36th Parliament, 1st Session

L248 - Thu 20 Nov 1997 / Jeu 20 Nov 1997




















































The House met at 1102.




Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I move that in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should extend its program for rebate of the land transfer tax for all first-time home buyers who purchase a newly constructed home to include first-time home buyers who purchase a resale home, and extend the rebate program through to March 31, 1999, and increase the $200,000 purchase price ceiling from the land transfer tax rebate through the Ontario home ownership savings plan for buyers in the greater Toronto area, and the Minister of Finance should accept the provisions of this resolution and include them as part of the 1998 Ontario budget.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Mr Newman, you have 10 minutes.

Mr Newman: It's my pleasure to move ballot item 105 this morning with respect to the inclusion of resale homes in the land transfer tax rebate program. Many members across Ontario who are here today know that this program has seen significant new home starts in their areas. But coming from a very urban area, where land is very scarce for new home development, many of the people in my riding who want to participate in this program have to leave Scarborough Centre and move somewhere else. Many of them move to the 905 area, where many of these new homes are being developed.

My resolution today would ensure that when people make the decision to buy that first-time home, it could be a resale so that they could choose to live in Scarborough Centre, for example, where roughly 40% of my constituents are tenants. Many of those who are choosing to eventually enter the home market are literally discriminated against from purchasing a home within, say, Scarborough Centre because there's just not the land available for new homes.

It's something that I think is very important for all of us being part of a government that is bringing about jobs, hope, growth and opportunity for all Ontarians, to consider. This is exactly the type of measure that's needed to create jobs.

When we look at a transaction of a resale home, or any home for that matter, there is about $17,000 worth of economic activity that goes through various fees. There are legal fees -- we're not here to drum up business for the lawyers today by any means, that's not what this is about -- there are land surveying fees; people may choose to buy a new fridge or a new stove or other appliances; there are draperies, broadloom, all sorts of potential spinoffs by having a resolution like this included in the 1998 budget. I think it's very important.

I received a letter on November 11 this year from the Ontario Real Estate Association. It's addressed to me. It says, "I'm writing to you today to offer you the support of the Ontario Real Estate Association and its 38,000 members province-wide for your private member's resolution extending the current land transfer tax rebate to purchasers of resale homes."

They go on in this letter to say that this makes housing affordable for many people. If we look at the $1,725, which I believe is the maximum rebate allowed today, which will run out March 31, 1998, that's after-tax dollars so they would have had to make roughly twice that amount to actually realize that $1,725 -- I guess a little lower than that now, since we've cut taxes in this province. If they chose to use that as part of the down payment, the savings on that $1,725 over a 25-year amortized mortgage, even at the rates today, if it averaged, say, 9% over a 25-year amortized mortgage, are significant to many people in Ontario. That would be just the kind of stimulus that's needed to ensure they make that jump into the housing market and buy a resale home.

As well, the York Region Real Estate Board sent me a letter. I know real estate boards and many organizations follow what happens here in the Legislature. They said to me:

"Mr Newman, I hope that the enclosed petition will help you in your endeavour to extend the land transfer tax to both new homes and resale homes for the first-time buyer. There has been very positive support from our membership and we support you 100%."

That's signed by Jane Doyle, the chairman of the political action committee of the York Region Real Estate Board. She's here today, I understand. Yes, she is. There she is. They have even come here today to see what we're doing.

Several of the members of their association filled in petitions. Jim Wessel from Countrywide for Huronia writes: "The current rebate is totally unfair and discriminatory toward first-time buyers who don't buy, or more importantly can't afford, a new home. It should be available to all purchasers who qualify under the first-time buyers plan, regardless of a new or resale home purchase." I think this gentleman is right on when he says that.

There were several other people. I think there were several hundred petitions I had received. One of them is actually from a former member of this House. He was the member for Willowdale from 1987-90, Gino Matrundola. He says that it's of vital importance that the land transfer tax rebate program for first-time home buyers go on to include resale homes. So we have a former member of this House of the Liberal Party supporting tax cuts and seeing that they do create jobs for people.

I'm going to be very interested today to see how all members in this House vote, whether they vote in favour of a measure like this which promotes job creation in this province. I see the Liberals are shaking their heads. I know they still haven't read the article by Patrick Monahan, who worked in David Peterson's office, that showed the taxpayers of Ontario have more money by asking taxpayers to pay less tax. I think they ought to read that article.

It's a very important issue in our riding of Scarborough Centre and right across Ontario. It was brought in in the 1996 budget and extended to the 1997 budget. When you look at the land transfer tax, it constitutes a significant portion of the closing costs for first-time buyers. That's money the government takes for the transfer of property. With the program we have today, it literally discriminates against those people who want to buy a resale home.


When you look at resale homes there are many people who may wish to make renovations to that home. With those renovations come many other jobs that people would want to see happen in their communities. Increasing the limit in terms of the purchase price would allow those people to chose to stay in Toronto. Madam Speaker, I know you would be very interested to know that this would help preserve the urban core within Metro and keep people and young families living here in Toronto. I think that's a very important item to consider.

As I mentioned, yes there are professional fees that are paid to lawyers and appraisers and real estate agents and surveyors, and these all contribute to our economy in a very significant way. As I mentioned, appliances, furnishings, other durable goods, renovations, all these create jobs in every one of our communities. I think we should be standing up today for our communities and for jobs in our communities by voting for this resolution.

It's something I hope the Minister of Finance, whether it passes or it doesn't pass, considers when he is preparing for the 1998 budget --

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I suspect he will.

Mr Newman: The member for St Catharines says he suspects he will and I hope you're right that he does consider what people are saying about this resolution, because it is something that is very important, that not only affects rural Ontario, but affects urban Ontario as well, probably in a more significant way in areas where there just isn't the land available to build housing so that people have the opportunity to stay in Scarborough.

We have had new developments in my riding. There are about two of them. They've come since 1995 when the economy picked up in this province. Besides those two, there is really not a lot of extra land available where new housing can go. I'm really doing this for my constituents in Scarborough Centre who are first-time buyers so that they have that opportunity to stay in Scarborough Centre, to be part of a great community and to partake in all the great things that we have to offer.

I would ask all members if they would -- this is private member's business; these are not whipped votes by any means --

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): No such thing.

Mr Newman: "No such thing," the member for York-Mackenzie says, and you're right. On this side, there is no such thing as a whipped vote. You would want to know, Madam Speaker, that this is something on which I hope all members put aside their party allegiances -- I know the leaders of the other parties are probably telling them, "Don't vote for this because it's a tax cut and we can't be seen as being in favour of tax cuts." But I say, put that all aside and vote for this bill. You'll see the benefits in your community. The benefits will come in the increased economic activity and jobs.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Bradley: I want to tell the member, first of all, to make him and a lot of people happy, that I happen to agree with this resolution. This resolution makes far more sense than the silly income tax break. You know why this is good? I want to say to the member for Scarborough Centre, it is good because it will have a direct impact. It will prompt people to make a direct purchase. We will see a direct benefit from this particular tax measure that you cannot guarantee with the income tax cut, which benefits the wealthiest people in our society to the greatest extent because, in real dollars, they are going to get the most back from it. This helps people who are often not the wealthiest people in our society, who want to get into a new home situation -- new for them at least.

This is exactly the kind of targeted tax measure which can have some benefit, unlike the ridiculous 30% income tax cut which is causing the provincial government to close hospitals in this province, to de-fund hospitals, to not provide enough money for home care in the Niagara region, where people are now calling my constituency office and asking, "Where is the service that we expected in home care?" In this regard I want to support the minister responsible for seniors' issues in getting the adequate amount of money from Mike Harris and from Ernie Eves for the program that he wants to implement. That is something we've been looking at.

I would say as well that if the government had followed the member for Scarborough Centre's recommendation as contained in this resolution instead of the income tax cut, then we wouldn't have the government cutting another two thirds of a billion dollars from the education system in this province. Even though they said they weren't going to cut any money from education and they sent all of their members around to the meetings saying, "Oh, Bill 160 has nothing to do with cutting money out of education," a week later, when the Premier said that's what it is about, they had to go back with a new script. I didn't blame them for not wanting to show up at the rallies and the public meetings and so on, based on the fact that the tune had to change. I was waiting for an invitation from my friend from St Catharines-Brock. He had a forum in Virgil, Ontario, a wonderful place, and he didn't invite me to it. I couldn't believe it. I was available that evening and I could have gone. It probably got lost in the mail, because I know he would have wanted me to be at that forum.

That doesn't have much to do with the resolution, and that's unfortunate, because I'm an individual who likes to speak directly to matters before the House instead of heading into different things. I know that this measure, which is targeted to people and will allow more people to move into what is for them a new home -- the building may not be new but for them a new home -- may have that kind of economic stimulus which would allow more revenue to come in to the government so that they could solve the problem we have in the Niagara region of the heart patients who are sitting in intensive care units waiting to get to Hamilton for an angiogram, because in Hamilton there is a huge backlog.

Perhaps this will stimulate the economy because it's a direct tax measure which can have a positive effect, as opposed to the income tax cut where somebody can squirrel it away in an RRSP or head for a holiday in Aruba or something of that nature. This is targeted, and I'm glad to see that the member has found out that that's the appropriate kind of tax measure that we should have.

If the member can persuade the government now to abandon its millions of dollars of blatant partisan advertising on behalf of this government, particularly attacking certain segments of our society in Ontario, like the teachers who must deliver front-line services, if they would save money from that, they wouldn't have to worry about the short-term consequences of a little bit of revenue loss they would see as a result of this measure. So I support it and I think the member should inform the Treasurer of my views on this, and his.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I rise this morning to address the issue brought before the House by the member for Scarborough Centre with some disappointment and concern that we in this House these days do not seem to have the kind of time that is required to address some of the major initiatives of this government that are going to affect the everyday lives of ordinary citizens in a way that is going to be in some instances very dramatic; in other instances perhaps not so dramatic, yet it will have an effect on them, on their families and on their children.

It disappoints me to come here each Thursday morning in the context of the world that we in Ontario live in today, which is becoming more and more disconcerting and confusing for many people. There is a level of anxiety in my own constituents, and as I travel the province and walk the streets of Toronto from time to time to see what's going on and talk to folks that I meet, a level of anxiety that is unprecedented, a level of fear by people who have been caught up in the vortex of a system that is less and less supportive of people and families and by people who are afraid that within a very short period of time they themselves will be caught in that.


I see the kind of initiative that is being brought to us to debate by the members across the way that really has nothing in it to address the very serious concern that faces everybody. If you attack the very core of a society, the people whom that society is built around, the people whom that society is developed to serve, you come close to deteriorating it in a way that causes the whole thing to collapse. To have a piece of legislation such as the piece that we have before us today here, which is obviously not going to do anything to address that serious issue, the issue of, for example, homelessness in the province in a way that will see more quality homes being built and provided and presented to the people who need them most, concerns me.

So today, in my few moments of comment on this bill, you will note that I will be referencing the larger context within which this bill is expected to unfold. I will be referencing very clearly a piece of legislation that will be coming at us in the next week or two -- before Christmas, I might add, a time of year when all of us should be feeling a sense of generosity, a sense of caring that is different than any other time in the year. That we would be entertaining the passing of Bill 142 at this time of year, that it will have such a dramatic and negative impact on those most vulnerable and most at risk in our society is what I will be --

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: With all respect to the member, and I'm not being trivial, this is private members' hour. It's a very important hour for members who aren't ministers, in fact, or critics --

The Deputy Speaker: Could you get to your point of order.

Mr O'Toole: I would prefer if the member would comment specifically on the private member's resolution before us. There is a time and a place, and I respect that, for your messages.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.

Mr O'Toole: If you would, Madam Speaker, please ensure the speaker comments with respect to the resolution.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. It is a point of order. I would ask the member for Sault Ste Marie to come back to the private member's resolution at hand this morning.

Mr Martin: I certainly will, but before I do that I want to comment on the fact that the member did get up in the House here this morning and challenge me re my right, my ability to speak in this House as compassionately and as forcefully and as caringly about those things that concern me most and into which pieces of legislation such as the one that's presented to us this morning must fit.

It actually helps me make the point that I was about to make before the member stood up. If you'll remember, earlier this week I was standing in this House to make a point of concern that was brought to me by my constituents, and a member of the governing party told me to sit down. What we're finding here in this House these days, particularly we in the third party, is that we are getting less and less time to talk on those things that concern us most.

For example, in the last two or three days we've had two pieces of legislation that have gone through this House that are of major concern to the question of housing in the province. We in the third party yesterday didn't even get to speak because the rules of this place have been changed, and with the time allocations that you have brought in in order to ram through your legislation so that we don't get a chance to have a look at it, to speak on behalf of our constituents to it, to put on the record in this place our concerns so that the people of Ontario might understand how this is going to ultimately impact them directly once it comes into effect, we don't get a chance to speak on that.

The Deputy Speaker: Could I ask the member for Sault Ste Marie to come back to debating the resolution at hand this morning.

Mr Martin: Well, Speaker, I hope you're not --

The Deputy Speaker: No, member for Sault Ste Marie. I give all members some leeway in debate, but you have not come to the resolution at hand at all this morning and I would ask you now to do that.

Mr Martin: You're making it very difficult for me, Speaker, and I hope that you're not --

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Sault Ste Marie, come on now. I've asked you twice and it is a legitimate point of order. Would you please speak to the resolution at hand. As I said, I always give members lots of leeway, but you must at some time during this discussion speak about the bill. I would ask you to do so now.

Mr Martin: This is private members' hour, Speaker, and I'm led to believe that it is a time when we can free-wheel a bit and talk and put on the record some of our comments, because this resolution, this piece of business that we're dealing with here this morning, will have a major and dramatic negative impact on the people that we over on this side of the House are most concerned about when it comes to the question of housing and homelessness.

The Deputy Speaker: I'm sorry. Member for Sault Ste Marie, I would ask you --


The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Member for Sault Ste Marie, I would ask you to speak to the resolution, please.

Mr Martin: I tell you, Speaker, I am trying desperately to speak to this resolution, but the members opposite, actually supported by yourself and your rulings, are not letting me speak to this resolution.

I've already lost at least three or four minutes in this absolutely useless exchange that we've had because the members of the government are afraid in this House, consistently over the last few days, to face the truth. We are not allowed any more to speak on pieces of legislation that come before us here. Over the last three days we've had three major bills go through this House that we have not had a chance to put on the record our thoughts and comments on.

This morning, in speaking to the resolution that's before us --

Mr Klees: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: The member fully knows that his leader was kicked out of this House and that's why he didn't have an opportunity to speak further. That's why --

The Deputy Speaker: That's not a point of order. Member for York-Mackenzie, take your seat. This is getting out of hand. Let's remember this is private members' hour. I would ask again the member for Sault Ste Marie to come to order and come back to the resolution at hand.

Mr Martin: To get back to the resolution just ever so briefly so that I might have a right to put on the record my concerns re this piece of legislation, or this piece of work or resolution, and how it indicates a complete lack of sensitivity by the government about the issues that are concerning most of the folks out there today, we have a province that is in total chaos and yet we get this kind of resolution that, yes, has some significance for some folks, I agree, in this province. In fact we have a letter that I keep raising here sent to the member bringing this piece of work forward by the Ontario Real Estate Association, an organization that has certainly some credibility and has done some very excellent work in my community.

I would like to see them at least once in their time here and with the time they have bring a letter forward by a poverty activist group out there, by somebody representing the ordinary middle-class Ontario resident out there re some of the initiatives they bring forward. All of the initiatives that they have brought forward in the last two and a half years while they've been government, and no less in the housing sector, have created a situation now where we have homelessness in our province. If that's not connected in some way to this piece of work this morning, I'll eat my hat. Homelessness in this province is at a 30-year high.


The member for Sudbury has just given me a statistical piece of information. In Sault Ste Marie, the actual housing starts have gone down by 29% in October of this year. If that's good news or if that's something that this government wants to prop up or roll out there as some kind of public relations spin re the economy that's beginning to take fire and ignite in the province, then I'm sorry, I've missed the point. I don't understand.

To suggest for a minute that the piece of work that we have in front of us today in any way enhances the public good out there -- which is what government should be about, putting in place regulations and rules and a framework within which a society can evolve and develop so that all of us who consider that that particular piece of the country or province that we live in our home -- I think they're not acting in the way that government was expected to act when it was first developed.

Speaker, the reason I am so concerned and upset and speaking in this way and challenging you in the chair and the members who keep heckling and raising points here about my points is that I attended at 10 o'clock this morning a press conference down in the media studio where a group of anti-poverty activists from the Niagara region spoke very eloquently and compassionately and clearly about the effect and the impact of Bill 142 on them and the people they speak for. They were saying that because they don't have the kind of resources behind them that the government obviously does and that groups like the teachers' federations in the province have in their fight against this government re the question of Bill 160, which is an important fight to have, they cannot get their voice heard.

So stretching the parameters here this morning, I am taking just a moment to express on their behalf the real concerns we have as a party re the impact of Bill 142 on those in our community who are most vulnerable and most at risk when it comes to any diminishing of the social safety fabric that we've all worked so hard, over a long number of years in Ontario, to put in place so that those who find themselves in that situation are protected, and those of us who are afraid that within a matter of weeks or months we may find ourselves in that situation, have something that will catch us and help us through that transition.

This morning, to have to come once again before this House as the third party, so concerned about the impact of the initiatives of this government on those out there for whom we speak probably most often in this place, the poor and the vulnerable and the marginalized and those who find themselves in need of assistance -- it's just not talked about, and we're not going to get a chance. Bill 142 will be before us here within the next week or two, and if the trend continues as we've seen this week, we will not get a chance, because of the changes in the rules, because of the time allocation motions in front of us, to actually put our thoughts on the record.

This morning I say to Mr Newman, please go back to your constituency and talk to those people whom you also represent who are going to be affected negatively and drastically and dramatically by Bill 142.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. Further debate, the member for Durham East.

Mr O'Toole: On a special side note, Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for your consistency in your rulings with respect to this place -- very fairminded.

It's a pleasure to have been asked by my colleague the member for Scarborough-Centre, Mr Newman, to speak on his resolution this morning. Very specifically, for the viewers today, it is: "That in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should extend its program for rebate of the land transfer tax for all first-time home buyers who purchase a newly constructed home," which is something we already do in Ontario. But Mr Newman has gone one step further to serve the people of his riding, indeed all Ontarians, to include all first-time buyers of resale homes. He's explained in some elaborate detail the important ripple effect or multiplier effect in the local economy, indeed in the economy of Ontario.

Let me make it perfectly clear: This government is working with small business and those people on the front line trying to create jobs and hope and opportunity in this province.

Really, in honesty, when Mr Newman asked me to comment on his resolution, I was more than pleased, because I know a number of members who probably could have done a more than adequate job, but we work together.

What we're always looking for is not to interrupt the balance of the market. The market is a very sensitive balance between supply and demand, and of course a number of factors influence that, such as the land transfer tax cost. That's a cost, a discretionary charge, that could be considered a barrier to growth. But you have to look at the interest rates, you must look at the brokerage fees and you must look at the GST-PST implications of all transactions in our economy. All those represent an opportunity for all the stakeholders, whether it's the real estate brokers or other agencies involved, lawyers, to look at their fee schedules to see if they can make the cost of doing business more competitive. Keep the eye on the customer; most customers are our constituents.

You must be careful not to interfere and to overstimulate the market either. My understanding today is that in my riding of Durham East there is certainly a very active market and new home sales are very active -- a lot of migration to the Durham region, an excellent place to live, to work, to enjoy your life and to raise a family.

Mr Bradley from St Catharines mentioned that it is a direct stimulus when you intervene. When a sector is struggling, whether it's the auto sector -- at times, the governments have looked at the interest rate in that sector or other stimuli, tax reductions. This is one other option that Mr Newman is bringing forward to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

I support the theme and thrust behind this. I want that arsenal of tools within the hands of the minister to exercise, to make sure that very important part of our community and our whole economy is there at his beck and call.

Respectfully, I want to start by recognizing that we as a caucus have been kept informed by many of the hard-working, front-line people in the real estate sector, not the least of whom is Jane Doyle, from the York board, who is here with us this morning in support of this resolution as the way to do business in this province. We also have Jerry England, from the Toronto Real Estate Board, and Robert Storring, from the Ontario Real Estate Association.

But to me, I have to work with the people locally in my riding of Durham East. Lucien Lambier, who is the president of the Durham Region Real Estate Board, a very positive part of our local economy, working with small business. Indeed, what Mr Newman said is true: All his transactions result in other people being employed.

That's an important part of the economy in every one of our ridings. I'm surprised that the member for Sault Ste Marie doesn't realize just how important this is, for the very reasons you suggest. The best plan for helping someone is a job. That's the best plan.

In my riding I deal with Walter Frank, a very widely recognized, leading person from Clarington with respect to real estate; Ken Hockin, a long-time, well-known, well-respected businessman creating many jobs and opportunities for people; George Van Dyk; Keith Puckrin; Cliff Crowell.

Other people in my area: Betty Morrison is a long-time citizen who has come out of another career into the real estate market, just loves it, works with people, new home buyers and first-time home buyers, to find their home. That's an important aspect of our community. Murray Patterson is another person who's continually calling me and saying, "John, we've got to make sure our economy is working," and he's not in any selfish way looking after himself. He sees the importance of small business, of those real estate people and other servants of our community to try and create jobs, hope and opportunity. Bill Daniels, Bob Hahn and other members of our community are important contributors to this economy. They create jobs, opportunity and hope. I think Mr Newman's resolution goes a long way to saying our economy is on track.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'm pleased to rise and share a few ideas and points with regard to this resolution. Let me say from the outset that I'm going to be supporting this resolution because I think it's a very good direction to be moving in. I have a few concerns about a few of the givens in the resolution and I'm going to address those. But underlying all those concerns is the fact that I am going to be supporting the resolution.

The first given I have is with regard to the creation of jobs. I would be concerned if I were on the other side, the governing side, when I look at statistics which say that the number of people unemployed now is greater than when your government took over. There were 494,000 people unemployed; there are now 504,000 people unemployed. That's a given I would be concerned about. You promised 725,000 jobs. If you are to create 725,000 jobs as promised during your mandate, at this point in time you should have created 336,000 jobs. You are 130,000 jobs short of that number. I would be concerned about that fact as well.

On a more parochial level, I'm very concerned about the effect it's having on my community of Sudbury, where the unemployment rate has grown to 9.1%. That's higher than the Canadian average of 8.2%. I'm suggesting to you that you can do a lot more with regard to job creation. In fact, I don't think you should be publicizing how proud you are about ensuring that Sudbury and northern Ontario have such a high unemployment rate.

But having said that, let's move to another given I have concerns about, and that's with regard to the given that says the current land transfer tax rebate program discriminates against first-time home buyers of resale homes. I agree with that, and that's why I'm supporting this resolution, because there shouldn't be discrimination.

Yet within the resolution -- and I know it's not intended, because I asked the member why northern Ontario wasn't included in the lifting of the ceiling of the land transfer tax rebate through the Ontario home ownership savings plan, other than the greater Toronto area. He honestly suggested to me that northern Ontario wasn't part of the original resolution. I hope it's only an oversight; if not, I have to suggest that the resolution is discriminatory against northern Ontario, and God knows we live that only too often as we go through the mandate of the Harris government.

I'll give you some boring Sudbury statistics, but they're important statistics I'm using for my rationalization of the fact that I am supporting a resolution from the member of the government side. Paul Prosperi, the market analyst for CMHC, says, "Until sustained increases in housing demand begins to whittle away at the current supply of housing, new construction activity will remain slow." This is a very tangible way to ensure that we whittle away at the resale market we have out there. We haven't been very successful in residential construction in Sudbury; we're down 23%, Sault Ste Marie is down 29%, from January to October in Sudbury we were down 17%. I would suggest that since we have homes on the resale market, let's provide as much stimulation as possible to ensure that they are sold so that hopefully we can create construction jobs. This may be a positive way of doing it, so I'll support the resolution.

There is also a stimulus in here for the move-up buyer to become interested in increasing the square footage of the home he presently has. For example, now there is a stimulus to move from the 1,200-square-foot home to the 1,500-square-foot home to the 2,000-square-foot home etc, and that's why I think it's essential that you lift that $200,000 ceiling for all people in Ontario, not only in the greater Toronto area.

Finally, I suggest that the 1.5% of the cost of the home, which is the land rebate tax, is very crucial to the young buyer who is just starting out. He or she can use that towards the down payment and not be saddled with debt.

I will be supporting the resolution even though I feel there are some weaknesses in it.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Madam Deputy Speaker, I don't believe I've had the occasion to congratulate you on your new position, so I'd like to do so: the first woman Deputy Speaker, and indeed the constituents in Riverdale must be very proud of their new Deputy Speaker.

I'm also pleased to commend my colleague the member for Scarborough Centre for his ongoing commitment to the plight of working families in his community. The incredible tax burden they face because of a whole host of taxes at all levels causes him great concern, as I know it causes many of my colleagues equal concern. We simply have got to stop the taxing war on the middle class in this province, and I certainly share that with him.

I was extremely interested, as I know all members were, to hear one of the Liberal members opposite state that tax cuts stimulate the economy. This is a remarkable achievement, that two and a half years into the time of this Parliament and after all the tax cuts for small business, for working families, for new home buyers, we're finally seeing that the message is starting to resonate over in the opposition benches, where one member actually suggested that tax cuts stimulate the economy. I hadn't heard that from the Liberal Party since about two weeks before the election, so it's good to see that they are beginning to follow through on those issues.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): They're starting to realize that the voters like it.

Mr Baird: The member for Kitchener says that the voters like tax cuts. They like tax cuts because it creates jobs. He's very right.

On the specific issue that my colleague has raised in his resolution, I wanted to provide some important background to the land transfer tax refund. In last year's budget the government extended the refund that was first introduced in the 1996 budget. The program was designed to assist first-time home buyers in the purchase of a newly constructed home and to help create jobs in the building, furnishing and equipping of newly constructed homes. The original time limit of the program was designed to encourage a more immediate response to the refund and a faster stimulus to the new housing sector.

The construction and real estate sectors are leading employment growth in the province. There are 250,000 net new jobs, and it has been led by the construction sector, particularly in residential homes. So far this year, we've seen an average of 55,000 home starts, and that's impressive. When you look at the charts contained in last year's budget, 36,000 new homes were started in 1995, this year it's up to 56,000, and by 1999 it's scheduled to rise to 65,000. That's some very solid economic growth. The new home construction market is a central part of the province's job creation strategy.

I have some thoughts to put on the record for each of us to reflect on in relation to the resolution my colleague the member for Scarborough Centre has put before us. There was a decision taken in the 1996 budget, and then confirmed in the 1997 budget, to focus the program on newly constructed homes. That was a very strategic decision. There's a substantial economic spinoff from both new and resale homes. As the member for Scarborough Centre mentioned, there's $17,000 worth of economic spinoffs to the economy on a resale home. As considerable as that is, there's even more on newly constructed homes, with 2.8 years of work for every newly constructed home in the province. That's substantial, because those jobs are desperately needed right across the province. So the decision to go for strategic investment in new homes was an important one. In my riding, we're seeing a lot of new homes go up in Longfields, Davidson Heights and Chapman Mills.

I think there's substantial agreement that extending the program to resale homes might be akin to pushing a wheel that's already going down a hill. Look at the condition of the resale market. Last year, there was a 30% increase in resale homes. The tax cut in my riding, once completed, will add about $170 a month to the average family in Nepean's pocket. That's almost akin to the cost of lower interest rates. So the $170 off the cost of carrying a house from lower interest rates and the $170 off the average home in my constituency on income tax for working families is a considerable amount more money in their pockets. The interest rates are at a 30-year low, back to 1965 levels.

Prices have fallen too. In 1989 the average price was $196,000; in August 1996 it's $160,000. Prices for resale homes are of course already demonstrably lower than those of newly constructed homes. Some 75% of first-time home buyers prefer to buy new homes. This change could potentially reduce that choice and more people could go into the resale housing market, and that could potentially cause harm to the job and economic growth we've seen in new home construction, which is something that would cause us to reflect.

Also, through the land transfer tax refund, we want to provide an incentive for prospective purchasers to act quickly and thus solicit an immediate response and immediate injection of economic activity into our economy. This skid may not need any grease.

Having said that, the solid housing rebound in recent years and the 30% increase in resale home sales last year are examples that the housing sector is doing well. The debate this morning is certainly something that will be extremely helpful to the Minister of Finance as he begins consultations on the preparation of the budget he'll present next year.

With that, there are some concerns members may want to reflect on as they undertake consideration of this resolution brought forward by my colleague the member for Scarborough Centre.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I am pleased to join the debate on the resolution of the member for Scarborough Centre. I'd like to say at the outset that I'm in support of the resolution as well as the content of the resolution itself, for a number of reasons, some of which have already been addressed by previous members. It's not only the economic benefit, as has been mentioned, but I think it makes good common sense, if I can put it that way, for the members across. This is a fatherhood or motherhood issue, and I think we should be doing everything possible to make it attractive, especially for new home buyers.

I have a couple of points, because I only have three minutes left. Number one is, yes, we should extend the benefits that first-time home buyers are enjoying now. We should extend that. We should include resale homes as well, especially when you mention the city of Toronto where you can only get a condominium or maybe a semi-detached two-storey or stuff like that for less than $200,000.

Especially in the city of Toronto where we are trying to concentrate a residential community in the core of the urban area, where we have spent billions of dollars building facilities, community centres and art centres, where all the amenities are, I think it's important we maintain that residential component in the core in the city of Toronto. It's important as well that we don't put a ceiling, that we don't put a limit, a cap, on the $200,000. We should go beyond that.

There is a buyer for every house. Therefore, if they resell it in a city or town or downtown Toronto, people have to move on either to another resale or to a new home in the outer regions. It makes sense that we extend the benefits to first-time home buyers of resale homes. As I said before, and as others have said, the benefits are many. We can think of the construction spinoffs, of the additions. It's quite normal that purchasers, especially first-time buyers, move into a resale and there are a number of things they want to change. They want to adapt that home to their needs. They may add a kitchen or a bathroom. They may remove walls. They may want to put in a garage or a number of things. I don't have to tell you the economic spinoffs that would go along with that. It's also important because that existing community has all the amenities in place. It's got schools, so it would attract new families; it would attract younger families with kids as well. It does make sense.

With respect to the limit, it's something that should improve the situation all over the place. I would tell the member who has introduced the resolution that this is something that could be and should be done immediately. I don't think the minister needs to wait until 1998, or has to include it in the budget. It is something the minister can do now, by resolution, without coming to this chamber. That would be a big boost, as we can see from the response the member has received from the various organizations. That would be a big boost, not only for the home buyers but for the industry in general.

In congratulating the member, I would urge that he bring this to the attention of the minister and say: "Look, don't wait until you bring in the budget some time in 1998. You can do it now by resolution, telling the entire community out there that we can do it now and that we are offering it." I would urge the member to bring it to the attention of the minister, and do it now.

Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): I'm glad to have the opportunity to speak to this issue today. I'd also like to thank the member for Scarborough Centre, Mr Newman, for bringing this resolution forward. As the honourable members of this Legislature are aware, Oshawa and the region of Durham are growing at a rapid pace. In fact, it's one of the fastest growing regions in the province. Much of this growth comes from young families who are looking for their first home.

The current land transfer tax refund, which has been extended to March 31, 1998, has helped a large number of young families. Over 11,000 refunds have been issued to first-time home buyers in Ontario. This initiative has been highly successful in assisting young families in the purchase of their first home.

The land transfer tax refund has not only benefited young families; it has also, along with other initiatives to reduce government red tape, stimulated housing starts in the region of Durham, and Oshawa, as well as the entire province. Housing starts in the area are the highest they've been in the last 10 years. This is certainly encouraging from a construction industry that accounts for nearly 10% of the local labour force. Since August 1996, Ontario has led the country in job creation in the construction industry with over 29,000 jobs. Over the first eight months of 1997, housing starts in Ontario were up by over 33%. In addition, there is an economic benefit to the real estate industry and other components of the service sector.

I meet with many of the local industry stakeholders, such as the Oshawa-Durham Home Builders' Association and real estate and property management groups, on a regular basis to discuss issues surrounding the housing industry. I am often told during these discussions that more needs to be done to assist young families starting out and trying to purchase their first home.

As my colleague from Scarborough Centre indicates in his resolution, first-time home buyers buy a significant number of resale homes. This resolution not only calls for the extension of the rebate program through to 1999, but it also calls for the rebate to be extended to first-time home buyers who purchase a resale home.

A rebate on resale homes would assist young families starting out and looking to purchase their first home. A saving of $1,228, which is the average refund return to date, is, for a young family starting out, quite significant. For the many of my constituents who are seeking to purchase a first home in the city of Oshawa, a rebate on a resale home could be an important consideration in the decision about the type and location of the house they choose to purchase.

Within the heart of the city of Oshawa, opportunities for new housing starts are limited by an already developed urban centre, so a young family must look for their first home in the outlying parts of the city in order to take advantage of the land transfer tax refund. Extending the rebate to include resale homes would support young families by allowing them to take advantage of the rebate wherever they choose to purchase their first home.

The success of the land transfer tax refund in terms of its benefit to local economies in Oshawa and Durham is clear. This same initiative has seen the average young family have $1,228 more in its pocket after the purchase of a first home than it otherwise would have had.

The benefits from extending the land transfer tax refund to the local economy and to the finances of a young family starting out for the first home are significant. I support the resolution brought forward by my colleague Mr Newman, from Scarborough Centre.

The Deputy Speaker: Mr Newman, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Newman: I want to thank all the members who are here today to listen to the debate, especially those who participated in the debate on this resolution.

I'd like to thank the member for St Catharines. I will inform the Treasurer of this province that he is in favour of the resolution.

I thank the member for Sault Ste Marie for his comments, although they had nothing to do with this resolution. I listened very attentively for four words: "land transfer tax rebate." I didn't hear them, but I appreciate his comments, although they had nothing to do with it.

I always appreciate the comments of the member for Durham East, whom I've had the good fortune of sitting beside for two and a half years. I've enjoyed sitting beside him.

I appreciate the comments from the member for Sudbury, and his support. I thought he might have wanted to say that there are some 250,000 more people in this province who have jobs today than in June 1995. When he works on his numbers, he might want to see that there are more people coming to this province. They're coming to the province because it's a province of hope, growth and opportunity.

Over the 10 years from 1985 to 1995, we've seen taxes increase 65 times, and the debt increase by $70 billion. But since we've been in office there have been 30 tax cuts, and the province is definitely getting in order. There's no intention of excluding northern Ontario, because I have many friends in northern Ontario and I'm sure they would be the first ones to tell me.

The member for Nepean, and also the member for Yorkview -- I appreciated his comments. He said it was common sense, and this is a resolution, so therefore he's in favour of a commonsense resolution. I appreciate that. He had some very good views on the strong urban core and the jobs aspect of what this resolution would do.

The member for Oshawa -- I always appreciate his comments. I've enjoyed sitting in this block of three seats since June 1995 with him. He talked about the effect it would have on young families, and making a decision on where they live.

I would encourage all members to vote for this resolution.

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

Mr Newman has moved private member's resolution number 105. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

All matters relating to private members' public business having been completed, I now leave the chair, and the House will resume at 1:30.

The House recessed from 1201 to 1332.


Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Northern Development and Mines): Mr Speaker, I have a message from the Administrator of the government signed by his own hand.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The Administrator of the government transmits supplementary estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1998, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): If there is one positive thing that could be said about this government's bullying tactics to make Bill 160 the law of the land, it is that it has provoked an unprecedented level of protest which has crossed all boundaries of our society.

In my community of Thunder Bay the battle to fight Bill 160 rages on, with teachers, parents, students, citizens of all ages and all political stripes working together to stop Mike Harris from destroying our public education system.

Bill 160 is not just flawed; it's anti-democratic, probably unconstitutional and certainly very dangerous in its clear goals of ripping funding from our classrooms and centralizing complete control in the Premier's office.

I want to thank the people of Thunder Bay for not giving up this incredibly important fight -- like the 700 students at Hillcrest High who yesterday held an information rally outside their school on a cold November day; the 52 parent councils in Thunder Bay that publicly stated their strong opposition to Bill 160; the parents who launched the green ribbon campaign in our community; and to the organizers of the Flashlight March to be held tonight in Thunder Bay. They know we just can't back down.

Let me finish my remarks by quoting from Eileen and Gordon Scott, two Thunder Bay seniors who marched on the picket lines with the teachers and who continue to fight this bill:

"Many of us fought a great war for democracy and freedom -- not for a dictatorship that threatens us now. This bill threatens the freedom that we fought for."

Shame on you, Mike Harris. You're not fooling anyone. Mr and Mrs Scott are upset and so are all of us here in the Liberal caucus, and all of us across the province.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): This morning a number of students from the école secondaire Renaissance were here in Toronto to bring a special message to the Premier and to the Minister of Education about how they feel about Bill 160.

The students at that school, along with students at other francophone high schools across Ontario, have gathered a different kind of petition-signing. They've picked up broken pens, pencils, rulers, school benches, school supplies that are in bad condition because of the money that is not being spent in our system of education, and have signed those particular items as a way of protesting to the government the attack this government is having vis-à-vis Bill 160.

I want to thank Tina Landers, Natalie Hamelin and Natalie Michaud from l'école secondaire Renaissance from the city of Timmins, who have come down here in order to bring their opposition to this government directly as to what they are doing with Bill 160.

Quand on voit les étudiants de la province de l'Ontario qui se joignent à ce qui se passe dans cette province quand ça vient à l'opposition à la Loi 160, ça nous dit que le gouvernement a encore manqué le but ; encore il n'écoute pas. Il n'écoute pas les parents, il n'écoute pas les étudiants, il n'écoute pas les contribuables. Le moindre que le gouvernement puisse faire, quand ça vient à la question d'éducation, c'est écouter les élèves, ceux qui sont supposés de bénéficier de notre système d'éducation. Si le gouvernement ne veut pas le faire, on se demande, sont-ils engagés quand ça vient à l'éducation ?


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): It is with great pleasure that I rise in the House to wish the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team success at the 1998 winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The 1998 winter Olympics will be the first time that women's hockey has been included as an Olympic sport. These ground-breaking young women hockey players know the importance of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They are the best in Canada. We think they are the best in the world.

It is crucial to mention the debt women's hockey owes to the late Rose Cherry, the wife of hockey legend Don Cherry. Rose was instrumental in helping women's hockey grow as a national sport. She believed in the equality of gender for all sports. Every person should have the chance to play Canada's national game. Rose was a quiet inspiration, mostly behind the scenes. Rose and Don Cherry have done great work for women's hockey. They have continued to promote female hockey and are great supporters.

Rose encouraged her husband to tell the public that women should be treated fairly in our national game. To honour Rose Cherry, all the Canadian female hockey players at the 1998 winter Olympics will wear a rose on their sweaters. I encourage all female hockey teams to do the same. To the members of the 1998 Canadian women's Olympic team, may the spirit of Rose Cherry be with you.


Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I rise today to bring to the attention of the members of this House yet another achievement of our educational system. I know that other members of this House, like former teacher Brenda Elliott, former teacher Julia Munro, former trustee Bert Johnson and former teacher John Hastings, will understand the significance of this honour.

I am pleased that Glen Park Public School of North York has been named a winner of the Canada Award for Excellence from the National Quality Institute at their conference held October 29. The national awards recognize private and public sector organizations for their outstanding achievements in quality service, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Glen Park is the fourth North York public school to win an NQI award in the last three years. In fact, when two schools won last year, the now-deputy Minister of Education, Veronica Lacey, stated, "These accomplishments serve to remind us that despite the challenges, today's school system can still meet the highest standards of service, quality, continuous improvement and accountability." I want to echo these words and add my congratulations to the school for their increase in student achievement and their focus on student leadership and high levels of participation. I hope all members, especially those who were at the public consultations on Bill 160, will preserve these qualities and the kind of input and accountability that Bill 160 removes from our schools and from our system. I hope that all members will oppose Bill 160.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I would like to congratulate the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Finance, and American Express for preparing what appears to have been the worst voters' list in the history of the city. Because door-to-door enumeration was not done in order to save money, over 100,000 people had to be registered at the polls on November 10 out of a total of approximately 350,000. Many people simply gave up and did not vote because of the long wait. People were deprived of their democratic rights because the list was so inaccurate.

Let me give you an example in my riding. There's a small block of flats on King Street which contains 12 units, Minister of Municipal Affairs. There were 22 names on the list for this building. Of these, five actually live there; three were dead; 11 had moved; one was the former, not the current, owner; and two names were duplicates. Multiply this across the city and you have a good idea of the accuracy of the list.

This situation, in my view, is inexcusable, especially in view of the fact that an updated voters' list existed from the recent federal election. Sydney Baxter, the Toronto city clerk, has laid the blame for this fiasco squarely on the province. He said on CBC Metro Morning: "I have come to the conclusion that they simply do not care." I go further and say this government has bungled it completely.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I am making this statement on behalf of the member for Brant-Haldimand, who just took ill.

It is my privilege to rise today to inform all members of the House that this week is Make a Will Week in Ontario. Make a Will Week is a campaign to raise the public's awareness of the importance of making a will. This unique initiative in Ontario is based on the successful model in the United Kingdom.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario division, the campaign's charitable sponsors, and the Law Society of Upper Canada assisted in creating the program's conceptual framework.

The goals of Make a Will Week are to encourage the public to make a will, to educate the public on the benefits of a lawyer-prepared will, and to motivate lawyers to educate the public about the importance of wills.

Highlights of the public campaign include free initial consultations with a lawyer through the law society's lawyer referral service. The cost for being included has been waived by the law society. In addition, there is a dial-a-law tape program, estate planning seminars and an advertising campaign to raise public awareness.

I want to congratulate all those who have contributed to Make a Will Week and encourage all members of the public to make use of the programs and other educational tools that are available to help us protect our families and loved ones, now and in the future.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): "Hey Mike, show us the real numbers."

Earlier this week this large one-page ad ran in Ontario newspapers protesting against the provincial government's downloading of responsibilities and costs on to municipalities. They're the ones that start with the words, "The province of Ontario is taking actions which will drive up property taxes on homes and businesses."

In the government's power-mad rush to grab control Ontario's school system, their disentanglement plans will dump at least another $670 million in extra costs on to municipalities, causing local property taxes to skyrocket not only in the short term but also in the long term.

Elected officials and citizens across the province, and backbench Tory MPPs too, want more than a pinkie promise from the Premier that this whole exercise will not raise taxes in their municipalities.

Municipal leaders and citizens want the actual, solid information. They want the real financial impact numbers from the province, numbers that include everything: the elimination of municipal support grants, the cost to municipalities of taking over responsibilities for roads and assessment reform, the value of each property.

Once you see these numbers, you see that the exercise is not revenue neutral. It is time that the government wakes up to the reality before it's too late, before this bill becomes law, that it's a fundamental mistake to put the cost of soft services such as social housing and welfare on to property taxes. It's a disaster waiting to happen to our municipalities.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): On Saturday, September 13, a coalition of labour, social justice and faith activists sponsored a Black Saturday Rally in the heart of downtown Parry Sound. The purpose of the rally was to draw public attention to the cost-cutting agenda of the Mike Harris government and to focus on how devastating these cuts are to the very fabric of our communities.

Several hundred people gathered to express their concerns regarding cuts to hospitals, to classrooms, to child care, to social assistance recipients, to hands-on care for seniors in long-term care facilities, to public services like transportation, over and above the very negative impact these cuts are already having on our communities.

Speakers emphasized how the Mike Harris download would also result in cuts to local services and higher property taxes, or a combination of both. It was made very clear that another big cut to education transfers would not only devastate special education, early childhood education and adult education, but would put at serious risk our publicly funded education system itself.

There was broad and strong recognition of the value of public services and public sector jobs, and huge support to protect these, despite the Mike Harris attack on both.

I was pleased to participate at a Black Saturday Rally in March and I was impressed by the turnout in the home town of the finance minister. Congratulations to the organizing committee. As requested, on behalf of the West Parry Sound Women Teachers' Association, I'd like to present this T-shirt to Ernie Eves, Mike Harris and Dave Johnson.


Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): It's with a considerable degree of pride that I rise today to address the 33rd Vanier Cup game, which will be hosted here in Toronto at the SkyDome this Saturday. The Vanier Cup is emblematic of Canadian university football supremacy, and this year eastern Canada is represented by the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual university in North America. Its many graduates serving with distinction in every field of endeavour across this great nation is its proudest accomplishment. I recognize our own Minister of the Environment, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party in this House as members of that august group.

Being a bilingual university, the selection of a nickname was not an easy task. The name was adopted not in honour of its proudest unilingual graduate, I assure you, but it's taken from the school colours of garnet and grey, or, en français, grenat et gris.

This is the Gee-Gees' fourth appearance in the 33-year history of the Vanier Cup, which they last won in 1975. Coach Larry Ring, a member of that 1975 team, joins a select group of coaches: Matt Anthony, Ace Powell, Don Gilbert and Jim Daly, one of a handful of Canadians who has coached in a Grey Cup final.

I call on this assembly to join with me in wishing the Gee-Gees bonne chance.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg leave to inform the House that yesterday the Clerk received the 46th report of the standing committee on government agencies. Pursuant to standing order 105(g)9, the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to remind all members that today is the deadline for filing ballots for private members' public business. If you have misplaced your form, you're out of luck. You'd better find it.


The Speaker: Okay, if you've misplaced your form, the clerks would be happy to provide you with another one.



Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 152, An Act to improve Services, increase Efficiency and benefit Taxpayers by eliminating Duplication and reallocating Responsibilities between Provincial and Municipal Governments in various areas and to implement other aspects of the Government's "Who Does What" Agenda.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted?

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 1348 to 1353.

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


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Brown, Jim

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

Doyle, Ed

Elliott, Brenda

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

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


Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Cordiano, Joseph

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hoy, Pat

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Laughren, Floyd

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

North, Peter

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 58; the nays are 31.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated September 16, 1997, this bill is ordered for third reading.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on public accounts and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill 74, An Act to amend the Audit Act.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed.

Bill 74 is ordered for third reading.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on estimates and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): Mr Kennedy from the standing committee on estimates reports the following resolution:

Resolved, that supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the following ministries and offices be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1998:

Ministry of Health --

Interjections: Dispense.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Dispense.



Hon Margaret Marland (Minister without Portfolio [children's issues]): As minister responsible for children, I rise today in honour of National Child Day.

The government of Canada designated this day to commemorate two historic United Nations events: the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959, and the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on this day in 1989.


The Convention on the Rights of the Child aims to ensure the health and wellbeing of children everywhere. It recognizes children's rights to survival, protection and development.

Today, people across Canada are celebrating our children through special activities and events. They are taking special time to listen to children, to respect them, to marvel at all they have to offer and to rejoice at the special meaning that children bring to our lives. They are taking special time to remember that our children are the most vulnerable members of our society. Everyone in our society has a shared responsibility for the care and protection of our children. They are our hope and dreams for the future.

I am honoured that Premier Harris has demonstrated our government's leadership and commitment to children in the most tangible way possible. The Premier's decision to appoint a minister responsible for children confirms the priority this government is giving to children.

I'm very excited about my new portfolio, which provides me with a unique opportunity to champion the government's actions for improving the wellbeing of Ontario's children. As a mother of three children and a grandmother of five, I am especially pleased with my appointment. Never has there been such a strong political will to put children first. Never has there been such consensus on the public policy agenda for children. Never has there been so much concrete action to help children realize their full potential.

Because it is National Child Day I would like to put my government's commitment to children on the record. A key objective to National Child Day 1997 is to increase understanding of the many factors that affect children's health. We know that one of the most important factors affecting children's health is early intervention and prevention. Our government believes strongly in intervention programs. These programs help children at an early age and help prevent problems later in life. That is why the government allocated $45 million in this year's budget for collaborative early intervention and prevention programs. These include:

Ten million dollars to Healthy Babies, Healthy Children. This universal screening assessment and lay home visiting program, administered by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health, will support expectant parents and families with children from birth to age six.

A $20-million investment in preschool speech and language services for children, another joint effort between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

A $4.6-million ongoing commitment to the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program, which combines the efforts of three ministries, communities and volunteers.

A $10-million grant to the Invest in Kids Foundation to enhance professional training, research and public education and awareness programs.

That is why our government introduced Making Services Work For People. It is a framework that will guide our work as we redesign social services so that children will be able to more readily receive the services they need in their own communities. That is why our government fully participated with the coroner's office and Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies in the Ontario Child Mortality Task Force. The Ministry of Community and Social Services welcomed the comprehensive and constructive recommendations it made in July of this year.

The government continues to address these recommendations, and that is why the Minister of Community and Social Services recently announced that a panel of experts will review child protection issues in the Child and Family Services Act. We are working towards a focused approach to protecting our children.

We know through research that investment in the early years is the foundation for lifelong achievement. This government has already intensified support for preschool children. We want to ensure that support continues for children entering school and in the early grades.

With our new education curriculum, our children will be helped to read, write and spell at an earlier age. Our standard province-wide report card will allow parents to clearly see how their children are doing in school. It will enable parents and teachers to identify learning problems early so that steps may be taken to help.

We also know that when children go to school hungry, they cannot concentrate. When they cannot concentrate, they are unable to learn. That is why our government is providing up to $5 million in startup funding for children's breakfast programs. Already over 26,000 children have been assisted by almost 440 local child nutrition programs.

On the national level, the creation of the national child benefit, a joint federal-provincial initiative, provides Ontario with an opportunity to reinvest resources in children's services. It illustrates that federalism can work and is working. As well, it is a testimony to the power of our shared vision for children. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers have agreed on the design of the national child benefit and are presently working towards an implementation date of July 1, 1998.

All of these initiatives reinvest in our children's futures. What is particularly exciting to me is that every one of them incorporates a unified and coordinated approach to policy development, planning and service delivery, ultimately improving the lives of our children in Ontario.

As minister responsible for children's issues, I will bring together partners in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to support children's development. I will also coordinate outreach to children, families, representative groups and service providers.

Our government will continue to look for new ways to improve and promote children's healthy growth and development and to keep children safe on National Child Day and on every other day of the year.

In closing, I would like to thank the parents, educators, volunteers, community organizations, corporations and public sector partners that already do so much to support Ontario's children.



Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about the very important issue of wife assault prevention. As you know, on November 4 I marked the beginning of Wife Assault Prevention Month. Making sure women are safe and free from violence is a priority for the Ontario Women's Directorate and for this government.

Wife assault continues to be a pervasive, terrible problem for thousands of women and their children. Sadly, almost every day we hear of still more women who are abused and even murdered by their husbands or partners. In fact, a 1993 report of the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women showed that 27% of women had experienced physical assault in an intimate relationship. In 25% of those relationships, the women's partners threatened to kill them.

Women must be safe. Wife assault is a crime. As political leaders, as citizens of this province and as neighbours and friends we must act to end violence against women by their partners. This government is committed to our goal of stopping the violence and making sure women are safe in their homes and in their communities.

Just over two weeks ago, I announced this year's Wife Assault Prevention Month while visiting the Barbra Schlifer Clinic in Toronto. We were very pleased to contribute $69,000 to the excellent work being done at this clinic.

I am pleased to tell you that earlier today, I and members of the Partners for Change Network launched two excellent television productions aimed at educating children and teens about violence prevention.

One production, called You Oughta Know: Teens Talk About Dating and Abuse, is a half-hour documentary focusing on teen dating. It describes how teens can recognize abuse and what they can do about it. This show was produced in partnership with Woodlawn Communications and the YTV television network and it will first air on November 24.

The second production is a series of short features called Peace Break. It was facilitated by NextMedia and produced with TVOntario. These segments are geared to eight- to 12-year-olds and give young people advice and suggestions on how to deal with difficult situations, such as bullies in the schoolroom. The productions will be available on cable in the classroom and a teaching guide will accompany them.

These initiatives are a very important part of our wife assault prevention month agenda. We need to involve everyone in wife assault prevention: the women who are being abused, their family members, work colleagues and neighbours. We also need young people to know early in their lives that violence is simply not acceptable. Young people also need to recognize violence and abuse early in their lives and they need strategies and ideas on how to cope and respond.

As part of my own schedule during Wife Assault Prevention Month, I visited Ernestine's Women's Shelter in Rexdale, the Scarborough Women's Centre and joined a round table with a group in Peterborough to discuss its excellent YWCA Week Without Violence.

We have many more announcements and events to come before the end of Wife Assault Prevention Month. My colleague the Attorney General and I will be opening new domestic violence courts in upcoming weeks. The six new courts will deal exclusively with domestic abuse cases. These courts will ensure victims have appropriate support as they go through the justice system and that perpetrators are accountable for their acts of violence.

Of course, our efforts to stop violence against women and wife abuse don't end with these activities. The Ontario Women's Directorate coordinates some 30 programs across nine ministries, programs that include shelters where women can find refuge from violence against women, programs for children who witness violence in their homes and programs to educate people about wife assault and how to become involved in preventing it.

In July we announced our Agenda for Action, a strategy that builds on the government initiatives of the past and makes sure programs are coordinated and effective. The agenda focuses on three fronts: safety, including crisis intervention and support; justice, so victims are supported and perpetrators are held accountable; and prevention, trying to stop the violence before it starts.

I want to assure you that this government will continue its efforts to improve community safety and to continue work to keep women free of violence in this province. I know all members of this House will join us in recognizing the many women who need our support and the many dedicated professionals and volunteers who work in, and often devote their lives to, this effort. I'd like to urge everyone to accept personal responsibility to work towards ending violence against women and their children.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I'm going to take the opportunity to address the statement made by the minister without portfolio responsible for children.

First of all, I want to congratulate the government for appointing this minister. But secondly, unless -- and there's always an "unless" -- and until this minister recognizes what this government is doing to Ontario children, she will not be able to lend them any real assistance. I want to help her in that regard right now.

First of all, with respect to education, Minister, you should know that with your government's abandonment of our province's commitment to education so far, 60,000 four-year-olds have been deprived of junior kindergarten. We all know that in a knowledge-based global economy, we absolutely need junior kindergarten. It's as simple as that.

We also know that your government has been making cuts to special education, and I just happen to have here a copy of a letter received from a teacher which reads in part as follows:

"In my class of 32 grade 5 and 6 students, I have five at-risk and special-needs children. Due to Mr Harris, I have lost an educational assistant, teacher-librarian and special education resource teacher. But our numbers have increased. Without a resource teacher, my special-needs children are not getting the education they did a mere three years ago."

That's what your government is doing to children in Ontario, Minister, and it's important that you understand that.

The other thing you've got to recognize is that one in five children in this province are growing up in poverty or are the subject of abuse or neglect. Kids are poor because their parents are poor, and parents are poor in part at least because you have cut welfare rates. It turns out that about half of the people in this province who are relying upon welfare are children: half a million children growing up in poverty in Ontario.

I have recounted in this House before how I have had the experience of visiting a young mother who used to receive $1,400 a month in welfare. That was reduced to $1,100 a month. She's a single mom. She has three little girls. She pays $800 a month in rent. She doesn't have a phone. I asked her on the 11th day of the month if I might look inside her fridge and if I might look inside her kitchen cupboards to find out how much food she had in there. I can tell you that if you looked inside that fridge and those cupboards, you would say what all parents in here would say: "We've got to go shopping. There's no food in the house."

That's happening in your Ontario. You'd better open your eyes to that and you'd better stand up in cabinet and say: "Listen, what we're doing today is causing terrible pain to our children. They are our future. We owe it to them and we're not going to let it happen."


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I too welcome this new Minister Without Portfolio responsible for children and look forward to working with her to bring real change for children. I applaud the government on that appointment.

In response to Wife Assault Prevention Month, our party needs to just outline for the people of Ontario the government's record so far in dealing with women who suffer abuse: shelter funding slashed; second-stage housing slashed; welfare rates slashed; eligibility for legal aid funding down by 63%. All those who have to deal with violence in the family, particularly women, know they have to have access to the legal system in order to get out of these issues. They also know that the biggest issue for women who face violence has everything to do with economy and control of finances. I look at this minister and say we are disappointed so far by the performance of this government on this issue that impacts not just women but women and their children, their entire family.

We would like to see that these two ministers, both the one responsible for children and the one who spoke today regarding assault against women, should be working together instead to see that overall the entire implementation of policies by this government has done nothing to help women and in fact has only made it more difficult for women to get out of situations of violence. We would look forward to positive impacts by this government.

Finally, you released a video today to stop bullies in the classroom. I hope your emergency caucus meeting this morning had everything to do with 82 Conservative members --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you very much.



Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): It's traditional to congratulate ministers on their first statement in the House, so I congratulate the new minister without portfolio. But I have to say that if today's statement from this minister is the indication of what her new tenure is going to bring to this government, it's a complete waste of time and a complete waste of taxpayers' money, because what we are seeing here in terms of this government's priority is nothing but continuing empty rhetoric.

When this minister says their priority is to put children first, that they have such a strong political will to put children first, yes, we are happy about the initiatives the minister has outlined, many of which were there under our government, which we are happy to see continuing. But what marks this government are not those particular initiatives, as important as they may be; what marks the actions of this government, what marks the priority of this government when it comes to children, is a whole array of cuts, a whole array of destruction of supports to children.

The list is endless: cuts in the area of childhood education; cuts in the area of education; cuts in the early years programs; cuts to junior kindergarten; the cuts to education that we are debating here through Bill 160. Where is the priority with respect to children? There are the cuts to child care; the $40 million they played around with for two years and still haven't spent in the area of child care; in fact, their direction to privatize child care rather than support children in a publicly funded child care system in this province.

And how can we forget, today of all days, the 22% cuts to social assistance? I know this minister wants to forget about that, I know government members want to forget about that, because it's convenient for them to forget about the fact that over 40% of the people on social assistance are children, I say to the new minister with responsibility for children. When families have trouble putting food on the table, that should be your first priority, Minister, and that should be the first priority of your government.

I look forward to other statements from you in this House. I hope to God that they are very different from the statement you have given us today, which is nothing but rhetoric and has nothing to do with prioritizing kids except to continue the cuts that your government has started.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm responding to the minister responsible for women's issues. November is almost over and finally the minister is getting on her feet today to talk about the prevention of violence against women. I asked twice on Monday for consent; I asked again on Tuesday; I asked again on Wednesday. The government members said no, including the minister responsible for women's issues one day. They were forced to come forward today and make this statement.

I can tell you that the government House leader wanted an agreement that we wouldn't get political, that we'd remain non-partisan. Let me say to the government, as soon as they stop the vicious cuts and policy changes they have consistently made since they took over government that have directly hurt women and kids in this province and that are making it harder for women who are victims of violence in their own homes to escape, they might not have to worry about the opposition getting political. Their record shows a shocking lack of principles and compassion for vulnerable women in this province.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Stop the clock.

Member for Riverdale?

Ms Churley: Cuts to welfare; second-stage housing gone; social housing commitments gone; rent control going; the family support plan in complete disarray; child care spaces cut; under the so-called education bill, child care spaces in schools gone; pay equity gone.

All these policy changes and cuts are hurting women, particularly vulnerable women. You still don't get it and you're still not listening to the people of this province. We're talking about real people here. The Solicitor General and others can yell at me and say it isn't true, but we've got all the evidence before us.

You should read the OAITH documents about what your policies and your cuts are doing to the vulnerable women of this province.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Education. We understand there was a second emergency caucus meeting held by your caucus today, and this is a result of the cracks that have appeared on the Bill 160 front, cracks you could drive a truck through at the present time.

We all know that public opinion is against you on this one, teachers are against this, students are against this, trustees are against this, all friends of public education are against this, your back bench is coming out against this, and several members of your own cabinet are against this. What is it going to take to convince you that the right thing to do, given that public opinion is clearly against you on this front, is to withdraw Bill 160?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): There's a fair amount of dreaming and wishful thinking going on here by the Leader of the Opposition. I will read from the Globe and Mail editorial today:

"We believe that, a few years down the road, the majority of Ontarians will look back on Bill 160 and conclude that it was the right decision. We also believe that, despite the sturm, drang and prognostications" --


Hon David Johnson: I guess they don't like to hear that the Globe and Mail says we're "merely following a path already well worn by other provinces."


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon David Johnson: Perhaps a parent in Ontario, a parent who says, "I raised five children...chair of a board of trustees...spent a number of years teaching in a community college apprenticeship program," a parent who says, "I fully support the implementation of this bill."

Year after year, decade after decade, frankly, parents have been asking for better quality and taxpayers have been asking for better value. That's exactly what we're going to deliver in our total education program and through Bill 160.


Mr McGuinty: I wish the minister would pay as much attention to the quotes from members of his own caucus as he does to the Globe and Mail. Maybe I'll just remind him of a few things they've been saying.

The member who sits to your immediate left, Minister, the Minister of Health, said this: "One issue of concern is that principals and vice-principals are going to be taken out of the bargaining unit. I would hope that we will look at whatever opportunities there are for compromise."

Toni Skarica, your colleague the member for Wentworth North, said, "I have a problem giving any one person, whether it be Premier Harris or anyone else, control over the whole system."

Trevor Pettit, the member for Hamilton Mountain, said, "I have a big problem with giving all the power over education to not just this Premier but any Premier that may follow."

Minister, I understand you've been doing a lot of scraping the bottom of the barrel to find out who it is out there who supports this bill, but tell me, why aren't you paying any attention to the members within your own caucus who are speaking out against your bill?

Hon David Johnson: Perhaps I should quote another member of this provincial Parliament, a gentleman by the name of Dalton McGuinty. According to the paper I have, in a radio show on October 29, 1997, the leader of the official opposition said: "Everybody, I think, believes you can find room for improvement in education. You can probably even find savings."

On Focus Ontario on October 18 the leader of the official opposition said, "I don't think anybody in the system, teachers included, believes the status quo is acceptable."

I agree with the leader of the official opposition.


The Speaker: The member for Scarborough East, come to order. Thank you. The member for Grey-Owen Sound.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): He's got nothing on you, Dalton.

The Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, come to order, please.

Mr McGuinty: I want to thank the minister for quoting me so exactly. I am proud of those statements. There's no doubt that there's room for improvement. If you want to know what I believe on this front, there's no doubt that there's room for improvement, and there is no doubt that savings --


Mr McGuinty: There is room for improvement and everybody agrees to that effect, including all the teachers. Teachers even agree that there are savings to be had, but they insist, as I do, that they be redeployed in the classroom, for the benefit of students.

You have already taken $1 billion out of the system. It's irresponsible, it's unconscionable to take another $700 million out. That's where we differ. Everybody understands now that public opinion is against you on this one. That is very, very clear, and if you don't believe me, listen to the people at your constituency office. Every member here can just phone the people who work at their constituency offices and do a tally of the telephone calls and letters that are coming in. Once again, students, parents, teachers, trustees, your own members and members of your cabinet are against this bill. Why --

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite indicates that there's no doubt there's room for improvement, and I agree with him. Some members of this House wonder, to the member opposite, if there's room for a strike, because he seems to flip-flop on that particular issue.

There's just one other quote I want to bring to the attention of the House. It's from Focus Ontario and certainly answers the question. The Leader of the Opposition says, "We don't have any specific policies right now." I'm here to tell you that the government does have policies, policies to bring excellence and quality to our education system, policies to give, hopefully, our taxpayers a break, policies to bring accountability into the education system. We have those policies. We're going to improve the system and we're going to move ahead with Bill 160.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the official opposition.

Mr McGuinty: I have a question to the same minister. You cannot be blind to the fact that we have received, and you have undoubtedly received, tens of thousands of letters, faxes and e-mails as a result of this issue, and a great majority of those are against you on this front.

I have a particular letter here and I want to quote from it in part. It reads as follows:

"I am writing this letter as the daughter of a man who very proudly carried the banner for the provincial Progressive Conservative Party in Essex county in two provincial elections. For Mr Harris, Bill 160 truly marks a return to the 3Rs, repressive, reprehensible, representative of a draconian ideology.

"In conclusion, I thank God that my father has passed on to his eternal reward and was not here to see his beliefs and dreams for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario crumble behind the walls of the politburo in Queen's Park."

You know in your heart of hearts, Minister, as do all of your fellow members, that Bill 160 is wrong for education. Will you --

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon David Johnson: I guess we could wage a war of letters. I have a letter here: "We're parents of two school-aged children. Let it be known we support the government and not the teachers' union on this issue." Another letter: "I want to lend my support to your efforts to forge ahead with the passing of Bill 160."

We can go on and on all day, but in my heart of hearts what I know is that the parents and the people of the province want to see reform in our education system. They want to see our children have more instructional days. They want to see that our class sizes should not consider going up, that the number of children in the average class size should not continue to increase. They want to ensure that our students have the ability to have qualified individuals to assist our teachers in bringing quality into the classroom. They want reform of the taxing for the education system so that taxes don't continue to escalate. These are the kinds of reforms that are contained in Bill 160, and these are the kinds of reforms we intend to implement.


Mr McGuinty: Everybody wants reform, but you want it by asking for the surrender of our teachers. We don't need their surrender, we need their help, and there's a world of difference. Here's a letter from a parent:

"My eldest child has moved to the University of Toronto in his second year of performance music. His love of music was fostered in elementary school by a young teacher who, when nothing else seemed to be going well for my son, asked him how things were going in music. Well, things started to go well in music, then and now.

"Your bill has alienated our teachers. These are the people who face our children every day. Ask yourself, Minister, if ramming this legislation through against the will of teachers instead of working out a more successful solution with those directly affected is a smart thing to do."

I want to ask you that question right now on behalf of Andrienne Kirkness from London, Ontario. Is it a smart thing to do to try to bring about change in education without the goodwill of our teachers?

Hon David Johnson: I do want to make it clear that this government values, has always valued the role of the teacher in our education system. They are central. They are the front-line workers. They are critical to the future of education in the province of Ontario. I assure you that this government will be working closely with the teachers to ensure that the reforms that parents have been asking for, the reforms that many teachers have been asking for for many years will be implemented to best advantage to serve the students of Ontario.

That would be my response to this individual and to other people. There is a great deal of concern across the province. We can all work together. We can all make a better education system in the province of Ontario.

Mr McGuinty: I want to quote again from that letter from the woman whose father ran on behalf of your party in two provincial elections:

"An ability to listen to his constituents was the hallmark of my father's successful 37-year career in municipal politics. He never shied away from difficult decisions. However, he did respect and honour the opinions of those who placed their trust in his leadership."

What I want to ask you, Minister, is, will you honour the opinions of our teachers, of our students, of our parents, of our trustees and even of those members of your own caucus who have spoken out and those members of your cabinet who have spoken out? Will you honour majority opinion in the province of Ontario and kill Bill 160?

Hon David Johnson: The members of this government over many years in their walks of life have listened to parents, have listened to the people of the province of Ontario asking for reforms. This is not just a process that's begun recently. Recently the process of consultation has been much more focused and intense, but people representing this government and indeed I'm sure representing the opposition parties have listened for years to people asking for reform.

Through the public hearing process, a mother of two indicated, "The reason I support the government's efforts and changes to our educational system is simple: I do not believe in mediocrity."

Another parent: "I pay a lot of school taxes and I still do right now. There's too much administration and frankly I'm fed up with paying. I have to commend this bill for finally starting to address a lot of the inefficiencies in the education system, and I'll tell you, there are a lot there."

Another parents says: "I would encourage the ministry to hold fast on taking control of class size." On and on it goes.

People have asked for reform. This government is going to respect that and proceed with education reform.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. It's interesting that the minister would quote from a couple of letters. I think most of his caucus is thanking their lucky stars for the postal strike. They've turned off all of their fax machines so the faxes are coming to us because they don't want to get them.


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

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. The fact is that this issue about Bill 160 goes beyond the issue itself in the education system this government is taking so much money out of. It's gone to the point now of the basic belief in democracy in this province. The vast majority of the population in this province opposed Bill 160, yet the government continues to go through.

There are provisions within Bill 160 that are very, very disturbing. Yesterday the minister could not explain why his government is determined for the transitional period, which he won't define, to set property taxes for education behind closed doors by regulation rather than doing it normally through debate and legislation. The only reason he could give was that it is more convenient for the Ministry of Finance. Does the minister truly believe that convenience for the government should override the most fundamental principle of no taxation without representation?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): That issue did come up yesterday. On checking into the situation, we have found that in Alberta, 49% of the education tax is actually raised --

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): I am sure in Albania it's even more impressive.


The Speaker: Order in the gallery. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: Some 49% of the education dollars in Alberta are raised through regulation on the property tax. The member asked, what about Albania? Let me tell you about one other province, British Columbia. Does that ring a bell, the province of British Columbia? Does that have any particular significance? Would it be the fact that there's an NDP government in power in British Columbia? In British Columbia, 30% of the education dollars are raised through a regulation on the property tax.

We have indicated that through this transition period there is a need to ensure that this process works smoothly. We have also indicated that this government will institute a legislative process at the earliest opportunity, perhaps even as early as a year from now.

Mr Wildman: I would suggest that the earliest opportunity is right now.

The minister is talking about setting $6 billion in taxes behind closed doors by regulation and he says that the government has a commitment to freeze the property taxes, despite the fact that there's going to be reassessment and property taxes for many will go up. I wonder if this commitment is similar to the government's commitment not to cut any funding from classroom education. Why doesn't the government, if it has a commitment, put it in legislation so it can be debated by the public, debated in this Legislature, and passed like every other tax measure in this province?

Hon David Johnson: The House leader for the third party has indicated that we've committed to a freeze and he's right. This government has listened to the people in the province of Ontario; listened to the business community, for example, right here in Metropolitan Toronto where we are today, where they issued a report three or four years ago entitled Killing the Golden Goose, wherein the main concern was the escalating property tax for education purposes, driving business out of Metropolitan Toronto. That was the number one concern of the business community in Metropolitan Toronto. Homeowners, senior citizens, families struggling to pay their property taxes have said, "Please do something for us."

The previous Liberal government would not come to grips with it. This government is coming to grips with it. This government is reforming the education property tax. It is going to make sure that the escalating increases do not occur in the future and give protection to our taxpayers.


Mr Wildman: This government is attempting to trick the population in this province. They want to hide a tax increase behind reassessment. That's what this is about. They also want to hide cuts in education behind this bill. Well, people know what this bill is about. You want control of the education system so that you can cut another $670 million from education. Why won't you allow these issues to be debated and passed the way they're normally done in a democracy? Bring a bill into the House that deals with property taxation for education. Will you do that?

Hon David Johnson: Members on this side find it somewhat interesting that a member of the NDP would talk about cuts to government when during the expenditure control program and the social contract they cut almost $600 million out of the education system in Ontario. If there is another crime being perpetrated on our children in our communities, it's the fact that there's that huge debt and the deficits which were passed by the NDP government on to the shoulders of our young people, a burden that they are going to have to bear in future years.

This government, through Bill 160, through other reforms, is committed to instilling a quality education program with a higher degree of accountability, but at the same time to bring fiscal responsibility to the whole education system. That's what our whole program is about.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would to just take this opportunity to introduce in the Speaker's gallery a contingent from Quebec, here on a parliamentary committee meeting with their counterparts in Ontario. Welcome.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have another question for the Minister of Education and Training. I suppose the minister defines fiscal responsibility in terms of borrowing billions of dollars to provide a tax cut to the wealthy.

I want to return to the question of basic democratic rights in Canada and the way they have operated historically in Ontario --

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): Social contract.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The member for Ottawa-Rideau, I'm not going to warn you again. If I do, I'm going to name you. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: Thank you, Speaker. We have already seen that the government is not prepared to commit to the basic democratic principle of no taxation without representation. I'd like to turn to one other matter under Bill 160. Under this bill, democratically elected trustees to school boards in this province can be fired by the minister if the minister believes that they are not following the directives sent out by the minister. Surely, these people are elected locally to represent the concerns of the public about education in their own local area. How is it the minister will believe that he should be able to fire an elected representative of the people because he won't follow the instructions of the minister?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I must be misunderstanding the member opposite because -- and I know this appeared in an editorial somewhere, but this has been clarified many, many times since -- this power, which has existed since 1935 in the Municipal Act, only pertains to situations of default in boards. It has been applied in very rare occasions since 1935. What is simply happening here is that it's being transferred from the Municipal Act to the Education Act, where it has belonged all along.

This has appeared in any number of newspaper articles over the last number of days, saying this in fact is no change whatsoever. In fact, I could quote from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association. It's always been there. It says: "The only situation in which this can happen is when the school boards have been taken over by the minister because of financial default. This is not new legislation, but presently is incorporated in the Municipal Act. Bill 160 does not change the powers of the minister in connection with defaulting school boards." That's what it's all about.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Lake Nipigon. Member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: The government is running roughshod over local decision-making in this bill. Bill 160 takes away from local trustees the power to make decisions around curriculum, the flexibility to meet local needs, the ability to determine how the money should be raised and distributed to meet the local needs of the community. This government is determining that they must centralize control here at Queen's Park for one reason and one reason only, and that is your desire to take almost $1 billion out of the education system. The public knows that and it's clear that the public is opposed to it. Why won't you listen to the majority in Ontario and back off of this legislation and respond to the real needs of education and kids and students across the province? Back off of Bill 160 and listen to the public; listen to the majority in Ontario.

Hon Mr Johnson: I will listen to the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association. The member opposite has asked about the power of the trustees. The Catholic school trustees association poses that very question. They say, "Is it true that under Bill 160 the minister is given new power to establish policies and guidelines respecting the roles and responsibilities of board members?" The opinion of OCSTA's legal counsel is that nothing in such policies or guidelines established by the minister can override or supersede the authority expressly given to trustees in the Education Act or in the regulations.

This shows the problem we face. There are so many myths, so many situations that aren't factual about this whole bill that have been growing in leaps and bounds. I don't know where to point to, where they came from. This bill respects the role of the board members, the school councils and the various schools. They all have an important role to play. I just would commend the member to read this kind of material.

Mr Wildman: This is a basic argument that the government has yet to hear. The public in this province has made it clear that they are very concerned about Bill 160. They're very concerned about the desire of the government to take another $1 billion over the $800 million that you've already taken out of classroom education in this province. They're very concerned about your desire to lay off somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 teachers in this province. They don't want Bill 160 rushed through this Legislature. You are determined to move it forward despite their concerns. Why is it you want to concentrate so much power among the great pooh-bahs here at Queen's Park rather than leaving it to local people to make their own decisions about the education of their kids the way we have historically in this Canada?

Hon David Johnson: I'm glad that the public is concerned about education. That's good; that's a healthy sign. But we know here today that the public unfortunately is being fed a number of myths and a number of situations that aren't factual. That is raising the concern in an unhealthy way. The member has indicated himself that he thought, up until this afternoon, that the government, at the drop of a hat, could take over school boards, could fire trustees, could fire officials. We know that's not true. We know that's only in the case of a financial default, gross mismanagement. His own member to his left indicates that's true.

There is a fear that the government has given itself absolute power during the transition period for example to override any act or regulation. That's known as the King Henry VIII clause. All the members of this House know that occurred three times in the bill; they're all gone. They've all been voted down at the committee; not one of them is left; not one of those powers is left in the bill.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is for the Minister of Education. I think the public should recognize what the minister said today, and that is that within a year the government plans to bring in amendments to the bill. The government admitted today that it has to change the bill within a year. That just shows how sloppily and how badly put together this bill is.

You indicated that what I call the Mike Harris property tax bill will be set by regulation. You indicated that businesses in this province will have to pay well over half of their property tax to fund education. You have indicated that residents in the province will pay exactly the same rate no matter where they live. I'm asking this on behalf of the business community, because in five weeks they will be paying the new Mike Harris property tax bill. Is it the plan of the government that no matter where your business is in the province, you will pay the same Mike Harris property tax bill on education?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): First of all, I remind the member opposite that the approach taken in Ontario will be the same approach as taken in Alberta and in British Columbia with regard to funding the education system.

The business community will be pleased, because the business community for many years has expressed concern about escalating property taxes for education purposes. We have indicated that with exactly the same taxpayers in the business community, they will pay, in total, the same amount of property taxes for education as they did in 1997, so there will be a freeze in that regard. In total, the existing business community will not pay more taxes in 1998 than they did in 1997. That will be good news for the business community of the province.

Mr Phillips: You're going to have to actually answer the question, Minister. You may be tired and you may have difficulty in understanding the question, so I'll repeat it for you.

The business community wants a straight answer on this. What is your plan? The reason I raise this is that we have no opportunity to debate this. You are going to set this with the stroke of a pen -- no debate in the Legislature, no bill in the Legislature, no opportunity for the business community to respond to it. I say again, we want a simple answer, because five weeks from now, for businesses, over half of their property tax will be Mike Harris. Is it your plan that businesses, no matter where they are in the province, will be charged by Mike Harris the same mill rate on education? Yes or no?

Hon David Johnson: I'm reminded by a note that has come in about the commercial concentration tax implemented by the Liberal government, so one wonders at the expertise of the Liberal Party in the area of taxation.

I don't know how I can make it more clear. We have indicated that the business property taxpayers who are here today in Ontario in totality will not pay more taxes in 1998 than in 1997. That is the answer. That is the commitment we have made, and the business community has been waiting for years, during the various regimes of the NDP and the Liberals, escalating property tax for education purposes over a 10-year period. This is good news. Their businesses taxes in totality will be frozen.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Minister of Education. Yesterday my leader announced that our caucus is joining with the East End Parent Network of Metro Toronto in launching a petition campaign to force a referendum on Bill 160.

Your own standing committee report on referenda says that if 10% of the voters of this province sign a petition demanding a referendum within 180 days, the government should have to put the question to the people and abide by the result. When the report was released, the member for Brampton South, who is now Minister of Transportation, said that he was "proud that we in the Harris government are living up to our commitment to bring issues vital to our province to the people for their input and allow their voices to be heard."

I can't think of an issue more vital to the province than the education of our children. Does the government now reject referenda and repudiate the report of its own MPPs?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I also can't think of a more vital component of our society than education; I agree with the member opposite. Because I agree with that and I recognize that this item, this issue of education, has been studied to death over the years -- we have the report of the EIC in The Road Ahead; the member opposite, during her term in government, will remember the Royal Commission on Learning --


The former Minister of Education for the NDP government, a co-chair of The Road Ahead, says we should get on with it, that it's time for reform. The former government commissioned the Sweeney task force, a former Liberal cabinet minister: another report. I have another report here which lists the Honourable Sean Conway as the minister.

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

Hon David Johnson: We have had report after report, study after study. The people of Ontario are saying it is time to get on, to put that quality --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister.

Ms Churley: Minister, the people of Ontario are telling you to listen to them, and they don't like your so-called reform. If you think it's so good, why don't you put it to the people? You seem to keep saying that any expression of democracy is a delaying tactic; anybody and anything that gets in your way is described as a delaying tactic. You even see your own caucus members as obstacles to be walked over on their way to neo-Conservative heaven.

Minister, I am telling you right now it is not going to work. The parents and students and teachers of this province are not going anywhere. They will be demanding a democratic vote on your undemocratic bill.

I'm going to try again. It's time for you to wake up and listen to the people. They do not want this bill. If 10% of the people of Ontario sign a petition within the next 180 days calling for a referendum on Bill 160, will you hold a binding referendum, yes or no?

Hon David Johnson: There's one thing the member opposite and I agree with, and that is that the people of Ontario are most important. The people of Ontario have been involved and we have listened to the people of Ontario for --


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, please come to order.

Hon David Johnson: The people of Ontario have spoken through the Education Improvement Commission, through the Royal Commission on Learning; the people of Ontario have been involved at the public hearings; the people of Ontario have been consulted by the former minister for many, many months on this very topic.

The people of the province for decades have been saying: "Do something about the curriculum. Do something about the testing. Do something about the number of days, the amount of time our students have in the classroom. Do something to improve the quality of education. Do something about the tax system around the education system" -- for years. This government has listened and this government is determined to take action to address the very problems that the people of Ontario have identified.



Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Members of this House are familiar with the Ontario building code. Those of us who have municipal experience behind us are familiar with the importance of the Ontario building code.

After extensive consultation, a few days ago you released a number of amendments to the code. I wonder if you'd be good enough to tell members of this House what you consider to be the most important amendments, and would you give some reasons for the amendments and tell us when the changes are to come into effect?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'd like to thank the member for High Park-Swansea for the question. I'd like to let everybody know that the new Ontario Building Code has a back-to-basics focus on health, safety and accessibility for persons with disabilities. The revisions will mean more consumer choice and will let builders take advantage of new products.

We want to create a more cost-effective building code that encourages growth and more jobs, and not make more regulations. We're committed to consumer protection. We're not committed to red tape; we're eliminating red tape. Streamlining processes will keep costs of building down. It's going to encourage investment and growth and it's certainly going to create jobs.

We consulted with all of the stakeholders involved in the building code over a year. There were more than 650 amendments put forward. Most of those have been acted on. This will make life much easier for people who are affected by the building code. The new code will take effect on March 16, 1998.

Mr Shea: That was good news for the housing industry, Minister, as well as for the consumers of Ontario. I know my constituents would be interested in hearing a few examples of some of the areas that have changed in the 1997 Ontario building code and I wonder if the minister would be good enough to pass along some of those details for us all to hear.

Hon Mr Leach: I would be more than pleased to pass that information on to the people of Ontario who have a great interest. This government has made improvements in a number of areas, with two of the most significant areas being fire safety and improved accessibility. Sprinkler systems will now be required for all care facilities, retirement homes, hospitals and nursing homes, which house a high number or volume of tenants.

The coroner has also endorsed these changes of going a long way to protecting our seniors. The Ontario building code also has levels of accessibility for disabled persons which far exceed what is required in the national building code. Our code requires that more building entrances and more interior spaces be barrier-free and that there are more doors with power openers. We believe these very positive changes will improve the health and safety issues of Ontario's new buildings.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Health, a person who had a distinguished career as the chair of the Waterloo board of education and as a member of the teaching profession. As Minister of Health, would you ever authorize vicious attack ads by your government against the front-line workers in the field of health care?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Mr Speaker, I would refer that question to the Minister of Education.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): The minister is allowed to refer any question, actually. Minister of Education.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): It's clear that the member for St Catharines is up to mischief, as usual, and we commend him for his ingenuity. But obviously, as we know from the House proceedings over the course of the week, he's referring to ads run with regard to the education problem.

Today, we've explored and exploded some of the myths involved around Bill 160, some of the exaggerations and distortion. That's the problem we face.

I see in the Toronto Star today a footnote under Ian Urquhart's column which says: "There have been repeated allegations by teachers and their unions that Bill 160 gives the Minister of Education the power to appoint non-teachers as principals. This has conjured up images of car dealers and Canadian Tire franchisees running schools. But the allegations are false, as the unions now acknowledge."

This is the problem that we face and we need to communicate with the people of --

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mr Bradley: My supplementary is to the Minister of Health and it's about the Ministry of Health. Minister, you have been justifiably critical of the Harris government television ads which attack teachers and school trustees in a vicious manner and try to portray them in an extremely unfavourable light. I heard you on CBC today. You admitted on CBC Radio today, "People on all sides have been communicating messages that are not always accurate." That obviously means the Harris ads as well.

Minister, would you allow Guy Giorno and the backroom crowd in the Premier's office, the unelected ideologues, to dictate the content of Health ministry ads as they have the attack ads on teaches and trustees, or would you overrule the whiz kids and prohibit such attack ads at the expense of the taxpayers of this province?

Hon David Johnson: We all enjoy the member for St Catharines. My only regret is that this is Thursday and I don't get to hear your question tomorrow on this particular topic.

In terms of advertising, there is a need for every government to communicate with the people of Ontario. In 1989, when your government spent over $13 million on advertising, you probably thought that advertising money was well placed. Our government would never spend that amount of money in terms of advertising. We don't believe we should spend as much on advertising as your government did in 1989. Nevertheless, there is a need for the government to indicate to the people the difficulties that are being faced and the programs the government is implementing.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): In the absence of the Premier, who I guess is out reading Mr Silly again, I'd like to direct a question to the Minister of Education and Training regarding the Premier's comments. I know his great interest in books and reading.

Yesterday the Premier told the public what he thinks about post-secondary education in geography, sociology and the humanities in general. He said, "Their graduates are in surplus and have very little hope of contributing to society in any meaningful way." What post-secondary degrees does the minister believe would put graduates in a position of having "very little hope of contributing anything in any meaningful way to society"?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I'm not going to get into the tangle of that particular question.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.


The Speaker: No, you get one warning today. Minister.

Hon David Johnson: What I will say is that we are always striving for excellence within our education system, particularly in this case at the post-secondary level. The Premier and I did meet with representatives of the universities yesterday. I am pleased to say that in the Maclean's ranking recently, the University of Toronto came out number one and most of our universities finished right at the top of the list. Indeed my old alma maters of McMaster and Waterloo did particularly well.


The Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, come to order, please. Thank you.

Hon David Johnson: The bottom line is that I think the Premier is indicating we need excellence in the system. The universities in the past have served us well. There is a time for change and we're looking for the change to serve the future.

Mr Wildman: We have many well-respected post-secondary institutions in Ontario like Waterloo, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Queen's, Laurentian, Western, McMaster -- many. But since the minister refers to the University of Toronto, which is one of the great post-secondary institution not just in Canada but in the world, if the minister just goes outside this building, he'll see banners on the street showing distinguished graduates of the University of Toronto who have contributed to society after receiving degrees in fields such as sociology and geography.

Does the minister believe that people such as Maureen Kempston Darkes of GM Canada, or Lester B. Pearson, former Primer Minister of Canada, or even David Tsubouchi or Bill Saunderson have not contributed in any meaningful way to society?

Hon David Johnson: How can I respond to that other than to say they all speak for themselves -- tremendous contributions, and particularly I look behind me and acknowledge the contribution, as I'm sure the House leader does, of the Honourable David Tsubouchi.



Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): My question is for the Minister of the Environment. As I think most members in this Legislature know, the Deloro mine site is located in the Hastings-Peterborough riding. Yesterday there was an article in the press that reported the ministry was attempting to solicit donations from a charitable organization. Could you please clarify for the record the context of that suggestion.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): The Deloro mine site is truly an environmental disaster which was put upon this province in the early 1900s. This particular site was abandoned and in 1987 the province took it over and approximately $9 million has been spent to clean it up. We expect and we're in the throes of putting forward the plan to put this site back in place. It could cost as much as $18 million more.

We have encouraged public participation in the process from all levels of government. A letter was written from the ministry to the Sierra Legal Defence Fund asking it for two things: participation in cleaning the site up and sitting on a liaison committee, and if in fact they wanted to participate in a monetary sense, we welcome their contribution.

Mr Danford: I know you're well aware how familiar I am with the conditions at the Deloro mine site and I'm also well aware of the lack of action put forth by the former government, which did absolutely nothing to address this need. The fact that this government this past summer has initiated plans to clean up this site was certainly good news for my --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order, member for Parkdale.

Mr Danford: The fact that this government this past summer has initiated plans to clean up this site was certainly good news for the residents of my riding, but more specifically, Minister, can you clarify for me what efforts and exactly what funding will go along with those efforts to clean up the Deloro mine site?

Hon Mr Sterling: With the help of my ministry's environmental protection fund, which I might add the previous government let diminish to almost nothing -- this government has increased that fund to nearly $10 million in just two years. But I would still encourage any organization, whether it's private or charitable, to contribute to this worthy endeavour. In fact I have asked the federal government to participate, and although the previous federal government did participate in the first $9 million, this federal government has refused to participate.


The Speaker: Order. Member for Hamilton East, I'm not warning you. Come on. Minister.

Hon Mr Sterling: We are seeking partnerships with people across Ontario to participate in cleaning up our environment. We invite everybody to be involved. This is a significant environmental disaster site which we inherited as a government. We are acting. We are putting our money where our mouth is. We are asking other citizens of Ontario if they would like to join with us in --

The Speaker: New question, official opposition. The member for Sudbury.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): My question is to the Minister of Education. Patricia Bradshaw, an esteemed associate professor from the school of business at York University, has been published in the Globe and Mail as saying your business model is wrong for education and that principals and vice-principals should not be removed from their federations.

She said: "I suspect that principals and vice-principals will, because of their distrust for the government, resign from their positions and return to the classrooms. I don't blame them given the fact that Bill 160 was changed at the last minute."

She further states: "The principals and vice-principals of my children told me when my child needed help from a therapist, they mediated serious conflicts between children in the school yard, they told me that my children have learning difficulties and what I should be doing about it."

She said: "They carry an ethic of care and a team-based model of work which I have never seen in the business school or in business."

Minister, in light of what this esteemed professor has said, will you withdraw the amendment from Bill 160 which involves principals and vice-principals?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I agree with many of the sentiments in there, that principals do care, principals are very involved in their schooling activities and principals do have a large number of very important functions within the school, directed to the children, directed to the parents and directed to the teachers, who report to the principal. In that connection they have discipline, for example, as one of their activities and responsibilities. Hearing concerns of the parents, perhaps with regard to teaching staff is another one of their responsibilities.

There are many, many responsibilities that they perform. The problem is that many of those responsibilities are of a management nature and yet the principals are contained within the union. There is a basic conflict there and it is a problem. In the Toronto Star today there is an article. It doesn't agree with the timing, but it points out the conflict that some of the principals are in.

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

Mr Bartolucci: Minister, your amendment removing principals and vice-principals from their federation is bad for students, it's bad for learning and it's bad for the collaborative approach that is necessary for a student's education. Students are telling you this, parents are telling you this, trustees are telling you this. Even the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association, on page 24, says: "It's punitive, vindictive and unnecessary."

Principals and vice-principals are telling you this. The former Minister of Education is telling you this. The Minister of Health is telling you this. Parent councils are telling you this and they're so concerned they're resigning over it.

Listen, every partner in education, Minister, is telling you that removing principals and vice-principals from their federations is wrong. Will you, in light of what every partner in education is telling you, withdraw that amendment from Bill 160?

Hon David Johnson: There are differences of opinion on this matter. There is no question about that. Some people don't support it, but I can tell you there are other people who support having the principals and vice-principals out of the union to avoid this conflict. The Ontario Parent Council supports having the principals and vice-principals out. The Ontario Coalition for Education Reform supports having them out. There are other organizations that support it.

Essentially, there is a basic conflict situation. I think that once the principals are relieved of this conflict, it will make their jobs easier and support them more in their duties to serve everybody -- their own staff, the students and the parents.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I have the weekly business statement. Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of November 24.

On Monday, the Liberal Party has an opposition day in the afternoon. It's our expectation that if Bill 161, the Fairness for Parents and Employees Act, does not receive second reading, we would continue with that in the evening of Monday.

On the afternoons of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it's my intention to call the following three bills: Bill 142, the Social Assistance Reform Act; Bill 152, the Services Improvement Act; and Bill 160, the Education Quality Improvement Act. The timing of those particular acts and on which day they will appear will depend upon the printing of those acts and whether or not they will be available to debate on those dates. I will try to make it as clear as possible when they will be called as soon as those particular acts are printed and appear on the order paper.

In the evening of Tuesday, November 25, we will continue on Bill 161 if it has not already been completed.

On Wednesday night, we will be dealing with Bill 61, the Government Process Simplification Act, put forward by the Attorney General; Bill 140, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Act; and Bill 139, the Game and Fish Act.

We will not be sitting on Thursday evening; that is not the plan at the present time.



Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition from over 200 students at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in Oriole. It's a petition of non-confidence. It says:

"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 wholeheartedly agree with the petition, and I certainly affix my name to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): The following petition from union members of CAW and the United Steelworkers of America is regarding the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and clinics.

"Whereas approximately 300 workers are killed on the job each year and 400,000 suffer work-related injuries and illnesses; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario continues to allow a massive erosion of WCB prevention funding; and

"Whereas Ontario workers are fearful that the government of Ontario, through its recent initiatives, is threatening to dismantle workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Whereas the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre have consistently provided a meaningful role for labour within the health and safety prevention system; and

"Whereas the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre have proven to be the most cost-effective prevention organizations funded by the WCB;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately cease the assault on the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre; and

"Further we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure that the workers' clinics and the Workers' Health and Safety Centre remain labour-driven organizations with full and equitable WCB funding and that the WCB provide adequate prevention funding to eliminate workplace illness and injury."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to present a petition from Ms Cathy Abraham, who had a school community meeting last week which I was unable to attend. She has given me a number of petitions which, with your permission, I will read into the record.

"During the past two weeks the children of our community have not attended school, the teachers have raised the red flag concerning Bill 160. We as community members know that this bill is not about provincial report cards, is not about improving curriculum and is not about standardized testing. As community members, we are demanding that Mike Harris and the government of Ontario open Bill 160 to further discussion and negotiation."

I'm pleased to support that further discussion, in fact working together, is how we will go forward with Bill 160 when it has become law.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a petition to the Legislature of Ontario, a petition of non-confidence:

"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 have here hundreds of what are thousands of people who have signed this, and I affix my signature to the top of this petition.

Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition that has come to me from Carl A. Nesbitt Public School in Sudbury. It reads as follows:

"Whereas Bill 160 originally maintained principals and vice-principals would remain as members of the teachers' federations; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments were introduced after the hearings had been completed; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments will seriously destabilize the education system, causing unnecessary stress on our established school teams;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to withdraw those sections of Bill 160 which impact the current status of principals and vice-principals as members of the teachers' federations."

I agree with the petitioners, and I have signed my name to it as well.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I have a petition here I'm presenting on behalf of the member for Mississauga South, who as a minister is unable to present petitions to the House. It's a petition regarding Bill 160 from Marie Germain and the Mississauga Parents Forum.

Mr Peter North (Elgin): This is a petition regarding the Bill 160 proposed amendments with regard to the principals and vice-principals.

"Whereas Bill 160 originally maintained principals and vice-principals would remain as members of the teachers' federations; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments were introduced after the hearings had been completed; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments will seriously destabilize the education system, causing unnecessary stress on our established school teams;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to withdraw those sections of Bill 160 which impact the current status of principals and vice-principals as members of the teachers' federations."

I affix my signature hereto.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition that reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, ask you, Mr Dave Johnson, Minister of Education, to withdraw Bill 160 on the grounds that it is flawed legislation that will (a) allow uncertified teachers to teach in the classroom, (b) cause a loss to kids of thousands of teachers and increase class sizes; (c) reduce teacher preparation time, which translates into less teachers and less time for students, and (d) allow the provincial government to set the education tax rate without permission for debate in the Legislature or at the local school board level."

I affix my signature as I'm in full agreement.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which relates to the gutting of education and the taking of $667 million out of public education by the passage of Bill 160 and the failure of the government to listen to parents, teachers, trustees and students, who have warned about irreparable damage coming from the passage of Bill 160. The damage will be to public education.

The petitioners, who include over 8,000 from Waterloo, Toronto, Ajax, many parts of the province, are petitioning the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160. I support the petition and I have affixed my signature thereto.


Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): I'm pleased to present a petition which was delivered to me from the Holland Marsh Christian Reform Church, and it reads as follows:

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

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

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

I affix my signature to it.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition from the students and teachers and parents of Vaughan Road academy in my constituency. It's a petition of non-confidence in the Harris government.

"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'll affix my name to this petition from the citizens and parents of Vaughan Road academy.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has recently strengthened its reputation as the Ministry of Medicine through its $1.7-billion three-year agreement with the Ontario Medical Association; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is restricting access to alternative cost-saving treatments for patients of the province; and

"Whereas two recent reports commissioned by the Ministry of Health called for increased OHIP funding to improve patient access to chiropractic services on the grounds of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; and

"Whereas over one million Ontario adults now use chiropractic services annually, increasingly those with higher incomes, because of the cost barrier caused by government underfunding; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has shown blatant disregard for the needs of the citizens of Ontario in restricting funding for chiropractic services;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize the contribution made by chiropractors to the good health of the people of Ontario, to recognize the taxpayer dollars saved by the use of low-cost preventive care such as that provided by chiropractors and to recognize that to restrict funding for chiropractic health care only serves to limit access to a needed health care service."

I am pleased to affix my signature to over 1,500 signatures.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 198 people:

"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 exclusive authority to determine what service 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 performing of abortions."


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have a petition that was provided to me by Judi Cova of James R. Henderson Public School in the Kingston area. It states as follows:

"We, the undersigned concerned parents and citizens of the province of Ontario, wish to let the Ontario government know that we agree that Bill 160, as presently drafted, should not be passed and that further consultation, with input from professionals and others concerned with the education system -- that is to say, school boards, teachers and parents -- must be obtained before the government proceeds with any further changes to Ontario's public education system."

It is signed by 21 individuals. I affix my signature to it as well, as I'm in total agreement with it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Durham East. I'm sorry. The member for --


The Acting Speaker: No need to shout. The member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): We're never sure over here in the third party whether we're heard or not, whether we're actually going to get an opportunity to present some of our stuff.

The Acting Speaker: Read your petition, please.

Mr Martin: Thank you very much. I present to the House this afternoon a petition from literally over 3,500 people in Sault Ste Marie who are really concerned about the situation the Red Cross homemakers face in the province at the moment, perpetuated by the initiatives of this government. It goes like this:

"Whereas the current pay equity legislation affects Red Cross differently than any other provider of homemaker services in Ontario and makes it impossible for the Canadian Red Cross Society to compete on a level playing field; and

"Whereas without a resolution, the Canadian Red Cross Society will be forced to increase wages and benefits" -- imagine: forced to increase wages and benefits -- "already the highest in the industry, by approximately 45% January 1998. The program cannot afford this increase" -- this is a group arguing not to have an increase, because of the Harris agenda;

"Whereas Red Cross provides 80% of the service in rural communities, and in 29 communities Red Cross is the only service provider; and

"Whereas clients in many communities will be left to cope on their own and some 6,000 homemakers and 400 office staff, most of them women, will lose their jobs;

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

"We are very concerned about the Red Cross pay equity issue. We are asking the three party leaders to put people before politics and come together in an non-partisan effort to resolve the homemakers' services pay equity problem."

I might add, we're still waiting for an invitation from the government to attend a meeting --

The Acting Speaker: Petitions, no speech.

Mr Martin: I sign this petition about this issue along with my constituents and present it to the government, and hopefully they will take some serious action about it.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): I have a petition signed by 25 people from the St Marys area, given to me by Ian McKay.

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll sign it so it can be dealt with by this House.



Mr Flaherty moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 161, An Act to provide fairness for parents and employees by providing remedies relating to the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers between October 27 and November 7, 1997 and to make a complementary amendment to the Education Act / Projet de loi 161, Loi favorisant le traitement équitable des parents et des employés en prévoyant des recours à la suite du retrait de services par les enseignants à l'échelle de la province entre le 27 octobre et le 7 novembre 1997 et apportant une modification complémentaire à la Loi sur l'éducation.

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): Mr Speaker, I'll be sharing my time with the members for Simcoe Centre and Durham East.

I am pleased to present Bill 161, the Fairness for Parents and Employees Act, to the Legislature for second reading. This is important legislation that, if passed by the House, will provide fairness to the working families of Ontario who were adversely affected by the province-wide teachers' strike. It will provide some financial relief for the hardship experienced by parents and guardians during the teachers' strike. It would protect parents and guardians who missed work to care for their children during the strike from dismissal or discipline, and it would protect from reprisals by their unions those teachers who chose to stay in the classroom.

Bill 161 keeps a number of promises made by the government of Ontario to the people of Ontario.

On October 24, 1997, at the beginning of the two-week province-wide strike by the teachers, the government of Ontario made a promise to the parents of Ontario that we would provide some relief to them for the disruption to family life and to the education of children caused by the strike. Indeed my colleague the Minister of Education and Training made the clear and unequivocal commitment that the government would do several things: first of all, make payment of up to a maximum of $40 per day per family -- which for the 10-day duration of the strike would be $400 maximum per family -- to the parents of school-aged children to help alleviate the impact of the strike; second, to protect employees who had to care for their children during the strike; and third, to protect teachers who refused to participate in the strike from union reprisals. This legislation fulfils those promises. It is a demonstration to the people of Ontario of the commitment of this government to working families, to employees and to children.


Also, at the outset of the strike I requested that the province's business and employer community show fairness and flexibility in assisting their employees to cope with the difficulties caused by the teachers' strike. In a letter that I wrote to all employers I noted that we all shared concerns about the negative impact of this unnecessary upheaval on our children and the inconveniences and hardships it would cause working parents and their families. I appealed to employers to help employees to adjust their work schedules or to allow them to work at home, or to take other measures such as unscheduled vacation days, to help employees deal with this unfortunate situation.

During the two weeks of the province-wide strike, the parents of this province and their children were indeed forced to take unexpected measures to deal with inconvenience and disruption. Additional burdens were placed on parents' shoulders because many teachers chose not to go to work. The children of this province were denied access to their schools and to the education they are fully entitled to, an education paid for by their hard-working parents. Parents were required by this disruption to stay at home with their children or to find other means of caring for them during school hours. Employers were required to work around the child care needs and responsibilities of their employees.

I am proud that both the business community and working parents and guardians demonstrated both flexibility and good sense during this difficult and disruptive time. That is why at this time we wish to help alleviate the impact of the strike on parents and guardians of school-aged children and also to protect from reprisals the employees of this province and those teachers who honoured their agreements and went to work in the classroom.

Our proposed legislation deals with each of these promises in three sections. Bill 161, the Fairness for Parents and Employees Act, would first of all provide for a payment of up to $40 per family for each day that an eligible child was unable to attend school because of the strike. This means a maximum of $400 for families whose children could not go to school for the full 10-day period of the strike. I emphasize that it is a per family figure, regardless of the number of eligible children in the particular family.

The payment would also apply if children were unable to attend school because transportation -- for example, their school buses -- was not available; if special education programs or services for special needs children were not available. The payment would also apply if children did not attend school --

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think we should have a quorum when the minister is introducing legislation that he feels is so important.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Would you please check if we have a quorum?

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): A quorum is present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Flaherty: The payment would also apply if special education programs or services for special needs children were not available. The payment would also apply if children did not attend school because, in the parents' opinion -- and I emphasize that it is the opinion of the parents that matters -- they would not have been safely supervised at a school or school-based child care centre or nursery school. The payment is available to affected parents and guardians including, for example, those mothers and fathers who would normally stay at home, stay-at-home moms and dads; those who had to enlist the help of relatives such as grandparents; parents who are themselves students in colleges or enrolled in training courses but were forced to miss classes during the strike in order to look after their children.

For the purposes of this legislation, "eligible child" refers to school children 13 years of age or younger or children in child care facilities or day nurseries located in schools that were closed due to the teachers' strike or special needs students in secondary schools. The money for these payments would come from the savings school boards have accumulated as a result of not having to pay striking teachers because the teachers did not go to work.

The school boards will have the following responsibilities: identifying the appropriate school days, determining if students were prevented from attending classes because of the strike and administering the payment to eligible households. Should Bill 161 be approved by the Legislature, parents and guardians will immediately be able to apply for payment through their children's schools and the school boards. There is a form to be provided and I have attempted to ensure that the form is a user-friendly, easy-to-complete, one-page form which parents will be able to complete and submit to their local school or to the local school board in order to obtain the payment.

The school boards will be responsible for ensuring that parents receive payment. This procedure will be straightforward and parents will receive payments as quickly as possible. I am confident that school boards will deal with this task in an efficient and expeditious manner.

The provincial government will not require that receipts be submitted with application forms. A preliminary opinion from Revenue Canada suggests that these payments will not be taxable. However, it is wise for parents to keep their available receipts. There will be a final decision from Revenue Canada if and when this bill becomes law. Revenue Canada at that point would have the opportunity to review the bill in its final form.

There are two exceptions to eligibility for this payment: First of all, of course, teachers who participated in the strike, and the co-parents or co-guardians of their children are not eligible to apply; and second, the families of eligible children attending separate schools in York region may only apply for payment for the school days missed during the first week of the strike, that is, before November 3, because of the particular situation in York region where on November 3 teachers started a legal strike within the collective bargaining process. This payment will not be made for school days missed because of that legal strike.

The working families of Ontario suffered many unforeseen difficulties because of the two-week, province-wide strike by teachers. This payment acknowledges the additional burden which the working families of Ontario shouldered because of the teachers' strike.

The second major purpose of Bill 161 is to ensure that employees are protected from dismissal or discipline if they could not work because of additional child care responsibilities during the teachers' strike. The government believes that the employers of Ontario responded positively in helping their employees deal with the effects of the teachers' strike. This legislation is a way of offering protection, where needed, to the workers of Ontario. Under this legislation an employer is not required to pay salary or wages for work not performed because of the teachers' strike. However, employees are protected from discipline or dismissal because they were unable to carry out their duties during this disruptive strike.


Employees in unionized workplaces will use the grievance procedure in their collective agreement to deal with improper dismissals or discipline during the strike. Employees who are not unionized and who feel they have been dismissed or disciplined improperly during the strike should file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board which will be empowered by this legislation to deal with this issue.

Thirdly, the final purpose of Bill 161 is to prohibit teachers' unions from initiating reprisals against any of their members who refused to break the law and who did not participate in the strike. Under this proposed legislation, no teachers' federation, nor any branch or affiliate, would be permitted to take reprisals against any member who did not support a teachers' union in preparing for the strike, or did not withdraw services or continue to withdraw their services, or crossed or attempted to cross a picket line established in connection with the strike, and/or counselled other teachers against striking or assisted other teachers who did not strike.

In closing, Bill 161 is this government's formal acknowledgement of the difficulties experienced by the working families of Ontario because of the teachers' strike. We know that families pulled together during this disruption. Grandparents came to look after children, neighbours helped one another to look after the interests of children. Employers showed patience and understanding. This government is determined to protect the rights and interests of all those children, families and employees who were adversely affected by the teachers' strike. We are also determined to protect teachers who chose to stay in the classroom. We made specific promises and we are keeping them.

Bill 161 is important legislation that, if passed by this House, will provide fairness to Ontario families. It will provide some relief for the difficulties and expenses that many parents and guardians had to face because of the teachers' strike.

I urge all members to show their support for the working families of Ontario by fully supporting this legislation. By giving Bill 161 speedy passage we can help to alleviate the financial hardship of families adversely affected by the teachers' strike and at the same time protect the rights of employees and those teachers who chose to stay in the classroom. It is time to put this very difficult strike behind us. It is time to move forward with improving the quality of education received by the young people of Ontario.

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I'm certainly pleased to join the debate this afternoon on Bill 161. I think the title of the act speaks for what the government actions are about. The act says "to provide fairness for parents and employees by providing remedies relating to the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers between October 27 and November 7, 1997."

We are living up to the promise we made to protect the interests of children and families disrupted by that illegal teachers' strike. I think it's important for the public to know, when we're dealing with this type of legislation, that it is an enabling piece of legislation in terms of the support that's going to be given to the families. The legislation provides that a maximum of $40 per day would be paid to the entire family, regardless of the number of children. As indicated, receipts do not have to be submitted with an application for payment, but parents and guardians are encouraged to keep them with respect to their own income tax purposes.

The obligations of a board are very important. At this time when we are in the House it's very important for us to understand what the role of a school board is, because quite frankly as a member of the House I didn't know what their role was during the illegal strike. I thought they were there to protect the interests of the public and make sure their employees performed their services in a lawful manner.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): They backed the parents and teachers of the community, and the children, unlike you.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Tascona: The act is very clear with respect to the obligations of the school board for payments to parents and guardians. The act provides that there is a duty on behalf of a school board to pay, and I'll just read that section, "A board that receives a completed application submitted by the prescribed deadline shall pay the applicant the amount to which he or she is entitled under this section."

Let's make it perfectly clear that the school board will be obligated to make payment to an applicant under this act. I don't want there to be any confusion at my MPP office in terms of what the school board's obligations are. As an MPP, I'll certainly direct my constituents in terms of how they can best be helped. In terms of dealing with this obligation, what we have is that a payment would be available only to parents and guardians with school children 13 years of age or younger, children in child care facilities or day nurseries located in schools that were closed due to the teachers' actions, or special needs students in secondary schools.

As a promise that is certainly something the government is committed to. I think it's going to help a lot of families out there that were inconvenienced during the illegal strike. Parents or guardians, as I stated, would be able to apply for payments for any school day between October 27, 1997, and November 7, 1997, on which their children's school or school-based child care centre or nursery was closed, school bus transportation usually used by their children was unavailable, special education programs or services for their special needs children were not available, or in their opinion their children were unable to enter their school or school-based child care centre or nursery school, or were unlikely to be safely supervised there during the teachers' strike.

I think that's a fundamental commitment. I don't believe any parent with children, and I certainly am one of those, really appreciated their child's education being disrupted. For those of us who are in a position to have to pay for child care expenses, we appreciate that the government is taking a responsible position on this matter, unlike the school boards when they were dealing with this matter and chose not to act in the best interests of the public. So I would say that in terms of the payment aspect, that's certainly good news for parents and guardians.

The other aspect of the bill which I think is long overdue is in terms of dealing with the somewhat draconian and all-encompassing powers of unions, and teachers' unions in particular, when you're dealing with illegal strike activity. We have in the act, and I think have very specifically put in the act, prohibitions, prohibitions not only against teachers' unions but also against employers.

Section 4 of the act deals with the enforcement of prohibitions: "No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall dismiss or discipline an employee because the employee was, on any day during the period beginning on October 27 and ending on November 7, 1997, unable to perform some or all of his or her duties" because of this illegal strike.


The enforcement mechanism for that if you're a unionized employee is to deal with it under the collective agreement. If there is no collective agreement because you happen to be in the position that you're a non-union employee, you can make a complaint to the labour relations board if in fact such activity by an employer was taken against you for that type of activity.

With respect to teachers' unions, section 5 of the act provides a mechanism for enforcement under the Labour Relations Act, so a complaint would have to be made under the Labour Relations Act. It's very clear and I think it should be set out very clearly in terms of what action the government is taking: "A teachers' union shall not suspend, expel or penalize a teacher or otherwise act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith in the representation of a teacher" because the teacher engaged in a number of activities. I'll only deal with a couple of them, but it strikes at the heart of what I would consider the right to work of any individual in this province.

One of them is that they "did not support a teachers' union in preparing for the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers"; they "opposed proposals that teachers withdraw their services," or in fact the teacher "did not withdraw his or her services or did not continue his or her withdrawal of services," or "crossed or attempted to cross a picket line" established in connection with the province-wide strike, or "counselled another teacher against withdrawing his or her services or assisted another teacher who continued to provide services."

What we're dealing with here is a prohibition that deals with illegal strike activity on behalf of the teachers' unions. Those types of protections are currently found in the Labour Relations Act, which deals specifically with illegal strike activity; in other words, protecting a worker against actions being taken against them by their trade union for engaging in an activity that the union doesn't believe is in the interests of the union, even though they have the right to work.

To be specific, the Labour Relations Act at the present time does not cover teachers' unions. That's why this type of provision has to be put in Bill 161 to ensure that teachers' unions don't take action against teachers who actually wanted to work or disagreed with their beliefs with respect to this illegal strike.

I would pose the question in terms of dealing with this, because we're dealing with a fundamental issue here of the right to work and also of the right to dissent and free expression: It may be that we should be looking at applying this type of measure not only to illegal strike activity, protecting workers, but also applying it to all unions where we're involved in a legal strike, and I emphasize that: a legal strike. There should be such things as workplace democracy and there should also be union democracy. I would say that we should also add employee democracy in terms of their rights not only within a workplace dealing with their employer but also dealing with their union. They should have democratic rights in dealing with their own union.

In terms of dealing with this, unions, as most of the members here know -- and if they don't, I'll refresh their memories, especially the opposition parties -- were created by statute under the Labour Relations Act or the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act, and I would submit that their actions should be subject to legislative protection for individual employees.

There are protections with respect to unions dealing with their negotiations, dealing with their grievances in terms of a duty of fair representation, but what we have here is a situation where there's an illegal strike and the union can take measures under its own constitution to punish a member for having crossed a picket line where they're actually supposed to be at work or not agreeing with their beliefs.

I think that looks at a very important aspect of a right to work. Why shouldn't a worker be able to work in an illegal strike or a legal strike position? I think that's a fundamental right. It also should be a fundamental right to not agree with their union: the right of dissent, the right of free expression, which is currently not protected for legal strike activity under the Labour Relations Act or the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act.

Currently, trade unions' actions are taken internally and they're treated like a private club. The courts can't interfere and the Legislature can't interfere when they take actions against their members where you as a normal human being would say: "Why should you be able to do that against someone who is basically expressing their opinion and wants to go to work? Why can't they cross a picket line if they feel they want to work?"

Since unions are currently treated like a private club, I would think that we should be looking at making them subject to legislative or judicial scrutiny unless we're dealing with actions that would be breaching the law with respect to their activity. Obviously the government wouldn't want to protect actions contrary to the law.

I would put this in the context of this particular strike. In a legal strike situation and also an unlawful strike, which we just went through, where the employer and the union are the combatants, what you find is you have individual employees who are essentially forgotten about in the legislation. They're actually forgotten about in terms of their rights. They're often the meat in the sandwich. They don't have the right to voice their dissent, freedom of expression, because they may be penalized under the union constitution. They don't have the right to cross the line because the union's going to get even with them. That's the full thrust of this prohibition that we're dealing with in an illegal strike.

I think this is a fundamental principle that I would support, the right to work in this province, the right to have free expression, and I don't think unions should be immune from that kind of right. I think most people here who are reasonable and unbiased in their views --

Mr Christopherson: Hello, South Carolina, Alabama.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, come to order, please.

Mr Tascona: -- unlike the current member who's speaking up here right now, would support that as a reasonable citizen of this province.

One other area I'd like to speak about which may be important for certain teachers and obviously for citizens in this province is that there were teachers who crossed the picket line. There were teachers who did attend schools and attempt to provide their services. Certainly if the illegal strike had not ended after two weeks, we might have seen a flood of teachers cross the line.

What I think is important here is that you're dealing with a structure right now that perhaps isn't totally fair to an individual teacher, because under the current structure we have principals and vice-principals who are part of the teachers' union and are also charged under the Education Act to run a school. As you know, during the illegal strike they chose not to cross the picket line. In fact they didn't fulfil their responsibilities under the Education Act to provide teaching in a school, this despite the fact that they're in charge of the site-based management for the school. They have management control in terms of dealing with the teachers who are under them.

I think that's something the minister should consider, because there is that fundamental conflict between the principal and the vice-principal being a member of the teachers' union and at the same time being in charge of running a school. At the same time, they are aware that there were teachers who are under their charge who did cross the lines. I'm quite concerned that their rights are protected, because the act only deals with teachers' unions directly taking action against them. I would think there should be, as a consideration, reprisal protection, which is provided currently under the Employment Standards Act, the Labour Relations Act and the Human Rights Code, for individuals who exercise their rights under those particular statutes not to have action taken against them because they have exercised their rights under their statute. Teachers have a right to go to work, certainly to charge their duties, during a school year, especially when they're under a collective agreement and are not expected to set up picket lines and are expected to go into school.


I think there's something fundamental here because of the principals' and vice-principals' particular position, that they not be in a position to basically take action, dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee, or to discipline, impose a penalty, or intimidate or coerce a teacher who crossed that picket line. That's something that's not in the current bill, but that's something I could see should be given serious consideration, because teachers who crossed the picket line exercised their fundamental right and were acting in accordance with the law.

When we deal with prohibitions here, I think we're dealing with prohibitions against employers who take action against teachers or parents or guardians who were attempting to get to work because of this strike and had child care responsibilities. There are protections here against teachers' unions with respect to taking action against teachers who crossed the picket line or didn't agree with their views. It may be something we should visit in terms of principals and vice-principals if that's what's happening with respect to this movement for solidarity and in terms of interference in the classroom, in terms of how teachers are being allowed to conduct their fundamental job, which is to teach other students.

I wouldn't want to see that interfered with because we have an ongoing issue with respect to a piece of legislation and something that will hopefully have to be resolved in the classroom in terms of teachers getting back to their curriculum and teaching that.

In summary, I think the government has fulfilled their promise with respect to how they would take certain action with respect to the illegal teachers' strike. They provided the fundamental protections for employees with respect to their employers, the fundamental protection for teachers with respect to their teachers' union, and they may want to revisit the school situation in terms of ensuring that teachers are permitted, by their right, to teach within the classroom and not be interfered with by individuals who are in a position of authority. They should be allowed to conduct themselves as teachers and teach the core curriculum they're charged to do.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise today in support of Bill 161. I just stress at the opening that the Minister of Labour, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, I am pleased to say, is one of my colleagues from Durham -- the five blue jays -- and I have a great deal of respect for his expertise and dedication. This legislation, his first piece of legislation, is very fine work.

First of all, during the interruption of school service we had many calls -- I'm sure all members from all parties had many calls -- from parents really very concerned. The government responded rather quickly to all the constituents in Ontario, especially those who were placed in a very difficult situation -- without much participation, I might add -- and the result was a commitment by this government to deliver. As you know, this government delivers on its promises.

For the sake of trying to be helpful today, I want to talk about Bill 161, which is this legislation entitled "An Act to provide fairness for parents and employees by providing remedies relating to the province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers between October 27 and November 7, 1997 and to make a complementary amendment to the Education Act."

For the sake of those who may be watching today, to be helpful and to educate, I'm only going to focus on one of the three sections of the bill. I'm going to focus on the section "Payments to Parents and Guardians" adversely affected by the teachers' strike.

Mr Tascona from Simcoe Centre covered very clearly many of the labour relations issues, but for a bit of levity here I'm going to introduce the very first aspect of the bill and I'm going to read it into the record, because I think it's one of the controversial pieces of language that people are having trouble with. It says:

"This act applies with respect to schools, and child care facilities and day nurseries located on the premises of schools, that were affected by a province-wide withdrawal of services by teachers from October 27 to November 7, 1997."

Then it goes on, and it starts like all bills, and I'm going to draw this to your attention: "Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, enacts as follows."

All of us know that legislation usually uses that kind of language where the Lieutenant Governor in Council allows certain things to happen. That's the language that many people called me on, on Bill 160, that was problematic. Just to share with them: It's not problematic. That's the tradition of this great province.

The eligibility portion is very important for the viewer today to hear: "A child is an eligible child for the purposes of this section if, on October 27, 1997, (a) he or she was 13 years of age or less and was enrolled in a school, (b) he or she was enrolled in school and was receiving special education programs or services because he or she had been identified as an exceptional pupil (but not solely as a gifted pupil) or because school staff considered that he or she had special needs....

"Entitlement to payment

"A parent or guardian of one or more eligible children is entitled to the payment determined under this section for each school day during the period beginning on October 27 and ending on November 7, 1997 on which an eligible child ordinarily resided with the parent or guardian...."

It's very important to recognize that to make this less confusing and less cumbersome it's clear that the parents would normally, if they have receipts, retain them. If they don't, still the purpose is to present their case, their application -- it's very clear they must have an application -- to the board. There will be prescribed forms and there will be prescribed deadlines for filing those forms, and only one claim per family. There's a maximum claim per family of $40 over a 10-day duration.

It's a commitment of this government to try and help those families who had to make alternative arrangements for a situation which they did not cause. I think it's an important commitment of this government and it's not very prescriptive and it's not restrictive. It includes all people with children under 13 or children with special needs.

If you read through the bill you're going to find that there's another section here which is similar to the language in Bill 160. Some people have difficulty with the legalese, if you will, of some of the legislation. I'm reading here from Bill 161, subsection 6(9): "A decision, determination or order of the board is final and binding for all purposes."

I suggest to you that the whole sum of time -- and there are exemptions. The minister has addressed those for boards that were in a legal strike position. It's very simple: If you were affected and you are a parent and your child is under 13, you are eligible. It's that simple. If you want to call my constituency office, we will be there to help you, I assure you. All members are there to help and to listen and to serve.

It's funny, as people are talking, it's a very important issue of the day. I'm holding here a very favourite colour -- it's not a protest, Madam Speaker, but it is part of the literature that's been sent home as part of the schools' activity to send information into the home via the children. This is one of those that I'm holding up here. I had many calls today that that is repulsive to many parents, that the children are being used as little mules to get this information into the home.

I want to just say that, for instance, if they wanted to be helpful, they could easily give these applications to the children to bring home. That would be productive and effective.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I thought you said you didn't want them to be used as mules.

Mr O'Toole: I'm saying I'd prefer if they'd use something of value. I wanted for the record to also recognize a number of the school community councils that really have asked me this question, "How's this going to work?" More important, Michelle Bolson from Dr Ross Tilley school in --


Mr O'Toole: Yes, Dr Ross Tilley was a famous burn surgeon, if you wish to ask, and he was from Bowmanville.

The article that Mr Bradley refers to is one point of view on the bill, but I would encourage him to read a number of points of view on the bill.

There are other members of the parent council community I would like to recognize who have worked very hard. They're caught in the middle of this. They are parents, many of them with children who indeed were under their charge for 10 days in a non-planned and non-scheduled way. One is Cathy Abraham, whom I have spoken with many times, from Newcastle public school, and I know she will be relieved to find out that Bill 161 and this government are there to help them.


In my concluding remarks, I just want to suggest that I have also had a letter from people who are suggesting: "Is this fair? How come all taxpayers pay for education?" All taxpayers pay for education. I have had a couple of letters and this is just one. One of my constituents objects to the payment of the $40 per day per family for days of school missed. He feels that all supporters should be paid for the education. They paid for education through their taxes. They didn't pay for babysitting.

So you see just how much dislocation this had caused in our communities. This person I am speaking of is a senior citizen on a fixed income. They have been crying for years that their school taxes have been going up. They have had no say in it, virtually no say at all, and yet here's a case where the money wasn't spent for the purpose of the intended tax.

Mr Christopherson: Now they totally get no say.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Wildman: Could a stay-home parent get this?

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Algoma.

Mr O'Toole: There is a very clear case where there isn't uniform conformity with the demand that this $40 should be paid. Indeed, that case could probably be made to every taxpayer in Ontario because we all pay for public education, either on our municipal tax or at the general provincial grant level.

Mr Christopherson: That's right. You don't give a receipt for tax.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Hamilton Centre, come to order.

Mr O'Toole: That money is going to help educate our children and I think this bill is going to help relieve the problem that the disruption caused to many families in Ontario. Thank you, Madam Speaker, I am pleased to make my comments.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The member for Peterborough.

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am pleased to rise today to also debate and talk about this particular bill. I would like to do it basically from the perspective of the grandparent situation because I have four grandkids who were very much inconvenienced because of this situation.

It was interesting. I happened to speak to a school group the other day and a couple of the students had a question of me. I said rather than referring it to me, why not refer it to the people who were representing the union? The question was: "How, during this two-week strike, did it help my education?" An interesting comment from students, because we keep hearing from the other side about how terrible this is. But an interesting comment: "How did it make education in this province any better?"

Regarding these dollars that are going to go to the people of this province who cared about the children, I'd suggest to you that parents were inconvenienced, grandparents were inconvenienced, they were put in major financial difficulty, they were put under stress and strain to find out places for their children to be looked after in the manner in which they wanted them to be.

I believe the entire family was involved and I believe when families are inconvenienced like this and families are under stress like this for the time period that it was, that we as a province have to look at ways of somehow compensating those folks. This I believe is a payment for inconvenience and I suggest to you that is one of the things that concerned me very much.

I believe the children, the students under 13, were put in a very vulnerable situation, in a situation where, was caring really involved? I have difficulty with that. I believe the children were used as pawns to promote an illegal activity, and I have great difficulty with that. I would not have had the great problem with it if all the things had been legal, but they weren't. It was an illegal strike, it was civil disobedience, and I believe if there is one thing we should do, it is to in some way compensate those who have had financial difficulty.

I would also like to say a very sincere thank you. I can't for Ontario, but I can to the organizations in my community -- YWCA, YMCA, the church groups, many of them -- who opened their doors to make sure that a number of these children were looked after, and looked after well. I truly believe these folks need to be compensated. Many of them are organizations. I hear comments about receipts. Most of those organizations are company-run operations. They are businesses that I can assure you will be giving receipts, because the revenue from this will be going into their organizations.

There are a couple of other speakers who would like to make comments on this, and I would like to pass some additional time over to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This will be good.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Yes, it will be good, to the member for St Catharines. I'm trying to anticipate his particular view of this world on this bill. I would surmise his perception would be that it would be completely unnecessary.

I'm sure we're going to hear from members opposite that there wasn't any disruption. It was sort of a fantasy that occurred for those two weeks; there was no inconvenience to any of the families who had children in school, whatever their age up to 13, even teenagers. This thing was really like a minor blip as families go through 1997. "It was a political protest" has been the major perception by folks from the other side, and it's just one of those things where you have a breakdown in public services in order to satisfy the specific goals of those groups that went out from the teacher federations. So we're going to hear that there was actually no impact whatsoever, no effect at all, and that if there was a cause for it, the cause has to be the government of Ontario, that nobody else is responsible for this situation. Those will be three of the major theses we're going to hear from across the way.

We're going to also hear that the $40 is purely a bribe, that from their perception it's a mockery of real need and real inconvenience, because obviously they had hardly any calls at their constituency offices regarding the inconvenience -- real inconvenience, not perceived. In my own particular riding, I had several calls from single mothers, from families who didn't know where they were going to take their kids. Some of them took their kids to work for at least three of those 10 days, but that's not an inconvenience, especially to the members from the third party.

What concerns me about this bill is its implementation by the school boards. I'm hopeful that the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education will ensure that the application forms are clear, fairly simple and can be filled out in a very minimal amount of time, and that when the members of any community throughout Ontario approach a respective school board for an application, they will be readily accessible by whatever means, if not in person then through the Internet.

I'm more than happy, and I'm sure the Minister of Labour will ensure that these forms are available at members' constituency offices for those folks who want to pick them up there. I'm sure members of the two parties opposite certainly wouldn't want to participate in any kind of customer service to that extent, because they will be arguing -- the scare we often hear -- that this is probably going to be the beginning of a voucher system. So we'll be sure that they will not be participating in this particular exercise from a practical customer convenience viewpoint, because they believe (a) that there wasn't any interruption at all, and (b) that the interruption was minor, if that, and that families could make out on their own, that there was no problem really.


That's going to be their contention, and I'd like to hear how they can argue in practical and realistic terms that there was no interruption at all, that it had no inconvenience or adverse impact on one family in Ontario, regardless of whether it was nuclear or there were four kids or four grandchildren involved.


Mr Hastings: We don't want to hear about that.

The other thing is, they're certainly going to argue that this is not an entitlement that is argued in the bill, that you're going to have to have income tax receipts, so I'll be expecting to hear from them that they have a letter of interpretation from Revenue Canada that they can read into the record that in point of fact would buttress and support their argument that this is a receipt-based approach, not an entitlement as has been deemed in the law by this particular bill. They ought to be able to produce very readily that particular piece of evidence to justify that it is a receipt.

Finally, let me conclude by stating that this bill is not an expense whatsoever, unless you accept in your mind the continuing fantasy or perpetual denial that really nothing occurred for those two weeks, that it was business as usual in education. If you look at the other side of the coin, that certainly isn't the reality confirmed by questions by the members opposite on Bill 160 in this House or in terms of the other events we've seen on the outside in reports in the media, so something must have happened during those weeks of October 27 through to November 7. This bill regarding the payment of $40 per child per household is a direct response and reflection of what actually happened out there. If they start to argue that, it will be interesting to see what kind of philosophical garb they can put around it or what kind of science fiction context, I guess, they can put around it. It's going to be absolutely fascinating to hear that.

I'm sure they'll also be arguing that this is an attack on families. I suppose we'll hear that argument as well in a new, stretched form, or that they don't recognize families, or whatever the stretch of imagination. I anticipate with considerable enthusiasm how they are going to argue this one in terms of whom we're attacking now. I suppose some of them will argue that the payment is an attack on families.

I guess what we also need to recognize --


The Deputy Speaker: Sir, you will have to leave the gallery. Stop the clock, please. Five-minute recess.

The House recessed from 1645 to 1650.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Clear both galleries, please. Both galleries must be cleared.

Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.

Mr Hastings: I would simply like to reiterate the fundamental point of Bill 161, that it will serve in helping families who endured considerable inconvenience in trying to find alternative child care and other alternative arrangements for their children during these two weeks, the last week of October and the first week of November. It is a good piece of legislation from that viewpoint and it goes some way in recognizing a financial need of those working families particularly which had to pay for the costs of child care during this particular time. I think the bill serves that principle and I hope all the families which were adversely affected take advantage of this particularly positive piece of legislation.

Finally, I conclude that it will be interesting to hear from members opposite as to what sensible alternatives they would have in terms of dealing with this situation if they recognize that there was inconvenience, that adverse situations developed out of those two weeks by the withdrawal of services by teachers in the five different teacher federations. Therefore, I strongly advocate that we get on with the passing of this bill in its present form.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Bradley: My first comment is on the contention by the Minister of Labour that somehow there would be a fear of reprisals taking place when in fact my understanding is that all the teachers' federations said there would be no reprisals against anyone who did not participate in the province-wide protest which took place at schools across the province.

The only reprisals that we have seen to this point in time are the reprisals initiated by the Harris government through the auspices of the Minister of Education, and that is after John Snobelen the previous Minister of Education proudly said in the House that he had no intention of including principals and vice-principals in the removal of people from the federation membership. In other words, they were to retain their memberships in the various affiliates of the teachers' federation. The government turned around after the province-wide protest and removed the principals and the vice-principals from the membership in the federation.

Anybody who understands the collegiality and the teamwork that takes place within education would understand why this is an unwise move and why it smacks of reprisals and vindictiveness as opposed to a decision being made. I applauded former Minister of Education Mr Snobelen on a few occasions. One of those occasions was when he announced that they would not be removing principals and vice-principals from the federations. Some of the other things I might disagree with, but that was one with which I agreed. I thought that was the government's position. Indeed, many of the government members were purveying that as being a very positive aspect of Bill 160. The only reprisals we've seen as a result of the province-wide protest have been initiated by the backroom boys in the Harris government who insist that we punish principals and vice-principals.

Mr Christopherson: For the benefit of people who are watching at home, I think maybe a bit of a comment on what just took place is in order. The fact is, I'm responding to what took place in this place, Speaker. In response to the comments of government members, citizens in the gallery had placed tape over their mouths symbolically to indicate their displeasure and distaste for this government's form of anti-democracy. The reality is that this government hasn't listened to anyone, including the people who have, through faxes and phone calls and letters and protests, said that they want more debate on Bill 160; at the very least they want more debate.

What do we see on our TV now as a result of the government's actions, all the things that this government is defending here today? We don't see a return to the 1950s with June and Ward Cleaver, which is what they want; we've got a return to the 1960s where we've got a growing momentum of civil disobedience. No matter how hard the government members try to paint those people as being anarchists and terrorists, the same way you want to make every democratically elected union leader some kind of horrible union boss, the reality is these are law-abiding citizens who feel that in response to your extremism they have no choice but to take the actions they're taking.

You have every opportunity, if you really believe in democracy, to give Bill 160 its hearing, and Bill 161 for that matter. But you have no interest in that. You have greater interest in taking the money out of our education system to pay for your tax cuts. The Minister of Labour stood there a few minutes ago and said it was awful that kids were being used in this debate between the government and teachers. The reality is that you're using kids by taking money out of their education system to pay for your tax cuts, for the millions of dollars that your friends are getting.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): Let's recognize what the government's doing. This is their latest in many fights. First they took on people on social assistance. That was an easy win for you. They were vulnerable, they had no voice and you beat them up. The next was our public sector unions and you had a good fight there. You took them on and you beat them up. The hospital workers: You've taken them on. This is a fight with the teachers. I think it's fair to say, on any objective analysis, that I've never seen Ontario as divided as it is right now. I've never seen society pitted one against another as it is now.

I was chairman of a school board. I was on a school board for 11 years. I've never seen our teachers as concerned as they are about the quality of education and the future of education in Ontario.


Bill 161 is another example of the constant fight you are in. My colleague from St Catharines mentioned it. A major part of this bill is "to prevent reprisals." Let me just say this: Whether you like it or not, the teachers' organizations are by nature perhaps among the most democratic organizations you can find. Each school has a teacher representative and they have a debate almost daily on the role of their federation.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): They didn't get a vote on the strike, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: The member is saying they didn't have a vote on the strike. The teachers elect the people to represent them. It is a democratic society in the teachers' organization. What we've got in Bill 160 --

The Acting Speaker: The clock isn't showing, but your time has expired. Further comments and questions?

Mr Christopherson: On a point of order, Speaker: Two days I was denied the five minutes that my colleague from Fort York left me to speak because we went by that clock up there which was wrong, and the Speaker ruled we could only go by the official clock. That clock at this moment is not working and not indicating, so I would like to know under what authority you have deemed Mr Phillips's time has been used up. I would suggest you either adjourn the House and fix the clock or recognize Mr Phillips still has the floor.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. The authority I was using was my own watch. We'll do what we can to get the clock fixed.

Mr Christopherson: Or adjourn the House.

The Acting Speaker: I'll take that as a suggestion. I only need it once.

Mr Phillips: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was attempting to determine how much time I had left. I gather you were using your own watch. It would have been helpful to me in speaking if you would have indicated to me that the clock wasn't working but that you were keeping time. I just assumed you would begin the clock --

The Acting Speaker: I want to be completely fair and reasonable about this. I'll let you finish out the clock that is up there now.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate the fairness of that, Mr Speaker. I wasn't trying to be difficult but I was waiting for the clock to begin.

I wanted to say with that the bill we are dealing with, which is Bill 161 but it flows out of Bill 160, the government has given itself the power to set taxes with no vote, nothing in the Legislature, all by regulation, and yet they are attacking the teachers' federation leadership saying, "That's not democratic." The federation leadership get elected on an annual basis. They have to get the support of the teachers in their organization. That is a democratic organization.

The bill you have put before us is perhaps one of the most undemocratic bills I've ever seen. Setting the budgets of every school board by regulation, never an approval: We will get no chance to approve any budget of a school board. Setting over half of the business property tax rate by regulation: Nobody will see that; no opportunity to debate it. Setting residential tax rates: no opportunity for any debate. It is essentially taking over the complete total control of education. It isn't going to be here in the Legislature; it is going to be the Minister of Education. It is frankly absurd to suggest the federation leadership are undemocratic when in fact the most undemocratic bill we've ever seen is Bill 160.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): We're debating Bill 161 here. We know it's being done very much not just on the heels of Bill 160, but is so tied into Bill 160, which takes away fundamental powers that exist now at the local school board level, that increases in an exorbitant way the powers the Minister of Education has to the point not only where the system will be highly centralized but to the point where any sense of local democracy will disappear from our school system.

That is on top of the real reason we know this government is doing that, which is to cut another $700 million out of the system, which I recall members opposite denying in real surprise at the time we pointed that out when Bill 160 was being debated on second reading. I can just imagine how they must have reacted when the Premier had to finally admit that indeed the government was going to cut another $700 million out of the school system.

What they're trying to do through this bill is to simply try to gain back some of the support they clearly have lost. I have to look no further than the way they have put this bill together. They tried to position it initially as being that this was a way to reimburse parents for legitimate costs they incurred. How could any of us be anything but supportive of that notion? Speaker, as you probably know, that's not what this bill does, because this bill not only requires no form of proof that people have incurred any of those expenses, it's not even a requirement that you've incurred any expenses. As long as you had a child in the system in a school that was closed, you're entitled to receive up to $400. All it is is a compensation fund of some kind.

I say to people, from a government that's supposed to be fiscally prudent, to simply be giving money out, whether or not people incurred those expenses, is at the very least highly irresponsible. I wonder how members across are going to justify that kind of action. It's one thing to reimburse people; it's another to just throw money away.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has two minutes to respond.

Mr Hastings: I'd finally like to wrap up the discussion on Bill 160 and Bill 161 by pointing out certain things for the record that need to be put on the record, ie the great social con act of the previous regime extracted at least $1 billion out of the education system. Where were the teachers when it came to that particular piece of legislation, which didn't get one nanosecond of consultation time in this Legislature?

When we talk about, as the member for Dovercourt does, the removal of powers, the only fundamental power that is being removed from local school boards deals with the taxation power; that is the only power that is being removed under Bill 160. Of course they want to create the aura that the world has been changed upside down. If that's true, what they both should have done when they were in government, over here, was completely get rid of the Education Act that had been built up over the last 40 years, with all the statutory authority in there.

In particular, responding to the issue we've had in question period about the minister's powers and the financial competence of school boards, in point of fact there has only been one school board in about 70 years that has ever been taken over by the Minister of Education, and I believe that was in the Ottawa-Carleton region. There is another school board that could have been taken over, and if I looked at the record -- I recall there was a supervisory sort of nature put on it by the Ministry of Education and Training -- that was the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board when they ran a least two if not three years of deficits.

That's where the minister's powers could have been exercised by this government; it didn't occur. All the blathering we're hearing from across the way about that is completely factually inaccurate and they're usually at the old fearmongering.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker, I want to acknowledge I'll be sharing the time with the member for St Catharines.

I would have thought the government would be attempting to begin to pull people together in the education community. As I said earlier in my remarks, I have never seen the education community as worried and concerned about the future of education as they are now. I don't think Mike Harris could have done more damage to the educational system if he had planned it for 10 years. The commercials that he ran attacking the educational system have been, in my opinion, inaccurate. As a matter of fact, I was just looking today, at a letter from Deputy Minister of Education to the North York school board because they won an international award of excellence. The letter from the deputy minister referred to, and I'm paraphrasing here, the finest-quality educational system in North America. They won four out of five awards for international excellence.


Mr Bradley: Does it say that in the ads?

Mr Phillips: It doesn't say that in the ads, as my colleague said, but the Deputy Minister of Education in a letter to the North York school board was praising the quality of education.

Mike Harris, when he went to Europe, praised the quality of education. He said that a huge competitive advantage of doing business in Ontario is that we have an education system second to none. But then, when it suits his political agenda to gut spending on our public education system, he starts a program to denigrate our educational system and to demoralize our teaching profession.

All of us have seen those ads and seen the damage they have done to the morale of our teaching staff. Education is a fairly straightforward endeavour. It is getting a motivated, well-trained, professional teacher in front of a group of students in a safe, warm, caring environment. To undermine the most important aspect of education -- the single most important aspect of education is the teacher. All of us, surely, believe that.

What we have here is a government that has decided that they have to attack the system; they have to create a crisis; they have to undermine the system so that they can have the authority, frankly, to cut money out of the system. I was interested to see that once again I think it was the secretary of cabinet, the senior bureaucrat, indicated that the document that the Deputy Minister of Education prepared saying that it was going to be her goal to cut $666 million out was an accurate document. That was in fact what the government told the deputy to do. Those were the instructions from the political masters and that's what she was instructed to do.

I would ask the Conservative back bench: Get the Minister of Education to acknowledge that was the deputy minister's contract, that was the instruction he gave her to cut $666 million dollars out of education. They will not deny that. That was established as a matter of policy by Mike Harris. That was directed to the Deputy Minister of Education and she was instructed to do that.

The reason I raise that is because for weeks we asked the Premier: "What is your real objective here? Is it to cut money out of education?" "No, it's not. I'm not going to cut anything. I might add money to it." Then when he was exposed and the document became public -- and it is a document. It's not a draft document. It is what the deputy had agreed to do as a result of the political masters directing her. That single revelation completely undermined Mike Harris' credibility on the education issue. He was saying: "Oh no, we're not going cut money. This is all about quality of education."

I would also say that in terms of credibility on this issue, the education bill does something I think is simply wrong. It gives Mike Harris the authority to set the tax rate by the stroke of a pen. My friends in the business community cannot believe they will not even have a chance to have an input into the mill rate that he's going to set on their property; it'll just be done by regulation.

The part I find the most objectionable about Bill 161 is that it's more bashing of the federations. That's not helpful. If you think the federations do not represent the teachers, you are making a huge mistake. There may be some teachers that don't agree with the federations. That's understandable; of 126,000 teachers, there will be some that don't agree. But the federations go through an annual election. It is a totally democratic organization and the federations do speak for the teachers. To be using this bill to further attack and try to undermine the federations' leadership is wrong. What the government should be doing is begin to build some bridges because you have fundamentally undermined the morale in the education system.

I might say that the Minister of Education no longer uses the words "illegal strike." The reason he doesn't use that is because the judge essentially said, "You can't use `illegal strike.'" I know for a long while Mike Harris loved to use "illegal strike." Well, here's what happened when the government took its case before a judge, who people in Ontario accept as an independent arbitrator, a knowledgeable person who will look at the facts. What did the judge say about the strike? The judge said: "I am not making any determination on the legality or the illegality of it. In many respects this bill they are presenting is so broad and sweeping in its nature, encompasses so many changes to fundamental issues, that it may very well be unconstitutional." That's what the judge said.

So you will notice that Dave Johnson, the Minister of Education, never used the word "illegal" after that, because he recognized that the judge suggested maybe this bill not only is legal, but maybe it is unconstitutional. So the minister was forced to back off.

The provisions in the bill to attack the federations' leadership are redundant. They can't do that anyway. They don't have the legal authority to do that. It's simply a further attempt by Mike Harris to bash the federations. I would have hoped that by now the government would have said, "Listen. It's time to try to begin some healing," rather than continue to escalate the fight.

I was interested in a comment made by one of the other members of the Conservative caucus, that they're going to ensure that we in the opposition can't participate in this program. Well, that's pretty typical of what I call their bully tactics.

The reason I am concerned about this particular bill -- and I understand the reasons for reimbursing people -- is that the theme of it is to attack the federations' leadership. I say to people in Ontario: This is a government that tries to take on its enemies one by one; beat them up, move on to the next one. It started with social assistance. That was an easy win for you because a lot of people in Ontario are concerned about how much money goes into social assistance and things like that. But I would just say that in that fight the ones that suffer the most are the young children. Half a million of the young people in Ontario rely on social assistance for their food and clothing and housing. That was the first big fight, and Mike Harris thinks he won that.

Then he took on OPSEU and we remember the severe disruption around the Legislature around the OPSEU public service strike. Mike Harris was pretty proud of himself. Dave Johnson thinks he won that fight. The government then moved on to closing hospitals. Now it's getting a little tougher.


Finally, I think history will show it was the teachers on October 27, when they took their political action -- I must say I know a lot of teachers. We all probably know a lot of teachers. I don't think there was a teacher that Monday morning who didn't get up worried about their decision. I think 99% of them wanted to be in the class that day. Financially, every teacher in this province gave up a substantial amount of money. They laid their money on the line. They paid for this. They lost money every single day, a substantial amount of money. For many of them, like most people, it was a significant financial sacrifice. But they made that decision.

It cost them a lot of money. They love their students. It was very difficult to not be in class that day. Mike Harris was on TV saying: "What they're doing is illegal. They're breaking the law. They're lawbreakers," almost "They should be arrested."

It was very difficult for each teacher to make that decision that morning: "Do I break the law? Do I give up my pay?" For many of them it's important, mortgage payments and all of this, but each and every teacher made an incredible personal financial sacrifice in the interests of the future of public education in Ontario.

The ads that Mike Harris ran were like that squeaky chalk on the chalkboard, when I went to school at least, where that awful sound went down the board and you quivered with the sound of it. That was those commercials to Ontario: Mike Harris scratching the chalk across the board and causing incredible discomfort because he was determined he's going to beat those teacher federations. Well, he didn't, and I think now the people of Ontario recognize that they have lost a say in the education system. It's all going to be done not even by the Legislature; it's going to be done by Mike Harris, and Dave Johnson I guess, but behind closed doors.

If there's one thing I think that Ontarians have valued from the first days when the rural community got together and each farm met in somebody's house to determine, "We've got to hire a teacher to teach our young people," and then they built the schools, it was that local input into the school. It's completely, totally gone, including they'll have no say in the budget. It will be just simply decreed from here. For most of the Conservative back bench that I know, that's almost the opposite of what they told me they believed in, which is some local input, some local decision-making.

The thought of a faceless bureaucrat in downtown Toronto telling Flesherton what their school budget should be was anathema to Bill Murdoch, but that's what this bill does. It really does it.

I understand the compensation, and it will be politically popular, but I think the public should recognize, within that bill are steps designed essentially to provoke a fight once again with our teacher leadership. It's unnecessary. If the bill simply dealt with the remuneration for parents, it would be something that we could have a reasoned, sensible debate on, but it is part of the continuing fight that Mike Harris wants with our teachers and our teacher leadership and it's a mistake, Mr Speaker. It's a mistake.

Mr Bradley: I appreciate the opportunity to discuss Bill 161, which you and I know, Mr Speaker, flows entirely from 160. In fact, if we did not have Bill 160, we would not need Bill 161.

I've watched what has evolved over the last number of weeks, and I have been extremely perturbed, as many of my friends who are normally supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party have become perturbed. In fact, I cannot recall any issue where I have heard from as many people who have been consistently and historically long-time Conservative supporters, who have indicated their disappointment, their disgust and their intention not to support -- in fact, not just not to support, but to actively work against this government.

I know everybody over there expects someone in the opposition is going to say that. I must tell you, it has flabbergasted even me to hear some of the people I know personally who have been good Conservative supporters over the years -- we're still friends -- in St Catharines and the surrounding area. They've worked for the Conservative Party and I know it. It doesn't mean we don't get along socially and so on, but I know of their consistent support for the party. When I hear these people saying they're not going to support the Conservative Party, it means you're going to be left with the rump that supports the Reform Party and don't support anybody else.

I sat in on the hearings in St Catharines -- you'd be interested in this, Mr Speaker -- on Bill 160, which causes this bill to be necessary. One of the people who tried to appear was the former constituency assistant of the Honourable Robert Welch, former Deputy Premier, former Minister of Education, former minister of the crown in many areas. She stood up and had to be taken out by guards who were there to do that job, security people. She stood and denounced them. She said, "I worked for them in the last election." She stated, "I was the constituency assistant for Bob Welch." She tried to appear at this hearing and was denied that opportunity.

I saw Steve Kaiser there; he's the head of the Urban Development Institute. He got a full half-hour; no problem for Steve. He got his full half-hour, and no doubt bought a few tables at the Tory fund-raisers to get that full half-hour.

Mr Hastings: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The other side is always pointing out that we're imputing motives. Here's a prime example of imputing motives. If you actually look at the presenters at all the different hearings on Bill 160, they were mainly --

The Acting Speaker: Order. I want to respond. That is a point of order. In our debate, we try not to impute motive. I would ask the member for St Catharines, if he feels he has approached that line, that he would want to recognize that and correct the record.

Mr Bradley: I thank you, Mr Speaker, for your advice. I always appreciate the advice you give me. I will refer to it as a coincidence that perhaps tables are purchased at the fund-raisers and this individual and his organization got half an hour for presentation. I was at the hearing. So was Bruce Smith; he would know. They got a half-hour presentation at the hearing, while others had to struggle to get 10 minutes. Poor Marg Jones, the constituency office assistant to Bob Welch in years gone by, and a worker for the Conservative Party in the last provincial election, didn't get any time to appear before the committee.

I just want to point out how it was stacked, because every other time we have had a committee hearing, as you would know, Mr Speaker, it has been the three political parties who get together, their representatives on the committee, and they select the people who appear before the committee. That was thrown out the window this time, and Mr Johnson appointed those who would appear before the committee. That's the way it was done this time. Everybody recognizes that. There were people from various fields who made presentations, I want to say that. But I do want to say that I watched as the Urban Development Institute, representing the developers of Ontario, got half an hour while others got only 10 minutes.



Mr Bradley: I won't dwell on that, because that has obviously provoked my friends on the other side to a very great degree.

If we look at how Bill 161 came about, it was this government deciding -- at least, a few people in the back rooms of the government: Guy Giorno, whose name is well known, and the other whiz kids of the government decided -- that they might as well pick on some target in the province, some easy target. They thought: "Why don't we try to paint the teachers of this province as a privileged group which has special consideration that others don't have? We'll target them, and then people will say, `That's great. Look at our Mike Harris and our government taking on the teachers of Ontario.'"

What they didn't take into consideration, first of all, is that these are generally very moderate people. They are not radicals. They are not militants. They are, if anything -- and you can't categorize everybody, but generally speaking -- pretty small-c conservative people, who confined their interests to education itself and in particular to their classrooms. I think that's fair to say, that those are the people we have out there.

This government managed to make out of non-militant, non-radical people, some militants and some radicals. They've radicalized this group of people to such an extent that they would leave their classrooms to protest a major bill in Ontario which would have very bad ramifications for our education system. I didn't know anybody who was out of those classrooms who wouldn't have preferred to be in the classroom and in the school; I don't know of anybody, to a person. I think those people wanted to be there.

If you can radicalize or make militant this group of people to take this kind of action, where they forgo their pay and leave their classrooms, where they want to be, then you have really done something. I don't know whether you can say you're proud of it or not, but you've really done something. I tell you, in my observations over the years, I didn't think that would happen, and it did happen.

It's unfortunate when you do that, because these are going to be your agents of change. These are the people on the front line of the delivery of education services. You want to enlist their support. There are some Conservative supporters out there. There are some people there who voted for you in the last election. Now, many of them today will express their regret at that, but I want to say that at election time many of those people did support the Conservative Party and have over the years supported individual candidates.

I think of Mrs Witmer, Liz Witmer, as we know her in this House, the member for Waterloo North, now Minister of Health. She has a very good reputation. She was considered to be a class act as the chair of the board of education in Waterloo. She was a secondary school teacher in her former days, a moderate person. I didn't always agree with everything she had to say, but I found her views to be perceptive and interesting and in the interests of education.

Of course, she has expressed her views openly -- which is very unusual for a cabinet minister -- about her concerns about this bill, particularly the retributive justice this government tried to give out for principals and vice-principals engaging in the protest. She also expressed concern and was on CBC at noon today, if you heard the noon news, her voice, expressing concern about the attack ads.

I don't like governments, of no matter what stripe, spending taxpayers' dollars to purvey political propaganda. However, one can at least understand when the government is providing straight information. That's what the member for Waterloo North said, that the ads should be giving information. I've seen some of the ads out there. I don't agree with the content of that information, but I understand that it is the government's position and the government's interpretation of the bill. The attack ads have gone over the edge.

I don't think this is a result of the Minister of Education, because I know Dave Johnson; I knew him as mayor of East York. When I was the Minister of the Environment, Dave Johnson, as mayor of East York, was a good person to deal with. I respected him in this House in opposition, I respected him in government, and I can't believe that he would authorize the attack ads that we have seen against those who are delivering education on the front lines, and against trustees. Many of us in this House, on the government and opposition sides, have friends and acquaintances who have been trustees in various boards of education, and the ads attack them. I have not seen anything like it.

But I know where it comes from. It's that little ideological, unelected group of smart people, the 20-somethings and early-30-somethings in the Premier's office and outside the Premier's office who have access to the Premier.

What I'm saying is, why don't you listen to the elected members? I asked that of Mr Johnson, the Minister of Education, other day. I asked, "Why don't you tell the Premier to put aside the advice of those people who aren't elected and listen to the caucus out here?" Some of you may agree with what those people are saying, and that's fine, but others won't. My fear is that you've got a highly intelligent, capable individual who's had a couple of decades of experience in municipal and provincial politics having the tune called by the 20-something and 30-something YPCs who seem to have all the answers to everything. That doesn't make any sense.

Dave Johnson is an intelligent man. He doesn't need the advice of those people. He's been elected several times, as have all members on the government side. Tell me what riding Guy Giorno represents. Tell me what riding Tom Long represents. Tell me what riding Leslie Noble represents. They don't represent any riding. You got elected. The individual people got elected in their ridings. Ms Mushinski got elected in her riding. That's who they should be listening to, not listening to the people who --

Mr Hastings: Patti Starr.

Mr Bradley: If you don't want help with this, that's fine. If the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is prepared to accept that nonsense out of the Premier's office, that's fine. You don't understand that I am on your side on this.


Mr Bradley: I am. I'm on the side of the elected members in their fight with the unelected backroom boys who run this government. I'm trying to get that information out for you people, to have people rally to your side, to say, "Look, Mike Harris, my Premier, let's make sure that we the elected the members have input and that you put aside the whiz kids who control this government today." I'm trying to encourage you in this regard, and many of you know that what I'm saying is right. I see several heads nodding, some maybe nodding off during this speech, but many are nodding in agreement, I am sure, with what I am saying.

I want to tell you that the government miscalculated when it decided to take on members of the teaching profession, because what you forgot, what the whiz kids forgot was that these teachers are somebody's spouse, somebody's daughter or son, sister or brother, best friend, next-door neighbour. They're people in the community with whom you have worked.

You see, the government propaganda message was countered by those who have had direct experience in education. The government found out quickly that while it tried to paint them into a corner and isolate them, there were many out there, including many parent groups, who understood that teachers were fighting for quality education in this province and against a government whose number one agenda was to concentrate power in the hands of a few bureaucrats in Toronto to run education, and second, to take over $1 billion out of the education system. There was the support from the parents and obviously from the public as they went on.

At first the government members were told: "You go out to your meetings and you tell people this isn't about money. We're not taking money out of the system." Then someone leaked the document which was the contract of the new Deputy Minister of Education. One stipulation in that contract was that she was to take out of that system another $667 million -- that was right in the contract -- on top of the $533 million that had already been taken out.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, come to order.


Mr Bradley: I'm going to tell you that it was difficult. People said, "Why don't the Tory members show up at the public meetings?" I expressed sympathy; some didn't, but I expressed sympathy. I want to tell my friend from Newmarket that I expressed sympathy for them. I said: "Understand that first of all they were told by the whiz kids with the prepared papers that this had nothing to do with taking money out of the education system. And then all of a sudden, when they found the contract and it was made public, the Premier said, `Oh, it is about taking money out of the system, finding economies.' So how can you go to the meeting, once you've gone to one meeting and said it had nothing to do with the money, and then the Premier has said it has everything to do with money?"

It is an effort to take more money out of education. If that was your goal in the first place, you should have been honest enough as a government to say that in the first place and then fight it on that basis.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): We do.

Mr Hastings: Listen to him -- honest.

The Acting Speaker: There's too much interjection. I'll not tolerate it, and I'll not warn the member from Etobicoke-Rexdale again.

Mr Bradley: My friend from Etobicoke-Humber, who is a small-c conservative and proud of it, would be the kind of person I think who would be prepared to go out and defend this in the first place as an economy measure. That would be honest; that's up front; that's what it's about. But what the government tried to do was disguise that and say it has nothing to do with money. If they had been honest, there would still be disagreement, but at least people would respect the fact that the government was up front, saying their goal was to take another two thirds of a billion dollars out of education and that the government felt the education system could sustain that. If they had said that, at least they would have been honest and up front. I don't agree with that, but they would have been honest and up front about it.

But really what's going to happen is that at least 7,500 teaching positions are going to be removed from our education system in Ontario. Some people will retire, they'll say, and no doubt there will be some inducements and incentives to have people retire early. The government will do that, no doubt. The minister says: "Won't that be nice? We'll have all these new, young teachers coming in." But what the minister doesn't mention is that they're removing 7,500 positions in teaching permanently, taking those people out of the education system permanently. Mr Johnson himself finally said that. You cannot deliver the quality of education, with the population growing in this province, by taking 7,500 people out of the system.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): Smaller class sizes.

Mr Bradley: I'm glad the member intervened. It's helpful sometimes, Mr Speaker. I don't think you should discourage it sometimes. The member for Halton -- tell me if it's North or Centre. I forget now.

Mr Hastings: The new one will be Halton.

Mr Bradley: Okay. The new one will be Halton. My friend from Halton has intervened about class size. The government will spin this myth that there will be no class over 25 in elementary and no class over 22 in secondary. What the government doesn't point out is that that is not a cap; that is an average. Today we have in the education system, and I think justifiably so, young people and people not so young who previously were shunted off to institutions or not encouraged to come into our education system. They are now in our regular schools and they require more assistance, require teachers on a different ratio from the so-called regular classes out there. So you're not going to see a cap of 22 or a cap of 25. There are going to be classes which are much larger.

In their ads the government says, "You know what the union bosses want is to negotiate larger class sizes." Now, in 95% of the circumstances, they're there to negotiate smaller class sizes, not larger class sizes. So that's a myth out there. You can't use the other word, can you, in this House? I know, so I'll say "myth." I think it's okay, to use that rather than the other words we can't use. I'll leave it at that.

We'll have fewer teachers to work with the students and we're going to have a situation where we have the provincial government -- I can imagine what the people in Perth county must think, because they're pretty independent-minded people down there. I know many of them. The member who represents them is an independent-minded person with a mind of his own and he represents those people in that way. You know, Mr Speaker, that those people are going to be worried that the provincial government will have the power to levy property taxes in their area and that that power will reside in the cabinet -- not with the elected members, not with the people who are not in the cabinet, but with the cabinet, by regulation. The rest of us in this House will have no power to debate and discuss this because it's not part of the bill. It's excluded from the bill.

You're going to take on faith the regulatory power of the cabinet. Some people on the government side today may say, "Well, that's okay with me because I trust Mike Harris and our cabinet." Let me go beyond that. What happens then if another government is elected that you don't trust? You've given them the regulatory power to set that tax rate for Ontario without a debate in this Legislature. I think that's not good. You may say, "I trust my own government, but I don't trust maybe the other two parties," so you see why it's important not to proceed with a bill that doesn't have some debating of that aspect. That's very important for all of us, no matter what party you're in.

There's going to be too much power then in the hands of provincial bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education. People at the local level -- and I know many who have served on boards -- have the input from the parents locally, have the input from the ratepayers locally.

First of all, you made larger boards of education. In some cases those will work out. I don't want to say that in all cases they won't; in some cases they will work out. But in many cases the savings are going to be minimal, and the problem is that the ability to get at those elected representatives is going to be diminished and the power that they will have locally to govern will be diminished considerably. To me, that's not Conservative philosophy. It's contrary to what I always knew as being Conservative philosophy.

What we have in Bill 160, which is why we have Bill 161, is not a fight between the teachers of Ontario and the government of Ontario; it is a fight between those who believe in a strong, vibrant, high-quality, publicly funded education system and those who do not. That is what the fight is about. I happen to believe there are a lot of adherents to the Conservative Party in this province who believe in that kind of system which I have described: a strong, vibrant, high-quality, publicly funded education system. They are going to be deeply disappointed that that is not what Bill 160 is going to deliver to the people of this province.

I had a call from -- I don't know if I'm allowed to say it; I'll say a former cabinet minister from an area not in my area. We chatted about the whole approach of this government. This person was very perturbed. I've talked to people who have run as candidates or run for nomination, relatives of people who have been in this House. Almost to a person they're perturbed by this bill, the implications of this bill and the general approach of this government to this piece of legislation.

As a political person, as a partisan, I guess I should be delighted with that. But as a democrat, a person who believes in democracy and who believes there should be strong political parties -- all of us should have strong political parties with some diversity in them -- I get very worried when I hear that from those individuals.


I think what has happened is that we've had a poisoning of the atmosphere. The attack ads were probably the final poisoning of that atmosphere. When teachers went back to the classroom on that Monday morning, there was a feeling of solemnity and demoralization like I haven't seen before. People weren't doing this in retribution, but I heard of people who had done a lot of extra work to organize, for instance, basketball tournaments that we would have held, and they said: "I'm just not going to do it. I'll coach the team locally in the school, I'll take my team to tournaments and so on, but all of this orgnaization that takes place, all the anguish and trouble that goes with it, I'm sorry. When my government treats me this way, I'm not going to go the extra 10 miles on behalf of this kind of program. I'm still prepared to do the work over and above what normally is expected, but not that extra work that is involved in those kinds of programs." That's the fear, that you've got a very dispirited group.

The whiz kids in the back room would tell you, "Isn't this great?" I never like using this terminology, and I guess I won't, but it's called kicking people, and that's what they say: "We've kicked those people." There are some people who get a kick out of that. There are some people who think that's great. I think most people don't, and I'm very worried that the people who will have to implement the change that this government will dictate are going to be very resentful of the government and resentful of the program. Better to enlist them on your side. Better to say, "Okay, I know you don't agree with everything we're doing, but we want you to be there side by side with us to implement this program." You're just not getting it. You have poisoned the atmosphere like I've never seen it before, demoralization as I've never seen before in our education system, and resentment of a government. I even think that's unhealthy, to resent a political party that much.

I can tell you that when I read in the paper -- this is the Globe and Mail; you were quoting this today, your minister -- "The Harris Kremlin: Inside Ontario's Revolutionary Politburo," I become worried because it confirms many of the things I've been saying in this House. It says:

"With few exceptions, insiders say that Mr Harris's reliance on a couple of close aides and the unprecedented centralization of power in his office -- referred to by some as `the bunker' -- are the cause of the malaise. And it's a sickness that could threaten the Conservative Party's hopes for re-election."

I should be delighted with that, but I'm not delighted with that. I'm delighted that there is an opportunity to challenge an incumbent government and be competitive in an election, but from the point of view of the democratic system I'm not happy, because I think too many governments concentrate that kind of power in the hands of unelected people.

It goes on to say, talking about the whole program of the government:

"To do all this in such a short time, Mr Harris has played fast and loose with the democratic process. He has surrounded himself with a cadre of young, fervently ideological advisers to do his bidding. Grass-roots supporters who thought the party would emphasize democratic debate, plebiscites and local decision-making have been shocked. In the Harris Kremlin, power flows from the centre. (Indeed, the term `the centre' is now an ominous fixture of party newspeak as in the oft-repeated phrase, `No one knows what the centre is thinking.')"

It goes on to say:

"Thus, ministers are often kept in the dark, making them little more than salespeople for initiatives cobbled together in the Premier's office. Stories abound of ministers caught in the crossfire of Mr Harris's flash temper, his staff's fiddling, and the pressures from their own portfolios."

This is from Guy Crittenden in the Globe and Mail, and much of this is found in the new book by John Ibbitson, who works for Southam News Services. You can purchase it at most stores. I'll bring a copy in next time so you can see what it is, but I have read the book and it's a fair assessment. I'll tell you why it's a fair assessment. I don't agree with absolutely everything in it by any means, but it describes who runs the government and why the government is involved in this.

"Harris's Whiz Kids have Tiger by the Tail in Teachers' Strike." This is by Carolyn Abraham and Richard Brennan on November 5 in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. Let me quote one section of it that I think is quite relevant.

"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....

"Three weeks ago, the Premier rallied his 1995 election team to devise a strategy as he anticipated a full war with teachers. The advisers fervently believe teachers' unions and their ability to influence spending in the public education system should be knee-capped. They told the Premier he should" -- and I quote; this is not my language, I don't use this language but I'm going to quote what they told the Premier -- "`kick the teachers' asses.'" That's what it says in here. I don't like that language, and there it is.

That's what they said. That's right in a published newspaper, and that's what they said to the Premier, the whiz kids in the back room, who dumped many of you people from positions you should be in today, by the way, who are responsible. If you don't think they're responsible, I can tell you that's who is responsible for getting rid of some people and punishing other people. That doesn't speak well for the democratic system.

Here we have a bill, then, which would have been unnecessary without Bill 160. Bill 160 probably would have had more consideration if this government hadn't changed the rules. If you want to look at hockey, our national sport in the winter, it's as though someone said: "Let's get on the ice, and let's get a team of 18 people who are six foot seven and weigh 240 pounds, big, tough people. Then we'll change the rules of the game to make it easier for those people to bump everybody around, to bully everybody around, to have their way."

That's what the government did. It changed the procedural rules of this House. When it did that, it was again part of the intimidation and bullying of this government. It said: "We don't want the debate we've had on these bills, because the public out there who watch the legislative channel and who follow the news stories are going to hear too much about what we're doing. We don't want all that debate. That's a nuisance. We want to take away any of the bargaining chips the opposition has to try to prolong debate or to have more public hearings or more input."

When they did that, when they changed the rules of the House, when they concentrated more power in the hands of unelected people, or in the hands of a few cabinet ministers, they attacked democracy for all of us in this House and for all of us in Ontario.

So I worry as I see Bill 161 being a necessity, Bill 161 where the government is now going to put some money out there, without receipts. I've never heard of that. I don't know how the Provincial Auditor will look upon that. It's not consistent with what I know about my Conservative friends. They usually say: "You've got to be accountable. If you want some money, you better show me receipts." That's consistent, I agree; that's consistent with the government. Now this bill is going to give out money without receipts. I know it's designed to buy some favour with people who normally in the last few weeks have been against the government, and no doubt some people will certainly appreciate that assistance, but we have to know the motivation of the bill. We have to know the bill doesn't have the safeguards in it that a normally fiscally conservative, careful and prudent government would have.

I'm going to look forward to continuing my remarks next time this bill comes forward. I know all those who are here today in the House will want to return for the next time this bill is before us to hear the completion of my remarks, where I'll be quoting the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, the United Church, all of the churches that have expressed their view on this bill and on other matters, because I know we all want to know what those opinions would be.

It being close to 6 of the clock, I will move adjournment of the debate, of the House.

The Speaker: It now being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned till 1:30 of the clock on Monday.

The House adjourned at 1759.