36th Parliament, 1st Session

L254b - Tue 2 Dec 1997 / Mar 2 Déc 1997



The House met at 1830.



Mr Baird, on behalf of Mr Eves, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 149, An Act to continue the reforms begun by the Fair Municipal Finance Act, 1997 and to make other amendments respecting the financing of local governments / Projet de loi 149, Loi continuant les réformes amorcées par la Loi de 1997 sur le financement équitable des municipalités et apportant d'autres modifications relativement au financement des administrations locales.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I would seek unanimous consent to share the time equally among the three parties.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is there unanimous consent to share the time equally among the three parties? Agreed. Mr Baird.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): At the outset of my remarks, I would like to say that I'll be sharing my time with the member for Northumberland and the member for Durham East.

I'm pleased to rise to speak on third reading of Bill 149, the Fair Municipal Finance Act. The current property tax system in Ontario is unfair and out of date. Previous governments of all political stripes, be they Conservative, Liberal or New Democratic Party governments, have attempted to deal with this issue. They have attempted to address the fairness in the property tax system across Ontario. This inaction has resulted in significant tax inequities.

The government is taking action to fix the inequities and provide all Ontario taxpayers with a new system that is fair, consistent, understandable and accountable. The new system is based on a simple principle of property tax fairness. Property owners who own similar properties of similar value in the same community will pay similar taxes. All assessments across Ontario are being updated so that they are fair and consistent and, most importantly, understandable for taxpayers.

Municipalities will have more flexibility and autonomy in responding to local priorities. They will be able to change tax rates to achieve greater tax equity among classes of properties, assist small businesses by reducing taxes on lower-valued commercial properties, phase in the impacts of assessment reform over a period of up to eight years, and tax new rental apartments at a lower rate to encourage the construction of rental housing. Low-income seniors and low-income disabled persons will be protected from assessment-related tax increases. The unfair and obsolete business occupancy tax will be eliminated. Property taxes will be cut for eligible farmers and woodlot owners. Eligible conservation land will be exempt from property tax.

Bill 149, coupled with reforms already passed in the Fair Municipal Finance Act, will give all Ontario property owners a system of property assessment and municipal taxation that is fair, consistent, understandable and accountable.

We all have listened. We have listened to the advice put forward by business, by municipalities, by not-for-profit organizations, small businesses and others. Bill 149 introduces specific measures that respond to the feedback that we, as a government, received.

We amended the original Bill 149 to provide for legislative tax reductions for vacant commercial-industrial lands and units; established a level playing field for live theatres by ensuring fair tax treatment of publicly owned theatres used mainly for non-profit productions and those used mainly for commercial productions, supporting the viability of small, privately owned live theatres by providing them exemptions from property tax like the exemptions afforded to their public counterparts; and clearly defined which charitable organizations qualify for property tax rebates while allowing municipalities flexibility to extend this benefit to other similar organizations.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Is there a quorum?

The Speaker: A quorum count.

Acting Clerk at the Table (Mr Peter Sibenik): Speaker, a quorum is not present.

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Acting Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Speaker: Member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: As I was saying about the amendments that the government proposed and that are included in the final draft of Bill 149, they also help to clearly define which charitable organizations qualify for property tax rebates while allowing municipalities flexibility to extend this benefit to other similar organizations, and for the creation of nine geographic regions to improve the tax treatment of rights-of-way properties.

I think we can all look at our own constituencies and see the inequities. In my home community of Ottawa-Carleton, we went through a property tax reassessment a few years ago and we used values in 1988 terms. Even using 1988 values, there are considerable inequities, so I can only imagine what it's like for my colleagues in some parts of Metropolitan Toronto where they are operating on 1941 values: a tremendous inequity there.

I talked to one property owner in my constituency whose property since the real estate high of 1988 has gone down by some 40%, and yet a commensurate reduction in his property taxes has of course not been effected. It's a tremendous inequity to ask someone to pay those property taxes on a property that's worth some 40% or even 50% less than it was in 1988. This is a particular concern among many constituents in my riding, and that's based on 1988 values, so you can only appreciate what it must be like for those with 1941 values.

Some of us have heard the horror stories of the tremendous inequities, some properties worth $600,000, $700,000 and $800,000 paying extremely low property taxes. Who picks up that difference? Who has to subsidize the owner of the $800,000 or million-dollar home who is paying a pittance in property tax? They go to the same people they always go to: the young, hardworking, middle-class families in suburban Ontario, a family maybe starting out with their first home; it might be a town house or a single-family home. What do they do? They say, "We'll just ask that young, hardworking family earning $45,000 or $50,000 a year to dig a little bit deeper in their pockets." That is something that causes great concern, I know, to all members of the House. There has to be equity and fairness, particularly for the hardworking young families who have struggled for many years just to be able to purchase their own home and who then face a whack of property taxes that is so inconsistent across the municipality in which they live.

Many of my colleagues will know of stories in their constituencies, particularly the effect that it has on the first-time homeowner who has to struggle and pay a disproportionate share of property taxes. This is why it's important that we go to a fair property tax system that's equitable and where there's some comparability between the person with a $1-million home and the person with a $120,000 or a $150,000 home, that there's some parity there, some degree of equity. That's extremely important, particularly for many parts of suburban Ontario, where a lot of young families are starting out.


When passed, the measures in Bill 149 will ensure a smooth and efficient transition to a fair property tax system for all property owners in Ontario. As a government, we will continue to be open to advice as we proceed with the important task of improving Ontario's property tax system. This government is committed to the principle of fairness and consistency. By delivering on this commitment, Bill 149 will help to reduce the barriers to investment and economic growth and improve Ontario's long-term economic competitiveness.

The Speaker: Member for Northumberland.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I'd like to compliment the member for Nepean for an excellent presentation on Bill 149, the Fair Municipal Finance Act (No. 2). We have had a very complicated property tax assessment system here in Ontario. It dates way back to 1941.

The Speaker: Member for Northumberland, I'm sorry. I think you have unanimous consent to split your hour, but it goes in rotation once you're finished.

Ms Lankin: No, that's okay.

The Speaker: You want unanimous - okay, fine. Member for Northumberland.

Mr Galt: How would you like it, Mr Speaker? Would you like me to continue or would you like it to rotate?

The Speaker: No, we got unanimous consent for you to continue.

Mr Galt: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. As I see this Bill 149, it's going to be a property tax system that's going to be fair, that's going to be more equitable, more consistent. It's going to be more manageable and certainly more understandable, and by a long sight much clearer to the taxpayer.

This bill is following in on the heels of Bill 106, and Bill 106 clarified an awful lot of the assessment problem here in Ontario. If you looked at the assessments in years gone by, some municipalities had assessments based on various years from 1941, some were in the 1970s, some were current; it was a real checkerboard. As I looked at the 15 municipalities in Northumberland, they had this whole mix. We had two that were up-to-date market value assessment, but many of them went back to 1941. Some were in between.

What do you do with this when you start looking at what you pay to the school boards, what you pay to the county? So they roll in equalization factors. There are several different equalization factors for different reasons and different purposes. The town of Campbellford came to me a while ago and thought this was very unfair as they compared their school rate with the counties next door and the municipalities around them, and I foolishly said, "We'll dig into it."

I had an executive assistant on staff with me at that time who had both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in mathematics, and I thought there would be no problem sorting this out, but four or five months later we still were unable to get to the bottom of all these equalization factors. It was so complicated that even people in the Ministry of Education had great difficulties following all these various factors. So really it's time to get on with it and come up with a system that is fair, one that's easily compared, and that is the system we have brought in with Bill 106.

I think people generally agree that properties should be comparable when it comes to taxation, that there should be some basis there, and it certainly is long overdue. As I look at my own situation, owning an older home, my property taxes are probably going to go up as a result of that bill, but on the other hand, what's fair is fair.

Previous governments, both provincial and municipal, looked at this market value assessment and how to handle it, and generally they were unable to - it was too political, too sensitive, and so they backed off. It was our government that rose to the challenge, took it on and passed Bill 106, which received royal assent back on May 27, 1997.

It updated the schedule for the usage on the rolling averages to come up with the assessment rate. It repealed the business occupancy tax. It prescribed classes for real property and restructured the property assessment appeal system. Bill 106 set a base for the present bill that we're discussing, Bill 149. Bill 149 is building on this platform. I should also mention that in Bill 106 there was protection for low-income seniors and for the disabled. It had the flexibility to phase in those changes in the property tax.

Ontarians have told us they wanted reform in the tax system. Ontarians have told us that the current system is outdated, inconsistent and unclear. It really isn't very understandable. That was certainly the experience that I found as I looked into the tax base and the problem the town of Campbellford was having. This government is implementing these changes to clarify and make it more consistent and more understandable.

I'd like to look for a few minutes at just a few examples that are in this bill. The first one is tax reduction for certain subclasses of properties; for example, land held for development and still being farmed. Of course, farming is close to my heart, having been raised on a dairy farm. Seeing some of these lands being developed, it's very important that they be used for agricultural purposes as long as they possibly can.

There's been a big difficulty with municipal councils as lands were being developed as to when they should upgrade the assessment on those lands from agricultural to commercial or industrial. This bill will allow for three subclasses of farm land while they're awaiting development and working their way through. It's a staged approach versus the old one, where it was more or less all or none and there was a big jump all at once. This encourages bona fide farming lands to be used that way while they are awaiting development, and as preparation occurs, as they move into development, they can move through these various subclasses of assessment. It also recognizes that there's a real balance here, and a balance is required, between farm land and bona fide farm practices and the development as it moves ahead, and it does so in a more affordable fashion: good for not only the farmers but also the developers.

There's similar recognition in dealing with vacant commercial industrial land and also as we look at vacant units and excess land for commercial and industrial property. This clarifies the tax reduction when there are vacancies. For commercial, for example, there's a reduction of some 30% in taxes or the taxes are 70%, and for industrial the reduction is some 35%, meaning there would be taxes of 65% when they're vacant. That just adds up and is common sense.

Charitable or similar organizations occupying commercial or industrial property: This would be a regulation that will allow municipalities to rebate taxes to eligible charities or similar organizations. It will allow them to rebate up to 40% of the portion of the taxes that particular organization would be using within those buildings. This reduction would of course be shared with both the upper-tier government and the school board.

This is long overdue. This should have been in place a long time ago for organizations like the United Way, for example, that have offices or for organizations such as a food bank. I'm sure the member for York South will be very sympathetic to this concern with a food bank as he used to work in one.

Also, in recognizing the charities, this recognizes the efforts of volunteers. This country is blessed by many, many volunteers. As a matter of fact, from some of the figures that I've seen, here in Canada we have twice the volunteer effort of any other country. I think that may be why Canada is considered as the most attractive country to live in. We need to break down the barriers for those volunteers and help them. I suggest that giving the municipalities the opportunity to reduce taxes on buildings and lands that charitable organizations are using will be quite a help to volunteers.

Also in this bill there's tax relief for live theatres. I'm sure many members sitting here this evening have live theatres in their ridings. They're a great source of entertainment for people who live in your riding. They're a great attraction for tourists and they provide all kinds of opportunity for actors and actresses to perform, and it's also recognition of that industry that's really been flourishing here in Ontario in recent years.


This bill also levels out that playing field for the live theatre and recognizes the for-profit versus the not-for-profit portions of that particular industry. This assistance in the form of a tax relief will help them compete, both in the domestic market and the international market.

One of the things that used to bother me very much when I sat on school board was payment in lieu of taxes. The local municipality could direct it where they saw fit and sometimes it just went to the local municipality and/or to the upper-tier municipality with none of it going to the local school board. Bill 149 will give the minister the power to set a regulation to ensure that grants in lieu of taxes will actually be shared by all three government bodies: lower-tier and upper-tier municipal governments, as well as the school board.

It's exciting in this particular bill that small business will be given some recognition. Municipalities will have the flexibility to provide some tax relief for small business. They're the ones who have been creating the jobs and stimulating the economy, and it'll be designed so there can be a tiered tax rate system. Small businesses, as I see them, really do deserve a tax relief. Small businesses have many, many challenges and problems, but they are the businesses that create jobs in this province. They stimulate the growth and really today's economic boom here in Ontario has been driven by small business and by entrepreneurs.

There has been an excess tax burden and any kind of excess tax burden stifles investment and job growth. This government recognizes the vital role of small business and respects those businesses in our communities.

I often think of the power of taxation. The organizations that do tax, much like a parasite - and this may come from my background as a veterinarian, how I see parasites and what they do to the livestock that are infected by them. Parasites compete with their host for nutrients to survive, and if you have an overzealous parasite that really gets carried away, they'll kill the host. The end result is that the parasite dies too, but if you have a little more successful and efficient parasite, they compete and take some nutrients, let the animal survive and they survive too.

It all works as a very nice, symbiotic sort of relationship, and I see this government working very well with the host out there.

Ms Lankin: Is this a veterinarian speaking?

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): This is not in the script, is it?

Mr Galt: I finally got your attention. Thanks very much. I appreciate that.

We work with a host that can survive and produce and continue. But I look back at previous governments that had 65 tax increases over the last -


The Speaker: Order. I remind the member for Northumberland that we're debating Bill 149.

Mr Galt: I mentioned Bill 149.

The Speaker: I thought you thought you were on the Game and Fish Act. Bill 149.

Mr Galt: I was right on Bill 149 there, Mr Speaker, relating taxes to the problems and how the previous governments were killing their host of small business and entrepreneurs with some 65 tax increases over 10 years. The end result has been they were heading this province for bankruptcy, but in the meantime they had created bankruptcies for an awful lot of small industry and a lot of entrepreneurs. I was just drawing the comparison of a parasite killing its host, and that's exactly where this province was headed.

Ms Lankin: You're talking about the Tory government again; stop insulting your colleagues.

Mr Galt: The host that I'm referring to is small business here in Ontario. I'm referring to farming in Ontario and hosts such as the industry where some of your unions that support your party work. I'm talking about the host of small theatres and entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, Ontarians have told us that the current tax system needs fixing. Bill 106 did that and with 149 it builds on that foundation. Bill 149 is a system where it'll be fair, more equitable, more consistent for the Ontario taxpayers. It clarifies a taxation system that has been very confusing. It overcomes many inconsistencies. It affords flexibility for the municipality to ensure there are changes to the system that are sensitive and reflective of the needs of the community and the citizenry. It recognizes the importance of charities, live theatres and small business to provide them with some tax relief. As the bottom line, this new system is easier to understand and fairer to the taxpayer.

This is the kind of leadership and initiative Ontarians are looking for on issues such as taxation. It reduces the barriers to investment and economic growth and stimulates Ontario's long-term competitiveness. I'm pleased to be part of a government pioneering in this kind of public policy and I'm very pleased to be able to support Bill 149.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to follow the very appropriate comments made by my friend the member for Northumberland. Dr Galt comes from a long history of public service and I thank him for his comments.

When I was preparing for this opportunity to address not only the House but the people who may be watching tonight, I was impressed to read over the history of how many governments have actually attempted to reform the assessment system and to make it fair. All the terms that you're going to hear the other side use will be in fact, I suppose, supportive of the need for reform. Clearly in the past it has been discussed by previous governments using different formulas, but when it came to making tough decisions, they just simply could not deliver.

Ontario told us very clearly to fix the problem and we're fixing it. The Fair Municipal Finance Act laid out a foundation to bring fairness back into the property tax system. We did this by establishing the Ontario fair assessment system, which based the assessment of property in Ontario on current value and updated those values on a regular basis.

Starting out with a kind of an elementary beginning: One very important change is the business occupancy tax, long outdated. In fact, we've brought it into the new era and the BOT, the business occupancy tax, is an important change once again we've delivering.

We're protecting low-income seniors and disabled persons. We're giving municipalities flexibility to phase in property tax changes to suit local needs. It's very important that we examine in this bill fair municipal finance as well as assessment. Obviously, they work together. It's another step towards making the entire tax system fair, all of the tax system, where possible, of course, to reduce taxation.

We have listened to the advice that has been put forward by business, by municipalities, by non-profit organisations and other groups. The bill incorporates much of the advice from the public over a long series of consultations. It will clarify tax treatment of certain types of special properties as Mr Galt as mentioned, but most important, in my riding of Durham East the reform to the farm tax system has been long overdue.

The farm tax rebate system is something that was cumbersome, administrative and really benefited no one in the long run but just created a lot of red tape. The bill will give municipalities the choice to set up a three-tiered tax system so that they can tax lower-valued commercial properties at lower tax rates. It will also allow municipalities to rebate non-profit organisations occupying space in business properties.

The measures in this bill will ensure a smooth and efficient transition into a fair property tax system for all property owners in the province. During the transition period, municipalities will have the choice of allowing, as I said before, a phase-in, and people have to recall the important adjunct bill, Bill 160, where the province is making the switch with the residential tax base paying a much smaller share of the cost of education in a fair approach to funding education. So this assessment system is part of the new municipal finance system as well.


In similar aspects, the whole issue of fairness - as I go through and I look at some of the 826 municipalities, 775 towns and villages representing 91% of the assessment value in the province will certainly experience what is expected, lower taxes. That's ultimately what you would expect. But if you look at the municipal level, with the new assessment system you would not expect to see the municipality as a net beneficiary, that is, more revenue. Some taxes will go up and some will go down. Certainly the outcome will be revenue-neutral for the municipality. What it means is everyone will be paying their fair share.

If you look at some of the specific sections of the bill, the tax reductions for certain subclasses are an important establishment in this bill. The subclasses for farm lands awaiting development and for certain theatre groups in the city of Toronto will provide much-needed relief.

Tax reductions will be 30% for subclasses of commercial property and 35% for subclasses in industrial properties with an option for municipalities to have a single rate of 30% to 35%.

The graduated tax as well is a much-needed improvement. It's important to add that there are nine geographic areas in the province which again will address specific needs in each one of those areas, and this is dealing with the utility lands and railway rights of ways.

Taxation on international bridges and tunnels; provisions for taxation for municipal purposes: This is something new and something, of course, that has been long overlooked.

Gross receipts has been one of the areas where some municipal politicians have asked what's going to happen to this piece of their revenue. In fact, we're assured today by both the Minister of Finance and the Premier that, as part of the municipal transfer payments or the whole municipal swap, if you will, that part of their revenue will be protected by the province.

Payments in lieu, as Mr Galt mentioned, is another long-outstanding sort of inequity. A new provision will provide a much more predictable model of payment for the municipal tier of government.

If I had some more time, I would actually like to comment on other persons' input on this legislation. I was very fortunate to find in the archives a small comment was made by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. This was part of his 1990 campaign material. I thought it was quite interesting because I'm looking at the document here and he's pictured with the then Premier, David Peterson.

Interjection: Peterson?

Mr O'Toole: Yes. I think he was at a barbecue by the looks of this picture here. I'm going to read his comments in his election material under the title "Property Tax Reform":

"Honouring Metro Toronto's request, the provincial government has taken the necessary steps to permit Metro-wide reassessment of property tax under a new assessment system. This will ensure equity of tax burden between newer and older homes, most importantly bringing substantial savings to taxpayers of Scarborough-Agincourt."

There you have it. I'm sure my good friend Mr Phillips, who's well respected in the House for his sage comments with respect to financial issues, will be supporting this. If I was to follow through with further comments from this little page here, he seems to be enjoying himself.

The 50-year history in Ontario shows this reform is long overdue. I believe the member for Scarborough-Agincourt will certainly agree with that. In fact, what is entirely different - and I might add by this little comment here, at the time they were in government and they had this opportunity, I think we looked at a couple of reports. The Fair Tax Commission came out of that conundrum of trying to determine the whole municipal finance and assessment system, but what's entirely different is this government promised it and this government is delivering on its promises. A promise made is a promise kept.

There is very little time here to comment further on this important piece of legislation, but I do want to make it clear to the House that Bill 149, which is the subject of the discussion - I will be supporting the bill in support of long overdue reforms.

The Speaker: Further debate? You've got 22 minutes.

Ms Lankin:You're not taking it, John? So let us know you're not taking it.

The Speaker: Further debate? The member for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Mr Phillips: I'm glad to join the debate. I will be sharing our time with three of our other members. I want to begin the debate on Bill 149 to say that without question there's no one in the province of Ontario who doesn't support changes in the property tax.

The Speaker: You know what? There's a bit of a problem. You see, the vote is at 9:15, so you have 22 minutes left. What we'll have to do is take your 22 minutes and split it between the two opposition parties.


The Speaker: But we've agreed to a 9:15 vote. There are members out there who think -


The Speaker: Yes, but you see it's pursuant to the time allocation motion. The vote is supposed to take place at 9:15.


The Speaker: Can the two opposition parties split the remaining time? The member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: Could I ask unanimous consent to put the additional government time at the end of the evening? At that time we could present a unanimous consent request to defer the vote. At this time could we request the government's time, 22 minutes, to be put to the end of the day?

The Speaker: No, it just isn't that simple. We're under a time allocation motion. We have to have the bell. Then there's a procedure for deferring the vote. You either give them your time or use your time, but you've got to do one or the other.

Mr Baird: We request to put the government's time till after the New Democratic Party.

The Speaker: You can do that. Is there unanimous consent to postpone the 20 minutes now till after the two opposition parties? Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Phillips: I assume we have 54 minutes. I want to begin the debate on Bill 149 by saying that I don't think there's anybody in the province who doesn't support property tax changes and the need to change the system. I've said that consistently; I've always believed in the change.

I want to begin by saying I'm not sure the government members appreciate what these bills do. I will quote the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers. These are the financial officials who have the responsibility for implementing the property tax changes. Here's what the clerks and treasurers of Ontario say: "This new system will be immensely complicated by the institution of some 84 classes and subclasses of property and up to 156 tax rates. The combination of these factors will undoubtedly increase the complexity of the property tax system rather than streamline it."

It's extremely important to register that because this bill actually makes the property tax system more complicated, less streamlined, than it is today. Those are the clerks and treasurers of Ontario making that statement. That is a professional, respected body of people who have the responsibility for implementing it.

By the way, they give the government warning here: "Implementation on January 1, 1998," of the property tax system, "is a high-risk situation for the stability and financial health of the municipal sector. There are some municipalities in Ontario that simply will not be able to cope with this situation."

That's the second thing I want to say. In typical government fashion, Harris fashion, this has not been well planned and well thought out, and the municipal clerks and treasurers, in as strong a language as bureaucrats can use and do use, have warned us of that.

They go on to say - and this is a serious issue - "The association of municipal clerks and treasurers finds overwhelming the amount of regulations to be set by the minister and the extent of the minister's involvement in a process that is supposed to be municipally driven."


The reason I say all of that is I know the government caucus has been told by the Premier that this system is going to simplify things, this system is going to make it easier. The people who have looked at it, the clerks and treasurers, say it won't. It is immensely more complicated.

One of the government members said this bill will help small business. Let me tell you, it doesn't. What's happening is that the business occupancy tax is coming off. That's roughly $1.6 billion. It is going to be added back on to the realty tax on commercial and industrial properties. The business occupancy tax is paid in varying percentages, as I think the members know. I will generalize and say small business tends to pay a smaller percentage on business occupancy tax; for example, small business would pay 30%, the banks 70%.

I will just tell you, I've had the first warning shot. A businessperson faxed me earlier this week. They got their tax bill from their landlord for January. What's happened is all the landlords in the province are now going to have to pick up what was formerly paid in business occupancy tax. This is a small business. This is a business with 14 people. The business occupancy tax is being put on to the realty tax and I think probably fairly. This person's property tax will be going, with that single issue alone, from $44,000 a year to $48,000 a year, roughly a 9% increase in tax.

The reason I raise this is that one of the members said that small business will benefit. That is not true. Mr O'Toole had it right when he said it will be properties valued at a low level. In other words, it will be landlords of smaller properties that will benefit, not small businesses, if you follow that. The government has said, "We are going to allow different tax rates," not on the size of business, but on the value of property. In this particular case, this is a small business, 14 people. It happens to lease space in a larger building and it is going to be hammered.

I say to the government members, if you've been told there's protection for small business in this bill, then you haven't been told the facts. Across Ontario this week businesses are getting notices like this. I will say to the members, we'd better wake up.

The third point I want to make is that by regulation - and one of the Conservative members mentioned this; I think Mr O'Toole mentioned it - Bill 160 will determine the majority of property taxes for businesses. For all the businesses in Ontario, when you look at your property tax, well over half of it will be determined because well over half will go to education. None of it's coming off education. All that will be determined by regulation by the Premier. There will be no debate on it, there will be no setting of the mill rate, there will be no opportunity to go to your local council and let your voice be heard. It will all be set by regulation.

Here's what's going to happen in 1998. The clerks and treasurers told us this. There will be no tax bills go out until at least July. There'll be an interim bill but based solely on your 1997 taxes. All of the municipalities have told us that it will be at least July before the tax bill goes out, in many cases later than that. It's going to take them that long.

Guess what? The final date to appeal your 1998 property taxes is June 29. I can guarantee you that there are going to be huge changes in property taxes in 1998. This is a landlord anticipating them, but the landlord, he or she, is estimating what's going to happen. They will not know until July or August.

Here's what I actually think will happen. I think people across the province on a wholesale basis are just going to immediately appeal their taxes without even seeing the tax bill. The government told us there are going to be 500,000 appeals. I suspect it's going to be dramatically higher than that because by the time you get your tax bill it's too late to appeal. So people will be appealing before they get their final tax bill.

It seems to me the government is being foolish here. We proposed an amendment in Bill 149 to say, for 1998 why not allow people to appeal their property taxes up to eight weeks after they get their 1998 final tax bill, just for one year, so that at least you eliminate some of the anger? I don't think there's anything that's going to make property taxpayers more angry than getting a bill, finding that their property taxes have changed dramatically and then being told it's too late to appeal. It's almost as if it's a trick. I'll get my bill in July, I'll phone up and, "Sorry, you've missed the date of appeal by a few weeks."

I wanted to raise that in terms as strong as I can. As I said at the outset, everybody is in favour of change in property tax, but the problem with the implementation is that it is being screwed up and we are jeopardizing an opportunity to revise our property tax system on the basis of fairness by the screwups that are in the bill.

The fourth thing I wanted to say is that I come from a business background, as many of the members of the Legislature do. We're being asked to make a decision, a huge financial decision here. Here's an example: My friend, the individual who sent me this, a business with 14 people, but you can see, $48,000 of the expense of that business is just strictly property tax. A huge bill across the province for businesses. It's a decision of about $5.5 billion on residential; it's a decision of I think $7 billion or $8 billion. We're being asked to make that decision, and not one of us has seen a study of how it's going to impact. I know why. I can only assume the government has done studies. I don't think they would embark on this without. They know from experience that if you tell people what it's going to do to their property taxes, you've got a firestorm, so the decision was made to hide that from the people. Frankly, all we can do, all of us in opposition and I dare say the government backbench members, is to try and anticipate what the impact of this is going to be.

We have to rely on some of the professionals. I repeat, the people who, in our opinion, know it the best are the association of clerks and treasurers. They're the people who, year after year, deal with the setting of the tax rate; they're the people who send the bills out; they're the people who deal with the whole issue. They've given us, as I said, in as clear language as possible, warnings. They've told us that the combination of things that the government is doing here will increase the complexity of the property tax system rather than streamline it. They have said that it is being implemented without proper planning and there are some municipalities in Ontario that simply will not be able to cope with this situation. They have said their association finds overwhelming the amount of regulation to be set by the minister.


On that regulation point, I talked earlier about the fact that with the stroke of a pen the minister will set $6 billion worth of property taxes. I don't care who's in power: That is something that should not be done; it should be something we debate here in the Legislature. I said when Bill 164 was introduced, that implements probably $30 million worth of taxes. But it's all done through legislation. We'll have a debate on it, we'll have a vote on it and the public will have some opportunity for input into it. Certainly, organizations and the public right now have seen the bill and they're responding to it. But we're not going to do that with the $6 billion of property taxes on education. That's going to be with the stroke of a pen.

Furthermore, Bill 149 gives the minister power to set 25 different tax issues by regulation. That's where the clerks and treasurers made those two points: (1) the amount of regulatory power is overwhelming; and (2) we've been told this simplifies the system. The clerks and treasurers said: "You're wrong. Take a look at it. It complicates it." It is adding, as they say in their presentation, 84 classes and up to 156 tax rates.

I might say, on a purely political note, I wonder at the political wisdom of doing all of this by regulation, because I guarantee you that the government is going to be held accountable. When businesses get their property taxes, then it's the Mike Harris property tax.

I was mildly amused that Mr O'Toole was reading a comment of mine from I guess 1990. That's what I said then; that's what I said before then; that's what I say now. We need to change the system. I still do that. I said that before the election; I said it after the election. I contrast that with what Al Leach said before the election and after the election.

You read my comments, which are supportive of change. Al Leach said: "To the homeowners in Cabbagetown, Moore Park and Rosedale, my party and I will never support the imposition of market value assessment in Metro Toronto." That was Al Leach.

I will tell you right now, if you look at the definition of current value assessment in the current bill and market value assessment in the old bill, they are word for word for word. But Al Leach said before the election - and that's how he got elected. Believe me, in Rosedale Al Leach would have been toast if they had known about Bill 106 and Bill 149. He'd still be - I was going to say he would still be at the TTC, but maybe not. Be that as it may, Mr O'Toole, I said my position before the election, I say it after the election. The problem is that before the election Mr Leach said one thing and another thing after the election

As we move now into 1998 and the implementation of the property tax system, I've outlined, and the clerks and treasurers have outlined, some of the significant problems that we are going to see with this Bill 149/106. As a matter of fact, we have before us in Bill 164 amendments already to Bill 149. So here we are debating the bill tonight and Bill 164, introduced just a few days ago, attempts once more to try and patch the bill up.

Finally, there are within the bill several interesting and questionable issues. The bill purports to treat all property equitably. Well, the bill says that an acre of rail land at the corner of Yonge and the Gardiner, prime real estate, will pay exactly the same property tax as an acre of CP land in Pefferlaw. They're going to pay exactly the same taxes. I say to the government members, if the logic of this bill is that no matter where you are, if the value of your property is X you pay X, tell me again why an acre of land that CP owns down at the corner of Yonge Street and the Gardiner, some of the prime real estate in North America, will pay exactly the same amount as an acre of land in Pefferlaw?

On these property tax bills, the fuse has been lit. The planning went from, originally, a good idea to simplify and to upgrade the property tax system into chaos. We've been duly warned by our professional bureaucrats of the chaos. Unfortunately, it's a missed opportunity. The fuse is lit and is scheduled to go off probably in July and maybe in August. One hates to say I told you so, but we've been for some months warning that this bill is poorly designed, poorly drafted and will cost all of us credibility when it hits the streets.

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): I'm very pleased to follow on the comments of the member for Scarborough-Agincourt on this bill. I don't know how many members in this chamber have gone through market value assessment. I was a member of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton when, in 1992, we did go through market value assessment, and I can tell you that there were winners and losers. Looking at this particular piece of legislation, with all the change it is purporting to make, there will be winners and losers across Ontario.

The thing is that even though my friends opposite may point their finger to the municipal level, it's a massive shell game with taxes, downloading, this and that and the other, the assessment changes here. The people who have to pay their property tax and can see the difference in terms of their assessment as well as the difference on the mill rate - which is the tax that's applied to the assessment, which ends up being part of the cheque they pay - they will be able to tell that something has been perpetrated on them.

In Ottawa-Carleton market value assessment drives out single-family homes in the downtown, drives out small businesses in the downtown. Why? Because current value, as the member for Scarborough-Agincourt said, is exactly the same as market value. Current value means that for those communities down there in the downtown area, they are going to have to pay the tax not for what they use the land for, but what it's valued at. Your small mom-and-pop little businesses - I can think of Byward Market where we have a tourist attraction based on small businesses - are going to be driven out. The big chains are going to come in. We're going to lose the panache that makes the Byward Market such a tourist attraction. You'll just have to wait for reassessment so many years later for the taxes finally to catch up to the damage done, and we've lost something.

Similarly, with single-family housing downtown we can't live in the downtown without residential homes. We can't afford to live in a ghetto which empties out at 5 o'clock at night and there's nobody there. We know that's a recipe for crime, a recipe for urban decay, but indeed this is what is happening here.

The member for Scarborough-Agincourt suggested this is an extremely complex bill. In the name of simplicity, which I heard the members opposite speak about in terms of reform, we all want to reform property tax. It is a very iniquitous system. It's not based on ability to pay. I find it absolutely amazing that, on the one hand, the government says, "We want a fair property tax system," while in reality the bill complicates life something horrible, yet on the other hand they are downloading, offloading all these services on to the property tax base.

Let's make it clear what's going to happen in Ottawa-Carleton. Currently in Ottawa-Carleton we have three tax classes: residential farm, multiresidential and commercial-industrial. The new system that's going to come into place has seven classes and subclasses on top of that. Residential farm, multiresidential, commercial - oh, excuse me, there's a separate rate for commercial vacant land. Oh, excuse me, there's another separate rate for commercial vacant building and excess land. Industrial; industrial vacant land - that's a separate rate; industrial vacant land and excess land, that's another rate; pipeline; farm land; farm land awaiting development - oops, that's a new category; managed forests.


As was mentioned earlier, this is going to make life extremely complicated. The current system we have today in Ottawa-Carleton has two tax rates: the commercial mill rate and a residential mill rate, which is set not to go below 85% rate of the commercial rate. The new system will create a set of tax ratios and rates matching the tax classes set above. So if you have all the seven subclasses, you're going to have rates for all these things. It's ridiculous.

What is going to happen? I mentioned earlier the impact that it had in Ottawa-Carleton where there were thousands of cases of winners and losers, thousands of cases of appeals being made. Yes, we could try to phase things in, we did so at the region, but all you're doing is postponing the inevitable.

What happens here? You're going to find, in the municipal portion of your tax bill within the property class within the municipality, shifts; between property classes within the municipality, shifts; in the regional portion of your property tax bill within your property class across the region, shifts. Consider: What is the property taxpayer going to do? He or she is going to say: "Did my assessment decrease more than other properties in the same tax class or did it increase more? Is this fair?" Because of all of these shifts and changes in what's going on, they're going to come to the sad conclusion that indeed it's not fair and they're going to call. Who are they going to call? Not their councillor, because it's assessment that's changed as a result of Bill 149.

Here's something even more interesting. My friend from Nepean will recognize this situation, and that's payments in lieu of property taxes. The treasurers and the municipal treasurers in Ottawa-Carleton went and hired a consultant to put together a report to present to the standing committee that dealt with this particular issue, the Hemson report.

Let me just talk about payments in lieu. I heard the member for Northumberland say it's not fair that municipalities calculate payments in lieu from, say, the federal government, and in Ottawa-Carleton of course the federal government being such a major player, these are millions of dollars, as a matter of fact $65 million, but the education portion is calculated in that and it's not fair that that money does not go over to the school boards. Yes, that's true. That has historically been so.

What you're going to do now is change the ball game because for all these years the school board, not having that money, went to its property tax base, and the municipality, having the money, kept property taxes low. Sorry, guys, your Bill 160 took away the ability for school boards to levy taxes, so no savings there whatsoever. They won't get a penny of this. It goes into the provincial pot and, lo and behold, municipalities are left holding the bag.

Let's just talk about the residential side, the residential education portion of the federal and provincial payments in lieu for local purposes in Ottawa-Carleton. As the new residential education tax rate will be approximately half of the former rate, according to Bill 160, municipalities in Ottawa-Carleton will lose approximately half of the education component of residential payments in lieu from their local purpose budget.

In Ottawa-Carleton that has been estimated to be about $3.5 million. Maybe we can all survive on $3.5 million, but this goes into the pot with the loss of the Ontario municipal support grants and all the downloading that's coming, with all the changes on social assistance, social housing, public transit, the list goes on and on and on, and you whap them with this. I mean they've already gone through two years of blood on the floor making do with the cuts that this government has already levied against the municipalities.

Let's take the commercial side because, don't forget, the commercial side does not see its property tax for educational purposes halved. It does not, yet it's going to have to shoulder the burden of everything else that's going on with downloading. Now look at it. The current legislation allows municipalities to apply the great majority of payments in lieu amounts raised from the commercial education mill rate component to local purposes. In other words, this money is helping to pay for snowplowing, sewer maintenance, sidewalk maintenance, road maintenance, all that fundamental good stuff that property tax should do.

Within Ottawa-Carleton municipalities the commercial education mill rate currently generates approximately $63 million in non-residential payments in lieu every year which are applied as a source of revenue to local municipal budgets. The loss of these commercial payments in lieu would increase taxes across Ottawa-Carleton in amounts as high as $210 per home in the city of Ottawa, $140 per home in Gloucester and a similar amount in the city of Nepean.

This is a change from Bill 160. This is what's happening with Bill 149. You're going to make these things happen. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt is bang on. This hasn't been thought through. It is a complex thing. You're going to stand up and say, "At least we've got the guts to do it." Oh, my Lord, the guts to do it wrong.

The phone calls will come. I tell you, I've been there. Going through market value assessment, which was a necessary thing to do in Ottawa-Carleton, created great dislocation and, as much as we try to smooth things over, it hurts and it hurts big time. It's going to hurt big time across Ontario. There are going to be winners and losers and these phone calls are going to come through and we're going to simply point to Bill 149 and say, "Look, you didn't think it through."

The government didn't think it through for all its talk about supporting small business. When that small business finds that its property taxes have gone up on the assessment side - never mind what's happening on the downloading side - as a result of your reforms, and they're trying to navigate their way through and find themselves going through all these classes and, what, just five miles away within the same municipality the same property is being treated differently, the phone will ring off the hook because paying tax is a business cost and you're not providing stability. You're not providing the ability to deal with this in a rational manner. You just want to do it all over all at once and hope the pain will go away. Good luck to you. I can tell you from the last municipal election in 1995 it was not the case.

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I'm pleased to speak on Bill 149. What I'd like to do is address an example of what this bill does not do and should have done if it was true to its title, and that was to be as fair as it has in the bill. It's called the Fair Municipal Finance Act, but I want to show you and illustrate an example where it's unfair and I would think that each member, when I give the example, will agree with me.

This concern was brought up as a matter of fact at the hearings for Bill 149. We brought this to the attention of the government and it has to do with the rebates to eligible charities. The member for Northumberland, Dr Galt, who's not here at the moment, addressed this before, and he said this bill was great for charities and it was going to be very helpful and useful. Let me tell you, it isn't, and I'm going to give you an instance where it's totally unfair. I have asked the parliamentary assistant if he might be able to help, but it may be too late now to do anything and, therefore, the consequences will be severe for certain individuals in our community in the Ottawa area and probably in other areas as well.

Specifically, the instance I want to raise is one charitable institution, in this case a church, which is leasing to another charitable institution, which in this case is a shelter. The leasing charitable organization, which is called Daybreak, an extremely reputable organization, is not eligible for an exemption from property tax. In effect, we have a church leasing land to a group that is providing social housing. At the committee hearings on Bill 149, on October 21, the general manager of Daybreak, Mr Bob Grey, appeared as a witness. He explained the case, I thought, very well, the predicament that his organization is in. He said:

"For us it's very simple. It seems so anomalous as to be almost silly that with the three houses we have as a registered charity conducting charitable work, where we own and occupy them, we're exempt from the payment of property taxes, and in the instance of this one house, where we rent it from a good group of church folks and provide our social service, because we don't both own and occupy it, we're not exempt."


What kind of logic is that? We have a church leasing a piece of land to a group that receives funding from the province for social housing, and in this instance we're talking about 10 women who are living in this home and who are supported by this organization that helps them with the particular personal problems they have. Some have had difficulties with substance abuse, alcohol, drugs, and some have difficulties emotionally and otherwise, some who have been abused, some who were on the street.

We have 10 women now who are getting their lives back together, and any of you would know the long lists of requests for social housing. What's going to happen? This group is required to pay $18,000 a year on an extremely small budget. They can't afford it. They owe for two years now. They were hoping they would get some kind of a break under this bill, because if they had owned the house it would be tax-exempt, but because they are leasing it from a church, another charity, they must pay that property tax. You tell me whether you think that is fair. I suggest to you it is totally unfair.

I'd like to know what the minister is going to do about that. I know it's always possible to have a time-allocated meeting of the committee of the whole in the House - one amendment, 15 minutes maximum, to put in that reference. This is not involved. One of the responses we had from the minister's office was, "We're not sure if this affects all kinds of non-profits around Ontario." We're not talking about non-profits; we're talking about charitable organizations to charitable organizations. There are only two situations in all of Ottawa-Carleton, so perhaps there may be half a dozen throughout Ontario, if that. I don't know. I haven't heard of any other group coming forward.

We're talking about people - this organization, by the way, was formed by a group of seven Centretown churches. Their mandate was to address the shortage of affordable single housing for single adults with special needs. I say to you that they may be closing. Perhaps this is a function of big government, but it seems to me somewhat innocuous to say the least, somewhat contradictory, that on one hand the province of Ontario finds it meritorious that this organization receives funding to help these individuals, in this case the 10 women who are in that home, they find it important enough to help them with the program, and on the other hand, they will be the direct cause of this organization having to close its doors. I suggest that we should not let that happen. There is nowhere else for these women to go. There is a long waiting list for this organization, let alone any other organization that provides special social housing for people with special needs.

That's my case. When I look at Bill 149 and I see that the bill is called the Fair Municipal Finance Act, it doesn't seem very fair to me, and I'm sure it won't be fair to see what's going to happen to those particular women and that organization that has been around for a long time. Let me tell you, you would be proud to be associated with them. I know this particular group in my community and in different parts of Ottawa, and they are an extremely honourable, hardworking, dedicated group of people who care about those who are less fortunate in their communities.

At the committee hearings when they made the presentation, the parliamentary assistant at the time said that he was taken with the presentation. He said: "We will take this into account very, very seriously. We'll consider it." Now, because of time-allocated bills, what happens? The government didn't even have an amendment to this, even though we had alerted them. In the event that the government didn't, we said as good Liberals, "Let us put in an amendment," because I'm sure that the government may have forgotten or perhaps wasn't responding to something perhaps less significant in terms of volume.

We put in an amendment, and what happened? Just vote yea, nay, yea, nay, because time runs out. All the NDP and all the Liberal amendments defeated; all the government amendments approved. You see what happens when we do this kind of thing and we work in this fashion. We lose our human touch. This is what distinguishes leadership. This is what distinguishes human government. You respond and you listen. This was a wonderful presentation, and I know that every member at that committee on every side of the House - I say this in a non-partisan fashion - was touched by that, and they said: "We've got to do something about that. That is not fair."

I would like to know what the finance minister is going to do, and I would like to know, if this bill passes without the support, what's going to happen, because we will have to do something to make sure that those 10 women who are in need and have a new start for the rest of their lives now will continue to be supported, because it looks very dim and very bleak for a very fine organization called Daybreak, which is certainly not getting a break to survive from this bill.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I'm glad to have the opportunity to speak on this bill tonight because, as you have seen from my fellow Liberal colleagues, they have brought up in their speeches tonight several glaring errors and omissions that this bill brings forward which I think are very serious. I think the point was made by my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt earlier this evening that this government is moving so quickly, at such a fast pace, they're making so many mistakes that before us today in this House we have two bills that are here before us to amend two bills that are still here before us and yet to be passed. It is absolutely amazing that the gross incompetence of the Harris government forces bills to be brought forward to amend bills that have not been passed as yet. That is absolutely incredible.

There are vital items in Bill 149 dealing with municipal tax structure that are being brought forward to amend previous legislation. It is absolutely incredible. While there were complaints in the past that governments moved too slowly - and I think one of the slowest moving governments was Bill Davis's; he was very successful and you might say that was the right thing to do. We found when we came to government that we had a lot to do because of the inaction of the Bill Davis government, but at least in those days you didn't find all the gross mistakes that are being made here by the Harris government.


Mr Ramsay: It's interesting. There's Mr Chudleigh heckling me. He's one of these guys who'd like to see the trains run on time. They tried one of those governments in Europe a few years back and people didn't like that.

What people don't like, of course, especially these Tory members like Chudleigh over here, is that they don't want to see government -

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): You've been holding up California apples. You should be ashamed to hold up a California apple.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Richard Patten): Would the member for Halton North please come to order.

Mr Ramsay: The member for Halton North there is getting very exercised, as he usually does. He's one of the members over there who wants to see government run completely like a business. While we all agree that we can be more businesslike, and I think all governments in the last few years have endeavoured to do that and I'm sure there are more areas we can concentrate our efforts on to make it more businesslike, the fact is, government is not a business. Quite frankly, being a democracy is quite a messy thing, but that's the nature of democracy. It's something to work with people. It's not like being a CEO and being autocratic, which is fine in a business. That's fine, that's a business, but this is a democracy and in a democracy we should work with people. Boy, have you guys ever forgotten that. You've forgotten about working with people, and that's the essence of a democracy.


The other thing about a democracy is that you try to work with everyone and not just govern for some. You tend to be governing for one particular class of people here in this province, and you're dividing Ontarians through this. That's basically wrong. You've gone completely away from your roots in your party, the tradition that John Robarts and Bill Davis brought to Ontario. People of all political stripes understood that those people were trying to govern for all Ontarians. They were trying to do that. But you've been taken over by another party, the Reform Party, and you're governing for one class of people. That's evident in this.

It's not a business. You've got to start working with people and consulting with people, taking that time to work with the people of Ontario and move these reforms forward, but moving the reforms forward in consultation with Ontarians.

In these tax bills, in your authoritarian offloading, what you're doing is changing the culture of Ontario. Specifically, a lot of these changes are changing the culture of rural Ontario. Gross tax receipts are now being directly given to the provincial government. In the past, townships and municipalities charged 5% or 6% of the gross receipts of the telephone or telegraph lines and those revenues came to the township or the municipality. Those receipts now are going directly to the province. They're losing that. Many rural townships are dependent upon the gas pipeline that has come through their area. They've lost that now too. You're giving them a double and a triple whammy by taking away the farm tax rebate that used to go directly to those townships.

You're telling us here that municipalities across the board are not going to have an increase of property tax rates next year, but I'll tell you, you are going to find that big, rural municipalities are going to be very hard hit by your downloading. Those municipalities have never before had to pay for policing. The idea of equitable costing for policing is not a bad idea, but why should the Parry Sound region pay $179 a household for OPP policing while my colleague from Kenora's area is paying over $700 a household for policing? Your government years ago decided it was a great idea to have one-price beer across the province, but if you want equal police protection in northern Ontario versus the south, you've got to pay an arm and a leg to have the OPP come when something happens on your property or when there's a dispute in your community.

Where's the equity in that? What are you thinking about over there when you do that? No wonder you're dropping in the polls. No wonder people are angry at you. You're not treating people fairly. Everybody will take the pain if you dish the pain out equally, if that's the way you want to run government, but you're not dishing it out equally. You're discriminating against classes of people and geographic regions of people. They're angry and they're going to remember this, believe me. We're getting letters and phone calls, and they are angry at what you're doing. It's because you're moving so quickly that you're not thinking this out and you're not dishing out all the pain equally.

I'm not sure that in the two years you have left you're going to be able to patch this up. I know that's your plan. You're going to be finished your Common Sense Revolution by Christmas and then you're going to try to patch this up and hope everybody forgets how shabbily you've treated Ontarians over the last few years.

While you give the bank president a $150,000 tax rebate because of your 30% tax cut, look at what you've done to the middle class and the lower-paid people. There's Mr Ford laughing his head off about this, but you're causing class warfare out there. You're hurting low-income people and the upper-income people are doing just fine by this government. That's not the way you should be running a government. You should try to make sure that every one of our citizens can prosper.

I'm not one who believes everybody should end up the same, but everybody should have equal opportunity to prosper, and you're not doing that. You are penalizing people who are just trying to make a living. You penalize people with children who are struggling on social assistance. They were the first people you cut, at 22%, and all to pay for the bank president who wants the $150,000 tax rebate. That's absolutely wrong, but that's the type of governing you're doing. That's why you're going down in the polls, because people are saying it's not fair, that you're not treating people equitably.

Look at the city of Toronto. Sure, while we can develop changes and can look at amalgamations, you decide what's best for people and you shove it down people's throats. That's what you did in Toronto. The people in Toronto did not want to do the amalgamation scheme that you had in mind, but this Harris government decided that's what they were going to do and shove it down people's throats.

The education changes: All of us understand, teachers, trustees, all the educators, the principals and vice-principals, that change must happen. But instead of working with people and bringing along that change and understanding that everybody at the table had to give a little, you decided what were the right answers and shoved all those changes down everybody's throats.

You've got everybody upset by the rate and the speed and the method of how you're bringing about your revolution. If you study your history about revolutions, you understand what happens: There's always a counterrevolution. The revolutionaries usually get knocked off in the end because of the speed and the pace of the way you go about things. That's why revolution really doesn't work.

In a democracy you've got to work with people. You've got to bring people along. You've got to first of all work together to make sure that people understand there is a problem, that these are the problem areas. That can be done in Canadian society, and we've seen that with the deficit. In fact, it was Michael Wilson of the Mulroney government who first wanted to start to educate people that the deficit was a problem. Mind you, he wasn't doing too much about it - he had his long-term target and increased and increased and increased it - but he was starting the dialogue with Canadians that: "Don't expect governments just to send you cheques all the time. We're going to have to start to pay as we go."

I think just about all Canadians now understand that we can't be living the way we used to, high on the hog, way beyond our means. Canadians will change their attitudes and Ontarians will change their attitudes about how government works, how we must finance government. You can work with people in a democracy. You don't need the abrupt revolutionary changes to make things happen. When you do it with consultation, you make them permanent. When you work with people, when you have people agreeing with you, then you can move it along and you've got the permanent change you need.

What you're doing with all your bills is that you're going to force, as we have said and the third party has said, a future government, if that's to be, to repeal holus-bolus large pieces of legislation that you have brought forward because that's what the public is demanding. The public is so upset with the pieces of legislation you have brought in, two of which we have voted on in the last two days, the so-called Education Improvement Act and the municipal downloading.

For you to start changing the whole culture of how we collect our taxes at the local level to service the needs and requirements of property to health care and to social services is absolutely, fundamentally wrong. Even your handpicked advisers in the Who Does What committee, David Crombie's committee, said that to this government, that property should pay for services to property and should be the realm and the sole realm of municipalities.

But you've ignored that advice to hatch a financial calculation to pay for your 30% tax cut. You've got a mixed and mingled formula of downloading that is absolutely illogical and does not at all disentangle the roles and responsibilities between the provincial and municipal government.

I thought that was the goal and I approved of that goal. We need to do that between all three levels of government. Why do we need two departments of agriculture, for instance, and two departments of environment? We need to continue to disentangle the levels of government so that we all are responsible for certain responsibilities and that's it. We need to do that. But in this particular exercise you haven't disentangled at all. You've still just commingled them and mixed them up and it's a hodgepodge of responsibilities.

I'm very afraid that small rural municipalities are going to have a hard time raising the money to pay for public health. Major municipalities in counties and districts in this province are going to have a hard time funding the increasing needs of our health units to finance the very necessary expenditures for public health. That shouldn't have to come from the local level at all. That should come from the wealth of the province as a whole, through the progressive income tax system, so that the affluent areas of Ontario help share that cost for public health right across the board. That's important. That's what being a Canadian is all about, that we share the weight of the costs across the province and across the country.

But you've distorted that. You've made an abrupt 180-degree turn against that sort of sense that we're there to help each other. That's our contract with ourselves, that we are there to share that burden, to share that weight. We all come from various means, have different incomes, come from different areas of affluence with different property values, and that system has been there so that we share that responsibility for major areas such as housing and health and the social justice system. That's really important, but you've distorted that.

The system is not going to work, and this bill just exacerbates that. It continues the downloading illogicalities of bringing in fees and responsibilities to the local government that shouldn't be there at all, that should still be provincial responsibilities. That needs to be changed, and I'll tell you, a Liberal government in the future will change that if we get that responsibility. I hope we do get that responsibility, because this has gone far too far and it needs to be changed. We need to be able to sit down with our other levels of government and work this out in a cooperative manner rather than just forcing this download to our municipal partners.

You truly are treating your municipal partners as children of the province, as creatures of the province; not as partners to be respected as having a great job to do at the local level. They do have a great job to do at that local level. We should appreciate them and give them that responsibility and understand that they are there for the welfare of their local citizens. They do a great job. We should salute them and give them great responsibility to take over their responsibilities.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It's been quite a week indeed. The revolution seems to have picked up speed. I check my pocket watch and, yes, the train left on time, fully loaded with the faithful members of the brigade, willing and able to share in this adventure.

You recall Bill 160. The reason I start with Bill 160 is that this is a study in genetics, a gene pool where those bills are so closely related that some of them start going backwards, bill after bill, because the revolution is bold. It advances on many, many fronts. Bill 160, in front of our very eyes, was the assault on democracy, the beginning of the end of public education as Ontarians have known it. It's not the last opportunity I have as a member, as a citizen, but one more opportunity this evening to congratulate those community leaders, the teachers, the parents, the students, Ontarians all, who witnessed the assault.

Then the train kept going with Bill 152, the downloading bill, right on to the municipalities. There's only one taxpayer.

Then we had Bill 161, the ransom bill, the guilt bill, where $40 is taken from students, from school supplies, from the salaries of those women and men teachers at the elementary and secondary levels, to try to lure people in the Christmas season with a few dollars more because they've made a mistake.

Now we have Bill 149, the Fair Municipal Finance Act, a derivative, an offspring of Bill 106, which was fabricated at the same factory.

I want to go back to one of those bills, Bill 152, the downloading bill. An extraordinary event took place earlier today in this very chamber. "Tory Bill Changes End MPP Rebellion," says the Toronto Sun. "The Tories intend to sweeten the `Who Does What.'" One would understand if it said "intend to sweeten the `Who Pays for What Deal' with Ontario municipalities." Two members, the member for Oakville South, Mr Gary Carr, and the member for Wentworth North, Mr Toni Skarica, exemplified a great deal of courage. They got off the train. They said to the commissars: "We will stand up. We are elected to represent the people of our constituency, the people of our riding. The people of our riding have spoken to us and we have listened."

Madam Speaker, I wish you to share in the sorrow, because there is a human dimension associated with the courage of Mr Carr and Mr Skarica. They were pressured, they were shackled and they were muzzled. In fact, I had a message at 3 am this morning. Toni and Gary, do not answer the door.

Others were under pressure as well. They took off the muzzle and opted for the feed bag. What they did is they supported the revolution. There aren't too many people who haven't been antagonized as the train moves on and on to village after village, citizen after citizen, as he and the commissars move up the food chain.

You'll recall they started, by regulation, with the marginalized, with people on welfare, and we didn't say much. We thought they would perhaps stop there. Then they moved up the food chain and attacked the civil service, the good people who sit at the back at 8:10 on this Tuesday, December 2, who work diligently and loyally to help and please the regime of the day. But then they went after the most educated group in our province: our teachers. They tried to save no one. Who will it be next?

I truly believe from time to time they pick up the phone book every week before their caucus meeting. They look at the phone book and they say: "Is there one group we haven't antagonized? Maybe the gravediggers haven't been done in." I can assure you that the gravediggers' association will be front and centre at the next caucus meeting and they will concoct a potion, a solution, "Today we'll go after the gravediggers as well." They spare no one.

"Tories to Offer Cities, Towns $800-million Cash Cushion. `No Municipality Will Lose Through Downloading,' Eves promises." Why the $800 million? Because you see - you recall, we talked about it - about two months ago they said this would be revenue-neutral, that we would break even, that it would be a wash. Now an $800-million cash cushion.

You see, when you act in haste, when you're in a hurry, when you're tired, you make mistakes. This government has no credibility, or so little credibility left. You want to believe them, but there isn't one piece of legislation - my colleagues and friends from the official opposition have mentioned this prior - where you don't have at least some 40 or 50 amendments: "Oops, I've made a mistake."

Then it becomes habitual. They're prolific. They're almost psychological. They keep repeating the same mistake over again, 50 amendments, and then - get this; this you will appreciate - they miss the deadline on amendments, their own deadline. They set the rules. So they say, "We will come up with another bill; we can't put any more amendments so we're going to have another bill, Bill 164," which is a series of amendments.


Remember in that omnibus bag there is Bill 160; it's now becoming law. So that snake came out of the bag. You have Bill 152, la payola, the ransom bill, Bill 161. You have Bill 106, which is the snake at the bottom of the bag, where it all started. And now they throw in 164. Then they dim the lights. Then they come out and they become law. That's what we have.

Let me share with you what is about to happen. I will stop talking; I will let people who walk the walk do the talking. We'll take a little walk together because they're the soldiers. They're the ones who have to administer, the people who deal on a daily basis with that "only one taxpayer," and we will listen to what they have to say. We listen. In fact our government, the previous administration, duly elected, was often accused of too much consultation. People have even said to us, I know they've said to me: "Make decisions. By this time, you should know enough." Only too often we refused. We said, "No, this group and this group and again this group has to be consulted, for they are the people we serve." The same cannot be said about the present government: "Get off the track, we will do it come hell, heck or high water."

It becomes so convoluted; it's so complex; it's ill-thought; there are no checkmarks. But what the heck, democracy will wait for a sunny day. "We'll say the right thing at the right time. Even if we're wrong, we won't admit our mistake. That shows weakness. You will wear our mistake and you shall become weaker."

But this government again is intent: subclasses of taxes, assessment and reassessment. You saw them in your neighbourhood, people who were hired ad hoc in a hurry to assess your home, your little castle. Out came the pocketbook, the official kit. It was instant-made, one day of training. Not your professional assessor, who by the way belonged to OPSEU, not those well-trained professionals, but some of the people who go to the local watering hole and assess from there because some have threatened to shoot them on sight. They will say how many bathrooms, if they dare, apologetically, to go into your - well, it's been done, not once, not 100,000, not one million times. This proliferation is exposing - it is doing for 3.8 million units across the province. Is it the largest ever undertaken in Canada? Is it among the largest on the continent? It is the largest assessment and reassessment ever undertaken in the annals of North America - 3.8 million.

But it's done in such a rush that the ministry - not our party - is saying expect no fewer than 600,000 appeals. It's a circus extraordinaire. It's a tombola out of control. Some 600,000 people will appeal their assessments. You need the assessment to set your final mill rate - of little concern to the government but they should be very, very concerned.

The tax bill will come some time in June or July. Automatically it will be appealed, but they won't have the right to appeal because the date by which you can voice your concern through appeal will have passed. You will be left alone. You will be vulnerable and then the people in the municipality must make ends meet. They're not going to get the difference between the downloading costs and the empty promise. They'll still be waiting for that cheque in the mail. They will turn to the people to round up the money, to the small business community. You've guessed it.

You're signalling to me, what about big business? I agree with you. Big business, they're the winners in this game of winner take all. You see, if you're a bank - and I know they've been much maligned and they will be the first ones to tell you and repeat to you that they pay handsome taxes, that they provide some employment, not as much as yesteryear but still do. The tellers are paid a full $21,000 per annum, and I don't have the time to go up the line and tell you how much for the winner take all at the top. They will get a break. Who is going to pick up the slack? They have transition money but it won't be enough.

The homeowner is going to pick up the slack because while you're getting a tax break on the education portion, as a homeowner, you will have to pay for policing; you will have to pay for Ms Jones for community health; you will have to pay for housing; you will have to pay for ambulance services; you will have to pay for the portion of people who need a prescription if they're marginalized, if they're on welfare, if they're on social assistance. The money you have to pay at the municipal level will exceed, will surpass the break you get on your education portion. Very simple: They will give you a small break, but now you will take over a range of responsibilities and you will have to pay.

We've asked the government about an impact study: "Surely you've one some homework. You've consulted with people, you've had some pilot projects, you've gone across the province." Any sensible government would have done that. It's the thing to do; it's normalcy; it's what you think about immediately. "Let's test it. "Let's do a timetable. Let's be wise about it because it's impacting, it hits people in the pocketbook." No, there is no impact study.

December 2, and nothing will move after December 15, December 17. Christmas is for most of us. Then we will be propelled into January, but the bills will start arriving in January. The municipalities will be left to collect 50% of the tax levy based on the last year. Who's going to make up the difference? If you ask about the transition, "How do we apply? What are the cost factors? What about auditing? What about our costs? Will they match yours?" people don't have the answer. What a mess we're in. Why not take longer if you still wish to do it?

I want to go back to assessment for a second. I don't throw too many things away because when I throw some papers away and I think they're no longer relevant, they're dated, they no longer serve the purpose, almost inevitably I'm attacked with a bill such as this one, Bill 149, and I say, "I wish I would've kept my files."

This is a document which is dated June 2, 1995. It's addressed, "To the homeowners in Cabbagetown, Moore Park and Rosedale" - that's downtown Toronto I suppose; I need your help. It says, "My party and I will never" - underline never - "support the imposition of market value assessment in Toronto."


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): When was that?

Mr Pouliot: "Common Sense for a Change," June 2, 1995, signed by Al Leach, Minister of Municipal Affairs, engineer, architect of this ill-fated document.

The Common Sense Revolution said - "If we don't do as per the Common Sense Revolution, I shall resign." People are listening and they are saying to M. Leach: "Out the door. Do the honourable thing while you have an ounce of dignity left. Resign. Dispense. Out." This is a contradiction if there ever was one.

Then I turn to another page - I'm saddened to say; I don't wish to appear, I don't want anyone to have the idea that I attack everyone - and page 2 says: "The Liberals milked Metro dry. When the Liberals were in power, they treated all taxpayers" - they mean all of us, but particularly Metro - "like cash cows. They increased taxes 33 times in five years."

The Conservatives are saying that about the Liberals. There is not a word here about the New Democratic Party of Ontario.

The next page says the market value plan is nothing. It says: "The policy of the Progressive Conservative Party has always been that we will never impose market value assessment on Toronto. We remain firm in that position." Then they ordered Jell-O for everybody.

Ms Lankin: Who said that?

Mr Pouliot: Another cabinet minister said that.

Ms Lankin: Another cabinet minister?

Mr Pouliot: Two of them: We've had M. Leach and another cabinet minister.

"Mike Harris will relieve upward pressure on property taxes." Mike Harris, this is what he will do. I hope all municipalities in Ontario are listening, all 800-plus. I know there's a great deal of anxiety. There's been no explanation - very little. Anxiety leads to fear. But Mike Harris said, when he wanted your vote, "Stop the downloading of mandates on municipalities." Bill 152 is called the downloading bill. What is Bill 106 doing, the close cousin? What about the brother? Mike Harris said that. Unbelievable. Enough time on this.

Let me share with you some of the comments. It was like a caravan, coming from all over Ontario: municipalities, business people, conglomerates, everyone was at the table as a presenter, trying to warn the government - foes, friends, allies, enemies, one after the other, half-hour slot.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario represents 95% of Ontarians through their towns, villages, hamlets, municipalities. This is what they said: "Ontario property taxpayers contribute more than $14 billion each year to public sector spending, an amount almost equivalent to personal income tax in this province. Bill 149" - the piece we have for consideration - "has given municipalities the option of providing tax rebates to charities and similar organizations of up to 40%." This is the human dimension; this is well thought of.

"While municipalities understand the rationale for this provision to provide these rebates, we would like to reiterate our belief that this rebate should remain at the discretion of the local municipality."

The government cuts the funds. The Progressive Conservatives cut the funds. Then they say to the municipality that you give them some, but you absorb the difference. They did the same.

Then the Canadian Opera Company. It was something, one of those when you had to be there to fully appreciate it. With all the sincerity at their command, with the good office they represent, with our souls that they bless with their talent, accompanied by the saltimbanco, the democratic theatre, if you wish, followed by the panache, the accoutrements of large endeavours, international shows, and they, knock, knock, came calling; knock, knock, knock, came calling again. The government sitting there in their splendour and saying, "We shall decree, we shall tell the municipality that you will not be taxed." It was du grand théâtre. It was something. No one had missed their calling and no one missed calling.

The irony, when you go back into those files that you never threw away, is you find the devil. They had cut them by about a third. They cut the grants because they had to balance the books. We don't see this coming to the House. Through debate, we find out these things. Democracy slows things down. Accountants, they get in the way. Let's hear it for the government. They cut you off and then they force the municipalities to go without their revenues.

If you say, "Well, I should have the discretion," no, no, no, because M. Leach, with his colleague and cohort M. Eves, has concocted the deal. You'll find it in Albert Camus. He calls it La Peste. Not cholera, not typhus; this is the worst concoction, one of the highest order. Now it's confined to two ministers, but it gets worse.

What does AMO tell us again? These people are trying very, very hard. They're saying, "Give us the opportunity to increase the interim tax levy." Bon. They're going to break even. This is a wash. "Don't worry. I, Mike Harris, tell you your property taxes will not go up." That's breaking even. If somebody's taxes go up, it's not breaking even and our Premier will be blamed.

AMO senses that. They're at the avant-garde. They've been there before. "Further, to assist municipalities to cope with the fiscal challenges of the Who Does What transfer, the government must demonstrate how the bill will facilitate municipalities to levy more than 50% of their previous year's assessment if necessary." In other words, they sense that we won't have enough money because it's going to cost us more to operate now because you've downloaded; you've dumped on us. "So can we go to the taxpayers earlier and charge them more than 50% on their last year's tax bill so we can make ends meet?"

But the Premier says: "Don't worry. Trust me. Things will come to pass. The sky won't fall." I know that we are a constitutional monarchy. I know that the adversarial system is alive and well. I also know that when it makes little sense, you can't say, "Damn the principles; one for the party." It's far too expedient. Well, today we have had a crack in the armour. Two people stood at their posts, sentries. I know we admire them. Every one of us with the opposition was present today, and they got our collective and individual salutations and commendations.


Let it be an example to others who, in their heart, because they are listening to their constituents, feel the anxiety. They know that they won't put the brakes on. They are so advanced in their agenda, in their mantra, that they will push through and go through no matter who gets hurt. Hopefully there will be enough fine soldiers at their posts, fine citizens who are saying : «Debout. Madame, entends-tu le bruit de son pas, le son de sa voix, ces gens qui te font signe d'attendre, d'appliquer un peu les freins ?» Ce sont des gens de notre pays, des gens de chez nous, du plus petit village à l'urbain le plus sophistiqué dans cette collectivité, en ce soir d'attente, en ce soir de peur, qui signalent avec le projet de loi 149 et les autres qui suivront à court échéance : «Attention. Ne faites pas mal aux gens, Monsieur le Premier ministre. Arrêtez. »

Mais, vous savez, encore une fois, avec ces gens, on parle peu. Avec ces gens, Madame, on s'excuse. Mais toujours, du pauvre ou moins bien nanti au petit-salarié, avec ces gens, chose certaine : on paie, et on paie toujours pour le bénéfice des mieux nantis, de ceux qui peuvent s'échapper du peloton, qui peuvent courir le plus vite. Je vous demande de chercher dans votre âme si nous avons une justice sociale, une justice équitable présentement en Ontario.

The Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario: Those are the women and men at the local level. We all know them, especially in medium-sized or small communities across the province. We know who the clerk-administrator is; we know who the clerk-treasurer is. They made a presentation. The opposition listened very intently. We were there to learn, trying to help, and oh, were we about to learn. They were fairly direct. I was quite surprised - I guess when there is no other way, you cut to the chase and you invoke direct action.

"Implementation on January 1, 1998," a little more than three weeks from now, "is a high-risk situation for the stability and financial health of the municipal sector." Simple, isn't it? "Be careful three weeks from now." That's what they're saying. They have nothing to gain. Very few of them are political, if you wish; they have no political agenda. They are there to serve. They are technicians, and they are saying, "High-risk situation."

They've said it before. The reason they go for the action directe is because they've said it again and again but there were no takers with the revolution. "Once again, we suggest that there has to be more information-sharing, particularly given the timetable for review and implementation of Bills 106 and 149. To perform functions effectively, clerks and treasurers need all the information they can get," and do it pronto, "as soon as possible."

Did the government listen? We'll be voting tomorrow on Bill 142. The government will use its majority muscle and they will push it through: no impact study, no consultation.

To summarize this particular point, we who are responsible for implementation do nothing so that there is either enough time or enough information to expect or even hope for smooth implementation as planned. Chaos. Hopefully the sky won't fall, but the clouds will get very, very low. That's what the technicians are saying; this is what the politicians have said. They're in unison. They agree with the message: Give us more information. Take your time. You can achieve your agenda. Be it that we're philosophically and politically different. We might not share the same values, but they're saying, "Give us a chance to adjust." This is an overload of legislation.

I see the good people at finance there at the back and I want to thank them, because every time I wanted some information or some clarification, you tried your best. You're to be commended: a departure from form. I don't know how you do it. I don't know. Sometimes I think you're the only people who understand all that. You might be the only people who have all the information, so you have a bit of an advantage, and they don't want you - and it's not your role; I'm not asking - to share it with us. I don't want to have a brown envelope on my desk tomorrow with something in it. I wouldn't feel it's quite the way we do business. But I would wish them to come up with the right information so I can best represent the people and do my job. I mean, this is a little long; we've been at it time and time again now. Somebody will have to come clean, because citizens must do some planning. Municipalities must plan. They must plan for 1998 in 1998, and unless they have the tools to do the job they're paired with, they cannot address their mandate. To me it's very commonsensical, it's not extraordinary. That's what people would ask for.

I know we're nearing our deadline and I have so many presenters whom I wish to thank for taking the time to come to us with their expertise.

I want to share with you one from Peter Robertson, the mayor of the city of Brampton. One cannot accuse his worship of being - his worship believes that if you're a Maoist, you live in Maui, and this is as far as it goes. This is a most reasonable person, very centre-of-the-road. That's right, that's Peter, with respect, His Worship Mayor Robertson, of the city of Brampton:

"I am astounded that the Conservative government, which has the great respect of the business sector" - I mean, among friends - "is moving ahead on assessment reform that fundamentally alters incentive. If a Conservative government does not know the fundamentals of incentive, who does?"

Mayor Robertson is saying that you keep on in your ways and you won't have many friends. Peter Robertson is saying that you're eating your young, that you have no friends. The business community is deserting you. They don't return your calls, they don't answer you.


My God, it's not a good feeling, yet it can still be rectified. It won't be easy. Some people will feel that they're losing face, that it's not the way. "We are a government that said we would proceed with the revolution." They never mentioned these, though. They never mentioned downloading; it was quite the opposite. "But we'll show people that we're tough. We will show people who's boss. Then the people will get used to it and they'll like it. They'll like the toughness and then we will get re-elected." Well, it's not going to happen.

I would like to conclude by sharing with you almost each and every one of the dozen presenters. It's all here for verification. It's them speaking. These are their words, their alternatives, their equilibrium, their balance, their common sense, and they say to you: "Take a little longer. Give us a chance to prosper. We will help you do things. Stop what you're doing for a time. Put the brakes on." I know some of the backbenchers are acquiescing, are saying: "Maybe there's some truth with the presenters. Maybe what they're saying in their presentations makes sense."

It's not all bad. A group that calls itself Young People's Theatre - the Fair Municipal Finance Act - with 24 full-time positions, 110 contract positions for "artistes" and 155 part-time support staff, wishes to commend and congratulate the new Minister of Culture, Madame Isabel Bassett. The Young People's Theatre believes that the appointment of that minister is perhaps the best coup, the best appointment, the wisest appointment this government has made - culture and recreation, I have to say a good choice was made. Sorry about the other ministers because they don't even begin to rise to the occasion in their respective mandates. I see the Minister of Education, the former Minister of Health, with respect, Mr Fix-it, or Mr Break-it, has joined us.

I'm going to ask the minister, do you live here? Your office must be pretty large indeed. You have a shower in there. You spend a lot of time in the corridors. I want to commend you for the good work you did. It's a lot safer here. You'll feel very much at home. Security nowadays: I hear people say, "I don't wish ill to any government, but why doesn't somebody and somebody" - I'm a great believer in democracy and voicing your disagreement and your alternatives here and at the ballot box. I want to thank you for taking the time to come and listen to our presentation.

I thank you, Madame Speaker, and I say to the people out there, please do not despair. There are still some people with you to make sure you will be able to operate. It's not all on one side. I know when the roll comes and the tide hits it seems that way, but no, be positive. You are not alone. It has been a bad period. You've had Bill 160, the systematic and deliberate attempt to destroy public education. You've had Bill 26, a direct attack on democracy, where the opposition has been muzzled. You've had Bill 152. It's going to cost you more. I'm sorry. Tonight you've had Bill 149, but do not despair, because the clock is ticking there as well and in a year and a half, at most, we will have the chance to restore normalcy and democracy.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate. Seeing none, I shall call for the vote. Mr Eves has moved third reading of Bill 149. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

I just received a letter from the government member. It reads:

"Dear Mr Speaker:

"Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I would like to request that the vote on Bill 149...be deferred until Wednesday, December 3, 1997.

"Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

"David Turnbull," the whip.


The Deputy Speaker: A point of privilege? You're not in your seat. Sorry, I can't take your point of privilege from there.

Orders of the day.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Madam Speaker, I move the adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 2047.