36e législature, 1re session

L049 - Thu 28 Mar 1996 / Jeu 28 Mar 1996

























































1092040 ONTARIO INC ACT, 1996







The House met at 1003.




Ms Lankin moved private member's notice of motion number 8:

That in the opinion of this House, since the evidence placed before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs illustrates that the stated fiscal plan of the government will not work and that the government's commitment to deliver 725,000 jobs over the next four years is unattainable, given the current state of the Ontario economy combined with the government's plan to deliver a 30% reduction in personal income taxes at the same time as eliminating the deficit and that the evidence presented to the committee illustrates the contradictions within the government's fiscal and economic agenda as well as the damage it will cause in every community in Ontario, therefore this House calls on the government to recognize its responsibility to working men and women in this province and abandon its plan to introduce a 30% reduction in personal income taxes and instead the government should concentrate on the creation of jobs so that the economy will grow, the deficit can be eliminated and the accumulated debt reduced.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member has 10 minutes.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I recognize that, in some ways, the members opposite might think this resolution is a little bit of heresy, because in fact it runs in an absolutely contradictory fashion to the promises that the government made during the campaign in the Common Sense Revolution. I know that the 30% income tax reduction is one of the key promises and one they feel honour-bound to continue and to deliver. But I think it's really important that the members opposite take the time to understand the impact of their economic policy on the fiscal status of the province, on the economic status of the province and on the lives of men and women and families in this province.

There are times in government when you come to recognize that your stated plans aren't workable, aren't implementable or won't have the same results as you anticipated, when you should be wise enough to reconsider those initiatives. I believe very strongly that such is the case with respect to the 30% income tax cut.

Let me take the members opposite through the reasons that I've come to that conclusion. I don't argue that a 30% tax cut wouldn't be nice, I don't argue that people wouldn't appreciate having more disposable income; what I do argue is whether or not we can afford the cost of that right now and whether or not it will provide any kind of benefit to our economy in the way in which the Premier argues.

Firstly, let me say to you that the cost of that tax cut over the next four to five years is in the order of $27 billion. That's $27 billion in a combination of lost revenue and interest charges that you'll have to pay on borrowing more money. You're going to increase the debt load in this province way out into the year 2001 as a result of sticking to this commitment to the tax cut.

For what reason? You argue because it will be a major economic stimulus. But every expert witness who came before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs disagreed with you on that. Even your own finance minister suggested that in the first couple of years there would probably be no economic stimulus from this initiative and that he couldn't quantify what the effect would be in the future. He just hoped that it would restore some sense of consumer confidence and some sense of purchasing power to people and that this would have a positive effect on the economy.

Fully two thirds of the value of this tax cut, the lost revenue that the government is going to spend -- I mean, it is an expenditure in a sense; it's a very large spending program that you're undertaking here -- will go to families that are earning over $90,000 a year. I think it's a false argument to suggest that those families are going to immediately go out and spend the $2,000, the $3,000 or the $5,000 that they will receive back in a way that will stimulate our economy. I've heard members opposite talk about people going out and buying fridges and stoves. How many fridges does a family making over $90,000 a year need? This is not a valid argument.

In fact, all of the consumption studies that have been done indicate that families in that socioeconomic level will take that money and either pay down indebtedness or put it into savings or investments -- mutual funds, whatever -- much of that being offshore, investment in the Asia Pacific rim; not a benefit to our economy. Or as Professor John Crispo, a well-known supporter of your party, said the other night in a debate that I was taking part in with a member of your party and a member of the Liberal Party, he and his wife are going to take a holiday down south someplace with their money.

That is not money that is going to go back into the Ontario economy. There is tremendous leakage from that. So if in fact your goal is to stimulate the economy, I suggest you're using the wrong policy tool to do that. If you are absolutely committed to giving up that much revenue, then perhaps you should take a look at other mechanisms, a mix of different kinds of measures, including looking at sales tax, which would have a more direct and immediate economic stimulus in the economy than the income tax cut that you have proposed.

But let me argue with you why you should not proceed down this line at all. We see economic growth being much slower than the government anticipated in the Common Sense Revolution, which means that revenues coming in to government are already lower than you anticipated in your own document, which means that the gap between revenues and expenditures is larger and you are already looking at a larger deficit than you anticipated.


In order to make up for the money that you will be losing in revenue as a result of this tax cut, you will have to make cuts much deeper, much harsher than even you anticipated in the Common Sense Revolution. These are cuts that have a real impact on our communities, on our health care system, on our education system -- we've already seen announcements of $1.3 billion being cut from hospitals alone, which is only one part of the health care system; $400 million being cut from our education system, with a minister who has promised that in fact that should probably increase to over $1 billion; we've seen cuts in law enforcement; we've seen cuts in programs that support the very fabric of our communities. These affect real people's lives.

But perhaps it would be more persuasive with the group opposite if I make the argument based on economic conditions, because this kind of cut in public spending also affects our economy. You can't take $8 billion out of the economy and not expect that to slow down economic growth and not expect that the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of public sector jobs that will be cut as a result of that massive reduction in expenditure will not affect the economy or consumer confidence. Let me tell you that people who are afraid of losing their jobs are not going to go out and buy and people who don't have a job can't go out and buy.

I know that in the Common Sense Revolution you went around and you told everyone: "Elect us and the investment will come. Our doors will be open and we'll just declare Ontario open for business and it will come." It's not coming, my friends. In fact, the enormous size of the cuts that you are making in public spending are very close to pushing us back into a recession at this point in time.

Again, all of the expert witnesses who came before the committee on finance and economic affairs urged extreme caution, urged that you understand that the economic effect of the cuts is a real one -- the public sector is part of our economy -- and that if you're not cautious about the approach that you take here, the combination of those massive cuts, potentially missing your deficit targets as a result of continuing with your absolute obsession with a 30% tax cut, all leads us to the potential of seeing recessionary pressures return to this province and massive job losses in the private sector as a result of that as well.

The Premier attempted some voodoo economics last week to tell us that the tax cut was going to pay for itself, that simply by cutting the economic stimulus that would be brought about in the economy would create jobs and then those people would be working and paying taxes and that in fact you weren't going to lose any revenue, you were going to make revenue on this. I don't know; based on that theory, if that's what it's going to take, cut it by 60% and then we'll have full employment. It's nonsense and there is no one with any sense of economics who agrees with the Premier.

The Premier stands in his place and says they're all wrong: "The experts from the banks are wrong, the experts from the business community are wrong, the experts from the board of trade are wrong, the experts from the trade union movement are wrong. Everybody else is wrong but me." Why? "Because I believe in the Common Sense Revolution and everything in the Common Sense Revolution is the truth and we're just going to continue no matter what everybody else out there has to say about it, no matter what the impact is going to be on the economy and no matter what the impact is going to be on the Ontarians that we are elected to represent and on whose behalf we govern."

That is an irresponsible approach from the Premier of the province and from the governing party. You must understand the balance that must be struck between your Common Sense Revolution ideology and the real world in Ontario in which you govern.

I say to you, please take a look at what is happening in our economy. Please take a look at the fact that all the experts urge caution at this point in time, that no one believes that this is the right time for you to proceed with this tax cut except the taxpayers' coalition that made the Premier sign a promise that he would resign if in fact he didn't keep this promise.

Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): This private member's resolution is based on faulty premises. Its basic premise is that the critics of the government are right and that the people of Ontario, who elected this government, are wrong.

This resolution is also highly selective in its citation of the witnesses who appeared before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. A total of 78 groups and individuals appeared before the committee. Except for those groups that are heavily reliant on government funding, an overwhelming majority agreed with the government's commitment to reduce the deficit. They agreed with the government's commitment to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio. Almost all the business groups agreed that expenditure cuts are absolutely essential to restoring market confidence in the economy and attracting investment and creating jobs. This is part of our fiscal plan that the member's resolution rejects.

The NDP resolution pretends that economists are agreed that the cure for high deficits, high debt and high taxes won't work. The fact is that economists are divided. As anyone who has dealt with economists knows, four economists can look at one problem and come up with four different solutions, yet the NDP's resolution makes a sweeping and unproven declaration. It says that the government's fiscal plan won't work. The fact is, members of the third party sitting opposite simply don't know that. The member for Beaches-Woodbine can speculate and even hope that the government's program won't work, but the member can only hope and speculate; nothing more. In fact, many experts believe that our fiscal plan is exactly what is needed to reduce Ontario from the legacy of the NDP's profligate spending and tax increases.

Catherine Swift, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said before the committee that, "We believe that cutting taxes and balancing the budget will improve Ontario's competitive position, which will enhance our attractiveness as a place to invest and do business and provide a direct boost to job creation." The Royal Bank also said that our policies will help attract investment and make Ontario competitive. Despite this, the NDP's doom-and-gloom resolution says that the government's goal of 725,000 jobs in five years is unattainable. Well, the member for Beaches-Woodbine can't know that. Again I say that the member is merely hoping and speculating.

Might I point out to you that the facts suggest a far more promising future in so far as jobs are concerned. There were 31,000 new jobs created in the month of February, the highest in the past 16 months. As Finance Minister Ernie Eves pointed out, this shows the confidence in our government's plans and the financial community is beginning to take heed and invest and create jobs.

Canada Trust said that international markets, in fact, are already treating Ontario's debt as if it had been upgraded. And the Council of Ontario Construction Associations already has said that the image of Ontario as a place to invest has improved greatly.

The NDP resolution also presumes that a cut in personal income tax will not be good for the economy. The members of the NDP sitting opposite are entitled to that view, but the people of Ontario simply don't agree. They voted for a tax cut last June. Last January, in the annual Maclean's poll, it showed that the majority of Ontarians continue to want a tax cut, and the presenters before the finance committee argued in favour of a tax cut. This included a wide range of business groups.

The fiscal program that this resolution rejects is based on our belief that cutting taxes will help create jobs and, coupled with our other initiatives, will create a favourable economic climate that will reduce the cost of the tax cut.

The NDP resolution pretends to speak in the name of working men and women of Ontario, the same working men and women of Ontario who voted for the party that promised to cut the provincial personal income tax rate by 30% in three years. Working men and women know that over the last 10 years income tax increases have outpaced their own income growth and that this simply cannot go on. They know that they need more disposable income and that the economy needs their money in order to grow, and in fact they are right. Weak income growth has been a major factor in holding back consumer spending, and a tax cut will give consumers more spending and borrowing power, as more than one witness before the standing committee on finance has pointed out.


In a democracy, the voters are the ultimate experts. Presented with the NDP's fiscal record and the Liberal fiscal alternative, the voters gave a majority mandate to our party that pledged in a clearly laid out plan a 30% cut in the income tax rate and to restore prosperity to the province of Ontario. In the face of such an overwhelming mandate for this government's fiscal plan, this NDP resolution is an affront to the collective wisdom of the voters of Ontario.

Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I speak in support of the resolution by the member for Beaches-Woodbine. The resolution in front of us makes a great deal of sense. No one is questioning the need for fiscal restraint. No one is questioning the need to deal with the deficit, with the debt, with the operating budget of this province. I think any of us who would have come to government, even on this side of the House or the NDP, would have had to deal with the fiscal reality of what we see today.

Let me remind my friends before we go on and on, before we get the "10 last years" speech again, in your own documents published by Ernie Eves, I would point out to you that the only time in 30 or 35 years in this province that there was a balanced budget was in 1989 under a Liberal government, something you weren't able to do.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Straighten him out.

Mr Agostino: What we're talking about here today is the tradeoff between your 30% tax cut and the price that people in Ontario have to pay for that tax cut. I think that some of the Tory members, Mr Stockwell and others, who have spoken in opposition to this cut make a great deal of sense and you should listen to them.

Mr Stockwell: Oh, get it straight. You are speaking on the opposition --

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You got a letter --

Mr Stockwell: No, I didn't.

Mr Agostino: You should listen to them.

The Deputy Speaker: Would the member address his comments to the Chair, please.

Mr Agostino: What is happening as a result of this tax cut is that you're willing to sacrifice thousands of jobs. This government is willing to sacrifice thousands of jobs in order to give this tax cut. In my own community of Hamilton the average individual making around $30,000 a year will benefit around $700 as a result of your tax cut -- $700 based on a $30,000 income. The average individual, not in my community but certainly in other parts of this province -- bank presidents would receive about $110,000 as a result of your tax cut. Now let me tell you what the tradeoff is.

The tradeoff is, first of all, the massive cuts that you've imposed upon municipalities, which mean that now that same average individual receiving that $700 tax cut has to pay higher property taxes, higher school board taxes; has to pay for library usage; has to pay increased water and sewer fees; has to pay more money for the transit system. If you're disabled, you have to pay more money for Wheel-Trans, or DARTS in Hamilton. That is one reality of the cuts and what you have done to municipalities in order to finance your tax cut.

The massive cuts you have made to hospitals and health care: In Hamilton-Wentworth alone, $27 million has been cut out of the health care system. That is the price that the person making the $700 in gain from your tax cut has to pay. There's a potential for closure of St Joseph's Hospital. That is as a direct result of your government's initiatives and the 30% tax cut.

We have calculated that in my own community the direct, firsthand job loss in Hamilton-Wentworth up to this point as a result of your transfer cuts is close to 5,000 jobs. That is a result of the transfer partners: school boards, universities, hospital, municipalities; 5,000 job losses in Hamilton-Wentworth directly as a result of your obsession with this wacky tax cut that you want to give in order to help your rich friends. That is the reality that my community and communities across Ontario have to face every single day. So you can tell those 5,000 people in Hamilton-Wentworth and explain to them how they're going to benefit from your tax cut when you no longer have a job, when you can no longer pay your mortgage, when you can no longer put food on the table because you don't have a job because this government's obsessed with this tax cut.

What I say to this government is that there is a time and there is a place to make those kinds of moves. It is not at the same time that you're trying to deal with the deficit, that you're trying to balance the operating budget of this province. That is the problem. The fault is not the concept of a tax cut. In the right economic circumstances, I think most of us would say a tax cut is the way to go. But to try to do it all at the same time forces you to cut much deeper than you would have to under normal circumstances.

This is why I ask this government to reconsider that, reconsider the tax cut, make the moves that are necessary to attack the deficit, to try to bring a balanced budget in this province in five years or three years or four years, whenever you try to achieve that. But to do it at the same time, I think is a price that is much too high to pay. It's a price that most Ontarians should not have to pay. It's a price, more importantly, that the individuals who don't earn that much money, individuals who are struggling, the working poor have to pay. That is the tradeoff.

If your son or daughter goes to McMaster University next year in Hamilton, you'll have to pay $600 more for tuition. The individual making $100,000 or $150,000 is not going to feel it anywhere as much as the individual making $30,000 or $35,000. So I say to you, reconsider, bring some sense to this, listen to some of your backbenchers, listen to some of the Tories who have had the guts to come forward and speak against it. I would urge more backbenchers to have the same guts as these other members and ensure that the tax cut is put on hold. Do what is right. Forget what you've committed to; do what is right for Ontario.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): I'm pleased to have the chance to rise and speak in support of this resolution presented by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, which essentially --

Mr Stockwell: So predictable.

Mr Silipo: The member for Etobicoke West says I'm predictable. On this one, yes, absolutely. I feel very good being predictable in supporting my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine in advocating, as this resolution does, what I thought the members opposite were very much in favour of, which is good common sense.

The approach that this government has taken is to say that the main reason for the tax cut is because it's going to stimulate the economy and create the 725,000 jobs. How many ministers and how many members of the government have we heard say to us that the tax cut is the primary job creation incentive of this government? The reality is that it's not going to work. It's not going to work, not because we on this side say it's not going to work; it's not going to work because people who know more about the economy than many of us in this room do are also saying it's not going to work.

We can quote, I'm sure, anyone that we want. We can always find a quote that will support what we want to say and we can play that game as long as we want, but the reality is that there was not an overwhelming consensus by even the expert witnesses, the economists who appeared in front of the finance committee, who said: "Yes, go ahead. Do this tax cut and you'll see the 725,000 jobs." I think the member for St Andrew-St Patrick will have to admit that there was no one who was that strong in their belief that in fact this would do the job.

I think it's important that the government recognizes that, but we know that in fact this government seems to be very hard and fast on this issue because the Premier himself seems to be very committed personally to the tax cut, as I say, not because it's been shown economically to work, certainly not when you look at the social costs that it's having in terms of the cuts to health care, in terms of the cuts to classroom spending, in terms of the cuts to the justice system -- all promises, by the way, I remind the members opposite, that this government also made in the election, that they would not cut funding in those areas. Yet they're having no problem in moving away from their promises in those areas. But somehow, when it comes to the tax cut, that one is sacred, that one they have to stick to, that one they can't move away from.


I think we need to ask then, what is the point if it's not to create the jobs? The Minister of Finance himself, when he appeared before the committee, said to us that he doesn't expect any real job growth coming out of the tax cut for the first year after the tax cut, maybe a little bit in the second year after the tax cut. So we're pretty close to the end of the term by that point and the jobs aren't going to be there. They're certainly not going to be there by virtue of the tax cut and yet the devastation that we're seeing across the province, the dismantling of service after service in our school system, in our health care system, in the law and order of this province, in the everyday life of the people of this province -- people are being hurt, and all because this is the one promise that Mike Harris is intent on keeping.

We know, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine has pointed out, that in fact the people who will benefit the most by this tax cut are not the average citizens of this province, but they are the wealthiest 10% to 15% of taxpayers across this province. Now, the members will argue, everyone is going to see the benefits of the tax cut. Of course, everyone will get some tax cut, there's no denying that.

I also want to remind members opposite that they were the ones, and in fact Mike Harris was the one as the Taxfighter who said, "There's only one taxpayer in this province." Remember that, "There's only one taxpayer." So when you give people a tax break -- and I remind you that for the average taxpayer in this province, it will be relatively small -- by reducing their provincial taxes, and you force school boards, municipal councils, to put in place user fees, to put in place increases in property taxes, what happened to your concept of one taxpayer, because they are going to be paying a lot more through those increases in taxes than any benefit they will ever see from the provincial tax cut?

So gone is your concept, I say to the members opposite, of the one taxpayer. I don't understand at the end of the day what's left other than the fact that Mike Harris has staked so much of his personal reputation on this 30% tax cut and is shifting the wealth and the power from all of us into the hands of a few. That's really what's at the base of this. It's wrong, and the members opposite should realize that it's wrong and withdraw from this position.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I welcome the opportunity to speak against this motion. Before I begin formally, I just want to indicate that I was the member from the government in the debate the other day with the member for Beaches-Woodbine, and it was interesting to note that her comments were that she agreed the expenditures had to be cut, she agreed that job creation had to come from the private sector, and I thought for a moment we were approaching a conversion, but I know it was too much to hope for. In any case --

Ms Lankin: You should represent my position correctly. That is a misrepresentation of what I said.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Spina: As a member of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, I also heard the suggestions put forward by groups and organizations representing a wide variety of interests.

The motion states that this government cannot deliver its promises made in the Common Sense Revolution, and this is not the case. Our government's balanced approach to reduce the expenditure and lower taxes is achievable, and the budget forecasts are on target. The need for the tax cut today is more important than ever before. The people of Ontario want a tax cut. They voted for a tax cut. We will deliver a tax cut.

The government wants to indicate to all the taxpayers of Ontario that we will follow through on our commitments. The 30% tax cut was not a cynical attempt to grab votes. There is a deep concern among the public about their personal wellbeing, their ability to make ends meets, and the concern is that the future holds little for their children and our children. Because we want to create hope, we have to create opportunity, we have to create jobs.

In the past decade, taxes have been raised 65 times, and 11 of those increases were personal income tax increases. That's more than one per year for the last 10 years. Our burden is among the highest in North America. This high level of taxation discourages job creation and economic growth.

The resolution states that the government should concentrate on the creation of jobs so that the economy can grow and the deficit and debt will be eliminated. Our government is doing just that. Tax cuts are part of that job creation plan.

I want to add that growing the economy does not mean government spending, as the union economists indicated during that presentation -- that government spending was the method by which job creation would be achieved.

We also heard about comparisons between our government and those from other jurisdictions, particularly the United States and the supply-side economics during the Reagan presidency. For years, Liberal and Socialist parties alike have misrepresented this era as an example of the failure of conservatism and that those Reagan-style tax cuts were misdone. Many times we have heard the left wing and Liberal mantra, "The rich are richer; the poor are getting poorer." We heard it in the last 20 minutes. Here are some of the facts that the opposition will not tell you.

According to statistics obtained from the US Census Bureau, the treasury office, the federal reserve and the Congressional Budget Office, from 1982 to 1989 the following occurred: 19 million net new jobs were created, two thirds of which were middle to high-paying, resulting in the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years. Secondly, the economic growth from the tax cuts increased federal revenue by $1.1 trillion.

Ms Lankin: Wait a minute, what about defence spending? Defence spending had a lot to do with that, not a tax cut.

Mr Spina: That's correct, reductions in the marginal tax rates actually caused an increase in total revenue.

The tax cuts also produced, I might add, a 76% jump in new business investment, and tripled the rate of productivity growth. That's what the tax cuts resulted in.

To get to the issue that only the rich benefited from this process, real family income increased every year from 1983 to 1990 in every income group from the poorest fifth of households to the richest fifth, and the poorest fifth increased by 12%. Well, what about the poor? The median income for those who were in the bottom fifth, or the poorest group, increased by 77%; the richest fifth increased by 5%, so the poor benefited more proportionately than the wealthy, contrary to those opposition critics.

Why did the US not balance the budget? -- and the honourable member for Beaches-Woodbine brought that forward -- because the Democratic Congress would not allow the Reagan government to implement the spending cuts that he had proposed, and that is the fundamental difference between that approach and our strategy. First, we will reduce the spending, then we will reduce the taxable income.

In New Jersey, the state government enacted a 30% income tax cut. In the first two years, they saw a net increase of 117,000 jobs, and the Governor has publicly stated a tax cut is financing them itself.

Ms Lankin: That's where Mike got it from.

Mr Spina: There was an article in the paper the other day that the BC Premier, an NDP Premier --

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): A Socialist.

Mr Spina: Yes. He is looking to implement a 30% tax cut in his government, in a broader scope, and his statement was that this would make the Harris tax cuts in Ontario pale by comparison. This is from a Socialist Premier leader, and this is his strategy to balance the budget. I'm just ecstatic.

The reality is that there is a need for tax cuts.

Ms Lankin: Really, what are you going to do with your tax cut?

Mr Spina: The biggest critic says, "What are we going to do with our tax cuts?" I, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to ask the union leaders who made a presentation to our committee what they were going to do with their tax reduction. Madam Casselman, at least $86,000 a year salary -- what is she going to do with her $4,000 tax cut? These are the people who are going to benefit as well as the lower-income people. It's the rank and file that will benefit from these tax cuts.


As a government, we cannot always act to prevent corporate downsizing, but we can continue to create the climate that ensures that lost jobs are replaced with others, and we must add that opportunity for work. The plan that our government has promised to deliver will work because it is responsible, it is effective and it is balanced. It promotes jobs in the private sector. It spends less of the taxpayers' hard-earned money. The coming months and years will challenge us all.

The interesting thing and what was consistent and what I heard from the presentations at the committee was this: A reduction in retail sales taxes causes a hard jump in consumer spending. A reduction in personal income tax will cause purely a psychological jump in the short term, but the real benefit will come after the first, second and third year. That's where the consumer spending comes. That's where the job creation comes. That's where the benefit of a real tax reduction comes, and that is the impact that this government wants to make, because we need a long-term positive generation plan.

That's why we are here and that's why I'm against the motion and that's why I am in support of a personal income tax reduction.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the kind opportunity to contribute to this resolution which is so compelling on this day.

I'm very much in favour of this resolution because I think it deals with what is now the primary issue of the day in the province of Ontario, the one that has long-term implications. Most of what the government is doing today is based upon the fact that it wants, or at least a few people in the government and key advisers to the government who are not elected want, to ensure that we have a tax break in Ontario in the amount of 30% for the income tax.

The problem with that is it is attractive for a government. The other problem the government has, I understand, is that it gave a commitment during the election campaign that it was going to do so. So I can understand the dilemma that members of the government face, but I think the people of this province would be very receptive to the government giving an explanation on why it would not proceed with this tax cut.

The Minister of Finance said yesterday that they haven't cut any taxes yet, and I agree that in fact that was the case, that they had not cut the taxes. But all of the measures that are being taken by the government are related to the fact that the government wishes to deliver an income tax cut of 30% on the most progressive tax that the province has under its jurisdiction, that tax being the provincial income tax.

It is transferring the responsibility, financial obligations particularly, to local municipalities, boards of education and agencies, and they have to, through user fees, which are the most regressive form of taxes, get that money for those services. In addition to this, they have the option of raising property taxes.

We saw in Peel county yesterday a board of education in the region of Peel which was desperate in this particular case for money because the province has cut back so drastically on funds to that board of education, so they offered as an option a user fee on bus services. This was obviously not popular with people, and that's understandable to the people of Peel, but that's the dilemma that the government is placing boards of education and other local agencies in by this tax.

I have been very impressed with some of the news reports I've read about members on the government side who have themselves -- some of whom are endeavouring to leave the precinct this morning -- indicated some concern about the potential of this tax break. The member for Wellington, Ted Arnott, now a veteran member as far as the Conservatives are concerned, has written a letter to the Premier calling it a reckless obligation. I've respected the member for Wellington's views on issues for a long time.

There are other members such as the member for Etobicoke West, the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore -- there must be something in the water down that way -- and the member for Grey-Owen Sound, all of whom have a good political nose and know what people are saying out there, who understand how important it is to be able to deliver good services to people and not to borrow money.

One of the reasons we have a strike which OPSEU is involved in at this time -- and we hope it is concluded today -- is because the government is cutting so quickly and so drastically and not looking at the consequences of those cuts. As a result, we're in a difficult situation in Ontario.

Again, I was at family and children's services' annual general meeting last night and I was talking to an individual who is involved in a business. He was asking about what was going on at the Ontario Legislature and so on. This person didn't realize that the government of Ontario was going to have to borrow over $20 billion in order to give a tax break which would largely favour the most wealthy in our society. This person was genuinely shocked, and he said, "Well, where do you get these figures?" I said in the Common Sense Revolution, this document. It says right there that the revenue losses to the government are anticipated to be over $20 billion over the term of office. So here's a government which says -- and many people agree -- "We have to address the problem of the deficit," that is going to increase the deficit. It's going to increase the borrowing needs by $20 billion. In my view, that's exceedingly important.

That's why I'm supporting this motion today, because of the cuts to our services and because you are going to have to borrow the money to be able to deliver on this. I think the resolution is timely and all members of the House should support it.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I am very pleased to participate in this debate this morning and to congratulate my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine, who has introduced this resolution. I think it's very timely and important that we have a debate on the approach this government is contemplating for economic stimulation in the province.

We've seen the announcements made by the government since taking office that have produced a climate of vulnerability, concern, worry, people not sure whether they're going to have jobs or actually receiving pink slips so that they are facing layoff, and we know the government is proposing to significantly downsize the public service.

I was very interested in the comments of my friend from Brampton North in that he indicated that the reason the government is contemplating an income tax cut rather than a sales tax cut to stimulate economic growth and jobs by stimulating expenditures was that a sales tax cut would produce immediate sales, sort of a blip where the sales would increase but then might decrease later on, while an income tax cut would be longer term. He indicated, though, that an income tax cut would not take effect really for two to three years down the road. People, I guess, initially might use their additional moneys to go on a holiday to Florida or to the Caribbean or they might pay down debt or whatever, so that wouldn't stimulate spending, but two or three years from now there might be spending that would produce jobs.

So essentially what he is saying, I guess, is that the people the government is laying off now will be out of work for two or three years and then they will hopefully have the opportunity to receive jobs because at that time jobs will be increasing because there will be a stimulus down the road. So what we're looking at, I guess, is a two- or three-year Harris recession that might then improve as spending and investments improve at that time, according to the member for Brampton North -- I guess just in time for the election, they would hope.


The problem is, I'm not sure this whole approach will work at all because the government, as we know, is committed to balancing the budget and reducing the deficit. If you're also going to be doing that while at the same time having a 30% tax rate cut, the cuts are going to have to be so deep and so widespread that we're going to see many, many people laid off. We know that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20,000 people will be laid off in the Ontario public service.

We're headed for significant cuts in education because of the cuts in transfer payments: $400 million this year, which really works out to $1 billion, which the minister, Mr Snobelen, has said is a good thing. That will lead to a layoff of somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 teachers in this province. Of course, the government promised it would not affect classroom education and we know this is going to adversely affect classroom education. It's impossible to lay off those numbers of teachers -- one third of the total workforce of the East Parry Sound Board of Education received pink slips yesterday.

In the post-secondary sector, we see chaos in the community college system because of the layoffs that have been announced, thanks to the cuts by this government, and serious increases in tuition fees for students in the college sector and the university sector.

In health care, we're going through major restructuring. We all accept that there needs to be restructuring. The minister has announced target cuts of 4% or more for most hospitals. In my area, this means that we are facing significant cuts to the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital and the General Hospital in Sault Ste Marie, which have already followed through with integration and amalgamation; they've merged, as governments have wanted them to do. Now they're facing these additional cuts on top of that. In my own communities, in Richards Landing and Thessalon, it means they are going to close the two community hospitals in those areas and turn them into 12-hour clinics: no emergency service, no beds.

This is just unacceptable because it's being driven by a fiscal plan that is unworkable and doesn't add up. It's going to mean layoffs and fewer jobs and fewer services that the people require, rather than a truly worked-out, reasonable health care plan for the community.

I fully support my colleague's resolution. It's timely. It makes absolutely no sense to be contemplating this kind of income tax cut at a time when they're trying to balance the budget and cut the deficit. I'm very worried about the effects it's going to have, specifically on education and health care.

Mr Gerretsen: I get very concerned when I hear members of the Conservative caucus talk about balance. They've already stolen our real slogan, that we stand for the real common sense in this province, and now they're even stealing our slogan with respect to the balance of things. We heard it yesterday with respect to the planning legislation. They claimed the new act is balanced when we all know it's a sop to the developers and the building industry in the province.

Now this morning we hear that this is a real balanced approach, to take $8 billion out of the expenditure side of things and at the same time also cut personal income tax by 30%. It's not very balanced for all those people who got cut 22% last year as far as the social services are concerned in this province. It's not very balanced for all those civil servants who are going to lose their jobs as a result of the privatization effort this government's involved in. It's not very balanced for all those individuals who are really hurting out there on a day-to-day basis.

To talk about personal wellbeing as the last Conservative member mentioned, it's the personal wellbeing of all Ontarians we ought to be concerned with, not just the personal wellbeing of those people who are in the higher income brackets. I think that's the one thing this government has completely lost sight of.

I too am totally in favour of a balanced budget, with no deficit, but I say to you that anybody I've spoken to who has not been involved in the political field over the last seven or eight months completely concurs that there should not be any tax cut whatsoever for anybody until we reach that position where we don't have an annual deficit. At that point in time, we can talk about cutting the tax rate. It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever, when you're running a $10-billion deficit annually, to start cutting on the revenue side of things as well.

There's one other interesting thing, and I realize my Conservative colleagues won't want to hear this, but it's my understanding from doing a little bit of reading in this that most economists will agree that a combination of drastic cuts to government expenditures and a 30% tax cut will not have a stimulative effect at all on the economy. It will have a contractionary effect on the economy. Just about every economist agrees on that. You cannot have it both ways. That's what this government's trying to do and it simply will not work.

There are some members of the Conservative caucus who obviously have realized this and they are speaking out openly and writing openly to the Premier. All I would suggest to all the other backbenchers here is that you can actually have an influence on this, you can do it, if you just do the right thing, talk among yourselves, let the cabinet know, "Look, fellows, this is one promise that maybe we should hold back on until we've licked the deficit problem in this province, and thereby we're not hurting other people in this province."

We totally and fully support the resolution as presented.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): In the four minutes I have left, I make the following points. The first is that this is really a question of the tax cut the Mike Harris government is bringing forward. It not only doesn't add up, but I would argue it's a failed policy. It has been tried in other jurisdictions. We don't need to look far; we need to look at the United States with regard to what Reagan did in his term in government. His whole idea with regard to economic stimulus was the Star Wars program, and the other part was a tax cut. All we got with the tax cut in the United States was, not more jobs being created but a higher deficit. They increased the deficit to record numbers in the United States because it meant that the very revenue the government needed to balance its budget was being taken out of its overall budget. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

If the government is really serious about doing positive things to get the economy going and to create the jobs and the wealth needed to have the revenue to be able to balance the budget, there are positive ways to do that. Really, that's what is at issue here.

Rather than looking at positive measures such as supporting the mining industry through the types of programs we had in place under the Ontario mineral incentive program and the Ontario prospectors assistance program that the government has cancelled; rather than doing positive things like keeping the northern Ontario heritage fund in place so you have the leverage dollars necessary to form partnerships with the private sector, so that they can go to the banks and other people to raise the dollars to start up new enterprises or to add to what they are doing, in examples we have seen throughout Ontario; rather than trying to do positive things such as working with the labour movement and with employers where companies are failing or are in difficulty, such as we did in Kapuskasing and in Sault Ste Marie and in Toronto with de Havilland; rather than looking at positive things, the government says, "We rely on two basic principles."

The two principles are: They're going to create a tax cut, about which, in the long run, I say we will be proven right. It will increase the deficit over the long run. It will not do anything to create the economic stimulus because the money's not going to the very consumers you want it to go to. It's going to the consumers at the higher end of the income scale; in other words, the people who have the biggest bucks will probably spend most of their tax cut on some holiday in Florida or Bermuda.

The second thing you're doing that I think is really wrong is that you're also, rather than looking at positive measures, doing quite the opposite. You're saying, "We will lower the standards by which we control various issues around labour, the environment and the other mechanisms that we have in our economy so that we can compete with capital from places like Mexico, the Far East and other places, so that we can lower our standards so low that people will come and invest in our province because we will not have an onerous regulation system or we will not have the kinds of things the Conservatives believe stop the economy."

I say that's wrong. The Minister of Economic Development and Trade stood in this House last week and said that the youth employment programs we now have in place are in danger of being cut, meaning we will not have the money to hire the students this upcoming summer. What he was relying on for the private sector to hire students was to make Ontario's minimum wage the lowest in all of Canada. I say, shame on the Conservative government. When the Ontario government stands in this House and says the only idea they have to increase economic activity to create jobs and wealth is by lowering standards, such as cutting the minimum wage, I would say that is a step in the wrong direction.

I support the resolution that my caucus colleague has brought forward from the NDP. The tax cut will only compound the problem over the longer term. It will deprive the government of the revenue that it needs to balance the budget in the longer term and it will make the cutting exercise it's doing all that much more difficult. They're going to have to cut further to be able to get a balanced budget in five years.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine to wrap up.

Ms Lankin: The member for St Andrew-St Patrick says that I hope and speculate that their plan won't work. First of all, let me say directly to her, as someone who has spent all the years that I have in public service, I do not hope for a bad economy; I do not hope for joblessness. I believe very strongly in working with people all across the broad political spectrum to try and achieve the best for the people of Ontario.

You say I can't know what the results will be. I ask you how you know with such surety that your tax cut will produce the 725,000 jobs, the economic growth, the wellbeing that you seem -- I'll use the same words back to you -- to pin all your hopes on when every expert who has come forward has urged caution.

You say I'm selective in the groups that I cite. Let me cite the board of trade, which ideologically supports the concept of a tax cut but which said, "Please be careful," because you're going to go out and borrow the money to pay for the tax cut; you're going to cut deeper in order to try and get to a balanced budget; you're taking money out of the economy faster than the economy can absorb; and you may miss your deficit targets. They weren't unqualified in their support.

This is not about balancing the budget. This is about keeping a promise that the Premier signed a pledge to and if he didn't keep it he would resign. Thousands of people are going to be laid off in this province as a result of your actions of cuts in order to make up for the lost revenue from that tax cut. Thousands of families, their dreams and their lives are going to be affected as a result of that. Why? To protect the Premier's job.

You say the voters voted for this tax cut. They voted for a tax cut when they were promised there would be no cuts to health care, no cuts to education and no cuts to law enforcement. You've broken all those promises. The one promise you should break is the promise on the tax cut, for the sake of the people and the economy of Ontario.



Mr Beaubien moved private member's notice of motion number 9:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Minister of Transportation should bring forth amendments to the Highway Traffic Act which would incorporate a change to the inspection requirements and performance standards for motorcycles in regard to the present handlebar height regulations in the province of Ontario.

Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton): I have been hearing about tax cuts for the past hour. As the member for Kingston and The Islands mentioned, I would like to bring some balance. I'm looking for a raise, not in pay, not in taxes but in handlebars.

The present Highway Traffic Act regulation 611 reads as follows:

"(3)(e) No part of the handlebar shall exceed a height of 380 millimetres above the uppermost portion of the operator's seat when the seat is depressed by the weight of the operator."

That regulation was probably adequate in the 1960s, when we had Easy Riders, when motorcycles had ape hangers and were portrayed as if people were hanging from their motorcycles. However, this is 30 years later, and I would strongly suggest to the members that the regulation should be changed.

For instance, I think we have progressed, when we look at automobiles today, in that we have seats that are adjustable and we have steering-wheels that tilt. We try to make the driver of the vehicle comfortable. Consequently, probably it makes the driver drive a little more safely.

If my good friend the member for Lake Nipigon were here today, I would strongly suggest that if I were to drive his vehicle, I probably would adjust the steering-wheel according to my needs and certainly would adjust the seat according to my needs. On a motorcycle, the operator does not have that option, and I think it's about time that we start realizing that people who operate motorcycles do have a right to comfort and safety.

However, many of the motorcycles today are considered illegal by the present standard. Such motorcycles like the Honda Gold Wing, the Yamaha Venture Royale exceed the 380-millimetre height. I would strongly suggest that those two motorcycles are not motorcycles that you would speed on. I'm sure that you could speed with them, but basically those motorcycles are the ma-pa type motorcycle whereby you, Mr Speaker, or myself, if I were a motorcycle driver, and maybe some members of the opposition, if they had their balance properly, would probably ride these.

The province of Saskatchewan and the province of British Columbia, along with many of the southern states, have already addressed this particular problem. They've seen fit to change the regulations to accommodate drivers for the 1990s.

As I've mentioned previously, we have done that with the automobile. Again, if we have an operator who's six-foot-six sitting in a car as opposed to one who's five-foot-two in a car, I'm sure there's going to be some changes made to the tilt on the steering-wheel and the seat position. However, a motorcycle driver does not have that option.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): What about adjustable seats?

Mr Beaubien: Well, I think maybe some seats should be adjusted across the House or so. It would be more reasonable to assume that we should provide a little bit more flexibility to motorcycle operators today.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Don't attack us yet. You don't know where we stand on the issue.

Mr Beaubien: So I think with the regulations that we have in place today, we insist on maintaining the height of the handlebars on the motorcycle at 380 millimetres.

I am not a motorcycle operator. However, I'm told by experienced motorcycle riders that it can be very uncomfortable for some people, especially if you're over six-foot-four. Many of today's motorcycles, due to style, comfort, practicality and safety, have handlebar heights which are illegal in this province. It is unreasonable to expect uniform measurement for handlebar height if the operator is not of a uniform size.

I am proposing the following revisions to the regulations, and that is basically what British Columbia and Saskatchewan have done: (a) would be so that the secured maximum height to which the handlebars extend is not higher than the top of the driver's shoulders when the driver seat is occupied, and (b) that the handlebars do not exceed the overall width provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

The above two recommendations would make it more comfortable for the operator of a motorcycle and it certainly would not jeopardize the safety of the operation of that unit. Furthermore, we have enough safety standards in the province today to make sure that the all the safety standards are abided by.

Mr Gerretsen: Where is this stuff coming from, anyway?

Mr Beaubien: "Where is this stuff coming from," as the member for Kingston and The Islands says. I also bring to your attention, the member across the hall, that the Bikers Rights Organization, Ontario, favours these changes.

Mr Wildman: Yes, but they don't like helmets either. What's your position on that?

Mr Beaubien: Well, no, they do like helmets.

With regard to making it more comfortable for a person to operate an automobile, we had seen the light 30 years ago. I know some of the members were not around in those days and it's hard for them to understand the words "comfortable" and "reasonable." However, I think it's about time that we, as a government in this province of Ontario, started giving the same rights to motorcycle operators. I think it would make it much easier if we had some flexibility for a motorcyclist to adjust his throttle, his clutch, his turn signals and his brakes. The more comfortable we make the operation of a vehicle, I would strongly suggest that the safer the operator will operate his vehicle.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): We are, I think, very interested in this amendment really, and it's an amendment which I think is very sensible and reasonable.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Get your motors running. Get out on the highway.

Mr Colle: Born to be wild, yes.

The member for Lambton is going to contribute to a bit of an improvement in terms of the way this regulation is enforced because one of the problems that arises even for police officers is trying to make a judgement call on a highway in terms of the number of centimetres. I think this will make it much easier for enforcement. Like the member for Lambton says, I think most motorcyclists in the province are representative of a cross-section of citizens. They're taxpayers and they do certainly deserve fair and equitable treatment. This seems to be in line with what BC and Saskatchewan are doing, and it's very easy to understand that it would again be of benefit to the motorcycle riders across Ontario.

I would like to say that as much as we hear all the negative inferences about motorcyclists, there are thousands and thousands of very decent, law-abiding citizens who ride motorcycles in the province and I think this is of benefit to them. I've been involved with a number of people in the annual Ride for Sight which is held every year in Fenelon Falls -- and this year it's going to be on June 15 in Fenelon Falls -- where motorcyclists from across Ontario raise money to fight blindness. They raise about $1 million a year. They ride from Whitby Towne Centre up to Fenelon Falls, and then they spend the weekend in Fenelon Falls. There's family camping. There's a dry area of camping. Then there's the Bikers for Christ. From all walks of life they come together and they raise $1 million for eye research. This money goes towards fighting retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative eye disease many Canadians are afflicted with.

I can put that on the record to show that I think there's no reason why we can't listen to the motorcycling community, which thinks this would be a benefit to it. I applaud the member for Lambton in bringing this forward as a minor adjustment to the height of the handlebars, which makes it easier for them and I think easier for enforcement for the police officers.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): Up front, I would say I don't have a real difficulty in supporting what the member is trying to do. I take it what he's trying to do is accommodate a request that he has either had as a parliamentary assistant to where he is or in regard to his constituents back in his riding. Whenever possible, I think we, the members of the House --

Mr Stockwell: Yes, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture.

Mr Bisson: Agricultural people do have motorcycles, you know. I have to tell you, a lot of my friends who are out in the farm community have bikes.

I think what we should do whenever we can, in private members' hour, is when we see members coming before the House trying to advocate something that makes sense for their constituents, we should at least in this forum try to keep out of partisan politics and try to support that member's efforts.

I would say just a couple of things, however, in regard to motorcycles and what has happened I think over the past 10 or 15 years when it comes to bikes. I think Mr Stockwell, being of my vintage and age, a fairly young man, barely in his 40s -- we all remember very well growing up, when we were younger in high schools. Motorcycles were something that were very affordable as a means of transportation for young people of my generation when we were growing up and going through high school. Most of us, I would say, who wanted to buy a motorcycle to have transportation, because cars were a bit more expensive and not as much fun to drive, obviously, as a motorcycle, were able to do that.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): In Timmins?

Mr Bisson: No. I have to say to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin that Iroquois Falls, which is a community of about 5,000 to 6,000, right next to Timmins, has probably one of the highest motorcycle populations I've seen in most communities, I would say throughout Ontario.

Mr Colle: Can you prove that?

Mr Bisson: I can prove it. There are individuals in Iroquois Falls --

Mr Colle: Mimico's got the most bikes.

Mr Bisson: Mimico? All right. I think Iroquois Falls is a close second.

Mr Colle: You've never been in downtown Mimico.

Mr Bisson: Actually, I have. The point I'm making is that at one time it was very affordable for a young person to go out and say he wanted to buy a motorcycle for his means of transportation and enjoyment. We've seen over the years a real erosion of that. Insurance on motorcycles over 750 ccs has gone up quite dramatically over the past 10 or 15 years to where it's really out of the reach of a young individual 18 or 19 years old wanting to buy a motorcycle as a means of transportation.

I own two motorbikes. I have a Honda Gold Wing, a classic 1973 strip, black, beautiful machine, and I have another one which is an offroad-onroad 350 XT. For myself as an older driver with driving experience, the insurance is fairly expensive but affordable, and with my income level I'm able to afford that as a pastime. I very much fear that what's happened with the insurance, because of some of the problems that have been associated with accidents with motorcycles, especially with younger people, is that we've seen the insurance literally go through the roof to where, if a young person wanted to buy a bike today, let's say a Gold Wing or maybe one of the low riders, it would be $1,800 to $2,000 a year, really unaffordable.

I would hope that the government -- and I see the parliamentary assistant is here; he was listening -- can try to do something about that, because I think young people today are responsible; they're looking for a means of transportation. If we can try to support them in doing something about insurance rates for motorcycles specifically, I think it would be a step in the right direction.

I only have one concern to the motion being put forward. I know you worded your resolution in such a way that you're giving some latitude to the Minister of Transportation to look at this to see what is the safest thing. I think there is a certain danger in having motorcycle handlebars up excessively high. It doesn't give you the kind of control, especially in tight situations, that you would like to have to really be in control of your motorcycle in the event that something happens and you've got to react quickly. I'm not quite sure that I'd want to see motorcycle handlebars allowed to be as high as you're talking about, but I think the ministry would look at this in some detail and try to figure out what's a good compromise that would allow your resolution to go forward.

My good friend Mr Cooper, a former member of this assembly, if Mr Stockwell remembers, had brought forward a resolution to this House some two or three years ago. If I remember correctly, I was reminded by one of the members that it was a motion supported by all members of the House, and I think the motion read something like, "In the opinion of the House, we are in favour of motorcycles, as they use less of everything." If you remember that one, it was quite an interesting debate.

Mr Gerretsen: I think we supported it.

Mr Bisson: We all supported it, actually. I would say I will support the member on the basis of what he's trying to do. I hope that, in working with the ministry, they try to look at what is a safe compromise in regard to that. I just say to my friend across the road, keep your motor running, and we'll see you on the highway some time.

Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I am pleased to rise in the House this morning to support the resolution that is being proposed by my colleague the member for Lambton. I believe the fundamental issue that the member for Lambton is attempting to deal with by proposing this motion is an example of the outdated regulations in this province at the moment. Other provinces have dealt with this same issue by amending their regulations to create a much more commonsense approach.

Currently in the province of Ontario, there exists a regulation that states that handlebars on a motorcycle cannot be more than 380 millimetres above the uppermost portion of the operator's seat when the seat is depressed by the weight of the operator. What kind of a regulation is that?

During the days of the infamous chopper, this type of regulation may indeed have had its place. When a motorcycle has handlebars that are excessively high, there is a serious safety problem not only for the driver of the vehicle but indeed for the vehicles that are in the vicinity of that motorcycle.


The days of the chopper are over, and so should be the regulation regarding the 380-millimetre height limit. The regulation needs to be amended, and it appears that the member for Lambton has made an interesting proposal on how the regulation should be amended. It is important to note, as we've heard this morning, that some of the most common touring types of motorcycles that are currently travelling our roads are considered illegal by today's standards by as much as four inches.

Let us spend a moment to consider how other jurisdictions have dealt with similar regulatory changes. According to the Saskatchewan Gazette that was printed September 1987, regulation 230(a) and (b), where amended, the vehicle should have handlebars that have grips that are no higher than the shoulders of the seated driver and do not exceed the overall width of those provided by the vehicle manufacturer. Again, the province of British Columbia suggested, in order-in-council 7/86, which dealt with the same problem, that the maximum height to which the handlebars extend is no higher than the top of the driver's shoulder.

The difference is that Saskatchewan and BC regulations allow some freedom of modification. As many cyclists have noted, we have tilt steering-wheels and adjustable seats in our cars to allow improved comfort and control of the vehicle; why in the name of goodness should we not have that in motorcycles? To maintain a regulation that expects the same 380-millimetre height restriction for an individual who is five feet tall or six feet, whatever it might be, is not a commonsense approach. The length of an individual's arms, size of their upper body or their riding position greatly differs, and we can certainly see that among some of the members in this House. A uniform height for handlebars does not make sense when the people riding these vehicles are different shapes and sizes, which often creates a situation where some riders are operating the motorcycle unsafely.

The original intent of the regulation was to promote safety during the era of the chopper style of motorcycle. That era is behind us, and so should the regulation be. If motorcyclists are permitted to adjust their handlebars to a comfortable position to a maximum height of their shoulders, then they will be in a much better position to control the motorcycle in a safe manner.

Currently, the private vehicle inspection safety certificate program that is in effect in Ontario has done a good job of keeping unsafe motorcycles off the road. However, it is worth pointing out that many owners of motorcycles are being fined for violating provincial standards but that no import standards exist when these motorcycles are brought into the country. So we have a situation where motorcycles, regardless of the size of the handlebars, are allowed into Canada, but you cannot legally operate the vehicle because the province states that handlebars do not comply with the 380-millimetre provincial regulation.

Those in this House who love to impose new regulations, and we've had a lot of them in the last five or six years, will respond to that situation by saying we should lobby the federal government and have them impose import standards on bikes. The real solution to the problem is to amend the current provincial regulation by adopting similar wording as in the province of Saskatchewan.

I support this resolution as put before this House by the member for Lambton. It ensures that safety will be maintained and yet allows the operator of the motorcycle some flexibility and ensures that the rider will be more comfortable on the bike. By doing so, by increasing that comfort, it will make a much safer and far more alert rider than we currently have on the road. I do support this resolution.

Mr Gerretsen: Let me also stand in support of this motion. I've found that these private members' sessions on Thursday morning are very educational, because most of the motions and resolutions that have come forward have been very reasonable and have been very supportive. It's like the last resolution, which was put forward by the member for Beaches-Woodbine: very reasonable. Forget about the tax cut until we've got this deficit under control.

I could get very political with the member for Lambton and say, yes, we'll support this one if you support that one. But you know, I would never play those kinds of games because I'm totally against that sort of thing. I guess the real question that we have to ask here is --

Mr Colle: "Who cares?"

Mr Gerretsen: No, not, "Who cares?" People do care. But with all the influence that this member has within the current government -- and his influence is very substantial -- and with the reasonableness of this particular idea, why hasn't the ministry done something about it over the last six to eight months? I've heard it being referred to by the last member as a change in the regulations. We all know that regulations don't have to come here. Regulations are passed by cabinet. They're introduced by a member of cabinet and they're just passed and they're implemented.

So I'm somewhat disappointed that this member, with his tremendous influence as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, has not been able to convince his own caucus cabinet members of the wisdom and the reasonableness of this resolution and just have it done, rather than us dealing with this matter in this session this morning. I would suggest to him to in the future talk to his cabinet colleagues first. I'm sure you could set up appointments with them, if not here in Toronto then in their local constituency offices. I'm sure they do see people from time to time. Maybe these kinds of good ideas can be brought to the foreground and can be dealt with a lot quicker.

It has raised a number of other very interesting issues, though, because one cannot possibly think of motorcycles without thinking about the condition of the roads in this province and the potholes that are out there. We heard about it yesterday when Pothole Palladini I think was trying to blame the federal government, was trying to blame Mother Nature, was trying to blame all sorts of other people etc about the condition of the potholes not only on the major roads of this province, but also on all of the highways and byways and country roads etc. I would suggest to this member that he put just as much effort into trying to convince the Minister of Transportation to actually do something and correct these situations that we have with respect to the roads.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to look at an old budget of 1969, which was the last balanced budget that the Tories ever had in this province: 1969, 27 years ago. What was very interesting to read from that document was that the amount of money that the province then was spending in the area of transportation was some $400 million, if my memory serves me correctly, which was about the same amount of money that was being spent on health care at that time. We know that since that time the health care costs have just ballooned to over $17 billion, but the influence of the various ministers of transportation and the transportation departments in this province has declined, and declined to a point where I think in the current budget only about $200 million is being spent provincially for the maintenance --

Mr Colle: Sixty per cent of the roads are substandard.

Mr Gerretsen: Sixty per cent of our roads are substandard, and all those motorcyclists who will now be on the road under those new regulations that undoubtedly will be passed will have to drive on roads with huge potholes, risking their own lives and safety, probably with much ruin to their vehicles so that their insurance costs will escalate on a monthly or a daily basis. I'm quite sure that the member for Mississauga West, or North -- where is it? -- who is currently working on all these insurance regulations -- I'm sure, according to the newspaper reports anyway, he won't succeed any more than the previous committees that have been set up to look at the Insurance Act will succeed.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Oh, John, that's unfair.

Mr Gerretsen: It may be unfair and I hope to be proven wrong. I hope you will actually be able to do something about the insurance rates in this province.

Again, to the member for Lambton, we support your resolution, at least I do, and my honourable colleague here who is the critic for transportation. We're totally behind this resolution.

With all the influence that you have within the government, please talk to the Minister of Transportation about the real problems out there. Fix the potholes, make sure that by doing that we can do something about the insurance rates and about the health and safety of the citizens who use our roads on a day-to-day basis.

Let your real influence be shown within this government on some real, meaningful issues, and don't bring issues like this that could have been dealt with by regulation before this honourable body, because I'm sure we can discuss much more meaningful things, such as, for example, the 30% tax cut, which we all know should not occur in this province until we have a balanced budget.


Mr Wildman: I want to congratulate my friend from Lambton for bringing this matter before the House. This is of course the real purpose of private members' hour, that individual members can raise matters of public import which may not be central to the agenda of the government but which are of importance to his or her constituents or to a particular constituency across the province.

In this case I understand he's responding to the bikers' rights organization, and I would never want to label them as an interest group, because it's not my view that we should label groups, as this government seems wont to do. But I'm pleased that in this case the member is responding to the concerns of this organization. It does seem to make sense that we would have a regulation worded in such a way that motorcyclists could in fact be comfortable on their machines, so that they can properly control the machine, particularly in emergency situations. So I congratulate the member for bringing this matter forward.

I would raise a couple of concerns, however. It seems to me we have to have some sort of definitive limit on the height of handlebars. I know you've said not higher than the rider's shoulders, but I've seen some bikes that are operated in such a way that they don't seem safe for the rider or for the other members of the travelling public.

I'll give you an example. A number of years ago I was driving on Highway 17 between White River and Wawa, and there was actually a lot of traffic, which is unusual for that section of road. There was quite a lot of traffic, and there were two lanes of traffic. It was in the summer, I think in July, a bright, sunny day, good visibility and so on, but the traffic was moving rather slowly because there were a lot of trailers and trucks.

All of a sudden, I heard this very loud noise which startled me, and right beside me, one of these -- I think it's called a hog -- one of these great big motorcycles -- I'm not sure of the make; I think it may have been a Harley-Davidson, but I'm not sure -- went right by me along the centre line of the road between the two columns of traffic.

Mr Gerretsen: How fast were you going?

Mr Wildman: I was going just a little less than the speed limit. That motorcycle was going much faster than the speed limit and it was very dangerous. I'm not suggesting that most bikers would travel this way -- I know they don't; they're not unsafe -- but this guy was taking an awful chance. All that had to happen is for one of the vehicles to be a little farther over than he'd expect and there would have been a terrible accident. He went right through, but the point is that he was leaning way back, he wasn't sitting upright, and his handlebars were up above his head. The front wheel of the motorcycle was one of those that looks like a bicycle wheel, a very small wheel.

Mr Stockwell: Did you make a citizen's arrest?

Mr Wildman: I was too scared.

Obviously, that kind of motorcycle I don't think would be in compliance with the regulation that the member for Lambton is proposing, but I suppose this guy might argue that for him it was comfortable to lean backwards when he was riding and therefore he needed to have very long and high handlebars.

The other thing that was worrisome when I first listened to the debate from the member for Lambton was he wasn't just talking about height, he was talking about width, and at first I thought he was talking about not having -- he said the handlebars should not be above the shoulders of the rider and they should not exceed the width and I thought he was going to say of the rider, but I think he then said it should be the width proposed by the manufacturer for the motorcycle -- because I have seen some motorcyclists that that might be a problem.

There is another area, though, I want to raise. I know that you have seen these other very different types of bikes, motorcycles, that are like racing bikes. They're called low riders. The handlebars are right at the level of the machine, and the rider has to lie on the motorcycle as if he were in a motorcycle race. I just can't believe these are safe machines, and I'm wondering how your regulation deals with that kind of a machine. Could this individual say, "Well, for me comfort is lying down, and therefore I want to lie down on the machine and ride with the handlebars very, very low"?

Mr Gerretsen: You can't say "lie" in here.

Mr Wildman: No, you're only not allowed to say, "Lie awake at night."

Quite seriously, I would like the member for Lambton to address this question of these very low-rider type of machines and whether or not we should have a limit on how low the handlebars can go.

Mr Bisson: How low can the member get? That's what I want to know.

Mr Wildman: In other words, how low can you go?

Other members have raised somewhat extraneous issues during this debate which I think is rather unusual. Most people would want to keep to the principle of the issue and to deal with this in a very serious way in the way that the member for Lambton has raised it. But I would indicate that I do have some sympathy for those who have said that we have to look at the condition of the roads on which these motorcycles are riding.

I also would like to know whether or not you're also talking about off-road motorcycles, the dirt bikes, and whether or not they would be included in this regulation. It's getting to the point now where in order to be safe on many of our highways you should be riding a dirt bike, not one that is meant for highway travel, because right now we have a serious deterioration on our roads. I know the road contractors --

Mr Wayne Wettlaufer (Kitchener): You let it go for five years.

Mr Wildman: Well, we built a lot of highways in this area, as you know.

The contractors have indicated that the existing highways, rather than the new ones that government has brought forward and got the contracts going on or has planned, the existing highway system has deteriorated significantly, because we aren't doing the same amount of maintenance that used to be done. It used to be standard for the Ministry of Transportation to resurface and repair a road every seven or eight years. Now I think it's been extended to almost 15, and that means that the roads are in much worse condition than they used to be.

It's something we really should be addressing, because I would not want the member to come forward next year with a regulation saying that because of the safety issues related to the deteriorating condition of our roads we should only allow dirt bikes on our highways. I seriously want the member to address the issues I've raised and I congratulate him for bringing forward this resolution. I think it will be one of those few resolutions that might in fact actually lead to something.

Many people consider the private members' hour to be an hour of just esoteric debate, and I would never subscribe to that. Obviously, I've never thought of motorcycles as in any way esoteric, and I would think that members should bring forward issues that they consider to be important because they really want change.

I would hope that the member has discussed this at least with his pal Al and that he could in fact have some assurance that if the members of this House were to pass this resolution, it indeed would be moved forward, that the government would respond and listen to the members' opinions. I would encourage many members of the government and the opposition parties in this House to seriously consider this resolution.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member's time has expired.

Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I would just say that I really do resent the fact that you haven't given me enough time to deal with this matter.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for Scarborough East.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): First off, I'd like to say that I will be supporting the resolution of the member for Lambton. I'm Harley prepared for the comments that I have to make here today, and with only eight minutes, I don't want to hog all the time here.

I must say, since yesterday, when Mr Beaubien asked me to consider this, I've tried to get a handle on the issue and to come to grips with the many and varied facets of this issue. I know that it's been frustrating for the members opposite to not be able to talk about chops today and only choppers, but I think that Mr Wildman's comments about low riders are as close as we can get to a commentary about the positions in the polls of the various parties here today. But I'd like to stay on topic.

This is in fact a serious resolution brought forward by the member for Lambton and it's consistent with the government's approach to eliminate all sorts of silly and irrelevant and unproductive regulations that have cropped up over the years, not just the last 10 years, although mostly during the last 10 years, but even going back before then.

Comments have been made in the House earlier in this debate that this regulation dates back to a time of the ape hangers, as they were called in the chopper craze in the late 1960s. As the member who spoke previously commented, there are those who have taken it to an extreme, and none would argue that handlebars that are higher than the shoulder pose a serious hazard to others on the road.

The requirement right now that no part of the handlebar shall exceed a height of 380 millimetres above the uppermost portion of the operator's seat when the seat is depressed by the weight of the operator really is not appropriate, because many of the motorcycles which are imported legally into this country have stock handlebars that exceed that. So there's the irony. In this province we have vendors selling motorcycles, legal for sale in this country, legal for sale in this province, that the moment someone sits on them become illegal because of the height of the handlebar. But the duties and taxes have been paid. The federal government has got their pound of flesh. Every other province would allow you to sit on that motorcycle and head on down the highway looking for adventure or whatever comes our way.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): Potholes.

Mr Gilchrist: Or potholes, looking for potholes in Kingston.

But seriously, the incongruity that here in Ontario we've set a standard that makes a Honda Gold Wing or a Yamaha Venture Royale illegal is really quite silly.

The resolution the member has proposed would prefer that we instead go to what British Columbia has done, which says, "so secured that the maximum height to which the handlebars extend is not higher than the top of the driver's shoulders when the driver's seat is occupied," and also add a clause from Saskatchewan's act, that "the vehicle shall have handlebars that have grips that are no higher than the shoulders of the seated driver and do not exceed the overall width of those provided by the vehicle manufacturer" as original equipment.

Clearly, the fact that Ontario is out of sync with the rest of Canada should be motivation alone for all members in this House to give serious consideration to and vote in favour of this resolution. I'm sure that the member will then have greater assistance in his efforts to convince the Minister of Transportation of the need to change this regulation.

We have to remember that a lot has changed in the construction of motorcycles since the 1960s. They have become far more powerful. They have become far more expensive. They have got creature comforts the likes of which we had no idea would ever come to motorcycles: adjustable seats, AM-FM radios, the whole nine yards. I think the context of the new construction and the fact that every other province has seen fit to change their regulations to the new realities really should drive Ontario to follow their example.

As I said, this is consistent with our entire approach to regulatory change in this province. The Red-Tape Review Commission, chaired by Mr Sheehan, is looking at the 4,500 regulations with a view to eliminating untold numbers that do nothing more than vex and frustrate businesses and consumers in this province. It's also consistent with the committee, chaired by Mr Wood, that's looking to scrap the agencies, boards and commissions that oversee those regulations or that promoted their creation; or, where they're not scrapped, change their terms of reference to make them more accountable to the elected officials in this province.

It's also consistent with our approach to all aspects of government. We're bringing common sense back to everything else we do; why shouldn't we bring it back to the shape and style of motorcycle handlebars?

I have done my best to treat this seriously, Mr Beaubien, and it is a serious issue, but I think at the end of the day it's more symptomatic of the kind of problems that our government inherited where we have products legal for sale elsewhere in Canada that somehow, as a result of disinterest or a lack of education in the last few years, we have seen our predecessor governments fail to make the necessary regulatory changes for.

I certainly support the resolution put forward by the member. I think it's high time we make this change. I'd just like to end by saying that I hope my comments will accelerate the decision-making on this issue. I prompt all other members and I encourage them to support this worthy resolution.

Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member talked about the potholes in Kingston. I know we do have a problem there, but no worse than any other municipality. Let me just say that for those students who were there in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, as the honourable member was, if they were --

The Deputy Speaker: That's not a point of order.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have enjoyed this last sparring on the potholes. I have to agree with the member that the roads are all very bad nowadays, partly because of the winter conditions and partly because of the lack of maintenance. I have had a chance to travel in the last couple of months to Ottawa and the Kingston area on a variety of government business and I have to agree that you have to negotiate your way, if you can, if there isn't too much traffic, to avoid some of the larger potholes, let alone with a car, but especially with a motorcycle.

Speaking on that particular issue today, not to trivialize the issue -- which I support, by the way; I support the member for Lambton and his resolution -- I would say that one good reason for lowering the handlebars is so the driver can have a good view of the road ahead and make sure that he may deviate from some of the potholes on the road. That is one of the benefits of the resolution by the member.

I would agree with one of the previous speakers that if the resolution indeed will pass to legislation, it will find speedy acceptance by the other side, and the minister as well. I do congratulate the member for bringing this forth, as it is some reason of safety. Nowadays I think we have to intrude, if you will, as little as possible, but interfere with those matters when safety is at risk, not as much sometimes for a particular driver himself or herself, but for consideration of the other drivers.

The other thing that is a little bit perhaps stunning is that when the House seems to find acceptance on a particular private member's bill or resolution, not too many people have much to say. Perhaps it's because of the issue itself, perhaps it's because members feel, "Since we agree with that, maybe there isn't too much to say about it."

However, it is a good resolution. I support it. Let's hope this will find speedy acceptance by the government.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate? The Chair then will entertain two minutes by the presenter.

Mr Beaubien: First of all, I would like to address the comment from the member for Algoma with regard to, "Comfort is lying down." I don't even want to touch that one, because I could be incriminated in doing something illegal.

With regard to the member for Kingston and The Islands, I would point out that his party was in power from 1985 to 1990 with regard to regulation 611. That party didn't see fit to change it.

My concern with this entire issue is the safety and comfort of the operator of a motorcycle. We have designed and altered automobiles in the last 25 years whereby the comfort and the safety of the driver are of the utmost importance, yet we keep on insisting on antiquated regulations when it comes to motorcycles. We have to face the reality and use common sense. How can we expect a six-foot-six person to abide by the same standard as a five-foot person?

This issue has been dealt with in most states and in the provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Also, changing the present legislation would make enforcement of this regulation much easier. It is time for Ontario to address this issue and change its regulation to allow the operator of a motorcycle similar comfort and adjustments as we have done with automobile drivers. This province has always been concerned and will continue to be concerned with the safety on our highways. Why not provide comfort and safety to the motorcycle operator? After all, isn't safety our most important issue?


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): On ballot item number 15, private member's notice of motion number 8 standing in the name of Ms Lankin, is there anybody who objects to this coming before the House?

All in favour of the motion? Is it agreed?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

This item will be put over until after the next ballot.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): On ballot item number 16, private member's notice of motion number 9 standing in the name of Mr Beaubien, is there any member who objects to this coming before the House?

On the resolution then of Mr Beaubien, shall the motion carry? Carried.

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

The division bells rang from 1154 to 1159.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Ballot item number 15, private member's notice of motion number 8, standing in the name of Ms Lankin: All those in favour will rise and stay standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Cooke, David S.

Marchese, Rosario

Bartolucci, Rick

Crozier, Bruce

Miclash, Frank

Bisson, Gilles

Gerretsen, John

Pouliot, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Pupatello, Sandra

Brown, Michael A.

Gravelle, Michael

Sergio, Mario

Castrilli, Annamarie

Kormos, Peter

Silipo, Tony

Churley, Marilyn

Lankin, Frances

Wildman, Bud

Colle, Mike

Laughren, Floyd


The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will rise and stay standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Baird, John R.

Gilchrist, Steve

Sampson, Rob

Bassett, Isabel

Guzzo, Garry J.

Shea, Derwyn

Beaubien, Marcel

Hudak, Tim

Skarica, Toni

Boushy, Dave

Johns, Helen

Smith, Bruce

Brown, Jim

Kells, Morley

Snobelen, John

Chudleigh, Ted

Klees, Frank

Spina, Joseph

Doyle, Ed

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

Eves, Ernie L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Fisher, Barbara

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Flaherty, Jim

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Ford, Douglas B.

Newman, Dan

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Fox, Gary

Parker, John L.

Wood, Bob

Froese, Tom

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

Galt, Doug

Preston, Peter


Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The ayes are 23, the nays are 41.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

It being past 12 o'clock, this chamber stands adjourned until 1:30 o'clock this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1203 to 1331.



Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I rise before the House today to ask this government to address another issue of inequality in the province of Ontario.

As the Minister of Finance opposite knows, there are no Ontario insurance examination centres in northern Ontario. This has been a long-standing grievance of insurance companies in the north, as the lack of access to this licensing process has impeded their ability to bring on new agents as quickly and efficiently as in other parts of the province.

Whereas prospective agents can walk into centres in Toronto, London or Ottawa, write the examinations and receive their results within a one-day period, applicants in northern Ontario must sometimes wait three months or more before getting even the simple authorization to write their exams. As you may well imagine, the resulting delays and inconvenience are a great source of frustration for would-be agents and the insurance companies looking to hire.

But there exists a simple solution to this northern Ontario dilemma, and I would encourage the minister opposite to give due consideration to a pilot initiative brought to my attention by the Thunder Bay Life managers. They have proposed a system to me where the initial authorization to write qualifying examinations is eliminated and replaced by an opportunity to write the examination locally upon request. I would point out that this proposal would not result in any additional cost or administrative burdens.

There is no reason for those of us in the north to be treated in this unfair and inequitable manner when the minister can so easily fix it himself. Minister, do the right thing. Help us create more jobs in the north.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): Mr Speaker, I rise today to bring to your attention this government's complete disregard for the people of northern Ontario. Specifically, I want to talk about the people of Chapleau. When norOntair makes its last flight tomorrow, the town of Chapleau will be completely without any form of reliable public transportation -- no buses, no trains, and now no planes.

The Minister of Northern Development and Mines clearly stated that communities will have air service after norOntair is forced out of business, and now, through his complete incompetence, the communities of Chapleau, Hornepayne and Gore Bay will be without air service starting April 1. This minister is not an effective advocate for the north. He should be called the minister for southern development and mines.

Bill Davis and Leo Bernier, both Tories, understood the difficult transportation problems that people in the north face every day. That is why they created the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. The Liberals also supported ONTC's goals and objectives, as did the New Democrats. All three governments have seen the need for norOntair, and now the Harris government, in its short-sighted quest for its tax break for the rich, is shutting down norOntair.

The minister made a half-hearted attempt at putting an interim deal together with Voyageur Airways to serve the community of Chapleau for a limited time, but this deal has fallen through, and tomorrow the people of Chapleau are without reliable public transportation. The people of Chapleau have been done a disservice by this government.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I rise in the House today to congratulate a remarkable young individual in my riding.

Tomorrow, Samantha Walker of Peterborough will be one of 12 young people from across the province to be presented with the distinguished Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award by Ontario's Lieutenant Governor.

The Ontario Junior Citizen of the Year award program is coordinated by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, with financial assistance being provided by Bell Canada.

The award was created to honour young Ontarians who have demonstrated an act of commitment to their communities, and I am proud to say that Samantha Walker has indeed demonstrated that commitment.

Samantha has assisted a young student from Korea to adjust to life in Peterborough, she has been active in local girl guides, she has organized a tulip-planting event on Remembrance Day and she has served as a community ambassador for visiting dignitaries such as the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Consul General of the Netherlands. She has participated in all these functions while still maintaining an A-plus average in school.

On behalf of the people of the Peterborough riding, I want to congratulate Samantha for receiving this distinguished award. She truly is a remarkable citizen of this province.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): One of the most effective ways of evaluating a government in any society is to examine the way it treats those who are vulnerable and require the help of others. In this regard, I urge the government today to redress the unfair way in which long-term-care resources have been allocated to seniors in the Niagara area.

The Niagara District Health Council has made representations to the Minister of Health which reveal that Niagara, despite having one of the highest per capita populations of seniors, ranks 32nd out of the 38 health regions in long-term-care funding. More disabled people wait for support services from the March of Dimes than those who are actually served by it.

Alzheimer patients, who critically depend on support services in order to cope in a more humane way with this devastating illness, continue to suffer from unacceptable delays in receiving respite care. Indeed, all 28 people in Ontario waiting for Alzheimer counselling services are in Niagara; 25% of those waiting for Alzheimer disease day programs in Ontario are also located in this region; and lastly, more than half of all Ontario families waiting for Alzheimer-related respite care reside here as well.

I urge the government to implement the plan, which has been put forth by the health council in an expeditious, responsible and effective manner, creatively targeting ways in which health care dollars can be saved and rerouted to help those who so desperately need care and who by any measure have been treated unfairly in the past.


Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): My statement is directed at the Minister of Community and Social Services.

On October 3, 1995, the minister said in answer to a question from our leader: "To the leader of the third party, there are many places where you can buy tuna for 69 cents. In fact, even if it's not priced at 69 cents, quite often you can make a deal to get it for 69 cents."

Five members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty decided to follow the minister's advice. They went to a Loblaw's store in downtown Toronto and tried to "make a deal" at the checkout. For their troubles, they were charged with trespassing.

The five go to court on Monday, April 1 of next month.

The minister, I understand, has been asked to be present and has been called as a witness. The defence will be that of "officially induced error," and the defence would obviously have their case enhanced if the minister would appear.

On March 22, 1996, a lawyer from the Attorney General's office representing the minister has indicated very clearly that they want the summons the minister has been issued to be withdrawn because he has no intention of going to court.

I think it's incumbent on the minister to not only say what he says here in the House but to go out and defend it.


Mr John L. Parker (York East): I rise to congratulate Marjorie Lewsey, winner of this year's borough of East York Agnes Macphail Award. Marjorie was presented with the award this past Sunday at a special ceremony attended by many of East York's most prominent citizens and the Honourable Marilyn Mushinski, Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

The Agnes Macphail Award honours the memory of the woman who, as the member for York East, served in this House as one of Ontario's first female MPPs. It is presented each year to an East York resident who has exemplified and continued Agnes Macphail's tradition of community leadership.

I am pleased to have served on the selection committee this year and to confirm that Marjorie Lewsey is a very fitting recipient of this year's award.

Marjorie's contribution to East York's proud tradition of volunteerism has spanned many years and many causes. She has served for 12 years on the East York Mayor's Committee for Multiculturalism and Race Relations. She was the first woman president of the Universal African Improvement Association, Toronto chapter. She has been honoured also for her outstanding contributions to her church and to the causes of children, seniors, ratepayer concerns, families in need of housing, health care, penal issues, Junior Achievement and the preservation of community history.

I endorse the words of one of her many nominators, who said: "Marjorie Lewsey has made East York and Metro Toronto and Canada a better place for all. She has always been a beacon for others to be guided by."



Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Today we have word that the OPSEU strike is nearing an end. While government members talk about popping champagne corks, I just wanted to reflect on what this strike was all about.

First and foremost, this strike was about workers trying to keep their jobs and trying to ensure there would be dignity for those whose jobs had to be lost. At some point in the next few weeks or months, the layoff notices are going to begin. While Tory members celebrate, as many as 27,000 people will learn they no longer have jobs. For many, these are not happy times in Ontario.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the men and women who had the courage to stand up to this government. It is never easy to say: "I know this is going to mean sacrifice. I know this is going to cost me thousands of dollars." But these workers also knew the difference between what is right and what is wrong, they knew the difference between what was fair and what was unfair, and they were willing to fight for it. They put their money where their mouths are.

Against great odds, the men and women of OPSEU stood up to this government for what was right. They deserve our congratulations, for they believe balance, fairness and justice is what Ontario should be about.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My statement today regards the minister without portfolio responsible for gutting the WCB.

We've witnessed in the last couple of days the minister arranging for backbench members to lob him setup questions on public meetings he's attended, and I want the government members to know they're fooling no one. Injured workers know that this minister and this government refuse to hold public meetings on their slashing and gutting of the WCB. They've been holding all their meetings in the background. The only thing they've been doing in public is when the minister absolutely couldn't avoid going. He's had the audacity to stand in his place and say that when he is at these meetings he's getting concerns expressed from injured workers about the size of the bureaucracy and talking about the administrative structure. What a lot of baloney.

I was with injured workers this morning out front of your sham conference where you're planning to look at how you'll dismantle the WCB by taking examples from around the world. Those injured workers care about you slashing benefits, removing legitimate injuries from the ability to claim for compensation, shutting down the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, slashing workplace health and safety training for workers. That's what injured workers are upset about. That's what they have to say to this government, not the sham of questions that we see here with this play-acting every day in the House. Injured workers will not take this lightly.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Time has expired.


Mrs Helen Johns (Huron): It is my pleasure to announce that the last International Plowing Match of the millennium will be held in Huron county in the town of Dashwood.

I would like to congratulate Jerry Theil of Zurich and members of the committee for their diligent efforts in ensuring Huron county was chosen for the 1999 match. Neil McGavin and the committee made an impressive presentation to the Ontario Plowmen's Association on February 12 of this year, which I was privileged to partake in. The Ontario Plowmen's Association accepted Huron's bid to act as the host of the 1999 International Plowing Match late the same afternoon at the annual convention.

The residents and organizations of Huron county are backing this initiative 100%. The success of Huron's matches in 1966 and 1978 speaks for itself.

The generosity of Earl and Michael Becker and surrounding neighbours should also be recognized for graciously allowing the use of their land and farms as the site of the 1999 International Plowing Match, which covers nearly 2,000 acres. The match will be a community effort involving some 30 townships and municipalities working together on preparations over the next three years.

Plowing matches have drawn as many as 150,000 people. Therefore, it will be an economic spinoff for our entire area. I welcome you all to come and be visitors to the International Plowing Match.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have two former members in the east gallery. I'd like to introduce Mr Bud Gregory, a former member for Mississauga East, and Mr John Turner of Peterborough, a former Speaker. Welcome.



Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): On March 6, I announced on behalf of this government a strategy to help school boards bring education spending under control and to achieve savings of $400 million for 1996-97. The $400-million savings represents 3% of the $14 billion spent on education in Ontario. It is clear that we must maintain and improve quality programming and at the same time find out-of-classroom savings in order to make our education system of real value to the people of Ontario.

The future of Ontario's students will be seriously threatened if we continue to spend beyond our means. Ontario spends close to $1 billion, or more than $500 per child, above the average of the other provinces. Our government is committed to developing an education system that is based on excellence in student achievement as well as accountability to, and affordability for, all Ontario taxpayers.

Over the past few months I have met with a number of parents, students and taxpayers, as well as trustees, school board officials and teachers, and have received suggestions on how to accomplish the necessary savings in education spending. Through these discussions, I have heard three clear messages: First, people believe that education savings can be achieved and that it is important for Ontario to bring its spending in line with other provinces; second, Ontario taxpayers believe there must be an opportunity to develop solutions locally; third, they emphasize that while it is urgent to address these matters, we must allow time to ensure we maintain quality programming for our students.

Today I am introducing into the House the Education Amendment Act. This act will allow school boards to implement measures to achieve savings. The legislation includes amendments to the Education Act to:

Restore junior kindergarten as a local option by removing the mandatory requirement that school boards operate junior kindergarten;

Provide flexibility to school boards with respect to adult education by enabling school boards to direct certain adult pupils to continuing education credit courses;

Promote equitable impacts throughout the system by enabling negative grant boards to contribute their share of the savings;

Increase cooperation with other local boards and other public agencies by authorizing school boards to enter into cooperative agreements with other boards, public sector agencies and other organizations as prescribed by regulation, and require school boards to report annually on cooperative initiatives taken or explored to improve efficiency;

Provide flexibility to school boards by removing references to the number of sick days to which teachers are entitled, effective September 1, 1998.

The decisions for realizing the savings through the changes in the Education Amendment Act as well as other measures we announced on March 6 are based on three goals: Classroom funding should be protected, opportunities should be provided for local decision-making and locally negotiated solutions, and local taxes should not be increased.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): You know you are hurting kids.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for Oriole is out of order.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Our responsibility as leaders of the education sector is to create an education system that is excellent and affordable. We must ensure that overspending, and the resulting burden of debt, does not deny our children the quality education they need or the future opportunities they deserve. With the introduction of this bill, we are ensuring that we are fulfilling these responsibilities for the people of Ontario.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): I truly marvel at the capacity of communiqués like this. There must be someone in your office who has participated in some fantasyland Republican wordsmith communication program and says: "Listen, the way you talk is, you don't walk straight; you just continue to promote myths and you continue to say things. You know what? People are kind of stupid, I suppose, and they'll believe it." Well, the people of Ontario aren't stupid.

What they're trying to do here, ladies and gentlemen, is provide themselves with the opportunity to take resources away from education. In the preamble, the minister says that this is to "find out-of-classroom savings"; three times in this communiqué. No acknowledgement that JK is classroom, that adult education is classroom, both of which -- one for an option and the other totally cut.

In estimates, the minister and the deputy minister acknowledged, and my colleague the member for Algoma I think would concur, that this continual reference to the expenses in line with other provinces was a misnomer, that it was apples compared to oranges. It is not a fair comparison. The minister continually presents this as if it were fact.

The fact is that 41% of the students in Canada come from Ontario. How much does Ontario spend? Forty-two per cent of those dollars. Is this out of whack? I suggest to you not, let alone the uniqueness of Ontario and the demographics of Ontario and who makes up Ontario. Comparing them to other provinces is not the standard. Minister, you said you wanted to be the best in the world and you compare yourselves to the other provinces. We're behind five other areas -- BC, Manitoba, Quebec, Northwest Territories. Is that our standard, right in the middle of the pack? Mediocrity.

"First, people believe that education savings can be achieved...." Of course they can be achieved when they're under duress, and that's what the school boards are saying.

You're saying local "taxpayers believe there must be an opportunity to develop solutions locally." Of course they have local solutions, because they've been forced to cut back. Look at your own Peel board. You've pitted the rural areas against the urban areas for busing. You've pitted those parents of children with special needs against the regular classes in terms of transportation. This is a divisiveness that's going on because of the cuts that you talk about.

The legislation includes amendments to the Education Act which enable you to make cuts. There is nothing positive. There is nothing creative. There is nothing supportive. Your interpretation of what you hear, I would suggest, is selective hearing at best. "Classroom funding should be protected" -- what a joke. Speak to the children and look at the school boards that have to drop junior kindergarten at this particular stage.

You talk about the local option. You talk about opportunities locally. Local option means no option for some school boards.

"Local taxes should not" -- you did not say "will not"; you said "should not" -- be increased. They will be increased in certain areas. What you've just done and sent out to the boards, and I have a copy of this with me today, are the 1996 provincial increases in the mill rate. Why is that? So that more money can be grabbed from the local tax base in order to fund the money that the minister is looking to take out of the system totally. That money is going out of the system totally.

I'd like to pass on to my colleague the member for Oakwood an example of some of the cuts. But isn't it surprising how the pattern of create a crisis, bankrupt the system, find a scapegoat and privatize continues to always emerge?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): It's hypocritical for the minister to say that this is not going to cut classroom. Tomorrow, 428 educational workers in Metro are going to get their pink slips from this minister: 108 elementary teachers, 41 secondary teachers. Fifty-three elementary teachers are going to have a pink slip as a result of the elimination of industrial arts, family studies and instrumental music. There are going to be 104 instructors in international languages who are going to get their pink slips because of your cuts. Also, there are going to be 47 adult education teachers who are going to get their pink slips tomorrow. And you have the gall to say this doesn't affect students, it doesn't affect education?

Minister, go into a classroom for one day, spend one day in a classroom and come back and tell us if your cuts are not affecting teachers in this province. I challenge you to go to that classroom anywhere in Ontario for one day, Mr Snobelen.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): In response to the Minister of Education and Training's statement on the legislation he's introducing today, I think there are a couple of significant things masked in the edubaffle that he has engaged in. I wonder if there is anyone who really understands in this House what the statement means, "to promote equitable impacts throughout the system by enabling negative grant boards to contribute their share of the savings." What it really means is that the Toronto Board of Education and the Ottawa Board of Education, the ratepayers in those jurisdictions are going to pay property taxes which will then be transferred to the treasury of this province. That's what it means.

The minister goes on to try to maintain the myth that he is not adversely affecting classroom education with his $400-million demand in cuts for school boards to implement this year, which works out to $1 billion annualized. He ignores the fact, in saying that he is giving local options to boards on things like junior kindergarten and adult education funding issues, that by cutting the $400 million and telling them that they have a local option, what he is really saying to them is, "This is where you've got to find your saving."

This means that the York separate board will probably decide not to have junior kindergarten any more. We're not just talking about boards that hadn't had it before, the small 20% that hadn't established junior kindergarten programs; we're moving backwards, thanks to this government and this minister. He can't pretend that junior kindergarten does not take place within the walls of a classroom. This is classroom education, and you're tearing it apart.

The minister ignores the fact that we are seeing enormous numbers of layoffs being announced by boards, thanks to his demands for cuts. This is the first time we've seen a situation where we've had thousands of layoff notices being given to teachers and other support staff across the province by boards as a direct result of a decision by a government to cut, and yet he still tries to maintain he's not adversely affecting classroom education.

The Peel Board of Education has issued 519 layoff notices. A number of other boards, five boards together, over 4,500 layoff notices. East Parry Sound Board of Education has given layoff notices to one third of its staff -- one third.

The minister likes to pretend that somehow laying off teachers is not going to hurt classroom education. He can't play it that way. It doesn't work.

It's interesting that for the first time you have a government here that is trying to argue that they aren't hurting classroom education when they are determined not just to take the money out that the minister has announced but actually double that if they can do it, and he's quite happy about the fact that the annualized figure is much higher than the $400 million. On top of that, he now is bringing in legislation that will actually legislate contributions from boards that aren't dependent on its grants, to claw back moneys for the provincial treasury; not a negotiated agreement with the boards, but a legislative tool that is going to be used by this government to not only hurt classroom education but actually get a share of the property tax by legislation.

The minister also tries to maintain the myth that this jurisdiction spends far more than other jurisdictions in Canada for education on a per capita basis. In fact, the minister had to agree in estimates debate that the figures he was using were incorrect and that the province of Ontario's expenditures are very much in line with its neighbours. We're about the same as Quebec and Manitoba. We're in the middle of the pack when compared to the rest of the jurisdictions in Canada.

Why is the government taking this approach? Why will he not live up to the commitment they made that they would not hurt classroom education? It's very simple. Because they want to give a tax cut to their friends, and that's the only reason. They say they're protecting children in the future, but what they're doing is they're hurting children today.



Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker: The Minister of Health earlier today issued a press release announcing a reinvestment in community-based care, an announcement that quite frankly we welcome. We assume that the Minister of Health, since he's in his place today, will be making an announcement during ministerial statements, because when he was in opposition he was very critical and claimed that we were showing contempt for the House when we made statements outside the House. We just assumed that he didn't have a double standard, one for when he was in opposition and one for when he's in government.

What I ask you to think about, Mr Speaker, is whether or not it's appropriate for the Minister of Health to make an important public policy statement outside the assembly and show his utter contempt for those of us in this assembly.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Same point of privilege?

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Actually, Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I'd like to ask for unanimous consent so that we can have an opportunity, myself as health critic and the health critic for the third party, to be able to respond to this significant statement.

Interjections: Agreed.

The Speaker: Agreed? I hear a no.


The Speaker: You asked for unanimous consent. Do you have unanimous consent?

Mrs Caplan: Why does the health minister not want us to talk about his statement? What does he have to hide on this when it's supposed to be good news?

The Speaker: The member asked for unanimous consent. Do we have unanimous consent?


Mrs Caplan: Why won't they permit us to respond to the statement that the Minister of Health made? That's a reasonable request.


The Speaker: Order. Nothing out of order.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I would ask the indulgence of the members as I make some remarks today about the retirement of one of the officers of the House.

As you all know, Thomas Stelling is retiring. Thomas has held this job, one of the oldest in Parliament's history, for almost 20 years, starting with the 30th Parliament in 1976. Thomas has served as Sergeant at Arms to this his 36th Parliament.

Thomas has a love of tradition and respects the dignity of Parliament. When he is called upon to do his job in the chamber, Thomas approaches members and staff alike quietly and discreetly, ensuring appropriate chamber decorum. Whenever the need has arisen to escort a member from the chamber, the Sergeant at Arms has done so with tact and respect, never once drawing his sword. He has never allowed anyone to try to touch the mace, even in jest, although on occasion members have been known to try to hide his tricorn hat.

Always professional, Thomas has maintained his sense of humour during his time as Sergeant at Arms and I'm sure all members of the House join with me in wishing Thomas all the best in his retirement.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to make a few remarks about Mr Stelling.

The Speaker: Unanimous consent for each member? Agreed.

Hon Mr Eves: Not only has he never drawn his sword, apparently he's getting a little soft in his old age because he doesn't even bother to carry his sword any longer as I notice.

I rise today to pay tribute to Thomas Stelling, who has been a fixture in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for more than three decades. He began his career in this building in 1964 at the tender age of 17 as a messenger. He has also served as an attendant, then page master, before being appointed to the Sergeant at Arms post in 1976. Notably at the time, he was the youngest Sergeant at Arms in the Commonwealth, quite an achievement for an individual who then was only 30 years of age. It appears that sergeants fare far better than members in this place; the first Sergeant at Arms in Ontario served for 66 years. So I am, quite frankly, surprised at Tom's early retirement.

Few members will witness as many days in this Legislature or experience as many changes to parliamentary procedure as Tom has over his 20 years of distinguished service as Sergeant at Arms. Even the position itself has changed during Thomas's tenure. What at one time was purely a ceremonial role has evolved into an office with significant responsibility for the daily workings of the Legislative precinct.

The technological age has had its influence on Tom's position as well. Thomas proudly boasts of how he has confiscated from this chamber quite a variety and collection of electronic devices: cell phones, pagers and even personal computers.

In the 15 years I have known the Sergeant at Arms, he has maintained a consistent balance of professionalism and good humour, from leading seminars for new members in chamber protocol to directing the officers of the House. Tom has demonstrated a great respect for all things parliamentary. The contribution Thomas Stelling has made, not only to the Ontario Legislature but indeed to the people of Ontario, is one of which he can be very proud and one that has not gone unnoticed on all sides of the House.

I speak for all my colleagues when I say that Thomas's presence here will indeed be missed. Both on a personal level and on behalf of the government caucus, I extend sincere appreciation and congratulations to him on this momentous occasion. To Thomas, his wife, Mary Anne, and their family, very best wishes for good health and much happiness in all their future endeavours.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, I would like to join with you and with the government House leader and the spokesperson for the NDP in paying tribute to Thomas Stelling on his many long years of service to the Legislative Assembly and of course to the people of the province as a whole.

What some of the members who weren't here then do not realize is that when Tom first came to the Legislature and sat in his seat, his hair was jet black. You will notice that today, as a result of the trials and tribulations through which we have put him over the years, he has become more mature in his image. I think that is a nice way of putting it.

Tom is also a good example for all of us, I suppose, and for people throughout our province of an individual who can start at one particular level, a very junior level, and work his way up through the system to one of the highest jobs -- I was going to say the highest, but people at the clerks' table were grimacing as I said that -- one of the highest positions we could have in the Legislative Assembly in terms of the officers of the Assembly.

Tom we have always known as an extremely friendly individual. We think of the title Sergeant at Arms as a person who is to be stern, a person who is to be disciplined and rigid -- words of that nature. Tom, of course, is a very pleasant individual who, when he is escorting members from the assembly when called upon to do so by the Speaker, does so with a smile on his face and, as the Speaker has suitably noted, with a kind of dignity of which we are all proud.

He has never shown favouritism as an officer of the assembly. It is important that individuals who are at the table and those who are serving us in the capacity of Sergeant at Arms show no favouritism. Thomas Stelling has shown no favouritism over the years, but has shown friendliness to all of us in this particular capacity, even when people have, I'm told, taken the opportunity to hide his three-cornered hat in various places and endeavoured to touch the mace, which is the ultimate of the sins that those of us in the assembly can commit. Tom has, again with grace and good humour, responded to that in appropriate fashion.

Beginning at the age of 17 is indeed an early age. He has set some records, as the Speaker and the House leader of the government have pointed out appropriately, not only in Canada and of course in Ontario but throughout the Commonwealth. Tom all of us know, and you have a former Speaker of the assembly here and former members of the assembly in the gallery who will be joining you later at a reception in your honour. All of them remember you fondly, as we all will.

I happen to know, and this is perhaps a secret which I should not let out, that you and those close to you enjoy Niagara wine very much. We know the reason you may need some of that Niagara wine at the end of the day, but we hope you can enjoy your retirement and enjoy those trips to the Niagara Peninsula, to the various wineries and the other pursuits that I know you will enjoy.

You will remember us well, I'm sure, and fondly. We remember you fondly. The place will be somewhat different without you and your smiling face looking at us.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I want to join my colleagues on all sides of the House in wishing Tom well in the future. Over the years I've known Tom Stelling, I've had the opportunity to have sort of a happy, friendly banter going on with him from time to time, usually about his attire. I've always suggested that it would be far more relaxing for everyone if he could just come in a business suit, but he always pointed out to me that his predecessor used to wear a kilt, so in actual fact he's been dressing down all these years.

It's been mentioned that of course he walks with a sword -- I don't know how he's going to balance now that he doesn't have that on his side -- and that he should not ever draw the sword. There's a superstition, I understand, that if you do take the sword out of the scabbard it has to draw blood. I know he came close to doing that once with the former member for Sudbury East, when he had to try to persuade him to leave one very late evening after a very raucous debate in the Legislature.

He also had the opportunity once to escort me from the House, on one occasion when I think it was Vince Kerrio, the member for Niagara Falls, who was the Minister of Natural Resources and at that time I accused him of lying -- asleep at night.

It has also been mentioned that one of his major roles, of course, is to carry the mace and to ensure that the mace is placed in the proper place, is not touched and is not in any way harmed, because it's a symbol of the freedom of this place. I do remember one occasion, though, where I think a deranged young man charged on to the floor of the House and tried to grab the mace, and Tom was very quick to jump up and run after him and was helped by the security people in this place. I should point out to members who may not know that this deranged young man was not a member of the House.

It's also been talked about his hat. I've always been very concerned about this, because on one occasion many years ago Tom told me that he had been informed that wearing that kind of hat on a regular basis actually causes cancer. I hope the grey hair is not an indication of some kind of radiation treatment that you've had to take.

Tom, on a serious note, has been very fair to all of us in the House, no matter what side of the House we were on, has been very helpful to individual members and has carried out his duties in a very responsible and friendly manner to all members of the House over the years.

I've come to know Tom and to appreciate him as a very conscientious member of the staff of this place and someone who really cares about this place. He is responsible for decorum, of course, to enforce the rulings of the Speaker, and I would say that I am concerned that the decorum of the place, the atmosphere of this place has changed over the years. I think if Tom were to express his own opinion even privately, he might concur with that. The atmosphere of this assembly is not what I think it could be, should be or has been in times past, and I'm not casting any blame on anyone there for that.

Having said that, all of us join together in this House in wishing Tom and his family well in his retirement. We look forward to hearing from you from time to time and knowing that you will be caring about this place and what is happening here in your retirement. So all the best on behalf of all of us.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): If I'm permitted, Mr Speaker, just a quick note and also good wishes to Tom Stelling, whom I have come to know over 11 years and respect him tremendously. I know too that the test of time and the test of a job at times are very challenging to the Sergeant at Arms. I have never been ejected from the House except for that one encounter, and I have come to know Tom Stelling even better for the 18 hours that we spent together very intimately, professionally. I just want to say the mannerism of this gentleman is something that we all can exemplify as an individual and a good person to work with.

We will miss you. We will miss you very much. I knew this man was a good man because he enjoyed a good Jamaican cigar from time to time and oftentimes when I speak to him his eyes are lit up whenever I'm travelling and able to bring back a cigar for him.

I'm going to miss Tom Stelling very much. His professionalism is something that I admire and I hope many of us and those who watch you across the province will realize the kind of individual you are.

I want to wish you the best in your next adventures of professional life.

The Speaker: I want to thank all members for their kind and well-deserved remarks.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): I have one other member in the east gallery I'd like to introduce. It's Jack Johnson, and his wife Marie. I believe the riding was Wellington-Dufferin-Peel. Welcome to the House.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Premier. Premier, I'm sure that thousands of Ontarians were as shocked as I was today to learn that as many as 40 Ontario communities lack the proper filtration equipment necessary to stop the potentially deadly parasite that has contaminated Collingwood's water supply. I wonder if you would tell us today whether or not your government has taken action to inform the residents of those 40 communities that they are potentially at risk, and if that has not taken place, will you undertake to do so immediately.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The two ministers who would be involved I guess are the Minister of Environment and Energy and the Minister of Health. The Minister of Environment's not here today. I think the Minister of Health is prepared to respond.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): On behalf of the government, particularly with the Collingwood situation, which is an area of the province, as members know, that I represent, we've made a commitment on behalf of the government that public safety is paramount in all of these cases. I signed an order just two days ago to ensure that cryptosporidium, the parasite itself, and the disease it causes is now a reportable disease, along the same line as sexually transmitted diseases and other diseases. That should ensure that in the future, when the first sign of an outbreak of this parasite occurs, the public health authorities are immediately notified as per the new law.

I think that's some help. Unfortunately, no one thought to do that until the outbreak in Collingwood. I would like to stress we have not found the parasite in any of the many water samples that have been done, so at this point it is suspected that that parasite got into the water supply, but it is not confirmed at this point.

Mrs McLeod: This is a serious issue, and it's a serious issue not only for the people of Collingwood who have been infected with the parasite, it is now a serious issue for people in at least 39 other communities who don't know whether they're at risk. That's the focus of my question, I say to the Premier and to the minister, and I ask in the interests of the health of those people, Minister, that you address my question very directly.

It's a Ministry of Environment spokesman who has said that there are 40 other communities that do not have the filtration equipment necessary to protect the residents against this parasite. Clearly, the Ministry of Environment must know where those communities are, which ones are at risk in order to be able to make that kind of a statement.

We know how serious the problem in Collingwood is, with 100 people sick, with about 20% of the town's population infected, and I say to you in all seriousness it's not enough to stand up today and tell us that you have now acted to make it a reportable disease. We're concerned to make sure that no other community is going to have to learn after the fact that their drinking water is not safe.


I remind you of the last time there were some questions about the safety of Ontario's drinking water and the now Premier, then leader of the opposition said, "They're entitled to know." Minister, I believe Mike Harris was right in that; people do have a right to know. You have a responsibility and your government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of people in those communities. Will you do so today?

Hon Mr Wilson: The Collingwood case illustrates how difficult it is to find out the cause in about a dozen people who are confirmed sick at this time, therefore we wouldn't want to unnecessarily alarm 40 other communities. You will also note from the engineering reports that filtration does not necessarily screen out this particular parasite.

This government would fully agree, in the name of public safety, that people have a right to know when we have something to tell them. We're going to have to wait until there's a report from the local health officials tomorrow. We'll have a better understanding, probably, at this time tomorrow, as to what actions the government will be called upon, in the name of public safety for the people of Collingwood and for other communities -- certainly, the advice we expect to receive from our medical officers of health tomorrow will help to guide the government and the Minister of Environment as to what might have to be done for the other 39 communities in the province.

Mrs McLeod: It's important that I understand exactly what commitment the minister has just made because I think it is important to the people in those communities and because I want to serve as a vehicle for asking for reassurance, not to be alarmist.

As I understand it, the minister has said they are going to be meeting, that they are going to make a decision about not only how to advise people in those 39 communities -- I assume it's 39 and that Collingwood is one of the 40 -- that they are going to make a decision as to how to advise them that they are potentially at risk, and furthermore, what advice to give them to deal with a potential problem in the short term. I'm rephrasing because I want to be sure of the commitment. I think this is a reasonable commitment to ask of you.

We know that some short-term solutions have been provided or are being worked on for the people of Collingwood, including boiling their water. I think it is reasonable to suggest that is a short-term solution and that the government is also obligated to look at ways of making sure that people in Ontario don't have to boil their water to make sure it's safe.

I'm asking not just with concern for the safety of the people in Collingwood, but for all the communities that are potentially affected by this. Will you give us your assurance that those people will be advised that they are in communities potentially at risk? Will you give us an assurance that they will be given advice immediately as to how to deal with the problem in the short term, and will you further give us an assurance that your government -- you, the Premier and the Minister of Environment -- are taking immediate action to look at what long-term solutions you have for those 40 communities where your own officials say the residents could be at risk? Give us an assurance, Minister, and I ask this in all seriousness, that the safety of Ontario citizens and their health will not be at risk because there are not dollars being made available for the filtration that is needed.

Hon Mr Wilson: I very much appreciate the honourable member's question. The importance of making cryptosporidium a reportable disease, a reportable parasite, is that operating at arm's length from the ministry are our medical officers of health. If there is any risk in other communities, they are required under the law now to notify those communities, as would be done with any outbreak of any public health disease. They operate at arm's length from the politicians and from the government of the day and they would do that regardless of whether your party was in office or our party was in office.

They met yesterday. They were fully instructed by the chief medical officer of health how to handle this situation. I can give you the assurance on their behalf that they will do their jobs, and if we find in the report tomorrow that there is potential risk for other communities, people will be notified. Public safety is paramount and the government will take whatever action is required to protect the safety of the public.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): New question.

Mrs McLeod: I had intended to move to another issue today but I'm a little bit concerned about --

The Speaker: Who's your question to?

Mrs McLeod: -- the answer that the Minister of Health has just given and I'm going to direct my second question to him. I think, Minister, what I was asking for was reasonable, and again I've tried to do it in a way which is reassuring and not alarmist.

The Ministry of Environment and Energy spokesman has said that there are 40 communities that do not have the water filtration plants that are necessary to protect the drinking water of those residents and ensure that they are not at risk from the parasite which has infested the people in Collingwood. That's a statement of fact made by a government spokesman, Minister.

I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Environment is not here today to be able to respond directly on behalf of her ministry, but surely this is an issue of enough concern to the members of the government that you have all given some thought to how to deal with what is clearly going to be a source of alarm for residents in all communities of Ontario which may be one of the 40 communities that do not have adequate water filtration systems.

I suggest to you today that the greatest alarm of all is going to be caused when people understand that their water supply could be infected. You will have every resident of Ontario boiling their water if you are not prepared to acknowledge openly what communities are affected and to provide the advice immediately to people.

Minister, tell me, why would you hesitate for one moment to give us the assurance that by tomorrow you will have not only the names of the communities made public, because you have that information now, but that the only reason for delay is because you want to add to that the advice for short-term solutions?

Hon Mr Wilson: I'm a little perplexed by the question. I've given the assurance, in the name of public safety, that this government will do everything that's required. Let's be very clear, though, because Collingwood is very sensitive about this issue. It's a four-season tourist destination. We have no scientific evidence, in spite of constant testing by the local medical officer of health and the local Ministry of Environment and Energy officials, no conclusive evidence that this parasite is in the water supply, that that's the cause of the dozen or so people's illness in the community. It's not backed up by any scientific evidence, and we're waiting for that. They've done over 20 tests in Collingwood and they've never found the parasite. Those tests were sent to independent labs.

I know from talking to the mayor yesterday and each day that he would not want anyone in this House to unnecessarily scare the people of Collingwood or other communities. We're waiting for the scientific guidance from the health officials and we'll take whatever advice they recommend, but it's a little early to jump to all the conclusions that either the media have jumped to or that you're jumping to in your question.

Mrs McLeod: With all due respect, this is not a question about how we ensure that tourists will not be deterred from coming to Ontario. This is a question about how we provide Ontario residents with an assurance that their drinking water is safe or, if in fact there is any question about the safety of their drinking water, that they are given the knowledge necessary to protect themselves before there can be some long-term solutions to the problem.

Minister, all you have said to me today is that your ministry will take responsible action to deal with any outbreaks of the parasite and then we'll look at the scientific understanding of whether or not the parasite is the cause of the problem. That's not good enough. You have a Ministry of Environment spokesperson saying 40 communities are potentially at risk from a parasite which is already causing illness in Collingwood. We surely don't have to wait until people get sick before information that could help to protect the public is made public.

Minister, tell me, why would you withhold knowledge, the simple knowledge of which communities are affected, when that knowledge could at least allow the residents of the communities to take action to protect their own health?

Hon Mr Wilson: We're not withholding anything. I'm telling everybody exactly what's happening, and that is, we're waiting for some evidence. I don't have the answer to what are the 40 communities that don't have filtration systems right now. That would be a matter of public record, and I'm sure the Minister of Environment and Energy, if she were here, would be able to provide you with that information.

I would remind all members of the Legislature of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which says, "Despite any other provision of this act, a head shall, as soon as practicable, disclose any record to the public or persons affected if the head has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that it is in the public interest to do so and that the record reveals a grave environmental, health or safety hazard to the public."


Not only do our medical officers of health have an obligation, at arm's length from government, to inform the public and a group of people who may be at risk, but also the government and all members here are bound by the privacy and information act to ensure that if we have any records, we will disclose those to those communities that may be at risk. But I'm trying to tell you that we don't have those records right now, in terms of exactly what happened in Collingwood and what the solutions are. As soon as we have that, it will all be very, very public.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mrs McLeod: It's question number 6 on this same issue. When this happened to Collingwood, all of us were concerned about what happened to the people in Collingwood. I'm sure there was not a person in Ontario who didn't say: "I wonder if the same thing could happen to our drinking water. I wonder if the drinking water in my community is safe."

Today, we have the Ministry of Environment spokesperson, a spokesperson for the ministry and the government responsible for ensuring the environmental safety and therefore the safety of drinking water in this province, saying indeed there are 40 communities which are potentially at risk. This isn't something we've pulled out of the sky.

There is a need to provide some information, if not reassurance. It's a question of withholding records. Minister, the Ministry of Environment must have the record. If they don't have the record of the communities that don't have the water filtration equipment, they wouldn't have made the statements they did today. So you must know who's affected, you must be deciding what you're going to do.

Since we cannot get a commitment from you today, Minister, I have to wonder what it is you're talking about in the back rooms today. I have to wonder whether you're really worried about providing advice and taking action to protect the health of these citizens. I honestly don't know why you find this a laughing matter at this point, as the Minister of Health. I have to wonder if you are more concerned about protecting your tax cut from the kind of expenditures you are going to be facing if you acknowledge that there are 40 communities that need some capital money to be able to provide safe drinking water for their residents. I say this should be about the health of Ontario residents and not about protecting your budget line from unexpected expenditures.

Minister, if you're not prepared to take action, at least make a commitment that you will give the Ontario public the information they need so they can take steps to protect themselves.

Hon Mr Wilson: The honourable member is correct. Perhaps I could be clearer: I'm telling you today that I don't have the list of the communities that don't have filters on their water plants; however, those municipalities know whether they have filters on their plants, the local medical officers of health know whether they have filters. We will provide you with the list just as soon as I have it. We've asked for it, but we don't have it. As soon as it's available, we'll provide it.

There really isn't much more to this. Tomorrow at this time, I hope we have a more conclusive report from the Collingwood situation. The government's eager to act on behalf of the public interest and to protect public safety, and that is our firm commitment.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Premier. While you've been out of the House holding secret meetings with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Premier, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General himself have been unsuccessfully trying to defend the inappropriate comments your Solicitor General has made.

On Monday in the House, when I questioned you about this matter, you stated in your response, "I'm not familiar with what the Solicitor General has said or not said," and you seemed equally unaware of the process of the police complaints commission.

It's important for us all to recognize that the police complaints commission is investigating any complaints that arose out of the issue that happened here on March 18, and that it will report to the commissioner of the OPP, who reports directly to the Solicitor General.

Let me also make it clear to you, Mr Premier, that we are not demanding the Solicitor General's resignation because of what happened on March 18, although as is any minister in your government or any other government, he is obviously ultimately responsible for whatever happens by those who are accountable to him while he is minister.

Let me just be very clear. What we are talking about is that the Solicitor General knew there were complaints pending in front of the police complaints commission. He knew those complaints were there. He didn't know what they were, and we accept that he didn't know what they were. Despite that, he has said publicly to the press that he first of all met with senior OPP officials, knowing that there was a complaint; he viewed confidential OPP videotapes; he commented on what he saw in those tapes; he concluded that the police gave the picketers fair warning. He blamed not OPSEU but other organizations such as the Coalition against Poverty for what happened here on March 18.

Mr Premier, do you not agree that the Solicitor General's comments could prejudice the investigation of the police complaints commission, and is it inappropriate for the Solicitor General to view and comment on confidential OPP videotapes that may be the subject of complaints and investigations before the police complaints commission?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): No, I do not agree with the premise put forward by the member, nor do I agree with the preamble that indicated this hasn't been satisfactorily answered by the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and the House leader for our party.

Mrs Boyd: Mr Premier, the Solicitor General's comments were clearly inappropriate and may prejudice the complaints that come before the police complaints commission. They may call into disrepute the administration of justice in this province.

You, as Premier, must show some leadership and take some responsibility as the head of the government. It's extremely important that when we set up procedures that ensure due process is followed, that a politician is not able to interfere in any way, especially a Solicitor General, who is the chief police officer in the province. An inference can constitute a discussion of evidence, a discussion of possibilities in such cases. It is important for all of us to understand that the findings of a judge or anyone acting as a judge in a tribunal ought not to be subject to comments made by elected people, because that could infer political interference.

While in opposition you said: "There are guidelines governing conflict and there is the rule of law. Then there are codes of conduct of which we are talking about in these cases -- the rule of law and the codes of conduct, not conflict for personal gain." That was in Hansard on June 17, 1991. As recently as yesterday, going into the cabinet, you told the press, "They all have to answer to me on their conduct and on their behaviour every day."

I would suggest to you, Mr Premier, that the only way to restore faith in the administration of justice in this province, and indeed in your ability to protect the administration of justice in this province, is to request the resignation of your Solicitor General. Will you do so?

Hon Mr Harris: The short answer is no, because I've heard nothing that indicates it is warranted.

I want to go back to the first part of the question, which was all premised on the police complaints commission and where it reports. My information is that part VI of the Police Services Act, which deals with the police complaints commission -- number one, it is independent and it reports to the Attorney General.

Mrs Boyd: Our information from the police complaints commission itself is that when it has investigated this, it will report it back to the commissioner of the OPP, who is responsible for determining what punishment, if any, will be levied against anyone against whom complaints have been levied within the OPP, up to and including criminal charges. If we're wrong about that, we are certainly willing to stand corrected. We don't believe that's wrong; we have that information directly from the police complaints commission. It is different with the OPP than it is for municipal police forces.


I would suggest to you that your Solicitor General has crossed the line. These actions are inappropriate for a chief law officer in the province. In a legislative report looking into the conduct of a minister -- and this was in August 1994, page 115, the Legislative Assembly committee -- it clearly states:

"Ministers always wear the cloak of ministerial responsibility. There is no way that their actions, whether verbal or written, and whether in the member's position as an elected member of the Legislature or as a minister, can be considered by the recipient as other than actions by a minister, and thus could reasonably be considered as attempting to influence a decision...."

That comes from the conflict commissioner's report of 1993-94. It was quoted in that legislative committee.

It's very clear, as it was yesterday, as it has been all week, that this government has different standards for itself and different standards for anyone else who has ever formed a government in this province. I reiterate that since the Solicitor General's comments may have prejudiced the investigations before the police complaints commission, you have no other choice but to request that he resign, and you must do so quickly if you're going to uphold the integrity of the administration of justice in this province. Will you do so?

Hon Mr Harris: The minister has explained his remarks. The police complaints commission is independent, not associated with the Solicitor General. The House leader has called for a full public inquiry. With the greatest of respect I think you are almost alone, maybe with a few of your party members, in the view that you have.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): My question is also to the Premier and it's on the same issue. Premier, we want you to understand that the reason we are pursuing this important point is because we believe and we think it's becoming clearer and clearer, it seems, to everyone but the members of your government and yourself as Premier that your Solicitor General has shown contempt for the administration of justice, the same administration of justice that he is sworn to uphold. He has shown disrespect for crown law officials, he has shown disrespect for the former Attorney General, he has shown disrespect for Justice Galligan and he has shown disrespect for the judgement of your own Attorney General.

Under the controversy that surrounded this whole issue, he tried to take a cheap political shot and instead ended up shooting himself in the foot. Later, he apologized for that statement, but in making that statement he showed his real temperament and he showed that he is unable to carry out his duties understanding the responsibilities that he has. His contempt for the administration of justice in this province is clearly proof that he should not continue in this position.

You, Premier, have prided yourself in saying that you are a different kind of politician. The integrity of your ministers has got to be at the core of that. So I want to ask you, Premier, why is it that you have not asked for the resignation of the Solicitor General?

Hon Mr Harris: I think you've had the answer from the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, the House leader and from me on many occasions. I really actually want to review Hansard to review all the things you've said. We are a different kind of politician than you.

Mr Silipo: It's becoming clear that people are understanding more and more what Mike Harris meant when he said he was going to be a different kind of politician. It certainly had nothing to do with bringing greater integrity to this place.

The fact is that on Tuesday, March 19, in Hansard -- and read this, please, when you review Hansard -- the Solicitor General said, "At the police complaints commission, there are already, I understand, two complaints that are possibly filed; at least they've been filed with the police service and may be formally filed with the police complaints commission, and perhaps others will follow."

Knowing that these complaints had been filed, on Wednesday morning the Solicitor General then went on to say, referring to the picketers: "I think they were given fair warning. I think the tape indicates that they were given fair warning and that the picket lines broke down."

Premier, it's clear that his comments could prejudice the process on the very complaints that are being looked into. Your Solicitor General has indicated, from the confidential videotapes that he viewed, that the picketers had fair warning. Yet complaints that could be dealing with these very same issues are currently before the police complaints commission. I know you said earlier, Premier, that you believe the commission is independent, but surely you would not accept a statement from any minister with respect to a case that was before the courts, even though the judiciary is independent of the Attorney General, for example. So why is it that in this case you are accepting the behaviour of the Solicitor General when he has clearly interfered in a process of a quasi-judicial body that is investigating the very same complaints that he is commenting on? Why is it, Premier?

Hon Mr Harris: I think you have heard the opinion of the Attorney General and the House leader that any remarks that were made were not about any individual case. There is nothing I have seen or heard that indicates that there has been any prejudicial action, either for the police complaints commission or for the full public inquiry, which I believe will get to the bottom of all this.

Mr Silipo: Premier, I suggest you go back and take another look at this and think about it a bit more, because you cannot on the one hand simply sluff this off to the inquiry; this has got nothing to do with the inquiry. Secondly, Premier, I say to you, you cannot now put yourself in the position of being judge and jury and saying that the comments of the Solicitor General had nothing to do with the complaints; we don't know that, you don't know that, the Solicitor General doesn't know that. It's exactly the point as to why it is that ministers, particularly in this case the Solicitor General, should not be commenting on complaints or possible complaints that are going before the police complaints commission.

Premier, I say to you that, as head of the government, you have the ultimate responsibility in this matter. Again, I want to say to you that just as recently as yesterday, to quote back your own words, you said, referring to ministers: "They all have to answer to me on their conduct and their behaviour every day. I'm ultimately responsible for who's in a position of responsibility, and every minute of every day people have to be accountable."

Premier, is this the way in which you hold your ministers accountable, by accepting interference by ministers in complaints that are before quasi-judicial bodies? Is this the standard of conduct you are setting for your ministers in this government? Is this the integrity you talked about? Why have you not asked the Solicitor General to step aside until this matter is cleared up?

Hon Mr Harris: Because, other than the former Attorney General in your party and a few leadership candidates, nobody believes what you're saying has any bearing on the case.


Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. Mr Minister, you will recall that in the spring of 1993 I introduced a resolution in this House asking the former government, the NDP government, to eliminate the trade barriers between the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This resolution was endorsed unanimously by this House, 56 ayes and no nays. Finally, on December 24 of that year, 1993, the Ontario-Quebec agreement on public procurement and construction labour mobility was signed.

With the arrival of the PQ government, the rules were changed and Ontarians were again being cheated of having the right to work in the province of Quebec. Your government is supposed to be out there creating jobs. Your commitment was to create 725,000 jobs. Well, I'm trying to help your cause. I'm asking you, Mr Minister, what have you done lately to permit Ontarians to work in the province of Quebec? What has been your program? Have you met with the minister from Quebec? Have you promoted reciprocal services? What have you done lately?

Hon William Saunderson (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): To the member for Ottawa East, I'd like to respond that there have been two meetings which I have attended of interprovincial trade ministers; one was last November and one was about three weeks ago. In the course of our meetings, I had the opportunity to speak with the interprovincial trade minister from Quebec, and I have made it quite clear that we in Ontario want our citizens in eastern Ontario to have access to work in Quebec just as Quebec workers have access to work in Ontario. I made it very clear, and I think my message is no more than that.


Mr Grandmaître: Maybe I'll try my luck in French, Mr Speaker, because I couldn't get an answer from this minister. We have 4,000 Quebeckers crossing our Ontario bridges and working in the Ottawa-Carleton area on our construction sites every day, and it's happening in North Bay, it's happening all over the province of Ontario wherever there's an Ontario-Quebec border.

Mr Minister, I ask you, what have you done? I'm not asking you if you had meetings. What are the actions and when will you act to promote Ontarians working in Ontario?

Hon Mr Saunderson: To the member for Ottawa East, I would just like to say that, as you know, there is an agreement, and we're making sure that is adhered to. I'd mentioned earlier that we've had negotiations and talks, and as far as I'm concerned, we are being very well treated.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. Mr Solicitor General, in spite of all the questions that have been asked this week of you around this issue, even yesterday you continued to comment on the conclusions you have drawn from viewing confidential OPP tapes. In the scrum on your way into the cabinet room a week after your previous remarks that we've talked about a lot, you made comments, "I think I talked about warnings, but in terms of the incidents, the actions of the police and picketers," and yesterday after question period in the scrum you said, "I said the particular tapes that I watched, obviously there was warning given."

You're continuing to comment on this. Even though your behaviour has been called into question, you're continuing to find it impossible to keep your personal opinion out of the issue of an investigation that is before the police complaints commission.

You're the top police officer in the province and you've publicly voiced your conclusions about what happened on March 18, not only about the behaviour of the police but also about the behaviour of the picketers. You could very well have prejudiced due process in our justice system. When are you going to learn to hold your tongue? How much more damage are you going to do to the integrity of the administration of justice in the province? To restore integrity, you must do the honourable thing and step aside.

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I have full confidence in the independence of the police complaints commission, and I stand by what I've said in response to earlier questions.

Mrs Boyd: The Solicitor General can't have publicly personal views on matters that are questions before the judicial committee. We've talked about what the conflict commissioner said, that ministers always wear the cloak of ministerial responsibility, and every time you speak, you seem to think that you can divide yourself from your role as minister. You cannot. How can the public continue to have confidence in your ability to act in an impartial, fairminded and rational manner?

You have only one choice, Minister, to clear the air around this controversy and your integrity: Submit your resignation and step aside now.

Hon Mr Runciman: I think the public has confidence in the job I'm doing and the job this government is doing. It's just a small group of people across the aisle who have that opinion.


Mr Bert Johnson (Perth): My question today is for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, perhaps the best-looking minister in cabinet. I am aware your ministry is currently making preparations to move your main office from Toronto to Guelph. In these times of restraint, could the minister tell this House why such a move is taking place at this time?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I think the initial comments from my colleague from Perth come with age and grey hair.

The impact that the consolidation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will have in consolidating 10 different locations presently in the city of Guelph and in the city of Toronto into one location will promote more efficient operation, better service to the agrifood industry of the province of Ontario, reduced administration costs and reduced business travel. That's what this government is oriented towards, reducing the cost of government to the taxpayers, and this is part of that commitment.

Mr Bert Johnson: As a supplementary, I wanted to say that while a great many of the constituents in the riding of Perth continue to express their support for this government's agenda, some have expressed concerns that the move to Guelph could mean a reduction in the status and importance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Can the minister please explain what impact this move will have on the future services of the agricultural community of Ontario?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: The consolidation of all administration will create a centre of excellence in the city of Guelph which is well known to all members here because the University of Guelph is indeed a centre of excellence where education, where research and development in the agrifood sector will occur.

I want to remind you and all members in this House that the growth industry is the agrifood industry. The growth industry in this province, where jobs will be created, comes from the agrifood sector and the centre of excellence which will consolidate all of the agrifood sector into the centre of excellence and will serve the province well.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Order. The member for Essex South is out of order.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a question for the Minister of Health. As you already know, there are over 11,000 psychiatric outpatients who rely on prescription medication just to remain stable. On June 1, your ministry will impose a $2 user fee for each prescription. Did you take into account the consequences first? This user fee is expected to cause an incredible amount of human misery and pain. Second, the caregivers, some who are in the public gallery today, testified at an earlier press conference that they are gravely concerned about their own safety since patients without medication become disoriented and unpredictably violent.

I want to ask the minister if he is prepared to sacrifice the safety of the caregivers, doctors, nurses, police, the general public for a fistful of dollars that he is trying to collect from ex-psychiatric patients who just don't have the money to pay?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question of the honourable member and I will remind him that my colleague the Honourable Al Leach, the member for St George-St David, has also been very active in representing his constituents. He has a large population in the south end of his riding where patients take methadone on a daily basis. We don't expect those patients to pay the $2 fee and we're working on the program. It looks like the program will likely be implemented on July 1, because of the public service strike, and probably not June 1.

I should say that the other nine provinces that have copayments on drugs don't have the flexibility in their laws that we already have built into the law that was passed by this Legislature, which is to waive the $2 fee. On Monday of this week, I'll be meeting with five other health ministers to see if they have further advice on how they're going about modifying their programs. The $2 fee is the lowest in Canada. If you're in Saskatchewan, your fee is $700 every six months for the drug program.


With the $2-billion hit we're taking from this member's federal counterparts, the Liberal Party of Canada, we had to introduce a small copayment to keep the Ontario drug benefit plan afloat and to ensure we could continue to add new drugs to the program. Also, most importantly, by having people pay a little bit towards their drugs, we've expanded that program so that 140,000 working poor now qualify for the drug program in this province. We're well aware of the problem the honourable member raises and we're doing everything we can to address it.

Mr Ruprecht: That almost sounded like a commitment, and I would very much encourage him, but let's review the past just briefly. On July 5, 1993 -- I hope you recall that letter -- you as the Tory health critic wrote a letter to Ontario's pharmacists, and I quote, "We, as Progressive Conservatives, cannot endorse legislation that will punish pharmacists, that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario." Did you write that letter? I hope you remember it.

You are now punishing ex-psychiatric patients with some misconceived notion that you can save big money. When vulnerable patients do not take their medication, you will pay millions and millions more in extra hospital emergency calls, more police calls, more ambulance calls and numerous cries for help. In short, there will be no savings and much more pain and expense.

Minister, I hope that your commitment earlier -- at least I thought I heard this commitment -- will be ringing throughout Ontario, saying to everyone here today and to those who are here who are the caregivers of Ontario that you will commit the $2 fee to be struck out simply because of the grave consequences that you as minister will be held responsible for if you continue with this fee.

Hon Mr Wilson: First of all, the quote the honourable member attributes to my comments in 1993 referred to the previous government's Bill 84; it had nothing to do with the topic we are discussing here today. Secondly, I have met regularly with the Ontario Pharmacists' Association and we are working out these concerns. In the announcement made in this House with respect to the program, I fully admitted these concerns. I gave the commitment at that time to work through this problem. That's what we're doing.

We designed the law so that it can be flexible to address this problem, and we've been honest, forthright and working very hard on this very thing since the day we announced it. No one is more aware of the cost to the system, as you mentioned, than the Minister of Health. We can't afford to offload from one side of the system to the other side of the system. We're very much aware of that and I said that when I made the statement in the House announcing the program.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a question to the Premier that I know will be of interest to him, not only as the head of the government, but as a member from northern Ontario. I'd like to review very briefly a chronology for the Premier. On November 30 of last year the Minister of Northern Development and Mines announced that this government was abandoning the norOntair air service for 17 communities in northern Ontario. Then on December 16 the minister said the government would assist remote communities. He was assuring them that they would continue to have air service. On January 15 of this year the minister announced that norOntair service would end tomorrow, as a matter of a fact. Now we have seen three communities left without air service as a result of this announcement: Hornepayne in my riding, Chapleau in Nickel Belt riding and Gore Bay in Algoma-Manitoulin constituency.

On March 27, in the Sudbury Star, an ONTC spokesman announced: "We didn't have time to call tenders. This came in a hurry. The minister said we had to find some way of providing service" to those three communities. Apparently, an agreement was made with Voyageur Airways to provide service to these three communities. Now that deal apparently has been cancelled because the minister has decided he should tender the process.

Premier, can you explain why it is that your government didn't realize right from the beginning that transportation in northern Ontario, the vast geographic area we have, requires government assistance and requires government money? And why on earth did your government not properly tender this service for Hornepayne, Chapleau and Gore Bay rather than having this rather incompetent approach that has created a situation where these communities now won't have air service at least until May?

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): The Minister of Northern Development is not here but he has left me a bit of a chronology of events, and I will attempt as best I can to relay the information to the leader of the New Democratic Party.

First of all, the three communities you've mentioned are three that we did ask tenders to provide air service for, along with all the communities. However, there was no way of knowing which communities the private sector would not bid on until the bids came in, so there was a time problem in finding out. Had the private sector been prepared to provide air service to all the communities, including Hornepayne, Chapleau and Gore Bay, obviously there wouldn't have been a problem, at least in providing that air service.

What happened was that the private sector bid -- you will correct me if I'm wrong -- on 14 of the routes, which confirms that for 14 out of 17 there's really no need for the taxpayers to subsidize service, that the private sector is quite capable of providing it. There were three they did not bid on, so the minister had received assurances from the ONTC, whose responsibility it is -- and it was certainly our intention in public statements and comments that we expected air service to be provided to the communities in the north even if it meant some subsidy had to be provided for some of those communities. No subsidy is required for 14. Clearly, we are going to have to assist, as it is the purpose and the intention of the government to make sure these communities have air service.

Further to that, the minister has indicated that ONTC thought it could do that by entering into an agreement with Voyageur Airways. The problem we had with that is that we found out it was not tendered, that they were invited bids from two companies. That is contrary to government rules and it's contrary as well to the ONTC guidelines, so the minister has asked ONTC, and they've agreed, to come back as quickly as possible to provide service for those communities.


Mr Wildman: Obviously, the note that was left by the minister was somewhat inadequate.

Surely the Premier understands that the reason 14 communities will have private service now is because the private sector believes it could make some money on those. Those routes were in fact subsidizing the three money losers in the past, and because you've given up those routes, now you're going to have to subsidize with taxpayers' money the routes that are not left with any service. Also, you didn't respond to the fact that the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission said that the reason for the lack of tenders with Voyageur was because the minister was in such a hurry.

What assurance do we have that these three communities will get service in May and that it will last beyond four months, which is apparently what the tender is for? Also, what assurance do we have that if the private sector decides it cannot make money on some of the other routes, whether it be Elliot Lake or Wawa or others, and withdraws from those routes, the provincial government -- the provincial taxpayers, I guess -- will then provide subsidies for those routes so that the air service can be continued?

Hon Mr Harris: The ONTC indicated -- and I think this information was relayed to the member for Sudbury East, who had inquired about it. The member is saying that the minister asked the ONTC, "As quickly as possible, make sure that air service is not prevented from being provided to Hornepayne, Chapleau and Gore Bay." If you're opposed to the government and the Minister of Northern Development wanting service to Hornepayne, Chapleau and Gore Bay, then say so. I think the minister was quite correct in saying, "Do what you have to do to make sure that air service is provided to those communities in northern Ontario."

You had a solution which cost millions and millions of dollars; we have a solution that will cost potentially a few hundred thousand dollars. Either way, the communities will be served. If you are standing here today and saying the Minister of Northern Development was wrong to ask for service as quickly as possible, then I'd like you to go back and explain that to the communities in northern Ontario.


Ms Isabel Bassett (St Andrew-St Patrick): I have a question for my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services. I've been receiving an increasing number of inquiries from constituents in my riding of St Andrew-St Patrick about the new Ontario Works program; how they can get involved so that they can get back into the workforce. Can you give me some advice about what to tell them? How soon this will be happening?

Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Community and Social Services): If I might be permitted, first of all I'd like to put a little bit of perspective in terms of this particular program and the background prior to getting to the specific question.

First of all, the former Premier of the province, Mr Rae, said of course it's not smart to pay people to stay at home. We agree with that and that's really what our program is all about. The reason we have to embark upon this particular program -- and I'd like to use the last 10 years as a benchmark, since that's the last time a responsible government was in power. In 1985, there were only 476,000 people on welfare, which ballooned over the last 10 years to close to 1.3 million people. In addition to that, the costs of this program have ballooned from close to $1.5 billion to close to $7 billion. This necessitates fundamental change.

I'd like to just quote quickly from Mr Silipo back on March 13, 1994, when he said: "The welfare system in Ontario simply doesn't work any more. It is an expensive, inefficient system that hasn't kept pace with the changing needs of the people of Ontario. Taxpayers demand and deserve a more sound and accountable system."

We are not going to tinker with this system, that's why we're doing fundamental change. We are right now in the middle of completing the consultation process. Through the MPPs, I encourage the community organizations to come forward with their local solutions.

Ms Bassett: I want to add, to follow up on what the minister has said, in terms of community organizations that have been approaching me in my constituency office saying they want to get involved and they're asking for a chance to sponsor workfare programs. That's just to add to what you said, Mr Minister.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question. As I was getting into, we are in the middle of a consultation process. We have been in the middle of it. We will continue it through not only myself but through our MPPs in the House. I do encourage community organizations to come forward with proposals to improve their communities. This is part of what we need to do. These programs are not going to be make-work programs, as prior governments have had, but will be programs which will improve communities across Ontario. We are looking for local solutions and that's why we recognize that, for example, the rural areas and the agricultural areas have different needs than the city, certainly the inner city and suburbia. That's why we're looking for local solutions and that's why we go through this consultation process.

The importance of all this is, of course, that we find a made-in-Ontario solution for all of us. That's what we're asking for right now. I'd like to repeat that we want to have these organizations come forward from across the province, not only to our party but to MPPs from across the aisle. I would encourage local solutions, and we need to have these local solutions in order for us to complete this program.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): My question is for the Minister of Health. I'd like the minister to address a significant issue that is happening not only in Essex county, the city of Windsor and LaSalle, but also in areas like St Catharines and many areas around Ontario -- non-teaching centres. We have a problem with family physicians; namely, that there are some 30,000 to 40,000 people who do not have access to a family doctor. They have managed to find ways to create health centres, but even in Windsor as late as this week two doctors have left the Sandwich Community Health Centre in my community. Five years ago, 30 doctors were accepting names of new patients and today no doctors are accepting new names.

Dr Ian McLeod, the president of the Essex County Medical Society, estimates that our requirement is some 27 to 30 new doctors in our area. I'd like you to tell us whether you are going to classify Essex county as an underserviced area and therefore let us access some special funding that you've allocated for areas like the north, because the issue of underservice for doctors in Windsor is not the same as in the north. There are areas all over Ontario that have to deal with an issue of not having access to doctors. I'd like to ask you, will you declare the Windsor-Essex area an underserviced area? Please do not use the statistics that you currently are using, which include retired doctors, dead doctors, so that the numbers --

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The question has been asked.

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): I appreciate the question from the honourable member from Windsor. I will say that I live in a community that's not even as far away from Toronto as Windsor is and we have a severe shortage of doctors throughout my riding. In the town of Alliston, which is only 55 minutes away from this place when the traffic's good, we need more doctors too.

You know that we will review the application from Windsor-Essex. I had a meeting this morning with Dr Ian Warrack, the president of the OMA, Dr Wendy Graham, who wrote a report on primary care reform, and Dr Tom Dickson, the former president of the OMA, who is a consultant to the OMA now for primary care reform.

All members should be aware, because the government's already announced it, that 1996 will be the year we move ahead on primary care reform. You're right, the underserviced area program designation does provide some tax-free grants. Seventy communities are under that program now; that's 30% more communities than in 1990. Clearly it's not working, although we will fully review the application from Windsor-Essex.

But the true and permanent solution to the problem we all face in all of our ridings is that we have enough doctors; we have to find through incentives and through primary care reform a way to better distribute them in the province. We are fully committed to finding the solution. You know that because we went through Bill 26. You criticized the actions we took in Bill 26 to address this problem and now you want me to implement those very actions in your community.


The Speaker: The member for Windsor-Riverside is out of order.

Hon Mr Wilson: I'll take that under advisement at the moment.



The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have some members in the west and east galleries that I would like to introduce.


The Speaker: The member for Oriole would please come to order.

We have David Smith from the riding of Lambton, Gordon Dean from Wentworth, John Sola from Mississauga East, Bob Callahan from Mississauga South; in the east gallery we have Howard Sheppard from Northumberland, Bill Barlow from Cambridge, Andy Watson from Chatham-Kent and George Ashe from Durham West. Welcome, past members.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Pursuant to standing order number 55, I wish to indicate the business of the House for the week of April 1, 1996.

On Monday, we will begin second reading of Bill 31, An Act to establish the College of Teachers.

On Tuesday, April 2, we will debate the motion of want of confidence standing in the name of the leader of the official opposition.

On Wednesday, April 3, we will continue with second reading of Bill 31, if not completed on Monday, after which we will begin second reading of Bill 30, An Act to establish the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

For Thursday morning's private members' business we will consider ballot item number 17, standing in the name of the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, and ballot item number 18, standing in the name of the member for Fort York. On the afternoon of Thursday, April 4, we will proceed with other legislation on the order paper, including the bill to be introduced this afternoon by the Minister of Education.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ministry of Health will begin to charge seniors and social assistance recipients a $2 user fee for each prescription filled on June 1, 1996; and

"Whereas health care experts have asserted that user fees for drugs could jeopardize the health of individuals who can't afford to pay for their medication; and

"Whereas Ontario's ex-psychiatric population relies heavily on prescription drugs to remain stable and mental health care providers and the general public are scared of the outcome of these patients that can't afford to buy their medication because of the $2 dispensing fee when it is normal policy to only prescribe them a two- or three-day supply of medication to prevent potential misuse or an overdose; and

"Whereas the perceived savings to health care from the $2 copayment fee will not compensate for the suffering and misery caused by this user fee and will not even cover the cost of extra emergency services or repeated hospital services; the $2 copayment will consequently not lead to cost savings, but rather increases in the case of expensive health care services; and

"Whereas the current Minister of Health, Jim Wilson, promised as an opposition MPP in a July 5 letter to Ontario pharmacists that his party would not endorse legislation that will punish patients to the detriment of health care in Ontario,

"Therefore we, the undersigned, strongly urge the government of Ontario to repeal this user fee plan before it takes effect on June 1, 1996, because of the potential dramatic increase in emergency and police services and the suffering and misery to human lives, especially psychiatric outpatients and those who depend on medication for their daily survival."

I've affixed my signature to this document.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): This petition is to the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the matter of selling Ontario Hydro is likely to come before the Legislature in the near future;

"Whereas we, the undersigned residents of Ontario who have, through the payment of electricity rates, paid for Ontario Hydro, are concerned about privatization of Ontario Hydro, leading to higher rates, lower reliability and compromised nuclear safety;

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

"Please preserve the public ownership of Ontario Hydro and refuse to sell this important public asset."

I fully agree with the contents of this petition and will be affixing my signature.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents in Scarborough. The petition reads as follows:

"To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the recommendations of the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council to close inpatient paediatric beds, the special care nursery and the burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital resulting in significantly reduced access to paediatric, newborn and burn care for a large geographic area of Scarborough; and

"Whereas the paediatric unit, special care nursery and burn unit at Scarborough General Hospital provide very cost-effective quality care;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to:

"(1) Continue paediatric services, including inpatient paediatric beds;

"(2) Continue special care nursery services;

"(3) Continue and combine Metropolitan Toronto's burn care at Scarborough General Hospital."

I am pleased to affix my name to this petition.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas Mikeonomics is a copied blueprint for public policy in the state of New Jersey; and

"Whereas Mikeonomics has been tried in other jurisdictions with a resulting erosion of middle-class incomes; and

"Whereas Mikeonomics is a cynical shell game which benefits the most wealthy people in our society and sticks middle-class people with user fees and increased property taxes; and

"Whereas Mikeonomics proposes to make our streets safe and improve public education by laying off teachers and public officers;

"We, the following undersigned citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon Mikeonomics and pursue public policy which includes all Ontarians."

I hereby affix my signature.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have a petition signed by approximately 300 residents from one end of Algoma district to the other. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Transportation Minister Al Palladini is proposing legislation that will cost many towns their bus service.

"Bus companies are currently required to provide service for smaller towns as a condition of being given the rights to high-profit routes and charter markets. Minister Palladini's plan to deregulate will eliminate all conditions and requirements. As a result, hundreds of smaller communities like ours will lose bus service.

"Minister, people in smaller towns need bus service just as much as people in big cities. We depend on buses to visit friends, family, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts.

"The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose bus deregulation and to eliminate our bus service."

I support the petition and affix my signature thereto.


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : I have a petition with 1,739 signatures and I will read in French.

«Attendu que le jeu de Bingo provincial quotidien télédiffusé enlèvera la source principale de revenu des organismes à but non lucratif de diverses localités provinciales,

«Attendu que le gouvernement actuel a procédé à de nombreuses coupures envers les assistés sociaux et les municipalités, et que la demande d'aide auprès des organismes augmente considérablement,

«Attendu que les groupes de bénévoles, tels que les Chevaliers de Colomb, les Filles d'Isabelle, le club Lion, Rotary, Kiwanis, Boy Scouts, Optimist et combien d'autres ne seront plus en mesure de répondre aux besoins de personnes nécessiteuses,

«Nous, soussignés, exigeons que le gouvernement actuel abandonne ou modifie le projet d'organisé, le Bingo quotidien télédiffusé à l'échelle provinciale.»


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I have pages of signatures in support of the following petition:

"To the Legislative Assembly:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to abandon, reduce or delay the provincial government's proposed 30% tax reduction in order to maintain needed funding and services for the two million people of Metro Toronto."

I agree with the content of this and I affix my signature to it.


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

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

"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 final 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."

I've affixed my signature.



Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

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

"That a recommendation by the psychiatric hospitals restructuring committee to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital be rejected.

"We believe the restructuring committee has not fully considered the case for retaining St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital.

"We believe the hospital and the community of St Thomas provide care and caring for psychiatric patients which is equal to and better than London.

"We believe closure of the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital will have a devastating impact on the economy and the residents of the St Thomas and Elgin county area.

"We believe London can better absorb the impact of closure of the London Psychiatric Hospital.

"Finally, we believe it would be cheaper for the government to retain the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in terms of capital improvements required to both facilities.

"Therefore, we request that the government refrain from endorsing and implementing the recommendation to close the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital."

It's signed by some 16,000 residents.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have yet another petition regarding the proposed closure of St Joseph's Hospital in my home town of Hamilton. It's a petition to the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council:

"Whereas the Hamilton-Wentworth health action task force, as part of their report, has recommended the closure of St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton; and

"Whereas it is recognized the health care system should be made as efficient as possible; and

"Whereas the quality of health care service in our community should not be sacrificed in the name of efficiency; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government promised to protect the quality of health care in Ontario; and

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe that maintaining the presence of St Joseph's Hospital in downtown Hamilton is a vital component of our health care system;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the Minister of Health and the Hamilton-Wentworth District Health Council ensure the continuance of St Joseph's Hospital at its present site."

Again, I affix my signature.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): The petition I have reads as follows:

"Whereas this Conservative government's stated plan in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects for Ontario; and

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates; improved reading, math and language skills; less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency; and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better-educated, highly skilled workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local school boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten;

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated commitments in regard to education and to Ontario, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding of junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."

I affix my signature to this petition as I'm in agreement with its contents.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a petition here addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government plans to sell off public services to corporations that are going to run them for profit; and

"Whereas after the corporate takeover, it's strictly going to be user-pay for the services we now depend on; and

"Whereas our clean water and clean air and water standards and worker safety rules are being relaxed because corporations don't like rules that interfere with profits; and

"Whereas privatization is being sold as a way to save tax dollars even though large companies pay little or no taxes while individual Canadians, working women and men, pay most of the total tax bill; and

"Whereas Bill 7 was introduced in the interests of facilitating the government's privatization agenda by stripping public sector workers of their rights to retain fair working conditions when services are transferred or privatized;

"We, the following citizens of Ontario, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to abandon the sell-off of Ontario's public services and reinstate successor rights for public service employees."

That's signed by Tom Ferguson and Eric Sousa and Ryan Cooke of Welland, and hundreds of others. I've affixed my name, and I'm asking Adam Jakop, a page here at the Legislative Assembly, to deliver this to the table, having affixed my signature.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I have a petition:

"Whereas this Conservative government's stated goal in the Common Sense Revolution is to improve the long-term economic prospects for Ontario;

"Whereas research from all over the world shows early childhood education leads to lower dropout rates, improved reading, math and language skills, less chance of future unemployment, teen pregnancy or delinquency and higher enrolment in post-secondary education, thus resulting in a better, highly educated, skilled workforce; and

"Whereas this Conservative government states it is committed to ensuring a larger share of the education dollar goes to the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government fully expects boards to meet transfer reductions by cutting costs outside the classroom; and

"Whereas this Conservative government has made junior kindergarten a matter of choice for local boards and has reduced the funding for junior kindergarten,

"Therefore, to ensure this Conservative government meets its stated commitment in regard to education and to Ontario, we, the undersigned, call on the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education and Training to restore the funding of junior kindergarten to its previous level and require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes."

As a person who participated in the first junior kindergarten class in the province of Ontario, I affix my signature to this very worthwhile petition.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a petition. It's from a number of residents in rural Ontario, and it says:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Transportation Minister Al Palladini is proposing legislation that will cost many towns their bus service.

"Bus companies are currently required to provide service for smaller towns as a condition of being given the rights to high-profit routes and charter markets. Minister Palladini's plan to deregulate will eliminate all conditions and requirements. As a result, hundreds of small communities like ours will lose bus service.

"Minister, people in smaller towns need bus service just as much as people in big cities. We depend upon buses to visit family and friends, to get to appointments in nearby towns, to ship our Christmas presents and to receive our repair parts.

"The undersigned call upon the members of the Legislative Assembly to oppose bus deregulation and the elimination of our bus service."

This petition is signed by 15 residents of rural Ontario, and I have affixed my signature as well.



Mr Arnott from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly presented the committee's Report on Security in the Legislative Precincts and moved its adoption.

Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): It's my pleasure to introduce this report today. Mr Speaker, as you're aware, the Speaker asked the committee of the Legislative Assembly to consider the broad issue of security in the legislative precinct some time ago. As part of the examination of this issue, the committee toured our own Legislative Building examining the security measures which were in place here; we received submissions from the Speaker, Clerk of the House, Sergeant at Arms, staff of the assembly, the media and members of the public; and a subcommittee of the full committee visited Quebec's National Assembly, the House of Commons of Canada and the Senate of Canada during the break.

I want to extend my warm thanks to all members of the committee who worked together extremely well to reach conclusions that are unanimously supported. I would also like to thank all the witnesses who took the time to appear before the committee, the Speaker, the Clerk of the House and my friend the Sergeant at Arms, and to thank our committee staff, Lisa Freeman, Peter Sibenik and Rosemarie Singh, who assisted us.

The report outlines the concerns of the committee with respect to certain incidents and occurrences in the legislative precinct and outlines the committee's recommendations. I would just like to mention four of the 10 recommendations that we've put forward.

The committee is recommending that the permanent crowd control barriers at the front of the Legislative Building be removed.

We are recommending that the legislative security service be restructured so that it has clear and direct lines of authority, it is accountable to the Speaker and is sensitive to the parliamentary environment.

Further, we recommend that the entry and exit protocols for the precincts be reformed to welcome our visitors and ensure the safety of everyone.

Finally, the committee is recommending that those organizing demonstrations or special events on the legislative grounds continue to register their intent with the legislative security service and that a protocol for cooperation and liaison between security personnel and these individuals or groups be implemented.

This committee looks forward to the report being called for debate in the House in the near future, but at this time I move adjournment of the debate.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? Carried.




Mr Snobelen moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 34, An Act to amend the Education Act / Projet de loi 34, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'éducation.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Does the minister wish to make a brief statement?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): No, Mr Speaker, I introduced this bill earlier today.



Mr Christopherson, in the absence of Mr Marchese, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr24, An Act respecting TD Trust Company and Central Guaranty Trust Company.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Marchese moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr24, An Act respecting TD Trust Company and Central Guaranty Trust Company.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Mr Newman moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Newman moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

1092040 ONTARIO INC ACT, 1996

Mr Sergio, in the absence of Mr McGuinty, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr43, An Act to revive 1092040 Ontario Inc.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Sergio, in the absence of Mr McGuinty, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr 43, An Act to revive 1092040 Ontario Inc.

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

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 20, An Act to promote economic growth and protect the environment by streamlining the land use planning and development system through amendments related to planning, development, municipal and heritage matters / Projet de loi 20, Loi visant à promouvoir la croissance économique et à protéger l'environnement en rationalisant le système d'aménagement et de mise en valeur du territoire au moyen de modifications touchant des questions relatives à l'aménagement, la mise en valeur, les municipalités et le patrimoine.

Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the member for Oxford, Ernie Hardeman, the PA to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, for the way he has conducted himself at the public hearings.

Mr Speaker, I will be doing my presentation in both languages, so I'd just like to inform you ahead of time.

Un des points très importants qui étaient apportés à mon attention durant notre tournée à travers la province, c'était surtout le laps de temps qui est accordé aux municipalités pour répondre aux demandes qui sont déposées. Comme j'ai dit dans le passé, il est très difficile de rencontrer les dates ou le temps alloué aux municipalités, lorsque nous savons que plus de 80 % des 833 municipalités en Ontario plus les six conseils régionaux sont composés d'une population de moins de 5000. Lorsque nous parlons d'une population de moins de 5000, cela veut dire que nous sommes limités avec les ressources que l'on doit avoir à l'hôtel de ville où à la communauté.

Avec ce projet de loi, même si j'appuie le projet à 85 % à date -- I am supporting this project at 85%. I have to say that because definitely it will stimulate the economy in Ontario and this is what we need. But there are some points, really, that have to be looked at.

After listening to over 100 people that made presentations to the committee, I would say 90% of them have referred to the lapse of time or the time frame that was allocated for response by the municipalities.

I've said in the past for municipalities with less than 5,000 population, every time they will have to hire a consultant to prepare the amendments. Preparing the amendments at the present time, they have bylaws within the municipalities that stipulate the amount of money that will have to be submitted to the municipality by the requester. All those bylaws will have to be changed, and I still wonder if the municipality will know ahead of time how much it will cost to proceed with the amendment submitted to the municipality.

J'ai mentionné auparavant que les municipalités sont limitées par les ressources actuelles, et surtout avec les coupures gouvernementales auxquelles ils ont fait face depuis l'annonce du 29 novembre dernier. Mon comté seulement, la circonscription de Prescott et Russell, reçoit des coupures de $3,2 million en 1996. Plusieurs municipalités ont dû laisser aller des employés parce que les ressources financières ne sont plus là. Et en retournant, le fait qu'on doit embaucher des firmes de consultation, je pourrais dire que ces consultants doivent venir des centres urbains pour aller desservir la population dans les centres ruraux. Ce sera très difficile, de rencontrer toutes les demandes ou de rencontrer vraiment la joie de vivre dans ces communautés.


J'ai eu l'expérience auparavant, en tant que maire d'une municipalité pendant 15 ans, et 25 ans au conseil municipal, nous aussi, même avec une population d'au-delà 8000 personnes à Rockland, Ontario, étions obligés d'aller chercher des consultants à l'extérieur. Pour rencontrer nos demandes, on était obligés de recruter des personnes des grands centres tels que Montréal, Ottawa et Toronto. Je peux vous dire que ces gens-là ne connaissent pas la communauté. On doit travailler de très près avec les personnes de l'hôtel de ville ou de la communauté. Cela veut dire que si la communauté n'a pas le personnel en place, on doit dire aux consultants, pour rencontrer les dates qui nous ont été soumises, d'aller devant et de faire le mieux qu'ils peuvent.

Mais lorsque l'on va procéder de cette manière, cela ne veut pas dire que nous allons rencontrer toutes les nécessités ou les critères ou les demandes de la communauté. C'est un grand danger.

J'ai dit tout à l'heure que plus de 80 % des municipalités en Ontario comptent moins de 5000 de population. Ça veut dire que qu'au-delà de 500 communautés, 500, 600 communautés vont devoir embaucher les firmes de consultants.

Mais une chose qui est très importante, il y a une firme de consultants qui nous a fait une présentation à London. En partant, je me suis senti accoté au mur, parce que je pouvais voir que la personne ne faisait qu'un «sales pitch». Elle représentait 30 firmes de consultants, puis elle-même a dit qu'il serait très difficile de rencontrer le «time frame» qui était indiqué dans le projet de loi. Mais il faut dire que tout ce qui était inclus dans le projet de loi n'est pas à l'encontre du développement des municipalités, surtout rurale. Ça va définitivement aider à accélérer le processus pour commencer le développement.

Nous avions demandé un certain temps de considérer d'allouer 120 jours au lieu de 90 jours. Lorsqu'on parle de 180 jours, nous avons réduit la période de temps de 50 %.

Je regarde la municipalité de Gloucester, qui a un personnel je ne sais pas de combien de personnes, mais elle-même a recommandé 120 jours. Je regarde la ville de London, qui a dû laisser aller 12 de ses urbanistes tout récemment parce qu'ils ont dit, avec les coupures de transferts de la province, qu'il était impossible de garder ces gens en place. Donc, eux-mêmes ont dit qu'il sera impossible de rencontrer les «deadlines» qui nous ont accordés.

Je regarde ensuite le comté de Oxford. Dans la présentation qui était faite par l'urbaniste d'Oxford, beaucoup de municipalités dans l'Ontario voudraient avoir un consultant ou un urbaniste de la trame de celle d'Oxford, mais lui-même était honnête. Il a dit qu'il est impossible de rencontrer les critères qui sont mentionnés a l'intérieur de ce projet de loi. Beaucoup de municipalités croient qu'il serait très difficile.

Je regarde ici le County Planning Directors of Ontario: "Although the time frames are tight" -- this is one of the comments that was mentioned. I am just going to read what the member for Oxford said when he came in front of the board. "Unless municipalities have the ability to require that sufficient information necessary to adequately process the application is received when the application is submitted, the time frames are unrealistic without complete application information submitted up front in the process, municipalities could be forced to refuse the application on the basis of lack of technical merits to achieve the proposed time frame."

So I could see that even in the county where my good chairman was presiding over all the meetings, even in there they said it's impossible to meet.

Maintenant je vais aller sur le côté des logements, des appartements dans les sous-sols. Encore là, à plusieurs endroits, je dois féliciter le gouvernement de ce point-ci parce qu'ils ont emporté un amendement qui va protéger ceux qui sont déjà en place. C'est l'article 42(76), donc on a modifié après toutes les présentations qui nous ont été faites. Je tiens à féliciter le gouvernement.

I'd like to congratulate the government for taking into consideration especially this man from Ottawa who came in front of the committee and said: "What is going to happen? I've just spent $5,000 to renovate my basement. I need that money. I just took the retirement and without this additional revenue I will not be able to meet both ends." The government has accepted. Thank you, all the people who sat on this committee, and also the government for taking this into consideration. Also, from there, we have taken all the comments that were brought up in front of us. Apparently, there are over 4,000 in Ontario who have built apartments in their basements and the government has taken this into consideration. So this is a good part of the bill.

There are 150,000 only in Metro Toronto who have built or renovated their homes to accommodate a second apartment in the basement. Again, this was very important especially for university students, for example, and young couples that are getting married; to be able to buy a house they had to create a second apartment in their home to be able to meet both ends and make the payments of their house.

J'ai aussi un article qui m'a été fait parvenir de la clinique juridique de Prescott et Russell qui a été présenté par Me Louise Toone. Elle me réfère à l'article 31(3.2). L'article tel qu'il existe dans la loi sur les résidents restreint l'autorité des municipalités d'adopter des règlements concernant des appartements dans certaines maisons bien précises, soit «detached houses, row houses, residential units contained in the house». Il est donc important de souligner que la loi sur les résidents s'applique seulement dans des circonstances très précises. On parle d'un seul appartement et pas de plusieurs. Cet appartement doit être situé dans une maison telle que définie, donc pas n'importe où. C'est un des points d'inquiétude que la clinique juridique de Prescott et Russell avait lors de la présentation.

En tant qu'ancien politicien municipal, élu municipal, il y avait du danger avec le projet de loi qui existait. Lorsqu'on a décidé il y a quelques ans de mettre en place le projet de loi qui permettait la construction d'appartements dans les sous-sols, nous avons oublié de prendre en considération la sécurité des gens, parce que très souvent nous avons procédé et nous n'avons pas regardé la sécurité des gens du côté d'incendies et beaucoup d'autres choses. Nous avons oublié de regarder si les conduites d'eau permettaient l'addition d'appartements dans les sous-sols, si nous avions assez de stationnement pour permettre un deuxième logis dans la maison, si nous rencontrions le code de construction. Ce sont des points qui ont été oubliés, et maintenant le tout sera laissé à la municipalité.

J'espère que les municipalités vont comprendre que de nos jours il est très important de regarder surtout des familles à faible revenu. Souvent on voudrait garder chez nous nos parents, mais avec le nouveau projet de loi, la municipalité, à l'intérieur de son plan directeur, ne permet pas le deuxième appartement ou logement au sous-sol. On ne pourra pas chercher nos parents ou leur demander de demeurer avec nous. Si nous regardons en Afrique, l'aîné de la famille est obligé de garder ses parents. Ici au Canada, en Amérique du nord, c'est différent. Mais ça peut être juste l'inverse : les parents qui désirent donner une chance à leurs enfants de se ramasser l'argent nécessaire pour s'acheter une nouvelle propriété pouvaient ouvrir un appartement au deuxième ou au sous-sol afin de les aider à construire leur maison.


J'ai un autre point qui est important pour les comtés unis de Prescott et Russell, le secteur de l'aménagement du territoire. On nous dit que la déclaration de principes interprovinciaux reliés au projet de loi 20 ne sont pas claires en ce qui concerne le développement résidentiel dans les secteurs ruraux non agricoles. Comme j'ai dit tout à l'heure, plus de 80 % des municipalités sont d'une population de moins de 5000. Donc, tout cela veut dire qu'on doit prendre ça en considération.

Je sais qu'il est peut-être un peu tard d'apporter des amendements, mais le Parti libéral ainsi que le Nouveau Parti démocratique nous avons déposé au-delà de 80 demandes d'amendements ou de modifications. Aucune des nôtres n'a été acceptée, aucune.

Not a single one of the amendments submitted by the Liberal Party or the NDP was accepted. I've read, I've gone through; 35 amendments of the government were accepted. I think there were good amendments submitted by both of the opposition parties and I really feel they should have been accepted, but probably by trying to lobby the government we'll be able to come up with some amendments at a later date.

Un autre point qui inquiète certainement les gens de l'Ontario, c'est le fait que lorsqu'on doit soumettre une demande d'un nouveau plan de subdivision, il n'est pas nécessaire pour une municipalité d'avoir une réunion publique. J'encourage toutes les municipalités en Ontario, lorsqu'on parle de développement d'une nouvelle subdivision, à informer le public. Si l'on ne procède pas avec les réunions publiques pour informer le public, cela, de temps en temps, peut mener à des dépenses additionnelles pour le développeur qui demande la subdivision, ainsi que pour la municipalité, et tout ça peut ralentir le processus. Donc, je crois que c'est un autre point qu'on aurait dû prendre en considération : les réunions publiques lorsqu'on reçoit une nouvelle demande de subdivision.

L'autre point très important, c'est le droit d'appel à la CAMO, ce qui est le OMB. Actuellement, lorsque le comité d'aménagement du territoire ou le comité de --

Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Committee of adjustment?

M. Lalonde : -- the committee of adjustment -- se rencontrent pour une demande de séparation de terrain, si le comité d'ajustement prend une position -- je sais que le conseil municipal a le dernier mot, mais la chose que je trouve regrettable, c'est que nous avons retiré le droit d'appel à la CAMO. Le droit d'appel à la CAMO, j'ai toujours cru que c'était donner le droit de la personne d'aller plus haut afin d'obtenir justice. Mais dans ce cas ici, nous avons retiré du projet de loi 20 le droit que nous avions dans le passé. Remarquez bien que cette partie était très importante puisque, en retirant cette partie du projet de loi, maintenant, lorsque nous allons voir que notre demande va être refusée au comité d'ajustement, nous allons précéder et contourner la loi en demandant un amendement ou une modification au règlement de zonage ou au plan directeur. Cela deviendrait coûteux, il va ralentir le processus et il peut affecter l'économie de la municipalité. Donc, je pense que c'est un point très important que nous aurions dû prendre en considération.

Je regarde ici London Development Institute: "Where there is one or more member of council on the committee of adjustment, the right of appeal to the whole of the council or to the Ontario Municipal Board should be retained. Failure to do so would place too much emphasis on one council member." I could see that because, remember, in small communities especially, the mayor, the councillors go to church on Sunday and they meet the developers and it's very hard for them, for the members of council, to say no to those developers. But by having the right to appeal to the OMB, it gives a chance and also I thought it was very important that they had this process.

I have another one here from the county of Lanark. I'm just going to read a short line: "The county of Lanark recommends that the provision of Bill 163 which permits direct appeal of a decision on a minor variance application to the Ontario Municipal Board by the appellant be maintained in the legislation to promote a fair and objective planning process."

I have another one from the London Chamber of Commerce, that the province consider requiring the Ontario Municipal Board to hold a procedural meeting within 30 days of receiving an appeal.

This one is from the city of Owen Sound: "Bill 20 would remove the requirement that public meetings be held prior to a committee of adjustment of a council considering an application for a consent, severance, subdivision or condominium. The city of Owen Sound's practice has been to hold a public hearing before considering draft approval of a subdivision or a condominium plan."

I think this bill is to stimulate the economy. As I said at the beginning, I support this bill at 85%; but the members of the government should have taken into consideration all the amendments that were submitted -- not all of them but at least some of them -- by the two opposition parties.

Another point which bothers me is the one for the agriculture and environment process. At the present time, anyone who wants to submit an application for a subdivision doesn't have to notify, or the municipality doesn't have to notify, the agriculture people or the Ministry of Environment and Energy. That could create some problems, especially at the agricultural level.

I just remembered that lately in my riding, there are two appeals, or two court cases. People from the urban community have moved to the rural area. We have given permission to build homes around the agriculture or around barns. Right now, the people just cannot accept the dust that comes from that, cannot accept the smell, especially in the fall or in the spring, that comes from the farmers' community. I think it's very important that they should mention in the bill that no residential construction should be built within a certain number of metres from the agricultural or farming community.

I would like to conclude by saying again that it's been a pleasure to travel across the province, especially in the region of Sudbury. I was going to forget the region of Sudbury. I would like to mention that in French.

Je voudrais le mentionner en français. Je me rappelle Monsieur le maire de Noëlville, qui est venu devant notre comité et qui nous a dit que le procédé pour obtenir des séparations de terrains dans son district est très difficile.

J'ai mentionné hier que je me rappelle que cet homme avait une ferme de 360 acres qui lui avait été laissée par son père, 360 acres, et la séparation de terrains n'est pas permis dans le nord de Sudbury. Je ne peux pas comprendre qu'à l'intérieur de ce projet de loi, nous n'avons pas pris en considération toutes les demandes qui viennent du nord de l'Ontario. Je sais qu'il y a des raisons pour lesquelles on ne peut pas accepter certaines séparations de terrains, mais dans ce cas ici, je peux dire, 360 acres et on ne peut même pas détacher 10 acres de terre pour la construction d'une maison unifamiliale pour les membres de sa famille. Je trouve ça regrettable, que nous n'avons pas pris en considération les points soulevés par les gens de Sudbury.

Once again, I would like to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on Bill 20.


The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I listened attentively to excerpts of the member for Prescott and Russell's speech. I found it rather interesting that he seems to be in many cases supporting this legislation when compared to the speeches by his colleagues from Kingston and The Islands and others, particularly the member for St Catharines.

Having said that, I found one particular matter very interesting and that was his suggestion that in many cases in small towns, developers meet with municipal leaders at church. I wasn't sure that this is where these kinds of discussions usually are carried out, but I would agree with those who might think that this would certainly be an unholy alliance.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I would like to comment on my colleague's remarks. I think he accurately portrays the content of this bill. Further, I think his experience as a municipal councillor has led him to bring an understanding to this legislation that I, as a former municipal councillor, share; that is, each municipal council has its own dynamic across the province. Some are better at planning than others. Certainly a one-size-fits-all solution across Ontario is not always best, and most municipalities resent having Queen's Park interfere with their planning processes.

I share with him the concerns he has about this legislation. While I am concerned that the legislation has some aspects that are eminently supportable, I agree with him that many aspects of this bill could have been improved if the government had listened to the opposition parties at committee and made some substantial amendments to this piece of legislation.

My colleague points out that it has impact for agriculture and rural areas and I would say to him that it also has very significant impact for urban centres. The development of basement apartments, for example, which has been debated in this place over a significant period, which was permitted by the previous government, is now being made illegal once again. I would suggest to the government that there's got to be a better way than enforcing a situation where you are encouraging now non-conforming uses and you will have some that are legal and some that are illegal and you're creating chaos in a situation. I suggest they've made it worse, and I agree and congratulate my colleague on his excellent remarks.

M. Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough-Est) : Je voudrais remercier mon collègue de Prescott et Russell pour son excellent discours.

It certainly was a pleasure to travel the province with the other members of the committee. I respect our colleague from Prescott and Russell for doing what I hope we see more of in this House: recognizing that while we may never agree on all aspects of bills, when the government does recognize and reflect the views that have been brought before it by the groups making presentations and by the members opposite, that's worthy of comment as well. I genuinely appreciate your contribution throughout those three weeks of hearings and your comments here today.

There were three areas where significant concessions were made: the first being minor variances and the right to appeal to the OMB; the restoration of the right for public hearings for plans of subdivision and for consent; and of course, the change of the dates for the approval of basement apartments, as they're called. This is clearly an important issue and, with all respect to our colleague from Oriole, who just spoke, we believe an issue best left to local decision-making.

In my riding of Scarborough East we had considerable controversy over the past few years about the pressures created on public services by the, at the time, illegal basement apartments. The previous government took one position, and I don't disagree that that was their right at the time, but it created a whole series of problems that Scarborough is still having difficulty catching up to in terms of facilities in our schools and libraries and other social amenities to deal with this unexpected population increase in an already mature market.

I thank the member for his comments and particularly for recognizing that the government did in fact listen in three very important areas -- and I'd like to think in all areas -- that were presented before it during the weeks of the hearings.

Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I wish to congratulate the member for Prescott and Russell on his presentation. I think he had demonstrated that not only --

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but my colleague has stood twice and you passed by her in rotation, and that's fine. We expected you would come back and recognize her, but I think this is the last one and now she'll be denied what was rightfully her position. So I'd ask unanimous consent to allow the member to continue, and also my colleague, which is probably the easiest way.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Yorkview has conceded.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I wanted to comment in particular to the member for Prescott and Russell. We spent a fair amount of time on the committee, although I was unable to travel -- but in the city of Toronto. I must say that I'm not surprised to see, with all due respect, that there's a real split among the Liberals on this bill. It's like before the election -- Lyn McLeod at a leadership meeting contest where she talked about agreeing that they would get rid of rent controls if they were elected and they would try to find a balance between the landlords and the tenants, which sounds to me a lot like what the Tories are saying. I'll bet you're now sorry you conceded, aren't you?

I want to point out to the member that I understand, coming from the municipal sector, he is concerned about making sure that there is real balance. We sat through the same committees and heard the same people talk, and the problem is there isn't a real balance here. I think what you see happening in the city of London, which I don't have time to go into right now -- the member for Middlesex talked to it yesterday. He was totally wrong about what's happening there. Unfortunately, what people are pointing out to us, the relaxation of some of the regulations -- not only that, but the regulations around the standards within the Ontario building code. When you put all of those together, we're going back to the days, you will recall, in the 1970s and 1980s -- and I'm sure my colleague from Algoma will remember some of this -- of downright corruption in some cases. I'm not saying it happens all over in all municipalities; the majority of politicians are good people. But the corruption and very, very bad development that happened at that time is going to happen again.

The Deputy Speaker: The member for Prescott and Russell has two minutes.

Mr Lalonde: I'd just like to say, first of all, that there is definitely no split within our party.

Mr Sergio: Right on.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): There's two splits in my party.

Mr Sergio: There isn't any. Look at us. We are well united.

Mr Lalonde: I said right at the beginning that I support this bill at 85%, but there are some areas that definitely I don't support. This party doesn't operate the American style either. We are the Canadian-style party, the Liberal Party. I'm happy to hear that the government has taken into consideration the point that I brought forth concerning the appeal process for minor variance, and also the public meeting for new subdivision.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): We forced them into it.

Mr Lalonde: We forced them probably, yes. We have to put pressure all the way through. This is our role. We played it. That's what we wanted and I say thank you to the government for accepting the official opposition requests.


Mr Wildman: I want to participate in this debate because I consider the Planning Act to be central to the whole issue of sustainability and sustainable development in our province. For many years, on both sides of the House I have, as many members have, taken into account the need to ensure that we have economic development that is sustainable, that is carried out in a way that protects the environment and ensures that we have jobs not only in the immediate future but for the long term, that development takes place in such a way that we do not compromise the integrity of the environment for the future.

The Planning Act, land use planning, is central to this. We recognize that many people are concerned about the time and costs involved in dealing with issues around proper planning, environmental assessments and so on, so when we were in government we did everything we could to try to expedite the proper procedures and shorten the time it takes to get environmental assessments prepared, considered, reviewed, to hold hearings and have them approved. That, of course, affected the way we could plan in the province.

My concern about this government's approach is that while they say they are in favour of a one-window approach -- I'll come back to this in a moment -- they also have the overall ideological position that regulation per se is wrong and bad, that any kind of regulation adds to cost, delays things and makes it more difficult for entrepreneurs to make a buck, essentially.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): And to provide jobs.

Mr Wildman: And to provide jobs. The unfortunate thing is that I think this government and members of the government party truly believe there is a contradiction between jobs and environmental protection, that you cannot produce the numbers of jobs we need and all want in this province if you have regulation that protects the environment.

As a result, they've decided to come down on the side of economic development, hoping it'll produce jobs, and are forgetting about planning and the environment. Otherwise, what would be the reason for this amendment and this change in the planning legislation? It only came into effect last March and has not had the opportunity to be studied, to be experienced, to demonstrate that there may be problems. There are always problems in legislation that can lead to need for improvements, but this government is not prepared to see the Planning Act that came into effect last March actually operate for some time so they can determine what changes should be made.

Instead, they've come into government, they've come into power and decided to move immediately to move amendments, make changes, to essentially gut the Planning Act without having the opportunity to determine if these are the changes that are best in terms of sustainability.

The one-window approach is a very attractive approach. We attempted to develop that when we were in government with regard to small business dealings with government so there would be one agency the small business community could deal with and know they would be dealing with to get matters dealt with, to deal with regulation and so on. But when we did that, we did not at the same time just say that all the other government agencies that may have a role in this particular matter the business community is concerned about or a particular businessman is concerned about should not be involved. Simply, we said that the one window, the agency, should in fact act as an advocate in many cases on behalf of the business community with those other agencies.

But in this particular bill, what the government is proposing is that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be the one window, but all those other ministries that do have a say with regard to planning and approvals -- or denials -- are not clearly involved. If we're going to have a proposal for a subdivision development, let's say, on prime agricultural land in a municipality, in the past, of course, that proposal would have had to be reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs officials would then express its views to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and to the municipality before it could be approved. If they had objections, those objections would have to be mitigated before it could get approval. If they could not be mitigated, then approval would not be given.

In the same sense, if other ministries, such as the Ministry of Natural Resources, had concerns, they were required to review the proposal and to make comments. Again, if their comments were negative, there would have to be mitigation done, and if it could not be properly done, it would not be approved.

The government still maintains that OMAFRA and MNR, for instance, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy will have a say here, but there's nothing in the legislation that says they have to be consulted, they have to be in agreement before the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the one-window agency, can give approval. I don't understand that. I don't understand why we would not want to ensure that all of those agencies that have different expertise are satisfied. Perhaps you'd like to put time lines on their reviews and make those kinds of changes; that might be reasonable. But why isn't it clear in the legislation that they must agree?

The other day during the debate I mentioned the whole question of wetlands protection. I believe this is crucial. In southern Ontario the total acreage of wetlands has decreased to the point where we now only have somewhere between 13% and 20% of the original wetlands in southern Ontario. This is very serious. There are many, many species of plants and animals and birds and fish that are dependent on those kinds of habitat. If we continue to see them drained or filled in, those species will disappear; it's as simple as that. What effect does that have on the overall ecology of which we human beings are part?

Right now there is something that biologists and environmentalists are not quite certain about. It appears that amphibians are disappearing all over the world. Nobody knows exactly why. We suspect it must have something to do with something or some things in the environment that are affecting the reproduction of amphibians, or if not their reproduction, then their habitat that makes it possible for them to survive.

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): It's Mike Harris's fault.

Mr Wildman: This is serious. It's not Mike Harris's fault. I never suggested it was Mike Harris's fault. I said it was a global problem. I don't know what you think of Mike Harris's role in this world, but he is not the ruler of the world.

The fact is that amphibians are disappearing. This is a wake-up call for the rest of us. Amphibians are like the canary in the mine. You know, in the old days miners used to take a canary down underground because if the canary died, it indicated there must be something in the atmosphere that was causing problems; there would be gases and it was time to get out. What's happening with amphibians is the same thing: It's a warning call for all of the rest of us, all of the other species. It's a warning call for us as humans. It's a warning call for governments, for business, for all of us. We don't know what's causing it, but it's happening.

I suspect that one of the factors, and I admit that it's probably only one of the factors, that is contributing to this is the decline and disappearance of habitat. I don't know that for certain but I suspect that's one of the reasons, and if we continue to do what we've done in the past in this province, which is fill in wetlands to develop golf courses, for instance -- that's been done on a number of occasions in different parts of this province -- or fill them in because we want to develop shopping centres or subdivisions, or if we continue simply to drain them for agricultural purposes, that habitat disappears and the species that are dependent on that habitat will not be able to survive. What does that tell us? It tells us that we are harming the environment, we are harming the ecosystem, and this legislation does not provide proper protection for that wetland habitat. We cannot afford to have wetlands in southern Ontario decline to the point where we have even less than 13% of them left.


I mentioned the problem of migrating water fowl. They must have rest areas. They must have nesting areas. I know this is a problem for many private land owners in this province, because if they have a portion of their land which is wetland, what used to be called swamp, and they want to drain it, they very much resent the fact that someone comes along from the Ministry of Natural Resources and says, "Wait a minute, this is an important rest area for migrating geese," for instance. "If you drain it, it'll be difficult for those birds to continue to migrate from the James Bay lowlands to the southern US and back."

Many people will say: "Well, wait a minute, this is private property. This is my property. I have the right to decide what's going to happen on my property." And everybody agrees that private property means that land owners have the right to decide what happens, but they do not have the right to decide what happens on their property if it harms the rest of us. I think everyone will agree to that. I would hope most people would agree that if I have a property, I do not have the right to do something on my property that harms my neighbour, because my neighbour has rights. It's just a matter of good neighbourliness. Frankly, the other species, in a way, are our neighbours.

Mr Preston: They don't pay taxes on the property, though.

Mr Wildman: No, that's quite true. Geese do not pay taxes, and geese can be a nuisance. There's no question, geese can be a nuisance. They eat crops. Some of them become lazy and don't migrate any more and they become a nuisance. There's no question. No, they don't pay taxes, but if your only criterion for what we do in this province is whether or not you get tax revenue, then you've got a real problem because, frankly, I think it's pretty elementary to recognize that only people can pay taxes.

We haven't yet begun to tax the animals, the birds and the fish. That then would mean that the government does not give you any importance unless you pay taxes, then that means all of the other species on this globe are not important. That is an outmoded view. It is a view that humans somehow can exploit everything without any reference to what it does to other species. It's a silly position. It's not only silly, it's dangerous.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): And it's immoral.

Mr Wildman: Yes, it is immoral.

So we have a piece of legislation that now says planning does not have to be "in compliance" with provincial policy statements, but rather they should just "have regard for." We don't know what exactly that means, and there are arguments among lawyers about what it means.

We also don't even know what the policies are going to be because they are being changed, and the legislation is being passed before we see what they are going to be. We do know that they are probably going to be weakened in terms of protection. This is a cause of very serious concern.

If they are not going to be weakened, then why are they being changed? Are they being strengthened? Are we going to have more stringent controls to protect wetlands and ravines? Perhaps we should, I don't know. But if that's the way we're going then let us know, because it seems very likely that is not the way we're going. We have a number of endangered species whose habitat will be harmed if there are not provisions in the law that will make it a requirement for municipal planners, for municipalities to take their habitats into concern when making planning decisions. This piece of legislation does not require it.

It's been suggested in this debate that we on the opposition side are being unfair to the members of the government party, as if we are saying that they don't have any concern for the environment. Well, the last comment, "If you don't pay taxes, then you don't count," does indicate that, but I don't think those views are necessarily held throughout the Conservative caucus. I think it is quite possible and likely that there are members of the Conservative caucus in this Legislature who are concerned about the environment, just as they are concerned about economic development. But concern does not protect wetlands. It's the first step towards protecting them, but unless you have legislative teeth to enforce that concern, then those wetlands are in danger and all of the species that are dependent on those ecosystems are in danger.

This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue related to environmental controls that goes far beyond this jurisdiction. It's a global problem. But it's a particular problem in southern Ontario because so many of the wetlands have been drained or filled in and we have so few left. This legislation should recognize that and the policy statement should recognize it and ensure that what is left is protected.

We've changed from "consistent with" to "have regard to." I guess some people would think this is just semantics, just words, probably doesn't mean much. As a matter of fact, I've heard some members of the Conservative caucus say that, that the word changes shouldn't be of concern because there still will be protection and that "have regard to" is good enough. If you don't really mean a significant difference, then why are you changing them? If it means about the same thing, why change it? If it ain't broke, why are you fixing it?

I really do believe that it is the responsibility of all members of the House, and the responsibility of all members of society, to do everything they can, in whatever their roles, to protect the environment for future generations. We hear a lot of talk in this House that we've got to do certain things because we don't want to harm future generations; we want to protect the children of tomorrow. I can tell you that young people in our province today, in general, are far further ahead than most adults in terms of their recognition of their responsibility to protect the environment for the future. Perhaps if the rules were different and the pages in this place could speak on this kind of issue, we as members would learn a great deal about our responsibility to protect the environment for future generations.

There have been certain parts of the province where this has been a particular issue. I know that in Grey county, for instance, there have been very many land owners who have raised concerns about regulations that were in place that made it possible for the Ministry of Natural Resources, after doing assessments, to determine that there were certain features that were of scientific interest and should be protected, and that then put limits on what the private land owner could do with that piece of property. I can see why land owners would be very concerned about that.


But all of us recognize that we have, from the Niagara Peninsula right through up to the Bruce Peninsula, a world-class, world-recognized land form, the Niagara Escarpment, and that a previous Conservative government passed legislation to provide protection for the Niagara Escarpment. The same people who argue against the protection that I've been advocating also argue against the Niagara Escarpment Commission and say that it should not be in there, it shouldn't have a say in planning decisions in those municipalities because it limits what a private land owner can do, it adds length to the process and so on.

I'm happy to say that the member for Carleton, when he was minister, established the commission and has been supportive of the commission all along. I'm sure he would agree with me that we should not succumb to demands of municipal leaders or land owners in that area to give controls of development and planning on the escarpment to local municipalities, because that whole escarpment, that whole feature, from one end to the other, has to be planned for and managed as one entity. We can't have different planning rules for one part of it as opposed to another part of it or we will harm the integrity of that very important, internationally recognized land form.

I'm also concerned about the possibility of developments that would lead to significant urban sprawl as a result of this legislation and what that would mean for the future protection of farm lands. I come from a part of the province where we do have farming but we don't have the same heat units, we don't have the same quality of land that we have in southern Ontario. Ironically, some of the best farm lands, prime farm lands, class 1 and 2 farm lands are right beside large urban centres in southern Ontario, and unless we have protections and rules that require approval from the ministry that is responsible for farming and food advising municipal planners on what should be approved or not, we're going to have organizations like the Ontario Federation of Agriculture coming before us and saying: "Look, wait a minute here. We're not giving proper protection to farm land in this province." The Niagara fruit lands are a very good example of that. Significant farming area that is unique in Canada is threatened by urban sprawl, and this legislation is not going to prevent that. As a matter of fact, it's likely to make it probable that we are going to see urban development on those very important fruit lands.

What else does that mean? If we do have urban sprawl, more suburban development, that means extra cost for the taxpayers. My friend across the way was concerned about taxpayers. He should be. But if you have urban sprawl, that means you're going to have services required at much greater distances and much greater cost: water and sewer services, roads, busing, transit, all of these kinds of services which perhaps we could save on if we were to concentrate on infilling and proper planning that would require more concentrated development in urban centres rather than continuing to spread out over farm lands on the suburban fringes. It doesn't make sense to have this kind of development occur, even if the developers like it, if it's going to cost us a lot more to provide the services that those communities are going to require.

One of the ways to have more concentrated development is to deal with the really serious problem of apartments in houses. It's been suggested that our government somehow encouraged the development of basement apartments by the legislation that we introduced. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what we were doing was recognizing the fact that there already were about 100,000 of these apartments in existence and they were illegal. They were illegal because of regulations made at the municipal level, but they were still being developed and there were people living in them and in many, many cases they were firetraps. There weren't proper exits and it was dangerous for people to be in them. But because they were illegal, we didn't know, the municipalities didn't know, the inspectors didn't know where they were.

At least by making them legal, the tenant would not feel vulnerable in requesting an inspection, the tenant would not be thrown out if he or she went and requested an inspection. I recognize this is a serious problem, the development of illegal apartments. That's why we tried to take some action. You may disagree with the approach we took, that's fine. But tell me what you are going to do to ensure that the people living in these kinds of accommodations are protected, that they are safe, that they have proper fire exits and that more illegal apartments are not going to be developed if municipalities simply prohibit the development of these kinds of accommodations. It's not clear from what this legislation is or from the debates in the committee what you're going to do.

What I said about urban sprawl is supported by the Golden report. The Golden report found that taxpayers in the greater Toronto area could save about $1 billion a year if the province encouraged more compact urban centres in the GTA and did not allow for urban sprawl out on to the suburban fringe. That's $1 billion. This is a government that says it wants to save money. They want to cut expenditures. Well, here's a way you could do it.

I will close by simply saying that I really sincerely believe that it is the responsibility of all of us in this House to do what we can to ensure that we do not despoil the environment in such a way that it is going to make it difficult for future generations to live and work and enjoy the wealth of this province. I know that we will have disagreements, political policy disagreements, but I hope that all of us agree on that. If we do, then I want you to tell me how this legislation makes that possible.

How does this legislation protect wetlands? How does this legislation protect the species that are dependent on those wetlands, the wetlands that serve as their habitat? How does this legislation ensure that we will not lose more of that crucial resource in southern Ontario? How does this legislation make it possible for poor people who need accommodation to get it in our urban centres? How does this legislation protect farm land? How does this legislation ensure that we do not have more urban sprawl and the additional costs for services that it entails? How does this legislation ensure that we will not be one large urban centre right across the GTA and southern Ontario in a number of years with no farms, no crops being produced, or very little in small pockets here and there? How does this legislation do that?

If you can tell me how it does, if you can assure me that the policy statements will be stringent and will be adhered to by municipalities, then I can support it. If you can't tell me that, I'm afraid I will have to vote in opposition to this legislation.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I wanted to comment particularly on the environmental aspects of the comments by my friend the member for Algoma. The purpose of this legislation, as has been stated many times, was to give some balance to planning in this province. We believed, as many people told you when you were in government, that Bill 163 tipped that balance too far and that in fact Ontario's planning system became tied up with red tape. I know you will say -- I expect you will say -- "Oh, but now you've tipped it too far," and you'll mention about wetlands and -- I won't repeat your speech, because I've got a minute.


It is not our intention to pave over the province of Ontario. I don't know whether you've read the draft policy statement that was put forward in December 1995, but I'm going to read it to you, if I have time, because it does deal specifically with some of the areas that you're talking about with respect to wetlands.

"Natural heritage features and areas will be protected from incompatible development.

"1. Development and site alteration will not be permitted in significant portions of the habitat of endangered and threatened species, and in significant wetlands south and east of the Canadian Shield.

"2. Development and site alteration may be permitted in fish habitat, in significant wetlands in the Canadian Shield, in significant woodlands south and east of the Canadian Shield, in significant valleylands south and east of the Canadian Shield, in significant wildlife habitat, and in significant areas of natural and scientific interest, if it has been demonstrated that it will not negatively impact the natural features or the ecological functions for which the area is identified.

"Development and site alteration may be permitted on adjacent lands" -- and again, the whole emphasis is if, only if, the environment will not be negatively affected. Your line says, "No development at all." We're saying that's simply not acceptable.

Mr Bradley: One of the things I noted about the speech, one of the remarks that was made which is extremely compelling, was that which made reference to the Niagara Escarpment plan and the fact that what we will likely see is the Niagara Escarpment plan turned over to local municipalities. Mr Tilson, who spoke just now, the member for Dufferin-Peel, is an individual who is supportive of that particular plan.

My concern is this: you cannot give it to municipalities which are losing staff because of the tax cut, and subsequently the cuts that are being made to local municipalities as the province transfers financial responsibility, downloads, to the local municipality. First of all, they won't have the wherewithal to do it; they won't have the appropriate staff to do it. Second, they're much more inclined to grant exemptions to the intent of the Niagara Escarpment plan. There are people who would love to put ski resorts on the escarpment. There are people who would like to have a Holiday Inn up there, I'm sure, and there are lots of rich people who would like to have a lovely house sitting in the middle of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking the Niagara Escarpment.

If you apply it consistently, if you have one body, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, applying consistently the policy of that commission, a policy which evolved from the Honourable Norm Sterling, who was the minister responsible at the time the Niagara Escarpment plan was established and the commission was established -- if only we had that, we would be less inclined to be concerned about this bill.

If you turn that responsibility over to local municipalities, particularly those who are desperate for any kind of development, you're going to find out they're going to grant development, and something which has been recognized around the world is going to be lost to the province of Ontario.

Ms Churley: I'm glad the leader of the NDP caucus was able to take the time today to come and take part in this debate. I remember him well. The member for Algoma has been a very activist environment minister. I know I have learned a lot from him, and his knowledge continues to astound me -- not on everything, but particularly around environmental issues.

I want to comment on what was said in response to -- perhaps you will say it was just a joke, but I was quite offended by the remark by the member for Brant-Haldimand in response to the member for Algoma talking about how important it is that we don't kill or harm other species on our property. The member for Brant-Haldimand's remark was something like, "Well, they don't pay taxes."

Yesterday the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, in response to my remarks about this government going backwards in terms of environmental protection -- which in fact they are; they're deregulating to an extent that we haven't seen ever. Every other government has added on to environmental protection. These people are taking away from what we put in place over 20, 30 years, right under our noses, mostly in secret. What he said in response to that was, "We should be going backwards."

I know that these comments were made off the record, but I want them on the record, because these are the people who are in power now, who are governing our province. I want to say to the members, don't try to pretend to us that this bill has anything to do with environmental protection. I know that the member for Algoma was perhaps a little softer on that than I and said that if he could be convinced otherwise, fine. I sat on the committee on this. I tried to get the Minister of Environment to come and explain. This bill has nothing to do with the protection of the environment. Let's be honest about this.

Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): Two basic comments I'd like to make regarding this bill. One, it's quite evident from our opposition critics that they have very little faith, particularly the speaker from Riverdale and the last government, in terms of having any trust towards local governments. They immediately raise the spectre that most local governments will immediately jump as soon as a developer pops through the door, and we know that if you look at the history of development in Ontario, many, many times, hundreds of times, thousands of times, where the population of a municipality does not want a particular development in its neighbourhood and that council ends up voting for it, it gets taken to the OMB and in many, many instances the council loses out if they were pro-development; and I've seen the reverse.

So to simply state that this particular government as well wants to go backwards on environmental protection -- off the record I did not say that. If she would listen carefully, which she seldom does --

Ms Churley: I heard you.

Mr Hastings: You may have heard me but you don't listen when you hear, the member for Riverdale, and that's part of the whole problem with the previous government.

If you take the case of basement apartments, it's a prime illustration of where the municipalities proceeded to make many, many proposals through AMO and not through AMO. If you're going to have basement apartments, they said, "Let's at least have some minimal standards in order to protect single-housing neighbourhoods." Of course, if you look at the record, on parking, on protecting health, safety and fire, they rejected all of them. They simply said, "We'll make basement apartments legal and you'll have to go and get a building permit from the local municipality and everything will be fine." As you know, what we've ended up with is an additional epidemic of these things because of their incompetence in dealing with this issue when they were over here.

Mr Wildman: I want to thank my colleagues for their remarks and their comments.

The member for Dufferin-Peel argued that we should look at the draft policy statements and it would show that the government is intending to protect wetlands. While I might have some disagreements about the draft policy statement, I'll leave that for a moment and just move to the point that the member for Dufferin-Peel did not deal with, and that is the fact that the legislation itself moves from the term "to be consistent with" to "have regard to." So that change in phrase is what worries us. Even if the policy -- and we don't know; we don't think the policy statements are going to be strong enough, but even if they were, if municipalities do not have "to be consistent with" those, then they aren't worth much.

I appreciate the comments from the member for St Catharines with regard to the Niagara Escarpment plan. I know of his support and his support for our changes to the plan that made it stronger and I agree with him that it should not be transferred to the local municipalities.

The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale made some comments about this party not having any trust in local governments. I would say that's not the case, but I come from an area where we have very small municipalities. I have a lot of very small municipalities in my constituency and I know that many of those municipal leaders want and need assessment, particularly when they're in a period of cuts and they see the grants from the provincial level of government being cut. If they see someone come to them with a development that is going to significantly increase their assessment and increase their tax revenue, they are tempted to agree and to perhaps avoid looking at all of the aspects for protection.

I think that it is quite true that we're going to have a myriad of increases in OMB hearings as a result of the changes here, and that isn't going to speed anything up.



The Deputy Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Before I call for further debate on this bill, I'd like to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his office.

Senior Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals (Mr Alex D. McFedries): The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:

Bill 19, An Act to repeal the Advocacy Act, 1992, revise the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992, amend the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 and amend other Acts in respect of related matters / Projet de loi 19, Loi abrogeant la Loi de 1992 sur l'intervention, révisant la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement, modifiant la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui et modifiant d'autres lois en ce qui concerne des questions connexes;

Bill 32, An Act to fix the Indemnities and Allowances of Members of the Assembly at the Levels in effect on March 31, 1996 / Projet de loi 32, Loi fixant les indemnités et les allocations des députés à l'Assemblée aux niveaux en vigueur le 31 mars 1996;

Bill Pr24, An Act respecting TD Trust Company and Central Guaranty Trust Company;

Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the City of Scarborough;

Bill Pr43, An Act to revive 1092040 Ontario Inc.


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It's a pleasure for me to be able to rise and speak on Bill 20. I would certainly like to recognize the Chair, Steve Gilchrist, the parliamentary assistant, Ernie Hardeman, and the Vice-Chair, Barb Fisher, for just an excellent job in guiding us through this particular bill.

Before I get into the debate, I'd like to recognize some of the comments made by the member for Algoma. He referred to the loss of jobs and regulations. I can assure him that the reason for loss of jobs in connection with regulations doesn't have to do with quality regulations and specific regulations that are clear and well-clarified; it has to do with very complicated regulations, regulations that put people through an awful lot of hoops. That drives industry away and yes, those kinds of regulations do in fact cost jobs. This government plans to do something about it.

I was also interested in your comment in relation to the loss of wetlands and how many had been drained. I'm not too sure what part of Ontario you've been looking at, but with the increase in the population of beavers in this province, I see a lot more wetlands than I've ever seen before. I really have to question whether we've been losing that many wetlands, but I appreciate your point. I don't know about the rest of the world, but from what I've seen around Ontario, the reason amphibians are disappearing has to do more with the increase of blue herons than anything else. They consume a phenomenal number of frogs.

I'm very pleased to speak on this Bill 20. It's a bill that really has a lot of common sense. It's putting local control, empowering the municipalities -- which is where I think the power really should be for planning -- it's simplifying the approvals and it's speeding up approvals and making them more certain. I'm certainly very pleased to be able to speak and support this particular bill.

I'd like to refer for a few minutes back to the campaign and some of the things that were being said during that campaign. We had land owners, particularly farmers and also developers, extremely angry over Bill 163, the previous planning bill. They were concerned about the wetlands and the adjoining lands to those wetlands and how they had lost either use or potential use of those lands. They were using terms like "expropriation," terms like "confiscation" and terms like "stealing" their land, their rights to use those lands, and they wanted something done about that. This government is doing something about that concern.

They were concerned about the loss of local control, that municipalities should in fact have more responsibility, and we are empowering those municipalities. I believe that that responsibility for planning should be in their hands. This province is providing clear policy statements, statements that do have certainty. I, for one, and I believe most of my party, do have faith in the decisions made by municipal governments.

The public in rural Ontario were very concerned about what they called Toronto-based solutions for rural Ontario. They referred to the fact that the one-size-fits-all and cookie-cutter approach from Toronto from the previous government really isn't working, and they wanted some flexibility to be able to do something about it. They want their wetlands protected, they want their farm lands protected, and this is very credible. I respect it. We had many people coming to the hearings stating how they wanted to see these lands protected.

When I had the opportunity to question, the question I usually asked was, who pays? I think that's a very important question. Who pays? Who's responsible? Is it the land owner? Should the farmer have to pay to protect this wetland for everybody else in Ontario: people from Toronto, people from Windsor? Is it the developer? Is it the municipality? Is it the province? Is it the federal government? I can tell you that the province doesn't have money to be buying these wetlands. Or should it be some of the interest groups, the environmental groups? I don't have the answer, but certainly in none of those presentations made to us did those people have any suggestions as to who should be paying. Until we sort that out, it may be difficult to give really good protection to those wetlands.

My people, my constituents, expressed real concern over the time for approvals of applications. Many have said to me that putting in a subdivision application really wasn't for themselves, it was for their children; others got even more sarcastic and said it was more for their grandchildren. I'm told in 1946 the first Planning Act came in, that in Ontario we had five planners and it took approximately three weeks to get an approval. Today in 1996 with Bill 163, I'm told we have 10,000 planners and it takes three years to get an approval at the very best. That's hardly progress and being very timely.

I'd like to read a quote from the Oshawa-Durham Home Builders' Association, Feb 22, 1996: "The process was in such dire need of streamlining that our past president pointed out that the Second World War was fought in less time than it takes to run a parcel of land through the approval process of Ontario."

We have streamlined the process. We have developed tight frames. We've cut most of the time frames almost in half. We will no longer be held hostage by delay and indecision.

My constituents also were concerned about the uncertainty and the confusion in dealing with government with Bill 163, and this bill certainly exemplified that confusion. The Ottawa-Carleton Board of Trade had an interesting comment to make about that particular issue. "It was our opinion that Bill 163 is an interesting effort, and it's completely out of control. We have no doubt that the administrators were well-intentioned, but we frankly believe [Bill 163] is a recipe for disaster." That's the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Trade, February 21, 1996.

Bill 163, along with its policy guidelines and implementation guidelines, is too prescriptive -- some 600 to 800 pages of implementation guidelines. Many people arrived at our hearings carrying the implementation guidelines still bound in plastic and were extremely frustrated over being laid on with all of this intimate detail.

It even embarrassed Mr Sewell. When he presented to us, he was really concerned. He'd spent some three years, spent millions of dollars and then the government of the day really didn't pay that much attention to his report. They went on and did their own thing. Mr Sewell's comments were: "I know many people have been furious about these 800 pages that have been floating around that are now the implementation guidelines. I agree with them. They're crazy and they're not useful documents." That was February 12, 1996.


There are two items in this bill that I'm very enthused about. The first one is the one-window approach; in other words, the one-stop shopping through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. They can take their bill in, or take their request in, their application, it will be sent out to other ministries by that ministry, and any appeals will come back through. I'll suggest, I believe, that if the Ontario government cannot sort it out, why should we be asking the public to try to figure out which ministries it should go to? Why should we be asking the developers to figure it out, or some land owner that's never been through this ritual before? Why should he or she have to hire a planner at a lot of money just to sort out an application and try to obtain an approval? In the past when appeals came back, it could come from many ministries and they ended up at Ontario Municipal Board hearings battling it out between various ministries of this government. That is not going to happen in the future. It will be streamlined through the one-window approach.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario are certainly in support of that: "AMO believes that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is the province's lead provincial planning agency, and we do support making it the provincial ministry to file an appeal on a municipal planning decision in those rare circumstances where an appeal is deemed necessary. Therefore we should no longer see several ministries battling it out at the OMB, but rather the province speaking with one voice on a unified issue. The government is to be congratulated for attaining this critical feature." That comes from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, February 15, 1996, and it's really giving us support from all of the municipalities across Ontario.

I'd also like to spend a few minutes discussing moving ahead with the language, stating "having regard for" rather than "being consistent with," and that makes reference to the policy statements. I can assure you that we have strengthened the policy statements in a lot less pages, they will be clear and they will provide certainty to the public of Ontario.

I can assure you that the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Minister of Natural Resources and I are really committed to protecting the environment.

The Association of Rural Property Owners -- I'd like to give you a quote from them. These are the people representing rural Ontario: "...wishes to congratulate those responsible for drafting the new policy statement. We think that the designers have incorporated several important features, particularly questions about balancing the pursuit of economic goals and ecological goals; the flexibility in the application of the rules; the autonomy, the responsibility and accountability assigned to municipal authorities; and, above all, the concise way in which all this is packaged -- welcome relief." The Association of Rural Property Owners, February 21, 1996.

The rules for environmental protection remain strong, but the implementation of solutions to provide for that protection must occur at the municipal level. This bill gives municipal governments, the development industry and the public the tools to develop plans and policy that guide growth which is sensitive to the environment. Who knows best but those who are directly affected, those who are involved with that aspect of the environment? I say the responsibility should be with the municipal governments. I have great faith in our municipal governments, and many of us serving in this House have worked with municipal governments.

Clearly a position of my minister, and one which I share, is that a healthy economy can and must go hand in hand with a healthy environment. This is the approach which has been taken in this bill. We made our policies less prescriptive, recognizing the diversity and the needs of municipalities so that sound projects can proceed without compromising protection of the environment.

One of the biggest changes arising out of this bill was the return to "have regard for" in reference to the provincial policy. There are those who criticize us for removing the "be consistent with" provision, but I believe the "have regard for" wording has served us well in the past. It was the language that was used from 1983 to 1995, and I have every confidence that decision-makers and appeal tribunals such as the OMB will take due consideration of our policies and apply them to local circumstances.

I'm also confident that by getting the provincial government out of planning decisions, local citizens and those who are interested in protecting the environment will become more involved and rely less and less on government.

Our member for Riverdale certainly expressed some concerns earlier; however, our member did not go on the road with us. I understand it was for family reasons, and I respect that, but she was only hearing the presentations and the concerns of those people in the Toronto area and some who did represent provincial organizations.

It was refreshing to travel rural Ontario and hear some of the other messages and the other concerns. Our first day on the road was in Sudbury, and environmental issues were hardly ever mentioned. Their concern was to get severances from unorganized municipalities -- a very different message we were getting there. We travelled to the smaller community of Cobourg and again there was a different message. But the overall message was not surprising, was what I expected: There was indeed general acceptance for this particular bill.

I would point out there's been some concern expressed that environmentalists and naturalists are not going to like this particular bill. Well, they had a meeting in London, I understand, on the second weekend in March, and this is from the London Free Press: "Environmentalists, Naturalists See Bonus in New Ontario Law." "`Volunteer vigilance is what's needed -- local citizens who want to protect the land sitting at the table with city councillors and developers,' said John Riley, the federation's director of conservation and environment. `Decisions made with blood, sweat and tears by people who know the region best are the ones that stand the test of time'."

The article winds up: "The Federation of Ontario Naturalists is a non-profit organization whose 15,000 members support pro-environment provincial legislation and policies related to forestry, parks, wildlife and land use planning."

From the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which represents the farmers from across this province: "To prohibit orderly growth and development in rural communities is to deny those rural communities the opportunity to manage and direct their own destiny, so we are very supportive of the terminology `shall have regard to' versus `shall be consistent with'" -- OFA, February 26, 1996.

They expressed the desire and the need to have flexibility, because all of Ontario is not the same. Western Ontario is different from eastern Ontario, different from northern Ontario. The opposition will comment, I'm sure, about other local federations expressing concern about this wording. Yes, they did, and they represent their areas, and when those kinds of concerns come up and local municipalities are making a decision, certainly the local municipalities will take that into consideration.

In conclusion, I'm very pleased with this bill, very pleased with the acceptance it has received across this province. It's going to proceed and assist with planning, get jobs in Ontario, opportunities for workers, for youth. It's going to allow land owners once again to truly own their land and feel like they are the owners of their land. It's going to give some control locally, giving some empowerment to municipalities that have been very frustrated in the past over having so little power to look after planning issues. It's going to reduce the Toronto-based solution for rural Ontario, the one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach. It's going to speed it up, hopefully at least cut it in half. And there will be some certainty in the approval process; it will simplify approvals, it will simplify appeals through the one-window approach. And Bill 20 will bring common sense to environmental protection in the province of Ontario.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Christopherson: I didn't get an opportunity to listen to all the member's comments, but I certainly heard enough of them to offer up some thoughts.

Indeed I did travel with the honourable member to a number of the locations he mentioned, and let me say that I am as troubled today as I was when we were on the road listening to the public on this bill.

When we talk about "have regard to" and "be consistent with," again we hear one of the buzzwords of this government. I would urge the public to pay close attention when they hear the word "flexibility." Inside that word "flexibility" are all kinds of mischievous things, none of them, in my opinion, at all worthy of being characterized as helping or protecting the environment -- in fact, quite the contrary. "Flexible" to this government usually means that those who already have a great deal of influence and power in our society will be given a freer hand to do what they want because ultimately that's going to give this government the economic stimulation it wants -- total and complete abandonment of any kind of pretence of truly caring about the environment or worrying about the kinds of jobs they're creating. As I said yesterday: "Whatever kind of job comes along is fine, and if there are no health and safety regulations and decent wages and benefits, well, so be it. It just makes things that much more competitive."

If anybody has a doubt, all they need to do is think about the fact that when this government says it's protecting the environment -- God forbid, at one point, he even said they've got policies that are strengthening protection of the environment -- think about the fact that this is the government that has said to the conservation authorities of Ontario, "You will be cut by 70% over two years." There's no way common sense says that will protect this environment.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I just absolutely love it when a member of the New Democratic Party stands in this house and talks about the abandonment of protection. I congratulate our speaker, the member for --

Mr Galt: Northumberland.

Mrs Marland: Northumberland. Thank you. I was going to call him Mr Doug Galt, but I wanted, of course, to refer to him by his riding.

When we talk about a commonsense approach to environmental protection, I am thrilled as the former environment critic for our party for five years in this Legislature. What I have been ashamed of is the former government's total abandonment of environmental protection. The most classic example I can give you -- and that's why it's so interesting today to hear them talk about loss of wetlands. When they approved the building of 130 homes on the Toronto Islands, guess where they approved to have them built? Right in the wetland on the Toronto Islands, and they exempted the whole project from the Planning Act, the Municipal Act and, I would add for the benefit of the members opposite, the conservation act. Every single act that controls development for everybody else in this province was thrown out the window when they wanted to build their homes for their friends on the Toronto Islands.

I will just say in closing that the reason I particularly appreciate the opportunity to commend the member for Northumberland on his comments is the fact that within our family, we have one daughter who happens to be a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and is also a registered professional planner and is somebody who works in that profession. And yesterday she gave birth to her first son, a brother for her daughter, Rebecca. I use this opportunity to put that on the record.

Mr Sergio: Just to respond to both the two previous speakers, I would like to add on some of the comments which were made by the member for Prescott and Russell, actually, because he has touched on a couple of very important points, and one was discussed at quite some length yesterday, as a matter of fact, with respect to the environment. He says in fact that some of the subdivisions which are being proposed and approved in the small urban communities there, if you will, do not contain enough guidelines with respect to the approval process conditions when it comes to safeguarding the new subdivision from existing farming communities. Of course, we have to take into contrast the situation where you don't have, if you will, the barriers or the distances which may be from industrial to residential or farm land to residential.

That is one area that I don't think much attention has been given to when we speak of the environment. When we speak of the environment, we think of dust, pollution, lakes, rivers, and whatever have you. But let me say that there are a lot of problems with not creating an abatement when it comes to notice from residential subdivisions and other uses such as industrial and farm land, as specified by the member for Prescott and Russell.

The other one, of course, that he did mention quite eloquently was the laws which govern the second unit or basement apartments. I think we have created a particular problem with a large number now, because they've been grandfathered by this particular new law versus the others that won't be created because now the approval has been given back to the local municipality. So that's one area that I want to mention, and I wish had more time to allocate to that.

The Deputy Speaker: Comments and questions? The member for Northumberland has two minutes.

Mr Galt: I certainly enjoyed listening to the various responses, particularly from the member for Hamilton Centre talking about flexibility. I can understand why he would be concerned about flexibility and the direction that maybe we are going, because that certainly wasn't the experience that we evolved into over the last five years. It was sort of, you might say, their way or the doorway.

There was no choice; it was prescriptive. The local municipalities had no choice, had no way of plugging anything in. They could not look at the local issues. It was just locked in, prescriptive, and there was just no flexibility. That was what was frustrating the people of Ontario, that they were so locked in, that there was no flexibility, there could be no common sense to look at what the local issues were. Back to the Toronto-based solutions; that's where we were coming from for the last five years: Toronto-based solutions, the cookie-cutter approach, the one-size-fits-all to sell across Ontario.

I can tell you it didn't work in Sioux Lookout or it didn't work in Dryden; it didn't work in Timbuctoo. You didn't understand, you didn't appreciate and you didn't recognize their requests and their pleas when they came to you. We went out and there's been all kinds of consultation, particularly with the policy statements. We've spent a lot of time with the public on the consultations today. We've brought in stakeholders.

Mr Christopherson: When? Not public.

Mr Galt: It's obvious that the member for Hamilton Centre just doesn't understand that this has been involved. Maybe he could join with the stakeholders and be part of those presentations and input. Unfortunately, over the last five years, those stakeholders weren't getting that kind of input, and I think it's very important that you go out and you consult and you pay attention to what you're being told. That's certainly what we have been doing as we developed these policy positions.

The Deputy Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I wasn't going to respond to it. The member for Northumberland I think made a very reasoned and rational speech, but he keeps on repeating this sort of Toronto cookie-cutter approach and almost implying that it's the fault of the people in Toronto that we have planning problems in rural areas, that we in Metro somehow developed these planning processes.

I would like to let the member know that many of us who live in the Metro area have had as much frustration with Queen's Park as you have, and not only with the past government but with other governments. There is no, you might say, guarantee that the people of Ontario condoned everything that came out Queen's Park, whether it be an NDP or Conservative or even a Liberal government.

I think I should put that on the record, that there's no formula or no dictation that comes from the ordinary citizens of the city of Toronto. They certainly feel, in most cases, that they're left out of the process as much as anybody else by forces beyond their control.


I want to refer to an article in today's Globe and Mail that I think really puts this bill in a very good perspective. It's an article by Michael Valpy, and I'll read excerpts from it. I think he really hits zero on a lot of his points.

There's no doubt, as other members have said, and I know the member for Prescott and Russell has said, that there are some positive aspects to this bill. I'm not here to say that every part of the bill should be condemned, but I think what we want to do is ensure that the people of Ontario know how critical the decisions made in drafting this bill are to their future.

The first thing Mr Valpy refers to is that this bill "will ignore," he says, "studies from across North America on the costs of urban and rural sprawl: studies from a dozen US states, from Bank of America, from US municipal bond raters, from the Golden task force on the greater Toronto area and from the seminal Ontario study -- now eight years old -- on the revenue and expenditure implications of sprawling residential development," and the cost of that.

What I think Valpy is saying, and what a lot of studies have shown, is that one of the long-term costs of not doing good planning is the cost of duplication, that if you don't contain development in the proper urban envelope, what happens is that you have to build more bridges, more roads, more sewers, more schools, more hospitals, when in many cases you already have a developed urban form, or a nodal urban development in smaller towns, where those infrastructure are already in place. Therefore, new developments you put in perhaps in a contained urban form are much more affordable and fiscally responsible than new sprawling developments which can occur throughout very critically important agricultural lands or environmental wetlands or environmentally sensitive lands.

The message is very clear. You may make some money, if you're a small municipality, if you have a development on open green space; the assessment for that municipality will increase. But in the long run that municipality and the province and every taxpayer in Ontario will have to pay for the new sewers, the new highways and all the infrastructure that has to be put in place, not to mention what the cost might be of the removal from the economic stream of agricultural lands or the removal of recreational lands or the impact on environmentally sensitive lands. In fact, I think in the Golden report she mentioned that you could save about $2 billion a year if you had a contained urban envelope in the GTA, if you didn't allow people to build on all the green spaces from here to North Bay to the north, from here almost beyond Burlington. If you were really interested in saving dollars, you would ensure that there were constraints on development that encroaches on open space.

If you look at Bill 20 and at its sister bill, Bill 26, you'll see that the government we have now in Ontario is going in the other direction. It is basically saying that there's going to be less restrictions on development on marginal agricultural land or open green space. They're going to encourage sprawl; that's what it comes down to. The cost of that to the taxpayers of Ontario is going to be paid for generations to come, because there is space to develop and infill within our cities and towns right now. We should go out of our way even more so than what the existing legislation is to preserve and protect this very sensitive open space.

One of the things that concerns me too is that the name of this bill refers to environmental protection, that it's "An Act to promote economic growth" -- and I'll give the government that, that is obviously an intention of this bill, to try to do that. I commend them for trying to do that. But to say that it's also to protect the environment, I think that is a complete misreading of what this bill is all about. There are very few, if any, clauses that protect the environment. In fact, there are very few environmental groups that have supported any of the changes in this bill, because they know that this bill is essentially a bill that encourages development at the cost, at the price of the environment. This is, again, a price that all of us will have to pay, because you cannot replace what you lose in terms of green space and agricultural land; we know that.

The other thing that concerns me too is that in terms of the often-repeated phrase, "We trust in local and small municipalities and municipal government," I think we all have that trust. I know I served on local and regional government for nine years, and certainly we knew, I think, what was best for the people we represented, and that was the intention generally.

The problem is that you've put municipalities in a catch-22 situation. I was going to say catch-26. What you've done is you've cut their subsidies, you've cut the provincial grants by anywhere from 40% to 50%, and they are going to be cash-strapped. Many municipalities, not to say all of them, are going to be starving for assessment. So when development proposals come to them, in order to meet the cry from their residents for services, they are going to do whatever they can to approve developments. I say to you that in some cases these developments will be approved at the price of good development and good environmental and open green space protection. They will do that because they will have no other source of income, because you've cut most of their provincial grants. Maybe not this year but within two or three years from now we will see the price of Bill 20, and we will pay for that encroachment and those bad developments.

It's something that happens in all municipalities. I can remember in our municipality in the city of York there was a development proposal right smack dab in the middle of a park. The city of York has always been assessment-poor because we have very little commercial-industrial. So this developer said, "Hey, we are going to build two huge towers, and you won't pay a cent for them, but we have to build it in your park." Our municipal council agreed to do that, right in the middle of a park, because the municipal councillors were so eager to grab that assessment dollar.

That is the same type of thing that is going to happen down the road, because in essence what you're doing here is you've cut their grants and now you say to them, "Go ahead and find revenue through other sources." That is what, as I say, will happen in certain municipalities. This is the price of Bill 20.

The other interesting things in terms of environmental protection or protection of what's, you might say, beneficial in other areas besides the area of municipal affairs, is that Bill 20 basically says that the only ministry that's able, essentially, to appeal a decision to the Ontario Municipal Board is one: municipal affairs. That means that the concerns that the Ministry of Environment and Energy have about a development, will not be able to be brought to the table. All other ministries of the government have to listen to and take their guidance from one ministry when there could be a conflict between the two ministries. Natural resources and the Ministry of Agriculture cannot appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, and I think the centralization of that power into that ministry, giving them sole power to appeal, is not to the benefit of the people of Ontario and those people in Ontario who might be concerned about an agricultural issue, or ministry officials who may be concerned about an agricultural issue, or natural resources and mines especially, and certainly the Ministry of Environment. They should be given a place at the table. This bill takes that away and I think that sets a very dangerous precedent. You're putting too much power into one ministry and in a very sensitive and important area, especially in terms of appeal.


Another area in terms of Bill 20 is that this bill has an almost confusing aspect to it in terms of inner cities especially and the way it treats the ancillary apartments and basement apartments. We've got a government here that sees itself as somewhat of a libertarian, free-market-type government, yet it's going to ask municipalities to set up registries. In every municipality across Ontario they are going to set up registries where they're going to register each house or whatever it is that's got a second unit in it and they're also going to allow the municipalities to charge you for the registry and then possibly charge you for the inspection of that unit.

So they're going to keep this list. I know in the honourable member for Downsview's area it's going to be pretty difficult to determine, for instance, which units should be on a registry and which should not, because there are a lot of homes in North York and the city of York where there is a kitchen and there is a bathroom in the basement and members of the same family use that same unit. Sometimes the grandchildren or the children who are unemployed come back and live in the basement. I'm wondering whether that's going to be in the registry, how they're going to decide which is on the registry, which is not on the registry, and who's going to keep these lists.

I wonder whether the registry is a back-door way of maybe increasing property taxes for these homes that have these units that are registered, whether you're creating a new classification for higher property taxes because you're on this registry. I think it is totally contradictory to all the libertarian sentiment I've heard on the other side, where you're going to ask all these municipalities to register and tell you what you can and cannot do in your own home.

The issue of ancillary apartments or basement apartments is not an easy one. The last government tried to deal with it. It wasn't perfect. You're trying to deal with it. But I tell you, you've got to separate the issue of safety, and certainly we know about that issue and that's a critical one, from the one of what homeowners can do with their properties.

If there's a senior citizen who wants to have part of his or her home rented out because they want to stay in their home and they want to pay the mortgage, the government should not have the right to come in and tell them whether they can rent or not rent and that they have to pay this fee and maybe an extra tax just because they're trying to be independent and stay in their home.

In my area of the city, which is a very old area -- I'm talking about Metro as "the city" -- there are a lot of seniors like that, who don't ask for any government help but they want the government out of their hair, and this portion of the bill means that they're going to be inspected, they're going to be registered and their taxes could be increased because of this foolish registry system which you're asking all municipalities to do.

I know in my area the free market has worked very well, because you'll find secondary units in moderate, middle-income, working-class areas. They'll have an apartment upstairs, one in the basement, but in the well-to-do areas where people don't need that extra income, you won't find the basement or secondary apartments. So you don't have to tell people where and why and whether you have to be registered or not; it usually takes care of itself. This is overkill. This registry is overkill. It is not necessary and it's something that I think goes contrary to everything you've been espousing on the other side.

Why do you need this registry, especially when, as I said, what it really does is it also cuts down on a lot of potential affordable housing? This affordable housing, which has been in basement apartments or in second-floor flats, has been very beneficial in that it has allowed people to live in areas of cities where there are libraries, there are schools, there is public transit. So they come and live in the area. Rather than asking these people to go and live in Ajax or go and live in Wawa, or whatever it is, they live in the city where the services are already there. That's what these secondary units do. They encourage people to better utilize the infrastructure that's in place. That's why the encouragement of utilizing the residential commodity we already have is very wise from a financial perspective, because the cost, as I said, of pushing seniors, pushing people out beyond the fringe somewhere is a cost that we can't afford. This bill pretends to be one for economic growth; I think that's what their intention was. I do believe that. They were certainly sincere in that approach. They tried to really promulgate and encourage economic growth.

But I tell you one of the things you haven't done if you combine this and what you did in Bill 26: You haven't said that we should be contained in terms of our sprawl. That's not to say you can't build where there are good, buildable lots, do that, but I'm afraid what this is going to do is that in the years to come you're going to see that encroachment on those open spaces. When you do that, as I said, it's not only going to impact on the little agricultural land we've got left, but it's going to impact on the bottom line in this province. That is where in the long run the economic growth this will stimulate will be very short-term in terms of the bottom line and the revenues in this province.

Anyway, that is my main message. Again, I think there are many good things in this bill which deal with trying to get the thing to be more rational, an approval process. I think you did a credible job in those areas. But as I said, my concern is just in terms of what you're doing about sprawl and containing it. That's why I say to you, Mr Hardeman, that I think it's something you have to work on, because the cost down the road is going to be very great. I hope and I challenge you to meet that point that I made in terms of containing that sprawl for future conservation of our dollars and our open space.

The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): Questions or comments?

Mrs Marland: I'm surprised, actually, to hear the member for Oakwood make the comment that he does about the lack of appeal by other ministries on a plan of subdivision, for example. The fact is, and I would think that having been on council for nine years he would know this process, when a plan of subdivision is referred to the province for the final signature of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as is presently the requirement, before that happens, every application is circulated throughout all the ministries and all the government agencies. Therefore, if there is a concern by another ministry, it would register that with the minister who has to sign off on those plans of subdivision. Obviously, if there was a concern by the Ministry of Environment or Ministry of Transportation, their comments would be taken into consideration before -- they're the same government, these ministries are all within the same government, so obviously there isn't a concern as far as the appeal route is concerned.


The other thing that really concerns me is the fact that you almost support what the previous government did, which was to make basement apartments legal but give no right of entry to inspection by the fire marshal. This bill doesn't do that, but at least this bill makes the registration of ancillary units compulsory. At least we're taking a step in the right direction. I simply say to you, as the member for Oakwood, that if you really feel that you're representing your people, I would think you would be very concerned about people who rent basement apartments or any ancillary apartments without inspections because those are the --

The Speaker: The member's time has expired.

Mrs Caplan: The member for Oakwood raises some very significant flaws in this piece of legislation. He is quite correct that the approach that the government has taken towards second apartments and basement apartments does not lead to greater safety; it leads to greater bureaucracy, greater cost and ultimately, I believe, tax increases.

He's also raised the concern, and I think a legitimate one, that this legislation dilutes environmental protections. But more than that, it has said to municipalities that have had their transfer payments cut by over 40% that they must shorten the time lines for applications, and what that's going to mean is poorer planning at the municipal level. Every municipality, every planner that came before the committee said those time lines were impossible to meet, and so I would say to you that in an environment where you are reducing the resources to municipalities, the member for Oakwood is quite correct: This is not going to result in better planning. This is not going to result in environmental protection.

The notion of having registration coming from a government that is saying government should get out of your face and have less regulation can only mean that there is a hidden agenda to increase taxes for those people who have a secondary apartment as a part of their home. It does not offer protection. It means higher costs to municipalities. Bill 26 allowed them to levy all kinds of user fees and we know that their agenda is to make people pay more.

The other thing that the member for Oakwood mentioned that I think is a significant concern in this legislation is the fact that the Ministry of Environment and the government have not yet been clear in the establishment of their guidelines. Certainly this legislation is premature, because unless those guidelines are in place -- and you have taken away the requirement for municipalities to take into consideration provincial guidelines -- you are having a serious impact on planning in this province.

Mr Peter North (Elgin): I just wanted to touch on a couple of issues. I want to tell you that the people I've talked to in Elgin county -- and I've talked to a number of them -- everyone I've talked to has supported this particular bill.

I wanted to speak to one of the issues that the member for Oakwood talked about, and that's the costs of urban sprawl. I think it's interesting that we hear a lot about the issue of urban sprawl. We hear about it a lot in the country, and people don't always want it to happen, but the fact of the matter is that he was worried about the costs. He said that the people from all over the province would have to pay for those costs. It's interesting to note that when we build SkyDomes and when we build things of that nature, the people from all over the province have to pay for that as well. I just wanted to talk about that.

The second thing that I wanted to talk about was the issue of protecting farm land. I very much appreciate the member's perspective on the issue of protecting farm land. We value the idea that everyone across the province is interested in protecting farm land. The one thing that we feel strongly about is that if you really want to protect farm land, the most viable thing to do is pay what the food that's produced on that farm land is worth. We feel very strongly about that and I think that would lead a great deal to being able to protect farm land.

One of the other things that government can do is discontinue the idea of withdrawing and centralizing all of the services, because it does a lot, in terms of rural Ontario, to be able to maintain a certain level of services and not have them constantly withdrawn.

These areas that we talk about that are significant wetlands and are environmentally significant, it's important I think that we remember that although most of them are not in the city, they are in the country, the people in the country end up maintaining them and we have very little government support to do that. It becomes an extraordinary cost, and if we're not able to gain revenue in some way, shape or form, it will be a burden that we simply will not be able to maintain into the next century. So I hope that --

The Speaker: Time has expired. Any further statements or questions?

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a few more minutes of debate and I believe I'm next in the rotation.

The Speaker: I'm asking for any further statements or questions. If there are not, then the member for Oakwood has two minutes.

Mr Colle: I'm certainly thankful to the member for Elgin for pointing out the critical importance of agricultural land. Those of us who live in the city I think sometimes have as much or greater reverence for that open and good agricultural land that is left in this province, because we know how important it is. When you live in the city and you're cheek to jowl with people and you've got smog and you've got crowded parks, you know how important that is. We certainly treasure the great farm land in Ontario.

I want to say also with conservation areas, and that's what concerns us about this bill, there's a lot of people in my riding. We have the lowest per-capita income in Metro. Those conservation areas are like life and death to us, because most of our people do not have cottages, and so to be able to go to a conservation area in the Niagara Escarpment or whatever is something we treasure. We want to ensure that there isn't a blade of grass touched in our conservation areas, whether it be Black Creek or those other conservation areas. So we want to ensure that. That's why even though we live in the city and we may not understand everything about rural areas, we certainly appreciate them, believe me, because whether it's going for a vacation or the fact of the good vegetables we get on our table, we respect the dignity and the integrity of those agricultural lands.

In response to the honourable member for Mississauga South about appeals, just remember, what it comes down to is, will we know, as members of the public, who appealed or who disagreed with a change made by applications of subdivision? Will we know that? If the Ministry of Environment objected to something, will that be made public or will that be an internal debate between the Ministry of Environment and the Minister of Municipal Affairs? If you wanted to follow through on that, I think those objections -- maybe Mr Hardeman might do that. Get them on the table. When natural resources objects, and environment, put them on the table so we can look at them.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): We have some special guests in the Speaker's gallery, the family of Mr Stelling. We have his mom, his sister, his wife and his two sons.


Mr Hampton: Allow me to say just a few concluding remarks here in the time that is left. It will come as no secret that I am no fan of this bill. I sat for a couple of weeks on the committee. So allow me to say bluntly what's happening here.

This bill will not protect the environment. What it's designed to do is to allow developers and land speculators to make a quick buck. That's the primary intention. It is designed to clear a path for those in the development industry who put development first and environmental standards much further down on the list. If any environmental protection occurs, it will happen not because of the provisions of this bill but because people will put up a fight in a particular project and tie that project up with objections. In other words, protection of the environment will happen in spite of this bill, certainly not because of it.

We need to look at what's happening in some of the other contexts of this bill. The Ministry of Natural Resources is planning to lay off 1,500 people in that ministry: biologists, foresters, ecologists, water resource specialists. These are the people who ensure that environmental protection happens. These are the people who ensure that good conservation decisions are being made. If these people are not there, and in conjunction with a badly flawed bill, we will not expect much environmental protection.

The Ministry of Environment is expecting similar cutbacks, similar layoffs, with people whose expertise is to make sure wise environmental decisions are made. They will be gone too.

The Ministry of Agriculture is going to slash its budget by $156 million. The people we will see departing from the Ministry of Agriculture are the people who have some knowledge of rural and agricultural land and how that land ought to be planned for and cared for. So in the context of these cuts, this bill makes even less sense than looking at it at first blush.


Then you have the conservation authorities. Go across Ontario and you know that every conservation authority in the province has had to slash staff over the last six months and will have to slash their staffs even further in the next year. What it means is that another agency that ensures that good conservation decisions are made at the local level, that we try as best we can to make wise environmental decisions, won't be a player in all of this.

So what are we left with? Well, let me quote from the article that did appear in today's Globe and Mail, Mr Valpy. He says:

"Who benefits? The development industry -- or at least the buccaneer faction of it that doesn't want rules, that wants only anarchy where it can exercise its muscle and throw around its wealth, not caring to whose fingers it sticks."

There is not much logic, especially environmental logic, to this bill. This bill is all about making a quick buck and if the environment happens to suffer in the process, this government really doesn't care.

The Speaker: Is there any further debate? If not, we'll put the question. All those in favour of Bill 20 --

Mr Hampton: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I'm simply acknowledging that it's 6 of the clock.

The Speaker: I didn't know. Fine, it being past 6 of the clock, pursuant to standing order 34, the motion that this House now adjourn is deemed to have been made.


The Speaker (Hon Allan K. McLean): The member for London Centre has given notice of her dissatisfaction with an answer to her question given by the Attorney General concerning comments made by the Solicitor General. The member has up to five minutes, and the minister or parliamentary assistant will have up to five minutes to reply.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): In starting, I want to apologize to the Sergeant at Arms for keeping him late on his very last day. But this is a matter of principle and I know that the sergeant is a principled person and he will appreciate that this is a necessary question.

The question that I am dissatisfied with was a question to the Attorney General, and I said to him: "I would like to ask you what, in your opinion as the Attorney General of this province, you think is appropriate in terms of comments made by a minister of the crown in the face of a police investigation, a quasi-judicial tribunal or a court? Is it ever appropriate, and if so when, for a minister of the crown to deal with issues publicly that are in front of those bodies?" The Attorney General declined to answer that question. He simply went into his protection of his colleague the Solicitor General.

It is a very cherished principle that the Attorney General acts as an independent person within this place and his responsibility is to maintain the integrity of the administration of justice. Several attorneys general have spoken, either in the House, in front of committee or in other fora, about the importance of this role. Let me quote from Ian Scott in an article in the University of Toronto Law Journal from February 1989. He says:

"An independent Attorney General should bring to policymaking in government a particular concern for principle, for constitutionalism and for rights. The Attorney General has a mandate in government, apart from his prosecutorial role, a mandate to ensure adequate attentions to issues of principle.

"I believe it is the function of an independent Attorney General to bring the focus of justice to questions of politics. I believe it is wrong to imply that issues of principle cannot also be a primary concern of persons in the political process.

"Indeed, my claim is that an Attorney General's special responsibility must be to ensure that issues of principle remain a central concern in policymaking. An Attorney General's role, in other words, is precisely to ensure that democratic decision-making in our community takes into account questions of human rights and constitution."

He goes on to say: "Some observations should be made as we examine the role of the Attorney General in criminal prosecution. We try to keep in mind certain principles as we operate in the litigation context. First, there is the principle of independence from political considerations. Second, there is the importance of assessing what the law, including the Charter of Rights, requires in an individual case. Third, there is the determination of what the public interest requires. I include under this head a consideration of what may be required to maintain confidence in the administration of justice itself."

This goes on for some length and it completes itself by saying later on: "The Attorney General must be guided solely by considerations that are independent of his affiliation with a political party or a government. His decision must be based on his best assessment of what the law and the public confidence in it require. It necessarily follows, from his role as the chief law officer of the state, where that state policy is based on the rule of law, that confidence of the public in the administration of justice prohibits the use of criminal law for partisan purposes."

Howard Hampton, as Attorney General, in talking about a matter of conflict of interest in front of the justice committee, said: "It is a thing that the public expects of members of the Legislature, and certainly members of cabinet and parliamentary assistants, that besides satisfying the conflict of interest act, in all cases we have to be also able to satisfy ourselves. The test will be: What would a reasonable member of the public looking at this situation think, what would they expect and what in the long run will put all of us in good stead with the public?"

I said, in answer to a question in this House on June 14, 1993: "An extremely important principle of our justice system, whether it's before the courts or before licensing bureaus or tribunals, is that there be no political interference with the investigation or the consideration of evidence by those particular bodies from those of us who are elected officials, at whatever level. It is extremely important that when we set up procedures that ensure that due process is followed, no one as a politician be able to interfere in any way. An interference can constitute a discussion of evidence, a discussion of the possibilities of such cases. Certainly it's important for us to understand that the findings of a judge or anyone acting as a judge in a tribunal ought not to be subject to criticism by elected people, because that could infer political interference. So it's extraordinarily important that we, as elected members, maintain the integrity of the system."

What I am asking of the Attorney General is his statement of what he thinks the requirement is.

The Speaker: The Attorney General has up to five minutes for a reply.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): The member continues to refer to litigation, criminal prosecution, and none of that exists, none of that is on the floor, none of that is in front of anyone. To speak of these things --

Mrs Boyd: They are determining whether or not it's going to be.

Hon Mr Harnick: I know these five minutes are for everybody to have their opportunity to say what they believe the essence of the issue is, and I appreciate that the member from London wants to hear this as she shouts at me. But the fact is that there is no litigation, there is no criminal prosecution. What we have is a review of what in fact the law pertaining to this particular issue is. The law is that we have a police complaints commissioner who's charged with dealing with an investigation independently of the facts of what occurred here about two and a half weeks ago in and around the Queen's Park area.

In sum, a fair reading of part VI of the Police Services Act demonstrates that the Legislature intended to invest the police complaints commissioner and any subsequent hearing conducted by a board of inquiry with the highest degree of institutional independence, particularly from the Solicitor General. The only member of cabinet to whom the police complaints commissioner reports is the Attorney General. And even in the case of the Attorney General, there is no adjudicative role under the act. In all of these circumstances, there exists no reasonable apprehension that any comments made by the Solicitor General could have an inappropriate influence on the course of an investigation of complaints made against members of the OPP. Quite simply, we are dealing here with an investigation, an investigation being done by an independent body, by an independent individual.

We have a section of the Police Services Act that is totally administered by the Attorney General, not the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General has no duties whatsoever under part VI, where it pertains to investigations or hearings. The police complaints commissioner neither reports to nor is otherwise controlled by -- in any way, shape or form -- the Solicitor General. What we have here is nothing more than an effort to stretch the facts of this situation into something that does not exist.

I tell you, Mr Speaker, I have listened very carefully to the debate as it wound its way through this place in the form of points of order you have ruled on. I listened to that debate very carefully, and what I heard in that debate from the former Attorney General, one who holds these precepts so dear, in speech after speech after speech from her and from her colleagues, was a complete determination of what the facts on that Monday really were. They knew all the facts, they knew who was to blame, they were pointing fingers.

The one thing they dislike and the one thing that becomes abundantly clear as I listen to this day after day is that they can't take yes for an answer. They're getting a public inquiry, and the government is quite prepared in that public inquiry to allow a complete review of the facts as they pertain to that day, and interestingly enough, the police complaints commissioner is going to investigate any individual complaints that were brought before police forces that were involved on that day. I don't know what more you can ask for. What could be more open? What could be more in line with what an opposition would want? They are getting just that.

I remind the former Attorney General that in order to be in contempt of a particular proceeding, you have to be before a court. We're nowhere near that. It's an investigation.

The Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock next Monday.

The House adjourned at 1812.