36e législature, 1re session

L021 - Thu 2 Nov 1995 / Jeu 2 Nov 1995






































































The House met at 1003.




Mr Christopherson moved private member's notice of motion number 3:

Whereas it is important for the provincial government to work in partnership with communities across Ontario to provide the infrastructure and economic opportunities necessary for job creation, and

Whereas the previous New Democratic government invested in the economic future of Hamilton by committing $5 million for the creation of a cultural industry strategy, and a further $5 million for the revitalization of Barton Street; both of which would have created jobs and supported the expansion of Hamilton's important culture and arts industry, and

Whereas the saving and rehabilitation of the 71-year-old landmark "Lister Block" building would have saved an important part of Hamilton's heritage, created jobs and injected much needed economic stimulation into our downtown core, and

Whereas Hamilton's McMaster University would have become the home to North America's first United Nations University for the Environment, with a $5-million provincial investment matched by federal funds, and

Whereas Hamilton was scheduled to receive more than 1,000 units of non-profit housing, which would have created jobs and provided affordable housing for Hamilton's most vulnerable citizens, and

Whereas these economic initiatives were identified as priorities by local government and the community itself,

Therefore be it resolved that the Progressive Conservative government admit the serious damage it has caused to Hamilton's economic future by cancelling these critical economic initiatives and that full funding be restored immediately.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Christopherson has moved ballot item number 3. The member for Hamilton Centre has 10 minutes.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I am pleased today to be able to place some of Hamilton's most important economic issues at centre stage here in this Ontario Legislature.

Our government had worked very hard and in close partnership with local government and the community to ensure that throughout the recession and indeed into the future our local economy remained strong and viable and that we would be able to provide the kinds of jobs and economic growth that Hamilton needs if we're to remain the kind of community we've been for oh so very long.

One of the first projects this government cancelled was the Barton Street revitalization project, as well as the cultural industry strategy, which would have had the effect of putting $5 million into an important part of our community on Barton Street which had fallen on difficult times throughout the recession. We took our lead from the local government's plans for revitalizing the local economy -- Vision 2020, the Renaissance project -- and we worked with the local community to identify how we could bring back the pride that the people in the Barton Street area had for that important part of our downtown, as well as investing in one of the growing areas in our local economy, and that is the cultural and arts community.

Hamilton has a very distinctive cultural and arts community, separate and apart from anything happening here in Toronto or in fact anywhere else in the country. That was identified by local leaders, and we responded to that particular initiative by working with the local community to invest in the community.

This was not giveaway money, these were not make-work projects; this was a serious investment in the future of our local economy and ensuring that Hamilton survived in the future. That was a major project for which the community was pleased to receive support from this government, because it can't do it alone. Local governments can't do it alone. Senior levels of government have an obligation to work in partnership, to assist local communities and local government in making sure that local economies survive.

That's been killed. They killed that. Not only did they kill that future project, but they reached inside and took out $1.1 million that was already in the bank. They took that out and said, "You can't have any of that, none of it." Now the people on Barton Street and those important citizens in our cultural and arts community are left out in the cold. This government has not responded to their needs or to their situation at all, and I see no indication that it's about to reach out.

The Lister Block, another major part of the heritage of our downtown core: Mayor Bob Morrow, along with Alderman Bill McCulloch, the dean of Hamilton city council, worked tirelessly with then Housing Minister Richard Allen to find a way to save that building, to preserve our heritage, but also to provide jobs and provide an opportunity for people to move into the downtown core, which has been identified as an important part of the revival of our downtown core. It is in serious trouble, much like many of the older communities across this province.

That was a project that would have created jobs, would have provided economic stimulation in our downtown and, again, would have saved an important part of our cultural heritage in Hamilton. We're very proud, as Hamiltonians, of our history. This vital project was put on the chopping block and killed. Before this Legislature even sat, the government announced and pronounced from on high that this project was gone, and it looks like we're going to lose it.


The United Nations University for the Environment: Here was a unique opportunity, not just for Hamiltonians but all Ontarians, because it would have been the very first United Nations university on the study of the environment in all of North America. Again, we worked with the community, we worked with the university, we provided $5 million and the federal government agreed to put $5 million in, to allow that United Nations university to come to this country, to come to this province and to come to my home town of Hamilton -- and they killed it.

They killed it. They said, "That's not important; the bottom line is the only thing that matters." They didn't care about the fact that the environment and dealing with the environment is one of the critical growth areas for jobs and economic stimulation.

That's the rub. All of these initiatives create jobs and they create economic stimulation. This government has replaced it with nothing -- nothing. They've just killed them and said: "They're not important enough to fund. Hamilton, you're cut adrift. You're out there on your own."

I know that the president of the university, the soon-to-be-installed president, Peter George, expressed his disappointment. People are scrambling now trying to save it, but without the provincial government being there, the federal $5 million is not going to be there, and it's very much in doubt whether or not we will have that United Nations university.

Non-profit housing: Something this government dislikes, disapproves of, bordering on hate with a passion, because it goes against their hard-line ideology of how the world ought to work. The reality is that the non-profit housing that was built in Hamilton during the recession gave hundreds, if not thousands, of construction workers jobs during the darkest days of the recession that they otherwise would not have had. It also ensured that the most vulnerable in our community had hope, had a home, had a future. We're talking about families and we're talking about children.

The investment in non-profit housing in my community of Hamilton and across Ontario has been a benefit to the people of Ontario. This government has killed all of them, all those projects.

The francophone community had worked so hard for years, volunteering their efforts to make sure they could provide the kind of housing that community needed. Harmony Non-profit Homes was affected, Brothers of the Good Shepherd, Spallacci Construction, and the list goes on and on. Paula Randazzo has worked so hard in our community to make sure that there were linkages between labour, workers who needed jobs, construction activity that was needed in our community, and the provision of non-profit housing. All of that is gone.

I note that the government now takes great pride in participating in the infrastructure announcements. I see the copies of the news releases come out with the quotes from the Tory MPPs about how proud they are to be here and participate in a partnership and provide jobs and economic stimulation. If they had been the government during the times of the negotiation with the federal government on infrastructure projects, none of that would have happened. None of that would have happened, yet they proudly go out there and cut the ribbons and take the credit for the benefit this investment provided in our community.

They would have said no to the waterfront project, a $10-million project that enhanced the quality of life of Hamiltonians. It's a wonderful feeling to go down there on a summer day and see the families and the children and the seniors and people enjoying our waterfront.


Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Oh, come on, David. I was part of that. It did happen. Not true -- shame.

Mr Christopherson: You would not have funded that. You would have said you couldn't find the money. We did because it's important that communities be preserved and that we invest in the people of Ontario.

Mr Sampson: Oh, give your head a shake.

Mr Christopherson: The backbenchers of the government can howl and yap away, but the fact of the matter is that that's an important project, as is the GO station investment, $16 million; $64 million for the courthouse project.

This is community, and you seem to have failed to understand that, that Ontario is about communities. It's about people. It's about jobs. It's about hope. You think it's all a balance sheet. You want to make sure you can give your wealthy friends a nice tax break so you can get re-elected, and you've turned your back on communities. You've turned your back on communities and that's the wrong kind of approach. There's no vision to that.

Hamilton needs the cooperation and support and partnership of senior levels of government. We did our best to make sure those partnerships were there to provide jobs and economic stimulation, and this government has cut all those initiatives and hurt that community. Ask regional chairman Terry Cooke how much those projects have hurt. He's a Tory and he'll tell you that this is not the way to build a community for the future.

I call on the government to admit the serious damage it is doing and restore that funding immediately and give my community of Hamilton hope for the future.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I'm pleased to speak to this resolution today. I have to tell you that when I first read the resolution I was quite surprised. To let the members of this House understand my feelings on this, I'd like to take them back in history just a little bit, if you'll bear with me.

Let's go back to 1990. There was a provincial election and all six Hamilton-Wentworth members were elected from the NDP. All six members became part of that government, and in fact four of them became cabinet ministers. The very first thing they did for the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, without consultation, with no discussions, indeed not even a whisper to the community: They cancelled the funding to the major economic project in the Hamilton-Wentworth region, the project called the Red Hill Creek Expressway. They claimed it was because of environmental reasons. They claimed it would destroy the valley.

The community was stunned, the community was in disbelief, and today they still have not recovered from that decision. Some $25 million had already been spent on that project, an interchange had begun, property was purchased, development was on the horizon, but everything stopped. Nothing happened in Hamilton-Wentworth. Too bad that in 1990 the member didn't believe in the concept of partnership and consultation. It's too bad he didn't believe in sitting down with local politicians and the community to talk about that project.

But let's move forward, let's go to 1994. There's another election on the horizon. The project indeed had not died, as they wished it had. In fact, it was alive and well. So what did they decide to do? An election was on the horizon and they knew they had to do something in Hamilton-Wentworth -- they needed the votes -- so they came up with this grandiose scheme, to buy acceptance, of a new, NDP-tailored roadway. It didn't satisfy the needs of the community, but it just might provide them with enough votes for re-election.

The roadway, instead of a six-lane, became a four-lane. It had stoplights all the way along; it was no longer an expressway. It was a road similar to Bay Street or Yonge Street in Toronto. You might be able to associate that a little better than Fennell or Mohawk in Hamilton. It destroyed a residential neighbourhood. It cost far more money than the original concept cost, but they took that money from our road and they divvied it up into all these other projects: the Barton Street revitalization, $5 million; the community and cultural centre, another $5 million; the Lister Block; the UN university, for which they never really promised the money but promised the concept of the university.

I find paragraph 6 of this resolution particularly offensive, where he says, "These economic initiatives were identified as priorities by local government and the community itself." The reality is that the Red Hill Creek Expressway has been identified for over 30 years as the most significant, important economic project in Hamilton-Wentworth, and it still is to this day.

I would love to spend $5 million on Barton Street. I'd love to spend $5 million on the arts and cultural community. I'd love to save the Lister Block and I'd love to have the United Nations university at McMaster. But the reality is that we don't have the money, and we didn't have the money then.

The previous government did not care about deficit financing and debt. They didn't care about not having the money, because guess what? They could just borrow it. Well, we do care. We care about growth and opportunity. We have the responsibility to act responsibly, we believe in partnership with communities across Ontario and we will work with the community in Hamilton-Wentworth to ensure that we sit down and talk with them about their priorities and we get the economic situation in Hamilton-Wentworth turned around with the private sector, the community and the government.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise in support of the resolution by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre. I think when you look at the amount of damage that has been done to the region, I guess it all started probably on June 8. For the first time since 1970, Hamilton-Wentworth has not had a cabinet minister in the government of the day. When it was a Conservative government under Bill Davis, there was cabinet representation; when it was a Liberal government under David Peterson, there was cabinet representation; and when it was an NDP government under Bob Rae, there was cabinet representation.

We were neglected right from day one. The reality is that the decisions are made at the cabinet table. The reality is that there is no voice for Hamilton-Wentworth at the cabinet table. The closest we have is a junior minister from Burlington who has often shown his disdain for Hamilton-Wentworth. That is the best we can do.

I've always believed that the role of local members, yes, it's to represent their party, yes, it's to work on behalf of their party, but most of all it is to work on behalf of the community they represent. The responsibility of local members is to fight and fight and fight against any cuts, any changes that are going to hurt their local community.

I find it ironic -- and my response is not an attack on my friends from the Hamilton-Wentworth area, because on a personal level I think they're very nice, very kind individuals, and I consider them all friends. It is a question of philosophical direction. It is a question of direction, that I differ from where they're coming from as to where the region should be going. I find it ironic that my good friend the member for Hamilton West talks about the expressway with such self-righteousness. Yes, the NDP scrapped that project, yes, they devastated the region, and they paid the political price for that on June 8.

But this government, what did it do? This government decided that it wasn't going to scrap it, it was just going to delay it; $13.5 million cut out of the Red Hill Creek Expressway. The first decision they made as a government was to cut $13.5 million out of the expressway in 1995. To me, Mike Harris looks like Bob Rae in a blue suit. They cut it; you guys just delayed it. What does that say about economic development? What does that say about cutting $13.5 million out of a project that you had committed to?

Mike Harris went on and on during the campaign about how important this project was to Hamilton-Wentworth, how they were committed to it; committed until the point that you became the government of the day, and then the first thing you did was cut $13.5 million out of this year's funding for the project. Where is that commitment? Was that just pre-election rhetoric? Was that just what you wanted people to hear?

The reality is you have not delivered. You have failed miserably in delivering on the expressway. The people of Hamilton-Wentworth will be looking to see if Mr Palladini will keep his word, if the minister will reinstate the 1995 funding in 1996, as he said he would, or are we going to simply just delay the project further and further and further along?

The infrastructure programs that have been talked about, the airport link, the Highway 6 extension: another casualty of Hamilton-Wentworth, another casualty of this government; a project that had been approved, a project that would have been vital to the airport in Hamilton-Wentworth, a project that would have provided that transportation link that is needed to ensure that the Hamilton airport grows and flourishes and becomes the hub that we want it to be because it's going to create thousands of jobs.

What this government doesn't understand is that every time you cut out of a project, every time you cut out of infrastructure, you're cutting jobs -- exactly what you ran on. You committed yourself to creating jobs. This is a government that was going to create 725,000 jobs over the next four years of the life of this government.

In your first five months you have cut thousands and thousands of jobs out of projects in Hamilton-Wentworth. You don't realize that when you cut the Red Hill Creek Expressway funding, you're cutting jobs. You don't realize that when you cut the Highway 403 link, you're cutting jobs. You don't realize that when you're cutting social service agencies, you are cutting jobs.

There's a correlation there. The money doesn't just get sucked up somewhere. It goes into jobs, it goes to people's homes and mortgages, it goes to buying houses and fridges, things that you want people to do in this province.

I don't understand how a government that has four members out of six -- we have four members on the government side of the House from Hamilton-Wentworth. I challenge my friends when they get their turn to speak: What positive beneficial decisions has this government made in its first five months to benefit Hamilton-Wentworth? I'd like to see one positive decision.


Mr Agostino: Yes, my friends keep talking about a tax cut. The Tory backbenchers keep screaming about how there's a 30% tax cut and they keep talking about borrowed money. What you fail to understand, or you know but you don't want the people of Ontario to know, is that there's only one way you're going to finance your tax cut, and that's going to be to borrow the money. It's unheard of. You are going to borrow the money in this province to finance the 30% tax cut to benefit your rich friends, and that comes at the expense of projects like the Red Hill Creek Expressway, the 403 link, the UN university in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Where is the rationale in that? Why would you cut those kinds of projects that create jobs and then go out and borrow the money to give your rich friends who make $90,000, $100,000 or $200,000 this 30% tax cut that you promised, which we now hear may be delayed or deferred?

Agencies in Hamilton-Wentworth, social service agencies, which most of the members across the floor chuckle at, 159 cuts were made to 130 agencies in Hamilton-Wentworth last July, centres such as Good Shepherd, Martha House, Big Sister Youth Services, Chedoke, Wayside House of Hamilton, Little Red Apple Pre-School, the Women's Centre of Hamilton-Wentworth.

The Common Sense Revolution -- and I read the material well and I read the literature that my friends on the Tory side of the House had put out during the election -- didn't say anything about cutting women's shelters in Hamilton-Wentworth. It didn't talk about cutting services for abused children in Hamilton-Wentworth, unless it was hidden somewhere and I missed it. It didn't talk about cutting services to children's aid societies in Hamilton-Wentworth. Yet this government, in July, cut $6.75 million from these vital community services in Hamilton-Wentworth.

The across-the-board cuts, the blind slashing that occurred, the fact that this government did not think it was important enough to do a program-by-program assessment to determine which programs were still necessary, which programs could be cut, which programs could be reduced -- they felt that they were all the same across the board, they felt that every single program deserved that 5% hit.

The commonsense -- and you like that word -- the commonsense thing would have been to take a look at the program, look at what was in place and say, "Okay, which programs can we do better, which programs can we get rid of and which do we need?" rather than just cut across the board without knowing and realizing the impact. People in my region are paying the price every single day as a result of that.

There are more funding cuts to come, we're sure. We know that there are going to be more to come in the economic statement that the minister is going to present in November. We know Hamilton-Wentworth's going to get whacked again and we know that the direct attack on the people of Hamilton-Wentworth is going to continue.

I just do not understand why our local members are not standing up and speaking out and fighting against these cuts. I understand that there's party discipline, I understand that you have to tow the line and I understand that the whip will get all excited if you dare, but I believe that we first have to represent the people who elected us, that we have to ensure that the people who elected us, that the views of the region are heard.

Yes, the opposition can do that to some extent, but we don't have access to the cabinet table, we don't have access to the government side of the House. I very much believe that the local members must put partisan politics aside when it comes to local issues and fight hard and be out there speaking out. Yes, it's risky. Yes, there's a risk in that, because by doing that you may never end up in cabinet, by doing that you may get the parliamentary assistant position taken away from you, you may get the perks taken away from you, because that is not part of what your party whip would like you to do.

But ultimately we have to remember that we don't get elected here, we don't get elected in this room, we don't get elected in this city. We get elected in our riding by the constituents we have been there to fight for, and fight on their behalf continuously.

The neglect that has occurred in this region just cannot go on and on and on. You have campaigned on job creation.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Private sector jobs.

Mr Agostino: What program, what announcement can my friends across the floor tell me about, when they have their turn in a few minutes, that has created jobs in Hamilton-Wentworth? Funding the Red Hill expressway is not public jobs, it is private sector jobs, it is construction industry. The construction industry in Hamilton-Wentworth has over a 50% unemployment rate.

Do you not feel that money is well spent? Do you not feel that $13.5 million for projects in the biggest sector, in the construction industry -- most of that money goes to wages, it goes to paying people who are working there -- good-paying, solid jobs in the region. Does the government not understand that? Does the government not understand that every time you invest a dollar in a community, the return is threefold and fourfold?

Does the government believe very much in this trickle-down, Ronald Reagan type of governing that you're talking about, this wonderful tax cut that you're going to give and then think that people are going to sit there and spend it and so on, and all those kinds of wonderful things that were supposed to happen in the United States that never happened, do you really believe that?

Do you really believe that all of these cuts that you're making to Hamilton-Wentworth, and the average middle-class income earner may benefit by $500 or $600 a year, do you believe the price to pay is worth it? Do you believe that the price to pay for the $500 tax cut that you're going to give is worth the cut that you've done to the Red Hill expressway and to the 403 and to the UN and to Barton Street and to all of the agencies and children's aid societies and services that provide help for people who need it? Do you really believe that $400 is going to be worth it?

Do you believe that the people of Hamilton-Wentworth are going to be fooled when their taxes go up next year or their services are cut? Do you believe that the people of Hamilton-Wentworth are going to buy your tax cut when they may have to pay for garbage pickup, which they now don't pay for, or their water and sewer rates may have to go up, or their recreation centre and swimming pool and skating rink fees go up to offset the oncoming cut that you're doing, to offset the downloading that you're doing?

Where is this tax cut? Do you think you're fooling people? Do you think the people who have children who go to McMaster University in Hamilton next year and their tuition fees go up don't understand it is a result of your government's actions? Do you not understand that if they pay $400 or $500 more a year to send someone to university, send a student to university, it offsets your $400 or $500 cut? Do you think you can fool people to believe that this cut is going to benefit them?

Yes, it will benefit your rich friends across the floor who make $100,000 or $150,000. They're going to love you. They're going to think this is great. What about the average steelworker, the average factory worker in Hamilton, who's going to see a very small return on one end, if you ever come through with your cut, but on the other hand is going to pay in municipal taxes, is going to pay in tuition fees, is going to pay in other services that they're now not paying for?

The downloading of services, the downloading of programs -- there's only one taxpayer, and ultimately at the municipal level those are the people, that is the level of government that is going to be forced to either dramatically cut service or dramatically increase taxes in order to make up for your perceived tax cut.

Again, your tax cut that is going to somehow benefit only the rich, your tax cut that is going to be borrowed -- and I keep forgetting that, and maybe one of the members across the floor can explain to me where the benefits of that are going to be as well, when they get up to speak, how you can justify borrowing to provide this tax cut. You're going to borrow the money at a tremendous rate, after the deficit, after the debt, in order to finance a tax cut for the very wealthy in Ontario.

There's nothing wrong with deficit reduction. There's nothing wrong with balancing the books. Fundamentally, the biggest difference between what you are trying to do and we would have done in government is that we would not try to do both at the same time. It is fiscally impossible.

There hasn't been one government in the history of this country or any jurisdiction in North America that has been able to deliver what you are talking about. Not even the Republicans, your friends in the United States -- Newt, Jesse and the rest of the boys -- not even your friends in the United States have been able to deliver what you are talking about, not even by the gutting of the services, not even by the experiments they've tried in Michigan and Louisiana and Tennessee and those other wonderful progressive states that have the best social policy in the world. Not even in those states have they been able to do what you're talking about: deliver this massive tax cut and balance the budget at the same time.

The price to pay is too high. The price to pay for what you are trying to do is too high. It is too high across this province, it is too high across Hamilton-Wentworth, and we have paid the price already. In five months, this government has inflicted more damage in Hamilton-Wentworth than five years of NDP government. You've done that in five months.

Let me tell you, there was one difference, and I haven't seen it yet: There were members of the NDP government side of the House, and at times in the last session I didn't agree often with my colleagues on the NDP side of the House -- I didn't agree often with my friend the member for Hamilton Centre -- but, man, there were times when they had the guts to speak out, and speak out on behalf of the community they represented. That's what local representation is all about.

I urge my friends from Hamilton-Wentworth: Lose the chains. Untie yourselves from the party discipline and the whips that tell you that you must go along and agree with every single decision that is made, regardless of how damaging it is to your region. Speak out on behalf of the people you represent.

Ask your constituents in Hamilton-Wentworth if they want this $13.5-million cut to the Red Hill expressway. Ask your constituents in Hamilton-Wentworth if they believe that the 403 extension should not go ahead. Ask your constituents in Hamilton-Wentworth if you should cut the children's aid society and the shelters and the second-stage emergency housing. Ask those questions, then stand up, come into the House and speak out on behalf of the people you represent.

Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): I am pleased to stand here today and support the resolution brought forth by my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre. It's a very good resolution and it's a good opportunity for everybody in this House to stand up and be counted and say that we are unhappy with the amount of jobs that are being lost due to cutbacks.

When I look at the resolution, they're talking about 1,000 units of non-profit housing being cancelled. Imagine the amount of construction workers that could be there working instead of collecting unemployment insurance and taking the jobs that the people on welfare would eventually get.

It's unreal to think that the Conservative government in Ontario would go ahead and make the cutbacks that it's doing to Hamilton when the local community and the local government are saying that these are the projects they need to create economic growth in the area and to help out the vulnerable people who need apartments, need places to put a roof over their heads, that it would use this method of cutting back, and all for the simple reason of wanting to give a tax break. They want to give back $5 billion to their special-interest groups out there that are already wealthy. They want to be able to give it back to them at the expense of every community.

In Cochrane North we have three non-profit housing projects that were cancelled. The need was there. The local communities decided that they had to do something for the people who needed affordable, decent housing. They had a project in Cochrane, they had a project in Hearst, they had a project in Moosonee. You're talking about 150 families that needed affordable, decent housing. The Conservative government cancelled these projects.

There are other ways of balancing budgets and raising revenue without taking the whole impact on to the poor people. My phone is ringing off the hook and saying, "How much longer are you people going to just stand there and watch the Conservatives hurt the most vulnerable people, attack them on a regular basis?"

We see the labour legislation that they brought in. Bill 7 is a job killer. It's going to kill thousands of jobs in this province because employers are not going to come and invest in this province if they're going to be encouraged by the Conservative government to bring in strikebreakers and scabs. Employers don't want that; they were happy with the legislation that the NDP government had brought in, which was creating jobs. Billions of dollars were invested in the province of Ontario. There was no reason to bring in their legislation that is legalizing scabs on the job. This is an example.

If you read the resolution, I'm sure if everybody reads the resolution, they're going to be able to support this resolution that was brought in by the member for Hamilton Centre. It says "that the Progressive Conservative government" should "admit the serious damage it has caused to Hamilton's economic future by cancelling these critical economic initiatives and that full funding be restored immediately."

Why would a government want to come in, get elected five months ago, and do so much damage that it's done in the last four or five months? It's unreal. The people of northern Ontario just can't understand why they would not want to plow the roads any more or put sanding trucks out there.

Why would they want to close nursing homes? They promised they weren't going to hurt health care, yet they're taking millions of dollars out of northern Ontario at the expense of the sick and disabled.

I could go on and on and on, but I know the member for Hamilton Centre wants more time to get his remarks on the record, looking for the support of all the people in this House on this resolution.


Mr Trevor Pettit (Hamilton Mountain): I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the honourable member for Hamilton Centre for bringing this resolution forward and giving the members of Hamilton-Wentworth region an opportunity to speak to it.

Right off the top, I'd like to address myself to the member for Hamilton East. I take exception to his self-righteous criticism of my colleague from Hamilton West. This comes from a member who himself neglected to mention how he ran municipally less than a year ago, and then some four or five months later quit to run for provincial politics and cost the city some $50,000 to $60,000. Self-righteousness.

As for the member for Hamilton Centre, I can understand the member's political motivations and the grandstanding behind them, but I still cannot find myself supporting this resolution before us today. It's pure Hollywood, and talk is very cheap when you're in opposition.

First of all, does the member not realize the financial crisis of this province, the financial crisis his government has created in the past five years? Or does he even care? Did somebody forget to tell the member for Hamilton Centre of the disastrous and looming provincial debt, and the deficits that will be a noose around the necks of Ontarians if somebody does not have the courage and foresight to bring provincial spending under control?

Deficits have increased dramatically in the 1990s: $10.6 billion in 1995. That's $10.6 billion. Ontario's indebtedness has spiralled upward. It is currently around $97.4 billion, almost a $100-billion debt.

But what is even scarier is the money we are spending to finance the interest on this public debt. Public debt interest for 1995-96, as of July, was $8.8 billion. What does that mean? Well, let's put it in perspective. Public debt interest for 1995-96 is nearly 20% of the revenues of this province.

The interest we are paying is having very negative impacts on the province. Public debt interest is crowding out funding for programs and services, programs and services that we as Ontarians and Hamiltonians want and need. Out of every dollar spent on programs and services, we are paying nearly 16 cents of this to public debt interest. Ten years ago, we were only paying less than four cents.

I'm telling you, this upward trend is a recipe for disaster, yet the member for Hamilton Centre would have us keep spending more and more and more. They are spenders by nature, spending money we do not have. Make no mistake, that is exactly what he is suggesting. This doesn't make any sense to me. Has the member not even seen these numbers? Can he not comprehend the impact on the province, given these numbers? I'm not that old, but I remember a time when both Liberals and socialists would be generous with their own money, not the public's.

Let me make myself clear: I am not, nor is this government, against the principles of the projects in question, but the reality is, we don't have the money for all these projects. We don't have the money that the former NDP government has promised. We cannot continue to borrow and spend. All communities -- I repeat, all communities -- are having to deal with some cuts. We've had to make very tough decisions in order to begin the process of improving the government's fiscal situation. However, we as Hamiltonians must do our part for the betterment of the province.

Let me make something else clear: This is not about which politician at Queen's Park can get the most for his local supporters. What is at stake is much greater. This is about fiscal responsibility and dealing with the real macroeconomic issues that, if left unattended, will bring us to a state where there will be no social and infrastructure programs.

This is about fiscal responsibility so that we can protect core services such as health care, education and police services well into the future.

This is about fiscal responsibility so that we can foster an environment that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth that will ultimately help Hamilton's and Hamilton Mountain's economic future.

This is about fiscal responsibility so that there will be a bright and prosperous future for us and our children in Hamilton.

This is not about spend, spend, spend, spend some more, even if we do not have the money. That road will bring this province to its knees. This is about fiscal responsibility. The province requires it, the people of Ontario require it, the people of Hamilton Mountain require it, and the rest of the people of Hamilton require it.

To conclude, I end with a quote, borrowing from Eldridge Cleaver, an American author and political activist: "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem." I would ask the member for Hamilton Centre to help us in our attempt, not hinder us, in bringing this province's spending crisis under control so that we can get on with the business of creating long-term employment and stability for the people of Hamilton Mountain and all Hamiltonians.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I am the representative of Wentworth East, which is one of the Hamilton-area ridings. Mine is a community that elected me as part of the Mike Harris team, a team with a mandate to change the way of the past 10 years of NDP and Liberal governments. A major part of this change includes the elimination of job-killing legislation and getting our fiscal house in order.

For the past 10 years, the people and businesses of this province have been frustrated with governments constantly meddling in their affairs. We have had over 10 years of increased taxes, 10 years of increased paperwork, 10 years of increased spending, 10 years of increased regulation, 10 years of increased intervention. With all these increases, one would have thought that perhaps unemployment would have decreased, but it didn't. It increased as well.

What's been the result of all these policies? It's been a deficit of $10.6 billion, unemployment over 9%, and one of the most uncompetitive and overtaxed jurisdictions in all of North America. This is not Alabama; it's Ontario. There is no way we should be in that situation.

I will tell all members that we cannot support this resolution, because we have other priorities rather than commitments to projects that do nothing to create long-term jobs in Hamilton-Wentworth. We need long-term jobs there and throughout the province.

If our government does not get its fiscal house in order, if we do not reduce taxes and we do not ease the regulatory burden on business, especially small and medium-size business, then that puts social and infrastructure programs entirely in jeopardy, completely in jeopardy.

It is also a question of learning to spend in a smarter fashion. With what money is available, we must re-evaluate our spending priorities.

One such priority is our government's commitment to build the Red Hill Creek Expressway. Despite what the member across the way said, there has been no cut in funding. There has been a deferral. There were deferrals in cuts right across the province of Ontario -- deferral. The money will be there. This highway has been seen for over 30 years as an integral component of opening up our region for business. This transportation corridor will not only serve residents of our community, but will also be a very attractive and integral component of the Hamilton-Wentworth business climate.

We've been honest with the people of this province. We have said, and we have been shown, that re-evaluating priorities and making changes isn't easy. We knew this before we began, and we face it every day. It isn't easy. However, altering the status quo is what we were elected to do.

The people of this great province have asked us -- well, they haven't asked us; they've demanded from us -- that we stop ignoring this problem. For too long that was the government prescription: Keep the problem going.

Let's look closely at some of the supposed job creation strategies of the previous government. First of all, there were handouts. Then there were handouts. Then there were handouts. It was like Old MacDonald's farm: a handout here, a handout there, here a handout, there a handout, everywhere a handout. That's what it was. It was stated that handouts to different groups of every kind would support the expansion of employment in Ontario. Frankly, if such programs cannot be supported by the citizens of the community, as an example, I do not believe it is the responsibility of government to pay for every ticket to ensure a full house yet be the only spectator at the event.


Economic revitalization does not occur by taxing more, spending more and reducing disposable income. We are trying, for the first time in 10 years, to create jobs by letting the average worker keep their own money and spend it themselves. Don't give it to the government: "Here, government, take our money. You spend our money. We do a lousy job of it." It's governments that do a lousy job of spending money.

The pet projects of days past are over. They're over. Today the question we must ask should be, do the people of Ontario want their taxes to go up by X amount of dollars in order to pay for these projects? The answer clearly is no. The message was clear this past election when the people of this province gave our government the mandate to control spending, reduce our deficit and create long-term private sector jobs.

Mr Christopherson: I would like to first of all thank my colleague from Cochrane North for his comments and his support and understanding for the importance of these projects to my home town.

I also want to thank my colleague from Hamilton East for his support. One thing the honourable member for Hamilton East and I agree on is the fact that the tradition in Hamilton after an election is over that aldermen, councillors, MPPs and MPs work together for our community is one we want to carry on and one that has benefited Hamilton. Quite frankly, given our proximity to Toronto and the broader Metro area, if we didn't have that kind of cooperation and work between the elected representatives at all levels and from all parties, Hamilton would never be heard. I support that tradition that he enunciated and I urge our new colleagues in the Tory caucus to follow that example.

I want to say to the government opposite that it's too bad we didn't have an opportunity to have this kind of debate around your anti-worker Bill 7, because what happens is that the people of Ontario, through the coverage on TV of these proceedings, get an opportunity to hear different visions of Ontario and to understand competing ideas. As angry as I get and as frustrated as I get, I respect the fact that there are different points of view and different ideas and different visions. What I find unacceptable and absolutely disgusting is when a government shuts down that democratic process and does not allow the different ideas to be enunciated and share those ideas and let the people judge for themselves.

I want to say that the vision the government puts forward is not new. We've seen this before. R.B. Bennett was a Prime Minister, a Tory Prime Minister, during the Depression. Read your history, folks. His theme throughout that Depression was that balancing the budget was the most important thing -- not that it was important, on which we all agree, but that it was the most important thing. And as workers were put out of work, they went into work camps as children literally starved, as workers rode the rails trying to find work --


Mr Christopherson: Well, listen to the Tory back benches moan and groan and laugh and do what they will. They have no comprehension of what happens to working people during a depression and during a recession and, quite frankly, they don't seem to care what happens.

R.B. Bennett rode through the Depression and said, "We can't afford to help those unemployed workers because we have to continue to balance the budget." What is his reputation in history? How is he viewed in history, in the historical context? Ultimately, the people of Canada did elect a government that said there needs to be an investment in people, in communities, and they started to recognize that if Canada were to survive, there had to be cooperation and partnership. Yes, that meant spending some money, but it put people back to work: people who pay taxes, people who could provide for their families and people who could invest themselves in a community, rather than being cut loose.

Mitch Hepburn was another example, that great Liberal Premier who attacked the labour movement and said that unions will not come into Ontario because they're some kind of evil force. Mitch Hepburn left a legacy that most people do not accept as one we want to see again, yet here's this government in the midst of the recession -- granted, we're starting to come out of it, but there are still unacceptable levels of people who are unemployed.

They talk about the debt and deficit. It's fascinating to listen to them talk about the fact that you can't invest in communities because there is a deficit and we have to borrow money to maintain the deficit, but it's okay to borrow $4 billion or $5 billion to pay for your tax cut. There's not enough money to invest in Barton Street in my community; there's not enough money to bring the United Nations university to Hamilton; there's not enough money to save Lister Block; there's not enough money to provide non-profit housing and jobs. But, oh yes, there is enough money to pay for their tax cut.

That doesn't make any sense. If there truly is a deficit and debt crisis -- and I would maintain we have a problem, not a crisis. There's a difference. We know that the Minister of Education likes to create false crisis -- he said as much -- and that, I would suggest to you, is the game plan to cover everything this government is doing.

If indeed it is as you say -- I maintain it's not -- then why in heaven's name would you take that money and put it back out to your wealthy friends rather than taking that money and putting it against the debt and deficit to bring it down? Then, when we can all afford it, provide a tax cut for everybody, a fair tax cut that will benefit everybody equally, not the one you're going to give where the very wealthy will do the best and workers, as always when Tories change tax laws, will get the least. That, I would suggest with respect, is common sense.

What we're hearing over here is blind ideology, following their Common Sense Revolution book just like Mao asked everybody to following his little red book. That's what's driving this, not the interests of the people of Ontario.


Mr Christopherson: Listen to the cackles from the Tory back benches. But let's remember that it was Mulroney's Tories who brought in the GST. It was Mulroney's Tories who brought in the free trade agreement, which decimated the industrial sector in Ontario and particularly hurt my community of Hamilton-Wentworth. They're the ones who followed the high interest rate policy that economists acknowledge drove us into recession faster and deeper than necessary. And all in the name of fiscal responsibility, as if Tories are the only ones in the world who can understand economics, and the poor working grunts of the world ought to just accept the fact that, "Oh, the great Tory leaders will show us how to do this." That's been rejected in the past and it will be rejected in the future.


Mr Christopherson: It's amazing how upset they get when you touch a nerve.

I also want to talk about the Red Hill Creek Expressway. Let's talk about the Red Hill Creek Expressway. First of all, the reality -- not the myth, the reality -- is that there were no jobs lost, that there was no drop in the investment in our community, because there was an agreement to switch from the north-south, because it was in dispute, and do the east-west portion first. We got the same number of jobs and the same amount of dollars invested while that project was under way and while the north-south was in dispute. The Tories never talk about that, but that is the truth and that's the reality. Check with the regional government if you want to see the statistics, because they're there. No jobs were lost because of that.


Now let's talk about the difference of opinion on the Red Hill Creek Expressway. We said that the six-lane expressway that destroys the environment in the Red Hill Valley was not necessary in terms of the demographic shift of what had happened, in reality, in our community versus what was planned and projected 30 years ago.

There was a study done, an independent study, that said a four-lane roadway would be sufficient to meet the needs of our business and citizens for 30 years. That plan would have saved the environment. It would have enhanced the environment.

We took the $70 million that we saved and we invested that back into the very projects that I was speaking of earlier. So we would have had the transportation network, we'd have saved the environment and we'd have invested in key components of our economic future.

This government ran on a simplistic platform and said, "We're just going to stuff down that old plan, because it sounds good and we can sell it," and all the other investments in Hamilton will be gone.


The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Christopherson: That's all right, Mr Speaker. It's the backbenchers; one expects this from them. But as the member for Hamilton East said, if we had a cabinet minister, maybe we'd have somebody who could speak out for Hamilton, because these backbenchers don't seem to be doing it.

In the last couple of minutes that I have left, I want to talk about whom this government ought to be talking to in terms of these projects, because this is not just a resolution from me or just a resolution to be supported by the Liberal member for Hamilton East. This is a resolution that speaks to the future of my community, and I happen to think that's important. Whether the backbenchers of the Tory party think so or not, I do. I think it matters that Hamilton has a future.

Talk to Renee Johnston or Patty Beckett, who worked on the cultural and arts industry strategy. Talk to them, people who don't have elected office but who have a care and a compassion and a love for Hamilton that says they want to see it survive. They worked in concert with the local government to make sure that this project was brought to fruition.

Speak to Jude Johnson, who's a well-known, respected artist, a singer with a great reputation, who has put her reputation on the line to support this project. She's volunteered her time and her talent to make sure that this happened, and you killed it.

Talk to Stella Woock, Stella Woock who represents the community association in the Barton Street area. The community has come together in that area. The police have worked with them. There's community policing in there. We're very proud of our police service in Hamilton. That was a part of the partnership, and they killed that. Talk to Stella about how much the Barton Street project matters to the citizens in that area; not to your wealthy friends or the people you plan to sell off portions of this government to. Talk to the people, the real people and the real leaders.

Talk to Diane Dent of LACAC and find out the real importance of why Lister Block matters in our community, why that's an investment, not just, as one member said, a handout. "We've had to make tough decisions." No, you've made mean decisions. There's an ability to deal with the debt and deficit in a far more gradual way if you cared enough to look at that, and if you weren't trying to pay for your tax cut to your pals.

Go talk to Roger Paquette and all the people in cooperative housing, literally hundreds of community people. They're the ones who make up the community of Hamilton and Hamilton-Wentworth. They're the ones who led the charge on these initiatives and they're the ones whose hearts are broken that this government has decided to cut Hamilton adrift.

I urge members to support this resolution. Support my home town of Hamilton.

The Deputy Speaker: That completes debate on ballot item number 3.


Mr Barrett moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 11, An Act to amend the Expropriations Act and the Human Rights Code with respect to property rights /Projet de loi 11, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'expropriation et le Code des droits de la personne relativement aux droits de propriété.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Do you have some comments?

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): The purpose of this bill is to restore property rights in Ontario. I've introduced a private member's bill titled the Property Rights Statute Law Amendment Act, 1995, to protect our right to the peaceful enjoyment of our private property and strengthen compensation rights in the event our property is expropriated. The bill amends the Expropriations Act and the Human Rights Code to enhance the protection Ontario law gives to private property rights. The provisions added to the code are based on the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, Quebec.

Property rights are part of our heritage. People came to Canada and to our ridings seeking the right to own and use property, something that they often did not have the opportunity to do in their home countries. Private ownership of property and the development of that property has been a key incentive for our economic growth and prosperity.

In my riding, and across Ontario, different levels of government have found it necessary in the public interest to build railways, widen streets, establish dump sites, run hydro tower corridors and protect environmentally sensitive lands from development. Governments in Ontario have neglected to provide property owners with a fair hearing to justify infringing on their inherent right to enjoy property or with appropriate compensation for their losses.

You cannot remove the value of someone's property and at the same time offer no just compensation for their loss.

There is a strong historical tradition in the western world for protecting property rights. Property rights go back to the year 1215, the Magna Carta, the foundation of our common law in Ontario and in Canada. The recognition of property rights in the Magna Carta is very straightforward, and I quote, in part:

"No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other moveable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this."

In 1689, these rights were affirmed again in the British Bill of Rights. In 1948, Canada signed the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that no one be arbitrarily deprived of property. In 1960, the Canadian Bill of Rights also affirmed the right to the enjoyment of property.

But in 1982, the Canadian Bill of Rights was overridden by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The charter provides the right to life, liberty and security of the person but omits any mention of property rights. Can this be defended in a free and democratic society?

Rural Ontario, and my riding of Norfolk, contains undeveloped land that can be an issue for environmentalists who wish to freeze the use of property for reasons of conservation. Conservation is a worthy cause, but at what cost? Land owners receive no compensation and hence often get their back up over such initiatives.

Property rights are also important in urban Ontario, where, for example, provincially sanctioned basement apartments may infringe on the rights of adjacent property owners.

There are macro and micro planning considerations that influence legislation pertaining to property rights. Macro issues include the province's planning statements or guidelines or its own plan creation through, for example, the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act, the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, the Ontario Planning and Development Act and the Environmental Assessment Act. Micro considerations include local subdivision, site and development plans made to rationalize municipal services such as water and sewer under a provincially directed official plan.

Concern has been raised that private property rights infringed upon indirectly with official plan designations, zoning bylaws and provincial policy statements may deprive a property owner of an economically viable use of the property without any fair compensation.

There's broad consensus that property rights must be protected. Former Prime Minister Trudeau also believed, when he proposed charter entrenchment in 1981 to protect the right of the enjoyment of property, that we must respect and protect individual rights and freedoms. I would like to see us extend this belief to recognize that government should respect and protect private property rights of hardworking Ontarians.


We know that this bid for entrenchment failed, partly because of the opposition of the federal NDP. However, I would say to members of the NDP in the House that although your party has continued to pose obstacles to legislation protecting property rights, I wish to remind you that on October 15, 1991, Premier Rae had this to offer in the Legislature: "...but of course the protection of people's civil liberties, the respect for people's rights of ownership are a very important part of the Canadian tradition."

I have had a number of people ask me, "Don't we have property rights now?" The answer is a very simple no. Although we are not prohibited from buying, selling and possessing private property in Canada, we have no written protection against that right being infringed upon at some point. This causes a problem in rendering judicial decisions. Courts cannot strike down legislation that infringes on property rights as invalid because there is no statutory protection for this right in our laws.

Further, the Planning Act does not set out a process for a fair hearing to resolve any alleged infringement of property rights. Property owners must live with the uncertainty that a further means of confiscating their property indirectly through zoning changes will be done without any fair compensation being required or provided.

The Ontario Human Rights Code is Ontario's highest law. It is appropriate to begin here and protect property rights with the other civil rights that are also protected in this jurisdiction. All other laws in the province are measured against the Ontario Human Rights Code. This code protects all Ontarians from discrimination. It serves to protect those who are vulnerable in our society. We ensure by this protection that they do not have to fight legal battles that they cannot afford. Why then should we not protect those vulnerable to having their property taken, directly or indirectly, who may also not be able to fight legal battles in court?

The Ontario Human Rights Code has served to challenge all legislation, not hinder it, to ensure that it is faithful to democratic freedoms that have built our province and our country. We must extend this fundamental reality to protect property rights so that we can justify, not deny, the legislative process in Ontario.

In reference to protecting property rights for all, the Canadian Real Estate Association says such a law would protect, and I quote, "not just those with the capacity to challenge offending deprivations in the courts." Property rights protection is aimed at all Ontarians.

The Expropriations Act has no teeth and must be amended. It does provide property owners with the right, once they receive notice of intention to expropriate, to request a hearing. This hearing process is flawed, however. It is neither a judicial nor quasi-judicial process, and the decision rendered from the hearing cannot be appealed. It does not permit cases of indirect expropriation, where the extent of use and enjoyment of property has been reduced or eliminated with indirect action, to be challenged. The hearing can only determine if the expropriation is fair, sound and reasonably necessary in the achievement of the objectives of the expropriating authority, but not to review the merits of the project.

The limits of protection under the Expropriations Act become clear when one considers that expropriation hearings are carried out only at the request of the owner of land intended for expropriation. No mechanism exists within the process for hearings from adjacent land owners who may be affected by the neighbouring expropriation.

It should nowhere be part of a government's mandate to arbitrarily expropriate property without justification and fair compensation.

The Ontario Urban Development Institute has stated, and I quote again, "a freeze of the development rights amounts to no more than expropriation without any form of compensation for the affected land owners."

Again I quote: "Canadian courts have long recognized that land use regulation is not an expropriation, primarily because zoning bylaws or other planning instruments do not generally involve a taking or transfer of the full use, title or benefit of property. Therefore, if a land owner's ability to use or develop his or her property is constrained by a properly enacted zoning bylaw, the land owner is not entitled to compensation, even if the zoning bylaw results in a diminution of property value."

Ontario is virtually alone among western jurisdictions in our failure to protect property. Protection exists in the human rights codes of the Yukon, Alberta and Quebec, the United States in the Fifth Amendment, and other jurisdictions include Germany, Italy, Finland and even Sweden.

I mentioned the Canadian Real Estate Association's support. Support comes from the Ontario Real Estate Board, Ontario Urban Development Institute, Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Taxpayers Federation and OPERA, the Ontario Property and Environmental Rights Alliance.

I ask all members to support this bill. Let's send a clear message to present and future property owners of Ontario that their interests and investments are respected and protected.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): It's a pleasure to rise in my place this morning to address this bill. I would like to say to the newly elected member I congratulate him for coming forward with a private member's bill. I don't know if the people out there realize, but of course we all are very anxious, as members of the Legislature, to bring forward bills of interest and resolutions of interest to our constituents and to us personally, and the member is to be congratulated, as a newly elected member, to be that quick off the mark, because it was his turn very quickly to bring in a bill.

However, what is good about this time period is that it gives every one of us an opportunity in this House to debate a private member's resolution or bill, and that is not a right or privilege given to many legislators in the Commonwealth today. So we have a great opportunity here and I know most members take advantage of that, that on Thursday mornings two bills or resolutions have the opportunity not only to be presented and debated but also to be voted on.

It's in these Thursday morning debates that we truly come together and become legislators. I don't think in much of our job we actually are legislators. We're sort of like mini-ombudsman people solving problems for our constituents, which is noble work, but this is an opportunity we have to bring forward, as we see fit, legislation or amendments to existing legislation, and I welcome this opportunity to address this bill this morning.

This type of amendment to the Expropriations Act and the Human Rights Code has been around for many, many years. I can understand people having a sense of the collective needs of society from time to time maybe coming to the excess that maybe the property owner is losing his or her rights in society. But I think we have to be mindful of the very tenuous balance we have in society between private property rights and the collective rights of society.

I have a farm. I live on a farm and started to homestead that farm and develop it into a commercial operation 24 years ago. I understand being on the land and working on the land and so have a very strong sense of my property and being on that land and what it represents to me. Until I got this job, my land represented my income. It represented my vocation. So I have a very strong sense of self related to the land that I live on and work on as a farmer.

But I also understand that I'm just merely a tenant on that property also, that I am entrusted with the stewardship of that land, as any property owner is, whether you live in a Mississauga suburb or downtown Toronto or in rural Ontario, and as stewards of the land we must take care of it. We must obey the laws of the land that mandate us to take care of our property, because we are only temporary stewards of that land. We move on and other generations come before us. So we have to always be careful about those collective responsibilities that society has to the stewardship of land.

From time to time governments will bring in very proactive types of legislation that will either forbid us to do things on our own property or promote us to be doing things on our property.

One of those ideas I can think of that I was partly responsible for when I was Minister of Agriculture in 1989 and 1990 was the Ontario land stewardship program, where we knew that Ontario farmers at that time could do a better job of stewardship on their land, and instead of using the stick we decided to use the carrot and we offered an incentive program to seed down farm land that wasn't as productive into green crops in order to stop soil erosion, to set aside areas of our land near waterways and ditches and sloughs on our land so that we wouldn't get erosion there and protect our waterways.


Sometimes it is necessary, as we as a society learn more and more about the proper stewardship of our land, to even mandate programs such as that. I know when I first went to my farm in 1972, in Timiskaming, where I still live today, one of the first things I did was to get into the cattle business. I felt I was so blessed because my house fronts on a river and the back fields front also on a creek. I thought it was really great that I didn't have to supply some sort of pumping system in order to water my animals that were in pasture.

So I let them go down to the river bank and muddy that up, and it being the case, the clay soils that we have in the Timiskaming clay belt really did get mucked up and the rivers, the Wabi Creek, the Blanche River and the Wright Creek, are really heavily polluted. In those days farmers allowed their cattle just to go down because, "It's my property and that water is there and why not let the cattle go down."

We understand now that's not what we should be doing. We should not be treating our land that way. In fact, there certainly should be laws against that. So, even though it's my property and you would think, "Well, it's my right to be able to water my cattle any way I would see fit on my land," it really isn't. It really shouldn't be, for a farmer, the right for instance to spread manure on frozen soil during the spring or winter and you might get a rainstorm and basically that manure washes away into the waterways, eventually leading into our watershed and into our rivers.

So there always has to be a balance between property rights and the collective rights of society and what's good for the environment. As I said, a lot of it isn't the way we'd manage our land done out of malice, but sometimes just out of ignorance, because we're always learning. There was an example that I just gave where I learned how to start to be a better steward of my land, and we all can be doing that. Whether we compost in our suburban lots in the GTA or wherever we live, taking care of our land is a good thing.

I know the member talks about the Expropriations Act, and I do agree with him that obviously proper compensation must be given by the state when the state decides that it is in the common interest to expropriate. Many times -- and it is unfortunate when these conflicts come between property owners and the state -- these conflicts do arise that either a new highway needs to be put through or maybe there's a sewage plant, or some sort of public capital enterprise needs to be established in order to better the community in which we live. When that happens it's important that for sure the state, after proving its case, give due and proper compensation to the property owner. I certainly agree with the member presenting this bill here today that's very, very important that this happens.

I would just say to the member that I understand the frustration that property owners have when they run into these situations. Whether it's hydro line rights of way, other types of easement for water lines, pipelines, there are many cases where, for the common good, it is necessary for our property to be intruded upon. I know that sometimes it's very difficult to fight that, to mount a campaign to try to stop that or to ameliorate some of the potential harm that could happen when that sort of action is contemplated. I know it's difficult and I know that when I'm in a particular situation I don't want that to happen.

I will give the member a very interesting case that's currently before Ontario, and that is the desire of Metropolitan Toronto to bring its waste to an abandoned iron ore open-pit mine in an unorganized township just south of Kirkland Lake. The people there are very, very upset about this action. As property owners they're very concerned that having this absolute mega-dump by their properties is going to be lowering their property values, and I heard somebody say something about a referendum. That's exactly what I've been asking for, that the people in that area should have a referendum and should have a say.

It would be very important for that to happen --

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): They had a referendum.

Mr Ramsay: The member says, "They had a referendum," and that's true. In 1991 the people had a referendum whether they wanted to proceed with an environmental assessment, but at that time the mayor had said that if they did proceed with environmental assessment, the people, once they have all the facts, can then go back to a referendum and have a final say whether they want the project or not.

When it comes to that sort of concern about property rights and people's right to live in a type of neighbourhood that had the land use basically established, if not through zoning bylaws and official plans, which this particular area would not have because it's an unorganized township, but have land use established through tradition, through culture, through the way the land has been settled in that area, it's very important that people have the right to have a say when land use is going to be changed in a radical way. That's why we have zoning and that's why we have official plans in our organized townships: in a sense, to protect people. On my farm, if somebody next door wanted to go ahead and had complete freedom to bring in some factory or some other operation that would disrupt my way of life and what I'm doing on my land, that would be wrong.

There never should be absolute property rights given to property owners, as much as we would feel by instinct that, "Gee, I should be able to do as much as I can on my own property." That should never happen and so we try, through our legislation and through the laws that we pass here, to find that balance, to find a balance between what's there for the common good while at the same time trying to do our very, very best to protect the rights of the individual property owner.

I would say to the member that I applaud you for bringing this forward. It's something that really should always be debated, because we always should be testing our legislation, because from time to time we have gone over too far to collective rights and ignored individual rights and I think we need to bring that back into balance. But I would say in this case, when it comes to individual property rights, I think the balance we have today is not bad and I would say, let's keep it the way it is.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): I'm very pleased also to be able to participate in this debate and would congratulate the member on his ability to bring forward a bill so quickly. I understand how very hotly debated this issue of property rights has been over a long period of time, so it's good for this Legislature to have an opportunity to discuss the merits of the suggestions that the member is making and to talk about some of the concerns.

I'm pleased that the member for Timiskaming was able to talk in so clear a way about the responsibility that we have to temper the individual freedoms and rights of people with the common good, because it is extremely important for us to keep in mind, as the member suggested, that we are the stewards of the land for only the time being and that we know very well that because we have the advantage of looking back over a long history of the world, our vision of property now may be different in the future, certainly was different in the past, and that the view of property by different cultures and different civilizations has been different.

We have a very good example of that, where the first nations of this country have a very different concept of property than we do. Their concept of property is that property is held in trust by the community to future generations, that no individual owns property and that the responsibility of the community is to protect and preserve that property for the generations that are to come. So it's an issue that is fraught with a lot of different visions.

I would suggest to the member that in many ways, the suggestions that he's making about changes particularly I think to the Human Rights Code are a bit redundant, and I know he's had this suggestion before. He points out that Quebec, in its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, has sections which are similar to the sections he is suggesting for the Ontario Human Rights Code, but the member does not take into account that civil justice in Quebec is very different from the civil justice system here in Ontario.

In Quebec's civil justice system, based on the Napoleonic Code, there are no precedents. It is not based in common law. The Ontario common-law tradition and system recognizes as a principle the right to own property and many, many, many precedents line up behind that principle.

In fact, probably one of the clearest and most succinct statements is a Supreme Court of Canada hearing in Harrison v Carswell, which indicated very clearly -- it's relied on very strongly by lawyers in arguing about property issues:

"Anglo-Canadian jurisprudence has traditionally recognized, as a fundamental freedom, the right of the individual to the enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof, of any interest therein, save by due process of law."

No Ontario or federal act explicitly sets out the right of one's property, although that was certainly argued very thoroughly at the time that the Constitution was repatriated in 1982. Certainly section 26 leaves the door open, and from time to time various parties -- and one certainly hears from the Reform Party that this resolution echoes the need to include that in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


I would suggest to the member that given that we rely very heavily on a precedential system of law and that this precedent has clearly been set, it's unnecessary for us to enshrine property, because the disputes over property reside in the civil courts and that right has already been guaranteed by decisions of the Supreme Court, whose precedents obviously now are the ones we rely on on interpretation of rights. The member should also remember that Canada has signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that article 17 of that declaration protects property ownership from arbitrary deprivation.

The key here, as I think the member has clearly shown in the suggestions that he's bringing forward in terms of an inquiry, in terms of judicial review, in terms of full and fair hearings, is this issue of due process. I understand quite clearly that the member is concerned that due process is not strongly enough in favour of the person who may be deprived of the use and the enjoyment of their property.

I think that is something we should all be concerned about from day to day because we all, I think, in this House would uniformly agree that arbitrary deprivation of property is something that none of us could condone, that the arbitrariness of that is a fundamental issue in a democracy where we believe in the rule of law. So unless there is due process and unless that due process ensures that the deprivation of property is not arbitrary, I think the member would not find any disagreement in this House that we can't allow that.

I suppose the disagreement comes in the interpretation of what is arbitrary, and I think what the member is trying to do is to say, particularly with respect to the Expropriations Act, that it is arbitrary, that in fact there is not an opportunity under that act for an individual to challenge the right of the state to take over property.

I would suggest to the member that may be a valid concern. Certainly it is one that does get expressed from time to time and certainly it is the cause of great grief. I mean, we have only to look at the very large fight that took place between the residents of Pickering and the federal government over a proposed airport, a very good example, a very lengthy example of people fighting the right of government to take on property, losing that fight, then of course finding that property not used as an airport and then finding all sorts of suggestions coming forward for them to take back that property. I think those examples raise in our minds the same concern that the member has raised.

I would say to the member that it would be very interesting to see if he could get his Minister of Justice to bring forward some changes to the Expropriations Act. I think the member who, with all his party, understands the mantra of cost and that we must save costs no matter whom we hurt as a result will recognize that the sections he has put in under the Expropriations Act are extremely expensive.

The issue of having an inquiry, having a full hearing for each issue, having the possibility of judicial review of each of these expropriation issues -- it will be very interesting to hear whether the government of the day takes seriously enough the issues that the member has raised and understands those as a priority to take on that kind of cost and that kind of burden to the courts.

I would say to the member it is an enormous cost to the individual as well as to the government, and I would suggest to you that your government, like every other government, has made a determination that it is not necessarily in the best public interest that there not be a process whereby, if it is judged by the government of the day to be in the public interest, the process is streamlined, if you like.

I suggest to the member he might want to make representations to his caucus and to his cabinet and see what the response is in terms of the cost of what he is proposing and in terms of the clumsiness and the length of time it takes when governments often need to work rather quickly in the best public interest.

Having said all that, one of the real issues, and one of the issues that arose during the constitutional talks around property, is that the member is referring to property as real, tangible property -- a piece of land, a house -- property in that sense, and certainly he's right. That's the tradition in our society.

In fact, it was well expressed in the House of Lords in 1765 -- again a passage that's often referred to when we talk about this -- where the statement was made, "The great end, for which men entered into society, was to preserve their property." That certainly is very much a part of British-North American tradition, and the member is quite right about that, that the preservation of property, real, tangible property, is very much in our history.

But I would suggest, and I know it's hard for a government that tends to get stuck in the past, we've moved a little way from 1765 in our definition of "property," and our laws in Ontario take into account that property is much, much more than a piece of tangible property or a home. We've worked over many years, under many governments, to redefine "property" to include all assets, and in fact that's a very important aspect of many of the things that the members opposite are supporting with respect to some of the changes in our social systems.

Property now is expanded to mean assets that are not tangible in the sense of being a piece of property. I'll give you the example where in family law the courts have found that the asset of a professional degree or the asset of the goodwill of a business is part of the assets of a family partnership when the division of property comes up.

I would suggest to the member that it's extremely important for us to know that we have moved farther along the spectrum in terms of understanding that for many people they will not necessarily have the asset of a tangible piece of property, but there will be other assets they may have that are interpreted, and have been interpreted over many years by the court, to be assets.

I would suggest to the member that giving inviolable rights to property would certainly mean great difficulty for a government that wanted to look at assets such as service contracts or benefits or licences or any of the other assets that people may have when you are determining the worth of someone.

I know that in the human rights part of this you're clearly talking about people's homes and people's properties, but the problem is that when we make definitions we very often narrow the meaning of a word or a piece of legislation in a way that we would not very often do. I think it is very important for us to keep that in mind.

The last thing I would say is that I'm very interested in the changes to the Human Rights Code in sections 9.2 and 9.3. Section 9.2 in this bill reads simply, "A person's home is inviolable," and section 9.3, "No one may enter on another person's property or take anything from it without the person's express or implied consent."

That has grave implications for our criminal law. Unlike the section before, where the member has excepted to the extent provided by law, he does not make that exception in these two sections. I can assure the member that he would not find his own administration or any other government willing to make a blunt statement like that, given the need that our policing forces often have to intervene for the safety of others, as is the question in domestic assault, or to intervene in terms of the carrying on of criminal activities from a piece of private property.


It is extremely important for us all to recognize that if there were to be any enshrinement of private property in the Human Rights Code, both of these sections would as well have to include to the extent provided by law, particularly in a country where the criminal law is made by the federal government and it is the duty and obligation of the provincial government to enforce it.

If we were to put this blunt statement into our Human Rights Code, it would make it impossible for the Solicitor General and the Attorney General of the province to ensure that their obligation to enforce and prosecute criminal law in this province could happen.

I would suggest to the member that it is good for us always to discuss these issues and to recognize how very important they are to individuals, but to be very aware that they may seem like a simple matter, to enshrine property rights. I would suggest to the member that it's far from a simple matter and that we need far more discussion.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I too would like to congratulate the member for Norfolk in bringing this issue forward at this particular time. It's an issue that has been debated across this province and across this country for quite some time, of course, the debates as to our absolute right towards property versus the right for a government to do certain things with respect to individuals' property.

Our home is our castle. I think we all believe that and we are all concerned with governments or government agencies infringing upon our rights to hold property. We need to protect our rights and we need to ensure that governments and government agencies act responsibly with respect to any actions with respect to our property.

This debate has gone on for some time, and I must say that this particular piece of legislation that is before us is certainly a radical change to expropriation law with respect to this province or indeed any other province around the country. The Expropriations Act for the province of Ontario allows some governmental authorities to take people's land without their consents: municipalities, the provincial and federal governments, Ontario Hydro. There are about 100 expropriation proceedings, as I understand it, going on around the province of Ontario, whether it be for sewers, roads, widening of highways; there are all kinds of things.

I must say I agree with the member for London Centre that this piece of legislation, if it were passed in the form that it is -- I support the member in his honest belief that we need to protect our homes, our properties. I don't want to repeat the member for London Centre, who put it very well, but I agree with her comments with respect to section 9.2: "A person's home is inviolable"; it's sacred. If that section were followed with respect to our laws today, it would probably mean that for a government or a government agency, whether it be for the widening of highways, creating a new road or a sewer, it would make it legally impossible to do those sorts of things.

I don't think that's the intent of the member's bill, and it may well be that further studies should be done with respect to expropriation. Expropriation has been considered by the British Columbia Law Reform Commission in 1971. It was considered by the Canada Law Reform Commission in 1976. The Ontario Law Reform Commission has never studied it, and it may well be that the member's raising it this time would be a suggestion to our government to recommend that it be studied.

But the law today provides that land cannot be expropriated without fair compensation. That compensation can be determined by the Ontario Municipal Board after a fair hearing. The owner of a target property can bring experts to be represented by counsel. I will say that the equal balance that has been mentioned by the previous two speakers, in my view, will be broken with respect to this law.

The first provision in the bill certainly is a radical change to expropriation law. At present, the control over expropriating for an improper purpose is political; that is, public debate and eventual re-election or not. In other words, if something happens -- the IWA is a prime example. The NDP government was thrown out in those areas for its actions with respect to attempting expropriation.

The whole issue of costs and the whole issue of fair hearing: If what is being suggested by this bill was followed through with this bill, the cost would be unbelievable, the cost of lawyers, the cost of legal proceedings and quite frankly the whole decision of decisions being made by the courts. Many of us are concerned with the decisions that are made by the courts with respect to charter decisions. We wonder, "Good heavens, what are these decisions that are being made?"

So the whole radical change needs to be reviewed. Although I applaud the member for Norfolk in bringing this forward at this time, I think it would be more appropriate, as the member for London Centre has stated, to study in more detail some of the implications that he has put forward.

Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I would like to congratulate the member for Norfolk for bringing to our attention this very important bill. I would like to ask him to give me more details, especially on the Expropriations Act. I've been involved in -- what? -- five different expropriations in the province of Ontario in my own municipality when I was mayor, and I want to tell you that it's a very costly process.

I would like your bill, or your motion, to bring about a more accessible process for the simple reason that, as was mentioned before, people who are being expropriated of their property do have an opportunity to go before the Ontario Municipal Board and have their expertise given to the OMB -- and also their lawyers.

I'm sure the member will agree with me that this is the most expensive process, and people are very concerned about the Expropriations Act and also about the OMB. As you know, municipalities are forever challenging the OMB, and people are forever challenging the OMB. But some people and some municipalities are simply shying away from challenging the OMB or challenging municipalities because it's a very costly process.

You talk about full and fair hearings and compensation. I agree with you that people should be fairly compensated, because after all it is your property, and you should be compensated justly.

On part I.1, "Property Rights," of your bill, section 9.3:

"Respect for private property

"9.3 No one may enter on another person's property or take anything from it without the person's express or implied consent."

I had the opportunity to sit on the standing committee on general government last year when we considered Bill 120, which we referred to as the basement apartment bill. I want to remind you that building inspectors, fire prevention people and especially municipalities wanted free access to your basement apartment so that we could -- or have the government which introduced the bill -- have access to these apartments and make them safer. But the government's bill was a little different than we expected. They wanted people automatically with basement apartments to be considered as legal apartments. This is why we opposed the bill.

I want to ask the member, before I stand and vote for your bill, could you amplify or give me more information on section 9.3 of the property rights part of your bill and also tell me how the Expropriations Act can be amended to make it more accessible to every citizen in the province of Ontario?


Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): It's with great pleasure that I rise in the House today in support of the member for Norfolk's Bill 11. The need for such a bill has never been more apparent with the advent of legislation such as Bill 163. Unfortunately, under the current system the rights of property owners are in jeopardy.

Although I am a firm believer in protecting our environment, I also believe that this protection must be balanced with the rights of property owners to peacefully enjoy their property or to be compensated fairly for it.

In my riding, the issue of property rights is close to the hearts of many of my constituents. Largely this riding is a rural one, and the land that is owned is the means by which many make their living. Over the years the rights of property owners have been at risk. The concern that I have is that if left unchecked, the frequency of these incidents will increase.

It can be argued that Bill 163 has provided for the expansion of provincial interests in areas of land use planning. This stems from the new requirements the law prescribes that municipalities shall adopt planning policies consistent with provincial policy statements. As a result, substantial restrictions are placed on municipalities when developing their official plans. This, in turn, affects the individual property owners, who under the current system have little recourse when they feel that their rights are being infringed.

One of many examples of provincial policy statements that impact a property owner is known as areas of natural and scientific interest, or ANSIs. This term is used by the Ministry of Natural Resources to describe areas, both public and private, that it deems to contain important natural landscapes.

The ANSI program is not covered under any ministry legislation, nor is it mentioned in the Planning Act. Instead, MNR developed a policy plan that has a substantial impact on both municipalities and property owners but is not entrenched in legislation.

This is not to say that conservation programs do not have merit. I do believe, however, that if policies such as the ANSI program are to continue, there must also be a definitive method by which those who are being affected can state their case.

I know that many of my constituents are frustrated with the current system or lack thereof. Living in this great province, enjoying the many freedoms that we do, it would seem obvious that the property rights of law-abiding citizens would be firmly protected. This, however, is not the case.

There is no statute in this province that protects what many believe is a fundamental right. By amending the Human Rights Code and the Expropriations Act, what Bill 11 strives to do is secure protection of private property rights and ensure that objections and compensation issues can be fairly dealt with.

I believe that the time for this kind of legislation is long overdue. In rural Ontario and across this province, the Ontario government has a key role to play in protecting the property rights of its citizens. Bill 11 will help to ensure that this happens.

Mr Bill Vankoughnet (Frontenac-Addington): I would certainly like to take this brief opportunity to congratulate the member for Norfolk on his support for the right of our people to the peaceful enjoyment of private property and compensation in case of expropriation.

There is certainly a fine line between individual rights versus the collective good in our communities. As an example, I just want to state that property rights are really a part of our heritage, especially along the Loyalist Parkway just west of Kingston. Our Loyalist ancestors were granted land in 1784, after adhering to the loyalty of the crown at the time of the American Revolution.

I find it frustrating that both provincially and federally Ontarians lack solid protection when it comes to the peaceful use and enjoyment of their property. It is in keeping with the spirit of our party that we protect the individual by upholding his or her right to the full enjoyment and usage of property.

A case in point relates to one of my constituents, who was interested in severing his land for sale to a potential buyer. When attempting to fill out the application for severance, this citizen, needless to say, was shocked and outraged when he discovered that the land was designated, without his prior knowledge, as an area of natural and scientific interest. We don't even know if this was an official ANSI designation or the work of some bureaucrat at the local level who just felt it should have been categorized as such. Here we have a situation where an individual's rights have been obstructed in trying to profit from an economically viable use of his private property, not to mention the inconvenience of the potential buyer.

In the riding of Frontenac-Addington, many of my constituents earn their livelihood and living from the land that their ancestors have worked for generations. The land has belonged to their families for several decades, some going back as far as the 1700s and early 1800s. The land represents to those people what Canada is all about: freedom and an opportunity and the chance to savour the fruits of one's labour.

This form of private property can also be affected by laws that favour the government's agenda instead of individual rights. If part of a property has been set aside by the Ministry of Natural Resources as a wetland or as an area of natural scientific interest without their knowledge or an opportunity to appeal, which I feel is very, very important, then an individual's right to enjoy and prosper from this property has been severely infringed.

Further to the agricultural interests in my riding, constituents are also quite concerned with the uses of abandoned railway rights of way. Many of these abandoned stretches of land cut through the private property of many agricultural and individual land owners. The majority feel their private property should be protected by having the land in question offered to them first when it is put up for sale. Certainly the land is offered to all levels of government first, before adjacent land owners have an opportunity to make an offer. Giving the land owners first opportunity to buy would give them a chance to ensure that trespassing, vandalism and littering would be non-existent. Also, the land owner can protect the integrity of his or her land through drainage, fencing and such things as weed control.

Another area encompassed by the issue of private or personal property is the issue of gun control. Through federal legislation, Bill C-68, hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners will be forced to open their homes, their private property, to police inspection. If there is a minor infraction of the convoluted storage laws, for example, the inspection can be turned into a virtual ransacking of that private home. Under the bill, a gun can also be confiscated on the death of an owner. Current laws seem to promote unwarranted entry into the private dwellings of law-abiding citizens and confiscation of their private property.

Surely this cannot be supported in a democracy such as ours here in this province, in this country today. Private property is not as fully protected under current laws as we would like to see them. This is why this bill today is so important, that we have an opportunity to further the fundamental cornerstone of our society. It is a part of what makes this country great, what has attracted people from all corners of the world to this province and to this great country. Giving the protection it deserves under the law is very important, and I look forward to supporting this bill and the principles it entails.

The Deputy Speaker: The Chair recognizes the member for Norfolk, who has two minutes.

Mr Barrett: I would like to thank the honourable members from both sides of the House for their valuable input. I appreciate the comments of the Liberal member for Timiskaming and the NDP member for London Centre.

I agree, we must be stewards of the land we own. I also have a creek on my clay loam farm, and in my view, enhanced property rights will better enable me to deal with farmers upstream.

I've stated property rights are an inherent right, a fundamental right that dates back in written law to the Magna Carta of 1215, the cornerstone of our common law. In 1960, the Canadian Bill of Rights also affirmed the right to the enjoyment of property, but in 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms omitted any mention of property rights.

Ontarians do not now have sound protection for their right to peacefully use and enjoy their private property. This has serious implications for both urban and rural ridings, such as mine in Norfolk.

Under section 92 of the British North America Act, each province has the exclusive powers to make laws in relation to property and civil rights in the province. The protection of our inherent property rights in a free and democratic society must ensure that we are not deprived of those rights without legal, fair and just compensation.

In seeking support for private member's Bill 11, the Property Rights Statute Law Amendment Act, 1995, I would pose one question to the members at this time: Do you believe on a fundamental level that a society has an obligation to protect the rights of its citizens to use and enjoy their private property within the limits prescribed by law?

I truly believe, as former Prime Minister Trudeau did, that we must respect and protect individual rights and freedoms, and I ask that this belief be extended.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Christopherson has moved private member's notice of motion number 3.

Are there any members opposed to taking a vote at this time?

Shall the resolution carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

I declare the motion lost.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Mr Barrett has moved second reading of Bill 11, ballot item number 4.

Are there any members opposed to voting at this time?

Shall the motion carry?

Those in favour, say "aye."

Those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

I declare the vote carried.

This bill is ordered to the committee of the whole House.

Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk): Mr Speaker, I request the consent of the House that this bill be passed to the standing committee on justice.

The Deputy Speaker: Agreed? So ordered.

It being past 12, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock.

The House recessed from 1205 to 1331.


Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Mr Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, signed by his own hand.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The Lieutenant Governor submits supplementary estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending 31 March 1996 and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly.



Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I want to alert this House to the serious health risk to the people of my riding from the recommendations about the Scarborough General Hospital made by the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council.

It is proposing to close all 34 inpatient beds at the hospital and transfer specialized newborn care to regional centres.

Scarborough General Hospital currently treats 20,000 children each year through its emergency department, and 2,600 of those children require admission each year. Close those paediatric beds and those families with sick babies and children who need admission will have to travel to another centre far away.

Scarborough General Hospital is centrally located in an area of high need for paediatric services. Many of those families rely on public transportation. Can you imagine a mother caring for a young child having to trek long distances, waiting for a bus in the cold in the dead of winter? Without a special-care nursery, how will the hospital offer services to pregnant women and the 2,600 babies born there every year? And who will serve the growing number of new Canadians whose children receive care at Scarborough General? The hospital has a special ethnocultural patient service and is uniquely set up to offer sensitive care to my diverse community.

Finally, the recommendations ignore the fact that Scarborough General is a cost-effective hospital. It is one of the top three hospitals in Metro, based on performance measures. It has always balanced its budget. If the objective of restructuring was to save money, the DHC has chosen the wrong hospital and the wrong population to impact.

We must stop this proposal before the health of the people of Scarborough is endangered.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): In a single day, the government has pushed its labour bill through the Legislature. The government's amendments were kept from members until the last possible moment and even government members had to vote on this legislation without knowing what was in it.

Over the next few months, we will see the disastrous consequences of Bill 7 on the wages and job security of thousands of Ontario cleaners and security guards. Under this bill, when a company switches cleaning or security contractors, the new contractor can hire back the staff at lower wages. Government members can now consider what great policy objective will be achieved by lowering the wages of the people who clean their offices every morning.

I'm told that many of the security guards voted for the present government. For many, their reward will be a pay cut. That is the one key plank of the Common Sense Revolution that the government does not talk about: driving down wages.

This week, security guards and cleaners had a good look at that agenda. It does not seem to matter that lowering the pay of a private sector security guard or cleaner does not reduce the deficit by one penny or that lower incomes mean lower domestic demand. Reducing wages is the order of the day. The government's attack on wages and its haste on all fronts may lead us to something unprecedented in our history: a made-in-Ontario recession.

As for the cleaners and guards who spoke at the press conference we had today, they work hard for very modest wages. They deserve better than what is now coming their way.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education and Training and as the member for Wentworth North, I rise in the House today to convey my ministry's endorsement and support of Take Our Kids To Work Day on November 8.

Support and encouragement of partnerships is a key principle of this government. Take Our Kids To Work Day is a wonderful example of a successful partnership between the world of business and the world of education, between adults and adolescents and between parents and their children.

I hope that some of my colleagues in the House will be host to a grade 9 student next Wednesday, as thousands of students across the province spend a working day with a parent, guardian, relative or friend. At the Ministry of Education and Training, about 35 students from two high schools near Queen's Park will be matched with a mentor at the ministry. Staff will show the students many aspects of their daily work, from how mail gets distributed to the use of the Internet.

Take Our Kids To Work Day is an event initiated and sponsored by the Learning Partnership, formed by representatives of the business and broader community. It is a partnership that can help students clarify and reach their goals and dreams. Together, government and business and our whole communities can create more opportunities for our young people and for ourselves, and continue to build a healthy and prosperous economy now and for the future of our children.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I rise today to speak to the further cuts and delays in the Hamilton courthouse. Hamilton's new $64-million courthouse is falling victim once again to Conservative government spending cuts. This project has been frozen as the result of a province-wide review of all capital projects.

Hamilton already has felt the cutbacks through the delay of the promised Red Hill expressway. The cut to the $5-million cultural industry strategy, the cut to the $5 million for Barton Street, the elimination of funding for the United Nations school at McMaster, which would have been the first UN school in North America, the broken promise of 1,000 non-profit housing units, which would have provided housing for the most vulnerable citizens of Hamilton-Wentworth -- each one of these initiatives would have created jobs and would have stimulated growth in the Hamilton-Wentworth area.

The courthouse is another initiative which would create jobs and inspire progress in the Hamilton area, squashed by Mike Harris and the Conservative government. It was an initiative commenced by the previous government, by the NDP, and I'm pleased to tell the Premier that I supported the initiative as one of the few good things the previous government did in Hamilton-Wentworth. It minimized a little bit of what was done about the expressway, but truly we appreciated the courthouse project and the work by the previous government initiating that.

This government has now moved to delay this project. Some $10 million have already been spent on this new courthouse, not to mention the years of planning. With the delay, we now have an 80-year-old building in danger of deteriorating as a result of this government. I ask very clearly the members across the House, when is this Conservative government going to stop the blatant disregard of Hamilton-Wentworth and give us some of the initiatives we deserve?


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): Last month, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations issued a director's safety order regarding high-temperature plastic vents on mid-efficiency furnaces. In response to this order, many of my constituents in Lake Nipigon contacted the local gas company, only to find out that indeed their furnaces were unsafe. In some cases, these furnaces were less than two years old.

The venting system installed on these furnaces was pre-approved by the ministry. Now the ministry refuses to accept its responsibility. The manufacturer is not to blame; after all, the vents were government-approved. The installer isn't to blame; after all, the vents were, one more time, government-approved.

What are the people in Lake Nipigon supposed to do? They're simply asking for recourse, that the government take its own responsibility and express that responsibility by way of a cheque in the mail to compensate the people of Lake Nipigon.



Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It gives me great pleasure today to advise you and our fellow members that next week, November 6 to 12, is Ontario's 11th Waste Reduction Week. This event, coordinated by the Recycling Council of Ontario, raises awareness of the three Rs -- reduce, reuse and recycle -- and encourages all people to reduce waste.

Hundreds of communities and schools across the province are planning special activities to recognize this important week. Here are some examples: a contest between Ajax and Pickering to send the least waste to the landfill; Sudbury's Perfect Blue Box contest; and the collection of sports equipment by Brewers Retail stores across the province.

I hope all members will support and participate in the events being held in their ridings in this coming week. Let us all join together and offer our congratulations and appreciation to the Recycling Council of Ontario, and particularly to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers working to make Waste Reduction Week a success.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On November 20 of this year, an outstanding citizen of St Catharines will receive an honour he has well deserved. On that occasion, Jack Gatecliff will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Although Jack has always been deeply involved in our community and its sports life, he is well known beyond the borders of St Catharines for his reporting on sports of all varieties.

Gate, as he is known to friends around the sports circuit, has been a journalist with the St Catharines Standard since May 1947 and has enjoyed sharing his observations on the sport of hockey, from the games of the youngest tykes to the top professionals in the business. His style has been described by fellow Standard writer Dave Feschuk as "honest without being vicious, insightful without betraying locker room trusts."

Not only is Jack Gatecliff to be among the distinguished individuals elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he is also an esteemed member of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, soon to be located adjacent to our museum complex in St Catharines.

Although Jack was an above-average player with the St Catharines Falcons Junior A hockey team and played some competitive hockey in Scotland, his elevation to the hall of fame came as a result of his contribution to the sport of hockey as a journalist.

Jack's colleagues at the Standard, his friends, his acquaintances and the many with whom he has associated through sports will be delighted to see him as a hall-of-famer, but none will be as proud as his wife, Alice, and his son, John.

Congratulations to a friend of sports and a great guy.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Yesterday, the leader of my party again raised the topic of the minister responsible for women's issues' alleged threats during a meeting with advocates for battered women and asked for a legislative committee to investigate these very serious claims.

The minister replied, "I don't think the taxpayers should be spending money on irrelevant situations where you have no proof except one person and a few women."

I had expected that the issue of women being persons had long ago been settled, and indeed back on October 18 the minister spoke at some length about the importance of Persons Day, so you can imagine my surprise in hearing the minister differentiating between women and persons.

I would also suggest that given this government's low tolerance for dissent and established hostility towards anyone who disagrees with its agenda, a minister making threats to vulnerable communities is hardly an irrelevant issue. These are matters of fundamental democratic rights that deserve a more careful response than we got from the minister.

Finally, about the minister's remark about lack of proof, we have a majority of the women -- persons -- who were in the room that day saying that she did indeed make these comments. If the minister is as concerned with establishing the truth as she would have us believe, then she ought to quickly agree to a process to investigate these issues and clear up exactly what she said and what she did mean in that meeting.


Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): I'm pleased to announce that next week is Crime Prevention Week in Ontario. While crime prevention is a year-round activity, this designated week is an opportunity for heightened participation by everyone towards creating safer and more secure communities throughout Ontario.

Crime prevention is an individual as well as a community responsibility. This year's theme of police and community working together reflects the fact that partnerships between all segments of society and their local police services go a long way to ensuring the safety and security of all.

It would take far too long to go through some of the examples, but I will share a couple: seminars by community policing officers on topics such as telemarketing fraud, abuse, Crime Stoppers, and stranger awareness or street-proofing; Child Find videotaping that will be done by local OPP detachments and their community policing committees; and registration in the Combat Auto Theft program sponsored by Crime Prevention Ontario and the Canadian Automobile Association, which will help reduce auto theft.

During Crime Prevention Week we salute and encourage the people and communities throughout Ontario to get involved in addressing crime prevention needs in their communities and in helping to make a difference in the quality of life for the people of Ontario.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I would like to request unanimous consent for statements on Wife Assault Prevention Month.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent? I hear a no. Do we have unanimous consent? Okay. The member for Riverdale.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I'm glad the government has changed its mind, after asking for unanimous consent yesterday, that they have changed their minds and allowed us to speak about this very important educational month in Ontario.

I must say that we were appalled yesterday when we were not given permission, appalled that the minister herself -- the government of the day traditionally takes the lead role in discussing and educating people about this month and how important it is to the public.

I'm finding it unbelievable, particularly during this month, that the minister continues to stand over there and tell us how committed this government is to preserving core services and important services for women to combat violence, when the reality is, as we know, that she will go back to her office and continue to participate in slashing services and programs designed to protect and support poor and vulnerable women and children.

It's obvious to me that this minister and this government fail to comprehend that the abuse of women is a thread that runs through our society and to adequately address it requires a comprehensive approach. It's just not enough to make these disjointed statements and say, "Oh, we're trying to coordinate services; we're meeting with groups," and then we're told that these meetings don't run quite the way the minister says when she talks about them in the House.

The minister continues to talk about preserving core services, and it's not clear that she understands what she's talking about, because core services have been cut. We all, on this side of the House, understand that, and we hear about it day after day after day.

In situations where women are being abused, it is absolutely necessary that more than a bed be provided for a few nights. You need to make sure that the support services -- the counselling, the employment, the child care, the counselling for the children who often witness the abuse -- is available to these women. In some locations, and I talked about one yesterday, in smaller towns, there are no other services available and the core services are being cut.

Women, as I and other members of my caucus have said time and time again in this House, are disproportionately being affected by the cuts being made by this government. Women have to have financial independence before it's realistic to expect them to break ties with their abuser.

The kinds of cuts that affect women that have taken place to date, just to date, and the kinds of cuts directly affecting women who are the victims of abuse are absolutely appalling. This government said in its Common Sense Revolution and its blueprint for justice, I believe it was, for the victims' rights bill, that no amount of money is enough for services for women who are victims of violence, and that it would in fact preserve these services and indeed maybe increase them. In fact, the opposite is happening and they are being cut.

I will finish my comments by saying today that I believe the government across the way is literally -- and I thought very carefully before saying this, but it's true in this case -- possibly playing with the life and death of women in this province, the most vulnerable people. How much more vulnerable can you get when you have people, women, who are being threatened with death and who are being abused?

I ask the minister today and the government across the way to review, to look quite seriously at what is happening, and to reinstate the funding to help combat violence against women. I hope when the minister speaks today, if she is speaking, that she will in fact make these announcements.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): I was not surprised that the government did not come forward yesterday to make a statement on Wife Assault Prevention Month, as previous governments have done. I'm going to be very interested to hear in fact what kinds of statements the government's prepared to make today, having given us unanimous consent to at least acknowledge that this is indeed Wife Assault Prevention Month.

I suspect that there will be an attempt made to rebut charges that have been made consistently in this House over past weeks and which the government has refused to answer. I suggest that all the words in the world about concern will not undo the damage that has been done to abused women and their families by this government in a few short months.

The attack on women began when the government ended the ad campaign against wife assault, an ad campaign that carried the absolutely critical message that wife assault is indeed a crime.

The attack on abused women and their families has continued with the withdrawal of funding for second-stage housing, taking away the very support that's needed by those who have been abused to be able to escape the abusive situations and to be able to establish independent lives.

Indeed, the government continues to say, "We have not taken away second-stage housing; we've just withdrawn the counselling support." But all in fact that is left is bricks and mortar. There is none of the support that is needed in order to provide for the safety and security of women and their families, let alone the support to be able to re-establish their sense of self and their ability to find productive work outside their home.

When you stop the program that was aimed at the prevention of abuse and when you withdraw all the support for those who have been abused, all that is left is crisis shelter, and the only choice then that is left to abused women is to return to the abusive situation, and that abusive situation is then even more dangerous because there has been an attempt to flee.

Without the support that is needed to escape an abusive situation and establish independent lives, women will be afraid to leave abusive situations, and we have seen that for generation after generation. They will stay in abusive situations, and they will continue to suffer. As I spoke to the director of the emergency shelter in my home community, she said to me, in tears, that because of this government's actions, women will die.

I believe this is shameful, and what is truly appalling is that this government refuses, absolutely refuses, to acknowledge what it has have done, let alone the impact of its actions. I truly believe that this kind of blind, unconcerned cost-cutting will have a long-term cost to our society and to individuals that will be immeasurable.

I join in the call that this government today, in recognition of Wife Assault Prevention Month, reinstate the essential funding to provide support for both the prevention of wife assault and the support for those who need that help once they have been in abusive situations.

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): I should say that we were the only party that used some of our members to speak on behalf of Wife Assault Prevention Month yesterday. These statements, I would suggest to all members of this House, should be presented on behalf of your constituents to get the message out that assault is not tolerable, that we will not put up with violence against women and that this government, in fact, in its violence-against-women portfolio dollars, intends to keep it is as sound as we can. At this point in time I believe the budget has been reduced by some $2 million, but we have almost $100 million in that program and we intend to protect those programs as far as possible.

To all of the members of this House, I think we do need assistance in these times, when there aren't the same kind of dollars. The leader of the official opposition talked about the ad campaign. You should know that in the past we have spent $475,000 on TV ads. We felt that that money would better be spent with families, so we did take the ads off the television. That's not to say that in some non-profit public relations organizations -- we in fact are sharing those ads which we've paid for so they will be used across the province of Ontario in a more efficient manner, and certainly not with the taxpayers' money.

I do want to celebrate the fact that all of us have a responsibility with regard to awareness and prevention of wife assault, especially during the month of November, when we tried to get the message out. It marks the beginning in Ontario of the 10th wife assault public education campaign.

I'd like to say that the philosophy behind this campaign, the safety of women from abuse in their homes, is one that should be addressed not during the month of November but 365 days of the year. Too many women are affected by violence. Too many women do not feel safe in their own homes, do not feel safe in their own communities, and the wife assault public education campaign is part of the government's approach to the prevention of violence against women.

It will take the collective efforts of all of our citizens to end violence against women, and I can say it starts at a very early age. To that end, the Minister of Education and Training and myself were at Mayfield Secondary School in Brampton last week to celebrate the launch of a project called The Joke's Over. In that campaign in our schools, we told that simple harassment leads into abuse, and the very beginning of abuse starts at very early ages. That was meant in recognition of the fact that we're moving into the month of November, we want to get the message out, and I have never in my life been to a more profound assembly by a more mature group of young people, who actually presented the message to us.

And the joke is over. We will not put up with sexual harassment. Sexual harassment leads into violence, which leads into violent wife assault, and we will not tolerate it in the province of Ontario.

I can also tell you that the government strongly supports community involvement in public education as a means to end violence against women in Ontario, and to this end our government has provided assistance to 112 community organizations across the province to develop public education projects on wife assault in their communities. These projects, I'd like to share with my colleagues, came from all parts of Ontario. We tried to distribute the same amount of money as in the past to as many communities as we could, taking into consideration the fact that some of our communities are so much more remote than others and don't have the same kind of resources that we have in some of our larger urban municipalities, and that was a very strong consideration in the dispensation of the funds.

As the member for Durham-York stated yesterday, this government is building on the idea of community responsibility. The wife assault campaign asks everyone to be part of the solution in ending this serious social problem.

My government will continue to work to create safety for women in their homes and in their communities.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Mr Speaker, I rise to seek unanimous consent of this House to make a statement for Remembrance Day.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.


Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): It's my privilege to rise to pay tribute to the thousands of Canadian men and women in our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom's sake and whose memory we honour on Remembrance Day.

This year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and Canada's role in the liberation of Holland. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Canadians, a number of whom were members of this Legislature, landed on Juno Beach in Normandy and then linked up with others advancing northward from Italy to drive Hitler's armies from the Netherlands.

In the light of recent events, it is especially poignant to reflect upon the comments of one eyewitness, who described one particular event during that conflict as follows: "We were pinned down by enemy machine-gun fire. Two members of my platoon were killed. Each died trying to protect the other. One was from Ontario, the other from Quebec. But in death they weren't English or French. They were comrades in arms. They were Canadians." Whether from Ontario or Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories or Alberta, with obscene frequency that event was repeated day by day in too many conflicts and in too many places involving brave, heroic men and women serving in our army, navy and air force in theatres all around this globe, serving as peacemakers and as peacekeepers.

Today we acknowledge their sacrifice and their families' sacrifice. Today in this Legislative Assembly we recall with profound respect their gift to this beloved nation. Thanks to them and many others we celebrate the fact that we are heirs to the great values of freedom and democracy as citizens of Canada from ocean to ocean to ocean.

On November 11, may we bow our heads in honour of their precious sacrifice. Let us never forget them. At the 11th hour, in the twilight, we will remember them. God bless their sacrifice.


Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Once a year we are called upon, as individuals and as citizens, to remember the past, to reflect upon specific moments in our collective past. For a brief moment we're all united in the knowledge that not such a long time ago war was present in our lives, and war was not a glorious adventure; war meant sacrifice, courage, death. War meant fear of the unknown, fear of losing a loved one. Once a year, at the very least, it bears reminding that war is not just a blight which settles upon distant shores, and it is important to remember not just the collective dimension of armed conflict but the individual experience. For that is what truly brings home the inhumanity of war.

When Canadians gather to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11, many will reflect upon the First World War. Many more will remember the Second World War, the Korean War, the Gulf War and Canada's involvement in recent peacekeeping missions. We will not all share the same memories, and that is to be expected. We will all, however, dwell upon the uncommon bravery of those who left and continue to leave family, home and country in the name of values that remain meaningful and relevant today.

Bettie Campbell will remember the Second World War. She had trained as a nurse in Toronto before joining the Nursing Sisters in Regina in 1942. Nursing Sisters are nurses who have cared for Canadian soldiers in many armed conflicts, including the Boer War, the two world wars and Korea. Nursing Sisters, though they weren't called that at the time, first appeared during the Northwest Rebellion in 1885. As their status evolved they acquired military ranking.

Mrs Campbell was a lieutenant Nursing Sister. In 1942 she was sent to Yorkshire, England, with the number 8 Canadian Battalion from Saskatchewan. In July 1944, Mrs Campbell worked in an army hospital in Bayeux, France, where she cared for Canadian soldiers involved in the D-Day invasion. She also tended to prisoners of war.

The 600-bed hospital was but a few miles away from the action. It received patients from casualty clearing centres. During this time Mrs Campbell lived in a tent. There were shortages. It could not have been very comfortable, but she says that she didn't think too much in terms of time off and mainly concentrated on the task at hand, looking after "our boys." She continued to treat Canadian casualties in Belgium, then in Holland, before returning to Canada in June 1945.

I want to point out that Mrs Campbell volunteered for the job. Nurses were needed. By her presence, by just a few moments spent chatting with a patient, she was able to comfort young soldiers who had faced the trauma of battle.

Mrs Campbell was a member of the official Canadian delegation attending ceremonies in Holland this year commemorating the liberation of Holland. Just for your information, 4,600 nurses shared Mrs Campbell's courage and dedication. It is my honour today to recognize the extraordinary valour of these volunteers.

Corporal Ernest William Poole of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps served 20 years with the Canadian Forces. He will remember the Korean conflict, for during that time he earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal. I will not read the entire citation, but this is what happened:

On October 3, 1951, the Royal Canadian Regiment was moving forward against enemy opposition as part of a larger attack launched by our own forces. Enemy retaliation was inevitable. It came quickly and intensely. There were casualties on the Canadian side. Steep slopes and thick underbrush made it difficult to determine the nature and location of all the casualties.

Corporal Poole was responsible for the stretcher-bearers with B Company during this mission. Under intense enemy fire, he proceeded to administer first aid and to ensure the evacuation of the wounded. When told that he could be killed, Corporal Poole replied, "I have a job to do and I am going to do it." Despite enemy snipers and machine-gunners, he searched the entire area for casualties and did not stop until they had all been accounted for. He even, while under fire, improvised stretchers from rifles and tree branches.

For 48 hours, Corporal Poole continued to tend to the wounded, conscious only of his duty. As the citation reads, "No obstacle, no hazard, no personal danger was allowed to stand in his way; his selfless devotion to his work was in the highest tradition of military service."

In recent times, Canada's military involvement has largely been in collaboration with the United Nations' peacekeeping objectives. Canada has committed over the last four years to having more than 17,000 soldiers and 4,000 reservists involved in peacekeeping activities in war zones.

These war zones do not fit the classic image of warfare. They are a product of a changing world where the instability or scarcity of resources and political tensions create many high-risk situations. As a result, peacekeeping forces serve complex mandates. They assist in the resolution of military conflicts through new tactical and multidisciplinary methods which involve everyone from the soldier to the diplomat to the politician. More importantly, peacekeeping forces serve humanitarian purposes which require a greater commitment on the part of citizens and governments.

Canadians can rightly be proud of the role our armed forces have played and continue to play in the promotion of peace and order throughout the world. They accomplish their work under the most difficult and dangerous conditions. They may receive fewer physical injuries than in classic combat situations; however, they suffer significant emotional traumas. Whether in Yugoslavia or in Rwanda, they face hour by hour the suffering, deprivation and atrocities that only human beings can inflict upon one another. The savagery civil war inflicts upon innocent populations is inescapable.

Major-General Roméo Dallaire knows just how difficult a peace mission can be. In July 1993, he took command of the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda. It is for this last mission that Major-General Dallaire was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross.

Major-General Dallaire was responsible for the implementation of a peace agreement between rebel forces and the Rwandan government, for the transfer of people into safe zones, distribution of food and medicine, and evacuation of the injured. Throughout the crisis, he also supported humanitarian relief action. This illustrates well the complexity of his mandate and the enormous difficulties faced by the 2,600 troops under his command.


The major-general's experience in Rwanda vividly demonstrates the crucial role peacekeepers play in resolving conflict and in alleviating the effects of humanitarian catastrophes. It is no cliché to say that there exists a moral imperative to act where there is tremendous human suffering. We simply cannot stand by and watch.

Major-General Dallaire is not a man who stands by and watches. He is deeply committed to the peacekeeping process. If I may refer to his citation for the Meritorious Service Cross:

"This valiant Canadian officer displayed exceptional professionalism and leadership and altruism of the highest order despite perilous circumstances while commanding the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda.... Thousands of lives were saved through his unflagging efforts."

Je tiens à souligner que le service militaire d'aujourd'hui, autant que celui d'hier, exige une discipline exceptionnelle. Les Canadiens et les Canadiennes ont beaucoup d'attentes vis-à-vis les forces armées de notre pays et elles méritent notre entière confiance.

Today we honour three individuals, and through them the many more who have served their country. We recognize their dedication and reaffirm, as we must, our strong support and appreciation. Please join with me in welcoming to this chamber, in the Speaker's gallery, Mrs Bettie Campbell, Mr Ernest Poole and Major-General Roméo Dallaire.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): Very briefly, to join the comments made by my colleague the member for High Park-Swansea and my good friend the member for Carleton East, on behalf of the New Democratic Party I would simply like to say that we pay tribute over the next number of days to the extraordinary courage and dedication of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens who have made Canada what it is today and who have allowed us, in this generation, to live in freedom and security.

Last year on Remembrance Day, together with the Prime Minister and eight other premiers, I attended at a Remembrance Day ceremony in the cemetery at Hong Kong. I would say to members that it was without question the most moving Remembrance Day ceremony that I've ever attended: moving because there with us, listening to the words of the Prime Minister, were, without question, some of the bravest people this country has known, young men who were sent into battle unprepared, certainly not knowing what great strategic decisions had been made on their behalf by others. Many died. All that were not killed were captured and spent the entire war in labour camps.

What was remarkable about these men is that there was no personal bitterness. There was simply a sense of profound reflection on what their experience had meant to them as young people, and also a profound concern about the future of the world and the future of Canada.

It is said that our country came of age on the battlefield at Vimy; that it was at that point in our lifetime as a nation that young people fighting realized that they were fighting not just for the empire, not just for some abstraction, but they were fighting for Canada.

It is very hard for us in this generation, who have not had that firsthand, bitter experience of conflict, to fully appreciate the challenge, the danger, the risk and the extraordinary courage that ordinary people had to demonstrate, and did demonstrate, on our behalf.

All of us in the next week will be attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in our constituencies. We will be meeting with veterans and with their families. We'll be sharing moments of cheer, of warm nostalgia and of deep emotion. On behalf of my colleagues, we want to pay tribute to them and perhaps reflect that our best tribute to them is by holding dear the values which they held dear on the battlefield, values of tolerance, of understanding, of civility, of compassion, of courage and of a commitment to our country.

We all are going to have to show some of that commitment in the days ahead, and perhaps there is no more fitting week for us to do so than as we pay tribute to our veterans.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would like to inform the members of the assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from the state of Michigan: Senator Michael Bouchard, Senator Mike Rogers and State Representative John Llewellyn. Please join with me in welcoming our guests.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): On behalf of all the members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the pages for their dedication and hard work over the past six weeks. We have appreciated your assistance.



Hon David Johnson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): Last week I tabled the expenditure estimates for 1995-96. I am now tabling supplementary estimates for this fiscal year. These supplementary estimates will adjust the estimates to reflect July 21 expenditure reductions and will also support the elimination of a practice of the previous government that artificially reduced the deficit figures reported to the public.

Through the supplementary estimates, we are presenting a clear, upfront picture of our actual expenditures by showing capital spending that the previous government moved off-book.

In 1993-94, the previous government introduced a complicated and confusing system of financing for capital projects in schools, post-secondary institutions, hospitals, municipal water and sewer projects, and for roads and realty. The previous government had partners enter into long-term financing arrangements, loans with 20- to 25-year repayment terms, and agreed to fund the partners' repayment obligations using future government expenditures. By the end of 1994-95, this mechanism had been used to finance more than $2.4 billion in capital spending.

Our government is committed to providing the public with a clear set of expenditure estimates so that people know what is happening to their tax dollars. Replacing these loans with grants is another step towards meeting that commitment. Further, it is consistent with opinions expressed by the Provincial Auditor and the Public Sector Accounting and Auditing Board guidelines for public sector accounting. The board advised that loan-based capital funding should be treated as grants for accounting purposes.

Converting to grants will provide funding recipients with certainty about what they are receiving and will remove the unnecessary and costly administrative burden imposed on them by loan-based financing.

In keeping with the principles of the Common Sense Revolution, the expenditure and deficit reduction figures that the Minister of Finance reported in his July 21 statement reflected the proper reporting of the government's capital spending. These supplementary estimates bring effect to the formal reporting. The public will no longer need to add these capital payments back to the government's deficit figures to obtain the real deficit picture.


The supplementary estimates will give the government the spending authority to provide this capital funding as grants. I am providing members with a reconciliation between the July statement and the supplementary estimates. I should emphasize that our actions today have no impact on the deficit.

After the supplementary estimates are passed and the conversion to grants has occurred, we will write off the corresponding loans incurred to that date, effectively recognizing them as the expenditures they have been all along.

Over the next few days, we will be notifying recipients that they will be formally released from repaying these loans. We will be informing them of the administrative arrangements we are putting in place to ensure an orderly transition to this more appropriate method of financing. We will be making arrangements so that recipients do not experience a break in the flow of their capital funds.

I am pleased to bring this message of increased clarity, simplicity and common sense to this House and the public.


Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): A key promise of the Common Sense Revolution was that our government would move quickly to ensure a reliable and affordable electricity system for the people of Ontario.

As a first step, Ontario Hydro's average electricity rates have been frozen for five years. This will help to ensure affordable electricity for business, for industry and for the people of Ontario as a whole. In keeping with the Common Sense Revolution, it would also help to remove barriers to growth and to investment in Ontario.

Today I would like to advise the House of two further initiatives in support of these undertakings: the creation of a special advisory committee on electricity reform and the appointment of a new chair for Ontario Hydro.

This special committee will advise me in the development of reforms to sustain competitive rates and to ensure a reliable, affordable electrical system. The committee will help the government to evaluate options for introducing competition to Ontario's electricity industry.

It will examine options in three areas: structural changes to the industry, regulatory reform to ensure a healthy, competitive environment and the introduction of private equity to the electricity sector.

The Advisory Committee on Competition in Ontario's Electricity System will be chaired by the Honourable Donald S. Macdonald. Mr Macdonald, now in the private sector, has a long and distinguished history of service to the people of Ontario and to Canada. He was first elected to the federal Parliament in 1962 and has served in many portfolios, including Energy, Mines and Resources and Finance.

Other committee members, representing a broad range of interests, will be announced shortly.

This committee will invite the participation of stakeholders and the public through meetings and written submissions. This committee will report back to me by the end of April 1996.

Enhancing Ontario's competitiveness, preserving our financial soundness and protecting our quality of life will be the cornerstones of the committee's deliberations.

The new chair of Ontario Hydro will be William A. Farlinger. As the former chair and chief executive officer of the accounting firm of Ernst and Young, Mr Farlinger brings wide-ranging private sector experience and a business perspective to this position.

Mr Farlinger replaces Maurice Strong. This government thanks Maurice Strong for his leadership of Ontario Hydro over the past three years. Under Mr Strong's direction, this utility is in a much better position today than it was when he assumed the chair.

I look forward to working with the new chair and I look forward to working with the committee to define Ontario Hydro's future role and to develop a streamlined and restructured electricity industry in Ontario for the next century.


Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): Today I'm very pleased to share some exciting information with my colleagues about plans to reform our secondary school system. Quality and value are the hallmarks of this reform package, because every student deserves the best-quality education we can provide and every taxpayer deserves the best value for his or her education dollar.

Beginning immediately, we are going to develop a more focused, relevant and meaningful four-year secondary school system. This new system will come into effect for students entering grade 9 in 1997. Rigorous standards, high levels of expectation and better career preparation for all students will drive the new system.

Ontario is the only province in Canada with a five-year secondary school system. All the available information, including research done by the Royal Commission on Learning, tells us there is no added value to this fifth year.

When the four-year program is fully implemented in 2001, savings for taxpayers will amount to some $350 million annually.

Our current secondary school system provides very clear direction and prepares students very well for university admission. These high standards will continue to apply in the new four-year program.

But only one third of high school students attend university; the remaining two thirds either go on to college, take further training or go directly to work. Today we are taking steps to also focus on the needs of all these other students.

We're going to expand co-op and work experience programs to give students more insight into possible career choices. We're going to develop clear course requirements for those students who choose to go to college or directly to work. We're going to reform guidance and career education programs. We're going to introduce a formal transition-to-work training program with local employers.

The ministry will work with a special external advisory committee to develop the new high school system. This committee will include educators, parents, students and representatives from universities, colleges, businesses and the broader community.

These reforms are long overdue. Everyone in the community, from students and parents to employers, will benefit from a more challenging, focused and relevant high school program. I'm looking forward to working on this important initiative with all of our partners in education. I believe it's a significant step towards ensuring Ontario has the best-educated students in the world.


Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): Government spending has doubled in the last 10 years and the accumulated debt has tripled. Interest payments are costing the taxpayers of Ontario $9 billion a year on a debt that is now almost $100 billion.

If this situation is permitted to continue, we will be facing debt interest payments of $20 billion a year by the end of this decade. This is a staggering cost and is obviously quite unsustainable. It threatens our economic future.

This government is moving quickly to address the spending crisis left by previous governments. We are determined to restore confidence in Ontario as a place to live, to work and to do business. We intend to get spending under control and reduce the burden of debt. We believe that getting our financial house in order will put this province on the road to prosperity.

Today I am announcing the saving of $107.2 million for the taxpayers of Ontario -- a saving achieved through the cancellation of the economic development fund, five projects under the economic development fund and the cancellation of funding for 32 various projects in other program areas across government. The projects had been under review since the spending freeze announced in the July 21 statement of Minister of Finance Ernie Eves.

The economic development fund will be phased out, and financial assistance to five specific economic development fund projects has been cancelled, saving $36.5 million of this $100-million fund. Applications for funds on 32 other projects in various other program areas involving financial assistance from the government have also been cancelled, saving about $70.7 million.

This government is moving quickly to address the spending crisis left by previous governments.

In addition to freezes and cuts in government spending already announced, all ministries are reviewing their programs to see where more savings can be made and further announcements about programs will be made at a later date.

Economic growth is not created through government assistance. We are not in the business of giving corporate handouts or grants to business. We simply cannot justify using public funds to give one company an advantage over another.

Let me repeat: Government spending is being brought under control and the deficit will be reduced. Only then will confidence be restored in Ontario as a place to live, to work and to do business.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I'd respond to the Chair of Management Board. I almost broke out laughing when he said, "We're giving a clear, upfront picture."

This is the first government in the history of the province that will not have a budget, the fundamental document that people understand in this province. Talk about not having a clear upfront picture -- no budget.

I laughed, almost, when you presented your estimates. They weren't your estimates; they were the previous government's estimates. That's what you tabled, not your own estimates.

So in terms of presenting the people of Ontario with a clear, upfront picture of the finances of this province, your government has been a failure. For the first time in the history of the province, no budget; estimates from a previous government, not your own estimates. We're not getting a clear, upfront picture; we're getting nothing but fog out of this government. Until we get a clear financial statement from this government, that's all we'll have from them.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Once more we have a government announcing the end of grade 13, and I've been around long enough to remember when a former Conservative Minister of Education, Dr Bette Stephenson, did it first.

But since we no longer have a graded system but a credit system, I'm really not sure what ending grade 13 means in today's context. Does it mean that students will have to complete all their credits in four years or they're out? I certainly hope not.

I suggest that announcing the end of grade 13 sounds like doing something when it is not. What is needed is change to the credit system itself, the kinds of changes that the royal commission recommended, none of which are here in the minister's statement today.

I don't know where the minister is going to get his $350-million annual savings, but I can tell you, Minister, that if you want to cut costs by fixing the credit system, you limit the total number of credits a student can take so that students don't return to do more and more credits in order to improve their marks. You don't restrict the amount of time students can take to get their credits, because some will need longer than others for many reasons, and if you want students for some reason to finish their program in four years, to increase their chances of completing their credits in four years, then what you do is you start with credits earlier, in grade 8, which the royal commission has recommended.

If what you are telling us today is that you are ending the Ontario academic credit, I say that is a shame, because those credits can be completed in four years, they set a high standard, and it is a shame to abandon a high standard in order to make an announcement today. You cannot consider this to be a statement about standards.

I suggest to you that instead of making statements you get out and find out what students are doing in our secondary schools and why they are doing it and have a look at the real world they're in: a real world, incidentally, in which youth unemployment is running at about 30%, so that all of your initiatives on school to work are going to run into that stark reality.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): The Minister of Energy has made a two-part announcement today, and let me start by commenting on the second part of the announcement.

Maurice Strong is no more. He has left the chairmanship of Ontario Hydro. What is one to say except that some years ago he arrived with an imperial flush, and today he leaves with one lonely sentence in a ministerial announcement. Sic transit gloria. Listen, Stephen Lewis got to the United Nations, not once but twice, so Maurice, Maurice, can your call be far behind?

Mr Farlinger is appointed as the new chair of Ontario Hydro. He is a very distinguished and eminent Canadian living in Ontario with, as the minister's statement makes plain, blue ribbon connections to the private sector and with, as we all know, impeccable connections to the new government, and those connections with the new government cause me no concern, because that is in the sacred tradition of Ontario Hydro and government of Ontario relations.

I just want to make the point that Mr Farlinger, as the new chair, is on record just a few weeks ago indicating what his views are about Ontario Hydro, and reading quickly from a report that he penned just about 10 weeks ago, he believes, he says, that there ought to be a merger between Ontario Hydro and the Ontario municipal electrical utilities and that there ought to be a privatization of all generation into one company, among other observations of the Farlinger report. We are in for some very interesting times and I look to the advisory committee for some interesting advice.


Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I read with amazement the statement the minister gave in which he says, "Economic growth is not created through government assistance." I assume that is a drafting error, because if that is true, what do you do and what does your ministry do? I would suggest to the Chairman of Management Board that if there can be no economic growth through the government, you get rid of that ministry and save yourself a lot of money.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): I want to just indicate that I find it interesting, in statements, what isn't said as well as what is said.

In the case of the announcement made by the Minister of Environment and Energy, we're not told, for example, whether Mr Farlinger's appointment is a full-time or part-time appointment; we're not told whether he is the chair and CEO or precisely what his status is. Nor is it mentioned that Mr Farlinger, whom I'm sure many of us know in his role as the chairman and chief executive of Ernst and Young, had everything to do with a private report to Ontario Hydro on the question of privatization, everything to do with it.

So I would have thought that the minister would have said, "We've appointed as the chair of Ontario Hydro somebody who has a clearer ideological agenda with respect to the future of this public organization than anyone else."

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): This is from the man who appointed Marc Eliesen.

Mr Rae: Mr Speaker, the Attorney General is out of control in his chair, but we understand the stresses and strains of having to deal with the law society, so I can understand his anxiety.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): When it comes to the announcement made by the Minister of Education, I would have thought that a graceful announcement such as the one made by the minister might have made it clear, for example, that every single one of these reforms was recommended by the royal commission and already had been approved by the former Minister of Education and Training.

The only question which the minister fudged was the issue of the $350 million saved by the cancellation of grade 13. He knows, we all know, that 40% of that money comes from the province -- a little more than 40% -- but the majority comes from the property taxpayers, so it's a saving that won't be coming out of our hides; it's a saving that'll be coming out of the overall expenditure of the taxpayers of the province.

So we have to --

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): There's only one taxpayer.

Mr Rae: We'll see --


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.

Mr Rae: There are a number of members opposite who are holding up a single finger in my direction. I want to assure you that it was the index finger and that it was intended to show the ideological truth which we all know, which is that there is only one taxpayer.


The Speaker: Order.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): How many Metro members were just standing?

Mr Rae: I look forward to the same sense of wisdom from the Metro members and from the Ottawa members and from other members who realize that they are going to pay it on the neck for the kinds of cuts that are now being put forward by the Tory government.



Mr Bob Rae (York South): Finally, with respect to the announcement made by the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism: We're used to these bromides from the minister. I always find that people are much more enthusiastic about cuts in general than they are about cuts in particular. That's why I would have thought that a minister who wanted to be completely candid and open with the House would tell us in particular which grants are being cut, what areas they're being cut in, what jobs are being affected and which projects in fact are being cancelled.

This was a government which was elected to bring in jobs. Instead of jobs, jobs, jobs, we see cuts, cuts, cuts, rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric, ideology, ideology, ideology. Let's get back to the jobs agenda; it's the agenda which has been lost by this government.



Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. It's particularly pertinent given his announcement today, and it was interesting in his announcement, given his background, that there was never once the mention of the word "investment."

The mandate of Innovation Ontario Corp is not to provide grants, not to provide handouts, but to assist export-oriented, technology-based firms to grow and expand by providing financial assistance via patient capital investments, and I underline the word "investments."

In May 1995, the board of directors of IOC approved an investment of $404,000 in the shares of Secutron Inc, an Ontario corporation with manufacturing facilities in Picton, Ontario. The buyout provisions of the investment provided for a 25% profit for IOC, and the investment was needed to upgrade its technology and to be more globally competitive.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Would you put your question, please.

Mr Kwinter: I've got to give the background because it's very important. The company is engaged in the design, development and manufacture of high-tech products for life safety and protection of property. The board of governors of the directors of IOC approved the investment and conveyed this information verbally to the company. They were told that documentation would be forthcoming and that it was a rubber stamp. On the basis of these assurances, the company went out, obligated itself and spent over $100,000 in deposits --

The Speaker: Put your question.

Mr Kwinter: -- and found themselves in a position where they had also obligated themselves to an additional $300,000. Minister, you then informed them that you were reneging on that commitment. We are not talking about --

The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please. I believe the question has been asked. Minister.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): To the member for Wilson Heights: I have to say to him that more than ever, at a time when we are reviewing the delivery and cost implication of virtually every program and operation of this government, it is unjustifiable to hand out millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to companies. Quite frankly, I'm shocked if the member opposite is suggesting otherwise.

Mr Kwinter: Minister, if you're shocked, you can imagine how I feel. It has nothing to do with what you are talking about; it has to do with the integrity of this government, and the reputation.

A commitment was made. A company went out and made commitments on behalf of that commitment. There are 35 jobs at stake. The company has been in business for 22 years, and you've put them in severe jeopardy. Not only that; in a meeting that they had with you, you had the temerity and the gall, and I quote, to tell them, "If I were you, I'd move to the United States."

Tell me, is your role to advise companies in this province to leave their place and go to the United States? Is that what you see your role as?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I would first of all like to say that the member for Wilson Heights is misinformed about geography. The second thing I'd like to say is that the companies in our announcement today are good companies. I welcome their continued investment in Ontario. However, thousands of businesses across the province survive every day without government handouts. This government cannot justify raising their taxes and borrowing on the future of Ontario's children in order to give money to a select few companies.

Mr Kwinter: I have in my hand a letter from the company, attested by its president and its director of operations, saying that in a meeting with you, and they quote, "If I were you, I would move to the United States." Now you stand up and say I have a mistake in geography. I have no idea what that means. I don't know exactly what you're referring to, but the question that I'm asking you is that you were also quoted as saying, "If it isn't in writing, we're not going to honour it."

I can tell you, the only people who require things in writing are people who are dealing with people they can't trust, and one of the major, major tenets of business is that a man's word is his bond and you can take it to the bank. This company has been put in jeopardy by commitments that were made by a duly authorized board of your government. They went out, put themselves in severe jeopardy, and your response is to repeat the mantra that has nothing to do with the problem.

Could you please answer. What are you going to do to redress the injustice that's been done to this company, the financial burden that it's incurred and the hardship that it's enduring because you have reneged on a commitment?

Hon Mr Saunderson: The Minister of Finance, in his July 21 statement, indicated that all programs offering financial assistance to businesses had been frozen in order to reduce government spending. In light of this freeze, and considering that agreements with the company had not properly been signed, we made our decision.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): To the Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services, first a story about a woman convicted of driving while impaired for the third time: Contrary to what the Attorney General said yesterday, she has been sentenced to 60 days that can be served intermittently. She's been checking in on a Friday afternoon and one minute later has been signed out. For that you give her a credit of four days plus two days on top of that for good behaviour. In 10 weekends you can knock off a 60-day sentence here in Ontario.

But for some reason she has received a special dispensation to check into the Vanier women's prison, which the minister knows is a treatment centre, instead of Metro West. The last few weekends she has shown up with alcohol on her breath, but because they can't prove that she is drunk she is released anyway. But she was so drunk a few weeks ago, she turned up with a twenty-sixer of vodka on her person and therefore was admitted. She was never charged for that, but she spent the weekend on the treatment wing with the others who were trying to cope with their alcohol abuse problem, but stinking with booze.

Theoretically, this woman could have been in an accident and killed somebody on the roads of Ontario while she was supposed to be in one of our jails.

Minister, this is a mockery of justice in Ontario. In Ontario, unlike California, three strikes and you're out means you're right out of jail. What sort of message does this send to the drivers of Ontario?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I can't speak to the specific case. If the member wants to provide me with the details, I will try to get back to him as quickly as possible. I think the messages that were announced last week by the Minister of Transportation, the Attorney General and myself, in terms of automatic licence suspension, increased supervision over trucks, increased patrols of the OPP in the GTA and expanded into southwestern Ontario and eastern Ontario regions next year, send out a very positive message in respect to how this government feels about road safety and impaired drivers.

Mr Ramsay: Minister, the story that I've just related is the reality of Ontario, and I ask you to check into that.

Minister, you have a very interesting ministry; there's so much going on, I don't know where to start. At 11 o'clock this morning, you had an incident in Metro East where three correctional officers were assaulted by an inmate because of overcrowding, because you're ordering them to sleep on the floors there, and this person doesn't want to do it.

Anyway, you're still looking at maybe jail closures. On any of the lists I've seen or that anybody has circulated on some of those targeted for closure, nowhere does the Brockville Jail appear. This jail, Mr Minister, appears to be in your riding and is one of the oldest in the province.


I have a list of the operating costs of all the jails in eastern Ontario, and not only is your jail one of the oldest, but also it has one of the highest operating costs of all but one of those being considered for closure.

Minister, is your jail, the one with the highest per diem costs in eastern Ontario, being considered for closure, or will it be a Liberal member, such as Mr Conway here or Mr Cleary or Mr Lalonde, who's going to have to suffer the jail closure in their riding?

Hon Mr Runciman: As usual, the member is incorrect. We had a meeting today with a number of MPPs who are going to be impacted. I was one of them in terms of older jails, certainly as part of the whole package of older jails that are being looked at by the ministry. Later on today we're going to be meeting with the honourable member and others who will be impacted as well.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I predict the Brockville Jail doesn't close.

Hon Mr Runciman: My jail has not been excluded from consideration in respect to these decisions that may or may not be taken in the next few weeks.

Mr Ramsay: Minister, we'll be very interested to see, after you consult with yourself about the closure of the Brockville Jail, if the member for St Catharines' prediction is right that it remains open.

Two weeks ago you announced some appointments to the parole board. I must say I was very impressed with many of those appointments and the credentials of some of those people, and I said so to the minister here in this House.

I'm a little embarrassed at my rush to judgement, because as I started to examine some of these appointments, it appears that patronage is alive and well in the Harris government.

Ralph DeGroot, for example, from Peterborough: He's very interesting. Yes, he has some police experience, but his main claim to fame is being ex-Tory MP Bill Domm's most active supporter in Peterborough and of course leading the campaign for capital punishment there.

But the most interesting appointment is the minister's own campaign manager.

Interjections: No.

Mr Ramsay: Yes, yes. I have to give the minister an A for blatant patronage for sure, because Jo-ann Best, unlike Mr DeGroot, has no education or work experience in any aspect of the criminal justice system.

Minister, in one of the Tory election statements, you said you would establish minimum standards of experience and expertise for members of the parole board. This is quite a standard you've set. Can you assure the people of Ontario that your campaign manager, without justice experience, will not make a decision that will endanger the lives of Ontarians?

Hon Mr Runciman: You know, the gall of members of the Liberal Party never ceases to amaze me. This is the party that appointed Patti Starr, who ended up in jail.

All I can say in respect to the appointee he's questioned is that this lady has over 25 years of community service, she's intelligent, experienced, tough, fair. I don't believe she should be disqualified because she was a successful campaign manager.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the leader of the third party.

Mr Bob Rae (York South): If the Solicitor General is so proud of appointing his own campaign manager as a member of the parole board, I wonder if he can tell us why it is that in the announcement wherein he pointed out the qualifications of police chiefs and various other people he had appointed, he would not have highlighted the appointment and qualifications of Ms Best.

Hon Mr Runciman: We mentioned the appointees who would be best known to the public in terms of reputations across the province. I want to say, in terms of my announcement --


Hon Mr Runciman: I assume you want to hear this, Mr Speaker. My announcement said, "We believe that parole board members must be qualified -- by their background, their work experience or their contributions to the community -- as well as by the training they receive" as parole board members.

I could send the leader of the third party a pie chart which shows you the breakdown of the membership on the parole board, and 24% of the board membership are people with business and community experience. We're trying to get a balanced board -- justice officials, business people and social workers -- completely unlike what the NDP had in place, with no one representing the justice area at all.

Mr Rae: The question for me is that in announcing the new appointments, the minister told taxpayers that the people were appointed with a background in policing and criminology and forensic psychiatry, in areas of expertise that would assist in deciding who should and shouldn't get parole.

If the minister has waved a piece of pie around, I'm happy to have a look at the pie chart; I'd be delighted to see the pie chart.

But I think the issue is why, in making the announcement he made last week in the House -- just as ministers have been making announcements today and we'll now have to go back and look again at every single announcement that's made as to what is not said -- why would the minister not have said, "Among the people whose appointments I'm proudest of is my own campaign manager"? Why wouldn't he have said that?

Hon Mr Runciman: We announced, I believe, 34 appointments and we highlighted five or six or seven in the justice area.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I can see why you left this one out.

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not about to make any apologies for the appointments we made. These are outstanding people.

The leader of the third party, who's asking this question, has no reason to feel proud about the appointees his government made to the parole board of Ontario. He simply has to recall the Wein report. Why was the Wein report instigated? Because of decisions made by parole board appointees appointed by the NDP. I don't want to get into details here, but certainly the leader of the third party has no credibility whatsoever when dealing with appointees to the parole board -- none whatsoever.

Mr Rae: I'm delighted to see that the old Bob Runciman is back. We were starting to wonder about the statesman on the other side, and now we realize that Halloween is over and the mask is off.

The question I have to ask the minister is once again the same question: Why, in making the announcement, would he not have had the courtesy and the straightforwardness we always associate with his name to be upfront and say, "The appointment I'm proudest of is not some former chief of police, it's not some professor of forensic psychiatry, but it's my own campaign manager in Leeds"? Why wouldn't he have just said that? I haven't heard an answer to that question.

Hon Mr Runciman: I am proud of the appointment. This is a woman who has over 25 years of community service, voted as the citizen of the year in her community. This question is coming from the man who appointed his own campaign manager as secretary of cabinet. He polluted the public service of Ontario with a political appointee, and he has the gall to get up here today and ask me a question like that. Unbelievable.



Mr Bob Rae (York South): In the absence of the Premier, I direct my question to the Deputy Premier. Yesterday, I asked the minister responsible for women's issues whether or not she was willing to have the question of her remarks at a meeting, attended by a number of women in London, made the subject of a committee discussion so that committee members themselves could assess the credibility of the minister's comments and the credibility of the statements made by a number of women who were present.

In response to my question, the minister said no, and outside she said, "I don't think the taxpayers should be spending money on irrelevant situations where you have no proof except one person and a few women." Those remarks are in quotation marks. She said it as well in the Legislature.

If a person from the public, meeting with the minister, says she clearly heard the minister say that if she continued to remain in opposition to the government's policies, her organization could be audited and funding for her organization could be eliminated, would you not agree with me, Deputy Premier, that that remark could be perceived by the person hearing it as intimidation?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I'm sure that anybody with any experience in this House knows of times we have been involved in meetings and there are many different interpretations different people put on words said during meetings. If we referred every single meeting that every single member or cabinet minister had with somebody who disagreed with his or her interpretation of what was said, it would be a huge waste of the taxpayers' money.

Mr Rae: This is an issue about which the Deputy Premier in a previous role, in which I remember him very well, I think would have recognized the difference between a difference of opinion, between somebody taking issue with something somebody says, which is common in politics, and someone coming away from a meeting feeling that the person in question, a minister, has intimidated them and their organization and has in a sense indicated that if someone continues to remain in opposition to the government, their very position will be threatened.

This is not simply a difference of opinion between a couple of people. We now have not only the woman who wrote the letter, Ms Julie Lee, who's the executive director of the London Battered Women's Advocacy Centre, we also have Mary Ellen Mellanson and Connie Boles of London Second Stage Housing who agree completely with the account Ms Lee has given in the letter she sent to us and which I sent over to the minister the other day.

Just to remind the minister, what she said is, "Within the context of this government, you need to understand that groups or agencies that are seen not to be working with this government, providing an oppositional voice, will be audited and their funding eliminated."

Those are very threatening words. Either the minister said them or she didn't. She's told the House that she didn't; other people insist that she did. Why not have a committee of this House discuss whether or not the minister abused her power in this way?

Hon Mr Eves: The minister has stood in her place in this House, said that she has met with many groups besides this one, that she did not threaten or intimidate anyone and that she continues to fund the London Battered Women's Advocacy Centre.

Mr Rae: If it were just one person, you'd say fine, one person. It's several people who were at a meeting, all women, coming forward saying: "This is what we heard. This is what we believe the minister said. This is what we heard the minister to say: that if we keep this up, we will be audited and our funding will be eliminated." Those are words of intimidation. Those are words which lend themselves to an abuse of power.

I would have thought that it's in the interests of the minister. If the minister is very clear that she didn't say it and the minister is absolutely emphatic that nothing like this happened, what is the problem with sending this to a committee so the committee can hear from the women who were there, as well as from the minister, to try to clear the matter up? What have you people got to hide over there?

Hon Mr Eves: The minister has answered the question in the House, as the honourable member knows. She has said that she has not made these remarks.

As I said at the outset, in answer to his very first question, if we had a legislative committee investigate every time somebody in a meeting with a minister said they said something, it would be a gigantic waste of taxpayers' money and committee time.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister Tsubouchi, I'd like you to confirm or refute today's Toronto Star article outlining that you are considering the implementation of a voucher system for child care in Ontario.

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): Very simply, the particular article refers to some sort of report. Clearly, no report has ever been delivered to me.

Mrs Pupatello: The minister clearly campaigned on being supportive of child care in Ontario. During the campaign, you touted an earning and learning program. Since taking office, however, you've eliminated 14,000 day care spaces and you've threatened the elimination of the wage-enhancement grant for child care workers. There are a number of things you're doing to threaten child care across Ontario. In fact, two weeks ago the minister received a letter from Minister Axworthy, federally, encouraging a meeting to look at a partnership for child care because we all recognize the need for it.

You have touted the fact that you're in support of child care. Clearly, there is something going on in your ministry that's outlining a voucher program that is outrageous and threatens the whole child care industry. It seems to me that you're not aware of it or you're not prepared to stand up today and say you are supporting child care and will back it with some kind of initiative. Will the minister kindly give me an answer other than the $1,200-a-day consultant answer; that's not the one we're looking for.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: First of all, this government is in favour, has spoken for clearly in terms of good quality and affordable care for our children. We do that by providing choice to the communities. There are a number of issues there. I'm going to deal with the main issue as opposed to the scattered issues in that statement.

Frankly, we have a two-phase approach. We've already completed the first phase. What it did was we stopped the conversion of child care spaces, which did not create one single child care space in the province but had a huge cost to it, this program. In fact, by March 1997 this initiative will have saved $20 million.

Secondly, we are welcoming the private sector back in the child care area. We are levelling the playing field, and we are increasing parental choice.


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: We have a second phase here, if you wouldn't mind me just commenting on it for a second. The ministry is in the early stages right now of doing an overall review of the child care area, because obviously the system doesn't work and we have a commitment to the child care area. This review is going to be done under the able leadership of my parliamentary assistant, Janet Ecker.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question; the member for Windsor-Riverside.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): I have a question to the same minister. Mr Minister, I know you don't always read documents before you sign them, but this morning I am sure that as part of your regular routine you would have taken a look at the press clippings and you would have seen a reference in the Toronto Star article to a cabinet submission that's being prepared, a document within your own ministry, with regard to converting the system we currently have of direct funding of child care centres in this province, a system that has been in place for over half a century.

I am sure you would then ask your officials where that document is and what the status of it was and that you would review that document. Can you confirm that there is a document that exists about your system for child care in your ministry?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I've answered the question already, but if you want some more clarification in terms of what we are doing, we are levelling the playing field. It's very important for us to provide parental choice to the community. Frankly, the system that was working before, you know, it's all going to come out under this overall child care review that we're doing. We will see the inconsistencies of the prior government. We're going to go for a system that really works for the taxpayer in the province of Ontario.

Mr Cooke: Obviously this minister has a philosophy: "If I don't ask anything, I don't have to read anything, and then it can go on my signing machine and I don't need to know anything."

This is a very important issue. For over half a century governments have provided regulation and direct subsidy for child care centres to improve the quality of child care in this province. If we're moving to a voucher system in this province, it will be the most significant, radical change in child care in this century. I think we're entitled and the people of this province are entitled to know: Is this an item that is under serious consideration by your government, yes or no?

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: In terms of the overall child care review which we're doing, it is very important for us to look at all aspects and all options available. It's much like any other type of program that we look at. We have to look and see what works and what doesn't work. Obviously the old philosophy didn't work. We're trying to find solutions that do work.



Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): To the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism: As you know, first ministers signed an agreement on internal trade in July 1994. In that agreement the provinces and territories agreed to negotiate provisions to the agreement in order to cover broader public sector procurement. My question: What is the government's approach to these very important negotiations?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'd like to say that this government is committed to removing barriers to trade among the provinces and improving market opportunities for Ontario businesses. The broader public sector across Canada represents a very significant market, and we see these negotiations as a way to create new opportunities for business.

At the same time, we are concerned about reducing unnecessary regulations and rules. We want to ensure that broader public sector procurement can be done efficiently and effectively. A flexible procurement agreement that opens markets without adding cost would be the best approach and is the approach that this government is taking.

Mr Chudleigh: Thank you very much, Mr Minister. There's a strong desire from stakeholders in my riding and across the province that their views are understood and represented in these negotiations. Can you assure these concerned stakeholders that their views are being heard and incorporated into these discussions?

Hon Mr Saunderson: I have met with leaders from several broad public sector organizations back in September and I heard a strong, unified message from them that they want an agreement that is flexible, to allow for innovations in purchasing. They also do not want to have rules imposed on them that would create additional administrative costs and burdens.

I can assure the member that we have been listening to the broader public sector stakeholders during these negotiations and have invited representatives of the broader public sector to attend all the negotiations as observers. I can assure you that the interest of Ontario's broader public sector will be brought to the negotiation table and that this government will work with all of its partners towards the dismantling of interprovincial trade barriers.


Mr Peter North (Elgin): It's certainly a pleasure for me to stand up today, indeed to be recognized in this House to ask a question of this government. My question is to the Solicitor General.

Minister, my question today deals with the issue of rural policing. You and I sat on this side of the Legislature not so long ago and had a great deal to say about the shortcomings of rural policing. I'm sure any member of this Legislature from rural Ontario could tell the same stories that you and I have discussed many, many times. Your rural round table discussions, in opposition, highlighted the truly troubling situation we face in terms of lack of policing and policing at night, longer response times and the dwindling numbers of officers.

The throne speech mentions victims of crimes, which we support, but not policing, especially not rural policing. Your campaign spoke directly to crimes and commitments to resolving such issues as these. I believe people put stock in what you said over here. Now that you are over there, what happens next, and how long before your words on this side become your actions on that side?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I appreciate the question from the member and I concur with what he said with respect to the concerns that my party expressed on that side of the aisle. We've only been in office four months, so we can't solve all of the problems, and I'm sure the member appreciates that. But we are moving in this area.

Certainly I represent a riding with a significant rural component and I hear many of the same concerns that I'm sure your constituents are passing on to you. We are taking a look at the whole question of equitable funding, which governments of various political stripes have declined to look at over the past number of years.

We have situations across the province where some areas are paying for their policing, others are not paying for their policing. We have to bring fairness back to that system, and when we can do that, I think we're going to be in a position to put more officers on the front lines and address the concerns of rural Ontario.

Mr North: I understand the issue of dollars that you're speaking of, and when I spoke to this issue before I didn't want to ask for dollars with no idea where they were coming from.

At that time I saw revenues from photo-radar as an excellent opportunity for reinvesting in rural policing. Those revenues have now disappeared with the cancellation of photo-radar. However, the policing problem in rural Ontario still remains, so I ask you this: Can you tell me what solutions and answers you had for the obvious costs greater rural policing would incur and where these would come from? And since you had such a compulsion to hold round table discussions in opposition, can you tell me when the next round table discussion on rural policing will be held in Elgin county?

Hon Mr Runciman: There are a number of initiatives under way. The OPP reorganization -- some of those announcements were made yesterday -- what that will accomplish by itself will be placing about 350 more officers out on to the front lines as a result of the reorganization of the OPP. We're looking at a whole range of areas.

I hope to be making an announcement, perhaps in conjunction with the Attorney General, within the next few weeks with respect to the sources of additional funding which can be directed into the law-and-order justice areas to assist us in doing the things that you're concerned about, I'm concerned about and I believe all members of this Legislature are concerned about.


Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): My question is to the Minister of Finance. We know, and I think we all agree, that the current auto legislation under Bill 164 is costly and that it's rampant with fraud. We know the average increases over the past few years have been 12% and we know that some people are experiencing increases of up to 25% a year.

We've seen insurance fraud cases that may amount to $10 million, and we also know that on January 1, 1996, just a couple of months from now, the provisions of Bill 164, known as the loss-of-earnings capacity, go into effect. This will effectively lock in some substantial costs for both the industries and consumers.

Yesterday in this House the minister said that his government had been planning to send the issue out to an all-party committee during the winter break. After giving his commitment some reflective thought I would like to know, is it the minister's intention to continue with this plan?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member knows that the provision he's speaking of is part of the legislation itself in Bill 164 and would not be able to prevented or repealed other than by new legislation.

I would presume that the honourable member wants us to have a comprehensive approach to the auto insurance plan in the province of Ontario and we look forward to working with all members of the House in committee throughout the break so that we can come up with a meaningful comprehensive review of auto insurance in the province of Ontario, and as he knows, we're committed to doing that.

Mr Crozier: I've always wanted comprehensive reviews, but let's just look back a bit. On February 9 of this year, at a meeting of the Toronto insurance brokers, your leader, now the Premier, said that if elected his government would scrap the legislation.

The Conservative critic at that time and I attended a meeting of insurance people in the city of Hamilton and he also indicated that. The minister's own PA, as a matter of fact, has met with, in your own words, "hundreds of groups." The industry has been consulted and they've developed a plan, a plan that appears to have consensus with the Premier, with the now Attorney General, with the PA and with myself. I've consulted with thousands of people who simply want lower insurance premiums.


In short, Mr Minister, I think this has been well consulted over the last year. Every single day that you delay, it costs the insured of Ontario millions of dollars. Will you introduce legislation to amend or rescind, whatever it is you have to do, Bill 164, refer it to committee for consideration and pass fair legislation for Ontario drivers by the end of this current session? Will you do that?

Hon Mr Eves: The honourable member knows full well, if he's been in contact with the industry, that it is not possible to develop a full, comprehensive piece of legislation and have public hearings on it and have a consultative process and pass it through this House before the end of the December. He knows that. It's nice that maybe four people are satisfied, but I think that maybe more than four people will have to be satisfied with respect to any proposed plan, with all due respect to you four individuals.

I have talked to the parliamentary assistant about this matter at some length and I've talked to officials in the ministry. They are working on a comprehensive piece of legislation to replace Bill 164, but we do not want to make the same mistake, quite frankly, that the previous two governments made by rushing into this with some stopgap piece of legislation that is not going to be comprehensive in its outlook.


Mr Bob Rae (York South): A question for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism: The minister, in his announcement, didn't indicate the severity of the cuts, not simply to business but to a number of projects which are industrial research: the Ottawa Heart Institute to develop the commercial potential for artificial heart technology; work with a number of companies that are going to locate elsewhere unless they were seen to be competitive in terms of our granting structures on research; and all the projects under the Ontario network infrastructure program, which are not assistance to business in the sense of a handout but a necessary investment in infrastructure.

I wonder if the minister, as he passes through his briefing notes, can tell us how many thousands of jobs are going to be lost as a result of these cuts. Can the minister tell us that? It must be somewhere in his notes.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): May I tell the leader of the third party that jobs will not be lost, they're going to be gained by what we're doing.

We have inherited a spending crisis, and I can tell you that when we have completed doing what we intend to do in our first term of office -- our first term of office, I stress that -- we will have created 725,000 new jobs because we will have our fiscal house in order. He knows what we said in the Common Sense Revolution, how that will be put in order. It will be done.

Mr Rae: I don't think the minister knows the first thing he's talking about. I'll be charitable to him. This money leverages other money, it leverages funding from industry, it leverages money in terms of research. These are partnerships.

I was at a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Education and Training; he was praising partnerships. Every single one of these investments by government is an investment which promotes additional investment by the private sector. These are all partnerships which are positive: positive for research, positive for development, positive for technology, positive for access to jobs and access to good things.

So when the minister gives his ideological mantra over and over again, perhaps he can tell us, somewhere in those briefing notes -- we all know on this side because we've seen briefing notes, the Liberal Party has seen briefing notes. Come clean and tell us how many thousands of jobs are going to be cancelled as a result of what you've brought in today, how many thousands of jobs are going to be lost.

Hon Mr Saunderson: To the leader of the third party, I would like to say that we are intending and we are working with every sector of the economy. We have met with them since we took office and we have been told by them that what they want is a good economic environment in which to operate their businesses, and that is what we're going to give them.

I'm not reading from any book and I'm not going to. It's not a hard answer to give. It's a very simple answer that we are creating a proper environment. I have said earlier that the 725,000 new jobs will be created when we are finished after our first term.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question, the member for Kitchener.



Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): My question is for the Minister of Labour, if these people over here ever calm down.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order.

Mr Wettlaufer: Minister, yesterday you introduced a bill entitled the Workers' Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act. Would you tell me, please, what are the objectives of the reform measures contained in this bill and why are these steps being taken at this time?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Labour): Yesterday, when we introduced the bill into the House, the reason for the introduction is the fact that in 10 years the unfunded liability of the Workers' Compensation Board has increased from $2.7 billion to a staggering $11.4 billion. Unfortunately, this unfunded liability, which is the largest of its size in all of Canada, has put the future of the benefits for injured workers at grave risk.

What we are endeavouring to do is to deal with the issue of the unfunded liability. Our ultimate objective will be to eliminate it by the year 2014. However, in order to do that, we need to take a look at the governance structure.

Yesterday we put in place and announced that there would be a new multistakeholder board, because unfortunately the other board was not able to deal with the policy issues and the financial issues. It was totally paralysed. So we need a new management structure.

We are also introducing value-for-money audits, where we can look at specific programs and determine if they are being offered in an efficient and an effective manner. We are also going to provide, for the first time, special provisions in the act to deal with fraud, which presently amounts to approximately $150 million per year.

Mr Wettlaufer: I thank the minister for that very informative reply. Minister, the issue of fraud in the workers' compensation system is of concern to all people in Ontario. What steps are being taken to improve the WCB's ability to effectively deal with fraud?

Hon Mrs Witmer: Prior to the introduction of the bill yesterday, we were only able to deal with fraud under the Criminal Code. As a result of the provisions that were introduced yesterday, we will be able to deal with them through the provincial court system. We believe there will be greater access and there will be greater possibility to actually follow through and have convictions.

As well, what we did yesterday was to ensure that those individuals who were guilty of fraud could be fined $25,000. Also, employers could be fined $100,000.

The other thing, up until this time there was no provision in the act that required employers to register with the WCB and as a result we've had a tremendous amount of revenue leakage, money that we simply didn't get. We have now put a requirement into the act that will make it mandatory for a new employer to register with the board within 10 days. If they do not do so, they obviously would be found guilty of fraud.


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. As he knows, we're awaiting what I think is the most important document of the government, and that's the budget. You call it a fiscal statement. We, as you know, have been promised a comprehensive and detailed fiscal report. It was supposed to be in October but was delayed till November, and we understand that, because of the referendum. But I think it's fair to say that Ontario is eagerly awaiting this document, all of Ontario, and certainly the credit rating agencies are looking forward to this document.

You've indicated previously that you would, I think the term you used was, "give us all kinds of advance notice" of when you will be presenting this. I think those were your words. The question is, can you now give us the date that you will be presenting it and can you give us the assurances we need that it will in fact be fully detailed, outlining your revenue, your expenditures and your borrowing requirements and that we in the opposition and the media will have the normal budget lockup provisions; in other words, the pre-presentation detailed briefings that we need?


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Good question.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): That is a good question, and I say to the member for Scarborough-Agincourt that I am pleased that I can positively respond to his question that, yes, we will be providing those types of detail in the statement and we will be going through the normal lockup procedure. I can also indicate to him, although I cannot give him the exact date because I don't know it myself, that it will be in the last half of the month of November, which is what I've been saying for several weeks now.

Mr Phillips: I appreciate that, and I say again that it's a document that we regard, frankly, as long overdue. You well know that we would have strongly urged you to present a normal budget; the first time in the history of the province we don't see it. You've also indicated that it is your intention to provide the Legislature with time for debate on your fiscal statement, time for debate here and I assume at committee. Can you once again assure the House that in your planning, I guess in your role really as House leader, you have scheduled time for the normal debate on this fiscal statement here in the Legislature?

Hon Mr Eves: I will make as much time available for debate about the statement as I can, having regard to the fact that the previous government on some occasions (a) never had any time for debate on budgets, and (b), I think three out of four years, didn't even bother to vote on them. But I will certainly try to make every effort to make certain that we indeed will have some time so members can express their opinions in this legislative chamber with respect to the fall financial statement and with respect to the fiscal situation in the province of Ontario.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Last Thursday, you received a letter in your office which was written by me on behalf of my northern NDP caucus colleagues. In the letter, we expressed to you our grave concern with your proposed cuts to the winter maintenance program, cuts we believe will seriously jeopardize safety in our special part of the province.

We also expressed to you our concern with your responses on what is a very critical issue, and we can only conclude that the problem is you are unfamiliar with the driving conditions in the winter that we and our constituents face. We believe that if you were to experience some of these challenges first hand, you would quickly change your mind with respect to the proposed cuts.

Therefore, my northern colleagues and I have invited you to drive with us in northern Ontario on the routes that will be affected by these cuts. We are prepared to do this at your convenience, with our own vehicles and at our expense. My simple question to you today is, will you join us?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I appreciate the invitation to visit the north, but I can assure the honourable member that I am familiar with the north; I have been up north on numerous occasions.

But the situation that she's inquiring about is winter maintenance. I can assure the honourable member that this government is committed to winter maintenance, and we are spending $130 million to deliver those services. How we're spending that money does not alter the standards; it's how we use that money and better utilize it.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): I say to the minister, by way of supplementary, Minister, stop the dancing. Stop what is really a grotesque charade. Please, no more games. How can you maintain the standards when you're saying that sand and salt spreaders will be reduced by 12.3%? How can you maintain the standards when you attest that the number of plows will be reduced by 10.8%? How can you maintain the standard when 125 seasonal employees will be let go, will be laid off?

What it does mean, sir, by way of a question, is that northern residents will be severely and negatively impacted when it comes to simple things such as a doctor's appointment. More importantly indeed is going to work. There will be more accidents, more people will die, and we wish to avoid anyone in this province conveying to the minister, after a catastrophe has struck, that he has blood on his hands.

We know that he's a reasonable man. He must restore the $6.5 million. You can find the cuts anyplace else but please, please, Mr Minister, not on our backs, not on winter maintenance. Will you come to your good senses -- I know you're capable of doing so -- and give that assurance, for we are scared to death up north.

Hon Mr Palladini: I would like to tell my honourable colleague, obviously he did this job before I did, so he should understand that what he was spending last year was not maximizing the dollars. We have found a way to do it better for less. I want to say once again we have the flexibility to react. In case there is a need and there is a heavy snowfall we have the flexibility to react. Please, we are going to do what it's going to take to do the job.


Mr Harry Danford (Hastings-Peterborough): My question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. It has been widely reported that the 1995 forest fire season was one of the worst on record. As forest products are a valuable part of our economy in Hastings-Peterborough and in many ridings of this province, each year millions of dollars are spent by the government fighting those fires and indeed millions of dollars' worth of timber are also destroyed. Could the minister report to the House today the extent of the damage and indeed the cost to the taxpayers of the 1995 forest fire season?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Minister of Natural Resources, Northern Development and Mines): I'd like to thank my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough for the question. As he's mentioned, we had an extremely severe fire season this year. Drought-like conditions created a lot of hardship on the people, particularly of northern Ontario. We had over 2,000 fires reported this year, over 615,000 hectares burned, and I just want to state how proud we were of the work of the MNR employees and grateful for the assistance of fire crews from across Ontario, across Canada and across the United States that came to help us out at this time.

The final bill for the 1995 forest fire suppression is approximately $100 million. That does not count the lost timber value to the province of Ontario.

Mr Danford: I understand the reason for prescribed burns as a method of controlling forest fires, and also the risks that are associated with this method of control. I also refer to the incident that happened in Dubreuilville as a result of a prescribed burn, and I would ask, could the minister detail what actions he has taken to prevent such a situation not happening again in the future?

Hon Mr Hodgson: The situation this year with the prescribed burns was truly unfortunate. The people of Dubreuilville came very close to losing their homes, and I just want to say that I went up there that day, met with the people, and I want to express on behalf of the Ontario government our appreciation for their patience, their cooperation, along with the people of Wawa and the surrounding area.

As the member from that riding knows, this was one of the better examples of people coming together in a time of crisis and caring about their fellow man. It was an unfortunate situation that I, hopefully, will never see again in this province.

However, prescribed burns have been used since the 1930s in this province. They're an ecologically sound and cost-effective forest management tool. In lots of cases they're used to clean up cutover sites, places where there are slash piles, to prevent serious fires from starting with the dry conditions in the summer.

This year we had unusual weather patterns. When the prescribed burn was ignited around Dubreuilville, the weather traditionally at that time of year becomes damp and there's rain. That didn't happen. We went into an unusual weather pattern and the fire got out of control.

I would like to say though that I ordered a review, it's reported back and the procedures were followed.



Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): To the Minister of Transportation: As you know, the OPP front-line officers, the truck troopers, are saying that the fines for unsafe trucks are a joke. The families of the victims are saying they're laughable. The inquest has said that fines must be increased significantly.

Mr Minister, are you going to stand up and tell this House that you as Minister of Transportation are in favour of significant increases in the fines for the unsafe trucks that are on our roads 24 hours a day in the province of Ontario? Are you in favour of increased fines?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I would like to tell the honourable member that as far as the recommendations that the inquest has notified us, we have already implemented them and they are part of our safety plan. The fines in the province of Ontario are some of the highest across the country. As far as the fines are concerned, we will definitely recommend that these fines will be increased, but we do not have that capability to do it on our own. I would like to inform that to the honourable member.

Mr Colle: In the paper today the minister says that it's up to the JPs to decide the level of fines. What do JPs have to do with fines for unsafe trucks on Ontario highways? I ask you again, Mr Minister, are you going to support the front-line officers who have blood on their boots from cleaning up the traffic accidents? Are you going to support the families and the inquests who want some serious fines for the constant violations that take place on our highways? Are you going to do something about it and not study it for six months or a year but stand for stiff fines?

Hon Mr Palladini: One thing that I would like to tell my honourable member: I know I am a rookie in this House, but one thing about it is that this safety plan -- he might want to read a newspaper and believe what that newspaper says, but this safety plan with OPP involvement has been an ongoing thing for the last three months. So just because you read it in a newspaper doesn't make it correct.

As far as the implementation on the increases of the fines, yes, I do not have that authority. It's part of the legislation. We can make a recommendation on the amount, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to come through. This government, this minister, is committed to road safety and we will do what it's going to take to ensure that our roads are safe in Ontario.



Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I move that notwithstanding standing order 96(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot items 5 and 6.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I would like unanimous consent to move the motion for the membership of standing committees for this session.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

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

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Dispense, it's been read once.

Hon Mr Eves: Standing committee on the administration of justice --

Mr Cooke: It's agreeable.

Hon Mr Eves: Is it? Okay.

The Speaker: Is it agreeable? Agreed.

Shall the motion carry? Carried.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I request unanimous consent to move the motion setting out the committee schedule for this session.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Do we have unanimous consent? Agreed.

Hon Mr Eves: I move that the following schedule for committee meetings be established for this session:

The standing committee on administration of justice may meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on estimates may meet on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on finance and economic affairs may meet on Thursday mornings and Thursday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on general government may meet on Thursday mornings and Thursday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on government agencies may meet on Wednesday mornings;

The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly may meet Wednesday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on the Ombudsman may meet on Wednesday mornings;

The standing committee on public accounts may meet on Thursday mornings;

The standing committee on regulations and private bills may meet on Wednesday mornings;

The standing committee on resources development may meet on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, following routine proceedings;

The standing committee on social development may meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, following routine proceedings; and

That no standing or select committee may meet except in accordance with this schedule or as ordered by the House.

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Oh, we'll have debate on --

Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, may I have --

The Speaker: Order. We have some debate on this motion.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I want to go on the record very early and I'll be very brief. I know it's a substantive motion; this is housekeeping. But I want to go on the record in this Legislature, and the same time from the last time, that the expense and cost and the overriding issues I have with respect to the Ombudsman committee and the cost of setting it up, striking staff for it and taxpayers' money being spent on the committee I consider to be a colossal waste of time, effort and money. I think it would probably be of good service to the people of this Legislature and the people of Ontario that that committee should be struck down and not resurrected again during this Legislature. I put that forward. Maybe they can debate it at the committee itself, make a recommendation and bring it forward to do just that.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I certainly had no intention to participate in a debate, but I've been provoked. The situation, as suggested by my colleague from Etobicoke West, is most troubling. It seems to me if we are serious in having an Ombudsman as an officer of this assembly who is responsible for handling problems with bureaucracy for our constituents, that it is of significant importance that this officer be accountable to the assembly and that the assembly have supervision or oversight of what the Ombudsman is able to do.

When the Ombudsman essentially reports to the committee on issues that the Ombudsman has been unable to resolve or that the government has not properly responded to in the view of the Ombudsman, then surely it is the responsibility of this assembly to have a committee that can hear those issues and can properly deal with them and deal with them in a non-partisan way.

I certainly don't intend to prolong the debate, but I did want to go on record, on one of those very few occasions when I'm in disagreement with my friend from Etobicoke West, where I wanted to indicate that I believe it is the responsibility of the assembly to properly provide a vehicle for accountability for the Ombudsman and for the government ministers who must respond to reports of the Ombudsman on problems that individuals in this province have with bureaucracy.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I'll be pretty brief too. I think too that if we have an Ombudsman, we must have an Ombudsman committee. We have gone through this for years, trying to get the Ombudsman accountable to the committee or to the Speaker, and it was one hassle after another.

I just want to make sure, if the member wants to move to cancel the Ombudsman committee, maybe we should cancel the Ombudsman herself too.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I want to say in less than half a minute how delighted I am that at long last the committees of this Legislature are being established. I'm wondering what has taken the government so long to do this.

The Speaker: Carried? Carried.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Pursuant to standing order 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of November 14, 1995.

As you know, Mr Speaker, next week is a constituency week, according to the parliamentary calendar. As agreed to by the three parties, the House will not sit on Monday, November 13. Instead, the House will sit on Friday, November 17, beginning with government orders from 11 am to 1:30 pm, after which we will proceed to routine proceedings. The House will adjourn at the completion of routine proceedings on Friday, November 17.

On Tuesday, November 14, we would like to begin with second reading of Bill 15, An Act to amend the Workers' Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

We will continue with second reading of Bill 15 on Wednesday, November 15, and Thursday, November 16.

For Thursday morning's private members' business on November 16, we will consider ballot item number 5, standing in the name of the member for Port Arthur, and ballot item number 6, standing in the name of the member for Sault Ste Marie.

On Friday, November 17, we will proceed to the second reading of Bill 5 and the second reading of Bill 6.




Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee has recommended that North York Branson Hospital merge with York-Finch General Hospital;

"Whereas this recommendation will remove emergency and inpatient services currently provided by North York Branson Hospital, which will seriously jeopardize medical care and the quality of health for the growing population which the hospital serves, many being elderly people who in numerous cases require treatment for life-threatening medical conditions;

"We petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendations contained within the report of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council hospital restructuring committee as it pertains to North York Branson Hospital so that it retains, at minimum, emergency and inpatient services."

It is signed by 26 of my constituents, and I have affixed my signature as well.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from my community signed by 504 individuals.

"Whereas the funding for social services in the Centres de santé communautaires of Hamilton and Niagara has been cut by 100%;

"Whereas the French Language Services Act ensures the delivery of French-language social and health services to francophones in designated cities, such as Hamilton, Welland and Port Colborne;

"Whereas the needs and feasibility studies carried out after the implementation of the French Language Services Act recommended the establishment of community health centres in the regions of Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara to ensure delivery of French-language services;

"Whereas the health centres are the only organizations ensuring the delivery of social services in French since there are no designated bilingual positions in the other organizations of these designated cities;

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

"We demand that the Legislative Assembly immediately stop its attack on French-language services in Ontario. The Centres de santé communautaires of Hamilton and Niagara are the only agencies offering French-language social services because there are no bilingual designated positions in the other agencies in our communities. We expect the Legislative Assembly to demonstrate clearly that Franco-Ontarians are an integral part of the province of Ontario, to immediately review the cuts which have affected those health centres and to re-establish the funding of social services and ensure the future of social services and health services in French in the Hamilton-Wentworth and Niagara community health centres."

I proudly add my name to theirs.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have yet another petition on behalf of the member for Simcoe East. One of these days he's going to have to pay me back.

This is a petition in respect of market value assessment, and I'll summarize it. The 904 signatures attached are all in objection to the proposed market value assessment for the county of Simcoe, and I present this today.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition that is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It says here:

"Whereas during the 1970s the government of the day developed measures that curbed the growth of government by involving local communities in the provision of legal services; the criminal justice field began to recognize the benefits of community-based justice options; privatization was considered more cost-effective while strengthening government ministries through community participation in the justice system.

"Since this time, non-profit agencies across Ontario have developed effective programs and present a strong local face to the justice system while supporting partnerships with an ever-widening community base. Community programs have proven to be effective in comparison to directly operated government services. Community-based options reduce the cost of incarceration while promoting public safety.

"Whereas community-based justice programs such as community service orders, diversion alternative measures, bail supervision etc are of proven value; the screening and supervision of accused and offenders within well-defined programs contribute to public safety; for over 20 years community-based options have made a positive contribution to the welfare of community in Ontario;

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

"We believe these programs must not be viewed as dispensable. As with many recent cuts, short-term fiscal expediency holds no long-term value. Credible links with the community and quality programs for the citizens of Ontario must be maintained."

With a number of people who have put their signature here, I've also affixed my signature.


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has introduced legislation, Bill 7, to drastically amend the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Standards Act and other labour legislation which had been brought forward by successive Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic governments in the recognition of the legitimate rights of employees in Ontario;

"Whereas the implementation of Bill 7 will undermine the fundamental and democratic rights of employees to organize and to have access to collective bargaining;

"Whereas employers have raised concerns about how Bill 7 will result in an increased number of strikes; and

"Whereas the Minister of Labour is proceeding with Bill 7 without consultation with employee groups and without conducting public hearings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Minister of Labour to withdraw Bill 7."

It's signed by many people in my riding and I've affixed my signature to it as well.


Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): I'd like to present this petition on behalf of the people who live in the Dundas region.

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

"We demand a public inquiry into the conduct of all crown and law enforcement officials and employees at all levels involved in the investigation of Karla Homolka, and in particular the circumstances of the negotiation of the plea bargain arrangement. We also demand that all day passes and other privileges be revoked and her full 12-year sentence be served in its entirety."

This is signed by approximately 260 people.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I have a petition here from the parents and children of F.H. Miller Public School in my riding and from the executive of the school:

"Whereas the Sweeney task force has recommended the amalgamation of the city of York's 18,000 students and East York's 15,000 students and Toronto's 78,000 students into one mega-board; this would create a new board of almost 113,000 students, the largest in Canada;

"Whereas the following could have this effect: one trustee would be responsible for all the city of York, a city of 130,000 people; before- and after-school programs would likely cost more or could possibly be cancelled; family centres may only exist if fees are charged for this service; kindergartens may lose their full-time teacher's aide; fees may have to be charged for supervision on professional activity days and for many summer school programs, including the kindergarten summer program;

"We, the undersigned, object to the amalgamation of these three boards into one mega-board."


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I have a petition here that's signed by a number of people from not only within the riding of Cochrane South but in other parts of the province, and addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has introduced legislation called Bill 7 to drastically amend the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Standards Act and other labour legislation which had been brought forward by successive Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic governments in recognition of the legitimate rights of employees in Ontario;

"Whereas the implementation of Bill 7 will undermine the fundamental and democratic right of employees to organize and to have access to collective bargaining;

"Whereas employers have raised concerns about how Bill 7 will result in an increased number of strikes; and

"Whereas the Minister of Labour is proceeding with Bill 7 without consultation with employee groups and without conducting any public hearings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Minister of Labour to withdraw Bill 7."

I affix my signature.


Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I have a petition today on behalf of 1,792 residents of Chatham and Kent county, very short and to the point.

"To the Ontario Legislature:

"We, as concerned citizens of Kent county, do not want to have the Chatham Jail closed. Some of our concerns: safety of our community, our taxes will go up, and it will have a negative effect on business in this community."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): "Whereas the PC government of Mike Harris, under the influence of corporate special interests, has introduced Bill 7, which would roll back rights of workers that have been achieved over several decades;

"Whereas this legislation is part of a pattern of cutting back protection for people in Ontario who don't have power or influence, including reduced welfare payments, cuts to health and safety training, a cap on pay equity wages for low-paid women, gutting of the wage protection program, a freeze on the minimum wage and lower workers' compensation benefits;

"Whereas the effects of Bill 7 would be felt in every workplace across Ontario, from Windsor to Cornwall to the Manitoba border;

"Whereas the people who will be affected by this legislation have a natural right to be heard by MPPs before such sweeping changes are rammed through the House;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to hold public hearings in at least eight cities in all parts of this province and listen to why Bill 7 should be withdrawn."

I affix my signature.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Wingham, in the riding of Huron, to the Minister of Health as follows:

"We address this letter to you, as our MPP, to voice our concerns regarding the threat of withdrawal of 24-hour emergency medical coverage at Wingham and District Hospital due to the lack of physicians. We ask that the Minister of Health act immediately upon the findings of the Scott report to recruit doctors to rural hospitals.

"We know of citizens within our town who would have definitely lost their lives in transit to the nearest local hospital.

"As taxpayers and constituent residents, we, at all costs, refuse to accept anything less than 24-hour emergency treatment available serving the town of Wingham. There is no pricetag to place on human life, and savings must be found elsewhere."


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Minister of Labour has introduced legislation, Bill 7, to drastically amend the Labour Relations Act, the Employment Standards Act and other labour legislation which has been brought forward by successive Progressive Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic governments in the recognition of the legitimate rights of employees in Ontario;

"Whereas the implementation of Bill 7 will undermine the fundamental democratic rights of employees to organize and to have access to collective bargaining;

"Whereas employers have raised concerns about how Bill 7 will result in an increased number of strikes; and

"Whereas the Minister of Labour is proceeding with Bill 7 without consultation with employee groups and without conducting public hearings;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Minister of Labour to withdraw the bill dated November 1, 1995."

I will affix my signature to this petition.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 8, An Act to repeal job quotas and to restore merit-based employment practices in Ontario / Projet de loi 8, Loi abrogeant le contingentement en matière d'emploi et rétablissant en Ontario les pratiques d'emploi fondées sur le mérite.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Riverdale, I think, had the floor last.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Yes. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm still fiddling with my petition. It was brought back to me.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Because it was photocopied.

Ms Churley: Oh, I see -- photocopied. I have things to learn still.

When I stopped speaking yesterday on this bill, I was urging the members across the floor, the members of the government, to come forward quickly with some new legislation.

I got the impression from listening to some members in the House, certainly when the minister spoke about repealing our bill, notwithstanding the fact that she and all her government members continue to talk about quotas where no quotas exist -- they know that if they don't continue to use that word, they don't have much of a leg to stand on in terms of repealing this bill, which is why it's in the title and why they keep saying it.

In one of their favourite quotes, I believe somebody said, "If it walks like a quota and looks like a quota, it is a quota." That's cute, that's really cute, but it continues to perpetuate a misunderstanding. To be kind -- unlike my leader who used a stronger word when I sat in that chair there -- it certainly misrepresents what the bill is all about. I personally am very saddened that that has happened, because I think it preys on people's fears, especially during high unemployment. I said yesterday that of course people are going to be afraid and object to the bill when they're told that it's going to prevent their son from getting a job because somebody with less qualifications will get it because they may be disabled or of a different colour or a woman.

The reality is that that's not what our bill is all about. The bill, as has been eloquently pointed out now by other members from my caucus, including the member for London Centre and our leader, was to try to attempt to redress the imbalance out there in the marketplace. Quite a few big businesses and even some small businesses admit that there are problems there, and everybody in this House admits that there are problems. You just have to look at the statistics, and whether you like it or not, if you look at them, they show that there really is a problem that we need to deal with, and this government has admitted that.

The minister has said that she just didn't like our approach and she would come back with a new plan. In the meantime, we've been told that the Human Rights Commission will be asked to deal with this problem on a one-on-one basis. Well, any member here -- perhaps new members don't know or perhaps they do, but if they don't, the Human Rights Commission is not the place to deal with individual complaints like that.

When we're talking about systemic discrimination, it makes far more sense to have a kind of system in place out there in the workforce, in the workplace that will create a climate where change will take place. The Human Rights Commission, which is already terribly backlogged and would need a tremendous amount of unavailable money put into it to start dealing with complaint after complaint after complaint, would take years to get to those complaints on an individual basis. I think we all know that's not the answer.

That brings us to: What is the answer? What is the minister going to come forward with? I certainly urge the government to make this a priority. Certainly, when we came into government, we didn't look at each other one day and say: "Gee, there are just not enough controversial things to do. Why don't we create employment equity legislation? That should be fun." We had heard from groups from all over Ontario before the election, during the election and after the election about the fact that the real problem was that there wasn't fair hiring practice in the marketplace out there. People came to us saying that that needed to be redressed.

As others have pointed out, we weren't the first government, the first people to grapple with this problem. The federal government, even the federal Tories, came in with a weak kind of bill. All parties on all levels have made attempts to deal with this problem. But the voluntary system and the system that we had in place here in Ontario wasn't working and isn't working, and there are all kinds of studies and all kinds of statistics that prove that.

I know that when we look in the mirror and when we look around at who our friends are, and my colleague the member for London Centre talked about this quite eloquently, I think it's human nature to feel more comfortable with and want to be around people of our own class -- it happens -- our own race -- it happens -- people from our own kind of culture who talk the same language we do, who look like we do and have generally come from the same cultural background. I think that's probably human nature, which is part of the problem and which is why there is systemic discrimination.

The problem is that most of the time people don't know what's happening, don't know that they're discriminating. That's why I find it incredibly odious that part of this bill requires, demands that workplaces that have already done studies have been asked, they've been told, that they must destroy this documentation.

That is so odious, and in my view it goes against the grain of what this government talks about, although there have been several incidents from this government lately that are really making me wonder about its commitment to democracy, including the alleged comments by the minister responsible for women's issues in terms of trying to silence people if they don't agree with this government. I suggest that's a very serious matter. It strikes at the very heart of a democracy that we value in this country, in this province.


There are connections here, because I believe that in a democracy we want to do everything we can once we discover that there's unfair treatment in our society, and as has been pointed out time and time again, it's not a small minority group over here somewhere that's just making problems and won't shut up and won't go away and, "What's the matter with them anyway?" It's women, it's disabled people, it's people of colour, it's first nations people. These groups add up to I believe over 60% -- I forget the percentage exactly -- but well over 60% of the population.

Surely, as we all admit, we want to do something to make sure that all people in Ontario are given equal opportunity, and equal opportunity is about having the opportunity, the chance to go into a job interview, to first of all hear about the job interview, to hear that the job is open, and then to go into an interview with the same chance as anybody else of being hired.

What's been interesting for the companies that have done the research and the documentation -- I sincerely hope, if nothing else about this new bill repealing our bill that this government will see fit to change, that you will allow the companies that have done the research, which is very, very valuable research not only to them but I'm sure in the future, with future governments -- I'm going to tease the bears a little bit here. Given what's happening over there these days, I expect to find a few of those members back over here in a few years. I think at that time, if this government is not prepared to use this documentation in a positive way, then certainly others would be, including this caucus.

Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): The Blue Jays will be back too.

Ms Churley: Yes, the Blue Jays will be back one day too.

But when we accept the fact that there is inequality, what do we do about it? What we did as a government was, we went out and we consulted very widely and very broadly and had committee hearings. We had many, many discussions at our cabinet committee, our justice committee on this issue. We tried to strike a balance. There are certainly some people in the equity community who wanted us to go further and there were some in the business community who felt we were going too far, and I think what we ended up doing was striking a pretty fair balance.

The reason why we all keep coming back to the fact that this is not a quota system is pure and simple: It isn't a quota system. It gives people the opportunity to create reasonable goals and timetables. If you don't ask the workplaces out there to come up with strategies, to look at their workforce, to figure out what is going on within that workforce, what the makeup of the workforce is, if you don't require people to do that, then we're not going to find out what the problem is and we're not going to be able to fix it.

That is the reality. That is the reality of what has been going on in Ontario all this time. All of the other efforts, including within this government -- yes, when we were in government as well, it became very clear that we have tremendous problems within government in terms of equity hiring in terms of first nations, in terms of the disabled in particular I would say.

What do we do about that? The reality is, those kinds of problems show up within other workplaces as well. If you don't have the information, if you don't have the statistics, then you simply can't fix it. When we know what the problems are, then reasonable people will sit down and say: "Okay, this is what we've got here. We're going to come up, together with the workers, with a plan to fix this." Our government set up a body that would aid and assist the workplace to come up with solutions to the problem.

I think this government needs to go out and consult with people and talk to people, the people who are affected by repealing this legislation, about what it means to them. Talk directly to aboriginal people, talk directly to disabled people, talk directly to women, who I think out of all of the equity-seeking groups have done far better than disabled and other minority communities that are still stuck in job ghettos in many, many categories. Go out and talk to people and find out what is going on.

I suppose in some ways you're going to have to repeat what we did, because you've got to hear the stories from the real people. You've got to talk to the people who are affected, because otherwise, if you're just coming back to the mirror again, if you just talk to yourself in the mirror, you're going to hear basically what you want to hear. That's certainly more comforting, to have our own views reaffirmed: "Oh yes, this is what I believe, and everything's fine. We don't need to deal with this. All the people I know seem to be doing fine, seem to be getting hired. If somebody is qualified, no problem, they'll get an interview, they'll get a job."

We come back again to merit. It seems to me that so much of this debate and this discussion is focused on what we mean by merit, and it's interesting listening to all of the speakers in the House. We all agree -- if nothing else, we all agree on one thing -- that people should be hired on the basis of merit.

I forget who it was, but I believe when I was in the chair earlier in the week, one of the Conservative members -- because I refuse to use "Progressive Conservative" any more with this gang in the House; no more, that's it, just "Conservative" -- one of the Conservatives talked about the fact that he found that the people who seemed to be most distressed and upset by our employment equity bill were actually people from the equity groups, people of colour or the disabled or whoever.

Of course. I come back again, if you tell people they're not going to be hired because they're the best for the job, if you tell people that they're going to be part of a quota, if you tell people this, of course they're going to feel diminished, they're going to feel belittled.

Very few people in our society want to get a job on the basis of that. If you tell them that, they're going to say, "No, no, I've got too much pride for that." So no wonder you heard from those particular people during the campaign that they didn't want this kind of legislation. People want to be hired on the basis of merit, and that's sincerely what this bill is all about. That is what our bill was all about, because I come back to the fact that statistics show that isn't happening out there.

I believe, if I'm not mistaken -- and I've said this before, but I'm beginning to wonder now -- that everybody believes that there's a problem. Am I not correct? Am I not correct in thinking that? Therefore, I don't know what that outburst was all about, because we all agree on that, and we all agree that there are people out there from other -- who aren't, frankly -- let's say it -- white males who aren't getting jobs when they have the capacity, the ability to do the job.


Why? Why is that happening? Have you answered that question? Surely you're not saying it's because those people don't have the merit.

So what is the problem? They're certainly not getting in to the interviews. Maybe sometimes it's cultural differences within an interview. Maybe because of the way our culture is structured, and when people come for a job interview, their particular -- and often it's unwritten and coded and we don't even know ourselves the kind of body language, the kind of signals, the kind of buzzwords we're looking for that make us feel comfortable. So much of that stuff is unconscious. That's a fact; that's a reality. That's a reality.

But then what? When we know that, when we accept -- and again, there's a body of evidence. We're not making this up; there's a body of evidence that shows that this happens. Then again, what we're doing is we're coming back to, what do we do to fix it? How do we in the province of Ontario come to grips with the fact that there are unfair hiring practices out there? How do we come to grips with the fact that there are people with merit, with all kinds of abilities, with degrees -- and I've certainly met all kinds of people from other countries, of different races, different ethnic backgrounds, with incredible expertise, incredible abilities, who come and say they can't get a job. They can't even get an interview.

There's a problem, and I would like to hear that acknowledged again today from the members of the government when they speak to this bill. I'd like to hear that reaffirmed, that we agree that there's a problem.

The Human Rights Commission is not going to fix it. We know that. So let's not even play that game. Let's just get off that, because we know it was something to say when the minister first came in the House because she didn't have a solution. But that is not the answer.

So what I'm hoping to hear from some of the thoughtful backbenchers today, and I know there are some there -- no, seriously -- who have given this issue some serious thought and can come up today with some solutions that you think will work. But don't continue to talk about the Human Rights Commission. That will not deal with the problem.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, if I might, on a point of order about late shows scheduled for this evening: It is my understanding that the following members have agreed with the cabinet ministers involved to defer their late shows scheduled for this evening: one standing in the name of the member for Fort William, one standing in the name of the member for Riverdale, one standing in the name of the member for Hamilton East and the one standing in the name of the member for Windsor-Sandwich.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Agreed? Agreed.

Questions or comments?

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): I thank the honourable member for Riverdale for her comments respecting Bill 8. My reply takes a couple of forms. Firstly, I want to respond to her concerns that we are not addressing the problems that some members of our society face when dealing with discrimination in the workplace.

Are there problems that have to be faced? Most assuredly there are. The issue, though, is how does government, how do we as a society face those problems? I think we as a government have made the determination that coercion is not the answer. Forcing people into set moulds is not the answer. Numerical targets are not the answer. Huge fines are not the answer. There must be a better way in order to change some societal attitudes and some individual attitudes in order to ensure that merit is the principle by which we make hiring and promotion decisions.

Our government will be introducing an equal opportunity plan which is non-legislative and non-coercive to work in partnership with business, in partnership with the employees, to ensure that that message is loud and clear.

The honourable member for Riverdale said that the Human Rights Commission cannot fix all of these problems. In its present form, she is correct. That is why we have made a commitment, both during the campaign and subsequent to that campaign, to ensure that the Human Rights Commission is focused on its original mandate to protect individual rights, to protect persons who have been discriminated against and to ensure that those persons have a remedy that is quick and to the point and deals with the issue at hand rather than having a commission that is all over God's half-acre trying to solve everything for everybody.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): The more and more I listen to the Conservative Party, I don't understand what they're speaking about in employment equity, and my job in this House is not to convince them. I think they're beyond convincing what employment equity is all about, because I really deal with people themselves. The member for Riverdale was appealing to you all about taking another focus of what employment equity's about. I think it's falling on deaf ears anyhow, but again I'm going to make the attempt.

I want to emphasize really that what you're doing is undoing justice which was sought by people who have been subject to discrimination for decades. They want that to be revisited and make sure that they have access to opportunities, and that is not being done with your bill at all. If you'll take a look at it closely, that's not being done.

Employment equity legislation is not about protecting the four designated groups at all. You may say, "We're only protecting the four designated groups," and the other one, five, which are francophones, it's not doing that. The employment equity was talking about four. I'll remind you they had excluded the francophones.

I want to ask them, what do they tell the thousands of disabled who are qualified disabled and competent, who have merit, who have been shut out? What do you tell them when you shut them out of the process and they have been denied because they don't have proper access to the workplace? What do you tell them? Do you tell them that you have a bill about job quotas? What do you tell them? You have nothing in place, and I hope that I'm appealing to the people outside to put pressure on every single one of you to make sure that you bring us in an employment equity bill that is fair.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I just want to support the comments that were made by my friend the member for Riverdale, disagreeing strongly with the member for Brampton South, as with all the other members who speak to this issue.

Goals and timetables, as we've set out in this act, are not quotas. What we say in the document, Bill 79, and the act that we passed is that employers are asked to make reasonable efforts. Quotas say this: One in four or one in three or one in two shall be hired. That's what quotas are all about. This document that we have passed, this Bill 79 that we have passed, is not that. They know that clearly, we know it, and the difference is, what do people believe?

If you don't read the act you'll end up believing the Tories because they got elected on this, and if you read it you will realize that mendacity is the rule of the time and this is what they've done. Goals and timetables, as we've set them here in this act, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts, are exactly that. It says to employers, "As long as you're dealing with this -- you, employers -- identifying the barriers and as long as you're making reasonable efforts to represent the workforce around you, then you're doing your job." If employers deny, refuse to do that, then you fine them. What's wrong with that?

The member for Brampton South says, "Well, you can't coerce them." We argue that if you leave it voluntarily, as has been done before 1974, it won't work. You've got to tell those who refuse to make reasonable efforts that if they're not doing it, they get fined. That's what we're talking about; that's what the member for Riverdale was talking about. In order to make things even, because things are uneven in society with the designated groups, you've got to do something like Bill 79.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I'm happy to respond to the comments of the member for Riverdale. I have to note that the approach taken by the honourable member is somewhat different from the approach taken by the leader of the third party. I found her review of the proposed bill quite helpful and, I thought, quite sincere.

The leader of the third party has, in his usually eloquent way, characterized our government as a bunch of "Reform Party yahoos." He has also characterized Bill 8 as a "Neanderthal policy of patriarchy."

Now, I do not have the leader of the third party's wonderful eloquent sense, but I can assure the members of the third party that I have had an opportunity to deal with the legislation in my humble and modest legal career. I've also had an opportunity to review the bill recently.

I have to say, although it was a struggle for me, despite the fact that somehow I managed to get into the same law school as the leader of the third party, although I'm sure he wouldn't believe that, it is not difficult to find in this legislation the kind of heavy-handed implications that the constituents in my riding raised to me when I went to their doors about employment equity.

It is perceived by the public as being quotas. When a layperson is introduced to the language of the legislation, it would be my assertion that they would draw the same conclusion that the act contains quotas.

It is our position that this legislation is unnecessary, unfair and ineffective.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Riverdale, you have two minutes.

Ms Churley: I should say to the previous member that perhaps one of the reasons why my language wasn't as strong as my leader's is that, as I said yesterday, I'm one of the deputy Deputy Chairs, and experiencing what it's like in the chair to --

Mr Marchese: Decorum.

Ms Churley: Yes, decorum. I have to tell him though, and disappoint him, that I agree very much with my leader's words about the title of the bill and what's been said about the bill. I have to assure you of that very, very strongly. I agree with my leader's words. I used the word, I believe, "misunderstanding" or something gentle like that today, but certainly, as I stated before, there are no quotas in this bill.

As for the member for Brampton South, all I can say, again, is that he's repeated -- over and over people have repeated -- that there is a problem but that they're going back to a voluntary system. We would have liked that too, but it didn't work.

Human Rights Commission? Tell me how much money you're going to put into it. Tell me how you're going to make it work. Tell me what you're going to ask them not to do that's so important out there besides discrimination in the workplace that they have to do that's very important work. You haven't talked about that. But even with enough money thrown at it, it doesn't deal with systemic discrimination. Just take a look at it and you'll understand that.

But I'd say in closing, talking about looking in a mirror, let us just look around the Legislature, for heaven's sake. Let's look at each other here.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Oh, I see. I've heard this before.

Ms Churley: Well, the member for Etobicoke West is saying, "Oh yes, we've heard this one before." It's a reality, isn't it? Out of 82, you've got 11 women. We have four out of 17. We have four in the Liberals out of 30. We have one person of colour. We used to have -- my time is up?

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Cochrane South has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing concerning the impact of provincial cutbacks on local property taxes. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.

Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Wilson Heights has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism concerning funding for Secutron Inc. This matter will be debated after six o'clock this evening.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth North): It's a great honour to give this, my first speech in the House. It's my understanding it's a tradition to talk about the previous member and a little bit about the riding, so I'd like to talk about Mr Don Abel, who I consider to be a total gentleman.

Mr Bisson: He'll put that in his campaign literature next time.

Mr Skarica: That's fine.

It is said that the measure of a man is not how he conducts himself in victory but how he perseveres in defeat. It was obvious early on in the election that Mr Abel had no chance of winning, even though he was personally very popular. Everyone knew this. I did, the Liberal opponent knew it, and so did Mr Abel.

I'd like to inform the members of the House that even with the knowledge of certain defeat, Mr Abel persevered, he worked 18 hours a day, he campaigned probably as hard as anyone else in the province, and I think the members of the third party in this House should be very honoured to have been associated with him. I consider Don Abel to be a personal friend of mine, and I don't mind if he puts these comments in his campaign literature if he wishes to do so.

I'd like to talk briefly about Wentworth North. It is the horseshoe in the Golden Horseshoe. The Niagara Escarpment, designated as one of the world's biosphere reserves, curves in the riding from Ancaster into Waterdown and encircles Dundas. These three towns and surrounding regions are a delicious combination of rural, suburban and urban areas.

I grew up in Greensville, in the town of Flamborough, as did the honourable member for Don Mills, who is now the Chair of Management Board, and I can tell you that the community is very proud of him. Greensville is on the lip of the Niagara Escarpment, surrounded by numerous conservation areas, and there are a number of panoramic and breathtaking views of the escarpment and valleys and waters that can be seen from there. As a child my fondest memories are of playing in and about a number of waterfalls there, Websters Falls and Tews Falls.

Unfortunately, a great cloud has settled over the community of Greensville in the form of an application to put in one of North America's largest dumps only a scant few yards from some of the most breathtaking and scenic wonders to be found in this province, if not in the world. I am committed to dispersing this cloud, preserving this magnificent area for the benefit of all future generations to come.

I spoke earlier that it was an honour to serve in the House, and really, it's a wonder as well. Some who know me would totally agree with that. I'm an immigrant to this country, as a number of people here have mentioned. When my family arrived in 1958, we had no money, we knew no one and we barely spoke English. Notwithstanding that, this province allowed me to get a good education. It allowed me to go to school. After my second year at McMaster, I went to the University of Toronto law school.

It was amazing to me when I arrived at the University of Toronto law school that I was there. One minute I was a kid from the wilds of Greensville, and the next minute I was attending University of Toronto law school with very prominent people. For example, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed -- in fact I'm proud -- to tell you that I was a classmate of the honourable member for York South, who went on to attain the distinguished titles of leader of the third party and former Premier.

The bottom line is that I grew up in Ontario, and it was the land of opportunity when I grew up. If you worked hard, you could better yourself. You could lead a comfortable life regardless of humble beginnings.

Regrettably, as previously mentioned by another member, Ontario today has changed. This was emphasized to me a year ago when nobody in this party had ever heard of me, and I'd like to relate, if I could, a story which has the advantage of being true.

I recall my two sons, who were 17 and 15 at the time -- and they're still my babies and they're going to hate that I said that, but I recall, and this is a true story, they were talking about where they were going to emigrate to when they finished school, because the people that were talking -- my two sons were talking with their friends -- were white males.

Why were they talking like that? It's simply because the opportunities that I had and that many of us here in this House had were not available to them, and there are two reasons for that: One is that the overspending by governments for a long time had robbed them of many opportunities and, second, they were deprived of the few opportunities that were left by what I consider to be a very malicious and discriminating law.


You've talked about rhetoric and you've talked about studies, but those children knew intuitively something that's not been mentioned in this House by any of the opposition members.

If I could, I'd like to refer to a study. I'll refer later to one of the members referring to, "Let's look at the evidence; let's look at the studies." Well, here's one. It was reported in the Hamilton Spectator on October 1, 1994. Professor Groarke did an analysis and he stated:

"If the goals set out in Bill 79" -- the prior government's legislation -- "that came into effect last month are seriously applied, many companies in Ontario will have to avoid hiring able-bodied white men for 10 to 15 years."

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What does that mean for able-bodied white women?

Mr Skarica: "Instead of promoting non-discrimination, employment equity will end up making young men pay the price of past hiring practices and social trends, even though it's older men who benefited from them by getting seniority and good positions."

So your law, basically, meant it was something like a biblical plague, that the sins of the fathers were going to be visited on the children.

Your member for Lake Nipigon said to us, "What about the children?" Well, what about my children? What about the children of the people in this place? What about the children of millions of people in Ontario?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): What about your daughters?

Mr Skarica: We'll get to them in a minute.

What was truly shocking and disturbing was the fact that this law was discrimination, and discrimination in any form is evil.

Your member, the member for Fort York, indicated, "Look at the studies." Just so I cannot be accused of misquoting him, I have Hansard here and I'd like to quote what he said, because we've heard a lot of rhetoric in this House but not a lot of evidence. He said:

"Is this government not intent on looking at this kind of research that has been done? Is this government not interested in listening to that? I know they're not listening now, including the minister, I understand that, but if they simply look at the record -- "

Well, what is the record? I decided the member for Fort York might have a good idea there and I conceded that maybe we should look at the record. I went looking for evidence, and what better place to look for the truth than to go to a publication renowned for its unbiased reporting of just the facts, the Toronto Star.

The Toronto Star indicates as follows in an article dated July 26, 1995, entitled "Employment Equity Simply Wasn't Necessary." They refer to two studies, the record, as referred to by the member for Fort York:

"Two studies by the now defunct Economic Council of Canada are relevant here. In 1991, it released a study called New Faces in the Crowd."

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): It's not an editorial.

Mr Skarica: It's not an editorial, it's fact. As the member for Fort York kept yelling out, "It's a fact, it's a fact." Well, these are the facts.

"This study, done by the Economic Council of Canada, concluded that Canada had successfully assimilated immigrants from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and that there was no observable tendency towards discriminating against immigrants from Third World countries.

"Another study called Canadian Social Trends, a 1995 study published in the 1995 edition of StatsCan, indicated as follows:

"`Members of visible minorities were as likely as other Canadians to be employed in professional occupations. These simple facts utterly deny the picture of a society seething with racial tensions and hostilities so lovingly painted by the Rae government and its ideologues.'"

Your government indicates to us that we are slaves to ideology, that we have an ideology and we're going to go along with that ideology no matter what. What about you? Look at the dates of those studies, 1991 and 1992. Even if there was no observable evidence of discrimination against minority groups, the following year after those two studies --

Mr Wildman: How can you say that when 80% of aboriginals are unemployed?


Mr Skarica: You told us to look at the studies. The studies are there.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member across from the Conservative Party -- I've got to take a look; he's in the wrong seat -- there's a member opposite from the Conservative Party who's got up in this House and accused native people of not looking for work, inferring that they're not eager to find work or they're lazy. I think that the member should withdraw. It is a most --

The Acting Speaker: Take your seat. This is not a point of order.

Mr Skarica: The point is that your Employment Equity Act, 1993, came after objective studies indicated that there was absolutely no need for that type of legislation, but you went ahead with it anyway because you were a slave to ideology -- and you accuse us of the same thing.

Somebody mentioned -- one of the members yelled out, "What about women?" All right. Going back to the record, an article dated October 1, 1994, Hamilton Spectator, called "Reversal of Fortune," had this to say:

"Between 1985 and 1990, the number of women in the 10 highest-paying occupations increased by 53% while during the same period the number of men in the same occupations increased by 1%. We don't need social engineering and unfair bureaucratic formulas. The workforce is naturally evolving to reflect the changing roles of men and women."

Again, your legislation simply was not necessary. Not only was it not necessary, but it was bad business as well. If I could refer to another independent piece of evidence, Paul Nykanen, vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, had this to say:

"It absolutely was a quota law. Call it what you may, but if you have to establish numerical goals within a certain time frame, that's a quota law. It didn't recognize merit and that the best person should get the job."

I know it's one thing that never came to any of the third party's attention, but ask yourself this question: This is a global economy. How in the global economy do you go out there in the world and say: "Come invest here. By the way, you have two disadvantages that you don't have in most areas of the world. Number one, you must survey your workforce. You must pay for it. You must bear costs that you're not going to incur elsewhere in the world. Secondly, if you want to hire the best person, you can't do it." How can you be competitive when you have these types of rules?

To conclude, Bill 8 recognizes, in principle, two basic, fundamental human values: Number one, discrimination in any form for any purpose is illegal and immoral; secondly, merit is the only valid criterion for obtaining a job. Once this bill has passed, the law of Ontario will be that the best person will get the job regardless of race, sex, creed or colour. How could anyone argue with that? But I know you'll try.

The Acting Speaker: Questions or comments?

Mr Curling: It tells me very much so that the previous speaker who just completed here has no sense at all of what's happening in our society. He's ignored all the studies and then come out with these stupid, old, independent views that, "This one said that," ignoring all the studies that were done. It tells me what a sad case we are in now.

These people who are making the legislation are talking about equity -- as a matter of fact, systemic discrimination is happening in our society -- and then saying to us, "It doesn't happen." I want to him to go and tell the thousands and thousands of visible minorities who are qualified, who are shut out of the system and not able to have access, people who are engineers, people who are doctors, people who are lawyers, who are not able to participate.

What it has done is create a friction in our society. It has created a backlog. It makes good business sense to have qualified people in the system. You go on the basis that it's all about merit. Yes, it's about merit, but those who have the merit have been shut out because of the systemic discrimination that's continued to happen, this status quo attitude of saying, "Let's go back because it was wonderful and great, and all the studies that were done before, just ignore those."


But let us go back to the Canadian Manufacturers' Association. One individual will say there's no increase of racial discrimination within, that women are not being discriminated against, they have moved up 100%. If five women were there and they get five more, you may say they moved them up 100%, but that doesn't say there's no discrimination, the few who have gotten access.

I think you should first understand what systemic discrimination is all about, what employment equity is about. No wonder your legislation does not say anything, because you don't understand what employment equity is about. You don't understand about discrimination and racism that happens continuously in our society. When you do, then you can start writing legislation and address the issues that are of concern.

Mr Martin: I rise because of some comments that the member who just spoke raised. I know him to be a fine, upstanding gentleman, and I would assume that he is not saying that daughters of members or people in this province should not have the same opportunity as sons. I have two boys and two girls and, as a member of the previous government, I would not have participated as fully as I did in putting together a package if it did not see that all my children have equal opportunity in this province as they go out into the workforce and look for work and try to present their skills.

I quote for you from a paper I have that says this: "The act has been designed to encourage employers to recognize that many employment decisions intended to be based on merit are often based on non-job-relevant factors that tend to exclude certain groups. Therefore, it requires employers in Ontario to identify and eliminate barriers to employment and to ensure equitable access to opportunities for four sectors of the population traditionally disadvantaged in employment: women, racial minorities, people with disabilities and aboriginals. It does not compel employers to hire unqualified people."

It was with that in mind, those principles underlying this piece of legislation, that I agreed to support it as a member of the previous NDP government, and it was keeping in mind that I have four children at home, as I said before, two of them girls and two of them boys. I wanted an equal playing field for them. I wanted them to have equal opportunity at using their skills and becoming citizens of this province who can participate and contribute in a positive way.

By the way, this quote is from a paper the Canadian Federation of Independent Business put out shortly after we implemented the previous Employment Equity Act.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): It's a pleasure to rise in support of my colleague from Wentworth North. I agree wholeheartedly with his comments. I appreciated his personalizing his story of ascent through society in Ontario. That's exactly what it's all about. It's through hard work and effort, and that really should be the method of all persons in this province.

To respond to the member for Riverdale, I felt very strongly that we did speak to the people of Ontario and repeatedly people said to us, "White males need not apply," and that sort of stigma attached to the bill was justified.

Mr Wildman: You didn't correct it, did you?

Mr O'Toole: I felt that signal was out there. The Ontario College of Art indeed published an article that said there was no necessity to even look at applicants from white male society. Those were the signals, those were the realities, and they were supported in Bill 79 by numerical targets with timetables and penalties, and that's a quota.

This government has no business forcing the entrepreneurial sector of this community in hiring decisions. They should fill positions based on merit and ability, especially key positions. Any other system of hiring would be what I'd call systemic discrimination. They had excluded a certain segment of the eligible population, and the history and tradition in Ontario was long established. In fact, it's entrenched in the seniority language in collective bargaining. If they were really sincere, that party would lead the charge to change the whole seniority clause issue within collective bargaining, which is part of systemic discrimination for people within the workforce. Our issue here is really encouraging people and employers to look to ascent through merit and ability.

Mr Wildman: I rise to comment on the remarks of the member for Wentworth North. As a long-time member of this House and a former member of the previous government, and as a father of three grown sons and one little girl, and also a person who served as the minister responsible for native affairs in the previous government, I would just say that my three grown sons are at the age when they are completing school and seeking employment. They faced all the challenges that all young men, and I would say also all young women, faced in the current recession, and they did not react the way the member for Wentworth North did, the comments that basically they were having difficulty because their little sister might have a better chance due to legislation that was designed to deal with systemic discrimination.

I would ask the member for Wentworth North to repudiate the remarks interjected by his colleague, I believe Mr Frank Sheehan, the MPP for Lincoln, when he interjected in response to a comment that was made that how could one argue there was no need for any kind of assistance, no need for anything to deal with systemic discrimination because, for example, aboriginal people face something like 80% unemployment in this country -- and interestingly enough, they aren't even counted in the unemployment statistics. In response to that, the member for Lincoln, who was not sitting in his own seat, said, "And who's to say that they're even looking for work?"

Since that member has left and is not prepared to withdraw that remark --

Mr Stockwell: No, he's right there.

Mr Wildman: He's here? I would encourage him to withdraw that remark. If he isn't prepared to, I ask at least that the member for Wentworth North dissociate himself completely from those kinds of remarks and I would suggest that the government should do everything possible to dispel that kind of view about aboriginal people in this country.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Wentworth North, you have two minutes to reply.

Mr Skarica: I have two minutes to respond but I don't need two minutes. Basically, the government position and my position and any fair person's position is that the best person who's qualified to get the job should get it, regardless of race, sex, creed or colour. I've heard nothing to refute that and everybody agrees with that, and this law will make that the law of this province. That's the only response I need to make.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The member for Durham-York.

Mr Bisson: That's not the Liberal Party, Mr Speaker; that's the Conservative Party.

Mr Cordiano: I'm next.

The Acting Speaker: I apologize. The member for Lawrence.

Mr Cordiano: We of course do not consider the rump on this side of the House to be part of the opposition, and I'm sure those members would not want to be considered part of the opposition either, not after we've heard the various views from members of the rump on this side of the House. It's clear that they're part of the government and clear that they're part of the ideological revolution that has taken hold. The feeding frenzy continues on that side of the House and they would want to be part of that feeding frenzy.

To get on with this debate, I'm delighted to have an opportunity to make a few comments about Bill 8, which is to repeal the employment equity legislation that was in place, Bill 79, introduced by the previous government. The biggest failing of this government with respect to this piece of legislation and in fact this entire area we're debating today is the very fact -- and I have to conclude this -- that this government does not believe in real equal opportunity. I could conclude nothing other than that from what this government has done.

At the very least, this government should have introduced its six-point plan, the plan that was talked about during the election campaign, which stated various things: replace discrimination quotas with the merit principle; help employers develop plans to ensure equality of opportunity in their workplace and remove any systemic barriers to employment, particularly for persons with disabilities; show leadership by example through a policy of zero tolerance; help victims of discrimination faster by reforming the Ontario Human Rights Commission; improve Ontario's education and training systems to give all Ontarians the skills they need to compete in the workplace; and fight discrimination through the education of employers and individuals through a crackdown on crime motivated by hate.


We haven't seen any of these initiatives brought forward by the government in this six-point plan, so what in effect are they saying? What are they telling the people of Ontario? That there is no problem out there and that in fact we shouldn't worry, that discrimination will disappear, as the previous member said, and that the workplace has evolved sufficiently enough to look after itself. Well, that's wrong. I beg to completely differ with the government. There are problems out there, and I defy any of the members on the other side to say otherwise. You will find example after example of barriers to people who are trying to enter the workforce.

Again I go back to the report that was commissioned by our government, Access to Trades and Professions in Ontario, which the previous government failed to act on, which would have gone a long way to overcoming some of those barriers for various people who have come to this country and have brought with them high levels of skills and have the professional qualifications to be a part of the economy and to contribute completely to the economy of this country and this province.

I say to members opposite that you should urge the cabinet to move forward with those initiatives because that will go a long way to resolving the problem. Look, the province of Ontario has changed over the years. It is made up of many diverse people who bring with them from various parts of the world a variety of skills. In fact, the makeup of the province has changed with respect to those whose forefathers came here previously and also find that there are barriers to employment and barriers to succeeding in the province of Ontario.

I'm not standing here today and saying that no progress has been made. I believe a great deal of progress has been made. But to stop at this point is to do a great injustice to the progress that has been made, not only under the previous two governments but indeed the Progressive Conservative Party of the past. They made some progress on this issue, and for you to sit there and not allow any progress to be made on this, particularly when you've failed to introduce the six-point plan that was part of your election campaign -- and every one of you who sits on that side of the House knows full well it was part of the platform you fought the election on. You very much believed in strengthening those provisions I talked about.

I say to you that Bill 8 simply will not do. It is a very terrible attempt to simply destroy what was there and not replace it with anything in its place. Therefore, I have to conclude that you are not for equal opportunity. That is basically the only logical conclusion you can come to, that you don't believe there is a problem. What other conclusion can we reasonably come to on this side of the House?

If you don't understand that there are some barriers that have to be overcome -- of course, this is all too obvious for a government that is ideologically driven. They don't see the fact that there is a practical way the government can help to make the situation better, that the government does play a role in our society.

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'd like to apologize to the House and to the members for my interjection. It didn't come out the way I intended and I am sorry that I offended anyone.

Mr Cordiano: I think that certainly takes the sting out of that comment, and I think the member is right to withdraw his remarks.

To continue with my remarks, getting back to the main points of my speech, we're talking about a do-nothing bill that simply destroys. It's a do-nothing government with very little action that's positive. It's very negative. You're simply there to destroy what is in your way, and it's because you're so ideologically driven, because you don't see that there are some real problems that government legitimately must address, and that government should be an active player in the society we represent and in fact should have a role to play in facilitating what the private sector does.

Of course you don't believe that, from everything you've done thus far. Every statement that every minister has made in this House indicates very clearly that you see no role, absolutely no role, for a government to play in our society or in our economy. I think it's very clear at this point. You're withdrawing from every role that government has played in the past, not just playing a lesser role.

Government must facilitate what's happening in the private sector, must play a role, and part of doing that is to have employment equity principles and the principle of equal opportunity stand at the forefront of what you do. If you don't have that, my friends, we don't have a government that is attempting to further the progress that has been made by our society over the last number of years. You're taking us way back. You're taking us back to a time when all these issues were not even discussed in public, when all these issues were not considered to be a problem.

I go back to the previous member's statements, who said that the workplace has evolved sufficiently enough now that we shouldn't have to concern ourselves with these difficult issues. They are difficult; by their nature, they're difficult. When all is said and done, that is exactly what the member implied by his comments.

I think it's wrong, and I think it's wrong that the government, this government in particular, is withdrawing from so many areas and waving a white flag and saying: "Look, there were so many things wrong that we're not going to be involved any more. We're just going to pack our bags and take our marbles with us and go home, because we can't get it right." That's a poor excuse, because the economy, my friends, needs the government to play a role, needs the government to facilitate what's going on out there and making progress with the private sector.

If the government's going to respond as the Minister of Economic Development responded today, where he simply argues day after day that the government mustn't get involved in assisting companies out there in creating the opportunities that are necessary for the economy to flourish, then I say --

Interjection: What about the rest of them?

Mr Cordiano: Well, each of those ministers, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Economic Development, a variety of other ministers who have stood up in this House. Even the member who's here today, the minister for Management Board secretariat, trumpeted the cuts that have been introduced in this House with great fanfare as he stood up to cheerlead the Minister of Finance for announcing that they've gone beyond what was estimated to be the cuts imposed by the July 21 statement of the government.

This government goes too far. It goes well beyond what is necessary to stimulate the economy to get it working again and to keep it on track with respect to creating opportunities, equal opportunities. A part of destroying equal opportunity is the introduction of Bill 8, the introduction of Bill 8 in the absence of something to replace what is being repealed. That is very much the role this government should be playing, introducing, at the very least, its six-point plan to replace what was there before it.

Our party has in the past had difficulty. We voted against Bill 79. Very clearly, we voted against Bill 79 because it went too far. It imposed a stiff fine on those companies that would not meet the provisions of Bill 79, and that went too far.

But I tell you, there is no reason for this act to have repealed Bill 79 in its entirety. You could have amended it. You could have replaced the parts that were not acceptable.

When all is said and done, again I have to ask the government why it is that it repealed the sections of the Police Services Act that applied under the previous government, having introduced those changes when we were the government to make the police departments of our province much more reflective of the larger society. In so doing, this act goes a great deal further than it should have and than it needed to go. This bill simply is unnecessary in its scope with respect to the degree to which this bill does away with all provisions for equal opportunity. Any regard for equal opportunity is done away with by this bill.


I know the members sit in their seats on the opposite side of the House and are cynical about this, because they obviously do not agree with the fact that equal opportunity must be created, the fact that equal opportunity does not exist for everyone. They sit there and they snicker at the thought that someone would stand up in this House and say that equal opportunity must be something created by government, the private sector and the larger community; that everyone should be involved in creating a workplace that is free of discrimination, a workplace that invites the best candidates, and yes, truly is a workplace that counts the merit principle. That's what should be the case in Ontario today and that's what you have failed to provide in Bill 8.

Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): The best candidate.

Mr Cordiano: I'm sorry. Bill 8 just doesn't do that. It just doesn't go far enough in promoting that principle. It just does not introduce anything with respect to the measures that were talked about in the election campaign. As a result, we will be voting against Bill 8 because it simply does not provide for the merit principle, as people who understand that equal opportunity needs to be created in this province. It simply falls very short of that lofty goal of creating equal opportunity.

I won't go into any additional statistics, because I will conclude my remarks very shortly by saying that the workplace isn't free of discrimination. The workplace hasn't met the expectations of all the people who want to enter the workplace.

My leader has stated in her comments prior to this that we would be voting against this --

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Workers' Compensation Board]): That was two days ago.

Mr Cordiano: That was a couple of days ago, but one of the concerns we have with this as well is that it will create a great deal of cronyism.

I see that the Chair of Management Board is here today. I asked him a question in the House with respect to putting before this House a set of procedures that would ensure that any privatization would take place with a view to fairness, with a model in place to assure the House that there is accountability in place before any privatization takes place.

Part of that should be a consideration for hiring people with respect to equal opportunity, with respect to expanding the opportunities for all those people out there who would like that chance, to get a very well-paying job in a profession or in a trade or in some other capacity, working for government or other agencies that will now be privatized.

It's absolutely important that you do not pay lip-service to this and that you have some legislated mandates for those agencies, that you have legislation in place to assure the citizens of this province that cronyism will not see its way through to the hiring of employees in these agencies or these other private sector employers that will undoubtedly line up to partake in that privatization.

So at the end of the day, we will be not in favour of this bill because it fails, it falls far short of its intention with respect to equal opportunity. The six-point plan was never put before this House. It simply doesn't exist, and if it does, it hasn't been presented. We would like to have seen this before this bill came into effect, or in conjunction with this bill at the very least.

But we do not see that here today. We do not see that there is a commitment on the part of this government towards equal opportunity and assuring the citizens of this province that there will be equal opportunity in all the decisions that are taken by this government and in hiring policies in the workplaces.

Particularly, I repeat, the fact is that we will have greater privatization. It is very clear to us now that we will be seeing a great deal of privatization undertaken by this government. As a result, there's even more reason we should have that principle of equal opportunity apply when hiring decisions are made. It's absolutely critical, because we know this great province of ours has changed and that the workplace has evolved and there are many people from diverse backgrounds who do not have the same equal opportunity to employment.

As a result, we need the government to lead not only by example but to motivate employers out there through some form of mandated legislation. I could agree with the six-point plan that was put forward by the government and I would be willing to go along with that, but you've made none of those provisions available. You've made none of those commitments. We see very little on the part of this government.

What we continue to see is the total destruction of what was built before and the chaos that ensues as a result of that. This government will find in the months to come, I predict, that there will be some difficulties dealing with all these issues, because at the end of the day this government fails to realize that equal opportunity is a basis and an underlying subtext for the entire community, and it's a principle which cannot be abandoned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Questions or comments?

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I appreciate the remarks from the member for Lawrence, particularly the way he concentrated on what we don't have in front of us today, which is what you're going to replace the previous government's employment equity bill with.

One of the things I've found a bit frustrating during this debate is that the division of the space between the sides here in the House has really become like an ideological divide as well. I listened to the members opposite and I've come to the conclusion that there is a genuine belief on your part that the legislation contained quotas because of the way the fine was structured. I'm going to have to tell you I really disagree with that.

My understanding and my belief and my intent with respect to that bill and the support of the bill was to understand that systemic discrimination exists; that people's attitudes sometimes get in the way of their clear thinking; that sometimes people's off-the-cuff remarks are demonstrative of attitudes that you see in employers, and that those employers sometimes have that influence their decision-making; that it's not always the person with the greatest merit who gets the job; that sometimes those people, people of colour or people with disabilities or women or aboriginals, who have the merit to do the job are excluded from the opportunity of doing the job because of bias or systemic discrimination.

In the case of persons with disabilities, it may be the kind of workplace accommodation that needs to be made with respect to special equipment or the ergonomic design of the workplace that will allow them to become a productive member of our economy as opposed to perhaps being on social assistance or disability assistance.

I really believe there need to be programs that address the systemic discrimination as well as the overt and blatant discrimination. I think you missed the boat by not having those issues addressed in how you're proceeding on this bill.

I understand the ideological divide. I hope we will some day come together to understand the imperative of the discrimination that exists and the need to eradicate it.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I had the opportunity to speak to this bill yesterday, and I've just got a couple more comments I want to add today, in particular to some comments the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine was just making.

During the election campaign, I knocked on a lot of doors in my riding and I heard the same thing from everybody: that this employment equity legislation was discriminatory. I can tell you that it wasn't just the white males who were talking about employment equity. It was the designated groups, the disabled, the visible minorities, all those people this legislation claims to protect; it was those very people who were telling Ron Johnson at the door that employment equity was racist and discriminatory against the very people it's supposed to protect.


I want to quote briefly Cynthia Huston, president of the United Caribbean Canadian Association, who, on October 18, said: "Hiring should not be on account of race or country of origin. In fact, qualification is really where hiring should be based. The best person gets the job."

I can tell you, our government is moving quickly to restore the balance in hiring and we're also doing it with taxes, because the previous government drove jobs out of this province. They did it with high taxes, they did it with Bill 40, they did it with red tape and, yes, they drove jobs out of this province with employment equity.

Mr Curling: I actually want to commend my colleague from Lawrence, who understands the issue and addressed it in a very effective way. I hope you can go back and look at the Hansard and see the strategic way he addressed that issue and, hopefully, you will get a better understanding of it.

The Conservatives, it seems to me, are the only ones who knocked at doors in the election and had this response. Let me talk a little about the white male I met at the door who told me that they want the job, yes, because of merit, not because their father or their grandfather had the jobs before and opened the door easier for them. They would like to perform just because of their ability. They want employment equity also. That's what it's all about.

You have always treated this issue like it's only addressing minorities or aboriginal people or disabled or women. Employment equity is about all people in our society being able to participate in a fair and equitable manner. The fact is that they want that merit.

I put a challenge out -- not much of a challenge. I suggest to those who may be listening beyond our walls here and who are within those designated groups to send their résumé to every single of those members; those who are looking for jobs and have sent thousands and thousands of résumés out and who are qualified, I would say, and somehow have been shut out of that system.

They want to participate. They have been shut out in a systemic manner: the way people advertise, the way they have access to buildings, the way they are promoted and trained, all these aspects of things. I say to them, send your résumé to these members here. They may then get an idea that people are qualified out there, who want jobs and are shut out.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I think one of the most significant aspects of the bill that Bill 8 is replacing is the fact that that bill had one aspect which was a total, absolute farce. A lot of the public in Ontario who felt that bill was going to be a help for the four identified groups simply didn't know what the bill contained.

In that bill there is a requirement that all employers circulate a form with boxes on it, and in those boxes, people were to identify which of the four designated groups they were a member of. It was mandatory that the employer distribute the form, it was mandatory that the employer collect the form, but there was no binding or legal requirement for the employees to complete it. Can you think of anything that is a bigger farce than that? I, as an employer, have fulfilled my obligation by distributing the form and collecting it, yet if I am an employee and do not choose to identify myself in any of the designated groups, I do not have to.

When you look at just that one aspect of what employment equity "was" in the eyes of the former government, you recognize that there really was not a sincere commitment to employment equity and making changes for those people in those four designated groups, because in fact there are people in all of those groups who do not choose to be identified. I voted against that bill when it came into this House and I'm very happy to vote in favour of this bill today.

The Deputy Speaker: Response?

Mr Cordiano: I listened to some of the comments and I thank my colleagues who agree with the positions that I've put forward and would say one final thing to government members, that they are failing miserably on this question and on the very simple principle of equal opportunity by not having put forward something that attempts to create more of an opportunity for people to break down the barriers, to break down the systemic barriers that exist, to do away with discrimination in the workplace. And not having brought forward your plan is an abysmal failure on the part of this minister, who's not here today, and on the part of this government. It will come back, I say, to be a problem in the future.

If you simply refuse to act on those initiatives which were part of your election campaign, then I think you have done a great injustice to the people of this province with respect to upholding that principle of equal opportunity. You cannot argue today that this bill will do anything. This bill does nothing. It simply destroys. It simply takes away. It does away with the bill that was there before.

Admittedly, that bill went too far, but I say to you that you should have replaced it. You should have replaced it with the six-point plan or something in the alternative, which would have understood and recognized that equal opportunity does not just happen, equal opportunity does not just exist, that the government has a critical role to play in creating equal opportunity for those who do not have that opportunity. I defy any of the government members to stand up in this House and to suggest that equal opportunity will be created on its own.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

M. Bisson : C'est avec un certain plaisir que j'ai l'opportunité ici aujourd'hui, comme député de l'Assemblée, de répondre à certaines questions, à certaines assertions qui ont été faites par les membres du gouvernement à travers le projet de loi 8 -- on va lire le titre -- Loi abrogeant le contingentement en matière d'emploi et rétablissant en Ontario les pratiques d'emploi fondées sur le mérite. Je pense que le titre a beaucoup à faire avec ce qui se passe ici aujourd'hui.

Ce que le gouvernement essaie de dire à travers tout ce processus-ci du projet de loi 8, c'est que la Loi 79 sur l'équité d'emploi qui a été mise en place dans la province de l'Ontario par le gouvernement de M. Rae a, de manière ou d'autre, mis en place un système que nous autres on comprend comme étant un système de quotas.

Il essaie de dire que la seule manière de laquelle une personne puisse obtenir un emploi dans la province de l'Ontario, avec cette loi, c'était si la personne était forcée dans la position par une loi, la Loi 79, et qu'on emploierait du monde qui ne connaissait pas leur sujet ou l'emploi pour lequel il avait été engagé.

Je veux dire très directement que c'est totalement faux. La Loi 79 a été mise en place pour aider les employeurs à travers la province de l'Ontario et les employés de ces employeurs-là à trouver un système où on peut s'asseoir, employeurs et employés, pour construire des comités dans nos usines, avec les employeurs ayant plus de 50 employés, pour être capable de regarder dans notre milieu de travail et dire, «Si on regarde dans ce milieu de travail, est-ce qu'on reflète ce qu'on trouve dans notre communauté ?»

Si on est employeur dans la ville de Timmins où la majorité du monde est un mélange de différentes personnes de différentes parties du pays et différentes parties du monde, est-ce que notre milieu de travail reflète notre communauté ? Par exemple, à Timmins on a environ 6 % à 7 %, 8 % de nos concitoyens et concitoyennes qui sont autochtones. Si on regarde dans le milieu de travail dans la communauté de Timmins, est-ce qu'on voit ce 6 % à 8 % ?. Le comité regarde cette question-là, et si la question est non, pourquoi est-ce que ça ne le reflète pas ? Y en a-t-il des raisons ?


Dans nos pratiques d'emploi dans nos usines, est-ce qu'il y a en place des barrages qui nuisent aux nouveaux employés dans nos communautés et qui sont autochtones et qui veulent être capables de trouver un emploi dans notre usine ? Est-ce qu'il y a des barrages ? Est-ce qu'on a regardé ? Est-ce qu'on a fait un peu d'«outreach» avec la communauté autochtone pour leur laisser savoir que, «Oui, on est un employeur de la ville de Timmins et possiblement, si vous, les autochtones, voulez demander un emploi dans notre milieu d'ouvrage, vous veniez appliquer et sur votre mérite, sur votre classification d'éducation, sur votre connaissance de la job, dans une compétition avec tous les autres, si vous êtes aussi bon ou meilleur que l'autre, on vous engage.»

C'est tout ce que la loi dit. La loi n'a jamais dit : «On veut engager un électricien à la mine, et il y a cinq personnes qui ont fait application. Quatre personnes sont les garçons du monsieur qui a parlé tout à l'heure du Parti conservateur -- des jeunes blancs, des hommes, anglais -- et il y a une personne qui est, on va dire, autochtone, et si la personne autochtone qui applique a moins d'expérience, moins de connaissances que ces personnes-là et est choisie au-dessus ceux qui ont possiblement plus d'expérience, jamais la loi sur l'équité en emploi n'a dit ça. Jamais.

Pour le gouvernement de se planter ici aujourd'hui et dans ces débats nous dire, «Hé, la Loi 79 que vous, les néo-démocrates, avez mis en place a forcé les employeurs de la province de l'Ontario à engager des personnes dans notre usine qui n'ont pas de qualifications», c'est totalement faux, parce que la loi a été très claire. On va regarder ce que la Loi 79 a dit et on va regarder ce que vous dites dans la Loi 8.

Dans la Loi 79, le processus était bien simple. On l'a expliqué tout à l'heure. On met en place, si on est un employeur avec plus de 50 employés, un comité. Le comité regarde dans leur milieu de travail et dit, «Est-ce que les personnes qui travaillent dans notre usine reflètent notre communauté ?»

Si la réponse est oui, pas de problème, ça continue. Si la réponse est non, on se demande la question pourquoi ça ne reflète pas notre communauté. Est-ce qu'il y a des problèmes, et s'il y a des problèmes, qu'est-ce qu'on peut faire comme employeurs et employés, qu'il y ait un syndicat ou non, pour rectifier le problème ?

Est-ce qu'on a en place, quand on fait des annonces pour engager nos employés, qu'on a été voir dans la communauté autochtone autour de notre municipalité ? Est-ce qu'on a parlé à nos collèges pour voir ? «Écoutez, au collège vous avez des étudiants qui y passent. Laissez savoir aux étudiants du Collège Northern, dans un programme autochtone, si vous voulez appliquer pour une job ici à notre moulin ou ici dans notre mine, on est prêts à prendre ces applications-là. Laissez savoir au monde dans la communauté que c'est correct d'être autochtone et d'appliquer pour une job dans cette usine.»

Quand cette personne-là applique, la personne est engagée seulement sur un principe : la capacité de faire la job dans une compétition avec tous les autres. La Loi 79 d'équité en emploi n'a jamais forcé l'employeur à dire, «Je prends une personne moins qualifiée parce que la Loi 79 me dit de prendre la personne désignée qui a moins de qualification.» Ça n'a jamais dit ça.

Pour les députés de cette Assemblée de se planter debout -- même le Parti libéral s'obstine un peu sur le même point -- et dire qu'on engage du monde sans fondement de mérite, c'est totalement faux.

J'ai vite écouté le commentaire qui a été fait par M. Johnson, le député de Brantford, qui a dit, «Aux élections je me suis promené dans ma communauté et fait du porte-à-porte et le monde m'a dit, "Il y a un problème," et quand j'ai cogné aux portes, ils ont dit, "Je ne peux pas avoir une job à cause de la Loi 79."»

Parce que le monde nous dit quelque chose, est-ce que ça veut dire que c'est vrai ? C'est toute la base du problème qu'on a dans la société. Beaucoup de fois, dans notre société on commence des cancans. On commence des attitudes à travers nos discussions avec le monde. On a assez des fois, sans le vouloir même, de commencer à bâtir des préjugés de certaines situations, de certaines personnes.

Ce que la loi sur l'équité en emploi essaie de faire, comme autres mesures qui ont été mises en place par un autre gouvernement, les Libéraux, les Conservateurs, le gouvernement de M. Davis, et avec le gouvernement fédéral, c'est de mettre en place des programmes qui font une éducation populaire pour être assez capable de diminuer les barrières qui sont existantes, pour les employés d'être capables de trouver un emploi dans certaines situations, donner la chance au monde de faire la compétition dans notre économie d'une manière égale avec tout le monde d'autres. Et pour dire que c'est seulement parce que quelqu'un me le dit à la porte, ça ne veut pas dire que c'est vrai. Je peux vous dire, je m'assoyais comme membre du gouvernement quand la loi a été mise en place. J'ai écouté Mme Marland, j'ai écouté M. Stockwell et autres --

Mrs Marland: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it's appropriate for the person who has the floor at the moment to use our names by riding only and not refer to us by name.

M. Bisson : Okay, pas de problème. J'ai écouté. Je prends le point très sérieusement de la députée de Mississauga-Sud.

J'ai entendu d'autres membres du Parti conservateur dans le temps qu'ils étaient à l'opposition. J'ai écouté ce qu'ils disaient au bord ici de la Chambre, ce qu'ils disaient quand ils étaient à l'opposition. Ils on essayé de bâtir un cas contre l'équité d'emploi, bâtir sur des faussetés.

Oui, il y a du monde qui écoutait ça à la télévision chez eux, comme le monde écoute aujourd'hui, et il y a du monde qui écoutait à travers vos publications que vous avez mises à travers, votre document du Common Sense Revolution et d'autres. Il y a du monde qui ont voulu croire que ce que vous dites est vrai. Puis, il y a du monde qui l'ont répété, mais juste parce qu'ils l'ont répété, ça ne veut pas dire que c'est vrai.

Ce que je trouve vraiment difficile à accepter avec la Loi 8, qu'on met on place aujourd'hui, c'est droit dans le titre de la loi, qu'on essaie de dire dans la loi qu'il y avait un système de quotas et qu'on a engagé du monde en Ontario basé non sur leur mérite mais seulement sur ce qu'ils nous ont dit dans la loi.

Moi, je vous demande d'aller demander à vos employeurs dans vos milieux, chez vous dans vos comtés, parce que moi, je l'ai fait. Je me suis assis avec mes employeurs quand on a mis ces lois-là en place comme autres. Jamais un employeur ne m'a dit, «Gilles, il faut que j'aille engager quelqu'un non qualifié à cause de ta loi.» Très au contraire.

Est-ce que c'était difficile pour les employeurs à accepter ? Oui. Est-ce que c'était difficile pour le monde dans ces usines-là de l'accepter ? Oui, parce que quand on essaie de changer des attitudes, c'est toujours très difficile.

On a beaucoup d'exemples à travers notre histoire ici en Ontario, comme ailleurs, où on a eu des problèmes ou que certaines personnes faisaient face à la discrimination, et on savait que c'était mauvais dans le temps.

Par exemple, moi je me rappelle les années 1950-1960, où les femmes essayaient d'entrer on va dire dans une université pour devenir avocates. C'était pas mal difficile, hein ? Si on était une femme qui voulait aller à l'université pour devenir avocate, il y avait toutes les barrières en place, toute une attitude de la part des avocats, des juges, des universités, des profs et des autres étudiants qui étudiaient pour devenir avocats, qui empêchaient les femmes d'entrer dans des écoles pour devenir avocates.

Ce qui est arrivé dans le passé, c'est que les universités, sous le gouvernement conservateur de jadis en Ontario dès 1960, et je me le rappelle bien, ont dit : «Écoute, ce n'est pas juste, ça. Il y a eu des débats dans l'Assemblée. Regardez le bulletin de Hansard.» Les universités à travers la province, l'Université de Toronto et les autres, ont mis en place des programmes qui sont allés bien plus loin que la Loi 79 n'a jamais fait. Ils ont mis ce que vous autres appelez des quotas. Ils ont dit qu'il faut que ces universités-là font entrer les femmes dans un programme pour devenir avocates, parce que ce dont on avait besoin de montrer aux jeunes femmes de la province de l'Ontario, c'est que c'est correct d'être femme et de vouloir devenir avocate.

Quand assez de femmes seront entrées dans une université et seront devenues avocates, on va avoir des personnages dans notre communauté qu'autres jeunes femmes pourront regarder et dire, «Moi aussi je le veux.» Plus important, la clientèle des avocats à travers la province de l'Ontario qui auront besoin d'aller voir des avocats commenceront à avoir des avocates, puis ils diront : «Ce n'est pas si pire que ça. Les femmes, c'est aussi bon.»

Sur une période d'une vingtaine d'années, bien proche de 30 ans à ce temps, on est au point aujourd'hui où les universités, sans programme d'équité, sans programme de mesures positives, ont plus de femmes qui entrent dans l'université pour devenir avocates aujourd'hui qu'on a d'hommes. Pourquoi ? Parce que les programmes du passé ont montré pas seulement aux femmes que c'était correct et qu'elles en étaient capables, qu'elles faisaient de bonnes avocates. Plus important, ça fait l'éducation de moi, de vous, de nos parents, de nos voisins, de nos confrères, de nos consoeurs.


Ça a montré que c'est correct pour les femmes de devenir avocates, qu'elles sont aussi bonnes, et nous, on est venus au point où on l'accepte. On peut prendre cet exemple-là à travers beaucoup d'autres professions, non seulement dans cette province mais à travers le pays. La seule manière à combattre la discrimination, c'est de donner l'opportunité aux personnes qui sont discriminées d'atteindre un emploi dans le métier qu'elles veulent, et elles deviennent les modèles pour démontrer aux autres que c'est correct, que c'est aussi compétent, et qu'à la fin de la journée il n'y a rien d'injuste, et avec le temps là-dessus le monde change.

Plus important, on regarde dans notre Assemblée-même. Il y a beaucoup de femmes ici aujourd'hui dans notre Assemblée, pas autant que dans les autres législatures, mais il y a des femmes qui siègent avec nous. On a des personnes de minorité visible --

Mrs Marland: Nineteen out of 130.

M. Bisson : Mais c'est ça le point. Ce que dit Madame la députée de Mississauga-Sud est correct. Dans le passé, laissez-moi expliquer, on avait une situation que les seules personnes qui rentraient dans cette Assemblée, c'étaient des hommes qui étaient blancs, anglophones et qui avaient de l'argent. C'était la qualification. Et avec le temps on a eu du monde qui ont eu l'audace de se présenter comme candidats pour entrer dans l'Assemblée provinciale : des femmes, des travaillants, des personnes de minorités visibles. Et, ce qu'il est arrivé, après un bout de temps il y a eu ceux qui ont été élus puis il y eu des femmes et d'autres personnes désignées qui sont venues à cette Assemblée et qui ont fait une job qui est excellente, qui ont représenté leur comté de la meilleure, de la plus supérieure façon possible, qui ont démontré à toute l'Ontario et à tous les membres de cette Assemblée que oui, c'est correct d'être différent, et vive la différence. Et c'est même bon.

On peut démontrer que ces personnes-là, ces femmes qui sont venues avant vous, elles ont fait la job. Et aujourd'hui, quand on a une élection et qu'une femme est élue ou se présente dans un comté, ce n'est pas une grosse surprise. On l'accepte parce qu'il y a eu des personnes courageuses avant nous autres qui ont eu l'audace d'aller contre le système et de démontrer que c'est important de mettre en place les modèles qui sont nécessaires pour montrer au peuple que la seule manière dont on change le système, c'est en mettant des situations en place où le monde peut voir que c'est correct.

I'll switch to English here because there's a text I have. It's a guide to the Employment Equity Act and it speaks to a case that was before the Supreme Court of Canada in regard to Canadian National, CN. I want to say this because I think it demonstrates what the situation is. The courts dealt with the issue long before you and I dealt with it as legislators, because people in our country have gone to the courts because of systemic discrimination in the workplace and have asked the courts to rule on questions where they felt there was discrimination. The Employment Equity Act, Bill 79, that we put in place was very much based on what had happened in experiences in the past and what had happened in regard to decisions in the Supreme Court and other courts across this land.

What happened in this particular case is that CN used to not allow women, through practices of discrimination it had in place, to be successful candidates in specific jobs within CN. Specifically, one of the jobs was the position of coach cleaner within the CN line.


Mr Bisson: Just give it a couple of seconds. Let this unfold and you'll understand what I'm getting at here.

What had happened was that CN needed people to clean its coaches, and just because of the history, because of the way things were in the past, the only people who got hired in those jobs were men. Why? Nobody knows.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Black men.

Mr Bisson: Yes, it was black men in this particular case. But why? Who knows why? It was set up. It was just something that happened, and I don't think CN at the time did it because it was trying to do anything wrong. It was just the way things were.

Along came a number of women who applied for these jobs, and they were denied. Finally, one woman had the courage to bring CN to court because she was not given an opportunity for employment in a job that she felt she had qualifications for.

At the time there were no employment equity laws, no positive measures in place on the part of CN, no affirmative action programs or anything to give this woman at least the opportunity to apply for a job, to be interviewed and to be judged on her own merit. Finally, this woman pushed it to the point that actually they had to interview her, and because they didn't hire this woman, she took the company to court.

When they took the company to court, the court found the following -- and I'm just going to read a few of the practices CN put in place to make sure that women did not get hired: the way they put together the interview program and the limitations they put on the job that were specifically put there to eliminate women from the competition.

They found that the use of mechanical aptitude tests for coach cleaner work were put in. In other words, when you applied for the position, even though you were a cleaner, you were asked to write an aptitude test on the mechanics of the train, what happens underneath the train, not on cleaning rugs and cleaning chairs and emptying ashtrays. They wanted to know how much you knew about trains, how much you knew about the underside of the trains and the brakes underneath the train and the engine in the front and what kind of fuel it uses. That has nothing to do with the job of cleaning it. You're not asking the person to be the mechanic. But one of the things they did to get around women applying was put a test in place that most women did not have an opportunity to pass because they had never worked on a train before.

One of the other things they did, and this is an interesting one, was put a requirement in the posting that the successful applicant be able to lift a brake shoe with one hand while jumping on to the train. The person who ever got the job would never lift a brake shoe in the entire life of working on that train. It had nothing to do with the job, but it was put there -- why? -- because most women were not able to pick up with one hand a brake shoe that probably weighed 50 pounds or 60 pounds and jump on to the train at the same time. I could. I imagine a lot of men around this assembly could, but most women could not.

Mr Stockwell: I don't think you could, actually.

Mr Bisson: They're saying I couldn't, but I can tell you, I can.

Mr Stockwell: I don't think you could pick up a brake shoe and stand still.

Mr Bisson: I might not be able to jump on with one bounce.

Mr Stockwell: I don't think you could get on with nothing in your hands.

Mr Bisson: You're probably right, my friend from Etobicoke, I probably can't bounce on with one jump.

The other thing they asked for was that the person who came on to clean the coach had to have welding experience to get the job as a cleaner. Most women back then, when this court challenge was put in place, didn't have experience welding, and if they did, I can guarantee you they weren't applying for this job; they'd be applying for a job as a welder. None the less, this was something the employer required for the person to get the job.

What I'm saying here is that the employer, over a period of time, because women were starting to apply for the position and they found themselves in a position of being kind of sheepish and having to say no to qualified women they didn't want to hire, changed the game in order to exclude women.

Mr Stockwell: Right.

Mr Bisson: The member says, "Right." Is that right? No, it's wrong.

So what happened was that the Supreme Court heard the case, and I'll just read a couple of points out of here because I think it's pretty relevant. The court looked at that and turned its attention to, what is systemic discrimination? I'll just read from here:

"Discrimination that results from the simple operation of established procedures of recruitment, hiring and promotion, none of which is necessarily designed to promote discrimination...the discrimination is then reinforced by the very exclusion of the disadvantaged group because the exclusion fosters the belief, both within and outside the group, that the exclusion is a result of a natural force, for example, that women just can't do...."

So the courts recognized way before we ever did in this assembly that there are practices out there that are discriminatory, that do not allow women and other disadvantaged people to apply for those positions, and they remedied the situation. In this particular case, they not only forced CN to hire that woman but actually put in place a quota system within that employer. They said, "You have to enter into a program of positive measures to give women the opportunity to get a job so they can demonstrate to others that they're able to do it."

Those quotas aren't in place any more, but I can guarantee you, the women who have gone into that job and have been in it ever since have given the opportunity that every woman knows it's okay to apply for those jobs. Eventually we're in a position where I would think there's probably very little opportunity for the employer to discriminate in a situation like that.

Why is employment equity necessary? Quite simple this: Employment equity is necessary so that we as a society, through processes of both education and practice, can show people that it's okay for anybody within our society, no matter what their background might be, no matter what their race might be, no matter what their language might be, to apply for that job and you should not be discriminated against on the basis of who you are or where you come from.

That's what employment equity tries to do, but what we never did in employment equity -- and I repeat again, never did we, as is inferred in the act under Bill 8, put in place a system of job quotas or a practice that excluded people from being hired on the basis of merit, because it was never intended -- it was never even written that way. So I think the members opposite are being pretty darn negative, are being pretty misleading in regard to this bill and what they're telling the people of Ontario.


I also want to turn to something very quickly as well. I sat here this afternoon listening to one of the Conservative members in debate give his reasons why he was voting for Bill 8, and I've got to respect, the member has his right to his opinion. He got elected. The people of his community, by majority, said, "I want that person to be my representative," and we need to recognize the democratic right of those people to choose their member.

He went on to describe how he felt -- now, I shouldn't say how he felt, but how some of his constituents and some people in his own family had told him that this Employment Equity Act was an Employment Equity Act that really put young males at a disadvantage in being able to get jobs.

But I want to remind people that one of the things that we went through and we're still going through in this province, as is the rest of the country, is a recession. There are many people across this country and this province who have had difficulties getting a job, not because of employment equity but because of what's happened in the economy. I would guess that it's probably going to get worse, unfortunately, because of some of your measures.

But what really distressed me, as he was citing examples of how there was not a problem within the employers of Ontario, the member for Algoma, my good friend Mr Wildman, said, "How do you explain, then, that 80% of aboriginal people in Ontario who want to work, who are looking for a job and who can't get in because of all kinds of reasons, don't have employment?"

And what really was disenchanting and what really was upsetting, the member for Lincoln, the Conservative member --

Mr Stockwell: He already withdrew that.

Mr Bisson: He withdrew, but I want to make the point none the less. The member for Lincoln stood in this House, and his response to his comment was, "Who says those people are even looking for work?"

Mr Stockwell: Well, what do you want to do? He said he didn't want to offend anybody. You've got to bring it up and deal with it again. That's why you're a first-class individual.

Mr Bisson: Well, I think that is part of the problem. I want to come back to what the member for Brantford said, because I think the comment -- and I'm sure that he didn't do that --

Mr Stockwell: The member withdrew it.

Mr Bisson: I'm sure, because the member withdrew it, he really didn't want to be inciteful. I have to believe that, although I have a bit of a hard time. But I imagine he really does not want to be inciteful. But I just want to use this, because it comes back from the member for Brantford. The member for Brantford turned around and said, "I went knocking at doors and everybody told me the same thing so it must be true."

Well, I come from northern Ontario, and many people in northern Ontario unfortunately have some of that attitude that was demonstrated in the House this afternoon. It's because of attitudes like that that many aboriginal people in northern Ontario are unable to attain employment, because those attitudes have been perpetuated time and time again, year in and year out, to where we have people in positions of management, we have people in this Legislature, as we have people on the shop floor, who truly believe that the comment made by the member for Lincoln is true.

That's the problem. That's what the root of all this is all about, that we've built up a great big myth and a great big lie -- and I'm not talking about members of this assembly; within our society -- about who people are and what they are and what they can do. We've all heard the jokes about one nationality or another is not good at doing a particular job or another nationality is better at doing another job, and somehow people believe it.

I think that's how we have to rise to the occasion, not only as legislators but I think as people, as community leaders in our province, to be able to fight that whole notion of discrimination by trying, when people are saying falsehoods like that, to take our responsibility and say: "Hey, is that so? Because it ain't."

I just want to close on this particular point and to say that I most definitely will be voting against Bill 8, as I feel that this bill is wrongheaded, this bill goes far beyond whatever was done in Bill 79, it backs up legislation far beyond that point and I completely disagree with where the government is going in regard to this particular piece of legislation.

The Speaker: Any questions or comments?

M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : En réponse à mon collègue de Cochrane-Sud, j'aimerais apporter que la loi d'équité d'emploi, la Loi 79, avait définitivement ses bons côtés et aussi ses méchants côtés. Cette loi avait pour but de donner la chance aux minorités de se faire valoir, surtout chez les côtés de la dame.

There's one thing that I could remember. I was a director of an operation and one day I had a meeting with my managers and I told them to make sure that we prepare our backup to take over whenever the management are leaving and the supervisors. The answer that I got at that time is, "I just can't, Mr Director, because I only have women on my staff." Immediately, I started to look and said, "Well, Bill 79 could have its good side of it."

What I'm looking at today is this bill definitely stimulates women to go back to school, to go back to study, and also to come up in the rank of management. But this bill today that we're about to pass, I don't see any places in that bill that refer to training, proper training to give a chance to the minority, especially the women. I would have loved to see that in that bill, that we encourage the private sector and also the public sector to give the proper training to the people of the minority groups. In this bill, I just can't see that at any place.

Donc, ça m'a fait plaisir de vous adresser ces quelques mots. J'espère que dans le futur on va prendre en considération que la dame sur le marché du travail peut rendre de grands services à nous, Ontariens et Ontariennes, et qu'on continuera à encourager les minorités dans les organisations ou ici.

The Speaker: The time has expired. Any further statements or comments? Seeing none, Mrs Mushinski has moved second reading of Bill 8.

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

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. It'll be a 30-minute bell. The whips can come in in five.

The division bells rang from 1757 to 1804.

The Speaker: Would members take their seats, please. Will the member for Downsview please take her seat.

All those in favour of Ms Mushinski's motion will please rise one at a time.


Baird, John R.

Hardeman, Ernie

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Ross, Lillian

Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Runciman, Bob

Brown, Jim

Jackson, Cameron

Sampson, Rob

Carr, Gary

Johns, Helen

Saunderson, William

Carroll, Jack

Johnson, Bert

Shea, Derwyn

Chudleigh, Ted

Johnson, David

Sheehan, Frank

Clement, Tony

Johnson, Ron

Skarica, Toni

Danford, Harry

Kells, Morley

Smith, Bruce

Doyle, Ed

Klees, Frank

Snobelen, John

Ecker, Jane

tLeadston, Gary L.

Spina, Joseph

Eves, Ernie L.

Marland, Margaret

Sterling, Norman W.

Fisher, Barbara

Martiniuk, Gerry

Stockwell, Chris

Flaherty, Jim

Maves, Bart

Tilson, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Tsubouchi, David H.

Fox, Gary

Newman, Dan

Turnbull, David

Froese, Tom

O'Toole, John

Vankoughnet, Bill

Galt, Doug

Palladini, Al

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Gilchrist, Steve

Parker, John L.

Witmer, Elizabeth

Grimmett, Bill

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed will please rise one at a time.


Agostino, Dominic

Cordiano, Joseph

Martin, Tony

Bisson, Gilles

Curling, Alvin

McLeod, Lyn

Boyd, Marion

Kwinter, Monte

Phillips, Gerry

Castrilli, Annamarie

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Silipo, Tony

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd

Wildman, Bud

Cooke, David S.

Marchese, Rosario

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 60; the nays 21.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon Mr Eves: No, standing committee on general government, please.

The Speaker: So ordered.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Wilson Heights has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given today by the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

The member has up to five minutes and the minister has five minutes to reply.

Mr Monte Kwinter (Wilson Heights): The reason for my dissatisfaction with the response that I got from the minister is that this is an issue of natural justice. It has nothing to do with party philosophy. It has nothing to do with party mantra. It has to do with the ability of the citizens of Ontario to have faith and trust in their government.

I want to preface my remarks by telling you that in the case that I mentioned I don't know the people. They are not in my riding. They are in a riding actually held by a member of the government side. But their case is so compelling. I should also state that since I made the statement today in the House, I've had several other people call me saying they are in exactly the same position.

I think it's important that the minister understand what we're talking about. He doesn't have to look at his briefing books. It has nothing to do with your briefing books. It has to do with common sense. As a member of a community and a man that he knows I respect, it's something that begs for fairness and equity.

A small employer who has 35 employees and has been in business for 22 years applied to the Innovation Ontario Corp, which has as its mandate to provide investment funds for high-tech companies that are export oriented. This company met all of the criteria. They applied. They got involved in substantial expenses with their lawyers, their accountants, to make the commitment. The government had every right to say, "Sorry, we're not going to do it." I have no quarrel with the minister's statement earlier today about cutting -- I have no problem. I don't agree with it, but I have no problem. That is something that you have the right to do.


But what you don't have the right -- and I maintain this and this is where I really feel strongly that this government has dropped the ball: The board of directors of Innovation Ontario Corp approved this investment. They had all the documentation. They spent months negotiating. They approved it. They approved an investment that was going to get them a 25% return if they ever had a buyout, and they conveyed that information to the company.

I can tell you that if a government, the government of Ontario, through its agent, the board of Innovation Ontario, calls you and says: "It's been approved, no problem. We have to do the paperwork, but that's just a rubber stamp. You've got it" -- so they went out and they placed an order for equipment that would make them globally competitive. They put deposits of $100,000 down and were proceeding to go about their business, when we have a new government that says, "Sorry, we are not going to honour that commitment."

What have we got? We have a company that in order to salvage its $100,000 had to complete the purchase of the equipment, using operating funds to a tune in total of $400,000. This has put them in a very, very serious condition. They've had to let one of their research people go. They are literally hanging on by their fingernails.

It would seem to me that in a province that prides itself on fairness, on common sense, you would say: "You know what? We are not going to honour this commitment in the future. We're not going to give money to people, but you acted in good faith, you were told it had been approved, you went out and you made this investment," and to suddenly say to them, "Sorry, too bad, that's your problem" -- the other thing that happened of course, and this is something that has been documented, when they went to see the minister to tell him their plight, he said two things: First of all he said: "Well, it's not in writing. We're not going to honour it." I can tell you, as someone who has been in the investment business, as the minister has been, millions are traded on a word. If someone calls up and orders securities and they're known to the broker, the order is put through.

When I was the minister, I gave Ford my verbal commitment that we would support them to put the van plant and the paint plant into Oakville. There wasn't a piece of paper that changed hands. They went out. They made the pitch to their head office, and they got it. I did exactly the same thing with Goodyear in Napanee.

Here is a small company that has been doing its business, it's in Prince Edward county, which has very little in the way of this kind of thing, and they are being put in jeopardy and they are being put in jeopardy by a government that has reneged on a commitment.

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I'm very happy that the member for Wilson Heights has raised this again, because I think it gives a chance to clear the air about a lot of things.

The first thing I want to say to him is that I think he's been a bit misled by what he has learned from this company. Yes, we did have a meeting, but I can tell you that the advice that we received is that this was not a legally binding arrangement, and because of that and because of the situation that the government found itself in, it was decided that these types of arrangements could not proceed because they were not legal commitments.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): That's nonsense.

Hon Mr Saunderson: No, it's not nonsense; it's very true. I think it's important to listen to this.

The point is that if we do not pay attention to the situation in this province that we've found ourselves in when we took over, that we would not be able ever, ever to give any help. Our total debt --

Mr Kwinter: Answer the question.

Hon Mr Saunderson: I'm answering the question.

The reason why we can't do what we would like to be able to do is because by the end of this decade, we will be paying, if things kept on going the way they were, $20 billion a year to service our debt, and that's just prohibitive. So we had to make the decision of what to do.

In the minister's statement on July 21, he said projects were frozen that were not legally committed, and he was right to say that. By doing that, in the long run we will have the money and the ability to help causes that need help, but I don't believe that businesses should be given grants --

Mr Kwinter: It wasn't a grant; it was an investment.

Hon Mr Saunderson: -- or an investment should be made in business. It should not happen. You did it when you were in power, I know that, and the NDP did it.

Mr Kwinter: And the Conservatives did it for about 42 years.

Hon Mr Saunderson: Yes, well, this is a new Conservative government we have now. This is a new Conservative government which is applying good fiscal principles. We cannot keep on doing what we have been doing. You, when you were in power, your party, and the third party, tried to be all things to all people. You cannot do that, and therefore we have proposed a number of changes.

I'm disappointed about that company, because if that company was wise it would stay in Ontario and experience the good economic climate that we are going to generate over the next few years. It's going to happen because there will be no employer health tax on payrolls of under $400,000. That would apply exactly to that company that you're talking about, and I think that alone would make them want to stay.

The personal tax rates are going to be reduced by 30%. That's again another way that we will be helping, particularly the company to which you were referring.

Hydro rates will be frozen for five years, and that gives some predictability to that company again, knowing what it will be operating under.

Workers' compensation rates will be reduced by 5% and the board --

Mr Cordiano: That's not an issue.

Hon Mr Saunderson: Yes, it is an issue. Listen to me, because we want to establish the proper climate for this province, and we're doing it with what I just said.

Mr Cordiano: You're sending out the wrong signals.

Hon Mr Saunderson: No, we're not sending out the wrong signals. I have been told that all businesses are applauding what we are doing.

The Speaker: The member for Lawrence is out of order.

Hon Mr Saunderson: Yes. I have met with 15 sectors of businesses and they have all said: "Keep on doing what you're doing. Don't blink. Business does not need grants from government."

Sure, if there's free candy from your party, free candy being offered by the third party, then everybody takes the free candy. It makes sense but it's not right, and that's what we are not going to do. There will be no grants to business and that's why the statement was made today.

All I can say is that I appreciate the opportunity to rise in this House this evening and make a statement once again that when the climate is right in Ontario, then we will be able to do things that we have not been able to do recently. But I believe that 725,000 jobs will be created and I'm sure you will applaud us because your economy will be better and you will all be better for it.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for Cochrane South has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing concerning the impact of provincial cutbacks on local property taxes.

The member has up to five minutes and the member from the government, the minister or the parliamentary assistant, will have up to five minutes to reply.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I take it, Mr Speaker, it will be the parliamentary assistant, as the minister is not able to be here.

I asked a very specific question here in the House a couple of days ago. The question was very simply this: We know that the government is intent on balancing its budget over a specific period of time. To do that, we understand that it's going to take a lot of cutting on the part of the Mike Harris government, which will result in probably over $10 billion of expenditure reductions over the next couple of years to be able to achieve their goal.

I pointed out to the minister that in the Common Sense Revolution, the document that was held close to the hearts of all Conservative candidates and especially those who were re-elected, there were two specific promises made.

The first promise was that they were going to put an end to unfair downloading, that they did not believe the provincial government should offload its problems on to municipalities across the province of Ontario. They made a specific promise, the promise in the Common Sense Revolution, that they would not offload their problems on to the municipalities.

They made a second promise and they said, and I quote from the Common Sense Revolution, that they will work "to ensure" -- and the key work here is "ensure" -- that any actions they take as a government "will not result in increases to local property taxes."


So my question to the minister was a very simple one. I said, in light of the cuts you're making as a provincial government, we are now hearing from municipalities across the province that with the cuts you're going to offload on them, that they know are coming, they don't see any kind of adjustment program, they don't see any kind of initiative on the part of the provincial government to help them deal with how not to pass on those cuts to their property tax owners.

I find it very ironic, because the very people this government speaks to are the people in the suburbias across Ontario, those men and women working hard to pay off their houses, working hard to raise families in places like Burlington, Mississauga, Scarborough, Ottawa, Timmins and other communities. These are the people I would think the Conservatives want to protect, but they're the ones who are going to get it stuck right in the ear, because the minute you start to cut your transfers to the municipalities across the province, it will result in an increase in property taxes to those very same homeowners you purport to represent in this House.

The minister said in his response: "Oh, don't worry. We're going to find ways that they can cut services. We'll work with them. I've talked to the Ontario Municipal Association and we'll sort of just work our way through this and there won't be any increase in property taxes." I've taken the time as the critic of Municipal Affairs for the New Democratic Party of Ontario to contact municipalities across the province, and I asked them directly: "What do you hear coming down the tube?" They say, "We are hearing a 20% reduction in all our transfers from the provincial government, that this Conservative government wants to go to block transfers and anywhere from 20% to as high of 40% of the funding now enjoyed by municipalities from the province will be cut." And the question to them was, "All right, what do you plan to do to be able to offset that?" And they say: "Heck, there's not a whole bunch we can do. We will cut a whack of services across this province. But even with cutting services, we envision having to raise property tax assessments to the homeowners in our municipalities."

One of the officials of North Bay, Mr Rogers, said in the North Bay Nugget that he expects it might increase around at least 8%. The city council of Timmins has worked hard with the leadership of Mayor Power and others to make sure they don't increase the property taxes of our citizens in the good city of Timmins, but they fear that cutting services will not be able to offset the cut in transfers that you're bringing and you're going to piggyback on top of that the cut in transfers that the federal government is passing on to you, that they will have to raise property tax assessments not only to the homeowners but to the businesses across our community.

So I ask the minister, very simply, how do you plan, in light of what you promised in the Common Sense Revolution, to prevent municipalities in this province from increasing property taxes? You've promised it in the Common Sense Revolution. The key word was "ensure", a pretty strong word -- "I will ensure" is what it says -- that property taxes will not be increased on the backs of the working men and women in the communities across Ontario through property tax assessment.

All the minister can say is, and I quote his answer to me the other day: "Municipalities need to make these decisions. We have no jurisdiction in this matter. Hopefully they'll be able to do that without raising property taxes." That doesn't sound like an insurance; that sounds like a bunch of weasel words that mean: "Property owners across this province, beware. Your property taxes are going up." Simply put, how do you plan on preventing an increase in property taxes? What are you going to do to prevent that from happening specifically?

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): It's my privilege and honour to represent the minister here this afternoon and speak to the issue. I want to assure you that municipalities recognize the fiscal problems we have in Ontario. They are not waiting in their local town halls for the grants to remain the same as they have been in the past. What the municipalities have been telling us as we've been meeting with AMO, with the regional chairs, with numerous municipalities individually, is that what they need are the tools to be able to handle the reduction in transfer payments.

Mr Bisson: What are the tools?

Mr Hardeman: The tools we're referring to are more local autonomy, that the downloading by past governments of programs they demanded be implemented by municipalities were far beyond the funding that was accompanying them. What they need is the ability to decide where their priorities are and where their money should be spent.

Such further things as restructuring of local government where it's economies of scale, where a lot of changes can be made -- we have had numerous counties approach us in the last week or two to talk about reforming their local government to get to the economies of scale and get to look at the decrease in funding so they can deal with the reduction in payments.

As the minister has said, it is not in the jurisdiction of the provincial government at the present time to force municipalities not to raise taxes. It's one of the local autonomies they have that they set the tax rate appropriate to the services they believe their ratepayers require. What they cannot live with is the constant increase of programming and constant inability to manage their affairs to match the dollars they can charge in local taxes.

As anyone would agree, they would like to have more money, in fact more money than they got last year and more money than they got the year before. They are prepared to look at working with us to try to deal with the reduction in cost. We cannot say that they will not raise taxes, because that is a local jurisdiction, and we want to give more local jurisdiction, not less.

I would just point out that the leader of the third party received applause earlier this afternoon for finally recognizing that there is only one taxpayer. In fact, our local municipalities, our municipal partners, realized that a long time ago. It does not matter whether it's coming from provincial grants or whether it's coming from local property tax, it is the same taxpayer who's paying it. They want the ability to manage their affairs appropriately so they can provide the services their people are prepared to pay for.

I just point out that that is what we are proposing to do. We have set up a committee of municipal officials, which I have the pleasure of chairing, to look at ways this can be accomplished, with boundary adjustments, amalgamations, changing of governments from one-tier to two-tier or vice versa, to reach the economies of scale and to provide the type of government that the people of Ontario told us on June 8 they wanted, better government for less money. So we hope we can work that out and in the very near future the municipalities can get the tools and be prepared to meet the challenges of the future.

The Speaker: There being no further business to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock, Tuesday, November 14.

The House adjourned at 1828.