L036 - Wed 30 Sep 1998 / Mer 30 Sep 1998 1

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

TREATY 3 FIRST NATIONS

NICKEL BELT BY-ELECTION

MICHAEL AND MATTHEW MCLENNAN

HEALTH CARE FUNDING

HOMELESSNESS

DAVID NICHOLSON

LONG-TERM CARE

COURT STAFFING

NICKEL BELT BY-ELECTION

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

VISITORS

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TEACHERS AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L'ORDRE DES ENSEIGNANTES ET DES ENSEIGNANTS DE L'ONTARIO

GEORGE NIXON

JOHN EAKINS

ORAL QUESTIONS

SCHOOL CLOSURES

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK

TEXTBOOKS

VISITORS

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

HOSPITAL FUNDING

SCHOOL CLOSURES

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

HAZARDOUS WASTE

ROAD SAFETY

HEALTH CARE FRAUD

JAIL CLOSURES

APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING

NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION

PETITIONS

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

CANCER PREVENTION

ABORTION

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

ABORTION

DIABETES EDUCATION SERVICES

ABORTION

DIABETES EDUCATION SERVICES

PROPERTY TAXATION

PROTECTION FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

ELECTORAL REFORM

DENTAL CARE

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INSTRUCTION TIME: MINIMUM STANDARDS ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LES HEURES D'ENSEIGNEMENT : NORMES MINIMALES


The House met at 1330.

Prayers.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

TREATY 3 FIRST NATIONS

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I'm delighted to stand today to congratulate and extend best wishes to the First Nation communities under Treaty 3 who will be gathering this weekend to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the signing of their treaty. I am also pleased that my leader, Dalton McGuinty, will accompany me to Eagle Lake, where we will join Chief Francies Kavanaugh, Grand Chief Charles Fox, host Chief Arnold Gardner and many other chiefs, elders and First Nation members to celebrate this most historic anniversary.

Since its signing in 1873, Treaty 3 communities have undergone considerable growth and change. Encompassing some 14,000 people and more than 25 communities in Ontario, Manitoba and Minnesota, Treaty 3 has protected the rights of these first nations and has indeed been a treaty based upon honour and mutual respect: respect for the land, respect for history, respect for language, culture and traditions.

As you are aware, Mr Speaker, my riding is the home of more than 50 vibrant and diverse First Nation communities, and I am very proud to have worked with and represented these here in the Legislature for the past 11 years. At this time I would ask all members to join me in congratulating Treaty 3 on this most historic anniversary. Meegwetch.

NICKEL BELT BY-ELECTION

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): Just to begin I want to welcome my friend in the members' gallery, Grant Cloutier, but remind people out there that tomorrow is election day in Nickel Belt. If the polls hold true, Blain Morin is going to be joining us as a member of this Legislature sometime next week.

Blain has been campaigning hard to carry on that tradition started by Floyd Laughren 27 years ago. What he's been hearing as he's been going door to door and talking on the phone is that people in Nickel Belt are concerned about cuts to hospitals, about the laying off of nurses and the absolute lack of reinvestment in community services by this government. They're concerned about the closing of schools, they're concerned about the increases in their property taxes, they're concerned about the failure of this government to create jobs in their community and they know that this is all the result of the Mike Harris tax scheme, a tax scheme that benefits those who are the most well-off in Ontario, a tax scheme that the Liberals say they would not do anything about.

Only Blain Morin can send the message to this government that enough is enough. Blain Morin is the fighter we need here in Queen's Park, and I look forward to welcoming Blain Morin as the next member for Nickel Belt here in the Legislature of Ontario.

MICHAEL AND MATTHEW McLENNAN

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): It is with great pleasure that I rise today to introduce Matthew and Michael McLennan to my colleagues in the House. These two young men from the riding of York-Mackenzie, and more specifically King City, will be leaving next week to represent Canada at the world age group trampoline championships in Sydney, Australia.

Last May, Matthew placed second in the 18 and up age group championships and third in the junior nationals, which were held in Montreal. Michael placed third in the 15 to 17 age group championship and fourth in the junior nationals. These finishes earned them a place on our distinguished Canadian team.

We in York region are extremely proud to be the home of the Skyriders Trampoline Place on Leslie Street, where Matthew and Michael have been training for the past three years under the direction of their coaches Dave Ross and Angelo Despotas.

It is a distinct pleasure to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of these two young men, who represent not only my riding but our province and our country on the world stage. I also want to recognize their parents, Jane and John McLennan, who over the years have provided the behind-the-scenes encouragement and support without which these accomplishments would not have been possible. They represent the millions of parents across our province who volunteer their time and resources in support of their children's dreams. I ask all members of the Legislature to join me in congratulating Matthew, Michael and the entire Canadian world championship team.

HEALTH CARE FUNDING

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Tomorrow morning all MPPs in the House have the opportunity to assist me in passing a resolution that has everything to do with health care in the ridings you come from.

I'd like to remind all MPPs in the House that the resolution I'll be presenting tomorrow morning at 11 am involves improving funding in the hospital and health systems, sufficient capital dollars being supplied on a timely basis, and striking an immediate independent review to see exactly the effects of restructuring on patients, patients not just in Windsor but right across Ontario.

I'd like to remind the House too that you too will have your fax machines whirring as mine has. We have a number of hospitals, constituents across Ontario, who have stepped forward and are prepared, despite being afraid to speak out against the government, to stand up and say that things are not going well in the health system where you come from.

I might mention in particular, members who represent the area of Belleville, Scarborough, Palmerston, Cambridge, Pembroke, even those from Windsor, St John's Hospital in North York, St Thomas Elgin, Riverside health care centre - and the list goes on.

We'll be talking about it more tomorrow, but I'm looking for help from every MPP in this House. We hope you'll all be here for the vote at 12 noon. It means the difference between life and death in many places right across Ontario.

HOMELESSNESS

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have received a letter from Cathy Crowe, a registered nurse who is writing on behalf of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee. She says the following, and I think this is important for all members of the House:

"The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is asking you to endorse our call to have all levels of government declare homelessness a national disaster which requires immediate emergency humanitarian relief.

"We are a group made up of housing experts, academics, business people, health care workers, social workers, anti-poverty activists and the faith community. We have worked with homeless people, studied homelessness, and have watched the homeless crisis worsen daily. We have bandaged the injuries caused by being homeless and have attended the funerals of many homeless people.

"We have asked ourselves these questions: Why is this crisis not dealt with like the ice storm in eastern Canada, or like the flooding in Manitoba? Why are governments not responding to the hundreds of homeless people's deaths?

"Why are they ignoring the threat of diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis which are related to people's homelessness? Why is it that common sense doesn't dictate that this is one of the largest and most serious national disasters that Canada has ever faced?"

We need to act now and we need massive and immediate government intervention. If you want to make this Conservative government accountable for our housing needs, call me at 325-9092, and we'll tell you how to get involved.

DAVID NICHOLSON

Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge): It is with a heavy heart that I stand here today to recognize a true hero.

On August 12, 1998, all of Cambridge suffered a great tragedy in the drowning death of 12-year-old Mark Gage, son of John and Jane and brother to Ted, Matt, Meredith, Sarah and Laura.

During the recovery efforts, Constable David Nicholson, a 10-year veteran of the Waterloo regional police force, lost his life in the course of duty.

Constable Nicholson, husband to Wendy and father to three young children, Mitchell, Reed and Josh, will be remembered by all as a true hero.

I ask the question, "Why do police officers risk their lives for us every day?" I answer with one word, "duty." "Duty," a word that seems archaic and unfashionable in our complex modern world, a word we certainly do not connect with our Sunday afternoon sports stars whom many mistakenly consider heroes.

People of Ontario pay homage and tribute to a true hero, Constable David Nicholson. The highest accolade: He did his duty.

To the families of Dave Nicholson and Mark Gage, please accept our sympathy and love.

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LONG-TERM CARE

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Yesterday was a very sad day for the African-Canadian community. Our leader, Dalton McGuinty, had requested the Minister of Long-Term Care to reconsider bungling that went on in his ministry of a proposal that was put forward and was denied because they said it was one minute late.

The African-Canadian community was responding to a call by the government to address a desperate need within that community for the elderly who have been needing this care. We feel very much so and the community at large tells me that they feel extremely disappointed by the manner in which the minister handled that affair and the insensitive manner in which he responded, which is consistent with the way the government is doing these things.

I will appeal to the minister to reconsider that decision, to take a look again at that tender to make sure they can address that desperate need.

I also call upon the community at large to call the minister and call the Premier to say that this need can be addressed. We hope this call is not in vain. We hope this tender was not one of those shams, that they had hoped to address the elderly concern within those communities. The ethnic community needs to address their elderly who are not being very much accepted in some of the other communities.

I urge this government and this minister's colleagues to speak to the minister, who was quite insensitive yesterday, and I hope that he'll respond accordingly.

COURT STAFFING

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On behalf of the NDP candidate in Nickel Belt, Blain Morin, I want to raise a very serious problem that has been troubling the administration of justice in Chapleau for some time.

On Wednesday, September 9, the provincial court session in Chapleau was, for a second time, delayed because there was no justice of the peace to preside over the court. There is only one justice of the peace in Chapleau, and if that individual is not available, then court proceedings have to be postponed. This is the second time this has happened.

In this particular situation on September 9, a justice of the peace had to travel to Chapleau at the last minute from Wawa, a distance of over 90 miles, for a truncated session of the court to proceed in the afternoon. But that meant most of the hearings that were scheduled for that day, for the morning, did not take place and had to be postponed.

It's obvious that the government needs to appoint a second justice of the peace for Chapleau as soon as possible. Blain Morin has suggested that this should be done quickly so that we don't have a repetition of what happened on September 9. The reeve, Earle Freeborn, has also called for an appointment.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

NICKEL BELT BY-ELECTION

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): There certainly was a very interesting and informative editorial in the Sudbury Star this morning. I'll read it for members:

"In Nickel Belt" the PC candidate "Courtemanche: A Clear Voice.

"Despite all the political heavyweights who have come to Nickel Belt to flog their respective parties during the past few weeks, only one candidate has managed to convey a clear message to voters.

"Gerry Courtemanche has enunciated his position on such issues as stricter penalties for young offenders, developing opportunities for small businesses and fair taxation.

"As he has campaigned, Courtemanche has remained focused" on his and his government's decisions and policies, which are admirable.

"Both the Liberal and NDP candidates, as representatives of the opposition parties, have been content to criticize government policies. The two candidates have not offered realistic solutions for local issues or clearly outlined their visions for the riding. This point was raised more than once by audience members at all-candidates debates in the riding."

The editor stated, "Neither opposition candidate has offered realistic alternatives to Tory policies."

Clearly, "Now the riding has a unique opportunity.

"The person elected in tomorrow's by-election will only be in office" for a short period of time. "Courtemanche has shown that he deserves an opportunity to represent...Nickel Belt" in the province of Ontario.

REPORTS BY COMMITTEES

STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg leave to inform the House that today the Clerk received the eighth report of the standing committee on government agencies.

Pursuant to standing order 105(g)(9), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I would like to take this opportunity to invite all members to welcome to our chamber and indeed to our country a special visitor who is seated at the table, Mr Mshiyeni Dlamini, who is the Clerk-at-the-Table, Senate, Houses of Parliament of the Kingdom of Swaziland. Welcome.

In the government members' gallery is the ex-member for London South, Mr Gordon Walker. Welcome.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TEACHERS AMENDMENT ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR L'ORDRE DES ENSEIGNANTES ET DES ENSEIGNANTS DE L'ONTARIO

Mr Wildman moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 65, An Act to increase teacher representation at the Ontario College of Teachers and to make other amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 / Projet de loi 65, Loi visant à accroître la représentation des enseignants au sein de l'Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'Ontario et apportant d'autres modifications à la Loi de 1996 sur l'Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'Ontario.

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

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): This bill amends the Ontario College of Teachers Act. The composition of the council of the college is changed, increasing the proportion of elected members to the college so that they make up 75% of the council. Provisions are added to provide that the council or a committee will not have a quorum unless a majority of the elected council members are present.

The council will be required to elect one of its members to be the chair. All the committees will be required to have a majority of elected council members.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I would like to ask the unanimous consent of the House for the opportunity of various members of the House to give some brief remarks on the passing of two former members of the House, George Nixon and John Eakins, who passed away during the recess.

The Speaker: Agreed? Agreed.

GEORGE NIXON

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I'd like to pay tribute today to a former member of the House, George Nixon, who represented the riding of Dovercourt, an area where he was born and raised.

George was a leader in his community throughout his entire life. He served for some time in the military. He was a very religious man who was deeply involved with the Baptist church. He was involved with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the United Appeal, and was a founder of Camp Kwasind for underprivileged children.

In 1971 he was elected to the Ontario Legislature for our party for the neighbourhood in which he grew up, that being the riding of Dovercourt.

Frank Drea, who was the former member for Scarborough Centre, described George Nixon as one of the last old-style politicians. During a great time of change in social policy, he was devoted to the well-being of his constituents and the people of Ontario. George knew everybody on a very personal level in his riding and met with them directly, spending a great deal of his time as an MPP listening to their ideas and concerns over a cup of coffee in a local coffee shop or restaurant.

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At Queen's Park he was considered totally reliable, never missing a committee assignment or a vote. He was what we describe in our party as a true, solid backbencher who was there when we needed him to vote or needed to count on him. In fact, the only time George wasn't working hard for his constituents at Queen's Park was when he would be doing things at his local church, and he was very active in that.

Former MPPs describe George as being very down to earth and every man's man in terms of his representation here. He was very straightforward and not afraid to discuss sensitive issues in caucus and quite frankly was envied by some of his caucus members during the 1971-75 period in which he had the opportunity to sit here because many other members were intimidated to speak at that time in caucus.

On a last note I'd like to say, in terms of how he was described by Frank Drea, that George Nixon gave politics and politicians a good name. He worked hard for his people and he did a great job while he was here.

On behalf of the people of this province and the government of Ontario, I'd like to pass on our condolences and wishes to his three daughters, Nancy, Catherine and Shirley, and the entire Nixon family.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My colleagues and I in the Liberal Party want to join the government House leader in expressing our condolences to the Nixon family. I think the government House leader, as is his wont, touched all of the main points. Gordon Walker is here today. Gord was part of that class of 1971 of which the late Mr Nixon was also a member. From all the stories I heard when I came here some 23 years ago, Mr Nixon was truly a man of the people out in the west end and we certainly join with the government in expressing our condolences to his family.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I rise today to express, on behalf of the New Democratic Party caucus, our condolences to the family of George Nixon, a former member of this House, and to join representatives of the other two parties in paying tribute to the time that he served here in this House from 1971 to 1975. The government House leader has already given an outline of the time spent and the work that George Nixon did here in the Parliament. I want to give you a slightly different perspective because he was also a neighbour of mine. He lived on Salem Avenue, only a block away from where I am, so I knew George Nixon during the period that he was here. I was in high school with one of his daughters, and in the neighbourhood where I lived and where he lived, certainly everybody was aware of George Nixon.

The comments that have been made about his link to the community, I can tell you from the community, were very clear and very evident. That continued even after he left this place in 1976, with many people there still calling on him for advice and still looking to him for answers to the daily problems they dealt with. He was really one of those politicians who can be described very accurately as being of the community and certainly aware of what was going on in the various neighbourhoods. That is the memory I will keep of him, as somebody who obviously, although in a very different political spectrum, cared about the community and brought that kind of very down-to-earth approach, perhaps in part because of his own background as the son of Irish immigrants and also because of his work background. Before he came to this Legislature he worked for 25 years at Continental Can, first as a stock keeper and later as a foreman, so I think he never forgot that link to the people of the riding.

I knew him from that perspective and am glad to have the opportunity to express here today, on behalf of our caucus, our condolences to his three daughters, Nancy, Catherine and Shirley, to his sons-in-law and to the nine grandchildren, and, as I was at the memorial service the other day, to conclude my comments with the same Irish blessing that a friend of Mr Nixon, Mr James Walker, finished his remembrance of Mr Nixon with, the famous Irish blessing that says, "May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be at your back, may the sun shine warmly on your face, and until we meet again, may God hold you lovingly in the hollow of his hand."

JOHN EAKINS

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, Minister of Northern Development and Mines): It is with great sadness that I inform the House of the passing of John Eakins, who passed away on September 16 of this year in his 75th year.

As the current member for Victoria-Haliburton and on behalf of the people of Victoria-Haliburton and the Premier and the government of Ontario, I'd like to extend our sympathies to the Eakins family and to pay tribute to his years of public service and his work in the community and in the riding.

As the members of this House will recall, John was first elected to the Legislature in 1975 and he served with distinction and honour until 1990. In that capacity, he was the Minister of Tourism in the Peterson cabinet from 1985 to 1987 and he was subsequently the Minister of Municipal Affairs from 1987 to 1989.

Before that, John had a lengthy service working on behalf of the people of Victoria and Haliburton in numerous capacities. He was a councillor in the town of Lindsay. Later, from 1966 to 1971, he was the mayor of Lindsay and brought about a number of initiatives, including the twinning with a city in Japan which has been very successful. At that time it was a courageous move. There was a time when relations with Japan weren't as healthy as they might be today in the public's attitude, and it was the vision that John had that was progressive for Victoria and for Lindsay that served the constituents well.

He was also the warden of Victoria county and he served on numerous committees. Even in retirement John was active in local politics, helping out where he could in a number of community organizations such as Rotary and the Sports Hall of Fame, and in a number of other activities he helped the people of Lindsay and Victoria county.

He started out as a barber and hairdresser in Lindsay, the town he had been born and raised in. I think it was in this occupation that he developed his great listening ability. People of the riding knew that John cared about them. He could listen and he had a friendly manner, which could be called upon if you needed assistance. He served his community in a non-partisan manner and I was proud to be able to say that I was a friend of his. Even before I entered into politics, I knew him. He was always there to offer advice or to help if you needed help. I think that speaks volumes.

Even this summer, Premier Harris and I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with John when we were at his cottage on Four Mile Lake. He still followed politics actively, cared about the people of Victoria and Haliburton and offered some good advice.

It was a pleasure knowing John. He will be greatly missed by all the residents of Victoria and Haliburton.

On behalf of the government and the people of Victoria and Haliburton, I'd just like to say that our thoughts and our prayers are with his family, Barry, Janice, Karen and their spouses, his grandchildren and the entire Eakins family.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): It was about 50 years ago at a federal-provincial conference, I think in Ottawa, that the legendary Premier of Ontario Leslie M. Frost said in the midst of some very complicated negotiation about some issue of intergovernmental finance that he looked at this as one would look at it from the barber's chair in Lindsay. In telling that story, and he told it many times, he tried to convey, and conveyed very effectively over his long and very successful career as first minister of the Ontario government, that it was from the barber's chair in communities like Lindsay that one really understood the common sense of the common people. John Eakins, as the Minister of Northern Development has just observed, was for many years a barber in Lindsay.

My colleagues and I want to join the government and our friends in the New Democratic Party in paying tribute to the public life of our former colleague.

I knew John very well. We were elected on the same day in 1975 and we were to share offices in the old north wing for all of the years prior to our taking office in 1985.

John Diefenbaker used to say that the Liberals were so scarce in Saskatchewan in his lifetime that they needed the protection of the game laws.

Laughter.

Mr Conway: You should laugh, because it was largely true - the later part of his life, I should say.

Liberals in Victoria county were pretty scarce people. In fact, I think there were only two Liberals to sit provincially for Victoria in this century. One of them was a very good friend of my grandfather's, Bill Newman, a dairyman from Lorneville, and John Eakins in the later years. Victoria county is as traditionally Conservative as it gets. It sends people with names like Hodgson and Scott and Hughes and Carew to represent the good people in Parliament or in the Legislature.

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John in that sense was an exception. He won only after being beaten by the current member's uncle on at least one occasion. John was defeated in 1967 and again in 1971. I remember saying to him, "How could you run a third time in Victoria county as a Liberal?" I don't know that I would do it. I don't know that I would have done it even a second time. John said in that smiling, friendly way of his: "You know, I like Bob Nixon. He came and talked to me and said, `John, once more for the team.'" In the face of very real odds, odds that most of us would have simply passed and said, "Thanks but no thanks," he ran a third time in 1975 and he won. I think part of the legacy and the lesson of the public life of John Eakins is that politics is about more than just winning. He lost, and lost badly, in very difficult circumstances, but that didn't deter his interest. He was willing to once again step into the breach in 1975.

I was lucky. I won the first time. I don't know that I would ever have won a second time had I lost the first time out, and I'll tell you, I don't know that I would ever have volunteered to be the Liberal candidate in Victoria, because it's tough country, and because John was a Liberal from Victoria, he was a pretty moderate, what you call pragmatic, Liberal. He knew the range of possibilities for Liberal politicians provincially in Victoria, and he never ceased to remind the cabinet and the caucus about that. In contrition, I say we would have done much better than we did had we listened more carefully to John's advice in the later years of the last decade.

He was a great office mate. There was no issue too small, no call too early or too late, no far distant part of the northern reaches of Haliburton that he did not attend to with the assiduousness that we could all take as our guide and our example.

I don't want to go on too long and I won't. I just simply say I was pleased to join the minister and former Premier Peterson and his wife at the funeral service a week ago Monday at the Queen Street United Church in Lindsay. It was a beautiful sunny, breezy late summer afternoon, and that's the way John would have wanted it. He was a happy warrior.

In the end I thought John became wonderful in his - he was always good with Frost. If you wanted really good Les Frost stories, I used to get them from John, and in the end I was going to say he almost became a bit of a caricature of Frost, because he could put his hands out over those troubled waters. He developed a kind of silvery mane like the great man itself, and oh, how he regaled us with the great Les Frost stories of his part of central Ontario.

For me, in conclusion, I say as I join the minister in paying tribute to John and his family, and his wife, Iris, who predeceased him in the mid-1980s, one of the really significant sadnesses in this for me is that the style and quality of the politics John Eakins and Leslie M. Frost represented is passing from our midst, I think to our detriment. Thank you.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to join with my colleagues in paying tribute to John Eakins. I, like my friend from Renfrew North, was elected on the same day John was elected to this place. We came to know each other quite well, and he became a very good friend of mine across the aisle and in private life outside of this place.

I'm sure everyone who knew John would agree with me that John was a gentleman in every sense of that word. He was a friendly person who cared about concerns and, frankly, although he was partisan, he was not partisan in a way that we have come to understand that word here. If a member of another caucus had a concern when he was serving in the executive council for which he was responsible, he genuinely tried to resolve it, and the fact that the individual coming to see him about the problem was from another caucus didn't make any difference at all.

John spent a long time here and served his constituents very well, and he had a nice way about him, a quiet way but a great sense of humour. I must say on a personal basis that I feel the loss, as many of his friends do, particularly because after his wife passed on and John retired, he kept in touch with me personally, and after a traumatic time for my family actually travelled to Algoma to meet me and see me. I very much appreciated it.

I join with everyone in expressing condolences to John's family, his children and grandchildren, and express my concern and sorrow not just for the family - particularly for them, but also for the people of Lindsay and Victoria-Haliburton in losing a very good man.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd ask for unanimous consent today for the following motion to be forwarded to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. The motion is that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario formally opposes any move by the federal Liberal government to spend the employment insurance surplus, the vast majority of which comes from Ontario workers and employers, on federal income tax cuts.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Members, let's be clear: The leader of the third party is asking for consent to move a motion. That's what you're giving consent to. Agreed? No.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to compliment the leader of the third party on his almost totally brilliant motion. We would be more than happy on this side of the House -

The Speaker: I appreciate that, but there's got to be a point of order here someplace. Can you get to it?

Hon Mr Eves: I would like to move that we support the leader of the third party's motion if he removes -

The Speaker: Hold it. We didn't get unanimous consent to even hear it, so it's not a point of order. I appreciate your offer. You'd have to ask for unanimous consent for another motion. I'll put it if you want.

The Treasurer would like unanimous consent to put a motion. Agreed? No, you didn't get it. Sorry.

ORAL QUESTIONS

SCHOOL CLOSURES

Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. This morning the 43 school boards that did not get any new schools in yesterday's announcement got the bad news about how many schools you expect them to close. You are going to leave the tough decisions about which schools will actually close to the trustees, but we can see today that your arbitrary formula is going to mean massive numbers of schools closing across the province.

Minister, can you confirm that according to your formula, your government is forcing over 500 elementary schools and over 100 secondary schools to close before the next school year?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): As I've said here many times before, we're not requiring one school to close in the province of Ontario, not any schools to close in Ontario. I can confirm a historical fact. That historical fact is that when the Liberals were in power between 1985 and 1990, there were 136 schools closed in the province.

Through the funding formula that I announced yesterday, I'm delighted to say that over the next three years there will be about $1.5 billion worth of new school construction in Ontario. This will accommodate about 120,000 students. Indeed in September and through to January there will be 25 school openings in the province of Ontario.

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Mrs McLeod: I'm talking about something which is so unbelievable that it's difficult to credit the numbers you put out yesterday. We're talking about the potential of 600 schools or more having to be closed across this province. We're talking about your formula creating chaos over the next year that is beyond even imagining. You have arbitrarily decided for 43 school boards that they have what you have decided is surplus space and that they're going to have to close schools on a widespread basis. You don't care where the space is, you don't care where the students are, you don't care how far the students who are displaced might have to be bused in order that they can find someplace to go to school. You just want the locks on the school doors.

If you close 500 elementary schools and 100 secondary schools, you are going to force tens of thousands of students on to school buses, you're going to disrupt their education and you're going to force them to go who knows where because your formula says their school's closed. Take some responsibility. Tell us how many schools are going to close and how many students you're going to force on to buses.

Hon David Johnson: We hear from the Liberal critic. Let's hear from the chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. The chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board says: "We are extremely pleased that the minister has recognized the need to move our students into permanent, high-quality facilities. Today's announcement" - that's the announcement with regard to new pupil places - "is a good start to addressing the capital needs of this board."

Clearly we've taken a tremendous initiative in terms of flowing monies to school boards based on need right across Ontario, giving the resources to those boards that are short on space to build new schools, to put additions on to schools, elementary schools, secondary schools, a $1.5-billion program over the next three years, unprecedented in Ontario.

Mrs McLeod: I understand why the Minister of Education does not want to talk about the 43 boards that didn't get any new schools yesterday, the 43 boards that are going to have to close as many as 600 schools in the course of the next year. Minister, if you thought the crisis was over with your back-to-work legislation passed, think again because the crisis in education is just beginning.

You are demanding that schools shut down because you have an arbitrary formula that says they've got too much space. You actually gave a direction to the board today that you want their school closure plans in today. You insist that the locks be on those schools by the end of June and the students be on the buses by September 1. You have set all the rules. You're setting all the bottom lines. Take some responsibility. Stand up and tell us how many schools are going to close by June 30 of this year.

Hon David Johnson: I haven't heard so much nonsense in a long time. We're not requiring any schools to be closed. The member opposite knows this. In terms of school boards looking at the space they have, the school boards have this responsibility to accommodate their students. In fact what we have required of the school boards is that they consult with their parents if they are deciding to close a school. We require the school boards to consult with the parents and then to come forward with a plan. But it's up to the school boards. We give them the money: the money for maintenance, the money for new construction, the money they need to accommodate the students they have. We give the responsibility to the school boards in conjunction with their local parents. I think that's where the responsibility should lie.

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Solicitor General. It has to do with key Ipperwash files that are missing from your office. As you know, a key participant in the Ipperwash affair was Mr Ron Fox, OPP officer on secondment to your office. He was at the September 6 interministerial meeting where the Premier's executive assistant said she'd been talking to the Premier the previous night. "Out of the park only," were her instructions to the group. Mr Fox then made a phone call to the police command post at 12 minutes after 11 that morning. That evening Dudley George was shot and a police officer convicted of criminal negligence causing death.

On April 19, 1996, seven months later, Ron Fox was transferred. We now know, based on sworn testimony from your deputy, that all of Mr Fox's electronic files were destroyed shortly after he left. Knowing how crucial Mr Fox's files would be to an inquiry, how could it possibly happen that his files were destroyed shortly after he was transferred?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I know that the privacy commissioner reviewed this matter with respect to how files were kept and found nothing wrong with respect to the issue of missing files. The deputy has explained that as best we can and has asked for a review of the systems that are utilized in terms of retention of files. Beyond that, Superintendent Fox, whom I know quite well, has an outstanding record of service in the policing community of this province. I would not want anyone to suggest otherwise.

Mr Phillips: On the contrary, the files were destroyed after he left your office, after he left your employ and went back to the OPP. I have nothing but respect for Mr Fox.

This is an extremely serious matter. It is beyond my belief how these files could be destroyed seven months after the shooting. This is one of the most serious events in Ontario's dealings with our first nations. A First Nation person died, an OPP officer convicted of criminal negligence causing it, and yet the files in your office were destroyed seven months after it.

I repeat that the privacy commissioner examined this and said, "As a result of the activities described by the deputy minister, the ministry has been unable to retrieve any electronic records left behind by the named employee at the time he left the position of special adviser, first nations."

Mr Fox left the files. He was transferred and then the files disappeared. I ask you again, Minister, how in the world could this possibly happen in the Ministry of the Solicitor General?

Hon Mr Runciman: I can't go beyond the fact that the privacy commissioner has looked at the explanation with respect to this and has accepted it. The deputy minister has outlined his understanding of the situation and has initiated a review of the electronic retention of files. I can't go beyond that.

Mr Phillips: You have to select your words better, I think, Minister. The privacy commissioner found that the records were gone. That's what he found seven months after this shooting. The most serious event affecting our first nations certainly in this century and yet seven months later the files are gone in your ministry, the key files. We have been calling for a public inquiry now for literally three years. Why? Because it is important we get to the root of this. Now we find, seven months after the shooting, key files being erased, disappearing.

Minister, will you return to this House tomorrow, will you find out why it happened that those files were destroyed and will you give us the assurance that you have personally looked at the files of the other individuals in your office who were involved in this and that those files still exist today?

Hon Mr Runciman: I've indicated, and I can't go beyond what I said earlier with respect to the explanations, that those have been offered by the deputy minister. There was a deputy minister prior to my current deputy who was in office during this period of time. Indeed we are concerned about the loss of these files in terms of our ability to retain very important and critical files. I share your concern with respect to that. The current deputy has initiated a review of this situation and a review of the retention policy.

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TEXTBOOKS

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Minister of Education. Minister, yesterday I asked you why Ontario schools were forced by your government to pay inflated prices for school textbooks. The specific example I gave you was Bliss Carman school in Scarborough where teachers estimate that $9,000 of their $37,000 book budget was lost to these inflated prices.

As a result of my question yesterday, we've received dozens of calls from teachers across the province. For example, John Campbell, a teacher and a director of the Ontario Curriculum Clearing House, which vets textbooks for use in Ontario schools, told us that you inflated the price for an English dictionary published by ITP Nelson to $49.19 per book. He can go to a bookstore and buy that book for $19. You inflated the price by $30.

We heard from dozens of schools. We estimate that across this province $20 million of the book budget has been lost to your inflated prices. Minister, who has the money? Who has taken that $20 million because of those inflated prices? Tell us.

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): As a result of the questions yesterday, we did investigate some of the allegations with regard to the books. We found one book, a science text, for example, which it was claimed could be purchased for $9.95. The Ministry of Education list price was $12.44. That was the price before the discount, but after the discount was applied, the price was actually $8.96, which is a dollar less than the principal claimed he could buy the book for. In addition, that lower price that the Ministry of Education received was an all-inclusive price including shipping and handling, whereas at the school, the school would have to pay shipping and handling and would have to pay a portion of the GST, even after rebate.

A second-language text was about a dollar and a half cheaper through the Ministry of Education program when the bulk price was applied.

We have been assured, and the evidence is here, that we've received the best possible price. We have 3.2 million books in our elementary schools at the best possible -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thanks a lot. Supplementary.

Mr Hampton: It's interesting how the minister changes his story from yesterday. We understand there was a rebate; the point is that rebate didn't go to the schools. The point is that Bliss Carman didn't get that rebate; somebody else did. We want to know who got that rebate, who siphoned off that money.

Yesterday you told us that some of the extra money went to handling, postage and transportation. We talked to the publishers. They tell us that the price they ordinarily give schools already includes that. You've added on an extra handling and transportation charge. Who got that money? Yesterday you tried to tell us it went for taxes, but you don't have to pay taxes on school textbooks.

Minister, you're telling a whole bunch of stories here to avoid coming to the real facts. Just as Mr Campbell told us, you inflated the price of the dictionary by $30. Who got the $30? Do I have to help you? Do I have to send something like this over to you so you can look for the money? Who got the money, Minister? Who got the $20 million that should have gone to schools and -

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon David Johnson: The facts are very clear on this. The facts are that we have 3.2 million books going to the elementary students in Ontario at a lower price than the boards could purchase by themselves. The principals are sometimes comparing the list price or their slightly discounted price with the discounted price that the Ministry of Education can receive. The Ministry of Education has received a lower price that some of the teachers aren't seeing.

The question is, who is receiving the benefit of this discount, this $13-million benefit that we've received because of this bulk purchase, and the answer is the students. The elementary students in Ontario are receiving the benefit. There will be more books, there will be more science equipment, there will be more software purchased for the students of Ontario. That's where the benefit will go.

Mr Hampton: The minister keeps trying to confuse the issue. We talked to the schools. The schools don't have the money in question. We talked to the book publishers. They don't have the money in question. Bliss Carman school is out $9,000 on their book budget. They don't have it, the publisher doesn't have it.

Mr Campbell gives us the example of this dictionary. You charged $49 on the government list price. He says he could have bought it for $19 in a bookstore.

You refuse to tell us who has the money. It seems that about $20 million in textbook money has gone missing. Who has the money? It's a very simple question. Do we have to send over a looking glass so you can look through your files? The schools don't have the money, the publishers don't have the money, yet you charge inflated prices for those books. Who has the money, Minister? Show us the money, the $20 million.

Hon David Johnson: The antics of the leader of the third party are unbelievable. This process is simple to understand. We've received 3.2 million books for elementary students across the province. We've received a huge discount involving $13 million. Do you know where that $13 million is going? I'll tell you where every last nickel of that $13 million in discount is going, and by the way, that's an unparalleled discount in Ontario. Every last nickel is going to the students of Ontario. That's where the money is going to.

It's going to every elementary school across the province. If you want to fight against the books, if you want to fight against the quality, you go ahead and do it. But I'll tell you, this government has introduced a system to put 3.2 million books into the elementary schools at the best possible price we could get.

VISITORS

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): There are a couple of members here in the opposition gallery today who were in the previous parliament. Mr Dan Waters was the provincial member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. Welcome. Larry O'Connor was the previous member for Durham-York, now a councillor for Durham region. Welcome. There is life after this place.

New question, third party.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My second question is for the minister responsible for women's issues. On July 2, two full months ago, a coroner's jury gave you 213 recommendations that would have gone a very long way in preventing the tragic death of Arlene May. On July 10, my colleague the member for Riverdale called on you publicly to implement those recommendations. You have done nothing. Not one of those recommendations from the coroner's jury has been implemented.

Since July 2, eight more women in Ontario have died. Eight more women with a history of abuse have been killed. Minister, it was unnecessary for a single one of those women to die. Every one of those tragic incidents could have been prevented. If you were to increase their protection, make the changes the coroner's jury implored you to make, then some of those lives might have been saved. When will you implement the 213 recommendations?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): In response to what I think is a very serious question, yes, we did get the recommendations on July 2. There was a committee put in place in anticipation of these recommendations. My colleagues the Attorney General and the Solicitor General will respond to these recommendations pertaining to the inquest jury's justice system recommendations in the appropriate time, as was the Minister of Community and Social Services responding to the recommendations pertaining to shelter services.

We have reviewed the jury's recommendations at the Ontario Women's Directorate and will continue to consult with Status of Women, Canada, regarding follow-up of all of these recommendations with regard to the jury's suggestions and recommendations.

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Mr Hampton: Minister, there were 213 specific recommendations. You don't need to go and consult on those. You could have implemented many of those recommendations by now. In fact, what you're doing is going in the opposite direction, because the coroner's jury heard evidence as to why your government's action are inadequate. Specifically, they called on you to develop police and court protocols so that victims are better protected. But we know you're doing exactly the opposite.

For example, because of your government's cuts, courts in Ontario no longer serve court documents, and that includes restraining orders. What it means is that women who have been repeatedly abused have to risk their safety to go tell their abuser that the court says he is no longer supposed to go near them. Because of your cuts, you've put women in that situation of risk. Minister, how could you put so many women across this province at risk by putting them in that situation?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I am not going to respond to the specific example that the leader of the party did bring to our attention today. But I will in this regard: With regard to the courts, we have focused since day one on improving the court system. We have increased the number of victim/witness assistance programs. We have created eight new domestic violence courts which are dedicated to prosecuting abusers and supporting witnesses. We have expanded the domestic assault review teams, which combine the efforts of justice officials with community groups to help combat domestic violence. As we speak, crowns are receiving training on domestic violence and sexual assault. We have established a ministry working group, which I referred to earlier, that is seriously looking at additional recommendations we will respond to in a positive way.

I will respond to the example given to me by the leader of the party in a very few moments because I actually can't respond this minute. I'm sure it does fit into the programs I have already described.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Final supplementary.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Minister, while you fiddle over there in forming committees, eight more women have died. How many more are going to die while you fiddle and try to set up committees? Not only have you ignored the advice of this jury, a jury that spent months examining in detail how the justice system fails women; your government is now making matters even worse. This is the ultimate offence against women whose lives are in danger.

We're talking here about women who have a history of being repeatedly beaten up. Now they have to put themselves in further jeopardy by taking the court order to their abuser themselves. Can you imagine having to do that? Leaving aside the inadequacies of restraining orders, your government has placed the responsibility for the court order to be delivered to the abuser with the victim. I'll repeat the question, Minister: How can you put so many women at risk?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Domestic violence is a serious crime. This government will not tolerate it. We have worked with members of this House and members of the community across Ontario to make things better. We knew that the May-Iles jury recommendations would be very specific. We were witnesses during the trial. We have met with people who are involved with the trial recommendations across nine ministries.

It isn't easy to change some of these procedures. But I will say that we have been widely complimented by the jury with regard to a lot of work that has taken place with this government.

Ms Churley: Eight women have died since those recommendations came out.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: With regard to the death of eight women, as I listen to the member of the opposition rant at us, not once have I received some positive suggestions from this member as a critic.

The Speaker: Answer.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Not once have we received any assistance as I have reached out to speak with her about her -

The Speaker: Thank you. New question, official opposition.

HOSPITAL FUNDING

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): I have a question for the Minister of Health. I want to mark with you a very significant day of achievement for the Harris health policy. It's another dubious milestone you reached today.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. We have a new question being put. We'll start again.

Mr Kennedy: Thank you, Speaker. It is important that the minister does hear about the milestone that she is achieving today, that the Harris government's bumbling health policy is accomplishing. We've got another hospital in the province going broke, and this time it's the Ottawa Hospital. The Ottawa Hospital can't serve the patients it's supposed to with the money you provide, so instead, to pay its bills, starting tomorrow, starting in October, it has to go to the banks to do that.

You should be ashamed enough about that, but it's not as if you didn't know and you weren't in a position to prevent this. This hospital came to you last year and came to you again last week with a plan to provide services to patients, to actually keep open three sites, including the Riverside Hospital, and to do this with fewer capital dollars but with a higher level of service to patients.

You've got no plan of your own to help patients in Ottawa. You've had your hospital destruction commission there three times. It has no credibility. Today will you agree to the Ottawa Hospital plan to protect patients, or will you force them to go to banks and cut services -

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister of Health.

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): I'm not sure who it is that doesn't have credibility, but I would certainly indicate to you that our government has had a plan of action since we were elected in 1995. I can also say to you that since that time I haven't seen a Liberal plan of action. In fact, what has first been done is that you have been doing a tremendous amount of disservice to people in the province. A good example of that is the recent editorial in the Sudbury Star. The Sudbury Star says: "Ontario Liberal Party health critic Gerard Kennedy needs to do some explaining if he wants anyone to believe his claim that $27 million will be taken from Sudbury's health system next year. Otherwise, the statement made by Kennedy in Sudbury this week is nothing more than a cheap attempt at electioneering that thoughtful voters" -

The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr Alex Cullen (Ottawa West): - roughly two and a half hospitals, driving them into debt.

The Speaker: Order. Member for Ottawa West, you're not in your seat. Could you please go to your seat.

Mr Kennedy: Minister, unlike you and your government, we're accountable. We've responded to this -

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order. Stop the clock. Supplementary.

Mr Kennedy: We stand accountable for our figures. I challenge you to debate outside this House, where I'll prove to you you're cutting $27 million from Sudbury. I've written to the Sudbury Star. I'll see you there.

What I want to hear from you is not a shrug to the people of Ottawa, because $65 million has been cut from Ottawa by you and your government and that plan that you claim. You may be proud of that and your members may be proud of that, but we told you -

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Wrong, wrong.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Member for Nepean, come to order, and the Minister of Community and Social Services as well, and the Minister of Labour.

Interjection.

The Speaker: Don't tell me it was him behind you.

Mr Kennedy: The people of Ottawa want more than a shrug and political pranks from you. They want you to answer why there's $65 million less.

This morning our office talked to Hayem Qirbi. Hayem Qirbi has a son, Waleed, who is 26 years old. He's in the Ottawa Civic Hospital. He's suffering because of your cuts. Waleed Qirbi is attended to 12 hours a day by his parents and 12 hours a day by a nurse that they have to pay for. Hayem Qirbi, thanks to the Harris health policies, is paying $8,000 a month. Minister, will you act today to help the Qirbis and the other families who won't have proper hospital care unless you move to help them out?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm very pleased at the investment our government has made in Ottawa-Carleton. We need to indicate that the only government that has cut health care spending is the federal government. We have seen a decrease in transfer payments. I'm very proud of the fact that we are helping all people in Ottawa-Carleton. I'm pleased to say that we are spending almost $87 million more in health services in Ottawa above and beyond the Liberal numbers that you have been communicating.

Interjections.

The Speaker: Nepean, member for York South, come to order. Member for Etobicoke-Humber.

New question, third party.

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SCHOOL CLOSURES

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question for the Minister of Education and Training. As the minister will know, tonight anxious parents are gathering in Clinton to talk about the future of their public school. The problem they face is this government's change in the way it funds space in schools. Every school in a board's jurisdiction must be operating at 100% capacity. For the parents and elementary students in Clinton, like the parents of children in 19 other schools in the Avon Maitland District School Board, this means their school must close.

The plan in Clinton is to combine the local high school with a school building which will house all the students from junior kindergarten to OAC, 900 students. This kind of thing is happening all over Ontario. In the community of Duntroon, just south of Collingwood, they're going to eliminate a school that's been in that community for 120 years. Does the minister really think this is good planning for education for our students and for our communities across Ontario?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): This government has not only encouraged but required local school boards, if they're contemplating any such change in accommodation space, to consult with parents and to work out accommodation plans with parents in their communities.

There is no requirement to close any school. The province of Ontario is not requiring any board to close any school. The province is giving funding to the school boards - funding for operations, funding for facilities renewal - based on the student population they have. The boards have full leeway to use those monies to incorporate whatever schools they wish. Some boards are more frugal than others; some boards are able to operate under different configurations. That they need to do, and planning in conjunction with their parents. This is a matter for the school boards and the parents to work out.

Mr Wildman: The minister will know that these schools are closing because of his government's defunding formula for school boards, not because they don't have enough students. Some 29 Catholic schools in Toronto and 100 public schools are on the list for consideration for closure. I'll give you a couple of examples. In the Thames Valley District School Board, all of the elementary schools are now operating at 90% capacity - all of them. Because of this government's funding formula, you say they have 5,500 too many student spaces and that's why some of their schools have to close. They're operating at 90% capacity. In Peel region, 70 schools are operating between 90% and 95% capacity, and that, according to you, means they have too many student spaces.

Some members of the minister's own expert panel developing the funding plan recommended that the formula be based on 90% capacity, not 100% capacity, as you are insisting. Why wouldn't it make more sense to fund schools on the basis of operation at 90% capacity -

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

Hon David Johnson: School boards have opened schools, school boards have closed schools, down through the years. When the member opposite was in power, when his party was in power for five years, there were over 100 schools closed in Ontario. This happens each and every year. School boards are given grants from Ontario. They make determinations as to where schools should be opened. I might say that for small schools, this government has actually more than doubled the amount of monies going to small schools; in remote and rural areas, again, more than doubled the amount of money going to remote and rural areas. These monies are going to the school boards. The school boards are working with the parents to come up with the best solutions in their community.

I just want to say finally -

The Speaker: Answer.

Hon David Johnson: - that in terms of the overall funding in the classroom and in totality there will be more money spent in the elementary and secondary schools this year than ever before.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): My question is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Last week, Mike Harris and you launched in Paris, Ontario, the $35-million rural youth job strategy. The next day I had the pleasure of touring with you down in Essex county, in Leamington and in Ridgetown. One of the groups we met with was a group of parents and children involved in the burgeoning greenhouse industry in the Leamington area. Those young people have the advantage of enjoying life and opportunity in rural Ontario. I know that we as a government would like all young people to have that same kind of opportunity if they choose, and all of Ontario to enjoy the prosperity of a strong Ontario economy. Could you tell us how the rural youth job strategy program will improve the skills of youth in rural Ontario and the job opportunities?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my colleague from Chatham-Kent for his question. Yes, I was very proud to be beside the Premier in Paris, Ontario, a week ago when we announced the rural youth job strategy, a strategy that was put together by young people, for young people after consultation with some 1,200 young people, business people and entrepreneurs in rural Ontario. It's a four-year, $35-million program and it is new money, and I emphasize new money.

It's tailor-made for young people outside our big cities. It is a strategy that will keep young people where they were born, raised and educated, so that they don't have to go to the urban areas to obtain employment. It's a four-year program and I know it will serve rural youth in Ontario very well.

Mr Carroll: We all know that Ontario is once again the best place to live, work and raise a family, thanks in great part to the courage of the Mike Harris government. Previous governments have launched many make-work projects, designed to create temporary jobs subsidized with the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. Can you assure the House today that the rural youth job strategy is not just another typical band-aid, short-term program, but in actual fact is a real investment in the youth of rural Ontario?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The rural youth job strategy is oriented towards forming partnerships with the private sector, where at least 50% of the funds will come from the private sector. The government of Ontario will be there to fund up to 50%. But what will make this program work is that the initiative from the private sector and the partnerships will have at least 50% invested, and the government will support that. I certainly anticipate there will be long-term jobs in rural Ontario to keep our young people where they want to stay.

HAZARDOUS WASTE

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of the Environment. In your rush to deregulate your ministry and basically make the role of your ministry irrelevant to the people of Ontario, you have reached what I believe is a new low. In a proposal that you posted - and it has had negative feedback from groups in response - you are now proposing a regulation change that funeral homes and hospitals dispose of blood and blood products through a sewer system. As you know, Minister, it is currently a hazardous waste. It has to be treated as such, it has to be contained as such, and it cannot simply be disposed of down the sewer. In the regulations you posted as a proposal, you are now saying that if you get your way, it is OK in Ontario to dump blood into the sewer system right across this province, basically endangering the health of Ontarians every single day.

You have not undertaken any studies into the safety of this. I want to ask you, Minister, do you think it is a good idea to dump blood and blood products down the sewer system in the province of Ontario?

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Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): Of course we're concerned about anything that goes into the municipally owned sewer systems across our province. There has been a technical review of putting this waste product into the sewer system. The regulation the member talks about of course separates out the toxic or the blood which would have come from someone who is seriously ill, where there was a contaminant in that blood. It's clear within that regulation that that blood would not be placed in any kind of sewage. Blood is a biological product, like the other biological products that go into our sanitary sewers as well.

Mr Agostino: That is an amazing answer, that you now are going to be able to separate and tell which is hazardous and which is not hazardous and you're going to ship it to different places or simply put it down the sewer. It is bizarre.

Minister, as you know, you cannot guarantee the safety. You cannot stand up today and give us a 100% guarantee that sewage treatment plants, the water systems in this province, do not fail and that mistakes do not occur, and often in septic tanks, which are included in your regulations, there is also failure. What you're doing in this proposal, frankly, bizarre as it's going to sound to most Ontarians, is putting the health of Ontarians in jeopardy.

There is no system - you have no scientific evidence to show us - that is foolproof, that is totally safe. I just cannot believe that you will not stand today and totally dismiss this ridiculous, stupid suggestion that is listed. You're telling Ontarians that it's acceptable to put this down the sewer system -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member, put that down. Thank you.

Hon Mr Sterling: Unfortunately, all the allegations put forward by the member opposite would not stand the test in terms of any kind of medical, technical examination. I think what we should do is act in reaction to what the technical experts advise us about what our sewage plants can handle. This regulation, which hasn't been approved but is there for the public to comment on - if evidence is brought forward during this review period which says this is a bad proposal, then we won't do it, but the evidence to date is that this is the best way to deal with this waste product. That is what the technical answer is.

ROAD SAFETY

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. I want to ask and try to change your attitude today, if I may, on the question of red light traffic deaths, because what I heard from you yesterday I found unacceptable.

You know that the mayor of Toronto and the chief of police here in Toronto yesterday appealed to you to allow video cameras to be used in charging motorists who run red lights. I don't need to remind you, I hope, that this is about stopping a crime that killed 16 people in the GTA alone last year. So I hope you will answer with more than just the sarcasm with which you treated the issue yesterday and take seriously the proposal which I sent to you earlier in our letter, in which I indicated to you our willingness on behalf of our caucus to offer quick passage to a bill which would make the necessary amendments to the Highway Traffic Act and the Municipal Act, if that's required, to be able to put in place red lights so we can put a stop to the deaths that might continue if the situation is allowed to continue. Will you do that, Minister?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Transportation): I'd like to thank the honourable member for the letter, which I did receive today, and treat the question in the spirit in which it was intended, as a serious question on a serious issue.

Indeed the honourable member is quite correct: Red light running is a fatal problem. About 2% of all fatalities occur at intersections as a result of red light running, and that's 2% too many as far as this government is concerned.

Just as this government introduced community safety zone legislation which allowed a doubling of fines by municipalities, just as this government introduced, through Mr Eves's budget, more money for community policing, just as this government more than doubled the minimum fine and increased the set fine for red light running, in the spirit of co-operation I'd be more than happy to sit down with the honourable member, and if he has some creative solutions that allow us to use the technology and identify and target the aggressive drivers in our society, I'm all ears and I'd be quite happy to work with him and his caucus.

Mr Silipo: I don't know if that was a bit of an opening on the minister's side or if he's simply reiterating his position that until there is a way that only addresses the issue of drivers and the privacy concern that he has continued to raise here, that is going to be used as a way to stop him from bringing forward legislation.

I just want to say to the member, bring forward a package of legislation. Let us sort out the problems, if there are problems. You know our commitment. You know our commitment to photo radar. You know, therefore, that we're prepared to get this legislation done. The testing that was done at the corner of Dufferin and St Clair showed incredible numbers: in 110 hours, 301 red light runners; 65 every 24 hours.

If you are concerned about the privacy concern, listen to the words of the chief of police, who said, "Boy, there's no privacy issue when we have an ambulance pull up and we pick up kids off the street and send them to the hospital." We can deal with the privacy concerns. Bring forward the legislation, take us up on our offer, and let's get this legislation in place before more people are killed.

Hon Mr Clement: I don't mean to be dramatic, but I find myself more in agreement with the honourable member. I don't believe I raised privacy concerns. I believe those can be overcome provided it is done in a certain way.

The key issue for me, and evidently for the honourable member, is effectiveness, making sure that we have the tools necessary, using the technology, using other tools available to us to ensure that we identify that red-light-runner driver, the aggressive driver, issue the demerit points, jack up the insurance rate, target all our sanctions. That will be an effective solution to this problem.

If the honourable member and his caucus have some solutions in this regard - we are already accepting solutions or proposals from the Ontario Safety League, from other organizations that care about getting at this problem - and if his caucus is willing to work with us, I think in the spirit of co-operation we can come to a solution. In fact, I'm sure we can.

HEALTH CARE FRAUD

Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): My question to the Minister of Health concerns health fraud. In the Toronto Sun on September 23 there was an article in which the police had accused an individual of overbilling the province's health system by some $90,000. This is the kind of misuse that is very damaging to the health system. Those dollars should be spent on patient care and should not be wasted on fraud. As everyone knows, we're spending $1.2 billion more now on health care than we did when we became the government and we want to make sure that this health fraud is kept to a minimum. Can you explain to the House what initiatives your ministry is taking to combat health fraud?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Our government has certainly moved forward, I think very aggressively, to ensure that all health care dollars are spent on health services for patients. We did initiate a 1-800 number. We also have a 1-800 number in place so that providers can validate health cards. Fortunately, as a result, what we see happening is that we are removing ineligible health cards from the system.

Probably one of the other very significant initiatives we have undertaken that is having a good impact is the fact that we now have a coordinator who is dealing with anti-fraud programs and has a staff to assist. We are doing everything possible to ensure that those people who are not entitled to health cards have those health cards removed. If people are fraudulently using the system, then certainly charges are being laid.

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Mr Grimmett: You've outlined a number of initiatives but I would like to hear more results. What tangible results is the ministry actually recognizing or achieving in combatting health fraud? I wonder if you could outline to us some more tangible results. It's fine to bring in programs, but are they working?

Hon Mrs Witmer: I'm very pleased to say that our programs are working. They are working extremely well. We have received, since the program was started in 1997, to the public health fraud action line approximately 1,558 calls. In the last five months alone we have received 928 reports of alleged fraud. All of these calls are thoroughly investigated, and I am very pleased to say that these investigations have resulted in ending eligibility for 42% of the cases. As well, the ministry has initiated 15 prosecutions of health fraud involving 35 charges. We have obtained three convictions, the balance are in the courts, and so far those three convictions have resulted in $92,000 in restitution. That money is returned and it goes to help patients.

JAIL CLOSURES

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): My question is to the Solicitor General and it concerns the policy of jail closures in eastern Ontario. As the minister knows, I attended a meeting in Brockville last week where he announced that four eastern Ontario jails will be closed in favour of a mega-jail in his own riding. Among the facilities to be closed is a Cornwall jail, which will result in a loss of employment of possibly 40 employees in Cornwall and area. Let me tell you that 40 jobs in the Cornwall area is a very big hit. These workers have valuable experience in the correctional service and have been trained at the expense of the taxpayers.

While it has been hinted they may be offered employment at the mega-jail, there is a lot of uncertainty about their future. Will you guarantee that all classified employees working at a facility slated for closure will have full employment at the new Brockville centre? Will you also assure that the non-classified and support staff will be given a chance to win back their jobs? Will you here and now make this commitment to those employees?

Hon Robert W. Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I have made that commitment with respect to classified employees, not necessarily Brockville but also the Ottawa detention centre, which is being expanded by a 200-bed addition. We see no reason for any lost opportunity for current classified employees. What we've said with respect to unclassified employees is that we will make every possible effort to provide employment opportunities for unclassified personnel.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): The Pembroke Jail is also slated to close under your proposal and the people of the Upper Ottawa Valley are upset and angry at the loss of their provincial jail. Why? Because under the superjail proposal it's going to mean that residents and communities in the Upper Ottawa Valley are going to face minimally a four- and five-hour round trip to the nearest jail, not in Pembroke, but in Ottawa and Brockville. It's going to turn our police and correctional service into an expensive and chaotic taxi service. It is going to impose real and additional costs on local police forces and local property taxpayers.

Perhaps most importantly and most seriously, it is going to reduce the access of rural residents in Upper Ottawa Valley communities like Pembroke and Petawawa and Killaloe and Whitney and Deep River to the justice system. They are going to lose sentencing options like the weekend pass and the intermittent sentencing option. Why?

The Speaker: Answer.

Mr Conway: Whereas the old jail used to be in Pembroke, they're now going to find themselves two and three hours away from home and work. Minister, in light of the unfairness of the policy that would close the Pembroke Jail, will you now stand in your place and tell the rural residents of the Upper Ottawa Valley that their jail will remain open and -

The Speaker: Thank you. Minister.

Hon Mr Runciman: I appreciate the member's concerns with respect to this. Any time there is a job loss in the community, we're all concerned. Certainly I've experienced that, as have many members in this Legislature.

What we are doing with respect to the restructuring process is addressing the call of the Provincial Auditor in two reports, talking about the very high-cost system of corrections in Ontario. We currently have the highest-cost provincial system in the country, significantly higher than in other provinces. We are making an effort, which the NDP initiated some time ago, to close our older, high-cost, inefficient and in many respects unsafe facilities. In the Pembroke situation it's a very old facility, as the member knows.

Mr Conway: Newly renovated.

Hon Mr Runciman: Newly renovated but still significant per diem costs to the province of Ontario and our taxpayers.

With respect to the transportation issue, I recognize that. We have made a commitment with respect to transportation of prisoners.

The Speaker: Answer.

Hon Mr Runciman: New facilities will also have remand video, remand facilities within these new facilities, which will provide an opportunity for reduced transportation requirements. I think we're -

The Speaker: Thank you. New question.

Point of order, Minister.

Mr Conway: This policy will tell people -

The Speaker: Order. We have a point of order.

Mr Conway: - in Toronto that their neighbourhood jail is in Sarnia.

The Speaker: Member for Renfrew North, come to order. I warn you to come to order.

Mr Conway: This is a scandal. Absolutely unfair.

The Speaker: Member for Renfrew North, I'm not going to warn you again.

Minister.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In my response to the leader of the third party with regard to the restraining order -

Interjections.

The Speaker: Order. She's correcting her record from a previous question. I think you'll want to hear it probably and it will be very quick.

Point of order.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: I think that the members of the House would want to know that there have been improvements to the restraining order process and I didn't say that in response to my question with regard to the integrated -

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): That's not correcting the record.

The Speaker: Hold it. Let's go to question period and then maybe it would be more appropriate if you'd correct your record after.

APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Your reforms to the apprenticeship program are causing concerns as it becomes clearer how bad your changes are going to be to apprentices and to our economy.

Your legislation, Bill 55, creates new tuition fees, eliminates important protections for workers, deregulates and lowers wages. But I guess that's not much of a surprise as it's part of your government's agenda, its race to the bottom. When we ask your officials why you're doing this, why you're scrapping these protections that have existed in law for many years, we're told, "Wait until you see the regulations."

Minister, we don't want to wait that long. Will you commit today to table the full apprenticeship regulations in this House before Bill 55 is called for second reading?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): We have come forward with the apprenticeship legislation, the first legislation, I might say, since 1964. That's how far out of date the apprenticeship legislation is, and if you think back to the conditions in 1964 in 1998, obviously they're extremely different.

We've gone through an extensive consultation with the stakeholders. The member opposite mentioned tuition fees, and I've already announced that tuition fees will not be included until we have completed negotiations with the federal government with regard to a labour market agreement. Then, at that point, there will also have to be financial assistance to those apprentices who need assistance going through the program.

Quite simply, there are many opportunities in our economy for apprentices, whether tool and die makers, hairdressers, cooks and bakers, any number of the skilled trades. Our apprenticeship system is rooted in the 1960s and needs to be brought up to date to offer people the opportunities in the 1990s.

Mr Lessard: Minister, part of bringing that legislation up to date requires you to have meaningful consultation with the people who are going to be affected by it. We know what you mean by consultation. It means meeting but not listening.

Today we have representatives from the OFL apprenticeship committee and from the buildings trades in the gallery: Sandra Clifford from the OFL, James Moffatt from the Sheet Metal Workers, Ron Groulx from the Boilermakers and John Maceroni from the Painters union. They have been trying to tell you that this legislation is going in the wrong direction. We even know some employers' groups that don't like what you're doing.

All we have, as far as what you're proposing in regulations, is this, A Framework for Revised Regulations, a one-page document. I ask you once again, Minister, will you commit to tabling the full regulations before you call Bill 55 for second reading?

Hon David Johnson: We have committed to consultations throughout this process. Indeed, some of the representatives whom you've announced here today have been an integral part of these consultations - the sheet Metal Workers, the Ontario Federation of Labour.

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What we need to accomplish is to bring the apprenticeship system in tune with the 1990s as we approach the millennium, because there are just so many opportunities. We believe that through the reforms in this legislation and through giving more authority to the various trades and the pacts associated with the various industries we can double the number of new apprentices coming into the system.

We intend to carry on with this legislation, we intend to carry on with our consultations. We intend to bring forward a new piece of legislation and have it debated here, of course, which we've already announced, one that will encourage more people under current conditions to pursue terrific opportunities within the economy in Ontario.

NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION

Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I file under standing order 37(a) my complete dissatisfaction with the response of the minister of corrections to my concern about the arbitrary and unfair closure of the Pembroke Jail, and I expect a late show at a conveniently early time.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: This is with regard to restraining orders and the question that I received from the leader of the third party. I don't think I was firm in saying that in fact the restraining order -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): OK, but I need your point of order. What's your point of order?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: My point of order is that it was implied that the system isn't working and now I'm answering the question by saying that it is working -

The Speaker: I understand that, and that's probably a statement or a question or something, but I know what it's not; it's not a point of order.

PETITIONS

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I have a petition signed by about 100 residents from Cornwall and S-D-G.

"I support the commission's preliminary decision to restructure health services in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Prescott and Russell counties which specifies that:

"The Cornwall General Hospital will be renovated in order to consolidate all acute (which includes all diagnostic testing, emergency and critical care services, obstetrics, paediatrics, surgery and acute medical), rehabilitation and mental health services in Cornwall, eliminating duplication of any unnecessary services between the CGH and the HDH;

"The Hotel Dieu Hospital will provide all complex continuing care and subacute care. This will allow it to build on its experience providing long-term care;

"The Cornwall General Hospital presents a better option for the delivery of acute services because of better layout and service relationship and recent renovation to emergency, critical care and operating rooms;

"All acute services will be provided in a public non-denominational setting that recognizes all individuals as equals regardless of race, creed or religion;

"$15.2 million is required for renovation and expansion projects, furniture and equipment for the two hospitals: $5.9 million for Hotel Dieu Hospital in Cornwall; $9.3 million for Cornwall General Hospital.

"The commission stated that due to physical plant limitation, consolidation of all services (all acute and chronic care) at the Cornwall General site is not possible and the capital cost for the one-site option at Hotel Dieu is very high at $25.6 million. This option was not considered by the commission as a viable option for the taxpayers in Cornwall. Basically, the configuration of the Hotel Dieu site is a new complex continuing care hospital pavilion attached to a very old acute care facility.

"French-language services to be strengthened in both hospitals;

"The two hospitals, along with a representative from the community care access centre form a joint executive committee to build on existing alliances to ensure continuity of service to the patients and residents of Cornwall and surrounding areas during and after the restructuring of hospital services."

CANCER PREVENTION

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have thousands of signatures on petitions I've been collecting for months now. These are from CAW Local 1530 and CAW Local 636. They read:

"Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas cancer claims in excess of 20,000 lives annually in Ontario alone; and

"Whereas cancer treatment costs Ontario taxpayers in excess of $1 billion annually; and

"Whereas the best way to fight cancer or any disease is through preventative measures; and

"Whereas the Ontario Task Force on the Primary Prevention of Cancer has advised the government to set realistic and realizable targets for phasing out the release of environmental toxins; and

"Whereas the Legislative Assembly on April 18, 1996, passed a resolution to that effect with support from all three parties;

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

"The Premier and the Minister of Health should immediately implement the April 18 resolution and strike a working committee to begin the task of setting realistic targets for the phase-out of persistent bio-accumulative environmental toxins."

I will affix my signature to these petitions.

ABORTION

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They're signed by some 1,000 people from my riding.

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition seeking support from the members of Parliament.

"I support the commission's preliminary decision to restructure health services in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Prescott and Russell counties which specifies that:

"The Cornwall General Hospital will be renovated in order to consolidate all acute (which includes all diagnostic testing, emergency and critical care services, obstetrics, paediatrics, surgery and acute medical), rehabilitation and mental health services in Cornwall, eliminating duplication of any unnecessary services between the CGH and the HDH;

"The Hotel Dieu Hospital will provide all complex continuing care and subacute care. This will allow it to build on its experience providing long-term care;

"The Cornwall General Hospital presents a better option for the delivery of acute services because of better layout and service relationship and recent renovation to emergency, critical care and operating rooms;

"All acute services will be provided in a public non-denominational setting that recognizes all individuals as equals regardless of race, creed or religion;

"$15.2 million is required for renovation and expansion projects, furniture and equipment for the two hospitals: $5.9 million for Hotel Dieu Hospital in Cornwall; $9.3 million for Cornwall General Hospital.

"The commission stated that due to physical plant limitation, consolidation of all services (all acute and chronic care) at the Cornwall General site is not possible and the capital cost for the one-site option at Hotel Dieu is very high at $25.6 million. This option was not considered by the commission as a viable option for the taxpayers in Cornwall. Basically, the configuration of the Hotel Dieu site is a new complex continuing care hospital pavilion attached to a very old acute care facility.

"French-language services to be strengthened in both hospitals;

"The two hospitals, along with a representative from the community care access centre form a joint executive committee to build on existing alliances to ensure continuity of service to the patients and residents of Cornwall and surrounding areas during and after the restructuring of hospital services."

I affix my signature, in full agreement with the petition.

ABORTION

Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 117 people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DIABETES EDUCATION SERVICES

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I have a petition that reads:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Diabetes Education Service in Kenora is a necessary program; and

"Whereas the Harris government has refused to provide long-term funding for diabetes education in Kenora; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has acknowledged that the program is cost-effective given the volume of clients seen and the degree of specialization required;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, join our MPP, Frank Miclash, in calling upon the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demand that the Harris government provide long-term, stable funding to the Diabetes Education Service in Kenora."

I too have affixed my signature to the petition.

ABORTION

Mrs Barbara Fisher (Bruce): I have petitions here today from Mildmay, Teeswater, Walkerton and Formosa. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have signed my name to the top of each of the petitions.

DIABETES EDUCATION SERVICES

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

"To the Legislative Assembly:

"Whereas the Diabetes Education Service at Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Ontario, is an essential component of health care, we, the undersigned, petition the Minister of Health of Ontario as follows:

"For permanent funding for the diabetes education service."

I affix my signature in full agreement with this petition.

PROPERTY TAXATION

Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads in part:

"Whereas the town of Flamborough has placed $639,000 of a $1.354-million provincial grant into the Borer's Creek reserve fund;

"Whereas the town of Flamborough's diversion of $639,000 into a Borer's Creek fund will result in an approximate 5.71% property tax increase;

"Whereas the town of Flamborough, by returning the said $639,000 to the Flamborough property taxpayers as intended by the province, will result in an approximate 5% property tax decrease;

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

"To take the steps necessary to ensure that the $1.354-million grant paid by the province of Ontario to the town of Flamborough be applied for the purposes it was intended for, thereby ensuring that the residents of Flamborough not be subjected to unfair property tax increases."

I have over 200 names signed on this petition, and I add my signature to it.

PROTECTION FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): I have a petition from my riding signed by 100 people. It starts:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas nurses in Ontario often experience coercion to participate in practices which directly contravene their deeply held ethical standards; and

"Whereas pharmacists in Ontario are often pressured to dispense and/or sell chemicals and/or devices contrary to their moral or religious beliefs..."

And it ends with:

"We, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to enact legislation explicitly recognizing the freedom of conscience of health care workers, prohibiting coercion of and unjust discrimination against health care workers because of their refusal to participate in matters contrary to the dictates of their consciences and establishing penalties for such coercion and unjust discrimination."

I added my signature to it.

ELECTORAL REFORM

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the current electoral system allows for large majority governments to be elected in the Ontario Legislature with the support of less than 50% of the voters; and

"Whereas in a democratic election voters should be free to vote for the candidate who best represents them; and

"Whereas every voter casts only one vote, and every vote cast, whether for the winner of a constituency or not, should count to elect a member of the provincial Parliament; and

"Whereas voters have the right to fair representation in the Legislature;

"Whereas modern democracies from New Zealand to Germany to Japan have adopted a mixed-member proportional electoral system; and

"Whereas with the new redistribution of boundaries in Ontario the number of MPPs will be reduced from 130 to 103;

"We respectfully request that the Ontario Election Act be modified so that the residual votes in each constituency (ie the votes not used to elect the winner of that constituency) be accumulated with the residual votes in all other constituencies and used to elect an additional 26 MPPs. They would be selected from published party lists, in proportion to the total number of residual votes for each political party."

It's signed by a number of my constituents from the Rockwood area.

DENTAL CARE

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads like this:

"Whereas a new schedule of dental services for children and people with disabilities was introduced by the government under the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act; and

"Whereas the new schedule fails to meet the special needs of children and people with disabilities, reduces services, places barriers to accessing care and creates an environment for various different dental programs across Ontario; and

"Whereas the move away from an emphasis on prevention under the new dental schedule brings significant health risks for children and people with disabilities who are often least able to practise good oral hygiene; and

"Whereas the new dental schedule interferes with the patients' rights to consent to treatment by requiring administrators, and not patients or substitute decision-makers, to authorize and deny dental treatment; and

"Whereas there is no method for the patient to appeal a decision by a plan administrator to deny dental treatment; and

"Whereas pre-authorizations, called predeterminations in the new plan, will require that a higher level of confidential patient health information be disclosed to dental plan administrators; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has caused confusion among patients by introducing the plan without prior consultation" - typical - "and has not included any affected patient groups in consultations after releasing the new dental plan;

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

"Delay full implementation of the new dental plan until the requirement for predeterminations is removed, patient confidentiality is protected, the plan emphasizes prevention in oral health care, and the government consults directly with affected patients to ensure the new plan will meet the special needs of children and people with disabilities."

I affix my signature as I'm in total agreement with it.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

INSTRUCTION TIME: MINIMUM STANDARDS ACT, 1998 / LOI DE 1998 SUR LES HEURES D'ENSEIGNEMENT : NORMES MINIMALES

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 63, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to instructional time / Projet de loi 63, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation en ce qui concerne les heures d'enseignement.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I was talking about the Tory math and how we are trying to do an equation that just doesn't work, because the Tory funding figures are such that it means the number of students in classes, the number of minutes of instruction, cannot be worked out according to what the government continues to say.

Under the so-called Mike's math lesson, 24 minutes per day equals 25 more students per day. Also according to Tory math, 22 equals 30 or 31 or 32 or 33. I'll explain this in this way: You have to understand that the numbers 22 and 25 are very flexible in the Tory mind. They expand. People have been told that teachers are only being asked to teach an extra 25 minutes per day. They're also being asked to believe that every class in every high school in Ontario has 22 students. This is how the Tories have been told to express their arithmetic. Tories have been told to insist that 25 extra minutes a day is really little to ask a teacher. They're not to explain, however, that 25 doesn't really mean 25 minutes or to explain how the 25 minutes are to be used.

Teachers, as many people may know, have offered to lengthen classes so that each student could have more time in each class. The Tories, however, have rejected this idea because it means they would not be able to get rid of teachers. They don't want teachers to have longer classes and thus have more instructional time based on longer classes, even though that would mean each teacher has more time with the students. They want to cut the number of teachers, so the Tories want each teacher to have 25 more students, not 25 more minutes. They want them to have an extra period with more students, and as we've been saying throughout this piece, teachers need more time with the students they presently teach; they don't need more students to teach.

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In regard to the number 22, Tories have been told always to refer to capping class sizes and never, ever to use the word "average" when talking about smaller classes. Of course, we all know that the class size of 22 refers to a board-wide average which includes all staff, not just the classroom teachers. In most schools, classes are the same size or larger than last year, not smaller. The only way to reduce class size is to establish a maximum in each class, but the government hasn't done that and doesn't want to do that.

I suggest that every parent in Ontario should ask their children how many children they have in their math class or in their English class this semester. In most cases they will find it exceeds 22 at the secondary level. They will say that because, as I was explaining yesterday afternoon, 22 doesn't really mean 22 for the Tories when it comes to the size of classes, and 25 doesn't mean 25 extra minutes, it means 25 extra students at least.

After the presentation I made in the House yesterday, I received some e-mails. I've been receiving a lot of them. I just want to refer to a couple of these e-mails to demonstrate probably better than I could myself the problem with Tory mathematics. This one is addressed to me from Michael Wingrove of Hamilton. He's a secondary school teacher. He says:

"I wish to thank you for your efforts to inform the House of the impossible conditions of meeting the 1,250 minutes of instructional time under the Tories' definition. Your information has been basically correct as it applies to a semestered school, and I agree that the government's plan, as you stated, was to eliminate teaching positions, not simply to increase `time in the classroom.'"

However, he makes a point that I wasn't fully aware of. He says, "In larger high schools, there is a five-period day," rather than the four-period day that I referred to in a semestered system. This is "to allow the kids to fit into the limited number of classrooms and into the inadequately sized cafeteria." There are three different lunchtimes, which range from 10 in the morning to 12:30. As an aside, I would say 10 in the morning is a little early for lunch, but that's the scheduling in a semestered system.

As I was saying yesterday, in other semestered systems which have four classes a day, most of the teachers up to now have been teaching three out of the four, but in many cases now they will have to teach four out of four, which doesn't give them any time to do preparation during the day. Mr Wingrove goes on to say, "The four and three scenarios do not play so well" in a setting where there are five periods, "for it means that for many teachers on four they must instruct three periods in a row," not a neat two in the morning and then a break and another two in the afternoon.

"In my case," Mr Wingrove says, "for the next semester that means that I teach one class at the start of the day and am forced to have lunch before 10 in the morning and then deal with three other classes" in a row "in three different classrooms in three different subject areas. The three-minute travelling time between classes would hardly allow a washroom trip, somewhat reminiscent of sweat shops around the world."

Another teacher he is acquainted with in a different school is now forced to teach two periods in two different schools with his "lunch hour" in between used to drive to the other school.

"It would seem that with the government insistence on 1,250 minutes the only acceptable humanitarian solution would be to revert back to a non-semestered school timetable."

This is what I suggested when the former minister first suggested this number of minutes per week, that it would mean the end of the semestered system at the secondary level. School boards would have to go back to the eight-period day. But Mr Wingrove raises a very important point about why that is not possible in many cases.

He says: "There wouldn't be enough room to house all the students" in many schools "in an eight-period day," because the student population is transient. "The semestered school allows an easier transition from school to school following family breakups or relocation due to downsizing. The non-semestered school usually results in the loss of a full year of credits if these students enter midyear." What he's saying is that if you have a semestered system, a student can start in the middle of the year and get half of his credits, whereas in a non-semestered system in many cases that student would lose the full year.

Something else Mr Wingrove says speaks to the concern I raised about the morale in the school system. He says:

"I am truly glad that the government saw fit to cancel payments to the teachers' pension fund to allow teachers to retire earlier, and even here the agenda was clouded," because it means they want to retire older teachers at maximum pay to hire rookies at less pay, "for a significant savings." But in any case, in two years "I escape this continued harassment and embarrassment. It is, as you say, money, money, money, and damn those that stand in the way. At least the riot squad was not turned on our striking ranks as happened to Ontario's civil servants" under this government.

I think those comments attest to the poor morale that certainly Mr Wingrove in Hamilton demonstrates.

I have another letter that is from one of Mr Johnson's, the Minister of Education's, constituents. He says:

"As one of your constituents and a secondary school teacher, I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms the recent TV ad that the government has been running with regard to teacher working hours. The ad contains a vicious anti-teacher message, laden with half-truths (now I know what became of Joe McCarthy). To compare `teaching time' between provinces is a matter of interpretation. What is counted in other provinces is not counted here in Ontario."

That's quite true. The definition of "instructional time" as set out in this bill is quite different from the definitions used for "instructional time" in most of the other provinces. They are all different. So we're in many cases comparing apples and oranges when we try to argue that one province has more instructional minutes per week than another province. In many cases, other provinces do count mentoring, teachers being on call, hall duty, cafeteria duty and so on. Some provinces do, some provinces don't. The minister of course doesn't mention that when he makes statements and it certainly isn't mentioned in the advertisement that this Mr Roberts of Toronto is referring to.

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"In the ad it mentions the extra time involved as 25 minutes per day. This is poor math. Given the usual 70-minute period" in the semestered system, as I was saying, "the true figure is 35 minutes" extra per day. "On top of this there is the time required to prepare, mark and mentor one extra class - perhaps one to one and a half hours. I am not convinced that you or anyone in your ministry has any concept of what is involved in teaching.

"The ad blatantly infers that teachers are not willing to put in more class time. This is a downright lie. Most teachers are quite willing to be in class the extra time if the seventh period," which boards have been asked to implement, "is dropped and our preparation time is restored. Your ministry has boasted about increasing the time teachers are in class without mentioning that it involves taking on an extra 25 to 30 students. The net result is that we have less time for each individual. Give us six classes and a return to preparation time and we will be better able to serve the students.

"By now the public has realized that there was fine print attached to" the government's "promise of 22 students per class. Perhaps you would be willing to explain to the parents of my students why I'm teaching 20 to 25 more students this year and thus have less time for their child?"

The government talks "of putting money into the classroom but is spending millions of dollars on publicity and `photo ops.'... Boards...spend $73 million on severance packages and `golden handshakes' (none of which went to teachers). At the same time teachers and schools spend hours trying to beg and borrow from each other to have enough texts" in each class. "Instead of a `photo op,' spend a day in a school to see what your government has created....

"Your reforms to education are a mirage financed on the backs of those you profess to care about: the students."

I think that very eloquently expresses the view that many teachers across Ontario have about this government.

The bill sets minimum standards for the number of minutes teachers are to spend teaching. When I say it's about getting rid of teachers, I have the evidence. I have a survey now of the public boards. It doesn't include the Catholic boards; it's just the public boards at the secondary level.

There are 32 boards. Of the 32 boards, only in one has the number of teachers remained the same this year and only in one has the number of students remained the same. That's not surprising. In 20 of the 32 boards there are more students this year than there were last year. Eleven boards lost students; they have fewer students this year than last year. But in 20 they have an increase in the number of students. Logically that would mean if you have more students in a board you will need more teachers, all other things being equal. But when we look at the numbers of teachers - as I said, one stayed the same - only five of the boards, the 32 public district school boards in Ontario, this year have more teachers. Twenty-six of the 32 public boards have fewer teachers this year. It doesn't take a lot of math expertise to figure this out. There are more students and there are fewer teachers, so that means each individual teacher has less time with each individual student.

In 1998-99 in Ontario there are 1,563 fewer teachers at the secondary level and yet in 1998-99 there are 5,631 more students at the secondary level in the public boards. So we have 5,600 more students in Ontario's public schools at the secondary level and we have over 1,500 fewer teachers. Can anyone have any doubt that Bill 160 and the funding formula and the demand for more instructional minutes per week per teacher is not anything about improving the quality of education for these 5,600 more students in Ontario? It's about having fewer teachers. It has achieved its aim. It has worked. We haven't dealt with the Catholic boards; this is just a survey of the public boards.

The whole purpose of this seven out of eight - or in some cases it's been suggested perhaps six and a half out of eight, depending on how the boards organize the schools so you can teach half a class. One teacher might teach the first half of the year or the first half of the semester and then another teacher would take over and teach the second half. I don't think that's very good educationally. It doesn't make much sense for the students to have one teacher for half of the course and another teacher for the other half, but that's been suggested in some cases. The total number of minutes does work out that way. But it doesn't work out for the quality of education for students. This is about ensuring the government's agenda to have fewer teachers in the system is achieved, and it's worked.

It may not be quite as severe on the Catholic side. I don't have a survey of those boards because some of them received more funding. But even on the Catholic side you will find that the increase in the number of students does not have a commensurate increase in the number of teachers. There are fewer teachers teaching more students there as well. I don't have the final numbers yet.

Just ask any student who has been in a class of 33 or 35 whether they have the same opportunity as they do in a class of 20 to 25 and they will tell you they don't. Very good students in most cases will probably do fine. But those students who are having more difficulty and perhaps will need remedial help from the teacher will not generally do fine in a class that is large and they will drop by the wayside.

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This is a government that says it wants to improve the quality of education for students, but the funding formula belies that. It isn't possible. Boards of trustees are in a no-win situation here. The government has cut the funds available for teaching in the classroom, but it goes around saying, "We've increased it."

The government has said that boards will no longer be able to raise any funds locally. The government will set the funds, determine the funds that are available to boards for instruction. The government at the same time says it wants boards to meet an average class size - not a maximum but an average class size. In many cases, in order to do that the boards need more teachers but the funding formula requires them to have fewer teachers.

That's not surprising. In any service, whether it be education, health care or any other service, most of the budget goes to staff. Most of it goes to salaries. In teaching it's about 70% of the budget. If the government is going to take a lot of money out, between $750 million and $1.1 billion a year out of education, the only way it can be done is by having fewer teachers.

When it appeared to the government that boards might not do that, they might not cut enough teachers, then the Conservative government decided, "We've got to ensure they do." The way they did it was by coming up with this increase in the number of instructional minutes and requiring boards to comply. As I said in one of the examples I read, in some cases teachers said: "We're prepared to teach longer to comply with the number of minutes required. The way to do it is to lengthen the periods and lengthen the school day. We'll spend more time with our students, and at the end of each week we'll have taught more minutes with the students." But the government came along and said to the boards: "No, you can't do that. We don't want you to do that." Mr Johnson, the Minister of Education and Training, sent a letter out to the boards saying: "Oh, no, we don't want you to do that. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about having teachers teach more periods - not more minutes per period, more periods. That means of course that we want each teacher teaching another 25 or so students each day."

In industry it's what's called speed-up, where you require employees to do more in the same amount of time in the week. Instead of saying, "You can still teach three out of four, but they'll be 75-minute periods each and so that'll make up the time," the government said: "No, no, that's not what we want. We want you to teach four out of four and keep the periods at the same length." In some cases, they actually reduced the period length to come up with the right number. That hasn't happened in very many cases but it has happened in a few. So it's been all about reducing the number of teachers.

Some of these boards that I've referred to in the survey - I'll give you an example here. I'll use the board in my own area, the Algoma district board. They have gone up 82 students this year, total. No, sorry, I'll use the Rainbow District School Board, which is the Sudbury-Espanola area. They've gone up 82 students but they've gone down in the number of teachers, and that has happened right across the board. I don't understand -

Interjection.

Mr Wildman: Well, let's see here. It's a little unclear on this. I'll use the Near North District School Board in this example here. The Near North has actually gone down a number of students; 218 students fewer and they've gone down 35 teachers. Let's take Waterloo as an example. It's gone up 450 students and it's gone down 57 teachers. That's the kind of thing that's happening. That's what's been happening across Ontario because of this funding formula.

The reason for this bill is that some of the boards and the teachers' federations - not very many, but a few of them - negotiated agreements which allowed for the number of minutes to be met without cutting teachers. The government, to be fair, has said, "If they've made agreements, we will allow those agreements to go on for another two years, but after that they can't be extended." But they brought in this legislation to ensure there couldn't be any -

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Thank you. Questions or comments?

Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I would like to comment on some of the comments that the member for Algoma made. Primarily this bill, as has already been mentioned, is about defining what the instructional time will be. We debated that quite a bit last year under Bill 160. I really feel that the debate now, and why we have to bring this bill forward, is because there's a disagreement on the whole aspect of primarily the secondary school teachers, who do not want to teach the extra 25 minutes per day.

I understand that. I understand that when you change something it's difficult to accept that change. Certainly when you're in disagreement with it, when you weren't teaching the 25 minutes extra, of course you don't like it. But it's part and parcel of what we as the government feel is the package of increasing the quality of education.

I understand where they're coming from, because in my previous job at the Niagara Credit Union we had to restructure twice and there were certain things I had to do that we didn't want to do. But because they are in disagreement, they're using other things like, what is instructional time? That's why the bill is being brought forward, to clarify that. Cafeteria duty is not instructional time, hall monitoring is not instructional time, and what we have to do is clarify it. That's what the bill does.

Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I would like to commend the member for Algoma for his remarks. Often we hear in this House a great numbers game. We hear about the number of teachers, fewer teachers, as he has indicated, at the secondary level; at the public boards, more students and fewer teachers. We continually hear about the numbers game, but at the beginning of September I've actually gone around to a good number of my schools to visit them first hand to find out what's happening in the schools.

As I indicated to the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce this past week in an address to them, I'm feeling a lot of frustration on behalf of the teachers, who are back in the classroom. People will know that we did not have any lockouts or strikes in the Keewatin-Patricia board, but when you walk into that school, you feel that frustration among the teachers, among the board members, among the administration as well, so a very tough time for them to suffer the consequences of a great number of things that are coming at them at great speed.

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I have to remind the member for Algoma, as has been brought to my attention as well by a good number of our younger teachers, that they are still suffering the consequences of what was called the social contract and how that took $425 million out of the system by the former NDP government. That was made permanent by this government. I'm hearing a lot of frustration as well that has carried over from the days of the social contract, from younger teachers and from teachers who are new in the system. As we speak about the numbers game, I encourage members from all parties to get out to just feel the frustration in our education system today.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to commend the member for Algoma and the comments he has put on the record these last couple of days regarding this piece of work put before us by the government, obviously an attempt by them to regain some control over the chaos and confusion and very difficult situation that we in this province find ourselves in today where it concerns education, and education for those most vulnerable in our system, elementary and secondary school students, some of my own children.

He speaks very eloquently from his own experience of having been a teacher in the system, his own experience of having had students go through the system, having students still in the system and having spent a lot of time, an extraordinary amount of time over the last number of months, speaking to teachers and teachers' groups and parents and parents' groups and communities about this issue and about this situation. Some of us predicted that this was where we were going to find ourselves at this time in our history, as we looked at the chaos, the crisis that was predicted by the Minister of Education a few years ago that they were going to cause in the system.

This isn't about bettering the system, this isn't about improving education, this is very simply and clearly about reducing the number of teachers in the system. It's about control and power and it's about taking money out of the system. When you do that, not to expect that you will end up in the place where we are today is to be naive and foolish at best. This piece of work that we are dealing with here today is major damage control, nothing more and nothing less.

Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): I'm pleased to comment on the comments of my colleague the member for Algoma. I've spent a lot of time with the member for Algoma as education critic. I certainly appreciate the passionate perspective he brings to education. I find myself in fundamental disagreement with his perspective and comments today, as he might appreciate.

The objective is not to attack teachers in this province; it's simply not that. We're looking to a rejuvenated education system in this province where teachers have a greater sense of ownership. They have greater opportunity to participate in the development of areas of specialty where they can bring an academic perspective to curriculum and province-wide testing. Those are the skills sets the government of Ontario requires and in fact has solicited over the course of the past three years in terms of developing a new agenda for education in this province.

This government is the first government to take specific action in terms of the issue of class size which the member for Algoma spoke to for some length both today and yesterday. We've taken specific action in terms of capping that average class size and not only doing that from a policy perspective; we've also provided the necessary tools to implement that policy decision. The tools I'm speaking of are in the form of some $1.2 billion in a class size protection fund. Over a three-year period that equates to some 3,000 new teaching positions in this province.

Not only are we making the broader policy decisions that are necessary to reform the education system in this province, but we're providing the necessary investments to deliver on those policies in our classrooms. It's about putting more money into the classroom, putting more money into the resources that teachers need to deliver those services to our students so that we have an education system that's designed and prepared to serve our students into the future.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma, two minutes.

Mr Wildman: I thank the members for their comments. I'd just like to make a couple of comments in reply.

This bill, the son of Bill 62, or daughter of Bill 62, is about control. It's about centralization of control over education in the hands of the minister. It's about micromanaging the system centrally. It's about taking away flexibility for local boards and for teachers and for administrators to organize the schools. It's about ensuring that there are fewer teachers in the system. It's about saving money by having fewer teachers. It's about taking a billion dollars out of the system.

It's not about quality of education. It's not about improving the number of hours that students are taught. It's not about ensuring there's more contact between individual students and teachers. It's about ensuring that there are fewer teachers teaching more students. It's about students who need extra help not getting it.

It doesn't even deal with a proper definition. It doesn't mention things like library teachers or guidance teachers. It doesn't define how they're supposed to make up the 1,250 minutes. In Quebec the definition does. The definition there is that they are instructing as long as they are doing things that are in the students' timetable that allow them to gain credits. This doesn't.

Does this mean an end to guidance in Ontario schools? Does it mean an end to library? It doesn't tell us here in this bill. I'll tell you what it does mean. It means less help for students, less instruction for students and fewer extracurricular activities for students.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Hon David Turnbull (Minister without Portfolio): I'm pleased to join this debate. The debate today is on Bill 63, which deals with instructional time. There are some broader questions which are being raised by the opposition that we have to consider.

Prior to the last election, I think probably the largest public meeting I ever held was in York Mills Collegiate. It was as we rolled out the document from our party called A Blueprint for Learning and it was a discussion piece on what needs to be done in education. The most people that ever turned out to a public meeting in the York Mills riding were at that one and there were some pretty strong views.

Like anything one would debate, not everybody agrees, but it was quite clear there was a very common thread that the parents were expressing. The thread was that they wanted to make sure there was a concentration on preparing their children for the rigours of future education challenges and that they needed the money to be spent in the classrooms. It has always been a common theme of people being disgusted at the amount of money which is spent by school boards in non-classroom activities.

One only has to visit the school board offices around the province in most school board administrations and examine the quality of construction and decoration and furniture in school board offices and then compare that with the many, many portables and relocatable classrooms that exist around this province. This is a problem that has existed for a long time in this province. It's something which certainly existed throughout all of the period of the last two governments and in fact back to the time that our government was in power before. There is a need to spend the money where the rubber hits the road, and that is in the classroom.

We know that we have good, dedicated teachers. There isn't a single member of this Legislature who doesn't have some friend or relation or colleague who is a teacher. We know that the vast majority of teachers have gone into teaching for all the best reasons. They want the joy of seeing children educated and ready for the future, a future which is very challenging in the world today, but also a future where Ontario has somewhat missed the boat. In the last few years we have been coming fairly low on the totem pole in terms of achievement, measured against other provinces in Canada and against other administrations in the world. Given the amount of money that is spent in our education system, this is clearly not acceptable.

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It's a problem that our government in opposition declared it was prepared to come to terms with and we laid out some of the pathway we intended to go. Indeed, since we have become the government, we have worked away with various pieces of legislation to make sure that the money is spent in the classroom. We have spent money on making sure that we have developed a new, more rigorous curriculum which applies to all schools in Ontario. We have developed province-wide testing and we have developed easily understood report cards that parents can look at and understand where their child is going and if any remediation is necessary.

We have brought in, in previous legislation, in Bill 160, finally a capping on what the average class size of a school board should be. It's worth spending a moment on this because I have heard some ridiculous statements made about average class sizes. Of course, quite obviously, when you take an average across the board it doesn't mean that every class is going to be that size. We have left that responsibility in the hands of boards, and there are reasons that a local board may elect to have some classes larger and some classes smaller. But when you take the average class size that existed before we became the government, before we passed this legislation, they were mainly higher all across the province.

I will speak specifically to the Toronto public secondary schools. The average class size in Toronto is 23.5. That was before we passed any legislation. It was 23.5 students, very close to the average we are aiming for, but still higher than that which we have set for secondary schools, and that is 22 students on average. We allow the schools to determine based upon the amount of population in a given area and the kind of demands that are placed on schools in terms of certain classes that you're not going to have a lot of students in and that will automatically squeeze up some classes to a larger size.

In considering this, I would consider my own local high school, which is York Mills public school, which is 28.5 students at the moment. Yes, they're facing some challenges in terms of accommodating the students in new, smaller classes. The Toronto public school board has indicated to them that they want York Mills Collegiate to reduce its average class size down to the size of the average that existed before this legislation came through, namely, 23.5 students.

Now they point out that there are many portables. I've lived in my present house for 21 years, and as long as I can remember there have been portables in the back of this school. Yet we have a situation in the Toronto school board that 100 schools are not being used for the education of children. These are facilities that, if liquidated, could yield large amounts of money to be able to build the additions to schools that we need. It is urgently needed, but it has been swept under the carpet for so long. We have gobs and gobs of money being spent in administration in school boards, and our government has now said: "No, you're going to be directed as to what amount is going to go into the classroom. It cannot be left at a certain amount." They can take money from administration and put it into the classroom, but they cannot do the opposite.

We are spending money on new textbooks. This year we're investing an extra $100 million on new textbooks. Will that buy all the textbooks we need? Of course it won't, but the fact is within the new funding formula there is an amount of money for textbooks each and every year, but initially there's this infusion of extra money for textbooks, which is very important because everybody who's in politics across the province knows the story that has existed for years in this province of children having to share textbooks or coming home with raggedy textbooks held together with Scotch Tape. That's not acceptable. In a rich province such as Ontario we have to be spending money where it matters, and that is with our children, not on lavish school board offices.

We have committed, as a government, to spending more resources on computers and software and Internet connections, and we're also spending more money and increasing the amount of money available for student tutors to help children who are having some challenges with their education. We should do no less.

Going back just for a moment to finish on the subject of classroom sizes, clearly we are not asking school boards to make every single secondary school class 22 and every single elementary class 25, but that is the average across the board. Discretion lies in the boards as to how they arrange that. But mathematics simply tells you that if you reduce the average of class sizes in a school board, needless to say, class sizes overall are going to be reduced. That has to be good for our children.

Teachers have asked for smaller class sizes for a long time, although I was disappointed to hear Marshall Jarvis a couple of weeks ago indicating that he wanted the flexibility that average class sizes across school boards should be increased so it could be used for pay for the teachers. We don't begrudge any pay for the teachers. There is enough money in the funding formula for teachers. But very clearly, as to school boards that have got a heavy administration, where there are all kinds of people in the board offices who I suspect probably were teachers before - the majority of them were - maybe they don't have the same luxury of having such heavy administrations in the future. That's good because we're going to spend the money where our children receive the benefit of it.

As a government and across the province we're spending more money on education than ever before in the history of this province. It's strange to say when you consider the horror stories that are being told by the opposition. No, we're not allowing the school boards to spend it in those areas outside the classroom that they've been able to get away with for so long.

We have protected within the funding formula the need for special education. Within the basic funding formula model, there's an amount on a per capita basis for all schools for special education, and then there are extra-special needs which are accounted for separately in a sliding scale according to the needs of that individual student. For the first time, that is an amount of money which is now portable. As that student moves to another school board, that money will be available automatically in the other school board. This makes good sense because this addresses the needs of the students with those special needs.

The instructional time that this bill addresses is as follows. The Education Improvement Commission, which is chaired by David Cooke, a former Minister of Education in an NDP government, and Ann Vanstone, a former chairman of the Metro public school board, has made recommendations. They have suggested that the amount of hours that teachers should spend in front of students, teaching classes, should be raised. At the moment the average across Ontario for secondary school teachers is 3.75 hours per day. Look, nobody likes working longer hours. Teachers are hard-working people and we're not suggesting for one instant that the teachers are scratching and not doing anything the rest of the time. Let us be very clear in this debate that that is not the suggestion.

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Mr Wildman: The suggestion is you want fewer teachers.

Hon Mr Turnbull: My dear friend from across the floor in the NDP caucus is suggesting we want fewer teachers. No, indeed not.

Mr Wildman: That's the result.

Hon Mr Turnbull: What we want is to make sure money is spent where the children are, and that means more instructional time. The longer the teacher is in front of the student, we know the better chance we're going to have smaller class sizes. Smaller class sizes equate, and we've been told this over and over again, to better-quality education. That is the thrust of our educational reforms.

The Education Improvement Commission, which as I've said cannot in any way be suggested to be a partisan gathering, has indicated that we should ask teachers in the secondary level to teach 1,250 minutes per week and in the elementary level to teach 1,300 minutes per week. What does this mean? For elementary teachers, it means exactly the same four hours and 20 minutes they've been teaching. They are at the national average and there is no problem in that area. But with secondary school teachers we are asking, "Can you, for the sake of our children, teach an extra 25 minutes a day to bring your instructional time up to an average of four hours and 10 minutes per day in front of the students?"

I've spoken to one teacher on a regular basis who has actually been involved with the negotiations with the Toronto separate school board and she has indicated to me that they have absolutely no problem in meeting that requirement. Some of the intransigence that has existed has been on the part of school boards who perhaps are trying to cut a better deal under the cover of Bill 160, but it's bogus. At the same time, the teachers want to get back into the classroom. They're delighted to be back in the classroom.

The reason for this debate today is we are defining - and we thought it was absolutely self-evident when we brought in Bill 160 - what instructional time means. It does not mean hall monitoring. It does not mean cafeteria duty. That isn't instructional time. They are important activities and we're not belittling those, but we ask that the teachers be in front of the students four hours and 10 minutes per day on average so that each secondary school teacher will teach 1,250 minutes per week and each elementary school teacher 1,300 minutes per week.

Let us say clearly that there has been a lot of ill will created at a time when clearly unions have an axe to grind and are trying to get the very best deal for their members. That is the task of unions. Obviously our friends in the opposition are doing what Winston Churchill once said the job of the opposition was: to oppose.

Mr Wildman: That's right and he did it well.

Hon Mr Turnbull: He did it well, and you're doing it well and we salute you for it.

But the fact is, we are not asking an extraordinary burden of teachers. Teachers work hard. We're asking them to work for four hours and 10 minutes per day on average in the secondary schools. That is 25 minutes more. I respect the fact that it's very hard to change. In all restructurings of corporations there is always a certain resentment at change. I suppose in all of us there is a reluctance to change, and that's natural. It's partly self-protection.

But what we want to do is concentrate on what I believe all generous-minded people want, and that is to teach our children so that they're ready for the rigours of the future, a future which is increasingly better because of the changes our government has made. We've seen the jobs coming to this province, but there is alarm at the fact that in the industrial sector they're saying, "We're worried that we will not have enough people to fill those high-tech jobs." We must make sure the students are ready for university and college and all other training. That's the challenge we face.

I personally reach out to teachers. I know teachers are hard-working, decent people who want to get on with what they were trained for, and that was to teach our children. I think if we cool the debate down a little bit, we can get on with that challenge.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Miclash: I'd just like to comment on some of the comments made by the member for York Mills. He suggests that there has been some ill will created out there. I think that's an understatement. If I've ever heard anything from him, I truly think that is an understatement.

Then he goes on to say that teachers are decent, hard-working people. I go back to the time I've spent in the classroom since school returned in early September. I have to tell you, member for York Mills, that there is not a teacher out there who really feels that's the way you feel about them.

You had a minister over here who wanted to create a crisis, and he did. He created a crisis in education. The next minister we thought would solve that crisis, but in essence what he has done is just create - it's gone from bad to worse. We hear that in the schools. We hear it from the students. The young people are saying they're not happy back at school. There's a report in today's Toronto Star: "Young People Blame Government.

"Dave Johnson, meet Mile Mrkonja.

"He says he's not very happy with the job you've done as education minister and feels pretty much the same about your colleagues in government."

It's not just the teachers in the classrooms; it's the students as well. I've heard it from many of them. I've heard it from the teachers, I've heard it from the administration, I've heard it from trustees, I've heard it from the students - total frustration out there. As they get downloaded with many more things that you talked about, the ill will creation will just continue. You're not getting through to the teachers, the people on the front line, and that is reflecting in terms of the comments that we're reading on a daily basis in the newspapers, the comments that I'm hearing, the frustration that we hear as we go into the schools.

You suggest that the opposition is telling horror stories. I often refer to what I'm hearing. They're not horror stories that I'm making up. These are things that I hear as I travel into our schools in the northwest, as I talk to the people on the front line, the people who are so frustrated with the system. When you take a look at the frustration there, the people who suffer the most, as we read in articles such as this in the Toronto Star today, are the students. The member for York Mills must realize that.

Mr Wildman: I listened carefully to the member for York Mills and his presentation and I noticed the measured tones he used to try and put forward the government's position in his arguments: the argument that teachers are good, dedicated, that they're afraid of change perhaps but the government wants teachers to do a good job and is just asking them to teach 25 more minutes a day.

In previous interventions in this debate we've shown that the 25 minutes is mythical. It doesn't really work. It really is 70 to 75 minutes more in most cases. In some cases it's only 35, but in no cases is it 25. The fact is not so much that it's more time but it's more students. That's the problem.

Teachers indicated they were prepared to teach more minutes per class to make up the time but the government said, "No, we want you to teach more classes." That's what this definition in this bill is about, to ensure that the teachers are teaching more classes, and that means fewer teachers for students. It doesn't mean more time for individual students with individual teachers, it means less, because the extra 25 is not an extra 25 minutes, the extra 25 is an extra 25 students per day per teacher. That's what the 25 really is. It's not minutes, it's students, an additional 25 students per day. Some might say: "All right, let them teach another class. That's not so bad. They should be able to do that." Perhaps, but don't pretend it means more time for individual students with individual teachers. It doesn't; it means less.

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Mr Smith: I'm certainly pleased to comment briefly on the comments of my colleague from York Mills. He brought to the Legislature today a very reasoned position, one that clearly demonstrated his understanding of educational issues, both from a localized perspective and from a district or board-wide perspective, as he made references to schools, both elementary and secondary, within his own community.

He emphasized in my mind the need for change in terms of the education system in this province. He emphasized the historical inequities in situations that have arisen over the course of a number of years that quite frankly have gone unchallenged, the difference being that this government is prepared to accept those challenges and move the education system forward. The member articulated that in his comments.

He, as I do, shares the same common point of view in terms of the talents and abilities that the teachers of this province bring to the classroom each and every day. I think that's a very significant issue as this government continues to include them in the academic affairs that are important, where their expertise and specialties can be utilized, whether it's in curriculum development, the testing of provincial standards or in the areas of curriculum materials.

He talked about the flexibilities that have been built into the class size formula through the funding formula and the ability of principals and boards to make decisions that are relevant to their communities and relevant to their particular schools.

He talked about the importance of providing investment tools and made reference to the textbook investments and the need to support the major policy decisions the government makes, not simply with idle words but with the financial necessities that are needed to bring to realization those very important lessons for our students. Most important, he emphasized that we're not asking for extraordinary change here. He has put that as a significant reference to the need for a new vision for education in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Response, the member for York Mills.

Hon Mr Turnbull: I thank my colleagues from Kenora, Algoma and Middlesex for making their comments. We know that politics is a blood sport. We all know that. We have our private asides and times that we have a few chuckles, and it's hard for the public to really appreciate what goes on here until they're here as a member themselves.

We owe it to our children to make sure we improve the education system. There was a comment about a story in the Toronto Star. We all know that the Toronto Star has a certain political bias. It was in the last will and testament of the founder of the Toronto Star that it would always be a Liberal supporter. That's a matter of history. The fact is that the same newspaper he's quoting, about a year and a half ago, carried a story by 22 professors in Ontario saying that the students coming out of Ontario's schools were not ready to face the challenges of university and had to do a lot of remedial work. That's your own newspaper that you like to quote.

We owe it to our children to make sure that the precious resources we have are concentrated in the classroom, where teachers need them and where teachers have always asked. Long before we became the government, I remember teachers being totally frustrated at the money that was spent at the boards that wasn't spent in the classroom. That's what we're changing. Yes, we're asking teachers to work a little bit longer. We think they will do it, but we hope we can quieten things down.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate. I'd like to bring some perspective to it from my area of Scarborough North where we are extremely concerned, like most people across the province, about where education is going.

Just reporting about what happened in the past, a few weeks ago, when the students were out of classes, the teachers have asked me to report that they are very happy to be back in the classroom. The students also said they are extremely happy to be back at school. But they also want me to say to you, Mr Speaker, to relate to the Premier and to the government of the day, how frustrated and angry they are. They feel a great sense of being let down by a government that did not defend their cause or the teachers' cause. They feel extremely let down that this government started off on its mandate by bringing about a crisis that today is out of hand, and they can't manage it.

Who is getting the brunt of it all? The students and the teachers. Relationships in the classroom over the years have been very good; as a matter of fact, I would say excellent. If you want to understand that, speak to some of the students today and ask them what they think of their teachers, what they think of education.

There was an article in the paper today where the students were expressing their view. Let me read it because it says it all. This is said by a student: "I understand the teachers were doing it for us, because they know how important education is for us. I don't think the government cared about students." That is rather a very concerning statement to make, because governments are about protecting the interests of people, making sure there's a balance, making sure people's interests are served. But here is a young individual who has no faith in the present government, who is saying they don't think it's working in their interests.

Let me focus on the bill itself. Let me just state what this government, the minister, stated here yesterday. As far as he understands, their role "is instrumental in the future of the province of Ontario in moulding the young people and teaching the young people, guiding the young people. We entrust a considerable amount to the teachers and over the years we indeed have been well served by the teachers of the province of Ontario."

Fine words. You would believe they would continue to allow the teachers to do the job they do very well. He went on, which is rather confusing afterward, and he said that "obviously the role of the teachers within that framework is to do the fine job they've been doing over the years to teach the individual students in the classes."

That's the part I cannot - I know the emphasis here in this bill is about teaching students in the classes. I've listened very attentively to the government members as they try to express their understanding of education in the classroom, and the more I listen, the more I feel they have no understanding whatsoever of education in the classroom and of teachers. It concerns me very much. It concerns me a lot because the fact is if anyone here feels that teaching is only done in the classroom, they want to have their head examined. Maybe they should return to school and find out where some of the instructional teaching is being done. It's not only in the classroom.

Fighting over 25 more minutes in front of students is rather ridiculous. It's ridiculous because I could tell you that most of the teaching of today's living and education is done outside the classroom. It's done outside the benches and the blackboard and the chalk. It's done all over. If you want to understand that, let me examine three areas that this government totally excluded from this.

Let me look at the librarians and teachers. Whether they can define it that a librarian is a teacher or not, there are teacher-librarians. There are individuals who get the students to understand how to do research, how to learn, how to find information. That's instructional teaching. They are the ones who will say, "I'll help you and teach you how to evaluate information." That's teaching. It's not done in the classroom. But what this government has done is excluded that from counting as part of teaching and has said it must be done in the classroom.

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Then what is a library? I presume that in my days, when I was in elementary school, a library was completely different. As a matter of fact, "You'd better walk quietly, look for your book and do what you want to do without disturbing anyone." Today it's a different place altogether. It is completely different because of technology and information. The amount of information being levelled at students today is enormous. The fact is that teachers and librarians are instructional people, not in the classroom, as you want. The information technology today is enormous. So I appeal to those government members, when they are looking at amending this bill, to include that as part of teaching.

Another area that I am a bit more familiar with from my days, although I've never taught in elementary or secondary school: I've taught in colleges and in guidance too. Guidance is so important. I've had many students who didn't even know where they wanted to go, how they wanted to go and when they should go about it. It took time and it took a lot of discipline and understanding, one to one, away from the chalk and from the blackboard. I tell you it's like giving the students wings. They start to fly because they understand where they should go. Guidance is an important part of instruction. It's teaching. When you exclude that and say those are not teachers, you're in some other occasion of not understanding what education is all about and what instruction is all about.

In guidance today what we need is guidance counsellors. If you look, for instance, at where students are going to go to university to understand what courses they are to direct themselves into, counsellors are needed daily to monitor that. The job market is so diverse, it is so complex, and where one is choosing one's career, where they should go - guidance counsellors. Within that it is enhancing education, it is giving information and it is instructional. If you can't count that as teaching, I'm saying again that you don't understand the aspect of what education and instruction are all about. It is so important. Many times when I was at the college level I saw students walking the corridor at a loss, sometimes for a year. The fact is that their grades were on average low, and as soon as they had a full understanding of what it's all about their grades went up, their contribution to society was even better and their productivity within the job market enhanced. So I appeal again to the government to look at that area when we're talking about guidance and counselling.

There's an area here that the government has completely ignored. Let us call it the replacement teachers. For instance, there are times when students are asked to go on a tour of the ROM or on some educational tour and two or three classes are left without a teacher. Those students who are left behind have got to be taught. But the fact is that this government refuses to look at replacement teachers within, because the principal has to find that teacher within the same system without going out, and would not count that as time before the classroom. Some of these insensitive ways are telling me - maybe this is it - that they don't understand the concept of education.

I want to spend some time on an area that is of extreme importance, and it's extracurricular activities. They're taken for granted. I heard the member for York Mills expounding around the fact and I saw the minister here talking about monitoring the cafeteria or monitoring the schoolyard and saying that there are all kinds of things we have to count. That is being extremely frivolous, although important itself. Monitoring the schoolyard is very important because actually it's the behavioural aspect of things. But let's move outside of that cafeteria argument, the argument about monitoring things in the schoolyard.

Let's talk about the teacher who instructs football, let's talk about the teacher who would do the drama, the extracurricular activity. In my riding two schools that come to mind, Francis Libermann and Mother Teresa, have gotten scholarships. Let me tell you, I know personally that a $200,000 scholarship over five years is normal, common, in my area. Why? If you speak to those instructors of football or basketball, two things happen to those students who have gotten those scholarships because of those extracurricular activities of football or girls' basketball or what have you. Because of the involvement and because of the healthy attitude of the student, their grades go up and they are able to be recruited across the United States on scholarships that are not even offered here in Canada.

If you are saying that's not important, if this government is saying that's not important at all and that's fun and games, how can you discount scholarships of C$40,000 a year, C$30,000 a year, to students who would go to reputable universities abroad? What is happening is the enhancement of extracurricular activities that the teachers are doing. We don't know how to appeal to this government for them to be aware of the fact that that's a part of teaching, that's a part of education.

I've often said that, of most of the people I've worked with, I can identify those who are bright and those who are also involved in sports or activities. They have greater productivity, a greater way of dealing with people and individuals and environments. If we take that away, what are we talking about? Are we only measuring that you must take the textbook, study the textbook and that's the only thing we will count? I think this government should wake up to that fact.

We often brag of the fact that we live in one of the most diverse communities in the world, the number of languages that are spoken and the many things that happen because of the diversity of culture.

I want to go back to counselling because the fact is today, as you know, which is a very sad part of it, that suicide among students sometimes is too high, because depression is too high. The main purpose of having a counsellor and sometimes a religious factor in the school environment is to bring some sort of spiritual help. I'm not talking about any specific denomination but sometimes it's so important to have those individuals there to guide them along. Education is not only the book-learning aspect of it but also the spiritual fulfilment that is so helpful.

So if we are saying today that the bill you are bringing in is to improve education in our province, if we're saying all of that, why don't we look at it in a rather comprehensive and wider view? Why don't we look at it like education is beyond the classroom, not in the class, one to one for the student or 24 to one for the students, but the fact is that all these things are extremely important to education. The attitude of the government, I think, plays a very important role in why some of these changes are not being taken in the way that maybe could be understood.

The rush, the dictatorial way, the bullying manner, the attitude that this government has taken since 1995 that they are the biggest bully - "We know it's right and nobody else knows it" - is causing a great resistance within those people they serve. They feel that they have the almighty power and they can do that.

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No wonder at the SkyDome the other day when the students were there and they were introducing the Premier their reaction was spontaneous. Immediately they felt, "Here is an individual, here is a government that we don't want to hear from now." We were celebrating an individual talking about peace and freedom, and here was an individual who is forcing and using a bullying approach to our education. I wasn't too happy of course that the Premier of my province was booed in that manner, but you know what? The honesty was what I had to step back and say, "There is something there." There is some great concern by the students here that their education has been taken over by some individuals who are not consulting them, who are not listening to them, and they feel, "We shall express it in this way."

Of course, here is the other attitude of the Premier. He then remarked immediately that it was the teachers who put them up to it. Now I put it to you, teachers have not seen these students for months because they're on strike, and in a few seconds they put 40,000 students up to it to boo the Premier. Tell me something, is that not creating an atmosphere where the students are going to return to school with the teachers and feel that you are the one who - first, you are insulting the intelligence of those students who have analyzed the situation and said, "We want some part of education, a contribution in which we can tell you how we are to be educated." The teachers want some part.

We don't want a crisis like my good friend the former Minister of Education, who created this crisis. You see, what happened, it's a business to those individuals, the Conservatives over there. I know you understand that, Mr Speaker. Education now becomes a business, as a profit in some respect or privatization in some respect. It has nothing to do with education as far as the Conservative Party is concerned. No concern at all. The bottom line, they want to privatize everything that moves. No wonder they brought in a minister of privatization. "If it moves or talks, we privatize it."

The fact of the matter is that, as one said, politics is about people, involving the people that you govern, not in a bullying, dictatorial "I know it all" attitude. No, not at all. It's about consultation, not rushing. Every bill that they had, they had the time to have this discussion in a longer time. Even when my leader, Dalton McGuinty, asked that Parliament be called back early to deal with these matters, they openly and bluntly refused, but on coming back want to rush things through without any debate. Furthermore, even with the understanding that all parties wanted the teachers back, they were attaching all sorts of things to it, sneakingly doing all this and thinking that the people don't understand that. They do understand that.

The Minister of Agriculture shakes his head in understanding that yes, they do. Because the fact is, later on, you'll be accountable for all of these undemocratic ways in which you carry your process out. I understand too that you would like to meet very late at nights now to rush things through. The people understand that. It must take some time for one to understand legislation and not be rushing it in the way that you are doing it.

I appeal to you all to look at the instructional time and the classroom time that you are trying to do, to measure the fact that librarians, guidance counsellors and some of those replacement teachers within the system are to be considered as part of instruction, as part of education, and the extracurricular activities that are done are an integral part of education, of how we bring our young people up. As a matter of fact, the contribution and the opportunities that are afforded to those students who later on have gotten scholarships of up to $40,000 a year in areas that this government and all of Canada does not offer, why would you deny that type of education? It's beyond me. It is beyond the students. It is beyond comprehension. The fact is, you have an opportunity right now to amend that bill to reflect all those ingredients that I have mentioned.

The Acting Speaker: Comments and questions?

Mr Wildman: I would like to compliment the member for Scarborough North for his remarks. I certainly agree with his view that the government is playing politics with this whole process and is not as committed as they should be to a truly democratic process in this approach.

I must say that in bringing forward this bill and agreeing at least to sever it from the other bill, it does give us a greater opportunity to debate it. What is alarming, though, is that it's becoming a dialogue of the deaf. The other side doesn't listen to what we have to say. They don't understand what we have to say. They are completely oblivious to the fact that we aren't talking about 25 minutes more teaching time per day; we're talking about 25 more students per teacher per day. That's what it means. It means less time for teachers to spend with students, not more, because they have more students per teacher.

The government won't hear. They refuse to listen and to understand what they're doing. They just want to completely reform the system because their main aim is to take money out of the system - a billion dollars a year out of the system - not to improve the amount of money spent in the classroom. The only way they can do that in a system like this, where most of the funding goes towards paying salaries, is to reduce the number of teachers, and that's what this bill is about.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The member for Scarborough North has referred to a couple of issues. One was extracurricular activity after school and perhaps at lunchtime, those sorts of things, for sporting activities. The unions have indicated, unfortunately, that they're not going to provide that, at least in the immediate future. I hope they reconsider that because teachers have spent hours and hours and hours on these matters and need to be commended for the work they have done in assisting generations of young people over the years on those very matters. I hope they reconsider and proceed to continue with that worthwhile community activity they've been involved in.

The other issue he spent some time with was the topic of the 25 minutes, the extra instructional time. Anyone who has been involved in school boards in the past recalls how that happened. That was negotiated. One of the questions we asked was, "Why do secondary school teachers need more time than any other teachers across the country?" Hence that raises the topic of Bill 63. That was negotiated. Why? Because there was no more money. That extra 25 minutes or half-hour was negotiated simply for that reason. The teachers were asking for more money, the boards were saying there was no money, and that's how this extra time was created, more time than in any other part of the country.

Bill 63 doesn't deal with any of those matters, absolutely none of them. Bill 63 is simply to clarify the provision of instruction - the word is "instruction" - in a secondary school. I'm sure it's been read. I haven't been present for all of the debate, but it is quite clear. It is very specific as to what instructional time means. During the illegal strike last year that question was raised by the teachers: "What's instructional time?" This bill tells us what it is.

Mr Miclash: I would like to compliment my colleague the member for Scarborough North on the comments he made. A good number of the comments he made certainly touched home with me, as a former educator of 10 years in the classroom and counselling. I have to agree with him that there were a great number of students 11 years ago when I was in the classroom who wouldn't receive the education today that they were once offered.

He talked about the importance of extracurricular activities. I indicated to a high school teacher only last Monday that I'm certainly looking forward to taking a look at the number of students they're going to retain up until Christmas, because it's a very important time. When you get students back into the classroom, especially at the secondary school level, sometimes it's difficult to retain some of those students unless you have a little bit of a carrot. I've seen it happen many, many times where a student is brought into the school - the carrot may be something like basketball, football, whatever activity; it could be the yearbook, student council. Yes, you offer that to them, yet you're offering them the education that goes along with it. It can be very interesting when we take a look at those stats as we get closer to that very important time.

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He talked about guidance, guidance in terms of students attending and the very important things that guidance does for the student in the classroom. I cannot agree with him more. I believe that this government is out of touch with what is being offered to students in the classroom. They seem to think that every student is the same, can learn out of a book, the teacher stands in front of the classroom and it's all over. It's not that way.

I'm appalled to hear members suggesting that everything is rosy in our school system. They obviously haven't been to their local schools, because it's just not that way. I think the member for Scarborough North has pointed that out in many, many areas.

Mr Martin: I just wanted to commend the member for Scarborough North for the very excellent remarks he made here this afternoon with regard to this bill, particularly the comments he made to clarify the issue of the very valuable contribution that teachers make to our system and the effort and the energy they put into making sure our schools are and continue to be the best they can be.

The product we produce in our schools today is at the top of any group of graduates. No matter where you look, whether it's in Canada, in Europe or across the world today, our students play second fiddle to no one. That's I think a direct result of the dedication and commitment of the teachers who work in that system. It's really unfortunate that this government has taken the tack to move our education system into a more market-driven reality, to attack the teachers, to diminish the contribution and the role of teachers.

On the whole question of the contribution of teachers by way of the extracurricular activities they're involved in, you would also think, to listen to this government, that was something that was negotiated over a number of years and teachers now get paid for that. Actually, the opposite is true. That is a contribution that teachers over the years decided they would make freely and voluntarily on their own. They saw the need to be involved in the lives of their students after school, to help with the sporting programs, because they saw the contribution that athletics and sports made to the all-round development of students in a community. The contribution they make to work in the environment, to work in social service areas, to work in helping students understand the politics of a community is all extracurricular. It's all above and beyond, and teachers need to be commended for that, not beaten up for it.

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough North for two minutes.

Mr Curling: I want to thank the members for Algoma, Dufferin-Peel, Kenora and Sault Ste Marie for their comments.

Underpinning what I just said is the fact that here's a government that had gone into improving education, and the first announcement was a $400-million cut from the education system, but they were successful in cutting $553 million, just taken out of education. Each day they brag about how much they're putting back into education and they keep cutting.

Here is an education system that was being assaulted by the social contract because money was taken out. It was promised to be put back in but never was put back in, therefore they were attacked again by more money taken out of it. So the education system has been subjected to many attacks, but the most brutal attack whatsoever is the non-communicative way in which this government has proceeded in making legislation without much consultation. The rapid way of ramming things through has caused confusion itself, and I think it does not hold us to really feeling that changes are for the better. One becomes very suspicious when one does things like that, and suspicion brings about fear. As a matter of fact, remarks and comments about teachers that are made daily by the Premier and by the Minister of Education do not really add a good atmosphere.

I just want to encourage the individuals out there, the guidance counsellors, the librarians and teachers, in the excellent work that they are doing. I personally want to go on record commending them for the fabulous job they're doing. The Liberal Party will continue to support that.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Martin: I appreciate the opportunity tonight to go on the record as saying that what this government is doing in this instance, as in so many instances in no matter what facet of government delivery of services or activity in this province, is taking us down a road that is absolutely wrong and that is antithetical to all that we who love this province, who have worked hard in so many ways to build this province in our communities and in our neighbourhoods, have tried to do over the last number of years. There are members who served in this place who are probably turning in their graves today as they look back and realize where this government is taking us.

Today we're talking about education. What is this bill about? That's the question we all need to ask and that we should all be focusing on. It's a very feeble and simplistic and wrong-headed attempt to solve a problem that this government has created in the education system. We know that from day one this government set out to create a crisis, to break the system, to tear it down, to destroy it, to affect it in a way that would cause all of us to become more anxious and nervous and worried about just exactly where it was going so that they could then remake it in their own image. Their image is one that is driven by a market approach to everything, a bottom line to everything, a system of education that would see fewer and fewer of our students actually getting the full advantage of the tremendous resource that now exists in our education system and that will be there less and less for those who need it as we move into the future.

We see this government taking the education system in a way that will see more and more students who have found themselves able to take advantage and recognize the value they have, the contribution they can make in ever more exciting and creative ways so that they might maximize the potential they have to contribute to the communities in which they live and the society to which they will belong in a meaningful and fulfilling way - we have over a number of years found ways in our education system, sometimes miraculously, to respond to challenges that society throws our way as it evolves, to deal with students who come to an understanding of the challenges they face, whether it be learning disabilities or social situations that aren't encouraging them to participate fully in the school system or the so many other ways that students find themselves being challenged today, to respond in a creative, flexible, encouraging way and to bring to the situation those teachers who were always willing to participate, to be trained, to go the distance, whether it was after school or weekends, to learn new skills to respond to all of these challenges.

That won't be the school system we will have in place five or 10 years down the road if we allow this government to have its way in the way that it has over the last three years since they were given the authority to be the government in this province. This government is one to take us down a road that is absolutely wrong and not in keeping with those traditions we've all come to appreciate and support in so many ways in Ontario.

It's a very feeble attempt at this point in time, with teachers out there, the people who see at first hand and most immediately and directly the initial fallout of the new program that's coming at them. They are out there saying to school boards and saying to the government of Ontario that what they feel, what they see, what they're sensing in the schools they teach in and in the communities they live in is fundamentally wrong, is fundamentally flawed, is not going to get us to the place that collectively we want to be.

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With the vehicles that they have at their disposal, unfortunately, in the system that we're in, very limited, with the government that we have in front of us, with the lack of opportunity for discussion and consultation, their only option is to strike, is to work to rule, is to hold back the contribution in a minimal way that they normally make to the everyday life of the school they're in and the students they teach.

This government, as is its way, brings in the big hammer, brings in back-to-work legislation. I'm not saying here for a minute this afternoon that I'm happy when students aren't in school, when students aren't able to participate in the way that all of us have, I'm sure, over many years participated in the schools we attended, whether it was in the classroom, whether it was in some club we belonged to or whether it was in some after-school activity, sporting activity perhaps. All of it was very good, all of it driven and led and motivated by the very excellent teachers that we have in the system, all of it organized by school boards and administrations that were and have been put in place and that are now being torn apart, diminished, and their contribution not valued or recognized in the way it should be, so that this government can take that system and make it more productive for the marketplace out there that actually needs fewer of our students, in fact needs only those who are the most bright to participate. Everybody else is dispensable. They're trying to do that in a way that becomes very much, as I look at it over the last two or three years and watch it evolve, a smoke-and-mirrors exercise.

That's one part of what's happening here today. That's one part of what this piece of legislation is about. The other is that it's very much a strategy for re-election. This government knows it can't do anything unless it continues to be the government. This government knows, after four or five years in government, they have no choice but to go back to the people for another mandate. They know, if the people of Ontario cast a vote that is negative on their performance, on their record, they will no longer be able to continue down the road of changing systems in the very dramatic and negative way that they have been. So this is also part of a strategy for re-election.

I know myself, as I watched the battle build and then take place between the government and the teachers, that for me it felt very uncomfortably similar to the battle that was created, the rift that was created, the misinformation that was put out there during the last provincial election where the poor were targeted very directly by this government as the cause of all the problems we face in this province.

Those of us who know differently, those of us who are community workers, who live in communities, who work in communities, who are committed to working with people to make sure that they're able to participate in a fulsome way in their home towns, know they are not in any way, even in any small way, the cause of the difficulties we face in the 1990s in Ontario and in Canada today. As a matter of fact, they are a product of the system that we find ourselves in.

We have a system in place in Ontario and in Canada today that takes for granted that there's going to be somewhere around 10% of the population always unemployed. To suggest for a minute that those people, unemployed because the system dictates so, are the cause of the social ills that we confront is wrong, and to suggest for a second that now, as we move to another election, as we move to a second shot for this government at being in power, the unions within which now the teachers fit are, as well as the poor, the cause of the problems that we face together, the cause of any of the difficulties that the economy is facing at this particular time in their history, is wrong.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): Point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe there is no quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would you check and see if there's a quorum present.

Clerk at the Table (Mr Todd Decker): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.

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

The Acting Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: I appreciate that people will be back in the House here listening to what I have to say, because I think it's really important, particularly that the government members begin to understand, that we understand, that the people out there are understanding of what's going on and that they will pay a price for the tactics they are using for their own very personal and selfish end, which is to get re-elected so they can continue to impose the market-driven agenda that we've seen so clearly and that has been so devastating to our health care system, to our education system and to our communities.

Today we're talking about the education system and we're talking about a bill that will force teachers back to work, which I think a whole lot of us don't have any real difficulty with, except that it's a very feeble attempt at resolving a problem that is much bigger than simply having our schools open and students going back at this particular time.

I was saying before I sat down and we had a quorum call that one of the tactics this government is using in its re-election strategy is to focus on unions and teachers as a union group in particular in this instance and to set them up as a straw person to run against come an election, in the same way as they set the poor up in the last election. They will take the poor in this election plus the unions, blame everything that is challenging in our society today on them and hope that people will buy that by way of the tremendously expensive public relations machine that they now have in motion out there, as we listen to the radio and watch TV and hear the Premier and others tell us how wonderful everything is and how wonderful everything they have done is for us, except that we know, those of us who are back in our communities, those of us who are living in the streets of this province, that in fact it's not all that wonderful.

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This government has chosen to beat up on teachers. Anybody who is fair-minded or who remembers their own education system will know that that's patently unfair and wrong, because teachers, more than or as much as any professional group out there today, give of themselves day in and day out, above and beyond the call of duty, to make sure their students have everything they need to reach their potential. You'd think, to listen to the government, that teachers coaching sports programs, teachers running clubs, teachers hanging around the playground at lunchtime and after school to make sure that they are safe places and that kids are enjoying themselves and are getting home on time, teachers taking time out to take kids on school trips and so many other ways that teachers give of themselves above and beyond what they do in the classroom is somehow something they get paid to do, something that is within their contract that they must do, not recognizing for a second that this is something that they, over a number of years, found was consistent with the role of teacher in school and something they did freely and actually enjoyed doing, and in many instances prepared themselves in special ways by taking extra courses, by going back to school in the summertime, by going to meetings with people of like mind so that they might become better at those activities that they are responsible for that are above and beyond what they do in the classroom.

I'm sure any one of you here would have two or three or four or a dozen examples of teachers in your own life, in the lives of your children, who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that the students in their school or their community have what we now so often take for granted and don't appreciate.

I remember being in Sudbury one weekend last winter, 300 kilometres away from Sault Ste Marie at a curling bonspiel. My daughter was curling. I recognized that there were two teachers there whom I knew, friends of mine. I asked them what they were doing there and they said they were coaching. There was a group of maybe four students who were on the school curling team who had chosen to go and be in this bonspiel in Sudbury and they were there with them. They took time out of their schedules, away from their families, away from their personal life so that they could be in Sudbury for that weekend supervising those young people in the hotel that they were staying in, making sure that they had good meals and coaching them as they curled in this bonspiel.

Not only that, but I noticed that while the students were not curling or there was some free time when these teachers could have been doing something that would be to their own pleasure, they weren't. I went over at one point to one of them who was sitting at a table, obviously very busy, and I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "I'm marking exams." There was another one there and she was preparing a class for the coming Monday because she wasn't going to be able to be at home to do that.

So for this government to suggest for even a nanosecond that all teachers do is teach six or seven or eight classes or teach from 9 o'clock until 3:30 every day is to not understand the job and the role and the contribution of teachers, particularly in the system as it exists today. Those two teachers are not out of the ordinary. Those two teachers that I ran into in Sudbury, who were not only coaching and looking after and being responsible for those four students, were doing work to prepare themselves so that they would be ready for the class they would teach when they got back to Sault Ste Marie on Monday morning.

Another group of teachers in Sault Ste Marie took upon themselves - nothing that the teachers' federation negotiated in their contract, nothing that the school board came and said, "You have to do this," or even "Would you do this?" - something that they saw would be in the interest of the community, actually in the interest of the world we live in, the community that we live in, and some of the students in their school. They took on an environmental project that saw them take responsibility for a small part of Lake Superior, to teach the kids the connection between all of the ecosystems along the shore of Lake Superior so that these students would be more knowledgeable, more understanding of how important it is to look after the environment in which we live, and to actually do some very concrete work to protect that piece of shoreline so that it might be there for all of us to enjoy and to contribute in such a positive way to the whole environment, which we're all so dependent on for our livelihood. This is a group of teachers in a high school in Sault Ste Marie, at White Pines.

Mr Wildman: Internationally recognized.

Mr Martin: Internationally recognized for the work they do in that school and in our community.

I had my own daughter come home on Monday of this week and ask me what I was doing to look after and protect the environment. She challenged me very directly, as a member of Parliament, and said: "What are you doing, Dad? What is the government doing to protect the environment? What about that greenhouse effect? What about that global warming stuff?" My daughter is in grade 6 and she was asking me about that because her teacher was teaching that particular piece of work at that particular time. I know from my experience with that teacher in past years that the teaching that goes on about the environment in that class doesn't end there, that there will be class trips to see various and different things. That's what teachers do.

To suggest for a minute that somehow that's not enough or that's not contributing in a very important and valuable way to the growth of our young people is part of the strategy of this government as they set up unions, and in this instance teachers, to be the scapegoat, to be the target, as they move into the next election. I think that is rather short-sighted and it will not serve any of us well in the years to come. This government is taking a problem that they've created and they're trying to resolve it by bringing in this piece of legislation which simply asks teachers to go back to work.

The Acting Speaker: The member's time has expired. Comments and questions?

Mr Froese: I'd like to comment on the comments made by the member for Sault Ste Marie. I would agree with the member that teachers are valuable and hard-working and they have the interests of students in common. But I don't agree with him when he says this bill is a strategy for re-election. I don't understand where he's coming from on that.

The bill is very simple. It's about writing the meaning of "instructional time." Instructional time was debated last year at length. There was an extensive discussion at that time about teaching time. At that time - and it's the same as this time, I guess - the government didn't really feel there was a need to define instructional time. As it's commonly understood, it means the time spent in the classroom teaching children. Unfortunately, as we have seen, unions have tried to skew the meaning of "instruction," because their goal is to protect the teachers, to get them the best deal. That's understood, but that contradicts the spirit of the law that was passed last year. Cafeteria supervision, as we all know, is not instructional time; neither is hall monitoring. We know that instructional time is teaching in a class. That's what the bill does.

There's no doubt that our teachers are valuable. There's no doubt they work hard and they deserve the credit for where our children are in education. But we need to -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Kenora.

Mr Miclash: I'd just like to compliment the member for Sault Ste Marie on the comments he made here in the House. There are very few speakers, except of course speakers from the government side, who get up and don't refer to a crisis in education. As the member for Sault Ste Marie was saying, this is truly a bottom-line government.

I was indicating earlier in the House that, if I were a teacher in the system, I think I would find it very difficult to work under the circumstances that have been created by this government, those that were pointed out by the member for Sault Ste Marie. You're in a classroom, you have a great number of students in front of you, you are working the full four periods a day, the full load, and you're worried about the crisis being created in education, whether it's by the former minister or the minister we're dealing with now.

I think the member for Sault Ste Marie points out very well the fact that this is a government that just doesn't seem to understand what's going on out there, the frustration I referred to earlier. They don't seem to understand that the teachers, the students, the administrators, the board members are all saying they just don't feel that they're getting the ear of this government. They're not being listened to.

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He goes on to talk about how various teachers have had a great influence on the lives of young people. Again, I refer to the attendance of students, what it will be come December, whether we will see a great difference come December, and whether those people actually did make a difference, those teachers who don't have the time, as he indicated, to do the coaching, those teachers who don't have the time to go out there for outdoor ed, supervise yearbook activities, whatever. But I think it's certainly going to make a great difference to those folks we retain in the educational system.

I commend the member for Sault Ste Marie on some of the many great points that he has brought forward here today.

Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate my friend from Sault Ste Marie on his remarks and his understanding of the importance of teachers, the difficulty that teachers now face and the particular problems we face in the education system because of the decline in morale because this government has denigrated teachers and continually attacked teachers.

Now we have the member for St Catharines-Brock, for instance, getting up and saying the government believes that teachers are valuable. This is after denigrating them for the last two and a half years.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Come on.

Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): Come on.

Mr Wildman: I wish members on the other side of the House would watch a movie called Mr Holland's Opus and understand the importance of extracurricular activities and the kind of work that teachers do and the good impression they can make upon students. The problem with that movie, unfortunately, is that in that case the state government's funding has been cut, so they are no longer going to have a music program. At the end they do have the concert and everyone's happy, but they're forgetting the fact that the next year in that school there's not going to be any music program.

That's what's happened with education in this province because this government is micromanaging. They say the teachers are valuable but what they really mean is that teachers are disposable, because what this is about is ensuring there are fewer teachers in the system and it's also going to ensure that there isn't going to be that music program, there isn't going to be the White Pines program on Lake Superior, there isn't going to be the work being done in the science club, there isn't going to be the work being done in the environment club, there isn't going to be football, there isn't going to be hockey, there isn't going to be sports. Kids are going to be shortchanged on the education they receive, the educational experience they receive. They won't have the benefit that every one of us in this place had when we went to elementary and secondary education.

Mr O'Toole: I'm drawn into the response by the member for Algoma, the education critic for the NDP, and respectfully I must acknowledge the member for Sault Ste Marie. But the Opus movie that you referred to -

Mr Wildman: Mr Holland's Opus.

Mr O'Toole: Yes, I've seen the movie. I know the impact that teachers have on students and I think the more contact we have between students and teachers, meaningful contact, is really what defining the instructional time is about. Respectfully, what we're doing is moving from three hours and 45 minutes to four hours and 10 minutes, an addition of 25 minutes. Everyone today is being expected to do more. But it's more contact with students that the government's putting in place - very, very important.

I want to be on the record as supportive of teachers. More specifically, I've spoken to hundreds of teachers in Durham, literally hundreds of teachers. They've made me aware of programs such as their particularly meaningful program called on-call time, where teachers have used at local agreement their prep time as on-call time. So they are entitled to it. I could argue that there's a portion here of this where the government is looking at this TAG, teacher advisory group. That's another point where I believe there is space for the ministry to look at this as instructional time. The argument could be made that anything that's meaningful student-teacher contact, this government's not opposed to that.

What we're trying to define is there's a requirement for instructional time. There's a requirement in this bill for four hours and 10 minutes of credit time. Most people today work eight hours. In that eight hours I think there are four hours and 10 minutes of instructional and I think there are four hours of time for the sports. Keep the student in mind. Their extracurricular activities are very important contact that I don't think teachers should deny the students and I don't think -

The Speaker: Thank you, member for Durham East. Response, member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Martin: I want to thank the honourable members for responding to my comments. I've obviously touched a nerve on the government side and have got some support for my thoughts from my colleagues on this side of the House.

This is very much a "get re-elected" strategy by this government. It's setting the teachers up as members of unions, demonizing them by a misinformation propaganda machine and then blaming them for everything so that you can then say, "We need another term to fix what the teachers have broken," when in fact you're the ones who have broken it.

The misinformation you're putting out there: You talk about - what is it, 22 and 24? Is that the maximum or average class size you say is happening? My own daughter in grade 6 is in a class of 35 students. Where is the 22? This is an elementary school student, with 35 students in her class.

Mr Wildman: Twenty-five.

Mr Martin: Pardon? Twenty-five in elementary? Well, she's in a class of 35. I talked to my daughter in high school after school today and said, "How many kids are in your class by average?" What's the high school average that this government says is going to be in school? Twenty-two students per class in secondary school -

Mr O'Toole: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Sault Ste Marie has made a couple of references which clarifies for me that he has not read the bill. He doesn't know the -

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. Sit down, member for Durham East.

Mr Martin: Thirty students. The other misinformation is this whole issue of the extra 25 minutes they're asking teachers to teach. If you look at that in its full context and understand how that impacts on a teacher's ability to prepare for classes and the actual number of students they get to teach, it's absolute -

The Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I welcome the opportunity to participate in the debate this afternoon. I'm a little disappointed, however, that we are required, in an effort to protect higher standards in education, to spend this time debating a bill about an issue where we all understand what the definition is. The whole need for the bill is questionable, but to protect the quality of education we need the bill.

I'm also speaking from the context of somebody who has two daughters who are teachers, somebody who has three grandchildren in the system, all of whom, by the way, are in class sizes that are lower than they were last year, who has a sister and her husband who are teachers and who used to be a teacher myself. So I have some idea of what is involved in the education system.

The first thing I want to do is compliment the elementary school teachers of Chatham-Kent. Those involved in the public school system in Chatham-Kent were the first board to settle under the terms of Bill 160. They settled their contract. The separate school teachers have also settled their contract. So at the elementary school level in Chatham-Kent we don't have any rotating strikes, we don't have any lockouts and we don't have any work-to-rule. We have a large group of very dedicated teachers working with a new core curriculum, working with brand new textbooks, working in the best interests to meet higher standards for the kids in Chatham-Kent. My hat's off to the elementary school teachers in Chatham-Kent.

Now we get to the secondary school teachers. It's interesting that while we have harmony at the elementary school level, at the secondary school level, with both boards, we have rotating strikes and work-to-rule. It begs the question of what effect this has on our students.

It came home most to me last weekend, which in Chatham-Kent is a traditional Red Feather weekend. It's the kickoff to the United Way campaign. The Red Feather weekend has about a 45-year tradition in our community. It's a weekend that revolves around our high school students. It involves a parade, it involves football games, it involves broomball, cheerleading competitions, a whole array of competitive games hosted by the young people, under their school banners, to promote the good of the United Way.

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This year those same students who want to go out and raise money for the United Way, who want to celebrate their schools, were not allowed to fly their school banners during that whole weekend. As a result of the work interruptions generated by the secondary school teachers and the actions of the board, those students were not allowed to go out and participate in the red feather activities on behalf of the United Way.

We have no high school sports. The parents volunteered, "Let us come into the school and let us help out with those sports." They're not allowed to do that. The question the parents have asked me is: "Who owns these schools anyway? Who owns these schools, that we as the parents and the taxpayers are not allowed to come in and use the school to help our kids?" Parents are calling me up and they're asking me, "Am I going to get a rebate on my taxes as a result of this time the teachers are not teaching?" You know what's happening? We have Mr Manners and Mr Jarvis calling the shots in Chatham-Kent. They don't even know our kids, they don't even know our students, but they're calling the shots.

School boards are complaining that they don't have enough money. The big complaint I hear is, "We can't raise taxes any more." They seem to forget that that's the issue. That's why we're going about the change, because for the last several years they raised taxes indiscriminately at the same time as the quality of our education and the standards were deteriorating. That's the problem. That's what we're trying to solve here. We're trying to create a system that is affordable and provides much better quality education for our children. That's what we're trying to do.

School boards in my riding, as in most ridings across the province, have more money to spend in the classroom. There's nothing in education that is more important than what happens in the classroom. Most people will be aware of the fact that the separate school board in Chatham-Kent made a deal with the secondary school teachers. What they did in that deal is that they agreed to raise average class size up to 24 so that they could reduce instruction time below what was required in Bill 160. They figured, I guess, on the old adage that two wrongs make a right: "We'll break two rules. We'll raise class size above the average so we can have instruction time below the required level."

It's interesting. When this debate was happening last November I can remember Mr Jarvis and Mr Manners pooh-poohing the idea that we were going to legislate average class size. They pooh-poohed that and said it didn't make any difference. Now of course what they would like to do is negotiate away that legislated average class size.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, why are our secondary school teachers in Chatham-Kent and basically in many areas of the province continuing to victimize our students? It's over the issue of instruction time. I'm not going to dwell a long time on the things we've heard, that it's only 25 more minutes a day or that we're still lower than seven other provinces. Even at the .4.1 hours, the four hours and 10 minutes, we're still lower than seven other provinces in the country, and in those seven other provinces those secondary school teachers have a full array of extracurriculars. I'm not going to dwell on the fact that at 4.1 hours it's still well below the average in the country of 4.5 hours. I won't dwell on the fact that the elementary school teachers have and continue to operate at 4.2 hours. I won't dwell on those issues.

But what I would like to talk about is other professions. I'd like to zero in on nurses. We all understand that the nurses of our province have been called upon to respond to some challenges in the last few years. I've got some statistics here that tell us roughly what nurses get paid. I think it's a fairly valid comparison. Nurses work, especially in a hospital environment, in a high-pressure environment where they're dealing with life-and-death issues. Not always do they get the thanks they deserve, but they continue to plod on and do the best they can, sometimes under difficult circumstances. We certainly have asked them to participate in restructuring. In my own community of Chatham-Kent, we're in the process of refining two hospitals from two campuses on to one campus.

It has been difficult for front-line nurses. Front-line nurses working in a hospital environment get paid roughly between $35,000 and $55,000. Secondary school teachers, on the other hand, have average incomes somewhere between $30,000 and $65,000. If we look at the time requirements, those nurses' salaries are based on 1,950 hours a year. Let's say a nurse is working 1,950 hours a year, a comparable kind of pressure job to a teacher. Let's take a teacher working 1,950 hours a year. We all know that Bill 160 mandates 190 days of a school year. By golly, 190 days of a school year at 10 hours a day is 1,900.

Mr Martin: This is more of the bullshit.

The Speaker: Oh, man, that's out of order.

Mr Martin: I withdraw, but honest to God -

The Speaker: I want a straight withdrawal on that.

Mr Martin: A straight withdrawal.

Mr Carroll: If we look at a comparison here, and certainly the members of the third party are big people at comparing one job to another job, I think a nurse-teacher comparison is a valid comparison. Let's say we'd like our teachers to work 1,900 hours a year, relatively the same number as our nurses work. They'd be doing it for less money, but let's ask them to work that number. Based on 190 days, that's 10 hours a day. If we're going to have 4.1 hours in the classroom, that leaves us almost six hours for preparation time and for extracurricular activities. Maybe we need to look at the school day for teachers being from 7 in the morning until 8 at night. Maybe that's what we need to look at.

Mr Wildman: Are you suggesting that? Are you proposing that?

Mr Carroll: Well, if we're going to talk a comparable number of hours, 1,950 hours for nurses, I think 1,900 hours for a teacher is fine. It's an interesting comparison.

Another group you might want to compare to is police officers. We all know the wonderful job our police officers do in keeping our communities safe. Police officers are in the same kind of ballpark for average incomes. They work 1,900 hours a year. So I don't know, I just think, if we look at yearly employment, rather than on a day-by-day basis, and the yearly requirement, maybe we need to put the school year in context, put the 4.1 hours that we're asking our secondary school teachers to be in the classroom in a context compared to other professions.

I know down my way we've taken five police forces and put them all together in one police force. That has been a difficult process for all those police officers involved. But you know, they've embraced the change, they've co-operated, they've gone through the change and they've gotten us to a better place. The nurses and our hospitals all across the province have been asked to participate in reorganization and restructuring because they understand that there is a better way to do what we do. They've participated and co-operated and helped us to get to a new place.

What we're asking the teachers to do - and in my case the elementary teachers have already done it, but what we're asking those secondary school teachers to do - is to help us be part of the solution here, help us to get to a higher standard of education on behalf of the young people of our province.

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We have really good teachers. As a matter of fact, most teachers are really good. Their job is a tough job. It's especially tough in the environment in which we live of a lack of personal discipline, some of which is beyond our control. I don't say the teachers don't have a tough job. I don't say they don't work hard. But you know, everybody is working hard today. Young people working in industry are working hard. Nurses are working hard. Policemen are working hard. Everybody is working hard today. It's a condition of the world we live in. We can't run away from that. We can't absolve one particular part of our society from the requirement to work hard. Teachers do work hard. That is great, that is fine, we recognize that, but then most of us in our world are working hard.

Mr Martin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't think we have a quorum.

The Speaker: Would you please check to see if we have a quorum.

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

The Speaker ordered the bells rung.

Clerk Assistant: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Speaker: The member for Chatham-Kent.

Mr Carroll: To sum up, I believe that the secondary school teachers in my riding of Chatham-Kent really do want to get back to work and get on with the job of providing quality education. We talk a lot about people being held hostage. I for one think that part of the hostage situation here is the teachers in my area of Chatham-Kent being held hostage by Mr Manners and Mr Jarvis, and I think that is totally unacceptable. When I read in the paper that the OSSTF has ordered a series of rotating strikes, I say to myself, who's in charge? Why should Mr Manners be in charge? Who put Mr Manners in charge of everything around here?

Anyway, our education reforms, as all of us know, are about setting and achieving higher standards for our kids. The parents realize that, the kids realize that, and most of all the teachers realize that. The current situation we're involved in is a result of the fact that the unions refuse to acknowledge what in fact is the law and they refuse to put our kids first.

I offer those comments. As I said at the beginning, I appreciate the opportunity to speak, but I'm disappointed that we need to be here to define "instruction time" when we had the argument back in November about what it was. We all know what it is, and here we are required to introduce legislation. But if that's what it takes, we'll tie it down with legislation and we'll get on with the job of providing good quality education for the kids of our province.

The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): I appreciate the opportunity to give a few comments on those words spoken by the member for Chatham-Kent. He ended by saying he's disappointed that we're here. I guess we should remind him that the only reason we're here is because his government brought in Bill 160 a year ago that was such a mess that here we are, a year later, dealing with it. If he doesn't want to be here, all he should do is advise those who are drafting their legislation that they should do it better. We've had many cases of this. The member for Chatham-Kent will recall that we've debated six property tax bills because this government can't get it right. He shouldn't be surprised that we're here a year later trying to fix up a bill that they introduced in 1997.

The member for Chatham-Kent really, to me, doublespeaks. He gets up and rails about the secondary school teachers in his riding and then he says, "But most teachers are really good." He said they don't work hard and then he said: "I understand. They do work hard." You can't have it both ways. You either don't like those teachers in your riding or you do like those teachers in your riding.

One final thing when it comes to doublespeak: I can recall when the parents were getting together on the closure of the Romney school and the speaker from Chatham-Kent said, "I'll do what I can to help you keep it open." You know, it was his government, the result of his voting on bills and supporting his Ministry of Education that caused the school to close in the first place.

Mr Wildman: I understand the member for Chatham-Kent is going to introduce an amendment to the bill suggesting that the hours per day should be 10, as he indicated, and I'm looking forward to debating that amendment when it comes forward. I just wonder, though, if that's going to solve the problem. The point is this: The dispute at the secondary level is not about 25 more minutes per day; it's about 25 more students per teacher. That's the difference.

I have an example of this. In the Sault Star, September 21, a teacher wrote and pointed out that in that particular situation the teachers there suggested extending the school day, extending the period so they could make up the number of minutes that this bill says they should be instructing, but they would be teaching the same number of students, not more students. She says, "Mr Harris rejected the teachers' proposal to extend the high school day to accommodate more time for the same number of students, and the reason is clear: Mr Harris wants to reduce the number of teachers." Then she goes on to say, "Having teachers instruct an additional class within the current teaching day not only reduces the number of teachers but reduces teacher effectiveness."

That's the point. They're going to have to teach 25 more students each, another class each. It isn't going to mean more time for individual students with teachers. It's going to mean less time because each teacher is going to have a total number of students that is greater. That's what it means. That's what this bill is about. It's not about time so much as ensuring that there are fewer teachers teaching more students, and that does not improve the quality of education for those students and that's what the dispute is about. Teachers are trying to defend the quality of education for students.

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I'm pleased to rise to reflect on the comments of my colleague the member for Chatham-Kent who, listening attentively to his speech, I think hit the issue right on the nose. The debate that has been revealed through Bill 160 and the strikes and the debates in the chamber these last few days is strictly about, from the union perspective and from the opposition, working conditions.

Jack pointed out that yes, we are asking the secondary school teachers to do teaching in the classroom, instructional time, of approximately 1,250 minutes per week, which is still less than, according to the member for Chatham-Kent - I believe his facts are right - or equal to seven other provinces, and even with that increase in some teaching time, still less than what elementary school teachers do on a regular basis and have been doing for some time.

Talking to some of the teachers in my riding and friends and acquaintances and just out and about in the community, I think the elementary school teachers in Niagara have caught on to what the debate is truly about. It's the amount of teaching time we're asking secondary school teachers to contribute. If you look in Niagara, both the boards had increases in classroom funding. Both of the elementary grids have settled with increases. I know it's been six or seven years, through those long NDP years, that they didn't have an increase in their wages, and now both Niagara elementary and Niagara Catholic elementary have had raises. In fact, both boards have hired more elementary school teachers, 100 in the Niagara Catholic board, have new textbooks coming into the schools and a new, strict, back-to-the-basics, raise-the-standards curriculum that is very popular among the teachers. I think the elementary school teachers know what this is all about. It's about secondary school teaching time.

On the subject of extracurricular, I know that many secondary school teachers are intimidated by their union from coaching. They want to coach but they've been told by their union leaders not to coach. I think that is very sad and it shows you what this debate is really about.

Mr Miclash: As has been referred to already, this was certainly a great amount of doubletalk that we heard here from the member for Chatham-Kent. At one time he's saying the teachers don't work hard enough, but yet he's telling us on the other hand we have good teachers in the system. It just goes back to a point I made earlier on, that a lot of these members in this government, especially the member for Chatham-Kent, don't seem to have been in touch with their local teachers in their local schools to listen to some of the concerns of their teachers because I think he would have come out with a little bit of a different attitude towards the job teachers are doing for us. He just doesn't seem to understand the school environment and what's happening in terms of education today and in terms of the environment we see in our schools.

I go back to the point that he must understand that, yes, we do need good teachers in there and, yes, we do have to support them as well. We don't have to have teachers going to the classroom every day wondering what crisis is going to be created by your government next. Again, I suggest that he may want to visit some of the schools to find out just how demoralized the teaching staff are.

What it's done to the students - I mentioned a number of student comments earlier on this afternoon where students are suggesting that it's Mike Harris's fault that all of these things are happening.

Rather than listening to the member for Chatham-Kent saying that, yes, the teachers aren't working hard enough but yet they're good teachers, maybe he wants to get in there and speak to them directly and find out exactly what's happening in the schools in his region, what's happening in the schools throughout the province when it comes to students returning and what services they're getting today.

The Speaker: Response.

Mr Carroll: I appreciate the comments of the members for Essex South, Algoma, Niagara South and Kenora.

It's interesting that the members from the official opposition would make reference to doubletalk. If we have any masters of doubletalk in this place, it obviously is the members of the official opposition. They talk about wanting to get our children back into school and yet they just voted against legislation to get our kids back into school. So I'm not sure - but they did it quickly. We've got to give him credit, they did it quickly. So that's good.

To the member for Essex South, who made reference to the school in Romney, I would suggest that he make a little visit to the school in Wheatley, where 98 of the kids from Romney were transferred, and talk to the principal and talk to the parents. You find out just how well those kids and those parents are doing.

It's interesting; I had no reference made to the nurses and police officers. Obviously the opposition accepts the comparison of school teachers to nurses and police officers. On that basis, I rest my case.

The Speaker: It now being after 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 1804.