36th Parliament, 1st Session

L261a - Mon 15 Dec 1997 / Lun 15 Déc 1997














































The House met at 1331.



Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to the two time allocation motions that were tabled by the government last Thursday.

One of the motions allocates the time for consideration of six bills, Bills 63, 64, 65, 66, 68 and 69. The government has not yet informed us of when it intends to call this motion. The other motion allocates consideration of Bill 164, An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget and to make other amendments to -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Algoma, I don't mean to jump in too quickly, but if you give me one second: These two motions are on the order paper. As I've done in the past, I don't want to rule on these unless they're called.

Simply put, there are lots of motions that are put that are never called and ultimately never have to be ruled on by the Speaker. These could very well be part of those that aren't called. I prefer to deal with them at the time that they are called. I appreciate that puts a bit of a burden on you with respect to making your submissions because you'd have to be here at all times.

Let me just leave you with this, that I will take your submission, pass it to the Clerk and know full well that if they are called, I will presume that you will make these arguments with respect to their orderliness if you are in fact not here or another member of your caucus wants to put those. I appreciate the notice and thank you.



Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): We are moving from crisis to complete chaos. At a time when you thought the tax reform would bring some equity to an antiquated system, we are going into another chaos, totally, between residential and commercial-industrial property. We are pitting the residential portion versus the commercial and industrial sector.

There was a time when we were looking and bringing some equity to the tax reform system. Now we have a minister who has reserved for himself total, extraordinary power to adjust and readjust the tax rate in the industrial-commercial area according to his own whim, at any particular time, whenever he wants. This is not just or fair; this is not tax reform the way we were hoping. The business community knows that and they are waking up to the problems this government is creating. Instead of bringing some fairness and equity to an antiquated system, bringing some justice to the small business community, they are pitting one against the other.

Let me tell you this: When the community finally finds out about the extraordinary powers that Bill 160 gives to the minister, they are going to revolt. This is totally unfair, that the minister is using this power to really divide these communities. If the minister is not going to use this power, why then doesn't he repeal this particular section of Bill 160? I think he should be doing that, in total fairness to both the residential -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.


Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): Last week, Bud Jimmerfield, past president of CAW Local 89, was informed by the Workers' Compensation Board that his claim had been denied. It's significant in this case because Bud Jimmerfield suffers from cancer of the esophagus, a condition he became aware of over one year ago. He worked for 31 years at SKD, an auto parts manufacturer in Amherstburg, and was exposed to metal-working fluids throughout his employment.

Studies in the United States have found a high incidence of cancer of the esophagus among employees exposed to metal-working fluids. In 1993 the Occupational Disease Panel conducted a similar investigation, and in 1996 recommended that the WCB list cancer of the esophagus, as they concluded there was a strong possibility that workers who developed this cancer after having been exposed to metalcutting fluids over a long period did so as a result of their workplace exposure.

Despite this evidence in the United States and Canada, and despite the recommendations of the Occupational Disease Panel recognizing that link and despite the evidence in the case of Bud Jimmerfield, the Workers' Compensation Board has denied his claim, as they appear to routinely deny cases of occupational diseases. This government's response to people like Bud Jimmerfield has been to reduce benefits to injured workers, to restrict their entitlement and to entirely eliminate the Occupational Disease Panel and endanger the health and safety of workers exposed to cancer-causing fluids in their work environment.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): I'm pleased to inform the House of the expansion of a very important Etobicoke-Rexdale business: the Toronto Congress Centre. It is making an announcement very shortly about the expansion of its facility on Dixon Road that will make the Toronto Congress Centre the largest convention centre in the city of Toronto and will also make it the largest privately owned convention centre in the world.

As it currently stands, the Toronto Congress Centre creates an estimated 1,300 permanent jobs and injects an estimated $37 million into the Toronto economy with its high-value jobs. Obviously these numbers will increase when the centre doubles its capacity to one million square feet, making it one of the five largest trade convention centres in North America.

I would like to take this moment to thank and congratulate Mr Alain Sutton, chief executive officer of the Toronto Congress Centre, and his wonderful wife, Deborah Sutton, for making this economic projection a reality in 1998 and making Toronto a more prosperous, unified city.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): If the people of Ontario need any further explanation of why the Mike Harris government cannot be trusted and certainly should not be believed when they make a public pronouncement, the release this past Friday of the municipality-by-municipality downloading figures should put that issue to rest. After months and months of promising that their downloading responsibilities would be revenue-neutral, the shocking truth was revealed.

Our municipal leaders tell us they must make millions of dollars in cuts before they can even qualify for the transition fund the government will temporarily put in place. The fact is it's nothing more than a form of blackmail if that's the case. Who will pay for this? The property taxpayers, either with massive service cuts or massive property tax increases.

In my home town of Thunder Bay, city council must cut $7.1 million out of their budget right off the top. This is not the deal you promised, Mr Eves and Mr Harris, and the people won't forget it.

What makes this all the more galling is that the cost and potential revenues the province have calculated seem to be pulled out of thin air. In Thunder Bay's case, the province says our social assistance costs should be $10.6 million, while the city administration calculates it at $12 million; another $1.5-million difference the property taxpayers will have to come up with.

Smaller communities in northwestern Ontario, like Schreiber for example, may be in even deeper trouble. Premier, how can you expect Schreiber, with its low commercial tax base, to cut out a further $100,000, off the top, from their budget, when they've already got it cut to the bone?

It's awful what this government has done to northern municipalities and all the ones across the province.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): Revenue-neutral, eh? This government said their downloading exercise was not going to cost any of us anything. Well, in my home town of Hamilton, for the regional government we're talking of $17 million that our people have to come up with or cut services. In Hamilton city proper, at the lower level, they have to come up with $6.8 million, and that is before we had had a chance to analyse your numbers. We know that with the numbers this government has come up with versus our local numbers, there's been a gap as huge as the Grand Canyon.

What did the Hamilton Spectator editorial say today? In part, they said, "But to the Harris government"-


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Stop the clock. Hold on. I need some order, and I need order back here too. If you are going to meet, could you go out there and meet? Thanks, guys.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): Skarica was right -


The Speaker: Member for Algoma. Member for Etobicoke-Humber. These are statements. Every member deserves to have their statement heard and I couldn't hear the member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, Speaker. I think it's the first time anybody in this place has claimed they couldn't hear me.

To go on with the quote from the Hamilton Spectator editorial, "This is more like a government dumping services on to other smaller governments so that Ontario's books look better, perhaps to make it easier to eliminate the deficit or deliver promised tax cuts, but without much regard for the welfare of those who will eventually be most affected by the transfer of services."

And look at the headline from the Spectator on the weekend, "Hike User Fees to Cope"; that's Pettit's answer, "Hike user fees." Way to go, Trevor. You and Lillian are doing just a great job of representing our people. When are you going to speak for our citizens, instead of Mike Harris?


Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): At this time of year in the cold, dark months of winter, Canadians join other peoples around the world in celebrating the miracle of light, with festivities and celebrations in December. Our celebration of light in the dark month of December is a symbol of hope and has a deeply multicultural character which truly defines our national identity.

For example, the Christmas lights that we see everywhere herald the advent of Christmas. Christmas lights were derived from the Irish practice of placing a candle in the window during the penal times of religious persecution. Irish priests who were being hunted knew that the candles marked the homes where they could seek protection for the night, so an international Christmas tradition was born.

The Canadian Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah this month to commemorate the lamp in the restored temple that burned for eight days on a single day's fuel. Earlier we marked the Hindu feast of lights, Diwali, and at this time is enlightenment day in the Buddhist community, marking the total awareness of Buddha. African-Canadians will also celebrate the feast of Kwang-Za following Christmas, and December 31 marks the beginning of Ramadan, when Muslims begin their fasting, again as a way to seek enlightenment.

Canadians are truly blessed to be able to share in each others' multicultural celebrations. I know I have learned a great deal from the multicultural traditions of my constituents. I would like to take this opportunity to say to all Ontarians Merry Christmas, Shalom Aleichem, Namastay and Salaam Alekum.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): If the Mike Harris downloading exercise wasn't so serious, what I have to say to you today would be almost laughable. When you look at the final figures for Pelee township, the little island of Pelee out in the middle of Lake Erie - final figures - the minister says, "We're going to download to you $32,000 for social housing." If you can find any social housing on Pelee Island, I'd like you to show me where it is. They take care of their own over there and they don't depend on the government.

Now we're meeting with the minister this afternoon. The Minister of Transportation has said: "We're going to download $2.1 million on the fewer than 300 residents on Pelee Island. How are we going to do that? We're going to take $2.4 million off your educational tax." They've got a little school over on Pelee Island. If they paid $2.4 million a year in tax, that would mean about $20,000 per person. That's ridiculous.

Your figures are wrong. The figures you've given all year have been wrong. These, I say to the Minister of Finance, are so utterly ridiculous that it shouldn't even -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. The member's time has expired.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): We've heard a lot over the last number of months in this province about youth unemployment and the challenge that communities face finding work for their young people. I raised in the House last week the reality of older workers and what they're facing. Many of them are losing their jobs under the guise of downsizing and restructuring, only to be replaced weeks or months later with two or three part-time workers. This is really disturbing, particularly when you consider that most of these people are a matter of a year or two from collecting the pension they've paid into and are being stiffed.

This is all part of the right-wing agenda that is being promoted by this government. We have youth unemployment at alarming rates and we have older workers losing their jobs to part-time workers, while the major corporations shedding their workers are recording, every time we turn around, historically record-high profits.

This, when you combine it with the statistics that come out from this government and other governments to say that their program is working, is misleading and skewing the statistics, to say the least. We have older workers losing their jobs and not being able to apply at the EI offices until they run out of their severance package money, and at the same time, the part-time workers who are hired are taken off the rolls and become part of the statistics of the newly employed.


Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): Another dream was recently cemented in Sarnia with the grand opening of our new YMCA building. Our Honourable Lieutenant Governor was present at the culmination of this project that united our community in cooperation, and she officially opened the centre.

The $10-million centre has been a rallying point of goodwill. The province of Ontario provided about $2 million to boost the project and our community followed up with outstanding donations and support. The new centre is deservedly called the Jerry McCaw Family Centre, after a family who loves our community so much that they donated $1 million to support future generations of youth.

The YMCA of Sarnia-Lambton has been a leading social service agency, offering programs and services to people of all walks of life. It's a place where an individual can feel welcome regardless of race, religion or economic status. The proud history of the YMCA in Sarnia began in 1917 because of the community-minded people, and with the continued support of caring families and individuals, the YMCA will continue to serve our community well into 21st century.

The name Jerry McCaw was added to the centre because of his prominent role in our community. I know Mr and Mrs McCaw very well. In fact, they are my neighbours, and from personal experience I can tell you they're outstanding people. I also know many of the individuals on the YMCA's board of directors on a personal basis, as well as the executive director, Tony Pacheco. They deserve tremendous praise for the way they went about building this new centre -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you.




Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

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

Bill 166, An Act to protect Persons from Liability in respect of Voluntary Emergency Medical or First Aid Services.

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

Shall Bill 166 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.

Mr O'Toole: I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on general government and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table: Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 139, An Act to promote the conservation of fish and wildlife through the revision of the Game and Fish Act.

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

Shall Bill 139 be ordered for third reading? Agreed.



Mr Hodgson moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 174, An Act to provide choice and flexibility to Northern Residents in the establishment of service delivery mechanisms that recognize the unique circumstances of Northern Ontario and to allow increased efficiency and accountability in Area-wide service delivery / Projet de loi 174, Loi visant à offrir aux résidents du Nord plus de choix et de souplesse dans la mise en place de mécanismes de prestation des services qui tiennent compte de la situation unique du Nord de l'Ontario et à permettre l'accroissement de l'efficience et de la responsabilité en ce qui concerne la prestation des services à l'échelle régionale.

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


Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 175, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1998 / Projet de loi 175, Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 1998.

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


Mr Jim Brown moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 176, An Act to provide for the protection of the marine environment of Lake Ontario in the area of Metropolitan Toronto / Projet de loi 176, Loi visant à protéger l'environnement marin du lac Ontario dans la région de l'agglomération urbaine de Toronto.

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

Mr Jim Brown (Scarborough West): This bill prohibits persons from discharging contaminants, erecting structures or carrying on other activities that may cause an adverse effect in an area called the Metropolitan Toronto marine environment protection zone, except in limited cases if the person has obtained a certificate of approval from the director in the Environmental Protection Act.

The zone consists of the land covered by Lake Ontario up to a depth of 65 metres from the shoreline in most of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I move that standing order 86 respecting notice of committee hearings be suspended for consideration of Bills Pr94, Pr95 and Pr96 by the standing committee on regulations and private bills on Wednesday 17 December, 1997.

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



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I am pleased to provide the Legislature and the people of Ontario with a statement on the condition of the province's finances and a report on the Ontario economy.

Since June 1995, the government has followed its plan and kept its promises to the people of Ontario. The numbers prove that the plan is working for Ontarians. Real economic growth at 4.4% for 1997 proves it; 204,000 new private sector jobs in the last nine months show it; a 27% increase in housing starts so far this year supports it; and high consumer and business confidence numbers provide positive proof that our plan is working.

Ontario's second-quarter finances show that the government's balanced budget plan is on schedule. The deficit for the fiscal year 1997-98 will decline to $5.6 billion from the $6.6 billion projected in the 1997 budget.

Some argue that the province's recent economic and fiscal performance warrants a return to the old policies of "Tax and spend." While a great deal has been accomplished to date, there are five billion, six hundred million reasons why the job is not done and our commitment to fiscal responsibility must continue.

For many years governments mortgaged and remortgaged the future generations' prosperity and the future of Ontario's economy. The debt grew out of control. Debt more than doubled in the period 1990 to 1995 and tripled in the 10 years between 1985 and 1995.

Ontario now spends $9 billion a year just to pay the interest on the debt. To put this $9 billion a year in perspective, this amount is 35% more than the cost of funding all of Ontario's hospitals this year. That $9 billion in interest is equivalent to $2,000 from every person who pays personal income tax in the province of Ontario, or, to put it in another perspective, this would be the entire amount of Ontario income tax paid by a single person earning $31,640 in 1997. That's just to pay the interest on the debt.

Every dollar spent on interest payments is a dollar that could have gone to pay for priority services. It is a dollar that could have been used to invest in health care. It is a dollar that could have been used to invest in education. It is a dollar that could have been used to reduce taxes.

The government is making solid progress on our plan to bring the deficit to zero by the end of the 2000-01 fiscal year. To achieve this, the provincial economy will have to remain strong, and we must continue to improve the environment for jobs and investments in Ontario.

Tax cuts are playing a key role. In our first two budgets we have announced 30 tax reductions, including cuts to personal income taxes and cuts to payroll taxes. Tax cuts do create jobs.

The federal government should cut unemployment insurance premiums to $2.20 per $100 of insurable earnings and they should do it now. The federal government should also eliminate EI premiums for youth today to create much-needed and immediate job opportunities for our young people.


When the government assumed office almost two and a half years ago, we knew we had to put a stop to out-of-control spending. The government must continue to make difficult spending decisions that are required to balance the budget. The government is just over halfway to that goal. The province still spends $640,000 more each hour than it takes in in revenue. At the halfway mark, much remains to be done.

Individuals and families understand they cannot spend more money than they have. Taxpayers have accepted the fact that government too cannot spend money it does not have. All of the public sector must do its part. Taxpayers have told us that spending must be affordable. Spending must be flexible. Greater certainty of funding would support better expenditure planning and management. Those in the best position to decide where to spend must be given the authority to make those decisions, and they must be held accountable for the results of the decisions they make.

To align spending with the plan to balance the budget, the government is proposing to establish two-year funding allocations for health, schools and post-secondary education. The allocations will reflect both the amount necessary to support priority services and what Ontario taxpayers can afford. Once these allocations are set, the government will work with its partners in these sectors to meet the needs of their communities from within these allocations and their other resources.

No one denies the challenge that's involved. The allocations and the other sources of funding that sectors have available will provide a flexible, certain and accountable approach to meeting the challenge.

This government remains committed to the principles of pay equity. Ministries will continue to ensure that pay equity funds are being provided for eligible pay equity costs. Consistent with Justice O'Leary's ruling that government resources be distributed fairly and equitably among all groups, I am announcing that the government will provide $140 million this year for one-time retroactive payments to cover proxy pay equity costs. The government will ask employees and employers to agree upon the fairest distribution of the $500 million in annual support for pay equity that the province is committed to providing. This is the highest level in the province's history and higher than any other province in Canada. This funding level balances the importance of the program with what taxpayers can afford at this time.

The government recognizes that upfront investments are needed to change the way services are provided and to support the transition to smarter spending and serving better. Second-quarter Ontario finances provide an additional $900 million for restructuring and other charges beyond the $610 million already provided for in the 1997 budget.

We are making the necessary decisions to reform Ontario's health care system to better meet our health care needs. The goal is to ensure that Ontarians receive high-quality health services at each stage of their lives. In each year since we took office, the government has increased spending on health care. In 1995-96, we spent $17.6 billion on operational costs in the health care system; in 1996-97, operating spending was increased to $17.8 billion; this year the government will spend approximately $18 billion providing operating health services to the people of Ontario.

Today the government is announcing an operating envelope that will increase funding for operating health care services to $18.2 billion in 1998-99 and $18.3 billion in 1999-2000. I point out that this amount does not include expenditures on capital and restructuring. This funding envelope will allow for the necessary continued reinvestment in community-based health services. Finding this amount of funding will not be easy. In addition to cutting taxes to create jobs, we are looking to the federal government to respond to the needs of the people of Ontario by restoring the $2.1 billion in federal cuts to health care and post-secondary education in Ontario.

The government is also fully committed to students in Ontario receiving a quality education.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for St Catharines, Minister of Energy, come to order.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): It's not helping Metro at all.

The Speaker: Member for Yorkview, you're in the wrong seat, I think.

Hon Mr Eves: The government will ensure stable and secure funding for schools during the January to August 1998 transition to the new school year. School funding envelopes for the two years beginning September 1998 will be announced early in the new year.

In the 1997 Ontario budget the government invited teachers to join with us in providing a voluntary early retirement benefit for teachers. The government made a provision of $250 million in the 1996-97 fiscal year for the province's share of this $500-million initiative. The amount will be sufficient to provide, for example, eligibility for an unreduced pension for those with factor 86. The early retirement program would be paid for by the teachers' pension plan, the cost to be shared with teachers on an equal 50-50 basis.

Today I am repeating the government's offer. In our consultations many teachers have told us that they would welcome such an option. The offer has been on the table since May 6 of this year and remains there. I am hopeful that discussions will take place over the next three months so that a factor 86 retirement benefit, or perhaps even factor 85, can be made available by the end of the 1997-98 fiscal year.

The post-secondary education system must manage its resources carefully to ensure that Ontario maintains its outstanding system of post-secondary education and research. This government is committing to a two-year budget for post-secondary education, including student assistance, starting at $2.79 billion for 1998-99, up $30 million from this fiscal year, and growing to $2.84 billion in 1999-2000, up $80 million from this year.

No university or college will be required to raise tuition in either 1998-99 or 1999-2000. Boards of governors at universities and colleges may, where they deem it necessary to improve the quality of student programs, increase average tuition fees by up to 5% in 1998-99 and a further 5% in 1999-2000. If boards of governors decide to invest in additional educational program improvements, they may choose to approve an additional increase of up to 5% in each of these two years.


The Speaker: Opposition members, I want you to come to order, please. I'm having a great deal of difficulty hearing the minister and I want to let you know that -


The Speaker: Member for Yorkview, come to order, please. It's very difficult to hear the Minister of Finance. I want to hear what he's saying and I ask the opposition to come to order, please.

Hon Mr Eves: Individual institutions will also have discretion to set tuition fees for graduate and professional programs at universities, for post-diploma programs at colleges and for other college programs where job opportunities for graduates are virtually guaranteed and income after graduation is substantial.

The government is well aware of the rising debt loads facing students and the different earning capacity of students graduating from different programs. Colleges and universities that choose to increase their fees will be required to set aside a portion of their operational grants equal to 30% of any new revenues from tuition increases for the purpose of providing assistance to students in need. This is consistent with the recommendation of the Smith advisory panel on post-secondary education that institutions charging higher fees be required to devote 30% of the increase to student aid.

This action further builds on the success of the Ontario student opportunities trust fund program, which will assist approximately 180,000 qualified students over the next decade by creating permanent trust funds with assets of approximately $600 to date.


Finally, within this new tuition policy framework, the government will require institutions to increase fees to help address shortages in scientific and technical programs where demand from prospective students and employers greatly exceeds the places available. The Honourable Dave Johnson, Minister of Education and Training, will provide details on these measures.

In addition, as the first ministers have just agreed, we are committed to working with the federal government on guaranteed access to post-secondary education for all qualified students, income-contingent student loan programs, and a review of students' total debt levels.

The evidence is clear: The government's plan is working for Ontario. All indicators lead to this conclusion.

When Ontarians told the government to cut taxes, spend their money more wisely and let the private sector get on with creating jobs and investments, they were right. Ontario has once again become one of the best places in the world in which to live, work and invest. With the commitment and the measures outlined today, our government is confident that Ontario will continue to prosper, both economically and socially, into the next millennium.

While we all feel a sense of accomplishment, we must not forget that the job is not yet done. Ontario's debt continues to grow. The province must manage its finances carefully. Otherwise, we will leave young Ontarians with an overdue bill from a maxed-out credit card.

We are resolved to tackle this significant threat and look forward to an Ontario where all taxpayers' dollars can go to those things which are the hallmarks of this great province: social justice, first-class health care, quality education and support for those truly in need. The people of Ontario, the children of Ontario, deserve no less.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): I want to respond to the minister's economic statement on behalf of my party, the Ontario Liberal Party.

The first thing I would remind the Deputy Premier and all members of the government is that an economic statement is more than just a financial statement; it's a statement of values. It's quite apparent from this statement that this government places a tremendous amount of value on the tax cut, a tax cut that is going to cost this province $5.5 billion when fully implemented and that over the lifetime of this government will cost some $15 billion, every penny of which will be borrowed.

What this government is saying is that it values a tax cut ahead of quality health care for our sick. This government is saying they value the tax cut ahead of -


The Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, come to order. I don't want to hear you say that again. If you do, I will name you.

Mr McGuinty: What this government is saying is that it values a tax cut ahead of a quality education for our children in primary school and high school. What this government is saying is that they value a tax cut ahead of good child protection programs in Ontario. What this government is saying is that they value a tax cut ahead of decent post-secondary programs for our students who are looking for ways to embrace the 21st century and a knowledge-based global economy. What this government is saying is that they value a tax cut ahead of a program that could be designed to attack youth unemployment in Ontario.

The minister stands there and boasts that he's got his fiscal house in order. I think it's important for us to understand just how he did this.

First of all, he did it by stealing $590 million, or adding $590 million in new costs to our municipalities. He then starved our hospitals of $800 million. He has cut, to date, $500 million from education in Ontario, and we understand from a leaked document that he will in the future be taking another $700 million away from education.

He has been cutting services like junior kindergarten, adult education and special education. That's how we've come to be in the financial position we are in today. He has also been taxing our seniors with new drug user fees and he's on the path now to destroying some of the things that have made this province a great province, like our natural environment and our social programs.

What this government doesn't understand is that according to our history, and Bill Davis understood this only too well, government has a continuing positive role to play in lending shape to the forces that act on all of us.

Let's just for a moment - because we all understand now how important education is to our future - understand what this government is doing to post-secondary education. First of all, our students now have on average a debt load of $25,000. They've had to contend with a 30% tuition fee increase authorized by this government. What are they doing now in this statement today? First of all, they enable our universities in Ontario to raise tuition fees between now and the year 2000 by a further 20%. That's the kind of assistance, that's the kind of help they're going to lend to our students who right now are under a tremendous debt load. They're going to allow universities to increase tuition fees by another 20%.

Furthermore, if my understanding of this statement is correct, this government is going to give an unfettered discretion to our universities to raise tuition fees for graduate level programs in an unlimited way. There will be no limit whatsoever on that.

We understand that if we're going to make it we've got to make sure we continue to invest in our people. I ask this government to consider just for a moment: What is of greater value to Ontarians and our future, investing in a tax cut or investing in people by means of quality education, investing in a tax cut or looking after our sick by making sure we have an adequate number of nurses on our hospital floors and an adequate number of hospitals in Ontario to meet their needs?

I ask them to consider once more and reflect upon this when it comes to our values, because I think I speak for the values of Ontarians when I say, as well, what is more important, a tax cut or making sure we have the kinds of social programs that are in place so that if one of us just happens to slip and fall along the way, there will be the necessary assistance in place to get us up and on our feet and moving again? That's been our history in this province. That's what we've always been all about, until this point in time.

I want to make it clear that their values are not my values, and I think I speak for the values of Ontarians when we say that we cannot afford a tax cut right now and we'd rather invest in health care, education and social programs so we can be both fiscally responsible and caring and compassionate.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): There is a tremendous rhetoric in this statement from the Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, and I think we owe it to the people of Ontario to unfold some of this rhetoric. First of all, what the government has done, and they started this three years ago, is it has overestimated the deficit. Each year they overestimate the deficit by about $300 million or $400 million; then each year they underestimate their tax revenue; and at the end of the year they fold in the overestimation of the deficit and the underestimation of revenue and say, "My, what a good job we've done." Except this year they've gone one better: They've had a $600-million reserve fund. They've slid that in there too, to say, "My, what a good job we've done."

If you check the fine print, there is no more reserve fund. This is the shell game: Overestimate the deficit, underestimate the revenue, then slide in the reserve fund and hope no one is noticing. That's the reality of what's happening here.

The reality goes beyond that. At the bottom of it, this is a government that says -


The Speaker: Hold on. Member for Ottawa-Rideau, member for Oxford, would you please come to order. I want to hear the third party's comments and it's very difficult when you're heckling.

Mr Hampton: It goes further than that. This is a government that boasts that it can afford a $5-billion tax gift which will go overwhelmingly to the wealthiest people in this province. It boasts about that.

Then it comes in here and tries to tell people that it's doing wonderful things for health care. Let's examine what they're doing for health care. If you look at the number for health care, the number the minister just referred to, health care funding does not keep pace with inflation, it does not keep pace with the growth in population of the province and it does not keep pace with an aging population.

What is in fact happening is that health care for citizens across this province is being cut. But that's by design, because what the government wants to do is privatize more and more of the health care system. We are seeing it right now in terms of long-term care. People who need long-term-care services are being told in community after community, "You have to pay for it yourself, out of your own pocket." We're seeing home care turned over to for-profit corporations. We are seeing more and more of those services that are supposed to be provided by community care access centres - they can't provide it because they don't have the budget, so people have to go out and purchase health care out of their own pocket. It's the privatization of health care. The government can afford a $5-billion tax gift to the wealthiest people in the province but it can't afford health care for the people in this province who need it most.

Then the Minister of Finance boasts that he's going to give two-year funding to hospitals, to universities and to schools. I've searched for the number for hospitals and it's not here. Then I searched for the number for universities and it's not here either. There's some language we need to look at, but the number isn't there. Finally, the best they can say about funding for schools is that some time next year they'll announce the funding formula. My God, they've been saying that now for four months.

What is happening here is what the mayor of Toronto, Mel Lastman, referred to. He said: "Why should I trust them? Now I know how the teachers, the doctors, the hospital workers, the government unions, the nurses, the police officers, the universities, the students, the firefighters and every other group from across the province feels." They haven't seen you come up with the numbers before. Why should they trust you now? Why should Mel Lastman and the people of Toronto trust you? Why should schools trust you? They know a cut is coming. Why should municipalities ever trust you again? Why should universities ever trust you?

On that subject, what we find here is essentially the deregulation of tuition fees: a 5% increase in tuition next year - this coming year - 5% after that and the deregulation of tuition fees. The debt of students has gone from $7,000 per student 10 years ago to $25,000 per student today, and under this government's deregulation of tuition it was headed for $60,000 per student.

What does it amount to? A tax gift for the wealthy, and everybody else in this province is paying: municipalities, health care, schools, students.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): There is a deferred vote on notice of motion number 55. This will be a 5-minute bell. Call in the members.

The division bells rang from 1425 to 1430.

The Speaker: House calendar motion number 55 moved by Mr Turnbull: All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Jim

Brown, Michael A.

Caplan, David

Carr, Gary

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Cleary, John C.

Clement, Tony

Colle, Mike

Cordiano, Joseph

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Cunningham, Dianne

Curling, Alvin

Danford, Harry

Duncan, Dwight

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Eves, Ernie L.

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gerretsen, John

Gilchrist, Steve

Gravelle, Michael

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hoy, Pat

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Kells, Morley

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Maves, Bart

McGuinty, Dalton

McLean, Allan K.

McLeod, Lyn

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Palladini, Al

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Phillips, Gerry

Preston, Peter

Ramsay, David

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Ruprecht, Tony

Saunderson, William

Sergio, Mario

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

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


Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Hampton, Howard

Kormos, Peter

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martin, Tony

North, Peter

Pouliot, Gilles

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 94; the nays are 13.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. You will know that for the past year we have been engaged in a massive exercise you call downloading. You're going to be handing down some responsibilities to our municipalities. The concern from the outset has been that this would not be revenue-neutral and that this was going to be a cash grab in order to finance your tax cut. But throughout we've received your assurances that this would be revenue-neutral, that there was no need to worry whatsoever. My question quite simply is this: Why have you betrayed Ontario property taxpayers? Why are you going to stick them with a $590-million property tax hike?

Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): In response to the Leader of the Opposition, I can tell him that the Who Does What trades are revenue-neutral. We've always said that and they are.

What municipalities asked us to do was to include the effect of the removal of the municipal support grant, which they were advised several years ago would be gone. In August 1995, at the AMO speech, I advised the municipalities that we were reducing the municipal support grant and it would be eventually eliminated. That's the effect of the cost on the municipalities. The Who Does What trades are revenue-neutral province-wide.

Mr McGuinty: You promised that it was going to be revenue-neutral. You yourself said it was going to be a wash, and everybody took you at your word. They said: "All right. Surely we can rely on the Minister of Municipal Affairs, surely we can rely on the Premier of Ontario to tell us the truth when they tell us that this is going to be revenue-neutral."

I'm going to ask you once again: Why did you change your mind? Why is it that property taxpayers throughout the province are now being stuck with $590 million in additional costs?

Hon Mr Leach: I can say that would go under the category of another promise kept, because we said it would be revenue-neutral and it is revenue-neutral.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): No shit.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Oakwood, I ask you to withdraw that comment.

Mr Colle: I withdraw.

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: The effect on the municipalities is as a result of a request of the municipalities to include the effect of the municipal support grant in the calculations. They asked that so they could have a clear picture of what the bottom line would be, so we did that, and again to repeat, the province-wide effect as a result of the Who Does What swaps is revenue-neutral.

Mr McGuinty: I'm going to encourage the minister to leave this building in the very near future and go to talk to people outside. They don't for one instant believe that this is a revenue-neutral exercise, and what really bothers them is that you promised that it was going to be revenue-neutral. You said it was going to be a wash, and they relied on that. That's why they participated in this exercise. They feared that what this was really all about was a cash grab to pay for your tax cut, but now we find out that it's exactly what we predicted it would be: It's an additional $600 million on property taxes throughout the province.

I want to ask you once again, because this question is not going to leave you from now until the time of the next election: Why is it that you have changed your mind and you have now decided to saddle property taxpayers in Ontario with an additional $590 million in new costs?

Hon Mr Leach: In response to the member of the opposition, I guess I really do have to come forward and say that it's not revenue-neutral; it's actually $60 million in favour of the municipalities.


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: Just so the members of the opposition are well aware, I'll have a copy of this distributed to each one of them so they'll have some idea of what they're talking about.


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

Mr McGuinty: I guess that settles it. We'll just get those numbers and we can all go home.

I'm back to the same minister, and I've got his numbers. These are numbers from your ministry. I can say one thing with absolute confidence. These numbers don't lie; others may, but these numbers don't.

Let me tell you what they say: For the city of Hamilton $6.8 million in new costs; Kingston, $4.8 million in new costs; Windsor, $9.8 million in new costs; Sault Ste Marie $2.02 million; Toronto $163 million; Thunder Bay $7.1 million, and on and on and on.

The Premier pinkie-swore that there would be no new costs. He pinkie-swore and then he gave us the finger. I'm going to ask you again, Minister, why did you break your promise?

Hon Mr Leach: I'll refer this question to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The leader of the official opposition will be more than aware that when this government assumed office, the province was spending $1.16 million an hour more than it was taking in in revenue. We had a deficit of $11 billion. We understood, the people of Ontario understood and I believe Ontario municipalities understood that we all collectively had a serious problem.

We have done something about the serious problem. We asked the municipal partners to share with us part of the cost reduction. The Minister of Municipal Affairs told municipalities that two years ago. Terry Mundell, AMO president, said on May 1 of this year, "The reality of the situation is - "


The Speaker: Member for Hamilton East, please come to order. Ottawa Centre also. Member for Halton Centre, will you come to order too, please? I don't want to have to throw you out.

Hon Mr Eves: "The reality of the situation is that the province told us about a year ago that the $667 million in municipal support grant money was being eliminated. That is the difference in the tradeoff." That is exactly the way the circumstances are. I couldn't have said it better myself. We have always said that up front.

The reality is that with respect to the Who Does What exercise, irrespective of the municipal support grant over here, which Mr Mundell, the treasurer of AMO, admits is the difference in the tradeoff, it is revenue-neutral. In fact, it's $160 million to the betterment of municipalities, in Who Does What alone. As a result of the Who Does What exercise, the areas of joint or shared services have now been reduced from 12 to three in the province of Ontario.

Mr McGuinty: No matter how this minister slices it or dices it or cuts it, the fact of the matter is, this government left a very clear impression with the people of this province that this exercise would be revenue-neutral. Clearly it is not.

If you don't believe me, then listen to what some of your friends are saying. Here's what Markham Mayor Don Cousens, the esteemed former Conservative member in this Legislature, said: "There's a crime going on here. If you did this in the private sector, you'd be jailed for thievery." Some of what Toronto mayor-elect Mel Lastman said of course I cannot repeat in this Legislature because that kind of brutal honesty is not permitted in here, so I'll just say what I can say. He said: "You screwed Toronto, Mr Premier. You're cutting the heart out of the city."

That's what your friends are saying. That's what the people of the province are saying. I am going to ask you, Deputy Premier, why are you breaking your promise? Why are you increasing property taxes in Ontario?

Hon Mr Eves: We are not increasing property taxes in the province of Ontario.


The Speaker: Order. You must withdraw that, member for Lake Nipigon.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I believe in what Mr Lastman said, but I will withdraw.

The Speaker: No, no. I just want to hear a withdrawal.

Mr Pouliot: Withdraw, Speaker.

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: The leader of the official opposition is reading selectively from different quotes. We could do the same thing. We could spend the rest of the day doing that if you prefer to do that.


Hon Mr Eves: "Find some," I heard the member sitting behind him say.

We're "in good shape," says the Peel treasurer.

"`This doesn't put us in too bad of a position.... We've always been concerned about whether it would be revenue-neutral, and it looks like it...is.'" That's the region of York chair.

The city manager for the city of Owen Sound: "The province obviously has been listening. It's a big move in the right direction."

We could have done what his federal cousins in Ottawa did. We could have downloaded on provinces 37.7% and cut our own spending by 3.5%, like his country cousins in Ottawa did. What we did instead was we cut our own expenditures by 30% and we're asking municipalities to find a cost savings of 1.7%, 3.2% or 4.2%, depending on the size of the municipality. We could have cut 5% to 6% of their spending like the province of Quebec did, but we did not do that. We have been up front, totally honest -

The Speaker: Thank you. Final supplementary.

Mr McGuinty: You're going to have a hard time with this one from here until the election. You can say it until you're blue in the face but nobody is going to buy it. The fact of the matter is, you told us that you wouldn't increase property taxes, and that's exactly what you're about to do: increase them by $590 million.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. This is one broken promise in a litany of broken promises. This is the government that said they wouldn't close any hospitals; they're about to close more than 30. This is the government that said they wouldn't take any money out of our classrooms, and they broke that promise; they're going to take out about $1.2 billion when all is said and done. They said that they would not introduce any user fees and surely they would never, ever attack our seniors. We've got $225 million in new drug user fees for our seniors. Then there was the mother of all promises: The Premier himself would resign if he broke any promise along the way.

Given that history that you have so carefully cultivated along the way, how can you expect us to believe you today when you say that this is a revenue-neutral exercise and that you're not about to increase property taxes?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the official opposition, first of all, the Who Does What exercise is revenue-neutral, period. Second of all, if he's talking about the elimination of the municipal support grants, that announcement was made two years ago. He's had two years to bring himself up to speed on that. This is coming out of the mouth of a member of David Peterson's cabinet, which hiked taxes 33 times, which introduced the commercial concentration tax to penalize the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, which increased an employer health tax to literally lay off thousands of employees across the province of Ontario. I know you find it difficult, coming from that background, to believe that a provincial government would not -


The Speaker: Order. Member for Hamilton East, I'm not warning you again. I'm going to name you next time. I ask the members to come to order. I can't hear the minister. It's very unruly. Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: I've completed my remarks, Mr Speaker.

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

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. We need to get to the bottom of these numbers. Last August, your Premier went to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and said he would guarantee that the downloading exercise would be revenue-neutral. In fact he said, in reference to his young son, that he would pinkie-swear that it would be revenue-neutral.

Minister, municipalities woke up on Friday morning to discover that they're $590 million in the hole thanks to your government, that you've taken away $590 million from them. Can you tell us now why the Premier broke his promise that he would not be downloading on municipalities, that he would not be cutting them?


Hon Mr Leach: I can tell you the Premier of this province made that commitment and he has kept that commitment. That's another promise kept. The Who Does What exercise is revenue-neutral. We continue to show that it's revenue-neutral. The $590 million that the member of the third party refers to is the elimination of the municipal support grant. As a matter of fact, as was pointed out just a few moments ago by the Treasurer, the municipalities actually end up $160 million to the good when you've considered both sides of the equation. The Premier committed to AMO last August that this would be revenue-neutral from a Who Does What standpoint, and he has kept that promise.

Mr Hampton: People across this province are not stupid, despite what this government may think.


The Speaker: Order. Minister, I ask you to withdraw. That's unparliamentary.

Hon Mr Leach: I withdraw.

Mr Hampton: Toronto knows it is out -


The Speaker: Did you say that, member for Brantford? I want to hear that withdrawn too.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I withdraw.

Mr Hampton: Toronto knows it's out $163 million; London knows it's out $13.9 million; Waterloo knows it's out $9.6 million; Mississauga knows it's out $7.5 million; Hamilton, $6.8 million; Sault Ste Marie, $2 million. They know these figures. Furthermore, the leadership in these communities know that they're out money. Do I have to repeat the headline in the Toronto Star, "Lastman Labels Harris `A Liar'"? That's what it says.

The Speaker: No, you can't infer what you can't do directly. You can't do that, I say to the member.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, I will not refer to the Toronto Star headline. I drop any reference to the Toronto Star headline.

Then there's the Globe and Mail headline; it says the same thing.

Minister, everybody around this province knows that you have put the screws to municipalities to the tune of $590 million a year and that amount is going to grow in the out years. Why did you break your promise? Why did you take that amount of money from municipalities and force them to either cut services or raise property taxes? Why did you do it?

Hon Mr Leach: I'll repeat again for the member of the third party, who obviously fails to understand what's happening: We told the municipalities at the AMO conference, both in 1995 and 1996 - I told them up in Thunder Bay in the spring of 1996 - that the municipal support grant would be eliminated. That municipal support grant is $667 million remaining this year and it will be gone. That's the difference. The Who Does What trades across the province are revenue-neutral. That's a promise that was made, a commitment that was made by the Premier of this province and it was a commitment that was kept.

The Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Dovercourt.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Minister, you seem to now be conveniently forgetting what you told us so many times, and your Premier told us before, which is that there is only one taxpayer. Whether it's the category of the $590 million or the rest of the download, it's the same property taxpayer who is going to get hit. In the city of Toronto, you know that hit comes to the tune of $163 million, to the point that even members of your own handpicked transition team - Paul Sutherland in this case - said you've thrown their whole budget process into chaos.

Minister, which is it? Is Paul Sutherland right or has he somehow missed this whole boat, just like you have, in terms of saying that this is now going to be revenue-neutral? He's saying $163 million in the hole is what it's going to mean for Toronto. Is he right or are you right in this?

Hon Mr Leach: I have met with Mr Sutherland and I think he fully understands what's happening here. I also discussed this morning with the incoming budget chairman to tell him that, as a result of the amalgamation, we know the city of Toronto is going to have some unique financing situations to deal with in 1998, because the millions of dollars in savings that will accumulate as a result of amalgamation obviously can't be found in the first year but will be found in the second and third years.

As a result, we have offered to the city of Toronto to bridge-finance that shortfall in 1998 and have it repaid to the other taxpayers in Ontario when the hundreds of millions of dollars of savings are found in 1999 and the year 2000. Nothing could be fairer than that. We know that Toronto is the economic engine of Ontario. We want it to work. The policies that we put in will ensure that it will work.

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

Mr Hampton: To the Minister of Municipal Affairs again: There's an interesting report from the mayor of Pickering, Mr Wayne Arthurs, who says that he is very concerned about how much his community is losing. He says that what he is going to do is withhold the amount of money that has been downloaded from any money they send to you. In other words, any money you ask for from that municipality in the way of education taxes or property taxes, he's going to withhold whatever amount of money you've downloaded. Can you tell us what you're going to do if Mr Arthurs in Pickering and other communities decide to withhold the amount of money you have downloaded? Can you tell us what you're going to do?

Hon Mr Leach: I would suggest that the mayor of that particular community might want to think twice about doing that because it would be against the law. I think all of our duly elected municipal representatives are quite responsible and I don't think they would take actions that would have them breaking the laws of Ontario. I'm quite confident that when they have an opportunity to sit back and look -


The Speaker: That's out of order.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): It wasn't when you were here. You did it.

The Speaker: It was out of order then too.

Hon Mr Leach: Again, I'm quite confident that when our municipal leaders have an opportunity to sit back, review the numbers in detail and see that the Who Does What program is revenue-neutral and the effect of the other changes is a result of the elimination of the municipal support grant that we told them two years ago was going to happen, they will be more than pleased to work cooperatively with us in the province.


Mr Hampton: This gets more interesting. It's okay for your government to take $590 million out of the pockets of Ontario municipalities, it's okay for you to take $163 million out of Toronto, it's okay for you to take $4.8 million out of Chatham-Kent, it's okay for you to take over $1 million out of my home community, a small town like Fort Frances, but if they try to settle up with you, if they say, "No, we're not going to send these property taxes to you," then that's against the law.

Minister, if this is truly revenue-neutral, how is it that those municipalities feel so pressed that they have to consider withholding revenue from you? How can that happen if this is revenue-neutral?

Hon Mr Leach: Other than repeat what has been said many times already this afternoon, that the Who Does What trades are revenue-neutral - it's the loss of the municipal support grant that the member of the third party is referring to. We advised municipalities several years ago that that support grant would disappear over the next two or three years. This is the final year for that support grant. It will not exist in 1998. That's what the member is referring to.

As far as the Who Does What trades are concerned, they are revenue-neutral. The Premier committed it would be revenue-neutral. I committed it would be revenue-neutral. It is revenue-neutral right across the province.

Mr Hampton: I don't think we've ever had a situation this unbelievable in this Legislature. Municipalities have just had their pockets picked to the tune of $590 million a year and the government stands up and says, "It's revenue-neutral." It would be funny if it were not so pathetic. It would be funny except for the fact that municipalities are now going to be put in the position where they have to choose: Do they cut policing or do they cut firefighting? Do they cut ambulance services or do they cut public health? Do they pick on kids and cut child care? Those are the kinds of ugly choices your government is establishing by this cynical move. You've taken $590 million out of the pockets of municipalities. You're going to put them in that position, where they have to make those choices or they have to raise property taxes.

Minister, what would you suggest? Should they cut policing or should they cut firefighting? Should they cut ambulance services or should they cut public health? Should they cut child care? Should they raise property taxes? Which is it, Minister?


The Speaker: Order. Chief government whip, Minister of Community and Social Services, I'm not going to warn you again.


The Speaker: Well, chief government whip, maybe I'm being a little reactionary. Okay, but Minister of Community and Social Services, I'm not going to warn you again.

Hon Mr Leach: To the leader of the third party: There are some tough choices that have to be made. This province has had to make tough choices and the municipalities are going to have to make tough choices, but none of it would be necessary if we had had any kind of responsible government in the past five years.


The Speaker: Order, Scarborough, Lambton, Ottawa-Rideau.

Hon Mr Leach: I think it's absolutely amazing that the leader of the third party, a party that left this province with an $11-billion deficit, with $9 billion in interest payments, would have the audacity to ask why these tough decisions have to be made. It is amazing. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Mr Hampton: What about the $5-billion tax gift, Al? Are your friends in Rosedale happy about that?

The Speaker: I'm not going to warn the leader of the third party again. Come to order.

Hon Mr Leach: This party over here should be ashamed of themselves. They're the party that put this province almost in ruin instead of making some very difficult decisions to get it back on track. We are getting it back on track, and they are tough decisions that have to be made, both by ourselves and by the municipalities.

The Speaker: New question, the member for Kingston and the Islands.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Nobody believes you that the downloading is neutral. Let me just remind you of something Mr Harris said when he met with the big-city mayors in August of this year. He said: "There's no hidden agenda here. We're not trying to squeeze another nickel off the property taxpayer."

It's very interesting. You released these documents under the darkness of night last Thursday night; yes, it shows there is absolutely no change as far as all the downloading is concerned until you start examining the document. Let me remind you, Minister, it takes into account the loss of municipal support grants. You then have added, on top of that, savings to each municipality, which collectively add up to the $565 million we're talking about.

Will you now agree with me that there was a hidden agenda, that what you've been saying all along, that it would be revenue-neutral - that in fact it wasn't revenue-neutral, that you always expected municipalities to come up with another 3% or 4% in savings, which just happens to be the $565 million -

The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: I'll refer the question to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Mr Eves: We have said up front, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs himself said in 1995, that the municipal support grant would be eliminated, would be phased out over the next three years. Everybody understood that; everybody knew that. The treasurer of AMO knows that; he's on record as saying that.

The Who Does What exercise itself is indeed revenue-neutral; in fact municipalities have a $160-million benefit out of the Who Does What exercise. But to be quite frank, in outlining costs - all costs, not just the Who Does What exercise, the municipal support grant as well - when we put that on a sheet of paper, obviously to replace the municipal support grant itself, nothing to do with the Who Does What exercise, municipalities depending on their size and their taxability will have to find savings of 1.7%, 3.2% or 4.2%. If they do that one time, not like 5% or 6% that Quebec is asking them to do, not like 37.7% that your federal cousins in Ottawa are asking provinces to do -

The Speaker: Supplementary, member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Gerretsen: Minister, it's not a one-time cut. This is permanently built into the budgets of the municipalities. There are two figures that you're referring to in these statements. One is the loss of municipal support grant and the other is what you call savings, which in effect are further cuts that the municipalities have to make. But not only are you not honest with the people of Ontario in the savings that you make -


The Speaker: Withdraw.

Mr Gerretsen: I withdraw, Mr Speaker.


The Speaker: Stop the clock.

Member for Kingston and The Islands.


Mr Gerretsen: You're also incompetent. You've already heard from my friend from Essex-Kent that Pelee Island, an island of 200 individuals, has been allocated $2.2 million in education tax. The Frontenac Islands community, which pays a total of $700,000 in taxes, has been allocated $3.7 million in education taxes. The parliamentary assistant for Municipal Affairs and Housing agreed with me on Thursday night that these figures are wrong.

When are you going to get it right? You've had it wrong three times now. When are you going to give the municipalities the real cost of all this downloading that you're doing?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, there is no downloading to municipalities through this exercise. Municipalities were told in 1995 that municipal support grants would be eliminated. They have accommodated that very well in the first two years and this will be the third year of that exercise. With your background in municipal politics, you know very well what the size of that fund was two years ago.

Mr Mundell, the treasurer of AMO, is on record as saying that he was more than aware on May 2 of this year that that was being eliminated. So was every other municipality. All municipalities in the province of Ontario were aware the municipal support grant was going to end. The Who Does What exercise is indeed revenue-neutral. He talks about various sets of figures. Figures have been given to municipalities as assessment data are upgraded as the province is being reassessed. It is currently now almost 100% reassessed and the information -

The Speaker: Thank you. New question. Third party, the member for Riverdale.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have a question for the Deputy Premier. "Preventing violence against women is everybody's responsibility." I hope the Deputy Premier is familiar with this statement because it is a direct quote from a publication of your government, entitled Prevention of Violence Against Women.

This statement was quoted back to you by the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario in a letter to the Premier dated December 10. The Provincial Council of Women of Ontario is outraged at the behaviour of your government members who chose the occasion of my seeking unanimous consent to recognize Wife Assault Prevention Month to laugh and heckle. Some of the council members were in your galleries in fact that day and heard some of the heckling.

Deputy Premier, I ask you: What are you and your Premier going to do to bring the members of your government up to speed on the reality of spousal abuse?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Mr Speaker, I was not present in the chamber the day the member is speaking of. If the facts as she described them are accurate, I too would be concerned about the reaction of certain members of the Legislative Assembly, regardless of what side of the House they sat on, in a matter as serious as that.

She will know that in our most recent budget, in May of this year, I allotted millions of dollars more to the minister responsible for women's issues for initiatives just such as the one she speaks of.

Ms Churley: I thank the Deputy Premier for that answer, although I have to remind him that overall your government has cut across the board to all of the agencies that are dealing with spousal abuse and violence against women, but that's not what this question is about.

I am pleased to hear that you take my comments seriously, but you know, I was aware that day of some inappropriate comments as well and I think now we have to take this very seriously. Listen to what the council wrote to the Premier. It is a quote:

"Wife assault is nothing to be laughed at. The action of your government, while demeaning and hurtful to all women in Ontario, was destructive and demoralizing to all Ontario women who have been victims of and/or are currently suffering at the hands of a male partner. The battle against wife/partner assault is not being won."

Deputy Premier, there is much still to be done about putting an end to violence against women. I would say it starts with attitude and treating women with respect and it should start with government members from your own caucus. I am wondering if you would commit today to having some kind of education program for certain members within your government caucus to teach them about the seriousness of this issue.

Hon Mr Eves: I can tell the honourable member that members on this side of the House do indeed take the issue of which she speaks quite seriously. The Attorney General of the province of Ontario about two weeks ago announced the opening of two courts to deal with domestic violence. I'm sure she's aware of those initiatives. The Solicitor General of the province of Ontario has three different programs that he is instituting, including a program with respect to male batterers. There's also another program reviewing sexual assault that he is dealing with.

As I said, my colleague the minister responsible for women's issues was given millions of dollars in the last budget, and we'll look at these things on an ongoing basis as this year's budgetary process is about to start next month, look at upgrading them.

I can tell the honourable member quite sincerely, I was the Minister of Community and Social Services in this province when the very first transition homes for battered women were put in place. I initiated and agreed to the first eight pilot projects in the province. I certainly understand the seriousness of this issue and I can assure you that every member of this government does as well.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): My question is directed to the Minister of Education and Training. For some time now, Ottawa and Ontario have been negotiating an agreement on training and development for skills in our future economy, and I would like to know if you could bring to the attention of this House the status of those negotiations and Ontario's objectives in dealing with this whole situation.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): The member is correct that there have been discussions with the federal government around the job training responsibilities vis-à-vis the federal responsibilities and the provincial responsibilities. In terms of my objectives and the government's objectives, we want the end result to address the skill shortages that are present today. We want the services, as a result of these discussions, to be better, to be less confusing, for the accessibility to be better for the unemployed, and we want to reduce the overlap and duplication between the federal and provincial programs.

A concern to me and I'm sure to all members of this House is that Ontario has about 39% of the labour force and about 36% of the unemployment, but apparently we are being offered only 30% of the employment insurance funding. What I want to see is a fairness for Ontario, a fairness for the unemployed in Ontario, to ensure they have the same accessibility as people in other provinces.

Mr Hastings: Given that the negotiations to some extent seem to be protracted and that fairness is a major objective we want to achieve, what kind of time frame do you give these negotiations in hoping to have a positive conclusion arrived at?

Hon David Johnson: I will assure the member that the previous Minister of Education, back in September, sent a letter to the federal minister to move the proceedings along. I personally have discussed this matter fairly recently with Minister Pettigrew. My staff is attempting to set up a meeting at the earliest opportunity with Minister Pettigrew. I have two objectives for that meeting. One is to speed up the process, and the other, again, is to ensure that the unemployed in Ontario, the people of Ontario, have access to the same funding as the unemployed in other provinces and that the access is improved for the unemployed in Ontario.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. It has to do with property taxes on businesses as a result of the announcement on Friday. As part of the quite chaotic Friday announcement on downloading, we understand that the province has made a decision on how it plans to put education costs on business property taxes in 1998. We understand that the province intends to not have a province-wide tax rate on business, but rather, will say to municipalities, "We want the same money from your businesses in 1998 as was raised in 1997."

My question is this: Can you explain to our business community the rationale for why residential rates are the same across the province regardless of where you live, but business rates will change depending on where your business is?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I can tell you that no final decision on this has been made. There are several options the government is still considering. But I think in his question he points out some of the inequities in the current tax system; the inequities and the unfairness of commercial taxes, for example, in the city of Toronto versus outlying areas in the GTA area. That is why we have taken several measures, including allowing municipalities the latitude to have up to three different rates, for example, for commercial property.

I'm not going to stand here and say that's going to totally solve the problem because he and I both know it is not. But we want to move towards tax fairness and tax equity with respect to commercial properties in a more fair and equitable manner, but at the same time when we're making this decision - and it hasn't been made yet in its final form I impress upon him - we have to appreciate what impact on particular municipalities it's going to have. Hence, we talked about establishing ranges of fairness that municipalities couldn't deviate from.

Mr Phillips: This is part of the chaos, Minister, with all due respect. You last week announced a total reshuffling of municipalities; the new city of Toronto, $163 million. Surely you're not telling us that there's a plan for another reshuffle in a few days. Surely any sensible businessperson would have announced the total business plan. This is chaotic for the business community. I think you've given yourself only one choice. You have no other choice. If you don't think you've made the decision, I tell you you have made the decision because you have essentially built the box around which this will work.

My question is still the same. The Metro Board of Trade said any geographic variation in tax rates should be considered an intolerable offence to the principle of fairness. You've now boxed yourself in to having that. Can you explain to the business owners once and for all in Ontario why it is that you are planning to have a different educational tax rate depending on where your business is in Ontario?

Hon Mr Eves: We have not said that.

Mr Phillips: You have.

Hon Mr Eves: I have not said that. The member for Scarborough-Agincourt is indicating what he presumes the government will decide. I told you just a few moments ago, in response to your initial question, that we are going to be moving towards some degree of fairness and equity and we are going to be doing as many things as we can with respect to the commercial property and industrial property base in the province. However, we have not said that we are going to have different rates in every single municipality. I suggest to the honourable member that he wait until the decision is made.

I might remind him that his government sat there, did absolutely nothing with this entire issue about reassessment, although they knew - I know that his Treasurer, Mr Robert Nixon, indicated on several occasions that was the direction he'd like to go in. There might have been some very difficult decisions around the cabinet table. I can certainly relate to that surrounding this issue, but we are going to -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. New question.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: For a year now, I and my caucus have been asking your government to listen to local communities. Today, the members of the Ontario Coalition Against Gambling Expansion are here, Minister, asking you and your government to listen to local community opposition against expanding casinos. They're very concerned because despite the fact that communities across this province voted against casinos, you seem to be intent on steamrolling ahead. Despite the fact that you have virtually no protections against the infiltration of organized crime, you seem to be steamrolling ahead. Despite the fact that your own policy before the election was to hold a referendum before there was any expansion of casinos, you want to steamroll ahead. Minister, I'm going to ask you on behalf of the Ontario coalition -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question.

Mr Hampton: - will you stop this steamroller until the municipal councils have had a chance to look at the issue, stop until the new municipal councils have had a chance -

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): The member for St Catharines has been a lot more tenacious on this issue because we've been discussing this over the last week almost every day and I guess I could refer to any one of December 8, 9 or 10 etc to answer the question, but I'll treat it anew and afresh.

We've clearly said we wouldn't force any community to take any charity gaming clubs. That's very clear. Second, and we've said this all along and we've been very consistent, we said: "Look, they're not our referenda, they weren't our plebiscites. They were ordered by the municipal councils. Surely to goodness, the municipal councils are the ones we are going to be communicating with."

The member referred to organized crime. He will probably remember there was a report from the police with respect to the shortcomings in the gaming area. The report actually was dealing with the period before 1995; his government was in power at that time. They dealt with a number of issues including the bingos and the break-open tickets, and they said the worst was the roving casinos.

Under the new system there will be some accountabilities for a change. We'll have more than six police officers officiating over 4,500 events and 15,000 days.

The Speaker: Supplementary, the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): The Coopers and Lybrand you had carried out said very clearly that the smaller mini-casinos are not like the big commercial ones and that they present particular challenges, but you haven't put any safeguards in place. The coalition that's here today, people from London, Barrie, Hamilton, Belleville, Kingston, Gananoque, Toronto all state that your gambling strategy is a wolf in sheep's clothing. We need to know more about the exposure to crime, about problem gambling and about the impact of these mini-casinos on local economies. Will you at least conduct an impact study and do it before you proceed so we know what the social and economic repercussions are before you do it so that communities know what they're dealing with?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I think I should remind the member for Sault Ste Marie about the situation when their government introduced commercial casinos into the province. The then minister in charge of it, Frances Lankin, indicated a number of things. First of all, she indicated that the casinos would be an economic catalyst and said it was very positive. She said, "It is understandable that a number of communities in Ontario have expressed an interest in hosting a casino."

Then she went on, and this is a statement to the Legislature on November 3, 1994:

"Prior to the casino's arrival, a number of concerns were expressed about issues such as increased crime, traffic congestion and noise. The study I'm releasing today finds that these problems have not materialized.... Given the results that I have outlined today, it is understandable that a number of communities in Ontario have expressed an interest in hosting a casino in their community."

They certainly had a lot of enthusiasm for gaming in their day as government.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The serious problem we have in the region of Peel is the tremendous cost of the increasing number of immigrants who are forced on to welfare because their supporters are not fulfilling their obligation to support them. The federal government in Ottawa has agreements with sponsors stating that for 10 years sponsors of these immigrants will financially assist them. These agreements are not being honoured by their sponsors or enforced by the federal government. The federal government is not doing its job. My question to the minister is, what is she doing to make sure this situation changes?

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): At a time when the finance minister earlier today talked about how the province is still spending over $600,000 an hour more than we're taking in, any fault in the sponsorship program that Ottawa runs - it's costing us as high as $300 million a year in failed sponsorships, so this is an extremely significant negative impact on Ontario's ability to pay for many of those social programs that we consider so important.

Peel has been fighting very hard and lobbying Ottawa on this. We had hoped they would tighten up the regulations in terms of sponsorship. They said they were going to but unfortunately, while they did make some improvements, they have allowed, for example, that if someone is currently on social assistance they're still allowed to sponsor, even though their ability to say they're going to be financially responsible for that person for 10 years is extremely open to question. Second, they also continue to permit individuals to sponsor even after they've previously defaulted. We do think there needs to be much tighter regulation to prevent failed sponsorships.

Mr Tilson: Half of Canada's new immigrants end up living in southern Ontario, and more and more are coming to Peel region because of job opportunities and affordable housing. The federal government needs to pass tougher restrictions on those who can become a sponsor. The failure of these sponsors in the region of Peel and the rest of Ontario to honour their commitments with the government of Canada is an absolute disgrace. Can you tell me, Minister, the status of the Peel pilot project reviewing these matters and are you considering expanding this project province-wide?

Hon Mrs Ecker: Peel region had entered into a pilot project with Ottawa and the province to see what could be done to prevent sponsorships from breaking down or to get them restarted again. They have done a study. We've been anxiously awaiting the results of that study because they have found that there are certain interventions which worked very successfully. We understand that finally they're going to start going to court to try and enforce those sponsorship rules.

Whatever recommendations come out of that study, and we would encourage them to release it very quickly, we would like to take those recommendations and implement them province-wide. I think when those sponsorships break down, what Ottawa must recognize is that there are significant financial costs, financial impacts, not only on social assistance but also on our education and health budgets, and I believe they must recognize that.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Today I attended the press conference of the Ontario Coalition Against Gambling Expansion. These were people from communities across Ontario who were at the Legislature today to express their deep concern about the drastic expansion of gambling opportunities in Ontario, specifically the new Mike Harris gambling halls or, as you call them, charity casinos, 44 permanent casinos that could operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day and prey upon the vulnerable, the desperate and the addicted in their communities.

These people fear that you will ignore the results of referendums and plebiscites that were held during the recent municipal elections and try to bribe and intimidate municipal councils into disregarding their electors. Former Conservative cabinet minister Jack McNie, a member of the Davis cabinet, expressed this fear. He said, "The fix is in."

Minister, will you promise today that in municipalities that voted against charity casinos you will respect the will of the electorate and not allow charity casinos in those communities? I'm talking about the vote.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): It almost feels like it's Pete and Repeat today; all these questions. I must say, though, to his credit, the member for St Catharines is usually first off the mark with his questions.

Once again, if I could reference December 8, 9 or 10 or whatever you want, we've been consistent in saying that clearly any of the plebiscites, any of the referenda in the various forms that the various municipalities have held during the last municipal election were really asked for by themselves and information to them.

We've clearly said we would not force any community to take a charity gaming club, which is how I refer to them, by the way, in a community that did ask for them. We've been consistent with that message.

Mr Bradley: The minister has not answered the questions. He's been congratulated by his staff who saw him on Global TV giving the same answer. They say: "Isn't this smart? You've given the same answer. You're not budging from it."

The question I am asking is not whether you're going to bribe the municipal councillors with VLT administration funds or whether you're going to intimidate them by having charities call them up and say they want these casinos. What I'm asking you is this: In those communities where there was a vote that took place on the charity casinos and the people by a vote, a referendum or a plebiscite, said they did not want them, will you, as Jack McNie, former Conservative cabinet minister in the Davis government asked, respect that particular view and not allow your charity casinos, the new Mike Harris gambling halls, to go into those municipalities which voted against them? That's the question, and that's the question that you have not answered for two weeks.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I guess there's quite a difference of opinion on this. Clearly, if I could repeat myself again, we said we would not force any community that did not want one to take a charity gaming club.

Perhaps I can indicate another side of this. This is an article that was in the Peterborough Examiner recently. It was a quote by Linda Gratton, the interim executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society, who indicated: "We saw this" - being the charity gaming clubs - "as a positive, having more control over casino operations than video lottery terminals, with the community getting annual revenues from the terminals."

I think this is about supporting the charities in our community. It's about putting accountability into a system that did not have it before.



M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : «À l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario :

«Attendu que nous, les signataires de cette pétition, voulons signifier au gouvernement notre opposition au projet de loi 160 ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 exclut les parents et les enseignants du processus de décision dans le secteur de l'éducation en Ontario ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 centralise tous les pouvoirs entre les mains du gouvernement ;

«Attendu que le projet de loi 160 accorde au gouvernement Harris le pouvoir de retrancher 660 $ millions de plus du secteur de l'éducation ;

«Nous, les soussignataires, demandons le retrait du projet de loi 160.» J'y ajoute ma signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have further petitions signed by thousands of workers with regard to the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and clinics.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On behalf of my NDP colleagues, I proudly add my name to those of these petitioners.


The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further petitions? The member for Durham East.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the kind recognition.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas in October 1996, fill was placed at 3242 Salina Road, Clarington. The owner of this property failed to apply for a permit prior to receiving the fill, as was required by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. The site was rezoned to receive clean fill only, yet the owner received fill which was clearly undesignated industrial fill;

"Whereas the owner of this property is an employee of the Durham regional works recycling centre at 4600 Gerrard Road in Whitby and should have been aware that a permit would have been required and that his zoning allowed him to receive clean fill only;

"Whereas CLOCA was made aware in October 1996 of the industrial-commercial fill being deposited on the site. CLOCA was made aware that a road was being constructed right up to the banks of a coldstream creek on the property and that the fill was being redistributed on the property, yet did not pursue the matter until formally requested to do so in January 1997;

"Whereas the municipality of Clarington was asked to investigate this matter, as a number of residents were concerned that the groundwater and therefore the drinking water would be contaminated;

"Whereas the husband of the municipal planner involved in the investigation of this matter on behalf of the municipality of Clarington is employed by the regional municipality of Durham, at the same facility as the owner of the Salina Road site, as manager of the regional works traffic control, the municipal planner appears to have a conflict and the municipality's and the residents' best interests may not have been paramount in this matter;

"Whereas any fill on the Salina site should have met July 1996 guidelines for allowable levels of contamination, it is evident from test data that lead levels in the soil exceeded acceptable levels according to these guidelines. The soil contains many acute hazardous-waste chemical hazards, waste chemicals and leachate. This is dangerous to humans as well as plant and fish habitat;

"Whereas this fill has now been redistributed and the owner of the 3242 Salina Road site intends to grow crops on the property;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that independent MOEE investigators receive the data, assess the problem and suggest solutions that will safeguard the groundwater sources and protect the residents from the negative impacts of soil and water contamination. The site-specific risk assessment approach, SSRA, or Ontario regulation 347, should be applied to this site to assess health risks posed to humans and the environment, and suggest Mr R. Shaw, regional director."



Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): I'm continuing to receive thousands of petitions with respect to Bill 160. This petition says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

This is signed by residents in my own riding and I affix my signature to it.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition addressed to the members of the Ontario Legislature:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is signed by residents of Wawa, and I affix my signature thereto.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I have a petition signed by many people from my riding. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas under the current Pay Equity Act, Bill 136, the Canadian Red Cross homemaker service will be forced to cease operating January 1, 1998; and

"Whereas over 73,000 frail, elderly and disabled clients and more than 6,000 workers will be affected;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to amend the Pay Equity Act, Bill 136, so that Red Cross homemakers can continue to provide quality service to their clients."

To that I will affix my signature.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Ernie Eves and Mike Harris were against casino gambling when they were in opposition and warned that more casinos equalled more crime, prostitution, drugs and higher police costs; and

"Whereas during the last election campaign Mike Harris and the Tories said they would not force casinos into communities across Ontario without the consent of the voters; and

"Whereas over 70% of the megacity voters in the recent municipal election voted a resounding No to the spread of casinos into their neighbourhoods; and

"Whereas the voters of the Toronto megacity have spoken loud and clear against casinos in all of Metro's six municipalities, with over 460,000 voters saying No to Mike Harris's gambling halls into neighbourhoods; and

"Whereas there is already too much gambling in Ontario, that preys upon the most vulnerable and desperate;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the legislative Assembly that Mike Harris listen to those who voted overwhelmingly no to the spread of the Mike Harris gaming halls and stop the introduction of any further Mike Harris gambling halls in Metro Toronto by the Harris Tories."

I'll affix my name to this petition.


M. Gilles Bisson (Cochrane-Sud) : J'ai ici une pétition intitulée «Projet de loi 160,» et c'est écrite comme telle :

«Attendu que l'éducation de nos enfants nous est une priorité ;

«Attendu que nous trouvons que le système d'éducation public tel qu'il existe répond aux besoins du plus grand nombre d'élèves possible, y inclus ceux qui ont des besoins particuliers ;

«Attendu qu'avec les changements proposés par le ministre Snobelen dans le projet de loi 160, la possibilité d'action locale pour répondre à ces besoins est enlevée ;

«Attendu que ces changements vont affecter la salle de classe de façon négative et diminuera les ressources disponibles aux enseignantes et aux enseignants ;

«Il est résolu que le ministre Snobelen retire le projet de loi 160 et entame des discussions sérieuses avec tous les enseignants de la province» afin de retourner à un système équilibré.

Je signe cette pétition avec grosse fierté.


Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): This petition reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take up to an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

I've signed these petitions.

Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I have a citizens' petition against Bill 160. It's signed by residents of Chatham, Wallaceburg, Thamesville and other areas in Kent.

"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, believe Bill 160 will not improve education. We are opposed to the Harris government passing legislation that would centralize all decision-making about education in the hands of the cabinet. This shift in control will enable cabinet to cut another $700 million from education."

I've affixed my name to this petition.

Ms Marion Boyd (London Centre): I have a petition which reads as follows:

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

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

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

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


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition from the good people of Port Colborne and from throughout the Niagara Peninsula. It's a petition to protect our right to hunt and to continue black bear hunting in Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

In support, my signature.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have the following petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas during the last election campaign Mike Harris and the Tories said they would not force casinos into communities across Ontario without the consent of the voters; and

"Whereas over 70% of Metro Toronto voters in the recent municipal election voted a resounding No to the spread of casinos into their neighbourhoods; and

"Whereas the voters of the Toronto megacity have spoken loudly and clear against casinos in all of Metro's six municipalities, with over 460,000 voters saying No to Mike Harris's spread of casinos into neighbourhoods; and

"Whereas there is already too much gambling in Ontario that preys upon the most vulnerable and desperate;

"Therefore, be it resolved that we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly that Mike Harris listen to those who voted overwhelmingly no to the spread of casinos and stop the introduction of any further casinos in Metro."

I affix my signature, as I'm in agreement with this petition.



Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have yet again a number of petitions here from the community of Matheson, and they read as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take up to an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

I signed that petition.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I move that, pursuant to standing order 46 and notwithstanding any other standing order or special order of the House relating to Bill 164, An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget and to make other amendments to statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance or relating to taxation matters, the standing committee on finance and economic affairs shall be authorized to meet at 7 pm on Monday, December 15, 1997 for the purpose of considering the bill;

That, at such time, the Chair shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment;

That, the committee shall report the bill to the House not later than the first sessional day that reports from committees may be received following the completion of clause-by-clause consideration. In the event that the committee fails to report the bill on that day, the bill shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to and received by the House;

That, upon receiving the report of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, the Speaker shall put the question for adoption of the report forthwith, and at such time the bill shall be ordered for third reading;

That, on such day as the bill is reported, the order for third reading may be called;

That one sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm or 9:15 pm as the case may be on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment; and

That, in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Madam Speaker: You will know that I notified the Speaker previously that I would be raising a point of order on this matter. I attempted to raise it earlier and the Speaker informed me that he would hear my point at such time as the motion was called. So I advise on that point now. You have the submission. I will simply make a couple of points with respect to this motion which time allocates consideration of Bill 164.

As the Speaker has noted in this House, time allocation motions are becoming quite commonplace, but never have we in this assembly seen a time allocation motion like this one. I intend to argue that this time allocation is out of order.

Speaker, you will be aware that on Wednesday last, the House completed debate on second reading of Bill 164, and as is the right of members, as laid out in our standing orders under 71(c), 12 members stood in their places to refer this bill to the standing committee for consideration. The Minister of Finance directed the bill to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. I had informed the government House leader previously on a number of occasions that our caucus wants public hearings on this massive piece of legislation.

The time allocation motion that the government House leader has called pulls this bill from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs without public hearings or even debate and opportunity for amendment. The committee is to meet tonight for approximately five minutes, it seems, simply to refer the bill back to the House for third reading. This House has directed the committee to meet and consider this piece of legislation - consider. Should this motion pass, the instructions of this House will not have been carried out. The motion stymies the ability of the House to make any amendment to the bill. It obstructs the bill from receiving consideration in committee, or for that matter in committee of the whole House, because under this time allocation motion it would be referred immediately to third reading.

I don't think I need to remind the members of the House that the government has the majority on the standing committee, so frankly, even from the government's standpoint, it isn't necessary to include this draconian measure of pulling the bill from the committee. The committee could consider the bill and pass a motion subsequent to consideration to report the bill to the House. The government, after all, has the majority on the committee.

With this time allocation motion, the government seeks not only to limit consideration of the bill in committee, but it actually would prohibit consideration of this important stage of a bill. In this case, the House has directed the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to consider Bill 164. This motion thwarts the wishes of the members of the Legislature who stood to refer the matter to committee and even the finance minister who referred the bill to the finance committee. If this motion is found to be in order, it means that members no longer have the right to stand in their places and refer bills to committee, because they'll simply be referred back to the House.

Where does this end? Will the government soon be able to time-allocate before second reading debate? Why not cancel consideration of all stages of the bill? Why should we even have this Legislature meet again? The government could just rule by decree.

Speaker, I want to bring to your attention a section of our standing orders that I believe gives us direction regarding the time allocation motion that has been raised here today. Standing order 1(b) lays out the purpose of our standing orders. It reads:

"The purpose of these standing orders is to ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members,

"(i) to submit motions, resolutions and bills for the consideration of the assembly and its committees, and to have them determined by democratic vote;

"(ii) to debate, speak to, and vote on motions, resolutions and bills" for the consideration of the assembly and its committees, and to have them determined by democratic vote;

"(iii) to hold the government accountable for its policies; and

"(iv) collectively, to decide matters submitted to the assembly or a committee."

I emphasize that the business is to be "conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members." One of those rights under our standing orders is to refer bills to committee for consideration - for consideration, not to be given short shrift.


Also, I cited standing order 1(b)(iii): The business of the House is to be conducted in a manner that enables the members "to hold the government accountable for its policies." I suggest that simply having a committee sit and move a motion immediately to refer a matter back to the House does not allow members of that committee to hold the government accountable for the measures it is taking in Bill 164.

This time allocation motion I believe is out of order and should not be allowed to proceed, because in my view it offends the purposes laid out in the standing orders. It does not respect the democratic rights of the members of the Legislative Assembly. It is our role, as elected representatives, to consider legislation, to debate, to scrutinize and to amend bills in this House and in committee. This time allocation motion has gone too far in curtailing the ability of the minority in the House to hold the government accountable.

It is your responsibility as Speaker of the Legislature to protect the rights of the minority and to uphold the purposes of our standing orders; not just the literal reading of the orders but the intent of the orders. I would ask you to rule on this time allocation motion as soon as possible, because the government has called it and I believe it to be out of order. I ask you to meet your grave responsibility to protect the rights of the minority in this assembly and on the committee.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I will be very brief in speaking to this matter. I happen to believe that the government is moving in an extremely alarming fashion. I'm quite alarmed, as a member of this House and as a House leader, at the frequency and the nature - in this case we're talking about the nature - of the so-called time allocation motions or motions closing off debate that we are seeing from this government.

In this specific case, it is a known rule in this House, an accepted rule, that if 12 members of the Legislature rise, a matter is referred to a committee. That is not for the purpose of simply going through the motions. That is, in fact, for the committee to consider whichever matter has been referred to it, in this case Bill 164, in a fairly comprehensive fashion.

What the government has done is that it is, with its 82-seat majority, going to railroad through this motion this afternoon, and then this evening the legislative committee it has been assigned to will be dealing with it for a very short time. Those of us who rose in the House to force the bill to that legislative committee did not contemplate, nor did we want to see, the government go into the committee and refer it back to the House.

We wanted further consideration. We could have continued the debate in the House. I suppose, if we wanted to, we could have continued the debate in the House, but instead we believed it would be better to go to committee, perhaps to have a day of hearings - as I recall, we didn't ask for more than a day of hearings - so the clerks and treasurers, who say that this bill will cause chaos in this province, could come forward; so that representatives of municipalities, who will be censored by one of the provisions of this bill from putting anything in the tax bill explaining why the tax bill is changing this time - none of those people is going to have an opportunity to appear before the committee.

The committee is simply going to have its five or six or seven or eight government members sit in the committee and vote as the government whip tells them to, to send this back into the House, and there will have been no consideration of this legislation in the committee. I think it would be a dangerous step and an alarming step to allow the government to once again come forward with yet another escalation of closure and the way in which closure shall be applied in this province.

Hon Mr Sterling: Madam Speaker, opposition members have argued that this time allocation motion in some way abrogates our standing orders. I would argue that it does not.

The question is, can a time allocation motion provide for the question of a certain stage of the legislative process to be put forthwith, without debate or amendment? This is not the first time that a provision has been made to allocate time for a committee stage of a bill after a bill has been referred to a standing committee. Indeed, this was done many times by the New Democratic government. Consider their time allocation motions with respect to Bill 171, Bill 165 and Bill 163.

Indeed, Speaker Warner, in his ruling of July 21, 1992, respecting the New Democratic government's Bill 150, stated:

"There was some mention yesterday about whether previous time allocation motions in this House have ever provided that the question on a certain stage of the legislative process be put forthwith without debate or amendment. I have reviewed the time allocation motions that have been moved in this chamber since 1982, and I have found that eight of them contained just such a provision with respect to the adoption of a report of a standing committee, the adoption of a report of the committee of the whole House, or both."

There have also been a number of instances where time allocation motions have contained just such a provision with respect to third reading debate on a bill. The New Democratic government's Bill 150 is a case in point.

The standing order of this Legislative Assembly which provides for time allocation, standing order 46(a), states: "The government House leader or any minister of the crown may move a motion with notice providing for the allocation of time to any proceeding on a government bill or substantive government motion." In this instance we have applied that provision within the standing committee process. You will note, as Speaker Warner said, that "the standing order does not require that the motion provide for a minimum period of debate." However, as you, Madam Speaker, have noted, it is within the power of the government, of any government, for that matter, under the provisions of standing order 46 - I would note that on page 13452 of Hansard on December 2 of this year, Speaker Stockwell said:

"`In many sessions in order to secure the passage of particularly important and controversial legislation, governments have been confronted with the choice, unless special powers are taken, of cutting down their normal program to an undesirable extent, or of prolonging the sittings of Parliament, or else of acknowledging the impotence of the majority of the House in the face of the resistance of the minority. In such circumstances resort is had sooner or later to the most drastic method of curtailing debate known to procedure, namely, the setting of a date by which a committee must report, or the allocation of a specified number of days to the various stages of a bill and of limited amounts of time to particular portions of a bill.'"

This particular motion refers the bill to the standing committee - that has already been done - but allows the standing committee members to vote on each and every section of the bill, to either approve or reject those sections of the bill. So there is, in I guess a broader context, some consideration or some part of each member of the committee - it's a narrow concept, I agree. However, it's felt by the government that it is necessary to have passage of this bill at this time, before we break later this week.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I'd just like to add two concepts to this. It may very well be that the government wants legislation, but that's no reason the motion in front of us is necessarily in order.

If I could just refer to section 46(a), it says, "The government House leader or any minister of the crown may move a motion with notice providing for the allocation of time to any proceeding on a government bill...." Any proceeding includes the process of it going to committee. It can allocate the amount of time it can be at that committee, but surely with the allocation of time there is the concept that there's going to be some time for debate and discussion. To include in the motion the notion that there will be no debate whatsoever is not an allocation of time. That's the first point I want to make, that the motion itself is in direct conflict with 46(a) because there has been no allocation of time. The motion itself says that it shall be voted upon without any debate.

I would also like to draw your attention to section 106(a). It states, "Standing and select committees shall be severally empowered to examine, inquire into and report from time to time on all such matters as may be referred to them by the House." To allow absolutely no debate at the committee level means that there's no time to examine, no time to inquire into and no time to report from time to time by that committee. It is my suggestion to you, Madam Speaker that standing order 106(a) has been completely violated. Part of our standing orders has been completely violated by this notice of motion.

With respect to both sections 46 and 106, the motion is out of order.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Just briefly, I want to underscore a point that what we have here is a situation in which, if the government motion is allowed to stand, that decision and your ruling to let that stand will, in effect, nullify the provision of rule 71(c) as it relates to 12 members being able to stand in their place and therefore send a bill to committee. That is a very clear part of the standing orders.

This is not about whether the government has the right to time-allocate bills or to decide in that time allocation process that they want bills to bypass the committee. It's their right to do so, but this is a very different situation from that, Speaker. This is not a situation in which the government House leader has brought in a time allocation motion which we have objected to but which under the rules they can do. This is a situation in which there has already been a decision exercised by 12 members in this House. It's one of the few places, if not the only place, in the standing orders where a minority of 12 members have the right by virtue of standing in their place, not as a majority decision but as 12 members, to exert upon the rest of this House a decision, and that decision is to be able to refer a bill to committee where then it is to be considered. If the government House leader is then allowed to bring in a motion that simply bypasses that, then the question has to be asked, what is the point of that standing order? It doesn't mean anything.

I don't think you can uphold a ruling that nullifies a clear standing order, particularly, as our House leader, Mr Wildman, has pointed out, in light of how you now have to read the standing orders. As you know, as they have been rewritten, they have a different purpose, a very much more clear purpose set out which says that the proceedings in this House have to be "conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members." The democratic rights of members in this case include a very clear standing order that says that any 12 members standing in their place can cause a bill to go to committee.

If the government House leader or anybody is now allowed to come in with a motion and by virtue of the majority that they control override that decision made by the House by virtue of 12 members standing in their place, then it nullifies that particular standing order. I want to say to you that I don't think you can uphold as valid any motion that would then nullify a clear standing order such as that one that allows 12 members to make that decision.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Government House leader, if you could just be as brief as you can.

Hon Mr Sterling: Yes, I will be brief. Standing order 46 is quite clear that after second reading debate has been concluded, which it has, a time allocation motion can be moved. Speaker Stockwell has ruled that such time allocation motions, in effect, suspend the standing orders and that the procedures are taken henceforth from the instructions contained or the motions within that standing order. I believe that is the position of the Speaker in the past and I believe that sustains this motion and it is in order.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma, please try to be brief.

Mr Wildman: I just want to underline two things. The precedent cited from Speaker Warner by the government House leader referred in all cases, I understand, to situations where matters had been before committees for a considerable length of time. In this particular case, the matter has just been referred to committee. There has been no consideration, no debate in committee. This motion essentially prohibits committee.

If this time allocation motion is found to be in order, then it renders moot standing order 71(c). If that is the case, then that can hardly be in line with standing order 1(b), that the business of the House will be "conducted in a manner that respects the democratic rights of members" to hold the government accountable for its policies.

Again, I call on you to rule not only on the exact, literal wording of the standing orders but the purpose set out in 1(b) and the intent of the standing orders and all of our commitment, I hope, to a democratic process.

The Deputy Speaker: Member for Cochrane South, I hope you will brief, because I think I've heard all the arguments now, so I can go and deliberate.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I will just add one component of this. The government House leader got up and said that according to the Speaker's ruling the government can introduce a closure motion or a time allocation motion that would basically do anything around changing the standing orders. The question I would have, and what you have to reflect on, is that if that's true, does that mean that the government would have the ability to say, for example: "We will not place the mace on the table," or, "The Speaker shall not take his chair"?

The point that my friend from Dovercourt made was that what they're doing in this particular point is saying that members cannot by rule 71(c) have the opportunity to be able to send a bill into committee. That to me is a very fundamental right of what we're able to do here.

For the government House leader to get up and say, "We can do what we want by amending the rules through a closure motion," I would dare to say not all of the things in there you would really have the right to do. I can't believe that any Parliament, for example, would say, "We're going to change the rules so we don't have to have the mace on the table." It would be the same thing as 71(c).

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you to all of you for your submissions. I am going to take a 15-minute recess so I can deliberate and come back with a ruling.

The House recessed from 1619 to 1646.

The Deputy Speaker: In August of this year, the standing orders were amended. Among the changes was one that added the purpose clause to standing order 1.

This change made explicit what was traditionally an implicitly understood concept, that is, it has always been the case that members have had the democratic rights to submit resolutions, motions and bills for the consideration of the assembly; to debate, speak to and vote on these same resolutions, motions and bills; to hold the government accountable for its policies, and for members, collectively, to decide matters submitted to the assembly.

The new standing order 1(b) sets out the purpose of the standing orders; in fact, it ably defines the very purpose of the chamber itself. All of these activities I have just described are precisely the essence of the legislative process, and are indeed the reason we are all here. Codifying this fact did not make it so; it has always been so.

Creating this new standing order did not change established custom and practice, but the fact that the change was made deliberately in the August 1997 amendments leads me to believe that it was the will of the House that explicit recourse be had to these principles when the standing orders are being interpreted.

The issue I must resolve is whether the time allocation motion has the effect of diminishing, or denying to any member, the rights that members have under standing order 1(b). Clearly, it does. The fact that members wishing to move amendments may not have the opportunity to do so offends clause 1(b)(i). The fact that time might not be available to every member who wishes to speak offends clause 1(b)(ii).

Time allocation motions, though, by their very nature cause this to be the case. As Erskine May states, time allocation motions "may be regarded as the extreme limit to which procedure goes in affirming the rights of the majority at the expense of the minorities of the House."

There is clearly a conflict here. Standing order 1 sets out the rights of members, whereas standing order 46 makes provision for a procedure that, in essence, takes standing order 1 and throws it out.

To resolve this conflict, therefore, I must be guided by our practice and custom. There is nothing new about time allocation motions. Indeed, it is not even new to see a time allocation motion that deals with more than one bill at the same time. This House has dealt with these motions many times before. In each instance, the rights of members were impacted upon in a way that limited their ability to participate in the legislative process to the fullest extent possible.

This occurred prior to the August 1997 standing order amendments, when the rights set out in standing order 1 were the unwritten but received wisdoms of this place. It has occurred many times since then, with the same result: Some members may have found themselves, by majority decision of their colleagues, unable to fully assert their rights set out in standing order 1.

While pushing procedure to the extreme limit that a time allocation motion represents is undoubtedly not viewed by any of us as desirable, it is nevertheless an accepted practice that this House has used many times before.

While standing order 1 may elevate the test that other procedures must pass in order for the rights of members to be affirmed, the time allocation motion, by its very nature, must logically be protected and saved from it. If it were otherwise, then it is plausible to foresee a scenario where a single member, by asserting the protection set out in standing order 1, could thwart the House from ever concluding consideration of an item of business that the remainder of the House demonstrably wishes to conclude.

Since the opportunity for such occurrences is rare, they happen rarely. More often it is the case, as Erskine May states, "(g) Governments have been confronted with the choice, unless special powers are taken, of cutting down their normal program to an undesirable extent, or of prolonging the sittings of Parliament, or else of acknowledging the impotence of the majority of the House in the face of the resistance of the minority."

The method to deal with this circumstance is the time allocation motion. By its nature, it diminishes the rights of members and indeed it will most likely offend the principles set out in standing order 1. However, time allocation motions are part of the accepted procedure of this House. As a method of curtailing debates, they essentially suspend the standing orders and are in essence an exempt class of motion with respect to standing order 1. As a result, I find that the time allocation motion is not out of order on the basis of the argument surrounding the "purpose" clause in the standing orders.

I want to say at this time too to the government that I think that my ruling here makes it very clear to all of us that minority rights are affected in this kind of -

Mr Bradley: Non-existent.

The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.

I would say that it's a very good example and shows us once again why time allocation motions should not be used on a regular basis but should be used in extreme circumstances altogether. I have to say that I do have some concerns about the amount of time and the regularity with which time allocation motions are now being moved, because as my ruling states clearly today, there is no doubt about it, the minority rights are infringed on once time allocation motions are brought forward. Thank you for your attention.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Speaker: I respect your ruling and I accept it. I would point out, though, that I wasn't speaking to the other time allocation motion that deals with more than one bill. I was referring to Bill 164.

My argument did not just turn on standing order 1; it also referred to standing order 71(c), which I note you did not mention in your ruling.

The Deputy Speaker: Just to clarify here, although I didn't refer to standing order 71(c) specifically in my ruling, I think it is an example precisely of what happens when time allocation motions are brought in.


The Deputy Speaker: To the member for Algoma, order please.

I just want to make this very clear. I have registered with everybody my displeasure at the implication of time allocation motions. However, it is within the rules. But I have said, and I will repeat again, in fact it's clear that it does affect minority rights. I think that at all times, governments have to take that into account when they choose to move to time allocation motions.

Hon Mr Sterling: I will be sharing my time with the member for Nepean and the member for Scarborough Centre.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate your ruling and would point out to you and to other members of the Legislature that the whole notion of time allocation motions was introduced by the former NDP government, and while this government has had to use time allocation on a number of occasions, we still have not yet reached the record set by the former NDP government, which used time allocation on 23 separate pieces of legislation.

We have attempted in the past to negotiate with the other House leaders, the other parties, with regard to -

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order. The Chair recognizes the member for Cochrane South on a point of order.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It says explicitly in the rules of the Legislature that you cannot mislead anybody by way of your speech. The member opposite was trying to imply that time allocation motions were an invention of the previous NDP government. Time allocation motions have been used in legislatures across Canada, unfortunately far too often, and were not an invention of the NDP government.

The Acting Speaker: That is not a point of order. The rules that we go by are that you can't accuse someone of that. They don't say that you can.

Hon Mr Sterling: I think that I strike too close to home when I bring forward the idea that time allocation was put in the standing orders by the former government at the insistence of their House leader. That was the first time that was ever included in the standing orders of the Legislature of Ontario.

We have in the past attempted on what one could consider even minor pieces of legislation to encourage the opposition to come forward with some kind of cooperation to limit debate on bills which, in some cases, they voted in favour of or didn't even force a division on. However, that cooperation has not been forthcoming on many occasions and has been a rare fact of the matter.

What that does, of course, is back up the legislative program of the government with regard to other important matters.

Mr Wildman: When was first reading of this bill, Norm?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Algoma, come to order, please.

Mr Gerretsen: You can't mislead the House, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: I'd ask you to withdraw that. Member for Kingston and The Islands, I'm asking you to withdraw that statement.

Mr Gerretsen: Withdraw what statement, Mr Speaker?

The Acting Speaker: I just ask you to withdraw or not.

Mr Gerretsen: All I said was you cannot mislead the House.

The Acting Speaker: Either withdraw or I'll name you.

Mr Gerretsen: I'll withdraw.

Hon Mr Sterling: I was trying to inform the public with regard to what has been going on in this Legislature over a long period of time. The fact of the matter is that we don't encourage putting forward time allocation motions but the government is forced to that position.


Mr Wildman: You think everything's a joke, Jim. You don't understand what we're talking about.

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): I understand what you you're talking about. Look at other legislatures in Canada.

Mr Wildman: You're a new boy here. You don't have the faintest idea.

The Acting Speaker: Order. I'd ask the minister and the member for Algoma -

Mr Wildman: The man is being very provocative.

The Acting Speaker: Grab a hold of yourself. Bring yourself to order or I'll have you removed.

Mr Wildman: Do whatever you have to do.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the government House leader.

Hon Mr Sterling: With regard to Bill 164, these matters are the implementation of the 1997 budget of the government and have been known to the public and to the opposition and to other people for a long period of time. There are many people who have expressed their opinion on the various parts of this particular bill before the bill actually was introduced to the Legislature.

With regard to the principles in this bill, there has been considerable debate already not only in this Legislature during question period, but we've heard it in petitions, we've heard it from stakeholders, we've heard it from a number of people. It is unfortunate that the Legislature can't operate in a more cooperative fashion but that's the way it is and, unfortunately, the government is forced to do this.

I would now like to yield the floor to my friend from Nepean, who will further elaborate on this issue.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I want to discuss the process that led up to Bill 164 being introduced. Bill 164 is a budget bill arising from the measures contained in the 1997 budget. There was a significant amount of discussion and public consultation leading up to the introduction of the budget this past May. The first process in terms of -


The Acting Speaker: Order. Member for St Catharines, I would ask you to withdraw that remark, please, that you threw across the floor.

Mr Bradley: Well, whatever it was, and I can't recall what it was, I'm happy to withdraw it. I'm unhappy to withdraw it.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: There was a significant amount of public consultation leading up to the introduction of the budget in May. That process started when the standing committee on finance and economic affairs met to conduct pre-budget consultations in the province. They heard both written submissions from groups around Ontario and oral submissions from witnesses at the committee directly.

We did hear from a whole host of groups in that committee, whether it was the Ontario Home Builders' Association, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations or the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. We heard substantially in that public consultation process from the Canadian Advanced Technology Association, the United Steelworkers of America, the Middlesex Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Federation of Students, Restructuring for a Competitive Economy, Citizens for Public Justice -


The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: We heard from the Ontario Public Health Association. We heard from a terrific number of associations during those pre-budget consultations. These were the written submissions that the standing committee on finance and economic affairs heard from. They also heard also a terrific amount from those who presented at the committee itself during the pre-budget consultations. There was a terrific amount heard at committee that's reflected in this budget bill and that was reflected in the budget. That committee heard these public consultations.

They then went on and wrote a report which provided more consultation and advice to the government. It recommended a whole host of measures, whether it was dealing with small business, whether it was dealing with research and development, whether it was dealing with the challenge of youth employment in our society - a terrific amount.

We then had more consultation when the Minister of Finance met, as does every Minister of Finance of the day, with a good number of groups across the province. He spoke with business representatives; spoke with home builders; spoke with developers; spoke with the forestry, resources and mining industries; spoke with manufacturing and high technology: the Canadian Advanced Technology Association, the Ontario Aerospace Council, the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association, the Information Technology Association of Canada, the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters. He heard from a lot of social services groups, whether it was the United Way, the Ontario Association for Community Living, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, seniors' groups. He heard from the financial industry, the insurance industry; heard from a number of groups concerned with pensions, the Ontario Federation of Labour among them; heard from the agricultural community, whether it was the farmers of Ontario, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario; heard from a lot of education groups, the Ontario Learning Disabilities Association, the Council of Ontario Universities; heard from representatives of the automobile manufacturing industry in Ontario, including the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association; heard from various health groups, tourism groups; heard from a good number of economists.

The minister considered all that input with the input we had heard from SCOFEA. He then presented his budget in this place in May. This budget was presented in May. So the contents of Bill 164 have been known for a good amount of time. The minister presented his budget in May and then we debated that budget in this place again. All the measures contained in this piece of legislation, whether the Ontario new technology tax incentive, the Ontario film and television tax credit, the graduate transitions tax credit, the cooperative education - all these tax credits designed to create jobs in Ontario were debated extensively in the House when the minister presented his budget. In addition, during the 1997 debates on the budget, we debated it for a number of days in this place.

There is also a component of this piece of legislation which deals with property assessment, and again, a considerable amount of debate on that too. I could go on and on. This government consulted and this government listened to what it heard. A lot of what it heard was presented in the 1997 budget, and a lot of what was heard was presented in Bill 164, designed to create more jobs, whether in the research and development industry, opportunities for young people, the graduate transitions measures in this budget or the cooperative education measures in this budget, which are very important to young people looking for their very first job.

There has been a considerable amount of public input on this budget and these measures. There is also part of Bill 164 -

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: For the third time, is there a quorum present?

The Acting Speaker: I will take all points of order that are given civilly and in proper place in the House. Is there a quorum present?

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

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: In addition to the consultations on this budget bill, Bill 164, that led up to the introduction of the bill, there was also a terrific amount of discussion about property assessment services in Ontario; that's part of Bill 164. This issue has been discussed for many years, not just in this place with Bill 149, the first property tax assessment bill; it has also been discussed in reports by AMO and has also been discussed by other groups.

It was discussed by the previous NDP government -

The Acting Speaker: Order. I can't have members wandering about the House talking. Either remove yourselves or go to your seats, if you feel the necessity of talking. The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: Returning property assessment to the municipalities where it existed prior to a move made by the Davis government has been talked about for many years. I mentioned that it has been talked about by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in a report dated October 1992. It also, believe it or not, was an idea of the previous government which, in 1992, issued a number of reports on this issue to the province of Ontario, on the need for an NDP solution to this issue. It's contained as well in Bill 164.

It was also discussed by the previous Liberal government. It was more than just discussion. This issue was dealt with in Bill 156 in 1990, when the Liberal government of the day presented a bill, Bill 156, An Act to establish the Property Assessment Corporation, presented by the Honourable Remo Mancini, Minister of Revenue at that time. So there was a considerable amount of discussion on this issue by all three parties, not just contained in Bill 164 but contained in Liberal proposals and New Democratic Party proposals as well, and sometimes even legislation was tabled in this House, as it was with the previous Liberal government of the day.

They weren't able to debate that piece of legislation because David Peterson, the then Premier, decided to call an election two years and 10 months into his first full term and was soundly rejected by the people for going to the polls two years and 10 months into an election term. So there's been a considerable amount of discussion on this issue.


All of this consultation leading up to the introduction of the budget that I have described was presented in the budget, and then there was considerable debate on the budget. The Minister of Finance also consulted with additional stakeholders who gave the government advice on how we could build on the ideas contained in the budget to make them work better for job creation, whether they be for young people, whether they be for research and development in Ontario, or probably most importantly, for job creation for small business development. There are a number of measures contained in Bill 164 on small business and job creation that arose out of the 1997 budget. The minister was able to listen and get some additional feedback from stakeholders in those consultations and has been able to make it even better.

There has also been a considerable amount of discussion on Bill 164 with respect to various components; for instance, the property tax assessment and how tax bills are to be labelled. There's a desire or goal to have the tax bills in Ontario be transparent and consistent so that they can be read with ease.

I thought about this issue and I took out my own tax bill from the city of Nepean. I'd have to agree that it's at times confusing and difficult to read. The idea of having a standard tax form, which would be consistent and transparent across Ontario was a good one, but it wasn't a new idea. It wasn't the first time that anyone had done it. I did check the federal legislation in this area and in the federal Income Tax Act the federal government and the minister have the right to prescribe a certain format for income tax forms, and that can't be done on an individual basis by the provincial government in each province, because there is a desire to keep it consistent and transparent. That measure is just repeated in Bill 164, that there be a uniform tax form. Municipalities are of course free to send things with that tax bill; they're free to send things under separate cover if they choose. There's nothing stopping that in Bill 164, which is very, very important.

We debated Bill 164 in this place for three days after first reading, three days on second reading. The most remarkable thing happened: Every member who wanted to speak had the opportunity to speak on Bill 164. Every member of this place who wanted to address concerns on Bill 164 had the opportunity to speak. We had a full three days of debate in this place. Second reading is agreeing to the bill in principle, the substantial part of the legislative process where we decide as a House collectively, as a Legislative Assembly collectively, whether we support a bill, and every single member who wanted to speak on that bill had the opportunity to speak. There was even time left over when other members could have had the opportunity to rise, but no members rose. Everyone who wanted to speak on this bill had the opportunity. We heard additional debate on this bill as well as discussions on the financial services act in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and their consultations this past October, so a substantial amount of public input.

I want to also outline the specifics of Bill 164 arising out of Mr Eves's budget presented in May 1997.

The Ontario new technology tax incentive, which was introduced in the budget, is contained in Bill 164. It is designed to help improve the competitiveness of our research and development regime in Ontario. Research and development is an incredibly important economic engine in Ontario. In my home community of Ottawa-Carleton a terrific number of jobs have been created in the research and development area. What we want to do is help ignite more and more research and development jobs in Ontario.

When you look at small businesses in Ontario, a group like Newbridge Networks in Kanata, which began 10 years ago, was a very, very small company. It had revenues of less than $1 million a year. It's a small business success story in Ontario. It now has revenues of $1 billion, $1.5 billion. What we want to do as the government of Ontario is to try to encourage more small businesses to do their research and development in Ontario. That's the important part.

The Ontario film and television tax credit is designed to encourage more investment in the Ontario film and television industry, which is a big job creator here in Ontario. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who's here in the House today, was a big promoter of that, and that's been good for job creation in Ontario. But as announced in the budget, we need to follow through with legislation as contained in Bill 164.

We also developed in the budget the graduate transitions tax credit designed as providing an incentive for businesses to hire graduates. Youth unemployment is a major concern for all political parties in Ontario and this bill seeks to follow through on that budget because youth unemployment has got to be an important priority.

The cooperative education tax credit contained in the budget and followed through in legislation in this bill is very important. In my community a lot of co-op education students that the -

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We are dealing with a very specific time allocation motion at this point in time, as to why this bill should be called for third reading and as to why the committee does not have any opportunity to debate the bill at all tonight when it meets at 7 o'clock. This member's talking about the merits of Bill 164. He's not made any reference at all to the time allocation motion, which is the motion we're discussing here today. I ask you to remind him to either take his seat or to just stick to this time allocation motion.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I will listen attentively to the member and hope that he brings his debate within the terms of the motion. The Chair recognizes the member for Nepean.

Mr Baird: The importance of dealing with Bill 164 expeditiously to help the folks I've been talking about is very important, and that's exactly the content of the motion before the House at this time.

The Ontario book publishing tax credit, another important job creator in the cultural industries in Ontario, follows through from another budget commitment made in May and which has received generally widespread support.

The Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit is contained in this bill. That's important for job creation in Ontario. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere was a big promoter of that, I know.

The Ontario business retail research institute tax credit: again a very, very important program for our research and development industry. That's a growing industry in Ontario. Whether it's in Ottawa-Carleton or whether it's in the greater Toronto area - I know there are a number of high-tech firms located in the riding of Markham. I know there are a lot of high-tech firms in the Cambridge-Kitchener-Waterloo area. That will help create jobs.

The harmonization of capital tax surcharge and small business investment tax credits, designed to help small business with simplifying the rules, that's part of Bill 164 and that's why we need to pass Bill 164, so that those benefits can be realized by small businesses in Ontario because small business in Ontario is the economic engine of Canada and the economic engine of the province and it's important that we should help out.

A number of other benefits in the bill that we need to pass with this motion are contained in the Income Tax Act. The Ontario child care tax credit is very, very important, to provide families with more favourable tax treatment in the raising of their children.

As well, there are a number of other amendments designed in the area of labour-sponsored venture capital corporations and a number of other technical amendments to seek to work with the federal Department of Revenue on these issues.

My point in all this is that there's been a terrific amount of consultation, before the budget was presented, when the budget was presented and leading up into the introduction of Bill 164. It follows through on a number of the budget commitments which is extremely important here in Ontario.

The part of the bill that deals with property assessment is as well important. Again, the issue of returning property tax assessment to the municipalities is not a new one. There's been a terrific amount of public discussion and consultation among the affected parties. I mention that that was done by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in October 1992. It was done by the Liberal government of the day through Bill 156, a Liberal bill, and that was as well proposed as a New Democratic Party solution. It's important that that be noted because the measures in these bills are not new. They're not something that was done without a terrific amount of consultation, and that's something that's very important.

For anyone to leave the suggestion there wasn't a terrific amount of public consultation on these bills simply defies the large quantity of paper the government was able to have as input in the preparation of Bill 164. By passing this motion, Bill 164 will help create jobs in Ontario. It will help do a number of important activities and initiatives that are coming out of the 1997 budget.

The importance of passing it before the end of 1997, so that these measures can be contained in the budget, is very important. That's why we want to seek the approval of the House prior to the finalization of the Revenue Canada tax forms, so that there can be a realization of the jobs in Ontario, so that there can be more jobs in research and development and more jobs in cultural industries, something that's extremely important here in the city of Toronto, something that can be important for encouraging more research and development and high technology industries in Ontario, something to help harmonize some of our rules with Revenue Canada. This will all help create more jobs and more opportunities.

I would like to yield the remainder of my time to my colleague the member for Scarborough Centre.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It's my pleasure to join in the debate today on the time allocation motion before us on Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, 1997. It's a very important bill that's before the House that deals with tax cuts and tax credits. Many of the credits include the graduate transitions tax credit, the cooperative education tax credit, the community small business investment funds program, the small business investment tax credit, the Ontario Business Research Institute tax credit for research and development, the Ontario new technology tax incentive, the Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit, the Ontario film and television tax credit, the Ontario book publishing tax credit, the child care tax credit, and also provides for the return of property assessment to municipalities, which are all included within Bill 164, a bill that has a lot of measures in it to create jobs for the people of Ontario.

The 1997 budget dealt with several measures that supported youth employment in small business job creation in our province. It also dealt with improving access to capital for small businesses, which we all know are very important, people who create jobs right across this province. The budget also promoted cultural industries. It fostered research and development and innovation and, as I mentioned, introduced a child care tax credit. It also simplified and modernized Ontario's capital tax system for financial institutions and established a not-for-profit corporation to deliver property tax assessment services in our province.

To support small business job creation for youth and for skills training, the 1997 budget introduced the graduate transitions tax credit and expanded eligibility for the cooperative education tax credit. These credits will encourage businesses to help unemployed graduates of post-secondary institutions get experience in a tough job market and to hire students in leading-edge technology programs and to help them gain valuable work experience. That's something members I believe on all sides of the House would want to support. The credits are also available for businesses to hire post-secondary co-op students or graduates and to provide salaries, wages and benefits.

It also, as I mentioned, talked about accessing capital for small businesses, and to increase access to capital for small businesses in our province we are introducing legislation to create the community small business investment funds and to enhance and simplify the small business investment tax credit for financial institutions, all good news for the people of my riding of Scarborough Centre and indeed for all ridings across our province.

The community small business investment funds announced were to encourage communities to partner with financial institutions, labour-sponsored investment funds and local investors to provide greater access to capital for small local growth businesses, and that creates jobs in our province.

As a result of the consultations, the community small business investment funds framework will be enhanced by expanding sponsorship, enriching incentives for financial institutions, and by enriching the operating expense allowance to a lifetime maximum of 30% and expanding the range of businesses that are eligible to receive financing. This is all good news for the people of our province.

The small business investment tax credit for financial institutions is a very important part of the bill, because the small business investment tax credit for financial institutions allows financial institutions to recover part of the taxes, provided they are lending money to small businesses, and that's something small businesses have told us right across this province. They've had difficulty in accessing capital from our financial institutions.

The cultural industries are also promoted through the investment of highly paid leading-edge jobs and investment in Ontario as a result of the bill.

It's also important to look at the enhancements to the Ontario book publishing tax credit. As announced in the budget of May 1997, book publishing companies are eligible for refundable tax credits at a rate of 30% on preproduction and promotional costs and 15% on production costs for publishing the works of first-time Canadian authors. It gives those authors the opportunity to get that first book published, something that's really a barrier for those people who are authoring these books, because of these costs they incur in trying to get that book to production and that prevent them from getting that book finally published.

Following the consultations with industry stakeholders, the eligibility has been expanded to include children's books by first-time illustrators, which I think is an excellent inclusion in the bill. It also includes educational titles, and qualifying expenditures will also include the publishing costs of unpublished books as of May 6 and also cover any expenses through a tax credit while on a promotional tour to try to sell those copies of that book by the first-time author.

Bill 164 also added enhancements to the Ontario film and television tax credit by increasing the tax credit rate to 20% from 15% on qualifying labour expenditures after May 6, 1997, and by raising the annual corporate tax limit to $3 million from $2 million. This will help ensure that Ontario continues to be a leading film and television production centre in North America. Ontario will be introducing legislation to expand the films that would be eligible under this tax credit.

The Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit introduced allows for digital animation and digital visual effects produced in Ontario for use in film or television productions. That tax credit has been increased to 20% from 15% and that would be effective July 1, 1997.

Also, throughout Bill 164 there are tax credits for research and development in Ontario.

The Ontario business-research institute tax credit will foster world-class research institutions in Ontario and promote partnerships in business and Ontario non-profit research institutions. The province has introduced a 20% refundable Ontario business-research institute tax credit for business-sponsored R&D performed by certain non-profit research institutes. This is good news for the people of our province.

The bill goes on and on, dealing with tax measures such as the Ontario new technology tax incentive. They're eliminating barriers to technology transfers with the add-back rule, the capital tax deduction for undeducted R&D expenditures, and improving the retail sales tax exemption for R&D equipment, as well as introducing a child care tax credit, which is another part of the bill that's very important.


The new Ontario child care tax credit, which began in the 1997 taxation year, is an investment of $40 million in working Ontario families and their children. The new tax credit will assist working families who are not benefiting from the current child care funding. About 90,000 families in this province and, more important, 125,000 children are expected to benefit from the 1997 Ontario child care tax credit. Child care expenses incurred to enable parents to work or attend school full-time will be eligible for this new credit, and that's good news for the working people and those families who are still in school.

For the 1997 tax year, the OCCTC will be at 25% of qualifying expenses to a maximum of $400 per child under the age of seven. The credit will decline in value by 4% of family net income above $20,000 per year. Families with two children under seven will be eligible for the OCCTC up to annual incomes of $40,000. Eligible families will apply for the OCCTC by completing the appropriate section on the Ontario tax credit page in the 1997 tax return and the OCCTC will be paid as part of 1997 tax refunds. The OCCTC will be enriched for subsequent taxation years. In the 1997 budget the minister announced that an additional $100 million will be used to enhance our child care tax credit for working families as the national child care benefit is phased in. These are just some of the parts of the bill that will be tax credits to create jobs right across the province.

The bill further supports small businesses by enhancing and simplifying the business investment tax credit for banks, trust companies, credit unions and caisses populaires, as I mentioned. It allows these financial institutions to earn back their tax when they invest in or lend to small businesses. Again, Mr Speaker, I think that helps you in your riding of Perth, it helps me in my riding of Scarborough Centre and indeed all members across the province.

But this budget bill that is included in the time allocation motion will be part of 30 tax cuts that this government has brought forward since taking office. I think it's important to look back and see the number of tax hikes, because there were 65 tax hikes from 1985 to 1995. There's a little bit of a race across the floor there: one party with 33 tax hikes, another party with 32 tax hikes. What we saw from the last government in five years was 32 tax hikes that brought a net loss in jobs of 10,000 in this province. So tax cuts obviously equal job creation and job figures and people who are actually working in this province, because the legacy of the last NDP government was to hike taxes and drive investment and jobs away from this province.

Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough-Ellesmere): The 33 before that.

Mr Newman: "The 33 before that," says the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, which the Liberal Party brought.

I think it was very important to keep in mind what the finance minister said today when he updated the province on the financial situation of the province, that real economic growth was at 4.4% for 1997. There were 204,000 new private sector jobs created in the last nine months alone, a 27% increase in housing starts this year alone, and that's people who are working, who are building those homes, and people who are working to pay for that first home. I applaud the Minister of Finance for bringing those figures forward.

The information he brought forward today - to think that the deficit for 1997-98 will decline to $5.6 billion. When we took office the deficit in this province was a staggering $11 billion. That's money that is taken away from our future, from our children.

The previous governments were tax-and-spend governments that in the end did not create jobs for the people of Ontario. During the reign of the NDP, from 1990 to 1995, the debt more than doubled; and it tripled in the 10 years between 1985 and 1995. That takes a great deal of money away from our children, and any other money that government could spend.

It's really important to know that in Ontario alone we spend $9 billion a year just to pay the interest on the debt. Think about it: $9 billion to pay interest on debt. To put that $9 billion into perspective, that's about 35% more than the cost of funding all the hospitals in Ontario. Think about that: $9 billion in interest payments is about 35% more than the cost of funding all of Ontario's hospitals this year. Those are staggering figures.

Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): Shameful.

Mr Newman: "Shameful," says the member for Niagara Falls. I couldn't agree with him more. To further put it in perspective, the $9 billion in interest is equivalent to $2,000 for every person who pays personal income tax in Ontario. That's just outrageous. As the finance minister stated today, every dollar that goes to pay interest is a dollar that could have been used to further invest in health care, that could have been used to further invest in education or could have been used to further cut taxes.


Mr Newman: The opposition laughs about cutting taxes. They fail to realize that the revenue of this province actually increases with asking people to pay less tax. Because you have more people working, there's less burden on the taxpayers of this province. They still don't quite get it that tax cuts equal jobs.

It's important to keep in mind that with everything this government does, we are still spending $640,000 more each hour than we take in in revenues. Individuals cannot do that; individuals in their small businesses can't do that; large businesses can't; the government surely can't.

In closing, I will be voting in favour of this motion.

Mr Bradley: I'm very unhappy to have to speak on yet another time allocation motion or, as people who watch the television channel should know, another motion to choke off debate in the Legislative Assembly. I have not seen a more undemocratic bunch of people than I have seen in the Harris administration. This House is becoming quickly irrelevant in terms of our democratic system, because this government insists upon bringing closure motion after closure motion after closure motion to deal with bills.

What is most perturbing about these bills and various motions is that each one is more restrictive of debate, each one has something new which makes it more drastic, more reprehensible and more sinister than the last provision. This particular case is the first time I can ever recall in the history of this Legislature that a committee has been by this kind of motion denied the opportunity to consider a bill which is over 200 pages long, I believe, if you look at the full bill; a bill which amends several other pieces of legislation; a bill which has been characterized by some people as very destructive.

For instance, the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario said this about the piece of legislation that the government is ramming through this afternoon with yet another closure motion; these are people of all political persuasions or no political persuasions, but who are at the local level. They say: "This government wants to amend legislation that hasn't even passed yet. Surely, this illustrates better than anything that this government in its haste is making legislation by the seat of its pants, without proper thought or planning."

That's not an opposition party. That's not somebody who dislikes the Harris government. That's the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario. But if you want to look at the way the government deals with legislation in this House, it fits in with what the current Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Tony Clement, had to say about the way this government is going to operate. I quote him, "The way we have decided to run government is revolutionary and involves change first and then consolidation."


You can see that the government simply moves forward quickly. It doesn't care what anybody else has to say. It's not prepared to modify its legislation at all. This bill, as large as it is, should be subject to amendments in committee. The government has a majority. It can reject those amendments. It would have been very useful to hear from municipalities, many of which are sitting tonight. Having now faced the downloading - I mentioned that Niagara is $25 million short, and this downloading exercise of the provincial government dumping new financial obligations and responsibilities on local governments was supposed to be revenue-neutral, and yet in Niagara, $25 million difference.

In the city of St Catharines tonight, the council will have to decide what it's going to do. It is perturbed about this, it is concerned about this and no matter what the government members try to apologize for and agree with Mike Harris, the independent members of St Catharines city council or Niagara regional council or Port Colborne council, whatever council it happens to be, have to meet the obligations of the municipalities. These are people who have already cut their budgets to the bone. They've been doing it before other levels of government. They have nowhere else they can cut without causing great damage to the municipalities or invoking user fees or raising municipal property taxes.

If you want the blueprint for this, the blueprint is in the state of New Jersey. That's exactly what they did. They cut the state income tax so they could get all the credit for cutting a tax. They dumped the responsibility on the local municipalities and as a result, property taxes have gone up considerably. Everyone knows that property taxes do not take into account a person's ability to pay. A person's ability to pay is taken into account when you have income tax, because the more the person makes, because it's a progressive income tax, the more tax they are going to pay, but if a person is unemployed or ill or has fallen on bad luck, the municipality is not in a position to say they do not have to pay the municipal property taxes.

What you have with this time allocation motion, with this closure motion, is a government that, every day it comes into this House, gets worse in the way it deals with the democratic process. Every editor watching should be ashamed if they have rejected stories that have come from their reporters from this place and others about the rules of this House and the way this government has steamrollered over this House. That is, above all right now, an issue which is extremely important in this province.

This government has not only changed the rules of the House to give the government the upper hand in virtually every circumstance, but having changed the rules, now brings in motions on a routine basis to suspend the rules and to limit debate even further than the draconian new rules permit.

I believe that the Speaker of the House should look very carefully at this motion and at subsequent motions, because this isn't the only time allocation motion the House will have to consider. The government has tabled two more time allocation motions which will, in effect, allow the government with one particular motion to sweep five bills through the Legislature. They had one before that had six bills. One of those bills was passed. With one motion, they will be able to pass five bills.

What you do is render the elected representatives helpless in terms of representing the people of this province. I know there are some people who think this place should be run the way some large corporation is run. I don't think a large corporation, because of the way it operates, should operate under the rules of the Ontario Legislature. It wouldn't make sense. It would be silly to suggest that be the case. But I must say to you, Mr Speaker, it is an equally compelling argument to say that this House should not operate in the relatively undemocratic way, though that's the way it is, a major corporation does. I hope the government members themselves will begin to implore the Premier, if they have any influence with him, or people who have influence in the government to reverse this trend from rendering this House next to a useless institution because of the way the government runs roughshod over the rules it has already passed, rules that heavily favour the government.

The minority in this House and perhaps on many occasions the majority of the people in this province, who on occasion disagree with this government, are having their rights run over by this government because it is efficient.

We get down to the situation where, if we look at history, there were individuals in history who were very heavy-handed. I'm not one who takes to excessive rhetoric in terms of making those comparisons. I say so only in a general sense.

There was one person who had moved a lot of things in his country many years ago and it was said of that person, when people were critical, "Well, at least the trains run on time." In Ontario, unfortunately, the trains will run on time but the democratic process is suffering. I think even people who agree with this government - and there are a number of people who do agree and I respect that very much. I talk to some people out there. I talk to many who disagree, I talk to some who agree with this government, but even those people have a stake in telling this government to stop damaging the democratic process.

This government has a five-year mandate. It's only into its second year of public office. It has plenty of time to pass its legislation, to give it good consideration, to give it detailed analysis, to be very comprehensive in the way it deals with it, to have the input from the public, from experts in the field, to have amendments put to the legislation and considered democratically. Instead, the iron fist is used in this Legislature time and again. Time and again, the government puts the boots to the opposition in this Legislature, as it has this afternoon with this time allocation motion - more ominous, more sinister every time.

I think that the editors of newspapers in this province, the editors of news programs on radio and on television, should wake up and look at what is happening in this House. I know it's dry. I know they will tell their columnists, their reporters, the people who work at Queen's Park, that the public isn't interested in this inside-the-beltway, this inside-the-House issue, that they don't have to worry about that.

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): It's not enough that you're gonna tell the government what to do -

Mr Bradley: But what I'm saying is that this is so important to all of us, never mind the political affiliation and the silly intervention -

Mr Wettlaufer: - you're gonna tell the media.

Mr Bradley: I must say, the silly and ridiculous intervention from the member for Kitchener, who babbles away and doesn't understand that it's about this House.

Whether I agree or not with the government, I believe the government has the right to put forward its legislation. I'm going to disagree sometimes. I believe you have that right and I believe you have a right to debate it and I encourage that full debate in this House and elsewhere. But my worry is the attitude I hear from members like the member for Kitchener, who simply wants to bulldoze ahead, shove aside the opposition and ridicule anybody who would suggest that it's important to have these kinds of debates and these kinds of procedures in this House, ultimately for the best government. Ultimately a government does its best job when it takes its time, when it considers things carefully, when it looks at things in perspective, when it takes into account opinions other than those who advise the government on a political basis or even from the civil service.

I lament very much that this motion has been allowed, first of all, to be considered this afternoon. I, in my opinion, would have said the motion was out of order. I think it's a dangerous motion which has allowed the government to proceed as it is proceeding, especially with tonight, where it'll go into a committee and, in five minutes, simply shove its bill out of committee and back into the House.

I believe the two other motions that I see today, now lumping five bills together and having those bills with one motion considered and passed, is a very dangerous and sinister new wrinkle in the government's plan, and that the government would be better off to take the additional time, come back in January if necessary, to pass this legislation. I don't mind that. I think that would be fair.


Some people complained when the government brought back the House on January 13 and had the House sitting so long throughout the year. I'm not one of the people who complained because the government is entitled to do that. Better to have that happen than to simply have everything shoved into a very few weeks where we can consider legislation.

This House is becoming relatively powerless. The power in this government, as in so many governments, is now being concentrated more and more in the hands of the executive, and not only the executive in terms of the members of the cabinet but the executive in terms of the political advisers and the senior civil service who advise the government.

Each individual member in this House, every time a time allocation motion of this kind with a new wrinkle, each more sinister, each more sweeping than the last, is introduced and passed - the rights of all members of this House and ultimately the people they represent, all members of society - because we are the only people they can get at; we are the people who are democratically elected - are abrogated and diminished whenever we allow a time allocation motion of this kind, a closure motion of this kind, to pass in this House.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Algoma.

Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: According to the orders of the House, when was the vote to be called?


Mr Wildman: That means, Speaker, we have approximately seven minutes to present our case in this House. Some members of the House I think genuinely don't understand why the members of the opposition are upset. I think they honestly don't understand it. That may be because many of them have never served in opposition, I suppose. They will, some of them. Some of them won't be re-elected. They will rue the day, no matter who is elected as government, because when you diminish the role of the minority, you also diminish the role of the individual members, and that includes the individual backbenchers in the majority.

This is a time allocation motion which renders useless one of the orders of the House, standing order 71(c), which allows individual members, 12 of them, to stand to refer bills to committee for consideration. That was done last week with Bill 164, a bill, I remind you, that was only introduced in this House about two weeks ago. This is not a bill that has been on the order paper for a long time. This is not a bill that has been stalled. This is not a bill that has been debated at length. This is a bill that was just introduced in late November, introduced with the arrogance of power by saying: "We just introduced this. We recognize that it's 199 pages. It's a very complex tax bill that includes amendments to other bills that are before the House. We recognize that, but we need it passed before the end of the session, before Christmas."

The fact that there won't be any real debate, that there will not be any consideration of this bill, doesn't matter because the bureaucrats, the gnomes in the Ministry of Finance, have deemed it necessary to have this bill before the end of the year. So we end up with a situation with a time allocation motion that deals not just with third reading but with the committee stage.

Frankly, I disagree with the time allocation motion on third reading because there hasn't been extensive debate on this bill; it hasn't been stalled in the House. But I cannot understand at all the committee portion of this time allocation motion. What it basically says is the committee can convene as per the direction of the House, but the only thing the committee can do is hear a motion to refer the bill back to the House. There will be no consideration of the bill in committee. There will be no opportunity for amendment in committee. There will be no opportunity for amendment at all.

That really is the arrogance of power, because only an arrogant person could believe that in a bill that is this complex and this lengthy, there could be no mistakes and no need for amendment.


Mr Wildman: I suppose it's like talking to a wall to try and explain why members of the opposition really believe it is necessary to have committee stage to actually consider the possibility that there could be something that needs to be amended in this extensive and complex bill. But no, no. Those bureaucrats in the ministry have advised the Minister of Finance: "There's nothing wrong with this bill. We can pass it. There's nothing wrong with it. Be assured, Treasurer, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this bill. It does exactly what you want it to do and there can be no mistakes."

The mistake here is that this process demeans this House. It demeans the democratic process. It says that individual members don't count. It says that it doesn't matter whether or not members have had the opportunity to debate and consider a bill; the minister in charge and his gnomes think they should get it through, so therefore it should be gotten through. In my view, that demeans not only the role of individual members on this side of the aisle; it demeans the role of individual members on that side.

What does this time allocation motion say to the government members? It says, "Your only role is to hold up your hand, Kremlin-style, and vote the right way." Talk about democratic centralism.

There will be one motion put in this committee to report the bill back to the House, with no consideration, not looking at anything in the bill.

The government House leader mentioned earlier that there had been time allocation motions that had moved bills out of committee in the past. That's quite true, but it was only after considerable debate in the committee that such motions were put. This motion pre-empts the committee. It stymies the committee; it prevents the committee from doing the work that the House directed it to do. It makes this whole process a sick joke. It doesn't matter what individual members think. It doesn't matter if there's opposition, if there's disagreement. It doesn't even matter if there are genuine questions to be asked about various portions of this bill, questions that should be clarified, because this government doesn't have time for debate. This government doesn't have time for disagreement.

This government doesn't have time for questions. All this government has time to do is to have people vote the right way, to act like the trained seals that too often government ministers believe their backbenchers to be. That's all this government has time for.

So despite the fact that the parliamentary assistant says the bill was first mentioned back in the budget, the bill wasn't introduced until late November. Now it's time-allocated and the time allocation motion pre-empts the rights of the individual members who referred that bill to committee, because all the committee can do is order the bill back for reporting to the House. It makes this whole process a sick joke and a process that I and my colleagues do not intend to participate in.

The Acting Speaker: Mr Sterling has moved government notice of motion number 59. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. The motion is carried.

It being past 6 o'clock, this House is adjourned until 6:30 of the clock tonight.

The House adjourned at 1800.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.