all the input from all the various groups clear across this province, and we have been given in effect less than 40 minutes to present the case against rent control. Whether you're for rent control or against rent control, surely the members opposite will have to understand that this is a forum where we debate the public policy of this province. To allow the opposition less time than the government to discuss this bill on third reading is totally unfair.

This is just another occasion, as we've already seen with Bill 160, where I hope the people of Ontario will wake up and realize the draconian rule changes that were passed by this government, almost without notice to anybody, earlier this year. They in effect allow them to cut off debate over and over again on very important pieces of legislation, whether we're talking about rent control, whether we're talking about Bill 160 or whether we're talking about any of the other major measures that are before this House.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I would put on the record that the government gave a majority of the time for the opposition party. In fact, the member for Kingston and The Islands will be interested to know that the Liberal Party had 22 minutes left to use, and it didn't even use them. They must have been sleeping at the switch. The NDP would never be sleeping at the switch. We'd better check this out. They had 22 minutes that they didn't even use. They simply didn't use their time. They had the opportunity; they weren't prepared to get up and speak. This would never happen with the New Democratic Party. They're here, prepared to debate this bill, and I think we should allow them the opportunity to hear what they have to say.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I think what is important for the people of Ontario to know is that the government of Ontario, the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris, is abolishing rent control. With the fuss over a lot of other legislation going on, particularly seniors in this province don't understand that Mike Harris is getting rid of rent control in this province. I know that the very large landlords of the huge complexes that exist in Ontario and the major developers are going to be delighted with that. They will be going to all the Conservative fund-raisers. They'll be providing all kinds of money for the government now.

But I wish you would be up front and say that what you're doing is abolishing rent control. The right-wing group will like that. As I say, you have a certain number of people in the province who will think that's a great idea. I don't happen to think so, and I think many senior citizens in this province are going to be completely perturbed about what happened.

Those same people today are perturbed in areas such as Ottawa, in areas such as the Niagara region, by the fact that people cannot get what they used to be able to get in terms of home care services. Senior citizens are concerned about that. I'm getting all kinds of telephone calls at my constituency office from people in this province, particularly in the Niagara region, the St Catharines area, who cannot get home care services from the government now the way they used to.

Obviously the provincial Treasurer has to provide sufficient funding for the minister responsible for seniors so that he can provide the funding to these various centres which are deciding who will get what home care. I'm getting the calls on a daily basis from people who are very concerned. Those same senior citizens are going to be concerned that the government of Ontario is today ending rent control, because I don't think any of the seniors knew that's what this government was up to. They will after this bill passes.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Certainly we in the NDP appreciate having the Liberals on side in opposition to Mike Harris's agenda, which goes after people in the vicious way it does in reality under their so-called new rent control legislation. Having said that, though, I think one has to take with a great grain of salt the commitment that the Liberals are going to repeal the legislation and go back to the real kind of protection that exists right now under the NDP legislation that the Tories are now wiping off the books.

Anybody who wants to question what side the Liberals can be on during elections need only drive through Hamilton during any federal or provincial election and take a look at all the major apartment buildings and at whose signs are on the front lawn. Nine times out of 10 there are huge Liberal signs on the front lawn. When individual tenants in those buildings want to put signs that are different in their own buildings, even though they have the law that lets them do it, they have to fight and struggle in order to do that. So I have a great deal of difficulty with the Liberals suggesting that they're going to ride in and be the saviour for tenants. In fact it was all of the massive increases that existed under their tenure that caused us to bring in our legislation.

I realize this government deals in a way that says there are two sides, and on this issue oftentimes there are. It's hard to find that balance. But make no mistake: The Tory government's legislation is in favour of the landlords, and the Libs were no different. If we have to make a choice in the NDP, we'll side with tenants 10 times out of 10.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Oriole, you have two minutes to respond.

Mr Caplan: I appreciate the interventions and comments of all my colleagues from Hamilton, from Nepean and especially from St Catharines. What is clear and what I would say to all the members of the House is, take heed from the words of the member for St Catharines. This bill is all about removing rent controls, removing tenant protections from tenants, and the people who are most vulnerable are the seniors and the youth of this province. It's beyond anybody's imagination why the government has chosen this very heavy-handed -- why they have chosen assault on tenants, why this bill amounts to legalized theft.

Why will the government not listen to former Conservative cabinet minister Keith Norton, chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who says that Bill 96 contravenes the Ontario Human Rights Code? Why will you not listen? It is a total shame and it is a total sham. I see members opposite smiling about this. It is not a laughing matter. Those are protections we all enjoy. Those are protections that are necessary to the wellbeing of the people of this province. It is not a laughing matter and it is not a reasonable measure.

The backbench members of the Conservative Party have an opportunity to show some real leadership, to stand up and speak out on behalf of tenants in this province, oppose Bill 96 and offer real protection particularly to those who are most vulnerable: our seniors and our youth. In any event, in two years Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal Party of Ontario will repeal Bill 96.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Marchese: Speaker, some quick things, because we won't have much time. First, I want to say that I'll be sharing my time with the member for Hamilton Centre.

Second, about this tie: This isn't a tie that any developer would wear, or a serious landlord who's got deep pockets, I can tell you that. This is a tie that a New Democrat would wear from time to time as a symbol of resistance. It's a tie cheaply made in my office as a symbol to connect with teachers and parents and the general public, who have caught this government in a situation where the truth has come out, where clearly Mike Harris talked about taking approximately $700 million out of the education system. This tie connects to the general public. I know it is irregular and a bit unconventional, but it is a tie none the less.

The other problem is the question of time, Speaker. You've noticed, and I've made this observation in the last little while, that the third party is getting less and less of its share of being able to debate. This government has changed the rules again. The autocratic ruling party on the other side, which determines the time, basically has changed the rules to the extent that they will be able to say as much as they want to say, the Liberals, as the official opposition, will take as much time as they need, and the NDP, which wants to do these serious analyses of bills, gets the crumbs. We get approximately 22 minutes to deal with Bill 96, because we had an agreement with the Liberals to share --


The Acting Speaker: Order, member for Kingston and The Islands. Order, member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Marchese: We had an agreement with the official opposition and it didn't quite work out, and I suspect it will continue to be that way from time to time. I tell you, the rule changes are ugly for those who would do an analysis of this bill, as I'm about to do.

First, on the whole issue of housing, we've got a serious housing crisis in this country, and this crisis is led by no other than M. Chrétien, their Liberal counterpart up there in Ottawa, led by the Liberal government, they who say: "We have a heart. Unlike the Tories over there, we've got a heart." Well, those federal Liberals with a heart have abandoned their role in housing. They did that a long time ago. They stopped building. And you know something else? These Libs want to get out of the housing field altogether; like the Tories, they want to get out. They have agreements with some provinces and territories already, and they wanted an agreement with this government too to get out of housing.

Remember, Speaker -- I'm glad you're in the chair -- that M. Martin in 1990, when he was running for the leadership, said: "What we need, Liberals, is a vision. We need a national role for government in housing." That was the paper developed by M. Martin in 1990. They get elected, and what do they do? They say, "We're getting out of the housing field," just like the provincial Tories are doing. We have a crisis in this country, a crisis that was being debated, in fact, in the municipal election.

You remember that M. Mel Lastman was saying there was no homelessness and then got around to the fact that maybe there was, even in North York. He wins the election and lo and behold, he's saying Barbara Hall might want to take on this issue of housing, because he recognizes that there is a problem. The Lord is merciful at times. Thank God he recognizes that there is a housing crisis, a housing problem that someone's got to fix. Harris is out, so hopefully Barbara Hall will be there to save the day. I don't know how, because there's no money. These Tories have chopped everything. They have mucked around with everybody, chopped everything that there is available to chop. I don't know what Mel Lastman is going to do; there is no money.


So we've got a national crisis in housing and we've got a provincial crisis today in housing. Why? Because these guys over here say they don't want to get involved in housing. What does it mean? It means cooperative housing is gone as an alternative, and remember that cooperative housing, non-profit housing and the like represent only 5% of the housing stock. It's barely a whimper that these Tories worry about when they say it's too competitive for the private sector, for their buddies: 5% of the housing stock is represented in the field of we call non-profit and cooperative, and public housing as well. The rest is private housing run by developers, controlled -- not controlled; it would be unfair -- friends of those guys, friends of the Liberals too. They don't want to admit it, but as my friend from Hamilton Centre said, they've got a lot of friends there. That's why Liberals talk about balancing the act too between tenants and landlords. Sure, balance a lot of respective pockets on either side of this place.

We've got a problem that is already showing itself. People in Metropolitan Toronto are saying shelter is not an adequate solution to housing. Shelter isn't housing. It simply provides a place to go for people in trouble, but it doesn't solve the housing problem. Metropolitan Toronto, the new megacity you fine Tories have created, won't have the money to solve it for you as you download housing responsibilities to those people. They just will not have the resources. What a shameful act, for a provincial government to say: "We're not involved in housing any longer. We're dumping it down to the municipality." A shameful act. There are few jurisdictions in the world in which municipalities take on the ownership of housing; in fact, I know of no municipality in the world that's doing that, no one -- except these fine people over here. They come up with a fine solution to pass down the problem. These fine reptilian folks that we've got here --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Fort York. Withdraw that comment, please.

Mr Marchese: Yes, Speaker, I withdraw it. These cold-blooded Homo sapiens over there have no regard for those who are homeless, for those who are in shelters, for those who are going to have a hell of a time.

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): They're shedding their skins.

Mr Marchese: Shedding their skins indeed.

You have M. Harris. Did you hear him yesterday? He says about the education bill -- it connects, because this is a tenant protection package -- while gloating, "This should be called a Classroom Protection Act," he said with a great deal of glee. It's the same balderdash, it's the same crap that people have to eat on the tenant protection stuff. Here they call it the tenant protection package. Tenant groups and organizations dealing with tenants came to our committees, two separate committees dealing with this issue, saying, "Keep the NDP rent controls in place, because that's the best protection we've got."

You've got Harris, you've got the member for Kitchener, M. Wettlaufer, and the member for Hamilton West saying: "We were listening to tenants. We did listen to tenants. That's what we've got here, a balance." Balderdash. We have a septic tank in this room, I tell you, and it's hard to deal with if it's not repaired. This is a septic tank that needs to be repaired in this place, and quickly, Speaker, I say to you. I tell you it's the role of the Speaker to deal with the loathsome smell that comes from the septic tank on the other side.

The Speaker: Member for Fort York, I think you're attempting to add some interest and flavour to this debate, but I would caution you that I don't think it's helpful.

Mr Marchese: I know you don't think it's helpful, but it's what people feel out there. It's what I feel and it's what people feel out there. The smell is pervasive, I tell you, it creeps through these halls, and these walls are thick. Queen's Park walls are thick, I tell you, and the smell is very omnipotent and omnipresent.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Put your arms down and the smell will be better.

Mr Marchese: We'll disregard the member, Speaker.

Harris wrote to some fine people here in 1994: "My party believes that the Ontario government should get out of the housing business completely and use the billions in savings to help needy and low-income tenants access decent quality housing provided by the private sector." Where are those billions of dollars to help these people? Where are those dollars? They've been out of the housing field already and this guy Harris, mon ami Harris, says, "The savings are in the billions and we're going to use those billions to help people who need it." Where are they? Where are the bucks? Where is the pecunia? They're looking for it and they don't see it.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): La payola is here. You'll find the payola.

Mr Marchese: The payola is for the landlord and the developer. It is a transference of wealth from the tenant to the landlord. That's what this bill is all about. "Transferring" is not the appropriate word; it's too abstract. It's taking money, stealing money from people who do not have. Remember, 33% of all tenants earn less than 23,000 bucks. Do you think it's a lot of money? Do any of the Tories think it's a lot of money? No, 23,000 bucks is not a lot of money.

Those people are going to face a tremendous hardship as they have to deal with this government that purports to say this bill is for them. Tenants have already said that this bill belies the facts, and I agree with them. I heard the member for Hamilton Centre and the minister, M. Leach, mon ami, mon cher. The minister says: "Don't worry, there are no big changes in this bill. You won't be affected very much." Let me speak to that as quickly as I can.

First, decontrolling: Decontrolling of rents means that as soon as one of you poor tenants leaves, you're cooked. You're cooked because what this bill is all about is to force you into a situation where you're moving, whereby the new landlord is going to be so happy to be able to extract so much from you that the one who is going to get the shaft is you, and not the landlord. That landlord is there to extract as much as possible from you, and in a tight market, as we have in Metropolitan Toronto, the person who will suffer is the tenant. When you move, you're no longer protected. You will face -- we don't know what you will face, but I can tell you you will face an increase. These people tell you, "No, it's not true." I tell you, tenant, if you're watching this program, you're going to be facing an increase. Everybody seems to know that except the Tory members, but I think they know too.

Decontrolling means it's a free-for-all for the landlord. When the minister says, "Don't worry, there are no rent increases that are likely to happen, because we're not seeing them at the moment," I say to him, why are you changing the law then? If rents are not going to go up, why are you changing the law? Because he knows that he needs to satisfy the deep pockets of his landlord friends.

We're not talking, as Mr Wettlaufer was, about the little guy who's got a home, renting his basement. I'm not talking about that individual who's got a house or possibly two houses, or someone who owns a duplex or fourplex or what have you. I'm not talking about that. They are not the problem. The problem is the big landlord who's got a whole lot of units. Those are the culprits, in my view, and those are the people these folks are connected to, whose interest they are trying to satisfy.

Decontrol of rents is a problem for tenants. They've got to worry about it. Then they say, "But don't worry, if you stay at home, you've got no problems." But there are problems. If you're staying at home, this is what you will face if you don't move out: You are going to face the same guideline increases, which next year will be 3%. All of you will face that. What happened is that M. Leach and M. Harris have increased the amount for which people can apply for capital repairs. Under the NDP it was 3%; under these guys it's going to go up to 4%. That's already a change if you're a sitting duck, if you're staying at home.


In addition to that, these Tories, these Reform-a-Tories, are going to pass the cost of utilities and taxes on to that bill. I tell you, they're going to see utility price increases, I can wager my life on that, and property taxes. Mel Lastman says they're not going to go up, but there is going to be a whole lot of pressure on M. Lastman to keep that lid down as Mike Harris is cutting and cutting. If they see no money coming down, they've got to raise property taxes to maintain a certain modicum of social services.

If you're staying at home, you're a sitting duck, and that's a problem.

The other problem: Once you leave, the decontrolling, the government calls this negotiation. The landlord can negotiate with the tenant or, vice versa, the tenant can negotiate with the landlord. How do you negotiate with a landlord? The person who's got the gun is the landlord. If you as a tenant don't want to pay his or her price, you're gone. The landlord doesn't have to listen to you. That's called negotiation. Negotiation, in my view, has from time to time two equal parties where you negotiate. This is not an equal partnership. A landlord's got the money and the power, and the tenant has no power, so there is no negotiation.

We're talking about "costs no longer borne will no longer be withdrawn from the rent." That means tenants will pay for a new fridge, for example, while continuing to pay for the old one in their rent.

The rent registry is eliminated. That's what kept track of the problem of landlords charging too much or not telling the information that should be passed on to the tenant. A registry did that. This is gone.

Maintenance: Sure, they've increased the fine for maintenance, but what does it mean? If the new municipality doesn't have the money to enforce this, it means nothing. Without the money, the municipality cannot enforce the rules. They're not doing it now and they're not going to be able to do it in the future.

Section 200 -- by the way, the final point I will make on this -- is a section that will permit discrimination to happen. This is what it says:

"(3) The right under section 2 to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of residential accommodation without discrimination is not infringed if a landlord uses in the manner prescribed under this act income information, credit checks, credit references, rental history, guarantees or other similar business practices which are prescribed in the regulations made under this act in selecting prospective tenants."

What this section says is that landlords can use income information, and the next section says, "But they can't discriminate." Ha. A lot of good that's going to do. How are you going to monitor that? How are you going to enforce that? What the first part of section 200 does is legitimize the discrimination that is happening at the moment. What it's saying to the landlords is that they can continue to discriminate because there is never going to be any way to prove that they're not using income information to discriminate.

This bill is an abomination. The duplicitous nature of this title and the content is abominable. This is not for tenants. Tenants need to know this. Tenants need to link themselves up with the teachers in their struggle to fight this government. We will not be able to save you from this bill because they're going to pass it in a matter of days, but you can link yourselves up with teachers, with people in the health care system, who are very worried about what's happening in this province to all the essential services that have made us different. I urge tenants who are watching and listening to call us and to get involved to fight this government.

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate my colleague from Fort York's sharing with me some of the meagre amount of time he's been given as our critic. I first of all want to compliment him on the excellent job he has done all the way through on this bill. He has done an outstanding job on behalf of our caucus and on behalf of the people who are going to be hurt once again by this government.

I only have a very few minutes --

The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, it's kind of unusual, but this clock isn't right. That clock is right. The problem is that --

Mr Pouliot: Oh, the old clock trick now?

The Speaker: I understand. There is nothing I can do, but if you want to, you may seek unanimous consent for five minutes. I know it's not your fault. I didn't realize it was slow either, but that's the clock we have to go by. Is there unanimous consent for five minutes for the member for Hamilton Centre? Agreed? Agreed. Go ahead.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Speaker, and I appreciate the indulgence of all members in light of the fact that the clock is wrong.


The Speaker: Do you know what, member for Hamilton Centre? The member for Brant-Haldimand has said he said no.

Mr Christopherson: What?

The Speaker: The member for Brant-Haldimand said no.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 2, 1997, I am now required to put the question. Mr Leach has moved third reading of Bill 96. 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 1746 to 1751.

The Speaker: Mr Leach has moved third reading of Bill 96. All those in favour, please stand one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

DeFaria, Carl

Doyle, Ed

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Jordan, W. Leo

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Palladini, Al

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Skarica, Toni

Smith, Bruce

Sterling, Norman W.

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

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


Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Caplan, David

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Ruprecht, Tony

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 61; the nays are 36.

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

It being close to 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1755.