36th Parliament, 1st Session

L262a - Tue 16 Dec 1997 / Mar 16 Déc 1997














































The House met at 1333.




Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): Last Friday, when this Legislature was not sitting, the Minister of Finance announced the fifth edition of his provincial downloading numbers. For Ottawa-Carleton's 11 municipalities and regional government, it means $229 million in additional costs with a funding shortfall of some $43 million according to the minister's own figures. Clearly, for the taxpayers of Ottawa-Carleton, this is nowhere near revenue neutral. However, what adds insult to injury is the total absence of any transitional funding for Ottawa-Carleton.

The minister's downloading announcement included $1.3 billion in transitional funding for Ontario municipalities, including the $570-million community reinvestment fund, the $77-million special circumstances fund, the $75-million special transition assistance fund, the $50-million municipal restructuring fund and the $573-million municipal capital and operating restructuring fund. But none for Ottawa-Carleton.

I'm joined by my colleagues Richard Patten, MPP Ottawa Centre; Bernard Grandmaître, MPP Ottawa East; the honourable Dalton McGuinty, Leader of the Opposition and MPP Ottawa South; and Gilles Morin, MPP Carleton East, in saying that it is totally unfair that Ottawa-Carleton, with over 8% of Ontario's population, receives absolutely none of the $1.3 billion in transitional funding to help ease the cost of downloading.

Quite frankly, we are being shafted. We call on the Harris government to honour its promise of revenue neutrality and provide taxpayers in Ottawa-Carleton with their fair share of the $1.3 billion in transitional funding.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This government is engaged in a cruel attack on seniors across Niagara region. The community care access centre in Niagara reports that it has had to drastically cut its provision of home care services because this government simply refuses to fund the increased demand for home care in Niagara, which has one of the most aging populations in all of Ontario; indeed, in all of Canada.

This isn't just about percentages. Let me tell you what it means in real terms to real people: our parents and our grandparents. Gertrude F., a resident of St Catharines, is 80 years old. She has suffered multiple strokes, she's barely ambulatory and definitely housebound. Prior to this government's attack on seniors, she received a modest six hours of home care a week. That home care meant cleaning her room, changing her bedding and bathing her. That home care has now been reduced to one hour a week: an 80-year-old woman, suffering from the affliction caused by those strokes and old age, receiving but one speedy sponge bath a week, and risking not even having her bedding changed on a weekly basis. I tell you, that's nothing for this government to be proud of.

In its passion to provide a tax break for the wealthiest of Ontario, it is attacking seniors in St Catharines, Welland, Thorold, across Niagara region. I tell you, the people of this province had better make a decision: Is it Mike Harris or is it our parents' and grandparents' welfare?


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am pleased to inform all members of this House about another positive business expansion in my riding. Craaytech Painted Plastics of Peterborough, a maker of custom mouldings and specialists in the area of painting plastics, recently announced their operation would be moving to a new location in the city, a location which is three times the size of its current plant.

Craaytech president Mr Paul Peterson indicated that an increase in the company's business machine and hardware production fields warranted the move.

Craaytech is yet another example of a good Ontario company reaping the rewards of an improved and vibrant economy, so much that this new expansion has led to 10 new workers being hired, bringing the total workforce to 45.

In September we heard from Ontario's finance minister that consumer confidence in the province has increased for the sixth straight quarter. Customers and a great many companies in this province are experiencing positive economic growth, and Craaytech Painted Plastics is no exception.

Please join me in congratulating president Paul Peterson and all of the workers at Craaytech for their hard work in making this company's expansion a great success story.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : La semaine dernière j'ai fait parvenir une lettre au ministre du Développement économique, du Commerce et du Tourisme afin d'inscrire Prescott et Russell au sein d'une initiative de partenariat Accès aux télécommunications.

Je veux apporter à l'attention de la Chambre le fait que certaines communautés de Prescott et Russell, comme les régions de Hawkesbury et Embrun, ont parmi les pires services de téléphone de la province. Les fournisseurs de l'Internet reçoivent plusieurs plaintes, les utilisateurs de l'Internet sont frustrés et les gens d'affaires ratent des opportunités à cause des équipements démodés.

Bell Canada a fait des améliorations et a promis de poursuivre la mise à jour de son équipement. Cependant je crois que, avec ce programme d'accès aux télécommunications, il serait possible de faire progresser ce dossier plus rapidement.

The minister says that the information highway is transforming the ways in which Ontarians live and work. I have read about the project put forward in Lanark county and I want the rural communities of Prescott and Russell to get the same kind of help from the TAP initiative. I want to see all communities in my riding take full advantage of what the information highway has to offer. As I wrote in my letter, this is a project that needs to go ahead as soon as possible and therefore requires the minister's quick intervention, considering the rapid evolution of the information highway.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): Yesterday representatives of the Ontario Coalition Against Gambling Expansion were here at Queen's Park. They were visiting with MPPs, talking to them about their concerns, from the local community perspective, about the expansion of gambling in the province.

Also yesterday in the House, questions were again put to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I have to tell you, as someone who has been raising this issue on behalf of the constituents of the Beaches, one of the communities that has been designated by the provincial government to have a charitable casino foisted on us, I was very disturbed by the answer the minister gave. He said, if I can paraphrase him: "Why would we listen to those referendums that were held in the communities? They were municipal referendums. They were municipal plebiscites. Surely we should be dealing with the municipalities."

When this government chose the 30-some-odd sites across the province that they were going to force charitable casinos on, they didn't consult with the municipalities, they didn't consult with the residents. They did a marketing study and determined that that's where the money was.

I have to say that these casinos are very different than the commercial casinos, where you draw in tourism dollars. These casinos by their very design, if you read the consultant's report, are to be built to take money out of local economies. That's local businesses, local communities, local families that will suffer.

This government should begin to listen. If you believe in referendums, listen to the results, listen to the people. Put a moratorium on progressing with these charitable casinos.


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): This government has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving the province's health care system by eliminating administrative waste and duplication and enhancing patient care services. We've always been receptive to innovative community-based ideas and how this process should be undertaken and accomplished.

It gives me great pleasure to share with the members of this House the details regarding the exercise completed by Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital in terms of restructuring its facilities.

In 1995, the third floor of the hospital became vacant following restructuring. The board felt that an alternative use for the facilities could be found. The Ministry of Health approved the board's plan to convert the floor into office space for community agencies involved in health and social services as well as physicians' offices.

As of February 1, 1998, the entire third floor of the Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital will be occupied by a satellite office of the children's aid society, a satellite office of the community care access centre of London-Middlesex, Family Service London in Middlesex County, Madame Vanier Children's Services, SMGH Speech-Language Pathology and a variety of doctors' and surgeons' offices.

Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital, as a result of its restructuring, developed and implemented its own solution without additional cost to the taxpayer.

This is a success story for the individuals who spearheaded this exercise, and as MPP for Middlesex, I extend my sincere congratulations to them on their achievement.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): To the minister responsible for seniors: Thousands of couples over the age of 65 are involuntarily separated because their spouse resides in a nursing home. In most cases, the spouse living in the nursing home has his or her income pay the care facility and they are eligible for the $2 user fee for prescription drugs. This often leaves the spouse remaining at home with an income below the $16,000 base and results in these seniors having to pay the $100 deductible user fee and the higher $6.11 user fee.

These seniors live at home alone and are involuntarily separated from their spouse by circumstance. As a result, they no longer have the same income as when their spouse was living with them. However, they're being charged a significantly higher drug dispensing fee than their spouse who is living in a care facility. We've been advised by the Ontario drug benefit plan that only legal separation or divorce is recognized for each to be considered on their own.

Minister, I call on you to take action and correct this inequity. In the situation I've described, the federal government considers the couple separated. Couples who are involuntarily separated not only lose the companionship of their spouse but also lose the economic benefit of cohabitation. This places a hardship on that segment of the population. I urge you to do the compassionate and correct thing and recognize involuntary separation, the same as legal separation or divorce.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): This statement is directed towards the Minister of Labour. Hans Brasch, a retired miner from Inco, has written a fascinating book called A Miner's Chronicle: Inco Ltd and the Unions 1944-1997.

This book clearly describes the constant danger in which the miners worked. Mr Brasch has documented the deaths of 674 workers since the turn of the century in the mines around Sudbury. One of those workers was a 13-year-old boy who worked at Inco's predecessor company. In those days there were no age limits and few safety rules. Industrial accidents were commonplace and relief for miners' families rarely occurred.

In the early 1940s workers fought to organize and bring unions into the mines. Mr Brasch makes clear how important the unions were in improving workplace health and safety. Federal and provincial governments slowly realized they had a serious responsibility to regulate industry and to ensure employees were not abused and could work safely.

The NDP government continued to improve working conditions by passing Bill 40, which was among the most progressive labour legislation in Canada.

What a change from this government. They repealed our progressive legislation and brought in Bill 7, the most worthless piece of legislation I have ever seen.

I want to personally thank Hans Brasch for this important piece of work.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): It is with great pleasure that I stand today to share a good-news story about a business on the brink of expansion in my riding.

First, I'd like to tell all the members in here that in the back room in the lobby there is water for them right here from a company in my riding and there's free water for everybody in the back rooms if you'd like to get some. They're bottles of Gibraltar Springs natural spring water for each member straight from the top of Blue Mountain and captured by Gibraltar Springs in the bottles being placed before you, but they're in the back room right now.

Gibraltar Springs, in the heart of Grey county, has been in production and sales of this natural resource for three years and public demand is on the rise. To meet this demand the company is investing $1.2 million in state-of-the-art equipment, constructing a new 12,000-square-foot expansion and trying to hire additional employees. As Gibraltar Springs draws its labour locally and purchases many supplies and services in Grey county area, the spinoff from its continued growth is good news for the community and in turn good news for the province.

Gibraltar Springs water contains less salt than any other bottled spring water. It is ozonated, bottled and sealed at the source and boasts a shelf life of two years. One sip and you'll know why the US export market for this product is booming. Even the Americans want to taste the good life in Grey county. My congratulations and best wishes to the staff and management of Gibraltar Springs for continued success in the future.



The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Ottawa-Rideau.

Mr Garry J. Guzzo (Ottawa-Rideau): It's the first time you've spoken to me in a low voice for a while. That's why I was taken aback. I apologize, sir.

The Speaker: You have to read the report. I don't want to hear about the voices in your head. Go ahead.

Mr Guzzo: I beg leave to present a report from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and move its adoption.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

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 Speaker: Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? No?

All those in favour, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to the order of the House dated December 15, 1997, the bill is therefore ordered for third reading.



Mr Carroll moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 177, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act / Projet de loi 177, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement .

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

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): This bill is designed to amend the Environmental Protection Act to require that all gasoline used in Ontario for motor vehicles has a 6% minimum content of ethanol, an environmentally friendly, clean-burning and renewable alternative to fossil fuel. Ethanol-blended fuels mean a cleaner environment, less dependence on crude oil, an expanded market and economic opportunities for rural Ontario.




Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier. Premier, I want to ask you a question on behalf of the people of Toronto. Quite simply, it's this: What have you got against Toronto? This week, you delivered the latest body blow. Despite your solemn promise to the contrary, the people of Toronto are now going to be hit over the head with a $164-million property tax hike. This morning the mayor was here, and he told us this translates into an average $200 property tax hike. It turns out that Toronto's share of the total provincial download is 33%. The important thing here is to compare that with the fact that only 22% of the population lives in the city of Toronto. Quite simply, Premier, I have to ask you, what have you got against the people of Toronto?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I think all Torontonians and all Ontarians and certainly all members of the Legislature would know that I've moved my family to Toronto. We go to public schools here in Toronto. We are enjoying what I think is the greatest city in the world very much. I might add that's not to take anything away from the great city of North Bay, Ontario, where I also have a residence.

I want to say very directly to the leader of the Liberal Party that Toronto has never seen such low tax increases in such booming times, with such job creation, since we threw you guys out of office.

Mr McGuinty: The Premier lends great comfort to the people of Toronto. It's clear that he doesn't understand that if Ontario is going to do well, so must Toronto. Put another way, Ontario can't do well unless Toronto does well. This is a global economy, and Toronto now has to compete with major cities from across the planet, not only within our province. Right here in Toronto, we're continuing to lose jobs throughout your term of office to the surrounding areas. A major factor in locating a business, as the Premier well knows, is the taxes. Quite simply, why are you causing taxes to increase in Toronto? Once again, what have you got against the people of Toronto?

Hon Mr Harris: I think you will realize that we do not believe any action we've taken would cause an increase in the taxes in Toronto. The only tax increases I have seen over the first two years of our office, and I stand to be corrected, I believe have come from spiralling education tax increases. As you know, we've stopped that from ever happening, not only in Toronto but all across the province over the next few years.

When I think back to the Liberal times, the massive property tax increases, the offloading, the commercial concentration tax, taxation and spending that cut the heart out of Toronto, and here we are, putting the heart back into Toronto; we're putting jobs back into Toronto; we're putting growth back into Toronto; we're putting hope and opportunity back into Toronto. The future has never been brighter since back in 1985, when we had the unfortunate electoral event of seeing the Liberals elected to destroy not only Ontario but particularly the city of Toronto.

Mr McGuinty: It's perfectly clear that the Premier simply does not understand the impact of his policies on the people of Toronto. First of all, he forced the megacity on them against their will. That represents a huge challenge in terms of preserving services and the quality of life. Now you're hitting them over the head with a $164-million property tax hike. This leaves the municipal representatives only two choices, and you should understand this: Either they hike property taxes and scare even more jobs away or they cut services and reduce the quality of life enjoyed by the people here and cut the heart out of the city of Toronto. That's the net result of your policies. Once again, what have you got against the people of Toronto?

Hon Mr Harris: Actually there is a third alternative, and that is called doing more for less; that is called facilitating doing more for less. We had six mayors, five of whom are on the new council that will come in in January. One is mayor. Four others signed the document delivered to me that said: "We can find $240 million in savings. We can deliver all the programs and we can find $240 million in savings." We have allowed them to take a significant portion of those savings for tax cuts. We ask them to get down to the job of doing the work, as every other municipality is doing, as hospitals are doing, as school boards are doing, as this government has done in leading by example - and yes, we're asking them to find three cents of waste on the dollar, and we know they can do that.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My second question is for the Premier as well. I want to ask you a question on behalf of Ontario students and their families. Their reality up until yesterday was that students were facing an average $25,000 debt load when they finished college and university. You had increased their tuition fees by 30%, and they were facing unemployment - youth unemployment in the province was getting close to 20%; that's been on the rise steadily since you took office - so yesterday those families and those students held up their arms to you, and said, "Help us." You know what you said to them? "We're going to help you by allowing universities and colleges to raise tuition fees by another 20%." You told Ontario students and their families that you're going to be responsible for increasing tuition fees when all is factored in, and it's compounded by 60%. That's been your response to youth unemployment in Ontario.

My question is quite simply this: Why are you making it harder for Ontario's youth to pursue post-secondary studies when we all know that's what they're going to have to do in order to get a job?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): There are a few things I want to put on the table and the Minister of Education may have a few things he wishes to talk about as well.

We recognize that student debt is a problem. That's why it was one of the number one priorities of premiers and first ministers across the country, and a commitment by finance ministers, federally and provincially, and a commitment by premiers and the Prime Minister at our meetings last week in Ottawa, that we would deal, this budget year, with the problem of total student debt. In the meantime, we have added $600 million to a bursary fund for low-income students. We have insisted that of all tuition fee increases, many of which are optional, 30% of those go to help low-income students. We are facilitating more students the opportunity to go to college and university, and we are holding universities and colleges accountable by saying they must find the wherewithal to fund each and every student in this province who meets the qualifications.

Mr McGuinty: I can understand why the Premier would be interested in disguising what happened yesterday. The fact of the matter is that he said tuition fees are going up another 20% in Ontario; it's as simple as that. Added to the 30% that he has already allowed for, that he has already implemented in Ontario, we're talking about a compounded increase of 60% at a time when youth unemployment in Ontario is 17%. At a time when Ontario families are asking themselves, "How can we afford to send the kids to school?" this Premier says, "I'm increasing tuition fees by 60%."

My question to the Premier is, how can he look those families and those students in the eye and say, "I'm going to help you by increasing tuition fees by 60%"?

Hon Mr Harris: I know the Minister of Education wants a chance to respond.


Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): A couple of facts off the top: It's interesting that when the Liberals were in power they increased tuition fees by 35%, but I guess there's a different view of things in this day and age.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I can't hear you.


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon David Johnson: The Smith Advisory Panel on Future Directions for Postsecondary Education has focused on excellence and accessibility, which this government is doing through its actions: excellence in allowing universities some flexibility to deal with the situation but linking any increases with enriching classroom experience and enriching curriculum opportunities, and accessibility by requiring 30% of any tuition increases to go towards assistance to students who need it.

In fact some $57 million has already been distributed since this government has been in power to students in need, through this 30% provision, and the opportunity fund which to date has some $600 million will also be distributed to students in need and will improve accessibility in our post-secondary institutions.

Mr McGuinty: Let's understand the dynamic here that the Premier and the Minister of Education have put into play. First of all, they take $400 million away from college and university funding. That's a 15% cut right across the board. Our colleges and universities are starved for revenues. We are now last-place funders in Canada. We fund our students on a per capita basis lower than any other province in the Dominion.

Last year 48 out of 50 American states increased funding to their publicly funded universities. They understand what the Premier should understand: If we are going to get ahead in a knowledge-based global economy, we've got to invest in our young people. It's as simple as that. Now what they've done is cash-starved our colleges and universities and what is effectively happening is our students are funding the tax cuts. That's exactly what's happening in Ontario today.

I am going to ask you a question again on behalf of Ontario families and students. How can you hit them over the head with a 60% tuition fee hike at a time when they're asking for your help?

Hon David Johnson: The Minister of Finance has indicated that the support for universities, colleges and students will rise some $80 million over the next two years, from $2.76 billion to $2.84 billion. That extra support is going to our students across the province of Ontario. But in addition, there is the 30% increase, the 30% associated with any tuition increase, which will go to assist the students in need. Students who are able to afford a little more will pay a little more. Those students who are not able to afford the basic tuition will get more help than they've ever had in the past, more help through the 30% portion of the tuition increase, more help through the student opportunity fund, some $600 million.

There will be more help to students in need. There will be greater accessibility and the excellence will be assisted in our universities and colleges through the extra funds.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Premier. This morning the mayor of the new city of Toronto and several city councillors from the new city of Toronto came here to brief MPPs on the impact of your government's downloading on to the new city of Toronto.

What was truly insulting is that absolutely no one from your government, no one from your cabinet, none of your MPPs came to that meeting. You're downloading over $164 million on to Toronto taxpayers and no one from your caucus or your government came to listen to them today. Premier, why did no one from your government come to the meeting? Don't you think that the new mayor of Toronto and the new councillors of Toronto have anything worth listening to?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): First New Democrats accused me of meeting too much with Mel Lastman; now you accuse me of not meeting enough with Mel Lastman. From 10 to 12 today was the scheduled time for our final caucus. I indicated that to Mr Lastman when he said he wanted to come at 11. I said, "If you want to come before or you want to come after, we can be available."

In fact, Mr Leach did meet with a number of officials before the 11 o'clock meeting. The Minister of Finance has offered to meet, officials are meeting and I stand ready to meet. But I did have a small commitment to 82 - 81, with the Speaker removed - of the most important people to the province of Ontario, and that is this caucus that has brought the marvellous change: the jobs, the hope, the opportunities, the prosperity and putting the heart back into the city of Toronto.

Mr Hampton: I always thought that the most important people were the people we represent. I'm sure the 2.3 million people who live in Toronto will really appreciate learning that they're not very important to you, that they're not important at all. But one of the questions that the new mayor of Toronto and the city councillors wanted to ask is this: They're being downloaded upon to the tune of $163 million a year, yet they were totally shut out of your so-called community reinvestment fund and they were totally shut out of your so-called special adjustment fund; they haven't been able to find out what the criteria were for those funds, so they don't even know why they were shut out. Can you tell us what the criteria were for those two adjustment funds? Can you tell us why the 2.3 million people of Toronto were shut out from those adjustment funds?

Hon Mr Harris: I know that the Minister of Finance can.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): The criteria for the community reinvestment fund were basically that some municipalities in this province - and he should know better than anybody else, coming from the area of the province that he does - simply do not have the tax base and the financial resources at their disposal to deal with some of the costs they are going to have to assume. Larger municipalities are more able to find cost efficiencies because of (a) the size of their operation and (b) the tax base, especially the commercial and industrial tax base, that they have at their disposal. Coming from the Fort Frances, Rainy River area of the province I would assume that you know that better than anybody else.

Mr Hampton: I was asking for the criteria by which Toronto was shut out. What I gather from the minister's answer is that 22% of the people are going to carry 33% of the downloading effort.

There's something else you talked about yesterday. You announced that you've got a $786-million restructuring fund, as you call it. I suspect it's a slush fund, a slush fund that you intend to throw around in the next year to buy yourself out of political trouble. But besides that $786-million slush fund, you're taking over $600 million from municipalities.

Minister, can you explain this: Why not take your slush fund and apportion that to municipalities so that they are dealt with fairly? Why do you download over $600 million on to municipalities at the same time as you've got a $780-million-and-some slush fund?

Hon Mr Eves: First of all, it is not a slush fund; it is a sum set aside for restructuring costs, the same as we did last year. It's $900 million. I would say to the leader of the third party as I said to the media yesterday, with the pressures we have in the health care system particularly, the restructuring costs and capital costs identified by Dr Sinclair's commission, and with respect to education in Ontario, there are plenty of significant restructuring cost pressures that I'm sure will easily be able to find places in areas of priority to Ontarians to spend that $900 million in restructuring costs that, in the long run, will benefit all people in the province.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): Back to the Minister of Finance. It's intriguing to learn that you're going to take $600 million from municipalities, yet you've got this fund sitting over there with $800 million in it that you're simply going to allocate as you see fit. I don't see the justice or the fairness in any of this, and I don't think any other people see it either.

You also announced yesterday that you're going to set up a two-year funding scenario for schools, hospitals and your other transfer partners. Then we looked through this blue book and we couldn't find the number anywhere for hospitals. Hospitals have no idea how much money they're going to have to operate on next year. Can you tell us, Minister, how much money hospitals will have to provide health care next year?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I can tell you that we have increased the amount of operational funding in health care from just under $18 billion this year to $18.2 billion the year after and $18.3 billion the year after that. Those are operational funds. Obviously, the exact amounts for individual hospitals in the province will be dealt with by the Minister of Health in due course.

Mr Hampton: This gets to the heart of the problem. We know this government signed a deal with doctors and we know that deal with doctors is going to cost the province about $250 million a year, about what you've put into the health care budget. So don't try to play the $250 million four ways. That's going in to pay for the higher fee adjustment for doctors. If you take that out, the health care funding doesn't cover inflation, doesn't cover a growing population and doesn't cover an aging population.

Since that kind of shortfall is developing and you said in your document yesterday that you were going to give hospitals a two-year funding envelope, and since there's no new money, they want to know how much money they are going to have to work with this year to provide the health care services that people need. It's nowhere in the blue book you released yesterday. How much is it?

Hon Mr Eves: The announcement yesterday was not intended as a specific announcement for every single hospital in the province. Surely the member must understand that. We inherited a health care system where the operational funding was in the neighbourhood of $17.5 billion a year. We've increased that to date to about $18 billion a year. We have committed that it will be no less than $18.2 billion the year after and $18.3 billion the year after that.

I think his very question, though, identifies some of the pressures on the health care system we have in Ontario, exactly why in his previous question we talked about $900 million being set aside for restructuring and capital costs that will have to be directed, in my opinion, in the priority areas of health care and education in the province.

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

Hon Mr Eves: I think we have increased health care funding significantly in the province. We understand it is a priority for Ontarians and we will continue to develop -

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Hampton: Here is the scenario that the Minister of Health is setting up. This government announced in 1995 that they were cutting $1.3 billion from hospitals. So far they've cut almost $800 million from hospitals. They announced this summer that they weren't going to take the further $500 million this year but they refused to come clean with hospitals across the province as to exactly what funding they will have for this next year.

The minister comes in here yesterday and brags that he's going to increase health funding, yet when you look at the numbers, there is in fact going to be a cut. The doctors have already spoken for the little bit of new money that's coming in. Your health budget doesn't keep pace with inflation, it doesn't keep pace with the growing population and it doesn't keep pace with an aging population. That means the home care operators, the community care operators, the long-term-care operators and the hospitals are all going to have to compete for less money.

Hospitals want to know how much you are going to cut them by. They can tell there is no new money here. How much are you going to cut the hospitals by? Tell them, so they have some idea how they are going to manage this in the new year.

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the third party very directly, hospitals will not be cut next year.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health, who hopefully can answer more directly, about the circumstances that affect the health system. We have in Ontario a Mike Harris health care system that is cutting care away from individuals, individuals like Kim Taylor, who is a young mother with epilepsy in Ottawa, and you're going to take away two days worth of home care from her. You're going to take that away to save money.

You're also going to take away care from an 88-year-old who had a stroke, whose daughter writes to you that the reason for the cuts to home care, according to your staff, is to stay within budget. Patient needs and family support needs do not appear to be part of the equation. Government cuts to home care and health care are seriously affecting the lives of her father, herself and her family.

Minister, will you stand in your place today and give a guarantee that this man, Mr Jesus Leon, and Kim Taylor will receive continued home care?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): To the member opposite, my assistant deputy minister met last evening with the executive director of the Ottawa CCAC and we have indicated to them that there is to be no reduction in services. They have been advised and they will be notifying their clients accordingly. We're also going to be working with the CCAC to ensure that they do use best practices because, as you well know, they do get an adequate share of money. If we take a look at other jurisdictions, they are doing very, very well per capita.

Mr Kennedy: The minister has told us that at the eleventh hour she's going to give funding back to some of the families. I want to get the same assurance today for people in Niagara region; for an elderly couple, Michael and Mildred, 84 years old, who are undergoing surgery and are being told they are going to lose their care. They are going to have to depend on themselves or be left alone.

Minister, there is no magnanimity on your part. There is $75 million you've taken out of Ottawa. There is $30 million you've taken away from the health care system in Niagara. You've created these needs and now you're cutting back and trying to compare it to somewhere else. These are real people, Minister.

How are we to believe what you're going to do, Minister, when last year you promised all kinds of money? Your ministry said they would give more money for home care. Instead, to these people, to Michael and Mildred, they need to know you cut $4 million last year out of home care. You didn't increase it, so why should we believe you now? Will you guarantee today that Michael and Mildred will get continued home care and you won't take it away from them?

Hon Mrs Witmer: If you take a look at the situation, we actually have committed to invest an additional $170 million into home care. We have put $5 million -


Hon Mrs Witmer: As I've just indicated, we have and we are reinvesting $170 million into community care. These are additional dollars.

I want you to also know that as far as demand for service is concerned, obviously it continues to increase. In fact, we have actually increased spending on home care in this province by 55% over the last five years and we're going to continue to work with the CCACs throughout this province. We are endeavouring to make sure that each community has equal funding. I guess I would ask you, do you want me to remove -

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



Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is also for the Minister of Health. Minister, your admission that the government has no vision for health care is quite astonishing when we look at the changes you've already made in the health care system.

Today I want to ask you about your plans for health care delivery in the north. Health officials in the north are very clear that the benchmarks laid out in the northern and rural health care framework are not appropriate in the vast regions of the north, where a 40-kilometre trip between hospitals is rare. They speculate that using the definition in the framework, the north would have only two class C hospitals rather than the six or seven which operate now. Moreover, you say you will let the district health councils do the planning but you've thrown them into disarray by restructuring them at the same time. Then there's the wild card of the health care restructuring commission, which apparently overrides all other decision-making when it comes to its directions on restructuring and reinvestment.

Minister, tell us, does your vision of health care in the north bear any relation to reality at all and will you guarantee that the decisions on restructuring will meet the unique needs of northern communities?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Yes, I certainly can assure you that we're going to continue to work with all of those individuals in rural and northern communities to ensure that the needs of their populations are addressed. I also want to share with you the fact that the benchmarks are not yet final.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Let me be a bit more specific and focused. I've been meeting with the health care coalition in Sault Ste Marie and just last week I visited the Elliot Lake hospital with Sister Sarah Quackenbush. They are concerned about their diminishing ability to deliver the health care that their citizens need. This very disturbing overlap of jurisdictions and lack of any clear direction and agreed-upon benchmarks has them even more concerned.

In Sault Ste Marie we've been restructuring for about six years now and some say that we've done too much. The hospitals have applied to your ministry for money announced in this year's budget by the finance minister to help in that. Will you at the very least agree today to make sure that money flows so that there's no more stress to the system of hospitals in Sault Ste Marie and area?

Hon Mrs Witmer: We certainly are aware of the fact that throughout the province there are hospitals that have very differing needs. We're quite prepared to meet with the individuals involved and certainly see if we can address some of the issues of concern to them.


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Grey county has reached the final stages for approval of its new official plan by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Unfortunately, there is one obstacle standing in their way: the Minister of Agriculture. Your ministry has a province-wide policy stating that minimum acceptable farm size is 100 acres. According to Sharon Johnston, a ministry official, 50-acre rural lots can't be considered bona fide farms.

Minister, why are you turning your back on this government's commitment to allow municipalities flexibility to meet local circumstances, forcing Grey county to go to the OMB?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): It's always a pleasure to hear from my colleague from Grey, who represents some of the best farms you'll find anywhere in Ontario.

As my colleague and as members of this Legislature know, the government has taken steps to allow municipalities to take more of the decisions that affect them and take them out of Queen's Park.

We repealed the previous government's land use planning policy and replaced it with a one-window approach to streamline the approvals and process planning decisions. Through this new one-window planning system, the role of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is to provide technical advice and comments to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on planning matters.

I certainly will work with my colleague from Grey to make sure that we can meet some of the needs that are facing his farmers.

Mr Murdoch: According to the report of the Mike Harris Task Force on Rural Economic Development, any changes to provincial planning legislation must realize that rural Ontario is not a uniform region where municipalities have uniform priorities. Individual municipalities must not be limited in their options for determining appropriate growth and development strategy.

Bill 20 was implemented with the one-window approach to streamline the approvals process and give municipalities greater flexibility in their planning decisions.

Also worth noting is that the Grey County Federation of Agriculture actively participated throughout the entire official process and did not file objection based on lot size or any other issues.

Minister, I want you to tell us today that you will help Grey county in this problem so that they won't have to take their plan to the OMB. In the past, the government used to do that; now my municipality is going to have to do that, unless you can get control of Sharon Johnston.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: We appreciate that there has been a lot of discussion in Grey county. There's been a slight bit of disagreement from a number of municipal politicians and from the federation of agriculture, and that's very healthy. I think the discussion and some disagreement -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): That's not even intelligent heckling.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: I had the opportunity of checking the statistics for 1996. They show that in Grey county there are 3,134 farms, and some 572, or 18%, have less than 70 acres, so that indeed does provide some startup real estate for those who want to become farmers.


Hon Mr Villeneuve: That's not a joke. That's very important, because if we don't have farmers start up, our city people will be a little short of food. I know you people really don't care about that, but OMAFRA is fully supportive of the one-window approach. I certainly fully intend to work with my colleague from Grey to try and solve the dilemma.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Hundreds of thousands of teachers, parents and students have tried to tell you that your education Bill 160 is a bad bill. Now it seems even you are recognizing it's a bad bill. You're holding off making some parts of it law, at least until you're under a little less pressure.

Specifically, you're holding off on your decision to punish principals and vice-principals by stripping them of all their rights and their seniority as teachers if they choose to remain as principals and vice-principals and not return to the classroom. Obviously, you are afraid you're going to lose a court challenge on this and you're trying to avoid the embarrassment of yet another loss. But you are still planning to force principals and vice-principals to make their choice on April 1. The only difference is that you're leaving them hanging until March 31, the day before they have to make their decision, before they know for sure whether you're going to go ahead with this. Why do you not just repeal this part of the bill and let principals and vice-principals continue as effective educational leaders?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): It's not unusual to proclaim different aspects of a bill on different dates, particularly for a bill of this size. For example, the class size restrictions and instructional time aspects will not come into effect until September 1 of next year.

In terms of the principals and vice-principals, we thought it prudent to go through a consulting process, as I think I've mentioned in this House a number of times, perhaps even in response to your very own questions. We will, through a work group, be consulting on employment conditions for principals and vice-principals over the next three months, and that aspect of the bill will be proclaimed on March 31. I think that's just prudent planning. We intend to proceed with the bill and the proclamation on that particular date because it avoids the conflict that principals and vice-principals find themselves in today.

Mrs McLeod: You passed a law and then you hold it over their heads dangling while you carry out something you want to call a consultation. Minister, you have created incredible confusion and enormous anger in the way you've dealt with principals and vice-principals. You were going to leave them alone until they dared to protest against your government's attacks on education, and then you changed your bill to punish them by stripping them of their rights as teachers and forcing them to decide on April 1 whether to return to the classroom.

Now you've thrown the whole situation into limbo. You could change your mind again before this bill becomes law, and, Minister, we hope you do change your mind. But on January 1 negotiations for new contracts begin. Again, that's part of your law. Principals and vice-principals will now be part of the bargaining unit for three months of those negotiations because they are still in the bargaining unit while this hangs over their heads. Will you honour any terms and conditions for principals and vice-principals that are negotiated with boards before March 31?

Hon David Johnson: In terms of the employment conditions for the principals and vice-principals, that is a matter that will be worked out. There is a work group that is in the process of being established. That group will be meeting with principals and vice-principals and their representatives from across the province. We want to ensure that principals and vice-principals are dealt with fairly, that their employment conditions are appropriate for their status, which is very important to this government.

In the first instance the principals and vice-principals were taken out of the union through the bill because of a conflict situation they find themselves in. On the one hand, they're a member of the union; on the other hand, they have very direct responsibilities. But they're still key to our schools across Ontario, they still have a leadership role and we want to make sure that, through this discussion process, they're dealt with fairly.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Minister of Health. Your government's insistence upon a competitive marketplace delivery scheme for community-based home care services has caused enormous anxiety, especially among employees of the Red Cross and the seniors who depend on their services. Many workers have been told by the Red Cross that it could be forced to close down its home care services by the end of December.

As you know, my leader and I have been asking for months for the Minister of Health to meet with us on this issue. In October the Minister without Portfolio for seniors issues told this House that the jobs and pay of the workers would be protected. That was helpful, but workers and their clients are still worried.

Minister, we know this problem can be solved without destroying anybody's pay equity rights under the law if you'll just get off your competition and privatization bandwagon long enough to solve the problem. I'm calling upon you to guarantee today that there will be no interruption to the Red Cross home care services that people across this province depend upon.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Mr Speaker, through you to the Minister of Labour.

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): I fully share the concern about the Red Cross situation and the homemaking. I am pleased that the Red Cross and the pay equity office, at our request, have been discussing the matter. There will not be a disruption of services. I am assured by the Red Cross that they will have their staff continuing to work. I am looking forward to the final advice concerning the outcome of the discussions between the Red Cross and the Pay Equity Commissioner.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This is indeed a health care question. The health care of the many vulnerable frail elderly and disabled people in the province is threatened. Their ability to stay in their own homes is threatened because of the government's desire to privatize the services and to cut wages.

This is not really a pay equity issue. The Red Cross has been subject to pay equity for over 10 years now. It became a problem when this government changed the funding to a competitive model to be in line with your privatization approach.

The former Minister of Health wouldn't meet with us about this issue and now the crisis has landed in your lap. Time is running short. People in Sault Ste Marie and across Algoma district and the rest of the province want to know these services will continue into the new year. Will you take the responsibility now and assure us not only that the services -

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Flaherty: I am pleased to confirm that both the Red Cross and the pay equity office agree that a disruption of service will not occur and that they are committed to working towards a positive solution that ensures clients receive the quality care that is important in many communities in Ontario. If I may quote from the memo from the Red Cross to its staff:

"While there is much work to be done to finalize the details of a solution, we want to assure our staff and clients that daily operations will proceed as usual while that work is in process. We will provide homemaking services during this time, without disruption."

I might add, this is despite the fact that my predecessor in this ministry and I both wrote to the leaders of the opposition parties in October and November and asked for their cooperation in solving this important pay equity problem, and received none.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Consumers and in particular the seniors of the province of Ontario are facing telephone scams from time to time in the province. Most recently we've seen a case where consumers receive mail indicating they've won a contest and are told that if they want to get their prize they should dial a 1-800 number. When they dial the number, they find it is transferred over to a 1-900 number and then they're being charged $3 a minute without their knowledge. I wonder what your ministry is doing to prevent such scams so we can protect the people of Ontario.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I thank the member for Wentworth East for the question. It's very timely, because as we head into the Christmas season, more of these types of scams start to appear - scratch-and-win cards that come.

This 1-900 scheme the member so appropriately describes: We have been in touch with the CRTC, and there are some safeguards in place for the consumer. If the consumers complain about this non-disclosure, the CRTC will contact the phone company and ask them to cease and desist, and if they fail to comply they will cut that off. The consumers can also, as I understand, contact their phone companies for a one-time waiving of charges with respect to this.

We believe the impact of telemarketing fraud in the province to be in the range of about $20 million this year. We're involved with Phonebusters, an initiative we have done with the Solicitor General's office to combat this type of fraud. Very recently we launched a Seniors Busters to help seniors combat this, with a reverse boiler room. I was there with the minister responsible for seniors, Mr Jackson, and it is another initiative. Seniors particularly should be on guard against this type of fraud that takes place during the holiday season.


Mr Doyle: Minister, this is particularly good news for the elderly and the vulnerable. However, analysing the success of such programs is something we'd like to know about too. Can the minister assure the House that these types of initiatives are working? Are the consumers in this province learning how to avoid these telemarketing scams?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The member is quite correct that the way we need to combat this is through education. We expect to have a decrease of this type of crime in Ontario by about 41% this year.

I'd like to share a quick story here. I want to congratulate Fred Sampson, who is 73 years old. He is in Port Hope. He is a senior, obviously. He was contacted and told that he had won three of five different prizes: a cheque for $2,500, a 20-inch satellite dish, a cheque for $5,000, a $3,000 government bond or a trip for two to Hawaii. They told him that what he had to do to get this was send a cheque for $1,600 to them. This was his response: "`I told them to deduct the $1,600 from the first $2,000 prize and send me the rest of the prizes I won,' Mr Sampson said with a laugh."

There's a general rule here that if you don't enter a contest, you don't win a prize. I congratulate Mr Sampson for being aware and taking steps to make sure he wasn't sucked in, as many people are.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Your so-called revenue-neutral exercise in dumping on municipalities equals a $43-million shortfall for Hamilton-Wentworth and Halton. There are some great suggestions. Trevor Pettit, your member for Hamilton Mountain, suggested that we hike user fees for disabled, for kids, for seniors, to make up for the shortfall.

Once you remove the fixed costs, it would mean a cut of 35% in the budget of Hamilton-Wentworth to make up for the shafting you have given them. In Halton, in Burlington, they would have to shut down the whole recreation department. They can't get hold of Minister Cam Jackson, so they have asked me to ask a question.

They cannot do what you have asked them to do. Every pool, every arena, every rec centre in Burlington would have to be closed down to make up for your shortfall. You have screwed Hamilton-Wentworth and Halton out of $43 million. I have an invoice for you of $43 million you owe the people -


Hon Al Leach (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): To the member of the opposition party, let's look at what we're really asking the municipalities to do. We're asking the municipalities to find three cents out of every dollar of their expenditures. Cut that and they're absolutely even. That applies to Hamilton. That applies to Halton. That applies to all the municipalities in Hamilton-Wentworth region.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Hamilton East, you must allow the minister to respond to your question.

Interjection: We can't hear him.

The Speaker: You can't hear him? I've got a good idea.

Hon Mr Leach: Mr Speaker, that's a very good suggestion. They would learn a whole lot more by listening, and it would be a new experience for them as well.


The Speaker: Don't help me, Minister.

Hon Mr Leach: We're asking the municipalities to save three pennies on a dollar of expenditure. If they do that, there is absolutely no need for any tax increase in any municipality in the province of Ontario.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is to the same minister. We spoke with the city of London today. Like Moses coming down from the mountain, Mike Harris said to the city of London, "You need to cut $14 million more or raise property taxes." The city of London has already lost $40 million over the last two years out of a total $300-some-million budget. This is a huge hit to the city. But the worst part is that they can't get any information from your ministry because you're not returning your phone calls.

In fact, most municipalities cannot get access to the information they need to finish this budget process. What the treasurer of the city of London said is: "We've got them on speed dial. They've got us on voice mail." When are they going to get accurate information from you?

Hon Mr Leach: As the honourable member knows, most of the information was sent out last week. If there is some difficulty in contacting the regional office, I will commit to look into that for the member.

London is another good example. London had a consultant's report this last year that showed how they could come up with millions of dollars worth of savings and avoid the need for any tax increase in the coming year. London is asked to save three cents on every dollar of expenditure. If there is a municipal councillor in London who doesn't think they can find three pennies on the dollar, they should go and look for another job.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Minister of Labour. On November 23, the strike at Goldcorp in northwestern Ontario became the longest strike in Canadian gold mining history, 18 months. The communities involved, Balmertown, Red Lake and Cochenour, are truly struggling. The workers are suffering, the families are suffering and small businesses are suffering. This is all happening because your government passed labour law changes that permit scabs. The work that's being done at this mine is being done by scabs, many of whom aren't even from the province. My question to you is, will you come to Red Lake and Balmertown? Will you meet with the workers? Will you meet with the communities? Will you see how much damage is being done in this community by your government's decision to allow scabs?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Minister of Labour): I share the member's concern about the significant economic impact this dispute is having on the local community. My ministry, the Ministry of Labour, has expended substantial effort to assist the parties in these negotiations. I understand that the strike commenced many months ago, in June 1996. The Ministry of Labour mediator has remained in touch with the parties but no talks have been held in some months. The ministry and its mediators remain available to help resolve the dispute.

Mr Hampton: You are the new Minister of Labour. You don't have to repeat the mistakes of your predecessor. We're talking here about 6,000 people who live in the area. We're talking about children who don't have enough money to buy new clothes for school. We're talking about families who are having trouble paying the heating bill. We're talking about a corporation, Goldcorp, that has basically said it doesn't care about this community, it doesn't care about these workers. It's going to bring in scabs from outside the province to do the work at this mine.

Minister, you've got an opportunity to correct the mistakes. I put it to you again: Will you truly be a new Minister of Labour for this government? Will you come to those communities and see how much damage is being done to families, to workers and to the community as a whole by your government's decision to allow scabs in the workplace?

Hon Mr Flaherty: This government continues to believe in and support the collective bargaining process. The best solutions, as the member opposite knows, are those reached by the parties through negotiations independently and in a self-reliant way. The ministry provides mediation services; the ministry mediator has been involved since last year in this matter.

As I indicated earlier, the ministry stands ready to continue to provide mediation services to help the parties reach the solution that only they can reach to make the workplace harmonious.




Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas it is in the best interests of the public to have open market competition among professional accountants; and

"Whereas, under the Public Accountancy Act, only chartered accountants have full access to public accounting licences in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas the province of Ontario restricts certified general accountants more than all other provinces, with the exception of Prince Edward Island; and

"Whereas certified general accountants, whose training is identical to that of chartered accountants in the province of Ontario, have a statutory right to practise public accounting in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, are free to practise in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, can be licensed to practise in Nova Scotia and have considerable public accountancy rights in the province of Quebec; and

"Whereas this has created a monopoly in the province of Ontario since 1962 that is not only unfair to the public but also results in additional expenses, particularly to small business owners; and

"Whereas the monopoly results in NAFTA inequalities for certified general accountants in the province of Ontario; and

"Whereas according full professional rights to certified general accountants would lower costs to business by creating competition in accounting and auditing services, which is consistent with the current government's initiative to introduce measures designed to reduce government interference in the private and business lives of Ontario residents;

"We, the undersigned residents of the province of Ontario, petition the Legislature to grant the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario their request for overdue amendments to the Public Accountancy Act to allow certified general accountants full access to public practice licences and to eliminate the present monopoly."

I'm happy to sign my signature to this as well.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas Mike Harris during the 1995 election promised voters he would not allow more casinos without holding a community referendum;

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario has designated the Beaches community as one of 36 new permanent charity casino sites without holding a referendum;

"Whereas Mike Harris says these permanent casinos are simply replacing roving charity casinos;

"Whereas roving charity casinos can only be set up for a maximum of three days, can't stay open all night, have no more than 30 tables and take a maximum bet of $10. On the other hand, the new casinos are permanent, operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with 40 tables, 150 video slot machines, and maximum bets of $100;

"Whereas Mike Harris dismisses concerns, saying the total number of gaming days in Toronto won't change;

"Whereas the nature of gambling will change dramatically with the introduction of the highly addictive video slot machines and much higher dollar volume operations, it being evident by the government's estimate that the new permanent casinos will see about $1 billion a year wagered;

"Whereas Mike Harris says the new permanent casinos will be safer and more accountable;

"Whereas at the Windsor casino extra law enforcement resources were provided by the province and the Harris government has made no such commitment for the new casino in the Beaches;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to cease any bids for the Beaches casino site, to fully consult with the community and not to force a casino site on the community against its wishes."

I am in complete agreement and have affixed my signature.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): This is a petition about the Pay Equity Act and its effect on the Red Cross's homemaker service. There are 272 signatures on this petition, not all of which are from Simcoe Centre.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): "Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public with respect to 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 this government,

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

I'll sign my name.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from my community in Hamilton.

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

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

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

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

I continue to support my constituents who call for this public inquiry.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I have a petition from roughly 200-and-some people from my riding.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe in the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death; and

"Whereas pregnancy is not an illness; and

"Whereas the freedom to speak against the abortion of innocent and silent human beings is being subverted by prosecuting conscientious objectors to abortion;

"Therefore, we petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to (1) stop the funding of abortion clinics; (2) stop funding doctors for performing abortions through provincial medicare schemes; (3) do not provide funding for the training of abortionists; and (4) stop the prosecution of conscientious abortion objectors before the courts."

I sign my signature to this.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I have a petition signed by hundreds of students at Hillcrest high school in my riding of Thunder Bay who held a funeral march to mourn the passage of Bill 160. They have sent me these and they read:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas sections of Bill 160 allow the government unprecedented centralized control over education in Ontario; and

"Whereas sections of Bill 160 remove our democratic rights as citizens to comment or respond to education reform; and

"Whereas sections of Bill 160 allow the government to make further massive cuts to education funding without public consultation or debate;

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

"Amend those sections of Bill 160 listed above."

I concur with that and will sign my name.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): This is a petition signed by over 1,000 people who live in the area of Fort Frances who are vitally concerned about health care. The petition reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"That the Fort Frances ambulance dispatch not be moved to Kenora."

As I indicated, there are about 1,000 signatures and I have affixed my signature as well.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition which reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas education is our future; and

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

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

"Whereas we cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

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

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

"Whereas Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty has pledged to repeal Bill 160;

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

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

I affix my signature to this petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have petitions from members of the USWA, CAW, CUPE, UFCW, OPSEU and CEP from all across Ontario. It reads as follows:

"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 on 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 caucus, I add my name to those of these petitioners.



Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): This petition was delivered to my office by Ms Cheryl Stewart of Bolton. I present it now. It's to the Legislature of Ontario.

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, draw the attention of the Legislature of Ontario to the following:

"That managing the family home and caring for infants and preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society, and deserves respect and support;

"That child care policies and funding should provide equity and fairness to all Ontario families;

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislature to (a) pursue policy and funding initiatives that will support a full range of child care choices such as extending the child care tax credit to all families, including those providing full-time parental care, and to (b) pursue discussions with the federal government to review the tax system to find ways to assist two-parent families where one parent chooses to remain at home."

I am pleased to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I have a petition here signed by people from Smiths Falls and Nepean, the riding of Norm Sterling.

"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 would remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; 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."


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I have a petition from the Anderdon Malden Amherstburg Sportsmen's Association to the Parliament of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition forwarded to me by Wayne Samuelson, the new president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has begun a process to fundamentally alter the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations with the release of the discussion paper A Review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Whereas these changes threaten to deregulate the health and safety protection for workers and reduce or eliminate the rights of workers and joint health and safety committees; and

"Whereas the ministry intentionally organized meetings in a manner which allowed only marginal opportunity for workers to discuss with the ministry the issues raised in the discussion paper; and

"Whereas workers deserve a full opportunity to be heard regarding the proposals that threaten the legislated provisions that provide them with protection from workplace injury, illness and death;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose the deregulation of workplace health and safety and any erosion of the protection provided workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that province-wide public hearings be held once any amendments to the act are introduced."

I proudly add my name to those of these workers.



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

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 / Projet de loi 164, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre des mesures de création d'emplois et d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1997 et à apporter d'autres modifications à des lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Finances ou qui traitent de questions fiscales.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Mr Speaker, I would indicate at the outset of my remarks that I'll be sharing my time with the member for Durham East, the member for Scarborough Centre and the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. I will only be speaking for a very few brief minutes.

This bill arises out of the May 1997 budget and its central component is to help create jobs and encourage economic growth in the province of Ontario. Some suggest that at the provincial level you can't do much to help the Ontario economy, that you can't do much to create jobs. That's not something we on this side of the aisle believe. We believe the government must do everything it can to help create a climate for job creation.

This bill does a whole host of things, whether it's programs to help address youth unemployment, a concern to everyone in the province of Ontario; measures to assist small business in their economic development, because we know on this side of the House that small business is where we find job creation in Ontario; and, in addition, measures to help research and development in our ever-important high-technology area. These areas are very key to job creation and economic growth in the province.

When you look at where we're going on job creation, it's quite substantial. We've seen more than 204,000 new private sector jobs created in the province just this year, in the first nine months. We're actually finding out a remarkable thing, that when you cut taxes you bring in more revenue. This year the government of Ontario, in cutting provincial income tax rates, will bring in more retail sales tax revenue, more corporation tax revenue, the big corporations paying more taxes under Mike Harris. Gasoline tax revenue is up, fuel tax revenue is up, land transfer tax revenue is up, mining profits tax revenues are up.

The one thing that is down is the Canada health and social transfer. Last year it was $4.8 billion; this year it's going down to $3.9 billion because the federal government is cutting health care, cutting hospitals. Jean Chrétien can't stop cutting health care, can't stop cutting hospitals. But there's no problem, because Mike Harris and Ernie Eves are finding more money for health care to replace the money that the federal Liberals have cut. That's very good news for the health care system in the province of Ontario.

In fact, not only have they replaced the money that the federal Liberal government of Jean Chrétien has cut for health care, they've actually found new money. Health care spending in Ontario in this fiscal year, in this budget, was increased by more than $1 billion to what it was two years ago, and just yesterday the Minister of Finance, Ernie Eves, stood in this place and announced half a billion dollars of new money for health care, so more than replacing the federal cuts made by the federal Liberal government.

The economic update presented by the Minister of Finance, which relates directly to Bill 164 in the budget presented in May, is good news. We're seeing an incredible amount of job creation. In the second quarter of this year we saw economic growth in Ontario of 7.2%, an unparalleled success. Something is going on in Ontario that just isn't taking place in the rest of Canada. Something is going on in Ontario, economic growth, and it's in large measure because of the economic environment assisted by the policies of this provincial government.


Some people have said, "Is it not the North American economy that's booming?" People have told my colleague the member for High Park-Swansea that. But it's funny: The American recovery started in 1992 and Ontario was left out. Ontario did not benefit from that economic revival in the United States and other parts of North America in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. It only began to happen in the latter part of 1995. It began, we turned the corner in 1996, and now we're seeing solid job creation and economic growth in 1997.

We are concerned that there are a number of things we could do to help job creation. That's why we're instituting in this bill an Ontario new technology tax incentive, an Ontario film and television tax credit, a graduate transitions tax credit and a cooperative education tax credit. There are a lot of students getting their first employment and some real job experience through co-op programs across the province, a lot of students getting that education at the University of Waterloo and coming to work at Northern Telecom in Nepean, creating jobs indeed. The film industry is a big employer here in greater Toronto: Ontario computer animation, with Sheridan College doing an excellent job; Algonquin College in Nepean doing an excellent job in that area -

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Humber College.

Mr Baird: Humber College in Toronto, the member for High Park-Swansea said. There's another story. He's always spreading the good news about Humber College.

We're seeing some solid economic growth and Bill 164 will help build on that economic growth. Bill 164 will help youth unemployment. It will help young people get that first job through a number of initiatives. It will help small business and in Ontario we know the importance small business plays. Most important, it'll help research and development in our high-technology industries.

Mr Speaker, I yield my time to my colleague the member for Durham East.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I want to thank the member for Nepean for sharing his time with me. For those watching, Bill 164 is simply creating jobs and working with small business. It's our commitment to the people of Ontario: Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act.

The bill will implement 1997 budget commitment investments, among other things, in research and development, new technology and youth employment. By responding to the ideas from Ontarians and people in my riding of Durham East, we've made initiatives and we've taken action.

Bill 164 will support creating more well-paid, leading-edge technology jobs for Ontario's youth. By enhancing the cooperative education tax credit, it's just one example of taking action to support youth employment, and there is the Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit, working with the community college and the small business sector. It will also implement the Ontario business-research institute tax credit which will forge stronger links between the private sector and the Ontario post-secondary research institutions, and the Ontario new technology tax incentive, which will provide an incentive to acquire new technologies in Ontario.

Bill 164 enhances our commitment in our budget to give small business incentives to provide jobs and hope and opportunity for Ontario's young people. It will increase the tax credit rate for small business for both the graduate transitions tax credit and cooperative education tax credit. The member for Scarborough will outline that in his comments, I'm sure.

These tax credits will increase job opportunities for Ontario's youth by encouraging business to work more and to take the experience and opportunities for students and institutions for a strong partnership in our future for our youth.

Our Minister of Finance, Mr Eves, in his economic outlook, the statement made yesterday, reviewed the outlook, the forecast. Look at the evidence: 204,000 new private sector jobs have been created in Ontario in the last nine months. Real economic growth is forecast at 4.4% in 1997. Indeed, confidence in Ontario's economy is stronger today because of our minister and our Premier and the leadership in this province. The initiatives in Bill 164 are part of our plan. With the advice of our constituents throughout Ontario, we're working to help young people.

What I'm really trying to share with those listening today, in the bill I'm going to focus more specifically on one section, section 43.6 of the act, which implements a budget commitment to refund graduate transition tax credits for qualified expenditures in employing underemployed Ontario post-secondary graduates. This is so important for the young people who have spent and committed their time and their personal desire in education and yet they have no job.

What does this provide, for both the graduate student who is unemployed and the employer? "A corporation that complies with the requirements of this section may deduct from its tax otherwise payable under this part of the taxation year, after making all the deductions" in other sections.... "The amount of a corporation's graduate tax credit for a taxation year is the sum of" the following.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): How come there's more people out of work? Could you explain that?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Order, member for Kingston and the Islands.

Mr O'Toole: Going further, to subsection (4), "If the qualifying employment commenced after December 31, 1997 and the total of all salaries or wages paid by the corporation in the previous taxation year is greater than $400,000, but less than $600,000, the amount is the amount determined in accordance with the following formula...." Clearly from 15% to 20% tax credit, up to I believe a maximum of $15,000, therefore working in partnership with small business to create jobs for university students who today don't have jobs.

There's one other section that may go unnoticed but it's a very important section. It's called schedule G, the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation Act. Schedule G goes on to outline that every municipality in Ontario is a member of the corporation first, and the statutory duties now performed by the assessment commission under the Assessment Act will be transferred to the corporation. The corporation will work with municipalities and indeed the province to administer the assessment system across Ontario.

We've listened. Clearly this is not a new idea. In fact the Liberal government produced this bill, Bill 156, An Act to establish the Property Assessment Corporation, back in 1990. Unfortunately, because they called a quick election, they didn't get time to carry it through. We're delivering. We're prepared to listen to good ideas. The difference between us and the Liberals is we actually do something about it. This is exciting news.

We use as a constant guide this document here, this document that many Ontarians realized they'd never deliver on. But there were good ideas in here, fundamental ideas. What did they say? Introduce a balanced budget. I don't know how they were going to do it. They were going to have to reduce the same deficit as us. They wouldn't have done it. Clearly the evidence is they wouldn't have done it.

Tax and spend, that's their strategy. Scrap the 5% auto insurance premium. Abolish the annual corporation filing fee. Done. Reduce the corporate tax rate on small business. Done. This is what we're doing here. Introduce the Ontario operations job check. They wouldn't have done that. Clean up the Workers' Compensation Board by hiring a qualified CEO, also health and safety. Bill 99, we've already done it.

Going back, not to fault the previous government, the NDP government also brought in a document. Here is, "Property assessment to be paid for by municipalities." Clearly this is not new. If you look at our schedule G, you'll understand that we have taken the steps to introduce this new corporation to manage the whole issue of local assessment.

Thank you very much for allowing me to contribute to the discussion this afternoon. I'm looking forward to the comments made by the member from Scarborough. I'm sure he'll expand on a few of the comments that we've made this afternoon.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): It's my pleasure today to speak on third reading of Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, 1997. I think it's important that when we look at Bill 164, we look at everything else this government has done in terms of its budget process since taking office in June 1995, in fact being elected with a majority government by the people of Ontario.

When you look at Bill 164 and look at everything else we've done, the tax cuts, the cuts in government spending, we're doing everything we said we would do when we ran for office in 1995, in fact doing everything we said a year before the election when we released the Common Sense Revolution.

What does Ontario look like today with the effects of the Common Sense Revolution?

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): Prosperous.

Mr Newman: It's very prosperous, the member for Brant-Haldimand says, and he's absolutely correct, because real economic growth in this province was at 4.4% for 1997 so far. What has that brought about? Two hundred and four thousand net new private sector jobs in the last nine months alone.

When I look at the 1997 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review and look at the numbers - I know the member for Durham-York cares very much about these numbers, and she pointed out to me today that when you look at Ontario and the rest of the G-7 in terms of employment growth in 1996, Ontario was 1.5% and Canada was 1.3%, so we were ahead of the rest of Canada, but more important, we were ahead of the rest of the G-7. France had a zero per cent increase; Germany a net loss of minus 1.2%; Italy an increase of 0.5%; Japan a 0.4% increase; the United Kingdom a 1% increase; and the United States a 1.4% increase. Ontario was 1.5%, leading Canada and leading the G-7 in job growth.

Mr O'Toole: Clearly the plan's working.

Mr Newman: As the member for Durham East says, the plan is indeed working and many people have said that.

Mr O'Toole: Tax cuts create jobs.

Mr Newman: Tax cuts do indeed create jobs. We've seen a 27% increase in new housing starts in the province. We've seen higher consumer confidence and better business confidence numbers. In fact, at this time of the year when the shopping malls are probably at their busiest, why are they busy? Because more people are working today. There's a confidence that they're willing to spend dollars and to go shopping. One need only look at the traffic jams in the city every day, because there are more and more cars on the road, more people working, going to and from work.

What has this all done? It's all helped to reduce the deficit in this province from a projected level of $6.6 billion for this year to $5.6 billion. That's a deficit figure of $1 billion less. That's almost cutting the deficit in half from when we took office from the NDP, when the deficit was almost $11 billion in this province.

Our measures have had a great impact in this province, and we're seeing the positive results from it. They're not the tax-and-spend ways of the previous governments. The debt in this province doubled from 1990 to 1995 under the NDP and it actually tripled in the 10 years ending in 1995. What we've seen is that 65 tax hikes on the part of the other two parties did not bring about job creation in this province. In fact, if we look at the NDP and their 32 tax hikes, they actually reduced the number of people working in this province by 10,000 jobs.

I know many of my Liberal friends across the way talk about the number of people working or not working in this province. The fact of the matter is, there are more people working in this province today than ever before. The reason they're using some of the numbers they use is that more and more people are coming to Ontario today to work, because Ontario is indeed a province that is beginning to once again lead the economic engine for the rest of Canada.

I too like to look at the Liberal red book of 1995, as my friend for Durham East does. Let me read to you what the Liberal red book said on balancing the budget: "High deficits and a big public debt are job killers." I couldn't agree with them more. "Rising deficits mean that instead of having more money in their pockets, Ontarians are paying more interest on the debt." Right now, we're spending $9 billion a year on interest alone in this province. That's absolutely out of control. "Business considers a province that can't control its spending a poor place to invest." We're getting our financial house in order here, and that's bringing jobs to this province.

"Ontario has now had four deficits in a row of more than $10 billion." The four deficits they would be talking about would be under the NDP government. "Ontario and Quebec are the only provinces in Canada that did not reduce their deficit in 1994-95. The total Ontario debt has more than doubled to a staggering $90 billion."

This is the best part, and I know they are trying to be very serious about this, but it says, "A Liberal government will both preach financial restraint and practise it." I guess that's their attempt at humour. But what it says here is, "Through the Ontario Liberal balanced budget plan, we will balance the provincial budget within four years."

It goes on to say that government must not balance the budget by raising taxes. I absolutely agree. That's why we've had 30 tax cuts since we've taken office. We have had 30 tax cuts in this province.

A Liberal government will cut government spending. It says, "A Liberal government will cut government spending by more than $4 billion while preserving health care and education." That sounds familiar.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): What page is that on?

Mr Newman: That's on page 7.

"Our spending cuts and savings fall into five categories: program reductions, leaner government, public/ private sector partnerships, job growth and welfare reform" - their plan of mandatory opportunity would have actually seen the welfare rates of some people in this province cut by 30% - "and cutting political spending." It goes on to say they would scrap the Interim Waste Authority; they would end the failed Jobs Ontario program.

This is one of my favourites: They would cut grants to big business by 60%. So they would still give grants to big business.

Mr Baird: Just not as much.

Mr Newman: Just not as much. They'd have 40%. What have we done? We have cut corporate welfare to nothing -


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough Centre is the only one in here who is supposed to be talking. The rest of you, be like me and just listen, please.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm just wondering, and I'm sure that you can assist me on this because you have assisted me so often in the past, is it important that we tell the truth in this House? Is that important? Because I have severe reservations -

The Acting Speaker: Please take your seat. That is not a point of order. This is not question period.

The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr Newman: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, because it gave me more time during that break to find more interesting promises here in the Liberal red book.

They were going to scrap the Interim Waste Authority and the failed Jobs Ontario program; cut the grants to big business by 60%, as I mentioned - that is corporate welfare and we have ended that in this province; scrap the royal commission on the Workers' Compensation Board - done; scrap the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board bureaucracy. This is just unbelievable, but this is the red book that's saying it here.

It is important to know that all the things the Liberal Party said they would do is what we're doing. They continually vote against every single measure that we bring forward. Every measure to create jobs, to create prosperity, growth, hope and opportunity in this province, they vote against.

That's what Bill 164 is all about. It's about tax credits to create jobs. It's about the graduate transitions tax credit. It's about 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 R and D, the Ontario new technology tax incentive, the Ontario computer animation special effects tax credit, the Ontario film and television tax credit, the Ontario book publishing tax credit, the child care tax credit, and the return of property assessment to municipalities.


We can see that Bill 164 is all about creating jobs through tax credits and tax cuts. That would be 30 tax cuts on the part of this government since we took office in June 1995. We talked about income taxes being cut and returning that money to the pockets of Ontarians. I think everyone forgets that those hardworking Ontarians were the ones who earned that money in the first place. They ought to be keeping more of that money. We have seen, and the numbers have proved, that when you cut taxes you have more revenue, and not only do you have more revenue but you have more people working in this province.

In spite of everything we've done - I know and I'm confident, and I'm sure all members on this side of the House are, that we will indeed balance the budget - today we're still spending $640,000 an hour more than we take in in revenue. Think of the interest we're paying in this province. We know individual families could not afford to do that, businesses could not afford to do it, and governments cannot afford to do it. All we're doing in government is trying to get our own financial house in order for the good of the province.

I think it was important yesterday to keep in mind what the finance minister said when he said that in health care alone we're spending about $18 billion this year alone. We made a commitment in the Common Sense Revolution to have spending of at least $17.4 billion. When you go through the red book, they promised $17 billion.

Just before I close, I think it's important to note that health care funding for 1998-99 will be at least $18.2 billion; in the year after, 1999-2000, it will be $18.3 billion. None of this amount has to do with capital or restructuring costs.

In closing, I will be supporting Bill 164, as I have all of the other budgetary measures on the part of this government, because in the end what they do is create jobs for all people in Ontario.

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I am pleased to have the opportunity to join the debate on third reading of Bill 164 and add my comments to those of my colleagues. In doing so, Mr Speaker, because I know you like us to abide by the rules, I'll try and stick to Bill 164, unlike some of my colleagues, but I know their enthusiasm for the red book has got the better of them.

I want to touch on a couple of things in Bill 164. I'm anxious to see how the Liberal Party will vote on third reading of Bill 164, because as we have seen, so many things in this bill address the issue of creating jobs and helping the economy, and so many things in this bill really carry out some of the promises that were contained in the red book.

I want first of all to mention that this bill is chock-full of measures that will help small business, chock-full of measures that will help the development of research and development in Ontario businesses, chock-full of measures to enhance the opportunities for businesses that are in the new technology field to employ more people. Also it's got many measures in it that will help the cultural industries that are such a big part of my riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay. It is especially directed at providing jobs for young people. For those reasons I would think that the opposition would be quite anxious to support this bill.

One of the key measures in the bill is the enhancement of the Ontario film and television tax credit. This actually has a significant impact in my riding because in the last few years in Muskoka-Georgian Bay there's been quite a development of the film industry. You'll see it especially in the summer months, although last winter, as some people will recall, there was a very significant major film in Muskoka. Unfortunately there was also a major fire that occurred as a result of that film, but we're all happy to see that Windermere House has been rebuilt.

One of the reasons the film industry comes to Ontario has to do with the availability of young talent in the film and related industry in Ontario. One of the things this bill will do is enhance the opportunities for those very skilled people who work in the film industry and who the international film industry knows are located in and around the Toronto area.

As set out in the bill, there will be an increase to the tax credit rate, for those people who qualify under the Ontario film and television tax credit, to 20% from the 15% currently provided. It is estimated that will raise the annual tax credit limit for corporations from $2 million to $3 million. That should certainly create additional incentive for the film industry to invest in film productions in Ontario, and it should also provide additional jobs for those skilled people, most of whom would be in the young category and those are where we really have to focus our efforts.

I want to remind viewers that in the past six months 39,000 jobs have been created for youth in this province, which accounts for over 90% of Canada's youth employment gains in recent months.

I also want to comment that one of the good reasons to support the bill is that the tax credits that will go to employers who reach out and employ young people who have graduate or post-graduate degrees have been enhanced from 10% of salaries, wages and benefits for those people hired to 15%. So it's a 50% increase in the benefit available to employers of post-secondary graduates, and that should enhance the opportunities for young people who are available to work in those industries. It should also help the leading-edge technology industries in general.

The research and development aspect in the bill is also something that's worthy of support. I'd certainly encourage all my colleagues to take a close look at that section of the bill because it's going to enhance the opportunities for companies to deduct from their income those eligible costs for businesses that are in the research and development field.

I'd like to point once again to the tax credit for the Ontario book publishing industry. This is something our government has a great interest in. We want to encourage the book publishing industry in Ontario and encourage the development of more domestic children's books, especially for those talented people, many of whom are young people, in the province of Ontario.

In conclusion, I would like to provide my own ringing endorsement of Bill 164, which I'm sure the opposition should pay close attention to because it has so many measures that will provide economic growth and jobs for the people of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Gerretsen: Let's first get it clearly on the record that all that the members have talked about are items contained in one of the seven schedules of this bill. They haven't talked about the other six schedules at all. We support those measures. We support those tax credits. It's the other sections of the bill we're concerned about.

Let's get a couple of other things quickly on the record. Number one, the number of people who are unemployed in this province are 3,000 more than when you took office, and it is contained right here in the Ministry of Finance statistics that your government is putting out. In June 1995 there were 499,000 people unemployed in this province, and in November of this year there were 502,000 people unemployed in this province. So yes, it may be better for some people, but for an awful lot of people things are actually a heck of a lot worse.

Finally, and I cannot sit down without saying this, how did this bill get here? We're implementing a budget that was introduced in May of this year. The government did not bring in its budget legislation until about two weeks ago. The bill was given second reading last week, at which time it was referred to the finance committee here at the Legislature. A time allocation motion was brought forward so that the finance and economic affairs committee could not even debate the bill. All they could do was vote on the different sections as contained in the bill.

This is a sheer mockery of the democratic system. They have brought in time allocation once again for I believe the 20th time on a major piece of legislation, and for the first time they have in effect said to a committee that even though the matter has been referred to the committee, they can't even debate it. Shame on you. You're undemocratic. All you are is just one big bully.


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): There are two points to this bill in terms of what the government is doing. One point is the undemocratic process they're following as a government when it comes to how they run this House. The second issue is the incompetence of the government and the government House leader. I've been around this Legislature, as have other members, for a number of years now, and we all know that when it comes to budget bills and interim supply bills, which we're going to have to debate a little later, the government normally has at least enough common sense to organize its House calendar in such a way that members of the House are given the opportunity to debate those interim supply bills and budget bills in a timely fashion and to make sure they have them passed on time, which is very important.

When I look at the work of the government House leader under the Rae government, the House leader under the Liberal government and the House leaders under the Bill Davis government and other Conservative governments before that, at least they knew how to get it right. But these guys - I say that because that's mostly what they are, a bunch of Reformer-type guys - come to this House, think they're smarter than everybody else and, quite frankly, cannot figure out how to pass legislation through this House in a timely process.

It puts us in the undemocratic stage now that they have to come into this House with a whole bunch of time allocation motions to pass their bills. As if that's not bad enough, they had to come to this House in August this year to change the rules of the House because they didn't know how to operate within the context of a democracy. Instead, they changed the rules of the House. To do what? To give themselves the power to do exactly what they're doing now: to fix their incompetence, to fix up their bungles, as they're called, so they're able to pass these bills at the last minute, because they can't get their act straight when it comes to how to run a House in a democratic system.

I say to the government, on two points you've failed: You're totally undemocratic and incompetent when it comes to running the business of this House.

Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York): I'm very pleased to offer a couple of comments in relation to the discussion today. The critical issue we're really discussing here is job creation, how it is that a government can provide the climate for job creation. Through this legislation and through a number of other initiatives, that's what we have undertaken and what we are delivering on in this province.

It becomes clear when you look at what the issues are. One of the very first issues was to deal with the need to reduce the cost of hiring. It became very clear that that put us in a most uncompetitive position. The opportunity to decrease the workers' compensation premiums by 5% sent out a clear message that we were looking for opportunities to reduce the cost of hiring. We also have reduced the employer health tax by limiting it to those businesses over $400,000 in payroll.

By reducing the personal income tax, we are making ourselves competitive and allowing the opportunity for people to invest in this province. It's through that investment that job creation comes. It's interesting to note that in this current year we're looking at a $1.1-billion increase in personal income tax revenue.

The tax credits outlined in Bill 164 speak further to this issue of job creation, especially the opportunities it presents for young and creative Ontarians. In conclusion, I just want to add my comment that Bill 164 speaks very clearly to our goal of job creation.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The problem the government has is that it puts what we call hostages in all these bills. There are always some items in the bills that are supportable. Some of the government members, if the opposition votes against it, will try to characterize it as a vote against certain provisions of the bill. But those who watch the legislative channel, millions in number now, will know that the problem is that the government includes in the bill many provisions about which people are concerned.

For instance, local councils in the Niagara region were all condemning, last night at their meetings, the aspect of this bill which censors the councils, which does not allow the councils to put on their tax bill the reasons for the increases that may be forthcoming. They've asked me to vote against the bill. They said, "Look, we understand there are some good things in the bill with which everybody might agree, but you can't agree with this bill unless the government amends it to take out the part that prohibits municipalities from putting the necessary information on the tax bill."

They're also concerned that this is again Mike Harris raising taxes. I mentioned 197 tax increases. I found out it's 198, because it says, "setting up new fees for appeals of tax problems." Once again, wealthy people will be able to appeal their taxes, but people of modest means will find it difficult to do so because of the financial requirements. That's contained in this bill.

The Province of Ontario Savings Office is going to be privatized, or at least the skid is being greased for its privatization under this bill, and I've had numerous telephone calls from people who said, "Please get the government to amend the bill so this doesn't happen." What could be a supportable bill is ruined by many negative provisions.

The NDP has the floor next.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Nepean has two minutes to respond.

Mr Baird: I'd like to thank the member for Kingston and The Islands, the member for Cochrane South, and the members for Durham-York and St Catharines.

The member for Kingston and The Islands said, "We're in favour of most sections of the bill." However, last night in committee they voted against every section of the bill when they had the opportunity to vote in favour of any one section, which I found most interesting. When Bill 164 came for agreement in principle, every single MPP who wanted the chance to speak had the chance to speak. There was even time left over that people hadn't used. Every MPP had as much time to debate this bill as they wanted to, and they used it.

The member for Cochrane South will like this. I do want to comment that I saw the Leader of the Opposition on television last week. I like the Leader of the Opposition; he's a good fellow. He said he was seriously considering giving himself the power to appoint candidates in various ridings, just like Jean Chrétien. I guess on the advice of Matt Maychak and the other whiz kids in the Liberal leader's office, he wants to bypass the traditional, time-honoured democratic process of riding-by-riding nomination meetings. Matt Maychak and the leader of his party want to sit behind closed doors at their offices at Queen's Park and decide the futures of elected, sitting Liberal MPPs. They want the power to determine who wins and who loses in the redistribution process. They want to be able to take the right away from individual MPPs, riding associations and party members. It's absolutely astonishing.

Normally, with the NDP and the Conservatives, we can find out who wins the nomination by going to a nomination meeting. What you're going to have to do is sit with the media in a scrum outside Matt Maychak's office to find out who's going to be a Liberal candidate in the next election, because over there in the Liberal leader's office, in the Liberal Party, they don't trust the individual decisions of the riding association to democratically elect the candidates. We on this side of the House and our good friends in the New Democratic Party are going to be watching this process very carefully.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like your ruling on this matter. You may recall that the time allocation motion that was passed with respect to this bill said specifically that the finance and economic affairs committee would meet last night at 7 o'clock in the evening and without debate deal with each and every section.

We have just heard from the member for Nepean that they had debate at that committee hearing -

Mr Baird: Check Hansard. Check Hansard.

Mr Gerretsen: - and therefore they were in violation of the closure motion. I'm just wondering how you would rule on that, how we could allow debate when the motion clearly said that they shall be dealt with without debate. Is the bill therefore illegal? I would like to address this point to you and I'd like you to rule on that, and tell me whether the bill is illegal -

The Acting Speaker: Please take your seat so I can.


The Acting Speaker: I'm ready to now. Please take your seat.

If there was a problem about the procedure in committee, then it should have been brought up as a point of order at that time and ruled on by the committee chairman and so on. I will not entertain that right now. It is not a point of order.

Further debate?


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'd like to continue the debate on Bill 164. I would start by saying that I hope the public understand the chaotic process the government is following here. This bill was not allowed to be debated for any amendments - no amendments. I think the public should know the reason that this is important. The government put this bill before us on November 25. It's that thick. It amends literally dozens and dozens of acts here in the province. It is a huge bill.

I will just say there are serious, serious questions about freedom of information in this. This bill will provide virtually unlimited access to previously confidential information that will be available now to the private sector. The only information the government has that will not be available is your psychiatric records and your health records. Everything else will be available, with no protection.

The freedom of information office has not had a chance to comment on this, contrary to what we were told. We were told in a briefing that the freedom of information office had reviewed this and had no problem with it. We then phoned the freedom of information office and they said, "We have significant concerns with this," but they had the personal assurance of the deputy minister that this bill would be amended early next year, early in the new year. Well, the government has no intention of doing that. So I will say to the public: Last night we wanted an opportunity for the freedom of information commission to come before the committee and outline its concerns.

Here are three pages of proposed amendments from the freedom of information commission. This process we go through is a sham, a total sham. This bill is introduced and there is not one opportunity for any amendments to this bill. It's literally rammed through. We thought we at least had it going to committee so we could have an opportunity to amend the bill, and then the government used its hammer to say that as soon as it got to committee, it would be voted on and brought back here; no amendments, no changes, nothing. I say to the backbench members of the Conservative Party, surely to God you are not in agreement with this unfettered release of freedom of information - virtually unlimited.

We were told two things that frankly weren't true: first, that the freedom of information commission had already been consulted on this and was in agreement. We were told that at a briefing; that was not true. Second, when we phoned the freedom of information commission, they informed us that the deputy minister himself had assured them that the bill would be amended early in the year.

I say to the public, if you wonder why we get so angry in opposition, here is an example: a gross abuse of freedom of information; told at a briefing that the freedom of information commission had already approved it; and the freedom of information commission told that the bill would be amended early in the new year.

Just read the bill. The only thing it doesn't include, as I said before, is an individual's medical, psychiatric or psychological history. Everything else is available. That can be everything from your business records to your driving records to your personal files, in any ministry.

The freedom of information commission went on to say: "We recommend the following sections be omitted from the authorized purposes for the processing of personal information...which permits the disclosure of personal information in privatization exercises."

The first thing I want to put on the table is that this bill should have been debated at committee and there should have been an opportunity for the freedom of information commission to appear before us.

Second, the senior officials from all the municipalities around Ontario, the most senior municipal bureaucrats, have raised the most serious concerns about this bill. They use language that none of us should be ignoring. I would say they fully expected an opportunity to come before the committee. As a matter of fact, they phoned and said, "We want to appear before the committee" - the clerks and treasurers, the senior people, the equivalent of the deputy ministers at the municipal level. "We want to appear before the committee because we've got serious concerns about Bill 164." What did the government do? They just completely shut them out. "Don't even show up. There will be no opportunity for you to comment on the bill."

I want to read some of the comments that the clerks and treasurers said about the bill, because nothing could be clearer. Mike Harris is determined to ram through his agenda. He doesn't care who gets in his way. The clerks and treasurers' organization says: "This will create an administrative nightmare for municipalities." This is talking about a part of Bill 164. "It could create a vehicle for those municipalities that work with the prescribed ratios and later discover the figures are unacceptable to demand assistance from the government. Either way, this is a recipe for administrative chaos."

For a government that says, "We run government like a business," you don't do it at all. This is the people who are running the business telling you you're going create administrative chaos. But, no. You not only are unprepared to accept their comments; you will not even listen to them. This is absurd. Here we have a huge bill that will touch every municipality in the province and we have the senior bureaucrats crying out for an opportunity to comment on the bill and they are completely, totally silenced. They can't even come and present. It's obscene.

They went on to say, in their brief about this bill, Bill 164: "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. Yesterday's bill is amended by today's, which is likely to be amended by tomorrow's."

I just say to the public, if you want a tangible example of how Mike Harris operates, it's this: Jam a bill in, throw it at the opposition, pass a rule in the House that says there will be no opportunity for debate, no amendments permitted. Even when the opposition was successful in getting it sent to committee, rules were put in that the bill couldn't be amended. As soon as it arrived there, it was going to be voted on.

Mr Gerretsen: Not even debated.

Mr Phillips: Not even debated.

You get the clerks and treasurers, the people who are responsible for implementing this bill, saying to us language like this: "Administrative chaos"; "Surely this illustrates better than anything that the government, in its haste, is making legislation by the seat of its pants, without proper thought or planning."

So when the public wonders why we have significant problems with Bill 164, I say firstly that the freedom of information commission has signalled major concern. Not only that, I repeat again, but we had been told one thing and the truth was something else. We'd been told they were consulted; they weren't. They were told by the deputy minister that the bill would be amended early in the new year. It's not going to be, Mr Speaker.

Mr Bradley: We were prepared to come back in the new year to do that.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says we were prepared to come back. We were prepared to go to that committee and say to the clerks and treasurers, "Please come and tell us how this bill can be improved." The government shut them out totally, completely. Nobody could have given you clearer warnings about the chaos you're going to cause than this.

There is a provision in the bill that amends the Municipal Act, one of many amendments to acts in here, but it allows the Minister of Finance to change the property tax levels halfway through the year with the stroke of a pen. It's almost unconscionable for our municipal leaders that the property tax system now has been taken over by the province. As a matter of fact, the clerks and treasurers in their brief on the bill say about these changes: "We no longer have a municipal property tax system; we have a provincial tax system administered by municipalities. The province controls the education tax" - which is true - "it determines classes and subclasses of land, it allocates tax ratios and transition ratios, and now it will determine what goes on the tax notice."


They go on to say, on the provision under the Municipal Act, that the minister halfway through the year can create chaos by changing it. The bills could already have gone out, but the minister could change it. They say:

"Furthermore, under subsection 18, schedule F, the Minister of Finance may by regulation prescribe new transition ratios. This will create an administrative nightmare for municipalities or could be a vehicle for those municipalities that work with the prescribed ratios and later discover the figures are unacceptable to demand assistance from the government."

What we have now is chaos with our municipal property tax system. Probably nothing demonstrated that more than Friday, where the government announced that it is dumping on to property taxpayers $590 million of brand-new expenses. To our business community, by the way, all the money you paid on education last year, in 1997, you'll pay again in 1998. The province has left all of that on business and added $590 million on to property taxes. You can perhaps understand why in this bill the Minister of Finance is giving himself the authority to change these things again halfway through the year. That is why the clerks and treasurers have said this bill is creating administrative chaos. They're right.

Many of us have already had from our small business community -

Mr Bradley: They're up in arms.

Mr Phillips: They're up in arms, my colleague says. Our small business community has had dramatic increases in property tax demands from their landlords. Why? Because Mike Harris decided to get rid of the business occupancy tax and got a nice pat on the back for that, only for them to find out now that it's been all added back on to the commercial-industrial realty tax. Those who were paying high business occupancy taxes, say, the banks - I keep saying this, but it's true. Those five bank towers downtown that you see from these windows will have their property taxes reduced by $3 million each. God bless the banks, and that's good for them, but who will pick up that $15 million?

Mr Bradley: Small businesses.

Mr Phillips: Small business will, and there's no question of that. They're already getting their tax bills. I have a friend who has a small business, with 14 employees. His landlord has already said, "Your property taxes are going to go from $44,000 to $48,000," a 9% increase. That's going to happen. It's guaranteed to happen all around the province. Why? Because the government has not thought through the implications for small business. The clerks and treasurers warn us of the dangers ahead, with Bill 164 now giving the minister the power to set brand-new transition ratios.

I just say to our business community that if I were a businessperson in the province - and I used to be at one time - if I were a member of an organization, the CFIB or the chamber or the board of trade, I would be saying, "I want you to give me an analysis very quickly on what's going to happen with these changes."

We now have four bills. The director of the clerks and treasurers says, "The cumulative effect of Bills 106, 149," the two property tax bills, "160," the education bill, "and 164," the bill we're debating tonight, "is that we no longer have a municipal property tax system; we have a provincial tax system administered by municipalities."

I find that particularly interesting, because when it suits Mike Harris's purposes he will say: "We trust the municipalities. They are the group closest to the public. They're the ones who understand things best." I agree with him. They are. I was in municipal politics, as were many of my colleagues. My colleague Mr Gerretsen was the president of AMO. My colleague Mr Bradley was on the St Catharines council. Many from all parties would be on municipal councils. When it suits Mike Harris's purposes he says, "I trust the municipalities," but now he doesn't. Now he's saying, "I know best."

I keep repeating this, but now the province is in charge and has taken over $6 billion in property tax. For any business in the province, it's Mike Harris who will set the majority of your property taxes. A majority of your property taxes go to education, and Mike Harris and Mike Harris alone will determine that.

Unfortunately, he's determined that any inequities that were built in before are going to stay in there. I read Friday's announcement to mean that if Metro Toronto was raising $700 million from business for education purposes, they'll continue to raise $700 million, and if Kingston was raising $50 million from businesses, they'll continue to raise $50 million. But it will be Mike Harris and Mike Harris alone who will make that decision.

By the way, we'll never get a chance to debate that. None of that will be done here in the Legislature. It'll be done in the quiet of Mike Harris's office in a back room somewhere where they'll make that determination - no debate and no discussion.

I want to speak briefly on the gag components of Bill 164. Again I go back to Mike Harris in the old days. He said: "Municipalities I trust. They're close to the people." There's perhaps nothing quite as important as the communication between the council and its taxpayers when the tax bill goes out. That is the time of accounting for the council, where they're saying, "All right, taxpayers, we now are telling you to pay this amount," and they have the opportunity to describe why that is.

You can understand why Mike Harris put in this act this gag order. It says: "The minister may require that the notice be in a form approved by the minister. A municipality shall not vary the form unless the variation is expressly authorized by the minister." You must get written permission from Mike Harris. "The minister may, by regulation, prescribe the information that must or that may be included on the notice. A municipality shall not include other information on the notice unless expressly authorized to do so by the minister."

Now we've found out why they have that. On Friday, the municipalities got an enormous shock from Mike Harris. He said that this dumping or downloading exercise was going to be revenue-neutral and indicated that municipalities would not be suffering. Well, we've found now that it is not revenue-neutral. They're going to be adding roughly $600 million on to property taxes. You can bet that the council in the city of London, the council in Kingston, the council in St Catharines yesterday, I gather from Mr Bradley -

Mr Bradley: Oh, they're unhappy.

Mr Phillips: They indicated that they would like to tell their taxpayers what the source of the problem is: It's Mike Harris. But this bill, of course, gags them. The only way they can deviate is with express written consent from Harris. I point that out as a concern in Bill 164.

As a side issue - not a side issue; I don't mean to underestimate the importance of it - there are substantial changes here to our provincial savings office. This essentially says that any of the assets of the provincial savings office can be turned over to other financial institutions.


Mr Bradley: Scandalous.

Mr Phillips: My colleague says, "Scandalous." We certainly shouldn't be making a decision to close our savings offices, which have been a well-respected institution in the province of Ontario for decades - we shouldn't be making that kind of decision as a two- or three-paragraph section of a 200-page bill that will be rammed through with no opportunity for amendments, no opportunity for witnesses to come before us to express their concern one way or another on it. There was not one minute given to any public input into this bill.

As I say, you insulted the clerks and treasurers of the province of Ontario, totally insulted them, when they are the ones who will carry the can for the government. They're going to be on the front line. They wrote to the government expressing serious concerns about this and they phoned and said: "We want to appear. We want to go to that committee." They were told: "No way. Don't show up. There will be no opportunity for you to even comment on the bill." As I say, when we arrived there it was: "We now will be voting on the bill. There will be no discussion on the content of the bill. We'll just be voting section by section by section."

So if anybody wants to know why we'll vote against the bill, just listen to this: freedom of information concerns that we were not told the truth about, serious freedom of information concerns; the whole issue of the clerks and treasurers in the strongest possible language saying that this bill is going to cause, to use their language, "administrative chaos" and "an example of flying by the seat of their pants"; the unprecedented gag order. Who has ever told municipalities what they can and cannot say when they send out their tax bill?

Mr Bradley: They won't tell Hazel.

Mr Phillips: My colleague said they won't tell Mayor McCallion from Mississauga. I guarantee you, she will let her ratepayers know.

I would comment just briefly on the job numbers, because this bill is around job creation. I want to say again, if the government believes that the employment situation is just fine, then we have a bigger problem than I think. This document is from the Minister of Finance's office. This isn't some external document; it's produced right over in the minister's office. It was dated December 8, although we got it Monday, conveniently right after the minister's statement.

This is the youth unemployment, and it shows here that in 1995, when Mike Harris became Premier, the unemployment rate among our young people was 15.4%. In 1996 it was 15.6%. We are now 11 months through the year 1997: 17%. So we're going to end the year 1997 with an unemployment rate among our young people very close to 17%. We see the number of unemployed young people has gone from 142,000 to 143,000 to 159,000. All of us should look at that.

I say that it's not working. Our young people are bearing the brunt of the revolution, whether it be with the tuition fee increases that we saw announced by Mike Harris this week of 20% or whether it be with the cuts in support for our public and secondary schools.

By the way, just as an aside on this bill hurting young people, I have a major question around the contribution by the province to the pensions. When there was the Bill 160 debate, Mike Harris put out these statistics to prove Ontario maintains support for education. The big justification was: "We have increased our spending on pensions in 1996 to $925 million and in 1997 to $1.1 billion, and that's why spending on education has gone up."

Well, surprise, surprise. In the statement from the minister yesterday we find that spending on the pensions, instead of the reported $925 million in 1996, was $683 million - $250 million less. Instead of the $1.144 billion, we find $555 million, almost $600 million less.

There is something very strange going on where the government, when it was in the battle with the teachers, announced pension spending that was $800 million higher than the numbers they now have in their budget. These, the ones that were $800 million higher, are dated October 26, 1997.

Something funny happened between October 26 and the announcement made yesterday, where over a two-year period, pension spending was $850 million less than the government reported. I remember very well that Mr Eves came down to the media studio and made a big deal about the spending going on. The operating spending had actually dropped; it was all the pension spending gone up. Now we find, surprise, surprise, in the budget over those two years, $850 million less in the teachers' pension.

I think there'll be some questions asked on that. The reason I am particularly interested in it was that the root of the problem on the teachers' pensions goes back to 1975 when Bill Davis promised fully indexed pensions to teachers, all funded by the province, and never put a penny in it for 10 years. There was never a penny put in. That built up a huge, what's called an unfunded liability, and that created a significant problem. I know a little bit about it because governments were finally forced to recognize that that is a legal obligation that had to begin to be paid off, and the payments started in 1990. But $850 million less a month and a half after these figures came out is reason for question.

The other thing I want to say on the job front, because this is interestingly called a tax credits to create jobs bill, although I repeat, the tax credits to create jobs bill has the assessment corporation set up in it where the province controls it and the municipalities pay for it; it has the freedom of information abuses that the freedom of information commissioner has indicated significant concerns about; it's got kind of unfettered rights for the minister to set tax ratios that the clerks and treasurers say will create administrative chaos.

On the job front the litmus test for me is two things: One is that Mike Harris said his plan would create 725,000 jobs. We now are halfway through that and the government is 120,000 jobs behind target on that. I remember Mike Harris railing at the NDP: "There's half a million people out of work in the province of Ontario. That is awful. Something's go to be done about it." It is awful. But Mike Harris sat there and got at Bob Rae: "Half a million people out of work in the province. How can you live with yourself, Bob Rae?"

Again I say, I imagine all members get the same document I do, but you just take a look at it. This is the Minister of Finance's document, June 1995, 499,000 people out of work; November 1997, 502,000 people.


Mr Baird: How many are working? Why don't you talk about that?

Mr Phillips: The member is talking about jobs created. Yes, there are jobs created. There are 120,000 fewer than Mike Harris promised. I remember this document because Mike Harris didn't even equivocate. He said this plan will create more than 725,000 jobs.

Mr Baird: In five years.

Mr Phillips: In five years. You're halfway through that now and you're 120,000 jobs behind and there are more people out of work -

Hon David Turnbull (Minister without Portfolio): We will create more than anyone else in Canada, Gerry.

Mr Phillips: Mr Turnbull is now going ballistic as he often does. I know I've touched a nerve, but I just say I remember Mike Harris, he was red-faced -

Hon Mr Turnbull: The feds are congratulating themselves -

Mr Phillips: Mr Turnbull's out of hand again. If he wants to speak, he'll have to put himself on the list, but he's red-faced over there. It wasn't me who made the promise, the 725,000 jobs.

I'll just show the people of Ontario again because Mr Turnbull doesn't want to see this. It's 499,000 people out of work when you became Premier, 502,000 now. They also promised 725,000 jobs and they're 120,000 behind that. So Mike Harris is failing, particularly the young people -


Mr Phillips: I know you don't want the public to hear this.

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): No, go ahead.

Hon Mr Turnbull: Tell us how many jobs you havecreated. I see you don't want to mention that.

Mr Phillips: Mr Turnbull's out of control again. He's going to just have to get himself under control.

Mr Bradley: I'm worried about his health.

Mr Phillips: His health, yes. I hope the public can see this. When Mike Harris became Premier, the unemployment rate among young people was 15.4%; now 17%. You are totally failing the young people of Ontario. In 1995 jobs, 781,000; in 1997, 773,000 - 9,000 fewer jobs. Unemployment: 14,000 more young people out of work. These aren't my numbers. They're your numbers. They're Mike Harris's numbers. There they are; just out. Take a look at them. Don't buy these sort of little spin notes you get from Mike Harris's office. Keep the facts yourselves.

I would just say to the public that for a government that talks about running government like a business I have never seen a more disorganized group than this. Bill 164 introduced and then we find the clerks and treasurers - this is a group the public I think can have some real confidence in - saying about this government: "Either way, this bill is a recipe for administrative chaos." They go on to say: "Surely" - and these are the clerks and treasurers, and bureaucrats frankly are quite measured - "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. Yesterday's bill is amended by today's which is likely to be amended by tomorrow's." I don't think anyone could sum up the government better for us than that comment.

We're dealing with a government out of control: The education bill, out of control; the dumping, out of control; the property tax reform, out of control; hospital closing, out of control; youth unemployment, out of control. The only thing we see around here is Mike Harris covering up the problem and the people of Ontario increasingly seeing how desperate the problem is.

I call on my colleague from St Catharines.

Mr Bradley: I wish there were more time to be able to deal with this legislation. Particularly in committee I think it has to be pointed out to people that more and more people now are interested not only in the content of the legislation, but in the manner in which this government is moving forward. I will quote from an editorial from a newspaper not hostile to this government in a while about that idea of the manner in which the government implements its policies.

What people should know is that this isn't a bill about tax credits. This is a bill which includes some information about tax credits but has a lot of other components to it which are detrimental to the people of Ontario.

For instance, I mentioned that there was not time to debate this bill appropriately. The normal process we have is that there is the introduction of the bill, which is routine. That's first reading. At second reading, there's a full debate on the principle of it, and there was a debate on the principle of it. Because we're getting near the end of the session, the opposition wanted to provide some committee time for this bill. Instead of prolonging, as we could have, the debate on second reading, the opposition said: "We will be very reasonable. Let us go to committee. Let the government" - because the government had indicated it had some problems with the bill - "bring forward its amendments, the opposition will bring forward its amendments, and the members of the public who have a specific interest in aspects of this bill will be able to offer their suggestions on amendments." That was a very reasonable course of action.

Mr W. Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): What were you going to do in committee? The same thing you are doing here.

Mr Bradley: My friend from the Ministry of Agriculture knows how reasonable we can be on occasion, and we were so reasonable on this occasion, saying, "Let's go to committee." The member for Oxford likes committees, and he would say, "Here's a good chance for the government to put forward the amendments." Remember, the government was saying they had a few problems with the bill they wanted to fix up, and we wanted to help them out by doing that. As I've said, the opposition parties might consider voting for this bill if there were amendments which removed some of the offensive aspects of it.

I see one of the commissioners of crime coming in now. I'm going to ask him to investigate, because he, along with his two colleagues the member for London South and the member for Cambridge, I think, are called the crime commissioners, crimebusters. I'm going to call upon them to investigate this bill, because one aspect of this bill which is a crime is the fact that the government has not allowed amendments to be put in committee and clause-by-clause discussion of the bill. It simply went to committee and tried to rush it through committee without any consideration. I'm going to turn over to the crime commissioners a complaint about this particular matter, because that is a crime against democracy.

My friends on the opposite side do not want me to mention, I know, what my city council and other municipal councils are concerned about: the censorship aspect of this bill. Last night at St Catharines city council and Niagara city council and so on, the headline comes out, "Councils Rebuke Tories." On these councils are a number of people who probably voted for you in the last election, in good faith thought that maybe you could move the province in the right direction.

They're now saying, and you can see this, Mr Speaker - I hold it for you because I know you like to see these things - "Councils Rebuke Tories." "Government Downloading Deceit Prompts Protest Letters and Defiance from Niagara Politicians," says the subheadline. One member of St Catharines city council, a person who is a noted small-c conservative, a person who has on occasion been, I think unfairly, referred to as Dr Negative and Professor No, because he's an economics professor who has questioned every expenditure as it comes before city council, as members should - here's what he had to say about what was happening with the downloading. "`This represents the ultimate in deceit,' said St Catharines Councillor Joe Kushner." I would not use that terminology because that's out of order in the House, but that's what Councillor Kushner had to say. Let's put that aside.

There are others who have had things to say as well. Mayor Wayne Thomson of Niagara Falls had the following to say when he was told that his council could not put on the tax bill their evaluation of the reasons why there would be a tax increase. It says: "In Niagara Falls, Mayor Wayne Thomson vowed to defy any such prohibition and said he'll be sure his taxpayers understand any tax hikes. `We're not going to abide by that,' said Thomson. `We're going to make it very clear why this is happening.'"


Niagara-on-the-Lake council also decided to protest the provincial cutbacks and will send a letter to the government. Councillors in St Catharines "agreed to ask the province to take note of the city's fiscal responsibility over the years and reconsider the funding allotment. Council also supported Councillor Kushner's motion to consider including a notice explaining the reasons for the tax increase with the property tax bill, something which may be prohibited by the provincial government."

Members of the government will say, "Why don't you ask them to put a letter in with it, then?" The problem with that is the following: Councils are trying to save money. They don't want to have to spend more money on another piece of paper. Many of them are environmentalists and they say: "Why would we have any additional paper? Why can't we just put this on the tax bill itself?"

I think that's reasonable, but I had to say to them, "I'll go to Queen's Park, I'll go to the Parliament building and I'll try to persuade the Conservative members to allow you to put this information on the bill, not to censor you," because I know they would be concerned about the environmental degradation that would take place by using more paper, unnecessarily so. Individual members would be extremely concerned, I'm sure, that there not be censorship, that there not be additional costs incurred by having to purchase more paper to include in the tax bill, I thought a good argument. What happened? I went into the committee where this bill was to be considered, and the government members had shut down any opportunity, by means of a closure motion, to have any such amendments put.

I know the councillors in the Niagara region, whether they're Conservative supporters or not, won't take this lying down. They were concerned. The headline, as I showed you, said, "Councils Rebuke Tories." Then I thought: "Maybe there's some good news in the paper. Maybe somebody else will be saying something good about the government." I looked, and it says, "Board Struggles With Budget: Provincial Downloading and Unforeseen Costs Leave Members Uncertain on Where to Cut Spending." That's the Niagara Regional Police Force. They're worried. I'm going to tell this to the commissioner; the crime commissioners, the three amigos, are going to have to investigate this. The police commission is in trouble with its funding because of the downloading from the provincial government. I think this is another matter for the commissioners to investigate. I'll be getting Bob Wood, Jim Brown and the member for Cambridge investigate this.


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

Mr Bradley: Here's a letter to the editor called "Letter of the Week." This is from the director of education, Niagara South Board of Education. The headline says, "School Board Boss: Tories' Management Record is Awful." I was startled to read that in the newspaper. I become concerned, because I know a lot of the trustees used to be Conservatives, and they had a concern about this. I looked at that and said, "I'm trying to find some good news in the paper for the Conservative government."

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What did Bob Welch's assistant say?

Mr Bradley: Carol Jones, who is the constituency assistant to Bob Welch, was physically ejected from a hearing in St Catharines as she tried to make a presentation on a piece of legislation, in that case Bill 160 - physically ejected. This is Bob Welch's former constituency assistant and one of the workers in the election for the member for Lincoln, Frank Sheehan. She worked out in Lincoln for Frank Sheehan -

Mr Gerretsen: Did Frank give them the wrong date for the meeting?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands.

Mr Bradley: She will be sending a letter, because I received a letter from her, to all members of the Legislature expressing her views. Perhaps I'll be able to share parts of it with members of the House; I don't think I will today.

Here's the St Catharines Standard, a Southam newspaper partially owned by everyone's favourite big owner, Conrad Black, the friend of the Harris government, constituent of the Honourable David Turnbull, we now call him, the chief government whip. You'll remember a television series about the chief government whip in Britain and the authority and control he exercised. I think that as he assumed this position he reviewed the tapes of that and is following that on this occasion.

Here's what the St Catharines Standard had to say today about the downloading. The headline for the editorial in this Black-owned newspaper said, "Semantics of Downloading Don't Obscure Sorry Truth." I'm going to share with members of the Legislature what it says. I'll read the whole thing because it says some complimentary things. I don't want to just take excerpts. I want to be fair. Where it says good things about you, I want you to hear those as well. It reads as follows:

"As the Ontario Tories continue their bold strokes towards rewriting the way all sorts of public services are administered and paid for, it has become apparent that the Harris government is painting itself into a corner of mistrust from which it will be unable to emerge before the next election.

"The problem is not so much the government's aims. The problem is the government's credibility, which this past weekend suffered another major blow when it finally revealed the startling cost of downloading.

"There is little doubt that many voters still endorse the premise of the Common Sense Revolution: reduce the government's role in and the administrative bulk of services and programs, and reduce the taxpayers' cost of sustaining those services. Overhauling some big, time-honoured institutions would give legislators the surplus needed to ease tax requirements and reduce Ontario's deficit and debt.

"It's a tough job. Achieving such an ambitious goal would be an enormous task for any party, and the Tories have had their share of problems getting from mission statement to real world, but the ballooning haemorrhage of public faith clearly stems from the autocratic contempt with which they go about implementing change.

"For Niagara taxpayers the latest seeds of discontent came Friday, when Queen's Park revealed the funding formula for downloading - just 19 days before municipal governments inherit the full cost of such services as public transit, social housing, public health, ambulances, and sewer and water. In return, the province picks up such considerable expenses as education and health care.

"For months now, senior members of the Harris government, Premier included, have insisted this whole exchange would be `revenue-neutral' and would not result in the need for property tax increases. Over the past few days, cabinet generals Eves and Leach have continued to preach that, through temporary stopgap bridging grants and still deeper budget cuts by municipalities, there should be no reason for property taxes to go up.

"But as we learned in Friday's bombshell, the government's definition of `revenue-neutral' seems to accommodate a shortfall in Niagara of about $25 million in funding for those programs. Ratepayers will inevitably face not only tax increases, but cuts in some services, and bigger user fees for others.

"This government lied to Ontario" - I don't know if we can say that, Mr Speaker. You'd better check with the table. I'm reading from an editorial and the editorial says that this government lied to Ontario. What is the ruling on that? I have to find that out. See, I'm trying to be fair. I'm trying to see what the rule is. I'm not saying this; I'm reading the editorial. What is the ruling?

The Acting Speaker: I think it's somewhat out of order.

Mr Bradley: Okay. It's somewhat out of order.

The Acting Speaker: Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention, but it's out of order.


Mr Bradley: I will tell the people at the St Catharines Standard that while they can print this, we can't read this in the Ontario Legislature. That seems strange. I will go on.

"Their `tax cut' is a tax transfer to the local bill. They may not have known the exact downloading numbers for different cities, but if the Tories were doing any homework on downloading, they obviously knew that the approach could not work without either tax hikes, substantial user fees, crumbling roads, service cuts, or all of the above. But for months they have opted to pretend otherwise.

"A government interested in making this policy succeed - and it can succeed - would have been willing to demonstrate a bit of leadership and work with municipalities on a completed downloading strategy before implementing it. But the government has maimed itself again by short-circuiting the democratic process. The Tories are not in the habit of seeking input from affected parties - mayors, doctors, teachers, hospital unions - before ordering a shotgun wedding.

"In being short-sightedly deceitful" - they say "deceitful"; I can't use that - "about the cost of downloading, the Tories were also politically foolish. As they disenfranchise themselves even further from their core support of traditional fiscal Conservatives who deplore tax hikes, it increasingly seems that this government's cynicism is eliminating its chances of being re-elected.

"It is the lack of integrity in the downloading exercise that reveals a character flaw which we find very troubling: a government's willingness to mislead its constituents in order to achieve its political goals."

That's their opinion. As I say, we in this House have rules that we cannot use - but that's the St Catharines Standard.

You'll notice the editorial tried to be balanced. It tried to say the St Catharines Standard editorial board agreed with some of what you are doing. I can't say I do. What they said in effect was, if you're going to have a transfer of responsibility from one level of government to the other, it should make sense as to what items you transfer to the local government and which go to the provincial government.

I don't think that is the argument, about whether there should be a shift of some of those responsibilities. It may make sense. Many municipal politicians over the years have said that they would like to see more of the cost of education assumed by the provincial government, and it would make sense with some hard services if it were revenue-neutral. In other words, if it didn't cost the municipality any more or necessitate deeper cuts for municipalities, they would be prepared to go along with it.

There's an editorial which I think characterizes one of the things wrong with what the government is doing with Bill 164.

Bill 164, by the way, in case some of the government members, because they're so busy, may not have had a chance to read through its entirety, makes amendments to the famous Bill 160. That's because the government didn't want to open Bill 160 up for further debate and discussion. They were busy ramming through yet another closure motion closing off, choking off debate on that bill. So they used another bill to make amendments to Bill 160, and indeed to Bill 149 and to Bill 106. I think most people would say that's sloppy.

Here's what the municipal clerks and treasurers had to say about Bill 164. They're neutral people. They're not Liberals or Conservatives or New Democrats or something else. I quote from them:

"The cumulative effect of Bills 106, 149, 160 and now 164 is that we no longer have a municipal property tax system. We have a provincial tax system administered by municipalities. The province controls the education tax, it determines classes and subclasses of land, it allocates tax ratios and transition ratios. And now it may determine what will go on the tax notice."

They are concerned about that. They would say, "If this is going to happen, don't censor us." Didn't we abolish the censor board in Ontario some time ago? I think we now have a film review board. This old censor board is gone and now we have a new censor provision contained in this piece of legislation.

It also allows the minister to change, as I mentioned, these property taxes. It allows for setting up new fees for appeals of tax problems. There's Mike Harris again raising taxes. Remember when Mike Harris said - and I agree with him. My friend the chief government whip will remember this well. I don't always disagree with Mike Harris. I agreed with him when he said that a user fee is a tax, and here I see that the bill is setting up new fees for appeals of tax problems.

I'm going to have to review the number of tax increases I've seen this government responsible for. Today I had it up to 198 I've counted. I've had people tell me, "You've got to spend more time looking at this because you've missed several tax increases that have been the responsibility of this government." Indeed, I probably have. So I see yet another tax increase.

Let me tell you about the Province of Ontario Savings Office. This is a successful financial operation which serves the needs of people who want a certain kind of service: a very personable service, somewhere where you can speak to people. Maybe they don't have some of the additional services banks provide, but their depositors are satisfied. Now, because it moves, the government wants to privatize it.

Every time the government privatizes something, there's a lineup of friends of the government waiting to make some money on the privatization. The problem is, we don't have any legislation. The judge from Ottawa-Rideau would know this and he would be concerned about this. There is not a bill available which would govern lobbying and people who could have a conflict of interest when the privatization takes place.

Privatization is another debate, but if you're going to do it, you should have that kind of legislation in place before it happens. With his legal background, he would be very helpful in drawing up some of the legislation. They should have listened to you. They should have canvassed some of the people with a legal background and said, "Let's put this in place before privatization," to allay the concerns of those who might believe that there would be somebody out there benefiting, that there would be people rubbing their hands saying: "Oh, I can't wait until the government privatizes the LCBO," or, "I can't wait for those charity casinos, to get money out of those," something like that, or the Province of Ontario Savings Office.

The government has been negligent in not bringing forward that conflict-of-interest legislation, that lobbying legislation which was promised several months ago but didn't hit the top of the docket. I would have been prepared to see that passed this session. I say that to the chief government whip, how reasonable I want to be. I would have been pleased to see that passed.

So the government has a bill. It's 200 pages long. The government is ramming it through the Legislature this week. My concern is that, not satisfied with that, the government has yet two more time allocation motions - which I believe are out of order, but that's another point - which seek to take five bills - it was six bills previously - put them all into one motion and ram them through the Legislature. Each of those bills, and there's a little bit of similarity there, has not come before the House before. There's been no debate on them at all. They are called red tape bills.

The opposition never likes time allocation or closure motions, but if you have a bill that's been debated a long time and has gone through several stages, while we may object to a time allocation motion, more objective people than those in the House might say, "Well, that's reasonable; it's had a lot of debate," and it might be reasonable after a certain period of time to impose that time allocation motion. But these red tape bills that the government now wants to ram through the House this evening have not even been called for consideration. They are going to simply sweep them through the House with a big broom.

The St Catharines Standard has said it; the political representatives in Niagara, $25 million short, have said it: Bill 164 has provisions which are unacceptable.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Mr Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to comment on the comments of the member for St Catharines, who spoke very clearly and eloquently about the concern we have with Bill 164, which is before us here this afternoon, but even more particularly about the context in which this bill rolls out and comes at us, the undemocratic nature of the way this stuff is being rammed through. We have two days left in this place, and I think there are some 80 bills yet to be passed and no room for debate, discussion, no respect whatsoever for the processes we've put in place in this province over a large number of years to make sure that everything we do is in the best interests of the people of Ontario, that everything we do reflects a common interest in this place and the common good.

There are so many members across the way who have spoken in this place over the last two or three weeks to indicate to us where they stand on that kind of behaviour: 100% behind it, 100% in support of it. The member for St Catharines very clearly pointed out, and he chose his own area in Niagara and some of the newspapers printed down there and the editorials that are being written to indicate to us how the people of your jurisdiction, your constituency, your community are feeling about all of this.

I think it's rather shameful - a bit of an overused word in this place - that you don't take your responsibility a lot more seriously and come here to speak on behalf of the people you represent and to speak in this place about their concern, their fear and anxiety, because it's everywhere, it's all over the place. It's not just in Sault Ste Marie, Manitouwadge, Sudbury and St Catharines; it's everywhere. It's in every community, on every street, in every home in this community: anxiety up to the eyeballs. You guys will be responsible and you'll take the hit, believe me.

Hon Mr Turnbull: First of all, in responding to the Liberals' comments, I would put the counterpoint, and this is from Joe Cordiano, who was very recently the deputy leader of the provincial Liberal Party. His comment yesterday about the economic statement from Mr Eves was:

"`The province is doing very well,' veteran Liberal MPP Joe Cordiano said yesterday. `Revenues will be way up, and the deficit will be on the way down,' he said of Eves's economic fall statement."

I think at least one member of their party is able to recognize the truth here. The Liberals are the party that went to the electorate after three years - 33 tax increases they put through to the poor people of this province. Inflation was being driven out of this province. Ask all of the western premiers; they were complaining to the federal government at the time about the inflation that was occurring as a result of the out-of-control Liberals.

They went to the electorate after three years. They had a massive majority and yet after three years they knew the economy was shaky because of all those tricks, like preflow, where they took revenues that should have been recognized in the following year and recognized them that year, and the expenditures they should have recognized in that fiscal year they put off till the following year, and the NDP had to end up eating it. This is their idea of economics. They only understand increasing expenditures and playing shell games.

This government is prepared to take the tough actions which sometimes don't make you popular but are in the best interests of the poor taxpayers of this province so that our children have a future.

Mr Gerretsen: Sir, you could teach us all about playing shell games, because you are the government that is giving the well-off people in this province a tax cut and is at the same time increasing property tax rates. Let's not forget the fact that you've had 198 tax increases through user fees over the last two years.

I want to quote very quickly from a letter we received from Carol Jones, which my colleague the member for St Catharines referred to. This lady says:

"Since 1961, I have performed every necessity that would ensure the election of a specific political party in the province of Ontario. I have...stuffed envelopes, licked stamps, phone banks. I gave my total commitment to the Progressive Conservative Party.

"As of 1995, I now know, I owe an apology to many citizens of various areas throughout the Niagara region, who I asked to support the Common Sense Revolution. From my reading of the Common Sense document I understood there would be `no cuts to health or education.'...

"The Common Sense Revolution has turned out to be pure unadulterated horse manure.

"The Premier and his sitting members at Queen's Park must remember, what was elected in 1995 in Ontario was supposed to be the Progressive Conservative Party" -


The Acting Speaker: Order. That's not the type of language which is accepted in the House. You know that. Although you're quoting, you're saying it in an indirect fashion, and I don't accept it. Please.

Mr Gerretsen: Speaker, I am just -

The Acting Speaker: No argument. I don't accept it, period.

Mr Gerretsen: And I accept what you're saying, sir. Since I now only have 27 seconds left, I will simply quote the last paragraph:

"I would also like to advise the Premier his partnership with the Reform Party has been a tremendous success. The Reform Party has already started selling themselves to organizations in the Niagara region as a viable alternative. Congratulations."

It would behoove all of us who have got a copy of this letter, and I know we all do, to read it carefully because this lady has it right on -

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired.

Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate my friend from St Catharines for his comments in describing the editorial remarks that have been issued as a result of the downloading of this government on the municipalities of the Niagara region and his general description of the reaction of the members of his community to the government's actions.

I was actually present at the incident when Ms Jones rose to make her intervention in the hearing on Bill 160 and where she was actually escorted out by two very burly plainclothes OPP officers. She made it very clear that for most of her adult life she had worked for the Progressive Conservative Party and that she felt this party, this government, had betrayed her, that she would no longer work for this party. She considered it regressive, not progressive, a Reform Party rather than a Progressive Conservative Party as she knew it under Bill Davis and John Robarts.

While we can't use the language, Speaker, that she used in her letter, I saw the anger in her eyes, the disappointment in her eyes, about what this government is doing. Her comments and then the comments made just a moment ago by the member for York Mills remind me of the quote from Jesse Helms. I never thought I'd be quoting Jesse Helms, but when he was asked to comment about the neo-conservative Republicans who were elected in the last congressional election, he said, "Well, you know, them boys are sometimes wrong but they're never in doubt." This government is never in doubt. They're often wrong, but they're never in doubt. That's what this government is about and that's why Ms Jones rejected them.

The Acting Speaker: Response?

Mr Bradley: Thank you very much for the opportunity to respond. I appreciate all the comments from the various members, some of which were relevant to my remarks and some which were totally irrelevant. That's the way the House operates, and that's fine. But I notice that none of the government members got up to object to the time allocation motion, first of all, and the fact that this government has a terrible record now of bringing forward time allocation motions.

I didn't hear them express their apprehension that the government now wants to completely destroy the House by bringing in a time allocation motion which will take five bills from unrelated ministries, place them in one motion, and give virtually no debate on them. None of those bills has been called for debate in this House. So the government is just taking them off the shelf, putting them before the Legislature in one motion and wanting to sweep them away. My view is that would be out of order; if not out of order, highly unethical. I frankly don't think you'll get away with it. If I were to make a prediction, I would say that the people of Ontario would be outraged by this government endeavouring to do that.

I didn't hear any of the government members get up to object to that. I thought they might have done so, because it's in the interests of all parliamentarians for this not to happen.

With this bill, I didn't hear any member of the government get up to say they objected to the censorship of our local municipal representatives, censoring them from placing on the tax bill information that they believe would be relevant. I know, whether it's in Port Colborne or St Catharines or Fort Erie or Niagara Falls, that all these people want to be able to inform the electorate why their taxes are going to go up. If they're going to have to spend more money now on paper, that's going to cost them more money and it's going to be environmentally undesirable to do so.


Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I hope all members would join me in welcoming the member for Dovercourt.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Let me begin by informing the House that I will be sharing the time available to our caucus with our House leader, the member for Algoma, and also the member for Sault Ste Marie.

We find ourselves with very little time to debate and very little time left when addressing Bill 164. A short while back the government recognized the error of its ways and had very little time, so they decided to invent a process under the heading "omnibus." You see, they made so many mistakes on the bill dealing with education. Bill 160 was very controversial. They came up and were turned back at the door with draft amendments. It was sloppy work. They did the profession, they did the education system in. But it was not enough.

In their haste to complete the vindictiveness, they have to come up before January 1 with some additions, some amendments, some more rules and regulations. On the downloading bill - you know what I'm referring to because your taxes are about to be impacted negatively where you live, Speaker, like millions of other hard-working taxpayers in Ontario. They screwed up on Bill 149 rather big time, and on other bills.

When you look at Bill 164, it's 199 pages, and it's called sort of a tax relief, job creator. There are some minor adjustments, incentives for mainly the small business community in the first nine or 10 pages of the bill. If you look at the overall agenda, they are not of a consequential nature. They're rather minor. But what is very impacting, very consequential is the remaining 190 or so pages in Bill 164.

What they have done, simply put, because they don't believe in debating, they don't believe in bringing matters to committee and inviting the general public, Ontarians, to come and debate and exchange ideas - that's the way you build programs, that's the way you build legislation. Then you go through regulation, and you've heard lots during those public hearings, and you give the regulatory body the oxygen to put the bill, the law, alive.

But the Common Sense Revolution is not a very strong believer in participatory democracy. Bien au contraire, quite the contrary. They are a unit, a government, a regime in a hurry. Beware; by way of participating, by way of public hearings, by way of sharing ideas, you will be deemed, you will be seen to get in the way.

They've fast-tracked the legislation. Those bills must be in place by January 1, 1998. We've just witnessed the downloading extraodinaire, the devolution, the reluctance from the present government to assume their responsibility; $590 million of new costs from the province to the municipalities. It's your responsibility now, small towns, hamlets, villages, unorganized territories, medium-sized cities, large cities. You will pay because their program, the Common Sense Revolution, makes mention of a tax break mainly for those who can get by without it, mainly for the rich, the most fortunate.

Mr Bradley: A tax gift.

Mr Pouliot: A tax gift of $5.4 billion. And they call themselves fiscally responsible. This is a government that, each and every hour of every day, borrows, not only in Canada but internationally, $624,000 more than they take in. That's what they spend, all with borrowed money. Does it make any sense to you that when all is said and done the provincial debt in a time of so-called recovery will have gone up by more than 20%? Is this good fiscal management? Does that make sense to you?

The Honourable Ernie Eves, Minister of Finance, tabled the Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. I have it right here. This is not my document. I'm merely the critic for our party. This is the official document of the government of Ontario through the auspices, the tutelage, the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, M. Ernie Eves. This is what he informed the House yesterday: Despite the government's actions to date, the public debt in Ontario will be over $117 billion once the deficit - hopefully - is eliminated. This is what he's saying. The debt will be over $117 billion because we all have to pay for your mismanagement, Minister of Finance. This is your responsibility.

Public debt interest in 1993-94 was $7.129 billion; in 1994-95, $7.832 billion. Since they took office, it went from $7.8 billion to $8.4 billion to $8.6 billion, and the outlook for 1997-98 - their figures, their admission - $9.086 billion. Unbelievable, $2 billion more than in actual year 1993-94. They pride themselves, they pat themselves on the back saying, "We are good administrators." At the same time they download on the teachers, download on civil servants - they fired 14,000 of them - kids are doing without supplies. You saw the bus shelter on your way to work today - it's grab a number, sir - more homeless; poverty among young people, unemployment in the age group from 16 to 24. It's plainly catastrophic.

They say we're having a recovery. Yes, a recovery and a tax break for winner take all, not for the middle class on this eve of Christmas. They're being left twisting in the wind, filled with fear, filled with anxiety as to their future. If you're a student about to enter post-secondary education and you wish to have access to a house of excellence where you can arm yourself with knowledge, give yourself the tools to defend and "integrate" in our economic society and future, you are out of luck. Your fees are about to go up between 5% and 10% on top of the 10% last year and the 10% the previous year.

Speaker, have you had enough? I have had enough with the Common Sense Revolution. They can plainly stick it in their ear. This is not the way to go about prosperity. Each day it's the final straw. The trumpets, the fanfare, said $590 million.


Mr Pouliot: No, they didn't say this. Their communiqué to their commissars of publicity - oh, Izvestia and Pravda would have been proud - is in the same style of: "This is revenue-neutral. This is what we'll do. You will be responsible for a whole range of services, but hey, you'll like it. Try it. It's not going to cost you anything." They call it local services realignment.

I have Manitouwadge here. I live in that small community of some 3,200 Ontarians. Social assistance, child care, public health, ambulances, social housing, children's aid society, property assessment, transit - we don't have transit, so we don't - what am I saying? Hold it. I haven't seen it, but it's another $17 million. Septic inspections, policing, $489 million. Then they say, "Net change: Zero." But what they say is savings in 1998 equal to 1.7% of own purpose spending. This is the last straw. You do the savings. You lose the weight, not me.

Last week I bought 100 shares listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. I bought 100 shares at $1. This week I sold the same 100 shares at the same price, at $1. So my broker Harry says: "Mr Pouliot, you broke even. It's revenue-neutral." I get the bill, but if I'm in Toronto there's a 4.2% commission, if I'm in a smaller town there's a 3.2% commission, and if I live in Manitouwadge my broker only charges me 1.7% commission. If I keep breaking even, I'll end up in the poor house as a destitute. Maybe that's where they want me.

This is the way they run the books of Ontario, and if you say it loud enough, if you say it often enough, there will be some takers. Some people will believe that Mike Harris and other merchants of fear and anxiety are telling the truth, for you have to believe someone.

Thank heaven for the opposition, that we still, in our constitutional monarchy, after many vain efforts, have some voice. Time has been taken away from us, along with many other long-standing rules benefited by all through tradition. But when they came in with the determination, with their manifesto, their agenda, they saw that time was to be a problem just as much as Her Majesty's loyal opposition made up of both the Liberals and the New Democrats.

The clock was ticking and the conductors that they hire reached in their side pocket and said, "The trains have to run on time," and now the watch will go back in the pocket because they know they still have to call an election some time.

Why not tell the truth? Why not try it? It might just work. Maybe people would have better expectations of their representatives. What's wrong? It helps the memory. All you have to remember is the truth. But when you play vulgar shell games with the lives of people, people who believe in the institution, it is not very healthy.

This is simple: $5.4 billion has to be made up. What do you do? They've done it. You start with those who don't have much of a voice - and you will see them around, the less fortunate, les marginalisés - and then you move up the proverbial food chain, except this time it's real, and you go after the public servants, because you have declared them "the enemy." You put a big tag on them and you cultivate that, and you go after them.

Then you go after your most educated in the province, 126,000 community leaders. No other group so large has more responsibility, but you go after them. Oh, you forget from time to time some of the élite, and I know we need them, the medical profession. In their case, you wrestled them to the ceiling. You see, they do quite well. You made a deal with them. Then you keep going after the middle class, and on and on. Vous connaissez le reste, the remainder of this sad legacy.

Then, after January, they will try to forget: "Don't leave. Don't leave with the children. I will stop doing what I do to you." It will be the "loves me, love me not" again. It will not work. The abuse has been of such magnitude, how can anyone forget what they have systematically done in their constant effort to benefit those who already have the most?

Needless to say, we will be voting against Bill 164 with all the sincerity and effort that our small numbers, with the Liberals, command. We have no illusions. At the end of the day, the majority muscle will one more time prevail and the Common Sense Revolution will win at the expense of common sense.

I said at the beginning that I would be sharing the time with two of my most distinguished colleagues, and I shall do so.

Mr Wildman: I want to join the debate. I was just reminded by my friend from Lake Nipigon, when he referred to Izvestia and Pravda, of an old Soviet joke. For those of you who may not know, in Russian "pravda" means truth and "izvestia" means news. It really is apropos of what my friend was saying about this government's news releases, because the joke in Russian was, "There's no news in truth and there's no truth in news." That really does apply to this government's press releases and communiqués around the downloading to the municipalities. The revenue-neutral mantra that this government keeps singing is just plain silly. The fact is that the revenue neutrality is predicated upon the municipalities making cuts. That's the only way it works, so it is not revenue-neutral in any way, shape or form. If the municipalities are able to make the cuts, they will not have to raise taxes, that's true, but it's not revenue-neutral. This government continually says "revenue-neutral, revenue-neutral," as if their brains were in neutral.

The fact is this: The government is downloading services and costs to the municipality. They have cut the unconditional grants, and now they're saying to the municipalities, "You have to cut some more." The small municipalities have been told they have to cut 1.7% of their budget, and the government is saying: "That shouldn't be difficult. They should be able to do it." The fact is that it is not revenue-neutral, yet the members of the government continually say "revenue-neutral, revenue-neutral." It's sort of like a chant that if they say it often enough, they'll actually believe it themselves. But in fact it's not correct, it's not true. So there is no news in truth and no truth in news as far as this government's communications go.


Bill 164, which is time-allocated and which we are now debating, is a demonstration of what this government does when it is in such a hurry to ram legislation through that it is prepared to risk making mistakes for the sake of speed. This bill is characterized as a tax bill in that it makes changes in a number of tax regimes for business, largely small business. But it also has in it incorporated a number of other things that are an indication of what happens when the government goes in too much of a hurry. Obviously, this Bill 164, which was only introduced in the House in late November, was introduced prior to the passage of Bill 149 and Bill 160, and this Bill 164 includes in it amendments to those pieces of legislation.

It is completely irresponsible for a government to move legislation through so quickly and not to allow any amendments to legislation, and then to find that there need to be amendments later and to actually bring in new legislation to amend it. What the government should have done is taken the proper time and care to deal with Bills 149 and 160 in a way that could have led to themselves making improvements on the bill rather than just saying, "We're going to pass them and get them through as quickly as possible."

To time-allocate this legislation, which was only introduced in late November, is an indication of the abuse that this government is willing to move to in order to move its agenda forward and to shackle the members of the opposition and make it difficult for them to speak on behalf of their constituents and those who may have questions and concerns about the legislation.

As has been said in this House, this bill is 199 pages. It enacts a number of corporate tax breaks and it creates a property assessment corporation to facilitate the download or the privatization of assessment work which is currently done by the Ministry of Finance. As I said, stuck in the middle are some amendments to Bill 149 and to Bill 160.

As one other member said in this debate earlier, with this government it's better to look at legislation at the back and go to the front than to start at the front and go to the back, because usually at the back you find what the bill is really about. In the back of this bill is what is called appendix G, which sets up the Ontario Property Assessment Corp. The assessment work which is currently done by 1,700 members of the public service will now be downloaded and privatized under this new corporation. But it's not a crown agency and there's no indication of what's going to happen to these 1,700 employees.

The municipalities will have to pick up the tab for this work starting in January 1998, a couple of weeks from now, yet they will have no say in the operation of this corporation. In other words, once again the municipalities are being given by this government the costs, without being the boss.

It's interesting that David Crombie, who was the appointee of the government under the Who Does What process, stated, "Transferring assessment should occur when the revised assessment system has been stabilized," not when you're in the middle of it, as we are now. Mr Crombie said, "Moving sooner could jeopardize the accuracy and quality of the assessments and undermine the integrity of the process."

This is a government that is going to ignore Mr Crombie's advice and move forward, despite the fact that the integrity of the assessment process, the basis of our property tax system, will be jeopardized, according to Mr Crombie, who has tremendous experience in municipal affairs and in government generally and was appointed because of that experience to give advice to the government. The government simply cherry-picks and chooses that advice it wishes to follow and ignores the rest.

In our view, these issues raised by Mr Crombie deserve close study, and that's why we said when this bill was introduced that it should go to a committee for public hearings. In this House, when we were debating this bill, Bill 164, on second reading, at the end of the second reading debate 12 members of the House stood to order the bill to a committee so we could have hearings and deal with the issues raised by Mr Crombie, among others.

The Minister of Finance said the committee that should deal with it should be the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. We thought there was going to be an opportunity for the employees who are currently doing the work, the people who know assessment in the province, for the municipalities and people interested in property values, which would probably be most of the taxpayers in the province, to actually have the opportunity to appear before a committee and raise concerns and questions that would be dealt with by the committee.

And yet, what happened? Almost immediately after the bill was referred to committee by the Minister of Finance, the government House leader brought in a time allocation motion which we are now debating.

Mr Baird: No, we're not. It's third reading.

Mr Wildman: We're debating third reading as a result of the time allocation motion. That time allocation motion did include the committee. We've objected in the past when time allocation motions haven't allowed for committee, but this matter had been referred to committee so it had to deal with the committee.

But what did it instruct the committee to do? It didn't say: "Hold hearings for two or three days." It didn't say: "Do clause-by-clause over a period of a couple of days." It didn't give a time limit by which time amendments should be tabled. The time allocation motion said that immediately upon sitting last evening at 7 o'clock, the committee should begin to vote to refer the bill back to the House immediately.

It circumvented the committee work. It thwarted the wishes of the House. It made a sick joke of the whole committee process and rule 71(c) of our standing orders, which gives individual members the right to attempt to refer issues and bills to committee. Twelve members, if they stand, as a minority, can refer a bill out to a standing committee.

This time allocation motion effectively renders standing order 71(c) mute. It has no meaning any more. The rights of the members of the House to refer matters to committee are irrelevant now because they no longer have any impact or effect. So much for these new rules that this government touted as rules that would give individual members more say. The justification for the government moving forward on the rule changes was that individual members had to have more say.

In this particular rule, 71(c), individual members do have a say. They have the right to affect the process by moving a bill out to committee. This time allocation motion is precedent-setting in that it simply meant the committee was perfunctory. It had no real effect, no impact, it didn't allow for any amendments. A bill that is 199 pages, this government would have us believe, is perfect and doesn't need to have any real scrutiny, doesn't have to be investigated, each clause doesn't need to be looked at, doesn't need any amendment.

Talk about arrogance. It isn't wise, because we see that in this bill itself they're attempting to fix up two other bills they had time-allocated and rushed through the House, Bill 149 and Bill 160. Mark my words, I suspect that in the spring session when we come back there will be legislation that will be amending Bill 164 because this government rushed it through without any real scrutiny, without clause-by-clause. Some bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance within a couple of months will notice: "Hey, wait a minute. We've got this clause in here and it doesn't do what we thought it was going to do. It's messed it up. We'd better bring in a bill to amend it."


What will happen? I suspect in June, near the end of the spring session, the Treasurer will suddenly table a bill two weeks before the end and say, "We've got to have this in effect before July because we messed up on Bill 164 and we need to fix it up." Then the government will say to the opposition, "Well, we know it's unreasonable to expect you to have to act on this in only two weeks, but we must have this in effect because if we don't, the sky will fall in because the Ministry of Finance has screwed up once again." That's what will happen.

What's coming to an end is the rights of members in this House to effect the parliamentary and legislative process, and that is most unfortunate for the democracy of this province.

The other things that's been raised is appendix F, if we're moving backwards in this bill. Appendix F has been debated, and I won't go on at length, but I will just remind members that appendix F censors the tax bills of the municipalities. It prevents the municipalities from putting on the tax bills an explanation of the reason why there have been cuts or there have been tax increases.

The government argues no, that if they want to, they can put an additional piece of paper in the envelope explaining that, at greater expense to the ratepayers of the municipalities. Of course the reason the government wants to do this censorship of the tax bills is because they don't want most people to see it. They don't want people to know that they're going to have a property tax increase because of the downloading done by this government. For the first time in my memory, a government of Ontario is telling the municipalities they don't have the right to inform their ratepayers in a straightforward manner the reason for the tax increases they are experiencing.

We are opposed to Bill 164. We're opposed to the time allocation motion. We're opposed to the process this government is using. We're opposed to the suggestion that this government doesn't believe that committees should have the right to scrutinize bills and to amend bills and hold the government accountable. We're opposed to the subversion of the democratic process that this time allocation motion represents in this House and, for that reason, my colleagues and I will be voting against this bill at third reading.

Mr Martin: I too appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about this bill at this time in the history of this government, another example of their action to ram legislation through and then have to pick up the pieces later.

Bill 164, the Tax Credits to Create Jobs Act, 1997: Excuse me if I feel a wave of cynicism coming over me when I read the name of that bill.

Mr Pouliot: Oh, Tony, you are the last person -

Mr Martin: I know it doesn't happen to me often. I'm not the cynical type. It's not my nature to be cynical or negative. I'm usually fairly positive and willing to go the distance to lend someone the benefit of the doubt. But in this instance, after so many bills that have come into this House named to speak of some great thing that's going to happen once it's applied and the order of the day, only to turn around and to find out that it in fact is a Trojan horse and inside are all kinds of malprocesses and effort to make sure that one of just a small number of things happen in this province. One is that the ability of government to play an important role in the life of the people who choose to call Ontario home is diminished, an effort to make sure that the government is not spending money in those places that give to the people of Ontario the kind of decent living that they have come to expect over the years and a bill, at the end of the day, to return to those who are most wealthy among us a tax break for which they have not worked and which they do not need.

This is an omnibus bill, jammed with items that have very little to do with tax credits and nothing at all with creating work or creating jobs; nothing at all to do with the 725,000 jobs that were promised during the election campaign of 1995 that so many people were hoodwinked into believing would actually happen. So many of them as a matter of fact were so convinced this government was going to create those jobs in the province that they voted for them in spite of what they knew in their heart of hearts was the truth.

Much of it is of no general interest, but there are several provisions where we would like to hear from the public in committee hearings and to propose important amendments, but we won't have that opportunity, alas. Again, this is in keeping with the trend and the style of this government: Ram stuff through, bring it forward, make it big and limit the ability, by way of the rule changes in particular, to take it out to the communities and towns across the province so they might have some input into it; have limited committee hearings here and out across the province; even when you have committee hearings out across the province, make sure nobody knows about them, or that the few who do are told at such a late date that they have a difficult time putting together briefs and arriving on time and making the presentation they want to make.

As a matter of fact, we've heard horror stories in this place about people who had to fight with people around just exactly where meetings were being held, and then at the last minute, having ascertained that a meeting was happening in a particular place, finding out on the morning of the meeting that it had again been changed. They had to chase that down and finally end up in front of the committee to be unceremoniously bounced out and told that their opinion was not appreciated any more and that in Ontario dissenting views are not appreciated any more.

The bill covers 199 pages and seven schedules. That's what we have to debate this afternoon in the short few hours here in this House: 199 pages and seven schedules of legislation that will impact very seriously and severely the lives of every person who lives in a town in Ontario. Your neighbours, my neighbours, my family members will all be affected by this, and we have some two or three hours in this place to debate this. It will be pushed on then through time allocation motion to third reading - I'm sorry, we're in third reading - and soon it will be the order of the day. We've had no significant debate on this, as we have not had on so many other pieces of legislation.

Mr Wildman: It was only introduced two weeks ago.

Mr Martin: Two weeks ago it was introduced, to plug holes in legislation they previously rammed through here without thinking through and without allowing those of us who have some interest in a bill of that nature to come and make recommendations and point out to you the error of your ways.

To start with, the bill enacts a long list of corporate tax breaks announced in the May 1997 budget, in some cases with minor modifications.

Mr Wildman: Why did it take so long to introduce?

Mr Martin: Good question: Why did it take so long? If this is such an important piece of work, if this is so important for Ontario and it needs to be done in such a hell-bent way these last couple of days of the House before Christmas, why did it take so long to come before the House?

In schedule G it also creates a property assessment corporation to facilitate the download and/or the privatization of the assessment work currently done by OPSEU members in the Ministry of Finance. As I said in my opening few remarks here this afternoon, this is more of the present government's work to try and diminish and downsize and take away the effect and the ability of government to be involved in the lives of the people of the province in a positive, creative and helpful way. In this instance, we're going to privatize the assessment work currently done by OPSEU members in the Ministry of Finance.

Stuck in the middle of schedule F are some amendments to Bill 149. You remember that as colloquially referred to as the son of MVA, which bizarrely was still awaiting final reading in the Legislature when Bill 164 was introduced, a point that was made very eloquently and clearly and effectively by our own House leader in his attempt to have the bill thrown out because it was out of order. We still believe it's out of order, even though we got a ruling otherwise. Only time will tell whether we were right in that instance.

Rather than take time to get it right, the Mike Harris government insisted on ramming Bill 149 through, even though they admitted it had serious flaws. Now they're trying to go back and fix them. They knew they had flaws in the bill before it passed. They passed it anyway, and now they've brought in a bill - actually, they brought in a bill while that bill was on the table to fix -

Mr Wildman: Why didn't they just amend that bill?

Mr Martin: Yes, exactly - the problem they had with the bill in the first place, but that's not their way, as we know around here. This is a group that has an awfully hard time admitting that they made a mistake.

Mr Gerretsen: They don't make mistakes.

Mr Martin: No, they don't.

Furthermore, stuck in the middle of the amendments to Bill 149 is a provision giving the Ministry of Municipal Affairs power to tell municipalities what information they may and may not put on their property tax bills; interesting little piece of work.

Altogether, Bill 164 tells the story of how the Mike Harris government is operating. It combines bully tactics with slap-dash incompetence, all in a headlong dash taking the province in the wrong direction, completely in the wrong direction. This is not an exercise in too much, too fast; this is an exercise in going in the wrong direction.

This bill is most profitably read backwards, so let's start at the end with appendix G, the Ontario Property Assessment Corporation Act, 1997. This is another Who Does What bill, just in case you thought they were all gone, that we were finished with the Who Does What exercise in this place. It follows up on a mega-week announcement to download the $120-million cost of property tax assessment.

The assessment work is currently done by 1,700 OPSEU members. OPSEU points out, "Aside from saying that the new corporation is not a crown agency, there is no indication what happens to the current workforce." But that's typical, that's something that we've come to expect here too: no consideration, no thought, no impact study as to what happens to the people who lose their jobs as you go about your agenda - where they go, how they fit in, what happens to them, what happens to their families, what happens to the community in which they play such an important part.

Also, while the municipalities are supposed to pick up the tab as of January 1, 1998, they will have no say in running the show for at least a while into the future. Thus, as in other downloaded areas, this raises the question of pay with no say, taxation without representation, a principle of democracy that I don't think any other government has ever had the gall to deal with in the way this government has.

OPSEU points out that David Crombie's Who Does What panel said that transferring assessment should occur when the revised assessment system has stabilized. Moving sooner, according to Crombie, could jeopardize the accuracy and quality of the assessments and undermine the integrity of the process. But again, this government has shown itself to have no interest whatsoever in -

The Acting Speaker: Pursuant to the order of the House dated December 15, 1997, I am now required to put the question.

Mr Baird has moved third reading of Bill 164. 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.

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

The division bells rang from 1745 to 1750.

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


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

DeFaria, Carl

Doyle, Ed

Elliott, Brenda

Eves, Ernie L.

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hudak, Tim

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Palladini, Al

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Saunderson, William

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Wood, Bob


Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Caplan, David

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Cleary, John C.

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Gravelle, Michael

Hoy, Pat

Kormos, Peter

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Lessard, Wayne

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McLeod, Lyn

Morin, Gilles E.

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Ramsay, David

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 66; the nays are 28.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

It now being nearly 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30 of the clock, later on today.

The House adjourned at 1754.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.