37e législature, 1re session

L034 - Thu 23 Dec 1999 / Jeu 23 déc 1999
















































The House met at 1330.




Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my colleagues within all the parties all the best through the holiday season, the residents of Ontario and, in particular, the residents of Elgin-Middlesex-London.

The Ministry of Natural Resources owns and operates approximately 324 dams in this province. The purpose of these dams is primarily flood control. Many of these structures, though, are in poor condition due to underfunding. When the dam falls and fails, there could be catastrophic environmental damage caused by the release of huge quantities of silt and sediment. There's also potential for loss of life and property during a flood.

An example of the consequences of allowing dams to fall into disrepair is the flood of the Saguenay region in Quebec in the summer of 1996. In that case, many government and privately owned dams failed during heavy rainfall.

The government has made some overtures to allocate part of the SuperBuild Growth Fund towards dam maintenance and repair. Unfortunately, the government is also taking money out of the Ministry of Natural Resources to fund their tax cut. The water management section will have $1.7-million cut. The engineering budget will also be cut and reduced, $450,000 and $320,000 by 2000-01. This means 12 fewer engineers and staff monitoring the quality of dams across this province. This is over half the current staff of 19. We need engineers on the job to protect our property and our families.

It is ironic that the core business of the MNR is to ensure the protection of life, property and natural resources, yet the government chooses to ignore dams that are ticking time bombs.

I ask the Premier, the Treasurer and the Minister of Natural Resources to consider the importance of maintaining our province's dams. We must put proper resources into protecting ourselves from the dangers of flooding.


Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): Last week the honourable member for Sault Ste Marie made a very worthy statement and invited everyone to come to the Sault for all the great things they had to offer the winter tourist. I wish them all the best and hope that thousands of Americans from the upper Great Lakes make that trek.

However, for all of you people in the lower half of the province, you don't really have to go all the way to the Sault. The riding of Simcoe North, often called Huronia, offers you everything in winter recreation.

We had a great snowfall last week. Combined with the cold, crisp temperatures, the grooming machines started working the snowmobile trails. The Mount St Louis Moonstone ski resort, three miles from where I live, with expanded height on a major portion of the hill, was covered with downhillers and snowboarders this past weekend. The same can be said for Horseshoe Valley resort, where they have improved the skiing facilities, entertainment and accommodation this past summer.

In Huronia we have hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails, hardwood hills near Horseshoe Valley, the trails through our county forests, provincial parks and former rail lines.

Drop into one of our many curling facilities or take in a hockey game, where you will see either boys', girls' or old-timers' hockey. The winter carnival committees are getting set up for some great millennium weekends. There are excellent restaurants, accommodation and shopping. After a day outside in the cold, clean air, why not stop for an evening at Casino Rama? If you go about 80 kilometres north of Highway 401 on Highway 400, just after the beautiful city of Barrie, you'll come across the snowbelt.

You'll love the area. We'd love to have you. Treat yourself and your family to a taste of winter in the beautiful area of Huronia.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Residents of the constituency of St Catharines have some advice for the Minister of Transportation for the new year.

They are very dissatisfied with the sweetheart deal Mike Harris signed with a big out-of-province company to acquire, own and operate Highway 407. The government has given up ownership of a publicly owned highway, allowed the company to charge exorbitant tolls to motorists and has become the enforcer for payment of tolls by holding up the renewal of licences.

They are angry with the length of time required to arrange an appointment for a driver's test and the excessive charges for each test. They are perturbed that despite the graduated licence protocol and staging, so many people are failing their driver's tests.

Motorists are dismayed by the congested roads and the vastly increased number of trucks on our highways. They are worried about their safety when government cutbacks mean less frequent plowing and sanding of highways, and when transport trucks, sometimes ill-equipped and with aggressive drivers, travel at high speeds, even in bad weather and dangerous road conditions.

They would love to see GO Transit service extended to St Catharines and even to Niagara Falls, the MTO to hire adequate staff to process forms, and more funds devoted to public transit.

The people of the constituency of St Catharines are very reasonable, and if the minister were to comply with all these requests in the new year, I can assure you they would applaud him, as I would.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): Mr Speaker, let me first of all wish you, as well as all the members of this House, a very safe and happy holiday season.

I rise today to recognize the successful combination of volunteers, fundraising, holiday spirit and the residents of my riding of Peterborough.

Recently the Festival of Trees was successful in raising $255,000 for the St Joseph's Care Foundation, Hospice Peterborough and the Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

There are many keys to the triumph of this festival. This year's theme was changed to give a new enchanted forest look. The volunteers made an excellent effort to show visitors the fun and joy of the holidays, with bright lights, seasonal music, good food and good drink. In the end, the festival's attendance surpassed 20,000 people.

The festival spanned five days and nights, which turned our memorial centre into a winter wonderland carnival setting that gave the residents of my riding of Peterborough a reason to have some holiday fun, and all for a good cause. The benefits of such efforts are felt directly by our community, and I will be pleased to see the proceeds being spent on new medical equipment and services that will support the needs of Peterborough.

I would like to thank the organizers of the Festival of Trees for showing us that it is the giving that counts. I wish them the best of luck in 2000 for their 10th anniversary.

Warmest wishes to all members of this House, and especially to their families, who are anxious to see them.



Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): As we begin what could be the last day of sitting in this Legislature in the 20th century, it gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on the great moments and debates that have taken place in this House. As we wrap it up, we think about the role Ontario has played in Confederation throughout the 20th century, a century we began by saying it would be Canada's century.

We in the official opposition support the Prime Minister's clarity bill and are disappointed that the Premier of Ontario wouldn't take a stronger position in favour of the clarity bill and supporting the federal government. They want to talk about trade deals with Ohio and Michigan and have John Engler up here, instead of backing the federal government and standing up to Lucien Bouchard and the separatists in Quebec.

Ontario, through all three parties, has played a leading role in this country and a leading role in Confederation, and to see this government drop the ball on that important file, to see this government put our trading relationship with Ohio ahead of the history of this great country, is indeed an absolute shame as we close out the last day of the 20th century in this Legislature.

As we contemplate the future, we urge the government and we urge the Premier to do the right thing and support the Prime Minister on the clarity bill, to stand up to the separatists in Quebec and say that the 21st century will be Canada's as well.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): I feel greatly diminished as a parliamentarian in Ontario today and I submit that all members of this House should, because just a little bit later the Tory majority is going to end up voting for Gordon Miller as the new Environmental Commissioner of this province.

I want to read to the members for one last time something that Douglas Ruck, the Ombudsman of Nova Scotia, said:

"In years gone by-and I'll speak primarily of Nova Scotia-a former member of the House, or friend of a political individual, would receive a call and would be asked ... would you be interested in serving as Ombudsman? That does not mean that the selection was poor. It does not mean the person did not possess the particular attributes required to do the job. But it does mean that the perception was there that this person was beholden to the government of the day. And that becomes a weakness for the office."

That applies to the Ontario Environmental Commissioner. I'm very saddened that the government members have chosen not to see that.

I know that people are mad at me because primarily I'm the reason we're here today, for deferring the vote from yesterday. I was shocked that nobody from the Tory caucus, not one person, would stand up in support of my position.


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough Centre): I want to take this opportunity to speak about an issue of great importance to me personally. There's a large woodlot in front of the Scarborough Civic Centre. In the late 1980s this lot was jeopardized by development. As the Scarborough councillor for the area, I negotiated with the developers and successfully achieved city ownership of the woodlot.

The woodlot provides a wonderful piece of nature in an urban setting. The trees of the woodlot remind each and every Scarborough resident of the preciousness of life.

Today I wrote to Mayor Mel Lastman to ask for his assistance in dedicating the woodlot as a celebration of life. I have asked the mayor to help dedicate the woodlot in the memory of victims of violent crime. Victims of violent crime would be represented by a living, breathing memorial, a monument to lives tragically cut short.

The memorial would also serve as a reminder to all of us in this Legislature that there are horrible people in this world and we must do all we can to ensure that the citizens who put their confidence in us are protected from these animals.

I look forward to working with the mayor and my Scarborough caucus colleagues on this effort. While we may have differences from time to time, I have a great deal of respect for Mr Phillips and Mr Curling and I know I can count on their support in this effort as well.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands): Mr Speaker, let me read this:

'Twas the meeting of cabinet and all through the room
was a festering feeling, the essence of doom.

All the heartless Tories were there,
their knives true and steady,

Visions of funding carnage soon to be ready.

They grinned and they chortled
as they slashed and they hacked,

Cutting services to education, environment, health care
with whack after whack.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear
But Premier Mike with a wide, mischievous grin
from ear to ear.

He nodded and winked as he led the attack
cutting funding to kids who can't vote and can't hear.

He said, "Those with no vote, sight or sound really won't jeer."

With nary a thought to such a callous, cold act,
he signed and scribbled the directive, "Attack, attack."

All funding was gone as he strolled from the room,
leaving only those affected to feel the tragic gloom.

Then he turned to all those assembled and spoke with great pride:

"There's still more to come. I'm Premier Mike
and I'm just hitting my stride."

Premier, as we head into the new millennium, it is not too late yet to show compassion and govern on behalf of all the people of Ontario.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all.


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Southwest): Today I'd like to talk about an event which recently occurred in Scarborough and serves to underscore the spirit of the season.

I had the privilege of attending the sixth annual toy drive sponsored by the Toronto Police Auxiliary for 41, 42 and 54 divisions on Sunday, December 12. I was pleased to join Superintendent David Dicks of 41 Division, Superintendent Jim Bamford of 42 Division, and Auxiliary Superintendent Frank Fernandes and Sylvia Hudson of the police services board at this event.

The public were asked to donate unwrapped toys or cash to purchase toys. Toys were then distributed to various women's shelters within the three divisions. The Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board also identified children in need at two other locations.

Many groups and individuals were heavily involved in the actual distribution of toys: people like Al Powell of the Blue Knights; the TTC, which donated buses to make the actual deliveries; Canadian Tire, which supplied a tractor trailer; and the Salvation Army, which supplied much-appreciated coffee and hot chocolate to the volunteers.

Toys have been distributed to nearly 1,000 children who otherwise may have had a less than merry Christmas.

Those individuals, organizations and companies that were involved in this great effort deserve our admiration and appreciation, and on behalf of my constituents in Scarborough Southwest, I would like to thank them for their outstanding efforts.

I'd like to also take this opportunity to wish all of my constituents in Scarborough Southwest and all members of the Legislative Assembly a very happy holiday season and best wishes for the new year.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): The member for St Catharines on a point of order.

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Labour): No, we're not doing it today.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): You don't know what I'm going to ask yet. The Speaker is very understanding.

I would like to ask the House, in its benevolence this afternoon, if it will give permission, unanimous consent, to proceed with second and third reading of my gas prices bill.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? I'm afraid I heard a no.



Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): I beg leave to present the first report, 1999, from the standing committee on regulations and private bills.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Ms Lankin: No.

Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if the Speaker might determine whether or not we have a quorum. This is most disturbing.

The Speaker: Would the Clerk check for a quorum. There is a quorum.



Mr John O'Toole (Durham): On a point of order, Speaker: It is my privilege to recognize in the visitors' gallery today young Josh Ouellette, the son of MPP Jerry Ouellette.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I want to thank the member. He will know that it's not a point of order, and it would not be a point order if I were to recognize my daughter, who is also in the members' gallery. Dad will be in trouble for centring his daughter out, I'm sure.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I guess for the first time in this House, on the last day in this century, I am putting forward a motion under standing order 72 to refer a bill out to committee after first reading. That's what this motion is about.

I move that, pursuant to standing order 72, the order for second reading of Bill 33, An Act to require fair dealing between parties to franchise agreements, to ensure that franchisees have the right to associate and to impose disclosure obligations on franchisors, be discharged and the bill be referred to the standing committee on regulations and private bills.

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

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): Can I speak to it, Speaker?

The Speaker: The member for Hamilton West.

Mr Christopherson: Just very briefly, two quick things: One is that it is historic to the extent that this is a new clause in the rules of this House. The intent, taken at its face value and believed as such, was that the minister wanted to try other methods of engaging the public in the process of bill-passing. Since we're seeing so very little of that-

Mr Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay): Virtually none.

Mr Christopherson: -virtually none, I am reminded by my colleague-we're pleased that if you can't find your way to using the old clauses, maybe we can get you used to using the new clauses. Whatever it takes that brings a little bit of the public into this process is definitely a positive step, given how many times you have stopped the process of committees and the public being involved.

I also point out that my colleague from Sault Ste Marie, Tony Martin, has been very active in this whole issue. Indeed, he had a private member's bill. He has been, to his credit, working with the minister responsible. This is going out to committee in large part because of Tony Martin's efforts in making this an issue and ensuring that during the intersession the public gets a chance to work on this very important bill.

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


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): I seek unanimous consent to move a motion without notice relating to the standing committees.

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

Hon Mr Sterling: I move that the following committees be authorized to meet during the winter recess, in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the assembly, to consider the following:

The standing committee on general government, for up to three days, to consider Bill 37, An Act to amend the Collection Agencies Act; and

The standing committee on justice and social policy, for up to four days, to consider Bill 31, An Act, in memory of Christopher Stephenson, to establish and maintain a registry of sex offenders to protect children and communities; and

The standing committee on finance and economic affairs to consider matters relating to pre-budget consultations; and

The standing committee on public accounts to consider the reports of the Provincial Auditor; and

The standing committee on regulations and private bills, for up to four days, to consider Bill 33, An Act to require fair dealing between parties to franchise agreements, to ensure that franchisees have the right to associate and to impose disclosure obligations on frachisors.

The Speaker: Mr Sterling has moved-dispense? Dispensed.

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



The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): On December 21, Mr Sterling moved that a 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 Gord Miller as Environmental Commissioner for the province of Ontario as provided in section 49 of the Environmental Bill of Rights, to hold office under the terms and conditions of the said act, and that the address be engrossed and presented to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor in Council by the Speaker."

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

The division bells rang from 1356 to 1401.

The Speaker: All those in favour of Mr Sterling's motion will please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Baird, John R.

Barrett, Toby

Beaubien, Marcel

Chudleigh, Ted

Clark, Brad

Clement, Tony

Coburn, Brian

DeFaria, Carl

Dunlop, Garfield

Ecker, Janet

Elliott, Brenda

Flaherty, Jim

Galt, Doug

Gill, Raminder

Hardeman, Ernie

Hastings, John

Hodgson, Chris

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Kells, Morley

Klees, Frank

Mazzilli, Frank

Molinari, Tina R.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Runciman, Robert W.

Sampson, Rob

Skarica, Toni

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Sterling, Norman W.

Stewart, R. Gary

Stockwell, Chris

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Turnbull, David

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, David

The Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time to be recognized by the Clerk.


Agostino, Dominic

Bradley, James J.

Caplan, David

Christopherson, David

Churley, Marilyn

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Kennedy, Gerard

Kormos, Peter

Lankin, Frances

Levac, David

Marchese, Rosario

Peters, Steve

Phillips, Gerry

Pupatello, Sandra

Sergio, Mario

Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 47; the nays are 16.

The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Because I know that all members are eager to return home to their constituencies and to their families for Christmas, and because of the spirit of the season-this has put me, and I'm sure the opposition, in a generous mood-I'm asking for unanimous consent to adjourn the House at this point in time.

The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent? I'm afraid I heard some noes.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): My question is for the Minister of Health. Recently you've made a number of announcements and, once again, we're very anxious to see how much action actually follows your announcement. We asked you last year yet about pediatric oncologists for the children's hospital in London. Now I'm going to ask you again about pediatric neurosurgeons and pediatric endocrinologists. I'd like to know, in all the flurry of announcements that you've made recently, which announcement specifically assists the children's hospital for southwestern Ontario, affiliated with the London Health Sciences Centre? Which of your announcements will assist in their severe shortage of specialists for children?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): As the member knows, we have been extremely responsive to the needs of the hospitals throughout the province of Ontario. In fact, Mr MacKinnon this morning indicated his pleasure. As a result of the dialogue we've had with the Ontario Hospital Association and also with the hospitals in the province, we've made available today an additional $196 million, which increases hospital funding this year by $600 million. I have a news release here from Credit Valley Hospital, who indicate that they are ecstatic and that this addresses the needs of the community.

Mrs Pupatello: Minister, I realize this is the Christmas season. I asked you very specifically about the children's hospital in London. This is a hospital that serves southwestern region children from Windsor through to Owen Sound. They treat emergency cases. In particular, the pediatric neurosurgeon there deals with 400 cases of children who need follow-up and immediate care for neurosurgical issues. I'd like to know, in all your announcements, specifically what are you doing about the shortage of pediatric neurosurgeons for the children's hospital in London?

Hon Mrs Witmer: As the member opposite full well knows, we have worked very co-operatively with the children's hospital. In fact, when there have been other indications of needs to respond to children's issues, we have responded. They have indicated their extreme pleasure. When we were looking for the pediatric oncologist, certainly we were able to work co-operatively and ensure that the individuals could be provided. POGO, the network that looks after children's services, works with us on those issues as well.

As the member also knows, Dr McKendry has just issued his report. He has indicated that there are additional issues that need to be addressed. Yesterday we set up an expert panel which will enable us to more accurately identify in the future the actual needs of people in Ontario and ensure that we are educating the number of physicians who are going to be required to respond to the specific specialities, including the individuals the member opposite has indicated are needed.

Mrs Pupatello: Let me quote exactly what Dr Frewen from the children's hospital has to say, because you need to quote the people who are actually involved, not those who are doing additional reports for you and, frankly, wasting time when you have solutions already at your table. What we know now is that children who seek non-urgent pediatric neurology consultations may wait up to 11 months. Minister, for the entire southwest region we currently have one pediatric neurosurgeon at that hospital. They asked you. Last March, on March 23, you specifically made an announcement there, but what Dr Frewen says is that the news "must be followed up with necessary resources to hire additional professionals." The last time you made announcements regarding oncologists for children, for kids with cancer, it took months and months of continuous grinding to finally get something out of your ministry.

We in the southwest region are not prepared to wait months and months again for pediatric neurosurgeons or endocrinologists. These are children from all of the southwest who are serviced at this hospital. We don't want your announcements, Minister; we want to see the action, and we need to know exactly how much time before your ministry will give them the resources they require.

Hon Mrs Witmer: Our government has actually made tremendous progress in moving forward in increasing the number of specialists in Ontario. Since 1995 we have increased the number of specialists in this province by 450. Of course in yesterday's announcement I indicated that we were putting in place additional initiatives to encourage specialists back from the United States. We were increasing access for foreign physicians to practise in this province. We were giving increased opportunities for family physicians to gain training in specialities. I'm also pleased to say that we have invested $8.1 million in children's cancer and transplant services, and we will continue to ensure that the needs of not only children but all people in this province are addressed. That's why we made our announcement today of an additional $196 million for hospitals throughout the province of Ontario.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor West): My question is again for the Minister of Health. Frankly, you make lots of announcements. Unfortunately, you and your office do not follow through in actually doing what it is that you announce. In this case, you had yet another report thrown on you lap in the form of the McKendry report, and the McKendry report itemized for us what we have been telling you for more than a term. We've told you that the issue of doctors in Ontario is not just a distribution issue but it's also a supply issue. Your own ministry's report, under Dr McKendry, is confirming what we have said all along. You have a supply problem.

Minister, could you please stand today and explain, when your own report indicates that we have a shortage of up to 1,000 doctors, how is adding 12 spaces that may or may not be designated for foreign-trained doctors going to address the issue of a shortage of over 1,000? Is this, in fact, going to be as bad as how many people get cancer care on time, where you are hoping for 35%?

Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health and Long-Term Care): I'm very pleased to say that our government did undertake to look at this very complex issue of supply and distribution of physicians in Ontario.

This is an issue that all of my colleagues throughout Canada are dealing with. Unfortunately, as the population continues to grow and as the population continues to age, there is an increased need for family physicians and specialists in certain areas.

However, we are the very first province to undertake a review such as the one that was undertaken by Dr McKendry. He has been able to take a look at the entire scope of the problem, the entire cause of the problem. He has brought all of the data together. As a result of the information that he has given us yesterday, we are not only responding immediately but we are also establishing an expert panel under the leadership of Dr Peter George from McMaster, and we are developing, which has never happened in this province before, long-term strategies to make sure that physician supply responds to the-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I'm sorry, the minister's time is up. Supplementary.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands): Minister, you just don't get it. Dr McKendry talks about a shortage of 1,000 doctors in this province. You made a big announcement yesterday that dealt with 12 doctors-12. We need 1,000. That is 988 doctors short. You talk about communicating with the colleges. You talk about setting up expert panels. What you need to do is sit down with all the other people who are involved in the health care system in the province and do something about it.

You are in charge of the health care of the people of this province and you have let them down. When are you going to do something for the people of Ontario, especially all those individuals in North Frontenac, in Havelock, in Lansdowne, who are today doing without a family physician? They don't need expert panels; they need you to do something about it immediately with those concerned.

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's obvious that the opposition doesn't like the headlines in the paper this week indicating that we've improved access to emergency rooms, that we have provided $225 million for emergency rooms, another $90 million and another $97 million, that we have provided $30 million plus an additional $60 million yesterday for 56 emergency rooms; that yesterday we made an additional $11 million available to improve access to family doctors and specialists throughout Ontario, and today we've announced almost another $200 million. It's obvious they don't like the good headlines, that they don't like the fact that the health professionals are happy with the improved access and strengthening of the health system, but I can tell you that the letters we're getting indicate to us that people believe, as Dr McKendry said yesterday, "This province and this government are on the right track."

Mr Steve Peters (Elgin-Middlesex-London): My question is also for the Minister of Health. According to the ministry's own figures, the riding of Elgin-Middlesex-London is experiencing a terrible shortage of doctors. St Thomas is short 11 doctors; Aylmer is short four; Newbury is short three. Bayham township has one doctor for 5,000 people. While the McKendry report identified this as a problem with supply, you continue to act as though it's a distribution problem. In my riding there are at least two foreign-trained physicians, Ahmed Farah and Asha Abdi, who are on welfare. They can't get international medical training.

Your announcement yesterday introduced just 12 new spots to train foreign doctors. I can use all 12 of those doctors in my own riding alone. Why have you not increased the number of spaces in Ontario medical schools? Why have you not re-regulated medical school tuition? Why have you cancelled medical school tuition fees for residents?

Minister, will you take real action and solve the doctors' problem? Will you acknowledge that the problem is of supply and not of distribution? Will you increase the number of medical school spaces by over 15%?

Hon Mrs Witmer: It's obvious that the opposition has rather selective hearing. We have said that the issue of physicians is an issue of supply, distribution and also mix. The initiative that we undertook was to make sure that Dr McKendry could bring all the data together and that we could accurately determine the number of specialists who are needed, the number of family physicians who are needed, where they're needed.

Yesterday we did two things: We took some very immediate steps and we have increased opportunities for doctors to return to Canada from the United States. We've increased the number of foreign-trained doctors; we have increased opportunities for doctors to train in the north; and we have also set up the panel which will report on long-term strategies, work that has never been done in this province by any other government.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): I've got a couple of questions for mon ami M. Tony Clement, the Minister of Housing. Many people acknowledge, in Ontario at least, that we have a serious crisis of affordable rental housing in this province. The massive numbers of homeless are there, as everyone knows, with perhaps you as the only exception, in part because of a shortage of affordable rental housing. Your government gutted rent control and stopped the building of non-profit housing in the hope that the private sector would build the affordable housing.

Minister, your ministry released a business plan earlier this week which sets out some specific goals for private rental housing construction this year. Could you tell us what the official goal is?

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): The official goal is to get as far away as we can from the failed policies of the previous 10 to 15 years at the quickest possible rate. That's the official goal. We want to get away from paying $300 million in consultants' fees over a 10-year period. We want to get away from $550 million paid to architects over a 10-year period. We want to get away from $50 million being paid to lawyers over a 10-year period. We want to get away from that. We have some work to do.

I am pleased to report to this House once again that the social housing agreement, which we negotiated with the federal government, frees up funds for up to 10,000 hard-working Ontario families for rental supplements. It frees up money for $30 million for capital construction to make sure that our social housing units are in the best possible shape.

Those are our plans, and we have more to do. We have tried to take some taxes off building supplies for builders who want to build. The federal government has to do its part too, but I think together we can make a meaningful approach to this issue.


Mr Marchese: I'm pleased to report to this House that the minister hasn't read the business plan. But in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to help him out a little bit because I had a chance to review the plan. Your goal is to have 65 more rental units in communities with a low vacancy rate. That's your goal: 65 units.


Mr Marchese: I know it's a lot, but he gets to pat himself on the back if they build 65 units, which is a good thing.

The Golden task force said that we need to build anywhere from 7,500 to 9,500 new rental units and they're needed each year in the GTA alone. His goal, at least the plan which his ministry obviously has signed along to, says they can build up to 65 units. Those numbers are pathetic. Do you really think that an extra 65 units is a healthy rental market, Minister?

Hon Mr Clement: The honourable member well knows that we did make a very definitive break from the past. We said we wanted to get out of the bricks and mortar building business because governments, quite frankly, don't do a good job of deciding where and when and how to build affordable housing. We've seen the record of that 10-year period, that boondoggle period where they purported to help people but in fact the result was fewer resources going to those in need. The architects got paid, the lawyers got paid, everyone got paid, all the resources were going except to where they were needed-for people who needed the help. So we have said we're out of that business.

It means we are in the business of reconstructing a market economy for the rental housing industry to ensure that the incentives are there for those who genuinely need it. That means $2,000 per unit, fewer taxes from the provincial government. It means the federal government can do its part by reducing the GST.

Here's where Rosie, the honourable member for Trinity-Spadina, and I can work together. Let's you and I go to Parliament Hill and lobby our MPs to make sure that the GST is off rental housing construction. You and I can do it together.

Mr Marchese: I didn't know we were that close. But again, in the spirit of the holiday season, I take that as a kind remark.

But I've got to tell you, you've got to read the business plan, Minister; you have to. I'm referring to the plan, and you're referring to who knows what.

The feds announced a few bucks the other day, a lot of bucks, but there's nothing in there for the construction of housing. You folks have said, "We're not in the market." The private sector is not building, and your plan says 65 units. You see how pathetic that is?

Besides this goal, you've got another goal that you may not be proud of. It says that you will strive to have landlords pass 10% more in capital costs on to the tenants. That's another nice Christmas gift. That of course means there will be higher rents, as if already the $1,000 to $1,200 people are paying extra a year isn't enough.

Minister, someone may have sabotaged your business plan, I don't know, but I think you should withdraw that business plan which says that 65 more units mean a healthy rental market and which sets a higher rent increase as a cherished goal in terms of passing on capital costs. Scrap it. Do us all a favour.

Hon Mr Clement: I'd be happy to assist the honourable member in understanding what the business plan is all about. The business plan is all about making sure the proper resources are there for those who need those resources. That's why we were so proud to allocate, for up to 10,000 hard-working Ontario families, that rental supplement, because that isn't going to lawyers, it isn't going to consultants, it isn't going to builders; it's going for those in need.

When the honourable member talks about the plan, I encourage him to look at the whole picture, look at how this government is reorienting the way it is dealing with what is admittedly a market that needs to be reconstructed. I think the honourable member and I are on the same side in wanting to ensure that the people who genuinely need it get the help they need. That means reconstructing the market. It means making sure that the costs of construction are not overburdened by overregulation and red tape and costs like taxes. That is part of our business plan as well.

I say this to the honourable member: If he has any other suggestions on how to make sure we have a proper housing market, where those in need get that help, we'd be happy to listen to him.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): My question is for the Acting Premier. Your government has endured unprecedented criticism over what should have been the appointment of a non-partisan, politically independent guardian of the environment. Your appointment of a Tory party activist has no support in the environmental community. It does not have the full confidence of this House. It has left the public with no confidence in the independence of your new commissioner. You have weakened this most important office. You couldn't even meet the standard of political independence set for the staff of the Environmental Commissioner, let alone the commissioner itself.

Minister, will you commit today to conduct a review of the failure of your government to deliver on its promise of a truly non-partisan process, the failure of the process to scrutinize the close political connections between a candidate and the ruling party and the inability of the committee to be allowed to reach a unanimous decision?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): As the member opposite knows, Gord Miller was ranked as one of the top three candidates by the Legislative Assembly's human resources department. The Legislative Assembly ranking is based on each applicant's qualifications, independent of any partisan influences.

Gord Miller has more than 20 years of extensive experience in environmental awareness and action. He has his master's in ecology. The man is eminently qualified. He's had experience in both the academic world and in the business world. He's proved himself to be an advocate for environmental protection and has lectured extensively on many environmental issues at conferences and other places around the world.

As well, I'd like to point out to the member opposite that Mr Miller's name was not put forward by the PC caucus or party. He applied directly for this. We used the same process that was used when you were in power and chose his predecessor.

Ms Churley: Minister, you're wrong about that. The committee that chose the Ombudsman this time was able to come to a unanimous decision. That's what legislative positions are all about here. You still don't get it.

One of the reasons the position of the Environmental Commissioner is so important today is because your government has weakened the public's ability to scrutinize decisions affecting the environment of Ontario when it took away intervener funding. By cancelling intervener funding, you took away the voice of citizens who are not the rich and powerful friends of your Tory government. You have weakened their voice again today with this absolutely outrageous appointment.

Will you do something right for the environment today, for once, and restore intervener funding? Will you at least do one right thing on environmental protection in this province so that the citizens are heard?

Hon Mr Hodgson: I know the House leader would like to talk about the Environmental Commissioner.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): As you know, we went through a very public process which was recommended by all parties and talked about by all parties. We all talked about-

Ms Churley: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: What the minister says is not correct. There was not unanimous consent.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): That is not a point of order. The member take her seat. Government House leader.

Hon Mr Sterling: This same process was used in 1994 to pick the first Environmental Commissioner. There was a committee of the Legislature which sat down and considered a number of applicants. I believe there were over 70 in this case and about 200 in the previous process. They were narrowed down by the human resources department of the Legislature. Mr Miller came out as one of the top candidates. His ranking was supported by some members of the opposite party. That committee came forward and made a recommendation to the Legislature. The Legislature has now confirmed the recommendation of that Legislative Assembly committee.

I think it's incumbent on everybody to work together with the new Environmental Commissioner to make it work.

The Speaker: Order. The minister's time is up.

Hon Frank Klees (Minister without Portfolio): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it's important for members of this House to understand and for the public to know that the record of this House is that there were only 16 votes against this -

The Speaker: That's not a point of order. I thank the chief government whip.



Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Attorney General. This is the last question period, obviously, of this session. The minister would be aware of the very terrible tapes which exist, made by Paul Bernardo and Ms Homolka, and that the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy are extremely concerned that those tapes might be shown again in some court case. They took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada to try to prevent those tapes from being shown again. They incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs. There was a French-Mahaffy integrity fund set up to assist them.

Since they have been unable, through the court system, to reach a situation where those tapes will never be shown again, can the Attorney General report to the House on any possible way that he and his government may be able to prevent those tapes from being shown again?

Hon Jim Flaherty (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I thank the member for St Catharines for the question, which is a matter of concern to all of us, I'm sure, who have lived through the years since these tragedies occurred in Ontario. I'm mindful also, though, that there is at least one criminal prosecution of which I'm aware, and I'm sure the honourable member for St Catharines is also aware, which is still proceeding through the courts. I understand part of that prosecution may involve that issue of the videotapes. In those circumstances there's really no comment that I can offer to the member, other than that I'm mindful of the issue. When it is free of court proceedings and it can be addressed by government, by the Attorney General, I'd be happy to try to address it.

Mr Bradley: Mr Attorney General, you are correct, of course, in talking about a court case that is there now, and I don't expect you're going to make any comment about that court case. But what has raised the concern of the parents once again is that indeed there is a court case where there was at least discussion or a request that the tapes be shown again for the purposes of the defence of the individual involved in this case.

I know the last time this situation arose, the parents were understandably disappointed that the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario did not-and the minister explained his reason-intervene to assist them in their court case as it went up to the Supreme Court. The minister did explain that.

I guess what they're looking for, and I appreciate the minister saying this, is that you will explore, at least, any regulatory or legislative measures that might be taken which would prohibit the showing of those tapes again, and in fact would perhaps bring about the destruction of those tapes, except in extreme circumstances, which the family would be prepared to comply with.

Hon Mr Flaherty: The prosecution that is ongoing presently, as I understand it, has not yet proceeded to trial, so it's not a situation where the Attorney General can intervene, as it is when a matter is elsewhere in the system.

I can say this: We are, as you know, extremely conscious of victims of crime. We've established the first office for victims of crime in Ontario. We're moving ahead to empower that office and to address some of the important programs and services that victims of crime are entitled to, and that of course includes the tragedy that occurs to families in cases like the Homolka and Bernardo cases and the families who were sadly and severely affected by those tragedies. So we're mindful of that.

As we move forward I hope all of us, working together, can do a better job to enhance the protections for victims of crime in Ontario.


Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill): In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to wish all of my constituents from Thornhill, all the members of the assembly and all the members here today a very merry Christmas, happy holidays and the best for the year 2000.

My question is for the member for Nepean-Carleton, my good friend the Minister of Community and Social Services. I read with interest a recent account of an Angus Reid poll that found that support for workfare in Canada is a staggering 84%. One of the most striking points of the Angus Reid poll that I noticed was that the support for workfare is spread evenly among most groups in the province. There doesn't appear to be a geographical gap, an educational gap, an age gap or a gender gap, yet there seems to be a lot of vocal protest from members across the floor and special interest groups across the province about Ontario Works

Minister, what have you found the level of support to be for the program in your travels to Ontario Works sites across the province?

Hon John R. Baird (Minister of Community and Social Services, minister responsible for francophone affairs): I'm not surprised at the findings of this recent Angus Reid poll. What I've found over the last six months as I've travelled around the province is much like what I found over the last four years, that there is a tremendous amount of support for workfare, for earnfare and for learnfare. I say to the member for Thornhill that there is a substantial amount of support among participants themselves and among caseworkers around Ontario.

I recently met an individual in Barrie who talked about her experience in community placement. She talked about how important it was for her to get some experience. This woman told me that she got a job. I asked her what was so important in her getting that job. She pulled out of her pocket a piece of paper that had been folded many times and showed me the reference letter she had got as a result of her community placement. I spoke to an individual in Niagara Falls who told me about the exciting opportunity they got. They didn't get a reference letter at the end of their placement; they got a job at the site. Our reforms are helping move people from welfare to work.

Mrs Molinari: Thank you, Minister. It's good to hear all of the success stories.

Another success for this: I have read a number of stories from across the province about surpluses accruing for municipalities because of the decline of welfare caseloads. My riding of Thornhill is in York region, and I was astonished to discover that last year alone taxpayers in York region saved over $48.3 million because of the decline in the number of people relying on welfare. York region itself saved almost $10 million last year. This is the 20% savings that the municipalities incurred as we watched more and more people work for welfare.

Minister, are the savings being realized in York region an anomaly? Is this a simple blip, or do you see this as a long-term trend across the province?

Hon Mr Baird: I want to tell the member for Thornhill that it's not an isolated incident. What we're finding is that a lot of people are able to get the dignity of a job as a result of our welfare reforms and as a result of a growing economy.


Hon Mr Baird: I know the members opposite don't want to hear about the good news going on in the Ontario economy and about the success of our welfare reforms.

I look at the side benefits. In addition to helping people, our welfare reforms are also helping taxpayers. I look at some of the clips I see: "Durham Predicts Surplus"-


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. I can't hear the answer.

Hon Mr Baird: They don't like good news over there, my colleague says.

"Durham Predicts Surplus: The surplus is due mainly to major reductions in welfare rolls. Lots of places to put the $2.4-million surplus from region's social services budget."

Kitchener-Waterloo, the London Free Press: "A $1.3-million saving in community services from lower than expected caseload."

I say to the member for Thornhill that even in my own community of Ottawa-Carleton, Bob Chiarelli is able to deliver a tax cut this year because the welfare rolls are continuing to go down.

The members opposite talked about the local services realignment-more jobs, more hope-

The Speaker: Order. I'm afraid the minister's time is up.



Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Acting Premier. He will be aware that yesterday the World Trade Organization issued a report indicating that the Canada-US auto pact is in violation of trade laws, and that when the report is issued, Canada has 90 days in which to comply with it.

Nothing is more important to Ontario's economy than the auto sector, and what has driven the auto sector has been the Canada-US auto pact. My question to you is this: Recognizing the importance that the elimination of the auto pact would have on Ontario, what is the government's estimate of the impact on the auto sector if the auto pact is eliminated, and what have you done about it?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I know that my colleague Minister Palladini is looking forward to meeting with his federal Liberal counterpart in the new year to discuss the World Trade Organization's decision and to communicate that.

Seeing how this is the last sitting in this millennium, I think you've mentioned a smorgasbord of issues here. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on the last year, on the good news that has taken place in Ontario. The auto sector, along with all other sectors in Ontario's economy, has seen a tremendous year, in large part because of the hard work and dedication of our Premier, Mike Harris, and our caucus in implementing the policies.

Unemployment is down in this province, from 6.6% one year ago to 5.6% today, the lowest level in the country; 100,000 fewer people are on welfare, trapped in that dependency trap; and Ontario's economic growth leads all the G7 nations. It has truly been a great year for the people of Ontario.

Mr Phillips: I don't mean to embarrass you at all, but Ontario needs an answer. The auto pact has been what has driven Ontario's economy. As you know, there is nothing more important than the auto sector in Ontario.

The World Trade Organization has told Canada that, in their opinion, the auto pact is violating trade law. There will be 90 days in which this will be eliminated. Surely you have discussed this at cabinet. Surely the government has an estimate of what impact the elimination of the trade pact will have.

I want you to answer the question. This will be the last time we will be able to question the government until April. If the auto pact is eliminated, what is the government's estimate of the impact on our auto business, and what is the provincial government doing about it? We need a clear, unequivocal answer now.

Hon Mr Hodgson: Everyone in this House and everyone in the province recognizes the importance of the auto sector to our economy. Unlike the provincial Liberals, who want to focus on the doom and gloom and the hypothetical-what if the sky falls in?-this government will actually work with our federal counterparts, like I told you in the first answer, to make sure that our interests are protected, that this key driver of our economy is maintained. We will actually take positive, constructive steps to make that happen, and it will take co-operation with the federal Liberals, with our trading partners and with our stakeholders to do it. As I told you before, Minister Palladini is actively working on this and will continue to work on it in the new year.

There is a tremendous amount of good news that has taken place in the last year, as Ontario has truly seen the contrast between your policies of doom and gloom, and the weak leadership of Dalton McGuinty, and our positive growth plans for the people of Ontario, and we will continue.

This is the last session, and in the Christmas spirit, I would like to wish you season's greetings and a great millennium.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Natural Resources): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know that the member from St Catharines would want this House to acknowledge the government House leader, Norm Sterling, without whose diligence and skilful negotiations, none of us would have been here all this week.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I'm sure our families thank him as well.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): On a similar point of order, Mr Speaker, I would like unanimous consent to acknowledge the fact that the government House leader had a little bit of help from the member for Broadview-Greenwood as well.


Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa): Just before I get into my question, I'd like to wish all the members who are here today the best of the season, a merry Christmas and the best in the new millennium, especially to our good friends in the Niagara region area, better known as the NRA.

My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. I have many constituents who enjoy taking part in the outdoor activity of ice fishing. As you know, Minister, Ontario offers the best ice-fishing opportunities in North America. It's a sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family and allows the opportunity to both enjoy this great outdoor activity and the companionship of those in the fishing party. As of a matter of fact, in Temagami I know that ice fishing is a greater industry than some of the summer resort industries in that area.

I know the importance of this recreation activity is not lost in your ministry. Have there been any regulation changes that will come into effect this season that will affect this activity?

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I don't think the Minister of Natural Resources is prepared for this, because he's really on thin ice on this issue.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): The Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Natural Resources): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and not to worry: When the government House leader rises, I can still see you.

On a serious note, Mr Speaker, I want to thank the member from Oshawa for the question. There are some new fishing regulations that will take effect in a number of bodies of water beginning January 1, 2000.

There will be new restrictions of one line only for ice fishing on Crane, Blackstone, Gliskning, Lobster and Livingstone Lakes. As well, the restriction of one line only for ice fishing will be lifted from Clean, Eyre, Little Clean and MacDonald Lakes.

Just two last points: The 2000 recreational fishing regulations summary can be picked up from the local district offices, or, in an attempt at great customer service, instead of dialling a seven-digit phone number, you can get it from the Web by dialling or dotting www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/pubs/pubmenu.html

Mr Ouellette: Thank you, Minister. Were those backslashes or foreslashes?

Minister, as you are aware, we've had some unseasonably warm temperatures. Ice fishing by its very nature requires ice to be of a safe thickness. As a matter of fact, just this week, in the riding of the member for Durham, we had our first vehicle go through the ice.

As well, I understand that many lakes that are most popular for this recreation have large patches of open water, such as Lake Simcoe, one of Ontario's premier fishing locations.

Could you tell this House what precautions anglers, and sledders, for that matter, should keep in mind when heading out this season?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I thank the member for Oshawa for the question. As the government House leader pointed out a little earlier, I have had some experience on thin ice and I can recommend that people not answer hypothetical questions or use words that might be taken out of context.

The ministry takes the safety of fishing as a very serious matter. One of the recommendations we have is that anglers, before they go out on the ice, check with the people who operate ice huts in that local area. They're experts and they know the local conditions and can help advise them.

Along with that, our people in the district offices are more than happy to help folks who want to go out and practise ice fishing safely. Our Midhurst office number is 707-725-7500, our Aurora office is at 905-713-7400, and the people there are expert and willing to help people fish safely in Ontario.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. You will recall that leading up to the final vote on Bill 25, members of all three parties from the region of Hamilton-Wentworth had been urging you to make a number of amendments. You, of course, decided not to allow any amendment. You didn't allow any public hearings. You didn't make any amendments yourself. It had to be your way or the highway.

In today's paper a spokesperson for your office, Karen Vaux, says, on your behalf, when she was asked whether or not there might be an expansion of the council, again an action that members from all three parties in the region had been urging you to take: "It's a possibility. I wouldn't rule it out at this point."

Minister, my question to you is this: First, will you confirm that indeed you are going to expand the council, that you were wrong in making it so small in the first place, particularly as it relates to the suburban communities in the new city of Hamilton? Second, for God's sake, will you give us a deadline as to when you're going to be finally finished with the restructuring?

Hon Frank Klees (Minister without Portfolio): It's because he wants to run for mayor.

Hon Tony Clement (Minister of the Environment, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing): This has been a paid political announcement, I'm sure.

Thank you very much to the honourable member for the question. Indeed, it was unfortunate that we were not able to seek agreement in this House to allow the amendments that this side of the House was willing and able to proceed with. Having crossed that Rubicon, we are in a position now where we have a bill that has passed this Legislature. It is now part of the public record and part of our laws of Ontario. It will be enacted in such a way as to be on time; the things that have to be in place for the beginning of January will be in place, the things that have to be in place for the middle of the year will be in place and the things that have to be in place for January 1, 2001, will be in place.

There has been considerable commentary that we have received from both suburban and rural communities, and indeed there's been a great deal of consensus about the size of council and what is appropriate. We have taken that under advisement and certainly the honourable member's suggestions will be taken under advisement as well.

Mr Christopherson: First of all let me say to you that there's nothing unfortunate about the fact that there weren't committee hearings; it was downright disgraceful and it was your responsibility. It's your fault. You decided to shut down democracy. So don't talk about it being unfortunate as if it were some sort of little minor mishap. You designed the process that way to ensure that no one on this side of the House nor anyone out in the public got any say whatsoever in your vision of what we ought to have in our community.

This is not the only issue that's outstanding, though. Let me remind you that your own words are pointing to the fact that Flamborough, for instance, may or may not be part of the new city, or a part of it may or may not be.

Again, I want to know from you today, first, if Flamborough is going to be given this right, is it your intention to extend that right to the other municipalities that make up the new city of Hamilton, and second, again, what is the deadline for this, rather than all these little hints that are floating around the community as to what might or might not happen?

Hon Mr Clement: Indeed, it was unfortunate, despite our best efforts. We tried to get committee hearings in place but it was not possible, it was not to be, and we feel very badly about that. Fortunately, there had been a lot of committee hearings, a lot of town hall meetings, a lot of constitutional assemblies even before this process took place, and of course the special advisers had over 1,600 submissions from the public in Ontario in the affected areas.

There are still some outstanding issues. The honourable member has made mention of that. The issue of Flamborough is still an outstanding issue. The issue of rural representation has been an outstanding issue. If I can pay some credit to the member for Stoney Creek, who has raised this issue quite vociferously as well, it is an issue for which we have regard and it is an issue about which we want to be fair to both the suburban and rural communities and the city of Hamilton as well in its whole. Thanks to the intercessions of the honourable member for Stoney Creek, I think we are closer to a resolution of this than we were a few days ago. But I can tell the honourable member that these are the kinds of issues that we want to have regard to so that we are fair and reasonable in implementing what I think is the best legislation for the region.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): New question-

Mr Christopherson: On a point of order, Speaker: Why didn't the minister do all these things before he rammed the bill through, if that's his intent?

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


Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): My question is to the Acting Premier regarding the police helicopter program in Hamilton-Wentworth. For the past 20 weeks this program has been shared between the regions of Peel, Hamilton-Wentworth and Halton. It has flown two nights a week in each of the three municipalities and has been a very successful 20-week pilot project in Hamilton-Wentworth. In that time period, there were over 250 responses to calls which involved a number of activities in pursuing criminals. It was also involved in about a $2-million seizure of marijuana plants in one of the fields. Thursday, December 16, was the last night for this program. It has now been grounded. Without provincial help, this program cannot take off again. The police helicopter cannot be flying. It has the strong support of Chief Robertson and Superintendent Mullan, who is in charge of the program and, I believe, the community as a whole. It has been a tremendously successful program. It has saved lives; it has saved money; it has helped police officers; it has helped our community. Will you today commit to restoring the funding to continue the program in Hamilton-Wentworth?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): As the member would know, or should know, this was one-time funding from the proceeds of criminal activity that are now being distributed to the police services for law enforcement and crime prevention. Money from the proceeds of crime has been used to contribute $250,000 for the Hamilton-Wentworth-Halton-Peel helicopter project. Our government has also given Hamilton-Wentworth almost $130,000 towards reduced impaired driving programs, $1.2 million from our partners in community safety grants. Through our community policing partnerships program, Hamilton-Wentworth Police Service now has 16 new front-line police officers. This government has done more to provide the police with the tools they need to do their jobs than the previous two governments combined.

Mr Agostino: Clearly, you don't understand how valuable this program is. A week ago this Legislature passed, rightly so, the Rick McDonald bill to deal with criminals fleeing police officers. The best tool that police officers have in the apprehension of criminals as they're trying to flee police is the helicopter. There is no tool better than that. It has a success rate in Hamilton-Wentworth that, in every single case it has been involved in, they have recovered the vehicle. There has not been one injury, there has been no damage, and in all but one case they made the arrest. So clearly it is beyond any question how successful it is.

You always talk the talk. You like to talk like the law-and-order guy, the big, tough guy on law and order. You have a real opportunity here to do something about it. The region cannot on its own afford the helicopter program. It is too expensive. They're coming to you and they need help from you, from the province. You talk the talk, that you take a great interest in policing. Now that you have an opportunity to do something, I'm astonished that you have closed the door on the Hamilton-Wentworth regional police force and said no to any future funding for the helicopter program. You don't understand how valuable it is. Here's your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Support the police force; support the police officers in Hamilton-Wentworth; support safety and a reduction in crime. Minister, stand up again today and tell us that you're going to extend-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Order. The member's time is up.

Hon Mr Hodgson: The member opposite knows full well that this government has done more for front-line law enforcement officers in this province than the previous two governments combined. He also knows, or should know, that when this program was initiated it was a pilot program. The municipalities we were talking to knew the ground rules going in, and they've benefited greatly from this pilot project. They will have to make their decision based on the results of this and prioritize their spending accordingly. This program has taken the proceeds from crime and enhanced the safety of that whole region. It's similar to projects we're doing right across this province to strengthen front-line policing to crack down on criminals.



Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): My question is directed to the Minister of Labour. Christmas is just around the corner. This year the stores and shopping malls in Ontario are absolutely filled to capacity with people buying gifts for their friends and loved ones, and that's mainly because more people are working in Ontario. In today's Toronto Sun, Michael Clement reports that more than 8.2 million Canadians will spend at least $600 million on Christmas gifts. The average being spent by Ontarians is $1,000, almost $200 more than the national average.

Considering this high level of consumer spending, this is putting a tremendous pressure on Santa's workshop. I'm concerned for all the busy elves who must keep up with this Christmas rush. Minister, what protection do we have in place in Ontario for these elves? Are they receiving proper overtime? Considering their small size, are these elves of age? What protections are in place for these workers in Ontario?

Hon Chris Stockwell (Minister of Labour): Thank you for the question. The Employment Standards Act applies to all workers and employers in Ontario. I might add it includes hours of work, minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation pay and of course public holidays. Occupational health and safety includes minimum age and requirements for all industries. There's information available at all local ministry offices, Ministry of Labour call centre, Ministry of Labour website, pamphlets, and of course fact sheets.

Interjection: What's your number?

Hon Mr Stockwell: It's not on here. The Ministry of Labour actively investigates complaints. But seriously, of course, all these acts and standards apply. It is a very busy period of time, particularly in the commercial sector, and they are included under all the primary statutes that are available in this province.

Thank you for the question. I wait with bated breath in anticipation of the supplementary.

Mr Galt: I also hope you have the question. Thank you very much, Minister, for your answer. I certainly hope that those elves save some energy for the millennium celebration.

Minister, despite the good news of the increase in spending on Christmas gifts this year, there still remains a great deal of concern as to how to keep businesses in rural Ontario. Recently in my riding an organized group of labour representatives demanded better paid and skilled jobs. It seems that despite the success of Ontario's economy, businesses are packing their bags for larger centres in the United States. Minister, is it possible that our labour relations in Ontario are not friendly enough to maintain or keep major industries here at home?

Hon Mr Stockwell: The member is way out of order with that sign she's holding up.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): Throw me out.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Be careful what you wish for.

The government priority is to create a better climate. The economy is booming: over 615,000 new jobs since 1995 and 177,000 so far this year; lower taxes; reduced barriers to business. My friend Mr Wood and his red tape committee, which we all support, are reducing all that kind of stuff.

Another component is the level playing field in labour relations. I know the NDP would agree with that, because for the last five years we've come a long way for a more level playing field than the-

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): Answer.

Hon Mr Stockwell: Answer?

Ontario enjoys a stable bargaining climate: 96% settlement rate without a lockout or strike, and only 515,000 lost person-days compared to 899,000 last year. We should all be proud of the Ministry of Labour. I know I am.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-St Clair): I want to take this last minute of question period to go back to the Deputy Premier. In 1963 the auto pact was signed by my predecessor from Windsor-St Clair. The auto pact has done more to advance prosperity in this province than anything this government has done. It is threatened today by the World Trade Organization. It has been in force throughout most of the 20th century. Will the Deputy Premier undertake today to state to this House what the government of Ontario is going to do to ensure that the protections afforded us in the auto pact are not stripped away by the World Trade Organization?

Hon Chris Hodgson (Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): We will do what we've continued to do for the last five years, and that's fight for the interests of Ontario. We will, I've mentioned, have Minister Palladini and the Premier himself talk to federal counterparts and try to get the federal Liberal government to live up to at least one responsibility that is truly federal, and that's international trade.

Given the fact that they might not stand up for Ontario's interests vitally enough, if that's your concern, I want to assure you that Premier Mike Harris and this caucus and my colleagues will fight for the interests of Ontario to make sure that we have sustained economic growth and opportunity right into the new millennium and for years to come. So merry Christmas.



Mr Mario Sergio (York West): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which I'd like to read.

"Whereas we are concerned about the quality of health care in Ontario; and

"Whereas we do not believe health care should be for sale; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is taking steps to allow profit-driven companies to provide health care services in Ontario; and

"Whereas we won't stand for profits over people;

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

"Do not privatize our health care services."

I concur with the petitioners and will affix my signature to this.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Broadview-Greenwood): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the first Environmental Commissioner appointed under the NDP's Environmental Bill of Rights, Eva Ligeti, courageously documented the Harris government's attack on environmental protection in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Harris government refused to reappoint Ms Ligeti, instead choosing a close political ally of the Premier to fill the position; and

"Whereas Ontario needs the Environmental Commissioner to serve as a tenacious watchdog on the government; and

"Whereas the former Conservative riding association president in the Premier's riding accepted thousands of dollars in political donations when he ran for the Mike Harris Tories from Falconbridge Ltd, Mallette Lumber, Timmins Forest Products, Abitibi-Price, Millson Forestry Service, Columbia Forest Products, Grant Lumber, Erocon Waste Management, Timmins Logging Inc, Westland Logging and Gaetan Levesque Logging; and

"Whereas, given the candidate's strong personal ties to the Premier of Ontario, the candidate cannot be trusted to protect Ontario's environment;

"We, the undersigned, call on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the nomination of Gord Miller as Environmental Commissioner, and to choose instead a highly qualified candidate with no political ties to the current government."

I agree with this and will affix my signature.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth-Burlington): I have a petition that I've read into the record before, so rather than do it again, I'll just paraphrase:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario."

It says, "Supercity bad; promise made, promise kept, good."

The bottom line is:

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

"The government of Ontario must keep its pre-election promises and accordingly not impose a supercity of Hamilton on the residents of the current region of Hamilton-Wentworth."

I affix my name to this petition as I fully support it.


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

"Whereas Mater's Mortgages investors have battled for a decade to receive compensation for their losses, which were incurred as a result of overzealous action on the part of an official in the Ministry of Financial Institutions, as was proven recently in a parallel criminal case;

"Whereas Mater's Mortgages investors believe that their civil action against the government of Ontario has been unduly and unnecessarily delayed in the courts by legal representatives acting for the government of Ontario;

"Whereas the new investors' committee of Mater's Mortgages Inc has requested that legal representatives of the government of Ontario meet with legal representatives of Mater's Mortgages investors to discuss the possibility of reaching an out-of-court settlement of the investors' civil case against the Ontario government;

"Whereas many Mater's Mortgages investors are senior citizens who placed their life savings in these investments and have suffered from extreme stress and financial hardship and continue to do so;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to encourage the government of Ontario to take immediate action to appoint a case manager to expedite the case involving the class civil action of the representatives of Mater's Mortgages investors against the government of Ontario.

"Further, we petition the Legislative Assembly to urge the government of Ontario to engage immediately in serious discussions with legal representatives of Mater's Mortgages investors with a view to reaching a fair out-of-court settlement with the investors and urge the government to instruct its legal representatives to cease any and all activity designed to prolong the duration of the case."

I affix my signature to this petition.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): I continue to receive petitions from auto workers all across Ontario, forwarded to me by Cathy Walker, their health and safety director.

"Whereas this year 130,000 Canadians will contract cancer and there are at minimum 17 funerals every day for Canadian workers who died from cancer caused by workplace exposure to cancer-causing substances (carcinogens);

"Whereas the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of all cancers have environmental causes and the International Labour Organization estimates that one million workers globally have cancer because of exposure at work to these carcinogens; and

"Whereas most cancers can be beaten if government had the political will to make industry replace toxic substances with non-toxic substances in work; and

"Whereas very few health organizations study the link between occupations and cancer, even though more study of this link is an important step to defeating this dreadful disease;

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

"That it become a legal requirement that occupational history be recorded on a standard form when a patient presents at a physician for diagnosis or treatment of cancer and that the diagnosis and occupational history be forwarded to a central cancer registry for analysis as to the link between cancer and occupation."

I continue to support these petitioners by adding my name to theirs.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale-High Park): To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government has eliminated tenant protections and removed rent control for vacant apartments;

"Whereas under these conditions landlords have an incentive to force current tenants out of their apartments;

"Whereas the use of the maximum rent provision under Mike Harris has become a form of harassment;

"Whereas rents are increasing to unaffordable levels as a result of maximum rent;

"Whereas some tenants are being forced out of their homes and having to choose between rent and food;

"We, the undersigned, call upon the Ontario government to abolish maximum rent and roll back the increases that have occurred under this provision since the new so-called `Tenant Protection Act.'"

I represent about 3,000 households to be hit with increases of 38%, and this Christmas will not be a very merry one as a result, so I'm very honoured to add my signature to theirs.

Mr Mario Sergio (York West): I have a petition delivered to my office with respect to the shortage of rental housing in Ontario. It's addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the current rental housing legislation in Ontario, the Tenant Protection Act, is unfair and does not serve the interests of tenants;

"Whereas tenants are being victimized by landlords who are securing excessive rent increases and not providing adequate services;

"Whereas the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal unfairly favours the interests of landlords;

"We, the residents of 2405 Finch Avenue West (Lori Gardens Tenants Association) petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"We urge the Ontario government to replace the Tenant Protection Act with legislation that protects the rights of tenants and ensures a fair balance between them and their landlords."

This petition is very appropriate. I concur and I will affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): I have another petition from my hometown of Hamilton.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the cuts to post-secondary education funding, as evidenced by the recent figures indicating an additional $800-million or $900-million cut, are making graduate study unattractive and increasingly inaccessible in Ontario; and

"Whereas the effects of these cuts seem to be correlated with increasing labour disputes on Ontario campuses such as York's faculty (1997), Trent's faculty (1998), Carleton's grounds and trades (1999), the impending strikes at the University of Toronto, and the current strike of McMaster University teaching assistants which began December 3 (this being the third strike at McMaster in 11 months); and

"Whereas the response by McMaster administration seems to be intransigence at the bargaining table, as evidenced by their delaying the commencement of negotiations for five weeks, cancelling seven of the first 13 meetings, requesting a no-board report at conciliation, forcing a ministry vote on their last tabled offer rather than continuing mediation talks, and after losing that vote refusing to return to the table until the union took two of its key issues off the table, thereby forcing teaching assistants to take strike action;

"Therefore, we, the undersigned, as executive, bargaining team and general members of CUPE Local 3906, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

"Help McMaster administration see their way back to the bargaining table by reinvesting in Ontario's post-secondary education system."

I add my name to those of the strikers and petitioners.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas patients requiring eye care in Niagara are faced with a shortage of ophthalmologists and as a result, are compelled to wait several weeks to secure an appointment with an ophthalmologist;

"Whereas, while the shortage of ophthalmologists is in existence, the removal of the billing cap on these medical specialists provides a temporary but essential easing of the health care crisis;

"Whereas the solution of the Ontario Ministry of Health removing the exemptions from the billing cap and forcing patients from Niagara to travel along the very busy Queen Elizabeth Highway to receive treatment in Hamilton is unacceptable;

"Be it resolved that the Ontario Ministry of Health remove the cap on billing for ophthalmologists in Niagara until such time as Niagara is no longer an underserviced area."

I affix my signature as I'm in complete agreement with this petition.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-East York): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the first Environmental Commissioner appointed under the NDP's Environmental Bill of Rights, Eva Ligeti, courageously documented the Harris government's attack on environmental protection in Ontario; and

"Whereas the Harris government refused to reappoint Ms Ligeti, instead choosing a close political ally of the Premier to fill the position; and

"Whereas Ontario needs the Environmental Commissioner to serve as a tenacious watchdog on the government; and

"Whereas the former Conservative riding association president in the Premier's riding is not likely to be a hard-hitting critic of the government's anti-environment policies;

"We, the undersigned, call on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the nomination of Gord Miller as Environmental Commissioner, and to choose instead a highly qualified candidate with no political ties to the current government."

I am in complete agreement with this and I've affixed my signature thereto.


Mr Mario Sergio (York West): I'm delighted to introduce another petition which I have received, this perhaps being the last one in this millennium. It is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it comes from teachers and parents in my community with respect to a number of school closings, which is quite appropriate, given the cuts of the Mike Harris government. I'd like to read it to the House.

"Whereas due to the Harris funding cuts to education, school boards are being forced to consider the closing of schools in the city of Toronto; and

"Whereas parents do not want the schools to close and fear for the chaos and crisis the Harris government is imposing on the education of their children; and

"Whereas there is apprehension and turmoil in the community that due to government rules to determine school capacity hundreds of students will have to find a new school come next September;

"Now, therefore we, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"We call upon the Minister of Education, who has the primary responsibility for providing a quality education for each and every student in Ontario to:

"(1) Listen to the views being expressed by teachers and parents who are concerned by the implications and disruptive effects the school closures will have on their children;

"(2) Recognize the fundamental importance of our local schools to our neighbourhood communities; and

"(3) Live up to its commitment to provide adequate funding for the important and essential components of a good education and not allow the closing of schools in our community."

This is quite appropriate. It confirms the cuts and how they are hurting our communities. I will affix my signature to it.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the community of Sarnia is witnessing many women developing mesothelioma and asbestosis as a result of the asbestos brought home on their husbands' work clothing; and

"Whereas similar cases are occurring in other areas of the province;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to allow compensation for family members who develop occupational illness as a result of workplace toxins inadvertently brought home."

As I'm in support of these petitioners, I add my name to theirs.


Mr Toni Skarica (Wentworth-Burlington): I have the last petition of the millennium. It's to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Again, it's regarding the supercity being bad and a promise made, a promise kept being good, and I want it noted for the record that the day this legislation passed all the needles fell off the Christmas tree in the Legislature and it had to be removed.

Finally, I read the petition:

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

"The government of Ontario must keep its pre-election promises and accordingly not impose a supercity of Hamilton on the residents of the current region of Hamilton-Wentworth."

I affix my name to the petition.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know it's not often that we mention individuals in this place, because often you can leave people out or there are events that are missed. But there was an occasion today that I'm sure the members from all parties here in the House would want to acknowledge. A woman who has worked in our caucus services now for 30 years left today, took an early retirement, and will not be returning. Anyone who knows Val Taylor will know that, yes, she can be as partisan as anyone, but she's also the kind of person who, if she got a call from an Ontarian from anywhere in the province who needed help, was the first one to provide it.

I just think on this occasion, on the eve of the Christmas break, and in recognition of 30 years of service on the front line, assisting parliamentarians and assisting Ontarians, we would all want to go on record as thanking Val for her contribution to the work we do here.

Thanks, Val. You've done a great job.

The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I'm sure all members join in wishing her well in her endeavours.


The Speaker (Hon Gary Carr): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her office.

Clerk Assistant (Ms Deborah Deller): The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:

Bill 39, An Act respecting the University of Ottawa Heart Institute / Projet de loi 39, Loi concernant l'Institut de cardiologie de l'Université d'Ottawa;

Bill Pr1, An Act to revive Harbourfront Trailer Park Ltd.;

Bill Pr6, An Act respecting the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario;

Bill Pr7, An Act respecting The Corporation of the Town of Pickering;

Bill Pr8, An Act to change the name of The Corporation of the Township of Burleigh-Anstruther-Chandos to The Corporation of the Township of North Kawartha;

Bill Pr13, An Act respecting Pembridge Insurance Company;

Bill Pr14, An Act respecting Blue Mountain Village Association;

Bill Pr15, An Act to change the name of The Corporation of the Township of Kincardine-Bruce-Tiverton to The Corporation of the Municipality of Kincardine.

The following is the title of a bill to which Her Honour did assent:

Bill 48, An Act to authorize the payment of certain amounts for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2000 / Projet de loi 48, Loi autorisant le paiement de certaines sommes destinées à la fonction publique pour l'exercice se terminant le 31 mars 2000.


Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government House Leader): Just prior to moving adjournment of the House, Mr Speaker, perhaps on behalf of all members of the Legislature I would like to thank, through you, all the staff of the Legislature: the clerks, all of the people who work here from day to day; the interpretation, security, the cleaning staff, all of the people who help us from day to day run this institution.

There's nothing regular about our hours, and we appreciate the flexibility and the efforts that the staff and the clerks have provided to us here in the Legislature.

May I, then, on behalf of the legislative members here, all 103 of us, wish you, your family and the families of all the people aforementioned the very best Christmas and the best holidays. I know the year 2000 is going to be an even better year, not only for Ontario, but for this Legislative Assembly as well.

May I move adjournment of the House?

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

This House stands adjourned until April 3 at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1524.