36e législature, 1re session

L250a - Tue 25 Nov 1997 / Mar 25 Nov 1997















































The House met at 1332.




Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): Last evening Cornwall city council passed the following resolution:

"Whereas Bill 160 will cause irreparable damage to classroom education;

"Whereas Bill 160 will enable the provincial government to cut up to $1 billion from education;

"Whereas Bill 160 will eliminate up to 10,000 teachers, cut programs and close schools;

"Whereas Bill 160 will mean less time and individual attention for students;

"Whereas Bill 160 will allow unqualified people in our classrooms;

"Whereas Bill 160 will prevent principals and vice-principals from being members of their teachers' federations;

"Whereas Bill 160 will give the provincial cabinet dictatorial powers over education and give parents, trustees and teachers little say over local school programs;

"Therefore, be it resolved that the city of Cornwall council request that the provincial government withdraw Bill 160 and negotiate in good faith with the teachers' federations for quality public education."


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): It's with a great deal of pleasure and pride that I rise to announce to the House that the results of the election for the new president of the Ontario Federation of Labour are complete and Wayne Samuelson will be the new president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

For the people of this province who care about health care, who care about education, who care about our seniors, who care about the environment, who care about jobs for youth and all the other things that this government has attacked and destroyed, just as important as the election of Wayne Samuelson to the presidency of the Ontario Federation of Labour is the fact that immediately after that Paul Forder, the other candidate for president, rose in front of that convention and moved that it be a unanimous decision of all the delegates present at the Ontario Federation of Labour.

The government's worst nightmare has come true. They had hoped and prayed that there would be a divided labour movement because they knew that there was a serious race to follow Gord Wilson, but the reality is that the delegates at that convention know that they're an integral part of defeating this government, of taking this government on and bringing them down, and under the leadership of Wayne Samuelson, supported by people like Paul Forder, you are coming down and the OFL will be out in front.


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I rise today on a sad occasion. A man whom I'm proud to have called a friend passed away this past weekend after a difficult and courageous battle with cancer. The man's name is Heinz Paul.

As many members know, including our Attorney General, Heinz was the cofounder of FAD or Families Against Deadbeats. Heinz and his people were also the main resource for many of the changes to the government's Bill 82 and changes to the former family support plan. In fact, Heinz was present for many of our debates on this bill.

He was born in Vienna in 1928. A mechanist in the textile industry, he came to Canada in 1952 with his wife Hilde. They had a daughter, Reni, the other cofounder of FAD. They have two grandchildren, Andy and Samantha, abandoned by a deadbeat father.

FAD was born in Bramalea as a result of the experiences of the family. His strong belief in family values and magnetic personality enabled him to build FAD into what it is today: a group of over 200 families, most of them mothers.

We joked with Heinz quite often and told him he was a better contact to the Attorney General's office than we had.

Since being elected, there has been no one who has had such an impact on me as the spirit and the determination of Heinz Paul to do what was right for the children's sake. God bless you, Heinz.


Mr David Caplan (Oriole): I rise today to express the concerns I've been hearing at public meetings throughout my riding. My constituents are very concerned about the provisions in Bill 160 that allow for the violation of our children's rights to privacy and confidentiality of information.

Section 266 of Bill 160 provides for the collection, "directly or indirectly," whatever that means, of personal information on any student in the Ontario education system. The minister will do so through the Ontario education number. Collection, use or disclosure will require the production of numbers for administration, funding, planning and research purposes.

During the Bill 104 hearings, we saw this government compile dossiers of information on people making public presentations before the committee. It certainly makes one wonder about the motives of this government. Why does the government want this information? What will the government do with this information? Who has access to it? Why have they exempted portions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which would allow people to know that information is being accessed relating to their file? Finally, who will the minister appoint as his designate to oversee the collection, use and distribution of this data?

Until we have such answers to these critical questions, how can anyone in this House in good conscience support such a violation of basic human rights and the norms of protection of privacy?


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have with me here a very small sample of the enormous number of petitions that have been forwarded to me and to other members in opposition to Bill 160. These petitions are signed by residents of Mississauga, Elliot Lake, Newcastle, Peterborough, Etobicoke, Toronto and many other communities across the province, by thousands of residents who care about education.

Many of these petitioners of course are parents of students in our education system who are concerned about the future of education under the centralized approach the government is proposing in Bill 160. They are concerned that the real purpose of centralization is for the provincial Conservative government to gain control over the funding of education and the taxation for education in order to ensure that the government can remove another $1 billion over and above the hundreds of millions of dollars the government has already removed from classroom education.

The Tories made a commitment in the last election campaign that they would not hurt classroom education funding. They have broken that commitment. They are now ensuring that they will be able to get even more money out with Bill 160.



Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I am proud to congratulate Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Orillia for winning the Canada Award for Excellence. The staff, management and board members were recognized by the National Quality Institute on October 29 for outstanding work in creating and implementing quality and innovative patient care programs. As one staff member said, "Practising the art of nursing and treating individuals with kindness is an important part of care delivery."

Due to growth of information and modern technology, Ontario's rural health care system is being pressured to meet new demands for hospital, at-home and long-term care. Administer Glen Penwarden described it best when he said, "Eventually, people are no longer content to be average -- they want to be the best."

With a positive leadership attitude, former Health Minister Jim Wilson invited Soldiers' to apply to the Canada-Ontario infrastructure works program for funding assistance of a $3.6-million redevelopment project. Final approval has been given for approximately $3.6 million in assistance from the province, the federal government, the city of Orillia and the county of Simcoe. The official announcement is expected shortly.

Soldiers' adopted a flexible attitude, encouraging new partnerships and new approaches to expand services, add programs and present a balanced budget. I join my constituents in Simcoe East in extending my congratulations to Soldiers' Memorial for this outstanding achievement of excellence in health care.


Mr Richard Patten (Ottawa Centre): From day one, the Mike Harris government has argued that cuts could be made to education by streamlining administration. That was the argument when the Harris government forced school boards to permanently absorb the $425 million in "temporary" social contract cuts. It was the same argument used when the Harris government slashed provincial funding for education in 1995 and 1996 by $533 million.

When it was revealed that costs resulting from school board amalgamations would cost boards a minimum of $350 million, they were told that streamlining administration would offset the cuts. At the same time as these funding cuts, the number of students in the system has increased as much as 86,000 over the last five years. How were school boards told to handle the $350-million at minimum in the increase? Right on. Streamline administration again, they were told. Now the government wants to cut an additional $667 million.

So in summary we have $425 million for social contract losses, the increased enrolment of $350 million, budget cuts of $533 million, amalgamation transition costs of $350 million and next year's proposed $667 million. Next year the Harris government will have overseen reductions to education that will amount to well over $2.3 billion. How can the Premier believe that the quality of education will not --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Statements, member for Beaches-Woodbine.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I always feel such great pride and honour being elected to represent the community of Beaches-Woodbine. It is an amazing community to live in. It is an amazing community to be a neighbour in, to share with people, to work together, and I have always described it as being like a small town in the middle of a big city.

This last few weeks, that has been underscored for me again, as I have seen parents come together with their concern for the future of the education system and form a network of parents who are actively fighting Bill 160 and this government's agenda for reform. The East End Parent Network, which is comprised of parents in the riding of Beaches-Woodbine and the riding of Riverdale, joined myself and my colleague from Riverdale, Marilyn Churley, on Saturday as they kicked off the petition campaign calling for this government to hold a referendum on the withdrawal or the repeal of Bill 160. I am so proud and so amazed by the energy and the commitment of the people of our communities and have been so honoured to work with them on this incredibly important fight.

One of the people who was there said to me, "Our community has lit a small spark and that spark has turned into a bonfire across this province." Thousands and thousands of people are joining in this petition drive to call on this government to hold a referendum. The people don't want Bill 160 and they want an opportunity to tell you about it. Hold the referendum.


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): I rise in the House today to speak about the Bradford West Gwillimbury Good Neighbours committee and its ongoing public awareness campaign to encourage individuals to take personal responsibility for their community. This group was started in 1994 and organizes events and programs including a food drive where firefighters fill the role of Santa and police officers take pictures while children and their parents donate items for the food drive, and a buddy system for seniors in apartment buildings. This program encourages elderly neighbours to watch out for each other and to be aware if one of their buddies might need help.

Last Friday, November 21, a number of groups and people in Bradford West Gwillimbury received Good Neighbours recognition certificates. Some of those recognized include Generation Youth, a group of young people that organizes events and coordinates community efforts; Bill Markwick, who was honoured for his efforts to revitalize Bradford's downtown -- he personally grows and maintains the flowers along the main street and in front of heritage buildings; and Bea Poxson, who was honoured for her long-time involvement with minor baseball. Also honoured were Mrs Annie Cooke, a 90-year-old whose policy of an open door and a cup of tea is a cheerful aspect of the community, and Janet Evans for her work with the physically disabled.

Mrs Sylvia Luxton is the spirited leader of this band of involved individuals. I would like to thank all of the volunteers whose efforts make Bradford West Gwillimbury a good place to live. It is individuals like these who in turn make towns like this a proper place to live.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce in the Speaker's gallery a member from the 35th Parliament, the member for Yorkview, now the member for Ward 6 in the new Metro megacity, Mr George Mammoliti. Welcome.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the 1997 Annual Report of the Provincial Auditor.



Mr Eves moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 164, An Act to implement job creation measures and other measures contained in the 1997 Budget and to make other amendments to statutes administered by the Ministry of Finance or relating to taxation matters / Projet de loi 164, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre des mesures de création d'emplois et d'autres mesures mentionnées dans le budget de 1997 et à apporter d'autres modifications à des lois dont l'application relève du ministère des Finances ou qui traitent de questions fiscales.

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

Mr Eves?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I have no further comment at this time. I'll be making a statement during ministerial statements about the bill.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of the Environment, Government House Leader): I would ask for unanimous consent to waive notice to move a motion to appoint the interim Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Is there unanimous consent to do so? Agreed.

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that an humble address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:

"To the Lieutenant Governor in Council:

"We, Her Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, request the appointment of Ann Cavoukian, current interim Information and Privacy Commissioner, to act as interim Information and Privacy Commissioner until May 30, 1998, or until the Legislative Assembly appoints a permanent Information and Privacy Commissioner, whichever is earlier."

And that the address be engrossed and presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council by the Speaker.

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




Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): Leading up to the 1997 budget, we talked to Ontarians and they told us what was needed to help business grow and to keep Ontario as a competitive jurisdiction. On May 6 of this year, I presented a budget that invests in Ontario's future by building on and strengthening our economy, by investing in children and in families and in jobs. At that time I announced support for child care, small business, research and development, new technology and cultural industries.

Since the budget, we have continued our consultations and Ontarians have provided us with more good ideas. We listened to them and we are responding.

The bill I am introducing today, if passed, not only delivers upon our budget commitments but reflects the enhancements that Ontarians told us would further create economic growth and employment in Ontario. In addition to the budget initiatives, the bill introduces a number of technical amendments, housekeeping measures and initiatives that parallel changes to the federal tax administration.

During the last 10 years, two out of every three jobs created in Ontario were created in the knowledge and technology-based industries. Leading-edge technologies are a key to creating more well-paid jobs for Ontario's youth.

The legislation I am introducing today extends the leading-edge technology component of the cooperative education tax credit to include approved apprenticeships and private sector vocational programs. The legislation also increases the Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit to 20% from 15%, to further encourage companies in this growing and dynamic segment of the film and television production industry to expand and create jobs here in Ontario. This tax credit will help ensure the talented people trained here in Ontario have opportunities to work here in Ontario.

In addition to these tax credit enhancements, this bill would deliver on our commitment to strengthening Ontario's research and development competitiveness and forging stronger links between the private sector and Ontario's post-secondary research institutions through the Ontario business-research institute tax credit.

The Ontario new technology tax incentive would encourage acquisition and commercialization of new technology by allowing firms to deduct immediately the costs of new technology acquired, as we promised.

The small business sector is the engine of Ontario's economy and an important job creator for our youth. We recognize that and we are enhancing our budget commitment to ensure that small businesses receive the necessary incentives to provide Ontario's young people with jobs. As such, this bill, if passed, will increase the tax credit rate for small business for both the graduate transitions tax credit and the cooperative education tax credit.

To help small businesses get greater access to financing, we listened to stakeholders' advice on making the community small business investment fund more attractive.

This bill would provide further support for small businesses by enhancing and simplifying the small business investment tax credit for banks, trust companies, credit unions and caisses populaires that allow these financial institutions to earn back their tax when they invest in or lend to small businesses.

This bill recognizes the important contribution of our domestic film and television industry to our economy. Not only am I pleased to tell you today that this bill implements the 1997 budget proposal to increase Ontario's domestic film and television tax credit rate to 20% from 15%; I am also pleased to announce that legislation will be introduced in the future to expand eligible genres and remove caps on size of production and credit totals. These changes would significantly expand the amount of eligible Canadian content production that will qualify for Ontario's tax credit and help ensure that Ontario continues to be a leading film and television production centre in North America.

Furthermore, we will be consulting with the federal government on the 48% cap on qualifying expenditures for the domestic film and television tax credit in an effort to work in concert as we harmonize Ontario's film tax credits with the federal system. In addition, Ontario will also be reviewing existing caps under the computer animation and special effects tax credit.

This bill proposes further support for Ontario's cultural industries by expanding the book-publishing tax credit to include educational textbooks and the first-time illustrators of children's books.

To help Ontarians take advantage of opportunities opening up around our province, the bill also supports lower-income working families who are not benefiting from the current child care funding by implementing our budget commitment for a child care tax credit. This tax credit would be a new investment of $40 million to support lower-income working families and their children. About 90,000 families and 125,000 children would benefit from the 1997 tax credit.

We remain committed to ensuring that Ontarians receive high-quality services in a cost-effective way. If passed, this legislation delivers on our commitment to reduce costs and make sense of the division of provincial and municipal responsibilities by returning property assessment to municipalities where it can be done more efficiently.

After a quarter of a century of the province running this local tax base, local governments would control and manage it. With the completion of the province-wide assessment, there is no better time for this action than now. These measures are part of the government's plan to make Ontario the best place in the world in which to live, work and invest.

These 1997 budget initiatives build on the many initiatives we have already implemented to create a climate where investment and initiative are rewarded in an atmosphere of confidence and hope.

We came to office just over two years ago knowing that the private sector was the primary economic engine of Ontario and that it was our responsibility to motivate entrepreneurs to invest and create jobs here. This is what we are doing by cutting taxes, eliminating barriers to growth and very simply providing the private sector with the tools it needs to invest, compete and create jobs for the people of Ontario.

Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): The real purpose of the bill is to set up the assessment corporation. I would just say that here we are, five weeks before the start of a new year, the Ontario assessment system is changing like never before and, in typical Harris fashion, we still don't have the corporation set up, the organization set up that's supposed to handle this. So today, finally a bill comes forward, but the municipalities are going to pick up $120 million of costs that used to be handled by the province; they now will be on the property taxpayers. It's introduced five weeks before this corporation is supposed to begin working. It's like setting up a huge organization five weeks from now and you've just finally introduced the legislation.

I would say to the minister, it's mismanagement. The municipalities should have seen this months ago. They're going to want to have some input and some discussion.

Hon Mr Eves: It's their proposal.

Mr Phillips: The Minister of Finance doesn't like to hear this, but you should have --

Hon Mr Eves: It's their proposal.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Finance, come to order.

Mr Phillips: There he goes, he's yelling now, but you should have brought this forward. It's mismanagement. I used to be in the private sector and the private sector is laughing at you when you set up an organization in five weeks.

The second point I'd make is the public is now aware that Mike Harris wants to set $6 billion of property tax with the stroke of a pen, by regulation; no legislation, nothing. What we have today, and I think the public understands it, is a bill designed to deal with probably about $30 million of taxes. So no bill, no legislation on $6 billion of property tax, no opportunity to debate it, but something that will cost the taxpayers about $30 million in taxes. We have this, and that's good, that's how we should deal with tax measures, through legislation.

But no, Mike Harris doesn't want to give the public any input into $6 billion worth of property taxes. We could not have had a more dramatic demonstration. Two days from now Mike Harris will want to force through Bill 160, ram it through here, giving himself the power to set $6 billion worth of taxes by regulation, and yet two days before, there's what we're dealing with, that bill. We must debate that bill. People must have a chance for input. We should have a chance to vote on it, and that's right.

But what more dramatic illustration of the reason we should be dealing with Bill 160 tax measures through legislation than the government itself today, red-faced, bringing forward legislation dealing with, as I say, maybe $30 million of taxes but refusing to give the public any opportunity to debate the legislation on $6 billion worth of taxes?

I think the public understands. Five weeks before a huge corporation is to be set up, frankly to try to correct the mess this is going to be, and rammed through, I gather, in five weeks -- but we do not get any opportunity to debate $6 billion worth of Mike Harris's property tax bills.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): This is a government that likes to boast of its financial expertise. They like to tell us that they manage their affairs well, that they're the taxfighters. Well, today the Provincial Auditor released a report which puts a bogus to that theory.

Listen to how they manage their own affairs. The Provincial Auditor today released a report, and the report on just one ministry alone is telling. We don't have time to go through all of them, but just look at what they've done with respect to the backlog in the courts. Despite all their promises, despite all their actions, the backlogs in the courts have almost doubled, that is, the critical ones that risk being thrown out of court. That means that alleged rapists, alleged thieves, individuals who will not be heard, cases that will not be tried, all stand to be thrown out of court.

Worse, the Provincial Auditor documents that there are $316 million worth of fines that this government has not collected. In two years they have not collected one cent of these fines, money that could have been used to implement the tax cut of which they're so fond. They're busy cutting social services, education and health care instead of going after the money that is legitimately owed by offenders to this government. What the Provincial Auditor has demonstrated today is total bungling, total mismanagement. They've finally been exposed for what they are.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I want to respond to the statement by the Minister of Finance because there is so much that is unsaid. First of all, this bill is about a number of so-called tax credits. I want to go into why the government has to bring this forward at this time with such urgency.

You see, part of this is about training, about a training tax credit. Well, there was a program in Ontario called Jobs Ontario Training which a lot of people in the private sector were able to access for the purpose of training. This government, that thought it knew everything, wiped that out. Now what are they discovering two and a half years later? They're discovering that many of the new industries, if they're going to locate in Ontario, need some money dedicated to training, especially to training young workers.

This government has created a mess by wiping out training funds in the first three months they were the government. They're now having to run around and backtrack and put in place a tax credit to provide for training, because training is intimately tied to the new industries, whether the new industries are biotechnology or whether the new industries are information systems and telecommunications. You have to have access to training if we're going to get our share of the new industries. This government is rushing in today because it's trying to cover up the mistake it made by cutting training funds two and a half years ago.

Then there is reference here to money for the film industry. This is the government that two and a half years ago wiped out any programs intended to assist in bringing the film industry to Ontario and helping the film industry broaden in Ontario. That's what you did in your first six months in government. Now you're here trying to cover your tracks.

Also, we see reference to book publishing. In the first six months, this government virtually devastated book publishing in this province. Then there is reference to the other cultural industries. In the first six months of your government, you virtually decimated anything intended at helping the cultural industries, which are huge creators of new jobs. You virtually devastated any chance they had to get started in this province.

To give you a sense of the magnitude of the mistake this government has made, four years ago Ontario was one of the provinces that was in the lead in terms of biotechnology. Today, two and a half years later, Ontario is fourth. Quebec leads, British Columbia is second and Saskatchewan, little Saskatchewan, has edged out Ontario in terms of new biotechnology.

This is all about this government trying to cover up the ridiculous mistakes it made in its first two and a half years as government. But it's about more than that. This is the Conservative Party brag: that they were going to create 725,000 new jobs in Ontario in their first term as government. They'll be lucky if they get halfway. Ontario lost jobs last month, and I suspect one of the reasons we're seeing this bill today is because the job numbers for this month are not too attractive. This is again a desperate move by this government to try to say something good about a job picture that has not been very good at all.

Finally, let me deal with the issue of taxes. In the next week, this government is going to force through Bill 152, the downloading bill, which essentially will force $1.5 billion in new costs on to municipalities, and they'll force through Bill 160, which will mean a $6-billion tax levy by this government. We have in effect tax and fiscal moves of $7.5 billion by this government, and they either want to have no debate on it or they want to limit debate on it. Then they bring forward this.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Minister of Finance. After weeks of silence, you admitted in this Legislature that some Ontario businesses are going to see their property taxes increase as a result of Bill 160. That was a very important admission for the people who run businesses in Ontario to get hold of.

As you might imagine, they are in a constant state of making preparations, drawing up budgets and making business plans. They need to know how many people they can hire, they need to know who they're going to have to lay off.

Yesterday you didn't have the answer to this question, so I'm going to ask you once again. Which businesses in Ontario are going to experience property tax increases as a result of your Bill 160?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): As I said to the leader of the official opposition yesterday, on an individual basis there will be winners and losers as a result of the new property tax system, but the total bill for business with respect to education will not be going up. The total amount of the bill will not be going up. I know he finds that difficult to believe, when for 10 years the two previous administrations saw property taxes in this province rise by 82%. I know it's hard for him to comprehend that they will be frozen now, that they will not be going up, but that is the case.

With respect to individual businesses and individual municipalities, when the assessment information is entirely complete and the reassessment is done, which will be done by the end of this year -- by the end of this week it will be 80% complete; by the end of this year it will be 100% complete -- we will be sharing that information with municipalities and they will be able share that on a property by property basis with their taxpayers.


Mr McGuinty: It's important to understand what this Minister of Finance is saying. He's telling us that he's about to invoke a measure, he's about to pass a law in Ontario on behalf of the Taxfighter government, which is going to increase property taxes for Ontario businesses. That's exactly what you're going to do.

Hon Mr Eves: No, it's going to keep them the same.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister of Finance, you get an opportunity to answer the questions.

Mr McGuinty: With great fanfare this minister just stood up in this House and told us in the most grandiose way what he's going to do to encourage business development in Ontario. On the other hand what he's doing is putting into place, through Bill 160, the means by which he's going to increase property taxes for our businesses. You can't have it both ways. You were going to fight taxes. You were going to bring them down, and now what we're talking about is increasing them. Tell me, Minister, where do you get off as the Taxfighter increasing property taxes for our businesses?

Hon Mr Eves: To the leader of the official opposition, I know this is a difficult concept for him to comprehend. We are freezing business taxes on property in the province of Ontario. Understand that. The combined administrations of David Peterson and Bob Rae raised the revenue generated by those same property taxes 120% in 10 years. We are stopping that. We are freezing it. It's not going up. I know you find that hard to understand but that's the reality. We're not going to ask business to pay more. We're freezing their tax rates.

Mr McGuinty: Now that the minister and I agree that he's about to increase property taxes for Ontario businesses, I want to talk about --


Mr McGuinty: Now that we understand that one of the ends of 160 is going to be to increase property taxes for Ontario businesses, let's talk a bit about the process. Your Minister of Education said it was wrong for government to raise taxes behind closed doors by the stroke of a pen. He said that if we're about to do that kind of thing that should be brought into this House so it can be the subject of debate and where we can vote on it. That's what your guy, the Minister of Education, said. I'm wondering now if you, as Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier of this province, happen to agree with this minister, because I do. Do you agree with him? Whether or not we're going to raise $6 billion in taxes, should that not be the subject of a debate in this House?

Hon Mr Eves: We have been debating Bill 160 for many, many weeks. We are debating it in the House. He's doing it right now as he speaks.


The Speaker: Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: We are not raising business property taxes with respect to education. The total amount will not go up. I know that's difficult for the leader of the official opposition to understand, but it's the truth.

Also, with respect to municipal property taxes on businesses, we're leaving municipalities the option to charge a lower rate for smaller commercial properties -- something your government never did -- to help out small business in the province of Ontario. Your legacy of the David Peterson government was an employer health tax, a payroll tax to hurt virtually every single business, especially small ones in Ontario. You introduced the commercial concentration tax in the greater Toronto metropolitan area and you raised taxes 33 times in five years. We've lowered them 30 times in two years. Where do you get off talking about anything to do with taxes?


The Speaker: Order, thank you. Member for Brantford, thank you, and St Catharines. New question, official opposition.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Leader of the Opposition): No more holidays for the Minister of Finance. I can't sustain it, Speaker.

I'm going to move on to the Minister of Education. You will know that we have raised a number of questions in this Legislature until we are blue in the face which you have been unable or have refused to answer with respect to Bill 160.

We don't know which businesses are going to have their property taxes increased as a result of Bill 160 and we don't know how much their property taxes are going to go up. We don't know how many hundreds of millions of dollars specifically you're going to be taking out of the system of public education through Bill 160 and we don't know how many fewer teachers are going to be available to teach our students.

I want to come back to that last one, one more time, and I want to give you this opportunity once again as we go into the home stretch on Bill 160: How many fewer teachers are going to be available to teach Ontario students as a result of your Bill 160?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): Yesterday I answered this question and I'll say the same thing today. That is a decision, in terms of the staffing, in terms of the appropriate number of teachers in each school and each board across the province of Ontario, that has been made by the respective boards and it is a decision that will continue to be made by the respective boards.

One thing I'll say: As a result of the changes brought in by this government, there will be fair funding to each board and to each school right across Ontario. That will guarantee the fair and appropriate number of teachers in each and every school in each and every board right across Ontario.

Mr McGuinty: Everybody understands that you want fewer teachers in Ontario schools. There is no debate about that. Let me tell you somebody in particular who understands this only too well, and that's a former teacher. In fact it's Julia Munro, the member for Durham-York, who said: "The concern remains that there will be fewer teachers in the high schools teaching the same number of students. The education system cannot be enhanced unless there are enough teachers to meet the needs of students through quality instruction. This is the position I am actively advocating with my caucus colleagues at every available opportunity."

I want to support her in her efforts to make you understand, Minister, that we cannot improve education by reducing the number of teachers who are available to teach our students. I am going to ask you, will you listen to Julia Munro and will you listen to parents and to students who are telling us that we simply cannot improve education in Ontario by reducing the number of teachers who teach our students?

Hon David Johnson: My answer is clearly yes, I do listen to the member for Durham-York, Julia Munro; I do listen to parents. What I hear from the member for Durham-York and from parents is concern for our education system, concern that has been expressed over many years, many quality improvements that should be implemented, quality improvements that will come through Bill 160. Through Bill 160, we ask our teachers to spend the same amount of class time in the classroom as teachers do in other jurisdictions in the elementary system and in the secondary system. Is there anything that's not fair about that?

Through this whole process each and every school and each and every board will get a fair amount of money to establish the excellence in education, the kind of programs that Julia Munro wants to see, that I want to see and that our parents want to see.


Mr McGuinty: We have been around this now a number of times and I'll keep coming back to it again and again in the hope that you are going to see the light and that when it comes to Bill 160 you'll recognize what it's really all about. It's not about improving education in Ontario; it's about taking money out of the system and it's about having fewer teachers available to teach our students. That's what Bill 160 is all about. Everybody today in this province has come to recognize that.

You have had criticism from your own members of your own caucus. You have had criticism from members of your own cabinet. You yourself, Minister, have criticized your own bill. You're shepherding this through the Legislature and I think it may be the only case in history where a minister has stood up in this Legislature and agreed and disagreed with the contents of his bill.

This is my last question for you today; you can relax. Will you just stand up here and now and tell us this isn't about improving education; it's about taking money out of the system and it's about having fewer teachers available to teach Ontario students?

Hon David Johnson: I'm sorry to hear this is my last question of the day from the leader of the second party, particularly since he's going blue in the face on this particular issue. What this government has said over and over again, what I will say over and over again, is that this bill is about three things. It's about establishing quality in our education system. Is it not adding quality to our education system to ensure that the average class sizes do not, as they have in the past, go up, to ensure that the class sizes do not increase? Is it not adding quality to ensure that our students have access to the same number of instructional days as students do in other jurisdictions?

It's also about accountability, accountability back through to the parents and the community in which the schools are located to ensure that the school councils are involved. And yes, it's about efficiency in the system because we expect the Ministry of Education and every ministry to be involved in solving our financial problems for the sake of the --

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. New question, leader of the third party.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is also for the Minister of Education and Training. Section 207 of the Education Act makes it illegal for boards of education to do what you are trying to do under Bill 160. Under section 207 of the Education Act, before a school board sets a property tax rate, a recommendation has to come forward at a public meeting. Following that meeting there has to be time for public debate, for scrutiny by the public, by parents and by ratepayers. Then they have to go to another public meeting in order to pass or set that tax rate.

It's an accountable process; it's an open, public process. Why are you trying to avoid that public scrutiny? Why are you trying to avoid that public process? Why are you trying to move the setting of tax rates behind closed doors?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I refer this question to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I appreciate the fact that the leader of the third party has just enunciated that we are debating Bill 160 here in the Legislature. We have been debating it for many, many weeks. With respect to the exact rate and ratios with respect to taxation, those cannot be set -- as I explained to the leader of the official opposition yesterday -- until all assessment information is in in the province of Ontario. It will be in within a month and a week. We will then be able to set those rates. But I can assure him of one thing, that the total amount of tax revenue that's raised by that rate will not go up.

Mr Hampton: The minister tries very hard to miss the point. What you've talked about in terms of freezing the tax rate is nowhere in Bill 160 -- nowhere. Quit trying to put that across to the public. Quit trying to call this debate about Bill 160 a debate about setting the tax rate. The tax rate, under Bill 160, can be set by you by quietly passing a regulation. That regulation will not be open to any public inspection, any public debate, open to any exercise of the democratic process. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid that having a democratic process around the setting of the tax rate will give parents a forum where they can come and ask more embarrassing questions of your government, questions you can't answer? Why are you taking something that is public and open and subject to the democratic process and trying to ram it behind closed doors? Don't you have any respect for democracy?

Hon Mr Eves: The leader of the third party knows full well that Bill 160, as he said, provides for the setting of the rate, and he's correct with respect to the Minister of Finance having the ability to set the rate.

Mr Hampton: Behind closed doors.

Hon Mr Eves: Not behind closed doors. Regulations, with all due respect, are subject to public scrutiny and they will be subject to public scrutiny.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Wentworth East, would you please come to order.

Hon Mr Eves: As the leader of the third party understands -- at least I hope he understands -- the province is assuming responsibility for the public education process in Ontario. We are going through a transitional phase. It will be necessary for us to wait until we get all the factual and assessment information in this year to be able to set the rate. I have guaranteed to the people of Ontario that that rate will not raise any more money than is currently being raised in education taxes today. After that is done, as my colleague the Minister of Education said last week and has said on previous occasions, as recently as yesterday, we'll be looking at a part of the legislative process to do it in future years. He might want to ask himself why the province of British Columbia, with his good NDP friends, has had this system for years and intends to keep it.

Mr Hampton: The minister refers to something that the Social Credit government brought in in British Columbia. I regret to say it will take us a long time to correct every mistake you've made too.

Let me try to help the minister out. Let me tell him what's really going on here. This minister and other ministers of this government are trying to do this behind closed doors because they want to be able to blame the municipalities. The reality is that people's taxes will go up because of Bill 106, the plan to reassess every property in the province. People's taxes will go up because of the downloading under Bill 152, which will dump another billion dollars on to the property tax. People's taxes will go up because of the megacity; the additional bill is $150 million and counting. Taxes will go up because of what you're going to do under Bill 160.

The new motto of the Conservative Party is: "First you drug `em, then you mug `em." Admit it, Minister. Mike Harris has gone from being the Taxfighter and he is now the tax mugger.

Hon Mr Eves: We are trying to control property taxes on education in Ontario. As I alluded to earlier in my answer to a question by the leader of the official opposition, your party and theirs saw huge, dramatic increases in property taxes in the province: 82% over 10 years; 120% in terms of the revenue generated from that in 10 years. You increased taxes 32 times and they increased taxes 33 times, both in five-year periods of time. We have to stop this rampant education tax increase to the taxpayers of Ontario. They can't afford to have their taxes raised 120% when enrolment goes up 16%. We are going to ensure that does not happen, much to your displeasure.

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

Mr Hampton: Again I'll say, there is no tax freeze in the bill -- nowhere. All you're doing is trying to take a public, democratic process and move it behind closed doors so people can't find out.



Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): To the Minister of Education: The Premier said something incredible today. He said the advertisements run by the Halton region in opposition to the provincial download were a waste of taxpayers' money because they're not based on any final decision.

Minister, how is that you can run all of your ads attacking teachers and parents in the province and yet the Premier calls the effort by Halton to fight back a waste of taxpayers' money? Can you explain the difference?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I'm not going to explain whatever difference the member opposite perceives. I will simply say that the people of Ontario -- I've been in government for many years, well over 20 years now -- want to know what's going on. They want to know the programs that the government is putting forward. That's a normal state of affairs to an NDP government, a Liberal government, a Tory government, at the municipal level, at the provincial level, at the federal level. There is a need to communicate with the people of Ontario.

You may not like to hear the fact that we intend to reform the education system, that we intend to proceed with reforms to bring quality and accountability and efficiency to the system, but that's what our ads are about. People of Ontario have a right to expect that sort of communication and that's exactly what we're doing.

Mr Hampton: Perhaps I should give the Minister of Education another chance. I'm merely quoting what the Premier said. Halton region has figured out that your downloading is going to cause real problems for them in terms of property taxes, so they've taken out some advertisements to inform the public of how much the downloading is going to be and how damaging it's going to be. Your Premier comes out and says that they're a waste of taxpayers' money because they're not based on a final decision.

People across the province have been watching your attack ads, your propaganda campaign on Bill 160, which is not yet a final decision. I'm asking you, how can the Halton ads be a waste of taxpayers' money and you've spent, by our estimate, over $4 million in this province attacking teachers, attacking parents, attacking school boards? How is it that theirs are a waste of money and yours are somehow a good deed by the government?

Hon David Johnson: It's interesting that the leader of the third party has shown such great concern about advertising costs at this juncture in his career. In 1994-95, when he was in government, the NDP government spent over $20 million in advertising. The agencies under the NDP government spent over $25 million. Grand total spending: over $45 million.

There were two years when the spending was even higher: 1992 and 1990-91, when both the Liberals and the NDP were in government together, in cahoots, over $50 million spent on advertising.

Why do we have --

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

Mr Hampton: I want to quote what the Conservative MPP for Grey-Owen Sound had to say about the government's attack ads, your propaganda campaign. He said: "The ads were terrible. I mean, I haven't heard anybody say that they were good. You can't go attacking our teachers."

Then he said: "We're supposed to be the government. We're supposed to solve problems, not make problems, and all I've seen are ads that just make problems for us, problems for the teachers and for everybody. I think we wouldn't have been in as big a mess as we are in if those ads had never gone on the radio or the television or in the papers."

My question for the Minister of Education is simply this: When are you going to realize that your vicious, ugly, nasty attack ads, your propaganda campaign, were beneath the dignity of an Ontario government? You are going down in infamy for attacking people across this province merely because they disagreed with you, merely because --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon David Johnson: There is an incorrect statement being made here. The reality is that this government values teachers very highly and is intending to be supportive of teachers. It is and will be working closely with teachers in the future. We need the teachers in terms of implementing the quality program in our classrooms. But I can tell you that over the past while, in terms of dealing with the unions, certain problems have arisen.

We have attempted to keep government advertising in general to a minimum. We have attempted to keep it simple. We have not had any flashy brochures such as this one from the Ministry of Education under the former government. Looking towards the future, there is a need to work closely with the teachers. I look forward to that day and I think together, the teachers, the principals, the government, the school boards --

The Speaker: Thank you, Minister. New question.


Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is for the Minister of Education. As you will know, Renfrew county, like Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Hastings, Lanark, to name but five or six of the eastern counties, is very rural, and in communities like Wilno and Westmeath, Douglas and Calabogie we have had for decades small rural schools, well established and well regarded for the quality of education they have been providing to generations of students in rural Renfrew county. My question is a simple one on behalf of the parents in communities like Westmeath and Wilno. Once Bill 160 is passed and the new funding formula is in place, will you, as Minister of Education -- now possessed of major new centralized power and authority -- guarantee to the parents and students in communities like Westmeath, Wilno, Douglas and Calabogie in Renfrew county that their small community rural schools will continue in existence?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): What I will guarantee is that there will be fair funding to each board across the province. We know that in the past on too many occasions, particularly small boards, and I suspect in eastern Ontario and perhaps in other rural parts of Ontario, have not always had access to the same amount of funding as boards in some urban areas, for example. What I promise to the member opposite is that that day is over, that each board will have access to fair and equitable funding, that the funding will be focused on the classroom and that the funding will be focused on enhancing the quality of education in the boards and the schools the member is talking about and indeed right across the province.


Mr Conway: It's not just a concern in rural Renfrew, I say to the Minister of Education and Training, and it's not just a concern among anglophone parents, but I can assure you that francophone parents in communities like Maxville and Avonmore, in Mattawa, are going to be very interested and concerned about whether their small, rural schools, elementary and secondary, will remain open.

Let me repeat the question, accepting as I do that the honourable member and minister's intentions are good. The question is simple: Will you assure the parents in my riding in communities like Westmeath and Wilno, Douglas and Calabogie, to name but four rural communities in Renfrew county, that once this bill is passed and the regulations in place giving you very significant new powers, decades-old rural schools will continue to be open and offering quality education to those rural communities?

Hon David Johnson: Again, I will do what I can do and that is to assure those boards right across the province that the new funding formula will recognize the number of students, will recognize special considerations such as geography, special education grants, learning opportunity grants, pupil accommodation grants, that the grant system, the new funding formula, will recognize the special needs of the various boards right across Ontario. The province of Ontario will provide that money on a fair and equitable basis. The decision in terms of schools remains at the local level with the school boards but we will provide them, through the province of Ontario, with a fair and equitable funding to give the best possible education to the students right across the province.

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

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question to the Minister of Education and Training. We know that the deputy minister must cut $667 million out of elementary and secondary classrooms next year. We know that you put in the preparation time changes to take another 4,000 teachers out of the classroom. We also know that this is going to have a devastating impact on extracurricular activities in our schools.

OFSAA, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations, has said the following:

"Physical education teachers within the school system have picked up the additional responsibilities, which means that, for many, their existing, limited, non-classroom instructional time is often used in the planning of school programs and covering classes for other teachers who are working with school teams."

In other words, physical education teachers spend a lot of their so-called prep time working on extracurricular activities. Minister, when you take away that prep time, what's going to happen to those extracurricular activities that are so important for our students?

Hon David Johnson: First of all, the premise of the question is completely wrong, as the member opposite knows. What will be invested in education will be determined on an annual basis through the funding formula, and there is no magic figure which will be reduced from the education system in the province of Ontario. Certainly every ministry will be looking, on behalf of the taxpayers, to run an efficient ministry to get best value.

What each board has will be, in the final analysis, a fair and equitable funding formula recognizing the needs of the students, recognizing the special needs, recognizing the geography, recognizing the number of pupils, and those boards will have the full opportunity to provide the various services that are needed in terms of their particular schools and their particular communities.

Mr Hampton: We already know that you are going to take another $667 million out. The Premier even admitted that. He tried to spin a number of excuses over the last three weeks to explain it, but we know the $667 million is going to come out. We also know that at least 4,000 teachers at the secondary level are going to be gone.

Now OFSAA is telling us that, as a result of the cutbacks you've already imposed over the last two years, participation in after-school extracurricular activities is already starting to drop. For the first time, in 1995-96 there were 2% fewer girls participating in interschool athletics and 3% fewer boys. The reality is, when you take more prep time out of the system, when you take more money out of the system, when you take more teachers out of the system, extracurricular activities like athletics, band, music, drama are going to be the areas that suffer.

Minister, are these things unimportant, or do you have a plan to ensure that these important parts of our school system continue to operate for our students?

Hon David Johnson: It's interesting the number of things that the leader of the third party knows which are not in fact real. For example, in the elementary and secondary school system there has never been more money spent in the system as a whole than there has been and is in 1997: $14.4 billion revenue from all sources in all aspects of elementary and secondary. Never in the history of the province of Ontario has as much money been spent.

In terms of preparation time, we are simply asking the teachers in the province to spend the same amount of time in the classroom as teachers do in other jurisdictions. Is that unfair? In fact, our elementary teachers already spend the same amount of time in the classroom; there's no change at all at the elementary level. At the secondary level we're asking them, yes, as their colleagues in Alberta and other provinces, to spend the same amount of time in the classroom. I believe they can do that. I believe they can provide all of those services that our children need with the time they spend in the classroom and with the fair funding formula which will be coming down soon.


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My question is to my friend the Minister of Agriculture. I had the honour of attending the launch of Bill 146, An Act to protect Farming and Food Production, last June at the --


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. The member for Wellington has the right to ask the question. Member for Hamilton East, I don't want to argue with you about it. Member for Wellington.

Mr Arnott: Bill 146 is currently before the House. Last week 25 members of our caucus met with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to discuss Bill 146 and many MPPs have been attending the OFA's annual convention this week. I'm sure that all members of the House would be interested to know that the OFA is extremely supportive of this legislation. Will the minister explain why Bill 146 is so important to our agrifood sector?

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I want to thank my colleague from Wellington, because indeed back in June we did go to his county to make the announcement of An Act to protect Farming and Food Production. The government is delivering on its promise to support agriculture, to make sure that normal farm practices are indeed protected. The old legislation, 10 years old, was not doing that job. We have promised the agricultural producers of this province that they indeed would have protection against nuisance lawsuits.

We toured the province prior to this bill being drafted to make sure we got it right, and I would certainly hope that the opposition and the members of the third party will understand and will indeed be supportive of this legislation.

Mr Arnott: My constituents will be very reassured by that answer. But I'm disturbed that misinformation is still being spread --


The Speaker: Order. I'm having difficulty hearing the member for Wellington.

Mr Arnott: Misinformation is still being spread in some circles that Bill 146 might be harmful to the environment.

Interjection: That's not the only thing that's being spread.

The Speaker: It's hard to maintain order when you open your comments like that. Member for Wellington.

Mr Arnott: I didn't realize this was so provocative, Mr Speaker.

Can the minister assure the House that Bill 146 does not give farmers the right to pollute?

Hon Mr Villeneuve: It's a pretty serious subject and I'm rather disappointed that the opposition is taking it so lightly.


The Speaker: Order. I won't warn the member for Wentworth East again. Would you come to order.

Hon Mr Villeneuve: Maybe we should have in this bill some protection against the verbal effluent coming from over there.

I'm pleased to inform my colleagues in the Legislature that the work of Ontario farmers was recognized on Tuesday of this week as the Ontario Farm Environmental Coalition was awarded the province's top honour, the Ontario Pollution Prevention Leadership Award, at the 1997 Environment and Energy Conference of Ontario. That is something to be proud of.

Bill 146 has absolutely nothing to do with weakening environmental requirements, health and safety requirements. It's simply to protect the normal farm practices that are done throughout this province.



Mrs Lyn McLeod (Fort William): My question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, in response to a question from my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich, you indicated that you had changed the role of parent councils to be non-advisory in response to the advice of your appointed Education Improvement Commission. I know the commission has given you some bad advice in the past, like recommending that we have unqualified teachers heading up some of our classrooms, but to the best of my knowledge, they have never given any public advice on the role of school councils. I assume this was private advice, and I do not understand why you would respond to the advice of your handpicked commissioners when they go against the views expressed by every parent council representative in this province.

Why would you listen to Dave Cooke's private advice and go against the views of the parent councils themselves?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): First of all, this is not an accurate depiction at all of what I said or what is reality. What I said and what is the reality is that just the word "advisory" had been deleted from the bill. The EIC felt, in terms of their study, report, investigation of this whole matter, that it would allow more latitude in terms of their discussions.

The councils remain advisory. They remain under the jurisdiction of the policy memorandum, which clearly outlines that they are advisory. There is no question about that whatsoever. The EIC will be studying this matter over the next few months and will be reporting back to me. At that point in time, the ministry, the government, will have a look at the role of the councils to determine precisely what they should be, but they're clearly advisory today. There's no question about that whatsoever.

Mrs McLeod: Oh, come, come, Minister. We went through two weeks of public hearings on this bill and we went through two weeks of public hearings on Bill 104. Parent councils were absolutely clear: They want to remain advisory. Taking the word "advisory" out of your Bill 160 by amendment was clearly significant, and parent councils know that. They also know you have directed the EIC to give you advice on the role of parent councils, and you have now acknowledged that you responded to the private advice of David Cooke and Ann Vanstone. You took the word "advisory" out. If you needed more scope, it's because you're planning to do something very significant with the role of parent councils. If they weren't going to be solely advisory, you would have left the word in the bill.

We have parent councils resigning. Another parent council in Brockville resigned last night. My parent councils were prepared to resign en masse. I foolishly told them to make their concerns known to the Education Improvement Commission, not knowing they were already advising you privately to go against their views. What other advice are David Cooke and Ann Vanstone giving you? What role are you going to put on to the parent councils of this province?

Hon David Johnson: In fairness, and I'm sure the member opposite knows this, it wasn't only the EIC who suggested that this word be dropped, but the Ontario Parent Council and --

Mrs McLeod: It was your appointed parent council.

Hon David Johnson: I guess the problem is that for every example I raise of somebody who suggested that the EIC, in terms of their scope, has the ability to look at that, there is some sort of devilish plot; every group that is not in agreement with the member opposite is up to no good and is to be discounted. The problem is that's not the case. The Ontario Parent Council is a reputable group; they also supported it.

We'll have to see when the study is complete. I think the member opposite should allow the study through the EIC to take place, to make their recommendations. The government will have a look at it and then we'll determine what the longer-term role is for the councils.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Okay, stop the clock.

Member for Fort York.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): My question is to my good friend the Minister of Education. I know that you know we spend $13.8 billion on education; I know that. But I'm not sure you're aware of this: In addition to the recognized expenditure of $11.7 billion, there's approximately $2.1 billion in unrecognized expenditures that is funded by boards from the local tax base. That includes things like junior kindergarten, French immersion, French extended, after-4 programs, tutoring for students at risk, paraprofessionals in parts of the system all over Ontario.

They have a concern about what's going to happen to this money. I heard you repeat the word "fair" about eight times in the last few questions you've answered. Being a fair man, I'm assuming you are going to make sure that the $2 billion that is spent by the local boards at the moment is going to go back to them. Is that the case?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): First of all, the number in terms of the spending for this calendar year in the education system from all sources is $14.4 billion. That includes all the payments from the province of Ontario, that includes the payments from local school boards, and it includes some small amount of revenue from other sources.

The funding formula, as I've indicated and you've indicated, will be fair. There's some concern that certain boards have the ability to generate additional revenues; other boards are poor. The students in other boards do not have the opportunity, because they come from a poorer area. Knowing the member opposite, he would want every child in Ontario to have the same opportunity. He would not think it would be fair that because a child came from a certain part of Ontario where money was not available, that child would lose out. That is what we're trying to accomplish, that every child should have the same opportunity across the province.

Mr Marchese: I'm a bit concerned about what this minister and this government are going to do. I know the reason they are centralizing education dollars is to be able to cut them, under the guise of fairness. I tell you, the legislative grant is one way of harmonizing downward so that everybody will be equal, but they will be equal at the bottom end, for one; they will all be equally poor.

The second point I made had to do with this $2 billion that is funded by local boards at the moment. The question I was asking you was, is that money going back, or are you chopping that money to do something else with it? I submit to you that you will be cutting more than $670 million. This is the one big area, the $2 billion, where you're going to find a hell of a lot more money to chop. That's what I submit to you. Deny it if you can, or at least assure the boards that spend money in useful programs like JK, like French immersion, like paraprofessionals that the money's going back to them.

Hon David Johnson: The member opposite says he's of the opinion that the quality will come down to the lowest common denominator. The reality is today, as the EQAO has reported just two or three weeks ago, after it tested grade 3 students and grade 6 students, there is concern in the province of Ontario that our students are not having the opportunity to come up to the expected level they should. In tests across Canada -- in the science test last year, for example -- our students did not do well. In terms of the international tests, our students did not fare well.

The answer is that we're going to ensure that the money is in the system --

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Read Ireland's study.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Member for Sudbury, come to order, please.

Hon David Johnson: The answer is that there is no magic number to cut. There is a commitment to ensure that the funding is there, through the fair funding formula, through the budget struck each and every year, to ensure a high quality so our students can reach the expected level in Ontario and compete on a national and international basis.



Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Last June you announced in this House an intention to review child protection services in Ontario. I wonder if you could tell us how that review is going and what the status of it is.

Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I would be very pleased to provide an update on the steps we announced earlier this year in terms of how to improve the child welfare system in Ontario.

First of all, the design work for the new computer database, which is the system that will help prevent children from falling through the cracks, will be completed, the design will be done, by the end of January, which is an extremely fast time frame for the production of these things, as I understand it.

Secondly, we have already begun the training that front-line workers have asked for, and that was recommended by the task force, so that they will have the support they need. That's already begun.

I announced recently the new review panel of experts who are looking at whether we need to change the legislation, how that should be done.

The review that is going on of individual child welfare agencies, a case-by-case review, will be completed by the end of this year. I'd like to congratulate the individuals who have been part of that process because they've been working very hard to try and get that data and that information we need to make further changes.

Finally, the review of the ministry will be completed by early next year, with its look at whether the ministry's procedures are appropriate.

Mrs Ross: I'm aware of the panel that's being set up and I'm really pleased to see that Dr Harriet MacMillan of McMaster University is on that panel. I'd particularly like to know what exactly is the mandate of that panel and how it will operate. I have several constituents who have asked for a way for them to provide input. Can you advise us how we could do that?

Hon Mrs Ecker: I announced the panel to a conference on child abuse at Sick Kids earlier this month and was very pleased at the support that group had for the individuals who are on this panel. Judge Mary Jane Hatton, who is the chair, has a very good track record as a provincial court judge in family law matters. We also have representatives of the Metro Toronto Police youth bureau, a high school principal, a coroner, paediatrician, child psychiatrist, as well as those involved in social work. We've got an excellent group of people.

They are asking: Is it the legislation in terms of how it's worded, or how are we applying the legislation? Is it the law or how the law is applied? What's the problem? They'll be making recommendations on that.

The other thing is that they will be consulting very widely among all the different sectors that help support the child welfare system, from health to education and the justice system. They'll be inviting written comments and submissions and will be meeting with many other individuals and experts who can provide input to us.


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Minister of Education. Minister, you're fond of quoting people who have supported your bill over the last few days in this House. I want to ask you about a number of prominent Ontarians, people who do not have political ties in this case, who have come out and have trashed your bill and have panned Bill 160.

It's an unprecedented step that a sitting judge in this province would come out and criticize government policy and government legislation. On Saturday at a conference, Judge Marvin Zuker, a prominent Family Court judge in this province and author of several books, said about your bill, "Bill 160 does not address the lack of classroom supplies, the increase in the number of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders." He went on to say: "It offers no clear mandate to deal effectively with the education of children under the age of six." And he said, "Without these programs, we run the risk of losing control over our children." Is Judge Zuker right? Do you believe what he has to say? Will you listen to what a prominent Ontario Family Court judge has to say about your legislation?

Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I'm delighted to listen to this particular judge, delighted to listen to all parents and people who either support or do not support Bill 160. There's a parent from Unionville who says, "Please be advised that myself, my wife, my two sons, recent graduates of high school, cannot express strongly enough our support of Bill 160." I listen to this parent. I listen to a parent from Cameron, Ontario: "We support Bill 160 and ask that it be passed."

We all know in this House that parents have been asking for change, that the people of Ontario have been asking for change, in the education system.

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

Hon David Johnson: Is any particular government able to address each and every problem at any one point in time? No, that's not possible. But I can tell you that people of Ontario are in basic support of this --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Mr Agostino: If the minister doesn't want to listen to Judge Zuker, maybe the minister will listen to Anne Jones. Anne Jones is one of Hamilton's most prominent citizens, appointed as the first regional chairman by Premier Davis, lifelong card-carrying Conservative, candidate for the Conservative Party in Ontario; Anne Jones also nominated your member from Hamilton West to carry the Conservative banner.

Anne Jones led a protest to the constituency office of the member for Hamilton West a week ago in regard to Bill 160. She said, "This bill has gone too far." She said, "I've never seen a Conservative government like this." She describes the curtailment of debate as "frightening. They can pass the bill in no time." She goes on to say, and this is Anne Jones, not opposition politics, "Bill 160 hurts children in the classroom, and that is something the Conservatives promised not to do."

The Speaker: Question, please.

Mr Agostino: Let me tell you what Anne Jones says about her nomination of the member for Hamilton West. She calls it a misfortune that she nominated the member for Hamilton West. If you won't listen to the opposition, will you listen to one of your loyal card-carrying Conservatives, Anne Jones, who --

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon David Johnson: I have to listen, the government has to listen, and we're more than willing to listen to the comments from Anne Jones, from anybody. Certainly I respect the job Anne Jones has done in the Hamilton region. I also have to listen to the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association, who have indicated that to some degree the problem is that there are myths being perpetrated out there about the bill, that there are certain things the bill does that it doesn't do at all; that the bill would allow the government, at the drop of a hat, to put trustees in jail, close down schools etc, etc. It's not the reality.

I think the people of Ontario are behind the reforms that this government is initiating: the extra instructional time, the cap on the average size of the classrooms across each board. I think if you ask people such as Anne Jones, they'd say: "Yes, it's time for reform. Get on with it."




Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have petitions representing somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 signatures from the Espanola-North Shore area.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take up to an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government would remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

I affix my signature.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I have petitions here requesting the withdrawal of Bill 160 from residents of Elliot Lake and the North Shore, Newcastle, Peterborough, Etobicoke, Mississauga and many other communities across Ontario. I submit them. I support the petitions, and I'm signing them as well.

Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to present a petition to the House this afternoon. This petition has been presented to me by a Ms Cynthia Howe, who I know is on the school community council in Bowmanville at St Joseph's school. I'm not certain if this petition is formatted correctly, but none the less, for the purpose of ensuring that the people of Ontario know that I am speaking for my residents, I will read it.

"To Mr O'Toole, our MPP and representative of the opinions of your constituents, we urge you to vote against Bill 160."

I assure you I'll continue to meet and dialogue with these constituents to help them to understand Bill 160.


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It's from people in North Bay, Colleen Parker; it's from people in Sudbury, Elliot Lake etc. It says:

"Whereas education is our future; and

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

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

"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

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

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

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

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

I sign this 8,000-signature petition.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I have hundreds of names of students who go to Jones Avenue adult school in my riding. Some are letters and some are petitions. It reads:

"To the Speaker of the House:

"We are students studying English as a second language at Jones Avenue Adult New Canadian School in Toronto. We are eager to learn English to advance into the workforce as quickly as possible and to contribute meaningfully to Canadian society. We are concerned that our school will become a non-credit night school only. Many of us are parents who cannot neglect their family responsibilities to attend night classes, especially when our children come to us needing help with their English at school. Some of us have taken low-paying, part-time evening jobs to support ourselves and might not be able to find a job during the daytime. We would be saddened by the many extra months it would take us to master the English language in a night-school setting.

"We, the undersigned, implore you to keep Jones Avenue Adult New Canadian School and other adult schools open during the day. Please restore full funding for students who are 21 years of age and older. Thank you for your time and consideration."

I will affix my signature to this petition.


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the courts have ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to pass a bill empowering municipalities to enact bylaws governing dress code and to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to reinstate such partial nudity as an offence."


M. Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott et Russell) : J'ai une pétition à l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario et elle nous provient des villages de St Isidore, Casselman, Bourget, Hammond, Rockland, Embrun et un peu des environs :

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario est demeuré indifférent aux protestations du public sur le projet de loi 160 ; et

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario a choisi de duper la population ontarienne en camouflant les objectifs réels du projet de loi 160 ; et

«Attendu que nous, les citoyens et les citoyennes de l'Ontario, croyons qu'aucun gouvernement n'a le droit d'agir contrairement aux désirs de l'électorat de cette province ; et

«Attendu que nous avons perdu confiance en ce gouvernement ;

«Nous, les soussignés électrices et électeurs de l'Ontario, demandons par cette pétition à la lieutenante-gouverneure de dissoudre la présente Législature et de déclencher une élection générale immédiatement.»

J'y ajoute ma signature.


Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take up to an additional billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will remove up to 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government will have unbridled regulatory powers over public education; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate student learning conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to undermine shared decision-making among students, parents, educators, trustees and taxpayers;

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to withdraw Bill 160."

This is signed by 276 residents of the riding of Parry Sound. I am very pleased to present this petition on their behalf and I agree with them.


Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition here to rescind Bill 160's proposed amendments with regard to principals and vice-principals.

"Whereas Bill 160 originally maintained principals and vice-principals would remain as members of the teachers' federations; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments were introduced after the hearings had been completed; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments will seriously destabilize the education system, causing unnecessary stress on our established school teams;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to withdraw those sections of Bill 160 which impact the current status of principals and vice-principals as members of the teachers' federations."

I have affixed my signature thereto.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I have been handed a petition by Gayleen Garvin, who is a hardworking teacher at Frontenac Secondary School in Kingston, and it's addressed to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. It's a very short petition but it's very powerful just the same. It states:

"We, the undersigned concerned parents, teachers and/or citizens of the province of Ontario, wish to inform you that in the best interests of education in Ontario, Bill 160, as presently drafted, must not be passed. We hereby request that you not sign the bill, dissolve Parliament and call a general election."

I have signed it and since it is such a short petition, Mr Speaker, I wonder if you will allow me the opportunity to read a similar petition?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): I will not. Further petitions. The Chair recognizes the member for Sault Ste Marie.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): The issue of the Red Cross and homemakers is still out there because the government hasn't acted, so I have a petition with some hundreds of names of people in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma continuing to be concerned about this issue.

"Whereas the current pay equity legislation affects Red Cross differently than any other provider of homemaker services in Ontario and makes it impossible for the Canadian Red Cross Society to compete on a level playing field; and

"Whereas without a resolution, the Canadian Red Cross Society will be forced to increase wages and benefits, already the highest in the industry, by approximately 45% January 1998. The program cannot afford this increase;

"Whereas Red Cross provides 80% of the service in rural communities, and in 29 communities Red Cross is the only service provider; and

"Whereas clients in many communities will be left to cope on their own and some 6,000 homemakers and 400 office staff, most of them women, will lose their jobs;

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

"We are concerned about the Red Cross pay equity issue. We are asking the three party leaders to put people before politics and come together in an non-partisan effort to resolve the homemakers' services pay equity problem."

Certainly our party is wanting to contribute to that discussion.



Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): I have several petitions that were presented to me at a meeting I held at the Virgil public school regarding Bill 160. Although this is not in a format that's acceptable to the Legislature, I promised them that I would present it. The petition deals with wanting to defer Bill 160 and split it, the amalgamation of schools, and to explore and debate more the contentious items.


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have a further petition from residents of my constituency addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas education is our future; and

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

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

"Whereas you cannot improve achievement by lowering standards; and

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

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

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

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

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

I concur and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): I have a petition from several members of the Beaver Lake Hunt Club in Windsor. It says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): I have a petition here from hundreds of people in my riding.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"We, the undersigned, strongly feel that there should be no further cutbacks to the health care system in Brantford and Brant county. St Joseph's Hospital should remain, contininuing to give the services and care it is known for. Combining this facility with the already overcrowded Brantford General Hospital would lower the standard of health care in this region. This is unacceptable."

I affix my signature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The time for petitions has expired. Orders of the day.



The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The Chair recognizes the member for Kingston and The Islands on a point of order.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Mr Speaker, I have a point of order to raise with you with respect to something that just happened in this House. As you know, we all live and abide by the rules, the standing orders that have been passed as far as the procedure at the Legislative Assembly is concerned. We just heard a member about five minutes ago state that he knew that a subject he was about to raise during the time set aside for petitions was not a petition. I know we sometimes have difficulty in knowing whether or not a petition is in proper form, but if a member actually gets up and knows that what he's reading is not a petition, I would like your ruling on whether during that period of time that is set aside for petitions in effect he can raise that particular matter. I would like your ruling on that, Mr Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: I'd like to address that point of order, and it is a point of order. I listened carefully to the member who was presenting it. I felt that the petition had been given to him in good faith and he showed good faith in presenting it here, even though it didn't meet the technical criteria. That would be determined at the table in most cases. But if I have to check each petition before it is presented, I'm sure you wouldn't want that either, so I did give him some latitude that I might not do another time.

Mr Gerretsen: If I could just address that ruling --

The Acting Speaker: No, I'm sorry, you can't. We're into orders of the day.

Mr Gerretsen: Your ruling was excellent until you got to the last point.

The Acting Speaker: I consider that the matter has been dealt with. You had a point of order. I recognized it, I dealt with it, and now I'd like to get on with the other business of the House.


Mrs Ecker moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 142, An Act to revise the law related to Social Assistance by enacting the Ontario Works Act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, by repealing the Family Benefits Act, the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act and by amending several other Statutes / Projet de loi 142, Loi révisant la loi relative à l'aide sociale en édictant la Loi sur le programme Ontario au travail et la Loi sur le Programme ontarien de soutien aux personnes handicapées, en abrogeant la Loi sur les prestations familiales, la Loi sur les services de réadaptation professionnelle et la Loi sur l'aide sociale générale et en modifiant plusieurs autres lois.

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise to ask for unanimous consent from the three parties to split the time among the three parties between now and 6.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): The member for Algoma has requested unanimous consent to split the time equally. Agreed? It is agreed.


Hon Janet Ecker (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'm pleased to make the closing comments on third reading of Bill 142, the Social Assistance Reform Act. This bill creates two new legislative frameworks, the Ontario Disability Support Act and the Ontario Works Act, and by doing this it meets two key commitments that we made in the Common Sense Revolution. First, we decided to put in place a new income support program for people with disabilities that would be separate from the welfare system. Second, we concluded that it was necessary to bring fundamental reform to Ontario's welfare system.

The bill has undergone vigorous debate and extensive consultation. We have also made a number of important amendments based on the advice we received during the public hearings. As a result, I believe we now have the legislative foundation for a new approach to social assistance in Ontario that fulfils the government's objectives. I will be outlining some of them and we will be splitting the time among four speakers to go through the points in the legislation.

The government's objectives that we have in this legislation are, first, to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities through improved income and employment supports; second, to make self-sufficiency the overriding goal of social assistance by helping people on welfare to get back to work; third, to fight welfare fraud which stigmatizes recipients who are struggling to get off welfare and also destroys the credibility of the system among taxpayers.

In developing this legislation, we have been guided by three key principles: fairness, accountability and effectiveness.

To put it simply and directly, the social programs must be fair to both those who need them and to the taxpayers who pay for them. A key element of this fairness is the prevention of welfare fraud and abuse to ensure that benefits are received only by those who are in need.

Accountability requires the reciprocal exercise of responsibilities. Welfare recipients are accountable for taking advantage of opportunities to become self-sufficient and self-reliant. Equally, government is accountable to taxpayers and to those who need help to provide programs that will achieve that goal. Government also carries the responsibility for establishing the conditions for investment, growth and job creation in a healthy economy which will also help to make this happen.

Effectiveness quite simply means programs that work, programs that will do what they're intended to do, programs that will create real results. For people with disabilities, this means there will be real supports both for their independence and for employment. For people on welfare, it means practical help in finding the shortest route to a paid job.

With the passage of Bill 142, these principles as I've described them, will now form the foundation of Ontario's key social programs.

First, this legislation, as I mentioned, creates the Ontario disability support plan. It's a new and separate program to meet the needs of people with disabilities. The program is a direct result of the consultations this government undertook over the last year prior to drafting the legislation.

People with disabilities and their organizations had asked that their needs be met through a new program that was separate from the welfare system. They asked for recognition of their special challenges through a program that would have more personal control, more choice and more flexibility. They proposed that we end the current outdated approach to assessing disability and they told us they wanted clear eligibility criteria that would be sensitive to how a disability restricts their activities at home, in the community or in the workplace.

The program will meet all of these requirements and more. It will establish clear and understandable eligibility provisions that will have the flexibility to accommodate unique and changing circumstances and it will focus on an individual's abilities, not simply their disabilities.

The program recognizes that many people with disabilities may require income support for all of their lives and so we have made the rules more generous governing assets and things of that kind to recognize that very real reality for them. The program also recognizes that many people with disabilities are quite capable of deciding what they need without counselling so we are removing the requirements that demand mandatory counselling for them. For those whose conditions are not likely to change, repeated and unnecessary reassessments will not be required.

For many people with certain mental illnesses or terminal conditions such as AIDS or cancer, their disability may vary from time to time. They be fine at one time and not at another. The new program will recognize that cyclical nature of their particular condition so that these individuals can continue to get the financial support that they need.

Perhaps more important, the new program recognizes that people with disabilities want to work and they can work, so the program needs to provide and will provide them with a wide range of practical employment supports that will help them achieve those goals.

Sometimes a person with disabilities will find employment, but the job may not work out, especially if they are trying to re-establish themselves in the workforce. When that occurs in future, benefits will be rapidly reinstated as a result of this legislation. The current requirement that says they have to reapply and wait will end, and this will mark a significant improvement for those individuals attempting to enter the workforce again or for the first time.

The Ontario disability support program therefore is recognizing the unique needs of people with disabilities so it can support both independence and employment. It's based on choice and flexibility, and it will translate the principles of fairness, accountability and effectiveness into reality for people in Ontario with disabilities.

The other piece of the legislation deals with welfare reform. Both Ontarians and governments before us have long known that the welfare system wasn't working, and we have met that challenge head on. We started by reducing rates to a level that is 12% above the average of the other nine provinces. We tightened eligiblity rules. We set up a fraud hotline that, for a mere investment of $170,000, has saved Ontario taxpayers almost $15 million. Now, through this legislation, our Ontario Works program, our mandatory work-for-welfare program, we will be proposing through this, fundamental changes to the overall system.

At the heart of our reforms is a very simple and compelling reality: that people are better off working than on welfare. When you start with that premise, the pieces and the elements of the reform of a more effective system fall into place. Instead of just handing out cheques, the focus is to get people back to work. Instead of trapping people in dependency, the objective is to encourage self-sufficiency. Ontario Works achieves these objectives by linking employment services to basic financial assistance and by making participation in these services mandatory. The purpose, quite simply, is to create the shortest route to a paying job.

The key to the program is the requirement that people on welfare actively participate in the supports that will speed their progress to employment. These include employment supports such as job search, referral to basic education, specific skills training; it includes employment placement and community participation.

Community participation has certainly generated some controversy. I would like to share the story of one particular woman we met in southwestern Ontario. She took the initiative to find her own community placement. When she went to the agency and said, "I'd like to come as part of Ontario Works," they said: "No, no, we can't deal with you. That's too politically controversial. So you pretend that you're not on Ontario Works and you can volunteer, you can participate here." She said, "Will you pay for my transportation costs?" and the agency said, "No, we couldn't possibly do that." She said, "Well, under Ontario Works I can get those costs paid for and I can take advantage of that opportunity." That's the kind of attitude we have to change so they know that they are having opportunities and can provide opportunities for people on welfare who want to get into paid jobs.

The evidence to date shows that our reforms are working. Over 75,000 people have already participated in one or more of the mandatory components in the program; 55 communities, all our major communities in this province, are now delivering Ontario Works. Since we were elected in June 1995, almost 244,000 people have stopped relying on social assistance, an unprecedented decline of over 18%.


A key objective of our legislation will be to strengthen our government's ability to fight fraud, so the bill provides for the use of biometric information that improves the system's ability to verify identity, so that basically we know that you are who you say you are.

I want to stress again that the finger-scanning technology is not fingerprinting; there's a big difference. The main purpose of finger scanning is to create a unique identification number that is reproduced only when the same individual is scanned again.

The information that we gain through this technology, as well as the privacy of welfare recipients, will be protected by this statute. We've worked closely with the privacy commissioner to ensure that.

Finally, members will be aware that an important feature of this legislation is consolidating the delivery of Ontario Works, because currently both the province and the municipalities deliver welfare programs. This is complex, it's wasteful, this division between short-term and long-term assistance is cumbersome, and it's far past time it was changed. Unifying delivery at the municipal level will bring programs and services closer to the people they are intended to serve, as well as making the system much more cost-effective.

I'd like to comment very briefly on the amendments we introduced during the legislative process as a direct result of the advice we received during the public hearings.

First, we've clarified the wording of the definition of "people with disabilities," because concerns were raised that the new eligibility criteria might require proof of substantial restriction in all areas of daily life -- at home, in the community and in the workplace. What this amendment does is clarify our intent that eligibility for support requires substantial restriction in only one area of daily living. In other words, people will be eligible for support if they are limited in their activities at home or in the community or in the workplace.

The second amendment specifies that liens will not be placed on the principal residences of people with disabilities. This was certainly never the intent behind the legislation, but we wanted to make it very explicit.

Third, we've clarified the eligibility criteria for those who only have alcohol and drug dependencies. To be clear, while they will not be eligible for the disability support program, they will continue to qualify for social assistance.

The fourth amendment provides people over 18 who are receiving welfare with the right to appeal the appointment of a trustee to manage their allowance.

Fifth, we've clarified the legislation to provide that social assistance is not a loan against future earnings.

Sixth, we made a number of amendments respecting the use of biometric information, again to ensure the privacy protection of clients and to make sure that the information could only be used appropriately.

The government believes the time for talking about reforming the system in Ontario is long past. It's time for action, and it's the kind of action that's represented in this legislation. The changes that will result from this bill are fundamental and far-reaching, but so are the benefits.

The Ontario disability support program will create a new standard for creativity and sensitivity and recognizing the unique needs of people with disabilities. Ontario Works will offer a real alternative to the passive welfare programs of the past that gave people a cheque and little else. It will provide welfare recipients with the tools to end the dependency that too often traps them and their families. Together, the disability support program and Ontario Works are going to restore the faith of taxpayers and recipients alike that Ontario's vital social programs are fair, accountable and effective, and that they work in the interests of all Ontarians.

The reforms we are making to both of these programs are based on three important points. The first is that there's no humanity in warehousing people in the name of social assistance on a program that's not working. Second, there's no compassion in fostering dependence instead of building self-respect and self-reliance, and giving them the tools they need to get on with their lives. Finally, there's no fairness in wasting human potential by not acting to fix a system we know is not working.

These are the objectives that will be met by this legislation. For this reason, I ask for your support and the approval of the members in this chamber of Bill 142 at third reading.

Mr Jack Carroll (Chatham-Kent): I'm pleased for the opportunity today to rise in support of Bill 142 at third reading. As members are aware, this bill provides the legislative authority for two new programs: The Ontario disability support plan and Ontario Works. I'll be addressing the first of these, the ODSP.

For many years in our province, in fact since 1960, people with disabilities have been served by two programs: the Family Benefits Act and the vocational rehabilitation of disabled persons act. In their day, these two programs did their best to support people with disabilities. Times change and needs change. Often when you look at programs that have been around for a long time, you find out they just haven't kept up. Ontario currently provides the highest level of disability support among the provinces, and we can sure be proud of that, but these programs are simply not sensitive to today's needs.

When we were putting together the details of the Common Sense Revolution, we talked to many individuals and groups throughout the province. When we consulted with persons with disabilities, the message came through loud and clear: They told us they needed their own program. They told us it was not good enough to be part of a category of welfare, particularly when it labelled some of them as permanently unemployable. They reminded us that they had unique, complex and changing needs, and that these needs could only be met through a distinctive program that was sensitive to them.

That's how the CSR commitment for a separate program for people with disabilities came about. That's why I'm so pleased to be speaking today on third reading of this legislation. The passage of Bill 142 will mean another promise kept. The Ontario disability support plan will bring real and positive improvements to the lives of thousands of Ontario residents.

ODSP has three related objectives: to provide clear and understandable eligibility criteria for income support; to ensure greater opportunities for independence; and to deliver practical supports for employment that produce real and measurable results.

Meeting these objectives caused us to focus first on the nature of disability in Ontario today. I'd like to speak briefly about what we learned during our consultations with persons with disabilities while we were preparing for this legislation.

The key message was about the diversity of their needs. Disabilities come in many different forms. They have different impacts. Some disabilities are stable and lifelong, some are progressive, while others are intermittent. Some disabilities create permanent restrictions in daily living, while in some cases the impairment may fluctuate. Some disabilities make employment impossible, but we also know that many people with disabilities can be entirely self-sufficient with the right supports.

Given this diversity of needs, people with disabilities told us simply and directly that we had to start with completely new disability criteria, so that is what we've done. The new eligibility criteria focus on substantial mental or physical impairments that are continuous or recurrent and are expected to last a year or more. The new criteria also recognize that the disability may substantially restrict the activities of daily living in one or more of three areas: personal care, functioning in the community or functioning in the workplace.

During the hearings on Bill 142 some people were concerned that eligibility might require substantial restrictions in all three areas. That was never our intent and, as the minister stated, an amendment has made that clear.


Another key feature of the new program involves the question of how disabilities are assessed. In the current program, some people with disabilities face periodic reassessment even though their condition is obviously stable and permanent. That practice is both wasteful and demeaning and it will end under this new legislation. Only those people whose conditions can be reasonably expected to improve will be subject to reassessment.

Addressing the objective of support for independence forced us to address the question of flexibility. Again the new approach in this legislation is a direct result of this government's consultation with the disabled community.

At present, families are actually discouraged from contributing to the wellbeing and comfort of their adult children with disabilities. This doesn't make any sense. In future, there will be much more reasonable and generous rules governing assets and financial contributions made by the families of people with disabilities.

Allowable cashable assets will be increased. The current limit on retaining compensation awards for injuries or for pain and suffering resulting from crime or abuse will also increase. The program will permit loans against life insurance policies to assist with the cost of such serious illnesses as AIDS and cancer.

The rules on inheritances and trusts will also be relaxed to enable families to contribute to a more secure and comfortable future for their adult children.

There is also an important change concerning the 25% copayment for ODSP clients using the Ministry of Health's assistive devices program. Many groups in the hearings -- the CNIB, the Independent Living Centre of London and area, and the Niagara Mental Health Survivors Network, to name just a few -- called for the copayment and the assistive devices program to be abolished. Again we have listened and we have acted.

The third objective of the new program is to support employment. I would like to take a few minutes to describe how this is achieved. The first step was to give the new program a clear focus on abilities rather than disabilities. This meant recognizing that many people with disabilities can work, want to work and in fact do work. The challenges they face, however, often require a wider and more flexible range of supports than the current program provides.

Therefore, the second step was to decide that ODSP supports to employment needed to be a separate and distinct program and it would need to focus solely on the needs of persons with disabilities who want to prepare for employment, find work and keep a job.

ODSP will therefore deliver a broad variety of employment supports including employment planning assistance and skills development; technological aids and devices to modify the workplace or enhance the skills of the employee; initial and ongoing job supports to assist the employer, the new employee and fellow workers. These supports will provide people with disabilities much more control over the help they need to overcome barriers to seeking, obtaining and keeping employment.

The decision to replace the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act is another example of how we have valued the judgement of people with disabilities. We agreed with them that this program was outdated, that its weaknesses were so widespread and entrenched that it had to be replaced.

Concerns were expressed during the public hearings that this change would hurt students with disabilities. Actually, I am pleased to confirm that the opposite is true. Money currently spent by MCSS on post-secondary education of people with disabilities is being fully transferred to the Ministry of Education and Training to cover the cost of disability related post-secondary expenditures. In addition, the money now in training allowances will be reinvested in employment supports. As a result, spending on employment supports will almost double from roughly $18 million today to almost $35 million when the program is completely in place.

The members of this government are very proud of this legislation. The reason is that while it is easy to criticize and find fault, particularly when we are dealing with a program that has been in place for more than 30 years, it is a far greater challenge to move beyond what is to create a new vision of what might be. That is what the Ontario disability support program aims to achieve. It recognizes unique needs. It will support independence and it will deliver enhanced employment opportunities. It rebalances the shared responsibilities of governments, communities, families and individuals. The new definition of disability contained in this legislation is the key to fairer assistance and support for persons with disabilities.

When I spoke at the start of second reading on this bill in August, I talked about the yardsticks we have attempted to apply to public policies and programs in implementing the Common Sense Revolution. These yardsticks can be reduced to a few simple question: Is the program fair to the people it is designed to serve? Is it fair to the taxpayers? Is there accountability? Are there consistent standards balanced by flexibility? Will it deliver productive results?

After the many hours of debate on this legislation, after the extensive consultations that both preceded its drafting and accompanied the committee hearings, after the amendments that have responded sensitively to questions and concerns, I believe the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes. I am therefore honoured to support and recommend to all the members of the House the third reading of Bill 142.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate? The Chair recognizes the member for York-Mackenzie.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Another progressive.

Mr Frank Klees (York-Mackenzie): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you to the member for St Catharines.

I am pleased to rise to participate in the debate on third reading of Bill 142. This legislation establishes a framework, as the minister and my colleague from Chatham-Kent have already indicated, that effectively addresses the reform of social services in this province, a task that has not been undertaken in some 30 years.

I will be focusing my comments specifically to the Ontario Works component of this legislation. Ontario Works is effectively the centrepiece of this proposed piece of legislation. Our government has undertaken this reform specifically for the following reasons:

First, when this government took office in 1995 it was clear to us at the time and clear to the public that welfare in Ontario simply was not working. It had lost its grounding and the very values that had formed the basis of our province and in fact of our communities throughout this province.

Through an overemphasis on rights, it had lost its connection to responsibilities. It had lost the confidence of the taxpayers and in fact it was not working for welfare recipients in this province.

Second, the system was focusing on providing passive assistance instead of active supports to help people move back into the workforce. Its basic principle had evolved to the issue of simply qualifying people and issuing cheques instead of moving people through to employment.

The third reason was that the welfare system had stopped being a program of last resort. In fact, for some in this province it had effectively become a way of life to which they had resigned themselves.

None of these problems, however, had developed overnight. They had been coming for years. In conversation with Mr Rick Tobias, who is the executive director of Yonge Street Mission, it was interesting to note his words when he said, "It's taken a number of governments to get my neighbourhood into the mess that it's in."

I think that is a telling story, a telling tale of how governments over the last number of years have effectively deferred their stewardship and responsibilities to simply the easy the thing to do, and that is to issue people cheques. We've taken on the responsibility of reforming a system that no longer works for recipients nor for taxpayers.

By mid-1995, 12% of Ontarians were on social assistance; 1.3 million citizens in this province were trapped in a way of life that offered no hope, no way out. Annual welfare costs had skyrocketed from $1.3 billion in 1985 to $6.7 billion in 1995. In just one decade this province had spent in excess of $40 billion on social assistance.


The folly had to stop, so this government took action. We started with the essentials of a healthy economy. We realized that it was important to establish a strong foundation for people in this province to be able to become self-sustaining. We reduced the deficit to make room for the private sector to invest and to create jobs. We've heard from many sources that the real answer is jobs for people in Ontario. We agree with that, so we've taken some very specific steps in this province to ensure that the environment was there for real jobs to be created.

Then we took a two-stage approach to welfare reform. First, we took steps to begin the task of returning sanity to a system gone awry. We reduced welfare rates to a level that is still 12% above the average of other provinces. We established the most generous earn-back provision of any province in the country to allow recipients to earn, through work, the difference between the reduced rates and the previous rates without penalty. We tightened the criteria for eligibility. Last, we wanted to protect the system for those who truly need it, so we took action against abuse by establishing a welfare fraud hotline that quite frankly has saved the taxpayers of this province millions of dollars and is helping us to redirect those dollars to those who truly need support.

The second stage of welfare reform began in June 1996 when we began the implementation of Ontario Works, our welfare-to-work program. Bill 142 completes the reform process by helping to expand that program throughout the rest of Ontario.

The objective of Ontario Works is clear and straightforward: to make individual responsibility and self-sufficiency the central objectives of our welfare system. It is based on the simple premise that welfare is not a way of life; it must be a way back to work. Ontario Works refocuses welfare as a labour market support that helps people qualify for and find employment, to contribute to their communities and to become self-sufficient. I'd like to take a few minutes to describe how it works.

Under Ontario Works, municipalities are responsible for providing a range of supports to welfare recipients. Welfare recipients are expected to meet a number of requirements to maintain their eligibility for financial assistance.

First, they're required to take part in employment measures such as job searches, job placements and community placements. They're required to accept job offers when those job offers are brought forward. Before their children are in school, participation in Ontario Works for employable, sole-support parents will be voluntary. Once those children are of school age, we expect that their participation in Ontario Works will also be mandatory.

I can tell you that this is welcome. This is not something that is being perceived as an imposition on people. People on social assistance who are employable want to work and they want to participate in this very meaningful program. If recipients do not comply with these expectations, they may well be refused financial assistance for a period of time.

These requirements are controversial to some, and I'd like to address these issues frankly and directly. We've heard some criticisms, that this approach victimizes and punishes the poor; that community participation forces welfare recipients to work for nothing and against their will; that Ontario Works won't address the needs or barriers that cause people to be on welfare in the first place. These are serious charges, and I would like to address them specifically.

Let's take a look at the first charge, victimizing and punishing the poor. If you really want to hurt the poor, I suggest, the best thing you can do is to deprive them of an opportunity, deprive them of the tools that will help them overcome the barriers to self-sufficiency that they face in their lives. That's where we were until very recently. We have long since established that benign neglect does not work for people on social assistance in this province. It doesn't produce change, it doesn't offer real help, and that's exactly the situation that Ontario Works is designed to fix.

For the first time in years, the welfare system in this province will help people where they are, will help people address the barriers they're facing in their lives and will give them a hand up to help them find the work that we know they want to do. That is what our community and society expect citizens to do. People are expected to do their part. It is social responsibility to do our part to help people who cannot help themselves. When we marry those two responsibilities, social responsibility on the one hand, personal responsibility on the other, that is how we together will develop a strong community.

What about the second allegation, that Ontario Works is coercive? One of the core values on which Canadian society was built is voluntarism. We all know that volunteers in our communities are not many. There is so much more work to do than there are volunteers to do it.

I've had many occasions when people have come into my constituency office and said: "I would like to get involved. How can I?" Ontario Works allows people a structured way to become involved in their community as volunteers. Ontario Works simply takes the obligation that many citizens already recognize to contribute to their communities and makes it a part of the Ontario Works program and of our welfare system. Community participation restores mutual responsibility to welfare.

How does community participation achieve that objective? First, it helps people acquire new skills and confidence. Many people on social assistance need that opportunity to get involved in their community, to help hone some of their skills and to establish some self-confidence. Second, it establishes connections with the community by giving welfare recipients new contacts and new opportunities to gain employment. Third, community participation enables people to make a contribution to their communities, restoring a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Is community participation just another name for make-work? Many welfare recipients have valuable skills, and they have experiences that can benefit their communities. We are unleashing for them an opportunity to use those skills and to take on those responsibilities.

Some of the examples of community participation opportunities already developed and being implemented around the province are as follows: assisting the elderly at mealtimes with recreation; working as a library resource assistant; helping a child with special needs in child care centres; organization of museum archives; computer software installation; setting up a forest management inventory database for a conservation authority.

These are just a few examples of how people on welfare, by participating in Ontario Works across this province, have found meaningful ways to participate and to contribute to their communities. Opportunities in this regard have been created in some 55 communities already where Ontario Works has been implemented. The possibilities offered by community involvement are limited only by our own imaginations.


The third complaint is that Ontario Works will not provide real help to people on welfare. The critics may take this view. I can tell you from practical experience that is not the case in Ontario. I've had the opportunity to travel the province, to meet not only with front-line workers but also to meet with people who have been participating as welfare recipients in Ontario Works. They welcome the opportunity. Many have seen their community participation projects actually lead to full-time employment. That, at the end of the day, is the objective of Ontario Works. It is working and it will continue to work for people in this province.

We have, through the employment support component of this program, been able to bring alongside individuals on welfare support such as child care, such as work clothing, all of those components that the minister referred to earlier that enable people to overcome some of the barriers that they're facing in their lives.

Ontario Works in its final phase involves a program entitled employment placement. For those people who are now employment ready, who have had the opportunity to upgrade their skills, through employment placement opportunities they will be able to find full-time employment. My time is up. I have so much more to say, but I will leave the rest to my colleague from Hamilton West.

Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): I'm very pleased to rise today in support of Bill 142. I want particularly to address the Ontarians with disabilities support program. The existing regulations governing social assistance for disabled individuals were drafted many years ago at a time when the impersonal face of government was seen by many as a cure-all for the problems of people. Time and experience have shown us that this has not worked as effectively as it might. The vital lesson we, as a society, have learned is one of the value of each individual human life, not based on some government formula, but growing out of the innate worth of each and every individual. The maintenance of this personal dignity as it exists under the auspices of government is a duty of any responsible government. I am greatly encouraged by the way in which the legislation before us does just that.

Individuals in my community have told me about the gaps in the existing legislation, the reality of never knowing if benefits were sustainable if attempts to find employment failed or did not work out properly. This bill is the very thing that these people are looking for. It gives those individuals an assurance that their benefits will be protected even if their job attempts fail or if a pre-existing condition reoccurs that removes them from the workforce.

The strict categories of the existing law labelled people permanently unemployable. While the intent of this was originally good, the results were discouraging to those affected. This legislation recognizes that people can work and want to work. It comes face to face with the reality that there is not simply one category of disability. Some are temporary, some are ongoing, some are continuous, while others limit a person's ability to work only occasionally. As someone who has worked with and employed people with a range of disabilities, I can say with confidence that this act meets people where their need is greatest in a way that respects the individual situation.

Our government has always believed that the solution to any challenge is most effectively met at the personal level, not by an out-of-reach bureaucracy or a one-size-fits-all model. The Ontario disability support program is about respect -- respecting diversity, respecting the desire of people to work and respecting the integrity of individuals when it comes to government involvement in their lives. I know members from all sides of this House have spoken honestly about their belief in these fundamental principals of life in Ontario. I encourage them to join me in taking a step forward for individuals with disabilities by passing this act for the assistance of our fellow Ontarians.

Just before I close I want to read a couple of supportive comments from people in my community, in particular, the Hamilton-Wentworth regional community services: "The province should be commended for recognizing that in some situations the circumstance of being disabled may fluctuate or be cyclical in nature. The provision in the legislation for rapid reinstatement of benefits will greatly assist individuals in these types of positions."

I have a further quote from the Hamilton advisory committee members who said, "The advisory committee members wish to commend the provincial government for recognizing the need for independence and employment opportunities for people with disabilities."

My time has run out, but I'm very supportive of Bill 142 and I urge everyone to vote for it.

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'm very happy to speak on behalf of the Ontario Liberal Party in opposition to Bill 142. I would like to start by simply saying that when the government, as is a pattern now, has brought in legislation, they have failed to understand that when they make such sweeping reforms, it encompasses everybody. They have failed to look at how it impacts everybody who is currently on the system.

I'd like to begin with a submission made to us during our travels from the Peterborough Community Legal Centre. This is a statement by Richard Pade. He said:

"I am 62 years old. I live alone in a small house near the village of Indian River.

"I was born in a part of Germany that is now part of Poland. I had five brothers and one sister. My mother died in 1940 in childbirth. My father was taken by the Russians in 1945 when I was nine years old. He never came back.

"I only went to grade 8 and then trained as a baker. I developed TB and could no longer learn the trade of baker.

"When I was 19 I emigrated with my brothers, sister and stepmother to Canada. I spoke no English and so I went to school to learn some basic English speaking, reading and writing. My English is still not very good.

"My four brothers and one sister got good jobs at General Motors. I applied for jobs with GM and Ford but wasn't hired. I think this was because I am blind in one eye.

"The only work I could get was seasonal construction jobs. I did this kind of work until 1991, when I was 56 years old. At that time I couldn't find any more jobs. I used up all my savings and had to apply for welfare....

"Now I have been told that my provincial benefits will be cut off in January 1998 and that I will have to go back on welfare. How can they do that?... This will be a disaster for me. I cannot survive on welfare and I cannot get a job. I am depressed and very anxious and scared. I was hoping to survive till I am 65 when I will get CPP and old age security.

"I thought this government had promised that seniors, like me, wouldn't have their benefits cut!"

This is a very real story. People in this House should know that individuals like Richard Pade are going to be significantly impacted when Bill 142 becomes law.

What is workfare exactly? Workfare, frankly, has been a big story that has been put out by this government as though they are making some wide-reaching changes to the implications of receiving social assistance. In fact, in section 7 of schedule A of the bill, "A recipient and any prescribed dependants may be required as a condition of eligibility for basic financial assistance" to do one of four things: (a), (b), (c) or (d). The only new addition to this list is, "(d) accept and maintain employment."

What is baffling for those of us who have been working with individuals on the front line delivering the service -- they will tell us they're surprised when the minister continues to stand up and acknowledge the thousands upon thousands of people who are now successful in the workfare program. The lion's share of those people are in fact in (a), (b) and (c), and very few people are actually entering through section (d), which is the only new section applied under these four areas of qualifications in order to receive assistance. Is this new? Only one of four parts in fact is new.

Does it appease individuals out there who believe there are things wrong with the system? Absolutely. Do the people who work in the system agree that things can be improved? Absolutely. All of the people who spoke on the government's behalf today so far have been very offensive to people who work in the system today.

Communities like mine in Windsor, a very progressive city in how it has always dealt with individuals receiving assistance, have always gone out of their way not just to hand over a cheque but to ensure that people move through the system. In fact, all of the municipalities we spoke to through our hearing process told us the same thing. Everything that this government has just said in fact could not be borne out by fact when we went out on the road during public hearings.

The pattern now becomes clear. Now that so many of the public are aware of the pattern of this government through Bill 160 and what it is doing to education, the pattern becomes clear: Invent a crisis, find a scapegoat, vilify or publicly denounce that scapegoat, introduce sweeping reform and hope that the public doesn't have the time or wherewithal to become familiar with the minutiae or detail of the bill. That is clear here with Bill 142.

There was an editorial written, I thought very thoughtfully, in the Toronto Star on October 20: "Amend Mean-Spirited Welfare Reform Bill." To the editorial writer of the Toronto Star, I would like to be sure that you're aware that in fact they have not done any of the recommendations in that editorial that you wrote, which says: "Bill 142 goes far beyond the mandate the Tories won in the 1995 election to implement workfare, forcing welfare recipients to work for their benefits. Many part of the bill will be repugnant even to those who firmly supported the government's initial pledge to overhaul the existing system. But if the government is serious in its rhetoric of offering the poor a hand up instead of a handout, it must change the worst parts of the bill," and then it goes on to list several of those provisions. May I say then to the writer here that the government has not amended the mean-spirited welfare reform bill.


The Who Does What exercise was instrumental in what is now happening in social assistance, and that is, the Who Does What committee said very clearly that social programs should not be on the property tax base at the local level; they absolutely should not. This government has ignored that, has ignored the wisdom of David Crombie and his panel, who drew from widely across the province in terms of what should be funding social programs. They said that social assistance should simply not be, but they ignored that.

We have very significant concerns with the bill. It essentially takes a whole myriad of individuals receiving assistance for a number of reasons and dumps them into two baskets only: If you manage to get over the barriers that are now created to be classified as disabled, you fit into one basket; the rest of the group is now in Ontario Works or workfare, as it's publicly called.

In the workfare section we have significant concerns around 60-to-64-year-olds, foster children, our native communities, abused women, issues around child care. There are very punitive aspects for people accessing the system involving liens, trusteeship, third-party payments, the appeal process, enforcement and fraud measures, the regulations which are so rampant throughout the bill, and of course we have no detail of that, and certainly we're very much opposed to the fingerprinting clause in Bill 142.

Under schedule B, the Ontario disability support plan, the same as above applies in terms of our concern. It includes the elimination of vocational rehab and the privatization allowance for that; the level of employment supports, how they'll be determine and by whom; and terminology that is used in this section like the words "competitive employment," which the government fails to give us clarification on, only fuelling the fire that these are very dangerous words in terms of their application.

The verification of being disabled is a significant concern to us as well as the compensation amendment that was made by this government, and certainly concerns for those with mental illnesses in particular because those issues for those with mental disabilities we believe have not been addressed by Bill 142.

Finally, we'd like to comment on exactly why the government needs to advertise and spend $900,000 of publicly funded moneys to advertise a program that is now mandatory.

The Who Does What commission, the dumping of social service on municipalities -- what did the cities have to tell us? They told us major concerns centred around being locked out of participating in the very drawing up of this bill. They described issues around being dictated to. When they have to pay and roll out the program, they have been dictated to as to how that will happen. They all mentioned to us the undercurrent of threats to the cities by the minister herself, threatening to go public that a particular city was actually opposed to workfare.

There are concerns certainly around foster children, 60- to 64-year-olds, issues of liens, and of course the legion of issues that are being left to regulation. We'll take some examples as well.

When we were in Niagara Falls we heard from the regional municipality of Hamilton and they said, regarding 60- to 64-year-olds, "Based upon our experience with employment programs and given the multiple employment barriers faced by individuals in this age category, we suggest that individuals 60 to 64 years of age not be required to participate in Ontario Works except on a voluntary basis." We brought examples of that into this House and the government has refused to listen.

Although those currently in that age group are receiving FBA benefits and they'll be grandfathered when the legislation changes and be included in the ODSP as of January 1998, an inequity of benefit levels will exist as those 60 to 64 years old will no longer be allowed to make application. You essentially, in only the next year, have two levels of inequity in terms of how we are supporting those 60 to 64.

In the case of foster children, they said, "It is the view of the regional municipality of Hamilton that" the cases of foster children who are on assistance "would be more appropriately addressed within the child welfare protection system. Income maintenance workers for the most part have neither the expertise to assess whether foster children are appropriately placed in a safe and secure environment, nor have the skills to determine other required support services."

The attempt through the Ontario Child Mortality Task Force to integrate and coordinate gaps in service to children to ensure that any potential gaps are addressed -- "the inclusion of foster children under Ontario Works appears to contradict other integrated approaches." How very strange to have heard nothing from the new Minister without Portfolio responsible for children.

"Municipalities," it goes on, "are now being asked to contribute 20% towards the benefits of individuals...under the ODSPA. This program will be solely administered by the provincial government even though municipalities are contributing to the program financially. Previously, the program was 100% funded by the province." They have some genuine concerns over the costs now being borne by the city.

It also goes on to say that in the interim, individuals who would be applying for the disability side will be required to seek assistance from Ontario Works until they are deemed to be a person with a disability, adding further costs to that municipality.

We had a very thoughtful presentation from the city of London. They had significant concerns around the administration of this whole program. These are the actual delivery agents delivering this bill as it rolls out across Ontario. We would have thought that at minimum these significant partners would have been listened to.

It goes on to say: "The act makes no provision for any municipal involvement in the review and/or setting of budgets, programming, policy guidelines or regulations. Nor, to the best of our knowledge, was there any municipal involvement in the initial development of the bill. Given that at least in the short term the local level of government will be delivering the new Ontario Works program, it is a great concern for this community that the local level of government was not involved in its development and will not be involved in the establishment, monitoring and evaluation of program guidelines but will be required to share in its cost."

On the issue of youth, they were very clear. It says, "Our key concern is that unless solid protections are put in place, vulnerable young people in our community could be further put at risk by this requirement. An example could be a young person who agrees to pay a percentage of his or her social assistance cheque so that a person will agree to become his or her trustee or guardian. The point is this: Many of these young people come to us precisely because they don't have the supportive family or community members who are willing to come forward and act as responsible adults, trustees or guardians. If they did, perhaps they wouldn't be coming to us in the first place. This new regulation may place vulnerable youth in a potentially exploitative situation. In our experience, the current system provides a more than adequate number of safeguards to ensure effective use of the system."

Most surprising of all was our stop in the city of North Bay, which the government members insisted we go to. Out of all of the 24 submissions made to Bill 142 in Mike Harris's home town of North Bay, not one submission was in favour of this bill -- a complete crash-and-burn public relations exercise on the part of the Ontario government. Their concerns were very clear regarding the provincial downloading. Their concern before the standing committee was that the general welfare act did include a provision for changing the cost-sharing. They're all significantly concerned about the cost that will now be borne by cities across Ontario. "We are of the opinion that to insulate municipalities from unexpected economic downturns, the province should reinstitute this provision. To do any less would send a signal that there is not confidence in the province's Ontario Works strategy."

This particular submission from the city of North Bay also went on to list all of the regulatory powers that appear, in their words, as "autocratic." The balance of the public is now becoming aware that this is a pattern and that this autocratic appearance is in fact very telling in all of this government's legislation. They go on about their need for input to develop the strategies that the delivery agents are actually going to have to follow through on.


We heard from a front-line worker, a member of OPSEU, who was prepared to stand and go forward when others apparently had received some significant threats about not speaking out against this bill. It was best illustrated by an individual who spoke to us about "the big lie of workfare," as he called it, and the administration nightmare. He said that this new process with this bill "requires a new computer system which would link all the Ontario Works offices together. This system does not exist. The computer program for Ontario Works that has been set up in the 20 test sites does not link them together nor allow for direct deposits of cheques....

"Each of the 20 test sites for Ontario Works had to file a work plan which had to be approved by the province. In the plan approved and in operation in the Niagara region today, Ontario Works staff no longer visit clients at their homes to confirm they actually live there. Interviews now take place in the office. This is the case with the majority of Ontario Works programs that have been approved. You could literally get in a car and drive from Niagara Falls to Hamilton, on to London and finish up in Windsor, collecting welfare cheques all the way."

This is very familiar, given the Provincial Auditor's report today, which suggests a number of areas within various ministries that are suffering from significant mismanagement.

We thought this presentation was quite well-thought-out. He specifically felt the sting of the suggestion that this is such a new program. He offered his observation that of the four options under the program, three of them already existed, and he felt quite incensed that the government would make political hay out of the fact that the majority of people operating in the system today are actually operating under the system as it existed before the fourth item of employment placement was even added to the bill.

I can tell you that our concern surrounding the 60-to-64-year-olds is significant. We find that the treatment of this group is really offensive. Every argument the government makes on this score actually only proves that the program should be optional and not mandatory. Since these individuals today under family benefits are going to be grandfathered in, you're actually going to create two levels of income. If you happen to be 60 to 64 years old today, you could be okay; but if you're turning 60 after January 1998, you're out of luck.

This was expressed to us by the Senior Citizens Council Peterborough. They were very clear about their concerns. They said: "Persons in the age group 60 to 64 years are the ones most likely to have been able to purchase a home, often only as a result of considerable sacrifice and family hardship. Many of these older workers have been laid off through plant closures and downsizing. They have used all their employment insurance benefits and exhausted any savings, and now have to resort to social assistance until such time as they're eligible for other benefits such as old age security. To place a lien on their homes is extremely offensive and mean-spirited....

"Most 60-to-64-year-olds have been valuable, contributing members of society, both in terms of hard work and voluntarism. We totally disagree with requiring this age group to participate in workfare."

I ask the government, who were you speaking to? Not one seniors' group which spoke to us indicated support for this program.

Our native communities are another group that we feel have been treated in a very deplorable manner by this government. There has been no input on the part of native communities, and that, frankly, except for this government, is unprecedented. We heard from a number.

The Ontario regional chief, Tom Bressette, said: "Applying Ontario Works to first nations under Bill 142 would constitute a breach of the 1965 welfare agreement, which only includes general welfare for cost-sharing and not the family benefits assistance component. Federal money is involved to a large extent when it comes to first nations social assistance, so a blanket application of Ontario Works to first nations would not only be inappropriate, it could hurt the province, as federal dollars may be lost unnecessarily."

We also heard from Doug Maracle, the grand chief from the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. He said very clearly: "Ontario Works will not work in first nations communities due to their remoteness and diversity, as well as changing labour market needs, unless special measures are included to address the lack of jobs. Participation and enhanced job search activity could be futile where the lack of jobs in an area is not addressed."

We then heard from the Union of Ontario Indians. They were very clear: "It completely ignores first nations' inherent rights and imposes legislation that will be difficult to facilitate in our communities. It almost appears as if you want us to fail in our attempts to implement your new legislation. We have continually told you that we have other alternatives and have already experimented with different types of reform and yet you have failed to listen to us." I ask the government again, whom were you listening to?

The area around how this legislation impacts on abused women is of great concern. The new provisions to give information and documentation that are untenable for women who are coming from abusive homes and on to the system for help. It's very clear in how this bill has been written that you have not taken these individuals into account.

Provisions in this bill surrounding third-party information would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous. When we heard from the West End Legal Services in Ottawa, they were very clear, in particular surrounding third-party information:

"We presume that one example of this proposed change will be to obtain a verification of residence from a former spouse for the purpose of this brief.

"Abused women flee their relationships and may not communicate with their former partner for quite some time. It is unthinkable that women will be forced to obtain verification directly from their former spouse/abuser as to their living arrangements or their whereabouts.

"We feel that this proposed step will definitely endanger the lives of many women as they'll be put in contact with the abuser during a very volatile time immediately following the decision to leave."

We in this House know and have heard repeatedly that often women who are fleeing abusive situations have no choice but to turn to the system for help for at least an interim period of time while they get back on their feet.

The issues around child care: This bill does not set out child care as a prerequisite for the government to assist, claiming that it's going to be in regulation. Current pilot projects promote an unregulated system with taxpayer dollars. This is of great concern to us.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care said it very succinctly:

"The Minister of Community and Social Services has said that $30 million will be taken from the current budget for regulated child care and made available for Ontario Works child care....Municipalities that have served as Ontario Works pilot sites have been encouraged to direct parents to unregulated care by a differentiated funding model which compensates them for 100% of the cost" if the child care is unregulated "but requires them to pay 20% of the cost" if it's regulated. "There are both moral and public liability issues if harm befall a child in an unregulated arrangement that is being funded with public dollars."

We find significant areas in the bill that are very punitive for people who are trying to access the system. They are actually meant as barriers as opposed to safeguards, for those who work the system know who must access the system. They understand that what you've allowed in Bill 142 will actually bar people from entering the system when they need help.

The whole area surrounding appeals, decisions, the internal review process, the tribunal -- all of it meant to be barriers versus safeguards to the system. The time to appeal: If someone doesn't like decisions that are being made, the time constraints are so stringent that individuals will not be able to meet those, and when they don't, tough luck; they're out of luck.

"Decisions: There is no requirement in the act" for people to give reasons why they made a particular decision. "It is repugnant to the principles of fairness and decency to deny basic-needs income without providing reasons. It also compromises a person's ability to challenge the decision." This came to us from Community Legal Services in Ottawa.

"Internal reviews: Internal reviews must be completed within a time specified in the statute and financial assistance must continue to be paid until the review is completed. This is necessary to protect recipients against undue delays which deprive them of benefits," and the specificity around time frames for the government simply is not outlined here.

Tribunals appointments are going to back to the way it was before the Liberals changed and introduced SARB, the Social Assistance Review Board, which did not allow it to be simply patronage appointment by individuals who are not going to be qualified to make significant decisions that impact on people's lives.

"Ministerial policies: ...a meaningful appeals system will be useless if one other provision is not removed from the legislation. That is, the power given to the minister to make policy that will have the authority of law, though never subjected to debate in the Legislature nor the approval of colleagues in cabinet." This is a very, very familiar clause to us. Everyone who has been fighting Bill 160 recognizes that as being the same existing under Bill 160 for the education minister and so too the Minister of Community and Social Services.


There has been so much left to regulation. There are pages upon pages of the bill that simply say "as prescribed in regulation." What we are looking for is detail. When groups came to speak to us they were told: "Well, it won't be our intent. You'll see that in regulation." If you were so convinced that you were going to be able to put forward a plausible argument for what you were doing, you would have tabled regulations to accompany the bill, but you didn't do that.

We must say, fingerprinting overall is simply not on. The Premier speculated at one point that we should fingerprint everyone. Quite frankly, why would you select one group, that is the group under disability assistance or those under the Ontario Works system, to be subjected to fingerprinting? You have yet to do that for the larger population, and this kind of stigmatization goes against everything that the people who have just spoken on behalf of the government say they're not trying to do. We simply oppose that.

The issue of liens is fairly significant. It turns the social assistance program from one of assistance or help to one of a loan. As we heard very clearly from the Muskoka Legal Clinic when we were in North Bay, this group told us very clearly:

"The consequences of the liens provision for single mothers is particularly oppressive. Many of those who have managed to salvage the matrimonial home from a marital breakdown will already be facing property liens imposed by the legal aid plan as a condition of having been given legal aid to obtain a property settlement in the first place. Women who have escaped from violence need time with their children and often need to be retrained to re-enter the workforce. This provision will leave them with no option but to sell their home instead of receiving assistance or sell their home to satisfy the lien in return for assistance. The only economic security they possess may be their home."

When we turn to the portion of the bill that is entitled "Ontario Disability Support Program Act," we have concerns even though the definition has now been amended. The regional municipality of Hamilton was very clear about their concern surrounding the definition:

"There are no apparent definitions within the ministry documents pertaining to the words: `disability,' `vulnerable,' `substantial barrier,' `substantial restrictions,' `permanent serious disability' and `those who qualify.'" These are the kinds of words we find in schedule B that have no definition, that can well be left to interpretation, and it will be exactly that, left to the interpretation of those who are writing the policy brief that will then be deemed how service providers will interpret the law. We have significant concerns.

When we talk about those with particular disadvantages here, we have to speak of those with mental illnesses. There is an increasing demand on recipients to obtain and maintain assistance, thanks to Bill 142.

Increased requirements for information and documentation: There are harsh penalties for failure to produce these documents and the third-party payments make this group especially vulnerable.

I'd like to point out a submission made by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division. They speak about those who receive family benefits due to a disability.

"...a full 25% or approximately 29,000 individuals have a psychiatric disability.... There are, moreover, many persons with mental health problems who receive" general welfare. These are the individuals who we now presume will be dumped into Ontario Works if they don't meet the criteria, which people don't understand whether they will or not. "It's estimated that about 40% of general welfare recipients have a disability, most often a learning disability or a mental health problem. Some of these individuals are on" lists now waiting for the general welfare system "to be transferred to FBA."

They had very clear concerns around how the Ontario Works Act will affect those with mental disabilities:

"It is not clear how persons with mental health problems `not disabled enough' to receive social assistance under the ODSPA but unable to work due to their illness will be able to access income support to meet their basic needs." The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, is concerned that these individuals will fall through the cracks and that their mental health problems will worsen to the point of requiring hospitalization."

We heard from a number of individuals who expressed significant concern when they have mental illness. The information requirements that we spoke of: "Many individuals with mental illness will not be able to fulfil these reporting requirements and they will be denied their benefits as a result.

"For example, a person with mental illness is too afraid to open mail from the FBA office. She leaves the envelope on her counter for a week until the worker comes to visit to open it with her. Not enough time remains to provide necessary documentation" within the prescribed time period and then the individual is thrown off the system. "In addition, more than 60% of our clients cannot afford and do not have a telephone."

From the Queen Street Patients Council we heard some quite unsettling information about involuntary trusteeship:

"Seizing control of recipients' financing and giving it to a third party is a violation of individuals' rights that will affect people with a psychiatric diagnosis and the developmentally handicapped more than any other groups. It does not provide the minimal safeguards and procedural protections that are described in the Substitute Decisions Act. Who will be doing capacity assessments?"

We advanced amendments to the government that suggested that those who are doing the assessment be medically capable of doing so. The government refused to pass our amendments. Those who are doing verifications and assessments are individuals who don't need to have any medical experience. We're talking about people who are assessing those with physical disabilities, and those individuals don't need to have any medical requirement to be doing that job.

Does anyone see anything wrong with that picture? Who will make significant, life-changing decisions for these people when you're dealing with physical impairments and disabilities and you don't even allow that it might be a doctor or a medical professional to make those kinds of decisions? It seems absolutely ludicrous.

When we spoke to Parkdale Community Legal Services, they told us very disturbing stories about what currently happens in the system, and nothing in Bill 142 would be meant to fix this.

"Tenants" with psychiatric disorders "complain that FBA sends their full cheque to the landlord. It is apparently the landlord's responsibility to deduct the money for room and board and disburse the remaining amount as a monthly stipend. Tenants have reported that they receive nothing from this operator.

"Tenants also complain about the poor quality of the food. A former staff person confirmed that the operator purchased meat from workers at a local slaughterhouse. The workers set aside meat that was not approved by inspectors for public consumption and sold it to the operator at a reduced rate.

"Tenants feel trapped in the home because that is where their cheques are sent. If they indicated a desire to move, they would have to give at least two months' notice, and during this period they're afraid that they would be even more ill treated. Efforts to contact outside support have often been frustrated. One tenant who wanted to come to the clinic to complain about conditions at the boarding-home had their winter coat taken away. Other tenants, distressed by their circumstances, would frequently dial 911 in an attempt to involve the police. The boarding-home operator then removed the phone."

These are instances that absolutely exist in Ontario today. There is nothing in Bill 142 that is going to fix this situation, and the government has the gall to stand up and say they're doing such marvellous things here.

The elimination of vocational rehab is a major concern for our party. We ask the simple question why. Why does the government want to proceed on this front? We've met those who actually deliver the service. These people care about the individuals they work for. We understand that it's going to be a matter of privatization with this government.

Many questions remain. If private firms dole out employment support to those with disabilities, how do they make money? If a private firm has to make money at it, are they going to get money per placement? If that's the case, since so many in this group will be hard to place, will they then skim off those who are easiest to place, leaving the rest aside so that no one is looking out for their best interests? The worst part about this area is that when a delivery agent, perhaps a private company, determines the level of employment support, that is simply not appealable. If they decide no employment support, it is not appealable.

Use of words like "competitive employment" gives us great concern. We asked the parliamentary assistant to explain what is meant by "competitive employment," because unless that individual is going to use employment supports for competitive employment, they won't be allowed to have those employment supports. What is competitive employment? Does that mean that individuals with disabilities who are now in a sheltered workshop probably wouldn't be considered a competitive employment placement? So do those individuals lose the transportation and whatever kind of mechanical assistive devices they need? Would it be in the best interests of the private company doling out employment supports to not issue any support to individuals who would be using sheltered workshops?


Moreover, when you eliminate vocational rehab, as you're doing -- the whole act is gone -- there are sheltered workshops in Ontario now that get a portion of their budget covered through vocational rehab, so does that mean the money is gone? Those sheltered workshops who have 25% or 50% of their budget covered from the provincial government through vocational rehab -- where is that money going?

Schooling supports is a good example for those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Those schooling supports came through vocational rehab. The government is talking about how it's now going to go through the Ministry of Education, but you haven't done it yet. You're introducing a bill and eliminating it in one area, and you don't have another system set up yet to deal with it. You haven't said: "Yes, we are going to help. Yes, the Ministry of Education will be handling it." People who are deaf and hard-of-hearing have been asking for these answers. In fact, every group that represents those with disabilities who spoke to this bill itemized a significant number of concerns, even with the portion of Bill 142 that was supposed to be so wonderful for the disabled community.

I spoke about the verification of disability a moment ago. We asked for there to be someone who is certified, someone who is at least a professional in the area of determining who would be considered disabled and under what circumstances. You would not allow us to pass those very simple amendments.

There was also a compensation amendment which allows a third-party payment to some trustee who will be overseeing the benefits that an individual with a disability receives. We don't understand where that compensation will come from. Will it now come from the government, or will it come as a percentage from the individual who's receiving assistance? If that's the case, what percentage? What share? A lion's share or a small share that the individual on disability has to give up a portion of if they are going to go forward and have someone as their trustee?

Finally, we'd like to talk about why the government needed to advertise -- a $900,000 ad campaign, not paid for by the PC Party, which it should have been, but paid for with my money, with my neighbour's money; the taxpayers of Ontario paid $900,000. Not when this bill was through, when it was passed -- no, in the middle of our hearings they launched a public ad campaign promoting the virtue of workfare, and it was not even law at that point. I ask why.

We submit that it has absolutely been a crash-and-burn exercise. The time is long past. People are working today. They're very hopeful. There isn't that angry mood that existed in 1995, when the PCs played on that anger to introduce workfare as a very populist theme for their platform. "Tough Job Selling Mandatory Workfare." This didn't come from the Windsor Star; this came from the North Bay Nugget. Even in North Bay this government cannot sell workfare, because those who have to mete out this program understand very clearly that it's not designed to work. "Tough Job Selling Mandatory Workfare."

The Provincial Council of Women of Ontario, which has for a long time watched and been the watchdog of government legislation, said very clearly: "Bill 142 is based on certain...erroneous assumptions. The first assumption is that people who apply for welfare are irresponsible." The third, they say, "is that there is rampant fraud." Individuals and groups like the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario have tracked the area of social assistance for years and have known for years that what the government says about fraud is simply overstated and exaggerated.

I'd like to quote very directly from a book that I think would make a great Christmas present, called The Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, by John Ibbitson. While the government doesn't like to admit that the minister went out of her way to threaten communities to participate, she was quoted very directly on page 255:

"Ecker was not above a little political hardball. `I said to a couple of municipal politicians, "If you really want to go into the next municipal election firmly opposed to workfare, I can help the voters understand that that's your position,"' she confides. `They look at you for a minute, then they go out and test the waters and they discover workfare is an extremely publicly supported program.'"

Never mind the fact that you are the government, that you have the obligation to bring in policies that are good for all Ontarians; you decide to bring in workfare because it's saleable to the public at that time -- not because it's good government policy, but only based on that kind of rationale. That a minister of the Ontario government would go out to communities and say, "We will give you such political heat during your municipal elections if you dare to oppose us on the implementation of workfare, we'll make it miserable for you during the municipal elections" -- I have never heard a minister operate in such a devious manner as that. It is simply untenable to think that the government of Ontario of today goes out of its way to scaremonger and threaten local politicians --

Hon Mrs Ecker: Devious? I said I'd help them make sure --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Minister, it's not your turn.

Mrs Pupatello: -- and threaten the withdrawal of funding perhaps in other areas that the provincial government funds.

Hon Mrs Ecker: We didn't threaten them, Sandra.

The Acting Speaker: Minister, I don't need to tell you again.

Mrs Pupatello: Another example I might give is one of the news releases about how the welfare rolls have dropped: "Minister Ecker noted that September's decline reflects an increase in seasonal employment and the government's welfare reforms are continuing to have an impact. The welfare reforms include...anti-fraud measures...tougher eligibility criteria," and "the Ontario Works program requiring participants to take part in activities."

Here we have the government-sponsored report on the principal reasons for leaving social assistance. Actually, those who became ineligible under the new rules, the tougher criteria brought in by the government, account for 1.2%. Where did the rest of the people go? They went into jobs. Why? Because after a significant recession in the early 1990s, we are now having more jobs available than we did before. We have always maintained that there is an inverse relationship between those who require and are on some form of assistance and the unemployment rate.

When there are jobs, people voluntarily leave the system. That is the way of the world. This government has taken that and has abused it, has inverted information to make people believe they are doing this wonderful thing to the system, and the fact of the matter is that they have been very punitive in their approach to those who need help. They have set up many barriers to people so they won't access the system at all because they're afraid to. That a ministry that is called "community and social services" actually sets up barriers for people to get in there is simply not acceptable to me.

People in Ontario realize that there will always be people in Ontario who need our help. Once we accept that and understand that sometimes people need help, it is not the government's job, then, to kick them when they're down. In my view, that is what the PC government of Ontario is doing today.

I would like to end with a quote by Father Bill Capitano from the diocese of London. He said: "Get rid of workfare. What we need today are good-paying jobs. And since workfare will not provide these good-paying jobs, why spend a lot of time and money trying to put into effect something that will not provide what is really needed?"

A quote from Bishop Sherlock: "Compulsory programs such as work for welfare proved no real solution to the poverty of individuals or families....offering little in the way of hope."


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): We haven't got a whole lot of time. The government made sure that debate on third reading of this bill was going to be as restricted as any debate ever could be. Notwithstanding that limited time, I should tell you that our member for Sault Ste Marie is going to join me in speaking to Bill 142. There are a whole lot of other members of caucus who very much wanted to, but they've been denied not just the opportunity to, but the right to, as members of the Legislative Assembly.

I suppose the corollary is also true. Just as members of the opposition are being denied the opportunity to address -- this is going to be a week that goes down in Ontario history, I tell you. The trilogy of bills, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday -- 142 today, 152 or 160 tomorrow, and then 160 or 152 on Thursday -- all three of them having an incredible impact on the lives of virtually every Ontarian and every Ontario family, but for those who are immune from this government's mean-spiritedness. On the very wealthy Bill 142 will have little impact. Bill 152 will have little impact. Bill 160, my God, the very wealthy can send their children to private schools in any event. The gutting of public education to the very wealthy holds little importance and this government knows it.

Don't think you're going to see some massive upsurgence of courage on the part of government backbenchers, who have been inclined from time to time to speak in response to newspaper or other journalists' inquiries about the pathetic and thoroughly evil direction of this government. By and large, you've got a caucus here of government members that has been -- well, they've been paid for, bought and paid for. There is only a handful of them that don't have perks.

Don't forget, the minimum wage here is $78,000 a year, and then there's the grease that makes the government caucus machine work: cabinet ministers abounding; parliamentary assistants in untold numbers; for more than a few cabinet ministers, two parliamentary assistants; committee chairs, committee vice-chairs, the list is almost endless. There is but a handful who don't have perks in addition to their base salary. When I'm talking perks, I'm talking hard, cold cash here. I'm talking money. This is well beyond "Show me the money." They've seen the money. They've got it. They pocket it. I'm afraid that for these people this is an awfully persuasive lure.

You know, Speaker, that the mere six days of public hearings -- two days here in Toronto and four days travelling across the province -- but the Tory majority on that committee very much figured they were going to pick and choose the venues. They thought they were going pick and choose venues wherein the support for their Bill 142 -- let's put it very bluntly. Bill 142 is an attack by this government on the poor rather than any effort to come to grips with the tragedy of poverty in this Ontario. They picked venues like North Bay, like Ottawa, like London, like Niagara Falls, where they figured they were going to find popular support for this vicious attack on the poorest in our provincial community. Inevitably, who are the poorest? Women, kids -- 50% of the people who rely on social assistance in this province are kids.

When the government first broached the topic of so-called workfare, I was reminded promptly of some of our very own history down in Crowland, now a part of the city of Welland, where I was born and grew up. I was fortunate to find that there had been a short history written by Carmela Patrias of the relief workers' strike of April 1935. You see, workfare isn't a novel prospect; workfare isn't novel at all. Back in 1935, during the midst -- I give the Tories this much: They tend to be very nostalgic people. They do. They tend to reflect on the "good old days," and it seems that for them the good old days were, among others, the dirtiest of the 1930s here in Ontario.

Let's take a look at some of what Ms Patrias, in her history of the Crowland relief workers' strike, has to say about how local industries responded to the crisis of the Depression. She writes: "Local employers didn't hesitate to exploit the desperation of working families during the Depression" -- it's starting to sound familiar -- "and their behaviour no doubt sharpened workers' consciousness of the injustices inherent in industrial relations. The Empire Cotton Mill, which was notorious for underpaying workers of all ages, preferred to employ children between the ages of 14 and 16, because they could be paid less than adults."

You see, one of the phenomena of the last Great Depression, of an era that this government seems to envy and feel so much nostalgia for, was that when you maintained high levels of unemployment, you had the direct effect of driving down wages. You create a competitiveness among workers, among working people, which forces them into a position where they'll compete for work by accepting lower and lower wages. It happened in the 1930s and it's what is happening 60 years later here in Mike Harris's Ontario.

What they did was there was a relief office down in Crowland. Workfare prevailed. Crowland's unemployed were forced -- today I know exactly where the street is. It's the Beatrice Street sewer line. A whole lot of those families are still around. A whole lot of those folks are still around from 1935. They remember well. They remember having increased demand placed on them through the workfare system but decreased levels of support provided to them. There was a cut to social assistance rates. Once again, sounds familiar, doesn't it?

These people, being the kind of pioneering and committed people they were, and proud of themselves and of their families, rather than take it, organized themselves and went on strike. That's what the Crowland relief workers' strike was all about. Eventually forced to dig sewers at gunpoint by Mitch Hepburn's hussars, these people none the less organized, and the tactics utilized by their organizers, as is written by Ms Patrias, involved the participation of community members of all ages in the struggle of these unemployed.

The school strike, the boycott of classes by school children, was a tactic that was advocated and utilized. On the day that the doors of the relief office in Crowland were closed, the children of the strikers and their supporters stayed away from school to picket and demonstrate alongside their parents. At Mathews School -- still there; I was out on the picket line with their teachers but a few weeks ago -- in what was an immigrant part of what's called an industrial park, 30% to 40% of the pupils were absent in protest of the cuts to assistance rates and the imposition of a harsh and punitive workfare system. We witness it again 62 years later.

This government's nostalgia for the past includes very much a nostalgia for high levels of unemployment, for the abuse of children, for an attack on the poor rather than an attack on poverty, and for an appeasement of the wealthy by somehow suggesting that the poor are responsible for their unemployment and that they ought to be punished as a result of the community's inability to provide adequate numbers of jobs; an interesting comparison.

I commend to you, Speaker, the treatise by Carmela Patrias, called Relief Strike: Immigrant Workers and the Great Depression in Crowland, Ontario, published by New Hogtown Press at the University of Toronto. I urge you to take a look at it. Take a look at some of the photos. Take a look at some of the faces. Take a look at the armed police as they herd relief recipients into the trenches of the Beatrice Street sewers.


This government took great pride during the course of the election campaign in generating a mythology about who's poor in this province, why they're poor, and suggesting that somehow people choose to be unemployed and people choose to live in poverty. We heard that only moments ago from the minions of the minister herself, her not just one but two parliamentary assistants. Once again, let's understand that minimum wage in this chamber is 78 grand a year, 78 Gs. That's it. That's minimum wage. There are a handful of Tory backbenchers who make but that minimum wage. The vast majority make far more.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): The pension buyout.

Mr Kormos: Somebody mentioned the pension buyout. Mike Harris's pension reduction scheme made him a member of the millionaire's club, like that, overnight. It wasn't the NDP resolution to the issue of pensions. It wasn't, quite frankly, the Liberal resolution to the issue of pensions. It was Mike Harris's termination of the pension plan. A heck of a termination.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): He did okay.

Mr Kormos: He did just fine, thank you kindly. Who paid for it? Let's reflect back to one of the first things this government did. One of the first things this government did was slash social assistance rates by 21.6%. They can talk all they want, and they have, about how somehow that puts Ontario above the national average. Not interested in hearing about national averages when we know that a 22% slashing of social assistance rates forced people out of already pathetic levels of housing, forced people from the most modest levels of nutritional intake into the most pathetic poverty, into the most desperate poverty, into the cruellest poverty, and indeed into homelessness and the sadness of moving from hostel to hostel, from church basement to church basement in the coldest months of the year.

Look what the government succeeded in doing immediately after slashing the social assistance rates. It increased MPPs' salaries by over 30%.


Mr Kormos: Somebody howls. There's squealing coming from the government back benches. The squealing suggests that maybe somebody had better administer some novocaine; I think we hit a nerve.

The net cost to taxpayers this year for MPPs' salaries and stipends is $3 million more than it was before Mike Harris's pay increase to his Tory backbench MPPs. Again, who helped pay for salary increases for MPPs? Who helped pay? Those very same kids and their single moms whose welfare rates were slashed by 22%. The government persisted, the Premier himself, Mr Silly, persisted in insisting that this was a reduction in salaries.

Mr Pouliot: It's close to a lie.

Mr Kormos: Somebody said it was akin to a lie -- akin to. It could have been a miscalculation. If it was, it was a $3-million miscalculation, a 40% miscalculation, a pretty grand one if you look at it from any perspective. But the fact is that the government's own documents provide the goods on this government: a $3-million increase in costs to taxpayers for MPPs' salaries after a 22% slashing of social assistance rates and after Mike Harris lines his trough for his Tory backbenchers. To whip them into shape? Perhaps. It's tragic, though.

I understand why big amounts of money would lure people into corruption. These guys went down for a relatively small amount of money. They bit the canvas, they took a dive for what at the end of the day was a relatively small amount of money. Oh, big money when you talk about the moms and their kids living in poverty, but in the total scheme of things, when you're talking about increasing salaries of $8,000 to $9,000 to $10,000 a year, it's tragic how a caucus would bite the canvas and take a dive for a small, in relative terms, amount of money.

It speaks to the inability of any of these Tory backbenchers to stand up and stand firm and stand strong and indeed speak out for their constituents rather than speak out as per the instructions of their whip, whoever that might be at any given point in time. Once again, let's not expect to see any dissenting votes from Tory backbenchers today, even though they know as well as any opposition member how pathetically inadequate this legislation is.

Workfare? Ontario Works? My foot. It's the same old welfare system, only rolled back 40, 50, indeed 60 years. It's a welfare system that demeans and terrorizes what are almost inevitably women and kids on welfare, women and kids who need assistance. It's a welfare system that encourages increased poverty and pushes people further and further into the depths of that poverty so that their chances of ever escaping from it become increasingly inhibited and impaired. You know that, Speaker, and you know who I'm talking about.

Four cities on venue of tour that this government selected, and not one of those cities, not even in North Bay, once proud to call itself the home of the Premier of Ontario, the home of Mike Harris, could this government muster up anything by way of support for what's contained in either of the two parts of Bill 142.

The fear it has generated -- fear from the 60-to-64-year-olds this government intends to send out on its phoney workfare schemes, be it moving rocks from pile to pile or painting park benches or indeed perhaps taking work away from other municipal or regional employees who normally should be doing those kinds of labours.

Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): You know that's not in here.

Mr Kormos: Well, what isn't in here is the exemption section. It was the narcoleptic tendencies of at least one of the Tory backbenchers sitting on committee that resulted in the Tories defeating one of the crucial sections of their bill, the section that exempted --

Hon Noble Villeneuve (Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, minister responsible for francophone affairs): You've got Hansard all confused.

Mr Kormos: As his chin rested on his chest, as his eyes were concealed by his lids, as the spittle drooled from the corner of his mouth, joining the table, as he was off in rapid-eye-movement dreaming, the government backbenchers supported the opposition's defeat of a crucial part of Bill 142. I would have been much prouder to have been able to say it was as a result of their courage and their willingness to stand up for the poor in this province, but it was the Cafonesque -- that's a neologism if there ever was one, but it's acquired some real currency here in the province -- the Cafonesque sleeping at the switch by Harris's minions at the committee table. He's going to see some catch-up, I have no doubt, in relatively short order.

These people should have heard, could have heard had they been listening, as we travelled to those four cities, as we spent time here in Toronto, the people who are poor and who are going to be victimized by 142. They could have heard about how much of the reduction of the population on the welfare rolls has probably turned into the homeless who increasingly occupy the streets, not just of Toronto but of small-town Ontario as well.


They would have heard of the deaths of the homeless in this city acquiring tragic proportions, becoming, all too sadly, a regular event. They might have heard from people like Ms Petzoldt, who, along with Sherrie Tingley from Barrie, was at the committee. Ms Petzoldt had some things to say in a column in the Toronto Star. It was written by Michele Landsberg.

One of the things we learned while we were on this committee, if you didn't know before, is that most of the people on welfare, women and kids, came from backgrounds and from homes that were supported as the result of wage-earners being out there working; that most of the children on welfare weren't born into welfare, but were forced on to welfare by circumstances surely beyond their control.

Ms Petzoldt had something to say about this very Victorian and paternalistic attitude of this government, that they're going to pat these people on the head and help them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Ms Petzoldt referred to the programs that she described as the programs designed to teach single moms five ways to cook a chicken. Her response to that, and I quote: "Don't teach me five ways to cook a chicken. Just give me the goddamned chicken." That's what she said. Most women on welfare are there because they lost their job or they fled a bad marriage. Ms Petzoldt wasn't going to take that sort of crap from this government. She wasn't going to be lectured on five ways to cook a chicken. She just wanted the damned chicken, because she has kids to feed.

She's not unemployed through any fault of her own and she never chose to be unemployed, nor did she choose to be poor, nor did her kids. One of the promises this government made was the creation of 725,000 new jobs. I have no doubt, because we've done some research too about some new jobs here in the province of Ontario -- they are jobs that are inevitably part-time, temporary and minimum wage or sub-minimum wage.

The crisis in this country just a few weeks ago -- in Ottawa they responded -- was that unemployment stood a chance of dropping below 9%. So what did they do in Ottawa? They raised interest rates, because they talk about that as economic growth that's unacceptable. It's unacceptable in Mike Harris's Ontario that unemployment should drop below 9%. It's unacceptable that the poorest in our society should be punished for being victims of fiscal policies of Harris and his gang and his Bay Street buddies that encourage lower and lower wages.

There's great wealth being created in this province, great wealth in the midst of this incredible unemployment, in the midst of wages that have dropped incredibly over the course of the last years. Great wealth has been created and it's being held in the hands of fewer and fewer people and this government is doing everything it can to make sure that continues to be the case and becomes an entrenched status quo.

We spent six days listening to submissions about Bill 142. We spent six days listening to the pathetic spin. From time to time, I have praise for the script writers in the Tory back rooms. From time to time, I have praise for them. From time to time, it's reasonably good stuff. When it's been slick marketing stuff that comes from the Tory back rooms and their little workers at their personal computers and at their screens, I've been inclined to give credit for it.

But the pathetic stuff that was used to try to spin Bill 142 was the most miserable and deceitful effort to disguise a cruel and harsh bit of legislation. Day after day, the spin is that people on FBA currently are going to be grandparented into schedule B. Government backbenchers insisted on it, because that's what they've been told, and some of them actually believed it. They insisted that FBA recipients were going to be transferred on to the Ontario Disability Support Program Act.

I tell you there should be great fear out there among those people currently receiving FBA, because this act repeals the Family Benefits Act, abolishes it, ends it forever. And while there's a rollover instantaneously on to schedule B of Bill 142 -- persons with disabilities -- there's also section 6 of schedule D, which immediately requires that once those people are rolled over on to Bill 142, to maintain their position on the persons with disabilities program, they have to be eligible for it by virtue of the criteria in schedule B.

This bill is a successful depopulation of the rolls of support from the Family Benefits Act. It has -- and you'll hear more about this -- created a threshold for persons with disabilities so that only the very smallest number of persons with disabilities will ever qualify, and then what they'll qualify for remains entirely at the discretion of this government. The bill is an effort, and a successful one at that, to take from the poorest in our society, to do what? You know the theme that's been constant for two and a half years now. Gut health care, gut education, steal from the poorest and inevitably kids, and why? To pay off that $5-billion-plus tax break every year, two thirds of which goes to the top 10% of income earners.

The government created myths and tried to exploit them. But I tell you, the people of this province are aware of the potential. They're aware that part of the scheme is about privatization of the system, that Andersen Consulting is in there like a dirty shirt, just like they have been out in New Brunswick, where they've pulled millions of dollars out of the social assistance system and have taken it from the pockets of people who need it and deserve it, and where as part of the cost-cutting, case workers who were left in the system -- because hundreds of case workers lost their jobs, were terminated -- were told they could spend no more than four and a half minutes each month talking to each client.

Andersen Consulting has made a fortune off the course of privatization in New Brunswick. They stand to make a fortune getting rich off the poor, because their friends, their buddies, their cronies, their pals are here in power at Queen's Park.

This government has been pathetically troughing their porcine gobbling at the expense of the poorest and the weakest and the sickest and the youngest and at the expense of women and seniors. This is something about which none of us should be proud. We'd like to see a little bit of courage from government backbenchers come time for this vote. I'm afraid that the fuelling of the trough has overridden any potential for that.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): "A few times a week the fellows who work for the town have lunch at the local restaurant. Just after noon they pile into the coffee shop, grabbing the big round table in the corner. Some of the guys are yardmen. The others are garbage collectors. They have all the gear: work boots, coveralls, big mitts slapped down on the table. Everybody knows them and everybody gives them the manly nod. They are workers, good workers, and they carry themselves accordingly.

"It's not quite the same when the workfare people come in for a coffee break. They seem a tad sullen, and they're cold, hands pulled up inside their coat sleeves. They don't have all the gear. They don't get the manly nod and they don't carry themselves as workers.

"It's not surprising, I suppose. The Ontario government did not run on a ticket of transforming welfare recipients into workers. They did not promise the electorate innovative solutions that would ease the damage of unemployment.


"Instead, they played on society's malingering desire to prevent welfare bums from getting something for nothing. When the government talks about welfare, they almost always mention fraud. Tales of welfare abuse have proliferated to the point where the single mom and the unemployed worker have become a veritable Bonnie and Clyde. Fingerprint them and make them work for what they owe us, personally and collectively, as if our very tax dollars are being spirited away to pay for some guy's coffee and doughnut at the closest Tim Hortons.

"One does not have to be a fan of the social service status quo to be offended by the Tory agenda. Anyone who works with the poor will tell you that second- or third-generation welfare is a terrible thing. It robs an individual of the ability to explore their talents, experience the pride of a job well done and achieve some fiscal independence. Welfare is an emergency measure so that none of us must go hungry or without shelter. It should not be a way of life. Welfare is a dull and dreary alternative to meaningful work.

"Workfare could have been the first step in a concerted effort to provide people with meaningful work. The chronically unemployed, along with those sidelined by the new economy, could have been part of a provincial public works effort. There is no shortage of roads to be repaired or public housing to be maintained or school children to be tutored.

"For the workers performing these jobs, the welfare could have been called wages. But this would mean they would be government employees. This indeed would have been revolutionary. But despite all the hoopla, workfare is not at all part of a revolution. It is only reactionary and mean-spirited.

"Workfare is a retrograde initiative. The government intends to refuse workfare participants their status as `real workers.' In recent hearings on the implementation of the government's law, the Tories on the committee were either snoozing or daydreaming when a vote was taken ensuring that those on workfare be covered under the basic employment standards laws of the province. The motion passed, much to the chagrin of the government. Consequently, it will now be forced to bring in a special amendment stripping workers of the basic standards guaranteed anyone who works in the province of Ontario.

"Writing in the Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day turned to papal authority to call our attention to the need for work with dignity. `The popes have hit the nail on the head: "No man may outrage with impunity that human dignity which God Himself treats with reverence.... Religion teaches the rich man and the employer that their work people are not their slaves; that they must respect in every man his dignity as a man and as a Christian; that labour is an honourable employment...."'

"There is nothing intrinsically degrading about painting fire hydrants, picking up litter or whatever, unless those in charge of the work make it that way. Underlying is the belief that the poor and unemployed cannot really contribute to society -- they can only be prevented from abusing it.

"The government's program to get people working does not free them from the economic and spiritual impoverishment of welfare; it is just more of the same. Until this changes, participants are unlikely to have a seat at the big round table in the corner where all workers should feel welcome."

This is an article written in the Catholic New Times, November 30, by Lauren Griffin, who lives in Cobalt, Ontario. For me, it probably pulls together all the thoughts I have about this program that is being imposed on the most marginalized and poorest among us in the province of Ontario today.

Who will ever forget that day in July 1995 when this government, the government of all the people of Ontario, this government, one of the richest jurisdictions in the world, particularly in Canada, decided as one of its first acts of responsibility on taking the helm to cut 21.6% of the income of the most vulnerable and marginalized and poorest in our communities? Who will ever forget that? I certainly won't. It's up there as the mark of this government, actually the lowest this government has gone.

We have before us this week in this Legislature three pieces of legislation that will change dramatically the face of Ontario: Bill 160, which we've heard a lot about; Bill 152, which we've heard a lot about; and Bill 142, which in my mind is the worst of the three. They're all connected and they all come together to beat down on the workers and the poor of this province and to change the system so that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But the worst of the lot, the worst of the pack, because of what it is doing to the most vulnerable and the marginalized and the poorest, is Bill 142.

The United Church says, "The very first priority of any government" -- particularly this government -- "today in Ontario must be to stop the slashing of the safety net that we as a society wove under the feet of our neighbours, the means by which we joined in making justice and love concrete among us." They go on to say that what we're missing is a spirit of community and a spirit of leadership.

To listen to this government, you'd think that what they did in July 1995 has resulted in literally thousands of people across Ontario getting new jobs. Let me tell you very briefly where those people went. Here's an article in the Toronto Sun, Thursday, October 9: "Homelessness at a 30-year Low." That's where they are. They're out on the streets. They can't afford to house themselves any more. They can't afford to feed their children --

Interjection: A 30-year high.

Mr Martin: A 30-year high rather. Sorry. "Homelessness at a 30-year High."


The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order, please. Member for Scarborough Centre, come to order.

Mr Martin: That's where they are. They're out on the streets of our communities. They can no longer afford to house themselves or to feed their children. What's happening out there? TB plagues our homeless.

Here's another article that talks about what's happening to the people you folks took 20% of their income away from. It says "Welfare Cuts Worsen Child Poverty in Our Largest City." That's what's happening. It's not going unnoticed. People know what you're doing. I guess what surprises me more than anything is that you're not willing to listen to them, even those who are most thoughtful, those who are most serious about the business of taking care of people and about where this province is going in the future.

Here's a letter that was sent to Mike Harris by some of the leaders of the most well-known church communities in the province. It goes like this:

"Dear Premier Harris:

"We are writing this open letter to you as religious leaders of faith groups from across Ontario. We have been meeting for the past year and a half in anticipation of a meeting with you to express our serious concerns for the spiritual and moral crisis facing our province largely as a result of the social policies being undertaken by your government.

"From reports received from local communities and from our meetings with provincial organizations and groups, we are deeply concerned that the situation is deteriorating for many people who have been adversely affected by cuts to their limited incomes, reductions in the services available and a punitive attitude towards them that cripples their self-esteem and undercuts their place in the community. We are also aware of an increasing dependence on religious and voluntary service agencies which are not equipped or financed to cope with these escalating demands. We are alarmed by a trend, which we perceive, to blame immigrants, welfare recipients, those who are unemployed, the disabled, those on workers' compensation and those forced to live on the streets, as responsible for their own suffering. In our view this has led to a moral crisis in this province characterized by a lessening of civility, the abandonment of compassion and an abandonment of our mutual responsibility to meet the needs of our neighbours."

It goes on: "Since you have been unable to meet with us, we felt that we needed to express to you and the members of your government our serious concerns. As we have said to you, and to previous governments, it is our conviction that the true stature of a society is measured not by how it treats those who are successful, but by its commitment to ensuring a decent life for those on the margins of the community."

This is signed by almost every religious leader of any significance in Ontario today. That's in response to what has already happened and raises a red flag about what's to come if we pass Bill 142. Bill 142, as we know, is about workfare.

Let me just for a couple of seconds share with you some of what's happening in the state of New York in the United States of America, where a class action suit was taken against Mr Giuliani on behalf of a number of people who found themselves in workfare. Here are a couple of examples of case studies.

Here's a person, 44 years old, on workfare: "I keep a log of my daily activities.... On June 18, while riding in the van, we came across two dead cats and two dead dogs. They had been dumped by the side of the road. Because I have no gloves, I had to pick them up with my bare hands. The animals had been run over by automobiles and were oozing blood and entrails. When I picked up the animals with my bare hands to throw them into the garbage truck, the guts splattered on my shoes and pants. My co-worker vomited. My supervisor, sitting in the van, said nothing. I have seen other people who were terminated by my supervisor for refusing to pick up things, and I was afraid that if I refused to leave the van or left the carcasses in the gutter I would be terminated also."

This is workfare. This is what people are expected to do on workfare by a government that doesn't even want to allow them to be covered by the basic standards of employment in this province.

Here's another lady, 57 years old. She says: "Since March 1997 I have worked for the New York City Department of Sanitation, sweeping up streets and picking up garbage. The garbage includes broken glass, nails, syringes, needles, used diapers, used condoms, used tampons and dead rats. We also encounter a lot of half-empty containers with strange-smelling liquids in them and a lot of dirty, discarded clothing which may be infested with germs."


Mr Martin: This may be funny to you, but it's certainly not funny to these people.

"There is nowhere to wash your hands before lunch, and my hands are often dirty from picking up garbage. I always worry about germs and often I do not eat. And now that the weather is hot, I get terribly thirsty on the job, but there is no bathroom to use and I am afraid of having to urinate with nowhere to go."

This is what the people in New York are doing on workfare. What do we do about this? Well, we join with those people out there who are objecting.

Mr Gary Connolly is still on a hunger strike at Trinity-St Paul's United Church at 427 Bloor Street West to protest the initiatives of this government. I ask all of you out there who have an interest in this to be there with him.

The Deputy Speaker: Mrs Ecker has moved third reading of Bill 142. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1745 to 1750.

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


Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Bassett, Isabel

Beaubien, Marcel

Boushy, Dave

Brown, Jim

Carr, Gary

Carroll, Jack

Clement, Tony

Cunningham, Dianne

Danford, Harry

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Eves, Ernie L.

Fisher, Barbara

Ford, Douglas B.

Fox, Gary

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Guzzo, Garry J.

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Johnson, David

Johnson, Ron

Klees, Frank

Leach, Al

Leadston, Gary L.

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Parker, John L.

Pettit, Trevor

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Runciman, Robert W.

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Sheehan, Frank

Skarica, Toni

Smith, Bruce

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tsubouchi, David H.

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Villeneuve, Noble

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.

The Speaker: All those opposed, please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Cordiano, Joseph

Cullen, Alex

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Grandmaître, Bernard

Hampton, Howard

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lankin, Frances

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

McGuinty, Dalton

McLeod, Lyn

Miclash, Frank

Morin, Gilles E.

North, Peter

Patten, Richard

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Pupatello, Sandra

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Wildman, Bud

Wood, Len

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 67; the nays are 35.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried. Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

It now being nearly 6 o'clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1754.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.