37th Parliament, 1st Session

L007A - Mon 1 Nov 1999 / Lun 1er nov 1999










































The House met at 1331.




Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): Last Monday my friend and constituent Anthony Peter Toldo of Tecumseh, Ontario, was awarded the Order of Ontario.

Mr Toldo owns manufacturing plants in three countries and employs more than 1,200 people.

Born in San Fiore province in Italy, Mr Toldo started a bathroom fittings company in Tilbury. In 1980, he turned entrepreneur again and formed Centoco Manufacturing Ltd in Tilbury near Windsor to make plastic plumbing fixtures. In 1985, he built a third plant in Windsor and moved all the bathroom fittings production to Tilbury to concentrate on making automotive steering wheels there. In 1988, he created the Toldo Group of companies, which manufacture a wide range of products, including fast-food restaurant furniture.

In 1997, Mr Toldo donated $1 million to the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre to purchase medical equipment and to help restore its building. In 1998, he gave $325,000 to the same centre for the treatment of prostate cancer and contributed $100,000 towards a building for the Italian senior citizens' centre of Windsor. In this year alone, Mr Toldo has donated more than $600,000 to Windsor area hospitals.

Mr Speaker, I know I speak on your behalf and on behalf of all Ontarians, particularly people who live in my community, in saying congratulations to Mr Toldo on the Order of Ontario and, more important, a very special thanks for his enormous generosity and contributions to our community.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Last week my community in Durham lost a very special individual. Mr John James, in his 89th year, passed away.

John James was well known to many in the community. He was the former publisher of one of our local newspapers, the Canadian Statesman, and a long-time reporter of many community events. Johnny, as he was fondly known, was also a Liberal member of Parliament from 1949 to 1957, but he will be best remembered for his passionate and generous support of the community of Bowmanville.

John James was born in Bowmanville in 1911. John's grandfather bought the Canadian Statesman in 1854. It was later taken over by his father and uncle, and Johnny himself assumed the reins in 1957. After 145 years of family ownership, the paper was sold earlier this year to Metroland Printing and Publishing Ltd.

Johnny James was a veteran of World War II, having served in the Midland regiment before transferring to the Directorate of Military Intelligence in Ottawa. He held many important responsibilities, rising to the rank of captain and being in charge of the security section in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Johnny James will be remembered for many of his community events. On a lighter note, he will also be remembered by many constituents for being present at almost every community event with his notebook and camera at his shoulder.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his family, especially his wife, Dorothy, who remains a strength in the community; their children, John and his wife Linda, Robert, Rick and his wife Kim; as well as to eight grandchildren. I would like Johnny's family to know that my thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time. John James truly helped make our community a better place to work.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): My comments are for the Minister of Education. Minister, you will know that special-needs students are being denied services they need to reach their full potential as a result of government freezing of the intensive support amount grant. Even the government apologist, the Education Improvement Commission, has been forced to admit that special-needs students have been "adversely affected" by the funding formula.

Ontario schools are short $100 million for special education services. In my riding of Essex, the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board estimates a shortfall of $2 million. The Greater Essex County District School Board will fall short by $2.5 million.

To quote the Greater Essex County District School Board special education advisory committee: "The community is struggling to find funding for adequate services for students requiring children's mental health facilities. Many students are returning to their community schools."

Simply put, in the words of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board superintendent of education, "There is no funding for students who register in the boards from provincial institutions or pre-school."

Last week, in answer to a question in this House brought by our education critic, you bragged about spending more money on special education per pupil but said nothing about the intensive support amount, which has been frozen.

Last Thursday, I spent an evening at Villanova high school in LaSalle. A forum on special education funding issues was held for parents and educators of children with special needs. I can tell you, Minister, these parents of kids in need of intensive support don't believe you and they don't trust you to deliver.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): I rise in the House today to recognize the efforts of Mrs Alice King Sculthorpe, a long-time resident of the town of Port Hope, and to congratulate her on receiving the Order of Ontario on October 25, 1999.

Since moving to Port Hope in 1949, Mrs Sculthorpe has played an important role in preserving the community's heritage buildings and landmarks. Her unmatched enthusiasm and persistence led to her position as director of the Capital Theatre Heritage Foundation, where she helped raise $1.5 million to convert the old movie house into a majestic theatre for live performances.

It is her tremendous passion for Port Hope's Walton Street heritage district that has made it one of Canada's best 19th century streetscapes. She has organized the restoration of Port Hope's historic railway station, served two separate terms as president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, and served on the local architectural conservation advisory committee. In the early 1990s, she personally helped to plant more than 200 trees in Port Hope as part of the Green Streets Canada program.

It is most assuredly the appreciation, the dedication and the love for her community that make Mrs Alice King Sculthorpe herself a part of Port Hope's history.


Mr Dave Levac (Brant): Last week, St Joseph's Hospital in Brantford received a letter from the assistant Deputy Minister of Health stating that the Health Services Restructuring Commission has recommended to the Minister of Health that closure option A be adopted with regard to restructuring in Brant county.

Option A, as described by your ministry, "involves interim transfer of some program activities to the Willett Hospital" in Paris, interim "transfer of some chronic patients ... to Brantford General Hospital prior to moving all programs to their final location at BGH."


Option B, preferred by St Joe's and all physician groups, simply requests no transfer of patients until the construction to house both services and provisions for patients is completed by the year 2001.

In addition, in this government's zeal to save money, the Minister of Health has not addressed a new proposal put forward by a joint submission of St Joseph's in Brantford and Hamilton and McMaster University, to create a partnership and have St Joseph's act as a teaching facility and maintain complex continuing care, rehabilitation and palliative care.

This proposal is providing the government with an opportunity to save millions of dollars on strained health care, save and solve the doctor shortage in our riding, and forge a new partnership between two leading-edge health practitioners.

I call on the Minister of Health to personally review the decision, as she promised, because of the hardship on my riding by possibly having to transfer services twice across the riding and to personally intervene into the facility to ensure that Brantford and Ontario are better served.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): This morning I attended a very important press conference put on by the Federation of Ontarian Naturalists, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition, the Uxbridge Conservation Association, the Kettle Lakes Coalition and Earthroots, assisted by the Sierra legal defence fund.

In all the controversy over the scandal that's erupted around this issue, we must not lose sight of the urgent need to protect this environmentally sensitive land. This group of conservationists met this morning with the press to tell them that they have a very practical plan which they put forward today to protect this sensitive area.

What they've called for today is tough land-use planning controls, a freeze on all public spending related to moraine development, directing part of the SuperBuild Growth Fund to park creation, and surcharges on proposed moraine developments.

This is nothing new. In 1994, the NDP government had declared a provincial interest in this land. There were consultations across the province dealing with these issues and a report was given to our government. It's been sitting and gathering dust by this government for the past five years.

Now the time has come for this government to act and to act immediately. The work has already been done.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): The Order of Ontario recognizes and honours those who have enriched the lives of others by obtaining the highest standards of excellence and achievement in their respective fields. Eileen McGregor of Peterborough is one of those individuals. She has been a pioneer in the community for more than 50 years.

In 1960, she was Peterborough's first female president of the Red Cross and Community Chest and, in 1985, the first female police commissioner.

Through her remarkable achievements, she has not only broken new ground for women but has also made tremendous contributions to education, one of which has been the creation of a bursary for single mothers returning to school to further their education at Sir Sandford Fleming college, where Eileen taught for many years.

While being involved in her community, Mrs McGregor and her husband raised four outstanding children, all of whom are involved heavily in their respective communities and in their chosen professions.

My personal congratulations to Stevie McGregor, as she is affectionately known. You're an example of commitment to all of us.


Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): Last week I stood in this House and renewed my demands for upgrades on Highway 401 between London and Windsor. Since then the highway of death has claimed three more victims.

I want to know exactly what the government is doing to the road. When I drove home I was horrified by some of your recent work. Loose gravel several inches deep has been laid on top of the steep, grassy median, extending several feet into the centre. This looks like a recipe for disaster. Anybody who drops off the pavement would immediately lose control in the soft gravel.

On Friday, according to witnesses, a car near Woodstock hit the gravel, lost control and literally flew through the median and killed two people travelling in the opposite direction.

Yesterday a young man was killed when his car went into the centre median and flipped.

A level paved shoulder on the inside and a centre barrier might have prevented these three deaths.

Moreover, I want to know why loose gravel is being spread into the centre median. There is no improvement, except a narrow, steep median is now more dangerous.

I have 500 safety petitions for Mike Harris, collected by the Chatham Daily News. The CAA has collected 8,000. I have received almost 5,000 from my safety questionnaire. They all call for centre barriers, extra lanes and fully paved, level shoulders on both sides. I repeat, how much public pressure will it take, how many more deaths, before the government listens?


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I rise today to talk about the problem of doctor distribution in Ontario.

The Mike Harris government has initiated a number of steps to encourage physicians to set up practice in underserviced areas. These include, but are not limited to, $36.4 million annually for alternate payment plans for groups of physicians setting up in underserviced areas; a physician job registry to help match underserviced communities seeking physicians with physicians who want to move to underserviced areas; incentives to doctors, including financial incentive grants ranging from $15,000 to $40,000 over four years, to encourage them to practise in underserviced areas; discounted fees for new physicians setting up practice in overserviced areas, to encourage these physicians to work in underserviced areas.

These solutions point out that the problem is one of distribution and not necessarily oversupply. In some areas of the province, their physician-to-patient ratio is 1:3,000; in others, it's 1:600.

Thanks to Blueprint and the member for Cambridge, we will now begin to pay tuition costs for graduating doctors who locate in underserviced areas. This should help, but it may only make a dent in the problem. If this is so, I would call on the Minister of Health to begin to attach geographic zones to all new billing numbers issued in the province. This would guarantee an end to the distribution problem in short order.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I have to be on my best behaviour. My sister-in-law Alice Sterling is here watching me.

I move that pursuant to standing order 9(c)(i), the House shall meet from 6:45 pm to 9:30 pm on November 1 and 2, 1999, for the purpose of considering government business.

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


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding private members' public business.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that notwithstanding order 96(g), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 1 and 2.

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


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I seek unanimous consent to move two motions without notice regarding committee organization and membership of the coming session.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that the membership of the standing committees for this Parliament be as follows:

On the standing committee on estimates: Gilles Bisson, Sean Conway, Alvin Curling, Gerard Kennedy, Frank Mazzilli, Toni Skarica, Gary Stewart, Wayne Wettlaufer;

On the standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Ted Arnott, Marcel Beaubien, David Christopherson, Doug Galt, Monte Kwinter, Tina Molinari, John O'Toole, Gerry Phillips;

On the standing committee on general government: Toby Barrett, Marie Bountrogianni, Ted Chudleigh, Garfield Dunlop, Dave Levac, Rosario Marchese, Julia Munro, Marilyn Mushinski;

On the standing committee on government agencies: Jim Bradley, Bruce Crozier, Bert Johnson, Morley Kells, Tony Martin, George Smitherman, Joe Spina, Bob Wood;

On the standing committee on justice and social policy: Marcel Beaubien, Michael Bryant, Carl DeFaria, Brenda Elliott, Garry Guzzo, Peter Kormos, Lyn McLeod, Joe Tascona;

On the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Marilyn Churley, Brad Clark, Pat Hoy, Jean-Marc Lalonde, Jerry Ouellette, Gary Stewart, Joe Tascona, Wayne Wettlaufer;

On the standing committee on public accounts: John Cleary, Brian Coburn, John Gerretsen, Shelley Martel, Bart Maves, Julia Munro, Marilyn Mushinski, Richard Patten;

On the standing committee on regulations and private bills: Gilles Bisson, Claudette Boyer, Garfield Dunlop, Raminder Gill, John Hastings, Frances Lankin, Tony Ruprecht and David Young.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Mr Sterling has moved-dispense?

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



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I move that the following schedule for committee meetings be established for this Parliament:

The standing committee on justice and social policy may meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on general government may meet on Monday and Wednesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on estimates may meet on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on government agencies may meet on Wednesday mornings; the standing committee on regulations and private bills may meet on Wednesday mornings; the standing committee on finance and economic affairs may meet on Thursday mornings and Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings; the standing committee on public accounts may meet on Thursday mornings; the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly may meet Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings; and that for the purposes of the two-thirds majority required under standing order 124(c), that number be set at five; and that the standing committee on general government be authorized to consider the matter of the appointment of the Environmental Commissioner and to report to the House its recommended candidate for the appointment as Environmental Commissioner; and that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly be authorized to consider the matter of the appointment of the Ontario Ombudsman and to report to the House its recommended candidate for the appointment as Ontario Ombudsman.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Mr Sterling has moved-dispense?

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

Hon Mr Sterling: I believe I have unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding some additional amendments to the standing orders.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? Agreed.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We did intend to have unanimous consent. We didn't realize he was going to raise it today, and we have not reviewed them.

Hon Mr Sterling: Speaker, I'll withdraw. We can do this tomorrow.



Hon Rob Sampson (Minister of Correctional Services): I'm pleased to announce that today marks the beginning of Crime Prevention Week.

Now, while crime prevention is a year-round activity, it's important to recognize the contribution of our police services and to heighten the awareness of how each of us can work together to make Ontario communities safer.

Everyone in Ontario has the right to be safe from crime. We should be able to walk in our own neighbourhoods, use public transit, live in our homes and send our children to school free from the fear of criminals.

The involvement of each individual in neighbourhoods across Ontario continues to be the most powerful force in reducing crime. Police and community organizations are demonstrating the commitment of Ontarians towards making our communities safe.

During Crime Prevention Week, we salute and encourage people from across the province to get involved in addressing crime prevention in their own communities. Working together, we can all make a difference in the quality of life in Ontario.

Mr Dave Levac (Brant): On the surface, I would say to the honourable member, there's no question that the members on this side of the House support the concept and the idea and the thrust of what he's saying. However, there are some concerns that I must raise, and those concerns are pretty obvious.

There have been implications by previous solicitors general and by other members on that side that there would be a tendency towards privatizing the police service. This, in my opinion-and it's a humble opinion at this moment, because I haven't had enough time to discuss and to delve into the real workings of the police force. But I want to say at the outset that I definitely support the concept that everyone is responsible for policing-everyone. We have been told by police officers time and time again that all of us are responsible for making sure that we take a bite out of crime.

I want this government to stand in its place and say that it will not privatize policing. They have been challenged time and time again to do so-not a word. They have been challenged to make those statements in public, in private to the OPP, in private to the municipal forces. They have not done so.

We have had reports in the media of a private firm doing a speed chase of over 120 kilometres an hour, both vehicles blowing through stop signs, blowing through stoplights in the middle of a community. Properly trained police officers would have known to turn that one off; the security firm did not, putting lives in danger-not acceptable.

The other thing I want to bring up is that this is, and should be, considered a threat to public safety, because if this ministry is not willing to subject itself to the scrutiny of this side by making it clear that we do not accept and the public and the police do not accept privatizing the police force, we're in deep trouble.

Let's lay the blame where it belongs: downloading, the fact that municipalities are now being charged with having the finances to do those things. It's not acceptable that this government is usurping its responsibility to provide public policing.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I share with Mr Lalonde.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell): Mr Minister, how can you declare this week Crime Prevention Week, as in the throne speech there was no mention of crime prevention? Also, since 1995, this government has done nothing to improve crime prevention in our communities.

When the Tories first came to power in 1995, they promised to redirect funding to supervision programs. At that time, Ontario parole and probation officers reported the highest caseloads in the country, with 112 cases per officer. The national average was 72. More than 80,000 people are now on parole every day in Ontario. Instead of reduced caseloads, officers are now handling 117 cases per officer.

Despite predictions that the offender population will increase by over 2% per year, only 0.05% of your budget is dedicated to training, and it calls for a zero increase in the staffing complement. This is a recipe for disaster. It is unacceptable.

These probation officers handle 87% of the offending population within the community. We commend the probation officers for their hard work, given the lack of support from this government. We call on you to put money behind the 1995 election promise you made, or is this another shallow promise?

Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): The minister should know that the report that was commissioned by your government on early childhood development says clearly, with research, that if you want to make a contribution to crime prevention, one of the things you should be doing is paying attention to the early years of children in our society, because a lot of these things are genetic and a lot of these things are based on the abuse of children, are based on the neglect of children and are based on the poor nurturing that we have for many of our children. I suggest that you should begin to look in terms of prevention in this area.


Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): It's interesting that the Minister of Correctional Services makes this announcement today. I understand why neither the Attorney General nor the Solicitor General would want to, because clearly this is the sort of fluff that is so typical of a government that maintains a policy of depolicing our provinces and underresourcing police forces that puts communities at risk and peril and puts cops at risk and peril. We have the lowest number of police officers per capita that this province has experienced in the last 10 years. Our police forces are seriously underresourced.

If you want to talk about crime prevention, you ought to be talking about ensuring that police services boards have adequate resources, that communities have adequate resources, to have cops out there on the street doing the job that good cops in this province want to do. Response times have become more and more protracted, longer and longer.

You and your government's policy of downloading and quite frankly abandoning police forces has nurtured the option 4 program. You have done nothing in response to any number of observations of the fact that cops are out there doing fundraising. You should be familiar with option 4 because it has been raised in this Legislature more than once. Quite frankly, police officers don't like doing it, because they know that there are more important things for them to do, police services boards wish they didn't have to do it, but valuable police time is spent out there in fishing holes.

You understand how option 4 works. If you've got the cash, you show up at the police station within 48 hours, no cheques, exact change, you pay off the police services board to the tune of-what is it?-$50 or $60 and the ticket is torn up. What happens is that police forces are forced to do this because they are underresourced.

In Niagara region, you've got a police force where morale has dropped so low that they're in the course of conducting a secret ballot by way of a vote of non-confidence in their chief of police. That's a police force that, as you should know, has been ravaged by some very difficult history over the course of the last 20 and 30 years, and the last thing it needs is a government that undermines it every step of the way. I talked to a police officer at Niagara just recently who opened his trunk and showed me the spike belt that had been installed in the trunk of his car, packed up onto the underside of the hood. Every police cruiser in Niagara now has a spike belt; not one police officer has received a minute of training in how to use them or the circumstances under which they are to be utilized. The police officer, who is an experienced police officer whom I've known for a number of years and who is very competent, explained to me he isn't quite sure how to even get the spike belt out of the container. Little good it's going to do him or other cops to have spike belts if this government won't finance police services boards so that police officers can receive adequate training.

If you want to talk about crime prevention, why don't you talk and why didn't your throne speech talk about a response to the disastrous judgment condemning your government's Victims' Bill of Rights, which the courts found had little to do with victims and absolutely nothing to do with rights and was more noteworthy in its breach, in its violation, than in any compliance with it?

If you want to talk about crime prevention, Mr Sampson, why don't you talk about making sure that crown attorneys and their offices have adequate resources so they can prepare for bail hearings, so they can prepare adequately for trial, so they can properly screen cases, so they can discuss cases with crown witnesses before the morning of the trial, if that, and why don't you take a look at some of the courts in this city alone-Old City Hall among others-and take a look at the incredible backlogs and the huge risk of misjustice being applied every step of the way?

You have touted your so-called Christopher's Law, your child abuse registry, yet it does nothing to address the fact that agencies like Big Brothers, agencies like Boy Scouts and Girl Guides have to pay user fees now when, by way of an application by a volunteer, they seek out whether or not that person has a criminal record.

If you're going to talk about crime prevention, why aren't you telling police forces in this province that they can't charge volunteer agencies $40, $50 and $60 a pop to do criminal record searches? If you want to talk about prevention of crime, why aren't you talking about your government's total indifference to the incredible crime of homelessness, why aren't you talking about your government's disdain for the poor, and why aren't you talking about your government's attack on the incredible crime of child poverty? You folks want to talk a big game when it comes to law and order, but at the end of the day the fact is you not only don't deliver, but you've undermined police forces, you've undermined communities that have been trying to build stronger, healthier, safer communities, and at the end of the day you're the criminal's best friend.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I draw the members' attention to the west gallery. We are joined today by Margaret Harrington, the former member for Niagara Falls.


Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, minister responsible for seniors and women): Mr Speaker, I request unanimous consent so that one member from each caucus may rise and speak about Wife Assault Prevention Month.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Is it agreed? Agreed.

Hon Mrs Johns: As the minister responsible for women's issues, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about the serious problem of wife assault and domestic violence. This month has been designated Wife Assault Prevention Month. This presents us with an opportunity to reflect on an all-too-common crime that hurts every one of us in this chamber.

This government will not tolerate domestic violence, nor should any of us tolerate it. Across Ontario, the government spends $100 million annually on programs and services that address violence against women. The effects of domestic violence ripple through society, leaving children at risk, families in anguish and women in crisis.

The Blueprint outlines our approach to domestic violence. Our government was the first to create special courts dedicated to domestic violence cases. As a sign of our continued commitment in this regard, we have expanded their number. We are also working towards the implementation of our Blueprint commitments to prevent domestic violence.

With our community, volunteer and private sector partners, this government is taking an active role in addressing and preventing violence against women and their children. Since our government announced our Agenda for Action violence prevention strategy in 1997, more than 40 new initiatives have helped women in crisis to get the help they need when they need it.

As the minister responsible for women's issues, I am working closely with my colleagues in nine other ministries to ensure that violence prevention initiatives across government are coordinated and that they're effective. Last week my colleague the Solicitor General, David Tsubouchi, and I launched a special Crime Stoppers campaign. This month-long radio and television campaign will raise awareness by informing Ontarians that domestic violence can now be reported anonymously through Crime Stoppers. That's not to say that if there's an act of violence happening at the present time we should call Crime Stoppers; we should call 911. But it's very important for people to get involved and help women who are having violence against them. Ontarians have the right to feel safe in their communities, in their workplaces and in their homes.

Through improved training, children's aid society workers will be able to respond more effectively to cases involving domestic violence. In addition, this measure will help improve links between shelters for abused women and children's aid societies.

One of the real tragedies of women's abuse, of course, is the children who are involved in it. Our government will expand a school-based service program to help children who have witnessed abuse. The program, involving 65 school boards across the province, includes violence prevention education for students and staff as well as direct services for the kids.

To support victims of domestic violence and to hold abusers accountable, our government has created Canada's most extensive violence court system.

Preventing violence against women is everyone's responsibility, and we all need to do our part. I am pleased to note that the majority of the recommendations from the May-Iles inquest have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented, and in fact the chief coroner has said he is pleased with the responses and changes that have resulted from the jury's recommendations.

During Wife Assault Prevention Month, I urge my colleagues here in this room and my friends across the province of Ontario to get involved in violence prevention events in each of their communities.


Our efforts to end domestic violence and keep our communities safe don't end with these programs and initiatives I've talked about today. Our government, together with the community, volunteers and the private sector, has to take action. We have to all be responsible. Each one of us has to play a role in ending domestic violence. It's against the law. It's everyone's responsibility.

Mrs Claudette Boyer (Ottawa-Vanier): It's a pleasure for me to rise and speak on this important issue, Wife Assault Prevention Month. I am grateful to Dalton McGuinty, my leader, for the women's issues portfolio. I know I have the full support of the caucus on the important issues facing women in Ontario society.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence in the public gallery of a delegation of directors of the Ontario Second Stage Housing Alliance. Through me, they would like to ask the Minister of Community and Social Services, member for Nepean-Carlton, when the funding for shelters and second-stage housing will be restored. I will follow up with a letter on the subject and ask for a reply as soon as possible.

Violence against women is a crime, but a criminal justice response isn't the only answer. Women who have been violated need counselling and compassionate assistance to heal and prepare for a life free of violence and to become financially independent.

No one should overlook the importance of community-based organizations that have committed themselves to serving victims of domestic violence.

In the course of the last four years, a number of initiatives have set back women's ability to respond to domestic violence, such as cutting welfare by 21.6%, restricting eligibility to legal aid funding for family law cases, eliminating funding for new social housing projects and axing rent control.

Laissez-moi vous dire que ces actions causent souvent des ennuis insurmontables aux femmes qui tentent de se sauver de la violence pour leur sécurité et celle de leurs enfants.

Dans mon comté d'Ottawa-Vanier, c'est un sérieux problème pour les francophones. Il y a un rattrapage considérable à faire. Une des maisons d'hébergement refuse des centaines et des centaines de demandes de services, justement à cause de l'absence de financement adéquat et de la pénurie de services en français.

Le crime de violence envers les femmes et les enfants est également une attaque à la dignité humaine. Il est de notre devoir, comme société et comme êtres humains, d'appyuer ces femmes, victimes de violence. Nous devons nous engager afin de prévenir des tragédies et d'aider ces femmes à refaire leur vie.

The most important recommendations of the May-Iles inquest still have not been acted on. Funding has not yet been restored to shelters for abused women and children or to second-stage housing. Experts have repeatedly suggested that women who are violated prefer to turn to community-based organizations for help. These women go where they will be helped to continue to care for their children while figuring out what they will do next.

Did you know that approximately 10,800 women and children seek shelter help per year and that this represents only 8% of the real need? Let's all agree that we can do more for domestic violence so that women can carry on healthy, productive lives free of fear and of violence.

I am hopeful that naming November the Wife Assault Prevention Month will increase awareness of this important issue and will bring about progress in finding solutions to the violence women in Ontario are facing.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): Every November we rise in this House to mark the beginning of Wife Assault Prevention Month. I hope someday there won't have to be a Wife Assault Prevention Month because we will have eradicated violence against women and children. But the sad fact is that the problem has gotten worse, not better. Programs and services that generations of women have built in their communities have suffered enormous blows over the last five years. This issue affects all of us: our families, our communities.

Every year, an average of 40 women are killed by their male partners and ex-partners in this province. Statistics Canada reports that over 29% of women who have been married or in a common-law relationship have been subjected to sexual or physical violence from a current or former partner. When women do escape violence, the risk of stalking and escalated violence increases. They need a safe place to go and to take their children. Then they face the threat of poverty and homelessness. The fact is that for most women, leaving abusive relationships and protecting their children means raising them in poverty. It must be said that the 22% cut to social assistance dealt another blow to abused women and their children.

I want to share a few statistics with you. In Toronto, the United Way estimates that abused women represent 10% of all users of the general hostel system. In 1996, we know that 8,450 women and their children turned to a Toronto hostel because of spousal abuse or family breakdown, categories that are often used interchangeably by abused women.

There aren't enough places for them in women's emergency shelters because of provincial spending restraints. That means they are out there in the homeless sector in that hostel system without the desperately needed safety and security measures, without help dealing with the devastating effects of being victims of abuse. Callers to the Assaulted Women's Helpline have a 91% chance of getting a busy signal. There are 50,000 calls a year turned away.

We ask women to flee violence. We ask them to protect themselves and their children. But meanwhile, we cut the programs and services they so desperately need if they are to survive.

Earlier today, a group of women who were here with us in the gallery from across this province came to Queen's Park to mark the beginning of Wife Assault Prevention Month. These women are members of the Ontario Second Stage Housing Alliance, women who work day to day providing safe, affordable transitional housing for women escaping violence and for their children. They made it clear that the government's $2.6-million cut to second-stage housing programs means that abused women and children are no longer getting the help they need to get past the abuse, to develop safety plans, to get training, job counselling and financial advice. In short, the support they need to put their own and their children's lives back together is no longer available. It's just not a priority.

At the same time the government can find $16 million for pro sports teams, $2 million for the Ottawa Senators alone, they can't find the $2.6 million needed to restore programs to women and children fleeing abuse and trying to start a new life.

There's a quote from the May-Iles inquest jury recommendations that I would like to read to you. Minister, you referred to the jury recommendations and to your pride in those that had been implemented. You must know and you must acknowledge that the most important of them has yet to be implemented. I'd like you to listen to the quote:

"As we approach the millennium, we are faced with the reality of the violence occurring to women and children in our society. Until we as a country stand up and declare zero tolerance, this problem will not only continue, but in this jury's opinion, will escalate. It is our belief that every person has a right to be protected from abuse."

Since the government's cuts, five second-stage housing programs have closed and shelters are turning women away. I hope this month, as we approach the millennium, this government, and each of us as individuals, friends, family and communities, will take the steps necessary to ensure that women no longer have to choose between violence and poverty, between violence and homelessness.

The government is beginning a new Band-Aid. We have a new minister responsible for women's issues. We are approaching a new millennium. I pray that the government will take a new look at providing the support needed for abused women and children to truly be able to begin new lives.



Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): Speaker, on a point of order: I need your help. The Toronto Symphony is coming here tomorrow to play in the grand foyer. But they have been told that if they distribute information outside or even make some speech, it would be a problem and they wouldn't be able to play.

While I understand and have sympathy for the concerns you might have in this matter as Speaker, I hardly think that playing Beethoven inside and distributing some leaflets outside to raise concerns they might have could pose a threat to this assembly, to this government or to the state.

I'm really urging you and hoping that you will be able to solve this matter, and I hope that if you don't have an answer for me now, we can sort that out by the end of the day.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Thank you for raising the point. I was aware of the situation.

As you know, when anybody comes in and performs, we do make sure they're aware of the procedures in terms of handing out literature. I must say, though, probably on behalf of all of members, that having the Toronto Symphony come here tomorrow would indeed be a great honour and we will try to accommodate them. As a result of your highlighting it, I'm sure the members will have a good turnout tomorrow. I thank the member for raising the issue.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): In the absence of the Premier and the Deputy Premier, I direct my question to the Chair of Management Board.

In the middle of October, the Premier was on record as saying that if he responded to every allegation made about every cabinet minister, frankly he'd have no one left in cabinet. But now we realize that by that point in time there was a veritable scramble going on in the Premier's office over the Steven Gilchrist affair. In fact, we now know the nature of that allegation involved a request for money of $25,000 per developer in order to have the ear of the minister over the Oak Ridges moraine development. We also know that four top officials of the government were aware of the allegations and the nature of them.

Who were those four senior government members?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I'm not personally aware of the specific details of this matter, nor is the member opposite, I might add. The police are investigating the matter, so I caution members on all sides about making any unsubstantiated or uninformed allegations.

However, I have been informed of the following: On September 27, the Premier's office received a vague complaint by voice mail. The voice mail did not include the name of any individual against whom the complaint was directed. Staff immediately tried to contact the complainant directly. Voice mails were exchanged, but, despite repeated attempts, direct contact was not made until the afternoon of the 28th, when the complainant was reached on a cellphone. However, the complainant indicated that he could not meet until the afternoon of the next day, September 29, which is when the meeting took place.

Immediately following the meeting with the complainant, the Premier's office referred the matter to the Deputy Attorney General and the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law. This referral was consistent with an existing government protocol covering complaints of this nature. According to the protocol, a decision about whether to refer a matter to the police rests with the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law.

Mrs Pupatello: The dates you are giving us are interesting, because the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing did not resign until October 23, and that tells us that at some point after September 8, allegations and directed complaints were made to the Premier's office. We know that four senior government officials were aware of the serious nature of them. We also know that in all that time, the Premier continued to defend his minister, and the minister stayed in that portfolio for, at minimum, a month. All kinds of things would happen in that month's time.

I'd like to ask the Deputy Premier today, who were the top government officials who were aware of what had been going on and what were they doing in that interim four-week period? Were they interfering with what then would become an OPP investigation?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I've mentioned, I'm not personally aware of the specific details. I have told you that the Premier's office received a voice mail on September 27, they had a meeting with the complainant on the 29th, and then, following the protocol that's in existence, immediately following the meeting with the complainant, the Premier's office referred the matter to the Deputy Attorney General and the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law. As I mentioned, the referral was consistent with the government protocols.

The Premier was out of the office on September 29. On the 30th, when he returned to the office, the Premier was informed by his staff that a complaint involving Minister Gilchrist had been received and referred to the Deputy Attorney General as per the government protocol. This was the first time the Premier was made aware of the complaint. Later that day, the Premier's office and the secretary of cabinet were informed that an assistant Deputy Attorney General had referred the matter to the OPP.

Mrs Pupatello: The Deputy Premier doesn't seem to know very much information, but the rest of the public is coming to know little bits and pieces every day: names of individuals out of the Premier's office who were very much aware of what the allegations were and how serious they were. In fact, we're talking about policy for sale by the Mike Harris government to the highest bidder. Some $25,000 per developer is the allegation and complaint that was lodged in order to bend the ear of the Minister of Housing in favour, or not, of development.

My question to the Deputy Premier is: Who were those four individuals who knew? The protocols in that office happened much longer down the road when this all became a very public matter. So my question to the Deputy Premier is: Who were those individuals and what transpired in the office of the Deputy Premier in that interim? What did the Premier's office do with information? Don't you agree that a public inquiry into this matter of the Premier's handling of the situation is critical to know that the public interest was defended in that time period?

Hon Mr Hodgson: The police are investigating the matter, so I would caution the members opposite against making any unsubstantiated or uninformed allegations.

I've gone through what happened. On September 27, the Premier's office received a voice mail. They tried to contact the person who lodged the complaint. They finally got hold of him on a cellphone. They met on September 29. Immediately after that meeting, according to the protocols that exist in the government, they contacted the Attorney General's office and it was referred to the Deputy Attorney General, criminal law division, Mr Segal. At that time, it was recommended by the Deputy Attorney General, criminal law, that the matter be referred to the OPP. Those are the facts as I know them.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): New question, the member for Windsor West.

Mrs Pupatello: To the same Deputy Premier today: We're very curious about these dates, because lots has transpired since this became very public. What we're curious to know about is what transpired before the public knew that an investigation was even going on.

There was a file that was turned over from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to the Minister of the Environment. When exactly was that file turned over to that minister? Was it at the same time as the Premier was saying that this is a very trivial matter and that there are allegations all the time against a minister of every description in the cabinet?

We know now that at that time the Premier's office was scrambling, that four senior government officials were aware of it. We know now that the Attorney General received the file at some point and turned it over, serious as it was, to the OPP. When did the Minister of the Environment receive the file regarding the Oak Ridges moraine?


Hon Mr Hodgson: As I mentioned, on the 29th, members of the Premier's staff met with the complainant. Subject to the protocols, it was referred to the Deputy Attorney General, criminal law. The Deputy Attorney General of the criminal law division, Mr Segal, recommended that the OPP look into this matter.

At the same time that the Premier's office and the secretary of the cabinet were informed that the Deputy Attorney General had referred the matter to the OPP, Mr Segal recommended that responsibilities for decisions relating to a file involved in the complaint be transferred to another minister. On September 30, the Premier directed that responsibility for the file be transferred from the Minister of Municipal Affairs to the Minister of Environment, who was the first alternate listed in the order in council identifying alternates for ministers.

Mrs Pupatello: An awful lot of information that seems to be privileged, depending on who you are, is now out in the public eye. As early as July 20, it is now alleged that this same minister was giving very personal information about minister's directives and his potential for zoning changes around this same Oak Ridges moraine, and he said that to a member of the public.

To the Acting Premier: Is that the kind of behaviour we would expect of cabinet ministers, that they would speak in very hushed tones to certain members of the public about the future direction of policy for that ministry, as it's been alleged happened to a member of the public on July 20 by this same Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I mentioned, the police are investigating this matter. I've gone through the process on how this was conducted. I would just like to caution the member again about making any unsubstantiated or uninformed allegations. It is being investigated by the OPP. A serious allegation has been made, and it was handled in the proper manner according to government protocols.

I would like to mention that you keep talking about inquiries. Your party has asked for 57 inquiries on 16 different matters throughout the last four years alone. This matter is being handled according to the protocols that are outlined for the government to proceed under.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mrs Pupatello: Just to summarize: We now know the details of the allegations involved-$25,000 per developer to influence the ear of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing over the Oak Ridges moraine. That is the allegation. We also know that four senior government officials were aware of this detail well before it became public.

Regardless of the time that action took place in the Premier's office, the minister did not resign until October 23. That is several weeks for the minister to have his hands on all the pertinent files in question that are now before the OPP.

My question to the Acting Premier: The allegations made and publicized today about July 20 are very confidential information regarding the potential freezing of Oak Ridges moraine. Is that part of the OPP investigation? Will you be making the OPP investigation a public matter when it is complete? Do you not agree that a public inquiry, so we know the Premier's behaviour was in the best interest of the public during that interim time, is what we should be calling for and what you should support?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I mentioned earlier, I'm not personally aware of the specific details of this matter, and I'd just like to remind her that nor is the member opposite. The police are investigating the matter. I caution members against jumping to unsubstantiated or uninformed allegations based on spurious reports.

I have outlined that when the Premier's office was made aware of this, they immediately referred the matter, according to government protocols, to the Deputy Attorney General, criminal law. When it was referred to the OPP, Murray Segal recommended that the file be transferred and it was done. We are in full compliance with the stages laid out to handle these types of serious allegations.

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

Mr Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): I wanted to ask this question of the Premier, because after all it is his government and he is the one ultimately responsible. But since he is not here, I'll go to the Acting Premier.

The Acting Premier will know that it is now the day after Hallowe'en, and there's a certain ghost hanging around your government. I might refer to it as the ghost of someone called Patti Starr. I mention that name because you'll remember that that too was a development scandal, a development scandal that went to the heart of the government, only now we've got some different actors in this particular scheme.

The allegation that was made this weekend is that-


The Speaker: Order. The member needs to be able to ask the question.


The Speaker: Order, government side.

Mr Hampton: The allegation that was made over the weekend is that Mr Gilchrist's personal lawyer was charging $25,000 per case in order to influence government decision-making. That is a very specific allegation. I want to know, when did the Premier's office find out about that specific allegation, the allegation of $25,000 for changing opinion?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I mentioned earlier, I'm not personally aware of the specific details of this matter, nor is the member opposite. The police are investigating the matter, so I caution the members opposite, but I can inform you of the following:

On September 27 the Premier's office received a voice mail that was vague in its nature.

On September 28 they tried to reach the complainant, and they finally did by cellphone. He was unable to have a meeting that day.

On September 29 they had the meeting and immediately following the meeting with the complainant, the Premier's office referred the matter to the Deputy Attorney General and the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law division. The referral was consistent with existing government protocols covering complaints of this nature. So it was immediately after that meeting.

Mr Hampton: I asked you a very specific question. The allegation is that Mr Proszanski, who is Mr Gilchrist's personal lawyer, was saying to developers out there, "If you provide me with $25,000, I can influence government policy." This matter was serious enough for the assistant Deputy Attorney General for criminal law to refer it to the OPP for a criminal investigation on or about September 29. While the OPP are conducting a criminal investigation, does that mean that the Premier's office suddenly shut down, that the Premier's office doesn't take any responsibility after that for what happens?

The OPP investigation is one thing. That is meant to protect the people of Ontario from criminal conduct. Who's protecting the public of Ontario from the misuse of taxpayers' money, from the misuse of developers' money and from conflicting private interest versus public interest? Why wasn't the Premier's office doing its job while the OPP were out there doing their job?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I've pointed out in this House today three or four times, the allegation is just that, an allegation. The matter was handled properly according to government protocol, and it was recommended by the assistant Deputy Attorney General to refer it to the OPP. That was done.

As I mentioned, September 27 was the first voice mail. It was vague; it didn't name any individuals. They tried to get a meeting. That was arranged for September 29. Immediately after that meeting it was referred through the proper protocols and the OPP were called in. I don't know how much more specific I can get.

Mr Hampton: I'm not asking about when the allegation was brought against Mr Gilchrist. I accept that was probably some time around September 27. What I'm asking you about is the allegation that Mr Proszanski was charging developers and others $25,000 a case for the purpose of influencing government decision-making. If the OPP and the assistant deputy minister for criminal law were satisfied that this was a serious matter, so serious that it ought to undergo an OPP criminal investigation, you ought to know, and you ought to be able to tell us, when the Premier's office became aware of the $25,000-a-case allegation. I ask you that specific question again. If the OPP are investigating this, the alarm bells should have gone off everywhere in the Premier's office. When did you become aware of the allegation of $25,000 to influence government decision-making?

Hon Mr Hodgson: As I've mentioned earlier, I'm not personally aware of the specific details of the matter, nor is the member opposite. The police are investigating the matter, so I would caution the member opposite again to restrain from unsubstantiated and uninformed allegations. I've pointed out that the Premier's office did handle this matter very seriously and followed the proper protocol.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The minister has referred repeatedly to the government's protocol. Pursuant to standing order 39(a), could that protocol be tabled with the House so that all parties could see that protocol?

The Speaker: You know that the rule is that if you quote at length from the protocol, then it should be tabled. It is my opinion that the minister has not quoted at length from it. He has referred to it, but he has not quoted from it at length. I would however, though, caution the minister that he should be aware of what the rules are. They are very clear that as long as you quote from it, it should be tabled. In this particular case, he has referred to it but he has not quoted from it.

Mr Duncan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The question has now been asked six times, and there have been six references to that protocol. It would seem to me that that protocol is germane to the discussion that's going on. I would ask, sir, that you request that the government table that protocol so that all members of the House can be familiar with it.

The Speaker: You heard specifically what I said on the ruling on that. It is when you quote from it. He has not been quoting from it; he has referred to it. I've made my ruling.

Leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: I want to try again with the Acting Premier. I find it surprising that the Acting Premier comes into the Legislature today and would have us believe that while an OPP criminal investigation is going on with respect to the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Premier's office suddenly wants to pretend that it knows nothing, hears nothing and sees nothing.

Look, while the OPP are out there conducting a criminal investigation, I would think the Premier's office would want to be acquiring all the information it could to ensure that public decisions are being made properly, to ensure that private decisions are not overriding public interest, to ensure that, once again, the public interest is being protected.

I'm asking you a very specific question: If the OPP are investigating this, if the assistant deputy minister for criminal law regards it as a serious matter, when did the Premier's office learn about the $25,000-fix allegation? When?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I've mentioned this before. The Premier's office, when made aware of this allegation, referred it specifically to the assistant Deputy Attorney General of criminal law. Mr Segal is responsible for making the recommendations about steps that should be taken to protect the integrity of an investigation. Had Mr Segal felt such a step necessary, the government would have immediately complied.

Mr Hampton: Minister, here's the situation: We've got allegations of influence peddling around Steve Gilchrist. We've had environmentalists say that before the minister resigned, he may have been ordered by the Premier's office to change his position on protecting lands around the Rouge River. We've got Mr Clement, who's supposed to be the Minister of Environment, writing letters on behalf of developers, telling municipal councils to change their position. We've got all of those things happening, and yet your answers here today are, "We don't know anything."

Well, since you don't know anything, let me ask you two questions. While you're learning what you should know already, will you impose a freeze on development on the Oak Ridges moraine? Second, will you commit to a royal commission to inquire into this so that you can learn what you should already know and the rest of the people of Ontario can learn what's going on here? Will you make those two commitments?

Hon Mr Hodgson: Your question assumes a lot. I don't think anyone in this House knows all the specific details. That's why the proper process was followed. That's why the police are investigating it. It would premature for us to be judge and jury and investigation arm. That's not the way it should work. I think you'd be the first one up talking about the rights of the accused, with your legal background. You're calling for a royal commission; you're calling for a public inquiry. We've done the proper thing by referring it to the assistant Deputy Attorney General, criminal law. They've recommended that the process be looked at by the OPP.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Thunder Bay-Atikokan): My question is for the Minister of Health. This morning, CBC Radio told the story of an Ottawa man, 42-year-old Jim Kirk, who broke his leg cycling and was refused admission to the nearest emergency room because it was not accepting emergencies that day. He ended up waiting three days for surgery, finally having it at 3:30 in the morning because the surgeon felt badly about the wait. He later developed a blood clot and died. His widow believes the wait for surgery was responsible for his death. The hospital says that operating room hours, like the hours in emergency rooms, were reduced because of cuts.

Minister, your only response to the Ottawa Hospital has been to tell them to cut more. How many more people like Jim Kirk may die because you're forcing the Ottawa Hospital to make even more cuts?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): As the member knows, our government actually has given additional money to emergency rooms and emergency services throughout the province of Ontario. In fact, we have increased funding for all hospitals in this province in this past year. We have been identifying the priority needs, and certainly emergency services and cardiac services and dialysis and hip and knee have all seen increases in spending.

Mrs McLeod: I have in my hand the letter that your ministry sent last month to the Ottawa Hospital telling them that their operating plan for this year was not approved. The letter tells them to bring in a new operating plan that gets rid of their deficit. The hospital has already had to cut back on the hours of its emergency rooms, it has had to cut back on the hours its operating rooms are open, and your response in this letter is to tell them to cut more.

This is exactly the same letter that 76 hospitals across this province received last month. Lake of the Woods hospital in Kenora last week announced that they would cut 10 more beds and cancel all elective surgery for six weeks because they are running a deficit. Your response to Kenora? Cut more. A woman in Windsor waited nine weeks for breast cancer surgery; you want the Windsor hospitals to cut millions more to get rid of their deficits. Sudbury Regional Hospital is to cut services to balance their budget. And the list goes on.

Minister, your stated plan is to take another $100 million out of hospital budgets this year. Again I ask you, how many more patients' lives will be put at risk because your government won't stop the cuts to hospitals?

Hon Mrs Witmer: First of all, I think it's important to set the record straight, and that is that there are no cuts to hospitals. In fact, last year the base funding for hospitals in this province was $6.83 billion, and this year hospitals will be receiving at least $7.2 billion in base funding. You may be interested in knowing that at the present time, if we take a look at the health budget in the province of Ontario, which as you know has increased each and every year since we were elected in 1995 and is now at $20.6 billion and will be increasing another 20%-we all know that hospitals today use 40% of that funding-we have increased and added $130 million additional for nursing, $9.1 million for neonatal care-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Minister, take your seat. Time. New question.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth-Middlesex): My question is to the Minister of Energy, Science and Technology. In the riding of Perth-Middlesex computer technology has improved and enhanced the lives in our communities. Many people in my area are now doing their banking, accessing their personal information and shopping on the Internet. Businesses are marketing and expanding outside of Perth-Middlesex through the use of the Internet. People are seeing opportunities through computers that have never before been available.

I've met with many local businesses and individuals and they have expressed to me the frustration they experience with the quality of Internet access in the rural communities. With so much work in my area becoming more reliant on technology, access to the Internet is a major concern.


Mr Johnson: Even some of those across the way may be interested in this question if they'd just listen.

Minister, what is the government doing to ensure that rural communities like Perth-Middlesex are able to compete with urban centres in the technological area?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): I thank the honourable for the question and beg the indulgence of all members. This is a very important matter if you live in rural or small-town Ontario.

For years now in small-town Ontario our telephone exchange-yes, we've gone to Touch-Tone dialling, but the backbone of the system never changed. It wasn't economically feasible in an era of competition for Bell Canada to actually upgrade the phone system to be comparable to that of Toronto or Barrie or other urban centres.

Last week I, along with my colleagues Bob Runciman and Ernie Hardeman, was able to announce for the first time in the history of Ontario the upgrade to rural Ontario and small town data network services or your telephone services. If you live in rural Ontario today, as I do, and you're hooked up to the Internet, you know how slow it is for a page to simply load. Now people and businesses in rural Ontario, health care in rural Ontario, community services in rural Ontario, government services in rural Ontario, will have the same access speed and the same telephone quality service on the lines that our urban cousins have enjoyed for years, and it's a long overdue announcement.

Mr Johnson: Thank you, Minister. The people of Perth-Middlesex will be very pleased.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Members, please allow him to put the question.

Mr Johnson: Could you explain which areas of the province will be involved in this new initiative, and how will this work and who are the partners involved?

Hon Mr Wilson: Thank you again. By the way, our major partner, Bell Canada, has put in $8.3 million and the government of Ontario is putting in $3.5 million, a well over $11-million project.

The 270 communities are in the exchanges of 519, 905, 613 and the southern portion of the 705 exchange.

Our other partners on this project, which will be conducting a number of seminars for businesses and people in rural Ontario over the next few months, are our non-profit partners. I want to thank the Ontario Rural Council and the Regional Networks for Ontario that are each contributing resources, and as I said, will be conducting seminars.

Again, through this announcement, in a massive way, for the first time in the province, rural Ontario is being brought on-line the same as urban Ontario. Business development communities in our ridings in our small towns have asked for this for years, our mayors and reeves have asked for it, and this government is delivering modern services to rural Ontario.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): My question is to the Minister of Health and it concerns health service in eastern Ontario.

The minister will know that lithotripsy is wonderful medical technology which allows for the non-surgical treatment of kidney stones, surely one of the most excruciatingly painful medical conditions known to humankind.

In Ontario today there are two locations, and two locations only, for that treatment: Toronto and London. There is a third lithotripter now at the Riverside campus of the Ottawa Hospital in the national capital. Regrettably, that machine is not in use.

I want to ask, on behalf of the hundreds of patients who desperately need the service that machine can provide, can you explain why your ministry has not chosen to fund that lithotripter in Ottawa to serve the hundreds of patients who need it in my part of eastern Ontario?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I think it's important to put it in the context, and that is the fact that this machine was purchased without ministry approval having been given. I think that is very important. There was no endorsement of the purchase and there was also no endorsement of operating funds to operate the machine. We have indicated that certainly in the future we would support the development of a program at the new Ottawa Hospital, and we are continuing our discussion.

As I say, we approve this in principle, but I think it's important to be mindful of the fact that since 1996 there has not been an increase in the number of patients in this province using lithotripsy; it has remained about the same.

Mr Conway: I ask the minister and the House to keep in mind what we're talking about. We're talking about people who are stricken with kidney stone attacks. I'm sure all members know how incredibly painful that is. For people in Ottawa and Pembroke and Perth and Prescott, they're being told to go down the road to Montreal, Toronto or London, through a mass of traffic headaches, among other inconveniences.

The context is this: Just over a year ago, Minister, you wrote constituents in my part of eastern Ontario, and let me quote from your letter of December 1997: "The ministry has recently reviewed a proposal for lithotripsy services in Ottawa. We have advised both the Ottawa General and the Ottawa Civic that we would support the development of a lithotripsy program as one of the services offered by the new amalgamated Ottawa hospital." That's the context.

What has changed, and why will you not relieve the pressure and the pain that these hundreds of patients are currently faced with because they can't use a machine that's been bought and paid for in Ottawa but rather have to go down the road to Montreal or hundreds of miles away to Toronto or London?

Hon Mrs Witmer: The member is quoting from the same letter that I have. As I indicated to you in my first response, we do support in principle the development of this program at the new hospital. I think we have to keep in mind that at the present time all urgent cases are treated within 48 hours-


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. I cannot hear the reply from the minister.

Minister of Health.

Hon Mrs Witmer: We are continuing to monitor the need for these services throughout the province. Again, I would remind you that this machine was purchased without approval and there were no operating funds requested either.



Mrs Julia Munro (York North): My question is to the Minister of Education. Today the Minister of Education, along with the Minister of the Environment, declared this week to be Waste Reduction Week in Ontario.

It is truly encouraging to see this government supporting programs that educate our young people about the importance of waste reduction and recycling, practices that will ensure a clean and healthy future for Ontario.

I would like to ask the Minister of Education what the students in Ontario schools will be doing to support recycling efforts and the reduction of waste in the province.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Education): I'd like to start by welcoming the badger back to Queen's Park. I'd also like to thank the member for York North for her question.

Waste Reduction Week has been a very successful initiative in Ontario. Schools and teachers have been great participants in this over the many years it has been in existence.

This year we announced a new initiative called the Ontario ecoschools waste reduction recognition program, which is quite a mouthful. What it does is help schools set and achieve goals in waste reduction, and there's a contest that schools can enter to do this. This will complement the new emphasis on the environment in the curriculum at elementary and secondary schools.

I thank the Recycling Council and all their sponsors, specifically the Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Foundation, for their support.

Mrs Munro: I'm encouraged to see this government working with youth in Ontario schools to support environmentally friendly initiatives.

I am aware that Park Avenue public school, Holland Landing, attended the event at the Ontario Science Centre today. At this school, student volunteers make sure that students and staff recycle properly, and award certificates to good recyclers.

My question again is to the Minister of Education. What other programs are schools across Ontario putting in place to support the environment?

Hon Mrs Ecker: The honourable member mentioned the Park Avenue public school project. Today, Mr Clement and I heard presentations from the A.K. Wigg school in Fonthill, which had wonderful pictures of how they had taken a basically dead space around their school and turned it into a green space that actually has butterflies, a butterfly garden and composting. It is something they are using as a learning environment as well.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The Chisholm public school in Oakville has cleanups of local trails, streams and woodlots. I know the opposition across the way doesn't like good news here, but this is very much a good-news story. The Chisholm public school also planted 1,000 trees in Algonquin Park, which I think is a very significant accomplishment.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Would the member for Windsor-St Clair come to order, please.

Minister of Education.

Hon Mrs Ecker: The Cartwright Central public school in Blackstock also has a wonderful program.

We expect that many more schools will be entering this. With the special supports that many of them have for special-ed children, I know that many of them in my own riding have the opportunity to participate in this as well.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): My question is to the minister responsible for women's issues. As we mark the beginning of Wife Assault Prevention Month, we know how critical it is that women and children who are fleeing violence are able to find the supports they need and a place they can go where they and their children can begin to forge a new life.

Second-stage housing has made a critical difference in those women's lives in the past. It's not only a place to live, but it's the programs and supports to help them build the self-esteem and self-reliance they need to move on.

When your government came to power in 1995, you cut $2.6 billion from the funding of programs for second-stage housing. You did it without warning, you did it without consultation and you have left those programs unable to provide the counselling support that women and children so desperately need.

As a result of your cuts, five second-stage housing programs have now closed in the province.

Minister, this is a critical step in transition for women and children to new lives. I ask you today: Will you restore the funding to these programs?

Hon Helen Johns (Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, minister responsible for seniors and women): I'd like to just talk for a few minutes about how important it is that we do things to ensure that women are safe in their homes and their communities. What the member opposite is asking me is how money should be spent within the mandate we have, which is $100 million being spent on violence initiatives. I know there's a divergent opinion about how that should be, but let me reinforce that we have funded heavily community-based counselling services for those in need. Right now the government funds 27 sexual assault treatment centres and 33 rape crisis centres. It additionally funds 120 community-based programs which give counselling to women in need, especially in terms of domestic violence.

Ms Lankin: Minister, no, I'm not talking about how you cut up your $100-million pie and how you have women's organizations fight against each other to get those resources. If you can find $16 million for hockey, you can find $3 million for abused women and children. That's what we're asking. Agencies that support those programs in second-stage housing for abused women and children, and other agencies, have had their program funding cut. It has not been restored. How many more women are going to end up in the streets or in hostels? How many are going to return to their abusers because they have nowhere else to go?

Minister, year after year the Ontario Second Stage Housing Alliance has asked to meet with the minister responsible for women's issues, and year after year they've been turned down. You have a chance to be a leader, to make a difference in the lives of so many women and children if you would listen to their pleas, if you would listen to their need and if you would step up to the plate to meet that.

It's Wife Assault Prevention Month. Will you commit today to meeting with the Ontario Second Stage Housing Alliance this month?

Hon Mrs Johns: I think we've heard here that the government's not doing enough with respect to counselling services, not doing enough with Wife Assault Prevention Month. Let me just say that I have an article in front of me as the result of an interview I did in the London Free Press yesterday, and it's from someone who's not a supporter of the Conservatives, a well-known person, Megan Walker. She says,

"In the 12 years I've been involved in women's abuse issues and violence against women, I really haven't seen the (public awareness) commitment I've seen over the last two years from all sorts of different providers."

As a result of Wife Assault Prevention Month, what we've done is set out to make people cognizant of the fact that it's against the law to be involved in wife assault. We're all going to work very hard with that. We're going to ensure that women's programs are the best they've ever been in the province.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Minister, the odour of scandal is hanging over the Oak Ridges moraine today with the resignation of your colleague municipal affairs minister Steve Gilchrist on allegations of influence-peddling and your own meddling on behalf of a developer in a decision related to the potential development of this environmentally sensitive area. There's simply a prevailing view in the public that the Harris government can't wait to pave over the moraine at the behest of your development supporters.

In view of the scandal surrounding your government on issues related to the development of the Oak Ridges moraine, will you now impose an immediate freeze on any further development and on activities that will aid and abet development of this natural treasure?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the honourable member for the question. Three responses to that. First of all, just to correct the record, I at no time solicited anything on behalf of any developer. Let's set the record straight on that.

Secondly, I can say with certainty that it is not the policy of this government to pave over the moraine. Indeed, we are looking for ways that are best suited to protect the ecological nature of the moraine and make sure it is not sacrificed at the expense of development or any other activity that goes on there.

In the third place, the honourable member has made a suggestion, and I take that suggestion under advisement and I thank him for his input.

Mr Bradley: Minister, while you've been writing this letter on behalf of a developer involved in the Oak Ridges moraine, and you have indeed, five leading conservation groups justifiably concerned about development in this area that contains the headwaters of 30 rivers and hundreds of important natural areas and dozens of rare species of plants and animals has produced an action plan to save the moraine. They have called for tough new land-use planning controls, an immediate freeze on public spending on projects and planning processes that may damage the moraine environment, a dedication of 5% of the province's recently announced $20-billion SuperBuild Growth Fund to acquire land for new public park creation in southern Ontario and the imposition of development surcharges on moraine lands for parkland acquisition in the moraine.

Is it your intention to continue to go to bat for your developer supporters, or will you be implementing the thoughtful action plan proposed by this reputable conservation coalition?


Hon Mr Clement: I am not beating my wife, I can assure the honourable member of that. That is the type of question he's asking.

I can tell the honourable member that in fact-

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): What a horrible thing to say at the beginning of Wife Assault Prevention Month. That's not funny.

Hon Mr Clement: That's right. I know it's not funny. It's quite serious, you're right.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): That was terrible.

Hon Mr Clement: To the honourable member, it is quite a serious thing, you're absolutely right. Before this becomes an issue, to the extent that I offended anyone by that comment, I do apologize, but the honourable member was asking the question in a way that elicited that response. I withdraw that comment.

To the question, the honourable member should know that I have already met with two environmental groups, including Earthroots and the Sierra legal defence fund, and the moraine came up. I wanted to be full and clear to him on that. I also wanted to say to this House that I'll be attending the 1999 Clean Waters Summit on the Oak Ridges moraine on Saturday, November 20, and I'm sure the moraine will be coming up there. So, this is an issue that is in the public eye. I can tell the honourable member that the Ontario Federation of Naturalists, which had a meeting at Queen's Park earlier today, had some new ideas.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey): I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs with respect to the question of the fair share federal dollars to Ontario farmers.

Last week the premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba went to Ottawa to ask Prime Minister Chrétien for $1.3 billion for emergency aid to assist western farmers. The answer was that the cupboard was bare, that there was no money. Today, the federal government has announced that it has set aside $190 million in new disaster assistance this year to help prairie farmers survive the current agricultural crisis and is considering spending $1 billion more in new aid over the next years.

My question is, what is Ontario's position with this latest federal position?

Hon Ernie Hardeman (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs): I'd like to thank my colleague from Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey for the question. As the member so aptly put it, it is a possibility that the issue is based on media reports. In fact, if the federal government is coming up with $190 million to help the depressed condition of commodities in our agricultural community, we wholeheartedly support that.

But I do want to point out that our position in the Blueprint was that we would get our fair share from Ottawa. Again, that was put to us by all the farmers in Ontario, that they wanted us to get our fair share from Ottawa. I want to assure my colleague that we will be pushing for a fair distribution of the money that Ottawa is talking about.

We wholeheartedly agree that the country could help Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but I want to point out that the provinces in Canada have all agreed on changing the way safety nets are funded and-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Supplementary.

Mr Tilson: Last week the National Post made a statement that the World Bank is calling for the world to undertake a new green revolution, claiming that by the year 2025 there will be four billion people living on less than US$2 a day and two billion people in extreme poverty. So desperate will the world be for food by that date, that according to the World Bank the earth's production will need to increase by 50%. My question is, Minister, can you explain how the federal government is able to find all of a sudden this extra money, and how will our farmers find that cash in the near future?

Hon Mr Hardeman: Thank you again for the follow-up question. I want to assure the member that it's very important that the federal government, along with all the provincial governments, fund agriculture in an equitable way so that it's sustainable until such time as the prices of our commodities go up.

Referring back to the issue that the member brought up, it's important to note that on October 28 Mr Vanclief-


The Speaker: Member for Windsor-St Clair, come to order, please.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): My apologies.

Hon Mr Hardeman: -was asking for $1 billion and I told him very clearly there is no $1 billion. Now it seems in the announcement there may be. Again, we don't object to that; we just think it should be fairly distributed. The Prime Minister himself said, "It's not very realistic to add much more money," and he even said the financial picture-


The Speaker: Would the minister take his seat. I warned the member for Windsor-St Clair. I want to be very clear; this will be the last warning for the member for Windsor-St Clair.

Hon Mr Hardeman: I just want to finish off by saying that the Prime Minister said, "It's not my money; it is the taxpayers' money." I couldn't agree with him more. It is the taxpayers' money, and it should be fairly distributed to the taxpayers of Canada, not just in the west.


Mr David Caplan (Don Valley East): I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. What information can you give this House on the closing of hearing locations for the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal?

I have a letter dated August of this year from the chair which states, "We're looking into the redistribution of the tribunal's workload on a provincial basis." In York region alone, this has meant that all hearings previously held in Richmond Hill will now be at Yonge and Sheppard in North York. You'll also know that this follows the closure of the tribunal's only document filing office in Newmarket, forcing people to go to Toronto or Mississauga to file important documents in person. If you live in, say, Pefferlaw, and you don't have a car, then reasonable access to justice does not exist.

Minister, come clean with this House. Tell us how many hearing locations you've closed. How many filing centres have you closed? What do you say to tenants without cars who have to attempt to get to these hearings to stay in their homes, oftentimes an hour or two hours away?


Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I'm going to refrain from commenting on that.

I thank the honourable member for the question. In fact, we are trying to find ways to balance off doing better with less with different means of access in our system. There are some ways of access that, through technology, are now available that were not available before. You can file things electronically now that you hitherto were not able to do. There are ways to communicate that information that is not in person, necessarily. If the honourable member has a suggestion on how to do things better for less, I welcome him. Certainly, we would take it under advisement.

Mr Caplan: That's an incredibly arrogant answer, Minister. You talk about backlog inefficiencies. You haven't answered the question about why tenants are having to make these unacceptable trips. Your government-


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. Stop the clock. Member for Don Valley East. Start the clock.

Mr Caplan: Apparently I've touched a nerve over there. The Harris government has removed almost all tenant protections in this province, so the minimal opportunities that do exist to access justice have been diminished by your closure of hearing locations and of filing sites.

Take a look at eastern Ontario for a minute. The tribunal used to hear cases in Napanee. They don't any more; they hear them in Belleville, over one hour away. The tribunal used to hear cases in Bancroft. They don't any more; they hear them in Belleville, two hours away.

Come clean with us, Minister. How does this process work for greater efficiency? It's actually less for less for tenants. If you don't have a car or access to transit, how are you supposed to defend yourself at a hearing? Why aren't you doing anything about this? Will you stop the assault on tenants and demand that the closures cease immediately? Will you ask the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to reconsider the closures that they've already made?


Hon Mr Clement: I thank the honourable member for his suggestions. I understand that the ORHT is in fact doing an operational review of some of its activities. They are trying to do more with less on behalf of the citizenry of Ontario. I would certainly undertake on his behalf, or he can do so himself, to bring that to the attention of the tribunal.

I can also say to this House, as I said before, that lots of departments of government, or tribunals, are working with new technologies that are available now. In fact, this tribunal is looking at teleconferencing, which is a way for citizens to gain access to government services without having to drive even beyond their city limits, which was not available to them before. I encourage the honourable member, if he thinks this is a good idea, to come on board and help us do better with less as well.


Mr Brad Clark (Stoney Creek): My question is also for the Minister of the Environment. Before I became a member of this House, I worked closely with the member for Wentworth-Burlington looking into the importing of US EPA-designated untreatable hazardous waste for dumping at the Taro landfill in Stoney Creek. The results of our work, as well as that of concerned citizens in my community, prompted your ministry to launch a full investigation into this matter. Last month, your ministry's investigations and enforcement branch released a report on their findings and immediately you moved to close the loophole that allowed the waste to be dumped in a landfill. What steps are you taking to ensure that a similar situation will not happen again in Stoney Creek or anywhere else in Ontario?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): I thank the honourable member for his question and welcome him to the House. I can tell the honourable member that when the report was released, this government moved quickly to strengthen Ontario's hazardous waste regulations and requirements for hazardous waste facilities across this province.

I want to share with the honourable members the six-point plan that we announced at that moment: First, we would give immediate legal force to the generator registration manual, which was not in force as a policy of this government; second, we are going to revise the hazardous waste regulations, effective immediately, to ensure that even if hazardous waste is mixed with other substances, it is considered the same type of hazardous waste-it comes under the same rules; third, we're looking at revising the current hazardous waste manifesting in regulation to be the toughest in Ontario history; fourth, amending certificates of approval across the province; fifth, revising the specific certificate of approval on the Hamilton site; and sixth, we're immediately establishing an independent expert panel to examine the potential for any long-term effects at Taro to ensure that the citizens in that particular community are safe.

Mr Clark: Last week, I attended a meeting of the Taro community liaison committee to discuss the terms of reference for the ministry's expert panel, which you just mentioned. Some pundits and opposition members have been questioning the level of our commitment to fulfilling the six-point plan. Moreover, the company has encouraged the local ministry office to merge the ministry's expert panel with a panel established by the company itself. Local residents have voiced their opposition to this merger. Minister, will you state your commitment to this plan by ensuring the ministry will not merge its expert panel with a panel created by the company?

Hon Mr Clement: Absolutely. That is not our plan. We are working with the community liaison committee. We are inviting those members-I think there's a member here today watching and I welcome him to this chamber. We want to work with them. We are committed to creating this expert panel. We want to make sure the terms of reference are satisfactory to the community, and they're in the process of being finalized. We want to get this plan up and running as soon as possible so that the citizens in that area have not only healthy circumstances but also peace of mind. I think that's very important for the people of Ontario.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Last week, we talked about petitions, and there were some points of order. I thought there had been a little bit more agreement on the petitions, so we will continue with the old way of doing things, and I thank all the members for their points of order last week. There were some valid points that were made.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driver licensing fees; and

"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to over $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with full paved shoulders and rumble strips; and

"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue in road safety improvements in Ontario."

Mr Speaker, I'm proud to affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): I have a number of petitions dealing with the Supreme Court decision in M. v. H., which I would like to file with the clerk. I will not read them. They have been signed by, I would say, 400 to 500 people.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): I have petitions that have been sent to me by the Canadian Automobile Association, Ontario, signed by constituents in Essex, Belle River, Kingsville, Ruthven, Maidstone, Amherstburg and Cottam.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driver licensing fees; and

"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with full paved shoulders and rumble strips; and

"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue in road safety improvements in Ontario."

I have signed this petition.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I am pleased to present a petition to the Ontario Legislature on behalf of my constituents from the riding of Durham, and I might name a few of the lead petitioners: Ken Malley, K. Fice, H. Fice and Mary Fice, who all live in Bowmanville.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the late 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driver licensing fees; and

"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to over $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal" Liberal "gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with full paved shoulders and rumble strips; and

"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue on road safety improvements in Ontario."

Mr Speaker, I'm pleased to support that pressure on the federal government.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands): I have a similar petition that CAA has been distributing, signed by a number of people in the Kingston area. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driving licence fees; and

"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with full paved shoulders and rumble strips; and

"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue in road safety improvements in Ontario."

I'm pleased to hand this to our page.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): A petition to the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Ministry of Health this past spring amended O. Reg. 501/97 under the Ambulance Act so that paramedics are considered no longer qualified to do their job if they accumulate a minimum of six demerit points on their driving record; and

"Whereas this amended regulation has resulted in at least one paramedic being fired from employment"-that's now at six, two from my home town of Hamilton-"and

"Whereas the Ministry of Health's regulation is far more punitive and harsh than the Ministry of Transportation's, which monitors and enforces traffic safety through the Highway Traffic Act; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Transportation mails out a notice to drivers at six to nine demerit points, and suspends a person's driver's licence at 15 points for a 30-day period; and

"Whereas none of the other emergency services in Ontario, eg fire and police services, are held to the same standard or punished so harshly; and

"Whereas this amended regulation is not needed since other sections of the Ambulance Act protect the public against unsafe driving and/or criminal behaviour by paramedics, (specifically O. Reg. 501/97, part III, section 6, subsections 8, 9 and 10); and

"Whereas the Ministry of Health's actions are blatantly unjust and punitive, and they discriminate against paramedics;

"Therefore we, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"To immediately eliminate any references to the accumulation of demerit points during employment from O. Reg. 501/97 under the Ambulance Act (specifically, part III, section 6, subsection 7), thereby allowing the Highway Traffic Act to apply to paramedics; and

"To order the immediate reinstatement of paramedics who have been fired under the regulation."

I continue to add my support to Ontario's paramedics.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): This petition is to the government of Ontario.

"Whereas the Henley rowing course in St Catharines is an outstanding rowing facility which has for several decades been the site of hundreds of international rowing competitions; and

"Whereas the World Rowing Championship has been held in St Catharines in 1970 and 1999 and has been declared an outstanding success on both occasions; and

"Whereas the municipal, provincial and federal governments, along with generous private donors, invested several million dollars in the upgrading of the Henley rowing course to enable the 1999 World Rowing Championship to be held in St Catharines and that as a result the Henley is a first-class rowing facility; and

"Whereas the organizing committee of the World Rowing Championship, the annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta and other prestigious regattas, has the proven expertise to operate major international rowing competitions; and

"Whereas all taxpayers in Ontario will be compelled to contribute to any financial assistance provided by the Ontario government for the Olympic bid for the city of Toronto; and

"Whereas the creation of a new rowing facility outside of St Catharines for the Toronto Olympic bid would result in the unnecessary expenditure of millions of dollars to duplicate the St Catharines rowing facility; and

"Whereas the rowing facility for several recent Olympic Games has been located outside the sponsoring and host city;

"We, the undersigned, urge the government of Ontario to persuade the Toronto Olympic bid committee to propose the Henley rowing course in St Catharines as a site of the rowing competition for the 2008 Olympic Games."

I affix my signature to this petition.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I'm sorry; you put your signature on it before?

Mr Bartolucci: I did.

The Deputy Speaker: Thank you.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham): I'm pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of my constituents who are concerned about the rate of taxation in Ontario and indeed Canada.

"Whereas the personal income tax rate in Canada is one of the highest in the G7 nations; and

"Whereas the federal unemployment insurance fund currently has a surplus of some $21.8 billion;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Ernie Eves, to urge his federal counterpart, Paul Martin, to immediately reduce the rate of taxation; and

"Further, we do support Premier Harris's endeavours to eliminate the deficit and the debt."


Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): This petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the carnage continues on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driving licence fees; and

"Whereas road users in Ontario pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to over $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway; and

"We request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to reinvest gas tax revenues for road safety improvements in the province of Ontario."

I respectfully submit this and affix my signature.

Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas 13 people died during the first seven months of 1999 on Highway 401 between London and Windsor; and

"Whereas traffic levels on all sections of Highway 401 continue to increase; and

"Whereas Canada's number one trade and travel route was designed in the 1950s for fewer vehicles and lighter trucks; and

"Whereas road funding is almost completely paid through vehicle permit and driving licence fees; and

"Whereas Ontario road users pay 28 cents per litre of tax on gasoline, adding up to over $2.7 billion in provincial gas taxes and over $2.3 billion in federal gas taxes;

"We, the undersigned members of the Canadian Automobile Association and other residents of Ontario, respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario immediately upgrade Highway 401 to at least a six-lane highway with fully paved shoulders and rumble strips; and

"We respectfully request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario place firm pressure on the federal government to invest its gasoline tax revenue in road safety improvements in Ontario."

This petition is signed by a number of residents from Tilbury, Chatham and Blenheim, and I affix my name to it.



Resuming the debate adjourned on October 28, 1999, on the amendment to the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.

Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): Mr Speaker, I rise today to speak to the throne speech. I would ask for unanimous consent to split my time with the member for Sarnia-Lambton.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Agreed? It is agreed.

Mr Peters: Before I talk about the future of our province, I should address the past. Hubris can fill newly elected members of the Legislature. The maiden speech is a good time to reflect on the road that brought us all to Queen's Park and to remember that it takes the efforts of many people for each one of us to stand here today.

First and foremost, my most humble gratitude to the people of Elgin-Middlesex-London who entrusted me the guardianship of many of their hopes and dreams. I hope to be worthy of representing them in this Legislature and thank them for their faith in me.

I also want to pay tribute to the candidates who ran in the election in Elgin-Middlesex-London. By definition, the weight of democracy must be carried by many hands. I want to thank John Fisher, Dave La Pointe, Bruce Smith, Corey Janzen and Ray Monteith for taking up that weight and running so well.

On behalf of my constituents, I would like to applaud and thank two gentlemen who recently were members of this Legislature.


Peter North represented Elgin ably from 1990 until this year, both as a member of the New Democratic Party and as the first independent representative in this House in more than six decades. Peter always worked hard for his constituents and remains a popular figure in the riding. I've also had the benefit of knowing Peter for over 20 years and can report that he is now very happy in his new position. Bruce Smith represented the riding of Middlesex from 1995 until 1999. A Progressive Conservative, Bruce was well liked by members of all parties. My best wishes to both Peter and Bruce.

I am proud and honoured to be the first representative of the new riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London, fashioned from the old riding of Elgin and a portion of the ridings of Middlesex and London South. This diverse constituency, a blend of both urban and rural, stretches from the banks of the Thames River in the north to the shores of Lake Erie in the south. Her boundaries encompass the White Oaks and Lambeth neighbourhoods of London and the rich farmland of Elgin and Middlesex. In this riding you will meet fine people from Aylmer, Port Stanley, North Dorchester, Delaware and Bayham, and the famous life-sized monument to Jumbo the elephant can be found among the many industry and manufacturing businesses of St Thomas. More than 80 kilometres of Highway 401 bisect Elgin-Middlesex-London, and parks dot the terrain and provide moments of quiet serenity.

It is an area rich in Liberal history, having sent forth Mitch Hepburn to battle the ravages of the Depression. Mitch was a strong believer in health care. He fought tooth and nail for the health needs of all Ontarians when he introduced the mandatory pasteurization of milk against staunch opposition. Mitch also helped to improve the living conditions of the mentally ill in hospitals across this province. It was Mitch's interest in mental health that produced the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital, a hospital that is now slated to be closed by this government.

I invite the current Premier to visit the land of his predecessor, where hopefully he will learn something about fighting for health care rather than against it.

Before the voters granted me this opportunity at Queen's Park, I served for seven and a half years as mayor of St Thomas and three as alderman. Over more than a decade of municipal service, I learned a great deal. I want to take time to mention a couple of those lessons, lessons that I think are good for all of us.

First, there is only one taxpayer. If the province downloads services on to municipalities to pay for their tax cuts, the benefits of those tax cuts are going to be eradicated by a myriad of user fees and municipal taxes that cities and regions across this province will have to raise to pay for those services. Rather than confronting fiscal problems with courage and vision, this government has passed the problem on to municipalities, and that is wrong.

Second, politics is about people. During the election, the slogan of the Liberal Party was "putting people first," and that is a motto I firmly believe in and support. We should not serve in this House with an eye towards personal prosperity or blinded by ideological dogma. Rather, the role of the politician is to listen to the needs and desires of individuals, to draw people together, to facilitate the changes necessary to improve our society. It is my hope that this government will undertake more listening in the coming years.

Finally, legislators must consider both the past and the future. George Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Very few of the issues that we debate in this House are new, and we should look at what has worked in the past before pronouncing on what will work in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the people of St Thomas for the confidence and trust you invested by thrice electing me as your mayor. I will use the same skills, qualities and dedication to serve the much broader constituency of Elgin-Middlesex-London. To the people of our riding I make the most important promise any elected representative can: I pledge to work hard in your interests.

As a legislator, I have a number of personal priorities that I will be discussing over the coming years.

One of the closest issues to my heart is the problems facing archives in this province. Archives are depositories of our memories, a place where the past can be held until the future requires its wisdom. As this government restructuring process slashes the number of municipalities and downloads increasing financial strain, there is a real danger in this province that our archives will be damaged. I hope to bring this issue to your attention and to ensure that all Ontario's archives have the resources they require to continue their fine work.

More than 80 kilometres of Lake Erie shoreline form the southern boundary of my riding. The impressive cliffs that line the shore provide a home for exotic wildlife and protect nearby farmland. Unfortunately, that shoreline is seriously threatened by erosion. As a legislator, I hope to work to provide protection needed to preserve the shoreline and preserve this living treasure.

Another goal of mine is to see the re-establishment of passenger and freight ferry service between Port Stanley and Cleveland, Ohio. In a time of globalization and increased trade with the United States, the development of an alternative route to access the rich markets of the Ohio Valley will help to ensure the prosperity of the people of southwestern Ontario.

I also hope to be part of working towards assisting the province's transportation network. Our railways, local roads, 400-series highways, air and water networks are the ribbons that tie us together. Investing in transportation is one of the wisest things that we all can do to promote business and investment in Ontario.

The shortage of licensed physicians in my riding is a major problem that requires immediate attention. According to the Ministry of Health's own figures, released recently, in St Thomas there are only 20 doctors where the ministry says there should be 31. Aylmer has five doctors where there should be nine.

Improving access to health services is a key priority to me and my services to the constituents of Elgin-Middlesex-London. This government needs to address the problem of doctor shortages. Just last week, we had another doctor leave a family practice to move to a specialist position. That doctor has over 4,000 patients who are now desperately searching for someone to treat them.

I was deeply disappointed that the speech from the throne provided so little vision to combat the critical doctor shortage in underserviced parts of the province. In fact, the most promising development coming from the throne speech was the government's promise to copy the Liberal plan to offer free tuition to medical students promising to work in underserviced areas. Unfortunately, we still haven't seen any indication that they intend to make an immediate commitment to funding residency placements for foreign-trained family doctors.

As a former municipal politician, I understand the tensions that exist between three levels of government. As a legislator, I look forward to building a strong working relationship and partnerships with the federal government, but more importantly, with our municipal representatives. The municipal level is responsible for delivering most of the health care and education services, and I believe we must listen to our colleagues at that level.

I will work towards mental health reform. The St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in my riding is closing, pushing dozens of people suffering from mental disorders out into the streets of our community. The province has a responsibility and a moral obligation to provide adequate services to ensure that people receive the assistance they require.

Finally, my leader, Dalton McGuinty, has provided me with an opportunity to criticize the government and their treatment of one and a half million persons with disabilities, and I want to thank him for that. The government record on this issue is embarrassing, and it would be easy to make a name for myself by exploiting the victims of these misdeeds. However, my goal as a critic for people with disabilities is not to exploit but to improve. Persons with disabilities have waited far too long for justice in this province, and I am not about to derail all the gains that they have made for simple partisan advantage. Instead, I would ask my fellow members to remember the non-partisan spirit of October 29, 1998, when this House voted unanimously for a resolution calling for the government to pass an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In addition, I hope to work towards improving the Ontario disability support program that is mandated to provide security and quality of life to persons with disabilities.

I would like to conclude with a quotation from Mitch Hepburn, from the speech he gave to the Ontario Liberal Party on his selection as leader. The sentiment captures my feelings about the future, and I hope the feelings of my colleagues. "I will do my best and hope that, when my span of life is done, I will leave the world a little better place than I found it."


Ms Caroline Di Cocco (Sarnia-Lambton): It is with a great sense of honour that I stand in this House to deliver my maiden speech. I want to thank my family and friends and the mayor of Sarnia, his worship, who is here. They are here to support me. I thank them very much.

My predecessor, Mr David Boushy, who sat on the other side of this House, brought with him over 22 years of experience in the political arena. I, on the other hand, cannot say that I have much experience in the political realm, but what I lack in experience I will make up with a willingness to learn. I will give thoughtful analysis to the whirlwind of information that comes with this job. Most importantly, I will conduct myself with the clear purpose to be the best member of provincial Parliament that I can be for the riding of Sarnia-Lambton. I believe it appropriate at this time to thank all the people of Sarnia-Lambton who have given me this opportunity to serve them in this House, and through my actions I hope to earn their continued support over my term in office.

I would like to share with the honourable members a perspective of my riding. The city of Sarnia makes up 83% of the constituency and the other 17% is made of smaller urban and rural towns such as Point Edward and Corunna, Sombra, Mooretown, Courtright, Port Lambton, Wilkesport and Brigden. Sarnia-Lambton was also the home of Chris Hadfield, the astronaut. I live in the Sarnia suburb of Bright's Grove, the home of Mike Weir, the famous golf pro.

Sarnia-Lambton borders the US and is located at the tip of Lake Huron and the mouth of the St Clair River. We are today known as a major trade route between Ontario and the United States, and it appears that this has been the case for thousands of years. The area under the twinned Bluewater Bridge had been known through native oral tradition and qualified by the University of Western Ontario anthropology department as a gathering place where native tribes gathered and traded for over 2,000 years. Archaeologists uncovered a huge site of native artifacts at this location in 1995.

Sarnia is one of only two cities in Canada to have a native reserve within the city boundaries. The Chippewa Band in Sarnia is, in my opinion, a model for developing sound economic initiatives. It has an excellent rapport with the whole of Sarnia-Lambton, and its leadership is committed to taking responsibility for their healing and growth. Their vision for strong economic development, along with individual dignity, a healthy social environment, a rebuilding of a sense of culture and a stewardship of the natural world, is what I believe should be the vision of what this province aspires to as we turn the corner into the next millennium.

Sarnia-Lambton is the home and resting place of Alexander Mackenzie, elected to the first Canadian Parliament in 1867. He served as treasurer under Edward Blake's provincial government while also serving in the federal House. This stonemason contractor went on to become the second Canadian Prime Minister, as a Grit. Under Alexander Mackenzie, the Northwest Mounted Police was formed, and the Supreme Court of Canada and the secret ballot were founded. He faced the dilemma every leader faces sooner or later. The depression hit hard. Unemployment was up; the farmers were hungry; the treasury was low. Should he tell the people exactly how bad things were? He hesitated only for an instant. "The truth must be told," he said. His unwavering honesty was one of Alexander Mackenzie's significant contributions to Canadian politics.

Lord Dufferin, the Governor General of the day, changed his opinion of Mackenzie from a "poor creature" to describing Mackenzie as "pure as crystal and strong as steel." These are, for me, the most important attributes that I will attempt to emulate as a member of this House.

I will put on the record my perspective pertaining to my critic role in culture, recreation and heritage. Culture and heritage are vital to the health of a society, and throughout history all great governments have supported development of a healthy environment for culture and heritage. A strong and healthy cultural community has both tangible economic benefit as well as a deeper, intangible societal benefit that has shaped civilization.

The importance of culture is qualified by Tylor, an anthropologist who defined culture as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and any capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society." Culture, within my critic role, includes visual art, theatre, music, literature, film, heritage and recreation. These disciplines and activities are what express, shape, define, and give identity to our society. I know and understand that culture shapes us as a people and that we shape culture. Government has a role to support and create a healthy environment for culture and heritage to thrive. Our heritage as exemplified in this magnificent building needs to have a long-term commitment to upkeep and stewardship. The whole topic of heritage properties needs to be addressed under an improved long-term plan for the province. Right now, this government has put organizations such as museums and the Ontario Heritage Foundation and many cultural sectors in such dire economic straits that they are selling off assets that have been donated or bequeathed.

In Aurora, a property known as High Tor is being sold by the Ontario Heritage Foundation. This property, donated by Mrs Ann Smith in her will and accepted by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, is being sold for development.

Government has the moral, ethical and, I believe, legal responsibility that when a property has been donated or bequeathed and then in turn accepted as a heritage property, it be protected and maintained.

The throne speech indicates where the priorities are and where the priorities are not for this government. The actions of this government as outlined in the throne speech indicate that the priorities are not in the areas of culture, or seniors, or people with disabilities, the environment, adequate health care, safety on highways or good education.

As the new opposition member from Sarnia-Lambton, I will do my utmost to hold this government accountable. The good times in Ontario and the economic boom we hear about in the financial news no longer means or translates to a better quality of life for the general population. The reason I ran for political office is because I believe in open, accountable government. We are not here to propagate our own power, neither by stifling public debate nor by arrogantly centralizing power.

I agree that government must be run in a good, businesslike way. But government is not a business. Government provides the leadership that shapes the character of a society. A chill went up my spine when I heard the Premier say, "On this side of the House we provide real benefit to real people and keep the economy strong." Good government does not qualify that there are real people, because the unstated follows: that some people are not real. Have we not learned anything from governments in other parts of the world that have gone down this dangerous ideological path?

The type of society good government helps to shape is expressed in a quote I heard the other evening. It's a society that enables the weak to become strong, one that has the character so that the strong become just, and a society where the just become compassionate.


The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions?

Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): You don't have to clap; I'm not a new member. I do want to comment and say what a pleasure it is to listen to new members in the House. I'm sure we would all agree that most of us who have been here for a while are entirely predictable in what we're going to say, on all sides of the House. There aren't a lot of surprises. It was a pleasure to listen to the members for Sarnia-Lambton and Elgin-Middlesex-London, telling us a bit about their ridings and who they are so that we have an opportunity to know what issues they care about and what kind of role they're going to play in this House. I appreciate very much hearing from them today.

Both members talked about issues that are very important to all of us in this House. The issue of disabilities, for instance, is a critic area of mine, among with many others. It is one I care very much about, as I'm sure we all do in this House. We know in a civilized society, and we all agree on this, that we take care of those less fortunate than us, that we want to treat people with disabilities as equal participants in our society and make sure that they can live with dignity and be able to participate fully.


This government has fallen down in the last term of office. You have an opportunity now to pick up the pieces and bring forward very quickly an Ontario disabilities act, which has been promised; this has been mentioned time and time again. I just want to say that you will continue to hear from me and my party on this. We are committed to making sure, in working with you in a positive way, that this time it really happens.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Energy, Science and Technology): To the honourable members who gave their maiden speeches, I congratulate you; I enjoyed them very much.

There was one issue that perked my attention as a former Minister of Health, and that was the comments by the member from Elgin-Middlesex-London about the need to have doctors better represented in rural and small-town Ontario. That's a problem in my own area, in the areas of Alliston and New Tecumseth and Clearview township, Markdale, Flesherton and Wasaga Beach. When I was Minister of Health and I tried to bite the bullet on this issue and actually do what other provinces are doing, I didn't get any support from the parties across the way, nor did I get any letters to the editor in support.

Most people in this province have no idea how our doctors are paid or that we're the only province left in Confederation where doctors get a billing number within two days of graduation and can go anywhere they want and set up practice. If you live in Nova Scotia today, you cannot get a billing number to practise in Halifax until you've practised a number of years outside of Halifax; the same with Newfoundland and St John's; the same with many other provinces and territories. I hope our government will have the courage to bite the bullet on this issue. It's called billing number management.

Already, the Ontario Medical Association is starting their tactics and their stories about foreign-trained doctors and their stories about not enough doctors, that somehow it's a supply problem and not a demand problem. I tell you, we have enough general practitioners and family practitioners; they're in the large urban areas. They need to be distributed. We need to say to them, "There are four jobs in Collingwood. There are four billing numbers there. Send your resumés. Apply for the job," just like every other profession in this world. No more exceptions; we need to bite the bullet.

We need the help of the opposition parties to do that, because the OMA is the most powerful lobby in this province. We need to do that on behalf of our residents in rural and small-town Ontario. I regret that during my time as Minister of Health I was unable to rally the support and beat back the bushes and actually do what's proper for the people of Ontario.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands): This gives me an opportunity, in relation to what the former Minister of Health has said, to tell you that in my community of Kingston, which is a so-called overserviced area, I'm advised by the academy of medicine there, and a number of doctors I've met, that they get 60 to 70 calls a day some days where people cannot get a family physician. So when he states there are enough physicians in the province, I don't know where he's talking about. Are they all here in Metro Toronto?

Hon Mr Wilson: Yes.

Mr Gerretsen: They're all here in Metro Toronto, he says. Then let's have an open and honest and non-partisan debate in this House about this issue at some stage, because that's what the people of Ontario want to know. Why can't people who have lived in communities for 10 or 15 years find a family physician? It's happening all over this province. Let's try to address that problem. Giving free tuition may solve part of the problem somewhere down the road, but it certainly doesn't do it for the next five to seven years.

Let me just say to the members for Elgin-Middlesex-London and Sarnia-Lambton how excellent their speeches were today. It made me think. I've heard some of the maiden speeches from some of the government members as well. When people first arrive in this House, they are full of anticipation and full of vim and vigour, and each one of them brings their own qualities, their own life's experiences to the job. Something seems to happen. Maybe it's the partisan nature of this House. I don't know what it is, but people should never, never let go of their idealism. I say to both of these members, speak out for the issues you're concerned about. Members on both sides of the House do listen, and hopefully collectively we can try to solve some of the problems that they've talked about and indeed that the former Minister of Health here today talked about, because that's certainly one issue we need to address immediately.

Hon John R. Baird (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I'll just speak very briefly to the introductory speeches by my colleagues. I'd simply congratulate them. They spoke very well. I can remember during my first speech in this House I was far more nervous. I don't think I spoke as well. They obviously bring the priorities of their constituents; they obviously bring the priorities that they personally believe in and want to push on behalf of the people of Ontario to this place. I congratulate each of them for their remarks and wish them all the best.

The Deputy Speaker: Either of the members has two minutes to respond.

Mr Peters: There are a number of issues that are facing us in this province. It's important that in many of these issues we do put the partisan nature of our politics aside. The area of doctors is one where I think we can find unanimous agreement all across this House.

I want to come back to another issue where I firmly believe we need to drop the partisan nature of what we're doing. That is the Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This is an issue that has been talked about in this House many times over. It goes back, at least with this government, to a promise from May 24, 1995, when the Premier promised in writing to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee that the government would initiate a new piece of legislation within their first term of office. Well, that first term of office has come and gone. There was a unanimous resolution of this Legislature passed on October 29, 1998, that the government get on with an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

I think we can take the partisan nature of what we are doing in this House and put it aside, because we need to be responsible for those 1.5 million persons with disabilities in this province, to sit down and start to remove the barriers that exist. We need to make sure that new barriers don't come about. There are too many barriers in place for people in this province today, and I think it's incumbent on every one of us in this House to work towards removing those barriers. We need to make sure that everybody, no matter where they live in this province, has an opportunity to live life to the fullest. One way, a major step, that we can all take as elected officials in this province is putting good legislation in place: an Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The Deputy Speaker: I had two points I wanted to address the House on. The first one was in making greetings or waving to people in the galleries. Whereby your waving or acknowledging somebody in the galleries is not specifically out of order, it invites a response from them that is definitely out of order. I would suggest that we not approach that fine line. That is the first point.

The second one is that after debate we call for comments and questions. Those comments and questions are supposed to be about the speech that you have just been listening to. After having those comments and questions, there is a two-minute response to address the comments and questions that you have. I just wanted to bring that up particularly for the new members.

Further debate? The member for Willowdale.


Mr David Young (Willowdale): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank my colleagues as well for that warm welcome.

It is indeed a great honour and a privilege to rise in this House on behalf of the people of Willowdale and participate in today's debate on the speech from the throne.

Before I begin my remarks about the speech from the throne, I wish to express thanks to the hundreds of people who worked with me during the recent election and who assisted me by taking time away from their families, their businesses and their leisure opportunities. These individuals were clearly compelled by a true desire to make this province a better place to live in. I encountered numerous individuals, as part of my campaign, who had never previously worked in any election or organized canvassing type of exercise. They did so this time around because they could see that Ontario was back on track. They did so because they were committed to making this province a better place to live in and to keeping this province on track. I'm truly honoured that they have placed their trust in me, and I am committed to working with everyone in my community, as well as my colleagues in this chamber on both sides of this House, to make Willowdale and Ontario a better place to live in, work in and to raise a family in.


Willowdale is in fact an urban riding that is home to many hard-working Ontarians. These people contribute greatly to the success of this province. Families who can trace their background to every corner of the globe work together effectively with a spirit of co-operation each and every day.

Willowdale is also home to many distinguished individuals, including Mr Tom Wells, who served in this Legislature for many years as a very distinguished member and minister. As you will recall, he was the Minister of Education as well as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the latter during a period of time that was quite pivotal in the history of this country. Last year, Mr Wells deservingly received the Order of Ontario. I have the privilege of having close and frequent contact with Mr Wells. I had the privilege of having lunch with him last week, and with his guidance and friendship, I have greater confidence that I will be able to carry out the duties I have within this chamber.

The area of Willowdale also has a history of electing strong representatives to this House. Dr Bette Stephenson, who received the Order of Ontario last year and was also a minister in the government of Bill Davis, was one of those very strong and distinguished members. The people of Willowdale also had the good fortune of having Gordon Carton and Bruce McCaffrey represent them over the years.

I would certainly be remiss if I didn't also speak about my immediate predecessor, Charles Harnick. Mr Harnick served his constituents in the riding of Willowdale for nine years. Charlie's legacy is one of community involvement and respect for the significant responsibility that is entrusted to all elected officials. When one thinks of Charles, it's easy to remember the numerous professional successes in his political life. He was, of course, elected twice. He served as Attorney General as well as the minister responsible for native affairs. He initiated much-needed reforms to our court system, as well as introducing numerous pieces of legislation. However, when I look back and think about Charles, I will always remember his compassion. I'll remember the caring approach he brought to his numerous and onerous responsibilities and his compassion for all those around him.

Charles is a trusted friend to both myself and to the people of Willowdale, and I want to thank him for his public service and commitment to the people of Willowdale and Ontario. I wish him the very best in all of his future endeavours.

As a new member of provincial Parliament, I have spent the summer months learning the job and meeting with constituents. I found the job to be both challenging and rewarding. Along with my responsibilities as an MPP, I have been appointed as the parliamentary assistant to the Honourable Janet Ecker. I'm pleased that the Minister of Education is in the chamber at this moment, because I wish to thank her for her inclusive, comprehensive and thoughtful approach to the challenging portfolio that she now manages and for the inclusive manner in which she has worked with me. I look forward to continuing to work with the minister over the next five years in supporting and encouraging excellence in Ontario's schools.

It's hard to believe that it was only five short months ago that everyone in this chamber was out on the campaign trail, and indeed this campaign was unlike any other. The campaign was hard-fought but also provided a good exchange of ideas and visions between all parties and all candidates. While the various factions did not always agree on issues, like the one before us today, we were all united by one common goal-and we've heard that throughout the last week in the throne speech debates-and that goal clearly is to make Ontario a better place to live, to work and to raise a family.

I decided to run for elected office because I believe I can make a difference. As we sit on the brink of a new millennium and all the promise and challenges this new era in history will present to us, we cannot sit still and passively watch history unfold. This government has proven that it will not sit back and just let history happen. Our Premier and our caucus believe it takes strong leadership to build a strong and prosperous Ontario. Strong leadership and a commitment to a brighter future for this province is what we find within the throne speech.

The spirit of change that defined our first term is alive and well. A great deal, though, remains to be done.

The people of Ontario want us to be leaders. They expect us to take on the 21st century with a confidence and a zeal that is unparalleled in Ontario's history. We need to commit ourselves to building an innovative, creative and dynamic province, and this government holds an unwavering commitment to building a province that is based upon a solid foundation of shared values, shared ideals and shared principles.

The hard-working people of this province want to build an Ontario that recognizes the power of the individual to innovate, to create and to bring about inspired and constructive change that improves the human condition. They want to build an Ontario that supports the equality of opportunity, and they want to build an Ontario where opportunities abound, an Ontario where the government works for the people. They want to build an Ontario that not only supports today's generation but a province that supports the generations of tomorrow and honours those of the past. They want to build an Ontario that provides its people with a hand up and not a handout, as the Premier has said on numerous occasions.

That is why it is crucial that we continue to reform our welfare system, to restore hope and opportunity to the thousands who remain trapped in a cycle of dependency through no fault of their own. That is why we must continue to cut taxes, and that is why we must continue to grow this economy and create jobs. We must invest in our children and give them the best possible start in life. Ontario's strength is the strength of its people.

We must all work to ensure that Ontario families thrive in safe communities. We can talk all we want about giving Ontario and the people who live here, young and old, opportunities they need to be successful in life, but it's nothing more than talk unless we have safe communities to go home to and to work in.

I want to say to you very clearly and emphatically that crime is a very real concern to the people of Willowdale. The devastating reality of violent crime came home to the people of my riding this past summer when Police Constable Patrick Ferdinand was gunned down in his heroic pursuit of individuals who affronted the safety of our community.

Let me pause to point out that this event actually occurred within a few blocks of where I live and where my children were at the time. My neighbours, my children, many people within the riding of Willowdale watched as the police, after mustering up every possible resource, arrived in our neighbourhood. Helicopters searched overhead, and many children in the area had their summer day cut short because of the very real fear and concern that existed. The children of our neighbourhood were sent back into their homes and were told to remain there until they received further notice. Crime had come to Willowdale on a very real and a very large scale.

Thankfully, Officer Ferdinand is recovering from his injuries, and he has shown great courage and bravery in his recovery. I had the opportunity to speak to that constable in early September. He indicated to me that he was in fact doing well, all things considered, and he was looking forward to returning to his employment with the Toronto police force in the new year. We are truly lucky in this city and in this province to have such dedicated individuals serving and protecting the public.

In my career as a litigation lawyer, I've had the privilege of representing officers like Constable Ferdinand. While serving as counsel to Metropolitan Toronto Police, and later, as counsel to the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police Force, I met many officers who had similar skills and qualities. These brave men and women, these peace officers, risk their lives each and every day to protect the people of this province. As I indicated earlier, crime is a very real concern and we need to get tough with those who threaten our safety.

I have a petition that we have crafted that I will be circulating throughout the riding of Willowdale over the next few weeks. It's a petition that asks the federal government to pass tougher penalties for crimes committed with firearms. Hundreds of Canadians are harmed or killed by firearms used in the commission of crimes every year. Crimes committed with firearms are becoming an increasing concern facing our communities.


The number of young people injured or killed by firearms is increasing as well. The minimum penalties for crimes committed with firearms do not begin to address the seriousness of these crimes, and law enforcement officials across this country have been asking for tougher, longer minimum sentences.

The minimum sentence for an indictable crime committed with a firearm should be 10 years. We owe it to the constables, to the public and to all those in this province to get tough with violent criminals.

The federal government unfortunately is content to say that violent crime is decreasing. The federal government tells Canadians not to worry because we have an older population, a population that is aging and less likely to commit crimes. This is their excuse for inaction; this is their excuse for pampering criminals. It's not good enough for me and it's not good enough for the people of Willowdale.

Ottawa also turns a blind eye to the frequent and sincere pleas that emanate from residents from across this province and across this country to amend the provisions of the Young Offenders Act. What we need are amendments to ensure that that legislation has appropriate, meaningful and significant penalties that will ensue when teenagers are convicted of serious crimes.

One quarter of all Canadians are afraid to walk the streets at night, and how can we tolerate such? It's clearly unacceptable in a province like ours, in a country like ours. As long as people feel unsafe, crime is a problem. The people of this province told our government that crime was a concern to them in the last election campaign, and we are committed to following through on our Blueprint commitment. We are going to get tough with the federal government about the Young Offenders Act, we're going to strengthen the Victims' Bill of Rights, we're going to set up a sex offenders registry and we're going to make our schools safer. We're also going to try to stop the revolving door that is our federal parole system.

Our government also made a commitment in the throne speech to end aggressive panhandling and to deal with squeegee people. I often hear my colleagues across the floor talk about this issue as one that is not a problem. I disagree. Every person in this province deserves to have the right to feel safe walking along the streets of their neighbourhood. Small business owners deserve to have the right to operate their businesses in peace and their customers have the right not to be harassed.

When we deal with this issue I would ask the members of this assembly and the public in this province to recall that it is not just our government, the members on this side of the floor, who are bringing forward tougher penalties; it is the mayor of Toronto, it is the mayor of many urban centres and it is the police forces in many of these urban centres who are asking for action on this problem.

I want to share with you briefly, if time permits, a very real experience I had with aggressive squeegee people this past summer as I was leaving the Royal Ontario Museum and walking along the street with my wife and my parents. We'd just left the wedding of a family member who got married at the Royal Ontario Museum and we were returning to our vehicles at about 11:30 in the evening. I observed on the roadway not one, not two but three squeegee people harassing various motorists. One in particular took the time to spend with four young women who were in a jeep, and he continually made threats, aggressive behaviour, towards these young women. As long as the light was red-and the traffic was heavy that evening-they had nowhere to go; they had no recourse.

I directed my attention to this individual and, in very short order, he immediately turned his hostilities towards me. He became verbally abusive and clearly threatened. I told him I wasn't interested in a confrontation and I encouraged him to leave the young women alone. Fortunately, with the passage of time the light changed, the jeep moved on and his victims on that occasion had moved on as well because they had the opportunity to do so. I feel that no one in this province should ever have to subject themselves to such behaviour. The people of this city are tired of having to put up with this conduct. We must act now to put an end to this harassment. Our government recognizes that these initiatives represent but one aspect of the issue of crime.

We also know that giving our children a good start in life and giving them the best-quality education go a long way to strengthening our society. As I indicated earlier, I am fortunate to have been appointed as a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education. I want to point out to you and to the members of this House that I've been active in the field of education prior to that appointment. I was a school trustee for six years with the North York board of education and, more important perhaps, I have three children, all of whom are enrolled in public schools.

I believe in our public education system and I believe in the role it has to play in shaping innovation and creativity among our young. Our province's success in the next millennium is contingent upon us giving our children and grandchildren the tools they need to be successful, the skills they need to further build and strengthen the social, the cultural and the economic fabric of Ontario.

We are just starting down the road to recovery in this province. Ontario has come a long way since 1995, and we all need to work together for an even brighter future. I believe that Ontario has now seen a throne speech that sets out the road map to a brighter future for the people of this province. The people of this great province deserve and expect a decisive, proactive government that faces the challenges of today and tomorrow with focused determination. Our government will continue to fight for hard-working Ontario families.

Mr Speaker, I also wanted to use some of my remaining time to address another issue.

As we approach Remembrance Day, I'd just like to take the last few minutes of my time here this afternoon to talk about those brave men and women who fought so that we can all sit in this chamber filled with elected representatives.

They fought for a country as free, open and democratic as ours is today. We sometime take for granted just how privileged we are to live in a country as great as Canada. We wear these red poppies to show that we remember those men and women who made it possible for us to be free. It is because of their courage, it is because of their sacrifice, that we are able to sit here in this chamber this day. We owe our war veterans our eternal gratitude. We owe it to them to keep their memory and sacrifice alive in our hearts. We owe it to them to keep their memory alive in our minds. We must all teach our children about the sacrifices made by generations past so that their memory lives on.

Our veterans should take great pride in knowing that their sacrifices have made Canada a source of inspiration to people everywhere for its leadership, for its respect and for its acceptance of diversity. Our veterans had the courage, conviction and faith to face humanity in its darkest hour, but they persevered and the flame of hope and peace lives on today.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments or questions?

Ms Di Cocco: In response to the member for Willowdale, it's a pleasure to hear the number of new members that I've been listening to who have a great deal of idealism and take a look at a philosophical approach to what government is about. We all have done one thing; we have something in common, and that is that we've all come to this chamber because we've been elected by constituents in our own ridings.

I believe in the spirit of change, as the honourable member has stated, but nonetheless, change for the sake of change is not what government is about. I agree with the fact that we do work for people, but it's the interpretation of what it means to work for people that I have a problem with when it comes to the member for Willowdale.

When we make comments in this House about "real people" who deserve real benefit, or if we talk about squeegee kids in a manner that is quite-in my estimation, it's aggressive in its nature to talk about squeegee kids. I don't come from Toronto, but nevertheless I have had squeegee kids come and clean my windshield. I have absolutely no problem and have never had an aggressive squeegee kid come to my car. It's good government, by the way, that understands that weak people need assistance, not marginalization and not frightening the general public as to dramatizing what it is that they do.

The template from the throne speech, by the way, when we talk about working for people, does not even mention seniors.


Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Education): I rise to make a couple of quick points in our response time. First of all, I'd like to congratulate the member for Willowdale on a very fine beginning speech. As Minister of Education, I am indeed very honoured to be served by someone who has the capabilities and the talent and, obviously, the deft touch in political matters that Mr Young does. I'd also like to say that his words about those veterans who sacrificed so we could stand here today are very, very well considered and well put as we enter Remembrance Day ceremonies next week. In the town of Ajax, where I live, we had the privilege of hosting the veterans from the HMS Ajax, which was one of the battleships at the River Plate battle. To see those elderly gentlemen be honoured by the town for what they did was indeed a wonderful, wonderful experience, and they certainly enjoyed themselves immensely and much appreciated the gesture from the community.

That's one of the reasons we've also made sure, in the elementary and secondary curriculum, that the contributions and sacrifices of not only our veterans but of the other individuals in World War II are recognized in schools so that children appreciate the freedom we have and can understand what it means and understand how careful we have to be, as a society and as a country, to make sure that we never, ever lose that.

I think the member for Willowdale made some excellent points, and I look forward to hearing the other comments from the new members on the speech from the throne.

Mr Pat Hoy (Chatham-Kent Essex): I rise to make comment about the member for Willowdale's first speech in the House. I commend him on his election victory and I welcome him to Queen's Park. It is a role that you should always cherish. There are not that many of us here in the province of Ontario over time who have had a chance to represent people from a riding and indeed, by extension, the whole of this province. I know you'll work hard at making wise decisions not only for your riding and the people who live there, but also for those beyond your riding and throughout the whole of Ontario: north, south, east and west.

I noted that you remarked that you are an assistant to the minister, and I would hope that you would work hard to recall the valuable role that each and every one of our schools in Ontario plays within their communities, whether it's rural or urban. Romney school in my former riding of Essex-Kent closed, and I met people recently who still are very disturbed and saddened and actually find it difficult to drive by that school as it remains empty on that rural setting that they have there. So I would urge you always to recall the importance of rural and urban schools throughout Ontario, wherever that may be. It is a centre of their community; it means a lot to the people who live there.

As well, in your role as assistant to the minister I would ask you to recall the children who get on the school buses every day and be reminded that those children need protection and a conviction mechanism against those people who pass school buses while those red lights are flashing. I ask you to look at my bill that I introduced and will continue to introduce in this House until the government allows it to be passed.

Ms Churley: I just want to know what it is with this guys across the floor-and women-from the Tory caucus with squeegee kids. They must all have a big bumper sticker on the back of their car saying, "We hate squeegee kids," because every one of them has terrible stories to tell about the horrible ordeals they've experienced with squeegee kids. What is it with you guys?

Let me read you a letter. Let's put a different perspective on this. I admit sometimes it can be annoying, but I'm in my car behind a big hunk of steel. What are they going to do to me, for heaven's sake? Let me put another perspective on this. Here's a letter that was written in, I think it was, the Kitchener-Waterloo paper.

"Gesture Was Appreciated

"Our family had a sudden loss of a dear family member. As our funeral procession travelled in well-marked vehicles, many cars broke into our line. Most people showed no respect as we passed. But not the squeegee kids at the corner of Erb and Weber streets in Waterloo. As we passed them, they stopped their work, faced us and took off their hats as a show of respect. I can't thank them enough or tell them how much their gesture meant to our family. Parents should show their children how to properly respond to another person's loss. It will only take a minute of their time, and means so much."

There is another perspective on squeegee kids. Let's not ignore that some of those people are out there because they don't have any choices. This government, instead of focusing on the real problems-that is, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the homeless crisis, the housing crisis, the difficulties these young people have in getting work and the kinds of supports that they need-get up and make all these horrible noises about being frightened by squeegee kids. Come on, guys. Give me a break. Grow up.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Michael A. Brown): The member for Willowdale.

Mr Young: I thank the members opposite and my colleagues on this side of the floor for their kind words. I appreciate that the honeymoon is-


The Acting Speaker: This is a maiden speech. Perhaps we could all be a little better behaved.

Mr Young: I was going to say the honeymoon is almost over; I guess I can now say the honeymoon is over. But I do thank the members for their kind words.

I wish to mention as well that the problem with aggressive panhandling and the squeegee people that has been discussed over the last few minutes and is certainly discussed and addressed in the throne speech is one that I have had an opportunity to talk about with various members of our community, including a number of police officers at 32 division in North York, or as it then was. They told me very clearly that they needed the necessary tools to deal with these people. They told me that as currently constituted, the Criminal Code simply doesn't have appropriate provisions that will allow them to address this. They talked to me about the paraphernalia that generally surrounds these panhandlers and squeegee people. This does not only include squeegees; it includes hypodermic needles and other items that would not only be unsafe for the individuals who are harassing others in their preoccupation, but are unsafe for the community at large as they walk by, whether or not those squeegee people happen to be there at that time.

I'm proud to say that this government will be bringing in effective legislation to deal with this issue. Then we can move on. But this is an issue that the people of Willowdale and certainly the people of most of Ontario want addressed, and we will address it shortly.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Hoy: I'm pleased to rise today in response to the throne speech put forth by the government. Let me first of all say how proud and privileged-


Mr Hoy: Oh, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to share my time with the members for Windsor West and Windsor-St Clair.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed?


The Acting Speaker: Order. Agreed.

Mr Hoy: And I am proud and honoured to ask for that unanimous consent.

Let me say that I am proud, privileged and honoured to have represented the people of Essex-Kent from 1995 to 1999, and I thank the people of Chatham-Kent Essex for the opportunity to represent them in this Legislature at this time. I will continue to work hard for the issues that concern them the most, and will always advance for all the people of Chatham-Kent Essex their issues, their concerns, and bring them here to Queen's Park, where all can listen to their concerns and pass legislation, if need be, to bring about change that will make life better for the people of Chatham-Kent Essex.


I noted in the throne speech, and I was very disappointed, that there was no direct reference to what is happening on the 401, a major highway within Ontario, specifically as it pertains to how occurrences are happening-death and injury-in Chatham-Kent Essex. The government needs to move quickly and put all of its resources into play immediately. Three more people were killed just this week in southern Ontario on the 401, tragically so, perhaps because there was no centre barrier to protect the people when a car went through the median into the oncoming lane and tragically killed two others. We need a paved and level shoulder on both sides of the highway in Chatham-Kent Essex. We need ripple strips and extra lanes because of the increased volumes that surely will grow throughout the region.

Eight thousand petitions from the CAA were presented to the Minister of Transportation in regard to change that is required on the 401. I presented 500 petitions from the Chatham Daily News here today to the Premier, asking for changes within the 401. I myself have 5,000 safety questionnaires that we are now tabulating as to the responses given in those questionnaires, which we also will put to the government. Clearly, with these thousands upon thousands of requests for change and upgrades that are meaningful to Highway 401, which continue to pour into the government, they must act swiftly. They must put all of the resources of the Ministry of Transportation in place.

As well, I want to talk about health care. I talk to people who attend the hospitals within my riding who talk about long waits at our emergency rooms. Clearly, we need more doctors. I have one rural doctor who has 7,000 patients, and he desperately needs to have help. As well, hospital deficits-and my hospital is no different. They suffer from $800 million worth of deficits.

I also want to talk about agriculture, which is so very important to Chatham-Kent Essex in particular, as well as the whole of Ontario. This government likes to stand up and bash Ottawa. The minister did it today, and he did it again last week. He stood up and bashed Ottawa. However, I want to remind the government that agriculture represents to Ontario 6% of the GDP, yet this government returns only half of 1% to the agricultural ministry and therefore to the farmers. The Minister of Agriculture does not stand up and defend safety nets. He does not stand up and say what he will do about market revenue, which is so important to our farmers. He does not stand up and say, "I will keep those agricultural offices open." He does not stand up and say, "I am going to meet with the people who are concerned about the Ridgetown College of Agricultural Technology and their millennium project." He has not stood up and said he would meet with them.

As well, I want to say that we need to protect our rural schools-they are most important-our urban schools and JK. As well, we need to protect our young people who are riding on our school buses daily. I hope the government will listen to those calls from my riding and throughout Ontario for changes and a conviction mechanism for school bus safety.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): First, I want to say to all the people who live in the riding of Windsor West how pleased I am to have been returned to my seat in this prior election. I'm very pleased to be back again with my colleague from Windsor-St Clair. Our newly named ridings are larger. I welcome all of the new constituents into my riding, and on behalf of myself and Dalton McGuinty, we are thrilled to be able to represent the area, frankly the bulk of southwestern Ontario, in a truly Liberal manner.

The people who live in Windsor West understand full well what our issues have been and what they will continue to be over this term. I want to commit to all of the people who live in Windsor West, even those who didn't vote for me, that I will be advancing their issues here at Queen's Park for this entire term.

I want to say special thanks to those people who truly are not political, who came out in a very fulsome way during the last campaign to help and to vote. To all of those people who helped me and those who hoped for me, I want to thank you especially because it's truly an honour for me to be here as the MPP for Windsor West.

As well, I want to thank my federal colleague Herb Gray, who has shown us the way in Windsor West for absolutely decades. I'm very pleased to have the same namesake riding as my federal colleague.

I want to say at the outset that the kinds of issues I'll be following are much the same as I have been on over the last four years. The people of Windsor West will know that those include a significant portion of health care and all the issues that surround health care. What affects our area specifically, and what affected our area first and is now a crisis right across Ontario, is the issue of doctor shortage, the issue of bringing in foreign-trained doctors to work in our area, in particular in designated underserviced areas. We feel that the provincial government can go much further in advancing their cause than they have to date, and I expect to be pushing that issue for this entire time.

I also want to talk about institutional care like hospitals and the debt our hospitals in Windsor are now facing. Despite any talk by the provincial government, the issues for us are still the same: Reinvestment in our communities was not made when they made cuts to our hospital budgets. Our community has not been able to respond to the cuts made in health care and, as a result, there are still people who are waiting in emergency lineups, who still cannot access a family doctor, who still cannot get through to some very basic primary care, and that is having a huge impact on the overall kind of health services that are available to the people who live in Windsor West. Over time, we have offered solutions to this. We expect that the government will listen and, when it doesn't, we're going to continue to push for those issues.

I want to say that in the middle of my riding is an enormous road called Huron Church Road, which is under intense scrutiny these days because it can truly be a death trap as it leads the public up to the 401 corridor. This is the most significant trade crossing in the nation, and it is square in the middle of my riding. We have the largest share of international trade that goes across the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, and we feel that infrastructure is required and we'll be pushing for that as well.

Before I close, I have to say that there are issues of significant interest to us in both Windsor-St Clair and Windsor West, and we expect to be the voice of labour for the people who come from our community. All of the labour community ought to understand that they have a strong voice here at Queen's Park, and we will be here to represent their interests.

We had a great opportunity in the last term to advocate for children, and I expect to continue that fight for kids, not just in Windsor but right across Ontario.

As well, the environment is finally coming up on the radar screen. In Windsor we have been dealing with environmental issues for some time. I'm pleased that we have such a coalition of people who are advocating for the environment, and we expect that is going to be a major part of our work at our office in Windsor West.

Thank you very much for this opportunity for a general outline. I hope we'll continue to serve the people in Windsor West in a very effective manner.

Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): I too am pleased to have the opportunity to join the throne speech debate. Let me begin by thanking the good people of Windsor-St Clair who have sent me here to represent them. I look forward to working not only with my colleagues on this side of the House but indeed with the government members as we pursue issues of interest not only to my whole community but to the province at large.

I'm especially proud to have my colleague from Essex, my colleague from Windsor West and my colleague from Chatham-Kent Essex here. I'm pleased to note that for the first time in the post-war period, all of Essex county has returned Liberals both federally and provincially. I think it's a tribute to the work and the efforts of all of those people doing the right thing.

Mr Speaker, I know that you're a man who is fastidious about the rules. So allow me to begin by addressing the specifics of the throne speech. Let me begin by complimenting the government on some aspects of it. I was particularly pleased with the support of improvements to organ donation. We note that last spring a life-saving transplant was cancelled due to a lack of ICU space. I hope, in addition to that commitment, that the government will recommit money to health care in much greater amounts than they have promised to date.


I'm also glad to hear that the government has copied our plan to offer free tuition to students promising to work in underserviced areas. Unfortunately, by waiting until the October throne speech we've probably delayed implementation by a year, and communities like mine, Windsor and Essex county, will continue to be underserviced for many years to come. It's unfortunate the government waited so long.

I listened with great interest to the government's priorities. The government wants to go after 200 to 300 squeegee kids in downtown Toronto, I guess. That's an important issue; it's an issue the people of Toronto want addressed. We'll look forward to seeing their legislation. We expect to see it tomorrow. We think it's important to take the time in the Legislature to deal with that.

I was disappointed, however, that this government did not address in a meaningful way, in our view, the questions of health care and education. Just this week, as I was preparing my notes for tonight, I noted in our local newspaper, "Hospitals Seek Deficit Relief." Today, the Minister of Health indicated that in fact monies had gone up for hospitals, but what the Ontario Hospital Association has said-and 75 hospitals across this province, including Hotel-Dieu Grace in Windsor and Windsor Regional-is that money hasn't gone up, money has been cut, and that these hospitals are choosing between life-saving treatments and meeting the minister's objective of a balanced budget.

Now, yes, the minister will say we've increased funding for this, that or the other thing, but let me just tell you what's been going on in Windsor and let me read you some quotes about the service reductions we expect in our local hospitals.

"Hotel-Dieu Grace, in addition to cuts, has experienced increase in costs." These costs are due to more people at the door. When somebody is sick, you just can't close the door and say, "Sorry, we've run out of money."

The point we're making here, at Hotel-Dieu Grace and at Windsor Regional, is that the number of people showing up at the door continues to increase, yet the government spins a web, a tangled web, that really doesn't address the problems but deals in the political rhetoric of the whiz kids and fails in a meaningful way to address our concerns.

I want to talk about education for a minute, an issue that's facing this entire province. Last Thursday night my colleague from Essex attended a meeting about special education. We have heard the Minister of Education in this House say that there haven't been cuts. Well, let me read you the headline: "Parents Make Tearful Funding Plea." These are the parents of special-needs kids who aren't accessing services in their schools that they so desperately need, services which were much more readily available before this government took office.

But this government has its priorities: It wants to get squeegee kids-it wants to focus on squeegee kids in Toronto-and the government wants to cut taxes. Let's talk about cutting taxes and let's talk about balancing budgets for a minute in this discussion.

The government has introduced a taxpayer protection act, and one of the provisions of that act is that a cabinet minister will get docked pay if they don't have a balanced budget. But what have they done? They're not making that effective until the year 2001. We've had six years of deficits that could have been eliminated two years ago had this government been prudent in its tax cuts and waited for the right time. Instead, they add $20 billion-some-odd to the province's debt, which is not good management at all.

The Premier, in the throne speech, has promised $20 billion in capital expenditure over the next five years, with $10 billion from the government and $10 billion from the private sector under the SuperBuild fund. Based on our experience with the 407 sale-let's look at this. Let's see what happened to the taxpayers. We sold it and we got $3.1 billion from the private sector for a road that cost $1.5 billion to build, and an extra $1.6 billion went into the campaign-selling job. The purchaser got a good deal; the taxpayers didn't, necessarily. That's the bottom line.

In the coming three to four years, we look forward to having the opportunity to discuss what we do with emerging surpluses, how we balance tax cuts with hospitals and education. I can tell you that the people in my constituency reaffirmed in the spring on June 3 that they want a more balanced approach. They want an approach that recognizes that with a surplus there comes a need not only to cut taxes, but to reinvest in services and to lower the debt. We pay interest on the debt just like any consumer debtor does, and it's our obligation as a Legislature and a government to manage the debt with the kind of prudence that has been exhibited by the federal government, a government that this gang likes to criticize all the time.

Let me tell you, under your legislation their cabinet wouldn't have to be getting docked pay for not balancing the budget. Their ratio of debt to GDP is coming down; ours isn't yet, because you had your priorities wrong. You chose instead to borrow to finance your tax cut. That made no sense. You could have balanced the budget two years ago. We could be in a position today to be talking about reinvesting in health care. We could be talking about other things, because there would be a surplus. This government has chosen as its priority squeegee kids.

It's really interesting, because they want to come down hard on squeegee kids and they want to come down hard on other criminal types, but they'll leave a convicted tax evader in the cabinet for three weeks without any kind of public comment. That's a double standard. They want to have it both ways. They want to pick on squeegee kids, but it's all right, when there are serious allegations before the provincial police, to leave a cabinet minister in cabinet for three weeks. That is not the right approach. Frankly, the people in my community reject that kind of approach. They rejected it loudly, they rejected it clearly, and they rejected it in larger numbers than they did in 1995.

As we indicated, our concerns in Windsor and Essex county are going to be our hospitals. It's going to be Hotel-Dieu Grace and Windsor regional. It's going to be dealing with the deficit in a meaningful way so people can access services. It's going to be about our schools, whether it's a Catholic school or a public school. Our Catholic board is faced now with closing a number of additional schools. W.D. Lowe high school remains on the block because of the government's funding formula.

Finally, I'd like to say that the people of my community want an end to the kind of tactics this government has approached with teachers and many others, people of goodwill and good spirit in our community and across the province, who want to be partners not only in education but in health care. This province ought not to be an us-versus-them province; it ought to be a province where all of us work together to find solutions. As they're scapegoating squeegee kids now, they scapegoated teachers and others in the past term. We're going to fight it just like we fought it for the last four years, because we think there's a better way, and we've spelled that out.

Ms Churley: I was most interested in the speech from the member for Chatham-Kent Essex and his plea for this government to bring back photo radar. The issue is one of prime importance, as the member pointed out. This has been an issue that he has been concerned about for some time, and in the last government called for photo radar. If you will recall, when the NDP was in government, we did decide to bring it in. At the time, both opposition parties-at that time, as you know, the Tories were in opposition, in the third party-were opposed to that.

There are a lot of new members in the House, and the member for Chatham-Kent Essex is one of them. There are a lot of new members in the House on the Tory side as well. This is an opportunity to have your voices heard loud and clear. This is a proven technology. We do not have the funds-as you very well know, when you pick your priorities on that side of the government, where you're going to spend taxpayers' money-to hire enough police to keep constant vigilance on aggressive drivers and other problems on that highway.

I must come back to squeegee kids again, because you are willing to spend resources in going after what you call "aggressive panhandlers," but you're not willing to invest in a technology that's out there and used in jurisdictions to stop aggressive driving, which is actually killing people. Just think about that for a moment.

I would plead with members from all sides of the House, in particular the new Tory members, to help us in the opposition bring back photo radar so lives can, literally, be saved.


The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): Hey, Chris.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Labour): Thank you, Rosario, I appreciate that. It's always good to sit in the same chamber as you.

I want to go on about this argument that was put forward by the member for Windsor-St Clair. This whole argument with respect to the tax cuts and the generation and the debt and so on is what we campaigned on; this was the election. Now, your campaign leader, Mr McGuinty, was very vocal, very vociferous with respect to this debate, and I commend him, as I commend Mr Hampton. He was very vociferous with respect to the approach this government took in the preceding four years. But let's be clear: The campaign was had, the debate was taken and the people voted. They voted in favour of the approach that was adopted by the government, and whether you agree or disagree is truly academic.

Ms Churley: So we should all go home, Chris?

Hon Mr Stockwell: No. The point I'm putting to you, the member for Riverdale, who suggests, with the squeegee kids, it's OK because she's not intimidated, so no woman should be intimidated by squeegee kids-if that isn't a self-serving argument proffered by an NDPer. I'm shocked. My constituents are nervous about squeegee kids, they're women, and because you don't like their points of view, you're suggesting they are unacceptable points of view because they are women who aren't sharing your point of view. I suggest, coming from a woman in your caucus, that's a very unusual position to take.

Further, the revenues have gone up. There is $6 billion more in revenues. So with the tax cuts, with the reductions-I agree there were reductions, but you can't argue, revenues were up; you may argue why. But at the end of the day the position proffered by the government was that revenues would increase if you allow the economic indicators to prosper. The debate was over. We've had that election. You supported tax cuts. It's ended. Move on.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): It's great to see the Minister of Labour back to his old self. We haven't seen that in this Legislature for maybe even perhaps too long.

I was interested in the Minister of Labour's comments about the election. I can recall when he was Speaker, and he was a fine Speaker, he came to us on the basis, and wanted to be elected on the basis, that he protected the rights of individual legislators. Now it would seem to be that it's changed a little bit, because he's simply saying that they campaigned on tax reduction and those other items, the vote was taken, and the debate is over. That would indicate to me that he feels this Legislature is rather insignificant. You know, with the changes that have been made over this government's tenure, the last four years, I'm inclined to agree that that is their attitude, that this Legislature has become rather irrelevant in their view and that when we bring issues to them, like health care and education-I sat at that forum last Thursday night. These parents were true and honest in what they brought before us. When we bring those issues before this Legislature, and we bring them about Highway 401, the deaths on Highway 401, they aren't irrelevant. The debate isn't over. This Legislature does have something to say, and just because it doesn't happen to agree with the philosophy of your government doesn't mean that you're always right.

A majority of the people in this province didn't vote for you. We have two other parties. We have a responsibility to bring to you those issues. The debate is not over.

The Acting Speaker: Response?

Mr Duncan: I want to thank my colleagues the member from Riverdale, the Minister of Labour and my colleague from Essex. I would like to reinforce what my colleague from Essex has said: The debate is not over. To the Minister of Labour, the deficit is not gone. This government's record on the deficit is akin to that of the government of British Columbia, the last two provinces to balance their books-absolutely scandalous. You guys got along well with the NDP, and we see where it got them in the last election, but let me tell you something: It's not over. The deficit won't be over for at least another seven or eight months. The fact is that it could have been over two years ago.

The Minister of Labour likes to suggest that revenues have been going up and up because of their government, never mind the growth in the US economy, and at the same time they criticize the federal Liberals. Never mind that. All the more reason why it should have been balanced before there were tax cuts. Our position has been clear and unequivocal on that right from the very beginning.

Tax cuts, when the budget is balanced-


The Acting Speaker: It works much better if we have only one speaker at a time.

Mr Duncan: I say to my colleague and friend the Minister of Labour that yes, you campaigned on it, but you didn't campaign on closing 39 hospitals. In fact, Mike Harris said we wouldn't close any hospitals: "It's not my intention to close any hospitals." You didn't campaign on cutting special-needs student funding in our school systems. That's where we part company, I say to the minister, and that's where we think the investments should be made. That's why we think the tax cut was at best imprudent and, at worst, it was a downright folly at the time you did it when you had these pressing needs and you continued to run deficits. So I say, Minister, give up your pay for the years in which you've run a deficit.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Marchese: It's good to be back. This is my first opportunity to say a few words on the throne speech.


The Acting Speaker: Stop the clock. You're right. Actually, put it back to the 20. Now perhaps we could try it again slightly more quietly.

Mr Marchese: Now there is a Speaker who deserves my respect, because he realizes that even losing a couple of seconds is critical to the opposition. Although it means nothing to the government, to the opposition it means a whole lot. I appreciate the respect and the support, Speaker.

This is my first opportunity. Member from Etobicoke Centre, it's good to see you here, and I want you to do two minutes every time we speak, because I enjoy it; it's important. Otherwise, the liveliness of this place simply dies down and it's boring, right? So I need you. Remember.

Given that we only have a few minutes to talk on this issue and it's really tough for the opposition, I'm going to focus on two issues. Because there's so much to say, I'm going to focus on the tax cuts, first of all, and then talk about the squeegee kids. The member from Windsor-St Clair talked about this earlier and I want to raise a few other issues with respect to it.

On the issue of the tax cuts, the member from Etobicoke Centre says that this debate is over. That debate is not going to be over for a hell of a long time. I've got to tell you this: In the next recession-I'm not advocating for one, and there will be another recession-when $9 billion goes out to the general public-the little people, as you folks say, right?-with $9 billion going out and very little coming in, it's going to be a disaster for us. The folks are going to say: "What the hell happened here? When did this happen? Where did all the money go?" The member for Etobicoke Centre will be able to say, "I told a few of the folks in my caucus that it may not have been such a good idea, but they didn't listen to me." They should have listened to members who were very cautious about that. I think the member for Etobicoke Centre and others in your caucus probably are very cautious, and ought to be, because when recessions come, money doesn't come into provincial coffers, which means you're short a whole lot of money. When you don't have the pecunia in your hands, you're going to have to cut a whole lot of other services. You've cut deeply already, but what are you going to do when $9 billion is going out every year-

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke North): Where do you get this number of $9 billion?

Mr Marchese: I'm sorry, where is my good buddy coming from? Etobicoke North, John-

The Acting Speaker: Would you please direct your comments to the Chair.


Mr Marchese: Through you, Speaker, to the member for Etobicoke North: He's always puzzled by some of the points I make. I understand the puzzlement, but we've got to talk to the public. I don't speak to him, Speaker; I speak to the public. You understand that. Whether he's puzzled or not is irrelevant to me.

What's relevant is that the public is paying attention to this very fact: Money is going out every year. They are lucky that the economy is strong enough to be able to sustain the tax cuts and the $6 billion that's going out, but when it's not good, when the economy falls through the ground and there's no more money, we are all in trouble. When these ministers and these members are no longer députés but just regular folk, they're going to feel it as well.

All you hear from these members and ministers when they speak is the following: "We need tax cuts. We need more tax cuts. We're not doing enough to cut taxes."


Mr Marchese: I hear you. I'm just repeating it for your sake.

They've got the Reform members at the federal level helping them out because their voices are not strong enough; Reform, day after day, saying little people are not earning enough, they need tax cuts. We've been saying to the Reform Party that the tax cuts as perpetrated by this government are not going to the little guys who are making $30,000-

Hon Mr Stockwell: Where are they going?

Mr Marchese: To the big boys.

Hon Mr Stockwell: The big boys?

Mr Marchese: Mostly boys. The CEOs are doing very well. I've got a Toronto Star article, because I want to be fair, and I've a Globe and Mail article to show that there's balance in this place. The title of the Star article says-


Mr Marchese: Please, member for Etobicoke North, a little patience.

"Pay Gap Growing: CEOs average $354,000 a year." They're doing OK.

Hon Mr Stockwell: It's free enterprise.

Mr Marchese: Of course, you're quite right. You are the non-government government, and you should step out of the way and be the good mechanics that you are and just let the economy do its magic, let the market do the work. You're quite right. You are the non-government government. It's a lovely, paradoxical thing, to be a non-government government, but only Tories can do that. I used to think that only Liberals could play that kind of paradoxical game, but you guys are good. We were a government, but you people say, "We are not a government; we are non-government government." Interesting stuff. I'm sure the public loves it.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Whatever you were we don't want to be.

Mr Marchese: Where we will be at the end of your tax cuts in the next turn of events is somewhere where I don't want to be and the majority of the people in Ontario won't want to be either. But for them it will be too late.

"Pay Gap Growing: CEOs average $354,000 a year. Consumer prices in Toronto are rising 2.7% yearly, but top executives expect to increase their pay on an average 4% on base salary and more through strong bonus systems and other perks." They're doing OK.


Mr Marchese: The member for Etobicoke North's buddies are doing OK.

I have another article. This is a Globe and Mail article. The other one is biased, right? But this one, of course, is more neutral, and I do this for your benefit. The title of this says that top earners say "hats off" to the economy. But those at the low end aren't making the same gains in income growth, savings and debt reduction. We have a big, big gap. CEOs and your brothers and sisters in the top 10% are doing great with the tax cuts. These top earners say, "Hats off to you, boys," and women who are part of that caucus. But those at the low end aren't feeling the same way.


Mr Marchese: John, good to see you.

This article says that that's the paradox of Canada's economic expansion of the past few years, during your reign of terror. While those at the top end of the income scale have experienced unprecedented success, many have been left out. But to hear the Tory missionaries, or mercenaries, they're doing OK. The people at the low end are doing fine. Would you not say, member for Etobicoke North, that the folks at the low end are-

Mr Hastings: Tax and spend.

Mr Marchese: Taxes, yes. OK. The problem is that these tax cuts have not been proven to do the things you people say they're doing. It's a good mantra. I've got to tell you, you're not the only ones. The corporate press is producing yards of columns on the corporate mantra, quoting lobbyists for tax cuts, forums for tax cuts, polls for tax cuts, MPs and MPPs for tax cuts, the Reform Party. The poor forests are falling down. They can't keep up with your corporate buddies constantly screaming for tax cuts. Will somebody save the trees from these hackers?


Mr Marchese: I think they are doing well by a few of their friends and a whole lot of people are being hurt.

I've got to tell you, for the benefit of the new Liberal members, that the NDP had a clear position. You guys are good on contradictions, but the Liberals are usually better. We argued that tax cuts were bad. They did too, you will remember.


Mr Marchese: They weren't going to do anything. It's hard for me as a New Democrat, sitting beside them, to hear them constantly saying the same things we say. But when they are asked, "What are you going to do about the tax cuts?" they say exactly what you said, Minister: "Nothing." You've got to expose the problem to the good folk who are listening to this program with a keen interest that there are wide differences.

I'm not a friend of Tories. Although I have been seen to befriend a few from time to time, I'm no friend to politicos on the other side who are rabid Reform types. I don't support that ideology whatsoever. But I don't support Liberal politics that are inconsistent or not rooted on earth. I don't support that either. I want to say that for the record.

What I want to say to the public is that they need to demand of Tories that they produce facts, research that says because of these tax cuts we have produced so many jobs. I have challenged each and every Tory in this regard. Not one member, including the minister from Etobicoke Centre and others, has produced any evidence that says, "We produced 100,000 jobs because of tax cuts." All we get is anecdotal evidence. They say it's a proven fact. Well, if it's proven, show me the facts.

Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): The Conference Board of Canada.


Mr Marchese: New member in that caucus: When you come, bring that paper. Read it to me, for my benefit, OK?


Mr Marchese: Yes, I know. This is part of the debate. We need you to be able to bring this research into this House that says, "Here is the study." I don't want you to come and say, "The Bank of Canada said this." If they tell me tax cuts are good, that doesn't help me. It only benefits their CEOs. The fact that the banks say that only proves my point that you boys are serving their interests, that you are in collusion with each other.


Mr Marchese: But you are. You serve each other very well, and they love you guys. I've got to tell you I don't get any campaign contributions from them.

Hon Mr Baird: You represent the big banks.

Mr Marchese: They're all in my district.

Moving on to squeegee kids, because I don't have much time left to hear these Tories, including my good buddy from Etobicoke Centre, please: Mel Lastman says that women are terrified of these squeegee kids. To hear Mel, to hear the Premier of this province and to hear some other members, people are just terrified: "Good God, we've got to clean the streets." So our new Tory millennium project is to deal with this millennial scourge which is squeegee kids. It's the millennial scourge. In fact, they are so evil that we've got to deal with this because, I've got to tell you, these squeegee kids are corrupting society. Dare I say they are helping to produce moral decay? One of your members on a television program said, "Moral decay." I tell you I was out of my seat. I wanted to jump. Squeegee kids connected to moral decay? I held myself in because it was a bit funny, right? It is so extreme.

Mike Harris, the Premier, and Mel are terrified about these things and we've got to do something about it. In the scheme of things, my friends, in the scheme of where we should devote our energies and our resources to deal with real problems-

Hon Mr Stockwell: That's because there are so few of you.

Mr Marchese: Oh, yes, but that's a different matter. The fact that there are few of us is irrelevant in terms of what I'm saying, Minister. That's what I call in Latin a non sequitur. It's quite apart from that.

If we talk about moral decay, I think drugs would be something that people could identify with as contributing to moral decay. I'd certainly connect to that. Drugs-cocaine and other addictive substances of that sort-I think are bad for the individual, for the families they destroy and for society; and the cost to us all, I tell you, that's the scourge. But to hear these folks talk about, "We need more cops so we can go and clean up the streets because we've got a new moral decay happening here: the squeegee kids"-do you follow the logic? We've got a problem.

Hon Mr Stockwell: This isn't complicated, Rosario.

Mr Marchese: It's not complicated? But if you're following my logic, Minister, I need to hear in your two minutes some intelligent or intelligible rebuttal. For you to tell me or to tell my colleague, "Look, some of your folks are not terrified but mine are," I don't know. That's not an intelligent answer, just to be helpful.


Mr Marchese: It is not. Women are not terrified. What they're terrified of are other things. They're terrified of having break-ins where they are in some cases violated. To have somebody come into their room, that's a serious violation. To have serial rapists out in the streets damaging, violating people's lives, that's serious in the scheme of things.

Interjection: Yes, it is.

Mr Marchese: Yes, it is. But if you're going to go and hire more cops to go after panhandlers and squeegee kids, in the scheme of what is a scourge, you guys have got it all wrong. Speaker, help me out. Sometimes the dialogue is difficult with these fine members across the way. It gets complicated.


Remarks in Italian.

Ms Churley: What did he say, Speaker?

Mr Marchese: It was just an exchange. This is a multilingual and multicultural House here. We're lucky to have so many different languages-actually not that many. They are only a couple of extra languages that a few of us speak.

On the tax cuts, we've got a serious problem and we don't have it now. At least it's not as noticeable. You haven't been able to deal with the deficit because the money is going to the tax cuts. That's one problem. People are not seeing the problem yet because you have been lucky enough that the economy has been working, because of the tax cuts, you say. You've been lucky for other reasons but, that aside, the next recession will be our biggest test, and you know what my fear is? That New Democrats might be lucky again to be in power after the scourge of Conservative politics having befallen all Ontarians. That's what I am afraid of. I don't want to be there when that happens; I just tell you I don't want to be there.

On the issue connected to squeegee kids, one of the things that we say as New Democrats is that housing is a key part of that solution. It's not the only solution. Young people are on the streets and they do not only have one problem, they have many problems, and it isn't just housing. Housing will not fix that by itself. And it's not just a matter of saying they need a job, as we sometimes simplistically say. They need a job, they need housing, they need other supports. People on the streets don't have the same kinds of lives that we do. Most of these young people have been burdened with different problems, but housing is key.

You boys often quote the US as an example of some of the solutions that you find. I've got to tell you that in most other major cities in the US they're investing billions of dollars in housing. Both at the federal level and at the state level they are investing billions on housing. Why can't you people learn from them when they're doing good things? Why is it that you only pick up those things that are insidious, pernicious and evil, for God's sake?


Mr Marchese: OK, Chris, "evil" is too strong. I take it back. You're quite right. "Pernicious," though? It's less.

Hon Mr Stockwell: It's less. OK.

Mr Marchese: Nevertheless, you pick up only the things that destroy this province instead of picking up some of the good things they're doing. In this regard, on the issue of housing-


Mr Marchese: I'm almost done, there are only a few seconds. We're talking to the public; I'm not talking to you folks. Remember that. I want a response from the public. I don't want a response from you. You're only a major interruption for me from time to time. I only have a few seconds. I'm waiting patiently for the two-minute response from my Tory friend so that we can have a little dialogue here.

The Acting Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Hastings: Once again it's good to be back in this place from a nostalgic perspective, especially with the member for Fort York and whatever else was added on to his riding. I'd like to congratulate him on an excellent performance of pointing out just how bad the NDP government was of its day.

You talk about tax reductions being pernicious. Where was the good in the stupid tax increases we had over the last 10 years, especially when you guys were around? There must have been 69 of them at least. What does a tax increase do? If you look at the recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize winner for economics-a Canadian, at that. Imagine, he had to go to Columbia. We lost a very chief influential economics thinker there. He says that any tax rate in the world-it doesn't matter where it is-above 30% has very, to use your term, member, pernicious effects on an economy-30% and we aren't even there yet. Imagine what you guys had-58%, 60% left, right and centre-and then to come back and say, "Where's the proof?" All you've got to do is connect some of his remarks. Look at the literature and you will find good specific evidence of tax reductions.

With respect to squeegee folks, the member opposite doesn't seem to appreciate how bad some of these folks are in terms of the adverse, fearful impact they have on people. I don't care whether they're women, children or men. When you are threatened-I know members on this side have been; I don't know where you guys have been-it leads to chaos.


Mr Michael Bryant (St Paul's): We're talking about squeegee kids. So far the legacy of this government in 1999 has been that for the first time in the history of the British Commonwealth, in a throne speech, the word "squeegee" has entered the lexicon. Congratulations to my friends on the other side of the House. You have elevated the debate about crime and law and order in this province by making squeegee kids your flagship.

If squeegee kids are your flagship, what about the real crime that's taking place in Ontario, much of which you have caused? Right now in the province of Ontario the probation caseload is 70% higher than anywhere else in the country. That means there are people on the streets who are getting no attention whatsoever from probation workers. When we see the rise in crime over the next four years, we'll be able to lay it at the feet of this government.

Deadbeat dads: This government says they're tough on crime. They were going to hunt down deadbeat dads in 1995, but this government couldn't shoot fish in a barrel when it comes to tracking deadbeat dads. This government tracked down 1% of the deadbeat dads. Quite a feat-1%.

Child porn is on the rise in Toronto. These are serious crimes. The Attorney General of this province was missing in action when judges in British Columbia tore up the laws. But they were there standing beside the gun lobby in the Alberta Court of Appeal, trying to strike down the gun laws in that province, and they're still trying to strike down the gun control laws federally before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Police are being asked to do less with less. Hate crime is on the rise. Organized crime is on the rise. Domestic assault is on the rise. If the government's flagship is squeegee kids, they're going to pay the price.

Ms Churley: It was great to hear from our colleague from his new riding, which is now called Trinity-Spadina. I noticed, though, that he didn't use the word "whack" once. Maybe in your two-minute summary.

I think the government had a plan when they wrote this throne speech. They decided to put squeegee kids in it to deflect from all the important issues that aren't even addressed in the throne speech. You know what? It's working. It was a plan and it's working. We're all standing up going on and on about squeegee kids.

Let me put it to you clearly: Nobody in this House, including me, believes that people should be harassed on the streets. Believe me, as a woman, I have had all kinds of harassment all my adult life walking down the street, so I know what I am talking about when I talk about being harassed.

The issue here is that there are laws in place to deal with that kind of behaviour from anybody who harasses anybody on the street, including the guy who passes me sometimes who tries to give me a free Globe and Mail or a free Post. There are all kinds of people on the street harassing people daily about a whole number of things. There are laws to address that and I think we would all agree that squeegee kids or anybody else should not be scaring people and harassing people.

I'm going to stop talking about that now and get on to a more important subject, which is tax cuts. I know that one day you guys are going to eat your words about tax cuts-absolutely eat them. You have had the good fortune to govern in a time of a good economy. I know you don't believe it, but in this global economy recessions come and go and I'm sorry, my friends, but it's going to happen to you. It's going to be quite interesting to see what you have to say about tax cuts then.

Hon Mr Stockwell: I just want to quickly comment. It's great to hear the member for Trinity-Spadina speak. He's easily one of the most effective speakers in this House. I don't agree about much of what he says, but he says it with such flourish and aplomb that it's wonderful to hear him. He didn't whack us once, which I thought was extremely appropriate.


Hon Mr Stockwell: A little misguided, slightly misguided, completely misguided, sure, but a great guy nonetheless.

Tax cuts-it's wonderful to hear the member from Broadview-Greenwood. Look, if you don't like tax cuts, I suggest you go to the next federal NDP convention and tell them what a terrible thing it is before they adopt it next time. It's a cold day in Hades in this good country of Canada when the socialist regime led by Alexa McDonough embraces tax cuts. I never thought I'd see that day, and here we are. Hallelujah, when the lefties have bought in, you know time is moving.

It's not often I get to hear a speech from a Liberal, through a Conservative, on how come we are soft on crime. Not one initiative that was instituted by this government-even the NDP, that toughened up the crime topic, was opposed by the Liberals. Every single initiative-even when the dippers were in power, they were too right-wing for you when it came to law and order. Unbelievable. We've got to hear a lecture from our Liberal cohorts about how we're soft on crime and how tough they are.

So we've got the NDP calling for tax cuts; we've got the Liberals telling us we're too soft on crime. We're not too far right. You guys are. The world's gone on its ears backwards. We're getting so many lectures today, we've got to check our compass. Tax cuts, tough on crime. I can't keep it straight but I'm going to hear it from my friend from Trinity. I know he'll straighten me out, because if he doesn't, he'll whack me.

The Acting Speaker: Response?

Mr Marchese: Thank you to those who have intervened. One fellow whacker to another, I think it's great. Two things:

On the whole issue involving tax cuts, you've noticed over the last 10 years people are not getting a wage increase. The corporate world says: "We don't want a wage increase happening here, so what do we do? We've got to call for tax cuts, to keep inflation down." The way the corporate sector wants a wage increase is through us, tax cuts, because they don't want to give people hikes in their salary. That's the reality of it, the member from Etobicoke Centre.

In terms of what the NDP has called for, they said: "Tax cuts for middle and lower income. We tax you here on this side because your taxes go to the upper-income folks, those who earn $80,000 and up"-$80,000 taxable, which means they're earning $90,000 to $l00,000. "Those people who are well off," we say, "they don't need the bucks." Ministers get a good tax hike. They don't need it. CEOs earning $354,000, they don't need it. That's our position. If you're going to give it, give it to middle- and lower-income. That makes sense.

The other thing is the squeegee kids.


The Acting Speaker: Stop the clock. The treasury bench should be slightly quieter during these speeches.

Mr Marchese: On the squeegee kids, we heard the Attorney General quoted as saying, "Someone in effect extorts money from you and out of fear you give them money." Extortion-the Attorney General. You guys are going a bit too far in this regard. I'm serious, you people are really not doing justice to this issue. In fact, you make so much fun of it in your extreme position that I feel bad, I've got to tell you in all seriousness in the last few seconds that I've got.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore): I finally rise before you today to report for the first time this session on the city of Toronto's bid to bring the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to our province.

The last time I spoke in the House on the Olympic bid was December 17, 1998, when my colleagues from both sides of the House agreed to set aside their partisan roles to pass unanimously Bill 77, An Act to endorse the proposed bid of the City of Toronto to host the XXIX Summer Olympic Games.


There should be no doubt that the passing of Bill 77 has had an important impact on the development of the bid. The bid organizers truly understand that they must expand their concept of the games' presentation beyond Toronto's borders. It has now become somewhat of a truism held by all those involved in the bid that only through the active participation of the broadest spectrum of our communities will we be successful in winning the right to present this monumental endeavour to the world early in the new millennium.

I was reminded of this recently when I attended the 1999 World Rowing Championships in St Catharines. I promised the member for St Catharines I would mention that. St Catharines' capacity to effectively host a sporting event of this significance evidences the importance of drawing on the expertise and talents found outside of Toronto. The Henley rowing course is an outstanding facility which has for several decades been the site for hundreds of international rowing competitions. It should be noted that along with generous private donors, the municipal, provincial and federal governments invested several millions of dollars in the upgrading of the Henley course to accommodate the needs of the 1999 World Rowing Championships. The partnerships and investments developed in this regard are important examples of what we need to achieve if our Olympic goals are to be realized. By working together and through detailed planning, every Ontarian can benefit from our coordinated efforts.

The opportunities offered by bidding for and hosting the Olympic Games are economically attractive. In this regard, the throne speech recently pointed to the two or perhaps the most important goals behind the Toronto bid, the bid that can help re-establish Ontario as a leader in sports facilities, coaching programs and athletic performance. Over the next decade, our efforts are not limited to just the development of sport. The second goal is also to revitalize the Golden Horseshoe's waterfront areas so that Ontarians and visitors will enjoy all that it has to offer for years to come.

These are not simply components of a wish list, nor derived from overzealous thinking. On the contrary, we have the benefit of drawing on the experiences of three successful Olympic and Paralympic games that have achieved similar goals and have indeed developed lasting legacies for their communities.

In 1992, Barcelona presented what is arguably the Olympic Games that have contributed most significantly to the growth, development and modernization of any host city. Even now, seven years after the games, the Olympic legacy is visible. Barcelona has reclaimed its waterfront and constructed modern housing on what was once abandoned industrial land. For decades, Barcelona's seafront and infrastructure had been neglected. Now, through coordinated and careful planning, the city utilized the opportunity presented by the Olympics to enunciate a clear plan for modernizing its transportation infrastructure, commercial port and telecommunications systems.

It should be remembered that the lessons from Barcelona can only be contemplated within the context of what the organizers were trying to achieve. The aim was to present the Olympic and Paralympic games that would fit into the city's revitalization program. Through pragmatic planning, organizers achieved their goals, and Barcelonians continue to enjoy the economic legacy of their efforts. Presently, Barcelona is the sixth most popular tourist city in Europe after the great capital cities. I attribute it to their Olympic success.

Four years later, Atlanta presented the centennial Olympics. For the first time ever, we learned that the private sector could be galvanized to finance and build the required venues and stadium without vast sums of public money. Amateur sport activities in Atlanta continue to benefit from the presentation of the 1996 Olympics. Athletes have modern facilities in which they can train and compete, and the community Olympic development program, as it's called down there, funds amateur athletes so that they have the means to compete at the elite level in future competitions around the world.

While Atlanta's Olympic Games contributed to the growth of amateur sport, the lessons we learned from these games are far more extensive. The value of looking back on these games and asking ourselves what can be done to improve our future presentations is possibly incalculable. Atlanta's experiences have shown us that detailed planning and sensitivity to the practical application of these plans will have an impact on the effective hosting of the games. One need only recall the transportation shortcomings that plagued the Atlanta games. By drawing on their mistakes, we can learn how to avoid such pitfalls. By building on the lessons of those who have gone before us, we can confidently move forward in the development of our own plans.

In one year's time, Sydney, Australia, will host the 2000 Olympics, and already we are witness to the incredible benefits that hosting the games offers for Sydney and the state of New South Wales. Organizers constructed the aquatic centre early, which now serves as a well-used training facility. Its value to the athletic well-being of that sport-crazed country is well established in advance of the actual Olympic competition.

The contribution to Sydney's evolution is not limited to its leadership and sports facilities, coaching programs and athletic performance; rather it is far more significant. For decades, an area in the centre of the city known as Homebush Bay was home to an abattoir, a dump, a munitions storage and testing area and other large-scale industrial activities. Needless to say, many parts of the area became badly polluted.

An environmentally damaged wasteland in the centre of any great metropolitan area is unthinkable. The bid and games organizers in Sydney were not satisfied to see this white elephant continue to exist in the heart of their state's largest city. What was needed was the coordinated efforts of government and the private sector to reclaim the area.

Their Olympic bid presented them with the opportunity to focus their efforts and achieve their goals. Now, the land at Homebush Bay has been remediated and is known for its park, athletic facilities for a host of sports and, of course, the big Olympic stadium. Today, and for years to come, Homebush Bay will be a place for the people of Sydney and tourists to visit and enjoy.

I believe they are ready and will present the most successful Olympics of all because of their commitment and their dedication to build the required facilities and to marshal the population in support of the games.

There is no reason why the city of Toronto, and indeed all of Ontario, cannot enjoy similar benefits from the presentation of the 2008 Olympics. The key will be how bid organizers, the private sector and governments and the people of our province use this opportunity to define how we want our city and region to develop over the long term. Ontario should and will provide leadership and support in these endeavours. Through strong initiatives, an effective plan can be put into place that will re-establish Ontario as a leader in Canada in sports facilities, coaching programs and athletic performance while revitalizing our waterfront areas so that all Ontarians and visitors to our great province can enjoy what has been left as a legacy.

But we must be realistic. We cannot simply pursue a wish list of projects without a view to the costs for taxpayers. The pursuit of the Olympics is a rare opportunity that must be seized. These two objectives are not mutually exclusive. That is why the Ontario Olympic Sports and Waterfront Development Agency was recently created. As chair of this new agency, the board and I will support the Toronto bid organization's efforts to bring the 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to Ontario.

Essentially, the agency has two functions. First, it will help establish Ontario as number one in sport, and, secondly, it will continue the work initiated by David Crombie to ensure that Lake Ontario's waterfront gets the commitment to development that it badly needs.

Only by defining our goals as a province can we then tap into the potential of our waterfront and pursue the projects that will benefit all Ontarians for generations. The Olympic Games are simply the catalyst to achieve these goals. That is why the agency and the commissioner's office are working closely with bid organizers to ensure that venue locations are in keeping with the new vision for the waterfront. The Olympics have caught our attention and our imaginations in that regard.

The vision for the region must be based on sound planning and the assistance of the private sector and the skilled professionals who know how to make things happen economically. Our collective future should be better because of our efforts to bring the games to Ontario. That is why the agency and the commissioner's office will ensure that Ontario taxpayers are protected throughout this endeavour.

Mr Speaker, as you know, the province of Ontario will be asked to guarantee the games. Only after we are satisfied that proper financial controls are in place will such an arrangement be contemplated.


The benefits from compiling a winning Olympic bid are not limited to what they contribute to international sports competitions but also for what they offer for our future in terms of economic growth and investment in badly needed infrastructure programs.

Our primary goal is the creation of a world-class region that can be proud of its successes. Hosting the Olympic Games offers Ontarians an opportunity to focus their efforts on development projects that may otherwise not be achieved. We have a chance to finally develop a comprehensive plan that will allow for needed environmental cleanups plus the construction of much-needed housing and infrastructure upgrades.

The Olympics is the lens through which we can focus our resources and achieve our goals. You can be sure that the world will be watching to see what improvements will be made to our communities to best meet the demands of a huge influx of not only competitors but also the thousands of spectators who will journey to our province to witness the Olympic competitions. It is too early to guess at what changes will be made, but hopefully governments, citizens' groups, businesses, cultural organizations and the average Ontarian will be unanimous in support of what has to be built and upgraded.

Amateur sport will be left with renovated and new facilities that will develop sport and will become an enduring and valuable asset for our communities. Significantly, Ontario's cultural community will have an opportunity to showcase its many unique talents across the province.

The Olympic Games provide us all with an opportunity to not only pursue more concrete goals for development but also a chance to improve ourselves as individuals. There is no better way than through sport to achieve this, and the Olympic ideals of peace, honour and sportsmanship are principles that we should all strive for and uphold in our daily lives.

The pursuit and celebration of the Olympic Games is an opportunity for everyone to participate in and contribute to an event that seeks to bring peace and the pursuit of excellence in mind, body and spirit to every corner of the world. With changes expected in the IOC structure, I anticipate these ideals will be strengthened. Reforms, once adopted, will result in our ultimate success because they will augment our capacity to win the games based on our traditions of forthrightness and honesty. For example, this weekend the IOC agreed to appoint 15 athletes to their committee and introduced an eight-year term of office and a re-election process for its IOC members. As you know if you read the newspapers on the weekend, there is more to come this December.

My role as Ontario Olympics Commissioner is to ensure that the talented people in our diverse communities mobilize the varied and rich resources in our province. I look forward to continue to work with all Ontarians as we proceed with this unique undertaking. To me, the goal is worthy. The winning of the bid is well within our ability and I believe we can organize and deliver the best Olympics of all time.

Before I close, I'd like to run down a little chronological order of events that are about to take place in the city of Toronto and indeed in the greater Toronto area. I'm not too sure what day, this week or possibly early next week-as you know, the mayor of Toronto has once again outlined a vision of his own for the city's waterfront. I believe he's calling a meeting together again to undertake that exercise but this time the Premier of Ontario and, it is my understanding, the Prime Minister of Canada will stand with the mayor to deal with the vision of Toronto's waterfront. The Olympics will only be one vital part of that exercise.

After that falls into place, after, as you may appreciate, much planning, there will be another announcement made by the Toronto bid group. They will be announcing, if you will, the dream Olympics sites, the venues and places where they feel these sites would best be placed. I may tell you in the House today that I'm not exactly aware of where they're all going, and it is not a function of my office to direct that. But I can tell you that we will be making considerable input to it after the announcement. We will not, as a representative of this House, stand idly by and, with all due respect to the organizers, let them dictate where the venues must go.

As you can appreciate, there will be a great deal of debate. I for one question the selection of the so-called eastern port lands as the focus for the games. I'm more interested, from my point of view, in land that's already owned by the public, whether by the city of Toronto or the province of Ontario, and I feel that the CNE and Ontario Place and, if you will, the convention centre, the trade centre and SkyDome are admirably suited to be used for the Olympic Games.

When that debate takes place, then there will be another period of time when a thorough costing will be done on the presentation of the games, again by the bid organizers. Only after that and considerable negotiation will I be recommending to the Premier and to the cabinet, and through them to this House, that the guarantee be undertaken.

I will continue to report to you as often as I can, and I appreciate the all-party support last December for what we're trying to do.

The Acting Speaker: It being 6, this House stands adjourned until 6:45 this evening.

The House adjourned at 1757.

Evening meeting reported in volume B.